While I rarely agree with Byron York on issues of policy, there have been times I’ve noted that he is one of the few conservatives who seems capable of getting outside the right’s epistemically enclosed bubble to catch a view of reality. He seems to have done just that with an article titled, “At this rate, it won’t matter if Trump colluded with Russia.”
York toes the Republican line in the beginning by expressing skepticism over claims that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.
The problem, for the confederation of Democrats, pundits, Obama holdovers, and NeverTrumpers who hoped to see that result, has been that so far, after a lot of investigating, no evidence has emerged that collusion actually occurred.
I’d suggest that he hold on to his hat on that one…things are just getting started.
But then York zeroes in on the events following Trump’s decision to fire Comey. He provides a useful reminder of things that happened in such quick succession.
First, the White House portrayed the firing as 1) not Trump’s doing, and 2) not related to the Russia investigation.
Then Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had in fact decided to fire Comey because “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”
Then, with accusations of obstruction in the air, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to investigate the Russia affair…
Then the New York Times reported that Comey wrote contemporaneous memos of his interactions with the president and that during one of those interactions Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Then the Times reported that Trump, in an Oval Office meeting, bragged to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador that firing Comey relieved Trump of “great pressure” in the Russia investigation.
Now, whether there was collusion or not, we have a case for obstruction of justice.
In conclusion, I’m not sure York is completely wrong about what might have happened if the president hadn’t brought this all down on himself.
Before Trump fired Comey, a likely conclusion of the Russia affair was coming into view. Flynn would be in trouble for his connections to Turkey and possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Former Trump campaign head Paul Manafort would be in trouble for some sort of shady business dealings in Ukraine. Maybe another figure or two from TrumpWorld would get into trouble, as well, but in ways tangential to the investigation. There would be scalps for Democrats to celebrate, but the most consequential issue — collusion — would end in nothing.
I suspect that York is trying to prepare Republicans for the inevitable results that are about to unfold with respect to Trump’s obstruction of justice. He’s also correct in suggesting that when/if the president is impeached, he will deserve it.