Durham’s Dry Hole and the Trump-Russia Connection
There is very likely much more to the story of Trump and Russia than what has so far become public. A well-funded investigation to look into this further would be justified—much more so than an investigation, which has come up dry, into supposed witch-hunting by the U.S. bureaucracy.
The “No collusion!” criers may construe the word collusion in an improbably narrow way, but this semantic contortion does not negate the fact that Trump and his circle encouraged, welcomed, facilitated, and exploited a foreign power’s interference in a U.S. election. This is far removed from what is the only proper response to any such interference or attempted interference, which is to rebuff it and report it. An example of the proper response to even the mere idea of such interference was that of President George H.W. Bush and his chief of staff, James Baker, when during the 1992 election campaign they firmly rejected a proposal from some Republican congressmen to seek dirt on Bill Clinton from foreign governments, including that of Russia.
A proper response also entails supporting and respecting investigations into such interference, rather than trying to impede the investigations and to denigrate the investigators. Here a good example to follow is the response of Al Gore and Bill Clinton to the issue of possible Chinese interference in the election of 1996.
Dallying with the Russians to get elected in 2016 is not the most serious harm that Donald Trump inflicted on American democracy—that would be his attempt to overturn the election that he lost in 2020. But any foreign interference in this country’s elections is serious indeed, as is any American politician’s condoning or exploitation of it. There is very likely much more to the story of Trump and Russia than what has so far become public, as is strongly suggested by the unusual lengths to which Trump went to keep his dealings with Russian president Vladimir Putin secret even from U.S. officials. A well-funded investigation to look into this further would be justified—much more so than an investigation, which has come up dry, into supposed witch-hunting by the U.S. bureaucracy.
Paul Pillar retired in 2005 from a twenty-eight-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Earlier he served in a variety of analytical and managerial positions, including as chief of analytic units at the CIA covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. Professor Pillar also served in the National Intelligence Council as one of the original members of its Analytic Group. He is also a Contributing Editor for this publication.