On Inauguration Day, 2017, it is likely that not 1 in 100,000 Americans was thinking about Russia.
It was the last thing most people were thinking about. The Cold War had ended peacefully more than 25 years before. Moscow was no longer America's main strategic rival as it had been for 50 years. Russia had been downgraded instead to the status of a regional power consumed with disputes with obscure places like Ukraine.
In the American media, there were more stories about Russian alcoholism than there were about Russian ICBMs. But in the White House in Washington that morning, Russia was very much the main topic.
It was January 20th, the last day of the Obama administration. Outgoing National Security Adviser Susan Rice sat down at her desk to write her final memo. Rice described the presidential transition which had been underway for months. Then she wrote this, during a meeting two weeks before: "President Obama said he wants to be sure that as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia."
Now, Rice does not explain why Obama's staff felt it might not be possible to give intelligence on Russia to Donald Trump's staff, or for that matter, why the Obama people thought they had the right to withhold national security information from an incoming American president who had just won a national election.
Most media outlets have ignored the origins of the Russia conspiracy hoax completely. And as a result of that, Barack Obama's plan to derail his successor unfolded with very little opposition along the way, including from Republicans. The entire country, therefore, spent the first three years of the Trump administration hyperventilating about Russian collusion that did not exist
But Rice didn't need to elaborate. There was only one possible explanation for this: Donald Trump could very well be a Russian agent. Barack Obama himself said he believed that was possible. In Rice's words: "The President asked [Jim] Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would."
Now, what exactly does that mean? Here is what it means. The president of the United States turned to the head of the FBI, the most powerful law enforcement official in America, and said continue to secretly investigate my chief political rival so that I can act against him. Comey's response? Yes, sir. That's what Obama was saying openly.
In any normal period in American history, this exchange would define Barack Obama forever. Obama would be known as the disgraced former president who used federal law enforcement to hurt his political enemies. That's what he did.
Unfortunately, this is not a normal period. Already Obama's order that Comey investigate Donald Trump has been relegated to a little known footnote. Joe Biden happened to be sitting in the room when this happened. Has Biden ever been asked about that? It's possible he never has been.
Most media outlets have ignored the origins of the Russia conspiracy hoax completely. And as a result of that, Barack Obama's plan to derail his successor unfolded with very little opposition along the way, including from Republicans. The entire country, therefore, spent the first three years of the Trump administration hyperventilating about Russian collusion that did not exist.
Susan Rice assiduously did her part to help it along. Here is Rice in July of 2017, a year and a half later, suggesting on network television the president of the United States was indeed working for Vladimir Putin.
Susan Rice, former U.S. National Security Adviser: He has taken a series of steps that, had Vladimir Putin dictated them, he couldn't have mirrored it more effectively. What his motivations are, I think is a legitimate question, one that I trust that the special counsel is investigating. But the policies that this president has pursued globally have served Vladimir Putin's interest in dividing the West, undermining democracy.
George Stephanopoulos, ABC News host: Does that mean you think it's an open question whether or not he is compromised by Russia?
Rice: George, I don't know what his motivations are. I think that's a legitimate question.
In fact, it was never a "legitimate question." It was a reckless slur, the most reckless possible slur -- the kind that damages a whole country along with a politician it is aimed at.
Because Michael Flynn correctly described Russia as a declining power, and then went on to criticize Susan Rice's close friends in the Chinese government, Susan Rice concluded that General Flynn must be a Putin spy.<br>This is idiotic, and it's crazy. It's hard to believe that Susan Rice was once a national security adviser of the United States, but she was.
Rice knew perfectly well, there was no evidence at all that Donald Trump had ever worked for Russia. We know that she believed that because she admitted as much under oath in a closed-door hearing in Congress. As Rice explained to the House Intelligence Committee, the reason she was willing to accuse Trump officials of treason against their own country was that some of them seemed to unduly worried about the rise of China.
Here's what Susan Rice, for example, said about General Michael Flynn: "General Flynn's focus was on China as our principal overarching adversary. He had many questions and concerns about China. And when I sought to elicit his perspective on Russia, he downplayed his assessment of Russia as a threat to the United States. He called it overblown. He said they're a declining power. They're demographically challenged. They're not really much of a threat and then re-emphasize the importance of China."
"I had seen enough at that point and heard enough to be a little bit sensitive to the question of the nature of General Flynn's engagements with the Russians."
Did you follow that? Because Michael Flynn correctly described Russia as a declining power, and then went on to criticize Susan Rice's close friends in the Chinese government, Susan Rice concluded that General Flynn must be a Putin spy.
This is idiotic, and it's crazy. It's hard to believe that Susan Rice was once a national security adviser of the United States, but she was.
Evelyn Farkas was once Barack Obama's deputy assistant secretary of defense. Farkas repeatedly went on television to say there was ample evidence the Trump administration was colluding with Russia. And yet, like Susan Rice, Farkas said something completely different under oath before Congress. "I didn't know anything," she admitted.
Now we quoted Evelyn Farkas saying that on this show on Friday. Farkas responded to us by claiming that we were "missing some key facts." Now originally, she agreed to come on and explain what those key facts might be. She is running for Congress now in New York. Unfortunately then, Evelyn Farkas backed out, but we fervently hope she comes back to tell us what those might be.
We'd like to speak to Barack Obama, too. That's unlikely, so we'll have to settle for what he has told his friends. On Friday, Obama had a purportedly private call with supporters that, of course, was immediately leaked to the media. In it, the man who sicced law enforcement on his political rivals accused the current administration of undermining the rule of law.
Barack Obama, former president of the United States: That's the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic -- not just institutional norms -- but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.
"Institutional norms." These people are nothing if not predictable. What you just heard, as always, was textbook projection. You see it again and again and again. What they accuse you of doing, they are eagerly doing themselves. "The rule of law," yelps Obama. It's almost amusing.
The press doesn't find it funny in the slightest. They see no irony at all. They repeat it verbatim with solemn faces.
Over the weekend, Chuck Todd of NBC accused the attorney general, Bill Barr, of gutting the rule of law, of ignoring it completely. And to prove that, Chuck Todd used what seemed to be quite a damning quote.
Chuck Todd, NBC News host: I want you to listen to this Bill Barr answer to a question about what will history say about this. Wait until you hear this answer? Take a listen.
Catherine Herridge, CBS News senior investigative correspondent: When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written?
William Barr, U.S. Attorney General: Well, history is written by the winners. So, it largely depends on who is writing the history.
Todd: I was struck, Peggy, by the cynicism of the answer. It's a correct answer, but he is the attorney general. He didn't make the case that he was upholding the rule of law.
"Struck by the cynicism." Chuck Todd, who is married to a political consultant, was just struck by the cynicism. He could barely believe it. He was stunned.
Bill Barr didn't even mention upholding the rule of law -- kind of a major omission for an attorney general. But wait -- it turns out that Bill Barr did mention the rule of law. It was at the center of his answer.
That was a CBS tape -- NBC got ahold of it and edited out the words to distort Bill Barr's meaning. We have the real tape. Here it is:
Herridge: When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written?
Barr: Well, history is written by the winner. So, it largely depends on who is writing the history, but I think a fair history would say it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law.
Yes, to be clear, Catherine Herridge did not edit that tape. She did a straightforward interview. NBC News edited the tape.
Now if you're shocked that a news network could be that openly and aggressively dishonest -- so buffoonishly dishonest -- then you haven't been paying very close attention for the past four years. They've been doing it since day one with the Russia hoax, and they don't plan to stop now.
Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on May 11, 2020.