By all accounts, even from his most devoted propagandists in the news media, Special Counsel Robert Mueller soon is expected to release a report that will devastate Trump antagonists who have been convinced his investigation would result in the president’s removal from office. They are bracing themselves to hear two words from the special counsel that just a few months ago seemed inconceivable: No collusion.
The idea that a nearly two-year long probe conducted by a team of partisan, Trump-hating prosecutors empowered with an unending supply of public resources and shielded from any legitimate scrutiny will come up empty-handed is causing great angst in the Acela Corridor. The List of Shame—journalists, editors, cable news contributors, Democratic lawmakers, and NeverTrump operatives who’ve foisted this outrageous farce on the American people—is long and ignominious.
One man who in many ways sits at the center of this manufactured storm is Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of eBay. After Trump won the election, an outcome Omidyar tried to prevent by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars against Trump in 2016, the Hawaiian-based mogul ratcheted up his opposition to the president through a network of nonprofits.
One of his missions has been to stoke the Trump-Russian collusion conspiracy in an effort to derail Trump’s presidency. “Over the past two years, I have seen alarming and sometimes unprecedented violations of our country’s democratic norms,” wrote Joe Goldman, president of Democracy Fund, one of Omidyar’s well-funded foundations, last summer. “For an organization committed to strengthening democracy on behalf of the American people, this isn’t just disturbing—it’s humbling.”
Goldman disclosed that Democracy Fund has awarded $100 million in grants to dozens of politically oriented groups in just the past four years. (Omidyar’s net worth is about $10 billion.) Several Omidyar-backed outlets have been instrumental in shaping positive news coverage about the Mueller investigation, as well as fueling the notion that Russia somehow poses the most dire threat to the future of the republic and that Trump is a willing agent of Vladimir Putin.
Among Omidyar’s shrewdest moves was to co-opt a number of outcast Republicans who were bitter that Trump won the presidential election over their strong objections. This list includes once-influential Republican officials and lawmakers, as well as conservative opinion-makers and consultants. Since Trump’s surprise election, they have aided the Left in attempting to drive Trump from office. Their greatest hope has been Robert Mueller.
Omidyar’s most dependable stooge on that score has been Bill Kristol, the founder of the now-defunct Weekly Standard. Last year, one of Omidyar’s funds gave $600,000 to an outlet Kristol created to pimp for the Mueller probe. That group, Defending Democracy Together, aired several television ads to tout Mueller’s alleged sterling reputation and to urge lawmakers to protect the special counsel from Trump. (The Bulwark, Kristol’s latest media venture, is a project of Defending Democracy Together’s nonprofit. Charles Sykes, The Bulwark’s editor, sits on the advisory committee for Omidyar’s Democracy Fund.)
As a regular contributor to both CNN and MSNBC, Kristol routinely has warned that Mueller’s various inquiries into Trump family member and associates would spell doom for the president.
“I do think things have changed, the reality has changed,” Kristol opined in August after Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a number of non-Russia related crimes. “How do we know it’s not Russia? Michael Cohen seems to be cooperating . . . he may well know about the Trump Tower meeting. He has contemporaneous knowledge and probably documentary evidence . . . on the collusion side.”
Kristol also is an advisor for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which also has received $600,000 from Omidyar since 2017. Other Mueller fanboys including former Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff and David Kramer, a John McCain associate who helped disseminate the infamous Steele dossier in late 2016, also worked with Kristol on that project.
Several NeverTrumpers are aligned with the Niskanen Center, a nominally libertarian D.C.-based think tank that has received at least $200,000 from Omidyar. Board members include vocal Trump-haters on the Right, including David Frum, Tom Nichols, Mindy Finn, and Eliot Cohen, all of whom have vouched for the credibility of the Mueller probe and predict it will doom Trump’s presidency.
In an op-ed for USA Today in January, Nichols hilariously claimed the Russians must have compromising material on the president, called the deep state “nonsense” and blasted Republicans for “attacking the men and women of the FBI.” Writing for The Atlantic in August 2018, Frum concluded that “collusion itself is above all a threat to national security: the installation of a president beholden to some greater or lesser degree to a hostile foreign power.”
In November 2017, the Niskanen Center posted a public letter signed by more than two dozen NeverTrumpers demanding that congressional Republicans prevent any White House interference with Mueller’s work. “It is morally imperative that the Republican Party and the conservative movement stand as bulwarks of the rule of law, not enablers of its erosion and violation. Now is the time for choosing,” they warned. Other signers included Max Boot, Mona Charen, and Evan McMullin. (Finn and McMullin are the beneficiaries of other Omidyar projects as well.)
All have appeared on cable news shows, on political websites, and in national newspapers since May 2017 to insist that Mueller and/or congressional investigators will soon expose the nefarious links between Trump and the Kremlin. “It has become an article of faith in some quarters on the right—well, most—that Robert Mueller’s investigation has found no evidence of collusion with Russia and has accordingly shifted gears to process crimes like lying to the FBI or obstruction of justice,” Charen, a National Review contributor, wrote in December. “Having decided that this must be true, many have called for Mueller to wrap it up. But this requires a lot of wishful thinking.”
The R Street Institute received $650,000 in 2017 from Omidyar’s Democracy Fund. The nonprofit is a conservative/libertarian think tank with offices across the country. The group criticized as “rank politics” the February 2018 memo by then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that exposed the political roots of the fabricated collusion story and claimed the memo was an attempt to undermine “the basis for the Mueller investigation.”
Paul Rosenzweig, a senior fellow at R Street, is also an outspoken defender of Mueller and an avowed Trump foe. Rosenzweig joined George Conway, the husband of Trump confidant Kellyanne Conway, and other “conservative” lawyers last year to form yet another group opposed to the president. “If there were a conspiracy, then the order to reach out to Roger Stone might be an overt act that would make the conspiracy complete,” Rosenzweig told Vice News last month.
Protect Democracy houses a glittering array of NeverTrump cheerleaders for the collusion hoax; Charen, Linda Chavez, McMullin, Finn, Matthew Dowd, and Watergate relic John Dean are among a cast of characters that “engage in specific projects” for the outlet, which received $400,000 in 2017 from Omidyar. Dean, an advisor to Michael Cohen, told CNN last week that Trump’s former lawyer would tell Congress that Trump committed crimes while in the Oval Office. Dowd predicted right before Mueller’s appointment in May 2017 that calls for Trump’s impeachment will build.
Omidyar’s reach also extends to left-leaning think tanks, media outlets and policy groups, which will be outlined in a forthcoming story. But his craftiest move was to enlist gullible, if not dishonest, mouthpieces in the NeverTrump movement to bolster the special counsel, admonish Americans that doomsday was coming, and help do inestimable damage to the country in the process. Their reputations deserve to suffer the same embarrassing fate as the Mueller investigation itself.
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