New York Times columnist warns of hysteria around Trump, Russia

New York Times columnist warns of hysteria around Trump, Russia
© Getty

A conservative New York Times writer who has fiercely criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE warned in a Tuesday column that the Washington political class is in hysterics over Russia and looking to circumvent the Democratic process with an investigation that has so far failed to turn up any evidence of collusion.

David Brooks, who has in the past likened Trump to authoritarian “strongmen” such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and North Korea's Kim Jong Un, said Trump is now getting a raw deal from his political enemies and the press.

Brooks said there is no evidence to support the original allegations that Trump and his associates colluded with Moscow to steal the 2016 election and accused D.C.'s political class of “replacing the politics of democracy with the politics of scandal” in an effort to sink the president.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There is something disturbingly meta about this whole affair,” Brooks wrote. “This is, as Yuval Levin put it, an investigation about itself. Trump skeptics within the administration laid a legal minefield all around the president, and then Trump — being Trump — stomped all over it, blowing himself up six ways from Sunday.”

A special counsel led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller and a growing staff of the nation’s top criminal lawyers are ostensibly investigating Russian meddling in the election and whether some Trump campaign officials had improper contacts with Moscow.

But recent media reports indicate Trump has become a target for tampering with the investigation in an effort to clear his name and to get his friend, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, off the hook for a litany of allegations pertaining to foreign lobbying.

“Even if you took a paragon of modern presidents — a contemporary Abraham Lincoln — and you directed a democratically unsupervised, infinitely financed team of prosecutors at him and gave them power to subpoena his staff and look under any related or unrelated rock in an attempt to bring him down, there’s a pretty good chance you could spur even this modern paragon to want to fight back,” Brooks wrote. “You could spur even him to do something that had the whiff of obstruction.”

Brooks, who served as the editor for The Wall Street Journal’s conservative opinion page during the special counsel investigation into former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits MORE’s real estate deals, described that Whitewater probe as “overblown” in hindsight.

“And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington,” Brooks said.

“There may be a giant revelation still to come,” he continued. “But as the Trump-Russia story has evolved, it is striking how little evidence there is that any underlying crime occurred — that there was any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians. Everything seems to be leaking out of this administration, but so far the leaks about actual collusion are meager.”

Brooks laid much of the blame for the frenzy in Washington at the feet of the press.

“It’s easy to build ratings if you are a glorified Court TV, if each whiff of scandal smoke generates hours of 'Breaking News' intensity and a deluge of speculation from good-looking former prosecutors,” Brooks said. “The politics is great for those forces responsible for the lawyerization of American life. It takes power out of the hands of voters and elected officials and puts power in the hands of prosecutors and defense attorneys.”

And he said Trump may end up being vindicated.

“Things are so bad that I’m going to have to give Trump the last word,” he wrote. “On June 15 he tweeted, 'They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story.' Unless there is some new revelation, that may turn out to be pretty accurate commentary.”