Was That Wrong?

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There’s something emerging in the right-wing media, especially something from prominent voices in the right-wing media who talk regularly to talk to President Trump and his entourage. That is a new line of defense – public, if not legal – in the Russia probe which is basically this: “if Trump colluded with Russia, it wouldn’t be a crime. In fact, it might be awesome.”

I’ve heard things drifting in this direction for some time. But it reached a new level when I noticed Media Matters flagging Sean Hannity adopting this as his new line of argument.

Here’s the passage Media Matters grabbed from Hannity’s radio show

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I never understood it anyway. What was the collusion? That maybe somebody in the Trump campaign talked to somebody in Russia because Russia supposedly had the information that Hillary Clinton had destroyed on her server when she committed a felony and tried to cover up her crimes? And that they might say as a Trump campaign representative, “wow you have that? Tell the American people the truth. Let them see it themselves, release it.” Is that a crime, to say “release it”? To show the truth? To show damaging information?

And he’s not the only one. Media Matters have other recent examples, including Fox’s Brit Hume. Here’s Hume asking what the investigation is even about in a conversation with Bob Woodward and Jennifer Griffin.

What crime? Can anybody identify the crime? Collusion, while it obviously would be alarming and highly inappropriate for the Trump campaign to — of which there’s no evidence, by the way, of colluding with the Russians — it’s not a crime.

Now, obviously people say all sorts of crazy things, especially on Fox News. Hannity is a complete clown. So on one hand it may seem hard to draw any real conclusion based on his latest nonsense. But the thing is we know he talks to people in Trump’s circle a lot and he seems to have some kind of on-going conversation with Trump himself. In so many words, I don’t think this is just Hannity’s nonsense: I think these are essentially trial balloons from Trumpland. Just how formal and deliberate a policy this is, I don’t know. Is this just what the Trump people are saying among themselves and among their pals? Or is it a more concerted effort to prepare the ground? I suspect it’s a combination of the two.

Can I prove this? I can’t. I base this solely on knowing that this is how defenses tend to emerge in scandals like this. It says volumes about where this is going.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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