The New York Times' blockbuster report that the FBI opened an investigation into whether President Trump is a secret Russian agent is, like most Trump-Russia blockbusters, ultimately devoid of much substance.
Almost immediately after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the Bureau reportedly "became so concerned by the president’s behavior began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation."
And who was pushing for the opening of this investigation? Why, anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok, of course. As CNN reported:
While the FBI launched its investigation in the days after Comey's abrupt dismissal, the bureau had previously contemplated such a step, according to testimony from former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who was dismissed from Mueller's team and later fired over anti-Trump text messages, texted Page in the hours after Comey's firing and said: "We need to open the case we've been waiting on now while Andy is acting," a reference to then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
That case apparently produced no evidence suggesting that Trump was a Russian agent and seems motivated far more by anger at Comey's firing than a genuine belief that the President was doing Vladimir Putin's bidding.
Robert Mueller, named as special counsel a little more than a week after Comey's firing, has not pursued the "Trump is a Russian agent" angle and has not charged a single member of either Trump's campaign or presidential administration with anything related to "collusion" with Russia.
In fact, both times Mueller pursued charges against Russians in connection with actual election tampering, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was careful to say that no Americans were involved with, or even knew about, what the Russians were up to.
When he announced charges against 13 Russians for "attempting to promote discord" among Americans in the run-up to the 2016 election, he cautioned that "there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election."
Similarly, when he announced indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers in June, he said "there is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime."
Those have been the only two indictments related to actual election tampering, and in announcing both, Rosenstein went out of his way to say that no Americans were involved in the plot.
Why is that? If members of the Trump campaign (or even Trump himself) were involved in this, why not charge them? Why preclude the possibility that any American was involved in this plot?
The answer is simple: Because no American was involved in this plot.