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Byron York: Trump derangement syndrome in a post-Trump world

By Byron York

President Trump is now former President Trump. With Joe Biden now President Biden, Democrats control the White House, the House and the Senate. An ambitious agenda lies ahead for the new Democratic administration. And yet there are signs that some Democrats’ obsession with Donald Trump — the condition known as Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS — will remain as strong, or perhaps become stronger, now that Trump has left the White House.

Exhibit A is the fact that Democrats plan to hold an impeachment trial for the president after he has left office. They plan to use the Constitution’s method for removing a president when he is already gone.

But that is not the only sign of lingering TDS. Look at a new conversation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, on Clinton’s podcast, “You and Me Both.” There was much to discuss about the Biden agenda, but Trump dominated the conversation. The two reached back into the Trump-Russia matter — what the president calls the “Russia hoax” — to call for yet another investigation.

“I hope, historically, we will find out who [Trump is] beholden to, who pulls his strings,” Clinton said. “I would love to see his phone records to see whether he was talking to [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol.”

Clinton’s theory was that the Russians, acting through their puppet, the president of the United States, were behind the Capitol riot. “Do you think we need a 9/11-type commission to investigate and report everything that they can pull together and explain what happened?” she asked Pelosi.

“I do,” Pelosi said. Now, if by “what happened,” she meant the Capitol riot itself, there is no doubt there will be a commission investigating the events of Jan. 6. There is, indeed, a lot to investigate. But Pelosi veered immediately toward her old obsession: Trump and Putin.

In an extraordinary monologue, Pelosi went back to an October 2019 meeting at the White House in which she, dressed in a blue suit and sitting across from the president, rose, pointed her finger at him and stormed out of the room. “To your point of who was he beholden to,” Pelosi told Clinton, “as I said to him in that picture with my blue suit, as I was leaving, what I was saying to him as I was pointing — rudely — at him, ‘With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin.’ I don’t know what Putin has on him politically, financially or personally. But what happened last week was a gift to Putin, because Putin wants to undermine democracy in our country and throughout the world. And these people, unbeknownst to them, they are Putin puppets. They were doing Putin’s business when they did that at the incitement of an insurrection by the president of the United States. So yes, we should have a 9/11 commission.”

What to say? Perhaps in Nancy Pelosi’s mind, all roads lead to Putin. But remember that there has been a House investigation of Trump and Russia, as well as a Senate investigation and a special counsel investigation. All searched for that much-hoped-for Putin connection that would prove “collusion” in the 2016 campaign. Two investigations were by Congress, with its limited investigative powers, but the third, by special counsel Robert Mueller, had all the authority of U.S. law enforcement. And none — none — could establish that “collusion” took place.

That obviously has not stopped Democrats from making the allegation. How could they repeat something every single day for four years and then simply abandon it? Now, the speaker of the House is giving the clear indication that she intends to send a legitimate investigation into the events of Jan. 6 down the Russia rabbit hole. There has been much discussion about whether Republicans will be able to move on from Trump, whether they will be able to give him up once he leaves the presidency. Perhaps the bigger question is whether Democrats will be able to do that.

Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

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