Emails released by Donald Trump Jr last week, just before they were published by the New York Times, make it clear that the Trump camp, at the very least, attempted to collude with the Russian government during last year’s presidential campaign. Cue complete crazy from the Russia-obsessed liberal media.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow described it as proof of “maybe the biggest American political scandal ever”. According to liberal journalist Jared Yates Sexton, the Trump Jr emails revealed “the dumbest and biggest crime in the history of American politics. There’s not even a close second”.

Left wing writer Corey Robin tried to help Sexton out with a quick list: “Slavery. Jim Crow. Indian extermination. Japanese internment. Hiroshima. Overthrow of Arbenz. Overthrow of Allende. Support for Salvadoran death squads. Support for Guatemalan genocide. Bombing of Cambodia”.

Robin’s list was excellent, but it didn’t get up to some of the more recent crimes: wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, house foreclosures, the poisoning of Detroit’s water, the obscene wealth of the 1 percent, police murders, mass incarceration, drone strikes and the surveillance state.

To liberals, though, these are dicey topics – subjects occasionally worth giving lip service to, but fundamentally dangerous and open to a radical interpretation that puts blame for the hardships facing American people as much on the Democrats as on Republicans.

Much better to talk about Russia.

The Trump-Russia connection is an opportunity to attack Trump and the GOP from the right, to demolish their patriotism, to invert Cold War McCarthyism and turn its rhetoric into a tool of anti-GOP liberal propaganda.

But more than that, it is an opportunity to derail the real resistance to Trump, to divert the anger of the millions who hate his agenda and want a real fightback into Democratic Party electoralism.

That is not to say that the Trump-Russia connection is not extraordinary or worthy of investigation.

Hostility to Russia is built into the DNA of the post-war US ruling class. The decades of the Cold War made hating, not just communism in general but Russia in particular, a national obsession.

The extent of collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is yet to be determined. But Trump’s links with elements of the Russian mafia-state are undeniable.

A remarkable article by Craig Unger in New Republic revealed that, “Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties”. According to Unger’s report:

“Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower – in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part.

“Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics.”

These links are just one more thing that make the fact Trump rose all the way to the presidency extraordinary.

There is great hypocrisy, of course. The US liberal establishment that complains about “interference” in its democratic processes, is, insofar as it represents the US political system as a whole, responsible for more foreign incursions in other country’s democratic processes than any other entity in human history. From CIA-backed “democratic movements” to enforced “regime change” at the hands of the US military, there is not a power in history that has exerted more influence over other people’s modes of governance than the US state.

But none of that bothers the ruling elite. Trump’s crime, as charged by the New York Times and the Washington Post, is not a crime against democracy in general, or even against the American people, but against the American empire. It’s that crime they consider unforgivable.