While most observers think that the person most hurt by the testimony of James Comey to the United States Senate was actually former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Washington Examiner noted that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews concluded that the former FBI Director had pretty much shot down the Trump “Manchurian Candidate” conspiracy theory. “There is no there-there,” he concluded. The Trump-Russian collusion theory is now as dead as Julius Caesar.

The ‘Manchurian Candidate’ theory

Many Democrats, particularly those involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign, blame a Russian cyberwar campaign for the defeat of the Democratic candidate.

The theory goes on to suggest that the Trump campaign colluded with agents of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. In return for the presidency, Trump agreed to do Putin’s bidding as surely as if he was Raymond Shaw asked to play a little solitaire.

The Trump-Russia collusion theory comes apart

Matthews, no friend of Donald Trump, based his conclusion on several points Comey made during his testimony. Comey suggested that at no time did President Trump attempt to impede his investigation into the Russian collusion matter. The president even encouraged the investigation. Comey also noted that fired former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was not at the heart of the investigation. Comey said that he had told the president on a number of occasions that he was not the subject of the investigation.

As Matthews concluded, "there is no there-there."

Where does the conspiracy theory go from here?

Robert Mueller, the special counsel, will continue his investigation into the Russia matter. He may find a lower level Trump official involved inappropriately with Russian officials. He may catch someone in a perjury trap, as some previous special counsels have.

Or Mueller might even conclude, as Matthews has, that there is no there-there and wrap things up.

Conspiracy theories are usually impervious to the facts. Many people believed that a conspiracy of right-wing businessmen and irritated Cubans killed President Kennedy. Others think that the moon landings were faked. Still, others conclude that 9/11 was an “inside job” based on a misunderstanding of physics.

No doubt, the image of Donald Trump receiving instructions from Putin through his American handler will be too beguiling to be allowed to die.

The paranoid style in American politics used to refer to right-wingers and their obsession with Soviet conspiracies. But increasingly, that style is manifesting on the left more than the right. The loss of an election being blamed on Russian agents colluding with American traitors is something wild enough to make the late and unlamented Joe McCarthy smile with glee, but the idea is not something to be taken seriously.