Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, talks to reporters. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Opinion writer

Collusion has become the Democrats’ Benghazi. Just as Hillary Clinton and her aides told some lies but weren’t ultimately to blame in the Benghazi tragedy, President Trump and his campaign did not collude with the Russians. Too bad for the Democrats that they can’t learn from how Republicans mishandled and overplayed the Benghazi affair. In the same way Benghazi became an obsession for many in the GOP, the idea of collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin is now baked into the Democratic psyche. No matter what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III finds, Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media will never accept that Trump didn’t collude with the Russians.

Democrats are already operating on the basis that collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is a foregone conclusion — but not because they believe it. Just as it would have been heresy for a Republican to admit that Hillary was not to blame for Benghazi, Democrats are now in a position where they will draw the ire of the party’s most zealous members and risk primary challenges from the left if they question the certainty of Trump’s collusion with Russia. Democrats who want to avoid intra-party trouble are relying on dishonest hyperbole and tangential facts to build their defenses.

If Democrats win one house in Congress this year, they are likely to form a special committee that will investigate Trump and Russia just as Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) did with Benghazi. The result will be a massive waste of time that will serve no useful purpose. The Democrats’ compulsive collusion quest will not only inhibit our ability to right-size the United States’ relationship with Russia, but fuel the cynicism that weakens the American political fabric.

Already, Democrats are suggesting they may publish a minority report from the House Intelligence Committee detailing what they see as the inadequacies of the Russia probe. Even occasionally rational Democrats like Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) have said investigators “are getting closer and closer to connecting the dots.” Really? Connecting the dots to what exactly? The fact is, Democrats are obsessed with Trump generally and Russia specifically. And it appears unlikely that anything Mueller ultimately reports will give the Democrats pause. They aren’t going to move on and pick another battle.

As I’ve said before, the quest for collusion is dead and done. If there was collusion, we would know it by now. But liberals just can’t admit it. They ignore facts, distort reality and cheer each other on. It is the mirror image of what the GOP did with Benghazi. Republicans flogged that horse for too long. Ultimately, the partisan clamoring around the Benghazi incident became a disservice to the party and to the country. Democrats are unable to recognize that they are doing the same thing, and nobody will win as a result.