Home / General / What We Know Now Is a Major Scandal, And the Truth is Probably Much Worse

What We Know Now Is a Major Scandal, And the Truth is Probably Much Worse

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I have a piece at the Week perpetuating the McCarythite Birtherist witch hunt against the Trump campaign, whose serial lying about contacts with Russia surely has an innocent explanation:

The story of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections in favor of Donald Trump and the Republican party continues to become more tragic and more farcical. On Friday, it was revealed that the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and top Trump campaign operatives Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner was also attended by Rinat Akhmetshin, an American citizen and accused spy who is connected to the Kremlin. Then, on Sunday, the Secret Service denied having vetted the meeting, a claim made earlier in the day by President Trump’s legal team.

As more details of the meeting continue emerge, and the lies by Trump Jr. and the Trump team keep piling up, it’s looking more and more likely that there was significant collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian state, and it is now beyond dispute that the Trump campaign wanted to collude with the Russians. This alone is already a huge political scandal, and things are likely to keep looking worse for Trump than better.

One thing that’s remarkable about this is that the focus on “collusion” is in large measure the result of goalpost-moving by the Trump administration and its apologists. It was never necessary for collusion to be proven for this to be a major scandal. There is overwhelming evidence that Russia used illegal, privacy-invading hacks to help skew the election in the favor of Trump and congressional Republicans — which, particularly in a presidential election decided by fewer than 100,000 votes in three states, is a huge deal. And we also know that Trump and other campaign associates openly invited and cheered the hacks and their release by WikiLeaks, and we also know that Trump isn’t interested in punishing the Russians for their interference in the election. All of this is really bad. Talking about collusion was a way of changing the subject that was valuable for Trump in part because collusion would apparently be much harder to prove.

The problem is that Trump’s associates are so corrupt and incompetent that the tactic has backfired. Earlier this year, Trump Jr. denied that the meeting Akhmetshin attended even took place. This week, his lies kept unravelling as he admitted to what had been proven, while making further claims which would immediately be disproven. In short order, Trump Jr. admitted that the meeting with a Russian official took place but said it was about adoptions, and then admitted that actually, the Trump campaign was seeking dirt on Clinton from the Russians, but only after leaked emails gave him no choice. Revealing that Akhmetshin was at the meeting constitutes a lie by omission at best.

Still, I support a full investigation!

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  • twbb

    “One thing that’s remarkable about this is that the focus on “collusion” is in large measure the result of goalpost-moving by the Trump administration and its apologists.”

    That has been one of the most frustrating parts of this in that the RWNJ echo chamber started, and eventually the mainstream media started echoing it. And of course, the Dems are following their standard “shh, give them enough rope to hang themself” thing.

    • McAllen

      And of course, the Dems are following their standard “shh, give them enough rope to hang themself” thing.

      Normally this would annoy me, but there seems to be a lot of rope.

      • BigDaddyJ

        And, given that “but the Dems!!!1” is the usual excuse trope for all of this behavior, keeping quiet might not be completely insane (despite it driving me crazy, too).

        • Captain Oblivious

          IMO the smart thing for Dems to do is start throwing words like treason and patriotism around, just like the GOP used to do to us. Dial back on the impeachment talk, which sounds partisan.

          • mattmcirvin

            Everything we can possibly do or not do is exactly the wrong thing to do or not do, it says here.

    • Sue.K.Mabels

      So is the non-RWNJ media in actual-factual cahoots with all this, or are they
      just recklessly incompetent? Seems to me that functionally, whoever owns the media also owns public opinion.

      • Bri2k

        And just about all of our national media is owned by oligarchs who support the Republican agenda.

        • diogenes

          Yup, and the rot goes all the way down to the talking heads. Chuck Todd had all Republicans on Meet the Press yesterday.

          He wants his tax cut, too.

          • Sue.K.Mabels

            And that being said, what can anyone do about it? What are the tactics against it?

      • sanjait

        Yes.

  • Downpup E

    We’re now into the phase where we look at all the benefits Russia is getting by owning a US president.
    Which is something so beyond awful that you would think even the Republican Party would be upset.
    You would be wrong.

    • twbb

      They are upset, but they are more upset about the idea of losing power for a generation. The best-case scenario they fantasize about is Trump loses enough popularity that they can get rid of him, but not get blamed by his deplorables in 2018 and 2020.

      • AMK

        They’re not upset, and it isn’t just a matter of their political strategy.

        Modern Russia is a model for the modern Republican Party–an entho-nationalist flat-tax authoritarian oligarchy with a powerful quasi-state church, a petro-economy and a massively bloated security sector. If you’re Steve King or Paul Ryan or most of the people in the Party between them, getting into bed with Russia just makes far more sense than the traditional alliance system with Britain or France, which is based on mutual defense of Enlightenment concepts that lend themselves to people who are not rich white Christians having equal rights, at least semi-progressive taxation and a degree of meaningful market regulation.

        And of course Russia knows this perfectly well, which is why their intervention was so effective.

    • Cervantes

      Exactly. None of this matters as long as the Republicans in congress continue to prop up the Trumpian edifice, which they are obviously determined to do. Meanwhile the corporate media is more than happy to collude with goalpost moving, and they’ll keep doing that until there is a criminal conviction upheld on appeal. Which can never happen due to the pardon power.

      The only thing that does matter is the 2018 election.

      • Downpup E

        Russia having Trump’s balls in a jar matters. The crimes of Russian kleptocrats getting waved off by the Justice Department matter. Switching sides in Syria matters. Siding with the Saudis against Qatar, and maybe shutting down Al Jazeera matters. The open efforts to rig upcoming elections matter. The total abandonment of even token support for human rights anywhere matters.

        A lot of horrible stuff coming down is standard Republican policy. A fair amount is following Russia’s desires and openly moving towards fascism.

        • Cervantes

          I obviously meant that it doesn’t matter as far as changing the power balance in D.C. But presumably you understood that.

  • It is amazing that some people still expect us to give the benefit of the doubt to people who ‘ve been caught lying repeatedly about this.

    Ironically, at this point the actual Russian hack part of the story is the weakest link. True, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence but since a lot of that by nature comes from pretty shadowy sources one could say there’s more than a shadow of a doubt there. But there is no doubt that the Trump campaign sought to work with the Russians to win the election, and there is no doubt that Trump has attempted to obstruct justice to block investigation of this issue.

    • Thirtyish

      “Come on, baby, give me another chance. You owe it to me.”

    • Downpup E

      The excuses and outs are endless. Like squirrels. How to deal with squirrels? Maybe Mary Worth has advice. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb40be1de14dd758ce9c30c913c2b7a840c15dbd656d13c18df236616c2de7c3.jpg

    • efgoldman

      at this point the actual Russian hack part of the story is the weakest link.

      I have thought since the beginning that Mueller’s (and Schneiderman’s) investigations will eventually lead to financial crimes, probably reporting violations and money laundering, as the major felonies. The perjury before congress, lying on forms, and seeking foreign campaign dirt will be used for ways in an leverage.

  • Joe Paulson

    Lot of spinning — well, you know, it isn’t clear that what Jr. did was illegal, well, given what we know, and a somewhat narrow definition … and come on, got to admit Ann Coulter was mistreated by Delta.*

    Meanwhile, on a basic level, Republicans don’t have any legitimacy. That is a basic overhanging thing, even if in the short term it doesn’t matter on a basic level (see 1/9 of SCOTUS).

    * And, Hillary. Come on.

    • John F

      Sure, she paid $30 for extra leg room they didn’t give to her…

      but her reaction- taking photos of fellow passengers and publicly attacking them?

      Coulter’s story is/should be just an extra data point in how Airlines suck, however, instead off being about Delta the story has become about how much of a self-centered #### Coulter is.

      • mirele

        She’s been whining on Twitter about how she spent $10,000 of her time getting that seat. I have to stop rolling my eyes because they’re going to get stuck.

        • howard

          i assume that coulter gets $50k/speech, and the speech might last an hour, so the idea that she spent 12 minutes getting the seat does make sense.

          anything beyond that doesn’t….

          • Eric K

            Yeah, but it is still BS logic, similar to how they always say that NCAA tourney pools cost billions in productivity.

            It assumes she could be making speeches 24×7 and spends every minute of every day getting paid.

            • howard

              oh, of course it is: as someone who flies a lot, 10-15 minutes is about what you might conceivably spend scoping out the seating on an unfamiliar plane, and i was just playing with what would work for that….

          • the actual Bajmahal

            She gets $50k an hour? That’s one high class whore.

            • firefall

              high cost doesnt necessarily equate to high class

        • Hogan

          If she’s incurring $10K in opportunity cost every time she books a flight, she should think about hiring a personal assistant. Of course you couldn’t pay ME enough to work for her, but surely . . .

      • Eric K

        Yeah, she is probably right, but she is such a whiner and over reacts so much she makes you side with Delta. They finally figured it out, find someone even more hated to focus the attention on.

      • Synykyl

        The seat they moved her to also had extra leg room. It was a window seat instead of the *exact* aisle seat she booked though, so she’s totally justified in attacking the airline and the passengers ;-)

        • Eric K

          Yeah, turns out they just moved her to the exit row window on the other side of the plane.

          Back when the doctor got roughed up she said he deserved it for not obeying the airline, but her moving across the aisle is the worst outrage ever.

          When you think she can’t get any more disgusting, she proves you wrong, she is really a vile piece of work.

  • Hogan

    Still, I support a full investigation!

    As long as it wraps up before Labor Day. That should be plenty of time.

  • keta

    From the link: 5th para “collision instead of “collusion”?; penultimate para “colluded’ instead of “collude.”

    The hardest part of this whole process is remaining patient for the truth to slowly emerge. I have no doubt the Mueller investigation will be thorough and thoroughly damning but the necessarily plodding nature of this type of work leaves a lot of us itching and hopping from foot to foot in anticipation of the big blow that will topple this presidency.

    The other frustrating aspect of the slow drip is that each new revelation further enures the Trump apologists from how indefensible their position truly is. Easier to slough off a series of “small” trangressions as the guilt piles up than defend one big reveal that sweeps all detail in the rush.

    So yeah, it’s frustrating. And I try to not even think about the response of Republican elects. Their collective shoulder shrugging to this point is perhaps the most maddening factor in the whole shitshow. The pusillanimity on display is a dangerous indicator of how fragile democracy is these days in the United States. And sadly, no, that is not an overstatement.

    • efgoldman

      The hardest part of this whole process is remaining patient for the
      truth to slowly emerge. I have no doubt the Mueller investigation will
      be thorough and thoroughly damning but the necessarily plodding nature
      of this type of work leaves a lot of us itching and hopping from foot to
      foot in anticipation

      Those of us who actually remember Watergate remember that it took almost two full years. This is a lot more complicated, involving a lot more people, a lot more money, many more countries and banks….

      Patience, Grasshoppers.

  • Gregor Sansa

    I think that if a narcissistic con-man, serial abuser, and money launderer who won the presidency by pandering to racism is brought down by mere inept collusion with a foreign-government’s election-rigging, that’s almost as ironic as Al Capone going down for tax evasion. The crimes that were open secrets even a year ago are so much worse than the bumbling that provoked this scandal…

    • Sly

      He’ll still be vehemently supported by 80% of the Republican base.

      So the most horrible aspect of all of this is the fact that few if any people with large reservoirs of social and political capital appear ready to acknowledge, much less deal with, the fact that about 30% of the electorate are psychologically trapped in the political equivalent of a suicide cult. This existed before Trump – he, in the words of Murrow in describing McCarthy, didn’t create this situation, he just exploited it and did so rather successfully – and will persist after him, except now in a more organized and militant form. The lasting damage this will do to our domestic political institutions defies calculation.

      And while I suppose we should applaud the efforts that Republican “NeverTrumpers” have made in recognizing this, I’ll only note that none of them have made any kind of accounting – at least a public one – in the hand they had in creating and exacerbating it over the past few decades. We should remember that it literally took wasting away from cancer for Atwater to do that.

  • And, of course, we now have a bonafide constitutional crisis on our hands, since we have a president who almost certainly colluded with a foreign power to literally steal the election.

    • Joe Paulson

      There should be running counter on MSNBC or something like news programs had when Iran had the hostages. Each time health care or anything else is discussed, it should be tossed in “and, of course, we are in midst of a constitutional crisis and really nothing significant should occur until it’s settled.” Or, something more pithy.

      • the actual Bajmahal

        Brian Williams over on MSNBC still regularly points out what day this is in the Trump presidency.

    • sigaba

      Why can't the media talk about what we really care about: Jobs and the economy? This Russia thing is just a big distraction.

      The lesson I take away from the month is, when some constituency or person says “politicians should be worrying about jobs and the economy,” it’s an opinion meant to mask the speaker’s ignorance and fecklessness about taking a real position.

      • mattmcirvin

        Anyway, the economy instantly went from total carnage to awesome when Trump took office, so no worries there.

        • llamaspit

          Not to mention that the same people who believed him when he said that the economy was in the shitter before the election, somehow believe him now when he brags about how awesome it is only months later.

          • efgoldman

            the same people who believed him when he said that the economy was in the shitter before the election, somehow believe him now when he brags about how awesome it is

            You mean you haven’t seen all those happy coal miners singing and whistling as they go back to work at 4x minimum wage with full benefits? Why, here they are now!
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI0x0KYChq4

  • Mike in DC

    The media suggests two reasons why the establishment GOP won’t move against Trump:
    1. Currently to their benefit to have a POTUS willing to sign anything
    2. Fear of retaliation by Trump and the base
    I’d offer two additional “worst case scenario” reasons:
    3. Russia has kompromat on several of them
    4. Complicity at some level–knowledge that something was afoot, or even knowing receipt and use of laundered Russian money in congressional campaigns. We already know that they used the leaks in comgressional campaigns.
    If either or both of the worst case reasons are true, then full exposure is an extinction level event for the GOP as currently constituted.

    • postmodulator

      They are in blood stepped in so far, that should they wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.

      • Mike in DC

        If twere done when tis done, then twere well it was done quickly.

      • N__B

        Best line in WS’s best play.

        • postmodulator

          It’s relevant surprisingly often, at any rate. My wife and I were talking about Cersei yesterday and I got to pull it out then too.

          (The quote.)

          • rm_rm_rm

            Glad it was the quote. Otherwise ’twere not well done quickly, if you know what I mean.

      • Hogan

        The further off from England the nearer is to France.

    • RovingYouthPastor

      I think this over-determines it. The truth is that they are like the administrators at Penn State circa Sandusky. There is no external reason for their cowardice; its built into their character. Their thought process is “He’s the boss. I’m a noodle-spined sycophant. So I’m okay with anything until someone above me in the hierarchy tells me not to be.”

      Edit: The irony of the complaint that the media behaves as though only Dems have moral agency is that only the Dems behave as though they have moral agency.

      • Mike in DC

        That doesn’t explain the reticence of Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell, though. For them i can somewhat believe they are focused on passing their agenda, and only when it completely stalls out will they turn on Trump.

        • RovingYouthPastor

          The person higher up in the hierarchy than McConnell and Ryan is Trump himself, though. They are pathetic, cowardly turtles all the way up and down. They will never turn on him, they will have to be voted out.

          For what it’s worth, I’m not un-confidant that Ryan will lose his seat to the Iron Stache.

        • tsam100

          Why would they turn on Trump when they have the ever-present Democrats (with virtually no power in government) to blame and their voters eat that shit like they’ve been starved for a week? When McConnell delayed the vote this last time, his public statement made clear that it was Democratic obstruction that caused the delay, not Republican jackassery.

          • John F

            Yeah, but:
            1. Dems would love to take the credit (no blame) for obstructing Trumpcare
            2. The Repeal Obamcare Now nutters aren’t buying it any more*, “You said to get us a GOP house, we did that, you said get us a GOP senate, we did that, you said elect a GOP POTUS, WE DID THAT,

            Repeal, repeal NOW!!!!!
            the only thing saving the republic so far is that the GOP can’t get its act together, other than knee jerk obstructionism they haven’t been able to do anything in the House since 2010, they haven’t been able to do anything in the Senate since 2014.

            Unfortunately sooner or later something has to give, I’m not sure we’ll make it to 2018 without major statutory damage, but it now looks feasible.

            *Also the nutters have been opposed to any cooperation with Dems for a long time, they see it as a black and white thing- the GOP has 50+1, the Dems don’t have a voice. The Dems can’t keep you from getting 50+1. Te Dems can keep you from getting 60- but the nutters see that as an eroded speed bump at best.

            There are GOP senators who really do want to keep the filibuster, they really really really want stuff that goes through reconciliation, because they don’t want to end the filibuster, but you know the filibuster is gonna be history the first time the Dems actually have the opportunity to use it.

            • tsam100

              Dems would love to take credit for stopping Trumpcare, but that gains them nothing outside of doing what Democrats want them to do. Obstruction by Democrats is still an effective rhetorical tool with Republican voters. “We tried to fuck your life up, but the stupid Demonrats stopped us”

              • efgoldman

                Obstruction by Democrats is still an effective rhetorical tool with Republican voters.

                So? So what? Those stupid RWNJ mouth breathers are stupid. They’re not voting for Dems, period. Chasing their votes or worrying about them is a waste of time, energy and protoplasm.

                • tsam100

                  The point is that they’re looking to keep face with their supporters, who are just fine with being lied to about Democratic obstruction. I just don’t see where the Republicans find a reason to turn on Trump, short of there being undeniable proof that their chances at reelection are imperiled.

          • twbb

            because it inly works on an aging 35% of the country.

        • diogenes

          I suspect Russian money flowed through PAC’s to the RNC and R candidates, and that Ryan/McConnell know it.

    • Marduk Kur

      “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

      House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

      Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

      • MikeG

        House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

        What a great American patriot.

    • AMK

      5. Most of the modern Republican Party is ideologically sympathetic to Russia as a model of entho/religious-nationalist flat-tax authoritarian oligarchy. It’s indisputably true for lots of them, and has the benefit of making #s 3 and 4 irrelevant. It also means that “full exposure” won’t be an “extinction-level event” for them outside the swing districts that already produce moderates who are irrelevant to the national Party anyway, because the base of the Party does not think Russia is bad–which lots of polls bear out.

      • Mike in DC

        They can retain most of their base, and still go extinct politically by losing independents and swing voters, and failing to appeal beyond that base.

    • BigDaddyJ

      At least a few posts I’ve read suggest the whole Jr. episode was an effort by the Russian powers that be to remind Trump who’s really in power. A drip, drip if you will, with a real shower (groan) behind it if need be.

      While this sounds like it’s deep into movie conspiracy theory, we’re so far down the rabbit hole at this point that truth has been consistently stranger than fiction. I can’t rule it out at all.

    • SatanicPanic

      There’s only one extinction level event for the GOP as it is currently constituted- white people becoming a small enough minority that white supremacy becomes a consistent loser at the polls.

      • postmodulator

        Yeah, this. I’ve been hearing “the GOP’s gone too far, they’re doomed” at least since the 1995 Congressional session.

        My wife and I aren’t even doing our part. By about New Year’s we will have created two more white people.

        • SatanicPanic

          Creating good white people is helping!

          • postmodulator

            Are good white people even a thing? My Twitter feed says not.

            • SatanicPanic

              My GF, my father, and Barack Obama’s mom are three good white people I can think of off the top of my head.

            • spencer_e9876

              My best friend is white, but don’t worry – he’s one of the good ones.

      • Mike in DC

        Well, by 2060, the population will be 43% white, which is probably low enough that even disproportionate turnout for midterms, and vote suppression on the margins, won’t be enough to win majorities.
        But the strategy arguably already is faltering. Romney got the same percentage of the white vote in 2012 as Trump, and lost. Trump won, but with only 46% of the popular vote. Its easy to see that strategy yielding ever diminishing results. I think, sometime around in the 2030s, there will be a painful transition process for the GOP, where they try to shed the baggage while trying to avoid alienating racist supporters.

        • SatanicPanic

          It’s been over ten years here in California, and the GOP still hasn’t figured it out. In my lifetime they’ve gone from dominating to irrelevant.

        • ChrisS

          By 2060, it’ll be too warm for elections.

        • John F

          “Romney got the same percentage of the white vote in 2012 as Trump, and lost. Trump won, but with only 46% of the popular vote.”

          Trump pretty much won the exact same birth cohorts and by the same margins that Bush did in 2004, the result was that Trump lost the popular vote 46 to 48, whereas Bush won 51 to 48.

          The GOP needs both voter suppression and gerrymandering, but what they really need-and is not happening, is for their polices to help more people than they harm. So we are back to voter suppression and gerrymandering.

          Recent polling from Survey monkey shows that among 18-24 year olds, 19% ID as Rep, 34% as Dem, of the remainder 6% lean Repub, 13% lean Dem.
          Among 25-34 year olds, 19% ID as Rep, 32% as Dem, of the remainder 7% lean Repub, 13% lean Dem.
          Among 34-44 year olds, 22% ID as Rep, 32% as Dem, of the remainder 10% lean Repub, 13% lean Dem.

          Despite the old saw about the young being liberal and the old conservative- that birth cohort partisanship tends to be consistent. Those Dem leaning 18-44 year olds are very likely to be Dem leaning 38-64 year olds 20 years from now.

          • Eric K

            Yeah trump basically pulled the electoral college equivalent of drawing the two inside cards he needed for a straight flush on 4th street and the river.

      • Deborah Bender

        There is a trend that doesn’t get publicly remarked on much. Fewer Jews overall; more Republican Jews.

        Jews used to be an important part of the Democratic coalition, and continue to contribute disproportionately to campaign financing.

        Jews have a higher than average rate of voter registration and voting but the percentage of Jews in the voting population has been in decline for decades. The reliability of Jews as a liberal voting bloc has also been declining, as the generations that remember the Depression and WWII die and Jews get more prosperous and secure. (Obviously the “prosperous and secure” part is always subject to change.) Owing to the low birth rate and high intermarriage rate of secular and non-Orthodox Jews, and the higher birth rate of Orthodox Jews, Jews who hold conservative social views are becoming more influential than they have been at any time since the Civil War.

      • darumax

        We can hope it will be similar to what happened in California after Pete Wilson. He won in 1994 with a very hostile anti-immigrant campaign, but the consequences are that Republicans now have no hope of holding a state-wide office.

        • SatanicPanic

          Now that white supremacy is a proven loser the Republicans have to compete on ideas. The results speak for themselves!

  • mattmcirvin

    When this has run its course, most US conservatives will have convinced themselves to openly support direct rule from Moscow as a one-party client state.

    • sigaba

      Moscow will always give them just enough space to let them do their own thing. They’re dependent on Russia to hold power, a power they regard as their unquestionable birthright anyways, but Russia will basically let them do as they please as long as the basic complexion of the state is pro-Russia or Russia-neutral.

      The model is the US and South America- we didn’t run the place but we did everything we could to make sure friendly governments stayed in power and maintained cordial relations.

      It’s Rollback: Putin’s making the world safe for transnational white bruderhood, eternal enmity to the khan Muslim Horde, and doing whatever he can to break the back of Western Europe his oil and natural gas customers.

      • BigDaddyJ

        Amazing, really, that a party that was experienced in exerting governmental influence in various parts of the world just turns around, for decades, and gives it up with the flick of a switch. Trump, our new Shah!

        (Yes, granted, the switch dates back to Atwater etc., but I remain amazed at how quick the actual implementation was once all the groundwork was laid.)

      • Russia, Iceland and Canada appear to be the last bastion of the white race. We have already lost Greenland!
        https://twitter.com/wyatt_privilege/status/886259541649887232

        • njorl

          Okay, now white supremacy and global warming denial start to make sense together. They want to render the non-white world uninhabitable.

          • Drew

            And they expect non-white people to just die quietly? Seems like quiet a headache to enable what will become the greatest refugee crisis/crises in the history of civilization.

        • Jay B.

          Thank God Italians aren’t considered white anymore. It makes me feel less conflicted to hate whitey, even though some of them are my best friends.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Alaska is white? And Argentina isn’t? But anyway I’m the idiot here for quibbling with a stupid and hateful white supremacist meme.

        • JMP

          “Trad” is not a word in the English language.

        • rm_rm_rm
      • Deborah Bender

        The US did a good deal more in Latin America than make sure friendly governments stayed in power. We employed economic incentives, subversion and warfare to suppress labor organizing and prevent any regulation of US corporations.

        • Linnaeus

          But that was for freedom.

  • John F

    Completely off topic, but
    1. A few months ago Delta ruined my family’s Spring Break vacation (and because Delta physically assaulted a doctor that week I don’t even have the worst Delta horror story of the week)…

    2. I saw headlines that Ann Coulter was complaining about Delta

    3. See 1, and I thought nothing would make me side with Delta

    4. See 1., yes Coulter was wronged by Delta- she paid $30 extra to get a seat with more leg room, but then they didn’t give it to her, rather than complaining once, advising people to never ever pay $30 for an “extra” from Delta- she goes completely nuts- tweets for hours, takes a picture of fellow passengers blames them and tweets the photos, makes personal attacks on Delta employees, etc etc.

    She (like RWNJs in general) is only capable of recognizing a “wrong” if it happens to them, and then when it does, no matter how minor, it’s the greatest miscarriage of justice there is. Yes airlines suck, airline service sucks, but to someone like Coulter airlines being bad begins and ends with them once taking her $30 leg room away. The fact that what happened to her probably doesn’t make the top 100 of bad things an airline will do to someone this week is completely lost on her.

    • randomworker

      Iirc it was United that beat the doctor and dragged him down the aisle. Otherwise, yes.

      • Fun fact: Coulter said that doctor had it coming and called for his deportation

        • randomworker

          What a nasty piece of work she is.

          • Drew

            whoa Trump called Killary a “nasty woman.” Both sides!!!1

      • Warren Terra

        It was a United flight, but it was Port of Chicago cops who maimed the doctor

  • Kevin

    Good article, agree on all points. It’s amazing that after the first or second lie was exposed they didn’t just get together, gather all the details, and release them. Instead, they ineptly lie about the next thing, only to be undercut by a leak the next day.

    But that goes to your point – the truth is probably much worse. You only do what I say above if it helps you. That they aren’t, that they are piling lie on top of lie on a daily basis, just shows there is more.

    Also, the idea that this was the only meeting, or that Trump was never in anyway briefed on this or other meetings strains credulity to a comical degree. We already know Roger Stone was in contact with Wikileaks and hackers about Podesta’s emails. This is going to get a whole lot worse.

    • njorl

      They learned from the campaign that lies never matter, when the true lesson to be learned was that lies almost never matter.

  • DamnYankeesLGM

    I’m starting to think the most nefarious version of this story is the true one. Things seem to be ramping up in a weird way, and at this point the simplest explanation really is that he is being blackmailed. The leak of information from what seems like the Russian side, the Trump’s renewed push for lifting sanctions…it just doesn’t make sense. If this was purely friendship – like, if you think that Trump really just is very sympathetic to Russia in a totally non-scandalous way – this is just dumb as hell. Why the fuck would you say or do this given the pressure that’s on you for the Russia investigation. And if you were Russia, why would you even push for it now. You’d let the investigation blow over.

    But if you were genuinely guilty, then it makes sense. Russia might feel the squeeze coming and time running out, and so they are pressuring Trump to get the sanctions off now, while there’s still a chance. And Trump has no choice because even if this looks terrible, he knows the alternative – Russia giving him up – is worse.

    That really is the simplest explanation of the facts at this point, isnt it?

    • BigDaddyJ

      My main issue with your argument is why you think it’s “nefarious” at all. It’s all but confirmed fact that Trump has done business with Russian money, given that he had 4 bankruptcies and no Western banks were willing to do money with him. There’s plenty of data to suggest that they’ve developed relationships with Russian money-men (oligarchs, mobsters, what have you.) Given this, even without the salacious-sounding stuff of the last year, there has to be plenty of financial evidence that would look incredibly poor if released.

      The only part that might be in doubt is whether it’s literal blackmail/blackmail material, but do the semantics matter? Trump’s inclined to support his money lenders no matter what. Whomever triggered this, whether it was the Russians or someone else, are just nudging him to speed it up.

    • RovingYouthPastor

      The most nefarious explanation is probably a better gauge than the simplest in this case. I have a feeling when (if?) Mueller’s report gets out it’s going to make a half caught showing of the Big Lebowski on cable look simple. This is a complicated web of malice and idiocy we’re dealing with.

      • i thought that was going to happen right up until the second i learned that Mueller learned about these emails from the NYT.

        • RovingYouthPastor

          Didn’t know that. But its still very early in the investigation and they were personal/campaign emails, you’d need to subpeona to get them unless they were willingly handed over.. People forget that it took years to bring down Nixon. Mueller’s has had barely two months.

        • Hogan

          Mueller’s office probably isn’t fully staffed yet.

          • Linnaeus

            And the staff his office does have, at least the senior folks, are pretty heavy hitters from what I’m given to understand. They won’t be the kind to sweep things under the rug.

    • SatanicPanic

      What’s amazing to me is that they set the goalposts at “you have to prove collusion”. We might actually be able to do that. Did no one explain to them that IF they’re going to move the goalposts, they should move it beyond what they know themselves to be guilty of? Are these people that fucking stupid?

      • Davis X. Machina

        What’s amazing to me is that they set the goalposts at “you have to prove collusion.

        “You have to prove collusion to our satisfaction” is a criterion that can never be met, and thus a good place to put the goalpoasts.

        • sibusisodan

          Was it Conway who recently said ‘there’s no evidence of collusion yet’, with seemingly no awareness of the import of that final word?

        • SatanicPanic

          But that’s not exactly right. The point of goalpost moving is to wear out your opponents with an annoying tactic OR to keep neutral observers (or as close to neutral as we have) from figuring out what you’re actually guilty of. If the thing you’re guilty of and the thing you’re asking people to prove are the same thing, it doesn’t matter that much whether you’re going to admit it, because everyone understands they’re not going to anyway.

      • the actual Bajmahal

        They were probably just going for the extra difficulty points by executing the notorious “Triple Troll” move.

    • McAllen

      This is certainly possible, but I think it’s also possible Trump is just outrageously stupid.

    • sibusisodan

      It might not even be Russia feeling the squeeze. Just a rational calculation that they can get more use out of Trump by burning him than by using him.

      (and, on the off chance Trump is innocent, Russia can play havoc by doing just enough to make it look like they are burning him anyway. Ends up in roughly the same chaos.)

      • Sentient AI From The Future

        Extrapolating from this and the recent former-CIA guy article in WaPo, i could at least imagine targeting GOP Congress critters for kompromat, expanding out from Rohrbacher. Theyre the ones downplaying this even as the drip drip drip continues, so more susceptible to leverage.

        I expect them to have a veto-proof majority by 2024 at this rate.

  • carolannie

    The notion that collusion starts when actual results from the collusion are achieved is like saying no one conspires to murder someone unless there is a corpse. I don’t think that would fly in court. And the argument that the RWNJ make is that this was an attempted collusion, which of course is nonsense

    • FMguru

      “Attempted murder,” now honestly, did they ever give anyone a Nobel prize for “attempted chemistry?”- Sideshow Bob

    • mountaintraveler

      Officer, I went to rob the bank, but there wasn’t any money there. Can I go home now? h/t Indy.

  • NeonTrotsky

    Maybe its petty, but the part of this that angers me the most is still how people who spent eight years making mountains out of molehills are willing to go in order to explain this away. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore but it still angers me greatly.

  • tsam100

    Thinking about this over the weekend brought me to a place of wondering where this all goes from here.

    Right now we have a dominant political party that has taken to to cheating to win. They use vote suppression, collude with powerful foreign intelligence agencies, lie about anything and everything, built a media empire to hammer their absolutely stupid propaganda, and they aren’t even trying to hide the fact that they’re trying to give tax cuts away to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and lower middle class. They’ve fully embraced every kind of bigotry there is, and they’re inventing new ones every day. They endorse and promote violence.

    This can go one of two ways–people start to figure it out and get rid of them, for a long enough period that they’re forced to moderate and deal with life as it is, rather than how they picture it in their overheated little brains, or they go all in, and we lose every last shred of legitimacy we theoretically had as a quasi democratic republic, and be a sort of neo-feudal mess like a district in The Hunger Games. I’m not optimistic that the former is happening anytime soon.

    • NewishLawyer

      It’s the illiberal problem that LeeEsq mentions from time to time. Liberal Democracy has very few tools to combat people who have no respect for the norms and standards of Liberal Democracy especially when those people are within our own borders. It was paradoxically easier for Obama to do something against Russia or Hungary than it was for him to do something to combat authoritarianism and subversion at home.

      The Republican Party does not care about the norms and standards of liberal democracy. They care about their end goals and how to achieve them. So if Russian interference, voter suppression, and other things help achieve low taxes, making LBGT go back in the closet, and gutting the safety net then so be it to the Republican.

      • tsam100

        Yes, they are notoriously easy to break.

        It’s too easy to start wars, too easy to cow Congress into handing its powers over to the executive, too easy to walk away from committing actual crimes as an executive. That’s not a distinctly American problem, but it’s become a pretty serious problem from time to time, and is out of control at the moment.

    • Linnaeus

      Trump as candidate: I’m not like the politicians are! I will drain the swamp!

      Trump as president: I just acted the way any politician would!

  • Quote of the day. (This was in response to Mike Pence)
    https://twitter.com/ChrisMurphyCT/status/886260672698494976

  • Bri2k

    I think it’s possible and maybe even probable that the results of the 2016 election are illegitimate.

    I didn’t want to think that when this all started to come out last summer, but the more we find out, the more it seems likely.

    I can remember a time when the Republicans claimed to the party of responsibility. I imagine ol’ Eisenhower is spinning in his grave at all this.

    • the actual Bajmahal

      This is the Walking Dead origin story: the re-animated corpses of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower clawing their way out of their graves to throttle the current GOP leadership.

  • diogenes

    Since the media is parsing de facto collusion with de jure collusion, and toying with plain-vanilla coordination, let’s introduce a potent c word into the discussion.

    Collaboration. Thanks to Junior, that’s a bona fide fact.

  • kvs

    The timelines I’ve seen in the news all seem to start with Sessions endorsing Trump. Which, on the one hand makes sense for information we know about the campaign. But on the other hand misses 2 big things: 1) The Trump Organization’s long-standing relationship with sources of Russian and Eastern European money; and 2) Sessions’ relationship with Russia and whatever prompted him to endorse Trump in the first place.

    There’s likely even more significant wrong-doing but Sessions’ nomination to AG, Bharara’s firing, and the Katsyv settlement would seem to be enough to show a quid pro quo. Maybe I’m wrong and Sessions only suddenly became a best friend to Russian criminals in 2016. But it seems far more likely that Sessions’ endorsement isn’t the starting point for his involvement but is more like us joining the story in media res.

    • econoclast

      Is there any evidence of links between Sessions and Russia before his involvement in the Trump campaign?

      • kvs

        There’s nothing publicly reported. Sessions wouldn’t legally have had to disclose any contacts that happened solely as a result of being a legislator so the absence of that information isn’t dispositive.

        I see this as a reporting failure more than anything. While the reporting states as a fact that Sessions was the first senator to join the Trump campaign no one has really indicated much interest in finding out why that happened.

        • Drew

          I mean, it’s not that hard to believe a “benign” explanation, is it? Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is horrifically racist, even more so than the average republican. Trump ran on a platform of racial hatred and not so subtle ethnic cleansing. It was love at first sight.

          • kvs

            Maybe. Their relationship dates to Sessions inviting Trump to testify about how much it should cost to renovate UN HQ in 2005. And Stephen Miller joined Trump’s staff a month before Sessions’ endorsement and a number of other Sessions staffers have followed them into the Administration.

            The part that isn’t credible is that Sessions would become pro-Russia after 4 months on the campaign and a couple meetings with Kislyak. Particularly since in March ’15 Sessions was on record saying the US and EU needed to unite to contain Russian expansionism and called Russia a military threat. In March 2016, he’d changed his tune to saying Russia and the US need closer ties.

            So the timeline would seem to demand a different explanation.

    • the actual Bajmahal

      Isn’t there also something about some Russian spy-turned informant who was serving time in a Colorado(?) prison and was suddenly released and deported shortly after the inauguration?

  • sk7326

    It is alarming that – on some basic level – the best revelation for the country politically would be that Trump is being blackmailed – or in deep, deep hock to Russian folks. THAT is the one thing which could not be handwaved away. It is easy to understand, it’s happening right now … and it cuts directly to Trump’s money.

    • MikeG

      I keep flashing back to the shocked looks of the Senate Intelligence Committee members coming out of the room after being briefed on the Trump-Russia classified intel a couple of months ago. One of them said something like this is the most important action I will take in my political career.

      • sk7326

        For me – THAT is why Trump has fired Comey and fought this so hard – it’s not the collusion so much as allowing the investigation to expand and start talking about business. And clearly Mueller’s hires should give no comfort to him on that front.

    • Jay B.

      As always, follow the money. I mean the whole thing is disgusting and fantastic — we haven’t even been talking about the fact that they already have the goods on Flynn and probably Manafort. The reality is that the FBI is pouring over financial records at Deutsche Bank and they are forensically tracking the funds through the Trump “empire” and it’s various laundering points, like Commerce Secretary Ross’ old Bank of Cyprus and the contributions of laundered Russian money. None of this takes a particularly deep imagination and it’s more plausible than not. There are too many obvious connections, too many clear lies, too much clear coordination (no one has EVER answered why the Trumpovs changed the Ukraine plank in the RNC and didn’t touch a single other piece of the platform), too many compromised business ventures, too many Russian touchpoints throughout the administration for anything but collusion/conspiracy/compromised elections. But the money is what will tie all the motives together.

  • zic

    This Huff Post story by S.V. Date is the first attempt I’ve seen at putting a price tag on the Russian government’s election meddling: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/russia-trump-internet-laws_us_59693615e4b0174186278e40?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

    The U.S. intelligence community’s Jan. 6 report about Putin’s work to help Trump says the propaganda campaign began with state-paid news organizations like RT and Sputnik.

    “RT’s coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the U.S. presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism,” the report states, adding that there was a sophisticated organization to widely distribute that propaganda on the Internet through “professional trolls.”

    “The likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence,” the report says.

    Trolls were located in other areas, as well, including Macedonia, where an unusual number of pro-Trump websites were registered.

    The number of people involved in the effort is not detailed in the Jan. 6 report, which is an unclassified version of a highly classified assessment. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, in March said there may have been 1,000 such trolls.

    If Putin did have that many people working to elect Trump, his operation was more than twice as large as the Trump campaign’s paid staff in the final weeks before the election. And if each Putin cybersoldier was paid just $10,000 over the course of the year, that would put Russia’s expenditure on its pro-Trump propaganda at $10 million, making Putin one of Trump’s biggest financial supporters.

    I would like to see some more analysis like this.

    But at the end of the day, I can’t help but wonder if turning the US ship-of-state into a clown car is enough of a ROI for Vlad.

    • sk7326

      I wonder what Ed Schultz will say about this …

  • Mike in DC

    I see two possible prosecutorial approaches here:
    1.Indict everyone all at the same time. This depends upon getting a few cooperating witnesses/co-conspirators. Has the shock and awe advantage. Tougher potentially to win, but more pressure against pardons/firing.
    2. Indict in 2-3 stages, easiest cases and smallest fish first. This has a drip drip drip effect and enables building a stronger case against the biggest targets. But runs greater risk of preemptive pardons and firing of special counsel.

    The timing is the other thing. Generally, since grand juries are empaneled for 18 months, unless extended, i would expect either some indictments or a status update from the special counsel at the expiration of the grand jury.

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