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Trump told us exactly who he was

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Today CNN released a video footage of Donald Trump having dinner with some of the key players implicated in the latest iteration of the Trump-Russia collusion scandal.

The video shows the future President Donald Trump attending a dinner with an Azerbaijani-Russian family who became Trump’s business partners in Las Vegas in June 2013. It also shows their publicist, Rob Goldstone, who would later send Donald Trump Jr. the emails that have brought the eldest Trump son to the center of the controversy over possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

It concludes:

Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs, also did not deny the closeness of the relationship between the Trumps and Agalarovs, instead raising a question about Goldstone’s credibility.

It’s simply fiction that this was some effort to create a conduit for information from the Russian federal prosecutors to the Trump campaign,” Balber said on CNN’s “New Day.” “It’s just fantasy world because the reality is if there was something important that Mr. Agalarov wanted to communicate to the Trump campaign, I suspect he could have called Mr. Trump directly as opposed to having his son’s pop music publicist be the intermediary.”

The video complicates, but does not actually disprove, Donald Jr.’s characterization of his relationship with Goldstone. But it is a graphic reminder of a basic fact: the GOP nominated, and then America elected, a shady, corrupt, marginally capable businessman for President of the United States.

Much of Trump’s career played out amongst mafia ties. It involved, at best, skirting the law, and rampant acts of legal and quasi-legal fraud. He wasn’t very good at it either. So when he went bankrupt and his dad’s money was no longer available to bail him out, he turned increasingly to corrupt, shady oligarchs in places like the former Soviet Union. This is a world of money laundering, rampant bribery, and collusion with kleptocratic government officials.

The thing is, Trump basically told us that he was corrupt. Repeatedly. It was part of his pitch for how he was an outsider with the inside knowledge to clean up “the swamp.”

Of course, it was pretty obvious to anyone not blinded by partisanship or Clinton-rage that Trump wouldn’t clean up Washington—that Trump would bring more, not less, corruption to the White House. Still, I think it is difficult for many Americans to wrap their minds around—or even really conceive of—the kinds of business practices and dealings Trump brings with him. My offline and online friends include many academics, journalists, and researchers with deep knowledge of the former Soviet Union, as well as other deeply corrupt parts of the world. They recognized Trump’s type, and what that implied for the United States.

I should try to put this in perspective. The United States suffers its share of corruption these days, especially in certain sectors in specific places. Yes, the political system is rigged in favor of the wealthy. Large donors get special influence in Washington. The United States has its share of corruption scandals large and small. But, generally speaking, Americans don’t have to pay bribes for normal, everyday transactions with the government or in the private sector. You can give loads of money to Harvard in exchange for admitting your under-qualified son, but that’s not how most people get into college.

Hilary Clinton’s speaking fees damaged her candidacy, but more through the impression that they ‘must have been after something’, when that something was likely, at worst, a bit of access. Whether in this context, or that of the Clinton Foundation, critics had to drum up an enormous amount of noise, and sometimes outright disinformation, to even create the sense of a possible quid pro quo. In many of the areas of the world that Trump and his clan scramble for money, and the circles they run in, such deals would be very well, and just the way that things are done.

In other words, Trump was already, by American standards, not exactly an ethical businessman. But then he plugged himself into an international web of financial crime, kleptocracy, and corruption. The campaign was full of people who shared those networks—or even spent a lot of time trying to break into them. Trump’s campaign wasn’t a magnet for these sorts because it lacked experience and because  the GOP policy bench shunned it, although that certainly contributed. It attracted them because they were in the same extended networks, and because the people at the heart of the campaign—most notably Trump himself—were cut from the same cloth.

So, in a sense, I’d like to believe that part of the problem is that most Americans simply lack any reference point. They think Washington is corrupt, but they have no idea what real kleptocracy actually looks like. And, every day, the Trump Administration further effaces the lines between governance and personal enrichment.

Even if Trump-Russia collusion amounted to nothing more than #fakenews, this is a hell of a lot of damage that Trump’s enablers in the right-wing media and in congress are inflicting upon the United States. It’s also the broader context for understanding what’s actually at stake when Ivanka Trump sits in for her father.

But, ultimately, we can’t separate this facet of Trumpism from the Russia collusion story. For one thing, the overtures and connections flowed from, and through, the business networks. For another, all of this—from Trump’s public statements about Russia during the campaign, to his firing of Comey, to his contempt for democratic norms and a free press—come from the same mentality.

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  • LosGatosCA

    If I’m a non-US leader, Trump is a clear problem, but he’s more of a symptom of a larger problem. The real problem is that America as a country has become unreliable.

    Starting with the Clinton impeachment, the elites have become ineffectual in managing a stable long term trajectory. Two stolen presidential elections in 16 years, the neocon big dick foreign policy leading to Iraq and an inflamed Middle East, etc, etc.

    Sure Obama was a charismatic political leader but can easily be seen as the exception rather than the rule. Trump could be gone tomorrow, how much better than Bush II is Dense?

    America doesn’t have a leadership problem, it has structural political problems and a very significant part of the population that’s simply batshit insane. It’s taken 24 years for the US political establishment to devolve from a Persian Gulf war leader of the free world lead by an experienced bureaucratic professional to a dysfunctional, undemocratic, illiberal banana republic wannabe.

    Make a deal with the US? Payoff better happen before the next election, after that you may just be holding a bag of flaming shit.

    • Downpup E

      You forgot the 2 party system
      Only one is batshit
      The other is doing the best we can, poor sods

      • CP

        That’s not enough. Not if I’m a foreign leader. I can’t keep making deals with the United States just because it currently happens to be sane, if I know that within a decade it will once again be insane, and everything I just negotiated will then find itself on the chopping bloc.

        • The Realist

          I know this might be unpopular to say but no way anything Trump has done in foreign affairs thus far comes close to the Dubya clusterfucks.

          • The Weeping Cheeto

            Give it a minute.

            • The Realist

              Dubya had more spine than Cheeto Bandito does. Dubya was stubborn whereas Cheeto is a paper tiger when confronted by foreign powers. I worry about him selling us out on the cheap more than starting a nuclear war to be honest.

          • CP

            In terms of actual physical human and material damage? No. Not yet. In terms of damage to the alliance system that’s been fairly crucial to our place in the world since 1945? Holy shit, yes. Even at the worst of the Freedom Fries days, no one seriously thought that the U.S. commitment to NATO would be in question, much less that a U.S. President would be chummier with the Russians than the countries it’s supposed to defend from them.

            And in terms of the basic damage to our credibility that the sight not merely of Trump coming to power with Russia’s help, but virtually every Republican in the nation covering for him, does? Again, holy shit, yes. We look like a Cold War era banana republic whose elites have happily allowed their CIA/KGB backers to run amok because they care more about keeping their own people in their proper place than they do about sovereignty. People do business with governments like that, and they’re sure as hell happy to exploit them, but nobody respects them, let alone follow their lead on international undertakings of any significance.

            • The Realist

              “I’ve looked into his soul…”

              “That’s “Old Europe”…

              “Freedom is messy…”

              “The smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud…”

              “Maybe they’re [WMDs] on some turkey farm…”

              I think some people on the left are getting misplaced nostalgia for he Dubya Era.

              • CP

                Dude, I just listed the Iraq War as one of the recent disasters that prove to the world that the U.S. is no longer playing with a full deck. No, I’m very much not into Bush nostalgia. Doesn’t change the fact that the concerns we’re currently seeing out of Europe are unprecedented. No, “I’ve looked into his soul” is not equivalent to this electoral shit show, and “that’s Old Europe” is not equivalent to saying repeatedly that NATO should be a protection racket.

          • SamR

            In terms of death toll and actual financial cost, that’s absolutely true, but I still think Trump has done more actual damage to our standing.

            Phil Jackson was a terrible GM for the Knicks. But imagine if Dolan replaces him with someone who has never had a job in basketball, has mob ties, sexual assault, etc etc. Even before that guy botches a trade, its worse.

            • Abigail Nussbaum

              The cumulative effect of Bush and Trump shouldn’t be discounted. As I’ve said in the past, the way the world sees the US right now is not unlike how you approach your junkie friend. Obama’s election was taken by the world as a sign that the US had gotten over its rough patch and was willing to behave like a responsible person again. Turning around and electing Trump makes you look like a perennial fuck-up who can maybe get their act together for limited periods, but can’t actually be trusted.

              • CP

                Also, most of the chaos of the Bush years can and for most people was put down to post 9/11 PTSD. Trump’s election confirms that no, it was something deeper.

              • Bizarro Mike

                Yes, I think you have to put them in order. Bush was incredibly damaging, but France, Germany et al had had 70 years of peace and rising prosperity. They wanted to cram the image of insane America down the memory hole, and a charismatic internationalist like Obama really helped them do that. But with the rise of Trump, the old sins can’t be seen as fluke bad events, but rather as early warning signs. I think any likely “good” future doesn’t include US leadership because the trust is gone.

          • LosGatosCA

            Trump is dissipating America’s soft power assets faster than Bush/Cheney did.

            He’s destroying State, undermining alliances, accelerating our allies towards other options,etc

            Trump won’t get the opportunity to do what Dubya did in Iraq. So wasting America’s hard power assets will likely not occur. Otoh, with North Korea who can be sure of that.

            At this point in their presidency Bush/Cheney was still 60 days from 9/11 and 20 months out from invading Iraq. Plenty of time to do much more damage.

            • CP

              The fact that Trump is only aix months in and we’re already debating whether or not he’s done as much damage as Bush… also kind of says a lot right there.

          • Yeah, but Dubya didn’t get to start those until his second year in office.

    • hellslittlestangel

      We also have a Constitution we regard as sacred, but which is actually quite shitty. It was written by wealthy white guys for wealthy white guys. The amendments aren’t all that great either.

      • Downpup E

        The Constitution isn’t that bad
        It held together for 200 years, before a large part of the country went bonkers

        • markefield

          Except for the war to abolish slavery which cost the lives of roughly 800,000 people.

          And even then, “held together” has to accommodate a lot of pretty awful stuff such as genocide and segregation.

          • The Realist

            Only one civil war/rebellion in 240 years is actually an extraordinarily good record for a country when compared to say, France.

            As for “awful stuff” regarding ethnic minorities, I submit to you the record of the U.K. on the Irish question, not to mention the late unpleasantness in Germany and Russia.

            • The Realist

              And I’m not even bringing up non-western countries, mind you (hello, Taiping Rebellion!)

          • Kevin

            Yeah, kind of weird to forget that thing that happened 100 years into the countries founding, and the turmoil for the decades before that about the thing that the war was fought over. And then the next few decades where things were still pretty awful for a lot of people.

            The constitution is like people, good, but flawed. And it’s only as good as the judges interpreting it. Some see equality and use it to strike down morally disgusting laws (like laws against gay sex), others see the same amendments and are still angry that those other judges saw it differently.

      • Joe Paulson

        It was not really shitty though it has 18th Century aspects that are a tad outdated.

        What are these bad amendments? I personally like many of them myself, free speech, due process and all that good stuff.

        • hellslittlestangel

          The 2nd, the 13th (because of the ” except as punishment for a crime” loophole), the 18th and the 22nd are all terrible. A number of others are just trivial (the 3rd) or toothless (the 8th, the 15th).

          Disclaimer: I am a die-hard Loyalist to the Crown.

          • Joe Paulson

            The Second Amendment provides states with the discretion to have militia. The whole individual guns ownership thing goes beyond the amendment itself to a wider societal acceptance of guns that largely grew on a separate track.

            The Thirteen Amendment abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude in broad terms with congressional power to deal with indirect forms. A loophole that allows some sort of involuntary servitude in prison (otherwise even a work requirement there could be banned) somehow makes this terrible?

            The 18th Amendment was quickly repealed. A country without a failed social experiment of that nature in a decade span is hard to come by.

            How bad a term limit of eight years (maybe more for accidental presidents) amounts to is open to debate especially given the power modern presidents have.

            The 3A dealt with a major concern & in many nations it is a real threat to have the military to take over one’s home. It puts in place important principles of privacy & civil control.

            The Eighth Amendment had stopped numerous people from being killed even when they committed horrible crimes. That alone makes it far from “toothless.” The 15th Amendment over time also has not been.

            To the degree amendments need enabling legislation, any constitution is going to be limited there — it is on some level just words if there is no will to enforce them. And, there has been.

        • markefield

          The amendments are, in many ways, the best parts. However, the original product still has grave defects. Some examples:

          1. The Senate
          2. The EC
          3. It fails to protect the right to vote explicitly.
          4. It allows state corruption such as gerrymandering to impact the federal government.

          There are others, but these are perhaps the most important.

          • Joe Paulson

            It is easy game to point to problems but especially given the times it was created (making the first three particularly more understandable) to me it is far from “shitty” and anyway works deemed sacred are usually quite human.

            As I said, it needs some updating.

            • hellslittlestangel

              “Updating” would require a Constitutional Convention, and — given the right-wing maniacs infesting state-level government — that would probably be a nightmare.

              • Joe Paulson

                Over time, the Constitution was amended to do various things that were major alterations without a convention but yes there needs to be better people in control to do the updating. It’s possible it will happen — multiple amendments came after times that were dark in some ways including things that weren’t amendments as such but new ways of reading what was there.

        • sigaba

          When people are talking about how awesome and Exceptional the United States is, the amedments apply to everybody and manifest universal human rights and ideals.

          When courts and legislators read the amendments, they generally are only binding on the majorty and are observed in only the most parsimonious way. The Constituion doesn’t say “white dudes only,” and in fact it never did, but that was always taken for granted.

          • Joe Paulson

            As a white dude, I readily understand the last part, but it is overblown. Women weren’t stopped from practicing their faith etc. Discrimination is a thing but that is not the same thing as only white males being protected.

        • LeeEsq

          The Constitution is an idealized and republicanized version of the government that existed in England after the Glorious Revolution. They changed the King to an elected President and the House of Lords to the Senate.

    • sigaba

      I blame Boomers and TV. Seriously, an entire generation was effectively trained to accept that everything Walter Cronkite (or his worthy successor as designated by Rupert Murdock) was not only true, but represented the American consensus, and everyone who said otherwise was a hippy crackpot.

      It also conditioned them to understand all political conflicts as two-sided debates between personalities where a narrator Sorts Eveything Out, and chosing your beliefs is as simple as watching the people on TV and deciding which side was the White Hats.

      Television is easily the WORST medium for the conveyance of abstract ideas and subjective experience, and there’s a bunch of brainwashed 50 year olds walking around thinking they know everyhing about food stamps because Sean Hannity showed them a surfer eating lobster on TV. They are imbued with maximal certainy and minimal knowledge.

      • LeeEsq

        This assumes that there was a more widespread sophisticated understanding of politics in America before television. The historical record doesn’t bear that out. There might have been more radicalism but most Americans tended to reject that easily. If television were really that bad than we should see similar issues in other developed countries to.

        • sigaba

          Oh exactly. I’m not saying the people before television were less ignorant. What I’m saying is the people of the television generation have a sense of their own knowledge that is completely unjustified.

          People KNOW Hillary is a liar, they’ve SEEN IT with their own eyes, and it was NOT just camera placement, or deceptive editing or warped commentary. People KNOW Trump is a straight talker, just look at how he behaves in the frame! Repeat ad infitium with everything.

      • Edouard

        TV certainly is a very bad medium for conveying abstract ideas and subjective experience, but I’d argue Twitter is even worse.

        • BloodyGranuaile

          IDK, you can link to longer pieces on Twitter. You can’t hyperlink on a TV (yet).

        • sigaba

          At least Twitter is text and is authorial, nobody can claim that seeing a Tweet is believing. The medium can’t produce the verisimilitude and false experience television does.

          • Mellano

            But Twitter has other unique problems, like the way it lends itself to personal connections between reader and Tweeter. There’s more of a feeling of participation in a group even than cable news networks.

            Meanwhile, Twitter keeps all the problems of closed networks and limited information that have been abused by right wing broadcasters. Sure, you can find other sources of information on Twitter than Trump or equivalent, many of them thoughtful. But the program makes it easy to shut them out.

            • sigaba

              This is true, but twitter can’t feign objectivity in the way TV can.

              I’m honestly not sure how big of a systemic problem “closed information networks” are. People know there are contrary opinions, they simply choose not to listen. And people know certain sources are unreliable, or traffic in innuendo, they just don’t care, because they use the news mostly as a form of entertainment.

    • Sly

      “If I’m a non-US leader, Trump is a clear problem, but he’s more of a symptom of a larger problem. The real problem is that America as a country has become unreliable.”

      And, tragically, this is not something that can be undone. Much of the political stability of the world depends upon the reliability of the United States government to keep its commitments, and that is founded upon an assumption that the American political system itself will reliably prevent an unreliable person from becoming President. Once a President undercuts the US commitment to NATO, for example, that commitment becomes forever shaky in the eyes of the rest of the world regardless of subsequent administrations. If it’s allowed to happen once it can happen again.

      • NewishLawyer

        Possible outcomes from best to worst:

        Best: Democrats retake Congress in 2018 with enough of a wave that they can ignore the White House. We also take back the White House in 2020 and the rest of the world treats it like we were really drunk and said some things but they love us so and they sweep it under the rug.

        Kind of Good: Democrats don’t manage to retake Congress and the Presidency until 2020 and the world takes us back because they love us so but we are kept on a short leash and no longer really respected or trusted.

        Bad: Democrats don’t take control of Congress until 2022 and they impeach Trump then Pence is in charge for two years. There are enough right-wing whackos in the Judiciary to wreck havoc on whatever liberals try to accomplish in Congress. The Democratic President elected in 2024 has to spend 4-8 years sitting at the kids table as a form of atonement and spend all their political capital rebuilding our reputation.

        Really bad: Trump and the Republicans stay in charge until 2024. We never recoverr.

        Worse: It was a nice world while it lasted….

        • Deborah Bender

          I can imagine a couple of steps between Really bad and what you have down as Worse. One of them would be: The United States breaks up into several separate countries, either via a second constitutional convention or a series of civil wars.

          We seem to be moving in the direction of becoming ungovernable by democratic means. While there are many reasons for this, two of them are the sheer size of the nation and the corrupting effects that imperial wealth and power have on democracies.

        • BloodyGranuaile

          I don’t really buy the Best scenario as being actually possible. It’s basically what happened in 2008, and the rest of the world’s not going to do the same thing again. The best scenario is we retake Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020 and we grovel and apologize to the rest of the world and they appear to accept it but keep us carefully sidelined and don’t really respect or trust us. There’s no scenario in which they sweep stuff under the rug again.

        • mds

          Besides BloodyGranuaile’s modifications, I’d also say that the Best scenario has Democrats regaining the House in 2018. Getting a net +3 Senate seats is pretty much impossible with the 2018 map.

    • CP

      Yep. I’ve been banging this drum for some time too.

      In the short time since this century started, America has meant the Iraq War (which pretty completely broke the world’s largest oil producing region), then the financial crisis that broke the world economy, and now Trump. Right now, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, we increasingly look like Senile Professor Xavier from the “Logan” movie, wiping out entire towns every time he has a mood swing or goes off his meds. This can’t go on much longer. A large chunk of the world has trusted us to take the lead since 1945, but they’re not going to wait indefinitely if we keep proving that we’re unfit for it on the most basic level and in ways that continue to be calamitous for everyone else.

      • hellslittlestangel

        This can’t go on much longer.

        Hey, given global warming, it only has to go on another 40 or 50 years.

      • guthrie

        It kind of depends on what you mean by take the lead also, insofar as the rest of us are battling oligarchic takeovers like you are, so there isn’t so much we can do by ourselves.

    • Eric K

      I think the two biggest problems are Fundamentalist Christianity and Fox News.

      The first has resulted in a significant % (20%, more?) of the population who are single issue voters (even if they claim they aren’t) and will vote for the anti choice republican no matter what.

      The second is the only source of information for huge swaths of the population and they believe whatever Hannity etal tells them.

      • CP

        Fox News at the top, I think. And racism before fundamentalism. That’s just quibbling, but I think it’s true.

        • Eric K

          Yeah definitely Fox top, I didn’t mean 1,2 as rankings, just a list.

          I figure the racists are unreachable, we don’t need to get 100%, let them stay an anchor the Reps are stuck having to appeal to.

      • NewishLawyer

        Nah. They hate gay people too and want to force them back in the closet.

      • guthrie

        Wouldn’t it be better to say that a significant proportion of the elite has decided that they want more money and power for them now, therefore fox et al get free run, whereas in the past there was a little more concern with not letting the crazies out.

    • NewishLawyer

      Exactly so. The rest of the world is just going to look for ways to ignore the U.S. as much as possible. The only thing really saving us is the size of our economy, population, and what else can act as the world’s reverse currency? But we will no longer be respected. Foreign students will probably want to study at our universities less and less. We won’t be able to attract top researchers and artists, etc.

  • andrekenji

    Trump obsession with his children is typical of the caudillo/coronel of Latin America. He is one of them, just more politically incompetent.

  • JMP

    And yet the Republicans in Congress still refuse to put the good of the country over the good of their party and actually investigate the unprecedented levels of corruption in the White House, because they’ve decided that a Predisent of their party should be allowed to flagrantly violate the law whenever he wants to.

    If he were still alive, Warren G. Harding would have to be happy now that he’s only the second most corrupt President in American history.

    • Phil Perspective

      And yet the Republicans in Congress still refuse to put the good of the country over the good of their party and actually investigate the unprecedented levels of corruption in the White House, because they’ve decided that a President of their party should be allowed to flagrantly violate the law whenever he wants to.

      If the GOP cared about the country then C- Augustus would have never invaded Iraq. As has been said before, Trump isn’t unique. The GOP has long been a lawless party.

      • weirdnoise

        Yes, but only now have they been able to exercise that lawlessness without pretense.

    • Damon Poeter

      The ongoing Samovar Dome scandal certainly seems to be trumping old Warren’s grifts …

  • hellslittlestangel

    Since it’s always projection with right-wingers, The Orange Better One made it clear when he quoted, “You knew I was a snake when you picked me up.”

  • Terok Nor

    And he sold it as “Yeah, I’m corrupt as hell, and that shows that I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

  • Joe Paulson

    I was among many who thought it was f-ing crazy to think it was sane to have this guy in power and it wasn’t just that he was an incompetent shithead. It was he was a corrupt incompetent shithead.

  • AMK

    There’s always room to blame Citizens United for exponentially increasing American political corruption in a short time span. In the few years begore Trump, the GOP had already become thoroughly conditioned to accepting politics as a function of fellating various friendly oligarchs on behalf of “freedom of speech.” The step from there to outright kleptocracy is very natural and very short.

  • LeeEsq

    The media seems to be doing penance after messing up their part in the actual election.

    • Kevin

      Nah, the media just chases shiny objects that give it ratings. They don’t care about “penance” because that implies they did something wrong, and nuh uh! The Trump scandals make great TV because they continue every day, like a daytime soap. And Donald Trump is a TV character, not a real person, so it works perfectly.

      But don’t think for a second they have any shame about how they handled Wikilieaks trivial leaks, or how many hours they spent on Comey’s letter (and the answer to that is, all day every day for over 7 days, leading up to the weekend of the election).

      • Carpediem

        “But don’t think for a second they have any shame about how they handled
        Wikilieaks trivial leaks, or how many hours they spent on Comey’s letter
        (and the answer to that is, all day every day for over 7 days, leading
        up to the weekend of the election).”

        Worth repeating for emphasis.

        Scotian

      • Justin Runia

        Yeah, it’s win / win for those soap salesmen, as long as the ad buys keep rolling in.

  • stepped pyramids

    So why does the headline refer to this as an “email scandal” rather than a “collusion scandal”? Is it just reflex from two years’ worth of “Hillary email scandal dark clouds looming casting shadows raising questions” headlines, or is it just that “email” is easy to fit into a headline?

    At the very least it’s a “meeting scandal”. The email is just evidence of the meeting.

    • petesh

      True, and Chris Hayes has done a close read of the emails that strongly suggests there was a phone call prior to the meeting. Trump Sr seems to have moved on to the “Hey, wassamatta? Anyone would’ve” phase of denial, and they’re going to be under oath soon enough. This really could be the loose thread to pull on.

      • Mellano

        The Chris Cuomo interview gets into this too. Emin Agalarov’s attorney claims his client didn’t talk to Donald Trump, Jr. by phone, but can’t deny that somebody else might have, because it’s spelled out in writing.

        Right now in this specific case, arguably the email is at least as important as the actual meeting, because the email makes Don Jr.’s intentions (“I love it”) and awareness of Kremlin involvement undeniable in broadcasting-friendly form. Plus the content leads to more trails for investigators and reporters to follow. But yeah, ultimately the real scandal here is collusion, not the voluntary release of the email chain.

  • Hondo

    I’m surprised that someone like Merkel didn’t get up and leave when Ivanka sat in for Trump. It would have been great to see a half dozen heads of state to walk out of the meeting.
    I continue to hope that Trump, being such a fuck-up he will inevitably step of his own dick at some point, making it necessary to throw his ass out into the street. I know he would just be replaced with Pence, and that would be no better, but I’d love to see him thrown into the dustbin of history through a humiliating impeachment.

  • Abigail Nussbaum

    the GOP nominated, and then America elected, a shady, corrupt, marginally capable businessman for President of the United States.

    In the midst of all the conversation about Russia, Comey, the media, the long-term effects of Fox news, racism, and economic instability, I really want this to keep being hammered at. This was a massive failure of responsibility from everyone who had the power to stop it, and chose not to.

    And it also gets into the “only Democrats have agency” dynamic. Every week, it seems, someone here will start going on about how Hillary was an obviously awful candidate, and either imply or straight-out say that she shouldn’t have been put on the ticket even though she won the most votes in the primaries. Somehow, no one ever seems to think that it was the GOP’s responsibility to do something similar, even though Trump was by far the more obviously dangerous candidate.

    • Deborah Bender

      This is one of the drawbacks of having the presidential candidates of major parties determined by primaries instead of the older system of using primaries to reduce the field and having the final selection done by professional politicians, either super delegates or in the proverbial smoke filled rooms.

      The older system, which the Democrats have not entirely abandoned, frequently results in parties’ nominees for the top post being mediocrities, hacks, or petty grifters. It was and is good at excluding fanatics, demagogues, madmen and candidates who cannot work with other politicians. As I see it, the nominating process in the last election was that one party gave the power of decision to the pols, who nominated a somewhat better than average hack, and the other party gave the decision to the voters, who voted their emotions.

      We need more direct democracy in the general election and less direct democracy in the nominating process or this is going to keep happening.

      • FlipYrWhig

        This is an interesting provocation but ultimately IMHO a strange thing to say about a Democratic primary process that involved millions of people casting votes phased slowly over an extended period of time. Everyday people had all kinds of chances to pick someone who wasn’t the inside-track candidate; indeed they had done just that _the last time the process was run_, in 2008. They picked who they picked, deliberately and deliberatively.

      • Mellano

        This may well be a problem going forward. But ultimately is it a problem of the primary process or the electorate (as influenced by Fox News, Rush, etc in the right-wing propaganda industry)?

        IIRC the 2016 Republican primary process was crafted to give more power to party leaders. Either Trump swamped their efforts, or they didn’t foresee the circumstances that allowed him to split establishment votes.

        In 1964, Goldwater ran as an unfettered radical, and his supporters ratfucked their way to win a nomination that was much more heavily controlled by the proverbial smoke-filled rooms. Reagan in 1980 was backed by the party’s base, and while he wasn’t the choice of the party establishment, he was certainly acceptable to them. In 2000, the Republican base and leadership gave us Bush the Inadequate. The consequences of these nominations have done real damage to the American political system and set the stage for Trump’s win.

  • Damon Poeter

    This is relatively small potatoes but lost in the shuffle is that WH advisors crafted at least one of Don Jr’s shifting public statements on the meeting. He’s a ‘private citizen’, as his defenders so often like to shout, so isn’t using taxpayer money to spin PR for him a misappropriation of funds?

    • FlipYrWhig

      Yeah, this rather bothers me too, especially after all that ruckus over how as president Trump would be at arms’ length from his business interests, which his children would be attending to.

      • Carpediem

        HAHAHAHAHAH

        Oh wait, you were serious? Sorry. Slipped out of my reality into yours by mistake, leaving now…*pulls out quantum teleporter and gets the heck out of Dodge*

        Scotian

        Seriously, I am constantly bemused (I passed shocked, appalled, and many other states last Nov through this June) by the utter lack of real focus this lack of separation gets, but hey, when it is the small potatoes in the cornucopia of scandalous and arguably criminal behaviour that this WH breathes in and out on a minute to minute basis, not hard to see why, alas. Yet this in normal Presidencies (as in all others prior) this would be a BFD and then some. Just goes to show how much the measurements on the scales have been shifted to create a new normal/fulcrum point way over from where it used to be. Poor Lady Justice, always having Her scales futzed with in the Age of Trump.

        • FlipYrWhig

          Uh, maybe I’m being obtuse or something, but, in fact, yes, I was agreeing that it was a problem that would have been a major scandal in nearly any other context.

          • Carpediem

            Sorry, that was agreement with your agreement, I forgot, you folks aren’t familiar with the way my humour works. My bad. I tend towards very dry and understated, curse of loving British comedies growing up I suppose.

            The reality slipping part of the crack was about having come from another quantum reality where this sort of thing still was a BFD, time to return. Via Stewie Griffen’s Multiverse traveling tool I “liberated” from him but still…*chuckle* Namely that it was finding out about this lack of concern which told me I was in the wrong reality/universe from where I was trying to be. That was where I was going with it. Again, my apologies.

            Scotian

  • Yes. Trump told us exactly what he is. And a great many people embraced him exactly because of who he is. That is why the ‘Trumper on the street’ opinion of Trump never changes. They love him. He’s their guy, no matter what.

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