Trump: Russia Investigation (3)

Trump: Russia Investigation (1)
Trump: Russia Investigation (2)

Trump Parroting Russian Propaganda

Rachel Maddow identifies Trump’s comments that parrot Russian propaganda. Worth watching.

Why is Trump spouting Russian propaganda? He must have (or had) aides and advisers telling he was doing that. Why doesn’t he stop? Why does he seem to believe the propaganda and Putin over his American staff? Even if Russia doesn’t have leverage over Trump, at best, Trump doing this has to be problematic and worrying.


Here’s the entire Deadline White House segment. It’s worth watching in my opinion.

3 thoughts on “Trump: Russia Investigation (3)

  1. First thought: It’s insane that the FBI was investigating a sitting U.S. President for secretly working with an adversarial country.

    Second thought: Trump supporters are going to say the FBI was out to get Trump. This would be a concern of mine, too, but one thing I’d examine is if there is any compelling reasons to justify such actions. Without these reasons, then that would suggest the move was political. But there seems to be so many compelling reasons for opening an investigation. Indeed, there are so many, thinking of them all is difficult. Here’s a few the Times mentions:

    Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.


    In the months before the 2016 election, the F.B.I. was also already investigating four of Mr. Trump’s associates over their ties to Russia. The constellation of events disquieted F.B.I. officials who were simultaneously watching as Russia’s campaign unfolded to undermine the presidential election by exploiting existing divisions among Americans.

    There’s so much more as well.

    Here’s a third thought: The Congressional GOP and conservative media are truly betraying the country. They are ignoring so many significant red flags, putting their party ahead of the country.


    Wittes takes focuses on something from the Times piece I should have emphasized, and explores the implications of this–namely, Trump’s actions that could constitute obstruction of justice, could also be seen as a national security threat because an act like firing Director Comey was a way to interfere with investigating and understanding Russia’s interference in the election and the way this posed a threat (which includes Americans or Russians assisting in the process).

    He makes some other points as well, but I’m too lazy to summarize.


    The recent news doesn’t surprise me, but confirmation that FBI opened counter-intel investigation against a sitting president reminds me how insane everything is.

    I will step back and try to take a reasonable approach at the possibility that Russia has suborned the POTUS to act in their interests, and he’s aware of this or not….Again, let me acknowledge taht uttering these words, seriously entertaining this idea, seems insane, and I’m sure makes me sound unhinged. But look at a few points:

    1. If we imagine someone like this, in what ways would they be acting different from Trump? To say it another way: Is there any evidence to provide make this claim plausible? If there is little or no evidence, then, yes, you could call me unhinged. But if there is quite a bit of evidence and reason to suspect Trump of being an agent, then you can’t really dismiss the notion;

    2. Trump has done things that has served Russia’s interests (e.g., undermining NATO, EU; used divisive rhetoric for domestic issues, etc.), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s under the Russia’s influence. Trump could be doing these things for legitimate or benign reasons. Maybe he genuinely believes undermining NATO, unless they pay more for their defense, is in the interests of the U.S. Maybe he believes that being nice to Putin and getting along with Russia is also in the best interests of the country.

    OK. If this is the case, here’s what I would need to see. First, I would need him to explain the reasons these things are so critical. He’s has to show that he has good reasons for doing this. (It’s better to get along versus not getting along with Russia is not a good reason), and the burden on him is greater given that he has refused to release his tax forms or divest his business. If he had done both that would help us see that he was trustworthy and not in a position to profit or be blackmailed with regard to his approach to Russia. He also was not upfront about trying to build a hotel in Russia, which was an effort that was ongoing during the campaign. There are other reasons, and all of these reasons make his position a tough sell.

    Second, I’m sure advisers and Republicans have made him aware of Russia’s approach to undermining our country. He has to know this, but he has basically chosen to ignore it and continue to behave in ways that help undermine the country. Perhaps one could argue that Trump’s narcissism, rather than being under Russian influence, explains his behavior. That’s possible, but it does’t preclude Russian influence. Moreover, I’m not sure narcissism absolves Trump–he’s still behaving in ways that assists Russia achieve it’s objectives, in spite of people around him telling him that he’s doing so. If he can’t explain why this is in our country’s best interest–if he doesn’t really try–then it doesn’t seem that much different than if he was under Russian influence.


    I saw a comment on twitter about knowing whether Trump is acting on his best interests or the country. My comment: It’s extremely difficult, or impossible to know, and that’s largely because Trump has refused to release his tax forms and divest his best. The degree of trust we have to give him is unreasonable, and it’s unwarranted because he has not behaved in way to earn that trust; really, it’s just the opposite.


    Thread from Clint Watts, former FBI Special Agent:

    Regarding this NYT story from this weekend, imagine you are a FBI Agent working Russian counterintelligence in 2016 and you witness the following:

    – you witnessed Russian hackers targeting a wide swath of Americans including the DNC, DCCC, former Secretary of State & a Presidential candidates staff

    – someone previously targeted by Russian Intelligence joins the Trump campaign and then appears on a stage in Moscow supporting Russia policy and speaking negatively of US policy

    – A Presidential candidate hires a new campaign manager whose not been in the business in the states for years, but has been seen pushing a Russian agenda in Ukraine and has Russian intel contacts

    – an Australian official contacts you and says the Russians have stolen emails of a Presidential candidate & may want to give them to the candidate’s competitor

    – a Russian lawyer & others tied to Russian government visit a Presidential candidate’s son in the candidate’s building in NYC

    – Candidate Trump stands on a stage and calls out Russia and asks about emails from his competitor, says they will be rewarded if they have them and release them

    – website that’s released sensitive & classified documents from US for years, helped deliver a US insider to The Kremlin, begins publishing document & emails during Dem convention, content you know was stolen by Russia. Site administrator once hosted a TV show on Russia State TV

    – A strange, unexpected policy change occurs at RNC convention, the change is a less supportive position toward Ukraine and is advantageous to Russia
    11 replies 123 retweets 556 likes

    – candidate’s campaign manager goes on CNN and asserts a false terrorist attack in Turkey, one tied to and advanced by Russian propaganda

    – during this time, you watch a campaign associate tweet with a Russian account that’s pointing people to stolen documents from the opposing campaign. The campaign associate predicts something will happen to the opposing campaign manager- his emails are later released

    – as Election Day approaches, Presidential candidate makes allegation, without evidence, voter Fraud & Election Rigging, Russia propaganda echoes this, social media accounts associated Kremlin do the same, at same time, you watch Russian Hackers hit state election infrastructure

    -After election, current President issues sanctions against Russia, but the incoming National Security advisor makes calls to Russian officials from 3rd country, when approached for clarification post inauguration, the advisor lies about contents of phone call w/Russian officials

    I’m almost sure there is a lot more to add. Various members of the campaign lied about contacts with Russia–Don Jr., Jeff Sessions, and Mike Flynn (who also has sketchy contacts with Russia, and given that Obama advised Trump to not select him as National Security Adviser, I have to wonder if FBI had other alarming information about Flynn). If Trump campaign never told FBI about contacts with Russian representatives, even after being warned, that would be a huge red flag as well. Jared Kushner, who has outstanding debts, spoke with the Russian Ambassador who set up a meeting with former Russian bank president. (The bank and the guy also have red flags.) Trump was also casting doubt on US intelligence community’s claim that Russian was interfering. Trump wouldn’t say negative things about the Russian President. Trump also didn’t release tax forms or divest his business. I’d also be surprise if FBI (and US IC) didn’t know Trump’s financial situation, or at least see red flags about where his money was coming from, interactions with Russian organized criminals, signs of money laundering.

    Watts has added more to the thread since my previous post:

    During summer fall leading into the election, you receive raw intelligence from highly reliable source whose proven invaluable on other investigations. source provides intelligence on Russia’s efforts to support a presidential candidate, the info is consistent with other info

    Before inauguration your bosses, your leaders from all intelligence agencies brief president elect on classified info showing Russia influenced the election on behalf of President elect. President elect rejects intelligence from all your superiors and suggests Russia innocent

    From the summer of 2015 all the way through the election and after inauguration, you watch as the candidate, president elect and now president offers overt effusive support for Vladimir Putin who you know has been helping the President get elected.

    Shortly after inauguration, your new commander-in-chief spouts false information about Polish aggression toward Belarus. This is not supported by the Intelligence community you are in, and the only source for this viewpoint is Russian propaganda

    During this period, the President inexplicably and repeatedly asks your boss if he’s under investigation with regards to Russia, despite your boss and other intel heads going out of their way to brief the President about Kremlin efforts to potentially compromise & manipulate him

    I’ll amend if Watts adds more comments later.

    1. The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

      As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.

      (emphasis added)


      Former U.S. officials said that Trump’s behavior is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents, who have relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments.

      The article implies that this practice is exclusive to Putin. I’m not sure if this is accurate, but I don’t recall reading anything explicit in the article.


      Interesting insights into why the note taking of meeting with foreign leaders, especially of an adversarial country, is important.

    2. Some think this is damning. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it would have bee better if he added an emphatic, “No!”


      Here he provides a clearer answer.

      I agree with Bharara:

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