Trump: Russia Investigation (1)
Trump: Russia Investigation (2)
Trump: Russia Investigation (3)
Trump Parroting Russian Propaganda
Rachel Maddow identifies Trump’s comments that parrot Russian propaganda. Worth watching.
Defying history, Moscow moves to defend Soviet war in Afghanistan, @vkaramurza writes https://t.co/On2PKBf0pI
— Washington Post Opinions (@PostOpinions) December 8, 2018
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.
“I don’t mean to be an alarmist but…POTUS is echoing directly the line of the Kremlin on a whole bunch of things…. this is something U.S. Intel officials have to understand: why is the Pres. saying what hes saying?”- Chuck Rosenberg w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/8sLcnhRBIW
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) January 4, 2019
Trump relationship with Russia directly appears to support Putin interests. Increasingly POTUS actions dealing with Russian threats to the West are alarming. https://t.co/Hbubd2fwBN
— Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) January 4, 2019
Here’s the entire Deadline White House segment. It’s worth watching in my opinion.
Here’s a montage of Trump citing wikileaks:
The Russians, according to the @DHSgov bulletin released today, are spreading a message that echoes almost exactly with the President himself saying. https://t.co/uhmbHVZYYj— jonkarl (@jonkarl) September 3, 2020
24 thoughts on “Trump: Russia Investigation (4)”
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
Interesting article. Here’s the basic premise:
I’m not sure if I agree with everything think in this article, but the idea that Trump not being an agent would actually not speak well of Trump is something that resonates with me. If Trump is an agent because of blackmail or a desire to personally profit from the relationship, while these motives cast him in a bad light, they are understandable, and in the case of blackmail, maybe (maybe) we could have some degree of sympathy.
But if Trump is doing everything primarily because he is an autocrat and/or a mob boss at his core–that he understands and approaches leadership and governing like a tyrannical dictator or mob boss, and that he is totally ignorant of and/or has an aversion for Constitutional system of government and liberal democratic ideals–this would, in some ways, cast him in an even worse light. And not only Trump–it would also cast our electorate in a bad light.
But the groups that would, does, come out looking the worst are Congressional Republicans, Republican party, Fox News, and other conservative pundits that have supported Trump. Either way, they have wittingly or unwittingly supported, protected, and empowered a president that was either a Russian agent or an authoritarian.
What’s the best–most innocuous explanation–for Trump’s attempt to discredit the Mueller investigation, especially if Trump is actually innocent? Some ideas:
1. That’s just Trump’s style–he’s fighting back. But why would he fight back if he were innocent? If you’re innocent you don’t fight back by smearing Mueller’s integrity, dangle pardons to witnesses, ask your FBI director to drop an investigation on your recently fired National Security Adviser (for lying about Russian contacts). Is he just offended by the idea that he’s being investigated? If that’s true, that makes him some like a monarch or dictator–e.g., “How dare you question whether I cooperated with Russians to win the election!” He’s not above the law, and while he may claim this is a baseless investigation, there’s too much evidence and details that suggest otherwise. He should never have publicly called on Russia to release emails; he should have stopped trying to build a hotel in Moscow, or at least he should have been transparent. The list goes on.
2. Suppose Trump believes the investigation is primarily a political act. If he cares about the country and institutions like the DOJ and FBI, he would be careful about undermining the trust of those agencies. Based on his actions, he doesn’t really care, or is completely oblivious to the damage he’s doing–both are damning. It suggests he cares primarily about himself and not the important institutions in our country.
Additionally, the fact that Russia is attempting to undermine Mueller investigation should give him pause, too, shouldn’t it? Yeah it should–except we already know that he and his campaign made attempts to work with Russia to win the election and the Russians actually did interfere.
U.S. Withdraws from INF Treaty with Russia
I don’t know anything about this treaty (except in involves nuclear weapons). I don’t know if the comments below are accurate or not, but it’s something to consider:
Understanding Russian money-laundering and corruption is a critical contextual information to understanding the significance of the Trump-Russia matter. The article below describes the way Russia became this way and the way the U.S. has aided efforts to laundering money, not only from Russia but other countries as well. Perhaps the bigger point of the article is that corruption from Russia and other countries have also had a corrupting influence on our country, even before Trump became the president. Worth reading.
Here’s an excerpt about the CIA chief in Russia, who testified to Congress in the late 90s:
Americans shouldn’t be only concerned about donations to politicians–but any donations to institutions, private businesses, and any prominent individual from Russia or any corrupt country. Anyone that takes money can be corrupted, and the danger is that these entities will work for the interests of Russia and other countries, either through the influence of money or even blackmail.
How Team Trump keeps changing its story in the Russia investigation
CNN does a good job of presenting the information, organizing the information into two columns, featuring then and now statements.
What is known:
Trump hasn’t released his tax forms or divested his business (even though he claimed to put the latter in a “blind trust”).
Trump was trying to get a hotel built in Russia, which extended into the 2016 campaign.
Trump has been strangely deferential to Putin, even publicly disagreeing with the U.S. intelligence’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Counter-intel investigation on Trump campaign and Russia, as far as I know, is still ongoing and status of Trump and members of his campaign is unknown (i.e., not in the clear).
Congressional GOP, the party that ostensibly valued national security, doesn’t seem to care about any of this.
U.S. Politicians with Red Flags
Thread on Rand Paul:
Lavrov in the White House–Again!
So crazy and outrageous. I believe Trump met with Lavrov without the press. I don’t if Trump without any U.S. officials, too. Crazy. Trump and the GOP are Putinists.
Here’s Trump in June in Osaka making light of Russian meddling in the 2020 election. It’s the opposite of protecting the election.
This is real life not a Le Carre novel.
This article chronicles how White House staff and IC repeatedly tried to convince Trump that a) Russia interfered in the 2016 election and b) Ukraine did not. US officials were perplexed about why Trump had such difficulty letting go that Ukraine interfered.
What are the possible explanations for this?
–Trump’s narcissism preventing him from accepting that Russia interfered (and helped him win), while also making the false story that Ukraine helped Clinton being too hard to resist;
–Trump maybe also wants to please Putin because he wants future business;
–Russia has compromising material on Trump;
–Trump has an authoritarian mindset and admires Putin and wants Putin’s respect and admiration.
Any other plausible explanations? All these above are awlful. I think they all equal to him being grossly unfit and a national security risk.
Newly unredacted portions of the Mueller report show that Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Michael Cohen told investigators Stone had promised the campaign damaging revelations by WikiLeaks. from Buzzfeed News
Salient points to remember with regard to this:
1. My understanding is that U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has designated Wikileaks as a Russian cutout. That is, Russian will give Wikileaks information that will damage politicians or institutions to achieve Russian goals. Wikileaks releases the information and Russia can deny involvement.
2. U.S. IC has repeatedly said Russian goals are to weaken the U.S. be exacerbating divisions. Also, Putin wanted to politically damage Hillary Clinton.
3. The recent news shows that Trump was that people in his campaign or associated with his campaign (e.g., Roger Stone) were communicating with outside groups to get info that would hurt Clinton. (I believe Stone communicated with Guccifer 2.0, who turned out to be tied to Russian military intelligence. Don Jr. had discussions via email with wikileaks about campaign strategy as well. And of course, they met with the Russian lawyer to get dirt on Clinton.)
If this is not collusion this is at least attempts at coordination with Russia or Russian cutouts to win the election. (Trump and his campaign never told the FBI and lied about this afterwards as well.)
4. Trump has not revealed his taxes, divested his business, and was attempting to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. (I believe the attempt ended in June 2016.)
If this applied to any presidential candidate, this should end their candidacy. Just think if Joe Biden said, “Russia–or China, Iran, North Korea–if you’re listening, if you find recordings, texts or emails from Trump’s phone, please release them,” and then had members of his campaign contact representatives or cutouts of these countries, discussing ways to beat Trump–and never telling the FBI about this, and lying about doing these things later. All this would be wrong and really bad for our elections and our democracy. Someone who cared about our country would never do this. Someone who did this doesn’t love our country, is not deserving of our trust, and is completely unfit to be the POTUS.
Trump Keeps Taking Russia’s Side and We Don’t Know Why from Jonathan Chait of the New York Magazine
On August 2, 2020, this remains true, and I think this is one of many things that will confound future generations. How could we tolerate this situation? Why weren’t there investigations? Why was the public so complacent about this?
In any event, Chait makes a good observation about the difference between Trump’s treatment of Russia and Germany.
He goes on to point out two odd aspects of Trump’s approach to Germany. First, punishing Germany by pulling out troops seems to be Trump’s idea–it’s not something pushed by people in his administration or even Fox News pundits. Second, driving a wedge between the U.S. and Germany is a Russian goal. Chait says more:
What explains this? Maybe Trump just really likes Putin specifically and autocrats in general, while he doesn’t get along with liberal democratic leaders. On some level this is plausible. It’s believable that the values and principles embraced by the latter, particularly to the rule of law and democratic institutions that can constrain a leader, would alienate and even annoy Trump, while Trump would get along with leaders with an authoritarian/illiberal approach (e.g., hostility towards a free press, anti-corruption laws, a system of checks and balances, etc.) But this explanation is still damning.
Additionally, it’s not mutually exclusive from the hypothesis Trump is compromised by Putin–or that he wants to curry favor in hopes of helping his business.
As Chait says, Trump could do a lot to weaken this hypothesis if he released his tax forms–and I would add–divest his business. But he has done neither. Therefore, a very reasonable suspicion remains. And I think it’s remarkable that the GOP has tolerated this.
Trump also knew about this:
The the final volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election released today
I’ve only seen bits and pieces of this, and while none of this is new revelations, the Senate report, the only bi-partisan Congressional investigation (according to the WaPo article below) reconfirms important and damning details about Trump and his campaign–important because William Barr is in the process of trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the investigation. Here are some conclusions (from a WaPo article) that should be considered in light of Barr’s efforts.
Note that Trump and his congressional supporters, during the impeachment trial, also pushed the idea that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election–an idea Dr. Fiona Hill urged members of Congress not to promote, as it was a false, Russian talking point. Takeaway: Trump and his supporters are promoting false, Russian propaganda–helping the Russians.
On this last point, consider what Sen. Richard Burr (R), who used to chair the committee said,
Undermining faith in our democratic process–sowing chaos discord–that’s a Russian goal. By promoting Russian talking propaganda, Trump and his supporters are aiding the Russians. And when Trump and his supporters casts doubt on the election results, he’s helping the Russians achieve these Russian objectives.
Now, I want to acknowledge that there can be legitimate concerns about the integrity of the elections. But if the POTUS and his supporters know that Russians are attempting to undermine the integrity of it, if they were responsible they would be more cautious in how they raise these concerns. I would also expect them to warn Russia not to interfere. Trump has not only not done that, he’s indicated he’s open to this, if it helps him win. All of this in my view warrant impeachment and removal–and I would seriously consider doing it now.
We have email (or texts) between Trump Jr. and this lawyer, with Jr. expressing enthusiasm if the lawyer had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The Trump campaign met in Trump Tower about this.
Trump and his supporters insist there was no collusion. How are these two examples not examples of collusion? My understanding is that collusion is not a legal term, so it’s not like these two things fail to meet the legal definition. Put aside that word–there’s ample evidence of cooperation, seeking assistance, coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian contacts.
It should be noted that thet report did point out criticisms of the FBI’s handling of the investigation as well:
I suspect these are the details Barr and Trump supporters will use to de-legitimize the investigation. To me, the facts about Manafort, the meeting at Trump Tower overshadow the mistakes that the FBI made. And while I’m not saying those mistakes are OK, who thinks that the investigation wasn’t warranted, that it was a hoax?
There are also other damning facts like Roger Stone’s interaction with wikileaks and Russian GRU officer (Guccifer 2.0); members of the Trump campaign not telling the FBI about these contacts and lying about them.
Here’s one about Roger Stone and wikileaks:
How is this not collusion?
Also, the following is why US IC believes wikileaks is a front from Russian intelligence operations:
Senator McConnell’s tweet today regarding the report:
This is rich. The POTUS is also part of “the others.” But McConnell and other congressional Republicans either sit by or actively help the POTUS undermine critical Democratic. I will also forever remember McConnell threatening to say that Obama was trying to tip the scales of the election when Obama asked all the Gang of 8 to speak out against Russian interference. He put the party ahead of the country to a degree that I find almost traitorous. He’s one of the most despicable Americans in my lifetime.
Hard evidence at last that shreds Trump’s lies about a Russia ‘hoax’, David Ignatius WaPo op-ed highlights portion of the Senate report, a report that Ignatius rightly emphasizes was lead by Senate Republicans.
Thread from Lincoln Project, summarizing the ramifications of the Republican-lead Senate report on Trump-Russia in the 2016 election.
Below is Rubio’s response to the report, which I find repugnant. I’ll explain below:
Rubio is play semantic games with the word “collusion,” almost to an Orwellian degree. Bottom line: Rubio knows the actions of Trump and his campaign were wrong–and even disqualifying. But he decides to down play what they did, giving cover to Trump–putting his party over the country.
As an aside, Rubio is an example of doing politics in the wrong way. There are some politicians that do politics wrong by being too idealistic or even too ideological. For pragmatic reasons, this is not the way a politician should operate–they won’t get anything done and likely won’t be re-elected. But Rubio and others like him are at the other end of the spectrum. While good politicians need to sometimes make compromises, even bending important principles and ideals, at times, there are limits–there are lines that should not be crossed. Rubio flip-flops, moving from one claim to its opposite, way too easily and frequently. And now he’s crossing a line that should never be crossed. I’ll never consider him as a serious presidential candidate, and I think he should be voted out of office.
This is dang good question to ask:
The most compelling, least irrational-sounding, explanation for Trump’s behavior towards Putin
WaPo has a write-up of Michael Cohen (“Trump’s fixer”) upcoming book. There are quotes and details that I’m sure will cause a stir, at least to some degree, but I’m going to focus seemingly less sensational details, which, if true, create a plausible reasons for Trump’s behavior towards Russia. In short, it comes down to two things: 1) Trump admired Putin for his wealth and the way he ran Russia and 2) he wanted to kiss up to Putin in the hopes of financially benefited from this.
Here are the relevant quotes:
What this amounts to is: Trump admires autocrat. And given how he speaks and behaves, it seems clear to me that he’s trying to emulate Putin (and wants Putin to admire him). It would be interesting to if a reporter asked Trump if he values Putin’s opinion and advice on how to govern.
Whether he really admires (“loves”) Putin or not, that’s largely speculative and I’m not sure it’s entirely critical. What’s more important is what we’ve seen and heard from Trump suggests an authoritarian approach to governing that is not compatible with U.S. system of government. If this is accurate, this should absolutely be made clear to American voters. Is this what they want in a president?
The idea that Trump approached the 2016 election as a way to enrich himself afterward–via “sucking up to Putin”–is really compelling to me. If I’m not mistaken Trump would do things that would seem like he didn’t care about winning. Maybe he didn’t want to win, and didn’t think he would. This also explains why his campaign was relatively reckless with their various contacts with Russian representatives (although I think there’s a strong possibility that they were clueless and actually didn’t think they were doing anything wrong). When they lost, no one would care or investigate thoroughly. But they won.
The quoted paragraph below follows right after the quoted paragraph above:
Cohen doesn’t say that Trump wasn’t trying to win, so if he was trying to win then the paragraph makes sense. Trump wants to hurt Hillary because that helps him win the election (i.e., amassing more power), and realizes the Russians want to hurt Hillary–or he realizes they want to help Trump.
Put aside the terms collusion and conspiracy. Trump and Russia has common interests, and Trump accepts, even actively encourages, any that can help him. And this is regardless if Russians ultimate goals are to hurt the U.S. How is this not betraying the country?
And something similar seems to be happening now in the 2020 election.
This goes back to being nice to Putin to help Trump’s current and future profits. The one thing I want to point out is the section in bold. That statement resonates with me in relation to the recent Atlantic article–Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’
In the article some of those interviewed mention their belief that Trump can’t see beyond purely transactional relationships. If you’re not financially profiting, you’re a “sucker” and a “loser.” If Cohen’s account and the hypothesis above are accurate, then this is an example of Trump treating the election as purely in a transactional way. That is, he’s using the election primarily for financial gain–even at the expense of the nation’s interests. The thing is, there is evidence of this since the election. He never divested his business (even though he acted as if he did), and he’s been using the office to enrich himself ever since. Donald Trump really seems to be putting his personal wealth ahead of the country.
Finally, I would add the hypothesis above is not mutually exclusive from the Russians having kompromat or financial ties with Trump.
I would guess that if Cohen doesn’t have recordings of what he claims Trump says (about Christians, his supporters, racists remarks, etc.), what he writes may have very little impact. And even with recordings, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Christians and his followers wouldn’t change their minds.
I just saw this excerpt from the book which is so over-the-top nuts that I had to laugh in disbelief:
Can this really be true? If so, you gotta question is mental condition.
OK, here’s a clip of the video, which came out in 2012:
It seems like this was for something to be aired (for 2012 RNC?)–I was under the impression he just did it for himself without every intending to air it. Not good, but far less crazy than I originally thought.
In the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But given everything else we know about Trump-Russia, this does raise some questions:
This strongly suggests collusion between Trump (via Giuliani) and Russia has been going on since December 2019.
White House was warned Giuliani was target of Russian intelligence operation to feed misinformation to Trump from WaPo
It seems like Giuliani didn’t listen to the warnings. Same with Trump.
Watch Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence saying Russia is interfering (likening them the election as the Super Bowl and the Russia a the “Patriots” of interference–kinda apt, but I digress). Also stay to the end where O’Donnell asks if Rudy talking with an active Russian agent is a national security threat. (How is this not aiding and abetting Russia?)
Also, a thread from the twitter account of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
I said, “Holy heck,” when I first heard this. But it might just just more information that confirms existing suspicions–versus pointing to something more nefarious. But I tend to believe McCabe, and I doubt the information would put Trump in a positive light.
I wasn’t sure where to put this, but this seemed like the best thread. Russia’s Latest Sanctions on U.S. Officials Turn to Trump Enemies from the NYT