Monday, April 03, 2017

Trump/Russia Collusion - Dwindling Odds of Coincidence

We continue to live in frightening times.  In the White House we have a malignant narcissist who continues to obfuscate, engage in tweet storms of lies, and shout out "fake news" to distract the media, but especially his supporters from the reality that he and his circle of henchmen and cronies may be guilty of treason and colluded with a foreign enemy to throw the 2016 presidential election to himself.  One of the tools?  Fake news of the type he decries orchestrated by Russian operatives in Russia which targeted states he "won" by razor thin margins.  While the Senate Intelligence Committee appears to be trying to conduct  a legitimate investigation of Trump and company, sadly the House Intelligence Committee chair appears driven to protect and collude with the target of the committee's investigation.  Nonetheless, the chances of that all of the smoke revealed so far being mere coincidence is dwindling.  A column in the New York Times looks at this reality.  Here are excerpts:
We are still not conclusively able to connect the dots on the question of whether there was any coordination or collusion between members of Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians who interfered in our election to benefit him, but those dots do continue to multiply at an alarming rate.
First, and we have to keep saying this because this fact keeps getting obscured in the subterfuge of deflection, misdirection and ideological finger-pointing about what has yet to be proven: It is absolutely clear that the Russians did interfere in our election. This is not a debatable issue. This is not fake news. This is not a witch hunt. This happened.
The investigations, rightly, are seeking to figure out exactly how and to what degree, and those questions obviously depend on knowing more about campaign contacts with Russian meddlers.
We continue to learn of new contacts between people in Trump’s orbit and Russians during the campaign.
t doesn’t truly surprise me that Flynn would want immunity, although according to his own words, requests for immunity can often signal guilt. I am tantalized by this “story” he has to tell. What does that mean? It feeds the beast of speculation lurching around this administration.
Also last week The Times reported:
“A pair of White House officials helped provide Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.”
This signals another area of possible collusion — related not only to what happened during the election but also about the independence and impartiality of the investigation into what happened during the election.
There is something here . . . . To be sure, Donald Trump is a despicable man and an awful president who deserves whatever he gets. He is crude, a liar, a bully and a cheat. He is vainglorious and vengeful.
It is not clear to me that America — and indeed the world — can survive a full-term Trump presidency.
But there are no real winners here, regardless of what the current investigations reveal. Russia has already unveiled an incredible vulnerability in our electoral process — the relatively cheap vehicles of information disclosure and propaganda advancement — and the damage that has already been done to faith in the system will not only be hard to measure, but hard to erase.
If coordination or collusion with the Russians by anyone on the Trump campaign is revealed, just as important is the question of “What then?”
Polls continue to find a strong appetite for the ultimate remedy: Trump’s impeachment. You would get no resistance from me if it ever came to that. But I also understand the order of succession and that, too, gives me pause.
It moves from the zealot Mike Pence, to the weasel Paul Ryan, to anti-abortion crusader Orrin Hatch, to Rex “Russian Order of Friendship” Tillerson, to the former Hollywood producer Steven Mnuchin . . . The list goes on and on.
Yes, an administration without Trump would be less of an international embarrassment and exceedingly more predictable, but these men have all cozied up to Trump or were picked by him, so there is little daylight among them on policy.
[W]e must clear the hurdle of finding out exactly what happened and who was involved. That could take months, if not years.
We must now decide how to process the mounting suggestions of impropriety.
The journalistic caution in me keeps having to write that these could all be coincidences, but the journalistic instinct has learned long ago that coincidence is the albino alligator of political reality: It exists, but is exceedingly rare.

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