Thursday, May 24, 2018

Collusion With Russia Happened

The Hill recently reported that 59% of Americans do not believe that the Mueller investigation has revealed any crimes.  In light of the over a dozen indictments handed down and multiple guilty pleas that have occurred, that percentage is shocking.  Obviously, far too many Americans are too lazy and/or stupid and bigoted to keep themselves politically informed - it baffles me how men in particular can talk about sports teams yet know nothing about activities in Congress or the General Assembly.  Add to this laziness/idiocy the constant bellowing of Der Trumpenführer that no collusion occurred despite facts to the contrary that resonates all too well with his base that eats up every racist taunt Trump throws out or the Christofascists thrilled by every anti-LGBT action taken by the Trump/Pence regime.  Indeed, a piece in The Atlantic lays out why Trump's claims of "no collusion" are lies, just like so much of what comes out of his braying mouth.   Here are article highlights:

Trump aides colluded with foreign governments.  This is a simple, straightforward statement, and by this point, it ought to be an uncontroversial one. There’s ample evidence on many fronts, from legal documents to reliable reporting. . . . . it  . . . . mean that attempts to dismiss the Russia investigation as a witch hunt that lacks any evidence are not merely disingenuous—they’re simply wrong.
What do we mean by collusion? As the Columbia Journalism Review explored last year, there are a range of meanings, but a clean synthesis would be a secret compact or conspiracy with an illegal or deceitful aim. The examples of such cooperation, between Trump aides and agents of foreign governments, abound. So far, three people have pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about it. The unresolved question, at this stage of the investigation, is not whether such cooperation was attempted; it’s how successful it proved, how large an impact it actually had, who was involved, and whether they broke any laws.
There is, most prominently, the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, where Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer they believed had damaging information to offer about Hillary Clinton. In another meeting in August 2016, also at Trump Tower, former Blackwater chief Erik Prince (the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos) brought together an Israeli social-media specialist and an emissary who said the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi wanted to aid the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos carried on conversations with at least two people he believed had substantial connections to the Russian government. Roger Stone, an on-again, off-again Trump adviser, exchanged messages with the hacker Guccifer 2.0, a Russian intelligence agent who released emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
This leaves out plenty of other examples of peculiar but less fleshed-out stories, including Trump campaign aide Carter Page’s mysterious trips to Russia and Hungary; fired National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s post-election discussions with Russia; and Jared Kushner’s reported attempt to establish a “back channel” to allow the Trump transition team to communicate with Russia outside of standard channels. There may be other examples that are not yet known to the public.
In June 2016, for example, publicist Rob Goldstone wrote to Donald Trump Jr.:
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump—helped along by Aras and Emin.
Trump Jr. infamously replied, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Yet despite the evidence, and despite people like Steve Bannon acknowledging it, the question of whether or not collusion occurred persists well past its expiration date, lingering like a flat-earth theory. That there is still a debate is a testament to [Trump's] the president’s persistence in saying that no collusion occurred loudly and repeatedly, and in his strongest supporters’ willingness to believe him and take up the banner.
Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team about a month ago, is taking a different line of argument: instead of denying that the Trump campaign colluded, saying it simply doesn’t matter because that didn’t break the law.
This is all actually a replay of last summer’s arguments. The emails that Trump Jr. released about the June 2016 meeting made clear that the Trump campaign was perfectly willing to collude, and was in fact frustrated that Veselnitskaya couldn’t deliver the goods Goldstone had implied.
[T]here were a couple of flaws with the claim. First, it wasn’t clear that everyone would react that way. Former campaign staffers of both parties expressed shock that the Trump team had gone forward with the meeting, bringing up concrete examples where campaigns had gone to law enforcement in less egregious circumstances. Furthermore, although there is no crime of “collusion” per se, it is quite possible that a campaign-finance law could have been violated. Despite what Giuliani says about the source of the information not mattering, foreign nationals are prohibited from contributing to campaigns, and opposition research could represent an in-kind contribution.
This week, Trump is in a tizzy over the revelation that there was an informant passing information to the FBI about the ties between some Trump campaign staffers and Russia.Trump contends that there was no collusion, and that his campaign was being spied upon by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department for political reasons. The accusation of political spying has no evidence to back it up.
If there was no collusion, and not even any evidence of collusion, it would be strange and disturbing for the FBI to be interested in what was going on inside the Trump campaign.
Yet we know that isn’t the case, because there was collusion. There was the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the August 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Papadopoulos’s contacts (which triggered the FBI’s investigation) and more. . . . . it gives a plausible reason why the FBI was interested in the Trump campaign.
There are many questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election that remain unanswered. Whether there was collusion between Trump aides and foreign governments is not one of them.

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