Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A TrumpWorld Grab-Bag Full of Interesting People

The G20 (or was it G19?) Summit in Hamburg has given us the first glimpse of President Trump's potential working relationship with respect to the guy many of us have been wondering about, Mr. Steal Your Election, Vladimir Putin. I'm just going to come out with it--it went as one would expect.  Mr. Trump has not ever unequivocally stated that he thought Russia was behind the hack of the DNC and the emails of Clinton associate John Podesta, and in fact, his Tweet just prior to meeting Putin conflated the two separate but important hacks to deride their importance:

Notes: no one was talking about this because the US election happened in 2016 and the hacks are not actually relevant anymore, unless somehow, world leaders are curious about how everything in the US was so shambolic as to somehow result in a Trump presidency--alleging this is not a great look for POTUS. But John Podesta didn't run the DNC, and the CIA had nothing to do with that investigation, and also, the FBI didn't need the server to uncover the DNC hack because they already knew about it. So much wrong in one Tweet? Or--so much deliberate obfuscation when Trump's war to establish his legitimacy will never end because of the Russian asterisk?

But as to the actual meeting between Putin and Trump--the warm handshake and backslap instead of Trump's usual tug-o-war approach to manual greetings? The supposedly 30 minutes scheduled that became nearly 2 1/2 hours? The lack of note-taking and the letting Russia get out their message first: that Putin expressed that he had nothing to do with the hacks and Trump accepted that, getting right under the statement the WH and US State Department wanted to make about Trump "confronting" Russia with the allegations?

It's fucking dumb, and we have no reason at all to believe Trump really pressed an issue he is pathologically incapable of dealing with publicly. He still wants to have it both ways--deny Russia had bugger-all to do with anything, and blame the previous administration for not doing more. Why would that somehow change now that he's meeting his hero, who points out the mean reporters who insults him with the kind of menace only an autocrat-lover can really appreciate?

But what can I say that doesn't sound obvious to people who know my point of view? Trump's entourage think (publicly) that Trump handled himself brilliantly.  I'd respect them more if I had a sense their nonpublic thoughts were any different. Trump never seems able to act like his ass isn't owned by Putin. He wanted to provide "deliverables" and had no foreign policy "asks" of his own set up. He ended up with a possible commitment to partner on cybersecurity with a nation that is trying to hack us on the regular.  Because if I'm mugged, I want to go fight crime with my mugger. It's insulting to any functioning intelligence, is what it is.

There's more grab-bag than just Trump's conduct at G20, though. The NYT just came out with a fascinating story about Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Paul Manafort and a Kremlin-backed lawyer.  This is crazy-interesting. For one thing, most folks know what Manafort was about. But the lawyer in question, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is interesting because of a thing called the Magnitsky Act, which targets human rights abusers. Russia has done considerable lobbying to try and effect US position on this. It's not Trump Jr's first connection with dodgy Russian business.  It just seems to go to show that weird Russian connections were a family affair. But keep in mind, Magnistsky is also about money-laundering.  I feel like this will come up in future Mueller-related proceedings, in which money-laundering and assorted business contacts could feature heavily.

All this is just to say that while Trump wants to "move on" and Putin wants to "move on" from the 2016 election interference, this is not likely to happen. They still have some stuff to answer for.

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