Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Sunday, December 31, 2017

This TrumpWorld Grab-Bag Has Been Out Drinking

The New York Times tale of how the FBI investigation into the Trump-Russia connection really began, not with the Steele dossier, but with an Australian diplomat being told interesting and alarming things by Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, is an absolute delight. It squares away some important details--for one thing, the Steele dossier (which is not, despite the best efforts of Trump and his supporters to pretend it is, actually discredited) did not spur the investigation, but the actual behavior of the Trump campaign folks did.

It also highlights a disturbing feature of the Trump campaign--when presented with various contacts alleging that illicitly gained "dirt" had been obtained by Russia, a hostile actor regarding US interests, and that said dirt was being peddled with the intent of fuxx0ring a US election, instead of bringing this to the attention of anyone involved in national security like responsible patriotic citizens would have done, the Trump boys rolled with it. It was up to Alexander Downer, an Australian, and Christopher Steele, a Briton, to do the necessary and give the US government a heads-up about what was going on. Which either means that the Trump folks never understood the intent or implications of what these various Russian contacts were for (undermining democracy and helping either sway an election, or effectively dirtying a nascent Clinton Administration so badly as to render it ineffective) or simply did not care.  Or both. Both is also a possibility, and a sickening and grave one.

The story moots the central claim from Trumpists that George Papadopoulos was low-level, and therefore, what he knew was not relevant. It also reinforces, to me, the idea that the Trump Campaign openness to this kind of attention from Russia was clearly visible, and not nearly so covert as the geniuses running it seemed to believe. (In rather the same way as the apparent coordination between Russia/WikiLeaks/Trump messaging would turn out.)

From the NYT:

Mr. Papadopoulos was trusted enough to edit the outline of Mr. Trump’s first major foreign policy speech on April 27, an address in which the candidate said it was possible to improve relations with Russia. Mr. Papadopoulos flagged the speech to his newfound Russia contacts, telling Mr. Timofeev that it should be taken as “the signal to meet.”

“That is a statesman speech,” Mr. Mifsud agreed. Ms. Polonskaya wrote that she was pleased that Mr. Trump’s “position toward Russia is much softer” than that of other candidates.

Stephen Miller, then a senior policy adviser to the campaign and now a top White House aide, was eager for Mr. Papadopoulos to serve as a surrogate, someone who could publicize Mr. Trump’s foreign policy views without officially speaking for the campaign. But Mr. Papadopoulos’s first public attempt to do so was a disaster.

That foreign policy speech was attended by the forgettable yet ever-present Sergei Kislyak. In it, Trump called for "an easing of tensions and improved relations".  It was quite the day.  Was it quite the day when the connection got real? I can't say--but the Russians sure were at it again when they contacted Trump, Jr. in June 2016. Because they had not been definitively told to fuck off. And I can't see where they ever were told to fuck off, because if they had been, the Trump folks could point to that "when".

And would have done ages ago. So I think they never told Russia to go away, and that's why they never did.

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