Saturday, March 30, 2019

Collusion Delusion: Trump Lost The Special Olympics


Yesterday, Tim Malloy of the Quinnipiac poll wrote that hungry for a candidate to take on Trump, "Democrats and Democratic leaners put the three B's, Biden, Bernie and Beto, at the top in a race where age, race and gender take a back seat to electability and shared views... 53% of American voters say they definitely will not vote for Trump in the 2020 general election if he is the Republican candidate." Another 30% say they definitely will vote for Trump and 13% say they will consider voting for Trump. Only 21% of independent voters say they are definitely voting for Trump. If that doesn't change between now and November of 2020, not only will Trump lose in a landslide, he'll lose all the swing states, including Ohio, Iowa and Florida,-- as well as North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Arizona and possibly even Georgia. How sweet would that be!

And, of course, there's no reason to believe Trump's polling numbers will remain the same. It's far more likely, judging from his life-long patterns of behavior, that his numbers will continue to sink-- at least among independents and even the few Republican women who can still stomach him. A little more sinking and Texas is gone as well.

In yesterday's Washington Post, James Hohmann noted Trump's reversal on the Special Olympics. He made a mess and he wants credit for cleaning it up. It's a pattern that is distinctly Trumpian. The asshole "declared that he had decided to save the Special Olympics as he left the White House to fly to Michigan for a rally to support his reelection campaign. Then, in Grand Rapids last night, Trump announced that he’s going to make sure the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is fully funded. Trump’s budget earlier this month proposed slashing that program, which funds the cleanup of the Great Lakes, by 90 percent-- from $300 million to $30 million... During his first year in office, Trump called for eliminating the program entirely. Last year and this year, he asked Congress to cut it by 90 percent. But Republicans and Democrats on the Hill teamed up to fully fund it over White House objections... This is part of a pattern. Remember when Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and then attacked Democrats for not protecting the 'dreamers' from deportations that he put them at risk for?"

After the tremendous uproar Wednesday about his decision to reduce the federal contributions to the Special Olympics to ZERO, Trump sensed he was in trouble and as he was leaving for Michigan, he told reporters triumphantly, heroically that "The Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people, 'I want to fund the special Olympics'. I heard about it this morning [and] I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics." So there you go-- he kicked Betsy DeVos in the teeth. Not that it mattered; there's no way that little gem-- one among hundreds, would have ever gotten through Congress-- the same way the defunding of the Great Lakes clean up wouldn't have. But now he can-- and will-- claim to be the hero. About 30% of Americans are literally too stupid to comprehend the little Times Square trick he just pulled on them.

And if that 30% of 2-digit IQ Trump supporters can't understand that, how are they supposed to understand the p.r. stunt he pulled in regard to the still unreleased Mueller Report. Based on a press release from the fake president's fake attorney general, the New York Times and the Washington Post spread the bullshit about Trump been exonerated and how the Mueller Report discovered nothing. They should both be sitting in the corner with dunce caps.

No one pulled the wool over David Corn's eyes and his Mother Jones essay, Here’s the Real Trump-Russia Hoax begins the long arduous task of setting the record straight. Short version: "It’s Trump defenders and lefty Russiagate skeptics claiming there is no scandal." He wrote that "Two fundamental facts were established long before Mueller completed his investigation. First, the Russians attacked an American election in order to sow chaos, hurt Hillary Clinton, and help Donald Trump. Second, Trump and his top advisers during the campaign repeatedly denied this attack was underway, echoing and amplifying Moscow disinformation (the false claim that Russia was not attacking). Whether or not the Trumpers were directly in cahoots with the Russian government, they ran interference for Vladimir Putin’s assault on the United States, and they even did so after the intelligence community had briefed Trump on Russia’s culpability. So to determine if the Barr triumphalists are acting in good faith, you need only ask them a simple question: do you accept these basic facts and acknowledge the profound seriousness of each one?"
The Russian attack on the 2016 election was an attempt to subvert the foundation of American society: the democratic process. How can Americans have faith in their government, if elections are undermined by secret schemers, including a foreign government? It is certainly arguable that the Russian intervention-- particularly the stealing and drip-drip-drip dumping of the John Podesta emails across the final four weeks of the election-- was one of several decisive factors in a contest that had a narrow and tight finish. Consequently, there is a strong case that Moscow helped shift the course of US history by contributing to the election of Trump. (And recognizing this is not the same as defending Hillary Clinton or concocting an excuse for the Democrats’ embarrassing loss to Trump.)

During the campaign and afterward, some Trump backers and some critics on the left, including columnist and media scold Glenn Greenwald, questioned whether the Russians indeed engaged in such skulduggery. (The Nation, where I once worked, published an article promoting a report that claimed the Russians did not hack the Democratic National Committee-- and then had to backtrack when that report turned out to be bunk.)

...[A]nyone citing the Mueller report, as it is narrowly capsulized by Barr, must also accept his key finding: Russia attacked the United States and intervened in the election. (They must also accept that, as the Barr letter disclosed, Mueller found evidence suggesting Trump obstructed justice but did not reach a final judgment on this question.)

Moscow’s intervention was an outrageous action, and concern about this should unite right and left and anyone in between. There is nothing more important in this whole affair than the attack itself. Those who are not profoundly distressed about the consequences and implications of that assault-- including those who instead focus more on distractions, such as conspiracy theories about the Deep State or the role of the Steele dossier-- should answer this question: Is it because you don’t truly care this happened, or is it because acknowledging this reality interferes with your ideological or partisan loyalties? Or is it both? It is hard to see how a possible misuse of wiretapping authority by the Obama administration (an unproven assertion hurled by Republicans) or possible overstatements from Democrats or liberal pundits about Trump-Russia connections (which leftist skeptics have cited) could be more important than an attack on the US political system that was a factor in the outcome of the election.

Back to the second fundamental fact. On Tuesday, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, responding to the Barr letter, proclaimed, “The idea that any of us, and me as a campaign manager, would cheat, steal, lie, cut corners, talk to Russians, was an insult from the beginning.” Her statement was a lie about lying.

The public record is undeniable: Trump campaign people communicated with Russians during the campaign numerous times. Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with a Russian emissary who they were informed would slip them dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a secret Kremlin plot to help Trump’s campaign. Manafort, while serving as Trump’s campaign chairman, secretly met with a Ukrainian-Russian business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik who was a go-between with Oleg Deripaska, a Putin-friendly Russian oligarch. Manafort handed Kilimnik private campaign polling data and discussed a so-called peace-plan that presumably would involve lifting sanctions on Russia. (According to Mueller, the FBI has concluded that Kilimnik was associated with Russian intelligence.)

Not to mention that through much of the summer of 2016, Trump foreign policy aide George Papdopoulos, according to Mueller, was trying to set up an “off the record” meeting with Putin’s office. Carter Page, another foreign policy adviser, spoke with Russian officials in Moscow, where he made a speech assailing the West’s tough stance against Putin for his violent intervention in Ukraine.

All of this occurred while Russia was attacking the United States. (Manafort met with Kilimnik and Papadopoulos reached out to Putin’s office after it had been reported that Russia was the likely culprit in the hack-and-dump operation seeking to influence the US election.) And these contacts happened as Trump and his campaign-- most notably, Trump Jr. and Manafort-- were also publicly denying that any such attack was underway.

These denials had no basis in fact and ran counter to what cybersecurity experts were saying-- but they precisely echoed what the Russians were saying: It ain’t us! The combination of public denials and private contacts could only have been read as encouragement by Moscow. Trump at one point even called on Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, and, according to a Mueller indictment, Russian government hackers attempted to do so that very evening.

This is the original sin of the Trump presidency: he and his crew aided and abetted the Russian attack by lying about it and running interference for the Russians. And contrary to what Conway asserted, the Trump crowd, after the election, lied about most of these interactions. Trump and Trump Jr. lied about the Trump Tower meeting, claiming it had been merely a discussion of Russian adoption policy. Manafort lied to Mueller’s investigators about his meeting with Kilimnik. (By the way, Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, was indicted by Mueller for lying about his efforts during the campaign to contact WikiLeaks as it pumped out Democratic material swiped by the Russians.)

One of Trump’s biggest lies about Russia was exposed nearly a year after the election: While running for president, he had told voters that he had no business links with Russia, yet for much of the campaign his Trump Organization had been secretly negotiating a deal to develop a Trump tower in Moscow—which could have landed Trump hundreds of millions of dollars and which likely could not have proceeded if Trump had dared to speak negatively about Putin. Such a whopping conflict of interest is a huge scandal, with or without any direct coordination between Trump and Russia’s covert operators. And for that Moscow venture, Michael Cohen, Trump’s fixer, had communicated with Putin’s office and asked for assistance. Cohen later admitted to lying to Congress about this.

There were contacts with Russia and lies about those contacts-- and false denials that provided cover for the Russian attack. How can all this be regarded as not a scandal? Especially before the full contents of the Mueller report, which might contain new information about these parts of the story, is made public, if that ever happens.

And there’s another matter not covered by Barr’s skinny summary: the counterintelligence inquiry that was part of Mueller’s probe. This was the investigation of whether Russia had manipulated or influenced Trump or anyone within his campaign or circle. The FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation began under FBI chief James Comey in the summer of 2016 as a counterintelligence project, not a criminal investigation. But as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said this week, “It is not clear whether, or to what extent, the Mueller report, which is focused on prosecutorial decisions, will even discuss counterintelligence findings.” (Counterintelligence investigations are super-secret, often relying on classified intelligence gathering, and usually do not end with prosecutions or public pronouncements.)

It always seemed quite possible-- probable-- that the Russians did not need to conspire directly with Trump or his campaign to go after Democratic targets or to mount a disinformation campaign boosting Trump and discrediting Clinton. Yet Trump, by claiming this foreign adversary was not attacking the United States, made it easier for Putin to pull this off. Whether the Trump gang helped the Russian operation deliberately or inadvertently, it committed a foul act that undermined national security and a national election. Anyone who doesn’t accept this-- Trump and his lieutenants assisting the attack, whether or not a crime was committed-- as significant wrongdoing deserving investigation and opprobrium ought not to be considered a serious voice in any discussion of the Trump-Russia scandal.

Yet now there are many rushing to the their keyboards and strutting before television cameras to declare the scandal was nothing more than trickery concocted by sore-loser Democrats and unscrupulous journalists. Far from cooking up anything, many reporters worked hard to slice through the lies knitted by Trump and his allies and revealed many of the essential facts noted above. The Russiagate detractors and the Trump champions are deliberately and deceptively narrowing the question to focus only on direct conspiracy between the Trump camp and the Kremlin, pertaining specifically to the attack. They are embracing Trump’s own self-serving standard. They are studiously ignoring what has already been established: Moscow waged information warfare against the United States, Trump’s campaign enthusiastically engaged with Russians while the attack was transpiring (conveying to Moscow that it did not mind the Kremlin’s intervention), and Trumpists lied about these interactions and misled the public about the Russian operation. All these gleeful Russiagate deniers now exploiting the minimalist Barr letter to diminish or suppress the Trump-Russia scandal are conducting an exercise of diversion that is of tremendous benefit to two men-- Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin-- and a disservice to the American public.

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At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And while Russia was actively doing what it does to affect the election, and the trumps were doing what they do to try to get in on that action from Russia... obamanation was aware of at least the former and chose to say and do ... nothing at all.

Another case where Nazis acted with pure gall and the democraps refused to act at all.

yet we must hold our noses and just eat shit every election?

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous! Have you lost yer god damn mind? What a tool like Trump & the Rethugs & Democraps. All of it is hot garbage. All needs to go!

At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

agreed. the Nazis need to go. the democraps need to go. we need a fully fresh start.


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