Saturday, July 15, 2017

What's Up With the Russian Thing? Part 2



Yes, today is Saturday which should be Doctor Who day here on the blog thing. Well, it should be. But I've been busy. Sorry.

Really, I don't get paid for this. Which should be obvious.

Anyway, the write up on the look back at Doctor Who Serries 10 will appear here tomorrow along with some comments about Sunday's upcoming announcement about who will be... the next Doctor.

Oooooooh. 

So instead...  

(Sorry.)  

...Trump stuff!

(Really sorry.)  


"I believe in coincidences. Coincidences happen everyday; but I don't trust Coincidences."
Garak, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine




On Tuesday, I posted about how the revelation of Donald Trump Jr’s “collusion” with the Russians may be the proverbial tempest in a teapot. I would love nothing more than to see Trump and his ilk go face down in the pile of shit of their own making. But we’ve seen these moments come and go in the past and nothing ever seems to happen to bring Li’l Donnie and his scions down.





But are we dealing with something different this time? Let’s take a look at this. 





Andrew Prokop of Vox.com describes the Donald Trump Jr. email chain as “utterly damning”. Well, it is if you see what you’re looking for.





For example, publicist Rob Goldstone writes clear as day that a prosecutor in Russia met a client of his and offered to give the Trump campaign incriminating information on Hillary Clinton “as part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”





So we have it in writing that the Russian government was supporting Trump.




Except…





Goldstone is not a member of the Russian government. He has no authority to speak for them. And what exactly does “support” mean? Yes, Putin hated Hillary Clinton and probably thought Li’f Donnie would be far easier to manipulate. Yes, to that end, one could make the case there was support for Trump. But was there any money involved? Any sharing of secret intelligence to solely benefit the Trump campaign? Any efforts by the Russians to specifically undermine Hillary Clinton?





I’m not saying that none of that happened. I’m sure as hell not here to defend Trump or Putin. But Goldstone’s comments are not quite as “damning” as Prokop may think it is. 





Prokop describes the email as being “indisputably clear that Trump Jr. was trying to collude with the Russian government”.





Except…





Junior is “colluding” with a publicist, not the Russian government.  No, I'm not naïve to think that Putin's regime wouldn't have their hooks in Goldstone or in Aras and Emin Agalarov. But all we're seeing here is a basic "one guy knows a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy who might know something about another guy" type of deal. Yeah, it’s fishy stuff but in and of itself, I don't think it’s as “damning” as Andrew Prokop says it is. 

All of that is just layers of deniability that any disreputable person employs to separate their self from something else. Again, not to say that Trump Jr wasn’t colluding with the Russian government but this email does not necessarily prove that. 

Andrew Prokop also observes that Trump Jr. forwards the email thread to Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, confirming the time of the meeting. Prokop says, "to be blunt: This changes everything." 


How? It suggests that Kushner and Manafort were in the loop, knowing that there was a Russian initiative to provide incriminating intel on Hillary Clinton to benefit the Trump campaign.  Trump Jr has made statements that Kushner & Manafort, while included in the meeting, were not aware of the substance of the meeting, a claim that lacks believability given that the subject of the meeting was discussed in the email thread that Kushner & Manafort were copied on.


 Here, Prokop's on steadier ground as the incriminating info as to the alleged purpose of the meeting Goldstone was facilitating is right there in the email for Kushner & Manafort to see. 

What remains unclear is what actually happened when Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort met Russian government attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower. Trump Jr. says he was not given any useful information at the meeting and that the matter went no further.

Trump surrogates have defended Trump Jr for the reason that he did not get any dirt on Clinton from this meeting. Trump Jr reports that Veselnitskaya used the pretext of providing negative info on Clinton to lure Trump Jr to a meeting to discuss policy about western adoptions of Russian babies. 

So if a guy breaks into your house to steal stuff only to find there's nothing worth stealing, he's innocent. 

Again, will this finally bring down the criminally inept Presidency Of Donald J Trump? Well, we can but hope. But I'm a bit too cynical after two years of watching the antics of Trump and his gang as they close to the edge of political ruin but never actually falling over.  


Andrew Prokop of Vox.com is not the only one looking at Donald Trump Jr's emails with breathless astonishment at the levels of brazen, criminal stupidity.



Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, a conservative pundit for Fox News, has been critical of Donald Trump Jr.. He noted that the emails Trump Jr. released earlier this week “totally undermine a six-month story from the White House ... that there wasn’t any collusion. This was a bungled collusion. This was amateurish collusion. This was Keystone Kops collusion. But it doesn’t change the fact that it was attempted collusion and it undoes the White House story completely.”


So when a conservative pundit goes on Fox News and makes the case that this is exactly the collusion with Russia everybody's been looking for, well, it makes one think maybe this time, someone associated with Trump has finally gone too far. 

But for all this wide spread analysis that this email is "damning evidence", I cant believe yet that anything will come of it.  

I may be wrong. I hope I am.


But I doubt it.   
___________________________

OK, enough with the politics. Tomorrow, really important stuff. Doctor Who stuff.

Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

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