And Other Matters of National Importance

I spent Sunday afternoon watching the NASCAR race in Atlanta. It’s freezing outside here in Sag Harbor, but inside, the cars on the TV go round and round. They stop for gas and tires. Kevin Harvick has led most of the race. Everything has been normal. And then this report from Josh Marshall at Talkingpoints Memo pops up on my phone:

“ Last week I wrote about Michael Cohen and his extensive network of personal and business relationships in the Ukrainian-American emigre community. One of those was a man named Alex Oronov, who runs a major agribusiness concern in Ukraine. Oronov was a partner in the ethanol business Cohen and Cohen’s brother Bryan set up in Ukraine about a decade ago. Oronov is Bryan Cohen’s father-in-law. Today we learned that Oronov apparently organized that ‘peace plan’ meeting that brought together Ukrainian MP Artemenko, Cohen and Felix Sater. About four hours ago Andrii Artemenko, the Ukrainian parliamentarian who came to New York with that ‘peace plan’, went on Facebook to announce that Alex Oronov has died.”

You remember the “peace plan” story, don’t you? You don’t? Okay that was back in February, a week before General Michael Flynn resigned as Trump’s National Security Advisor, a trio of likely (or unlikely, take your pick) suspects waltzed into the White House and hand-delivered a “peace plan” outlining how Trump could remove the sanctions on Russia that have halted the big Exxon oil deal in the artic, and — oh, almost forgot — while they’re at it bring peace to Ukraine. Got it? That’s what Josh is talking about in the post above.
But wait a minute! Go back and have a look at what he wrote. The thing is dense with references to a Ukrainian ethanol business partially owned by Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and his brother Bryan, and “Ukranian MP Artemenko” the third guy who waltzed into the White House to see Flynn with the “peace plan,” and then all of a sudden this new guy, another Ukranian named Alex Oronov, who is connected to Trump lawyer Cohen through marriage — are you still with me? — and a Russian national by the name of Felix Sater, whose claim to fame up until he waltzed into the White House delivering peace in the Ukraine was that he had spent some portion of his life running a stock manipulation scheme with the Mafia in New York, before he became involved in Trump’s SoHo hotel project. And now, according to Josh, Mr. Oronov, the poor ethanol king of Ukraine, is dead. According to another website, he is the 8th Russian or Ukranian involved in some way with Trump to become dead in recent months.
I mean, just chew on that paragraph for a moment. I’ll stop and give you some time to digest it…
Okay, you still with me? Josh’s report, and my contextual summation of it, is on Talking Points Memo and on my facebook page, because IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE ASSOCIATED WITH TRUMP! It involves at least one meeting in the White House with General Flynn who is no longer with us, but who became famous because of his conversations with the Russian ambassador about…you guessed it!…lifting sanctions on Russia so the big $500 billion Exxon oil deal can go through and they can begin drilling in the deep woods of the Russian arctic and spreading the resulting money around.
As I watched my NASCAR race today, with its colorful race cars going round and round down in Atlanta, it occurred to me that we — all of us on this facebook page, and the mainstream media, and those precincts of the Congress that still contain a modicum of their marbles — all of us have been making a very basic mistake about Trump and his presidency. We’ve been pursuing these stories about the Michael Flynns and the Carter Pages and the Paul Manaforts and the Michael Cohens and the Roger Stones and these meetings in the damn White House with hand-delivered peace plans by Ukranian MP’s and Russian guys with New York mafia connections like these are regular stories we should be pursuing, jobs we should be doing.
And they’re not. There’s nothing…and I mean NOTHING…regular at all about writing about Trump and his White House and his administration when what you’re writing about is Ukranian ethanol guys who are dead suddenly and mysteriously and Ukranian MP’s who hand-carry peace plans into the office of the National Security Advisor, and Russian yahoos who manipulate stock with mafia guys in New York one day, invest in Trump’s SoHo hotel the next, and waltz into the White House the day after that.
The mistake we’re making is actually trying to follow all of this stuff. I mean, I’ve done as good a job as I can to sketch the outlines of all of those connections and events above, and I spent a good portion of my career as an investigative reporter, and I got pretty good at making complicated stories approachable and understandable, and I can’t wrap my aging head around this stuff to save myself. There’s too much of it. It’s too crazy. It involves too many characters insanely disconnected from any reality we’ve ever encountered before in connection with any President, or any White House in our entire history. It’s out of control. I despair that the few people left in Congress who still have their wits about them will ever be able to unravel all of these guys and all of their connections and potentially all of the crimes they have been involved in.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the MSM should continue to do its job and follow this story down every rabbit hole they step in, including Ukranian ethanol dead guy rabbit holes. And I do think that one or more of these rabbit holes is going to lead us to a Mar a Lago size rabbit hole ballroom filled to its gilded edges with cash and oligarchs and dead Ukranian ethanol guys and hackers and Trump lawyers and Trump sons and Trump campaign managers and Trump friends and Trump himself. But I pity the poor people who have to put on their knee pads and work gloves and grab their spades every morning and go rabbit hole digging. They missed a really good NASCAR race, for one thing. Come to think of it, now so have I.

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