Close, but still no cigar
While most liberals seem to believe that with respect to a connection between the Russians and the Trump administration, where there is smoke there is fire. I’m still skeptical. As I wrote before, so far there is no quid pro quo to be seen.
Yes, there are tons of documented contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but it all has a rather straightforward explanation. We know that the Russians didn’t want Hillary Clinton in the White House, not only for past dust-ups, but primarily because they’re trying to complete the Exxon/Rosneft deal which requires lifting of sanctions, and Clinton held a pretty hard line on the Russians.
Meanwhile, Team Trump is also interested. They’re tripping over themselves looking for a way to cash in like an aging basset catching a whiff of a bitch in heat. So the Russians show up and make discreet inquiries? “You guys don’t really give a shit about Ukraine, do you? Not when there’s money to be made.” And the Trumpsters, ever on the make, assure them that cash is what makes the world go round. So, the Russians drop their haul of DNC emails into Wikileaks, giving Julian Assange’s ego a few strokes and hoping it will be enough to tilt the US election. And, thanks in part to the US media’s love of anything hinting of scandal, it does.
The timeline on this has now been nicely chronicled by a professor who goes by the handle RVAWonk on Twitter.
7/22/2016 — First batch of DNC emails released by Wikileaks
9/5/2016 — Obama and Putin meet at G20, Obama holds firm on sanctions and the Kremlin issues a statement saying this is “not consistent” with future cooperation
9/7/2016 — DNI James Clapper suggests that the DNC hack was done by the Russians
9/8/2016 — Future AG Jeff Sessions meets with Russian ambassadors Kislyak
9/8/2016 — Trump appears on Russian TV saying he doubts Clapper’s intel
9/8/2016 — Trump, in a separate interview suggests the US improve relations with Russia
9/8/2016 — Pence and Trump both applaud Putin’s leadership style
9/8/2016 — A Kremlin spokesman expects “good relations” with the US after the elections
11/6/2016 — The second batch of DNC emails are released by Wikileaks
So, the Kremlin went from negative to positive in just a few days, and in between, there was contact between Sessions and Kislyak, contact that Sessions subsequently lied about under oath in his confirmation hearing. At the same time, Trump and Pence are fluffing Putin.
Given this is all so damning, why do I say there’s no quid pro quo? Technically, I’m not saying it. It is certainly possible that there was a deal made between the Trumpistas and Russia. My point is that it’s not necessary. All the Russians needed was to feel more comfortable that they could have their way with Trump after the election. If he appeared more malleable than Clinton, it’s was in their interest to try and swing things his way.
I’m not trying to excuse Trump. In fact, if there was evidence of collusion, I’d be thrilled to see him tossed in jail. I’m mostly concerned that chasing the Russian connection may never bear fruit in terms of a smoking gun. These guys could get enough of a feeling for one another just by sniffing each others butts; nothing further was necessary.
The danger is that by constantly harping on Russians with no supporting evidence, the Democrats will end up looking like they’re shouting about nothing, the way the Republicans did about Benghazi and the Clinton email server. I’m not suggesting the Russia investigation should be dropped, but people should understand it may not be fruitful, and not put all their eggs in that basket.
There are many reasons to investigate Trump’s dealings and show them as fraudulent as Trump University was. Get his tax returns, look at his offshore dealings, his handling of non-resident models, his conflicts of interest. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s been just as shady there. He has the soul of a used-car salesman; the fact that he operates in the realm of million-dollar properties rather than thousand-dollar automobiles makes no difference. A scam is still a scam.