Who Are The WH Sources On Trump Campaign Collusion And Why Are They Talking
Isn’t it always the case — I go offline for one day and the biggest story of the year drops. Well, I don’t think anyone expected that the Trump team would be this stupid to leave such an easy and clear paper trail of their outright collusion with the Russians, including a definitive quid-pro-quo of help electing Trump in return for the lifting of sanctions, or that they wouldn’t have destroyed that evidence by now, knowing it existed. But then we are astounded on an almost daily basis by the stupidity and ignorance exhibited at all levels of this administration. (On the other hand, this may make some die-hard Republicans re-think their vote last fall. To their minds, Hillary Clinton, at least, was able to get rid of her emails so that they could not be traced, showing far more competence than Trump in that regard.)
Obviously, this creates big problems for the entire Trump team. Starting at the top, it hardly seems like a coincidence that now-President Trump promised a press conference with dirt on Clinton a mere 4 hours after the meeting that Don Jr., Kushner, and Manafort were going to have with the Russians was confirmed. This just adds to the mountain of real and circumstantial evidence that Trump was colluding with the Russians. It also puts to rest his continual lies that the Russian story is “fake news” and shows that Trump has been exposed to Russian blackmail since almost the moment he was nominated, even if he was similarly exposed due to his financial dealings before.
Don Jr. is clearly in violation of campaign finance and conspiracy laws and perhaps the Logan Act. Paul Manafort is facing similar problems in addition to his other financial issues. Of all them, though, Jared Kushner is the one most legally exposed by these emails, as it proves he was lying on his security clearance which is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail in addition to his other incidents of possible collusion with the Russians, both before and after the election.
Now, when I first heard the story before reading the details in the Times, my first thought was that this was possibly Putin really putting the heat on Trump, perhaps because he did not get what he wanted from Trump at the G20, which would be a lifting of the sanctions. The fact is that Putin went all in for Trump and, although he is happy with the chaos the Trump is causing in NATO and the Western Alliance, he dearly needs those sanctions lifted. Going after “Diaper” Don would clearly be a warning shot to Trump from Putin.
But the Times story references sources from within the White House itself. It is like that classic horror movie “When A Stranger Calls” — “the leaks are coming from inside the White House!!”. That kind of takes Putin off the hook, unless he has penetrated the White House so thoroughly we can’t imagine. In addition, it’s now clear that Manafort and Kushner are equally tarred by these emails, making it more than a shot at Don Jr. So the question then comes, what is the motivation of the leakers of this information.
After my first thought about Putin, my next worry was that this was a setup. Rachel Maddow has been warning about bogus documents about the Russian collusion being peddled to news organizations in order to then discredit them and the whole story. These emails sounded just like that, too good to be true. But the fact that the sources were within the White House, that Don Jr. had continually changed his story, the Russian lawyer admitted the meeting took place, and that Don, himself, released the emails pretty much destroyed that theory. Everyone loves to think the Trump team is playing seven-dimensional chess when they do something inexplicable. They never are — it is always exactly what it seems.
Others initially surmised that Corey Lewandowski was behind the leak as he and Don Jr. apparently did not get along well during the campaign. But Lewandowski isn’t in the White House and the subsequent reporting shows that Kushner and Manafort are equally involved and they each have bigger troubles than Don Jr. So Lewandowski does not seem like the likely candidate.
In a normal administration, this would probably be looked at as the administration finally caving in to reality and just putting out all the worst details of a scandal just to get it over with and try to move on. And perhaps that is the White House strategy. But this is not a normal administration. And the fact the Don Jr. continually lied about the story also conflicts with line of thinking. In addition, it is hard to see that Trump would countenance that tactic by throwing his son and son-in-law under the bus. But this is Donald Trump we are talking about, so anything is possible.
On the other hand, that strategy of disclosing the worst of the dirty linen might work for Jared Kushner, as he fights to stay out of jail for his previous lies on his security clearance and his own potential violations of the Logan Act. But these revelations simply add to the potential crimes that Kushner has committed. In addition, it would be hard to believe that Kushner would throw his wife’s own brother under the bus so he could stay out of jail, but not out of the realm of possibility based on what we know about Jared.
The details of this meeting could have come from Manafort, who is also clearly implicated, or possibly even Flynn, although that is less likely. Both of them are quite possibly cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. But that still wouldn’t explain the sources within the White House.
By process of elimination, that pretty much leaves us with “Napoleon” Bannon and his sidekick Miller. Their prints were all over Trump’s speech in Poland “ in defense of civilization itself”, indicating a resurgence of influence for the pair with the President. Bannon has made no secret that he wants to push both Kushner and Ivanka out of Trump’s sphere of influence, because, according to Bannon’s faction in the White House, he considers “Jared and Ivanka as anti-movement”. This email revelation pretty much derails Kushner and Don Jr. in one fell swoop and creates more problems for Ivanka, although I’m pretty sure Daddy won’t let his little girl go. Tonight the White House refused to confirm or deny whether Kushner’s security clearance has now been pulled. In any case, assuming Don Jr. and Kushner take their lawyers advice, which is not a given, we probably won’t be hearing too much more from these two in the near future.
Obviously, all of the above is a hopefully somewhat informed conjecture. Only the Times knows who their sources were. If it was Bannon, however, it is a pretty daring and reckless strategy. In fact it is a daring and reckless strategy from whomever the Times sources are. These emails strike directly at the heart of the Trump campaign and the Trump family and that will just enrage Trump even further.
Of course, the other obvious possibility is that these sources are just patriotic Americans doing what they think is right for the country, today’s version of Mark Felt. It’s just hard to think there are even a couple of people in the White House who have that courage and sensibility. There certainly aren’t that many Republicans in Congress with those qualities today. Let’s hope that this is the case. It just might restore our faith in people and our democracy.
And one last thought. I know that James Comey has now been martyred by Donald Trump but, in light of what he knew about the Russian hacking and possible collusion and the proof contained in these emails, what exactly was he thinking with the letter regarding the Abedin emails versus his silence regarding the Trump campaign conspiring with a foreign power. Yes, I know the answer is he expected Hillary to win. But she didn’t, simply because of James Comey.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on July 12, 2017.