Friday, July 14, 2017

Trump's Big CON: BREAKING NEWS: The Donald Knew About His Son's Meeting With the Russian Agent, and It's Purpose

UPDATE V:  "When, over the past fortnight, President Trump’s ludicrous suggestion — since walked back — that the United States should form a cybersecurity operation with Russia is not the top story and the continued discombobulation of the GOP hardly makes the top five stories, one grasps the degree to which this presidency is crumbling before our eyes.

Forget achieving its pipe dream of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Never mind the silly insistence from Trump advisers Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster that the United States really isn’t suffering from the worst decline in international prestige and power since the end of the Vietnam War. The pressing issue is now under what circumstances the presidency will collapse and whether — in layman’s, if not legal, terms — his family and campaign behaved treacherously in seeking help from a hostile foreign power. . .

[We have an] unmistakable and irremovable scandal — a web of collusion, lies and coverup — that suggests there is no way to move beyond this, no remedy or resolution that provides the Trump White House with a clean bill of legal and political health.

Republicans’ willingness to accept even national betrayal — that’s what Trump Jr. was willing to undertake, after all — will disgrace the party and its leaders for years, if not permanently. It is a party no longer capable of defending our national interests and Constitution from foreign enemies.

As an aside, the view of America from across the Atlantic is a brew of dumbfoundedness and disgust, a creeping sense that the world’s greatest democracy is in a tailspin led by a malicious crackpot. At least Americans and our European friends can agree on that." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, Neither Trump nor the GOP will recover anytime soon.

UPDATE IV:  "The Russia scandal has entered a new phase, and there’s no going back.

For six months, the White House claimed that this scandal was nothing more than innuendo about Trump campaign collusion with Russia in meddling in the 2016 election. Innuendo for which no concrete evidence had been produced. . .

The evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. A British go-between writes that there’s a Russian government effort to help Trump Sr. win the election, and as part of that effort he proposes a meeting with a 'Russian government attorney' possessing damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Moreover, the Kremlin is willing to share troves of incriminating documents from the Crown Prosecutor. (Error: Britain has a Crown Prosecutor. Russia has a Prosecutor General.)

Donald Jr. emails back. 'I love it.' Fatal words.

Once you’ve said 'I’m in,' it makes no difference that the meeting was a bust, that the intermediary brought no such goods. What matters is what Donald Jr. thought going into the meeting, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who were forwarded the correspondence, invited to the meeting, and attended. . .

It’s rather pathetic to hear Trump apologists protesting that it’s no big deal . . .

This defense is pathetic for two reasons. First, have the Trumpites not been telling us for six months that no collusion ever happened? And now they say: Sure it happened. So what? Everyone does it.

What’s left of your credibility when you make such a casual about-face?

Second, no, not everyone does it. It’s one thing to be open to opposition research dug up in Indiana. But not dirt from Russia, a hostile foreign power that has repeatedly invaded its neighbors (Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine), that buzzes our planes and ships in international waters, that opposes our every move and objective around the globe. Just last week the Kremlin killed additional U.N. sanctions we were looking to impose on North Korea for its ICBM test.

[Y]ou don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead. "

Read the Washington Post, Bungled collusion is still collusion.

UPDATE III:  "Investigators believe that as Election Day approached, Russian trolls and 'bots' flooded the social media accounts of key voters in swing states with 'fake news' and disinformation about Clinton, according to a report Wednesday by McClatchy .

How would the Russians know which voters to target, down to the precinct level, in states such as Wisconsin and Michigan? This is a question that surely will be posed to Kushner, since at the time he happened to be overseeing a sophisticated digital campaign operation that tracked voters at a granular level."

Read the Washington Post, Ivanka and Jared begin the plunge from grace, which also noted that:

"Kushner was at the meeting [Trump Jr. arranged with Veselnitskaya ], too, however, and he had oversight of the campaign’s digital operations. That could be a problem, given the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered with the election and that the meddling took place largely in cyberspace.

And unlike the other participants, Kushner has an official position in the Trump administration. He serves in the White House as a senior adviser to the president with responsibility for numerous high-profile initiatives — and with a top-secret security clearance, which should be revoked immediately.

Trump Jr. says that Kushner didn’t stay long at the session with Veselnitskaya and that no damaging information about Clinton was imparted. But because he kept the meeting secret for more than a year, scoffing indignantly at the very notion of collusion with the Russians, and then twice lied about the nature of the meeting before finally coming clean, no one should believe another word that Trump Jr. says on the subject. At least, not until special counsel Robert S. Mueller III puts him under oath, which I believe is likely to happen.

At one point in his changing story, Trump Jr. said that Kushner and Manafort didn’t even know what the meeting was about. Yet he copied both of them on an email chain that begins with an intermediary’s offer of campaign help from the 'Russian government.' The proper thing to do would have been to call the FBI, but this crowd knows nothing of propriety.

The Veselnitskaya encounter was one of more than 100 meetings or phone calls with foreigners that somehow slipped Kushner’s mind when he applied for his security clearance. He revealed this one in one of his subsequent efforts to amend the form."
And there is more evidence that the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship between Trump and the Russian government, and everyone, including Trump, knew it.

Read the Washington Post, Sorry, Mr. President: By the time your son walked into that meeting, the damage was already done.

It's pretty clear now there was collusion and an attempted coverup.

UPDATE II: THIS IS INCREDIBLE,there may have been more than just that meeting.

"At McClatchy, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon report today that Congressional and Justice Department investigators are looking at whether the Trump campaign, and in particular its digital operation that compiled detailed data for targeting voters with campaign messaging, worked with Russian operatives to help them identify precincts where Hillary Clinton could be vulnerable.

Investigators are seeking to determine whether this coordination took place, and whether it was done with the goal of helping Russian trolls and bots target voters, via social media, with false and disparaging stories about Clinton.

To put this more simply, federal investigators are looking at whether the Trump campaign helped Russia disseminate 'fake news.'

This remarkable new revelation comes just as the Trump administration appears poised to ramp up its own campaign against the news media. Which means we are about to enter a new phase of escalation in Trump’s 'fake news' wars, in which he will counter reports about investigations into whether his campaign coordinated with Russia to spread actually fake news by calling those reports 'fake news.'  . .

The goal is obvious: To produce an army of viewers and readers who are essentially programmed to dismiss any coverage of the Russia investigation that does not immediately exonerate Trump and all members of his campaign team. In a sense, the Trump team is attempting to pull off something similar to what the Russians did during the campaign: Inundate receptive audiences with disinformation that simultaneously cements a pro-Trump narrative and wreaks havoc on the audience’s trust in real media sources.

That Russian effort — and its possible overlap with the Trump team’s strategy during the campaign — is now the target of congressional probes. As McClatchy notes, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently hinted that investigators are looking hard at the Russian effort to flood the zone with 'fake news.' Russians, he said, targeted women and African-Americans in Wisconsin and Michigan before the election, while 'the Democrats were too brain dead to realize those states were even in play.' Voters’ Facebook and Twitter feeds in these states were 'overwhelmed,' said Warner, with stories about Clinton being 'sick' or having stolen money from the State Department.

Did the Trump campaign help the Russians figure out who to target with these false and misleading stories? Investigators are hoping to find out. In the meantime, Trump and his allies seem ready to use the same sort of tactics — this time, spreading disparaging stories not about Clinton, but about reporters who cover the Russia investigation — and to use social media and friendly media outlets outlets to amplify them.

It’s hard to say where this will all end up. Perhaps Trump may end up sinking, and all the cries of 'fake news' in the world won’t help stop it. Or perhaps he will have some success in further damaging the image and credibility of the press in the minds of voters. Whatever happens, it’s going to get very, very ugly. Regardless of whether Trump succeeds in exonerating himself and his team, there’s little doubt that he will sow division and distrust in our institutions, in the process helping to accomplish something that was perhaps a larger goal of Russian interference than even getting Trump elected."

Read the Washington Post, We’re about to enter a whole new phase of ‘Fake News’ craziness

UPDATE: "But each time President Trump hits a new low — a racist outburst, a vulgar tweet, shabby treatment of women — commentators invariably state that this one will be the tipping point, the time when Republicans bail on the man who is undermining their party, and conservatism, and American values. Each time, such expectations meet the same fate: Wrong!

And this time, sure enough, the Silence of the Republicans has been profound. . .

Republicans abandoning Trump tend to be those who don’t answer to voters. Congressman-cum-MSNBC host Joe Scarborough told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday that he was quitting the GOP over officials’ refusal to disown Trump. 'What have you heard from Republican leaders today?' Scarborough asked. 'Nothing. There’s always silence.'

Alas, Scarborough didn’t object to Trump when it could have done the most good, in the early months of the campaign. His show, 'Morning Joe,' boosted Trump’s candidacy with chummy coverage and free airtime in the form of friendly call-in interviews. My colleague Erik Wemple wrote at the time that the show veered from 'journalism into the friendly confines of a morning social club.' After Trump won the New Hampshire primary, the candidate thanked Scarborough and his colleagues, calling them 'supporters,' then 'believers.'

Democratic leaders remarked Wednesday on the silent majority. If the situation were reversed, Rep. Linda T. S├ínchez (Calif.) said, 'they’d be screaming to the rafters about the need for prosecutions.'

'Firing squads,' added Rep. Joseph Crowley, the House Democratic Caucus chairman from New York. 'All we’re hearing right now is crickets.'

Crickets — and a centipede that keeps dropping shoes."

Read the Washington Post, The lights go out on the Republican Party

 "It was June 7, 2016, and Donald Trump stood on the stage at his Westchester County, N.Y., golf club to launch his general-election race against Hillary Clinton with a big promise.

'I am going to give a major speech,' Trump declared, before his gaze drifted away from the prepared remarks on the teleprompter at the close of an unusually subdued primary-night speech. 'Probably Monday of next week. And we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.

'I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting,' he added.

Hours earlier, his son Donald Jr. hit send on an email confirming a meeting with a lawyer with alleged ties to the Russian government with the promise of damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

The meeting occurred two days later on June 9 in Trump Tower, attended by Trump’s chief campaign strategist, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. But it was a disappointment, according to Trump Jr., who said this week that the Russians didn’t have what they promised.

And the major speech about the Clintons that Trump promised never materialized." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, ‘A million miles per hour’: Inside Trump’s campaign when Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyer.

Read also The New York Times, Conspiracy or Coincidence? A Timeline Open to Interpretation, which includes a chronology of Rusian related Trump campaign statements, actions, and events in June and July 2016, and notes:

"As a candidate, the elder Mr. Trump, who had expressed admiration of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, took positions that summer that caused head scratching. He expressed openness to lifting sanctions on Russia that were imposed after its annexation of Crimea, and suggested he might not defend NATO allies that did not spend enough money on their own security. The Republican platform at the party convention in July 2016 was crafted to keep out a call to provide arms to Ukraine to fight pro-Russian separatists."

Read also Trump's Big CON: BREAKING NEWS: The Donald is a Russian Agent.