Two stories out over the weekend have me wondering if their timing isn’t a little more than pure coincidence. The first is how President Trump went to “extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.” The second is that the FBI opened an investigation on “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.”
Following that were the offscourings detailing Trump’s tweets against the “Failing New York Times” and the “corrupt former leaders of the FBI.” The reported investigation happened in the days immediately following James Comey’s firing, but before Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the Russia portfolio.
Mr. Trump indicated on Saturday that he had not known of the existence of the counterintelligence investigation before the Times article, and he did not dispute the newspaper’s reporting.New York Times, Jan 12, 2019
Max Boot got out a fresh supply of pushpins, twine, and cork board, and laid out the conclusions for us. “Here are 18 reasons Trump could be a Russian asset” Come now, Max, only 18 reasons? I would have thought you’d come up with at least three times that many, even as many as 60 reasons. I won’t go too deep into a response to Boot, mainly because it would be tedious.
I will say this: much of what Boot wrote is a case of putting causation after correlation. In other words, it imputes a motive that Trump was a Russian asset to all the Russia connections instead of simply stating that Trump does a lot of business with Russia, admires Putin, and hired people with ties to Russia.
These things were all well-known in 2016. They were still well-known when Comey was fired. And they are well-known today. The fact that the FBI decided to play scenario games and ask the questions internally doesn’t make it true.
That is, it doesn’t make it true for you, unless you believed it was true in 2016 before the election, in 2017 after the inauguration, when Comey was fired, and every day since then.
I’ll also refute one item directly: “Trump has refused to consistently acknowledge that Russia interfered in the U.S. election or mobilize a government-wide effort to stop future interference.” It’s just not true. Trump acknowledged that Russia interfered in the election, and has done so consistently–except when he’s standing next to Vladimir Putin.
It’s classic Donald. The man is a troll at heart, which means he’ll troll from behind the relative protection of a tweet, or from the podium at one of his rallies, or at times from the front of the White House briefing room. But Trump will not stand face to face with another leader, or even on a telephone conversation, and tell them something confrontational.
Trump didn’t mention the millions of starving North Koreans, or the North’s concentration camps, to Kim Jong-un. He didn’t stand up for the Kurds to Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As a candidate, he didn’t tell then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that Mexico is going to pay for the wall (but he told everyone else they would).
Now Trump is asserting that he meant Mexico will pay for the wall in a better trade deal. Yeah, right. But is anyone claiming Trump is a Mexican stooge because Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador can claim he made a better deal with Trump?
There is not now any more public evidence that Trump is a Russian asset than there was on November 8, 2016. If there is non-public evidence, it’s a certainty that Robert Mueller’s investigators have it. If they have it, they are taking their sweet time with it, and withholding it from Congress.
Do you really think Democrats would spend three seconds arguing over whether to impeach Trump if there was real evidence he was acting against the interests of the United States, and in the influence of a hostile foreign power? Hell, Republicans would heave him out of office if this were true.
But the media is drawing these conclusions once again, for us. They’ve had the dots connected for two years. And they keep adding new pushpins, photos, press clippings, names, faces, and rolls and rolls of twine to their Comrade Trump Conspiracy Board.
The timing of the stories may be a coincidence. But the bandwagon of media talking heads, pundits, and MSNBC analysts all nodding their heads in unison isn’t persuading anyone who isn’t already persuaded.
I prefer to draw my own conclusions, and the matter of Comrade Trump is still nothing but a tin-foil-hat collection of assertions.
It’s troubling that Trump has made his conversations with Putin so super-secret, though he told Jeanine Pirro “I couldn’t care less” if the conversations are public. Like his tax returns, I doubt we’ll see them anytime soon. But that doesn’t make him a Russian asset.
I wish many in the media would stop pushing that angle so strongly. It works against their case, because we all know they already believe it.