It seems as though this Trump/Russia saga will never come to an end.
Evidence of collusion between President Trump and “Russia” during his successful 2016 presidential run has yet to surface, but that has not stopped the president’s detractors from continuing their witch hunt.
I explained why no evidence is needed to keep this story alive a few months ago.
Distrust of today’s mainstream media, the hysteria of social media, heavy partisanship on both sides of the aisle, the Trump administration’s intentionally confusing language and actions, and the dishonest nature of politics in general make assessing just about any current event extraordinary difficult. Because of this, no one, myself included, has the capacity to tell the whole story about what’s going on inside the Trump White House or what happened on the way in. Everything we read is a more or less accurate version of fan fiction. What you are reading now is too.
I’m going to explain what I believe is likely to be the truth about certain key aspects of the Trump/Russia hullaballoo.
Before I do that, I would like to tout my personal credibility by telling you that I, despite hating her guts, did not make a big deal of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail issues. I believe that she technically broke a law and lied under oath, but that her actions did not put US national security at risk. Hillary is a sneaky, slimy career politician. But so are nearly all of our lawmakers. I wish Trump would pardon Hillary to end that mess.
You can scroll through my blog posts around the time of the election to verify that it’s not something I paid much attention to. It was never the subject of my writing or thinking.
I tell you this because I believe the “connection” between Trump and Russia is, though even less nefarious, similar to Hillary’s e-mail kerfuffle in that laws may have been broken, but no serious harm was done.
The connection between Trump and Russia is General Michael Flynn. Michael Flynn, an early Trump backer, met with Russian officials before Trump’s inauguration and discussed sanctions that could potentially be lifted. This could technically be a violation of the Logan Act. The thing about the Logan Act is that it became law in 1799 and has never been used to prosecute anyone. Like jaywalking and bans on raw milk, it’s a stupid law that has likely been broken without recourse countless times.
The question as to whether Trump or anyone on his team bribed or otherwise convinced Russia to support the Trump campaign is ridiculous. As I explained in my post referenced earlier, the Russian government would have been insane not to favor Trump.
The question as to whether Russia is allowed to favor a candidate in a foreign election and release propaganda supporting that candidate is also ridiculous. Former President Barack Obama traveled to London before the Brexit vote to warn the British people that they could be at the back of the queue if they chose to leave the European Union. A warning or threat from a powerful foreign leader is just as disrespectful of the Democratic process as propaganda. Though Obama’s attempt backfired, and he had been bluffing, it shows the hypocrisy of lamenting foreign meddling in elections. The US has a long history of doing this, so we have no moral high ground.
The Russian minister who met with Michael Flynn was under surveillance by the US government when he spoke of sanctions. This resulted in indirect spying on Flynn, and gave US intelligence agencies proof of these discussions.
Sally Yates notified Trump of this communication in late January, and Trump forced Flynn to resign from his post as national security advisor a few weeks later. The amount of time between Trump finding out about Flynn’s talks and his firing has resulted in conspiracy theories of cover up.
What is being overlooked is the fact that Trump wanted Flynn on his team. Think about being a Patriots fan and finding out that Tom Brady did something stupid that technically violates some arcane law (one even less relevant than slightly deflating footballs) that could cause season-long headaches. Would you be excited to kick Tom Brady off the team? Or would you try to find a way to get around the situation, and reluctantly let him go when all your options were exhausted?
Trump had the same experience with Flynn. He trusted him and knew he was loyal. But, although there is ultimately no fire, Trump couldn’t stand the smoke. Flynn had to go.
The new event that has the media and Washington abuzz is Trump’s “abrupt” firing of FBI director James Comey. The conspiracy theory is that Trump wanted to get rid of Comey because he has intelligence regarding the Russian “connection” that would sink Trump for good. I don’t blame anyone for subscribing to that possibility. It certainly looks fishy on the surface.
What is forgotten is that Trump has never gotten along with Comey. Sure, he praised Comey generously for writing the infamous letter announcing Hillary Clinton was still under investigation not long before Election Day.
But Trump plays dirty. You understand this by now, right? Do you still take Trump at his literal word? Regardless of what you think of Trump overall, if you can’t figure out that he speaks for the sake of persuasion, not the sake of accuracy, it’s time to get with the picture!
Comey was arrogant and insubordinate. Comey disrespected Trump by refusing to brief him on what would be said during his senate testimony on May 3rd. Though the FBI must act independently, showing up the president is asking for it.
And when James Clapper (and Sally Yates?) confirmed under oath that there is still no evidence suggesting collusion between Trump and Russia, Comey’s time had come. Enough reliable sources had vindicated Trump that firing Comey could no longer be associated with a cover up (though that obviously won’t persuade his most determined opponents [whom Trump is not trying to win over]). Trump reminded Democrats and Republicans that both of them are wary about Comey, and laid his tumultuous tenure to waste.
In short, the Trump/Russia connection is weaker than weak, Trump had a hard time firing his pal Michael Flynn, and Comey had reached the end of his rope.
You find me evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians, and I’ll change my tune. But for now, this is the reality I’m calmly sticking with.
Bonus 4-D Chess Theory:
Since Trump didn’t collude with the Russians, and so many of his enemies are imperiling their credibility to prove that he did, the more attention he draws to the Russia narrative the better. When it’s finally proved that nothing happened, Trump’s enemies will have auto-drained every last ounce of integrity from their bodies. Trump comes out looking like the only honest man in the swamp.