Thursday, February 22, 2018

It Ain't Over Until Fat Donald Cries "Uncle"

Donald Trump is so desperate to get free of his very own Russia scandal that he's reading things into documents that simply aren't there.

Ed Luce, writing in the Financial Times says that Trump will never escape Russia.

Donald Trump may no longer be interested in Russia, but Russia is interested in him. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has now indicted 19 people — including 13 Russians and five Americans who worked on Mr Trump’s campaign. That was just the start. When Mr Mueller gets round to Moscow’s election hacking, more Russians and Americans will surely be added. The Watergate investigation took two years to play out from burglary to presidential resignation. Nine months into the job, Mr Mueller looks to be on a similar timetable....

 [T]he biggest Russian shoe is yet to drop. Last week’s indictments focused on the St Petersburg-based internet troll farm. They said nothing about the email hacking of the Democratic party’s headquarters and senior members of Mrs Clinton’s campaign. Unlike the fake news operation, which was headed by a friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the hacking was almost certainly pulled off by the FSB and the GRU, Russia’s two main intelligence agencies. They funnelled their material through WikiLeaks, the site run by the fugitive Julian Assange. 

Roger Stone, Mr Trump’s first campaign manager, had a knack for guessing when WikiLeaks would dump its next cache. Mr Trump would then forecast it from the hustings. He cited WikiLeaks 164 times in the last four weeks of the general election. The timing of the leaks was always helpful. The largest dump took place 32 minutes after the release of the notorious Access Hollywood tapes. Who is to say that smoke bomb did not alter the US election? Nobody can prove Russia’s impact either way, of course. With each move by Mr Mueller, Mr Trump will only become more obsessed with disproving it. 

The stand-off between Mr Mueller and the US president is a geopolitical gift to Mr Putin. Mr Trump is unable to take the tough line on Moscow his advisers are urging. Six months after Congress passed new Russia sanctions, Mr Trump has yet to implement them. The gulf between Mr Trump’s instincts and the advice he receives is widening. His administration formally defines Russia as an adversary. That would have been Mrs Clinton’s stance were she in power. Mr Trump disagrees with it. America’s allies have no idea whom to believe — the president, or the people who work for him. They say different things.

Mr Putin is also reaping ideological dividends. Russia’s aim is to “sow discord” in US democracy, according to Mr Mueller. Mr Putin could open a new bank with the proceeds. Last week Dan Coats, Mr Trump’s director of national intelligence, told Congress he was sure Moscow would interfere in the upcoming US midterm elections. Yet Mr Trump will not even refer to the threat. His administration is doing very little to boost the resilience of America’s election process. We should put Mr Coats down as another dispensable pawn. 

But the largest breakdown is with America’s law enforcement agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says Russia tried to sabotage US democracy. Mr Trump insists that claim is a hoax. He even blamed last week’s Florida school massacre on the FBI probe. The agency had spent “too much time on Russia collusion” to act on tip offs about the school shooter, he said. That takes some mind-bending. Are they “laughing their asses off” in Moscow, as Mr Trump tweeted last weekend? They ought to be. America’s president is a gift that keeps on giving.

So just what is going on between the American president and Russia? Those who might know aren't talking, not yet. All most of us know is that something doesn't make sense. Refusing to implement Congressionally mandated sanctions makes no sense. Refusing to move to defend the United States against another hacked election, the 2018 mid-terms, doesn't make any sense. As the New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, recently wrote, Trump is hiding something.

No comments: