There’s never going to be enough evidence for a lot of people when it comes to proving that the Trump campaign colluded with The Kremlin.
Polls have shown that at least half of Trump supporters would not abandon the President no matter what he does, a testament not only to how pitiably gullible uneducated Americans are, but also to Trump’s own assertion that he could “shoot someone” without losing voters.
And you know what? That’s fine, because fortunately, it’s not up to those voters to determine whether Trump colluded with Moscow, it’s now largely up to Robert Mueller and his team of veteran prosecutors who will get to the bottom of this and simply indict everyone once they have enough evidence to convict them.
That’s what was so highly amusing about the Manafort indictment and the revelations that Mueller likely has a cooperating witness in George Papadopoulos. There was no way to spin it and for Trump supporters who have chosen to persist in the fantasy that they were not duped into voting not only against their own interests but also against the interests of the country (a hilarious irony considering Trump’s campaign slogan), there was no way to suspend disbelief. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates surrendered to the FBI and Mueller indicted them for, among other things, “conspiracy against the United States.”
Since then, things have gotten materially worse for Trump and his associates almost by the day. It turns out that Papadopoulos was on e-mail chains with everyone from Carter Page to Sam Clovis and on Monday, BI’s Natasha Bertrand (who is becoming a real pain in the ass for everyone involved in this conspiracy) reported that last April, Papadopoulos sent an e-mail to Stephen Miller describing an “interesting message” from Russia just a day after finding out that Moscow had “dirt” on Clinton. Apparently, Papadopoulos told Miller on April 25, 2016 that on the basis of “multiple conversations” with a go-between for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was apparent that “the Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready.”
As Bertrand goes on to note, Miller “was in regular contact with Papadopoulos over several months last year” and has of course been interviewed by Mueller.
The Papadopoulos connection along with Carter Page’s decidedly ill-advised habit of talking to the press and Congressional investigators without a lawyer, has put Jeff Sessions back in the spotlight. We detailed Jeff’s new problems here. The Attorney General will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. The hearing is on oversight of the Justice Department, but he’ll face renewed questions aimed squarely at determining if (or maybe “how many times” is better) he perjured himself earlier this year. Here’s a clip fro that hearing – do note how Jeff’s memory has suddenly improved:
"I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that [George] Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting," AG Sessions says https://t.co/obU9oYboRn pic.twitter.com/Gy8y3Bj6QO
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 14, 2017
Meanwhile, the desperation from Sessions and Trump is palpable. On Monday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said the following in a letter to House members with regard to the Clinton-uranium story that Right-wing media outlets have been pushing for months:
The Attorney General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters. These senior prosecutors will report directly to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation, require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.
That, after weeks of Trump tweets lambasting the DoJ for not investigating Clinton, tweets which drew the ire of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle at least one of whom accused Trump of effectively running the nation’s law enforcement apparatus as though he were a Third World dictator.
And then there’s Michael Flynn, who reports indicate will likely be indicted soon along with his son on a variety of charges that may well include plotting to literally kidnap Fethullah Gulen at the behest of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in exchange for $15 million.
Let’s take a pause for a second. It should go without saying that there is absolutely no way all of this is one giant coincidence. This is so laughably nefarious that the sheer scope of it almost succeeded in blinding everyone with bullshit. Almost.
That is, right up until Robert Mueller was appointed, it was looking like the whole thing was so far-reaching, the conspiracy so vast, that getting to the bottom of it by the time Trump’s term ends would be well nigh impossible. And then along came Robert Mueller. This is precisely why Steve Bannon has long contended that firing Comey was “the worst mistake in modern political history.” Here’s what he said earlier this year in a red-eyed interview with 60 Minutes:
I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel. We would not have the Mueller investigation. We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for.
Right. But Trump is an imbecile, so not only did he fire Comey, he took pictures with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office the very next day, optics be damned.
Well as if this needed to get any worse (or more glaringly obvious), The Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe reported last night that Donald Trump Jr. had direct contact with WikiLeaks via Twitter direct messages in the lead up to the election. Hopefully you’ve already read the story, but in case you missed it, here are a couple of excerpts:
Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch,” WikiLeaks wrote. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” (The site, which has since become a joint project with Mother Jones, was founded by Rob Glaser, a tech entrepreneur, and was funded by Progress for USA Political Action Committee.)
The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”
The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.
Trump Jr. would go on to do the same thing he did when news of the June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya broke: he posted the exchanges to his Twitter account. Here they are:
Congress already has these and The Atlantic made them public, so I guess Jr.’s decision to publish them on Twitter could be seen as a move to appear transparent, but I’m still not sure that “strategy” is a good one. Because for every Trump supporter who sees that as an effort to be open and honest, there will be at least one person who reads those for exactly what they are: still more evidence that the Trump campaign knowingly colluded with the Russian government.
“According to a source familiar with the congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, on the same day that Trump Jr. received the first message from WikiLeaks, he emailed other senior officials with the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, telling them WikiLeaks had made contact,” Ioffe goes on to write, adding that “Kushner then forwarded the email to campaign communications staffer Hope Hicks [and] at no point during the 10-month correspondence does Trump Jr. rebuff WikiLeaks, which had published stolen documents and was already observed to be releasing information that benefited Russian interests.”
Again: this is so laughably obvious that it makes you question whether the Kremlin needs to try a little harder when it comes to ensuring their puppets don’t do things that are profoundly stupid, like saying incriminating (or at least highly suspicious) things on Twitter DMs.
And this is where we would once again ask readers to step back and look at this objectively where “objectively” doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning any deep-seated propensity to defend Trump, his family, and his associates. Rather, “objectively” simply means acknowledging (if only to yourself), that if all of this is public, it is certain that Robert Mueller has a veritable mountain of evidence – or at least what’s certainly going to count as evidence in court even if you don’t think it qualifies as proof of anything.
The bottom line: don’t kid yourself on this. A whole lot of these people are going to be indicted. You can of course believe what you want to believe, but you need to understand that what you believe isn’t ultimately going to matter. Because Mueller is going to try these people on a list of charges a mile long and it is highly likely that he is going to succeed in putting them in prison. That’s just the reality of this situation.