Mueller Time

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Well, life has been busy. I wasn’t able to blog about yesterday’s big news: the indictments of Paul Manafort and his assistant Richard Gates — as well as the indictment and guilty plea of George Papadopolous.  The talking heads are correct — it is the Papadopolous news that should scare the White House since it goes to collusion. On the other hand, the Manafort indictment, which deals mostly with pre-campaign shenanigans, shows that Mueller is willing to look into financial dealings from a long time ago that have nothing to do with the 2016 election. That might worry Trump as well.

Anyway, the document dump —

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The biggest reveal from the PapaD business is this:

The guilty plea of a 30-year-old campaign aide — so green that he listed Model United Nations in his qualifications — shifted the narrative on Monday of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia: Court documents revealed that Russian officials alerted the campaign, through an intermediary in April 2016, that they possessed thousands of Democratic emails and other “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

That was two months before the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee was publicly revealed and the stolen emails began to appear online.

So did the Trump campaign team run to the FBI and say “we have knowledge of international hacking and espionage”?  Of course not!

In fact, at least five members of the Trump campaign thought that the Russian government was interfering in the 2016 election on the mogul’s behalf at some point last year. That’s not counting Michael Flynn, who is under investigation for allegedly participating in an effort to secure stolen Clinton emails from Russian hackers.

Are we supposed to believe that none of them ever mentioned any of this to Trump — that, when the president was castigating the CIA for the absurd suggestion that Russia wanted him to be elected, his son and son-in-law never raised a peep?

The only plausible, “innocent” explanation for Trump’s incessant denials is this: The idea of having his electoral triumph tarnished by Russian meddling was painful to his ego; so, even though he had independent verification of the CIA’s core claim, he chose to ridicule the agency to protect his public image and self-esteem.

Yesterday was Mueller’s opening salvo, and it was a doozy.  Better than I expected.