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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trump's Web of Lies

It's the smoking gun. A trusted British intermediary with Russian connections (Rob Goldstone helped arrange Donald Trump's Moscow Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013) contacted Donald Trump, Jr. during the 2016 campaign race. He offered to set up a meeting "with a Russian government attorney" who would provide material that would "incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father." He was explicit that this offer was part of a Russian government effort to swing the election in Trump's favor. The candidate's son, son-in-law Jared Kushner, who happens to be the President's most trusted confidante, and campaign manager Paul Manafort were also invited to the meeting, which took place in June of 2016. It's collusion with an adversarial foreign power to further its ends against the United States. To me it fits the textbook definition of treason as spelled out in Article III Section 3 of the Constitution. In addition, American campaign law makes it illegal for a campaign to "accept anything of value from a foreign government." And Trump himself is defending it. As was asked about Richard Nixon, what did the president know and when did he know it? I believe this is impeachable.

The progression of the web of lies is most instructive. Trump and his spokespeople denied any association with Russians beginning in September during the campaign, when Democratic emails began appearing and suspicion was first thrown on Russia as the originator. After the election, so did Trump's staff and nominees, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was later found to have met privately with the Russian ambassador at least twice. Gen. Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor, was found to have lied about his contacts with and promises to Russia in conversations he held between the election and Trump's inauguration. As more information began to come out, Trump took to calling each latest revelation "fake news" and whining that he was the subject of "the greatest witch hunt in political history." President Trump then had his Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General come up with derogatory performance evaluations of FBI Director James Comey to provide cover for his firing of the Director, to let him maintain the firing was not about Comey's investigation into Russian meddling in the election. Trump's public relations corps, including Press Secretary Sean Spicer, spread this story to every media outlet. In a subsequent interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump then stunningly exposed his own lie by asserting that he didn't need the evaluations, that he had already made up his mind and that the real reason for the dismissal was Comey's pursuit of the truth in the Russia investigation.

For his part, Trump Jr. knew about his meeting with the Russian agent lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya and let his father speak in error for 13 months without saying a word. That is lying by omission. Beyond that, it stretches credibility to think that a meeting including Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort would not have been known to candidate Trump, particularly since on the campaign trail he publicly called for Russia to hack Clinton's emails and release them. One can easily imagine Trump Junior eagerly telling his father about the oppo-research coup he was about to engineer thanks to the intelligence services of Mother Russia. We do not know yet for certain whether Trump Sr. knew, though between the press's continued digging and the investigation currently underway by former FBI Director Robert Mueller the truth seems to keep finding its way out. In fact, it was the New York Times's call to Trump Jr. that it had the incriminating emails and asking if he wanted to make a public statement they could include in the article they were working on that prompted him to pre-empt the Times by releasing the emails first himself. The President of course released statements praising his son for transparency, ignoring the fact he had lied about the events in question and come clean only after confronted by the Times

Even then the lies continued. The action was held to be "OK because everybody did it." Republican Senator Lindsay Graham was one of the first to fight back against that, pointing to the law and the adversarial nature of the Russian regime and saying, "When a foreign government wants to help your campaign the answer is always 'no.'" Trump Jr.'s "transparency" was quickly discredited when, after alleging that Veselnitskaya was the only Russian in the meeting, it has now come out that a Russian lobbyist and former Russian military man was also there, but ostensibly only to serve as interpreter, if that is to be believed. Trump Jr. also states that nothing of importance was discussed at the meeting, that Veselnitskaya made little sense and wanted only to discuss American adoption of Russian orphans. Anyone who believes that would probably be interested in some Florida swampland Mr. Trump might want to sell them. Having been caught in all the lies described above in today's blog, I leave it to the reader to evaluate to what extent the Messers Trump can be trusted on this contention. At any rate, as one after another of their lies are exposed, all trends point to the conclusion that the Trump campaign colluded with an authoritarian pariah regime currently under NATO sanction for aggression and human rights violations and working against American interests at every opportunity (witness their recent U.N. veto against increased sanctions on North Korea for its latest illegal missile tests). And what is especially remarkable is that for all their vast experience with lying, the Trumps don't seem to be very good at it. The truth is either dug out by the press, ratted out by people within the administration, or blurted out by the astonishingly undisciplined president himself. One thing that becomes increasingly difficult to believe is that this dumpster fire of a presidency will survive to complete its first term in office.

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