Let’s just be honest — this shit is crazy. If you think at this point that Trump and/or key campaign people didn’t collude to some degree or another with Russia to influence the “democratic” US election last year, you’ve either lost your mind, had a highly clouded one in the first place, or just haven’t been paying much attention. If it’s the latter (and just for my own personal fun), let me catch you up:
- Former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. recently said: “It’s very clear that the Russians interfered in the election, and it’s still puzzling as to why Mr. Trump does not acknowledge that and embrace it and also push hard against Mr. Putin.” Well, come on, if you had worked with Russia on the election and you knew Russia had evidence of that, would you get on Russia’s bad side? Meanwhile, former CIA director John Brennan said: “By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass.” A pass? Trump’s in Putin’s hands, and/or the hands of his oligarch buddies/minions.
- In December, Jared Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, head of a Kremlin-linked bank appointed by Putin himself. Kushner didn’t disclose the meeting initially, but then seemingly got caught not sharing the info and officially did so. Gorkov was a graduate of the academy of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the former Soviet KGB’s equivalent of the CIA. The bank, Vnesheconombank, has been hampered by crushing US sanctions since 2014. Russia’s top political priority with the US in recent years seems to be lifting such sanctions. Certainly, in the midst of a huge presidential transition, meeting with a Putin-appointed Russian oligarch like this, head of a sanctioned Russian bank, is super important, eh? Eh? …
- A Kremlin-linked lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, wanted to meet with the Trump campaign last year and offered a bunch of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump’s son (Donald Trump Jr.), son-in-law (Jared Kushner), and campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) took the meeting, which ended up involving talk of sanctions (something Trump Jr. and Kushner initially denied or didn’t acknowledge several times in public statements). Aside from the Kremlin-linked lawyer, the meeting included a “former” member of the KGB (initially just labelled a “translator” and not named by the Trump kin and cronies). Accepting an invitation to get dirt on your political opponent from Russia? Totally ethical. Totally legit. Not treasonous.
- After 4 bankruptcies and a horrible business reputation, Donald Trump had a very tough time getting loans in the US a couple of decades ago (until recently, presumably). He and his sons have since said on multiple occasions that much of their financial support in recent years has come from Russians.
- One European bank Trump could get loans from — reportedly the only US or European bank he could get them from — was Deutsche Bank, which later got busted for laundering Russian money through a bank in Cyprus. Among several KGB- and Putin-linked Russians in charge of that bank, there was also one American on the board — Wilbur Ross, now Secretary of Commerce in the Donald J. Trump administration. Hmm, something fishy there? Nah …
- Oh yeah, Wilbur Ross is a billionaire who divested from a ton of companies before becoming Secretary of Commerce … but he did keep a stake in a Russian shipping company, Navigator. Hmm, something fishy there? Nah …
- Jared Kushner and DOJ Secretary Jeff Sessions both met with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign season, and didn’t admit to that until it came to light via investigative journalism. Then they pretended they forgot about these meetings. Sergey Kislyak was long considered Russia’s top spy — its spymaster — in the United States.
- Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos — one of the first two foreign policy advisers Trump named (from a list of five he shared with the Washington Post after much pressure to name foreign policy advisers) — emailed to Russian agents that “my national chairman and maybe one other foreign policy adviser” could meet Russian officials in the UK in August or September. Huh? Why would they do that?
- Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — one of the first two foreign policy advisers Trump named (from a list of five he shared with the Washington Post after much pressure to name foreign policy advisers) — met with Russian officials in Russian during the campaign season. Higher campaign officials knew about the trip to Russia, generally at least.
- Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who along with longtime business partner Rick Gates was recently “charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges in connection with their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine,” was paid enormous sums of money by former Ukrainian prime minister and oligarch Viktor Yanukovych off the books. Due to a citizen uprising, Yanukovych fled to Russia a few years ago. Of course, Russia is the natural place to flee to when you have stolen millions or billions of dollars from your country. Because Russia is so great with democracy.
- Interestingly, of all the things Trump’s campaign team could have changed in the Republican platform just before winning the party’s presidential nomination, Manafort and team were reportedly set on making one change — watering down provisions to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia-friendly forces. From a report at that time: “Inside the meeting, Diana Denman, a platform committee member from Texas who was a Ted Cruz supporter, proposed a platform amendment that would call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia, increasing aid for Ukraine and “providing lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military. … Trump staffers in the room, who are not delegates but are there to oversee the process, intervened. By working with pro-Trump delegates, they were able to get the issue tabled while they devised a method to roll back the language. … On the sideline, Denman tried to persuade the Trump staffers not to change the language, but failed. ‘I was troubled when they put aside my amendment and then watered it down,’ Denman told me. ‘I said, “What is your problem with a country that wants to remain free?” It seems like a simple thing.’ … Finally, Trump staffers wrote an amendment to Denman’s amendment that stripped out the platform’s call for ‘providing lethal defensive weapons’ and replaced it with softer language calling for ‘appropriate assistance.’ … That amendment was voted on and passed. When the Republican Party releases its platform Monday, the official Republican party position on arms for Ukraine will be at odds with almost all the party’s national security leaders.” Nothing strange about that dramatic departure from the party norm!
- Donald Trump has been traveling to Russia since 1987 and has had various business ties there.
- Former US National Security Adviser and top Trump campaign team member Michael Flynn was paid to give a speech at a Russia Today conference in Moscow in 2015, and sat next to Putin at the table there. Yeah, what a lucky seat! That can only happen by accident. Oh yeah, Flynn neglected to announce this payment before taking the White House gig. Totally easy to forget being paid to give a speech at a Russian conference and sitting next to Vladimir Putin. And no reason to hide that anyway, right?
- DOJ Secretary Jeff Session, “head of everything and nothing” (it seems) Jared Kushner, and other Trump campaign leaders seemed to have met with Russians 107 times (maybe an exaggeration … or maybe not) and not initially disclosed the discussions to the US government (US public). Apparently, though, proof has a way of jogging the memory and they have revised their stories around 57 times. (Note: the numbers in this section are just illustrative — I don’t have time to perform a full count since it would probably take a couple of days.)
- Russia has long supported Trump, and we now know that it poured a ton of money into supporting him via ads and campaigns on Facebook, YouTube, & Twitter (and surely elsewhere on the web). But did anyone in the Trump orbit — among so many trips to Russia, meetings with Russians elsewhere in Europe, and meetings with Russians in the US — help Russia to more effectively target these anti-American and pro-Trump ads? Hmm…
- Timing regarding hacked emails of the DNC and Clinton, a Trump request (in public) that Russia release hacked emails, and apparent communication channels between the Trump campaign team and Russia-supported Wikileaks is super sketchy. Trump campaign members and supporters — like Roger Stone — hinted at coming hacks and leaks presciently on a few occasions. By the way, “Cambridge Analytica, a shady British data firm employed by the Trump campaign, [even] asked WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange for help in ‘finding’ Hillary Clinton’s missing emails” … which is just insane. If that’s not collusion, I’m a chihuahua.
- Trump never says a single negative thing about Putin, despite an obvious willingness to speak in dramatically harsh and negative terms about NFL football players, team managers/owners, highly regarded actors and actresses, the independent press in the US, leaders of his own political party, European political leaders, and many others. During a Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News (at that time), Trump wouldn’t even concede to O’Reilly that some of Putin’s horrifically cruel and anti-democratic actions were bad.
And, oh yeah, by the way, Trump has delayed implementing the Russian sanctions Congress demanded he implement. Congress basically tied Trump’s hand, making it impossible to say no to Russian sanctions. But Trump is essentially spitting in their faces (figuratively) and just slid right past the deadline to get sanctions rolling. What’s the one thing Russia wants from the US more than anything else? Sanctions cut, and new sanctions not implemented.
Ah, yeah, and I forgot about one of the best of all — Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in large part (entirely?) because of the Russia investigation, which was greatly irritating Trump … for some reason. And he even bragged about it to two top Russian officials (including that top Russian spy mentioned above) in a secretive meeting in the White House in which Trump locked out the US press but let the Russian press in (accidentally, apparently).