July 13th, 2017

Politics and morality

Every now and then someone in the real (not cyber) world asks me what I do, and I tell them I write. A smaller number of people will then ask me what I write about.

Because I don’t like to talk about politics very often, I will sometimes answer “Oh, it’s eclectic. Lots of things—the arts, science, nature, world events…” and I trail off, hoping they’ll stop there. But sometimes it goes further. Or sometimes I’m in a more revelatory mood, and I answer “Well, I write about politics mostly.”

A discussion sometimes ensues in which I’m careful to point out that I hate politics and don’t like to discuss it a lot. So, why do I write about it? That’s a hard one to answer, but the best I’ve been able to do is that it’s fascinating (as are the arts, science, nature, world events…).

Which brings us to today’s topic, as revealed by the Donald Trump Jr. episode. But this post isn’t really about Donald Trump Jr. and his emails at all (you’re welcome!); I have bigger fish to fry. It’s about how we judge politics and politicians.

My train of thought was engendered once again by something commenter “Big Maq” wrote:

It is NOT that we have to come up with proof of something illegal, nor do we have to have a perfectly fitting analogy to get to the same point.

It is that what has transpired is something we’d, rightly, very much see as completely wrong if it were a dem who did it.

No, I would not see the same actions as particularly wrong no matter who did it, as I wrote in my post yesterday. But in the larger sense, I don’t think it’s clear why I should see it as particularly wrong, much less completely wrong—except in the sense that politics in general is “wrong,”* [see below] because politics commonly has many distasteful components to it. I have never had a particle of interest in engaging in politics myself, and most people share that feeling. But opposition research is part of the business of politics, and people connected with a campaign are allowed to talk with nearly anyone as long as they don’t do something illegal like bribe them or meddle with voting machines or the like.

We can imagine bad motives on the part of a political player. And we can imagine that, had that person the opportunity, he or she would even be doing something illegal. But unless such illegal actions occur, a meeting like that is not “wrong,” (maybe stupid, given the circumstances? But “stupid” is not “wrong”), nor did the emails suggest anything like bribery was being contemplated.

Now, I’m certainly not against the investigation continuing. Perhaps this activity by Trump Jr. is just the tip of a large iceberg, with the really bad stuff remaining to be discovered. But other than that possibility, I do not find it “wrong,” much less “completely wrong”—except, as I already said, in the same sense that politics is “wrong” (i.e. distasteful, like sausage being made).

As Jerry Pournelle has written:

When I was a campaign manager for Mayer Yorty in the Yorty campaign, I received countless offers of information for sale about the Mayor’s opponent, former LAPD Lieutenant Bradley. I ignored most of them. One or two were intriguing enough that I accepted meetings with the offerer; on at least one occasion, the offer was through a third party, just as in this situation. In that particular instance, I was offered a number of unsubstantiated rumors which I could have someone run down, mostly of crime victims unhappy with Bradley’s police performance; worth nothing, as it happened, but I think I paid $20 for copies of the documents, none of which proved useful. Another time, the information might have been true, but the compiler made it clear it was dirt on Bradley’s daughter who had famously once been arrested for shop lifting in a department store for attempting to leave wearing a dozen or so pairs of new underwear. I quickly stopped that conversation: the Mayor had directed that we would never use anything related to Bradley’s family in the campaign, a policy I fully agreed with.

Another time, I did pay about $50 to a private investigator for documents relating to some investments Bradley had made, but after inspecting them I could not see any use for them.

Although no criminal acts were involved in any of this, I never informed the Mayor or Campaign Director Salvatore about any of these meetings; why would I? It was just another part of the campaign.

(By the way—Yorty was a Democrat, but if Pournelle was a Democrat back then, he doesn’t seem to have been one for a long time.)

This question of politics and morality is one that has dogged the Republican Party in particular for as far back as I’ve been blogging, and probably further. There are two wings on the subject, and they don’t get along very well. Let’s call them the Don Quixote and the Sancho Panza wings. The Don Quixote wing is commonly found in what the Sancho Panza wing calls the GOPe. The Don Q’s tend to be loudly critical whenever a member of the GOP (particularly one more conservative than they) fails to be squeaky clean. The Sancho P’s consider the Don Q’s insufferable, self-righteous, preening, egotistical RINOs who’d rather show us all how moral they are than actually try to win against opponents who are far more immoral than they.

There, did I get the picture right?

The Trump candidacy—and now the Trump presidency—has generated a perfect storm of discord between these two wings. There has been internal discord, too, within the Don Q wing, with some managing to hold their noses and support Trump for the duration of the election in order to beat their archenemy Hillary Clinton. Others couldn’t even do that. And the current Donald Trump Jr. controversy has exposed the same divide.

As for my own point of view—as you might imagine, it’s somewhere in-between. But it’s probably a bit closer to the Panza wing than the Don Q’s, because I think I see politics realistically as a business in which the aim is to win and a lot of unpleasant and not-so-laudable actions are going to be taken along the way. All else being equal, I’d prefer a candidate so wonderful and so charismatic that he or she can be both noble and a winner at the same time. But I don’t demand it, and I don’t get my tonsils in an uproar if it doesn’t happen. In fact, I realize that such creatures are very very rare in the world of politics, and always will be.

Illegality is a different thing, and I don’t defend it. And I try my best to use the same standards for both sides. That said, I prefer conservatives to liberals, and less state control over more, and so in recent years when I vote it tends to be for the more conservative of the options.

[* This discussion of politics being “wrong” in general reminded me of something John Updike once wrote regarding his attitude towards the war in Vietnam. In this post I offered this Updike quote from his essay:

The Vietnam war—or any war—is “wrong,” but in the sense that existence itself is wrong. To be alive is to be a killer; and though the Jains try to hide this by wearing gauze masks to avoid inhaling insects, and the antiabortionists by picketing hospitals, and peace activists by lying down in front of ammunition trains, there is really no hiding what every meal we eat juicily demonstrates. Peace is not something we are entitled to but an illusory respite we earn. On both the personal and national level, islands of truce created by balances of terror and potential violence are the best we can hope for.

Updike said that in an essay he wrote in 1989. You can find the entire text of his essay here. I strongly urge you to read it if you haven’t already.]

113 Responses to “Politics and morality”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Alas, I grow more Stalinesque in my views of my political opponents.

  2. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Will be a long time before people get to Ymar esque views of the factions in existence.

  3. n.n Says:

    The Democrats colluded with the post-coup d’etat Ukranian regime, and other foreign assets, which the NYT et al characterize as a democratic government, and the refugees as “separatists”, in order to fabricate information that would be used to disenfranchise Americans.

    On the other hand, receiving information about your competitors is not, in itself, a criminal or immoral activity.

    Another baby hunt ends with no viable baby.

  4. arfldgrs Says:

    an example of politics and morality

    The pro-Russian hacker site “Cyber Berkut” published links between the Ukrainian government and the Hillary Clinton Campaign today.

  5. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    All else being equal, I’d prefer a candidate so wonderful and so charismatic that he or she can be both noble and a winner at the same time. But I don’t demand it, and I don’t get my tonsils in an uproar if it doesn’t happen.

    Well put, Neo. (Frankly, I’m at a loss to think of when, in recent years, such a candidate has happened.)

    “tonsils in an uproar” — I like it! I won’t be using it, though… I don’t have tonsils.

  6. Dave Says:

    Don’t be surprised if there are new stories coming out that the democrats colluded with this spy russian lawyer woman to try to frame the Trump Campaign.

  7. Roy Lofquist Says:

    Jerry Pournelle was a student of Russell Kirk, the intellectual godfather of mid 20th century conservatism. A literal student, as in having attended classes. Kirk was the quintessential Panza of the movement and was, unfortunately, subsumed by the Quixotes in the persons of William F. Buckley et. al.

    This from Kirk:

    “Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.”

    Read the whole thing:

    http://www.kirkcenter.org/detail/ten-conservative-principles/

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Dave:

    I have certainly read theories to that effect.

    I do wonder what prompted Goldstone to dangle the bait in front of Trump Jr..

  9. John Guilfoyle Says:

    But unless such illegal actions occur, a meeting like that is not “wrong,” — Neo

    I heard an interview with John Sununu not long ago re all this…and his point was much like yours Neo. In a political campaign, the various campaign emanations are approached by all and sundry offering all manner of back scratching opportunities.

    Sometimes what emerges is something as profoundly horrendous as contributions to the Clinton Foundation or CGI…Sometimes what emerges is a brief meeting that produces nothing but news headlines & indigestion…& more sausage.

    One of those is not like the other…and to pretend an equivalence is ridiculous. And that alleged conservatives take their turn beating that ridiculous drum tells me more about them than their histrionics tell me about President Trump or the emanations of his campaign and administration.

  10. Lizzy Says:

    Have any of the Republicans or conservatives horrified by what Don Jr. did been asked to comment on what John McCain did in January to obtain the infamous Russian Dossier on Trump?

    It was nice of Drudge to post a reminder of what apparently is not scandalous when done by a DC insider who has the right opinions on Trump (i.e. wants to oust him as badly as the Dems do).

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/ho9uc83

  11. Ann Says:

    I do wonder what prompted Goldstone to dangle the bait in front of Trump Jr.

    Goldstone works for the Agalarovs and set up the meeting with the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya on their suggestion. What I’d like to know is what the Agalarovs’ connection is with Veselnitskaya. But neither of those parties will comment on how they know each other.

    Paul Mirengoff has a post up today focusing on Veselnitskaya and the Magnitsky Act and draws some cautionary lessons — here are the last two:

    Third, President Trump will be hard-pressed now to support the repeal or alteration of the Magnitsky Act. I have no reason to believe he would have been inclined to support this absent his son’s encounter with Veselnitskya. Now, he has an additional reason not to do so. The optics would be terrible.

    Finally, I hope Trump is drawing the right conclusions from this affair. The right conclusion isn’t that the Russians are to be admired for the clever ways in which they advance their interests. The right conclusion is that these guys are sharks who think they can play Trump and his team, as they played President Obama. Indeed, Putin tried to play Trump after their meeting when his team claimed that the president accepted as true Putin’s denial of election interference.

    Trump’s working assumption should be that Putin is almost always up to no good and that he cannot be trusted.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann:

    To tell you the truth (and I mean this sincerely), I think that Trump’s working assumption for most people is that they at least might very well be “up to no good and…cannot be trusted.”

    I think he operates as hale fellow well met friendly guy but ultimately trusts only those he has dealt with for many years and have proven trustworthy (and maybe not even them—not entirely, anyway). I have always felt his praise of Putin is strategic—although I do think in general he admires his ability to act in his own best interests.

  13. Bill Says:

    Perhaps I’m closer to Don Q. I’m OK with that – maybe I approach these things from a slightly different perspective.

    But I do wonder at the dichotomy set up between “noble” and “winner”.

    For those with amnesia who can’t remember ever having a noble politician in the white house, I think Reagan and Bush I were pretty noble (I think Bush I is a great example of someone to emulate, personally). I was a big fan of GWB and thought that he did well and meant well.

    I have two problems with the dichotomy: Agreed, very, very few people would describe Trump as “noble”. But a lot of people, for reasons I can’t fathom, still think of him as “winning”.

    Winning what? The Supreme Court appointment is nice, but any Republican would have done that. What else is he winning? What evidence is there that he is particularly competent at being President?

    Secondly, we can strain gnats but if the Republican party has jettisoned the idea that something can be “wrong” without being, technically, “illegal” then the Clintons actually have won.

    I understand the desire to circle the wagons. I know that each piece of evidence of shenanigans with Russia, as each shoe drops, can be disregarded, especially since one thing Trump is good at, propaganda, has worked very well and a troublingly large # of Trump supporters won’t even think to believe a story if it is critical of him. Jared Kushner failed to disclose meetings with Foreign representatives. Trump can say all day long he doesn’t have any dealings with Russia, but that might not be precisely true.

    Having dealings with people in Russia isn’t “illegal”. Going to a meeting to get oppo research (at least that was the expectation) with a Russian lawyer isn’t “illegal”. It’s also not illegal to openly admire a dictator who kills journalists.

    But you begin adding all that up and you start wondering what that smell is.

    Well, you do if you’re me, I guess. I don’t know if there’s a bottom here. This could end up being another Benghazi – I think there was a “there” there, but evidently no one could make anything stick. Because, if you’re secretary of state, guess what, it’s not “illegal” to let Americans die if you decide it’s too risky to send in help.

    Maybe everyone’s OK with disengaging morals from politics. I think we’re better than that. But I was stupid enough to believe GOP propaganda back in the late 90s when we/they screamed that “Character Matters!” and published books like “The Book of Virtues”, “The Death of Outrage”, and – my personal favorite – Gov. Mike Huckabee’s “Character Makes a Difference” (published in 1997).

    Turns out it never really mattered that much. It was just a power-play. I’m out.

  14. Bill Says:

    Also turns out I suck at closing out my html tags. 1,000 apologies.

  15. Brian E Says:

    “I have always felt his praise of Putin is strategic” – Neo

    Much like when Bush said “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy,. . . I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

    Either Bush was incredibly, stupidly naive or he was trying to nudge him into being a nice guy. Kind of giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.

  16. Bill Says:

    Also, I misrepresented Huckabee’s book. “Character Makes a Difference” was actually published in 2007. The book published in 1997 was “Character IS the Issue: How People with Integrity Can Revolutionize America”.

    Why he’s become head cheerleader for a guy like Trump is beyond me.

  17. chuck Says:

    Give Big Maq his(?) due, he’s a liberal trying to argue with a bunch of folks who think liberals are nuts. So he has to pretend to see things sorta from our side to help us generalize our hostility to include Trump. It’s not a bad stategy in theory, but too obvious in practice to succeed..

  18. Bill Says:

    “Give Big Maq his(?) due, he’s a liberal trying to argue with a bunch of folks who think liberals are nuts.”

    Big Maq is not a liberal.

  19. Bill Says:

    Brian E – I think it’s only with hindsight we can say Bush was “incredibly, stupidly naive”. I think he was just normally naive. Those were different times and Putin’s true character wasn’t as well known as it is now.

    Bush wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot. And he failed to renovate Putin, as did Obama in his “reset”, and as thus far Trump also has not been able to move the needle on Putin.

  20. Ymar Sakar Says:

    That is exactly Putin’s character. It shows up in his interviews just as it does with Snowden’s interview.

    Putin can be trusted to look out for Russia, himself, his god and his family.

    Even Alt Right and Ctrl Left can agree on that for the most part.

  21. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Taking shots at both/all sides is my default engagement portfolio, hasn’t changed on Junior there.

  22. Ann Says:

    Krauthammer nails it:

    It’s one thing to be open to opposition research dug up in Indiana. But not dirt from Russia, a hostile foreign power that has repeatedly invaded its neighbors (Georgia, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine), that buzzes our planes and ships in international waters, that opposes our every move and objective around the globe. Just last week the Kremlin killed additional U.N. sanctions we were looking to impose on North Korea for its ICBM test.

    There is no statute against helping a foreign hostile power meddle in an American election. What Donald Jr. — and Kushner and Manafort — did may not be criminal. But it is not merely stupid. It is also deeply wrong, a fundamental violation of any code of civic honor. I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.

  23. chuck Says:

    Big Maq is not a liberal.

    He isn’t? Always sounded that way to me. Maybe on account of assumptions like “very much see as completely wrong if it were a dem who did it”, which sounds very much like a liberal imagining a conservative.

  24. Sean Says:

    It’s simple. Big Maq’s wrong because for every Republican scandal that hits, he says, “Would we be angry about this if the Dems did it?” But the Dems never ask themselves that about Republicans. It’s irrelevant to them.

    Big Maq’s just hopelessly naive, i.e. on the Don Quixote side of the GOP.

  25. Frog Says:

    Big Maq is a foolish goad, a goad nevertheless, and I will not be goaded.

    I do not suffer fools and their distractions and distractedness gladly, never have, and am not about to start now.

  26. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I suppose that what was done was dirty and underhanded, but the point is opp research is common and the question is whether any source is off limits.
    There are rules, to use a sports analogy, in the rule books and there are rules as enforced by the officials, and there are rules more or less agreed to between the teams and they are not identical.
    Normal people wouldn’t think opp research is fair, but they’d lose the elections.
    So it’s “fair” in the second sense.
    The next question is whether some sources are off limits and, apparently, the source of the “golden shower” accusations is just gold, according to the dems and MSM.
    So why is Putin supposed to be off limits?
    Turns out she had nothing. She had to know she had nothing. So why the meeting? IMO, she expected Jr. to be alone and that would allow for some accusations of nefariouisness. I expect she was disappointed.

  27. Dave Says:

    If she was an agent sent by putin why did Obama let her in? The whole fresco sounds like an entrapment directed by the the democrats to me. Who would have thought the party that was colluding with Russians to do damage to an American was the DNC. Charge traitor Obama with treason.

  28. Dave Says:

    For those who were saying don jr was colluding with Russia, I missed the part in his emails that he said “please Thank mr putin for me for supporting my father and the unconditional he provided to our family in defeating Hillary Clinton, we would try our best to accommodate his every need when my father has been elected the president”

  29. parker Says:

    Every commenter may be sincere, but when you doubt the sincerity of commenters who do not support your opinion, it is time to take a step or two back. I think Bill and Big mac are not seeing the big picture. That does not mean they are my enemy. It just means we have different opinions.

    Obviously, I think they are mistaken. That does make them my enemy. “Ease off Ripley, you’re just grinding metal.”

  30. huxley Says:

    Bill and Big Maq have my full support to be who they are and express that sincerely.

    FWIW I trust them both.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with them or they with me.

  31. huxley Says:

    Perhaps my main attraction to neo’s blog is her overarching interest in the dynamism of political positions.

    If you had dealt with me thirty years ago I was a hard-core Chomskyite. I had six feet of Chomsky on my bookshelves and another six feet of liberal-to-marxist books as well. I was one of those guys or gals on the streetcorner with a clipboard flogging signatures for one leftist cause or another.

    I’ve been all over the map politically and in other areas as well.

    In my youth I had read Aldous Huxley or Bertrand Russell to the effect that if you aren’t reading multiple sides of an issue with an open mind, you really aren’t informed.

    Somehow I took that heart, even though I stayed hard left until 9-11. But after 9-11 the contradictions on the left overwhelmed me and now here I am.

    That could change and probably will.

    My best way of making sense of things is to accept that people are ultimately doing their best and in the long run it works out. Even when people make mistakes, they are on their way to learning better.

    Which isn’t to say much horror may ensue. It just seems the way humans progress.

  32. huxley Says:

    The Don Q vs Sancho P thing is tricky.

    It’s not a binary proposition. In the real world there are always degrees of differences to attend to.

    I think it was slimy and stupid for Don Jr. to respond enthusiastically to an overture from a Russian national for oppo research on Hillary.

    It turned out the Russian had no dirt but wanted to press Putin’s agenda on the Magnitsky Act. Then nothing happened.

    I return to Ted Kennedy’s overt backchannel communication to Andropov in 1984 to make a quid-pro-quo deal to sabotage President Reagan.

    To me that’s an order or two of magnitude worse than hapless Don Jr.’s faux pas. Yet the Democrats paid no price for that or for Obama’s “I need more flexiblity” to Putin’s mouthpiece or Hillary’s pay-to-play deal for 20% of US uranium reserves.

    I want my side to play fair but after the above abuses along with the Fast and Furious scandals, the IRS targeting of the Tea Party and Benghazi, the notion that Trump (remember I was NeverTrump) should be forced to resign because of some minor Don Jr. thing makes no sense to me unless we also go back and convict Obama, Hillary, Susan Rice, John Koskinen et al. of felonies.

  33. Sean Says:

    I think it was slimy and stupid for Don Jr. to respond enthusiastically to an overture from a Russian national for oppo research on Hillary.

    Basically this.

    But then, what was the nature of the help the Ukrainians gave Hillary?

  34. huxley Says:

    Sean: Say more. You lost me.

  35. Bill Says:

    “I think Bill and Big mac are not seeing the big picture. That does not mean they are my enemy. It just means we have different opinions.”

    Thanks Parker. Agreed!

    Regarding other traitorous or near traitorous acts perpetrated by the Democrats: yes, it’s frustrating. And Don Jr meeting w a Russian lawyer is not anywhere near the same level, if his story is accurate. But let’s take a step back. Many seem to be arguing that because one side got away with a crime, our side should also not be held accountable.

    Does that seem like a good idea going forward? Do we believe in the rule of law or not? Are we a nation of laws, not men, or do we really want to jettison that concept?

    I’ve always thought there was more to the Russian collusion thing than has come out so far. Probably because I have never trusted Trump and occam’s razor would suggest that his strange behavior regarding Russia needs an explanation. Shoes are now starting to drop, and – most telling of all – the Trump defense has gone from, basically, “no contact with Russians ever!” to “OK, there was contact but it meant nothing!” to the current wind up of “OK, we colluded but collusion is not a crime! It was just oppo research! Everyone does it!”

    Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right but, like Benghazi, the truth will never come out. Chances are Trump survives just fine. If I were a Trump supporter right now, though, I think I would be uneasy.

  36. Ymar Sakar Says:

    But the Dems never ask themselves that about Republicans. It’s irrelevant to them.

    Big Maq’s just hopelessly naive, i.e. on the Don Quixote side of the GOP.

    But BM’s not a Demoncrat, so it is irrelevant.

    BM being hopelessly naive or not, has nothing to do with him being a Demoncrat.

    People like Chuck and Sean might as well try to dismiss Ymar as being a Democrat liberal zombie. In fact, they would get better mileage out of that one.

    Sean can dismiss those here against Trum as being cucks and Republican E, but I’d like to see them try that on me.

  37. Bill Says:

    I’d be in favor of all of us just trying to understand the other’s argument and giving grace to each other rather than trying to discern hidden motives and allegiances of people we disagree with.

    I’ve been guilty of doing the opposite myself, but trying harder.

  38. Sean Says:

    huxley,

    The Ukrainian gov tried to hack the RNC’s server in order to give Hillary a leg up on Trump. They failed.

    Hence the story in the news a few days ago about Kiev trying to smooth things over with Trump now that he’s president.

  39. Sean Says:

    But details are sketchy about what all services Ukraine provided her with.

  40. Bill Says:

    I’m in favor of prosecuting both HRC and DJT. Working with foreign governments to try to sway an election your way is (to reference this post) immoral.

    I know a bit about Ukraine versus Russia. If Ukraine was wanting HRC to win to help them against Russia why is it so hard for people to believe that Russia wanted Trump to win?

    If HRC was going to be a the best candidate for Russia, Ukraine would have been working hard for Trump.

  41. Dave Says:

    Why is it so hard for someone like Bill to understand that you are not responsible for who supports you.

    If China has decided that Rand Paul becoming the president would be most beneficial to them for whatever reasons perhaps his free trade beliefs and decided to secretly assist his campaign is Rand Paul guilty of colluding with China? You can’t fault someone for having foreign assistance bc you can’t control who assist you in secret, come on, its not like Trump can reject Putin’s helps by giving him a call to politely ask Putin to stop helping him. If a candidate can get disqualified just bc some adversities were secretly helping him, you know what is going to happen? Democrats will just fabricated a fake collusion by asking their friends in adversary countries to blatantly assist the other side. Every country has their favor candidates, you don’t think Castro favors democrats for lifting the sanctions? Even Kim Jong Un probably was rooting for a certain candidate probably Obama or Hillary given how Obama allowed Kim to continue his nuclear projects, North Korea certainly has the ability to hack our elections as demonstrated in the sony hacking. why no one has ever cared which foreign power assisted in secret which presidential candidate in the past but this time?

  42. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    On the subject of commenters.
    I read this blog, and more importantly (sorry Neo) the commenters, regularly.
    I don’t often comment as I’m often too busy to or have nothing to add.
    I depend on the RSS feed on my blog that shows me the latest posts from blogs I follow.
    Imagine my surprise to find that I missed several posts from Neo yesterday.
    Overwhelming.
    But I’ve come to recognize some commenters from their verbiage like morse operators could detect a key hand.
    It can be difficult trying to figure out where a commenter is coming from.
    Some right of left commenters try to be so fair that they come off as supporters of the left. Particularly without a history (or memory) of commentary.
    I think this plays into the Don/Sancho analogy.

  43. Dave Says:

    you know why you can’t just go prosecute everyone just to be safe, you know how expensive court proceedings are? you know how long it takes to get any sort of resolution? Hey, we don’t have any evidence to prove that you have done anything wrong, but we are just going to prosecute you anyway just to be safe ( and conveniently tie you up for next 10 years so you can’t run against us)

  44. Brian E Says:

    Bill,

    Bush explained why he said what he did about Putin.

    “The reason why I said that is because I remembered him talking movingly about his mother and the cross that she gave him that she had blessed in Jerusalem,” Bush told Hewitt. “Nobody knows that, and I never tried to make an explanation of why I said what I said until the book.”

    In the book, Bush writes that he interrupted Putin as the then-Russian President spoke from note cards and “seemed a little tense.” Bush asked whether the story of his mother giving him a cross was true, and writes that “a look of shock washed over Putin’s face.”

    Putin then told the story of recovering the cross from a house fire and said that when a worker found the piece of jewelry it was as if it was meant to be. Bush writes that he remarked, “Vladimir, that is the story of the cross. Things are meant to be.”

    Bush later said that Putin changed. Now, in it seems rather naive that a leader of the free world could mistake a personal story that seemed real and emotional and governing as a strong man seeking the best outcome for his country. As Christians, he do believe that people can change through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    That’s why I’m willing to accept that Trump today isn’t the same man he was 10 or 20 years ago. It doesn’t make him perfect and his crudeness today can be understood through the lens of Paul’s “the things I want to do I don’t and the things I don’t want to do, I do”, which we understand as the old nature still warring in us. It’s up to us to put to death the old nature.

  45. Brian E Says:

    The story surrounding the Russian lawyer, Ms. V, gets curiouser and curiouser.

    Ms. V was given a special visa by the Obama administration, had overstayed her visa. Of course, all that is to be expected by them.

    Her meeting appears to be a bait and switch, where she promised dirt on HRC, but really wanted to talk about the Magnitsky Act, which she was working to see repealed.

    Now, totally separate from presidential politics, isn’t a Russian lawyer, probably working at the behest of, at the least, Russian oligarchs and possibly the Russian government lobbying congressmen to repeal a law detrimental to Russian interests, meddling in American politics? Shouldn’t we be outraged over that?

    From the Times:

    Natalia Veselnitskaya, Lawyer Who Met Trump Jr., Seen as Fearsome Moscow Insider

    In recent years, she [Ms. V] had become the public face of Moscow’s efforts to reverse international travel and financial sanctions on key Russian figures linked to an alleged $230 million tax fraud.

    Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who exposed the fraud, was arrested by the same prosecutors who he suggested had organized it. He died in jail in 2009 amid accusations of beatings and medical malpractice.

    In 2012 Mr. Browder, who had been Mr. Magnitsky’s boss, successfully campaigned for the United States Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, a collection of sanctions naming Russian officials linked to Mr. Magnitsky’s death. An outraged Mr. Putin responded by banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

    Ms. Veselnitskaya has also met with members of Congress and helped to establish a Delaware nonprofit group that lobbied against the sanctions. She submitted lengthy testimony and organized a screening of an anti-Magnitsky film at Newseum in Washington in June 2016, just days after she met with Donald Trump Jr.

    She also attended a congressional committee hearing on American policy toward Russia a day after the screening, taking a front-row seat.

    This and more at Just One Minute blog.

    http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2017/07/trump-resurrection.html

  46. Bill Says:

    Dave

    The issue isn’t that a foreign country tried to help Trump. The issue/question/investigation is did he collaborate with them to try to damage his opponent. I know it happens, but we shouldn’t put up with a foreign government trying to sway our election. A number of people have made the point that if that is discovered we should be calling the FBI rather than having friendly meetings.

    If Trump was aided by Putin, that’s a big deal but not something to reflect badly on Trump, unless he a) knew about it and c) cooperated with them OR WORSE offered a quid quo pro to them.

    Time will tell if any of that happened. That’s what Mueller is looking into.

  47. Sean Says:

    Bill,

    Working with foreign governments to try to sway an election your way is (to reference this post) immoral.

    I have bad news for you. Foreign governments trying to sway elections has been one of the biggest weaknesses of the democratic system from its earliest days, cf. the Persians trying to sway Athenian elections in Thucydides. Iow it’s par for the course.

    We do it to everybody else and the truth is that Ukraine and Russia are very likely not the only countries doing it to us.

  48. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Excuse me, but wasn’t the Fusion/GPS Trump dossier from foreign sources? Russia? MI6 agent?
    Where the hell is the media outrage over that if the issue is that a foreign government was supplying the dirt?
    Where are the months long investigations?

  49. Sean Says:

    Excuse me, but wasn’t the Fusion/GPS Trump dossier from foreign sources? Russia? MI6 agent?

    That’s what I was wondering. The guy was ex-MI6, right? Or wasn’t he? Was that just the British government’s way of giving itself plausible deniability over their attempt to meddle in our election?

  50. Big Maq Says:

    “I would not see the same actions as particularly wrong no matter who did it… because politics commonly has many distasteful components to it

    opposition research is part of the business of politics, and people connected with a campaign are allowed to talk with nearly anyone as long as they don’t do something illegal like bribe them or meddle with voting machines or the like.

    I do not find it “wrong,” … except … in the same sense that politics is “wrong” (i.e. distasteful, like sausage being made)”
    – Neo

    Would agree with this if that was all there was to it.

    If trump jr was aware that this even might be from the russian government itself (and he was clearly told so, and was very receptive to it), then it seems an ethical line has been crossed.

    Beyond the moral, and into the practical: Has anyone stopped to think that maybe this meeting under this pretext having been the case (and other similar things we may not know about) opens the door to the russians to play further havoc in our politics? Even with “fake” new revelations?
    .

    There are two parts to “distasteful”.

    One is really an expressed desire not to do the job for non-moral characteristics. In politics, there is plenty of public speaking, being nice to many people for building support, and compromising on ideal policy required (just to name a few). Not all of it in front of friendly audiences.

    Whether it is being a roofer on a hot summer day in Georgia, a septic tank cleaner, a sausage making factory worker, all these are “distasteful” to someone for for a variety of their non-moral traits.

    No problem here, as this all is how we are able to have a fluid labor marketplace, any marketplace at all, really.

    The other part of “distasteful” is where the opportunity for influence leads to compromising not on policy alone, but on principle and integrity. Or, where the desire for a win means that they go beyond just over-selling and actively lie or otherwise deceive to con the electorate.

    Our low opinion of politicians is very much because of our perception that plenty of them are guilty of this.

    In other words, in this second part, we are expressing our moral judgement, in a way that says by implication that we think they ought to behave better.

    Merely claiming it is just ugly sausage making doesn’t capture the whole essence of what is “distasteful” of politics.
    .

    Like I said before, there is a whole line of ethical questions when it comes to engaging with representatives of foreign powers (knowingly or with reasonable suspicion of such), particularly when they have been hostile in varying degress to US interests.

    What is the limiting principle if this episode is all okay?

    It cannot just be that there has to be an exchange of money (bribe) to exhibit influence.

    To say that there is no obvious “wrong” here, one has to wonder what it takes … putin at trump tower with a suitcase full of files on clinton all for the purposes of “oppo research”?
    .

    Incidentally, the framing of Don Q and Sancho P is rather off (or a bit of a strawman), at least in its application here (as there may well be folks as described), as it makes it seem that a criticism of this episode is about demanding a “squeaky clean” president. Hardly so.

    Nor is it a demand for perfection, or any other such concept.

    Try as we might to separate the moral from the politics, it just won’t happen.

    If that were true, then there wouldn’t need to be any credibility and trust.

    Does action like this help build trust in trump and his organization?

    Does any of the lying and changing stories afterward, before the email release, build any credibility?

    Add the context, beyond this trump jr episode, of the frequent dissembling, changing story lines, and bunglings on this issue, are we still to completely believe the latest explanation from the WH?

    And if we cannot, what does that inform us for other things from this admin?

  51. Dave Says:

    Hacker Hacks, hate to break the news for you. Of course the government needs to take cyber security security to protect our country from attack attempts by foreign adversaries but it is not the government’s responsibility when the democrats refused to toughen up their cyber security after don’t know how many time had the republicans warned them to. the democrats did that to themselves when they allowed Hillary to have a defenseless server in a bathroom or using password as his password like podesta did. Yes, we should take hacking seriously, so Democrats please install a firewall on your computers and don’t open fishing emails.

  52. Dave Says:

    There are tons of amateur hackers out there targeting important politicians’ emails to seek out their dirt to either blackmail them for money or to sell the intel to the highest bidders. It is not a national security issues, national security issues involve protecting the power grid or bank accounts or what not, but not to help dirty politicians to safeguard their dirty secrets. It is up to the politicians to do that. In fact, for the benefits of the citizens isn’t having these wrongdoings of politicians exposed a good thing?

  53. Dave Says:

    It’s not the government’s duty to protect Democrats’ dirty secrets, and having democrats’ wrongdoings exposed was not a national security issue. If Democrats are so worry about letting the public know about their under table dealings, don’t use a unsecured server in a bathroom.

  54. Richard Saunders Says:

    I love how people are conflating what the publicist of an Azerbajani pop star said with truth! Obviously, none of those commenters have ever met a publicist.

    You, everything a publicist says is absolute truth, justlike Barak Obama’s publicis,t who said the One was born in Kenya?

  55. Richard Saunders Says:

    My fingers are really getting away from me! That should read, “Yes, everything a publicist says is absolute truth, just like Barak Obama’s publicist who said the One was born in Kenya?”

  56. Dave Says:

    Democrats having their emails hacked is only a national security issue when Democrats broke the laws by transmitting classiflied intel using their own private emails.

  57. Dave Says:

    allegedly Obama himself was the original brither for telling Harvard and its student publications that he was born in Kenya. Why did Obama do that? I can make the assumption that probably because it was because being born in Kenya was a cool thing among liberals, and Obama wanted to be perceived as cool among liberals on campus. Besides, there were all kinds of affirmative action benefits a person can claim by lying about being born in a foreign oppressed country. Obama had never lived in America in an extensive span of time before he moved back to America in his adulthood. He never understood America, he never appreciate America, and he never loved America, do you expect an adult child loving the father he has never lived with?

  58. Richard Saunders Says:

    Putin is completely trustworthy, in the sense that you can always trust him to act in what Russians have understood their best interests to be since Peter the Great — create buffer states to protect against invasion from the west, exploit the resources of the east, secure a warm water port. And the one added by the Soviets — poke the West, especially the biggest power in the West, whenever you can.

  59. neo-neocon Says:

    Big Maq:

    Much of the business of politics is distasteful, on all sides.

    Almost any politician who wants to win will do opposition research with anyone, including someone who has worked for a foreign government with which we are not at war. The politician who isn’t willing to do that sort of thing is usually called a losing politician.

    Listening to someone and hearing them out is neither “colluding” with them nor even necessarily using or crediting what they say. Trump Jr. expressed skepticism even in his email to Goldstone that indicated interest in meeting the Russian who supposedly had information. After a meeting in which information was imparted (which didn’t happen at this meeting, as it turned out) then the recipient of the information evaluates whether it holds water, whether to follow it up with further investigation, etc. In the case of the Trump Jr. meeting with the Russian lawyer, there was no follow up of any sort.

    I just don’t find this behavior anything other than mildly distasteful in the way 90% of politics is mildly distasteful.

  60. Bill Says:

    Sean: “I have bad news for you. Foreign governments trying to sway elections has been one of the biggest weaknesses of the democratic system from its earliest days, cf. the Persians trying to sway Athenian elections in Thucydides. Iow it’s par for the course.

    We do it to everybody else and the truth is that Ukraine and Russia are very likely not the only countries doing it to us.”

    I realize that it’s not a shocker. We’ve known Russia was trying to influence our election for a long time. And I’ve been against us messing with other countries (the way Obama did w Israel).

    That doesn’t mean we have to be OK with it. And the stakes are way higher now because of the digital aspect – up to and including the nightmare scenario of a group of hackers, foreign or domestic, literally disenfranchising Americans by literally hacking election tallies (NOTE: I’M NOT SAYING RUSSIA DID THAT just in case anyone wants to jump all over me).

    So, you may be OK with standard operating procedure/everyone does it. I’m not.

    And the Trump defense is morphing at the speed of light these days – going from “No contact with Russians ever” to the current “Yeah, we did it but everyone does it and it’s not a crime and Loretta Lynch and Obama and Uranium”

  61. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    What’s “immoral” about “working” with a foreign government (i.e. talking with someone affiliated with that government) to sway an election your way (i.e. to help yourself win)?

    Is it immoral to visit a foreign country and give an official speech with the blessing of that government to sway an election your way? Is it immoral to talk with a foreigner to learn information to sway an election your way? I have no idea why you say it is, as though that’s an established fact.

    It is wrong to do something illegal with a foreign government or anyone else to sway an election your way: to bribe them or pay them off, to change votes, that sort of thing. It is not immoral to talk to them. It is not immoral to hear what they have to say about your opponent, and see what evidence they present. If you decide the story is true, and your opponent is guilty of some wrongdoing, do you think this information should never come out just because you got it from someone who is affiliated with a foreign government?

  62. Bill Says:

    Neo – honest question: what would constitute, in your view, collusion with a foreign power?

    Would it be evidence of money exchanging hands, a quid quo pro, etc? Clinton Foundation type stuff?

  63. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    I think I’ve given some examples: some quid pro quo that involved money or other favors, or perhaps some cooperation with the process of hacking or of voter fraud in some way. I would imagine there are other examples, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind.

    Collusion also involves actual acts, not hearing someone’s story. There has to be some action on the part of the hearer of the story, too. I could listen to a person without in the least colluding with that person. “Colluding” does NOT mean “listening to.” In addition, in the Trump Jr. case, he merely was willing to listen. There never was any narrative offered with which he could even begin to collude.

  64. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    I keep asking people to give me a link to what either Trump Sr. or Jr. actually said that amounts to “No contact with Russians ever.” I’d like to know the form the denial took. So far I’ve only found a video (can’t locate it at the moment, but I watched it a few days ago) showing a compendium of Trump aides and Trump Sr. saying on different occasions that there was no collusion with people who were trying to throw the election (or hack the election, or hack Hillary’s emails). I can’t recall the exact wording. but it was not a denial of ever having talked to a Russian.

  65. J.J. Says:

    Isn’t this a smelly kettle of fish?

    Some Never Trump GOPers hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump during the primaries. This was the beginning of the snooping around by the former MI6 agent, Christopher Steele. When Trump won the nomination, the GOP Never Trumper’s quit paying for the investigation. After Trump won the primaries, a Democratic client took over the funding; and, following Trump’s election, Steele continued working on the report pro bono. He passed on the information to British and American intelligence services. Steele felt the American intelligence services were not taking his info seriously so he passed the dossier to a reporter at mother Jones. The dossier was then passed to Senator John McCain, who took it to the FBI.

    “In a court filing in April 2017, Steele revealed previously unreported information that in December 2016 he gave one more report to ‘the senior British national security official and sent an encrypted version to Fusion with instructions to deliver a hard copy to Senator McCain.’ This memo, dated December 13, detailed possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. It described secret discussions between four named Trump representatives, Kremlin representatives, and associated operators/hackers about how to secretly pay the hackers who penetrated the DNC computer system and also how to cover up the operation. Although paid by the Trump organization, the hackers were controlled by Putin’s administration. (This is the first clear statement of what was done and how that I have seen.) ‘Comey has confirmed that counter-intelligence investigations are under way into possible links between Trump associates and Moscow, and CNN has reported that the FBI used the dossier to bolster its investigations.'” From:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump%E2%80%93Russia_dossier
    The FBI planned to continue paying Steele for further investigations, but then dropped that idea when the dossier was published by Buzz Feed.

    In March of 2017 a reporter from the BBC claimed that the FBI was using the dossier as a road map for investigating possible Russian collusion by the Trump campaign.

    The dossier also claims that over the previous five years Trump had been groomed and compromised by Russian agents of influence, setting him up as target of blackmail.

    So, we have a dossier paid for by both the GOPe and Dems which, if true, means that our President is subject to Russian control. A matter of utmost importance to national security. Surely the FBI and CIA should be all hands on deck verifying the facts. Yet the investigation proceeds at a glacial pace, while more and more political chaos ensues – all to the detriment of our political system and government.

    I am inclined to believe that Steele was misled and used by the Russians to create this dossier of disinformation that has created a crisis in our system. If true, all I can say is that the Russian plot to disrupt our elections worked very well and is continuing to work. On the other hand, if the dossier is factual, we need to verify the facts and remove Trump from office post haste. The FBI and CIA need to get on with it and put this issue to bed. It’s a cancer in our system.

  66. Bill Says:

    “There never was any narrative offered with which he could even begin to collude.”

    I’m not sure that there’s ironclad proof that the above statement is true.

    Everyone involved who is on record (as far as I know) says it was a boring meeting, nothing happened, etc. But I don’t know how much I trust any of them.

    Kushner was at the meeting, never disclosed it (as he was supposed to to get his top secret clearance).

    I don’t know if any of this means anything – but since the dogs are on the scent there are a lot of little details starting to drop, such as http://www.businessinsider.com/why-was-russian-money-laundering-case-dismissed-house-dems-2017-7

    I know how this stuff works – for all my Trump bashing, I don’t much trust the press, especially early on. Sometimes it really is a nothing burger. But the repeated claims that the meeting meant nothing, nothing came out of it, etc, keep getting undermined by other drops regarding who was at the meeting, the appearance of possible quid pro quos, etc.

    It’s early on. I know everyone on the Trump side is sick of this investigation. I find the whole thing pretty fascinating.

  67. Bill Says:

    “I keep asking people to give me a link to what either Trump Sr. or Jr. actually said that amounts to “No contact with Russians ever.” I’d like to know the form the denial took.”

    That’s fair. It’s a fair request, and I admit I’ve been guilty of saying that’s what they are saying. It may be that that’s what I’ve heard their defenders and surrogates saying, actually. Trump has definitely claimed he has no financial ties to Russia after the miss Universe pageant and selling some real estate there several years ago. Kushner failed to report the meeting in question along with (from what I understand) several others. But you make a good point.

    I may see what’s there. In the meantime, I need to be more precise in what I write here. I think my point was that it seems to be that the defense originally has been “no collusion happened” (that appears to be your stance to this day) but it’s slowly morphing into “it doesn’t matter if collusion happened because this is just politics as usual”. That switch is something I find intriguing.

  68. Big Maq Says:

    @Neo – you make it sound like I’m against oppo research. Not at all!

    You also argue with Bill as if we are talking about working with just any foreign government.

    That is one step, but I posed the question, what is the limiting principle from your stand?

    If putin shows up in trump tower with a briefcase full of papers on clinton as part of some “oppo research”, is that all okay? Would it be okay too, if it was from some official from iran or china? How about isis? How about from several of them?

    It is problematic with anyone representing a foreign government, but these rather authoritarian countries, where it is rather difficult to discern the line between official and private citizen, and we know they have few interests aligned with ours, if not outright adversarial?

    I may not go so far as to say it is collusion, but one’s willingness to engage an adversary of our country for political gain and expect there would have been no strings attached, or that it is only a one-off, is likely rather naive.

    That is hardly in the spirit of the promise to “drain the swamp” by my books.

  69. Bill Says:

    J.J. – agreed.

  70. neo-neocon Says:

    Big Maq:

    I don’t know that there’s any limiting factor other than the ones I already gave, talking with a government emissary from a country with which we’re at war (or substantially at war, such as Iran or North Korea), and/or a quid pro quo offer of some sort.

    I also think your example of Putin personally offering someone like Trump Jr. the info is ridiculous; that sort of thing is not going to happen. It’s always people way lower down.

    But I’ll go with it as a hypothetical by asking you a question back: let’s say Putin (who is the head of Russia, a country NOT defined as our enemy, although we sometimes work at cross-purposes) was talking to Trump Jr. (or Trump or Obama or any candidate) for some reason. Is that okay? I would say it would be very odd simply because Putin is a head of state and heads of state virtually never talk to candidates. So it would be somewhat suspicious on that grounds. But it would depend what was discussed. If it was the weather, it’s fine with me (unless there’s a law against a candidate even talking to a head of state; I’m not aware of the existence of such a law). If there was any quid pro quo, it would be wrong.

    If the head of state said that (for example) he was planning to hack the US election to influence it, there would be nothing wrong with just having the conversation unless the candidate then said, “Great, thanks!” and failed to report what was said to the FBI or other appropriate source (and perhaps there is even a law requiring a candidate to do that, for all I know, but I sort of doubt it).

    None of this fits the facts of the Trump Jr. meeting—and I don’t just mean because it wasn’t Putin. It’s because there was no information given (or even promised) about anything like that.

    What Soviet files revealed that Ted Kennedy had done, however, is both illegal and objectionable:

    On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”

    Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

    Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

    First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.

    Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”

    Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.

    Kennedy’s motives? “Like other rational people,” the memorandum explained, “[Kennedy] is very troubled by the current state of Soviet-American relations.” But that high-minded concern represented only one of Kennedy’s motives….

    More follows.

    This was done through intermediaries. But it wasn’t just listening to some information on the part of the Kennedy camp. It was an offer of a quid pro quo emanating from the Kennedy camp. Very different matter.

  71. brdavis9 Says:

    The Sancho P’s consider the Don Q’s insufferable, self-righteous, preening, egotistical RINOs who’d rather show us all how moral they are than actually try to win against opponents who are far more immoral than they.

    There, did I get the picture right?

    Yes.

    …it was actually perfect LOL.

    …quite enjoyed that neo …still chuckling.

  72. Lizzy Says:

    I agree with Neo on this not being collusion, just part of the unsavory business of a campaign.

    However, as JJ points out, it gets even trickier when in seen in context of other activities, both by the players involved in the meeting (Russian lawyer, Fusion GPS), as well as the Obama WH. Specifically, Obama’s team’s attempts to get a FISA warrant to surveil candidate/president elect Trump as well as loosening up rules on who could unmask non-targeted people recorded in surveillance (e.g., Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes) & how much this information could then be shared between the various federal agencies (so that leaks are harder to ID).

    Frankly, the more we learn the more it stinks. It’s looking like the meeting was a trap to justify a FISA warrant so that Obama and his shadow WH could destroy a Trump administration.

  73. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    I have never seen anyone from the Trump camp say that “it doesn’t matter if collusion happened because this is just politics as usual.” Perhaps some are saying: “No collusion happened, but even if it had, it wouldn’t have mattered if collusion happened because this is just politics as usual.” In other words, a denial that it happened plus the discussion of a “what if” hypothetical. There is no contradiction or “switch” there; people talk that way all the time in hypotheticals and it’s understood not to be an admission that something bad actually happened.

    Plus, I have never seen anyone in the Trump camp suggest, even as a hypothetical, that if REAL collusion had happened (plotting to hack the election together in some way, or a quid pro quo for doing it) on the part of any campaign that it would be just politics as usual. The “politics as usual” part just refers to being willing to listen to the tale of someone from a foreign country who says they have some dirt on your opponent.

  74. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    Also, at 2:02 PM, do you see what you’re doing? They must somehow prove to your satisfaction that they are innocent, even though no one says (and no subsequent emails allege) that any information of the sort originally promised was offered at the meeting, nor was such information ever acted upon or revealed—that somehow they have to prove it didn’t happen, just because you can imagine that they are lying about it?

    Obviously, if information emerges that contradicts the evidence before us (the testimony of all parties involved plus their subsequent lack of action on any information you imagine they might have received), that would change things. Till now, any assumption on your part that they’re lying is just your assumption because you simply don’t trust them. Short of a recording of the session, nothing could convince you they’re telling the truth. You’re not making much of a point except that you just don’t believe them.

  75. Bill Says:

    Neo – that is also a fair point. What I’m getting at is not that I find it impossible to believe that nothing happened (I don’t find that hard to believe at all). My point is that as part of the evidence that nothing bad happened many people keep stating as a fact that nothing untoward happened.

    So maybe my only point is that I don’t believe them, which is true.

    Here’s I think the two valid scenarios:

    1. DJT Jr has slow-walked the truth on this meeting, first saying it was only about adoption, etc. until he finally had to release the emails in which it’s obvious he thought the meeting was oppo research with Russians. But the reason he’s slow walked it was because the meeting really didn’t mean anything, happened a long time ago, and he just forgot the details. Same excuse to Jared Kushner (who, by the way, was supposed to disclose this meeting anyway but I realize people are human. That may be why it’s also been difficult for them to remember everyone who attended.

    OR

    2. There really was something shady that happened in this meeting or in subsequent ones.

    To your point – we don’t have any direct evidence that #2 is true. I guess I just don’t consider the statements of Trump Junior as proof that it isn’t.

    But, yeah, arguing from silence is a bad argument. I concede the point.

  76. Bill Says:

    By “many people” in my first paragraph, I mean the people involved. I didn’t state it very well: I don’t really believe statements made by members of the Trump family.

  77. Brian E Says:

    Neo alluded to theories that the Trump Jr. meeting was a setup.

    Zerohedge (for what it’s worth) posits the theory this was the meeting that was used to seek a FISA court warrant to surveil Trump campaign.

    Was Trump Jr Meeting Deep-State Setup For FISA Wiretaps?

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-12/was-trump-jr-meeting-deep-state-setup-fisa-wiretaps-russian-atty-hates-president-lin

    Now in the interest of bringing an epic adventure that befits the greatest of the Russian genre, a very leftist view of the events, including the web of acquaintances of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

    PROOF: Trump Knows Agent Who Set Up Russian Meeting With Trump Jr. (UPDATED)

    https://thesternfacts.com/proof-trump-knows-agent-who-setup-russian-meeting-with-trump-jr-cd68fd2621b8

    The first story claims the Russia lawyer “Ms. V” was both anit-Trump and anti-Putin based on postings on her FB page and hints at ties between PR intermediary Rob Goldstone and Fusion GPS.

    The second story, complete with pictures, shows that Trump knew Rob Goldstone, who was PR person for the son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov. Trump even appeared in a music video with the son, Emin, where Trump reprises his trademark “You’re Fired”.
    It makes the point that Ms. V was running an illegal lobbying shop, working against the Global Magnitsky Act, a followup bill to the anti-corruption bill passed by the senate.

    This will be made into a movie at some point in the future.

    As an added bonus, two additional persons were at the meeting between Trump Jr. and Ms. V, one of whom had known ties to Russian intelligence.

    Now none of this has much to do with the allegation of “collusion”, but still fascinating.

  78. Bill Says:

    Neo – below are the results of a little bit of searching regarding Trump campaign assurances against collusion. We’re probably stepping too deeply into the Clintonian “definition of ‘is'” territory in these: Most of them are Trump campaign and staff members (sometimes flatly) denying any meeting with the purpose of helping the campaign, but all could be construed in a favorable or unfavorable way depending on a persons biases. As you’ve pointed out, I’m not inclined to give the Trumps much benefit of the doubt, so keep that in mind. Emphasis below is mine.

    From https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/11/donald-trump-russia-timeline-campaign-denials

    11 November
    Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks denies claims from the Kremlin that Trump officials met with its staff.

    “It never happened,” Hicks says. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

    18 December
    Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, Conway says no one involved with the campaign had any contact with Russians who sought to meddle in the US election.

    15 January
    CBS asks Mike Pence, the incoming vice-president, if there have been conversations with Russians who wanted to meddle in the election.

    “Well of course not,” Pence replies. “I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”

    16 February
    Trump – to reporters at a WH press conference: “I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.”

    20 February
    At a White House briefing, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says allegations about the Trump team and Russia are “ a non-story because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it’s hard to make a comment on something that never happened.”

    March
    In an interview with the New York Times, Trump Jr denies meeting with Russian nationals in connection to the presidential campaign.

    “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did,” he said. “But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”

    Asked if he has ever discussed government policies related to Russia, he replies, “100% no.”

    8 July
    The New York Times reports that Trump Jr met with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information about Clinton. Trump Jr says the meeting was not about his father’s campaign: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”

    10 July
    The New York Times reports that emails show the Russian lawyer told Trump Jr she had compromising information about Clinton that was part of Russian government efforts to aid his father’s campaign. Trump Jr tweets: “Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent … went nowhere but had to listen.

    Into the next morning, he continues to retweet people who say the revelations are not a big deal.

    11 July 2017
    Minutes before the New York Times publishes the emails referenced in the previous day’s story, Trump Jr posts the emails on Twitter.

    So the reason the DJTJr meeting with the Russians was a big deal was because he and a number of other people connected to the campaign said that no meetings with foreign reps having to do with helping the campaign ever happened.

    He’s either been caught in a lie, or – to be charitable to him – the meeting was really nothing and if he had to do it again he wouldn’t, and because of that he didn’t think it warranted mentioning.

    I may dig in a little more (my time’s limited but I find this fascinating) but there’s at least something to look at. To your earlier assertion, you probably won’t find any Trump campaign member stating unequivocally that there was never, ever any contact with Russians for any reason. But they certainly gave the impression that a meeting such as the one Donald Trump Jr. thought he was going to never happened.

  79. Brian E Says:

    In an interview with the New York Times, Trump Jr denies meeting with Russian nationals in connection to the presidential campaign.
    “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did,” he said. “But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”
    Asked if he has ever discussed government policies related to Russia, he replies, “100% no.”

    Bill, interesting that the Times knew about the meeting as early as March, but didn’t make a story out of it until now. We’re getting into lawyer type talk now, but everything he said is true.
    1. he met with Ms. V as a private citizen, not as part of the campaign. He brought along two members of the campaign, so at some level they became aware of the meeting.
    2.He’s vague– yes I’m sure I met with some Russian, but I don’t remember the specifics, and once again he wasn’t part of the campaign.
    3. The Magnitsky Act was American policy– it was only tangentially related to Russian adoptions when Putin stopped all adoptions in retaliation to the law.

    You may think the answers weren’t transparent enough, but I don’t think you would get a perjury charge out of his answers, at least to these questions.

  80. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    You certainly found a lot of quotes! Thanks for your diligence.

    But your conclusions don’t follow from those quotes. First of all, most of those people quoted were very likely to have had no idea about that meeting that took place in June of 2016 (except Donald Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner, who were at the meeting). So the others certainly wouldn’t be likely to have been lying in any denials they made, no matter how sweeping.

    What’s more, take a look at your own last sentence. You wrote, “they certainly gave the impression that a meeting such as the one Donald Trump Jr. thought he was going to never happened.” Hey, guess what? It never DID happen (unless, of course, you think the lawyer did give him information that everyone agrees she didn’t give him). In other words, they never did meet with anyone Russian (much less a government representative, which she was not) who had been “meddling” with the election (which she was not).

    What would you have them say: “Donald Trump Jr. didn’t tell us this, but apparently he once arranged a meeting with someone he thought might loosely fit that description, wanting to hear what she would say about Hillary Clinton but not to plan any interference or meddling with any election, but it turns out that when they actually met she had no information at all to offer on anything even remotely related to the election or Clinton.” Do you honestly think that there was some requirement to say that, about a meeting that most or all of them didn’t even know happened and that didn’t turn out to impart any information at all on any of it?

    That seems highly unreasonable to me.

    Remember also that the context of those questions at the time they were asked: did you help the Russians meddle in the election? Did you talk to anyone to plan or facilitate this meddling? Everyone understood that to be the context. That’s what the denials were about.

    By the way, those 8th of July and 10th of July summaries you quoted make some incorrect statements. It was not the Russian lawyer herself who had promised the info or “told Trump Jr she had compromising information about Clinton.” It was Goldstone who told Trump that, and it was apparently on that basis that the meeting was set up.

    Also, you state that Trump Jr. “and a number of other people connected to the campaign said no meetings with foreign reps having to do with helping the campaign ever happened.” Trump Jr. was either lying, or had forgotten the meeting (which is actually a good possibility, seeing how trivial and forgettable it turned out to be), when he said “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did,” he said. “But none that were set up. ”

    Yes, the meeting was certainly “set up,” and she certainly was Russian. If denying that (or forgetting it) was his biggest crime, it’s small potatoes.

    No doubt there is the possibility that we will learn more info that will reflect poorly on Trump and company. So far, I just don’t see much.

    By the way, I’ve searched for the original interview with the Times and Trump Jr. from March, the one in which he supposedly said “Did I meet with people that are Russian….?” I couldn’t find any articles in March with that quote; it seems to have reported by the Times ex post facto. I couldn’t find the article in March in a search, and the Times doesn’t link to it when referencing it in recent articles in the paper.

    For example, this is from July 9, 2017, in the Times:

    But in an interview with The Times in March, he denied participating in any campaign-related meetings with Russian nationals. “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did,” he said. “But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way.”

    I would very much like to see more about that interview in March. What were they actually talking about? What was the question Trump Jr. was answering there? It’s important to know that if we are to know what he was referring to and what the parameters of his denial were. I have learned over and over that quotes can be very very misleading without a context. The Times is pulling this quote out of a previous interview months later in order to buttress its own case against Trump. Again, I’d like to see the original.

    It’s a sad thing when, although I have no special reason to trust Donald Trump Jr, I have even less reason to trust the Times.

  81. DNW Says:

    ” Are we a nation of laws, not men, or do we really want to jettison that concept? “

    LOL

    Part of what it means to be a nation of [ruled by] laws rather than [by the whims and caprices of] men, is that there must be a law to be broken before a crime can take place.

    No crime without a law; no state administered punishment without a crime.

  82. Ann Says:

    I found that March 18, 2017 piece on Trump Jr. in the NY Times — “Donald Trump Jr. Is His Own Kind of Trump”.

    But that quote — “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way.” — isn’t in it. Could it have been in the author’s notes or something? Only the NY Times knows.

  83. Bill Says:

    Regarding the acceptance of the (growing list of) people at the meeting: Jonah Goldberg has a few things to say in this week’s G-File: The Benefit of the doubt is now gone. Good read, here are some of the money-quotes (he’s a little salty because he takes a LOT of abuse from Trumpers for his relatively measured disdain for Trump).

    Second, this underscores a point I’ve been shouting at the TV all week: Why the Hell are people taking the word of anyone in that meeting as proof of anything? Before this morning’s revelation, even members of the Trump-hostile press repeated that “nothing came of the meeting” or that “no information was given.” On the Trump Aqueduct, this was translated into the whole story being a “nothingburger.” Where did the proof of this come from? From the people in the room! Jiminy Cricket, that’s stupid.

    . . .

    Which brings me to point No. 3. It doesn’t frick’n matter if — note the “if” — nothing came of the meeting. Junior can’t claim he, Manafort, and Kushner never sought to collude with the Russian government when he admits that he, Manafort, and Kushner eagerly took a meeting for the express purpose of colluding with Russia.

    . . .

    Which brings me back to my first point of the week. Why on God’s good Earth would you defend any of this? Since I’ve been having this ridiculous argument all week, let me skip ahead. Yes, “Crooked Hillary,” Ted Kennedy, and a host of other liberals did bad things. Whether those bad things were analogous to this is highly debatable. But let’s just concede the point for argument’s sake. Let’s also accept the president’s grotesquely cynical and false claim that pretty much anyone in politics would have done the same thing and taken the meeting. (I for one am perfectly happy to concede that Sidney Blumenthal would happily have done equally sleazy things for his Queen-master. But I have every confidence that if some shady Russian cutouts approached, say, James Baker with a similar scheme to “incriminate” Michael Dukakis, he would become a helicopter of fists.)

    But here’s the thing: Who gives a dirty rat’s ass? If you spent years — like I did, by the way — insisting that the Clintons were a corrupt affront to political decency, invoking their venal actions as a moral justification for Team Trump’s actions is the rhetorical equivalent of a remake of Waterworld set entirely in the main vat of a sewage-treatment plant, i.e., the intellectual Mother of Sh*t Shows. This is a point Ben Shapiro made well earlier this week (and which I’ve been writing about for two years now). If you want to make the case that Democrats or the media are hypocrites, whataboutism is perfectly valid (and quite fun). But if you want to say that it’s fine for Trump to do things you considered legally and morally outrageous when Hillary Clinton did them, you should either concede that you believe two wrongs make a right or you should apologize for being angry about what Clinton did. And you should be prepared to have no right to complain when the next Democrat gets into power and does the same thing.

    This also is pretty interesting. Turns out if we are to believe the people in the room, the Trump campaign might have gotten some information after all.

    Akhmetshin said he was not expecting to attend any meeting at Trump Tower that day. In fact, he was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt when Veselnitskaya told him that she had a meeting scheduled and asked him to come along. Although Trump Jr. has insisted that Vesenikstaya mainly wanted to talk about Russian adoptions, Akhmetshin said she brought a folder with information about an American hedge fund operating in Russia that she believed was funneling money to the Democratic National Committee. “She spent years researching this stuff,” he said. She left the folder with her hosts at Trump Tower, Akhmetshin said, adding that he had never seen its contents and doesn’t know the details of what was in it. “I didn’t prepare the document,” he said.

    Emphasis mine.

  84. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    In running down the comments, I ran across Neo reiterating the Ted Kennedy offer to the Kremlin to collude in the election.
    It was then that I remembered what the watergate Plumbers were looking for when they broke into the DNC HQ.
    Collusion between the DNC and communists.

  85. Bill Says:

    Finally (I think I mean it this time 🙂 ) – the issue here is not necessarily a legal issue, although it might end up being one.

    In other words: it’s not illegal if you’re Secretary of State to decide not to help Americans trapped in an embassy in a foreign country if you think it’s too risky. Even if they all die. It’s not illegal to blame it all on a video. It’s not illegal to stand by their caskets and tell the parents of one of them “we’re going to get the guy who made the video”.

    It’s not illegal to say “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”.

    Regarding the above, I think both instances were awful, and I’m not saying in any way that what DJT Jr has done is in any way as bad as them (unless there is actual quid quo pro or some kind of weird blackmail going on). I’m just saying that I’d like to think that most of you would agree with me that strict legality is not really the issue here.

    And I’m watching the shoes drop on this nothingburger. At this point I’m still taking the “under” on anything coming of it. But the story keeps morphing as new facts come out. If it is confirmed that they received a folder of oppo research from the Russian lawyer from the meeting, as one of the attendees has stated, the story will get that much more interesting.

  86. Ann Says:

    In the Washington Examiner: “White House trying to block bill that would tighten Russian sanctions: Report”

    In view of the fact that the Russian lawyer at the meeting, Veselnitskaya, is all about ending those sanctions, this is not a good move.

  87. AesopFan Says:

    Bill Says:
    July 14th, 2017 at 7:14 pm
    If it is confirmed that they received a folder of oppo research from the Russian lawyer from the meeting, as one of the attendees has stated, the story will get that much more interesting.
    * * *
    Of course, just like with everything else, as Jonah G said: we only have his word for it — and who is he, anyway?
    I feel like we have wandered into a book by John le Carre.

  88. Bill Says:

    AesopFan – yes, of course. The point being, we’re asked to believe the people in the meeting (all of whom have reasons to downplay the meeting’s importance).

    Fair enough. This guy was in the meeting. Just another piece of evidence to throw into the mix.

  89. AesopFan Says:

    Ed Bonderenka Says:
    July 14th, 2017 at 6:58 pm
    In running down the comments, I ran across Neo reiterating the Ted Kennedy offer to the Kremlin to collude in the election.
    It was then that I remembered what the watergate Plumbers were looking for when they broke into the DNC HQ.
    Collusion between the DNC and communists.
    * * *
    Which actually is very likely to have happened.
    How else did Kennedy know he would be well received later?

    BTW, journalists receive info all the time about candidates, politicians, other officials, etc etc etc.
    How often do they go to the FBI with what they learn?
    BEFORE they publish it, I mean.
    Are they colluding with the purveyors to meddle in US elections?
    There are cases where you could make a credible charge.
    Just because they aren’t “elected officials” doesn’t make their meddling less reprehensible.

  90. AesopFan Says:

    Ann Says:
    July 14th, 2017 at 6:40 pm
    I found that March 18, 2017 piece on Trump Jr. in the NY Times — “Donald Trump Jr. Is His Own Kind Trump”.

    But that quote — “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way.” — isn’t in it. Could it have been in the author’s notes or something? Only the NY Times knows.
    * * *
    Mueller should subpoena the notes ASAP – if he isn’t tracking where this came from, he is not doing the job he was hired to do.

  91. Brian E Says:

    “Akhmetshin said she brought a folder with information about an American hedge fund operating in Russia that she believed was funneling money to the Democratic National Committee.”

    That would be Bill Browder, who was being represented by Magnitsky.

    Here’s an interview where Browder as he gives his side of the story.

    http://kedm.org/post/businessman-bill-browder-details-dealings-russian-laywer-tied-trump#stream/0

  92. AesopFan Says:

    http://theresurgent.com/heres-why-i-think-the-donald-trump-jr-meeting-sounds-like-a-set-up/

    “First, do not think this excuses Trump, Jr.’s poor judgment. He got an email that said the Russian government wanted to help his dad and they had damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s email server. His first thought should have been to call the FBI, not “yay daddy.”

    There’s a terrible lapse in judgment here.”
    * * *
    Is that the same FBI which colluded to meddle in the US election by recommending against indicting a woman who manifestly and blatantly broke the laws about handling national security information?

  93. AesopFan Says:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-12/was-trump-jr-meeting-deep-state-setup-fisa-wiretaps-russian-atty-hates-president-lin
    “(And just how did Sexton know about this a year ago?)”
    * *
    And why didn’t he go to the FBI to complain that Trump was colluding with the Russians, if it was so important that he spent a year doing the investigative work that the FBI should have been doing?

    Journalists all think they get a pass on the laws and “ethics” they want everyone else (on the Republican side) to observe.

  94. AesopFan Says:

    Lizzy Says:
    July 14th, 2017 at 2:57 pm…

    Frankly, the more we learn the more it stinks. It’s looking like the meeting was a trap to justify a FISA warrant so that Obama and his shadow WH could destroy a Trump administration.
    * * *
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-12/was-trump-jr-meeting-deep-state-setup-fisa-wiretaps-russian-atty-hates-president-lin
    “In closing – Why would a Russian attorney who hates Donald Trump and has ties to the ‘pissgate’ dossier firm – Fusion GPS, agree to provide Trump Jr. with opposition research on Hillary Clinton unless it was a setup?”

    scrappy Jul 13, 2017 6:45 AM
    I don’t always order Nothing Burgers, but when I do, I add the Supersized Lies.
    * * *

  95. AesopFan Says:

    Brian E Says:
    July 14th, 2017 at 8:49 pm
    “Akhmetshin said she brought a folder with information about an American hedge fund operating in Russia that she believed was funneling money to the Democratic National Committee.”

    That would be Bill Browder, who was being represented by Magnitsky.

    Here’s an interview where Browder as he gives his side of the story.

    http://kedm.org/post/businessman-bill-browder-details-dealings-russian-laywer-tied-trump#stream/0
    * *
    Very interesting.
    I thought the link would talk about Browder funneling money to the DNC, or denying that he did, but it never comes up, just the Magnitsky Act connection. He doesn’t seem very concerned that the mysterious folder contained any information about his links to the DNC if any. More obfuscation?

    “BROWDER: …
    And so what has happened is that this woman, Natalia Veselnitskaya, via various people in the Russian government has become the proxy for Putin’s interests in repealing the Magnitsky Act. ..

    And obviously when Donald Trump was starting to rise and when he started to rise post-Republican nomination, I’m sure that they had a strategy meeting at headquarters and they said, we need to get to this guy to repeal the Magnitsky Act because this is their single most important foreign policy priority. ..And they went there with the sole objective of getting the Magnitsky Act repealed.

    MCEVERS: Right. And what you speculate is some sort of quid pro quo. We’ll give you information on your opponent if you’ll consider doing away with this – the Magnitsky Act.

    BROWDER: Well, what you have to understand is the Russians are extremely good at wheeling and dealing and pressuring and blackmailing and bribing and et cetera. I would have never gone to a meeting with something that they’re asking for, something serious that they’re asking for like repealing a major piece of human rights legislation, unless they could offer something equally tantalizing in return. Now, what they were offering we may never know. We don’t know what really happened in that meeting. But surely they would have gone there with a very serious offer in exchange for what they were asking for.”

    * *
    Considering the degree to which the Clintons were, in fact, colluding with Russians on the right and left hand, and especially as SoS, is it unbelievable that Lady V was dangling some inside details of those connections?
    IMO that’s what Donald jr might suspect she had, but may not be what she actually offered.
    Because, any information damaging to the Clintons, would be just as damaging to the Russians.
    So, whatever it was, if anything, it was nothing that would actually help Candidate Trump unless it was something that was NOT connected with Clinton&Russia Inc.

    Your guess is as good as mine.
    If there was something there, it wasn’t ever used — or the intrepid reporters at the Times would have told us what they did with it.

    And I can really imagine this conversation:
    Djr: Hi Director Comey. A Russian just offered to give me some dirt on Hillary Clinton, you know, the candidate you just refused to indict for breaking the laws on handling classified information. I’ll bring you whatever she gives me so you can start proceedings against her for colluding with the Russians.
    Comey: You bet, Mr. Trump. We’ll take care of that for you.

  96. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Journalists all think they get a pass on the laws and “ethics” they want everyone else (on the Republican side) to observe.

    Every time Americans, such as here, call them the “press”, they give authority and permission for the elite aristo journo lists to act.

  97. Ymar Sakar Says:

    As for people’s worries that the US is getting infiltrated by people colluding with foreigners or vice a versa, that’s a bit too late to worry about now given FDR and co.

    Should have worried about that a few decades ago when it might have made a difference.

    Also the issue about Trum was never Trum. The people who give power to the US President are the ones corrupted by that power. The king or president can be corrupted too, but that’s not the primary problem. A replacement can be had for a bad king, sooner or later, due to mortality. One cannot replace the electorate, the citizens, once they fall to corruption.

    Which they already have in giving their power to DC.

  98. Ymar Sakar Says:

    It was then that I remembered what the watergate Plumbers were looking for when they broke into the DNC HQ.
    Collusion between the DNC and communists.

    You really weren’t supposed to remember that Ed. The Journo Lists will have to institute better brainwashing techniques in their Watergate fake investigations.

  99. Bill Says:

    Yes, it’s all brainwashing. And we’re all victims. Victims who can’t think for ourselves.

    (I really miss the days when the GOP had a backbone)

  100. Brian E Says:

    Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

    A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
    The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446

    Conservatives should spend more energy understanding how other foreign governments were involved in affecting the last election.

    Reading this report, along with others, requires reading between the statements that ‘explain away’ why this is a serious matter. Such as the very next sentence to the one I quoted above:

    But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.

    Notice the deflection. The story compares a paid DNC operative working with the Ukrainian government to email hacking of the DNC. But the subject is collusion— did Ukrainian entities provide information to the DNC and Clinton campaign (which we know based on what happened to Sanders were one and the same) damaging to the Trump campaign?
    Well, obviously yes.

    Was it different than the alleged collusion with the Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Ms. V? Yes. In this case, the Ukrainian operative was a paid consultant to the DNC (received $412,000) and spent months working to disseminate damaging information about Manafort to undermine the Trump campaign.

    But conservatives are such nice people (or gullible), we’ll willingly accept the ‘explanations’ why this is no big deal.

  101. Matt_SE Says:

    Would I object if a Dem got information from a foreign government about something illegal a Republican candidate did?

    No.

    I value the truth more than party. If my guy did something illegal, I would want to know that.

  102. Bill Says:

    But conservatives are such nice people (or gullible), we’ll willingly accept the ‘explanations’ why this is no big deal.”

    No we’re not. Our leader is a cruel bully. The Republican party lost the moral high ground a while ago. The white evangelicals still vigorously defending it just haven’t realized that yet.

    Also – it Ukrainian meddling in our election is bad, so is Russian meddling. This is a risky line of argument for people trying to defend Trump.

  103. Brian E Says:

    Also – it Ukrainian meddling in our election is bad, so is Russian meddling. This is a risky line of argument for people trying to defend Trump.-Bill

    Earth to Bill. They’re both bad. But there is no evidence at this point that Trump had anything to do with Russia’s meddling. No evidence. None. Nyet. Nein.

    We do know that Ukraine was actively working with the DNC to undermine the Trump campaign.

  104. Brian E Says:

    Which does raise an interesting point. Is it OK for allies to meddle in our affairs?
    What if our interests and theirs aren’t aligned, but they’re still considered an ally? Is it still OK?

    Bill, do you consider Russia to be an adversary or an enemy?

  105. Brian E Says:

    Hmm. Ukraine did support the Iraqi invasion with a force of 1650, which is more than all the EU countries with the exception of Italy and GB.

    Actually so did Georgia (2000), and we know what happened to them.

    When Russia went into Georgia, what was the Bush response?

  106. Bill Says:

    Brian E.

    There’s “no evidence”?

    None?

    How can we even talk about this? This is like talking about climate change. Neither side wants to listen.

    The Donald Jr. Meeting is evidence. The successive set of lies told about it is evidence. The fact that they met with people lobbying for the reduction of sanctions who, according to one of the parties, left them a folder of oppo research is evidence. The fact that the list of attendees kept growing is evidence. The behavior of Trump himself regarding this investigation from day 1 is evidence. The fact he fired Comey is evidence.

    They met with Russians that they believed had dirt on their opponent for the purpose of damaging her campaign. It matters if nothing came of that but it doesn’t change the intent. That’s evidence.

    I understand you’re not buying it. The shoes are still dropping and there’s an active investigation going on. So you don’t really know what evidence there is.

    I understand giving Trump the benefit of the doubt (although i don’t – he’s dishonest as hades so I’m not inclined). Who knows, maybe you’re right. But this thing isn’t over and it isn’t “without evidence”.

  107. Bill Says:

    Also, I consider Russia to be an adversary, not an enemy. I am not against relations improving, of course. But the Trump administration’s stance toward Russia hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence. I’d like more transparency. Trump has done business there in the recent past, I think it would be good for all involved to be sure his motives are strictly what’s best for the US.

    And I don’t see anything to admire about Putin.

  108. Brian E Says:

    Bill,
    The problem with using the Trump Jr. fiasco as evidence that Trump is involved with the Russian meddling is simple. Trump was solicited by a celebrity hangeron (yes he represented a c list entertainer), representing a Russian lawyer/advocate/operator. You could make the case he is the victim here. At this point the worst you say about Trump Jr. is he was naïve.

    The very first rule about dealing with Russians is to be skeptical. I live in deplorableland and even I know the first rule.

    In fact, there is a plausible scenario that this bait and switch was essentially a sting operation.

    On another thread a linked to seven theories about the Russian meddling, and the most plausible scenarios Trump wasn’t an active participant and possibly it wasn’t ever about him

  109. Bill Says:

    Brian E. Depends how you look at it. The c-list celebrity has done business w Trump in Russia and his father has Kremlin ties. The lawyer has been lobbying the US to reduce or get rid of sanctions slapped on Russia for torturing and killing a journalist. Trump has shown willingness to reduce sanctions (although he seems to be bending to pressure not to). He won the election by slivers of votes in several key states and hardly anyone thinks the wiki leaks dump (heavy Russian ties there) didn’t hurt HRC. There are lots of dots. Some have lines connecting them. To your point and in defense of your arguments, none are at this point firmly pointing at Trump. The smoking gun hasn’t been found. Perhaps it never will.

    Side note: Donald Jr. Is not a kid (the “naive kid” defense is starting to get floated). He’s 39 and runs a billion+ dollar company.

    Maybe it is nothing. But it’s too early to declare that.

  110. Brian E Says:

    At my age he’s still a kid.

  111. Bill Says:

    Yeah, me too.

  112. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The entirety of humanity is a kid to Lucifer, and he’s still doing the deception ops above and beyond what politicians in the US can imagine.

  113. Ymar Sakar Says:

    I’m usually neutral on these propaganda bullsh shenanigan clown acts that the media and the internet tends to put over Amis, to entertain the world. At least until Sept/Oct of 2017.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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