Sunday, June 18, 2017

The case of Trump-Russia collusion

There are conservative Republicans who are making the argument that there is no evidence of Trump-Russian collusion. And I can certainly say we have not seen any direct evidence of collusion. That being said, we have not seen any evidence that law enforcement and intelligence may have. But that doesn't mean there isn't circumstantial evidence and plenty of smoke. The question when it comes to collusion between President Trump and the Russians is whether this smoke is a fire in the basement or a burned roast.

Let's go over some of the circumstantial evidence. I might miss some because there's a lot of it so forgive me.

1. Donald Trump's ties and financial connections to Russia go back a long way according to this US Today report. But one thing I want to bring out. Son Donald Jr. said this regarding the Trump Organization, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”

2. General Michael Flynn, future National Security Adviser, accepts $45,000 dollars to attend a dinner in Russia celebrating Russia Today, a propaganda TV station. He sits at the table with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (General Michael Flynn wikipedia article; I'm going to use this a main cite since there's so much stuff about Flynn)

3. While running for President, Trump continually praises Putin.

4. After Wikileaks dumps stolen Democratic Party emails, Trump calls on the Russians to help and get Hillary Clinton's deleted emails.

5. Two Trump campaign officials have significant Russian connections. Campaign manager Paul Manafort did work for pro-Russian Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych. That guy fled to, yes, you guessed it. Russia. Carter Page was a top foreign policy expert for Trump when Trump needed them. He was an investment banker in Russia and was investigated by American intelligence for Russian ties.

6. Republican National Convention. This little thing becomes significant. On the GOP platform, there's a call to arm Ukraine with lethal weapons to use against Russian aggression. The Trump campaign wanted the wording to be changed to "appropriate assistance." NPR report.

Now to most Americans, they wouldn't know anything about Ukraine. But if you're Putin, a guy who wants to keep Crimea and probably annex other parts of Ukraine with force, you don't wan't American lethal assistance going to the Ukrainians. This is the first public sign of payback to the Russians by Trump.

7. December 29, 2016. President Obama announces sanctions against Russia for the hacking of Democrats computers. On or about that day, Flynn now NSA designate, speaks to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The next day, Russia announces it won't retaliate. Hmm. I''m guessing that this was not about borscht recipes. According to Flynn's wikipedia there are allegations that his conversations with the Russians are about sanctions. Payback no. 2.

8. Jared Kushner, son-in-law to Trump and his most trusted adviser sought to set up a secure channel to the Kremlin. This occurred in December. I'm not kidding about this. The line would defeat American intelligence. There is some dispute as to what Kushner wanted from the Russians. He says it was about diplomacy. The Russians said it was about Kushner's business. And why did he need to talk to the head of VEB bank, a sanctioned Russian bank? Vox report.

We do know that Kushner's 666 5th Avenue Building is deep in debt. Bloomberg. Is it possible to get sanctions lifted on VEB then get a nice loan from them? Wouldn't that be a little obvious?

9. Trump takes office. The administration tries to rapidly and unilaterally lift Russian sanctions. Payback 3.

10. May 9. Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. And in an interview with NBC Lester Holt indicates it was about the Russian investigation.

11. May 10. Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavorov and Kislyak. He gives them top secret information. Oh, he disallows the press from attending but lets in a Russian photographer. Payback 4.

12. There are reports that Trump will give back two compounds seized because of Russian hacking. Washington Post. Payback 5.

13. After Comey testified before the Senate we can come up with a timeline of his interactions with Trump. The interesting thing is that major Trump contacts occur after a General Flynn event. On January 27, 2917, one day after being warned about a compromised Flynn, Trump demands loyalty from Comey. On February 14, one day after Flynn is fired, Trump asks Comey who is alone to let Flynn go.

14. More from the June Comey hearing before the Senate. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to Comey, "Do you think Donald Trump colluded with the Russians?" Comey, "That's a question I don't think I should answer in an open setting." (Olberman video below at 30 second mark.) Note Comey does not deny which he could easily. Conclusion: There's evidence that's not public that indicates Trump colluded with the Russians.

Here's Keith Olbermann's take on the evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russians.


So conservative Republicans, what evidence do we know? And by the way I have not even talked about the Steele Dossier and the pee tape. Well, let's go over this like a quid pro agreement.

1. What Trump Gets From the Russians.

a. Russia has invested in Trump's businesses.
b. Benefited from Russian hacking of the DNC and other cyber attacks.

2. What the Russians get from Trump.

a. Lifting of sanctions
b. No American assistance of Ukraine
c. Wedge between NATO and America (Trump at a NaTO meeting, refused to endorse Article V. Scolded allies to spend more.)
d. More positive treatment of Putin.

Wow, the Russians do pretty well. As Keith Olbermann and I have been saying RESIST.

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