Trump and Russia: my best guess

There are conflicting narratives in the political world. This has likely always been true, but the separation of the narratives feels more palpable than any other time in my life. Sure, we’ve had conflicting narratives before: Reagan painted a picture of a world where the poor were living large on the handouts of the rich, and the counter-narrative was that nobody is “living large” and that people need help. There has been the belief that deregulation is good for us because regulations provide a costly burden, and this is countered by the cost is worth the protection that regulations provide. But these were issues of perspective, not issues of mutually exclusive views of the world. That feels quite different from what we have now, especially when it comes to Trump and Russia.

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The memo that caused a howl turns out to be a peep

I read the memo, which the FBI has called misleading, and these are my thoughts:

In general, some takeaways:

Like most congressional democrats, and unlike most congressional republicans, I am concerned about the use of surveillance of Americans. I am happy that this is now a concern of republicans, most of whom voted to authorize this kind of surveillance of Americans. Welcome to the club. Maybe start caring about stuff before it affects things you like or care about next time, and care about things that affect others before it comes to haunt you.

I don’t really know what is news here. I’ve been following the story for a while, and all of  these claims have been made already. Maybe not in any official capacity, but it’s been argued in the news that the Steele dossier was the critical evidence for the FISA warrant, and others have said that it was only a piece. It’s hard for me to imagine that seasoned folks at the FBI wouldn’t think carefully about stuff before going for a warrant, but I could be wrong about that.

The whole thing reads like a motion to dismiss filed by a defense team for Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. I’m not sure how that will play out, but it’s noteworthy that it never asserts their innocence, but seeks a means by which their cases should be dismissed on technicalities.

Here are my thoughts to the specific points, in order:

Continue reading “The memo that caused a howl turns out to be a peep”

The impervious president

We’re in very strange waters, and this makes it so difficult to predict the future. The President has survived things that would have decimated politicians in the past. He insulted John McCain, and specifically attacked his experience as a war hero, yet supporters, even those in the military, stood by him. He bragged about sexual assault in a more vulgar way that we’ve heard from most politicians. He threatened to use the justice department to jail his political opponent if elected. He blamed President Bush for 9/11. And all of that was before he got elected. Any one of those would have destroyed the candidacy of any normal candidate, but Trump wasn’t a normal candidate. Likewise, there have been so many things that would have crushed a sitting president, and it doesn’t seem to be doing too much harm to him.

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Timelines and subthreads (part 4: Who is Felix Sater?)

This is the fourth of a series dissecting the timeline of Trump-Russia connections that’s kept at Bill Moyers’s website. For a bit of intro, and the first subthread click here. This one is all cut and pasted, with the links included. None of the text is my own, not even paraphrased.

This is all about a man named Felix Sater, who I think we should get to know a bit. Follow past the jump for this one.

Continue reading “Timelines and subthreads (part 4: Who is Felix Sater?)”

Timelines and subthreads (part 3: All about Manafort)

This is the third of a series dissecting the timeline of Trump-Russia connections that’s kept at Bill Moyers’s website. For a bit of intro, and the first subthread , click here. This one is all cut and pasted, with the links included. None of the text is my own, not even paraphrased.

Paul Manafort seems to be a pretty central figure here, so I thought it was worth a search for his name in the timeline. Follow past the jump for this one.

Continue reading “Timelines and subthreads (part 3: All about Manafort)”

Timelines and subthreads (part 2: GOP platform on Russia and Ukraine)

This is the second of a series dissecting the timeline of Trump-Russia connections that’s kept at Bill Moyers’s website. For a bit of intro, and the first subthread, click here. Some text is copied and pasted directly from the timeline, other text is paraphrased.

I found this one interesting, even though I can’t say that I was paying too much attention to it at the time. One thing to keep in mind is that these exchanges were all happening after the June 9 meeting between Trump Jr and Veselnitskaya, and after the April 2016 DNC hack. There’s a fair amount of mingling with this thread and Paul Manafort, but I’ll take on the Manafort stuff in another thread. Follow past the jump for the timeline.

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Timelines and subthreads (part 1: Trump Jr emails and meetings)

Steven Harper has assembled a very useful and impressive timeline of all the connections between Trump and Russia. It’s posted here, and updated regularly. As impressive as I find it, the problem with it is that it’s a series of overlapping timelines, rather than one single timeline. A way to sort it by a specific topic would be helpful, and certainly possible electronically. I hope they will do this in the future. For now, there are a couple of subthreads that I found particularly interesting to follow, and worth putting together here. I’m sure more will be added to these in the future. If I’m moved to update, I’ll do it in a separate post to preserve the sense of what we know now. I’m also going to keep the subthreads in separate posts so they don’t get buried under each other. Some text is copied and pasted directly from the timeline, other text is paraphrased.

The Trump Jr email/meeting timeline is below, and others will follow:

Subthread 2: Trump campaign and the GOP platform position on Russia and Ukraine.

Subthread 3: all about Manafort

Subthread 4: who is Felix Sater?

Continue reading “Timelines and subthreads (part 1: Trump Jr emails and meetings)”