• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Reports About Contact Between Trump Campaign And Russian Officials Continue To Mount

Trump Russia

Yesterday’s revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact with the Russian Ambassador to the United States that he did not reveal in his testimony during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which led Sessions to announce late in the afternoon that he would be recusing himself from the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election, appears to be only the beginning of new revelations regarding contact between the Trump campaign and Russia. This morning, for example, The New York Times reports that both Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s foreign policy adviser during the campaign and first National Security Adviser before being required to resign amid revelations about contacts with the Russian Ambassador that he failed to report to the transition team, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and husband of Ivanka Trump, met with the Russian Ambassador in December:

WASHINGTON — Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday.

Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. But among Mr. Trump’s inner circle, it is Mr. Flynn who appears to have been the main interlocutor with the Russian envoy — the two were in contact during the campaign and the transition, Mr. Kislyak and current and former American officials have said.

But the extent and frequency of their contacts remains unclear, and the disclosure of the meeting at Trump Tower adds to the emerging picture of how the relationship between Mr. Trump’s incoming team and Moscow was evolving to include some of the president-elect’s most trusted advisers.

The White House has repeatedly sought to play down any connections with Mr. Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged this week that he had met twice with him during the campaign, despite previous denials.

The New Yorker reported this week that Mr. Kushner had met with Mr. Kislyak at Trump Tower in December. Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, confirmed on Thursday that Mr. Flynn was also at the meeting in response to questions from a New York Times reporter.

It is common and not improper for transition officials to meet with foreign officials. But all meetings between Trump associates and Russians are now significant as the F.B.I. investigates Russian interference in the American election and whether anyone close to Mr. Trump’s campaign was involved.

The meeting in December came at a crucial time, just as the Obama White House was preparing to sanction Russia and publicly make its case that Moscow had interfered with the 2016 election.

What is now becoming clear is that the incoming Trump administration was simultaneously striking a conciliatory pose toward Moscow in a series of meetings and phone calls involving Mr. Kislyak.

“They generally discussed the relationship and it made sense to establish a line of communication,” Ms. Hicks said. “Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives — as many as two dozen other foreign countries’ leaders and representatives.”

The Trump Tower meeting lasted 20 minutes, and Mr. Kushner has not met since with Mr. Kislyak, Ms. Hicks said.

When first asked in January about Mr. Flynn’s contacts with Mr. Kislyak, the White House said that there had been only a text message and phone call between the men at the end of December, and that both came before the United States imposed sanctions. That was quickly contradicted by news reports.

Mr. Flynn’s story then began changing, and the White House eventually acknowledged the two men had discussed the sanctions and how the two countries could move past the acrimony once Mr. Trump was in office.

American officials have also said that there were multiple telephone calls between Mr. Flynn and Mr. Kislyak on Dec. 29, beginning shortly after Mr. Kislyak was summoned to the State Department and informed that, in retaliation for Russian election meddling, the United States was expelling 35 people suspected of being Russian intelligence operatives and imposing other sanctions.

Mr. Kislyak was irate and threatened a forceful Russian response, according to people familiar with the exchange. He then left the State Department and called Mr. Flynn, the first in a series of calls between the two in the 36 hours that followed.

American intelligence agencies routinely wiretap the phones of Russian diplomats, and transcripts of the calls showed that Mr. Flynn urged the Russians not to respond, saying relations would improve once Mr. Trump was in office, according to the current and former officials.

Mr. Flynn’s failure to fully disclose the nature of the calls with Mr. Kislyak ultimately cost him his job last month after a tumultuous 25 days as national security adviser.

The United States government has concluded that Russia intended, at least in part, to help elect Mr. Trump through a campaign of cyberattacks, propaganda and misinformation. The government has concluded that Russian operatives were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and John D. Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Additionally, NBC News is reporting that former Trump campaign official Carter Page also met with Ambassador Kislyak:

Carter Page, an adviser once linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, confirmed to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Thursday that he met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. at last year’s Republican convention.

USA Today reported Thursday that Page met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a diplomacy conference at the Republican National Convention last year, a meeting that involved other ambassadors and which was described as not unusual.

“I’m not going to deny that I talked with him,” Page, who was once named by Trump as part of his foreign policy committee during the campaign, said on “All In With Chris Hayes.”

“I will say that I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland, let’s just say that much,” Page said.

He declined to say what the discussions were about, citing confidentiality agreements and agreements to event organizers. “I’m respectful to confidentiality rules, whether it’s in government or outside of it,” he said

The questions about Russia come amid scrutiny over contacts with people linked to Trump’s administration or campaign and officials in Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russia was involved in an operation to interfere in last year’s election.

Another adviser named in the USA Today report, J.D. Gordon, told the newspaper the meeting in Cleveland with Kislyak was not unusual. “I’d consider it an informal conversation just like my interactions with dozens of other ambassadors and senior diplomats in Cleveland,” Gordon said.

Page was among several Trump associates named in a New York Times report in January that said law enforcement and intelligence investigators were looking into any possible links between Russian officials and Trump associates.

As noted, it’s not unusual for there to be contact between members of an incoming Administration and foreign officials during the transition period between Election Day in November and Inauguration Day in January. In fact, it’s often the case that the President-Elect will spend a considerable amount of time talking to Presidents and Prime Ministers of allied and other nations during that period as part of the process from transitioning from one Administration to the next. Donald Trump did this starting virtually the day after the election, and so did Barack Obama before him, George W. Bush before him, and pretty much every President in the modern era. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for senior staffers to have some initial contacts with the representatives of foreign governments in the United States, especially those staffers and advisers who will be handling foreign policy matters for the new Administration. In that context, there’s not anything necessarily unusual about this meeting between Kushner, Flynn, and Kislyak.

In addition to these reports of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials before and after Election Day, there are also numerous reports about business interests that members of the Trump Administration and Russia. The most prominent, of course, is Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State who previously served as Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil who had extensive contacts with Russian oil and gas interests, Russian government officials, and Vladimir Putin, from whom he received the Russian Order Of Friendship due to his company’s extensive business dealings with the Russian Federation. In addition to Tillerson, Paul Manafort, who previously served as Trump’s campaign manager before being sidelined by the combined forces of Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon, had extensive dealings with both Russia and Ukraine during the time that Ukraine was ruled by a pro-Russian ruler. Indeed, a little-reported story in Politico last week claimed that Manafort may have been subject to a blackmail attempt over his contacts with Russian officials based on information contained in hacked emails and text messages. Now, in a report released earlier this week, The Guardian is reporting on links between Russian banking interests and Wilbur Ross, the newly confirmed Secretary Commerce:

The White House has been accused of withholding information from Congress about whether Donald Trump or any of his campaign affiliates have ever received loans from a bank in Cyprus that is partly owned by a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

A group of Democratic senators have been waiting for two weeks for Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who has served as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus since 2014, to answer a series of questions about possible links between the bank, Russian officials, and current and former Trump administration and campaign officials. Ross also received a second letter on Friday from Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey with more detailed questions about possible Russia links.

But in a speech on Monday night, just before the Senate voted to approve Ross’s nomination as secretary of the commerce department, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said the White House “has chosen to sit on” a written response by Ross to some of those questions even though Ross told the senator he was eager to release his response.

Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate commerce committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor that other senators were “troubled and frustrated” by the White House move. Nelson said it had been “verbally reiterated” to him by Ross that the commerce department nominee was not aware of any “loans or interactions” between the Bank of Cyprus and the Trump campaign or Trump Organization.

Ross, a private equity investor who has said he would step down from the bank after his final confirmation, had also been asked to provide more details about his own relationship with previous and current Russian investors in the bank, including Viktor Vekselberg, a longtime ally of the Russian president, and Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, the former vice-chairman of Bank of Cyprus who is also a former KGB agent with a close relationship to Putin

Ross also told Nelson that he had one meeting that lasted about an hour with a Russian investor in the bank in 2014, but no other details were provided.

“I believe him in what he has told me, that it is true to his belief,” Nelson said in a speech on the Senate floor. “I want to say, at the same time, the White House and the way they have handled this matter is not doing Wilbur Ross any favors.”

An attorney for Ross said he was not handling the matter and referred questions about the issue to the commerce department, which declined to respond .

The senators’ scrutiny of Ross’s ties to Bank of Cyprus comes as the Trump administration faces several investigations, including by the FBI, into possible links between Trump campaign officials and Russia.

Ross’s 2014 investment in the Bank of Cyprus has received little public attention amid the broader concerns in Washington over the Trump administration’s potential ties to Russia.

During a nearly four-hour confirmation hearing in January before the Senate commerce committee, Ross was not asked any questions about his involvement in a €400m ($424m) investment in the bank in 2014, which gave Ross’s investment group an 18% stake in the bank.

Ross recruited a high-profile banker with close ties to Russia, former Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann, to serve as chairman of the bank. In a 2015 interview with the New York Times, Ackermann suggested his work for the Bank of Cyprus was an effort to “give something back to the people”.

Again, taken on its own this report about Ross could be entirely innocent, and in usual times that’s likely how they would be viewed. These are not, however, usual times. Viewed in the context of the allegations that have been made regarding Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the Presidential election, which have been verified by numerous reports from the U.S. intelligence community, as well as the other reports of contact between employees of and surrogates for the Trump campaign having contact with Russian officials and/or business interests tied to Russia, these reports raise eyebrows at least and should properly be investigated by both Congress and a Justice Department investigation that is wholly independent of political influence.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    RussiaGate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Just a reminder: not even two weeks ago Trump told the nation that there had not been any other contacts between his campaign officials and the Russians, other than Flynn. And a half dozen weeks before that he had told the nation via Mike Pence that there were no contacts at all. So, here are the possibilities:

    1) Trump is lying as an active part of a coverup
    2) Trump is so delusional that he no longer understands what is real
    3) Trump is unaware that at least four members of his campaign staff have had secret meetings with the Russians and they let him falsely assert that it didn’t happen

    Seriously, is there any other possibility?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It’s quite clearly #1: Trump is lying. He’s lying because he’s guilty. The GOP is covering up for him because they know he’s guilty. But the GOP cares about nothing but their own power. The GOP is willing to help Russia subvert democracy.

    Paul Ryan is a traitor. Mitch McConnell is a traitor.

    This is the worst thing I’ve seen in American politics in my lifetime. This is a Vichy government. The Trump presidency is illegitimate.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 2

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: I think #1 is the most likely. But I also think that it is quite likely that his associate were also setting up side deals that he might not have known about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  5. Modulo Myself says:

    @MarkedMan:

    #1, regardless of #2 or #3.

    Trump knows that a quid pro quo of some sort went down in return for info on what Wikileaks was going to release. It may not have been his doing, but the Russians are his bank, and now he’s compromised.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  6. MarkedMan says:

    Signs of the rats fleeing the ship?

    In a significant reversal, a Trump campaign official on Thursday told CNN that he personally advocated for softening the language on Ukraine in the GOP platform at the Republican National Convention, and that he did so on behalf of the President.

    CNN’s Jim Acosta reported on air that J.D. Gordon, the Trump campaign’s national security policy representative at the RNC, told him that he made the change to include language that he claimed “Donald Trump himself wanted and advocated for” at a March 2016 meeting at then-unfinished Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    So suddenly Acosta feels the need to get the truth out there? And that Trump himself was personally involved?

    Which brings it back to the one thing I think has any chance of giving a (very, very) few Republicans some spine: Why was removing condemnation of Russia the only piece of the Republican platform that Trump cared about? What did he get in return? Because it seems like they were willing to do hacking for free, so there must have been some other reward for Trump personally intervening on this. And how ever much you might be willing to go along with his use of the Russians to perform dirty tricks on the Clinton campaign, if you have any patriotism, any respect for the country and our values, the fact that Trump may have sold out our allies to an enemy for monetary gain has to stick in your craw. And maybe, just maybe, they might start demanding a real investigation.

    … Nah. The Republican Party is dead to patriotism. Anyone of them that would have put country over party has been primaried out of office by the Koch brothers years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  7. Moosebreath says:

    I found Josh Marshall’s take on this interesting. He is trying to find an explanation which fits the facts and which does not presuppose Trump is a crook or a traitor or being blackmailed. His conclusion:

    “Here’s the big final point. Let’s assume some version of my narrative above is accurate. On its face its mainly about bad priorities and bad values. But anyone trying to make this chain of events happen in real life – not just Trump but his various business associates, hangers-on and supporters – would have a very difficult time not committing a large number of bad acts in the process. Maybe very bad acts. It may not be inherent in the storyline. But it’s just the way that world works, especially when you have a principal who has a vast ability to justify what satisfies his self-interest, his desires, his need to dominate and be right. As we’ve already seen, even the fairly innocent stuff is hard not to lie about. Eventually that will get someone in trouble. There’s too much dirty money, too many things that may be narrowly legal but need to be lied about, too many scams and bad actors.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  8. SenyorDave says:

    @MarkedMan: Jared Kushner met with Russian officials in Trump Tower in an undisclosed meeting. I guess its slightly possible that Trump was blissfully ignorant of all these meetings, but given his overall level of dishonesty, I think the safe explanation is that he knows all of this, and is either being blackmailed or profiting from this, or both. Either way, might be time to start using the “tr” words, treason and/or traitor.

    BTW, Paul Ryan is coming up real big on this. Was he in a Trump property getting one of those special showers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    taken on its own

    And that’s the problem.
    Is it even possible to imagine a scenario where all these myriad things happen and they are not in some way connected? That event after event after event are just coincidence?
    Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a trend. Three times happened months ago. WTF is a dozen times?
    When you consider that almost every instance in this litany has been the subject of lies by the Trump administration it makes you wonder; if it’s all innocent, if it’s all on the up-and-up, why all the lies?
    Now this is breaking:

    In a significant reversal, a Trump campaign official on Thursday told CNN that he personally advocated for softening the language on Ukraine in the GOP platform at the Republican National Convention, and that he did so on behalf of the President.

    It. Just. Doesn’t. Stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  10. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Is it possible for #1 and #2 to be true simultaneously? Trump lies as easily as he breathes, but I also think that he dwells within his own reality and not much impinges on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  11. al-Alameda says:

    Thank you Doug, excellent piece.

    Under “normal” circumstances there would be an independent investigation into these Russian connections and influence brokering. Right now we can only speculate as to where this is going, where it will take us. So many questions are out there.

    Did Trump and or his associates have knowledge of Russian efforts to tamper with our 2016 election? Did Trump have knowledge of Russian efforts to hack the DNC and leak such information. Apart from the serious election issues, we need to know if Trump or his associates have been directly involved in activities involving financial influence peddling.

    Finally, and I’m flogging this horse to death but, Trump’s tax returns and related financial affairs need to be disclosed post haste. I believe that there is a reasonable possibility that Trump has significant Russian business and financial ties that potentially could compromise official federal government policies toward Russia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  12. Gustopher says:

    Who, in Trump’s inner circle, hasn’t met with the Russians?

    And, where has Trump found all these weird little Russian toadies like Manafort, Carter Page, Tillerson, Flynn, etc.? Someone is feeding him names, as it would be hard for him to find them all by chance.

    Is it Barron? Is Barron the secret puppet master, staying in his NYC schools to hide his role? Is he really a 10 year old boy, or is he actually a 45 year old Russian midget spy who has to shave 8 times a day and watch what he eats so he looks like a normal skinny kid?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  13. Franklin says:

    Here before the defenders come in to:
    1) deflect and recall some random time that some Democrat spoke with some Russian once, or
    2) elaborately explain how nobody *technically* lied, or
    3) complain that the media made this all up, or
    4) how Putin’s spew tastes so good such a good leader. Way better than Obama, anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  14. MikeSJ says:

    @al-Alameda:

    Finally, and I’m flogging this horse to death but, Trump’s tax returns and related financial affairs need to be disclosed post haste. I believe that there is a reasonable possibility that Trump has significant Russian business and financial ties that potentially could compromise official federal government policies toward Russia.

    My guess is Trump is deeply in debt to various Russian “business men” and can’t afford to rock the boat. This would explain all his penny ante grifting e.g. Trump U and Trump Steaks.

    They could, at best, show he’s no where near as rich as he pretends or, at worst, bankrupt him.

    If this is in fact true Putin has Trump’s balls in a Mason jar in the cellar of the Kremlin and Trump knows it. It would explain an awful lot of Trump’s behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  15. Eric Florack says:

    Slow down folks. Let’s face it. What we have here is sessions recusing himself from a non-existent investigation into a nonexistent crisis.

    And I’m not even a trump supporter. Never have been.

    What about you lost the election do you not understand?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 24

  16. Moosebreath says:

    @Eric Florack:

    “What about you lost the election do you not understand?”

    So, you’re saying that winning an election immunizes you from investigations about your actions prior to taking office. I am sure you said that during Bill Clinton’s administration about Whitewater, right?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  17. MarkedMan says:

    The Republicans, at this point, are going to block any investigation. Comey at the FBI may be coopted already, but if he’s not, it’s conceivable the FBI could arrest someone and ask the JD to charge. With Sessions in charge, will that happen? And even if it does, will Trump pardon that person? And then what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Franklin: Nice try Franklin, but as Florack proved, you left off the most common refrain of all these days: “You all are just whining because Trump won and Hillary lost–ha ha!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  19. Jake says:
  20. David M says:

    Meeting with the Russian ambassador or diplomats isn’t a crime, or in most cases even newsworthy. So why all the denials from the Trump camp? (About meetings or conversations that occurred during an election where the Russians were committing crimes to help Trump.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Jake: So Jake, on one hand we have a New York Senator that makes a public appearance with Putin in, well, New York, and who calls in the press for a photo opportunity and, like most politicians, drones on about how this investment will help NY.

    And on the other hand we have Donald Trump’s senior most aides (and, I suspect it will eventually come out, the Donald himself) sneaking around meeting Russians ranging from the politically well connected to the shady Russian mafia types and then denying it. They, including Trump himself, lie, get caught lying, concede exactly what they got caught with and not a single thing more and then assert that this time they have told us everything and the story is completely out at last and it was all innocent. Then they proceed to get caught in that lie and they repeat the process. We are on the third (fourth?) iteration of this.

    And just to be clear, to a Republican like yourself, these two things are morally equivalent? And equally non-suspicious?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  22. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Jake:
    At least this time Jake linked to who is giving him his thoughts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  23. Jake says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Hate is all you have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  24. David M says:

    Jake’s comments still don’t make any sense, but him linking to the stupidest man on the internet does seem appropriate.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  25. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Jake:

    Whataboutism is all you have.

    Not even defending Trump, Flynn, or Sessions anymore I see.

    Better Red than dead, right Jake?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Jake:

    Hate is all you have.

    What does that even mean?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  27. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Jake:
    @David M:
    @MarkedMan:
    I don’t know about you…but it seems to me that Trump tweeting a picture he took from an alt-right conspiracy theorist website is the sign of a pretty desperate loser.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  28. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    What does that even mean?

    He’ll have to check out some alt-right conspiracy websites to see what they think and get back to you on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  29. MarkedMan says:

    I fully expected we would see crises like these and if, as is most likely, the Republicans are able to cover it up, I expect we will see numerous similar episodes in the coming years. And they really scare me. Because Trump is completely morally empty. He evaluates everything only in terms of whether it is beneficial for himself and no one else matters. And so, to me anyway, it is quite likely that if he really feels backed into a corner he will start a war as a distraction. I hope the generals keep his hands off the nuclear trigger, but short of that it would be all too easy to start a war with North Korea. Or china.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  30. Surreal American says:

    @Eric Florack:

    What about you lost the election do you not understand?

    What is it about “Trump can’t hide behind Hillary Clinton’s skirts anymore” that you can’t understand?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  31. al-Alameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    What about you lost the election do you not understand?

    Would you have applied that standard to President Richard Nixon? After all less than one year after one of the biggest electoral and popular vote victories and annihilation of an opponent in American history, Nixon and his administration was mired in one the most serious investigations of corruption in our history.

    Should that have been called off because, ‘what about you lost the election do you not understand’?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  32. al-Alameda says:

    @Jake:

    Chuck too

    Oh my god! I didn’t know that Schumer was trying to use the Russians to influence the result American elections by hacking the RNC servers? Or that Schumer’s private business interests and dealings have ties with Russian oligarchs and Russian financiers? Let’s have Jason Chaffetz investigate this 7 or 8 times!

    That’s damned weak stuff, even by contemporary conservative deflect-distract-and-false-equivalency standards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  33. Hal_10000 says:

    Again, we need to back off the hysterical cries of “treason!” Almost all of these meeting were routine (the RNC meeting was so clandestine, it was posted arranged by the State Department and posted on the White House FB page). Let’s focus on the issue here: failure to disclose. It’s the same thing that tripped up Nixon and Clinton: lying about something that didn’t really need to be lied about. I suspect, when the facts come out, this will turn out to be business corruption: members of the Administration using their position to advance business interests in Russia or elsewhere.

    I don’t mean to make that sound trivial: it certainly isn’t. We are long past time for a Congressional investigation or special prosecutor (assuming that or similar position still exists).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  34. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: Yes, let’s leave off the cries of “treason”. This isn’t treason; it’s slimy weasels trying to conceal their corruption. Not treason. Pure greed.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  35. S. Fields says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The GOP is willing to help Russia subvert democracy.

    That is until helping Russia threatens their power or their bank accounts.

    That’s the thing with relationships of convenience – there are no choices made due to loyalty. Ryan and McConnell will be the last rats off the ship, but they’ll jump if the revelations continue to mount and there’s no profit in it for them anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. S. Fields says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Marshall’s point 3 is quite astute:

    3: One thing I think we’ve learned about Trump over the last almost two years is that what’s helpful to Trump is good. People who are helpful to Trump are also good. In fact, they’re the best people. Things that aren’t helpful to Trump are bad. Things that threaten Trump are especially bad. Trump is highly malleable in his thinking and he doesn’t do detail. From watching him casually for decades and intensively for almost two years, it seems clear to me that, in his mind, what Donald Trump thinks is right. Not just right but the rightest. We probably all think this about our deeply ingrained beliefs. It’s almost a tautology. But for Trump I don’t think it matters whether it’s deeply ingrained or just something that seemed convenient to say for some situational purpose or provided some momentary advantage the day before. The key point is that it’s not that Donald Trump thinks the right things. Whatever he thinks or says is by definition right. What’s good for Donald Trump is not just right but obviously right. And vice versa.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Jack says:

    It’s fun to sit and watch all of these people make BOLD predictions as to what is going to happen next in the Trump presidency and then realize, these are the same people that predicted there would be no Trump presidency.

    Life is good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  38. Senyordave says:

    Who would have ever guessed:

    Trump’s team rejected training course for senior staff, cabinet and others on ethics and management

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  39. Mr. Bluster says:

    Hate is all you have…

    “She wants to destroy your Second Amendment,” he* said at a Miami rally. “I think what we should do is she goes around with armed bodyguards, like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should disarm, right? Right? Think they should disarm. Immediately, what do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Let’s see what happens to her.”

    *a. President Pud
    b. Beelzebub
    c. Nixon’s Brain

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  40. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Jack: Life would be even better if you stopped making all of these silly ass comments.

    Trump is at the very least, a crook. He is certainly hiding something. But, being a Trump supporter and proud member of the Trump Cult you will continue to ignore it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. "They Saved Nixon's Brain" says:

    In 1980, Liddy published an autobiography, titled Will, which sold more than a million copies and was made into a television movie. In it he states that he once made plans with Hunt to kill journalist Jack Anderson, based on a literal interpretation of a Nixon White House statement “we need to get rid of this Anderson guy”.
    WikiP

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. Mr. Bluster says:

    Dandy Randy will likely find where Nixon’s Brain is being stored before he gets to see any Obamacare replacement bill.

    Rand Paul still searching for Obamacare replacement bill
    “We are continuing our search for the Obamacare Lite bill!” his Twitter post said. “Do you know where the secret location might be? Has anyone seen the bill?”
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/03/politics/rand-paul-obamacare-bill-search-cnntv/

    Hint: Look under Trump’s bed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Jack says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    Trump is at the very least, a crook.

    Got evidence? No? That’s what I thought.

    It’s like McDonald’s….I’m lovin’ it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  44. Mr. Bluster says:

    Exclusive: Trump administration considering separating women, children at Mexico border
    Women and children crossing together illegally into the United States could be separated by U.S. authorities under a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to three government officials.
    http://www.reuters.com/

    I don’t know where Nixon’s Brain is but you will find Satan at the Department of Homeland Security.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. Barry says:

    @Hal_10000: “Let’s focus on the issue here: failure to disclose. It’s the same thing that tripped up Nixon and Clinton: lying about something that didn’t really need to be lied about. I suspect, when the facts come out, this will turn out to be business corruption: members of the Administration using their position to advance business interests in Russia or elsewhere.”

    So far we’ve got intelligence officials and a senator/prosecutor/lawyer who seem to be lying when those could hurt them. The obvious question is why? The only reasonable answer is because they are involved in something far worse (and, of course, because they foolishly assumed that Trump would protect them).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. the Q says:

    I think the silent coup has started. Pentagon Generals and intel agents are almost all GOPers, yet almost to the man they loathe Trump. I know some of them. They hated Hillary too, so they just didn’t vote.

    Yet now that Trump is actually the President, they see the danger. I mean, who is leaking transcripts of taped conversations? It ain’t Bob Woodward. Its the intel people who want this idiot out of there without having to do a Dealey Plaza.

    Its frightening in its own way, but its like the OJ trial…they framed the guilty guy.

    Trump should be impeached, but legally. I hope the leakers get him, but I don’t necessarily approve of the method.

    Does trump last the year?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  47. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Jack: Do I have evidence? Well, since he was elected he has had to pay $36 million in damages for ripping people off. And that is just a few months. A lifetime of conning people, stiffing people and leaving people in the lurch. And they say crime doesn’t pay! Obviously it has paid well for the Trumpster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  48. Pch101 says:

    @Jack:

    It’s like McDonald’s….I’m lovin’ it.

    This remark has earned a place in the Dunning-Kruger Hall of Shame.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  49. Jack says:

    @Terrye Cravens: So, no evidence. That’s what I thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  50. Jack says:

    @Pch101: Say what you will, but I’m loving every day you liberals whine, and cry, and bitch, and moan, protest, and cry out…resulting in simply more, and more, and more people seeing exactly what liberals and democrats actually are. Snowflakes.

    I’m loving it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  51. Jack says:

    @Pch101:

    Dunning-Kruger Exploitation
    /philosophy : pseudo-science : fascism/ : the manipulation of unconsciously incompetent persons or laypersons into believing that a source of authority expresses certain opinions, when in fact the persons can neither understand the principles underpinning the opinions, nor critically address the recitation of authority imposed upon them.

    This includes the circumstance where those incompetent persons are then included in the ‘approved’ club solely because of their adherence to proper and rational approved ideas.

    Dunning-Kruger Projection (aka Plaiting)
    /philosophy : misconception : bias/ : the condition in which an expert in one discipline over-confidently fails to realize that they are not competent to speak in another discipline, instead relying upon their status in their home discipline or as a scientist, to underpin their authority or self-deception regarding an array of subjects inside of which they know very little.

    Sounds a lot like you, douchebag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  52. Erik says:

    @Jack: I keep seeing this type of comment. Are you saying having been wrong in the past means you always will be wrong in the future?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. michael reynolds says:

    @Hal_10000: @grumpy realist:

    With respect, you are wrong.

    All of this forms part of an effort to subvert the US presidential election. There is nothing routine, here.

    The natural tendency of liberals is to mollify, to ameliorate, to appear reasonable. This leaves you unprepared to confront the extraordinary, the unthinkable. But the unthinkable has occurred. The US election was manipulated by a foreign power with the support of Trump, Pence and now, after the fact, the wider GOP.

    That may not be the legal definition of treason, but treason is not solely a legal term, and we are not necessarily confined to that narrow definition. They have betrayed this country to a hostile foreign power which now quite clearly has extraordinary leverage over our government.

    That’s treason by any practical definition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  54. Tony W says:

    I recently read somewhere that Trump’s philosophy boils down to a pretty simple statement: There is no right or wrong, just winners and losers.

    That philosophy explains why he’d just lie and have no shame or remorse. It explains why he is corrupt and doesn’t care. It also explains why the United States is doomed if we don’t get this madman out of power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  55. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    What does that even mean?

    It means you provided facts and supportable assertions for which he has no spoon-fed comeback and therefore has defaulted to attacking you personally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  56. CSK says:

    Trump went on a Twitter rampage this morning saying that he has just learned that Obama had the Trump Tower wire-tapped prior to the election.

    I’m serious. Between this and his claims that he fired Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’s going absolutely bananas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  57. Pch101 says:

    @Jack:

    With a response like that, you may as well just wear a dunce cap and hang a “kick me” sign around your neck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  58. Jack says:

    @Pch101:

    Call me all the names you want.

    Meanwhile your side keeps on losing.

    Da, da, da, da, da…I’m Loving It!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  59. Kev says:

    Woman’s “Top 10 Reasons I Am No Longer A Leftist”

    http://thefederalistpapers.org/us/womans-top-10-reasons-i-am-no-longer-a-leftist-goes-viral

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  60. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @the Q:

    Its frightening in its own way, but its like the OJ trial…they framed the guilty guy.

    And we all know how well that worked out…
    “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  61. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Kev: All of that thinking and soul searching and she comes to the conclusion that the solution is to vote for Trump? Un. Flocking. Believable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  62. Kev says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Confirmation bias

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  63. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    Meanwhile your side keeps on losing.

    “My side” is America. And, for once, you’re right. Thanks to people like you, America keeps on losing. Which, apparently, is what you love.

    #Sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  64. Jake says: