There’s Really Only One Reason Kushner/Russia Is Important

It looks fishy

If Trump’s got nothing to hide regarding his involvement with Russia, it looks fishy for his son-in-law to go to the Russian ambassador with the message “we need to set up a secret way to talk.” Why Russia, if you “don’t know Putin, have no deals in Russia”? Didn’t seem to do it with China, with Britain, with Japan…so it wasn’t a pattern. And did Jared Kushner think U.S. intelligence (who constantly monitor the Russians) wouldn’t notice this type of conversation, or wouldn’t care? Or was it viewed as a necessary risk? It looks fishy.

It took us a while to get our heads around this: when the first reports came out that Kushner tried to set up back channel communications with Russia, we more-or-less agreed with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster who argued that back channels are a common and important option for discreet communication with various countries. (As we’ve previously pointed out, that’s one reason why some Secretaries of State, for instance, Colin Powell, used private email servers.) And while it is unusual (and possibly illegal) to make that type of contact prior to inauguration, you didn’t really expect Trump to worry about undermining the Obama administration’s final days, did you? Then the story became about Kushner meeting a Russian banker, and we thought, why not? It’s not that these aren’t important aspects of a fast-moving story, just that the story appeared to be without a center. Until we realized what that is: it looks fishy.

In researching this, we came across this broad look at the entirety of the Trump/Russia scandal, and where to draw lines between what’s really important and what might not be. And why it’s important to draw these lines. It’s a lengthy story (but well worth a read.)

This Trump Tweet Made Us Really Mad

We were burning! At this crucial point in history, that’s what we are supposed to measure things by: whether the Russians are laughing at us? Who cares if Russians are laughing at us?

Then we realized, maybe Trump wants us to boil. Maybe he’s playing us. More than maybe, he loves this. Maybe, as The Washington Post suggests, he uses our fury over momentary slights to sneak things through with lasting negatives.

So while we make it a point not to tell you what you think, we will tell you our thinking has changed, and this may well be reflected in our perspective going forward:

We won’t lose focus, but we may need to broaden our focus. We won’t lose our outrage every time Trump tweets something outrageous.  Words do matter. We will acknowledge the President is very good at this highly specific skill, and how he relishes it, both for instantly rallying his base and antagonizing his critics. Then, we will look past that, at a broader horizon.

And then, there was this, this morning. Which underscores the absurdity of it all.

Here’s a (somewhat) serious analysis of this Tweet.

Here’s Some Exciting News: U.S. Might Be Somewhat Protected From North Korea ICBM

The Pentagon says it successfully shot down an ICBM using its own interceptor missile, the 2nd successful test in a row (although the 3 tests before that failed.) The latest test was seen as crucial as North Korea appears closer to gaining the ability to hit the U.S. mainland, and no signs the conflict with Kim Jong-un is abating.

We Handicap Trump’s Pick For FBI Director

We correctly predicted Trump would choose Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, based on the fact that he appeared most “judge-ly” to us, and Trump likes to choose based on looks. For that reason, we’d say the leading contender for the job is former Deputy FBI Director John Pistole, who also served as director of the TSA. Just look at this photo from the Associated Press:

He’s also got a cool name.

Trump’s also considering Chris Wray, who was a high-level Justice Department official in the George W. Bush Administration.


Another Special Election To Watch On June 20th

The Washington Post reports the South Carolina congressional district vacated by Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is now in play, with Democratic challenger Archie Parnell closing the gap (to what still sounds to us like a pretty large) 10 points. But it had recently been 16 points. Parnell’s campaign is using the improvement to appeal to national Democrats to come in with funds. (You can be sure Republicans will, now that the Post has thrust the race into the national spotlight.) Parnell also needs a large number of Republicans to not vote.

That special election will occur on the same day as the much more closely watched contest in Georgia to fill now-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s seat.

Now Hang On There A Sec, Mr. President!

You just told us in multiple bilious Tweets not to believe stories attributed to unnamed sources, that they’re fake news. Then you go and retweet a story that is based on…an anonymous source.






You’re telling us we should believe the Fox News piece which makes us slightly nauseous to link to (but we did), which is attributed to a single source broadly described as “familiar with the matter”? And is written by a Fox reporter whose identity is also anonymous?  You use this as a shining example of “not-fake” news just because it says what you want it to say? (But only kind of: because you also confirmed all the other facts of the story, which as far as we know, you hadn’t previously.)

You are willing to accept that this anonymous reporter also doesn’t give us any hints about where the source works, where they got the information, or whether this is a first or second hand account or just something random someone random may have heard somewhere random?  (Take a look at yesterday’s The Chaos Report for a discussion of how to make the most of hints good reporters give you about their sources.) Oh! Right, sir. If it’s on “Fox & Friends” it must be true. We forgot.

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