It’s Not About “Collusion” Right Now. It’s About Evidence The Russian Military Attacked The U.S….Yet Trump Can’t Seem To Get There…
This morning we woke to a sobering thought: what if Trump gets away with it? What if his base laps it up because it’s driving the people crazy who they like to see driven crazy like never before? What if his party comes to see it as the ultimate test of loyalty? What if the unnamed advisers and members of his own staff, the “everyone around Trump” whom the Washington Post assures us did not approve of what the President did or said never come out and say that publicly? Anyway, we’re not totally buying that, because we don’t believe the President himself wrote the platitude he’s hiding behind on Twitter this morning (which was also part of his prepared statement after the Putin meeting): “I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.” (And it comes with a photo showing he’s taller than Putin). And if people in his own party and his own people don’t step up finally now, what’s going to stop him from wreaking whatever future havoc he wants with virtually zero fear of censure or repercussions?
In the news conference following the meeting between the American President and the Russian leader, Trump drags out a familiar refrain: both sides are responsible. (Except he immediately explains that doesn’t include him.) Here’s that clip:
Trump’s statements are chock-a-block with outlandish stuff, including a large section where he appears to choose to believe a conspiracy theory over his own Director of Intelligence Dan Coats. So it took us a few times watching the entire thing through to realize there is one common theme to which the President keeps returning. And that’s the issue of “collusion”. Specifically, how there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
We’ll show you. Let’s take out just the “heart” of that same clip above: and go right to the point at which Trump lands on something, and before he starts off rambling again. And you end up with this:
For those of you who don’t have time to watch the video, what he says is:
“There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re going to have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign. It was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And frankly we beat her, and I’m not even saying from the standpoint… We won that race. And it’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that. People understand it. But the main thing, and we discussed this also: zero collusion.”
And here’s a clip of Trump’s answer to the very next question asked. Hint: it’s all about how there was no collusion. And BTW, this was a question posed to Putin; Trump answered it anyway:
The abridged version:
“Just to say it one time again, and I say it all the time: there was no collusion….We ran a brilliant campaign and that’s why I’m President.”
So what explains Trump’s obsession with “collusion”?
We can think of one thing that might, other than Trump being in Putin’s pocket for whatever reason.
Trump appears to believe that as long as there’s no proof of collusion, he’s not responsible for anything related to any bad deeds Russia might or might not have done, and all discredit falls on President Obama, Hillary Clinton, the D.N.C., the F.B.I., the Justice Department, and those who have chosen to pursue the “ridiculous” investigation.
Additionally, he seems to think the whole “disaster” as he calls the Russia probe, is really about whether he won the election on his own or not. Trump never abides sharing credit with anyone. As if pointing a finger at Russia for attacking the U.S. is tantamount to admitting he alone was not the engine of his own triumph.
Conversely, anyone alleging a Russian incursion into the electoral process could only possibly be interested in taking credit away from Trump, not in being a Patriot and defending Democracy.
Speaking of which, response from Washington was loud in only just a few places:
Democrats of course damned the President’s words and actions. But even some Trump boosters and apologists couldn’t muster their typical full-throated defense, and instead quickly maneuvered to throw the President a lifeline. Notably, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who Tweeted:
Folks whom Trump has designated as enemies, such as former C.I.A. Chief John Brennan, were particularly venomous in their condemnation. (And we believe justifiably so, or we wouldn’t be sharing it with you).
So too Republican Senator John McCain who issued a lengthy statement saying in part:
“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”
And his fellow Arizona Senator Jeff Flake who Tweeted:
But all of them are already outspoken Trump critics.
Those who are still uncertain about how all this is going to play with Trump’s base are being a lot more cagey. For instance, Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton issued a reasonably strong revocation of a lot of what Trump did and said. Cotton begins by asserting: “Vladimir Putin is a committed adversary of the United States.” And he tags Russia for campaign “meddling” right off the bat. Except… Cotton leaves one very important word out of his page-long screed. A name, actually. Starting with “T” and ending with “rump”.
There is an incredibly easy next step Congress can take!
There is a bill already on the table; already passed by the Judiciary Committee, that can be voted on by the full Senate almost immediately. It would protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from an attempt by Trump to fire him.
Back in April it was approved by the Committee 14-7, meaning 4 Republicans supported moving it to the Senate floor.
That doesn’t mean it would’ve passed the full Senate: the Committee Chair, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley said he voted in favor in Committee because he felt it deserved a full Senate vote, not because he was going to ultimately back it. And anyway Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring it to the floor for a vote because he felt the bill was “not necessary”. And anyway the House probably wouldn’t have passed it even if the Senate did. And anyway the President probably wouldn’t sign it, and it’d never get a veto-proof majority.
But now…? (Actually, right now there’s zero indication Republicans want to get this ball rolling again.)
But how about it? How about maybe that as a start for Republicans to prove they’re still actually Patriots deep down and not toadies?