Sorry if the preceding post was a bit muddled, despite being rewritten several times. It's hard to discuss such a large story while fact-shards keep hitting you over the course of several hours. I prefer bombshells that give you a single satisfying BOOM and then leave you alone for the rest of the day.
Here are a few "day after" observations.
Dubya's ethics lawyer, Richard Painter
-- a man who presumably knows where the line is and how to tiptoe along the edge -- says:
“We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.”
He added, “This is unacceptable. This borders on treason, if it is not itself treason, depending on whether The New York Times story is true.”
we're well into treason territory. Let's drop the reference to "borders." Trump's critics should adopt the ballsy language that comes naturally to Trump's defenders.
That said: The Constitution tells us that a charge of treason -- a death penalty offense -- requires the testimony of two witnesses. Who, in this instance, would be those witnesses? Does an audio recording count as a "witness"?
I mention recordings because Louise Mensch
has said that yesterday's revelation proves her contention that damning audio recordings
of Donald Trump were made by "the French."
Donald Trump Jr was directly taped by the French before the election, colluding treacherously with the Russians. As with all NATO allies who are not part of the Five Eyes agreement, there is no legal reason why they cannot directly tape Americans abroad.
Mensch's claims have been so varied and numerous one would expect the occasional hit. That said, we can't really count the above-quoted paragraph as an accurate forecast, since nothing in it predicts the current story. If France possesses such evidence, why would Macron sit on it? (We have pretty good reason to suspect
that Mensch has been spewing BS -- or "deza," as she likes to call it -- all along.)
Who screwed Junior? Josh Marshall
is one of the first writers to publicize a problem that has bugged a lot of people from the start of this business...
What I suspect is the most important detail in this story is the sources. The Times reports that they got the information from “three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.” They apparently talked after the release of the first story. This is highly, highly significant. Needless to say, advisors to the White House are not in the business of taking highly damaging stories and volunteering new information which makes them catastrophically damaging. The only reason a President’s allies ever do something like that is either to get ahead of something much more damaging or get a first crack at shaping the public understanding of something much more damaging. There’s really no other explanation. We don’t know yet what drove them to volunteer such highly damaging information. Five of them did it. It wasn’t a matter of one person going rogue.
So who screwed him over? I have a couple of theories about that.
Maybe Junior and his pals screwed themselves
over. Maybe the people in that room on that date are the ones who spoke with the NYT.
My initial presumption was that Junior's statement was meant to prepare the way for a forthcoming smear directed against Hillary Clinton. (For months now, I've been expecting to see a false document which "proves" that Hillary is Putin's plaything.) The Trumpers never stopped running against Hillary; they will always need a Satan, however ersatz. The people who came up with this gambit may not have understood that Junior's statement, even if taken at face value, still
reeked of treason.
I compare the Trump family to coke heads whose addiction has made them nutty enough to start doing lines in public. In this case, the addicts have become so hooked on underhanded behavior that they can't comprehend how normal people do things. Junior may be genuinely surprised by the public reaction to the statement he made yesterday: 'They think I did something wrong?'
The mastermind behind that five-person "coup" was Steve Bannon, whose surge back into power is documented in this remarkable article
Meanwhile, rumors spread that Kushner was trying to force Bannon out, a claim longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone amplified on Alex Jones’s radio show. Bannon griped to a White House colleague that Kushner was trying to “shiv him and push him out the door,” according to the Daily Beast.
Without making any direct accusations, this article offers hints that "Bannon's revenge" is the reason why we know that Kushner lied on his security application. Perhaps Jared, not Junior, was the true target of this latest revelation. Or perhaps Bannon, who considers Kushner a "cuck," has a similar opinion of DJT Jr. It is fair to posit that both Jared and Junior pose obstacles to Bannon's supremacy.
Bannon heads up the war room handling the response to the Russia investigation, and I am quite sure that his team his established contacts with mainstream journalists. Outside the mainstream world, Matt Drudge is an old Bannon friend -- and Drudge surprised many when his headlines publicized Donald Trump Jr.'s statement. (Right now, Drudge wants his readers to believe that Junior is the victim of a dirty trick.)
I'm hardly the first to suggest that Bannon has been leaking material harmful to Kushner. See here
Scarborough said that he had sources tell him that Bannon was "bragging to journalists" that he would win the war of attrition with Kushner through leaks about Russia.
"Two days after I heard this — two days! — front page New York Times story about the links between Kushner and Russia," Scarborough said. "A coincidence? Absolutely not."
Scarborough added, "Steve Bannon has been leaking — I believe, based on everything I've heard — has been leaking these stories. People very close to Steve Bannon were telling me before these stories were leaked that he was going to be leaking these stories."
Of the latest bombshell, Mark Halperin
said the following:
"[Trump Jr.] was forced to change his story by seemingly what The New York Times was able to learn," Halperin said on "Morning Joe" on Monday. "Whoever is helping The New York Times with these stories seems to be doing it in a way like maximum damage on at least Donald Trump Jr."
"Even if you accept his Sunday version. Accept his Sunday version, ask no questions, have no suspicions, he is in a world of hurt," Halperin concluded.
Is Bannon sufficiently skilled in political judo to force Der Donald to turn against his own family? Bannon may believe
so. And that belief may take down this rotten administration. (Some liberals have suggested that the NYT relied on information from Michael Flynn. No: Flynn is not a White House source, and he is not five people. The Bannon theory seems much likelier.)
Today, Donald Trump tweeted
If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother,as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!
No, they wouldn't. Trump is telling fake stories about mainstream news, which is flawed but not "fake" in the way that Trump himself is fake. Chelsea's response was sublime
Good morning Mr. President. It would never have occurred to my mother or my father to ask me. Were you giving our country away? Hoping not.
Here's another nutball tweet
from our unhinged leader:
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!
classified information? And when did he leak it? The memo Comey showed to his law professor friend concerned that meeting with Trump -- a non-classified meeting which makes Trump look bad. If any other
memos had classified material, as claimed here
, those documents were not leaked.
If Comey really had committed a crime, Trump's Justice Department would have already charged him. I see no indictments; I see tweets and memes and lying propaganda. Trump must be made to understand: He can't talk like an anti-government conspiracy theorist when he is