By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/3/170
Dear Fellow Readers,
We have reached a more mature point in the development of the Trump campaign collusion with Russia. There are a lot of pins on the evidence board but it would be nice to develop the broader framework and make sense out of the display.
The best way to start might be based on the best quote from the last few days…
“Follow The Trail of Dead Russians”: Clinton Watts, a national security expert testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out that several Russians linked to the investigation have died in the last three months – in Russia but also in western countries (including the United States).
Watts offered some very direct comments. When asked about Putin’s effectiveness in disrupting the US election Watts said, “The reason active measures have worked in this US election is because the commander-in-chief has used Russian active measures at times against his opponents.” Watts continues, “He has made claims about voter fraud, that President Obama is not a citizen, that Congressman [Ted] Cruz is not a citizen”. “So part of the reason these active measures work, and it does today in terms of Trump Tower being wiretapped, is because they [the Trump team] parrot the same lines.”
The article offers the obligatory Putin denial but I can remember not so many weeks ago when Putin’s response was, “so what?”. By the way, the article ends with an observation that Paul Ryan is being targeted – another coincidence? And a shame that one of the guy’s that stayed on sidelines might pay his own price. A second ‘by the way’ – Watts offers his assurance the interference is coming from Russia but who might have the strongest motivation against Ryan, Putin or Bannon? Why do we feel so sure the real answer is ‘both in it together’?
The What: Validation of Christopher Steele Dossier and “Walking Back the Cat”
Walking back the cat – intelligence trade speak for “is it true?”.
Christopher Steele is the retired British MI6 operative that put together the Trump dossier showing how Putin has – kompromat – Russian spy term for compromising material. There’s been much made of the content, including some salacious content, but to date there has been little validation of individuals or events covered in the dossier.
Much like Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame and Niger yellowcake we’re ‘not’ to believe the credibility of the people bringing forward the results of the investigation. First of all, this guy is the real deal. At the top of his own resume I’d put his investigation of the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Federak Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) officer who was fatally poisoned by a dose of radioactive polonium-210 (look him up on Wikipedia). Vanity Fair published an article taking a look at Steele and the truly explosive dossier investigation.
Some of the dead and arrested Russians are Steele contacts. As an example, Oleg Erovinkin, former FSB (KGB) general, ally of Putin – and found dead in the back seat of his car in December. The article also covers more ANTI-denials like Putin’s congratulations to Trump following his acceptance speech along with the cagey comment from Putin’s political party (Popular Front), “They say that Putin once again beat all”.
The beauty here is names and events put forward by Steele are now finding their way into hearings, questions and with some validation – slowly but surely, Steele’s dossier is gaining credibility.
If that cat is not wholly walked back there is a much clearer and consistent picture being put forward – this is a very good one (relatively short, excellent read): How to Explain The Trump–Russia Controversy Without Sounding Like A Liberal Conspiracy Theorist.
As you dig and connect and consider the one view “Trump Won” there is another view of more concern: “Putin Won”. This reduces Trump to the narcissistic, vengeful person – just what we see but now maybe this makes us more prepared to fully accept our ‘suspicions’.
Here’s one important view of how Trump and his mob connections and his ties to Russia have been under investigation for years and why nailing Trump’s hide to the wall undoes much investigative work of huge value (it’s long, but worth the time): Why The FBI Can’t Tell All On Trump, Russia.
What Next: Increasing Sophistication of Pushback
Two White House officials, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee, summoned House Intelligence Co-Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) to the White House for a late night meeting to receive intelligence about supposed surveillance of Trump.
While there are many points of importance (and one put forward with humor below re: Nunes), I want to highlight that Cohen-Watnick was a Michael Flynn appointment but was kept on at the insistence of Trump’s close adviser, Stephen Bannon. And soon after there was the nightime Nunes meeting. Bannon and Kushner are the tag-team heading up the effort to turn the public in support of Trump (polls currently show a majority favor an independent investigation). What I’ve seen to date is amateurish and mostly Trump tweets along the lines of “Investigate Obama, not Russia”. Safe to say, MUCH more to follow here. To get a taste check out: ‘Strap In Tight’: GOP Strategist Rick Wilson Connects The Dots On The Latest Devin Nunes Bombshell
Evolving Legal Standards: Guilt and Constitutional Crisis
If we use legal standards offered by Trump and Flynn during the 2016 election process we’d have Flynn chalked up as guilty (by virtue of demanding immunity) and Trump resigning from the presidency (constitutional crisis of a president under investigation). Sorry, but I can’t let go of the contradiction here of Flynn (Lock Her Up) trying to negotiate immunity. Seed how White House staff standards come back on the Trump crew: The Trump White House Is In Deep Legal Trouble, According To Trump’s Own Standards
Nunes as Inspector Gadget or Inspector Clouseau – Your Choice
The best summary I can offer: Nunes rushes to the White House to receive confidential information which he then later returns to the White House to share with Trump. He then holds a press conference to wink-wink about Trump maybe being right about having his wires tapped before FINALLY apologizing to his House Intelligence Committee members for his actions and priorities. Phew. What a guy.
Nunes has severely compromised himself. The discussion has veered from the veracity of his role to who will play him in which version of the movie. The comedic version has Steve Carrell as the lead. I’ve seen no serious version proffered as yet.
Finally: Some Informative Links – Have Fun
A link to all things said by Trump about Putin – including a link to an excellent Washington Post summary: 80 Times Trump Talked About Putin
The CNN list shows how hard it is to find consistency in anything said by Trump.
Or, one can wonder, does Trump have dementia: Is Trump Suffering From Dementia, 8-Minute Video