Is ‘A Lie Told Often Enough Becomes Truth’ Really True?
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (11/13/17)
Dear Fellow Readers,
As the Trump-Russia story unspools ‘No contact’ becomes ‘no collusion’ becomes ‘it wasn’t me’…
Trump campaign, staff and associates lies are a moving target. Once a set of lies are dispelled they pick up the goal posts, move them down the field and issue new lies. Except for Trump, he tries to hold the goal posts in one place as if his lies alone are the force of nature that will win the battle for hearts and minds over Trump-Russia collusion.
While on his Asian tour this week Trump met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Hanoi, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders had assured us there was no formal meeting planned. But apparently they found time for “brief conversations on the sidelines”.
On Saturday The Washington Post reported: ‘He said he didn’t meddle’: Trump Talks With Putin About U.S. Elections And Syria In Brief Interactions.
Mark Wahlberg once said, “I never lie. I believe everything I say, so it’s not a lie.”
We are operating in parallel worlds. Since I’m using entertainment metaphors, it’s like either us or Trump is living in ‘The Upside Down’ from Netflix’s “Stranger Things”. Trump tells us he does not believe that Russia actively sought to help him.
“He said he didn’t meddle,” Trump said, answering questions in the press cabin on the Air Force One. “I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. … He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”
Trump went further and explained all the confusion about Trump-Russia offering that everyone else are liars:
“On Saturday Trump described former FBI director James Comey, who testified to Congress that Trump asked him to drop an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russian officials, as a proven “liar” and “leaker.” Trump called the former U.S. intelligence officials who concluded the Russians tampered — including former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former CIA director John Brennan — “political hacks.””
So what are we to do, who are you going to believe? Trump says, “Putin very strongly, vehemently, says he has nothing to do with that.”
I imagine we’ll be hearing this a lot until some new Trump-Russia crisis knocks these claims off the front page.
“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,'” Trump said, “but I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. … I think he’s very insulted by it and that’s not a good thing for our country.”
Though even Trump seems to agree we’re no longer debating “no contacts with Russian”, we’re now debating collusion:
“There was no collusion,” Trump said on the plane. “Everybody knows there was no collusion.”
Is ‘A Lie Told Often Enough Becomes Truth’ true? According to a CNN (11/17/17) it’s Trump alone that is in The Upside Down.
Some in the Trump administration don’t buy the presidential reassurances: CIA Director Stands By Intel Community Assessment Russia Meddled In Election.
“The Director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” the CIA said in a statement when asked for reaction to the president’s remarks. “The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.”
But is it only Trump that is in The Upside Down?
On Friday Talking Points Memo ran a story: The Curious Case Of Corey And The Trump Campaign’s Russia Contacts about a phone interview the reporter had with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and his relationship with former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians to influence the election in Trump’s favor.
To properly consider the TPM article keep in mind as recently as August 2017 Lewandowski said on ABC ‘This Week’ when asked about former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos’ guilty plea after lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians:
“I don’t know of any person working on the campaign that ever had a contact with a Russian agent or a Russian affiliate or anybody that has to do with Russia. None whatsoever.”
But Lewandowski’s lies and denials keep moving.
Lewandowski’s was at Harvard University this past week as a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Former White House spokesperson Sean Spicer was a visiting fellow as well. The stated goal was to “spend that time bestowing upon the next class of public servants his “in-depth understanding of the political process and the administration of President Donald J. Trump.””
The article will elicit a lot of head shaking, but Lewandowski did offer this:
“I wouldn’t break the law, and I hope that anyone who colluded with the Russians — either on the Trump campaign or the Clinton campaign — goes to jail for the rest of their lives.”
Lewandowski moved the goal posts (his lies) between August and November from “don’t know of any person…that ever had a contact…with anybody that has to do with Russia” to “I hope that anyone that colluded with the Russians…goes to jail for the rest of their lives”. This seems like a good time to recall that the other former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his long-time associate Rick Gates, have been indicted and more indictments are expected.
Back to the TPM article:
“These additional details (George Papadopoulos admissions) paint a murky picture. But they puncture Lewandowski’s previous that no campaign staffer he knew of “ever had a contact with a Russian agent or a Russian affiliate or anybody that has to do with Russia.”
And here are Lewandowski’s new denials: ‘all I know is it wasn’t me’. Lewandowski doesn’t even say it wasn’t him, only that it’s “not been confirmed” it was him:
““What I’m saying is I don’t think there’s been—anybody has confirmed that I was the person George Papadopoulos was referring to because that has not been confirmed, to the best of my knowledge,” Lewandowski said.”
Corey Lewandowski offers a perfect example of the well trod path how campaign staff ‘walk back’ their sweeping denials. Last edition it was Papadopoulos’s fellow former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page PhD that was getting all the attention. Next time it will another Trump associate that needs to explain new revelations and they will also be assuring us “it wasn’t me”.
‘No contact’ becomes ‘no collusion’ becomes ‘it wasn’t me’…
Trump-Russia collusion can only be about lies if they are covering up for the things they’ve done. If you ever think you understand the full landscape of Trump associates and their illegal activities – think again.
On Friday The Wall Street Journal broke a huge story about possible international kidnapping: Mueller Probes Flynn’s Role in Alleged Plan to Deliver Cleric to Turkey.
Autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long accused exile cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania, as the person behind a recent failed coup attempt and has repeatedly demanded the U.S. extradite Gulen to face charges in Turkey.
“Under the alleged proposal, Mr. Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million for delivering Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, according to people with knowledge of discussions Mr. Flynn had with Turkish representatives. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has pressed the U.S. to extradite him, views the cleric as a political enemy.”
Additionally about Flynn:
“ military, congressional and criminal investigations into allegations that he improperly concealed his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, and into whether the ties played any role in his decisions as the president’s adviser, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.
Since the WSJ operates behind a pay wall, here is the follow-on reporting by CNN: WSJ: Mueller Probes Flynn Role In Plot To Deliver Cleric To Turkey.
CNN reports that this news is not new news but adds much to the understanding of what was to happen:
“Former CIA Director James Woolsey about an earlier meeting in September 2016 where Flynn also met with representatives of the Turkish government and discussed potential ways to send a foe of Turkey’s president back to face charges in that country.
“Woolsey claims that those present discussed sending Gulen back to Turkey to face charges — possibly outside the legal US extradition system.”
Of course Flynn denied the accusations from March:
“The claim made by Mr. Woolsey that General Flynn, or anyone else in attendance, discussed physical removal of Mr. Gulen from the United States during a meeting with Turkish officials in New York is false,” Flynn spokesman Price Floyd said in a statement at the time. “No such discussion occurred. Nor did Mr. Woolsey ever inform General Flynn that he had any concerns whatsoever regarding the meeting either before he chose to attend or afterwards.”
Domestic kidnapping and extradition add to the charges of acting as an un-registered foreign agent while operating as Trump’s national security adviser and influencing U.S. foreign policy.
Will Flynn move the goal posts? Unlike Page and Lewandowski it’s more likely Flynn will say nothing publicly – that’s the point, at the end of the debate, when the facts are established and the goal posts remain fixed – it’s about sentencing or plea deals not denials.
We will end with another example of how we lack enough imagination – and never enough push pins and yarn for the evidence board.
Rep. David Nunes (R-CA), House Intelligence Committee chairman and lone ranger to exonerate Trump of collusion with Russia manages to somehow involve himself in Flynn’s agenda with Turkey. Well, okay, not really a lone ranger, what with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) tagging along and jumping into the scrum.
Business Insider reported Friday that Devin Nunes Attended A Breakfast With Michael Flynn And Turkey’s Foreign Minister Just Before The Inauguration.
“Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, attended a breakfast meeting in January that Michael Flynn, then the incoming national security adviser, and Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, also attended.
“The breakfast event, held on Wednesday, January 18, was closed to the press, and it is still unclear what exactly was discussed.”
But a spokesman for Nunes did offer this statement:
“Mr. Cavusoglu was one of about 40 attendees at the event, which included 20-30 ambassadors to the U.S. and about 10 other foreign dignitaries and officials. The attendees heard some remarks from Flynn, Chairman Nunes, and other representatives on national security issues — the discussion topic was not Turkey or any other single country … if [Nunes did speak to Cavusoglu], it would’ve been among all the other ambassadors and officials at the event. There was no separate, private meeting.”
This is the same pattern we saw when attorney general Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III and Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner might have met with US Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak way back in early Trump campaign days (April 2017) at the Mayflower Hotel foreign policy speech made by Trump. And there’s this:
“Nunes‘ attendance at the event is newly relevant amid revelations that that another congressman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, took with Flynn in September 2016. Flynn had begun lobbying on behalf of Turkish government interests one month earlier.”
So MANY coincidences.
So as Trump hopes, is ‘A Lie Told Often Enough Becomes Truth’ really true? Or does the constant news of ‘No contact’ becomes ‘no collusion’ becomes ‘it wasn’t me’ win the hearts and minds with Trump-Russia collusion?
Response To A Reader:
A Commoner Call reader sent a link Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence and a question about whether the Russia Monitor is on a mission to rationalize the 2016 election outcome. It’s a fair question. It is not my intent to rehash the election. I do have questions.
For example, what if any influence did the Russians orchestrate on our 2016 election? If any, is this acceptable to us? If any and we object, what are we doing to prevent this from happening again?
We expect fair elections. We don’t agree with gerrymandering to affect one party control. We don’t agree with denying a qualified voter access to the polls by manipulating the voter rolls or imposing onerous requirements to ‘prove’ their identities.
I rely on media items to represent the case and the investigation. I strive for the non-sensational, unless the story itself is that, like the recent charges brought against three Trump campaign staff (indictments of Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos indictments) is sensational, with merit. Or even more recently the news about Trump’s former national security adviser reportedly plotting an international kidnapping.
The Trump-Russia story has broadened enormously. No one of us personally will ever know for certain who hacked the DNC server and John Podesta’s emails. I’m not saying that’s not important but it’s the equivalent of “someone broke into the Watergate DNC headquarters last night, I wonder who did it?”
To be clear, the Watergate story initially came to light as news of the break-in of the DNC offices in the Watergate office complex – and the scandal ensued. The ‘Plumbers’ came about after an assistant to Nixon shared with his grandmother about his job at the White House, “I fix leaks”. To which she responded, “oh, you’re a plumber”. The Plumbers were part of Nixon’s White House Special Investigations Unit and included former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy, one of the Plumbers responsible for the break-in.
With Trump-Russia we’re way past naming the Plumbers. We’re now in the Oval Office with the special counsel investigation and Congressional hearings giving attention to White House staff close to the president.
The email hack was like learning about G. Gordon Liddy’s break-in – but I’m wondering if Trump’s “No Contacts With Russians” is the equivalent of Nixon’s “I Am Not A Crook”.
A footnote, the authors of the letter that is the basis of the linked article from July 24, 2017 question how forthcoming the CIA’s Digitial Innovation Division Directorate had been with CIA Director Mike Pompeo who was appointed in January 2017 at the same time the Intelligence Community Assessment, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections”, was released. It seems Pompeo has had enough time now to form his opinion.
On Saturday (11/17/17) CNN reported:
“CIA Director Mike Pompeo stands by US intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, the agency said Saturday, despite President Donald Trump saying he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says his country didn’t interfere.”
All questions are good questions and there’s no reason we should accept any statements at face value.