Russia Monitor: What Will Donald Leave In America’s Stocking This Week?

“He (Trump) is so compromised with Russia that he is willing to outright lie for Putin because he is bought and paid for or he is completely disconnected from any sense of reality.”

hiredman”, writing on Saturday (12/16/17)for the Daily Kos

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (12/28/17)

Dear Fellow Readers,

It looks like we are in for a BIG week with Trump-Russia collusion. As reported Saturday in The Hill, the recurring story is that Trump is prepared to fire special counsel Robert Mueller as early as this upcoming week: Rumor Is Trump Could Fire Mueller Before Christmas.

“Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Friday that “rumors” on Capitol Hill suggest President Trump could fire special counsel Robert Mueller before Christmas, after Congress leaves Washington for the winter recess.”

While this raises many other questions about how or what next, it might be more productive to consider the build-up that Trumpsters have been working on for weeks.

It is worth noting that fellow House Intelligence Committee Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) agrees with at least part of what Speier is saying:

“The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), also said Friday that he is worried that Republicans leading the committee are seeking to shut down the committee’s investigation by the end of the year. 

“”Republicans have scheduled no witnesses after next Friday and none in 2017 [sic]. We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on,” he tweeted Friday.”

Here’s the latest from this past weekend; two versions of a similar headline, starting with a wrong-headed headline from The Washington PostMueller Unlawfully Obtained Emails, Trump Transition Team Claims.

Well, if that doesn’t make Trump and Trumpsters happy…. The Washington Post runs a headline that first tells you what Trump wants you to believe, that Mueller (purportedly) did something illegal; you have to keep reading to catch that this is merely an assertion by Trump’s transition team. The pattern is repeated through the article. Not offered is any attempt to get the view of Mueller’s team or the General Services Administration that provides the email infrastructure used by the campaign.

Here’s the same story reported by AxiosScoop: Mueller Obtains “tens of thousands” Of Trump Transition Emails.

Axios makes it clear the Mueller team is using the emails to confirm testimony and to get new leads. Mueller’s team got the emails from the General Services Administration based on the use of government – taxpayer paid – email systems; a much better balanced view.

It’s worth noting that late Sunday morning The Hill reported this from Mueller’s team: Mueller Team Defends Obtaining Trump Transition Emails.

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Sunday defended its work after a lawyer for President Trump’s transition team accused investigators of improperly obtaining thousands of emails from transition officials.

““When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, said in a statement to The Hill.”

So here we have three versions of the same story:

  • The Washington Post mirrors the Trump claim of Mueller’s access to emails
  • Axios offers a more balanced view starting with Mueller “obtaining” the emails while noting there were different views to be considered
  • And, The Hill noting that Mueller’s team defends their actions by having followed applicable lawful procedures.

Meanwhile, Fox News predictably offers this news as further assurance of a coup underway to remove Trump from office. Once again, Fox News – the White House PR operation – shows that no other major news outlet, certainly not The Washington Post, will outdo their propaganda in support of any and all thing pro-Trump.


Who knows how Mueller and Trump-Russia will end the week, but this could be another step in the effort to cut off the the investigationTrump Lawyers Set For Key Meeting With Special Counsel Next Week.

Are Trump’s lawyers looking for ammunition, looking for a way to deliver on their assurances to Trump that Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation is nearing an end?

“President Donald Trump’s private lawyers are slated to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and members of his team as soon as next week for what the President’s team considers an opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the next steps in Mueller’s probe, according to sources familiar with the matter.”

There is no chance Mueller’s team will communicate their intent to wrap up the investigation. Watch to see if the meeting happens and if so, watch for the Trump legal team statements that will be like smoke from the Vatican chimney signaling intent for how Trumpsters proceed against Mueller.

Whether this next week is as pivotal as imagined, there are other thoughtful views of how Trump-Russia winds to an end. One version has Mueller’s investigation coming to an end with Mueller fired, while another has Trump charged by Mueller.


Jefferson Morley wrote a piece for Raw Story citing opinions put forward by Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine, E.J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post and others making the case that Republicans are well down a path of readiness to fire Mueller: Nearing The End Game: The 6 Phases Of Trump’s Plan To Fire Robert Mueller.

You may agree considering his outline of the six-step plan: 1) trash Mueller among Republicans, 2) organize media around Clinton scandals, 3) link Clinton scandals to Mueller, 4) build expectations that the Trump-Russia investigation will end soon, 5) wait for the right moment of strength, 6) find someone in the Department of Justice to fire Mueller…. Then fire Mueller.

On the other hand, and who better than long-term Trump associate and all-around Republican dirty trickster going back to the Nixon years, Roger Stone to know….


Stone has a view that Trump will not be able to avoid charges based on Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation:

“Political strategist Roger Stone said it’s only a matter of time before special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and the Trump sexual misconduct allegations that number well into the double digits catch up to the president. 

“”It’s painfully obvious Mueller will bring charges,” Stone told Vanity Fair.“The theory is Mueller will indict him on some process-related matter…. The only people who don’t seem to know it are [Trump lawyers] Ty Cobb, [John] Dowd, and the president.””

It all comes down to two very different predictions:

  • 1) Trump will end Mueller’s investigation, or;
  • 2) Mueller will end Trump’s presidency.

As you would imagine, there are other points of view, here’s a third, head-spinning possibility: POLL: Majority Of Trump Voters Would Support Him Even If He Colluded With Russia.

The third view, “we don’t care what Trump did”, this is the equivalent of Trump’s campaign boast: “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue”: 

“Just 14% of Trump voters said he should resign in the event that special counsel Robert Mueller or the congressional intelligence committees find that he colluded with Russia. On the other hand, 77% of Trump voters believe he should remain in office if the collusion claims are proven true. When Democrats and independent voters were factored into the results, 37% of respondents said they believed Trump should stay in office if he colluded with Russia.”


So we have: Trump fires Mueller, Mueller charges Trump, Trump voters don’t care regardless…

What about the Russian involvement in our election, if any, and whether we face an ongoing risk? This from ranking committee Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff:

“We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election. … What does matter is this: The Russians successfully meddled in our democracy and our intelligence agencies have concluded they will do so again.”

From The Washington Post article below, Trump’s focus is Mueller not Russian President Vladimir Putin, and certainly not the concern of potential risk to future elections:

“If you say ‘Russian interference,’ to him it’s all about him,” said a senior Republican strategist who has discussed the matter with Trump’s confidants. “He judges everything as about him.”

Questioning Russian influence on the election belittles Trump in his inwardly focused eyes and, as we’ve seen so many times, Trump invents his own reality:

“Trump remains defiant about the special counsel’s probe, maintaining he will be cleared of any wrongdoing and describing the matter as a “hoax” and a “hit job.””

Here is The Washington Post analysis. Doubting The Intelligence, Trump Pursues Putin And Leaves A Russian Threat Unchecked.

Trump’s acolytes have pushed Trump since the campaign to come to terms with Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

“But as aides persisted, Trump became agitated. He railed that the intelligence couldn’t be trusted and scoffed at the suggestion that his candidacy had been propelled by forces other than his own strategy, message and charisma.”

And at various points there have been comments by Trump suggesting he agrees with Russian influence, but much like his views on the violence in Charlottesville, he then quickly shrugs off any rationality that is in conflict with his self-made reality.

“As hedged as those words were, Trump regretted them almost immediately. “It’s not me,” he said to aides afterward. “It wasn’t right.””

He is hard-wired to images of his own supremacy.

“Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.

“The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

“Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.”

He’s attacked the U.S. intelligence agencies, he’s alienated allies, he attacks anyone and everyone that has ever offered a critical view of him or his accomplishments. Even the Trump White House agrees that Russia is committed to destabilization, but not Trump.

A real leader of the U.S. would say, “Russia did it, I know they did it, they know I know they did it and we will not let them do it again”.

Putin is getting what he wants, destabilization. The question for Americans is “What is Trump getting?” and how much will we pay for it?


Here’s a sharper, more biting, summary of Trump’s Russia intransigence from the Saturday Daily KosAmazing CIA Bombshell That Proves Trump Is Either Compromised Or Delusional.

The article refers to the same Washington Post article just referenced but also provides the Daily Kos author’s view of the contrasting world views; first the U.S. intelligence agencies and their review for the Trump team:

“The officials were escorted into a spacious conference room on the 14th floor of Trump Tower. Trump took a seat at one end of a large table, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the other. Among the others present were Priebus, Pompeo and designated national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U.S. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.” (emphasis added; Daily Kos)

Yet even recently, as Trump returned from his trip to Asia, he said of Putin:

“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam.

It is the author’s opinion that Trump, “is so compromised with Russia that he is willing to outright lie for Putin because he is bought and paid for or he is completely disconnected from any sense of reality.


We know Trump rails against any perceived slight or observation that question his delicate self-image. We know that most Republicans run cover for Trump for a variety of reasons. We know most Trump voters don’t care either way. We know some non-Trump voters don’t care.

We also know the majority of Americans believe there is substance to Trump-Russia collusion and want and trust Mueller to conclude his investigation fairly.

What about Putin? As reported in Thursday’s Raw Story, it’s amazing how often Putin and Trump sound alike: Putin Sounds Just Like the President: Collusion Talk ‘made up by opponents to delegitimize Trump’.

This reminds me of the Trump-Putin meeting at the Hamburg G20 summit when Putin asked Trump, “these are the ones who insulted you?” as he gestured to the media. There are those that agree, heads of state cannot be questioned, heads of state are above the law:

“Putin said Thursday the allegations about campaign collusion have “been made up by (President Donald) Trump’s opponents to delegitimize Trump’s time in office.””

So Putin and Trump sound the same. No surprise. But what does Putin want?

The Atlantic explored the issue of What Putin Really Wants.

The subhead of the story offers a different view of Putin: Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He’s really just a gambler who won big.

This column offers a number of views of Putin. There are those who believe he is a mastermind, while others resent U.S. characterizations; Putin opposition in Russia for example.

Here’s an example of Russian incredulousness with U.S. opinions of Putin omnipotence:

“A businessman who is high up in Putin’s United Russia party said over an espresso at a Moscow café: “You’re telling me that everything in Russia works as poorly as it does, except our hackers? Rosneft”—the state-owned oil giant—“doesn’t work well. Our health-care system doesn’t work well. Our education system doesn’t work well. And here, all of a sudden, are our hackers, and they’re amazing?”’

That’s clever, but doesn’t quite get to the heart of the question. It’s like saying Trump doesn’t ‘run’ the collective white nationalists. Of course he doesn’t, but he’s brought them back to life and let them operate in the open. Similarly Putin flew cover for Russian involvement in the U.S. election. In a Russian way, he unleashed the hounds.

“It wasn’t a strategic operation,” says Andrei Soldatov, a Russian journalist with deep sources in the security services, who writes about the Kremlin’s use of cybertechnology. “Given what everyone on the inside has told me,” he says, hacking the U.S. political system “was a very emotional, tactical decision. People were very upset about the Panama Papers.”” …

“Alperovitch and his team saw that there had been two groups of hackers, which they believed came from two different Russian security agencies. They gave them two different monikers: Fancy Bear, from military intelligence, and Cozy Bear, from either foreign intelligence or the FSB. But neither bear seemed at all aware of what the other was doing, or even of the other’s presence. “We observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials,” Alperovitch wrote on CrowdStrike’s blog at the time. Western intelligence agencies, he noted, almost never go after the same target without coordinating, “for fear of compromising each other’s operations.” But “in Russia this is not an uncommon scenario.””

“It was almost like one of Minin’s hacking competitions, but with higher stakes. The hackers are not always guys in military-intelligence uniforms, Soldatov told me; in some cases they’re mercenary freelancers willing to work for the highest bidder—or cybercriminals who have been caught and blackmailed into working for the government. (Putin has denied “state level” involvement in election meddling, but plausible deniability is the point of working through unofficial hackers.)”

Sometimes history turns on timing. In this case, the warning of Russian involvement in the U.S. election was drowned out by Trump bragging about his appetite for sexual assault in the Access Hollywood video, which exploded across the media on the same day.

“On October 7, 2016, a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said, “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails” from U.S. political organizations. “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” 

“The White House expected the media to run with the story, and they did—“from 3:30 to 4 p.m.,” Ned Price, a former National Security Council spokesperson under Obama, said at this summer’s Aspen Security Forum. But at 4 p.m., the statement was overtaken by a revelation of a different sort: the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. Both the media and the Clinton campaign focused almost exclusively on the explosive tape, not the intelligence-community statement.

“Even if the public notice went unheeded, the Obama administration felt that the Russians had heard its warnings behind the scenes.”

Is Putin brilliant? Or is it more that Putin will take a card sitting on 16? Putin doubled down and President Barack Obama was wrong.

“Regardless, Putin pulled off a spectacular geopolitical heist on a shoestring budget—about $200 million, according to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. This point is lost on many Americans: The subversion of the election was as much a product of improvisation and entropy as it was of long-range vision. What makes Putin effective, what makes him dangerous, is not strategic brilliance but a tactical flexibility and adaptability—a willingness to experiment, to disrupt, and to take big risks.

“They do plan,” said a senior Obama-administration official. “They’re not stupid at all. But the idea that they have this all perfectly planned and that Putin is an amazing chess player—that’s not quite it. He knows where he wants to end up, he plans the first few moves, and then he figures out the rest later. People ask if he plays chess or checkers. It’s neither: He plays blackjack. He has a higher acceptance of risk. Think about it. The election interference—that was pretty risky, what he did. If Hillary Clinton had won, there would’ve been hell to pay.”


As many other countries and elections were targeted by Russia, France wasn’t fooled. Ukraine wasn’t fooled. But the U.S. was fooled and played the chump in the biggest geopolitical hustle imagined. Are we still fooled? Many Trump voters don’t care one way or another. For those that didn’t vote for Trump, is it only about Hillary’s poor campaign? There’s no proof, ‘apologists’ will say.

Others say, it’s not the real issue”. Are we left exposed?

Putin gambled and got disruption. Trump gambled and he is president.

What’s next – is Mueller fired? Or does Mueller bring charges against Trump?

Will Putin’s con continue?