Russia Monitor: Vladimir Cashes In Bigly On His Investment

“Today crystallizes precisely why Putin was so eager to see Trump elected. For Putin, this is return on his investment, and it’s safe to say that his investment has paid off beyond even his wildest dreams.”

— Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and the National Security Council spokesman under then-President Barack Obama


“With his “no collusion” chant, Trump is like an embezzler who yells, “There was no murder”—and asserts that is the only relevant benchmark.”

— Author David Corn writing for Mother Jones, June 2018



By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (6/11/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

In just a few days, Trump:

1) went on record saying Russia should be readmitted to the G8;

2) alienated every U.S. ally in the G7 and;

3) punished Wisconsin dairy farmers with ill-conceived trade wars.

We will look at each of these, but, thanks to a Commoner Call reader, the big picture is increasingly clear: Trump’s Policies Paying Off For Man Who Helped Make Him President: Vladimir Putin.

The HuffPost article subhead explain’s Putin’s pleasure: The fraying of the alliance between the United States and Western Europe has been a longtime Russian goal.

“Just two years after working to put Donald Trump in the White House, Russian leader Vladimir Putin is now getting help from Trump to achieve foreign policy objectives that Russia has sought for years.

“Trump has loudly criticized the NATO military alliance as unduly burdensome for the United States. He has started a trade war with many of those same allies. And on his way to the G-7 summit of industrialized democracies Friday morning, he suggested that those nations re-admit Russia to the gathering ― even though Russia continues to occupy part of Ukraine, the reason it was expelled from the group in the first place.”

We’ve gone from “I have been Russia’s worst nightmare,” to “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”. We’ve gone from “no one is tougher on Russia”  to “Russia should be in the meeting” while referring to reseating Russia as part of the G8. To be clear:

“Steven Pifer, a U.S. ambassador to Ukraine under President Bill Clinton, said to bring Russia back into the G-7 would be to reward Putin’s military aggression. “Russia was booted after it seized and illegally annexed Crimea. It went on to spark a conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000. That should not win Moscow an invitation back to the G-8 table,” Pifer said.”

Russia and China are now promoted and coddled regardless, while U.S. G7 allies are punished. One point of clarity above, the “it is not illegal” quote was declared by Nixon in May 1977.


But is Trump’s behavior working for or against Trump? Mother Jones reports: Donald Trump Is Getting Away With the Biggest Scandal In American History.

David Corn is the co-author of ‘Russian Roulette’ with Michael Isikoff. He relates a discussion they were having recently on a cable news program and they were in the weeds with details, potentially damning to Donnie Jr., where a Spanish prosecutor had given the FBI transcripts from wiretaps of a Russian official suspected of money laundering and with ties to the National Rifle Association. The co-authors had 15-20 minutes on a cable news program delving into important details that represented real risk to the Trump inner circle, but now Corn is stepping back and reconsidering.

“Almost every day, Trump pushes out a simple (and dishonest) narrative via tweets and public remarks: The Russia investigation is a … well, you know, a witch hunt. Or a hoax. Or fake news. He blasts out the same exclamations daily: Witch hunt, hoax! Hoax, witch hunt! That’s his mantra.”

The Trump view is easy to follow – he and fellow Trumpsters are always portrayed as the poor victims. Many Russpublicans carry this torch and Fox and other news programs hammer the same old propaganda.  Trumpsters prattle on that it was Clinton and Democrats who colluded. The story lines are easy to dismiss, as Corn says, “these revelations do not emerge in chronological or thematic order.

A key question and the answer – it’s a few Democrats like House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): “In the face of Trump’s fact-free denials, who is reminding the public of the basics—that Russia attacked, and that Trump aided and abetted the operation?”

Corn gets to this point:

“Along with his shouts of “witch hunt,” Trump also incessantly declares, “No collusion.” This simplistic piece of shorthand aims at a straw man. Trump seems to be setting a bar that favors him: Unless evidence emerges that he personally met with Russian hackers, told them which Democratic Party emails to steal, and then provided guidance on how to release the material, then nothing wrong occurred. But the public record is already replete with serious wrongdoing committed by Trump and his aides.”

Summarizing with:

“With his “no collusion” chant, Trump is like an embezzler who yells, “There was no murder”—and asserts that is the only relevant benchmark.”

We highly recommend the entire article; here is Corn’s cautionary conclusion:

“In this ongoing fight, it is Trump and his bumper stickers versus a media presenting a wide variety of disparate disclosures that come and go quickly in a hyperchaotic information ecosystem, often absent full context….

“The Russia scandal is the most important scandal in the history of the United States

“Yet the full impact of this scandal does not resonate in the daily coverage and discourse. In many ways, the media presents the Russia scandal mostly as a political threat to Trump, not as a serious threat to the nation. And many Americans, thanks to Trump and his allies, view it as a charade. All this shows how easy it is for disinformation and demagoguery to distort reality. That is a tragedy for the United States. For Trump—and Putin—that is victory.”


With the incessant tidal waves of White House lies many wonder what is going on. The Washington Post gives a succinct explanation: Trump Just Keeps On Lying — Because It Works.

Max Boot, writing for The Washington Post offers this:

“Trump continues telling lies that not even a dimwitted child could possibly believe.”

There are many questions that freeze Trump apologists in their tracks, such as, why so much lying? Boot offers one variation that is gaining traction, but reminds us of why Trump continues to lie:

“The Trumpites who claim that this is “the biggest political scandal in the history of the United States” never stop to ask themselves some obvious questions: If the FBI was trying to hurt Trump’s electoral chances, why did it keep the investigation secret until after the election? And why, if the FBI was biased against Trump, did it help to get him elected by publicly reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails 11 days before the election? Oh, and did the FBI force the Trump campaign to meet with a Russian emissary and lie about it? So many questions, so few answers.

“But facts and logic are irrelevant to the Republican White Walkers; they will follow their Night King wherever he leads, even if he is leading them to perdition. A recent poll finds that 61 percent of Republicans think the FBI is framing Trump, and only 13 percent believe the special counsel’s investigation is legitimate. There is a reason the president lies so frequently and outrageously: It works!”


Wisconsin dairy farmers on the Trump chopping block

Here’s the rationale for how Trump’s trade war and tariffs against U.S. allies hurts Wisconsin dairy farmers: Wisconsin Reeling From Tariffs Coming From Mexico, Canada, Europe.

“U.S. agriculture is bearing the brunt of the countermeasures already imposed by Mexico, equivalent to $2.62 billion of the targeted products.

“That includes $387 million in tariffs on U.S. cheese, according to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which tracks global commerce.

“About 90 percent of Wisconsin milk is turned into cheese, and 90 percent of that cheese is sold outside of the state’s borders. 

“Dairy farmers and processors simply cannot afford a trade war that will choke off access to major partners,” said Brody Stapel, a dairy farmer from Cedar Grove and board president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.

“Mexico buys nearly a quarter of all dairy products exported by the U.S.”

It’s also worth noting those Wisconsin farmers also depend upon Mexican immigrant workers to make their operations run. That is another way Trump policies are targeting the Wisconsin dairy industry.


A fresh batch of daily lies

Trump lies because it is what he does and it works. The media is sussing the prior day’s crop of lies and distortions while Trump moves forward with a new round. Russpublicans rarely take exception and Trump propaganda outlets sell his “witch hunt” dismissals.

Trump lies because it works. As Max Boot references above, a majority of Republicans now believe the FBI is framing Trump:Fully three-quarters of Republicans agree with President Donald Trump that it’s a “witch hunt.”

In spite of indictments brought by special counsel Mueller, or for that matter, in spite of the headlines of Stormy Daniels and the charges brought against Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump supporters believe Trump’s lies — or perhaps more accurately — just don’t care.

At the same time Trump touts rewards for Russia, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is publicly celebrating Russpublican success, as he claims, “the best 18 months of center-right governance in his Senate career, which began when Ronald Reagan’s second term did. 

Of course the rest of the world has a more clear-eyed view: Corruption Is The New Normal.

The emblem of the Trump era is the mingling of personal corruption on the part of America’s leaders with the political corruption of American capitalism and the rise of autocracy.”

That’s a view from Asia – the mingling of personal corruption with capitalism and the rise of autocracy – “the three trends feed on each other”. Equally clearly, they acknowledge that with Trump the story line is, “anything he does as president is legal, simply because he does it.”

Maybe Trump supporters will have a change of heart if Trump’s actions hit them in their pocketbook. But if you read the Journal Sentinel article, you can see how concerns are twisted to assume the best, ““I do recognize this is probably a negotiating tactic … the administration is using, but in the meantime real families are being crushed by these tariffs right now,” said Doug Reigle of Regal Ware.” Many predict that Trump supporters will bear the cost… because it is Trump.

Trump-Russia news is crushed like any Trump opposing views put forward since Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency. Forgotten are the trials being faced by indicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort or Trump personal lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen. But there are regular gems like this: Konstantin Kilimnik Indictment Means Mueller Has Officially Tied Russian Intelligence To Trump Campaign.

That’s right, Mueller has now brought charges against an (alleged) Russian spy:

“…writer Christopher Strohm (for Bloomberg) argues that the charges against Kilimnik represent a breakthrough in the case because it “links senior officials on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to Russian intelligence in a criminal matter.”

““This is an alleged Russian spy committing crimes with the former campaign chairman for Trump,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti told Bloomberg. “When people first thought of the Mueller investigation, this is what people thought would result from it.””

Imagine the fireworks if that had been a Russian spy in Obama’s or Hillary’s campaign. But a spy nestled in with Trump’s band and the Russpublican response is a snoozy Ho-hum.


Shooting our friends: After Trump’s G-7 Summit Fiasco, Be Afraid.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin properly calls out Trump’s behavior at the G7 meeting “atrocious and irrational”. But as we saw starting out, Putin would be very, very happy – so maybe irrational is not accurate. Rubin find’s her footing:

“Trump demonstrated once again that he is erratic and untrustworthy — with his own allies! The contrast between his antagonistic relationship with democratic allies and his never saying a bad word about Russia defies explanation, unless one is to buy into the theory that he is indebted in some fashion to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose campaign to interfere in the U.S. elections helped land Trump in the White House.”

before lowering the boom:

“Trump’s Republican enablers, who ridiculed liberal Democrats for coddling dictators and ignoring allies (ah, the good old days when they groused, inaccurately, about the return of a Churchill bust!), should see what their groveling has wrought. They now back a president who does not put America or the West first. A Manchurian candidate could not show greater fealty to Russia nor more diligence in helping Russia pursue its goals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who refuses to consider reclaiming Congress’s role in trade, will see the consequences that flow from his and his fellow Republicans’ neglect of their constitutional obligations. Republicans have rejected their obligation to restrain an unfit executive and lessen the damage by reasserting Congress’s rightful power in areas such as trade. They are now Trump’s facilitators in his apparent desire to blow up the international world order — the world order America helped created and has always led. In that sense, McConnell, too, is helping, wittingly or not, to make Russia great again.”

Trump – our Manchurian candidate. A new world alliance – U.S., China and Russia. Even Fox News slipped and offered a gem of truth in advance of the summit in Singapore, as Fox & Friends host Abby Huntsman said, “..regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators – what we are seeing right now, this is historic”.

Trump may well have given Democrats two huge advantages for the mid-term elections:

1) threatening the ACA mandate to protect pre-existing medical conditions, and;

2) creating a trade war with our allies that takes money out of the pockets of his supporters.

Meanwhile, Mueller’s charges against a Russian spy that was part of Trump’s campaign… We have no idea where we’d be without Mueller, though — in a measure of the times — we aren’t quite sure where we are with Mueller.

(Commoner Call carton and photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to )