Saturday, February 3, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He declared himself vindicated by the Nunes memo.

It came as little surprise that Trump's pre-golf Twitter rant this morning was about the so-called Nunes memo, but his conclusion--that it "totally vindicates 'Trump'"--was a breathtaking lie even by Trump's standards.

The memo, which Nunes refuses to say the White House had no role in writing, seeks to cast the FBI's investigation of former Trump policy advisor Carter Page as politically motivated. Even taking that at face value (and ignoring the fact that Trump-appointed officials themselves renewed the surveillance warrant against Page), Page is still only one thread in the sprawling tapestry of unexplained and suspicious connections between Trump, the Trump campaign, and the Putin regime.

Among other things, the memo does not address why Jared Kushner enlisted Russian authorities to use their own spy communications network to avoid detection by American intelligence agencies during the transition, why Blackwater founder and Betsy DeVos' brother Erik Prince tried to establish a "backchannel" communication between Trump and Putin officials in the Seychelles, why so many Trump officials (including Kushner, Jefferson Sessions, Michael Flynn and Page's fellow foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos) denied and then later admitted to secret meetings with Russian officials, why Flynn and Papadopoulos thought it was so important to conceal those meetings that they risked (and eventually suffered) prosecution for lying to the FBI, what role Trump himself played in crafting the false "adoption" cover story Donald Trump Jr. used to explain away his Trump Tower meeting with Russian agents when he was seeking "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, why Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor Papadopoulos knew enough about Russia's political dossier on Clinton to drunkenly brag about it to an Australian diplomat in May of 2016, why both Eric and Donald Trump Jr. publicly boasted about the massive and "pretty disproportionate" Russian investment in the Trump Organization before suddenly denying it afterwards, what was the exact nature of the real estate transaction that saw a Russian oligarch buy a mansion from Trump at about $50 million over market value before tearing it down having never lived in it, how Trump came to have Paul Manafort--a man whose chief business in life had been acting as a political fixer for a pro-Putin puppet government in Ukraine--run his campaign, why Trump as nominee insisted that the Republican party alter its platform to a more neutral position regarding Russia's seizure of Ukrainian territory, why he refused to implement sanctions against Russia after Congress voted by a 517-5 margin to impose them in retaliation for Russia's election interference, why he remains essentially the only person in any non-Russian government to deny that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, why he is more willing to take Vladimir Putin's word on the matter than his entire national security apparatus (including the urgent warnings of his own hand-picked CIA head), why he publicly begged Russia to release embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton, to what extent he knew about his close confidant Roger Stone's connections to Wikileaks and the Russian hacker known as Guccifer 2.0, or why convicted felon and longtime Trump business associate Felix Sater wrote in 2015 to Trump's lawyer to brag about his Putin contacts and saying that "Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it, I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process." Among other things.

This is not the first time that Trump has declared himself "vindicated" by Nunes personally, nor would it be the first time that Nunes' "vindication" was actually authored by the White House and then released through Nunes.

Why does this matter?

  • Declaring yourself innocent is not the same thing as being innocent.