Clearly, This Is Never Going To Stop Until The News Media Gets What It Wants, Or Loses All Credibility…

[ I cannot begin to express how much I resent having to keep writing posts on this topic.]

The New York Times  has reported  that a Russian lawyer ( Various reports use the intentionally sinister addition “with ties to state-owned enterprises and to a senior government official.” which simply means that the lawyer had represented them. This isexactly  like saying that a criminal defense lawyer “has ties to the mob”because he once represented a gangster. It is despicable journalism, biased and misleading) met with Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort and the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, having been told that she could offer access to negative information about Hillary Clinton. The three members of the Trump campaign quickly discovered that she could not, and wanted to lobby the group on another matter.

Don Jr. said in a statement that he had met with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at the request of an acquaintance and denied that he received any information on Clinton.

“After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton,” he said. “Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

Trump Jr. added that Veselnitskaya  changed the subject and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and moved the conversation towards the Magnitsky Act, the  2012 bill that blocks certain Russian officials’ entrance to the U.S. and their use of the U.S. banking system. “It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” he concluded.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Yet all the news stations and news sites are treating this like it is a smoking gun, proof of impeachable offenses by Donald Trump and crimes by his campaign. There is wall to wall coverage, and it is, based on what we know thus far, nothing at all but anti-Trump hype and more of the apparently endless effort by the news media and Democrats to keep the Russian collusion narrative going without any genuine fuel.

I was saddened to see Richard Painter, a solid legal ethicist who has helped drive traffic away from my favorite ethics site by turning it into his own personal Trump attack page with over-heated theories obviously cooked up by a brain derailed by a Trump obsession. On MSNBC , Richard fumed,

“This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States. We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason. . . . If this story is true, we’d have one of them if not both of them in custody by now, and we’d be asking them a lot of questions. This is unacceptable. This borders on treason, if it is not itself treason.”

This guy was once a rational lawyer, believe it or not. Natalia Veselnitskaya was not “the Russians,” but a Russian. She was not a spy. The meeting and its original intent didn’t constitute a crime, and it was certainly not treason. There is probably not a Presidential campaign in the history of the United States that wouldn’t meet with someone whom they were told had devastating information about the opposing candidate. I’m really worried about Painter. This anti-Trump brain virus is virulent.

When I read about the story and saw Richard embarrassing himself, I immediately thought, “I bet Professor Turley is flipping out over this.” Well, Turley is always infuriatingly reserved, but he has shown great integrity as someone nauseated by the President in slapping down these kinds of  hysterical reports and analysis; he didn’t exactly flip out, but his reaction was as I thought it would be on his blog, Res Ipsa Loquitur:

I am afraid that I have to continue my record as something of a “buzz kill” on these stories. There is not a clear criminal act in such a meeting based on the information that we have. Moreover, it is not necessarily unprecedented….I tend to view these things through the lens of a criminal defense attorney and I do not see how either Trump Jr. or Natalia Veselnitskaya  could be put into “custody” for such a meeting.  There is no crime in listening to people who say that they have incriminating information on a political opponent, even a foreigner.  Article III defines treason as “levying War against [the United States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”  To say that this type of meeting even borders on treason is quite a departure from the language and cases governing that crime. Moreover, it is hardly shocking to see a willingness to gather dirt during that election..None of this excuses the slime machine that runs 24/7 in Washington.  People in the beltway regularly traffic in dirt — it is the currency of our time.  It has been for some time.  Indeed, the Federalists and Jeffersonians actively and openly sought scandalous material to use against each other…

Unless there is more (and this is worthy of investigation), I see nothing close to treason or a crime in this account.  That obviously does not fit with the breathless accounts given the story but the criminal code is not a code of political etiquette.

Whew! Thank you, Professor; I was watching and reading about this as stern faced “resistance”-trained talking heads made it sound as if they had discovered that Trump had been brainwashed by  KGB hold-overs and was the Siberian Candidate, and thinking, “What’s wrong with me? I don’t see anything here!”

There isn’t anything here. But then CNN and the rest don’t need anything to bombard the public with suspicion- and distrust-seeding news stories designed to undermine the President. All they need is for the Anti-Trump Brain Virus to spread, with well-meaning victims like Richard Painter to spread it.

____________________

Facts: Res Ipsa Loquitur

92 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

92 responses to “Clearly, This Is Never Going To Stop Until The News Media Gets What It Wants, Or Loses All Credibility…

  1. charlesgreen

    Nobody that I read claimed this was “proof of impeachable offenses;” when you claim “all the news stations and news sites” are saying so, you’re being more hyperbolic than the sites you’re critiquing.

    What IS true is that, time and again, folks like Trump’s son in law “forgot to mention” that a meeting happened. When it turns out to have indeed happened, the excuse then becomes “but it didn’t amount to anything.”

    The stories change like chameleons: first it was just about adoptions. Then when it turns out that Manafort, Don Jr. AND Jared all turned up for a meeting on adoptions, oh, well maybe it was about collecting dirt. But of course it ended up harmless.

    Really? This triumvirate all show up to get dirt from a Russian operative who’s active in the anti-sanctions business – and everybody ‘forgets’ that that meeting happened? Until the Times smokes them out, that is. Come on.

    There is a very simple way out of this: just put it all out there, come clean. Stop fighting at every little turn. At this point, the Trump White House has nobody to blame but themselves for the feeding frenzy – the amount of chum they’re throwing in the water is amazing.

    • Thank you Charles, for your response. Let me add this… Jack quoting Donald Jr. and then appending it with, “That’s it. That’s the whole thing.”

      I have yet to see anyone in the Trump family come out with the “whole thing.” That’s what the media is for, I guess, pulling teeth.

      • fattymoon

        Why oh why do The Trumpets forever shift their stories regarding all things Russian? That’s my big question. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-trump-russians-20170710-story.html

      • Seriously, and I mean this with love: get help. People are not presumed to be guilty of crimes absent evidence because you don’t like them, and headlines are no supposed to consist of biased assumptions and innuendos.

        The media is not for partisan vendetta and smear campaigns. But that’s what it is about now. Someone who cares about liberty and justice should be concerned about that whoever its current targets are, and not to be is the mark of hypocrisy.

        • fattymoon

          Funny, Jack, I was just thinking the same thing. Get help. Cause you’re going to need it when the big fall comes.

          You well know where I stand on The Trumpets. (And the Clintons and the Democrats and the Republicans and most anybody/everybody involved in politics today.) The media, in my eyes, are the least culpable in the entire slime pit.

          • Because you are blindfolded, my friend. You sound like one of those prophets in Times Square carrying “the end is near” signs. And why would I need help “when the big fall comes”, unless that big fall is the leftist totalitarian regime you seem to be seeking? That description is itself suspicious. My stake in whether this President succeeds or fails is no different from anyone else. My stake in seeing that anarchists and self-righteous leftists don’t restrict my liberty and rights is tremendous, as is yours, though you don’t seem to grasp that. Hence the need for the intervention.

            About half the public has managed to cope with a President they didn’t vote for since the US began, but only THIS losing segment has continued to whine and screamed about it. That would tell you something, if you were seeing clearly.

            • fattymoon

              My aim is true (Elvis Costello).

              For me, the utter failure of the Obama administration to fight the good fight was my very last straw. Political corruption is so rampant in this country that there is no hope for redemption. Thus, I call for revolution. Throw ’em all out. Start over. Starting with The Trumpets.

              • Candor is ethical. Thanks.

              • Fatty,

                Civil war is the worst sort. If Vietnam played out in our living rooms, civil war will play out in our front yards. If that ‘revolution’ comes, many will not survive. The mere breakdown of the food supply chain would doom millions to starvation or violent death withing a few weeks.

                You might have a year’s supply of groceries stashed away, but how will you defend it from starving raiders who will do anything to feed their children?

                Careful what you wish for, my friend.

                • fattymoon

                  I get that, Slick. I see a national catharsis brewing which will mushroom and finally explode as the gang that couldn’t shoot straight is run out of town. The national cleansing will hurt like all hell. As you said, many will die, the guilty and the innocent. I’m sorry, man, but the collective we have brought down what’s to come. I suggest you get ready as best you can.

    • Yes. Because “coming clean” (assuming there’s a actual dirt that’s needs cleaning) will calm down the leftist effort to undo the American system. Sure.

    • Words matter, Charlie! I quite carefully wrote, not that news sources “claimed this was “proof of impeachable offenses;” as you wrote, but that “all the news stations and news sites are treating this LIKE it is a smoking gun, proof of impeachable offenses by Donald Trump and crimes by his campaign.”

      See the difference? Because it’s material. They are treating nothing as a “scandal” and using that word, by making it THE news and front page stuff. They are only doing this as part of the “Get Trump” effort, and “Get Trump,” as the Democrats have been open about, means “find a way to impeach him”

      The story so far: the President’s son had a meeting with a Russian Lawyer, in the US legally, after being told that she had dirt on Hillary Clinton. She didn’t.

      FRONT PAGE! HOURS OF NEWS COVERAGE! Why?

      The Trump administration has nobody to blame but itself the the news media is hyping non-stories with innuendoes of wrong-doing? I guess so: for daring to be elected.

      The news media is 100% responsible for its own unethical and unprofessional conduct. Nothing justifies it. And you know that.

      • Chris

        Words matter, Charlie! I quite carefully wrote, not that news sources “claimed this was “proof of impeachable offenses;” as you wrote, but that “all the news stations and news sites are treating this LIKE it is a smoking gun, proof of impeachable offenses by Donald Trump and crimes by his campaign.”

        …With absolutely no evidence presented that they have done so.

        See the difference? Because it’s material. They are treating nothing as a “scandal”

        But it isn’t “nothing.” Even your Turley quote says it’s worth investigating. Do people usually investigate “nothing?” No, they investigate things that are potentially incriminating, which this obviously is.

        The story so far: the President’s son had a meeting with a Russian Lawyer, in the US legally, after being told that she had dirt on Hillary Clinton. She didn’t.

        FRONT PAGE! HOURS OF NEWS COVERAGE! Why?

        Because that is NOT the whole story, as Charles just explained to you. You’re leaving out the fact that Trump Jr. first denied any such meeting, as did Kushner. You’re leaving out that Trump Jr. has since changed his story twice in two days. You’re leaving out that this is part of a pattern of Trump’s people “forgetting” about meetings with Russians, then forgetting the contents of those meetings, then changing their story. Why?

        The news media is 100% responsible for its own unethical and unprofessional conduct. Nothing justifies it. And you know that.

        You have yet to show any evidence that the news media covering is covering THIS particular story unfairly. You seem to be implying that they should not be covering this story at all, which is absurd, and can’t be your position. Yet another member of Trump’s inner circle lying about meeting with a Russian lawyer cannot possibly be unworthy of coverage, unless you are bound and determined to ignore any and all indication of wrongdoing on behalf of the Trump campaign.

        • That you think front page coverage of no crime, no scandal, and nothing that implicates the President in actual wrongdoing does make you a perfect target for this story, but all that proves is confirmation bias.

          You’ll have to show me any account that said Trump Jr. denied the meeting at any time. The WSJ doesn’t report that. I think that’s spin. Trump Jr initially said what the meeting involved without saying why he agreed to it.

          • Chris

            That you think front page coverage of no crime, no scandal, and nothing that implicates the President in actual wrongdoing does make you a perfect target for this story, but all that proves is confirmation bias.

            It isn’t nothing, and it is a potential scandal, for the reasons I’ve already explained. Let me try again:

            1) There is currently a special prosecutor conducting an active investigation into possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign.
            2) Multiple Trump campaign officials have previously denied meeting with Russian individuals during the campaign, then made false claims about the content of those meetings once the existence of those meetings was revealed.
            3) It turns out that Donald Trump Jr. also denied the existence of such a meeting, then made false claims about the content of that meeting. Other Trump campaign officials mentioned in #2 were also present.

            This is front page news because it *should* be, Jack. I don’t understand why you think it shouldn’t be. Here, maybe this will help: imagine if Hillary’s campaign did it.

            You’ll have to show me any account that said Trump Jr. denied the meeting at any time. The WSJ doesn’t report that. I think that’s spin. Trump Jr initially said what the meeting involved without saying why he agreed to it.

            He denied having ever met with any Russian individual for a meeting related to the campaign in an interview with NYT back in March:

            “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. … But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”

            This was, at best, deceptive. Trump Jr. now says he went to the meeting with the intent of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton. Even assuming he’s telling the truth now, and no such dirt was presented, it’s still misleading for him to say that he did not attend any meeting representing the campaign.

            • 1) There is currently a special prosecutor conducting an active investigation into possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign.

              An investigation doesn’t imply guilt, and this investigation was politically palnted.

              2) Multiple Trump campaign officials have previously denied meeting with Russian individuals during the campaign, then made false claims about the content of those meetings once the existence of those meetings was revealed.

              An an exaggeration, as in the case of Jeff sessions, who was not a Trump official, and “Russina individuals” are not the Russian government. You mean Flynn, say so, And that was a scandal.

              3) It turns out that Donald Trump Jr. also denied the existence of such a meeting, then made false claims about the content of that meeting. Other Trump campaign officials mentioned in #2 were also present.

              Not a fair description of what Trump, Jr, said. He confirmed the meeting the same day it was raised to him by the WSJ.

              • Chris

                1) There is currently a special prosecutor conducting an active investigation into possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign.

                An investigation doesn’t imply guilt, and this investigation was politically palnted.

                Would you stop with this strawman argument? I never said or implied anything like “An investigation implies guilt.” I said, essentially, “An investigation implies news.” The media can, does, and should report on active investigations into presidential campaigns, and it can, does, and should keep Americans up to date on issues that may impact those investigations. If you think Mueller won’t take this secret meeting into account and investigate it further, you’re nuts.

                You’ve shown no indication that any mainstream news outlet has taken this secret meeting as “implying guilt.” But it is newsworthy.

                2) Multiple Trump campaign officials have previously denied meeting with Russian individuals during the campaign, then made false claims about the content of those meetings once the existence of those meetings was revealed.

                An an exaggeration, as in the case of Jeff sessions, who was not a Trump official, and “Russina individuals” are not the Russian government. You mean Flynn, say so, And that was a scandal.

                No, I mean Flynn, and Kushner, and now Don Jr. But leaving out Sessions seems silly; he may not have been working for the Trump campaign in an official capacity at the time of the meetings he originally said never happened, but is that really a reason to discount them from the pattern we see here?

                Not a fair description of what Trump, Jr, said. He confirmed the meeting the same day it was raised to him by the WSJ.

                As I just showed you, he previously denied having ever met with anyone from Russia on a campaign-related meeting. Of course he confirmed the meeting once its existence was already confirmed–what would be the point of lying about it at that point?

                • 1. What? The issue is whether an investigation is a legitimate front page issue. It’s not, UNLESS the idea is to suggest guilt. Which is exactly what the intent is.

                  2. “he may not have been working for the Trump campaign in an official capacity at the time of the meetings he originally said never happened, but is that really a reason to discount them from the pattern we see here?”

                  Like Senator McCaskill, Sessions wasn’t taking the questions about contact with Russians as applying to meetings with the Russian ambassador in the course of his job.

                  3. You means, “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. … But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.” ?

                  I read that as a denial that he met with representatives of the Russian government, but as confirming that did meet with Russians, and that he was representing the campaign when he did. That’s misleading , but not necessarily untrue. Presumably he invited Manafort to represent the campaign. Was Jr. an official member of the campaign, or just a family member trying to help his Dad? The distinction matters: I don’t know the answer.

                  • Chris

                    . What? The issue is whether an investigation is a legitimate front page issue. It’s not, UNLESS the idea is to suggest guilt.

                    We will never agree with this, and I’m not even convinced you believe it yourself. You’re saying updates on the Clinton e-mail investigation were not a legitimate front page issue? I think they were.

                    3. You means, “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. … But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.” ?

                    I read that as a denial that he met with representatives of the Russian government, but as confirming that did meet with Russians, and that he was representing the campaign when he did.

                    It literally says the opposite of that.

              • Chris

                and “Russina individuals” are not the Russian government.

                The emails released today by Trump Jr. clearly show that he believed the lawyer in question to be affiliated with the Russian government, and that this was part of a campaign by the Russian government to support his father.

                http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/07/11/donald-trump-jr-releases-alleged-email-chain-regarding-russian-meeting.html

                So, at best, members of the Trump campaign attempted to collude with a foreign government to influence the election.

      • Aleksei

        I think everyone should watch the movie “Absence of Malice” with Paul Newman. I just watched it recently, and seems like all the big media outfits were leaked a file to start a bogus investigation. And they got caught doing it multiple times. Of course the victim is trust in journalism and respect for the presidency. The only thing that didn’t happen is that the responsible parties don’t face any visible consequences, with all the great ratings and whatnot. I do empathize with your fatigue on the topic of the media. I usually enjoy this topic, but it’s so persistent, that it is beaten to death. It is important to continue though, to record this egregious behavior, to call it out.

    • I had bacon and eggs for breakfast.

      Some people don’t talk about some things because those things don’t matter. The problem here is that some people think this Russian thing matters. Some don’t. Instead of just coming up with speculative situations and then beating them to death with hyperbole, what the investigative reporters need to do is stop speculating and come up with some real juice. Work it all out and when there is a story, run it. It’s not Trump et. al’s job to keep defending themselves except when there is something to defend. This is all becoming gossip central.

      I think the gist of this post was “treason” not “proof of impeachable offenses.”

      • Chris

        Sure, but if you say “I never had bacon and eggs with anyone from Russia,” and then you say “I did, but we didn’t talk about the campaign,” and then you say “I went there to talk about the campaign, but the Russian didn’t actually give me any good info,” you are going to cast suspicion on yourself.

        And if you do all this while your campaign is being investigated for possible collusion with the Russians, you don’t get to use “The Russia thing doesn’t matter” as an excuse for not disclosing this info from the beginning.

    • “What IS true is that, time and again, folks like Trump’s son in law “forgot to mention” that a meeting happened. When it turns out to have indeed happened, the excuse then becomes “but it didn’t amount to anything.””

      “Like, with a rag?”

      “Have you, or have you not, ever talked to someone from Russia?”

      I have to admit, this whole topic is starting to push the limits of my endurance. I find it adorable that the same people that carried water for Clinton during her server fiasco are now so deeply concerned about digging in to the truth. A demographic that took pains to keep itself blissfully ignorant about the law surrounding classifications and FOIA all of a sudden have newfound and profound insight to the nature of treason, of all things. And color me just absolutely surprised (I think that’s a faintly orangey-yellow hue) that this just so happens to fall out along partisan lines. It’s almost like you don’t have any actual principles except “Whatever my guys do is good, and whatever your guys do is bad”. Blind, Partisan, and Bitter is a bad way to go through life, son.

      Now before someone accuses me of something similar…. The difference as I see it is that there isn’t any juice here. With Clinton… James Comey seems to have rewritten standards in law and twisted himself into a pretzel to avoid pressing charges… “She didn’t mean to do it” Had never before been successfully used to avoid responsibility… But that is ultimately irrelevant, having classified information on the server was a symptom of having the server, and the reason the server existed was to foil FOIA. Foiling FOIA doesn’t have criminal charges attached to it, so no one really cared, but it was by far the more serious issue. Anyone who carried water for Clinton should be permanently estopped from ever purporting to care about transparency in government ever again. I’m just saying.

      With Trump…. People around him seem to have met with some Russians at a time when meeting Russians wasn’t seen as a bad thing (in fact, there were people concerned that because of the bad relationship between Clinton and Putin (Her: “He’s Soulless.”, Him: “Well, at least I have a brain.” Real quotes.), and thought that dealing with Russia might prevent further deterioration and hostilities. I remember doomsayers talking about WWIII, which I thought was hyperbolic, but it was still being said.), and then lied about it when it became politically embarrassing to have done so.

      So what… We care about honesty? Well how about honestly defining the issue? What’s the best case scenario for TDS sufferers?

      Russians “hacked” the DNC Email servers (not the election, because no one is asserting that an election machine was hacked), and released their findings to the population at large. They told the American public the truth. They did it illegally… But if the reactions to Snowden, Manning or Assange were any indicator, that’s never bothered you before. But I admit, it’s illegal, and if we ever figure out who did it, they should answer for it. But that’s beside the point! We can’t have the American public learning the truth, right? The truth loses you elections.

      The best case for you… Is that the Russians who did this were State sponsored, and that as opposed to doing this because Putin hates Clinton (which he does) or because Putin thought Clinton was going to win, and he was interested in an unstable government (My working theory, pre election), he did this as a favor to Trump, in order to entice him into reducing sanctions on Russia. But there is no evidence that Trump knew this before the DNC was hacked, so… We we’re relying on an unspoken quid pro quo?

      • Clear, concise and correct. Just one problem. It’ll never break through the wall of hate.

        • That last sentence is why the media pounces on any connection to anyone Russian, they’re desperate to find evidence that someone attached to Trump actually quid pro’d a quo. It is literally the most blatant narrative in search of facts I’ve seen in my lifetime.

        • And what makes the “best case scenario” for the TDS crowd so unbelievable to me is that it means that Putin put all of Russia’s pysankas in the basket of Trump winning the election.

          If Putin was angling for sanctions on Russia to be put aside… And he did it by courting Trump which alienated Clinton, and then Clinton won… Which by all accounts she was on trajectory to do… It would be an unmitigated disaster from Putin’s perspective: He’d have spent political capital to alienate the largest world power and be no closer to having sanctions reduced. I don’t think Trump could logic himself out of a wet paper bag, but quite frankly Putin isn’t that stupid.

      • charlesgreen

        It’s instructive at a point like this to go back and read what was being said about Watergate in its early stages.

        Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s Press Secretary: “…dismissed the incident as “a third-rate burglary attempt,” adding, “Certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it is.”

        John Mitchell, Attorney General, regarding an early Watergate story in the Post: “”All that crap, you’re putting it in the paper? It’s all been denied. Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published. Good Christ! That’s the most sickening thing I ever heard.”

        Clark MacGregor, Nixon’s Campaign Chairman: “The Post’s “credibility has today sunk lower than that of George McGovern.”

        Bob Dole also attacked McGovern: when The Washington Post turned up more damaging stories on the break-in, Mr. Dole turned his attacks on the newspaper, which he called Mr. McGovern’s “partner in mudslinging.”

        It’s also instructive to remember they got Al Capone on tax evasion, not booze-running; they got Nixon on obstruction of justice, not burglary; and they got Clinton on perjury, not a job-related issue.

        If Trump gets ‘got,’ it’ll most likely be due to his own inept attempts to continually deny, obfuscate and throw shade at others, rather than doing what most innocent people would do – welcome the investigation.

        • Did you really just compare this to Watergate? Trump to Nixon? Did you really refer to the reason Clinton perjured himself as a *snerk* job related issue?

          Charles, if as someone who actually lived through Watergate you can’t see the obvious and glaring problems with your comparison, I don’t think anything I say can convince you otherwise. And If, by some fell happenstance you happen to be right, I’ll eat all kinds of humble pie….

          But until that happens, I will continue to think that sentiments similar to the ones you just presented are to use one of my favored parlances: bat shit insane.

          • (I realize that you weren’t saying that Clinton lied about his job related issue, but that the reason he was impeached wasn’t actually a job related issue… I just couldn’t help myself. I’m a weak willed person.)

          • charlesgreen

            Well, that is EXACTLY what people said at the early stages of Watergate.

            Of course, like they used to say about the stock market (“the market has correctly predicted seven of the last four recessions”), it’s quite possible this will turn out to NOT be another Watergate.

            My point was simply, that if it DOES turn out to be Watergate-like, it probably WON’T be because he actually colluded, but because he obstructed justice in an attempt to investigate collusion. That was Nixon’s downfall precisely. And in that one regard, I don’t find the comparison implausible at all.

            (In other regards, yes; Nixon had a first-rate mind for politics, both local and global, whereas Trump has a first-rate mind for reality TV).

            • :Nixon had a first-rate mind for politics, both local and global, whereas Trump has a first-rate mind for reality TV

              THIS.

              That there is funny, charles, and I don’t care who you are… res ipsa loquitor

        • It’s just not, Charles. Believing Watergate is even vaguely relevant is signature significance for anti-Trump bias. There was a politically motivated burglary by GOP operatives. That raised immediate questions of who paid for it, and whether the President knew about it. Immediately. That’s a prima facie case for an investigation and suspicion of high crimes right there.

          The Russian conspiracy theory is at least one whole, crucial step removed from that. If a RUSSIAN team of burglars broke into DNC headquarters, and there was a question about whether they did it on their own or whether Nixon was behind it, then you’d have a valid analogy. In Watergate you had direct agency and a party link, and the question was how far the agency reached. Not here.

          • charlesgreen

            Again remembering that it’s the coverup, not the crime, that gets you in trouble – nonetheless I’d say attempts by a hostile foreign power to hack a national election is at least a signature-significant as a domestic-political dirty tricks burglary.

            • Now now—come on…hacking the election and hacking the DNC are two different things. There is no evidence that the election was hacked in any way.

              • charlesgreen

                “There is no evidence that the election was hacked in any way.”

                I accept that you may have a particular definition of ‘hacking’ in mind, but how do you square that definition with this reporting (NYT July 6)

                “The Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the F.B.I. and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, all determined that Russia interfered in the election. Their work was compiled into a report, and a declassified version was released on Jan. 6 by the director of national intelligence. It said that all four agencies had “high confidence” that Russian spies had tried to interfere in the election on the orders of President Vladimir V. Putin.”

                • “Interfered with” isn’t “hacked.” Hacked suggests actual tampering with the election itself. It’s intentionally misleading terminology.

                  • Your patience is unequaled.

                    The incessant abuse of the term term “Election Hacking” after it has been extensively demonstrated to be dishonest would have blown my fuse as a moderator long ago.

                    • charlesgreen

                      OK, y’all have convinced me; “hacking” is a sufficiently precise (and useful) term that we should restrict it to situations where someone gets inside a system and maliciously tweaks it. That would suggest “hacked the election” is pretty much meaningful only if someone tweaked votes – and that does NOT appear to be the case.

                      So I can see saying “nobody hacked the election.” Fair point.

                      But then we need some other term to describe what the Russkies did. What do you call a systematic program of sowing suspicion, false accusations, disinformation, kompromat (to steal a phrase).

                      I’ll start the bidding with “fake news.” Oh wait, that one’s already been blown up beyond all usefulness. Too bad, because it would’ve been a good term, had Trump not massively mis-applied it to the press.

                      So we’re left still needing a word to describe what Russia did vis a vis the election: and it should be a word with as much negativity and opprobrium as “hacking.” Because it was not a benign thing.

                    • “false accusations, disinformation”

                      Huh? The substantive accusation involves passing on accurate info that Hillary and her operation, plus the Democrats, were corrupt and dishonest, which the public has a right to know BEFORE an election. It’s who did this, not what they did that is the problem. A US journalist who legally found the same stuff might win a Pulitzer.

                    • Chris

                      Jack, the intelligence community agrees that not only that Russia hack and release true information, but also that they engaged in a disinformation campaign on social media via promoting “fake news.”

                  • But then we need some other term to describe what the Russkies did. What do you call a systematic program of sowing suspicion, false accusations, disinformation, kompromat (to steal a phrase).

                    We could call it ‘CIAing.’ Or NSA, or any of our agencies that have done this over the years… to other countries. The truth of the information is irrelevant, the point is to destabilize the target, be that a dictator, a party, or an entire country.

                    Everyone does this, and America more than most (Russia and the former USSR were masters of this technique)

                    And that would be a rationalization, except I used it as a statement of fact.

                    What is comical is the hysteria the progressives are having over something they participate in routinely…

                    https://www.google.com/search?q=shocked+gambling+gif&rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS751US751&tbm=isch&imgil=iH_kiIycseBQiM%253A%253Bl2oRLQ1eARiLAM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fbbs.boingboing.net%25252Ft%25252Fgif-bank-for-the-bbs%25252F66050%25253Fpage%2525253D65&source=iu&pf=m&fir=iH_kiIycseBQiM%253A%252Cl2oRLQ1eARiLAM%252C_&usg=__AovLgzCmvhrNHlsIVTjEbmdHmKI%3D&biw=1904&bih=913&ved=0ahUKEwit677mvITVAhWY0YMKHeP5BV4QyjcIQQ&ei=BHhmWa3ZEpijjwTj85fwBQ#imgrc=iH_kiIycseBQiM:

                • Hacking in pretty much all contexts is a forceful breaking *into* a system for the purpose of directly modifying the process that leads to an end. The use of “Hacking” the election then clearly implies some physical adjustment of the process, and in an election’s case, can almost ONLY mean the actual changing of vote counts or the actual modification of cast votes.

                  The Russians DID *hack* into the DNC’s servers…like they attempted to hack the RNC’s, but apparently the RNC took those kinds of threats more seriously.

                  Hack, as you use it here, is dishonest (and I think you know that), and Jack has discussed such many times.

                  • Not sure that whatever the Russians did to the DNC would be considered ‘hacking’ in my world. It is not hacking when you get in through an open hole, or use a default password for access. That just shows how little the target cared for security.

                    The the DNC was this open shows how out of touch with reality they were. They cared more for the ideology of their IT security than the effectiveness.

      • “Russians “hacked” the DNC Email servers (not the election, because no one is asserting that an election machine was hacked), and released their findings to the population at large. They told the American public the truth. They did it illegally… But if the reactions to Snowden, Manning or Assange were any indicator, that’s never bothered you before. But I admit, it’s illegal, and if we ever figure out who did it, they should answer for it. But that’s beside the point! We can’t have the American public learning the truth, right? The truth loses you elections.”

        The best part of the Left’s melt down over ALL of this, is the shadenfreude deriving from the fact that this entire episode has, as a scenic backdrop, the revelation of Hillary incompetence and corruption.

  2. charlesgreen

    The difference between “claiming that X is an impeachable offense” and “treating it like it is proof of impeachable offenses” is, I confess, a distinction that is lost on me. And I gave it a good 60 seconds.

    As to “the story so far,” you omitted the part where Jared was supposed to list meetings with Russian officials – but didn’t list this one. Or the other. And also the part where Don Jr. switched his statement about the subject of the meeting.

    This keeps on happening…again and again…and you call this hyping of non-stories with innuendoes of wrong-doing? I don’t think so.

    For what it’s worth, my take so far is that apparently 1) there IS proof that the Russians hacked us; and 2) there is NO evidence thus far of collusion. But then there’s a whole lot of attempts by Trump to insist that the latter ‘proves’ there’s nothing to the former. This is an obviously false conflation. The former is real – the Russians clearly tried to influence the election.

    Trump could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble – still could, truth be told – if he’d simply say, “I totally support the investigation into the Russians’ hacking of our elections.” Period. The fact that at every turn, he and all his ilk simply refuse to do so, instead digging in their heels and insisting ‘there’s no proof,’ means they just succeed in making themselves look guiltier than perhaps they even really are.

    • Junkmailfolder

      If my wife were extremely mad at me, I might tell a friend that she’s acting like I murdered her mother. That would be materially different from telling my friend that my wife accused me of murdering her mother.

      • charlesgreen

        Yes, the former would be hyperbolic. Which was my original point.

        • Junkmailfolder

          And the latter is easily falsifiable. Jack never said that all the news sites were clamoring for impeachment, which is what you claimed.

          • charlesgreen

            Jack’s original claim: “all the news stations and news sites are treating this like it is a smoking gun, proof of impeachable offenses.”

            Again, I fail to see a meaningful distinction between that claim and the claim that “all the news sites [are] clamoring for impeachment.”

            And neither is true.

            • Junkmailfolder

              That was the point of my first comment. The former is opinion. The latter is a falsifiable statement. Jack may think that they’re being hyperbolic, and you may accuse him of being hyperbolic in his response to their perceived hyperbole (a common tactic, such as “don’t have a cow”), but the difference remains, and is, as you agreed earlier, material. Telling someone my neighbor is treating me like I ran over his dog is very different from telling someone my neighbor is accusing me of running over his dog.

    • “Trump could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble – still could, truth be told – if he’d simply say, “I totally support the investigation into the Russians’ hacking of our elections.” Period”

      What has happened since November that causes you to believe that this could or would happen?

      • charlesgreen

        “What has happened since November that causes you to believe that this could or would happen?”

        I don’t see any reason it couldn’t happen; however, I’d be shocked if it actually did happen. It would just be against everything our President has shown so far. It seems to me he is incapable of distinguishing, in his own mind, an investigation into hacking from a personal attack on his legitimacy.

        Seems to me everyone else is capable of making that distinction – he did after all get elected, totally fairly, and totally legitimately. Hence an investigation of Russian meddling shouldn’t be a reflection on his legitimacy – except in his own mind. So I’d be shocked if he suddenly changed and welcomed an investigation, instead of firing FBI directors and howling about fake news.

        • “Trump could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble – still could, truth be told – if he’d simply say, “I totally support the investigation into the Russians’ hacking of our elections.” Period”

          “I don’t see any reason it couldn’t happen; however, I’d be shocked if it actually did happen.”

          But… I mean…. Didn’t it happen? Wasn’t part of Comey’s testimony, specifically that Trump did say that to him? It just seems to me that words spoken without cameras rolling, corroborated by someone who had every reason to loathe him, MIGHT speak more loudly than alternatives.

        • Greg

          “an investigation of Russian meddling shouldn’t be a reflection on his legitimacy – except in his own mind.”

          Not just in Trump’s mind. In the minds of every anti-Trump partisan, the investigation is a reflection on his legitimacy. On the evidence available so far, there are certainly grounds to believe that it is a sham, not a true investigation into hacking at all but a hunt by Trump’s political enemies for dirt with which to smear him — and not even real dirt, just fake dirt of the sort that this NYT story is peddling. All of the leaks coming out of the investigation are about Donald Trump; none of them are about the supposed “sophisticated Russian cyber-campaign” itself. After a year of leaks, the only successful result of this campaign that has been revealed to the public is the childishly simple phishing attack on John Podesta’s email. If the investigation hasn’t produced more than this, shutting it down seems appropriate.

          By the way, this story is even more preposterous than most. Trump Jr was told that this Russian lawyer had evidence that Hillary’s campaign was being illegally financed by the Russians — I.e., that Hillary was colluding with the Russians. He met for 15 minutes with the lawyer, and somehow this is being spun as evidence of collusion by Trump. All of the anti-Trump hysterics who insist that Jr is lying and he really did get some dirt from the lawyer don’t seem to understand the contradiction in their own argument.

    • Donald not regarding this meeting as requiring a report would not be indicted or prosecuted under any rational scenario. It’s even less substantive than the multiple Hatch Act violations the Obama cabinet members engaged in, or Bill Clinton breaking election laws by approaching voters in the primaries. So no, that part of the story has nothing to do with the headlines or the hyping.

      I’m sure you would have figured the difference out with another minute or so. Treating the story LIKE is evidence of an impeachable offense is an innuendo, deceit, and scaremongering, deliberate spinning to harm the President. Actually claiming that it is impeachable would be stupid, and over-reach.

      Big difference, Charles. The news media is corrupt and biased, but it’s not completely incompetent.

      • charlesgreen

        “Donald not regarding this meeting as requiring a report would not be indicted or prosecuted under any rational scenario.”
        Agreed – but I didn’t say it was Donald who should have filed, it was Jared. Who IS under a prosecutable requirement, as I understand it.

        Re the difference between innuendo and outright claims, I agree the distinction, but I don’t see a lot of difference. You’re right, they’re not completely incompetent, but then neither are we: we can all intuit massive innuendo.

  3. Joe Fowler

    I’m still searching for a cogent explanation as to how Russian interests are better served with Trump as President. His energy policy alone is a catastrophe for the Russian economy (or “the Russian gas station” as McCain put it in one of his more lucid moments).

    • charlesgreen

      ” how Russian interests are better served with Trump as President.”
      A guess:
      1. The weakening of NATO
      2. The weakening of sanctions against Russia
      3. The lukewarm protest against Crimea and Ukraine actions
      4. “Legitimacy” on the world stage, huge PR benefits at home for Putin
      5. Destabilization of the US/China bilateral relationship

      • 6. He’s an irresponsible, intellectually lazy dummy. I’d say that helps Russia in most scenarios.

      • Joe Fowler

        1. Democratic talking point from Nov.2016. How has this happened? By Trump refusing to utter the magic words of NATO Article 5 in a sufficiently reassuring manner? Alliances change all the time; NATO may not be the best one for the US at this time. Europe may have to pony-up for it’s own defense.
        2. Congressional power grab arrogating to itself the ability to lift individual sanctions as part of a negotiation. Assuming you’re talking about Sec.12 of S.722, ‘Presidential Waiver Authority’, get ready for a Supreme Court level legal battle.
        3. Those ships sailed under our previous President, Charles.
        4. This is nonsense. Unmeasurable, subjective, emotional nonsense.
        5. From ‘The Diplomat’-4/11/17:
        ‘Of much greater alarm to China is the THAAD system, which was the object of stronger and more negative Chinese strategic messaging than any other U.S. actions in 2016. Beijing continues to employ strategic collaboration with Moscow, economic persuasion, and coercive diplomacy to dissuade (bully) Seoul from deploying THAAD and to place a wedge in the United States-Republic of Korea alliance. Success would be a huge victory for China’s regional strategy and a significant setback for U.S. regional influence.’
        Foreign policy requires greater depth of analysis than your 7 word statement implies. Destabilization works both ways.
        So you post a 5 talking point, knee jerk response that includes events that occurred under the previous President in response to my serious request for an explanation of why the Russians would think “Hooray! Trump!”, I cant say I’m surprised. I did ask for cogent. Could it be that you’re upset that Trump is not continuing Obama’s foreign policy (such as it was)? Maybe you’re unable to look at it objectively.

        • charlesgreen

          Joe, you have the advantage on me in certain substantive areas here. But not in terms of logic.

          Re your objection number one: the FACT of us declining to support NATO, and the consequent weakening of NATO, is an unambiguous positive for Russia, I would argue. That claim is at least responsive to your original question, whether you agree or not. But as to your responses, you’re trying to change the subject away from your own original question. Whether Europe has to pony up itself, or whether NATO is no longer good for us, is beside the point – beside your original point, that is.

          Re your Objection number four, wherein you decry as “nonsense” my claim that Putin would gain legitimacy in the world and PR gains at home, I refer you to the LA Times, headling: Russian media praises Putin’s prowess at G-20
          http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-russia-media-g20-story.html

          And if that’s not enough, this from FirstPost.com:
          Moscow: Russia’s pro-Kremlin media reacted triumphantly on Saturday to the first handshake and lengthy talks between President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump at the G20 meeting in Hamburg.

          The popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda headlined its front page “Putin and Trump found a way to peace in Syria and Ukraine” and devoted two pages to analysis of the leaders’ public handshake.

          “Look at Putin’s thumb. He is controlling the situation, setting its tone,” the paper wrote, calling this “the handshake that the whole world was really waiting for.”

          The Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid, which is sometimes critical of the Kremlin, compared the meeting to the historic joining of Soviet and American forces in Germany in April 1945, when US and Russian soldiers shook hands on the bridge of the River Elbe.

          How is this “nonsense?”

          • Joe Fowler

            Charles,
            There is a big difference between actually declining to support NATO, and notifying members that they are expected to live up to their end of the deal, or we MIGHT decline to support NATO. This has been threatened by each new administration – the brouhaha is that they fear that Trump could really MEAN IT.
            The press accounts you cite are certainly examples of pro-Putin propaganda; do you think they would have criticized him if Hilary had gone to the G-20? Did you really read a 2 page account of Putin’s thumb placement during a handshake?

            • Joe Fowler

              Wanted to add-do you ever wonder why the reporting on things like your point: “2. The weakening of sanctions against Russia”, never link to any source documents? In this case S.722. Which is a freely available document, as a Senate Bill. Do you think the reporter has read, and understood the law as proposed, and how it is a change from the existing law? Do you think the reporter is attempting to sway opinion in the framing of the story?

    • Chris

      Have you been asleep the past few days, Joe? Did you miss Trump echoing Putin’s denial of Russian hacking, saying that he and Putin were considering a “joint cyber security unit,” thereby rewarding him for the attack he denied? The idea that Trump is not overly favorable to Putin is insane at this point.

      • Surely, after all this time, you can’t possibly think that what Trump says has anything to do with what he thinks, believes or does.

        • You forget the prime directive of Anti-Trump spin: if Trump says something that can be seen as positive, it’s a lie because Trump is a despicable monster or it’s incoherent because Trump is an abject buffoon. If Trump says something that can be spun as a negative, it’s gospel truth and of paramount ludicity.

      • Joe Fowler

        “The idea that Trump is not overly favorable to Putin is insane at this point.”
        No, it isn’t Chris. I get where you stand on Trump, but he is anything but guileless.

  4. Inquiring Mind

    Yet Trump is also pushing for American natural gas exports to Poland, and seeking American energy dominance…

    Which combine for a far more deadly one-two punch to Russia than the sanctions would be, by not only driving down the price of oil and natural gas, but also having AMERICAN natural gas displace Russian exports to Poland and Eastern Europe, this taking away Russia’s market share.

    • Joe Fowler

      “this taking away Russia’s market share.” – and a major lever of influence over the economies of those countries.

      • Inquiring Mind

        What stooge of Russia would pursue such a course?

        Of course, this makes Trump guilty of crimes against the environment…

  5. wyogranny

    Honestly, after everything that has happened since November, taking into account my mistrust of Trump and my disgust with his social media sickness, I think he’s doing a decent job. He is starting to sound presidential in his speeches and he’s doing things that need to be done. On balance I’m finding it easier to respect him as president.

  6. Other Bill

    A good chuckle:

    CHUCK SCHUMER: “A word on the revelation that President Trump’s son, son-in-law, and campaign manager met with a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin under the pretext of discussing information that would be damaging to Sec. Clinton’s campaign. This revelation should be the end of the idea that there is no evidence of intent by the Trump campaign to coordinate or collude [with Russia].

    It is certainly not proof positive. We don’t know what was said in the meeting. But these reports in the press at least demand further investigation.

    In the height of a very very heated campaign, three people very close to the President and at the helm of that campaign, we’re all going to a meeting with the Russian lawyer to discuss Russian adoption. And indeed Donald Trump has now admitted — after he first said the purpose of the meeting was adoption — that he agreed to meet to get potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee has already indicated that it will look into the possibility of coordination of collusion as part of their broader investigation. This meeting and the background behind it should be included in future document requests, and additional lines of inquiry. After providing documents to the intelligent committee Donald Trump Jr. must also testify before the committee to explain why three of the highest level members of the Trump administration thought it was appropriate to meet with a Russian source to receive any information about a political opponent. We’re talking about the well being and pride of our democracy — free and fair elections without interference.

    When a President of the United States is unwilling to forcibly defend our democracy. it’s a violation of our sovereignty face to face with his chief adversary. When we continue to learn of additional meetings between his campaign and Russian sources. when we hear that the White House is actively working to water down or stall a bill of tough Russian sanctions, we in Congress need to step up and defend the vital interests of our country. Both parties should be united in that effort because at least for now the president seems unwilling to do so.”

    Hilarious.

    • Chris

      Why is it funny?

      Do you also find it funny that today, Don Jr. released emails proving he attempted to collude with the Russian government to influence the election in his father’s favor?

      • They don’t show that, Chris. They don’t show what he believed, or that he violated any law. It does show that he was careless and naive. It shows that he was willing to accept damaging information about his opponent, as any campaign would , and has.

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