Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Thursday, July 13, 2017

This TrumpWorld Grab-Bag Has Background Noise

Now, I try and say that my TrumpWorld Grab-Bag posts aren't intended to set up a case, so much as to review information that is coming to light--and I am not really pulling for a conclusion, here. It's just that sometimes, the evidence becomes so apparent that it's hard not to stay away from drawing conclusions, such as: If Donald Trump Jr. brought campaign manager Paul Manafort and digital campaign guy Jared Kushner (and also--brother-in-law) to his meetup with Natalya Veselnitskaya, then I can't imagine why candidate Trump would not have been informed. Even if this meeting wasn't necessarily fruitful--it opened the door to the campaign continuing to meet with Russians who represented themselves as having the good dirt. Because they set a precedent. They decided receiving information from a sometimes hostile power was ok. 

I want to clarify what I'm talking about when I say "hostile". Some pro-Trump arguments lead with the idea that what Trump has done could not possibly be "treason" by virtue of our not being in any declared war with Russia. I think this is a reasonable argument, but I also can't help but note that there is evidence of cyberwarfare. Russian operatives, identified as APT 28 and APT 29 ("Advanced persistent threat") have engaged in invasive attacks on the State Department in 2014, in 2015 & 2016 the DNC, and also the DCCC. They've tested out the infrastructure of our democracy and also things like our power grid. This is called "cyberwarfare"; they are doing it with the intent to disrupt our way of living and doing business. These kinds of attacks can be used to leverage individuals via kompromat or blackmail-worthy information, or they can be used by taking material out of context and weaponizing it by altering some of the data (active measures) and releasing it through friendly media sources to create influence. Doing these sorts of things are not intended for the benefit of the victimized country. Russia did not (damn near openly) support Donald Trump because they thought he'd be a brilliant US leader. They saw him as either a potential puppet, or a great stupid foil.  Because, Trump is not a professional. 

The point of cyber warfare is to disrupt--think of a better disruption of a country than a campaign to support a fake news-supporting, mainstream media deriding, race relations agitating, serial liar with vindictiveness woven into his warped idea of how government works.  Trump has expressed denial regarding the idea that Russian president Putin preferred him, but I can imagine no reality where Trump was not aware of Russian influence and Trump's behavior also suggests he either knew or suspected he was benefitting from their aid. Probably from the moment he announced he was running for POTUS. It also seems likely that his campaign knowingly used material obtained by the Russian hacks--which is something that puts Jared Kushner, who oversaw the digital operations of the campaign, in the spotlight.

It is possible that people in the Trump orbit were not entirely aware of the dire nature of the relationship between the campaign and Russia--but certainly there were enough old hands on deck who should have known this was not normal. And in the gradual release of information that clarifies this relationship, it becomes apparent that everyone must have known something was off because they kept lying about whether such contacts between the campaign and Russian representatives existed at all. It also seems significant that Trump himself,  and media apologists at, for example, Fox News, have moved on from "never happened" to "if it did, so what?" But this is dumb, because Putin is not, and is unlikely to become, a good ally to the US.  And when Trump officials like Seb Gorka suggest that getting dirt is just what campaigns do, it might be conditionally true that some people would be willing to accept the risk of foreign influence--but is that really what "high-quality" people do? 

In other news, articles of impeachment against Trump have now been filed regarding his apparent obstruction of justice. But, given the tenor of GOP response to the Trump shambles, I don't have a lot of hope this will go anywhere.


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