Archive for Saturday, July 15, 2017

Opinion: Incompetent collusion is still collusion, folks

July 15, 2017

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— The Russia scandal has entered a new phase and there’s no going back.

For six months, the White House claimed that this scandal was nothing more than innuendo about Trump campaign collusion with Russia in meddling in the 2016 election. Innuendo for which no concrete evidence had been produced.

Yes, there were several meetings with Russian officials, some only belatedly disclosed. But that is circumstantial evidence at best. Meetings tell you nothing unless you know what happened in them. We didn’t. Some of these were casual encounters in large groups like the famous July 2016 Kislyak-Sessions exchange of pleasantries at the Republican National Convention. Big deal.

I was puzzled. Lots of cover-up, but where was the crime? Not even a third-rate burglary. For six months, smoke without fire. Yes, President Trump himself was acting very defensively, as if he were hiding something. But no one ever produced the something.

My view was: Collusion? I just don’t see it. But I’m open to empirical evidence. Show me.

The evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. A British go-between writes that there’s a Russian government effort to help Trump Sr. win the election, and as part of that effort he proposes a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” possessing damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Moreover, the Kremlin is willing to share troves of incriminating documents from the Crown Prosecutor. (Error: Britain has a Crown Prosecutor. Russia has a State Prosecutor.)

Donald Jr. emails back. “I love it.” Fatal words.

Once you’ve said “I’m in,” it makes no difference that the meeting was a bust, that the intermediary brought no such goods. What matters is what Donald Jr. thought going into the meeting, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who were copied on the correspondence, invited to the meeting, and attended.

“It was literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame,” Donald Jr. told Sean Hannity. A shame? On the contrary, a stroke of luck. Had the lawyer real stuff to deliver, Donald Jr. and the others would be in far deeper legal trouble. It turned out to be incompetent collusion, amateur collusion, comically failed collusion. That does not erase the fact that three top Trump campaign officials were ready to play.

It may turn out that they did later collaborate more fruitfully. We don’t know. But even if nothing else is found, the evidence is damning.

It’s rather pathetic to hear Trump apologists protesting that it’s no big deal because we Americans are always intervening in other people’s elections, and they in ours. You don’t have to go back to the 1940s and 1950s when the CIA intervened in France and Italy to keep the communists from coming to power. What about the Obama administration’s blatant interference to try to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu in the latest Israeli election? One might even add the work of groups supported by the U.S. during Russian parliamentary elections — the very origin of Vladimir Putin’s deep animus toward Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, whom he accuses of having orchestrated the opposition.

This defense is pathetic for two reasons. First, have the Trumpites not been telling us for six months that no collusion ever happened? And now they say: Sure it happened. So what? Everyone does it.

What’s left of your credibility when you make such a casual about-face?

Second, no, not everyone does it. It’s one thing to be open to opposition research dug up in Indiana. But not dirt from Russia, a hostile foreign power that has repeatedly invaded its neighbors (Georgia, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine), that buzzes our planes and ships in international waters, that opposes our every move and objective around the globe. Just last week the Kremlin killed additional U.N. sanctions we were looking to impose on North Korea for its ICBM test.

There is no statute against helping a foreign hostile power meddle in an American election. What Donald Jr. — and Kushner and Manafort — did may not be criminal. But it is not merely stupid. It is also deeply wrong, a fundamental violation of any code of civic honor.

I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Bob Summers 1 month ago

"Incompetent collusion is still collusion, folks"

A Mondale supporter is still a Mondale supporter folks.

As well as, a congenital Liberal is a a congenital Liberal folks.

Krauthammer is both.

Greg Cooper 1 month ago

Attacking the messenger rather than the message still, Bob? How very pathetic of you. Did you even read past the headline before you passed your little, meaningless judgement? And, on Krauthammer, of all people, who has been chief apologist for your ilk until even he opened his eyes to Chump's ego-driven mania. I repeat: how very pathetic.

Scott Burkhart 1 month ago

Greg, it is obvious that you do not watch FoxNews very often if at all. Dr. Charles Krauthammer can call himself conservative all he wants to but he isn't. He has been a never Trumper ever since Trump announced his candidacy. He has been snarky and condescending for the most part whenever talking about President Trump. Krauthammer is a swamp reptile like most of the media in Washington D.C. because he makes a living off of the status quo in Washington. He has NEVER been a Trump apologist. This opinion piece is doo doo. So is the whole collusion thing.

Ken Lassman 1 month ago

And Scott, you obviously don't read Bob's tirades about "congenital Liberals" (perhaps a stroke of good judgement tho it might be). Bob has made it clear that everyone, including himself, has a bit of this genetic variant in their genome, which he attributes mysterious, deterministic qualities that explain all of politics and behaviors contrary to his belief system. This behavior deterministic gene outstrips all other genetic variations in the genome and even trumps all environmental influences. So to critique Krauthammer on his placement on the continuum of negativity (read; "Liberal") is akin to critiquing someone for inhaling oxygen, stealing it from the rest of us for your own selfish reasons, and giving back that nasty greenhouse gas CO2 as a kind of slap in the face. Meaningless.

Carol Bowen 1 month ago

Conservatives do not necessarily support Trump.

Greg Cooper 1 month ago

This will surprise you, Scott, but I do watch Fox as well as other channels, and I regularly read K's columns, so I do know what's what with him and others. I, unlike some who post here, require differing points of view from which to form my opinions. Moreover, I did not say that K has been a Chump supporter, only that he supports and parrots silliness such as Bob spouts regularly. No, K does not support Chump, but gives succor to those who do with his views on "conservatism". As I said, he did disavow support for Chump, but a great number of folks do not, even in the face of evidence that the man is, at the very least, tangentially involved in activities contrary to the laws and spirit of the United States. Reference your last sentence as an indication of that.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 month ago

Bob just :LOVES to throw around his favorite stupid and inane attack..... Lemme help! LIBERAL, LIBERAL, LIBERAL, LIBERAL. Don't you just love it, Bob??

Steve Hicks 1 month ago

As personally satisfying as it may be to believe you possess the Great Explanation of All Reality, Bob...all the more reason to question yourself on that score, isn't it ?

It's a wise thing to do. Everyone honest enough to know they're NOT omniscient (i.e., as smart as God) should.

I can point out a couple places you might question your Great Explanation, should you decide to try self-examination.

If your operative belief is that "liberal" means everything evil...why ? That's not a definition of "liberal" supported by any dictionary, political scientist, encyclopedia, or even by honest "conservatives." Does it stand on any authority except your own ? (Which authority is also solely God's prerogative, by the way.)

The moral judgement of your Great Explanation should probably also be questioned, Bob. It's not really a teaching of any religion or philosophy, anywhere, ever, that "evil" means "liberal." Again it seems that God is the authority on "good" and "evil," don't you think ?

The problem with your Great Explanation is that, at each point, it says God got it wrong. (And not coincidentally, that verifiable events in His reality, which everyone but Bob acknowledges as real, are fake if they don't conform to Bob's Great Explanation.)

Contradicting God, and His reality, is the BIGGEST problem any worldview could possibly have, Bob. It would be wise to seriously and honestly re-think it.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 month ago

Wow.....great examination of "Bob"!! You should not be too hard on him, though....he has presented us with this sort of blather every since Chump was elected. A dyed in the wool supporter of the debauched, perverted "candidate" that was wormed into the White House. We have come to expect this of "Bob" indeed we feel a bit disappointed when I his name and invective does not appear any time there is a damaging and accurate article about the aforementioned "president" appears in this news rag.

But I appreciate your contribution, it sort of explains my take on "Bob"

Carol Bowen 1 month ago

Krauthammer and George Will are conservative columnists. George Will left the GOP and registered as an independent after a long history as a Republican conservative.

Steve Hicks 1 month ago

Good point, Carol. There is a large and growing list of long-time stalwart conservative thinkers, columnists, and publications who have been publicly abandoning the evil ideology that currently calls itself "conservative."

That says a lot, to anyone who pays attention.

It also says a lot that those who remain public "conservatives" are increasingly the tinfoil-headgear crowd. Limbaugh, Fox "News," Breitbart "News," WorldNetDaily, and Alex Jones of "Infowars" (who broke the "news" that Hilary Clinton was running a child-prostitution ring from that pizza parlor: and recently revealed that NASA has a colony of child slaves on Mars).

"Conservative" followers and leaders have relentlessly driven away the sane and honest, and made their faction more a mental and moral aberration than a real political philosophy: their own doing, not that of any of their numerous perceived "enemies."

It is, as it should be, a badge of honor for all decent and thoughtful conservatives that they publicly disavow any identification with current "conservatives."

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 month ago

Trump is a liar. He words mean nothing. He is a liar.

We ALL know that the Russians have been trying to affect U.S. elections for years. There is a massive collection of proof for this. Now Jr. let us know about this "meeting" and his response to it.

Trump is a liar. We hear all sorts of irrational explanations and blather from the non-president.

Trump is a liar, a bigot, a pervert and a lot more... One of these things he is NOT is a competent leader and truly elected President of the United States.

DON'T SCREAM AT ME ABOUT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE!! I am very full aware of this massive fraud in the Constitution that should have been amended out (as many other original eighteenth century elements of the U.S. Constitution) many, many years ago..

Hillary Clinton got the most votes and should have been elected U.S. President

Not this prejudiced, ignorant, lying bigot.

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