Say that title three times fast and you’re a winner!

The intelligence community (or the Deep State if you’re going for the sexy, conspiratorial angle) is after another scalp.  

U.S. investigators have examined contacts Attorney General Jeff Sessions had with Russian officials during the time he was advising Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

The outcome of the investigation, and whether it is ongoing, wasn’t clear, these people said. The contacts were being examined as part of a wide-ranging U.S. counterintelligence investigation into possible communications between members of Mr. Trump’s campaign team and Russian operatives, they said.

Some conservatives are now saying that Trump made a big mistake by letting Flynn go over his own liaisons with the Russians because it would encourage more of these leakers to keep trying to undermine his Administration.  I disagree. It was the right choice.

The bigger issue was that Flynn lied to Pence.  If you know anything at all about Trump’s managerial style, that’s something he really doesn’t tolerate.  Seriously, if you don’t know that Trump is known for firing people for matters like that, it’s probably about that time to crawl out of your cave and empty the bucket that you use to shit in.  Just a helpful reminder for our more out-of-touch readers!

There are two facets of this I’d like to explore with you.

The first one is whether or not Sessions did anything wrong.  As far as I’m concerned, this is early in the innuendo stage.  “People familiar with the matter” aren’t a source I trust and it’s the sort of term that has greatly aided the media in be-clowning itself over the “Fake News” accusations.  To be fair, though, these allegations about the relationship between Trump’s people and Russians keep coming up.  There are folks working very, very hard to keep these sorts of contacts fresh in the public mind so let’s indulge them and talk about it.

Sessions did have a meeting with the Russian ambassador during the RNC and at another unspecified time over the phone.  That’s not in dispute.  He admits it so the remaining questions should relate to what was discussed, whether the FBI actually investigated it, and if they still investigating it.  If this really is the subject of an FBI investigation, then they would evaluate whether he was doing it as a Trump campaign surrogate or a sitting US Senator.  He was both at the time, so was this problematic?

I don’t see how this goes anywhere, honestly.  Yeah, yeah, “potential Logan Act violation” again, but that law is a dead letter and always has been.   It isn’t unusual for Senators to chat with foreign ambassadors and he certainly conducted business with those of other countries during the same time period.  Unless there was something in that conversation that specifically related to some sort of special treatment for Russia, then I don’t know where you go with it.  But good luck.

That leads to the second facet of this that I find interesting.  You can look at all of these Russia stories and see one of two things happening.  Either the sitting president of the United States and his cabinet are fully compromised by the Russian government or the intelligence community is actively abusing its access to secret information to reverse the outcome of an election with which some of its membership disagrees.  Both of those are terrifying and I’d like to believe that neither one is true, but I think everyone has an opinion one way or the other.

For those of you who believe that Trump is the Moscowian Candidate, I have to ask: you do realize that you’re giving off a Birther vibe with this whole thing, right?  I don’t say that to insult you,  but it needs to be emphasized that if you think you can get rid of a president you don’t like simply by engaging in a whispering campaign about his shady foreign ties, it probably won’t work.  Republicans know a lot about this.  Hell, Trump himself can tell you that from firsthand experience.

Let’s say that Trump and his Administration really are secretly working for Russia’s interests above the interests of the United States.  What’s in it for Trump?  Money?  Do you think he’s just being blackmailed?  Maybe a secret pact to kill all the Muslims off?  A plot to establish a white supremacist federation of states?  Is Trump lining up his next trophy wife and wants Vlad to hook him up with a Russian gal?  Help me understand.

My own opinion on Trump’s relationship with Russia is that Trump simply agrees that there are areas in which our countries should be cooperating and that there are others where we are experiencing tensions where they shouldn’t exist.

For example, Trump isn’t fond of the EU or NATO.  He thinks they’re a bunch of freeloaders and that the agreements we have with them weaken us and give them far too much in return.  Putin doesn’t like the EU or NATO either.  They’re keeping him from dominating everything east of Poland as Russia always has since Napoleon.   Another example might be Syria.  Both Trump and Putin favor destroying ISIS, though for different reasons.  Trump sees them as a threat to the US while Putin wants to prop up his client Assad and expand his influence in the region.

I see those as both believable and benign, but it’s obvious that the anti-Trumpers are seeing the potential for something darker and they really, really, really want it to be true and to bring an end to Trump’s presidency.  For my part, I think these leaks have all the markings of an espionage-style rumor campaign and there’s no question that they are coming from within the intelligence agencies.  If I’m right, they’re using their weapons and tactics against our own elected government.  Trump’s Russian connections are tepid.  What the leakers are doing is illegal on its very face and outright treasonous.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong and instead of my preferred conspiracy theory, it’s the other one.  Actually, it even wouldn’t surprise me if Trump is leaking this himself to discredit the intelligence community and the media and the Democrats in one masterful move.  Can we do that one too?

Lay it out for me, somebody.  I’m willing to acknowledge that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and we’ve been seeing a big old cloud for months now.  It’s undeniable that something is there, even if it truly is a operation by some shadowy Deep State or maybe just a couple of pissed off analysts.  I’d rather not ignore it.  Take all of the correlations with the Russian DNC/Podesta hacking, discreet meetings with Russian officials and Trump s surrogates, hookers, and anything else you have and explain to me what it’s all about.

The narrative is there but I think it’s kooky and desperate and totally dependent on circumstantial information.  Give me something coherent.  I genuinely want to learn something new today.

 

 

32 comments

  1. I’ll give you that trump possibly made some enemies by labeling government employees pond scum in “the swamp.” It makes sense that they’d be interested in undermining him to preserve their pensions. I can also sign onto the idea that the media is unapologetically anti-trump despite the nauseating amount over coverage they gave him when they thought he was a laughable republican candidate, thus explaining why they’d float stories with no substance as long as they were bad.

    What I can’t understand is why trump himself has been an outspoken Putin dick rider, and in addition to his dick riding it seems to be a bromance he’s cultivated at no other point in his life until 2016.

    I’m a realist. I think if there’s anything to the golden shower files it’s got to do with trump’s core values as a businessman first. Maybe Moscow will unveil plans for a trump tower in 2929? Who knows, but I doubt any of this mutual reach around has anything to do with trump being strategically patriotic. The last credit is ever think trump was deserving of is being selfless or putting the American people above his own self interests.

  2. The issue with Sessions is not that he met with the ambassador, it’s that he lied about it. Under oath. The meetings might even have been benign. But he volunteered the statement that he never met with the Russians. He wasn’t even asked.
    That’s just a dumbass move.
    But lying under oath is worse that lying to Pence, imho.
    Btw, if there is no there there, why do they keep lying about it?

  3. Making the case that Sessions lied under oath is a high bar and I don’t even see it as conceivable you can get much traction with that. He was asked if anyone met with Russian officials in the context of campaign surrogates. He said no, under oath, to that specifically. He says that he did it as a Senator, just not as a campaign surrogate, which would be neither contradictory nor inappropriate.

    He won’t resign, though I can see him recusing himself from any investigations into Russian involvement within the Trump campaign as Franken has suggested.

  4. I really need to give up the idea that I can no longer be surprised by the depths of stupidity and hackishness I see from the media and the Democrats (but I repeat myself). This is such a non-story, completely fake news. Any idiot reviewing the transcript or with any sense of context will see nothing wrong with Sessions’ statements on the matter.

  5. I ain’t got n’uttn. This just seems to be another media feeding frenzy on vapor thin evidence. Any thing that they can throw at the wall they will….so far this seems to be a big nothing burger…

    Anyone ever hold Lynch to account for her contact with Bill Clinton on that plane in Arizona,?.. Of course not..

    I’m pretty sure most of this is enbeded Intel agents and bureaucrats who just want to hurt Trump….if anything in a belief that he is a horrible person…or just pissed off that Hillary lost..

  6. He probably has not made a moral judgement of Putin, in the way any politician would. He sees a hard ass who’s policys align in a few areas, and that is enough for him.

  7. What’s got was he was asked if anyone in the Trump campaign contacted. The russians in their duty as trump election staffers…… Of there are 2 known contacts by Sessions. And one is documeted. The other?? Mss have transcripts like they did with Flynn?.

  8. Did you read the transcript? I am referring to the Al Franken question during the hearing, not the letter.
    Session volunteers the statement that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” No ‘in my capacity as a member of the Trump team’ caveat.
    Btw, I am ignoring the rest of the posters here because there is no agrument I can make against someone who calls me ‘stupid’ or ‘just pissed that Hillary lost.’ If you are not willing to debate the issue, and just want to insult your opponents, fine. But then this blog is no different from the YouTube comments section, just a bunch of guys hiding behind the anonymity of their keyboards to say mean things they would not have the balls to say to someone’s face.

  9. Yeah, I don’t see the need for insults on any of my threads nor do I want them, guys. mashav is a friend of a friend of mine, a welcome guest, and he’s shown me in a short time that he’s perfectly up to discussing the issues of the day in an evenhanded manner.

  10. Moderation duties aside, yes, I’ve read the transcript and watched the video and I say that he has an out by claiming, “Oh, those calls didn’t count as it was related to my Senate business and I wasn’t required to disclose them.”

    For the sake of perspective, I want to point out that getting Sessions to resign is meaningless for the Democrats, except symbolically. The real prize is what Franken is going for: a special prosecutor to investigate the WHOLE Trump campaign without any interference from Sessions. That could do some legitimate damage.

    Anybody who is focusing on calls for resignation is playing small scale. It’s pointless. It’s futile too. Trump is not going to give a second sacrifice on the Russia issue.

  11. I don’t see how he could be an American at his age and not have some kind of view on Russia. His entire life was the Cold War.

  12. Reading the question in full and understanding it was in the context of following up on written responses to a questionnaire, anyone with half a brain (or without an anti-Trump agenda) can understand Sessions was specifically talking about interactions related to the election and Trump’s campaign. Franken’s meandering question wasn’t exactly clear or direct anyways.

    Dems don’t understand the concept of keeping their powder dry.

  13. I hate the “but this person did it” game as much as anyone, but the Lynch comparison is apt, and helps clarify this is all a partisan game rather than a serious and sober concern for integrity.

  14. Oh, yeah, I agree that the sweet spot is getting Sessions to agree that he has bias and recuse himself.
    A special prosecutor on Russia is nice, but much as I would love for the golden shower tape to play on Fox, I don’t believe that we’ll ever really know the truth. I also don’t believe this is about sex, but about oil. This is a separate subject for a separate thread.
    The real end goal, however, is getting Trump’s tax returns. Once the special prosecutor is appointed, he can issue subpoenas. Trump’s been sensitive about his net worth for years. I am sure he is hiding other stuff, too, but I’d love to see the fanboys explain how much of a great businessman he is after his real net worth is revealed.

  15. Trump’s net worth actually is the one thing he seems to have any fear over. You know that when he did the Comedy Central roast, the comedians were forbidden from even bringing it up? THAT to me is more interesting than the Russia stuff.

  16. Exactly. Jokes about him and Ivanka were ok, but not his net worth. He’s sued people over it. He could just be insecure, but man, do I want to see those returns.

  17. Umm, if sessions is resuming himself from the investigation I’d hardly call it nothing. Sure, he has attorneys advising him to do so, but in any case where a judge rescues himself from a case it means the judge has more than a casual relationship to either the defendant or plaintiff.

  18. Then I must have less than half a brain.

    FRANKEN: “If there was any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this (2016) campaign, what would you do?”
    SESSIONS: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

    How anyone with any integrity can read that statement and not see it is beyond me. Pretend this was reversed and Sessions was a democrat. Would you honestly cut him this much slack? The thing that blows my mind is that he volunteered the statement. Franken didn’t even ask him if he’d met with the Russians. Just what he would do with the evidence that someone else did.

  19. Disagree. Recusal can also occur when someone is concerned about the *appearance* of a COI, even if no such COI exists in reality.

  20. The Lynch comparison is bullshit. Clinton is not a representative of a hostile foreign govenrment and she did not lie about meeting Clinton to a Senate committee under oath.

  21. His entire life was about self-gratification. He’s proven time and time again that he is not a scholar of history or foreign affairs.
    I can totally believe that he was no view on any country aside from how hot the women there are.

  22. Ok, so really you’re bolstering my point. Sessions and his legal team are aware that the relationship between he, Russia and as a trump surrogate will give the impression he can’t be impartial.

    Even as a tacit nod to the situation it’s a cya move.

  23. Sessions needs to be more clear about this-his responses do sound like typical lawyer-ese replies. But as far as I can tell he only met with the ambassador in his capacity as a member of the foreign senate relations committee. The paranoia from the Democrats over the Russians is getting ridiculous. Somewhere, Sarah Palin is laughing.

  24. It’s a comparison. Congratulations on being able to see differences in the situations, but there is a key similarity. Lynch refused to recuse herself even though there was a clear appearance of a conflict of interest. A bunch of folks who didn’t give two poops about Lynch not recusing herself were quick to demand such of Sessions. Nice of him do so, fancy that.

  25. I think we’re on the same wavelength, just came at it from different ends. I am all but sure there’s nothing to it…I mean, are people insinuating Sessions is some kind of Russian agent or something? I just don’t really see a serious possibility of anything nefarious on this front. So in other words, I think the whole thing is nothing. But Sessions’ involvement with the campaign overall is decent enough that he decided to recuse himself as you say, in a CYA move. I don’t think that was really necessary but what the heck. It’s not really going to change anything though, D’s and the press will just find some other molehill to make a mountain of tomorrow.

  26. To me, the attempt to shift the narrative to the Russians has all been a very successful campaign to minimize the devastating impact of the DNC/Podesta Wikileaks, nothing more. I give credit where credit is due: it did work because the media was happy to help since they looked bad in the emails too.

  27. What was Lynch supposed to recuse herself from? Was there an investigation into Hillary’s relationship to Bill that she was heading up?
    Sessions is not quitting, he just won’t be investigating the connection between Trump surrogates and Russian agents.

  28. If you guys knew anything about Russia, the FSB, past elections Russia took an interest in, Brexit, etc., you would not think this was all nothing.
    As an aside, Sessions was the only member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who met with Kislyak.

  29. I’m not at all surprised that Russia tries to influence elections where they find the outcome would suit their national interests. It’s quite ballsy of you to make that connection when you remember that Obama did his best to stop Brexit by virtually threatening the British people with economic punishment if they voted for it.

    And plenty of Senators have met with Russian officials (even those who tried to deny it). But I have to say that a Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee is probably one of those who should be able to chat with a foreign ambassador.

  30. I tend to agree with you here, if only because scoring a perjury conviction almost requires you to suborn it from the witness on the stand. Sessions isn’t an idiot and he knows all he needs to do is what he did today; just say it wasn’t what he meant.

    If you can’t actively plot a line of questioning to lead to a perjurous answer on the stand you’re simply trying to convince a jury you know what the defendant is thinking.

  31. Of course countries influence elections where they have a vested interest. But Obama did not hack Theresa May’s emails and leak them to Assange. There is a right and a wrong way to do this stuff.
    And, yes, plenty of Senators meet with Kislyak. And, as I’ve said upthread, I have no issue with Sessions meetings. I have and issue with the fact that he lied about it. Under oath.
    McGaskill should never have claimed that she never met with Kislyak. I am sure they will claim that she meant in her capacity as a member of the Committee, but it’s still a stupid move because it makes Sessions look better.
    However, again, Sessions lied under oath during a confirmation hearing to the the country’s top lawyer. The bar is a little higher here.

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