What follows are two informative stories that have been overshadowed by all the sensationalized news related in one way or another to the Russia -> Trump emerging scandal.
He did “nothing” !
Once Russia’s meddling in our election surfaced, it was followed in short order by the suspicion that Trump had been colluding with our foreign adversary in the interest of getting himself elected. Conservatives were quick to spin this line of thinking into an “It’s Obama’s fault” narrative. Specifically, since Obama, who was president at the time, failed to take action against the Russian interference, he was the “colluder”, not Trump. This counter-story was advanced with the trope “He (Obama) did nothing”. Trump picked this up and is still using it.
To say that Obama did “nothing” is to make a categorical statement that leaves no room for contradictory facts or even a discussion of why the former president acted as he did. But, as a matter of record, here is what Obama did do. He: (1) imposed tougher sanctions against Russia, over and above the ones previously levied because of Russian annexation of Crimea; (2) expelled 35 Russian “diplomats” from the US; and (3) confiscated two Russian compounds on Maryland’s eastern shore.
To claim that Obama did “nothing” simply does not stand up in the face of the just-cited evidence. One could make the argument that he didn’t act soon enough and/or didn’t do enough, all the way to going public with the intelligence that the Russians were working to get Trump elected. To raise these sorts of objections allows for a discussion of why the former president acted in the limited way that he did.
At the outset of any such presentation it must be remembered that Trump had already voiced his claim that the coming election was “rigged”. Had Obama gone public with the Intel community’s assessment that the Russians were out to help Trump, that news, no matter how factual, would have played right into the charge that candidate Trump was advancing. It is no stretch to imagine that Obama feared that by going public he would have been accused of putting his “thumb” on the electoral scale in HRC’s favor. Trusting that she would win the election, he chose to remain silent about the Russian meddling, taking only the limited steps cited above. It was a calculated risk that obviously, did not pay off., but he had no good choices. That the Russians did interfere is now beyond question. We will likely never know if their conniving affected even one vote.
Earlier today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show, Doris Kearns Godwin, a noted US historian, spoke of how time-lines matter; how real events in close proximity of one another raise legitimate questions about cause and effect, even legality. It is then left up to investigative journalists and/or law enforcement to discover if any such linkage does exist. With that context in mind, review the time-line that follows.
On June 3, 2016, Trump, Jr. gets an e-mail from a man named Goldstone who has Russian connections. Would fils Trump be interested in a meeting during which he would be provided with “highly sensitive” information describing nefarious interactions between HRC and Russia, this coming his way owing to Russia’s interest in seeing pater Trump elected president? Jr. responds “I would love it”. A convening was arranged and did in fact take place in Jr’s. 25th floor office in Trump Tower.
On June 7, 2016, candidate Trump secures the GOP presidential nomination. In a speech that same day, he teases his audience with the promise of a “major” speech which will detail some “very interesting” information on HRC’s behavior. This expose’ would be forthcoming within the next few days he intoned.
Look at the contents of the preceding two paragraphs: Is it implausible to speculate that Jr. told his father about the coming information damaging to HRC, and that it would be available once the scheduled meeting took place? If “no”, why would nominee Trump make such a pledge to his supporters? Was he just “riffing” as he is wont to do? Or, was there a basis grounded in previous events that led him to speak as he did?
What we are faced with here is the critical distinction between coincidence and actual cause and effect. The time-line just cited has already caught the attention of ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and it could not have gone unnoticed by Special Prosecutor Mueller. Sooner or later, Trump, Jr. is going to be forced to testify under oath to all three.
Stay tuned; this is going to get even more riveting.