|Indivisible SF reads from the Mueller report in front of the San Francisco Federal Building, June 14, 2019.|
In the long, meaty, section "Russian Government Links To And Contacts With The Trump Campaign," the report examines, to the extent investigators were able to get facts, every known contact between the swarm of self-promoting low-lifes which composed both the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign. Here's how Mueller introduces this material:
I had been following mainstream media reports of these "links" pretty closely; the investigation didn't turn up much that hadn't already leaked out. There's the episode of changing the Republican platform statement on Ukraine to a pro-Russian spin; the Trump Tower meeting with a mysterious Russian lawyer offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton; former security official Mike Flynn's making nice to the Russian ambassador during the transition period; Jared Kushner's attempt to set up a channel for Trump to Putin through Russian communications facilities (the Russian ambassador knew better on that one); that longtime mercenary huckster Erik Prince trying to set up a meeting with a Russian oligarch in a resort in the Indian Ocean ...
It's baroque -- but mostly it's all small, stupid and sordid. These people had no idea how to get anything done at a nation-state, government to government, level. They were both oblivious to and hiding from any official channels for anything they did. Over and over, it's about trying to find someone, who might know someone else, who maybe had a relative, who'd once known a high official, who perhaps could make a connection ...
Mueller documents that these clowns' idea of research was Google and Wikipedia and they weren't particularly good at it. Michael Cohen, in his role fronting for Trump on Moscow real estate dangles, discussed getting to Putin with someone named Klokov, a guy he had misidentified via Google as an Olympic weight lifter. According to the report, Erik Prince proudly displayed proof he'd found the right Russian to approach, the head of that country's sovereign wealth fund:
Way to go, ace investigator!
Here's a specimen of how real estate hustler Felix Sater, who was looking for some payoff for helping Michael Cohen land a Moscow hotel deal, promoted his project:
The people who worked for Trump -- and evidently Trump himself -- were and are the kind of men for whom this sort of second-rate mob posturing is the entirety of their ethical and intellectual world.
The only figure in the Mueller report who seems to have had any campaigning competence was Paul Manafort. Mueller reveals that he tried to rein in the clowns; when man-on-the-make George Papadopoulos was offering that Trump should try to meet Putin, Manafort wrote:
After some back and forth, Manafort chose to go to prison (perhaps expecting a pardon) rather than tell what he knows. He's made a life of betting on corrupt oligarchs and he didn't change under Mueller's pressure. Mueller was unable to determine why Manafort turned campaign data over to a Russian identified as a spy. Nothing in the report moves me off my skepticism that campaign data mumbo-jumbo could have turned the election. Sure, the Russians may have achieved marginally better targeting thanks to this gift, but manifold accidents, not Manafort, enabled Trump's election.
The report did not answer what has long been my nagging question about the Trump/Russia connection: why did that old neo-Confederate Jeff Sessions go all squirrelly in his Senate confirmation hearing when asked about Russia? The man is a racist ideologue, but unlike the Trump faux mobster entourage, he knew how things actually get done in government. Mueller reports nothing untoward in Session's glancing contacts. Yet for some reason Sessions tried to hide them. Perhaps he feared that line of questioning would lead to what some other person was doing/had done? Maybe he had come to fear that Trump actually is a Russian asset, though still one who could enable his racial agenda? We may never know.
Yes -- I will read the rest of it, slowly.