Saturday, June 30, 2018

Trump's Collusion With Russia Was A Two-Way Street

(Cartoon image is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.)

Trump has denied many times that he (or his campaign) colluded with Russia to affect the 2016 election (in his favor), but there is already much evidence that the collusion was real. Some of that evidence comes from the Steele Dossier. Republicans have done their best to denigrate that dossier, but the truth is that most of it has already been shown to be true (and once Mueller's investigation is finished, it is very likely it will all be shown to be true).

There is something the dossier contains that is not being reported. The collusion agreement was not a one-way street. The Russians gave information to Trump (and used social media to help him), but they wanted something in return. The Steele Dossier says they wanted information from Trump on Russians in the United States -- and Trump very likely gave them that information.

Consider this part of an article by Mark Sumner at Daily Kos:

The Associated Press has compiled a list of the information provided in the list of memos authored by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, and compared it with what has been revealed through court filings and public statements. And while the AP finds what they believe to be “snippets of fiction” in the pages, they also find that a great deal of what Steele produced is proving to have a basis in fact.
What has turned out to be true is the primary narrative thread that runs through all the memos: The Russian government set up an “elaborate operation” to damage Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election through social media, propaganda, and by stealing Democratic information and providing it to Trump. And the Russian government sought to aid Donald Trump, whose campaign responded eagerly to Russian offers of help. 
The Kremlin set out to harm Clinton and help Trump. Trump jumped on the opportunity. That makes Trump a colluder, conspirator, and any other c-word that comes to mind.
Steele’s memos were also accurate in many details, such as laying out Carter Page’s meeting with Russian officials at a time when it wasn’t otherwise known, possibly even to the FBI who had been watching Page for years. But there’s another key area of the memos that often gets obscured by the focus on some of the more sensational … yellow elements. 
One of the primary claims of the Steele memos is not just that Russia sought to help Trump, but that the flow of information went both ways. Part of the price for Putin’s help, according to Steele’s sources, was that Trump help Putin in ways that he could address even if he didn’t win—by providing the Kremlin with information on wealthy Russians in the United States. It’s not clear whether this information from Trump to Russia has been substantiated. Those portions of the investigations in the House and Senate that have been exposed to the public don’t even seem to have ventured into this territory, 
The idea that Donald Trump was providing something to Vladimir Putin in exchange for his assistance months before the elections is certainly intriguing. Trump’s habit of selling property to Russians and other former Soviets would position him to provide this information if asked. So far there doesn’t seem to be anything to indicate that this part of the memos has been verified … but if it were, that would seem to put the final nail in any idea that Trump was not fully on board with efforts to cooperate with Russia.

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