October 31, 2017

WHICH IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES:

The Papadopoulos plea has blindsided Republicans (Jennifer Rubin, October 31, 2017, Washington Post)

In August 2016, Clovis responded to efforts by Papadopoulos to organize an "off the record" meeting with Russian officials. "I would encourage you" and another foreign policy adviser to the campaign to "make the trip, if it is feasible," Clovis wrote.

Clovis is now reportedly cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. As my colleague Aaron Blake points out, Clovis's excuse, provided by his lawyer, that he was being "polite," makes no sense:

So basically, Clovis told someone to do something he opposed and was against campaign rules because he was only being a polite Midwesterner and he couldn't technically prevent him from doing it. (As a Minnesotan, I'll gladly try to use this excuse going forward.)

The strained explanation speaks to just how problematic this could be for Clovis. The campaign and the Trump transition team claimed over and over again that it had no contact with Russians during the campaign. Here we have a former Trump foreign policy aide actively setting up a potential meeting with the Russians, and Clovis giving him the thumbs-up. At one point, Papadopoulos specified that the meeting was requested by the Russian MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), so there was no mistaking who was requesting the meeting.

Plainly, Papadopoulos doesn't fit the Trump talking point that Mueller is somehow "proving" no connection between the campaign and the Russians, and Clovis's involvement makes the entire talking point irrelevant. 

Posted by at October 31, 2017 7:38 PM

  

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