May 18, 2018


Congratulations, America, indeed (Ruth Marcus,  May 17, 18, wASHINGTON pOST)

On collusion: We now know, but didn't back then, about the Trump Tower meeting -- that Donald Trump Jr. responded eagerly to an overture from a purported emissary of the Russian government to offer damaging information about Hillary Clinton and arranged a meeting to obtain it that included Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

When Mueller was named, we had some scattered knowledge of contacts between Trump campaign aides and Russians, most prominently the meetings between then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the phone conversations between Kislyak and incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn. Yet we had no inkling of how many Trump associates and campaign aides had dealings with Russian officials and operatives -- at least 75 contacts and 22 meetings between Trump's team and individuals linked to Russia, according to the Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

We did not know that, during the campaign, Manafort was meeting with a person with ties to Russian intelligence and, through him, offering to brief a Vladimir Putin ally, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. We did not know that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and business associate Felix Sater were pushing construction of Trump Tower Moscow during the campaign -- indeed, Trump assured the public he had no business there -- or that their emails on the subject included this assurance from Sater: "I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected." We did not know that a professor with links to Russia had offered campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos "thousands of emails" with "dirt" on Clinton.

And on obstruction, we knew the essence of the possible case: that Trump asked FBI Director James B. Comey to "let this go" on Flynn and fired Comey, he said, to relieve the pressure of "this Russia thing." But we did not know that Trump had ordered his White House counsel, Donald McGahn, to instruct the attorney general not to recuse himself in the probe. That Trump ordered Mueller's firing and backed off only after McGahn threatened to quit. That Trump himself was involved in drafting a misleading statement describing his son's Trump Tower meeting as "primarily . . . about the adoption of Russian children."

Posted by at May 18, 2018 6:52 PM