March 05, 2017
Useful Idiots or Just the Garden Variety?

When the boss values loyalty above all, one should not expect widespread competence among the staff. Still, it does seem reasonable to expect that a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency would be aware that the Russian ambassador's phone is tapped and act accordingly. And it doesn't seem too much to ask that the presidential press secretary would be at least as sophisticated as the average middle school teacher with respect to communication tools. Or that the attorney general, as a former prosecutor, be aware of how important it is to answer fully and completely when testifying under oath.

Josh Marshall at TPM today continued his exploration of just what, exactly, is going on with the whole cohort of folks including Cohen, Sater, Artimenko, and the apparently now deceased Orlov. That's only one piece of the whole apparent Russian attempt to compromise the man now in the White House; then there's all the meetings that might have been legitimate but keep being lied about. Of course it's impossible to know for sure given the information that is currently public. But as Josh put it:

Now, are all these moving parts connected together in some dark puzzle? I have no idea. But look at it through the prism of the Mailer Standard. Trump did put Manafort in charge of his campaign and foreign policy operation as they started to congeal in the spring of 2016. Let's assume you're Donald Trump and your hands are clean, as far as it goes. Or let's assume you're someone with half a brain and you're charged with protecting Donald Trump. How confident are you that a thorough look at that skein of Putin-aligned oligarchs, deposed strongmen, billion dollar real estate deals, Russian organized crime and mysterious peace deals wouldn't turn up something at least awkward and possibly quite bad?

There is, indeed, the possibility that basically everyone Trump allows into his inner circle, his Cabinet, and his employ is so loyal and so mediocre as to remain blissfully unaware when they are being manipulated, till the press begins to point it out to them. In that situation you would certainly expect them to become defensive. I think this is the possibility Josh is raising (though I don't think he's committed to defending every aspect of it). Another possibility is that Trump et al. fancy themselves such transcendant deal-makers that they can't imagine themselves as anything but the manipulators. And finally there is the horrific but unfortunately no longer outlandish possibility that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with Russian agents to use illegal means to influence the last election, a possibility for which little proof seems to exist yet around which a web of lies is being constructed. If nothing happened, why wouldn't you welcome an investigation? That, I think, is the question Josh addressed, but to my mind his type of innocent answer founders on the shoal of lies with which the principals defend themselves.

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at March 05, 2017 06:54 PM
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