It's Still The Collusion, Stupid (By Which We Mean CONSPIRACY)
Partisan Republican idiots think they win the argument when they point out that none of the Robert Mueller indictments we've seen so far has been about collusion or conspiracy between Trump people and Russians. This, of course, isn't quite true. The Roger Stone indictment specifically is full of details about his contacts with WikiLeaks, which was well known as a front for Russian intelligence, to score dirt on Hillary Clinton. The indictments of Russian intelligence officers specifically reference their contacts with Stone. And there are lots of other things in the indictments and guilty pleas we have that point in the direction of a story of conspiracy and collusion that Mueller will tell at some point, either in a report to Congress or (more likely) in upcoming speaking indictments, as he lays out for the American people what really happened in 2016.
But more on that in a second.
First of all, did you hear that NO COLLUSION? Because Donald Trump has been saying NO COLLUSION a lot, and it's because Richard Burr, the Republican who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, did an interview last week where he said that at this point, they haven't found any collusion or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. And Trump was so excited! And now he's going to be so excited again, because NBC News has just broken a story from Ken Dilanian -- he's one of those who breathlessly breaks stories about how the Mueller probe is almost over any second now, even when it's obviously not, bless his heart -- that the committee has found NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION, YOU ARE THE COLLUSION, and that they're almost done investigating, you betcha, yes sirree:
After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee. [...]
"If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don't have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.
Hooray! Trump cleared on all charges!
Except yeah no.
Dilanian's report allows that investigators disagree "along party lines" about the evidence they're looking at, which we assume means Republican investigators are being fucking dipshits and Democrats are looking for the truth, which is basically how this whole shitshow has gone from the beginning. He quotes Democratic investigators, throwing shade at their GOP counterparts:
"We were never going find a contract signed in blood saying, 'Hey Vlad, we're going to collude,'" one Democratic aide said.
You. Fucking. Idiots.
For some more much needed context, let's go to Natasha Bertrand, who specializes in reporting on this investigation:
Re: the headline, "Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia," same a… https://t.co/h0o4oWeSl9— Natasha Bertrand (@Natasha Bertrand) 1549989481.0
So actually their investigation isn't "wrapping up" and actually they have a fuckton of incriminating evidence and actually Republicans are full-of-shit jizz-weasels who either are unwilling or unable to interpret what that evidence really says. Or as Bertrand's source said, "The word 'direct' is doing a lot of work here."
Ken Dilanian, we heart you, really we do, which is why we are whacking your nose with the newspaper right now in hopes that you'll stop peeing on the rug like this.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has always tried to conduct itself as the grown-up in the room, especially while Devin Nunes's House Intelligence Committee was out there fucking cows for Donald Trump, obstructing justice in plain sight, and giving Trump a clean bill of health before they had even finished their witness interviews. While some in the Beltway media may have given the idea of "Senate is serious investigation" a lot of credence, we'd also like to suggest that, for Republican senators and their hired guns on the committee, the appearance of seriousness may have always been a pretext so that people believe them when they say NO COLLUSION, EVERYBODY SAYS THERE'S NO COLLUSION.
Because right in front of our faces, we have a lot of evidence. We have Donald Trump Jr. absolutely champing at the bit to take Russian help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton at the Trump Tower meeting, where he was pitched on the idea of dropping Magnitsky Act sanctions against Russia. We have Paul Manafort sharing Trump campaign polling data with his RUSSIAN SPY friend Konstantin Kilimnik, to give it to his Ukrainian oligarch buddies and God knows who else, and also discussing "peace plans" for Ukraine that involved lifting sanctions on Russia. We have Michael Flynn lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions. We have the mysterious story of the Trump Tower Moscow deal, the thing that sure as hell does appear like it might have been part of some kind of quid pro quo, formal or informal, that said, "If Russia helps elect Trump president, then Russia will give Trump this big hotel deal and keep him out of bankruptcy since his dead dad is in hell and isn't here to bail him out yet again, which will require President Trump to piss on all the American sanctions on Russia, which was Vladimir Putin's dream in the first fucking place."
We need to quickly note here that those four things -- Trump Tower Meeting, Trump Tower Moscow, Manafort's contacts with Kilimnik, and Flynn's contacts with the Russian ambassador -- seem to be the four things Donald Trump and his merry lying assholes have lied about the most to the public, the press, and to investigators. Wonder why!
And then there's that whole Saudi/UAE angle, where Arab crown princes were offering to bankroll ratfucking for the Trump campaign, and we actually do not know for sure whether Donald Trump Jr. took them up on that offer during a separate Trump Tower treason conspiracy meeting that happened in August of 2016.
Oh yeah, hey, remember that time Donald Trump, on live TV, said "Russia if you're listening" and asked them to look for Hillary's "33,000 missing emails," AND THE RUSSIAN HACKERS STARTED FUCKING TRYING THAT VERY NIGHT?
Yeah, Senate Intel Republicans, you bet, there's nothing to see here.
Pardon us, but if that is the truth of the matter, we'll wait to hear it from Robert Mueller, please and thanks.
And speaking of Robert Mueller!
It seems every time there is a story in the news about how the Mueller investigation is almost over or nobody's found any collusion or conspiracy, there's always news out there THAT VERY SAME DAY that calls said reporting into question, and today is no exception. (Remember that day when the New York Times breathlessly published a thing on Halloween in 2016 about how the FBI had found no links between Trump and Russia, while Slate and Mother Jones were literally dropping BOMBS about links between Trump and Russia? Hahahahahahahaha the New York Times fucking sucks.)
Wonkette covered last week's VERY LONG Paul Manafort breach of plea hearing on Friday, where prosecutors explained to the judge in great REDACTED detail just how egregiously Manafort had lied to them and to the court, and the New York Times -- taking a break from its usual sucking -- noticed something very interesting in the transcript this weekend, something that suggests that holy shit, Mueller just might know exactly where a lot of the NO COLLUSION is, and that there might be a lot more where that came from.
At issue was a specific meeting Manafort had with his RUSSIAN SPY friend Konstantin Kilimnik in New York on August 2, 2016, where he received messages from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and passed along internal Trump campaign polling data TO THE RUSSIAN SPY.
Here's a smidge from the transcript, where Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann is addressing Judge Amy Berman Jackson:
Weissmann drops a lot of information in those few words, doesn't he? "This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the Special Counsel's office is investigating." The HEART of it, which, if you'll remember, is conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the election, and whatever quid pro quos that might have involved. (COUGH SANCTIONS COUGH!) "And in 2016 there is an in-person meeting with someone who the Government has certainly proffered to this Court in the past, is understood by the FBI, assessed to be -- have a relationship with Russian intelligence." A FUCKING RUSSIAN SPY, is what Weissmann seems to be saying here.
"And there is an in-person meeting at an unusual time for somebody who is the campaign chairman to be spending time, and to be doing it in person. That meeting and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the special counsel." And then there is a lot of REDACTED that follows the words "the issue of what," and after the redacted we get "all are the focus of -- and are raised by the issue of the August 2nd meeting." We are not a psychic, but we are guessing the REDACTED says a lot about collusion and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, specifically about the Trump campaign MANAGER and the Russians. Just like the Steele Dossier said in the first fucking place.
We are also guessing Weissmann might have been talking about the "peace plans" for Ukraine that Manafort and Kilimnik had been discussing, which is again code for lifting Russian sanctions, and which Manafort and Kilimnik reportedly were discussing all the way into the year of our Lord 2018, because everything in this entire fucking conspiracy is about lifting Russian sanctions, because that's always been the obvious quid pro quo that's staring everybody in the fucking face, all the way back to the day in 2015 when Russian spy Maria Butina asked Trump in public to release the sanctions on her country.
To recap, Andrew Weissmann just casually dropped knowledge that the question of Manafort's and Kilimnik's conversations about sanctions goes "very much to the heart of what the special counsel's office is investigating," which is the same thing Wonkette has been saying for approximatelyone thousand years.
So here we sit again, with Senate Intel saying "False alarm, you guys!" while we have this story and all these other stories right in front of us. Considering how our weeks tend to go at this point, we'll probably have about seven more breaking stories like this before Friday.
Plus, we just never know whether this Friday will be the Friday where Mueller starts laying out the real collusion/conspiracy story in his indictments.
Watch this space, like Rachel Maddow would say all the time!
[NBC News / Manafort transcript]
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