Getting Their Stories Straight

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Trump Maladministration

Not that they’re doing a good job of keeping their stories straight, as the stories tend to devolve from “that didn’t happen” to “well, it happened, but it’s not what you think” to “okay, maybe it’s what you think, but it wasn’t illegal” to “HILLARY’S EMAILS, DAMMIT.” Even so, before we get around to wallowing in schadenfreude about Manafort’s possibly getting his bail revoked any minute now, let us consider what appears to be one hell of a coincidence about the stories.

This relates to the infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016. One of the tidbits we learned from the letter from Trump’s lawyers to Bob Mueller that was leaked to the New York Times is that yeah, okay, the statement released in Donald Junior’s name that the meeting was really about Russian adoptions had been dictated by Trump. They’d been denying it for months, even though everybody pretty much knew the statement was Senior’s and not Junior’s.

Now, here’s the coincidence.

In July 2017 Trump and Putin both attended the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Per Josh Marshall, on July 7, while Trump was en route to Germany, the New York Times contacted the White House for comments on a story it was preparing about the Trump Tower meeting (here’s the original story, dated July 8). The White House asked for some time to respond, since Trump was literally up in the air at the time. A conference call was arranged for the next day, but then the White House canceled. The Times then sent a list of questions to the White House, but I take it the White House didn’t respond.

This happened during the G20 meeting (you’ll probably remember this) on July 8, the day the Times‘s article came out. Josh Marshall:

During the day Trump had his first meeting as President (and apparently ever) with Vladimir Putin. They discussed various issues including U.S. charges of Russian interference in the 2016 election. As is normally the case, they were accompanied by key aides on both sides. But the two men met a second time that evening during a gala dinner for the heads of state at the summit. This meeting was unplanned and reportedly included only Trump, Putin and Putin’s translator. No Americans. (This left everyone gobsmacked last year. But it was before these other details and thus the full context of the meeting became clear.) There were different accounts of the meeting. The President later said it was only about 15 minutes. A senior White House officials told CNN it lasted as long as an hour. What did the two men talk about? Two weeks later, the President sat for an interview with The New York Times and said he and Putin talked about Russian adoptions.

Here’s the passage.

TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.

HABERMAN: You did?

TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——

The “adoption” story may have pre-dated the dinner meeting, however, because this appeared in the Times’s original story:

In his statement, Donald Trump Jr. said: “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”

He added: “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”

Given that Hamburg is several hours ahead of the U.S. east coast, it’s hard to know which came first — the dinner meeting or the initial statement. In any event, one does wonder if Donald and Vlad were whispering to each other about keeping their stories straight.

Now I draw your attention to this handy dandy timeline from FactCheck.org. It tells us that by July 9 the Times was reporting that Junior had been “promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign.” And on July 11,

The New York Times reports that “the president signed off” on Donald Trump Jr.’s initial statement to the Times “that was so incomplete that it required day after day of follow-up statements.”

(See also Donald Trump Jr.’s evolving statements.)

If you keep going with the timeline, you see a series of media reports saying Trump dictated the response to Junior, and the White House — through lawyers and Sarah Sanders — denying this. But now the lawyers have admitted yeah, he dictated this. And the Trumpettes haven’t even bothered to stick to the Russian adoption story; the next version of the story was that yeah, they expected dirt on Hillary but the Russians didn’t dish any. So no collusion, see?

Anyway — the Manafort story is that Mueller has strong evidence that Manafort has been involved in witness tampering while out on bail, and he has asked a federal judge to revoke his bail. So stay tuned.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. JDM  •  Jun 5, 2018 @1:30 pm

    In the LeCarre book "Smiley's People", the Soviet spymaster Karla has had to reply on people outside his usual circle of highly trained agents, especially Grigoriev in Bern, Switzerland.  This has disastrous results for him.  Grigoriev is a fool, a bumbler.  I have to think Putin sometimes thinks about that when he watches Trump's clownishness.

  2. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Jun 5, 2018 @3:36 pm

    One of the interesting things about the "Russians said we have damaging information on your opponent" is, it's been happened before, and *no one* in the past is known to have "taken the meeting" and each has informed the FBI.

    It's really amazing how good the rightwing is at directing the conversation. "The FBI SPIED on the Trump campaign! And why? All they did was fail to report that they were contacted by a foreign adversary regarding information that could impact national security!"

    Just like "So what if Jared Kushner wanted a secret back channel with Russia? As long as he didn't do anything wrong, and reported the conversations back, it'd be just fine!"

    On the one hand, I'm glad that the Dems aren't as vicious and hateful as the GOP. On the other, damn, you know that the GOP would be discussing how this is treason, "yes, I know, not officially, but what other word *is* there?" if the same thing had happened in a Democratic campaign.

  3. Swami  •  Jun 5, 2018 @4:10 pm

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/trump-pardon-strategy-would-have-to-include-russians-to-end-probe-1248257091732

    Here's an interesting link..What Rachel Maddow is saying is that even if Trump pardon's everybody under the sun to try and shut down the Russian investigation. Every American involved in that conspiracy to defraud the United States, Trump included, could still be named as unindicted co-conspirators, and the only way Trump could try to eliminate that stigma would be to pardon the Russians to quash that aspect of the investigation . It's a novel concept because the Russian's can't defend against the charges unless they physically present themselves to the American justice system, which we know they aren't going to do. And it certainly wouldn't be the wisest political move to pardon the Russians to try and cover up his own involvement or those of his family's.

    I'm glad to see Trump's desperation in the whole collusion and obstruction issue is coming to the surface.

    I'm surprised that Trump never brought up the subject of Edward Snowden in his conversations with Vlad. I've always felt that Snowden was a sympathetic figure, but in light of all the fake news and distrust in our government it seems that Vlad giving sanctuary to Snowden takes on a different aspect in how he is viewed and to whose purposes he serves best.

  4. Swami  •  Jun 5, 2018 @4:19 pm

    Seems I've been at it again playing with the google translator. It's just fun! I typed in the word, "adoption" (in English) and selected Russian as the output language.. Strange as it my seem.. it translated to.."sanctions". Go figure?

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 5, 2018 @7:32 pm

    I've created a new term for every sycophantic tRUMP minion who takes a fall for Ill Douce, and is indicted so that we liberals can revel in our enemies self-induced agony:

    "SHADY-enfreude!"  I revel in crooks and grifters getting caught.

    It's also an afformation that tRUMP is not – at least so far – the Dictator he dreams of being.  

     

  6. Swami  •  Jun 5, 2018 @10:14 pm

    Shod -in – fraud is going to be the new term used by the Chinese when they wear their pirated knock-offs of Aquazzura shoes that Ivanka Trump is going to be peddling in China with her recently acquired trade marks.

  7. Eric Schmidt  •  Jun 5, 2018 @10:28 pm

    There's this thing that some shoplifters do.  

    They will go to a store and pick out something large and expensive.  Then they go stand with the proprietor or sales clerk and talk openly with them, draw mild attention to themselves, and then brazenly walk out of the business with the large object.  

    If they are apprehended they say they forgot and laughingly exclaim that no real thief would be so stupid as to walk right out in daylight in front of the very owner.  

    A customer did this at a garage sale I held.  Picked out the most expensive object there, stood and yacked away at me for fifteen minutes at the table where I was making change, and finally turned and flounced down the driveway carrying the vase.  I also tried this at age 13 and failed too. 

    Its really not very clever, but the people who do it think they are smart.

    This is Trump to a tee.  He runs around telling people the illegal and disgusting things he's done, all kinds of unforced errors, because in the back of his mind, he thinks he's concealing his real culpability.  So, he brings up Russian adoptions to reporters one day before he lies about Russian adoptions on paper.

    What a goofy thought that any kleptomaniac would do a silly thing like that.

     

  8. jrkrideau  •  Jun 6, 2018 @11:07 am

    @ Swami

    Very strange indeed. I typed "adoption" into Google Translate and got "принятие". 

  9. Swami  •  Jun 6, 2018 @12:40 pm

    Here's a guy who deliberately implements a policy of separating immigrant children from their parents with the sole purpose of inflicting severe emotional distress as a deterrent from seeking asylum in the United States. Does anybody really think that any member of Trump's family has a soft spot in their heart for adopted children?

     I'm no expert in understanding the human condition, but I do have enough experience in life to know that people like Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump who center their lives on the accumulation of power don't allow for the welfare of others or even basic compassion to enter in any political decisions they make. It's all about them, and anyone else be damned. Power is their game.

     So to my mind, anybody who is foolish enough to think that Putin and Trump genuinely were concerned and talked about about adoptions are not understanding the true nature of either man.

    No man is so blind as he who refuses to see.

  10. Tom_b  •  Jun 6, 2018 @12:56 pm

    https://politicalwire.com/2018/06/06/trump-preparing-dozens-of-pardons/

    1. He’s probably selling them. That’s one of the things Blagojevich (IL) did — he sold Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

    2. He’s dumb enough to believe that if he slips in a few accomplices (Manafort/Cohen/Snuffleupagus) no one will notice.

  11. Tom_b  •  Jun 6, 2018 @1:02 pm

    “Rudy Giuliani said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un got down “on his hands and knees and begged” for their summit to be held after Mr. Trump canceled it last month”

    Trump probably says that about his ex-pron stars, too.

    Historic summit: Un will keep his nukes and get the sanctions lifted; Trump gets land for a new golf course.

  12. Tom_b  •  Jun 6, 2018 @9:54 pm

    In the category of breathtaking stupidity Trump cites the War of 1812 to support the notion Canada is a security risk to the US; and one of his minions cites the Marshall plan to illustrate are close ties to Germany. Did they put lead chips in his Cheetos growing up?

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