A smoking gun?

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Donald Trump, Jr., has released the e-mail exchange that led to his meeting with that Russian lawyer, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s attempt to help the Trump campaign.

That’s what the emails say, and Jr. says how he “loves it” and wants to bring his father’s campaign manager and his sister’s husband into the meeting.

Now, as we said yesterday, the meeting didn’t bear any fruit as the lawyer only wanted to talk about changing an American sanction so as to allow Americans to adopt Russian children again.  So the Trump party walked out without getting dirt on Clinton.  So Russia didn’t help them.

And yet the Trump people were told Russia wanted to help the Trump campaign and went to a meeting in which they thought they would receive the help.  This would seem to be not collusion but attempted collusion.  Not that the Russians sought to influence the election and the Trump team received their help.  But that the Trump team sought Russia’s help!  Even though in this case they didn’t receive it!

At any rate, it looks bad.  At the very least, according to the pro-Trump New York Post, it shows that “Donald Trump Jr. is an idiot.”  To see what Democrats will do with this, read this take.

Now some people are saying that this is a “smoking gun,” providing evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Do you think it is? [Read more…]

Russian adoptions and the Donald Trump Jr. meeting

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President Trump’s son, Donald, Jr., admits that after his father’s nomination, he met with a Russian lawyer who said that she could provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.  But that he and his father’s key advisors Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner walked out when her story didn’t amount to anything and it became clear that what she really wanted to talk about was Russia’s adoption policy.

On the surface, this would seem to be a case of the Russians trying to influence the election.  Why else would they offer damaging information about the Democratic nominee to the Republican nominee?  Wouldn’t this be an attempt to help get the Republican elected?

But there is more to the story.  As Natasha Bertrand shows, after the jump, the lawyer represents a Russian who is trying to restore the ability of Americans to adopt Russian children.

In response to an American law denying visas to Russian officials and oligarchs alleged to have been involved with the killing in custody of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.  In retaliation, Vladimir Putin ended the program allowing for Americans to adopt children from Russian orphanages.  (I know a family that adopted two Russian boys.)

To be sure, the Russian who started a foundation to restore American adoptions and sent his lawyer to talk with the Trump family may well have had ulterior motives in wanting the Magnitsky Act repealed.  He may or may not have connections to the Russian government.  He may well have been working for his own interests in trying to persuade the Republican candidate to take up his cause.

So, contrary to how this is being played in much of the media, this is not “a smoking gun” proving the Trump’s administration’s collusion with the Russia government in throwing the election.  I just wish Donald, Jr., were less interested in getting dirt on Hillary Clinton and more interested in restoring the Russian adoption program!

Read the complicated story of the Magnitsky Act and this particular Russian lawyer after the jump.

UPDATE:  The New York Times is reporting that in an e-mail setting up the meeting, Donald, Jr., was told that it was part of an effort by the Russian government to help his father’s candidacy.

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CNN producer caught admitting its Trump coverage is bogus

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James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has been embarrassing the left with his surreptitious videos.  Now he has recorded CNN supervising producer John Bonifield ridiculing journalistic ethics and admitting that they are “witch hunting” Trump.

After the jump, read an account and watch the video.

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The Comey show

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James Comey, the FBI director fired by President Trump, was interrogated in a congressional committee in a much-hyped event that gives ammunition to both Trump’s critics and his defenders.

Comey agreed that Trump was not under criminal investigation, that the Russian probe is a counter-intelligence matter.  MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews, a liberal who is no fan of Trump, said that the “collusion theory”–that Trump and his campaign had been conspiring with the Russians to throw the election–“comes apart” with Comey’s testimony.

We also learned that the leaker of Comey’s notes on his meetings with Trump was Comey himself.

But Comey also detailed Trump’s efforts to get him to stop the investigation of fired national security director Michael Flynn.  The obstruction of justice accusation is still very much alive.

What we mostly learned from Comey’s testimony–as he talked about Trump’s harangues, Trump’s “lying” about him, and the “awkward silence” when Trump demanded his loyalty–is what it’s like to work under a difficult boss that you don’t like and don’t respect.

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Trump son-in-law tried to set up secret communications with Russia?

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President Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner (Ivanka’s husband) talked to the Russian ambassador about setting up a secret communications channel linking the transition team with Moscow.  The technology would be through the Russian embassy.

U.S. intelligence intercepted dispatches from Ambassador Sergey Kislyak telling his superiors about the talks.  So reports the Washington Post.

Could Jared be the mole in the White House?  He wouldn’t be the leaker, since he wouldn’t have leaked this or other information about the Russian investigations.  And this could not have been just his doing.  Michael Flynn, since fired as the president’s national security advisor for his Russian associations, was also at the meeting.  And the channel was to be for the “transition team.”

I grew up up during the Cold War, with all of its worries about Russia infiltrating our government and trying to take us over.  I’ve also read too many spy novels.  But this is all exceedingly troubling. [Read more…]

Trump tried to get intelligence officials to deny collusion

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More comes out about President Trump interfering in the investigation of Russian connections with his campaign.

He asked the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the Director of the National Security Agency, Michael Rogers, separately to deny publicly that any collusion took place.

Both refused the request as inappropriate.

Dan Coats is the former Republican senator from Indiana whom Trump appointed to his position.

In related news, former CIA director John Brennan testified before a Congressional Committee that Russia “brazenly interfered with the 2016 election” and that he briefed Congressional leaders about this in August.  He also talked with his counterpart in Russian intelligence, warning him about the consequences of their “aggressive” actions.  Read what he says about Russian attempts to win over individuals after the jump (and after the Trump story).

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