I was on the verge of titling this “Let’s Be Honest — Fox News Viewers Are Idiots,” or perhaps “Let’s Be Honest — Trump Supporters Are Idiots,” but I thought I better take the high road and not do that. Happily, I think the new title is better and I didn’t offend anyone.
I think the figure in the headline (via Brian Krassenstein) needs updated, as I think some new contacts were revealed this week, but hey, once you get over 100, what’s the difference?
But let’s step back for a second. Collusion is not a crime. Conspiracy is the crime some of Trump’s associates and campaign team, and Trump himself, could be charged with. A core point of the whole Mueller investigation was to determine if collusion (probably in the form of conspiracy) occurred between Trump campaign team members and Russian state agents, and collusion could be reason enough to impeach Trump, but clear evidence of conspiracy is what’s needed for Mueller to charge Trump with a crime (something many think wouldn’t happen anyway due to weak, misunderstood, off-hand Department of Justice guidelines from the Nixon era). Collusion has already been confirmed, whether it gets publicized in a final report or not. Anyone telling you otherwise is trying to brainwash you or is a full-blown idiot.
The Trump Campaign Chairman (not a small role) fed polling data to Russian agents. Additionally, one of Donald Trump’s longest friends, someone who had been pushing him to run for president perhaps longer than anyone else and was constantly on the phone with him during the presidential campaign, Roger Stone, was apparently in communication with Wikileaks (a Russia-backed information warfare organization) about influential campaign leaks and trolling. Whether or not Mueller’s team can identify specific conversations between Stone and Trump about the Wikileaks interference, it’s completely clear Trump had a sense of what was happening and what was to come. He publicly invited Wikileaks hacking of his opponent (Hillary Clinton) and he indicated at one point that some damaging info was coming and that he loved Wikileaks. That’s conspiracy in plain sight, only hidden by the fact that it was completely absurd and illegal, so only an idiot would be highlighting his own connection to it all (i.e., only Donald Trump and Roger Stone). Even many top Trump and Stone allies were basically like, “What the hell are you doing?” (Those allies being Sam Nunberg, Steve Bannon, and Chris Christie, for example.)
I’ll run through a quick timeline for more clarity, but let’s take a further step backward first.
As you can see in this deep dive, it’s well known Trump properties have been laundering money for Russians for decades. Or check out this piece, which details the Russian–Trump connection from 1987–2014.
As a summary of all of those, consider this: A lousy business man was in deep debt and headed toward yet another bankruptcy (the 7th?). With a horrible business record in the United States, banks and rich friends wouldn’t loan him money. They knew his reputation for not paying people or even banks back, and for not paying workers. Somehow, though, the real estate brander survived and even skated through the Great Recession. One of his sons indicated at some point that they were getting their money from Russians. Another son indicated that they loved Russians, as Russians had been great supporters of the family business. Vladimir Putin, no doubt fully aware that he had this businessman under his thumb, put in millions of dollars to reach more than 120 million Americans in Facebook campaigns alone — and that’s considered by experts to be an underestimate since it just covered what they were able to catch and identify. Everyone came to understand that those Russian ads favored this businessman, Donald Trump of course. Once elected, Trump knew that Russian oligarchs saved his ass in business, that Putin supported his run for office, and that Putin may well have tipped the scales for Trump (remember that Clinton had ~3 million more votes but Trump won the electoral college by ~44,292 votes).
How would Trump respond? Well, naturally, with few to no morals and heavily indebted to Putin and his friends, he has parroted basically every Russian talking point he has ever received from his Russian “friends.” He has talked about pulling the US out of NATO (which makes no sense from the USA’s point of view), has attacked NATO and basically attacked all US allies (which makes no sense from the USA’s point of view), has guided the US toward Putin’s preferences in Syria, has lifted sanctions on the companies of Putin oligarch friend Oleg Deripaska (the top oligarch connected to Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who it’s worth noting is in prison for the next several years at least). Trump has also tried to pull the US out of the UN’s Paris climate accords (which all countries in the world agreed to) and let himself (and the US) be played by North Korea at the guidance of Putin — both of which are useful as well as comedic gold to Putin. Oh yeah, and Trump has taken Putin’s word over the word of all US national security agencies about 2016 Russian hacking. If this was a movie, I’d turn it off for being so ridiculously unbelievable.
Who’s side is Trump on? I’m sorry, but I’ll use the phrase again — you have to be an idiot if you don’t know by now. He’s on the side of himself. He doesn’t care about the US or average Americans, just himself. It couldn’t be more obvious if he was a Hollywood villain. He does better personally if the collusion or conspiracy between him and Russia isn’t revealed or is downplayed. The US suffers, but Trump does better. Trump is in it all for himself, no one else, and he has the White House and all of its powers thanks to Putin, so he’s happy to pay Putin back. He doesn’t care that doing so hurts the United States, puts a cancer on our democracy, and drastically weakens our position abroad.
Whether or not anyone has a tape recording of Trump telling someone he’s going to do the bidding of Russia in the White House as a thanks for the help Russia provided (and certain campaign members clearly knew about), it’s obvious he’s doing exactly that. Also, his former lawyer/fixer has made it superbly clear — these guys, like other criminal mobsters, talk in code in order to not leave such a direct agreement. They say something, the other side repeats it, they’re all on the same page, and the collusion is obvious. This has happened repeatedly, with Trump and Putin (and their corrupt or ignorant foot soldiers) repeating each other’s talking points word for word. One of the most annoying things about watching the commentary on these topics has been when people say, “There’s no explanation for it. It makes no sense.” It makes complete sense — they’re partners. Yes, there is almost no explanation other than that, but that explanation is clear and valid. Trump and Putin formed an alliance and Putin is the top dog in the deal. No, Russia and the US didn’t form an alliance — the criminal Russian mafia (headed by Putin) and the criminal Trump World mafia formed an alliance, at the expense of the United States.
2. Did Trump commit crimes? Yes (He's an co-conspirator in 2 campaign finance felonies)
Did the Trump campaign conspire w/Russia? Yes (Manafort passed internal polling info to an asset of Russian intelligence)
Was Trump tipped off to Wikileaks in advance? Yes (by Roger Stone)
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 21, 2019
#FloridaMan launders Russian money for years + invites & takes help from Russia in attempt to win presidential election. #FloridaMan's campaign chairman funnels data to Russia. #FloridaMan's close, decades-long friend conspires with Russia-backed Wikileaks. Putin owns #FloridaMan
— Zach Shahan (@zshahan3) March 21, 2019
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) March 21, 2019
No Donald, it started when you decided to buddy up with Russia to steal an election for a position you don’t deserve to have and that you’re ill equipped to do. No more excuses.
— I’mPickled77 (@impickled2da) March 21, 2019
No, the reason for the special council is because you fired the head of the FBI because "of the Russia thing."
— Browneyedgirl (@Browney03025866) March 21, 2019
All of this is just how Trump operates, which is why his close personal and corporate lawyer of the past decade is going to prison, his campaign chairman is going to prison, and several other members of the campaign are going to prison. The joke that there’s no collusion, or if there is collusion, that Don the Con didn’t know anything about it, is so insanely stupid that it’s hard to understand how anyone can fall for it. Yet approximately one third of the country has, because they’ve locked themselves into a propaganda bubble in which Trump is basically the head of the show as well. He leads Fox News programming, Sinclair Broadcasting programming, and some of the messaging employed by Russia’s social media trolls and fake news blogs (yes, they’re still rolling — in the US, Europe, and Russia).
Anyway, to put all of this into a more succinct and temporal format, let’s roll through a quick timeline that starts before the “102 contacts and 28 meetings between the Trump Campaign/Transition team and Russians” and goes beyond them.
- Rich Russians spent decades laundering money through Trump properties, which helped Trump’s business even though it was illegal.
- Trump’s businesses suffered multiple bankruptcies, but then somehow survived the Great Recession despite US banks not wanting to do business with Trump (thanks to Russians if you believe Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric trump statements on the matter).
- Trump had conversations with Russians about running for president years ago, according to info discussed in Malcolm Nance’s books.
- Trump has been on Putin’s message ever since 2013 on every topic, including really obscure topics you’d never expect Donald Trump to know anything about, fully adopting Putin’s worldview on all matters Russia.
- Donald Trump’s campaign team and transition team had at least 102 contacts and 28 meetings with Russians. Campaign team members with heavy ties to Russia included Michael Caputo, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Carter Page, Roger Stone, Wilbur Ross, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., and Donald Trump himself, among others.
- After winning the Republican nomination for president, Trump’s campaign requested only one change to the Republican Platform, an obscure pro-Russian change related to Ukraine, where Paul Manafort worked for years for former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, who was run out of office after corruptly looting the Ukrainian economy and now lives in Russia.
- Way outside the norm, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson was first appointed Secretary of State by President Trump. Tillerson “has close ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin. He managed the Russia account of ExxonMobil, and was appointed Exxon CEO in 2006 largely on the strength of his Russian relationships. In 2011, Tillerson struck a major deal with Russia and its state-owned oil company Rosneft, giving ExxonMobil access to oil resources in the Russian Arctic. In recognition, Tillerson was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship, Russia’s highest decoration for foreign citizens. Tillerson has known Putin since his work in Russia during the 1990s, and according to John Hamre, ‘he has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger‘. Tillerson was United States Secretary of State from February 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.”
- “As reported in the Paradise Papers, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross uses offshore investments to own a stake in Navigator, a shipping company with contracts with the Russian gas company Sibur. Co-owners of Sibur have ties to Vladimir Putin and are under U.S. sanctions.” Ross did not divest from this company after becoming Secretary of Commerce. Ross has also been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL, which is heavily led by Russians close to Putin, has no other Americans on board, and was involved in Russian money laundering.
- Several prominent Trump campaign team members are going to prison and had connections with Russian state actors, such as Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who fed polling data to a Russian agent, and Michael Flynn, who lied about discussions with top Russian government officials that occurred just before Trump took office. Flynn had the shortest tenure ever as National Security Advisor.
- Since becoming President, Donald Trump has aligned pretty much perfectly with Putin on every topic imaginable.
And much more.
No, no collusion at all, just ~500 coincidences.
What’s the connection to cleantech? Aside from broad societal well being, a lot. The main thing is that the Russian economy is heavily dependent on its oil & gas industry. That is, the wealth of Russian oligarchs robbing their own country is heavily depending on Russia’s oil & gas industry. As such, Russia has long been involved in disrupting climate action and slowing a transition to cleantech.
We’ve written about all of that before, so rather than go into it again, here are a few links:
- Why Putin Wants A Trump Kleptocracy
- Russian Oil Billionaires, Trump World, Russian Hacking, & Firing FBI Director Comey … For Democracy?
- How Russian Attacks On Democracy & The USA Relate To Cleantech
- Is Trump Putin’s Puppet? And If He Is, What’s That Got To Do With Cleantech?
- Beware Of Trump Trolls & Fake Supporters — From Russia, D.C., & Elsewhere
- Who Benefits If Russian Oil Sanctions End?
- Trump Administration Climate Agenda Is Essentially A Giveaway To Putin
- Tillerson’s Answers About Exxon’s Lobbying Against Russian Sanctions Defy Logic
- What If Obama Did This? … & Where’s Trump’s Birth Certificate, By The Way?
- What If Obama Had Done it?