Catch up on the Russia/U.S. election story with NYT’s massive overview

The New York Times this morning published a massive overview of the question that plagues American politics and the Trump administration.

The question is not whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, nor whether it did so to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Those conclusions have essentially long been embraced by the U.S. intelligence community and essentially proven, although not fully acknowledged by the current White House administration.

But the question of whether the Trump campaign was knowingly cooperating in the plot is left somewhat open, although plenty of evidence points in that direction. I won’t try to summarize it further. It’s long, but well worth the read, even if most of the facts in it have been published previously.

The full piece is here.

But I’ll pass along a few paragraphs below, which basically summarize the conclusions that the Times is willing to assert at this point:

The Russian intervention was essentially a hijacking — of American companies like Facebook and Twitter; of American citizens’ feelings about immigration and race; of American journalists eager for scoops, however modest; of the naïve, or perhaps not so naïve, ambitions of Mr. Trump’s advisers. The Russian trolls, hackers and agents totaled barely 100, and their task was to steer millions of American voters. They knew it would take a village to sabotage an election.

Russians or suspected Russian agents — including oligarchs, diplomats, former military officers and shadowy intermediaries — had dozens of contacts during the campaign with Mr. Trump’s associates. They reached out through email, Facebook and Twitter. They sought introductions through trusted business connections of Mr. Trump’s, obscure academic institutions, veterans groups and the National Rifle Association.

They met Trump campaign aides in Moscow, London, New York and Louisville, Ky. …

In nearly every case, the Trump aides and associates seemed enthusiastic about their exchanges with the Russians. Over months of such probing, it seems that no one alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the foreign overtures. …

Whether Mr. Trump or any of his associates conspired with the Russians is a central question of the investigation by Mr. Mueller, who has already charged 26 Russians and won convictions or guilty pleas from the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn; the former campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates; and from Mr. Papadopoulos. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, has pleaded guilty in a separate case.

But none of the convictions to date involve conspiracy. There remains an alternative explanation to the collusion theory: that the Trump aides, far from certain their candidate would win, were happy to meet the Russians because they thought it might lead to moneymaking deals after the election. …

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 09/20/2018 - 03:22 pm.

    A few months ago I read “Red Notice” Bill Browder’s book on his experiences that led to the creation of the Magnetski Act. Very entertaining and informative. Wanting more, I picked up: “Once Upon a Time in Russia” a recounting of the rise to power of the oligarchs and Putin’s eventual control over them. And finished it up with “Russain Roulette” from the certainly biased, but professional, Corn and Isikoff.

    They all add up to the clear fact that Putin is an international criminal guilty of countless murders, thefts that make him the richest man in the world and the architect of worldwide hacking to spin Russian interests into every election of significance.

    President Trump could not be more wrong than when he tells us what a good thing it is to get along with Putin. Putin consistently demonstrates that he is a prime enemy of our national interests and any cooperation is treason. Time for the GOP to put country ahead of party.

  2. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 09/20/2018 - 04:43 pm.

    I’m reminded by this post about the term “useful idiots” which, according to Wikipedia, is a term the right has used against “liberals” who were insufficiently anticommunist or, more recently, against opponents of the Iraq War. Even if it turns out that Trump and his enablers did not exactly conspire with Putin and his government to sabotage the 2016 election, they have turned out to be extremely “useful idiots” in helping Putin, et al remaining a serious threat to the US electoral system and our democracy. I wish I could say this was an original insight but I read that former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden said it first.

    • Submitted by Misty Martin on 09/21/2018 - 11:56 am.

      Jon:

      More and more I see and read about “idiots” who hold certain political offices and positions who can’t even be called “useful”. At least not to the citizens of this great country, and those unfortunate individuals who desire to come to this country seeking a better life and perhaps refuge from horrors we can only imagine.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 09/21/2018 - 03:48 pm.

        “Useful” I think in this context is meant ironically as meaning the opposite. That’s why the phrase has been attributed to Lenin, who’s claimed to be referring to the same people as the anticommunists used to. (Lenin’s authorship is disputed and unproved).

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/20/2018 - 07:14 pm.

    It doesn’t have to be a simple binary choice, of course, but on the surface, at least, it appears that the Trump campaign and its candidate were either thoroughly in the grip of simple, venal greed, or actively subverting the interests of the United States to their own private ones, as well as those of Russia. In most circumstances, there’s only word to describe that sort of widespread activity. That word is “treason.”

  4. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 09/21/2018 - 09:26 am.

    Well, golly fellows, we sure are in agreement here. Which further compounds my total confusion on how 40% or so of our citizenry are perfectly OK with this. I get the appeal of judges and tax cuts, the legitimate right / left discourse on domestic issues, even trade and the Middle East; but, I remain stunned that all of the evidence showing Russia as a criminal entity focused on countering all of our interests and 40% are just looking the other way. These folks, by and large, can read, are educated and consider themselves loyal patriots to our country and still see more evil in Hilary Clinton than Vladimir Putin.

    I go back to Bill Browder’s case: Imagine if you were to work tirelessly for ten years building a new business and suddenly your interests and the interests of a power political leader diverged and your company was simply taken away, you were expelled from the country, phony charges show you owe hundreds of millions of dollars in alleged back taxes, you are criminally charged and pursued worldwide and your lawyer who stays behind is falsely imprisoned and beaten to death. How do you rationalize that? How do you tolerate Trump standing next to Putin and saying Putin made a “fantastic offer” wanting to trade a few KGB/FSB hackers for Browder? Imagine if Trump had .1% of this stuff inflicted on him by the government? Can a few of our loyal, and rare, MinnPost conservative commenters tell us how the Archie and Jughead Helsinki press conference can be rationalized away…

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/21/2018 - 12:37 pm.

      Great challenge from Edward Blaise to our Trump supporters here! Especially, from those who actually take the time to read the NY Times summary of what’s now known about the Russian connections to Trump and his crew.

      It’s fairly clear to me (most strongly after I watched a bunch about six female Trump/Kavanaugh supporters on TV defend Kavanaugh against any and all criticism for the attempted rape of Dr. Ford) that Trump supporters refuse to read such articles with an open mind toward objective journalism, and they avoid reading things like the information docs that come with legal indictments and guilty pleas.

      Trumpites have decided beforehand that they will support him, come Hell or high water. Then they lock closed their minds to anything that contradicts that conclusion. You can see that in Fox TV interviews and panels, and in the right-wingers who CNN insists on inviting on their programs, despite their intellectual perfidy.

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