I confess: the moment Donald Trump said “Russia, if you’re listening…!” I concluded “That bloated orange bastard is a traitor!” To me, a presidential candidate reaching out to a hostile foreign government to help him get elected just seems treasonous. Ah, but feelings aren’t facts. “Seems” isn’t “is”. But, Trump hasn’t exactly been mysterious about his intentions and his friends. After a certain point, when you can’t see through the smoke anymore, it would be wise to conclude “there’s a fire!” How many lies did it take being told before America’s news media finally decided to call Trump’s lies “lies” and Trump himself a “liar”? If it was more than three, that’s pathetic. Three lies describe a pattern. What, I wonder, do thirty thousand lies describe? Oh, yeah – they absolutely describe a liar. But Trump is no ordinary fantasist. And his lies – taken together (as they should be) – describe something more than just a man with little regard for the truth. If our news media had connected the “why does Trump lie so much” dots, they would have drawn a very clear picture: “Trump lies so much because he’s a traitor”. Our news media is slowly heading in that direction, like the rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem to be born – the hour for its close up come round at last.
Here’s what sucks (well, a lot of things suck, but this sucks in context): our news media saw the Trump story happening; they reported on it endlessly. Take away the media and “Donald Trump” doesn’t exist. Take away Russia and Trump never becomes POTUS. Hell, take Russia completely out of the Donald Trump equation (as in they never money launder through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos) and those casinos go broke even faster. In fact, take Russia’s organized crime money out of Trump, Inc and Donald Trump goes broke eons ago, having blown through daddy’s entire real estate fortune. If our news media would just read what it’s already written about Trump, we’d be miles further down the road than we are!
We (lucky us!) are living inside one of the great epic stories of human history: an attempt by an angry, racist minority to try and end the greatest experiment ever in human self government because they refuse to share power in a democratic way. Now, that’s the “view from 30,000 feet”, as our news media might put it. Presumably, it’s the view from which one can see the whole picture and not just the cool geographic features that automatically stand out. This is the view many in our news media already see – that Republicans are doing multiple things that are and will negatively impact our democracy. But, when that news media bores in on a detail – as they should – they tend to become so focused on their deep dive that they completely forget that the subject of their dive isn’t the whole story itself, it’s just one tiny detail of a much larger story. All our news media would have had to do to see the much larger story in front of them was read their own stuff.
Former Wall Street Journal reporter and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson explained the Steele Dossier’s origin story to the Senate Judicial Committee in august 2017. The (then Republican-run) committee wanted to undermine the Dossier’s integrity (because it threatens them and their candidate). Simpson explained that what drew Fusion to even look at Russia was all the Russia-oriented corruption they found when doing their due diligence – surveying all publicly available material about Trump. In other words, Fusion became convinced that Trump had used his Atlantic City casinos to illegally launder Russian mob money based entirely on what they read in the press.
Ironically, the thing about Steele’s raw intelligence is that the detail our news media glommed onto – the salacious story of Trump watching Russian hookers piss all over the bed the Obamas slept in in Moscow – is the least important detail in the entire dossier. Far more important: all the evidence that Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, with Russian criminals and with Russia’s head criminal Vlad Putin demanded further investigation – especially when he chose to run for president.
Think about that. The GOP knew even before they nominated Trump that he was deeply compromised by Russia. Think the GOP hadn’t connected the Trump dot to the Russia dot?
Our problem: the Russia dot also was and is connected to the Republican Party dot.
Are those just my feelings talking? No. I’m connecting dots. I see a relentless pattern of Republican obstruction of justice, much of it focused on denying Trump’s relationship with Russia – who the GOP knew was paying Trump. This isn’t complicated. At all. On June 25, 2016, the leadership of the Republican Party themselves committed an act of treason: keeping it secret that they knew or suspected their presidential nominee was a profound national security threat because he was financially compromised by Russia – whose head of state, a former spy, was a master at using just such tactics!
Why would the Republican Party do such a thing? Because they see Russia as an ally now. They see dictators and authoritarians as their mentors and equals. They see democracy as an impediment to permanent minority rule. And, so, they’re doing something about it.
It often feels like our news media sits with its pencil poised above a connect4-the-dots image, the entire picture in front of them. One last dot needs connecting. But, until that very last dot joins the picture? The picture isn’t complete enough for our news media to see it. How sad that will be if indeed the Republicans succeed in destroying our democracy for good. We would have been inches from saving ourself. All we would have had to do is connect two dots via one straight line.
That line could easily be the cross bar that turns a vertical line into a “T”. For “Treason”.
Take Russia out of the Donald Trump Equation and Trump never wins anything. In fact, take Russian mob money away from Trump and his Atlantic City casinos fail even faster. Take Miss Universe in Moscow away from Trump and he has zero avenues available to try and launch a Trump Tower Moscow project. Take Russia away from Trump and he never gets to rescue himself; he ends up squandering daddy’s entire real estate fortune. Take Russia away from Donald Trump and not only was he never POTUS, he might be living on skid row himself – in one of the more squalid trash heaps. The Republican Party KNEW for a fact that Trump was compromised by Russia before they nominated him to be their candidate for POTUS. They KNEW that a Trump presidency would be a massive national security risk (and failure!) . Nothing about Trump surprised the Republican Party’s leadership from the moment he shoved his way into their tent.
They KNEW Trump was a traitor – and they stepped in line behind him regardless.
What Fusion found there – in material anyone could find (including the rest of the news media) – took them aback. Simpson testified that the picture they had – even before beginning their real work – implicated Trump as a money launderer. And maybe worse. In order to bore down more deeply into the questions they now had about Trump and his odd relationship with Russia, Fusion sub-contracted that part of their research to another company – Orbis – which was owned and operated by the former head of the MI6’s vaunted Russia desk, the highly respected Christopher Steele. Steele WAS known and respected when Fusion engaged him; the FBI had relied on Steele and his integrity when they took down Sepp Blatter, the corrupt former head of FIFA.
By that point in the chronology, Marco Rubio’s presidential ambitions had been kicked to the curb. The Washington Free Beacon had stopped paying for the research but the ball was picked up by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and by the DNC. Quick note: Hillary Clinton has been 100% right about EVERYTHING regarding Donald Trump). Now, we all have to understand one simple thing: Steele is in the intelligence business. By its nature, this is a smoke and mirrors world. Very often, facts have to be discerned; they won’t necessarily present themselves. One must approach information with both caution and perspective. Our news media, being shallow and sensationalist, got it into their heads that the worst allegations about Trump had to do with hookers and a bed that Obama slept in. Perversely, the most titillating parts of the Dossier are its least problematic for Trump. There’s nothing inherently illegal in watching hookers piss on a bed.
Let’s bore in here – and, for the record, this conversation among Republicans WAS RECORDED and that recording was played in 2017 for Washington Post reporter Adam Entous. Kevin McCarthy has just accused the man they’re all going to nominate of being corrupt. Not just corrupt – corrupt because a hostile foreign government is PAYING HIM. And the job they’re going to nominate this corrupted man for is the PRESIDENCY.
But, no one in the room seems surprised by Kevin’s damning accusation. No one says “Whaaaaat? Kevin, are you SURE about this? Do you have RECEIPTS for such a crazy idea?” Instead, as I said, there’s nervous laughter. That’s why McCarthy stammers “Swear to Go!” He wants the room to believe him. He’s not making it up. And no one present thinks he is. Least of all then Speaker Of The House of Representatives (and third in line to the presidency) Paul Ryan. Does Paul Ryan – the country’s national security apparatus two heartbeats away from his control – demand to know why Kevin thinks their soon-to-be nominee is a clear national security risk? No, he doesn’t!
Instead, Ryan goes in the OTHER direction – away from transparency! Away from patriotism. Away from doing the right thing. This terrible secret, Ryan tells them all, will remain their terrible secret. Nothing about this conversation, Ryan insists, will leave this room. “That’s how we know we’re family” is how he puts a bow on it.
I keep going back to this moment because it’s real. It is a fully documented, primary sourced instance of deliberate treason. There is absolutely no refuting it.
And everything that led to where we are today flowed directly from it: an act of treason.
That wasn’t the case of course. And do ya really think Mitch wasn’t as aware as anyone else with an R next to their name that “Putin pays Trump”?
Think about that. Mitch McConnell refused to let America know that Russia was actively engaged in making a man Mitch knew Russia was paying president. That’s a hell of a secret to keep from We The People, don’tcha think?
But if you appreciate that Mitch was just keeping the same secret Paul Ryan insisted they all keep – like a mafia family – then, suddenly, every last bit of Republican behavior makes absolute sense. Instead of endlessly scratching their heads as they wonder what hold Trump has on the GOP, our news media could 1) read what it’s already reported and 2) do a deeper dive into it especially in hindsight. The answer isn’t hard to find. :Hell – like almost everything that Trump did, it’s right there, out in the open! All any reporter really has to do is look at it and report honestly what they see.
There’s another element here that’s worked entirely to Trump’s benefit. Rich white people are loathe to prosecute other rich white people. It’s weird… like they all know where each others’ bodies are buried… It is remarkable what white men can get away with in America that no one else can even contemplate. Apparently, that includes treason.
At the end of the day, there will be a clear, simple explanation for everything that’s happened over the past five years. The January 6 insurrection didn’t just spontaneously “happen” regardless of what the Republican Party needs America to believe. The insurrection was planned and paid for by people who needed Trump to stay in power – up to and including Trump himself. Our news media will insist that Trump is merely being childish – he’s a grown man refusing to accept a humiliating electoral defeat. But that misses the point entirely. It misses what Trump actually is and what he’s actually guilty of.
The reason Trump needed to stay in power was less because Trump loves power than because without the power of the presidency, Trump is going to be prosecuted out the wazoo – and especially as a traitor. He was “golden” while protected by that silly Department of Justice directive that sitting presidents can’t be subpoenaed. But, now that any lawyer with a case can have a shot at him? He’s feeling the pain (though not the financial pain since Trump now has the RNC paying his legal bills).
But, consider that fact all by itself! Why would the Republican Party pay MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in legal fees for charges that have zero to do with Trump’s time in office? You can hear the question forming in our news media’s head already: “What ‘hold’ does Donald Trump sill maintain over the Republican Party?”
Hey, remember when using the word “treason” got you nothing but eye rolls? Remember when calling Trump a fascist cost you respect because you went “there” (regardless of how right you were)? Remember when we used to think that Republicans were ordinary, patriotic Americans just like Democrats?
We are living in the nightmare version of “the cover up being worse than the crime”. In fact, we’re so deep into the cover up that most Americans have probably forgotten that there even is an “original crime” — the thing that actually motivated every other crime Donald Trump and his Republican collaborators perpetrated. “The Big Lie” didn’t just fall from the sky on us, a “stroke of genius” to try and hold onto power. Why the hell would Trump “need” to hold onto power? That’s what this is about — a need, not a desire. Virtually the entire GOP has gone along with this also out of need. Yeah, yeah, the Republican base counts for something. But they’re “icing” on a giant cake; icing is icing but cake is cake And the cake here is treason. That’s why there’s “A Big Lie” — because “treason”. That’s why the Republicans have done everything in their power to shut down every single investigation into how exactly Donald Trump became president in 2016. Take Russia completely out of the Donald Trump equation and he never becomes POTUS, Hillary Clinton is into her second term today having survived four years of Mitch McConnell being corrupt as usual but, at least, without his having been a traitor, too.
That is exactly what every Republican in that room did — they took what Kevin McCarthy said seriously. They knew it was a terrible secret for any American — let alone a presidential candidate — to have about them. That’s why they all went along with then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s insistence that they not discuss the matter outside that room. Because it was true. And because, one has to think, it was too late for anyone in the room to turn back now. “Putin pays Trump” — that was the secret they all agreed to “keep in the family”.
A year later (it took a year for that story to break), when journalists questioned McCarthy about it, he insisted he was “just kidding”. Soooooo, the whole room agreed to keep this “joke” a secret? If it wasn’t true, the room would have welcomed investigation because it would have turned up nothing. They knew that any investigation into Trump’s relationship with Putin and Russia would lead not only to charges of treason for Trump but charges of Treason for them, too. Every last one of them…
The GOP’s problem starts in that room with Kevin McCarthy speaking a Truth. Consider how hard the Republican run Congress tried to hide Trump’s relationship with Russia. But consider who Trump hired as campaign manager — Paul Manafort. Manafort owed $17 million to oligarch, Putin pal and “former” Russian military intelligence player Oleg Deripaska. Part of Manafort’s pitch was backstage, off the books access to Trump and access to information a hostile foreign government like Russia should NEVER have had access to: proprietary polling data on Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Manafort famously handed this data to Constantin Kilimnik, a go-between. He went to prison for it, remember? It’s against the law. In fact, every single contact the Trumps and their various hangers-on had with Russians was illegal. When Trump openly invited Russia to meddle in our election — “Russia, are ya listening?” — he was breaking the law. Just because we chose not to see it that way (or prosecute it), that’s not on the rule of law, that’s on us. That’s on white America continuing to cut itself extraordinary slack even when that slack is openly treasonous.
Consider Trump’s urgent need to undermine the Steele Dossier. Our news media — always light years behind this story’s curve — can only focus on the possibility of Trump and hookers — like that would matter to him. There’s so much more in the dossier (a collection of raw intel that has stood up almost completely) than a bit of sex play. There’s treason! Lots and lots and lots of treason!
Consider WHY there even is a “Steele Dossier” to begin with! Here’s the thumbnail version: in 2016, Marco Rubio backer The Washington Free Beacon hired a political research company called Fusion GPS (co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson) to do oppo research against Trump. Before getting into the nitty gritty though, Fusion did their “due diligence”; they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material about Donald Trump that they could — books, magazine and newspaper articles, radio and TV appearances — everything! What they found there in that publicly available material convinced them that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To answer those questions (by now, supporters of HRC were paying for the research), Fusion sub-contracted the work out to a British company called Orbis. Orbis was run by Christopher Steele, formerly head of MI6’s vaunted Russia desk and a source so reliable that the FBI used Steele to help them take down FIFA’s corrupt head Sepp Blatter. Steele had excellent sources inside Russia and those sources painted a picture of exactly what Kevin McCarthy had said was the case: Putin owned Trump.
Consider the Mueller Report and its shamefully narrow scope (the only thing under its purview was Trump’s relationship with Wikileaks, that’s it). Even so, Team Trump worked overtime to keep everything about their relationship with Wikileaks and secret. Strange, no? We’ve learned subsequently that corruption guided Rod Rosenstein to tell Team Mueller that the FBI was running a counter intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia (they weren’t) so “forget about it” while also telling the FBI that Team Mueller was working on the counter intel investigation so they should forget about it. Consider The Mueller Report’s actual conclusions: 1) we can’t say for sure if Team Trump committed a crime we could convict at trial because 2) they’ve been so utterly obstructive of justice about the whole thing.
Consider Bill Barr telling America the Mueller Report concluded something entirely different, something it, in fact, did not conclude. Consider what happened to Jeffrey Epstein while under Bill Barr’s care. Consider that even Bill Barr refused to go along with insurrection. Strange, isn’t it, that even a guy as corrupt as Bill Barr sees a line in the sand beyond which even he sees too much corruption.
Consider how much time, work and effort Russia put into not only making Trump POTUS but to using Trump as their weapon to bludgeon American democracy and America’s reputation around the world. Consider what makes one man look like another man’s bitch. Consider how Trump never crossed Putin ever. Consider how important it was for Putin either to keep Trump in the White House or get him back into it however he must. Consider it damned likely that Russia had a hand in the insurrection. Consider what that means if Russia (among other players) helped finance the Republican Party’s attempted coup d’etat.
Consider how America will have to react when we finally step back and allow ourselves to speak out loud the terrible truth: exactly as Kevin McCarthy said: Putin owns Trump.
What are we to do, once we actually begin to accept this terrible truth as Truth? For one thing, we absolutely can’t shrug our shoulders and say “it is how it is”. That would be us saying “Well, we know Russia beat our asses that one time…”. No — there can be no one time for any such thing to happen. Any country that fails or refuses to stand up for its sovereignty won’t be a country for much longer. We have now experienced a hostile foreign government putting a man they’ve compromised at the head of American power. That is treason.
Treason can’t be the basis for US law or law making. It can’t be the basis for our defense policy or our international relations. It can’t be the basis for our politics. Because it’s TREASON.
Yesterday, Lawrence O’Donnell focused a segment of his show “The Last Word” on a tweet thread published by former Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times editor Mark Jacob. Having left the field of “official” journalism — the bubble in which most American journalists live, breathe and work — Jacob has come to see that the neutrality he thought was a hallmark of American journalism was actually a trap. Each and every time a reporter “balanced” something a Democrat said with something a Republican said, they weren’t actually presenting two equally valid points. The mistake “both sides do it” brand journalism makes automatically is in assuming that any two points of view — regardless of what they are — are equally valid even if one is based entirely on facts and the other entirely on feelings. It’s not for the journalist to judge validity, says the “both sides do it” school. That’s for their readers or viewers to decide!
Not a revelation: if you automatically give credence to bullshit, then bullshit instantly becomes credible when credible is the last thing bullshit is. But, if the news media is doing it, bullshit instantly gains at least a patina of Truth. So long as bullshit “could” be true, we’re all doomed. The moment you give bullshit the benefit of the doubt, doubt becomes the core operating principle and doubt is meat & potatoes to a fascist. Fascists, having created the doubt, step forward as its only real cure. That is precisely what the Republican Party is doing right here, right now.
For better or worse, Americans have short memories when it comes to history. At least, white Americans do. Our news media has always serviced white America’s short memory while insisting no other group’s memories (or stories) have equal validity or value. How many white Americans had ever heard of “Black Wall Street” before Black Lives Matter began to matter? Prior to the internet, the only people holding a megaphone were the media companies. They alone had the means to broadcast information far and wide. While there was less competition, at least most of the messages were relatively consistent and kept to a consistent narrative.
The advent of the twenty-four hour news cycle created both a new market for information and a monster. Filling that maw twenty-four-seven is a challenge. Or, at least it was until Donald Trump forced his way into the conversation and hijacked it. Our news media adore Trump. He’s driven their ratings to record levels. He’s made them richer than they were. And, as we all know, success teaches us only that our shit doesn’t stink when, in fact, it does. The word Jacob uses is “lazy”. Success makes people lazy. When you walk in the door lazy — as too many American journalists do, their laziness exacerbated by “both sides do it” thinking — you’re only going to get more lazy with time, as our news media has.
Donald Trump was demonstrably unethical in virtually everything he did and said. Hell, Trump’s projected most if not all of his criminality onto everyone else — a standard bully tactic. According to the Washington Post, Trump lied (or, in the WaPo’s softened version “mislead”) 30,573 times (as of January 24, 2021). You’d think after three or four times, journalists would “catch on” that Trump is “an unreliable witness” even to his own life. If you had even a modicum of analytical skills, surely you’d start connecting dots — adding verifiable information together to form a picture upon which you build an evolving narrative. After about five thousand lies, say, you’d stop giving this liar any sort of benefit of the doubt because the data says odds are, whatever just tumbled from Trump’s mouth, it’s not true. Rather than repeating everything Trump says verbatim — because he’s the POTUS — you’d contextualize this POTUS before any reporting began.
“While most presidents tell something like the truth most of the time, Donald Trump never tells the truth ever — even when confronted with it and — with that in mind — here’s what the liar-in-chief said today…”. Over the top, you think? Maybe in the olden days when Saint Ronnie Reagan was doing the lying. Today? It’s an understatement. Our news media set itself (and us) up for failure the moment they took up the “both sides do it” mantle. But it’s “both sides do it” thinking that caused our news media to quickly normalize “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing” because “But her emails!”
Though this conversation was reported first by the Washington Post in 2017, virtually no one in the press has gone back to it — even with the perspective of everything that followed it (including Trump’s “odd” relationship with Putin). The one time the press did ask McCarthy about it, McCarthy issued the standard response: “I was joking”.
Take this to the bank and prepare to get rich: no, he wasn’t.
Not everyone has a sense of humor. That’s a fact. What marks the presence of a sense of humor in people is their ability to laugh at themselves. For real! If you can’t laugh at yourself (but can only laugh at others), that’s not having a “sense of humor”, it’s being a bully. Not the same thing, right? Bullies laugh plenty — but only at other people and at other peoples’ expense. Having no sense of humor, a person like Donald Trump can’t see irony. Literally. It’s like the rest of us trying to see x-ray and gamma ray light with our eyeballs — they’re not equipped to see those kinds of light. So, when a bully like Kevin McCarthy says “I was joking”, he’s not.
Ah, but when our news media assumes everyone’s doing it — and everyone has a sense of humor — then we get cruelty reported as “humor” in the interest of “fairness”. When our news media refuses to discern truth tellers from bullshit artists, we get the distorted view of ourselves the news media presents and calls “truth”.
How one frames a story IS the story. Journalism is storytelling in real time. It’s goal should be exactly the same: to get at the core “why” inside every human action. Even if someone can’t articulate why they do something, there is a very real “why”; no one ever does anything “just because”. Our news media — incapable of adding information to a narrative (especially if it contradicts “conventional wisdom”) keeps returning to a bizarre “square one” every day. Whereas the framing of the story we’re living through should START with Republican corruption front and center — with Donald Trump’s treasonous behavior in the middle of it — our news media starts each day scratching their heads about the perverse hold Trump has over the Republican Party.
Yeah, yeah — Trump’s base plays a part. But that’s only if you discount the possibility that people might do things for the right reasons and not the expedient ones. To understand Trump and his presidency, you must remove your “normalcy bias blinders”. You have to appreciate what Fusion GPS appreciated when — after doing their due diligence prior to beginning their oppo research on Trump (initially for the conservative owners of the Washington Free Beacon) — they became convinced that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money (for which Trump was repeatedly fined!) That’s a crime!
Fusion subcontracted their research into Trump’s Russian connections out to Orbis, the company run by respected, former MI6 Russia Desk jockey Christopher Steele because Steele had solid connections inside Russia — the context being that we’re talking about the “secret world” where you have to discern any smoking guns through the fog of deception. If our news media had done the same due diligence Fusion did — if they had aggregated the Trump story (especially their own reporting!) — our picture of Trump would be entirely different from what it is right now. For sure we wouldn’t be asking if Trump’s a racist or a rapist — the facts say “yes, he absolutely is, stop asking about it!”
We wouldn’t wonder “is Trump corrupt?” or “Is the GOP?” We wouldn’t ask why Putin and Russia still have such a grip on Trump and the GOP. We wouldn’t ask “will Trump run in 2024?” like he was some “normal” presidential candidate. Instead — because our news media had been fulfilling its Constitutionally mandated role as our final check on power’s corrupting influence — we’d already be at the part where a treasonous POTUS and his equally treasonous political party were being called out for who and what they really are by our press, while our Department of Justice was actively prosecuting them for same — because what they’re doing is criminal (for a political purpose), not political.
In theory, in a democratic republic like ours, the authority to govern flows from the People. We The People elect other citizens to represent our interests in how we govern ourselves. People we don’t elect (the election’s losers) do NOT receive the authority to govern — or create laws or make alliances — or nominate judges for lifetime appointments to the federal bench (including the SCOTUS). For instance: Donald Trump lost election 2020 by more than seven million popular votes and he lost the Electoral College 306 to 232. That means we denied Trump the chance to continue what he was doing and, instead, voted our authority to govern us to Joe Biden. Trump refuses to accept the Will of The People. We’ll get to the why shortly. But, if we don’t understand WHERE the authority to govern comes from, we’ll miss the launching pad for Trump’s criminality: knowing he could never get the authority to govern freely and fairly, Trump (and the Republican Party) allied with Russia in order to “win” election in 2016. But for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS. That cannot be. We The People cannot tolerate such a thing. Our democratic republic certainly can’t.
Donald Trump’s has behaved like a criminal almost the entirety of his adult life. Whether he was sexually assaulting women, cheating to get into institutions of higher education where he had no business matriculating or just enjoying the criminal liberties we permit rich white men to get away with, Trump has operated outside the rule of law as a matter of habit. That he’s never been made to pay for any of his crimes, that’s on us. We’ve always had the power to punish Trump. We’ve refused to pull the trigger.
Stone cold fact: Donald Trump sucks at literally everything except for being a grifter. Trump has always excelled at being a crook, a thief, a rapist, and a traitor. And the evidence of his criminality has always been there — in plain view — for anyone who wanted to shine a light on it and call it what it really was. Back in 2016, during the primary process, most of the Republican Party hated Trump. They even said so out loud. Guys like Lindsey Graham put it this way:
Got it? The GOP knew exactly who and what Trump was. They didn’t call him a criminal — that would have been a bridge too far and too honest. But they sure came close to calling Trump a criminal in public; just as well — they were openly discussing Trump’s criminality in private.
The problem is Blavatnik’s ties to ANY oligarch who’s been sanctioned or who in ANY way has ANY ties whatsoever to Putin or Russian military intelligence. Does anyone with half a brain really think former spy chief Vladimir Putin ever stopped being a spy chief? Spies remain spies all their lives so long as they keep any part of their spying secret. The brotherhood of Russian Spying has a long, illustrious and very successful history. They have recruited Westerners with consistent success — first as the Soviet Union and now as Greater Russia. The oligarch in question hers is Oleg Deripaska. FactCheck wants us to believe that despite his ties to a man we KNOW is an active Russian military intelligence player, Len Blavatnik’s money is 1) clean and 2) not enough to worry about since it’s not “the most”.
Any money that originated in Russia and ended up in any American politician’s campaign bank account arrived with strings attached. Take THAT to the bank and prepare to get rich.
If anyone in America’s news media had bothered to (or was interested in bothering to now), they’d have bumped into what Fusion GPS bumped into when they were first hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon. When he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017, Fusion’s co-founder Glenn Simpson described how Fusion, before they began their oppo work, got ahold of every piece of publicly available material about Trump that they could. Every book or newspaper article. Every magazine piece and radio or TV appearance. What they found in publicly available material — information anyone could find and build into their understanding of Trump — convinced them that Trump was likely a criminal who’d been laundering Russian mob money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT is why Fusion sub-contracted the Russian research to a company called Orbis. Orbis was run by Christopher Steele who formerly ran the MI6’s vaunted Russia desk. No one outside Russia had better connections inside Russia.
Steele’s work product — The Steele Dossier — was a collection of raw intelligence gathered by an experienced hand. It goes without saying that our news media made an utter hash of it. But then, that’s what Russia wanted our media to do.
From the moment he became POTUS, Trump began to obstruct any investigation into how exactly he pulled of this “shocker”. The Mueller Report didn’t acquit Trump of anything. Quite the contrary! If not for Bill Barr’s deliberate obfuscation, our news media might have actually read the Mueller Report for itself and grasped that 1) Mueller’s purview was pared down to one basic question: did Team Trump conspire in any way with Wikileaks on the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton? The Report says it couldn’t really answer the question because of Team Trump’s relentlessly obstructive behavior. All indications were however that yes, Team Trump DID conspire.
It is flatly against the law to conspire with a foreign government to win an American election. It’s not a question of “degree” or “number of times”. It’s an absolute “yes” or “no” and Team Trump relentlessly worked with Russia or people allied with Russia both to “win” election 2016 and to keep that alliance a secret. That’s a broken law and a cover up. Two crimes now. And all Trump’s done is “win” election. The real criming started the instant Trump was sworn in; he violated his oath of office even as he took the oath of office.
Not only was Trump NOT upholding and defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, HE was one of the Constitution’s biggest domestic enemies ever.
Our “problem” alas isn’t Donald Trump’s criminality. If Trump’s criminal behavior was the exception, most of the rest of the GOP would have turned on him if only for survival’s sake. But, when the Republican Party shrugged off Trump’s treason and made him their standard bearer, they made treason part of their brand. The Republicans are afraid of Trump’s base — they’re nuts! But what really keeps them all in line is the terrible secret they agreed to keep way back in 2016: Donald Trump is a traitor.
See something, SAY something. See something, say nothing? We have to ask “why?” WHY say nothing in the face of overt criminality? WHY say nothing in the face of outright treason?
It ain’t rocket science or brain surgery. If you stand with racists, even if you don’t think you’re a racist, it means you ARE a racist. Same goes for traitors. The reason the Republican Party is now all in with Trump, his attempts to overturn election 2020 and the psychotic drive to impose permanent minority rule upon an angry, diverse majority is because the GOP is now Trump’s co-conspirator. His criminal co-conspirator. And — as every one of these Republicans knows — death remains a possible penalty for treason here in America. For context, Republicans aren’t bothered if America dies.
If indeed Trump’s victory was accomplished by cheating in ANY way, that’s a crime. Even if it’s minor. It’s a crime. If that crime involves a hostile foreign country? The minor incident is now treasonous.
And you know what they say about the cover up. It’s always worse than the crime. Considering as the crime here is treason?
We have to seriously re-think the entire Trump presidency and EVERYTHING it touched because Donald Trump NEVER had the authority that flows from a free & fair election. He never had the authority to sign legislation or tax cuts for the rich into law. HE never had the authority to nominate a cabinet or a single judge including SCOTUS judges. The authority to do all those things actually resided in Hillary Clinton — the election’s real winner.
“But we can’t change an election’s outcome!” No, we can’t change the past. But if the “outcome” of the election includes, say, JUDGES with lifetime appointments that were the whole POINT of the crime — to get those seats filled by conservative judges preferred by the conservative minority instead of by the more progressive MAJORITY who actually won the election and whose values should actually be reflected in the very judges the Republicans appointed instead.
If we go back to the very beginning of this crime, we find the right wing money facing a conundrum: a diversifying America slowly taking political power away from the white, Christian men who’d always held it. Instead of accepting that that’s how American democracy — American exceptionalism — works, the right wing money chose to put its money into denying the majority its will. They smartly went at power from the local level first — running for school boards and local offices Democrats looked past. This gives the appearance of a right wing lean when, really, it’s just good political organization. It’s NOT how the electorate actually thinks.
Here’s my bet: when Jan 6 Commission — with the Department of Justice’s backing — pierces the Congressional veil and connects the January 6 insurrection dot to the members of Congress and the Trump White House actively PLANNED the insurrection dot, there will be a radical shift in how we publicly think of the GOP, Donald Trump and what they’ve done. We’ll be well into criminal liability — planning an insurrection’s a crime, don’tcha know! — when we connect another essential dot: treason. Considering how active Russia was in putting Trump into the White House and keeping him there, it’d strain credulity to the breaking point to think Russia wasn’t deeply involved in the insurrection — either in its planning or financing.
If a hint of Russian involvement floats to the surface? We will have pierced that veil too.
Imagine convincing yourself that lying no longer mattered. That’s exactly what our news media did — convinced itself that, with certain people, it was UNDERSTOOD that whatever question they asked would be answered with some sort of deception. And that, our news media convinced itself, was okay. Understood — never before had they been confronted with a president who lied with such ease that it was almost impossible to keep track of all the lies. Our news media had two choices at the start — accept the lying or refuse to accept it. They accepted it. When Trump changed the subject to the next thing he was going to lie about, our news media went with him. “But, what can we do?” they asked. The answer? Not what they did. The instant our news media accepted that first Trumpian lie — whatever it was — Trump knew he had them.
Liars are smart that way. They scope out our credulousness. What, they ask themselves, as they watch us watching them, can I get away with here? Great liars thrust and parry. They’ll feint with a little white lie, see if we snarf the bait. If we do? They’ll take us on a run like a half ton sail fish pulling an old rowboat behind it, some poor schmuck with a cheap rod and reel hanging on for dear Life inside it. That was Donald Trump with our news media from the get-go. Sociopath that he is, Trump still knows exactly where most of the lines are — the lines he KNOWS he cannot cross without becoming a criminal. That’s why Trump never writes anything down. It’s a master plan for never getting caught with evidence that convicts you.
The whole point is to lie but not get caught lying.
That is exactly why Team Trump continues to expend so much energy obstructing justice. If they don’t obstruct justice, justice will put them in prison for the rest of their lives. Or worse.
The bottom line here, as it’s always been, is treason.
Donald Trump committed treason in order to become POTUS. He committed treason every single day that he was POTUS. He is committing treason this very day as I write this and as you read this. Don’t look now, but Donald Trump is committing treason. And, if Trump is committing it, so, too, is every single one of his enablers and followers. The GOP has always known that Russia owned Trump outright. They said so — out loud — at a leadership meeting a month before they nominated him as their presidential candidate. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said, as he entered the room, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Idle chatter in the room? Or co-conspirators realizing that, indeed, they’re co-conspirators. How else to explain what happened next? Then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan got everyone in the room to agree that what Kevin McCarthy thought would be their secret; “that’s how we know we’re family”, Ryan said.
Every single Republican knew or should have known that their presidential candidate was a traitor. That subject was always on the table. Our news media should have had a very similar understanding of Trump — that he was compromised by rich, powerful Russians with ties to Vladimir Putin — an intelligence agent by training, and a world class criminal by profession. Of course, if you insist on seeing Putin as the legitimate, honest actor he says he is — as our news media does — then you’re also sure to see nothing in the body language in this photo —
The truth about Donald Trump has ALWAYS been publicly available. Jump back to 2017. The Democrats, keenly aware that Trump’s presidency hit the ground riddled with corruption up to and including Russian corruption, scrambled to get the story out there. But, not being in control of any branch of government — as they weren’t after 2016’s strange outcome — the Democrats had few tools at their disposal. Those among them who understood the Steele Dossier’s significance were trying to get its contents into the sunlight. That the Steele Dossier exists at all is a testament to the fact that there IS Truth in this story and people dedicated to revealing the Truth despite what it might cost them. Remember how we “got to” the Steele Dossier?
But, what Fusion found — as they did their due diligence BEFORE formally beginning their work — shocked them. They saw clear evidence in publicly available material (their due diligence included getting ahold of and combing through every available bit of publicly available material be it print, audio or video that even mentioned Trump. What they found there — in information available to EVERYONE — was clear and compelling evidence (they were all journalists at Fusion, don’t forget) that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. To try and get behind that wall, Fusion subcontracted the work to an English company, Orbis. By now, Marco Rubio had dropped out and Fusion’s work was being paid for by a Democrat backing Hillary Clinton.
Orbis was owned and run by Christopher Steele, a highly respected veteran of Britain’s MI6; in fact, Steele had run MI6’s Russia desk. No one in the West had comparable contacts inside Russia. Simpson and Fusion turned to Steele because he had a great reputation. In fact, Steele’s reputation was so good that when the FBI went after Sepp Blatter’s corruption at FIFA? They hired Chris Steele! Now, understand — the secret world is not like the regular world. Smoking guns are few and far between. One must infer shapes in the fog using context and perspective. His “dossier” was a collection of his raw intelligence. If you approach raw intel like regular old “facts”, you’ll miss what it’s telling you. That, of course, is what our news media did — misunderstand how to SEE Steele’s work product while accepting the Republican description of it as “salacious” and “unverified”.
Once the press bought those descriptions, they made them their own. Nothing else mattered in the entirety of the dossier beyond whether or not Trump interacted with hookers. If he didn’t? The entire dossier “must be bullshit”. The news media once again rewarded a liar for lying to them.
Seen as a “one-of”, sure — what harm could one lie do? But seen as a pattern? One lie among MILLIONS? Whole different picture, agree?
Our news media has done the unspeakable but still doesn’t see it. They 1) accepted that Trump lied then 2) built that fact into their understanding of him. That meant that 3) a certain amount of Trumpian lying was now formally ACCEPTED as “just how Trump is”. Once Trump had made that a fact of life, it was only a matter of making the bigger and bigger lies “just how Trump is”. Is he a racist? He says he’s not! Is he corrupt? He says he’s not! Is he a traitor? He says he’s not!
It is not under dispute that Donald Trump lied and lies as easily as he breathes. His whole sales pitch now is “The BIG Lie”. He’s embraced it (okay, he’s flipped it, but he’s embraced it). At the core of the matter is a LIE. Even most Trumpanistas have acknowledged at some point that they KNOW it’s a lie. In a culture where lying was damned and the liar made an instant pariah, lying would have little profit for too much risk; people would lie less and less. But, in a culture where lying could get you out of trouble? From a criminal’s point of view, what’s not to love? And the higher up the criminal food chain you go, the bigger the lies will need to be bigger. Eventually, the onus falls on us. At some point, WE have to stop shrugging off the lies. WE have to realize how deeply the liar disrespects us.
And why they disrespect us. Cos they’re CRIMINALS.
Treason. That is our bottom line here. Pure, unadulterated treason. That’s why “The Big Lie” exists in the first place — to cover up an act of treason.
The American news media trying to tell the story of what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did and are still doing to America is a lot like the notion of a couple of blind guys who’ve no idea what an elephant is, trying to make sense of one for the very first time. In the blind guys’ defense, they’ve never encountered an elephant before; they’re entitled to their bafflement. America’s news media knows exactly what the Republican Party is and what Republicans are — they’ve been covering them differently than they cover Democrats for a long, long time apparently because they recognize how different they are, “both sides do it” be damned. America’s news media has it in their heads — because Republicans put it there — that Democrats are as cynical as Republicans (and Republicans are cynicism’s poster boys), that Democrats do things for the very same power-mad, greedy-to-their-toes, white hegemony defending reasons Republicans do. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the news media allowed itself to be lied to relentlessly — and accepted it as “just how President Trump is” as if Trumpism was some kind of “new normal” we’d all have to get used to. No actually — we don’t have to get used to it.
The Post reported: McCarthy said upon entering the meeting, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” That got a few laughs. But no one questioned it. No one said, “Whaaaaat? Kevin — are you kidding? If you’re not, WHY would you say or even THINK such a thing?” As a matter of fact, no one in the meeting seemed the least bit shocked or even surprised. No one picked up a phone to call the FBI, that’s for sure. If anything, calling the authorities and doing what was their PATRIOTIC DUTY would have been a good thing. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan committed everyone present to an omerta: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
To my knowledge, not a single journalist has stuck a mic in either Kevin McCarthy’s or Paul Ryan’s face and demanded what the flying eff that conversation was about — and WHY Kevin thought Putin paid Rohrbacher and Trump and WHY Paul Ryan insisted everyone present keep that problematic secret a secret. You’d think — considering what transpired DURING the Trump presidency — especially Trump’s odd relationship with Vlad Putin — that the question would occur in every journalists mind organically. And yet…
This is what journalistic failure of imagination looks like. There’s a “dot one” big as a house and a “dot two” that’s even bigger. Their connection seems more than obvious. Except to American journalists who apparently cannot imagine that dot one could possibly connect to dot two. To be fair, good journalists require receipts before making accusations in print. In “espionage world” however — the world where Russia launched a still ongoing cyber war against us — receipts don’t necessarily exist; if they do, no one’s going to see them. In the same way the existence of a distant exo-planet must be inferred from how its physical presence alters the light being emitted from its star, evidence of Trump’s relationship with Russia must be inferred from HIS behavior in and around Putin.
Unfortunately, even pictures speaking thousands of words can’t convince our news media of the obvious.
What makes this sad situation even worse is that journalists themselves can’t abide other journalists who DO show imagination. To this day, some “journalists” still think of Christopher Steele’s raw data output — “The Steele Dossier” — as unverified rubbish. Um, no actually… Not understanding that one must view raw intel data differently than, say, a deposition hearing where everyone’s sworn in, most journalists fell down the rabbit hole of “knowability”. Without a literal smoking gun to wrap their minds around, they couldn’t imagine how the Donald Trump dot connected to the Vladimir Putin dot. But, even that roadmap was laid out for America’s news media by former and respected members of their ranks!
On August 22, 2017, former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of research firm Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson was called before the Senate House Intelligence Committee (then being run by the Republican Senate). The Republicans were desperate to cast the Steele Dossier as rubbish because, in fact, it wasn’t and isn’t. Simpson explained how the Dossier came about. In the lead up to the 2016 election — during the primaries — the backers of conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon (Marco Rubio supporters) hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Trump — something political operatives and their money have done forever. As part of their normal due diligence, Simpson explained, his team got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could that had anything to do with Donald Trump. They found every book about Trump, every newspaper or magazine article. They tracked down every TV appearance, every radio interview. To get their hands on this material, Simpson testified, his team went to every bookstore they could, they combed Amazon. They even went to the public library.
What Fusion found in publicly available material shocked them — these professional journalists who had covered financial corruption their whole careers. And, while the dots themselves did not spell out “Trump Launders Russian Mob Money Via His Atlantic City Casinos”, they might as well have — that’s how loudly the alarm bells started ringing inside Glenn Simpson’s and Fusion’s head. To investigate further (the Free Beacon was now gone, Rubio having dropped from the race; the bills now went to a Democratic donor), Fusion subcontracted out the Russian side of the investigation to an English research outfit called Orbis which was run by the Chris Steele, the highly respected former head of the MI6’s Russia desk. No one had better, more reliable contacts inside Russia than Chris Steele. No one.
To see the value of Steele’s work product you have to remember 1) it’s raw intel and 2) there’s way, WAY more to what’s in the Dossier than just whether or not Donald Trump watched a bunch of Russian hookers piss on the Moscow hotel room bed where Barack Obama had recently slept. There are plenty of other uncomfortable details. Their ick factor may not be as high, but their treason factor far surpasses it. Steele’s work product confirmed what Kevin McCarthy thought about Trump: that Putin owned him outright. One plus one equals two.
Hey, look, American journalists — there’s one story proving another one’s veracity! Or, with Donald Trump and the GOP is that still just not good enough?
I’m old enough to remember when saying things like “Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia is mighty suspicious!” would get eye rolls because I was desperate to make a mountain from something less than a molehill. Alas, Trump’s relationship with Russia was never a molehill. It’s not a mountain either — it’s the whole freakin’ mountain RANGE. For the life of me, I cannot get why storytellers (that’s what journalists are — they’re storytellers in real time) can’t for the life of THEM figure out how to aggregate a goddamned story! The American Press can’t say that they had no idea Donald Trump “might be” a traitor when they themselves reported that possibility themselves a year into Trump’s presidency! For real! The Washington Post (and most other papers) published reporting about a conversation that took place between the GOP leadership a month before the Republican Party made Trump their presidential nominee (in other words — the convo they were reporting on took place A YEAR BEFORE; the Post became privy to a RECORDING of the meeting, giving it solid, evidentiary support. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into the meeting and said out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”. No one present disputed McCarthy. Quite the contrary. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — like everyone else in the room — seemed both unsurprised and unfazed. No one demanded to know why McCarthy thought this or what put such an insane idea into his head. Ryan led them to decide they wouldn’t talk about such things outside rooms like that. “That’s how we know we’re family”, Paul Ryan said, sounding for all the world like a mafioso — and not the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.
In a civil case — compared to a criminal case — the standard required for conviction is 51%. The preponderance of the evidence and not some “smoking gun” suffices. Our news media has gotten it into their heads that their job is to be an absolutely neutral arbiter of events. Just the facts, ma’am. That’s swell. But, as the facts add up, they paint a picture — and either we accept the picture being painted or we don’t. If we accept the picture, we need to incorporate what we’ve just learned into the larger picture of what we know. And what we know should be the evolving story basis for all reporting. Instead, our news media heard “Mexicans are rapists!” — and squawked about it for a few minutes — then moved on when “Pussy grabbing” became the next topic. In short order, our news media move move on from “pussy grabbing” to “But, her emails!” Strangely, “But, her emails” aggregated — we heard about it constantly; it WAS the starting point for the press’s stories about Hillary Clinton.. “Mexicans are rapists” and “Pussy grabbing” did not aggregate. Our press still wondered aloud “Is Trump a racist?” and “Is Trump a rapist?”
Yes and yes — hell, Trump even confirmed it for them! And, STILL — to this day — many “journalists” will shift uncomfortably in their seats like the hemorrhoid they’ve been nursing just flared to life if they have to ask “Is Trump a racist?” As if it’s a question! For the record, it’s NEVER up to a racist to decide if he’s a racist. How the hell would HE know — he’s a racist FFS! The only people with the perspective to tell you whether or not someone’s a racist is the racist’s victim. And if they claim racism — do NOT dismiss it out of hand. That would be racist of you.
The press could have established the truth about who Donald Trump is and even the likelihood of his criminality — and even his treachery — if they’d bothered to do the same due diligence Fusion GPS did when hired back in 2016 by the publishers of the Washington Free Beacon. They were Marco Rubio backers and wanted to get some dirt on Trump so they hired Fusion GPS, the research company started by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Frisch. When called before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 — then under Republican control bent on undermining the integrity of the Steele Dossier — Glenn Simpson testified that before formally beginning their deep dive into Trump, they did their “due diligence”: they got ahold of every piece of publicly available material they could — newspaper articles, magazine pieces, radio interviews, TV shows. They got them from Amazon and other online merchants and used bookstores and even the Public Library. What Fusion found — hiding in plain sight — was the kind of info ANY JOURNALIST could find easily if they’d just get off their asses.
Fusion got the distinct impression that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT’S why they sub-contracted the Russian part of the inquiry to someone who might could answer those questions about Trump and his relationships with Russian mob money. Christopher Steele had run the Russia desk at Britain’s MI6. He had perhaps the best Russian contacts of any Westerner outside Russia. Steele’s work product, by the way, has passed most every smell test it’s been subjected to. This is raw intel data — never intended for uninformed eyes because uninformed eyes won’t contextualize so as to extract the value. Steele — a better American patriot than any Republican — was so concerned by what he learned that he became obsessed with getting his work and its assessments under the noses of someone willing to do something. Chris Steele had no personal ax to grind. And yet, some people in our press, to this day, will frame the Steele Dossier from Trump’s criminal point of view.
During the entire 2020 presidential campaign, our news media seemed to completely forget the fact that Trump was the first person EVER to run for office after BEING IMPEACHED for attempting to cheat in the very election he was now running in. Think about that — both because it happened and because our news media forgot about it — even as Trump continued to cheat his way to victory. Talk about your “patterns of behavior” and “preponderance of the evidence”. There should not be a question as to WHY Trump acted the way he did. This picture alone — coming when it did after the meeting where Trump sperm burped Putin’s whole name in real time (that’s what it sounded like to me) — should have been the end of Trump’s presidency.
Donald Trump is a racist because he has victims who’ll call out his racism. The same goes for Trump’s other crimes. We don’t need to end up getting shot by Trump on Fifth Avenue to know he’s standing there — on Fifth Avenue — and he’s got a gun. If we go to Fifth Avenue — or anywhere near Trump — we might could get shot. Trump’s a traitor, too. We need to stop waiting for Vlad Putin to put up a YouTube video where he spills it all like we really were living in the worst reality show ever and it needs to wrap up cos the season is over.
Trump epitomizes “White Man’s Bamboozlement” — white guys getting away with crap non-white people could never get away with. Republicans used to be better at hiding that fact from everyone else. Trump liberated them from caring whether the rest of us know or not. The Republican Party, by its own admission, is now the Trump Party. The Trump Party is a treasonous criminal enterprise. Therefore, the GOP is now a treasonous criminal enterprise.
Want to know WHY almost the entire Republican Party is still in bed with Trump, still perfectly happy to let him brutalize and abuse them? Because they’re all co-conspirators in a massive crime bent on destroying our democracy. Throw in treason — still a capital offense here in America — and you can see why this is “all or nothing” for the GOP. There’s no going back anymore. There’s only the hopelessness of the mission: permanent minority rule. That dangerous idea is about to get crushed. The wave Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are riding today as the first cash begins to flow through the Covid-19 Relief Plan into the pockets of 85% of Americans won’t crest for a long, long while. It certainly won’t crest before 2022 so, please, put all concerns about the GOP taking the House in the mid-terms completely out of your head. These are not normal times, stop thinking normal things will happen.
Our news media definitely wasn’t up to covering Donald Trump. They’re even less qualified and capable of covering the aftermath of Trump and Trumpism.
Quick — what’s the worst way to die imaginable? Not a nice question, I agree, but surely we’ve all contemplated the possibilities and one always comes up “worst”: being eaten, right? Being “consumed” by something isn’t just “dying”, it’s being reduced to another creature’s “food”! Everything you think you are — a husband, a wife, a friend, a lover, a son or a daughter, a rogue or a scholar — no, fool — you’re roughage, hopefully without too much cholesterol or sodium. From a shark’s point of view, you’re shark shit pre-shark. You just don’t know it. Yet.
Our news media thinks perspective is what happens AFTER the shark eats you. “Hey, don’t jump in that water,” they think journalism is, “We know there are sharks in it!” Yes, the news is important — but we all saw what happened. News of a shark might have been MORE helpful BEFOREHAND.
Was there evidence of a shark swimming around before the story even started? “Well,” the news media says, “We didn’t see any dorsal fins, so we assumed the coast was clear!” Ah, but “didn’t see any” and “so therefore they weren’t there” don’t necessarily hook up. Hey, news media — didja look? Did you LOOK for sharks in water known to be infested with them? The truth is — where Donald Trump is concerned, for instance, you didn’t!
The news media didn’t report Trump as a “shark in the water” because they didn’t realize that that’s what he was — despite the fact that they’d reported him behaving that way forever! The Steele Dossier exists because such reporting existed — that Trump was a shark who’d used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money. That’s what Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, the research firm hired by Republicans backing Marco Rubio (the owners of the conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon) testified to before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017. Before engaging in the actual assignment, Fusion did its “due diligence” first. They got ahold of every bit of publicly available material they could on Trump — every newspaper story, magazine article, TV or radio appearance, every book, every video, every everything if it happened in a way that anyone could look at it or hear it.
What Fusion found there — in publicly available material — Simpson testified, convinced them that Donald Trump was likely an international criminal. They approached Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis) because Steele, former head of the MI6’s Russia desk, had the very best contacts inside Russia. And Steele was reliable. When the FBI wanted to go after FIFA’s Sepp Blatter for corruption, they hired Steele. Fusion hired Steele because he offered unparalleled PERSPECTIVE.
What Chris Steele found — and put into his collection of raw intel — the Dossier — convinced HIM that Trump wasn’t just an international criminal, he was an out-and-out TRAITOR.
The further one pulls back the camera on Trump, on the Republicans, on what they’ve done here, on how clearly they’re owned by a hostile foreign power engaged in a literal cyber war against us, the clearer one sees treason. Treason, treason and nothing but treason.
Yeah, America — we’re gonna need a much bigger boat here. If only our news media had done what Glenn Simpson did — THEIR DUE DILIGENCE. If only they would have screamed and shouted “SHARK!” when they reported (a year after it happened but, still — they reported it!) how the Republican leadership KNEW for a fact that Trump was owned by Russia but deliberately kept that fact a secret. This really happened: current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leadership a month before their convention and said — out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” No one said “Say, what? Are you sure, Kevin? Hey, someone — get the FBI on the phone — WE have a problem — our candidate is probably compromised by Russia!” No, instead, the Republican leadership — then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — insisted that everyone there “keep it in the family”.
The GOP chose omerta over patriotism.
If our press could aggregate a story the way stories are supposed to be aggregated — where you keep adding information and then building upon what you know (instead of tossing it as if it never happened and returning to a kind of “Square One of Ignorance” every damned day) — we would already equate Donald Trump and Republicans with extreme corruption. We’d already have connected the Donald Trump dot and the Russia dot — and connected them to the Republican Party dot and the Elections 2016 and 2020 dots.
If our news media didn’t accept as gospel truth everything that tumbles from a Republican’s mouth — Bill Barr, say — they might have READ the Mueller Report rather than ACCEPTING what Bill Barr said it said. Jesus, even AFTER they’d read the report, the majority of American journalists STILL go along with Barr’s take that it says “Trump didn’t do anything”. No — that’s NOT what it says. And, we now know, even what it says was squeezed and compromised and limited to a very small question — concerning Trump’s direct communications with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. We know that then acting AG Rod Rosenstein deliberately lied to both Team Mueller and the FBI — ending the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump and Russia while allowing Team Mueller and the FBI to think the other was doing that work.
Hey — how often did anyone in our news media point out the cool historical fact that Donald Trump was the first president ever to run for re-election in the very election he’d been impeached for cheating in? Not many. And yet — Trump continued to cheat every single day — in front of everyone — as if he’d never been impeached for doing the very same thing! Imagine if our press had aggregated even a fraction of what they themselves had reported!
I’m a fan of the journalist, lawyer, professor Seth Abrahams. Abrahams’ method is to aggregate what the press has reported so as to present the fullest possible picture of what we KNOW (because it’s been sourced by the press) with the widest possible perspective. In essence, he’s doing what Fusion GPS did — using what we know to paint a picture of what we should be using as the BASIS for our thinking. By simply reporting what’s been reported — a kind of massive due diligence — Seth Abrahams isn’t just a canary in a coal mine, he’s the closest thing to “Absolute Truth” we have.
What is v what is not. The more perspective we have, the better! And even the perspective we have — now that we’re using it to see the world — tells us the boat we chose won’t be good enough. The shark’s already chewing on it.
This shark won’t go quietly. There’s no point negotiating with it. It’s going to come down to a simple question of Him or Us.
While we decide however, can we do ourselves one kindness — yeah: a bigger boat.
Here’s a basic storytelling rule of thumb: good people behave like good people and criminals behave like criminals. That’s how storytellers signal to their audience that the story they’re telling takes place in a world we all recognize. Now — if it’s a good story, the good people may turn out to be criminals and one or two of the criminals may turn out to be good people. But, we’ll see all that in the context of the story. Actions and thoughts will tell us who the real good people and criminals are just before the final fade out. Regardless of who turns out to be what, when the full picture is revealed, good people will have behaved like good people and criminals will have behaved like criminals.
That’s why Fusion hired Christopher Steele (and his company Orbis). Steele had excellent contacts and sources inside Russia, having run MI6’s Russia desk.
To see Donald Trump as just a “different kind of POTUS” (as many in our news media still do), is to see Al Capone as just “a different kind of businessman” or Pol Pot as “just a different kind of politician”. Yeah, okay — you could say that and you’d be right, but… it’s kinda beside the point. But, if you don’t see Trump as a criminal — either because you truly don’t see him that way or because you refuse to — then you are reporting on a Donald Trump who doesn’t actually exist except maybe inside your head.
Example — NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell. She seems like a very nice person. That very nice person should find another line of work. She’s not particularly good at journalism — all her awards be damned. Kelly is a lipstick-wearing steno pad. She thinks “journalism” is repeating back the words people speak to her. But Kelly doesn’t leave it at that — just repeating, say, what Donald Trump says. No, Kelly goes the extra mile. She “characterizes” Trump’s bullshit — she “puts it into his voice” — speaks what she insists is Trump’s thinking behind it all.
Oh, FFS! Kelly’s a nice person — we all agree. Donald Trump isn’t. He’s a rapist and a racist and a bigot and a serial adulterer and an abusive parent and a criminal and a traitor (that’s just for starters). His thought process doesn’t work the same way Kelly’s does. He doesn’t justify himself to himself the way Kelly justifies herself to herself. So, when Kelly applies how SHE thinks to how Trump thinks — it’s completely wrong. The person she’s describing — Trump on the outside, Kelly O’Donnell on the inside — DOES NOT EXIST except in Kelly’s soft, mushy mind.
Kelly’s not the only offender here. It’s the rare working journalist who’ll put themselves inside Trump’s head. “We can’t know what he’s thinking,” they insist — as if Trump’s own words, whole PATTERNS of thinking and the assurances of those who know him weren’t enough to convince THEM. FFS — in a civil trial, all one needs is 51% certainty to win and what is the news media if not a court of PUBLIC opinion?
In most talking head panels, they’ll allow for 90% of the spectrum of possible explanations for Trump’s behavior. He’s completely innocent is at one far end. But, look to the other far end — it’s not there: that’s the missing 10% (generously assuming that total innocence and total guilt are equally likely when only total guilt actually is). Think about that — these conversations between serious people will allow that Trump could be completely innocent but completely guilty? No way! If you can’t allow for the possibility that Trump is 100% a criminal — and does what he does BECAUSE he’s 100% a criminal — then when you put yourself inside his head and (try to) stare out into the world through Trump’s red-rimmed eyes, you’re mis-reporting it. Hell, you’re not seeing it, period.
Want to know why Trump will do anything and everything to stay POTUS for the rest of his life? HE’S A CRIMINAL! He’s been protected all this time by that ludicrous DoJ RULE (it’s not a LAW) — put in place to hinder Nixon and Agnew! Without it, Trump would have been indicted eons ago. Team Mueller would NOT have felt constrained; they held back accusing Trump because that same rule prevented Trump from, in essence, defending himself. A technicality has kept the most corrupt president in the country’s history in power.
If you think of Trump that way — desperate to avoid testifying under oath because you will perjure yourself because you ARE a stone cold criminal and a traitor — then his behavior isn’t mystifying at all. The dots all connect and the picture you get is complete and logical. But, as we know — it ain’t just Trump.
Our news media scratches its head even harder when it tries to make sense of Republicans. “Why, oh why do Republicans go along with this madness?” our press asks itself. They all must be terrified of Trump. Terrified of his voters. Yes and yes. But it’s bigger than that. Prison is the bigger motivator — fear of going to prison and dying in prison. The split second Trump has a legal nightmare, so will virtually every single Republican — because that’s how conspiracy works. See something, SAY something. See something, say NOTHING? An actual journalist should ask “WHY?” Why say nothing? Who are you protecting?
It’s the storyteller’s job to keep the heroes and the villains straight inside their head. To do that though, you have to have a deeper grasp of who they really are. You have to look past the icing and dig into the cake beneath. Imagine you’ve just taken a mouthful of rotten cake — made even more horrible because the icing was so pretty. No projectile vomiting allowed! Now — describe the taste in your mouth.
I bet the only thing you say about the icing is how deceiving it was. Now, please — go on! Tell us how terrible that cake tasted and still tastes. Tell us how you might never get its essence out of your mouth or senses even. Finally — how do you feel about the baker? Put yourself inside HIS mind as he concocts the flavor he intends to fool you into tasting.
I always wonder this about Kelly O’Donnell. If Trump (because he’s Trump) said “I know for a fact that Kelly O’Donnell eats children!”, would Kelly faithfully report it even though she’s pretty certain that she doesn’t eat children and never has? Or would Kelly — as she always does — repeat the words simply because Trump said it?
I betcha Kelly would (finally) draw a line. I bet that she’d (finally) step outside of her ivory tower of “both sides do it”. She certainly wouldn’t put herself inside Trump’s thought process so as to personalize WHY he thinks Kelly does this terrible thing because, she’d know, every thought she’s attributing to Trump is utter bullshit.