A weird story that will probably continue to simmer for the remaining months of the
2106 2016 Presidential election: what are Donald J Trump's ties to Russian interests? How can the purported ties be established in fact? Is there any record that can be examined? Would Trump tax returns show something hinky or surprising in this regard?
The biggest headline is that experts named and un-named have found the fingerprints of the Russian state on the Wikileaked DNC emails. That the supposedly "Romanian" 'Guccifer' was a Russian FSB agent. That is no surprise. What is surprising is how common-sense rational inquiry flies out the window, and how unusual are Mr Trump's policies in contrast to the bipartisan stance that views Russia as a non-democracy opposed to Western values.
The Russian "Connection" with Trump takes three main forms:
- Russian Investment in Trump's real-estate ventures (rumoured and real)
Russian Interests represented by
Ash CarterCarter Page, a close Trump advisor on foreign policy/Paul Manafort's oligarchy-lobbying in DC
- USA/Russian policy changes under a Trump promise (ie, most significantly on NATO).
A few things stick out in my mind: the very specific way Mr Trump denied he has investments in Russia (without the corollary "I have no Russian-money investment in any of my projects and plans")**; the actual NATO/Russia policy changes Mr Trump has promised to put in action. The common-sense understanding that this is a weakness for the Trump campaign, not a winner. A slow drip kind of weakness.
A funny side-issue is Mr Trump's nomination for a Pulitzer Prize to the National Enquirer. Put that worthy news magazine's attention on Ted Cruz's father's involvement in the JFK assassination in perspective. Today, multiple lines of evidence suggest a corruption in the Trump machine, a back-door 'understanding' with the Russian point of view. It's the stuff of tabloids, and yet it could shake out true. If the roles were reversed (a Russian 'nod' to a Democratic candidate, etc), the drips would be Front Page News. That a Democrat refused to clear up the record by releasing tax returns would be scandalous, if not proof of the corruption of/meddling in American democracy by foreign interests.
[a CBS4 News 'exclusive' may not appear in all browsers. Here is the link to the breaking interview with Mr Trump:
CBS4 News Exclusive: Trump Denies Ties To Russia
July 27, 2016 1:09 AM By Jim DeFede ]
** '“Is that the theory? I haven’t heard that at all,” Trump told the Miami station. “I mean I haven’t heard that. But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”
Trump went on to say he has no outstanding loans with Russian banks or Russian investors.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”'
I predict this issue will hang and hang and drip and drip and become a millstone about The Candidate's Neck. His suggestion today that the FSB continue to probe US computer networks is not the kind of thing we have heard before in an election campaign.
I will of course revisit my prediction in the months to come. I smell smoke.