WHERE ARE THE KIDS?
Never forget the children whom Trump separated from their families at the border. They won’t forget the experience. And some of them will never see their parents again.
DON’T BURY THE LEDE
This week’s key update in the Trump-Russia Timeline is Trump’s tweet on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018:
That’s a multi-purpose admission. Let’s count the ways:
— Trump and his enablers have said repeatedly that the primary purpose of the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting was to discuss Russian adoptions. Those were lies.
— “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent” from Russia to help Trump win the 2016 election. That’s a crime.
— In July 2017, when confronted with reporters from The New York Times preparing to run the first story about the June 9 meeting, Trump dictated a statement for his son to use as a response. It was a lie.
— Trump’s enablers — notably his attorney Jay Sekulow — repeated the lies on national television. So did Mike Pence, Don Jr., Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and others in a long list of Trump enablers.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Aug. 5, 2018, Sekulow tried to explain away his misstatements of a year earlier as the result of “bad information.” Who gave Sekulow that “bad information”? All lying roads lead to Trump.
As I’ve said previously, the Trump-Russia scandal and subsequent efforts to cover it up are putting Trump’s lawyers in need of their own attorneys. Prediction: As in Watergate, some Trump enablers with law degrees will go to jail.
Monumentally toxic clients have that gift. It keeps on giving.
Use the Timeline for Context
Trump’s Aug. 5, 2018 admission provides an opportunity to explore another feature of the Trump-Russia Timeline. The name filter sorts entries relevant to a particular person (or persons — you can click on multiple names at the same time). That’s one helpful feature. But additionally, for events such as the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the July 2017 cover-up, the Timeline provides crucial context for new developments. One of those developments is Trump’s Aug. 5, 2018 admission.
CONTEXT: June 9, 2016 Meeting
Start with this entry: “JUNE 3, 2016: Don Jr. Receives Russian Offer of Info to ‘Incriminate’ Clinton.” Then proceed chronologically, reviewing each Timeline entry up to and including this one: “JUNE TO NOVEMBER 2016 “Translator Project” in Full Swing”
CONTEXT: July 2017 Cover-up
Start with this entry: “DURING THE WEEK OF JUNE 19, 2017: Trump Lawyers Reportedly Learn About Emails Relating to June 9, 2016, Meeting.” Then proceed chronologically, reviewing each Timeline entry up to and including this one: “SEPT. 7, 2017: Don Jr. Talks to Senate Judiciary Committee, Denies Telling Trump About Meeting in Advance”
Facts and context are Trump’s mortal enemies and American democracy’s greatest allies.
MEANWHILE, THE MARIA BUTINA THREAD UNRAVELS ANOTHER SWEATER…
As with the last update, some of the most intriguing entries in the latest update to the Trump-Russia Timeline relate to Maria Butina.
In 2011, at age 23, Butina was furniture store manager in Siberia. Living in a country with strict gun control laws, she started a gun rights organization. Before long, she connected somehow with Alexander Torshin, a close Putin ally in the upper house of the Russian parliament and deputy governor of Russia’s central bank. From 2012 to 2014, a Russian oligarch helped to fund her efforts. In 2015, Butina was hobnobbing with top leaders of the National Rifle Association when they visited Moscow. One of them, Paul Erickson, became her paramour.
By September 2016, Butina was attending dinners at the Swiss embassy where she met J. D. Gordon, who had been a national security adviser for Trump and was anticipating a spot on Trump’s transition team. He invited her to attend a concert in mid-October 2018; she agreed. That month, he invited her to his birthday party; she attended.
Go to the Timeline and click on J. D. Gordon’s name. Although underreported, he has always been an important player in the Trump-Russia Timeline. The entire world is discovering just how important.
AND THEN THERE”S THESE…
Trump’s tweet-admission and the Maria Butina story will continue to have legs. But so will these highlights from the latest update:
— Russians are continuing to attack US elections, according to the heads of US intelligence agencies. But Trump continues to ridicule assertions that Putin attacked the 2016 election — which he did — as a “hoax.” Last August, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who faces a tough re-election campaign in a state that Trump won by almost 20 points, had a personal encounter with Russia’s deadly serious cyberattacks aimed at American democracy.
— Paul Manafort‘s first trial is underway. Although his shady dealings are not likely to shape the overall Trump-Russia narrative, a few interesting nuggets are emerging. One is the magnitude of Manafort’s financial distress at the time he offered to join the Trump campaign — and work full-time without pay. And keep an eye on Rick Gates, whose future testimony relating to the larger Trump-Russia scandal could be far more damning than anything he tells the jury in Manafort’s case.
— Rudy Giuliani continues to perform his role: chief custodian of shiny objects that he and Trump deploy to attract attention and distract from Trump’s burgeoning legal problems. Giuliani has become a poster child for attorney incompetence that simultaneously undermines the rule of law. Someday, maybe the media will stop booking his TV appearances and quoting his remarks in otherwise reputable news publications.
Last but not least, Trump’s attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation have intensified in number, duration, and tone. It’s not the behavior of an innocent man. Nor are Trump’s actions consistent with a belief that he will get away with whatever he has done wrong. Trump acts as if Vladimir Putin has something on him. Ironically, even Trump himself may not know for sure what it is.
Here’s a complete list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline:
2011: Butina Launches Gun Rights Group in Russia
APR. 15, 2012: Torshin Promotes Butina’s Gun Rights Group; Gets Support from Oligarch
BETWEEN 2012 to 2014: Russian Oligarch Supports Butina
DECEMBER 11, 2015: NRA Leaders Meet with Wife of Butina’s Financial Backer
MARCH 10-11, 2016: Butina Works With ‘US Person 1’; Thanks ‘US Person 2’ for Helping US-Russia Relations (revision of previous entry)
MARCH 29, 2016: Trump Hires Manafort, Who Is Broke But Agrees to Work for Nothing (revision of previous entry)
SPRING 2016: Russian Attackers Infiltrate US Utilities
SEPT. 16, 2016: Butina Tries to Schedule ‘Friendship and Dialogue’ Dinner (revision of previous entry)
SEPT. 29, 2016: Butina Meets J. D. Gordon; Contacts Continue Through October
NOV. 30, 2016: Butina Writes About Establishing US-Russia ‘Back Channel’ (revision of previous entry)
AUG. 30, 2017: Trump Attacks McCaskill in Missouri; Meanwhile, Russia Attempts to Hack Her Campaign
JULY 23, 2018: Manafort Trial Delayed to July 31
JULY 23, 2018: Trump Considers Revoking Security Clearances of Critics
JULY 24, 2018: Trump Tweets: Russia ‘Will Be Pushing Very Hard For the Democrats’ in Midterm Elections
JULY 24, 2018: Burr: ‘Sound Reasons’ for Judges to Approve FISA Warrant
JULY 24, 2018: Trump Tweets ‘Witch Hunt’ in Promoting New ‘Russia Hoax’ Book
JULY 25, 2018: Trump Tweets About Cohen Tapes
JULY 25, 2018: Bolton Blames ‘Witch Hunt’ for Delaying Putin’s White House Visit
JULY 25, 2018: Eleven GOP Members of Congress Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against Rosenstein
JULY 26, 2018: Mnuchin in “Productive Discussions” to Lift Sanctions Against Rusal
JULY 26, 2018: White House Corrects Helsinki Transcript
JULY 26, 2018: Trump Organization CFO Called Before Cohen Grand Jury
JULY 26, 2018: Trump Tweets ‘Witch Hunt’
JULY 27, 2018: Trump Open to Putin Invitation to Moscow
JULY 29, 2018: Trump Tweets Attack Mueller
JULY 30, 2018: Giuliani Appears to Concede Pre-Meeting ‘Strategy’ Session Before June 9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting, Then Walks It Back
JULY 31, 2018: Manafort’s First Trial Begins
JULY 31, 2018: Trump Tweets: ‘Collusion is Not a Crime,’ But There Wasn’t Any (By Trump)
JULY 31, 2018: Deripaska’s Firm Gets Deadline Extension on Sanctions
AUG. 1, 2018: Trump Tweets That Sessions Should Terminate Mueller Investigation; Slams Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page; Sanders Doubles Down
AUG. 1, 2018: Trump Distances Himself From Manafort, But Says Feds Treat Manafort Worse Than Al Capone
AUG. 1, 2018: Trump Tweets About Book on ‘Russia Hoax’
AUG. 2, 2018: US Intel Chiefs Warn About Ongoing Russian Election Interference; Trump Then Decries ‘Russia Hoax’
AUG. 2, 2018: Bipartisan Group Proposes Tougher Russian Sanctions
AUG. 4, 2018: Hicks Travels with Trump
AUG. 5, 2018: Trump Worries and Tweets About Don Jr.
AUG. 5, 2018: Sekulow Backtracks