Last Saturday, I posted a note setting out a series of links which, on the face of it, appear to support my contention made months ago that, when push came to shove, the whole Trump-Russia fandango would turn out to be a longstanding and somewhat ugly saga to do with dirty money.
A CNN interview between Jake Tapper and Marco Rubio this past Sunday underscored in my mind another point I’ve been addressing the last several months: why it is that so many politicians and officials – and not just Republicans – seem to have been dancing around what they say is the readily-available evidence.
Even a cursory browse through last Saturday’s note, subject to the caveat that the allegations have not yet been subjected to full legal examination, even a cursory browse suggests that the matters covered, taken in their entirety, have been under way for many years now, and that all of them were, in fact, readily available for any half-baked investigation to expose.
I mean no disrespect to either Grant Stern or Scott Dworkin, the two gentlemen seemingly at the heart of the expose, but they are neither one exactly world-renowned investigative journalists. They are a couple of observant guys, who took the time to ask some questions, and follow a trail.
I have written previously about a restaurateur in Washington, DC, who has himself become something of an acknowledged public expert on Trump-Russia, simply because he picked up a phone.
So, how come the Washington cognoscenti, politicians and press, are being so coy about evidence now? And how come no-one turned up any of this before now?
It’s all very well Marco Rubio doing the Mr. Responsible act on Sunday. But surely his opposition research turned up at least some of this during the Republican Primary? And yet, he felt it more important to make jokes about hand size, rather than putting forward a calm recitation of facts that would have evidenced a clear conflict of interest for a man standing for President?
Of course, it could be much worse. The former British MI6 agent, allegedly behind the compilation of the original BuzzFeed dossier, which forms the basis of the investigations outlined in my Saturday post, that British agent is on record as stating that he was compiling his dossier as opposition research for opponents of Donald Trump. In other words, senior politicians like Marco Rubio, if not Marco Rubio himself, had in front of them proof that there was a disaster in the making, and they did nothing.
Let’s get this absolutely clear. If the evidence seemingly unearthed by the investigations referenced in my Saturday note has basis in fact, then a man who had declared himself fit and unencumbered for the office of President, decided, after such a declaration, and during the ensuing Presidential campaign, that his business organization should become the lead broker in the multi-billion dollar and rather suspect privatization of the primary Russian state agency (Rosneft) dealing with the trading of Russian state-owned oil. And he further determined that there was no need to bring this to the attention of the American voting public.
Which is of itself a rather cruel irony, bearing in mind that Trump’s primary allegation of corruption against Hillary Clinton was that she had allowed an alleged donation to the Clinton Foundation, by an entity with apparent Russian connections, to influence her vote on the proposed purchase by a Russian state oil agency of an interest in a Canadian oil company.
The Rosneft privatization, and Trump’s brokering of it, continued through the Republican Primary and then into the General Election, achieving culmination only at the beginning of this year. During which time, again if the conclusions reached by the referenced investigations are upheld, it is suggested that the personnel of both Trump’s business and political organizations essentially pooled resources and rendered any and all activities, especially as they related to Russia, subservient to the successful conclusion of the Rosneft privatization, producing a series of quite serious and possibly criminal conflicts of interest.
For example, it becomes clear that Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the US about sanctions, which conversations took place during the Presidential transition, weren’t merely some ill-advised political interference, but were actually to discuss and determine if the new Obama sanctions against Russia might interfere with the continuing privatization.
When the whole Trump-Russia saga first came to light, I stated quite forcefully that what we were being presented with didn’t make sense. On the one hand, we were being told, over and over again, as Marco Rubio did once again yesterday, that there were serious allegations and consequences. Yet, on the other hand, no-one would come forward with supporting evidence. Merely hints.
The dichotomy now makes sense. Either people like Rubio did know what was going on, and did nothing. Or they did not know, and they clearly should have done. More than this, if nothing was done, and had not been done for many years, if not decades, again, the question needs to be asked: why not?
And there, I fear, we may come to the true story, behind all these stories. Folks did know what Trump was doing. But, it was hands-off. Because he was proving useful. No-one raised the information during his several runs at the Presidency, because no-one thought those runs would get anywhere.
Which may be why Trump himself found no cause to believe there was a conflict between his candidacy and the continuation of his brokering of the huge and suspect privatization of a world power’s primary state oil trading agency – because he too had no reason to believe his Presidential candidacy would be taken seriously.
And by the time the American public made clear that they did take Trump’s campaign seriously, it was too late to come clean. Too late for Trump. And too late for his opponents.
At which point, Trump, with either casual disregard, or deliberate and venal intent, decided that the best thing to do was to dig in, and simply collate the privatization and his other business interests with his Presidential effort. Which leads us to the confusing and possibly criminal mess we find ourselves in today.
A mess which, when the facts do all eventually come out, and the dust has settled, will leave very few political and media angels still standing. Everyone who was in a position to know either did know, should have known and/or sat on it. Until it was too late. Everyone who should have known better stood by silently, and allowed a crook to enter the White House.
This is not a charge which can be leveled only at Donald Trump. It is a charge which must be leveled at the entirety of the Washington political and media establishment. Including Marco Rubio. Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders. And Elizabeth Warren.
There could, however, be one final, cruel irony: The Donald might well achieve his primary stated political intention. The net result of his Trojan Horse effort, whether deliberate, accidental or merely casual, could well be the devastation of the Washington elite in the eyes of many ordinary Americans.
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