The story this week about complaints that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wasn't properly forthcoming in the testimony he gave in the process of being considered for his present job, is only the latest in the drip-drip-drip of items in this "Russian interference" file. The whole thing has become so unwieldy that it's hard to keep track of just what we're talking about. But it all seems to boil down to two things:
-- an attempt to influence the 2016 election, and
-- a claim that the someone in the Trump Campaign was coordinating with the Russians.
My cogitations always come back to the same place: does this really seem plausible?
I have a theory, but let me get there through a bit of a circuit. Let's start with some assumptions. Let's assume both the assertions above are true. Here are the questions that occur to me:
1) Regardless of whose idea it was (Russia's or Trump's), why would the Trump Campaign think this was a good idea? Why trust the Russians? If Trump's people pursued this to any degree, doesn't that give the Russians a juicy bit of blackmail material? Are we to believe no one in the Trump organization could see that?
Think about it: the Russians would have all the cards in such a negotiation. They could always decide, later, that they didn't need the deal, and make the whole thing public. If they decided Mrs. Clinton was going to win, such a move couldn't do them any harm. Alternately, they could wait until Trump is elected, and then blackmail the new administration for even more than was called for in the original bargain. What leverage would the Trump side of this ever have?
2) If you are the Trump people, considering this sort of deal, how do you know the Russians will deliver?
3) It also occurs to me that if the Russians wanted some sort of deal, it's no good unless Trump is certainly on board; after all, who else can deliver whatever consideration they sought out of the deal? So if there was a deal, it must have included Trump.
4) The thing about conspiracies (this is one of many reasons you should automatically reject conspiracy theories with extreme prejudice) is that they are really, really hard to keep secret. Doubt me? Look at this conspiracy!
5) What would the Russians really have to gain by a deal with Trump? For that matter, just why would tipping the election his way be to their advantage? What could he do for them, realistically? Yes, he was negative about NATO, but think about it: what do you think would happen to any President who wrecked NATO, to the advantage of Russia? (Note that Trump has moved to give strong support for NATO.) What else could they realistically expect?
Other than his noise about NATO, what else about Trump's campaign would appeal to the Russians?
6) If there was a deal, why was there all this activity which we're learning about now? The thing the Left is glomming onto is the very thing that makes me doubt the story: the supposedly abundant contacts between Trump's people and the Russians. If you were going to make a sordid deal like this, the one thing you would certainly do is keep it as quiet and hidden as possible.
If you're not with me, I ask: if there was a corrupt bargain between Russia and Trump, is there any scenario under which either side wants it to become known? I can't think of one.
There's a scene in the film, Minority Report, where one of the characters -- a police officer -- comes on a crime scene with all manner of evidence, spread out in full view. He calls it an "orgy of evidence," and explains that it's cause for suspicion -- it was all obviously planted in order to be discovered.
That's exactly what all these "contacts" look like to me.
If you think there really was an attempt at a corrupt bargain, you have to wonder why neither anyone on Trump's side, nor anyone on the Russian side, had sense to make sure the contacts were as minimal and secret as possible. In short, you have to claim they were all idiots, and that seems utterly implausible. A businessman like Trump -- and certainly a former KGB officer (i.e., Putin) -- would know better.
So what would be the possible reason to have all these contacts, all this sloppiness, this "orgy of evidence" that you can guarantee would be discovered?
That's the point: the Russians weren't looking for a deal, and no deal was made. Instead, the Russians wanted to create confusion and chaos. If their goal was to destabilize and undermine the new President, whether the information becomes public or not, they win. If secret, it might be useful as leverage; if it becomes public, it undermines the new President.
What do you think?