Friday, March 03, 2017

Trump's 'Russia connection': my theory

So, I've been thinking a lot about the Russians. 

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?


Anonymous said...

Corrupt bargain? I don't think so. I think the Russians didn't want Clinton to win, and I think Trump didn't want Clinton to win. That is the full extent of the conspiracy. About Russia wanting to influence our election? We are the USA, everybody's wants to influence our presidency. That doesn't make something a conspiracy or illegal, it just emphasized our importance internationally . For the Trump people, or Republican people talking to Russians? That's what people in the government and international business do everyday. No surprise there. My guess is that the conspiracy is on the part of the democrats to find any way to discredit the election. Am I that far off from what you said? ( I had technical difficulty posting my comment, sorry if you got duplicate submissions)

Fr Martin Fox said...


Thanks for the comment. May I ask you a question? Why should the Russians have any preference between Trump and Clinton? I am not saying you're wrong, but I just don't see where either of the two candidates last year represents any great advantage for Russia. What would you cite as reason for the Russians to disfavor Clinton?

Anonymous said...

Father Fox: My opinion is simply that the democratic administration under Obama did not work in their favor. The Russians simply looked at the democratic platform versus the republican and decided Trump was the better choice. They simply cast their unofficial vote in our election. They expressed an opinion and let that opinion be known. Their preference was simply based on diplomacy and politics and trade. In my opinion of course. They dealt with the democrats for eight years their advantage was an educated guess based on past experience. They just listened to the candidates just as we voters do. The disfavor of Clinton was liberal politics and the hostile diplomacy. At one point she, as Secretary of State, used a reset button to reset negotiations. Obviously that button did not work. It simply brought attention to the bad blood between the two groups.The disadvantage of Clinton was simply bad blood.

Kneeling Catholic said...



The Russian Orthodox Church is undergoing a tremendous revival under Putin, with church identification skyrocketting. This kind of parallels the skyrocketting of the self-identified 'Nones' in the US. As you probably remember we, the US, tried to embarrass Russia at the Olympics over some of their anti-gay measures.

Putin does condemn the West (and the US) for its anti-Christian blinders.
It's not a well kept secret that Hillary's twist on American foreign policy was her advocacy for LGBT rights throughout the world

If you are looking for a reason for Russians to disfavor Clinton, is this to simple an explanation?

Fr Martin Fox said...


OK, thanks. I'm not trying to pester you; but if you care to write back, can you be much more specific about what, in the two platforms, you think the Russians found so much more favorable?

Here's why I ask. As I recall, the GOP was fully supportive of NATO (even if Trump was making anti-NATO comments), and supported more military spending. The Dems would have been just as pro-NATO, but I think were advocating no big increase in military spending. Diplomatically, Clinton seemed to be for more intervention, Trump less. On trade, they were about the same. On oil and gas (a big deal to the Russians), Trump was almost certainly worse for the Russians than Clinton, because she was less favorable to fracking and building pipelines to help North American oil and gas production.

So, to me, there isn't any obvious advantage to the Russians in the GOP message; perhaps even significant disadvantage (military spending, fossil fuel production).

May I ask, are you suggesting that "bad blood" outweighed all these other considerations?

Fr Martin Fox said...


If your point is that you think Putin and company were tilting against Clinton for moral reasons, I find that very hard to believe.

Kneeling Catholic said...

you may be right, but I think you have to ignore the obvious to get to your position

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox: The short answer is that yes I do think "bad blood" was a fundamental consideration with a cultural clash inhibiting any progress. I have read how the Russian ego was badly bruised after the collapse of the USSR and that one thing Putin brought back was Russian identity. Clinton and the Democrats attacked that with the LGBT agenda as Kneeling Catholic suggested. The Democrats also attacked Russia over Syria, though on military issues I would not want to take sides . You are right, there is no difference regarding NATO. Militarily the biggest difference is in the mid-east (Syria), Clinton condemned Russian involvement and Trump wants to resolve the issue. For trade, the democrats seemed either ignorant or wanted to attach a social agenda to trade. In fairness, negotiations could take place with either party; Trump might have been slightly more business minded. Not a wash, but no great benefit with either. For energy, Trump supported US energy production which benefits Clinton like you said. Trump and his very smart Secretary of State would also negotiate with Russia, which makes that issue a near wash. The biggest political issue would seem to be the Mid-East, and for that Trump is more in agreement with Russia but with no definitive outcome. With all of that again I reach the conclusion of "bad blood." The sum total of involvement with both parties suggests Russia simply could not do business with a Clinton administration. There is no single issue(though Syria is a major one) but a whole bunch of smaller issues that influenced Russia's preference. Russia also knows that our Presidents are not dictators but that power is dispersed among various branches of government. That also defuses the conspiracy theory's. I can write a third response.

Anonymous said...

I should add that there are a whole bunch of smaller issues that might make Russia favor Republican over Democrat; but no major issue that would lead them to damage US-Russia relations. That's why I think so much of this news story is largely political hype.

gramps said...

Why wokd anyone be surprised that other countries would get involved in our elections or our affairs in general? In recent election in Israel, obama did everything possible to block Benjamin Netanyahu and he campaigned in England with threats on the vote to leave the EU in the Brexit vote. We have sent in CIA and weapons to unseat other countries leaders under obama and before him for multiple Presidnts. It is up to our country to block those efforts. Obama knew about russian efforts and if the idiots at the DNC were not so ignorant on email and he was not so stupod in allowing Hillary at home brew server email, they would not have succeeded. Now we know he was wire tapping Americans as we learned earlier he was spying on foreign leaders like Merkyl communications. They lost and cannot accept their status as losers and with willing media are trying for an overthrow of our elected government. Americans need to send a strong message to obama to go away and be quiet as his time is over...he is the EX president.

gramps said...

Obama towergate new explosions coming. What did obama know on wiretapping and when did he know it?

rcg said...

Russia will do what Russia believes is in its best interests. It is in Russia's best interest that the American political system remain weak until they can sort out Iran and Syria among other things. This sort of confusion, self doubt, and fighting among ourselves works in their favour regardless of who is president. The result of the hacking story is to create strife for everyone, not pick a winner.

Interestingly, the so called hacking revealed and published information through mostly foreign news sources but did not do anything other than reveal proof of information that was suspected all along. President Obama himself correctly noted that the revelations were unimportant. So all the Hackers did, even if it was not the Russians, was what the American news media should have done. It seems to me that if the US Constitution can be extended to protect the rights of citizens of other countries from interrogation without legal representation then it should also cover freedom of press for the KGB.

And what damage is alleged by the hacking? Did any machine get votes changed? It seems we can safely assume more votes were cast illegally with the help of various Catholic Charities than were altered by a Russian hacker.

I am not sure of anything except the Russians will take advantage of the situation for their own benefit. The drip of information may not come from them as it is not clear that the leaks were the fruit of their hacking. But we seem determined to blame each other for the allegation with no evidence. It was said in the American Revolution that we must all hang together or we will hang separately. The Russians seem to believe we now are willing the be hanged as long as the other fellow is hanged, too.