Trump is part of the ruling class. Why are you letting him off the hook for his lies? Yeah, I’m outraged about the Big Lies we are told by the powers that be (see: WMD, the 2017 tax cut, the need to slash earned benefits, capitalism full stop, et al). But his hush money payments are part of that….part of the con of this shameless grifter saying, “Trust me, I alone can fix Washington” and attacking his opponents for their alleged “crookedness” while hiding his own. It’s all of a piece. Not sure why you are so forgiving of him while so harsh on everyone else.

Don’t be distracted into dismissing it as “petty gossip” just b/c it’s sexual in nature. It’s the deceit itself, not even the details of what’s being hidden, that is criminal. Trump, of course, is also baldly lying about his entanglements with foreign powers — see again Trump Tower Moscow — which constitutes an ongoing compromise of national security and raises the legitimate question of whether or not he is in actual thrall to a hostile adversary. His actions in office certainly suggest that he is.

“it’s clear the members of his team [conspired with the Kremlin]”

That’s not clear at all. That was the charge they used to justify the FISA surveillance and the Mueller probe, which does not appear to have been substantiated at the time. And which it sounds like Mueller’s report will not substantiate.

I strongly disagree with you here. FISA surveillance began with Carter Page long before Trump was even running for office; the US IC was concerned about Trump’s own ties to Russia even before he was elected and even briefed senior members of Congress on that inquiry, but Mitch McConnell squashed it from being made public. All these inquires, including the appointment of the special counsel (prompted by the firing of Comey, which Trump openly bragged both to Lester Holt and to Lavrov and Kislyak was done to stop the Russia investigation) are based on irrefutably strong probable cause.

Since then, members of Trump’s circle have absolutely been show to have conspired with Russian assets: in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, in Roger Stone’s coordination with Wikileaks, in Manafort’s myriad entanglements with Kremlin associates (did that GOP platform on Ukraine just change itself?). The only question that remains is, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” Sound familiar? It strains credulity to believe that the famously controlling Mr. Trump was unaware of all that was going on in his house on those matters. Trump’s own public call for Russia to obtain Clinton’s emails, and the Kremlin cyber attack that occurred the very next day, could even be considered conspiracy in plain sight, or at the very least it was suspiciously timed, meriting further investigation. And his subsequent, active participation in the ongoing coverup — most obviously, personally dictating the lies about Don Jr’s 2016 meeting — implicate him in all of it after the fact at the very least.

As for what the Mueller report will show, neither you nor I have a farthing of an idea what will be in it, beyond what is already in the public record. To presume that it will not show X Y or Z simply because the famously circumspect Mr. Mueller has not yet shown his hand is foolish.

None of it makes any sense to begin with. Of all the Manchurian candidates the Kremlin might have picked, the erratic game show host who was sure to lose the election was peculiar choice. This is just more lies.

On the contrary. As a former military intelligence officer, I can say with confidence that he is precisely the kind of vulnerable target that a hostile foreign intelligence service would target: a megalomaniacal, bloviating wannabe celebrity with money problems, especially once every legitimate bank stopped loaning him money. The indisputable proof is in the gazillions of Russian dollars that flowed into the Trump business after 2000.

Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t think the Kremlin groomed Trump from 1986 to run for the presidency. But I DO think they identified him as a likely target that they could manipulate and exploit, and it’s clear that they did that via their financial hold over him. That’s not conjecture: they’ve got this guy in a position where he is trying to make secret multimillion dollar deals in Russia, as well as participating in money laundering for Russian oligarchs (which is to say, Putin’s circle) through demonstrably corrupt Deutsche Bank, and brazenly lying about it. Mission accomplished, as far as the KGB/FSB is concerned. Trump’s status as the subject of blackmail is playing out in public for all to see.

When that individual decided on his own to run for president, it was icing on the cake for the Kremlin to sow still more chaos in the American political system. I presume you don’t dispute that the Russians favored Trump in the election and worked to help defeat Hillary? I don’t think even the Kremlin expected him to win, but when he did, they were delighted and have been happy to continue using him as a monkey wrench in our gears ever since.

And when you say that is a “lie” (that he has been a tool of the Russians), who is doing the lying? Are you arguing that there is indeed some deep state conspiracy toward Trump?

While the Washington machine froths in anger that the Russians might have tried to influence who runs our government, those same people have us at war with several countries to get a leader they like installed. The dishonesty is breathtaking.

Agreed. But that does not mean we ought to tolerate Russian interference in our elections or our governance. We should be outraged about it all, on both sides.

“I don’t put Trump’s monstrous regime in the category of one of these distractions. On the contrary, it’s more like the flowering of that plutocracy.”

I don’t think you’re critical enough of pre-Trump Washington. Trump is by no means business as usual. The Establishment hates him. The Republican party were throwing themselves in front of buses to keep him from getting nominated. Now that he’s in office, the civil service is doing their best to undermine him, the Democrats to impeach him, the press to denounce him for everything he does.

The Establishment stopped hating him when he secured the GOP nomination. They have been all in for almost three years now, and prove it every day. Do members of the Washington elite find him personally distasteful? I’m sure they do. But they are in a Faustian bargain with this guy and they show no sign of breaking the deal. Exhibit A is Lindsey Graham, who went from attacking Trump as a con man to his most reliable lap dog, because his own electoral future in South Carolina depends on it.

I do think members of the professional political bureaucracy are working to contain the damage Trump is doing, but that is not the equivalent of some sinister deep state “undermining.” It’s more like firemen containing a fire. The Democrats have every right and every moral imperative to investigate him and impeach him if necessary. And I think your characterization of the press is deeply unfair and bordering on Trump’s own vilification of the media as an “enemy of the people.” What I see in the legitimate mainstream media is responsible journalists holding this dangerous charlatan to account even as he spreads lies as readily as he breathes. If anything they are too easy on him, according him the same civilized treatment as a garden variety politician, which he gleefully exploits.

I could understand if you take all that as just more theater. But I think the elite perceive him as an existential threat. Because he’s erratic, and because he’s not beholden to the normal power structure. They can’t trust him to stick to the catechism of perpetual war and perpetual theater.

I don’t agree. Per above, the Mitch McConnells of the world have made it very clear that they are happy to work with Trump, and indeed have found a way to use him to a advance their own hateful agenda, particularly on economics, which is all the “normal power structure” as you call it really cares about. Trump is a symptom of the disease ravaging our country, not the cause of it, and he is certainly not some beneficial disruptor who is going to “shake things up” in a positive way. The proof is in the papers every day, as Washington has never been more corrupt, venal, and destructive in almost every way: economics, immigration policy, the environment, deregulation, voting rights, etc etc. Even in military adventurism, Trump has not halted the ongoing “global war on terror” in any way, and even his erratic neo-isolationist moves on Syria and Afghanistan don’t reflect a coherent policy. He would gladly drag us into another catastrophic war if it suited his purposes — stay tuned.

Far from feeling threatened by Trump, the powers that be have never had it so good.

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Writer, filmmaker, and veteran — blogging at The King’s Necktie @TheKingsNecktie

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