The Circle Is Closed, the Trump Conspiracy With the Russians Is Almost Certain!
Best of Buddies
The fact is, Donald Trump squeaked by in winning the 2016 presidential election. It boiled down to less than 90,000 votes across three formerly Blue states, Pennsylvania (44,292 - 0.7%), Wisconsin (22,748 - 0.8%), and Michigan (10,704 - 0.2%). There is no question that Secretary Clinton' inept campaign strategy, poor decisions, and lack of charisma set the stage for a Trump victory. But even THAT wasn't enough because other factors interfered to convince enough voters to 1) not vote Democratic, 2) vote for a 3rd Party, or 3) vote for Donald Trump.
Those factors were:
- FBI Director Comey's decision to tell America that Hillary Clinton was back under investigation just days before the vote (I saw a noticeable decrease in poll numbers for Clinton)
- The massive social media campaign conducted by the Russians for the benefit of Donald Trump
Initially, it wasn't well understood shortly after the election the sophistication of the Russian onslaught to change American voter's minds. But after two years of investigation by the Senate, the FBI, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, it is know indisputable that Vladimir Putin had social media "weaponized" for the sole purpose of helping Donald Trump become President of the United States.
When information began filtering out about the Russian attack on our system of democracy, I didn't think it was enough to have flipped 90,000 votes. Now, after so much evidence has been published, I have no doubt in my mind that the Russians put Trump in power.
The question that has been dogging Trump since he won, is "did he or his campaign help Putin in his effort to influence the outcome?"
1/8/2019 - STRIKE ONE!!! Paul Manafort's lawyers screwed up and let it be known that the Special Council was claiming that while he was Trump campaign manager, Manafort met with and passed on sensitive private polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, someone who the FBI is certain is connected to Russian intelligence.
2/15/2019 - STRIKE TWO!!! The Special Council dropped the second piece of evidence that Trump and his campaign conspired with the Russians to fix the 2016 presidential election - direct communications between Trump's long-time friend and consigliore, Roger Stone.
In the almost 2 years that Robert Mueller's team has been peeling back the Russian attack onion, he has produced quite a record for something that Trump calls a "witch hunt". Consider:
- Guilty, either found or pleaded.
- Michael Cohen - Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer" for over a decade
- George Papadopoulos - Foreign policy adviser to Trump 2016 campaign
- Alexander van der Zwaan - Dutch lawyer who worked with Manafort
- George Pinedo - On-line fundraiser for Trump campaign
- Paul Manafort - Trump campaign manager (recently revealed to have passed sensitive internal polling data to Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik)
- Rick Gates - Trump deputy campaign manager
- Gen Michael Flynn - National Security adviser for President Trump
- 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities - Russian social media trolls involved in swaying votes in America
- 12 Russian military intelligence officers - Hackers of American political entities and persons.
- Konstantin Kilimnik - Business partner of Manafort with ties to Russian intelligence
Still Under Investigation
- Roger Stone - Conspiracy theorist and Trump confidant for conspiring with Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, who released Democratic emails stolen by the Russians and fellow conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.
- Jerome Corsi - Conspiracy theorist who is alleged to have coordinated with Assange in releasing purloined emails
- Donald Trump Jr. - Son of Donald Trump who held meetings with Russians to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton
- Jared Kushner - Son-in-law and senior adviser of Donald Trump during the campaign and presidency who attended the same Trump Tower meeting as Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton
- Donald Trump - President of the United States for conspiring with the Russians to throw the election his way.
Lied About Meeting With Russians
The following people in Trump's orbit have met with Russians and have been caught lying about it.
- Gen Michael Flynn - former National Security Adviser (pleaded guilty) lied to the FBI, VP Pence and many others in the White House.
- Jeff Sessions - Former Attorney General (fired by Trump for recusing himself) lied to Congress during his confirmation and had to recuse himself from anything to do with Russia
- Michael Cohen - Trump's personal lawyer pleaded guilty to unrelated charges but is fully cooperating with the Mueller investigation. Was implicated in the "Dossier" as having had several contacts with Russians (which is proving to be true) and finally admitted that Trump was still conducting business with the Russians well into his campaign. Cohen is still publicly denying he met with the Russians and claimed in the Dossier.
- Jared Kushner - Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser met with Russians along with Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort in Trump Tower and publicly denied having done so - until it came out that he did.
- Donald Trump Jr. - Manages the Trump organization along with Ivanka and Jared Kushner. Publicly lied about meeting with Russians in Trump Tower along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.
- Paul Manafort - Trump's campaign manager (convicted, in jail) lied about many meetings with Russians including the Trump Tower meeting and recently revealed meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik in Spain to turn over sensitive Trump campaign polling data.
- Carter Page - Trump campaign foreign policy adviser and first person of interest by the FBI due to his close ties with the Russians and interest by Russian intelligence to turn him.
- Rick Gates - Trump's deputy campaign manager lied about his various meetings with Russians during the Trump campaign and has pleaded guilty to related charges. Gates is still cooperating with the Mueller probe.
- JD Gordon - Trump campaign foreign policy adviser met with the same Russians Gen Flynn did.
- George Papadopoulos - Trump campaign foreign policy adviser. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians.
- Roger Stone - Trump confidant and outside adviser. Probably will be indicted for his conspiracy with Corsi and Assange in the Russian theft of emails associated with the Clinton campaign.
- Ivanka Trump - Trump's daughter finally admitted to working with Russians regarding business propositions to build a Trump Tower in Russia during the campaign
- Michael Caputo - Trump campaign aide who coordinated with a Russian to facilitate Roger Stone's meeting with Russians.
- Avi Berkowitz - Long time Kushner associate and White House aide who also met with the Russian ambassador during the transition.
- Erik Prince - Trump envoy and brother to Education secretary Betsy DeVos met with Russian state banker Kirill Dmitriev.
- Felix Sater - A Trump business associate who worked with Cohen and Ivanka on the Trump Tower Moscow project.
- Anthony Scaramucci - Member of Trump transition team and later as White House communications director wrote an email to the promoter who played a role in setting up a meeting between Russians linked to the Kremlin and Donald Trump Jr.
Connecting the Dots
Until Jan 8, 2019, there was plenty of billowing smoke surrounding the public evidence implicating the Trump campaign, and possibly Donald Trump himself, in a conspiracy with the Russians to sway public voting opinion to Trump. Enough smoke to lay waste to Trump's claims of "witch hunt" and "no collusion".
Read the lists above again to get the full flavor of what Trump and his campaign is facing. Look at how many people have been indicted, how many people have pleaded or been found guilty, and look how many people are still being investigated. Yes, there is something there, there.
And now ... and now there is the revelation on Jan 8 that Paul Manafort, while he was Trump campaign manager, met with Konstantin Kilimnik, someone who the FBI is certain is connected to Russian intelligence, to deliver sensitive campaign polling data. Can anyone doubt where this information is going to end up - can you spell the Russian Internet Research Agency? Can anyone guess what the IRA is going to do with it? How about refine there social media warfare campaign to help target voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and encourage American voters to vote for Trump, or at the very least, not vote for Hillary Clinton.
The next dot came to light 2/15/2019 in the Special Council's filing against long-time Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone that Stone had DIRECT communications with Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0 which is the alias used by Russian intelligence to disseminate the documents. The import of that is someone within Trump's close circle was coordinating with foreign adversaries to throw the election to Trump - in my opinion successfully.
That, my friends, these are the so-called "smoking gun". That is conspiracy - not collusion, but real, illegal conspiracy. The Trump campaign manager conspired with a probable Russian intelligence agent to provide information that will help the Russians help Trump win the election. The circle is closed.
Let Me Explain Why
Let us start with the definition of Conspiracy. Conspiracy is - "a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful." Sounds simple doesn't it? So, what are the elements of proof prosecutors need to show to get a conviction of Conspiracy? They are:
- a showing that two or more people were in agreement to commit a crime.
- all conspirators 1 must have the specific intent to commit the objective of the conspiracy.
- conspiracy requires an “overt act” taken in furtherance of the crime
- Included in these three elements is the idea of "intent".
It is those three elements that the prosecutor must prove for someone to be convicted of criminal conspiracy.
Defrauding the Government
The underlying crime, if the conspiracy is true, is "Defrauding the Government". That is defined as -
"The general conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, creates an offense "[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose. (emphasis added)." (US DOJ)
Two rulings by the Supreme Court help define the scope of this federal crime.
Hass v. Henkel, 216 U.S. 462 (1910)
"The statute is broad enough in its terms to include any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government . . . (A)ny conspiracy which is calculated to obstruct or impair its efficiency and destroy the value of its operation and reports as fair, impartial and reasonably accurate, would be to defraud the United States by depriving it of its lawful right and duty of promulgating or diffusing the information so officially acquired in the way and at the time required by law or departmental regulation."
"To conspire to defraud the United States means primarily to cheat the Government out of property or money, but it also means to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest. It is not necessary that the Government shall be subjected to property or pecuniary loss by the fraud, but only that its legitimate official action and purpose shall be defeated by misrepresentation, chicane or the overreaching of those charged with carrying out the governmental intention."
Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182 (1924)
"The general purpose of this part of the statute is to protect governmental functions from frustration and distortion through deceptive practices. Section 371 reaches "any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of Government." Tanner v. United States, 483 U.S. 107, 128 (1987); see Dennis v. United States, 384 U.S. 855 (1966). The "defraud part of section 371 criminalizes any willful impairment of a legitimate function of government, whether or not the improper acts or objective are criminal under another statute." United States v. Tuohey, 867 F.2d 534, 537 (9th Cir. 1989)."
The point of these two citations is to make clear that the act of trying to change the outcome of a federal election through deception is illegal. And that when two or people are involved in that attempt (it doesn't have to be successful), if falls under 18 U.S.C. § 371.
The theory is that persons associated with the Trump campaign conspired with, in this case, the Russians to provide constructive help in the Russian attempts to conduct information warfare on the citizens of the United States with the goal of electing Donald Trump as president.
1 More recently, in some cases, intent only needs to be shown for the defendant(s) charged. In older cases, intent needed to be shown for all conspirators.
Can It Be Proved?
In my opinion, yes.
So, what are the pieces?
- Let's start with the act of illegal deception by the Russians with the goal of electing Trump. This is now established fact. Both the several intelligence agencies and the Senate Intelligence Committee came to this conclusion - Russia, under the direction of Vladimir Putin, acted through various social media outlets as well as hacking government and politic al institutions in order to get Donald Trump elected President of the United States. That is a crime to defraud the government of the United States.
- The first shoe to drop regarding collusion, unknown to the public, is when in Oct 2016, the FBI opened an investigation on Trump campaign foreign affairs adviser, Carter Page. The FBI first investigated Page as a possible agent of Russia in 2014, but dropped it. It is interesting to note that Page was kicked out of the Eurasia Group because of his pro-Russia stance.
- The next shoe, again in the background, was the publication of the so-called Steele Dossier, the result of oppo research by first Trump's GOP competitors and later picked up by the DNC and Clinton campaign. In it Steele, a well respected British ex-spy, presented a series of memos strongly suggesting coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. It also included allegations which could lead to blackmail of Trump by Russia.
- Next, in early January 2017, leaks revealed illegal meetings, not tied to directly to conspiracy, between campaign adviser Gen Michael Flynn and the Russian foreign minister (and others) in December 2016 to discuss future governmental matters. Trump was later forced to fire him as the recently appointed National Security Adviser for lying to Vice President Pence and others about these meetings. Flynn subsequently was indicted for lying to the FBI and pleaded guilty. He is still awaiting sentencing while providing additional information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team.
- Also not directly tied to conspiracy, but adding to the environment, was former Attorney General Jeff Sessions being caught having lied during his Senate confirmation hearing about meetings with various Russians, including its foreign minister, outside his duties as a sitting Senator. He later recused himself from any investigation into Russia. In November 2018, Trump fired him for doing so.
- Following this was the rat-a-tat-tat of indictments of Russians trying to influence the outcome of the American presidential election and of Trump campaign officials who have had secret contacts with Russians associated with those trying to help Trump win.
- On June 9, 2016, the first real act of conspiracy occurred when Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with five others including a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.1 The goal of the meeting, as told to Trump Jr., was to get "dirt" on Hilary Clinton. On the face of it, if proved, that is conspiracy to defraud the government. After the meeting was revealed in Jun 2017, the Trump's and their lawyers went to great lengths of put a different face on it. In the process Donald Trump lied to the public, reporters, his lawyers, and about anybody else he could.
- In the intervening time, Roger Stone, a Trump adviser and confidant, and others were allegedly involved with Wikileak's Julian Assange's release of Russian purloined emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign.
- During Michael Cohen's sentencing hearing on Nov 29, 2018, it came out that he lied to Congress about when Trump stopped trying to convince the Russian's to let him build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Instead of ending in January 2016, it really carried on until at least June 2016, well into Trump's campaigning.
- Finally, as I said, on Jan 8, 2019 the final piece fell into place (at least for a non-judicial conclusion) when it was accidentally revealed that Mueller knows that Paul Manafort, while he was the Trump campaign chairman, turned over sensitive internal raw polling data to one of the central Russian players in the attack on America - Konstantin Kilimnic. There can only be one use of that information by the Russians and that is to help refine their targeting of American voters with pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messaging.
Can there be any doubt anymore?
1 She was recently indicted by the Southern District of New York on unrelated charges. But the relevant point is part of their case is that she is closely tied to the Russian government, a fact denied as it relates to her meeting with Trump. campaign officials.
It Only Took A Day ...
... for another shoe to drop. And what a shoe it is - Paul Bunyan size!! BuzzFeed published a story Thursday night (1/17/19) claiming they had evidence that Donald Trump TOLD his lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the timing of his business relationships with Russia. The story, if true, is one of the smoking guns of obstruction of justice, a felony. It will be undeniable.
Backing up their claim, BuzzFeed says they have testimony from Cohen, and admitted liar, as well as emails, texts, and other documentation for third party witnesses to Trump's crime. Presumably, Robert Mueller has all of this information already. If it all pans out, even Republicans will be forced to convict Donald Trump in an impeachment trial.
There is also the possibility that the evidence is so clear-cut and egregious that Mueller might drop his position of not indicting a sitting president and actually do so.
NOTE - the next day the Mueller team released a very rare press release saying that some parts of the BuzzFeed report, relating to their investigation, was "inaccurate". BuzzFeed says it stands by its story and sources and is trying to understand specifically what Mueller was referring to.