One of the most irritating parts about living in this madhouse political time is that the very worst people are suddenly influential. I literally couldn’t believe that, as of late, we were having a Sebastian Gorka moment, with his “ideas” being discussed on serious television programs, not to mention that he had actual influence in the White House. If you paid attention at all to CT, he was always this fringe idiot who was inexplicably taken seriously by a few people, but thankfully very few. He was more a persistent irritant. That he suddenly was everywhere was as boggled and distorted as the fact that some reality show idiot was being saluted by Marines.
But, on the other hand, people who you respect, who should have always been listened to more than bigoted fascists like Gorka, suddenly have their own moments, to help us explain how the reality TV dummy is President. For the last few months, that’s been Clint Watts. His testimony in the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday clarified what we should be talking about when looking for collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian provocateurs.
Clint’s appeared on this blog a handful of times (which I’m sure is a thrill), first about foreign fighters, and then more Trump-y stuff, and over at the old joint we had a neat little roundelay about drones. So when the Senate called for his expertise, I knew we were in for something good. What I didn’t expect was him to draw the parallels between Trump and Russia so clearly.
“I think this answer is very simple and is what no one is really saying in this room. The reason active measures have worked in this US election is because the commander-in-chief has used Russian active measures at times against his opponents.”
That’s the money quote right there. What we see, clearly, is that there doesn’t even need to be active collusion to say that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians in order to influence the elections. They purposely amplified Russian propaganda, giving it even greater attention, which, as he pointed out, is the whole goddamn point of propaganda.
And, furthermore, he was saying that because the Russians wanted to demonstrate that they could influence the election, because you don’t want to be subtle in doing so, the Trump amplification was, in addition to helping his horrorshow campaign, aiding and abetting Russia’s position as a power capable of doing such things.
And that’s part of Russian’s entire 21st-century purpose. They are a weakened superpower practicing asymmetrical warfare in the zone of influence. They want to intimidate and bully their Eurasian neighbors, as they jostle with China and form tenuous, loose-handshake alliances with Turkey, and Iran (and to an extent India) for continental dominance. They are playing the Eurasian game on multiple overlapping fronts, and being able to show their power is more important to them than using it, given their diminished resources.
And Trump, through his vanity and lack of self control, helped them do so.
I don’t know if any of this is actually actionable. The way I drew it here, I don’t think it is impeachable, though maybe there is an obscure law about helping Russia become more powerful.
But this is also just the beginning. That Michael Flynn is asking for immunity is…odd, since no one has accused him of any crimes (sure, the Logan Act, but I haven’t heard anyone seriously say he might be prosecuted for that). He’s either acting under a superabundance of caution or knows he’s got some problems coming his way. Either way, as soon as the investigation moved away from Nunes’s doltish coverups to an actual Senate hearing, dude got spooked. He knows it is serious now.
And that’s the point. It clearly goes much further. That literally everyone in the administration is compromised, in some form or the other, by Russia, and that they are being the opposite of forthcoming is too much smoke. As Charlie Pierce said, to assume that it stops with mere amplification is “to believe to the point of fanaticism the power of coincidence.”
If you live long enough, you see Donald Trump become President. But maybe if you live just a bit longer, you’ll see him become a disgraced ex-President.