Donald Trump wants you to know that he did it and that he can get away with it. He already told you so in the Billy Bush clip where he bragged he could grab their pussies, he could do anything. Or when he bragged that he could shoot someone and not lose voters. For Trump, it’s a drug – the ego rush – the proof of his preeminence and invulnerability. It’s the rush he gets leading chants of “lock her up” before the howling stadium mobs – look, I can do this – so crass – so great.
So it shouldn’t surprise you that Trump went for the ultimate down and dirty, conspiring with Vladimir Putin to flip the election in his favor. Well – it should surprise you – the allegation would be laughable except that we now know that, from any reasonable interpretation of available evidence, it happened. More curious, because – where is the rush if people don’t know? – Trump himself, wink, wink, wants you to know that he was in on it. So great. Except that Trump either missed the class on plausible deniability or he just doesn’t care. He’s Trump – look at me – so great.
How do we know? The evidence is in plain sight. Of course, the media yesterday and today is filled with the CIA and other intelligence agency revelations that Putin directed an effort by Russian hackers to flip the election through illegal hacking and dissemination of misinformation to discredit Hillary Clinton. The most compelling case was made by intelligence expert Malcolm Nance in a January 5 Round Table interview on WAMC, a New York public radio network. Nance also wrote on the Russian hacking during the campaign itself, in real time, releasing an expose The Plot to Hack America in October before the election. So we know the Russians did it, directly subverting the American electoral process to elect the candidate of their choice.
The second part of this equation is the long history of close ties between Trump and Putin and the Russian oligarchs. Trump’s son, Donald, Jr. has been quoted to the effect that a substantial portion of Trump’s business was entangled with Russian money. Trump’s right hand, former chief of staff, Paul Manafort, worked as a Russian agent in the Ukraine, purportedly earning millions. Putin and Trump have publicly praised each other, a public bromance in which Trump has excused Russian aggression in invading and annexing Crimea. And, of course, Trump has ostensibly refused to release his tax returns, which one could only assume would show the Russian business interests reported by his son and the extent to which Trump is compromised by those interests. So, we know that Putin and Trump are pals and that Putin used Russian assets to flip the election in his favor.
How do we know that Trump knew, that he was complicit? Well, we might not except that Donald Trump needs for us to know. Where’s the rush if we don’t know? So Trump, rather directly, told us. At a press conference on July 27, 2016 in Doral, Florida, Trump said the following of the Russians: “They probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you’d see some beauties there. So let’s see.” See NBC story. This response makes no sense unless Trump was aware of Russia’s hacking campaign at the time he made it. I remember myself being puzzled at the audacity of the statement. What was he doing asking a foreign power to release illegally obtained, hacked, emails to embarrass his opponent? Extraordinary, indeed, of itself, disloyal to the American election. But, more importantly, the statement only makes sense if Trump already knew about the Russian hacking campaign.
But then, maybe Trump was concerned that we didn’t get it. Because on New Years Eve, he let loose at Mar-a-Lago with the following on Russian hacking: “And I also know things that other people don’t know and so they cannot be sure of the situation.” Trump stated that he would release more information “on Tuesday or Wednesday”, a promise he later ignored. See The Guardian. Which is as close as you can get to saying, “I know about the Russian hacking and you don’t”. What a rush! How great!
So Putin did it, and by any rational interpretation of the evidence Trump knew. Trump conspired with Putin to flip an election to favor Russian interests, in direct contravention to American policy and national interests. Looks like Treason to me. Time to investigate and impeach.