No there there

The mighty Mueller and his gunsels have rooted and dug and investigated and produced indictments: for doubtful business dealings predating Manafort’s involvement with the Trump campaign.

The dummy brigade is going nuts with our own Warren “Lying Jackal” Kinsella announcing, “And there can be no doubt, now, that Trump’s campaign was effectively run out of the Kremlin.”

As there is nothing at all in the indictment of Manafort and Gates which relates to the Trump campaign Warren and his ilk are forced to rely on the boiler plate “Conspiracy Against the United States of America”. As it is this “United States of America” which is proffering the charges and this same entity in its guise of the Department of Justice and Department of the Treasury whom Manafort is alleged to have defrauded, it is difficult to imagine how else Mueller would have framed the charges.

But, dummy chorus aside, is there anything in the indictment which puts the finger on Trump? On a quick reading I would say there isn’t. It may not have been the smartest thing in the world to hire a guy with Manafort’s connections to doubtful dictators and assorted oligarchs; but against that is balanced the fact that as Trump became aware of those links he first demoted and then fired Manafort.

Maybe these charges are part of a clever leverage scheme to get Manafort, facing an eternity in Federal Prison and the forfeiture of any assets the Feds can trace, to sing. Right out of G-man 101. That is, at best, a maybe. The fact the charges were brought at all suggests that whatever Manafort knew was not enough to avoid liability for his alleged sins. He has, after all, been interviewed by the Special Prosecutors’ office on several occasions and that would have been the time to cut a deal. That these charges have been proffered suggests no deal was done. Now there is, of course, still time for “all of this to go away” if Manafort has something interesting on Trump. But why would he have held it back? I doubt he thought Mueller was just joking around in those earlier meetings.

All of which leads me to suspect that Manafort does not, in fact, have “it” where “it” is the smoking gun of Trump/Russia collusion. And I also suspect that Manafort has a pretty good defence worked out. (And he may be backstopped by the promise of a pardon but I would doubt it; no reason for Trump to pardon a guy on stuff he did a decade ago unless that guy had the real, live, smoking gun.)

Trump, correctly in my view, is taking the position that nothing in the Manafort/Gates indictment has anything to do with Trump or his campaign.Which leaves the partisan ankle biters at CNN with nothing much more than the guilty plea of a campaign volunteer named Papadopoulos. What was he guilty of? Lying to the FBI regarding dates upon which he, apparently on his own initiative,  had conversations with various Russians. Not a great moment for the Trump world but also a very long way from proving collusion. And, with the guilty plea in place, assuming that Papadopoulos had anything to tell, chances are pretty good he’s told it.

Mueller has been on the job for months. He has a team of prosecutors and agents who have looked at every element of the Trump campaign. They have come up with some pretty routine alleged tax evasion and a guy lying to the FBI about the dates of meetings and conversations with Russians. Is Mueller saving “the good stuff” for Christmas? Is he hoping that Trump will suddenly begin to conspire to “cover up” and render himself vunerable? Hard to say but, at a guess, this wimpy set of charges about business activities predating Manafort’s involvement with the Trump campaign are pretty much the best Mueller has. That could change, but he will have to do much better than this to provide impeachment ammunition. Much better.

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6 thoughts on “No there there

  1. Terry Rudden says:

    Gosh, who’d have thunk that almost a year into his Presidency, the good news for Trump loyalists is that a special investigation hadn’t quite found the smoking gun to impeach, and had to limit themselves to charges against Trump’s campaign manager and advisors. You’re right, Jay – AWESOME presidency.

    • Fred from BC says:

      Wow, Terry. That was one of the lamest attempts at trolling I’ve ever seen…and I read Kinsella’s drivel regularly, so I know what actual Trump Derangement Syndrome looks like. When the facts don’t bend your way, deflect deflect deflect, right? Don’t quit your day job…

      • Terry Rudden says:

        I retired from day job two months ago, Fred, after twenty five years. I can now devote myself full time to monitoring Jay’s blog and providing insight to you and the rest of his readership. I know, I know…you’re asking yourself how you could be so blessed. Just accept it a a gift from a benevolent deity who loves you and wants you wise.

        As for “trolling” – no, this is actually part of an amiable, slower motion, longer-term exchange between Jay and I.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Seems like the news is that there is really no news on the Russian front. Except for Hillary, of course. That should come to the forefront eventually. Or, as has been said before “How does the media in DC cover a story about Democrats? With a pillow, until it stops breathing.”

  3. derek says:

    This had nothing to do with Trump, but everything to do with changing the subject. Mueller himself was being implicated in the Clinton Russia scandal, and that can’t be left unchallenged.

  4. Fred from BC says:

    Great analysis, Jay.

    Kinsella, for some reason, is not only claiming (falsely) that this guilty plea proves That Donald Trump is a criminal and traitor. He also insists that people “Google Papadopolous” before commenting” when they post their doubts about this being the end of President Donald Trump. I did…and found the exact same thing you did: absolutely nothing implicating Trump or the Russians. The funniest part is, even if Papadopolous *had* managed to make contact with the Russian agents and *had* obtained some kind of dirt on Hillary Clinton and *had* turned it over to the Trump campaign, there would have been NO CRIME COMMITTED anyway!

    He would have walked away from this unscathed had he not chosen to lie about the dates of his contact with the Russians (not about the contact itself, or even the reasons for it…just the actual dates). If I were Mueller I would have been too embarrassed to actually charge the man with anything.

    As for Manafort , he serves as a great distraction from the fact that, once again, they’ve got nothing linking Donald Trump to the Russians or any sort of collusion or conspiracy regarding the election.

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