RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Abramson writes: "In the unfolding Russia scandal enveloping the White House, we are so fascinated - and entertained - by the supporting cast that we are losing sight of the man in the starring role, Donald J Trump."

Donald Trump. (photo: Martin Schoeller/TIME)
Donald Trump. (photo: Martin Schoeller/TIME)

Donald Trump - Not His Son - Is the Real Protagonist of the Russia Drama

By Jill Abramson, Guardian UK

14 July 17

The story around Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner are titillating. But the real issue is: what did the president know and when did he know it?

n the unfolding Russia scandal enveloping the White House, we are so fascinated – and entertained – by the supporting cast that we are losing sight of the man in the starring role, Donald J Trump.

This week, thanks to great reporting by The New York Times, we’ve been captivated by some new characters: Donald Trump Jr, a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rob Goldstone, the rotund music promoter who was their go-between.

Then, there is the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who accompanied Trump Jr to the June meeting with the Russian lawyer to gather damaging goods on Hillary Clinton. Did he dime out his own brother-in-law and disclose the meeting in order to draw attention away from himself?

As the Trump campaign’s digital captain, did he have the skill to direct all the Russian bots and trolls that spread dirt on Hillary Clinton in key political precincts? (This theory of the case was put forth in a recent coop from McClatchy). Should Kushner’s security clearance be rescinded? Should he be prosecuted for leaving out information about his Russian contacts on Form 86, the required disclosure for White House officials?

Yes, this is all titillating stuff, but it diverts us from the real issue at the heart of the Russia scandal: what did the president know and when did he know it?

From the first disclosures about fired national security adviser Michael Flynn’s meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, that question keeps getting overlooked. Why would Flynn have initiated these meetings on his own? Surely, someone else must have deputized him to be the emissary between Russia and the campaign.

Similarly, it strains credulity that Kushner, a complete neophyte in foreign diplomacy, would have undertaken on his own the setting up of a secure back-channel to the Russians. Who suggested he do so? And Jr? He is nothing other than his father’s cypher and surrogate.

It’s true that Donald Trump Jr and Kushner have business ties to rich Russian oligarchs and Russian banks involved in their real estate deals. It’s possible that Kushner’s originally undisclosed meeting with banker Sergey Gorkov during the transition was about his family’s troubled investment in a Fifth Avenue office tower.

In 2008, Donald Trump Jr gushed about “all the Russian money pouring in” for New York real estate. But the timing of their meetings – right after Trump clinched the Republican nomination and right before he took office – suggests politics, not business, was the subject at hand.

Let’s remember that the Russians all had something they desperately wanted and needed out of the new Trump administration: the lifting of US sanctions against the outlaw state for its Crimean and Ukrainian land grabs. Isn’t it clear that this scandal is about a quid pro quo: Russian help to elect Donald Trump so that he could free his friends from the bonds of the sanctions.

It’s simply ridiculous that such a deeply corrupt and grand bargain, had it been made, could have been struck without the express knowledge and direction of Donald J Trump. There’s no way the father was an unwitting chump.

He says he did not know about his son’s tete a tete with the Russian lawyer, but surely he knew the Russians were lobbying to relax the sanctions, including the Magnitsky Act. His son-in-law would never have attempted his back-room pirouettes without his father-in-law’s express blessings.

Anyone who has watched the Trump family dynamics knows that the sons, son-in-law, and Ivanka are consumed by filial devotion. Their clout and success in the business and political worlds are completely dependent on Donald Trump. The senior Trump was also Michael Flynn’s ticket back to power after being fired by Obama. Not one of them would have endangered their status with Donald Trump by engaging with the Russians without his knowledge and approval.

This is particularly true of Kushner, whose more tenuous ties are through marriage rather than blood. With his Harvard background, smoother demeanor and broad White House portfolio, he does seem properly cast in the role of Machievelle.

But having visited his own father in a federal slammer, surely he knows better than the rest of the Trump clan the awful consequences of breaking the law. At 36, still a young age, could he have hatched and executed a complex plot of Russian political collusion and risked his whole future? It’s doubtful.

It’s his father-in-law who has a history of striking deals with all kinds of sketchy characters from the worlds of real estate, reality television, professional wrestling and international beauty pageants.

Certainly, Kushner’s security clearance should be immediately revoked. His high-priced defense lawyers, Jamie Gorelick and Abbe Lowell, have their work cut out for them in shielding Kushner from prosecution for lying on federal forms or violating federal campaign laws as a top member of the Trump campaign. Kushner has said he intends to cooperate with congressional investigators probing the Russia affair. We shall see.

In this scandal, there are inescapable comparisons to Watergate. That investigation ended with a lingering mystery: it remains unknown whether Richard Nixon ordered or knew beforehand about the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters, the event that shattered his presidency. Donald Trump’s direct role in polluting and subverting the 2016 election must not remain a mystery.

The relatives who fill the rooms in Donald Trump’s House of Atreus may be culpable, too, but they distract from the real person of interest, the president of the United States. your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.