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Davidson writes: "On August 5, 2018, precisely forty-four years after the collapse of the Nixon Presidency, another President, Donald Trump, made his own public admission."

The president's Sunday-morning tweet should be seen as a turning point. (photo: Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast)
The president's Sunday-morning tweet should be seen as a turning point. (photo: Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast)


The Day Donald Trump Told Us There Was Attempted Collusion With Russia

By Adam Davidson, The New Yorker

07 August 18

 

ugust 5, 1974, was the day the Nixon Presidency ended. On that day, Nixon heeded a Supreme Court ruling and released the so-called smoking-gun tape, a recording of a meeting, held two years earlier, with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman. Many of Nixon’s most damaging statements came in the form of short, monosyllabic answers and near-grunts—“um huh,” the official transcript reads, at one point—as he responds to Haldeman’s idea of asking the C.I.A. to tell the F.B.I. to “stay the hell out of” the Watergate investigation. The coverup is clearly of Haldeman’s design. Nixon’s words are simple: “All right. Fine.” Then, “Right, fine.”

Haldeman’s idea seemed clever. He believed the F.B.I. was close to concluding that the break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate hotel was the work of a C.I.A.-led operation, which had something to do with Cuba and the Bay of Pigs. Nobody would have to actually lie, he seems to suggest—it wasn’t “unusual” for the C.I.A. to warn the F.B.I. to drop an investigation that could harm national security. “And that will fit rather well because the F.B.I. agents who are working the case, at this point, feel that’s what it is. This is C.I.A.”

Nixon’s strongest statement to Haldeman is, surprisingly, a word of caution. “Don’t lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it,” he says. “Say that we wish, for the country, don’t go any further into this case, period!” When Nixon released the tape, he acknowledged that it would lead to his impeachment. Three days later, he resigned the Presidency.

Listening to the tape today, it’s hard not to imagine an alternate strategy, one that Nixon’s aide, Roger Ailes—hired at Haldeman’s request—would surely have endorsed. Nixon could have released the tape himself and declared it as proof of his innocence, pointing out that he did, in fact, tell Haldeman not to lie. He could have argued that he didn’t mean “yes” when he said “um huh”—that the transcript should have read “unh-unh,” a clear sign that he was against the whole scheme. Instead of embracing impeachment, congressional Republicans could have supported an effort to do just what Haldeman and Nixon had attempted: end the investigation.

On August 5, 2018, precisely forty-four years after the collapse of the Nixon Presidency, another President, Donald Trump, made his own public admission. In one of a series of early-morning tweets, Trump addressed a meeting that his son Donald, Jr., held with a Russian lawyer affiliated with the Russian government. “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere,” he wrote. “I did not know about it!”

The tweet contains several crucial pieces of information. First, it is a clear admission that Donald Trump, Jr.,’s original statement about the case was inaccurate enough to be considered a lie. He had said the meeting was with an unknown person who “might have information helpful to the campaign,” and that this person “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” This false statement was, according to his legal team, dictated by the President himself. There was good reason to mislead the American people about that meeting. Based on reporting—at the time and now—of the President’s admission, it was a conscious effort by the President’s son and two of his closest advisers to work with affiliates of the Russian government to obtain information that might sway the U.S. election in Trump’s favor. In short, it was, at minimum, a case of attempted collusion. The tweet indicates that Trump’s defense will continue to be that this attempt at collusion failed—“it went nowhere”—and that, even if it had succeeded, it would have been “totally legal and done all the time.” It is unclear why, if the meeting was entirely proper, it was important for the President to declare “I did not know about it!” or to tell the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to “stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now.”

The President’s Sunday-morning tweet should be seen as a turning point. It doesn’t teach us anything new—most students of the case already understand what Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner knew about that Trump Tower meeting. But it ends any possibility of an alternative explanation. We can all move forward understanding that there is a clear fact pattern about which there is no dispute:

• The President’s son and top advisers knowingly met with individuals connected to the Russian government, hoping to obtain dirt on their political opponent.

• Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and members of the Clinton campaign were later used in an overt effort to sway the election.

• When the Trump Tower meeting was uncovered, the President instructed his son and staff to lie about the meeting, and told them precisely which lies to use.

• The President is attempting to end the investigation into this meeting and other instances of attempted collusion between his campaign staff and representatives of the Russian government.

It was possible, just days ago, to believe—with an abundance of generosity toward the President and his team—that the meeting was about adoption, went nowhere, and was overblown by the Administration’s enemies. No longer. The open questions are now far more narrow: Was this a case of successful or only attempted collusion? Is attempted collusion a crime? What legal and moral responsibilities did the President and his team have when they realized that the proposed collusion was under way when the D.N.C. e-mails were leaked and published? And, crucially, what did the President know before the election, after it, and when he instructed his son to lie?

Earlier on Sunday, Trump wrote another tweet, one that repeated a common refrain: journalists are the enemy of the people. “I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People,” it read. In a way, he did provide a great service. He allowed us to move away from a no-longer-relevant debate about whether or not he and his campaign had done anything wrong. Our nation can now focus on another question: What do we do when a President has openly admitted to attempted collusion, lying, and a coverup?


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Comments   

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-28 # Anne Frank 2018-08-07 14:20
"The President’s son and top advisers knowingly met with individuals connected to the Russian government, hoping to obtain dirt on their political opponent." Can Davidson cite to us a section of the U.S. Code that makes such a meeting illegal, or is he merely spouting deep state hate propaganda?
 
 
-12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-07 20:36
"with individuals connected to the Russian government"


This too is false. The real connections in that meeting were to MI6, CIA, and Fusion GPS -- oh, and the Clinton campaign. The attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, met with Glen Simpson, founder of Fusion on the day before the meeting. Two days later, Simpson met with John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chair.

It is OK to circulate this Fake News in the media like the New Yorker because such media has no fact checkers and no standards for evidence. Writers can say whatever they like or whatever their bosses want them to say. But none of this will go to court where there are rules for evidence and cross-examinati on is the best fact checker.

The meme of this week is --- again -- the Trump Jr meeting. It should last one more day then we will be on to something else. That's how propaganda work -- keep hitting people with the serial of memes until they go stark raving mad and submit. In the end, they will all love Big Brother.
 
 
+7 # RaW 2018-08-08 08:07
A question for all those who have downvoted: Can you address Anne Frank's point? Can you cite U.S. Code?
I know you don't like her post. You feel, as I do, that Trump is unbecoming and dangerous as president, and that you want him gone.
But aren't we supposed to be the side that cares about facts? I spent the last hour looking for evidence that Anne Frank was wrong, and didn't find any.
If you do find any such proof, please post it. And if you downvote this post, you've reduced my faith in my community as the ones with truth on our side and the ability to suss it out.
 
 
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-08 10:59
Raw -- thanks for your post. I think this is the code often alluded to but clearly the meeting did not violate this code. The meeting was offered by Rob Goldstone, someone with connections to Haklyut Corporate Intelligence and Richard Dearlove of MI6. Goldstone flew over to NYC for the meeting.

Nothing was transferred. Talk is free. The question now is whether Hillary or her senior campaign officials met with Christopher Steele to make the deal for the dossier. That would violate this statute.


§ 110.20 Prohibition on contributions, donations, expenditures, independent expenditures, and disbursements by foreign nationals ( 52 U.S.C. 30121, 36 U.S.C. 510).

(a)Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

(1)Disbursement has the same meaning as in 11 CFR 300.2(d).

(2)Donation has the same meaning as in 11 CFR 300.2(e).

(3)Foreign national means -

(i) A foreign principal, as defined in 22 U.S.C. 611(b); or

(ii) An individual who is not a citizen of the United States and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined in 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(20); however,

(iii)Foreign national shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States, or who is a national of the United States as defined in 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(22).

the rest of the statute is here

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/11/110.20
 
 
-27 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-08-07 15:10
"President has openly admitted to attempted collusion, lying, and a coverup?" But, the meeting is not a crime. Nixon was covering up a crime. BIG difference.
And, when have Presidents not lied (Jimmy carter and who else?)
 
 
+40 # grandlakeguy 2018-08-07 15:20
JAIL TO THE CHIEF!!!!!!!
 
 
-15 # lnason@umassd.edu 2018-08-07 17:34
At worst, the meeting at Trump Tower was an attempt at collusion. What about the Clinton campaign and DNC commissioning and paying money for "dirt" on Trump supplied by Steele's Russian contacts? Doesn't that qualify not only as a willingness to collude but also ACTUAL collusion?

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-07 20:38
Lee -- how dare you point out the obvious. All the smart people at the New Yorker have never noticed this.

RDOH -- Russian Dirt On Hillary -- none ever existed

RDOT -- Russian Dirt On Trump -- literally megatons do exist and are published every day.
 
 
+1 # MidwestDick 2018-08-07 20:49
The Russian government broke into the offices of the DNC, stole their correspondence and upon request from the Candidate, now President, released them to the public. That was the conspiracy and the crime.
 
 
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-08 11:02
MD -- this is the allegation. It has not been proved and there's powerful testimony against it.

Please write "Allegedly the Russian government . . ."
 
 
0 # MidwestDick 2018-08-12 19:08
Proven, though not yet beyond a reasonable doubt. But that's coming, sure as sunrise.
 
 
+5 # ericlipps 2018-08-07 19:28
There's something else to consider: the Russians had apparently taken to using the term "adoption" as a euphemism in discussing the lifting of sanctions against Moscow.

Under that interpretation, the meeting might really have been about cutting a deal: dirt on Clinton to help the Rump get elected, in return for the lifting of sanctions once he had been.

It hardly matters whether any actual intelligence was turned over. What matters is that the offer was made, and was accepted.

Oh, and as for such a meeting being entirely legal: I can't help wondering whether you'd be saying that if it had been Clinton seeking dirt on Trump rather than the other way around.
 
 
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-08 20:48
eric -- "What matters is that the offer was made"


The offer was made by Rob Goldstone, a person with NO connections to the Russian government and no authority from the Russian government to make any such offers. He was connected to Hakluyt Intelligence and Richard Dearlove (former head of MI6).

Doesn't that throw a monkey wrench in your theory?


Clinton did seek, pay for, and receive Russian Dirt on Trump. But no one is worrying about that. In fact, the FBI and DOJ jumped in and also paid Christopher Steele for more dirt. The last 3 sections of the Dossier were written after the Nov. election when the DOJ was paying Steele and not the Clinton campaign.

What makes something legal -- apparently -- is when the FBI is in there with you doing it.
 
 
+5 # jazzman633 2018-08-07 19:30
A fair question: Has America not been hacking and spying on the Russians 24/7 for decades to find out what they're planning and to influence their politics? I believe it was called the "Cold War."

It's nauseating to watch American politicians play the guiltless good guys. Why, we would NEVER spy on ANYONE!
 
 
+1 # heraldmage 2018-08-08 00:47
It is not illegal to meet with people from Russia. Not all people from Russia are part of the government. Just like in the US many Attorneys start their careers in government and then move into private practice, which is exactly what the attorney who met with Trump Jr. did.
It is not illegal to try to dig up dirt on your political opponent or produce fake political adverts against them ( i.e. GW Bush Swift Boat ads).
Unless Trump Jr. lied under oath or to the FBI it is not illegal to make misleading or inaccurate statements. The government has been doing it for decades.
In interviews, the Russian lawyer confirmed that she had previously worked as a government Prosecutor, however at the time she met with Trump Jr she was in private practice. She also confirmed that their discussion was about resuming adoption of Russia orphans to the USA.
Paragraphs 6-8 are pure speculation. As is the supposition that the Trump campaign or the for that matter the Russia, had anything to do with the DNC hack or the release of Clinton e-mails.
 
 
+2 # MD426 2018-08-08 07:07
lock him up! lock him up!
 
 
+3 # bird 2018-08-09 10:34
It is interesting and infuriating to read comments to any article and keep seeing the same people arguing here, in a comments column.
I hope you Rodion, are keeping an archive of your posts and opinions, and that one day, we'll be treated to your book. note: this is not a compliment. Same to you other, regulars, who respond and discuss? (ha) goes on and on. It really sounds like whining after a while, splitting hairs about whether the "Law" (Mom?) meant no TV until the spinach was eaten, or just went away. After all she just said "clean plate".

This has not been a nation of laws since at least the Contra/Iran scandal. (if ever)

I blame the cynical Reagan, (and Bush sr.) mostly, though perhaps, Ford holds most of the responsibility for pardoning Nixon. Yes, and don't forget Dulles and Iran, and the Shah, and Afghanistan,oh jeez.

It just goes back and back and back.

You guys keep chatting. I'll checkin someday to see if you are all still here
 

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