There was a time when the White House often described defense of the collusion with Russia as largely defensive. Over time, however, its main purpose has changed. Today denials serve to distract from the ever clearer picture of a president surrounded by crooks and liars.
"Consistently, we said there were no collusion," Ivanka Trump told NBC News on Monday. "There were no collusion, and we believe that Mueller will do his job and come to the same conclusion." This reflects her father and a statement from the White House on 16 February, after Special Adviser Robert Mueller accused a group of Russians, to have interfered in the election. "President Donald J. Trump … is glad to see that the Special Counsel's investigations continue to show that there was NO connection between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or influenced," he wrote press secretary.
A collusion with Russia may or may not be a real scandal depending on what Mueller finds, but it is not the single scandal. (In fact, the question of whether a crime was committed remains open, but the contacts with Russia that are already known, from George Papadopoulos to the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, make this denial sound empty.) The extent of dishonesty and Crime Now it is obvious that this is a huge scandal.
On Friday Rick Gates pleaded guilty to the conspiracy against the United States and made false statements. He faced a much longer list of charges, but agreed to work with Mueller. Gates' problems with the truth were so severe that he got involved in the absurd lie when he was negotiating with him at a meeting for a pretext. (It did not work, and ended up producing one of the accusations he pleaded guilty to.) Gates came to the Trump track through his mentor and business partner Paul Manafort, who served for a time as Trump's campaign chairman, but that should he did not have extensive involvement in the world of Trump: he was vice chairman of the campaign and remained after Manafort was overthrown in August 2016; he was vice chairman of the Trump Founding Committee; and he helped found America First Policies, an outside support group that stayed there until it was cleared away.
Then there's Manafort, whom Trump put on his campaign in the spring of 2016 and who led him the crucial time of the Republican National Convention. Manafort relentlessly denies any wrongdoing, but a couple of Müller's papers released last week reveal a brutal series of documents against him, including technological issues in making a manipulated profit and loss statement and a note to his son. In-laws who instruct him to mislead a bank appraiser.
The White House has distanced itself from Manafort and Gates by pointing out that the crimes they are accused of took place outside the auspices of the campaign. That could be convincing if Mueller's indictment only outlines tax fraud – a not-so-very-unlikely private crime. But Mueller claims that fraud is a core instrument of Davis Manafort, the men's society. In a new indictment released Friday, Mueller claims that Manafort has been working to create a ring of European leaders that would strengthen Ukraine's reputation around the world and ensure its compensation is invisible.
What was Trump looking for when he recorded Manafort? Presumably, he sought the skills that had perfected Manafort and Gates to work for leaders in places like Ukraine – the business that focused on fraud. (It should be mentioned again the bizarre reality that Manafort offered to work for Trump for free.) And even after he pushed Manafort out, partly because of re-examining his previous work, Trump kept Gates in his immediate circle. 19659009] The Schandmalerrolle does not end there. Manafort and Gates seem to have been at least some effective lobbyists, whether they are registered or not. Michael Flynn was not that successful. Flynn, who allegedly did not disclose foreign travel when extending his security clearance in 2016, entered into a lobbying program on behalf of Turkey, although he filed no documents until 2017. In the course of this work, Flynn suddenly took sides. Former CIA director and Trump adviser James Woolsey discussed a plan to kidnap Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen from exile in the US and to bring him to Turkey he is accused of a coup in the country Year 2016 triggered.
Flynn seems to have continued this work by the time he was appointed the new National Security Advisor in November 2016. He did not announce the work, although as the President of the Presidency in matters of security and defense, he had worked closely with Turkey. Flynn was also involved in a bizarre civilian nuclear reactor system in the Middle East and is said to have continued to drive the system, even after becoming a National Security Advisor.
Somehow none of this – nor does Barack Obama specifically warn Trump of Flynn – it was enough of a red flag to prevent Flynn's attitude. He did not last long. Flynn was evicted on February 13, 2017, after The Washington Post revealed that he had lied to Vice President Pence over talks with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn has now admitted in a guilty plea that he has also lied to FBI agents about these talks. He is now working with Müller.
These top positions join other lower officials who are also in legal difficulties. George Papadopoulos has also admitted that he has lied to the FBI about talks with Russians and is working with Mueller. Although a former Trump consultant rejected Papadopoulos as a "coffee boy," Trump praised him by name, and photos show the two in a meeting. Carter Page, a volunteer foreign policy advisor, offered confusing and contradictory information as a witness to the congress, and a memo from the House Intelligence Committee Democrats released on Saturday claimed that the information gathered by the Department of Justice also contradicted Page's statement.
Out of Scope From the investigation in Russia itself, the Democratic Memorandum once again shows the danger that close confidant Devin Nunes, chairman of the House's intelligence committee, believes. Nunes, who has been repeatedly involved in misleading statements, and the Democratic Memorandum refute the most controversial claims made in a Republican memorandum in the committee released in early February.
Elsewhere in the Trump orbit, last month has revealed the weaknesses of other members of the administration. Rob Porter, a former personnel secretary, was released from public charges following allegations of ill treatment by his two former wives. Porter initially tried to escape the charges by telling a group of powerful Washington reporters during a meeting that had not taken place that one of the women had been injured in an accident.
In an attempt to downplay the story, Chief of Staff John Kelly offered a story that other West Wing aides believed was so wrong that they were concerned about reporters. Given his stellar military career, Kelly was granted a presumption of innocence when joining the White House. That is no longer justifiable. In October he told a derogatory story about the representative Frederica Wilson, which turned out to be incorrect; However, as video evidence contradicted Kelly, he and the White House refused to refute this point. Then Kelly told Porter that he had acted as soon as he learned of the allegations against him, a statement refuted by FBI director Christopher Wray during the testimony.
The White House spokesman also made conflicting statements about Porter, though it's hard to say if that's simply because other West Wing officials misled her. However, the communications team barely distinguished itself from the first days of the presidency when it went to war with a false statement about the masses of initiation and then introduced "alternative facts" into the dictionary.
Why do so many white housekeepers lie? It could come from her boss. As Brian Stelter noted, the president shamelessly changed the meaning of a comment he had heard on television about the memo from the House Intelligence Committee, and turned it into a cudgel against Democrat Adam Schiff:
Holy Moly. The @FoxNews anchor said, "Congressman Schiff, he ARGENS the REPUBLICAN memo omitted and distorts key facts." Trump has just deleted 5 words from the quote to claim the opposite meaning. https://t.co/UlSQUcc0bD
– Brian Stelter February 25, 2018
Washington is also staffed with Trump appointees who face charges of being unqualified for their jobs, unethical as they used them, or both at once. Axios reveals that Trump is considering appointing his personal pilot, John Dunkin, to head the Federal Aviation Administration. The nugget of news produced an immediate hoax, as another case of Trump trying to pick someone near him without obviously qualifying for an important job. The immediate reaction may be unfair to Dunkin, who is little known and might be well suited to the job.
However, it is not unfair to Trump. One of his senior advisers is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who, despite his experience in government, has been given a comprehensive portfolio of complex tasks; he works without a permanent security check and is not supposed to receive any until Mueller's investigation into unknown issues investigated by the Special Adviser is completed. Another senior adviser is Kushner's wife and Trump's daughter Ivanka, who enjoys White House work, but said on Monday it was inappropriate to ask her about the many allegations of sexual misconduct against the president.
At the head of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Trump chose Ben Carson, who had supported Trump for the president after he had ended his own campaign, but had publicly stated that he was not qualified for the performance. To lead the HUD's largest regional office, Trump appointed Lynne Patton, who had no experience in the housing industry but worked for the Trump family for years and spoke at the Republican National Convention.
Candidates with obvious qualifications turn out to be faulty ways in others. Trump chose as Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross, who retained investments in companies with links to the Kremlin, until they were unveiled in the document dump known as the Paradise Papers. He appointed another Wall Street billionaire, Carl Icahn, to Senior Advisor on Regulatory Issues until Icahn abruptly resigned on questions from The New Yorker about whether he used the job to further his own interests ,
The Secretary for Health and Human Services stepped down when he spent more than $ 1 million on private and military jets. A government report said veteran affairs secretary David Shulkin had made "serious failures" in spending on a European trip. The EPA administration Scott Pruitt is also under attack for travel expenses; The EPO initially said that Pruitt had received a "lump-sum exemption" to travel in first class for security reasons, just to change his story, when he pointed out rules that explicitly forbid such blanket policy.
Interim boss Mick Mulvaney dropped an investigation against a payday lender who had contributed to his campaign. Mulvaney's spokesman initially said that the staff in the careers group recommended dropping the probe and then admitted that Mulvaney was involved in the decision when he was pushed by NPR.
That's just a sample. No further evidence of Trump's campaign commitments to Russia is needed to capture the scope of the scandal. Any administration will eventually produce examples of corruption and lies, but most presidents will take years and often more than one term to create a general ledger that is half the size of what Trump managed in just one year. It is an old trope to imagine how lonely the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who was known to be walking around with a lamp in search of an honest man, would visit the American capital. In Trump's Washington even the hardened cynic could despair.