I’ve never been convinced the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the election.
Now, don’t get mad. I’m firmly convinced that Russian agents fucked with the election by multiple means. And I’m equally convinced that they will continue fucking with our elections until someone forces them to stop. But I don’t think there was a conspiracy within the Trump campaign apparatus to do it. Maybe Russia attempted to infiltrate the campaign (see: Papadapolous, George and Trump, Donald Jr.) but it all has the chaotic feel of a Keystone Kops routine, not international intrigue.
Here’s what else else I’m firmly convinced of: Trump, his family, and most of his handpicked associates have been involved with financial crimes for decades. I think they’ve been party to international money laundering, I think they probably cut shady deals with foreign governments to develop properties, I think they have abused permitting systems and financing systems to their own benefit and I think they’re all tax cheats. I think they’re all crooked as hell.
And I think everything Trump has done, starting with refusing to release his taxes and right up to this week when he forced Andrew McCabe out of the FBI is an effort to cover up his decades of malfeasance.
Trump is obstructing justice but not because he’s committed treason; because he’s afraid of losing his money and his business.
He’s not going to lose his presidency over it because Congressional Republicans will say “Oh, well, he did all that BEFORE he was president. What can we do?”
The bigger danger is that we, as a nation, may lose a functioning federal law enforcement system and democratic process free of foreign influence.
Trump and his allies in Congress and his legions of slavering fans are more than happy to discredit the FBI’s investigation on the grounds that the Russia connection is false. And the problem is, they may well be right. There may be no actual collusion between Trump and Russia. He may be exonerated completely of that charge. He might be found to have obstructed justice but he’s already covered his ass on that by convincing people he’s just fighting back against slanderous accusations from the deep state, secret society inside the FBI. You gotta fight back when they’re coming for you, right? Right? The MAGA contingent will happily accept that reasoning, especially if it’s pair with a big, fat nothingburger on collusion.
The end result is that the FBI is crumbling from the top down and public confidence in the agency and in career government employees in general is eroding faster than I’ve ever seen.
Moreover, the narrative that everything about Russian election interference is false is holding up efforts to stop the Russians from interfering more. The CIA director said this week that Russian attempts to affect our elections have not slowed down. They’re still at it and there’s no sign that they’ll stop. If they have their way, I fear we’ll have a Kremlin approve majority in Congress within the space of one or two more elections.
And all of this is happening because a shady real estate developer doesn’t want the world to know that he’s a crook.
I don’t know what to do about any of this. This is outside of my scope of advocacy experience. I’m used to agitating to get Congress to act a certain way but Congressional leadership is so hellbent on protecting their tax-cut-signer that they won’t stop and think about what damage he’s doing.
I remind myself every day that America came back from a Civil War and we should be able to come back from this. But some days it’s hard to see how.