Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, February 19, 2018

f, like me, you've been following every twist and turn of the Russia investigations, you've probably wrestled with the same question that has been gnawing at me for more than a year now: What if there's nothing there?

No, I'm not denying the voluminous evidence that Russia, at Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin's personal direction, sought to meddle in the 2016 election, and that Donald Trump was clearly his man. The indictment on Friday of 13 Russians -- and the incredible forensic detail in the 37-page complaint filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team -- ought to have convinced any reasonable person that the Russia investigation is definitely a somethingburger. But what kind of somethingburger is it?

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President Trump has seized on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's statement that "there is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity" to say that the special counsel has vindication his oft-repeated refrain that there was "NO COLLUSION" between Russia and the Trump campaign. This is obviously nonsense -- the key words in Rosenstein's remarks being "in the indictment," which in any case dealt only with a sliver of Russian efforts to tilt the election in Trump's favor.

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He starts this piece laying out all of the signs that suggest collusion (Trump touting Putin's strength, the whole sanctions thingy, etc).

Then he gets to this:

So what am I still skeptical about?

I keep coming back the slapdash nature of Trump's 2016 operation, and the chaos and dysfunction that everyone who covered that campaign saw play out each day. Like the Trump White House, the Trump campaign was a viper's nest of incompetence and intrigue, with aides leaking viciously against one another almost daily. So much damaging information poured out of Trump Tower that it's hard to believe a conspiracy to collude with Moscow to win the election never went public. If there was such a conspiracy, it must have been a very closely guarded secret.

Then there's the Trump factor to consider. Here's a man who seems to share every thought that enters his head, almost as soon as he enters it. He loves nothing more than to brag about himself, and he's proven remarkably indiscreet in the phone calls he makes with "friends" during his Executive Time -- friends who promptly share the contents of those conversations with D.C. reporters. If Trump had cooked up a scheme to provide some favor to Putin in exchange for his election, wouldn't he be tempted to boast about it to someone?


He then offers up some other analysis regarding those who had ties to his team who've been indicted and how none of it adds up to collusion.

He soberly finishes with this:

There is, of course, plenty of public evidence that Trump was all too happy to collude with Putin. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," springs to mind, not to mention Trump's endless invocation of WikiLeaks in the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign. What's particularly eerie, too, is how Trump's divisive racial rhetoric and claims about how the election was going to be "rigged" in favor of Hillary Clinton echoes the messages described in Mueller's latest indictment. Not to mention the voluminous fodder Trump has given Mueller for a (very) hypothetical obstruction of justice case.

Mueller's team doesn't leak, and he's repeatedly surprised us, as he did again on Friday. But I'm still waiting for a smoking gun -- and the special counsel hasn't shown us one yet, assuming he ever will.

#1 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-19 04:05 PM | Reply

I said it long ago: Trump is too stupid to have colluded.

He's so stupid, he hires guys milking Ukraine money and lying on mortgage apps.

#2 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2018-02-19 04:11 PM | Reply

Sheeple,

Trump's stupidity is one of the reasons I still think it's possible he did collude.

#3 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-19 04:15 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"He's so stupid, he hires guys milking Ukraine money and lying on mortgage apps."

I wouldn't put it past Trump to be milking Russian money and lying on mortgage apps. I wouldn't put it past Kushner to be milking Chinese money and lying on mortgage. IOW, that wouldn't have made Manafort stupid in Trump's eyes.

#4 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2018-02-19 04:22 PM | Reply

Bears repeating:

"Like the Trump White House, the Trump campaign was a viper's nest of incompetence and intrigue, with aides leaking viciously against one another almost daily. So much damaging information poured out of Trump Tower that it's hard to believe a conspiracy to collude with Moscow to win the election never went public. If there was such a conspiracy, it must have been a very closely guarded secret."

Donnie Little Hands can't keep secrets and Jr. is too stupid to be trusted with them (why else do you think he isn't in the WH) so this makes sense.

Hillary lost this election more than Trump's campaign and any lame collusion theory caused him to win it.

#5 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2018-02-19 04:23 PM | Reply

Hillary lost this election more than Trump's campaign and any lame collusion theory caused him to win it.

#5 | POSTED BY RIGHTOCENTER

Humpy Trumpy should be pissed that Russia is stealing the glory his and legitimacy of his election by interfering in our elections on his behalf in attempt to tip the scale in his favor

It is interesting that he is not even pissed at them for what the Russians have now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to have done.

#6 | Posted by donnerboy at 2018-02-19 04:33 PM | Reply

"What if there's nothing there?"

As was said in World War Z: "Oh, we're going to find something".

#7 | Posted by Zed at 2018-02-19 04:54 PM | Reply

"If there was such a conspiracy, it must have been a very closely guarded secret"

If there is a conspiracy, of course it is. It's going to be between Trump and his KGB handlers, the people with access to the photos and the bank accounts.

#8 | Posted by Zed at 2018-02-19 05:00 PM | Reply

"But what kind of somethingburger is it?"

This is the political question of this century.

Look at the arc of Trump's life, then imagine how bad it could be.

#9 | Posted by Zed at 2018-02-19 05:01 PM | Reply

These excerpts are key from a prosecutorial standpoint:

And there are aspects of the Russia scandal, too, that don't quite add up for me.

Take Flynn's plea bargain. As Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, noted after the deal became public, prosecutors usually prefer to charge participants in a conspiracy with charges related to the underlying crime. But Flynn pleaded guilty only to lying to the FBI, which Bharara surmised suggests might mean Mueller didn't have much on him.

Then there is Papadopoulos, the hapless campaign volunteer who drunkenly blabbed to the Australian ambassador to London that the Russians were sitting on loads of hacked emails. He, likewise, confessed only to lying to the FBI. Papadopoulos desperately tried to arrange meetings between Trump or top Trump officials and Russians, which apparently never happened. Papadopoulos has been cooperating with Mueller for months, but how much does he really have to offer? He seems like an attention-seeking wannabe -- the kind who puts "Model U.N. participant" on his resume.

Speaking of attention-seeking wannabes, Carter Page was another volunteer campaign adviser who was enthusiastic about collaborating with Russia. But anyone who has seen Page's TV interviews or read through his congressional testimony can tell that there's something not quite right about him. He's apparently broke, doesn't have a lawyer, and has issued lengthy, bizarre statements comparing himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. Back in 2013, when a Russian agent tried to recruit Page, he described him as too much of an "idiot" to bother with. This is the mastermind of the Russia scandal?

As for Manafort and Gates, the charges against them are serious and detailed. They stand accused of failing to register as foreign agents for their overseas work, as well as various offenses related to money laundering. But Mueller has yet to charge them with any crimes related to their work on the Trump campaign. And we can't rule out the idea that Mueller is prepared to file superseding charges against either or both of the two men. But so far, their alleged crimes seem unrelated to 2016.

With Gates copping a plea to rat out Manafort on the money laundering charges, unless there is a superseding indictment against Manafort that brings the Trump campaign into the mix, that may be a dead end on the collusion theory as well.

#10 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2018-02-19 05:12 PM | Reply

#2 #3
well, there you go, then. ;)
sol-ved.

#11 | Posted by ichiro at 2018-02-19 10:59 PM | Reply

Trump was smart enough to hide his tax returns and net worth.
Mueller did not assemble a dream team to catch Manafort, so why the effort to get him to plea deal.
Mueller needs Manafort to corroborate inadmissable evidence against big fish.

#12 | Posted by bored at 2018-02-19 11:14 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

What if there's nothing there?

Stupid question. We know there's a hell of a lot more than nothing, considering all the indictments and other evidence that has come to light.

There isn't a single right winger here who would call it "nothing" or a "hoax" if Hillary's campaign manager was indicted for all those crimes instead of Paul Manafort. And Manafort isn't the only indictment from Trump's campaign and White House.

It is a sign of transparent partisan desperation to keep using those two words.

#13 | Posted by rcade at 2018-02-20 10:25 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

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