The Jury Talks Back

11/30/2018

There Is No Collusion! OK, Maybe a Bit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:13 am

This column by Michael Gerson, highlighted by Allahpundit on Twitter, has a nice summary of some of the latest collusion evidence:

In the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, there are at least three offenses that could lead to indictment or impeachment. There is obstruction of justice — which Trump seems to attempt persistently, publicly and shamelessly. There is possible financial corruption concerning Russia on the part of Trump and the imperial family — about which the recent plea deal with Michael Cohen hints. This is likely to be interesting reading in Mueller’s report. And there is the initial matter of collusion with a hostile foreign power to influence a presidential election. This is hardly a fanciful charge, given that Trump, while a candidate, publicly invited Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails as a way to influence a presidential election.

What else do we know related to this charge? We know that Trump adviser Roger Stone allegedly told associates he was in contact with WikiLeaks, the conduit for emails hacked by Russian intelligence. (Stone denies this.) We know that Stone contacted conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, encouraging him to gather information on hacked Clinton emails. We know that Corsi responded to Stone: “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps . . . Impact planned to be very damaging.” (The “friend” in this email — amazingly and disgustingly — appears to be the anti-American cybercriminal Julian Assange.) We know that Stone issued the tweet, “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel,” six weeks before WikiLeaks began releasing 50,000 emails that Russian agents had reportedly stolen from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. And we know, from Corsi himself, that he and Stone conspired to lie about the motivation of this tweet.

Trump is left to claim — which he has now apparently done in written testimony — that he never discussed these matters with Stone or Corsi. This would have required candidate Trump to adopt a strategy of plausible deniability — in this case, encouraging Russian hacking in public but carefully avoiding the topic in private conversations with Stone.

Gerson goes on to discuss how unlikely the prospect is that Trump avoided personal involvement in this matter, given how personally involved he was in the Stormy Daniels payoff, and given that he publicly called for Russia to “find” missing Hillary Clinton emails (I never agreed that he invited Russia to “hack” Hillary, but he did invite them to meddle in the election). Why would he stay personally removed from this nasty work, when he personally involved himself in the Stormy Daniels nasty work? Answer: he wouldn’t.

A disinterested observer, initially inclined to dismiss accusations of collusion, increasingly finds them plausible.


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