Patterico's Pontifications


Report: Trump Jr. Was Told That the Russian Government Was the Source for the Hoped-for Dirt on Hillary/DNC

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 pm

At The Jury Talks Back, commenter “Appalled” asks:

So how do we get to state of mind and level of knowledge of the Trump people? Where do the r[e]porters need to dig next?

One way would be to see if anyone will go on record or produce documents to support this:

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Trump Jr.’s lawyer is acknowledging Trump Jr.’s receipt of an email from Goldstone. His statement does not appear to specifically dispute or acknowledge the allegations that the email said the source of the information was the Russian government:

“In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he told The Times in an email on Monday. “Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”

The information passed along by Goldstone appears to have been second- or third-hand (or fourth- or fifth-hand). Goldstone said in an interview that he had no idea the information came from the Russian government. After three anonymous sources described the email to the New York Times, “efforts to reach him for further comment were unsuccessful.” (It’s a trick that Big Media uses to give someone very little time to respond, to make targets sound unresponsive. We’ll see if Goldstone re-emerges in the next 24 hours.)

Your periodic warning: reports based on anonymous sources might be interesting, but only a fool assumes them to be true until there is corroboration. That said, people are going to be asked to go on record to respond to this, and their responses will be interesting. So it’s worth knowing what the allegations are.

Ben Shapiro’s question remains relevant to me: why did such high-level people meet with a “random human”?

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back, the only place I will (likely) comment on this post.]

High School Reporter’s Unexpected Interview With Secretary Of Defense James Mattis

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:19 pm

[guest post by Dana]

No matter how one feels about Donald Trump being elected president, I think it’s safe to say that most Americans are pleased with his selection of James Mattis for Secretary of Defense.

With that, back in May when the Washington Post published a photo with James Mattis’s phone number on it, a motivated reporter called the number, and then texted Mattis to request an interview. To the young high school reporter’s surprise, Mattis said yes. Teddy Fisher is a reporter for the Mercer Island High School Islander newspaper. The interview took place on Memorial Day, but did not appear in the school paper until late June. Here are a few excerpts from the excellent, content-rich and informative interview. Subjects covered, and providing much to chew over, include foreign policy, national policy, political ideologies, the Middle East, Iran, and advice for high schoolers. But if you think the interview is geared for high schoolers, think again: “I speak the same to high schoolers, college grads, or congressmen,” [Mattis] said. “I’ve found high schoolers to be plenty bright.”


TEDDY: You said as a nominee for secretary of defense that the military had to be more lethal, but how does diplomacy play a role in your position when dealing with foreign powers?

The reason I say that is, as much as I’d like to live in a world where people who are out to do others harm would be willing to listen to rational thought, not everyone is.
MATTIS: The way that you get your diplomats listened to in an imperfect world is you make certain you back them up with hard power. The reason I say that is, as much as I’d like to live in a world where people who are out to do others harm would be willing to listen to rational thought, not everyone is.

So what you have to do is make certain that your foreign policy is led by the diplomats, not by the military. I meet for breakfast once a week with Secretary of State Tillerson and I’ll advise him on the military factors for his foreign policy, but I do not believe that military issues should lead in foreign policy. I think that’s where diplomats lead and the military then reinforces the diplomats.


TEDDY: How will the U.S. help rebuild Arab countries after ISIS is inevitably defeated? How can the U.S. avoid creating power vacuums?

The point I would make there is that, you don’t have to have the Americans do it all.
MATTIS: Well the first thing, I think is your thesis Teddy. Secretary Tillerson ran a conference here about seven weeks ago on Washington D.C. and it was the Defeat ISIS Coalition, so of course I spoke at it because I coordinate the military aspects. It was 65 countries, it was Interpol, the international police organization that tracks the foreign fighters for all the world’s police departments. It was the European Union, the Arab league, and also now NATO as of last week, has joined the Defeat ISIS Coalition. The point I would make there is that, you don’t have to have the Americans do it all. There are many nations that said, if you will lead, we will contribute. For example, we had contributions, donations, committed to heavily by the Sunni Arab nations to the tune of several billion dollars.

I think what you want to do is, the Americans can lead it in terms of organization because many nations don’t trust each other as much as they trust America, no matter what you read in the newspapers right now. We spent 85 percent of the Defeat ISIS meeting not talking about the military aspects, but talking about what you’re asking about, which is how do we stop this from just sprouting a new group. And that’s going to be an international effort and we likened it, if you’ve read about the Marshall plan after World War II when the Americans, three years after we defeated the fascists in Germany, the Nazis in Germany the fascists in Japan, we turn around three years later, 36 months later, and offered to help them rebuild.

And look at us today, where Germany and Japan are two of our strongest allies in the United Nations, in NATO, in the Pacific. I think what you want to do is look at the Marshall Plan, but instead of the American’s carrying the full burden or even the heaviest burden, look at all the nations in the world since many nations have become wealthy since World War II, and see it as being an international effort.


TEDDY: Is Iran the most dangerous country in the Middle East?

Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East.
MATTIS: It’s certainly the country that is the only reason Assad has been able to stay in power. For example, for so long when Russia vetoed the United Nations so they couldn’t do anything about it, the only reason that Assad is still in power and has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and allowed the terrorists a place to set up camp and millions, literally millions of people, forced out of their homes with nothing but what they could cram into a car or put on their back, it’s all because of Iran.

Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East and when I would travel to Cairo or Tel Aviv or Riyadh and from Arabs from Jews, all the people in the region, that is their view of Iran. It certainly was my biggest problem when I was the commander of U.S. Central Command. But again, it’s not Iran, it’s the Iranian regime. Most of the Iranian people, I’ve known enough Iranian people or talked to Americans who grew up in Iran and it’s not them, it’s the regime.

(Q: Did any “professional” journalists think to contact Mattis directly and request an interview?)

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Let’s Go on Record

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:48 am

Here’s where the Russia story seems to be right now.

Paul Manafort, Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner meet with a lawyer who was connected to the Kremlin. The lawyer is pushing a key Kremlin priority: repeal of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which targets human rights abusers. (The Kremlin usually phrases its opposition to the act in terms of adoption, because Putin responded to passage of the act by putting a stop to adoptions of Russian children by Americans.)

Trump Jr. tells the New York Times over the weekend that he and the others were meeting with the lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. This contradicts several previous statements he has made.

Trump Jr. says he didn’t know with whom he was meeting. Do three people this important meet with a “random human”? Ben Shapiro asks.

It’s a good question. Paul Manafort is well connected in Russia. He has lobbied for Viktor Yanukovych, then a pro-Russian Ukranian president. Does Manafort know who’s who in Moscow? You betcha!

This is context we should not pretend into nonexistence.

There’s plenty we don’t know. What I’m interested in now is the beginning of the meme among Trump supporters that collusion with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton would have been A-OK. So far, the line has been: “There’s no evidence of collusion!” and to be sure, no collusion seems to have been proved. But now that we’re getting, if not proof of collusion, at least direct contact between a Kremlin-connected lawyer by Trump campaign officials regarding dirt on Hillary, I’d like to talk about what folks here would find acceptable if collusion were proved.

I’m not saying this has been proved. I’m asking hypothetically.

Is it your view that if Donald Trump or his campaign directly colluded with agents of Vladimir Putin to obtain information on Hillary Clinton, that would be OK? Is there anything Trump could have done with Putin that you would consider over the line?

I keep reading that “collusion” is not illegal, and frankly I don’t know and have not looked into it. I’ll assume until proven otherwise that it’s legal. I’m not sure whether the American people would cotton to direct collusion with Putin to defeat Hillary, but I’m not so sure about the American people any more.

My son turned completely on Hillary when he found out how she cheated by getting debate questions in advance. It’s not illegal. But it really bothered him because it seemed to him to be wrong. (And it was!)

I wonder if people feel the same about collusion with the Russian government.

So let’s go on record. What would you tolerate, if it were proven true?

P.S. Don’t be very surprised if I don’t respond to your comment. Comments these days strike me as a poor use of my time. If it’s important, you can email me. If I find your comment very significant, I may use it in a future post.

To save myself some grief, I am going to restate in bold: I am not saying or suggesting that any collusion has been proven. Why am I saying that twice and putting it in bold? Because lately, I am used to having my posts misrepresented in the comments. If you claim in comments that I am saying collusion has been proven, you are a liar. You can go perform sexual acts on yourself with various sharp and rusty metal objects.

I am not going to come into the comments to repeat what I just said in bold. Repeatedly typing: “That’s not what I said” is a giant waste of my time. I am just going to take note of who misrepresents my posts — and they might suddenly disappear from the comments, much the way Latin American dictators used to disappear people back in what dictator-lover Donald Trump considers the good old days. Only this disappearance would just be from the comment section.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back — where I might appear in comments.]

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