For once, maybe the Right has got it right when they compare the Mar-a-Lago raid to the Russia investigation. After all, the Trump campaign was working with Russia in the 2016 election, which by their logic suggests that the Trump raid is equally valid.
Of course, we already know it’s valid because we have known for a while that Trump illegally took boxes of classified information when he left the White House. The burning question is what did he do that was so bad it compelled a federal judge to issue a search warrant? The DOJ and the FBI would have needed strong, irrefutable evidence to justify a search of a former president’s home (this is not as it should be, but as it is).
The Right wing world is in complete meltdown mode screaming that the FBI’s lawful search of Mar-a-Lago is just like Hitler and a witch hunt “just like Russia.”* Yesterday, we learned that Trump admired Hitler so much he wanted his generals to act like Hitler’s generals and a key Trump campaign official admitted to passing sensitive polling data to a Russian spy. That is to say, RussiaGate was the opposite of a hoax and Trump is the one who is apparently more like Hitler by his own admission.
Earlier Monday, before we learned from Donald Trump (not a media outlet, but Donald Trump) that his home had been “raided” by the FBI, we got the story about his admiration for Hitler from the New Yorker.
Trump: “You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?”
Kelly: “Which generals?”
Trump: “The German generals in World War II.”
Kelly: “You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?”
No, Trump didn’t know that. All he knew was he wanted his generals to be like Hitler’s generals during WWII. No one can confuse that meaning.
We also learned Monday via an interview with Business Insider that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort made his first public admission that he shared polling data from the Trump campaign with a longtime business associate with suspected ties to Russia who then passed the data on to Russia spies, according to the Treasury Department.
Both of these things happened Monday, before the raid, which Right wing outlets are now comparing to Hitler and claiming is just like the “Russia hoax.” So they are trying to use the raid to launder the search engines – to haystack, basically, attempts to search for Trump Russia and Trump Hitler.
The Russia connection has been whitewashed by media for reasons I suspect are related to the threat to our international standing and trust in our democracy and elections, but the result is people do not realize the Russians also interfered in the 2020 election, and Treasury took action against them for this. “… took sweeping action against 16 entities and 16 individuals who attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government…. highlight how multiple Russian officials, proxies, and intelligence agencies coordinated to interfere with recent U.S. elections.”
But back to the Manafort situation, Manafort passed the sensitive campaign data to Konstantin Kilimnik, who is a known Russian Intelligence Services agent, working on what Treasury calls “influence operations on their behalf.” Treasury says during the 2016 election, Kilimnik “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy.”
Remember when Republicans were pushing that Ukraine interfered in the election, not Russia? That was also Kilimnik’s work. These false claims are the actual Russia hoax.
The Russians are still sowing discord in the United States and elsewhere, including paying conspiracy theorists to plant seeds of doubt about Covid and more, because a democracy in chaos with mistrust of its government is a weakened democracy. Ripe for destruction and takeover.
The Russian interference in our elections was never a hoax. It happened, and indictments resulted. The Mueller report itself found that the Trump campaign took help from the Russians, they just weren’t comfortable prosecuting because they couldn’t prove the Trump campaign knew it was illegal. Trump was NOT cleared of conspiring with Russia, that is yet another falsehood planted in the media by then AG Bill Barr’s summation of the Mueller report, that was so misleading he later claimed it wasn’t meant as a summation.
A Republican-Senate investigation even confirmed these findings in the Mueller report, after spending three years investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election . They found extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Kremlin officials, a Russian spy, and other Russians.
Even after Trump was president, he was making his campaign’s Russian collusion a known thing.
Mueller seems not to have known that Trump told Russian officials he was unconcerned by Moscow’s 2016 election interference.
— Lawfare (@lawfareblog) September 28, 2019
Trump had an Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak the day after he fired Comey, and he said, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The translator’s notes were destroyed. In fact, Trump spent his presidency violating the Presidential Records Act, destroying notes and records. White House staffers routinely put records and notes into “burn bags” and sent them to the Pentagon to be destroyed.
Trump went to “extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.”
Another thing we learned yesterday was that Trump flushed his ripped up notes.
That’s a whole lot of paranoia and law-breaking for someone with nothing to hide.
Republicans have long clung to the partly discredited Steele report (I’m happy to remind readers that I never covered the “pee tape” drama as anything remotely real or even the point) as their proof that the Russia investigation was based on false information. But the DOJ cleared that up with a timeline that predated the Steele report (as reported in a redacted Office of the Inspector General report) in which they stated the investigation began with Wikileaks disclosures, before the Steele Dossier was released.
It was so much worse than just Russia. I wrote during the Trump presidency about Trump giving corrupt foreign donor who gives to Republicans, Brazilian meat company brothers, tens of millions of dollars earmarked for U.S. farmers.
“The plain truth of the matter is the Trump presidency was the biggest counterintelligence disaster in the nation’s history. It began during the campaign and didn’t end when he left office.
“It included Russia but also the UAE, PRC, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and more,” Peter Strzok wrote.
None of that is normal. There is a reason the White House press pool (in which I am included) gets read outs of a president’s meetings, phone calls and communications with foreign leaders.
Whistleblower complaint alleges WH officials were directed by WH lawyers to “remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to cabinet level officials.” pic.twitter.com/APkLyUpWw6
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 26, 2019
“When he takes the interpreter’s notes and wants to destroy them so no one can see what was said in written transcript, you know it raises serious questions about the relationship between this president and Putin,” Sen. Dick Durbin told ABC News.
The real question here is not just what Trump did with the classified documents that compelled a federal judge to issue a search warrant for his property, but what else has he done that no one has felt was worth it to take action on. It seems very likely that national security secrets are at the root of the raid, with Asha Rangappa saying on CNN: “These aren’t just the Kim Jong-un love letters. These are possibly secrets that could really harm national security and so I think they want to make sure… before they take this extreme step.”
Donald Trump is already under legal threat for his part in a literal self-coup, an insurrection against his own country.
With a history like that, we should be asking what exactly is so bad that the FBI raided his property. As I pointed out on Twitter, Trump is not the victim in this situation; the United States is the victim. And we should all be concerned about just how large the threat against us is.
*Examples of “Russia hoax” claims by right wing media and elected officials (there are a lot more): https://twitter.com/newsmax/status/1556845221593456640?s=21&t=z99yYnV8rs8n-LYv-8NHyg
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.