Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Note on the Whole Trumputin Thing

A vast amount is known on the classified side. That's why Trump's worked so hard so early to discredit his own intelligence community. They have him red-handed, and he knows it, so he's tried to turn his base against them. Alas, they operate at a disadvantage, unable to make public their mountains of incriminating evidence, while he's free to blab and blab about them.

The press lacks access to that motherlode, but they know way more than they're reporting. The bottleneck is their journalistic standards of confirmation. Trump knows this, too, and it's part of what's fueling his war with them. (The zeitgeist of greatness in our time - ala food in the 90's - is investigative reporting. We're in a golden age of journalism, with the press fully rising to the challenge. I've happily bought digital subscriptions to NYT, WaPo, and several others.)

So there's all the pipeline, and many people know about it (and some finds its way into certain Twitter feeds) but you won't hear about it in the press because it's not double-confirmed.

But there is one sure takeaway: this is an immense scandal. It's not some minor break-in at a Washington hotel. Robert Mueller has a staff of a couple dozen at this point - all superstar investigators and/or prosecutors in their own rights. It's clearly not about any one meeting with the Russians.

So I'd urge you not to waste time with minutiae about this one stupid meeting with Trump's kid. It's nothing in the scheme of things. Either wait for Mueller's report (give it a year), or else dive into the Twitter feeds I follow (here's my list, or, if pressed for time, just follow my "likes") for the raw, unchecked stuff, which often seems to prove right. I'm not talking about Louise Mensch, who's pure chaos. I mean people like Rick Wilson, John Schindler, and Benjamin Wittes, who've been a month or three ahead of things since the election. Particularly don't miss Wilson's great Periscope video chats, announced via his Twitter feed, which have been the saving grace of this entire shitshow.

In the end, it won't matter who the eighth person was at this meeting, or whether Trump was advised about it, or whether there was follow-up. This is tip-of-the-iceberg stuff. There's so much more.

I find myself getting lulled into speculative details and pundit outrage re: the story du jour, but while it's crucial that the press (and Mueller) are dissecting it all, we needn't pay attention on that level. I haven't seen many Trump/Russia stories worth reading beyond the headline. Beyond the golden nugget, they're mostly padding - recap and background. Just watch the headlines, and know that it will all come out in the end. This is like a long road trip at 5 mph. We don't need to plant our attention on every passing weed and tin can.

In the meantime, don't expect Trump to go anywhere any time soon. It is not in our national interest for presidents to be easily removed - and eagerness to ravage institutional processes to achieve one's political aims is precisely the sort of thing Trump does...and we should be better). The smart money says resignation is most likely. At some point Trump will really stop enjoying this, and he'll find a medical excuse.

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