Russia, Russia, Russia has begun to sound like Marsha, Marsha, Marsha from the Brady Bunch. Even when there is nothing there, the mainstream media reports on what they think might be there. It has gotten very old. It has also gotten very expensive for the taxpayers to pay for an investigation that has lasted for more than a year and found nothing related to the campaign. They did find international businessmen who were not playing by the correct rules, and they did find someone who misremembered something, but campaign collusion with Russia? Not on the Republican side.
Yesterday Byron York posted an interesting story at The Washington Examiner that perfectly illustrates how insane the campaign to undo the 2016 election has become. The headline of the story is, “So why was Trump aide talking to a Russian spy?” Wow. It sounds like we have finally caught the Republicans (and Trump) red-handed. Well, not so fast.
The article tells us that Rick Gates is the Trump aide who spoke to the Russian spy.
The article points out:
“CNN has learned why special counsel Robert Mueller wants the cooperation of former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates,” anchor Alisyn Camerota said Friday. “Court documents indicate that Gates could be critical to nabbing even bigger fish in a collusion case involving the Kremlin.”
Reporter Shimon Prokupecz said the Mueller team “has been primarily using Rick Gates for information about what they call the central mission of the investigation, which has been Russian interference and collusion in the 2016 campaign.” Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges unrelated to collusion and is now cooperating with Mueller.
Prokupecz said he had learned Mueller did not need Gates’ cooperation in the tax evasion and fraud case against former employer (and short-lived Trump campaign chairman) Paul Manafort. “Instead, [Mueller] wanted to hear about what he knew about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians.” A “hint” about Mueller’s intentions, Prokupecz said, was contained in a new court filing that “shows Gates was communicating with a Russian intelligence official who was also a close associate of Paul Manafort, and the court document said that Gates knew of this connection while he was working for the Trump campaign.”
One wonders how “CNN has learned.” That’s my first question. The second question is the method used to get Gates’ cooperation–“Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges unrelated to collusion and is now cooperating with Mueller. Why was Mueller even investigating charges unrelated to collusion? The third question is how much information was left out of the CNN story–that’s where things get interesting.
The article concludes:
So putting it all together, yes, Gates was “in contact with a Russian intelligence officer.” And who knows? Perhaps they were plotting to fix the U.S. presidential election for President Trump. But the evidence that Mueller has revealed, and the statements he has made, suggest something more prosaic. Manafort, Gates, and Kilimnik were engaged in all sorts of shady and possibly illegal conduct in Ukraine. They were not interested in the world knowing about it. In addition, Manafort and Gates were strapped for cash and thought some Ukrainians owed them millions of dollars. Which means there were plenty of reasons for Gates and Kilimnik to be in contact in 2016, none of which they would want prosecutors to know about.
Ron Brownstein was right when he advised caution in drawing conclusions about the Mueller investigation. There is still too much that is hidden. But it is reasonable to assess what we know so far. And for the moment at least, the bread crumbs do not add up to a hoagie.
If jumping to conclusions counted as exercise, the mainstream media would put Richard Simmons to shame!