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Putin Speaks Code. Does Trump Understand?
Back when word first leaked that Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr., had met with a Russian lawyer and others offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, President Trump seemed to think he was supplying an exculpatory cover story. Flying home from Germany on Air Force One, Trump reportedly instructed Don Jr. to claim that he and the Kremlin-linked lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” There is apparently some debate about whether that misleading statement places the president in any legal jeopardy, but there is another aspect to the story that has received less attention. It came up again during the Helsinki debacle – Putin, the world’s richest man and most successful thief, is obsessed with the Magnitsky Act.
In fact, the very mention of Russian adoptions was a tipoff that Ms. Veselnitskaya was probably representing Vladimir Putin. Whether Trump knew this at the time is unclear. After all, he could not say what the nuclear triad was and endorsed “Article XII” of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe he thought mentioning that they discussed Russian adoptions was the most anodyne-sounding explanation for the meeting.
Except it wasn’t. If they spoke of adoptions, it means they spoke of the Magnitsky Act, the sanctions bill the U.S. enacted at the urging of William Browder, a hedge fund manager and, at one time, the largest foreign investor in Russia. Funny, Browder’s name came up again in Helsinki, when Putin accused him of tax evasion and theft and contributing to the Hillary Clinton campaign (all totally false) and suggested that the U.S. should hand him over for questioning in exchange for permitting Robert Mueller to question the 12 GRU agents just indicted for meddling in our election. Putin later added former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to the list of those his goons would interrogate. Our stable genius president leaped at this as an “incredible offer.” A few days later, he scaled back.
Those who follow relations with Russia know that Vladimir Putin used the fate of Russian orphans as a way to retaliate against the United States for the Magnitsky Act. If they were talking adoptions at Trump Tower it’s because they were talking about sanctions relief, a matter dear to Putin’s heart. In exchange for what?
Sergei Magnitsky was the accountant who worked for William Browder. When Browder’s firm, Hermitage Capital, was the victim of a fraud and embezzlement scheme, Magnitsky patiently pieced together the truth. Those responsible, it turned out, were Russian government agents, living large and enjoying BMWs and seaside apartments. Magnitsky’s reward was to be arrested and tortured to death. Oh, and to add a nice Soviet-style touch, Putin’s government pinned the embezzlement on Magnitsky. Putin’s retaliation, halting adoptions of Russian babies by Americans, was another human rights abuse.
Browder was shaken to his core by Magnitsky’s fate and has since devoted his life to passing Magnitsky laws in every country he can convince. Ours passed in 2012. The law forbids Americans to do any business, including banking, with those who had a part in Magnitsky’s torture and death, thus making it more difficult for Russian criminals (i.e. state actors including Putin) to stash stolen money in the U.S. or other countries that have adopted such laws. It would not be strange for a president of the United States to award someone like Bill Browder a medal. It is pathetic for a president of the United States to be so obtuse or ignorant or both as to agree before all the world that such a man might be questioned by Putin’s trained attack dogs.
If you watched the Helsinki press conference, you saw Trump bowing and scraping to ingratiate himself with Putin. He kept thanking the Russian for attending the meeting, stressed that using the word “competitor” was intended as a compliment (in contrast to his treatment of NATO allies), and whined that the Mueller investigation had “kept us separated.” The man who swore to put America first blamed America first for poor relations with Russia.
What you saw in Putin was the cat who’d swallowed the canary. He was calm. He smiled. We later learned that on his way to Helsinki, his plane had violated NATO air space by flying over Estonia without permission. He is rubbing our noses in it.
“There was no collusion,” President Trump keeps saying. It may be true or it may not. But his behavior in Helsinki, like so much of what he says and does, reveals a shallow, unworthy, power-worshipping man who does not understand what he is sworn to uphold.Published in Foreign Policy, Politics
I did. One grating example: Trump very rightly criticized Merkel for making a deal with Russia to have the Nord Stream pipeline bringing natural gas into northern Germany. But after the Helsinki summit, he gave in to Putin and said he wished them luck.
Assad actually asked the Russians to come into Syria. Whereas Hillary Clinton asked Obama to ask the American people to “make it clear to our Congressmen and women that we want boots on the ground in Syria.” (Summer 2013)
Obama went on to ask that the American public call, fax, phone and write our Congress critters telling them of the need to get involved in Syria’s civil war. And we did as we asked. Except that a full 87% of us made it clear we were sick and tired of the endless wars that never were won, except by our nation’s defense contractors.
It was about three years later, due to Wikileaks’ reveltions, that I found out the reason that Hillary wanted Obama to get boots on the ground was complicated. The Congress had imposed an arms embargo against American made weapons being sent to Libya.
Meanwhile Ms Clinton had received a 32 million dollar “donation” from various Saudi and Qatar officials posted to her Clinton Foundation. All those officials wanted in return was way to have our weapons get to Libya. A war in Syria would allow that to happen.
And why was it important to have weapons in Libya? because it had been discovered that Qhaddafi had some 320 billions of gold bullion stashed away. It was discovered that he planned on using these monies to help out various African nations. The world’s top financial concerns didn’t like the fact that The World Bank and the International Money Fund would no longer have those poor nations to prey upon. Plus if someone took Ghaddafi out, then someone could have access to all that lovely gold bullion.
I still don’t know who ended up with that gold bullion. Some say the French, but whenever the Clintons get involved with anything, they always take their “finder’s fee.”
PJ: If you’re called a Never Trumper, please flag it so we can handle it. In the meantime, please rise above and remain polite on Ricochet. Thank you.
I would never suggest that the US is the moral equivalent of Russia as I don’t know what in the world you are talking about.
Our nations are two separate nations, both of which have extremely unique histories and backstories.
However if the Globalists get their way and somehow assassinate or otherwise remove Trump from office, we will probably get to see exactly what it is like to live inside a country where a five year plan is instituted and individual freedoms totally vanish from our culture. (A situation that the Russians had to endure under communism, although they have now moved away from it.)
Already in California we have the “D” socialists running things, leaving parents without any say in their children’s health. Also, most social programs and infra structure needs are left unmet because the portion of the state budget that goes for immigration services has wiped out the monies needed for such things as fire equipment. The 40% of the state budget that used to be spent on such necessities as infra structure now stands at under 20% – even though the state now has over 40 million people.
Gov Jerry Brown frequently touts the “fact” that we have a budget surplus. This can only be stated as “fact” by ignoring that the various things the state once did are now handled on the county level. And many of Calif’s 58 counties are experiencing red ink.
@DrewInWisconsin – I can’t give enough likes to your comments regarding embarrassing tyrants in public. If Obama had done the same, the media would be proclaiming a new day of peace was ahead and the right would be crying “treason”. You really can’t tell much from the public statements following closed-door negotiations. Only time will tell. All the right people seem to be angry and wrapping themselves in the flag. So there is that.
I found it very interesting that Putin called out Hillary by name and claimed that Browder funneled money into her campaign. Putin is killer and liar, Hillary is liar and Browder is the largest investor in a corrupt country and probably a bad guy. Is there any reason not to believe that those 3 were trading money on things besides Uranium One and Skolkovo??
We could argue, but it would be an argument about differing definitions, and that’s pointless. Just for clarity: I consider it “letting America down” if a President says something like “American stupidity” while on foreign soil. Ever. Even if by “America” he really means “the last President and/or people in his administration,” that’s still letting America down, as I see it.
I’ll understand if you don’t see it that way. I’m just trying to be clear.
Russia and The United States agreed that the Euphrates River was a dividing line in Syria. Russians would operate on one side of the Euphrates, and American forces would operate on the other. Russian forces broke the agreement and attempted to attack an American base. They sent tanks and armored vehicles across the river. American advisors watched the buildup and called Russian commanders in Syria. Those commanders denied that they were Russian forces. Too bad for the Russians that crossed the river.
Praise him with HUGE praise!
All kidding aside, that woman is just so stunning it’s actually distracting. She is by far the most beautiful and elegant First Lady in my lifetime, very happy she is in the White House representing us to the world with her grace and quiet dignity.
I will flag it – it’s on another post.
As much as I dislike Trump’s intellectual carelessness and overall manner, the one area where I don’t worry about him is knowing how to deal with powerful a-holes. These are the types of egos Trump has been navigating throughout his career, and I feel confident that he is perfectly within his element in knowing when to woo and when to play hard to get. This is the part of the job for which he is not only most well-suited, but understands far better than the rest of us.
Because everything is binary? Maybe everything isn’t one extreme or the other…
Moderator Note:No, you saw this was already struck out and it's still rude.
As soon as the praise and worship stops I suspect people identifying it will stop doing so.
Nixon had supporters even as he was resigning. Every Republican President or Nominee since has had supporters and detractors in the right. I don’t recall supporters of Reagan or Bush or McCain being slandered by their fellows on the right as cultist or worshiping god kings.
If these constant insults are good enough to substitute for legitimate discussion and disagreement, then we as a people really do deserve Trump. Trump behaves exactly as we behave toward each other, even when we are generally on the same political side. Why use intelligence when insults and bombast are available.
I took care of it. That was definitely not kosher.
I don’t recall that criticism of Reagan from the Right was met with “NeverReagan”!, or the assertion that they wanted Carter to win.
I will criticize the actions of our presidents, if I think they’re doing something unwise or disgraceful, no matter what party they belong to. I don’t see why Trump is supposed to get a pass. Look, I agree that a few on the Right have gone overboard – Will saying we should vote for Democrats, etc., – and can’t give the guy credit when it’s due, but I don’t think most Trump critics are that unreasonable. But the reaction from Trump fans is so extreme. The guy just can’t do anything wrong! No wonder I and others see this as hero worship – I saw the same fanaticism with Obama by some on the left, and disliked it then. I dislike it now.
The idea that the outcome of an Election is bianary did not start with Trump. The argument was made a number of times on this site that not voting for Romney was supporting or helping Obama. Romney was a good man but not universally loved as a nominee.
There was not a group of people who loudly declared themselves to be Never Reagan or Never Dole. So the opponents of those candidates were never assigned those labels by those that disagreed with them.
I really don’t care if you criticize Trump. The fact that you have a criticism does not mean that people who disagree with your view are not thinking things through and coming to a different conclusion but are simply engaging in hero worship.
I’ll save my credit for those who don’t say variations of the same thing every week, no matter what Trump does.
I strongly disagree with his rhetoric on Crimea and Montenegro, all right? I also see what he actually does regarding Russia (see DrewInWisconsin’s and Doug Watt’s post), and I’m just not that worried about his rhetoric; actions speak louder than words, especially when his critics (on both the Left and the Right) manage to always say far worse things than Trump during every controversy.
And articles like this show that Mona is clueless and forever will be. But then that’s true of all the neocon, warmongering imperialists.
I would agree that actions speak louder than words, which is why ultimately I don’t think this matters, in practical terms, that much and will blow over quickly.
Yeah, I wonder why Trump’s opponents on the right hate him so very, very much. It’s not healthy, and it doesn’t help us fight the scourge of leftism. Rather, it aids their cause by hampering the President from enacting an agenda that has so far been entirely conservative. More conservative than any President since Ronald Reagan.
So why are they hindering him?
Anyway, the point isn’t “opposing diplomacy” (that itself is a straw man), it’s misunderstanding how to conduct diplomacy.
More straw men followed by false choices.I don’t know how to not repeat myself. What, specifically, was the problem? What did these people want the President to do instead? The people who keep saying that the President should have stood there at the press conference and accused Putin of wrongdoing are not taking diplomacy seriously. You just don’t do that.
I think you have to admit that his behavior is often reprehensible, which explains a lot. I was raised to be polite — good heavens, if I had ever brought a man like Trump home to my meet my parents, they would have despaired! He is rude, crude, and vulgar. He’s comfortable lying and smearing people — that whole business about Ted Cruz’s father being part of the JFK conspiracy, snarking about women’s looks, his affairs — that turns quite a few people off, including me. He comes off as very ignorant about important matters. But – he has picked good people who aren’t any of those things, and so I am mostly happy with how things are going. If fiscal responsibility is high in your priority list, there’s not much to recommend him, but then that could be said for all of Washington.
I think the hard-core Trump critics on the Right are worried that he will forever taint the cause of conservatism. Maybe they’re right, but I’m willing to give him a chance and take the good when it comes. I don’t see how they’re hindering his agenda, though. I think if he could just stop shooting himself in the foot his popularity would rise and Congress would have an easier time enacting conservative policies, but he has a self-destructive element within him.
I don’t think it can be explained rationally at this point. Look at George Will’s latest column attacking Trump, complete with name calling and emotional diatribes worthy of child, it was unhinged, emotional, and dead wrong. As disgusted as I was at seeing it, I was also saddened to see him end his career this way. Look at the opposition to Trump here at Rico, they resort to calling us cultists and use childish names against Trump, or focus on him using blunt language. Rarely do we see any discussion of his policies, but it always seems to come down to emotions as their reasoning against him. When Rob Long discusses Trump, he can’t help but get emotional, whether it’s angry rants or smug insults, he doesn’t seem able to discuss Trump without his emotions taking over.
Hey I like Trump, he’s the best POTUS in my lifetime so far, and the last time I looked I don’t belong to cult.
A number of months ago members were asked to stop using terms like “never trump” and “trumpkin”. There was a certain logic to this as the terms were being used as insults and as a way to ignore the positions of those on both sides by lumping them into a group. Implied membership in whichever group meant that the person did not need to be taken serious, they did not have a logical point of disagreement, they were just members of which ever tribe.
I noted at the time that we are a site full of people who write. As such, while I understood the policy, it would be easy for people to work around. Enter the phrases Cult, Hero Worship, Orange God King, and following the Lord and Master.
You do not have to accept that people looked at the same set of facts and came to different conclusions, or at the very least continue to prioritize things differently, they are simply hero worshipers and they and their arguments may be dismissed as such.
Right lap dog.
Thats why he’s increased US military presence in the Baltic and Poland, and we have new defense agreements with Sweden and Finland. That’s why we are finally sending lethal military aid to Ukraine. That’s why we fought against Russian mercs in Syria. That’s why we increased the Defense budget. That’s why he’s trying to hold NATO’s feet to the fire to increase defense spending. That’s why he tried to get Germany to bail on another pipeline increasing their dependence on Russian gas.
Yes, the language police policy changes on here have been largely a failure IMHO. As you stated, the terms have simply been re-worded. Honestly, as far as I know those who oppose Trump really didn’t have much a problem with the one-word term they actually coined for themselves in the first place, you know the word…rhymes with “ever” and starts with an N (see how silly this is Rico?).
Back in the day, people who voted for Reagan proudly accepted the term “Reaganite”. As for Trump supporters, I know the term Trumpkin was first intended as an insult, but I would own it if Rico allowed it. We could co-opt it, much like Trump himself stole the term “fake news” from the left and turned it right around on them. Or if not “Trumpkin” then I really LOVE the term “Deplorable”, a gift from that terrible, despicable, awful human being known as Hillary Clinton.
I’m happy with all that you have mentioned. Actions speak louder than words, and so I think this latest embarrassment will blow over quickly. But as for the pipeline: yes, he rightly criticized Merkel for making the deal with Russia, but after meeting with Putin, he backed down and wished the Russians luck.