MEMBERS ONLY: Collusion Or Not, History Has To Record Trump As An Illegitimate President

We could probably spend weeks listing all of the reasons why Trump voters ultimately cast their ballots for the Mad King. What’s truly baffling to me, even more than the reasons for their votes, is how they can continue to celebrate their guy while their tiny brains are routinely scrambled by the cognitive dissonance pouring out of the Oval Office. No wonder they’re losing their collective shpadoinkle. Trump is forcing them to defend incomprehensible and contradictory positions linked to his whiny blurts and, naturally, his deranged Twitter feed.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about. Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted this: “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this.” [emphasis mine]

Remember that last part — “no reason for this” — when you read his next tweet:

trump-russia-tweet

As further evidence that these tweets were posted back-to-back, here’s a grab from Trump’s timeline:

trump-tweets

So, to review, Trump said there’s no reason for our relationship with Russia to be worse now than it’s ever been, “and that includes the Cold War.” He followed up this “no reason” declaration by blaming the Russia investigation for the “bad blood.”

Imagine being a Trump supporter who might not be entirely decimated by brain worms, breathlessly scrambling to defend Trump’s tweets, whether on Fox News, online or at the water cooler. Which is it? Is there “no reason,” or is the “fake and corrupt Russia investigation” the reason? We’ll get to the actual reasons in a second, but according to Trump — who the hell knows?

By the way, we’re supposed to believe another of his tweets today in which he described the White House as “very calm and calculated.” If it were, in real life, a very calm and calculated White House, Trump wouldn’t be describing our “bad blood” with Russia as having no reason, while also having a very specific reason. The White House also wouldn’t be hemorrhaging staff at a rate far beyond that of any other recent presidency.

In reality, the reasons for the bad blood are obvious, and it has nothing to do with the investigation. Blaming the investigation is like blaming Kris Kobach’s defunct commission for the alleged voter fraud it sought to uncover. It’s a ludicrous claim, especially in the face of the well-known evidence we’ve learned about so far. Let’s do the list: the reasons for bad blood with Russia.

1. The Russian continuing attack on our elections, and elections held by our allies. This includes the hacking and infiltration of our social media and political organizations.

2. The invasion of Ukraine.

3. The annexation of Crimea.

4. Human rights abuses and the assassination of political dissidents, including the UK chemical weapons attack against Sergey Skripal and his daughter.

5. Asylum for Edward Snowden.

6. Extensive state-sponsored Olympics doping program.

7. Aiding Assad’s regime in Syria, possibly with chemical weapons.

8. Rampant money-laundering through American sources and Putin’s growing kleptocracy.

Most recently, Putin boasted that technological advances in Russia’s nuclear arsenal could enable his rockets to evade American missile defense systems. Uh-huh.

And Trump’s blaming either nothing or Mueller for the “bad blood?” That’s rich.

Worse, for the past year, Trump has been guilty of taking a conspicuously hands-off approach to Russia. It seems everyone in the world has made Trump’s shit-list at one point or another, except, of course, for Putin himself. Does this, by itself, prove that Trump is a Russian agent? Not exactly. We’ve seen a lot of evidence reported in the news, and 99 percent of it has been peer-reviewed and verified. Beyond that, the only thing that’ll prove it without a doubt is court-sanctioned evidence, and, based on what we’ve read, we’re hoping there’s a lot of it.

Trump seems to think, however, that the entire story rises and falls on the “collusion” front — that his enemies will be devastated and forced to eat shit if Mueller and his Untouchables don’t prove Trump personally conspired with Russian operatives. Trump is completely wrong on this front, like always.

There’s a very real chance Trump was insulated from any deals between his campaign people and Russian intelligence. The operative phrase from The Godfather Part II was “there were a lot of buffers,” and Trump the Mob Boss, as James Comey called him, might’ve had quite a few buffers between him and Putin. Or not.

Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the Trump operatives who are responsible for coordinating with the Russian attack are brought to justice. So far, we’ve learned that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were conspiring with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Putin sympathizer in Kiev, Ukraine who also happens to have been an agent for Russian military intelligence, the “GRU.” We also know Mueller is pursuing this thread. Additional contacts might very easily include Trump, but they might not.

The more I think about it, the more I’m drawn to the conclusion that if history records that the 2016 election was skewed by Russia to help Trump, personal collusion by Trump or not, the Trump presidency will be widely regarded as illegitimate. As long as Trump’s name includes a permanent asterisks, as long as he’s seen as a phony chief executive, installed by a hostile foreign power, justice will have been served, at least in the context of this tranche of the probe.

Meanwhile, it seems obvious that Trump will be either charged or seriously excoriated for obstructing justice in the aftermath of the election. (Depending on your reading of the law regarding whether presidents can be indicted.) The real jeopardy for Trump is the cover-up, because a cover-up always includes a motive — the thing he’s covering up. In this regard, Trump surpassed Nixon’s status months ago. Hell, he confessed to obstruction in public again on Wednesday when he tweeted: “No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back)…” This is like saying, “No bank robbery (other than I take money that isn’t mine).”

He’ll also be similarly clobbered by charges of money laundering and maybe even campaign finance violations. One way or another, Trump will face accountability for what he’s done, before and after the election.

He has to be.

Trump’s hopefully ignominious fate has to be embossed into the heads of any and all potential copycats — poseurs and cosplayers who think they can parlay Trump’s fraudulent victory by imitating any number of Trumpian things. They have to know that if they choose to borrow from Trump’s playbook, they’ll be snapped back by the full weight of the American criminal justice system. They have to know it’s a recipe for landing in federal prison or worse.

The president continues to scream in all-caps, “NO COLLUSION!” as if the Mueller investigation and the Russian attack begin and end with that question. Trump and his people are about to be blindsided — cold cocked while they’re looking in the wrong direction. Trump might not go down for this, but he’s going down anyway.