MEMBERS ONLY: Trump-Russia Deniers Owe Us An Apology

Wednesday, December 12, was another historic day in the ongoing disintegration of both the Trump presidency and the Trump brand, with Trump the man-baby moving ever closer to impeachment and ignominy.

We learned that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and bag-man, Michael Cohen, will likely spend the next three years in a federal prison. It’s also a possibility that the sentence will be reduced if Cohen decides to fully cooperate with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York with the same degree of bean-spilling as he’s performed for Robert Mueller’s team of untouchables. But, at least for now, Cohen faces three years as a ward of the government, three years he’ll never get back. Three years without his family or his children.

Now, sure, the chances are pretty solid that he’ll eventually sashay out of his prison cell and onto the set of Dancing With The Stars, because the networks are soulless. Then again, Cohen might also be viewed by history as the John Dean of this Trump-Russia saga, representing the closest Trump confidante to provide testimony and documentation implicating Trump and Trump’s children in a series of crimes so awful that their family brand should be humiliated out of existence. 

We’re allowed to dream, aren’t we?

Wednesday’s events are preceded by a tumultuous Friday in which the extent of Cohen’s cooperation was outlined in a sentencing memo that, among other things, verified several aspects of Trump’s legal jeopardy. We now have confirmation that prosecutors in Manhattan and D.C. have accumulated volumes of evidence suggesting Trump and his inner circle conspired with Russia, and that Trump himself dictated Cohen’s hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in order to influence the outcome of the election. 

Later in the day, Wednesday, we also learned that The National Enquirer, along with its publisher, David Pecker, will be cooperating with prosecutors. Another nail in Trump’s political coffin.

Sure, we don’t have a verdict yet on the usual suspects, but we’re now privy to the extent of the cases against Trump in these particular areas. We also know there’s likely to be more details dropping in the coming weeks and months, enough to justify articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives and the likely passage of those articles, triggering an automatic trial in the Senate. It’s also possible these charges could end up in a series of indictments against the Trumps.

Simply put: everything we’ve been talking about since July of 2016 is being rapidly confirmed on the record. Everything. And with much more to come.

And that’s the point of this article. Starting now, there are more than a few human beings who owe us a series of apologies. The list of “us” begins with Hillary Clinton, then Barack Obama, and on down the line to journalists like Rachel Maddow and my friend Buzz Burbank, to national security experts like Michael Hayden, John Brennan, Malcolm Nance and Tom Nichols, to Stephanie Miller and John Fugelsang, and so many more — myself and the Banter staff included. I’d also like to toss onto the list our late friend, Chez Pazienza, who, on our podcast together in late July of 2016 declared the Russian attack to be the biggest and most important story of our time.

Since we first began to report on the slow-motion trainwreck that is Trump’s participation in this colossal cyberattack and its equally colossal cover-up, there have been several groups of deniers who refused to accept the reporting on the story, and therefore refused to accept our collective analysis that not only did Russia elect Trump, but that Trump was a willing participant in that endeavor, not to mention an entire series of related malfeasance. 

I’ll never forget how one of my colleagues (not naming names here) emailed me about my articles on Trump-Russia, suggesting I was way off and that we needed to talk. Likewise, we all know at least one or two or a dozen friends who deleted us from their social media rosters due to our posts about the attack and Trump’s involvement. In fact, one of my ex-friends on Facebook, a Bernie Sanders supporter and vocal Trump-Russia denier, continues to this day to randomly stalk me in the comments below my articles on Salon.com. We’ve all heard the denials from Fox News, of course, but, like my ex-friend, the Glenn Greenwald clique has also attempted to undermine and cast doubt upon everyone from Maddow to yours truly.

I apologize in advance for this, but I can’t help but to feel resentful of the people who perpetually tried to gaslight us about a series of crimes that couldn’t have been more obvious from the get-go. Speaking for myself, I’ve seldom been more confident in a position I’ve taken on a major news story. As soon as I learned Russia was behind the hacking of the DNC and that they did so in order to help Trump, my Spidey-Sense kind of knew that this would lead to reports of Trump’s cooperation. We also knew from the beginning that a crime like this had to have copious unknowns lurking beneath the surface — the entirety of the iceberg beyond the exposed tip. We knew it all along, and we were right about nearly everything. And yet the doubters and deniers pegged us for tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists, when that simply wasn’t the case. There are conspiracy theories and then there are Conspiracy Theories yanked from the syphilitic gray-matter of Alex Jones and his copycats. This was no Alex Jones fever dream, nor was this a “Truther” movement. 

Frankly, and, again, forgive my boasting, but I consider myself to be member of a political faction that’s been generally right about most issues and news items. We were right about Trump and “Rusher.” We were right about the crooks in Trump’s loop. We were right about WMD in Iraq. We were right about the entire folly of the Iraq War. We were right about the efficacy of the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”) of 2009. We, including men like Bernie Sanders and Thom Hartmann, were right about the early warning signs of the Great Recession. We were right about Trump’s ridiculous fearmongering about the “caravans.” We were right about Trump’s reckless tax cuts and the deficits those cuts would create. We’ve been right for decades about the climate crisis, too. And it’s not just that we’re smarter, it’s that we read the work of smart people.

My hope is that one of these days soon, more Americans will begin to look to those of us who’ve been correct more often than not, and to see that perhaps we’re not merely screeching into the void. But for now, I’d be happy with an apology from everyone who thought I was nuts for my often shouty pronouncements about what Chez called the biggest story of our lifetimes. And, from there, let’s resolve to stop screwing around and to start listening to expert observers with solid track-records rather than indulging our own stubbornness and our bullshit social media brands.  

Trump is a criminal and an illegitimate president, and with every new day comes additional verification that it’s all true. All of it.

Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images