Confessions of a Late to the Party Russiagate Non-Skeptic

I don’t think this is worth your time, but when I post only at Dan pulls the post over here so I might as well.

Like many many (too many) people I am irritated by this article by Blake Hounshell.

Hounshell claims to have “doubts about whether Donald Trump colluded with Russia” I have a couple of questions. One is: Which word in “Trump colluded with Russia” didn’t you understand ? The answer is “colluded” which is repeatedly redefined in the article so it can dodge a hail of facts and remain unproven. The other (which I actually asked him) is:if in 2014, I had described the Trump tower meeting & preceeding e-mails (without inventing names) and asked “would you call this ‘collusion'” what would you say ?

There would be a follow up question if his answer were “no”: OK now describe an imaginary scenario which you would call collusion.

I think it is not possible for a mainstream journalist to note that we know that Trump jr colluded with Russians. The rules of journalism can’t all be followed in the present case in which the President regularly asserts things which are demonstrably false. There has to be a debate about whether collusion will be detected, even though it has been detected.

I think Hounshell’s interest is in whether there is a story out there. The fact that the story has already been told right in here where we all heard it is irrelevant. The question is whether there is a big scoop to be made. Another important question (which Hounshell barely addresses) is whether the collusion constitutes the crime of conspiracy and whether the colluders will be prosecuted.

I decided to write this post to point out an amusing contradiction in the article. Hounshell argues that, if there had been collusion, Trump would have openly blabbed about it since he has no self control & also that Donald Trump’s open collusion on TV isn’t collusion because it was open blabbing. I quote

Then there’s the Trump factor to consider. Here’s a man who seems to share every thought that enters his head, almost as soon as he enters it. He loves nothing more than to brag about himself, and he’s proven remarkably indiscreet in the phone calls he makes with “friends” during his Executive Time—friends who promptly share the contents of those conversations with D.C. reporters. If Trump had cooked up a scheme to provide some favor to Putin in exchange for his election, wouldn’t he be tempted to boast about it to someone?

[Biiig skip]

There is, of course, plenty of public evidence that Trump was all too happy to collude with Putin. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” springs to mind …

The fact (noted six (6) paragraphs later) burns Hounshell’s argument to the ground, scatters its ashes to the nameless howling winds and sows salt where once it stood.

(I am quoting Noah Smith quoting someone else).

Hounshell’s argument rests on Catch 22 — Trump can’t collude without discussing the collusion in public and public requests can’t be collusion themselves or correspond to private collusion because they are public.

It may be true that Trump couldn’t conspire with Russia without talking about it in public, but it is certainly true that he talked about it in public. Again the question, can Hounshell imagine a scenario less devastating for his argument. Hmm well collusion typically involves a quid pro quo not just a request. Lets run the tape

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” He said this after Papadopoulos was informed by the Russians that they possessed Clinton-related emails.

Hmm “rewarded mightily”. Note the “by our press” makes no sense. Respectable newspapers don’t pay for stories and disreputable ones don’t have access to sums which would seem mighty to the Russian government. I think the “by our press” locked the door after the horse had escaped the horses mouth.

So what’s going on ?
1) Maybe Hounshell is Fukayaming
2) Someone suspects he is stuck in the pose of a cynical sophisticate who has seen worse before and is amused by how excited the non-cognoscenti are.
3) He is thinking of whether a journalist should invest in an effort to find another smoking gun. It would be very hard to top the two which have been smoking away for months. So there is no professional gain there — only crimes against democracy.

I think point 3 is the important one. There will be no dramatic proof that Trump is a crook for the same reason that there will be no dramatic proof that water is wet.