Thursday, July 26, 2018

Yeah, About That...

So I've been trying hard to figure out why, other than derangement, the anti-Trumps think this recording of him apparently talking about buying the silence of some woman he had an affair with is such a big deal. Some do claim the moral element matters, but they didn't care about Clinton or dozens others. So that's not it. Well, I think I figured it out. And what a joke it is.

For those not paying attention -- for which I can hardly blame you -- Trump's former lawyer is in trouble for some sort of crimes he committed which apparently were enough to break the attorney client privilege, though I actually doubt that to be true. His lawyer has since decided to play mafia don and is threatening to release all kinds of evil secrets if people don't help him. Aiding him in this, is his own attorney -- Lanny Davis -- who was a Clinton attorney. Funny how that works.

Anyways, this week, "someone" release the smoking gun tape that was supposed to destroy Trump and lead to his impeachment and incarceration. On the tape, Trump is apparently (the tape is unclear at key points) talking to this attorney about paying off this woman to buy her silence. Shocker! End of the world! The horror!

The only problem is that there's nothing illegal or shocking about this. Pubic figures do this all the time. It sounds like they were trying to be a little more clever about it than most by not letting her know the money came from Trump (it would come from a dummy production company supposedly to buy her story) but that's not illegal either.

So what is this smoking gun that has the anti-Trumps so excited?

No one can really say. They all just seem to know that THIS IS IT!!!

So I started digging. What I've found is everyone repeating the litany that this "could involve" tax fraud (failure to declare income), campaign finance violations, wire/telephone fraud, and conspiracy to commit the other crimes. Sounds horrible, but here's the thing... the key word is "could." The people who claim this is a smoking gun are adding a step to their logic that they aren't admitting. This payment is only tax fraud, wired/phone fraud or a campaign finance violation IF those things ALSO occurred. That's like saying, "Andrew could be guilty of bank robbery, as shown his admission of speeding, IF he was speeding as part of a bank robbery." Talk about overstating the significance of the speeding ticket.

In this case, all we know is that Trump did nothing wrong or illegal or unethical. His attorney did by releasing this information and should be disbarred and maybe imprisoned, but Trump didn't. The rest is all wishful thinking.

What's more. The tax fraud would arise if the woman didn't declare it as income. That's not on Trump. The wire fraud and phone fraud would be her use of the phones or the mails as well, unless Trump's used them to commit campaign finance fraud. Campaign finance fraud only arises if Trump used campaign money to pay for this and didn't declare it, and I've seen no evidence of that -- and I suspect that tape would have been released if it existed. So these crimes aren't even Trump's. Their best bet would be some sort of conspiracy charge, where they claim Trump conspired with the woman to help her commit tax fraud, but that's a super stretch.

So all told, there's simply no smoke here. Imagine that.


tryanmax said...

The take from the NeverTrump right is how deeply disturbed we should all be that Trump paid the woman--or was it the newspaper? or a third party? we don't know, we don't care--to silence the story! What if Obama or Hillary or some other Democrat did this!? (You know, the party that is already in bed with the media? Don't think, just be angry.)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, "don't think, just be angry" seems to be the motto of the entire movement, left and right.

This is one of those moments where I honestly cannot see what they think we're really supposed to be upset about. Famous people buy off claims like this all the time -- real or imagined. It's part of life in America. No one cares.

And they can't even seem to come together on what the real problem is! The best I can figure:

1. It's Trump, he's evil.

2. Someone somewhere might have committed a crime which could maybe be connected back to Trump if you squint and ignore some stuff.

3. OMG, he had the nerve to not admit how evil he is and now he have proof that he didn't admit something he did, whatever that may be.

I'm noticing a lot of the third these days. (1) accuse him of something, not even something wrong, (2) find proof that you are right, (3) accuse him of being evil because you proved your point, (4) accuse him of being a real evil bastard because he didn't admit that he did what you said without prompting. Huh?

Critch said...

"Air" Claire McCaskill is already blaming the Russkies for her impending defeat.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, That's promising. I hope she goes down in flames finally. Of course, the irony is thick that the Democrats used to love the Soviets so much... and loved Putin... but don't seem to love him anymore.

Anthony said...

1) Anyone expecting love of Putin or love of strippers to bring Trump down is painfully naive. Both are key parts of Trump's public image and have been since before he decided to run for office.

2) While I predicted turmoil watching his campaign, the level of disorganization and disloyalty is truly impressive. Its like a gameshow or something. I remember the halcyon days when it was predicted by optimists that Trump would run a smooth ship. Ah well, at least chaos is entertaining.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, indisputable proof of love is extremely hard to come by. Especially if you follow my lifelong Democrat grandfathers reasoning: If a Democrat knocks you on your butt, you probably had it coming; if a Republican helps you to your feet, he just wants something.

"It's like a gameshow or something." Or something, indeed...

AndrewPrice said...

The "Putin love" thing is funny to me because it's basically invented by the people who hate Trump as a basis for hating him, and they think it gets proven every time Trump doesn't go to war with Russia. At the same time, these people wet themselves every time Trump says something nasty about some other dictator. Such strange logic.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, a couple weeks ago, the "experts" made the rounds and told us that North Korea had lied about dismantling the nuclear site they promised Trump they would dismantle.

Last week, went apoplectic about North Korean reneging on returning the remains of American service men.

A couple days ago, satellite images confirmed that the site is being dismantled, and now North Korea has provided the remains of 55 service men.

So much for the experts... once again.

Unknown said...

They are experts at being wrong.

Anthony said...


Trump like a lot of the talk radio wing of the party, has a soft spot in his head for Putin. Whether it drawing moral equivalence between Putin and the US or denying Russia's presence in the Ukraine Trump has a long history of shaky statements on Russia.

If you don't see that as a problem, good for you but given his long history of such statements don't see how you can deny the phenomena.

AndrewPrice said...

Sorry Anthony, I don't buy it.

Right wing talk radio fell "in love" with Putin because he started bombing Isis when Obama was talking about leading from behind and wouldn't use the word "terrorist" within 100 words of the word "Islam."

Trump pandered to that. Since then, Trump has done nothing to suggest he has any particular thoughts on Putin. He's let our military engage Russian soldiers. He's supplied weapons to the Ukraine. He lets Nikki Haley attack Russia at the UN. He hasn't abandoned Poland, Estonia, or the Ukraine as the anti-Trumps predicted. He hasn't passed or asked for a single law benefiting Russia.

What's more, the case against him is all hyperbole. Trump meets Putin and engages in typical diplomatic courtesy and the anti-Trumps scream that he's a traitor for being diplomatic. They act like he should have punched Putin in the face and dropped a bomb on some Russian city for good measure. That's bullshit thinking.

It's also super hypocritical. OH MY GOD! TRUMP CONGRATULATED PUTIN ON THE WORLD CUP!! HE'S BETRAYED US!! So did every other world leader. OH MY GOD! HE MET WITH PUTIN!! So has every other world leader. When Obama did it, you all thought it was great. When Hillary did it, you all thought it was great. Now it's treachery?

The anti-Trump case against him reminds me teenage girls who set out to destroy each other emotionally and expect all their friends to go along with it. "How can you talk to her, Trump? Don't you know what she's like?!"

Tennessee Jed said...

the whole Trump/Putin thing is a sham in my view. I picked up a copy of Jarrett's book. he is a a lawyer and makes his case as a lawyer would. I am not a legal expert, and like any attorney, he is making his case from a particular point of view. Still, even with my biases, as a non=lawyer, I found it convincing. If you get a chance, it is a quick read, and I would be interested in your take.

Anthony said...


Wanting Trump to not accept Putin's word on everything doesn't mean wanting Trump to not talk with Russia let alone expecting Trump to punch Putin in the mouth and then nuke Russia. As happens on regular basis nowadays, shortly after his Putin conference Trump claims everyone misunderstood him in part because he misspoke (saying would when he meant wouldn't).

Funny you mention Nikki Haley. She clearly doesn't trust Russia, but Trump doesn't trust her. He famously and publicly cut her legs out from under her on sanctions. I imagine Russia worries quite a bit more about what the Ambassador to Russia (Huntsman seems pretty close to Trump), the Secretary of State and or course Trump himself says than a person who so clearly is outside the inner circle.

As for Trump's admiration of Putin shining through, let's look at his recent(ish) bizarre proposal to bring Russia back into the G7. The G7 became the G8 back in the 90's during the brief period when Russia was a democracy, but that ended as Putin seized more power and engaged in more brinksmanship abroad (terror attacks, invasions, what have you). Putin seems to consider absolute local power a fair trade for membership. Its odd that Trump didn't.

On a related note an increasingly skeptical Congress has largely tied Trump's hands on Russia through a veto-proof sanctions act it passed last year over Trump's objections.

The new law allows Congress, which passed the measure to punish Russia over interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, to halt any effort by Trump to ease sanctions on Russia.

His hands were tied after the Republican-controlled Congress approved the legislation by such a large margin last week that any presidential veto of the bill would have been overridden.


Last and least who predicted Trump would abandon NATO? That would take an act of Congress. I think a lot of his recent NATO talk is aimed at getting other members to pay more. *Shrugs* Of course some is his standard Putin pandering (I can't believe Trump seriously worries about Montenegro triggering a war with Russia).

AndrewPrice said...

So you've got nothing, Anthony, except that you don't like his words.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I haven't read it. If I do, I'll let you know.

AndrewPrice said...

Oh and Anthony, Last and least who predicted Trump would abandon NATO?

If you haven't heard this, then you haven't paid any attention. This was a mooooonths-long day-after-day refrain from the anti-Trumps.

Anthony said...


First, I'll just observe that some people tend to alternate between handwaving away Trump's words as meaningless and being outraged that other people aren't paying proper attention to Trump's words.

Second, I have paid attention to Trump's often antagonistic NATO quotes, but given that Trump can't muster the energy/focus to kill Obamacare (which infamously passed without Republican votes) I don't believe for a second he would have the energy/focus to kill NATO. But perhaps I missed something. Once again, who predicted Trump would kill NATO?

tryanmax said...

Anthony, you've got the wires crossed. The now old adage regarding Trump's words is to take them seriously, not literally. That's not the same handwaving them away while being outraged that others don't pay proper attention. That is simply telling people to slow down and understand Trump's words as they are meant.

One thing is very, very, very clear, the language of negotiation is foreign to Washington and the average political junkie. Andrew explained it some time ago, and maybe he'll tidy me up now. Negotiation is all about pushing for something beyond what you want while concealing your fallback position in hopes of gaining something in-between. Politics is all about announcing what you'll ask for before you actually ask and then either getting exactly what you want or failing. Under the second model, the first approach looks like constant failure, even as it makes consistent gains. (The expectation of failure is what prompts itchy journos to announce that DPRK has reneged on their promises the day before they make good.) One day, Dems and NeverTrumps will snap out of it and wonder "how the hell did this happen?"

Anthony said...


I think one day the 'Trump is always right except for that time he thought he was wrong' crowd will wake up. Early on during wave presidencies disagreement with the president is always a high crime within the party. *Shrugs* Perhaps this time is different and you are right and I am wrong.

Anyway, let's look at North Korea. They coldshouldered the Secretary of State when he visited to hash out the details of 'denuclearization' and they are continuing to expand relevant facilities (stuff related to nukes or the missiles that carry them).

The handing back of some of the bodies North Korea has sat on for decades (clearly they view them as currency to be spent) and the partial dismantlement of a single missile facility is fine and good, but to my admittedly jaundiced eye it looks like they are just playing the same game they have for decades.

As I said early this year (back when Trump was still ratcheting up pressure on NK).

Most of its existence North Korea has been in talks, seeking to get sanctions/pressure generated by its antics (including but not limited to its nuclear push) reduced.

It pushes things as far as they can go, then negotiates a reduction of tensions (pocketing whatever it gained) then the cycle begins anew.


As for your claim the insincerity is foreign to politics and that politicians are always honest about their goals, I disagree.

AndrewPrice said...

I don't know of anyone here who thinks Trump is always right. Most seem pretty rational about him. They are happy with some of the very good things he's done -- surprised, but happy. Yet, they cringe when he does the "Trump thing." And they tend to hold their breath every time he speaks until they know if this time will be good or bad.

That said, most seem pretty tired of the anti-Trumps who obsess about the most minute of irrelevancies and just can't let anything go. Dismissing those people is not turning a blind eye, it's simply not joining an irrational pogrom.

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