Sunday, April 02, 2017


Mark Cuban thinks Donald Trump couldn't have been in on the Russia plot:
Billionaire Mark Cuban on Saturday went on a tweetstorm explaining his theory about President Trump's ties to Russia, concluding he doesn't think Trump was behind any collusion during last year's presidential race.

"No chance this is a DJT led conspiracy," Cuban wrote in a series of tweets, referring to Trump's initials. He argued that Trump "isn't detail oriented, organized or big picture enough" to pull off any such "conspiracy."

Instead, Cuban argued in a series of tweets that Russian President Vladimir Putin "recognized [Trump's] greed and took advantage by back channeling coordinated misinformation in an attempt to influence voters."

"Russians have made him a lot of money buying condos and investing in his buildings and hosting his beauty pageant," Cuban wrote of Trump. "That makes them his friends. He ignored their backgrounds. But that's not unusual...."

The Dallas Mavericks owner went on to argue that Trump wasn't thinking about Russian influence when he hired Paul Manafort as a top adviser to his campaign. Trump viewed it as a "win win," Cuban argued, with Manafort either helping Trump win the election or being good for future business deals with Russia if he lost.

... "As people with Russian connects came into the campaign he had no clue that those connections were possibly being influenced by Russia," Cuban wrote of Trump in his series of tweets. "His lean campaign took direction from people he trusted and he followed those directions. He had no clue where the Russians fit."

"... Trump had no idea this was happening. He was doing what he was told to do. Stick to the script and read what was written for him."
Read the whole tweetstorm here.

I don't know what the truth is. But unless Trump has thoroughly alienated his base by the time we know the full extent of what happened in Russiagate, I could easily see "Trump didn't know" becoming part of the accepted wisdom, especially on the right.

Remember, we rarely bring the guys at the top to justice. Think of the financial crisis. Think of Reagan and Iran-contra, about which Wikipedia tells us this:
Reagan professed ignorance of the plot, but admitted that he had supported the initial sale of arms to Iran, on the grounds that such sales were supposed to help secure the release of Americans being held hostage by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

... the resulting Tower Commission report found that the President was guilty of the scandal, only in that his lax control of his own staff resulted in the arms sales.... The failure of these scandals to have a lasting impact on Reagan's reputation led Representative Patricia Schroeder to dub him the "Teflon President".... Ten officials in the Reagan Administration were convicted, and others were forced to resign.
Think of Bridgegate, which certainly tarnished Chris Christie, but left him a free man.

Like Reagan, Trump can plausibly be portrayed as a simpleton (left-of-center version)/holy innocent (right-wing supporters' version) -- conservatives won't hold Trump accountable because they won't want to hold him accountable, any more than they wanted to hold Reagan accountable.

But this sort of thinking -- sum it up as "the fish stinks from everywhere but the head" -- applies even in the case of a guy like Christie, who clearly isn't stupid or out of touch (or suffering from dementia) and whose ignorance of wrongdoing on his watch seems highly implausible. Christie isn't being impeached because Democrats like their chances better in the next gubernatorial election with a weakened Christie in office rather than his untainted lieutenant governor; Republicans, not wanting the shame of an impeachment, just want to turn the page.

That's what could to happen to Trump if Russiagate closes in on Trump. He'll want to hang on; his base will believe he's blameless; Democrats might prefer a weakened Trump to a President Pence; and D.C. Republicans will just want it all to go away. So a lot of people might settle on "Trump didn't know," as if that exonerates him.

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