Wednesday, April 5, 2017

RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA (to be said in a tone similar to Jan Brady feeling trapped in her sister Marcia's shadow)

Let's get the obvious underway.  If you asked me back at the end of January if the administration of electoral vote winner Donald Trump and co electoral vote winner Mike Pence would be haunted by an overarching spector of Russia and whether the two were in collusion to fix the outcome of the 2016 election, I actually would've been a little doubtful. 

Yet, over 75 days into Trump's regime (his words - why the hell does he say that rather than his term?, but I digress) any talk of what Trump and company almost seems to be secondary to the spectrer of the rumors of possible collusion between Trump surrogates and Russia.  What started out with revelations of surrogates speaking with Russia (most notably Gen. Michael Flynn, who was Trump's national Security advisor for three weeks until news of his meetings cost him the job) seems to have taken on a life of its own with tentacles that go where few expect, almost to the point where once we almost understand one thing another pops up.

Let's look at the most recent example.  first, Devin Nunes, Republican congressman and head of the House Intelligence Committee.   Within the past few weeks, Nunes has seemed to do all he can to shut down any hearings on the matter.  Between a couple week period where he briefed the Trump administration on information before the Committee first to learning he was on the White House grounds the night before he went to give Donnie the scoop on info the Committee didn't even have, there was enough to wonder why he refused to recuse himself, if not wonder how the hell he could keep his job on said committee.  Then it became news that his information came came several officials in the White House (including one who's firing was personally stopped by the electoral vote winner himself) were the ones who gave Nunes the information he then briefed Trump on.  While the information itself may be preliminary, this sort of circular pattern definitely doesn't give the impression of any transparency.  While the Democrats in Congress are (in this case, rightly) alarmed, Nunes' fellow Repubs are almost blase here with several even claiming that he works for Trump, not the American people.  While we don't know what the information was, it is obvious that every day that Devin Nunes doesn't either recuse himself or resign from the House Intelligence Committee is a day that keeps us from finding out what the hell is going on.

Then, there's this week's big shocker - and it involves family of one of his cabinet picks.  News broke on Monday that the founder of paramilitary contractor Blackwater (now Xe) Erik Prince had set up a secret meeting in the Seychelles for  a back channel between the Trump administration and Russia.  While there's a lot of conjecture over what this entailed, the fact that Prince not only advised Trump but was close to several key people in the administration, including Steve Bannon, and that Prince's sister is Betsy DeVos, Trump's education secretary, and what we have so far can be problematic at least.  Between meetings of Trump officials past and present (including his son in law Jared Kushner) with the Russian Ambassador and the fact this meeting itself happened, it does little to quash any conjecture regarding election collusion or other things that may be considered untowards in political circles.  Was it to discuss Iran (as the Washington Post suggests)?  Does it have to do with financial issues either between Alpha Bank or the U.S. medical chain Spectrum (as was mentioned by Cenk Uygyr of the Young Turks)?  Could it be both?  Determining what exactly happened back in January there is still up in the air.  However, it's emergence manages to slightly push the news about Devin Nunes back yet does nothing in regards to taking people's minds off of Russia. As for the family connection, given that our new education secretary Betsy DeVos is Prince's sister, does anyone think that might have been part of the deal?  Time will tell.

So what now?  Given that what leaks seems to burst out the pipe fast and furious what we hear next can be anyone's guess.  However, given that many people thought Russia wouldn't be news by news, the fact that it still lingers in the newssphere means that there's something the administration isn't telling us.  It may be fairly innocuous, but since they refuse to come clea with it the possible cover ups keep this in our minds and the fallout may be far worse than if they just fessed up, apologized, and tried to move on.