I have to say, between the Roger Stone indictment all but pointing the finger at Trump for ordering Stone to work with WikiLeaks to get more DNC hacked emails, and the collapse of his leverage on the government shutdown this afternoon, Friday has basically topped off the Worst Week For Trump So Far™.
I'm not going to go as far as to say Trump is broken, he's not, but he just took two right crosses to the jaw, and he's wobbling on his feet. He's had an abysmal week, and it shows.
As far as the Roger Stone indictment and why it's important, we go back to two Washington Monthy pieces from November 2017, first, Martin Longman on WikiLeaks being a Russian intel clearing house.
But it’s the naked way that WikiLeaks was acting as a Kremlin front that I think is the most important news here. There’s an implied understanding in these messages between the two parties. There’s no sense of caution on the WikiLeaks end that they might be presumptuous about Donald Jr.’s willingness to push the Kremlin line or that Donald Sr. might be offended by the suggestion that he delegitimize the election for Russia’s benefit even though it would clearly hurt his own country. There’s a conspiracists’ bond between them as they discuss the desirability of throwing people off their scent by working together to leak damaging information in a preemptive way (the classic “limited hangout.”)
A limited hangout or partial hangout is, according to former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Victor Marchetti, “spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.”
Admittedly, there’s no direct admission in these communications that the leaked emails were obtained by Russian hackers, nor do they come right out and say that they’re discussing a Russian agenda. But, collectively, these messages are incredibly strong evidence of Wikileaks being a Russian front organization, or at least that they have been so strongly coopted that they might as well be run from Moscow.
The evidence of Russian hacking has been coming in from other sources, including George Papadopoulos, who was informed that Russia had obtained hacked material long before any of it was actually released. What remained a question was whether Wikileaks was a witting or unwitting participant in Russia’s game. In my opinion, these Twitter messages remove any doubt about that. Wikileaks was acting in a way that was completely indistinguishable from how a Russian intelligence agency would act. And they weren’t making any effort to disguise this from the Trump campaign.
This completes the case, in a sense, because it not only connects the dots between Russia and Wikileaks, but it makes clear that the Trump campaign knew how closely the two were working together. The only remaining defense relies on the stupidity and naivety of the Trump team, but they’ve been caught in so many lies now that it will be hard for them to be believed if they try to argue that they just didn’t know who they were dealing with.
The other piece is from Nancy LaTourneau on Stone and Assange's connection to Randy Credico...and Bernie Sanders.
It could be that Credico was like other extremist liberals who continue to support Wikileaks and are simply consumed with a rabid hatred of anyone named Clinton. But it is also worth keeping in mind something that was reported in the Steele dossier.
Unlike with Jill Stein, I see nothing that suggests that Bernie Sanders or anyone in his campaign knew about, much less condoned any of this. But it remains an open question whether Credico was simply one of those activists that the Russians hoped to target, or if his association with the likes of Roger Stone and Julian Assange—combined with what Steele uncovered—suggests a lot more than that.
The Stone indictment is absolute bad news for Trump, for certain.
What I'm afraid of though is that this becomes the point where Trump decides that if he's going to go down, he's taking America with him, and earlier this afternoon Secretary of State Mike Pompeo showed his cards on what Trump could do to throw the country and the world into chaos.
Elliott Abrams, a controversial neoconservative figure who was entangled in the Iran-Contra affair, has been named as a Trump administration special envoy overseeing policy toward Venezuela, which has been rocked by a leadership crisis.
Abrams’ appointment, announced Friday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is something of a surprise — President Donald Trump nixed his 2017 bid to be deputy secretary of state after learning that Abrams had criticized him.
Abrams will now be one of several special envoys Pompeo has brought on board to tackle thorny issues. He takes on his role at an unusually volatile time in U.S.-Venezuelan relations.
Earlier this week, Trump announced he no longer recognized the legitimacy of the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro and said the U.S. now considers opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s “Interim president.” But Maduro is refusing to leave power and has declared that Venezuela will cut off diplomatic ties with the United States.
“This crisis in Venezuela is deep and difficult and dangerous, and I can’t wait to get to work on it,” Abrams said in brief remarks to reporters.
Abrams, who served in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, is a well-known and somewhat controversial figure in U.S. foreign policy circles.
He has often expressed hawkish views and is fiercely pro-Israel, but he also has written and spoken eloquently about the need to support human rights around the world.
If there are two people who can get un into a shooting war in Venezuela, it's John Bolton's Mustache and Elliott Goddamn Abrams.
And they can absolutely do that.
Just a thought.