Saturday, March 11, 2017

Trump Diaries Week Seven: 49 Days of Trump

49 Days of Trump

By Jack Random

Through six weeks of the Trump presidency the dominant issue, the ghost that haunts this White House like the first wife of an aging billionaire, the storm that never clears, is that of Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence machine. 

We are receiving updates on the many communications of the Trump administration-slash-campaign and Russian agents on a daily basis.  The early Times report of constant contact was spot on.  What we do not know is what was said in those communications.  We do know that a transcript exists of the communication that got former National Security Adviser and registered foreign agent Michael Flynn fired.  We do not know what Trump knows and when he knew it.  It stretches credulity however to believe that he did not know that son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in Trump Tower. 

This is the seventh installment of the Trump Diaries. 

March 3, 2017

Politico publishes a timeline of the relationship between the Russians and Team Trump before and after the election – see timeline below. [1] 

As more information emerges, we should understand that in today’s Russia there is no distinction between the government, the intelligence service and the business community.  They all answer to the strong man at the top. 

Trump people with the deepest ties to Russia include Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and former adviser Carter Page.  As the Exxon CEO Tillerson negotiated a multi-billion dollar deal for drilling rights in the Arctic – a deal that was put on hold by Obama sanctions.  Manafort is a consultant noted for his representation of dictators, including Russia’s puppet in Ukraine.  Ross is a billionaire banker implicated in laundering Russian money at the Bank of Cyprus.  Page lived in Moscow for three years and once partnered with Russian oil executive Sergei Yatsenko.

Members of the Trump team who are known to have had contacts with Russian agents during the campaign or after the election include:  Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Carter Page, campaign advisor J.D. Gordon, Manafort, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

What is clear at this juncture is that at least one person knows exactly what took place in the meetings between Russian agents and Trump surrogates and that person is Vladimir Putin.  If Trump takes an aggressive stand in an attempt to prove his innocence, Putin could take him down.  If Trump eases sanctions or takes other pro-Russia measures, the American people will know why.  It’s a bear trap and the president cannot break free. 

There are others who may have critical evidence.  We know that the Flynn-Kislyak conversation was recorded.  Were any other conversations recorded?  Then there’s the Christopher Steele dossier – a work that has forced the highly regarded former British intelligence officer into hiding.  The truth will out.  Whether it takes a day or a decade, it will out and it will not be kind to those who withheld the facts or participated in this treachery. 

March 4, 2017

Trump goes on a tweet attack, accusing his predecessor of wiretapping Trump Tower.  We can only guess how the man’s mind works:  How else would the media know about Kislyak’s meeting with Kushner?  There is another possibility:  That the FBI received a FISA warrant to listen in on Trump’s communications.  A warranted surveillance would mean that a federal judge was convinced that there was probable cause of a crime being committed. [3] A third possibility is that the Russians did the tapping in which case Russia has the goods.  A fourth possibility is that the whole thing is the product of paranoid minds courtesy of Breitbart News. 

The White House is running scared.  The president resembles a tortured Macbeth, imagining daggers in the dead of night. 

Trump supporters stage rallies across the nation.  Their numbers are decidedly underwhelming. 

March 5, 2017

Trump demands that congress investigate former President Obama’s abuse of power during the recent presidential election. 

A reportedly unhinged Trump raises the specters of McCarthyism and Nixon’s Watergate in a storm of tweets.  Trump’s reaction to the daily revelations regarding Russia can only fuel the fire which is now engulfing the nation’s capitol and spreading like a summer wildfire in all directions.  It seems he’s been reading from the Book of Rove – as in Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s mastermind.  Rove worked to perfection the art of deflecting blame.  The rules of Rove include:  Do not simply deny a story but proclaim the opposite to be true.  When accused of wrongdoing, accuse the accuser. 

When Rove worked his dark arts, however, he never used the president to deliver the message.  He always used expendable surrogates – like spokesman Sean Spicer or counselor Kellyanne Conway.  It is beneath the dignity of the office to accuse one’s predecessor of high crimes without compelling evidence.  That dog just might come back to bite. 

The FBI asks the Justice Department to refute Trump’s claim of wiretapping.  No response thus far from the recused Attorney General. 

North Korea fires four missiles into the Sea of Japan.  Coming on the heels of Kim Jong Nam’s assassination, it raises new questions regarding the mental stability of the North Korean dictator.  No response thus far from the White House. 

March 6, 2017

Trump finally releases his new and improved Muslim travel ban.  This one exempts Iraq, visa and green card holders, and eliminates special treatment for Christians.  The revision is an attempt to overcome legal challenges but the intent remains clear.  It doesn’t matter that the Department of Homeland Security undermined the rationale for the ban. [4] The president wants a Muslim ban and this is the best he can do.  He can’t stand the idea that any court can overrule his divine authority. 

March 7, 2017

The rollout of the Republican replacement for Obamacare is upstaged by the continuing uproar regarding the president’s accusations of wiretapping.  The draft bill provides huge tax breaks for the wealthy, implements an “age tax” that will harm older people and will most certainly result in millions losing medical insurance.  The American Association of Retired People (AARP) opposes the bill. [5] AARP is a powerful lobby composed of mostly old white people who consistently vote Republican.  Trump could not have become president without them. 

Think Progress reports that the president met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on April 27th of last year. [6] Despite Trump’s repeated claims to the contrary the meeting was noted at the time by the Wall Street Journal. 

The occasion was a foreign policy speech for an invitation-only gathering in which the presumptive Republican nominee called for better relations with Russia. 

Why these guys continue to think they can get away with denying the obvious truth despite all evidence to the contrary is beyond credulity.  It is becoming apparent that everyone who is or was anyone on the Trump team met with the Russian ambassador – including the president. 

March 8, 2017

WikiLeaks releases thousands of classified CIA documents, revealing extensive surveillance capabilities.  Bottom line:  If you’re connected to the world via phone, computer or television, the CIA can spy on you.  If you’re an influential person on the international scene, you are being monitored.  Watch your step. 

While it is fascinating to learn that the nation’s leading spy agency can observe you through your Samsung TV, this is not new ground.  If the agency tapped Trump Tower and pinned the blame on Obama, that would be compelling.  If Julian Assange makes a fortune shorting stock in Samsung, that too would be interesting. 

Christopher Steele, author of the Dirty Dossier (think Yellow Rain), emerges from hiding in London as elements of his report are confirmed by independent news sources.  Perhaps the most significant is an allegation of a quid pro quo regarding Russian sponsored WikiLeaks dumps in exchange for candidate Trump not raising intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue. [7]

Former ambassador, governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman accepts the position of ambassador to Russia.  My advice:  Watch your back. 

As demonstrators take to the streets for International Women’s Day, Trump takes to the tweet to remind us that he respects women big league.  “Believe me.” 

March 9, 2017

In an Oval Office meeting with rightwing groups – Tea Party Patriots, Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works – Trump reveals his contingency plan on healthcare reform:  Blame the Democrats. 

We can blame the Democrats for a lot of things, including allowing Trump to become president, but we can hardly blame them for a failed attempt at healthcare reform when the Republicans hold clear majorities in both houses of congress.  Take care of your own house, Mr. President, or face the consequences.  All the trump cards are in your hand yet you have all the signs of a losing player.  You’re running scared and looking for escape routes.  Stand up and take responsibility. 

Julian Assange implies from his refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London that the CIA inadvertently released its bag of hacking tools to bad actors on the open market.  He pledges to assist tech companies in defending their systems and devices from hacks. [8]

The mystery of Julian Assange grows.  The Russians used him as a conduit in its campaign to elect Donald Trump and now his CIA dump seems timed to distract us from the central story of this administration:  Team Trump and the Russians.  I’d like to hear less of Assange and more of Christopher Steele. 

It is ironic that Donald Trump has chosen Mar-a-Lago as his home away from the White House.  More and more he resembles the mad king alone in his tower, surrounded by sycophants and servants, afraid to inform him that he has no clothes.  His circle of trusted advisors shrinks by the day – some stripped of access and others banned by their misdeeds.  His presidency has only begun but he looks like Nixon in the final hours, clutching Kissinger’s hand and praying to a god he never believed in. 

The ghosts of his sordid past surround him and the walls to begin to close.  He tries to escape by running to Mar-a-Lago but the nightmares return and the ghosts will not let him sleep in peace. 

“Is this a dagger which I see before me?” [9]

Trump entered the White House on an irrational high, a sense of invincibility surrounding him.  No one could stop him.  No on could tell him he was wrong.  Now, only seven weeks into his reign, he curses the day he decided to run for the nation’s highest office.  Now reality begins to seep in:  This cannot end well. 



AUGUST 2011:  Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson signs major deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft to drill in the Arctic Sea.  In 2013 Putin awards Tillerson an Order of Friendship. 
NOVEMBER 9, 2013:  Trump holds Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. 
SEPTEMBER 2015:  FBI reveals Russians hacked the DNC. 
NOVEMBER 10:  Trump claims to know Vladimir Putin “very well” at the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee. 
DECEMBER 10:  General Michael Flynn attends Russia Today’s tenth anniversary dinner in Moscow, seated two chairs down from Putin. 
DECEMBER 17:  Putin praises Trump at a news conference.  Trump returns the favor. 
MARCH 19, 2016:  Russians hack Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s email account. 
MARCH 21:  Trump names Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisors. 
MARCH 28:  Trump hires Paul Manafort, a former advisor to Russian puppet and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.  In April, Manafort is promoted to campaign manager. 
APRIL 27:  Trump calls for better relations with Russia.  Seated in the front row at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. is Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.  Trump meets with Kislyak and three other ambassadors before his address. 
JUNE 15:  Documents stolen from the DNC are posted online. 
JULY 7:  Carter Page delivers harsh criticism of US and European policies in Moscow. 
JULY 18-23:  Three Trump advisers, including Carter Page and J.D. Gordon, meet with Ambassador Kislyak in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention. 
JULY 18:  The RNC adopts a platform with an amended policy that does not call for providing arms to independent Ukraine. 
JULY 20:  Then Senator Jeff Sessions meets with a group of ambassadors including Kislyak at the Republican convention. 
JULY 22:  WikiLeaks posts emails stolen from the DNC, forcing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign two days later. 
JULY 26:  Intelligence officials report with “high confidence” that Russia is behind the DNC hack. 
JULY 27:  Trump calls on Russia to expose Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. 
JULY 31:  Trump defends Russia’s annexation of Crimea. 
AUGUST 14:  A New York Times report suggests Manafort is receiving large sums of money from Russian agents. 
AUGUST 17:  Trump names Kellyanne Conway campaign manager and Steve Bannon chief executive of his campaign. 
AUGUST 19:  Manafort resigns. 
SEPTEMBER 8:  Sessions meets with Kislyak in his office at the US Senate. 
SEPTEMBER 26:  Carter Page withdraws from the Trump campaign as Trump continues to doubt that Russia was behind the DNC hack:  “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?”  
OCTOBER 4:  Founder Julian Assange announces that WikiLeaks will release new information every week for the next ten weeks.  Three days later, hours after the infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” video becomes public, they make their first info dump. 

Hoping to curry favor from the next president, it appears Assange joined Team Trump. 

OCTOBER 9:  At the second presidential debate Trump asserts:  “I know nothing about Russia… I don’t deal there.  I have no businesses there.  I have no loans from Russia.” 

Release your taxes, Donald, and we’ll judge for ourselves. 

OCTOBER 31:  The FBI reports it has found “no clear link” to Russia in the hacking scandal. 

Director Comey strikes a new blow for Team Trump and in the process destroys whatever was left of his credibility. 

NOVEMBER 8:  Trump elected.  The Russian Parliament celebrates. 
DECEMBER: Jared Kushner and General Flynn meet with Kislyak in Trump Tower. 
DECEMBER 8:  Carter Page is spotted in Moscow. 
DECEMBER 15:  Putin writes Trump to suggest a new era in Russian-American relations. 
DECEMBER 26:  Former KGB agent Oleg Erovinkin, suspected of aiding Christopher Steele with the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, is found dead in Moscow. 
DECEMBER 29:  President Obama orders the expulsion of 35 Russian operatives, closes two spy stations and imposes sanctions on Russian intelligence services.  Soon to be National Security Advisor Michael Flynn engages in a series of phone calls with the Russian ambassador. 
DECEMBER 30:  Putin announces he will not retaliate. 
JANUARY 6, 2017:  The US intelligence community releases its conclusion that Russia interfered in the election with the purpose of denigrating Hillary Clinton and, if possible, electing Donald Trump.  Trump calls the whole Russian business “a political witch hunt.” 
JANUARY 10:  Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee:  “I did not have communications with the Russians.” 
JANUARY 10:  BuzzFeed releases the Trump-Russia dossier compiled by former British intelligence analyst Christopher Steele.  The implication is that Trump’s people colluded with Russian intelligence and that Russian possessed compromising information with which the new president could be influenced.  Trump is incensed and goes on a twitter rant:  I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NOTHING! 

Release your financial records, Donald, including your tax returns, and let us decide whether you represent America or a hostile foreign power. 

JANUARY 13:  Trump tells the Wall Street Journal he is open to lifting sanctions on Russia. 

Of course you are, Donald.  Who wouldn’t be open to lifting sanctions after repeated briefings that Russia deliberately interfered in our election with the intent of altering the outcome? 

JANUARY 17-20:  Outgoing President Obama takes extraordinary measures to assure that intelligence documenting the Trump-Russia connection is not purged by his successor. [2]
JANUARY 26:  Acting Attorney General Sally Yates briefs White House Counsel Don McGahn on Flynn’s recorded conversation with Kislyak. 
FEBRUARY 8:  Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General. 
FEBRUARY 9:  The Washington Post reveals that Flynn did talk sanctions with Kislyak. 
FEBRUARY 13:  Flynn resigns. 
FEBRUARY 14:  The New York Times reports that Team Trump had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence agents in 2016. 
FEBRUARY 16:  Trump calls the story “fake news” and coins a phrase:  The Russian Ruse. 
MARCH 1:  The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Sessions met with Kislyak on two occasions during the campaign. 
MARCH 2:  Sessions recuses himself from any investigation involving the campaign. 

Not good enough, Sessions.  First, if recusal were sufficient, you would need to recuse yourself from all Russia-Trump investigations during the campaign and the presidency.  Second, you need to resign immediately in lieu of prosecution for perjury. 


1. “The definitive Trump-Russia timeline of events” by Matthew Nussbaum.  Politico, March 3, 2017. 

2.  “Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking” by Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt.  New York Times, March 1, 2017. 

3.  “Trump’s Wiretapping Claim Based on Warrants Granted to FBI” by David Z. Morris.  Fortune Magazine, March 4, 2017. 

4.  “DHS report casts doubt on need for travel ban” by Matt Zapotosky.  Washington Post, February 24, 2017. 

5.  “AARP hates Trumpcare – good thing GOP doesn’t need old people or anything” by Drew Salisbury.  March 8, 2017. 

6.  “Trump personally met with Russian ambassador during campaign” by Judd Legum.  Think Progress, March 7, 2017. 

7.  “The Steele Dossier Is Increasingly Being Corroborated” by Nancy LeTourneau.  Washington Monthly, March 8, 2017. 

8.  “Assange:  CIA letting files leak a ‘historic act of devastating incompetence” by Joe Uchill.  The Hill, March 9, 2017. 

9.  Macbeth, Act II, Scene 1.  William Shakespeare.