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Russia: My Take So Far

Not that my opinion really matters, since I’m no more informed than anybody else who reads the news, but if I were placing bets here’s where I’d place them.

I also encourage people genuinely interested in the story to follow Josh Marshall’s ongoing writing about it [1]. He’s doing actual research, not just quoting anonymous leakers, and he’s not flying off the handle. On the contrary, he recently laid out an outline [2] of what the innocent explanation of what we know so far would look like. And it’s pretty convincing, with the caveat that there is undoubtedly more that we don’t know. My own suspicion is that the “more” that we don’t know is mostly about dirty money rather than anything directly related to interference in the election.

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25 Comments To "Russia: My Take So Far"

#1 Comment By collin On March 3, 2017 @ 1:36 pm

Yes, long term I suspect Marshall’s analysis will be one of the historical sources for this ‘scandal’ although I still believes this likely ends with the release of the sex/piss tape.

The primary lesson of 2016 for HRC campaign, it was the daily grind of the scandal not the crime that led to her defeat. Anyway:
1) The problem with Jeff Sessions was he was suppose to be the competent one of the Trump administration. The rest of crew (Manafort, Carter ad Cohn) are expect to be F-ups here. Carter Page interview completely supported the smoke of the scandal.
2) Think of 2018 & 2020 of replacing e-mails with tax returns.
3) Realize this administration is a bunch of sieves that knife each other in the back to look better while most of the US Deep State bureaucrasy dislikes their treatment by the administration. This is not No Drama Obama second term here.

#2 Comment By Howard On March 3, 2017 @ 1:37 pm

None of the people who are making the claims (on either or any side) or producing the purported evidence are above lying, as has been demonstrated in the past. In the end, we will not actually know what happened; people will choose to believe whatever they want. Even the most incensed allegations, though, go scarcely beyond what we sometimes praise as “investigative journalism”, and they fall far, far short of hacking into voting machines — though a normal person paying only partial attention might suspect otherwise. In fact, attempts by members of the British parliament last spring to ban Trump from the UK are a more substantial meddling with our politics.

This is not about reason, though, but about emotion; it is not about truth, but rather politics.

#3 Comment By ADC Wonk On March 3, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

Beginning of Sept, Obama discusses sanctions against Russia with Putin at G20. Putin’s not happy.

A few days later, some folks (including Sessions) meet with the Russian ambassador.

Starting that day, and the next, Trump, Sessions, and a number of folks on the Trump team talk up a “new relationship” with Russia.

Some observers start to wonder why Putin hasn’t retaliated against our sanctions.

A few days later, DNC hacked emails get released.

The above is all facts.

The question is: are they related? Are there dots to connect? (HRC was certainly convicted — in the minds of the GOP — for a lot less). Just an amazing “coincidence” of timing?

I dunno. A thorough investigation might help us sort it out.

And might help sort out the below.

Business Insider notes:

A dossier with unverified claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia contained allegations that Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state oil company, offered former Trump ally Carter Page and his associates the brokerage of a 19% stake in the company in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia.

The dossier says the offer was made in July, when Page was in Moscow

In early December 2016, Russia’s Rosneft sold a 19.5 percent stake in the company to foreign buyers, officially a “50/50 joint venture between Qatar and the Swiss oil trading firm Glencore”. But a Reuters investigation showed that “the ownership structure of the stake ultimately includes a Cayman Islands company whose beneficial owners cannot be traced”

So, Russia had just sold off a big chunk of its oil company “crown jewel” to mystery buyers.

As it happens former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page was back in Moscow on December 8th, just one day after the Rosneft 19.5% selloff deal was first reported. Russian media outlets covered Page’s meeting with top Rosneft officials on December 12th, 2016 and quoted him as stating, “I had the opportunity to meet with some of the top managers of the company Rosneft”

I dunno. But there’s an awful lot of smoke here.

#4 Comment By Ken Hoop On March 3, 2017 @ 2:52 pm

Your opinion certainly doesn’t matter as much as that of Julian Assange and he says you’re wrong.

#5 Comment By The Other Sands On March 3, 2017 @ 4:08 pm

“It’s clear that the Trump campaign was eager to talk to the Russians about their hopes for a better working relationship with Russia. I would assume, therefore, that in their discussions ideas about removing sanctions, recognizing Russian claims to Crimea, or similar matters were floated. It would be weird if they weren’t.”

If it is no biggie, then just come forward and talk about it. Lay out every detail. Say “these were the meetings, and they were above board, and we’re not ashamed of it.” Instead they’ve been dissembling about their connection to Russia for four months or more. Why?

“Among other things, it’s just a weird idea for a conspiracy, with limited upside and huge potential downside.”

Actually, during the campaign the assumption was that Clinton was a large favorite and Trump a novelty candidate. So at that time, there was huge upside for Trump (the Presidency) and limited downside (if it fails, you just lose like everyone expected anyway.)

#6 Comment By cka2nd On March 3, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

I’ll check out Marshall’s work but Hoop raises a key point, Noah, the fact that Assange and Wikileaks deny that Russia was the source of the DNC e-mails. What do you say to that, Noah, and if you can summarize it briefly enough, what does Marshall say about it?

#7 Comment By ADC Wonk On March 3, 2017 @ 5:59 pm

And now, today, we read that JD Gordon, after denials, now admits that he had a hand in the RNC softening a proposal about Ukraine for the GOP plank.

And that officials connected with Trump have been meeting with Russian government officials since March 2016.

(Recall that Trump repeatedly denied that anyone connected to him met with Russians during the campaign).

So, the question everybody’s asking: why have there been so many lies about this? What are, or were, people trying to hide?

#8 Comment By Robert Levine On March 3, 2017 @ 6:15 pm

Worth noting that Josh Marshall himself is somewhat skeptical of his “innocent” explanation, if I’m reading him correctly.

#9 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 3, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

Great, Millman, you’re no more for democracy than any of the other conspiracy nutters: “I’d bet that Russia was indeed behind the hacks that they are accused of perpetrating” even though you admit that you know from nothing other than being yet another victim of the manufacture of public opinion by a bunch of Soros losers.


#10 Comment By The Other Sands On March 3, 2017 @ 7:39 pm

“…but Hoop raises a key point, Noah, the fact that Assange and Wikileaks deny that Russia was the source of the DNC e-mails”

LOL. If you think that Julian Assange won’t look you straight in the face and say exactly whatever happens to serve him on any given day, then there is no help for you.

#11 Comment By Lee On March 4, 2017 @ 1:01 am

Opinions are like ___, and I’ve got one too. Having grown up in an era when people at least pretended to objectively present the news, comprehending the larger players make the tabloids and comedians seem like more rationally authentic resources. Just saying, I comprehend this is a different age…

So Russia and Trump, put a chink in the shadow NeoCon and globalist paradigm…that’s all this empty domino noise is really about. Least the USSR press, never demonized the Americans to the extent that the US Free Press did in manipulating public opinion as to Communist intensions. Something one doesn’t learn to perceive, excepting happening to sit with a group of Russian students who grew up during the cold war era. They were truly embarrassed by the exercise of researching what American media had to say about them vs. what ever the USSR state controlled media had to say about US.

If I were a betting man. The hack came from the same folks that put the Bilderberg Group on notice that the Globalist ruse is over…game over…by seizing control of their website and spelling it out.

Beyond that, selection manipulation is as American as Apple pie…it’s been part of the game for hundreds of years. I can remember watching the Iraqi’s and their “blue fingers” along with UN observers while casting ballots. We really could have used the UN for the past umpteen selections right here…in the age of technology it’s quite a bit difficult to keep any secrets.

#12 Comment By public interest lawyer On March 4, 2017 @ 12:17 pm

My take so far is that a lot of crummy people are screaming at each other over not much.

#13 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 4, 2017 @ 12:44 pm

“Your opinion certainly doesn’t matter as much as that of Julian Assange and he says you’re wrong.”

I see no reason not to take Mr. Assange at his word.

It’s an odd day when the prosecutors run from a confession.

#14 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 4, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

We can speculate and postulate all we want re: the nature and motives of the Trump campaign and the actions of the current Administration. Of course, the concern (for any sane, rational American) is the nature and motives of the Russians, and as noted elsewhere, how ANY contact/communication can compromise US interests. It is nothing short of audacious, to accept the current administration came to power, and seeks to reinforce this power by identifying and vilifying any number “enemies” and threats to the United States (judges, Mexicans, Muslims, the press, and SNL; and seeks to address these threats by building walls, increasing DoD spending, denying certain media outlets access to press briefings, and of course, “Tweeting”, and yet, perhaps America’s greatest geo-political antagonist gets a “get out a jail free card”? I used this example on a previous thread. There is no question, it would be better to have a good collaborative relationship with Russia, but Russia has to want the same. It reminds me of the scene in the Godfather II. Frank Pentangeli says (to Michael Coreleone); Your father did business with Hyman Roth, but he never TRUSTED Hyman Roth. Speaking of trust, was in not Ronald Reagan, who when discussing arms reduction (and by proxy, America’s relationship with the U.S.S.R.), “trust, but verify.”? Until the current Administration comes clean about its ties to Russia, the American people cannot and should not trust the 45th POTUS.

#15 Comment By beejeez On March 4, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

Oh, so it’s just about dirty money, then! No probs!

#16 Comment By connecticut farmer On March 5, 2017 @ 11:25 am

At this time it is not known for sure the extent to which Russia involved itself in the 2016 campaign–if at all. If they did it wouldn’t be the first time a foreign government involved itself in an American election (cf. the 1940 Presidential campaign), nor for that matter are America’s hands clean on that front (c.f.Iran-1953, Chile-1973).

On the other hand–here playing the devil’s advocate and at the risk of sounding like the wiseguy in the back of the classroom– why WOULDN’T Russia (the second greatest nuclear power on earth) have an interest in who will be president of the greatest nuclear power on earth? Particularly when one of the candidates demonstrated a pronounced hostility towards them. What we might call “interference in the affairs of a sovereign country” Putin might call “enlightened self-interest.”

#17 Comment By Frip On March 5, 2017 @ 6:01 pm

Public Interest Lawyer: “My take so far is that a lot of crummy people are screaming at each other over not much.”

Funny. Agree

#18 Comment By foreign objects On March 5, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

“What we might call “interference in the affairs of a sovereign country” Putin might call “enlightened self-interest.””

Come to that, what if we were talking about Netanyahu instead of Putin? Who the FBI says spies on us at the same level as Putin? Who intrudes on both our elections and policy-making process with far more devastating and costly effects?

#19 Comment By David Havelka On March 5, 2017 @ 8:19 pm

It might be interesting to discuss how the US government is constantly interfering in the elections of other countries. Including financing and supporting supposedly “dissident” opposition to Putin’s party in Russia.

Of course, how many of us remember how Bill Clinton was getting money from some shady characters with connections to mainland Chinese government. Chinagate they called it back then, I believe. And of course, Clinton bypassed public opinion and the congress and awarded Most Favored Nation Status to China. Which of course, opened the door to massive outsourcing of jobs by our CEO classes, and a flood of cheap Chinese junk to Walmart stores.

Was there a conspiracy that should have overturned Clinton? You bet! But nothing happened because the Corporate press didn’t push it constantly, and it dropped out of sight as an issue.

So I guess it is not unbelievable that Russia would have an interest in electing Trump, since Trump was going against the Globalists on a host of issues like Trade, as well as a reset with Russia.

But I really doubt the Russians did the hacking, ’cause Assange says no. And there was a lot of opposition within the Democrat Party to the Clinton globalist/warmongering policies. It just as possible could have been an inside job within the DNC.

#20 Comment By Michael Kaiser On March 5, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

“On the other hand, ‘I assume,’ based on a wide array of circumstantial evidence, that Trump personally has a number of extremely shady business associations with a Russian flavor to them.”

This is such a reckless statement also so lacking in foundational integrity that if the American Conservative has any journalistic ethics it will no longer allow Noah Millman to publish as a featured commentator on this site.

#21 Comment By Gerald Arcuri On March 5, 2017 @ 11:56 pm

As a society, we no longer posess either the will or the skill to get to the bottom of whatever it is the Russians are alleged to have done most recently. That they have always been “up to” something or other is axiomatic. They are pragmatists, and Vladimir Putin is a competent, ruthless thug. We have become intellectually flaccid, amoral technocrats, wallowing in self-deception. This is becoming farce on a gigantic scale. It will not end well, nor in our favor.

#22 Comment By Bob K. On March 6, 2017 @ 12:47 am

I received notice that my subscription to this publication has expired.

It is requested that I send the magazine $60.00 for 6 semi-monthly issues part of which will go to pay money to a Senior Editor who writes gossip columns like this in the magazine’s blog.

I am thinking hard about it and whether it is worth it.

#23 Comment By Prof. Woland On March 6, 2017 @ 4:45 pm

You’re one of the reasons I keep coming back to this site.

Nice thinking Noah.

#24 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 8, 2017 @ 4:01 pm

But as you yourself state it’s speculation. I have no doubt that everyone doing big or medium size business in Russia hasn’t had to cut deals with some less than above board entities.

Whether that would translate into some political leverage via one’s personal or business finances is questionable.

Mr Trump was doing major real estate deals when the “mob” or “mafia” was running major businesses in every part of the city of New York and New Jersey. I think it is a safe bet that if you didn’t make some accommodation, you’d have trouble and I don’t man getting “hit.”

I doubt that Russian government wants to expose themselves as in bed with Russia’s less than legal financial dealings and the dangers associated with it.

I am not approving of shady deals. But I am granting that other parts of the world, business gets done in ways we might find of objectionable, but for them it is just the way it gets done. In which case there’s no leverage. After all the exposure is a two way street.

#25 Comment By IranMan On March 11, 2017 @ 7:09 pm

@Fran Macadam, no, Sad!

Spot on!