Trump/Russia is the worst political scandal in the history of the United States. This is a summary of who is involved.
Donald Trump and his associates inside and outside his campaign conspired with Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence, and Russian organized crime to steal the election.
For his efforts, Putin was to receive a blind eye toward his conquest of Crimea, a weakened NATO, the lifting of sanctions against his oligarchs—and, apparently, veto power over key appointments.
Trump and his family would get the aid of Russian hackers in turning the election, as well as other financial to-be-determined considerations, probably debt forgiveness. In addition, kompromat gathered on him during his trip to Moscow in 2013 would not be deployed.
The quid pro quo between Trump and Putin did not emerge out of thin air. A number of intermediaries were utilized during the period of negotiations that began in earnest when Kremlin asset Paul Manafort joined the campaign in March, 2016, and remain on-going to this day.
The Trump negotiation team consisted of: Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner, the president’s son and son-in-law; Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen; then-Senator Jeff Sessions; Mike Flynn and Mike Flynn, Jr.; George Papadapoulos and Carter Page; Blackwater founder Erik Prince; JD Gordon, Sam Clovis, and KT McFarland; Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates; and Indiana governor and transition chair Mike Pence.
Basically, anyone who met with, and failed to disclose, meetings with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak was part of the team.
Russian cyber operatives 1) hacked the DNC and RNC servers; 2) weaponized American social media in key swing states especially; 3) released hacked information at key moments during campaign. They did this in coordination with Trump’s people.
The Trumpist tech team included: Kushner, who helmed the Trump campaign’s social media operation; Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer, each part-owners of Cambridge Analytica; web guru Brad Parscale; Roger Stone, who coordinated with Guccifer 2.0; Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, who has been a Russian asset since at least the Edward Snowden affair; and various FSB-affiliated hackers (e.g., the “13 Russians“).
Trump was not the only beneficiary of the deal with Putin. His Cabinet is honeycombed with wealthy men and women who gained from dealings with Putin and the oligarchs, or who stood to profit from the lifting of sanctions and/or Trump’s tax policies. Wilbur Ross and Rex Tillerson are the most obvious names here, along with hostile takeover specialist and inside trader Carl Icahn.
This group includes those who became aware of Trump/Russia and actively sought to cover it up, whether by making knowingly false media statements, failing to report illicit activity to the FBI, or otherwise abetting the initial crimes.
In Trump’s circle, this includes: Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, White White counsel Donald McGahn, Ivanka Trump, Stephen Miller, Seb Gorka, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sam Nunberg, and Kellyanne Conway.
The “True Pundit Hoax” that forced then-FBI director James Comey to release his notorious memo on Hilary Clinton’s emails, which turned the election, was perpetuated by, among others: Donald Trump, Jr.; former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; Erik Prince; Steve Bannon; an anonymous figure known as Thomas Paine; pundit Jeanine Pirro; and Julian Assange.
Members of Congress and other politicians who obstructed justice by attempting to derail the various Russia investigations despite knowledge of the truth include: Devin Nunes, Jason Chaffetz, Dana Rohrabacher, Trey Gowdy, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, Matt Gaetz, Ron DeSantis, Steve King, and current CIA director Mike Pompeo.
Media personalities who actively disseminate(d) false or misleading stories include: Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Jeanine Pirro, Gregg Jarrett, Alan Dershowitz, Julian Assange, Lara Trump, Mike Cernovich, the Fox & Friends crew, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal; Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Alex Jones.
Prominent Americans who, wittingly or not, parrot Putinist talking points: Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein; Glenn Greenwald and the other Russia skeptics at The Intercept; purists like Susan Sarandon and Cornel West; fallen Democrat Donna Brazile; Maggie Haberman and other slipshod reporters at the New York Times; and plenty of well-intentioned people.
This is the scandal of our lifetimes. All of us made mistakes and erred in our judgment. All of us were played.
The key is not to double down on those mistakes, but to learn from them, quickly; to pursue justice no matter what (Dems will ultimately be changed, too, I’m sure); and to save the Republic from Trumpism.