Anything but normal by @BloggersRUs

Anything but normal

by Tom Sullivan

New Yorker's David Remnick summarizes the blockbuster indictments issued Friday by the Justice Department:

The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has now charged thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian organizations with meddling in the election. Rod Rosenstein, Trump’s Deputy Attorney General, told reporters on Friday that the people and entities charged intended “to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy.” The indictment focusses on the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, which, beginning in 2014, allegedly carried out an expensive and intricate influence operation concentrated on highly contested battleground states, including Florida, Virginia, and Colorado. Some of the defendants, it said, posed as Americans and communicated with “unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”
The 37-page indictment lays out in extensive detail how these thirteen and the three organizations went about setting American against American and tilting the field against Hillary Clinton to benefit Donald Trump. The disinformation operations began in 2014, the indictment states, as an attempt "to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016." Only later did the Russians opportunistically focus on helping Trump and hurting Clinton.

The level of detail in the document strongly suggests Mueller's team is fully prepared to prove its allegations in court. The quality of the intelligence revealed in it suggests there is much more to come. Mueller's move throws cold water on Trump's repeated assertions that the Russia investigation is a "total hoax," a "joke," a "ruse," "fake news," or a "political witch hunt." Documenting the Russian conspiracy in such detail also makes it more difficult for Trump to fire Rosenstein. Not that he won't anyway.

Rosenstein took care to remind the press that there is "no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity." Nor that the alleged conduct altered the outcome of the election. This indictment. This illegal activity. We have yet to see indictments for the DNC hacking or possible money laundering.

To which now-president Donald Trump responded in a tweet:

"This is not normal" has become a mantra of the anti-Trump #Resistance. Trump's tweet yesterday reinforced that yet again. There was no normal presidential response to documented evidence of a criminal conspiracy by a foreign power to undermine American democratic processes. Instead, Trump's response echoed that of a cartoon character, "I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, there's no way you can prove anything!"

A normal president would express outrage. A normal president would impose sanctions. A normal president would insist the U.S. Department of Justice press on and unwind the conspiracy. But our sitting president is anything but normal. "Putin attacked America. And yet no pushback whatsoever. Why?" Michael McFaul, U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, wrote in response to Trump's tweet.

Members of the National Security Council have an unspoken agreement not to raise the Russia matter with the president. He does not treat Russian election meddling as his duty to address, but considers mentioning it a personal affront. The Washington Post reminds readers that Trump prefers to believe denials of interference made by Russian president Vladimir Putin:

“He said he didn’t meddle,” the president told reporters. “. . . Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”
The Post's Editorial Board responds:
The grand jury’s indictment shows how far Russia is willing to go to manipulate and discredit our democracy. Mr. Trump’s own intelligence chiefs warned this week that the 2018 election is under threat. Given the baffling and inexcusable absence of presidential leadership, Congress must step up to defend the nation.
The man who swore an oath before the world that he would will not. He's too obsessed with himself to expend the energy.

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