Regarding that ongoing saga known as the Trump-Russian collusion delusion, a second thought pops out when reading a timeline of events gleaned from a variety of sources. Thursday, I outlined the ineptitude of various actors- the DNC, John Podesta, the spook wanna-be figures in the Trump campaign and, sadly, even the FBI. Today, this writer looks at something else that stands out after reading the timeline of events to date. Simply, the main characters in this saga are all sleaze bags or insignificant campaign underlings who appear to be padding a resume, or seeking to position themselves for some reward.
Let’s start with Carter Page who we know started with Merrill Lynch and was in their Moscow office. According to reports, although Page described himself as working with Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, he was actually an insignificant nobody. In 2008 he forms Global Energy Capital, an investment fund, that as of 2016 no one knows of any project they have worked on. It took him three attempts to get his PhD as his dissertation was twice rejected for being amateur. In 1998, he joined the Eurasia group where he is ultimately dismissed (i.e, fired).
In January 2013, he met Victor Podobnyy at an energy conference in New York and provided him with research material largely aggregated from the public domain. The Russian is later arrested for failing to register as a foreign agent. In fact, Podobnyy was a suspected Russian spy attempting to recruit Page. This is the gist of his interaction with the Russians- providing readily available material- yet by August 2013 he is touting himself as an adviser to the Kremlin on energy matters.
At some point, Page joins the Trump campaign probably after touting his previous “experience.” In June, 2016 at a closed door meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, he extols the virtues of Putin’s Russia. Page runs about talking of his expertise he is lending to the Trump campaign. He even meets with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, at the RNC convention in Cleveland. However, by August 2016, the Trump campaign is distancing themselves from Carter Page after his pro-Russian stances are made known. He is described as an unofficial adviser who “does not speak for the campaign.” Meanwhile, Page is making trips to Moscow- although the campaign specifies he does so as a private citizen, not for the campaign. And even though he officially leaves the campaign in October 2016, as late as December 8, 2016 he is back in Russia meeting with Putin allies and Andrei Baranov, the head of Rosneft.
In short, Page is an insignificant nobody with very few real accomplishments on his resume. In fact, he actually lies about his resume. As bad as Page is, George Papadopolous is even worse. Somehow, he ingratiates himself to the Trump campaign foreign policy team. Describing himself as an energy and Middle East expert, no one seems to know who or what the guy did to, at the tender age of 28, attain the status of being in an “expert” in anything. We know he came over from the Ben Carson campaign. Yet, he runs about Europe meeting with college professors who have ties to Russian officials. Apparently, the whole purpose of his European travails is to set up a meeting between either Trump or campaign surrogates and Russian officials or Putin. Whatever the motivation, he is a singular failure as other than his documented meetings with some Russians and those of Carter Page, no meeting ever takes place.
Roger Stone is perhaps, given his documented correspondence with WikiLeaks, the sleaziest of the lot, although he was not with the campaign at the time of said contacts. In short, he was a private citizen who supported Trump working with WikiLeaks. Whether there was coordination between Stone, WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign remains to be seen. However, coordinating information with WikiLeaks, or “spinning a story,” is not a crime to be best of this writer’s knowledge. Regardless, there is one Twitter message from WikiLeaks indicating Stone may have been a recruitment coup for them- the “hey…get us Trump’s tax returns so we look like we’re non-partisan” message. Yeah…right!!
Next, there is Paul Manafort who was brought in by the Trump campaign to help with the delegate process at the convention. This happens in late March, 2016 as it appears Trump is headed for the nomination and he is suggested by Stone. He had previously lobbied on behalf of the pro-Putin Ukrainian regime eventually ousted, and Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch associated with Putin. However, that relationship ended in 2009, but by April 2016, Manafort emails Deripaska asking if he is watching the campaign. Clearly, Manafort has embraced Putin-love and he becomes a booster of the efforts of Papadopolous.
It is clear from Manafort’s past that he has nefarious ties to the Kremlin vis-a-vis his work in the Ukraine. In fact, Manafort apparently enriches himself while in that former role and engages in a money laundering scheme for which he is later indicted. Great! A financial crime, but collusion or conspiracy? Yeah- not so much.
With regards to the data mining firm that some have suggested may be the key to the whole collusion delusion- Cambridge Analytica- on their Board of Directors is none other than Steve Bannon. In fact, it was Bannon who suggested the firm be used. It is largely owned by Robert Mercer, a known conservative donor, who became a financial supporter of Trump.
In all, whether misreading the muddled foreign policy messaging coming from Trump himself, or in an attempt to simply pad a resume, ingratiate oneself to the Trump campaign, or to enrich oneself, it becomes painfully obvious that these people were motivated by self-interest. Of course, this does not say much about Trump and his selection of people with which he surrounded himself. Whether Stone, Lewandowski, Manafort or even Page and Papadopolous, these were people with an agenda of helping themselves more than anything else.