A List! I Must Have a List!

It’s in the interest of Trump’s critics to exaggerate the role of George Papadopoulos in the Trump “campaign.” It’s in the interest of Trump and his defenders to minimize the role of Papadopoulos in the “campaign.” But there never really was a Trump campaign in the conventional sense. Trump got up in the morning, flew to some rally or other, flew back, and slept in Manhattan. That pretty much was the campaign, except for the tweets and the widespread willy-nilly dissemination of the tweets and the interviews on TV.

Papadopoulos entered the picture only when Trump, like a Queen of Hearts, demanded from his hangers-on a List. I must have a List! Of Foreign Policy Advisers! To show to the failing New York Times and the rest of the MSM, who think I need a List!

Of course, the movers and shakers in the actual world of foreign policy were already making clear they wanted no part of Trump, so what was the “campaign” to do? What was Sam Clovis to do? Somehow, Clovis cobbled together a List of people who’d been out of the country or dreamed of being out of the country on important business. Papadopoulos, who was barely out of diapers professionally and was something of a self-promoter, like Trump himself and so many in Trump’s orbit, made the List.

Papadopoulos then commenced to doing whatever wheeling and dealing anyone would do with him to justify his inclusion on the List. Enter Boris and Natasha. And voila! The road to perdition.

I remain convinced that the Russia story that scares the bejesus out of Trump is a story of financial shenanigans and not whatever fire there is causing the current smoke.

The Trump “Campaign” and Papadopolous

What campaign? Trump never had a political campaign in the conventional sense, unless I’m missing something. Mostly, he got up in the morning in Manhattan, tweeted, watched some Fox, took his jet to some rally to juice his white-identity base, hustled back to his jet, flew back to Manhattan, watched some Fox, maybe tweeted, and went to bed.

During the “campaign,” reporters pressed Trump to provide the names of folks advising him on foreign policy. So he came up with a list in March of last year. A Politico story on the list carried the headline “Trump’s foreign policy team baffles GOP experts” and the subhead “Republicans can’t figure out the mogul’s quirky mix of advisers.”

George Papadopolous, who now has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is thought to have been wearing a wire recently to aid the Mueller investigation, was one of the names on the list. The Politico story described Papadopolous as “a 2009 college graduate and an international energy lawyer” who previously had advised Ben Carson’s campaign. The publication resorted to Papadopolous’s LinkedIn page to flesh out the rest of his thin résumé.

Given what we know now, all too well, about Trump’s Modus Operandi, it’s plausible at least that he ordered somebody to gin up a list of foreign policy advisors so he’d have something to hand out, that he knew little or nothing about Papadopolous, and that he considered the list a prop in his act rather than a serious document.

The questions I have at this point include (1) who put the list together, (2) how did this person know Papadopolous, (3) why was Papadopolous included on the list, and (4) what was the precise nature of Papadopolous’s involvement as a foreign policy advisor after his name appeared on the list, beyond what we already know?

On the question of who put the list together, we have this:

According to two knowledgeable Team Trump sources, the insurgent GOP campaign was scrambling to compile a legitimate list of foreign policy advisers to Trump in early 2016, when people in media and political circles kept pressuring the campaign to release one. [Sam] Clovis, then a top Trump policy adviser, slapped together a roster that Trump could read in an attempt to “at least shut up” the critics, according to one Trump campaign veteran.

— Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, and Sam Stein, The Rise of a Trump Adviser Who May Kill Trump’s Presidency, Daily Beast, November 1, 2017.

The Papadopoulis Plea

A professor with close ties to the Russian government told an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents unsealed Monday.

The adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about that conversation. The plea represents the most explicit evidence connecting the Trump campaign to the Russian government’s meddling in last year’s election.

New York Times, October 30, 2017.

“Russia” is Not a Partisan Issue

A Fox News op-ed headline today reads “Hillary Clinton and Democrats Lose the High Ground on Russia.” Let’s review: Hillary Clinton is not President. “Russia” is the question of the extent to which a foreign adversary, acting in secret, influenced the outcome of a national election, including the question of whether elements of the Trump campaign cooperated in the influence operation. This should not be a partisan issue.