Tom Nichol’s extended tweet thread of responses to Jonathan Chait’s article on Trump the Russian asset comes out as a piece in Politico.
Beginning with Jonathan Chait’s original article and the various responses, Nichols’ piece is one of a wide range of responses including a concerted antisemitic troll-bot effort.
If you haven’t read Chait’s piece it is worth the time if you haven’t picked up the timeline elsewhere.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) July 9, 2018
Unfortunately, our infallible POTUS who apparently never apologizes will never cop to the Russian realities or his numerous faults beyond his non-Russian appetites of getting hit with a rolled-up Forbes and sex with teenage girls.
…neither Chait’s narrative nor his conclusions (with some exceptions) strike me as unreasonable.
These facts, from the depth of Trump’s financial dealings to the personal connections of some of his top advisers and campaign staff to the Putin regime, are (or should be) undeniable. It is impossible to see the total picture and reach the conclusion that there is an innocent explanation behind it all. There’s simply too much to explain away.
In plowing through this history, three things should be kept in mind.
- First, the amount of contact Chait illustrates between Trump World and the Russians is simply staggering. Even by the standards of international business, this is an astonishing amount of interaction that involves not just Trump’s financial interests, but vertically deep ties that extend down into his family.
- Second, too many Americans do not understand that Russia’s oligarchs, millionaires, business leaders, state officials, and intelligence operatives are all part of the same ecosystem. It is not possible to shake hands with just one arm of this octopus without being enveloped by the others. If Trump was in deep with the Russian criminal and financial worlds, the Russian intelligence services knew it, and so did Russia’s top spook, Putin. Trump must know this as well.
- Third, Chait’s readers should not be looking for silver bullets that either doom or exonerate Trump. Rather, they should follow the argument about a pattern of interaction that would raise the suspicions of even the most amateur intelligence analyst. Chait does not assert that Trump is a foreign agent, instead calling him an “asset.” I am not sure I agree, at least not as an “asset” in the sense of someone who is knowingly trying to help the Russians, with their explicit guidance, against the United States.
Instead, what Chait presents, without having to get too far out on a ledge about agents or assets, is a plausible case that a U.S. president is compromised by a foreign power that has damaging information about him.
Apparently, when I wrote an evaluation of Chait’s piece (expert opinion and all) I was supposed to just affirm that it was all crazy talk. It’s not. Out on a limb in places, yes. But also a clear summation of 30 years of Trump’s Russia connections.https://t.co/vFN9AenaC3
Ã¢ÂÂ Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 11, 2018
I do not know how much pressure the President is under from the Russians. Neither does Chait. Neither do Trump’s defenders. We may never get the full story, unless it is revealed to us by Robert Mueller or found in a future tranche of declassified documents.
But there is no way to read Chait’s story—or to do any judicious review of Donald Trump’s dealings with the Russians over years—and reach any other conclusion but that the Kremlin has damaging and deeply compromising knowledge about the president. Whether they are using such materials, and how, is a matter of legitimate argument. That such things exist, however, and that they seem to be preoccupying the president, should be obvious.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 11, 2018
This is quite a substantial, though still measured, piece by @jonathanchait. It’s the best summary and assessment of publicly known facts regarding the nature of President Trump’s relationship with Moscow so far. Sometimes things simply are what they seem. https://t.co/Xf9Gj7oKcR
Ã¢ÂÂ Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) July 9, 2018
Donald TrumpÃ¢ÂÂs campaign manager IS IN JAIL.
5 members of his campaign have PLEAD GUILTY to charges brought by the Mueller probe.
And the media is acting like itÃ¢ÂÂs perfectly normal that this obviously guilty man is going to NAME HIS OWN JUDGE.
WAKE THE FUCK UP.
Ã¢ÂÂ Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) July 10, 2018
Following the President’s attacks on NATO his way to Brussels, the Senate voted 97-2 on a motion to re-endorse NATO and support it’s mission. https://t.co/Tv93gzXIlt
Ã¢ÂÂ MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 11, 2018