Tonight I learned there are two types of people who buy sweet corn at the supermarket—those who take it on faith that the corn is OK and don’t shuck it (or “peek-shuck it”) first, and those who completely shuck the corn to make sure it isn’t bad, before they buy it.
There were two committed “shuckers,” a man and his wife, methodically peeling off the corn husks at the local Giant Foods as I pushed my cart past them. They were engaged in a serious conversation, of which I caught only a fragment.
“If they had one or two meetings with the Russians, that would be one thing. But..” (and the man briefly paused here),” they had a hundred and forty meetings.”
I knew what they were talking about of course, but I had to go home and Google it because honestly I did not know the number. So I Googled the number “140” and “Trump.”
The first search result was from The New York Times, from January, 2019 before the report came out. It had been updated in April, 2019.
Donald J. Trump and 18 of his associates had at least 140 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition, according to a New York Times analysis.
The report of Robert S. Mueller III, released to the public on Thursday, revealed at least 30 more contacts beyond those previously known. However, the special counsel said, “the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”
Very few, if any, of these interactions were publicly known before Mr. Trump took office.
An organization called The Moscow Project came up with a higher figure as of information available by June 3, 2019:
A total of 272 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia-linked operatives have been identified, including at least 38 meetings. And we know that at least 33 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisers were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition, including Trump himself. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.
Whether the number is 140 contacts or 272 contacts, the fact that an American Presidential political campaign apparatus engaged in such an extensive effort to maintain its connection to a hostile foreign government throughout an election campaign is, quite simply, mind-boggling. Equally mind-boggling is the notion that three normally reliably Democratic states vote tallies all shifted in a strange unison to narrowly secure an electoral victory for the Republican. The three states whose polling data the Republican’s own campaign manager provided to the Russians, according to the Report of the Special Counsel specifically tasked with investigating the issue.
“Manfort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election,” including the campaign’s messaging and internal polling data, Mueller wrote.
“It also included discussion of ‘battleground’ states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.”
The idea that there was no conspiracy, coordination, or cooperation here is frankly preposterous. The idea that the evidence does not strongly imply that the Russians did not tilt the 2016 election to Trump by their efforts through their deliberate manipulation of social media and the internet is equally preposterous. To believe that necessitates a willful blindness to the obvious.
At least for one couple, quietly shucking corn in a Southeastern Pennsylvania supermarket.