NEW YORK — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s plea agreement with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is searchable by key word. I checked to see if it contains any language relevant to the alleged Trump/Russia collusion controversy or, for that matter, anything related to America’s often-hostile relationship with the Soviet Union and its antecedent and successor, Russia.
By my inspection, Manafort’s plea deal — filed September 14 in federal district court in Washington, D.C. — includes none of the following words or phrases:
Donald J. Trump
Back in the USSR
This tape will self-destruct in five seconds
The word “CONTROL” does appear, but not in the context of the fictional American clandestine service portrayed in Mel Brooks’ classic TV series Get Smart. Instead, the pleading says: “The defendant agrees to furnish to the Government all documents… in the defendant’s possession or control...”
Also “2016” emerges just once, specifically a reference to the 2016 Sentencing Guidelines Manual.
Manafort’s plea pact is just the latest official communication to show no evidence of Trump/Russia collusion. So far, such substantiation has evaded even those desperate to prove that Trump and his alleged comrades in Moscow snatched the White House from the Duchess of Chappaqua, as if swiping a long-coveted tiara before her majesty could place it upon her royal noggin.
Legendary Washington Post staff writer Bob Woodward’s landmark investigative journalism with Carl Bernstein toppled President Richard Milhous Nixon. It also yielded two excellent books about the Watergate scandal that drove Nixon from office: All the President’s Men and The Final Days.
Woodward’s new volume, Fear, looks like his most recent attempt to dislodge a chief executive, this time by questioning Donald J. Trump’s state of mind — which bothered no one until the real-estate magnate/TV star ran for president. Many of Fear’s most damning quotes about Trump have been refuted by White House chief of staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and others who supposedly uttered them. Thus, Woodward should be quite eager to showcase 2018’s equivalent of the smoking-gun tape. This would give proof of Trump/Russia collusion and speed the president’s permanent banishment to Trump Tower.
For Woodward, no such luck.
In an interview last Friday, radio host Hugh Hewitt asked the veteran scribe, “Did you, Bob Woodward, hear anything in your research, in your interviews, that sounded like espionage or collusion?”
Woodward replied, “I did not, and of course, I looked for it, looked for it hard.”
Hewitt again asked, “But you’ve seen no collusion?”
Woodward reiterated: “I have not.”
At the end of their discussion, Hewitt restated his query:
“Very last question, Bob Woodward, I just want to confirm, at the end of two years of writing this book, this intensive effort, you saw no effort, you, personally, had no evidence of collusion or espionage by the president presented to you?”
Once again, Woodward said: “That is correct.”
Woodward’s dry hole looks an awful lot like those that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has drilled. Last February 16, he announced the grand-jury indictments of 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies for meddling in the 2016 election. As much as the Kremlin tried to bamboozle voters, Rosenstein said, “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.”
On July 13, Rosenstein unveiled a second case. “The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election,” Rosenstein told journalists. He added: “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime.” This should include citizen Trump and the hundreds of Americans on his campaign.
Obama knew about Russia’s involvement in America’s political system. But he did little more than tell Putin at a summit in China that September: “Cut it out.” That quaking sound must have been Putin shaking in his boots.
The official congressional inquiries also discovered zero proof of Trump/Russia collusion:
The House Intelligence Committee’s April 27, 2018 report found “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on July 3 concurred with the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment that “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” However, the Senate panel presented no authentication that Moscow conspired with Team Trump to rig the last general election.
Last November 5, CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – California), the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat and a Senate Intelligence Committee member. Tapper addressed alleged Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and asked Feinstein, “Have you seen any evidence that this dirt, these e-mails, were ever given to the Trump campaign?”
Feinstein replied: “Not so far.”
Tapper continued, “Have you seen any communications that suggested that the Trump campaign wanted them to release them through a different means because, obviously, they were ultimately released by WikiLeaks?”
“No,” Feinstein answered. “I have not.”
Maxine Waters may be the most openly anti-Trump member of Congress. She recently vowed to “take Trump out” and “get him” — presumably via impeachment.
She complained September 8 in Los Angeles that some Democrat leaders want her to tone it down: “They say, ‘Maxine, please don’t say impeachment anymore.’”
“And when they say that, I say, ‘Impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.’”
Waters told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on May 18, 2017, “I really do believe that much of what you saw coming out of Trump’s mouth was a play from Putin’s playbook.”
Huffington Post editor Sam Stein asked her, “But just to be clear, there has been no actual evidence yet?”
“No, it has not been,” Waters replied. “No it has not.”
The original FBI counterintelligence investigation (which disgraced former agent Peter Strzok launched on July 31, 2016) and Mueller’s inquisition (which Rosenstein commenced on May 17, 2017), have spent 25 and half months and found no verification of Trump/Russia collusion. Several people have been convicted for or pled guilty to lying to the FBI and committing various unrelated crimes — years before the White House was a twinkle in Trump’s eyes. Mueller nailed Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for evading taxes on income from his taxi-medallion business and not reporting a $30,000 profit from the sale of an Hermes Birkin handbag. Seriously. Mueller sought Putin and found a purse.
Meanwhile, Trump met Tuesday at the White House with Polish president Andrzej Duda. They told journalists that they discussed future shipments of American liquefied natural gas to Poland, Warsaw’s reinstated purchase of U.S. Patriot air-defense missiles (which Obama cancelled, to appease Moscow), and the possible opening of a U.S. military base in Poland — all next door to Russia. This should enrage Vladimir Putin. If the Russian tyrant truly is Trump’s puppeteer, he must wonder why his marionette has gone haywire.
With enough time, Mueller’s probe may reveal that Dimitri Trumpovich (the president’s long-concealed real name) and his masters in Moscow swiped Hillary’s birthright: The Oval Office. Perhaps. Until then, let’s hope Mueller stumbles across Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, or Noah’s Ark. It would be lovely if America’s taxpayers got something of value out of this interminable hunt for Reds in October 2016.