by Matthew Walther
After months of getting themselves worked up about hearings featuring a hero once accused of rigging the election for Donald Trump and Don Jr.’s inability to sniff out Nigerian prince emails, spectators of the Russia game have finally gotten what they wanted: indictments.
Unfortunately, the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates have nothing whatever to do with “collusion,” however broadly defined. Politically speaking, we have learned nothing except what we already knew: namely, that a shady businessman who briefly worked for the Trump campaign is, in fact, a very shady businessman indeed, one who has just pled not guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent on behalf of the Ukrainian puppet government and not declaring all of his income derived from his essentially pro-Kremlin lobbying.
Dot connectors will, of course, continue to connect dots. It could be that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is hoping to secure testimony from Manafort or Gates that will give him the dirt he needs to bring more appropriate charges. It could be that he already has that information and is just waiting for goodness knows what occasion. At the very least, obsessives will say, the hiring of Manafort indicates — these comments almost write themselves — a very serious lack of judgment on Trump’s part. You don’t say? The man whose idea of a feel-good national unity speech following an act of domestic terrorism was to suggest a degree of moral equivalence between the KKK and its opponents has horrible instincts, often fails to think things through, is a bad judge of character, etc.? Gosh.
Even George Papadopoulos’ guilty plea is no smoking gun. The former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign admits that he lied about email exchanges with a shadowy figure known as “the professor” who had promised Russian “dirt” on Clinton. But as far as we can tell, his communications with Dr. Dirt went nowhere. Papadopoulos also made vague references in his emails to “meetings” with Russian officials that probably did not end up taking place, which seems important only if you ignore the fact that presidential candidates, especially after securing their parties’ nominations, routinely meet with foreign leaders, even heads of state.
SOURCE: The Week