Yesterday at 1:38am ·
“RussiaGate” has become a catastrophic failure of leadership—and a debacle from which the Trump presidency will not recover
—“Trump is a suicide vest strapped around the body of the Republican Party”—-
By Douglas A. Blackmon
A little more than a week ago, I said on CNN and wrote here that—based on reporting I’d just completed in Washington D.C.—it was clear that the controversy surrounding Russian contacts with advisors to President Donald J. Trump and his campaign team was about to become much more serious, much more directly focused on the president himself, and have deeply troubling consequences for our democracy.
The revelations of the past seven days have confirmed all that, and will be remembered as the point when an extraordinary but perhaps still manageable political embarrassment for the Trump administration mushroomed into the most serious controversy to engulf a presidency since Watergate.
Based on what we know already, and new revelations that will soon illuminate more key events in this sequence, our country faces a dramatic constitutional exigency. This crisis now is directly about the President himself, and one for which he now bears complete responsibility. Bluntly stated, it has become a catastrophic failure of conduct and leadership—and a debacle from which the Trump presidency will not recover.
What I couldn’t say last week was that, earlier the same day, I spent more than four hours conducting Sally Yates’ first media interview since being fired by President Trump as acting U.S. Attorney General. With me in the interview was The New Yorker magazine’s White House correspondent, Ryan Lizza, whose profile of Yates will appear on Monday, May 22. (I have known Yates for more than 25 years. To read a profile I wrote of her in February, look here: http://slate.me/2l1ROhR)
During our interview, and subsequent conversations in the following days, Yates never disclosed any classified details of the ongoing investigation or specific new bombshells. But by the end of that long series of questions, answers and clarifications, important contours of the scandal—the boundaries of what is known or not known and the enormous scale of the stakes involved—became much more clear to me. Combined with that and other reporting, it became apparent that the Trump-Russia scandal was far more serious than understood when the first revelations of the investigation occurred, and since then have only grown more ominous. These observations are my own, based on my interviews with Yates, national security experts, and other people close to these events, as well as close reading of congressional testimony, publicly available documents, and disclosures by trusted fellow journalists.
To understand why this is so serious, it’s important first to realize what is truly important to the inquiry—and escape some of the distractions of the past six months. Why Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in November, or exactly how Russian interests attempted to disrupt and influence our electoral process is important, but ultimately not what matters most. Whether former Trump campaign officials and advisors failed to disclose past business dealings with interests in Ukraine, Russia and Turkey is a question that will be answered, but not a defining one. That President Trump and his family have had past business dealings or allegedly engaged in personal hijinks in Russia is hardly important at all.
No, this is an investigation about one thing: the now undeniable fact that a Russian espionage conspiracy accomplished an objective that has never previously occurred in American history—compromising the highest levels of U.S. government, penetrating the White House, establishing influence and leverage over the president’s National Security Advisor, and planting false information with the Vice-President of the United States—who then unwittingly repeated those fictions to the American people.
Read the rest at the link above. Please share.