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Jesus?  I hardly knew the man.

April 13, 2017

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Have Trump and his disciples finally found religion?  Have they been studying the words of Saint Peter, who the day before the crucifixion, to avoid a similar personal outcome, denied knowing Jesus?  With certainty, even Peter knew that guilt by association was powerfully incriminating.  So it is that Trump and his surrogates cannot run away fast enough from the substance of their associations with players like Carter Page and Paul Manafort.

Apparently they have all conspired to agree that these characters from the real “House of Cards” had minimal contact with Trump and little to no effect on campaign strategy, management or policy, before or after the election, yet Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager and is reputed to have been the driving force behind softening the GOP campaign plank towards Russia. Carter Page, for his contribution, was the first person named by Trump to his foreign advisory team.

And now, the de-facto SNL Potus, Steve Bannon, has fallen from grace and no longer carries the weight of being Trump’s chief strategist, but is just “one of the guys.”  Truth is that Trump can’t fire him without losing the support of the radical right, the wave of votes Bannon rode in on, so he’ll be kept around, in the room, just not seated “at the table.” Expect the distance will be ever increasing.  Trump knows a liability when he sees one.  I’ll give him that.  It’s just a solution like bankruptcy.  End the bleeding and create a rebirth for the company.  Make the investors take the hit.  That is the one true Trump strategy.  His business record bears that out.

But in all this drama, there may actually be some degree of truth, a very real alternative fact not being discussed.  Think about this.  Trump never expected to win.  He has admitted this in several interviews since the election.  So working with that premise, let’s take an alternate look at the actions of Manafort and Page.  If Trump had not planned on winning, then Manafort, Page and anybody else for that matter could have been dispatched to Russia or involved with Russian proxies on what they all believed was simply “business.”  What business you say?  Doesn’t matter. It’s simply the business of making money in a developing market.  Until we see Trump’s taxes we shall never know, but we also need to know if Trump and Tillerson and Manafort are the holders of the shares of Rosneft stock that were purchased prior to the election.

Manafort is first in line to take the hit, regardless, because he actively campaigned to affect GOP policy towards Russia, but even this may not have been breaking any laws.  It may just be that the whole Trump candidacy was designed to affect his business objectives in Russia. These are some pretty blurry lines, but I can see how they might claim that they were not acting as foreign agents.  If Manafort regarded himself as simply a businessman doing business, then there would be no need to register, but now that Trump has won, he fully realizes that he should have registered. That he never did may have something to do with the fact that he didn’t see this possibility coming and therefore not a conflict in the making.  Only recently in the last few days did he register as a foreign agent. CYA, Paul Manafort, CYA.

As to Page, well it appears that Trump did not need a real foreign affairs advisor, just the appearance of having one, a requirement of a bonafide candidacy.  After all if you never expected to win, what did it matter?  So it’s possible that there may be a large element of truth in all that Page has to say about his role orbiting Trump.  Meanwhile Trump will continue to say, “Jesus, I hardly knew the man.”

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