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Tommy Carcetti

Tommy Carcetti's Journal
Tommy Carcetti's Journal
February 13, 2018

The most mind-blowing thing about the Trump-Russia collusion was how blatantly obvious it was...

...as it was occurring.

Timothy Snyder is an internationally renown award winning Professor of History at Yale University, and the author of such books as Bloodlands and On Tyranny.

In his column "Trump's Putin Fantasy", Snyder wrote:

It is not hard to see why Trump might choose Putin as his fantasy friend. Putin is the real world version of the person Trump pretends to be on television. Trump’s financial success (such as it is) has been as a New York real estate speculator, a world of private deal-making that can seem rough and tough—until you compare it to the Russia of the 1990s that ultimately produced the Putin regime. Trump presents himself as the maker of a financial empire who is willing to break all the rules, whereas that is what Putin in fact is. Thus far Trump can only verbally abuse his opponents at rallies, whereas Putin’s opponents are assassinated. Thus far Trump can only have his campaign manager rough up journalists he doesn’t like. In Russia some of the best journalists are in fact murdered.

President Putin, who is an intelligent and penetrating judge of men, especially men with masculinity issues, has quickly drawn the correct conclusion. In the past he has done well for himself by recruiting among politicians who exhibit greater vanity than decency, such as Silvio Berlusconi and Gerhard Schröder. The premise of Russian foreign policy to the West is that the rule of law is one big joke; the practice of Russian foreign policy is to find prominent people in the West who agree. Moscow has found such people throughout Europe; until the rise of Trump the idea of an American who would volunteer to be a Kremlin client would have seemed unlikely. Trump represents an unprecedented standard of American servility, and should therefore be cultivated as a future Russian client.


Let us imagine the first few weeks of a Trump administration. Most of his domestic agenda will quickly prove illegal, or at least very complicated to implement. He is not a man who has displayed much patience for management. It seems very likely that he would quickly turn abroad for that surge of approval that he seems to find so pleasurable. And there would be no easier way to gain such a feeling than currying favor with Putin. It is so much easier to ignore traditional allies than to cultivate them, and so much easier to ignore aggression than to maintain order. The louche style that Trump seems likely to bring to American foreign policy is all he will need to garner praise from the man he admires. Given what Trump has done thus far, under no stress and with little encouragement, it is terrifying to contemplate what he would do as a frustrated American president looking for love.


What's most astonishing about Synder's column is its date. It was published April 19, 2016, before Donald Trump was even officially the Republican nominee, let alone the American President.

It was an extraordinary prescient and perceptive piece, and it even picks up on Trump's choice of the now infamous--but then little known--Carter Page as a campaign foreign policy advisor:

More extraordinary still, Trump has indicated, in his selection last month of Carter Page as a foreign policy adviser, that American policy to Europe will be guided by Russian interests. Page, heretofore known as an adviser to Russia’s state gas company, has been among the prominent Americans spreading Russian propaganda about Ukraine’s revolution in 2014 and the Russian invasion that followed. In his writings he has questioned Ukraine’s status as an independent state, which is precisely the line that Moscow took to justify its invasion. He maintains—preposterously—that Ukraine is like Quebec inside a Russia that is like Canada. Quebec is a province and Ukraine is a country. He has referred to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a signal violation of international law, as the “so-called annexation.”

Snyder also managed to point out numerous Russian individuals who were working to curry a relationship between Trump and Russia, including Konstantin Rykov, who would later go on to brag just days after the election that he was the architect behind a massive Russian led social media information campaign--complete with Cambridge Analytica gathered data--to get Donald Trump elected.

But you don't have to be an award-winning historian to have seen all of this unfold in real time. All you needed to have had were eyes that were open enough to see that Trump was brazenly and openly making overtures to the Russian government that were far, far beyond the pale of normal.

It was all done in the open, without any sort of apology.

And yet now in retrospect, Trump and his supporters are seeking to gaslight the nation, claiming that what we thought we saw back then we never saw at all. They have sought to frame the Russia story as a "nothing burger", "fake news" and to repeatedly insist time after time after time that there was "no collusion". They want us all to think that the Trump-Russia story was nothing more than a fever dream concocted sometime after November 8, 2016 by bitter Democrats and liberals in denial of their electoral loss.

And meanwhile, people like Timothy Synder or even Hillary Clinton herself are cast into the role of modern-day Cassandras, people speaking doomful prophecies that were destined to become true, even though no one wanted to believe them at the time.

But it was all going on before our very eyes in the weeks, months and even years before the election. Donald Trump had an active and engaged symbiotic relationship with the Russian government, one that each side was using to forward its own interests. This was not a secret, and many of us watched in horror as it unfolded in real time to the passive disinterest of the American people.

And now history is repeating itself once again, as just as we watched Trump collude with Russia in plain sight, we are now watching Trump attempting to obstruct justice into the investigation of such collusion in plain sight. And far, far too many people are likewise taking that for granted.

We can't afford to be gaslighted once again. The collusion is real. The obstruction is real. And none of this should ever, ever be considered normal.

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