Video: Russian Officials Publicly Threaten to Release Blackmail on Trump

It seems like Russian President Vladimir Putin may be deciding that popular vote loser Donald Trump is more trouble than he’s worth after he failed to lift US sanctions against Russia multiple times.
Russian officials are speaking out against Trump, mocking him, taunting, and talking about releasing information that could finish off Trump’s struggling presidency.
A Russian debate took place on Russian state-run television where several Russian officials discussed various political issues. One of which was was Nikita Isaev, the Director of the Russian Institute of Contemporary Economics.
He said, “Let’s hit Trump with our Kompromat!”, (Note: in Russian, this means “compromising material”, is damaging information about a politician or other public figure used to create negative publicity, for blackmail, or for ensuring loyalty).
This certainly looks like a reference to the infamous Pee Pee Tape or, at the very least, some type of other blackmail material the Kremlin is holding over Trump’s head.
The host asked, “Do we have it?” Isaev responded “Of course we have it!”
You can watch the hour-long Russian-language video can be watched here.

Nikita Isaev’s call for the release of Kompromat. The interested part here is that someone in Isaev’s position wouldn’t have said something like this on Kremlin-controlled TV unless Vladimir Putin gave him permission to say it.


U.N. Official Shocked at Poverty In Rural Alabama

A United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world.

Mueller And Friends Should Be 'Locked Up' Says Fox Host

Mueller And Friends Should Be 'Locked Up' Says Fox Host

A Fox News host has suggested the FBI and Department of Justice should undergo a “cleansing” that would see Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a number of other staff “locked up.” Jeanine Pirro commented on Saturday night that there was corruption in the departments that necessitated investigation – blaming Mueller, former FBI director James Comey and…

Congress Spinning It's Wheels On Health Care

Congress ostensibly moved a little bit closer to wrapping up its end-of-year to-do list yesterday but has made no progress toward resolving the myriad health care issues on that list.
  • Both chambers have now passed a two-week spending bill, keeping the government open until Dec. 22, when we'll have to do this all again — for real. House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement he was "glad" the House had acted to "fund the Children's Health Insurance Program."
  • Reality check: The stopgap bill makes it easier for states to tap existing, leftover CHIP funding. It does not authorize new federal funding for the program. A slew of states will start running out of money early next year, and the pot of money they're able to draw from now won't last very far into 2018.
  • The goal is still to pass a larger CHIP funding extension with the longer spending bill, but there's no agreement yet on the substance of that extension.
  • Ryan has promised conservatives that none of these spending bills will include a restoration of the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing payments, according to Politico.
  • That's one of the policies Sen. Susan Collins had insisted on, and her other ACA-related demand — another, larger set of payments to insurance companies — would be even harder to pass in the House.
  • Collins told a local TV station she would consider voting against the final tax bill if she's not happy with it, though the interview only covers her efforts to avert an automatic cut in Medicare payments — not the ACA-related provisions.
  • Senate Republican leaders could afford to lose Collins' vote, as long as no one else follows her and Alabama's Senate seat is still in GOP hands whenever a final bill comes to the floor.
The bottom line: The rest of this month is going to be a roller coaster.


Right Wing Media Wants Us To Believe Trump Has Loose Dentures

WATCH: Trump's Dentures Just Tried To Escape From His Mouth During His Israel Speech

On Wednesday, Donald Trump announced that the United States will now officially recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and he announced plans to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city in the near future. At the end of the speech, the 71-year-old former reality show star started slurring…

Florida's Democrats Speak Out about Michael Flynn's Plea Deal

Florida Democrats believe Friday’s news that the plea deal negotiated by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn points to bigger problems for President Donald Trump and his closest advisers. Several weighed in after the story broke.
“Flynn’s guilty plea is another significant step in making the case that there was collusion with the Russians,” declared Sen. Bill Nelson.
Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief, said the news tells her the Trump administration thinks it is above the law.

“As a 27-year law enforcement officer, it is deeply offensive to me that this administration has repeatedly hidden behind cries of ‘law and order’ while breaking the law themselves,” she stated in a release.
“Every American should be disturbed that the Trump administration considers themselves above the law,” she continued. “Before now, the question was whether this went all the way to the top. President Trump and his inner circle will have a sleepless night.”
Alcee Hastings of Miramar called Flynn’s deal “the latest step in uncovering the degree to which the Trump administration colluded with the Russian government.”
“Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has admitted to contacting the Russian Government, under instruction from President Trump’s transition team, and then lying about it to the FBI. Even though today’s guilty plea was not unexpected, it is still an outrageous and shameful admission of purposefully misleading the American people.”
Ted Deutch of Boca Raton said Flynn’s guilty plea only raises more questions about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“As I have repeatedly said, Special Counsel [RobertMueller must be allowed to continue his work unobstructed by the White House, and the House Judiciary Committee must independently examine any possible obstruction of justice,” Deutch said.
Darren Soto of Orlando said, “Flynn has dodged this investigation from the start, so this perjury charge is not surprising. The information he may reveal could be, though.”


Trump says he feels 'very badly' for Flynn, points finger at Clinton

US President Donald Trump said Monday he "feels badly" for his former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI, and lamented that his former rival Hillary Clinton "lied many times" and nothing happened.

An Old Tweet Returns To Bite Sarah Sanders In The Ass

An Old Tweet Returns To Haunt Sarah Sanders

Twitterati has a long memory when it comes to controversial tweets. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders found this out the hard way when one of her old tweets, which spoke ill of those critical of the FBI, was dug up and retweeted by social media users Sunday. The tweet was written last November — just…

Protecting Yourself from skimmers at the Pump

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Protecting Yourself at the Pump

Many Floridians travel to see friends and family during the holiday season, and the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that about 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is by personal vehicle. It's imperative to take precautions against scammers aiming to profit off holiday travel.
Card skimmers are small, electronic devices that capture information from the magnetic strip on credit or debit cards when swiped during a transaction. Over 900 of these skimmers have been found on gas pumps in Florida since March 2015, and individual skimmers have been found to hold as many as 100 credit card numbers. These devices were commonly attached to card readers on the outside of the pump, but some criminals now install skimmers inside the pump and use Bluetooth technology to transmit card and pin information. These devices are undetectable unless the pump is opened for maintenance or inspection.
Here are a few tips that will reduce your risk of encountering skimmers at the pump:
  • Pay inside with either cash or a credit card.
  • Use a pre-paid cash card to pay for your gas at the pump.
  • Do not use a pump that looks as though it has been tampered with.
  • Use the pumps closest to the front of the station, as scammers usually place skimmers in pumps furthest out of sight.
  • Monitor your credit and bank accounts regularly for unauthorized activity.
If you identify unauthorized activity on your accounts, contact your bank or credit card company, file a report with local authorities, and consider placing a credit freeze or fraud alert on your accounts.


Will Donald Trump and Fox News Get on Their Knees and Apologize to Jose Ines Garcia Zarate

Claudia Cowan reports from San Francisco.

Immigrant acquitted in shooting of Kate Steinle

A Mexican national was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges Thursday in the fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle, a Bay Area woman whose slaying in 2015 became a flashpoint in the national debate over people in the U.S. illegally and the role of local police in enforcing federal immigration laws.

First Copy of Jesus’ Writings to His Brother/Cousin Discovered

*Editors note, my 20 years of study of The Nag Hammadi Library  shows James Is Jesus's Cousin by blood and husband to Mary Magdalene- Ron Mills 

For the first time, scholars have found a copy of the original Greek manuscript describing what Jesus secretly taught his brother James. Biblical scholars at the University of Texas at Austin discovered the manuscript in the Nag Hammadi Library at Oxford University, where it may have been a tool teachers used to help students learn to…

Trump Still Believes 'Birther' Obama Conspiracy


President Donald Trump still believes that former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate may be fake, The New York Times reported Tuesday. A senator told the publication that Trump has still not moved on from the conspiracy theory with which he launched his political career.

GOP Strategist: Sarah Sanders Spews Trump 'Horse Shit'

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GOP Strategist: Sarah Sanders Spews Trump 'Horse Shit'

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a "serial congenital liar" who buries the American people "in an avalanche of horse shit" and must know in her soul that what she's doing is wrong, a GOP strategist and media consultant said Monday night.

Roy Moore Alters Story About Accusers

Roy Moore Alters Story About Accusers

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama made his first public appearance in almost two weeks on Monday night, and he used it to change his account about a series of accusations of sexual contact with teenage girls and to compare the rush of claims against him to the Trump-Russia investigation. In the past three…

Is Donald Trump Lying about his part in the release of UCLA basketball players from China Jail

Chinese Professor Just Explained How Trump Is Lying About Saving Three Americans

President Donald Trump attempted to call out LaVar Ball’s lack of gratitude when he supposedly saved his son from being incarcerated in a Chinese prison. Calling him “ungrateful”, President Trump had time to step away from his presidential duties because LaVar wasn’t appreciative enough.
Unfortunately, President Trump may be trying to make this a bigger deal than what it really is. According to a Hong Kong University law professor, shoplifting is a relatively minor charge, and it does not carry the kind of jail time that Trump may think it does. According to professor Fu Hualing, he would be “surprised if they were even prosecuted.” A shoplifting charge in China is relatively minor, with foreigners typically being deported and not put in jail. So it makes sense how LaVar might’ve been more realistic in his appreciation since it wasn’t a charge that required interception by the president.
On Monday, November 6, Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball, and Jalen Hill were arrested after they stole sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store in Hangzhou, China. After being arrested, the three surrendered their passports and were released on a $2200 bail, but were forced to stay in their hotel. This demand was made by the team and not by Chinese authorities.
On November 11, the team left to go back to the United States. The three shoplifters stayed behind with Doug Erickson, director of the basketball administration. The next day, President Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at one point during his 12 day trip to Asia. Apparently, Trump said that he discussed the arrests of the three players with Jinping, with the players finally being eligible to go back to the United States just a couple of days later. Charges were withdrawn by this point, and the bail money was refunded. The players returned on November 14.
On November 15, President Trump publicly asks if the UCLA basketball players will thank him, saying that they were “headed for 10 years in jail!” The two players thanked him and apologized for their actions. The three players were subsequently suspended from the team indefinitely.
If Donald Trump actually met the president of China during his 12-day rendezvous is up to speculation – but the truth of the matter is that the situation was blown out of proportion


Secret Origins of Thanksgiving

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Fray Sahagun ( Bernardino de Sahagún ) a Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer who participated in the Catholic evangelization of colonial New Spain (now Mexico) describes a “Feast of Thanksgiving” practiced by the natives (particularly travelers).
In book 9 of 12 he refers to a group of traveling merchants known as the Pochtecas, (followers of Quetzalcoatl, who they worshipped under the patron name Yiacatecuhtli or Yacateuctli, Lord of the Vanguard). These traveling merchants are recorded celebrating their safe arrival from a successful business trip by having a “Thanks Giving Feast;”
“A feast and ceremony of thanksgiving were organized by the returning merchants, also on a day of favorable aspect. There was a prelude to the ceremony of eating mushrooms in which they sacrificed a quail and offered incense to the four directions. They made offerings of flowers and fragrant herbs to the gods in various temples. The eating of mushrooms took place in the earlier part of the evening, and the mushroom eaters did not at least then eat food. At midnight a feast followed, and toward dawn the various offerings to the gods, or the remains of them, were ceremonially buried.”
“At the very first, mushrooms had been served. They ate them at the time when the shell trumpets were blown. They ate no more food; they only drank chocolate during the night, and they ate the mushrooms with honey. But some, while still in command of their senses, entered and sat there by the house on their seats; they danced no more, but only sat there nodding. One saw in vision that already he would die, and then continued weeping, one saw that he would die in battle; one saw in vision that he would be eaten by wild beasts; one saw in vision that he would take captives in war; one saw in vision that he would be rich, wealthy; one saw in vision that he would buy slaves, he would be a slave owner; one saw in vision that he would commit adultery, he would be struck by stones, he would be stone; one saw in vision that he would steal, he would also be stone and saw in vision that his head would be crushed by stones-they would condemn him; one saw in vision that he would perish in the water; one saw in vision that he would live in peace, and tranquility, until he died; one saw in vision that he would fall from a roof top, and he would fall to his death; however many things were to befall one, he then saw all in vision: even that he would be drowned. And when the effects of the mushrooms had left them they consulted among themselves and told one another what they had seen in vision. And they saw in vision, what would befall those who had eaten no mushrooms, and what they went about doing. Some were perhaps thieves, some perhaps committed adultery. Howsoever many things there were all were told-that one would take captives, one would become a seasoned warrior, a leader of youths, one would die in battle, become rich, buy slaves, provide banquets, ceremonially bathe slaves, commit adultery, be strangled, perish in water, drown. Whatsoever was to befall one, they then saw all in vision. Perhaps he would go to his death in Anauac.” (Florentine Codex, Dibble & Anderson, Bk 9 pp.38-39)
It is unclear whether this account inspired the Thanksgiving (as we know it today), however it is certain that such practices were quite common in the “New World”, especially prior to the arrival of the new settlers!



Higher premiums would cancel out some people's tax cuts

Data: The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios
The Senate's proposed tax overhaul would repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate permanently, and provide individual tax cuts temporarily.
Once those tax cuts expire, just about everyone on the individual insurance market will face higher health insurance costs without a tax cut to help pay for it. And even in the short term, some people's tax cuts would effectively be erased by the higher premiums they'd face without the individual mandate.
Threat level: As my colleague Caitlin Owens reports this morning, based on an analysis from the Commonwealth Fund, the biggest burden here would fall on people who buy insurance on their own, but don't get subsidies to help cover their premiums.
  • Those subsidies help insulate low-income consumers from premium hikes, but the people who don't get them will be on the hook for all of the added costs that come with repealing the individual mandate — and that would eat up a lot of the extra money they'd be keeping because of the bill's tax cuts.
Many families can't afford even moderate deductibles
Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finance; Note: Liquid assets include the sum of checking and saving accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, savings bonds, non-retirement mutual funds, stocks and bonds; Chart: Axios Visuals
A lot of low-income families can't afford even a moderate deductible, yet deductibles continue to rise in almost all forms of insurance, Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman writes in his latest Axios column.
  • Roughly 40% of all non-elderly households don't have enough liquid assets to cover a high deductible ($3,000 for an individual or $6,000 for a family).
  • Among families whose income makes them eligible for the ACA's premium subsidies, 60% don't have enough liquid assets to cover a high deductible and 44% couldn't cover the deductible for a mid-range plan ($1,500 for an individual or $3,000 for a family).
Why it matters: High deductibles are everywhere, and they're only getting higher. Many ACA plans have relatively big deductibles and Republicans' alternatives would push them higher. They've been getting bigger and bigger in employer plans, too.
  • "For many families, even if they have insurance, any significant illness could wipe out all their savings, making impossible to fix a broken car to get to work, or pay for school, or make a rent or mortgage payment," Altman says.



LGBT Congressional Staff Associations Hold Observance Of Transgender Day Of Remembrance With 25+ Congressional Staffers

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Congressional Staff Association (CSA) held an observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on the Capitol Steps today with more than 25 Congressional staff in attendance. The program included a reading of names in remembrance of the transgender lives lost in 2017, followed by a moment of silence led by Bishop Allyson Abrams, founder and current pastor of Empowerment Liberation Cathedral.

Kory Masen, Racial and Economic Justice Policy Advocate with the National Center for Transgender Equality, attended and spoke about the meaning of TDOR, the importance of standing together, and the small actions everyone can do to support the transgender community. The LGBT CSA was also joined by the GLASS Caucus, the LGBTQ Staff Association for the U.S. Senate, and LC-GLOBE, the official Library of Congress organization for all LGBTQ+ employees and allies.


Keri Claussen Khalighi Accuses Russell Simmons of Rape

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Twitter users were generally not surprised when Def Jam Recordings mogul Russell Simmons was accused of rape. Model Keri Claussen Khalighi came forward on Sunday, telling the Los Angeles Times Simmons and Brett Ratner allegedly rapped her in 1991 when she was 17 years old. She met up with the powerful duo at a casting call.…

Five Companies Pull Ads From Sean Hannity’s Fox News Show Over Roy Moore Defense

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Five major companies have decided to distance themselves from Fox News host Sean Hannity by pulling their advertisements from his show in the wake of his support for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore and his attacks on the four women who accused Moore of sexual misconduct this week, whom he accused of lying for money.
Media Matters says they have received confirmations from 23andmeELOQUIIKeurigNature’s Bounty, and, on their decision to pull ads from Hannity’s Fox News show.
On Thursday, Hannity, who endorsed Moore’s campaign in September, claimed that Moore’s accusers were lying, saying: “Then you have false allegations that are made, and you know — how do you determine? It’s ‘He said, she [said].”
Hannity also claimed that the women making allegations against Moore are only doing it for money: “This goes back to what you said. Do people do it for money, do they do it political reasons? How come — is that more common than people would think?..They will lie to make money.”
He continued:
“Here’s some really fascinating questions. How do you know if it’s true? How do we — what’s true? What’s not true? How do you ascertain the truth? What happens when it’s 38 years later? It’s a serious topic, and — because if it’s true and people act like this, it’s disgusting, it’s despicable, it’s criminal.”
Then Hannity invoked the Bible’s Ten Commandments:
“We do have Ten Commandments. One of the commandments is ‘thou shalt not bear false witness.’ We know human beings break, with regularity, the other nine commandments. Did they break this one?”
Media Matters notes:
In August, Media Matters called on Hannity’s advertisers to stop financially supporting his lies and extremism and warned that Hannity’s volatility made him a business risk. The companies who spoke out this week join Cadillac and E-Trade among other brands that no longer wish to be associated with the Fox host.
Hannity’s advertiser losses from the late summer are part of the reason Fox’s revenue has begun to drop precipitously.


Donna Brazile: ' my friends are mad at me

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'My Democratic friends are mad at me': Donna Brazile explains herself in deep-left San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — After publishing an unfettered memoir critiquing Hillary Clinton's failed presidential bid, former Democratic Party leader Donna Brazile on Thursday doubled down on her criticism of the nominee before a receptive audience in deepest-left California.

Mueller Probe 'Has Penetrated The White House

Ex-FBI Official: Mueller Probe 'Has Penetrated The White House'

Last night, Chris Hayes spoke to ex-FBI official Frank Figluzzi, who served under then-FBI Director Robert Mueller. "What do you make of the actions Monday in terms of what you understand his strategy to be here?" Hayes said. Figluzzi said there's "clearly a pathway that he's got planned out." "One of the things that I think…

Obama Congratulates Winners In Democratic Tsunami Wave

The Associated Press reports:
Former President Barack Obama is congratulating the two Democrats who won gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. In a Wednesday morning tweet, Obama said: “This is what happens when the people vote.”
Democrat Ralph Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie in the race for Virginia governor. In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy trounced Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who served under the term-limited, deeply unpopular GOP Gov. Chris Christie.

This is what happens when the people vote. Congrats @RalphNortham and @PhilMurphyNJ . And congratulations to all the victors in state legislative, county and mayors' races. Every office in a democracy counts!


Republicans across the country take a shellacking

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How big of an Election Night did Democrats have on Tuesday? And how rough was it for Republicans one year after Donald Trump’s surprising victory in 2016? Consider all of these results across the country:
  • In the marquee gubernatorial contest in Virginia, Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by 9 points, 54 percent to 45 percent, marking Democrats’ biggest gubernatorial win in the state since 1985;
  • Also in Virginia, Democrats swept the statewide races for lieutenant governor and attorney general, and they have a shot at winning control of the House of Delegates, which was unthinkable going into last night;
  • In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy bested Republican Kim Guadagno by 13 points in that state’s gubernatorial race, 56 percent to 43 percent;
  • In Washington state, it appears Democrats won control of the state Senate;
  • In New Hampshire, Democrat Joyce Craig defeated incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas to become Manchester mayor, per New Hampshire political reporter Paul Steinhauser.
  • In Georgia, Democrats picked up two state legislative seats in special elections;
  • And in Maine, a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in the state easily passed.

Add it all up, and you can clearly see that the political winds are at Democrats’ backs right now, on the same day when two more House Republicans announced their retirements.
And while off-off year elections are hardly a guarantee to predict what will happen in the following midterms, remember that 1993 (when Republicans George Allen, Christine Todd Whitman and Rudy Giuliani won big) told us a lot about how 1994 would play out, and ditto 2009 (when Republicans Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie won) for the 2010 midterms.
What was extraordinary about last night was that it featured generic Democrats and Republicans — Northam vs. Gillespie in Virginia, Murphy vs. Guadagno in New Jersey, Medicaid expansion vs. not to expand it — and Democrats came out on top.
So last night was more than Virginia’s increasingly blue tint, or the power of the Northern Virginia suburbs. It was a drubbing across the entire country.



Wibur Ross is not the only one in Trump Administration with offshore accounts

Image result for chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, secretary of state Rex Tillerson, and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.
  • Aside from Ross, other members of the Trump administration were found to have been involved with offshore accounts. They include chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, secretary of state Rex Tillerson, and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.


GOP using Clinton to unite party

Trump tweets every few days about how she's the real Russian scandal.
  • Congressional Republicans and the Wall Street Journal editorial page pile on with calls for investigations.
  • Her campaign and the DNC are busted paying for the salacious and partly discredited Trump dossier.
  • A former campaign official says HRC alumni have a strong sense of camaraderie and call around to coordinate and commiserate with each new wave: "It never ceases to amaze all of us how this campaign that's a year old continues to extend into the future."
    Be smart: As Democrats try to figure out 2020, it's bad enough that they keep re-litigating the Clinton-Trump general election. But top Dems think it's horrendous that the party is now re-litigating the Clinton-Sanders primary.
    • Clinton's former high command says none of this breaks through in real America. But party insiders know that if they're going to take back the House, Senate or White House, they need to look forward, not backward.


    Summery of Trump/Russian Collusion investigation so far

    Below is a quick summary of the investigation’s major points — and it’s meant to be a small-c conservative summary. I understand why many people are ready to believe the worst about President Trump, but you will be able to follow the story more clearly if you avoid jumping to unproven conclusions.
    What we know:
    A Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had extensive talks with people linked to the Russian government, about “dirt” and “thousands of emails” that Russia had on Hillary Clinton. The Russians told him they were “open for cooperation” with the Trump campaign, as Papadopoulos later told federal investigators.
    Papadopoulos was more than the lowly volunteer that the White House is now making him out to be. In a March 2016 interview with The Washington Post, when Trump was bragging about the quality of his foreign policy advisers, Papadopoulos was the third person he named — “excellent guy,” Trump said.
    But Papadopoulos does not appear to have been at the center of the presidential campaign. Rather than making decisions himself, he asked for guidance from more senior Trump campaign officials.
    Some senior campaign officials were clearly willing to talk with the Russians. The documents released yesterday suggest as much. So does Donald Trump Jr.’s previously reported meeting with a Russian lawyer who had promised dirt on Clinton.
    For now, these conversations seem to be separate from the charges filed against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates. Manafort and Gates were charged with secretly working as agents of a foreign (Russian-backed) government for years, hiding their income from that work and lying about it to federal investigators.
    It’s certainly possible that Manafort also colluded with Russia during the presidential campaign. It’s also possible that prosecutors are using the other alleged illegal activity as leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the campaign investigations.
    What we don’t know:
    Did Trump campaign officials collude with Russian agents on the release of the emails? There is not yet any public evidence that the conversations between campaign officials and Russian agents led to actual coordination. Maybe Russia’s approaches to the Trump campaign went nowhere — and that Russia then released the emails anyway, for its own purposes. That would be a far less damning series of events for Trump and his aides.
    Which senior Trump campaign officials were aware of — or participated in — Papadopoulos’s conversations with Russian agents? The Papadopoulos plea agreement includes multiple references to his exchanges with an unnamed campaign supervisor. “Great work,” the supervisor told him, about the conversations. How much more did top officials know, and what did they do?
    What’s the relationship, if any, between the Papadopoulos conversations and Donald Trump Jr.’s later meeting with a Russian lawyer? The approach to Trump, which came later, didn’t seem to building off of the Papadopoulos talks, based on what we know so far. It seems to have been a fresh, separate approach. Is that because the Papdopoulos talks went nowhere?
    What did President Trump know, and when did he know it? So far, the investigation has publicly linked Trump to the Papadopoulos conversations only through a single meeting involving multiple people. At it, Papadopoulos told Trump he could set up a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin. It remains unclear how Trump responded, if at all, and what else he knew about any of the links between his campaign and Russia.
    What does Robert Mueller, the special counsel, already know that he hasn’t made public? The best guess seems to be: A lot.
    Yesterday’s filings were full of new information, which suggests that Mueller is releasing information on his own timeline, rather than having it drip out through anonymous leaks — as The Times’s Nick Confessore noted. Daniel Alonso, a former federal prosecutor, tweeted: “Mueller/FBI/IRS are not leaking. Exactly as it should be.”
    A campaign of ‘confusion.’ “Trump’s media allies downplay, deflect and deny stories that are trouble for the White House,” CNN’s Brian Stelter explained. “Instead, they tell viewers and readers to hate Hillary Clinton.”
    “This is a campaign of confusion. It is one of the most important things happening in politics today,” Stelter said. And it was in full swing yesterday, as Trump’s media allies tried to shift attention toward fake Clinton scandals.
    Fox News hosts talked about uranium (a non-scandal) and cheeseburger emojis (seriously), although Shep Smith was a notable exception, covering the news in a reasonably accurate way.
    At RedState, a writer argued: “Today’s indictments were a huge disappointment to those hoping for a deus ex Mueller event to remove Donald Trump from the White House.” The charges against Papadopoulos, “a bit player in this whole sorry melodrama,” were “preordained at the very moment he agreed to be interviewed by federal agents because if they want you, they got you.”
    On the Christian Broadcasting Network, the televangelist Pat Robertson said that Trump “has every right to shut Mueller down … He can grant a blanket pardon for everybody involved in everything and say, ‘All right, I pardon them all. Case closed. It’s all over.’ And I think that is what he needs to do.”

    David Leonhardt

    David Leonhardt

    Op-Ed Columnist