Free Association: Teasing Out The Investigation(s) Collusion Part One

There’s no law saying a blog post has to be explicative or hortatory, sometimes it can be a way to set down thoughts in order to organize their possible relationships, and that is what this post is intended to do.  We have an issue before us:  Why is the current President of the United States so dismissive of allegations of Russian meddling in the last US general election?  Why has he demonstrated so little interest in the results of intelligence community reports and briefings on the subject, and why does it seem that White House policy appears so aligned with Russian interests? (In the context of the NATO speech; the Cuban policy — opening a space for the Russians to fill in; and the changes in the GOP 2016 platform regarding Ukraine and Crimea.)

There are enough strands in this complicated situation to be analogous to a tangled ball of wool.  Teasing them out is a complex exercise on its own.

The “Collusion Strand.”  It’s far too early in the investigations as reported to draw any viable conclusions about possible collusion between the campaign/administration and Russian agents or agencies.

Exploring this strand requires the acceptance of the proposition that the Russians, did, in fact, attempt to meddle in the election with various levels of success in various forms of attacks.

We have evidence at hand that the Russians employed fake or misleading messages on social media in order to advance what they considered their interests in the campaign; which could be categorized as emanating from a desire to support Trump, and/or a desire to defeat Clinton.   We have evidence revealing that the Russians used “bots” and perhaps other means to amplify their messages.  We have evidence the Russians sought access to state and local election agencies, especially voter registration data, in at least 39 state revealed to date.  Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that there was an attack on our election processes and procedures.

If the Trump campaign benefited from the Russian activities, did it do so as part of a conspiracy (a combination or confederacy between two or more persons formed for the purpose of committing, by their joint efforts, some unlawful or criminal act) or, as an act of collusion (an agreement between two or more individuals to defraud a person of his rights, or to obtain an object forbidden by law; a secret combination, conspiracy or concert of action between two or more persons for a fraudulent or deceitful purpose.)

It seems that if we approach this from a legal perspective it could be argued that conspiracy/collusion should be of little interest since the Russians did not determine the outcome of the election, and therefore the “object” of their alleged collusion was purely a matter of political speculation.  Another perspective might be that the greater the level of ‘beneficial’ Russian injections which can be substantiated the higher the probability of meeting the elements for collusion and/or conspiracy.   The far less restrictive political perspective posits questions centered on the proposition that the greater the level of Russian interactions the greater the public perception of the illegitimacy of the election results.

Teasing along this strand a step further raises questions about the nature of any combination of efforts —  Was there no “combination” of efforts, or stated another way, were the Russian actions unilateral, and without coordination?  If so, then was the campaign the ‘accidental’ beneficiary of Russian efforts?  Was the campaign aware of any of these ‘unilateral’ actions — timing is everything?  If at some point in the campaign the officials were aware of these ‘beneficial’ Russian deployments and did nothing to stop contemporary actions or to prevent future incursions, then is the campaign culpable for illicit gains made as a result?

If there was a coordination of efforts, a direction of those efforts, or guidance provided by either party, then we may, indeed, be in collusion/conspiracy territory.

This speculation may serve to explain the Trumpian argument that Russian hacking didn’t matter because it didn’t change the overall election results; however, it really doesn’t explain all the permutations of possible interactions between the campaign and the Russians.

The next bit of rambling I should do is to explore the Money Strand … more later.

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