[li]The Trump dossier’s author told Robert Mueller’s team that Russia asked Trump not to hire Russia-critic Mitt Romney as secretary of State, according to a New Yorker article.[/li][li]Russia instead advised Trump to pick someone who would ease sanctions against Moscow for actions in Ukraine.[/li][li]The magazine also says President Barack Obama and VP Joe Biden weren’t alerted about the infamous dossier until January 2017.[/li][/ul]
You may recall that early signs were that Trump was leaning Mitt Romney, but in the end picked Tillerson. I took this as typical Trump maneuvers at the time. Now, things seem more sinister.
I am trying to be as impartial as I can. If the UK, for example, gave us strong feedback that they hated a SecState pick, we would take that into consideration. On the other hand, the UK has been a steadfast ally for decades. Russia had not.
Overall, I have to conclude that this isn’t by itself a smoking gun. In my opinion, it is another piece of evidence in a pile that’s getting harder and harder to hand wave away.
The UK is an ally familiar with our laws. If they wanted to influence our political pick, they might make a public statement. They would not meet with candidates to collude behind closed doors. Such actions would damage our relationships.
The public may be able to overlook the transgression with the UK, an ally. Russia doesn’t deserve similar treatment.
It came from what Steele termed a high-ranking operative with ties to the Kremlin or some such, but it’s unverified so far as we know. He told Mueller it wasn’t very reliable, but it’s interesting, and certainly nothing I’d put beyond either Putin or Trump.
Why? It’s often the worst strategy to have diplomatic discussions out in the open unless your goal is to embarrass the other party, or to be deliberately seen as being manipulative. The latter case is a good way to get your American counterpart to ignore your input, since he or she will then be seen as bowing to foreign pressure. Normally, that’s a bad thing, although we are seeing some bizarre behavior by Republican of late where that gets a big “meh”.
In fact, this seems like exactly the sort of discussion that would be held in private between the president and the Prime Minister. Or, am I missing something?
Except that these things rarely remain private for long: it was known that Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice got Tony Blair to move Jack Straw from the Foreign Secretary’s job, either because he was indiscreetly rude about Rumsfeld or because either or both of them thought Straw would be too open to influence from the Muslim population of his constituency. But since Straw chose not to make a public issue of it (and those in the Labour Paty who might have made an issue of it in principle had their own objections to Straw), nothing came of it.
At the time Tillerson was nominated, every commentator noted that he was probably picked because he had extensive experience negotiating with the Russians. Trump would have TOLD you at the time that was a big part of the reason Tillerson was selected.
It is very unlikely that Trump was going to appoint Romney as Secretary of State. Romney had been very critical of Trump during the primaries and Trump does not like criticism and is loathe to forgive. At the time it was thought the only reason Romney’s name was floated was to have Romney be put in the position of supplicant as a way to get back at him. Given Trump’s other cabinet picks Tillerson is much more in keeping with Trump’s staffing process rather than someone like Romney who would have his own base of political support.
You do realize that your premise is contradicted by history, right? The UK used covert intelligence operations, propaganda and fake news stories to influence the election of…
wait for it
The U.K tried to influence which candidates would run and worked to get candidates who didn’t support going to war defeated in elections. The U.K. tapped phones, burglarized embassies, planted fake news stories in papers and generally tried a bunch of dirty tricks to get the politicians the UK wanted elected. Link. Second link.
Really, this kind of thing has been going on forever. This isn’t new, it isn’t surprising. Holy shit, folks, this is what nations do!