Trump defense keeps moving the goal posts - Albuquerque Journal

Trump defense keeps moving the goal posts

WASHINGTON – At first, it was all so simple. The Trump White House said there were “no contacts” – zero, zilch – between Trump’s campaign and Russia. But in time this elegant defense encountered a formidable opponent: reality.

And so for a year now, Trump and his advisers, facing mounting evidence of their campaign’s entanglement with Russia, have redrawn lines of defense and revised talking points with such daring that it has amounted to a veritable Marshall Plan for the moving of goal posts.

As details of campaign contacts with Russia piled up, Trump and his officials instead said there had been “no collusion.” As more evidence came in showing attempts at high-level collusion, the White House retreated to another line of defense: Trump himself didn’t collude.

Now, with four Trump campaign officials indicted and two of them, including Trump’s former national security adviser, pleading guilty, even that distinction no longer seems safe.

One of Trump’s attorneys, Jay Sekulow, just told the New Yorker that it doesn’t matter whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, because “there is no crime of collusion.” Another Trump attorney, John Dowd, told Axios that technically the president “cannot obstruct justice, because he is the chief law enforcement officer.”

A year after the Trump team debuted its “no contacts” defense, the attenuated new White House position amounts to this: Who cares?

It has been quite a journey. Let’s recall some scenic vistas.

Original position: “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

Revised position: Carter Page traveled to Russia when he was a Trump campaign adviser, but he was only “a low-level volunteer.” Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, but he was only in a “voluntary position.” Former campaign manager Paul Manafort was indicted in the Russia probe, but this doesn’t count because “he was replaced long before the election.”

Original position: Attorney General Jeff Sessions “did not have communications with the Russians.”

Revised position: Sessions “did meet one Russian official a couple of times.” But Sessions conducted no “improper discussions with Russians.”

Revised position 2: Sessions does “not recall any discussions” with Russians “regarding the political campaign.” But he does recall that he had no conversations with Russians “concerning any type of interference with any campaign.”

Original position: Donald Trump Jr. did not set up meetings with Russians, or if he did he wasn’t “representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”

Revised position: The campaign meeting he set up with Russians was about “adoption of Russian children.”

Revised position 2: The “adoption” meeting was with a Russian attorney promising Russian government dirt on Clinton. But Trump Jr. received “no meaningful information.”

Original position: President Trump was “not involved” in the false Trump Jr. statement alleging the meeting was about adoption.

Revised position: Trump “weighed in, as any father would.”

Original position: When Michael Flynn, incoming national security adviser, called the Russian ambassador during the transition, they “did not discuss anything having to do with” Russia sanctions.

Revised position: Flynn “couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

Revised position 2: Flynn “inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information.”

Revised position 3: Flynn “lied to the vice president and the FBI.”

Original position: A report that Jared Kushner suggested a secret, secure “communications channel” with Russia was based on “a lot of facts that are not substantiated.”

Revised position: Kushner asked the Russian ambassador whether he had a “communications channel” that could be used to relay information from the Kremlin.

Original position: FBI Director James Comey’s firing “had zero to do” with Russia investigation.

Revised position: Trump cited “this Russia thing” in firing Comey.

But there is one position on the scandal Trump hasn’t changed – his reluctance to accept what the entire intelligence community and his own CIA director do: That Russia meddled in the election.

Position: Election hackers could have been “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Position: U.S. intelligence agencies were led by “political hacks” and employ “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

Position: Vladimir Putin “said he absolutely did not meddle in our election” and “I really believe that when he tells me that he means it.”

That’s the exception that proves the rule.

Home » Opinion » Columnists » Trump defense keeps moving the goal posts


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Thieves take so much more than your cash
Columnists
Being victimized can cause trauma, and ... Being victimized can cause trauma, and has nothing to do with your 'intelligence or common sense'
2
Tips for keeping you and your energy bills cool ...
Columnists
It is hot outside. According to ... It is hot outside. According to PNM, demand for electricity is highest during the summer cooling sea ...
3
A new community hub for the South Valley
Columnists
Social Enterprise Center brings new approach ... Social Enterprise Center brings new approach to economic development
4
Navajo nurses took different paths to making big differences ...
Columnists
Looking back on long nursing careers, ... Looking back on long nursing careers, Erma Marbut and Lavenia Diswood are most proud of the ways the ...
5
Anniversaries of grief bring lessons, opportunities to help
ABQnews Seeker
You will not 'get over' the ... You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you'll learn to live with it
6
Journal reader engagement focusing on underrepresented communities
Columnists
I moved to Albuquerque from Colorado ... I moved to Albuquerque from Colorado last November, marking the third time in my 53 years that IR ...
7
NM voters should get say on healthy environment
Columnists
What is the Green Amendment and ... What is the Green Amendment and what would it do? Democrats in the New Mexico House and Senate have ...
8
Newspaper memo from the past rings just as true ...
Columnists
Editorial page writer Sharon Hendrix rarely ... Editorial page writer Sharon Hendrix rarely throws anything out. So before retiring last month after ...
9
Credit freeze effective against identity theft
Columnists
Study found that only 3% of ... Study found that only 3% of victims initiated a halt