The rich specificity of the emerging Trump-Russia narrative, found in the indictments of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, is now smothering the president’s defenses, overwhelming his counterattacks and depriving him of options and friends. No wonder Trump is in a terrible mood.
The details of the furtive machinations of the Trump entourage and the coterie of Vladimir Putin, from Trump Tower to the Seychelle Islands, brings to life the story of how these two power cliques came together to do business during and after the 2016 presidential election.
Some say that reporting and dwelling on such facts constitutes the "demonization" of Russia and the Russians. It is true that the actions we know of — thanks to skillful leaking of Mueller’s team and solid reporting by the New York Times and the Washington Post — do not necessarily reveal criminality. But the emerging story is the very definition of collusion, and in multiple dimensions.
Trump & Co., we now know, wanted a back channel to Putin, a means of communicating secretly beyond the view of the public or the U.S. government for reasons that have yet to be clarified.
Was it money? Jared Kushner, stuck with a terrible New York real estate investment, needs an infusion of capital. He launched the effort to establish such a channel via a Russia banker shortly after his father-in-law was elected. In January, Erik Prince, the mercenary security entrepreneur and Trump confidante, met with another Russian banker in the Seychelles. Prince told the House Intelligence Committee, under oath, that the meeting was accidental. Mueller now has witnesses who say it was an effort to establish confidential communications.