Late-Night Russiagate Open Thread: That’s A Lotta Contacts…

RE: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? Dour conservative and professional Russia-watcher Tom Nichols, concerning the NYMag story by Jonathan Chait that BettyC linked this morning:

67 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    Art of the Kneel.

  2. 2
    JWR says:

    It’s just eye-watering when it’s all toted up at the same time, like adding up a lot of small debts that don’t look like financial ruin until you write them all down.

    This, in my heart of hearts, is what I’m hoping/dreaming comes out of the Mueller investigation. And I want it put so that even Republicans can’t help but look and/or act.

  3. 3
    Suzanne says:

    I find myself engaging in retail therapy in an attempt to not feel shitty about this.

    Already bought two new pairs of sneakers. Now want some tall pumps, a new bracelet, and I’m searching for the best shirts to show off, well, uh, yeah. I need some mojo back.

  4. 4
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Suzanne: You’re not alone. I find that working out (long swims) is the only way to take my mind off this horrorshow.

  5. 5
    Arclite says:

    Every single red-blooded American should be both furious and terrified of this situation. Yet half of them cheer on Mr. Trump. Unbelievable.

  6. 6
    Major Major Major Major says:

    @Suzanne: I sure am writing and reading a lot. A crazy amount. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve picked such an out of control time to look into major life changes like a cross country move. Because why the hell not, it makes about as much sense as everything else.

  7. 7
    piratedan says:

    its all just one huge coinkydink that the one nation/person that has financially rescued DJT from financial ruin is benefiting the most from his “election” to our Presidency, overturning alliances that have been in place for roughly six generations and torpedoing trade agreements that had secured our place as the leader of western civilization and as the primary mover politically, militarily, economically and culturally for the last 70 years.

    amazin’ coincidence if you step back and think on it, huh?

  8. 8
    otmar says:

    Good morning.

    Could someone please fast forward us to November?

  9. 9
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Major Major Major Major: It’s interesting that you’re contemplating a cross-country move. I can’t bring myself to leave California. B/c I feel safe here, and feel fear of the rest of the country.

  10. 10
    Noah Brand says:

    Something I said recently about Trump’s intent to actually win the election:

  11. 11
    NotMax says:


    Was told you’re the one to ask about place(s) to grab a beverage (and maybe a very light nosh) at PHX airport. Will have a longer than preferred but not ridiculous layover there later this month. American Airlines, no idea which gate. Land at 6 a.m. so imagine options for something boozy will be limited to non-existent then? Although could bring along some airline size bottles to doctor some coffee. Walking long distances is doable but can be problematic on the bad leg.

    Someone suggested Matt’s Big Breakfast. Checked it out online. Pricey (IMHO, but I don’t eat out as a rule – 5 smackers for OJ?), and a full meal is not what I’m after, more a relatively quiet place to sit and sip. Don’t think they’d much appreciate my hogging table space for a couple of hours for just coffee and toast.

  12. 12
    Suzanne says:

    @NotMax: Cartel is the best coffee place in the airport. Matt’s Big Breakfast is good, but I prefer chilaquiles at Barrio Cafe if you have the time. American is in T4, which is the one with the best food at the moment.

  13. 13
    Suzanne says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Some Canadian friends who had been living here in the US for the past 10 years recently went back to the Great White North. They are from Toronto, though they relocated to Montreal. I am……sorely tempted. I think I could become a permanent resident with my education. I am trying to convince Mr. Suzanne. Sigh.

  14. 14
    Major Major Major Major says:

    @Chetan Murthy: I would feel safer (physically and financially) outside of San Francisco. YMMV.

  15. 15
    J R in WV says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Hey! Did you get a job offer worth discussing in NYC when you were flown in for an interview? I once got gas money to drive to Pittsburgh, and they offered me a job, but if was boring at a bank work, and I’ve always been bored and miserable working on accounting packages for big companies.

    Getting to work with Environmental data was so much better as a way to spend the last part of my career. Designing complex DBs to hold complex regulatory data and scientific data. Biologists are really smart, but unless they take a buttload of data classes OR study a lot on their own, their DBs are really shitty. And you dn’t want GBs of data in an Access DB!!!

  16. 16
    Major Major Major Major says:

    @J R in WV: I did not, as it turned out that due to poor communication between HR and engineering, I had interviewed for the wrong job.

  17. 17
    NotMax says:


    Thank you very much. Will have approximately 3 hours (more like 2½, I guess, between touchdown and first call for boarding).

    Juggling flight times to afford the least disruption for the friend who will drop me off/pick me up here and for Mom to avoid rush hour traffic in NY or a pre-dawn sojourn was … tricky.

  18. 18
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Physically? M4, I thought you were gay? Financially, I hear you.

  19. 19
    Emerald says:

    Methinks Tom Nichols is still not ready to see what’s in front of him. Of course Trump’s a traitor. Just the fact that he immediately gave that Israeli intelligence to the Russians in the oval office cinches it.

    I only hope the Intelligence Community has already thoroughly bugged the room where he and Putin will meet. ‘Cause yeah, he’s going to meet his handler. No further doubt of that. Be nice to have hard evidence of it.

  20. 20
    Ruckus says:

    I just spent most of the last two days watching the Ken Burns Vietnam series. I highly recommend it to anyone who lived through that period of history. Or anyone who wants to know about the reality of it.
    It is extremely well done. I did not get sent to Vietnam but I served during the war. I’ve written here before about my time in a naval hospital with a lot of wounded that did serve in combat. That was probably the most intense time of my life and I didn’t really understand that until now.

  21. 21
    NotMax says:

    @J R in WV

    Was once scheduled for a job interview at a radio station in PA, practically on top of Three Mile Island. The same day the disaster occurred.

    Needless to say, the interview never happened (by mutual agreement) and by the time the dust had settled was informed the opening was kaput.

  22. 22
    Major Major Major Major says:

    @Chetan Murthy: there have been strongarm robberies in the Castro of late, and a tent city has begun to abut my area, bringing some delightful verbal abuse when I buy snacks.

  23. 23
    YetAnotherJay formerly (Jay S) says:

    @Emerald: I think useful idiot is still in the running.

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    @Major Major Major Major

    Was under the impression the move was a done deal and that a job , while preferably locked in beforehand, was also amenable to be sought and had afterward.

    BTW, should you end up in Glendale, the blog would have bi-coastal symmetry. :)

  25. 25
    Emerald says:

    @YetAnotherJay formerly (Jay S):

    I used to think that. I also used to think just fellow traveller. But nah, handing out code-level intelligence to the Russians in the Oval speaks quite loudly.

    There’s just too much evidence.

    (I grant you, he isn’t smart enough to be an actual spy on his own. But he can take orders.)

  26. 26
    moops says:


    This, in my heart of hearts, is what I’m hoping/dreaming comes out of the Mueller investigation. And I want it put so that even Republicans can’t help but look and/or act.

    that is a pointless dream. Every indication up to the present tells us the GOP will rally to ignore EVERYTHING that is revealed. There will be no impeachment, no matter what documented charges are laid on this administration. They will not act.

    My one hope is that Mueller documents a large swath of currently compromised GOP politicians that all all served with DOJ indictments. That would change the logistics of an impeachment.

  27. 27
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: SuzAunt was in the Army Nurse Corps during Vietnam. She was at Fort Dix caring for long-term wounded, never sent overseas. She is still totally affected from it. She is still working into her seventies as a nurse (in an administrative role now), and she is still really traumatized by what she witnessed and the people she cared for. The loss of the self due to TBI is something that she still cannot handle emotionally.

  28. 28
    Major Major Major Major says:

    @NotMax: nah, that was never the plan.

  29. 29
    Major Major Major Major says:

    And I’m off to bed.

  30. 30
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Violent robberies? Ugh. I live right over the hill. Walk thru the Castro all the time. I’ll have to look into this. Not good. Thank you for letting me know.

  31. 31
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @Chetan Murthy: occasional robberies in Glen Park but generally things pretty peaceful here

  32. 32
    Steeplejack says:

    @Noah Brand:

    That’s comedy gold, Jerry!

  33. 33
    Steeplejack says:

    I think the Jonathan Chait article is good, definitely worth a read of the whole thing. (It’s long.) He does an okay job of saying when he is speculating, but the Tom Nichols tweet-thread is a very good addition/​expansion that offers a few corrections and provides a useful, slightly different perspective.

  34. 34
    amorphous says:

    i live in europe. i hear through sources that i think are reliable and in-the-know that the EU parliament expects trump to announce a withdrawal (or intent to withdraw) from NATO within the next couple weeks. i can’t describe how afraid that makes me of for so many things.

  35. 35
    Central Planning says:

    @Ruckus: My dad was a medic in Vietnam. He has told me stories that sound like he was living Catch-22.

    The one thing he said that will stick with me forever is that he was terrified for his life. EVERY. DAY.

  36. 36
    Quinerly says:

    Has anyone posted this Buzzfeed piece about the pregnant women being held in detention by border control?

  37. 37
    Viva BrisVegas says:


    Trump won’t withdraw from NATO, he’ll just keep using it as a punching bag.

    NATO meetings are far too useful to Trump as an international platform for America First.

    He gets to beat his breast and show all the MAGAts back home how manly he is.

  38. 38
    tobie says:

    @YetAnotherJay formerly (Jay S): @Emerald: At some level I’m not sure it matters whether we call Trump a useful idiot or a willing Russian asset. He talks to Putin on the phone a lot. The recent revelations that he asked Putin what to do about North Korea show pretty clearly that Putin’s calling the shots.

  39. 39
    bjacques says:

    @NotMax: I remember when TMI stood for Three Mile Island instead of Too Much Information. That sucks.

    I can beat that, though. I was interviewing for a job at NASA-JSC on a cold but sunny Tuesday: January 28 1986. Arrived promptly at 8, had a brief interview and then a flight controller took me around Mission Operations Directorate Bldg 4N, and things were looking very good. There was a launch scheduled for later that morning, You can see where this is going. Not long after the launch, my guide became strangely distracted and handed me back to the first person, who, after awhile, said I’d better come back after a week week to finish the interview.

    President Reagan came to NASA and made a memorial speech. I went back and finished the interview. I got the job 3 weeks after that, since NASA was still optimistic about getting back into space in 6 weeks, which turned to 6 months and ultimately 2-1/2 years. Under the subsequent top-to-bottom review I spent my first few years there editing procedure checklists and then tracing every last wire in the Shuttle and Spacelab electrical systems, to vet and update the technical drawings in the Space Shuttle Systems Handbook.

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    Manafort and Flynn, alone, should have been alarm bells

    What really should have been alarm bells were

    1) Trump wishing out loud at the Russians on national television that they commit crimes against his opponent in the 2016 election for his own benefit.

    2) Trump’s only modification of the 2016 Republican platform being the removal of the pro-Ukraine language in it.

    3) Trump insisting on meeting Russian government officials in the Oval Office alone and promptly spilling classified information to them.

    4) Trump refusing to enforce sanctions on Russia for an entire year.

    All things that aren’t even about people in Trump’s circle, but are about Trump, personally, and things that didn’t have to be dug up by any reporter or investigators but that he did himself in full view of the public.

  41. 41
    Chris says:

    @Viva BrisVegas:

    Don’t think so. You could say the same of the Iran deal, the TPP, and the climate accords, and he pulled out of all of them anyway. Our Republicans are long past the point of being cynical masterminds who use things like that to distract the rubes; they’ve all drunk the kool aid and now they’re doing these things for real.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll pull out of NATO (wouldn’t that require congressional support, since it’s a treaty ratified by Congress)? But if he doesn’t, it sure as hell won’t be because he’s got a strategy to keep using it as a punching bag.

  42. 42
    Chris says:


    i can’t describe how afraid that makes me of for so many things.

    Likewise. No more NATO means more than just a blow to the U.S. It’s the end of the West as we’ve known it since 1945.

  43. 43
    trnc says:

    @Chris: True, but I would quibble with this:

    Trump wishing out loud at the Russians on national television that they commit crimes against his opponent in the 2016 election for his own benefit.

    It wasn’t a wish; it was an invitation.

  44. 44
    Chris says:


    I mean, yeah. “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome Clinton?”

  45. 45
    Jamey says:

    @Ruckus: The war was well before my time. I don’t get the criticisms lobbed at the series (people carped about the obviousness of the soundtrack, the vocal performances, the “misreading” of archival documents re: ARVN performance, etc). I found it evenhanded, pretty comprehensive, and kinda binge-worthy.

    Amazing what we let our government get away with for so long–squelching reports that the war was unwindable. So many lives wasted.

  46. 46
    Thoughtful David says:

    Yes. I wonder what rock this Tom Nichols person has been hiding under for the last few years. I’m not even in the IC or anything, and I saw it from the things you mention.
    I also think Nichols is still naive if he thinks Trump isn’t doing Putin’s bidding but just maybe what he thinks Putin might want. All the evidence says Putin tells him what to do. Putin may be couching it in careful terms to not disturb Trump’s ego, but that’s what a good handler would do.
    Putin is also being very careful to not push things too far or too fast and get Trump thrown out. Putin’s making sure the damage to the US is deep and long term. To do that, Putin’s being careful to protect his asset.

  47. 47
    barb 2 says:

    Why was there a cold war? Why did my dad and lots of others risk their lives flying spy missions over Russia? For what? A dumb fart idiot to give it up to the KGB?

    As Adam says — we are at war.

    The fucking GOPer have sold us out. Cheap.

  48. 48
    zhena gogolia says:

    I wish the Russia threads weren’t always in the middle of the night.

  49. 49
    jonas says:


    Yet half of them cheer on Mr. Trump. Unbelievable.

    They hate liberals more than they love their country. Sad but true.

  50. 50
    Bobby Thomson says:

    I can’t believe that people are still talking about this like it’s at all in doubt. Including people who should know better.

  51. 51
    jonas says:

    @amorphous: I don’t think he can just unilaterally do that (i.e. would require act of Congress), but I wouldn’t be surprised if he threatened base closings in Germany or something. You know, just to keep Mattis on his toes…

  52. 52
    Chris says:


    This is exactly how French politics were for about a decade from the mid thirties to the mid forties. Collaborating with Germany? Meh. “Better Hitler than Blum,” and all that.

  53. 53
    Chris says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Even if we do get a “good” outcome, this will end up just like the WMD “intelligence failure” and the Iraq War fuckups. All of Official Washington will fall in line pretending that this was just some freak occurrence that no one could possibly have predicted.

  54. 54
    JGabriel says:

    Tom Nichols via Anne Laurie @ Top:

    You can’t say “Well, it was just some real estate deals.” Because you can’t deal with just one arm of that octopus. If you’re in deep with the mob, or oligarchs, or the Russian state, you’re in deep with all of them. That’s just how it is. … Where things get edgier is whether Trump is knowingly doing Putin’s bidding or not.

    Trump is insisting on meeting with Putin without any other US officials, or even any other Americans, present – for, at least, the second time.

    That means there’s little to no doubt that Trump is knowingly doing Putin’s bidding, and knows that it would look even worse if there were any witnesses to his conversations with Putin.

    … I do not know how much Trump is doing what he’s doing because of pressure from Russia. My guess is: None. I doubt anyone has threatened him. I think he’s proactively responding to what he knows exists.

    Whether Trump is proactively betraying the US, or doing it under threat of criminal exposure, is irrelevant – it’s still treason.

  55. 55
    Cephalus Max says:

    Has anybody found a Storified (or similar) version of Nichol’s tweet sequence? I’d like to post this for some of my wingnut friends, but find raw twits a confusing mess.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    chopper says:

    @Chetan Murthy:

    i ran something like 9 miles yesterday just to try to clear my head between the scotus garbage and work stuff.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    Actual unrolled thread:

  60. 60
    Ruckus says:

    I didn’t realize it till yesterday that I’ve been partially numb for decades. Not a participant, just an unexpected and unwilling observer. I know I was affected, I just really didn’t understand how and how much. Or that I still am.
    I was always glad that I didn’t have to experience it first hand, but it’s still a shock to realize the extent of the experience. I always wished that no one else had to experience it either.
    I’m truly sorry for your aunt, and all the people who had that experience, in person or second hand.

  61. 61
    Ruckus says:

    What you said.
    But remember it was a different time, the publc communication that existed was pretty much what your government wanted you to know. But observable history, the war itself, was actually covered. That hasn’t been true since, most of the news media are stenographers or true believers, instead of reporters.
    Those lives weren’t wasted, they were used and discarded for power. They were treated like used toilet paper. Used, and flushed away, to be replaced by new ones from the roll of life.

  62. 62
    dopey-o says:


    Amazing what we let our government get away with for so long–squelching reports that the war was unwinnable. So many lives wasted.

    Don’t forget how Nixon torpedoed the 1968 peace talks. The end result was Nixon getting re-elected in 1972 at the cost of 20,000+ troops’ lives, as well as uncountable numbers of innocent Vietnamese people.

  63. 63
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @Noah Brand: Ha! Found this one recently.

  64. 64
    polyorchnid octopunch says:


    They are from Toronto, though they relocated to Montreal.

    Good choice. I lived in Montreal for nearly a decade and go there all the time. One thing about Mtl though is that you really need to speak French to really get all the city has to offer.

  65. 65
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @Quinerly: I’ve no doubt this is intentional; remember all the blathering about “anchor babies”? They’re trying to prevent them either by getting them deported or via malign neglect.

  66. 66
    Gemina13 says:

    Last night the SO and I were talking about future travel plans. I’ve got our passport applications filled out and ready to go when he gets home from his job in Alaska.

    He asked, “Would you mind terribly if I asked you to do something?”

    “Like what?”

    “Tell everyone who asks that we’re Canadian?”

    He’s got family in Canada. After a moment, I suggested we spend 3 weeks with them and then go travel. It’ll be more like truth and less like a lie.

  67. 67
    ealbert says:

    About 15 years ago I worked with a man who had been in Vietnam. He said that when he got there, his sergeant told him that being there was simply a case of mind over matter, “he didn’t matter so his sergeant didn’t mind.” (I don’t know why autocorrect wanted the English spelling.)

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