The American people who voted Donald J. Trump into the highest office in the land did so for many reasons. One overarching theme of his support was and continues to be the idea of draining that murky D.C. swamp.
To be sure, the Mueller-directed saga is just in its openings acts. We await more information about the Manafort and Papadopoulos indictments and what, if any, connections can be made to others, including the president.
Though many questions remain, we can be certain of this: the job of “non-politician swamp-drainer” has yet to be filled.
Trump supporters, ever eager to protect their guy, will tell you that the president is the epitome of a non-politician who desires to clean up Washington. His background isn’t in politics and he comes off as less than knowledgeable about political life inside of the Beltway. That is part of his supposed charm; an outsider’s approach to the game.
But can we honestly say that he is acting as anything other than a well-oiled political machine? Can we state with certainty that his campaign tactics were pure and noble, the product of an outsider’s blemish-free desire to infiltrate D.C.?
Claims have been made that Manafort’s loathsome behavior took place well before his involvement with the Trump campaign. Even if this is entirely true, what does it say of the Trump campaign? It says one of two things. Either the Trump team didn’t know about how shady and unethical Paul Manafort has been, or it did know and set aside any concern in favor of his expertise as a political consultant. Neither answer should make us feel comfortable.
And then there’s George Papadopoulos, the young Trump campaign employee whose name was unknown to many until today. As Jim Jamitis wrote earlier, Papadopoulos seemed flushed with excitement about setting up connections between the Trump campaign and Russian contacts.
…Papadopoulos, an oil and gas consultant, is that he was reportedly in touch with the head of a U.S.-Russia trade group who is an alleged source for the anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Papadopoulos was announced by Trump himself as a member of the campaign’s foreign policy advisory shop on March 21, 2016. Just three days later, Papadopoulos would pitch Trump campaign officials on a bold proposal.
…Papadopoulos emailed campaign policy director Sam Clovis with a proposal to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump.”
Clovis rebuffed the advance, which included an offer for Trump to meet with Vladimir Putin.
Papadopoulos, a former researcher at the conservative Hudson Institute think tank, would send several more emails to Clovis, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski trying to set up similar meetings with Russian government officials.
Again, even if these concerns end up revealing no known collusion with the Russians, and even if they were never taken further than an email exchange, they are still concerning. Once more, they show a willingness to avert eyes away from areas and employees of concern.
Playing the political game? I think so.
Nearly a year ago, a vast number of Americans cast their vote for a real estate magnate turned reality star. He wasn’t like the others. He would drain that fetid D.C. marsh and be a voice for the people. America? It would be made great, again.
Since his unlikely ascension to the throne, it’s clear that this people’s champion is just like the others. He’s a politician who is willing to endorse various campaign tactics – and people – if it means victory in the end.
Whether Manafort or Papadopoulos acted on their own, without knowledge of the president, matters little. His name was on the banner under which they stood.
Donald J. Trump is a politician, and the swamp is still full.