One of the most ironic things about Hillary Clinton is that she had the reputation of someone who always shaded the truth but ended up taking the most flak for when she spoke it. Her comments about the “deplorables” who supported Trump may not have been the wisest idea politically but the rise of the alt-right under Trump has proven her to be correct. Her warnings about Trump’s Russian connections were largely ridiculed at the time but have proven to be prescient. But perhaps the comment she was most harshly criticized and ridiculed for was her comments describing the Whitewater/Lewinsky/Paula Jones/Ken Starr/impeachment saga as the result of a “vast right wing conspiracy”, a claim that was subsequently largely proven to be true.
Clinton might want to trot that expression out again in order to describe the extensive efforts from the inordinate numbers of Republican operatives in contact with the Russians and engaging in potential and admitted campaign finance violations, as well as other crimes, all in an effort to get Donald Trump elected. There are now at least 16 significant Trump associates who had contact with the Russians during the campaign. The list includes:
- George Papadopoulos
- Paul Manafort
- Michael Flynn
- Rick Gates,
- Roger Stone
- Michael Cohen
- Felix Sater
- Donald Trump, Jr
- Ivanka Trump
- Jared Kushner
- Jeff Sessions
- Carter Page
- Erik Prince
It also includes lesser figures like J.D. Gordon, a friend of Maria Butina, Avi Berkowitz, Kushner’s long-time friend, and Michael Caputo, a Roger Stone protégé.
That list does not include:
- Ted Mallach, Roger Stone’s reported contact with Julian Assange
- Aaron Nevins, a Florida GOP operative who received DNC info from Guccifer 2.0
- David Keene, David Clarke, and Paul Erickson, who connected the Russians with the NRA and the evangelical community
- Sol Annuzis, a well connected GOP operative with links to the NRA, RNC, Mercers, and Cambridge Analytica
- Rick Dearborn, longtime aide to Jeff Sessions
- Peter Smith, GOP operative who tried to contact Wikileaks about Hillary’s emails
- A so far unnamed GOP Congressional candidate in 2016, reportedly Brian Mast, who received DNC data from Guccifer 2.0
- Ben Carson, who, while not in contact with the Russians, reportedly introduced the Trump campaign to an Israeli voter manipulation firm
In addition to those individuals essentially soliciting foreign interference in our election, there were also numerous other Trump associates and Republican operatives that were involved in ensuring that any of the women with whom Trump had had dalliances over the years were paid to keep silent before the election. Beyond Michael Cohen, that effort also involved David Pecker and the National Enquirer, which concurrently ran a remarkable number of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton stories during the campaign, and Keith Davidson who fraudulently represented two of those accusers.
It is also becoming apparent that the Trump campaign was illegally coordinating its political messaging with the NRA, which spent more money on the Trump campaign than on any other candidate in their history. In fact, the NRA spent more than Trump’s own Super-PAC. The source of all that money remains shrouded behind the wall of secrecy that protects the Association’s dark money PAC but there have been reports that much of it came from the Russians.
The coordinated political messaging was run through National Media, which was employed by both NRA and Trump campaign. Often the same people at National Media were used to execute that political strategy. Ads were place by both organizations on the same stations on the same programs with similar ratios by the same people at National Media. If the Trump campaign bought two ads, the NRA bought one and vice versa. As one former head of the Federal Elections Commission said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where illegal coordination seems more obvious. It is so blatant that it doesn’t even seem sloppy”. How many individuals at National Media were involved and who they are has yet to be determined, as has the individuals they were coordinating with at the NRA and the Trump campaign.
As opposed to those individuals, there are others whose name we do know that knew of the connections to the Russians and/or the ongoing campaign finance violations and abetted them. These include:
- Sam Nunberg, Randy Credico, and Jerome Corsi, all Stone’s protégés
- Alan Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s CFO who helped Cohen set up the shell company in order to make the hush money payment
- Charles Kubic, Joseph Schmitz, Walid Phares, Bert Mizusawa, and Gary Harrell, who all attended the March, 2016 meeting where Papadopoulos discussed his Russian connections
- Sam Clovis, whom Papadopoulos also contacted about his Russian connections
I’m sure this is not a complete list and I’m sure readers can add to it. But, as it stands, this is a list of nearly 40 names that were involved in questionable and criminal activities to help the Trump campaign or knew of that activity and did nothing. And the list does not include Trump himself, nor does it include those who abetted obscuring these actions after Trump’s election or engaged in the pay-to-play that is a feature of the Trump transition and presidency. And virtually every one of those 40 have lied about their involvement at one time or another.
Jeffrey Toobin, in his summary of the Starr/Jones impeachment saga, described it as a conspiracy that may not have been directed by one individual but all the characters in it were driven by the same goal. In this case, there is clearly more coordination between the parties and the link to virtually all of them, of course, is Donald Trump.