‘Fake facts’ do exist

Published 7:56 am Friday, November 3, 2017

There really are “fake facts” — just not the ones the president claims to be fake.

The investigation of collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government advanced this week with the indictments of Trump’s campaign and convention manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s associate, Rick Gates. Gates remained a part of Team Trump into the presidency until it became known Gates was under investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

While Manafort and Gates deserve to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the announcement that one George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign member, has pleaded guilty to charges related to the investigation is perhaps more significant to the underlying issue of collusion. Papadopoulos, claimed by the Trump folks to be so insignificant that they dismissively refer to him as “coffee boy,” actually had 29 direct contacts with high level Trump campaign officials, according to documents filed this week.

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Many of those communications were about attempts by Papadopoulos to establish meetings with Russian government officials who had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and “thousands” of emails.

What makes this development even more relevant is that several media groups have collected 20 individual incidences when Trump or Trump aides explicitly denied ANY contact between the campaign and the Russian government. Of course, we now know that Donald Trump Jr. also met with Russians, who wrote in an e-mail to Trump Jr. that the information they had was, “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Further, immediately following Trump’s election, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, noted the Russians had constant contact with Trump’s “immediate entourage,” throughout the campaign.

So how can we reconcile the Trump campaign’s denials of any Russian government connection with the actual facts that there were multiple and ongoing connections?

Think of it like this:

You step into a friend’s Volkswagen to travel together to a meeting. You compliment him on his purchase of the German-made vehicle. He says “I only buy American cars. This is not a Volkswagen, it is a Ford.” You glance at the dashboard and see the word “Volkswagen” in bold chrome letters.

Curious about the obvious misunderstanding, you persist, “But this is a Volkswagen, not a Ford. And your wife drives a Volkswagen, as does your son and your daughter.”

“No, No, no, you are wrong, we all drive Fords. This is a Ford. Why do you tell lies like this? You are making this all up. We drive American cars, Fords.”

Now stunned, you repeat, “Look, this is not a Ford, it says right on it that it is a Volkswagen.”

He now becomes clearly angry. “If this is a Volkswagen, then we must have mistakenly gotten into your car. You are the disloyal guy who buys foreign cars that hurt American industry.”

“No, we parked my Chevy at your house and got into your Volkswagen, and here we are now.”

Suddenly, he pulls to the side of the road and demands you get out of his Ford. You are fired as his friend, because you lie and keep making up fake facts. As he drives off, you note the VW insignia on the back of his car.

The Trump people have lied repeatedly to the American people. Trump’s campaign, we now know, had multiple contacts with an American adversary, the Russian government. Whether those contacts resulted in a collaboration designed to win the U.S. presidency is the only question that remains to be answered by the Mueller investigation.

While the current congress, led by Republicans, would likely refuse to impeach Trump even if it becomes known Trump colluded with Russia, a Democratic congressional majority, if elected in 2018, would have no such reservations.

Every vote matters.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.