Daily Bread for 10.13.19

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty-four.  Sunrise is 7:06 AM and sunset 6:15 PM, for 11h 08m 40s of daytime.  The moon is full with 99.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand sixty-ninth day.

On this day in 1775, a resolution of the Continental Congress creates a Continental Navy.

Recommended for reading in full:

Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey writes We saw Trump stiffing cities for his other rallies, so we told him to pay up:

So late last month when President Trump announced that he would hold a campaign rally in Minneapolis, where I’m the mayor, I had two questions about resources. First, how much extra work would city employees need to do? Second, how could the city secure reimbursement for those excess costs on behalf of the city’s taxpayers.

The venue the campaign chose, Target Center, is publicly owned but privately operated. Under the terms of the city’s contract with the operator, Minneapolis is entitled to reimbursement for certain costs. In our view, those include excess costs for public safety and traffic control, among other services. Had the venue been privately owned, we wouldn’t have had as much leverage to recoup costs.

As mayor, I have a responsibility to protect free speech, even from a president whose rhetoric and policies I find reprehensible. However, it is not my responsibility to subsidize it.

Using the same methodology that city staff relied on to calculate costs for other recent, large-scale events in Minneapolis such as the Super Bowl ($6 million) and the NCAA Men’s Final Four ($1.5 million), the projected bill for Trump’s campaign stop came out to $530,000.

It’s no secret that the president’s rallies pose real security concerns, and this event coincided with rush hour. Both factors contributed to that figure, which was higher than might have been incurred for an event with fewer security worries at a time of day without so much traffic. We informed the booking agent of the expected cost and requested payment.

Michael S. Schmidt, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel, and William K. Rashbaum report Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work:

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

This Is the Only Coffee Grown in the Continental United States:

Daily Bread for 10.12.19

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of fifty.  Sunrise is 7:05 AM and sunset 6:16 PM, for 11h 11m 29s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 98.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand sixty-eighth day.

On this day in 1861, the 8th Wisconsin Infantry leaves Madison: “It would later move east through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and west into Arkansas and Missouri and fight at the battles of Corinth, Vicksburg, Jackson, and Nashville.”

Recommended for reading in full:

Julia Davis writes Trump’s Syria Fiasco Is Part of Putin’s To-Do List (‘Trump tried to keep his talks with Putin at Helsinki last year secret from his staff and the world, but Russia’s president held up the checklist for the cameras. Syria was on it’):

In Finland last year, the leader of the most powerful country in the world demonstrated cringeworthy servility toward Vladimir Putin—president of a rogue government sanctioned by the West for a great number of malign activities, including Russia’s brazen interference in the U.S. elections.

The world’s pariah looked triumphant next to the deflated American president. As Trump stood hunched over, with a blank expression, Putin was practically glowing—and he wanted the world to know just how great the meeting went for Russia. Putin held up a thick stack of his notes with both hands, showing them off for the world to see, in effect giving himself the thumbs-up.

Discernible portions of the first page, purposely written in abnormally large script, included references to the election interference, Putin’s request that Russia be allowed to interrogate the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, and also the British businessman Bill Browder, pursuant to the 1999 Treaty with Russia on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. There was a reference to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. And at the bottom of the first page, Putin’s notes also mentioned Syria, where Russia has been wreaking havoc and committing mass atrocities in concert with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Iran.

For public consumption, the Russian president’s handwriting mentioned “joint humanitarian operations with the goal of creating conditions for the return of refugees.” The reality on the ground tends to create—not dissipate—the flood of refugees, essentially weaponized by Russia and Syria to destabilize Europe.

The Washington Post editorial board writes A new report describes Russia’s deception. The interference sounds just like Trump’s playbook:

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S lawlessness and nonstop lying about the matter of Ukraine have consumed Washington so completely that a new bipartisan report on Russian election interference has received less attention than it deserves. The kicker? The investigation directly contradicts the commander in chief’s fountain of falsehoods.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released the latest installment this week of its comprehensive review of the Kremlin’s systematic attempts to sway the 2016 vote. The top-line finding is this: The Internet Research Agency, whose efforts the committee assesses were directed and supported by the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, sought to harm Hillary Clinton and elevate Mr. Trump.


The Russians extended their reach beyond the online realm with rallies and spontaneous gatherings known as flash mobs, at one point attempting to draw a crowd in New York City by offering free hot dogs and at another paying participants to portray Ms.

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Whitewater Schools: The Search for a New District Administrator

The Whitewater Unified School District now finds itself in need of a new district administrator. To that end, the district released a brief statement two days after current administrator Dr. Mark Elworthy submitted his resignation:

On Tuesday, October 8, Dr. Mark Elworthy notified the Whitewater Unified School District that he plans to resign as District Administrator and that his last day in the district will be October 25, 2019.

The Whitewater Unified School District School Board thanks Dr. Elworthy for his three and a half years of service to our community. We wish Dr. Elworthy and his family all the best in their future endeavors.

The School Board is developing a plan to hire an interim District Administrator and plans to conduct a full search for a permanent District Administrator to lead our District as we work to fulfill our mission of inspiring and empowering students to achieve excellence in a safe, innovative and educational environment.

A few remarks:

First, Do No Harm. There has been, at least in some of our schools, a more humane and tolerant direction and ethos.  Those gains must not be lost; on the contrary, they are among the best actions this district has ever taken. (Note well: I mean this as written, literally and truly.  It is a defensible proposition.)  If finding someone as an interim (or later a permanent) replacement brings a reverse, this school board will have done far worse than merely having acted hastily.

 Awareness of Departures. There isn’t surprise in this. There are a limited number of administrative positions open in public school districts, and so those openings are public matters easily tracked (and often reported in their respective communities). One merely needs to be attentive.

 School Board Meeting, 10.7.19.  An embed of the open session portion of the 10.7.19 meeting appears above. As always, the best record is a recording.

  Palmyra-Eagle (video @ 1:34). What happens with the Palmyra-Eagle School District matters (dissolution, consolidation), and it makes sense to plan; it seems that contingency planning for outcomes with Palmyra-Eagle has been thorough (more thorough than would have been likely under previous budget managers).

That thoroughness should help this district focus on the primary concern of its own educational offerings and the conditions under which its students – whether few or many – go through their days.

 Particular Needs (video @ 11:11). One commits to what one should, both under the law and more importantly for what is right in a well-ordered, civilized community.

Markets.  So libertarians, as I am, and many others, believe in free markets in capital, goods, and labor.  People should be free to build, buy, and work with what or where they want, subject to the terms of any contracts they’ve signed. It’s not my role – and it never will be – to represent a government administrator, but one wishes Dr. Elworthy and his family the best in all that awaits. If they should love a place half so much as one loves Whitewater, then they shall be fortunate, indeed.

As for our small and beautiful city, there is much work ahead.

Daily Bread for 10.11.19

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will see rain with a high of sixty.  Sunrise is 7:04 AM and sunset 6:18 PM, for 11h 14m 18s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 94.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand sixty-seventh day.

On this day in 1939, Pres. Roosevelt receives the Einstein–Szilárd letter, warning that Germany might develop atomic bombs and that America should start its own atomic bomb program.

Recommended for reading in full:

George Will writes The spiraling president adds self-impeachment to his repertoire:

Trump’s gross and comprehensive incompetence now increasingly impinges upon the core presidential responsibility. This should, but will not, cause congressional Republicans to value their own and their institution’s dignity and exercise its powers more vigorously than they profess fealty to Trump. He has issued a categorical refusal to supply witnesses and documents pertinent to the House investigation of whether he committed an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine. This refusal, which is analogous to an invocation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, justifies an inference of guilt. Worse, this refusal attacks our constitutional regime. So, the refusal is itself an impeachable offense.

Devlin Barrett, John Wagner, and Rosalind S. Helderman report Two business associates of Trump’s personal attorney Giuliani have been arrested on campaign finance charges:

Two associates of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani have been arrested on charges they schemed to funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians while trying to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations, according to a newly unsealed indictment.

The two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had been helping Giuliani investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden, were arrested Wednesday evening at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, where they had one-way tickets on a flight out of the country, officials said.

Elaina Plott writes The Mystery of Rudy Giuliani’s Vienna Trip (‘President Trump’s personal lawyer told me he was planning to fly to Vienna roughly 24 hours after his business associates were arrested as they prepared to do the same’):

Last night, when Rudy Giuliani told me he couldn’t get together for an interview, his reason made sense: As with many nights of late, he was due to appear on Hannity. When I suggested this evening instead, his response was a bit more curious. We would have to aim for lunch, Giuliani told me, because he was planning to fly to Vienna, Austria, at night. He didn’t offer any details beyond that.

Giuliani called me at 6:22 p.m. last night—around the same time that two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested at Dulles Airport while waiting to board an international flight with one-way tickets. As The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon, the two men were bound for Vienna. The Florida businessmen, who are reported to have assisted Giuliani in his alleged efforts to investigate Joe Biden and his family ahead of the 2020 election, were charged with campaign-finance violations, with prosecutors alleging that they had conspired to funnel money from a Russian donor into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

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Candidate Fitzgerald: On Guns

It’s often the case that bad goes to worse, and that’s true for the WISGOP. The Fifth Congressional District, now represented by Thurston Howell III F. James Sensenbrenner, a gerrymandered, septuagenarian multi-millionaire who votes with Trump almost all the time, may have a new and worse Republican congressman. State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, who in 2016 often sang a Trump train song, wants to represent the House district in which Whitewater is wrongly located.

Fitzgerald, of whom I have been critical in the past (for good reason:1, 2, 3), now has something to say about guns. Unsurprisingly, for a man who shows neither knowledge nor intellect, what Fitzgerald recently said amounts to ignorant error.

About universal background checks one reads that

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was asked to weigh in on the topic in a Sept. 22, 2019, appearance on WISN-TV’s “UpFront.” He said he didn’t see any momentum for red flag laws, then pivoted, unprompted, to the other gun control flashpoint.

“Universal background checks, too,” said the Juneau Republican, who recently announced he is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I mean, any time you’re going to ask somebody to submit the serial numbers to their guns to a state or federal official, it’s going to violate the Second Amendment.”

This raises some questions wort examining. People can disagree on whether universal background checks are a good idea (polling shows most Wisconsinites think so), but we should at least be able to agree on what they are.

Fitzgerald’s wrong about this:

this brings us to the last element of Fitzgerald’s claim — that submitting serial numbers to government officials violates the Second Amendment.

Courts have said that isn’t true.

Six states and the District of Columbia already require registration of some or all firearms, according to the Giffords Law Center.

“These state laws have been in place for decades and have not been overturned on the grounds that they violate an individual’s Second Amendment rights,” said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “Nothing in any Supreme Court ruling to date would suggest that a government requirement that gun owners provide serial numbers for the guns they purchase or own to government officials violates the Second Amendment.”

For example, a challenge to the Washington, D.C. registration requirement in 2015 was largely upheld by a federal appeals court. The ruling stripped away some elements of the law but left untouched the basic requirement that guns be registered.

There’s a difference in understanding between those of us who support Second Amendment rights and an ignorant band who simply declare – apart from law and history – that these rights are whatever they say these rights are.

The one thing worse than Fitzgerald’s singing is his thinking.

Daily Bread for 10.10.19

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see light afternoon showers with a high of seventy.  Sunrise is 7:03 AM and sunset 6:20 PM, for 11h 17m 09s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 89.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand sixty-sixth day.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 5:30 PM

On this day in 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns after pleading no contest on this same day to a felony charge of tax evasion.

One can listen to a fine podcast, Bag Man, that recounts Agnew’s financial corruption and downfall.

Recommended for reading in full:

 Keith E. Whittington writes Must the House Vote to Authorize an Impeachment Inquiry?:

But what counts as an “official impeachment inquiry,” and what is required to move forward with one? House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a letter to Pelosi asking her to “suspend” the impeachment inquiry until “transparent and equitable rules and procedures” could be put in place and a floor vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry could be taken. Pelosi responded that no vote was necessary. Now White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has written to Pelosi informing her that the administration will not cooperate with the House’s “constitutionally invalid” impeachment inquiry, in part because the House had not voted “to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step” or provided the president with “due process protections.”

Is it constitutionally acceptable for the House speaker to initiate an impeachment “by means of nothing more than a press conference”? In short, yes.

The constitutional text on this issue is spare. The Constitution simply says that the House has the sole power of impeachment. Ultimately, if the House wants to impeach someone, it needs to muster a simple majority in support of articles of impeachment that can be presented to the Senate. How the House gets there is entirely up to the chamber itself to determine. There is no constitutional requirement that the House take two successful votes on impeachment, one to authorize some kind of inquiry and one to ratify whatever emerges from that inquiry. An impeachment inquiry is not “invalid” because there has been no vote to formally launch it, and any eventual impeachment would not be “invalid” because the process that led to it did not feature a floor vote authorizing a specific inquiry.

Of course, the House’s own rules might require such a vote, and the House must follow its own rules until it chooses to change them. But there is no rule requiring such an authorizing vote, and neither McCarthy nor Cipollone points to one. The House has changed its internal procedures dramatically over time. At one point, the House did not rely on standing committees but instead created select committees to handle many legislative tasks. Through much of its history, the House has limited the investigatory powers of its standing committees and required that those committees go to the floor to receive special authorization to issue subpoenas or spend substantial resources on staff. It no longer does so, and so it no longer needs to take such votes to specially authorize particular investigations.

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Gazette Story on Whitewater’s District Administrator: Omission & Innuendo

Yesterday morning, I posted on Whitewater School District administrator Dr. Mark Elworthy’s decision to take a position with the St. Francis School District.  See On Changes at the Whitewater Unified School District.  Last night, the Janesville Gazette published a story on the topic. See Whitewater’s Elworthy named interim superintendent for St. Francis School District.

The Gazette’s story (Beleckis, reporter; Schwartz, editor) is hobbled by omission & innunedo.  First the omission, then the innuendo —

Omission.  The Gazette’s story describes Elworthy as a candidate at two positions before his selection at St. Francis, but anyone following Whitewater carefully would have known that Elworthy was an applicant at three districts beforehand.  This matters because it shows an application process both longer and more extensive than the Gazette reports.

Innuendo.  Immediately following mention of Elworthy’s applications elsewhere, the Gazette story mentions the resignation of the district’s athletic director:

Elworthy came under criticism in recent months related to the departure of the district’s athletic director, Jim Pease, who said he was forced out over a disagreement with Elworthy over funding repairs for the gymnastics team’s floor. Documents show the district denied allegations Pease and his attorney made.

The implication is that the district administrator’s departure relates materially to the athletic director’s resignation.

No, and no again.  Anyone observing the district with discernment knew that Elworthy was a candidate elsewhere long before the departure of that athletic director.  (It’s the Gazette’s own story about the former athletic director, as much as any city discussion, that fomented criticism.)

Funnier still is the reporter’s note that “[f]urther details on Elworthy’s status in Whitewater were not immediately clear late Tuesday night, and an attempt to reach Elworthy was unsuccessful.”

Oh, brother: The Gazette’s reporter was late to this story, as he may have had no idea about developments in this matter, and while chasing a topic he makes it seem that no one could be reached. Those who pay closer attention don’t have to cast aspersions about what’s ‘not immediately clear’ or about ‘unsuccessful’ communication attempts.

It takes less work to slide into town and write a story-teller’s essay about a single topic than it does to follow events closely. See School Board, 9.16.19: Applicant Interviews and Reporting (“After this meeting, a reporter (Beleckis, Jonah) for the Janesville Gazette wrote a brief and low-information story about the meeting. See Whitewater School Board’s newest member says he can be a liaison for Latino community. His newspaper uses the motto ‘Local Matters,’ but Whitewater’s local didn’t matter much to the reporter: he didn’t take the time to list all the applicants’ names, the questions they answered, or even tell which two applicants made it to the final round.”)

Best guess: this is an unmentored reporter, with an editor who thinks readers don’t deserve better.

One doesn’t have to be a reporter or editor to see these deficiencies.

One needs only to be a discerning reader.

Daily Bread for 10.9.19

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy.  Sunrise is 7:01 AM and sunset 6:21 PM, for 11h 19m 59s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 83.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand sixty-fifth day.

On this day in 1975, Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov wins the Nobel Peace Prize: “In a convincing manner Sakharov has emphasized that Man’s inviolable rights provide the only safe foundation for genuine and enduring international cooperation.”

Recommended for reading in full:

Karoun Demirjian, Karoun Demirjian, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris, and John Wagner report White House escalates standoff with Congress, says it will not cooperate with impeachment inquiry of Trump:

In a scathing eight-page letter, the White House said the inquiry into the Ukraine scandal was without merit, complained that the president has been denied his due process rights and argued that Democrats were intent on overturning the results of the 2016 election and influencing the 2020 contest.

“To fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances,” White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone wrote to top congressional Democrats.

In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled that Democrats were undeterred and would move ahead with their investigation focused on Trump’s pressure on a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a domestic political rival.

“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”

The White House letter, which lacked substantive legal arguments and echoed Trump’s political broadsides, capped a day of defiance and challenges as House Democrats have tried to force recalcitrant administration officials to divulge potentially incriminating information over Republican objections. But it also highlights the limitations of Democrats’ ability to exercise their oversight authority in the face of an administration that appears unfazed by flouting subpoenas.

(Emphasis added.)

Kevin Poulsen reports RealClear Media Has a Secret Facebook Page to Push Far-Right Memes:

The company behind the non-partisan news site RealClearPolitics has been secretly running a Facebook page filled with far-right memes and Islamophobic smears, The Daily Beast has learned.

Called “Conservative Country,” the Facebook page was founded in 2014 and now boasts nearly 800,000 followers for its mix of Donald Trump hagiography and ultra-conservative memes. One recent post showed a man training two assault rifles at a closed door with the caption “Just sitting here waiting on Beto.” Others wink at right-wing conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s “ties to Islam” or the Clintons having their enemies killed, or portray Muslim members of Congress as terrorist infiltrators. The page is effusive with praise for Vladimir Putin, and one post portrays Russia as the last bastion of freedom in Europe.

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On Changes at the Whitewater Unified School District

One reads this morning that the Whitewater Unified School District’s administrator, Dr. Mark Elworthy, has taken a position with the St. Francis School District, and will be leaving shortly. One wishes him, and his family, truly the best in his new role.

It would be tragic for this district – and a call to action – if the more humane and tolerant educational approach of recent years in the district were to be lost.

Even in these years that I have been writing, since 2007, Whitewater has had four district administrators, four university chancellors, two city managers, three chiefs of police, with dozens of other officials having come and gone.

There’s no single reason for all of these departures, although almost all of them have taken place after the Great Recession made plain – to the reasonable and clear-eyed – that Old Whitewater’s way of doing things was narrow-minded, counter-productive, and directed toward the self-aggrandizement of a few entitled (but sadly mediocre) long-time town notables.

Trumpism Brings Economic Decline

It was supposed to be jobs, jobs, jobs for the WEDC and miniature versions of it like the Whitewater Community Development Authority.

Gosh darn it, the former chairman of the Whitewater CDA even thanked (in person!) multimillionaire gerrymandered congressman F. James Sensenbrenner for part of the Trump tax bill.

And yet, and yet, one reads that Wisconsin’s economy is heading in the wrong direction. Michael Schmidt reports Uncertainty growing in Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector as survey finds job cuts:

A preliminary government employment survey found Wisconsin manufacturers employed 5,200 fewer people in August compared with a year earlier — the largest year-over-year decline since the last recession.

Finalized job numbers won’t be available until next spring, but Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, said many in the manufacturing industry — which represents nearly 16% of the the state’s workforce — are feeling a squeeze brought on by the nation’s trade disputes with China, the European Union, Mexico and Canada. A slowing economy and workforce challenges also are factors, he added.

Live by Trumpism, decline by Trumpism.

Daily Bread for 10.8.19

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of sixty-five.  Sunrise is 7:00 AM and sunset 6:23 PM, for 11h 22m 51s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 75.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand sixty-fourth day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets in at 6 PM.

On this day in 1871, the Peshtigo Fire kills over a thousand:

On this date Peshtigo, Wisconsin was devastated by a fire which took 1,200 lives. The fire caused over $2 million in damages and destroyed 1.25 million acres of forest. This was the greatest human loss due to fire in the history of the United States.

Recommended for reading in full:

Dan Balz and Scott Clement report Majority of Americans say they endorse opening of House impeachment inquiry of Trump:

The findings indicate that public opinion has shifted quickly against the president and in favor of impeachment proceedings in recent weeks as information has been released about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian government officials to undertake an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign rival, and Biden’s son Hunter.

Previous Post-Schar School or Post-ABC News polls taken at different points throughout this year found majorities of Americans opposing the start of an impeachment proceeding, with 37 percent to 41 percent saying they favored such a step. The recent revelations appear to have prompted many Americans to rethink their position.

Jeffrey Toobin observes Donald Trump’s Ukraine Scandal Has Its Roots in Russia:

But the Russia and Ukraine scandals are, in fact, one story. Indeed, the President’s false denials in both of them capture the common themes: soliciting help from foreign interests for partisan gain, followed by obstruction of efforts to uncover what happened. Both, too, share roots in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Mueller’s two indictments of Russian interests—the first involving the use of social media and the second the hacking of Democratic Party e-mails—are perhaps the most detailed chronicle ever published of foreign interference in a U.S. political campaign. Trump’s team was appreciative. When a public-relations adviser to a Russian oligarch’s family e-mailed Donald Trump, Jr., offering dirt on Hillary Clinton that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” the candidate’s son gave a straightforward reply: “If it’s what you say I love it.”

Just two years earlier, Putin had invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The government in Kiev went back and forth between leaders who wanted to accommodate Putin’s regime and others who wanted to enlist the help of the West to push back against it. The political consultant of choice for the pro-Russian faction was Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chair in the summer of 2016. As Mueller documented, Manafort passed proprietary campaign polling data to pro-Russian Ukrainians. The campaign-era Trump portrayed in the report suffered from one major limitation: he wasn’t President. He clearly welcomed Putin’s assistance, and promised a better relationship with Russia, but he was still just a businessman from New York. The whistle-blower’s complaint is the epilogue to Mueller’s report: the coming of age of an aspiring colluder.

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