Trump’s Moral Holiday

The Florida-based Republican, Aaron Nevins, received and published Russian-hacked material—and in return, advised the hackers how to release their material to increase its damage to Democratic candidates. Nevins was not himself a high-ranking person in the Republican world. But the information Nevins obtained from Guccifer 2.0 was used by other Republican campaigns, including the national Republican congressional effort and Paul Ryan’s own super PAC. The earlier claim that Republicans were purely passive and unwitting beneficiaries of Russian espionage in the 2016 election has now been pierced.

In at least one instance, the cooperation was active, conscious, and initiated on the American side, not the Russian: collusion, in a word.

.. At the time, Kushner had already spent months trying to arrange fresh financing for a troubled building his family owns, 666 Fifth Avenue.

After one of those meetings, Kislyak arranged a meeting between Kushner and Sergey Gorkov, the powerful chief executive of a major Russian bank, Vnesheconombank, also known as VEB.

The U.S. had imposed financial sanctions on VEB because of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military incursions in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. (During this period the Russians were also meeting with Flynn, Trump’s incoming national security adviser.)

VEB has close ties to the Kremlin, and Gorkov attended a training academy for members of Russia’s security and intelligence services. A Trump spokeswoman has described Kushner’s meetings with the Russians as routine, which they may have been given his role at the time as Trump’s liaison to foreign powers.

But given the significance of 666 Fifth Avenue to Kushner and his family’s fortunes, it’s also possible that he saw the Russians as potential investors.

.. A remarkable number of those talkers condoned the attack, either outright or by pointing to other bad things that have happened elsewhere on earth at various points in the past. Rush Limbaugh went furthest, theatrically condemning the attack—but denigrating the reporter as a “smug and arrogant” Millennial “pajama boy” (a hugely derisive term in the conservative political lexicon) and praising Gianforte as “manly and studly.” (It’s hard to miss in some of the commentary from Trump’s elderly base a nostalgic yearning for lost physical prowess—and intense resentment of the vitality of younger generations with different views.)

.. Half a century ago, conservative commentators often blamed the riots of the 1960s on the “moral holiday” declared by permissive authorities. Leaders who might have delegitimized violence instead acquiesced in it, thus inviting more of it. For many conservatives, May 25 was a moral holiday of their own.

.. These four events each represent one of the great themes of the Trump era:

  1. The anti-alliance pro-Russia tilt of administration policy
  2. Collusion with hostile foreign nations for domestic political advantage
  3. Use of political power for personal financial advantage
  4. The breakdown of inhibitions and the weakening of sanctions against political violence.

.. But Greg Gianforte is headed to Congress. Jared Kushner and Donald Trump will soon return to the West Wing. There, they’ll continue to deploy the powers of the presidency to protect themselves. They’ll leverage dark and dangerous forces in American society to help them. Someday, maybe, they will cease to get away with it. But not yet.

 

How Alleged Russian Hacker Teamed Up With Florida GOP Operative

Ten days later, Mr. Nevins received 2.5 gigabytes of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee documents, some of which he posted on a blog called HelloFLA.com that he ran using a pseudonym.

Soon after, the hacker sent a link to the blog article to Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, along with Mr. Nevins’ analysis of the hacked data.

 .. Later, going through what the hacker sent as someone who “actually knows what some of these documents mean,” the GOP consultant said he “realized it was a lot more than even Guccifer knew that he had.”The episode shows how the hacker’s activities extended to exposing Democrats’ get-out-the vote strategies in swing states and informing a Trump ally of hacked data during the national campaign.

.. He said he didn’t use any in his consulting business, which includes running grass-roots-style campaigns for corporations and wealthy landowners seeking to influence local politics.

.. More impressed after studying the voter-turnout models, Mr. Nevins told the hacker, “Basically if this was a war, this is the map to where all the troops are deployed.”At another point, he told the hacker, “This is probably worth millions of dollars.”

.. Democrats, Mr. Nevins wrote, “spent millions probably to figure out who these people are that are conducive to their message and now it’s exposed for the other side.”

..He isn’t convinced the Russians were behind it, Mr. Nevins said, but even if they were, it doesn’t matter to him because the agenda of the hackers seemed to match his own.“If your interests align,” he said, “never shut any doors in politics.”