I’ve had the suspicion for some time that even though the FBI may not be able to prove that Trump colluded with Russia himself, there’s an awful lot of evidence piling up that Page, Manafort, and Stone did. For example, Roger Stone has admitted to talking with Guccifer 2.0 (I know that I’m a McCarthyite red-baiter for stating these facts, of course). So I guess the plan will be to say that the people currently running Trump’s White House — Preibus, Bannon, Kushner etc. — had nothing do with it, and it was all the fault of a few marginal bad apple rogues:
“You had Sam Clovis, God bless him, who tried to put together an advisory group of people,” the official said. “Then you have the whole Manafort-Ukraine thing and Roger Stone running around doing whatever Roger Stone is doing.” He added, “This campaign, early on, had a lot of marginalia associated with it. Guys like Carter Page, Roger Stone. I have no earthly idea what those guys have been up to, right?”[….]
The White House official’s attempt to separate Trump from the “marginal” figures who once ran Trump’s campaign isn’t likely to work. Later in the day, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, echoed this spin publicly when he claimed that Manafort played a “limited role for a very limited amount of time” in the campaign. In fact, Manafort worked for Trump for six months last year, from March to August, the crucial period in which Trump secured the Republican nomination and fended off potential challenges at the G.O.P. Convention.
But the larger takeaway from the White House’s spin is that the top people around Trump may have no idea how much exposure the President has on the issue of Russian collusion.
I have no idea how much it will hurt Trump if it can be proved that Stone or Manafort or Page had some quid pro quo with the Ruskies. Chris Christie isn’t in jail for Bridgegate. But his approval rating sure is low.