The Trickle Down is Salute Magazine‘s weekly column by Political Writer Amanda Godula. The Trickle Down is a weekly look into what’s need-to-know, fresh takes on trends, and the inevitable controversies from the political arena. Let’s dig in and see what’s happening this week.
Arpaio is a distraction from Russia – stay focused.
Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced he’s running for Arizona’s seat in the U.S. Senate. His announcement comes hours after a damaging dossier relating to the Trump/Russia investigation was made public.
Coincidental timing? Doubtful. Arpaio is a distraction from the real story – the Trump-Russia probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Distractions have been prevalent every time a Trump-Russia story emerges.
Let’s look at a few times where Trump’s actions may have orchestrated.
In March 2017, just a few months after Trump’s inauguration, then FBI Director James Comey testified that the intelligence community believed Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s campaign/administration was also being investigated. Days later, House Intelligence committee member Rep. Devin Nunes claimed Trump’s staff was targeted for surveillance; in which a group Nunes himself was included.
“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” Nunes told reporters. “It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.”
This shifted some focus from Trump’s team being the investigation’s focus, to, “Was Trump’s team unfairly surveilled?”
In May 2017,Comey is fired amidst the Russian investigation, which includes members of Trump’s administration. The media reported that Trump requested Comey to let go of his investigation into then National Security Director Michael Flynn and his Russian ties. Trump tweets alleging he may have “tapes” of his and Comey’s conversations.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
With then Press Secretary Sean Spicer refusal to confirm if there were tapes, the conversation shifted to, “Are there tapes and what do they say?”
Later in May 2017, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was selected as Special Counsel to further investigate Russia and the Trump campaign. After getting hammered in headlines, a few days later, Trump slammed NATO’s financial responsibility to the U.S. in a speech. It was later reported that the speech given was not cleared and Trump personally amended the speech without the OK of top security members.
This shows Trump’s personal decision to create bigger headlines and what the media reported on, without his administration’s approval.
And the one that may show a habit of using Arpaio came in August 2017. In very late July and early August, the headlines focused on Trump giving misleading statements about his son’s questionable interactions with individuals with Russian ties. Later in August, Arpaio was pardoned after being found guilty of ignoring a judge’s ruling in 2011. Trump pushed his controversial immigration agenda with the Arpaio pardon. Trump took it further adn explained how Arpaio’s a “patriot”.
“He’s done a great job for the people of Arizona. He’s very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration. He is loved in Arizona. I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly,” Trump said. “Sheriff Joe is a patriot.”
The conversation shifted from Russia to, “Strong border protection and immigration control”, reinforcing campaign talk.
Now, Russia is in the headlines again.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported Mueller likely wants to interview Trump about Russian connections. The next day, Arpaio’s announcement for Senate happened.
Arpaio is a pawn in the game of Trump’s distraction techniques. One that seems timely, but is meant to keep people from watching the Russia investigation closely.
So, if that is the case, here’s a reminder of something every American should read: the full 312 page transcript Sen. Dianne Feinstein released. The transcript is of Judicial testimony on the Steele dossier linking Trump’s ties with Russia. (The dossier was compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who was hired to do opposition research on Trump during the 2016 presidential election.)
“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public,” Feinstein said in her press release.
The release was unplanned by Democrats and a unilateral move by Feinstein.
Cheers to Dianne Feinstein besting Trump at his own game, but keeping Americans informed on the Russia investigation. This Trump-Russia stuff isn’t normal. Don’t let the dishonorable Arpaio be the distraction.