Trump Russia figures reveal their new “red line” is treason


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For the better part of the past year, we’ve heard Donald Trump and his associates consistently insist that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia. That’s not even a criminal term, but it’s nonetheless the red line that Team Trump has drawn when it comes to their collective defense: “Sure we had all these suspicious meetings and communications with the Russian government during the election, and we’ve told so many lies to try to cover it up, but we didn’t actually collude with them.” Now they appear to be consciously moving the goalposts to a new red line: treason.

It began when Trump’s longtime close friend Roger Stone appeared on cable news last week to insist that he didn’t conspire with the Russians about the election, because doing so would have been treason. Then Trump’s longtime business partner Felix Sater appeared on MSNBC tonight and insisted that he’s no traitor.

Sater is a convicted Russian mafia money launderer. What everyone wants to know is if his real estate deals with Donald Trump, including the notorious Trump SoHo project, were also fronts for Russian money laundering, and if Trump himself was involved. No one is asking Sater if he committed treason, but that seems to be the point of his defense: whatever this was, it wasn’t treason. In other words, now that everyone can see that the uppermost reaches of the Trump campaign were indeed “colluding” (and worse) with Russia during the election, they’re retreating to a new red line.

The upshot is that there’s no longer any further they can retreat with their partial denials. They can’t later say “Sure we committed treason, but at least it wasn’t something even worse.” It’s also notable that while the previous Team Trump party line was that no one colluded with the Russians, these guys are now simply insisting that they personally didn’t commit treason.

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