On this day four years ago, Roger Stone was exchanging direct messages with Guccifer 2.0, a fictitious composite character invented by Russian military intelligence to deflect blame for the hack of the Democrats’ national headquarters. It was the same day the New York Times reported that “a corrupt network… was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of… former President Viktor F. Yanukovych,” and that $12.7 million had been illegally paid to Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort. After the Times article was published, Manafort was quickly fired but Trump never truly broke with him.
The first weeks of August were highly consequential in 2016. Only later would it be obvious that Roger Stone’s sudden predictions that WikiLeaks would win the election for Trump were more than just bluster. On August 2, while Manafort was meeting with a Russian intelligence officer at the Grand Havana cigar club in Manhattan to discuss election data, Roger Stone was receiving information from Julian Assange through Jerome Corsi.
I don’t mention all of this to rehash the Russia investigation all over again, but to remind people to be vigilant while I’m on vacation next week. Pay attention to what you hear from Trump and his surrogates, because they may just tip their hand. The attack on the postal service is going on in plain sight and was covered extensively on MSNBC on Thursday evening. Nancy LeTourneau recently covered the most recent revelations of Russian interference in this election cycle, including the statement from Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a member of the Intelligence Committee, that the current efforts “make Moscow’s past interference and nefarious actions look like child’s play.”
There are many ways to cheat and play dirty at politics, and no one can anticipate or uncover everything. All I know is that four years ago at this time, the polls looked pretty good and it was hard to imagine that Donald Trump was headed to victory. But Trump, Stone and Manafort were working overtime to change that, and they were ultimately successful.
In some ways, I feel like this is a dangerous time to take a vacation because it seems like we let our guard down once before and paid dearly for it. Both Manafort and Stone were convicted of crimes, and Trump is not interested in sharing their fate, especially because no one will be there to intervene on his behalf and spring him from jail or commute his sentence.
So, please, while I’m gone, keep your eyeballs peeled for foul play. The fate of the election could be decided in mid-August, and we don’t want to learn about it a year or two from now.