Monday, February 26, 2018

OPINION - Brooks and Marcus 2/23/2018

"Brooks and Marcus on Florida school shooting rage, Rick Gates’ guilty plea" PBS NewsHour 2/23/2018


SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the plea deal cut between Robert Mueller and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s lack of a White House security clearance and the reaction to the Florida school shooting from students and political leadership.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  Now to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus.  That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus.  Mark Shields is away.

And welcome to both of you on this Friday night.

Let’s start, pick up I guess where we left off, David, listening to the last conversation about the Mueller investigation.  There have been a flurry of indictments, some guilty pleas.

What does it all add up to right now?

David Brooks, New York Times:  I really have no idea.


David Brooks:  We don’t know — Gates is an interesting story because he did have access to the administration during the crucial period of the transition and during the campaign.  And does he have some witnessing of collusion?  I guess that’s the million-dollar question.

I remain a skeptic about that just, because I think they’re too incompetent to have colluded.  But it could be.  But the other interesting thing to me is how big this investigation is, 19 people they have brought charges on.  And so where does that go when they hit Donald Trump?

Do they stay with Russia?  Do they go to some of the broader financial issues that have been alleged with Deutsche Bank?  To me, just the scope of the investigation is interesting because where it could go and for the increasing pressure it puts on the Trump psychology, because he seems to never be able to get out of feeling that pressure just coming down upon him.

Judy Woodruff:  What do you think it all…


Ruth Marcus, Washington Post:  Well, truer words were never spoken about the Trump psychology.

I mean, we saw it emerge over the weekend with the indictments you were talking about last Friday night of — not central to the Trump campaign, but involving the Russian interference.  And he couldn’t leave that alone, needed to blame it on his predecessor, needed to say that it showed no collusion, that they concluded no collusion, when they hadn’t.

This latest set of indictments and guilty pleas with Manafort and Gates, I find extremely tantalizing, because I’m not quite as convinced as you are on the no collusion front.  It sort of depends on the meaning of collusion, because what we know from these indictments is that these were people who were working very closely with Russian interests.

At the time they were working with the campaign, they felt themselves — it’s incredible to anybody who reads about the amount of money they were making, but they were in financial straits.  They needed money to support their incredibly lavish lifestyles.

Judy Woodruff:  This is Manafort and Gates.

Ruth Marcus:  Manafort and Gates.

And so we know things happened.  We know there were contacts with Russians.  We know that there were changes in the platform regarding Ukraine.  So, was there collusion that might have fallen short of President Trump?  I don’t know.

But I know that there is, like, this submarine of the Mueller investigation that just keeps plowing forward.  We don’t see where it’s going until it decides to surface.

Judy Woodruff:  How much, David, is it affecting what the President’s able to do?  He brings it up.  He tweets about it.  He brings up Obama, blames him for not pursuing this investigation.

David Brooks:  Yes.

I should say I’m not convinced of anything.  I really don’t know.


David Brooks:  But it’s clearly having an intense psychological effect on the administration, as it does on even on — even on a normal administration under investigation, you don’t know who’s about to turn, you don’t know which conversation you had months ago is about to get you into trouble, you’re thinking about hiring lawyers.

This is an administration that’s already not an happy place to live.  It just ratchets up that pressure.  And that is a normal administration.  In an administration where a man is at the top who is — I’m trying to think of polite words — volatile in the face of pressure, I think it makes it extremely miserable to be there.

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