In July, Donald Trump said he’d never spoken to Vladimir Putin.
Sure, he hadn’t. Except that in 2014 he said he had — spoken with Putin “indirectly and directly” when in Russia on Miss Universe business.
Well, who you gonna believe? Donald Trump or Donald Trump?
We understand: Having had a talk with Putin could slip the mind of one so globally powerful as a civilian that, on the campaign trail, Trump’s son Donald Jr. would say that the presidency would be a step down.
Still, this curious nugget of narrative involving Trump and Russia assumes more significance with each day.
What did he know? When did he know it? Richard Nixon said he knew nothing.
One lie. One presidency down the toilet.
At this point, Team Trump has delighted at batting truth around like a shuttlecock without penalty. Lying can be fun and come without political cost.
Fun and games, yes, but one subpoena – one – would empty this White House like a pizza delivered with anchovies and anthrax.
If we recall: In only a few instances did actual “high crimes” put Nixon’s men behind bars and Nixon himself on a chopper out of town. What put them there was knowing and lying.
Right now National Security Adviser Mike Flynn is pulling a Trump: saying one thing, then another.
Multiple sources confirmed for the Washington Post that before Trump was employed by you and me, Flynn, via phone, told Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that the Trump administration would relieve Russia of those pesky sanctions imposed by President Obama over Russia’s meddling in our election.
Nyet to worry.
Now, who you gonna believe? First, Flynn said he never said that. Now he says he can’t recall. It’s a meaty thing to slip one’s mind, since it’s a crime.
If he did it, he broke the Logan Act, which forbids civilians from doing foreign policy.
If true, it would be stunningly Nixonian. In 1968, before taking office as president, Nixon contacted South Vietnam’s government to head off any last-minute peace agreement by the Johnson administration.
Having broken the law, Nixon’s presidency should have ended before it began.
Trump’s presidency is a month old, and already there are enough plausible concerns of high crimes involving Russia to rev up the helicopter.
Trump’s glowing statements about Putin, his smirking dismissal of what the CIA labeled “an influence campaign . . . to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” say more than words ever could, even if we could trust a word he utters.
Oh, and Flynn didn’t phone Russia just once. Reuters reports he called Kislyak five times the day of the sanctions.
What did Trump know? “Plausible deniability” was a catch phrase from Iran-Contra, a scandal that put a batch of Republican schemers in prison for waging a secret war and financing it in part by selling arms to a terrorist nation. The deniability was the sculpting of operations to insulate President Reagan from knowingly illegal deeds.
Right now Trump’s front men are trying to insulate. They say that whatever Flynn might have done, Trump knew nothing.
Subpoena them. Hands on the Bible for the second time in a few days. Subpoena those tax records first.
Team Trump would have us believe that Flynn was a lone wolf. That seems quite implausible.
By the way, though Trump apparently can’t recall having met with Putin, the fact is that Flynn, after he was fired as Obama’s head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, flew to Russia and, according to NPR, appeared on Russia’s state-run propaganda arm, RT.
Citizens, insist on the truth. What was the pre-election relationship between Trump and Putin? We won’t get the truth without subpoenas. Sen. McCain, duty calls.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.