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Hillary Again Stumps Trump On Russia While Trump's Troops Botch Comeback

Meanwhile US-Russia tensions are being pushed to the brink

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd to Trump campaign manager Paul J. Manafort:

"What was your role in the Republican platform's call for bombing North Korea?"

<figcaption>Hillary is winning this one</figcaption>
Hillary is winning this one

Manafort to Todd: "I had none."

What's the takeaway from this hypothetical conversation? Manafort validated Todd's assertion that there is a plan for bombing, while claiming to have had no part in it. But the facts show there never was any such plan in the first place. Todd asked a trick question, and Manafort fell for it.

That pseudo-conversation illustrates what just happened in real life.

The subject is not North Korea, but Ukraine and the recent Clinton allegations that Trump is in cahoots with Vladimir Putin.

Huffington Post ran the headline, "Trump Pushed for GOP to Change Ukraine Position." This supports the ongoing Clinton suggestion that Trump is tainted by his alleged connections with Vladimir Putin. HuffPost went on to say, "The pro-Russia change was the only party platform tweak the Trump camp cared about, sources say."

By the way, I told Huffington Post that I could find no primary source for the issues their story raises, and asked if they have one. There was no immediate response.

Now to the true-life interaction between Manafort and Todd: Sunday morning, July 31, Manafort appeared with Todd on Meet the Press. Todd brought up the platform issue of sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine.

He asked, "How much influence did you have on changing that language?"

Manafort answered, "I had none."

Bingo. That's the same trick from the North Korea analogy. It's almost like the old "when did you stop beating your wife?" joke question. Todd set up a false premise and cast an aspersion of Manafort's complicity.

But, instead of denying the legitimacy of the premise, Manafort's first response was to deny his culpability. In doing so, he validated the false premise.

Manafort added, "In fact I didn’t even hear about it until after our convention was over." Again, another validation of the false premise.

What Manafort should have told Todd right off the bat is: "There was no such change in the platform."

This Meet the Press exchange is covered in an August 1 TMP story titled "Changed GOP Platform on Ukraine." While this article piles-on Manafort over Todd's allegations, it also, perhaps unwittingly, sabotage's the Todd-TMP premise of a platform change.

TMP references a July 18 Washington Post article by Josh Rogin as its source, and summarizes:

"When a platform committee member offered an amendment to the platform that called for supporting Ukraine, members of the Trump campaign who were not members of the committee jumped in to edit the amendment, Rogin reported. They stripped language from the amendment saying the U.S. should help Ukraine by 'providing lethal defensive weapons' and instead wrote that America should offer 'appropriate assistance.'"

Do you see the flaw in the Todd-TMP argument? An amendment was offered to inject a call for sending lethal weaponry. Trump didn't have the platform changed. It didn't call for lethal weapons in the first place. Someone else tried and failed to make a change to add such a call.

What's more, it seems like the Trump camp worked to strike up a compromise instead of outright defeating the proposed amendment.

Based on the TMP report it sounds like the amendment would politically mandate sending deadly weapons. The compromise amendment calls for offering "appropriate assistance." Logically if sending lethal weaponry should show itself as appropriate, it would be permissible.

The original proposal was to send the weapons whether they were appropriate or not at any given time. What a dangerous condition that would have created. Thank goodness a compromise was worked out.

Manafort is a sharp, experienced guy. But he's sure blowing it when it comes to the Russia issue.

Actually Manafort is Paul J. Manafort, Jr. He grew up in the city where I live. I knew his late father. He was a popular former mayor. We have a street named after him, "Paul Manafort Drive." I can remember sitting with the senior Manafort one presidential election night years ago in front of a TV. "PJ" had tipped him off to the time when he would be speaking on a national broadcast network. Paul Sr. was proudly awaiting the appearance of PJ.

I think it's sad to see that PJ is unsuccessfully handling the challenges the Clinton campaign are throwing him over Russia. Perhaps Manafort has poor staff support in this area.

Nonetheless we still see the specious Clinton allegations, Todd's successful attempt to put Manafort in a compromised position, and also TMP's me-too article. Lies, lies, lies, everwhere lies.

The Trump team seems to be the only truthful player here. Yet Trump is getting his clock cleaned over Russia.

This Clinton gamesmanship continues to push the US-Russia relationship dangerously toward the brink. I think the most effective way to halt that nonsense is to turn the issue back around on Clinton. That should be done. It can be done. But no one's doing it. Alas.

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