Friday, June 23, 2017

Viewpoint: The Tangled Web

The first time I heard the phrase was in grade school. It’s one of those statements in and out of time. A kind of spiritual truth with eternal implications. “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” It’s actually a quote from a play called “Marmion” by Sir Walter Scott. The words are spoken by a character reflecting on a love triangle and how complicated life gets when folks resort to lying.

Like an echo from a distant past the thought dances in my mind whenever I see or hear good journalism about investigations into President Trump’s real or perceived Russian connection.
The question is and will always be what did Candidate and now President Trump know and when.

Evidence is building with the Washington Post’s reporting of a secret meeting arranged by the Arab Emirates in January between Blackwater Founder Erik Prince, a $250,000 contributor to Trump’s Presidential Campaign, “and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin.” The meeting was apparently “part of an effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Trump” The information reportedly comes from unnamed U. S. European and Arab officials.

The meeting appears to have taken place 9 days before Trump’s inauguration somewhere “in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. Apparently the purpose was to get Russia to “curtail its relationship with Iran.” In return the report indicates possible concessions of U.S. Sanctions.

Connecting these dots has led to the FBI “scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in last year’s Presidential election” as well as ties between Trump and close associates of Putin. The President’s spokesperson Sean Spicer says the administration isn’t aware of the 2 day meeting. His continuing attempts to call this “fake news” ring more hollow every day.

The secrecy behind such meetings and the fact the Obama Administration was not notified adds to a deceptive tone surrounding so many alleged connections. Adding this behavior to a growing list of contacts between close associates of both leaders raises a “preponderance” of circumstantial evidence that’s tangling the Trump administration deeper in a web of suspicion as each day passes.

The administration’s defensive reaction to legitimate questions places the President’s credibility further under a thickening cloud of suspicion. Reportedly, the meetings were dropped, abandoned leaving more questions than answers. Questions like: Why would a U.S. Presidential Administration go to such back channel lengths to foster a relationship with a historic Communist adversary?

The absence of common sense is startling. The sloppy efforts at making contact leaves the impression they either didn’t care about Intelligence surveillance or didn’t know it was taking place. Either way the country has good reason to question the common sense and judgement of anybody involved.
This thought is mind boggling. There’s no way the Former National Security Advisor to the President should not know his conversations with high ranking Russian Diplomats were being recorded.

The only thing to conclude from this kind of tangled web of insanity is that Trump never really expected to win. Could it be, because of that erroneous conclusion, the Trump campaign decided to try and make money by strengthening ties with the Putin Government? The inconvenience may be that he won. Could it be that detail has brought to light all kinds of connections that were never supposed to see the light of day?

This tangled web Trump has gotten himself caught in is purely self imposed. Had he not “first practiced to deceive” the public, intelligence agencies, congress and everybody else he might get the benefit of the doubt.

But growing suspicion and doubt is about all that’s left for a President whose deceptive self promotion continues to tangle him in the worst growing web of controversy since Watergate.

Dennis Edwards is the Interim-Pastor of Richmond’s Historic 4th Baptist Church. He is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist, a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

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