What if he isn’t colluding, just clueless?

There is clearly a lot we don’t know about the role Russia’s intelligence agencies played in the 2016 election. Investigations continue, both in Congress and by US intelligence agencies. I haven’t seen much attention paid to one possible outcome of the investigations. What if it turns out that Trump himself didn’t actively collude with Putin or any foreign agencies seeking to influence the election. What if he was clueless about this as he is (sometimes intentionally) about many other things?

That’s Mark Cuban’s take, as he outlined in a series of tweets yesterday.

Cuban then goes on to speculate that Manafort and Flynn were recommended to Trump who brought them on without  much due diligence. This is plausible, Trump prides himself on making decisions based on “very little knowledge”. With the haphazard, home-grown nature of his campaign, it’s quite likely no one even knew what screening questions to ask when bringing people into the campaign.

Trump is clueless enough to have asked, during a campaign rally:

“Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Someone actively conspiring with Russian intelligence wouldn’t be expected to say that. It might however, be blurted out by a careless person who has associates whispering in their ear that another e-mail dump might help the campaign.

If the rot is limited to Manafort, Flynn and a couple of others in the Trump campaign orbit, then we need to temper our expectations of the result. Unless it’s clear that Trump himself colluded (like Nixon) on an electronic DNC break-in, it’s unlikely he’ll be forced to resign or impeached.

There is no process to remove a president who is lazy, uninformed, uninterested or vulnerable to psy-ops and social engineering by foreign agents. Congress can’t and won’t impeach a president for incompetence.

There is still a political benefit to such a result. It will damage Trump’s awful agenda further and dent his approval ratings even more. So, we should continue to push for thorough, independent investigations. But it is likely that all we end up with is a hobbled Trump presidency. That would still be a good result for 2018 and 2020, but it is bound to disappoint some who believe Trump’s not long for the White House.

FWIW, my own take is that the alt-right in general (Trump included) adores Putin because they see in him a like-minded strongman who has used the Russian equivalent of white-supremacist, Islamaphobic, Christianist rhetoric in a quest for power.