NPR: “The Russia Investigations: An Unfinished Case Looks Weaker Than Ever” Russia Collusion Collapse

via NPR.org:

This week in the Russia investigations: Michael Cohen was sentenced to three yearsin prison … Maria Butina pleaded guilty … but the finish line looks no closer

The shifting sands

Political and legal danger for President Trump may be sharpening by the day, but the case that his campaign might have conspired with the Russian attack on the 2016 election looks weaker than ever.

Trump has been implicated in ordering a scheme to silence two women ahead of Election Day in 2016 about the alleged sexual relationships they had with him years before.

That is a serious matter, or it might have been in other times, but it is decidedly not a global conspiracy with a foreign power to steal the election.

More broadly, the president and his supporters say, the payments to the women in 2016 are penny ante stuff: Breaking campaign finance law, if that did take place, isn’t like committing murder, said one lawyer for the president.

The “biased” Justice Department is just grasping at straws to use something against Trump because it hasn’t been able to locate a “smocking gun,” as Trump wrote this week, that would tie his campaign in with Russia’s active measures in 2016.

There’s an important kernel of truth in that argument — not only is there no smoking gun, the Russia case appears to have been weakening, not strengthening, while America’s eyes have been on the payments.

The charges they didn’t make

Item: Cohen ostensibly played a key role in the version of events told by the infamous, partly unverified Russia dossier. He denied that strongly to Congress. He also has admitted lying to Congress and submitted an important new version of other events.

But that new story didn’t include a trip to Prague, as described in the dossier. Nor did Cohen discuss that in his interview on Friday on ABC News. Could the trip, or a trip, still be substantiated? Yes, maybe — but if it happened, would a man go to prison for three years without anyone having mentioned it?

Item: Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is on track to be sentenced early next year after his conviction in the Eastern District of Virginia and his guilty plea in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutors say that Manafort shouldn’t get any consideration for the information he’s given the feds because he’s been lying to them; Manafort’s lawyers say he gave the government valuable information.

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