These guys have been around the block a few times and I found their review of the situation compelling.
Oh, Wait. Maybe It Was Collusion.
By JOHN SIPHER and STEVE HALL - AUG. 2, 2017
New York Times . com
John Sipher (@john_sipher), a former chief of station for the C.I.A., worked for over 27 years in Russia, Europe and Asia
and now writes for The Cipher Brief and works for CrossLead, a consulting company.
Steve Hall (@StevenLHall1) is a former C.I.A. chief of Russian operations and a CNN national security analyst.
It is our view not only that the Russian government was running some sort of intelligence operation involving the Trump campaign,
but also that it is impossible to rule out the possibility of collusion between the two.
The original plan drawn up by the Russian intelligence services was probably multilayered. ...
It is the nature of Russian covert actions to adapt over time, providing opportunities for other actions that extend beyond the original intent.
When Donald Trump Jr. responded “I love it” to proffers from a Kremlin-linked intermediary to provide derogatory information obtained by Russia on Hillary Clinton, the Russians might well have thought that they had found an inside source, an ally, a potential agent of influence on the election.
The goal of the Russian spy game is to nudge a person to step over the line into an increasingly conspiratorial relationship.
First, for a Russian intelligence recruitment operation to work, they would have had some sense that Donald Trump Jr. was a promising target.
Next, as the Russians often do, they made a “soft” approach, setting the bait for their target via the June email sent by
Rob Goldstone, a British publicist, on behalf of a Russian pop star, Emin Agalarov. ...
When the Trump associates failed to do the right thing by informing the F.B.I.,
the Russians probably understood that they could take the next step toward a more conspiratorial relationship.
They knew what bait to use and had a plan to reel in the fish once it bit. ...
Of course, to determine whether collusion occurred, we would have to know whether the Trump campaign continued to meet with Russian
representatives subsequent to the June meeting. The early “courting” stage is almost always somewhat open and discoverable.
Only after the Russian intelligence officer develops a level of control can the relationship be moved out of the public eye.
John Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., recently testified,
“Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.”
However, perhaps the most telling piece of information may be the most obvious. Donald Trump himself made numerous statements in support of Russia,
Russian intelligence and WikiLeaks during the campaign. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his team have gone out of their way to hide contacts with
Russians and lied to the public about it. Likewise, Mr. Trump has attacked those people and institutions that could get to the bottom of the affair.
He fired his F.B.I. director James Comey, criticized and bullied his attorney general and deputy attorney general,
denigrated the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and assails the news media, labeling anything he dislikes “fake news.”
Innocent people don’t tend to behave this way.
The overall Russian intent is clear: ...
Stay tuned this story will continue unraveling