Trumpian Guilt and Amnesia
Pop psychologists sometimes identify specialized guilty consciences, such as Jewish guilt, Catholic guilt, Freudian guilt and so on. Add to this impressive list a wave of Trumpian guilt, the main symptom of which is amnesia. (Trump’s delusional wiretap to one side.)
We have now seen a string of Trumpians, ranging from the deplorable Michael Flynn to Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to son-in-law-in-chief Jared Kushner, plus a few lesser lights, none of whom admitted they had met with Russian officials until they got caught–and once caught could not “recall“ what they talked about.
These are guilty consciences of the Trumpian species because it could have been very easy–except in Flynn’s case–to have acknowledged the meetings immediately and given plausible explanations having nothing to do with the specter of collusion in bringing down Hillary Clinton or lifting sanctions in exchange.
Most of the suspects met with Putin’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, well known on the Washington scene as a socializer, party-giver and intelligence gatherer–perhaps spymaster. Through the years he has met and schmoozed with numerous major public officials, from presidents to congresspersons to cabinet members. That’s what ambassadors do.
But ever since the apparent Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, with embarrassing emails slowly doled out to Wikileaks, meetings with him take on a sinister tone, so everyone keeps it a secret–suggesting a pandemic of guilty consciences .
On the other hand, what if Sessions had answered the question as to whether he had contact with any big-time Russians by saying “Well of course as a senator I have occasion to meet numerous ambassadors and diplomats such as Ambassador Kislyak, some of whom want to introduce themselves or ask my position on an issue or even make a suggestion to me. I met Ambassador Kislyak a couple of times–as I recall, among other matters, he was curious as to how the election was going or wondered whether, if elected, how soon Trump might want to meet with President Putin.”
Logical enough–and quite innocent. Especially since there is no transcript of the conversations. Instead, he lied–never mentioned Kislyak until found out, then went blank on the content. Trumpian guilty conscience.
Same option with Kushner: “The Ambassador wanted to introduce himself, knowing I am a key advisor to the president, so I had then-National Security Advisor Flynn join me for a brief introductory meeting–a getting-to-know-you session.”
Again, logical, innocent–and no transcripts. But he admitted nothing until caught.
Flynn’s case was different. He got caught talking to a suspected Russky intelligence officer because the line was tapped. Then he lied about discussing lifting sanctions, but there was a transcript to cure his amnesia. Rachel Maddow noted that the feds could not have listened in unless there was a FISA warrant enabling the wiretap, suggesting some larger investigation involving Flynn was already in progress.
Leading to the obvious question: if all these meetings and conversations were innocent, why didn’t the Trumpians disclose it themselves, giving rational explanations?
Paraphrasing Hamlet on conscience and cowards, Trumpian guilt made amnesiacs of them all. Cowards, too.
Don Rose is a regular contributor to Chicago Daily Observer
image FIFA (not FISA) Soccer Ball