So What if Trump Wanted to Build a Tower in Moscow?

Media madness surrounds us.  Like a three-ring circus, Big Media has three main themes.  The middle ring is Trump Derangement Syndrome.  Everything and anything Trump does or says is outrageous, uncouth, unpresidential, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and any number of additional adjectives you can conjure up.  The two side rings are Russia and climate change.

Today, the Trump and Russia rings are intertwined once again – but in a nonsensical way.

Russia, a country with a GDP less than a tenth of the U.S.'s, between the GDPs of Texas and New York, has become public enemy number one in the eyes of the media and the left.  Mitt Romney was mocked when he called Russia our greatest geopolitical threat when he unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012.  Hillary Clinton was considered a statesman when she called for a Russian reset in 2009.

Since Trump shocked the media and the left by winning the presidency against Madam Reset, an excuse for her second failed presidential campaign and laughable media prognosticating were necessary.  This gave birth to the "Trump colluded with Russia to hack and steal the election from Mrs. Clinton" narrative.

Collusion has been a dry well, despite the best efforts of Robert Mueller and his merry band of partisans.  Mueller is now reduced to prosecuting Trump associates over process crimes, tripping them up over what they recall saying to whom and when, or whom they might have forwarded an email to several years ago.

The media are quick on their feet, pivoting to a new narrative.  According to NBC, "Trump's Russia dealings represented an enormous conflict of interest in 2016."  In an article cowritten by hyperpartisan Chuck Todd, the lead sentence is, "Every time special counsel Robert Mueller speaks – through his court filings – he packs a punch."

Mueller's punches have been a bit wimpy.  He indicted a bunch of Russian internet trolls who will never see the inside of a U.S. courtroom to face trial.  His other indictments have been for process crimes or using tactics applied to Enron and former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, most of which were overturned by the courts.

Chuck Todd should know about conflicts of interest.  His wife earned millions working for the Bernie Sanders campaign and also worked with Jim Webb in his senatorial campaign.  We won't hear anything about those conflicts.

The conflict Chuck Todd is worked up about is this: "Trump & Co. were seeking business deals with Russia well into June 2016, right before Trump officially became the GOP's presidential nominee."

That's it?  Yet this will be the hot topic of discussion on all the Sunday gab-fests.

Before and while running for president, Donald Trump was a real estate developer – and highly successful.  "Based on the financial disclosure report he filed last year, Trump appears to own or control more than 500 businesses in some two-dozen countries around the world," according to Time.  Why not Moscow, too?

Remember that none of the smart set in politics and media gave Trump any chance of winning the nomination, much less the presidency.  Video montages of such certain predictions, such as this one, are always fun to watch.  Despite Trump's confidence and bravado, he must have known he was paddling upstream against a strong establishment current and would likely lose to the anointed Mrs. Clinton.

Why would he not continue running his business, given the likelihood at the time that come November 2016, he would still be private citizen Trump doing real estate deals?

After all, don't representatives, senators, and governors continue in their current roles while running for higher office?

Senator Obama ran for president – as did Senators McCain, Cruz, and Rubio.  Governors Walker and Kasich ran for president, too.  How many representatives run for senator?  If they win, they have a new job.  If they lose, they continue their current job.

Members of Congress have immense power at their disposal.  Fundraising and allocation of campaign contributions, committee positions, pending legislation – all are potential benefits to them as they run for higher office, and all are potential conflicts if one wants to look hard enough.

Is the new expectation that one needs to officially quit his current job in order to seek a new one?  Or does that apply only to outsiders, such as Donald Trump?

NeverTrump David French weighed in.  After Trump, in April 2016, called for stronger relations with Russia, something the left was all in favor of during the decades-long Cold War, now it's a problem.  French said, "Trump made those comments at the exact time when his team was allegedly trying to secure a business deal that could have netted Trump millions of dollars.  This is no small thing.  Trump's words mattered."

Again, so what?  One can argue the merits of trying to have better relations with Russia.  The Obama-Clinton reset button was clearly an effort to improve relations with Russia.  Trump was just continuing the policies of his wise predecessors.  It's interesting that the left now wants Trump to resurrect the Cold War they were so critical of.  Perhaps if Trump presented Putin with a red reset button, all would be well.

But a businessman continuing to work, even as he runs for president, is hardly a criminal activity or a high crime or misdemeanor.  It's simply a smart and competent man multitasking and keeping his options open, given the overwhelming consensus that he would never get anywhere near the Oval Office.

Lastly, if Trump wanted to give Putin a penthouse in the proposed, but never built, tower, another so what?  Projects frequently comp freebies to VIPs, such as memberships and special privileges.  That's called marketing.  Give Putin the penthouse and all his wealthy buddies will want apartments in the tower as well.  Again, smart business.  And if someone objects, it never even happened.  It was simply a proposal.

Like everything else in the "Orange Man Bad" theme, this Moscow Trump Tower too is a big nothing burger.  But that won't stop the media from chasing their latest shiny object, continuing to make fools of themselves.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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