cover image Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America

Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America

Seth Abramson. Simon and Schuster, $28.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-9821-1608-8

President Trump and his underlings “conspired with a hostile foreign power to sell... control over America’s foreign policy in exchange for financial reward and covert election assistance,” argues this scattershot investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal. Drawing mainly on press accounts, CNN legal analyst Abramson (Northerners) constructs a detailed, labyrinthine chronicle of contacts between Trump and his associates on the one hand and Russian officials, oligarchs, and fixers on the other. From this tangle of interactions, Abramson constructs a “theory of the case,” inferring that Trump et al. offered to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia and pursue pro-Russian policies in exchange for the Russian government’s permitting a Moscow real-estate deal, helping Trump’s campaign with hacking and propaganda, or just bribing him. Contrary to the certainty or actionability implied by the book’s title, Abramson’s repetitive, eye-glazing narrative produces clouds of suspicious dots to connect, but these only occasionally rise to the level of criminal allegations. He reasonably suggests that Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey may constitute obstruction of justice; more dubiously, he asserts that Trump’s campaign-trail gibe of “Russia... I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails” was an illegal solicitation of a campaign contribution. Abramson’s exhaustive amassing of published evidence is useful, if hard to wade through, but there’s no smoking gun to clinch his claim of having proved anything. (Nov.)