While America was wrapped up in the future affairs of Orenthal James Simpson — will the parole board let him out? — there was more mind-boggling news on the Trump-Russia story.
Okay, I’ll admit I did watch the OJ hearing on Sports Center, but after about an hour of the analysis and post-hearing press conferences, I didn’t just turn the channel, which was useless because just about every channel was tuned to the drama going on at the Loveland Correctional Center, I just turned it off and took a nap.
OJ-Effin’-Simpson — jeez, can’t he just go away? Well, actually, no he can’t. While he’s on parole he can’t go anywhere without his parole officer’s approval, although he might be able to live out his parole in Florida where he has family.
That was big news, especially for those people who believe he got away with murder in 1995 when the jury deciding his fate in the murder trial of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson acquitted the former football star. He’s still in the college football and pro football halls of fame.
So, while we were all wrapped up in Simpson’s woes and joys, news outlets were breaking stories all over the place. Investigators for the special counsel looking into the Russia affair were looking into the financial dealings between the president and Russians, and the possibility that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was laundering money for Russian oligarchs, i.e. kleptocrats.
If that wasn’t enough, it was reported by the Washington Post that Trump was looking into the possibility of pardoning his aides, family, friends and himself. On top of that the spokesperson for the president’s legal team in the Russia business resigned, presumably because President Trump is looking for ways to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller.
Part of the Trump legal team’s strategy is to smear and discredit Mueller and the investigators and prosecutors he’s hired to dig into the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election. Along with the possible collusion between Vladimir Putin’s government and the Trump campaign and transition team. According to Bloomberg News the independent prosecutor’s office is investigating Trump’s financial ties to Russia, which go back at least 30 years.
Everything we were happy not to know about Donald Trump but we’re learning about it anyway.
Then, Sean Spicer announces his resignation … wait, what? See my previous post. The White House distractions keep on coming. The new crew of mouthpieces, Anthony Scaramucci and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, claim they have no clue what’s going on with the anti-Mueller smear merchants representing the president. Even the Eye of Newt Gingrich was on Fox News telling everyone the independent prosecutors office was rife with conflicts of interest.
Note to the uninformed, misinformed and blatant liars (that would be you, Newt): belonging to a political party or supporting a candidate is not a conflict of interest.
Section “F” of Article III of the Department of Justice Ethics Outline states:
Partisan Political Activities
Public Law 103-94 amended 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-26 (The Hatch Act) to lighten the restrictions on participation in partisan political activities for most employees.
All employees may register and vote, contribute money, sign petitions, attend political events, including fundraisers, assist in non-partisan voter registration drives, join political clubs or parties, express political views and display political stickers and buttons.
Most employees (excluding all DOJ political appointees, career SES, ALJ’s and employees of the Criminal Division, NSD, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and all Criminal Investigators and Explosives Enforcement Officers in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)) may prepare and distribute campaign literature, campaign for a candidate in a partisan election, participate in political rallies, make political speeches, hold office in political clubs or parties and be candidates in nonpartisan elections.3
DOJ political appointees, members of the career SES, ALJ’s, and employees of the Criminal Division, NSD, the FBI, and all Criminal Investigators and Explosives Enforcement Officers in ATF may not participate actively in a campaign for partisan political office. They may not distribute fliers, serve as, or be a candidate for, an office or committee member of a political party, serve as a delegate to a political party convention; address a convention, rally, etc. for a candidate if it’s done in concert with a party, organize, promote or actively participate in a fundraiser, canvass for votes, endorse or oppose a candidate, or initiate or circulate a nominating petition.
No employee may use his official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election; solicit, accept or receive a political contribution from the public, other than from a fellow member of an employee union; sponsor a fundraiser; run for nomination or election to a partisan political office; or solicit or discourage the participation in political activities of anyone who has business with the Department.
No employee may engage in political activities (to include wearing buttons) while on duty, in a government building, while wearing a uniform or insignia of office or in a government owned or leased vehicle.
An election is partisan if any candidate is running as a representative of a political party whose presidential candidate received electoral votes in the last presidential election.
You notice how in Part “A” of this directive it says, “All employees may register and vote, contribute money, sign petitions, attend political events, including fundraisers, assist in non-partisan voter registration drives, join political clubs or parties, express political views and display political stickers and buttons.”
Apparently the Department of Justice doesn’t consider campaign contributions to be a conflict of interest.
President Trump is a crook. He’s always been a lying crook. The only people who would extend credit to the crook were Russians. In 2008 Donald Trump, Jr. told investors, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
So when President Trump tells us he has no business in Russia with Russians — with the exception of the 2013 Miss Universe contest held in Moscow and the sale of a Florida mansion for more than twice the price Trump paid for it — we know Trump is lying. And it’s obvious the independent prosecutor knows the president is lying. His two oldest sons have bragged about how much business they have been doing with Russian oligarchs.
So Trump and his Russia legal team think that if they can discredit Robert Mueller and his team the president will have grounds for getting Mueller fired.
Republican lawmakers have promised reporters there would be tremendous backlash against the president if he tried to fire the independent prosecutor. The question is: will they speak up before Trump finds someone to do the firing? It’s unlikely the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein will do it. How far down the chain of command in the Department of Justice would the president have to go to find someone? Would he quickly hire someone? That’s not really feasible because someone with the authority to fire a special prosecutor would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Would Attorney General Jeff Sessions un-recuse himself to do it?
Not likely after the president told the New York Times he was unhappy with Sessions for recusing himself from the Russiagate investigations.
TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.
(NY Times reporter Peter) BAKER: Was that a mistake?
TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.
(NY Times reporter Maggie)HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?
TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.
TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.
Just out of curiosity, what’s wrong with Baltimore? I know some really nice people in the Charm City and I’m not just saying that because they are the boss of me here at LAPX. Well, maybe a little. At any rate, read on.
TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore. Now, he, we went through a lot of things. We were interviewing replacements at the F.B.I. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed?
HABERMAN: I did, actually.
TRUMP: He was sitting in that chair. We had a wonderful meeting.
HABERMAN: Day before, right?
SCHMIDT: Did he want the job?
TRUMP: The day before! Of course, he was up here, and he wanted the job.
I keep telling my friends in Baltimore they have a bad reputation. I think it started when the Baltimore Ravens football team came into existence. They are called the Dirty Birds after all. Or maybe the president was reflecting on the city’s general political bent. Rosenstein was selected by President George W. Bush to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Democrats blocked his nomination to the court of appeals after that.
If I were in Rosenstein’s shoes I’d probably have it in for them damn Democrats — it’s probably a good thing Rosenstein has more … professionalism than me. But the president doesn’t see it that way. All he knows is that Rosenstein is from Baltimore. There you go, my friends in Baltimore. That’s all the proof you need about your city having a bad reputation.
The president goes on to discredit Rosenstein even more in the interview and then dances around admitting he knew about the email that got his son, campaign manager and son-in-law to take a meeting with a bunch of Russian operatives that promised to have some dirt on Hillary Clinton. But he says he didn’t know about it at the time the meeting took place.
The president told the New York Times if the independent prosecutor started looking into the Trump family business and financial records that would be crossing a line that would require the president to fire Robert Mueller. You can read excerpts here.
Looking into the Trump family’s tax and business records will reveal just how deeply in debt the president and his family are to Russian banks, oligarchs and criminals. Starting with a company called Bayrock, which has built a number of Trump-branded properties around the world with Russian funding.
Next week Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort will testify before the U.S. Senate about the meeting with the Russians, among other things — like their business ties to Russians.
It has been reported Mueller and his team are looking into the possibility Manafort engaged in money laundering. What are the odds that will come up in the hearings?
The question is: why is The Donald so worried about Mueller getting access to his tax records, those documents he so deftly lied about during the campaign. The lie being he would release them when they were no longer under audit — although the IRS consistently said people were allowed to make their tax records public while being audited.
This is just a guess on my part: Donald Trump isn’t worried about the Feds seeing his close business ties to Russia as much as the rest of America finding out he really isn’t a billionaire. There’s no doubt the guy is wealthy, having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but during the campaign financial analysts were trying to measure his wealth and found the claim of being a billionaire a bit of a stretch.
Sean Spicer is a distraction. Anthony Scaramucci is a distraction. Healthcare isn’t a distraction and vulnerable Americans who are targeted by the GOP to lose their coverage should pay close attention to what the U.S. Senate does in the coming weeks.
DACA and Dreamers need to watch what happens with ICE since they have been targeted by the GOP to have their lives horribly disrupted. And Muslims in America should be concerned as well, considering Trump’s campaign was based partly on — largely on — racist attacks on Muslims and Hispanics.
Makes many of us wonder how such a racist won even the Electoral College — how did he win the GOP nomination? Was it just the populist message? Or, did members of his campaign collude with the Russians to target certain areas of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania with fake news stories, and anti-Clinton/Democrat ads? The Washington Post has just revealed some information from a high level confidential source in the intelligence community says that intercepts of the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to the Kremlin reveal he (Kislyak) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked about Trump’s campaign last year. If it’s true then at the very least Sessions committed perjury when he told the FBI he didn’t do that.
This Russiagate story just keeps on growing. It may take a while for us to get Mueller’s report, but it should answer a lot of questions — and send a lot of people to prison.
On the other hand WaPo and the NY Times are reporting Trump has been asking his legal team and other aids about dishing out pardons to his family, aides and himself, so maybe no one will go to prison. But at least we’ll know President Trump and his staff are a bunch of crooks.
Top photo of Red Square in Moscow from Wikipedia
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.