Sunday, May 14, 2017

Angry 70 Year Old Man Barricaded In DC Mansion

We wake up every morning wondering if it’s still true. Is Trump still president. If a President Hillary Clinton had presided the way Trump has these 100+ days she’d be on her way out. Congress would have had bills of impeachment prepared before she’d given her victory speech on November 9th. The pitchforks and torches and nooses were out for Hillary from the moment she announced her candidacy. From that date on the Republican Congress had busied itself with hearings and subpoenas. The investigative committee chairs had installed a teleport to transport them quickly onto FoxNews the moment they left the floor.

Jason Chaffetz was one of the most dogged accusers. He never let up. His goal in life was to jail Hillary Clinton. When FBI director James Comey found “carelessness” but no criminality, the Republicans were furious. They felt betrayed, as if they had a contract promising them that the investigation would serve her up to them. The line in Alice In Wonderland is “Sentence First. Verdict Afterwards.” Jason Chaffetz embraced the role of the Red Queen. He’d turned his congressional seat into a prosecutor’s office, an inquisitor’s office.

So when the Trump presidency debuted with its own palpable and juicy prosecutable charges hung round the president’s and his staff’s necks you’d expect an eager prosecutor would get to work.

But Chaffetz seemed bored with the allegations against Trump. Betraying our country to Russia? Meh. Using the presidency to enrich himself? Who cares. Chaffetz’s response when asked about Trump’s many disturbing and possibly incriminating financial entanglements and the glaring conflicts of interest was especially peculiar:

“He’s already rich.”

Meaning? The only meaning we can deduce is that Jason Chaffetz and his fellow Republicans believe it’s OK for a rich person to engage in criminal behavior. A rich person is allowed to enrich himself further by illegal means. A rich person is allowed to turn the Oval Office into a moneymaking machine. When a relatively middle class person enters the White House, say a Bill Clinton, it’s a different matter. Then they investigate. Republicans are immune. Rich people are immune.

Reported in The New Yorker

Reported at greater length in The Atlantic

The danger Trump presents is increased because the Republicans in Congress are so craven, so obedient, so partisan. James Fallows writes about this in The Atlantic, giving five reasons why Kremlingate is worse than Watergate.

This article from The American Interest examines Trump’s Russia entanglements.

"Whatever the nature of President-elect Donald Trump’s relationship with President Putin, he has certainly managed to accumulate direct and indirect connections with a far-flung private Russian/FSU network of outright mobsters, oligarchs, fraudsters, and kleptocrats. Any one of these connections might have occurred at random. But the overall pattern is a veritable Star Wars bar scene of unsavory characters, with Donald Trump seated right in the middle. The analytical challenge is to map this network—a task that most journalists and law enforcement agencies, focused on individual cases, have failed to do.”

It appears that Donald Trump has been a very useful asset in a massive and long-running Russian money laundering scheme.

Vanity Fair explains why a note from your lawyer won’t get you off the hook, especially if that lawyer was named Russia’s Lawyer of the Year.

When I heard Trump promise that a “certified letter” would clear him of any wrongdoing I laughed. As if the Post Office, for an additional fee, will certify the truthfulness of a letter. (That joke appeared on SNL last night so I wasn’t the only one who thought of it.)

This Dutch documentary goes into Trump’s deep ties to Russian mobsters. All Russian mobsters still living operate as Putin henchmen.

Google Trump and Bayrock and Russia and you find some interesting stories, all about money laundering, the looting of the Russian economy, and the rescue of a bankrupt Trump over the years. There's more than one way to launder a ruble.

This one's from the Guardian.

The reliably conservative Chicago Tribune has this to say:

“We have the tin-pot leader whose vanity knows no bounds. We have the rapacious family feathering their nests without regard for the law or common decency. We have utter disregard for values at home and abroad, the disdain for democracy, the hunger for constraining a free press, the admiration for thugs and strongmen worldwide.”

The New Yorker's Amy Davidson analyzes the problems Trump created in his Lester Holt interview.

Trump’s business dealings are under scrutiny by the Senate. From the New Yorker.

Mother Jones gets down to the facts in the Russia story.

The White House staff meanwhile is in turmoil. Staffers responding with “Jesus!” when they see Trump’s latest tweets. From The Daily Beast.

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