By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (10/30/17)
Dear Fellow Readers,
A few months ago Keith Olbermann on his ‘The Resistance’ show said we’d wake up one morning and it would all be over. We’d see news images of lots of activity at the White House and all of a sudden… Trump would be gone. This is not that announcement but on Friday night, just after 8 PM Central CNN announced:
“A federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter.
“The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.”
The story broke after reporters saw a flurry of Friday afternoon activity at the Washington DC federal court used by Mueller and team. What followed was much reporting on the report, much confirmation of the report and much speculation about what was to happen next. The key take-away here is of course – “anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday”.
That was Friday night, what happened on Saturday?
Politico reported we aren’t the only ones wondering who might be arrested, apparently the White House and the vast cast of personal lawyers collected by White House staff were also wondering “where the knife might fall”. All of this followed a week of intense efforts by Trump and Fox News to turn attention to Hillary Clinton misdeeds in addition to rampant speculation that something was up and Mueller could act before Thanksgiving or before Christmas.
So those close to the case “said their cellphones have been ringing nonstop as they connected with each other, and with reporters”:
“…attorneys close to the case said they were discussing whether the indictment was for two known Mueller targets: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort or former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“Several attorneys who said they were in touch with the Manafort and Flynn lawyers said they had not been notified of any matter related to an indictment — which is customary in a white-collar criminal investigation — leading them to believe it wasn’t either of those two former high-ranking Trump aides.”
The article offers perspective on who might be targeted. Meanwhile, Trump had his own ideas about the goings on and communicated with this tweet:
“It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!”
All this after a VERY busy week of Trump focus on Clinton while trying to flip the narrative. The Washington Post and Politico did great round-ups of the Trump onslaught: Week 23: Mueller Bombs Trump’s Big Week.
The attempts to flip the news coverage were fueled by focus on a number of subjects:
Who funded the Steele dossier (former MI-6 agent engaged by Fusion GPS for opposition research on Trump; commonly referenced by/for the ‘pee pee tape’).
The Uranium One deal from as far back as 2007 with attempts to link this story to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.
The House and Senate investigations taking the lead for Trump to refocus on Clinton including House Intelligence Committee revisiting the story of Susan Rice (former Obama Attorney General) and the “unmasking” charges.
Whataboutism raising again the question of the Clinton’s 33,000 emails.
Fox News lead with stories about a Republican push to end Mueller’s investigation fueled by questions about the supposed ‘waste’ of money and focus.
Here’s the version described by The Washington Post as a “brief guide to the latest developments in the tangled allegations” by Trump against Clinton: The ‘dossier’ And The Uranium Deal: A Guide To The Latest Allegations.
It was a very targeted, concerted push, the timing of which, like so many things in the Trump-Russia collusion story, could not be a coincidence. The heavy weights brought a lot of self-righteousness and heated indignation to the goings-on, for our benefit of course.
Meanwhile, hidden in the White House, GOP and Fox News kerfuffle were further indications of Trump-Russia collusion, as reported in Friday The New York Times: Talking Points Brought To Trump Tower Meeting Were Shared With Kremlin.
One of Trump’s deflections got more attention with ‘new news’. Trump, of course, accused Clinton of doing exactly what she accused him of doing: chasing opposition research. But, classic Trump, while opposition research is standard operating procdure, coordinating with a foreign government is not.
Remember the June 2016 meeting of Natalia Veselnitskaya with Donnie Trump Jr. in Trump Tower? It was Natalia, Donnie Jr., Jared Kushner (Trump son-in-law; senior Trump advisor), Paul Manafort (Trump campaign manager at the time) and a slew of Russians including a former intelligence agent and a US/Russian money launderer. Natalia’s pitch had been for “dirt on Hillary” and Donnie’s response had been, “I love it”. As bad as that was, as with so many things in Trumpland, it was actually worse.
Veselnitskaya claimed the information she was offering up on Clinton was the “fruit of her private research”.
But it wasn’t her private research, it was information provided by the Russian government.
“But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the . And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.”
An American congressman? Wait, what? Well, if that happened it must be….
“Ms. Veselnitskaya came to Trump Tower with a memo that closely resembled the document that prosecutors had given to Mr. Rohrabacher in Moscow two months earlier.”
Yep, none other than Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). As reported last week, Rohrabacher was rebuked by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for his meeting with Julian Assange, of Wikileaks, in London.
But the big takeaway here is the confirmation of Veselniskaya’s overture to Donnie Jr. as an official offer of Russian interference in the US election.
Other Trump associates continued to get attention from the Congressional investigations…
On Friday NBC News reported that Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Grilled on Russia Tower Deal.
Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) offered that Cohen was “fully cooperative” as the committee questioned his relationship with Felix Sater (Trump business partner, lead person on attempted Trump Tower Moscow) and various communications with top Kremlin officials. Though Schiff did offer his assurances, there is also this:
“Participants also described often contentious exchanges between interviewers and Cohen’s attorney, who sought to cut off questions he saw as outside the committee’s purview. But Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who is leading the committee’s Russia probe, said Cohen answered his questions to his satisfaction and saw no need to invite him back.”
Conaway took over for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) after Nunes recused himself from any investigation of Russian involvement to advantage Trump or collusion. Though Nunes now has a different view of this, you can see his obvious frustration with reporters use his own words against him: Nunes Says He ‘would prefer’ Reporters To Stop Saying He Recused Himself From Russia Probe.
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was also on the Hill to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee for five hours. Chris Matthews and Ken Dilanian of NBC take note and also take time to shoot down delusional claims of a Clinton “uranium deal”: Carter Page Met With Senate Intelligence Committee.
But much has been made of Page’s 2016 trip to Moscow and how he spent his time there: Carter Page Met Russian Politician Behind Uranium One Deal During Trump Campaign.
While Carter Page was in Moscow he met with persons overseeing the Russian side of a potential uranium mining business deal that Trump and Fox News are trying to use against Clinton. The gang that couldn’t collude straight:
“Trump Campaign Carter Page with one of Russia’s , who sat on Rosatom’s board of directors and was active in their acquisition of a controlling stake in Uranium One.”
Likely you also remember Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) vowing to get us an answer on why the latest round of Russian sanctions has not been enacted: Corker Vows To Get Answers On Trump’s Russia Sanctions Delay.
“Corker observed that the missed deadline also could stem from the measure’s inclusion of new penalties against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
“It was a big bill,” noted the Tennessean, who has repeatedly tangled with Trump but remains close to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control “is overwhelmed with all the sanctions activities,” Corker added.”
Sadly this Politico article fails to point out that part of the “overwhelmed” explanation stems from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s rearrangement of the persons responsible for working out the details on approved sanctions – he dismissed a seasoned staff of five senior persons and moved the responsibility to one mid-level staffer with no explanation while missing the deadline for enactment set by Congress.
Instead, let’s focus on a very positive idea brought forward for how Resistance could be put into real and useful action: A Form of Resistance Every NeverTrumper Republican Can Love.
“But the question is a fair one. What’s a principled Republican to do?
“We have a suggestion on a simple place to start: Corker, Flake, and sympathetic Republicans should join with Democrats to block any and all U.S. attorney nominees whom Trump has interviewed.
“Over the weekend, reported the alarming news that Trump has been personally interviewing prospective U.S. attorneys: “President Donald Trump has personally interviewed at least two potential candidates for U.S. attorney positions in New York, according to two sources familiar with the matter — a move that critics say raises questions about whether they can be sufficiently independent from the president.”
Maybe the best suggestion I’ve heard, if all other Trump deflections fail, he can always release his tax returns. I don’t put that past him – but please, anything other than Trump’s own prediction that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it.
I will close by offering a few smiles. Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone is known to be a reflexively rabid defender and there is no defense that can’t be best done with an attack – he makes Trump look like a choirboy.
Following the breaking CNN story, Stone launched a string of attacks on the network and specific personalities, so vile his Twitter account was suspended. He accused Don Lemon of being an “ignorant lying cocksucker” and a “dull witted arrogant partyboi”, while also calling New York Times opinion writer Charles Blow a “fast talking arrogant fake news piece of shit”.
This is a BIG deal for Stone who views this as censorship. Stone has welcomed any and all to his never-back-down Twitter fights: Roger Stone Vows Legal Action Over Twitter Suspension.
So Trump, the Trump White House, cronies and Fox News spend the week taking to the streets banging pots and pans to protest supposed Clinton collusion and misdeeds only to end the week scrambling to defend themselves in advance of the BIG NEWS – arrests pending. And on that note, It’s Mueller Time! Trump Administration Season Ending video.
I look forward to today’s news with anticipation.