“The Comey Memo is a distraction from the Michael Cohen scandal which is a distraction from the love child payoff scandal which is a distraction from the Stormy Daniels scandal which is distraction from the Trump U fraud scandal which is a distraction from the election.”
— Mikel Jollett tweet from 4/20/18
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/23/18)
Dear Fellow Readers,
We hope for government and leaders with integrity. We imagine leaders that put the interests of all ahead of their own cramped personal interests. We want our leaders to address real problems – make our world safer, contribute to social well-being – not constantly revel in personal attacks, lies and self aggrandizement.
A person tweeting as ‘Rogue WH Snr Advisor’ said, “Trump will literally deny anything and everything. “I didn’t eat a sandwich” – as he’s chewing on a sandwich. It’s a disease.” We know that Trump lies, but it’s worrisome that for one reason or another, so many people don’t care. Even people that admit to knowing he lies will still at times accept a Trump statement at face value.
Lying works for Trump. Generally the media shies away from bluntly stating that a Trump statement is a lie, or like the Washington Post, invests much effort into Fact Checking but by the time they publish a lengthy opinion the issue has been crowded out of the headlines by current events – like the opening quote, above.
Here’s a perfect example straight from Trump’s mouth to all of America: “When I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’” Trump’s own words about why he fired then FBI Director James Comey from an interview with Lester Holt of NBC News from May 2017. Almost a year later, Trump has a new version of the story that he tells while chewing on a sandwich while the WaPo works to debunk some days after his claim: AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s Shifting Rationale For Firing Comey.
“President Donald Trump offered a shifting rationale this past week for his firing of FBI Director James Comey and joined other Republicans in exaggerating how much simpler it will become for Americans to file their taxes next time. He also erred, though by just a hair, in claiming a historic achievement in black and Hispanic joblessness.
“A look behind recent statements on these matters and more: TRUMP: “Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!” — tweet Wednesday.
“THE FACTS: Only Trump knows why he decided to fire Comey. But Trump has changed his story. In May 2017, two days after ousting Comey, Trump told NBC: “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.’””
Trump shamelessly shatters so many norms and the old rules of conduct we can’t keep up. The media won’t just say Trump lied and if they did, there’s an army of pundits that will feed the narrative by demanding examples, or heaven forbid, a journalist isn’t 100% correct and they lose their job. That’s not the worst of it – Esquire brings us a Trump apologist wearing his actions as a badge of honor and presumes this could carry him all the way to gaining the Speaker of the House position as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) leaves office: Watch a Republican Congressman Say He’s Never Heard Trump Lie.
The Esquire subhead observes with a dollop of much-needed irony: Rep. Jim Jordan is, presumably, an adult human possessed of all his sensory capabilities.
“But if you need more proof that Republicans have given up the ghost on checking Trump, look to Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio on Anderson Cooper’s show Monday night. When Jordan dodged Cooper’s question about whether the president lies, the CNN host deployed a groundbreaking strategy known as The Follow-Up Question. The result was mesmerizing:
“Anderson Cooper: “Have you ever heard the President lie?”
“Republican lawmaker Jim Jordan: “I have not.””
This is hardly news – we knew Trump was a liar, even his supporters know he’s a liar, even if they lie about it.
Just how deeply ingrained is Trump’s ‘lying’ disease?: Trump Lied To Me About His Wealth To Get Onto The Forbes 400. Here Are The Tapes.
The Washngton Post subhead gives a little context to the deception: Posing as ‘John Barron,’ he claimed he owned most of his father’s real estate empire.
“In May 1984, an official from the Trump Organization called to tell me how rich Donald J. Trump was. I was reporting for the Forbes 400, the magazine’s annual ranking of America’s richest people, for the third year. In the previous edition, we’d valued Trump’s holdings at $200 million, only one-fifth of what he claimed to own in our interviews. This time, his aide urged me on the phone, I needed to understand just how loaded Trump really was.
“The official was John Barron — a name we now know as . When I recently rediscovered and listened, for first time since that year, to the tapes I made of this and other phone calls, I was amazed that I didn’t see through the ruse: Although Trump altered some cadences and affected a slightly stronger New York accent, it was clearly him.”
It’s an interesting article because many Trump patterns of deceit are richly laid out. In this case his fixer is a long time associate who is now dead, Roy Cohn.
The author gives credit where due: Trump was a competent con. There’s more to this – the journalist went forward in his career, “with a misinformed sense of satisfaction that, as a perceptive young journalist, I called Trump on his lies and gave Forbes readers who used the Rich List as a barometer of private wealth a more accurate picture of his finances than the one he was selling. The joke was on me — and everyone else. Trump’s fabrications provided the basis for a vastly inflated wealth assessment for the Forbes 400 that would give him cachet for decades as a triumphant businessman.”
One of the ways Trump’s lies work is that while people know Trump is lying, they assume some part of what he is saying is true. This is a simple one – Trump isn’t worth $10 billion, but does anyone care if he’s only worth $3 billion (Forbes 2018 estimate)? Trump cares a great deal but to his supporters, he’s still a billionaire, a successful businessman who will create jobs, grow the economy and reset our trade deals. Supporters assume some part of what he says must be true.
Here’s another current example from the Washington Post: The Leaked Comey Memos Just Blew Up In Trump’s Face.
It’s easy to lose track of how many times Trump has claimed Trump-Russia vindication. This is his latest example – one pundit commented that anyone believing Trump is vindicated by the release of the Comey memos, has not read the memos.
“First, . When you cut through all the noise, what they really reveal is a senior law enforcement official struggling to figure out in real time how to handle efforts by the president to turn him into a loyalist devoted to carrying out his political will in wildly inappropriate fashion. Comey’s memos recount in new detail that Trump repeatedly demanded his loyalty and that Trump pressed him to drop his probe into his then-national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“We already knew those things happened via dogged reporting and Comey’s previous testimony to Congress. But now that we have , contemporaneously, the consistency and credibility of this picture become a lot firmer. Simply put, the memos confirm that Trump did, in fact, try to exert a level of control over his FBI director, and over an ongoing investigation into his and his cronies’ conduct, that is wildly at odds with norms dictating that law enforcement should be free of political and/or presidential interference.
“The Republican reaction, incredibly, has been to claim the memos vindicate Trump of any charge of obstruction of justice. The GOP chairmen of the House oversight, intelligence and judiciary committees claiming that the real takeaway from them is that Comey “never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened,” adding that “he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation.””
One view – Republicans conspired to force the release of the memos and should be embarrassed because they add to the case that Comey is telling the truth.
There is a second view:
“Importantly, the Republican response shows not a scintilla of concern about the Trump conduct that was actually documented by Comey — zero concern about Trump’s demand for his FBI director’s loyalty or his effort to influence the probe. …what we do know is that these senior Republicans are not even slightly troubled by the misconduct that Comey has already documented, quite credibly.”
Trump lies and limp, complicit Russpublicans don’t care and Trump supporters could care less.
This translates into news headlines that would have taken down previous administrations, but now hardly garner attention: Trump Denies Cohen Will ‘flip’.
Trump attacked the New York Times this weekend after they opined that Michael Cohen would ‘flip’. Trump tweeted, “Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”
As we offered in the last edition of the Russia Monitor, if there is no guilt, there is no need to debate the potential of Cohen flipping – how is this not an admission of guilt?
The water keeps rising on S.S. Trumptanic
But there is a related question: How has anyone been rewarded for loyalty to Trump?
As Esquire reported: If the Water Is Rising, Donald Trump Will Throw You Overboard.
As the article documents: Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s closest allies, is now just “one of his lawyers.”
“No matter how long or how intimately you’ve known Donald Trump, you’re one news cycle away from being tossed overboard. , the loopholes Trump spends his life squeezing through aren’t big enough to bring anyone with him. An old friend becomes a needy acquaintance; a campaign chairman becomes someone you got from the temp agency; a national security adviser becomes a “volunteer.” Anything to keep The Boss’ head above water—and the water is rising. … . Friends and associates of both men sounded the alarm, with many suggesting Cohen may flip on Trump.”
Trump’s personal lawyer, his fixer, his consigliere, is now according to White House aide Manu Raju, “one of “many” Trump lawyers”. The article goes on to show the pattern of Trump distancing himself from problematic relationships – ones where the problem was all about benefitting and defending Trump – no good deed going unpunished. And so, so many questionable relationships.
B-level reality show
So what you say?
Trump is a con man, and maybe every successful con man suffers from a ‘lyin’ disease. But as Dean Obeidallah said for CNN in July 2017, “[Trump] has turned his administration into a B-level reality show. A cross between “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Jersey Shore,” the characters in this White House drama even have theatrical nicknames like “Mad Dog,” for Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and “The Mooch,” referencing Anthony Scaramucci, the newest director of communications.”
Trump doesn’t even hire real lawyers, it’s all about how they will plead his case on TV.
Does anyone believe Trump’s concern with Amazon is about the rates they pay the U.S. Postal Service? Or is Trump, as reported in Slate, attacking Amazon founder Jeff Bezos because he owns the Washington Post which Trump views as critical of him?
Trump and this administration have made and are making decisions on taxes, the deficit, health care, education, environmental protections, civil rights, voting rights, immigration and on and on. Trump is heading a political clique that is quickly dismantling public institutions that benefit all for the enrichment of the very, very few. There is a systemic disregard for honor or integrity, “winning” isn’t about social benefit, it’s about personal aggrandizement, wealth, power and massaging ego.
When Trump decides to abandon plans for any new sanctions against Russia for supporting Syria’s chemical weapons attacks on citizens, can we possibly trust the motivation?
We’ll end with two stories. The first is a bit of color that is linked to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the story shared in the last edition about the Cohen family mob hangout, the El Caribe Club. The New York Daily News reports: Notorious Russian Mobster Says He Just Wants To Go Home.
“New York’s Most Notorious Living Russian Mobster Just Wants To Go Back To The Motherland.
“Once flush from heroin trafficking, tax fraud schemes and other criminal enterprises, Boris Nayfeld is now 70, fresh out of prison for the third time, divorced and broke. And he is left with few job prospects in his adopted country, at least those in line with his experiences.”
It’s an interesting story and shows how Nayfeld fit into the Brooklyn Russian mob including his job as “bodyguard and chauffeur” for Russian mob don Marat Balagula, who kept office space at the Cohen family El Caribe Country Club. While Nayfeld considers his next steps in life, he does offer this:
“Nayfeld is a Trump supporter, and believes the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign’s contact with Russia, and the nonstop news coverage about it, is over the top and counterproductive to U.S.-Russian relations.
“Trump “is a businessman, he don’t care who give him money for project,” Nayfeld said. “I’m the same.””
As kids we used to say, “takes one to know one”. Be sure to check out the photo of the sad little geriatric mobster.
Dems grow a pair!
Something we’ll hear about for quite some time going forward: Democratic Party Sues Russia, Trump Campaign And WikiLeaks Alleging 2016 Campaign Conspiracy.
In an unusual case of the Democratic National Party demonstrating some cojones…
““This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.”
There is a lengthy list of defendants though Trump is not personally named. A precedent for such suit was set when the DNC sued the Nixon campaign following the Watergate break-in resulting in a financial settlement benefitting the DNC.
If this suit has benefit, it will be as a new independent front to investigate Trump campaign ties to Russia. Time will tell.
Trump is a con man. Following the advice of ignoring the constant crowding out of one headline after another, we’ll close with Trump’s likely greatest exposure, as documented by the New York Times, and use this to summarize: The Business Deals That Could Imperil Trump.
To open with the ending, the authors state:
“The Trump family’s business entanglements are of more than historical significance. Americans need to be sure that major foreign policy decisions are made in the national interest — not because of foreign ties forged by the president’s business ventures.”
As the New York times details: The Business Deals That Could Imperil Trump.
“… from New York to Florida, Panama to Azerbaijan, we found that Trump projects have relied heavily on foreign cash — including from wealthy individuals from Russia and elsewhere with questionable, and even criminal, backgrounds. We saw money traveling through offshore shell companies, entities often used to obscure ownership. Many news organizations have since dug deeply into the Trump Organization’s projects and come away with similar findings.”
One thing for certain: no matter where the investigations go you can count on Trump to keep on mangling the truth.