Russia Monitor: With Dems Taking Over The House Someone Appears To Be Getting Pretty Nervous

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying “our interests first”…. we erase what a nation hold dearest…its Moral Values.”

— French President Macron at Armistice celebration with Trump seated before him, Nov. 11, 2018.


By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (11/12/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

With a sigh of relief from the election results and opinions that there is a safe path for special counsel Mueller’s Trump-Russia corruption investigation, we can go forward.

Trump took a few days off from his presumptive role as Secretary of State for Georgia, Florida and Arizona after declaring victory for GOP candidates while vote counting was still under way. Trump’s trip to France has been ugly tweets from Air Force One and skipping a visit to a WW I U.S. military cemetery to honor the fallen, because of light rain. He was two hours late for dinner and skipped a march of unity with European leaders along the Champs Elysses, as did Putin.

One picture sums up Trump’s school boy petulance with having to be there. He can’t hide his disappointment while sitting with Macron…


But Trump did have at least one moment of joyous happiness, take a look at how he beams at the sight of Putin

Trump subsequently gets a Putin pat and thumbs up, so maybe the trip was worth it for Trump after all. So nice to get a little public acknowledgment from the boss, especially in front of your wife!

Though Trump wouldn’t chance the light rain to honor the millions of soldiers who fought and died for freedom, he and Putin likely shed a tear for the passing of Putin’s favorite congressman, Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) who was defeated in a close vote.

Maybe Trump is simply confused; he recently accused the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Estonia for the war in Yugoslavia confusing his Balkans and Baltics. Though the same cannot be said for his statements embracing nationalism. This was a key part of his mid-term election strategy and it had some drawbacks.



Maybe this is where Trump’s wandering attention is focused: Subpoenas Are Coming. Trump Is Lashing Out. Will the Media Do Its Job?

Here’s the sub-head: We need better journalism for the fight ahead, and we need economic incentives other than the outrage button.

The outcome of the election extends a lifeline to the investigation of Trump-Putin corruption. Trump has threatened war (see below) if Dems push, but does anyone presume appeasement is an option?

How about the media, do they presume to be able to quietly do their job regardless? The media doesn’t have to pick a side, Trump did that for them:

“The president made this campaign about the media—and any form of accountability—as much as about Democrats, and he doubled down today. In a moment that we’ll probably rewatch in disbelief a decade hence, he went into full-on attack mode as CNN’s Jim Acosta asked him about his “invasion” rhetoric. “That’s enough! That’s enough! That’s enough!” he spat as Acosta soberly repeated his question, and he doubled down seconds later. “You are the enemy of the people.””

The media approach to date of automatically repeating Trump lies is not serving them, or anyone other than Trump, well. It’s time for context, not rote repetition.

We can step back from the precipice because, “As Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum put it, what we saw was “one of the great political blowouts of modern history.” The odds were against this given the massive scale of GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression. Trump led the GOP down a path of campaigning strategy of “daily deceptions to floridly racist heights” making economic performance a far less important issue. (Note: Turnout for the 2018 election of 115 million votes is the highest turnout in 104 years at 49%.)

Mother Jones writer Monika Bauerlein finishes on a note of optimism:

“This is not the kind of thing you see in a country destined to slide into authoritarianism. It’s a proof of concept for a more resilient and more inclusive democracy. And it’s a demonstration that lies and demagoguery can only go so far. That’s the validation we need to buckle down and get to work—investigating corruption, and nurturing the debate over America’s future that begins right now.”

This against a backdrop of Kevin Drum’s election summary regarding Trump, “He was crushed and repudiated tonight in a way that few presidents ever have been.


‘Denial’ ain’t just a river in Egypt

But not everyone thinks Trump lost: Trump Won’t Change Course – He Thinks He Won.

Frank Rich makes the case that Trump and his party won’t change direction; the GOP is “white male nationalism”:

“Trump is the Republican Party. Most of the few remaining feckless, and, frankly, worthless “moderate” Republicans in the House were wiped out yesterday even as a quasi–Nazi sympathizer like Steve King won reelection in Iowa. So the notion that “the party” might rethink anything is a non sequitur. The only question is whether Trump would rethink anything, and the answer is a resounding no. His entire political program is white male nationalism, with a full arsenal of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and homophobia that he wields with both glee and malice for his own political (and often financial) profit.”

For now red states benefit the GOP with the Senate and the electoral college, but:

“Demographic change is on the Democrats’ side in the longer term. But meanwhile the country continues to have a fight for its very identity on its hands. The 2018 midterms were merely a battle in what looks like an extended trench war. The next battle? It’s only a matter of time before Trump fully mobilizes his base, complete with its retinue of gun-toting alt-right vigilantes, to augment whatever extralegal tactics he chooses to fight back against the reckoning of the Mueller investigation.”

It is now trench warfare, and while Rich is not optimistic Dems can hold Trump accountable, “they can make life very difficult”. Here’s a key point:

“… the most important by-product of Democratic control of the House by far is that Robert Mueller is now protected. Had the GOP held on, Mueller would have been fired along with Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein, and his report would have been buried in a black hole. Now the Democrats can subpoena Mueller’s findings, protect them, and disseminate them.”

As for Mueller and his investigation: Mueller Has a Way Around Trump and His Minions.

The authors offered this sub-head: A road map from the Watergate prosecution shows a potential route for the special counsel to send incriminating evidence directly to Congress.

The authors start here with the firing (resignation) of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the appointment of Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker.

“This raises the specter of a fearful president attempting to muzzle Special Counsel Robert Mueller or hinder him from revealing whether his 18-month-long grand jury investigation has turned up evidence of criminality implicating Donald Trump or his immediate family.”

The authors offer a fascinating history of the Watergate prosecution and the role of prosecutors and grand juries in protecting an investigation, but let’s jump to this:

“What if Mr. Mueller concludes that the president has committed a crime? The question of whether a sitting president can be indicted remains a subject of vehement debate among scholars. But assuming that Mr. Mueller follows what many regard as “current Justice Department policy” based on several past internal legal opinions that an indictment is inappropriate, then the appropriate place for consideration of evidence that the president has committed crimes rests definitively and exclusively with Congress.

“If Mr. Mueller has obtained such evidence, his responsibility and the correct operation of our system of government compel the conclusion that he and the grand jury can make that evidence available to Congress through a report transmitted by the court.”

An encouraging view, but who is Mathew Whitaker and is it his job to shut down Mueller? Matthew Whitaker: An Attack Dog With Ambition Beyond Protecting Trump.

There is much made of Whitaker’s history of incompetence and fraud, but particular to Trump-Russia is this: Whitaker caught Trump’s attention in 2017 as “a partisan defender who insisted there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign”. There is already a list of statements Whitaker has made dismissing Trump-Russia corruption and supporting Trump. Most notably might be Whitaker’s assertion that Trump can “kill any investigation he wants”. Trump has hired another loyalist based on cable news try-outs by the aspirant.

While Whitaker has been at the Justice Department it became clear to many, he was “the eyes and ears of the White House”.

Is Whitaker a tool in the Russpublican plan to shut down Mueller?

“Mr. Grassley (Sen. Grassley (R-IA), Senate Judiciary Chair) spoke to Mr. Whitaker this week, after the president’s announcement, and Mr. Whitaker conceded that he does not know how long he will remain in charge of the Justice Department.”


The national question for every week: What next?

Well, for starters, the incoming Democratic House leadership appear to be ready. Mother Jones reports: Dems Already Have Their List of Trump Scandals to Investigate. Here It Is.

Writer David Corn promises, “here comes the flood”. It is a proposed list of investigations that goes on and on as anyone reading this can appreciate. Pick your favorite, it’s likely on the list.

But more specifically…

Washington Post writer Greg Sargent reports: Cornered & Raging, Trump Begins His Coverup. Here’s How Democrats Can Respond.

Sargent reports Whitaker’s role is to “limit the scope of the investigation or starve it for funds”. But consider this:

“Ask yourself: What would this look like if Republicans had held the House? We would be concluding that Trump is taking steps to close down or limit the probe, or keep its findings covered up, in the full knowledge that congressional Republicans will let him get away with it. Which is why it’s a good thing that Democrats did capture the House.”

Dems winning the house offers a life-line to getting to the bottom of Trump-Russia corruption. Trump is not happy and he threatens war:

“At his news conference on Wednesday in the wake of the Democratic victory, Trump raged over the investigation. He said that if House Democrats investigate his administration — an activity known as congressional oversight —  that the White House can retaliate by investigating Democrats. Trump vowed a “warlike posture.” This lays the groundwork to dramatically resist whatever Democrats do in response to Trump’s moves against the Mueller probe.”

Certainly Dems have learned that trying to appease Trump does not avoid a war. Here is a highlight of Sargent’s thoughts, much like the New York Times advice above.

“Subpoena Mueller’s findings. Under the regulations governing the special counsel, he is to provide a “confidential” report explaining his conclusions to the person overseeing the probe — who would have been Rosenstein but now will be Whitaker. It is Whitaker who is then supposed to provide a report to the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate judiciary committees, which gives him a great deal of discretion to decide how much to put in that report.

“Whitaker could theoretically report little to nothing, in effect covering up what Mueller learned. “Democrats could subpoena Mueller’s findings,” Chafetz (Josh Chafetz, a professor at Cornell Law School) tells me. “But expect the White House to put up a fight in response to the subpoena.” Other legal experts think that if the White House defied such a subpoena, the courts would rule against them, meaning Congress would get Mueller’s findings.”

There is no easy path and Trump will rage and attack every step of the way. But hopefully, this is the reality. And the media damn well better do their part; better than they have to date.


Mueller and the investigation survive and Trump rages.

Dems and the media should know, appeasement doesn’t work.

Let the indictments, subpoenas and reports flow – there’s no going back or standing down.