“Arguably you sold your country out”
— U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan (12/18/18)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (12/20/18)
How Trump-Russia has changed. It feels like only yesterday the refrain was a mixed chorus, “Russia, Russia, Russia, too much about Russia – give Trump a chance, Hillary lost because she never visited Wisconsin, liberals need to own their responsibility for bringing about Trump”. It’s like a scene change and the chorus now sings, “Russia, Russia, Russia, ‘you’ need to see the big picture, we need to broaden our view, it was never all about Russia, we need to appreciate the corruption with Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, Turkey, UAE, not just Russia.”
Maybe moving too fast, but most of us welcome a full reconciliation. If Trump were a different person, if it wasn’t all about his own vanity and wealth, we possibly could learn a few things from him. He was right, most of us don’t feel like we have a voice or sometimes even a vote in the process. Trump threatens the equivalent of, ‘if you investigate mine, I’ll investigate yours’. But what he offers as a threat, most of us would take him up on this as an offer. Let the sun shine, put it all on the table and let’s find the honest brokers and the dishonest brokers – if only it were that simple. Sometimes it is, sometimes we can agree the crimes were egregious even if we aren’t getting the root cause.
The more we learn the better able we can make the most important changes: fair voting: get the money out of political campaigns; some kind of oversight for the conduct of social media?
The drawbridge is being pulled up on the Trump castle as a last line of defense and some will be left outside the castle walls.
Dark romantic comedy
If the short, tattered and tawdry arc of Donald J. Trump’s political career was put forward as a dark romantic comedy, it would be full of cheesy monologue between the various grifters along the lines of:
“Meeting you I realize we were always meant to be together,
you fulfill me,
in my wallet if not in my heart!”
Insert your own casting – Lewandoski, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Wilbur Ross, Steven Miller, Michael Cohen, Sean Hannity, Ryan Zinke, Betsy DeVos – the possibilities are endless.
But on this day, how better to portray the debacle that is Trump than the intersection of ‘Individual-1’ and our first nominee, retired 3-start general, soon-to-be-sentenced former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Thomas Flynn: A Judge Told Michael Flynn, “Arguably You Sold Your Country Out,” But Agreed To Delay Sentencing.
Reporter Zoe Tillman’s sub-head is a great summary: After a judge told Michael Flynn that he couldn’t hide his “disgust” and “disdain” for Flynn’s crimes, Flynn delayed sentencing to fully cooperate with the government in the hopes of maximizing any benefit when he is, ultimately, sentenced.
Rachel Maddow does an excellent job of relating the court proceedings as well as what it all might mean. She even poses the puzzler of what Fox News could have possibly been airing at the same time given the many hours invested in their prediction of a Judge Sullivan ass-kicking for the prosecutors.
Judge Sullivan helped us understand that his review of the un-redacted court filings fueled his disdain. Sullivan had Flynn reiterate that he did lie knowingly and repeatedly to the FBI noting, “so, all along you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country, while serving as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States. I mean arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out.”
These dramatic exchanges weren’t only about Flynn’s lies over his discussions with Russians about relaxing U.S. Russia sanctions or the unanswered question of why he did this and lied about it while knowing he’d BEEN found out through surveillance; the interview with the FBI even covered specifics that confirmed surveillance. There are also Flynn’s actions as an unregistered foreign agent being paid by Turkey. While the prosecution admitted they did not intend to charge Flynn, an associate of Flynn did not fare so well: Former Flynn Associate Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Of Lobbying On Behalf Of Turkey.
This happened the day before Flynn’s sentencing hearing:
“A former associate of onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday to charges of working as an unregistered foreign agent.
“Bijan Kian, also known as Bijan Rafiekian, has been accused of illegally lobbying on behalf of Turkey for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric based in the U.S.”
Julia Ainsley, reporting for NBC offers a few more details. Flynn’s firm was paid $600,000 for their work, “the effort was put in motion in late July 2016 after the Justice Department denied a request by Turkey to arrest and extradite Gulen”.
One of the bodies left outside the castle walls.
Flynn & the Turkish question
The most damning question from Ainsley was about the request put forward by the Trump White House in February 2017 to review Turkey President Erdogan’s request again. Flynn was still a member of the White House at this time o the logical question is: “Did he direct the request?”
If the Trump White House has been running foreign policy as pay-to-play with Russia, Israel, UAE and in this case, Turkey, does this explain events like the lack of action taken by Trump following the May 2017 attack in D.C. by Erdogan’s security detail against Turkish protesters? Doesn’t Trump’s defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by not taking action over the murder of U.S. resident Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi signal the same sell-out as Flynn’s?
Sorry Fox News. Sorry Trump White House. Sorry White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders – you know who says there was no FBI entrapment with Flynn? Flynn says there was no entrapment, he knowingly lied.
Before we leave this, let’s look at how the Trump-Turkey pay-to-play is still happening. Consider Trump’s announcement that he will pull all U.S. troops out of Syria while claiming his victory over ISIS. Consider the winners and losers as this happens. The U.S. has stood between Erdogan and his threats to invade “Kurdish controlled portions of Syria”. The U.S. has also stood between Turkey and their threats against U.S.-backed Syrian fighters that were the ones seizing the last Syrian town under ISIS control. That’s right, the fighters that gave Trump his opportunity to boast are threatened by assault from Turkish military. In other words: our allies in Syria. The Kurds and U.S. Syrian allies are the losers, the winners are Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Turkey, and Assad’s supporters – Russia and Iran.
More bodies left outside the castle walls.
Morality and justice in topsy-turvy Rudy Land
But the mad genius of moving the Trump-Russia goal posts is Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Any time you want to understand more of what Trump is guilty of, just listen to Rudy explain how Trump is NOT guilty: Rudy Giuliani May Have Just Set A World Record For Self-Owns on Sunday Television.
The sub-head from Jack Holmes’s piece in Esquire is: The Presidential Lawyer is absolutely relentless—in mendacity and incompetence.
Reduy declares, “It’s no big deal”:
“First, Giuliani went out of his way to admit the President of the United States his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to Trump’s various alleged mistresses at the height of the 2016 election. But it’s no big deal, Giuliani kindly explained, because the president isn’t under oath when he’s lying, then continually changing his story when his lies are exposed by further investigation.”
As Giuliani has said before, it’s not a crime to lie to the American people and a lot of Republicans agree.
Rudy may believe that lying isn’t illegal, hush payments aren’t illegal but they can be expensive. When pushed for perspective, Giuliani offered, “The amount of $ is consistent w/harassment, not truth…when it’s true & you have kind of money that the president has, it’s a $1m settlement. When it’s not true, you give $130k or $150k. They went away for so little $, it indicates their case is weak.“
But Giuliani wasn’t done:
“The hush-money deals weren’t the only topic on which Giuliani sought to move the goalposts. In vintage fashion, he attempted to claim that there was no collusion and also that collusion is not a crime, anyway, so what’s the big deal? You’ve got to cover all your bases. But in the process, he also spilled that “The Moscow Project” continued into November 2016—the farthest into the election anyone has yet claimed that negotiations to build a Trump Tower Moscow went on.”
The moral landscpe of Rudy spreads far: Lying isn’t illegal, hush payments aren’t illegal, and negotiating business with Russians right up until the election while lying about it isn’t illegal.
Trump lied about a lot of shit that he did that was “not a crime” but not exactly in keeping with presidential behavior. Yes, there’s more, a BIG one, as mentioned above: Trump Signed Letter Of Intent For Trump Tower Moscow Project Despite Giuliani Insisting He Didn’t.
The best way to understand this is to watch the 2-minute video by CNN’s Chris Cuomo with Giuliani’s lies about Trump’s lies. In a nutshell:
“A newly obtained document shows President Donald Trump signed a letter of intent to move forward with negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Russia, despite his attorney Rudy Giuliani claiming on Sunday the document was never signed.
“CNN’s Chris Cuomo that set the stage for negotiations for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property in the heart of Moscow. The letter is dated October 28, 2015, and bears the President’s signature.”
So far Giuliani has gone out of his way to offer two assurances after each lie blows up: 1) it’s consistent with written answers to Mueller, and; 2) IT’S NOT ILLEGAL.
This doesn’t sound good but there is more about the legal action against the Donald J. Trump Foundation that is likely worse:
“The Donald J. Trump Foundation, once billed as the charitable arm of the president’s financial empire, agreed to dissolve on Tuesday and give away all its remaining assets under court supervision as part of an ongoing investigation and lawsuit by the New York attorney general.”
The New York Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, once described the foundation as “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests, a shocking pattern of illegality”. Including “unlawfully coordinating with the Trump campaign. An ongoing lawsuit could result in the “payment of millions in restitution and penalties”. Then campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi merits a tip, “Corey Lewandowski, directing the foundation to make disbursements in Iowa only days before the state held its presidential nominating caucuses”.
Two Trump Foundation fun facts:
“The — a $264,231 gift to the Central Park Conservancy in 1989 — appeared to benefit Trump’s business: It paid to restore a fountain outside Trump’s Plaza Hotel. The smallest, a $7 foundation gift to the Boy Scouts that same year, appeared to benefit Trump’s family. It matched the amount required to enroll a boy in the Scouts the year that his son Donald Trump Jr. was 11.”
And ALWAYS pay-to-play:
“…The rest of the money came from other donors, notably pro-wrestling moguls Vince and Linda McMahon, who gave $5 million. Trump later chose Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration.”
Changes in Trumpland
My how the Trump-Russia landscape has changed. Even Fox News viewers are subjected to dooms day predictions with Trump’s presidency: Fox Legal Analyst Says Trump Facing A Mueller ‘doomsday’ – And Could Have Already Been Indicted In Secret.
The best approach with this story is the 6-minute interview between Fox News host Shep Smith and judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano.
Smith and Napolitano explain “doomsday” for Trump:
“After Trump’s former lawyer, was sentenced to three years in prison, it was revealed that Trump was in the room when decisions where being made about the hush-money scandal to pay off adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Even though Trump has denied he that knew anything about the money.
““The trial judge said verbally ‘the president of the United States paid for and orchestrated this crime,’ referring to the crime in which ,” Napolitano said. “The president has denied this.”
“He then explained that Trump does not want a higher power such as the jury or Senate determining his fate.
““I don’t think he wants to get to that point. That would be doomsday. That would mean there is enough evidence to indict or,” Napolitano explained.”
The chorus of voices is rising against Trump, CNN host Brian Stelter says, “we need trusted voices…to explain what is going on” following Chris Cuomo’s display of Trump’s signed Trump Moscow letter of intent.
A Commoner Call reader forwarded a Truthdig column by Chris Hedges proclaiming Trump as “the quintessential American”. Though that ‘American’ is “The Confidence-Man” from a Herman Melville novel.
We’ll end with one final view, possibly a bridge too far but these days, who knows: Chris Matthews Predicts Trump Could Resign ‘In The Coming Weeks’.
Is MSNBC host Chris Matthews right? Who knows, but he is certainly right about one thing, “It is going to be historic”.
Left on the field
We are living history. It is not always black-and-white, not all will get the attention they deserve as we struggle through some form of post-Trump truth & reconciliation. But trust this, the drawbridge to the Trump castle is being raised and some of those who fought Trump’s battles are being left on the field.
“What the whole thing…is supposed to be about…whether Russia influenced the election and whether the President had anything to do with it…The President never colluded with Russia”
Yep, all that matters to Trump – is Trump.