Russia Monitor: News, No News & ‘What’s He Hiding?”


By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (9/2/1)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Congressional efforts to gain access to Donald Trump’s elusive tax documents from Deutsche Bank continued as headline news – two reports are particularly significant.

In the last edition of the Russia Monitor I shared a report from MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell claiming a “single source close to Deutsche Bank” told him that President Donald Trump’s loans were co-signed by “Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.”

O’Donnell then noted, “if true”, as I did as well. O’Donnell’s news was news when he offered his report.

There is now more news; O’Donnell has retracted his story.

When I sent my column to Commoner Call editor Mark Taylor I noted I hoped this wasn’t O’Donnell’s ‘Dan Rather’ moment. In my column I also noted that Trump lawyers had immediately demanded an apology and retraction – and that evening, August 28, O’Donnell made these comments at the beginning of his program:

“…didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process.”

““I shouldn’t have reported it, and I was wrong to discuss it on the air,” he said on Wednesday, referring to a report he issued on air the night before.

“…Tonight, we are retracting the story,” he said. “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate but the fact is we do know it wasn’t ready for broadcast, and for that, I apologize.””

Last edition I noted the “if true”, this edition I’ll highlight the “we don’t know whether the information is inaccurate”. While Trump lawyers got the retraction they demanded, there is a simple way to bring closure to the issue.

Judge rules Deutsche Bank can hand over Trump financial records to Congress

The sub-head is significant: The Trump family sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One last month in an effort to block them from handing over financial documents to Congress.

It is worth noting Trump’s lawyers often offer an argument that a sitting president cannot be distracted from his significant responsibilities (including weekly golf outings, apparently) by being sued. Yet apparently while performing his significant responsibilities he has plenty of time to bring legal action.

“A federal judge dealt a blow to President Donald Trump on Wednesday, ruling that two banks can hand over his financial documents in response to congressional subpoenas.

“The Trump family and company sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One last month in an effort to block them from turning over financial documents sought by Congress. The House Intelligence and Financial Services committees had issued subpoenas to several banks as part of their investigations of alleged foreign influence on U.S. elections.

“In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said he disagrees with the arguments from the Trump family attorneys that the subpoenas don’t have a legitimate legislative purpose.

“Ramos described the subpoenas as “undeniably broad” but “clearly pertinent.””

Of course the Trump lawyers immediately announced their intent to appeal the ruling.


If there is really nothing to hide…

If Trump has nothing to hide he would have followed the convention of all recent presidents and presidential candidates and simply released his tax returns as a candidate. If Trump has nothing to hide he can do that now and stand down and simply let Deutsche Bank release the information as requested by Congress. The question hanging in the air and around Trump is: “Why not?”

Imagine if O’Donnell’s report is accurate. It would be the new example of a compromised political figure with Russians holding non-public knowledge to a sitting president’s business activities – Kompromat. If true.

Even when O’Donnell was making his report I was hoping NBC News would stand behind O’Donnell against the inevitable legal onslaught by Trump. I was hoping for a “we’ll show you ours if you show us yours” response. Alas!

But – the fight is not over and one day we may see what Trump works so hard to hide. Or, Russia if you’re listening…

One final note, Trump’s likelihood of reelection goes down if the economy softens. In spite of Trump lies that US consumers and companies do not pay for the trade tariffs he imposes, most notably on China, the opposite is true. Trump’s tariffs are an added cost to all American consumers and companies. If consumers respond negatively, if consumers pull back on spending – Trump gets his economic slowdown. It’s not possible for Trump to operate with a robust economy and fight his tariff wars.

Trump got more bad news – the August report for US consumer outlook fell by the most in a single month since 2012 and to the lowest point in Trump’s presidency, falling from 98.4 in July to 89.8. Sadly that is not good news for any of us.