By Dan Peak
Commoner Call (2/20/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
The question I raised in the last edition of The Russia Monitor was whether the media representation of a Department of Justice (DOJ) rift between Trump and his personal lawyer and attorney general William Barr was real or Kabuki Theater. What has been made more clear, Trump sees himself as dictator of conduct and outcome for DOJ for his administration and personal interest. Barr is not unimportant but, like any Trump associate or sychophant, it’s a one-way relationship – Trump doesn’t do advisers, just placeholders for the day he’ll need someone to take the blame.
Trump’s latest DOJ initiative had him pardoning 11 persons. Does pardoning these people take the edge off the perception of Trump’s criminality? What’s the pattern here: Trump demonstrating he can do as he pleases? Maybe the right Trump sycophant making a case for leniency? Is there even a single instance where a convicted person was somehow wronged, any instance of injustice? Yes, Yes and maybe Yes by the way.
Trump’s Rogues Gallery of Pardoned Criminals
Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted in 2011 for trying to sell former Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s seat. Obama was elected president and Blagojevich was willing to appoint a successor for the right price. He has served more than half his 14-year sentence for that and other acts. Does that warrant a presidential pardon? I mean he was on Trump’s TV show, ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and his wife does say she misses him. Trump says former FBI Director James Comey was behind this injustice, but I know you’ll be shocked to learn that isn’t true and Comey was not part of the Justice Department at that time. The delegation of five Congressional Republicans all asked Trump not to do this. Okay, there are Dems like Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) that support the pardon, so I guess Trump is simply reaching across the aisle of Senate corruption. So, I guess this makes him some kind of corruption fighter. Right?
Let’s consider the pardon of Bernie Kerik, the former New York police commissioner jailed on eight felony charges, including tax fraud. So what if Kerik is a regular at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort and a Fox News contributor. So what if, like convicted former national security adviser Mike Flynn who awaits sentencing, he lied to government officials? I mean Trump’s other lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Fox News Geraldo Rivera say he’s a good guy. Wouldn’t Giuliani know best? After all, Kerik was his New York City police commissioner. We never knew of his problems until former president Bush put him forward as a candidate for head of Department of Homeland Security. Seriously, what the hell is a guy with a criminal past thinking – how is he not going to be found out through vetting and why didn’t Giuliani know?
I am going to jump right past stalwart citizens like financial fraudster junk bond czar Michael Milken to highlight my personal favorite: South Florida Woman Returns Home After Medicare Scheme Sentence Commuted.
“A woman who served nearly a decade behind bars for her role in a health care and money laundering scheme returned to Miami-Dade County early Wednesday morning..
“President Donald Trump on Tuesday commuted the prison sentence of Judith Negron, who was serving time back in 2011.
“Negron, now 48, was found guilty of numerous felony counts as one of the owners of mental health care company American Therapeutic Corporation. She was also ordered to pay over $87 million in restitution.”
Negron did have the support of celebrity Kim Kardashian, a voice for prison reform who advocated for clemency. Negron has served eight years of a 35 year sentence on $200 million in charges for unnecessary treatment of patients who were incapable of understanding, money laundering, kickbacks…
Did Trump get at least one right? Crystal Munoz has spent the last 12 years in jail is another case highlighted by Kardashian for clemency:
“Munoz was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted in 2007 of conspiring to distribute majujuana. But she contends her only role was drawing a map others allegedly used in moving the drugs from Mexico to Texas. Her lawyer failed to adequately defend her at trial, Munoz said in court filings.”
I am not the expert on Trump pardons or acts of clemency. But the important question is, what confidence do we have with his choices and actions? Do all of these constitute DOJ, who is advocating, what are his standards – is he done running DOJ and ready to hand the reins back to Barr? If so, should that give us more or less concern? If he got one or two right and 9 or 10 wrong, should we fell okay about this?
It’s a Hell of a way to Run a Government
Poor Billy Barr…
Yes I’m crying, aren’t you too? I can cry and laugh at the same time; we all experience and exhibit grief differently.
“Attorney General William P. Barr has told people close to President Trump — both inside and outside the White House — that he is considering quitting over Trump’s tweets about Justice Department investigations…
“So far, Trump has defied Barr’s requests, both public and private, to keep quiet on matters of federal law enforcement. It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether Barr had made his posture known directly to Trump. The administration officials said Barr seemed to be sharing his position with advisers in hopes the president would get the message that he should stop weighing in publicly on the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigations.
““He has his limits,” said one person familiar with Barr’s thinking, speaking on the condition of anonymity, like others, to discuss internal deliberations.”
So Barr is whispering to friends and associates to get Trump to stop bullying him. Read that again, but I can’t think of anything to add, it says it all.
The Federal Judges Union representing 1,100 life-term federal judges have condemned Trump’s efforts to bias the sentencing of convicted long-time Trump associate Roger Stone. So maybe a tear for Barr? No – for us, yes, but Barr is Trump’s guy to rewrite the history of Russian involvement in the 2016 election to benefit Trump, so I can’t feel too bad. If he becomes another example of ‘Everything Trump Touches Dies’ – oh, well, he made his bed.
A few quick points to wrap up. I shared news about US sanctions violations by Russian oil companies handling Venezuelan oil. Do note, the benefit here was to Russian oil companies, not citizens of Venezuela. It turns out US Treasury is enacting sanctions against Russian oil company Rosneft as a result.
One more Republican dick-move, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) is repeatedly speaking out against China for complicity in the spread of coronavirus through research conducted at China’s only biosafety Level 4 super laboratory in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. There is no science suggesting human involvement with developing the virus. Something repeatedly pointed out to Cotton, but when have facts ever dissuaded a hard-core Trumpster.
And final-final. Trump is not only the self-appointed master of Justice, he is now the master of espionage and technology. Trump and the Trump government have been trying (unsuccessfully) to keep other countries from employing Chinese company Huawei technology in deployment of 5G infrastructures. The US faces an uphill argument since there is no US technology that can replace Huawei. Other options are more expensive – the US resorts to threats and arm-twisting. And then Trump continually involves himself and puts Huawei 5G technology on the table as simply one more chip in deciding US-China trade agreements. Trump tweets out trade offers – looking past Huawei if he gets a Trump-China deal to wave as a victory flag – undoing all the hard work by Trumpeters to make his ‘espionage’ case. Many do the hard work for him and he comes behind and pulls the rug out – from under all of us.
Our Stable Genius at Work proving daily there is nothing he can’t f*** up by throwing himself into it.
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