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Just another typical week in US politics

Written By: - Date published: 9:50 am, November 17th, 2019 - 38 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, Media, Russia, spin, uncategorized, us politics, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

I seem to have been saying this about American politics for the past couple of years or so.  But what an amazing week it was in American politics.  And the question has to be asked, how is it that Donald Trump is still President?

All roads lead to Russia.  Basically and this must be crystal clear by now, Trump relied on Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton’s email server to run riot during the campaign and accuse her of all sorts of things.  Exactly what I am still not sure but it sure did fill in media space.

And when FBI director James Comey announced during the 2016 election campaign that Clinton was being investigated it seemed to give Trump the momentum to get him over the line.

But this has caused intense blow back from the US machine, I mean why wouldn’t you be concerned if the Russians were able to manipulate the election result?  They might get an idiot or a madman or both elected.  Just for laughs.

During the campaign Trump did not seem to think that it was a problem.  After all the Russians were backing him.  Subtleties like accepting their support might be potentially treasonous was lost on him, such was his desire to win.

But as time has gone by he appears to have realised the enormity of what has happened and has done the only thing possible in Trump world, and try and cover it up.

Hence the pressure on the Ukranians to open up an investigation into Joe Biden.  This had the dual benefits of allowing him to blame Ukranian actors for the Clinton server hacking and say it was them and not the Russians.  And it potentially hobbled who appeared to be his most difficult opponent in the forthcoming election.

The response has been slow but appears inevitably to be heading to a bloody denouement.

There was the Mueller Report with its damning conclusion that the Russian Government interfered in the 2016 presidential election “in a sweeping and systematic fashion”.  And Mueller summarised eleven instances in which Trump may have sought to obstruct justice even though he may not have succeeded.  In the report’s words:

The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” 

The Mueller investigation has resulted in some people closely associated with the Trump campaign either serving time or facing the prospect of doing so.

Paul Manafort was convicted for bank and tax fraud and crimes related to his work as a political consultant in Ukraine.  Michael Cohen was convicted of tax evasion, bank fraud, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations. George Papadopoulos was convicted for lying to investigators about Russian contacts.

To add to this list is former Campaign lead Roger Stone who has just been convicted on seven counts of misleading Congress.  If you want to read a scathing analysis of what he did wrong and the implications for the Impeachment inquiry then this piece by Charles P Pierce at Esquire is a stand out piece of writing.  Short version he says that Stone’s morality is such that he would engage in marital relations with rodents for political gain.

Professional ratfcker Roger Stone, a blight on American politics for five decades, has fcked his last rat. On Friday, during a recess in the committee hearings into one of his former boss’s other abuses of power, Stone was convicted on all seven counts on which he’d been called to the bar, and no sartorial cock-of-the-walk narcissism can save him this time.

I remember being nauseated watching him get treated like a star at the Republican National Convention in 2016, and even more deeply nauseated watching him gallivant around the Capitol dressed like Mr. Peanut’s evil twin during the inauguration that same year. For all his celebrated “eccentricity,” Roger Stone is what democracy finds stuck to the bottom of its shoe on a hot summer’s day. Your time in the barrel has come, Roger, and the barrel’s gone over the falls. The bell has tolled. The cock has crowed, and maybe it wasn’t a good idea to spend the entire pre-trial period playacting the role of political tough-guy at the expense of the judge who now will sentence you on all seven counts on which you were indicted.

This was a big win for Robert Mueller, whose reputation as an investigator has been badly battered in recent weeks as it has become clear that his strict-constructionist view of his mandate left him incapable of confronting the limitless vista of corruption that is this administration. His prosecutors needed this one to validate their work. In addition, Stone was nailed for lying to Congress, which has to give pause to the people who will be testifying in public next week. (Hi, Gordon Sondland!). The conviction further validates the view that the Russian Story and the Ukraine Story are parts of a reeking whole. The entire noxious fabric is unravelling almost by the hour.

Stone has been using Alex Jones to send messages to the President that he should be pardoned.  The plan is that crazy you never know it just might work.

Because Trump has recently used the presidential pardon for some unusual people.  Like the former US army commando set to stand trial next year in the killing of a suspected Afghan bomb-maker and a former army lieutenant convicted of murder after he ordered his men to fire upon three Afghans and killed two.  And just for kicks he ordered a promotion for a Navy Seal convicted of posing with a dead Islamic State captive in Iraq.

And if you think that things are getting really strange details have been released about a White House meeting between Rudy Guliani’s mates Lev Parnas and Igor  Fruman and the President where the order was allegedly given to get the Ukraine Government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

Trump denies meeting them.  Facebook disagrees.

Maybe Trump is right.  Maybe there are hundreds or thousands of Ukraines who think that Trump has told them to go and get that dirt on Biden.  Maybe Trump had forgotten them even though CNN has tracked at least ten occasions where Trump met with Parnas and Fruman.

Trump has thrown Guliani under the bus by telling reporters they should talk with Rudy about Parnas and Fruman who are currently facing charges including conspiracy to violate the ban on foreign donations to federal and state elections, making false statements and falsifying records.  Rudy says he has insurance.

And the circus that is the Impeachment hearing is in full swing.  The right is trying to say that it is boring and there is nothing to see.  The evidence is dry and detailed.  But if you are not concerned then you have not been watching closely enough.

The Republicans are putting up a fight and trying to disrupt and divert attention and no doubt the Republican Senate will refuse to impeach.  But it going to be fun watching them squirm and deny.  If not deeply worrying.

Interesting times …

38 comments on “Just another typical week in US politics ”

  1. Siobhan 1

    Impeachment could well be a disaster for the Progressives trying to get their message out …which in turn may well kneecap the Democrats chances at gaining any sort of clear victory..again

    "That would keep those six candidates stuck in Washington, acting as jurors – and out of Iowa and other key early states — in the critical final weeks before the caucuses.

    "We will have to convene every day, six days out of seven," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently told reporters. President Bill Clinton's 1999 impeachment trial lasted more than a month. The only other impeachment trial in U.S. history, President Andrew Johnson's, ran on and off for more than two months.

    Even if a Trump trial only lasts a few weeks, it will still effectively freeze campaigning for Warren, Harris, Booker, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet." (side note: I do love the way he buried Bernies name)

    https://www.npr.org/2019/11/06/776182132/a-disaster-impeachment-could-sideline-senators-in-2020-presidential-campaign

    but then I'm sure the Polosi and DNC were well aware of that…

    and this..another example of who does and who doesn’t get charged with pergury..

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/lawmakers-want-james-clapper-prosecuted-for-surveillance-testimony-before-statute-of-limitations-runs-out

    and this..

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/07/the-us-has-a-long-history-of-election-meddling/565538/

    • Andre 1.1

      I'm curious, do you think Pelosi should have just ignored the blatant ongoing violations of constitution oaths and obligations, trashing of national security interests for personal political advantage, and who the fuck knows what all else?

      Ignore all that, to do what else, exactly?

    • lprent 1.2

      I think that the key point about the Clapper incident is related to the usage of committees inside congress when dealing with security issues. Your link about Clapper said:-

      Still, defense attorney Mark Zaid, who works with national security whistleblowers seeking to lawfully come forward, scoffed at the idea of Clapper standing trial.

      “I can't fathom he would ever be prosecuted. And I honestly don't think it's so black or white as to a conviction. It's more complicated than people see," he said.

      Zaid said that “Clapper was faced with a difficult choice: reveal classified information or respond in a [manner] that is not accurate,” and that although “there is no specific national security defense” for perjury, he believes “an argument can be made that he didn't lie to Congress because that committee knew the information already. [Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron] Wyden essentially trapped him intentionally.”

      Essentially the position Clapper was in was to either violate the restrictions about revealing classified information in public or to give false information to congress. The reason that he was put in that position was because a senator who (presumably) already knew the answer and presumably knew its security classification attempted to cause Clapper to break the law either way. Like Zaid, I suspect that any court proceedings would hang up on that issue. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if Wyden was pulled up in front of whatever the senatorial equivalent of the privileges committee is for deliberate entrapment.

      This is rather different to the position that someone like Roger Stone was in. There were no such conflicts of legal interests there. He was just lying to cover his own arse and that of his employer – Donald Trump. Moreover from the evidence presented to the court he was encouraging at least one other person to deliberately lie to congress as well. I don’t think that your comparision is in any way a valid one.

      On a separate note – less about intent and more about simple mechanics. The question of if the information about pickup of US domestic surveillance in the course of a different task should have been classified at all is pretty much a separate issue.,/p>

      That there are signals surveillance programs that target overseas intelligence sources has been well known for more than 100 years – for instance the Zimmerman telegram. By-catch is inevitable.

      For me, the only real thing that I see is really the by-catch issue – which happens in all surveillance operations – for example the by-catch of human activities whilst looking at wild-life through cameras. I've been thinking this one over ever since I read that article yesterday.

    • Macro 1.3

      And yet in Louisiana – a state where Trump won in 2016 by 20% points the race for Governor is really close with the incumbent Democrat Edwards ahead of his Republican rival by around 33,000 votes with 98.5% of the vote counted. Note that because of a rather unusual electoral system in this State, Edwards snuck in last time in 2015 because he was facing 2 Republican candidates. It seems that not only has he secured and maintained his majority (despite the fact that just yesterday Trump was exhorting the people of Louisiana to vote Republican), the Trump factor is no where near what it was in 2016.

      *Admittedly Edwards is one of the more conservative Democrats – but with the recent win by a Democrat for Governor in Kansas (again after Trump begging voters not to let it happen) – I believe it illustrates that the race for the White House and even a small majority in the Senate is not an unthinkable objective for Democrats and that the "Blue Wave" evidenced in the 2018 elections is still surging. Recent polling also puts the top Democrat candidates – Biden, Warren, and Sanders ahead of Trump in the 3 crucial states .

      • Andre 1.3.1

        So boooooring this year.

        Oh for the good old days in Louisiana gubernatorial politics, when winning slogans were things like "Vote for the crook, it's important" and "Vote for the lizard, not the wizard"

      • lprent 1.3.2

        Good to hear. Was looking at that this morning in NYT (?) in the morning read. Nope it was the US ABC.

        But here is the NYT
        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/16/us/louisiana-governor-edwards-rispone.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

        I bet there will be a recount there. Face saving and trying to spread the loss over enough time to dissipate it’s shock effect. Basically supporting Trump doesn’t deliver the votes for Republican candidates.

        • Andre 1.3.2.1

          The incumbency effect is astonishingly strong in many parts of the US. It's pretty much the only reason Doug Jones has a fighting chance of keeping his Senate seat in Alabama next year (along with the way Sessions will have the spiteful tinyfingers trashing him, and Cradlesnatcher Moore is having another go).

        • Macro 1.3.2.2

          Basically supporting Trump doesn’t deliver the votes for Republican candidates.

          I really hope that this is the take away for Republican Senators as the approach the inevitable Impeachment. The "See No Evil – Hear No Evil" while "Speaking Loads of Evil" approach that they are currently pursuing is being seen for what it is.

          If the Republican Senators do find a backbone then it will be be interesting. Then again Pence, from the latest testimonials, is also implicated in the "deal"! So it might just be a bridge too far. The circling of the wagons is all they can do at the moment.

          BTW the latest Louisiana Results are available here:

          https://www.vox.com/2019/11/16/20963502/louisiana-election-results-live-edwards-rispone

          Edwards leads by 3%. and around 40,000 votes.

          • joe90 1.3.2.2.1

          • Andre 1.3.2.2.2

            Thing is, there's no good path forward for Repug senators, since none of them have any remaining vestiges of spines, principles or courage. Vote for conviction, and face the wrath of the drumpfkins at their next primary. One could almost feel sorry for them, if any of them showed even a residual glimmer of humanity inside those empty containers they're shuffling around in.

            At this stage, their only hope for political survival is to continue deflecting and gaslighting to keep the base onside, and hope like hell they keep enough swing voters to remain viable. Along with trying to make their Dem opponent look even worse by whatever ugly lying tactics might work. Sadly, this will actually work for almost all of them.

      • joe90 1.3.3

        Aan ugly dawn is breaking over at Free Republic.

  2. Andre 2

    Speaking of Sondland, looks like he's gonna have to choose to have a miraculous recovery from a major bout of selective amnesia that goes way beyond the "correction to the record" he's already submitted, or play Sgt Schultz for 10 hours straight.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/transcript-testimony-sondland-williams-morrison_n_5dd085d2e4b0294748186552

    • joe90 2.1

      I guess the Stone verdict is keeping Mr Sondland up.

    • Macro 2.2

      Yep! And the damning evidence just keeps on coming.

      • Macro 2.2.1

        • Macro 2.2.1.1

          ”It was the first time something like this had been injected as a condition to release the aid,” Morrison said.

  3. joe90 3

    Setting himself up to announce that due to some mysterious ailment he's being forced to resign?

    And then Pence will pardon him, of course..

    President Donald Trump underwent a "quick exam and labs" as part of his annual physical exam on Saturday, out of anticipation of a "very busy 2020," the White House said.

    Trump, 73, made an unannounced visit Saturday afternoon to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

    A source with knowledge of the matter told CNN that Trump's trip to Walter Reed was not on his schedule as of Friday. The White House declined to comment on when the trip was scheduled.

    "Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/16/politics/trump-annual-physical-walter-reed/index.html

  4. Macro 4

    Just to remind ourselves just how corrupt this current US Administration is – a picture is worth a 1000 words.

    cartoon%20-%202019-03-27

  5. joe90 5

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1195462332358516737.html

  6. Adrian Thornton 6

    I get the fear and outright hatred Trump has brought out of so many people, he deserves most of it, but It's hard to watch people with whom I might not always agree with, but are obviously sincere on the 'Left' get so easily lead around by the nose by none other than the CIA and FBI. It has become so bad now that liberal news channels in the US now actually hire former intelligence officials like former CIA Director John Brennan (MSNBC) and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (CNN) to analyze the investigation.

    And now on a lazy Sunday afternoon in New Zealand on The Standard I see this Russia hysteria brought to you directly by the CIA, given more oxygen..

    ."All roads lead to Russia",

    " I mean why wouldn’t you be concerned if the Russians were able to manipulate the election result?"

    " During the campaign Trump did not seem to think that it was a problem. After all the Russians were backing him."

    Maybe some of you need to watch The Power of Nightmares, The Rise of the Politics of Fear, again..no seriously you really do!

    Or for something more contemporary..

    Ukrainegate impeachment saga worsens US-Russia Cold War

    • Andre 6.1

      Yeah micky, whatever you do, don't mention the russians.

      Or fail to properly lay the blame for all that's wrong in the world at the door of the CIA and FBI.

  7. Adrian Thornton 7

    Andre, I am just wondering, have you ever thought in those quiet moments, (Sundays can often be a good time for this) that maybe you could to do a little bit of self reflection..I am saying this because I wouldn't want to see you ending up looking unhinged and out of touch like the establishment DNC and talking heads on liberal MSM, who quite openly and proudly have not spent any time what so ever self reflecting on their historic and embarrassing loss to Trump in 2016 or lately on having their whole Russiagate conspiracy theory crumble into a pile of dust around them..or are you really going to let them make a fool of you yet again with this pointless Ukrainegate that in your heart of hearts you know will go absolutely nowhere and will only help Trump in the end.

    Go on do it pal..do it for your own good….maybe just try saying this little mantra to yourself again and again until you start to feel the effects of your self induced hysteria slowly subside…."The Russians mean me no harm..The Russians mean me no harm"..go on try saying it out loud..empower yourself man!

    Русские не обидят тебя!

    • McFlock 7.1

      Well, if we're giving out advice, cool bananas.

      I've always found a good rule of thumb is "the person with the most reliable view of things tends to be the one most capable of writing a short, coherent sentence".

      • Adrian Thornton 7.1.1

        OK my advice is..don't trust any adult that uses the term 'cool bananas' in a conversation with another adult, I don't know why, but it's just somehow not right.

    • Stuart Munro. 7.2

      How about you learn a mantra yourself Adrian.

      The CIA is the FSB is the MSS.

      None of them mean us well, nor, outside of certain limits, do the states that deploy them.

  8. Peter 8

    It's another seminal moment for the US. They honour, well, by words anyway, their Constitution, they regard it with some sanctity. Their Supreme Court and all the doings around that have a sort of Ten Commandments level of status. It seems their courts and legal systems have standing and studies of law and Colleges of law have history, gravitas and honour. They see themselves a country of high ideals, principles and values.

    When it gets down to it though, if Trump should be deemed to be guilty of anything against the spirit of the Great Nation all that honour stuff, all the stuff about integrity, ethics, morals and principle will seemingly be down the toilet. Political partisanship will rule. That event will be another day America dies.

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