H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
Just ask the axis, he knows everything
Jimi Hendrix; Bold as Love.
I was surprised yesterday by the Mueller court action involving Michael Cohen. Caught totally off-guard. In fact, I was writing an essay for this forum on a different topic, when the first reports were being carried by CNN and MSNBC. Within minutes, I knew the bit I was working on could wait I'd write something on Cohen's plea instead. But as more news came in, I recognized that it would take at least a day to seriously consider the full implications.
A day and a half later, I realize that I am still only able to scratch the surface. The more I think about it, the more blown away I am. And it's not just because of the mainstream media reporting .one of the finest reviews of what this means comes from DU's kentuck. Now, this comes as no surprise, because this forum still has many insightful members who had, years ago, provided similarly high-quality insights on the Plame scandal. Here is a link to kentuck's OP:
This is outstanding, because kentuck recognizes that Mr. Mueller provided information that serves as the axis for understanding virtually all of the connected parts of what is the largest and most dangerous scandal in our nation's history. Literally everything revolves around this axis, thus making it far more important than a single guilty plea by Cohen.
As tempted to address how it connects to everything else a topic already covered in detail in David Corn and Michael Isikoff's outstanding book, Russian Roulette I'll focus on two important, related issues. The first has to do with Matthew Whitaker. Recently, when Trump tweeted about Mueller's team yelling at people, a couple people concluded this information came from Whitaker. At the time, I noted that it had come from Jerome Corsi and/or his legal team.
It's not that Whitaker wouldn't report to Trump and his legal team he would. But he couldn't have had access to this type of information. Likewise, contrary to some folk's fears, he doesn't have copies of the investigators' records to copy and share. It is important to understand how the Justice Department works. More, even as Mr. Rosenstein's supervisor, the attention that Whitaker's appointment has gotten has greatly reduced the chances of him interfering by attempting to limit the case. Things have gone too far. All Whitaker can do without a massive negative reaction is to relay what he hears to Trump.
Now, let's examine the implications of what Mr. Mueller spread upon the table yesterday. And let's do so, by considering what one of my favorite Watergate prosecutors, Jill Wine-Banks, says is important. She spoke briefly about part of this last night on MSNBC, and it is worth serious attention. It has to do with the Articles of Impeachment that were being prepared when Nixon resigned.
I realize that some good people do not believe the republican Senate would find against Trump if the House impeached him. It seems worth keeping an open mind as the process unfolds. Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have shown more interest in this scandal than those on the House committee. And things will be different by March, and very different by June, in ways that are devastating to Trump.
This entire document is worth reading. I want to focus on three of the sections of Article One: parts 3,4, and eight. These have to do with trying to influence witnesses, abuse of information from the Department of Justice, and lying to the public. That third one is important: lying to the public is not a crime, but lying about misdeeds is an impeachable offense.
Trump's attempt to build in Moscow may or may not have been a crime. But it did involve national security. And that's what Mr. Mueller's investigation has been about potential crimes and national security. Yesterday's events uncovered the axis.
Thoughts in time
and out of season.
The hitch-hiker leveled his thumb
in the calm calculus of reason.
This morning, I heard a person on television talk about the political calculus. The global calculus is easily defined: our allies fear Trump, and our enemies are emboldened by him. It's as simple as that.
Things become more complicated for future presidents when Russia decides to attack its neighbor, or when a Saudi Arabian prince decides to have a journalist murdered. They do not to consider if maybe Trump will respond, or maybe he won't. They know in advance.
Refugees from the violence in Central America are met with violence on our southern border. Images of infants being tear-gassed are justified by Trump claiming that their mother may not actually be their real mother. The perfect image of republican christianity as we enter the Christmas season no room at the inn, for the only vacancies to be found are in republican morals.
Feeling pressure from the synergy of the House election results and the Mueller investigation, Trump seeks the comfort of refuge in a KKK meeting in Mississippi, to support the most racist candidate since David Duke ran in Louisiana years ago. He rants for a candidate who is more of a national embarrassment than was Harriet Miers being nominated to the Supreme Court.
Adding to the surreal atmosphere, Alan Dershowitz makes a truthful public statement, in noting that Mr. Mueller's report will be devastating to Trump. Sages ask, Does this portend the End Times? For the Trump reign, perhaps. Several journalists questioned what he might know, other than what has been publicly reported? This great mystery is most easily explained by the fact that Alan communicates regularly with Trump's personal legal team.
Two plea deals are flushed down the drain in recent days. Jerome Corsi, a slightly melted human marshmallow with a facial rash, publicly claimed he turned down Mr. Mueller's offer, because it would have required him to make a guilty plea. He must have anticipated a plea deal that would declare him innocent.
Paul Manafort has found that Mr. Mueller doesn't play games. Some suspect he anticipates a pardon. But he has pleaded guilty to crimes that, if he were pardoned, would quickly result in state charges and convictions, we can safely conclude that he isn't looking for Trump to rescue him. Rather, Manafort knows he has already crossed some powerful Russian interests. These are the same interests that previously invested in Trump's businesses, and then his campaign for the presidency. It's not just that Trump can't deliver on those pesky sanctions .Manafort made promises he couldn't keep. His lies to investigators that have nixed his deal are due to his fear of those Russian interests being greater than his fear of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
Both Corsi and Manafort's roles are closely tied to Roger Stone. Another fringe player in their campaign work is Randy Credico. The chances of all four keeping their stories straight is remote. The chances of their out-smarting Mr. Mueller are zero.
Today's reporting on Manafort's visits to Assange are, by all definitions, explosive. One might go so far as to say they are devastating to Trump's claim that there was no collusion.
Trust in the process. We will find 2019 to be a wild year.
Just what background does Matthew Whitaker have besides being an outspoken critic of the Mueller investigation that resulted in Trump selecting him for acting Attorney General? I mean, just how does a failed political candidate, failed campaign manager, and failed and corrupt businessman make that sort of leap? Inquiring minds want to know! I think that one little-reported detail might shed light on why Trump picked this entirely unqualified specimen for this position.
Way back in time, or so it seems today, Trump was looking to hire an additional lawyer for his personal legal team. This was the position that would eventually be filled by Ty Cobb. The president was looking for someone who could serve as the public spokesman for his team, since this was at a time when the media was reporting damning evidence against Trump and his campaign at an alarming daily rate.
White House counsel Don McGahn was particularly concerned with information concerning Trump's efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation. He knew that he could not legally act as Trump's attorney, but he was still eager to try to assist Trump in dodging the unavoidable. Hence, he unofficially was tasked with trying to find just the right pitbull to handle the job of serving as the president's attack dog.
As a result, McGahn had Whitaker come to the White House to discuss the position. This was, of course, before Mr. Mueller would invite McGahn in to discuss potential efforts to obstruct the investigation including McGahn's telling Trump not to release his original letter firing Mr. Comey. In his discussions with Whitaker, McGahn shared information that placed the president in jeopardy.
Whitaker failed the interview process, which means he was viewed less capable than not only Ty Cobb, but eventually Rudy Giuliana, a fact that hardly qualifies him to serve as acting Attorney General. Yet he continued to try out for the position in an on-going series of attacks on the Mueller investigation he conducted in the media. This led to his being appointed as AG Sessions' chief of staff.
In September of this year, Whitaker's name again approached the surface of public attention. John Kelly referred to Whitaker as the president's eyes and ears in the Justice Department. Trump had met privately with Whitaker to discuss options for having the DOJ transfer its focus on the Trump-Russia scandal to you guessed it Hillary's e-mails. Trump may have difficulty in remembering these meetings with someone he simultaneously knew and didn't know.
For his part, Trump was so impressed with Whitaker that, also in early September, that he had Whitaker on his short list for replacing McGahn. But that would have removed Whitaker from his valued position as the president's eyes and ears in the DOJ. Someone convinced Trump that Whitaker might prove to be even more valuable after the November elections, in the post-Sessions DOJ that Whitaker had spoken so fondly of on CNN.
Had Whitaker's recent promotion passed by without the attention it has gotten, it is likely that he would have interfered with Mr. Mueller's investigation, now that it is reaching its critical phase. However, I am aware that some would call this speculation on my part. Fair enough. So let's look at two closely related issues that are not speculation.
Did Trump and Whitaker have an agreement that Whitaker would not recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation? A rational person would recognize that the issue was more likely unspoken, since both men had made their positions known publicly. Yet this isn't the final answer; it ignores the more likely possibility that Whitaker had engaged in related conversations previously with McGahn, who relayed this to Trump. Subsequently, McGahn had his 40+ hours of conversations with Mr. Mueller's team, during which Whitaker's name was surely brought up.
Now, Mr. Mueller's team does not leak. We know that. But I can say, with zero chance of error, that no one on the team was surprised when Trump appointed Whitaker as acting Attorney General. They are fully aware that in this position, under the current circumstances, the greatest threat that Whitaker poses is to continue to serve as Trump's eyes and ears, and to share critical information about the obstruction of justice investigation with the president's team. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it is very likely that Matt Whitaker is now a person of interest in the obstruction of justice investigation.
I, for one, look forward to Whitaker being called to testify before one or more House committees in early 2018.
Enjoy the show!
I like numbers. Always have, so long as I can remember. Even on a local level, they are important. When I served on the local school board, for example, even though the superintendent had a strong dislike for me, he trusted me on how the numbers played with the public, in terms of passing a budget. You have to take other things into consideration including social- economic issues and have an understanding of the vote totals from past budgets, in order to be able to present a budget that will pass.
Now, here's an interesting number: 1974. If we take into account federal, state, and local elections, Democrats won more mid-term elections in 2018 than we have since 1974. I think that helps to put into the proper perspective just how powerful the Blue Wave was this week. In 1974, of course, it was in large part a response to Richard Nixon's humiliation; in 2018, a response to Trump's corruption.
I worked on four contests this year. The candidates I worked for won all four. (I did not work on my son's local campaign, in which he won as well.) I cannot say I worked harder than ever before, as I am old and have been dealing with health issues. However, I was encouraged by the hard work of a number of college students. As an old man, nothing makes me happier.
There are many, many people who worked much harder than me on elections where Democratic candidates did not win. Their efforts are extremely important. For what we all participated in was democracy in action. And we need to keep that momentum going.
Back in 1974, citizens were concerned by what was called the imperial presidency. Kennedy family historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., had published a book with that title the year before. He documented how most presidents Democrats as well as republicans had expanded presidential powers beyond what the Constitution intended, always justifying it by claims of national security in times of war.
Today, this same phenomenon is taking place under Trump, although in this case, the president has an undeclared war on the Constitution and our form of federal government. He continues to attack the institutions of the government, the free press, and the rule of law. Firing Sessions was an expected attempt to interfere with the Mueller investigation; appointing Whitaker is proof positive.
The potential for Whitaker to abuse this position to protect Trump and others the exact purpose for Trump appointing him is real. It presents a threat to the rule of law. It may be that entities outside the executive branch can prevent him from doing so, but there is no question that obstruction is his primary goal.
Still, in the current context, it is actually better that Democrats will control the House of Representatives in 2018-2020, than the Senate. If the republicans ran the House, there would be no chance of them impeaching Trump, and sending it to the Senate. But the Democrats can, if the Mueller Report documents the just cause to do so. (It will.) Whitaker may attempt to hide the report, but the House can access it.
Then, Senate republicans will face a test that surpasses that in their ethical failure on Kavanaugh. The 2020 elections in the Senate will hold a greater opportunity for Democrats, regardless of whatever Whitaker may or may not do. Thus, the Senate republicans will be forced to make a decision not based upon ethics or the rule of law, but entirely upon self-preservation: do they want to hitch their re-election hopes on Trump's wagon?
And that brings us back to numbers. The 2018 elections shows the power of democracy begins at the grass roots' level. In order to repair the damage that Trump has done, and continues to do, it is essential that the Democrats in the grass roots remain active now and in the days to come. The public demonstrations in support of Mr. Mueller are outstanding. But we need to apply pressure as individuals on the current House and Senate, including republicans in office. Phone calls and e-mails are good, but actual postcards and letters are even better. Let's increase those numbers.
I suspect that Mr. Mueller is preparing to file at least two more indictments soon; I'm hoping for one to be unsealed today, though it may not happen until late next week. At least one is currently sealed in status. There is nothing Whitaker can do to stop it. But, if not before another is filed (which I believe that Mr. Rosenstein has already given the green light to), Whitaker will almost certainly attempt to try to derail the on-going investigation.
Our side, however, is not only stronger, but we are right. Let's continue to exercise our strength. It's the right thing to do.
My younger son won the election for town justice; the results were 514 to 5 in his favor.
Make way for the positive day
'Cause it's a new time, a new day
It's a new feeling, a new sign
Oh what a new day!
Bob Marley; Positive Vibration
Yesterday morning, I heard one of my dogs barking. Looking out the window, I could see his tail wagging in a rapid circle, which indicated a friend was walking up my long driveway. I walked outside, and met a young lady, who I would estimate to be around 70 years old. She said that she hated to bother me on a Sunday morning, but wanted to encourage me to vote for Democratic candidates on Tuesday.
As she was listing the Democrats who will be on the local ballot including my younger son I asked her how she thought the contests would go? She said that she was cautiously optimistic, but very nervous. As the day turned to afternoon then evening, I had about a dozen phone calls from associates around the region; all of them gave the same answer to my question: cautiously optimistic.
My favorite call of the day was from my cousin, who survived the road rage shooting that killed his son. My cousin is set to drive elderly people from the rural areas surrounding his home town to the polls tomorrow. He is one of a number of such Democratic volunteers throughout our county. He is also cautiously optimistic about the local and nationwide elections.
Looking at fave book, I see that student activists that I am in regular contact with are also volunteering to provide rides to those in need. These young people are from a variety of public and private universities across upstate New York. My younger daughter my only student at this point had called me two weeks ago, when she sent her ballot in. In both of the contests where a republican was running unopposed, she did a write-in for me. No republican should ever be unopposed, she told me.
Her brother looks to be a pretty safe bet to win his election at the town level. He and his brother did virtually all of his campaign work. They have a lot of experience, and I am proud that they showed me that they are entirely capable of carrying on our family tradition. In another four years, they will be running my son for state office.
I went to the grocery store to pick up enough food for the next few days. I prefer to go late at night, when the store is near empty, but went in the early afternoon instead. I ran into a couple old friends. They both wanted to talk about the elections. Both were cautiously optimistic.
I like that all of these people are cautiously optimistic. I respect that. However, I am very optimistic. I think that we will recapture the House of Representatives. Win some governors' races. The Senate may or may not change; however, in 2020, we are in a very good position to take the Senate. And the republicans planning to run for re-election know that. That is important.
Other than voting tomorrow, there is only one thing left to do: I want to thank everyone here who has worked for Democratic Party victories, and who has or will be voting.
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