Thursday, March 01, 2018

What Happens When Trump World Melts Down? We're Getting A Preview Now


The big news late yesterday was a NY Times report that Kushner-in-law’s solicited and accepted a $184 million bribe (called "a loan" in naive circles) for his family firm from Apollo Global Management after founder Joshua Harris made “regular” visits to the White House. "Among other things," Jesse Drucker reported for The Times, "the two men discussed a possible White House job for Mr. Harris... Even by the standards of Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the previously unreported transaction with the Kushners was a big deal: It was triple the size of the average property loan made by Apollo’s real estate lending arm, securities filings show." Kushner also sweet-talked a $325 million loan Citigroup’s crooked CEO Michael Corbat.
There is little precedent for a top White House official meeting with executives of companies as they contemplate sizable loans to his business, say government ethics experts.

“This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests,” said Don Fox, the former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration and, before that, a lawyer for the Air Force and Navy during Republican and Democratic administrations. “The appearance of conflicts of interest is simply too great.”

...Kushner’s tenure in the White House has been dogged by questions about conflicts of interest between his government work and his family business, in which he remains heavily invested. Mr. Kushner steers American policy in the Middle East, for example, but his family company continues to do deals with Israeli investors.

This blurring of lines is now a potential liability for Mr. Kushner, who recently lost his top-secret security clearance amid worries from some United States officials that foreign governments might try to gain influence with the White House by doing business with Mr. Kushner.
This comes right on top of reports that Chinese, Israeli, Mexican and Qatari officials were found to be discussing ways they might be able to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his business arrangements, financial difficulties, and lack of foreign policy experience. "Kushner’s interim security clearance was downgraded last week from the top-secret to the secret level," reported the Washington Post, "which should restrict the regular access he has had to highly classified information, according to administration officials."
H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster’s daily intelligence briefings, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Within the White House, Kushner’s lack of government experience and his business debt were seen from the beginning of his tenure as potential points of leverage that foreign governments could use to influence him, the current and former officials said.

They could also have legal implications. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has asked people about the protocols Kushner used when he set up conversations with foreign leaders, according to a former U.S. official.

Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was “naive and being tricked” in conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel, said one former White House official.
Many are guessing that John Kelly is throwing Kushner under the bus. CNN reported that "[t]he existing battle-lines between Jared Kushner and chief of staff John Kelly are further entrenched and new diplomatic challenges have arisen after the decision to downgrade Kushner's security clearance, people familiar with the matter say... The series of events led to uncertainty in the West Wing and an impression among officials that Kushner is again on the ropes. Kelly, who mandated the clearance downgrades, has been regarded as his chief antagonist... [H]e not intending to leave his position in the near-term."

We'll see. There's already talk that Kushner may leave his White House job as senior advisor to Trumpanzee and shift to the 2020 reelection campaign. Politico reporterd that "those in the administration who have long resented Kushner are quietly experiencing some schadenfreude over the firestorm.
“Let’s not forget the early, eye-rolling days when the national security and foreign policy trio was of Reince, Bannon and Jared who have now been replaced by Kelly, McMaster, Mattis, and Tillerson,” an administration official told Politico. This person added that these days, people “whose first title does not begin with secretary, general or director” are at a disadvantage when it comes to national security and foreign policy.

Kushner’s recent focus on the 2020 election has led some in the White House to wonder whether he’ll eventually transition out of the West Wing to become an adviser to his father-in-law’s reelection bid. Trump’s newly announced campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is a close ally of Kushner’s and the two men speak on the phone regularly.

Kushner has seen his close circle of allies shrink in recent weeks with the departure of Reed Cordish, a staffer in Kushner’s Office of American Innovation, and the decision by spokesman Josh Raffel, a key defender of Kushner and his wife, to leave the administration in the coming months.

People close to Kushner do not expect him to make a sudden departure-- unless more damaging news stories make his continued presence in the White House untenable. If he does leave, he’s expected to do so on his own terms, administration officials said.

Even before this week, Kushner had become a regular subject of gossip in the White House as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election heats up. For weeks, some aides have been reluctant to speak freely in front of Kushner because they see him as a potential target of Mueller's probe, according to the administration official.

Kushner’s moment under the microscope has coincided with White House chief of staff John Kelly’s rise. Since joining the White House in July, Kelly has sought to limit access to Trump and eliminate any perceived special treatment that the president might give to favored aides.
This morning Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen reported for Axios that the White House is more chaotic and simmering with acrimony than usual. Trumpanzee is "in a bad place-- mad as hell about the internal chaos and the sense that things are unraveling... Trump is in a bad, mad place, feeling ill-served and confined by staff. The people he genuinely enjoys and feels close to are gone (Keith Schiller), leaving (Hope) or getting pounded in the press (Jared). The restraints are almost fully loosened, and what staff sees in private is more public than ever. We have never seen top officials this concerned, defeated."

I wonder if he reads Red State. This morning, the far right publication, lashing out about Trump's disrespect of Jeff Sessions, wrote that "Trump’s stunted mental state and emotional retardation is best displayed when he, as a 71 year old man, begins lashing out at those who won’t allow him his way by making up names for them, rather than calmly discussing issues."
“Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hillary”… these are all the result of peak mania in the brain of Trump.

There’s no one he won’t attack or attempt to demean, even his supporters, because Donald Trump is a snake. He is coldblooded and he has loyalty for no one.

And now he’s turning his childish rage on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has done everything, just short of publicly licking Trump’s boots, in order to regain favor in the eyes of his master.

Sessions, while still a U.S. senator, was the first lawmaker to jump on board the Trump train, and he even wrote Trump’s immigration policy for him, giving Trump a platform to stand on and making him seem a serious candidate for the presidency.

Because of that, on the one hand, I’m thinking, “Bury him. Nobody has done more to earn scorn and derision than Jeff Sessions.”
That was Red State, not the failing NY Times.

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At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that Red State is attacking Trump. He is now in the process of losing what support he had (except for the 33% of two-digit IQs who still can't understand the reality of the situation). A President Pence has to be looking much better to Republican leaders even if they aren't yet ready to pull the trigger on Trump's ejection. It won't be long, however.

Now if only there was another political party which represented the people of the US and worked to improve their condition.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

We had better be on red alert as Trump is cornered, all alone in the White House with only Javanka to turn to. And Jared sure has his own problems right now. Who knows how Trump will lash out but it will be terrible and hurt our country for sure.

They should all be in prison! Corrupt conspirators, all of them. They have been using the White House as their own personal feeding trough to fill their limitless greed. Shame on us all for letting this man and the whole Republican Party ruin our democracy.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Thomas Ten Bears said...

Raw Story is reporting McMaster now out.

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone saith: "Shame on us all for letting (specificity irrelevant) ruin our democracy."

Yes. Shame on us. Shame on us for letting Clinton et al form the DLC, corrupting the party and then, instead of shunning them all, continuing to elect them.
Shame on us for electing the likes of cheney/bush and trump as our reaction to horrid democrap admins.
Shame on us for being too stupid to figure out who is screwing us and why.

Nobody ruined our democracy. We've been electing our perfect majority mirror image every time. That's democracy.

When the electorate is stupid and evil, a democratically elected government cannot be any good. We've seen this now for 4 decades. Still haven't figured out that it isn't Rs nor Ds. As Pogo once said: "we have met the enemy and (it) is US".


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