Thursday, May 24, 2018

How Far Will Trump Go To Avoid The Consequences Of His Criminal Behavior? We All Know The Answer


This morning we looked at some polling data from Politico and Morning Consult but I was focused on Trump and on gun control and didn't get into the section of the poll that dealt with Robert Mueller. The pollsters asked how registered voters felt about some prominent figures who haven't been elected to office:
Melania Trump: Favorable- 48%, Unfavorable- 32%
Ivanka Trump: Favorable- 38%, Unfavorable- 41%
Kushner-in-law: Favorable- 18%, Unfavorable- 43%
Kellyanne Conway: Favorable- 21%, Unfavorable- 41%
Jeff Sessions: Favorable- 16%, Unfavorable- 47%
Robert Mueller: Favorable- 32%, Unfavorable- 31%
36% had either never heard of Mueller or had no opinion. The pollsters also asked a question about Putin-Gate. 1- How important of a priority should investigating some of President Trump's campaign officials for alleged connections or contacts with the Russian government during the 2016 elections be?
A top priority- 34%
An important but lower priority- 17%
Not too important a priority- 16%
Should not be done- 22%
Right afterwards I came across a new Navigator Research survey finding that 59% of Americans believe that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has not yet uncovered evidence of crimes. This is sad since Mueller has already obtained five guilty pleas and 17 criminal indictments. Writing for Vox, Matthew Yglesias commented on the finding: "That suggests that the press as a whole has not done a good job of actually conveying factual information to our audience, that Democrats’ messaging on the investigation has not been clear enough on the most damning point (Trump, even if otherwise innocent, is guilty of hiring crooks and trying to prevent an investigation into their activity), and that Trump’s counterstrategy of muddying the waters around the investigation has been fairly successful."

Yesterday Trump spoke at the dinner the anti-Choice Susan B. Anthony List gave and you can see how inevitable it is for Trump to muddy any water even when he isn't trying to:

Worse still that so many different people imply they speak for Trump, even Bannon who Trump fired, noting that Bannon had "lost his mind." Speaking on the record to the BBC in the U.K. yesterday, Bannon predicted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could be fired "very shortly." He said that Rosenstein "either…is going to take the direct order of the President of the United States or I think Rosenstein will be fired."

2 fascists

And speaking of the BBC, their sources in Kiev claim that Trump's personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, "received a secret payment of at least $400,000 [another source said $600,000] to set talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump... The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law." And sure enough the meeting between Trumpanzee and Poroshenko took place in the White House 11 months ago.
Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country's anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

A high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer in Mr Poroshenko's administration described what happened before the visit to the White House.

Mr Cohen was brought in, he said, because Ukraine's registered lobbyists and embassy in Washington DC could get Mr Poroshenko little more than a brief photo-op with Mr Trump. Mr Poroshenko needed something that could be portrayed as "talks."

...Avenatti said that Suspicious Activity Reports filed by Mr Cohen's bank to the US Treasury showed he had received money from "Ukrainian interests."

...As was widely reported last June, Mr Poroshenko was still guessing at how much time he would have with Mr Trump even as he flew to Washington.

The White House schedule said only that Mr Poroshenko would "drop in" to the Oval Office while Mr Trump was having staff meetings.

That had been agreed through official channels. Mr Cohen's fee was for getting Mr Poroshenko more than just an embarrassingly brief few minutes of small talk and a handshake, the senior official said. But negotiations continued until the early hours of the day of the visit.

The Ukrainian side were angry, the official went on, because Mr Cohen had taken "hundreds of thousands" of dollars from them for something it seemed he could not deliver.

Right up until the last moment, the Ukrainian leader was uncertain if he would avoid humiliation.

"Poroshenko's inner circle were shocked by how dirty this whole arrangement [with Cohen] was."

Mr Poroshenko was desperate to meet Mr Trump because of what had happened in the US presidential election campaign.

In August 2016, the New York Times published a document that appeared to show Mr Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, getting millions of dollars from pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

It was a page of the so-called "black ledger" belonging to the Party of the Regions, the pro-Russian party that employed Mr Manafort when he ran a political consultancy in Ukraine.

The page appeared to have come from Ukraine's National Anti Corruption Bureau, which was investigating him. Mr Manafort had to resign.

Several sources in Ukraine said Mr Poroshenko authorised the leak, believing that Hillary Clinton was certain to win the presidency.

If so, this was a disastrous mistake-- Ukraine had backed the losing candidate in the US election. Regardless of how the leak came about, it hurt Mr Trump, the eventual winner.

Ukraine was (and remains) at war with Russia and Russian-backed separatists and could not afford to make an enemy of the new US president.

So Mr Poroshenko appeared relieved as he beamed and paid tribute to Mr Trump in the Oval Office.

He boasted that he had seen the new president before Russia's leader, Vladimir Putin. He called it a "substantial visit." He held a triumphant news conference in front of the north portico of the White House.

A week after Mr Poroshenko returned home to Kiev, Ukraine's National Anti Corruption Bureau announced that it was no longer investigating Mr Manafort.

At the time, an official there explained to me that Mr Manafort had not signed the "black ledger" acknowledging receipt of the money. And anyway, he went on, Mr Manafort was American and the law allowed the bureau only to investigate Ukrainians.

Ukraine did not terminate the Manafort inquiry altogether. The file was handed from the Anti Corruption Bureau to the state prosecutor's office. It languished there.

Last week in Kiev, the prosecutor in charge of the case, Serhiy Horbatyuk, told me: "There was never a direct order to stop the Manafort inquiry but from the way our investigation has progressed, it's clear that our superiors are trying to create obstacles."

None of our sources say that Mr Trump used the Oval Office meeting to ask Mr Poroshenko to kill the Manafort investigation. But if there was a back channel, did Michael Cohen use it to tell the Ukrainians what was expected of them?

Perhaps he didn't need to.

One source in Kiev said Mr Poroshenko had given Trump "a gift"-- making sure that Ukraine would find no more evidence to give the US inquiry into whether the Trump campaign "colluded" with Russia.

Mr Poroshenko knew that to do otherwise, another source said, "would be like spitting in Trump's face."
This week two good Trump-watchers in the media, Jonathan Chait and Gabriel Sherman have both finally let the cat out of the bag: Trumpanzee is-- as many have suspected-- is crazy and that Trump world runs of crackpot conspiracy theories. Sherman went first: "People in Trump’s orbit have become convinced that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion—and that former C.I.A. director John Brennan is somehow behind the plot. “If I were him, I’d break the capsule and swallow it now,” one longtime confidant says." Roger Stone told Sherman that "The F.B.I. thing really set him over the edge."
Trump’s scorched-earth strategy has been in place since Rudy Giuliani replaced Trump’s long-suffering lawyers John Dowd and Ty Cobb. At first, it looked as if it were careening off course, as Giuliani gave off a series of erratic and combative interviews. Some speculated that Trump might be unhappy with his performance, but sources I spoke to say Trump is pleased. This is the plan. “Rudy doesn’t do anything without Trump’s permission,” said one Republican close to the White House. The strategy grew out of conversations Trump has held in recent weeks with a group of outside advisers that include Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows, House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes, Sean Hannity, Dave Bossie and Corey Lewandowski, among others. “People think Trump is angry, but he likes the direction this is going,” an outside White House adviser said.

According to people familiar with Trump’s thinking, his team is attempting to build the case that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion. The theory goes that the F.B.I. later used these contacts with the Russians to delegitimize his presidency. Trump’s advisers say the intelligence community believed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but in case she didn’t, they concocted this elaborate plot to remove Trump from office. “Just when you think it can’t get stranger, it does,” a Trump adviser told me. Stone claims the anti-Trump conspiracy includes senior intelligence officials from the Barack Obama administration. “The guy who will end up burning in all down."

...Trumpworld’s current mind-set makes continued extra-legal conflict with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein inevitable, and the well-dissected dangers of firing one or both have not served to take this nuclear option off the table. Trump has been bonding over how corrupt Mueller's investigation is. “Rudy is telling him what he wants to hear,” said a Trump ally. But “it would be catastrophic if he fires Mueller.” In the past, many Republicans shared this view. Now, they might not be so opposed.
Chait pointed out that Trump's FBI spy theory is completely insane. Folks in he media should be using that word more frequently.
In the face of widening evidence of Trump campaign culpability in the Russia investigation, Republicans have churned through a frequently mutating series of conspiracy theories to defend him. The latest, and possibly final, such theory, involves an informant used by the FBI to report on the campaign’s connections to Russia, whom Trump has promoted to “spy,” or possibly multiple spies. “A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign. If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country,” Trump told reporters yesterday. “That would be one of the biggest insults that anyone has ever seen.” Trump has mixed his insinuations with dark threats of revenge. “Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State,” he tweeted this morning, “They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!”

Trump’s ability to comprehend objective reality is characteristically cracked. But his confidence that the array of forces are shifting to his benefit, and that he may turn the tables on his enemies, has a real basis in reality. He is bringing his party, and the powers it commands, around to his warped manner of thinking.

The spy theory holds that the FBI, working on orders from the Obama administration, implanted a spy into the Trump campaign in order to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

...Trump may be forming an even more radical theory. Gabriel Sherman reports that Trump’s team “is attempting to build the case that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion.” Let this roll around in your mind for a moment. Trump is not merely accusing the FBI of planting a spy, but of planting evidence.

“The president himself is convinced that the secret F.B.I. informant who reportedly met with several Trump campaign advisers in 2016 was not merely an informant, but an Obama political operative,” Sherman reports. “One administration official told me the theory has become so widely accepted that people in the West Wing are paranoid that the F.B.I. has multiple informants working to take down Trump.”

Planting evidence? Multiple spies? Obama political operatives? You might think this is all so unhinged Trump could not possibly believe it, but then, you would have to explain Trump’s longtime infatuation with the conspiracy theories he imbibes in his binge-watching of Fox News, where hours of air time can pass by without the appearance of anybody who is hinged. And you might also think Trump could not get his party to go along with this theory, to dismiss all the evidence of culpability as having been fabricated by a pro-Obama cabal in the FBI. But then you would be ignoring how far down the Trump rabbit hole the Republican Party has gone so far.
How many people have you heard saying, "At least Nixon was patriotic" lately. Trump would sooner engineer a civil war than step down or allow himself to be forced out no matter what Mueller finds.

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At 5:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"36% had either never heard of Mueller or had no opinion."

I find this astounding. It seems to me that one would have to work so hard at being so isolated that the incessant bombardment of coverage of Mueller's investigation that it doesn't reach that one could do nothing else. It's as if this large segment of the population has put in the ear plugs, put on the eyeshades, and willingly knew where to put the cork.

And as the Americatanic sinks into the the icy waters of fascist corporatism, they revel in the knowledge that they at least have seats in First Class.

At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"36% had either never heard of Mueller or had no opinion."

Actually, maybe that 36% is just waiting for Mueller to do something before forming an opinion.

I lean toward unfavorable. But I'm a cynic. There is a lot of evidence he's just running out the clock and isn't working hard at all to find what even our lamest of lame journalists have already proved. But I suppose there is a miniscule chance that he's just being very thorough... however now that I wrote that I kind of had a visceral revulsion... whatever.

Almost all polling these days proves that americans are simply the dumbest motherfuckers in the entire history of humankind. A population this stupid cannot possibly "elect" a useful government.

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:33, remember in your analogy that most in first class got the seats on the lifeboats while all in steerage got to drown.

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There aren't any lifeboats this time, 6:05. They cost the corporate owners money and requirements for them were eliminated.

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Water wings then. The rich are NOT going down with the ship. Bank on this.

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only in their own minds, 12:57. Shit dissolves in water.


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