Sunday, April 02, 2017
FOLLOW THE DEAD RUSSIANS
70 Days of Trump
By Jack Random
Through nine weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump has stumbled like a blind man without a cane from one incident to another, demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that he is ill equipped for any facet of the job.
The great blessing of every inhabitant of the planet is that our president has not yet stumbled into a major catastrophe. He has not yet done harm that cannot be undone. He has not committed us to war or sold the Grand Canyon. He has signed a lot of presidential decrees, hosted photo shoots and tossed random accusations in all directions but he has in fact done very little. Let us all hope it stays that way.
This is the tenth installment of the Trump Diaries.
DAY 64: BLAME THE DEMOCRATS & MOVE ON
March 24, 2017
Trump orders Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to stand down before bringing a vote on Trumpcare to the floor of congress.
In a testament to twisted reasoning, Trump blames the Democrats for not coming on board. He is counting on the healthcare system to either “implode” or “explode” so his good buddy Ryan can get his way. The fool actually believes he can wipe his hands of the whole complicated mess despite the fact that his party – the party that has promised to repeal Obamacare every day for seven years – holds all the cards: both houses of congress, the executive branch and a friendly Supreme Court. If you can’t get it done under these conditions, you can’t get it done. And you can be sure the people know exactly who to blame.
We now know that the self-proclaimed champion of all negotiators is a novice when it comes to the politics of legislation.
Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the Donald Trump of French politics, announces her advocacy of lifting sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea. Le Pen is welcomed to the Kremlin by Vladimir Putin.
DAY 65: SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE
March 25, 2017
The Democrats warn Trump that they are prepared to invoke the filibuster to stop Neil Gorsuch from taking a seat on the nation’s highest court.
After four days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Judge Gorsuch skillfully avoids saying anything of substance, key Democrats emerge suggesting they are prepared to plant the staff and hold their ground.
We have seen this act before. In the end they have always found a way to compromise. They are fully expected to capitulate once again. This is the problem with Democrats. They have become predictably and reliably complacent.
If you believe that the Republicans were right to table the nomination of Merritt Garland for over a year, then by all means compromise. If you believe that the future of democracy in America depends on the obsolete filibuster rule, then throw in the towel.
I believe the Republicans were wrong and should be punished for their unconscionable obstructionism. I believe the filibuster is distinctly anti-democratic and should be abolished. I also believe the Democrats do not possess the courage of their convictions.
DAY 66: CIRCLE OF BLAME
March 26, 2017
The finger of blame for the failure of Trump’s healthcare bill makes the rounds. Trump first blames the Democrats and then the Freedom Caucus and then by innuendo Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. In yet another bizarre twist, Trump tweets that his loyal following should watch a certain show on Fox. The show opened with a call for Ryan’s resignation.
As our bombing campaign stands accused of killing hundreds of civilians in Syria and Iraq, Russians take to the streets to protest Vladimir Putin’s oppressive government. Putin is accused of a series of targeted political assassinations in the last year, the most recent that of Denis Voronenkov in broad daylight on the streets of Kiev.
Not a sound or a syllable of concern from Mr. Trump – or for that matter from Marine Le Pen. Well, we all do our share of killing. Don’t we, Donald?
No matter how bad it seems and it could surely get far worse, Trump is not eliminating his political opposition with targeted assassinations.
DAY 67: DEMOCRATS GO ALL IN
March 27, 2017
On the day that Trump’s approval rating hits a new low and the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffers its longest losing streak since 2011, we learn that the House Intelligence Committee Chair had a secret meeting at the White House prior to his convoluted announcement that gave momentary credence to the president’s bizarre claim of wiretapping Trump Tower. 
Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff demands that Devin Nunes recuse himself from all matters concerning Russian interference in the presidential election.
Nunes began backtracking almost immediately after publicly making his claim. The suggestion now is that he was used as a fence for White House information of questionable validity.
The Democrats are going all in on the Russia-Trump connection. They had better produce the goods and sooner than later or the resistance will have lost all momentum.
Son-in-law Jared Kushner has a new job: He will redesign government in the streamlined image of a large corporation. Whatever happened to peace in the Middle East?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions serves warning to all sanctuary cities that he’s prepared to withhold federal grants to cities that do not fully cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
It’s shocking that Trump’s new streamlined Justice Department has over $4 billion in grants. We’re going to need that money for the wall. And the Mexicans will build it.
DAY 68: KUSHNER IN THE HOT SEAT
March 28, 2017
The NY Times revealed on Monday that Jared Kushner met in December with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov. Vnesheconombank, a state owned institution, was under sanctions for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The White House explains that the meeting concerned diplomacy but the bank states that the topic was financing of a Manhattan office building. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the man who seems to have his hands on all Trump-Russia connections, reportedly arranged the meeting. Gorkov is a former intelligence officer who was appointed to his position at the bank by…you guessed it: Vladimir Putin. 
The Senate Intelligence committee wishes to have a conversation with Mr. Kushner.
DAY 69: BACK AGAINST THE WALL
March 29, 2017
On Tuesday Trump requested $1.5 billion in supplemental funding as a down payment on The Wall. On Wednesday Senator Roy Blunt, senior member of the Appropriations Committee said not now. Congress is up against an April 28 deadline to keep the government running.
Americans elected Trump to run the government like he runs his business and that’s exactly what he’s doing. He wants a lot in goods and services but he doesn’t want to pay for them. Maybe Russia can launder some money through the Bank of Cypress to get things going.
The White House announces that Ivanka Trump will be a special assistant to the president though she will not be salaried. Papa Donald doesn’t like to pay women or assistants.
While there was once hope that Ivanka could moderate her father’s extreme policies and views, reports that she has already taken a leading role in the Trump White House suggest there is no moderating influence. Maybe Ivanka was not the pro-environment progressive we were led to believe she was. Trump’s latest assault on Obama’s modest climate change policies leave no doubt as to where this administration is headed: To hell with the air, the water or any other life sustaining element. Use it all up and let future generations pay the price.
The earth will survive. Humans may not.
DAY 70: FOLLOW THE DEAD RUSSIANS
March 30, 2017
While the House Intelligence Committee goes down the rabbit hole behind their fearless leader Devin Nunes, the Senate Intelligence Committee gets under way by taking the testimony of cyber security expert Clinton Watts.
Watts of George Washington University describes a Russian propaganda campaign that chose Trump as their candidate early on, targeting his primary rivals “Little Marco” Rubio and “Lying Ted” Cruz. The Russians fed the Trumpeters fake news and the Trumpeters made sure it got a good run on social media.
Wrap that around your mind. Putin was not solely or primarily motivated by a desire to disrupt American democracy. We do an excellent job of that with gerrymandering and the two-party system. He was not solely or primarily motivated by his disdain for Hillary Clinton. She was just another typical Democrat. He chose Trump. Why? We can assume his love affair began before one of Putin’s oligarchs purchased a Florida estate at a ridiculously inflated price. We can assume it began before Trump staged his beauty contest in Moscow. Why? Does he like Trump’s style? Does he like Trump’s negotiating prowess? Or is there something else?
Watts advised the committee to “follow the trail of dead Russians,” adding: “There have been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation.” 
Disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn offers to testify before congressional committees and the FBI on the condition that he’s granted immunity from criminal prosecution. 
“Nothing-to-hide” Mike took a job as the right hand man of the president while working as an agent for at least one (Turkey) and possibly two (Russia) foreign nations. Unless he has the smoking gun, he doesn’t deserve a deal.
What would be more disturbing: that Trump is a willing asset of Russia or that he is simply a Russian dupe? Both seem entirely plausible.
For those who believe it is time to move on from the Trump-Russia connection, I respectfully disagree. Every day and every week we remain fixated on this scandal is a day and a week that cripples the Trump presidency. It is a day and a week that empowers Republicans to refuse to do the president’s bidding. It is a day and a week that empowers Democrats to resist. It is a day and a week that pushes back the White House assault on the environment. It is a day and a week that delays the wall and the Muslim ban. It is a day and a week that Trump will do significantly less harm than he would otherwise do.
Until it is definitively resolved, Russia is the issue. There is no other.
1. “Nunez Had Secret White House Meeting Before Trump Monitoring Claim” by Ken Dilanian, Alex Moe and Ali Vitali. NBC News, March 27, 2017.
2. “White House’s explanation for Kushner’s secret meeting with a Russian banker unravels” by Aaron Rupar. Think Progress, March 28, 2017.
3. “Follow the money and the trail of 'dead Russians,' expert urges senators” by Del Quentin Wilber. Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2017.
4. “Mike Flynn Offers to Testify in Exchange for Immunity” by Shane Harris, Carol E. Lee and Julian E. Barnes. Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2017.