Day 692 Thursday November 29, 2018 899 Days to Go
I believe we are entering a new phase of the Trump presidency. One thing I can say for sure, we humans are bad at predicting the future. However, there is some history that can help to show what happened in the past.
First, let me review the recent events that have led me to my conclusion:
1. Jerry Nadler (D NJ) was on one of the morning shows the other day and he said, “There are impeachable offenses that are not crimes; and there are crimes that are not impeachable offenses.” There are, of course, crimes that are impeachable offenses.
2. We just had a mid-term election where the Democrats had the largest victory in history and have taken control of the House of Representatives.
3. Big Donnie Trump finally got around to doing his homework and answered the Special Prosecutor’s questions.
4. Paul Manafort’s plea deal fell apart. He via his lawyer was giving information about what Mueller was doing to Trump and Trump’s lawyers. Something that Trump’s lawyer, Rudi Giuliani admitted. Manafort was acting as a double agent ostensibly to get a lighter sentence from Mueller and to get a pardon from Trump. Trump has said that a pardon for Manafort is “not off the table.”
5. Trump fired his AG and put in place a man who is unconfirmed by the Senate. This is a no-no, especially in light of the fact that this man has admitted he wants to shut down the Mueller investigation or starve it of funds.
6. Evidence and news reports have linked the Russian GRU to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and to Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and James Corso. Thus showing a path between the email dumps of the Russians via Wikileaks and the Trump campaign and showing that Corso and Stone had advanced knowledge of the Wikileaks dumps.
7. There is the infamous Trump Tower meeting in which Don Jr. and many high level people in the Trump campaign were in attendance with Russians, some of whom had direct connection with the GRU. Right after that meeting Don Jr. made a phone call to a blocked number. Trump Sr. has a phone whose number is blocked and he took a call about that time. Remember prosecutors don’t believe in coincidence.
Okay so that’s what’s been happening in terms of this administration but also interestingly there are some investigative reporting and ancillary stories, which lead us to speculate as to what will happen next, and in an unbelievable tidbit that no one has mentioned yet the kid (that’s me) will reveal a revelatory little sumtin’-sumtin’, which on it’s face isn’t much, until you link it into the rest of the historical record.
A. Rachel Maddow has a seven part podcast called “Bag Man,” which tells the story of Spiro Agnew and his extortion schemes that led to his resigning as VP ten days before the “Saturday Night Massacre,” which was the beginning of the end of the Nixon presidency. (Interestingly, the AG at the time was Elliott Richardson who resigned rather than do the President’s bidding that Saturday night. Ten days before he forced the Vice-President of the United States from office. The man who eventually did the dirty work for the President was Robert Bork, and it was that action probably more than any other that scuttled his becoming a Supreme Court justice.)
Although Agnew pled nolo contendere (Latin “no contest”) to one count of tax fraud there was a forty page summary of all the crimes he had committed.
B. Nixon was forced from office by a memorandum that went on page after page listing his crimes associated with Watergate. These included collusion, obstruction of justice, interfering in a criminal investigation, bribery, and witness tampering. Aside from his crimes listed in that memorandum it has also come to light that he committed treason.
Now we get to Trump and what’s going on with him, his lawyers, and his administration. One opinion writer said last night that his lawyers seemed to suffer from “Incompetence and Hubris.” I’d throw in ignorance but maybe I’m splitting hairs because incompetence and hubris may well be another way to say ignorance in this case.
But before we get to all that let’s look at one – no two – little tidbits of legal wrangling.
Tidbit 1 – A local DC bar lost its complaint that they can not fairly compete with a bar in a hotel own by the President of the Untied States. They lost the argument because they couldn’t show direct harm. (Just suspicion?)
Tidbit 2 – (My sumptin’-sumptin’) This reminded me of a case ten or twenty years ago involving a golf driving range. It was along the Dulles Access Road corridor. The local government opened a similar facility and the plaintiff argued that they were doing things to give themselves preferential treatment and he could not fairly compete. He quoted one of the clauses from the Magna Carta as part of the basis of his complaint.
Tidbit 3, (tying together Tidbit 1 & 2, with the today and the history of Agnew.) When Agnew pled guilty to tax evasion he walked out of court a convicted felon but otherwise free. Some folks were outraged. Where’s the jail time? Why didn’t he have to repay the money he got?
One group so outraged were some law students who with their professor brought a civil complaint in Maryland against Agnew. They demanded he repay the money he got while Governor. They won and Agnew had to write a check for $268,482.00 ($147,500 in kickbacks and $101,235 interest.) Because of that trial his personal lawyer had to testify, and said that he knew years before of the scam because Agnew had told him. (They had asked the then Governor, Marvin Mandel, to bring the suit, but he refused. It was later found that he too had been on the take.) To bring the case they had to find a basis and they dug through the laws and found a principle of British common law (much like the golf course owner.) A legal principle that said a plaintiff could bring a suit even if they did not have the government’s support. They found taxpayers to be their plaintiffs.
So where are we? What will happen next? What have we got?
Here’s where predicting the future comes in, and doing so is terribly fraught.
In Donald Trump we have a man who has openly committed crimes. Let’s take a simple straightforward one, bribery. Bribery is defined by Black’s Law as “offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an individual or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.”
Therefore dangling a pardon to influence a witness or defendant is bribery. It was one of the crimes Nixon was accused of doing. Trump has said that pardoning Manafort is not off the table. Is that bribery? Yes. Others say no, it was just the president expressing what his Constitutional powers are, to which I say, “bull shit, it’s bribery.”
Having Manafort report what he’s learned about the Mueller investigation to Trump via his attorney while under a plea deal is collusion (excuse me, it’s conspiracy). Yet, here is Giuliani. Trump’s lawyer saying in public, oh yeah, Manafort was telling us what was going on. Trump’s lawyer is openly admitting that they colluded (excuse me “conspired”) with each other.
These people, Trump and his gang, are committing the most outrageous acts and crimes against our government and yet those in his own party are mute about it. How bad does it have to get? How much worse can it get?
What is surprising about Trump, and really shouldn’t be anymore, is that just when you think things have gone as low as they can he goes lower.
I guess to misquote Michelle Obama, “When we go low, we go lower.”
Another little tidbit, it has been pointed out that Nancy Pelosi won the nomination of her party to be Speaker of the House with more votes and fewer dissenting than Paul Ryan did when his party elected him Speaker. However, the headlines – then and now – paint a different picture. While the Ryan headline just says he was nominated; the Pelosi headline mentions dissension.
899 Days to Go
PS Lamanai, Belize