Indictments: What They Mean & What They Portend

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever and now 2 indictments of key leaders within the Trump circle and as the blog describes, more are likely to come because someone is talking. I spent hours poring over reports and this is what I found.Mariel & New Energy Economy Slay Goliath. Before diving into the details of the indictments and what they suggest, a HUGE shout out to one of Roxanne and my local heroes. Mariel Nanasi and New Energy Economy absolutely shredded PNM and the PRC in over 2 hours of oral testimony by PNM and then by NEE and others before the NM Supreme Court. In a debrief afterwards with attorneys and researchers who had worked on the case, the common theme was that the tipping point had been reached, that PNM was likely skewered on the NEE petard and that momentous, systemic change was in the offing. No longer is NEE viewed as the little extremist spouting idealism, but the only one in the room that can be trusted. It was evident in the Supreme Court Justices faces, body language and most glaringly in their questions that probed PNM repeatedly at every turn. They never interrupted Mariel once and had absolutely zero questions after either her opening statement or her rebuttal of PNM, which she closed with: “You are being asked to buy a beat-up Pinto instead of a brand new Tesla that costs less;”  Even the PRC is jaw-droppingly incredulous at PNM’s brazen lies and manipulations. I am furiously working on a blog that will capture not just the hearing but the nature of what could come. For once, it is something good.  Very good.

Retake Takes Action. Th. Nov 2, 6-7:15pm. 1420 Cerrillos. Center for Progress & Justice.  Retake’s Local Research and Activism Team is shifting from research to direct community service. Join Jennifer Johnson & Tracey Enright who are co-chairing this shift and explore options for direct community group service on projects in Santa Fe, with a lens on under-served communities. This is the kickoff of what could become just another way that you can get in the game and work with others to advance justice in New Mexico.

 

The House of Cards May Be in Collapse Mode

Let’s start with, who the hell is Paul Manafort?  From an excellent Truth-Out report I found:  “Manafort is well known in Washington, DC, lobbying circles for his dubious associations with dictators and despots. His client list has included Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russia strongman who allegedly ordered the massacre of protesters in 2014, possibly at the urging of Manafort. is A team of over a dozen experienced prosecutors.” So with these credentials, in May 2016, Trump asked Manafort to became chairman and chief strategist of the entire Trump campaign. Click here to read the Truth-Out report that details clearly the meetings involving Manafort, Kushner and Trump himself with Russian operatives and their motivations behind these meetings. Fascinating the hubris of these men who actually thought this was something they could do with such impunity.
But what has landed Manafort and Gates in jail was not the collusion with the Russians detailed in Truth-Out’s report, at least not yet.  Manafort and Gates were directing a campaign to lobby the US on behalf of the government of Ukraine and officials there. The indictment says, they were required to report the work and income. They didn’t and when asked by the Justice Department about it, they admit that they lied. What’s more, while doing this work, the indictment says more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts, and specifically that Manafort laundered more than $18 million.
According to a CNN report: “These are incredibly serious charges, and suggest a longstanding and pervasive pattern of reckless illegality on the part of someone who was instrumental in the Trump campaign, and who should’ve known better,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN legal contributor and professor at the University of Texas Law School. “Taken together, it seems to me that this is a very important interim development in the Mueller investigation, but only as an appetizer,” Vladeck said.
But this is likely the tip of a very large iceberg. From a Bloomberg Report it was revealed that on Oct. 6 George Papadopoulos, senior foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign has pled guilty to committing perjury and is providing ongoing information about the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russians who were working to ensure Trump’s election.
From Bloomberg: “The case against Papadopoulos details repeated contact between Trump’s campaign team and agents working on behalf of Russian interests during the 2016 election campaign. Emails and testimony show that two high-level supervisors and other campaign officials involved in national security and foreign policy were aware of these communications. The campaign also received information that the Russians had thousands of emails containing “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton months before hacked emails from the Democratic Party were made public.” 
While Trump is downplaying Papadopoulos’ involvement in his administration during the campaign and has tweeted infamously “NO COLLUSION,” when the Washington Post asked Trump who is foreign policy advisors were, Trump named Papadopoulos (an “excellent guy”) and four others including Carter Page, who has since been questioned by lawmakers and the FBI about whether he acted as a go-between with Russians. Only an hour after Trump’s tweet, it was announced that Papadopoulos had pled guilty to lying about colluding with the Russians. The Washington Post is reporting that Papadopoulos has claimed to have colluded directly with senior officials of the Trump campaign: “He [Papadopoulos) now says that he discussed the Russian overtures he had received with several other people in the Trump campaign, including a “senior policy adviser,” a “campaign supervisor” and a “high-ranking campaign official.” Among the campaign officials he emailed were Manafort, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and national campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis. The campaign officials are not identified in court documents, but some of the emails cited by federal prosecutors match messages described in August to The Washington Post by people familiar with their contents.”
For Trump and his advisors, these are fearful times indeed. If Papadopoulos talks who knows what more ammo Mueller will have. And if either Gates or Manafort talk, the trail would almost certainly lead back to the oval office. As Vox reports, there are clues that Mueller may not be allowed to push that far:  “Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, was indicted Monday morning, but the most important story of the weekend was a Brooke Singman Fox News piece titled “Mueller facing new Republican pressure to resign in Russia probe. The journalism in the story is laughable, but the message is clear and important: When Trump decides to fire Mueller (and possibly pardon the targets of his investigation) to spare himself and his family from accusations of serious wrongdoing, America’s premier propaganda broadcaster will have his back.”  Vox goes on to report that if Trump were to fire Mueller to protect friends and family (and recall he fired Comey without consequence), then it would fall on the GOP in the House and Senate to stand together to protect what remains of our democracy. And Vox does a great job of demonstrated why we should have so little faith in the GOP by recalling how the GOP should have behaved once Trump came to office:

“The appropriate reaction to his unexpected victory would have been to subject his early actions to an unusually high level of scrutiny. Republicans instead did the reverse:

  • They greenlit a number of woefully unqualified Cabinet nominees, including Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, and Steve Mnuchin.
  • They sat idly by as the administration made clear its intent to completely disregard the spirit and purpose of American conflict-of-interest law.
  • They overlooked material factual misstatements under oath from a number of nominees, including disgraced now-former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
  • They allowed the president to install unqualified family members at the heart of the West Wing operation and turned a blind eye to serious misconduct on their part.
  • They watched Trump break all normal procedures to pardon Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for refusing to comply with valid court orders and said and did nothing.”
Click here to read the full Vox report.  It is interesting that GOP Congressional leadership has been ENTIRELY silent on the indictments. Imagine for one moment that Clinton had won the election and that yesterday her campaign manager had been indicted and that her foreign policy aide had pled guilty to lying about collusion with the Russians. Do you think McConnell and Ryan would be silent?  There is ample evidence that the GOP would fall in line behind Trump if he should fire Mueller. Should Trump fire Mueller, MoveOn has already launched a campaign to lobby Congress to do the right thing and Retake will link to that campaign in future blogs. It actually could be a good thing if Trump were to fire Mueller as it could lead to the kind of 2018 election results that put a halt to much of the Trump agenda. Never a dull moment.
But I return to Truth-Out to answer the question: Could Trump possibly fire Mueller and force the GOP to stand idly by and allow it?  From the Truth-Out report cited above, we get speculation about what could be coming next: “Others remain on the dangle, waiting for word of new indictments. Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser (for 24 days) is likely to get a knock on his door regarding his own dealings with Russia. Energy consultant Carter Page can also expect to get some paper for his alleged ties to Putin while he served on Trump’s campaign. Then of course, there are the big fish: Jared Kushner the son-in-law, and Donald Trump, Jr. the eldest son. Both were involved in the Trump Tower meeting, both lied about that meeting a half dozen times until the media finally pinned them down with their own words, and both know everything there is to know about the dealings — shady or otherwise — of the president of the United States. If either one flips for Mueller, Donald Trump Sr. will find himself in a very dark place.”
I have included Valarie Kaur’s inspiring speech in this blog many times where she ends with: “What if the darkness in America is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb.”  With any luck, the GOP darkness is indeed, the darkness of the tomb. And since I brought up, I brought Valarie back for yet another encore. Even if you’ve heard her talk before, it is a great way to start the day.
In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

2 thoughts on “Indictments: What They Mean & What They Portend

  1. Thanks for your work, I appreciate it! Just so you know in the future, you “pore” over something. So it should read “poring.” I made this mistake and am committed to sharing the correct usage.

    Susan

    ________________________________

    Like

  2. I just heard on NPR that Manafort was arrested secretly in July 2017 and has been talking to DOJ ever since to save his sorry ass. I love this.

    I absolutely do not think it would be good if tRump fired Mueller since we do not know what repercussions that would have. We know that the GOP is trying to cut off his funding for that fantastic group of lawyers he has assembled. Like they did in the other instances you mention, it’s likely Congress would do nothing if Mueller were fired. Fake news has been so effective in muddying the waters of people’s brains, that we cannot count on a positive effect on the 2018 election.

    Thanks for your work, Paul

    Like

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