Tuesday, February 14, 2017

One in the Net. More Fishing in the Swamp.

Has Pandora’s box been opened?  Now that Mike Flynn has had to resign because of his Russian contacts, will the ripples spread across the swamp?  Will the full Russia story finally leak out, dribble by dribble, or all at once in a big splash?

Melissa Spicer did its best to put lipstick on that pig, insisting that Flynn did nothing illegal but that he lost the president’s trust by not telling Mike Spence the whole truth, and so he had to resign.

Quite a few Senators, including even some Republicans, aren’t buying that spin.  They want to investigate; start by putting Flynn under oath and grilling him.  What did the president know and when did he know it?  That sort of thing.

A real investigation would quickly divulge that the complaints about Russian interference in the recent election are considerably more substantive than political sour grapes. Serious conflicts of interest, serious wrongdoing probably smolder somewhere beneath all the smoke.

Somebody needs to dig up the president’s tax returns.  If, as he claims, they would simply demonstrate how smart he is in business, then an ego as big as his would be expected to leap at the opportunity to prove the point.  He’s keeping them hidden for a reason.  Bet the farm, if you can, that the reason is Russia.  Loans? Potential blackmail?  Shady or even illegal backdoor deals?  All of the above?

Never underestimate the Trumpian capacity for bullshit and crooked deals.  

Congress should badger him to release the returns.  The media should badger him to release the returns.  The voters should badger him to release the returns.

Resourceful journalists should turn over every rock in and around Washington until they find the guy — a friend says he wears a green-eyeshade and a pocket protector and works deep in the bowels of the IRS — who can access them and leak them.  

After years of reversals in courts in China, the Trump businesses have suddenly begun to win their lawsuits about proprietorship of their brand, with a potential windfall ultimately of more than $200 million.   What a coincidence that this  comes just as the president reverses his course 180 degrees and declares himself committed to a one-China policy after all.

But 200 mill is probably peanuts compared to the stakes in Russia.  We already know that Wall Street and other sources of really big money cut off his credit after his fifth or sixth bankruptcy.  But somebody bailed him out and now he’s swimming in cash.  

Pressed to divest so there would be no conflict of interest when he took over the government, he refused, setting up a leaky sham that supposedly would divorce him from the octopodian business empire while his kids would run it.  That situation, too, demands rigorous investigation.

There’s smoke everywhere, but the Russia stuff is the blackest, smelliest cloud of all.  The tax returns have to be made public, one way or another.  And the screws have to be tightened on former general Flynn.

The ancient Logan Act, which forbids exactly what he did when he talked to the Russian ambassador, has never been used against anyone, and many legal experts think its very antiquity renders it useless in this case.  But at some point in all of the Russia flap, Flynn was questioned by the FBI, and if he lied to them, it’s a felony.  The threat of a long vacation in Leavenworth might really loosen his lips.

It took only 23 days to trap the first swamp salamander among the Trumpian Team of Reptiles.  Could the Big Carp himself be next?  Stay tuned.

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Andrew Puzder, the anti-labor nominee to be Secretary of Labor, has withdrawn from consideration. He's a fast-food billionaire who built his fortune on the backs of underpaid workers.  He also was accused of wife-beating. 

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