Roxanne Tellier – All the President’s Men

With two of Trump’s main cohorts, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, now actual convicted felons, it certainly looks like we’re nearing the end of a long and rocky road in American politics. Trump’s misdeeds are beginning to emerge thru the swampy miasma, and while he may continue to scream, “no collusion!” it’s becoming very clear that the ‘best people’ with whom he has surrounded himself, are not being ‘best’ at all. They are felons, and he himself is now the ‘unindicted felon‘ in the room.

The midterms will – if fair and unrigged – leave Trump in the same place Obama found himself after his first midterms … bound and gagged until his term peters out.

I wonder how these trump junkies are going to survive without their daily doses of vitriol and madness, from the twitler machine. His rage against .. well, everyone who is not him and who DARES to try and stop his putsch … is especially appealing to those who believe they’ve been ‘done the dirty’ by others. “How is it that everyone does not see my shining worthiness, and give me the respect I believe I’m due? ” these egotists wonder, these, the true “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” of whom Steinbeck wrote.

History and reality have no toehold here; the delusions run so deep that they are truly convinced that a loss of over 3 million votes still somehow guaranteed a mandate for their boy, and that ‘half the country’ wanted him .. instead of the barely 1/4th of the country that bothered to vote. Over 60 million people cast their ballots for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, while 59.8 million voted for Trump.

In truth, a total of less than 120 million our of the 250 million Americans eligible to vote in 2016, actually did, and out of that, he still lost. He has never had a majority .. no popular vote .. and certainly no mandate to reshape America in his gilded image.

They tell themselves that it was the ‘real American’ that wanted Trump .. the downtrodden, the grass roots, those left behind by the economy. But again, they are swallowing whole the lies fed to them by accomplished liars.

By income, Clinton led among voters with a 2015 family income of under $50,000 — a group that included 36% of the voters in the exit polls. In reality, Trump’s supporters were 70% white, and male, who earned, on average, between $80 and $90K a year.

Their votes were never about the economy, or the ‘good old days’ when America was ‘great’ .. it was about racism, and making sure that they kept themselves well fed, and that others had no place at the table.

It was about the Religious Right screaming about their own victimization, and their need to force their religious beliefs upon all Americans, like it or not.

It was about terrorizing a historically gullible nation, partial to conspiracy theories, by painting ‘the others’ – be they immigrants, refugees, Muslims or Mexicans – as a demonizing force, set on consuming America’s goodies like so many frenzied zombies.

They still insist that what they want is a better economy .. when they were already sitting on a terrific economy that is now being torn apart by foolish trade wars and a destabilizing of faith in America.

It was about painting ‘regular American’s’ as being taken advantage of by other nations, through globalization. The trade wars were put into place willy nilly, without foresight or forethought, or knowledge .. lead by Peter Navarro, a fool that Jared found on Amazon while he browsed for info on China, and whose theories have been soundly derided by any real economists.

But it made Americans feel good, because Trump told them they were victims .. and for some reason, being a victim that has evil done to THEM, rather than their being the one doing evil, is a historic change that makes a lot of Americans very happy.

They still insist that it is only the natives of other countries that ‘bought into’ the Obama story, regardless of the millions who march against their orange haired boy. They refuse to look at the millions of words written by economists, ecologists, and others far more educated and intelligent than themselves, to see that their boy lives in a fantasy world of his own making. (And it’s one that does not include them – never did, never will.)

As much as Trump’s ‘devil’s advocates‘ …. and has their ever been a truer name for those who twist and turn the law into something more favourable for their vile and demented client … attempt to ‘explain’ why every law, regulation, ethical consideration, or moral tenet he’s driven over actually ALLOWS him to have his way – the time is coming when, barring gerrymandering, vote rigging, and Russian interference … the evil spirit in the White House will be exorcised.

When that happens .. and it will … all of us who have been – willingly or unwillingly – jacked into politics, 24/7, are going to have to deal with a withdrawal from this poison. At first, it will seem like we want that intoxication back. Don’t kid yourself .. it’s gonna be a serious withdrawal.

But hopefully, little by little and day by day, we will eventually get back to a place where our days and minds are not continually hijacked by the worst president and horrific events that most of us have ever had to live though.

Hang in there … as with all addictions, it’s gonna be hard to get straight. But we can do it. The world needs us to do it.

BONUS

Editor’s Note – Here are two articles from the New Yorker’s Online Magazine, just so you can see for yourself what has happened and what it can mean. Roxanne has always been, and will continue to be, one of the finest political analysts keeping us up to speed, with plain talk and intuitive uncommon sense.

Bravo!

Michael Cohen Says That Donald Trump Directed His Crimes

By Eric Lach

August 21st, 7:38 PM

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty to charges of federal tax evasion and campaign-finance violations on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion and campaign-finance charges in a New York City courtroom, and the most significant moment in the proceedings came when Cohen asserted that he had committed some of his crimes “at the direction of the candidate”—meaning Trump. “The words ‘coördination with’ and ‘at the direction of’ will haunt the Trump Presidency,” The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin told me, soon after the hearing. “Cohen directly implicated Trump as a co-conspirator in a felony.”

As part of his plea agreement, Cohen admitted that, during the 2016 campaign, he helped arrange payments to two women who were prepared to claim publicly that they’d had extramarital affairs with Trump, and that the purpose of these payments was to influence the outcome of the election. One of the women was Stephanie Clifford, who in her career in adult films has used the stage name Stormy Daniels. The other was Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model whose experience as the target of a “catch and kill” operation by the Trump-friendly tabloid the National Enquirer was detailed by Ronan Farrow earlier this year. Trump isn’t directly named in the case against Cohen—and neither is the National Enquirer—but the court documents make repeated reference to a Presidential candidate whom Cohen was working for. “If he were anyone other than the President of the United States, he would have been indicted on this evidence,” Toobin said. “And that’s a profound thing to think about.” In the context of how prosecutors generally look at cases like this one, Toobin added, Trump is “more culpable—because he’s actually the beneficiary of this conspiracy.”

But Trump has not been charged in connection with Cohen’s actions. And it is Justice Department policy not to indict a sitting President. As Toobin understands it, Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian actions during the 2016 election, has said that he will honor that policy. “That means the only remedy is in Congress, with impeachment,” Toobin said. With Republicans in control of both the House and Senate, impeachment remains a remote possibility. But that may change if Democrats win the House in November. In May, Toobin wrote about the impeachment debate within the Democratic Party. The Party leadership was resistant to the idea, Toobin said, “but that was before this direct implication of Trump in a crime.”

…and…. 

With Michael Cohen’s Guilty Plea, President Trump Has Been Implicated in a Criminal Conspiracy

By Adam Davidson August 21, 2018

The President of the United States is now, formally, implicated in a criminal conspiracy to mislead the American public in order to influence an election. Were he not President, Donald Trump himself would almost certainly be facing charges. This news came in what must be considered the most damaging single hour of a deeply troubled Presidency.

On Tuesday morning, it was still possible to believe that Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort might be exonerated and that his longtime attorney Michael Cohen would only face charges for crimes stemming from his taxicab business. Such events would have supported Trump’s effort to portray the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” perpetrated by overzealous partisan prosecutors. By late afternoon, though, Cohen, the President’s longtime adviser, fixer, and, until recently, personal attorney, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. At precisely the same moment, Manafort was learning of his fate: guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud, with the jury undecided on ten other counts.

The question can no longer be whether the President and those closest to him broke the law. That is settled. Three of the people closest to Trump as he ran for and won the Presidency have now pleaded guilty or have been convicted of significant federal crimes: Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. The question now becomes far narrower and, for Trump, more troubling: What is the political impact of a President’s criminal liability being established in a federal court? How will Congress respond? And if Congress does not act, how will voters respond in the midterm elections?

The President spoke to reporters soon after the Manafort and Cohen news. He said that the Manafort guilty verdicts made him feel “very badly,” but they “had nothing to do with Russian collusion.” He then walked away, as reporters shouted questions about the Cohen guilty plea. While his comment was, technically, correct—neither man’s guilt was for crimes involving the Trump campaign colluding with Russia—the President would be unwise to consider the outcome of either case beneficial. Manafort was convicted of crimes he committed while being paid tens of millions for serving the interests of oligarchs and politicians closely allied with the Kremlin. The trial made clear that Manafort was in tremendous financial distress, in hock to some of those same oligarchs, just when he became Trump’s unpaid campaign chair. The trial contained a central but unasked question: What did this desperate man do when he needed money and had only one valuable asset—access to Trump and his campaign? Manafort, who faces decades in prison, is under renewed pressure to coöperate with Mueller’s investigation and to answer that question.

It is the Cohen plea that should be the most alarming, though, to the President, precisely because it has nothing to do with Russia. Instead, it demonstrates a comfort with law-breaking by people at the core of the Trump Organization. Cohen’s guilty plea is part of a long trail of evidence. Last month, a tape recording of Trump speaking with Cohen showed that the President had familiarity and comfort with the idea of using shell companies to disguise payoffs that, we now know, were illegal. This echoed evidence from depositions in a lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General against the Trump Foundation that suggested deceptive—and almost certainly illegal—practices were standard at the Trump Organization. Cohen admitted in open court that Trump directed him to violate campaign-finance laws. Later in the day, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, issued a public statement that included these lines: “Today [Cohen] stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

The day had a feeling, on one level, of history, of recognizing that one is living through moments that will become central parts of the Trump Presidency. At the same time, the day felt small and shabby, as we learned more details about the crude crimes of those who surround the President. Manafort and Cohen did not commit clever, subtle crimes; they blatantly and crudely lied. They lied to banks to get money; they lied to the I.R.S. In Manafort’s case, he instructed countless support people to lie on his behalf. In Cohen’s case, it was Trump demanding that a subordinate do the lying. The crimes were not unravelled by brilliant detective work. All it took was law-enforcement officials looking.

It is conventional wisdom these days that views of Trump are fixed: those who hate him can’t hate him more and those who love him can’t be budged, and, all the while, Republicans in Congress will do nothing, no matter what he says or does. There is another way of understanding the impact of Tuesday’s news. Trump was widely viewed to be morally challenged, a man comfortable with pushing the limits of legality, before he was elected. Perhaps he did business with some bad characters, maybe he engaged in some light civil fraud. But that fact had been priced into the election and, anyway, we don’t impeach Presidents for things they did before they were in office. The possibility of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia was a separate matter that was worth investigating because it had to do with his election. Keeping these two matters separate—Trump’s private business and possible campaign collusion—has been an obsession of Trump’s, for obvious reasons. His business cannot withstand this level of scrutiny.

The Cohen plea and the Manafort indictment establish that this separation is entirely artificial. Trump did not isolate his private business from his public run for office. He behaved the same, with the same sorts of people, using the same techniques to hide his actions. It is impossible, after Tuesday, to imagine that a responsible congressional investigation wouldn’t thoroughly examine every deal with which Cohen was involved and wouldn’t even more aggressively seek to understand Manafort’s links to Russian figures. These two men are now convicted financial fraudsters, each found guilty of precisely eight counts of various financial crimes, though nobody, glancing at their record, would imagine this is an exhaustive list. Tuesday was not the end of an examination of their record; it is much more like a beginning. Manafort has another trial ahead, as well as a possible retrial for the ten counts for which the jury could not reach a consensus; Cohen is all but screaming that he has more to share.

=RT=

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us here

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.

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