Friday, September 1, 2017

Scorched Earth, Hurricane Wind And Fired Staff: Trumptember

As Martin BooMan Longman reminds us, September is when Trump and the GOP will remember every cloudy day.

It’s happened. The Republicans’ month-from-hell has arrived. It’s the month I coined a meat-grinder. And it’s going to get off to the slowest of starts owing to the long Labor Day weekend holiday. There will much work for responsible government officials to do, and very little time for them to get it done. 
Yet, the president is the farthest thing from focused. The Russia investigation is terrifying him. He wants to fire his Secretary of State and it looks like Rex Tillerson would welcome that outcome. He’s fuming at his National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn because Cohn essentially called him a racist in public, but he doesn’t feel like he afford to fire him because he’s trying to pivot to a doomed tax reform effort. He’s chomping at the bit his chief of staff put on him to limit his access to fake news and crazy supporters and advisers. He’s still obsessed with his media coverage and the camera angles and attendance he gets at his political rallies. He’s more energized by his efforts to settle scores with Republican senators who have crossed him than he is with attracting the support of Democratic senators he will soon need. He’s recently made open war on the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House, both of whom have been increasingly critical of his behavior and performance. Most of all, he misses the brief period during which the job of president was kind of fun.

And every day this month, more pictures of Hurricane Harvey's devastation will come in and the job of fixing it will be on his shoulders too.  Tillerson and Cohn might not survive the month as cabinet secretaries, hell Tillerson might not survive the weekend.

The job is hard, and Trump was never up for actually doing it.  Having the orange idiot at the helm is no longer funny or darkly humorous, but deadly serious (especially if Hurricane Irma comes to visit the US too).  Things are going to go extremely badly this month for Trump and for the country.

As Trump lashes out like a badger in a burlap sack, his attacks are not suited to his challenges. He threatens to force a government shutdown if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall, but he has absolutely no plan for getting the votes he’d need from Democrats to get his money. He doesn’t know how he’s going to get the debt ceiling raised or whether or not he should attach it to disaster relief. He doesn’t even have a theory of where the votes will come from or what he might need to trade for those votes. He says that he still wants Obamacare repealed but doesn’t understand that the opportunity to do that will end the moment the Republicans pass a new budget aimed at enacting tax reform. He senses that he’s completely blocked legislatively and calls for an end of the Senate’s filibuster, not realizing that he doesn’t and never will have anywhere near the votes he needs to make that change. 
This is how September is beginning for the president. Lord knows how it will end.

That's the killer.  There are plenty of very plausible scenarios right now where as bad as September is going to most likely be for us, October can easily be far worse, and a lot of those disturbingly plausible scenarios involve Trump saying "screw it" and doing something colossally stupid out of anger, frustration, dementia or a combination of all three.

Hope you enjoyed summer, because fall is going to be a killer.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

More Trump/Russia news on the Mueller investigation front today and it's both nerdily boring and delightfully schadenfreude-filled as the former FBI Director is going to the best forensic accountants in the world to handle Trump's twisted money trail by enlisting the IRS's top criminal investigators.

Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.

This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.

And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.

Potential financial crimes are a central part of Mueller’s probe. One of his top deputies, Andy Weissmann, formerly helmed the Justice Department’s Enron probe and has extensive experience working with investigative agents from the IRS.

“From the agents, I know everyone has the utmost respect for both Muellerand Weissmann,” said Martin Sheil, a retired IRS Criminal Investigations agent.

And he said Mueller and Weissmann are known admirers of those agents’ work.

“They view them with the highest regard,” Sheil said. “IRS special agents are the very best in the business of conducting financial investigations. They will quickly tell you that it took an accountant to nab Al Capone, and it’s true.”

“The FBI’s expertise is spread out over so many statutes—and particularly since 9/11, where they really focused on counterintelligence and counterterror—that they simply don’t have the financial investigative expertise that the CI agents have,” Sheil continued. “When CI brings a case to a U.S. Attorney, it is done. It’s wrapped up with a ribbon and a bow. It’s just comprehensive.” 

Honestly surprised this didn't happen sooner.  The FBI has pretty good bookkeepers but hey, considering Trump has been hiding his tax returns for years now, I'd ask the IRS to help out too if I were Mueller.  We'll see what they can dig up on this mess, because it's the key to nailing the entire Trump regime to the wall and maybe, just maybe, saving this country.


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