Thursday, March 15, 2018

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

It's been a bit since the last major move by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, now that we know he has plenty of cooperating witnesses and impressive amounts of testimony, it looks like this legal eagle has made his intentions clear. Mueller is no longer skirting around the Trump organization, he's going straight after it, sword drawn.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter
. The order is the first known time that the special counsel demanded documents directly related to President Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president. 
The breadth of the subpoena was not clear, nor was it clear why Mr. Mueller issued it instead of simply asking for the documents from the company, an umbrella organization that oversees Mr. Trump’s business ventures. In the subpoena, delivered in recent weeks, Mr. Mueller ordered the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating, the people said. 
The subpoena is the latest indication that the investigation, which Mr. Trump’s lawyers once regularly assured him would be completed by now, will drag on for at least several more months. Word of the subpoena comes as Mr. Mueller appears to be broadening his investigation to examine the role foreign money may have played in funding Mr. Trump’s political activities. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned witnesses, including an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, about the flow of Emirati money into the United States. 
Neither White House officials nor Alan S. Futerfas, a lawyer representing the Trump Organization, immediately responded to requests for comment. The Trump Organization has typically complied with requests from congressional investigators for documents for their own inquiries into Russian election interference, and there was no indication the company planned to fight Mr. Mueller about it.

The Trump Organization has said that it never had real estate holdings in Russia, but witnesses recently interviewed by Mr. Mueller have been asked about a possible real estate deal in Moscow. In 2015, a longtime business associate of Mr. Trump’s emailed Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, at his Trump Organization account claiming he had ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and said that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would help Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Mueller is going for the kill shot here.  Now we know why Trump has been so belligerent for the last several weeks, why the chaos in White House staffing has left a trail of scorched earth, where Trump's bunker mentality has come from, why Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are on the outs with dear old dad and most importantly, why House Republicans shut down their investigation of Trump this week.

It was all meant to get out ahead of this leak before it hit.

Mueller is going after the Trump organization and its ties to Russia, money laundering, and the obstruction of justice cover-up.  It's at the core of this corruption, and Mueller is wading in.

I said a while ago that as soon as Mueller reached the point in his investigation that it touched Trump's personal finances, the red line that Donald Trump drew so long ago last year, that the real game would begin.

The man in the Oval Office is officially under investigation.  They can't deny it any more.

Here we go.

Dems Can't Win For Losing

Me, your humble blog host and amateur pundit: "Conor Lamb winning in PA-18 in a district that went for Trump by 20 points just 16 months ago in a open race shows how absolutely weak the Trump GOP is right now.  There are now dozens of House races that must be considered in play, and Republicans are facing losses that could actually top that of the Democrats in 2010.  Democrats can win nationally in red suburban districts with a pro-union, pro-choice, pro-equality message."

Mike Allen, Axios co-founder and professional political prognosticator: "How can Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats possibly recover from the devastating and historic loss that Conor Lamb handed them this week?"

Top Democrats tell me that if they take back the House in November, a restoration of Speaker Nancy Pelosi is no longer guaranteed. In fact, some well-wired House Democrats predict she will be forced aside after the election and replaced by a younger, less divisive Dem. 
The big picture: Conor Lamb, 33, won his U.S. House race in Pennsylvania this week after saying he wouldn't vote for her for leader — a new template for moderates. Pelosi has hung in through the minority, and remains the party's most consistent fundraiser. As for whether she'll return as Speaker, she has just said that it's up to the members. (Her allies note that she has never lost a leadership vote.)

But others have their eye on the gavel, and many members want a younger, newer face. Her No. 2 and longtime rival, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, 78, covets the job but is three months older than she is. 
Pelosi is more likely to be the bridge to a younger generation. A possible successor, who works the caucus behind the scenes, is Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens, N.Y., who turns 56 tomorrow. 
Another possible candidate who's getting buzz: Rep. Adam Schiff, a fellow Californian who has a sky-high profile as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, investigating Russia's role in 2016. 
One Democratic source told me that Pelosi hears footsteps: “She used to be retributional. Now she’s more inclusive.” 
Pelosi allies see some of the criticism as sexist, and say she has always been inclusive of all parts of the caucus' diversity, including newer members. 
Pelosi told the Congressional Progressive Caucus at a retreat in Baltimore last week: "Every morning, I don a suit of armor, eat nails for breakfast, and go fight inequality." 
President Trump plans to invoke her frequently in midterm speeches, and Republicans already use her image to raise funds. And in campaigns this fall, many Dems challengers will be put on the spot about whether they'd vote for her as Speaker.

Pelosi is doomed!  Pelosi is finished!  Pelosi is an albatross and she'll destroy the Dems!

You know, because it's not like Trump is a major problem for the universe or anything.


Trump Cards, Con't

The pay-to-play klep-Trump-cracy that is America in 2018 continues unabated as lobbyist groups are now openly staying at Trump hotels in order to curry favor with the White House.

The oil industry's top lobby group is holding a two-day board meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., before its executive committee goes to the White House to voice concerns about President Donald Trump’s proposed steel tariffs, sources familiar with the meetings told POLITICO.

The American Petroleum Institute’s annual board meeting that started Wednesday could involve up to 200 people representing various oil and gas companies — including the top executives of major oil companies — paying to stay at Trump’s hotel. It’s not known how much API is paying to the hotel, which is controlled by the Trump Organization, the family-owned business headed by the president’s son Donald Jr.

“This kind of thing was a fear a lot of people had when the president did not divest from his business,” said Jordan Libowitz, spokesman for governance watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “What’s stopping the API from going to the president and saying, ‘Hey we just dropped a lot of money at your hotel. Just wanted you to know that before we started this meeting’?”

Government conflict-of-interest rules do not apply to the president, but Libowitz said patronizing his business could be viewed as a way to try to influence Trump.

The Trump hotel has also hosted several foreign officials, including the Kuwaiti Embassy's National Day celebration and Bahrain's National Day party, drawing criticisms that the business violates the Constitution's foreign “Emoluments Clause,“ which prohibits officials from accepting gifts from foreign powers.

At the White House, the API executive committee is planning to air its concerns about Trump's steel tariffs and his warnings that the U.S. could walk away from NAFTA negotiations. Trump’s 25 percent tariff on imported steel and criticisms of the current NAFTA agreement have frustrated the industry, which is heavily dependent on foreign metal and international trade.

“The two issue are tariffs and NAFTA,” said a source who requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to talk to the press.

A Trump Hotel receptionist confirmed the API was holding a two-day event there. An API spokesman confirmed a two-day board meeting was currently taking place but did not offer further details.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are scheduled to attend the board meeting at the Trump Hotel on Wednesday night, two sources told POLITICO. Press representatives for the Energy Department and Interior Department did not immediately respond to questions.

How is this not patently illegal?  Well, Republicans in Congress certainly don't care, and it's not like the executive branch is going to lift a finger.  But this is where America is now, a rapidly-failing banana republic where businessmen who want favorable treatment stay at the regime leader's hotel in the capital and make sure his deputies know it.  Can't hurt your odds of winning over the mercurial Trump, right?

It's a good thing we didn't elect that corrupt Clinton though, she might have had serious conflict of interest problems or something.


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