Monday, November 18, 2019

Last Call For Bahama Drama

Is this regime even capable of not being absolute garbage in every aspect?  Like, is everyone involved in the Trump universe an amoral grifting asshole who operates by transactional relationships with everyone else?

A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance, chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

When Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas in September, Manchester wanted to help. So the San Diego real estate developer, who prefers the nickname "Papa Doug," loaded up his private jet with supplies and headed for the hard-hit Caribbean country where he owned a home – and hoped to soon be serving as U.S. ambassador.

A Trump supporter, Manchester donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund. He was offered the Bahamas post the day after Mr. Trump was sworn in. Manchester said Trump told him, "I should probably be the ambassador to the Bahamas and you should be president."

Then, for two and a half years, Manchester's nomination stalled in the Senate.

His Bahamas relief trip caught the attention of the President. Trump tweeted, "I would also like to thank 'Papa' Doug Manchester, hopefully the next Ambassador to the Bahamas, for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas."

Three days after the tweet, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit up Manchester for a donation. It was no small sum. In an email, obtained exclusively by CBS News, she asked Manchester, "Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?"

The Aristocrats!

"Did you feel like they were putting the arm on you?" Axelrod asked.

"No, I didn't. That's part of politics. It's unbelievable. You give and you give and you give and you give some more and more and more," Manchester said.

"Does any part of you feel if you had just cut the check for $500,000 that you would be the ambassador to the Bahamas?" Axelrod asked.

"No, because first of all, you have to get out of committee and you have to be voted on the floor," Manchester said. "It's a big process."

The Senate confirmation process is exactly what Manchester quickly addressed. He wrote back to McDaniel's request for $500,000, "As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!"

"You know what this looks like," Axelrod said.

"Well -- it looks like it to you. But it's not the facts," Manchester said. "My wife gave out of separate funds and she in fact loves Donald Trump

As usual, a couple of observations.

One, the US ambassador post to the Bahamas was essentially left open for 30 months because Trump couldn't find anyone to buy it, I guess.  This is what the US State Department is on a post-Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo world with most of the career diplomats having been purged.  There's just lackeys and posts to be filled by those who can give Trump's campaign half a mil.  And yes, I understand ambassadorships have gone to big donors in the past for both parties, but now it's a requirement.

Two, this doesn't even make the top 25 Trump regime scandals so far.  Really, it doesn't.  That should bother everyone on the freakin' planet.  This regime is so debased that it has become a parody of itself, the blatant corruption is now utterly normalized and accepted as how America does business in 2019.

America's still a country built on 400 years of slavery, pillage, and white supremacy.  Trump didn't change that at all.  We just reverted to the historical mean.  Growing up in the 80's and 90's and seeing the Soviet Union go down made my generation think that things were going to get better, and for a while they did.

Oh, and speaking of diplomats...

Several GOP lawmakers were more “shaken” by the testimony from State Department aide David Holmes than they publicly let on, according to one top congressional GOP source.

Behind closed doors, many expressed frustration that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland would place a call to President Trump in a public restaurant, and are concerned that Holmes’ testimony was the most convincing argument for Trump’s direct involvement in the campaign to pressure Ukraine.

Holmes’ testimony is also making some GOP members worry about how far Sondland will go in his public testimony Wednesday.

Two senior Republican sources said that some House Republicans are also worried about how Sondland will handle himself at Wednesday’s hearing. The sources pointed out that Sondland is not an accomplished diplomat and one source added he believes Sondland was unprepared and ill-fitted for the job as US ambassador to the EU.

According to multiple State Department and former State Department officials, he was not well regarded by the US diplomatic community.

House Republicans are also increasingly worried about the political fallout from the hearings overall and the impact of multiple witnesses who are career professionals.

They are especially concerned about the reaction from independent voters and suburban women voters who are watching Trump attack witnesses both on Twitter and on television.

Sondland is being set up for crucifixion.  We'll see if he can help his case by telling the truth about Trump, or whether he goes down in flames.  As for David Holmes, the staffer for Ambassador Bill Taylor who overheard Trump's telephone tirade in a Ukraine restaurant, he will be testifying on Thursday, so if Sondland decides to lie this week, he's going to get burned before the week is out.

On national TV, no less.

Stay tuned.

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