By Robert A. Vella

Barring the firing of DOJ Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the path forward – for his investigation into complicity by the Trump campaign and administration with Russian interests – is likely to get more congested and complicated.  The reason can be seen by comparing it with the Watergate scandal which brought down President Nixon.

Nixon was highly intelligent and exceedingly paranoid.  He saw enemies at every turn, and went to great lengths to ensure they wouldn’t be able to use anything against him.  Consequently, the Nixon White House was a secretive, close-knit operation where loyalty to the president was paramount.  And, it was Nixon’s paranoia which prompted the Watergate break-in of Democratic National Committee headquarters – a perceived enemy at or near the top of his list.  This criminal act and subsequent coverup might have evaded justice had it not been for the persistent efforts of two dogged reporters at The Washington Post (i.e.  Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein).  A key figure in the break-in plot and coverup was Nixon’s Attorney General and confidant John Mitchell who resigned in 1972 to run the president’s reelection campaign.

Conversely, President Trump shares neither Nixon’s intelligence nor his paranoia.  Trump is a classic megalomaniac, supremely and narcissistically confident in himself.  His White House is an anarchistic freak-show compared to the well-ordered Nixon Administration, having a never-ending parade of miscalculations, embarrassing leaks, dismissals, resignations, and defections.  Furthermore, the potentially criminal acts perpetrated by Trump and his associates extends far beyond the surgical precision of Nixon, involving personal business activities and foreign interests.  In Trump’s twisted mind, he can do whatever the hell he wants to and simply crush anyone who stands in his way.  From strictly a law enforcement perspective, Mueller’s investigation should be much easier to prosecute than the carefully hidden crimes of Nixon.  That it probably won’t be easier is a topic for another day.

Which brings us to Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an individual who pales in comparison to the Machiavellian John Mitchell.  As a far-right Alabama Christian conservative, Sessions’ allegiance is to his ideology and party (i.e.  Republican).  His support of Trump is based on practicality not on loyalty, and can be described as a river one mile wide and one inch deep.  The following story might help to illustrate this view.

From:  Exclusive: Sources contradict Sessions’ testimony he opposed Russia outreach

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony that he opposed a proposal for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians has been contradicted by three people who told Reuters they have spoken about the matter to investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional committees.

Sessions testified before Congress in November 2017 that he “pushed back” against the proposal made by former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a March 31, 2016 campaign meeting. Then a senator from Alabama, Sessions chaired the meeting as head of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team.

“Yes, I pushed back,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14, when asked whether he shut down Papadopoulos’ proposed outreach to Russia. Sessions has since also been interviewed by Mueller.

Three people who attended the March campaign meeting told Reuters they gave their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the accounts they provided to Reuters differed in certain respects, all threes, who declined to be identified, said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos’ idea.

However, another meeting attendee, J.D. Gordon, who was the Trump campaign’s director of national security, told media outlets including Reuters in November that Sessions strongly opposed Papadopoulos’ proposal and said no one should speak of it again. In response to a request for comment, Gordon said on Saturday that he stood by his statement.

Sessions, through Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, declined to comment beyond his prior testimony. The special counsel’s office also declined to comment. Spokeswomen for the Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee did not immediately comment.

Unlike the bold Mitchell, Sessions appears to be struggling to walk over a very thin tightrope these days.

Regarding the increasing congestion and complexity of Mueller’s investigation going forward, here are some of the pending issues likely to manifest in the coming months.

From:  Trump-Mueller Showdown Looms as Lawyer Urges End to Probe

Any move to fire Mueller is expected to ignite a political firestorm in Washington. Democrats have warned of a constitutional crisis, and even most Senate Republicans have cautioned Trump against doing anything to curtail the special counsel’s investigation.

Republicans were noticeably silent, though, in the immediate aftermath of the new calls from Trump and his lawyers to end the probe. It’s unclear whether they would take steps to rein the president in if he took drastic action.

McCabe’s firing also adds fresh fuel to Mueller’s probe. Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department attorney now serving as one of McCabe’s lawyers, said that the veteran FBI agent was fired after the disclosure that he’s a cooperating witness against Trump. McCabe documented his interactions with Trump in a series of memos, according to a person familiar with the matter, and those memos could play into Mueller’s investigation. The memos have been provided to the special counsel’s office, according to AP.

Now that McCabe has lost his job and possibly a substantial portion of the pension accrued in more than two decades with the FBI, he has little reason not to speak out — starting with the lengthy statement Friday night where he noted that he could “corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the president.”

McCabe is “a loose cannon right now. Talk about a guy who has nothing to lose — literally, nothing to lose,” said Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who’s now managing director of the international investigation firm Berkeley Research Group LLC. “If he was holding anything back out of loyalty to the FBI or a sense of duty, well that just walked out the door. If he has any information he hasn’t revealed out of a sense of loyalty, that might be told now.”

Comey, meanwhile, is about to embark on a high-profile publicity tour and series of television interviews to promote his memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” which is being released on April 17. “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon,” Comey said Saturday in a tweet. “And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.”

And, the following story about Trump’s son-in-law might shed some light on the reckless hubris which pervades his administration.

From:  AP Exclusive: Kushner Cos. filed false documents with NYC

NEW YORK — When the Kushner Cos. bought three apartment buildings in a gentrifying neighborhood of Queens in 2015, most of the tenants were protected by special rules that prevent developers from pushing them out, raising rents and turning a tidy profit.

But that’s exactly what the company then run by Jared Kushner did, and with remarkable speed. Two years later, it sold all three buildings for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than it paid.

Now a clue has emerged as to how President Donald Trump’s son-in-law’s firm was able to move so fast: The Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with the city declaring it had zero rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned across the city when, in fact, it had hundreds.

While none of the documents during a three-year period when Kushner was CEO bore his personal signature, they provide a window into the ethics of the business empire he ran before he went on to become one of the most trusted advisers to the president of the United States.

5 thoughts on “More thoughts on the Mueller Investigation

  1. Superb post. Trump is FILLED with hubris. To the Greeks and to Shakespeare, this is a tragic flaw that will bring down even the greatest of emperors. I’m not confident that will happen, but I hope it does. It’s time for this bubble to burst and for Trump to fall dead on the traitorous bastards who make up the modern GOP. These are terrifying times.

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