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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

 
Just bring the cash in a suitcase right to the oval office

by digby















Remember Chinagate? Old timers will recall it. If you don't remember, this Wikipedia entry gives a good overview. In  a nutshell, it was one of the many Clinton scandals in the 1990s. There were suspicions that the Chinese government had illegally funneled money into the 1996 election and the Clinton defense fund through some Democratic Party and Clinton campaign Chinese American donors. The money was returned quickly but it was nonetheless investigated to death. They never found a smoking gun but the money was returned although some of the alleged Chinese intermediaries involved were found guilty of various crimes. They didn't assign this one to a special prosecutor but both houses of congress investigated the allegations for years. This was just one of the many endless investigations during the period.

 Anyway, it came to mind when I read this at Mother Jones today:
When a Chinese American businesswoman who sells access to powerful people recently purchased a $15.8 million penthouse in a building owned by President Donald Trump, the deal raised a key question. Was this a straightforward real estate transaction, or was this an effort to win favor with the new administration? The woman, Angela Chen, refused to discuss the purchase with the media. The White House and the Trump Organization would not comment on it. 
Further investigation by Mother Jones has unearthed a new element to the story: Chen has ties to important members of the Chinese ruling elite and to an organization considered a front group for Chinese military intelligence.
Chen, who also goes by the names Xiao Yan Chen and Chen Yu, purchased the four-bedroom condo in the Trump Park Avenue building in New York City on February 21. As Mother Jones first reported, Chen runs a business consulting firm, Global Alliance Associates, which specializes in linking US businesses seeking deals in China with the country's top power brokers. "As counselors in consummating the right relationships—quite simply—we provide access," Chen's firm boasts on its website. But Chen has another job: She chairs the US arm of a nonprofit called the China Arts Foundation, which was founded in 2006 and has links with Chinese elites and the country's military intelligence service.
The difference between this situation and the Chinagate scandal back in the 1990s is the gigantic sum of money involved, of course --- and the fact that it is going directly into the Trump family's pockets instead of a campaign or a political party.  And because of that it is subject to no oversight, no rules and no laws. 

We have been told it is impossible for a president to have a conflict of interest. It is, therefore, apparently impossible for a president to be corrupt. He and his family can personally take money from anyone, anywhere and any time and it is completely above board and acceptable.

This is a new thing in American politics. But here we are.  If you want to buy influence with the president or even just brag to your friends that you're buying influence with the president, all you have to do is give his family a bunch of money. It doesn't even have to be a secret. You can walk into the Oval Office and hand him a paper bag full of thousand dollar bills. 

It's so much easier than anyone ever imagined. Who knew?

.