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Thursday, May 24, 2018


No scintilla of integrity

by Tom Sullivan

John Gotti, the original "Teflon Don."

Stop dancing around it.

"The president surrounds himself with criminals." MSNBC's Chris Hayes told his "All In" audience last night that is what Democrats should say every time they are in front of a camera. There have been to date 17 indictments and 5 guilty pleas, three from Trump associates. Over 100 charges. "The campaign of the president of the United States, including some of its most senior members," Hayes states bluntly, "was staffed with criminals."

James Clapper, former director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, told PBS "NewsHour" last night he now believes Russian interference gave the 2016 election to Donald Trump. “To me, it just exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election," Clapper said, "and it’s my belief they actually turned it."

Responding to Trump's vigorous claims the FBI is part of a "criminal deep state" that spied on his campaign, Clapper explained it was quite the opposite:

“The intent, though, is the important thing. It was not to spy on the campaign but rather to determine what the Russians were up to. Were they trying to penetrate the campaign, gain access, gain leverage, gain influence, and that was the concern that the FBI had? … I think they were just doing their job and trying to protect our political system.”
Reacting to Clapper's comments, counter-terrorism and national intelligence commentator Malcolm Nance told MSNBC he believes Trump is "mortally terrified" that his presidency is illegitimate. Trump is bringing all his disinformation-spreading skills to bear against law enforcement to prevent the idea from catching fire. "In 1780, Benedict Arnold did not realize his name would become infamous throughout all of history. I think Donald Trump might want to reflect on that." Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, also reacting to Clapper, told Rachel Maddow Russians have tried repeatedly to influence America presidential elections. They offered to help Adlai Stevenson in 1960. Stevenson reported it. They then approached John F. Kennedy (1960) with an offer of help, and Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In each case, the candidates turned them down.

"We have norms in this country," Maddow responded. "It's not an unprecedented thing for them to do an attack. It's an unprecedented thing for it to be accepted."

Indeed it is. But Josh Marshall takes issue with the notion that Trump simply violates "norms" or engages in “conflicts of interest.” The president is obstructing justice. He is abusing his power. (Not to mention he is compromised by a hostile foreign power.) Our diplomatic language obscures those as violations of "bureaucratic niceties" along the lines of violating political correctness. They are not.

What special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating is not collusion but conspiracy: whether Trump conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election the way Richard Nixon conspired with South Vietnam to win his in 1968.

Marshall writes at Talking Points Memo:
The President is trying to obstruct and stymie and hamstring a lawful investigation into his own crimes and those of his associates: by repeatedly lying, firing and threatening to fire people, intervening in law enforcement decisions in his own interest, fabricating fake stories to impede the investigation. The list goes on and on and even those who know better are becoming inured to it. The President is in the midst of a massive, more or less public and months-long effort to cover up his own crimes and the crimes of his associates. That’s really clear-cut. It’s obvious to anyone why that’s not okay. So we need to state that clearly so everyone will know what is at stake. Otherwise, everything becomes a blur. We lose the thread, the significance. We should stop talking around the issue and say this as clearly as we can because our future depends on it.
As background to yesterday's commentaries, a survey from Navigator Research finds that Trump's disinformation campaign is working, aided by Beltway Democrats' reflexive politeness in the face of Trump actively undermining the constitution he swore to uphold and defend. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say the Mueller investigation into Russian election manipulation has not uncovered evidence of crimes, just as the administration and its media and elected flacks claim.

Republicans insist the Mueller probe has gone too far, taken too long, and uncovered nothing criminal. That is a lie. The indictments and guilty pleas attest to it. As for timing, Mueller has been at work for just over a year. It was thirteen months after the Watergate break-in before the Nixon Oval Office tapes came to light, and thirteen more before Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment. Conspiracy with North South Vietnam was never part of the Watergate probe. That betrayal is largely forgotten.

Donald Trump lacks any scintilla of integrity. That much the world can see without an investigation. His court is a rogues' gallery befitting a police lineup. Having snookered half the country, what Trump wants now is to be the new "Teflon Don" and walk away unchained, only unlike Nixon, on his own terms and in his own good time. Like Nixon, Trump is a crook. All we lack is proving it in a court of law. (He's already rigged the jury of public opinion.) All his personal and congressional accomplices lack besides spines is indictment as co-conspirators.

How do you like that political incorrectness?

Correction: h/t WL

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.