Saturday, December 2, 2017

Something to Know - 2 December

With the due diligence of a sloth cramming for final exams, and having no seminars, lectures, or group discussion on the subject matter. the GeeOpie passed a very crappy and hurtful piece of legislation early this morning.  Legislation that was written by lobbyists, special interests of the very wealthy, and cruel-minded.  Legislation that was edited on the fly at the midnight hour to appease detractors.  Legislation whose impact and destruction will not be known until its implementation.  This act of shame will come to haunt all those who voted for it.  On the other hand, the noose around the White House is slowly encircling key members of the administration and will eventually settle on the stinking fish at the head of the swamp.


Flynn Flipped. Who's Next?
DEC. 1, 2017


Well, well, well.

We now have a better idea why President Trump went to such great lengths to shield Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, from the prying eyes of the F.B.I. and various congressional committees over the past year. Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, it didn't work out as he had planned.

On Friday morning, Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the transition period in December 2016. He told the lies on Jan. 24 of this year, after Mr. Trump had been inaugurated and Mr. Flynn was sitting in his West Wing office.

It's hard to find a precedent for how quickly Mr. Trump's inner circle has become consumed by scandal. Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan made it into their second terms before the indictments of their inner circle started rolling in. In contrast, consider what's happened in the last five weeks alone: The president of the United States' former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, and an associate have been arrested and charged with multiple federal crimes, including money laundering and tax fraud; one of Mr. Trump's former foreign policy advisers, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with Russians; and now his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to the same offense, admitting that he committed federal crimes from inside the White House.

Should we say "lock him up" yet?

Not so fast. Mr. Flynn's plea is part of a larger cooperation deal he's struck with the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, who is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials who tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Mueller, for his part, is holding off on bringing even more serious charges against Mr. Flynn — remember the kidnapping plot? — despite apparently having more than enough evidence to indict him. He's also recommending between zero and six months' jail time for Mr. Flynn, a small fraction of the five-year maximum sentence he could face, as long as he cooperates.

In a statement released after his guilty plea, Mr. Flynn said that cooperating with the investigation is "a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country."

It is not in the best interests of Donald Trump, who should be very, very concerned. The president has repeatedly denied that he or his campaign had any involvement with Russia, and he has mocked the investigation as a "witch hunt." But Mr. Mueller has no reason to go easy on Mr. Flynn unless Mr. Flynn has valuable information to share.

So what does Mr. Flynn know? For starters, he may have more to tell about his communications with Mr. Trump and top members of the transition team regarding the conversations with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Kislyak, that he initially lied about. Mr. Flynn and Mr. Kislyak spoke several times on Dec. 29, one day after President Barack Obama placed sanctions on Russia for meddling in the election. After conferring with a senior official on the Trump transition team, Mr. Flynn asked Mr. Kislyak not to escalate the conflict. The next day, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, agreed not to retaliate. Mr. Trump promptly tweeted, "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!"

Mr. Flynn also pleaded guilty to lying about a conversation with Mr. Kislyak in which Mr. Flynn asked that Russia delay or vote against a United Nations Security Council resolution, supported by the Obama administration, condemning Israel's building of settlements. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel reportedly had asked Trump officials to help scuttle the measure. (The United States abstained, and the measure passed.)

Who might now be swept up in the investigation? The next obvious candidate is Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, who apparently played a key role in Mr. Flynn's communications with Mr. Kislyak and who has his own problems with being truthful when making statements under oath.

Mr. Flynn's decision to turn state's evidence must be not only deeply worrisome but also infuriating for Mr. Trump. The president, after all, spent the first several months of his presidency running interference for Mr. Flynn — pressuring the F.B.I. director, James Comey, to drop his investigation into Mr. Flynn's Russia connections, and then firing him when he refused; urging Senate Republicans to end the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation; and asking top intelligence officials to deny the existence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and specifically to get Mr. Comey to lay off Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Trump built and sustained his long, gaudy career by demanding loyalty from people to whom he gave nothing in return. He is not used to being on the short end of that deal.

Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
- Adlai Stevenson

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