Congress and the 45th* President of the United States have left Washington, D.C. for extended summer vacations. The Republican Congressional leadership and the Republican President hope to escape their epic failures to legislate over the first 200 days of the 115th Congress and this, the 45th President’s, administration. This Week In Russiagate takes a look the emerging skeletons in the closet that 45th* would like to ignore.
About That Meeting With Those Russians And Other Foreign Ties
The June 9, 2016 meeting between young Donald, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a bevy of Russians, was back in the news this week. We recall that one of 45th”s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, emphatically said on July 12, 2017, that his client had nothing to do with the initial false statements made by the young Donald, characterizing the meeting as relating to Russian adoption. We now know that 45th* drafted the lie about the meeting relating mostly to Russian adoption on Air Force One, while returning to the United States after the G-20 conference. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new White House Press Secretary, insisted that,
“The statement that Don Jr. issued is true.There’s no inaccuracy in the statement.”
Secretary Sanders also denied that her boss, the Fabricator In Chief, dictated his son’s statement, but she did admit that he,
“Weighed in just as any father would based on the limited information that he had.”
Credibility continues to be an issue for this administration. 45th* and his entourage seem to be in a perpetual position of first denying an action, then blaming it on others, if it did in fact happen, then finally admitting that it did happen but there was nothing wrong, nothing to see here. In a related manner, the former campaign adviser and the first but former National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, came back into the news. Flynn, who previously amended his filings for his failure to include his work for the Turkish Government and the payments he and his consulting firm received from Russian interests, has again amended his disclosure form.
This new information shows that Michael Flynn,
“Discloses income that includes payments from the Trump transition team.”
The amended filing shows that,
“Just before the end of the campaign, Flynn entered into a consulting agreement with SCL Group, a Virginia-based company related to Cambridge Analytica, the data mining and analysis firm that worked with Trump’s campaign.”
While the consulting deal with Cambridge Analytica was canceled shortly after the results of the 2016 presidential election, this revelation is yet another important tie to overseas activity. Cambridge Analytica is a British entity connected to American Conservative, Robert Mercer, who,
“Is reported to have a $10m stake in the company, which was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group.”
There is a further connection to the White House in that,
“Chief strategist Steve Bannon was a vice president of Cambridge Analytica before he joined the Trump campaign,”
Robert Mercer has been confirmed to have an ownership interest in Breitbart, and Steve Bannon was also the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News before he joined the administration’s team. It has previously been reported that the FBI had been investigating the connection of Breitbart News and the Alex Jones platform, Inforwars, to the 2016 Russian intervention into the 2016 election, looking to see if they,
“Played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation.”
This week we also saw the 45th* President essentially being forced to sign the Bill sanctioning Russia, Iran, and North Korea, which passed both the House and Senate with veto proof majorities. But before signing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that neither he nor Trump approved of the sanctions.”
Secretary Tillerson has also rejected funds that have already been authorized by Congress to push back against ISIS and Russian propaganda. The availability of the $80 million will expire at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2017. The refusal by Secretary Tillerson to request the funds has resulted in bipartisan condemnation coming from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).
Having little choice and seeking to avoid yet another embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Republican Congress, 45th* signed the sanctions Bill issuing two statements regarding the Act. He chastised Congress in a public statement, saying,
“You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!”
The official White House signing statement accompanying the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act called the Bill flawed, seeking to,
“Grant the Congress the ability to change the law outside the constitutionally required process.”
The administration telegraphed an intent through the signing statement to ignore the will of Congress, saying that,
“Will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by Congress in these various provisions and will implement them in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.”
This might very well end up in court, should Congress determine that the administration is not implementing the sanctions act in a manner consistent with Congressional intent. As we have seen to date, the courts have not been a winning forum for this President.
The Special Counsel Gets A Special Grand Jury And Perhaps Even More
Meanwhile, This Week In Russiagate saw Special Counsel Robert Mueller add a new member to his team. The 16th member of the Mueller team is Greg Anders, who
“Served at the Justice Department from 2010 to 2012. He was deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division, where he oversaw the fraud unit and managed the program that targeted illegal foreign bribery.”
What might turn out to be a breakwater event is the news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has empaneled a special grand jury in the District of Columbia. If true, the convening of a grand jury at the situs of any potential alleged crimes by the President, the administration, or his associates, such as obstruction of justice, or the making of false statements either verbally or in writing to federal authorities, suggests that the Mueller investigation is about to get serious.
“The grand jury has the subpoena power that prosecutors need to compel reluctant witnesses to testify under oath. Grand jury subpoenas are also how prosecutors gather documents such as bank records, emails and corporate papers from entities or people who might not produce them voluntarily”
According to Reuters, this D.C. grand jury has subpoenaed records relating to the June 9, 2016 meeting between Donald Junior, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and all of those Russians.
While Special Counsel’s special grand jury seems to be moving forward, bipartisan efforts to protect Mueller from being fired are also in the works. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Corey Booker (D-NJ), have introduced legislation that would require a three judge panel to intervene and decide on the firing of a Special Counsel. There is also a second Bill proposed by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) that would allow a fired Special Counsel to appeal a firing to a three judge panel.
There is also the news that the Senate has blocked the President from making a recess appointment if Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, were to be fired during the Senate’s summer break. Before leaving town, the Senate agreed to hold pro forma sessions that technically will keep the Senate from being in recess during the summer vacation. 45th* has reportedly been advised to do just that. In an ironic twist, Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AL), who was recently the subject of attacks by the President because of her vote last week that ended the Senate’s attempt to repeal the ACA, announced the decision to hold pro forma sessions.
The next move is now placed into the tiny hands of the 45th* President. Firing Attorney General Sessions is widely believed to be a necessary step before the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be accomplished. If Mueller does get fired, most experts believe that a Constitutional crisis would be upon us.
Russians, Russians, Where Are The Russians?
“Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?”
While his lawyers say that they are cooperating with the Mueller investigation, 45th* seemed to shoot holes in that pledge, telling his followers that,
“Democrat lawmakers will have to decide. They can continue their obsession with the Russian hoax, or they can serve the interests of the American people.”
While 45th* was addressing his Mountaineer crowd, the familiar chant of lock her up could be heard in the background. Someone should tell 45th* and his supporters that Director Mueller is,
“Is a registered Republican.”
On Friday, August 4, 2017, the Duffer In Chief once again left town for his New Jersey golf club where he will begin a 17 day working vacation. The man who just may be the laziest president ever, who loved to criticize President Obama for going golfing, has spent 43 days out of his first 196 days in office golfing at one of his properties.
What the Vacationer In Chief will be working on over the next 17 days is open to question. Plotting a way to end the Robert Mueller investigation into Russiagate, devising the latest fake program to try to distract us from the continued bad news trickling out concerning Russiagate, or working on his golf game, all seem to be good guesses. A better project would be figuring out how to reverse the continued free fall in his approval ratings, because
“In the history of modern polling, no president has ever seen approval ratings so bad at this point in their tenure.”
With Congress not due back in town for five weeks, and with 45th* off on his first extended vacation, it would appear that the Russiagate investigation will be temporarily calming down. While that would be true for the Congressional committees that will not be in town to continue their work, the more important work will be ongoing by the Mueller grand jury. There appears to be no escape for this already epic failure of a President. This Week In Russiagate will continue to look for the skeletons falling out of the closets.