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He is “Individual 1.”
You know him as Donald J. Trump – our 45th president – and the legal noose around his neck appears to be constricting while his political fate seems very much up in the air.
This week, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the first time publicly pointed a finger at Trump after the president’s former personal attorney and chief fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty Thursday in New York Federal Court to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia.
Trump took to the South Lawn outside of his White House residence Thursday morning on the way to the G-20 summit in Argentina to declare Cohen was a “weak person and not a very smart person.” But Trump also admitted, “Even if he was right, it doesn’t matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business.”
Mueller, who personally signed Cohen’s plea deal, obviously has other ideas. Political analysts across the spectrum (with the exception of the usual players) said for the first time it looked like Trump may not finish out his term. The comparisons to Richard Nixon, always at the surface of this discussion, are still at the forefront as The Daily News said Trump may now have his very own John Dean in Cohen. Dean, of course, was Nixon’s aide who famously said there was a “cancer on the presidency” and whose testimony before Congress helped to effectively end Richard Nixon’s political career.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that a clear link between Trump and Russia is now out in the open!
Wait a second. Let’s stop on that one.
I am not falling for it. It isn’t “now out in the open.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a case of deceptive reporting. The president is right! Fake News!
The truth is the evidence has always been out in the open. It may only now be working its way through the legal system, but it’s always been out there. Trump has long said he’s the most transparent president in history, and he may well be right. Despite all of his attempted subterfuge after the fact, I still remember his news conference in July 2016.
That night he made a direct appeal to Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and make them public – a move he said would be cheered by the media. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, referring to emails Mrs. Clinton had deleted from the private account she had used when she was secretary of state. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” he added.
As it turns out, that same day in what some claim is an amazing coincidence or didn’t occur at all or was a direct result of Trump’s public plea, the Russians made their first effort to break into the servers used by Mrs. Clinton’s personal office, Mueller contends.
Mueller, as it turns out, is proving to be as methodical as his reputation and as solid in pursuit of the truth as many profess they have faith he will be as he investigates Trump.
Cohen’s plea shows Mueller in fine form; discrediting a statement that could be used to curtail his investigation. Cohen previously stated that Trump’s potential deal with Russia ended in early 2016 – well before the first Iowa caucuses.
Mueller claimed that Cohen’s statement was made “… In hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.” So much for that. The imaginary roadblock is gone.
Cohen now admits that Trump’s interest in a Russian deal continued long after he became a candidate. The method to Mueller’s madness thus is simple: By discrediting Cohen, Mueller has laid the foundation for continuing his investigation into Donald Trump.
So guess what, folks? We are not anywhere near seeing the end of the Russia investigation drama – though Mueller may have already wrapped or is close to wrapping up the production. What comes after opening the curtain? We are only witnessing the opening act.
Carter Page, Paul Manafort, General Michael Flynn, George Popadopoulos, the two dozen Russians, and other assorted side shows have been swept up and will now be mere bit players in the Great Trump Drama unveiling before us on a federal court stage. The overture and the curtain lights are done.
In some ways, it’s everything Donald Trump has wanted his entire life – he has the entire world’s attention. It’s sad how he stumbled into such power and even sadder what he did to get it, what he has done with it and how many will suffer because of it.
It is a real life Greek tragedy.
On Friday as Trump limped through the G-20 in Argentina, Sarah Huckabee Saunders sent out a confusing statement: “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is hopefully now nearing an end, is doing very well. Unfortunately, it probably does undermine our relationship with Russia. However, the reason for our canceled meeting is Ukraine. Hopefully, that will be resolved soon so that productive conversations can begin.”
Trump and his staff seem more out of touch by the day, unaware of the scope of the scandals enveloping the administration, seemingly untouched by and unaware of what they are doing to the country and unable to escape their self-made prisons.
The national tragedy continues, and we must be set for what comes next.
Will it be Trump on trial? Trump resigns? Trump is impeached? Trump makes it through and drops the mic as he walks away from a second term saying, “I’m the best that’s ever been?” Will Trump be re-elected? Will Putin and Trump make nice?
Will the U.S. punish the country that murdered an innocent reporter?
Or put another way, is the death of our national ideals, the death of a reporter and the death of the American reputation around the world the price we pay for cheap oil?
So many questions. So many twists and turns.
So much nausea.