A Well-Done Nothing Burger

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To date seventeen intelligence agencies have concluded that amid a campaign of Russian cyberattacks, propaganda and misinformation against the United States Trump’s campaign, transition team and now his administration, had a series of undisclosed meetings with the Russian government which were never revealed and in fact were repeatedly denied. These links are now being investigated by the FBI, the US Senate and special counsel Robert Mueller. What warranted the investigations are four Trumps associates; Jared Kushner, Carter Page, Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions who each “forgot” to report meeting with Sergey Kislyak on their SF86 security forms. This of course begs the obvious question of how likely all four associates simply forgot they met with the same Russian operative. Moreover, the central question is why they lied about meeting with Kislyak when there’s no legitimate reason to do so.  The widening ripple of Russian intrigue now includes: Trumps former campaign manager Paul Manafort who resigned amid allegations of Russian payola and recently had his apartment raided by the F.B.I. Additionally, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, fired for his Russian conflicts of interest. Devin Nunes who stepped away from the committee investigation due to inappropriate communications with the White House and of course, the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who flatly denied under oath and in a written inquiry, that he did not have communications with Russian diplomats. Following this, both James Comey and Sally Yates were fired for investigating the whole sordid affair which only grew seamier when testifying to congress, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Director Michael Rogers and Attorney General Jeff Sessions all dodged direct inquiries and refused to answer simple questions whether Trump discussed collusion or had discussions regarding the firing of former FBI director James Comey. The attempt to invoke personal privilege based on an unwritten code, indicates a risk of perjury. All of which prompted the appointment of special investigator Robert Muller, to investigate potential collusion and most certainly obstruction of justice.

The rolling disclosures from Trumps inner-circle over the last several months invite further scrutiny regarding Trumps alliances. Which include; former advisors Carter Page, JD Gordon, Rodger Stone and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross– who was vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who both have a long history with the Russian state prior to being appointed to Trumps cabinet. This suspicious network extends to Trumps personal acquaintances with Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko, a Russian-born business associate, also Felix Sater and his personal attorney Michael Cohen, who also maintain lengthy Russian alliances. Trumps shady affiliations extend to Russian mobsters Anatoly Golubchik and Tevfik Arif. Two racketeers with separate business offices in Trump Towers who were eventually investigated by the FBI and convicted of money laundering, illegal gambling and bribery. Both underworld figures were closely associated with the Russian real estate mogul Aras Agalarov, who facilitated Trump deals in Russia in 2007, 2009 and 2013.

Despite these shadowy connections, any one of these direct and indirect connections within the spider-web of Russian investors, kleptocrats, mobsters and politicians might have occurred at random within a global network of business dealings, however, Trump continues to vehemently deny ever-having any Russian involvement. Nevertheless, when these relationships are scrutinized within the context of Trumps long history of Russian entanglements, a clear pattern begins to emerge. Beginning with Donald Trump Jr’s statement that “Russians make up a disproportionate cross-section of our assets” to the more recent revelation, on June 9th 2016, when it was revealed that Don Jr. along with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner failed to disclose another meeting with a Russian. This event took place in Trump Tower to obtain intel from a foreign adversary regarding Hillary Clinton. In true Trump fashion, the rolling disclosures included: the meeting itself, who was in attendance, and what information was discussed, although once the Trump team finally admitted to the meeting- the details began to evolve and worsen in the days that followed. It was ultimately revealed the president himself, personally dictated the misleading statement Don, Jr submitted to the public. On the heels of that debacle, President Trump attended the G-20 summit and engaged in a disclosed meeting with Putin that was covered by the press for the first few minutes-after that there was no record, no press and no documentation about what was discussed. Furthermore, it is later revealed there was an undisclosed second meeting at the summit that lasted for an hour without any record, press, diplomats or interpreter in attendance. More recently, on August 8th it was confirmed that Devin Nunes, after stepping aside from the senate investigation, covertly sent two of his staffers to Britain, unannounced to anyone associated with the investigations, to interview former MIA agent Christopher Steele. Thereby risking the investigations and once again inappropriately running interference for the White House on the Russian matter.

If this is in fact a Nothing-burger as republicans claim, then why are there so many repeated lies coming from the Trump organization, the Trump family, the campaign, white house staffers and Trump himself about their conversations, their business dealings, their financial arrangements and political connections related to Russia?…...Why don’t they lie about their numerous dealings and connections with Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Sydney, Istanbul or Beijing, among others? Why invite all this political and legal scrutiny when there is no legitimate reason to do so?  The answer may lie within the context of the Trump organization, Russia and international finance. When exploring the confluence of these three matters, the illusion of a brilliant deal-maker with sharp business instincts begins to evaporate. What emerges is the crux of this conspiracy….. the dark reality of an international debtor with a string of speculative schemes and failed projects who failed to disclose to the American people that he is complicit in Russian money laundering and financially indebted to Russia. Beginning in the 1990’s, Trump experienced a series of successive bankruptcies, including running an Atlantic City casino into the ground. These fiascos left many financial institutions and Wall Street unwilling to continue financing his impulsive and often volatile business ventures. About this same time the Soviet Union collapsed, creating disastrous economic circumstances for ordinary Russian citizens. However, for the global financial elites this was an opportunity to exploit the chaos and feed on the post-Soviet spoils. The result was a marriage of deception between vulture capitalists and needy borrowers like the Trump organization. A relationship of convenience that provided just the kind of indiscriminating financier that Trump needed, who in turn provided the ideal front for massive amounts of money laundering. This helps to account for one of the most intriguing mysteries of Donald Trump’s tumultuous career- just how he managed to keep financing his dismal track-record of failures. It’s therefore, a very short leap to conclude, Donald Trump’s electoral victory remains a by-product of his extensive history and financial involvement with Russian mobsters, private bankers and politicians. Which begs the next obvious question: if in fact Trump wasn’t complicit in money laundering and indebted to Russian oligarchs, then why has he refused to release his taxes? That one single act would resolve this issue overnight.

Despite all of this, the republican party has gone from “There was no Russian interference” to “There is no evidence of collusion” to “Collusion is not a crime” all in the span of six-months. Amid all the secrecy, deception and shadowy connections, republicans focus on the leaks of information that led to the investigation-a feeble defense that attempts to blame the smoke for the fire. They would like us to believe the Russian investigations are just a post-election witch-hunt cooked up by resentful liberals. This half-baked notion demonstrates the stunningly superficial knowledge of an extraordinarily gullible electorate and a republican congress desperately trying to hide the egg on their face. Despite conservatives who condone the sloppy diplomacy of this presidency and overlook his reckless assault on our institutions, the public has a legitimate right to scrutinize the inconsistencies and thus the integrity of this president. However, because of Trumps ambiguity, his unwillingness to clarify these shadowy connections, his murky business associations, the rolling disclosures and the unequivocal refusal to release his tax returns-the public cannot ascertain the true extent of his financial indebtedness to Russia. Ultimately, as this scandal continues to unfold it will result in either Trump retreating in disgrace or America.

     

     

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