Harry C. Blaney III
Today the first shoe dropped in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments are now public and those involved all have ties to Trump and his campaign. Among the charges are lying, defrauding the government, avoiding taxes, and conspiring against America.
The focus was first on Paul Manafort who was briefly the Chairman of the Trump campaign. The 18 charges focused largely on evasion of taxes and money laundering, but also included the question of Manafort’s years as a political consultant to Viktor F. Yankukovych the pro-Russian former president of the Ukraine.
What may prove equally or more significant the indictment was of George Papadopoulos who it is said to be cooperating with Mueller. He was a volunteer foreign policy advisor to Trump during the campaign. The day after joining the campaign he met the “professor” who had ties to the Kremlin. He to appears to charged with lying to the FBI and has pleaded guilty.
The third person indicted was Rick Gates who is accused lying about transferring $3 million from offshore accounts some in Cyprus. He worked with Manafort.
The media characterized the indictments as “a significant escalation in the special counsel investigation.” But is was more than that as it seemed to be part of a strategy to bring all the threads of possible collusion with Russians together and seems to threaten Trump himself as he attempted today to throw off or deflect the news of the indictments of his associates by saying the government Justice Department should investigate Hillary Clinton, a very tired line from his campaign which given that such action are seen as inappropriate for a president to interfere in any Justice investigation and only showed more his fear of the consequences of the investigation. Trump insisted against all evidence, that no one in his orbit during the campaign colluded with the Russian government. We need to remember that there were indeed undisclosed meetings with Russians by Trump family and staff.
What should we make of these events and news? First, that Mueller appears to be closing in upon the Trump circle and decided to act against the most easily indicted persons with hope in the end of getting at the bottom of Russian efforts to undermine our election and to what degree Trump’s people were involved in illegal activity at high levels.
But in a larger perspective, it shows first that at the moment our laws and democracy works against some great illegal actions to deflect and undercut Mueller and the legal process. What is interesting is that the White House said Trump had no plans to fire Mueller….but my thought is that he may have plans to use another high official to someday carry out that action.
The other question is the future of Trump and of his administration. It gets darker with each day especially as he gets more crazed. What is taking place is a major challenge to the integrity of our justice system, and it is also a test of our political system under stress and especially that of our Congress. This is true for our courts that will have to adjudicate these charges.
All of this will have major international repercussions. First, is it will further undermine foreign confidence in the capability of Trump to act in a rational way with our friends and opponents. Second, it may at last bring light into the public mind the serious nature of what has taken place. And it may move Congress on the full meaning of what Russia has done to undermine our democracy and not least how much the Trump team may have colluded to cooperate in the interference in our political process and elections. Third, it may at last force Congress to rethink their own role in support of Trump’s idiocies and also to act with more authority over our national foreign affairs and national security policies. This is especially true of issues of Western unity, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Finally, Trump has shown every indication of willingness to act in irresponsible ways when he is put into a cornier or feels threaten. The problem is whether he would think that going to war might be a way out for him. His belligerent words and actions with North Korea and Iran as well as escalation of US forces in the Middle East indicates he has no hesitation, or careful thought or assessment before hand, to enter and initiate conflict that can bring disaster to all sides. This is a challenge for those that serve in the White House, in DOD, the State Department, the courts, and not least in Congress to act, within the law, as a check on catastrophic actions by an unhinged myopic president. We are all in this mess together even if we still do not fully recognize this.
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