Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller recently expanded his investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 election to include Trump´s finances.
It´s about time.
The scheduled Senate hearings amount to poor boy, get-of-jail-free cards to the Trumps. Donald Trump Junior and ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manaford will not be under oath when they testify in private session before the Senate Judiciary Committee, apparently on the condition that they hand over some records and will not plead the Fifth Amendment, i.e., say nothing.
Of course, they will say nothing anyway. The hearings will be a hoax because unless someone is under oath, he can lie all he wants and not commit perjury, a federal crime.
It is no loss for congress or the country to have a person repeatedly take the Fifth Amendment in a public hearing. Watch this video of Martin Shkreli chronically plead the Fifth before congress in 2015. In case you have forgotten, Shkreli was labelled "the most hated man in America" for raising the price of a Daraprim dose, an anti-AIDS and cancer drug, from $13.50 to $750. In 2017, Shkreli was convicted of security fraud.
If no side deals had been cut between congress and the Trumps, we would have been treated to a televised Shkreli-type spectacle in which the Trumps took the Firth and nothing but the Fifth. If you do not know what Americans would have concluded, ask your friendly 15-year-old neighbor; she will be happy to set you straight.
The Senate either does not know how the game is played or knows only too well. Incompetent or corrupt? In a prior post this blog gave the definitive answer to that perennial question:
Incompetent or corrupt, it makes no difference.
Mueller apparently looked at the conditions set for the phony Senate hearings and inevitable have-a-nice-day testimonies, shook his head in disgust, and decided to take matters into his own hands. He impaneled a grand jury and sent out subpoenas.
For why that is a truly significant step indeed, click here.
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THE LAUNDRY HYPOTHESIS
The investigation of Russian influence of the 2016 election was from the very beginning a side show.
Our post "Why Hillary Lost" shows conclusively the Russians did not make her lose the White House. The cause: Sanders voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were filled with cognitive dissonance about whom to vote for. To relieve their discomfort, they stayed home, thereby handing those states and the presidency to Trump.
To create ambivalence and dissonance in hundreds of thousands of people who are in a targeted group requires a sophistication that only a handful of people possess. No Trump campaign consultant or Russian is among them.
The Russian election influence scandal was a distraction from what?
We come to The Laundry Hypothesis:
The Trump organization laundered money for the Russian mafia and who knows who else. For background on this subject, see this well-documented article in the New Republic, "Trump´s Russian Laundromat." Please also see our post published September 20, 2015, "How to Knock Out Donald Trump," which outlined Donald Trump´s American mafia connections.
There is only one credible way to reject The Laundry Hypothesis: not wind-bag assertions by politicos and their lawyers but if the Mueller investigation proves the null hypothesis: the Trump organization did not engage in money laundering.
It is well-known the Kremlin favored the election of Trump over Clinton. Why? I suspect the Russians thought that Trump´s money-laundering activities could serve as a leverage point to manipulate him.
Once in the White House, however, Trump´s erratic behavior may have led the Russians to conclude that he is too mentally unstable to be useful. His signature into law a few days ago of the Russia sanctions bill was the final blow.
If Russian disenchantment with Trump is serious enough, the Kremlin will be amenable to providing one or two smoking guns that will lead to Trump´s impeachment.
Trump´s mercurial behavior and aberrant statements may have a source which is so banal as to be overlooked: the onset of dementia.
We will explore possible dementia in a future post.