Monday, June 14, 2021

What is This Rubicon of Which You Speak, Stranger?


(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.) 
The problem with Donald Trump is that he rarely, if ever, remembers who was there for him in his countless hours of need, just those he perceives as being disloyal in those moments. For Trump, who's never once enjoyed a relationship that wasn't purely transactional in nature, loyalty's a one way street, something that is supposed to benefit only him. Jeff Sessions can tell you all about that.
     The former Attorney General and Alabama senator is a prime example. Sessions, infamously, was the first Republican in Congress to give Trump his endorsement in 2016. Sessions was rewarded for that and his collusion with Trump's handlers and employers in the Kremlin by being nominated as Attorney General.
    Oh, did I say "rewarded"? Silly me, I meant to say, "cynically pressed into service yet again". Sessions' installation as Attorney General had always been just the next phase of Trump's never-ending loyalty tests. It became immediately obvious that Sessions' sole remit was narrowed down to the width of a razor: Defend me from any Russia investigation.
    The man who'd said with wearisome frequency that there was "no collusion" with Russia, no dealings with Russia, no nothing, sure became quickly paranoid about any probe into his many nefarious dealings with Putin's Russia. He'd made little secret of his displeasure with Jeff Sessions' momentary brush with legal ethics in recusing himself from any involvement with then FBI Director James Comey's Russia probe.
   In fact, Trump had openly admitted that if he knew Sessions would recuse himself, he never would've nominated him in the first place. The man who kept screaming, "No collusion!" then fired Jim Comey over the Russia probe then bragged about it the very next day to his handlers in the Kremlin, Lavrov and Kislyak (with only Tass allowed in the Oval Office that day, naturally).
    That automatically kick-started in motion Robert Mueller's own Russia probe that would take up 22 months. Trump wanted to fire him and instructed Don McGahn to do so. McGahn, himself remembering all too well Archibald Cox and the Saturday Night Massacre, immediately realized that was the Rubicon. McGahn, then the Chief White House Counsel, threatened to quit if Trump pressed the issue and only then did he back off.
     Sessions and McGahn would both be back in the news as of late Thursday night when the NY Times dropped another bombshell article on top of Trump's double-woven combover. It told the sordid story of how the Trump-Sessions Justice Department in 2017 had demanded, and got, metadata on at least two Democrats in the House Intel Committee (Chairman Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell), as well as their families, including a minor child.
     Soon thereafter, we discovered that Don McGahn's metadata was also snared in the net. Then, to ensure its plainly illegal surveillance was kept from prying eyes, the DOJ then slapped a succession of gag orders on both Microsoft and Apple (three annual gag orders on Apple and over two years on Microsoft) that forbade them from telling either Schiff, Swalwell or McGahn about the collection of data. All told, DOJ insisted on data from 73 phone accounts and 36 email addresses.

What is This Illegal Spying of Which You Speak, Stranger?
Knowing fully well that Sessions had done this for him, Trump still fired Sessions then savaged him on the campaign trail when he ran to get back his old Senate seat, resulting in a complete buffoon like Tommy Tuberville to get into the Senate. Trump couldm't get around Sessions' immediate recusal from all Russia-related matters, a recusal that Ill Douche looked at as nothing more or less than a personal betrayal.
    The impetus for the data harvesting was simple- The "man" who'd bellowed, "No collusion!" a dozen times a day wanted to get to the bottom of who had leaked the details of Trump's furtive and secretive confabs with his Russian employers. Again, something a totally innocent guy would do after not colluding with Russia.
     For now, we're not getting any straight answers from the usual suspects. Sessions has said he doesn't recall any such subpoenas being issued. Bill Barr, Trump's personal attorney during his second go-round, insists he has no recollection of any such subpoenas being issued. This, despite virtually every legal expert in the land informing us that subpoenas like this involving well over 100 cell phone and email accounts (including that of at least one child) would've had to come from the top of the DOJ's food chain. Or the White House. Trump made no bones about the enmity he'd felt toward Adam Schiff and Swalwell. And he blocked Don McGahn's testimony before the House during the first impeachment hearings.
     The gag order imposed on two of the largest corporations on the planet is the coverup. And, if Watergate taught us anything, boys and girls, it's that the coverup is always worse than the original crime. And that is how Watergate factors in to this sordid tale. It's not to remind you how sleazy and sordid Watergate was, and it was, but to demonstrate how this newest scandal makes even Watergate pale in comparison.
     Watergate, as we remember, we carried out in 1972 when Nixon instructed operatives to break into the Democratic Party HQ at the Watergate Hotel to dig up dirt on Democrats. It consumed his entire second term and he was forced to become the first president to resign from office. If he hadn't, he surely would've been impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate. He seriously thought about wiretapping certain people he perceived to be enemies but decided against it. Then he was forced to release the Watergate tapes and that was the beginning of the end.
   That was the Rubicon that Nixon refused to cross. Trump, the head of the Executive branch, instructed the head of the DOJ, a major component of the Judicial branch, to spy on at least two Democrats in the Legislative branch who were investigating him for his collusion with Russia. And not only did Trump cross the Rubicon, he spat then pissed in it.
    That's why this is worse than Watergate. Nixon certainly deserved to fall after what he did, especially after getting the FBI and CIA involved in what was then the greatest political scandal in US history. But this was far worse because this involved not just elected members of Congress, their staffers and even their very families, they were members of Congress who'd been actively investigating Trump for his collusive ties with Russia. And this spanned virtually the entirety of Trump's "presidency" and directly involved both his Senate-confirmed AGs.
     As Nancy Pelosi once famously said to Trump, "With you, all roads lead to Russia." With whom he had no collusion, don't forget. All things that, once again, a completely innocent guy would do.


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