Is the Trump-Russia special prosecutor just fishing, or has Mueller at long last come up with something to justify the millions of dollars he’s spent? Plus, various other items.
One gets the distinct impression, thanks to the sudden outbreak of news emanating from the $30 million Robert Mueller special counsel investigation of the Trump-Russia hypothesis (we’re not sure what else to call it at this point; “scandal” doesn’t quite fit, “affair” lacks a certain je ne sais quoi, and “allegations” seems a bit generous), that Mueller’s investigation appears to be coming to something of an end.
What that end is, one can’t say.
We know that the President submitted written answers to a number of questions the Mueller team had posed to him, including something about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in which Donald Trump, Jr. conversed with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Clinton campaign front group Fusion GPS and a reported change to the Republican Party’s 2016 platform having to do with foreign policy involving the Russia-Ukraine conflict. One would assume there were questions of a higher grade than those; at this late stage of the game the GOP platform is certainly small beer.
We also know the special prosecutor’s office is attempting to pull a Scooter Libby on conservative pundit/investigative journalist/author Jerome Corsi, whose work over the last two and a half decades identifies him as, depending on your perspective, an astute connector of dots or a conspiracy theorist. Corsi’s work has appeared in a large number of conservative publications including InfoWars, but what has apparently piqued the special counsel’s office was the fact he seemed to figure out that WikiLeaks had gained access to John Podesta’s emails before anyone else.
Corsi has been dragged into the special counsel’s investigation, and Mueller’s team has taken possession of his computer and cell phone. After reviewing documents within, the investigators queried him about an email that he apparently forwarded to an American academic named Ted Malloch living in London — the email had come from Trump associate and political operative Roger Stone who asked Corsi to get in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Corsi, who had told Stone in August that, based on third-party sources and his own intuition, he says, WikiLeaks was about to release damaging material about Hillary Clinton, refused. And he says he has never had any contact with Assange.
Corsi, in his first contact with Mueller’s team, neglected to mention the email. When it was raised to him, he amended his statement to make note of it. But Corsi’s story to Mueller was not to the latter’s liking and the special counsel is now threatening to prosecute him for making false statements and offering him a plea agreement Corsi is refusing.
In the meantime, as Corsi told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, he’s facing legal bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars as the federal government seeks to destroy him for essentially gabbing to high-placed friends about current events.
And former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is currently jailed on 12-year-old charges unrelated to the Trump-Russia investigation in any way other than it was that investigation which led to his being prosecuted for failing to report income from consulting activity on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, is freshly in the news because Mueller similarly dislikes what Manafort has to say. Mueller is saying that Manafort lied to the special counsel in a plea agreement he made with them, on what is said to be “a variety of matters” not yet specified. The implication one may draw from this is Manafort has refused to provide Mueller’s team with any particular goods on Trump, and as such he faces a lengthy jail sentence which he likely will not survive.
And therefore there is much talk that Manafort has been conducting negotiations with Trump about a presidential pardon — something the president and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have hardly been bashful in discussing. The pardon discussions are being taken by Democrats in Congress, and particularly conspiracy buffs like Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff, as prima facie evidence that Trump is acting to obstruct Mueller’s investigation. As National Review’s Andrew McCarthy notes, a Manafort pardon is certain to spark a Democrat effort at impeachment and so might not be quite as forthcoming as some believe.
The frenzy surrounding this new round of developments mounted when the UK Guardian released a report claiming that Manafort visited Assange at his hideout in the Ecuadoran embassy in London no less than three times between 2013 and the spring of 2016, shortly before Manafort signed on as Trump’s campaign manager. As the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway observes, the Guardian story fell apart almost immediately, but not fast enough to prevent virtually every NeverTrump talking head to beclown himself or herself in claiming it as the smoking gun of Trump-Russia collusion.
Making sense of all this at the moment seems impossible. But while we wait for more information, here’s a theory I’m toying with but not ready to commit to — what if, assuming Manafort has actually lied to Mueller’s prosecutors and is not simply guilty of disappointing them as Corsi seems to have been, his motivation isn’t a pardon at all but pure spite? After all, one cannot argue but that Manafort has been treated poorly by Mueller — he was rousted out of his bed in a SWAT-style raid, his home and papers rifled through, put through a rather aggressive prosecution on charges the government neglected to bring for over a decade despite what appeared to be fairly ample knowledge, jailed in solitary confinement for weeks if not months while awaiting sentencing and now is apparently being hot-boxed to roll over on the President for some seemingly nebulous nexus to Russian collusion which doesn’t appear to be corroborated by much evidence available to the public.
What if, given all of the above, Manafort doesn’t even require a pardon from Trump? What if all this is just a giant middle finger to Mueller? Manafort does, after all, seem to be a rather old-school hardass, and if ever anyone would be pushed to the limit of their tolerance it might be him. Perhaps he’s just a hard case who has decided that if he’s going to go down he’ll do it humiliating Mueller as much as he can.
Further developments will tell us whether that theory holds any water, or if there is some other reason for the falling out between the prosecutors and their prized captive.
There is a study out from the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness (FLAG) which says young Americans overwhelmingly support the NFL’s national anthem kneelers and nearly half of them believe America is more racist than other nations.
This anti-American and anti-patriotic attitude is coupled with a profound, overwhelming ignorance about civics and American history. To wit…
- 8 in 10 Americans failed the FLAG’s American Patriotic History Quiz.
- Less than 1 in 4 Americans know who authored the Federalist Papers.
- 8 in 10 Americans cannot name the 5 freedoms guaranteed under the 1st Amendment.
- 6 in 10 younger Americans (under 37) did not know who was on Mt. Rushmore.
- Less than half of the respondents knew how many amendments were in the Bill of Rights, and that number dips to 2 out of 5 for millennials.
- When asked about the first 5 amendments, respondents were clear on the first two, but fell to a little over half of all respondents knowing the rights of amendments 3, 4, and 5.
- 35 percent of the Americans surveyed believe the United States is a sexist country.
- 3 in 10 Americans disagree with the statement, “I enjoy seeing the American flag displayed in my community on Independence Day.”
- 2 in 10 Millennials see the American flag as a sign of intolerance and hatred, and 4 in 10 believe it is ok to burn the American flag.
What to make of this? Well, in previous entries in this space your author has bemoaned the mismatch of skills between what our economy needs and what our education system is producing. It’s no real surprise that the situation is substantially worse than that.
Put simply, American public education is a national security threat, because if it produces generations of young Americans who know nothing of their country and its history, are ignorant of its system of government and lack any appreciation of its civic and cultural values, then that educational system serves as a petri dish for societal failure and political revolution.
No nation can long survive by teaching its young to hate their own civilization. This is precisely what ours is doing, and the people responsible are doing it in place of teaching our youth how to succeed in the most dynamic, competitive, and prosperous economy in the history of the world.
How can we possibly go on tolerating this? What’s even worse is the unions most responsible for setting public education and the dollars funding it ablaze have been agitating for teacher strikes as a demonstration backing a demand for pay raises across the country for the past year.
Pay more? For this? It boggles the mind.
Finally, a thought: Essentially, Beto O’Rourke is the David Duke of the modern Democrat Party.
He’s a grifter with a talent for riling up unengaged and uninformed voters by use of repackaging old policy agendas as something new and different, and he’s able to generate large-scale media coverage of a basically hopeless political campaign, such that he lost by a smaller margin than was expected.
Duke tried to parlay that scam into a presidential bid. Just as O’Rourke will attempt to do. But Duke never had the ability to raise money that O’Rourke does, and Duke’s past as a racist huckster was more damaging than O’Rourke’s past as a drunken cat burglar and corrupt local pol.
Either way, both will end up irrelevant, itinerant candidates and figures of scorn.
Women's March, San Francisco Jan. 20, 2018 (Master Steve Rapport/Flickr-Creative Commons)