Here and there

Here is the US Senate where a group of its Republican members have launched a last-ditch effort to repeal/replace Obamacare (ACA). What they are proposing is more draconian in its particulars than its predecessor that went down to a one-vote defeat a few weeks ago.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the new bill’s co-sponsors, has sought to rally his troops by threatening that a failure to pass it would lead to the imposition on the country of “socialized medicine” in the form of single-payer, universal healthcare for everyone. This is fear-mongering at its worst; congressional Democrats can’t pass anything into law because they are the minority party in both houses of Congress.

So, all this said, why the “hail Mary” at the proverbial eleventh hour? It certainly isn’t about making good policy and thus, actually governing. No, it’s all about keeping the “repeal/replace” promise that GOP candidates used for over seven years to keep getting (re-)elected. It never occurred to them that they might have to deliver on their bold pronouncement. It is also about getting something (anything) done after nine solid months of zero significant accomplishments. The urgency attending all this is well-represented by the facts that the vote on the new bill will be called before a single hearing on it is held, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has completed its “scoring” (1). Thus, as the votes are being cast, not a single senator will know what the new bill will cost, who it will help and how many people it will harm. This is just about as reckless as you can get. It’s like playing Russian roulette but holding the gun, not to your head, but to that of millions of Americans who have benefited from the ACA.

Dire as the foregoing sounds and is, there is hope:  Once again, a simple 51-vote majority is needed to pass the new bill. As this blog is being typed, we know that at least two GOP senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona will join with all 48 Senate Democrats to kill this new legislation. All it will take is one more no vote and that may well come from either or both of the two Republican senators who opposed the previous proposal (Murkowski of Alaska and Collins [2] of Maine).

In the next few days, watch to see if the one more bill-killing “no” vote materializes. If it does, it would not be surprising is Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) decides to avoid the embarrassment of yet another failed repeal/replace attempt and so, skipped the vote so as to move on to other matters of business. In that case, watch Trump speak and act as though a bag of scorpions had been dropped down the front of his pants.

There is the New York City Headquarters of the UN where the General Assembly holds its meetings. In his first opportunity to address the 193 representatives of the member-nations, Trump behaved like, well, Trump. Interspersed throughout his speech, one heard the sorts of rhetorical flourishes that were so characteristic of his campaign speeches. In other words, he was alternately bombastic, mocking, threatening, nationalistic and condescending. All this was aimed at his domestic political base; the international audience, not so much.

What stood out in all of this, was Trump’s threat to tear up the deal that put a limit on Iran’s development of nuclear arms, while promising to “destroy” North Korea if it did not end its own weapons program. There seems to be some curious logic at work here:   How does 45 expect North Korea to enter into any sort of negotiations over ending their weapons regimen when 45 expresses a readiness to tear up an agreement with Iran that is already in place? (3) Could it be that Trump somehow thinks that he can bend North Korea to his will so that negotiating won’t be necessary? That falls into the category of “very wishful thinking”.

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  1. The term “scoring” is used to refer to the process by which the Congressional Budget Office estimates what costs (if any) will attend the passage of a particular bill, and how many people will be impacted, both positively and negatively.
  2. Susan Collins has already said that she is “not comfortable” voting on any bill that has not been preceded by CBO scoring. That could be taken as a signal that she will be the bill-killing 51st “no” vote.
  3. Trump referred to the Iran nuclear deal as an American “embarrassment”  doing so without considering that five other major nations were party to that same agreement. So, insult one, insult all. Whomever wrote 45’s speech clearly never thought of that and it is a “bridge” much too far to expect that 45 himself would have had the good sense to delete that from his talk. This is not what Dale Carnegie had in mind when he wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People.
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Grist for the mill

No long narrative today. Rather, an assortment of short bytes, each important in its own right; each one intended to foster a better understanding of what is going on in our nation’s capitol.

Terminology

As reporting on Special Prosecutor (SP) Mueller’s investigation continues apace, some clarity is needed viz a viz words that are showing up frequently and that could mistakenly be looked upon as synonymous when they are not. The terms are “witness”, “subject” and “target”.

A “witness” is someone who the SP wants to talk to because he believes that even as an innocent party, they still have information that may be of value. Think of a person standing on a street corner who witnesses a car accident. S/he saw what happened though not being materially involved in the incident in any way. Mr. Mueller has identified at a minimum, six members of the White House staff who will be called upon to testify as to what they saw/heard/.

In contrast, a “subject” is a person who is in possession of potentially significant information and who may also be criminally involved. Take the example cited immediately above and assume instead, that the onlooker stepped off the curb against the light, and caused the car crash as the drivers tried to avoid hitting that pedestrian. In the ongoing investigation, both Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner fit here.

Third, a “target” is a person who the SP holds strong suspicions against as a law-breaker. It then becomes Mr. Mueller’s job to make that case with credible evidence and testimony. In the present Russiagate probe, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn fall into this category.

Mueller’s strategy

Think of a series of concentric circles with Trump and those closest to him in the very center. Peripheral to them, in the outer circle(s), might be members of 45’s team. It is becoming increasingly clear that the SP will try to get those people to “flip” and give damning testimony against their higher-ups. It is a tactic that prosecutors used with great success in breaking up the Mafia. Just ask the so-called “Teflon Don”, John Gotti, who ended up in prison after having been ratted out by an underling.

Trump moves on tax reform

Now you would think that anyone (especially a president) who was in possession of even piddling knowledge of how tax reform comes about, would know that this sort of legislation always begins in the House. From that fundamental knowledge it would be obligatory for this president to meet with Speaker Paul Ryan and select members of his caucus. Not Trump. Instead, he went a-courting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and his counterpart in the House, Nancy Pelosi.; both Democrats who hold little legislative clout.

Apart from the fact that this makes absolutely no sense, this gambit only served to infuriate Congressional Republicans who were left out in the cold; treated as bastard step-children at a family reunion. Mind you, these are the very folks that Trump must work with to get anything passed.

Who to believe?

At the Trump + Schumer + Pelosi confab, there was also a discussion of how best to work together in support of the so-called “Dreamers”; i.e. non-citizens whose illegal status was the result of their being brought here by their illegal parents. Estimates point to the existence of approximately 800,000 such individuals, many of whom have attended or are attending our schools (including college), are gainfully employed with some even serving in our military.

During his 2011 State of the Union Speech, then President Obama urged Congress to find some means of providing the Dreamers with a form of legal status/protection, warning representatives that if they didn’t act, he would.

In response to that prod, Republicans who now controlled the House, did virtually nothing. In contrast, a bipartisan group of senators came together and crafted a bill that by 2013 passed with a solid majority of 68 votes. Sent over to the House for debate, amending and ultimately, a vote, the legislation was simply buried and allowed to die.

Taking note of this course of events, especially the failure of the House Republicans to actually govern, Obama issued an Executive Order (EO) that shielded the Dreamers from deportation. Challenged in court, parts of the EO were struck down and the rest of it killed off by Trump once he took office.

This is the back story to the aforementioned tripartite meeting (see above) that focused on the status of the Dreamers. Upon leaving that session, both Schumer and Pelosi said that they had reached an “agreement” with Trump that would include new protection for the same group and that this action would not be coupled to any funding for Trump’s notorious wall.

By the next morning, 45 asserted that no such agreement had been reached. Who to believe? Neither Schumer nor Pelosi are saints. But neither has a history of serial lying like Trump. Whomever is telling the truth you can take this to the bank:  45’s rabid, nativist supporters will not tolerate any sort of deal that accommodates the Dreamers, and that puts off the building of the wall. Any actions to the contrary by 45 and he will lose that base. Trump has surely made that calculation which would explain his morning-after disclaimer.

 

 

Scroll, highlight, click delete

Back in 2011, Trump hit on a grand, overarching strategy to win the GOP nomination and even the presidency; i.e. cater to some of the lowest and most un-American of our citizens by playing to their nativist/racist biases. Step-one:  rush to become the most nationally visible person to embrace birtherism. This, combined with a message of economic populism, got him the nod as the Republican candidate.

Once he began campaigning for the presidency, and even after he won the election, the man never took his foot off the gas; What follows in no particular order, is a list of all the promises that he made and actions taken, every one of which was designed to feed the Obama-hating crowd.

Obama supported a woman’s right to choose:  Capture the evangelical vote by promising to repeal Roe v. Wade (1).

Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment:  Repeal and replace the ACA. on “day-1. It will be “easy”.

Obama supported the Paris Climate Change Accord:  Get the US out of it. “I was elected to be president of Pittsburgh, not Paris”.

Obama Justice Department ‘s prosecution of AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio:  Pardon this man who imposed cruel and unusual punishment (2) on the people in his custody, and who was found guilty of extensive, illegal racial profiling. “Sheriff Joe is a great American…a patriot”.

Rescind all of Obama’s Executive Orders protecting the environment:   Who needs clean air and water when all those government-imposed rules stifle innovation and job creation?

End Obama’s protection of children brought here illegally by their parents:  The so-called “Dreamers” need to be sent back from whence they came; so Trump said in a video-interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd.

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Not only did this strategy get Trump nominated, it played a significant role in his getting elected. He now moves into re-election mode, a topic to be covered next.

In search of a second term

What worked in 2016 is still being used as this blog is being typed. The pardoning of Arpaio, a White Supremacist if there ever was one, certainly fits here. In the same vein, there was 45’s flip-flopping/wandering eventual condemnation of the Neo-Nazis, White  Supremacists, and Al-Righters who demonstrated in Charlottesville. Trump just didn’t dare come forth with a prompt and full-throated calling out of these groups.

Even though the repeal and replacement of Obamacare failed in the Senate, Trump is keeping that Obama program in his sights by badgering the Senate to take another shot at getting rid of it.

As for the aforementioned “Dreamers” the view now is that they will be granted a 6-month reprieve from deportation, a sign that 45 has flinched from his original commitment to send them off. How they will be dealt with between now when the half-year is over is apparently going to be left to Congress. By proceeding in that way, Trump can blame that body if it fails to follow through for him. In turn, that would allow him to save face with his racist base. (3)

End notes

At base, Trump’s re-election strategy is predicated on holding onto the Electoral College votes in the south and rural White American. The people in those states make up the corpus of the 35% that give 45 positive approval ratings. Then, win by just enough in PA, OH and WI to collect their College votes and retain the presidency even if by a slim margin, just as he did almost a year ago.

It would be a mistake to sell this game plan short and to get fixated on the man’s low approval numbers along with the hope that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will present Congress with a report that would lead to Trump’s impeachment. That kind of pie-in-the sky, passive, fanciful thinking, will almost insure his re-election.

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  1. Evangelicals went, overwhelmingly for Trump because of his anti-abortion stance. How else would one explain how deeply religious people could, as a body, accept, an adulterous, serial liar.
  2. There are civil rights lawyers who have opined that Arpaio could have justifiably been changed with violations of the Constitution’s 8th Amendment.
  3. It is reasonable to assume that when Trump issued his “out with them” comments viz a viz the Dreamers, he could not have anticipated the backlash that is now taking place. Prominent members of the business community and of his own party in Congress have told him to back off and find a better way forward.

 

 

 

Compelling logic

Last week, during his MSNBC show “Hardball”, host Chris Matthews come forward with this which, here, is paraphrased:  Trump and those caught in the web of the investigation by Special Prosecutor (SP) Robert Mueller are well aware of what they have said and done; whether they broke the law, fudged on it, or danced right up to the edge of unethical behavior. Now, given that awareness, if they are convinced that they did nothing wrong, there is absolutely no reason for them to act as guilty parties, and that is especially true of 45. If they all know what they have said and done, and are satisfied that it all falls within acceptable limits, get out of the way and let all investigations proceed through to exoneration. 

Now we know that all of them have hired lawyers, though that hardly constitutes even an implied admission of guilt. But, after an initial flurry of denials and/or obfuscations by the likes of Donald, Jr., they have retreated into silence; most likely on the advice of counsel. But not Trump the elder who continues to lash out, in particular at various news outlets who, he claims are purveyors of “fake news” if any of their articles advance the Russia/Trump connection narrative. This is not the behavior of someone who believes in his own innocence and wants the investigations to run their course.

What makes matters even harder for 45 is his wondering “How much of what I know about my own history does Mueller also know?” The reality, right now, is that Mueller, like the true professional that he is, has held his findings close, revealing almost nothing to the press and public. You can certainly get a general sense of his strategy:  He is going after the most vulnerable of 45’s associates (think Manafort and Flynn), building cases that he can then use to leverage them into testifying against higher-ups, even as he also builds cases against the higher-ups.

It is also telling that the SP has relieved of duty, the one member of his team who was devoted to searching out acts of counter-espionage. That has been taken to mean that the remaining 15 team members are all committed to the sole pursuit of cases involving money! This could include fraud, illegal wire transfers, bribery and money laundering. With that in mind, keep a sharp eye out for exposes’ that deal with financial transitions involving 45, his organization and/or associates just outside that orbit.

One such person has been identified as Felix Sater, a convicted felon with a long history of being connected with Trump through various business dealings. We are now learning that starting in 2006, this man, with strong Russian ties, was actively working to promote the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow with huge sums of money involved. You can be sure that the news media and Mr. Mueller will pull on the “thread” provided by this latest revelation to see where, how far, and to whom it will lead.

So, stay tuned in to the news and watch for key words like “Sater”, and “Trump Tower Moscow”. This story has “legs” as journalists like to say, and isn’t going away any time soon.

 

So many choices

Political news during the past week has offered up so many “nuggets”, each one of which is worthy of attention. So, let’s get at it.

Ban on transgender military

The latest is that we will stop trying to recruit them and will not cover the cost of sexual reassignment surgery. What remains unclear is the status of the transgenders who are already serving. Secretary of Defense Mattis has been given the discretion to make that call and is expected to deliver same within the next six months as he studies the matter.

Trump pardons Arpaio

Twenty-four years ago, Joe Arpaio was elected Sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. He began as a decent law enforcement officer and then, steadily with each re-election, devolved into an over-zealous enforcer of immigration laws by means of racial profiling. That pattern of behavior got so bad that the man was taken to task by the courts and basically, ordered to “cut it out”. Rather than take that as needed guidance, Arpaio simply doubled-down on his MO. As a result, he got cited for criminal contempt and was set to be sentences for same when 45  gave him a “get out of jail card”.

Conservatives argue that the sheriff was the target of a “witch hunt” for simply doing his job. Make no mistake; this is “spin”; a way of mitigating the fact that Arpaio broke the law, even as he had taken an oath to uphold it. That Trump signaled to the audience in a  campaign-style rally that he was ready to issue a pardon reeks of political pandering, not a move to insuring that justice would be served.

Mutiny

Where and involving whom? The answers are “In Washington, DC” and “Some members of Congress as well as Trump”. As regards the latter, some very notable Republican senators (e.g. McConnell, Flake, Corker and Graham) have all openly criticized 45 and not on his policies, but rather on such personal traits as competence, stability, an understanding of how our government works and the character of our country. It is hard to find in the history of the relationship between a sitting president and Senate members of his own party, this kind of mutinous invective.

Trump has returned fire by bashing Senate Republicans for failing to repeal and replace Obamacare. He takes no responsibility for repeatedly telling everyone that it would be “easy”, only to flip-flop later and declare that no one knew it would be “so complicated”, then reversing course and describing a House version of repeal/replace as “beautiful” only to subsequently refer to it as “mean”. This has led to the conclusion that the man’s memory bank is a collection of twisted, frayed wires that are repeatedly given to short-circuiting. He just can’t bother to remember what he said two minutes ago.

The wall

As a campaigner, it was simple for candidate Trump to echo the repeal/replace promise that congressional Republicans had been making for seven straight years. But, it was Trump alone who promised to build “a great wall” along our southern border. And who will pay for the wall Trump asked his followers? “Mexico” they boomed like an amen chorus. He and he alone “owns” that pledge.  That is why, now in office, 45 is demanding that US taxpayers’ dollars be appropriated for the structure, and has threatened to shut down the government if he is not accommodated. Both Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Ryan have sprinkled cold water on such a threat. But, that is just the sort of response that would goad Trump into making good on it. Of all the “wins” that he wants and needs, this is the biggest and that is why his threat cannot be dismissed out of hand as just so much loose rhetoric.

From the immediate foregoing, do not be surprised if spineless congressional Republicans pony up a billion or two as a down payment on the wall’s construction; anything to placate Trump in the short-term and give his cover to promise that more will be forthcoming at some future date, even as he asserts that he will use his great negotiating skills (sic) to extract money from Mexico. All this will  be done to bolster GOP chances of holding onto House and Senate seats in the 2018 election. This is not about country; it is all about party.

 

Update and trial balloon

If you’ve wonder why your e-mail box hasn’t contained any of my blogs for the past month, here’s why:  I have been on an 18-day vacation, but there has also been some sort of snafu that has caused blogs I have posted not to be distributed.

What I am attempting here is a bit of problem-solving:  Trying to get new blogs disseminated. So, if this ditty shows up in your e-mail box, get back to me with an “I got it” or some such so that I’ll know my solution has worked.

In the meantime, you can access my last two blogs by going to my Facebook page and looking for “A sorting in search of moral clarity” and “Wow!! What a Corker”.

Thanks

Blog extra: A “What’s next” update

The last blog posted at this site (“What’s next”; July 22, 2017) offered the prediction that Trump would “gin up some rationale” for returning to Russia, two of their compounds that President Obama had seized in retaliation for meddling in our 2016 election. Thankfully, it can now be reported that this simply isn’t going to happen!

Congress is poised to pass a new set of sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. Included in this act is the provision that 45 must come back to the legislature and seek permission for the removal of these new as well as old sanctions that have been placed upon the same three countries.

The bill passed out of the Senate by a veto-proof vote of 97 – 2. The House leadership has promised that it will pass that chamber with a strong, bipartisan vote. It is only a matter of time before that happens.

What this new legislation signals quite loudly is that the Congress just doesn’t trust 45  especially with respect to his dealings with Putin and Russia.

What’s next?

Prologue

“What’s next?” That question will be answered, at least in speculative terms, at the end of this blog. But first, it is important to examine in some detail the series of events that lead to the begging of this query. Note that no attempt has been made to put these events in chronological order. What is crucial is the recognition that all of them have taken place since Trump became the GOP’s nominee for president.

Retreat, accommodation and weakness

In June 2016, just before the Republican national convention, Paul Manafort took over as head of Trump’s campaign. At the time, little attention was being paid to the new honcho’s questionable history of work in the Ukraine for the corrupt then-pro-Russian government that was in place.

Trump accepts the nomination but only thereafter do we learn that the GOP’s election platform had been stripped of a commitment to arm the pro-Western/anti-Communist forces in the Ukraine. This must be seen as a consequential pro-Russia shift since it had troops fighting in eastern Ukraine against the new, democratically elected government of its neighboring country. Where did this retreat come from; a Manafort-Trump connection?

Trump now proceeds to campaign for election. In the process, he repeatedly heaps lavish, fawning praise on Russian president Vladimir Putin. The former’s history of murder, and tyranny against his own people seem lost on the nominee.

Trump’s election on November 9, 2016 is followed about two months’ later on January 6, 2017, by a report from our Intel community detailing how Russia, with a heavy controlling hand by Putin, meddled in our election with the intent of helping Trump win office. How does the new president react to this information and how does he move forward viz a viz Russia and Putin?

Our first inkling comes when we learn that in an Oval Office meeting with Russian diplomats Lavrov and Kislyak, 45 impulsively blurts out an Israeli state secret. This is followed up by his travel to Germany for the G-20 conference where he goes one-on-one with Putin.

In a two-hour talk with the Russian ruler, 45 refuses to aggressively confront his counterpart with the Intel community’s findings. Rather than taking an “How dare you” stance, Trump meekly asks “Did you do it?” Not only did this signal weakness; it implicitly reflected Trump’s still ongoing unwillingness to accept what our intelligence people had discovered. In turn, that fed a counter-narrative making the rounds among 45’s most rabid supporters that agencies of our government cannot be trusted.

Before the G-20 meeting ended, Trump held at least one other intimate conversation with Putin. Estimates are that this confab lasted for about an hour. 45 claims less. Initially, he writes off this tete-a-tete as about nothing but “pleasantries” only to end by saying that it was about “adoptions “. Innocent as this may sound, it needs to be understood that Putin ended American citizens’ adoption of Russian orphans as payback for our imposing on his country, sanctions within the context of the Magnitsky Act; named after a Russian anti-Putin agitator who was beaten to death. Therefore, any talk about “adoptions” is tantamount to discussing the aforementioned legislation and sanctions.

Back home, Trump’s acquiescence to Putin raises its’ head again. This time, it comes in the form of 45’s announcement that he is ending US support for the pro-Western/anti-Assad forces in Syria. This news must have caused glasses to be raised in the Kremlin since Russia has been propping up Assad for years. Trump has now made it easier for Putin to keep the Syrian dictator afloat.

End notes

Before leaving office, President Obama seized two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland as part of a broader regimen of sanctions against Russia for its interference in our election. Given the uninterrupted pattern of retreat, accommodation and weakness exhibited by Trump for what is now a full year, the prediction here is that Trump will gin up some rationale for giving those properties back to Putin. 

If that “hand-back” takes place, it will only serve to reinforce the growing belief that 45 is colluding with Russia/Putin, either as a willing partner or an unwitting one. There is also the possibility that Trump is being blackmailed into behaving as he has. We have to hope that Special Prosecutor Mueller will unravel all this for us in a way that is so credible that our nation comes together and accepts his findings.      

 

 

 

 

Some more of “This and That”

Prologue

What follows are two informative stories that have been overshadowed by all the sensationalized news related in one way or another to the Russia -> Trump emerging scandal.

He did “nothing” !

Once Russia’s meddling in our election surfaced, it was followed in short order by the suspicion that Trump had been colluding with our foreign adversary in the interest of getting himself elected. Conservatives were quick to spin this line of thinking into an “It’s Obama’s fault” narrative. Specifically, since Obama, who was president at the time, failed to take action against the Russian interference, he was the “colluder”, not Trump. This counter-story was advanced with the trope “He (Obama) did nothing”. Trump picked this up and is still using it.

To say that Obama did “nothing” is to make a categorical statement that leaves no room for contradictory facts or even a discussion of why the former president acted as he did. But, as a matter of record, here is what Obama did do. He:  (1) imposed tougher sanctions against Russia, over and above the ones previously levied because of Russian annexation of Crimea; (2) expelled 35 Russian “diplomats” from the US; and (3) confiscated two Russian compounds on Maryland’s eastern shore.

To claim that Obama did “nothing” simply does not stand up in the face of the just-cited evidence. One could make the argument that he didn’t act soon enough and/or didn’t do enough, all the way to going public with the intelligence that the Russians were working to get Trump elected. To raise these sorts of objections allows for a discussion of why the former president acted in the limited way that he did.

At the outset of any such presentation it must be remembered that Trump had already voiced his claim that the coming election was “rigged”. Had Obama gone public with the Intel  community’s assessment that the Russians were out to help Trump, that news, no matter how factual, would have played right into the charge that candidate Trump was advancing. It is no stretch to imagine that Obama feared that by going public he would have been accused of putting his “thumb” on the electoral scale in HRC’s favor. Trusting that she would win the election, he chose to remain silent about the Russian meddling, taking only the limited steps cited above. It was a calculated risk that obviously, did not pay off., but he had no good choices. That the Russians did interfere is now beyond question. We will likely never know if their conniving affected even one vote.

Time-lines matter

Earlier today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show, Doris Kearns Godwin, a noted US historian, spoke of how time-lines matter; how real events in close proximity of one another raise legitimate questions about cause and effect, even legality.  It is then left up to investigative journalists and/or law enforcement to discover if any such linkage does exist. With that context in mind, review the time-line that follows.

On June 3, 2016, Trump, Jr. gets an e-mail from a man named Goldstone who has Russian connections. Would fils Trump be interested in a meeting during which he would be provided with “highly sensitive” information describing nefarious interactions between HRC and Russia, this coming his way owing to Russia’s interest in seeing pater Trump elected president? Jr. responds “I would love it”. A convening was arranged and did in fact take place in Jr’s. 25th floor office in Trump Tower.

On June 7, 2016, candidate Trump secures the GOP presidential nomination. In a speech that same day, he teases his audience with the promise of a “major” speech which will detail some “very interesting” information on HRC’s behavior. This expose’ would be forthcoming within the next few days he intoned.

Look at the contents of the preceding two paragraphs:  Is it implausible to speculate that Jr. told his father about the coming information damaging to HRC, and that it would be available once the scheduled meeting took place? If “no”, why would nominee Trump make such a pledge to his supporters? Was he just “riffing” as he is wont to do? Or, was there a basis grounded in previous events that led him to speak as he did?

What we are faced with here is the critical distinction between coincidence and actual cause and effect. The time-line just cited has already caught the attention of ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and it could not have gone unnoticed by Special Prosecutor Mueller. Sooner or later, Trump, Jr. is going to be forced to testify under oath to all three.

Stay tuned; this is going to get even more riveting.

The less obvious motive

Prologue

Why did Donald Trump, Jr. (hereafter referred to as simply Jr.) take that highly questionable meeting with a representative of the Russian government? The obvious answer is to collect some “dirt” on HRC that he could pass on to his dad for use in both the ongoing primary campaign and eventually, the general election, assuming Trump the elder won the GOP nomination. Within that context, such a motive is easily discerned.

However, if there is one thing you can bank on, it is that human behavior is rarely driven by a single force or stimulus. So, we turn next to some Trump family history to see if we can find therein, what else might have given impetus to Jr.’s Russian “hook-up” in June 2016 that has become a bombshell revelation.

Family feud (1)

In 1989, Trump, Sr., then married to Ivana, began a thinly disguised extra-marital affair with a beauty contest winner named Marla Maples. This was no one-nighter and soon became the titillating stuff of tabloid news. As best that can be gathered, Jr. was age 10 years at the time the liaison started. By 1991 when his mother finally filed for divorce he was 12.

Jr. did not take this well at all. Embittered by his father’s selfishness and callous treatment of mother Ivana, Jr. stopped talking to his dad. This estrangement lasted for about a year. This was followed by a years-long period of father and son coming back together though, at the time, there was no way of knowing if bitterness on the part of either party lingered on.

Jr. entered college, matriculating at the University of Pennsylvania. During his time there, he gained the reputation as a roaring drunk, collecting the sobriquet of “diaper Don” due to the frequency with which he passed out on someone else’s bed and soon lost control of his bladder.

At one point, father and son made a date to attend a Yankees’ baseball game together. Eager to get a glimpse of the real estate mogul, Jr.’s roommate and several cohorts clustered near the door of Jr. room. They were in plain view when the elder arrived, to be greeted by his son wearing a Yankee jersey. What then transpired was posted on Facebook by the roommate, Scott Melker (2):  Seeing Jr. so casually attired, Trump slapped him across the face so hard that he knocked his progeny to the floor, then issued the directive “Get into a suit and meet me downstairs”, and walked off (3).

So?

It would hardly be surprising to find that this sort of dysfunction has played out in any number of families. So, we ought not to chalk up elder’s decking of jr. as unusual. But, the point here is that we are looking for a second and more obscure motive for Jr.’s behavior viz-a-viz the Russians (see above). The speculation now offered  is that it had a lot to do with getting back in daddy’s good graces and elevating himself in the hierarchy of siblings. In that regard, it is interesting that in Trump Tower, the offices of the elder and daughter Ivanka are both on the 26th floor whereas Jr. has occupancy of an office on the 25th.

End note

Given all of the dark clouds that hang over the Trump presidency, the foregoing history easily qualifies as inconsequential. But, it does tell us something about how the Trump family operates, and in particular about the decided lack of impulse control exhibited by 45; something we have witnessed over and over again with his tweets.

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  1. Some of this history has been reported in various print media. Other parts were fleshed out by author Tim O’Brien in his book TrumpNation:  The Art of Being Donald Trump. Published in 2005 by Warner Books.
  2. Anyone interested in reading Melker’s account can access it by Googling “Facebook Trump Jr. Melker.”
  3.  It is well within the elder’s character to hold a grudge and to allow it to impel his behavior, even years later.