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.
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.
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.