Mueller The Magnificence

Step right up. Ladies and gentlemen. We’ve reserved you a seat. We know you’re going to enjoy the show. Not quite the greatest show on earth but it could be. Greatness really does depend on what happens next. Guaranteed to bring the house down. Well, at least one house that I can think of.

How often can you say you, me and everyone alive in the year 2017, got  to play an important role in  the making of history? And you have. We have. Simply by being alive and an eyewitness. To what? You might ask? A cataclysm? A force of nature? A biblical event.? Here’s a hint. Not quite Sodom and Gomorrah  but you’re getting the idea. Certainly the creation of a major piece of American political history. Trust me they’ll be talking about, what we are now witnessing ,100 years from now.

Breaking news. Former National Security advisor to President Donald Trump, Mike Flynn, pleads guilty to lying to the FBI. Who would /could think that such a short sentence has such significance?  Of course like most matters of major significance the importance lies in what is NOT said. And what isn’t said in the indictment is the real story here. Was there Russian collusion in the election that resulted in Donald Trump becoming President? And did Donald Trump and key members of his campaign team aid and abet that collusion?

To truly understand what is going on with these latest developments you have to follow the bouncing ball.

If you read the Flynn indictment, the silent assassin in this drama, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller charged Mike Flynn with the very least serious of a clutch of potentially serious offences. Similarly the lie Flynn told, is the smallest of lies he could have told in the big picture of this investigation.

Of course Flynn could still go to prison for what he did. But if he does, it won/t be for very long or he may avoid jail time all together. So. What’s going on?

There are two questions here: how has Flynn managed to get such an easy time from the Special Prosecutor ? And why? Why wouldn’t Mueller throw the book at him?

Flynn is a sitting duck for way more serious charges. Try these two for size just as an example. Acting as a foreign agent for Turkey without a license and being a key player in the plot to kidnap a Turkish Opposition politician ,who is living in exile in the United States, for the purpose of returning him to Turkey.

The reason for Mueller’s generosity,  is both intriguing and compelling. But in order to understand it you have to engage in some reasoned speculation. But it’s speculation based on pretty solid ground.

Flynn did a plea deal with the special prosecutor. And not just any old plea deal. For an explanation and understanding of the legal twists and turns of this, I’ve relied heavily on the opinions of Harvard Law teacher, Seth Abramson, who is also a former experienced public defender.

The way Abramson tells it, for Mueller to be so generous, Flynn had to give him everything. And I do mean everything.  Flynn, don’t forget, enjoyed a unique status and relationship with the Trumps so you could say with certainty he has plenty to give. Mueller would only be interested in a deal if Flynn could help with information about players further up the food chain. In Flynn’s case, that can only be the President and Vice President of the United States. Now you are beginning to see where this is all going. 

If you really want to appreciate how important Flynn is to this investigation, cast your mind back a few months ago when Donald Trump allegedly asked the then head of the FBI ,James Comey, to drop the investigation into Flynn’s Russian links. When Comey refused, Trump fired him. That’s how important Flynn is. The fact that Mueller managed to turn him into a co operative witness, is massive and catastrophic news for the White House. Not one word has been uttered by Trump or the WH about Flynn’s plea. What can they say?

So, what could Flynn have told Mueller? No one knows except Robert Mueller and his team of investigators.  What we do know, is that Flynn had extensive contact with the Russians. He, for example, could tell Mueller that Trump not only knew about those contacts and exchanges of information but he (Flynn) was acting on the express orders of Donald Trump. Flynn’s last contact with the President occurred in April of 2017 where Trump told him to ‘stay strong’. But prior to that ,the two men had more than a year and a half of contact which represents the bulk of Trump’s political career. Flynn had access to, and influence over ,Trump on national security issues for that entire time. What he can tell Mueller, could be hugely significant and that is an understatement.

Flynn worked closely with the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. And Kushner could well be the next shoe to drop to use the words of Republican Senator, John McCain.

Kushner, like Flynn, is a person of great interest to the Mueller investigation. This is not speculation. It is fact. It has been revealed that Kushner directly ordered Flynn to engage with the Russians during the dying days of the Obama Presidency.

And Mueller’s dealings with Kushner, is yet another example of how well Mueller plays his poker hand. Mueller clearly knows he has no chance of turning Jared Kushner in the same way he turned Mike Flynn As the husband of Trump’s high profile daughter Ivanka, Kushner will never rat on his in laws. So what does Mueller do? The next best thing. He lays a trap for Kushner. He contacts Kushner’s lawyer and tells him he wants to meet with his client. Kushner agrees and two weeks ago Mueller and Kushner  had that meeting.

Consider this: What if Mueller went into that meeting, armed with everything Flynn could have told him about Flynn’s dealings with Kushner especially when it came to the Putin Government? That would place Mueller in the box seat to know if Kushner lied to him at the meeting. We don’t know what was said between the two men so we have no way of knowing if Kushner fell for the trap and tried to lie his way out of trouble. I will leave open to speculation on which option Kushner took. Truth? Or lie? If he lied he committed a crime and he will surely go to prison.

But the question almost certainly terrifying the White House ,right at this moment, is how many  more individuals might be implicated by Mike Flynn in what he told Robert Mueller?

In a statement Flynn said his guilty plea ” and agreement to co operate with the Special Counsel’s office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and our country.”

Watergate was a huge political story that resulted in the resignation of a President. But this is much, much bigger than Watergate. It involves a lot more people. Unlike Watergate, this President will never voluntarily resign under any circumstances which means the only way of getting rid of him is to impeach him. And because Trump won’t go willingly he will literally tear the Republican Party apart.

Interestingly, in the last 24 hours, Former FBI head James Comes wrote two intriguing tweets.

The first was a passage from the scriptures: “ But justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”

The second is a quote from Winston Churchill: “ The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is.”


You Got An Armchair View Of History Being Made

I love the English language. I especially love the way it uses metaphors to describe important stuff. Over the past day I’ve been trying to think of a metaphor for US special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

The Quiet Achiever, the Silent Assassin. Whatever it is, the word ‘silent’, has to be part of the narrative. Mueller likes to do everything very, very quietly and in the background.

For months, he’s beavered away without so much as a peep. Not one leak of any kind which is extraordinary in itself. But his silence is the silence of the lambs.

And after months of silence Mueller finally spoke. Or should I say he let the justice system do the talking. Explosive, incendiary, ballistic. Call it what you will. Most importantly, the White House never saw it coming. We now know what Robert Mueller was doing for the past four months, gathering evidence against three former Trump advisors, enough evidence to lay criminal charges. And at least one is squealing already. The first to rollover, George Papadopoulos, one of President Trump’s former foreign policy advisors.

Apparently, and unbeknown to anyone, Papadopoulos was arrested in July of this year. And in the months following, negotiated a deal resulting in a rollover guilty plea. Cooperation in exchange for lenient treatment. He will probably still go to prison but for not as long as he might have. You can bet the farm on two certainties: Papadopoulos told Mueller everything he knew and secondly, at some point, he wore a wire to record conversations. What Papadopoulos knows or gave Mueller we can only speculate but it will be enough, at the very least, for Mueller to go further up the food chain.

Did the White House know about Papadopoulos’s arrest and subsequent guilty plea? Judging by the body language of Press Secretary Huckabee Sanders, at a post revelations press briefing, the WH had no idea until they read about it or watched it on television like everyone else.  Talk about uncomfortable. Huckabee Sanders squirmed noticeably every time the name Papadopoulos, Russia and collusion were mentioned in the same sentence. Mueller is the play maker and it’s playing perfectly so far.

In the past 24 hours, Mueller added another two formidable names to the ever-growing web of alleged criminality. Former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates. Both men very much in the Trump inner sanctum. Both men now facing very, very serious criminal charges including, in Manafort’s case, a charge of conspiring against the United States. Mueller again played it perfectly. Manafort is charged with, among other things, money laundering, failing to file a tax return on income earned. He is facing the prospect of many, many years spent in a Federal Prison if he’s found guilty. Manafort surrendered himself, pleaded not guilty and was released on US$10 million dollars bail and house arrest. Gates was granted US$5 million bail. That gives some idea of how serious this is. Now the fun will really start. Manafort and Gates will have lawyers representing them. And what do you think those lawyers are going to advise their clients? It can be summed up in one word: cooperate.

If you read the indictments, Mueller crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’. It is a simple yet compelling and watertight case against Manafort in particular. Proving guilt is not going to be a big ask.

You can expect, no make that definitely expect, Manafort, or Gates, or both, to rollover and become Mueller’s snitching bitches.

It won’t be a question of if.

The Mueller indictment is also extremely clever. It only relates to what Manafort was doing in 2006 and makes no mention of the 2016 Presidential election campaign.

Of course, to the Twitter maniac and POTUS for now, this was a signal that he’s off the hook.  NO COLLUSION he thundered in capital letters on Twitter, as if that makes it more compelling.

Donald Trump is mistaken if he thinks it’s the end of the matter. Throwing Papadopoulos, Manafort and Gates metaphorically under a bus won’t help. The WH can try and distance itself from those men but it will be futile.

This is the beginning not the end.

Robert Mueller has thrown a lasso over the White House. At this point in time it is sitting relatively loosely and only managed to damage some low hanging fruit when it was first thrown. But expect that lasso to tighten in the coming days, weeks and months. Make no mistake Mueller’s ultimate target is Donald Trump but the Special Prosecutor knows to get a Republican, dominated Congress, to impeach the President, his case must be watertight and bullet proof. A lot more dominos will fall before reaching that point.

Over the years, that famous quote from film actress Betty Davis has been misquoted many times, and it’s about to be misquoted yet again by me: Fasten your seatbelts we’re in for a bumpy ride. Trump’s in trouble and he knows it and he also knows there’s nothing he can do about it. It’s too late to stop Robert Mueller. The genie is out of the bottle and we are all going to be lucky enough to get an armchair view of a very significant moment in history.




Another Letter To America

Dear United States of America and Donald Trump,

Here I am writing to you again.

You’ll be pleased to know it’s not about guns this time. The truth is I can’t take my eyes off you and your politics. Suddenly you’re a catastrophe waiting to happen. And if the news over the last 24 hours is any guide, the catastrophe’s already happening. In slow motion, of course, but nonetheless moving inevitably towards a massive fallout and collateral damage. Your White House is in daily disarray, in case you haven’t noticed. It lurches from one crisis to another. It’s disastrous, it’s damaging, it’s chaotic. It’s also fascinating. Apologies if I seem to be basking in the warmth of someone else’s misfortune. But the chaos won’t last forever. It can’t. Something has to give.

As a spectator in the relatively safe backwater known as Australia, and a very long way away from you, I can only look on with shock and awe. I could write pages and pages and pages about your President, Donald Trump. Whoever writes his biography will have endless sources of amusement and negativity to wade through. No point in me joining the chorus. It is stating the obvious.

I do want to try and understand you. And the only way I can do that, is to liken you to a famous historic figure of tragedy. A figure, created by the master of dramatic tragedy, Mr William Shakespeare. Donald Trump you really are Shakespeare’s modern day Julius Caesar. So many parallels. You are a man who thinks rules, governance and the law don’t apply to him. So did Julius Caesar. You fly above it all in a private jet. Ok. Not Julius Caesar, but you get my point.

Like Julius Caesar, your biggest flaw is vanity. You want to bask in public adulation. Adored and admired. To be recognised as a man, way bigger than the sum of many or even any parts. You stand alone. A colossus. But like Caesar your fate is foretold. To be dispatched, to a political gulag. It won’t be at the hands of obvious enemies. No sir. Your biggest enemies are your friends, Republican friends in the Congress.

This tornado is getting ready to touch ground, gathering strength for some time. But really the catalyst for what will happen began with the reasons behind the arbitrary sacking of  FBI Director, James Comey. You couldn’t help himself. Your press lackeys give one version while you give another contradicting them. You blindside your own people. Never tell them of your plans. Why should you? You’re Donald Trump. You can say and do whatever you like. Well actually no you can’t. You’re not Donald Trump the businessman anymore nor are you Donald Trump the TV host who simply says your fired. You are Donald Trump, President of the United States and different rules apply. If you don’t believe me, look at Richard Nixon. In fact the word, Watergate is getting used a lot lately.

Why Watergate? Because you are said to be trying to do what Nixon wanted to do and couldn’t. Stop an official investigation. You see, your security advisor, General Michael Flynn was sacked after it emerged he lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Now, news has broken that former FBI Director Comey, allegedly wrote a memo, accusing you of trying to stop the investigation into Michael Flynn. If it’s true, that’s political interference of the worst kind. Using your office and power to try and thwart an independent, lawful investigation. That is intolerable. It will not be tolerated by Republican or Democrat. No one admits to seeing the memo. No one knows, for sure, it even exists. But plenty of people are now saying they desperately want to follow the paper trail. And in really bad news for you, one of those people is a Republican. And not just any old Republican. Jason Chaffetz, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. It is the one Congressional committee with the power to follow the paper trail.

“On the surface that seems like an extraordinary use of influence to try to shut down an investigation being done by the FBI,” Mr Chaffetz said.

“(We are) going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.”

The committee Mr Chaffetz heads sent a letter to the FBI requesting it to provide the memo – and any other relevant materials from Mr Comey.

Another senior Republican figure, former presidential nominee John McCain, openly compared the current situation to the Watergate scandal.

“I think we’ve seen this movie before. I think it appears at a point where it’s of Watergate size and scale,” Mr McCain said to former TV anchor Bob Schieffer at a dinner.

“The shoes continue to drop, and every couple of days there’s a new aspect,” he said. “Get it all out. It’s not going to be over until every aspect of it is thoroughly examined and the American people make a judgment. The longer you delay, the longer it is going to last.”

As you might expect, other Republicans are ducking for cover. It prompted CNNs political reporter Chris Cilliza to say: “ If you are a Republican in Congress, now is the time to panic.”

The story, about the former FBI Director’s alleged memo, was broken by the New York Times newspaper. The Times says it hasn’t seen the memo, but says one of the former FBI Director’s associates, allegedly read excerpts from it, to one of its reporters.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go, you allegedly told Mr Comey. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Now, I’m telling what you already knew. Please forgive the re telling, I know it’s boring and repetitive but I like to re tell a story because it helps me understand what’s going on.

I also know it’s hard to predict what will happen next. But in my experience these things tend to have a mind and a life of their own. I wouldn’t put money on betting you won’t be in office by Christmas.

It’s a real pity, Bill Shakespeare isn’t around. I’m sure he’d love to write about you. What am I saying? He already did. Just called you by a different name. And the setting was Rome, not Washington DC. Smart bloke that Will Shakespeare.

Anyhow, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. I remain your friend as always.

Take care and kind regards.

Welcome To World Of Donald Trump

A man walks into a bar in Kansas City. I’m not telling a joke by the way. Many of the patrons are from countries other than the United States. Their physical appearance is a dead give away. The man asks them, as if he had some God given right, what visa did they hold? Were they in the United States illegally? There is cold blooded method in his madness. He leaves and returns to the bar with a gun, killing one person, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian born engineer working for Garmin in the United States. Two other people are wounded, one seriously. The seriously wounded man, is incredibly lucky to be alive and still walking. The bullet narrowly misses his carotid artery and spinal column. This is a racially motivated hate crime. Welcome to the world of Donald Trump.

A celebrated Australian author of children’s books, Mem Fox, goes to the United States on business. She holds a valid visa and Fox is a regular traveller to the US. By regular, I mean 116 times before, without incident. But this time it’s different. This time she’s travelling directly in the wake of Donald Trump’s anti immigration rantings, his executive order on immigration. Fox is detained and questioned for two hours by US Customs officials. “I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” she would later say. “I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby. And I’m 70 years old.”

Fox tells Australian reporters the Customs officials seem turbocharged with the power granted them by Trump’s order. Fox complains. She receives an apology, but says this will be her last trip to the United States. Welcome to the world of Donald Trump.

The White House holds a press conference. The media, the fifth estate, exists to hold people like Donald Trump accountable. Now there’s a fine word with a multitude of meaning. Accountable. You see the media exists as a free and independent entity in a flourishing democracy. In fact it is one of the foundations of a true democracy. Politicians are criticised, questioned and held to account. They can be caught out lying. Now there’s another good word. Lying. But when a number of media organisations, like CNN, the BBC and the New York Times, try entering the briefing room, they are barred. Barred from entering? Are you serious? In stark contrast the ‘friendly’ to Donald Trump news services like Fox, One America News Networks and the hideous Breitbart news have no problem attending the White House briefing. In fact they are welcomed with open arms. Trump calls the media, purveyors of fake news. They tell lies according to Trump. It’s a bit like that story of the pot, the kettle and the colour black. If Donald Trump really wants to see mendacity he should look in the mirror more often. Terrorist attack in Sweden anyone? Is this Stalinist Russia? Not it’s the good old USA, the greatest democracy in the world. Yeah right. Welcome to the world of Donald Trump.

This media ban is unprecedented. It is a disgrace. Nothing like it in the history of American democratic politics. By democratic, I mean democracy. Not the party. These are the actions of a dictator. A man who thinks he’s above the law and now that he’s President, can do whatever he likes, whenever he likes, to who ever he likes. Welcome to the world of Donald Trump.

The son of the late, Mohammed Ali, the greatest American heavyweight world boxing champion of all time, is detained at a Florida airport and questioned about being a Muslim. I guess the name is a dead giveaway. The same name as Dad. But who cares in Trump America. He sounds like a muslim. And all Muslims are dangerous. Right? Welcome to the world of Donald Trump.

Ali junior and his mother, Mohammed Ali’ s second wife, are returning to the United States from a vacation in Jamaica. Ali junior’s lawyer, tells a Louisville, Kentucky newspaper, his client was detained and questioned for two hours by Immigration officials, who repeatedly asked him: Where did you get your name from? Are you Muslim?

Clearly they were not boxing fans. For the record, Ali junior, was born in Philadelphia and holds a US passport. Welcome to the world of Donald Trump.

Trump’s besieged. He’s taking a beating in the polls. Loved, loathed and despised equally by many including members of his own Government, who keep feeding the media with damaging leaks designed to embarrass and humiliate. So what does he do? Trump takes his message to the American people. Mass rallies of supporters. Hang on. Didn’t we just have a Presidential election campaign? Trump tells them the mainstream media are liars and the economy is going great. And guess what? He says I’m going to keep having rallies, keep talking to the people because I can’t trust anyone. Only a fool would believe him. This man is a bombast. A wrecker and a hater. He can’t be trusted and will trash alliances, relationships and all the goodwill the United States spent decades cultivating. Welcome to the world of darkness. Welcome to the world of Donald Trump.