Archive for Sunday, December 10, 2017

Opinion: Russia investigation not going away

December 10, 2017

Editor’s note: This is a substitute column for Leonard Pitts, who is on vacation through the first week of January.


It didn’t take long. Robert Mueller had only been on the job for five months when, on Oct. 30, he handed down the first indictments in his investigation of the Trump campaign: against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Plus, news that former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Imagine, then, the surprise awaiting White House reporters the next day when Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave the official response: No big deal. “We still expect this to conclude soon. Those are the indications that we have at this time.” Her comments were echoed by Chief of Staff John Kelly, who told Fox News that Mueller’s investigation “should wrap up soon.”

Who do they think they’re kidding? The indictment of Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI while he was national security adviser in the White House is the latest proof that Mueller’s not wrapping up anytime soon. Just this week, he also interrogated Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. More indictments and more serious charges are expected in the next couple of weeks, getting closer and closer to Trump himself.

There’s a lot of speculation about what Mueller’s up to, but let’s stick to what we know and what’s been publicly reported.

Even though Donald Trump on 20 different occasions denied there was any contact between himself or anybody on his campaign team and Russian officials, we know there were meetings with at least nine Trumpers: Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, J.D. Gordon, George Papadopoulos and Michael Cohen. In addition, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and a self-described unofficial envoy for Trump, met with a Russian close to Putin to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and the president-elect.

Trump has also denied any personal contacts with Moscow: “I mean I have nothing to do with Russia.” We know that’s another lie. Politico reports that then-Soviet Union efforts to cultivate Trump started with a Kremlin-paid trip to Moscow in 1987, which Trump crowed about in his book “The Art of the Deal”: “One thing led to another, and now I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel, across the street from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government.”

Trump’s subsequent Russian real estate deals are documented in the now-famous “dossier” prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, whom Mueller has also interviewed. They include development of the SoHo Trump Tower with Russian-American businessman Felix Sater; sale of his Florida mansion, for which he paid $41 million, to Russian magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million; many multimillion-dollar sales of Trump condos to Russian oligarchs; and the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, financed with $20 million from Russian developer Aras Agalarov, whose son Emin set up the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Kremlin representatives.

And that doesn’t count how much money Trump may have borrowed from, and still owes, Russian banks. Strapped for cash after the 2008 crash, Trump knew where to turn. As Donald Trump Jr. admitted at the time, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Of course, we don’t know the full extent of Trump’s Russian business deals because we haven’t seen his tax returns — but you can bet Robert Mueller has.

One more significant Russian connection: As first reported by Slate, computer scientists discovered that, throughout the 2016 campaign, there was a private server at Trump Tower linked almost exclusively to two entities: Michigan’s Spectrum Health, owned by the DeVos family; and Alfa Bank in Moscow, which sent 87 percent of all pings.

True, those multiple Russian contacts don’t necessarily add up to collusion — that’s for Mueller to determine — but they’re still a far cry from Trump’s assertion of zero contact. Together, they represent an entire spectrum of shady business deals, possible money laundering, sharing of information and a willingness to cooperate with Kremlin operatives at the very time they were trying to undermine the 2016 presidential election. And that doesn’t count evidence Mueller’s also exploring that Donald Trump, with Mike Pence’s knowledge and cooperation, may have conspired to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director James Comey.

Robert Mueller running out of gas? No way. He’s just getting into high gear. If anything crashes and burns soon, it won’t be the special counsel’s investigation; it’ll be the entire Trump administration. Based on what we know Mueller has on his plate, it looks less and less likely that Donald Trump will complete his first term.

— Bill Press is host of a nationally syndicated radio show, CNN political analyst and the author of a new book, “Buyer’s Remorse.”


Bob Summers 4 months, 1 week ago

Congenital Liberals and their fantasies are amazing.

FRIDAY WAS ONE of the most embarrassing days for the U.S. media in quite a long time. The humiliation orgy was kicked off by CNN, with MSNBC and CBS close behind, with countless pundits, commentators and operatives joining the party throughout the day. By the end of the day, it was clear that several of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets had spread an explosive but completely false news story to millions of people, while refusing to provide any explanation of how it happened.

"explanation of how it happened"?

Seriously? The Liberal cannot tell the truth. It is not in their genetic behavior to behave with honesty. Look what they did to the ladies that Bill Clinton had affairs with.

P Allen Macfarlane 4 months, 1 week ago

And of course Trump always tells the truth. Right.

Bob Smith 4 months, 1 week ago

Mueller and the other denizens of the swamp decided that Trump was guilty of something before the investigation started. These are the same people who decided that Hillary was innocent before her investigation started. The fix is in.

P Allen Macfarlane 4 months, 1 week ago

It's a little like calling the pot calling the kettle black. We have our own dwellers of the swamp.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 months, 1 week ago

It is documented that Trump has done a lot of deals with Russian banks. It's fact. Now as a business person, maybe that's okay. But I don't want our president or any lawmaker for that matter owing a foreign country money.

Gary Stussie 4 months, 1 week ago

Dorothy ... big difference between business deals as a civilian and taking cash gifts from a foreign government while a government official.

What is with LJW giving press to a CNN political analyst's speculation? CNN use to be a fairly sound news source... now they are clearly so biased they can't be trusted.

Brock Masters 4 months, 1 week ago

I used to enjoy Candy Crowley. She leaned left but was fair enough that I enjoyed her show. Now they have empty head Cumo and Tapper who are not even subtle in their relentless attacks on Trump.

Joe Blackford II 4 months, 1 week ago

Dear special counsel Robert Mueller, please don't pay any attention to the Bobbettes Babble. It's probably demoralizing when you find out your groping idol has been kissing Lenin's ring since his father gave him his first $2 million to rub together, and lose . . .

a What's Left-of-Lenin Poster dedicated to the mind of B. Smith

a What's Left-of-Lenin Poster dedicated to the mind of B. Smith by Joe Blackford II

Gary Stussie 4 months, 1 week ago

Speaking of babble! "groping idol" "kissing Lenin's ring".

I still have hopes Mueller will be thorough in the Russian Collusion investigation and that the Clinton team's involvement will be made clear. I wonder if you will be so verbally accepting of Mueller if the end result does not match your foregone conclusion.

Joe Blackford II 4 months, 1 week ago

don't have a foregone conclusion. However, I'm on record for coining the axiom:

Trump Presidency = Virtueless Reality

Have witnessed nothing to upset that axiom.

(an axiom is an unprovable rule or first principle accepted as true because it is self-evident or particularly useful)

Michael Kort 4 months, 1 week ago

Trump lies so fast that he can't keep his lies his recent Tweet that he fired Flynn because Flynn lied to Mike Pence "and the FBI"............which is a self incriminating Tweet .........which then became a so called Tweet from his own Twitter POTUS account made by one of his lawyers and not it will be Tweets by the evil spies of Rocket Man who have hacked his Twitter account and are tweeting out evil messages to make him look bad .

He lied about Obama's citizenship for five years..........and all of his mindless approvers never seem to notice his habit of lying......or care,..... because some people really like liars to be in high places in this country because they need a good liar in chief to run their interests nationally .

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 months, 1 week ago

What Republicans need to remember is that the Bill Clinton Investigation began as an investigation into Real Estate investments(Whitewater) and ended up going down the Monica Lewinsky path. If Robert Mueller starts out looking for Russian/Trump campaign collusion and never finds it BUT, finds other crimes, they are relevant, legitimate and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If Trump tries to stop this investigation, it will be "Obstruction of Justice" and from what many of us have seen, he may have already met that definition of the crime. Anything further will just be icing on the cake. He needs to stop tweeting. Every one of those tweets is considered evidence. His arrogance will be his undoing. He can't help himself. "One Sick Puppy"!

Gary Stussie 4 months, 1 week ago

Wouldn't that be great! Commissioned to ferret out "Russian/Trump campaign collusion and never finds it BUT, finds other crimes" ... Keep praying for a Constitutional Crisis .... watch your 401k go up in smoke .... market will drop by 40% if Trump is impeached!

Trump is the right man at the right time to Make America Great Again. Let him get the country on sound footing again then we probably can survive another ineffective and ineffectual leader like Obama.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 months, 1 week ago

So, you are saying that Corporate America and Wall street will crash the economy if Trump is held accountable. Is that correct? That means they are holding our financial future hostage. Are you OK with that? I most certainly am not. Bow to your master, the Almighty Dollar and all who control it. We need to Take our Country back alright. Back from the Oligarchs who bought it.

Steve King 4 months, 1 week ago

I hope that was sarcastic Gary. If not, please tell me how letting Coal companies pour their wastes into our rivers and streams makes us great again? Definately the wrong man at anytime.

Bob Smith 4 months, 1 week ago

"...Here’s the thing about Mike Morell and the Fusion GPS, CIA, FBI, DOJ crew: They never thought Donald Trump would be elected. Spouting off in the New York Times had no downside because Hillary would win. Coming out in the New York Times could only help someone like Mike Morell with his future ambitions. He wasn’t alone. James Comey played both sides against the middle. Sally Yate’s minions at Justice acted with impunity, meeting with Fusion GPS without regard to appearances or decency because they knew Hillary would win. Their behavior would win them promotions and awards. Every one of these toadies all the way to Peter Strzok at the FBI knew that Hillary would be the next president and greasing the skids would help her win more easily, and therefore, help their own career prospects. Mueller assembled this compromised team of Trump-haters. He knew who they were because they travelled in the same circles with the same world view. Every charge he manufactures/discovers will be viewed through the lens of bias and prejudice. It’s over. The Swamp charade is over. Mueller’s credibility is gone. What a disappointing embarrassment...."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.