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DAY 137 or so: Trump has still not released his tax returns. At this point, it is entirely possible, based on his latest tweets, that the president lacks the required mental capacity to consent to any such release.
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME:
So. Eric Trump holds golf tournaments for a children's cancer charity. He's been doing it for years, and successfully raising a lot of money. He assures his donors that almost every penny they donate, goes right to the children, because the golf course and most vendors have donated their time
Dad starts taking notice of how much money Eric's charity is raising. It's a lot! "Why aren't I getting any of this money?" Donald thinks. So he starts charging Eric money to hold his charity golf tournament/fundraiser at his club. A lot of money. A lot more money than experts can attribute to paying for a golf tournament. Some people would call this disgusting, or at the very least, question the president's views on charity. I mean, what kind of douchebag sees his son doing good works, and decides to make an obscene profit off of it? Pretty shitty, right?
On at least one occasion, Trump had the Trump foundation pay $100,000 Dollars to Eric's charity. Good for Eric! Free money! Charity! YAY! Now, remember, that money is not from Trump. It's money that people donated to the Trump Foundation, so that the Foundation could do good things, like donate to Eric's children with cancer charity! Good for the people! Good for the Trump foundation! But...
Then Eric's charity gives the money back to Trump, as payment or partial payment for holding the event at Trumps resort. And where does that money go? Back to the Trump Foundation? LOL! NO!
Trump had his charity donate money to another charity, so that charity could put the same money directly in Trump's pocket.
That is our president.
LET'S TALK RUSSIA!: The White House is confirming that Trump won't invoke the non-existent executive privilege to stop former FBI Director James Comey from testifying Thursday. Some are speculating that he has something else up his sleeve.
Let's take (another) moment to go over the list of things we actually know about Russia, Trump, and the Trump campaign, so we can really appreciate tomorrow's hearing.
There's the Russian attempt to influence the election (undisputed by everyone except Putin and Trump).
There's the Trump Administration's attempt to cover up something (undisputed by everyone except Putin, Trump and Uncle Ralph).
There's the collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. This one is still all smoke and only a little fire, but we're getting there.
Here's a cheat sheet for the three legs of the Trump/Russia shit show:
RUSSIA'S ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY:
1. All 17 of our intelligence communities have concluded that Russia did in fact interfere with the 2016 election, in an effort to hurt Clinton and get Trump elected.
2. Putin says this is nonsense, and that American's need to get a life. He also sang a verse of "Don't worry, be happy" (That's actually true).
3. The day after Putin issued this smackdown, a young woman named Reality Winner, was arrested for leaking confidential information. The information she leaked basically stated that Russian hackers tried to directly hack into voter registrations at various places. This is a different level of election influence. One that could have potentially prevented people from voting. There's no proof that they were successful (as far as the public now knows).
4. Russia has done the same thing to other countries. Yesterday, it was reported that Russia planted a fake news story in Qatar's official website that heaped praise on Iran and said a few other things, and that this is partially responsible for the rest of the Gulf states severing diplomatic ties with Qatar. FUN FACT: Trump bragged that it was his trip that helped the Gulf states take such decisive action, apparently forgetting that Qatar is a key U.S. ally in our fight against ISIS! Oops! Guess he really stepped in covfefe on that one.
THE COVER UP:
1. Trump's transition team knew Flynn was a security risk and subject to blackmail. Flynn was an unregistered foreign agent and apparently warned the transition team about this before he was made National Security Adviser. Trump's administration tried to cover this all up, and only fired Flynn after the press reported it. Then they didn't say anything about their past knowledge of Flynn's actions for five months, until the press reported it again.
2. Mike Pence was the head of the transition team when they hired Flynn. He received a letter from Congress expressing concern about Flynn's ties to Russia (and Turkey), before Trump and Pence took office. Pence ignored it, until the press got wind of it. He backed up Flynn's story that he had never spoken to the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Until the press reported otherwise. Then he said that "this is the first I've heard of it."
3. Mike's lie became compounded when Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General, testified under oath that she had gone to the White House on two occasions and had three telephone calls about Flynn and his being subject to blackmail, because of his lying about the sanction conversations. Trump fired her about a day later. We now know that the president already knew about Flynn's vulnerabilities. He just didn't care.
4. Jeff Sessions lied, under oath, during his confirmation as Attorney General, when he denied having any conversations with the Russian ambassador. Then we learned, from the press, that he had also lied about this on his security clearance forms. Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything having to do with the Russia investigation, because he got caught.
Jared Kushner had meetings with Kislyak and a strange russian banker. A banker from VEB bank, that was under American sanctions. We don't know what was discussed. The White House says it was diplomacy, the bank says it was business. What we do know is that the conversations happened when the country was aware of Russia's interference in our election, and that Jared failed to disclose these meetings on HIS national security clearance application.
Former FBI director testified that he was investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump fired Comey, and confirmed that he did so because of the "Russia thing."
When he fired Comey, Trump stated in writing that Comey had told him three times that Trump wasn't being investigated. Comey disputed that. Trump threatened Comey with tweets indicating that he had tapes of their conversations. Comey let it be known that he has memos that were written shortly after each of their conversations. We're going to hear a bit about this tomorrow.
Later, Trump invited Kislyak and the Russian foriegn minister into the oval office, because Putin asked him to "What am I going to say? No?" where he disclosed top secret information provided to our intelligence agencies by Israel, called Comey a "nutjob" and bragged about the pressure of the Russia investigation being over. (Boy, did he get that last one wrong).
Yesterday, it was reported that Trump asked Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, if he could get Comey to lay off the Flynn and Russia investigation. Today, the Director testified he won't discuss conversations he had with the president in the open, but he didn't deny that he had those conversations.
The pattern here is simply this. The White House has done everything it can to hide almost every contact it's people and/or Trump campaign people had with the Russians. Why? Why not just come out and say we met with them and here's what we discussed? I'll tell you way. Because it's a major COFVEVE! I mean cover up!
THE SMOKE!: Is there collusion? Uncle Ralph wants to know! Very quickly:
1. We know the Trump administration was seriously considering returning two buildings to Russia, which the Obama administration evicted them from as part of the sanctions against the country for influencing our election. We know that Trump was going to do that without getting any concessions from Russia in return.
2. We know that Trump has financial ties to Russian money, if we are to believe his son. He don't exactly what they are, because he still has not released his tax returns.
3. We know that the details of the Russian attack make it highly likely that they were getting help from Americans. They fact that they knew where to release fake news, which counties to troll in which swing states, etc. That kind of stuff. This was a highly efficient, target specific act of cyberwar and it's doubtful they could have done this on their own.
4. We have intercepted communications between Russians discussing how they thought they could use Flynn as lever to influence Trump. Is that disinformation or true? Don't know. But it's smoke.
5. There's the inexplicable decision of the Trump campaign to insist the GOP remove from it's party platform, the condemnation of Russia for invading Ukraine, and providing Ukraine lethal assistance. It's the one thing Trump's people insisted on. There is reporting that Trump himself was involved in that decision.
6. There's Trump inexplicable refusal to criticize Putin, and his inexplicable willingness to attack our NATO allies, refuse to reaffirm our commitment to the treaty, attack Angela Merkel, and the entire EU. etc.etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
Trump repeatedly throws our allies under the bus and gives Putin an all access pass to Disneyworld.
The smokey assumption is that, in exchange for Trump focusing on NATO (in a bad way), and looking the other way on all things Russia, Putin agreed to help him win an election.
OKAY! That should catch us up enough for tomorrow morning's fireworks! Oops. I forgot the part about his buddy, Roger Stone, telling us Podesta's time was coming, a week or so before Wikileaks released all his emails, the release of the emails coming whithin hours of the Access Hollywood tapes about the pussy-grabber-in-chief, Trump's repeated call on Wikileaks to keep up the good work, and a slew of other things my weak mind can't recall at the moment. (Manafort, Carter Page, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's connection to Russian money launderers, Deutsche Bank, the Palm Beach 60 Million profit real estate deal....
And I forgot about today's self promotion! CLICK AND BUY!
It's 12:30 p.m.