Some time ago I predicted a major component of the Russiagate story would break on Friday August 31st. The timing just seemed right. Friday we got a surprise and I think it is just the tip of a somewhat new iceberg. On an ancillary track of the Russiagate story next week promises to be interesting. Let’s explore both.
Friday, in the same DC courtroom of Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Paul Manafort will be tried in later this month Sam Patten pled guilty to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist on Friday. In itself that is not a big deal. It is the ancillary story that is the big deal!
Patten is a longtime Republican operative with ties to Manafort, Cambridge Analytica, pro-Russian Ukrainian figures and at least one Russian Oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin. (All Russian oligarchs have ties to Putin. Separating the Russian mob, Russian big business and Putin are impossible; that is their current economic system.)
As part of the plea deal Patten admitted facilitating a $50,000 “straw man” donation to the Trump Inaugural Fund. To put it in round numbers, the 2017 Trump Inaugural Fund raised a little more than $100 million. By comparison the 2009 Obama Inaugural Fund raised $50 million. Despite the infamous Trump ordered lies of Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway Obama’s inauguration was significantly larger. Again in round numbers, it appears a slush fund (or outright theft) of about $50 million exists from the Trump event. $50,000 is only one-tenth of one percent of the $50 million in mystery money, but it is a first step on the trail of discovery.
Serious reason to question the illegal involvement of foreign money in the 2017 Trump Inaugural Fund has existed. This plea (which is an admission of a crime) is the first hard evidence of it. One-tenth of one percent qualified as the tip of an iceberg. To continue my iceberg metaphor, I can’t intelligently comment on what I cannot see but, like the iceberg below the surface, I have good reason to believe it exists.
Trump and his enablers are banking on getting Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court as a way of keeping Trump in office. Kavanagh’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee will commence on Tuesday and are scheduled to run through Thursday. That is despite the fact that the Republicans have refused to release enormous amounts of Judge Kavanagh’s records. While I think there is a slim chance he will not be confirmed I predict he will pass out of Committee along Party Lines. I predict the Democrats will all vote against him and the Republicans all in favor of advancing his nomination to the full Senate.
The Republicans on the Committee are: Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana. Despite occasional rhetoric from several of them when it comes down to action they all back Trump. The only possible defector is Flake who is a lame duck, but I see no evidence of it.
The two junior members on the Democratic side, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, are the most worth watching and have the most to gain. At this point they are leading candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. If somehow either could torpedo Kavanaugh it would give them a huge leg up!
As if next Tuesday through Thursday doesn’t promise to provide enough political excitement, on Friday George Papadopoulos is scheduled to be sentenced. Who said four day work weeks were boring?
“May you live in interesting times,” is purported to be the English translation of an ancient Chinese curse. I will leave it to people more knowledgeable than me as to the accuracy of that statement. Of this much I am certain, we live in interesting times.
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