Saturday, June 3, 2017

Why Is Trump Suffering?

Trump is miserable. He's worried. He's angry. He's afraid.

How do we know? Because the White House staff has been whispering about Trump's "misery" to reporters and others ever since Trump got back from his 9-day trip abroad. The trip gave his approval rating a small bounce, but he has come back to the same mess about Russia. 

Only now it's worse. Much worse. Now it's also about money and prison time.

How does Trump suffer? Let me count the ways:

1. Subpoenas are falling like raindrops all over D.C. but especially on the White House and those connected with it. Subpoenas are always a scary signal that things are now getting very serious. 

2. The special prosecutor and the Senate Intelligence Committee are going after Trump's son-in-law and his Russian contacts, which include the Putin-controlled bank now off-limits under US sanctions. Looking at the son-in-law means looking at business deals with Russia, including Trump's.

2. His son-in-law may have attempted a treasonous act by proposing to communicate with the Kremlin and the sanctioned bank via  Russian equipment in the Russian embassy. He thought he'd avoid US surveillance. This smells of hiding criminal activity on behalf of the family's finances. Or of treasonous collusion of some sort?

3. James Comey has been cleared by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to testify this Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Trump's possible obstruction of justice in asking Comey to drop the FBI investigation of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the 2016 election. Further, given what Comey will likely say, Mueller may also come to view his firing by Trump as furtherance of the obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is a jailable offense though some argue that presidents are immune to criminal charges for deeds done in office but can only be impeached. 

4. Trump's private attorney going back for years has been subpoenaed to produce his records and those of his company. This is strange, to say the least, and may be a way of negating attorney-client privilege by showing the attorney was part of a Trump criminal act. What criminal act? There are so many Trump possibles to choose from! And I am only half-joking in saying that.

5. Perhaps worst of all, the Senate investigating committee and Mueller want Trump's tax filings. Reportedly this is really driving Trump up the walls. 

Is he afraid of jail for tax fraud? Afraid it will be shown he isn't really a billionaire? Afraid it will provide proof of money laundering? Of violation of the racketeering laws in dealings with the New York and Russian Mafia? Of illegal transactions, even traitorous ones, with the Iranian Republican Guard? From news stories in mainline, highly respectable media, all of these spooks are in his closet.

There is one thing to be clear about. When Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still keep his political following, he may have been right. But he still would have been arrested for committing a crime. 

What worries Trump is that, even though he has eluded public sanctions in slithering around doing wrongful business deals, he appears to have committed white collar crimes that carry severe prison time. Even more scary is that some of these crimes — such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — are virtually "strict liability" statutes. That's bad news for careless or crooked business people.

The FCPA, for example, prohibits doing business with a person or entity which has engaged in corrupt practices, e.g. bribery of foreign officials. Trump's never-to-open hotel in Azerbaijan appears to be a textbook of such crimes. Donald Trump's Worst Deal - The New Yorker  

What makes FCPA nightmarish for even non-corrupt  business people is that you can violate it without knowing that the people you are in business with are being corrupt in some other deal. You are obliged to investigate those with whom you would do business.

And that investigation has to use "due diligence". An ice-skating job won't do.

Is that why Mueller wants to look at Trump's private lawyer and his documents? In the past Trump's attorneys have claimed they did appropriate research in accord with the FCPA. But did any law enforcement agency ever check up on that? It appears not. 

When the New Yorker reporter looked into the Azerbaijanian deal, Trump's "chief legal officer" responded:"... that he didn’t oversee the due-diligence process. 'The people who did are no longer at the company,' he said. 'I can’t tell you what was done in this situation.' He would not identify the former employees. When I asked him to provide documentation of due diligence, he said that he couldn’t share it with me, because 'it’s confidential and privileged.'”

It sure sounds like it's time some law enforcement agency looked into the issue of Trump's due diligence in the Azerbaijanian dealings. Maybe Trump's current attorney wasn't around for that deal, but one has to start somewhere. 

I know what you're about to say now. That Trump's worst sorrow isn't the prospect of jail time at all. He's miserable because James Comey is still lots bigger than he is. Firing Comey didn't make him shorter. At 6'8" he still towrs over Trump. And even worse, France's new president is much better looking than Trump, is younger too, and actually made a lot of money as a businessman instead of aquiring glitz with proceeds of bankruptcy.

Poor little Trump. He's right. Everybody IS out to get him! 

He doesn't want to make America great again. He wants to make Trump great... finally, some day, some way. 

Wonder what con he can run in prison.... 

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