(Treason — The act of betraying one’s country)
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine has been reading the news and has pretty much come to the same conclusion as many of us.
That being the fact that the cool half million deposited into Michael Cohen’s LLC’s account by a firm owned by a Russian oligarch close to Putin, whether given legally or illegally, gives to Putin an ability to compromise the President. And the fear that Mueller will be able to prove just that has driven the GOP to accommodate treason.
“The New York Times has confirmed the explosive claims made by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, that Columbus Nova — a New York investment firm whose biggest client is a company controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg — deposited half a million dollars into a secret account set up by attorney Michael Cohen to pay off Trump’s sexual partners. The possible reasons for this arrangement run from brazenly corrupt to far worse. Columbus Nova said the hefty sum was a “consulting fee” paid to Cohen, hardly a benign explanation.
Columbus Nova reportedly retained Cohen’s services after Andrew Intrater, the company’s American chief executive, met him while attending Trump’s inauguration with Vekselberg, who is his cousin. Like all Russian oligarchs, Vekselberg operates in cooperation with the Putin government. The payments gave Russia several sources of possible leverage over Cohen and Trump. First, the money itself could amount to some kind of bribe, in return for which a favor would be expected. Second, Russia had knowledge of the secret payoff, which it could always expose. Third, the possibility (at minimum) exists that Russia knew the account was being used to silence Trump’s mistresses, yet another source of kompromat. (snip)
Perhaps even more alarming has been the response of the political system to this crisis. The House of Representatives has assigned Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as its point man to defend Trump against the Mueller investigation. The Department of Justice has a long-standing policy of keeping Congress out of acting investigations, for the obvious reason that elected officials have a powerful incentive to interfere. Nunes has demanded the virtually unlimited right to get inside the Mueller probe. Officials in the Department of Justice have come to suspect his goal is to compromise the investigation by handing information from the prosecutors over to Trump. (snip)
Think for a moment what this report tells us. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who enjoys the full backing of his party’s leadership, is willing to risk what his own government describes as the betrayal and potential loss of life of an intelligence source. And officials within this government believe the president would do the same, all in order to obstruct an investigation into the president’s secretive ties to a foreign power. They are acting as though Trump is compromised by Russia, or at the very least, that he cannot be trusted to defend his own country’s security against it. The sordid Russia scandal has already brought some version of a very dark nightmare scenario to life.”
Chait is spot on in his analysis.
McConnell, Hatch, Paul Ryan and Jim Jordan should think very carefully about backing any more of Nunes’ treason after this revelation.