For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction Newton’s 3rd law of physics
One nice thing about the Trump administration, if you’re an information overload junkie, you’re having no trouble getting your fix. But, as I’ve pointed out before, with so many eye catching headlines, there are driving issues in each story that go unnoticed, and yet they are the very things that drive future headlines.Here’s some things to watch out for in the next week or so, courtesy of the latest deluge of developments.
Paul Ryan’s ultimate humiliation may be coming. I recently wrote an article chronicling how the GOP civil war between the GOP moderates in the House and the Tea Party subservient House leadership had broken open on the floor, with moderate members filing a “discharge petition” to bypass House leadership and bring a series of DACA bills to the floor for a vote without leadership approval. Several comments I received indicated people thought that this was a stunt from vulnerable members, trying to shore up their image at home by making a faux moral stand. This is certainly a possibility.
But that dynamic has changed over the last couple of days. On Monday, Paul Ryan held a closed door meeting with his caucus, in which he more or less demanded that GOP House members not sign the discharge petition. This is obviously not a publicity stunt for the folks back home. If it were, there would be no reason for Ryan to lay down the law like that. This is a direct challenge to his authority, and it is going to be interesting to see just how much pull a guy who is putting his office trinkets into a cardboard box in January and going home still has over a bunch of people who would like to still have jobs come January. A unified Democratic caucus would only need a GOP crossover of 23 or so votes to pass it, and there are already many more than 23 vulnerable GOP incumbents. Especially watch the TX GOP delegation, where, for the first time in years, there is a full slate of Democratic challengers, in a state becoming browner every day. This just might make it over the finish line.
Steve Munchkin, I mean Mnuchin is on the hot seat. The law enforcement whistle blower leaking the Michael Cohen Suspicious Activity Report by the bank holding his Essentials Consulting LLC account is going to cause Mnuchin no end of heartburn. The SAR was apparently obtained as a result of a search in the supposedly “permanent” FinCEN computer maintained by the Treasury department. The Treasury Department has already started an investigation to trace the leak and identify the leaker. But presumably, a “career law enforcement professional,” with access to the system, would be aware of the tracking procedures and taken steps to safeguard themselves.
The problem for Munchkin is the old adage, “Forewarned is forearmed’. Last night, Chris Hayes was as stunned as everybody else when CA Congresswoman Maxine Waters stated that all the way back in January, the Democratic minority on the banking services committee had written to Mnuchin, asking for confirmation that no member of the Trump family, administration, or campaign, had contacted the Treasury department and asked for the altering, masking, or removal of any financial documents. Munchy didn’t even bother to acknowledge receipt of the letter, much less respond to it. But, with critical, bank generated information suddenly missing from the FinCEN database, you can bet that he’s going to have some very sticky questions to officially answer to, real quick like. Keep an eye on this down the road.
These missing SAR’s can blow up either way. There are two basic explanations emerging for the mysteriously missing banking irregularity reports that were filed about Michael Cohen’s shell company account. One is of course, they were maliciously removed to protect Cohen, and possibly the administration. The other is that either the Mueller team, or the Southern District of New York US Attorneys office, discovering these, removed or masked them to keep them from accidentally being made public before they could be properly mined.With the almost primordial tendency of this administration towards criminality, the natural instinct is to lean towards malicious removal. But this situation is now problematic either way.
If in fact it was someone acting on orders of the Trump administration to remove these documents, you now have the Trump-Russia equivalent of the “Watergate tapes.” This is hard, physical evidence, being suppressed specifically to deny them to an investigation. There were at least 3 SAR’s filed by that bank on Cohen, yet only two were removed or deleted. Why? Why not get rid of all three? One possible explanation is that there were no transactions on the third SAR that implicated anybody but Cohen. Did the other two show disbursements to people, say Trump himself, or Ivanka, that could be problematic? Either way, this toothpaste is never going back into the tube, and one way or another, those missing SAR’s are going to be found.
But, the alternative is equally problematic. If either Mueller’s team, or the SDNY prosecutors removed or masked those SAR’s, they did it for a damn good reason. It had to be, since apparently that event would be almost unheard of. There would have to be something in those SAR’s that Mueller or the SDNY team didn’t want made public until they broke it themselves, likely in an indictment. But, the leaking of this third SAR to the public has confirmed the existence of the other two, through the cross referencing on the third SAR. The surprise element is now gone for Mueller or the SDNY.
If there is one saving grace in this for the prosecution, it is that Cohen would have no access to the SAR’s themselves. So, while Cohen, along with the rest of the world, may now know of their existence, he has no idea of what transactions generated the reports themselves. The problem is that the account itself doesn’t have all that long of a history, so if Cohen can get his hands on his activity summary, it can be gone over with a fine tooth comb, looking for anything that might have triggered an alarm, and assess the danger. It would buy them time to generate explanations and excuses. No matter how it ultimately shakes out, it is going to be interesting to see who gets hurt the worst by this sudden revelation.
Baby Donnie is going to need a pardon soon. The acorn may not fall far from the tree, but apparently it sure as hell can get damaged from the drop. The release of the Senate Judiciary Committee transcripts regarding the Trump Tower meeting of June 9th basically take the measurements for an orange jumpsuit. There are two things that stick out like dandelions on a putting green concerning Donnie Redux.
The first has nothing to do with Baby Donnie’s testimony. It’s an e-mail from Robba the Hut. In the e-mail, Rob Goldstone vividly describes Trump Jr’s words and attitude during the meeting. Dimwit Deux opens the meeting by imperiously stating, “So, I understand that you have some information for us,” a clear indication of the sole reason he is there. Then Goldstone paints a picture of the body language of The Infant of Clod, saying that he got visibly impatient and frustrated when said dirt was not forthcoming, repeatedly trying to steer the conversation back on track when it wandered. Dirt was what was promised, and he wasn’t leaving until he was covered in it.
But, far worse, was his nonsensical responses to his 11 minute call to a “blocked number” while setting up the meeting with Emin Agalarov. Trump Jr stated that he didn’t remember who he spoke to, and didn’t even know if his father had a blocked number. Let’s look at this in real life for a moment. There’s a concert coming soon, with a band your girlfriend loves, but it’s sold out. Your first call is to a buddy with connections, to see if you can score a pair of tickets. Your buddy says he’s got you covered, so your second call is to your girlfriend, just to make sure that she’s free that evening. When she says she can go, your third call is back to your buddy to buy the tickets. In what parallel universe do you call to check on ticket availability, and then forget that it was your girlfriend you called to find out if she wanted to go? Obviously, the Cheeto Prophet is not the only one in the family that is totally untethered from reality.
So, while the headlines themselves are thrilling, provocative, and informing, don’t forget that there are always underlying facts that come together to make them headlines in the first pace. And often it is those underlying facts themselves that become the headlines down the road. I think that most, if not all of the underlying facts above are going to be their very own headlines shortly, so keep an eye out for them.