Category Archives: Corruption

Absolute Presidential Immunity


Living in the USA as we are currently doing, we quickly learn that here everything is about Donald Trump. The universe revolves around Trump. He loves that of course. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the most famous person the world has ever known. And again, he loves that too.

While we were in Arizona during our first week, former President Donald Trump, through his lawyers, and in response to a specific question from one of the Appeal Court judges, argued in court that as president he could order the assassination of his political rival and be immune from prosecution. He also argued he could sell state military secrets to a foreign power, and again, be immune from prosecution. In other words, there is nothing a president could do in his official capacity as president that would expose him to criminal prosecution, no matter how corrupt!.  This may have been the most radical proposal ever made in a court of law in the United States.  And Donald Trump took a day off from campaigning to hear his lawyers make exactly this this argument. If elected this could be very valuable to him.

I am astonished that this is even a possibility. But in the FantasyLand in which we currently live, this is a real possibility. We eagerly wait to hear what the court will decide.

This is a question I have for his millions of supporters. Is this what you are prepared to work for? This is what Trump says, but I really wonder what his supporters want. is this what they want?

Fiction Written in blood: Managed Democracy


President Yeltsin was for a while considered the savior of Russia. That did not last long. Too many considered him a drunkard and buffoon. Briefly he was the hero of the anti-communist revolution. In 1996 his own team admitted that he had faked an election in which he won another term as president.


In 1999 it was recognized that he was in ill health and a successor should be chosen. By this time, they had a lot of power.  Vast amounts of money will do that. The oligarchs of course wanted to manage this process so that someone who would be sympathetic to their cause would come to power. They wanted to manage the process for their own benefit. They wanted someone who would allow them to retain their gains, maintain their wealth, and keep them alive.


It took a while for Yeltsin to choose his successor but eventually picked  Putin. Later, he told Bill Clinton it was a big mistake. Vladimir Putin was hardly a likely prospect because he was so little known. Putin held a meaningless KGB post in East Germany. From there he took a post as assistant to the mayor of St. Petersburg and used that position to enrich himself. After all that was the Russian way.

Putin was considered to be a team player in the Kremlin. When Yeltsin appointed Putin as his prime minister he was not a plausible candidate because his approval rate was only 2%. That was not because so many despised him. That was because so few people knew him.

That all changed in 1999 after a series of bombs exploded in Russian cities killing hundreds of Russians.  It was possible that the perpetrators were FSB officers. The FSB was the new Russian intelligence service that succeeded the well-known KGB. Some thought the FSB had engineered the attacks for their own private gain. Timothy Snyder described the situation this way:

“Though the possibility of self-terrorism was noticed at the time, the factual questions were overwhelmed by righteous patriotism as Putin ordered a new war against the part of Russia deemed responsible for the bombings: the Chechen republic of southwestern Russia, in the Caucasus region, which had declared independence in 1993 and then fought the Russian army to a standstill.   Thanks to the Second Chechen War, Putin’s approval rating reached 45% in 1993. In December, Yeltsin announced his resignation and endorsed Putin as his successor. Thanks to unequal television coverage, manipulation of the vote-tally, and the atmosphere of terrorism and war, Putin was accorded the absolute majority needed to win the presidential election of March 2000. The ink of political fiction is blood.”

This launched Putin into a career of what was then called “managed democracy.” That  of course, was fiction written in blood. There seems to be an endless supply of blood.


A Hanukah gift for Jared: A Pardon for Papa

Recently, on a pardon spree Trump pardoned Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, Jared.

Chris Christie former Republican governor of New Jersey and before that a federal prosecutor who prosecuted Kushner said this,

“I thought it was so obvious that he had to be prosecuted. If a guy hires a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and video tapes it, and then sends video tapes to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying in front of a grand jury, do I really need any more justification than that? I just laid out the facts and anyone confronted with he facts knows I had a moral and ethical duty to bring that prosecution.”

Christie said Kushner was “loathsome” and disgusting. In fact he reminded us that as a prosecutor in New Jersey he saw some pretty loathsome cases, but this one was the worst. We should remember too that Charles Kushner was no innocent. He pleaded guilty. Something rich white men rarely need to do. But, Jared calls him Dad. And Trump implicitly said, “he’s good enough for me. My kind of guy.”

Law is weak when a Crime Boss is elected President


When Donald Trump was running for the presidency in the 2016 campaign he came up with a very catchy slogan. He is good at that. He said he would “drain the swamp.” One of the handy things about this slogan was that it could mean different things to different people. The image was graphic. People loved it. Heck, I loved it.

But what actually did it mean? He never did define it. That was smart because people could fill it in as they saw fit. Some of his supporters thought it meant that he would get rid of the Wall Street barons s that ate the lunches of the poor suckers from the working classes in the financial crisis of 2008, when they managed to get the alligator’s share of the federal goodies thrown into the swamp by the government. People lost their houses, while executives from Wall Street got their debts paid because they were too big too fail. It was another case of socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the suckers. Then Trump, after getting elected, appointed many of the creatures from the Swamp to his cabinet. Obviously that was not what he meant by draining the swamp, he was he was feeding the swamp critters.

Some Trump supporters thought draining the swamp meant that Trump would get rid of the Deep State. Instead Trump tried to turn the government officials into his own private mobsters. He expected them to do his bidding and if they didn’t, like Christopher Wray at the FBI, Trump just fired them. Again he was draining the swamp by tossing out the good guys who were courageously doing their job

Whatever it means to drain the swamp surely it surely means to get rid of the corruption. This was one of Trump’s main promises together with building the big beautiful wall.

In law corruption in politics means essentially a politician using the political office to advance his own personal interests over that of the public he or she is supposed to serve. Sadly, that is precisely what Trump did. That is not surprising except perhaps to his devoted supporters who actually believed him. Fortunately, for Trump these supporters were so devoted to him there is nothing he could do to lose that support. As he himself said, he could kill someone in Times Square and he would not lose support. Similarly, he could be the most corrupt president in recent history and he would not lose support. He had a license to kill and a license to corrupt.

The New York Times editorial board understood this well. They pointed out that Trump was the chief law enforcement officer in the country but the meaning of this all depended on what “law” actually meant. As the board said, about Trump:

“The law is something that applies to his adversaries, not to himself or his friends. He regularly turned to the courts to harass and intimidate employees, critics and contractors. But when it has come to his own perceived advantage — whether he was violating federal fair-housing laws to keep black renters out of his apartment buildings, playing shady games with his tax returns, sexually assaulting women, defrauding students of his “university,” raiding his own charity, buying silence of alleged mistresses on the eve of an election, running his global business empire out of the White House, or thwarting the will of Congress by using foreign aid to advance his re-election — Mr. Trump has always seen the law as just another set of rules to be bent, if not broken.”

In other words, for Trump, the law was his instrument of corruption! It was no check on him, it was his to use as he pleased. He really came to understand this after he escaped impeachment. After that he realized that the law could not stop him. The Senate and House of Representatives could not stop him. They would help him. The vaunted American checks and balances were helpless beside his authority. After all he was the chief law enforcement officer of the country and he was ready for the job.

The law is a mighty weak instrument when the people elect a crime boss to lead it.


Rotten to the Core


I said many times that “this tops it all” in relation to Donald Trump, only to find one outrageous act after another promptly exceeded by the next But this one really  does take the cake. (Actually they all did)

Yesterday, December 23, 2020 Donald Trump pardoned a bunch of people. That is not unusual as American presidents have done that repeatedly, though I have often thought only a crazy political system would give that much authority to one man.

As political commentator John Avalon said on CNN,

“If you look back at the Mueller investigation, the 4 main players who refused to talk and lied to prosecutors were Manafort, Flynn, Papadopoulos, and Stone. They’ve all now been pardoned. And the 2 significant defendants who did testify they’ve not been pardoned.”

 In case you have forgotten who this “rogues gallery of convicted criminals” are,  as CNN called them, Manafort was Trump’s former campaign manager, Flynn was his National Security advisor and promoter of Qanon conspiracies, Stone was Trump’s long time crony and special political advisor and Papadopoulos was a former Trump campaign aide.

In other words the Trump cronies who were loyal to Trump are out of jail, thanks to Trump and those who were loyal to the country remain in jail. One of the lead prosecutors in the Mueller investigation, Andrew Weissmann said this: “The pardons from this president are what you would expect if you gave the pardon power to a mob boss.” Weissmann knows what he is talking about. Before the Mueller investigation he prosecuted cases involving members of the Genovese, Colombo, and Gambino crime families in New York. That is what the US has elected as a president—a Crime Boss.

The Mueller report had said how Trump would signal to the 4 pardoned men while they were being investigated that they could look for a pardon. And yesterday Trump delivered with spectacular results.

Former FBI Deputy Director Any McCabe, also severely criticized the pardons as sending a message that people who did not cooperate with investigators can get rewarded while those who did can suck socks. McCabe called the move by Trump a ‘culmination’ of acts of ‘obstruction of justice.’

As McCabe said on CNN, those who play ball with Trump will be lucky because ‘He will pay you off with a pardon and give you a get out of jail free card. The Mueller report explored whether Trump and allies dangled a pardon to Manafort to discourage him from cooperating with prosecutors.

“ ‘What was seen and referred to in the Mueller report has now been completed. Pardons were dangled. And now they’ve delivered in return for protection for the president. I don’t even know how to describe it, it’s so obviously corrupt,’ he said.”

Laura Coates another former prosecutor with the Department of Justice (‘DOJ”) described it this way;

“On the eve of the eve of Christmas, the ghosts of criminals past have slates wiped clean with presidential pardons, but the smell you smell wafting is not holiday cheer and evergreen boughs, it’s the stench of the swamp and rotten to the core.”

The words “rotten to the core” actually came from Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Laura Coates the guest host on the show also said this,

“I am a lawyer who has studied the constitution and I know the president is given the authority to pardon and there are absolutely times when it should be used to right a wrong. But not for executing revenge or rewarding your cronies. That’s rotten to the core.”

Not satisfied with pleasing only those who protected him during the Mueller investigation, Trump gave  an early Christmas gift to his son-in-law Jared Kushners by pardoning his father Charles Kushner for tax evasion and retaliation against a federal witness, and lying to the election commission.

John Avalon was right when he said, “This president who will be considered the most corrupt in American history.” Avalon also reminded us that of the 65 people Trump has pardoned so far, 60 have a personal connection to Trump. He also pointed out that the phrase “quid pro quo,” that played such a prominent role in the impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate was again very appropriate here. Corruption is simple in  criminal cases involving politicians. It means a politician is prohibited from using his or her office for personal game. This is an abuse of power. Exactly what Trump was charged with in the Senate hearing. And exactly what he did here. The use of the pardon power for personal game, such as keeping unflattering witnesses quiet is a simple quid pro quo. This completes the Mueller report where Trump tried from the beginning to obstruct the course of justice.

Who will have faith in American justice after this? Who will think it is rotten to the core? What do the millions of Trump supporters think about him now?