On Friday night, some long awaited good news finally showed up that special counsel Robert Mueller had criminal charges approved by a federal grand jury. It was a great weekend. We said goodbye to Roger Stone on Twitter, who spent Friday night expressing himself in the most obscene terms. He was very unhappy, as one might expect. His old partner Paul Manafort is going to prison.
On a glorious day in American history, known as #MuellerMonday, the indictments did indeed come rolling in. For Manafort and his henchman Rick Gates, a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. George Papadopoulos has already pled guilty and turned federal evidence.
Trump needs to come clean. He needs to tell us what he knows and do what he can to help his country to deal with this mess. But this will never happen. He has stalled on the application of the new Russian sanctions, and his attitude, in general, has been that Russia hasn’t done anything wrong.
He boasted yesterday when the news broke of Manafort’s indictment that it had nothing to do with him. But he was sweating after Papadopoulos, who’d been a close foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, had already accepted a guilty plea. Looks like he told on everybody.
It’s all about the sanctions. After the Russians seized the Crimea, we cramped their style with economic sanctions. They have been willing to resort to anything, in order to lift that burden and go back to their jet-set lifestyles. As a result, it’s amazing how fast the relationships between our two nations deteriorated.
Even fifteen years ago, things were significantly better. Joseph McCarthy was long gone. The Berlin Wall was torn down. Yeltsin seemed a decent enough sort. And when he vacated the office, leaving Putin behind as his chosen successor, I think most of us wanted to give him a chance.
The writer of this article remembers wishing him luck and hoping he did well for the Russian people, as a kid. It’s a sad thing, how we’ve had to become enemies with Russia again.
Of course, one of the names floated about the most was Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, who was in fact indicted on Monday. Manafort recently said he was expecting as much. Last week it was reported that Manafort was also under investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office in an alleged money-laundering scandal.
Manafort’s financial relationship with billionaire Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, is stronger than had been previously thought. The two did roughly $60 million in business dealings together over the past decade. They obviously worked well together before Manafort ripped off his longtime partner. His involvement in this was most likely motivated by a desire to “get whole” with Deripaska.
In April 2008 Manafort took $18,938,400 from Deripaska, for which he promised to return up to $100 million in Ukrainian cable television and telecommunications companies. He failed to return a cent. It seems clear this was an arranged way for him to pay his debt.
By 2008 Deripaska was one of the richest men in the world, but that was not set in stone. It largely depended on the goodwill of Putin, whose singular person is the true master of Russia’s wealth. During the Great Recession, his fortunes took a tremendous tumble. If it were not for help from the Kremlin, he likely would not have survived.
For this reason, Deripaska has proven willing to endure rough treatment at the hands of Putin for a great many years and will always be of use to him any way he can.
For example, in 2009, the factory town of Pikalevo was experiencing the most serious social unrest Russia had seen since the start of the global economic crisis.
Anxious to ensure that the Pikalevo problem remained an isolated one, Putin sought to cast himself as the town’s savior – and Oleg Deripaska as its villain.
Putin, who like Adolf Hitler is a master at ritually humiliating his subordinates, likened Deripaska to a cockroach in front of crowds of angry workers. He forced him to accompany him on a tour of a cement plant he operated in the area.
“Why has your factory been so neglected?” he demanded. “They’ve turned it into a rubbish dump. Why was everyone running around like cockroaches before my arrival? Why was no one capable of making decisions?”
Deripaska has also been a tool for Putin in ways slightly more fitting of a man’s self-worth. In 2008, he successfully drew Lord Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner at the time, into scandal after entertaining him on his yacht.
This is a classic example of Kompromat, the Russian word for the gathering of scandalous material on a political adversary.
Lord Mandelson’s own relations with Russia also improved. They have kept right along improving, and tightening bonds, and working together all they can.
By last June, he wrote a letter to Putin, asking him to arbitrate a legal dispute between the Sistema defense conglomerate, which Lord Mandelson works for, and Rosneft, a state-owned Russian oil giant.
This is Putin’s M.O. He sends some flunky of an oligarch like Deripaska around to throw a party. To buy some pretty girls and booze, and create a scenario to set up decent people.
Once he’s got the goods on them, he immediately turns on the charm. It’s easy to see, how it would be all too easy to choose to get rich rather than to get ruined. In this way, little by little, Putin extends his tentacles into the farthest reaches of our countries, and all too often, our leaders. Should they not cooperate, there’s always Wikileaks.
Putin uses psychological black operations like disinformation and Kompromat like you and I use a knife and fork. He’s about making the world a worse place, one dirty little secret at a time.
The Steele Dossier, which becomes more credible by the day, claims that Putin has been cultivating Trump for more than five years. It all started with that compromising pee-tape where Russian prostitutes micturate in a bed once slept in by the Obamas. Much like the unfortunate Lord Mandelson.
One has to assume he’s been ordering Trump around the world to act as a human lightning rod, just as he’s done with Deripaska and so many others. Trump was openly blackmailed by Putin against applying any new sanctions against Russia. Sergey Lavrov said that if all of Russia’s spy houses were not returned that “maybe more than one or two more meetings might come out. Maybe they even went to the toilet together.”
In the meantime, the prospect of a Saturday Night Massacre in which he fires Robert Mueller through executive order is starting to look realistic. Nothing indicates that any thoughts of the country’s well-being in the case of a constitutional crisis that severe would stop Trump from going this route. Nothing indicates that anything matters to Donald Trump excepting Donald Trump.
We’ve seen Trump’s viciousness when beaten before. His attempt to bargain with the lives of our DREAMers over funding for his inane dream of a border wall is one example. His sabotage of the Affordable Care Act is another.
Steve Bannon advised him in a phone call on Monday to be more aggressive in his approach toward special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians. Bannon has been advocating for “a much more aggressive legal approach short of firing Mueller,” but it’s unlikely Trump will hesitate to do just that if he thinks for ten seconds it will save him.
The only effective weapons left in Trump’s arsenal are bluster and aggression. His core is dwindling. His approval ratings continue to paddle around the toilet of his life. His last real hope to restore some kind of order in the Oval Office, Chief of Staff John Kelly, is now himself beleaguered in drama regarding talks he recently gave praising Robert E. Lee and attributing the Civil War to a “lack of compromise.”
The writing is on the wall for Donald Trump, and he knows it. His bewilderment and frustration spilled out into a boiling series of tweets the other night, culminating in the two single most honest words he’s ever spoken.
“DO SOMETHING!”, he howled out at the unkind and indifferent stars. Perhaps he was talking to God, but it’s too late now, of course. From now on, Trump must realize that Putin has become his own personal Mephistopheles. In trying to become a king, he ended up a servant.