Friday, July 14, 2017

The Wheels Are Coming Off The Clown Car

You really have to hand it to right-wing media. Give them a story about treason, collusion, and a hostile foreign power's interference with U.S. Presidential elections, and they'll respond with a red herring the size of the Larson C Antarctic iceberg. Today NBC News reported that the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., his brother-in-law and current White House Whiz Kid Jared Kushner, and the at-the-time campaign manager Paul Manafort last June--you know, back when we had a functioning democracy?--brought along a plus-one: a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer:
The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.
NBC News is not naming the lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies. He accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.
The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship.
Veselnitskaya acknowledged to NBC News that she was accompanied by at least one other man, though she declined to identify him.
The presence at the meeting of a Russian-American with suspected intelligence ties is likely to be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate panels investigating the Russian election interference campaign.
Just like in the Mafia, there's no such thing as a "retired" counter-intelligence officer. James Bond, or, in this case, Illya Kuryakin, never retires: he either dies in active service in the line of duty, or goes on the "inactive status list," still able to take jobs for which he can be hung if caught, but avoiding all the pesky responsibility on the part of the home government. They can just leave him out in the cold, alone, if detected, and never have to admit responsibility for his actions, or pay his pension. A pretty convenient arrangement - for the government, if not the agent - for those ultra-high-risk assignments, the kind that sound like a bad Hollywood movie, they're so outrageous. Like, for example, sabotaging an American presidential election. But that's who you choose for those kinds of tasks, someone who has no apparent or current ties to your government. "Once in, never out" is a motto shared by the CIA, Mi-6, and the Cosa Nostra.

The former spy in question has since been identified as "Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-born lobbyist who since at least last year has been working with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to overturn a US law sanctioning Russians."

So here we have the candidate's son, his son-in-law, and his campaign manager - greedy, crooked idiots all - sitting in a room with a foreign, non-English-speaking woman whom they've been told is working for the Russian government and who has damaging information about the candidate's opponent, a former spy for the former Russian government, and a translator, since Ms. Veselnitskaya doesn't speak English. Sounds like a pretty memorable - and suspicious (but I'll get to that later) - grouping to me, how about you? I mean, it's not every day that you encounter a Russian lawyer and a former Soviet spy! And her translator, too. Seems to me that the people who attended that meeting would stick out in my mind for a long, long time.

But what does Jared do, when it's time to fill out his SF-86, the required government form to obtain a security clearance? A form that several times in several places tells you in no uncertain terms that supplying false information opens you to charges of perjury, with a maximum penalty of five years in a federal penitentiary? He forgets about this meeting! In fact, he forgot about meeting not only Ms.Veselnitskaya, but meeting over 100 foreign nationals, including a clandestine meeting during the transition with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Boy Wonder wanted to explore the possibility of setting up a back channel line of communications with the Kremlin, one that would use Russian communications equipment and facilities, and would be unknown to and undetectable by American intelligence services. In all, Young Jared forgot so much that he needed three supplemental forms to cover all the foreigners, especially Russians, that he's talked to over the last seven years.

But here's where it gets laughable. While every news organization is asking who was the sixth person in the room?" "Will Junior or Jared face perjury or conspiracy charges?" "Who were these people they met with, and what is their connection to Putin and the Russian government?", while all these serious and seriously damning questions are being posed, good ole Fox News "solves the mystery" with a "timeline shows how Russian lawyer got into US for Trump Jr. meeting." And the answer to the mystery which was not a question being asked by anyone, is, as always, the Obama Administration! Now and forever, ever ill of mankind, every trouble-spot around the world, every political drama, every Constitutional crisis, was originated by, and the fault of, Barack Obama's presidency.

And of course, just like a two-year-old who's not mature enough to take responsibility for their actions, Agent Orange rises to the defense of his son by smearing former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The Buffoon-in-Chief said that "somebody" - his favorite source of information, akin to an SNL skit by Bobby Moynihan, the all-knowing "somebody" - "said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch. Now, maybe that's wrong. I just heard that a little while ago, but a little surprised to hear that. So, she was here because of Lynch."

Of course, he's dead wrong. The Daily Beast goes on to report that
“In Sept. 2015, DHS paroled Natalia Veselnitskaya into the U.S. in concurrence with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, allowing her to participate in a client’s legal proceedings,” the DHS statement to BuzzFeed News read. “Ms. Veselnitskaya was subsequently paroled into the U.S. several times between 2015 and 2016, ending in February 2016. In June 2016, she was issued a B1/B2 nonimmigrant visa by the U.S. Department of State.”
Trump's penchant for lying once again has put him at odds with the truth. His preoccupation with President Obama makes lie again and again, even when the facts are easily verified. But the way that wingnut media outlets like Fox support and defend those lies are what saddens me. Facts are no longer things that everyone can agree upon. Truth is relative to one's political persuasion. Reality is malleable, dependent on a person's party identification.

If we can't all agree on what's true or not, what's real or not, how can we ever solve the problems of climate change, economic disparity, racial division, educating the next generation in a manner that doesn't leave them destitute, repairing and revitalizing our crumbling infrastructure, and staving off the next global mass extinction event (coming to a polar bear near you!), as well as regaining our position as the leader of the free world, disarming North Korea, and finding a lasting peace in the Mideast?

We have to face our warts and confront our crazy relatives, not just over the Thanksgiving turkey once a year, but every day the clown car remains parked with the White House fleet. We have to hold the Trump Crime Family responsible for their words and their actions, and replace them immediately if they cannot.

This isn't funny, anymore.

No comments: