Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sanity Sunday- Weekly Review and Nomadic Playlist 2

by Nomad

The Week in Review- Calamitous

Even by Trump's usual standards, this was a calamitous week of mind-numbing bombshells. By week's end, it was pretty clear that "events are spiraling out of control" was too mild an expression to use.

Trump's Treasonous Summit

For many, Monday was the day that President Trump crossed the line. It was the day Trump crossed his Russian Rubicon.  If any doubt remained about Hillary's warnings that Trump was "Putin's puppet," Monday afternoon banished them.

Trump Putin SummitHis one-on-one summit meeting with Russian president Putin in Helsinki followed by a stunning press conference, was, in almost every respect, worse than even Nomads could have feared. 

To the horror of many veteran US diplomats, President Trump lavished praise on the Russian president while condemning the FBI at the press conference. There was, according to Trump, no ethical difference between the US and Russia.
"I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. ... And I think we're all to blame."
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Trump also defended Putin over U.S. election meddling accusations at the press conference. Trump said:
"There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. And people are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they're going to have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign."
Among those who condemned Trump's conduct was former CIA director John Brennan who stated “Nothing short of treasonous."

Rep. Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committeelabeled Trump the “gravest threat to American democracy” he’s ever seen. Schiff added that the president showed that he was “prepared to essentially betray the national security interests of the United States.”

The reverberations from Trump's press conference were still breaking crockery by the time the president returned to Washington on Tuesday. He proclaimed his summit to be "a great success except for the real enemy of the people: Fake News media."

If his tweets were anything to go by, he seemed totally unaware of the impact of the foreign policy disaster. With protesters gathered at the White House and the social media all a-buzz. Trump made a feeble attempt at damage control by claiming he had been misunderstood. (When he said "would," he had, he claimed, meant "would not.")

Here are some reactions by members of Congress.

From Russia With Love

While Trump was away, trashing our alliances over in Europe and forging a new world order with America's most aggressive enemy, there was another news story breaking. And it too was a bombshell.
The arrest of an alleged Russian agent, Mariia Butina.
Federal prosecutors allege that Butina "engaged in a years-long conspiracy to work covertly in the U.S. as an undeclared agent of the Russian Federation to advance the interests of her home country."
Her actions are believed to have been directed by Alexander Torshin, one of Putin's closest allies, who the U.S. sanctioned in April. 
(In the past, Spanish courts had linked Torshin with the Russian mafia.)

Butina and Torshin were also frequent attendees at the National Rifle Association (NRA) conventions and are believed to have used the organization to funnel campaign contributions to Republicans, including Trump himself. 
The indictments against Butina seemed to reveal a covert and concerted attempt to infiltrate the higher echelons of the  Republican party.

On Wednesday, Trump made his Helsinki summit debacle worse when Trump was asked by a reporter whether Russia was still "targeting" the United States. The president was understood to answer "No." This one-word statement contradicted his earlier correction from the day before.
Hours later, the White House clarified that the president was, in fact, answering a different question.

"Interesting Offer"

On the same day, news broke that during the summit, Putin floated the idea of allowing Russian investigators to question U.S.-born investor Bill Browder, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others. According to the Washington Post:
The list is believed to include at least two other former diplomats, a congressional staffer, a CIA agent, a staffer for the National Security Council and two employees at the Department of Homeland Security.
What do the people on this list have in common? They reportedly worked on drawing up a list and perimeters of the Russian sanctions after its annexation of Crimea.
The complete details of the bizarre proposal were never fully explained. Nevertheless, Trump called it "an interesting idea" and “an incredible offer."
At a press conference the following day, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee nonchalantly said:
“He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process…It was an idea they threw out.”
By Friday, in the face of a bipartisan backlash, Trump was claiming he now disagreed with Putin on the proposal.

The Cohen Tapes

Later that day, yet another bomb went over when it was revealed that Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, had recorded a conversation with Trump two months before the presidential election.
In the conversation, they reportedly discussed payments to Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who claimed to have had a 10-month affair with Trump.
In the September 2016 conversation at Trump Tower, Cohen told Trump that American Media Inc., (AMI) the publisher of the National Enquirer, had bought the rights to McDougal's story about her affair with Trump for for $150,000 in August 2016. Cohen suggested that they acquire the rights to McDougal's story themselves and Trump asked how to proceed and whether he should write a check. 
Ever since the rumor of an extra-marital affair surfaced, Trump had denied the story and repeatedly labeled it "fake news." In fact, with the help of the tabloid, Trump was reportedly allowed to keep his sexual affairs secret. Purchasing a story in order to suppress its publication (and forcing the source to sign a non-disclosure agreement) is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call “catch and kill.”
Furthermore, former executives from the National Enquirer confirmed that Trump's lawyer's approval was required before a Trump-related story was published in the tabloid. 

Federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating whether AMI’s chairman, David J. Pecker, a close friend of the president and his former lawyer, broke campaign financing laws.

Confusion Reigns Supreme

By the week's end, Congress was expressing growing concern that the members still have no clear idea what was discussed at the Trump-Putin summit.

Next week, Trump will reportedly go the Hill where Congressional members will grill the president about what was discussed with Putin and what Trump agreed to. 

That information has suddenly become extremely important because the two sides appear to have different recollections of the meeting. Russia’s ambassador said the two leaders made “important verbal agreements” on Syria and arms control, while the State Department and White House initially said no concrete deals were made.

One group of US Congress members vowed that if they do not receive straight answers, they would summon Trump's interpreter, Marina Gross, to testify before Congress.

So that's the round-up of the week. Have I left anything out that you thought ought to have been mentioned? Any predictions about the coming week?

And Now A Musical Interlude

With the stupifying week now in the past, it is time to take a break with some music. Here is a specially-selected playlist which- hopefully- will calm your quaking hearts.

The playlist consists of:
  1. Fazerdaze - Little Uneasy
  2. Thee Lakesiders - Parachute
  3. José Gonzales - Heartbeats
  4. Durand Jones & The Indications - True Love
  5. Greg Laswell - Comes and Goes
  6. Thee Lakesiders - Lonely Blue Nights
  7. Trish Toledo - Somebody Please
  8. Lola Marsh - She's a Rainbow
  9. Trish Toledo - I Do Love You
  10. Roo Panes - Lullaby Love
  11. Durand Jones & The Indications - Is It Any Wonder?
  12. Hozier - Sweet Thing

Have a great Sunday. my friends.