(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
In a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo Rudy Giuliani went off the rails. He acknowledged that members of the Trump campaign probably colluded with the Russians, but maintained that the president knew nothing about it. So while Paul Manafort shared polling data with a Russian secret agent, Don Jr., Manafort and Jared Kushner met with a lawyer working for the Kremlin, and Kushner tried to set up a back channel with Moscow, Trump was completely in the dark. Add to that the fact that Michael Flynn had frequent contacts with Russians and lied about them and that Trump had a reputation as a micro-manager involved in every transaction at the Trump organization, and it explains why Hizzoner’s assertion lifted Cuomo’s eyebrows to a level they may not come back from. It’s Giuliani’s role, as Trump’s TV lawyer, to get out in front of information that is soon to be revealed, but this time he apparently went too far and later tried to walk his words back by saying that neither Trump nor he knew anything about anybody colluding with the Russians at any time. There were serious questions about Rudy having lost his marbles and the damage was done.
Meanwhile the stalemate in Washington is complete. Nancy Pelosi asked Trump to delay his State of the Union speech or to mail it in because of security concerns related to the shutdown, and the president made a military plane for a congressional delegation to Afghanistan, led by Pelosi, unavailable, because ‘she should be in DC negotiating with him.’ Knowing that his poll numbers are becoming ever more unfavorable Trump said to his acting Chief of Staff “we’re getting crushed, why cannot we get a deal?,” indicating that he doesn’t realize that he cannot get a deal precisely because he’s getting crushed. All the cards are in Pelosi’s favor, by cancelling the State of the Union she took his biggest podium away from Trump, while the president took something away from US troops in a war zone, who greatly value visits by politicians informing themselves. A vote about the administration’s plan to lift sanctions against three companies owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska shows that Trump’s GOP support in Congress, even in the Senate, is crumbling, and that may be the only way out of the current mess, if Mitch McConnell finds his balls.
On the legal front Trump’s problems are mounting. It was revealed that after he fired Comey the FBI started a counter intelligence investigation into the president, which would only be done if there was reasonable suspicion that he was either an agent of or targeted by Russia to act in its favor. Mueller inherited this probe, and the fact that Trump withheld information about his meetings with Putin from his closest associates and even confiscated the interpreter’s notes from one of those meetings doesn’t help his case. Neither does his proclaimed intention for the US to leave NATO.
Michael Cohen’s public testimony in Congress on February 7th could become even more explosive than already expected since it was revealed that Trump’s former fixer hired an IT firm to manipulate on-line polls in Trump’s favor, and that the president ordered him to commit perjury when testifying in the House about the Trump Tower project in Moscow. The latter, for which Mueller apparently has proof beyond Cohen’s word, is obviously obstruction of justice and as such an impeachable offense.
After Trump made barely veiled threats to his family Cohen now apparently fears for his life, although it is unlikely that the president will have him shot on 5th Avenue before his testimony. The latest revelations prompted Giuliani to say “if you believe Michael Cohen I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale,” not realizing that when it comes to believability only Trump scores lower than what was once ‘America’s Mayor.’
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