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H2O Man

H2O Man's Journal
H2O Man's Journal
March 31, 2019

The Orange Plague

“...But I respect his frankness. I respect his frankness for the same reasons that a ship's captain has the moral obligations to his passengers to avoid a shipwreck, if he can, and a civilized person has the same moral obligation to not only themselves to be skeptical and to demand the proof of any and all statements that claim to be one of fact! Because in the final analysis all tyranny rests in fraud and deceit, in convincing people to accept false assumptions on face-value, and any people or person who for one moment abandons or suspends that questioning spirit has, at that very moment, actually betrayed all of humanity.”
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; February 20, 1979

If you are a Democrat, this has been a somewhat intense week. First, Attorney General Barr released a 3.5 page letter to congressional leaders, outlining his interpretation of Robert Mueller's report. While in the first couple of days that followed, some viewed the Mueller Report with suspicion. But soon enough, most recognized that this was simply what is known in political-social actions as an inoculation. Older folks here can recall several others from past times when scandal was fast approaching.

Before we look at the outstanding response from Speaker Pelosi and the six democratic party chairmen, it might be worth taking a brief look at the White House response. Before even considering Trump's shrieking that the report “totally exonerated” him, let's think …..hadn't Rudy G yelped on previous interviews that Trump's lawyers had already prepared a 92-page response to a report that hadn't been completed, and which they had not even seen?

By golly, he did! Even today, Rudy was blabbering about releasing his 92-page response to a report he still has not read. Why? This is not the only defense-mode activity we have witnessed from the president, the White House, and Trump's legal team during the second half of the week. We can be sure Rudy's 92 pages were not penned as a reaction to being exonerated. Rather, it was prepared to react to bad news.

When Trump was busy conducting what he believes is his most important activity – watching news coverage – he saw that both MSNBC and CNN were contrasting his claim of exoneration with Mr. Mueller's saying that he had not exonerated Trump. Hence, Trump contacted one of his most trusted advisers, who we will call Stephen Miller. The pair had discussed how to react to bad news from the Mueller Report numerous times. Indeed, Stephen had a secret plan.

We witnessed that plan being activated in real time: the Trump White House and administration would unleash a flurry of distractions to take attention away from what they had been calling the good news of complete exoneration. The White House revealed that the DOJ had decided to totally wipe out “Obama care.” The republican party would become the party of health care. He called for a DOJ investigation of a case in Chicago. End funding for the Special Olympics – until even the base that supports putting brown-skinned children in cages reacted against the cruelty of cutting this funding. Shut down the border with Mexico! Yeah, right. I expect that President Obama's prediction that Trump would focus on determining if the moon landing was real will come true next week.

Now, let's turn to the Democratic Party's response. Some of our Senators have been very good, of course, but it's the House leadership that has most impressed me. They reminded me of the wisdom of my friend Rubin's message in the above quoted letter to me, some 40 years ago. Barr's letter did not come close to convincing them that there was no need to read the actual report, and to then question both Barr and Mr. Mueller. I assume that they will question Rod Rosenstein, as well.

Chairman Adam Schiff's response to the republican spiders and snakes of his committee was classic. It will take its place in political history, and high school and college students will be studying it for many decades to come. Schiff's powerful presentation reminded me of Malcolm X's saying that the louder his opponents screamed, the better he knew he was doing. I can only imagine what the blubber-neck president does every time it gets played on the news.

The Mueller Report stated that they did not find enough evidence of a coordinated conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to result in legal charges. Yet, as Schiff stated, there is plenty of evidence of collusion. Thus, the Democrats want full access to the report to determine how close of a call it was. If, for example, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being reason for indictment, did Mr. Mueller think the evidence rose to six? Eight? Because if it were zero, the republicans would surely want it released.

I've stated numerous times that Barr is from the House of Bush. He was loyal to Bush the Elder. That is not a compliment. He's not our friend, nor on our side. But he may not be fully for Trump. By any definition, Barr is a part of the “deep state.” If nothing else, his apparent reasoning for withholding some of the report from congress is weak, and will not hold up in federal court. As I noted last year, Nancy Pelosi has a track record of winning when she goes to court to gain access to documents a republican president seeks to withhold. And she put together a legal team for exactly this purpose around the time she was again named Speaker of the House.

One last thing. I've read a large number of questions and comments on why Mr. Mueller ended his participation in the investigation he was appointed to conduct. Was it due to Barr's unholy influence? This is a situation where the saying “he who knows 'why?' masters he who knows 'how'.” Though “how” is important – had Barr pressured Mr. Mueller, rejecting proposals to continue the investigation, he would be required to inform Congress – “why” is much more important.

Again, let's turn to Malcolm X. He often said that in conflict, don't aim at the puppet, but focus instead on the puppeteer. Barr's 19-page job application showed he was wiling to serve Trump with strings attached, and Trump alone is pulling the strings in the White House. Bob Woodward's book “Fear” – among others – described an emotionally unstable, often out-of-control president. The New York Times op-ed by “Anonymous” that came out with the book's release reinforced that image.

We know that sometime around the time Mr. Mueller spoke with Don McGhan, and learned that Trump had ordered him to fire Mueller, that Mr. Mueller began systematically handing off cases to other federal prosecutors. This resembles the Obama administration spreading documentation to numerous agencies in late 2016, so that it would not disappear under Trump. The “why” here is self-evident.

We know that people with the mental disorder that Trump has will almost always lash out when extreme pressure is put on them. (One can simply consider Trump's actions this week as an example.) People in the White House and the rest of the administration knew that he was becoming increasingly unhinged as the Mueller investigation continued over the past 90 days. We know that this was closely related to Rod Rosenstein's preparing to retire, then unexpectedly staying on until the report was released.

It is safe to say that Mr. Mueller was fully aware of the essence of Trump's being, and conducted his investigation in the best manner to protect it from Trump. It's also safe to say that both Barr and Rosenstein were aware of Trump's private rantings about the investigation, and made sure that Mr. Mueller was also aware of the increasing likelihood of Trump taking some action (or actions) to deflect and derail the investigation. Trump is aware that his republican support in DC will erode when the report becomes public. Thus. Mr. Mueller set out the information regarding obstruction – pro and con – specifically for Congress. When that happens, it is a mere matter of time before the public finds out what is in it. And that will include information about both coordination with Russia and obstruction.

H2O Man

March 26, 2019

The Shroud of Trump

try it again
with a double axe.”
-- Thomas Merton; Notes for a Cosmic Meditation.”

I was reading some of Thomas Merton's “Raids on the Unspeakable” (1960). In fact, I brought it to the gym this evening, to keep reading more of it, as I helped train five boxers, ages 8 to 30. There are some periods where I have to concentrate on the training – especially sparring sessions – but shorter spots where I could read a few pages.

Towards the end of training, a women I met at work and remain good friends with stopped to ask what I was reading? I showed her, and said a few words about my impressions of Merton. She'd never heard of him. She's much younger than me, and it got me thinking how many young people are unaware of one of the great influences on my generation. I think it would help people put things in perspective, and help define what is possible – and what role we have to play.

In my mind's eye, which is admittedly limited, the combination of training people to fight in the ring while reading Merton, is similar to watching the news about the Mueller Report and reading Merton during commercial breaks. This became evident to me when I got home from the gym, and had a conversation with another friend.

I met this lady on the Democratic Underground many years ago. Although she, too, is much younger than I, she is familiar with Merton. However, yesterday she was feeling mighty frustrated with AG Barr's odd interpretation of the Mueller Report, and extremely annoyed by much of the media coverage it was getting. As I am of extremely little intellect and shallow grasp of understanding, I immediately responded by way of the discussion I had had an hour previous, with the two fighters that will be competing in the finals of the NYS Golden Gloves on April 14, for I am convinced that all that is important in life imitates the sport of boxing.

In a tough bout, there will be times when one's opponent unleases their best blows. At those times, one needs to keep moving, so as not to be a stationary target. Avoid as many punches as possible, and block those that you can't slip. Recognize that as unpleasant as this is, t is an essential part of the struggle. Do not watch your opponent's eyes; instead, focus on their mi-section. Know that the opponent will become over-confident – this being an important key – and thus will load up on their punches, which always results in their getting winded. Always. That is when you catch them coming into your power, as you dig in some hard body shots. When his/her hands come down (and they will!), you go to the head.

This weekend, our opposition started throwing punches at us. When Barr produced his brief interpretation of the Mueller Report, we could anticipate the over-confidence we saw on Monday. The republican base has been cheering wildly, assuming that meaningful shots are overwhelming our side. But most of those punches completely miss the mark, and the few that “land” are being blocked. More, we have some elected representatives landing some meaningful counter punches. And within a week's time, the Trump supporters will have shot their wad.

Now, back to the gym, at least figuratively. Before training, I had a rather long conversation with a close friend. He and I have worked on political activities for three decades or more. He asked for my impressions of what was going on per the Mueller Report, including the risks of accepting Barr's bit on face value. I will attempt to edit my long and winding response, as my response was even longer and more boring than my essays here.

Mr. Mueller determined that there was not enough evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to warrant legal charges. It is not as if Mr. Mueller was unaware of Don, Jr's meeting, etc. Rather, the report shows that the Russians made repeated efforts to influence the campaign, and that the Trump people were by and large unwitting dupes. What type of people do the Russians mark as easy targets for such things? As Malcolm Nance has repeatedly said, they look for people who are greedy, ambitious, and narcissistic. Surely Mr. Mueller is aware of this.

Mr. Mueller did not include a conclusion regarding obstruction of justice. Instead, he laid out the evidence pro and con. He knew that the DOJ has a policy of not indicting a sitting president. There is no evidence that he took the steps he did, and included the documentation he put in the report, as a means of asking Barr if he would overturn policy, and indict Trump. That is a very weak interpretation of what happened.

Instead, Mr. Mueller laid the case out for Congress to consider. Indeed, in our political system, it is Congress that determines if a president has attempted to obstruct justice, and/or has abused the power of his/her office. One of the primary reasons for this is that obstruction and/or abuse of power does not have to rise to the 95% level of certainty that I spoke of in my last essay here, in order to press charges. It's clearly the responsibility of Congress, not Barr, to interpret this.

Thus, we see republicans parroting the line that grand jury testimony cannot be legally released. In general, of course, this is true. The reason, as we all know, is to avoid damaging the reputation of a person who testified, but was not charged by the grand jury. Yet, there are exceptions, and the republicans are terrified of them.

Let's consider but one example. Take Hope Hicks, who quit the White House days after testifying in front of the grand jury. Gracious, I wonder why? Oh, that's right – among other things, Hope was with Trump on Air Force One when he dictated the cover-lie for Don, Jr., per the Trump Tower meeting. She has also admitted lying to help Trump. Now, if her testimony that is included in the Mueller Report is released – to both Congress and the public – it isn't going to hurt her reputation. No, there is still a future in plastics.

But it will knock the wind out of the republicans. And it is only one of a very large number of body punches that we are preparing to land …..because the law absolutely allows for the release of grand jury testimony in certain circumstances. And this is definitely one of them. It's coming.

Thomas Merton reminds us that we are participants in these great events. To not allow ourselves to be reduced to mere spectators, arguing the points that our opposition throws at us. No, it's time to work with our elected representatives in DC. Let's roll.

H2O Man

March 24, 2019

Trump, Capone, & Syphilitic Dementia

“By late March, the crimes of Trump, his family, and his associates will much more fully exposed. More republicans will find it impossible to defend the Trump mob. The legal cases in the courts and the House committee investigations will be plowing the decaying feces known by the brand name “the Trump administration” under. And much of what might seem to be rotting will instead be understood to be part of the necessary process of germination. And between late March and June, those of us at the grass roots level will have the opportunity to plant the seeds of democracy as a follow-up to the fantastic efforts made for the last elections.”
H2O Man; White House Rats; 12-25-2018


A lot of people are concerned about the “end” of the Mueller Team's investigation. This includes many who are worried about what is being said about reports that this part of the investigation will not produce further indictments. And some are repulsed by the republicans gloating that there was “no collusion.” All of this, without any knowledge of what Mr. Mueller's report to Attorney General Barr says or doesn't say.

Let's take a closer look. To begin with, we know that what became the Mueller investigation started with a counter intelligence effort by the FBI. It expanded, due to evidence that numerous people connected to the Trump campaign were in contact with Russians and Russian-connected interests. This, as Malcolm Nance has pointed out, raised the question of if they were witting or unwitting dupes.

If they were witting dupes, it was possible that criminal charges would follow. If, on the other hand, they were merely half-wits being duped by Russia, their actions may or may not have been legal. An examination of this could lead prosecutors to charge them with other crimes related to their activities.

In either case, there are two factors to keep in mind. First, the counter intelligence investigation involved “intelligence” from both other domestic agencies, and information from at least three other countries. Much of this is from levels that federal prosecutors rarely, if ever, can use as “evidence” in a court case. Hence, we hear former federal prosecutors and intelligence people on the news making the distinction between “intelligence” and “evidence.”

This intelligence is almost never used when a related counter intelligence operation is ongoing. This can, unfortunately, tie the hands of prosecutors in a large case such as Mr. Mueller was investigating. Yet that does not equal the entire case being “over.” (Mr. Mueller's indictment of the Russian military intelligence members was based upon “intelligence.”)

The second factor is that federal prosecutors only indict when they know the evidence they have provides a higher level of certainty of a conviction than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” instruction a jury receives. This concept is essential for our understanding of what will be coming after the Mueller report. I've been told that a federal prosecutor needs to believe she/he has a 95% chance of getting a conviction to move forward.

There has been speculation -- from sources reliable and unreliable – that there were sealed filings in the court where the Mueller team filed indictments and other related documents. Based upon the sequence of those filings, some thought they might be indictments from Mueller. The fact that none were unsealed on Friday indicates they are not from Team Mueller.

However, recent court activities relating to Rick Gates, as well as Michael Flynn, indicate that investigations relating to the Trump crime family are on-going. As has been reported numerous times, Mr. Mueller began shifting cases to at least three other offices.

What does all this mean? I tend to listen closely to Nick Ackerman, when he is on MSNBC. I also have great respect for a retired investigator I speak with from time to time. Among other things, he helped put mobsters from the construction industry in the federal pen.

I like people who think outside the box. For example, can a president be indicted? The same part of the Constitution that addresses impeaching the president also covers the vice president and federal judges. Think Agnew. Consider a federal judge, Robert Collins, being incarcerated in 1991 before being impeached. No one is above the law.

Why no indictments for conspiring with the Russians? This can't be answered until Roger Stone's case is completed. But it may be due to the counter intelligence nature, as well as the 95% rule. Manafort's first trial showed that a single juror might disrupt justice. The Scooter Libby case showed that if one defendant refuses to tell the truth, even when facing conviction for lying, it makes it difficult to prosecute at the next level.

Yet, I was reminded that Patrick Fitzgerald openly called upon Congress to investigate VP Cheney's role per the Libby case. Justice requires coordination between those agencies and institutions tasked with insuring the rule of law.

Finally, I was reminded of the “Capone Rule.” Often, it is more of a “sure thing” to follow the money with mobsters, to get the sure conviction.

We don't know – yet – what the Mueller Report contains. It's unlikely we will, even if Barr shares his impressions with some in Congress today. Be patient. There is much more to follow.

H2O Man

March 22, 2019

Yesterday & Today

Yesterday, Trump kept growling about how he “didn't understand” how a man “who got no votes” got to “write a report.”

Keep that in mind as you process today's event.

Things are good. More later.

H2O Man

March 21, 2019


“There are people who take rumors and embellish them in a way that can be devastating. And this pollution has to be eradicated by people in our business as best we can.”
-- Bob Woodward

A fact: George Conway tweeted that Trump is spinning out of control, due to psychological impairment, and thus poses a threat to U.S. National security.

A rumor: the White House is attempting to spin this in a way that distracts from Conway's message. With the help from some surprisingly silly journalists, the White House is attempting to make it all about trouble in the Conway marriage.

The truth: let's think back to something I wrote about here in 2017. Kellyanne Conway has on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” at the time the show's hosts were beginning to comprehend how horrible of a human specimen Donald Trump actually is. Ms. Conway vigorously and obnoxiously defended Trump ….while the cameras were rolling.

During a commercial break, however, Conway stuck a finger in her throat, then began yelping about what a horrible man he was, and how darned awful it was to work for him. I noted then, based upon the hosts' later off-air reactions that day, that Conway was unlikely to ever be invited back.

In September of 2018, a letter signed “Anonymous” appeared in the New York Times. The letter, which generally described Trump as a horrible man who is darned awful to work for. The op-ed was authored by someone who describes him/herself as serving in a heroic manner to protect America from the mad king. Despite attempts to identify who wrote and delivered the piece, which appears to have been done by someone with a legal background, the White House has been silent about their effort.

(Note: It is possible the letter was authored by a lawyer, and delivered to the Times by that lawyer's spouse. Especially if that spouse is also a noted lawyer. That would give the author plausible deniability, as he/she could honestly say that he/she did not deliver such a letter to the editors of the paper.)

In early 2019, former White House aide Cliff Sims published a book, “Team of Vipers.” Among other things, he called Conway a “cartoon villain,” and described how she was the source of various leaks to journalists. One in particular was curious – Sims described Conway's efforts to deny what had taken place off-camera on Morning Joe when she trashed Trump. Gracious!

The truth is that Kellyanne was complaining to George over the weekend about how horrible a person Trump is, and how darned awful it is to work for him. She was reacting to a number of things, not limited to his splattering of sick tweets. George, who has read at least part of Dr. Bandy X Lee's 2017 book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” decided to take action.

This is not to say that there are not “issues” in the Conway marriage. They are both vile creatures. It's worth noting that before finding each other, George dated Laura Ingraham, and Kellyanne dated Fred Thompson. Eventually, Ann Coulter introduced George and Kellyanne. Also, although she lived in Trump Towers from 2001 to 2008, Kellyanne did not originally back Trump in 2016 – rather, she worked for Ted Cruz. Yikes!

So we are talking about two poison snakes. The reason that George attacked Trump this week in the manner that he did was entirely in response to what his wife told him over the weekend. Thus, there is absolutely no need – none whatsoever-- to go where Greg Gutfeld did yesterday on Fox's “The Five,” when he literally said he was thinking about the pair's sex life.

I apologize to any readers who were about to eat.

H2O Man

March 18, 2019

Trump's Tingling Legs

“We're a miserably violent species. But we're also a profoundly empathic, compassionate species. How do we make sense of this.....how do we understand the biology of it?”
Robert M. Sapolsky


Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biological sciences, neurology, and neurological sciences at Stanford University. About a year ago, the Council on Foreign Affairs published his article “This Is Your Brain on Nationalism.” See:


Recent events have resulted in my reviewing the important information that Robert Sapolsky reported on a year ago. And it's not just New Zealand – although that alone would suffice. I understand why Jimi Hendrix sang,” And up in the clouds I can imagine UFOs jumpin' themselves, Laughin' they sayin' Those people so uptight, they sure know how to make a mess .'” I know why my brother called tonight to say, “You should be happy. It just means we are a failed species, soon to disappear from the evolutionary tree of life.”

It's fascinating to see how human beings mentally process “others,” even though those are other human beings. I do not relate to that type of thinking. The vast majority of the human beings that support Trump - and the gunman in New Zealand – process this information in a primitive manner in their brains, a vestige of a response that may have played a significant role in human evolution long, long ago. As Carl Sagan pointed out in “Dragons of Eden,” our relatives seemed to die out (****except in the National Geographic DNA tests, which would surely surprise the white nationalists should it ever enter on their level of understanding).

The information Sapolsky presents should place Trump's recent comment about how “tough guys” love him, and might become “very bad” if there is an effort to remove him from the White House. I know that some are questioning if he was aware of what he was actually saying, or just rambling on in confusion. I think he knew exactly what he was saying. I think he has been waiting for a time to fit that message in.

I don't think I'm alone in having questioned if republicans are “fully human.” Sapolsky's studies say that yes, they are anatomically human, and behave in a manner that has been common in our species. Yet they are not “fully human,” in the potential described by enlightened people throughout history.. Their brains are functioning at a fight-or-flight level, minus the flight. When confronted with the image of someone outside of their herd, they become uncomfortable. Edgy. Anxious. Afraid. None of this allows much space for rational thinking.

These are robots, in a very real sense, that aren't programmed to have empathy when they see an “other.” They are entirely comfortable with having homeless brown-skinned people from Central America being confronted by the military when they try to enter the United States. They are good with putting little children in metal cages.

Trump is openly calling on those among these herds to be prepared to use violence to protect him if he is legally evicted from the White House. This call for sedition is aimed at a specific audience. He's not speaking to black people. Or brown-skinned Americans. Not Asian-Americans, or Native Americans. No, he's talking to white nationalists. The type that live in a van and send pipe bombs to Democratic leaders. The type that murder “others” in their house of worship. The type that makes posters of Rep. Omar with the Twin Towers, and make the unprecedented number of death threats against her.

In his 1973 book, “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness,” Erich Fromm noted the danger of when a malignant narcissist – his term of sociopathy – leads those who views “others” in the manner described by Sapolsky. That's where we are today. And while white nationalism isn't the only problem we face at this time, it sure as hell ranks at the top for immediate threats.

The good news is that Sapolsky and Fromm's works show that many of us have brains that function on a higher level. That the human potential isn't limited to fear, hatred, and violence. These are, in fact, the very things that we should consciously avoid. Our priority is to civilize this country, in which incivility is all too common. That doesn't mean that we are okay with the actions of the Trump supporters. Or that we accept that type of ill-mannered behaviors.

At this time, the Democratic Party – though imperfect – offers the best options for civilizing our society. We need to do that, before we point fingers at other lands. It's a difficult, long term process, although it presents far less pain and suffering than any alternative. And it is an option that presents itself to us each and every day.

H2O Man

March 10, 2019

Changing Times

“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall ….”
Bob Dylan; The Times They Are A-Changin'

There is an interesting model that identifies three ranges of what can be called the “group consciousness” of humanity throughout our rather brief existence of a million-plus years on Earth. A person can, of course, find examples that do not fit neatly within the model. Yet it is worthy of our consideration, perhaps especially in the context of the extreme divisions within groups we are witnessing today.

In the early phase, generally when humans engaged in “hunting and gathering” to survive, individuals were, of course, conscious. But the groups existed, no matter what continent they inhabited, in what is referred to as “mythological consciousness.” More, as has been documented by experts such as Joseph Campbell, many of the mythologies share common themes and expressions.

This changed – slowly in real time – with the advent of horticulture and especially agriculture. Humanity then entered a phase known as “theological consciousness.” It is, I think, important to view this as a new layer of consciousness, not unlike that which our ancestors' experienced long ago as the brain grew and added new capacities. The myths of the past became more formalized when script was introduced, which is an extremely important factor.

Clearly, not all of the Earth's peoples entered the new level of consciousness at the same time. There tended to be the growth of this new layer near the equator, in different parts of the world. This, of course, had the potential to create tensions and conflicts with differing groups.

The third phase comes into play around the time of the industrial revolution. It created within the groups experiencing this what is known as “ideological consciousness.” It is also connected to the changes in communications created by the printing press. The ideologies of these groups – which are a new layer – were rooted in the myths and theologies of the past. But without question, these ideologies created great tensions and conflicts within the human populations.

Today, with advances in technology such as the internet, there is a new level of consciousness coming into being. It has the positive potential of allowing individuals to appreciate that we are all human beings, taking part in the eternity of “time,” here on Earth. Within this context, we have the ability to recognize and rationally confront the problems associated with human life. These include everything from climate change to poverty.

There is also a very negative potential …..Trump's election is profound evidence of this. One might consider it the result of the collective negative forces of some of the myths, theologies, and ideologies of the past, gurgling up from the collective unconscious human energies.

I'd like to see a specific group of human beings, known collectively as the Democratic Party that exists within the United States, avoid the pitfalls that are associated with that negative potential. This doesn't mean that we all will agree with every other Democrat on every single issue. But it does require that we have the maturity to discuss (and even debate) isues rationally, without dismissing or demonizing those who may honestly and sincerely disagree with us …..even on those issues that have the potential to strike an emotional nerve that is connected to the myths, theologies, and/or ideologies that are important to us.

Let me give but one example. There are a variety of Democrats in the House and Senate who have been elected to represent us. And in 2020, there will be elections ranging from local to state to the national level. Even for president. I would suggest that in the primary season, we focus on rational discussions and debates, without attacking those who think differently than we as individuals do. And once a primary is concluded, we join together and work hard to elect all the Democratic Party's candidates. I can't identify a better option than this.

H2O Man

March 6, 2019

RICO Slobby

Every so often, it can be useful to update things that were discussed before. In this instance, I'm looking back almost two years. On Sunday, March 26, 2017, I posted an essay titled “RICO Suave” on DU:GD. In this essay, I noted that my favorite source of information on the Trump-Russian scandal, Malcolm Nance, had said the FBI was conducting a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) investigation.


We have heard numerous opinions on if a sitting president can be indicted. This is unsettled law. However, in the 1990s, it was determined that a sitting president could be forced to defend civil charges. This is important, because RICO charges can include both criminal and civil charges.

I had assumed at the time that James Comey was in charge of the investigation that would lead to RICO charges. A few weeks later, I anticipated that it would be charged by Mr. Mueller. Even after Mr. Mueller handed off the Michael Cohen business to the Southern District of New York, I figured that Mr. Mueller would handle the RICO bit.

A number of people – including guests on MSNBC and CNN – kept saying the SDNY was actually more of a threat to Trump than Mr. Mueller. This included several people that I have a lot of respect for. Being rather dull-witted myself, I decided to ask a few people with far greater insight than myself about why the SDNY was more of a threat?

Their answers, as best as I understood them, were three-fold. First, top prosecutors tend to charge and try those cases that they are very confident they will win. Those charges are not always for the exact crimes they had investigated. A prime example of this was Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of possible violations of the Intelligence Identities Protect Act in the Plame scandal. He ended up prosecuting Scooter Libby on charges of perjury, obstructing justice, and lying to the FBI and grand jury.

I had hoped there would be more charges. Mr. Fitzgerald had, for example, suggested that Congress investigate VP Cheney's role. However, as one of those smarter-than-me people told me, Libby ended up a convicted felon, and Cheney was left a toothless old dog. (Curious that Trump pardoned Scooter.)

The SDNY will have a much easier time prosecuting the Trump “family business” on RICO than Mr. Mueller could have proven, beyond an ill-defined “reasonable doubt,” Trump's direct participation in conspiring with Russia. More, the SDNY will include the Trump business relations with Russian interests. This allows them to reach the goal of charging all of those involved. It will include things that were done before Trump entered the republican primaries, the entire campaign, the transition, and the corruption since Trump took office.

It is most likely that Trump will be listed as an unindicted co-conspirator on the criminal charges, and faced with civil charges. However, I was told that the SDNY might actually try indicting Trump. If so, it would likely be sealed until he is removed from office.

Finally, I was told that while Trump is accurately being described as behaving as a mob boss, there were two important things to keep in mind: He's not that bright. Trump had no real understanding of what the powers and responsibilities of the presidency included when he decided to run. And second, he's a fucking slob in all he does, who anticipates everyone else has to clean up his messes.

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