Trump Offering Jobs for Officials’ Silence?
Are we witnessing an in-house quid pro quo?
We are being treated to perhaps the most brazen and blatant display of political corruption that this nation-state has ever experienced. Neither Nixon’s Watergate Scandal, Reagan’s Iran Contra Affair, Warren G. Harding’s Teapot Dome Scandal, nor even the thoroughly corrupt administration of Ulysses S. Grant — none of these past political and personal dances with the devil even come close to the exquisite professional and personal depravity, or the bottomless moral turpitude which define this current Trump regime, the Republican Party, and all of their sycophantic followers and enablers.
It is being widely reported that Donald Trump has promoted a top aide to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to a top level position just weeks following his defiance of a House of Representatives’ subpoena to appear and testify before its intelligence committee.
Specifically, Trump has appointed Robert Blair as the “Special Representative for International Telecommunications Policy,” a job which tasks him to “promote a secure and reliable global telecommunications system,” according to Politico.
He will support the Administration’s 5G efforts led by the Assistant to the President for Economy Policy, Larry Kudlow. Mr. Blair will continue to serve as Assistant to the President and the Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff.
The linchpin of this story, as intimated above, is Blair’s flat-out refusal to appear at a November 4 deposition meant to delve into his knowledge of Trump’s order which withheld military assistance from Ukraine in its ongoing resistance to Russia’s invasion and attempted annexation of its territories. Congress suspects that Blair has “hard evidence” of Trump’s efforts to bribe, extort, shakedown, or otherwise force the Ukrainian government into at least announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for the already congressionally-approved military aid. Such an “announcement” would, of course, taint and paint Biden as a common political criminal, and give Trump an advantage over Biden in the upcoming presidential election
According to Salon.com, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, (D-CA), said in a closed meeting that,
[S]ome of that evidence has revealed that Mr. Blair was a percipient witness to the President’s misconduct. We can only infer, therefore, that the White House’s effort to block Mr. Blair from testifying is to prevent the committees from learning additional evidence of Presidential misconduct and that Mr. BIair’s testimony would corroborate and confirm other witnesses’ accounts of such misconduct, including Mr. Mulvaney’s admission from the White House Briefing Room that the Ukraine military aid was frozen by the President in order to pressure Ukraine into initiating investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
Blair, of course, is only one of the Trump ministers whose testimony has been blocked and is now embroiled in contentious litigation in the federal courts. Among the other potential witnesses are Mulvaney himself; former national security adviser John Bolton and Office of Management and Budget associate director Michael Duffey.
Negotiations between House Democrats and Senate Republicans over the rules of an impeachment trial, including, especially, whether or not witnesses will be called to testify and key documents produced, are ongoing and may soon yield positive results in terms of clearing up these deliberate presidential-size logjams.
In the trial of President Clinton [in 1999], the House Managers were permitted to call witnesses, and it is clear that the Senate should hear testimony of witnesses in this trial as well, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week.
I propose, pursuant to our rules, that the Chief Justice on behalf of the Senate issue subpoenas for testimony by the following witnesses with direct knowledge of Administration decisions regarding the delay in security assistance funds to the government of Ukraine and the requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine.
This is a fascinating request on the part of Schumer. If the Chief Justice himself, John Roberts, actually issues subpoenae on behalf of Congress, and even though the Senate Republicans may overrule them, the action by the Chief Justice alone then obviates even the possibility of any appeal to the Supreme Court by the Republicans.
It must also be noted that other than officially serving as the “presiding officer” over an impeachment trial in the Senate, the Constitution neither provides for nor defines any other role or function for the Chief Justice individually or the Supreme Court as a whole. And, just exactly what “presiding officer” means beyond making perfunctory pronouncements and innocuous procedural rulings was never questioned, let alone tested or challenged during either of the only two previous presidential impeachment trials (Clinton, 1998; Johnson, 1868).
Again, Trump’s impeachment, of course, was precipitated by his regime’s decision to withhold $391 million in military aid to Ukraine and its simultaneous demand that Ukraine announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and the hacking of Democratic Party computers in 2016.
No evidence whatever that Biden committed any crime in Ukraine has been forthcoming. But that has not stopped Trump and his minions from repeatedly, incessantly promoting half-baked right-wing conspiracy theories, allegations and accusations that Biden had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired specifically and purposely to protect his son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian natural gas company at the time.
Likewise, that Ukraine — and not Russia — interfered in the 2016 presidential election is equally as baseless as the Biden-as-criminal trope.
Actually, what is going on here is really quite simple: Trump understands that he absolutely must win “re-election” in order to stay out of prison. And he is willing to do anything and everything to accomplish that goal.
If that means bribing government officials who know the extent — the width, height and depth — of his criminality, with high-falutin’ but meaningless jobs and titles, well, then so be it.
Or…. think of this move as Trump’s domestic or in-house version of a quid pro quo.