Trump Impeachment: A Week in Review

Minneapolis 3/5/18 Edition –  News of the past week featured President Trump’s new “trade war” initiative – planned tariffs for steel and aluminum – and the unveiling of “Post-Weinstein Hollywood” – as represented by the least watched Oscars night ever, after the downfall of the once-dominant producer.  On the world stage – Xi Jinping, China’s leader, unveiled his clear agenda – fait accompli might be more accurate -- to establish himself as – to quote an approving President Trump: China’s “President for Life.”  Wide spread concern has been voiced over both this lurch towards a world dominated by authoritarian strongmen, and President Trump’s obvious approval of the trend.  Impeachment news appeared to be dominated by the downgraded security clearance of President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.  However, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “expanded fishing expedition” – as characterized by the DRUDGE REPORT – could be the most significant development.  The main issue is the possible existence of quid pro quo deals involving the United Arab Emiratis, the Trump administration, and intermediaries associated with President Trump.  George Nader, a U.S. citizen with a long history of Middle East business interests and activity, is reported to have been questioned by Mueller’s team.  The Washington Post reported officials of four countries privately discussed ways to manipulate Jared Kushner, based on both his inexperience and apparent quest to refinance his business interests. 

The Mueller Investigation  

A recent Drudge Report link: "MUELLER EXPANDS FISHING EXPEDITION" -- may be a right wing spin-blurb… but it sent readers of whatever political persuasion to a major NY Times article reporting on what appears to be a significant new development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.  The article reports U.S. citizen George Nader was questioned by the Mueller team in connection with "...possible attempts by the [United Arab] Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign."   The article continues, citing unnamed sources: "The investigators have also asked about Mr. Nader’s role in White House policymaking, those people said, suggesting that the special counsel investigation has broadened beyond Russian election meddling to include Emirati influence on the Trump administration. The focus on Mr. Nader could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era."  Mr. Nader reportedly visited the Trump White House frequently in early 2017.  At the time of the inauguration Mr. Nader met Elliot Broidy, a top Trump fund raiser, who later reportedly met with President Trump in the Oval Office, suggesting the President should meet with Crown Prince Mohammed, the U.A.E. "de facto ruler" at a location outside the White House.  Mr. Nader introduced Mr. Broidy to Crown Prince Mohammed; Mr. Broidy's company obtained contracts with the U.A.E. worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the wake of Jared Kushner's downgraded security clearance, the Washington Post reports officials of four governments -- the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico -- privately discussed ways to manipulate him "by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter."  Such discussions are not unusual in themselves.  However, the complexity of Mr. Kushner's situation, and a history of lapses in his obligations to disclose meetings and potential conflicts point to possible legal trouble from the Mueller investigation.  The need for Kushner's company to refinance in 2019 a New York building bought in 2007 for $1.8 billion -- at the height of a real estate boom -- is a complicating factor.  Several efforts at refinancing that property have reportedly fallen through, including efforts to attract foreign investors.

National Security expert Marcy Wheeler opines in the NY Times Jared Kushner could be in jeopardy of facing the same charge brought against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the 13 Russian nationals recently indicted: “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”  Manafort's associate, Richard Gates, pled guilty to the same charge.  The threat to Kushner is that his multiple revisions to required disclosures suggest that his actions may have "prevented the United States government from protecting our politics from undisclosed outside influence."

Essay – Loathing motivates more than loyalty -- You could ALMOST skip reading the whole disturbing, depressing commentary/analysis offered up by NY Times columnist Thomas Edsall if you just let the first sentence (and paragraph) really soak in -- here it is: "Hostility to the opposition party and its candidates has now reached a level where loathing motivates voters more than loyalty."  HOWEVER... the additional information and insight provided in this article (about 2,300 words) is so great that it is simply a must-read -- any attempt at summary would be a disservice.  Both the insights and conclusions are dangerous to ignore.  The polarization documented is highly relevant to the issue of impeachment.

Opinion poll – GOP and Trump face midterm election trouble-- A recent USA Today poll signals midterm election trouble for Republicans and Trump supporters.  60% of those surveyed disapprove of Trump's performance, and they are more likely by 47% to 32% to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress.  Only 27% have a favorable opinion of the Republican party, while 60% have an unfavorable opinion; 75% disapprove of the Republican-controlled Congress.

College scene – Controversial impeachment course -- Fox San Diego reports a one weekend, one credit San Diego State University course is being offered, titled "Trump: Impeachment, Removal or Conviction?"  The school says it is being offered through the College of Extended Studies, and is not paid for with taxpayer dollars.  Reporting on the course first appeared on Campus Reform, a web site purporting to "expose liberal bias on America's campuses."

Tom Steyer’s ongoing “Need To Impeach” campaign -- California hedge fund billionaire and major Democratic donor Tom Steyer is reported to be readying the next phase of his "Need to Impeach" campaign -- live events across the country.  The Sacramento Bee reports:  "The next phase is focused on educating people across the country, on both sides of the aisle, to get them informed about the need to impeach," said Erik Olvera, a Steyer spokesman. "We need Republican support to move forward with impeachment."

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