|Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, and Michael Cohen|
In perhaps the worst 24-hour period for the presidency in U.S. history, the Donald Trump administration yesterday was laid bare as a hothouse for grifters. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of financial crimes, and the president's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, reached a plea deal in which he admitted to discussing or making hush payments to two women who alleged they had extramarital affairs with candidate Trump. Cohen stated that he acted at the "direction of the candidate" for "the principal purpose of influencing the [2016 presidential] election" -- indicating Trump engineered a federal crime, a violation of campaign-finance laws.
No one should be surprised that this whole sordid tale has tentacles that reach Alabama, which often has been Ground Zero for conservative-driven corruption for more than 20 years -- dating at least to Karl Rove's effort to turn the Alabama Supreme Court over to the GOP in 1994.
How bad was Donald Trump's Tuesday? Perhaps no one put it more succinctly than U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who stated on Twitter:
White House looks increasingly like a criminal enterprise with the convictions today of President Trump’s former campaign manager and personal lawyer—and the inclusion of the President as an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator in the Cohen plea agreement.
What about Alabama ties to this sleazefest? Let's start with reports that Trump is enraged at Rudy Giuliani for failing to accept an attorney-general appointment, causing former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to take the job and leading (in Trump's mind) to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. From a report at mediate.com:
As Robert Mueller‘s investigation continues to loom over the White House, a new report suggests that President Donald Trump is blaming Rudy Giuliani for allowing the Russia probe to become such a headache for his administration.
Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman reports that several Trump administration officials have told him that the president has become increasingly panicked over the Mueller probe, resulting in an increased frequency of his tweetstorms on the subject. One adviser says that recent developments have especially caused Trump to rage more and more over Jeff Sessions‘ recusal from investigations on Russia.
Giuliani’s performances on television have been decidedly mixed since coming on board as the president’s attorney. Despite that, however, Trump — according to this new report — thinks Giuliani would have been effective in the attorney general role that he offered the former New York mayor.
From Vanity Fair:
According to a person to whom the conversation was described, Trump loudly said to his lawyer: “It’s your fault! I offered you attorney general, but you insisted on being secretary of state. Had I picked you, none of this would be happening.” (The White House declined to comment.)
As for Manafort, Alabama political insider Jill Simpson said his ties to the state go back at least 12 years and efforts to win a U.S. Air Force refueling-tanker contract for European interests with ties to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Among the Alabama conservative heavyweights involved in that effort were former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, former Gov. Bob Riley, and former Business Council of Alabama president Bill Canary. Writes Simpson, on her Facebook page:
I have been after Manafort's bunch since I first came forward in fall of 2006, with how his firm with Rick Davis and the Alabama Gang ( the Riley and Sessions bunch) were working to sell our EADS refueling tanker to Putin through Oleg Deripaska. In 2008 Wayne Madsen helped me as an opposition researcher to get out the story of what they we're doing, and, folks, we are never letting up.
Yesterday's events could lead to more Alabama-related news, related to Chattanooga money man Franklin Haney and his efforts, with help from Michael Cohen, to get a stalled nuclear reactor off the ground in north Alabama. Writes Simpson:
I am hopeful that this results in Cohen telling on everyone involved in the nuclear deal in Scottsboro, Alabama. I am hopeful we learn how the Riley-Sessions Republican money man, Franklin Haney -- working for the Alabama Gang Crime Family -- tried to give Cohen $10 Million to get $5 billion from the U.S. government. Plus, Cohen could tell how the idiots tried to sell access to the facility to Qatar, so that Qatar could become a full-blown nuclear power.
Many of us in the Alabama Progressive Democratic Resistance have spent years tracking Cohen's buddy, Felix Sater, and his deals with AmCham Russia -- which is tied to the Riley-Session deals with Oleg Deripaska and EADS.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and the whole legislative gang running for national office from Alabama . . . well, we have been watching as they have tried to help put this nuclear-power plant deal through. One has to wonder why state attorney general Steve Marshall is not investigating that matter?
It's possible that no American has lived through a news cycle quite like the one we saw unfold yesterday. Charles P. Pierce, of Esquire, provides perspective:
Nobody can deny that this already is the single most awesome infrastructure week ever.
For a long moment on Tuesday afternoon, the Deputy Finance Director of the Republican National Committee (Michael Cohen), and the president*'s longtime fixer, was copping a plea; the president*'s former campaign manager was getting slugged for bank fraud; the president* himself was off to another wankfest, this time in West Virginia; and the folks at Hardball went to the electric Twitter machine and told us that Omarosa has another secret audiotape to reveal on that show Tuesday night.
I lived through Watergate. I lived through the Saturday Night Massacre, when it looked like the Constitution was being barbecued over an open flame. There never was anything like this.