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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

One prominent figure neither taken into custody nor charged with conspiring against United States this week was Hillary Clinton—or “Crooked Hillary,” if you follow President Trump’s frenzied tweetstorms.

This was a big disappointment to the embattled chief executive. The impending arrest of his Russia-friendly campaign manager Paul Manafort drove Trump up the wall. “There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton,” he tweeted “and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

Never mind that the only reason for hiring so compromised a figure as Manafort to begin with appeared to be his Moscow connections. White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders contended that the “real Russia scandal” was that the “Clinton campaign paid for the fake Russia dossier, then lied about it & covered it up.” In fact, Mother Jones’ October 2016 news story revealing the dossier’s existence stated that Democrats sponsored it. So what?

Never mind too that a guilty plea entered by Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos proves one thing: scant weeks after Democratic National Committee emails were stolen in March 2016, a Russian operative posing as Vladimir Putin’s niece was dangling them in front of the Trump campaign. And nobody notified the FBI.

It’s like an episode out of the old “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoons featuring Boris and Natasha, Soviet spies. “Must get moose and squirrel!”

Papadapoulous’s guilty plea also confirmed, for those of you keeping score at home, yet another of the “dodgy dossier’s” allegations about Russian efforts to elect Trump: collusion over stolen communications.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during a July 2016 news conference. Different emails, I know. There’s no evidence anybody hacked Hillary’s private messages. Even so, if Trump’s antics looked unseemly then, they look worse now. Anyway, think about it: to buy the Trump/Sanders/Fox News alibi, it’s necessary to believe that Crooked Hillary conspired with British sleuth Christopher Steele and the Kremlin to throw the election to Trump himself. I know the woman is devious, but that’s taking it awfully far.

Of course, this is nothing but gorilla dust, to use the technical term—chaff posturing apes fling into in the air to confuse rival primates. They also tear down trees, beat their chests, hoot and jump up and down. Anything to avoid a real fight. Or in Trump’s case, to confuse the 1/3 of voters enchanted by his cult of personality.

Another thing to keep in mind: “Crooked Hillary” has been serving this function for Republicans since about 1994, aided and abetted by much of the national news media. New to political journalism, I was naïve enough to be shocked when I realized that an ABC News “Nightline” broadcast doctored a video clip to make the then-First Lady appear to deny doing legal work for a failed Arkansas Savings and Loan.

“No wonder,” Jeff Greenfield exclaimed “the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster’s office when he killed himself.” Suspicious, right? But only if you didn’t know that Hillary’s forthright statement that “I was what we called the billing attorney” had been electronically deleted. It also helped to not understand that an attorney’s death doesn’t empower police to rummage through client files. Who would entrust sensitive documents to a lawyer if they could? Hence no cause for worry existed.

Because it sounded fishy to me, I cross-checked the original videotape of the First Lady’s press conference. Uh-oh. Nevertheless, the fake quote appeared everywhere in the national news media, sparking widespread speculation that Crooked Hillary would soon be indicted. Why the Clinton White House never confronted this monkey business, I never understood. Those responsible should have been run out of journalism.  Too late now. Entire TV networks now practice such dark arts daily.

Every Crooked Hillary frenzy I’ve encountered since has followed the same pattern: correct the errors and fill in the blanks, and the scandal evaporates. Whether you’d want her to be your president or even your neighbor, Hillary Clinton is a cautious, intelligent politician who colors inside the lines—even if those lines are often drawn with legalistic exactitude.

Consider great uranium mining scandal currently roiling Fox News. First, it’s closer to 2%, not 20% of US capacity of low grade (i.e. non-weapons grade) ore. Second, it can’t be exported. Third, there’s zero evidence Secretary Clinton even knew about the deal, much less strong-armed eight other agencies into approving it. Fourth, Canadian mining executives who’d donated generously to the Clinton Foundation had sold their shares years earlier, and had nothing to gain.

In short, another Crooked Hillary nothingburger. She’ll never run again, but this is exactly how things are done in authoritarian countries like, well, Russia. You oppose the strongman, first they smear you, and then they throw you in jail. But this is still the United States of America.


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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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