Goodby To The Rule Of Law

It’s all quid pro quo, sleazy self-interest and graft in Trump’s swamp. The daily revelations–we’ve just learned that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been in business with Putin’s son-in-law, a connection that he somehow failed to disclose during his confirmation hearings– tend to obscure the more pedestrian varieties of corruption and self-dealing that continue unabated while we are distracted by the Russian investigation and tweets from our embarrassing ignoramus-in-chief.

Case in point: Talking Points Memo had a recent article about AT&T’s planned acquisition of Time Warner for Eighty-six billion dollars. The deal is awaiting regulatory approval.

AT&T needs the Justice Department’s approval for that deal. Normally, that decision would be housed off at the Antitrust Division at the Justice Department. But no one thinks that’s how it works in the Trump Administration. AT&T needs Donald Trump’s sign off, possibly mediated through the hand of Jeff Sessions but maybe not. Indeed, there has already been quite a bit of concern on Capitol Hill that Trump would try to hold up the AT&T deal as a way to exert pressure on Time Warner.

Time Warner owns CNN, and we all know how fond President Belligerent is of “fake news” CNN. According to various sources, the White House has already put out word that it wants to condition approval of the merger proposal on AT&T’s willingness to pressure CNN to “improve” its coverage of the President.

When CNN broke the news about the imminence of a Mueller indictment, Roger Stone–a close friend of Donald Trump’s– went on a Twitter tirade so obscene that it got his Twitter account suspended. One Tweet was both specific and damning.

When AT&T aquires Time Warner the house cleaning at CNN of human excrement like @donlemon @jaketapper & dumbfuck @ananavarro will be swift

As Josh Marshall’s TPM article noted,

Obviously, Roger Stone can rant and wish all he wants. He was in a splutter and a rage. How can he know what AT&T is going to do? But let’s go back to one more thing we know. Roger Stone still regularly talks to President Trump. Is that what President Trump told Stone? That AT&T promised they’ll ‘clean house’ at CNN?

At this point, the quid pro quo is still hypothetical. But given what we know of Trump, his family, his business partners and professional associates (Paul Manafort, et al), the people he has chosen for his cabinet–it is all too plausible.

This is the way business is conducted in banana republics and corrupt, authoritarian regimes.

The essential element of the rule of law is that the same rules apply to everyone– governors and governed alike– that no one is above the law. Even under the most favorable analysis of Donald Trump’s business dealings, it would be hard to miss his disdain for the rules, his contempt for the legal system, and his conviction that neither applies to him.

Misuse of the power of the state–abuse of governmental authority–is an impeachable offense. One of the charges against Nixon involved his (mis)use of the IRS to punish personal enemies. If Trump does indeed allow the AT&T merger in return for a promise to eviscerate CNN’s independent coverage of the Administration, it would be a “high crime” for which impeachment is appropriate.

The difference, of course, is that for the Republicans who censured Nixon,  duty to country outweighed partisanship. The only thing today’s GOP has in common with that era’s Republican Party is the name.


  1. If we are lucky, Mueller and his team will take down Trump and everyone close to him.

    Then we citizens need to start going after members of Congress who have been selling us out for their own personal gain. Of course, that would mean that our sources of news would have to risk their own careers to really expose the back door deals the oligarchs have been making with Congress for decades.

    I don’t know if the answer is to elect more women into state legislatures and congress, but the numbers of women interested in running for office is ramping up. We are sick of men putting their own personal greed ahead of the welfare of those they represent. Some elected women will turn on their constituents ( as we witness here in Indiana with Jackie Walorski), but I believe that most women will do the right thing and put their consituents first. The nurturing, mothering instinct in us will hopefully prevail.

  2. Corruption did not start with Trump and his swamp creatures, but it has been exposed for all to see. Now, if we can just get the majority of our fellow citizens to take their blinders off we may be able to clean up the country. Such a cleaning will take more than one man named Mueller. It will take every one of us.

    Grab your mops, buckets, rags and Spic n Span. Let us all demand honesty and morality from ourselves and every institution.

  3. “…possibly mediated through the hand of….but maybe not…” has become the “rule of law” of this current administration. The buck passing and changing rules in mid-action of any and all issues to better the Republican control seems to be unaware of any law, rule, ordinance, regulation or adherence to the Constitution is the general course of action today in the White House.

    Back to Goldsmith in 1992; his first order to all City employees was to destroy all files and paperwork from the Hudnut administration and huge trash bins were rolled into all offices to accomplish this order. His second order to all City employees was to ignore all laws, rules and ordinances and regulations because they can be changed…this order was also followed by MOST employees but not all and we never saw a change in laws, rules, ordinances or regulations. Is any of this familiar to any of you today?

    “The only thing today’s GOP has in common with that (Nixon) era’s Republican Party is the name.” Goldsmith’s administration was a microcosm of the Nixon administration and a forerunner (or practice run) of the current Trump administration and with Pence riding shotgun (NO pun intended); you can bet your last dollar that there are Goldsmith cronies still working here in Indiana and have gone with Pence to the White House. The GOP has gradually wormed their ways and elected Congressional members into full control; were we “asleep at the switch”? “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”

    Trump has himself to blame for the Russia connection investigations; his own big mouth praising Putin and Russia, asking Russia to find those missing Hillary E-mails, called national attention to his treasonous thoughts and beliefs throughout his campaign…and his lying denials after being elected drew more national and, fortunately, governmental attention. Robert Mueller is indeed working much slower than any of us like but…remember the story and the tortoise and the hare and who won that race.

  4. As per Nancy, “Some elected women will turn on their constituents ( as we witness here in Indiana with Jackie Walorski), but I believe that most women will do the right thing and put their consituents first.”

    I would give my mother and my sisters a chance at governing, and I would predict, not believe, that they would do so as well as the best of men. But after we have had a hundred years of experience observing as many or more women as men in tempting elected positions (according to legend, it was Eve who first caved to the serpent’s lobbying), which should happen but likely won’t, we might then have enough data to make that call and enter a “belief transaction” with the idea that women are more trustworthy than men.

    My prediction is that the data would reveal the two animals about even. My caution in that regard is that nothing, not even mothers, should be trusted to the level of “belief”. It is belief that gets us all into trouble, and never what we believe; the idea being to JUST NOT BELIEVE. Viva escepticismo!

  5. Larry,

    At a Ready to Run Indiana conference I attended a couple weeks ago in Indy one of the speakers or panelists spoke of a study to find out why people run for office. The results showed that women run because they want to improve our lives and men run because they want to be somebody important. I cannot recall the study that was referenced, but I can attest to this being the case between men and women at my places of employment.

  6. “The difference, of course, is that for the Republicans who censured Nixon,  duty to country outweighed partisanship. The only thing today’s GOP has in common with that era’s Republican Party is the name.”

    Sheila, your last sentence sums the key to this whole catastrophe up. We will rise or fall based on what these fools do or not do and what we as a people do in response to it. If they fail to act, which seems to be their central predilection in regard to just about everything, then it’s going to be up to act. I think that the Perhaps what Tom Steyer has started will be a major component.

    Otherwise what holds this country together will be ripped asunder and might not be repairable to the degree that we will need to remain a functioning democracy following what was set down in 1787 without tremendous difficulty. Wherever we end up because of Trump will be our starting point in rebuilding and the further off top dead center it will be the worse it will be. This is unknown territory for us all and their is no instruction manual for it.

  7. “The essential element of the rule of law is that the same rules apply to everyone– governors and governed alike– that no one is above the law”.

    Ironically, it was the fact that millions of disaffected voters didn’t believe this was the case anyway that got 45 elected in the first place. In their view he’s just finishing off a corrupt system that is unfair, inequitable and possibly even necessary.

    In the meantime the capitalist cronies in the business sector are exploiting the flood of cheap capital and rising stock prices provided by loose Fed policies to do little to create jobs. All they’re doing is gobbling up competitors and buying back stock, which only increases the grip the plutocrats have on the people’s government.

    If it’s not proposterous to compare the US to a banana republic then it’s also not out of line to include revolution in the discussion.

  8. If AT&T has been asked to purge CNN in return for the Administration’s blessings on this deal, it would be nice to see them emerge from a meeting with those pressuring them, go to a podium, and call out the corruption publicly.

  9. There still remains a lot of Quicksand in the DC swamp and the inexperienced people Trump has surrounded himself with are starting to wonder into it finding themselves trapped, and their fellow Trumpsters are not be willing to wade in to save them of even throw them a life line, fearful they to may get dragged it themselves.

  10. Yes, the Trump administration is driving us to third-world government. Marx predicted it would happen. I wrote a book about it. Every worthwhile, un-compromised writer and journalist wrote and talked about it…for YEARS. Still, 47% of our registered electorate stayed home on election day and 30% remain unregistered.

    Until those latter two numbers, change, nothing in Washington will change either. My hope is that we are still allowed to have elections in 2018 and 2020.

  11. Marv,

    Well, if we have our elections suspended by our dictator, I guess it will be: “See you at the barricades.”

  12. Tom,

    “This is unknown territory for us all and there is no instruction manual for it.”

    Yes, there is.

    We’re fighting a VIRAL PANDEMIC of HATRED originating out of the U.S. You don’t fight serial killers or diseases from behind. You have to get AHEAD of them both. That’s why we have the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).

    Both of the above organization fight viruses, but not the HATRED MEME OR VIRUS. However, there’s a strong similarity in SUCCESSFULLY treating the NEW STRAIN of what might be called the HITLER VIRUS. We have done it, over and over.

    “We’ve been able to continually stay ahead of the PUCK.” But you have to see it. It moves sub-surface like all viruses.

    The Germans with the help of their U-boats were winning W.W. II, until the perfection of SONAR. After that, it was downhill for them all the way to the end.


  13. Patrick says it well. The world has more capital than it has opportunities for investment, and I am not surprised. With free money to Wall Street provided by the Fed at the expense of savers who are getting virtually no interest on their savings (and thus further suppressing already tepid aggregate demand and making elders work past retirement age), with truckloads of hidden capital in overseas venues, with chump change tax assessments on multinationals (see Apple and others) via a law firm in Bermuda which arranges for layers of trustees shell corporations around the globe, with cosmetic “home offices” sited where taxes are least, with corporate rights to keep overseas profits overseas and not subject to taxation until repatriated (and even so at a negotiable rate) etc. etc. etc.
    I don’t think that the usual arguments that we have a global marketplace and an economy in transition in this developing Information Age are excuses for setting up and literally funding the corporate world for the takeover of America. However “informed” we are, there remains the need to produce goods and services in the real economy irrespective of fears of automation or outsourcing in the process, especially with an increase in both our domestic and the world’s population, and especially in Africa.
    As I have written elsewhere, if Trump thinks we need a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country, just wait until he has 100 or 200 million Africans due to arrive circa 2030 – 2050 at Ellis Island and elsewhere up and down our Atlantic coast, We need more serious planning with a view toward adoption of policies that take into consideration overpopulation, automation, the environment, and other such areas in a world where the planet’s resources are not matching our consumption of them, irrespective of how much capital is floating around, and along with less consideration of the petty political and economic arguments put forth by politicians who now serve not the people who elected them but rather myopic merchants of greed. When? Now.

  14. Vernon and Patrick,

    “Marv….Well, if we have our elections suspended by our dictator, I guess it will be: “See you at the barricades.”

    Right. But I would suggest raising the barricades RIGHT NOW against the SUB-SURFACE HATRED.

    For example, NETS were used as barricades to block SUBMARINES from entering strategic harbors during W.W. II.

  15. Gerald,

    “………..When? Now.”

    You’re right. We have to move right now with, hopefully, A PEACEFUL RE-ACTIVE BLITZKRIEG. It’s time to SWARM.

  16. OMG,

    If we’re talking about taking action, I believe advanced age (fortunately, I’m in good health the last time I checked) is a plus from my way of thinking. At one time, when my long-time companion was ill, I feared retaliation, that’s not the case now; Barbara passed away eight years ago.

    As far I can see it, speaking only for myself, FEAR OF RETALIATION is a non-factor. I’m not scared to “stick my neck out.” There are probably others too. Someone has to do it, before it is too late. So to me age is a +.

  17. To start with here’s an NPR article about how the country got propagandized enough to elect a President who’s against tradition American values.

    The bottom line is that most groups feel discriminated against, not news, but joining that now is the group white voters without a college education.

    In that group there are some very interesting demographics. A clear majority feel that discrimination is inflicted on the group but not on them personally and way more Republicans feel the group is discrinated against than Democrats.

    Are those without a college education discriminated against in employment? Yes. That’s why many strive to get a college education.

    Are Republicans discriminated against more than Democrats? No. But this election followed our first black President who accomplished great success in achieving progress favored by college educated liberals.

    Does the rumor of discrimination against your group trump (pardon the pun) personal experience? It shouldn’t but does among the successfully propagandized.

    There you have it. What America has fallen way behind on is adaptation to global progress – to the direction that technology (and population) is taking human culture. The disaffected Americans believe that they can and do lead human culture, an artifact of past truth. The truth is that the rest of the world has largely closed the gap created by the allies victory in WWII without any damage to the US.

  18. Trump and his cronies are just visible manifestation of world wide financial interconnections for the multi-nationals and billionaires. The interconnections allow for money laundering, and stashing money in off shore accounts and tax avoidance. These interconnections are made possible by a corrupt political system, which serves the elite.

    The Paradise Papers reveal this web. MSNBC and CNN bring up the Paradise Papers only in reference to the Trumpet and his gang. Many of the stories focus on how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures of trusts, foundations and shell companies to protect their cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy.

    At least from what we are learning so far it is all legal. The legality is made possible by elected officials. The bottom line for we proles is that the billionaires and multi-national corporations can avoid taxes and contribute to income inequality. I think the average Joe and Jane recognize they are getting screwed by the elite. Bernie and Trump touched this nerve.

    The Democrats could make this a campaign issue, but it would require them to stand up, better to hide behind Mueller.

  19. While Speaker of the House, Jerry Ford was asked what an impeachable offense is. He still-relevant reply was, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Other than a direct threat to their livelihood, it’s hard to imagine any offense today’s House would deem impeachable. Starting on January 20, 2017, Trump has ignored his oath of office which requires that he “…will to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” If lying about Russian interference with an American election is not impeachable – and Congress’s view of that is clear – then nothing is. Mob rule has replaced the rule of law as America’s governing principle – at least inside the Beltway. The capo of the mob is now called, “Mr. President.”

  20. I would like to join a concerted effort to get ahead of this prior to the 2018 elections. I am heartily sick of the Democratic fund raising when I hear their plan is to move right to get more votes. I don’t want to fund that. I’m looking for a “new deal” Democratic. Any ideas?

  21. I am so grateful to our media (for you in your column and MSNBC (which I follow pretty regularly) for doing a fine job of letting us know what is REALLY going on in the present governmental cesspool which Trump and his cronies have dragged us into. Furthermore they are unearthing others almost daily who also hold a lot of power in our government and who have been doing similar things.

    Given your and their diligent research, and the immediacy of these activities’ being reported to us, it is increasingly difficult for those who are responsible for them to hide behind their secrecy and lies.

    Surely this must be reflected in the growing number of citizens who not only do NOT approve of how Trump is handling the presidency but who would like to have him removed from office a.s.a.p. before he is allowed to inflict any further damage on our democracy or the world as a whole.

    I know he would be replaced by Pence, who may face some charges of his own…..? I guess we need to go down the “food chain”, to see if there is someone in it who could be trusted with the job?

    And if it doesn’t provide the impetus for more of us going to the polls (which hopefully will go back to issuing paper ballots or provide some other method to protect our votes from hacking or other interference) I will be surprised. Given our president, who makes no secret of his being a Putin wannabe) such a large number of those in our government, people who are called “oligarchs” (powerful but corrupt people) in Russia, how very fortunate we are NOT to be living there!

  22. Nancy – “Then we citizens need to start going after members of Congress”….
    …and we will need to figure out how to GELD Pence…

    (to geld = to castrate)

  23. Over the past few days, a lot has come forth, and stooges are singing like canaries and there are more to come and it just continues and continues until the Cheeto destroys it all and leaves a vacuous hole that was once a great office to his son in laws wife… which if you have been seeing the reports has Lara his daughter in law running affairs of daily life in the White House… or so its reported. Ms. Kennedy, please tell me: where do we find the truth in reality – in all of this? Who is telling the real tale? Thankfully I can say I do enjoy your opining and your attitude. Press On! Sheila! Press On!!!

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