Trump is terrified of the investigation into his relationship with Russia — and he should be – Business Insider

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua RobertsSpecial
Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate
on his investigation in Washington
Thomson Reuters

Donald Trump has been having a meltdown about former FBI Director
Robert Mueller pretty much ever since the special counsel was
appointed on May 17.

On Twitter he has been fulminating that he is a victim of
“the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history —
led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

Behind the scenes, the Associated Press reports, he
is “yelling at television sets in the White House carrying
coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy to
discredit — and potentially end — his presidency.”

So irate has Trump become that he reportedly gave serious thought
to firing
Mueller when his investigation has hardly begun — and may
still do so despite all of the advice he is receiving to the

It’s not hard to see why Trump would be so terrified: Mueller is
universally respected for his integrity and doggedness, and he
has been assembling a hunter-killer team of crack investigators
and lawyers to help him. Together they have over a century of
experience at the Justice Department unraveling complex,
white-collar conspiracies. One of them even speaks

Trump’s attack dogs have been desperately trying to discredit the
rebooted Untouchables,
but the best they could come up with is that three of Mueller’s
hires contributed to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. If
that’s disqualifying for government service, then Trump himself
should resign; he has donated at
least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, far more than any of
Mueller’s staff gave to her campaign.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) speaks in Ypilanti Township, Michigan March 15, 2017 and FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2017 in a combination of file photos. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Kevin Lamarque/File Photos Combination
of file photos of U.S. President Donald Trump and FBI Director
James Comey

What worries Trump is not that Mueller may be a Democratic
partisan — the very idea is ludicrous, given that he was
appointed to run by the FBI by President George W. Bush — but
that the Marine combat veteran cannot be bought off or

This has always been Trump’s M.O. — witness his attempts to win
pledges of “loyalty” from James Comey in return for allowing him
to stay on as FBI director. Comey wouldn’t play ball, and neither
will Mueller.

So that right there is enough reason for Trump to be scared now
that he is being investigated by Mueller for obstruction of
justice — a crime which he essentially admitted on national
television when he said that he fired Comey to shut down the
investigation into the “Russia

Actually, Trump has even more cause for concern because, like
previous investigations, this one won’t be narrowly limited.
Recall that the Whitewater independent counsel began by probing
an Arkansas land deal and wound up nailing Bill Clinton for lying
under oath about his sex life. To get the truth about
Kremlingate, Mueller will need to investigate any possible
financial ties between Trump, his associates, and Russia — and
that, in turn, will lead Mueller to probe just about every
financial transaction in which Trump and his cronies have been

The Washington Postreported
that investigators are “looking for any evidence of possible
financial crimes among Trump associates,” while the New York
wrote: “A
former senior official said Mr. Mueller’s investigation was
looking at money laundering by Trump associates. The suspicion is
that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely
have been in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that
there would have been an effort to hide the payments, probably by
routing them through offshore banking centers.”

Did someone say money laundering? For some strange reason that
reminded me of this NBC News report that
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, “was associated
with at least 15 bank accounts and 10 companies on Cyprus, dating
back to 2007,” and that “At least one of those companies was used
to receive millions of dollars from a billionaire Putin ally.”

Paul ManafortPaul ManafortChip
Somodevilla/Getty Images

Of course Trump would be exceedingly lucky if the investigation
were limited only to the finances of Paul Manafort, Michael
Flynn, Carter Page, and other former aides from whom he will try
to distance himself.

He will have a harder time disowning Jared Kushner, his
son-in-law and White House aide, who is undoubtedly being probed
for his meeting with Sergey
Gorkov, a former Russian intelligence officer and Putin
associate who runs Russia’s bank for development and foreign
economic affairs. Vnesheconombank has been sanctioned by the
Treasury Department on several occasions since 2014.

Worst of all for Trump, the investigation is likely to shine a
spotlight on his own dubious business practices. In March, for
example, USA Todaywrote that
“the president and his companies have been linked to at least 10
wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal
organizations or money laundering.”

It appears that Trump and his associates have been trying to
cover their tracks because a more recent USA Today scoop
that “Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the
majority of his companies’ real estate sales are to secretive
shell companies that obscure the buyers’ identities.” But,
despite these attempts at concealment, Reuters reported
“at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have
bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven
Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida.” Eric Trump
reportedly bragged in
2014 that Russian investors were funding Trump’s golf courses.

Such reports, partial and incomplete as they are, make a mockery
of Trump’s carefully worded non-denial:
“I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I
have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.”

One person with whom Trump undoubtedly did have deals was Felix
Sater, a Russian-American businessman who has been convicted
of assault for stabbing a man in the face with a broken glass and
for racketeering because of his involvement in a mafia-linked
stock fraud scheme.

A criminal turned government informant, Sater was one of the
principals of the Bayrock Group, a real estate firm located in
Trump Tower that partnered with the Trump Organization to build
the Trump SoHo hotel and other properties. According to
Bloomberg’s Timothy O’Brien, a veteran Trump chronicler,
“a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually
departed from the firm because he became convinced that Bayrock
was actually a front for money laundering.”

O’Brien quotes
another former insider, Abe Wallach, “who was the future
president’s right-hand man at the Trump Organization from 1990 to
about 2002,” as saying: “It’s not very hard to get connected to
Donald if you make it known that you have a lot of money and you
want to do deals and you want to put his name on it. Donald
doesn’t do due diligence. He relies on his gut and whether he
thinks you have good genes.”

If this were your business background, would you want
Bob Mueller and his untouchables investigating you? The
only wonder is that Trump hasn’t already tried to fire Mueller
before he starts turning over more Bayrocks.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.

Read the original article on Foreign Policy. “Real World. Real Time.” Follow Foreign Policy on Facebook. Subscribe to Foreign Policy here. Copyright 2017. Follow Foreign Policy on Twitter.

SEE ALSO:Trump’s conservative allies are turning on special counsel Robert Mueller

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Eid al-Fitr: What you need to know – CNN

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      Why Dems can’t break through on Obamacare repeal – Politico

      Even before Senate Republicans released their Obamacare repeal plan last week, a call went out from liberal activists: Head to the airport and greet departing senators with a furious protest.

      About five dozen demonstrators showed up at Reagan National Airport, chanting loudly and hoisting signs that read “Don’t Take Away Our Health Care” and “Resist.” Organizers hailed the turnout given the short notice, but the contrast with the thousands of people who flocked to the last airport protests — against President Donald Trump’s travel ban — was inescapable.

      Story Continued Below

      And compared with the tea party fervor aimed at Democrats when they worked to pass Obamacare seven years ago, this year’s liberal defense of the law hasn’t mustered the same energyto seize, and stay in command of, the nation’s attention.

      For weeks now, liberal activists and Democratic senators have struggled to capture the public’s focus in their campaign to halt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s momentum to repeal Obamacare. Now that the GOP bill is public, its expected coverage losses are likely to make it as deeply unpopular as the House’s plan — yet the left is facing a perilously narrow window to pick off wavering Republican senators and sink the bill before this week’s vote.

      That messaging crisis is not for lack of trying. But progressives have been stymied by Republicans’ strategy of keeping the bill behind closed doors as well as a crowded media landscape fixated more on Trump’s tweets and Russia scandal than on the intricacies of Medicaid spending. And then there’s money: Democrats have been vastly outspent by Republicans in ad wars over Obamacare repeal.

      Even if they break through the clutter this week by flooding the GOP with public anger, they may be too late to save Obamacare.

      “What we want is for this to be in the headlines, on the front page of newspapers every morning, and it hasn’t been because it’s been such a secretive process,” Angel Padilla, policy director of the liberal group Indivisible, said in an interview.

      Even after 43 disability-rights activists, including many in wheelchairs, got dragged outand arrested outside McConnell’s office Thursday, Padilla said he saw “most of the evening news programs still talking about tapes” of former FBI Director James Comey that Trump initially suggested existed before saying they don’t.

      “It’s been really frustrating.”

      Now, Democrats haven’t been entirely unsuccessful.

      Raucous town hall meetings organized by Indivisible and other groups earlier this year spooked GOP lawmakers and garnered significant media coverage. And only 16 percent of the public now thinks the House-passed measure, which largely mirrors the Senate bill, is a good idea, according to last week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll — strong evidence that Democratic attacks are resonating. Obamacare itself is more popular than ever.

      “The numbers for the Republican health care bill are lower than I remember for the [Affordable Care Act],” said David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama. “The one element that is missing is the significant ad spending we saw on the anti-ACA campaign.”

      The Democratic group Save My Care and AARP have escalated their advertising push in defense of Obamacare in recent days, but it is not likely to match opponents’ campaign. American Action Network, a nonprofit with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, spent more than $8 million on TV and radio advertising during House debate on repeal; a pair of progressive groups spent less than $2 million by that point.

      Another former top Obama adviser, Anita Dunn, disputed the notion that liberals are having more trouble this year than the tea party did in 2009 and 2010,arguing the GOP’s plan is now polling poorly and that Republicans are “hiding from their constituents” by holding fewer town halls and rushing to pass the bill.

      “But there are some significant differences — President Obama made ACA his focal point and there were no scandal stories (like Russia) competing in the space,” emailed Dunn, who served as White House communications director at the start of the Affordable Care Act debate. “The Democrats ran an open and public process, with hearings, witnesses, and many opportunities for the other side to organize around.”

      And whileTrump-era marches have drawn tens of thousands into the streets to call for action against climate change, support immigrants and demand the president’s tax returns, none have focused on opposing Obamacare repeal. In contrast, thousands of tea party activists descended on the Capitol to protest final passage of the health care law in March 2010. Liberals may try something similar, with activists spreading the word on Twitter about forming “a massive human chain” at the Capitol on Wednesday, the day before a possible Senate vote.

      Senate Democrats are powerless to stop the bill on their own, because Republicans are using procedural maneuvers to circumvent a filibuster. But they have tried a variety of tactics lately to try to bring public pressure to bear on the GOP.

      Last week, they launched a procedural blockade to spotlight Republicans’ avoidance of hearings on their repeal bill. They held a talk-a-thon that stretched until midnight, with a series of senators speaking on the floor. A trio of Democratic senators, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, jumped in a cab and recorded their trip to the Congressional Budget Office to try to unearth the proposal.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took the save-Obamacare show on the road over the weekend, drawing more than 1,000 people to the first of three rallies against repeal that he and held in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

      Democrats have also sought to elevate the personal stories of those threatened by the bill, which would cost millions of low-income Americans their health insurance and gut key consumer protections, all while slashing taxes for the wealthy and insurers. They held numerous news conferences with constituents who would be harmed by the bill and promoted a push on social media with the hashtag #AmericaSpeaksOut.

      But the left has been unable to fuel a viral phrase, like conservatives’ false “death panel” charges, or to find a single pro-Obamacare face to rise from the pack and take aim at Trump — much as Gold Star father Khizr Khan or former Miss Universe Alicia Machado did during last year’s presidential campaign.

      “The thing that really elevates someone’s story from merely provoking empathy to becoming iconic is when Republicans or the right-wing media attack a grass-roots hero,” said MoveOn Washington director Ben Wikler.

      During the House’s Obamacare repeal debate, it appeared briefly that late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel might take the mantle after an emotional speech about his infant son, who had a health crisis, went viral. But the House, after serious struggles, passed its bill. And then the debate went quiet in public, particularly as Republicans sidestepped recess-week town halls following earlier tense confrontations with constituents.

      Sen. Tom Carper admitted in an interview that he isn’t sure whether Democratic messaging has broken through yet. But the Delaware Democrat argued that his party has successfully branded the GOP repeal bill with at least one label: secret.

      “The press doesn’t know what’s going on. We don’t know what’s going on. Some of the Republicans don’t know what’s going on,” Carper said. “That’s got to be disconcerting to average, normal people who have misgivings about this place anyway.”

      Hammering the Senate GOP’s Obamacare repeal as too radioactive to draft in public may prove liberals’ most compelling tactic against a bill that could see a vote less than one week after its release and as changes remain under consideration.

      “If I’m a vulnerable Republican senator, I’m breathing a sigh of relief that McConnell took active measures to minimize the news coverage, but I’m panicked what signal that secrecy sent to voters,” said Democratic strategistJesse Ferguson, a veteran of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the original Obamacare battle.

      “It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in health policy for voters to figure out he kept it secret because it would be bad for them, and his plotting has made an unpopular bill even more reviled,” said Ferguson, who is now working with several groups opposed to repeal.

      Ultimately, progressives might find one thing in common with the Obama-era tea party: Both might fall short on Capitol Hill, only to take revenge at the polls.

      For all its energy on the ground at the time, the right failed to stop the health care law from being passed.

      With complete control of Washington and a commitment to their policy goals, Democrats were willing to plow ahead regardless of the political ramifications. Republicans now find themselves in a similar position.

      A GOP wave toppled House Democrats from power in 2010, and Democrats are predicting that Republicans will suffer in 2018 if their bill becomes law.

      “Unlike the ACA, which grew more popular as its effects and benefits kicked in, [repeal] will become even more unpopular as the law’s effects of people losing health care and paying more for less coverage become a reality,” Dunn said.

      House Republicans may be nervous, but Senate Republicans face a highly favorable electoral map next year, potentially easing most GOP senators’ fears of backing the controversial proposal.

      Democrats, meanwhile, are expressing optimism that they can marshal the massive public pushback needed to derail the legislation this week.

      “I think people are starting to get it,” Murphy told POLITICO soon after the GOP bill emerged. “They realize that this is not theoretical anymore. This is something terrible about to happen to them.”

      From the sidelines of the airport protest, Working Families Party organizer Zach Weinstein agreed. “Now it seems like we’re all on the same page — on the grass-roots side, on the inside,” he said. “Hopefully we can stop this thing once and for all.”

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      PROMISES, PROMISES: What Trump has pledged on health care – Washington Post

      By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar | AP,

      WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is not known for plunging into the details of complex policy issues, and health care is no exception. Since his campaign days, Trump has addressed health care in broad, aspirational strokes. Nonetheless he made some clear promises along the way.

      Those promises come under two big headings. First, what Trump would do about the Affordable Care Act, his predecessor’s health care law, often called “Obamacare.” Second, the kind of health care system that Trump envisions for Americans.

      On repealing Obama’s law, Trump seems to have a realistic chance to deliver. But he’s nowhere close to fulfilling his generous promises of affordable health care for all.

      A look at some of the president’s major health care promises, and how the Republican legislation advancing in Congress lines up with them:


      Repealing President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement has been a clear and consistent promise from Trump. Under the Obama law, some 20 million people gained coverage through a combination of subsidized private insurance and a state option to expand Medicaid for low-income people. Costs have been a problem, as are shaky insurance markets for people buying their own policies. But the nation’s uninsured rate is at a historic low, about 9 percent.

      Both the House and Senate GOP bills would largely fulfill Trump’s promise to repeal Obama’s law.

      Both bills end Obama’s unpopular requirement for individuals to carry health insurance or risk fines. The legislation also phases down the Medicaid expansion and repeals hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes on upper-income people and health care industries, used under Obama to finance coverage. And it opens the way for states to seek waivers of federal health insurance requirements.

      Some Republican critics on the right say the congressional bills leave other major parts of “Obamacare” in place, such as subsidies for people buying private insurance, and too many rules. While the subsidy structure would remain, much less taxpayer money is invested in it.


      In a Washington Post interview before his inauguration, Trump distilled his vision for health care into a few visionary goals.

      “We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” he said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

      Trump said he was close to finishing a plan of his own that would have “lower numbers, much lower deductibles.”

      But the White House never delivered a health care plan from the president.

      And the congressional plans are likely to increase the number of uninsured people, because even if all Americans have access to coverage, some may no longer be able to afford it.

      Deductibles are likely to rise for many people with individual coverage because the congressional plans would end subsidies under Obama’s law that reduced out-of-pocket costs for those with modest incomes.

      The Congressional Budget Office has projected that, on average, premiums for individual policies would be lower over the long run than under current law. But there would be winners and losers. Younger adults and those in good health are likely to find better deals. Older people and those requiring comprehensive coverage could well end up paying more.


      During the presidential campaign, Trump called for a system in which insurance plans would compete nationally, offering Americans choice and lower premiums.

      “What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state,” he said at one of the presidential debates.

      Many experts say Trump’s vision of interstate competition is unrealistic because health insurance, like real estate, reflects local prices. In any case, it remains unfulfilled in the GOP legislation.

      Some congressional leaders have promised that cross-state insurance will be addressed in follow-on legislation. Such a bill, however, would likely have to meet a 60-vote test in the Senate.


      During the presidential campaign, and since becoming president, Trump called for action to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

      The GOP bills in Congress basically sidestep that.

      At one point in the campaign, Trump called for giving Medicare the authority to directly negotiate prices with drug makers, an approach favored to some extent by Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

      Trump also proposed letting Americans import prescription drugs from other countries, where prices are usually lower because of government regulation.

      But Medicare negotiations are a nonstarter for most congressional Republicans, and Trump’s call for allowing drug importation has faded.


      In a 2015 interview with The Daily Signal, Trump said: “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”

      But last year, his campaign started backtracking on the Medicaid promise, endorsing the idea of limited federal financing for the federal-state program that covers some 70 million low-income people, from newborns to elderly nursing home residents, from special-needs kids to part-time workers lacking job-based health insurance.

      The Republican bills in Congress would phase out Obama’s financing for Medicaid expansion and limit future federal payments for the entire program as well. The Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would reduce federal Medicaid spending by $834 billion over 10 years, and the program would cover about 14 million fewer people by 2026, a 17 percent reduction.

      Several Republican governors have joined their Democratic counterparts calling that a massive cost-shift to the states.


      The Trump White House says it’s serious about confronting the nation’s opioid epidemic, which shows no sign of letup.

      “The president is all in,” health secretary Tom Price said on a recent visit to New Hampshire. “He has such passion for this issue because he knows the misery and the suffering that has occurred across this land.”

      But state officials say rolling back Obama’s Medicaid expansion would deal a heavy blow to their efforts to treat addiction and get its victims back to jobs and family. Among the group of low-income adults made eligible for Medicaid under Obama are many younger people struggling with drug problems. They’ve been able to get treatment and support services through Medicaid.

      The Senate bill would set up a $2 billion fund to help states fight the epidemic; some GOP senators had sought $45 billion. The House bill does not address it.


      Associated Press researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report.

      An occasional look at the promises public officials make _ and how well they keep them

      Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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      EXACTLY WHAT SHE DESERVES: Professor Fired For Saying Otto Warmbier ‘Got Exactly What He Deserved’ – The Daily Caller

      The University of Delaware has sacked Katherine Dettwyler, the taxpayer-funded professor who declared that Otto Warmbier was a “spoiled,” “white, rich, clueless” American college student who “got exactly what he deserved” when he recently ended up comatose and then died at the age of 22 after serving part of a lengthy prison sentence in North Korea.

      “The University of Delaware has announced that Katherine Dettwyler, who last taught in the spring as an adjunct faculty member, will not be rehired to teach at the University in the future,” school officials said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller on Sunday.

      Dettwyler made her comments on Wednesday on Facebook and in the comments section of a National Review article. At some point on Friday, she later removed or otherwise concealed the comments.

      “Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved?” the no-longer-employed professor wondered on Facebook. “He went to North Korea, for fuck’s sake, and then acted like a spoiled, naive, arrogant, US college student who had never had to face the consequences of his actions.” (RELATED: Taxpayer-Funded Professor: ‘White, Rich, Clueless’ Otto Warmbier ‘Got Exactly What He Deserved’)

      The 62-year-old anthropology professor — an expert on breastfeeding (according to a now-deleted curriculum vitae) — was even more critical of Warmbier in her National Review comments.

      “Otto is typical of the mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueles [sic] males who come into my classes,” Dettwyler wrote. “These are the same kids who cry about their grades, because they didn’t think they’d really have to read and study the material to get a good grade. They simple deserve a good grade for being who they are. Or instead of crying, they bluster and threaten their female professors.”

      Dettwyler blamed Warmbier’s parents for allowing their son to grow up “thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted.”

      She also wrote that “young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women” in the United States.

      Warmbier’s bad behavior — allegedly stealing a sign — reminds Dettyler of male students who “think nothing of raping drunk girls at frat parties and snorting cocaine, cheating on exams, and threatening professors with physical violence,” she said, according to Campus Reform.

      Warmbier was detained in North Korea in 2016 after he was accused of stealing one of the country’s propaganda posters. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea for this minor crime. He was finally returned to the United States 17 months later but was in a coma due to severe brain damage. He died on June 19.

      In the University of Delaware’s press release, school officials pointedly observe that Dettwyler was an adjunct professor working on a contract and not a full-time school employee.

      “On June 23, the University issued a statement about comments that Dettwyler recently posted online, at a time when she was not employed by the University, concerning student behavior and the Otto Warmbier incident,” the University of Delaware statement explains.

      Also, school officials stress that they don’t share Dettwyler’s opinions. “Those comments in no way reflect the values or position of the University of Delaware.”

      “The University of Delaware is committed to providing our students, and our community, with an inclusive and supportive atmosphere characterized by respect and civility,” the press release says. (RELATED: University Of Delaware Outraged Over Hilariously Nonexistent Hate Crime)

      Follow Eric on TwitterLike Eric on Facebook. Send story tips to [email protected].

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