Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia Investigation Closes In On Trump!

 

On Saturday, March l7, newspaper headlines revealed that the Trump Organization had been subpoenaed in recent weeks to turn over documents, including some related to Russia. This was the first time that records directly related to Trump’s business were demanded by court order.  Trump had warned in the past that his family’s business affairs would be the “red line” if Mueller crossed it.

Mueller had already indicted 13 Russians and three companies accused of meddling in the 2016 election. On Thursday, March 15, the Trump administration included them in sanctions, as punishment for interference in the campaign and “malicious cyberattacks”. These were not the original sanctions passed almost unanimously by Congress months ago that Trump signed but failed to put into effect.  Trump had insisted that Putin said he did not meddle in the election. He refused to accept the conclusions from our sixteen intelligence agencies that the Russians were directly responsible for meddling in the 2016 election.

Robert Mueller III was appointed as a special counsel to investigate whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 election and  any other matters that may  have arisen from the inquiry.  Mueller is also examining whether the president has tried to obstruct the investigation.   Cable  news panels have discussed the subject of “Obstruction of Justice” for months as a possible impeachment charge at great length as Mueller continues to indict members of Trump’s campaign team.

One of Trump’s lawyer’s , John Dowd, called the Justice Department on March 17 to end the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. This was a sharp shift from the previous cooperative attitude of the White House legal staff. Dowd urged Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who oversees the special counsel to end the probe.  At first, Dowd said  he was speaking on behalf of the president, but later backed off from that assertion. However, the president has been attacking the F.B.I. and Justice Department in his tweets for months as the investigation continues. Hours later, he wrote on his Twitter account, “There was tremendous leakage, lying and corruption at the F.B.I. Justice and State.”

By Monday, March 19,  the New York Times lead story was “ His Anger Rising, Trump Takes Direct Aim at Mueller and His Team”  Sub headline. “Some Republicans Warn President Not To Fire Special Counsel”  Ever since the investigation began, Trump had called it a “witch hunt” and a “hoax”, but heeded his lawyers not to directly attack Mueller by name. a widely respected Republican who once headed the F.B. I.  On Sunday, he wrote on Twitter, “ Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?”…… does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”

Certain Republicans spoke out against the attack on Robert Mueller, seeing it as leading to  firing the special counsel.  Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of Trump,  said on State of The Union, “If  he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation.” He continued, “When it comes to Mr.  Mueller, he is following the evidence where it takes him, and I think he should be allowed to do his job without interference, and there are many Republicans who share my view.” Senator  Jeff Flake, a sharp critic of Trump who was on the same program, agreed with him.  “People see it as a  massive red line that can’t be crossed. We have confidence in Mueller.”  He urged the president’s advisers to prevail upon him not to fire Mueller. Representative Trey Gowdy on Fox News said if the president was innocent, he should “act like it” and leave Mr. Mueller alone, warning of dire repercussions if the president tried to fire Mr. Mueller. Lastly, Senator John McCain made his strong comment, “Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity.  It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election —- unimpeded.”

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, had his spokeswoman release the following statement, “ As the speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job.”    This was seen as luke warm, but better than Senator Mitch McConnell , Majority leader who did not comment at all.  Other Repuplican senate leaders who said nothing were:  John Cornyn, majority whip, John Thune, chairman of the conference, Representative Kevin Mc Carthy, majority leader of the House and Steve Scalise, majority whip.

On Tuesday, March 20, Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election to president for six more years.  Despite being warned by his National Security Advisor,  in a memo with DO NOT CONGRATULATE in capital letters, Trump did what he has done ever since he became president.  He seems to believe that he needs to work together with Putin to solve world problems, an approach that no one in our intelligence community agrees with.  They all judge Russia and Putin as an enemy  “meddling in our election and democracy.”

Since Trump became president, there have been forty three departures from his administration, far exceeding any previous president. The growing list includes:  top cabinet ministers in State Department, Health and Human Services, chief of staff, chief strategist, top economic adviser and press secretary.  Most dramatic exits were the firings of James Comey, Director of the F.B.I. and Andrew Mc Cabe, Deputy Director of the F.B.I.  Trump fired Mc Cabe the day before his planned retirement on his 50’th birthday when he would have received his pension after 22 years of service.  Trump’s action was widely criticized as”petty and  vindictive”. To counteract this result, four Democratic members of the House hired Mc Cabe to work on their staffs. This work for the federal government will entitle McCabe to his sixty thousand dollars a year pension!

With key personnel gone at the White House, and rumors of more firings to come, Trump insists he loves “chaos” and pitting people and their ideas against each other.  He relies completely on “Fox and Friends” each morning on TV to keep up with the news of the country and the world.  His favorite press whipping targets are CNN and the “failing” New York Times. They are covering, in addition to national and world news, the current scandals of the women who are accusing him of his past behavior toward them. Chief among them  is Stormy Daniels, the porn star with whom he had a long relationship.Trump insists all his accusers are “liars”.  He has hired new lawyers to deal with this aspect of his legal travails.

Epilogue: One year into his administration,  Donald Trump appears to rely on his “gut”  when making decisions and statements that affect the country and the world.  Four former members of his administration , who have been indicted by Mueller, are “cooperating” with the special counsel and awaiting trial.  Some members of Congress are trying to pass legislation to stop him from firing Robert Mueller.  The clock is ticking.

………………………………………………………………………………….. Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

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Summertime: Selling Books at the Craft Shows in Ocean City

 

Prologue:  Today is March 11, 2018 and I just opened the information for Craft Shows  2018,  After ten years of taking part, I posted a blog last June about this experience and received many positive responses. Here’s a second posting for new readers and regulars. We’ll be there again.  The dates are at the end. Bob and I look forward to seeing you there.

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Every summer, on Fridays and Saturdays from late June to early September, there are free Craft Shows on the Ocean City, New Jersey Music Pier.  The setting is ideal, reaching from the boardwalk toward the ocean with a high covered roof and an open side that catches the cool breezes.  My husband. and I have been taking part for ten summers with our published books as our craft.  We enjoy meeting hundreds of locals and tourists each summer in an informal setting and introducing them to our books. We call it our “third career”.

Bob and  I are the only authors joining a terrific group of women and men who create their original crafts.  Some pursue their work year round, traveling to shows up and down the East Coast.  There are painters, sewers, wood workers, candle makers, bakers, jewelers,  children’s clothing designers, knitters of afghans and sweaters, soap makers and plant growers with colored-glass filled wooden pots.  Crafters are often accompanied by their spouses or children who assist in setting up the complex displays on their tables. That task can take at least an hour or more with different stands and racks to hold tiny hand painted objects or hanging garments.

There is a caveat printed on the agreement forms that “All work by the exhibitors must be original.. Not accepted are sports memorabilia/cards, cosmetics, imported mass produced or manufactured T-shirts & sweatshirts , sneakers, food or other items that directly compete with the Boardwalk Merchants” Different groups sponsor the Craft Shows, including Ocean City Class Council, Raiders and Cheerleaders, and Ocean City Exchange Club.  There is an entry charge for the first three groups of $50. for each space and table . Electricity $5. We only need one space and table . We always request the last table closest to the ocean to be able to walk in front and talk with prospective buyers about the books.

We are the fastest set-up and breakdown at the end of the Show.  It takes us about twenty minutes to set up when we arrive about 8:15 a.m. and five minutes to wrap up at 3:00 p.m. We tape large posters of some book covers down the front of the table on the beige cloth to attract interest.   Then we arrange our books. Bob has his six mystery novels and I have my two non-fiction books and three novels.  We have our names on “Book Signings” placards and our price list. We usually bring five copies of each book, and ten copies of “Courage in High Heels” which is our best seller.  If it’s a good day, we sell a few books before 9 o’clock.

Over the years, there’s camaraderie that develops among the regulars and that is a plus to the experience.  As we set up each time, we compare notes and wish each other well. If there’s a problem, we help each other straighten it out.  We never have figured out if Friday is a better selling/buying day than Saturday.  People who rent a house or an apartment for a week  start and end on Saturday.  One would expect they would have more $$ for books on the first Saturday, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.  There are also other patterns.  The early morning strollers usually are walkers or bike riders. They rarely have money with them. No shoulder- bags for women is a sure sign.  Tougher to know with men who have $$ in their pockets. It’s still a guessing game.  One year, a woman on a bicycle stopped and gave us a check for every book on the table!  She collected books signed by the authors. We’ll never forget her.

Bob and I have different selling techniques.  He’s the expert since his first book was “Professional Selling” , Prentice Hall, published in four editions since the l970’s.  It was written for community colleges and the trade. Still in use at Harvard and The University of Wisconsin. The key chapter, the ABC’s of Selling- “Always Be Closing.  I’ve learned to vary approaches with different women and men who stop.  Many walkers don’t stop at all, but those who do are potential buyers.  I ask women, “Do you prefer true stories or novels?”  If they say true, I hand them a copy of “Courage in High Heels” and ask them to read the back cover. They learn that the book contains “ the true life stories of 8 women –not  famous women — who have overcome multiple obstacles in life with amazing resilience and spirit.”  I show them the Then and Now pictures and highlight certain women. If they are older women, I explain why I wrote the book, “To honor older women in our society who don’t get enough respect.”  They always nod in agreement.

If they prefer fiction, I introduce them to my three novels. Two are current stories of family life and “functional families” in contrast to the many dysfunctional families in print today. I start by saying “That’s why I wrote “Flaw in the Tapestry”  I was sick of those books!  And when I completed it, I wanted to know what happened next. (pause) So I wrote “If Winter Comes.”  And I push that book next to the first. We give a price break on two, three or more books. Selling a double or a triple is a thrill. A self described “ reader” may buy one of mine and one of Bob’s.  He has a great signing line, “Life is a mystery…”  When he sells more than one, he signs, “Life is still a mystery!” We each have return readers who come back each year for other books. Betty, an older woman who owns all our books, sends us a holiday card and note each December. We look forward to seeing her each summer walking down the pier. We exchange warm hugs.

Last week brought a special moment for me.  My latest book is “The Critical Eye”, Xlibris 2010.  It is a collection of some of my Op Eds and articles that have been published in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and other national and regional newspapers and magazines. They are as relevant today as when they appeared. When a man stops at the table or is the husband of a woman looking at my books, I give him a copy to look at.  I point out Section II: Communication, Technology, Science  and Section III: Religion, Race, Gender, Prejudice.  When an older man stopped last week, I opened the book to Section IV: Very Personal Essays and turned to “From Slonim to America; A Dream Fulfilled” and said, “That is my father’s story.  He was a little immigrant boy who came to America and grew up to become a surgeon”.  He looked at me from underneath the cap he was wearing and said very  slowly and distinctly, “I was a little immigrant boy from Lebanon who came to America and grew up to become a surgeon.”  I don’t know why I showed him that essay, but I will never forget the moment.  Yes, he bought “The Critical Eye”.   Later, Bob walked out on the boardwalk and saw him sitting on a bench …engrossed in reading the book.

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Schedule this summer:  All shows are open nine to three on the Music Pier : June 23, Saturday; July 14, Saturday;  July 27, Friday;  August 4, Saturday;   August 11, Saturday; August 25, Saturday; September 1, Saturday; September 8, Saturday.    We hope to see you there.

Joyce & Bob

 

 

 

 

 

Jared Kushner: Icarus Flying Too Close to The Sun

Prologue: This column ran in June  in 2017. Today is  Saturday, March 3, 2018.  The lead editorial in The New York Times is “Jared Kushner Flames Out”. I could not resist posting this column again, giving the background and forecast of what seemed  to lay in store for him.  Nine months later, It appears to have come true.

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The Greek legend of Daedalus and his son Icarus combines history with mythology.  Daedalus was the architect who worked for King Minos on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. The ruins of the Minoan Palace at Knossos that he created include the Labyrinth, a deadly maze built for the King to imprison his enemies.  The mythical monster, Minotaur, lived deep within the Labyrinth and killed all captured prisoners. King Minos became furious with Daedalus when he learned that the architect had advised Princess Ariadne to give Theseus the thread that allowed him to escape from the Labyrinth after he killed the Minotaur.  King Minos had Daedalus and his son Icarus thrown deep into the Labyrinth after his betrayal.

Daedalus, who had created the maze, knew a way to emerge, but he also realized the shores of Crete were heavily guarded.  They could neither run toward the sea nor sail to freedom.  They had to fly into the air!  He created gigantic wings from the branches of the osier tree connected with wax. Then, he taught Icarus how to fly, but warned him to keep away from the sun which would melt the wax , destroying the wings.  Daedalus and Icarus  did escape from the Labyrinth and flew into the sky, free. As they flew, young Icarus became excited with the thrill of flying and started flying higher and higher to salute the sun.  Daedalus was unable to restrain him and soon Icarus saw his great wings melting.  He fell into the sea and drowned.  The Icarian Sea where he fell, was named after him and nearby is an island called Icaria.  The mix of history and myth lives in the ruins at Knossos and the waters surrounding Crete.

Jared Kushner.   Married to Ivanka Trump,  President Trump’s daughter, Kushner and his wife have offices in the West Wing of the White House.  He is a Special Adviser and she is an Assistant to the president.   They both have walk-in privileges to the Oval Office.  They are recognized as having unique relationships with Donald Trump as close trusted family members.  They accompanied him on his first overseas trip which Kushner planned and organized.  He has been given an extraordinary portfolio including the Israeli/Palestinian stalemate and reorganizing the federal government.  Yet, Kushner has no experience in diplomacy, government or political activities. His former work years were as the owner and manager of the vast family real estate empire in New York and New Jersey

It is known that Kushner is not interested in becoming involved in the legislation  planned for the Trump agenda.  He does not make himself available for interviews with the press.   In early June, he was featured on the cover of TIME magazine, with an in-depth article about his meetings with Russian diplomats and bankers during the transition and since the inauguration.  He is tall, handsome, privileged and appears supremely confident as he emerges with his briefcase to enter the SUV waiting to whisk him to his next meeting in The White House. He does not answer questions reporters call out to him.  He appears aloof as he keeps walking during those encounters.

Kushner and Ivanka have been absent at certain crucial times in the White House, as when President Trump told the audience in the Rose Garden — and the entire world –that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement signed by 195 nations.  Kushner, Ivanka and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had tried to convince Donald Trump to honor our commitment as the country that led the entire global endeavor under Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.  They lost the argument to Stephen Bannon, chief strategist, who has urged the president to withdraw ever since the campaign. Kushner and Bannon have been constantly at odds on policy, causing Trump to tell them to settle their differences.

After the Russian involvement in the 2016 election became a growing scandal and Robert Mueller, former Director of The F.B.I., was appointed as counsel to head an Investigation, Jared Kushner became a “person of interest” to the F.B.I.  This was related to the fact that he had not listed his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on his security clearance form nor the meeting with the Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, with close ties to the Kremlin.  It was reported in The Washington Post that when Jared Kushner met with Kislyak, known as their “master spy”,  they discussed  setting up a back channel  with the Russians using Russian facilities.  Trump had publicly admired President Vladimir Putin throughout the campaign, calling him a” strong leader”while President Obama was a “weak leader.”   After our seventeen intelligence agencies agreed Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee during the campaign, Trump was not convinced this was accurate.  He tweeted that “China or a 400 pound person sitting on a bed anywhere” could have hacked the DNC.  It was clear he wanted to have a reset with Russia once he became president.  He did not agree with our l7 intelligence agencies that Russia led by Putin was our major foe in the world.

Kushner reportedly pushed the president to fire James Comey as F.B.I. director and  Trump’s history shows that he looks for people to blame when an action backfires.  It has been reported that he has focused on Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the main culprit because he did not alert the president in advance that he was going to recuse himself from the F.B. I. investigation into Russian involvement in our 2016 election.  Trump is furious and blames him for the appointment of Mueller as a special counsel.  Trump is mercurial as the world knows from his early morning tweets and attacks on federal judges and the “enemy press”.  Whether he would ever turn on his son –in-law publicly is very doubtful.  Ivanka is the closest of his three children and his family is always central to his security and identity.

When James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday,  June 8, Donald Trump may actually tweet in ‘real time’ during his testimony.  It will probably be the most watched political TV since the Watergate Hearings.  In the weeks ahead, Jared Kushner will continue to play a key role in the White House.  He certainly is part of Donald Trump’s inner circle  —- metaphorically, flying close to the sun.  We will find out in the weeks and months ahead if his fate will differ from that of Icarus.

Epilogue:  Please read today’s NYT lead editorial (3/3/2018) on your computer to understand what has happened in the nine months since the original column was posted. …………………………………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson