How are we different from the Russians?

After months of investigation ever since Donald Trump got elected as the President, it is becoming clear that no clear evidence exists to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the 2106 election. This was confirmed by none other than former FBI director, former Chief of intelligence, and former National Security Advisor. The only thing the investigators found is evidence about a June 2016 meeting between some in Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer and her associates. The reason it got the attention of the investigators is a sensational email, from the middle man who arranged the meeting, promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Obviously it was a ruse used to arrange the meeting where the Russian lawyer wanted to convince the incoming administration, assuming Trump got elected, to annul the so called Magnitsky act in return for lifting the ban on US adoption of Russian babies. This lawyer has been fighting in vain for several years on behalf of her client, a Russian billionaire whose US assets were frozen and his travel restricted by the Magnitsky act. The following facts confirm that it was nothing but a ruse:
1. If there was collusion by the Trump campaign, communications would have been through very secure channels and any dirt on Hillary Clinton would have been sent through the same channels. This meeting was held openly in the Trump Tower that was crowded by media and other people attracted by the imminent nomination of Trump.
2. If the Russians really found dirt or the missing 33,000 emails, why would the Trump campaign not publicize it and fully exploit it to their advantage?
3. Most important, Paul Manafort is the one who brought this meeting to the attention of the investigators approximately three months ago. Obviously, FBI was not aware of it and why would Manafort expose it unless he thought there was no wrong doing.
The news that Paul Manfort was the subject of a pre-dawn raid to collect evidence about possible money laundering or mis-reporting of foreign activities years before he met Mr. Trump and got involved with his campaign, indicates the desperation of the a special counsel to indict anybody. While trying to implicate President Trump or his associates for a crime that was not committed, both the special counsel and Congress investigators are simply ignoring other events that may have violated election law.
What exactly is the election law that can get candidates in to trouble? In layman terms “it is illegal for any candidate to receive anything of value from foreign nationals or foreign governments”. The 2016 Election in Nevada was a close one heavily dependent on voter turnout especially in the Hispanic community. It has been widely reported that “Senator Harry Reid and the Democrats brought in Mexican soap opera stars, singers and entertainers who had immense influence in those communities into Las Vegas, to entertain, get out the vote and so forth.” Nevada voted for Hillary Clinton and elected Catherine Mastos as Senator. Clark County, where Las Vegas is located provided the margin of victory for both Democrats. If Trump did not score unexpected wins in mid-western states, Nevada could have made a difference. Also, another vote in the Senate would have made a big difference to the Republicans. Without any doubt, the candidates received something of value from foreign nationals and perhaps foreign government. Unlike the Russians whose motivation is not very clear, the Mexicans had strong motives- Stop the wall and keep NAFTA intact. Why was no special counsel appointed to investigate this election violation where abundant evidence is available? Or, why are not the congressional committees investigating it?
In addition to the actual Mexican intervention in the election that happened, there are two other likely scenarios for the Russian intervention that no one, either special counsel or Congress is investigating. The Russian hacking happened during the primary season very likely in 2015. At that time, no one including Republicans thought Donald Trump would win nomination. Almost everyone thought Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination. Assuming President Putin was behind the Russian interference that hurt Hillary Clinton, there are two possible reasons for him to hope for Clinton’s loss. First one is he wanted a Socialist like Bernie Sanders to win. If he hates western democracy, this is the next best thing he can hope for. At that time, there was lot of disgruntlement among Sanders supporters that the DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman was openly supporting Hillary. The hacking of DNC server and emails confirmed the same resulting in the resignation of Ms. Wasserman just before the convention. If the emails were leaked few months earlier, it may have resulted in victory for Mr. Sanders. It is highly unlikely that that there was any collusion between Americans and Russians on the intervention that escaped the detection of US intelligence. If there was one, a Sanders supporter is a possible candidate. Why is the special counsel not looking in to it?
Now, there is lot of talk by the political pundits that if we “follow the money”, we can find the source of collusion. That is why Mr. Mueller is trying to indict Mr. Manafort for financial irregularities that may have happened before 2014 so that he can spill the dirt on Trump associates. In that case, why is he ignoring a clear flow of money from the Russians to Americans? As per an editorial in New York Times, a Russian firm, with ties to Russian Intelligence, paid half a million dollars to Bill Clinton for a speech. Several Russian oligarchs donated large amounts to Clinton Foundation that also received millions of dollars from Uranium One, a Russian firm that later bought 20% of US uranium reserves. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had to approve this national security related deal. It is widely reported that Putin developed a dislike for Hillary Clinton. Could that be because she did not meet her end of the bargain? If that is the case, it explains why Putin wanted her to lose even though he never expected Trump to win. Is Mr. Mueller neglecting his duties if he does not investigate this angle of the Russian interference? NY Times also reported that John Podesta, the campaign manager for Clinton received millions of dollars in stock from a Russian company financed by the Kremlin! In Manafort’s case, the consulting money came from a pro-Russian Ukranian political party and not Russia. Why the special counsel, with all his money flow experts, is not also looking at this angle of money flow? Is this not a pure double standard?
We can reach some painful conclusions from the behavior of the special counsel and all the congressional committees: Does not matter what the evidence is? Does not matter what the law is? If we do not like a person or his policies, we have to bring him down by hook or crook!
How are we different from the Russians?

Slow motion assassination of American Democracy

After hours of testimony by Jarred Kushner before both House and Senate Intelligence committees, it is becoming clear that all these players in the so called Russian investigation are chasing a wild goose. Several weeks ago, former FBI director as well as former heads of intelligence, and National Security have testified that they found no evidence of collusion between Trump campaign and Russians in the intervention of Russian government in the 2016 election. When it was appearing that, after months of investigation, all these players in the Congress and Media came up with a “Nothing Burger”, they got a new life when the emails regarding Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with Russians surfaced. They jumped through the hoops with excitement and started using words like “smoking gun evidence”, “caught red handed” and “impeachment”. A Congressman, for whom I organized a fund raiser years ago. even filed a motion for impeachment. I do not regret raising the funds but I am sickened by his “act first and think later” behavior. Now it is apparent to people like me who are not biased and have an open mind that the meeting was really about the Russian lawyer trying to convince the Trumps about the grave harm the so called Magnitsky act was doing to her client the Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov. The Magnitsky act was a sanction imposed by President Obama that froze the US assets of Russian Oligarchs like Agalarov and restricted their travel. This was done to punish the Russian government for the human rights abuse. It is not known if Mr. Agalarov was involved in that abuse, but he was being punished even if he was not. This Russian lawyer, who has represented other clients in the US courts before, was hired by him to get the act removed. It should be noted that this meeting was in June of 2016 when no one, other than FBI and US intelligence, knew about the Russian govt.’s interference in the US election. What was known widely at that time was the fact that Hillary Clinton deleted over 32,000 emails even after receiving a subpoena from the Congress to submit all her emails. Needless to say most Republicans and many in the media wanted to get hold of those missing emails for obvious reasons. The Russian lawyer or her representatives used the ruse of providing dirt on Hillary Clinton as well as offering to remove the retaliatory ban on US adoptions of Russian children to arrange a meeting with the Trump Campaign. The son of the billionaire, a popular Russian singer, knew Donald Jr. through a mutual acquaintance who is a US based British music agent. The other two Russians present in the meeting happen to be US citizens. One was a lobbyist working with the Russian lawyer to lobby the US Congress to remove the Magnitsky act. The other was a representative of Mr. Agalarov taking care of his US assets. Obviously, there was no hacking or computer expert in that meeting. Donald, Jr. was obviously excited about the prospect of finding the missing emails or other dirt. Almost everyone in his position would be. This is so called opposition research that happens all the time in every US election. Don Jr. right away invited Paul Manafort and Jarred Kushner to join him in the meeting. He did not bother to call FBI because it was not known at that time that there was a Russian interference. Any media person who got a similar invitation from any one offering to share information on missing emails or other dirt would jump at the chance of going to the meeting and not bother to call FBI first. In any case, when this meeting started, it was soon obvious to the people from Trump campaign that the meeting was about annulling Magnitsky act in return for removing the ban on adoptions. Jarred Kushner emailed his assistant to call him on his cell so that he had an excuse to get out of the meeting. As per him, he left the meeting after ten minutes. Obviously he presented evidence to the intelligence committees on this and that is why there is no leak contradicting this. Similarly, Paul Manafort stopped listening to the speakers and instead spent his time reading and sending messages on his phone. All this was confirmed by other participants in the meeting. Only Donald, Jr. patiently listened to them out of courtesy. If there was any offer to share missing emails or other dirt, all the Trump representatives would have stayed there till the end of the meeting and would have reached some sort of agreement. It is very clear that the Russian lawyer did not have any damaging information on Hillary Clinton. If she did and even if she did not reach an agreement with Trump campaign, that information would have been dumped through WikiLeaks few months later along with other hacked emails from DNC and John Podesta. If she was really part of Russian govt. and did not share this information with them, she would have been hanged by now.
With all this information, it baffles me that both the intelligence committees are dragging their investigation. For example, they do not want to hear the testimony of Donald, Jr. and Paul Manafort until October. If they are really after the truth, they should try to hear them immediately and share their findings with the American people. Similarly, I am at a loss to understand why the special counsel Robert Mueller is maintaining silence. I want to believe the universal opinion that he is of very high integrity and not a partisan. By now, after being on the job for more than two months, it should be obvious to him that there was no collusion between Trump campaign and the Russian govt. in hacking the 2016 election. After months of investigation, the former high officials of intelligence and Justice departments came to that conclusion. If he did not find any new evidence, he should announce to the American people that there is no evidence of collusion in hacking at the minimum. If there are minor infractions like non disclosures on security clearance applications or Manafort’s activities years before he joined Trump campaign, he can investigate them at leisure. He is not serving the American people and our great country, if he has other motives. I hope not.
Federal Government is paralyzed and nothing is happening in Washington. This is very unfortunate. The poor and the middle class are suffering. All these players in the media, cable news and mainstream media, many in US Congress, many in federal govt. departments, and many political pundits sincerely believe that Donald Trump is not qualified to be the President and want to by hook or crook reach a point where they can impeach him. By ignoring the fact that he was legally elected by the Electoral College, they are simply engaged in a slow motion assassination of American Democracy.

Elephant walks and the Dogs bark

It is becoming obvious that a significant number of media professionals, political commentators, Democratic politicians, career bureaucrats and other activists are determined to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump and dethrone him by impeachment or other means. First came the collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. After months of investigations by the FBI, Senate and Congress committees, political potshots on the left leaning TV networks, they came up with nothing. Of course, there is proof of interference by the Russians but not collusion. Then came the obstruction of justice charges. Even this does not hold water for two reasons. One is, as per some constitutional experts, the president has the right to fire any one who works for him including the FBI director. The second and the most important reason is if there is no crime, there can not be cover up. Now, some of the media including ” Morning Joe” anchors and other activists are focusing on the theme that Donald Trump is not mentally fit to be the President. Without any doubt, President Trump has magnified the problem by his over reaction to all these absurd charges. All those Tweets did not help. He should simply ignore all this unproductive criticism and go on with his business of executing the mandate given by his voters. In the old country where I grew up, there is a saying that goes something like this ” When an Elephant walks, the dogs bark but the Elephant simply ignores the barking and keeps walking”

Wake up America

It is widely believed that Donald Trump became President of the United States with the votes from people with the following characteristics: whites, native born, non-college educated, living in the south, holding blue collar jobs, anti-immigrant, and even racist. Well, I voted for Donald Trump and I do not fall in to even one of the above categories. I am: non-white, an immigrant, holding four college degrees, living outside the south, retired from white collar jobs, and proud of being the lone holdout among a jury who wanted to convict a 21 year old African American girl on dubious DUI charges.
I am a registered Independent with a record of voting mostly for Democrats. In fact, I became a naturalized citizen, after holding the green card for a number of years, just to vote for Bill Clinton. Not only that, I manned phone banks and drove senior citizen voters to polling booths to elect President Clinton. In addition, I donated to the presidential campaigns of Democrats Richard Gephard, Al Gore, John Kerry as well as organize fund raisers for couple of Democratic Congressmen.
Why did I vote for Donald Trump? Though I fully support his “America First” campaign, I want to mention an important concern I had that drove me to vote for Donald Trump. No matter who won the Presidency, it was very clear that the republicans were going to control the House of Representatives because of the “gerrymandering” engineered after the so called Obama Health Care Act was passed. It is very unfortunate that such a historic bill was passed by the Democrats and President Obama without the support of a single Republican. We are paying a price and will continue to pay a price for a long time because of this unilateral action.
If Hillary Clinton was elected, it was my opinion that the Government would have been paralyzed during her entire term. The Republican controlled Congress would not have passed anything that President Hillary Clinton proposed and instead subjected her to endless investigations about the email scandal. In short, the Government would have become totally impotent and would have survived from one budget cycle to another by extending the ever increasing budget deficit at the last minute. Pretty soon we would have been a third world country.
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