Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
After all of the trumpeting against Donald Trump by the ‘news’media and by all Democratic politicians and many Republican politicians, about his utter untrustworthiness; and after the loads of exposés that have been published, over decades, documenting Trump’s psychopathic behaviors and business scams; what do we now have, adding to this unsavory if not criminal record by Mr. Trump, in the first criminal indictment, published on October 27th, by the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, who is tasked to nail Trump to some prison cell for crimes committed during his Presidential campaign, after Trump’s having previously racked up already such a lifetime record of alleged (and even some documented) outrages perpetrated by him?
The indictments, of Paul Manafort II and of Richard W. Gates III, make serious charges against these two men, for their allegedly laundering $75 million of income to mainly Manafort during the period from 2006 to 2015. The charges are basically tax-evasion and “a series of false and misleading statements” by them to the U.S. Department of Justice during and after the men’s subsequent work for Trump’s Presidential campaign.
This income had been derived during 2006 to 2015 from what was then the leading political Party in Ukraine, and Paragraph 10 of the Indictment states that this Party, “The Party of Regions was a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.” Is that legally relevant? Is it criminal in America for a politician in a nation that borders Russia to be “pro-Russia”? (Should it be criminal in Russia for a politician in a nation that borders America to be pro-American?) It wasn’t criminal in that neighboring country, Ukraine, to be pro-Russian, but is it criminal in America? Did a legal basis exist, during 2005 through 2014, and up till the U.S. coup that overthrew this Party in 2014, for the U.S. to outlaw this Ukrainian Party, retrospectively, after the U.S. Government had replaced their rule by the rule of one far-right Party, led by Yulia Tymoshenko, and two racist-fascist or ideologically nazi Parties — the Right Sector, and the former Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine — all three of which Parties rabidly hate Russians?
The Party of Regions had been elected to power in Ukraine’s final democratic election (2010) in which the residents in all parts of Ukraine were permitted to vote for or against candidates for Ukrainian national office. That’s what its having been called “The Party of Regions” meant: acceptance, as being part of Ukraine, of the residents in all regions of Ukraine, not discriminating against any, and not blocking any from being able to vote for President and for other national elective offices. What was illegal, anywhere (even in the United States), about that? If nothing, then why does Mueller even mention it, except in order to prejudice jurors?
The Indictment states that this Party “retained MANAFORT, through DMP and then DMI, to advance its interests in Ukraine, including the election of its slate of candidates. In 2010, its candidate for President, Yanukovych, was elected President of Ukraine.” Is that criminal, or is it instead merely prejudicial against the defendants (Manafort and Gates)? Is this Indictment designed to appeal to Americans’ prejudices, or to America’s laws?
Paragraph 11 states: “The European Centre for a Modem Ukraine (the Centre) was created in or about 2012 in Belgium as a mouthpiece for Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. The Centre was used by MANAFORT, GATES, and others in order to lobby and conduct a public relations campaign in the United States and Europe on behalf of the existing Ukraine regime. The Centre effectively ceased to operate upon the downfall of Yanukovych in 2014.” The last Ukrainian election in which the people in the parts of the country where the main language that was spoken was Russian were allowed to live in peace and to vote in Ukrainian national elections, had produced, according to Mueller, what was, until the coup “the existing regime” — not “the existing Government.” Is the presumption here that the coup-government is “the Ukrainian Government,” but that the democratically elected Government which had preceded the coup-government was instead “the existing Ukraine regime”? It contradicts the history — it contradicts the solidly documented record of what had happened there.
Then follow, until Paragraph 25, specific alleged documents that will be produced at trial in order to prove the money-laundering and the lying aimed to hide it. Paragraph 25 states that, “In November 2016 and February 2017, MANAFORT, GATES, and DMI caused false and misleading letters to be submitted to the Department of Justice, which mirrored the false cover story set out above.”
Starting with Paragraph 37 are the “Statutory Allegations” and the numbered criminal “Counts.” All pertain to the alleged money-laundering and the alleged lies in order to cover it up. Then Paragraph 52 states that upon conviction, the men “shall forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, involved in such offense, and any property traceable to such property,” etc.
Among the cited U.S. criminal laws, and their punishments, which were referenced, were:
18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) (“shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both”)
31 U.S.C. § 5322(b) (“shall be fined not more than $500,000, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both”)
22 U.S.C. § 618(a)(2) (“a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both”)
So, the expectation is that, if neither Manafort nor Gates will testify that Trump colluded with Russia in order to win the U.S. Presidency, then both Manafort and Gates will face perhaps 35 years in prison, or else be pardoned by Trump — which latter pardoning might assist his becoming replaced by either a different Republican in primaries, or else by the Democratic nominee, in 2020 — if Trump’s Presidency even lasts that long.
An editorial at the Strategic Culture Foundation on November 1st was headlined “First Indictment in Russiagate: Special Counsel Not Up to the Task”, and noted that, “Surprising or not, the indictment does not mention neither Trump nor Russia! The story is about Ukraine. Paul Manafort had ties with Ukraine’s Party of Regions, which was considered as a ‘pro-Moscow’ political force. That’s the only ‘Russia connection.’ Everything related to Manafort pertains to the period before he started to work for Donald Trump. And Rick Gates has never had any relation to the incumbent president or his team.” It goes on to note that: “Manafort’s indictment (Item 22, page 15) states very seriously that Yulia Tymoshenko had served as Ukraine’s President prior to Yanukovych! It takes a few seconds to have a look at the list of Ukraine’s presidents to find out that Yulia Timoshenko has never been the holder of the highest office.” That was actually referencing Paragraph 22 on page 16, but the point being made is accurate: The former FBI chief and now the prestigious Special Counsel chosen in order to replace Trump by Pence, is so incompetent that he permits a historical falsehood that’s documentable even merely by reference to a Wikipdeia article, to appear in Mueller’s piece of propaganda for the appointment of the rabid Russia-hater and current Vice President, Mike Pence, to complete Trump’s term-of-office.
Is this the ‘Justice’ system in a democracy, or is it now just a two-bit dictatorship that’s the fading ghost of anything that the United States of America formerly was?
It’s certainly a scandal, at the very top, and, obviously, only fools would believe that a government such as this is a democracy, at all.
So: Was Trump really this honest? Was he so honest, so that the only way he can even be framed enough for him to be forced out of office, is to unleash against him an ‘expert lawyer’ such as Mueller, who obviously isn’t even a competent piranha? In the U.S., as Alan Dershowitz has said, “A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor wants them to”. But almost all Americans believe that an indictment is itself evidence of a person’s ‘guilt’. That’s the remarkable trust the people in a dictatorship have when the dictatorship is so total that the public trust even an indictment to be the result of some kind of authentic democratic process proving something, instead of the result of an extremely effective system of public mind-control, which it is.
Mueller wasn’t hired because he’s some kind of legal whiz, but because he looks and sounds like a person who isn’t a lawyer but “who plays one on TV” — he’s the caricature of the part. And, in a dictatorship, that’s the type of person who fills the bill, especially for an assignment like this one.
The minority-leader in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Charles Schumer, said when Mueller was appointed, “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” If they ‘lead’ to Trump, and to Russia, it will apparently be by way of Manafort, Gates, and the last democratically elected government that Ukraine had, which the U.S. Government overthrew by means of a bloody coup, which produced an ongoing ethnic-cleansing campaign (‘civil war’) to get rid of the voters who had enabled the ousted democratically elected President of Ukraine to have been elected.
In addition to the October 27th indictments of Manafort and Gates, there was on October 5th a signed guilty plea by an unpaid but self-inflated volunteer for the Trump campaign, who had solicited from, allegedly, the Russian Government, via a third party, “dirt” that the third party alleged to have somehow acquired against candidate Hillary Clinton, and the “Statement of the Offense” to which he signed included no “dirt” against Donald Trump, and no cooperation with the defendant on the part of Trump’s campaign, other than that the campaign, on one occasion in candidate Trump’s presence, heard this “advisor to the campaign” state in general terms what the third-party informer was seeking to deliver to the campaign. The defendant, George Papadopoulos, confessed there to having lied to the FBI. What, if anything, the ‘Justice’ Department had agreed to (the other side of this plea-deal) in order to extract these admissions from Papadopoulos, is not known. The confession didn’t allege that the Trump campaign authorized, nor ever accepted, the alleged offer, which Papadopoulos had allegedly midwifed, but which, apparently, aborted, never delivered.
On October 30th, Vanity Fair magazine headlined “MUELLER’S RUSSIAN COLLUSION CASE COMES INTO FOCUS”, and Abigail Tracy reported and linked to the “Statement of the Offense.” Then, on November 1st, that magazine’s Gabriel Sherman bannered “‘YOU CAN’T GO ANY LOWER’: INSIDE THE WEST WING, TRUMP IS APOPLECTIC AS ALLIES FEAR IMPEACHMENT”, and reported that Sherman’s sources inside the White House were panicking (which hardly makes sense) and that “Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call.” Sherman reported that, “For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.” No explanation was provided for that allegedly “realistic outcome” to result from either the Manafort-Gates indictments or the Papadopoulos plea-deal.
Mueller has indicted his two ham-sandwiches, regarding their allegedly hiding and lying about their income from the pre-coup leading political Party in Ukraine, and has gotten an unpaid Trump-campaign volunteer to admit only to his own lying to the FBI about what he himself had done. There is still no testimony against Trump, nor against anyone in his Administration. Is Trump really so honest, that this piranha, Mueller, can’t yet bite even close to this President? Not a big bite — not any bite at all? Really? And the Trump White House now considers impeachment “a realistic outcome” — from this? Maybe some reasonable explanation exists, other than: Trump’s team want to keep their ‘lows’ as low as possible until, late in his term, the shoddiness of the campaign against him becomes undeniable, and so sets him up for a stunning re-election, as the least-disgusting of the Presidential options, from amongst which, the American electorate will be allowed to choose, in 2020.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.