It was one of the highlights of a day full of highlights in the testimony of ex FBI Director James Comey. Sitting composed at the table, his hands and forearms resting on the table in front of him, leaning slightly forward to speak into the microphone, Comey uttered the words everybody was waiting to hear, “The President told me, ‘I need loyalty. I expect loyalty’ ”. There it was, no more news articles based on “anonymous sources”, the man came right out and said it.
Once the hearing was over, almost every commentator and panelist on both CNN and MSNBC said variations of the same thing, “Trump sounded like the Godfather”, and “It was like a scene from the Godfather, waiting for a pledge of loyalty, and holding his hand out for his ring to be kissed”, and “Trump is running a mafia family out of the White House”. It was just a natural.
Being a native Chicagoan, and well versed in mob history in the city, as well as a voracious reader of all things The Law vs The Mob, it brought a scene immediately into my head. It’s the scene in “The Untouchables”, where Al Capone (Robert DeNiro), furious after yet another Eliot Ness (Kevin Kostner) raid on one of his bootlegging operations pounds the table with his finger, yelling at his underlings, “I want that nancy boy Ness DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go in the middle of the night and PISS on the ashes”. Fits perfectly, doesn’t it?
Except it’s bass-ackwards. Trump isn’t going to lay a finger on Robert Mueller, even if he fires him, it won’t accomplish his goal. It’s not Mueller who’s in the crosshairs here, it’s Trump. And not just Trump, his entire family, other than Barron and Melania are already in, or soon will be in the crosshairs, along with his business “house”.
Just like Al Capone, Trump is furious. He’s furious because for the first time he’s being confronted with someone he can’t control or intimidate. Federal law enforcement. And just like Eliot Ness and the rest of the Untouchables, they’re following the money. I honestly think that Trump unquestionably believes that he personally can skate from the Russian collusion beef. Flunkies like Manafort, Flynn and Page may get caught up in that net, but Trump cares no more for or about them than he does one of the H-1-B visa imported workers at Mar-A-Lago.
But the money trail can kill him. The Feds aren’t just going to look at the period of the campaign and his 5 months of Presidential buffoonery. They’re going to go back years, and even if there is real estate or financial hanky-panky with the Russians years ago, that’ll count. Not only may the statute of limitations not have run out yet on some of these shenanigans, but even if the Russians originally thought that they just had a “useful idiot” for their money laundering schemes, once he got elected, he became an asset, with a built in club they had to hold over his head.
And the risk and damage is not only contained to Trump himself. The Special Prosecutor is now looking at his son in law, Jared Kushner. Not only are they looking for possible collusion for his meetings with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, and his meeting with a Russian banker Gorkov, running the New York branch of the US sanctioned VEB bank, they’re looking into his company dealings as well. And somehow or other, I just get the feeling that a spoiled rich kid who is vindictive enough to sue tenants who had already moved out before the sale for back rent, and careless enough to let his sister get caught pimping H-1-B visas to rich Chinese investors for $500,000 for a turkey project they’re trying to push is not exactly going to be a criminal mastermind at hiding his company wheelings and dealings.
Not only that, but Baby Donnie and Eric are potentially in deep kimchi as well. The NY Attorney General is already looking into Eric’s charitable foundation, thanks in large part to his fathers unbridled greed. Both sons were heavily involved in the campaign from pretty much day one. If there was collusion, it’s hard to see how they could be unaware, and if there was, you can probably pretty much guarantee that somebody else will roll on them to save their own ass. The FBI is now investigating an attempted hack on the Trump Organization computers, much to the panic of not only the Boobsy Twins, but their old man too. Once they start digging around in the hard drive, who knows what kind of financial skullduggery the FBI might uncover in there.
Even his pride and joy, Ivanka has not escaped unscathed, and it may get worse. Her brand has already taken a hit and sparked howls of protests from her apparent willingness to farm her lines of shit out to sweatshops to save a buck here and there. So much for that “empowering women” crock. And if this scandal gets a bit too messy in the international implications, one can’t help but wonder how many of those “provisional” Chinese patents she got the day after she kissed the Chinese President’s at a at a state dinner might suddenly be revoked, especially since Agent Orange publicly slapped China over North Korea.
The Trumps and Kushner got away with any corners they cut for a long time for two simple reasons, old money and influence. I have little doubt that Trump’s tax return is about the size of the Manhattan white pages, and Kushner about the size of Toledo’s. As long as only their lifestyle was flamboyant, they were safe. They have been rich for a long time, and as long as nobody raised a waving red flag, nobody would go looking into their personal or company finances. Then Daddums had to go and piss off the only people in the country with the time, motivation and resources to start turning over rocks. They never thought it could happen, but they finally butted up against a power greater than their own.
Donald Trump spent 71 years building a life, a company, and a family. He made himself into a household name, and his brand made it possible for his family and his children to lead pampered and privileged lives. 71 years to build, but with his narcissism, overpowering ego, and his delusions of power and grandeur it may only take a year or two to burn the whole house down to the ground. And if Mr. Comey is feeling righteously vindictive, he can figuratively “go in the middle of the night and piss on the ashes”. Why not? He started the fire.