Pam's Points: Trump gives us whiplash, connect-the-dots Russia puzzle

Pam's Points: Trump gives us whiplash, connect-the-dots Russia puzzle

September 18th, 2017 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Photo by Evan Vucci

Follow the Russia dots

The Washington Post reported last week that four big Trump/Russia stories flew under the news radar — or were reported less as Russia stories and more as White House intrigue stories.

The Post put it this way: "A questionable ethics move. A fascinating expansion of the Russia-collusion investigation. Unmasking unmasked. And a humiliating experience for Trump's attorney general."

* First there was the ethics question. As special counsel Robert Mueller questions more people in the White House, they lawyer up. And they set up legal defense funds to pay the lawyers. Since the Clinton administration, lobbyists could donate to those funds anonymously. The idea was if you don't know which lobbyist gives you money, you won't owe them anything, the Post writes.

The Bush and Obama administrations discouraged the practice, but Politico reports that the new head of Donald Trump's Office of Government Ethics revived the rule. Of course, there's nothing to keep donors from simply telling the recipient — since they are certain to want something.

With ethics like this, why not just throw open the door and allow signed birthday cards? Oh, but wait, that would make following the money far too easy for all of us out here in Joe Public land.

* The second big Russia story is that investigators are looking into Micheal Flynn's son, who the elder Flynn briefly had working with him during his own brief time in the Trump administration. You know, the belatedly registered foreign agent-turned-Trump national security adviser who apparently needed the expertise of a younger Flynn (whose degree is in golf course management).

* The third stealth Russia story about who was unmasking whom when Trump accused the Obama White House of wiretapping Trump Tower. Susan Rice told Congress last week that she asked intelligence officials to share the redacted identities of Trump aides in intelligence reports — and with good reason.

Members of the world's royalties are supposed to tell America when they visit our country — for obvious security and diplomatic reasons. So when crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Emirates showed up unannounced in New York last year, she requested to know the names of Americans who met with him. Those Americans, it appears, may have been Trump advisers.

It's unclear precisely which Trump officials Rice discussed at the House meeting, but CNN reported that multiple sources confirmed that Zayed met with Michael Flynn, the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon.

That New York meeting preceded an effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House. The next month — in January — the UAE brokered a clandestine meeting in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean to open lines of communications with the United States and Russia, according to CNN and The Washington Post.

* Russia story No. 4: It was the Russia probe that led to the dressing-down of Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Remember what got FBI head Jim Comey.)

Angered and publicly irate at Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation — thereby leading to the appointment of special counsel Mueller — Trump told Sessions he should resign, accused him of disloyalty and called him an idiot — to his face.

Sessions later told associates the episode was the most humiliating experience of his multi-decade public service career.

All these little stories are beginning to paint quite the complete picture — and nothing seems unrelated to Russia.


Call it a deal and Trump will like it

It was just seven words, but it turned the Republican agenda into jelly.

"We're working on a plan for DACA."

The words came from President Trump, whose on-again, off-again rage at all things immigration, now seems to be melting into the mush we've come to know as his mind. He was referring to a possible (and encouraging) deal to protect the young immigrants brought here as children and now known as the Dreamers.

The president said the legislation must be accompanied by a "massive" border security upgrade. But he added that the package did not need to include funding for a wall.

The New York Times aptly noted that the GOP has "muscled" through its failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, punted on the perennial brinkmanship over the debt ceiling and finally reached the one issue that all of the party's factions wanted to be on, tax reform.

"Then, over a Chinese dinner at the White House with the two top Democrats on Capitol Hill, President Trump threw that momentary sense of satisfaction into disarray, forcing Republicans to confront the subject that packs more emotional and political force than anything they had on their busy agenda: immigration," the Times wrote.

But, hey, that was just Thursday and Friday. Who knows, by this morning "Amnesty Don," as Breitbart News tagged our president, might have deported half of America.

Who needs car accidents when we can all get whiplash just by watching the president?

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