Under My Banyan Tree
I was sitting under the tree in my apartment last night, thinking. When Bob Mueller is ready to announce the results of his investigations into the Trump election and the manipulations by Russia, and of course any other crimes he finds, how do you think he will do it? Grabbing a microphone and standing at midfield during half-time at a Washington Redskins football game would be one way to introduce his findings to the people. And how will the report itself and its conclusions be organized?
Part of Mueller’s success will depend upon public opinion. If the public obtains a clear grasp of what the Russians did and can do and want to do, and that meshes with Mueller’s conclusions, his investigations will be imbued with further trust and gravitas; an informed and enraged populace will pressure Congress to act and punish.
The Russians are the global masters of propaganda and manipulation techniques, and can as surely as puppeteers manipulate those who don’t even realize they’re being used. As far as Trumpers claiming zero collusion, I bet that Russia spread her tenacious tentacles tickling Trump’s team-mates’ tonsils. People should watch “Putin’s Revenge”, a production of PBS’s ‘Frontline’ airing in two parts. Part 1 examines Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, his education and career in counterintelligence in the upper ranks of the Kremlin, and his growing fear and loathing of the US. Putin wasn’t elected; Leonid Brezhnev essentially handed over the presidency of Russia to him.
Part 2 focuses on how Russia has become so skillful in computer hacking and like Archimedes, can move governments by altering democratic elections. According to teasers in Part 1, the second installment dives more deeply into the cyber attacks using social media and surgical propaganda strikes. (Some in the intelligence and military community agree that what Russia did to the US in the 2016 election is not merely a virtual attack like in a video game, but an actual attack, an attack as palpable as a traditional one with bombs and missiles, and are incensed that the president remains so blasé.) Everybody who votes or who might think about voting one day should watch Part 2 in particular.
Besides the Russian choreography, in my mind, there’s already overwhelming evidence of obstruction of justice, of which the firing of James Comey is just one large piece. I think there will be financial crimes like tax evasion and financial fraud, stretching deep and wide through Trump’s henchmen, including Russian officials, oligarchs and mobsters, opaque shell companies revealed by the Panama Papers, and big-money American players who see Trump as more than just a golden wrecking ball. There might even be treason charges aimed at the highest reaches of the Trump family.
The main report will be very thick, like an Edward Rutherfurd novel, with tables, exhibits, graphs, charts, the text of witness testimony and long lists of cross-referenced evidence. There will be the political and criminal charges against Trump, arranged alphabetically or by seriousness. It will take days or weeks just to read it, and it might require lengthy appearances by Mueller and his team to explain it to Congress, DOJ, the Supreme Court, and perhaps the ghosts of the Founding Fathers.
Will he promulgate his documentation and then call it quits, “My work here is done” as if he had dropped the microphone in triumph? Will the text spread like wildfire all over the world, or will it be kept censored and secret? Will Mr Mueller appear on all the late-night talk shows, and make the rounds of Sunday interview shows? He will accrue a unique kind of investigative-law enforcement-government-rock star status. I’m ordering t-shirts.
It might be a nice twist if the Trump Organization had to sell all its skyscrapers in order to pay legal bills, fines and other penalties, and personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Donald Trump being led away in handcuffs, furious, and screaming for his lawyers.