Trump and GOP redefine terms “conflict of interest”

By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook

It would be a glaring conflict of interest for you or me to hire our son, daughter, or other relative in our office with tax dollars. Not so for Trump. Likewise, it would be a conflict of interest if any of our local elected officials had the power to appoint a relative or campaign loyalist as chairman of a committee investigating them for misconduct. But that is exactly what is happening with the Trump-Russia investigation by Congress. Trump tells the GOP I need you to protect me from the truth in this investigation, and immediately they fall all over themselves throwing up roadblocks to public access to public records that document Trump’s wrongdoing. And they start new meritless investigations on Hillary Clinton, their favorite target, and witnesses courageous enough to come forward and tell the truth. In the law, I think it is called witness tampering when intimidation and threats of harm are used to discourage witness testimony. The U.S. government under Trump and GOP rule is starting to resemble the way Trump’s favorite friend, Putin, runs things in the Kremlin.

Recently GPS Fusion’s spokesperson testified before GOP Senator Grassley’s Senate Judiciary Committee on the Steele Dossier, reported to provide evidence of Trump’s involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election. Before the testimony, both Grassley and GPS Fusion indicated that the transcript of the testimony would be made public. However, last week after pleas from Trump for Republicans to protect him, Grassley did an about face and refused to release the transcript. Further, he has launched an all out assault against Christopher Steele, the former British spy who developed the report/ dossier, and GPS Fusion, the political research company that hired Steele to do the research. Steele considered a reliable intelligence source for the FBI and CIA, and GPS Fusion, a reputable research firm, were ambushed by Republicans who have obviously decided to conspire with the President in hiding the truth from the public. Last week both Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, who promised to follow the facts wherever they led in the Mueller investigation, have now called for a special investigation against Steele and GPS Fusion, with no specific charge of wrong doing against them. It is clear from GOP behavior that the testimony was not good for Trump; and now they are using intimidation tactics to discourage Steele from coming to the U.S. to testify in the Mueller investigation. Every political and legal expert who has followed the Trump-Russia investigation agree there are no grounds to launch a criminal investigation against Fusion and Steele except to cover up potential evidence of crimes by the President, his family, and administration. Two prominent members of Trump’s campaign have already been indicted and are awaiting trials. Two top advisers in his administration have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Steve Bannon, once among the most loyal Trumpites, is now spilling the beans in Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury about Trump’s family possible collusion and money laundering. It has Republicans closing ranks around their President.

Further, Trump has been viciously attacking his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for not putting loyalty to him ahead of the rule of law by recusing himself from involvement in the Russia investigation; since he too was among Trump campaign officials who met with Russians in 2016. Trump has declared in tweets and to staff that Sessions should have stayed on the case to protect him. This man has no honor or regard for laws that apply to the rest of Americans. He feels being president places him above the law. Last week he took his full staff and cabinet, except Jeff Sessions, to Camp David for a retreat. It is widely speculated that he will terminate Sessions for his betrayal in choosing to abide by the law instead of Trump’s insistence on loyalty to him above the law.

And I have saved the best example of moral decay and corruption in this administration for last. California Representative Devin Nunes is that example. He has proven himself to be a fool and an embarrassment to his state; while at the same time among the most loyal converts to the corruption in the White House. He is also another perfect example of conflict of interest. Nunes was a Trump campaign supporter and served on the President’s transition team. Surprisingly, he is also chairman of the House Intelligence Committee charged with investigating possible entanglement by the Trump campaign with Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election. How could it be legal to have a member of the group being investigated leading the investigation? It should, therefore, come as no surprise that he has tried every trick in the book to intimidate and threaten Trump accusers, and to find any excuse to fire the special counsel and shut down the Russia investigation. He has openly declared himself a Trump defender, rather than carrying out the responsibilities of the committee.

The only investigations that need to be shut down, therefore, are these Congressional committees headed by Trump partisans wasting tax dollars required for American needs.

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