Sunday, July 16, 2017

'The Gang That Couldn't Lie Straight'

"The prosecution calls Rhona Graff."

Rhona -- that's the name. If Robert Mueller knows what he's doing, Rhona will play the role of Rosemary – Rosemary Woods -- in the 2017 remake of that immense thing that toppled a president in 1974, in what HBO's John Oliver has dubbed "Stupid Watergate."

Woods was the White House secretary asked to explain the gap in tapes revealing Richard Nixon's role in activities that led to his departure.

Graff is Donald Trump's long-time secretary. We know about her now because of emails that once again affirm that this administration and this president are to deceit what Edison was to lighting.

Russian collusion? White House chief of staff, Reince Preibus, called it a "nothing burger." From what we now know, if one is to insist on burger terms, former prosecutor and ex-Mueller aide Samuel Buell calls it "more like a Whopper." Stephen Colbert calls it an "all-you-can-prosecute buffet."

We now know about the meeting Donald Trump Jr. arranged with Russians who said they had information courtesy of their government that would hurt Hillary Clinton.

The email from Russia-connected publicist Rob Goldstone setting up the meeting said, "I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra-sensitive so wanted to send to you first."

Trump Jr. said the meeting produced nothing. Regardless, four days after the meeting, his father told a campaign crowd that he'd have a "major speech" that would reveal "all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons."

The amazing thing about Team Trump throughout this scandal is how difficult the lies have been to maintain.

In the Bush-Cheney White House, the institutional discipline to stay consistent with the falsehoods that sold the invasion of Iraq was a thing of beauty.

This White House? In its attempt to deceive, it is a cat burglar in mud-caked galoshes.

Trump fires James Comey. Rationale trotted out: Comey's handling of Hillary and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's urging. Nothing to do with Russia there. Then Trump tells Lester Holt it was his idea all along -- and indeed it was because of the Russia investigation.

Thanks, Mr. President, for telling us what we knew all along.

The other day Trump tweeted that he and Vlad Putin have agreed to an "impenetrable cyber security unit" to combat hacking – a concession from Putin akin to the family dog's agreeing to be agreeable to squirrels.

Oh, wait. Two days later, Trump tweets that this can't happen and won't. Thanks for telling us, Mr. President, what we knew all along.

Trump Jr. first said that the meeting in Trump Tower was about Russian adoptions. Sure it was. That's why campaign manager Paul Manafort was on hand along with bro-in-law-assigned-to-restructure-the-world, Jared Kushner.

Now from the emails, we find plain affirmation of something of which every Republican official, and every Fox News talking head, has said no evidence exists: collusion.

Thanks, Donald Jr., for telling us what we knew all along.

The problem is that now the focus is on a 30-something trust-fund baby who's in way over his head, his collar too tight, his hair over-lubricated. Just as the focus a few weeks ago was on Mike Flynn, then on Manafort, then on Jeff Sessions, before Kushner. (Unfair. Jared is soooo busy restructuring the world.)

What a joke. It is utterly absurd from all that we know now not to focus on one slimily compromise politician: Donald Trump.

True to form, he'll probably do something shortly to affirm the collusion that's so self-evident. For now we'll ask a variant of the No. 1 question during Watergate:

"What did Rhona know, and when did she know it?"

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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