Thomas Barrack Indictment: Read It For Yourself

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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  1. Dark Matter
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    says:

    The charging documents do not claim that Barrack, who chaired Trump’s inaugural committee, was paid for his secret lobbying work.

    That seems like a problem.

    But a UAE sovereign wealth fund has invested significantly in Colony Capital, the investment firm Barrack founded and ran for years before he stepped down as executive chairman this year.

    I can’t tell if this relationship predates Trump, I also can’t tell if it’s money laundering or just what he does (see also: The Clinton Foundation). Granted, Barrack is clearly pro-UAE.

    Possibilities:
    1) Barrack may have crossed over legal lines he didn’t realize existed.
    2) Barrack may have been opperating as a foreign agent.
    3) Someone may be playing “show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” with people around Trump.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Dark Matter
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      says:

      Given that Michael Flynn was indicated and convicted for the same thing I think choice 2 is most likely.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Dark Matter
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      says:

      With regard to 3), guns, fish, and barrels come to mind.Report

    • North in reply to Dark Matter
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      says:

      Ah yes, the Trump Foundation and the Clinton Foundation;
      The former has been shut down after being charged with (and Trump himself admitting to some of): Failure to maintain proper governance and transparency as is required of charitable organizations; soliciting donations without a license (which is required for charitable organizations), generally mishandling and misappropriating funds, specific misuse and misappropriation of funds for Trumps political campaign, specific misappropriation and misuse of funds for Trumps personal use and business use to name but a handful of its problems.

      The latter has been formally charged with… nothing. It suffers under evidence of… no misbehavior. It operates… like any other charitable foundation BUT is the subject of rafts of creative imaginary allegations from the right.

      I am puzzled about how you possibly could look at these two things and consider them synonymous.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to North
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        TCF was set up to follow the written rule of the law. It is not illegal and has never been.

        Sort of like Clinton selling pardons wasn’t illegal. Magically one Clinton gives out a pardon and the other Clinton accepts a million dollars, and this doesn’t quite meet the burden of proof for Quid Quo even if there’s no possible reason for the pardon other than the money and vise versa.

        TCF allowed the spouse of the Secretary of State to accept from various overseas governments and shady organisations. We can’t draw a line from the money to any political action even though all the money disappeared the moment they lost power.

        And yes, I know the money never went into their personal pockets, it was just used in the same way that a Billionaire does it. Donations to Lefty causes to buy influence. Jobs for Clinton insiders between political gigs.

        The Trump Foundation is run by a scum bag who views “ethics” as “what is forced by law if the other side can pay for it”. Trump doesn’t mind getting sued, he doesn’t even mind losing occasionally, it’s just a cost of doing business.

        So for example if you enter into a deal to put beds into a Trump hotel, after you put them in he’ll refuse to pay. Then he’ll “renegotiate” how much he gives you by saying it’s more than you’d get if you sue him after lawyer fees. For all that the Trump Empire has a reality to it going beyond a political slush fund.

        Big picture they’re synonymous because they showcase the disconnect between the law and ethics. We can lump in there the $600k/year joke jobs various children of politicians have had… which would be illegal if US companies did that for foreigners but our own political children as exempted.Report

        • North in reply to Dark Matter
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          says:

          That’s a lot of speculation to cloud the fact that you’re equating the entirely speculative and unsubstantiated allegations against the Clinton foundation to the substantiated, conceded and penalized facts of the fraudulence of the Trump Foundation and Trump himself.

          You can totally make up all the stories you’d like about the Clintons. Possibly some of them are even true. But none of them are substantiated and even if they were you can’t even demonstrate they’re criminal. Trump, on the other hand, is a fraudster. His foundation had to settle and shut down because he was flat out taking the money for his own pockets and using it for direct benefit of his business, his family and his finances. This isn’t left wing stories, this isn’t fanciful imagination, this is formal charges, formal concessions and formal settlements that resulted in the Trump foundation being formally shut down.

          I will certainly allow that the Clintons flat out indulged in this stuff that, at a minimum, had enough appearance of impropriety to send the right into paroxysms of imagination. It’s a fine thing that Chelsea Clinton has no political ambitions because it’s probably salutary to have the Clintons and their baggage out of the lime light. The double standard the right has on this stuff still gob smacks me. They literally nominated, elected and vociferously supported a dude who actually does all the stuff they imagine left wing politicians do.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to North
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            says:

            It’s not a double standard. If it’s ethical to sell pardons and have the SoS running a personal “charity” that accepts money from the people/companies/countries she deals with, then that’s the standard. Almost anyone is going to look less ethically challenged.

            That is hardly me “making things up”, this is all extremely well documented.

            Trump’s supporters could reasonable make the claim that he wouldn’t do similar things because he was already rich, and that his “foundation fraud” was such a tiny part of his overall business that it was more an oversight issue than anything else.

            Of course that ignores Trump being unethical is a lifestyle choice for him. He has ways to distance himself from the “get arrested” level of unethicality, but he’s the source. For example he hires lawyers based on their personality (very aggressive, not caring very much about the law). Give them general orders not based on reality, don’t give them enough of a budget to make people Trump has damaged whole, and then fire them when they get themselves disbarred.

            Now the interesting part is the degree to which being the President protected him from sensible evaluations. That’s a large problem and it’s intrinsic to the office of the Presidency.Report

            • North in reply to Dark Matter
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              says:

              It certainly looks like a double standard to me. The Clinton foundation has absolutely nothing that proves that it’s been operated untowardly. Nothing. But it gets called a “Charity” and put on the same level, by you, as a foundation that is a documented and convicted fraud operation and that has been shut down by a court of law. We see this again and again on the right. Right wing administrations and politicians have astonishing degrees of scandals and they’re held as equivalent to non-scandals that exist primarily in the imagination of right wing commenters. How is that not a double standard?Report

              • JS in reply to North
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                says:

                There’s a reason it’s always projection with the GOP.

                It neutralizes their flaws by convincing the easily swayed that their own sins don’t matter, because their opponents are just as bad. Or worse.

                it’s highly cynical, but as Dark Matter shows here — it works really, really well.

                Trump is crazy? Biden must be crazy. Roy Moore is a pedophile, then [insert random democrat] has to be one.

                heck, it’s so useful it even works on third-party sorts so they can justify sitting out, or voting third party, without worry. Because Republicans and Democrats are the same, so what’s anything matter at all?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to JS
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                says:

                If we’re talking about “sanity”, then Trump seems demented, which is unrelated to him being a narcissistic sociopath (he’s always been that). Biden may be having issues with Alzheimer’s. Note “may” is the same as “or may not”.

                Big picture, Political power attracts people who shouldn’t be trusted with political power. Just to run you need to be pretty Narcissistic and imho there’s a selection for Sociopathy.

                There is also the STRONG tendency to back your own guy and ignore whatever he (or your team) has been doing wrong while highlighting the other side. This results in a world view that thinks just putting a “D” or “R” by your name says something about ethics.

                My strong expectation is just putting a “D” or “R” by your name means nothing for your ethics nor your level of corruption.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                Insisting that there’s nothing to see does NOT do your cause any good.

                The Clintons accept money with one hand and give out political favors with the other and, because of some legal fig-leaf, it’s not open corruption? Even if the money instantly goes away when the political power does?

                With the selling pardons we had that famous GOP pundit Jimmy Carter saying there was clearly a link between the money and the pardon.

                All this is “imagination”?Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter
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                On one hand, we have objective fact, the Trump Foundation: tried in a court of law, settled, conceded by the guilty party (Trump) with concrete penalties handed down (the dissolution of the Foundation).

                On the other hand we have the Clinton Foundation. No facts, no charges, no trial, no evidence, no convictions, no admission of guilt, no punishment. All there is against it are specious assertions, empty speculation and vague quotes. “The Clintons accept money with one hand and give out political favors with the other” You say. Except that no political favors can be linked to contributions to said foundation. And, as you yourself conceded, the money that goes into the Foundation doesn’t go to the Clintons, it goes to the recipients of the Foundations charitable works.

                You are holding these two things up and are saying “these two things are the same- equivalent.” How on earth can you say that with a straight face? I honestly don’t follow- help me out here.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                says:

                You are holding these two things up and are saying “these two things are the same- equivalent.” How on earth can you say that with a straight face? I honestly don’t follow- help me out here.

                I’m not using the standard of proof which says the Clinton’s can’t be arrested for selling pardons so clearly there is no problem.

                I’m using a standard of proof which says when we see money mysteriously changing hands for no good reason, and that money stops changing hands when we take political benefit off the table, there are clear problems.

                I look at Trump and say his shit stinks.
                You look at the Clintons and say theirs doesn’t.

                The double standard is yours, not mine.Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                I’m not actually taking a position on if the Clintons traded influence for cash. I remain highly skeptical that funneling it through a charity would be particularly useful to them but if evidence were produced suggesting that is what happened I’d consider it. Of course no such evidence has been produced despite extensive searching by multiple interested parties both within and outside of government.

                So on one hand you have a individual charged, convicted and confessed of fraud. On the other hand you have a couple who’ve only been alleged of malfeasance with no evidentiary basis beyond the imagination of various highly motivated right wing actors. I still don’t see how you can claim it’s the same.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                says:

                I’m looking at what they’re doing legally, not what they’re accused of doing. That’s why you get to say there’s no evidence of a crime and I agree.

                The difference is you leap from “they can’t be arrested for this” to claiming there’s no problem while I say there obviously is a problem.

                I’m not actually taking a position on if the Clintons traded influence for cash.

                This is an amazing statement considering the entire “selling pardons” thing. It means you’re disagreeing with Jimmy Carter as well as “the motivated right wing”.

                Trump’s 2 million dollar ethical problem with his charity was illegal. The Clinton’s 2-3 Billion dollar charity was legal.

                I consider the later to be FAR more of a problem than the former because it’s legal open corruption of the government, exactly like the Pardons thing.

                Why did Blackwater think giving money to TCF was worthwhile? Do they give money to other charities when they’re not killing people? Ditto the Saudis, was TCF one of their efforts at building Islam or did HRC being SoS have something to do with this.

                We can be good kindergarteners and decide there is a Santa Claus and HRC losing the election had nothing to do with her charity being dropped by various governments and businesses. However this is way past the appearance of corruption even if it’s not provably illegal.

                IMHO “not provably illegal” is NOT the same as “ethical”. The difference between TCF and Trump’s was he paid a fine (that time).Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter
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                My point is that there’s no proof of any of this alleged influence for cash unethical behavior. it’s entirely speculative and entirely unproven. The illegal behavior that Trumps foundation got up to is now legal and historical fact.

                As for the alleged Clinton foundation unethical behavior: all you have is hearsay and supposition. Yeah a bunch of actors gave bunches of money to the Clinton Foundation during Clintons stint as SoS and candidate for President. Missing is any proof that they got ANYTHING out of doing so (despite in depth investigations by both the media and state investigators). Or that Clinton was somehow able to extract personal benefit from their charitable contributions (despite, again, extensive investigation by people who were highly motivated to find and expose such chicanery). The simplest answer to your question of “why did these actors make these contributions” is that they thought they’d benefit or they did so because Clinton was in a highly visible position at the time.

                Perhaps you can make an argument that the Clintons alleged cash for influence scheme is more corrosive than Trumps naked corruption IF the Clintons alleged cash for influence scheme actually exists- which so far has not been proven. It hasn’t even been proven to be likely.

                So, Trump Foundation: objectively proven and confessed fraud and corruption. TCF: alleged corruption (but not fraud) and no proof what so ever. Equivalent? How?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to North
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                says:

                I’m sure some of the donors to TCF thought they were going to secure favors in return for their donations. If they got what they paid for, there is as yet no evidence of it. And of course they would stop making donations when HRC was no longer in a position to do them any favors, whether she would have done them or not. All the more so if they didn’t get what they thought they had paid for the first time.
                To be sure, I would have advised not getting into a position where things could so easily be made to look bad, but that’s different from whether anyone paid for favors and got them.Report

              • North in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                Yeah, I liked HRC and thought she’d have made a good President but she fished up the election for a second time. The one good thing that Trump winning caused was an end to the Clinton era. The both of them just reveled in dancing in that grey area that, whether it was shady or not, sure as heck looked shady and could be marketed as shady.

                I am too young to know if this was something BIll and Hill were prone to from the get go or if it was an attitude they adopted since the right was going to accuse them of everything up to and including murder anyhow so why even try and look fully on the up and up.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                says:

                I am too young to know if this was something BIll and Hill were prone to from the get go

                It’s from the get go.

                I’ve thought she was a sociopath since Travelgate which was a Clinton day 1 thing (I’ll skip my reasoning). And you can google “clinton scandal cattle trading” to see what she was up to before they came into the White House.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                says:

                Far as I can tell (judging from the Pardons’ methodology), what the Clinton’s were doing was Chinese style “relationship” funding/building. You give money to them to build a relationship, at some undefined point in the future they’ll do a favor for you.

                The simplest answer to your question of “why did these actors make these contributions” is that they thought they’d benefit or they did so because Clinton was in a highly visible position at the time.

                Yup. All those Billionaires are just stupid naïve fools, that’s how they became rich. When the Clintons aren’t selling pardons they’re totally, absolutely ethical, in a “not provably illegal in a court of law” type of way.

                The Clintons just stumble from cash mess to cash mess, and they remain innocent lambs. It’s just not their fault people insist on giving them money. They try and try to stop it and nothing worked other than losing political power.

                Note other politicians, Bush, Obama, Carter, etc have managed to avoid this problem but it just follows Trump and the Clintons around.

                The big difference between Trump and the Clintons is they stay inside the letter of the law (as opposed to the spirit much less appearance of wrongdoing) while he’s willing to pay criminal fines if the net of it is profitable.

                Given how the Trump Organization is basically a big F.U. to normal good governance rules I’d be surprised if he wasn’t doing TCF on steroids. We saw hints of that occasionally with China giving his kids access to land and so on.

                Equivalent? How?

                They’re equiv because they’re both clearly problems (as showcased with the whole pardons thing with the Clintons) and their side’s supporters do moral backflips and put on blinders to avoid seeing that.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                By “letter of the law” I mean “not provable in a court of law”. So if they’re not allowed to talk to each other about [something] but to prove it we’d have to somehow break privilege and have one spouse testify against the other, then it didn’t happen.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                . You give money to them to build a relationship, at some undefined point in the future they’ll do a favor for you.

                That’s what politicians do. Then polite word for it is “access”.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                The first problem is foreign governments to buying “access” to our politicians is illegal because it’s corrupting.

                The second problem is we have people swearing this isn’t what is happening. That it’s not buying access. That seems unlikely the context of people who are clearly money motivated and who have been for sale in other situations. The strong implication is the big Teams view protecting their own much more important than ethics (Trump is another example).

                The third problem is multiple billions of dollars with a “B” implies a lot of access. If a million dollars legally buys you a pardon, then what does 100 million buy you?

                The 4th problem is giving multiple billions of dollars to someone who is very power hungry and self seeking so they can use it right up to the line of corruption (where the line is “can be proven in a court of law”) seems like something that could be legally abused.

                All our investigations have been focused on “illegal”, rather than “making public what is going on”… although granted, that second is HARD when everyone involved is strongly motivated to pretend it’s just a charity or turn this into a witch hunt.

                Similarly I find it more than a little unethical how the children of big name politicians find extremely well paid joke jobs for which they’re obviously unqualified. This is corrupting enough that we outlawed it for other countries.Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Except, and I repeat myself, there’s no proof of any quid pro quo. The only thing you have on the TCF is money being contributed to it and a mountain of speculation. The Trump Foundations malfeasance is a proven matter of record. The Clinton Foundations malfeasance remains an allegation with no supporting proof.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                says:

                there’s no proof of any quid pro quo.

                So you don’t see any problems with the Clintons selling pardons?

                You disagree with Carter and are claiming there was no ethical problems there?Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                The Clintons were selling pardons through the Clinton Foundation? What are you talking about?
                Also right wingers have been ignoring pronouncements from Carter since he was President; why is he suddenly an authority on this… uh non sequitur?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                says:

                The Clintons were selling pardons through the Clinton Foundation? What are you talking about?

                I am pointing out that your arguments apply identically well to her Pardon scandal.

                The Clintons sold a Pardon for a million dollars without it being illegal because there was no proof of any quid pro quo.

                The ethical standard you’re trying to insist on, applied to the Pardons, says the Pardons weren’t a problem.

                I’m asking you if that’s really your opinion there, and if not then why not.Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                If ya wanna talk about pardons instead of the two foundations that’s a separate subject. I’d certainly agree that the pardons were unseemly, as pardons have been since, what, Ford pardoned Nixon? Earlier?

                I disagree, however, that there’s much comparison with the two foundations. The Clinton Foundation hasn’t even done anything that even looked particularly unseemly whereas the Trump Foundation is a convicted and confessed organ of graft and fraud. Which is why I picked on you in the first place when you tried to suggest the two were the same.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to North
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                says:

                If you think the pardons are a problem because of ethics, then you’re applying a different level of proof and different standards than you’re trying to apply with TCF.

                Every thing you said about TCF also can be said about the pardons. No clear quid quo. Not a crime.

                The problems I have with the pardons are exactly the same problems I have with TCF.

                Now Trump’s thing is easier, it’s clearly illegal (and unethical) but if memory serves it also didn’t involve gov power so it’s not a corruption of the gov.Report

              • Philip H in reply to North
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                says:

                This reminds me of all the noise made about Planned Parenthood by the Right. Apparently they can’t from the notion that taking private donations to cover abortions means federal grants can cover other women’s health services. Because PP wouldn’t have clean audits for granting agencies or some such.Report

              • JS in reply to North
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                says:

                FWIW, the last cutting edge attacks on the Clinton Foundation were that, in fact, she was bribed via kudos.

                That is, people donated to the Foundation, and while she didn’t receive any cash or do any favors, by donating to her Foundation they made it look more successful, which made her look more successful, which made her run for President easier.

                In short, they claimed actors bribed Clinton by “making her look good” and assured everyone she’d “pay them back” later, somehow. Magically.

                It’s a very stupid story, and anyone who keeps screaming about the CF is….well, let’s say they’re not sending their best out to die on that hill.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to JS
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                says:

                Give me a couple of Billion dollars that I can’t use for my personal needs but I can use to create jobs and donate to political activists and I’m sure I can find a way to earn political favors.

                The Right Wing stupidly gets hung up on “it’s illegal”. Part of that is it’s a good sound bite and they don’t care about the facts. Part of that is I’m sure that their Billionaries do the same things to influence people.

                Part of that is the Clintons are an exceptionally rare corner case. Two politicians who are lawyers and married to each other have ways to game the system. This is (so far) unique and we’re not going to reform marriage laws to stop it.

                And yes, part of that is no one really wants serious ethics reform. Hunter Biden and Chelsea Clinton got serious money via things that we’ve outlawed for foreigners, but there are a ton of GOP children who do as well.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                I actually agree with you, if your point here is that our politics are driven by the yawning hunger for money which warps and corrupts our political class regardless of party.

                So the question isn’t about the Clintons or Trump any more, it becomes what do we as citizens do about the pernicious influence of moneyed interests?

                What sort of measures can we take to restrict the power of lobbyists and campaign donors?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                What sort of measures can we take to restrict the power of lobbyists and campaign donors?

                Increase campaign financing, a lot.

                There’s a ton of other things I’d do ethics wise but that’s the big one.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to JS
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                says:

                This is very reminiscent of Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama. He went to prison because he had re-appointed someone to a non-paid position on a state hospital regulatory board after the guy contributed to a campaign for a ballot initiative Siegelman’s favored. Really, it was as tenuous as that, but Siegelman was a Democrat and the prosecutor’s husband was a longtime ally of Karl Rove.Report

  2. Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    The scandal is that this was in no way an anomaly or a one off.
    What we had was an administration whose major players ignored their sworn oath to act in the interests of the American citizens and instead acted for their own ends.

    Its yet one more data point in the long line of abuses which are destroying the American project by destroying our ability to have faith in our elected officials and their staff.Report

  3. Marchmaine
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    says:

    Heh, rather than fiddle-faddle with the Red/Blue team nonsense… can’t we all just agree to keep arresting Billionaires with Global Capital interests as de facto and de jure unregistered Foreign Lobbyists?

    I think that’s the funny part, Barrack can likely legitimately look around and say… but this is what everyone I know does.

    The idea that a Billionaire hedge fund manager managing Sovereign Wealth Funds is a lobbyist? Preposterous. That’s for people who are paid wages.Report

  4. Mike Schilling
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    says:

    “Hety, did you hear Barack Obama was indicted?”Report

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