Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mitch McConnell and wife have shady dealings to conceal, which explains the Senate majority leader's lack of "appetite" to cross Trump

If anyone is still wondering why Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell seems to be even more Donald Trump’s lapdog than Paul Ryan, then maybe they should do a little research, as the mainstream media has been failing to do. McConnell has repeatedly frustrated bi-partisan efforts to solve issues like immigration, DACA, healthcare reform and others by claiming that he won’t allow anything on the floor that Trump supposedly will not sign. The latest is the refusal to allow a vote on legislation to hamper Trump’s ability to fire Robert Mueller. Firing Mueller actually won’t help Trump as much as he thinks, since the investigation of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is being conducted by federal prosecutors in New York, not Mueller. But Trump, in his most recent mental breakdown, is blaming Mueller for that “crossing the line” into “forbidden” territory. Cohen has been under investigation by federal authorities for months, and as Adam Davidson of The New Yorker noted, Trump and his family have plenty of “business” to conceal from the prying eyes of financial crime investigators:

However, I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations.

Davidson suggests that Trump’s wealth was built not on his business “acumen,” but on his willingness of deal with shady characters in illegal schemes. Moreover, in his opinion Trump will ultimately be seen for the small man that he actually is: “The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.”

So Trump has much to hide, and McConnell is doing what he can to protect him, even to provoke a constitutional crisis if Trump does what McConnell claims he will not do. The question is why. It is surprising that the mainstream media has not made more of a point that McConnell’s wife, Elain Chao, is Trump’s Transportation Secretary, and what exactly she does is not clear—particularly given the fact that Trump’s much ballyhooed “infrastructure plan” didn’t even get a tiny slice in the recently passed budget, the bloat of which has been made worse by the so-called tax reform bill. But that is hardly the beginning of the problem; as Peter Schweizer reveals in his new book, Secret Empires: How The American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, McConnell and Chao have plenty of reason to help Trump conceal his financial and business wrongdoing. As questionable as the  Clintons’ dealings have been—11 House Republicans are once more calling for a special prosecutor to investigate them and others—the McConnell clan’s secret dealings may actually have serious national security implications, even in the way that the Trump “defines” it.

Once more, we have to go “outside” the mainstream national media to find some semblance of the truth, this time from a story by Larry Getlin of the New York Post.  He informs us that according to Schweizer, the McConnells’ have seen a massive influx of wealth since 2004, rivalling that of the Clintons’. In 2008, they received “a gift from Chao’s father, James Chao, for somewhere between $5 million and $25 million. But this gift could be seen as more than just a gift. It may have been acquired, according to Schweizer, thanks to the couple’s fealty to China, the source of the Chao family fortune. And that fealty may have occurred at the expense of the nation they had pledged to serve.”

What? Our U.S. Senate majority leader’s personal financial interests come before the interests of his own country? Kind of like Trump, huh? And CNN or MSNBC do not find this of interest? Of course, those like McConnell are a little cleverer about how go about this business; “Rather than risk their careers taking bribes for potentially minuscule rewards, Schweizer points out how today’s politicians are savvier, engaging in what he calls ‘corruption by proxy’—such as by “establishing overseas connections that could land your children multi-million-dollar deals is harder to detect, and often legal.” As noted earlier, the Trump children are neck-deep in such corrupt dealings. 

How do such dealings harm U.S. interests for the sake personal financial gain? According to Schweizer, “Foreign governments and oligarchs like this form of corruption because it gives them private and unfettered gateways to the corridors of Washington power. Foreign entities cannot legally make campaign contributions, so using this approach creates an alternative way to curry favor and influence America’s political leaders. Simply camouflaging these transactions as business agreements provides another shield of plausible deniability.” Chao’s father—a native of China and the one who gave McConnell that tax-free “gift” of  up to $25 million—has “close ties” with Chinese leaders, which has allowed his shipping company—unlike most American businesses—to have “large volumes of business” in China. His company, Foremost, is closely tied to the China State Shipbuilding Corp. This entity operates fist in glove with the Chinese military, meaning that McConnell and Chao’s wealth is tied in a backhand way to the Chinese military—which is increasingly becoming the United States most dangerous military adversary, right on the heels of Russia (another one of Trump’s “friends’).  

Although Foremost is “technically” an American company, its ships are built in China and largely financed by the Chinese government, and its completed ships have crews that are mostly Chinese. Chao once claimed that it was of “vital national interest” that these ships be crewed by Americans, so the question is whose “vital national interest” she actually has in mind. Getlin notes that “it’s worth noting how both McConnell and Chao, in their roles as high-ranking US officials, have personally interacted with, and then gone considerably soft on, China since their 1993 wedding.” According the Schweizer in his book, “As the Chaos and the Chinese government went into business together, the Chaos-McConnells tied their economic fate to the good fortunes of Beijing. Were McConnell to critique Beijing aggressively or support policies damaging to Chinese interests, Beijing could severely damage the family’s economic fortunes.”

Again, why hasn’t this come under greater scrutiny by the media, and be seen as a likely reason for McConnell’s “surprising” obsequiousness to Trump, who certainly has even more questionable ties to questionable interests, many if not most inherently opposed to U.S. interests? Chao herself put herself squarely on the side of Chinese interests in opposition to U.S. national security interests in 2000 when, according to Schweizer, she was “critical of the report” detailing Chinese espionage in this country and “dismissed the idea that China could pose any threat to the United States.”

And we are supposed to trust someone like McConnell? Anyone who is not blind, deaf and dumb knows that Trump is itching to dump Mueller, and McConnell is his willing partner in crime. He needs to be exposed, now.

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