The Snowflake King Blows His Top

On Saturday, May 19, 2018, the New York Times published a story claiming that Donald Trump Jr. at least toyed with the idea of accepting help in his father’s presidential campaign from foreign countries other than Russia. In August 2016, Trump Jr. held a second questionable Trump Tower meeting with booster and Blackwater founder Erik Prince and business executive George Nader (who’s a convicted pedophile) along with emissaries from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Also present was an Israeli social media specialist named Joel Zamel who had a plan to boost Donald Trump by using thousands of fake Facebook accounts. According to the Times, Nader told Trump Jr. that the Saudi and UAE princes were “eager” to help his dad win the White House, claiming he was a strong leader who’d “fill a power vacuum” they thought President Barack Obama had left in the Middle East. It’s unclear who commissioned this proposal and whether it went forward. But Trump Jr. “responded approvingly” and Nader joined the Trump-world fold, often meeting with son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former strategist Steve Bannon. After the election, Nader paid Zamel as much as $2 million but we’re not sure why. Though a Philippines-based company linked to Zamel called White Night, reportedly provided Nader with an elaborate presentation on the importance of social media campaigning in Trump’s win.

There are plenty of reasons why the New York Times report matters. First, it shows that Russia wasn’t the only country offering to help with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. Second, it raises questions about what sort of repayment Saudi Arabia and the UAE might’ve received for their assistance. And it demonstrates the Trump campaign’s cavalier, if not sinister attitude to US campaign laws. As the Times reports: “It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections, and it is unclear what — if any — direct assistance Saudi Arabia and the Emirates may have provided. But two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.” Trump Jr.’s lawyer Alan Futerfas told the Times that while he “recalls” a meeting with Nader and someone who “may be” Zamel” who pitched him on a social media platform or marketing strategy, the younger Trump declined. Zamel’s lawyer Marc Mukasey denied his client was even involved in the Trump campaign. Nader’s lawyer Kathryn Ruemmler claimed the businessman has “fully cooperated” with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Anyway, George Nader’s name has appeared multiple times in Mueller’s investigation as his interactions with Zamel, Prince, and Trump Jr. are a focus of the probe. During the 2016 campaign, Nader visited Moscow at least twice as a confidential emissary from Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi. He helped arrange a meeting in Seychelles between Erik Prince and a Russian business executive close to Vladimir Putin that Mueller’s also probing. Zamel-tied companies also have Russian connections as well. After Donald Trump’s inauguration, Nader reportedly promoted a proposal to use private contractors for an economic sabotage against Iran that might get the country to abandon its nuclear program, which he pitched to Saudi officials last spring. And he was in talks with Erik Prince about a plan to convince Saudi Arabia to pay $2 billion to create a private army to fight against Iranian proxy forces in Yemen.

The Times’ report asks as many questions as answers but the writers do give us something to think about as they end it wondering what Nader’s, Prince’s, and Zamel’s efforts may have gotten for Saudi Arabia and the UAE. As they write, “Since entering the White House, Mr. Trump has allied himself closely with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. His first overseas trip was to Riyadh. He strongly backed Saudi and Emirati efforts to isolate their neighbor Qatar, another American ally, even over apparent disagreement from the State and Defense Departments. This month, Mr. Trump also withdrew from an Obama administration nuclear deal with Iran that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had campaigned against for years, delivering them their biggest victory yet from his administration.”

On May 20, Donald Trump went on a Twitter tantrum slamming the report as “long” and “boring” while asking when special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will “STOP!” Because according to him, it has found “nothing” on Russia or him, so “they are now looking at the rest of the World!” And he said investigators would likely continue their work into the 2018 midterm elections, “where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party.” He also returned to many of his old talking points about Hillary Clinton and Russia. He apparently suggested that the FBI should’ve broken into the Democratic National Committee’s offices and seized its server after its emails were hacked, tweeting, “Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam.” Trump knows that the Russia could harm Republicans in the 2018 midterms, though it’s hardly all of their problems. The GOP’s also facing a lot of Democratic enthusiasm, a high number of congressional Republican retirements, and a shitty tax bill that nobody likes. Not to mention their willingness to bend over backwards to protect and defend Trump despite everything he does or says.

Mueller’s investigation into the Russia meddling in the 2016 election and potential Trump campaign-Russia collusion has just hit its one-year anniversary. And just last week, the special counsel has reaped plenty of rotten fruit. On May 16, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee tried to help Donald Trump win in 2016. The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the FBI sent an informant to talk to Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos, Sam Clovis, and Carter Page after finding evidence the campaign had suspicious contacts with Russia in the investigation’s early stages. And it’s been reported that the FBI has started looking into payments Trump lawyer Michael Cohen took from a South Korean aerospace company and that he had reached out to a Qatari investor asking for a $1 million in exchange for consulting services. In addition, while Mueller can’t conclusively determine whether there was collusion or obstruction of justice, there have already been multiple indictments and guilty pleas. Even Trump’s personal lawyer Cohen is under a criminal investigation.

Nonetheless, that Sunday afternoon, Donald Trump fired off two more tweets. One decried the expansion of Mueller’s probe. But in the other, he tweeted, “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Now Trump has the constitutional authority to make such a demand. But there are things to keep in mind. First of all, the Justice Department’s inspector general launched an investigation into how the FBI got permission to spy on Page in March, so part of what Trump is asking for is already happening. In fact, DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores write in an email that the department for an expansion to the ongoing review of the Page application, “include whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.” While it’s not clear whether anything at the FBI, DOJ, or the Obama administration did regarding the 2016 was political, Trump’s call for a probe certainly is. And as Georgetown adjunct professor Carrie Cordero tweeted that the Justice Department doesn’t do any politically motivated snitching. “There are rules. And I’m convinced there are people left in this government who will follow them, she wrote. Should he go through with it, Trump could face a showdown with the Justice Department officials expected to execute it. But at any rate, his paranoia, susceptibility to conspiracy, and desire to deter and meddle with the Mueller investigation are becoming increasingly disturbing.

Donald Trump’s tweet from May 20 appears to be a reaction from the New York Times and Washington Post reports about the FBI sending an informant to talk to the Trump campaign advisers after finding evidence of suspicious Russian contacts during the Russia investigation’s early stages. Though Trump falsely claimed that the informant was a “spy,” sent to infiltrate his campaign and said such a thing would be “bigger than Watergate,” there’s no evidence. It’s more likely the FBI sent an informant because investigators just wanted to figure out what was going on between Russia and the Trump team. As former FBI counterintelligence head Frank Figliuzzi told NBC News, “What is easier to imagine is the FBI trying to flesh out information on Russian intelligence operatives by making approaches to campaign staffers if the reasonable suspicion was there and the approvals were in place.”

As we should know by now, the Trump-Russia investigation originated in May 2016 with a drunk George Papadopoulos bragging to an Australian diplomat about a Russian-linked professor approaching him who claimed that the Kremlin had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The diplomat later tipped off the United States to Papadopoulos’s comments. Papadopoulos has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential Trump-Russian collusion. The FBI legally surveilled Carter Page for almost a year due to his Russian contacts, starting in October 2016, after being on the bureau’s radar as a potential Russian agent for years. Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort had run a campaign on behalf of Russian interests in Ukraine, which he had to resign over. Michael Flynn also has plenty of ties to Putin and Erdogan.

Nonetheless, the Department of Justice meekly complied despite that Donald Trump’s latest spin is so ridiculous that even the most sycophantic Trump screeds in conservative media had trouble adjusting to this bullshit conspiracy theory. There’s no way Barack Obama ordered an investigation into Trump’s campaign for purely political reasons, especially since the fact the FBI let it remain secret until after the election. Besides, accepting foreign help in a political campaign is illegal under federal law. Not to mention, Hillary Clinton had a contentious primary challenge against Bernie Sanders. No reports on what the Obama administration did to him.

Of course, Donald Trump’s ability to comprehend objective reality is seriously cracked since he refuses to see himself as culpable for any damage he’s done in his life. Yet his confidence that the array of forces will shift to his benefit and that he may turn the tables on his enemies has a real basis in reality. In the face of widening evidence of Trump campaign culpability in the Russia investigation, Republicans have churned through a frequently changing series of ugly conspiracy theories to defend him. He’s bringing his party and the powers it commands around his warped manner of thinking. But Trump’s allies have seized on the procedural offense of the “spy.” Despite that the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign because of its association with multiple figures with suspicious financial and political Russian connections like Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. The defense has ignored all evidence of guilt and has instead focused on why Trump was being investigated at all. Instead, his defenders assume that the level of covert Russian influence in Trump’s campaign was completely typical. The only difference is that Trump was somehow subjected to scrutiny at best. At worst, Trump’s defenders revolves around the premise that the FBI had no business snooping on Trump. And that any evidence Mueller produces is proof of an illegitimate investigation.

However, Donald Trump may be formulating an even more radical theory. According to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, his team, “is attempting to build the case that anti-Trump forces in the F.B.I. entrapped his advisers using informants to plant evidence about Russian collusion.” In other words, Trump is accusing the FBI not only planting a spy, but evidence. As Sherman reported, “The president himself is convinced that the secret F.B.I. informant who reportedly met with several Trump campaign advisers in 2016 was not merely an informant, but an Obama political operative. One administration official told me the theory has become so widely accepted that people in the West Wing are paranoid that the F.B.I. has multiple informants working to take down Trump.” All of this sounds like you’d read in a Cold War spy novel that’s so unhinged that even Trump can’t possibly believe it. But you’d have to explain Trump’s longtime love affair with conspiracy theories he imbibes in his Fox News binge watching, where crazy conspiracy theorists are either given a guest spot, panel spot, or TV show. You might also think that Trump can’t get his party go along with his theory and dismiss all evidence of culpability as having been fabricated by a pro-Obama cabal in the FBI. Yet, you’d be ignoring how far down the Trump rabbit hole the Republican Party has gone already.

But Trump’s FBI smearing is another blatant way to deflect attention and blame away from his continuing effort to corrupt American democracy for his own benefit as well as those of his fellow oligarchs’ around the world. It’s an indisputable fact that Russia not only tried but also succeeded in influencing the 2016 election. Email transcripts show that Donald Trump Jr. was clearly eager to work with Russians to help his dad win, and it’s impossible that Trump didn’t know about it. As there have been 19 indictments and guilty pleas so far, the question for the Mueller investigation is who else may be involved, what else might’ve taken place, in that or some other criminal activities.
Intelligence and domestic law enforcement organizations like the FBI and CIA exist to protect the integrity of the nation’s political structure. Sure, much of that purpose has been invoked as tyrannical repression of domestic dissidents in the name of McCarthyite “Anti-Communism” when ordinary Americans merely trying to exercise their constitutional democratic rights were routinely subjected to government harassment, blackmail, or even straight up assassinated. Not to mention union organizers and civil rights activists have been and still are particularly targeted for egregious state violence. Yet, that doesn’t mean the purpose of intelligence and law enforcement is necessarily a sham. Many foreign governments have tried meddling with the American political structure in various ways from the Soviet Union to nominal allies like Israel. In such situations, it’s entirely right and proper for security agencies to investigate the possibility and try to prevent it beforehand or remedy the breach after that. After all, a democracy is supposed to be under the voters’ control, not other states or anyone else.

However, Russia is just one facet of the monumental corruption inside the Trump empire. Donald Trump’s whole career has had plenty of egregious and mindboggling incidents of corruption that most Americans could never get away with. In addition to the New York Times report on Donald Trump Jr. August Trump Tower meeting, the Associated Press reported that a top Trump campaign fundraiser, Elliot Broidy had worked with Nader in 2017 to push US policy towards Saudi Arabia and the UAE and away from Qatar and Iran with millions in political donations. Neither Nader nor Broidy registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as would almost certainly be legally required. Some of the money was funneled through the so-called Foundation for Defense of Democracies and they expected to collect millions in consulting contracts from the 2 monarchies (amounting in effect to post facto bribes). And they had just started cashing in payouts when Mueller’s FBI probe caught up with them.

In other words, Donald Trump’s business empire, campaign, and administration has been open to basically any foreign authoritarian wanting to buy the American political system. This verifies my long-held conviction that Trump and his swamp cronies have the slightest scrap of respect for American democracy or the right of the American people to honest government. Like a lot of Trump’s schemes, it’s just another rigged deal, another influence play, another institution to be looted. But this time with an unusually large number of loyal workers to be betrayed and cut out of the spoils in the end. Because if you’re an ordinary American who believes Trump and buys into his cons, you will be screwed.

The Mueller investigation and other similar efforts are an endeavor to protect the basic integrity of the American democratic state. But unlike the Cold War days, it’s not from some hostile foreign adversary but from a free-floating international cabal of oligarchs (with at least a large plurality of whom are at least technically American) tirelessly trying to make money the only axis of politics. The pre-election investigation of Trump’s corruption included the wholly legitimate use of informant just gives Donald Trump conspiracy fodder depict himself as the victim while he keeps picking the American people’s pockets.

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The Snowflake King’s Consigliere

Recently, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has become red hot and getting much closer to Donald Trump. On Monday, April 9, 2018, the FBI raided the home, office, and hotel room of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen as part of a fraud and campaign finance investigation. The raid was carried out by US attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York, where the US attorney in question is a Trump appointee named Geoffrey Berman. According to the New York Times, federal agents “business records, emails, and documents related to several topics,” including Cohen’s payment to Daniels, and “privileged communications” between Cohen and his clients, according to Cohen’s attorney. The raid brings the case closer to Trump’s door than any to date, touching a close confidante and possibly a speech Trump made himself. Though not responsible for the raid, Mueller’s investigation has looked into Michael Cohen and uncovered potential crimes by him during the Russia investigation. He then brought the findings to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which he’s mandated to if the info’s not directly connected to his investigation. Rosenstein then sent the case to the New York Office leading to a search in Cohen’s house, office, and hotel.

As you know, Michael Cohen is in the middle of the Stormy Daniels controversy, where he plays the guy who paid the porn star $130,000 days before the 2016 election as a way to get her to shut up about her 2006 affair with Donald Trump. The investigation into Cohen is tied to that payment. If he used the money to keep the affair secret and help Trump win the election, they payoff could be considered a donation violating campaign finance law. Sure he might’ve tried to help keep an embarrassing story from the press. Even so, he didn’t report the donation to the federal government, and would substantially the legal cap on donations. The FBI is also looking at whether Cohen violated any banking or wire transfer laws by using a personal bank loan to pay off Daniels. For the lawyer claimed to have drawn on his home equity line of credit from First Republic Bank of Manhattan to obtain the funds. However, while Trump has plenty of lawyers who’ll respond to lawsuits or file papers, Cohen is much more than his “personal” attorney. He’s a fixer, a deal-maker, and a wartime consigliere as well as a key link between Trump and Russia. As journalist Adam Davidson told The Week, “Michael Cohen is the most important non-Trump in the Trump business world. He oversaw nearly all the foreign deals as the Trump Org shifted its focus to sketchy third-tier overseas oligarchs.” With the possible exception of his children, no one knows about the shady stuff Trump has been involved in than this guy. Now they’re combing through Cohen’s files, papers, and phone records.

Then there’s the Steele dossier claiming that Michael Cohen secretly met with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials in Prague during the summer of 2016. Obviously, Cohen has adamantly denied taking such a trip, tweeting in January 2017, “I have never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews.” But a new McClatchy report states that special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that the sleazy lawyer made a Prague trip through Germany at the height of the 2016 campaign. Now their report is based on anonymous sources and we don’t know what the alleged evidence is. So it can still prove mistaken. But if the McClatchy report is accurate, it could potentially devastate the argument that there was no Trump-Russian collusion. Because there’s no reason for Cohen to try to debunk the Steele dossier by lying that he didn’t visit Prague at all if he actually did, unless he did something extremely serious that he wanted to get away with during the trip. However, if Cohen did go to Prague for innocuous reasons like a vacation, he could’ve just said so.

Nonetheless, whatever evidence federal prosecutors have collected on Michael Cohen must’ve been extraordinarily strong. Before feds could raid his home, hotel room, and office, they had to convince high-ranking Department of Justice officials and a federal judge that a search warrant was necessary for obtaining the evidence sought. As former FBI agent and senior fellow for the Foreign Policy Institute Clinton Watts told The Atlantic, “Doing a search warrant rather than a subpoena suggests the investigators thought Cohen, if given a subpoena, would possibly destroy evidence or withhold key evidence, particularly if it were incriminating.” Under normal circumstances, getting a search warrant for a federal investigation subject’s lawyer is an incredibly aggressive move. If that lawyer represents the President of the United States, the stakes can’t be higher. According to former associate special counsel in the Iran-Contra Affair and law professor at St. Johns John Q. Barrett, “These things are not anonymized, so you know you’re talking about Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney for the person who is now president of the United States, so you know you’re in very deep water. Any law-enforcement official would proceed very carefully.” Former FBI agent and a fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security David Gomez added, “You don’t just have to have the evidence that the documents may or may not exist, you have to show that there’s no other way to get them besides serving a warrant on the attorney, because of the sensitivity of attorney-client privilege.”

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s supporters in the conservative press have invoked attorney-client privilege, the legal rule saying communications between an attorney and their client are typically protected. But there are important exceptions. As Fordham University professor Bruce Green told The Atlantic, “Records of conversations between Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump are not necessarily privileged. If the conversations do not relate to a legal representation, but Mr. Cohen was providing business assistance or other non-legal services, the privilege probably will not apply.” There’s also the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege. As Barrett said, “When the communications between an attorney and client are in furtherance of criminal activity, it’s viewed as an exception to attorney-client privilege.” When an attorney’s records are seized a separate investigation team called a “taint team” will go through those records and sort out which are protected and which ones prosecutors will be allowed to use. “There are various other limitations and exceptions that could make the privilege inapplicable. If it isn’t clear whether documents are privileged, the issue may get litigated,” said Green. This might go for Cohen’s records payments to Daniels. Even if the evidence seized from Cohen is sought for another investigation, Mueller will have access to anything federal prosecutors deem worthy to the Trump-Russia investigation. Though his lawyer Stephen Ryan called the raid, “completely inappropriate and unnecessary” and pointed that attorney-client privilege may shield many of Cohen’s files from investigators. But this doesn’t apply if the lawyer is committing a crime.

Meanwhile, Mueller’s probe is looking at a $150,000 from a Ukrainian billionaire made to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which previously admitted to violating tax law and helping Trump during the campaign. One critical question in the probe has looked into is whether foreign money flowed into Trump’s 2016 campaign. That has led Mueller’s team to a September 2016 speech Trump gave to a conference in Kiev, Ukraine. In exchange, a Ukrainian steel magnate donated $150,000 to his personal “charity” which he actually used as a personal piggy bank. Though this has nothing to do with the raid, Michael Cohen reportedly solicited the donation for Trump. The focus on the speech and donation is part of Mueller’s growing interest in overseas money and the Trump campaign. Much of his case against Paul Manafort is tied to the latter’s work in Ukraine. And in March, Mueller’s team has subpoenaed Trump’s businesses to look at his overseas deals.

Though Mueller’s team wasn’t responsible for the raid, Donald Trump has directed his fire and fury toward him. Right before a White House meeting with military leaders on Syria’s situation, he fielded a string of questions about the probe and attacked the special counsel. He told them, “It’s a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for, so when I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did, I said that is really now in a whole new level of unfairness.” He repeated his claim of the investigation as a “witch hunt,” and declined to answer whether he’d fire the special counsel, with a reply, “We’ll see what happens. I think it’s disgraceful, and so do a lot of other people.” He also called the prosecutors involved “have the biggest conflicts of interest I have ever seen. Democrats—all. Either Democrats or a couple of Republicans who worked for President Obama.” Despite that all the major players involved are Republicans, some of whom Trump or his appointees hired themselves. The next day he tweeted “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!” and “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” While several factors make firing Mueller a difficult and politically disastrous choice, Trump has toyed with the idea before. Since Mueller has just built a case against his own lawyer and is digging into Trump’s personal activities, we need to take this seriously. This speech payment brings the investigation to Trump personally. The focus on Trump’s businesses and professional colleagues might violate Trump’s previous assertions that Mueller shouldn’t look into his companies. Thus, Trump’s non-answer in regard to Mueller’s future means the special counsel has to work quickly if he wants to finish his investigation before losing his job.

The group of people Donald Trump has targeted in his angry response at the White House is wide and deep. They comprise of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former FBI Director James Comey, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. Taken together, it’s apparent that Trump isn’t just angry at individuals but also the rule of law. Each step of the way, the actions angering Trump have been by senior officials specifically following the law. In fact, the point of having a special counsel is to insulate a federal investigation from political pressure. Rosenstein appointed Mueller when he felt the tenor of Trump’s earlier comments and actions made it impossible to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election through normal channels. While Trump hasn’t broken any laws in his comments about Mueller, he’s violated the spirit of the special counsel regulation and has attempted to pressure Mueller at all turns. Hell, he’s pissed at Sessions for recusing himself on advice by Justice Department career staff and in accordance with department guidelines. Because Trump has no regard for rules and procedures. His beef with Sessions prevents him from being in a position to politically protect his boss. Because Trump has voiced publicly and privately his belief that the attorney general’s job is to protect the president, rather than the serve as the country’s top lawyer. This is a radical departure from the standard approach. Because Trump would rather have Sessions break the rules for his benefit. He’s also angry that Hillary Clinton wasn’t prosecuted and has publicly complained about Sessions not pursuing her. As he said, “The other side, they don’t even bother looking. And the other side is where there are crimes, and those crimes are obvious. Lies, under oath, all over the place.” But not only has Clinton been subject to investigations, but Trump fails to grasp that the president can’t decide who’s committed a crime and should be prosecuted. Expect that a Saturday Night Massacre could be just around the corner.

The idea of a regimented process for charging people and that it ought to not be decided by political vendettas or a government head’s whims is central to the American project, even if the nation has at times fallen short of it. Donald Trump doesn’t care to understand or accept the idea of the rule of law. On the campaign trail, he promised to lock up Hillary Clinton and questioned the right of a federal judge overseeing a case on Trump University. His comments of the raid, including ridiculously equating a legally sanctioned FBI raid to a burglary demonstrates that Trump’s not just engaging in a political attack but is also campaigning against the rule of law and the U.S. approach to justice. He may regard due process as political correctness in regards to racial and religious minorities, leftists, immigrants, and victims of systematic police abuse. But when he or his allies are on the receiving end of justice, no proof of evidence is necessary to prove their innocence, even in the face of strong grounds against them. Whereas, any rival or enemy who dares criticize him or anyone he sees as a threat is a criminal. Such discrepancies aren’t just soundbites. They’ve guided Trump administration, causing real human suffering or abdicating the federal government’s responsibility to alleviate it. Under Trump, the White House tried to ban immigrants from 7 Muslim countries, the Justice Department has backed off its responsibility to oversee local police departments to ensure they’re respecting Americans’ constitutional rights, casualties from drone strikes have increased, and immigration authorities have become more aggressive and indiscriminate in who they seek to deport. Such rhetoric also points to how Trump wishes the laws would operate. For those outside his circle, the laws bars no cruelty, brutality, or injustice. To himself and his allies in his gilded circle, no scrupulous adherence to due process in sufficient and no crime can justify prosecution.

Nonetheless, the raid on Michael Cohen’s home, hotel, and office, shows that the Mueller probe has gone beyond Russia. This has always been the greatest danger to Donald Trump since he’s spent a lifetime skirting around both the letter and spirit of the law. It’s why he’s repeatedly stated that his business records are off limits and why he keeps his tax returns secret. Because if we knew what goes on in Trump’s businesses, we’d be appalled. Hell, what we already know about Trump’s businesses is simply mindboggling with stories of corruption that you really can’t make up. And the closer the investigation gets to Trump the more unpredictable he gets since he hasn’t handled any of it well from the beginning. Mark my words, Donald Trump is a dangerous man.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “Southern Cross”

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The Baudelaires remain on the island for a year as they raise baby Beatrice. By this time, they’ve just read their parents’ last entry of them being kicked off the island and that she’s pregnant. If the baby was a girl, she intended to name  her Violet. If it was a boy, she as going to name him Lemony. Thank God, Violet turned out to be a girl or she would’ve been saddled with the name of her mom’s ex who was presumed dead at the time. Then again, I think the Baudelaire parents named their son Klaus two years later was either because they knew Lemony was alive at the time or that it was Bertrand’s turn and didn’t want to saddle a name like Lemony on a kid. Also, that their dad built a boat they named after her. Anyway, Violet decides that despite all the treachery in the world, it’s time to get off the island and back to the mainland. And since a flood is due on the coastal shelf, they don’t have long. Violet patches up the boat and takes off the sign with “Count Olaf” on it revealing it to be the very boat the Baudelaire parents set sail on. They decide to leave the chronicle behind on the island since it might be useful to future castaways who come along. And as soon as the Baudelaires and baby Beatrice get on the boat, the little baby says her own name which is the boat’s name, Mrs. Baudelaire’s, and the name of whom Lemony dedicates each book to. Though Lemony Snicket doesn’t exactly know what happened to the Baudelaires after that, earlier books and The Beatrice Letters strongly imply that all three survived and are now adults (though Beatrice is about 10 when she wrote her letters to her Uncle Lemony, meaning that Sunny would’ve been at least 12 years old at the time.)

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Thus, I end the series with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Southern Cross” which is about a man sailing the Pacific after a failed love affair. Though he admires the sea’s beauty, music is his final consolation. The last lyric is filled with the sad irony that he’s trying to convince himself that he’ll eventually forget about his lover. But he knows that this will never happen any more than he can forget the beauty of the Southern Cross. In this version, I have the Baudelaires discuss leaving the island and taking baby Beatrice in tow.

 

“Southern Cross” (ASOUE Version)

Sung by Violet and Klaus Baudelaire

Violet:
Get on our boat, it is time, to depart from the island
To sail a reach before a following sea
Decision Day’s coming in with the high tide
To wash us up on the Briny Beach

Our dad built this boat for their island departure
Named it after our mom as Ishmael drove them away
How the hell would Mom know a Lemony?
Though we somehow we realize why they kept some things at bay

Think about
Think about how many times we have fallen
World’s full of treachery, but we can’t hide out
What Heaven brought us right here cannot be forgotten

Around the way (We have been around the way)
Lookin’ (lookin’ for a peaceful place)
Where we’re left alone (we know it’s quite secure)
And we know it will

Klaus:
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
‘Cause the truth you might be runnin’ from is so small
But it’s as big as the promise, the promise of a comin’ day

So we’re sailing for the mainland our dreams are a-dyin’
There are questions still unanswered to (and unanswered they remain)
So I’m sailing for tomorrow my dreams are a-dyin’
We have our ship and all her flags are a-flyin’
She is all that we left and Beatrice is her name

Think about
Think about how many times we have fallen
World’s full of treachery, but we can’t hide out
What Heaven brought us right here cannot be forgotten

Around the way (We have been around the way)
Lookin’ (lookin’ for a peaceful place)
Where we’re left alone (we know it’s quite secure)
And we know it will
And we know it will

So we cheated and we lied and we bested
And we never failed to fail it was the easiest thing to do
We will survive being tested
We’ll make a life, we’ll raise Beatrice, and find our friends when we all could
At the southern cross

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “Dear Baby Beatrice”

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The Baudelaires don’t have much time to mourn for Kit Snicket and their archenemy Count Olaf who they bury and whose graves they bestow wildflowers on. Because they have a baby Beatrice to raise. Through the next year, Violet invents baby equipment, Klaus researches baby care and makes note on Beatrice’s development, and Sunny uses wild sheep to make food and milk for her. They also cultivate bitter apple trees to keep the island protected as well as add to the island’s chronicle.

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As for songs, I selected “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton where both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr promise their newborn children that they’ll be around for them and be the fathers they never had. What’s heartwarming is that both men live up to their promise. But unfortunately Theodosia Burr and Philip Hamilton would die before their parents would. Theodosia and her husband would be lost on a journey to the Caribbean. Philip would be killed in a duel at 19. In this version, the Baudelaires promise their new charge that they’ll raise her and take care of her like the guardians they never had.

 

“Dear Baby Beatrice”

Sung by Violet and Klaus Baudelaire.

Violet:
Dear Baby Beatrice, what to say to you?
You have Kit’s eyes. You have our mother’s name
When you came into the world, you cried and it broke my heart

We’re dedicating every day to you
Domestic life was never quite our style
When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart
And I thought I was so smart

We will come of age while we raise you
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away…

Someday, someday
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday

Klaus:
Oh Beatrice, when you smile I am undone
Our girl
Look at our girl
Pride is not the word I’m looking for
There is so much more inside me now
Oh Beatrice, you outshine the morning sun
Our girl
When you smile, I fall apart
And I thought I was so smart
Our parents are not around

Violet:
Your parents are not around

Klaus:
We swear that

Both:
We’ll be around for you

Klaus:
We’ll do whatever it takes

Violet:
We’ll make a million mistakes

Both:
We’ll make the world safe and sound for you…

… We will come of age while we raise you
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away…

Someday, someday
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “Kit’s Death”

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Shortly after Count Olaf dies, Kit gives birth to a baby girl. But because the horseradish apples may not be safe for babies in utero,  she quickly succumbs to the Medusoid Mycelium poisoning. Despite the fact that her daughter was already on her way out of the birth canal so the potential for harm is minimal. But Kit’s not taking any chances. Nonetheless, while the birth of a baby is a happy occasion, the moment is very sad. The Baudelaires name her after their mom, Beatrice as Kit had requested and take her in. Still, Beatrice’s entry into the world is a very tragic one. Her mother died giving birth to her. Her father was harpooned before she was born. But fortunately, she won’t have a horrible childhood since the Baudelaires raise her s one of their family.

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For Kit’s death, I went with “Lament” from Evita in which Eva Peron is in the death throws as she loses her battle with cervical cancer at the age of 33 as she looks back in her life and wishes she could more time to live. In this version, I have Kit dying of the Medusoid Mycelium and giving her last requests to the Baudelaires, particularly on her daughter, Beatrice.

 

“Kit’s Death”

Sung by Kit Snicket

Kit:
The choice was mine, and mine completely
I could have any prize that I desired
I could burn with the splendor of the brightest fire
Or else,
Or else I could choose… time.
Remember, your folks were our good friends
Take my daughter, raise her all your days
Tell her about me and my Dewey
I see the lights and now I’m on my way.
And how I lived!
How they shine!
But how soon the lights are gone…

The choice was mine, and no one else’s.
I could save the world in V.F.D.
Give my life to the people I might never meet.
Or else…
To children of my own.
Remember, I was close to your folks
Your mom almost became my brother’s bride.
But a frame up made her dump him for your dear old dad.
Well, such things could not be rectified.
Oh my daughter!
Oh my girl!
Understand what I have done…

Violet:
The choice was yours and no one else’s.
You can cry for a body in despair.
Hang your head because she has her daughter here
And so, Beatrice shall be her name.

Klaus:
But now
But now we are all mournful
We will be orphan kids now forevermore
As the stars won’t allow our folks to grow old…
But we, we will tell them all…

Violet and Klaus:
Eyes, hair, face, body…
We must dig two graves.
Both be buried forever.
No less than they deserved.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”

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After carrying Kit Snicket in the only good deed he’d ever do in his life, Count Olaf kisses her as he lays her down on the sand before he collapses beside her. Because while he’s cured of the Medusoid Mycelium, he’s still profusely bleeding from a harpoon wound thanks to Ishmael. Kit reaches out and tenderly touches his ankle as she recites a poem “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” while Olaf answers it with the last stanza of “This Be the Verse” before biting the dust with a “HA!” A poignant end to one of the most iconic villains in literature. It’s heavily hinted that the two may have had a relationship in the past, but I’m sure Kit dumped Olaf at some point because well, do I really need to get into that? Because he’s a bastard. I’m sure this leads the Baudelaires stunned out of their minds since they’ve never seen Count Olaf like this before. However, he has realized that he has nothing left to live for since he’s lost all his henchmen, his parents, his girlfriend, and his true love. All his plans are ruined. And he has no chance of obtaining the Baudelaire fortune or anyone else’s, which has made him too depressed to go on living for a time. And what’s interesting is despite everything Count Olaf did to them, the Baudelaires would sometimes visit his grave during their time on the island.

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The song I went with is “On this Night of a Thousand Stars” from Evita, which introduces Augustin Magaldi who took Eva Duarte to Buenos Aires as far as the musical is concerned. Despite that this incident never happened in real life because they never met. In real life, Eva got into Buenos Aires through family members since the city offered the promise of a better life. She didn’t bet on winning the lottery like meeting an ambitious army colonel named Juan Peron and becoming the First Lady of Argentina. In this version, Kit and Count Olaf recite poetry to one another as the Baudelaires look stunned while helping Kit give birth.

 

“The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”

Lemony Snicket:
Now Count Olaf had nothing left to live for
His past methods and tactics don’t work
No henchmen, no cash
No girlfriend, no true love
No chance of obtaining a fortune
At the age of fifty

Now dying from a harpoon wound
The dreaded Count Olaf
Carried my sister to from the shore
His only good deed

Kit Snicket:
The night has a thousand eyes
And the day but only one
Yet the light of the bright world dies
Dies with the dying sun

The mind has a thousand eyes
And the heart but only one
Yet the heart of the whole life
Dies when love is done

Violet:
I never dreamed that Count Olaf could be as kind as this
But now I know that he can

Klaus:
He was always there putting us through nightmares
Now he’s a shell of that man
Now all my hate disappeared and all my troubling fears
Isn’t there anymore
On this terrible day when he seems slipping away
To no more
On this night
On this night

Count Olaf:
Man hands on misery to man.
Deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can.
Don’t have kids yourself.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Musical – “Waltz for Count Olaf”

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Desperate to get Kit Snicket off the coast, the Baudelaires do the unthinkable. They scramble for Count Olaf since he’s the only person who could. They don’t care if he’s evil and dying. They even offer him an apple to cure himself. But he turns it down since he wants the Baudelaire fortune which is out of reach at this point. They even confront him about the fire that burned down their house and killed their parents, which he denies ever starting. As the children pester him, Count Olaf is determined to do nothing. Until they tell them it’s Kit who needs help, compelling him to grab an apple and carry Kit off to a safer location before kissing her.

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The song I chose is Evita’s “Waltz for Eva and Che” in which Che makes a few remarks to Eva on how she’s enabling her husband’s dictatorial impulses and how she doesn’t stand for anything. In turn, Eva reveals that she’s not very ashamed of what she’s doing and is dying of cervical cancer. In this version, the Baudelaires beg Count Olaf to help Kit Snicket as he’s dying of a harpoon wound in the chest.

 

“Waltz for Count Olaf”

Sung by Violet and Klaus Baudelaire and Count Olaf

Violet:
Help us before you waltz out of our lives
Before turning your back on the past
Forgive my impertinent behavior
We need to get Kit down from her towering bookstack

Klaus:
Tell us before you fade into the sunset
There’s one thing I never got clear
How did you feel when you started that fire,
That burned up our parents and our mansion?
Not to mention, ruining our lives?

Count Olaf:
Tell me before I get onto my bus
Before joining the forgotten brigade
How can one person like me, say,
Alter the time-honored way the game is played?
Tell me before I get onto my white horse
Just what you expect me to do
I don’t care what you Baudelaires say
I just want your family jewels
So I can get that fancy new sports car
Which I can use to run over you

Violet, Klaus, and Count Olaf:
There is evil, ever around
Fundamental within society
Quite incidental

Count Olaf:
So what are my chances of honest advances?
I’d say low

Violet:
Your scheming means nothing right now
We don’t care if you’re evil

Klaus:
Help us before you seek much farther pastures
Kit Snicket’s in labor as we speak
How can you be so short-sighted
To look never further than this week or next week
To have such impossible dreams?

Count Olaf:
Orphans, you don’t know about anything else
You’re the same brats since we met
You think you can triumph in this life
With a keen mind, stack of books, or good meals
You’re just like your parents, Bertrand and Beatrice
Naïve folk, who perished in their mansion fire

Violet, Klaus, and Count Olaf:
There is evil, ever around
Fundamental within society
Quite incidental

Count Olaf:
Since Kit is in danger, I’ll help her if I’m able
For her sake

Kit:
Does one kind act will make me forgive you?
Spite years of pain?
That is insane!

Count Olaf:
Oh, what I’d give for a hundred years
But the physical interferes
A harpoon here, Kit, let me kiss you
What is the good of the strongest heart
In a body that’s falling apart?
A serious flaw, I hope You know that