Was Anthony Scaramucci ever anything more than a sideshow? A vulgar distraction?
While the nation is either transfixed, amused or dumbfounded by the a former hedge fund wheeler-dealer turned political hand puppet, other far more important developments have gone largely unnoticed. Important developments.
For instance, Bill Browder, a man who did more business in Russia than the Trump family, testified before a Senate Committee on Thursday. The things he said should chill the borscht of every American. He described exactly how Russian “operatives” – including one who met with Donald Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manaforte – get their hooks into people and never let go.
Browder spoke of a $230 million corruption scandal he and his Russian lawyer uncovered. Eventually he learned it reached all the way to Vladimir Putin, which was at least partially corroborated by the Panama Papers (uncovered by McClatchy).
When Browder and his Russian lawyer brought it to the Kremlin’s attention, Browder was barred from ever returning to Russia and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested. And then beaten to death while in custody.
An outraged Browder helped get a law passed in America that sanctioned Russia by freezing the financial assets that oligarchs have stashed in the free world. That is said to include money that Putin has invested here (through an intermediary). With this law, Putin will have a harder time getting access to parts of his vast fortune. In retaliation, Putin halted all adoptions of Russian children.
So when Trump Jr. et al say they were discussing Russian adoptions, perhaps it’s more likely that they were really discussing how they could help crooked Russians get around the law that froze their American assets.
That’s important to Trump because those oligarchs have invested huge sums in property deals with Trump. Getting rid of the law could put more money in the Trump pipeline.
Yet, hardly anyone paid attention to Browder’s testimony or the documented connections. Instead, we have been transfixed on the outrageous vulgarity of “The Mooch.”
It should also be impossible to ignore the North Korean crazyman who launched a missile that landed off the coast of Japan but was capable of reaching Chicago. And, to be fair, President Trump didn’t ignore it, at least not entirely. He launched a few tweets in return, blaming President Obama for ignoring the problem and shrugging that China isn’t doing enough to help us.
This is the same China that President Obama tried to neutralize by negotiating the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership, diminishing Chinese clout along the Pacific Rim while increasing our own. Trump junked the entire process in his first week in office, no doubt to the everlasting relief of Chinese officials.
With the threat of the TPP dead, China has almost no reason to help us do anything – including putting pressure on Kim Jong Un.
This is a real threat requiring real action. Instead, we get a meaningless machinations from a White House focused on its own distractions. We get Scaramucci’s crude disdain for Reince Priebus, that leads to his firing. Then we get the Mooch getting the boot from new chief of staff John Kelly. It’s a distraction.
There are serious issues confronting our nation from all directions. We shouldn’t waste our time on distractions.