Jay Ambrose: Trump, the Clintons and Mueller
One stumble followed another and Trump still stood, but, ah, but what if the Russians had undermined our democracy and Trump actually arranged this thing? Impeachment, that’s what, and the search and media mayhem were on, powerfully aided by U. S. intelligence agents feloniously leaking classified information. What were these criminals doing? Trying to make the Russian threat come in second to some in our own government?
Now, we have a special counsel, Robert Mueller, someone who thinks he’s above the law and has the might and moolah to go just about any direction he wants in a Russian collusion investigation that has now produced indictments.
Two are of Paul Manafort and an aide. They are charged with getting laundered millions from foreigners overseas long before Manafort became a short- term Trump campaign manager. He was much involved in Russian interests in Ukraine, Manafort was, and worked with a Democratic lobbying firm that visited with congressional honchos of liberal intent – another collusion possibility?
The charges against Manafort could put him in prison for years even though they are legally slippery. A point may be to get him to talk about Trumpian doings, it’s said, and that brings us to the third indictment.
It tags George Popadopoulos, a low- level campaign volunteer who tried to set up a TrumpRussia summit meeting reportedly frowned on by higher aids. That does not sound exactly criminal. Yes, Popadopoulos was once told the Russians had lots of email dirt on Clinton, but he seems to have received none of it. Zip, zero. What he admitted guilty to was a charge of lying to the FBI, and now, to get out from under, he is cooperating in possibly delivering dirt on the Trump team.
On that score, he might take lessons from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. It dished out $ 9 million to a British ex- spy who then apparently gave big money to Russians who fed the campaign fake news trashing Trump. This scintillating balderdash was contained in what is known as “the dossier,” which maybe played a role in getting the federal government started on its Trumpian hunt.
The get- Trump- or- die crowd says references to the Clintons are a misleading distraction, which is itself politically crowned hokum. For a contrary dose of truth, start with the Uranium One scandal in which the Clinton Foundation obtained millions while Bill Clinton helped Russia become a foremost uranium power in the world, acquiring huge weaponizing and energy advantages over America.
Clinton supporters stress there was no sign of a quid pro quo from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the government-approved deal that turned over 20 percent of our own deficient uranium supplies. But there is no doubt of one thing: the moral corruption of a former president who is as good at colluding as it gets.
Collusion in itself is not a crime, of course, but, if you have to find a crime someplace, an independent special counsel with gotcha as a mission is the way to do it. Mueller, said to be a man of integrity, once as FBI director disregarded an important separation- of- powers law as well as orders from a presidentially instructed attorney general that he heed it.
A court finally flummoxed him, but where is it now when he has put together a Democratically partisan staff and has as a chief witness his old buddy, another former FBI director named James Comey? Those moves are not kosher, and while Mueller is not about to go away, we need to have all- out congressional investigations of Russia that make no partisan distinctions on the home front.
Some time ago, a relative forged another family member’s will, causing a cousin, the rightful heir, to lose all. I did all that I could to right the wrong. Eventually, the crime was exposed and my cousin was able to come into his rightful inheritance. Even so, I never talked to perpetrator again. Years later, I felt the offense as if it occurred yesterday.
One morning while having breakfast with my daughter, I asked my daughter for her opinion: How might I let go of this old grudge? With teenage insight, she said, “Don’t dwell on it. Move on. That’ll do it.” I took note and forgave my relative in that moment. The resentment dissipated.
Around that time, I wanted to hang a portrait of General George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge. I am a second cousin of the first president, seven times removed, and I am African-American. The image inspired me.
My daughter, however, erupted in outrage. All she could see was a slaveholder.
“He won the American Revolution,” I said. “I don’t care,” my daughter replied. “He was the greatest president ever,” I rejoined.
“I’m only related to Washington because he raped someone,” she said.
I flatly said there was no evidence whatsoever Washington had laid a violent hand on any of our slave ancestors.
Nuance and complexity eluded my daughter. President Washington might grace our currency, adorn the National Mall, and hang on the walls of the White House, but, no, not the wall of our home. In this matter, slaveholding alone mattered to my intelligent daughter.
The greatest threat to a healthy black culture and consciousness today is an inability to see beyond slaveholding.
When we carry resentments in our hearts over generations, these resentments hurt us. Dwelling on slaveholding creates a desire to get back at others, to lash out. One feels entitled to destroy institutions due to the original sin of slavery.
If one wants to see unresolved pain acting out, look no further than reparations rhetoric and Ta-Nehishi Coates, author of “Between the World and Me” and scribe of racial doom and gloom. Only unresolved pain can explain an unyielding focus on white supremacy. Passing along resentments to children, as Mr. Coates has done in his writings, scars the young. The resulting scars compel the impressionable to despise our country, our shared bond as countrymen. The pain flows from slavery and continues into infinity.
Slavery was far worse than anyone living can imagine. And that’s the problem. We know slavery as a Hollywood production — “Roots,” “Twelve Years a Slave,” “Django.” Even the National Museum of African American History, while important, doesn’t do slavery due justice. Every American should read “American Slavery As It Is” by Theodore Weld. From cover to cover. Don’t stop as you tremble. Once you close this book on slavery, you will feel bad for several days. I did. That is healthy. And when you come out the other side, you will feel peace, even thanksgiving that our country fought a war to end slaveholding. Thoughts of slavery will lose power over you.
Our task today is to live free of these atrocities in our minds. We shouldn’t forget the past. We should let go of old grudges from slavery. We simply move on as Americans and feel compassion for one another across the color line.
Our ancestors would want us to move on and live our lives to the fullest today. We dishonor our ancestors if we bring trials and tribulations from their times into our times. We disrespect our ancestors with limited and negative thinking, while living in the greatest country ever.
I give thanks every day that, on one snowy day in 1777, General Washington prayed at Valley Forge. And that prayer gave Washington faith to carry on.
I can see beyond slaveholding.