Jay Am­brose: Trump, the Clin­tons and Mueller

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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.

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