THE RED FLAG AND THE DEFENSE OF CREEPS AND SCONDRELS

Kevin Johnson of USA Today critiques the beliefs of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in "Jeff Sessions: 'We are in danger' of rising violence."  Johnson states that attorney General Jeff Sessions offers a dark view of American's crime problem --suggesting that increasing access to heroin and marijuana has put the country at risk of returning to the drug fueled violence that ravaged the country more than a generation ago.

Sessions makes this statement in spite of the fact that data shows that crime is at an all-time low.  This abnegation of statistical fact is "driving this sense that we are in danger."  Although not mentioned outright, Black Lives Matter demonstrations is the "strange attractor-like shift" in his consensus.

Sessions speaking before the National Association of Attorneys General said, "Now we are at a time, it seems to me, that crime is going back up again.  Maybe we got a bit overconfident."  Notice that this has not a scientific indices, but the personal opinion of the top law official of the United States, who has chosen to ignore the science of law and order in favor of self-delusion.

Johnson writes that in his first major speech as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, Sessions also signaled that the Justice Department would depart from a frequently used Obama administration practice of suing local police departments to force reforms related to violations of excessive force policies, racial discrimination and other misconduct.  This again can be attributed to the demonstrations by Black Lives Matter.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Signals Shift At The Justice Department

3:40

Jeff Sessions has already signaled he is ready to change course at the Justice Department, pledging more gun and drug prosecutions and vowing to treat police departments as partners, not problems.  http://www.npr.org/2017/03/01/517988128/attorney-general-jeff-sessi...

Sessions seems willing to ignore police bad-behavior when obvious and goes on to state, "We need to help police officers get better rather than reduce their effectiveness, and I'm afraid we've done some of that  so we're going to pull back a little on this.  I don't think that it's wrong or mean or insensitive to civil rights or human rights.  I think it's out of concern to make the lives of those, especially in poorer communities and minority communities, live a safer, happier life."

Sessions self-delusional behavior is expressed in his belief about Chicago.  He said earlier that tensions between police and the communities they patrol have likely resulted in a pullback on basic policing activities and may be a factor in driving violent crime up.  He seems to discount the fact of the availability of hand guns and years of neglect due to Neoliberalism that began with Reagan and will be further entrenched by Trump that insured that the inner cities would crumble.  As Huston A. Baker wrote in Betrayal this neglect of the inner cities was intentional by neoconservatives whose privatization of prisons made inner city crime too profitable to be ameliorated.  And statistic made up by J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI fabricated high crime statistics in order to get his budget raised year after year.  Sessions is no better morally in his "beliefs" as a money maker.

Johnson posits that both the attorney general and President Donald trump have repeatedly cited concern about violent crime, despite data that have shown sustained long-term declines.  And that murder jumped by 11 percent in 2015, the biggest one-year increase in more than 40 years, the overall rate remains the lowest in decades.  A December analysis of the 2016 overall crime rate in the nation's 30 largest cities by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice found that the rate was expected to remain roughly the same as 2015, indicating that rates "will remain near historical lows."

However, this does not fit with the "terror" that Trump has instilled in his supporters.  Don't forget Trump won by playing the race card.  The race card always indicates that the "Black Other will rape and murder you in your bed." Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher in Trump Reveled: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (2016) document that Trump has never shied-away from using the race card.  Kranish and Fisher state in order to gain political points in a possible run for mayor of New York City, Trump seized on a notorious crime that threatened to divide New York along racial lines, [and still continues to do so using Rudy Giuliani as a consultant].

On April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili, a twenty-eight-year-old white investment banker, went for a jog in Central Park.  As she made her way from her Upper East Side Park entrance north toward Harlem, Meili was attacked, bound with her own shirt, beaten with a rock, raped, and left for dead in a pool of her own blood.  Doctors told reporters it was not clear if she would live.  If she did, brain damage was a near certainly.  The Central Park jogger, as she become known, would remain unconscious for nearly two weeks.

Five boys, four black and on Hispanic, ages fourteen to sixteen, were arrested.  Two weeks after the crime, millions of New Yorkers reading the city's four major newspapers--the New York Times, Daily News, New York Post, and Newsday--were greeted with a full-page ad paid for by Trump.  "Bring back the death penalty," he wrote, warning of "roving bands of wild criminals."  Trump used the horrific crime as an opportunity to attack Mayor Ed Koch.  Trump had been considering running against Koch in the Democratic primary and had long feuded with the mayor over tax abatement Trump wanted for a proposed development.  Trump had called the mayor a "moron," and Koch had said Trump was "greedy."

Now, Trump used the Central Park jogger case to further ridicule his rival.  "Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts," trump wrote in the ad.  "I don’t not think so.  I want to hate these muggers and murderers.  They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes."

Many blacks saw in Trump's ads not just opportunism, but also racism.  The Reverend Al Sharpton called on Trump to apologize publicly for what Sharpton called a "hate-mongering ad."  The day the ads ran, Trump said in TV interviews that the teenagers arrested for the rape symbolized New York's problems.  Trump presented himself as an every-man who had the money and courage to speak freely without fear of economic consequences or damage to his reputation: "You better believe that I hate the people that took this girl and raped her brutally.  You better believe it."

The jogger would survive the brutal beating but suffered permanent damage.  The young men were convicted and served six to thirteen years in prison.  But year later, a career criminal confessed to the rape, providing a DNA match.  The convictions were overturned, and the city paid $41 million to settle a wrongful imprisonment suit that the men had filed.  Trump called the settlement "a disgrace," refused to apologize, and said, "These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels."  He said he wouldn't have given them "a dime" and insisted "they owe the taxpayers of the City of New York an apology for taking money out of their pockets like candy from a baby."  Decades later, one of the falsely accused men, Yusef Salaam, called Trump "a hateful person" who had rushed to judgment and inflamed tensions in the city.  "Donald Trump, he was the fire starter," Salaam said.

Now the bane of Trump and Sessions' lives is Black Lives Matter.  Sessions declares, "I do not believe this pop in [race] crime is a one-time aberration.  I'm afraid it represents the beginning of a trend."  Now there is spate of Anti-Semitic crimes against Jewish properties, which Trump calls "False Flags" in order to avoid taking responsibility for his own racist rhetoric.

DRUGS & DEATH

Johnson writes that the new attorney general said that he had been "shocked" by the waves of overdose deaths attributed to heroin and its synthetic form, fentanyl, that continue to cut a particularly deadly swath through the Northeast and Midwest.  However, he seem not to believe that these death are due to self-medication because the victims did not have medical coverage.  Dope was cheaper than doctor/psychiatric visits and the medications that would heal instead of placate.  Trump and the Tea-Party Republicans attacks on the Affordable Medical Care Act or Obamacare that grants these victims of Neoliberal neglect has been constantly under fire from the neoconservatives under the support of the Koch brothers.

Sessions also cited the increase legalization of marijuana, as an issue he long railed against while an Alabama senator, as contributing to a culture of acceptance.

"I'm not sure we're going to be a better, healthier nation of (marijuana) is being sold from every corner grocery store," Sessions said.  "We don't need to be legalizing marijuana, and we need to be cracking down on heroin."

But what about the drug traffickers themselves and their enablers? 

David Cay Johnston writes in The Making Of Donald Trump (2016) writes the Donald Trump enabled, employed, and protected a notorious drug dealer to enhance his gambling business.  Johnston posits that among the assorted criminals with whom Trump did business over more than three decades, his most mysterious dealings involved a drug trafficker named Joseph Weichselbaum.  Trump did unusual favors for the three-time felon, repeatedly putting his lucrative casino license at risk to help a major cocaine and marijuana trafficker for reasons that remain unfathomable.

Trump met Joey Weichselbaum through Steve Hyde, the portly Mormon elder who ran Trump's Atlantic City casinos in 1986.  At the time, Weichselbaum was already a twice-convicted felon.  Weichselbaum and his younger brother, Franklin, launched a New Jersey-based helicopter service in 1982.  Many more experienced firms offered helicopter services, but in 1984 the Weichselbaum brothers landed the primary contract to ferrying high rollers to and from Trump casinos.  Their fleet served other casinos as well, but their main client was Trump.  The brothers' company also maintained Trump's personal helicopter, Ivana--which Trump valued at $10 million.

The Weichselbaums called their firm Damin Aviation that soon filed for bankruptcy and reorganized as Nimad (Damin spelled backward).  The new firm kept Trump's business, which is not unusual in itself: when a debtor retains possession of a firm, as the Weichselbaum did, the debtor often retains contracts with customers.  But the firm went bankrupt again, and again reorganized, this time as American Business Aviation.

Why did Trump Plaza continue to pay $100,000 per month and Trump's Castle $80,000 a month for helicopter services from a firm that was so financially unstable when Trump could have hired any its better-financed and more experienced competitors?  One obvious question is whether Weichselbaum was perhaps providing some other valuable service sub rosa.

Trump himself was no drug user.  He didn't even drink or smoke.  But it was open knowledge in Atlantic City that high rollers could get anything they wanted as long as it was done discreetly.  For those who brought lots of cash, signed big markers, or were assigned complimentary suites, certain butlers were known to provide, for a price, whatever the customer wanted--be it illicit sex, drugs, or anything else.  As a state casino lawyer told Johnston shortly after he arrived in Atlantic City in 1988, "We regulate what goes on involving gaming, not what people do in the privacy of hotel rooms."

Another glaring question is whether Trump financed any of Weichselbaum activities.  Trump was known to be an avid investor seeking big returns, whether through green-mailing competing casino companies--buying controlling shares in rival casino companies and selling back those shares at a higher price--or using Roy Cohen's influence with mob-owned companies and mob-controlled unions.

Joey Wichselbaum's pay and perks were unusual.  In addition to his helicopter business, Joey Weichselbaum was an officer at a used-car dealership north of Miami--Bradford Motors, which he also owned in partnership with his brother.  Couriers from Colombia delivered drugs there, which were sometimes sold on the spot.  According to the indictment, Weichselbaum put cocaine in vehicles himself or handed it over to couriers who delivered it to buyers.  The dealership, essentially a front for drug trafficking, paid phony commissions for the sale of cars in an effort to hide the real business, as court records show.

As a casino owner in Atlantic City, Trump had every reason to avoid business dealings with known criminals, which Weichselbaum was even before the drug trafficking and tax evasion charges in Cincinnati.  Yet, instead of dropping the helicopter service, Trump retained American Business Aviation for his casino shuttles and to service his personal helicopter.  Trump later acquired three helicopters when he divvied up the old Resorts International Casino Company in a deal with entertainer Merv Griffin.  Trump got the unfinished Taj Mahal casino hotel, Merv the aging Resorts hotel (the original Atlantic City casino).   Despite having these three choppers, Trump kept paying more than $2 million per year for Weichselbaum copters.

Two months after Weichselbaum was indicted, the Weichselbaum brothers rented apartment 32-C at a $4,000-per-month discount from the Trump Plaza condominiums on East 61st Street in Manhattan.  Trump personally owned apartment 32-C.  What motivated Trump to agree to this arrangement has never been explained.

When Weichselbaum made a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to one of the eighteen counts in the Cincinnati case, something very suspicious happened.  The Weichselbaum case was moved to New Jersey.  There is was assigned to Judge Maryanne Trump Barry--Donald Trump's older sister.

Judge Barry rescued herself three weeks later, but the mere act of removing herself from the case came with a powerful message: a sitting federal judge, as well as her husband (lawyer John Barry) and family, repeatedly flew in helicopters connected to a major drug trafficker.  Any new judge assigned to the case, including the district's presiding judge, was on notice that this case had the potential to embarrass the bench.

When Judge Harold A. Ackerman replaced Trump's sister, Trump wrote him a letter seeking leniency for Weichselbaum on the drug trafficking charge.  Trump characterized the defendant as "a credit to the community" and described Weichselbaum as "conscientious, forthright and diligent" in his dealings with the Trump Plaza and Trump's Castle casinos.

Trump called Johnston at his home in spring 2016, when he was working on a long piece for Politico magazine about his ties to various criminals.  After a few question about what Johnston was up to, Trump asked what he wanted to know, even though he already had Johnston's twenty-one questions in writing.  Johnston asked what motivated him to write the letter for Weichselbaum.  Trump said he "hardly knew" the man and didn't remember anything about him.  When Johnston reminded Trump that he said on national television just a few months earlier that he has "the world's greatest memory," Trump justified that "that was long ago."

As Trump often does in calls to journalists, he told Johnston he liked some of his work and that he had been fair at times, but nonetheless, he added that if he didn't like what Johnston was about to publish he would sue him.  That last comment surprised Johnston.  Trump knows that he was not intimidatable and he reminded Trump that he is a public figure.  Under the law, that means a libel suit would require him to show that Johnston wrote something with reckless disregard for the truth--something no one has ever accused Johnston of in nearly fifty years of investigative reporting.

Trump replied, "I know I'm a public figure but I'll sue you anyway."

Johnston writes that Weichselbaum was not eh last unsavory character Trump got close to.  Much more recently, Trump chose to work with a convicted art thief who goes by the name of "Joey No Socks," as well as with the son of a Russian mob boss, a man with a violent history--and there's video to prove it.

Attorney General Sessions To Recuse Himself From Any Trump Campaign Investigations

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the Justice Department on Thursday. He is under fire after reports that he had conversations with the Russian ambassador last year.Susan Walsh/AP

Updated at 4:56 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will recuse himself from any investigations into possible Russian involvement in the 2016 elections.

"Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign," Sessions reiterated during an afternoon news conference in response to reports that he had met twice with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last year.

"I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in," Sessions said.

The meetings, first reported by the Washington Post first and confirmed by NPR's Carrie Johnson, came as Sessions was a top surrogate for President Trump's campaign and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, the then-Alabama senator told Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., under oath that he "did not have communications with the Russians."

Sessions said Thursday that it was not his intent to mislead the committee and that he would soon write to the members to clarify his answers, admitting that in retrospect, he "should have slowed down and said I did meet with one Russian official and that was the Russian ambassador."



When asked about what he did discuss with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their two meetings in July and September, Sessions said, "I don't recall" but that "most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy."

In a statement, Sessions announced that after meeting with his staff and Justice Department counsel, "I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States."

When Trump was asked earlier in the day about Sessions during the president's visit to the USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Va., Trump said he "wasn't aware" Sessions had spoken to the Russian ambassador. When asked about whether the attorney general should recuse himself, Trump responded, "I don't think so."

Sessions clarified in the statement, however, that the "announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation" and reiterated that he has "taken no actions regarding any such matters, to the extent they exist."

Democrats on Capitol Hill were already clamoring for a Sessions recusal — and his possible resignation. Some top Republicans had already begun to say that he should recuse himself from any investigations too, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, though McCarthy later tried to walk that back.

After the Sessions announcement, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said that "any talk of resignation is nonsense" and that Sessions' recusal was "the right thing to do."

Grassley added that he "welcomes" Sessions sending a letter to the committee to "clear up any confusion regarding his testimony."

If any investigation into the 2016 election does move forward, however, Acting Deputy Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dane Boente will oversee those matters. He was appointed acting attorney general in the interim before Sessions' confirmation after Obama holdover Sally Yates was fired by Trump for refusing to defend the president's temporary ban on refugees and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries.

NPR Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.

FLASHBACK: Three Explosive Details About The Clinton-Lewinsky Affair
Photo of Peter Hasson
Peter Hasson
Reporter, Associate Editor

Saturday marks 18 years to the day since the House of Representatives authorized an impeachment inquiry into then-President Bill Clinton following a report from independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who laid out a case for impeaching Clinton in relation to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones.

Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky Reuters   Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky Reuters

The Starr Report focused on Clinton’s relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton denied under oath that he and Lewinsky ever had any sexual relations and claimed he couldn’t recall any instances in which the two were alone.

Lewinsky also denied the affair, reportedly under pressure from Clinton to keep quiet.

Starr recommended impeaching Clinton on 11 grounds including perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and abuse of power.

The report revealed the explosive nature of Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky. Below are just three of the many from the Starr Report. (Editor’s note: the following contains sexually explicit language and depications)

Clinton spoke on the phone with members of Congress while receiving oral sex.

Lewinsky testified that her first sexual encounter from Clinton took place on November 15, 1995 when he met her in an office of one of his senior advisers before taking her into his private study. (The adviser, George Stephanopoulos, is now an anchor with ABC News.)

Once the two were alone in the office, Lewinsky testified, “she and the President kissed. She unbuttoned her jacket; either she unhooked her bra or he lifted her bra up; and he touched her breasts with his hands and mouth.” Clinton didn’t stop even for a member of Congress.

“I believe he took a phone call . . . and so we moved from the hallway into the back office,” Lewinsky testified. “[H]e put his hand down my pants and stimulated me manually in the genital area.”

Starr notes, “While the President continued talking on the phone (Ms. Lewinsky understood that the caller was a Member of Congress or a Senator), she performed oral sex on him.” Lewinsky’s account was corroborated by White House phone records, Starr said.

Two days later, Clinton would again receive oral sex from Lewinsky. Once again, the president spoke on the phone with a member of Congress while receiving oral sex from a White House intern.

“They kissed, and the President touched Ms. Lewinsky’s bare breasts with his hands and mouth,” Starr recounts. “At some point, Ms. Currie approached the door leading to the hallway, which was ajar, and said that the President had a telephone call. Ms. Lewinsky recalled that the caller was a Member of Congress with a nickname.”

“While the President was on the telephone, according to Ms. Lewinsky, ‘he unzipped his pants and exposed himself,’ and she performed oral sex.”

A similar incident took place when Clinton received a phone call from an adviser, Dick Morris.

After President Clinton took the phone call, he “indicated that Ms. Lewinsky should perform oral sex while he talked on the phone, and she obliged. The telephone conversation was about politics, and Ms. Lewinsky thought the caller might be Dick Morris,” Starr wrote. “White House records confirm that the President had one telephone call during Ms. Lewinsky’s visit: from ‘Mr. Richard Morris,’ to whom he talked from 5:11 to 5:20 p.m.”

The infamous cigar incident: “It tastes good.”

In a now-infamous March 31, 1996 romp, the President Clinton took a cigar out of his mouth and sexually penetrated his intern with it before returning the cigar to his mouth.

“According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President telephoned her at her desk and suggested that she come to the Oval Office on the pretext of delivering papers to him. She went to the Oval Office and was admitted by a plainclothes Secret Service agent. In her folder was a gift for the President, a Hugo Boss necktie,” said the Starr report.

“In the hallway by the study, the President and Ms. Lewinsky kissed. On this occasion, according to Ms. Lewinsky, ‘he focused on me pretty exclusively,’ kissing her bare breasts and fondling her genitals. At one point, the President inserted a cigar into Ms. Lewinsky’s vagina, then put the cigar in his mouth and said: ‘It tastes good.’ After they were finished, Ms. Lewinsky left the Oval Office and walked through the Rose Garden.”

Lots of phone sex 

Lewinsky testified that she and Clinton had phone sex at least seven times in 1996, after Lewinsky had started working at the Pentagon.

“According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President telephoned her at about 6:30 a.m. on July 19, the day he was leaving for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and they had phone sex, after which the President exclaimed, ‘[G]ood morning!’ and then said: ‘What a way to start a day,'” the Starr report said. “In Ms. Lewinsky’s recollection, she and the President also had phone sex on May 21, July 5 or 6, Oct. 22, and Dec. 2, 1996.”

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

National Security

The Many Meetings Of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak

4:04

After reports surfaced about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' meetings with the Russian ambassador, we look at what is next for the Trump administration.  http://www.npr.org/2017/03/04/518461942/the-many-meetings-of-russia...

A Recap Of A Busy Week For President Trump

5:14

March 4, 20177:41 AM ET

We go over the stories of the week in politics, from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal to President Trump's joint address, and look ahead to a revised travel ban and Obamacare repeal efforts.  http://www.npr.org/2017/03/04/518461984/a-recap-of-a-busy-week-for-...

Politics

Wisconsin Rep. Sensenbrenner On Not Shying Away From Town Halls

5:52

NPR's Scott Simon talks to Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. He's held more town halls this term than any other member of Congress, many of whom have canceled events in the wake of protests. http://www.npr.org/2017/03/04/518462019/wisconsin-rep-sensenbrenner...

Author Interviews

Mohsin Hamid's Novel 'Exit West' Raises Immigration Issues

6:49

March 6, 20175:12 AM ET

Steve Inskeep talks to Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, who examines the global refugee crisis in a new novel called Exit West. The book is part ripped from the headlines and part magic realism. http://www.npr.org/2017/03/06/518743041/mohsin-hamids-novel-exit-we...

Views: 31

Comment by mary gravitt on March 7, 2017 at 10:54am

It's funny how the past is never past--William Faulkner tole US this.  If you do not know your history, you are bound to repeat it, George Santayana told US.  Both men were wasting their time trying to educate Americans because we still believe the past--history, has nothing to do with our lives.

Now history has caught up with US.  We have elected a 21st century version of Hitler and have embraced Hitlerism as our secular religion with the blessing of the Christian Sadducees.

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