I find it interesting that on the same day as the Bridge Gate sentencing, the Russia investigation took a new turn. On the same day as Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, both former top aides for Governor Chris Christie, got sentences of 18 months and 24 months respectively, Christie was sitting next to President Trump. Trump announced that Christie would advise the Trump White House on battling Opioid addiction.
It’s a noble cause, but I wonder what Christie was thinking. Was he feeling compassion for the two ex-members of his inner circle? Was he thinking about the small fortune he spent of taxpayers money on a friendly law firm to clear him in Bridge Gate? Or did he think about single mother Kelly and her vow, “I will not be a scapegoat.” Did that send chills up his spine? And what about the President. Had he heard yet that chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, flanked by the ranking Democrat, said he couldn’t rule out collusion between Trump associates and the Russians in the 2016 campaign. Once again, I reiterate: If you know the President, tell him to shut off his cell phone, and to stop making accusations without proof. It is just not smart.
To people, who want the truth in this mess, and who knows the truth yet, the press briefing by Richard Burr and the ranking Democrat, Mark Warner, was a breath of fresh air for people who would like to see a real investigation. The duo was united in the quest to get the story out with a clear and focused investigation, and with public briefings every couple of weeks. Burr, who supported Trump, called this the biggest investigation in two decades in Congress. He and Warner promised a professional investigation, cooperation with intelligence agencies and complete independence from the White House. As Christie’s former aide, the alleged “scapegoat” threatened that the battle was not over, did Christie become worried? Trump, sitting next to him, and his team had to be petrified by the Senate Intelligence committee’s vow to find the truth wherever it leads. That is, if there was collusion. In this country. you have to be wary of rumors and innuendo. But this investigation is important. Whether Trump people were involved is still a question mark, but just Russia’s invovement alone is enough to value this investigation. The Russian connection appears to a threat to both political parties and the people of America.
The Senate committee chiefs also said they wanted nothing to do with the House Investigation, which has been clouded by chairman Devin Nunes secret trip to the White House, and documents that he refuses to share. The House investigation remains stained by whatever Nunes was up to. It appears that he was trying to help the President, and appearances of impropriety or lack of judgement are dangerous. For all we know it was just a finding of some sorts. but it doesn’t appear to be appropriate. And whatever Nunes did, hasn’t really helped the White House a lot. Has it? The House committee is trying to make peace, but don’t count on a fast reconciliation.
On the subject of Opioid abuse, I respect Christie as one of the few high profile politicians to fight not only the abuse, but also battle for better treatment.
The Senate committee will begin Thursday (today or tomorrow depending when you are reading this) with an appearance by the head of the FBI and NSA. It will be interesting to see the line of questioning, compared to the House hearings last week.
Pollster and political super-Terry Madonna and I shared a conversation on the investigations. Terry says, “The House investigation is dysfunctional. That mess makes the Senate hearings the best hope for an impartial investigation. It is fascinating how in one joint press conference, the Senate investigation became the place to go to for the real story.”
In the meantime, the offer by Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to appear before the Senate committee is good news.
On a related subject, we have not heard from General Mike Flynn in a while. Where is he, and what is he doing?
The silence on Flynn is mysterious. But then again, there is no reason for him to be “public” right now.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, but in all truth, I am puzzled why the White House isn’t taking a different, less defensive position.
I’m still curious about what Chris Christie and Donald Trump were thinking about today.
And then a memory came back. It was late June, 1972. I was the anchorman at Channel 6 Action News in Philadelphia. My wife and I were invited along with other members of local media around the country to a series of briefings on national policy at the White House. It was followed by a cocktail reception , and a brief chat and handshake with the President. Richard Nixon looked tired, almost anguished. His wife, First Lady Pat Nixon was gracious. He had learned that our first child was born only days before. The President asked my wife, “Do you want him to grow up to be President?” She answered, “With all due respect, I hope not.” We laughed, and took a picture.
The date was June 23, 1972. Two years later we would find out that it was the date of the “smoking gun” conversation that implicated President Nixon in the Watergate scandal, and forced his resignation.
We were there, in the White House, at the end of that work day.
Little did we know.