Russia and Bridgegate Mysteries – and our Memories of Meeting Nixon On An Historic Day

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.

 

 

 

The World According to Brady In A Time When Common Sense Has Vanished

Bob Brady is built like a heavyweight, his muscles ripping through his shirts. His mind is the same way, expansive and unlimited. When it comes to politics and government, he has extraordinary instincts. He doesn’t miss a thing. Some of the elites in Philadelphia society will say that he doesn’t exactly talk like a professor. But he talks the language of politics more smoothly than just about anyone I know. This veteran of eighteen years in Congress has taught at Penn and his class was hard to get in to. After all,  the students got more of a real look at politics . Unlike many Congress members in Washington the Philadelphia Democratic Party chair, is void of the usual phony-baloney politics speak.

So, when we first chatted on KYW Newsradio, I got the numbers and the nuances to the Friday health care collapse for the Republicans. As we continued talking, it all came out and clearly.

Brady said, “It’s real simple. Not rocket science. The R’s needed to change 33 to 37 minds. In the last day, Ryan and Trump kept modifying the bill. They made compromises to the Freedom Caucus. That would piss off the Tuesday Club moderates, five of them from our area. They would then try to make changes for the moderates. That would really make the Freedom Caucus members irritated. So the more they talked, the more they started cancelling each sides votes out. It was a circle of failure.

I asked him about Ryan’s future.

“He’ll probably survive it, but the White House may try to squeeze his power.”

So that’s a leading Democrat’s look.

What about the Republicans? The truth is that no one wants to talk on the record, at least for now. But there was a show of guts this week by some area GOP lawmakers. Frank LoBiondo of South Jersey, Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks, and Charlie Dent of Lehigh Valley, were potential “no” votes. Pat Meehan of the western suburbs was leaning “no”, and Ryan Costello of Chester and Berks might have gone either way.

You’ll be hearing a lot of analysis paralysis on this one. But here’s the definitive look at the near future.

It’s more than ideology. Whether you brand yourself as pro or con Trump, Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise, we need a government that works. And this version, on the executive and legislative levels, is not working. The Judicial branch is under fire from the White House.

Some recommendations. You can skewer me or get positive via twitter @larrykane

First, the two parties, along with TrumpWorld need to have a bunch of gatherings to find out what they can accomplish. Trash talk should end, and American should be first. If you don’t govern well and informed and for the people, than the words “America First” are as useless as they were in the thirties when aviator Charles Lindbergh and others used them as code words for appeasing the fascist in Germany.

If Donald Trump wants to put America First, he should stay informed, and the people who care about him should order an intervention to kick his twitter and cable news addictions. Those habits have to go. The Congress and the President need to be more engaged. Did you know that the Republican leadership never even bothered to negotiate with a single Democratic House member? Did you know that the whole issue could have been resolved with modifications to Obamacare? But passion trumped patriotism in this debate. 

It seems that everyone is going to extremes, This is not about winning. This is about uniting the country with a purposed-filled agenda.

I am just one voice, but I’ve been reporting on politics for 55 years, and I can tell you, with confidence that the mess has to be fixed (see above report) even faster. While Russia and other important stories have damaged the White House, there are several issues that have to be addressed now. The President needs to hire professionals. He has made a few great hires at the National Security Council, National Defense, and in the financial arena. But, right now, Donald Trump has a chance to succeed by prioritizing expertise over loyalty.  Consider this. There are many career government executives who have worked for both parties and several Presidents. A large percentage of them have been let go, leaving vital agencies understaffed and with novices at the steering wheel.

The White House has purged most of the people who served Barack Obama, some of them with no political loyalties at all.

Purges never work, except in places like Russia.

 

COMEY FIRES A DOUBLE WHAMMY AT TRUMP – NEXT?

You already know the headlines. FBI Chief Comey says Trump wiretapping accusation against former President Obama is not true. Comey and the NSA chief confirm major investigation of possible links between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

The timing is horrible for Trump – just a few days before the RyanCare vote in the House, and during the rigorous week of testimony for his choice for the Supremes.

In a real-life look at the problems facing Trump is one clear reality. His tweets, exaggerated and dark statements, his inconsistencies, and his love for Russia while he burns up so many links with Allies, were all brought on by himself.

Whether you are pro or anti-Trump. Think about this. What would have happened if he could rewrite the immediate past. He starts his term on January 20th by stopping all accusatory tweeting. He follows State Department protocols. He simply goes about the business of governing, makes his views known, even through social media. He does not declare war on the intelligence agencies, and he tries to take some strong advice about just coping with the media. I mean, think about this. Donald Trump has made more enemies in his first several months than most politicians make in a lifetime.

Obviously, he can make his situation much better by reviewing his campaign promises. If the RyanCare plan goes through, he will have abandoned his supporters. Correct that. He will be enraging his base.

He can also bring peace to the warring factions in the White House, and stop blaming the Democrats, President Obama, The Mainstream Media, and the FBI, CIA, NSA and all the people trying to protect us.

Finally, he should have a conversation with his family and really close friends. He should stop watching only friendly news programs. He needs to read major stories from a variety of newspapers,  Then he should meditate a little, and, after a thorough review of all of his actions, privately accept the blame for his falling approval ratings by taking a hard look in the mirror.

If he can’t control himself, we are in big trouble.

There’s a lot at stake. And we are the stakeholders.

LK

 

SERIOUS WARNING – On National Affairs, Tuning Out Can Cause You Big Trouble

You don’t need me to tell you that we live in serious and challenging times. Fear and anxiety are mixed with hope and helplessness. But this is no time for being so scared or so divided, or so tense, that you want to tune out the news.  I will say this without fear and trepidation, because I am not an enemy of the people, nor do I subscribe to FAKE NEWS.  At several recent speaking engagements, I’ve watched people get up and swear that they are so turned off that they want to stop watching TV and reading newspapers, even turning off news radio, which in this family is a grave error if you know what I mean.

The danger is very clear. If you decide to wuss out and go into a news black out syndrome, you are giving the lying, thieving, and dangerous political actors, on all sides, exactly what they want. It allows them to work in the shadows which they love. Power is very seductive. Power without accountability is asking for major league trouble, sapping your power, and getting your butt kicked by the nations’s ultra’s whether they are red or blue. Believe me, the extremists are very close in the tenor of their political messages. It’s either “my way or the highway.” This is why independents or moderates in both parties decide elections.

So, here’s the bottom line of my first online analysis in a long time.

In reaching out for news online or elsewhere, get all sides. Watching or reading only  political sites with a singular point of view is as dangerous to you and your loved ones as racing through a stop sign! Ok. That’s an extreme example. but if someone is messing with your healthcare, you could get sick and wind up in the same emergency room as accident victims. If your taxes rise or fall, find out why. Be wary of sites and networks that have just one point of view. It has been refreshing to see CNN, MSNBC, and FOX anchors throw knockout punches at some of the cow chips flying out of the mouths of  people in power, as they throw political allegiances aside. Especially powerful have been the fearless Jake Tapper, the independent Shepard Smith, and the political editors at NBC and CBS. Give yourself some real variety, and bookmark some great web sites.

Read and watch with caution. Lies and exaggerations should be fact checked. Whether you are a fan of President Trump, or Elizabeth Warren, hold them up to the highest standards.

The truth is dangerous, but refreshing. As Jack Nicholson said in the great movie A Few Good Men, as he grilled Tom Cruise, …” the truth, you can’t handle the truth.”

If you can handle the truth, get involved. Don’t black out the news and leave your mind vacant.

If you think Mr. Trump is costing us too much money for his Florida trips, tell him to go to Camp David. If you are fed up with the quite lame Democratic leadership, let em have it. If you think Iowa’s Congressman Steve King’s racial bent is hurting the country, let his office know. Come to be an equal opportunity critic, because there are excesses on both sides of the aisle.

In the coming days. just do yourself a favor. Get all sides, make a judgment, and speak out, of if you wish, say nothing.

I’ll be writing a few times a week about some key issues facing us.

But for now. I leave you with a question.

Does it bother you that in off-year elections, only ten percent of the voters show up to elect school board members who set your taxes, design  curriculum for your children or grandchildren, and sometimes, get involved in religious and political controversies?

Think about that. And please, stay informed. What you don’t know can and will hurt you!!!

And if you live in the Philadelphia region, don’t forget, “two, three, four times a day.”

If you want to react, Twitter  @larrykane

LK