Teflon Don: how Trump the mafia boss fought the law and won

After Mueller, the president is being compared to mobsters from John Gotti to Tony Soprano. And yet he remains in office

” You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod …”

It was 17 June 2017. Donald Trump was on the phone, urging Don McGahn, the White House counsel, to turn the fuck on the deputy us attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

” Call Rod, tell Rod that[ Robert] Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the special lawyer ,” Trump said, in a second call that day.” Mueller has to go … Call me back when you do it .”

If the tone of these secret exchanges, revealed in Mueller’s long-awaited report this week, remind you of Tony Soprano- the amoral, brood, charismatic, philandering, thuggish crime boss in the eponymous TV drama– ordering a hit on one his foes, you are not alone.

Over 448 pages, Mueller does not present Trump as a traitor but does portray him as a serial storyteller willing to insult power, shred standards and deflect the rule of law in a White House rotten to the core. Amid this culture of malfeasance and mendacity, trusted lieutenants are expected to demonstrate absolute allegiance, up to and including stymie justice to save the president’s skin.

” He conducts himself like a New Jersey mob boss who is unconcerned about questioning the people around him to conduct unethical or legally challenging action ,” said Kurt Bardella, former representative and senior adviser for the House oversight and government reform committee.” Truth and accuracy only don’t factor into his thought process at all.

” The a requirement for loyalty and fealty are like an organised crime system. Instead of the John Gotti family, it’s the Trump family and his solders are the Republican members of Congress who protect him .”

After two years that transfix Washington, Mueller’s redacted report outlined 11 chapters in which Trump or his campaign organisation tried to have the special attorney burnt, limit its scope of application of his investigation or interfere in other lanes. But it did not recommend costs , nor find a criminal plot with Russia to help Trump win the 2016 election, although it rolled spate of contacts.

The president was quick to assertion vindication and rail against the media, while his House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, proclaimed it was ” really the best period since he got elected “. But Mueller state pointedly that” while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, the committee is also does not exonerate him”, potentially offering Congress a roadmap to impeachment .

The devil was in details surely enough to end the career of almost any other politician .~ ATAGEND Many had been previously reported- a testament to dogged journalism- which probably reduced their startle importance and was endeavouring to Trump’s benefit. But they also committed the clearest paint yet of the character of the three men in the Oval Office.

Almost a year ago, the comedian Bill Maher told his HBO observers :” People call this presidency a reality depict. It’s more like a Scorsese movie. Everything Trump does is modeled on the mob. When he was accused of sexual harassment, he brought in Bill Clinton’s accusers to sit in the gallery at the debate, just like Michael Corleone delivered Frank Pentangeli’s brother into tribunal[ in The Godfather Part II] …

” He’s so much like a Don that his name is literally Don .”

James
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Photo: Barry Wetcher/ AP

Mueller’s report imaged a mortal dangling forgiveness to acolytes, turning vicious against all the persons who is unwilling to kiss his hoop and furiously scrambling to conceal proof as law enforcement closed in. He seemed paranoid about who was on his back and who might betray him.

For example, James Comey, then head of the FBI, has claimed that in January 2017 Trump invited him to dinner and asked him for a pledge of loyalty. The chairwoman has quarrelled the report. Nonetheless, Mueller was indicated that” substantial proof corroborates Comey’s account of the dinner summon and the request for patriotism “.

In July that year, Trump questioned his staff secretary Rob Porter for his opinion of associate us attorney general Rachel Brand, asking if Brand was ” on the team “.

Trump employed the language of the mob to describe his foes. Mueller’s team said it found evidence to suggest the president intended to discourage his longtime confidante Michael Cohen from cooperating with federal authorities , noting that after Cohen did so, Trump branded him a “rat” and publicly showed his family members had committed crimes.

Then there was Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chair now in jail for bank fraud and tax evasion. Mueller noted:” The testify supports the presumption that the president intended Manafort expressed the belief that he could receive a forgivenes, which would build cooperation with the government as a means of obtaining a smaller sentence unnecessary .”

Trump’s attempts to fire Mueller, and then to cover up those attempts, pose one of the most important question marks over his conduct.

His calls to McGahn that day in June 2017 were in vain. The White House counsel rejected, deciding he “d rather” cease than trigger a crisis” akin to the Saturday Night Massacre”, Richard Nixon’s effort to hobble the Watergate investigation. McGahn told the then White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the president had asked him to” do crazy shit “.

Seven months later, when the New York Times revealed that Trump had asked McGahn to flaming Mueller , the president told McGahn:” I never said to fire Mueller. I never said’ fire ‘. This tale doesn’t seem good. You need to correct this. You’re the White House counsel .” McGahn refused, saying the narrative was accurate.

A livid Trump told Porter he would dismiss McGahn if the latter is unwilling to craft a memo stating Trump never aimed him to fire Mueller. The president is quoted as saying:” If he doesn’t write a letter, then maybe I’ll have to get rid of him .” He even belittled McGahn as a” lying bastard “, according to Porter’s account.

In another warn encounter, Trump wondered aloud why McGahn took notes during gathers.” What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes .” McGahn replied that he did so because he was a” real solicitor” and note-taking established a record. Trump said:” I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not taken due note .”

Cohn, a mafia solicitor and political fixer best known for his involvement in Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist campaign of the 1950 s, was a mentor and personal solicitor to Trump early in his business career.

Gwenda Blair, author of The Trumps and of Donald Trump: The Candidate, said:” I’m ever reminded of how consistent this guy has been in this unrelenting places great importance on what he can get away with. I take my hat off, grudgingly, to his nose, his instinct for where is the bright part of the line and biding on a hair’s breadth on the right side of it.

” His material about no tones , no memo , no paper trail. That’s what he was telling his the officials of the mid-7 0s. That was before The Godfather .”

Blair added:” There’s a moment in the report where Jared Kushner was trying to tell him something and Trump pushed him away and said,’ I don’t want to know that .’ The instinct for deniability. Extremely Nixonian. The shrewdness about what you can get away with, just staying on the right side of the line. He can spot it in other people who will abide by that, like[ the prosecutor general] William Barr .”

Richard
Richard Nixon reacts during an interview by David Frost, in 1977. Photo: John Bryson/ Time& Life Pictures/ Getty Image

‘Quite comparable to Nixon’

The report renders that impression that Trump was saved from himself by staff who disobeyed him, even at the risk of earning his wrath. Mueller writes that Trump’s attempts to seize self-control of the results of the investigation” were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests “.

Larry Jacobs , director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said:” I thought it was a shocking report. I don’t think we’ve had a president in the modern era who’s been revealed to be as coarse and brutish and willing to break the laws and regulations as Donald Trump.

” The criminal goal is quite comparable to what Richard Nixon engaged in. Trump was able to get away with it because his staff said no. Nixon’s faculty did the Watergate break-in and participated in the cover-up .”

The investigation spelled out just how far Trump has proceeded in pushing the restrictions of its chairman and shaping others complicit. Jacobs added:” What concerns me about this moment is the message it sends to future chairwomen: Trump was able to act in a lawless behavior and solicit help from a foreign competitor. One shudders to see how future chairpeople will behave. What’s the deterrent ?”

As faithfully chronicled in The Sopranos, the most skilled misdemeanour honchoes manage to remain untouchable even as their officers and footsoldiers are picked off. Trump “ve managed” withstand sitting down for the purposes of an in-person interview with the special counsel.

The report’s appendix includes 12 pages of Trump’s written responses to queries from Mueller’s team. There were more than 30 instances when Trump offered changes of ” I don’t remember “, answers Mueller deemed “inadequate”. He considered issuing a subpoena to force the president to appear but decided to avoid a long legal battle.

But there was another striking time in the report that seemed out of character. Mueller like to remind you that Trump was so agitated at the special counsel’s appointment on 17 May 2017 that he slumped back in his chair and declared:” Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked .”

A rare evidence of self-doubt from an otherwise shameless Don. Corleone and Soprano would not have approved.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ us-news/ 2019/ apr/ 21/ teflon-don-trump-mafia-boss-mueller-report-tony-soprano

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