Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Breaking news stories -- Trump and Christie

Tuesday, I promised that "tomorrow" I would post an article from a different point of view about Trump's and Clinton's appeal to voters -- unless something else preempts it.   Well, leave it to Trump to dominate the news.   So look for the other article tomorrow.  Here are quick summaries of some breaking news on Tuesday:

1.  Reports are that Donald Trump gave $45,000 in campaign contributions to New York State Comptroller Alan Havesi and subsequently got Havesi's approval of a special tax abatement from New York that saved him $97 million in taxes on a building.   Havesi later went to jail for accepting bribes as comptroller;  but he was convicted on a different case,  not the one involving Trump.

2.  Washington Post investigative reporter, David Farenthold, has been doing dogged investigation into the Trump Foundation and Trump's (lack of) charitable donations.   His findings have already documented that Trump has put no money of his own into his charitable foundation since 2008.  But he gets other people to donate.  And then he writes checks from the foundation and passes them off as his own "charitable donations."   It's from the Trump Foundation, see?   The breaking news is further damning evidence from Farenthold, showing that as much as $258,000 of foundation money -- supposedly a tax deductible charity -- has been used by Trump to settle legal battles of his various businesses.

3.  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not on trial himself in the Bridgegate scandal trial that is underway, but his former deputy chief of staff and his crony from the Port Authority are.   They are the ones who exchanged the emails that are the "smoking gun" that got the politically vindictive lane closings under way.   Bridget Ann Kelly emailed Bill Baroni at the Port Authority:  "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," which was the signal, and to which Baroni replied:  "Got it."   And then the lane closings were set up.  It was already assumed that the defense lawyers would use "Gov. Christie knew about it while it was happening" in their defense.   In other words, to show that it was in the culture of the administration to do pay-back things like this.

The breaking news is this.    In the opening remarks of the trial, the prosecutor also stated that Gov. Christie knew about this at the time it was happening.  Even though Christie has spent all this time flatly denying that he had any knowledge of it.   What will be the outcome?   For Christie, no legal consequences in this trial.   He's not on trial.   But politically?   That remains to be seen.

If prosecution and defense are both making the claim, they must have good evidence.  And that is obviously David Wildman, Christie's inside man at the Port Authority in a job that Christie got them to create, specifically so he would have someone to keep him informed and do his bidding.  Wildman was also charged in the bridge closing scandal;  but he is cooperating with the prosecution in a plea deal  and apparently no longer protecting his old boss.

So Wildman has obviously told them this -- and it fits with that now infamous photo of Gov. Christie, Wildman, and Baroni, standing together after the 9/11 memorial ceremony.   They're all laughing and acting jovial.  This was at the height of the lane closings and the furor from motorists.   Everyone believed Christie must have known;   how could he not know?   Now they seem to have testimony that he did.

Wildman must have told the prosecutor the truth about Christie's knowing.   They were laughing about the revenge they were exacting against the mayor of Ft. Lee, a Democrat, who had refused to endorse Christie for reelection.   Pressuring Democratic mayors was part of Christie's ambitious plan to win reelection as a Republican governor in a blue state with big support from Democrats, making him seem inevitable for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016,    Didn't work out so well for him.

It's a fast-moving media circus out there.  There's been another police shooting of an unarmed black man with his hands up, this one in Oklahoma.  Once again, someone's video showed what really happened, which differs markedly from the report the involved police officers had filed.


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