Colson: Manafort & Bondi, thorns in Trump’s balloon? | AspenTimes.com

Colson: Manafort & Bondi, thorns in Trump’s balloon?

John Colson
Hit & Run

Donald Trump cannot be a happy camper these days.

Last month, the Republican presidential nominee’s hand-picked campaign savior, Paul Manafort, had to quit over a rising scandal concerning Manafort’s alleged involvement in illegal lobbying efforts to sway U.S. opinion in support of a disgraced and ousted president of the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

This month, newspapers in Florida — not exactly a hotbed of the kind of “liberal media bias” that Trump loves to blather on about — are calling for a federal investigation of charges that Trump bribed the state’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, to get her to back off on investigating complaints from Floridians about Trump University.

The reason the Florida papers — The Miami Herald and The Tampa Bay Times — are looking for federal help is because their editors have concluded that prosecutors in the state “won’t touch this mess,” according to one published account.

Still, by making fun of Hillary Clinton’s fainting spell and pneumonia, not to mention criticizing her for being “insulting” about the cluelessness of his supporters, it’s clear that Trump’s strategy of ignoring his bad press and insulting anyone and everyone in sight is at least distracting some of the attention from his foibles.

I, however, refused to be distracted. I have written before that if the world were a different place today than it is, I probably would not be voting for Clinton in November.

But the world is what it is, and the idea of a Trump presidency makes me tremble. We’re already in pretty bad shape in terms of the financial well-being of the nation as a whole, and we are ridiculed as often as we’re praised by the international community thanks to the ongoing presidential-campaign train wreck.

So, I simply cannot sit by while Trump, of all people, accuses Clinton of being dishonest, insulting and unfit to hold the Office of the President.

Trump is the perfect, sooty pot calling Clinton’s kettle black.

Let’s take a swift glance at Trump’s Russian connection, shall we?

He’s been widely quoted as saying admiring things about Russian President Vladimir Putin and Putin’s style of dictatorial rule (though Trump calls it “leadership”).

He hired Paul Manafort, a former adviser to ousted Ukrainina President Viktor Yanukovich (a pro-Putin bureaucrat of the highest order), who had to flee the country when his citizens turned on him. Then, Trump had to dump Manafort last month after the U.S. press got its hands on the story.

It is interesting to note that in Putin’s Russia, that sort of switcheroo never would have happened, since Putin controls the media. Not to mention the fact that reporters and editors in Russia who write critical stories about Putin’s regime too often disappear without a trace soon after the stories come out.

So, is this what we could expect from a Trump reign? A puppet press that fawns over everything Dear Leader says and ignores any hint of scandal, corruption, political assassination and fiscal skullduggery?

That, as far as I can tell, would certainly be in line with the way Trump has acted throughout his campaign, when anyone who gets in Trump’s way finds himself or herself the target of vilifying comments, racist or sexist slurs and other rank treatment; behavior that was unthinkable from a national political candidate only a dozen years ago.

This, of course, begs the question: What would he do if he truly had power, if he were sitting in the Oval Office and his Republican cadre still controlled both houses of Congress? What would his thuggish supporters do if they found themselves loosed of all bounds of rational consideration?

Well, to get an idea, we can turn to the Pam Bondi scandal.

One newspaper called it “Trump’s Benghazi,” a straight-faced reference to the Republican witch hunt against Clinton over the tragic loss of life when the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by anti-U.S. extremists.

That happened four years ago, on Sept. 11, 2012, and has been on the front burner of the Republican Party’s hateful agenda ever since.

I can’t see a parallel between the Bondi scandal and the deaths at the embassy, but then again, I’m not a Republican.

Anyways, the Bondi thing: According to various accounts, Bondi earlier this year announced that she had received complaints from Floridians who claimed they’d been defrauded by Trump University (for more on the Trump University travails, Google it) and seemed ready to join New York state in a broad investigation into the claims.

Up steps Trump with a first-ever donation of $25,000 to Bondi’s re-election effort, and she drops all mention of joining into the fraud investigation.

Intriguing, isn’t it? Especially since the story was uncovered by an Orlando Sentinel columnist who was perusing campaign-donation records. Another media revelation that never would have come to light under a Putin-like administration is how I’d characterize it.

And now both Trump and Bondi are dancing around accusations that there is something smelly about the entire deal.

Of course, if Trump had Putin’s powers, even supposing any of this had ever come out, it would already have been buried, probably alongside the corpse of that pesky columnist.

And this is a guy who some people actually believe should be our next president?

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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