Tuesday, July 9, 2019

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The Politics of Epstein

In an indictment alleging conduct that indeed does “shock the conscience,” prosecutors laid out their criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein. 

The New York Times editorial board does a very good job of asking and answering an important question for our society: “Who Protected Jeffrey Epstein?”

Here are the answers to the other key political questions:

Q. What is Donald Trump’s relationship with Epstein?

A. This comprehensive-ish Washington Post story suggests the Trump-Epstein relationship was, not is.  There is a well-documented past between the two, but as of now, nothing to substantiate all those blind items that insiders email back and forth all day suggesting a more lurid and modern connection.

But ears are pricked by this: “The White House did not respond to a request for comment.”

There is more investigative digging going on here, but, remember: it has been going on for years.

Q. What is the White House posture towards Labor Secretary Acosta, who presided as US Attorney in Miami over the original Epstein sweetheart plea deal?

A. Again, the Washington Post has the state of play:

“Officials at the White House… are nervous that Democrats will encourage women allegedly abused by Epstein to testify publicly before Congress, drawing attention to Acosta’s work on the plea deal, according to current and former administration officials.”

‘Trump has no immediate plan to force out or fire Acosta, two White House officials said.”

Q. What is Team Bill Clinton doing regarding all the chatter about him?

A. Coming forward with the most comprehensive account of the Clinton-Epstein relationship it has ever given:

“Clinton spokesman Angel Ureña said the former president ‘knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.’ He said that, in 2002 and 2003, Clinton took four trips on Epstein’s plane with multiple stops and that staff and his Secret Service detail traveled on every leg.”

“’He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida,’ Ureña added.”

Q. What about the involvement of the Southern District’s Public Corruption Unit?

A. Courtesy of the very smart Mimi Rocah :

“What should we make of reporting that Epstein’s prosecution is being overseen by the Public Corruption Unit of the SDNY? Short answer: It’s too soon to say. It could mean that a public official is being investigated or will be charged with Epstein. That could be a minor public figure or a major one. It could mean that SDNY is investigating misconduct in the plea that Epstein was given in 2008. Or it could mean none of those things.”

Q. What are the chances that Epstein gives up his famous friends to try to save himself?

A. Again, courtesy of Mimi Rocah:

“Could Epstein cooperate and implicate other powerful men who were involved in this sex trafficking, both Republicans and Democrats? Yes—but the SDNY will not cooperate with a child predator like Epstein easily (for good reason in my view). In my 16 years as a prosecutor, I am only aware of two instances in which someone convicted of a crime of this nature was offered a cooperation agreement. That means Epstein would have to have some very valuable and verifiable information to trade for a cooperation agreement.”

Let’s be clear: these are all partial answers, valid only right now, and subject to change (maybe even by the time you read this).

In other news:

Warren Raises $19 million in Q2

My take: This is undeniably a signal achievement that establishes Warren’s place in the race as rising towards the top.  But now the surging Massachusetts Senator, like all the candidates in this crowded field, has more to prove.  Can she spend the new coin effectively to move up in Iowa? What will she raise in Q3?  And, still and most importantly, how will she fare when she has her time in the barrel?

Barr Claims to Have Solution to Census Question

My take: Nearly all experts continue to say this is a slow-motion waste of time.  But veteran observers of Barr’s verbal body language see in his remarks reason to wait until we see what he has up his well-tailored sleeve before declaring this Trump-driven quest dead.

US-China Trade Talks Heat Up a Smidge

My take: If you are interested in the president’s prospects for re-election, watch this space closely. Even incremental developments matter big, because there is almost nothing that will impact 2020 more than how the president finesses the economic relationship with China.  A deal before the State of the Union and Iowa caucuses will at a minimum goose the markets.

Trump’s Special Path to Wharton

My take: Essential reading from the Washington Post’s muckraking Michael Kranish on how Donald Trump went Ivy, based on what appears to be the first on-the-record interview with the family friend/admissions official who played a key role.  For those who are still looking for more data to confirm that Trump is a lying mythmaker.

Big Four


Sioux City to host forum on Native American issues among presidential hopefuls.

Julián Castro returns to Iowa, trying to grab onto new interest after the national debate.

New Hampshire

In Concord, Gillibrand speaks up for equal pay, equal protection.

South Carolina
SC senators discuss school accountability, state takeovers.

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