Any self respecting circus has three rings, and so it is with the entertainment afforded the world by the Robert Mueller Omnibus Investigation Service.
In the center ring, of course, where the Russian watersports were supposed to have taken place (that was before any paying customers came through the door), is Jumbo!, prosecutor extraordinaire, Mr. Mueller himself, who has just managed the unprecedented feat of indicting a company that does not exist. “Do you represent them, or not,” the judge asked the lawyers for the defense. “Are we arraigning them as well?” “We’re not,” Jumbo!’s trainers responded. “And the reason for that, Your Honor, is…that company didn’t exist…during the time period alleged by the government. If at some later time they show me that it did exist, we would probably represent them. But for purposes of today, no, we do not.”
Audiences, though not the presiding magistrate, liked that sleight of hand, and fans are on the edge of their seats to see just how far back in history Jumbo! can go with his indictments. We’ve already seen indictments handed down for events that took place more than a decade ago and had nothing to do with Russians.
Why stop there? There are rumors that next week Jumbo! will be handing down an indictment against Frederick Trump, Donald Trump’s long-deceased grandfather, who, according to Wikipedia, “made his fortune by facilitating prostitution within his brothels, restaurants and boarding houses in Seattle.” An anonymous source says that currently redacted documents reveal that the name of one of Frederick Trump’s boarding houses was The Stormy Daniels. Stay tuned.
Jumbo! performs with his bevy of anti-Trump lawyers, unlimited subpoenas, and dancing G-men Monday through Thursday 10am to 2pm and Friday from 5-9pm when no one is watching.
I mentioned redactions. In the left ring, is the GRR, the Great Redaction Race, in which contestants from the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with a couple of ringers seconded from the Obama Administration, compete with Congressional Oversight Committees to see how much information embarrassing to the Deep State can be withheld from Congress on spurious national-security grounds. It’s a fast (but not fast enough) paced back and forth as Congress demands document and the DOJ supplies responses that are mostly blacked out, “redacted.”
When Congress threatens to hold the contestants in contempt, they respond with letters like this one from May 3, which insists that disclosure of the requested information “can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners,” etc. Congress keeps at it and eventually gets a few lines unredacted. So far, all the revelations have had nothing to do with national security and everything to with malfeasance on the part of the FBI, the DOJ, or actors within the Obama administration.
In each inning the DOJ’s goal is to release documents that are 100 per cent redacted. Congress seeks to produce for the public a document that is 100 per cent bare of black marks concealing bad behavior on the part of the Bureau or DOJ. In early matches, the DOJ won the most points for stonewalling, obfuscating, and temporising. Lately, however, due in large part to star players Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the tally has decidedly shifted in favor of Congress. Many experts believe that the release of the next installment of the DOJ’s Inspector General’s report will push Congress over the top.
What about the right ring? That is reserved for a number of revolving guest acts. It seems fitting that now performing in a space once occupied by the Bearded Lady and the dwarf Tom Thumb are Stormy Daniels, née Stephanie Clifford, and Michael Avenatti, the limelight sponge with a law degree.
Their pas de deux has rather sidelined Ms Daniels, who claims to have had a close encounter of the third kind with President Trump in 2006. Her last victory came in 2016 when she was paid $130,000 by President Trump’s lawyer in exchange for keeping mum about the alleged encounter. Ms Daniels’ previous lawyer, noting the severe penalties (we’re talking millions upon millions) outlined in the contract she signed should she renege on the deal, advised her to honour her promise. One of Counsellor Avenatti’s first reputation-defying tricks was have her flout the agreement on national television.
For his next act, he went after President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who was already performing with Jumbo! and his away team in New York. Counsellor Avenatti, with terrier-like persistence, uncovered and publicised boatloads of Mr. Cohen’s personal financial details. Audiences wondering where he found all this confidential information will probably have to take a trip back to the left ring and the Great Redaction Race.
In the meantime, new contestants have entered the ring. Mark Penn, writing for The Hill, stunned audiences by asking who was paying Michael Avenatti. Stormy Daniels has acknowledged that it is not she. More to the point, is Michael Avenatti really “an attorney solely representing Stormy Daniels or just using her as cover to wage a political operation”?
That ball is still in play as I write. As Mark Penn notes, it took many months and a court battle before we learned that the infamous Steele Dossier was a) opposition “research” paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and b) that this fact was not revealed to the secret court when the Dossier was adduced as essentially the sole evidence for surreptitiously wiretapping actors associated with the Trump campaign. Who knows how long it will take before we learn the back story of Michael Avenatti’s involvement in the Stormy Daniels Show?
In fact, we are learning some details right now. Michael Avenatti presents himself as an avenger of a wronged woman. How exactly Stormy Daniels has been wronged is unclear, but let that pass. What’s riveting public attention at the moment is Michael Avenatti’s own past.
As The Daily Caller and others have reported, Avenatti’s career is “is littered with lawsuits, jilted business partners and bankruptcy filings.” In response to the negative publicity, Avenatti has issued a denial, saying he “personally doesn’t owe” the companies anything—then threatened to sue The Daily Caller and the individual journalists. He marked his letter “Off the Record,” but since The Daily Caller had not agreed to that provision, they helpfully published it online. The Daily Caller’s president Neil Patel then published an open letter to Avenatti asking him to say ‘specifically what is incorrect’ in the Caller’s reporting. He added, ‘My strong suspicion is we will not hear from you because we know as well as you know that the piece was done well, and we know as well as you know that your note was just an attempt to silence reporting you don’t like.
Game and set to them. The match is still up in the air.