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Steve Bannon may just be right

The explosive comments attributed to the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump -- and Trump's blistering...

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 9:33 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 9:33 AM

The explosive comments attributed to the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump -- and Trump's blistering response to them -- both capture and continue a level of chaos and infighting that could capsize the administration.

On Wednesday, the President blasted Steve Bannon, saying, "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," after the Guardian reported on scathing quotes from the Breitbart News chief, detailed in a forthcoming book by Michael Wolff, about a Trump Tower meeting during the campaign.

But even more important than the headline-grabbing insults and accusations lobbed by the two men is Bannon's logical, cold-eyed recognition, reflected in his remarks to Wolff, that prosecutors are likely building a powerful legal case based on alleged financial misdeeds of high-level Trump associates.

Much political commentary will now focus on Bannon's scornful words about Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kusher, the Trump campaign officials who attended -- and then dissembled about -- a fateful June 2016 meeting with, among others, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor -- with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers," Bannon reportedly said scornfully to Wolff. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s---, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."

Bannon's comments -- calling the meeting "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" -- clearly contain an element of score-settling against the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The two were antagonists in the early months of the administration, with a feud that attracted widespread commentary by the Washington press corps while Bannon was in the White House and continued even after Bannon resigned.

But beyond Bannon's well-known disdain for Kushner lies a dire prediction about the legal peril faced by the President:

"You realize where this is going," he is quoted as saying. "This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to [President] Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner. ... It's as plain as a hair on your face."

All too true. The Department of Justice order that named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel empowers him to investigate possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections, but it also includes broad language allowing Mueller to prosecute any crimes discovered along the way.

The specific line -- "The Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters" -- is why Manafort is facing 12 counts including conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements and failing to disclose his status as the agent of a foreign government.

Trump partisans often seize on the fact that the charges against Manafort do not specify a direct connection to Russian involvement in the 2016 election. The President himself, in a recent interview, repeated 16 times that the evidence made public so far shows "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.

But Bannon, an ex-banker, is strongly hinting that Mueller's incidental discovery of financial crimes will lead to severe legal problems for Kushner and Donald Jr.

The special prosecutor's path to try to nail President Trump, Bannon reportedly says in Wolff's book, "goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner s---. The Kushner s--- is greasy. They're going to go right through that. They're going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me."

That sounds like a clear reference to the tangled web of tricky real estate deals that both Kushner and Don Jr. have been involved in. The threat of prosecution for financial improprieties, Bannon seems to be saying, could put pressure on Kushner and Don Jr. to become cooperating witnesses in the Russia probe.

It's not clear exactly what matters Bannon was referring to, but he clearly believes Trump Jr. is in for some rough times at the hands of the special prosecutor, predicting to Wolff: "They're going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV."

Of course, Bannon's remarkable, profane candor could all turn out to be hot air. A newcomer to politics, he pulled off the upset of the century by helping Trump -- only to blow an all-but-sure thing when his chosen candidate, Roy Moore, lost the recent special election for Senate in Alabama.

What remains to be seen is whether his cynical insider's take on the legal and political problems of the White House is an accurate description of an administration under siege. "They're sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five" hurricane, Bannon reportedly said.

Things may not turn out as bad for the Trump administration as Bannon predicts. But if he's even half right, it won't be a day at the beach.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 517138

Reported Deaths: 10306
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison35086559
DeSoto33512432
Hinds32826644
Jackson24938392
Rankin22621405
Lee16564245
Madison14986283
Jones14195248
Forrest13865260
Lauderdale12343323
Lowndes11401193
Lamar10715140
Pearl River9762244
Lafayette8898143
Hancock7854132
Washington7562169
Oktibbeha7246138
Monroe7106179
Pontotoc7071110
Warren6915179
Panola6815136
Neshoba6762210
Marshall6751142
Bolivar6484151
Union647099
Alcorn5969108
Pike5953157
Lincoln5550136
George511380
Prentiss511086
Tippah498483
Itawamba4916107
Scott479599
Tate4790118
Adams4789125
Leflore4765144
Copiah458995
Simpson4587117
Yazoo458692
Wayne444372
Covington435895
Sunflower4338106
Marion4313112
Coahoma4263111
Leake414491
Newton396482
Tishomingo390294
Grenada3799109
Stone366466
Attala342290
Jasper341667
Chickasaw320867
Winston319092
Clay314378
Clarke302095
Calhoun289550
Holmes273789
Smith271452
Yalobusha246547
Tallahatchie233153
Greene225549
Walthall222266
Lawrence221142
Perry214656
Amite210657
Webster207248
Noxubee188943
Montgomery182857
Carroll176341
Jefferson Davis175043
Tunica164139
Benton153539
Kemper145641
Choctaw138027
Claiborne134939
Humphreys132639
Franklin127130
Quitman107928
Wilkinson106539
Jefferson97334
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 849409

Reported Deaths: 16199
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1165042004
Mobile744951384
Madison53605739
Shelby38474373
Baldwin38236590
Tuscaloosa36225644
Montgomery34599784
Lee25712264
Calhoun22652520
Morgan22569411
Etowah20084521
Marshall18878318
Houston17806426
St. Clair16987359
Limestone16220222
Cullman16183306
Elmore15967295
Lauderdale15126308
Talladega14275302
DeKalb13099271
Walker12202380
Blount10803193
Autauga10566157
Jackson10237196
Coffee9447192
Colbert9396210
Dale9052192
Tallapoosa7291202
Russell711965
Chilton7101171
Covington6985197
Escambia6972146
Franklin6379108
Chambers5815142
Marion5451132
Dallas5307210
Pike5135109
Clarke485986
Lawrence4857130
Winston4804111
Geneva4658137
Bibb436795
Barbour370880
Butler3446101
Marengo342593
Monroe338666
Randolph338567
Pickens335590
Fayette332785
Henry321566
Cherokee321264
Hale320289
Crenshaw262278
Washington256952
Cleburne255460
Lamar253755
Clay253169
Macon246667
Conecuh193962
Coosa186248
Lowndes178468
Wilcox178338
Bullock152845
Perry141940
Sumter139841
Greene130845
Choctaw94928
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Columbus
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Temperatures return closer to normal for Wednesday with the shower staying south of us for the middle of the week, but rain chances start returning Thursday and could include thunderstorms, some possibly strong by Friday late in the day.
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