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Discovery (A Musical Interlude)

[ Posted Tuesday, December 4th, 2018 – 19:21 PST ]

Maybe it's the holiday season, but for whatever reason, today while reading the news I had one of those moments of synchronicity, where a song just pops into your head unbidden, grabs ahold of your psyche and refuses to let go. So I thought I'd share it with everyone.

The story I read which caused this to happen was an update on one of the many federal court cases proceeding against President Donald Trump. It was filed by the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia, and it charges Trump and Trump's D.C. hotel (which he has not divested himself of financially) with violating the "emoluments clause" of the Constitution. The update reported that the judge in the case has ruled that the discovery phase will now begin, which will give the attorneys general the power to issue subpoenas to everyone involved, up to and including departments of the federal government.

This is where the earworm attacked. The song is, appropriately, named "Discovery," by Mike Oldfield. It's a rather angry little pop song, which is a bit unusual because Oldfield was not previously known for writing angry little pop songs in the past (if anything, Oldfield was better known for lavish orchestral numbers, the most prominent of which became truly famous as the music for the closing credits of The Exorcist -- but I digress...). In any case, it's actually a pretty decent rock song which covers some favorite teenage themes: angst, frustration, and relationship problems. You can listen to it on YouTube or just follow along with the lyrics:


When you want the score
When you need a helping hand
When you find closed doors
And you're back where you began
Keeping those secrets
Telling those lies
Can anybody tell me what's the big surprise

(Chorus)
Discovery
Who has the chance to know it all
Discovery
Give me some truth, stop making me crawl
Discovery

In fact, the story I read this morning had to be subsequently updated later in the day, as the discovery phase of the emoluments lawsuit officially opened with a barrage of subpoenas. Here's where things now stand:

The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia issued subpoenas for financial records and other documents from as many as 13 of President Trump's private entities Tuesday as part of an ongoing lawsuit alleging that his business violates the Constitution's ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments.

The subpoenas seek details on some of the most closely held secrets of Trump's presidency: Which foreign governments have paid the Trump Organization money? How much? And for what?

All of the documents -- among them marketing materials targeted to foreign embassies, credit card receipts and restaurant reservation logs -- relate to Trump's D.C. hotel, which is at the center of the case because of events foreign governments have held there and the federal lease that allows the business to operate.

. . .

Maryland's [Attorney General] Brian E. Frosh (D) and the District's Karl A. Racine (D) are seeking documents related to the president's company, including the trust that holds his personal assets. They also are trying to view documents from a slew of competing Washington hotels and restaurants. Their goal is to show Trump's property is unfairly siphoning business from competitors, the offices of the two attorneys general announced Tuesday.

Also receiving subpoenas are a number of federal agencies that may have some information about Trump's hotel, which operates in the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue downtown.

At the top of the list is the General Services Administration, which leases the property to Trump's company. In its subpoena to the agency, the attorneys general ask for documents related to the hotel's lease as well as financial records.

Other agencies receiving subpoenas are the Commerce Department, the Defense Department and the Agriculture Department, all of which have reportedly spent money at the hotel, and the Treasury Department, where the Trump Organization donated profits from foreign governments earlier this year.

They're also going to check out the Trump hotel's tax returns, to boot. These aren't Trump's personal taxes, mind you, but still should prove to be interesting reading.

But of course, this isn't the only trial Trump is involved in which has already moved to the discovery phase.

How can you sleep
How can you turn away
Thinking so cheap
Someday you're gonna pay
You're keeping secrets
I can see in your eyes
Can anybody tell me why the big disguise

(Chorus)
Discovery
Who has the chance to know it all
Discovery
Give me some truth, stop making me crawl
Discovery

Of all the many lawsuits filed against Donald Trump, the one filed by Summer Zervos has been one of the quietest, at least in the media. It's a sort of stealth lawsuit, flying under everyone's radar. Perhaps because of this, it has moved along much faster than most of the others. In fact, this trial is already in the discovery phase and has been for months now. Trump has apparently already filed written answers to some of the questions the lawyers for Summer Zervos would like to ask him.

From a Washington Post story from late October:

So far, Zervos's case has overcome multiple efforts by Trump's attorneys to kill or stall it in New York state. Lawyers for Zervos have started gathering pretrial evidence -- including written answers from Trump -- and may get the chance to depose him in the coming months.

. . .

[New York state Supreme Court Justice Jennifer G.] Schecter has also set a deadline of Jan. 31 for the parties to give depositions, which could mean Trump will face questioning under oath in the next four months.

Then, a week later (on Hallowe'en, no less), there was an update -- Trump had agreed to turn over some of his calendars for the period in question.

To refresh everyone's memory, Summer Zervos was a contestant on Trump's television show The Apprentice. She is suing Trump for defamation. Her lawyers are attempting to cast a very wide net, asking for all information concerning the show itself (they've requested the tapes, including footage not aired), as well as Trump's history of dealing with women in general, and in particular how he's regularly made payoffs to women who have accused him of various things in the past (which would show a pattern of behavior). That could all prove to be a real treasure trove of revelations, it's pretty easy to see. And that's before her lawyers sit down to depose Trump under oath and personally ask him about all these subjects, which the judge has ruled needs to take place before the end of January. Trump is already under penalty of perjury for those written answers, and will also be during such a live deposition. And since the field of inquiry is so wide, it's pretty easy to see that Zervos's lawyers would have any number of things to ask Trump about which might unsettle him.

So there's that to look forward to, in other words. And time is running out, since the deposition will happen within the next two months.

Please give me some chance
Give me some confidence
Would you please set me free
Oh, someone deliver me
Who's keeping secrets
I got my spies
Does anybody think we live in Paradise

(Chorus)
Discovery
Who has the chance to know it all
Discovery
Give me some truth, stop making me crawl
Discovery

But that's not the only legal poker in the Trump dumpster fire. There's also a New York case moving forward against Trump and his immediate family, over the revelations which won a Washington Post reporter a Pulitzer Prize -- all the hanky-panky which the Trump Foundation has been up to. In specific, the way Trump as a presidential candidate abused his own foundation's tax-exempt status to make what were blatantly and obviously political donations to help his campaign.

In addition to this, there were also plenty of other illegal mischief the Trump Foundation was apparently up to, from the rather serious (using Trump Foundation money to pay off a legal judgment Trump was personally liable for) to the ridiculously tawdry (the Trump Foundation buying a giant painting of Donald Trump at a charity auction, and then later hanging it in one of Trump's golf resorts).

The foundation likely broke New York state law in doing these things, at least on the face of it. And this one is really going to hit close to home, because it won't just be Trump on the hook for it, it'll be his kids as well. Any or all of them could be deposed, under oath.

As a final note, allow me to point out that not one of these legal problems Trump is currently facing has anything to do with Bob Mueller or his investigation. Or, for that matter, any investigation Democrats may launch once they take control of the House of Representatives. Those are all separate matters entirely.

As the saying goes (the secular version, at any rate), the millstones of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine in the end. Any single one of these cases could provide all sorts of bombshell revelations, now that the court cases have proceeded to the point of Trump being forced to answer them directly. We have not yet seen how Trump will act when faced in person -- and under oath -- by a determined questioner in any of these cases. Any of these depositions will open up Trump to charges of perjury, should he lie about something which is easily disprovable. Whether he can refrain from doing so is what we're all about to discover.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

7 Comments on “Discovery (A Musical Interlude)”

  1. [1] 
    neilm wrote:

    Well, I may stand corrected.

    From the start, 2015, I thought money laundering was Trump's kryptonite, but after reading this column, I need to rethink.

    When money laundering is a plausible #2 problem, the #1 is going to be bad news for somebody.

    Entertaining, but ultimately frivolous, times we live in.

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    The concerning thing about all this is that more than anything else the electorate seems to want to be entertained. Which does not bode well for Democrats in 2020.

  3. [3] 
    TheStig wrote:

    My ear is pretty resistant to the Discovery tune - but Tubular Bells - now that's an earworm!

    What is up with the Model-Mosquito-bomber-on-a-string-dangling-above-a-purple-road thing? Somebody, please, help me out on this! It is a cheesy eye worm I that can't get out of my head. It doesn't relate to the song in any way I can think of.

    Adeline (Alt-J) is probably the most persistent ear worm I have ever experienced. If unfamiliar and curious, you can find it on You Tube, but be warned.

  4. [4] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I don't see how Trump avoids prison other than by shuffling off his mortal coil or fleeing the country. The same can be said for his family.

    This is not a Presidency...it is a crime syndicate.

  5. [5] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    After reading the Flynn sentencing recommendation, it is clear that the FBI’s counterintelligence folks have to believe that Trump is compromised... making him the biggest threat that our nation has ever encountered!

    Flynn would not have asked Russia to back off regarding the new sanctions without Trump telling him to do so. Flynn is a military man and understands the chain of command better than anyone in Trump’s campaign team. Also, Russia would not have backed off on responding to Obama’s sanctions for interfering in the election without assurances that Trump had authorized Flynn’s contacting them. So if the FBI knew that Flynn lied them about Russia and Russia knew he had lied to the FBI, Flynn was compromised! And if Flynn is compromised, Trump would be as well!

    Also, it looks like Flynn never told Pence that he hadn’t talked to the Russians like Pence claimed — meaning that Pence has a lot more to worry about than the fact that he broke a few commandments!

    I am gonna guess that the other case that Flynn helped with was a treason case and Flynn’s intel was the key to obtaining a FISA warrant ordering the removal of the “nuclear football” from Trump’s stubby little hands. I suspect that the DOJ will be suspending it’s policy of not indicting a president in office.

    Buckle up, Xmas may come early this year!!!

  6. [6] 
    Kick wrote:

    TS
    4

    I don't see how Trump avoids prison other than by shuffling off his mortal coil or fleeing the country. The same can be said for his family.

    Yep... or Benedict Donald making a deal with Mueller.

    This is not a Presidency...it is a crime syndicate.

    Yep... and has been for decades.

  7. [7] 
    Kick wrote:

    Russ
    5

    After reading the Flynn sentencing recommendation, it is clear that the FBI’s counterintelligence folks have to believe that Trump is compromised... making him the biggest threat that our nation has ever encountered!

    A modern-day turncoat... Benedict Donald.

    Flynn would not have asked Russia to back off regarding the new sanctions without Trump telling him to do so. Flynn is a military man and understands the chain of command better than anyone in Trump’s campaign team. Also, Russia would not have backed off on responding to Obama’s sanctions for interfering in the election without assurances that Trump had authorized Flynn’s contacting them. So if the FBI knew that Flynn lied them about Russia and Russia knew he had lied to the FBI, Flynn was compromised! And if Flynn is compromised, Trump would be as well!

    All that and so much more.

    Also, it looks like Flynn never told Pence that he hadn’t talked to the Russians like Pence claimed — meaning that Pence has a lot more to worry about than the fact that he broke a few commandments!

    Yes, sir. Flynn didn't have to lie to Pence because Pence already knew Flynn was compromised. Is any of this stuff we discussed long ago in May 2017 sounding familiar ladies and gentlemen?

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2017/05/17/kid-president/#comment-100151

    I suspect that the DOJ will be suspending it’s policy of not indicting a president in office.

    I like the way you think. :)

    Buckle up.

    My buckle is rusted shut already. :)

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