This is not going to be a well written post. It’s a moment in history and I wanted to catch it, like lightning in a bottle.
All weekend, the media told us to expect the first charges to be filed in the Trump Collusion with Russia case, so we speculated. On Saturday, I volunteered some time for the Boys & Girls Club, and nobody mentioned Bob Mueller, but I kept thinking about him. These days, I think of him as our savior, the one who can bring back honesty in government. He’s the guy who can make public officials afraid of getting caught.
My mother left a voicemail message for me.
“Who do you think it will be?”
I called her back.
“It could be Paul Manafort, but this woman on television said probably no, so I don’t know. This article in the Daily Beast said it might be Trump, but it was a longshot. They usually start at the lowest levels and work their way up. Anybody who doesn’t cooperate, they charge.”
I’ve been calling my congressman Ed Royce’s office nearly every day for months now. The crooked interns who answer the phone (they have to be crooked to continue working for a Republican at this point) know my voice. They don’t even ask for my address anymore. Sometimes, my phone calls are more biting than at other times, but they’re always civil and never use cursing.
“You can be a Republican or you can be a patriot,” I once said, “but you can’t be both.”
Most of the time, though, I mention a specific issue. Dana Rohrabacher must not head up a subcommittee because he’s being investigated. Firing James Comey is an impeachable offense. Don’t you dare take away my Obamacare. If I mention a specific issue, it gets tallied and counted. If I just rant, it doesn’t count for as much.
When I think about Trump, I also think about my few friends who remain with the president. Like Tom, who’s a smart guy, but for some reason, buys all that right-wing crap. I try to talk to him about it, but he always brings up something he heard on Fox News that I can’t immediately refute. Then I go off and look it up and what he’s been told is bullshit. It’s amazing that the Republicans can fool so many smart people, but it owes something to other issues, too. They support Trump because they hate abortion, or because they hate homosexuality, or because they want to keep their guns.
Finally, the weekend ended. At midnight on Sunday, I went to sleep thinking, “We’ll get an answer tomorrow.” And this morning when I awoke, there was a barrage of news stories from the East Coast, 440,000 results on Google News for the term Manafort. Turns out that Paul Manafort had been charged with laundering $18 million. He had earned the money in the Ukraine (from Russian fronts), funneled it down to Cyprus (a common money-laundering center), and then not reported it to his tax preparers. Just like Al Capone, they’re getting this guy on his tax omissions.
They had also charged another campaign official, George Papadopoulous, somebody we’d never heard of, for making false statements to the FBI about receiving information from Russia about Hillary Clinton’s emails. He’s part of a cast of previously unknown characters that will now become household names, like John Dean, Chuck Colson, and Jeb Magruder back in the 1970s. Their lives were ruined, and rightly so. This new crop deserves ruined lives, as well.
I called my mother. A disdain of the Trump swamp is what Mom and I have in common these days. It helps our relationship. She mentions Hitler a lot. I mention Stalin and Mao. We chatted for a while about the details, and then I said something that I will remember forever.
“It’s finally starting,” I said.