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WASHINGTON — On the same day that President Trump recklessly pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran, the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels fired the informational equivalent of a heat-seeking missile at the Trump presidency.

Taken together, these events clarify the nature of what Trump has inflicted on our country.

Trump is regularly described as a “disrupter.” Those who praised him for this believed he would disrupt ways of doing business in Washington that have frustrated the citizenry for decades. The political status quo was so awful, the idea went, that blowing up the system would inevitably be better than keeping it intact.

But we are discovering that Trump is destroying the very aspects of governing that prevent rash mistakes and hold abuses of power in check. Trump chooses to roll the dice on nuclear weapons, and rather than “drain the swamp,” he is on his way toward giving us one of the most corrupt periods in our history.

Of all the decisions Trump has made, abandoning the Iran agreement is the most dangerous and consequential. Trump has slapped our closest European allies in the face and walked away from defined limits on Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons on the empty hope that as the Great Negotiator, he could secure a better deal. In the process, he has brought us significantly closer to war in the Middle East — the very sort of conflict Trump repeatedly said the United States should avoid.

What ties together many of Trump’s choices (the knee-capping of the Affordable Care Act and the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the Iran deal) is a desire to eradicate President Obama’s achievements. Alas, another of Obama’s achievements on his chopping block is the former president’s success in running an administration remarkably free of corruption.

Even before Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, released his explosive chronicle of firms that paid money into a shell company run by Trump’s lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, the president had torn down the guard rails against venality. It began with his refusal to release his tax returns and to separate himself completely from his own enterprises. There have been reports about members of Trump’s family mixing personal business with government business, and some of Trump’s Cabinet members — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt heads the list — seem to take their ethical guidance from the top.

The Avenatti memo, the reliability of which was confirmed by journalists’ inquiries and public statements from some of the entities on it, raises the issue of potential corruption to a new level. And the fact that one of the firms that paid into Cohen’s shell corporation was Columbus Nova brings the money question into direct contact with Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The biggest client of Columbus Nova, which paid about $500,000 to Cohen’s Essential Consultants LLC, is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin. In a statement, Columbus Nova insisted that this consulting fee had nothing to do with Vekselberg, although exactly what Cohen has to offer beyond his relationship with Trump is, to be very polite about it, unclear.

And several corporations with business before the Trump administration also made payments into Cohen’s delightfully named (“Essential” to what?) operation. They included Novartis Investments, a subsidiary of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant; Korea Aerospace Industries; and AT&T. Again, it’s hard to imagine they were bowled over by Cohen’s genius. Perhaps it’s a tribute to entrepreneurship that Essential Consultants, formed on Oct. 17, 2016, to funnel a payoff to Daniels, has enjoyed such rapid growth.

Yes, there is much more to learn here, and we know by now never to assume that any development in this saga can be seen as the beginning of the end. We have no idea yet how this story will end or who, except perhaps for Mueller, will write its conclusion.

But we know enough to conclude that (1) the Russia connection to Trump World runs very deep and Mueller is no doubt exploring its many tributaries; (2) if Trump is profoundly altering Washington, it is to make the most old-fashioned forms of influence peddling more common and more blatant; (3) we need to figure out if any of the money sloshing around has found its way to Trump; and (4) Trump will play as fast and loose with fundamental changes in policy as he does with ethics and the truth.

All four are worrying. The last is also scary.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

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(34) comments

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Who does E.J. Dionne Jr. work for? Who does he REALLY work for?

The Iran deal from the very beginning was bogus. The Iranian deal was NEVER about nuclear disarmament. It was a deal about opening new untapped markets. It was about securing a deep state controlled site. Ask yourself - what US/EU companies immediately closed large deals in Iran post deal? Now, cross check these same companies’ against political and foundation payments, what do you see? Why are people panicking about Iran deal pullout?

Ask yourself, why is UK, France, and Germany so involved? Why the trips to the White house? What are they hiding? Why was John Kerry in Iran? Define bribes; define kickbacks…..

Who controls elected officials: those that line their pockets, hold their controlling secrets, and keep them in power. Iran is now threatening to expose all of those corrupt officials that took bribes and received the kickbacks for this deal. Taxpayers are lining the pockets of these same politicians while they are threatening the safety of the world by giving Iran nukes. The Iran deal was never about worldwide safety and security.

The U1 deal was organized / planned by Bill and Hillary Clinton and carried out by Obama. The money for the U1 deal went into the Clinton Foundation. There was then a $1.7 billion dollar transfer of money to Iran – money that was used to buy the U1 uranium. Not all of that money went to Iran, but stayed in the European Union - why? Define bribes, define kickbacks….

There is proof that U1 uranium was delivered to the Iranians through Syria. Uranium will leave a specific signature that can be traced to the country of origin after detonation. Why was it important for U1 uranium to be sold to Russia? It was to frame Russia for the nuke detonations that were to finalize the 16 year plan to destroy America as founded (Obama 8 + Hillary 8). Think 9-11 on a much larger scale. She was not supposed to lose….

You are about to witness the final phase of the plan to take back America and return it to ‘We the People’. There are currently 28,937 sealed indictments since the end of October 2017. In any normal year there is an average of around 1,000 sealed indictments. SOURCE: PACER.GOV

18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 - TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES
US Code
§ 2381 - Treason
§ 2382 - Misprision of treason
§ 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection
§ 2384 - Seditious conspiracy
§ 2385 - Advocating overthrow of Government
§ 2386 - Registration of certain organizations
§ 2387 - Activities affecting armed forces generally
§ 2388 - Activities affecting armed forces during war
§ 2389 - Recruiting for service against United States
§ 2390 - Enlistment to serve against United States
§ 2391 - Repealed. Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §  330004(13), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2142]

JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED: ARTICLE 3, SECTION 3

Cassandra2

Who does Cohen REALLY work for? Is it the president or the Russian mobsters or the oligarchs of Novartis or AT&T? Who was he selling the presidency to?

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Like a cat chasing the laser....

So focused on distractions while Trump fulfills his agenda. The plan is working.

I wonder if Ron Kind's name is on any of the western Wisconsin district federal indictments? Why does he always vote how Pelosi tells him to vote? Why did he vote against tax cuts for Wisconsin's working families? Was he bribed or somehow compromised?

CLICK HERE: Who is Ron Kind REALLY working for?

[scared]

kingman10

question should be, who does snow job work for? He/she looks more and more like a Russian fake news bot, or a Koch brothers made up troll. Always coming up with these ridiculous articles and far out posts that were handed to him/her from his/her employer. Face book is trying to crack down on this type of fake news stuff, too bad the tribune doesn't do the same.

Cassandra2

I didn't bother with the click-bait from one of the Tribune's most notorious Russian bots.

oldhomey

Isn't there SOMEBODY out there who knows Snow and can get her to see a doctor? This constant talk about "the final phase" is something right out of the fascist handbook.

kingman10

Nope nobody knows snow job because he/she/it doesn't really exist. He/she/it is a troll with no real identity, no soul, no person hood, no intelligence. Many of these trolls come from over seas or from the oligarchs that are trying to misinform public opinion with these types of outrageous blogs. Best to stay away from such trolls. Snow job can't be treated for his/her/its condition, cause there is no real human to be found writing these posts. Much like buggs, it has morphed into an unrecognizable entity no one can quite understand or cares to.

Cassandra2

Who does the Cougar REALLY work for? Just another Russian bot, sent to these pages to sow dissent.

mocha1

And if you really need to get upset with someone over the Russian meddling look no further than Obama, Documents show he knew in Sept 2016 the Russians were messing with the process but did nothing. He most likely was listening to the same liberal media voices that today trumpet collusion. He was so convinced that using federal agencies as political tools he had shifted the election totally to Hillary.

oldhomey

Wow! Are you new2's primary source for disinformation and misinformation, or do you get you material from new2? Or do both of you looks to Snow Cougar for your material? Talk about an atonal, disharmonious echo chamber, you have it echoing all over the place.

Cassandra2

Can you imagine how Mocha and the other wingnut ranters would have screamed if President Obama had released information about Russian meddling prior to the election? They would've been in the echo chamber 24/7 saying that Obama was trying to throw the election to Mrs. Clinton.

new2Lax

This is clearly what you lack in your posts, factual information. You will not get it from MSNBC or CNN. My god, do a little research and these facts will not be so surprising to you. It is amazing to me you can carry on a conversation without facts and I suspect your name calling is substitute for real facts. Look at where we are world wide, there is no denying, we are in a better place, you can’t except that but we are. Look at it from any measure you want, it is a fact. You have seen or heard the list of accomplishments, so I won,t add salt to your wounds, after all we are not communists. Trumps numbers just keep on improving, what can you say and that’s with the media pushing a 93percent negative reporting on The Trumpster. Just amazing.

oldhomey

Yes, new2. Just amazing. We are SO fortunate that we have you monitoring the true facts as they are issued from the White House in tweet form and official public relations communiques. Where ELSE would anybody go to get the truth except from the horse's mouth? By the way, new2, the horse's mouth you are listening to looks to be suspiciously located under the horse's tail.

Cassandra2

I keep waiting for answers from Newt, Mocha, et. al. about whether they really enjoy being lied to every day by Trump or if they're just putting up with it since it is their guy clinging to power.

mocha1

Here is the other fascinating thing about the Russian collusion deal. The same people,media that day after day try to convince you Trump stole the election by colluding with the Russians, voting machines hacked etc,etc, are the ones that told you that Hillary had a 98% chance of winning. So go figure. But hey, if it helps you deal with your Trump Derangement Syndrome, go for it. Meanwhile Trump keeps doing what he was elected to do. Renegotiate NAFTA, fix the screwed up Iranian deal. Get us out of the Paris Climate scam. Depoliticize the EPA, deport illegal criminals, secure the border, Making America Great again one day at a time.

mocha1

The Russian indictments have nothing to do with Trump. Nothing to date shows any coordination with Trump campaign. This was just the Russians trying to influence an election just like they have done before and continue to do in other countries. No different than the US has done for years. The other indictments are not for Russian collusion, some are lying to fbi, like Hillary did, others for foreign dealings or financial issues. Keep hoping though, because the more we keep hearing from the left on these issues, the less believable they are and Trumps popularity keeps rising as he delivers on campaign promise after promise. May even get a Nobel for actually doing something instead of just being a leftist.

mocha1

The FBI used the unsubstantiated fusion gps Russian dossier, paid for by Hillary to get the FISA warrant to spy on Trump.. Emails and texts from FBI agents validate our chief law enforcement agency was working against the Trump election with leaks and then continued the anti trump activities. All documentated. These same agents, the deputy director was just fired , also were in charge of the Hillary investigation. Texts have shown they were concerned about being too hard on here because they were sure she was going to be president and knew her vindictiveness. Brings the whole Hillary investigation into question.

mocha1

Cassandra, check your facts, their are no indictments or guilty pleas of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians to swing the campaign. However their is plenty of evidence of collusion between Hillary, Obama, the FBI,Fusion GPS and the Russians to keep Trump from winning.

oldhomey

mocha, it is absolutely true that Hillary, Obama and Fusion GPS did everything they could to keep Trump from winning. And it was not only legal, it was an effort that was part of our most sacred democratic principles of free elections. However, you will have to produce some facts before you can say that the FBI and Russians actively worked to keep Trump from winning. All indications are that the FBI monitored the election process, as is their sworn duty to protect the nation, and they found that the Russians were tampering with our electoral processes. It remains to be seen if the Russians were doing it expressly to help elect Trump, and if elements of the Trump campaign were working in concert with the Russians. That is what the Mueller investigation is looking into. We will see the results of that investigation eventually, and I am sure that you, as a good American, are eager to see the investigation be allowed to go wherever it needs to go to ferret out the truth of what happened. It has already turned up some malefactors who have pleaded guilty to crimes. Those guilty pleas are the smoke that indicate there is a fire burning somewhere that has to be extinguished. Right?

Cassandra2

Mueller has so far indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups on charges related to meddling in the election. Mueller’s team has either indicted or gotten guilty pleas from 19 people and three companies including four Trump advisors.
So, Mocha, tell me, do you like being lied to all the time or are you just so intent on Trump maintaining his grip on power that you will accept being lied to our of pure greed?

Cassandra2

Please answer the question, Mocha.

Cassandra2

Confronted with the facts about the indictments and guilty pleas, Mocha vanishes. Unsurprising.

mocha1

Actually it was another dem that made a similar deal with the North Koreans, Billy Bob gave NK tons of food and fuel if they promised to not develop a nuclear device. Democrats hailed it as a major achievement. NK took the goods and laughed all the way to a nuke just like Iran is doing. Since when should we care what Russia, China and the leftists in France and Germany think about what we do. Their are all upset because with the deal gone and sanctions on the way they will not be able to profit by selling Iran materials to make a bomb.

mocha1

So if Obama’s Iran deal was so good,why could he not get the votes to make it a treaty. Even top Dems would not support it. What is so good about a deal we pay Iran 150billion, they can develop ballistic misses that can reach any where in the world and still keep all of the nuclear bomb technology they developed, and we had to defend them if attacked even by Israel,what could possibly go wrong with that scenario. Fortunately Obama was was terrible at building any kind of consensus that all of his “achievements” were executive orders that could be undone with the stroke of Trumps pen. The only thing left of his legacy is men can still use women’s bathrooms. Libs are so easily manipulated, all the writer had to do is mention Russia collusion, stormy drumming up lib emotions and then he can tell them black is really white and they are sold no questions asked.

kingman10

right wingnuts like mocha1 are so easily manipulated. Obama couldn't get anything through congress that was controlled by the nut jobs of the repubs. That is why Boener left congress. We didn't pay Iran one dollar in the deal We released their money back to them, it was never "our" money. Get your facts straight, and not fro info wars. If its such a bad deal then why does the rest of the world think we should stay in it. I guess we are going to do with them like NK. Wait until they have ballistic nuclear missiles and then kiss their arse to get a treaty. That makes even less sense. But you info wars types get your opinions straight from the alt media, no wonder you make no sense.

johnnybragatti

Funny how the Trump-"s mentioned the word : collusion, in excess of 1900 times since day uno. That don"t mean nothing?
I always wonder why there was no background check on the orange pulp, like the 10 year , we had at Walgreens and Home Depot. He should"ve been checked out .to the max.
Can you imagine Ex_Laxe"s rap sheet?.

Climatehoax

Ha! What a self important fool. So, EJ knows better than the president? Why would I believe that? It’s just one man’s opinion. Trump is doing GREAT, look at the contrast, obama released over 1000 prisoners to prey on innocent people, Trump on the other hand saved three Americans from N Korea. Which action is better for the good of the country? Businesses are hiring, unemployment at record lows, 401 K’s climbing, respect for our country restored, etc, etc, etc. I wish I could get my dead relatives to vote like the DemoRats do, to ensure another 4 years. Awesone job, Mr. President.

oldhomey

Gosh, Climate is beginning to creep out from under his rock again. Just a couple of days ago this great patriot was telling us how he thinks he conned the system by claiming his Trump tax break savings on his 2017 tax return -- a year before they go into effect -- netting more than $2,000 that isn't his. Somebody needs to flag him to the IRS. So, to make your point here stick, Climate, tell us what these more than 1,000 fiends that Obama set loose on the world have done criminally since they were released? Oh! It is just your opinion that they have created mayhem? Well, you have a right to your opinion, just as Mr. Dionne does, but you don't have a right to your own facts. Perhaps you could point out some cases of dead Democrats voting in 2016. And perhaps you could provide us with some evidence of how awesomely the Trump presidency has improved the financial state for the bulk of the U.S. citizenry? Got some facts, Climate? Come up with them or go back into hiding from the IRS.

kingman10

A perfect spot on column! Now we have a good indication why the investigation into Trump and the connection with the Russians is taking so long. It runs deep with many different players in the mix and lawyers and oligarchs and even adult film stars as the main players. Wouldn't it be rich if Stormy was the catalysts for the downfall of #45's presidency. You can't make this stuff up! Truth is stranger than fiction!

new2Lax

Yes, that would be rich, aren't dreams wonderful. You think for one minute if there was a hint of anything regarding Trump and Russia, it wouldn't have been brought forward, good grief, just look at all the nonsense brought forward already and what has come out, that the Democrats are guilty of conspiring and using
Russian collected material and weapon- zing the DOJ and FBI against an opposition party during an election campaign, that's what we know. Even now, the Russians charged are coming to fight the allegations and it looks like Mueller bit off more than he can prove, the reason for this is Mueller must show all supposed evidence it has, which is very little. Trumps poll numbers just keep rising and it looks like they will continue in that direction. Inspector Generals report that will be released soon should be a big boost to the Trumpster.

kingman10

OH oh new2, you forgot about deflecting everything to be about Hillary and Obama! You are slipping quite a bit. Without mentioning those two your grasping for support for #45 in more incoherent and slip shot than usual. And that takes a lot.

Cassandra2

Newt continues to ignore the indictments and the guilty pleas that are already piling up. Typical.

oldhomey

I agree, kingman, a spot on column. And, new2, there have been a mounting number of hints regarding Trump and Russia, and the Mueller investigation is looking into all of them. Look at all the nonsense that Trump has brought forward with his "draining the swamp" while bringing in the most corrupt line-up of actors in one administration that anybody can remember -- creating a revolving door of appointments and departures. He is not a government lawyer, just Trump's new personal lawyer, but how long do you think he is going to last? You, of all people, who almost certainly was eating up the Russian generated Trump election campaign advertising Russian intelligence launched on conservative social media outlets two years ago. They must have tasted sweet back then, but now that we're seeing them exposed, it has to leave a bitter taste in your mealy mouth. The only polls that count, as you have chortled since 2016, are the election results, so don't count even more chickens that haven't hatched yet.

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