Would 2018 even be complete without coming full circle to the man who broke the United States Senate, perhaps for good? Under the “leadership” of Kentucky’s long-serving Republican senior Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate has gone from a bulwark against presidential overreach to a rubber stamp for the most asinine ideas of the last century — and on the flip side, gone from “advise and consent” to “obstruct and sabotage” when it comes to laws and legislation that would actually help the country.
Absolutely zero Americans will ever forget the two things that Mitch considers to be his greatest achievements as Senate Majority leader: Preventing Barack Obama from appointing a Supreme Court justice and confirming a known sexual predator and liar to that same high court.
What could possibly have motivated a man who, believe it or not, was once a moderate by any standard, let alone today’s standards, to violate all of his own principles? What drives a man whose primary inspiration for even running for the Senate was Kentucky’s “Great Compromiser” Henry Clay to buckle down and support even the worst proclivities of an out-of-control presidency like Trump’s?
Those magic five letters: M-O-N-E-Y.
Now we know why McConnell has so desperately tried to avoid ever bringing to a vote a piece of legislation that would protect the Robert Mueller investigation, despite massive support for such a bill even inside his own caucus. We know why he’s been so compliant in the Trump era that his entire legislative legacy, once at least respectable, has been erased and replaced with the ball and chain of Trumponomics and the Trump Foreign Policy Doctrine.
Of course, dark money has always been an issue, and with the SCOTUS ruling stemming from Citizens United, most of that doesn’t even have to be declared anymore, shielded by the questionable umbrella of money-as-speech.
But money from Len Blavatnik, the Ukrainian-born business partner of Viktor Vekselberg, who together run the world’s second-largest producer of aluminum, Russia’s RUSAL? That company was founded by Oleg Deripaska, another Russian oligarch who keeps surfacing in discussions of illicit money.
I know all these names sound familiar to you, and it’s because you’ve already read DC Tribune‘s reporting on Senator Lindsey Graham, who got $800,000 from these same sources. From that piece:
Vekselberg is the Russian billionaire who was discovered in May to have been funneling secret payments to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen through the same shell company that Cohen set up to disburse payments to Trump’s mistresses, Essential Consultants. Deripaska is the Putin ally who worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to lobby the United States in efforts that would benefit Putin’s Kremlin. Toward the middle of Manafort’s first trial, it was discovered that Deripaska had loaned him ten million dollars in an unsecured contract.”
So how much did Mitch get? A heck of a lot more than his South Carolina counterpart. From the investigative piece linked here:
Blavatnik contributed a total of $3.5 million to a PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Blavatnik contributed $1.5 million to the GOP Senate Leadership Fund PAC in the name of Access Industries and another $1 million in the name of AI-Altep Holdings during the 2015/2016 election season. And as of September 2017, he had contributed another $1 million through AI–Altep.”
Who knows if Blavatnik has given even more in 2018? That might be a subject for Robert Mueller to look into — and he would have excellent reason to. Because although Blavatnik is a US citizen via naturalization if even one penny of those campaign contributions turned out to be money made through RUSAL — a foreign, state-owned entity — it would be illegal campaign coordination with a hostile foreign power.
Collusion, if you will.
And America knows by now what Robert Mueller is especially good at finding.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr