Donald Trump filed documents with the Federal Ethics Commission last summer that revealed he owed at least $315 mln to 10 entities. This debt, some of which is personally guaranteed by him, was a clear conflict, Judd Legum noted at ThinkProgress.org (1/5). “As president, Trump will be responsible for regulating entities that he also owes money to. Worse, these debts are frequently renegotiated, giving these companies leverage over Trump in the regulatory process.”

The Wall Street Journal, however, revealed (1/5) that Trump’s FEC disclosure was the tip of the iceberg. The FEC required Trump only to report debt from entities he fully controls. The disclosure left out “more than $1.5 bln lent to partnerships that are 30%-owned by him.” That debt has been securitized and is owed to at least 150 financial entities.

These financial institutions include many firms that are under the scrutiny of the federal agencies that Trump will soon control. Wells Fargo, for example, which services over $900 mln in loans connected to Trump, “is currently facing scrutiny from federal regulators surrounding its fraudulent sales practices and other issues.”

Trump is appointing regulators who will be responsible for scrutinizing the bank’s conduct. He chose Jay Clayton, a Wall Street lawyer specializing in mergers, as SEC chair (1/4) with a charge “to undo many regulations which have stifled investment in American businesses,” Trump said.

A press conference that was scheduled to address Trump’s numerous conflict of interest was scheduled for December and then canceled. Another press conference was scheduled for 1/11, although it appears not to be exclusively focused on his business activities.

Thus far, Trump has pledged to retain full ownership over his business empire. His plan to simply hand control over to his sons has been derided as glaringly insufficient. The Office of Government Ethics and other ethics experts have said that the only way for Trump to avoid conflicts is to sell his businesses and place the proceeds in a blind trust.

Instead, Trump is actively soliciting foreign governments to patronize his new Washington, D.C., hotel on property he leases from the federal government. Receiving payments from foreign governments is unconstitutional, and Trump currently receives such payments from many sources. Legal experts from both sides of the aisle believe that, absent full divestment, Trump will violate the Constitution on his first day in office.

REPORT: RUSSIAN MOBSTERS BAILED OUT BANKRUPT TRUMP. Donald Trump has said he has no ties with Russia. “I have nothing to do with Russia,” he said (7/27) indicating he has never met Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. A day earlier, he tweeted “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.”

Trump has not released financial documents, such as tax returns, that would verify those claims. But the Washington Post noted there is strong evidence that Trump’s businesses have received significant funding from Russian investors. Most notably, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., made that very claim at a real estate conference in New York in 2008, saying “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” Donald Trump Jr. added, “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

The Financial Times, in a series of articles in October, examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade — the period after his corporate bankruptcies and cancellation of his bank lines of credit, and found the money to build these projects flowed almost entirely from Russian sources. In other words, human rights lawyer Scott Horton, whose work in the region goes back to defending Soviet dissidents, after his business crashed, Trump was floated and made to appear to operate a successful business enterprise through the infusion of hundreds in millions of cash from dark Russian sources. “He was their man,” Horton wrote.

Mark Sumner wrote at DailyKos.com (1/9) that the story seems fantastic, and the details include business groups acting as a front for Russian intelligence agencies, billionaire mobsters, a vast network of propaganda sources and an American candidate completely under the thumb of the Kremlin.

The FT’s “deep reports” include a focus on Sergei Millian, the head of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the US at the time of Trump Jr.’s “money pouring in from Russia” claim. Millian insisted that his RACC had nothing to do with the Russian government, and was funded by payments from its commercial members. But most of the board members are obscure entities and nearly half of their phone numbers went unanswered when called by FT, which also found no trace of the RACC at the Wall Street address listed on its website.

FT quotes former Russian MP Konstantin Borovoi in tagging the chamber as the type operation that harks back to cold war practices when they were fronts for Soviet agencies.

“The chamber of commerce institutions are the visible part of the agent network … Russia has spent huge amounts of money on this,” Borovoi said.

Millian helped arrange for Trump to visit Moscow in 2007, and had other outings with Trump in the states, including a visit to horse races in Miami. Millian claims that he had the right to market Trump properties in Russia. He told ABC News that the Trump Organization had received “hundreds of millions of dollars” through deals with Russian businessmen.

Despite documents and photos showing Trump with Millian, Trump denied their association during the campaign.

FT also put Trump at the middle of a money laundering scheme, in which his real estate deals reportedly were used to hide not just an infusion of capital from Russia and former Soviet states, but to launder hundreds of millions looted by oligarchs. All Trump had to do was close his eyes to the source of the money, and suddenly empty apartments were going for top dollar, Sumner noted.

The third article digs more deeply into the origins of Bayrock, an LLC in which Trump was a partner and which cut the checks Trump received when apartments were sold. In a 2011 deposition, given in a dispute over a Fort Lauderdale project, Trump said he had “never really understood who owned Bayrock.” Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock finance director, claimed in racketeering lawsuits against his former employer that Bayrock’s backers included “hidden interests in Russia and Kazakhstan.” Bayrock has denied Kriss’s allegations but declined to answer FT’s questions about the source of its funds and its relationship with Victor Khrapunov, a former Kazakh energy minister.

HOUSE GOP REVIVES OLD RULE TO PURGE FEDERAL WORKERS. After outraged constituents flooded congressional phone lines the day after House Republicans made known their plan to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, Republicans backed off that scheme, but they are proceeding with plans to reinstate an old law that allows Congress to cut the salary of individual federal employees to as low as $1.

The Holman Rule, passed Jan. 3 as part of the broader rules package for the 115th Congress, allows individual lawmakers to propose amendments to appropriations bills that request the termination of any government program or the reduction of the annual salary of individual federal employees to as low as $1.

A majority of the House and Senate would still need to approve any such amendment, but the lawmaker behind the resuscitation of the arcane rule said he fully expects it to be put to use.

Critics of the rule’s revival, including Democrats and unions representing federal employees, fear that it gives members of Congress a way to purge individuals or programs that he or she dislikes. That concern is heightened by the Donald Trump transition team’s recent request for the names of Energy Department scientists working on climate change policy. While transition officials later said that inquiry was not authorized, it sparked fears that career bureaucrats could be targeted in an ideological fashion.

The same could be true of the Holman rule, named after the Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876 to get rid of patronage jobs before the federal workforce became nonpolitical and governed by civil service rules. It was rarely used in the modern era and dropped in 1983 by then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-MA).

“It takes the power and authority away from the President’s Cabinet secretaries and administrators to determine how to run agencies, and gives it solely to a member of Congress,” J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told Talking Points Memo on Jan. 6. “It’s a dangerous rule, it’s a reckless rule, and obviously that’s the reason it hasn’t been in existence for 30-plus years. But now it’s been resurfaced I think really to go after federal employees.”

Republicans who supported the rules package insist it is simply an effort to streamline government and give Congress more authority to determine how specific agencies operate.

“All agencies should be held accountable and tested in a manner, and this is an avenue to allow them to do it,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told the Washington Post.

TRUMP CALLS OBAMA ENVOYS HOME. The Trump transition team has demanded that all politically-appointed ambassadors vacate the premises by noon on Inauguration Day, the New York Times reported (1/5).

The mandate — issued “without exceptions,” according to a terse State Department cable sent 12/23/16, threatens to leave the US without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical nations like Germany, Canada and Britain. In the past, administrations of both parties have often granted extensions on a case-by-case basis to allow a handful of ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.

Trump, by contrast, has taken a hard line against leaving any of President Obama’s political appointees in place as he prepares to take office. The directive has upended the personal lives of many ambassadors, who are scrambling to secure living arrangements and acquire visas allowing them to remain in their countries so their children can remain in school, the diplomats said.

Kevin Drum noted at MotherJones.com (1/5), “I have to admit that I’m impressed with the creativity Trump has demonstrated to show he’s a dick. It’s all part of the plan, I suppose. Take every opportunity to demonstrate what a dick you are, and people will think twice before crossing you.”

The Trump transition team also is letting go the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz and his deputy, Madelyn Creedon, when Trump takes office, Ashley Feinberg reported at Gizmodo.com (1/9).

The NNSA is a $12 bln-a-year agency that “maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the US nuclear weapons stockpile.” It’s unclear when the two officials will be replaced.

Traditionally, political appointees of an outgoing presidential administration turn in resignation letters effective on noon of inauguration day (1/20). But appointees in key positions—like the people who make sure our nukes work—are often asked to stay on in their roles until a replacement can be found and confirmed by the Senate, helping ensure a smooth transition and allowing our government to continue functioning. In fact, for the entirety of Obama’s first term and into part of his second, the NNSA Administrator remained a Bush appointee.

Trump, however, appears determined to be free of anyone who was appointed by Obama, regardless of whether or not he has anyone in line for the job. As a source told Feinberg: “It’s a shocking disregard for process and continuity of government.”

Trump’s transition team also has chosen not to use Charles Brotman, who has announced every inauguration since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s in 1957. Brotman, 89, said when he read the email from the Trump transition team he thought he “was going to commit suicide.” He told WJLA he was “heartbroken” and “destroyed” by the decision.

In his place, the Trump team has tapped Steve Ray, a 58, a Washington-based freelance announcer who has worked with Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals and for local radio stations.

WARREN: NO CONFIRMATION HEARINGS UNTIL ETHICS CONCERNS ADDRESSED. As the Senate Republican leadership scheduled confirmation hearings on Trump’s cabinet nominees before many of them have been reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) railed against the process.

“Cabinet officials must put our country’s interests before their own. No [confirmation] hearings should be held until we’re certain that’s the case,” Warren tweeted (1/7).

She responded to a letter from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), which warned that the plan to hold confirmation hearings before the completion of ethics reviews is “of great concern.”

“This is ridiculous,” Warren tweeted, “[Trump’s nominees] can’t drag their feet on ethics paperwork while their Senate friends try to run out the clock.”

Mitch McConnell made similar demands concerning background checks of Obama nominees in 2009, but now he’s rushing through at least nine confirmation hearings in the second week of the session to avoid proper vetting, Kerry Eleveld wrote at DailyKos.com (1/9).

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also criticized the move to accelerate confirmations. “The Office of Government Ethics letter makes crystal-clear that the transition team’s collusion with Senate Republicans to jam through these Cabinet nominees before they’ve been thoroughly vetted is unprecedented,” Schumer said (1/7).

Controversial nominees slated for confirmations include former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of State; Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Trump’s pick for attorney general; and Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for education secretary.

Four of the nine Trump nominees scheduled for hearings starting 1/10 still hadn’t disclosed key financial information to the Office of Government Ethics as of 1/9.

Of the four nominees who had not submitted their ethics paperwork, two of them— Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross and Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos—are billionaires who have never worked in government. The other two nominees who hadn’t submitted financial disclosures are former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, picked to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, chosen to head the Department of Homeland Security. Neither man is nearly as wealthy as Ross or DeVos.

UNDER SESSIONS, DRUG LEGALIZATION, SENTENCING REFORMS GO UP IN SMOKE. Jeff Sessions as US attorney general could seek to shut down marijuana use for recreation as well as medicinal use. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, Alice Miranda Ollstein noted at ThinkProgress (1/9) and hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for smoking, growing, or selling the drug.

Over the past eight years, President Obama has commuted the sentences of hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms— signing more commutations than any other president in history. He encouraged a bipartisan effort in Congress to lower harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders. He expanded the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. His Justice Department opted to leave alone states that decriminalized and legalized marijuana to varying degrees. Under his tenure, eight states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, and nearly 30 states now allow its use in some form.

But Sen. Sessions (R-AL) opposed these steps at every turn, Ollstein noted. Sessions declared last year that “ good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and worked to block Senate efforts to pass drug sentencing reform, which he called a “criminal leniency bill.” He also accused the Obama administration of “playing a dangerous game to advance his political ideology” for commuting the sentences of low-level drug offenders, and called Obama-era drug policy reforms a “tragic mistake.”

The last time he was up for a federal appointment, Sessions’ confirmation hearing revealed that he once said he thought the Ku Klux Klan were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.” This and other incidents from his past tanked his bid to be a federal judge.

If senators confirm Sessions as AG, as they are expected to do, he could enact sweeping drug policy changes without approval from Congress. Because many of President Obama’s reforms consisted of memos and executive actions, they can easily be stripped away.

“He could reinstate the old model of federal prohibition,” explained Sanho Tree, the director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. “Ironically, black market growers would benefit from this.”

Sessions could direct the Justice Department to go after every one who participates in the marijuana industry in states that have legalized the drug. He could order raids of legal marijuana farms and dispensaries, prosecute anyone who rents to or lends money to a pot shop, and even arrest elderly or terminally ill patients who buy prescription weed to ease their suffering.

He could also direct prosecutors to pursue the harshest sentences possible when trying drug offenders, and he could sue states that have voted to legalize.

TRUMP IS STILL LYING. As of Jan. 9, PolitiFact, the independent fact checker run by the Tampa Bay Times and affiliated news organizations around the country, had judged 345 statements by Trump in the past six years and found 70% were either “mostly false” (19%), “false ” (33%) or “Pants on Fire” (18). Only 4% of the examined statements were rated “true.” In the past month, Trump kept up the ratio:

• Trump’s tweet (12/15), “If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?” was judged “Pants on Fire,” as the hacked emails were an issue a month before the election, including in one of the debates.

• After the release of a declassified version of the US intelligence report (1/6) found that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate (Trump’s opponent, Hillary) Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” Trump’s office replied that activities by foreign governments had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of this election.” PolitiFact ruled Trump’s statement “mostly false,” as that there was no basis for that claim in the intelligence report.

PolitiFact found his tweet (1/4) that “Jackie Evancho’s album sales have skyrocketed after announcing her inauguration performance” was true and his tweet (1/3) that “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border” was “mostly true,” but PolitiFact noted that US-made sedans are still way more popular in the US.

For more on PolitiFact’s Trump file, see <http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/>.

OBAMA GOES OUT WITH ECONOMY STILL GROWING. The American economy added 156,000 new jobs in December. The unemployment rate grew a tick to 4.7% as 120,000 people resumed looking for work.

Michael Madowitz, economist at the Center for American Progress, noted that “President Barack Obama leaves the presidency with an impressive gain of 15.5 mln jobs since the employment recovery began in February 2010. The steady tightening of the labor market continues to produce gradually rising wages for workers, with wage growth of 2.9% over the past year. These are extremely important statistics to remember given the flurry of news headlines that resulted from President-elect Donald Trump’s boastful, half-truth tweets about his own job creation efforts. Furthermore, the president-elect is fortunate to inherit an economy that is in far better shape than the one handed to President Obama when he took office eight years ago.”

Kevin Drum at MotherJones.com called the jobs report “sort of a blah showing, with 60,000 people finding new jobs and 120,000 people added to the unemployment rolls. The labor force participation rate stayed steady.

But he noted the good news that hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees went up at an annual rate of slightly more than 4%. “That’s excellent, and suggests that the labor market is starting to firm up. If the Fed doesn’t get too antsy about this, it could mean that 2017 will see some pretty decent wage growth.”

TRUMP CEDES MILLIONS OF CLEAN-ENERGY JOBS TO CHINA. China is preparing to go big on sustainable high-wage employment in the coming decades. Beijing’s newest 5-year energy development plan invests $360 bln in renewable generation by 2020. Of that, $144 bln will go to solar, about $100 bln to wind, $70 bln to hydropower, and the rest to sources like tidal and geothermal power.

The Chinese National Energy Administration said (1/5) the resulting “employment will be more than 13 mln people.”

China is already doing way better than the US in this regard, Joe Romm noted at ThinkProgress (1/5) and President-elect Trump’s commitment to opposing clean energy will not make things any better. As the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported last year, China already has over 40% of all jobs in renewables, globally, with 3.5 mln, while the US ranks third, with 769,000, behind Brazil’s 918,000.

China more than doubled electric car sales in 2016, and Beijing is aiming at a 1,000% sales increase by 2025 — some 3 mln new EVs a year. To achieve that, “it’s offering subsidies that can total 60% of an electric-car’s sticker price,” Bloomberg News reported.

In the US, the fossil fuel industry simply has no sustainable growth model, Romm noted. Advanced batteries could “tip the oil market from growth to contraction earlier than anticipated,” credit rating agency Fitch concluded last year. Bloomberg New Energy Finance told investors to expect the “big crash” in oil by 2028 — and as early as 2023.

Yet, despite the fact that President-elect Trump promised to bring back coal jobs, that goal is simply beyond his power, even if he succeeds in temporarily slowing the explosive growth of clean energy.

The “real war” on coal workers was waged “by the coal industry itself,” Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explained in 2014. “Strip mines and machinery in general have allowed us to produce more coal with very few miners.”

Yet while China understands there’s a relatively short window of time to achieve global leadership in the core carbon-free technologies, Trump promised to kill US climate action while zeroing out federal clean energy funding, Romm noted.

GLOBAL WARMING MADE EVERY STATE RED IN 2016. Last year was the second-hottest year on record for the US (after 2012), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported (1/9). And only 2011 saw more billion-dollar weather disasters.

But what made 2016 unusual was just how widespread the warming was, Joe Romm noted at ThinkProgress. “The breadth of the 2016 warmth is unparalleled in the nation’s climate history,” explained NOAA. “No other year had as many states breaking or close to breaking their warmest annual average temperature.”

Breadth of warming is exactly the kind of signature you’d expect from human-caused climate change, which is driving more and more record temperatures over a larger and larger area, Romm noted. Indeed, as ThinkProgress has reported, 2016 was the hottest year on record globally, crushing the previous record, 2015, which itself crushed the previous record, 2014.

“2016 was an exclamation point, another record warm year in a record warm decade filled with unprecedented, increasingly devastating extreme weather events,” leading climatologist Michael Mann said via email. “It was Mother Nature’s warning to the climate change-denying, incoming Trump administration.”

Global warming comes with real consequences. Last year saw 15 different billion-dollar weather/climate disasters, the second-most in US history after 2011.

California’s current five-year drought, the harshest in 1,200 years, continued during 2016. NOAA reports that “some 100+ million trees have perished and are a public safety hazard.” Studies show climate change made the drought more severe.

Only weeks after the unprecedented three-day August deluge that dumped one to two feet of water on parts of Louisiana, a study directly linked it to global warming. One researcher explained, “The odds of an event like this have increased over the past 100 years by at least 40%— and most likely a doubling.”

Finally, Munich Re, a top reinsurer, recently released an analysis of 2016’s global natural disasters. “A look at the weather-related catastrophes of 2016 shows the potential effects of unchecked climate change,” said Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research Unit. “But there are now many indications that certain events — such as persistent weather systems or storms bringing torrential rain and hail — are more likely to occur in certain regions as a result of climate change.”

PLENTY OF QUESTIONS ABOUT ELECTION RESULTS. Republicans in Congress are little inclined to investigate the role that Russian hacking played in the presidential election, but also unexplained is the discrepancy between computer counted official vote counts and exit polls that suggests major problems with voting machines. Electoral integrity blogger Theodore de Macedo Soares noted (11/10) that exit polls conducted by Edison Research showed Clinton winning four key battleground states (North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida) that she went on to lose in the computerized vote counts. With those states, Clinton would have won the Electoral College with 302 versus 205 for Trump. Clinton also won the national exit poll by 3.2%. [She ended up winning the national popular vote by 2.1%.] Exit polls were conducted in 28 states, de Macedo Soares noted. In 23 states the discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote count favored Trump. In 13 of these states the discrepancies favoring Trump exceeded the margin of error of the state. See <tdmsresearch.com>

CONS WILL SPEND $10M TO BULLY DEM SENS TO CONFIRM TRUMP’S COURT PICK. Groups like the Judicial Crisis Network have already invested something like $7 mln into securing the Supreme Court, but that was just a downpayment, Joan McCarter noted at DailyKos.com (1/9). They now plan to spend at least $10 mln to target Senate Democrats who are up in 2018, hoping to sway them to vote for whatever nominee Donald Trump pitches them.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed that his caucus will oppose high-court nominees that are not “mainstream”—adding that he would “absolutely” try and keep the seat vacant. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate and will need at least eight Democrats to break a filibuster on a Supreme Court nominee.

But Judicial Crisis Network believes it can go around Schumer by concentrating its fire on his members who must win over Trump voters in 2018, Burgess Everett reported at Politico.com. Ten Senate Democrats are up for reelection in Trump states.

“We are preparing to launch the most robust campaign for a Supreme Court nominee in history and we will force vulnerable Senators up for re-election in 2018 like Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill to decide between keeping their Senate seats or following Chuck Schumer’s liberal, obstructionist agenda,” said JCN’s chief counsel Carrie Severino.

JCN is just one player in a larger, multi-faceted effort outside the halls of the Capitol to confirm a new conservative justice, sources planning the strategy said. The push will also include paid advertising, earned media, research and grassroots outreach from JCN and several other prominent conservative groups. JCN’s paid advertising will likely concentrate on Democrats like Donnelly of Indiana, McCaskill of Missouri and Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Jon Tester of Montana, who all hail from states that Trump won overwhelmingly.

“Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), sure they can probably get him,” McCarter noted. “In fact, they aren’t even going to run ads against him. But picking up eight more? To rubber stamp Trump and wreck the Supreme Court for who knows how long? That’s going to be an awfully heavy lift. Particularly since they’d be abandoned by all of the left—the grassroots, donors, interest groups—if they give in.”

DISCOVERED NOTES PROVE NIXON TREASON. Richard M. Nixon always denied that he had sabotaged Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 attempt to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

“Now we know Nixon lied,” John A. Farrell wrote in the New York Times (12/31/16). “A newfound cache of notes left by H.R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to ‘monkey wrench’ the initiative.”

Farrell found the notes in researching a new biography of Nixon, who has been enjoying a bit of a revival recently, as his achievements in foreign policy and landmark domestic legislation he signed into law draw favorable comparisons to the presidents (and president-elect) that followed. “Haldeman’s notes return us to the dark side,” Farrell wrote. “Amid the reappraisals, we must now weigh apparently criminal behavior that, given the human lives at stake and the decade of carnage that followed in Southeast Asia, may be more reprehensible than anything Nixon did in Watergate.”

In a conversation with Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen, the minority leader, Johnson lashed out at Nixon. “I’m reading their hand, Everett,” Johnson told his old friend. “This is treason.”

“I know,” Dirksen said mournfully.

Johnson’s closest aides urged him to unmask Nixon’s actions. But on a Nov. 4, 1968, conference call, they concluded that they could not go public because, among other factors, they lacked the “absolute proof,” as Defense Secretary Clark Clifford put it, of Nixon’s direct involvement.

Nixon was elected president the next day.

The war, which already had claimed 30,000 American lives by October 1968, went on another six years at a cost of more than 28,000 additional American lives.

From The Progressive Populist, February 1, 2017


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