Under Barr’s thumb | On Politics | Chicago Reader

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Under Barr’s thumb

Trump could teach Madigan and Burke a thing or two about corruption.

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As time goes on, it seems more obvious to me that Donald Trump would fit right in with all the regulars of the local Democratic Party.

Not that you’ll hear much about this from our local Democratic-bashing Republicans. No, they’re pretty silent when it comes to Trump’s corruption.

We’ll get to them. Back to Trump and the Dems . . .

For starters, former Governor Blagojevich—aka, Blago—has become one of Trump’s biggest in-state cheerleaders since the president commuted his sentence for conviction and let him out of prison.

And Alderman Ed Burke—who’s facing federal corruption charges—helped Trump save millions in property taxes by appealing the assessment on Trump Tower to the Cook County assessor’s office, which was then headed by Joe Berrios—another Chicago Democrat.

And don’t forget Mayor Rahm. Trump donated $50,000 to Emanuel’s first mayoral campaign. Just in time to have Emanuel—once in office—conveniently look the other way when Trump slapped that big ugly sign on his tower.

Then Rahm acted like a helpless little nobody who couldn’t do anything to force Trump to take it down.

So, yes, plenty of friends among Chicago Democrats. But, it goes deeper than that. Consider the parallels in behavior.

House speaker Madigan’s under investigation because Commonwealth Edison doled out contracts and jobs to some of his cronies.

Madigan says he did nothing wrong. Says he doesn’t dictate who ComEd hires. And points out that ComEd’s rate deals passed with plenty of Republican support. So it’s not like he did anything on ComEd’s behalf.

I think he makes a strong case—I can’t recall the last time Republicans took a strong stand against ComEd, or any big utility company for that matter.

Nonetheless, the Madigan / ComEd connection has Republicans, like state representative Jim Durkin, howling for investigations. But they’re curiously quiet about Trump’s role in the case of TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media platform.

Trump demanded that ByteDance, which owns TikTok, sell the company, on the grounds that it’s a national security threat for a Chinese-owned firm to have so much access to user data.

That’s ironic coming from Trump, who called on Russia to hack into Democratic computers.

It looked like Microsoft might purchase TikTok. But Trump let it be known that he preferred Oracle.

Why not? Larry Ellison—Oracle’s cofounder—is one of the few tech titans with close ties to Trump.

In February, Ellison hosted a fundraiser for Trump at his estate in California. “For $100,000, supporters can join a golf outing and have their photo taken with the president,” according to the Desert Sun newspaper. “For $250,000, contributors get a photo, golf outing, and can participate in a roundtable discussion.”

Oracle’s chief executive—Safra Catz—was on Trump’s transition team.

In August, Labor secretary Eugene Scalia was accused of intervening on Oracle’s behalf to settle a class action job discrimination suit, according to a whistleblower’s complaint.

And in a move straight out of the ComEd playbook, Oracle hired people close to Trump, including a lobbyist named Matt Schlapp whose wife, Mercedes Schlapp, works for Trump’s reelection campaign.

Quick—Jim Durkin, hold an investigation!

Lo and behold, ByteDance recently rejected Microsoft’s offer. “The move leaves Oracle—one of the few Silicon Valley firms to publicly ally with Mr. Trump—as the sole publicly known remaining bidder to TikTok,” as the New York Times puts it.

Funny how that happens.

Wait there’s more . . .

When local Dems get in trouble, they dip into their campaign funds to pay their legal bills. Madigan’s done it—as have Burke and former Alderman Danny Solis.

Compared to Trump, they’re pikers. Since 2015, Trump’s tapped into various campaign accounts to pay about $58 million in legal fees, according to Eric Lipton’s investigation for the New York Times.

A few cases stem from Trump suing former aides (like Omarosa Manigault) for allegedly violating nondisclosure agreements.

I doubt if Attorney General William Barr or any of his lawyers at the Justice Department will be looking into this.

Quite the contrary, the Justice Department recently moved to take over the defense of Trump’s rape trial.

Yes, Trump’s been accused of rape—not that you’ll hear any Republicans talk about it. They only care about sexual harassment if they can use it against Democrats.

  1. Jean Carroll—a journalist and book author—says Trump raped her in the changing room of a department store in New York City.

Trump denied it. Said he didn’t know Carroll. Said she wasn’t his type. Which implies he might have raped her if she were.

Carroll filed a defamation suit against Trump. She says there’s a substance on the dress she was wearing the day Trump raped her. Wants the president to take a DNA test to see if the substance was left by him.

Trump’s racking up legal bills fighting not to take the DNA test. Though you’d think he’d do whatever he could to clear his name if he was innocent of her charges. Funny how these law-and-order types don’t want law and order for themselves.

With the Justice Department’s intervention, you, the taxpayers, would be paying for Trump’s rape defense.

That’s like Madigan tapping Attorney General Kwame Raoul to handle his defense in the ComEd case. Can you imagine the howling from, say, the Tribune, in such a case?

Speaking of the Tribune, John Kass recently conducted an interview with William Barr.

For the benefit of younger readers, Kass is the far-right, MAGA-loving Tribune columnist who routinely savages Madigan, Kim Foxx, and other Dems.

He had a chance to ask Barr about Carroll’s suit, the DNA test, and taxpayers footing the bill for Trump’s rape defense.

Alas, he asked Barr about his favorite steakhouse in Chicago. Apparently, Kass ran out of space before he got to the all-important question of whether Barr favors A.1. or Tabasco.

How embarrassing. To paraphrase the Stones, under Barr’s thumb the “Siamese cat” has become “the sweetest pet in the world.” 

Purr . . .  v

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