Democrat Ralph Northam won, and rather more handily than I would have thought possible. So why did I forecast a Gillespie victory ? Because I always predict that the person I don't like will win. In the grand casino of politics, you need a betting strategy, and my strategy is cynicism.
It's not a foolproof tactic, but it often works. I also predicted a Trump victory.
Flynn the abductor.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey is a reliable reactionary, so we were all a little stunned when, not long before the election, he suddenly decided to quit Team Trump. Eventually we learned the reason: Woolsey says that he witnessed Michael Flynn (Trump's former national security adviser) discuss the commission of a serious crime.
During election season, Flynn was not just a Trump adviser -- he also secretly functioned as an agent of Turkish government. He even published a rabidly pro-Erodgan editorial on election day.
The Turkish strongman fears and despises one man above all others: An exiled cleric named Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania yet commands an impressive following in his homeland. The Gulen movement inspired a coup against Erdogan in July of 2016.
Erdogan wants Gulen extradited. Flynn's editorial supported that goal. But his support went further than that
On September 19, 2016, Woolsey attended a meeting with Flynn. Woolsey says that he saw Flynn discuss a kidnapping.
Woolsey told the Journal that the idea was "a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away."
"This guy" was, of course, Gulen. Flynn, through his lawyers, denies that any such plot was afoot.
(Does Woolsey have a motive for lying about such a thing? I strongly doubt it. I may not like Woolsey, but I can't see why he'd fib about this
Woolsey, we are told, was so bothered by what he heard that he quit the Trump effort and reported on the alleged kidnapping plot to none other than Joe Biden. If I understand the sequence of events correctly, Biden brought the matter to the attention of the FBI. Thus, my first question: Why haven't we heard confirmation directly from Biden?
Let's add a little moral complexity to this storyline:
Reuters, citing three people familiar with the matter, reported Thursday that Woolsey and his wife, Nancye Miller, pitched a $10 million contract to two Turkish businessmen to help discredit Gülen while Woolsey was an adviser to Donald Trump's election campaign.
Woolsey was fine
with a smear campaign, but he drew the line at kidnapping. That's how right-wing politics work these days: Whitewaters are okay, but Dealey Plazas are out.
We now know that Woolsey is working with Robert Mueller's investigation. We also know that Mueller thinks he has enough to file charges against Flynn. Many people think that Flynn has already been indicted. It seems fair to suggest that the alleged kidnapping plot will be mentioned in the indictment.
Here's my big question: Is Woolsey's testimony -- unsupported by other evidence -- sufficient for a conviction?
Imagine the tableau: A courtroom showdown in which a former CIA Director accuses a former DIA Director of plotting an abduction. It's cheesy, it's sleazy, and it'll make everyone uneasy. Yet such a thing is possible.
I have another big question. Are there "unpardonable" crimes in the Era of Trump? In preceding posts, I've repeatedly hammered home the point that Trump is shameless enough to pardon anyone of anything, if he sees no other to save his capacious hindquarters. It's pretty obvious that Manafort's lawyer is angling for the Big P. But there are three crimes which -- in my estimation -- are particularly difficult for Trump to pardon: Rape, kidnapping and murder. Even Paul Ryan might feel compelled to shout: "That's it. Show's over. We're ringing down the curtain."
So let's say the kidnapping charge falls into the "unpardonable" category. Will Flynn then cut a deal? Will he rat out Trump?
On a very related note:
Last night, the District of Columbia docket
included twenty-one sealed indictments against a (presumably) smaller number of individuals. I don't know if Mueller is the one behind these indictments, but there are worse ways to bet.