Sunday, July 22, 2018
Editorials

Another voice: Mueller finds alarming signs, and sleazy people, in collusion probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and agents of the Russian government has been remarkably discreet, as it should be. But other sources have leaked three names — Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and Eric Schneiderman — that indicate that Mueller's team is probing very deeply. If there's a smoking gun to be found, Mueller is getting closer to it.

Cohen is Trump's longtime lawyer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization. Sater is a childhood friend of Cohen, a former business associate of Trump, and a onetime government informant with ties to all manner of unsavory people, including Russian oligarchs. Schneiderman, at the opposite end of the probity scale, is New York state's attorney general.

Cohen and Sater are making big blips on Mueller's radar screen, as well as those of congressional committees looking into possible election collusion. Last week, the New York Times reported that Cohen had written an eight-page letter to the House Intelligence Committee vehemently denying allegations that he was a central figure in contacts between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government.

The allegations were made in a controversial dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. That dossier identified Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the man in charge of a Kremlin operation to damage Hillary Clinton's candidacy and promote Trump's.

In January 2016, six months after Trump announced his candidacy, Cohen emailed Peskov asking for his help getting Russian government approvals for a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow. Peskov never replied. Trump had been fully briefed on the Moscow project, but by January 2016 claimed to have no business dealings with Russia.

Sater does have connections in Russia but also has been linked to the Russian mafia, the U.S. mafia, money laundering and al-Qaida. He has served as an informant to the U.S. Justice Department. He also has connections with the Russian oligarchs who helped finance the Trump Soho hotel. Former associates say he met frequently with Donald Trump and traveled with his children.

Schneiderman is reported to be partnering with Mueller's investigation into contacts that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had with entities tied to Putin. If Trump were to pardon Manafort of federal crimes, Manafort might still face state charges — unless he cuts a deal.

The deeper Mueller digs, the more alarming the possibilities become. Even Americans who don't care for this president should be worried about the presidency.

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Editorial: NFL calls wise time-out on disciplining protests

The National Football League kept an embarrassing situation from becoming even worse by shelving its new policy clamping down on players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.The league announced late Thursday it would suspend the 2-month old p...
Published: 07/20/18
Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is shoring up his final year in office with the proposed city budget he released Thursday. The plan includes no big-ticket items, opting instead to maintain ongoing investments in parks, roads and other basic public services....
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18

IRS making ‘dark money’ darker

Under a perverse interpretation of federal law, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to "social welfare" can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead ...
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

The CrossBay Ferry appears headed for another round of rides across Tampa Bay, with local governments pledging one more year of financial support. But as more taxpayer money is steered into this project, it’s important to recognize what purpose the f...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapon permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor h...
Published: 07/18/18
Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

July in Florida. The height of summer tourist season. Rental cars clog the highways and tourists crowd the beaches, motels and all-you-can-eat shrimp joints. Many of our neighbors are off to North Carolina or somewhere cooler. So it’s an awfully inco...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

In one of the most surreal news conferences of our time, President Donald Trump actually stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday and called the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election "a disaster for our coun...
Published: 07/16/18
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18

‘Everybody needed to know what happened’

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of def...
Published: 07/13/18