Current Affairs Essay

 

History is being created around us and is everywhere if one simply pays attention to his or her surroundings. What we live today will be in tomorrow’s textbooks. For this assignment you will be required to review 3 separate articles from 3 unique sources that will examine a single current event topic. The exact topic is up to you but the article must come from a respectable source (major news outlets, international press, in-print magazine or newspaper.) It can be any present day topic (politics, war, geopolitical, race, economics, etc.) but it may not be anything related to entertainment or pop culture. The topic/articles selected must be serious pieces of journalism. If there is any question about whether an article satisfies the assignment, please get it pre-approved.

Trump Foundation under Investigation for $150,000 Donation from Ukrainian Tycoon
Investigations into the United States President Donald Trump’s association with Russia took a dramatic twist on Tuesday when reports emerged that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was reportedly looking into a $150,000 donation by a Ukrainian business to Trump’s charity foundation in 2015 in return for a video appearance by Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate (Kirby 2018). Even though the existence of the donation to the Trump Foundation was reported after the 2016 presidential election, Mueller’s reported interest in the payment is the latest indication that investigations into Trump’s foreign business ties are going beyond Russia.
While Mueller subpoenaed various documents from the charitable foundation in March this year, it is now emerging that the documents were not only related to Russia (Kirby 2018). Part of the documents show that in September 2015, Ukrainian steel tycoon Victor Pinchuk donated a total sum of $150,000 to the Trump Foundation in exchange for Trump’s appearance in a video conference at a function organized in Kiev that sought to promote ties between Ukraine and Western Countries (Kirby 2018). According to Kirby, the donation was solicited from Pinchuk by President Trump’s personal attorney. The revelations come just a day after federal authorities raided Cohen’s home, office as well as a hotel in an incident that is related to a payment that allegedly to a payment that Cohen allegedly to Stormy Daniels, a porn actress, to keep quiet about an affair with President Trump (Kirby 2018). Although the Monday raid is seemingly unrelated to Mueller investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia, Cohen has not been able to escape scrutiny in Special Counsel Mueller’s probe.
Kirby (2018) further reports that there are a few details about the Pinchuk donation that raises eyebrows. First, the contribution was the single largest payment made to the Trump Foundation in 2015. In addition, the Trump Foundation, to which the payment was made, was the subject of scrutiny for its shady activities during the presidential campaign with documents revealing that approximately a quarter a million dollars of the foundation’s budget was used by Trump in settling his business-related lawsuits (Kirby 2018). The documents also revealed that Trump spent part of the foundation’s funds to purchase a $20,000 portrait of himself. Mueller’s latest investigative thread further brings to the fore the irony of Trump’s infamous rants against Hillary whom he termed as crooked for associating with Pinchuk through the Clinton Foundation (Kirby, 2018).
Responding to the FBI raid on his personal lawyer’s office and home on Monday, President Trump reacted angrily in one of the most vivid public response to the Russian probe, a move that has elicited speculations that he would be contemplating firing special counsel Robert Mueller (Sink & Strohm 2018). Sink and Strohm further say that Trump’s ire and frustrations with Mueller’s relentless probe into Trump’s association with Russia were laid bare in an eight-minute diatribe where Trump lambasted the early Monday raid that targeted his personal attorney Cohen, who is said to be very close to the United States President (Sink & Strohm, 2018). Trump termed the raid as a witch hunt, disgraceful and an attack on the country.
Facing the prospect of being sacked after being singled out by name by President Trump for his role in the probe that would potentially derail Trump’s presidency; Mueller is making strategic moves aimed at preserving the investigation in case the president moves to sack him (Sink & Strohm 2018). As part of the efforts to insulate the probe from possible interferences, the Monday raid was, for instance, conducted under the auspices of the United States attorney in Manhattan and as such, evidence retrieved during the raid is preserved and accessed when needed even if Special Counsel Mueller is fired. Cohen is not the only individual close to Trump that is facing investigations. Paul Manofort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has also been indicted for tax evasion, money laundering and conspiracy (Sink & Strohm 2018).
CNN’s Stephen Collinson, however, warns that there would be dark times ahead following Monday’s raid against Michael Cohen. Collinson says that Trump’s apparent indignation over Mueller’s investigation has reached unprecedented levels (Collinson 2018). Collinson further holds that Trump’s indignation is fed by his sense of persecution by the Department of Justice as well as the FBI, and that going forward; it is becoming increasingly probable that the United States will not be able to escape the maelstrom of Trump’s ire and Mueller’s probe without incurring damage to the country’s civic institutions (Collinson, 2018). Quoting CNN’S senior political analyst David Gergen, Collinson reveals that, although there must have been hugely compelling evidence that would have necessitated the Cohen raid, sources inside the White House indicate that President Trump sees the raid as enough proof that Mueller has completely disregarded the constraints of the original investigations into whether President Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russia (Collinson 2018).
Trump’s anger is further exacerbated by the fact that the FBI raid was conducted after search warrants were issued by a federal judge through a US attorney, Geoffrey Berman, himself appointed by President Trump. According to Collinson, it not unthinkable that Trump would be planning to topple the Justice Department leadership, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. This would then allow Trump to fire Mueller. However, as Collinson admits, Trump would simply be venting his anger which is not out of character with his numerous Twitter rants against the FBI, Mueller’s investigations as well as the integrity of those leading the probe against him. Collinson also quotes a source close to the President saying that Trump’s demeanor would be an indication that he would be planning to undertake drastic actions to extricate himself.
Conclusion
Monday’s raid on Cohen’s office and home, and the revelations that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was scrutinizing documents detailing a $150,000 donation by Ukrainian tycoon Victor Pinchuk would be perilous to Trump’s presidency. The events would also have far-reaching ramifications not only on the probe into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia but also on the leadership of the US Department of Justice. Given the fact that the Trump Foundation has been under investigation in the past for shady practices, I strongly hold that the Mueller probe should be allowed to continue so that the truth behind the donation’s real intention can be established. The Monday raid, although unprecedented in the country’s history, was not an attack on the country as Trump would want everyone to believe. The fact that a federal judge issued search warrants means that the due legal process was followed. It seems from Trump’s subsequent reaction that Cohen is probably the last thread between him and possible evidence of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.

Bibliography
Collinson, Stephen. “Trump lashes out as Cohen raid fuses Russia probe and Stormy case”. CNN.
https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/10/politics/michael-cohen-donald-trump-white-house/index.html (Accessed April 10, 2018).
Kirby, Jen. “Mueller reportedly investigating Ukrainian tycoon’s $150,000 donation to Trump
Foundation”. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2018/4/9/17217756/trump-robert-mueller-ukraine-trump-foundation (Accessed April 10, 2018).
Sink, Justin., & Strohm, Chris. “Expecting to be fired by Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller
moves to preserve his investigation.” National Post. http://nationalpost.com/news/world/expecting-to-be-fired-by-trump-special-counsel-robert-mueller-moves-to-preserve-his-investigation (Accessed April 10, 2018).

 

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