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The Week That Was: Manafort’s Millions, Tribeca Terror And A Buoyant Baker

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, departs Federal District Court, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, departs Federal District Court, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

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Editor's Note: Every Friday, Tom Keane offers up assorted observations, conundra and miscellanea about the week that was. Here's his round-up for the week ending Nov. 3, 2017.


It was the week when the indictments came down. And Washington held its breath.

The lawman cometh. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates for money laundering and tax evasion landed like a bombshell but — because they had nothing to do with the Trump campaign — left the White House feeling pretty happy. Not so with the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, which was all about Russian collusion. But after the Monday revelations, there’s been silence. It’s like being at home at night and hearing a window break. You’re nervously waiting for something to happen, but you know not what or when.

A court artist drawing shows President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, center standing and Manafort's business associate, Rick Gates, in federal court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson. (Dana Verkouteren/AP)
A court artist drawing shows President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, center standing and Manafort's business associate, Rick Gates, in federal court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson. (Dana Verkouteren/AP)

Clearly not a Marshalls shopper. One thing we learned from the Manafort indictment: The guy’s a lousy crook. After funneling money to himself through secret accounts, he then spent it, as the feds put it, on a “lavish lifestyle.” Clothing: $1.37 million. Four new cars: $273,000. Rugs: $1 million. A SoHo condo: $2.8 million. Home improvements: $5.4 million. Landscaping: $656,000. Antiques: $623,000. Doesn’t this guy ever watch TV? The first rule with ill-gotten gains is not to be ostentatious in spending it. Otherwise, the cops figure out it’s you. Which, I guess, they did.

History lesson. White House chief of staff John Kelly said on a news show that “the lack of ability to compromise caused the Civil War.” Oh geez. Really, John? The exact opposite is true: It was compromise — the Three-Fifths version embodied in the Constitution — that ultimately caused the war. Kelly is certainly right that for most things political, compromise is a good way to make policy, be it education, taxes, welfare, immigration and a host of other topics. But when it comes to human rights, the choices are binary. Either someone is entitled to human rights or not. There’s no middle ground.

White House chief of staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on tax policy with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)
White House chief of staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on tax policy with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Big Apple ISIS. On Halloween, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer killed eight and injured a dozen when he drove a rental truck down a Manhattan walkway. Oh wait, sorry. It was Donald Trump who made this claim, blaming Schumer for the terrorist attack under the convoluted logic that because the senator was one of the majority of Congress that passed legislation allowing immigrants into the country, it was his fault one of those who came in became radicalized. Look. Every year 50,000 enter as part of the Diversity Visa Lottery. They’re vetted just like every other entrant. A few do bad things. Most, I’ll bet, do good things. Albanian immigrant Olsi Vrapi, for example, became a lawyer and owns his own firm. Schumer is no more responsible for Vrapi’s success than he is for Sayfullo Saipov’s evil.

Bracketology. After days of dithering, GOP House leaders finally released details of their tax reform plan. The proposed legislation highlights once again the irrelevance of the president; the White House had little to do with its crafting. Still, if it gets to his desk, Trump will doubtless claim credit. If. Proposing something is the easy thing. Getting it passed is far harder. As with healthcare, members of Congress will find there are a lot of folks with an interest in keeping the status quo. Those with a mortgage, for example.

Love me do. Public opinion firm Morning Consult reported that, yet again, Charlie Baker is the most popular governor in the nation. Fully 69 percent of Massachusetts voters approve of the job Baker is doing, which certainly must delight his re-election team. And a scary note for Democrats: All of the top 10 governors are Republicans. On the other hand, 8 of the 10 least popular are also Republicans. So maybe an “R” after your name doesn’t automatically mean you can do the job.

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to the media during an August 2017 press conference. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to the media during an August 2017 press conference. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Diversion. Remember the White House told us in the immediate aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings that now wasn’t the time to talk about gun control? OK, so how about now? Nope. Sorry. Now is the time to talk about immigration and tax reform. Indeed, discussion of even simple gun regulations — such as a ban on bump stocks — has largely disappeared. Turns out we should have talked about gun control when we had a chance. Sadly, there’s little doubt that someday soon we’ll have that chance again.

It’s no Santarpio’sPizza chain Papa John’s blamed the on-going knee-taking protests at the NFL for a fall in sales. That’s one way to look at it. The other is that football-obsessed fans were willing to buy or consume pretty much anything associated with the League. Once their obsession wore off, they realized the stuff they were eating was one step away from cardboard.

Fake science. And finally, October ended as the second-warmest October on record in Boston. Only second! See, that global warming thing really is a myth.

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Tom Keane Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Tom Keane is a Boston-based writer.

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