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Saturday, 12 October 2019 22:17

Mark Zaid, JFK, and Trump

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Jim DiEugenio discusses Mark Zaid's connection to the whistleblower investigation against Trump and his earlier role in spreading misinformation about the JFK assassination.


A few weeks ago, after the Robert Mueller attempt to impeach President Donald Trump more or less fizzled, the Democrats in Congress stumbled upon a gift horse. After escaping Mueller’s two-year inquiry and the fabrications of British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and his so-called dossier, President Trump was poised to take a victory lap. He could have now shown that Steele had been first paid by his Republican rivals, who wanted to stop his insurgent candidacy for president. When that effort bore little or no fruit, it was then taken over by agents of the Democratic Party acting as stand-ins for the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was further beginning to look like the FBI was out to ensnare President Trump in a net of manufactured “Russian collusion” charges. (Click here for an example)

In fact, Trump had now begun an effort to expose what he thought was a “Deep State plot”. One that was designed to terrorize and smear his presidency from the start—perhaps from before its start. He had entrusted Attorney General William Barr and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to now begin to round up the culprits, whoever they were and wherever the information on them could be attained. If they needed to consult with governments as far away as Australia, so be it.

But in reaction, it appears that Trump overreached himself. Like Richard Nixon, it appears that he played into the hands of those who wished him ill. By his own actions he now gave the likes of Democrat Adam Schiff—who had been reduced to blowhard status by Mueller’s stumbling congressional performance—the means to actually impeach the president. Even that perpetual fence sitter, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, now decided to back Schiff’s latest effort. Perhaps the establishment did not want to see the exposure of their ersatz Russia Gate scandal?

Trump has now endangered his very presidency by giving the Democrats a much more real reason to remove him. By doing so, Pelosi has now given the keys to the kingdom to an attorney who others have thought for years was a part of that rather murky and ill-defined Deep State. His name is Mark Zaid.

But before we get to Mr. Zaid, let us fill in some necessary background to this impending crisis.

What appears to have happened is that Trump made a call—perhaps more than one—to the president of the war-torn country of Ukraine. This happened on July 25, 2019. The call was made to the victorious new president Volodymyr Zelensky to congratulate him on his election in April. But an anonymous official, suspected of being a CIA employee, filed a whistleblower complaint about the call on August 12. Allegedly, the complaint says that although this person was not actually in the room when the call was made, several others were, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The call occurred days after President Trump had delayed hundreds of millions in military aid to Ukraine. Democrats like Schiff argue that this is one of the most compromising aspects of the incident.

The complaint alleges that Trump used the power of his office to try and get Zelensky, the head of a foreign country, to influence the 2020 election. Further, the complaint allegedly says that the officials who heard the call were disturbed by what Trump had said and attempted to “lock down” the actual call and conceal its details. As of today, the actual call and/or verbatim transcript has yet to be released.

What allegedly happened is that Trump urged Zelensky to investigate corruption allegations against former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The idea that Trump had was this: Joe Biden had urged the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, because he was investigating a company which had Hunter on its board of directors. The fact that Joe Biden was, at that time, the front runner in the polls on the Democratic side is not insignificant. The current prosecutor in Ukraine says there was no reason to investigate Hunter, since the real corruption had taken place before he was appointed to the board. It was not being dealt with, which is why Joe Biden wanted the previous prosecutor removed. To most legal experts, soliciting influence from a foreign government to help impact an American election would be an impeachable offense.

There is a back story to all this of course. And it should be sketched in to give the present episode some depth and texture and, also, to add in the usual American brand of hypocrisy. The main reason that Ukraine needs so much military aid is that the USA backed to the hilt the overthrow of the elected president of that country. This was the violent and forceful overthrow of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Although made to look like a homegrown revolution, it was done with much aid by certain elements of the European Union and the USA. That uprising unleashed some ugly and frightening fascist forces that had been dormant on the Ukraine scene since after World War II. Under threat of death, Yanukovych had to flee the country with the aid of President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The overthrow and its aftermath caused the murders of literally scores of innocent people by the neo-Nazi perpetrators, who the American diplomats on the scene were backing completely. The reason for this was that Yanukovych was portrayed as being too close to Russia and American personages, like the infamous Victoria Nuland, favored anyone—and I mean anyone—who was not. The all too accommodating American media decided to play this tune with no questions asked. And for me and others, like the late Robert Parry, this was the real beginning of the anti-Putin mania that would soon engulf our country. There were very few outlets who thought the anti-Putin spin was a slanted view of what was happening. (For an alternative perspective, click here)

During the 2016 election, candidate Donald Trump voiced a different attitude about Russia and Putin. Since Hillary Clinton had been for the Yanukovych coup, she began to attack Trump as being too sympathetic to Putin. Then came the discredited Steele Dossier, which it appears that many in the FBI actually bought into. After Trump was elected, he decided to fire FBI Director James Comey and this gave others who were likeminded in the Bureau and the Justice Department the excuse to appoint a special prosecutor. After two years, Robert Mueller’s probe came up embarrassingly empty. And he made a very weak witness before the (now) Schiff-controlled House committee. The irony in all of this baseless anti-Russia bombast was this: there were many legitimate policy issues the Democrats could have used to go after Donald Trump. For example, his disgraceful tax cut for the rich and his concurrent attempt to give even more money—which we do not have—to the Pentagon. But yet, it is this issue, plus Trump’s attempt to stay out of a war with Syria, which has seemingly enraged people in both parties against him and which tells the reader a lot about the present state of our political system. An almost too perfect example of this is a 2017 tweet by neocon flack Bill Kristol: “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.” That makes it kind of clear.

When the original Mueller missile misfired, Trump made a mistake. As Richard Nixon characterized his missteps during Watergate, “I gave them a sword.”

As people like former CIA officer John Kiriakou and former congressman Norman Solomon have written, if there is a Deep State plot against Trump, it could not have picked a more fascinating antagonist than Mark Zaid. He is the Washington lawyer who is representing two of the anonymous whistle blowers in the case against Trump. Former CIA officer Kiriakou has written that he is surprised that Zaid is still practicing law. John was the former CIA operations officer who alerted the country to the torture process known as waterboarding. For that, and confirming information about who was involved in that torture, he was indicted on five counts. In a ridiculous kangaroo court legal proceeding—described at length in the film Silenced—Kiriakou was forced to plead guilty to one count and he spent over two years in prison, while the actual torturers stayed free. (For a brief summary of his case, click here)

In an interview I did with John, he repeated the information he wrote about in an article at Consortium News. He told me that once he was indicted in 2007, one of the lawyers who briefly represented him was Mark Zaid. He found him to be impetuous and confrontational, so he let him go. Yet, during the grand jury hearings, it was Zaid and the reporter he talked to, a man named Matt Cole, who testified against him. He filed a complaint for the apparently unethical practice of a lawyer testifying against his former client. But since it was filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, it was ignored. (Author’s Interview with Kiriakou, October 6, 2019) The Federalist Society should look to its laurels in stacking certain courts.

In that interview, the former CIA officer told me about another case that Zaid was involved in. That one concerned Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling ended up being convicted for allegedly giving away secrets the CIA had concerning their secret operation to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, codenamed Merlin. As with Kiriakou, the Sterling case could have been brought under the George W. Bush administration. It was not. It proceeded under the Obama administration, which tried more whistleblower cases than all prior administrations combined. In my interview with John, he told me that Zaid was also instrumental in the Sterling case. He referred me to the reporting of Marcy Wheeler who blogs under the title of “emptywheel”. In reading her writings about the Sterling case, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Zaid helped the prosecution center on and ultimately convict Sterling. I can do no better than refer the reader to her essay. You can decide for yourself about who Zaid was representing. (Click here)

The above cases, plus Zaid’s status as the representative of the two whistle blowers against Trump, almost force me to bring up my personal experience with him. Zaid graduated from law school in 1992. Almost instantly he seemed to appear out of nowhere on the JFK scene. He began to attend conferences, occasionally hosting panels. He also began to speak at these affairs. And he became a frequent contributor to what, at that time, was the leading publication in the JFK field, Jerry Rose’s Third Decade.

But almost immediately, I had a problem with Zaid. The reason was simple. I could not find anything he did which in any way advanced the cause. In fact, what I did find was instance after instance where, like Gus Russo, he seemed to advocate positions the other side would take. This seemed bizarre to me. For the simple reason that by 1993, when I had encountered him at least three times, it seemed to me that the case against Oswald had all but evaporated. And with the releases of the Assassination Records Review Board, it would be rendered ridiculous. Yet, here was Mark Zaid screaming at the top of his lungs in Dallas that no one had the credentials to challenge Luis Alvarez on the JFK case. When in fact, everyone had the credentials, since, when he entered that arena, Alvarez simply discarded his ethics. (Click here for proof)

On another panel in Dallas, Zaid argued against the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was any kind of intelligence agent. Again, I found this quite odd. Anyone who had read Philip Melanson’s milestone book about Oswald, Spy Saga, would have to at least consider that idea, as would anyone who had studied the inquiry of Jim Garrison. After all, what kind of communist would Guy Banister give a room to for printing pro-Castro flyers? What kind of Marxist would drive two hours north of New Orleans to the Clinton/Jackson area with David Ferrie and Clay Shaw to stand in line at a voter registration event? Yet, in 1993, there was no doubt to me that Oswald had done those things. (The Assassinations Records Review Board has made the evidence for these events pretty much foolproof.)

And then there was Zaid trying to argue against the eyewitness testimony in Dealey Plaza. The late Larry Harris, a fine man and researcher, had assembled numerous witnesses on the 30th anniversary to stand in the places they were in the Plaza on 11/22/63. This was really a good thing to do, so spectators could question them in person. Zaid went down to the Plaza and, according to more than one witness, he began distributing literature arguing against their testimony.

And finally, there was something Zaid had done to me personally. I had communicated with Zaid, attorney Jim Lesar, and writer Dick Russell on how we should approach the 30th anniversary. He had sent me a letter arguing against any kind of reopening of the JFK case since our side did not have strong enough evidence to do so. I felt he had deliberately misrepresented the strength of our case impeaching the Warren Commission. But even worse, he had informed me by letter that he had shared my ideas with, of all people, Gerald Posner. By this time, everyone—except maybe Zaid and Gus Russo—knew who Posner was and what he was up to. (Click here as to why)

Therefore, in describing all the above—his actions in the Sterling and Kiriakou proceedings and his bizarre behavior on the JFK case—many have wondered about what Zaid actually thinks about the moral act of whistleblowing. (See here for another example)

I do not subscribe to the school that says there is an equivalency between Donald Trump and John F. Kennedy. Although, I should note that in his withdrawal from Syria, Trump did mention Dwight Eisenhower and his Military Industrial Complex speech. (Click here)

But, as an author and commentator, I would be remiss not to note the odd parallel of Mark Zaid’s presence on both scenes. If only for the reason that it is a parallel that you can wager the MSM will never bring up. Just like the MSM will never bring up the possibility that the Biden story is really a cover for real corruption or that the whole Russia Gate episode was a charade. If either of those alternatives are accurate, then one can look at this whole whistleblower episode as a double duty deus ex machina produced to escape the exposure of that pseudo scandal and also to conceal serious problems with the Democratic front runner and his son. For as Jim Hougan has written, Hunter Biden’s life reads like a novel by Robert Stone.

Let me close with this. The notion that Trump is a danger to the status quo is, I think, ludicrous. But if the Trump vs. Deep State advocates are correct, that tells us how much worse—and restrictive—our political scene has become since 1963. The presence of Mark Zaid in the middle of all this is, to say the least, highly suggestive.

Last modified on Monday, 14 October 2019 00:51
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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