Lots To Like About Adriatico’s Pizza in Cincinnati

As a life long devotee of attending live music events, it’s helpful to know a few spots in whatever town one is visiting that stays open late, especially on weekdays, to nourish the fatigued and impaired. I look at it as self-preservation, particularly if a drive home comes next.

For a variety of reasons Cincinnati books more of the rambunctious alternative rock acts popular with the college set and yours truly than can be found in Lexington and Louisville. That has me in the car 90 minutes each way to catch a show. On the way up mini-cheese coneys from Skyline Chili are a solid pre-game favorite upon reaching the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. On the way home lately I’ve been giving Adriatico’s repeat business. It’s a late night pizzeria and sports bar, located on the edge of the University of Cincinnati campus that offers New York style pizza, dripping with cheese and heavy on the toppings.

The beer selection in a joint like this is serious business as one might expect in a heritage hops city like The ‘Nati. Check the selection board that is written out in colored chalk for daily availability. There is a broad assortment of I.P.A.s, pale ales, stouts, lagers and other beer-related consumables. Or take a run at one of their draft blends, such as Black & Blue Moon (Guinness & Blue Moon), Black Apple (Guinness & Original Sin Cider) or Black Barrel (Guinness & Kentucky Bourbon Ale).

Glasses come in 10 oz, 16 oz and 23 oz sizes or refill a growler to go. That my friends is 64 ounces of golden deliciousness for between $10-$20 on most offerings. I will advise, watch for potency my friends. It’s not by accident the alcohol percentage is listed for each. There are few offerings like Miller Lite that contain 4.2 percent alcohol. The majority are between 6 to 8 percent, with a few like Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA coming in at 9 percent.

I recommend starting out with an order of the Parmesan breadsticks. The dough is braided before baking, creating all sorts of nooks and crannies where garlic butter and Parmesan get embedded. About the time you stop unconsciously inhaling these fresh out of the oven teasers, the pizza will come swooping down as a waiter places an elevated stand on the table to land the pie upon.

You can’t go wrong with either the Sicilian or hand tossed (thin). Both are fantastic. This is exceptional drunk pizza, with all the cheese, oversized toppings and a garlic essence baked into the crust. It will heal what ails you. But order wisely, especially if first getting breadsticks, wings or loaded tots, because the Sicilian in particular can take down a monstrous appetite in a surprising couple of pieces. It’s delicious but densely constructed.

Pizzas can be ordered in 8″ personals, 12″ medium, or large, which if round is 16″ or 18″ x 13″ squared off. For a gathering of 10 to 12, give the Bearcat a try. This behemoth is in the HUGE category, 18″ x 24″ for Sicilian only. It starts at $33.99. Looking for a hearty bargain, try Adriatico’s ‘Inflation Fighter, get nine toppings for the price of five!

Next time late night edibility options become critical in Cincy, drop past Adriatico’s and see why Cincinnati Magazine voted it Best Pizza, and CityBeat kept it at the top of its favored non-chain pizzerias for 12 years running. They’re cooking up something right at Adriatico’s, and they’ve been doing it for more than 40 years.

Adriatico’s | 113 West McMillan Avenue | Cincinnati, OH | 513.281.4344

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Greta Van Fleet Puts Rock Back In Modern Music

A few months back I received a text from a friend of mine urging I check out the band Greta Van Fleet. I shrugged it off, thinking this was another recording by some beleaguered teen, reclusively cloistered away in his or her upscale suburban bedroom that happened to artificially manufacture a hit through their computer’s GarageBand app. I was mistaken.

Knowing my friend’s taste, I pulled up “From the Fires” on iTunes and hit sample all. The song making an initial splash was “Highway Tune.” It’s a nasty, guitar driven metaphor about knocking boots with the singer’s midnight honey.

“No stopping’ on the highway girl ~ cause I wanna burn my gas / There’s one girl that I know ~ I’m never gonna pass / She is my special ~ She is my special ~ She is my midnight…midnight yeah!”

My immediate impression was these kids sound an awful lot like Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin from say 1969. The pitch, howl, moaning and beat is all very familiar – almost too familiar. Terms like “Baby Zep” are routinely thrown around to describe Greta Van Fleet. That can be a good thing or problematic. For those who dig on 1970s era acid rock, it’s likely this band will hit your sweet spot.

GRETA VAN FLEET – EDGE OF DARKNESS (LIVE FROM LINCOLN HALL)

What this recording did for me was highlight how big a shift there has been in the musical landscape over the past 20 years. Straight up rock-n-roll is dead. Sure there is Jack White, the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket, and Queens of the Stone Age, but it’s sparse at best.

I consume a considerable amount of current music, but most I purchase by individual song after scouting new bands, then assemble it into mixes or playlists on digital devices. There is quality rock-n-roll out there but it comes begrudgingly, a single song at a time or maybe another couple if a band has a remotely respectable second release.

With our culture so disposable these days it can’t help but spill over and be reflected in today’s music. I find it no coincidence that hip hop and rap are the prominent driving forces at the top of the music food chain. This genre is joined in popularity by schlocky pop artists that exist through all eras, and by DJs that pump computer driven Electronic Dance Music (EDM), including its spinoff genre of ambient trance electronica. EDM, hip hop and pop are co-dependents, often combining forces into powerful club remixes that can melt a room, especially in a live setting, but it’s of the moment music, that becomes quickly dated and thus disposable.

This makes a band like Greta Van Fleet stand out even more. I seriously didn’t want to like them, but found myself replaying all the sample tracks until they were looping around in my head. This actually got me to jump in my car and make a dedicated trip to CD Central in Lexington to buy a copy of their double EP, a bargain at $6.95. Upon several full listenings to the eight tracks, lasting a quick 32:15, there isn’t a toss away song on the disc, and several deeper cuts exhibit greater depth and complexity  than “Highway Tune” or “Safari Song.”

GRETA VAN FLEET – TALKING ON THE STREET (LIVE IN DETROIT)

From left: Danny Wagner on drums, Sam Kiszka on bass, Jake Kiszka on guitar and Josh Kiszka on vocals.

The band consists of three brothers, singer Josh Kiszka, guitarist Jake Kiszka, bassist Sam Kiszka, and their buddy Danny Wagner on drums. These Michigan kids didn’t set out to imitate Zeppelin, in fact being twins Josh and Jake are only 22, and the other two 19, none of them knew who Led Zeppelin was until rather recently.

Their youth is obvious, but it’s the ease with which Josh Kiszka can unleash his vocal range and pitch that opened my eyes. The other impressive aspect to this recording is the precise nature with which they craft these songs, and nail the chord changes and multiple in-song transitions.

Now the fun starts for Greta Van Fleet. “From the Fires” came out in Nov. 2017. They started their current tour with modest notoriety. Since then Robert Plant has given this young band his blessing and their tour stops are selling out around the world.

This scenario reminds me of when the Australian band Wolfmother debuted in 2005. They too had a retro feel reminiscent of Zeppelin’s sound and penchant for science fiction-based song writing. Fame hit hard by the time they were playing the big festivals the following year, but personnel changes quickly followed, derailing their trajectory.

We’ve seen a couple current examples of authentic throw-backs work out quite well in the modern country music scene as Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton have become unlikely vintage heroes, harking back to the days of George Jones, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard.

Greta Van Fleet has crafted itself a big shadow to fill, being the next Led Zeppelin and savior of rock-n-roll. No pressure boys. I’ll save us all the suspense. They are not the next Led Zeppelin, and they shouldn’t try to be. But they are an accomplished new group that hopefully can keep its head and make some prolonged noise in the music world.

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Late Night Burgers at Tolly-Ho in Lexington

Never underestimate the compelling nature of a great dive cheeseburger joint. Just ask the folks at Tolly-Ho, a late-night Lexington institution for University of Kentucky students and burger aficionados, tucked away near campus in a former dry cleaners at 606 S. Broadway.

Day in and day out this 24/7 restaurant churns out big breakfasts, oversized sandwiches and its signature Ho Burgers with reliable authenticity, keeping customers coming back for more.

It was 1985, when as a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University, my dorm-mates and I would drive the 40 minutes north from Richmond to buy cheap vinyl records at Cut Corner, over by UK where Tolly-Ho was. It didn’t hurt that the beer was cold, but inside was filled with a special mix of characters, ambience and the wafting fragrance of sizzling cow.

The restaurant sat at 395 South Limestone for about 25 years, having originally resided on nearby Euclid. There is an adequate display of UK blue on the interior that meshes warmly with the Formica table-tops, still damp from a fresh wipe. A distinctive row of engraved wood fraternity and sorority pledge paddles dangles above the ‘order up’ window.

Glance right and follow the pinball echo to the opposite wall by the arcade games. Ms. Pacman, Donkey Kong and Galaga – all the old stuff. Anyone feeling off-kilter may step down past the ‘pick-up order line,’ and visit the Ho Mart. Here a full-service convenience stand is bathed in blue by the Wildcat neon, where customers can get cigarettes, lighters, pain relievers and a mess of other aids to help the afflicted. Minus the cure for a broken heart of course.

It’s no small feat to happen upon an out of the ordinary cheeseburger. It may not sound difficult, but simple is hard. It makes location and time of day disappear. No hurdle is too great. Sacrifices will be made to secure these endangered species. Age no longer matters. It becomes about the quest to obtain. Many of these other greasy spoons, lunch counters and fast food chains – fail to ever rise to notability. The vast majority cut away quality, originality and flavor off the top, never needing to apply for competition again.

Like anything down South, time moves slowly. It’s breath is precious especially when establishing one’s reputation. Like a fine bourbon whiskey, a restaurant ages into a reliable guarantee. Whether at college, working third shift or cops on overnights. They are all in here, with the horsemen, jockeys, farmers and power brokers. They start bringing their kids too. That’s tradition, just like those boys who play at Rupp Arena a few blocks over, representing the storied Blue-and-White.

It may just be cheeseburgers, but a good one can change around your whole night. Besides, we’re talking Ho Burgers now, their specialty. These substantial 1/4 pound hamburger patties come with lettuce, onion, and a secret sauce, all pressed between a soft sesame seed bun. I personally am a huge fan of the Super Ho, a 1/2 pound double with cheddar cheese and bacon. Absolutely order a side of the cheddar tots. It will make everything right as rain.

I hear myth of a Mega Ho. Three-quarters pound of stacked meat. I haven’t had the courage to inquire. Something must have gone terribly wrong if eating such a creation sounds reasonable.

The chili is homemade and a perfect consistency to accompany fries with cheese, or take it solo. If breakfast sounds good never fear. The Ho got you covered all day. Order one of the huge pancakes with chocolate chips and try not to smile.

Doesn’t matter if it’s your first try or back again so soon, the friendly folks at the Tolly-Ho are waiting. Do yourself a favor and take them up on their invitation.

TOLLY-HO | 606 S. Broadway | Lexington, KY | 859.253.2007

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Trump Attorney Cohen Reveals Fox’s Sean Hannity is Client

Trump attorney Michael Cohen at court.

Monday President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, revealed in court his mystery third client was Fox News host Sean Hannity. What a coincidence! How curious that Mr. Hannity publicly weighed in against the executed search warrant on Cohen’s office, home and hotel room, but neglected to inform his audience that he shared a legal relationship with Cohen.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood compelled Cohen’s appearance and to reveal this mystery party after court documents alluded to Cohen representing three primary clients that fell under the protective umbrella of attorney/client privilege.

Cohen’s attorney verbally disclosed Hannity as Cohen’s third client. Judge Wood also denied the request to prevent the prosecution from viewing the seized documents from Cohen’s properties, instead allowing Cohen and Trump’s attorneys the right to review the seized discovery for purposes of identifying information possibly excludable under attorney/client privilege.

Stormy Daniels giving remarks after the hearing yesterday in New York.

It’s worth reviewing the identities of these three Cohen clients. President Trump, who Cohen served by paying $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about a consensual affair she had with Trump. Ms. Daniels was in the courtroom yesterday and responded righteously to the prospect of Trump and his associates being forced to come clean about their behavior.

Cohen’s second client was identified as Elliot Broidy, who Cohen facilitated a $1.6 million payment to a Playboy model on Broidy’s behalf. This young woman became pregnant as a result of her relationship with the former deputy chair of the RNC, a position Broidy resigned Friday after news of this payment went public. Broidy acknowledged this relationship and his financial assistance to the woman during the period when she terminated her pregnancy.

It seems Cohen’s specialty is forcing women into signing non-disclosure agreements and funneling them hush money to keep sexual affairs being had by powerful married men secret. This begs the question, does Hannity have something similar in common with Cohen’s other two clients?

Prosecutors last week said in a court filing they’ve been investigating criminal conduct by Cohen for months, centering on his personal business dealings and payments made to keep women silent about affairs involving Trump. The search warrant authorizing the raids indicated prosecutors were looking into potential violations of bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.

Hannity stated on his radio show that he never retained Cohen in the traditional sense, but had known Michael for years and merely asked him some real estate questions. Interestingly, Cohen doesn’t practice real estate law.

More likely there is some document or recording involving Sean Hannity that both the president and Cohen feel is damaging enough to justify waging this high-wire legal battle over Hannity being a client in hopes of precluding the seized information from going public. I’m thinking this will get contentious with Judge Wood and Trump’s attorney if there isn’t even agreement about Hannity actually being a client. Should this beak the wrong way for Cohen, he may be the next contestant to win an indictment.

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Small Hands, Corrupt Intentions Asserted in New Comey Book

Then FBI Director James Comey (right), shaking hands with the new president.

In case you missed it, Donald Trump’s best buddy, Lyin’ Jim Comey, has a painfully candid new memoir hitting the bookshelves this week. This is the first book written by anyone holding high office that was unfortunate enough to work under the transition from President Obama to the current Angry Cheeto now barricaded inside the Oval Office.

Comey is a polarizing figure in this bizarre espionage thriller unfolding in real time involving the Trump campaign and the Russian interference with the 2016 elections. For understandable yet puzzling reasons both the Obama administration and Comey felt it better not to highlight evidence of Russian meddling nor that candidate Trump was under a parallel investigation for his campaign’s contact with Russian operatives.

Supposedly this was because Hillary Clinton appeared poised to win regardless and neither Obama or Comey wanted any indication that sitting powers were attempting to influence the outcome. In retrospect it’s now considered by many that Comey’s peculiar decision to publicly announce the reopening of the investigation into Clinton’s emails mere days before the election was a decisive factor in Trump’s victory.

With this as the backdrop Comey penned “A Higher Loyalty,” aimed at setting the record straight after his controversial firing. The overarching takeaway is that Trump is a corrupt individual to his core, morally bankrupt, and incapable of telling the truth about even the most mundane items.

In “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey writes that the president is “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.” He compares Trump to the mob bosses he use to prosecute.

This is interesting when considering Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigation is compared to previous government inquiries into the prosecution of drug cartels and organized crime families. Just last week federal agents were issued search warrants through the Justice Department and the courts to raid the office, home and hotel room of Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put organization above morality and above the truth,” Comey wrote in describing Trump.

Ultimately this comes down to integrity, to credibility, in terms of whether Comey’s version of events are believed or the alternate reality of Donald Trump. By all accounts Jim Comey was a dedicated civil servant that strived and achieved keeping America safer.

That can’t be said for Trump. It’s hard to even find a Republican that will defend the president’s behavior. It’s all porn stars, playboy models, golden showers, sexual assault allegations, collusion with Russians, fathering illegitimate children with employees, ripping off business partners, declaring bankruptcy and a whole lot of legal battles.

I stand whole heartedly with James Comey when he writes, “What is happening now is not normal. It is not fake news. It is not okay.”

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Hike Up Berea’s Pinnacles Closes Out Spring Break

From left: Essie, Jacy, Gabriel, Llama and Bella.

This weekend marked the final days of what was a three-week spring break for students in the Frankfort Independent School District. With questionable weather most of the break there was lots of gaming, binging on questionable television programming, staying up into the AM hours and waking up late. Finally with warm temps Friday and no rain, I packed a few necessities and herded my two boys, their sister and our stubby-legged dog Essie into the car around 4:30 PM for a drive south to Berea to hike.

Being the boys are in their early teens and Isabella is 6, they don’t come to agreement on much, but once I get them unplugged from digital devices they are cool with gearing up for an adventure. We made one pit-stop to see my dad, who is having some health issues, and currently spending 20 days at a residential rehab facility in Lexington. We stopped by for about an hour to say hello and let pop see my intrepid hikers before they entered the forest.

Lexington is 30 miles south of Frankfort. We zipped there on I-64 East, then backtracked a smidge to catch I-75 South after departing my dad’s place. It was another 40 minutes to reach Exit 76 in Berea. This quaint mountain town in Madison County is home to Berea College, Boone Tavern and recognized globally for its pottery-makers and woodcrafting. Take Highway 21 East into Berea, past the business district and college, continuing on out-of-town 3-miles.

Look for the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center on the left. It sits at the far end of the parking lot where the East and West Pinnacle trailheads are accessed. For GPS, the address is 2047 Big Hill Road in Berea.

The Pinnacles are rated moderate and dog friendly, perfect for Essie’s first foray into hiking. She is a terrier/hound mix, perhaps Jack Russell and Beagle. While not big Essie is a plucky sort.

Slinging a soft-sided cooler over my shoulder, we began venturing up to Buzzard’s Roost at just after 7PM. It starts flat past the Indian Fort Theater, then there’s a bit of a climb until it plateaus after reaching the directional marker midway up. This offers a respite until the last quarter-mile when there’s some trail climbing before topping out.

We saw plenty of folks coming down the mountain, many with dogs. Essie was not on a leash. I brought one but she sensed she had a job to do and stayed on task, not paying these other critters much attention.

We reached Buzzard’s Roost a little before 8PM, just in time to watch the sun disappear behind the mountains. There are several rock outcrops worth exploring here, some more private than others. A few require a short leap of faith to reach, but depending upon your agenda, it can be worthwhile to risk a little jump or two to be left alone. Just don’t fall in a crevasse or miss your footing – it’s a long way down.

Dusk was beautiful. There were plenty of clouds to catch the colors and a stiff wind whipping about to give that accomplished feeling of having reached the top of something high above. We stuck to the safe spots, peering out at the lush valley below. Essie was a mini mountain goat, hopping across rocks and traversing cliff edges without a care.

Now “technically” these trails close at dusk, but I’ve always found that to be more of a suggestion, as the gates to the parking lot are rarely if ever locked. Since we got a late start, and barely made it to the top before darkness fell, I saw no reason to beat a hasty retreat. We might as well enjoy our time up there. Besides, we had the mountain to ourselves.

Having begun my college years at Eastern Kentucky University in nearby Richmond, the Pinnacles was a prime destination when blowing off class. “Party on the Rocks” was the call to heed. One of my crew’s favorite pastimes was hitting the bars until close, then packing coolers of beer and heading up the Pinnacles at 1AM. Night hiking rules!

The loss of light on this trip seriously upped our adventure quotient for the kiddos. We sat near the edge of Buzzard’s Roost as the blanket of darkness settled upon the mountain, taking in the air until we no longer could make out the individual elements below. Around 9PM we decided it was time to start our journey down.

I huddled my troops to give all a hug and remind them we were in no hurry, to watch their footing, land each step safely and beware of tree roots. Those suckers can grab your toes in the dark. But most importantly, let’s have fun going down.

Essie really earned her keep on the descent, taking point and guiding our route. As the mountain had yet to feel the embrace of spring, the trees remained leafless, allowing extra moonlight to pour through and illuminate our path.

We stopped several times to admire the serene beauty of the stark forest in its wintry fashion. Slow and steady we trotted down. Gabriel and Jacy went into survivalist mode in this semi-wilderness environment. Meanwhile I kept my little girl’s hand in mine to be sure she felt secure. Some 90 minutes later we reached the parking lot without incident.

I was happy to see the kids display a sense of satisfaction for their accomplishment. Considering the scary movies they watch, their imaginations could have gotten the better of them in the darkness of Friday the 13th, but we all had a blast with this nocturnal journey.

Once back in the car we hot-footed it out of Berea in search of food, pulling into Tolly-Ho a little before midnight. This late-night institution specializes in fortifying intoxicated college students from the University of Kentucky. The Super-Ho with bacon and cheddar tots will satisfy. Bella opted for pancakes and bacon, a solid choice to fill a hungry mountain-sized appetite.

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FBI Raids Cohen Office, Speaker Ryan Resigns – Coincidence?

Federal agents raid Trump attorney’s office.

Our esteemed commander and chief, the Orange One, is having another rough week. Monday the FBI raided the office of Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, which was followed on Wednesday by the announced retirement of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Coincidental, perhaps, but more likely the raid was the final straw for the Wisconsin Republican, as the legal jeopardy continues to grow exponentially for Trump.

At first blush supporters of this chaos president might cheer the ousting of Speaker Ryan, but upon closer examination his exit might serve as a dire warning. Ryan’s resignation sends the message that he cannot lead his caucus through Trump’s haphazard style of mood swing policy making, and that the Republican Party is conceding the loss of the House of Representatives in November. If the Democrats regain power in the House, impeachment of the president will be priority one.

Ryan best find a good priest because he has some serious confessing to do if he plans to cleanse his sins for not calling out Trump’s harmful rhetoric and despicable moral conduct. Ryan crawling away from Washington with his tail between his legs does not excuse his cowardly behavior, nor will it salvage his tarnished reputation.

No one as young as Ryan just walks away from the job of Speaker of the House, especially a guy with presidential aspirations. It’s one of the most powerful positions in the world and two heartbeats away from the presidency. Clearly Ryan has no interest in facing voters in what would be a heartily contested re-election, where the Speaker would be forced to defend his failed leadership and support of this corrupt chief executive.

Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.

Trump can crow all he wants about nearly having all the right people in place for his new leadership team, but there is no positive spin on having federal agents kicking down the door of his attorney. Cohen is Trump’s fixer. He knows where all the bodies are buried. Or in this case, how many extramarital affairs Trump has had and the amounts of cash Cohen paid these women to keep quiet.

The FBI is reported to have seized records including information on the $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump was furious about agents breaking into his lawyer’s office, home and hotel room, calling it some kind of Gestapo-type raid and an “attack on our country.”

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller was Trump’s preferred object of blame, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but the raid came as a result of a search warrant overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan. The warrant was based on information discovered by the Mueller team and passed along to the state because it was considered out of purview for the special prosecutor.

The State of New York in turn found compelling evidence of criminal wrongdoing and acted. Due to a perceived likelihood that Cohen would either destroy or hide requested evidence, it was deemed necessary to execute search warrants instead of issuing subpoenas for the information.

This is a perfectly legal maneuver, and considering the various high-level officials required to sign-off on these warrants, it means probable cause of criminal activity was shown, and a judge was convinced that exigent circumstances existed supporting the issuance of warrants, and by doing so it was likely evidence of wrongdoing would be recovered.

The mind runs wild at the possible goodies Cohen might have tucked away on Trump that now reside in the hands of law enforcement. I just keep wondering when it will dawn on Trump believers that investigations like Mueller’s and all these other legal entanglements involving the president don’t continue churning up information for no good reason.

Trump keeps blanket denying that no evidence has been found. Yet numerous Trump aides have been indicted and pled guilty. A more accurate depiction of what has unfolded thus far is that Trump and those surrounding him are involved in so many different misdeeds, it’s taking this long to unravel the full spectrum of their guilt.

The beauty of this new saga is in the “strategerie” of how Mueller chose to hand off this damaging information to a state court, so even if Trump finds a way to fire the special prosecutor, this investigation, along with the one involving former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, will both continue moving forward regardless.

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