TRUMP PICKS RETIRED GENERAL H.R. McMASTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR
The Guardian’s National Security Correspondent Spencer Ackerman has a nice profile that places him within the context of the current situation our nation now finds itself in. Politico’s Editor-in-Chief Blake Hounshell notes on Twitter, “McMaster an interesting choice. Wrote a book on generals’ failure to stand up to politicians in Vietnam — Dereliction of Duty”. Washington Bureau Chief for The Atlantic Yoni Applebaum pull quotes an interesting excerpt from this book that has some interesting echoes of the present. And Elaine Grossman who tweets she’s covered him “for nearly 2 decades” says “Watch his face: He knows what now rests on his shoulders.” All in all, pretty reassuring if we want our executive back from the grip of the Russian state. Time will tell.
RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UN VITALY CHURKIN DIES SUDDENLY IN NYC
Churkin died suddenly in New York on Monday, a day before his 65th birthday. The New York Post reports he was at the Russian Mission when he went into “cardiac arrest” and was rushed to the hospital. He is also responsible for inviting Trump to the Soviet Union for the first time in 1986. This marks the second very high profile death of a senior Russian diplomat in not that many months (recall: the dramatic assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov in an Ankara gallery). As a parody Twitter account of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted, “Russian diplomats who know too much always die either of natural causes or of ‘natural causes.’” And Heavy has five fast facts.
THE KREMLIN’S REPLY TO THE TREMENDOUS LOSS
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told Russian state-run TASS, “The president was grieved to learn about the death of Vitaly Churkin.” Putin is so aggrieved he sent his spokesman to deliver the usual condolences to a state-run news outlet. But Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov allowed a poem for Churkin he allegedly wrote to be published by the Kremlin.
From Russian state-run TASS.
Translation of Lavrov’s poem in The Moscow Times.
(NATURALLY) DENIES REPORT OF BACKDOOR DEAL ON UKRAINE
The Kremlin denied a report that dropped on The New York Times website Sunday that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen was involved in a backdoor deal concerning Ukraine with the Trump administration that also involved a bunch of Russian criminal underworld figures, Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash and a front man named Felix Sater of Bayrock Group. When Trump was asked about Sater in an interview included in a recent BBC Panorama episode, Trump walked out of the room.
From The New York Times.
BUT CONTRADICTS TRUMP ON CONTACT WITH HIS CAMPAIGN
The New York Times looks at two different instances when the Russian authorities have contradicted Trump on his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign. It does not include the time Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak sat in the front row at a Trump campaign speech in April 2016. Recall Kislyak is the same official now ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn spoke with FIVE times the day Obama imposed sanctions on Russia in December.
From The New York Times.
BUT EVERYONE IS TALKING AND TALKING AND TALKING…
An interview with Jon Snow on Channel Four in the UK with Carter Page says no one from the FBI has ever contacted him. Snow says reports in the NYT suggest otherwise and Page implies deep state is trying to investigative him to overthrow Trump. He adds that he believes the news reports. Unlike TRUMPISTAN WATCH which defined that clearly for you yesterday as “the Lord Mountbattens of the world”. Page instead invokes the term and then calls it “a long discussion”. He says he knows a few people at Rosneft but calls it “a red herring”. There is simply no way if you know how Russia works. Other than Russia, he has no credentials to be a foreign policy advisor and Snow hits hard. It’s all pretty nuts in that Russian way and shows the White House has totally lost control of the narrative. Highly recommended.
View Page on Channel Four.
THEY HAVE ALL TOLD SO MANY LIES THEY CAN’T KEEP THEM STRAIGHT
And Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, named in the Steele dossier leaked to BuzzFeed and implicated in the recent New York Times report on the backdoor deal to Ukraine, spoke to MSNBC. In the interview, which aired Monday, “Cohen confirmed that Felix Sater, a former Trump associate with a criminal past, asked him to come to a meeting in New York last month, and brought along Artemenko.”
View Cohen on MSNBC.
FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS
In the U.S. it was Presidents’ Day yesterday. In Ukraine, it is three years since the deaths of nearly 100 Ukrainians in Maidan protesting the corrupt government of Russian-backed ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The U.S. continues to call on Russia to honor the Minsk Agreements.
From Voice of America.
RECAPPING THE WHIRLWIND THAT WAS LAST WEEK
Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations recaps the sheer insanity of the Trump administration’s last week and reminds us how and why Trump went from loving WikiLeaks to cursing the leakers in his own administration and condemning those they are talking to, namely the press. Remember those e-mails?
From USA Today.
Vox has a series of good questions and explanations of the loose ends concerning the Four Horsemen who appear to be Trump’s key liaisons among his advisors to the Kremlin: Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort as well as lingering questions concerning the Trump Organization.
“THERE’S AN ENTIRELY NEW POLITICS TO RUSSIA IN THE U.S. TODAY”
“Gang of Eight,” high ranking House Intelligence Committee meeting member Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff – who receives classified intel briefings regularly from the intelligence community – tells Politico’s Susan Glasser “there’s an entirely new politics to Russia in the U.S. today”. Wait, watch.
From POLITICO Magazine.
POST-MUNICH (NOT POST-WEST) WORLD
“THE SPECTER OF TRUMP IN MUNICH”
The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum writes of the shadow of Trump hanging over the Munich Security Conference, the most important annual meeting for the transatlantic defense community, over this past weekend as Pence and Mattis were on what might be termed “an apology tour” for Trump’s intemperate efforts to tow the line of the Russian state or merely get attention for rambling inanely. “But nobody could quite bring themselves to say the truth out loud: that one of the gravest dangers facing the Western alliance is the president of the United States.” Also listen to what Russia got out of Munich from Russian state-run RT.
KNOW YOUR FRENEMY?
NBC News has a story about the “seven pages” of a “psychological portrait” Kremlin aides are drawing up on Trump. It seems we have so much in common we might as well be frenemies! Former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov correctly assesses that Trump “doesn’t understand fully who is Mr. Putin — he is a tough guy” (that much I think he got) and “many in the Kremlin believed that Trump viewed the presidency as a business”. If he wasn’t corrupted by them and used as a distracting ploy to capture our state, we might really get along with the Russians.
From NBC News.
MIKE PENCE: SHADOW PRESIDENT?
The Washington Post asks if Mike Pence is our shadow president after his tour of duty at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend reassuring our European allies, visiting Dachau and putting the Jews back into the Holocaust after his boss took them out. There is a case to be made that he is the shadow president or at the very least one of the adults in the room. Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid makes the case when she says Pence told her, “if you don’t want to call the president, you can always call me.” In ordinary times, that would be a stunning breach of protocol, in these times, it’s nearly reassuring if we err on the side of denial over collapsing in despair.
APOLOGY TOUR AS PENCE DOES BRUSSELS?
Since gracelessly omitting the EU in a speech at the Munich Security Conference intended – supposedly – to reassure European allies after Trump’s even more graceless remarks by visiting Brussels. (Trump once said “Belgium is a beautiful city.”) He met with a number of officials including EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and European Council President Donald Tusk. He had a message meant to counter-act his errant tantrum-throwing boss: “on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continue cooperation and partnership with the European Union”.
MEANWHILE GERMANY’S FAR RIGHT IS IN MOSCOW
The leader of far-right German party Alternative für Deutschland’s Frauke Petry was in Moscow over the weekend, no doubt eager to help the Kremlin build out its “post-West World” as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov termed it in Munich. The meetings were closed door but did include Vyacheslav Volodin, a former Chief of Staff to Putin who is considered a close confidant.
From Deutsche Welle.
The Moscow Times reports that the Russian state has a serious case of “buyer’s remorse over recent days.” It’s as is they realize that it’s best not to deal with a complete lunatic and even drunk Yeltsin would be better. The fact is “the Kremlin has little to offer on its end” in any deal with Washington and would therefore amount to “a fire sale of US interests.”
From The Moscow Times.
SEND OUT THE MISTRESS!
Because Putin built an impoverished police state and cannot answer for developments in his little big America operation since the devastating loss of ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, official mistress Alina Kabaeva, a Muslim Tatar, was sent out in public wearing a wedding ring to distract the Russian public and London tabloids. “Kabaeva has been linked with no other partners for almost a decade despite being seen as one of Russia’s most eligible women.” It is also supposed to remind us on another, much baser level what sort of a bare-chested tiger the Russian leader is to get such a beauty. Gross.
From The Sun.
NO REASSURANCE WITHOUT DETERRANCE
A piece from Russian state-run Pravda that alternately taunts NATO’s defenses in Europe and tries to goad Europe, especially Germany, into ramping up its defenses and investing in nukes. The kicker is explosive in that nuclear way we have been talking about so much as of late: “NATO can not take part in serious, even non-nuclear conflicts, because there are no proper weapons for the purpose.”
From Russian state-run Pravda.
SHIT SERGEY LAVROV SAYS
ABOUT THAT MONTENEGRO COUP PLOT RUSSIA NEVER PLANNED
It must have been another country interested in destabilizing Montenegro for joining NATO. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called claims published in The Telegraph over the weekend that Russia was involved in a plot to assassinate Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic “unsubstantiated”. To bolster his defense he cited the Litvinenko poisoning case for vindication. Mmm hmm.
SUNDAY NIGHT MONTENEGRO’S PROSECUTOR SAID OTHERWISE
POLITICO reports Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic said Sunday night, “So far we have had evidence that Russian nationalist structures were behind [the plot], but now also that Russian state bodies were involved at a certain level.”
WOE IS RUSSIA
Putting the most “Russia as perpetual victim of Western aggression” spin possible on allegations that outgoing National Security Advisor Michael Flynn spoke FIVE times with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Lavrov whined that it shows the Ambassador is eavesdropped on. Also, did the Russians read WikiLeaks and if they did, did they learn anything?
From Russian state-run TASS.
SHIT DMITRI PESKOV SAYS
PLAN WHAT PLAN?
Are we supposed to believe that because Trump has no plan, Putin doesn’t either? That’s what Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov wants us to believe. He doesn’t have much to say though, just the customary denials, deflections and outright falsehoods as it concerns Crimea and the sensational story of backdoor deals with Russian underworld figures concerning the future of Ukraine that dropped in yesterday’s NYT. FAKE NEWS!
BUT IT SEEMS THEY DO HAVE A PLAN! SURPRISE, SURPRISE
While simultaneously alleging a lack of a plan, Peskov said that Russia will recognize the illegitimate passports issued by Russian-backed and controlled separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk. This stoked fears in Ukraine of a further attempt at the annexation of Ukrainian territory, just as Crimea was three years ago.
OH, THE HUMANITY
In the Kremlin’s version of events this is being done for humanitarian purposes. Peskov further compounds his total non-plan by conceding the Kremlin has determined that it’s perfectly legal and according to the Minsk Agreement (not a chance). With echoes of Stalin in his voice, Peskov declared, “It had to be done, due to humanitarian concerns.” Prepare for the coming world since in no time “humanitarian” hyperbole masking abuses against international law will be the new “fake news”.
From Russian state-run RT.
FOX + FRIENDS
ALL COUPED UP
Fox News Lou Dobbs claims Obama has set up a “shadow government” in an act of sedition. That’s a hell of a walk-around the fact that everything that has happened to Trump’s administration in the brief, never-ending month of sleepless hell that has characterized American life since January 20, Trump brought entirely on himself.
From Fox News via J.J. McNab.
ROGER STONE AND THE (UN)MAKING OF AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT
The Guardian does what the media has done for much of the last 18 months which is normalize and provide legitimacy to the likes of people like Roger Stone, this time in book format – because enablers now extend to book publishing as well. Pay attention to his thoughts on the JFK assassination and think of how many histories are drawn in America by the country’s diverse communities – it’s an important insight applied to insidious ends.
From The Guardian.
RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM OUR PRESS AND THEIRS
“HALF OF RUSSIA STILL IN CRISIS”
Bloomberg gives us some insight into what normal Russian people are feeling economically as we sure can’t hear their voices given the sad and tragic police state Putin has kept them in. We learn “78 percent of Russians believe the country is heading for an economic crisis.” No wonder they would much prefer better relations with the West instead of the bizarre fake great state Putin imagines for us all where racists and bigots can protect the children from scary minorities.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough called Trump’s lies an “insurmountable” barrier for him to overcome to salvage his presidency. That’s correct.
From Raw Story.
PUTIN ON THE RITZ
The Daily Mail has a splashy tabloid take on Putin’s vast riches stolen from the Russian state, so therefore the Russian people. Mostly based on old information, it’s always nice to have the reminder in the tabloid press that “In April 2015, Putin declared a 2014 income of just $119,000, listing ownership of two apartments and a share in a car parking garage” with a large number of photos suggesting otherwise. The problem is this may contribute to the gangster hero mystique that keeps them popular among the downtrodden.
From The Daily Mail.
PAUL MANAFORT CANNOT EVEN KEEP HIS OWN HOUSE IN ORDER
Manafort has spent recent years traveling between his Manhattan gig with Trump and a coterie of Ukrainian and Russian mobsters in Kyiv. Meanwhile, his Brooklyn home is a shit sty and neighbors in Carroll Gardens have more than his politics to be displeased with in his behavior.
From The New York Post.
FAKE NEWS! PRAVDA SAYS CZECH SOLDIERS IN LITHUANIA WERE TASED
Pravda (yes, it’s still around) has propaganda about drunk rampaging Czech NATO soldiers who were so rowdy they needed to be Tased by local Lithuanian police. As with most such reports originating in the Russian media, this one is best assumed false until any actual proof materializes that doesn’t originate with Russian state-run media.
From Russian state-run Pravda.
IF WE LOSE EUROVISION, THEN CIVILIZATION HAS LOST
Forgive me, but I am a HUGE fan of the Eurovision Song Contest having been twice in Baku and Stockholm last year. The Economist has a piece on what’s at stake in Ukraine which won last year’s contest with a song called “1944,” which is “a ditty about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Stalin”. For Ukraine’s public broadcaster, the consequence of hosting will “either invigorate the public broadcaster or kill it.” Right now, it seems like it might be the latter after a wave of mass resignations of 21 organizers last week. This is an obvious problem for journalism in the country.
From The Economist.
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