Yesterday was only Monday. The Washington Post reports “The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.” Prince is also the brother of Trump’s enormously controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. According to The Washington Post, citing officials from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, “The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean”. The United Arab Emirates was allegedly involved as it hoped to persuade Russia to scale back its relationship with Iran. “Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team,” but nonetheless had some role as his sister has found her way into the cabinet and “he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant”. Prince was “an avid supporter of Trump” who gave $250,000 to Trump and related Super PACs supported by the Mercer family. He was also seen at Trump Tower in December of last year. U.S. officials told the Post that the FBI “has been scrutinizing the Seychelles meeting as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election” but the FBI declined to comment. According to The Post, the Prince-Kremlin emissary confab “spanned two days”. Prince’s spokesman told reporters in a statement the U.S. should go kill terrorists as the unflattering spotlight now shines on his boss. Curiously in December, “[ousted National Security Adviser Michael] Flynn and [official son-in-law Jared] Kushner were joined by [Steve] Bannon for a separate meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who made an undisclosed visit to New York later in December, according to the U.S., European and Arab officials”. What was odd was Zayed did not notify the Obama administration of the visit and they discovered it on a flight manifest. According to the Post citing officials, “Zayed and his brother, the UAE’s national security adviser, coordinated the Seychelles meeting with Russian government officials”. Seychelles officials were unaware of the meeting. “The Seychelles is the kind of place where you can have a good time away from the eyes of the media. That’s even printed in our tourism marketing,” the Seychelles Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Barry Faure said. Prince also “appears to have particularly close ties to Bannon, appearing multiple times as a guest on Bannon’s satellite radio program.

From The Washington Post.



BuzzFeed reports, “A former campaign adviser for Donald Trump met with and passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013.” Accordingly, “The adviser, Carter Page, met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government alongside two others for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government.” Those charges were “filed in January 2015,” and “came after federal investigators busted a Russian spy ring that was seeking information on US sanctions as well as efforts to develop alternative energy. The beautiful thing is “A court filing by the US government contains a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Podobnyy speaks with one of the other men busted in the spy ring, Igor Sporyshev, about trying to recruit someone identified as ‘Male-1.’ BuzzFeed News has confirmed that ‘Male-1’ is Page.” The recruitment effort, which occurred three years before Page’s association with Trump, “is the most clearly documented contact to date between Russian intelligence and someone in Trump’s orbit.” Page “confirmed… that he is ‘Male-1’ in the court filing, and said he had been in contact with Podobnyy, who was working at the time at Moscow’s UN office in New York City under diplomatic cover, although he was really an SVR agent. Pressed on details of his contact with Podobnyy, Page said their interactions did not include anything sensitive.” A co-defendant in the case, Evgeny Buryakov, had his legal fees paid for by Vnesheconombank (VEB), which is only known stateside as it is sanctioned following the invasion and annexation of Crimea and its head met with Jared Kushner in a meeting last December that was not disclosed until last week.

From BuzzFeed.



The Forward, one of the oldest Jewish-American newspapers in the country, which once published a Yiddish edition, broke the story of Trump’s Chief Counter-Terrorism Advisor and Hungarian immigrant Sebastian Gorka’s ties to Hungary’s far-right group Vitézi Rend, banned by the U.S. State Department. Now it goes even deeper and more public yet as Monday The Forward reported Gorka “publicly supported a violent racist and anti-Semitic paramilitary militia that was later banned as a threat to minorities by multiple court rulings.” That group, the Mágyar Garda is in essence a neo-Nazi paramilitary group who aligned closely with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s rise in Hungary’s far right through a party called Jobbík. Mágyar Garda was formally banned in 2009 “with the country’s highest court ruling that its anti-Roma marches violated the rights of the Hungarian Roma community.” This time The Forward has video from an 11-minute interview Gorka gave Hungary’s Echo TV in August 2007 which shows Gorka and “explicitly affirms his party’s and his support for the black-vested Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) — a group later condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for attempting to promote an ‘essentially racist’ legal order.” According to The Forward (which posted a YouTube clip of the video), “Asked directly on the TV interview program if he supports the move by Jobbik, a far-right anti-Semitic party, to establish the militia, Gorka, appearing as a leader of his own newly formed party, replies immediately, ‘That is so.’ The Guard, Gorka explains, is a response to ‘a big societal need.’” This guy needs to go! Not just from the Trump administration but from our country! He is the very definition of a Nazi, ergo the very definition of a state terrorist. The Forward notes, “Gorka left Hungary shortly thereafter, as his efforts to build a career in politics there failed.” So the scum of the earth washed up on our shores. We really need to start asking why and how that came to be.

From The Forward.



One of Trump’s spies, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who sits on the National Security Council despite National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster wanting him gone because of the kind words of official son-in-law Jared Kushner and raging sociopath Steve Bannon, did some dirty work. Cohen-Watnick, whose surname “Watnick” is actually Ukrainian and Russian slang for a Russian chauvinist (reader tip!), did some digging of his own for no reason other than he is a Trump lackey. Cohen-Watnick purportedly wanted to look into who unmasked Trump officials speaking to Russian spies, handlers and assorted mafiosi. He was so concerned about Trump administration officials being “unmasked” (e.g. having their anonymity shattered in intelligence reports) that Cohen-Watnick went on a fishing expedition to publicly reveal the names of Obama administration officials who had made such requests concerning intel intercepts of Russian agents and criminals that picked up the scent of Trumpenführerwelt officials. When he discovered Rice’s requests, he turned to the White House and the White House Counsel’s office advised him to cease and desist. Basically this is political telephone in the hallways of your high school, it sounds complicated but basically it is talking shit about people who you suspect of talking shit about you because you did something wrong and maybe they know. Nonetheless, “Rice’s requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials do not vindicate Trump’s own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower. There remains no evidence to support that claim.” Nor are the requests in any way irresponsible for someone who is serving as the National Security Advisor at the time.

From Bloomberg.



Yesterday as TRUMPISTAN WATCH went to press, an explosion had hit the St. Petersburg metro and was quickly blamed on terrorists, causing even BBC presenters to note how quickly the story was moving on air just hours after the first reports. Putin was in town at the time to meet with Aleksander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus when the blast, which killed at least 10, occurred. Russia’s Anti-Terror Committee, a complete oxymoron as the state is its own terror there, said, “A second device was found and defused at another station.” The explosion came as the train was traveling between two stations and authorities acted quickly to spread fear by shutting down the entire Metro system. CNN reports, “A second device was found at another metro station — Revolutionary Square — and was disabled, the committee said in statement. That device was larger than the one that went off, according to state media reports quoting law enforcement.” The Washington Post noted the bombing “also cut across the fault lines of a country grappling with its first signs of political upheaval in years.” Officially, the bombing was attributed to a Russian citizen from Kyrgyzstan, Akhbarzhon Jalilov, an ethnic Uzbekh born in Osh, according to the BBC. There is no confirmation yet as to whether Jalilov was a suicide bomber but there is much history to suggest Putin uses terror when it is convenient to him politically as it certainly would be now. As Garry Kasparov tweeted, “Tragedy in St. Petersburg. Once again ‘unknown terrorists’ perfectly timed to serve Putin’s political agenda. Forget protests, back to fear.” And followed up with, “Such dark suspicions are based on 18 yrs of similarly well-timed attacks in Putin’s Russia, as I document in Winter Is Coming. Clockwork.” Read it if you have not. The Russian investigation will have credibility issues as a result no matter what.

From CNN, The Washington Post and the BBC.


Donald Trump spoke with fake news friend Putin on the telephone in the wake of the bombing. The two extremists are of course united against another form of extremism that is both wildly useful to them and they say antithetical to the sort of selective persecution of certain minorities they prefer. According to CNN, “The official call between the two leaders was the first since shortly after Trump took office”. The Kremlin confirmed the call, so now TRUMPISTAN WATCH wonders if it ever took place or if it really a provocation of Ukrainian disinformation bankrolled by Soros and the Illuminati, or is TRUMPISTAN WATCH cross-pollinating relevant bullshit?

From CNN and Russian state-run TASS.





Reuters reports that Lithuania’s intelligence service said Monday “Russia has developed the capability to launch an attack on the Baltic states with as little as 24 hours’ notice, limiting NATO’s options to respond other than to have military forces already deployed in the region,” noting “Russia had upgraded its military in the Kaliningrad region last year, reducing lead times for any attack and potentially preventing NATO reinforcements.” According to The Guardian, Lithuanian officials are expressing fears that “Russian propaganda is prelude to eventual invasion,” according to the headline. Lithuania’s Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis and the Lithuanian Army’s Department of Strategic Communications see disturbing parallels in the strategy of annexing Crima undertaken by the Kremlin in 2014 namely, “Russia is trying to create a false history that denies the Baltic states’ right to exist.” Karoblis said, “They are saying our capital Vilnius should not belong to Lithuania because between the first and second world wars it was occupied by Poland. It’s history of course, but Russia is using this pretext.” He was also blunt in that “We are speaking of a danger to the territorial integrity of Lithuania.” The Lithuanian Army’s Department of Srategic Communications’ Sgt. Tomas Ceponis said the disinformation his team is monitoring “bears similarities to the propaganda campaigns reported by Ukrainian specialists.”  Ceponis’ team has detected Facebook pages for “‘statelets’ inside the Baltic area, reminiscent of the self-declared People’s Republic of Donbass and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.” According to The Guardian, the propaganda has also been mimicked at the highest levels of the Russian state as, “The former deputy chairman of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, Vladimir Zhirinovsky is among those who have challenged Lithuania’s right to exist.” Something Ceponis said really resonates stateside these days as, “You don’t need to lie 100%, just have to provide selective information, and they are really good at playing the game. Not everyone is a historian, a politician and for general citizens it can be hard to understand.” For our part, Ceponis said we have to step it up and rise beyond Russian bullshit as, “You have a saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. If we lose the information war today, tomorrow we may be fighting with weapons.”

From Reuters and The Guardian.



POLITICO Europe writes of a new report from Freedom House documenting “the biggest democratic declines across the 29 countries that it monitors in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans since it began publishing in 1995.” Freedom House attributes this to “The U.K.’s decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S.” as “increased fears of instability and emboldened populists in Europe”. Nate Schenkkan, project director of Nations in Transit said, “A critical mass of leaders in the region openly reject the idea of liberal democracy. Populism increasingly is combining with crude ethnic nationalism in a way that threatens peace in Europe.” According to the survey of the rise of illiberalism or the decline of democracy “Hungary scored the lowest ranking in terms of democracy in the Central Europe region and Poland recorded its lowest score since the project was started.”

From POLITICO Europe.





Russian state-run TASS reports Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it still expects a visit from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “as it was planned.” Don’t stand up the Russians, T Rex!

From Russian state-run TASS.





Vox has a video on how satire has provided better coverage of the Trump era than the cable TV news outlets because it is better at calling bullshit. In doing so, it is also better at diagnosing the surrounding issues whereas on cable news, the pundits “argued with paid Trump supporters about basic reality…. The problem with this kind of coverage isn’t that it’s inaccurate, it’s that it takes bullshit way too seriously.” Part of why it might be so hard for cable news to handle bullshit is they are steeped in it themselves. As Samantha Bee says, “You can’t just shake your keys and distract us, we’re not cable news.” After all, it’s the satirists like Bee who pull off the truth in coverage about such things as Trump’s address to Congress, among many other examples. “He managed to talk about his dystopian agenda using an indoor voice, hooray!” Or John Oliver labeling the DARKNESS AT NUNES saga “stupid Watergate.” Here is hoping TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s numerous comedic interludes over the course of month two and three of Dr. Strangelove in real life have provided you with something better than the milquetoast of cable TV news.

From Vox and The Hollywood Reporter.


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