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—–BREAKING—–

 

TRUMP LAWYERS DID NOT WANT HIM TO SIGN FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FORM

The AP reports, “Donald Trump’s attorneys originally wanted him to submit an updated financial disclosure without certifying the information as true, according to correspondence with the Office of Government Ethics.” Well why not? Is it perhaps because he is concealing a ton in ill-gotten wealth from the Russian mafia state? The AP obtained the letters through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Of course rules and laws do not apply to Trump, a position whole heartedly embraced by the legal team he contracts because who else would the tempestuous authoritarian work with but those willing to bolster his own bullshit? The AP reports, “Attorney Sheri Dillon said she saw no need for Trump to sign his 2016 personal financial disclosure because he is filing voluntarily this year. But OGE [Office of Government Ethics] director Walter Shaub said his office would only work with Dillon if she agreed to follow the typical process of having Trump make the certification.” Of course this is still no substitute for his tax returns, which Trump continues to hide and conceal from the public, probably because of all the dirty Russian money it would detail and also perhaps because he is not nearly as wealthy as he claims to be.

From the AP.

 

TRUMP TELLS RUSSIANS STRAIGHT, AMERICANS GET TO CHASER

In a most insightful interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Trump’s ghostwriter Tony Schwarz suggests Trump’s tweets are a gold mine of projection of insecurity, the only intelligent thing to emerge in over a year of Trump on the world stage. So too it is with Trump’s accusation that the former FBI Director James Comey he fired is “a real nut job,” something he allegedly told his Russian handlers in the Oval Office. While the two Sergeys, Lavrov and Kislyak, were yucking it up, they also gave him enough rope to hang himself. Should we thank the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs because we really shouldn’t? According to The New York Times, “President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved ‘great pressure’ on him”. Let’s intimate at a bigger scandal unstated in this New York Times article: Trump is more truthful to his Russian handlers than he is with the American people. You can lie to some of the people some of the time, but you cannot lie to all of the people all of the time… if you count the two Sergeys as human specimens instead of rats. One more thing, the delusional nut job president also believed even for a moment, “I’m not under investigation.” God is dead so he can’t save America, but you can save yourselves. Maybe the Lawfare blog can save us? Read what Benjamin Wittes, a Comey friend and ally and brilliant legal mind, says on his statements to the media before you judge Comey as “a nut job” as Trump has done. Do you smell that reeking rot? That’s the forthcoming obstruction of justice charges.

From The New York Times.

 

PUTIN’S PRINCELING JARED?

The Washington Post reports, “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government,” citing sources close to the investigation. Speculation seems to run rife that it is princeling Jared, an obvious choice for a money man for those familiar with the mechanisms of mafia states and kleptocracy as you want to keep it all in the family. TRUMPISTAN WATCH still sees a role for Steve Bannon in all these investigations as he is the primary nexus connecting Europe’s far right and the White House, a connection that would surely be of interest to the Russians, who once pretended in Soviet times to promote a brotherhood of man whilst slaughtering and subjugating minority nations within the Soviet Union.

From The Washington Post, Vox and The Independent.

 

McMASTER UNREMEMBERS MEETING WITH RUSSIANS IN THE OVAL OFFICE

Is National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster going full Trump? He was on ABC News “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos dodging all sorts of questions about what Trump said to the Russians in his private confab with the two Sergeys (Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak) and the Russian TV cameras. As The Washington Post notes, though, McMaster “did not deny that President Trump discussed his motivation for firing FBI Director James B. Comey in an Oval Office meeting with Russian officials this month.” Then McMaster said, “I don’t remember exactly what the president said… The notes that there apparently have I do not think are a direct transcript. But the gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news. And that was the intention of that portion of that conversation.” Why the hell do we need to work with the Russians on anything other than nonproliferation issues? If they are so big and great as they say and so hell bent on destroying the West as they also say, and make every effort to do, then surely they have no use for us either. The Russians should also give up their mansions in Manhattan, London and villas in the south of France then too. But funny that McMaster, who stepped into the White House press briefing room last week to say the president did not harm national security by being a loud mouth braggart on intelligence matters, now has no memory of a meeting he ardently defended just days ago.

From ABC News and The Washington Post.

MONTENEGRO TO JOIN NATO THIS WEEK
Reuters
looks at the complicated issues of identity and history surrounding Montenegro’s ascension to NATO this week. Reuters notes, “For nearly a decade after Montenegro split from Serbia in 2006, Moscow cultivated close ties with the former Yugoslav republic, and money poured in from Russian investors and tourists,” who flock to towns like Budva along the country’s gorgeous Adriatic coastline. But as Reuters notes, “Now the romance has turned to rancor. Montenegro blamed Russia for an alleged plot to assassinate its prime minister last October which officials said was aimed at blocking its entry to NATO”. As a result of the decision and Russian-provoked political tensions, the number of Russian tourists visiting the country is way down this year. Russia has also banned wine from the country on a bogus pretext. Among Montenegro’s people joining NATO remains a “divisive issue” as “Many see Russia as a historic friend – a traditional ally against the Ottoman Empire, and the first nation to establish diplomatic relations with Montenegro in 1711,” and “Many remember a 1999 NATO bombing raid that killed 10 people in Montenegro, part of a wider intervention by the alliance to end Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.”

From Reuters.

 

COMMS EXERCISE UNDERWAY IN LITHUANIA

The Baltic Times reports, “Around 1,200 troops from 25 NATO member states are taking part in the communications units exercise Steadfast Cobalt” which will last until June 2. According to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry, Steadfast Cobalt “will put to test the ability of NATO communications units to ensure information exchange and communication among combat units of the NATO Response Force, joint and component headquarters worldwide”.

From The Baltic Times.

 

—–INVESTIGATIONS, INVESTIGATIONS—–

 

WINTER IS COMEY AFTER MEMORIAL DAY

POLITCO reports, “Former FBI Director James Comey will get to tell his side of the story behind his abrupt firing last week, agreeing to testify in a public session at the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing will occur after Memorial Day, committee leaders said on Friday evening.” Not quite a solstice or a harvest, but something in between, let’s call it, a pre-Summer’s dream! If you are still into popcorn, butter it or whatever it is you do with it other than leave a trail to exile in a better country that does not treat women and minorities like a subjugated underclass at this present moment (as if these other promised lands won’t some day in the future). It will be pure theater of the sort folks in Washington love.

From POLITICO.

 

DEPUTY AG ROSENSTEIN STANDS BY COMEY MEMO

Fox News reports, “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein firmly stood by the memo he wrote that outlined James Comey’s offenses – and later was cited by the White House to support President Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director – during briefings with Capitol Hill lawmakers,” citing remarks he made obtained by the mixed news and propaganda outlet. According to Fox News, “’I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it,’ he said, according to the opening statement provided by senior Justice Department officials.” As such, “He maintained that Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe was ‘wrong and unfair.’” For my generation making all manner of personal and professional sacrifices, it is of constant marvel that we must do so because our so-called elders insist on a cover your ass and no one else’s modus operandi. But hey, that’s life in the futureless present continuous we find ourselves in.

From Fox News.

 

JOE LIEBERMAN LEADING FINALIST FOR FBI DIRECTOR

POLITICO reports, “Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee, is the front-runner to be named FBI director, according to several White House officials and advisers.” Recall, Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate in the last massive electoral catastrophe our nation faced, in 2000. As this is all just a reality TV freak show presidency and we are supposed to be outraged and entertained in equal measure, Lieberman will still have to lip sync for his life. But don’t expect the fired former FBI Director James Comey to appear on “Dancing with the Stars,” America’s most unique method of rehabilitation in public life.

From POLITICO.

 

MANAFORT OFF THE SHORE: POLITICAL MERCENARY IN UKRAINE

Bloomberg takes a closer look at Manafort’s Ukrainian business, namely screwing the nation over royally by helping the kleptocratic cronies of the Kremlin around deposed President Viktor Yanukovych rise to power and stay there for a little more than half a decade. As Bloomberg notes, “The reason, in a word, is money,” as Manafort “made millions of dollars over a decade promoting Kremlin-friendly interests in Ukraine and beyond.” That’s millions of dollars that should be aiding in the development and welfare of Ukraine and its people that was siphoned off into Manafort’s coffers. As you read observers and actors in Ukraine comment on Manafort’s activities, a familiar strategy of divide and conquer and to hell with consequence on society, deployed by both Trump and Russia emerges. For his efforts, “In the five-year period from 2007 to 2012, Manafort was paid at least $12.7 million,” meaning TRUMPISTAN WATCH is most definitely in the wrong business using its powers for good rather than evil, much more lucrative to be evil. While Manafort through a spokesman denies all Russia ties and contact with the Russian government, his Russian contacts that tie him to Russia beg to differ, including such now familiar names as Viktor Medvedchuk, Oleg Deripaska, and such Moscow-aligned Ukrainian oligarchs as Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man. Manafort’s work also dragged in Western entities like the tony law “firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher + Flom LLC on behalf of the Ukrainian Justice Ministry to write a lengthy report on [Yulia] Tymoshenko,” who Yanukovych had defeated to take back the presidency before jailing her (again sound familiar?) after Yanukovych was ousted the first time in the orange revolution of 2004. “The ministry agreed to pay Skadden a mere $12,000, just below the threshold requiring it to go to a public tender. But much more money was to come to Skadden,” Bloomberg reports. “After the document’s release, Skadden signed a new contract with the ministry in 2013 that envisaged ‘additional work’ and paid the firm $1 million.” It is near impossible not to feel a sense of defeat reading this, knowing the limits of support for truth in our society at present moment are meek to nonexistent and seeing the millions and billions going to weapons deals and shilling for the most corrupt and murderous voices, all for personal, practical gain. If you side with the truth and justice you are just another scrawny kid named David up against the real goliaths. You want a future, be a goliath, you want to feel the frustrations TRUMPISTAN WATCH feels at this moment, you are just a scrawny David. Be the goliath, far more lucrative and the lawyers are there to help you beat back the Feds — and you will even be able to afford them.

From Bloomberg.

 

—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–

 

NYT: RUSSIAN SPIES WERE “TRYING” TO RECRUIT ROHRBACHER

HELLO! They SO recruited him. Or is Putin’s favorite Congressman simply just the most useful idiot on the planet!? Someone, Putin perhaps, give Rep. Dana Rohrbacher a Russian Order of Friendship medal, you know the one Lavrov, er, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has. Whatever the case (hello Kremlin payroll!), The New York Times reports, “The F.B.I. warned a Republican congressman in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him,” calling it “an example of how aggressively Russian agents have tried to influence Washington politics.” The background on Rohrbacher is that he “has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.” That’s quite the collaborationist sauce. Have some herring and vodka to go with it. Read the article if you wished to be shocked by nothing or pretend to be shocked anew by the fact that Russia has targeted politicians directly for recruitment all while you have wool over your eyes about the successes of such operations. While “Law enforcement officials did not think that Mr. Rohrabacher was actively working with Russian intelligence,” and an “official said there was no evidence that Mr. Rohrabacher was ever paid by the Russians,” stop looking for cash receipts. Payments can be made in girls, caviar, favors, etc. The next generation should live in freedom even if this generation is not so privileged. Rohrbacher as useful idiot is a massive impediment to that goal.

From The New York Times.

CEO OF SBERBANK WHINES ABOUT “PARANOID” RELATIONS

TRUMPISTAN WATCH is aware that the Russian message is highly schizophrenic: on the one hand, Russia is powerful and omnipotent, on the other hand Russia can be destroyed by its youth in the streets, glasnost over the leadership and oligarchs’ finances. As much as Russia wants to be a superpower, it lacks the liberal worldview to succeed at this goal. Russia both wishes to destroy America and the West and has invested all of its money there because Russia is so broken. Don’t call it a mysterious soul; call it a psychiatric disorder infecting the entire state. So too with the latest statements by Herman Gref, the CEO of Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, that, “there are certain signs of a certain… paranoid attitude to Russia and to every single contact with Russia real or imagined”. Sadly for Russia, most of their dubious activities are not imagined and it is not paranoid to have an understanding of the true evil and corruption of an adversary, to know who is an adversary. According to CNBC, “When asked whether Gref harbored any concerns about the consequences of having met with Trump in the past, he replied, ‘I think the situation has become extremely paranoid for one to suspect that these sort of contacts could lead to political consequences.’” You can see there are gears of awareness of the magnitude of the situation turning but then Russia’s customary denial and shock over consequences kicks in as the mortally wounded bear plays victim again. “The inability to access international markets is painful for us,” Gref said according to CNBC. Oh poor Russia, nobody feel sorry for them, they still are not getting a fraction of what they truly deserve, which is to see Putin and his enablers crushed and left in poverty, jail, and their previous riches exposed fully to their bath lotion-drinking population, which cannot afford real alcohol. We must stop their advance in America before that’s us drinking fake alcohol, too impoverished to even get drunk properly.

From CNBC.

 

NATO MAY REVIVE ATLANTIC + ARCTIC COMMAND

The Wall Street Journal reports, “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization may revive a Cold War naval command to counter Moscow’s increased submarine activity in the Arctic and protect Atlantic sea lanes in the event of a conflict”. TRUMPISTAN WATCH confesses to not having paid nearly enough attention to the race with Russia for the Arctic but with NATO reviving faded Cold War security projects, expect much more to come.

From The Wall Street Journal.

 

—–DISINFO WARS—–

FACEBOOK CONTINUES TO RESIST TRANSPARENCY OVER ITS ROLE

The Washington Post follows up on a Facebook report released publicly on the role its company played in the spread of so-called “fake news” (read: propaganda) during last year’s election. The Washington Post notes, “Facebook’s report on ‘Information Operations’ was the company’s first public acknowledgment that political actors have been influencing public opinion through the social networking platform.” After the election, recall Zuckerberg was in a fair state of denial over the role his so-called “place for friends” had in propagating the lies and bullshit (all for profit! Clicks! Likes!), which helped throw the American electoral process into the hands of Russia and domestic fascists. “The company says it will work to combat these information operations,” by purging 30,000 fake accounts ahead of the French elections and “thousands more ahead of the upcoming British election.” According to The Washington Post, “These accounts draw everyday users into ‘astroturf’ political groups disguised as legitimate grass-roots movements. Unfortunately, Facebook’s refusal to collaborate with scientists and share data has made it difficult to know how many voters are affected or where this election interference comes from,” because disinformation has not devastated the company’s bottom line one bit. Facebook “has the metadata to identify precisely which accounts were created, where they operated and what kinds of things those users were up to during the U.S. election. Their data scientists could probably provide some insights that the intelligence services cannot.” The Washington Post is correct, “Facebook needs to tell us what it knows and demonstrate that it can prevent interference with democratic deliberation.” It will not though unless they are hit where it matters with the bottom line.

From The Washington Post.

 

LEFT LEANING CONSPIRACY RUSSIASPHERE MAKING SHIT UP AS IT GOES

Vox has an excellent and thoroughly depressing piece on what it calls the “Russiasphere,” an axis of two has-beens and a couple of never been anythings who perpetuate left-leaning conspiracies that have at their heart that the media is ignoring the Russian role in our country. These conspiracies can be enormously comforting because they provide an out from personal and collective culpability for our present state and allow for the perpetual victim narrative to continue. Bosnian scholar Jasmin Mujanovic has an excellent Twitter thread on the utility of conspiracy as a function of post-traumatic stress disorder and their ability to serve as “a societal coping mechanism to rationalize political-historical trauma”. Most depressing for TRUMPISTAN WATCH are the numbers of Twitter followers and fans these conspiracies and their architects receive: 283,000 for Louise Mensch, 226,000 for former NSA and Naval War College Professor until he sent out dick pics John Schnidler and 159,000 for a guy named Claude Taylor who claims to have been a photographer for several presidents but as a photographer, TRUMPISTAN WATCH never heard the name floated in professional circles until now. The other real danger of course “Beyond the numbers, the unfounded left-wing claims, like those on the right, are already seeping into the mainstream discourse.” Meanwhile “Experts on political misinformation see things differently. They worry that the unfounded speculation and paranoia that infect the Russiasphere risk pushing liberals into the same black hole of conspiracy-mongering and fact-free insinuation that conservatives fell into during the Obama years.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH was also in part begun as a massive pushback against this tendency to seek comfort in the belief of manipulation as opposed to scholarship and analysis. There is much less comfort in TRUMPISTAN WATCH, which hopefully provides readers with an intellectual clearing of sorts to have rational, fact-based discussions, which is not to say do not be critical of media merely be informed first before you do. As Vox notes, “There are, of course, legitimate issues relating to Trump’s ties to Russia,” but “The Russiasphere’s assertions go way beyond that.”  Must read if you value your brain.

From Vox.

 

—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–

 

RESISITANCE ADVICE: BEAT BACK THE NAZIS WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM

Christine Fair, a Georgetown professor of Security Studies and general source of “I can’t she believe she did/said that,” hilariousness, saw Richard Spencer, darling of the so-called “alt-right” (read: far right neo-Nazi Kremlin trolls; his wife, Nina Byzantina is a Russian national), at the local gym where they both work out in Alexandria, Virginia. According to Fair’s account online, recounted by BuzzFeed, “Fair wrote that she approached Spencer at the gym and ‘loudly identified him as a neo-Nazi.’ She said she anticipated that the gym would kick her out for confronting Spencer. ‘First, I want to note that this man is a supreme coward,’ Fair wrote.When I approached this flaccid, sorry excuse of a man and asked “Are you Richard Spencer,” this pendulous poltroon said “No. I am not.”’ Fair then wrote that she “exploited the full range of my first amendment entitlements by telling him that this country does not belong to white men.” This woman is not afraid of Pakistan’s ISI so who is Richard Spencer really? She also posted photos online, so document when you do this! In the photo she posted, there is a giant arrow pointing at him with a caption inside of it that reads, “Cowardly NeoNazi first denying he is Richard (DICK) Spencer then asking for help from an African-American gym employee because I confronted him. How precious is that?” After he was kicked out of the gym, Spencer whined like a little man baby, “I was a well-behaved member of this gym, I did not cause any controversy,” by which he means he kept his torch wielding hate beyond the gym’s walls? He can do whatever the hell he wants under the First Amendment but a private gym can also do whatever the hell it wants within its walls and if a gym does not want Nazis because it creates a hostile environment for gym goers and employees alike, that is a win for America. Those who wish to deny others safe spaces should feel what it means to be denied them. Beat back the Nazis into the sewers wherever you find them lurking, which in Christine Fair’s case hilariously happened to be at the gym!

From BuzzFeed.

 

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