—–ON THE AGENDA—–
BILL BROWDER BEFORE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
CNN reports, “The Senate judiciary committee dug into questions of Russia’s interference in the US elections Wednesday — but delayed hearing from one of its key witnesses,” Bill Browder, “amid a procedural row spurred by the continuing health care fight in the Senate.” According to CNN, “The panel had planned to hear from Bill Browder, the CEO whose former lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, became the namesake for legislation at the center of a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, a Russian lawyer and others.” However, “Senate judiciary committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced Wednesday that Browder’s appearance was being delayed from Wednesday to Thursday morning because of the ‘two-hour rule,’ a delay tactic often employed by Senate Democrats as they have fought Republicans on a series of measures,” CNN adds. While on Wednesday “lawmakers dug into questions about the enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act ,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said, “I don’t know a time when the United States feels more invaded,” adding there was “sovereign interference”. According to CNN, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was “Caught in the middle, at one point,” as “Behind the scenes, a sort of witness tug of war has developed between the Senate judiciary committee and the Senate intelligence committee, as well as the House committees running their own investigations.” CNN notes, “Grassley and Feinstein ultimately succeeded in winning a private interview with Manafort,” and “access to his documents.”
TRUMP BANS TRANSGENDER SERVICE MEMBERS – ON TWITTER
POLITICO reports, “President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the U.S. military will not allow transgender individuals to serve ‘in any capacity,’ reversing an Obama-era policy while sparking bipartisan criticism from some of the the [sic] nation’s most prominent lawmakers on military issues.” You know who has never served in the military? Donald Trump or his kids. As the press has printed article after article elevating the military above politics, this relatively naked attempt to appeal to a bigoted base that knows nothing of transgender issues but can be rallied by an innate dislike of all who are not so-called mainstream white male Christians may be a tipping point. His bigoted decision also came on the anniversary of the day in 1948 when President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, desegregating the armed forces. While it is very unlikely Trump knew about this history or anything that does not involve him or some sort of narcissistic rant, it is an unfortunate anniversary to reintroduce bigotry at any level into the armed forces. Lastly, let’s defer to some colleagues from inside the Pentagon. The Daily Beast’s Nancy Youssef tweeted from her wildly popular “Overheard at the Pentagon” series on social media, “We’re taking orders via Twitter now?’ While Graham Jenkins, a defense analyst tweeted, “It was extremely surreal sitting in a pentagon basement cubicle this morning waiting for the next tweet”. This is not how policy should be, not on any level. Meanwhile officially The Washington Post reports, “The Pentagon referred all questions about Trump’s announcement to the White House.” Then the White House was incapable of answering even the most basic questions about Trump’s announcement, such as what happens to those transgender service members who are already active duty. Shameful.
DOJ: OLIGARCH FIRTASH “TOP-TIER COMRADE” OF RUSSIAN MAFIA
NBC News reports, “The Department of Justice has identified a former business associate of ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort,” Dmytro Firtash, “as an ‘upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime.’” No surprise here if you know the terrain. NBC News notes, “The declaration came in a 115-page filing as part of the government’s case against Dmytro Firtash”. Firtash was “an important player in the Ukrainian political party for which Manafort worked,” the Party of Regions of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. NBC News notes, “federal prosecutors in Chicago say,” Firtash had a “role in bribing Indian officials in order to get a lucrative mining deal to sell titanium to Boeing.” NBC News reports, “The government says that prosecuting Firtash and his co-defendant in the alleged scheme, Andras Knopp, ‘will disrupt this organized crime group and prevent it from further criminal acts within the United States,’” which is hard to fathom as long as a Russian puppet is still in the White House. NBC News flushes out the relationship with Manafort, noting, “In 2008, according to court records, Manafort’s firm was involved with Firtash in a plan to redevelop the Drake Hotel for $850 million. Firtash’s company planned to invest more than $100 million, the records say. One of the other partners working with Manafort on the deal was the former exclusive broker for Fred Trump’s properties, Brad Zackson. Fred Trump is the now-deceased father of Donald Trump.” NBC News reports, “documents show, Firtash’s investment company transferred $25 million into escrow to further the project.” NBC News notes, “according to a State Department cable posted by WikiLeaks,” from 2008, “Firtash told U.S. Ambassador William Taylor that he got his start in business with the permission of one of Russia’s most well-known organized crime bosses, Semion Mogilevich.” NBC News adds, “Manafort’s firm made more than $17 million in gross revenue from the party [of Regions in Ukraine] in just two years, according to his recent Foreign Agent Registration Act filing.”
From NBC News.
DOJ: OLIGARCH FIRTASH HAD BRIBES EARMARKED FOR PEOPLE IN THE US
The AP reports, “A new U.S. court filing in an international bribery case against a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch with ties to President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager suggests for the first time that some bribe money was earmarked for individuals in the United States.” The AP notes, “The late Monday filing in Chicago is prosecutors’ response to Dymitro Firtash’s motion to dismiss all the charges against him.” Firtash “is accused of spearheading a conspiracy to pay at least $18 million in bribes to mine titanium in India and sell it to a Chicago-based company,” Boeing. Firtash “denies the allegations,” but “was arrested in Austria in 2014 on an American warrant, then released on $172 million bail.” The AP notes, “Before becoming Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort pursued a business deal with Firtash to redevelop a Manhattan hotel,” however, “Manafort isn’t accused of any wrongdoing in the Chicago case.” Firtash is seeking dismissal on a technicality, the AP reports as “One of Firtash’s arguments for tossing the charges is that a U.S. role in the alleged crime is incidental”. However, the AP reports, “prosecutors’ 110-page filing,” suggests otherwise, implying “individuals in the U.S. itself were designated to receive bribe money”.
From the AP.
ENERGY SECRETARY RICK PERRY TRICKED BY RUSSIAN PRANKSTERS
The Washington Post reports, “‘Secretary [Rick] Perry is the latest target of two Russian pranksters,’ Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in an email”. Such is the disgraceful state and lack of professionalism of this administration that the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry could not tell the difference between Russian pranksters and the Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. The Washington Post notes, “The man the prankster hoodwinked is in charge of the government agency that maintains the nation’s stockpile of nuclear warheads and cleans up nuclear waste.” Reassuring! During the prank call “which was posted in its entirety on Vesti,” the pranksters pretending to be Groysman can be heard discussing with Perry “a potential pipeline across the Baltic Sea for Russian gas, cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid, natural-gas exploration in Ukraine and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.”
From The Washington Post.
T REX IS “TAKING A LITTLE TIME OFF”
Newsweek reports Russian Order of Friendship recipient and U.S. “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is ‘taking a little time off’ amid reports he is frustrated with the Trump administration and may not remain in the top Cabinet role for the entire year.” Newsweek notes, “The State Department was not telling reporters where Tillerson was at the beginning of this week. His public schedule is released daily via email. On Monday and Tuesday it said he was unavailable”. So god knows what is really going on, he could be at Lubyanka for training or talking to investigators in the U.S. for all we know. All very reassuring!
NEXT BENGHAZI AWAITS: HEAD OF DIPLOMATIC SECURITY RESIGNS
The Washington Post reports, “The head of the State Department’s diplomatic security bureau has resigned and will leave his post on Thursday, leaving the two top positions vacant for the foreseeable future in the bureau in charge of embassy security around the world.” Also very reassuring! The Washington Post reports, “Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Bill Miller announced his resignation and retirement from the State Department on July 19 in a note to staff,” which the paper obtained. “Miller has been the top official in the Diplomatic Security Service since January, when the Senate-confirmed assistant secretary Gregory Starr was asked to resign,” The Washington Post adds. Of course the no shame and no sense of consequence Russia Party Republicans had “singled out” Starr “during the investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.” No irony here. The Washington Post notes Miller “resigned voluntarily and was not asked to resign or fired,” citing “a senior State Department official”. Miller had been with the State Department since 1987.
From The Washington Post.
ROLE REVERSAL IN AFGHANISTAN: VIDEO OF TALIBAN’S RUSSIAN ARMS
CNN reports, “The Taliban have received improved weaponry in Afghanistan that appears to have been supplied by the Russian government, according to exclusive videos obtained by CNN, adding weight to accusations by Afghan and American officials that Moscow is arming their one-time foe”. Talk about a role reversal, in the 1980s, it was the CIA arming the mujahideen while the Soviets backed what later came to be called the “Northern Alliance” at the time of the U.S. invasion in October 2001 following the September 11 attacks. The two videos obtained by CNN purport to “show sniper rifles, Kalashnikov variants and heavy machine guns that weapons experts say are stripped of any means of identifying their origin.” According to CNN, “Two separate sets of Taliban, one in the north and another in the west, claim to be in possession of the weapons, which they say were originally supplied by Russian government sources.” Key caveat: “The videos don’t provide incontrovertible proof of the trade, of which Moscow has categorically denied involvement. Yet they offer some of the first battlefield evidence of a flow of weapons that has the Afghan and American governments deeply concerned about Moscow’s intentions here.” Meanwhile the line Russian state-run Sputnik is towing is that, “Russia Isn’t Arming the Taliban, But the Deep State Wants Trump to Think So”.
MEANWHILE IN IRAQ…
Reuters reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki discussed supplies of Russian T-90 battle tanks at a meeting in St Petersburg on Tuesday”. According to Reuters, “Russia’s Izvestia newspaper cited the Kremlin last week as saying Iraq had agreed to buy a ‘big’ order of the tanks, which have been used in the Syria conflict.”
ROMANIA CONFIRMS PURCHASE OF PATRIOT MISSILES
The AP reports, “Romania’s defense minister confirmed Wednesday that the country intends to buy Patriot missiles worth $3.9 billion dollars from the United States.” The AP adds, “Defence Minister Adrian Tutuianu said Romania’s Parliament first needs to pass a law that would allow the acquisition. Tutuianu estimated Romania could begin paying for the missiles by November,” adding it is “the first time a Romanian official has publicly provided details”.
From the AP.
GOWDY GOES TO BAT FOR PRINCELING JARED IN CLOSED DOOR HEARING
Bloomberg reports, “Republican Trey Gowdy acted behind closed doors like a lawyer for President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, during questioning Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee, said the top Democrat on the panel.” Rep. Adam Schiff said, “Mr. Gowdy took the role as a second attorney for Mr. Kushner”. Schiff also “said the information obtained in questioning Kushner left Democrats on the committee with ‘a number of things to follow up’ but didn’t elaborate.” Bloomberg reports, “Democrats said Gowdy ran interference on behalf of Kushner during the questioning.”
TRUMP ADVISOR JD GORDON MEETS WITH HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE
ABC News reports, “Former Trump campaign adviser J.D. Gordon appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday for an interview with the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian election interference.” ABC News notes, “Gordon played a role in putting together the Republican Party platform, which was criticized for taking a pro-Russian position on the defense of Ukraine. He also met with then-Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at the GOP Convention in Cleveland in July 2016”.
From ABC News.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
VOTERS AGAINST FIRING MUELLER
But who are the voters really but enemies of the people? POLITICO reports on a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that reveals, “By a more than two-to-one margin, voters say it would be inappropriate for President Donald Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller over his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election”. POLITICO flushes out the details that “Nearly half of voters, 48 percent, say it would be wrong to remove Mueller, compared to only 22 percent who say it would be appropriate for the Trump administration to dismiss Mueller,” because again recall a lot of folks are just brain dead or sleepwalking or generally prefer lives of material comfort and little meaning and even less knowledge. Of course, “There is a huge gap in partisan perceptions: Democrats say overwhelmingly that firing Mueller would be inappropriate, 67 percent to 11 percent. Independents also tilt heavily against firing Mueller, 47 percent to 19 percent. But Republicans say, 37 percent to 29 percent, that it would be appropriate,” POLITICO notes. Good job Russia and Russia Party Republicans, that divide and conquer aspect of the plot is coming along nicely.
KASPERSKY GIVING AWAY ITS MALWARE NOW
Tech Crunch reports, “Kaspersky Lab has launched a free version of its antivirus software in the U.S.,” after “The Russian software company made headlines recently as renewed suspicion around” its work for the Russian security services, the FSB, led the U.S. government to remove it from a list of approved vendors for government contracts. Don’t do it America, don’t provide aid and comfort to the enemy even if it is your favorite price, free. As GOP strategist Rick Wilson wrote on Twitter, “Also, that clown parked outside the school has candy and a puppy in his van. Perfectly safe, kids.”
From Tech Crunch.
LEV LEVIEV, ISRAELI DIAMOND CONNECTED TO PUTIN + PRINCELING JARED
Haaretz reports on Lev Leviev who “is best known for having cracked the world diamond market monopoly of the De Beers cartel in the 1980s, and for real estate holdings and construction deals from Wall Street to the West Bank”. Leviev “was born in the Soviet Uzbek Republic, and immigrated to Israel at age 14,” Haaretz reports. Evidently “With the encouragement of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, in the late 1980s, Leviev had the impeccable timing to begin doing business in the Soviet Union,” Haaretz adds. Schneerson died in 1994 and received somewhat of a state funeral in Brooklyn attended by thousands who considered him a messiah. Haaretz kvells, “At the same time, he became a close friend of Vladimir Putin and also a Jewish philanthropist unequaled since the legendary Moses Montefiore.” Haaretz reports, “Clever rather than studious, Leviev left his Kiryat Malachi yeshiva after just two months, and got a job in a diamond-polishing shop, where, through persistence, he had his senior colleagues teach him all 11 stages of diamond cutting, something a single individual does not generally have the opportunity to master.” Haaretz adds, “Leviev began making his way up quickly in the De Beers hierarchy, but that wasn’t good enough. What he really wanted was to break the cartel’s stranglehold on the world’s diamond market. This he did by cutting deals at strategic moments with the governments of both Angola and Russia”. He also gave back to the organization of the rabbi (or messiah depending on your view) credited with encouraging him, as “in a 2007 interview with The New York Times, he did not dispute that he had contributed some $50 million to Chabad educational and welfare institutions across the former Soviet Union.” Then “In 1996, Leviev picked up the Africa-Israel holding company, whose fields included real estate and construction, from Bank Leumi,” Haaretz reports. He paid “$400 million,” but “By 2007, its estimated value was $7 billion.” Haaretz notes, “Leviev was a business partner of Prevezon Holdings, the Russian firm that was accused of money-laundering, and that, after it was represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya”. Haaretz also repeats earlier reports that “In 2015, the Kushner real-estate company purchased four floors of the old New York Times building, on West 43rd St., for $295 million. The seller was Lev Leviev’s U.S. branch of Africa-Israel Investments, in partnership with Five Mile Capital.”
TRUMP DINES WITH PROPAGANDISTS
Achtung! The Washington Post reports, “President Trump dined at the White House on Wednesday night with Fox News Channel star Sean Hannity, former Fox executive Bill Shine and newly installed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to discuss overhauling the West Wing staff and his political strategy”. But not the Julius Streicher of our time Steve Bannon?
From The Washington Post.
RIGHT WING TROLLS IMPLICATED IN RUSSIA INVESTIGATION
The Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Watch reports, “The alt-right’s presence seemingly pervades every corner of the Donald Trump administration, so perhaps it’s no surprise that key players in the extremist white nationalist movement are turning out to be involved in the president’s scandals as well,” including the Russian collusion scandal. They name “Two major alt-right figures — Charles C. Johnson,” and “notorious neo-Nazi hacker Andrew ‘weev’ Auernheimer,” citing a recent POLITICO story on Peter W. Smith’s effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers. TRUMPISTAN WATCH has also heard reports of Johnson being involved in smear campaigns against Never Trump conservatives. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports, “Johnson, a onetime Breitbart News writer who told [POLITICO’s Ben] Schreckinger he met Smith in 2013 while conducting ‘opposition research’ on President Obama, had been in touch with Smith throughout the 2016 campaign, discussing ‘tactics and research,’ including Smith’s efforts in tracking down Clinton’s emails.” “He wanted me to introduce him to [Trump’s chief adviser, Stephen] Bannon, to a few others, and I sort of demurred on some of that,” Johnson reportedly told POLITICO, “I didn’t think his operation was as sophisticated as it needed to be, and I thought it was good to keep the campaign as insulated as possible.” The Southern Poverty Law Center adds, “Johnson instead contacted a ‘hidden oppo network’ of alt-right researchers (who he declined to identify) and urged them to back Smith’s efforts. Moreover, he suggested to Smith that he get in touch with Auernheimer.” Auernheimer claimed, “he is contractually prohibited from speaking to reporters”. The Southern Poverty Law Center details Johnson’s so-called “race realism,” which the center defines as “a phrase white nationalists use to refer to their racist ideology”. In December, Johnson said, he was “doing a lot of the vetting for the administration, and the Trump transition.” Meanwhile Auernheimer in 2010 exposed “a hole in AT&Ts security system and wound up serving prison time for it before converting to outright neo-Nazi ideology”. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “He helped Andrew Anglin set up his bulletin-board system for the neo-Nazi outlet Daily Stormer,” and has sent hateful fliers to Jewish groups and centers.
NORTH KOREA SHIT: WH PRESS BRIEFING BEGINS WITH CHILD’S LETTER
The Independent Journal Review reports, “It is well-known that President Donald Trump likes to watch the daily press briefing and critique the briefer’s performance. So in an effort to score some brownie points, his subordinates are now reading fan letters from children for his benefit,” and no on else’s as this is some real North Korea shit. Wednesday’s came from nine year-old Dylan Harbin, nicknamed “Pickle,” who wrote, “I’m nine years old, and you’re my favorite president. I like you so much that I had a birthday about you,” and was read by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. There is video in case you care to watch whatever dignity she has left slip away. The Independent Journal Review, recall took a lot of flak for a hagiographic exclusive interview attributed to Russian Order of Friendship medal recipient turned U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that read like it had been actually written by Steve Bannon. Even they seem to be changing their tune even as nine year-old “Pickle” creepily fawns over a fascist president, writing, “Our only regret is we won’t get to hear Sean Spicer read them, but maybe Sebastian Gorka will one day fill in.” Nothing quite like fantasizing about children’s petit fascist letters read by an actual neo-Nazi. Full Trumpistan!
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
COLBERT REWRITES TRUMPENFUHRERJUGEND OATH
Vanity Fair reports on Stephen Colbert and other comedians’ reactions to the Trumpenführerjugend speech Trump gave at the Boy Scouts Jamboree earlier in the week. Specifically, Colbert offered a new scouts’ oath based on the events: “On my honor, I will do my best to make a tremendous amount of money and buy a sex yacht like the old guy the president knows. To keep myself physically strong with golf and steak, and refer all questions to outside council. Merry Christmas.” Sounds about right. Grab them by the pussy, Trumpenführerjugend!
From Vanity Fair.
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