TRUMP SIGNS SANCTIONS BILL BUT HATES EVERY SECOND OF IT
Bloomberg reports, “President Donald Trump has signed the Russia sanctions bill Congress forced on him, and is adding a statement saying the administration will carry out the law but with reservations about its impact and the constitutionality of some provisions”. Oh he is sad to see that his executive power is not all Putin imagines it to be. Too damn bad. Bloomberg calls it “The so-called signing statement,” adding it “lays out Trump’s concerns about the legislation, including that it encroaches on presidential authority and may hurt U.S. ability to work with allies.” Also it makes him look weak to his Russian friends who are already trolling him. Dmitry Medvedev said it shows his “total weakness” on Twitter. Memo to the puppet president: Russia is not our ally just because they kept him afloat through the financial crisis and will overpay for whatever tackiness on a plot of land he can sell them. It’s worth reading his full statement via PBS NewsHour, but special emphasis due on the last three lines: “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.” Yeah, barf.
MCMASTER OF HIS DOMAIN, PART I: EZRA COHEN-WATNICK OUT
The Conservative Review (an Atlantic media publication) reports, “Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, has been dismissed from the White House”. Please do neo-Nazi Sebastian Gorka next! The Conservative Review notes, “Cohen-Watnick, 31, was originally brought on board by former NSC chief Gen. Michael Flynn.” The Daily Beast notes Cohen-Watnick is the “official who gave a Republican congressman,” DARKNESS AT NUNES, “intelligence reports showing the president and associates were incidentally surveilled by U.S. intelligence”. An original Flynnstone survivor, he’s like a dinosaur in this administration and in his soul, and at the tender age of 31, it’s like he had no youth, only the taste of the distant but for now omnipresent ephemera of a bygone fascist era in its place instead. The Conservative Review also notes, “National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has, in the past, attempted to rid the council of Cohen-Watnick, but was overruled by President Trump, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner.” All three look post-powerful now. The Hill adds that McMaster “has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward”. Yee-haw! And giddy on up!
MCMASTER OF HIS DOMAIN, PART II: RICH HIGGINS OUT
The Atlantic reports, “A top official of the National Security Council was fired last month after arguing in a memo that President Trump is under sustained attack from subversive forces both within and outside the government who are deploying Maoist tactics to defeat President Trump’s nationalist agenda.” The Atlantic reports, “Rich Higgins, a former Pentagon official who served in the NSC’s strategic-planning office as a director for strategic planning, was let go on July 21,” adding, “His dismissal marks the latest victory by National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in the ongoing war within Trump’s White House between those who believe the president is under threat from dark forces plotting to undermine him, and those like McMaster who dismiss this as conspiratorial thinking.” That’s right the Illuminati wants to turn Trump into a feminist vegan who hurls kittens – and it’s all a Maoist Islamist plot. Obviously McMaster has been boarding the mother ship to meet with cosmopolitan globalists to plot this very Maoist insurrection, which Higgins warned of! Quelle horreuer! That’s globalist for “can you believe this shit?!” Oh but it gets way better! The Atlantic reports, “Higgins’s memo describes supposed domestic and international threats to Trump’s presidency, including globalists, bankers, the ‘deep state,’ and Islamists. The memo characterizes the Russia story as a plot to sabotage Trump’s nationalist agenda.” Read every word because you survived this so you could laugh.
From The Atlantic.
MCMASTER OF HIS DOMAIN: MICHAEL BELL MOVING ON UP
The National reports, “A retired colonel,” Michael Bell, “who served in the first Iraq war has been appointed as Donald Trump’s top Middle East adviser following the dismissal of his predecessor Derek Harvey following disagreements about US tactics over Iran and Syria.” The National adds, “Colonel Michael Bell, who was last week the National Security Council’s director for Gulf affairs, is known as a team player and sees eye-to-eye with national security adviser HR McMaster”. His biography reflects experience as “Bell was the Chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs and was the lead writer for US’s global military strategy following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. He also wrote the national military strategy for the Kuwaiti armed forces,” and “He served in Kuwait during the first Iraqi war”.
From The National.
BABYSITTING POTUS: PEACEFUL TRANSITION FOR DEMOCRATIC CONTINUITY
The last few days have seen the revival of a much earlier report of an agreement made in the very early days of the regime between General John Kelly, then Secretary of Homeland Security, and Defense Secretary General James Mattis “that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House”. The revival of this report comes from the AP and is due to General Kelly’s appointment as Chief of Staff, it traces back to a much earlier AP report from February that got attention in a POLITICO story, also in February, and elsewhere. Remember, if there is a coup underway in America, and it feels very much like there is one, at least in so far as it neuters the executive and places others not named Trump firmly in control, it was always to be a soft one and would not look like the ones that occur in third world banana republics, despite the regime’s resemblance to such neopatrimonial kleptocracies. TRUMPISTAN WATCH has long suggested that it be called “a peaceful transition to ensure democratic continuity,” because it was always going to be a coup in all but name only. Feel free to substitute this bit of TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s public relations marketing at every reference of coup if it helps or call it what you will. Somehow “purge” alone does not quite capture the greater dynamics at play. Recall, history often does not acknowledge reality as it occurs, but watch as it is rewritten later. As a Soviet radio presenter reporting on Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech,” wisely reported, “No one can predict the future, but the past is changing before our very eyes.” The first draft is always messy and often inaccurate.
T REX LOVES RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA BECAUSE MOSCOW SAYS IT’S GOOD
From the department of this is so transparent you can no longer make it up and they are not trying very hard to hide it any more comes this doorbuster! POLITICO reports, “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is resisting the pleas of State Department officials to spend nearly $80 million allocated by Congress for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation.” Every day is a doorbuster day because you literally want to break down the door of Foggy Bottom and ring T Rex up and see how much he costs! POLITICO notes, “It is highly unusual for a Cabinet secretary to turn down money for his department. But more than five months into his tenure, Tillerson has not issued a simple request for the money earmarked for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, $60 million of which is now parked at the Pentagon. Another$19.8 million sits untouched at the State Department as Tillerson’s aides reject calls from career diplomats and members of Congress to put the money to work against America’s adversaries.” So TRUMPISTAN WATCH will ask again: who does this guy work for? Seriously the Russians must have given him so much money, a breathtaking amount that not even the former CEO of Exxon could turn it down. POLITICO notes, “The $60 million will expire on Sept. 30 if not transferred to State by then,” adding, “One Tillerson aide, R.C. Hammond, suggested the money is unwelcome because any extra funding for programs to counter Russian media influence would anger Moscow”. Has T Rex read his George F. Kennan? The only thing Russia respects is strength.
HARD LANDING FOR FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY
POLITICO reports, “Former FBI Director James Comey has reached a multimillion-dollar book deal with Flatiron Books to pen an as-of-yet unnamed book on leadership.” According to POLITICO, “Flatiron publisher and President Bob Miller said in a statement that Comey faced many difficult decisions during his tenure serving the country and its leaders, and his book is expected to disclose some new anecdotes from his career.” Recall, “Comey led the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails,” and rhapsodizes sanctimoniously whenever the topic was raised, “and testified before Congress about probes into Trump’s possible ties with Russia,” where he admitted to being much less firm with Trump in the Oval Office about how Flynn is a “good guy” in Trump’s words. You know, leadership!
VENEZUELA’S PDVSA INCREASES ROSNEFT SUPPLY, DECREASES CITGO’S
Reuters reports, “Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA has reduced crude sales to its U.S. refining unit Citgo Petroleum while increasing supply to Russia’s Rosneft”. According to PDVSA documents cited by Reuters, this is part of “a plan signed in May to catch up on overdue deliveries”. Reuters reports, “Venezuela’s Oil Minister Nelson Martinez at a forum in St Petersburg in June said Rosneft would receive some 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) as payment for a $1.5 billion loan extended to PDVSA in 2016.” Reuters adds, “Days later, Russia publicly released a renegotiation of bilateral loans with Venezuela, an OPEC-member.”
INVESTIGATORS WANT ACCESS TO UDAY’S PHONE RECORDS
CBS News reports, “Congressional investigators are interested in obtaining phone records pertaining to Donald Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer”. According to CBS News, “a congressional source says there is ‘high interest’ in obtaining cell phone records and phone records in general around the meeting, which Trump Jr. had agreed to,” adding, “there is also interest in the email accounts of all of those involved in the meeting,” so Manafort and princeling Jared.
From CBS News.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
INTELLIGENCE TO COUNTER THE STUPID
John Sipher and Steven Hall, both former CIA officers, write in The New York Times, “It is our view not only that the Russian government was running some sort of intelligence operation involving the Trump campaign, but also that it is impossible to rule out the possibility of collusion between the two.” Sipher is a former station chief; Hall ran Russia operations. Sipher and Hall note, “The original plan drawn up by the Russian intelligence services was probably multilayered. They could have begun an operation intended to disrupt the presidential campaign, as well as an effort to recruit insiders to help them over time — the two are not mutually exclusive. It is the nature of Russian covert actions (or as the Russians would call them, “active measures”) to adapt over time, providing opportunities for other actions that extend beyond the original intent.” They add, “The goal of the Russian spy game is to nudge a person to step over the line into an increasingly conspiratorial relationship.” This is very true once someone has crossed a line beyond which they know they cannot turn back; imagine cornering a mouse and offering cheese at selective moments. Sipher and Hall add, “When the Trump associates failed to do the right thing by informing the F.B.I., the Russians probably understood that they could take the next step toward a more conspiratorial relationship.” Curiously they note, “The early ‘courting’ stage is almost always somewhat open and discoverable. Only after the Russian intelligence officer develops a level of control can the relationship be moved out of the public eye.” Their conclusions are stark and now, growing in acceptance among the sane coming to terms with what hit us. Namely, “The overall Russian intent is clear: disruption of the United States political system and society, a goal that in the Russian view was best served by a Trump presidency.” However, “while a Russian disruption operation is certainly plausible, it is not inconsistent with a much darker Russian goal: gaining an insider ally at the highest levels of the United States government.” Ultimately, “regrettably, collusion is not off the table.”
From The New York Times.
TRUMP LAWYER ALSO SBERBANK’S BECAUSE EVERYONE WORKS FOR RUSSIA
The New York Times reports on how Marc Kasowitz, the profane lawyer for Trump on the Russia inquiry who previously worked with the Trump Organization for over 15 years, is also working to defend Russia’s Sberbank in Manhattan court. The New York Times reports, “the case against the bank, Sberbank, is playing out in Federal District Court in Manhattan,” as “The bank is being sued by a Russian businessman, Sergey P. Poymanov, who has sparred with it for years in Russian courts.” You have to love the Russian elite with their endless accusations of Russophobia, often genuinely fascist cynical attitudes, yet desire for comfortable lives in the West and also justice they cannot get in Russia being worked through our courts in the West. All the more ironic is the constant whataboutism of the two systems being identical that the Russian elite uses to justify its strangle hold on power and resources. With the Russian elite, though, comes their corruption as The New York Times notes, “The potential for Russia’s meddling elsewhere — in American courts — has raised concerns among Mr. Poymanov’s lawyers, who are not convinced that Mr. Kasowitz’s ties to Mr. Trump played no role in Sberbank’s choosing him.” According to The New York Times, Poymanov “sued Sberbank, several of its subsidiaries and executives, and a business rival for $750 million, claiming that a valuable gravel quarry he owned was illegally bankrupted and seized by the bank in a corporate raid five years ago.” Of course, “Sberbank says it took the quarry as collateral after Mr. Poymanov failed to repay a loan,” The New York Times notes. Cheekily The New York Times adds, “The two Russian cases do have one thing in common: Mr. Poymanov’s lawyers accuse Mr. Kasowitz’s client Sberbank of also having gotten a little help from the Russian government.” The New York Times reports, “After Mr. Poymanov filed the lawsuit in New York, they say, the Russian police arrested him and subjected him to harsh pretrial detention at a notoriously rough Moscow jail, Matrosskaya Tishina, in the hope of persuading him to drop the case against Sberbank in New York. Sberbank denied any involvement in the arrest.” Matrosskaya Tishina is the same jail where Sergey Magnitsky was murdered after a sustained beating.
From The New York Times.
POLAND’S “UNPRECEDENTED PURGE” OF THE ARMY
The Warsaw Voice reports on a story that appeared in the leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza, “As many as 36 generals left the Polish army over the two years of the government of Law and Justice (PiS),” which calls it “an unprecedented purge”. The Warsaw Voice notes, “Last year the Defense Ministry dismissed 25 generals, of whom only 8 due to retirement, the ministry said in a reply to an MP inquiry. So far in 2017 another 11 generals have been discharged, including one retiree.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH understands the reach of the purges was also further down the chain of command and especially sought to rid the military of those who received training in the U.S. Who would do that? Hmmm…
From The Warsaw Voice.
U.S. MEDIA GIVING PUTIN A MAJOR BOOST + HE LOVES THE ATTENTION
BuzzFeed has a great opinion piece by a guy with a cool surname, Andrew Ryvkin, that asks, “is Putin really an evil mastermind? He’d certainly love for you to believe so, and he’s been working on the brand — if not the underlying product — for a long time.” So time for a reality check! As the guy with the great surname notes in BuzzFeed, “Russia can’t afford a full-scale war or even a serious worldwide presence comparable to what the USSR had. What it can afford is a media campaign that magnifies Russia’s actions, and Putin with them.” BuzzFeed notes, “Russia has become a necessary segment of every newscast, a social media trend, and a B-plot in more TV shows than ever before.” Because Americans, and most people everywhere, are nothing if not creatures of mass media, “The American public is getting used to Moscow’s new image as an enemy state run by the ultimate global bad guy. That image has been shaped by the media, and while it represents some truths, it completely misrepresents the scale of his menace.” One hundred percent. In reality, he is scared little Vova who wants his mother’s love and attention and is lashing out from fear not strength. Of course, “His Bond-villain status also serves a deep American need, because a nation that sees itself as the greatest force of good in the world needs a worthy foe.” We take on bad guys! BuzzFeed notes, “Putin has always wanted to be an equal. And in a way he’s accomplished that.” Respectfully though there is disagreement to be had that “He’s not seriously trying to destroy democracy and take over the US — he’s struggling to conquer parts of eastern Ukraine.” Ukrainians are fighting with their lives for everything because they know how destructive Russian occupation is; Americans laid down their country’s sovereignty because as creatures of mass media, they were co-opted and made complacent by comfort, add in a lack of knowledge of history and it’s a self-destructive cocktail. Recall: Montenegro did a better job of safeguarding its sovereignty than the United States did last fall.
CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA REMOVES GOVERNMENT LOGOS FROM SITE
NBC News reports, “The company that created Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics operation that helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election, has removed the U.S. State Department logo and the NATO logo from its website after inquiries from NBC News.” According to NBC News, “The website of SCL Group,” which stands for Strategic Communications Laboratories, “a private British behavioral research company, featured the State and NATO logos and used language touting their ‘approval’ of the company’s ‘methodology’ until last week.” While the company has handled disinformation operations for both, they are under ever-increased scrutiny now that it has become pretty clear that Trump is a Russian puppet. One of the company’s investors is Robert Mercer who also happens to be Trump’s largest single backer after the Kremlin. NBC Notes, “The company was awarded State Department contracts this year to help fight ISIS recruitment and has taught behavioral change science at a NATO-affiliated training program,” the NATO-affiliated Centre of Excellence in Riga, Latvia. A NATO spokesman however told NBC News, “NATO as an organization does not approve methodologies per se”. Similarly, “A State Department spokesperson said that after NBC News asked about the State logo on SCL’s website, the agency had asked SCL to remove the logo because SCL had not asked to use it or cleared the associated language with the agency as required.” Oops. Kind of a rookie thing to do as well as the fact that normally these companies are known through reputation and professional networks, not fishing for clients who might stumble on their websites.
From NBC News.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
RUSSIAN TEACHER FIRED FOR TRYING TO RUN AS OPPOSITION CANDIDATE
In Russia there is only room in politics for United Russia. The Moscow Times reports, “An award-winning teacher was reportedly fired from his school job in the Moscow region for running for public office as a candidate from an opposition party. Alexander Demakhin, who was awarded the ‘Teacher of the Year’ prize personally by Vladimir Putin in 2012, says in a Facebook post he was fired from his school job in the town of Sergiyev Posad after he began his campaign in municipal elections as a member of the opposition Yabloko party.” Demakhin wrote, “I learned today that, starting Sept. 1, I no longer will be working at [my] Sergiyev Posad school,” he noted, “The reason is my participation in Sergiyev Posad’s public life on a platform that makes the local authorities unhappy.” The head of the district however said, “Demakhin had resigned voluntarily because he had been too occupied with work at a local theater.”
From The Moscow Times.
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