—–ON THE AGENDA—–
NEW NATIONAL INSECURITY STRATEGY ROLL OUT
The Washington Post reports, “A new U.S. national security strategy plan presents China and Russia as competitors that want to realign global power in their interests, potentially threatening the United States, Trump administration officials said Sunday.” Sure, why not? At this point, if it does not blow up the world or result in genocide immediately it is this side of sunny. The Washington Post adds, “President Trump will present the strategy, a kind of mission statement that guides policymaking, in a speech Monday. Its broad outlines follow his ‘America First’ doctrine of national sovereignty and putting a priority on the economic implications of global engagement. Officials said its main tenets are already in practice,” which is just fucking great because “America First” is pretty indistinguishable from America gets dragged from the back of a truck by a bunch of Russian mafia state assholes. So the road to killing fields it is! Who is ready to commit acts of mass atrocity to rid Trumpistan of others who are lesser and inferior but somehow also never Russian? Where is the deranged in our society? Oh, right…
From The Washington Post.
MUELLER TIME: TRUMP’S LAWYERS TO MEET MUELLER’S TEAM THIS WEEK
CNN reports, “President Donald Trump’s private lawyers are slated to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and members of his team as soon as next week for what the President’s team considers an opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the next steps in Mueller’s probe”. This meeting is significant CNN reports as “it comes after the completion of interviews of White House personnel requested by the special counsel and after all requested documents have been turned over.” CNN adds, “Mueller could still request more documents and additional interviews. No request to interview the President or the vice president has been made”. CNN reports, “The Trump team’s hopes for an investigation nearing its end contrast with a widely held view by other lawyers representing clients who have been interviewed. Those attorneys say that some of the questions asked by investigators suggest an inquiry with much more work left to be done.”
HOUSE INTEL PROBE HURRYING ALONG TO CLOSE BEFORE THE CALAMITY
The New York Times reports, “The House Intelligence Committee is racing to complete its investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, scheduling a host of witness interviews here and in New York for next week as Congress heads for its break, and, Democrats said, leaving other leads unfollowed.” The New York Times adds, “Some of the most important witnesses are to be interviewed in New York by committee staff early next week, possibly leaving Democrats to choose between attending those depositions or voting on the massive tax bill coming before the House.” CNN notes, “Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Republicans view ‘shutting us down as a prerequisite to shutting (special counsel Robert) Mueller down.’”
U.S. ARMY EUROPE COMMANDER RETIRING THIS WEEK, EURO DEPLOYMENTS
Defense News reports, “The U.S. Army is considering larger deployments to Europe in the coming years to test its ability to handle more than a brigade’s worth of troops and equipment, which would be needed should a crisis arise, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the outgoing U.S. Army Europe commander. Hodges retires at the end of this week.” Just in time for Christmas.
From Defense News.
Reuters reports, “The Kremlin said on Friday that President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump had agreed in a phone call to exchange information about North Korea and cooperate on possible initiatives to resolve a crisis around the Asian nation.” Reuters adds, “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Putin and Trump had also spoken about establishing contacts with North Korea.” Then the BBC reports yesterday, “President Vladimir Putin phoned Donald Trump to thank him for the information, the White House and Kremlin confirmed.” BBC notes, “Sunday’s conversation between the two presidents marks the second time the two men have spoken in a week.” Isn’t that just tremendous?
MUELLER TIME: MOTHER LOAD OF EMAILS DELIVERED, NOW THEY CRY…
But our emails! Oh, the irony! It is, at this stage, bittersweet of course, but that is quite alright. Axios reports, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained ‘many tens of thousands’ of Trump transition emails, including emails of Jared Kushner,” who is obviously next in line for an indictment, possibly at the same time as Uday. Axios notes, “Trump officials discovered Mueller had the emails when his prosecutors used them as the basis for questions to witnesses”. Axios adds, “The sources say Mueller obtained the emails from the General Services Administration, the government agency that hosted the transition email system”. Reuters reports, ironically, that, “An organization established for U.S. President Donald Trump’s transition to the White House said on Saturday the special counsel investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election had obtained tens of thousands of emails unlawfully.” This is the same people who made, “but her emails!” into some sort of universalized grievance for “aren’t women terrible, backbiting bitches?” Oh, the pungent irony! Hilariously, the lawfully obtained emails have caused consternation as “Kory Langhofer, counsel to the transition team known as Trump for America, Inc. (TFA), wrote a letter to congressional committees to say Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team had improperly received the emails from the General Services Administration (GSA), a government agency.” The real bitch: karma. Emails must be properly laundered through the Kremlin and the WikiLeaks first for it to be “lawful” in the eyes of the Trumpkins, not properly obtained from the GSA. At least this is the case if you follow GOP death cult logic.
PRINCELING JARED SEEKS CRISIS COMMS
The Washington Post reports, “Senior White House official Jared Kushner and his legal team are searching for a crisis public relations firm”. The Washington Post adds, “Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has quietly called at least two firms, these people said. The inquiries have occurred in the past two weeks, and officials at the firms were asked not to discuss the conversations with others”. The Washington Post notes, “At least one firm, Mercury Public Affairs, passed up the opportunity to work with Kushner’s team, people familiar with the discussions said. Mercury’s lobbying work has also come under scrutiny by Mueller, which could have complicated its ability to represent Kushner.”
From The Washington Post.
PRINCELING JARED + ARYAN PRINCESS IVANKA SUED OVER DISCLOSURES
POLITICO reports, “First daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband and fellow White House adviser Jared Kushner were hit with a lawsuit Sunday alleging illegal omissions on their public financial disclosure forms. Washington lawyer Jeffrey Lovitky contends that Trump and Kushner failed to identify the assets owned by 30 investment funds the couple had stakes in. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington also claims the couple should have declared the value of and income they derived from two investment vehicles, but did not.” POLITICO notes, “The suit notes that in a half dozen instances Kushner’s report indicates that more detailed information is not being provided because a ‘pre-existing confidentiality agreement’ precludes disclosure.”
MATTIS SAYS YES OF COURSE RUSSIA FUCKED WITH OUR ELECTIONS
Eat it, Trump! The Daily Beast reports, “Asked Friday whether he believes the Russian government meddled with the 2016 presidential election, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis reportedly replied: ‘Yes, I believe they did.’” That’s not the bullshit the fake Russian bullshit president is peddling. Too bad Trump’s lies are so heavy they are sinkers not floaters.
From The Daily Beast.
MATTIS ISSUES WARNING ABOUT RUSSIAN DECONFLICTION LINE VIOLATIONS
The AP reports, “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is warning against dangerous flights by Russian fighter jets over what is considered a safe zone in Syria, questioning whether recent close calls were mistakes or deliberate.” The AP adds, “Mattis told Pentagon reporters Friday that the U.S. and Russia are still using a phone line to coordinate flight movements over crowded Syrian skies as the U.S.-led coalition goes after remaining Islamic State group militants.”
From the AP.
PESCO IS OFFICIALLY A THING THAT WILL GET MONEY
Reuters reports, “European Union nations, now unfettered by Britain’s decision to quit, achieved a 70-year-old ambition on Thursday to integrate their defenses, launching a pact between 25 EU governments to fund, develop and deploy armed forces together.” Good job Trump, bravo Russia operationally. Total success. For now, at least practically, NATO makes this a bit redundant. What it means though is money as, “First blocked by the French parliament in the 1950s and later by Britain, which feared creation of an EU army, the pact aims to end the squandering of billions of euros by splintered defense policies,” Reuters notes. Reuters notes, “Denmark, which has an opt out from EU defense matters, and Malta, were the only EU countries not to sign up, along with Brexiting Britain.” Malta is unlike these other two and you can guess how, it is not so hard. It has a horrible acronym now that will surely be changed in the future as “The pact, called Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, is meant as a show of unity and a tangible step in EU integration”. What? “We are PESCO” somehow does not have the same ring as “We are NATO”. Hilariously, “In one irony noted by EU diplomats, British Prime Minister Theresa May, who attended the summit, was left seeking a way into the project now that it was an actuality,” Reuters notes.
VENEZUELA GIVES ROSNEFT CONCESSIONS
Reuters reports, “Venezuela has awarded licenses to a unit of Russian oil major Rosneft to develop two offshore gas fields, Rosneft said in a statement. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed the deal during a visit to Venezuela by Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin”. Reuters notes Rosneft said, “Under the agreement, which is valid for 30 years, wholly-owned Rosneft unit Grupo Rosneft will become the operator of the Patao and Mejillones offshore gas fields”. Reuters adds, “Rosneft will have the right to sell all of the fields’ production for export, including in the form of liquefied natural gas”. Recall Venezuelan state oil company “PDVSA has debts to state-owned Rosneft of $6 billion, the Russian company estimated in August,” Reuters notes. This is of course presumably to save the nation from imperialism, as Leninist doctrine would have it no other way.
—–INDICTMENT ROCK CITY—–
Reuters reports, “A U.S. District Court judge on Friday said she would release former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort from house arrest once he meets certain conditions, expressing satisfaction that the $10 million he agreed to forfeit would be available if he ever failed to appear for court proceedings.” That means Manafort is now free to flee by submarine or fake his own death – and he has many friends in the Russian mafia state perhaps still even now to assist in an exfiltration. Will he end up eventually in Rostov beside his old friend Yanukovych, also in exile, or some Caribbean island wearing a disguise? Reuters adds, “In her order, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said to be released from home confinement, Manafort must execute documents agreeing to forfeit four properties, including two in New York, one in Alexandria, Virginia, and his Florida home.” Reuters notes, “He will be subject to restrictions including a curfew and electronic GPS monitoring but will be allowed to leave his home in Alexandria for his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, once he meets the conditions.” Reuters reports, “In case the forfeited properties do not raise $10 million, the judge said, Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, has deposited $5 million in an account and his daughter Andrea Manafort Shand, $2 million in a separate account, to make up any difference. The assets cannot be touched without a court order. Once in Florida, Manafort must stay within the area, unless he is traveling to Washington for court appearances or meetings with counsel, according to the order. He needs permission for any other domestic travel and cannot leave the country.” Any accommodation is bullshit. Think of the 100 dead in Maidan should you object or find this objective assessment to be wanting in terms of understanding just how dangerous this man is.
YOU GOTTA FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARTY
The Daily Mail reports, “One of the two Trump campaign aides charged in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe is stepping up his legal fight to clear his name with friends holding a fundraiser for him next week – in a calculated gesture of Republican defiance at the special counsel. Rick Gates is having a pre-Christmas fundraiser held to help pay for lawyers to fight federal charges brought against him by Mueller.” The Daily Mail notes, “The event is being held next Tuesday in Arlington, Virginia, with a goal of raising $250,000 for the ‘Defending American Rights Legal Fund’ which will benefit the political consultant.” The Daily Mail adds, “GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman, who is hosting Gates’ fundraiser, said he expects a crowd of around 150 DC movers and shakers to attend including members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, fellow lobbyists, lawyers and defense contractors.” Why no Russian agents or do they have their own separate fund?
From The Daily Mail.
ON DECK: TRUMP ASSOCIATES FELIX SATER + PA RHONA GRAFF
CNN reports, “In addition to [Trump associate Felix] Sater and [Trump personal assistant Rhona] Graff, the [House intelligence committee] panel plans to interview two of its colleagues next week — GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, who has friendly ties with Russia, and Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, which last year paid a law firm that retained Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Trump-Russia dossier.”
REMEMBER CRAZY REP JIM JORDAN AT THE ROSENSTEIN HEARINGS?
POLITICO reports, “A Republican on the House Judiciary Committee said Saturday he’s gotten a commitment from Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to subpoena top officials at the FBI and Justice Department in their ongoing inquiry into claims of bias against President Donald Trump.” Is this a joke? They are acting as if Trump is some “Black identity extremist”. POLITICO notes, “Republicans have zeroed in on FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, top counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, FBI attorney Lisa Page, and former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie, who reportedly worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled opposition research on Trump in 2016.” Recall the goal is to discredit and sideline the investigation, buttress the failing authoritarian regime and deprive the American people of any actual truth while getting us to settle on a bunch of specious “alternative facts”.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
THE GOP DEATH CULT’S KREMLIN CASH
The Dallas Morning News reports, “Buried in the campaign finance reports available to the public are some troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to President Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders.” The Dallas Morning News notes one “example is Len Blavatnik, a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen and one of the largest donors to GOP political action committees in the 2015-16 election cycle. Blavatnik’s family emigrated to the U.S. in the late ’70s from the U.S.S.R. and he returned to Russia when the Soviet Union began to collapse in the late ’80s. Data from the Federal Election Commission show that Blavatnik’s campaign contributions dating back to 2009-10 were fairly balanced across party lines and relatively modest for a billionaire. During that season he contributed $53,400. His contributions increased to $135,552 in 2011-12 and to $273,600 in 2013-14, still bipartisan. In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik’s political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.” The Dallas Morning News draws the line to the Manafort world of Russian oligarchs as “Oleg Deripaska is said to be one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs, and he is founder and majority shareholder of Russia’s Rusal, the second-largest aluminum company in the world. Blavatnik holds a stake in Rusal with a business partner.” The Dallas Morning News recalls an AP report of earlier this year that stated, “Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, began collecting $10 million a year in 2006 from Deripaska to advance Putin’s interests with Western governments.” Manafort offered Deripaska private briefings of the Trump campaign when he was managing it just two weeks before the convention last year. Blavatnik is also tied to Viktor Vekselberg with whom he “co-founded the Renova Group for large-scale investments in energy, infrastructure, aluminum and other metals,” in 1990. Three Americans tied to Vekselberg and Blavatnik and their contributions warrant scrutiny: Andrew Intrater, Alexander Shustorovich and Simon Kukes. The Dallas Morning News reports, “In total, Blavatnik, Intrater, Shustorovich and Kukes made $10.4 million in political contributions from the start of the 2015-16 election cycle through September 2017, and 99 percent of their contributions went to Republicans.”
From The Dallas Morning News.
CYPRUS, THE ISLAND TO GET YOUR MONEY LAUNDERED
The Dallas Morning News reports, “Cyprus has a long history as a laundromat for dirty money, particularly from Russia,” while noting, “the cast of characters linked to the bank and President Donald Trump is troubling.” Then the Dallas Morning News revisits some of these characters, so shall we TRUMPISTAN WATCHians?
– Oleg Deripaska, the founder of Russian aluminum giant Rusal: Deripaska “began paying Paul Manafort $10 million a year in 2006 to act as a secret emissary for Russian President Vladimir Putin with Western governments,” paying Manafort “through the Bank of Cyprus.”
– Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, Trump’s former campaign manager and business associate: “Manafort and his partner, Rick Gates, had at least 15 accounts at the Bank of Cyprus and a bank that it took over in 2013, Cyprus Popular Bank,” and “Mueller’s 12-count indictment against Manafort and Gates charged the two men with money laundering and conspiracy against the United States.”
– Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary: “Ross led a group of U.S. and European investors to purchase a $1.3 billion stake in Bank of Cyprus in July 2014 when the bank was on the verge of failing. This investment bought Ross the largest ownership share in the bank, 17 percent, and the vice chairmanship. Ross was co-chair of the bank from 2014 until early 2017 when he relinquished his position to join Trump’s cabinet.”
– Vladimir Strzhalovsky, “a former KGB agent and long-time associate of Putin”: “Ross’s first co-chair” at the Bank of Cyprus.
– Maksim Goldman, “director of strategic projects at Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova Group,” also sits on the board of Deripaska’s Rusal, took over as co-chair of the Bank of Cyprus from Strzhalovsky.
– Viktor Vekselberg, “one of the richest men in Russia”: holds the majority stake in Bank of Cyprus, “9.3 percent stake as of early 2017”.
– Dmitry Rybolovlev, “Russia’s ‘Fertilizer King’”: owns a 3.3 percent stake in the Bank of Cyprus. “Rybolovlev purchased Trump’s mega mansion in Palm Beach for $95 million, which allowed Trump to more than double his $41 million investment in the property in four years. The timing of the purchase was essentially a Trump rescue package Trump was suing Deutsche Bank, his one remaining creditor, to try to avoid repaying a $40 million real estate loan. He lost.”
– Josef Ackermann, “chief executive of Deutsche Bank from 2002 to 2012, replaced Ross as co-chair” of the Bank of Cyprus: “Like co-chair Goldman, Ackermann currently works for Viktor Vekselberg. He joined the board of Vekselberg’s Zurich-based holding company, Renova Management AG, in 2014 to manage Renova’s international assets.”
The Dallas Morning News notes, “After being blackballed by U.S. banks for failure to pay his loans, Trump turned to Deutsche Bank for liquidity. Deutsche Bank is estimated to have loaned Trump as much as $3 billion since the 1990s. Trump’s financial disclosures show that he has $364 million in loans from the bank that will mature in 2024. On December 5, German newspaper Handelsblatt broke the news that Deutsche Bank received a subpoena from Robert Mueller for bank records.” The Dallas Morning News adds, “Deutsche Bank’s Moscow office was run by Andrey Kostin Jr. until 2011 when he died in an ATV crash in a forest in northern Russia. Kostin’s father, Andrey Kostin Sr., is chief executive of VTB, the second largest state-controlled bank in Russia that is currently under U.S. sanctions.” The Dallas Morning News recalls a recent Guardian report, that noted, “Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire in Silicon Valley, used to fund a major stake in Twitter in 2011 through his investment fund, DST. Milner also channeled $920 million into Facebook funded by the investment arm of Russia’s state-controlled gas monopoly, Gazprom. The money was transferred from Gazprom to DST through an offshore company in the Isle of Man, Kanton Services. The investment by Gazprom funded $1 billion worth of Facebook shares.” The Dallas Morning News concludes, “Yuri Milner also invested $850,000 of his personal funds into a real estate startup, Cadre, which Jared Kushner co-owns with his brother. Kushner failed to disclose his association with Cadre when he joined the Trump White House.”
From The Dallas Morning News.
SBERBANK CEO HERMAN GREF NAMES GOOGLE, AMAZON AS COMPETITORS
Russian state-run TASS reports, “CEO of Russia’s top lender Sberbank, Herman Gref, named Google and Amazon the bank’s competitors due to the interest those companies have to financial services.” That sort of makes no sense but is an interesting straw man nonetheless. Here is the meat: “According to Gref, the year 2018 will be a watershed for those biggest world companies, and their interests to financial services would be evident,” Russian state-run TASS reports. Naturally and keeping in line with other aspects of the America operation, Gref said, “Thus, our strategy would be not to defend, but to attack.” Do not say you were not warned.
From Russian state-run TASS.
FOX NEWS MISUSES THE C-WORD
The Washington Post reports on “Saturday night, Fox suggested that the Mueller probe might be ‘a coup in America.’” First of all, they missed the earlier two! Hello! TRUMPISTAN WATCH is here for that! But first, it is important to note that in America, when an actual coup occurs, it is in everything but name only. So, the fact that someone used the word should be a major red flag that it is being misused by a political hack. By TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s count there was the cyber/disinfo promulgated November 9, 2016 coup and then a second soft coup in August when several belligerents were forced from the National Security Council and the White House by a newly installed General Kelly. While you do not have to agree that these were proper coups, if they happened in say Kenya, Russia or elsewhere, you might be inclined to use the c-word. Several reasonable people objected to this faux news Fox News use of the word c-word on Twitter as well because of course that is what happens nowadays and you are still supposed to care that it does because Twitter reporting is still easier than picking up the phone, which is hard nowadays.
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP’S CDC HAS DECIDED TO BAN USEFUL WORDS THEY DON’T LIKE
The Washington Post reports, “The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including ‘fetus’ and ‘transgender’ — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.” Isn’t this normally the sort of thing reserved for some ayatollahs elsewhere in the world? The Washington Post adds, “Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are ‘vulnerable,’ ‘entitlement,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘evidence-based’ and ‘science-based.’” So none of these things exist now that the Great Lunatic has banned them from his alternative fact-based kingdom. Of course, this being the same people who brought us lies called “alternative facts,” The Washington Post notes, “In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases.”
From The Washington Post.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
IN MEMORIAM: KAZIMIERZ PIECHOWSKI, DARING ESCAPE FROM AUSCHWITZ
Agence France Presse reports, “Polish Holocaust survivor Kazimierz Piechowski, who spectacularly escaped Auschwitz by stealing the car of a Nazi SS officer, died on Friday aged 98, the state Institute for National Remembrance (INR) said. Piechowski, who became prisoner number 918 when he was deported to the infamous death camp in 1940, escaped two years later with three fellow prisoners in one of the most daring escape efforts of World War II.” Agence France Presse notes, “Piechowski and the three others managed to escape after stealing uniforms and guns of officers belonging to the Nazis’ feared SS branch and hijacking the Steyr 220 convertible belonging to camp commander Rudolf Hoess.” Agence France Presse adds, “After escaping, Piechowski joined a Polish resistance group and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after the war’s end by the communist authorities.” Agence France Presse reports, “Piechowski died Friday in the Polish port city of Gdansk.”
From Agence France Presse.
*NEW* MERCH: TRUMPISTAN WATCH shop.
SUBSCRIBE: e-mail TrumpistanWatch@gmail.com with “TRUMPISTAN WATCH” in the subject line to receive the weekday e-mail newsletter.