—–ON THE AGENDA—–
FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR ON THE HILL SO GOP CAN HARP ON ABOUT HILLARY
The Washington Examiner reports, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will be on Capitol Hill again to testify behind closed doors on Thursday, when he will likely be asked questions about the now-closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.” Reminder: Hillary Clinton is not our president. The Washington Examiner notes, “The Department of Justice told the chairmen and ranking members of both the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees in a Wednesday letter that McCabe will be available for transcribed interviews, according to a House aide. McCabe’s testimony will be classified,” but you can expect leaks to far right and conspiracy theory media because you, TRUMPISTAN WATCHians, know how this game is played.
From The Washington Examiner.
GOP TAX SCAM ENSURES PLUTOCRATIC RULE THAT WILL CRASH ECONOMY
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump was so excited about passing his first major piece of legislation Wednesday that he blurted out that the Republican Party had misrepresented the entire bill, handing Democrats some potentially troublesome talking points for the 2018 midterm elections.” What’s that? Well, “Speaking at the White House just before the House prepared to sign off on the tax-cuts bill one last time, Trump reveled extensively in his win before turning things over to Vice President Pence to heap praise upon him continuously for a few minutes,” The Washington Post notes. However, “along the way, Trump basically admitted that the GOP’s talking points on the bill weren’t exactly honest in two major ways,” adding, “While talking about the corporate tax rate being cut from 35 percent to 21 percent, Trump said, ‘That’s probably the biggest factor in our plan.’” Wait it’s not about the Trumpenproletariat? Shock! Then, “Trump’s second admission was about the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate being repealed in the bill,” as Trump “argued that repealing the individual mandate was basically the same as repealing Obamacare. But, he said, he told Republicans not to talk about that. Trump said he told allies to ‘be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it.’” He is quite the experienced scammer, just rather unaccustomed to scrutiny it seems. As The Washington Post observes, “President Trump, who won the White House on a wave of populist promises, will likely save millions of dollars, thanks to Congress’s approval of a tax plan he pledged was designed for the middle class.” Periodic reminder: the goal of Russian style active measures is to capture the state, so foreign policy, defense and – critically – the economy.
TRUMP’S TELEVIZED CABINET MEETING THIRD WORLD PAGEANTRY
CNN reports in a story headlined, “Mike Pence to Donald Trump: I love you, man,” that, “In his final Cabinet meeting of 2017, President Donald Trump touted the many historic accomplishments Donald Trump had ushered in during his first year in office. He then turned over the floor to Vice President Mike Pence to talk more about Donald Trump’s greatness.” These were never televised before Trump and furthermore, they never involved extolling the virtues of the Great Lunatic before.
WHITE HOUSE KNEW IN JANUARY FLYNN LIKELY BROKE THE LAW
Foreign Policy reports, “The White House turned over records this fall to special counsel Robert Mueller revealing that in the very first days of the Trump presidency, Don McGahn researched federal law dealing both with lying to federal investigators and with violations of the Logan Act, a centuries-old federal law that prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments”. Foreign Policy adds, “The records reflected concerns that McGahn, the White House counsel, had that Michael Flynn, then the president’s national security advisor, had possibly violated either one or both laws at the time, according to two of the sources. The disclosure that these records exist and that they are in the possession of the special counsel could bolster any potential obstruction of justice case against President Donald Trump.” Foreign Policy notes McGahn “researched both statutes and warned Trump about Flynn’s possible violations.”
From Foreign Policy.
MCMASTER REFUTES TRUMP IS PUTIN’S PUPPET
Here is one that is so not normal! The Washington Examiner reports, “White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster on Tuesday refuted a former Obama administration official’s claim that President Trump is being manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.” “‘That’s just not true,’ McMaster told CBS News’ ‘This Morning.’” Whatever. He knows better.
From The Washington Examiner.
SENATOR WARNER WARNS TRUMP AGAINST FIRING MUELLER
CSPAN reports, “Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) warned President Trump against firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, saying it would precipitate a constitutional crisis. He also condemned attacks on the special counsel and his Russia probe.” CNBC adds, “Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said on Wednesday that he is concerned about a ‘growing chorus of irresponsible and reckless’ voices that are calling for an end to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president’s ties to Russia. Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor that ‘in recent weeks those voices seem to be growing in stridency and volume.’” CNN notes Warner “called for Congress to respond with “significant consequences” if President Donald Trump took that step,” so good luck, Trumpistan in recovering America if that is the case. He also said – horror of horrors – “red lines”! No one in 2017 should be using Obama’s failed rhetoric against Syrian leader Bashar al Assad to indicate strength, but the fact that anyone is should give us all pause if we think it could never happen here.
DARKNESS AT NUNES LEADS PLOT TO INVESTIGATE FBI, DOJ OVER DOSSIER
POLITICO reports, “A group of House Republicans has gathered secretly for weeks in the Capitol in an effort to build a case that senior leaders of the Justice Department and FBI improperly — and perhaps criminally — mishandled the contents of a dossier that describes alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia”. POLITICO adds, “A subset of the Republican members of the House intelligence committee, led by Chairman Devin Nunes of California, has been quietly working parallel to the committee’s high-profile inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. They haven’t informed Democrats about their plans, but they have consulted with the House’s general counsel.” Guess what their planning? This is not hard at this stage. POLITICO reports, “The people familiar with Nunes’ plans said the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement. The group hopes to release a report early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence,” which will invariably be cherry picked to make the orange Russian bullshit fake president look somehow less guilty or muddy the truth so that we, the stupid American people, never catch on to the scam or the truth. POLITICO warns, “That final product could ultimately be used by Republicans to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether any Trump aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign — or possibly even to justify his dismissal, as some rank-and-file Republicans and Trump allies have demanded.” Horrible.
KT MCFARLAND’S AMBASSADORSHIP TO SINGAPORE A TRUMP TRAINWRECK
CNN reports, “President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the ambassador to Singapore could be derailed in the Senate amid questions about whether she properly disclosed to Congress her communications with former national security adviser Michael Flynn”. Regardless, it’s not happening by the end of the year and hopefully not ever.
US SANCTIONS FIVE RUSSIANS INCLUDING CHECHEN LEADER KADYROV
The AP reports, “The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five Russians, including the leader of Chechnya, under a U.S. human rights law,” the Magnitsky Act, “that has been a major irritant between Washington and Moscow.” The AP notes, “All told, the U.S. has targeted 49 Russians under that law.” The AP adds, “The latest additions include Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim republic in southern Russia. The Treasury Department said Kadyrov oversaw ‘disappearances and extrajudicial killings’ and that he’s believed to have ordered the killing of one of his political rivals. The rival had accused Kadyrov of personally carrying out torture.” The AP notes, “The sanctions freeze any assets the individuals may have in the United States, and also bar Americans from doing any business with them.” CNBC lists, “The five people added to the sanctions list include Alexei Sheshenya, Yulia Mayorova, Andrei Pavlov, Ramzan Kadyrov and Ayub Kataev. Sheshenya, Mayorova, and Pavlov were involved in the large-scale tax fraud scheme uncovered by Magnitsky, according to the Treasury Department. Kadyrov and Kataev are responsible for ‘gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,’ the department said.”
US OK’S UKRAINE TO BUY ARMS, RUSSIAN CEASE FIRE GROUP WITHDRAWAL
CNN reports, “The Trump administration is now allowing the export of arms to Ukraine, marking a potentially significant turn against Russia. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the department notified Congress on December 13 that it had approved an export license, which allows Ukraine to buy certain light weapons and small arms from US manufacturers.” CNN adds, “The news of the decision to allow arms exports to Ukraine broke as the Treasury Department announced sanctions under the Magnitsky Act against five individuals for alleged human rights abuses in Russia.” CNN notes, “Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to reports that the US and Canada have decided to allow weapons exports to Ukraine by accusing Washington and Ottawa of making false claims about the conflict in Ukraine as a ‘pretext to begin large-scale lethal weapons deliveries to Ukraine.’” At the same time, Reuters reports, “Ukrainian officials, security monitors and Kiev’s foreign backers warned on Wednesday that Moscow’s decision to withdraw from a Ukrainian-Russian ceasefire control group could worsen the fighting in eastern Ukraine.” Reuters adds, “On Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said it was recalling officers serving at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) in Ukraine, accusing the Ukrainian side of obstructing their work and limiting access to the front line.” JCCC is ostensibly comprised of Russian and Ukrainian troops who theoretically work together to ensure the safety and security of the OSCE’S Special Monitoring Mission, the observers of the conflict.
UKRAINIAN OLIGARCH DMYTRO FIRTASH EXTRADITION ON HOLD
The AP reports, “A lawyer for a Ukrainian oligarch charged in an international bribery case says an Austrian court has put his client’s extradition on hold. Dan Webb filed a letter with the information Wednesday in Chicago federal court, where Dymitro Firtash is accused of a conspiracy to pay bribes to mine in India.” The AP notes, “Firtash has business ties to President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and has denied wrongdoing.” Recall, “Firtash was arrested in Austria in 2014 and is free on bail.”
From the AP.
RUSSIA MAY FORCE MORE FOREIGN MEDIA TO REGISTER AS FOREIGN AGENTS
Reuters reports, “Russia may decide to designate any media as ‘foreign agents’ if they are financed by a foreign state or citizen, or by a Russian organization that gets foreign financing, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday.” Reuters notes that recently past legislation, “So far” was “exclusively used to label media sponsored by the U.S. authorities as foreign agents, but the new regulation would appear to go further.”
100 YEARS OF THE CHEKA
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Maria Alyokhina, a member of the punk protest band Pussy Riot, has been detained while staging a protest at the headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the feared Soviet secret police. Police detained Alyokhina on December 20 after she unfurled a banner reading ‘Happy Birthday, Executioners’ at an entrance to the FSB building on Moscow’s Lubyanka Square, she and fellow protester Olga Borisova said. Alyokhina could be jailed for up to 15 days for the demonstration.” Recall, “Officers and employees of the FSB are informally known as ‘chekists’ after the Cheka, the secret police organization that was created by ‘Iron Feliks’ Dzerzhinsky in 1917 and preceded the dictator Josef Stalin’s NKVD, the KGB, and post-Soviet Russia’s FSB,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, adding, “Speaking at a ceremony in Moscow to mark the event, President Vladimir Putin, a longtime KGB officer and former FSB chief, said the creation of the Cheka was ‘an inseparable part of our history’ and praised the members of security services as ‘true statesmen and patriots,’” which is a sinister thing to call an instrument of state terror that murdered millions of your fellow countrymen and individuals in occupied nations. The Times of London adds, “The director of Russia’s FSB security service has suggested that the country’s spies should take pride in its origins, all the way back to the secret policemen who organised Lenin’s Red Terror. In an interview to coincide with the centenary of the establishment of the Cheka, Lenin’s secret police, Alexander Bortnikov, emphasised the heroic side of their exploits,” because mass murder is heroic to these butchers if you think not too hard about it. What a cheery fellow! The Moscow Times has a by topic roundup on Bortnikov’s interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
INSIDE TRUMP’S RUSH TO CRAM THE JUDICIARY WITH HACKS
The Washington Post reports, “In their push to fill scores of vacancies on federal circuit and district courts at the historic pace demanded by Trump, White House officials have overlooked vulnerabilities in the backgrounds of some nominees. Critics allege that White House counsel Donald McGahn, who is overseeing the process, has sacrificed traditional qualifications for ideological purity and youth.” Who else did this? As embarrassing as “the downfalls of three nominees — Jeff Mateer, Matthew Petersen and Brett Talley — are” they are “also aberrations in what has been a quiet yet undeniable success for Trump: a year-long drive to permanently alter the judiciary by nominating and confirming conservative jurists to lifetime appointments on the federal bench.” It is scary shit. According to The Washington Post, “The president has told advisers that he is focused on three main criteria: that his nominees be young (in most cases under age 50, and preferably under 40), conservative and strict constitutionalists,” which is code for racist and indifferent to the rights of women and other minorities. The Washington Post notes, “Remaking the judiciary is arguably the most ideological project of Trump’s presidency. The campaign to fill court vacancies has been led by McGahn, who has deep roots in the conservative movement, and he has a willing partner in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).” They are all terrible people.
From The Washington Post.
HUMAN RIGHTS ACCOUNTABILITY GLOBAL INITIATIVE IN FOCUS
Bloomberg reports, “the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative (HRAGI), offers a window into Russian efforts to influence U.S. politics before the presidential election. It was financed by $500,000 in donations, mostly from wealthy Russians with ties to Petr Katsyv, deputy director of Russian Railways and a longtime acquaintance of Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. Rather than a nonprofit helping unite Americans with Russian adoptees, the foundation was a lobbying vehicle against sanctions.” Rinat Akhmetshin, the lobbyist involved in the now infamous June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting, acted as its director and at least one woman fraught over Russia’s adoption ban who met him and discussed the weirdly titled entity with him understood immediately that adoptions were not “their primary agenda”. Bloomberg adds, “The foundation’s website shows pictures of hugging families, but most of its pages have been ‘under construction’ since its inception in 2016. Its Washington address was a building hosting several hundred small organizations and businesses. By setting up a U.S. nonprofit, the foundation effectively concealed its sources of financing, which may have required registering as a foreign agent. The foundation hired high-powered lobbyists such as former Representative Ron Dellums of California to push for repeal of the Magnitsky Act.”
ZAPAD WAS RUSSIA SIMULATING WAR AGAINST NATO
The Times of London reports, “Russian military exercises conducted in September were intended to simulate a war against Nato, including the capture of Baltic states and the bombing of countries in western Europe. Russia said that the Zapad (West) war exercises aimed to train Russia’s defensive capabilities and described them as an anti-terrorism operation.” The Times, citing a report in German tabloid Bild, notes, “However, analysts believe that the drills were also designed to rehearse an all-out conventional war against Nato in Europe. They said the manoeuvres practised the capture of Baltic states, as well as a campaign against Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway and the neutral nations of Sweden and Finland to prevent a military response by Nato”.
From The Times of London.
AS AMERICA IS CANCELLED EVERYONE LOOKS TO RUSSIA: PALESTINE REDUX
Haaretz reports, “As part of Palestinian efforts to find an international alternative to American mediation efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Palestinian Authority is aiming to get Russia more actively involved.” Of course. Haaretz reports, “Nabil Sha’ath, the Fatah official responsible for foreign relations and adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, met Tuesday in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and discussed U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration two weeks ago recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” As one Palestinian official put it, “There’s no doubt the Russia’s involvement in the region has become more significant and dominant and Israel can’t ignore it. Anyone who doesn’t see that the United States is actually abandoning the Middle East while the Russians are more involved is blind”. Haaretz adds, “Abbas, meanwhile, is flying Thursday to Paris, where he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in an effort to recruit him to an international effort to respond to the Trump declaration.” Haaretz notes, “Abbas will arrive in Paris after meetings in Saudi Arabia with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. A Palestinian source close to Abbas said the meetings in Riyadh had been requested by the Saudis in the wake of Trump’s declaration. The Palestinian leadership is refusing to meet with Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is in Israel meeting with Israeli officials.”
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS FOUNDATION TO STOP FUNDING WIKILEAKS
The Washington Times reports, “A non-profit created in response to the banking blockade against WikiLeaks plans to stop funding the secret-spilling website following more than five years of facilitating donations.” What took so long? It’s obvious Julian is completely odious Kremlin Scum. The Washington Times adds, “The Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) is slated to sever ties with WikiLeaks next month, ending its stint as surrogate for individuals wishing to fund the site in spite of being blacklisted in 2010 by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal.” According to The Washington Times, “‘the financial blockade by the major payment processors is no longer in effect, and as such, we will soon cease processing donations on behalf of WikiLeaks readers,’ Trevor Timm, the foundation’s director, wrote in a Dec. 9 email to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.” Remember, Julian is a bit like Trump, everything he touches turns to shit and all patina is gone forever. As noted by The Washington Times, “The partnership is poised to dissolve Jan. 8, at which point WikiLeaks will lose its longtime intermediary and look toward the likes of foreign proxies and cryptocurrencies for additional income, lest it risk repeating the banking blockade that previously decimated the website’s cash reserves.” The Washington Times notes, “The FPF board that voted unanimously to stop processing payments for WikiLeaks is composed of Mr. Timm, Mr. Snowden, Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow, actor John Cusack, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Glenn Greenwald, technologist Micah Lee, filmmaker Laura Poitras and activist Rainey Reitman.” All of them wear the Julian stain too now, sadly. However, as The Washington Times adds, “Half a decade after forming in response to the banking blockade, the FPF’s efforts have expanded over the years past simply channeling donations to WikiLeaks,” and now include some very reputable organizations TRUMPISTAN WATCH hopes will not turn into destructive Kremlin proxies, including, “MuckRock and the National Security Archive, and it currently provides digital security training to journalists and pursues Freedom of Information Act lawsuits on their behalf, among other endeavors.”
From The Washington Times.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
BASIC ACCOUNTABILITY IS UNDERGOING MAINTENANCE
The Washington Post reports, “The White House has taken down a popular online tool created by President Barack Obama’s administration that allowed the public to create online petitions, some of which required an official response. All of the petitions, including one that called on President Trump to release his tax returns — the most popular, with more than a million signatures — disappeared from Petitions.WhiteHouse.Gov”. There was “a statement posted on the site” that “said was part of a maintenance effort to improve its performance.” Which means in dictator speak that for sure the one demanding Trump release his tax returns will not reappear ever. Recall, “The site was launched by the Obama White House in 2011 as part of an effort to give people a resource to lobby the government for legislation and other changes, however limited. It has been a subject of fascination for years, due to the varied and colorful nature of the many pleas on the site, as well as the requirement that the White House respond when petitions receive more than 100,000 digital signatures.” It was 10,000 but then clever Americans wanted a Death Star. And here we are. We got our death star after all.
From The Washington Post.
NOW COMPETING WITH PAMELA ANDERSON IN SELLING SELF TO RUSSIA
The Daily Mail reports, “Lindsay Lohan is heading back across the Atlantic after spending some rare quality time in the USA for the holidays. The star, 31 – who is now based in Dubai – made a bold fashion statement while leaving JFK airport in New York on her way to her home in the Middle East on Wednesday. The actress arrived for the mid-morning flight wearing a faded red hat with RUSSIA written upon it in block letters.” So they own her too now? Dubai is a perfect place to luxuriate on the dime of Russian oligarchs and those who cling to them for money, protection, legitimacy and other services. She seems sad.
From The Daily Mail.
IN MEMORIAM: ARSENY BORISOVICH ROGINSKY (1946-2017)
The National Security Archive reports on “the passing this week of our dear friend, colleague, and inspirational partner Arseny Borisovich Roginsky, a founder and leader of the Memorial Society in Moscow. Memorial’s Web site announced his death from cancer on December 18, at age 71.” As the National Security Archive notes, “Arseny Roginsky was born in political exile in the small northern town of Velsk, Russia, where his family was sent after his father’s conviction during Stalinist purges. Boris Roginsky was soon arrested again and died in the camps in 1951. Thus, the greatest historian and guardian of public memory of repression in Russia was born into that history.” The National Security Archive notes, “A dedicated archivist, Roginsky started collecting his own archive of repressions in the early 1970s and began publishing a samizdat journal ‘Pamyat’ (Memory).” The National Security Archives adds, “In 1981, he was arrested and charged with using fake documents to work in the archives, and sentenced to 4 years in the camps, where he served his full term. Upon his release, Roginsky passionately engaged with the spirit of perestroika, sharing with new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev the idea – indeed the necessity – to fill in the ‘blank spots of history,’ those that had been erased by the Communist Party. In 1988, he co-founded the Memorial Society, which took a leading role in the recovery of history, the commemoration of victims, and the defense of human rights during the final years of the Soviet Union and in the new Russian Federation.”
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