—–ON THE AGENDA—–
REBUTTAL TO DARKNESS AT NUNES MEMO VOTE PLANNED
CBS News reports, “Exactly one week after Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines for the public release of their own contentious memo on alleged surveillance abuses, Democrats on the Committee will be angling to have a 10-page rebuttal memo made public as well. The Committee has scheduled a business meeting at 5 p.m. Monday for ‘consideration of the public disclosure of executive session material, pursuant to House Rule X, clause 11(g),’ which is the same rule under which the GOP memo was released.”
From CBS News.
TRUMP ATTACKS FBI, DOJ AHEAD OF DARKNESS AT NUNES MEMO RELEASE
CNN reports, “President Donald Trump positioned himself squarely against the leadership of the FBI and Department of Justice on Friday ahead of the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools, claiming the government agencies ‘politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans.’” That’s why he won? CNN notes, “Trump, by accusing the leadership of having a bias against Republicans, is once again maligning people he appointed to their roles, including FBI Director Christopher Wray”. CNN adds, “The President’s tweet also ignores the fact that many senior people involved in the investigation, including Wray, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Comey, are all longtime Republicans.” As The Washington Post notes, “specious as the attack on the FBI might be, there is good cause to fear that it is resonating with the only audience that matters to Trump.” That’s because, “The case against the FBI that’s being assembled by Trump and his minions is not designed to convince dispassionate observers. It’s only supposed to give the thinnest of cover to true believers — and at least 34 senators — to do what they are predisposed to do anyway, i.e., protect the president at all costs.” This is despite the fact that “it’s not clear why the FBI — full of white, middle-age, conservative agents — would want to frame a Republican president.”
TRUMP PREFERS THE ADVICE OF SEAN HANNITY TO THE FBI
The Daily Beast reports, “Trump has been in regular contact with Hannity over the phone in recent weeks, as the Fox News prime-time star and Trump ally has encouraged the prompt release of a controversial four-page memo crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. Hannity has gone to the wall to push for the public release of the memo, which the intelligence panel and its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), authorized this week in a party-line vote despite the classified information therein.” Now recall, Julian Assange and Hannity seem to have a regular dialogue going. Count the agents of Russian influence around or near the president. According to The Daily Beast, “Hannity’s persistent advocacy reinforced Trump’s already growing determination to get that memo into the public realm—despite huge potential fallout within the law enforcement and intelligence arms of his own administration.”
From The Daily Beast.
DARKNESS AT NUNES’ MEMO DOING PUTIN’S WORK FOR HIM RELEASED
POLITICO reports, “Republicans on Capitol Hill, backed by an angry President Donald Trump, defied pleas from the FBI and Democrats Friday and released a previously classified memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating Trump’s presidential campaign.” Before this thing was released, POLITICO recalls, “Republicans say the memo exposes anti-Trump bias among top law enforcement officials who helped launch a federal probe into whether the Kremlin infiltrated Trump’s campaign team. Democrats and former law enforcement and intelligence officials counter that the GOP is playing partisan politics with secret intelligence and distorting facts of the Trump-Russia investigation.” On Friday, Trump “fumed” over the damn thing to reporters in the Oval Office, “I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,” not realizing of course the disgrace that has brought us here is him, adding, “A lot of people should be ashamed.” Again, the concept of shame escaped him personally (and many of the reporters who made such a big deal of the memo and Trump over two years – to them, it is rural America’s fault). So this is pretty classic dictator stuff, claims of political persecution and victimization by opponents while power is consolidated and institutions are obliterated. In this case, the fake Russian puppet president goes after investigative actors, not political ones, most all of whom are Republicans, in this case. POLITICO notes, “FBI Director Chris Wray, a Trump appointee, opposed the memo’s release. In a rare public statement released Wednesday, the FBI expressed ‘grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.’
SO WHAT’S IN THE DARKNESS AT NUNES MEMO
POLITICO reports, “Specifically, the document alleges that the FBI relied on a private intelligence dossier compiled by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, in its initial Oct. 21, 2016 application for a warrant to monitor the communications of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Steele had been retained by Fusion GPS, a research firm hired by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee to find dirt on Trump. The memo charges that FBI agents improperly failed to disclose that Steele’s work had Democratic funding and that Steele had openly expressed dislike for Trump.” Furthermore, POLITICO adds, “The memo also asserts that FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee in December that FBI would not have sought a warrant to spy on Page without the information in the dossier, which alleged that Page had plotted in 2016 with Russia’s top oil executive to influence U.S. foreign policy for a massive profit. The dossier was also cited in several applications for 90-day renewals of the warrant on Page, a former energy executive who has given shifting accounts of a summer 2016 trip he took to Moscow while advising Trump’s campaign. Three of the applications to monitor Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, were approved by former FBI Director James Comey and one by his deputy and successor, McCabe. Those applications were also approved by several other top Justice Department officials — including Sally Yates, a deputy attorney general in the Obama administration who briefly served as acting attorney general in January 2017; Dana Boente, who succeeded Yates; and Rod Rosenstein, who was confirmed to be Deputy Attorney General in March and who currently supervises special counsel Robert Mueller. Each of those applications was subsequently approved by a federal judge.” Recall, Carter Page is the man with the most obvious tell in the world, whose Russian intelligence recruiters were caught and thrown out of the country in 2014, the cause for a prior FISA warrant against Carter Page. POLITICO notes, “The FBI has argued that the memo mischaracterizes underlying intelligence and omits facts about evidence the bureau used to obtain its FISA warrants to spy on Page.” While, “Most of the memo’s findings had been leaked in the weeks leading up to its release,” POLITICO adds, “one unexpected aspect was its apparent confirmation of a December New York Times report that the FBI first launched its Russia investigation in July 2016 after an intelligence alert related to Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulous — not from the findings of the dossier”.
SO WHAT’S THE POLITICAL PURPOSE OF THE DARKNESS AT NUNES MEMO?
POLITICO notes the point of all of this is effectively what “Trump critics fear,” namely that, “he’ll invoke the memo to undermine Mueller’s ongoing investigation, which has crept into Trump’s inner circle in recent weeks.” POLITICO continues, “Democrats and FBI allies also fear Republicans will wield the memo against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last year after Trump fired Comey. Trump has long been wary of Rosenstein, whom the memo says played a role in reauthorizing the Page warrant in 2017 — shortly after he was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate.” However, if read properly and acted upon with some strategic thought, this can prove of great political benefit to the Democrats and those opposed to Trump transforming our country into a lawless mafia state.
WHAT’S THE COVFEFE THAT WILL HELP FUEL THE CONSPIRACIES?
The Washington Post runs through the “key takeaways” from this DARKNESS AT NUNES memo debacle, and some of them do not make sense or seem highly simplistic to those of us with an education who also happen to be rooted in rational thought and other forms of non-conspiratorial thinking. So put on your tinfoil hats! In this realm of the absurd where the Trumpistani elites function almost exclusively, The Washington Post correctly reports, “the key point of the memo” is that, “the FBI relying on a politically motivated document to spy on a U.S. citizen,” Carter Page. However, this is “vague. How much constitutes ‘an essential’ part of the application? The FBI officials have told my Post colleagues that the memo was far from the only piece of intel it used to get court permission to spy on Page.” Moving on! The Washington Post reports, “When BuzzFeed published this dossier in January 2017, we didn’t know who funded Steele’s work. We now know Democrats were, indirectly. A conservative publication hired the opposition research group Fusion GPS to get dirt on Trump during the GOP primaries. After Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign started paying Fusion GPS to continue the research. That’s when Fusion GPS hired Steele.” Now, “This memo alleges that the FBI and top Justice Department officials knew Democrats were funding the dossier but did not share that with the court that approved the original surveillance order or any of the four renewals.” The Washington Post asks, “Does who funded dossier really matter to the court? The company behind the dossier testified to Congress that Steele’s report isn’t fake, was not politically motivated and did not set out with the intention to smear Trump, least of all to find collusion.” Then, “The rest of the memo attempts to provide corollary evidence that Steele was not a reliable source for the FBI.” Additionally, “The memo also alleges Steele lied to the FBI about talking to Yahoo News and other media outlets,” but “It’s not immediately clear how this affects the information that made its way into the FISA warrant.” The Washington Post notes, “another reason Steele’s information can’t be trusted, House Republicans allege: He had it in for Trump,” and, “At the very end of the memo, its authors also mention FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were having an affair and texted frequently about the investigation, including exchanging pro-Clinton texts and expressing anti-Trump sentiments.”
From The Washington Post.
REACTIONS TO THE STUPID DARKNESS AT NUNES MEMO
POLITICO reports, “Comey himself weighed in on Twitter, calling the document ‘[d]ishonest and misleading’ and saying it had ‘destroyed trust with Intelligence Community damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.’” The FBI Agents Association said on Twitter, “FBI Special Agents have not, and will not, allow partisan politics to distract us from our solemn commitment to our mission.” Senator John McCain added, “If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.” Indeed! Pro-Trump stalwart Rep. Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy really tore apart Trump’s claim that the memo “totally vindicated” him on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, noting among other things that even though he “was pretty integrally involved in the drafting of it,” Gowdy notes, “the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower,” “The dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica,” to WikiLeaks, “The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos’ meeting in Great Britan,” and “It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice”. Gowdy concludes, “there’s going to be a Russia probe, even without the dossier.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH never imagined ever being in the position of being on the same side as Trey Gowdy on anything, ever. The world is standing on its head.
WRINKLE ON THE PAGE: HE BOASTED OF BEING A KREMLIN ADVISOR IN 2013
TIME reported on Saturday, in the wake of the over-hyped DARKNESS AT NUNES memo, “Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin in a letter”. TIME adds, “The letter, dated Aug. 25, 2013, was sent by Page to an academic press during a dispute over edits to an unpublished manuscript he had submitted for publication, according to an editor who worked with Page.”
EX-STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ON DARKNESS AT NUNES NEXT TURN
CBS News reports, “Former State Department official Victoria Nuland told CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation’ that the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was brought to the State Department’s attention in July of 2016, which then shared the information with the FBI.” CBS News continues, “‘He [Steele] passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was, ‘This is not in our purview,’ said Nuland, who served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs during the Obama administration.” The comments by Nuland, most famous for being the first known Obama era official the Russians used kompromat on in releasing an audio recording of her saying, “Fuck the EU,” while in Ukraine, come against the backdrop of the fact that “Nunes told Fox News on Friday that the committee has ‘concerns with a certain aspect of State Department involvement and have serious concerns about it.’”
From CBS News.
Programming note: for those not yet satiated by the coverage provided of the DARKNESS AT NUNES memo, there is more on Carter Page in KNOW YOUR ENEMY below and yet more on what kind of a disaster this is in the DISINFO WARS section. TRUMPISTAN WATCH did not want to pay attention to DARKNESS AT NUNES or his stupid memo because Russian trolls wanted the media too, but hey, look at us world, we have learned nothing from 2016 but our adversaries have learned so very much!
CIA DIRECTOR’S MEETING WITH RUSSIAN SPY CHIEFS CONFIRMED
CNN reports, “CIA Director Mike Pompeo did meet with the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, an official barred from entering the US under 2014 sanctions, as well as the head of Russia’s internal security agency, according to a US official”. CNN adds, “The official said Pompeo did not meet with the head of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency behind efforts to meddle in the 2016 US election. The CIA followed a multi-agency legal process to give access to Russian officials under sanctions”. Very reassuring! The U.S. government’s inter-agency process functions to clear Russian spy chiefs who are sanctioned into the country but not to sanction Russians involved in the 2016 America operation the fake Russian puppet president calls a “hoax”? How odd.
JUDGE RULES AGAINST RELEASING COMEY MEMOS FOR NOW
POLITICO reports, “A federal judge has rejected requests from news organizations to release memos of former FBI Director James Comey’s conversations with President Donald Trump, adding that publicizing the documents could harm special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on Friday sided with the Department of Justice after multiple news organizations, including CNN and USA Today, sued for the public release of Comey’s memos after their Freedom of Information Act requests were denied.”
K.T. MCFARLAND WITHDRAWS NAME AS U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SINGAPORE
Reuters reports, “K.T. McFarland, picked by President Donald Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to Singapore, withdrew from consideration for the job on Friday after her nomination became stalled in the U.S. Senate.” Reuters adds, “McFarland was on Trump’s presidential transition team and later appointed deputy national security adviser under Michael Flynn. Trump nominated McFarland last May to be the U.S. envoy to Singapore. When the U.S. Senate did not act on the nomination by the end of 2017 the White House resubmitted her nomination in early January.” However, “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in December that McFarland’s nomination had been delayed due to concerns about her testimony to Congress over communications with Russia.” Reuters notes, “McFarland had said in a written response to a question from Democratic Senator Cory Booker, a foreign relations committee member, that she was ‘not aware’ of communications between Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn and Sergei Kislyak, when Kislyak was ambassador to Russia. However, the New York Times reported early in December that it had obtained an email McFarland sent on Dec. 29, 2016, the day former President Barack Obama’s administration authorized new sanctions against Russia, saying Flynn would talk to Kislyak that evening.”
SENATOR WYDEN SEEKS DOCUMENTS ON RUSSIA + THE NRA
The AP reports, “A top Democrat is seeking documents from the National Rifle Association and the Treasury Department following reports of an FBI investigation into whether a Russian central banker funneled money to the group during the 2016 presidential campaign. In letters sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the NRA on Friday, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon requested any documents showing financial links between Russia and the gun lobbying organization.” The AP recalls, “News reports last month said the FBI is investigating contact between Alexander Torshin, who is the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, and the NRA. Wyden is ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, as well as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a probe into Russia election meddling.”
From the AP.
REP. MAXINE WATERS WANTS ANSWERS AS WE ALL DO RE: NO SANCTIONS
The Hill reports, “Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) demanded answers from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week, criticizing their inaction on sanctioning Russia. Waters, the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, wrote a letter to Tillerson and Mnuchin”. In a statement, Waters said, “Most of all, I find it preposterous that it is the State Department’s position that the legislation has served as such a deterrent that not one person or entity is engaged in a significant transaction with the Russian defense or intelligence sectors”. Too polite.
From The Hill.
JUDGE RULES AGAINST RUSSIAN MONEY LAUNDERING FRONT PREVEZON
POLITICO reports, “A federal judge has ruled against a Russian-owned firm whose lawyer was a key player in the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and top Trump campaign officials. U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley rejected claims by the firm, Prevezon Holdings, that the U.S. government failed to live up to its obligations under a May 2017 settlement of claims that Prevezon was involved in money laundering allegedly aimed at avoiding Russian taxes.” POLITICO adds, “Under the deal, the U.S. was supposed to abandon its efforts to freeze about 3 million euros Prevezon was owed in the Netherlands. U.S. officials said they notified the Dutch government that the U.S. was no longer seeking those funds, but a prominent critic of the Russian government, Bill Browder, apparently persuaded the Netherlands to refuse to release the money.” POLITICO notes, “In an 18-page decision issued Friday, the Manhattan-based Pauley said the U.S. has lived up to its obligations and the firm was still required to pay the money with interest.” POLITICO adds, “‘The events giving rise to the litigation span the globe and read like a John le Carre novel,’ wrote Pauley, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.”
RUSSIAN HACKER ARRESTED IN SPAIN EXTRADITED TO THE U.S.
The Wall Street Journal reports, “A Russian programmer who had been arrested in Spain in a high-profile case that pitted the U.S. against Russia on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges of running a vast network of computers for criminal purposes. Pyotr Levashov, described by the U.S. Justice Department as one of the world’s most sophisticated hackers, is being held pending trial in Connecticut federal court, according to a court spokesman.” The AP recalls, “Pyotr Levashov, a 37-year-old from St. Petersburg, was arrested in April while vacationing with his family in Barcelona.” The AP notes, “A statement from Spain’s National Police said officers handed Levashov over to U.S. marshals on Friday.”
RUSSIAN WARSHIP + MILITARY AIRCRAFT SPOTTED NEAR LATVIAN WATERS
The Baltic Times reports, “A Russian military plane and a landing craft were spotted near Latvia’s territorial waters today [Friday], the National Armed Forces said on Twitter. NATO jets policing Baltic airspace detected a Russian Su-27 aircraft flying over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea, near Latvia’s border. Also, the Alexander Shabalin, a Ropucha-class landing ship had entered Latvia’s exclusive economic zone three nautical miles or less than six kilometers from Latvia’s territorial waters.”
From The Baltic Times.
RUSSIAN INVESTIGATORS SUMMON NAVALNY FOR QUESTIONING
Reuters reports, “Investigators in Russia summoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny for questioning on Monday, saying they were looking into allegations he had assaulted policemen at an anti-Kremlin protest last month. Around 1,500 people in Moscow and hundreds more in cities across Russia took to the streets on Jan. 28 in a protest organized by Navalny to support a boycott of presidential elections in March.” Reuters adds, “Police bundled Navalny off the street in Moscow at the protest and detained him for several hours before releasing him without charge but with talk of a future court appearance.”
PETERSBURG OPPOSITION ACTIVIST KILLED
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Russian opposition activist Konstantin Sinitsyn has been found dead of head injuries in the entranceway to his St. Petersburg apartment building. St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly lawmaker Boris Vishnevsky posted the news on February 2, although the incident apparently happened on January 26.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Vishnevsky said Sinitsyn died of trauma to the head and that police had detained one suspect. Authorities say they believe the motive was robbery.” However, “Sinitsyn, 53, was a regular participant in pro-democracy and anticorruption demonstrations in St. Petersburg. In 2015, he supported a wave of protests conducted by long-distance truckers against rising road tariffs. He also figured prominently in St. Petersburg protests against a government decision to hand the landmark St. Isaac’s Cathedral over to the Russian Orthodox Church.”
—–INDICTMENT ROCK CITY—–
NOWHERE TO RUN
Bloomberg reports Special Counsel Robert “Mueller’s prosecutors urged a judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit attacking an Oct. 27 indictment charging that Manafort, a political consultant, failed to register as an agent of the Ukrainian government and laundered millions of dollars before he worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. ‘The Special Counsel’s investigation and prosecutions are entirely lawful,’ prosecutors argued in a motion filed late Friday.” Bloomberg recalls, “Manafort filed the civil lawsuit on Jan. 3, following weeks of mounting assaults by many Republican lawmakers and conservative media of Mueller and members of his team, attacking them as unfair and biased.”
LEGAL DEFENSE FUND SET UP FOR TRUMPISTANI ELITES
POLITICO reports, “Associates of President Donald Trump drawn into the expanding Russia investigations are closer to getting financial help from a new legal defense fund, according to documents released this week by the Office of Government Ethics. The Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust is being set up by a trio of lawyers to help Trump aides from his campaign, the transition and his administration with expenses related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, as well as the House and Senate probes examining Russian interference in the 2016 election and other matters.” Given the amount of dark money from domestic and likely foreign sources being thrown at the disinfo war, there is little reason to doubt much cash will materialize in the struggle to save the Trumpistani elites from themselves. POLITICO adds, “The new Trump legal defense fund plans limits on who can draw from the fund, including no payments for lawyers for anyone tied to ‘any charge or indictment for dishonest, fraudulent or criminal activity’ unless the managers decide ‘the acts forming the basis of such charge or indictment were undertaken by the Recipient on behalf of, or directly in support of, the Campaign, the Transition or the Administration in good faith and without knowledge that such acts were prohibited by law.’” POLITICO details, “The lawyers listed as representatives for the fund are from Wiley Rein: former Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner; Robert Walker, a former chief counsel and staff director on the Senate and House ethics committees; and Robert Benton.”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
THREE RUSSIAN INTEL CHIEFS IN WASHINGTON: FIRST IN U.S. HISTORY
POLITICO Magazine reports, “The Trump administration’s stunning decision this week to forgo mandatory sanctions on individuals doing business with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors and its failure to publicly name and shame corrupt Kremlin insiders only underscores its dereliction of duty and disregard for our national security. With fitting symbolism, the administration chose instead to invite the directors of the three Russian intelligence services—the very agencies responsible for carrying out an attack on our election—for an unprecedented joint visit to Washington. To repeat: This is something that has never happened before in American history.” Then there is the fact that the Trump trash regime sabotaged the sanctions list when, “the administration decided to take the easy way out, and simply released a list of officials that could easily have been a copy-and-paste job of the Kremlin phone book and the Forbes Top 100 list of Russian oligarchs. No details on corruption were made public, thereby completely defeating the purpose of the report.” So what is to be done? POLITICO Magazine writes, “The Trump administration has ignored and subverted the clear will of Congress—and lawmakers therefore have no choice but to respond. They should consider passing an amendment to the Russia sanctions law specifying that unless the administration certifies that Russia has ceased interfering in our democratic institutions, full blocking sanctions will be applied iteratively to a list of select Russian banks according to a fixed schedule—say, every six months. These sanctions would kick in automatically, and the Treasury Department would be able to waive them only if there were evidence of a serious risk of financial contagion.” Of course, “Until the costs of its subversive measures outweigh the benefits, the Kremlin will keep trying to sow chaos and widen the political, social and ideological divisions within our country. Since the president and his team are unwilling to defend us from Russia’s efforts to weaken our democracy, Congress must step in.”
From POLITICO Magazine.
HOW TRUMP IS DESTROYING THE RULE OF LAW: FBI EDITION
The Washington Post reports, “the FBI is accustomed to intense criticism. What is so unusual about the current moment, say current and former law enforcement officials, is the source of the attacks.” The Washington Post notes, “The bureau is under fire not from those on the left but rather conservatives who have long been the agency’s biggest supporters, as well as the president who handpicked the FBI’s leader.” The Washington Post quotes, “One law enforcement official,” who, “summed it up bluntly: ‘There’s a lot of anger. The irony is it’s a conservative-leaning organization, and it’s being trashed by conservatives. At first it was just perplexing. Now there’s anger, because it’s not going away.’” The Washington Post adds, “The public attacks from the president have diminished morale inside the FBI, according to current and former officials. Among themselves, senior officials and rank and file frequently debate the best way forward.” As The Washington Post notes in a separate but related article, “The FBI, the Justice Department and other agencies are now under concerted assault by Republicans, facing allegations of corruption and conspiracy that have quickly moved from the fringes of the right into the mainstream of the GOP.” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee notes similarly in a “Memo to the Public” in Esquire, “during the first year of the Trump Administration is a determined effort to demolish the separation between politics and the fair administration of justice—an attempt to turn the DOJ’s investigative powers into the personal political tool of the president.”
WE ARE BORROWING $1 TRILLION TO PAY FOR TRUMP’S FIRST YEAR
The Washington Post reports, “The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump’s first full year in charge of the budget. That’s almost double what the government borrowed in fiscal year 2017.” Where is all that money going? The Washington Post adds, “Treasury mainly attributed the increase to the ‘fiscal outlook.’ The Congressional Budget Office was more blunt. In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law.” Enjoy those trips to Mar-a-Lago, and to the plutocrats, the caviar and champagne — really go for the best, the nation will be paying for it for generations to come! Of course there are those Cassandras, like TRUMPISTAN WATCH, “who warn that America has a major economic problem looming,” but ignore us, Trumpistani elites will anyways. The Washington Post notes, “Trump’s Treasury forecasts borrowing over $1 trillion in 2019 and over $1.1 trillion in 2020. Before taking office, Trump described himself as the ‘king of debt,’ although he campaigned on reducing the national debt.” But it’s worth it for the white trash carnival! Afterall, it costs real money to put on a great show! You thought America burning would be cheap? Ha!
From The Washington Post.
LOSER FAKE PRESIDENT BOASTS OF ULTRA LOW APPROVAL RATING
Slate reports, “President Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to show off about his latest approval rating, which is the highest it has been in nearly a year. The commander in chief pointed to the number to suggest his political support is higher now than it was when he won the presidency. But the truth of the matter is the president’s approval ratings are still on average far lower than those of his predecessor.” Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday, “Rasmussen just announced that my approval rating jumped to 49%, a far better number than I had in winning the Election, and higher than certain ‘sacred cows’”. He is proud of that, remember, he does not care about governing our country, he does not care about our lives; all he cares about is his base of morons, Vladimir Putin and his pocketbook. Also P.S. Rasmussen is not exactly the poll to base perceptions on, it’s not nonpartisan like Gallup.
TRUMP WORLDWIDE: THE MACHINATIONS OF FASCIST ALT-RIGHT DISORDER
Haaretz reports, “U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech at the Warsaw Uprising monument in Poland on July 6, 2017, did not pass the truth test of the American press, or its stomach.” One Vox headline called it, “an alt-right manifesto” at the time. Now, “Fast-forward six months and Poland’s right-wing government, rubber-stamped by Trump, has seemingly gone off the rails with attacks on the judicial system’s independence, fascist marches and now an attempt to control free speech.” Now, recall house Jews Jared and Ivanka stood by Trump as he validated Warsaw’s far right government as you read, “Since International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, Warsaw has been at the center of a firestorm over its bill that would criminalize accusing the Polish nation of Nazi crimes, including phrases like ‘Polish death camps’ (as opposed to Nazi death camps in occupied Poland) when discussing the Holocaust”. Talk to the few Holocaust survivors still around about their Polish experience, less you have any doubts that Nazi Germany was without help from locals. (TRUMPISTAN WATCH had to say this in this context, albeit Poland has always been very good to TRUMPISTAN WATCH, and there were definitely heroes among the Poles during the war, too.) Haaretz notes, “This isn’t the first time Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice party has tried to pass such a law. They tried in 2013 after President Barack Obama caused anger by speaking of ‘Polish death camps.’ But this is the first time the bill’s sponsors sat in government, having come to power in 2016, and were able to pass it through both houses of Poland’s parliament.” Haaretz however mistakenly notes, “it is also the first time that Polish nationalism has felt it has a friend in the leader of the free world,” as Trump is no longer the leader of the free world, he abandoned that title when embracing Russia, Nazis, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists. Ergo, the title belongs to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nonetheless, “Since Trump’s visit, which Polish leaders were reportedly able to secure by promising big, enthusiastic crowds, Poland’s government pursued legislation gutting the country’s independent judicial system, which prompted disciplinary action from the European Union. The nation also saw over 60,000 anti-Islam, anti-immigrant nationalists and fascists march through Warsaw to celebrate Polish Independence Day in November.” If this is the new world disorder of unfreedom, we all lose. And if we all lose, prepare to goose step in line!
IVANKA “ALL LIVES” BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Vogue reports, “On Thursday, the beginning of Black History Month, Ivanka Trump tweeted in supposed solidarity with social justice luminaries, but insisted that ‘we resolve to continue to bring greater equality, dignity, and opportunity to all Americans, regardless of race or background.’ It’s the ‘all’ that stuck out, particularly because of its resonance with ‘All Lives Matter’ the mantra of anti-Black Lives Matterconservatives who undermine BLM’s purpose to call attention to the very fact that black lives routinely don’t seem to matter in the United States. It’s a way of avoiding the structural inequality that BLM opposes—how mass incarceration, poverty, and police brutality all affect black Americans more than others—by saying that true equality doesn’t take race into account at all.” This is in Vogue! Vogue! So what the hell is wrong with every outlet that normalizes Ivanka if Vogue can get it together to have some teeth in the face of these racist, greedy, corrupt clowns?
WHERE IS MY PAGE? THE MAN WITH THE MOST OBVIOUS TELL
POLITICO Magazine wishes to remind us that it was worth the government spying on Carter Page with a new excerpt from Luke Harding’s book Collusion. Unless Russian spies known to the government talk of recruiting you and you seem to bend to their will, your civil liberties are probably more safe than not, at least as far as FISA warrants to eavesdrop are concerned. POLITICO Magazine notes that the, “Most remarkable” thing about the DARKNESS AT NUNES memo, “was the unlikely hero at the center of this national row, Carter Page.” Can we just call him a protagonist? Let’s “go back—to 2013, and to a group of jaded Putin spies working deep undercover in downtown Manhattan. One of them was Viktor Podobnyy. Moscow had dispatched Podobnyy to the United States under his own name. He worked in New York under official ‘cover’: attaché to Russia’s delegation to the United Nations. In reality, Podobnyy was employed by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR.” Why does Harding call this “deep undercover”?! Anyways, “One of his SVR colleagues was Igor Sporyshev, who was working covertly as a ‘trade representative.’ Neither man was aware that the FBI had a bug inside their SVR office. The Bureau was secretly listening to their conversations.” POLITICO Magazine notes, “One of their tasks was to liaise with another SVR officer, Evgeny Buryakov. Buryakov’s position was somewhat precarious. He didn’t have diplomatic immunity, which meant if he was caught he could go to jail. His official day job was at a branch of a Russian state bank in Manhattan, VEB.” Despite other setbacks, “The Russian spies, however, had one promising lead. This was a guy—an energy consultant based in New York City. Unlike the women, he was eager to help. And, it appeared, keen to make money in Moscow. There was a drawback: The source—whom the FBI called ‘Male-1’—was something of a dimwit.” This was Carter Page. POLITICO Magazine reports, “One former Eurasia Group colleague said he was stunned when he discovered Page had mysteriously become one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers. ‘I nearly dropped my coffee’”. We do not know who introduced Page to Trump but we do know, “Page’s real qualification for the role, it appeared, had little to do with his restless CV. What appeared to recommend him to Trump was his boundless enthusiasm for Putin and his corresponding loathing of Obama and Clinton.” Ultimately, “Page’s problem, then, was that he had an unfortunate habit of seeking out Russian spies—ones in their twenties like Podobnyy and older ones like Sechin, either directly or via underlings.”
From POLITICO Magazine.
ANYONE WHO EVER WORKED FOR TRUMP IS QUALIFIED FOR EVERYTHING
POLITICO reports, “A home improvement contractor married to one of Donald and Melania Trump’s former household staffers is now working as an official at the Environmental Protection Agency, the latest example of someone with a personal connection to the Trump family finding work in the administration.” POLITICO adds, “New Jersey-based Steve Kopec joined EPA’s Region 2 office in New York as a special assistant on Dec. 18, according to a memo”. POLITICO notes, “According to public records, Kopec previously ran a contracting business from his home in Haskell, New Jersey, called Steve’s Tools in Motion. Kopec’s wife, Dagmara, previously worked for the Trump family in New York, according to a person familiar with her situation. Photographs posted on Facebook in recent months show the Kopecs visiting the White House and mingling with senior administration officials.” POLITICO notes, “It’s unclear who made the decision to hire Kopec, or whether EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was involved.” POLITICO adds, “Both Dagmara and Steve Kopec are originally from Poland. Steve often goes by his Polish name, Slawomir. The Kopecs appear to have made repeated visits to the White House in recent months.” POLITICO reports there are photos of dinners, parties, and pictures with senior aides including Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST, WHERE QUALIFICATIONS REST
The Washington Post reports, “The White House has withdrawn its controversial nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Hartnett White, whose selection failed to gather momentum with some Senate Republicans raising questions about her expertise. The administration released a statement Sunday in which Hartnett White asked that her name be pulled from further consideration, effective immediately. President Trump had re-nominated Hartnett White for the job in January after the Senate failed to vote on her nomination during the last congressional session, due in part to fierce opposition from Democrats.” The Washington Post notes, “Hartnett White, who once headed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and now serves as a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, has stirred controversy because of her statements on climate change. Testifying in the fall before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she said that while humans probably contribute to current warming, ‘the extent to which, I think, is very uncertain.’” The Washington Post adds, “In November, more than 300 scientists from around the country signed a letter urging the Senate to reject her confirmation. It cited her ‘dangerous’ views about climate change, saying. ‘This is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of defending scientific integrity.’” Remember with this treason trash administration, we have to defend truth against bullshit in all its forms.
From The Washington Post.
MEET THE NEW OVERLORDS: THE FSB DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
BBC News profiles “Russia’s elite FSB spy club,” because since they own everything, including the fake president and many U.S. cabinet officials, why not make it a little sexy? As BBC notes, the letters FSB “have come to symbolise Vladimir Putin’s grip on power in Russia.” BBC adds, “Russia’s secretive security agency has gained notoriety around the world with its intelligence and counter-terror operations.” However, “with roots in the Soviet Union’s KGB secret police, allegations of state-sanctioned killings and close ties to the [Russian] president, it faces questions about its true nature and ambitions.” So BBC News and you are probably asking, “What does the FSB do?” BBC News reports, “The Federal Security Service’s (FSB) was set up in 1995, and is tasked with tackling perceived threats to the Russian state. Mr Putin ran the agency before he came to power.” Now that Putin is the state, they are one and the same. The FSB “co-operates with foreign police forces in fighting jihadists and some organised crime gangs,” because, in part, it is formed by several criminal networks in various different realms. Everyone was content to let the FSB make its old KGB self great again and let Putin be Putin until “the Alexander Litvinenko murder case really put the FSB in the international spotlight.” But even then. BBC recalls, “The ex-FSB officer, bitterly critical of President Putin, was poisoned in London with radioactive polonium-210 in 2006. Litvinenko, given asylum in the UK, had been branded a ‘traitor’ in Russia. The official UK inquiry concluded that the killers probably had approval from Mr Putin and the then FSB chief, Nikolai Patrushev.” Nonetheless, a state contract killing did not close London for business to Russian oligarchs, political elites and their dirty money. BBC News adds, “The FSB is integral to Russia’s new doctrine of information warfare, which includes shaping public opinion abroad via social media”. So you already know them and may have spoken to them, or even gotten a little pre-inauguration greeting from them noting they are writing your nation’s media as TRUMPISTAN WATCH did prior to there even being a TRUMPISTAN WATCH! BBC News notes, “The FSB has powerful legal tools to monitor internet traffic. A technology called Sorm lets it snoop on emails and phone calls; data has to be kept for 12 hours, by law, for possible inspection; virtual private networks (VPNs) and other anonymisation tools are restricted.” The FSB Chief Alexander Bortnikov, who is under sanctions over Crimea, reports directly to Putin. His predecessor, Nikolai Patrushev, is now the head of Russia’s National Security Council, a position analogous to that of H.R. McMaster.
From BBC News.
WITH A LITTLE HELD FROM THEIR RUSSIAN “FRIENDS”
POLITICO Magazine reports, “On Tuesday morning — the day after the House Intelligence Committee voted along partisan lines to send Rep. Devin Nunes’ memo,” to Trump when lying, “Kellyanne Conway was confronted with the idea that Russian trolls were promoting the #releasethememo hashtag online. She was offended. Russian trolls, she told a television interviewer, ‘have nothing to do with releasing the memo — that was a vote of the intelligence committee.’ But her assertion is incorrect. The vote marked the culmination of a targeted, 11-day information operation that was amplified by computational propaganda techniques and aimed to change both public perceptions and the behavior of American lawmakers. And it worked.” Nothing has changed since 2016! The Russians play their role and the media plays its role! As POLITICO Magazine notes, “Computational propaganda — defined as ‘the use of information and communication technologies to manipulate perceptions, affect cognition, and influence behavior’ — has been used, successfully, to manipulate the perceptions of the American public and the actions of elected officials.” And it keeps working! How? POLITICO Magazine notes, “#releasethememo provided an organizational framework for this comprehensive conspiracy theory, which, in its underpinnings, is meant to minimize and muddle concerns about Russian interference in American politics.” As POLITICO Magazine observes, “The #releasethememo campaign came out of nowhere. Its movement from social media to fringe/far-right media to mainstream media so swift that both the speed and the story itself became impossible to ignore.” POLITICO Magazine adds, “Information and psychological operations being conducted on social media — often mischaracterized by the dismissive label ‘fake news’ — are not just about information, but about changing behavior. And they can be surprisingly effective.” POLITICO Magazine reports, “The hashtag originated with Twitter user @underthemoraine at 3:52pm on January 18. The tweet tags the president, @realDonaldTrump. The account for @underthemoraine, most recently named ‘Lois Lerner Testimony’ and whose bio references the Lerner testimony and #MAGA, is currently marked as restricted by Twitter for ‘unusual activity.’” Then, “At 4:00 pm, one of Moraine’s followers, @KARYN19138585 — an account that has the 8-digit fingerprint associated with some Russian bot accounts — responds to @underthemoraine’s tweet, saying Moraine is the first one tweeting about this breaking news topic.” Based on, “the digital forensics, it’s clear KARYN is a bot — a bot that follows a random Republican guy in Michigan with 70-some followers. Why? Bots both gather and disseminate information — the ‘gathering’ part is important, and rarely discussed.” POLITICO Magazine continues, “the hashtag benefited from computational promotion already built into the system. It was used to target lawmakers who would play a role in releasing the memo — lawmakers who argued that there was public pressure to release the memo.” Pro-Trump Congressmen “Raul Labrador, Lee Zeldin, Steve King, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz — all of whom promoted #releasethememo to the public and their colleagues — were targeted more than 550,000 times in 11 days.” As a result, “A year after it should have become an indisputable fact that Russia launched a sophisticated, lucky, daring, aggressive campaign against the American public, we’re as exposed and vulnerable as we ever were — if not more so, because now so many tools we might have sharpened to aid us in this fight seem blunted and discarded by the very people who should be honing their edge. There is no leadership.” Read the whole thing as you wave goodbye to sovereignty, as it is going fast. One more thing: “yes, that also reinforces the narrative the Russians have been pushing since 2015: You’re on your own; be angry, and burn things down.”
From POLITICO Magazine.
LEARN THEIR TACTICS: THE INFINITE TEASE IS THE SHOW
BuzzFeed reports, “for those who’ve paid close attention to the pro-Trump media industrial complex over the last 18 months, the [DARKNESS AT NUNES] memo, and its attendant media circus, felt familiar. The breathless coverage, relentless tweets, and continual teases building up to what is hopefully a grand reveal was reminiscent of a tactic honed and perfected not by whistleblowers, but by partisan shock jocks. Indeed, the saga of #ReleaseTheMemo felt a lot less like the Pentagon Papers than it did a classic Alex Jones or Sean Hannity conspiracy gambit to hijack a news cycle.” BuzzFeed adds, “Nunes successfully weaponized the pro-Trump media and its online viral outrage machine, ultimately forcing the country to obsess and speculate over a largely political document. But while the congressman’s tactics to release classified information feel cribbed from the pro-Trump media playbook, Nunes appears to have made a crucial mistake: actually releasing the memo.” BuzzFeed adds, “Coverage of the memo — which hit a fever pitch this week when the FBI cautioned against releasing it — began to deflate as soon as it became clear that it would indeed be published.” The result, however, is that, “Without divulging classified information, Trump loyalists portrayed themselves and the administration as victims: They easily muddied the waters between fact, fiction, and partially true (and partially not!).” BuzzFeed concludes, “Had the memo never been released, it may well have driven the news cycle for weeks more — hanging like a cloud over the Trump-Russia investigation — indisputable proof of something, just out of reach. Now that it’s out, it’s been defanged and its news value sapped. It will soon be subsumed by the next controversy.”
RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA HAS FUN WITH OUR FAKE CIA DIRECTOR
Russian state-run Sputnik writes, “Take CIA director Mike Pompeo. Last week, he gave a big interview to Britain’s state broadcaster, the BBC, in which he reiterated serious claims that Russia hacked into the American presidential election in 2016. Further, he forewarned that Russian state agents were planning to repeat their alleged meddling in the forthcoming mid-term Congressional elections later this year.” So it is that Russian state-run Sputnik has such fun pointing out that, “within days of making such dire accusations against the Kremlin, the American spymaster was reportedly holding meetings in Washington DC with two senior Russian intelligence figures — Alexander Bortnikov and Sergei Naryshkin. The two men represent Russia’s federal and foreign intelligence services, the FSB and SVR, respectively.” So this is what it looks and sounds like when Russia is capturing your state, my fellow TRUMPISTAN WATCHians. And yet they stick to the cover story they provide, “There was apparently nothing untoward about the top-level meeting. The American and Russian spy chiefs were reportedly exchanging views on counter-terrorism”. Russian state-run Sputnik would not be doing the propagandists job well if it did not lean heavily on existing doubts and ask, “Doesn’t it seem a bit strange that the chief of the CIA is warning in very public media interviews that the Kremlin is meddling in US democracy through underhand means, yet virtually his next appointment involves hosting Russia’s top spies?” Why yes, that does seem “a bit strange,” in their words, but just the part about the CIA meeting with top Russian spies, not the other part. Furthermore, Russian state-run Sputnik adds, “So, if American official concerns about alleged Russian subversion in the US and abroad are as vexed as they are made out to be in public announcements, then how does that square with Mike Pompeo greeting his Russian counterparts in a convivial professional setting?” That, however, is an excellent question! One the American people should be asking, not Russian propaganda.
—–TOWARDS A PEACEFUL NUCLEAR EXCHANGE—–
NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW NOT OBAMA’S NUCLEAR ZERO ANYMORE
The Washington Post reports, “The Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy Friday that calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons, effectively ending Obama-era efforts to reduce the size and scope of the U.S. arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning.” In remarks that can be interpreted as a slight to Obama’s idealistic stated desire for a “Nuclear Zero,” delivered in a lofty speech in Prague in 2009 – before the fall of Qaddafi’s Libya or the Russian invasion of Crimea (two countries that peacefully surrendered their nukes prior to having their sovereignty violated) – “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in an introductory note to the new policy — the first update to the military’s nuclear strategy since 2010 — that the changes reflect a need to ‘look reality in the eye’ and ‘see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.’” The Washington Post notes, “The previous administration’s policy hinged on what President Barack Obama called a moral obligation for the United States to lead by example in ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Officials in the Trump administration and the U.S. military argue that Obama’s approach proved overly idealistic, particularly as relations with Moscow soured. Russia, China and North Korea, they say, all advanced their nuclear weapons capabilities instead of following suit.” The Washington Post adds, “The policy unveiled Friday envisions the introduction of ‘low-yield nukes’ on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Despite being called ‘low yield,’ such weapons could cause roughly as much damage as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, depending on their size.” Additionally, “The new Pentagon policy also outlines longer-term plans to reintroduce a nuclear submarine-launched cruise missile called an SLCM (or ‘slick-em’), which the administration of President George H.W. Bush stopped deploying and the Obama administration ordered removed from the arsenal.” Defense News notes how the new Nuclear Posture Review “emphasized the need to enhance capabilities to match with Russia,” adding, it is “what Pentagon officials believe is the needed [sic] to ensure a balance of power with Moscow.” Defense News flushes this out as, “Russia in recent years have invested heavily in lower-yield, so-called ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons, which are designed to pair with a strategy of ‘escalate to deescalate.’ Under that concept, if fighting broke out between NATO forces and Russia, Moscow would move quickly to use a tactical nuclear weapon. The assumption would be that the U.S., armed only with large, world-ending strategic weapons, would be unable to retaliate appropriately and essentially stand down in the face of Russian aggression.”
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
RESISTANCE ADVICE: RAPID RESPONSE READY IF MUELLER FIRED
The Guardian reports, “MoveOn has signed up more than 200,000 activists for a ‘rapid response’ street demonstration in the event of Trump firing special counsel Robert Mueller. People who sign up will receive texts within hours of Mueller being fired detailing the time and place of rallies against the president.”
From The Guardian.
IN MEMORIAM: FATHER OF US AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA JON HUNTSMAN SR.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports, “Huntsman, a billionaire chemical industrialist and one of the world’s most generous philanthropists, died Friday at age 80.” The elder “Huntsman accepted a job as the staff secretary to President Richard Nixon,” but, “He left that position shortly before the Watergate scandal and was not implicated in any of the crimes that led to Nixon’s resignation. He maintained a soft spot for the president”. He then turned back to business as “Huntsman moved his family to Utah and started borrowing millions of dollars to buy polystyrene plants in the 1980s, when prices were rock bottom because of a glut in the market. He was betting the polystyrene surplus eventually would turn into a shortage as more and more products were made from plastics.” So it was “By 1990, he was worth $450 million; six years later, that would climb to $2.5 billion.” The Salt Lake Tribune adds, “One of Huntsman Corp.’s largest acquisitions was Texaco Chemical in a series of transactions in the 1990s.” Huntsman was a generous philanthropist who “donated at least $1.8 billion to charity” as well, giving millions to education, the homeless, and elsewhere. The Salt Lake Tribune notes, “He signed the ‘giving pledge,’ launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 and targeted toward the world’s billionaires. Signatories promise to donate at least half their wealth. Huntsman saw this as a rather paltry amount, arguing the bar should have been set at 80 percent of their riches. He also criticized the many ultrawealthy who wouldn’t sign.” Then of course, “Jon Huntsman has also championed his eldest son’s political career. He was a major force in Jon Huntsman Jr.’s gubernatorial campaign in 2004. Huntsman Jr. won and became a popular governor, who glided to re-election in 2008.” The Salt Lake Tribune notes, “Huntsman watched with pride as President Barack Obama nominated Huntsman Jr. to be U.S. ambassador to China during a White House ceremony in 2009.” Then of course, “President Donald Trump nominated Huntsman Jr. to serve as the ambassador to Russia in 2017.”
From The Salt Lake Tribune.
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