Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The battered relations between Russia and the West will once again be at the forefront as senior officials gather for a high-profile annual security conference whose chairman warns that the world has moved toward ‘the brink of a significant conflict.’ This year’s Munich Security Conference, on February 16-18, comes amid a formidable array of challenges facing the global community, including North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling, the stalemate in the war in eastern Ukraine, and the conflict in Syria.” What do all those things have in common? Why, Russia as a belligerent and backer of hostile adversaries. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “The war between Russia-backed separatists and Kyiv’s forces in eastern Ukraine will also loom large in Munich.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who currently serves as an adviser to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, is set to present Volker and other officials in Munich with a report he commissioned urging a UN force of some 20,000 peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine. Poroshenko, who is provisionally scheduled to deliver a speech at the conference later on February 16, spoke by telephone with Putin earlier this week. Poroshenko told reporters in Kyiv on February 15 that the two leaders also discussed the prospects for UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, as well as the Minsk accords — September 2014 and February 2015 cease-fire pacts that have failed to hold.” Additionally Conference chairman Wolfgang “Ischinger said last week that peace talks in the so-called Normandy Format — consisting of Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine — would be held on the sidelines of the Munich conference.” Note who is not included — so this naturally delights Russia! Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “McMaster is scheduled to speak immediately following Lavrov’s speech in the early afternoon on February 17. Monday will have a dedicated section to reports from the conference. Of note: TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s first ever addition was built on the tailwind of last year’s Munich Security Conference.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.





Wired reports, “It’s been nearly eight months since the malware known as NotPetya tore through the internet, rippling out from Ukraine to paralyze companies and government agencies around the world. On Thursday, the White House finally acknowledged that attack. And in a reversal of its often seemingly willful blindness to the threat of Russian hacking, it has called out the Kremlin as NotPetya’s creator.” Wired notes the White House released a brief statement acknowledging Russia’s role in the attacks and adds that it “follows similar from the UK and Danish governments earlier today, represents a long awaited—or perhaps long overdue—response to a Russian cyberwar that has barraged every level of Ukrainian society, and with NotPetya, spilled out into the rest of the world.” Wired observes, “Beyond a mere recognition of NotPetya’s source and scope, the White House’s statement represents a new turn in its relations with the Russian government.” To be determined.

From Wired.



CNN reports, “Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, indicating he’s poised to cooperate in the investigation”. CNN adds, “Gates has already spoken to Mueller’s team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He’s had what criminal lawyers call a ‘Queen for a Day’ interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors’ team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed.” There is no way he can just sashay away now, in other words. CNN notes, “Once a plea deal is in place, Gates would become the third known cooperator in Mueller’s sprawling probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It would also increase the pressure to cooperate on Gates’ co-defendant Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, who has pleaded not guilty to Mueller’s indictment”. CNN adds, “Gates often traveled with Trump during the campaign and grew close to other top advisers. When Manafort was ousted from the campaign in August 2016, Gates’ role was diminished, and he later stepped away from the campaign. But he remained in the Trump orbit and worked as a senior official for Trump’s inaugural committee.” Delicious fish fry! Or in the words of TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s attorney in an email this morning, “If they made gates queen for the day it means it’s a done deal.” Glory glory hallelujah, the truth goes marching on!

From CNN.



NBC News reports, “Steve Bannon, who served as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller over multiple days this week”. Life is beautiful again! NBC News adds, “Bannon spent a total of some 20 hours in conversations with the team led by Mueller”. NBC News notes he also made it to his Congressional date yesterday, “After a more than four-week stalemate, Bannon also returned to Capitol Hill Thursday to resume his interview with the House Intelligence Committee, which was halted when he earlier refused to answer key questions in the Russia probe. He left today after four hours, answering little more than the two dozen questions that the White House had negotiated with the House’s lead counsel.” However before the House intelligence committee, “‘The only questions he would answer were questions that had been scripted, literally scripted for him by the White House,’ Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, told reporters.”  CNN has a rundown of all the possible topics that Bannon had a hand in that might be of interest to Mueller from the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016 to his time on the board of Cambridge Analytica and more!

From NBC News and CNN.



Reuters reports, “The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday fought in federal court to keep some minor details of its counterintelligence probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election under wraps, even after President Donald Trump had unwrapped them.” Reuters adds, “Earlier this month, Trump declassified a Republican memo which alleges that the FBI used a dossier prepared by a former British intelligence officer to authorize surveillance on a Trump campaign adviser suspected of being a Russian agent. Despite that unprecedented public disclosure, a Justice Department lawyer told a judge in oral arguments at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday that the government still cannot reveal the date when it received a complete copy of the dossier for fear it might ‘confirm previously unconfirmed facts about a law enforcement-sensitive’ investigation.” Reuters reveals, “That argument exasperated U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, who said that Trump has since changed the landscape for what can be disclosed by declassifying details of a counterintelligence investigation.” But what was said next is most curious: “‘That’s going to be a hard sell, given what the president’s done,’ Mehta said. ‘He has now declassified an entire national security investigation.’” POLITICO notes this came “During a hearing on a bid by BuzzFeed to get more information about how a so-called dossier compiled by a former British spy was handled”. Everyone welcome the fake Russian bullshit president to the law of unintended consequences!

From Reuters and POLITICO.



The Washington Examiner reports, “The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court sent response letters to Republican leaders who requested certain documents related to investigations into surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, saying the court is analyzing the unusual requests. Judge Rosemary Collyer, who presides over the national security court, explained in the letters dated Thursday and sent to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte that the requests the court have received this year are the first of their kind and thus a path forward has yet to be determined.” Collyer wrote to DARKNESS AT NUNES, “Before 2018, the Court had never received a request from Congress for documents related to any specific FISA application. Thus, your requests — and others I have recently received from Congress — present novel and significant questions”. DARKNESS AT NUNES wants to prove the impossible: that Carter Page is an innocent victim instead of a useful idiot like him.

From The Washington Examiner.


reports, “Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday rebuffed a claim by Vice President Mike Pence that intelligence officials concluded that Russian meddling didn’t have ‘any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election,’ saying it ‘stretches credulity’ to say Moscow’s interference didn’t affect any voters’ decisions.” POLITICO adds, “‘The intelligence community has neither the authority nor the capability to make such a judgment as to whether there was or was not impact on the election,’ Clapper said. ‘And we did not say that.’”




Business Insider reports, “The Senate Judiciary Committee obtained a copy of former National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s email documenting a meeting she had with former President Barack Obama and top intelligence officials eight months before raising concerns about the email”. Business Insider recalls, “Rice’s email memorialised a January 5, 2017 meeting she attended with Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates,” and in it she noted that Obama wanted everything done “by the book” – enough fodder for the failing conspiracy theorists in the death cult GOP. Business Insider notes, “Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley received a copy of Rice’s memo on June 16, 2017, according to records,” but of course, “ he and Graham didn’t publicly voice their concerns about it until February 8, 2018.”

From Business Insider.



Deutsche Welle reports, “The German military has secretly admitted that it can’t fulfill its promises to NATO, according to documents leaked to Die Welt newspaper on Thursday. The Bundeswehr is due to take over leadership of NATO’s multinational Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) at the start of next year, but doesn’t have enough tanks, the Defense Ministry document said. Specifically, the Bundeswehr’s ninth tank brigade in Münster only has nine operational Leopard 2 tanks — even though it promised to have 44 ready for the VJTF — and only three of the promised 14 Marder armored infantry vehicles.” Additionally Deutsche Welle states, “The German air force is also struggling to cover its NATO duties, the document revealed. The Luftwaffe’s main forces, the Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and its CH-53 transport helicopters, are only available for use an average of four months a year — the rest of the time the aircraft are grounded for repairs and rearmament.”

From Deutsche Welle.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The Russian Foreign Ministry says that five Russians who were not military personnel may have been killed in a clash with U.S.-led forces in Syria last week and claims that reports putting the Russian death toll in the dozens or hundreds were ‘disinformation.’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s remarks on February 15 marked the first time a Russian official has directly acknowledged that Russian citizens may have been killed in an incident that occurred in the Deir al-Zor province on February 7.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “The U.S. Defense Department has said air strikes launched after as many as 500 pro-government forces attacked a base housing opposition forces and U.S. military advisers killed about 100 of the attackers.” The Russian Defense Ministry has made extensive use of mercenaries in Syria and Ukraine, many supplied by the firm Wagner, but yesterday, reports emerged that the non-official military injured from last week’s strike were being treated in Russian Defense Ministry hospitals. Since the start of the week there have been conflicting reports as the number of casualties of Russian nationals.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



Reuters reports, “ About 300 men working for a Kremlin-linked Russian private military firm were either killed or injured in Syria last week”. Reuters adds, “A Russian military doctor said around 100 had been killed, and a source who knows several of the fighters said the death toll was in excess of 80 men.” Reuters notes, “The casualties are the highest that Russia has suffered in a single battle since fierce clashes in Ukraine in 2014 claimed more than 100 fighters’ lives. Moscow denies sending soldiers and volunteers to Ukraine and has never confirmed that figure.” Reuters reports, “The military doctor, who works in a Moscow military hospital and was directly involved in the treatment of wounded men evacuated from Syria, said that as of Saturday evening there were more than 50 such patients in his hospital, of which around 30 percent were seriously wounded. The doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to disclose information about casualties, said at least three planeloads of injured fighters were flown to Moscow between last Friday and Monday morning.” Citing the doctor, Reuters adds, “Other military hospitals treating the contractors are the Third Vishnevskiy hospital in Krasnogorsk, near Moscow, the Burdenko hospital near Moscow city center, and the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg”.

From Reuters.



The Times of London reports, “Instagram has bowed to pressure from Moscow and removed posts linked to an investigation by Russia’s opposition leader into a deputy prime minister’s trip on a billionaire’s yacht.” Shameful. During the Cold War it was at least possible to pretend that America and its corporate prowess stood for something greater than even profits, no more. “‘Instagram decided to comply with Russian illegal censorship requests and deleted some content about oligarch Deripaska,’ Mr Navalny wrote on Twitter yesterday. ‘Shame on you, Instagram!’” And shame on you Fakebook, Zuck, et al. This is called having your ass handed to you. The Moscow Times reports, “The first blocked post, titled ‘Training: Hunting for an Oligarch,’ featured Rybka and Deripaska together, while the second was a video in which a teary-eyed Rybka said she had been gang-raped on the yacht — a claim she later reversed, saying it was a joke.” For its part, antidemocratic Fakebook gave its boiler plate corporate bullshit to answer for its latest strike against humanity: “In cases when state agencies believe that certain content on the Internet violates their laws, they may request restrictions to this content,” adding, “We carefully study such requests as to violation of local law and if necessary, block access to that content in the relevant country or region”. So gross.

From The Times of London and The Moscow Times.





The New Yorker reports, “ June, 2006, Donald Trump taped an episode of his reality-television show, ‘The Apprentice,’ at the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles. Hugh Hefner, Playboy’s publisher, threw a pool party for the show’s contestants with dozens of current and former Playmates, including Karen McDougal, a slim brunette who had been named Playmate of the Year, eight years earlier. In 2001, the magazine’s readers voted her runner-up for ‘Playmate of the ’90s,’ behind Pamela Anderson. At the time of the party, Trump had been married to the Slovenian model Melania Knauss for less than two years; their son, Barron, was a few months old. Trump seemed uninhibited by his new family obligations. McDougal later wrote that Trump ‘immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me – telling me how beautiful I was, etc. It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, “Wow, he was all over you – I think you could be his next wife.”’ The New Yorker adds, “Trump and McDougal began an affair, which McDougal later memorialized in an eight-page, handwritten document provided to The New Yorker by John Crawford, a friend of McDougal’s.” The New Yorker notes, “The interactions that McDougal outlines in the document share striking similarities with the stories of other women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump, or who have accused him of propositioning them for sex or sexually harassing them. McDougal describes their affair as entirely consensual. But her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs—sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously—out of the press.” The New Yorker continues, “On November 4, 2016, four days before the election, the Wall Street Journal reported that American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had paid a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, which it never ran. Purchasing a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call ‘catch and kill.’ This is a favorite tactic of the C.E.O. and chairman of A.M.I., David Pecker, who describes the President as ‘a personal friend.’ As part of the agreement, A.M.I. consented to publish a regular aging-and-fitness column by McDougal. After Trump won the Presidency, however, A.M.I.’s promises largely went unfulfilled, according to McDougal.” Since The Wall Street Journal revealed details of a $130,000 payout made to a porn actress with the stage name Stormy Daniels, “A.M.I. has repeatedly approached McDougal about extending her contract.” McDougal has regrets about signing the contract complaining it “took my rights away”. The White House of course denies everything, just as the Kremlin would any reasonable accusation launched against it. Interestingly however, “During Trump’s relationship with McDougal, she wrote, he introduced her to members of his family and took her to his private residences. At a January, 2007, launch party in Los Angeles for Trump’s now-defunct liquor brand, Trump Vodka, McDougal, who was photographed entering the event, recalled sitting at a table with Kim Kardashian, Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Trump, Jr.,’s wife, Vanessa, who was pregnant.” Always a nice thing to do to one’s kids.

From The New Yorker.



POLITICO reports, “Reports of chaos and disorganization inside the White House through the first months of President Donald Trump’s administration are accurate, former chief of staff Reince Priebus said. In fact, Priebus said, those reports understated the truth of the Trump administration’s beginnings. ‘Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,’ Priebus told author Chris Whipple, whose book on White House chiefs of staff, ‘The Gatekeepers,’ will be released in paperback next month with a new chapter on the Trump administration”. POLITICO adds, “Priebus also told Whipple that he had managed to talk Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of resigning last spring on the same day that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed special counselor Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Sessions, fresh off an excoriation by Trump, had decided to resign, Priebus recalled, until the then-chief of staff cajoled him out of his waiting car and convinced him, with the help of Vice President Mike Pence and then-chief strategist Steve Bannon, to reconsider.” Jesus.




The New York Times reports, “President Trump’s inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by an adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, while donating $5 million — less than expected — to charity, according to tax filings released on Thursday. The nonprofit group that oversaw Mr. Trump’s inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, had been under pressure from liberal government watchdog groups to reveal how it spent the record $107 million it had raised largely from wealthy donors and corporations.” The New York Times notes, “Its chairman, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, had pledged that the committee would be thrifty with its spending, and would donate leftover funds to charity. In a statement released by the committee, he praised it for carrying out the inauguration and more than 20 related events with ‘elegance and seamless excellence without incident or interruption, befitting the legacy and tradition that has preceded us,’” which are all things the Trump trash klan and the Trumpistani elites are wholly incapable of. Also remember what a clusterfuck of transnational Mafiosi, dictator progeny and assorted trash his Inauguration was? The New York Times reports, “The company that received the biggest payment — $26 million — was WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, Calif. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, about six weeks before the inauguration, and its founder, according to a person familiar with the firm, was Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump’s. Otherwise there is very little information available about the company.” The New York Times notes, “Ms. Winston Wolkoff is not paid for her work in the first lady’s office”. So if this is what it means to work for free, how much are Aryan princess Ivanka and princeling Jared making off with as they too take no official salary? One has to assume the unofficial salaries pay dividends, just like in any proper post-Soviet government that is not the Baltic states.

From The New York Times.



Bloomberg reports, “U.S. tax authorities have requested documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Jared Kushner’s family”. Bloomberg adds, “They have gathered information from people who lent money and assembled investors for some Kushner Cos. real estate projects in New York and New Jersey,” noting, “Those projects involve deals dating back to 2010.” Bloomberg continues, “The Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department issued the subpoenas within the past year,” and, “The tax inquiry appears unrelated to other investigations that have since burst into public view. It began before Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in May to investigate Russian election meddling.” Bloomberg notes, “In the tax investigation, it’s unclear whether authorities are looking at Kushner business associates or the company itself.” Beautiful.

From Bloomberg.




BuzzFeed reports, “ABC has landed one of the most sought-after interviews of the year: former FBI director James Comey.” Comey “will sit down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in mid-April ahead of the release of his forthcoming book,” BuzzFeed adds, noting, “Comey’s account, titled A Higher Loyalty, has become one of the most hotly-anticipated political books in recent memory. The publisher, Flatiron Books, this month announced it was moving up the publication date from May 1 to April 17 as media attention on the FBI intensified.”

From BuzzFeed.



The Chicago Tribune reports, “He made his name as the brains behind @MayorEmanuel, a wildly profane Twitter parody (and later book) poking fun at Rahm Emanuel’s first mayoral campaign. Now creative tech guy Dan Sinker has a new project that is likely to delight and appall in equal measure: a Kickstarter campaign to produce ‘Pee Tape and Robert Mueller III prayer candles.’” TRUMPISTAN WATCH has already ordered one. Not for god but for country and glory!

From The Chicago Tribune.


The Washington Post
reports, “Russia’s disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election relied heavily on stories produced by major American news sources to shape the online political debate”. The Washington Post adds, “The analysis by Columbia University social-media researcher Jonathan Albright of more than 36,000 tweets sent by Russian accounts showed that obscure or foreign news sources played a comparatively minor role, suggesting that the discussion of ‘fake news’ during the campaign has been somewhat miscast.” The Washington Post notes, “Russian-controlled Twitter accounts, Albright said, were far more likely to share stories produced by widely read sources of American news and political commentary.” Interestingly, “Among the tweets Albright studied, the most common links were to Breitbart News, followed by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. The list of the top 25 linked sites had a conservative bent, with the Daily Caller, Fox News and the Gateway Pundit appearing. Also popular, though not in the top 25, were direct links to a page collecting online donations for Trump’s campaign.”

From The Washington Post.




Agence France Presse
reports, “European leaders gather in Vilnius on Friday to celebrate 100 years since Lithuania regained independence after World War I”. Agence France Presse adds, “Top EU officials and the presidents of Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Poland and Ukraine, as well as Swedish Crown Princess Victoria will attend the ceremony in central Vilnius on Friday. Bells will later toll in churches across the country for the centenary.” Agence France Presse notes, “The Lithuanian council declared independence on February 16, 1918, when the country was still under German occupation. Brief wars with Bolsheviks and Poles followed before Lithuania won international recognition in the following years. Just in time for the centenary and to the country’s delight, a Lithuanian professor unearthed the 1918 document in Berlin archives last year. Last month, it was brought to Vilnius under a five-year loan deal with Germany.” Agence France Presse adds, “Modern Lithuania was an independent nation between the two World Wars. Then the Soviet Union invaded in 1940, Nazi Germany invaded in 1941, and the Soviets returned in 1944. Democracy campaigners launched an independence drive in the 1980s that eventually made it the first Soviet republic to declare independence in March 1990. Lithuania finally won recognition from Moscow after the failed coup by hardliners in the Soviet capital in August 1991.”

From Agence France Presse.



Stars and Stripes reports, “For U.S. airman Tech. Sgt. Bryan Burvis, deploying to the Baltics for the Atlantic Resolve operation is a homecoming and a reckoning with history. Burvis’ family fled Soviet-occupied Latvia during World War II and suffered many hardships on their way through several war-torn countries. Now, almost 80 years later, Burvis is in the region of his forefathers, helping to reassure newly independent Baltic states that fear a resurgent Russia.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH is not alone! Stars and Stripes notes, “Burvis, with the Ohio Air National Guard, began his deployment to the region last month as part of the Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the United States’ effort to deter aggression in Eastern Europe launched after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. ‘It’s so cool to be part of something bigger, and to be protecting this area in particular, that’s home to my culture and my ancestors,’ Burvis said. ‘My family thinks it’s great that I’m here, and in their eyes, I’m protecting the region.’” Burvis added, “When I found out I would be so close to Latvia, I told my dad I wanted to visit our Latvian family, and he teared up. It means so much to him that I’m doing this on my own.” Stars and Stripes adds, “Burvis’ grandfather, Fricis, fled his hometown of Priekule with his grandmother, aunts and uncles in the 1940s, originally to avoid deportation to Siberia after the Soviet Union occupied Latvia. They then traveled farther west as the front lines between Germany and Latvia moved closer to their home each day. ‘Our family is extremely proud of our Latvian roots. And everything our family went though.’ Burvis said. ‘We grew up hearing stories about where our family came from.’ His family’s exodus took them through a ravaged Poland, where his family briefly stayed in a concentration camp, as German soldiers evacuated hordes of refugees to safer areas and eventually to Nazi Germany. Exactly how his family made it through safely, they don’t know,” just like TRUMPISTAN WATCH too! But “Eventually, the Burvises made their way to the United States and found a Latvian community in Ohio, where the family lives to this day.” And like TRUMPISTAN WATCH, “His grandfather never returned to the old country.” Recall: the first U.S. soldier killed in combat this year was Mihail Golin who was a Latvian immigrant.

From Stars and Stripes.



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