—–ON THE AGENDA—–
HOPE HICKS TO TESTIFY BEFORE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE
CBS News reports, “One of President Trump’s closest political aides is slated to appear before the House Intelligence Committee to testify behind closed doors in its ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election”. CBS News notes, “White House communications director Hope Hicks was supposed to appear before the committee in January, but her interview was abruptly postponed while counsel for the White House and committee sorted out the scope of her testimony.” CBS News adds, “one of the most charged issues likely to be addressed is Hicks’ knowledge of the White House’s initial statement, drafted aboard Air Force One, in response to press reports of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and Trump campaign officials. Committee members will presumably want to probe what role the president himself had in the process – which is also an area said to be of special interest to special counsel Robert Mueller.” CBS News recalls, “Hicks’ own role in responding to reports of the meeting may also be scrutinized. According to a report in the New York Times, a former spokesman for President Trump’s legal team, Mark Corallo, planned to tell Mueller’s team that Hicks said on a conference call that emails written by the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., about the Trump Tower meeting, ‘will never get out,’” which if she did in fact say that reflects her total lack of experience of all things Washington. The working assumption of most smart bureaucrats across agencies in Washington is that everything gets out eventually, even if that is only true part of the time, the expectation that it could be is there.
From CBS News.
REALITY WINNER’S LAWYERS TO ASK FOR COMMENTS TO FBI SUPPRESSED
WRDW/WAGT, the Augusta CBS affiliate station, reports, “Lawyers from both sides are set to appear in an Augusta courtroom Tuesday morning as the case against Reality Winner takes its next step in Augusta’s federal court. Winner’s defense is asking the judge to suppress her confession to FBI agents on the day she was arrested last summer and arguing she was denied basic Miranda rights”.
From WRDW/WAGT CBS Augusta.
HOUSE + SENATE DEMOCRATS WILL TRY + FORCE RUSSIA SANCTIONS
The Daily Beast reports, “House and Senate Democrats are teaming up in an attempt to increase pressure on the Trump administration in the coming days over its controversial decision to not immediately implement sanctions against Russia last month, as mandated under legislation that Congress passed overwhelmingly. This week, House Democrats are filing a resolution aimed at compelling the administration to implement those sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).” The Daily Beast notes, “The resolution names Russia’s ‘continued aggression in Ukraine and forcible and illegal annexation of Crimea and assault on democratic institutions around the world, including through cyberattacks.’ It mirrors a Senate resolution introduced this month by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).” Do not get too excited though as The Daily Beast adds, “The House and Senate efforts are largely symbolic, lawmakers acknowledge. And they’re unlikely to force real action absent Republican support. But Democrats are hoping that the effort will keep the spotlight on the sanctions as Moscow continues to destabilize Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and as Trump and his associates remain under investigation by the special counsel.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH currently has a FOIA request pending with the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the hopes of obtaining the real sanctions list that was shelved at the eleventh hour. Wouldn’t it be nice to know who these Russian-backed assholes pretending to run our government are really protecting?
From The Daily Beast.
IS $40 MILLION A ROUNDING ERROR? ANYWAY SEND SOME HERE!
USA Today reports, “The State Department on Monday unveiled a new program to counter Russian meddling in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. The $40 million initiative will battle state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda targeting the U.S. and its interests”. USA Today adds, “The program will be run from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) and is starting with a new $1 million Information Access Fund that on Monday announced a request for proposals from groups and agencies across the country. The fund will eventually grow to $5 million.” USA Today adds, “The Global Engagement Center will later launch a series of pilot projects developed with the Department of Defense with additional defense funding.” Note that compared to the State Department, TRUMPISTAN WATCH was up and running one month after Trump’s Inauguration. The work continues unfunded to this day.
From USA Today.
US WILL OVERTAKE RUSSIA AS WORLD’S LARGEST OIL PRODUCER NEXT YEAR
CNBC reports, “The United States will overtake Russia as the world’s biggest oil producer by 2019 at the latest, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday, as the country’s shale oil boom continues to upend global markets.” Our government is already a den of thieves just like a real petrostate! CNBC notes, “U.S. crude oil output rose above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) late last year for the first time since the 1970s, overtaking top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said early this month that U.S. output would exceed 11 million bpd by late 2018. That would take it past top producer Russia, which pumps just below that mark.”
US INVESTORS WANT ROSNEFT’S CITGO LIEN
Reuters reports, “A group of U.S. investors is seeking Washington’s approval to acquire the nearly 50 percent collateral in U.S. refiner Citgo held by Russia’s largest state-owned energy firm Rosneft, one of the investors said.” Reuters notes, “The move would prevent Moscow from seizing a large part of the U.S. refiner in the event of a full-blown default by its current owner, Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. Texas-based Citgo operates a 749,000 barrel per day refining network in the United States.”
NEW AUDIO OF RUSSIAN MERCENARIES AFTER ATTACK ON US IN SYRIA
Polygraph.info, a fact-checking site by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, “has obtained audio recordings from a source close to the Kremlin who said the Russian casualties were personnel from a private Russian military company who attempted to capture an oil refinery in Syria. ‘So, one squadron f**** lost 200 people…right away,’ said one of three mercenary soldiers. ‘Another one lost 10 people… and I don’t know about the third squadron but it got torn up pretty badly, too.’” There are several such audio clips transcribed by Polygraph.
INFLATABLE DUCK LANDS PETERSBURG ACTIVIST IN JAIL
The Moscow Times reports, “A St. Petersburg activist has been handed a stint behind bars for displaying an inflated duck from an apartment window during a protest last month.” The Moscow Times notes, “The yellow duck has come to symbolize corruption in Russia after opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s high-profile 2016 investigation into Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s alleged summer home suggested that it included an exclusive home for ducks.” The Moscow Times adds, “St. Petersburg police detained Artyom Goncharenko on Sunday for showing a giant inflated duck from an apartment window during Navalny’s election boycott demonstration on Jan. 28,” adding, “The court sentenced Artyom Goncharenko to 25 days for violating public assembly rules, the St. Petersburg court system announced Monday.”
From The Moscow Times.
DEVILS + DUST
The Hill reports, “A district judge has granted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort permission to be released from home confinement to attend his father-in-law’s wake and funeral in New York.” The Hill recalls, “Manafort on Saturday asked the court for permission to travel from his home in Virginia to Long Island to attend the wake and funeral of his father-in-law, who passed away on the same day”. The Hill notes, “The judge also ordered Manafort back in court on Wednesday over the new charges filed against him last week,” adding, “The arraignment is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.”
From The Hill.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
AMERICANS TRUST MUELLER MORE THAN TRUMP ON RUSSIA
USA Today reports, “When it comes to Russia, Americans have more trust in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation than they do in President Trump’s denials of collusion, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds.” USA Today adds, “By wide margins, those surveyed are convinced that Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election and that they will try it again. More than four in 10 believe Moscow’s interference affected the outcome of the election that put Trump in the White House.” The country is however slightly less divided than in past surveys in that, “A 58% majority say they have a lot or some trust in Mueller’s investigation, while a 57% majority say they have little or no trust in Trump’s denials,” USA Today notes. Perhaps more importantly though is how few surveyed trust the fake Russian bullshit president’s words as, “24% have ‘a lot’ of trust in Trump’s denials of collusion and 12% have ‘some’ trust; 57% have little or no trust.”
From USA Today.
FAKE POTUS FAKES COURAGE
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump’s assertion that he would have run toward the Parkland, Fla., gunman had he been near the school would have been a bold claim for just about anybody to make. ‘I really believe I’d run in, even if I didn’t have a weapon,’ he said during a meeting at the White House on Monday.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH really believes he saw the ratings school shootings garner, especially with such eloquent teenagers as key protagonists and has felt nothing but jealousy and as a result, has attempted to make himself the center of the story, as his overwhelming narcissism dictates. As The Washington Post notes, “Trump has no background in law enforcement or the military, and the boastful nature of the statement — the president was nowhere near the shooting when it occurred — immediately raised questions about his intent. And given Trump’s public track record in the face of proximate danger, his words instead ended up underscoring a separate truth: His actions have, at times, read differently than his tough talk.” The Washington Post continues, “The most frightened that Trump has ever seemed in public was perhaps a moment during a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio, in March 2016. The then-candidate was in the midst of speaking about manufacturing, when a man hopped the barrier behind him and rushed the stage. Trump stopped speaking, looked nervously behind him and grabbed and started to duck behind his lectern. He was then swarmed by Secret Service agents, who steadied him.” He was reacting to a cardboard sign. Then of course there is the fact that, “Trump’s detractors call him ‘Cadet Bone Spurs’ for his failure to serve in the Vietnam War though he was of age, and they have some facts on which to ground their epithet.” Not exactly the fearless one, the Great Lunatic.
From The Washington Post.
TROUBLE IN PANAMA CONTINUES FOR TRUMP ORGANIZATION
The Washington Post reports, “Last Thursday afternoon, the majority owner of the Trump International Hotel here in Panama arrived unexpectedly in the building’s swank Sky Lobby with an entourage. He wanted to fire the Trump Organization, which has managed the hotel since it opened in 2011. But the Trump Organization has refused to leave. Since that first confrontation, police have been called multiple times to referee disputes between owner Orestes Fintiklis — who blames the company’s poor management and damaged brand for the hotel’s declining revenue — and the Trump Organization”. The Washington Post adds, “On Monday, Panama’s federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into the Trump Organization, after Fintiklis complained that he had been unlawfully blocked from his own property.” And, “With that, this bizarre standoff turned a theoretical concern about the Trump administration — that, someday, the president’s private business might be investigated by a foreign government — into a reality.” The Washington Post notes, “As of Monday afternoon, the Trump Organization was still managing the hotel,” however, “there were obvious signs of trouble: On the building’s service floor, which houses IT infrastructure, telecommunications equipment and surveillance monitors, a Trump guard blocked the door, and other guards circulated behind him.”
From The Washington Post.
ARYAN PRINCESS IVANKA REMINDS US WHY WE HATE NEPOTISM
CNN reports, “In an interview with NBC that ran Monday morning, Ivanka Trump was asked a simple question: ‘Do you believe your father’s accusers?’ This is how she answered: “I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated there’s no truth to it.” Pardon!? It’s pretty inappropriate for Daddy’s daughter to be his greatest enabler while working in the White House and pretending to represent our nation abroad at such events as the G8 or the Olympics, that’s pretty inappropriate. As CNN notes Aryan princess “Ivanka Trump isn’t just a daughter. She’s also a White House senior adviser. She has an office in the building. She is seen as one of a very small group of voices the President listens to.” She is also so full of shit. Go home girl, if Aryan princess wants to play the little girl card then she should prepare to be treated like one. Little girls don’t have positions as senior advisors and little girls are not expected to answer the same questions as everyone else in a senior position either. As The Washington Post calls it, “The whole thing is just weird.” CNN adds her trip also fueled tensions with other staffers who are serious individuals or at least imagine themselves to be such as John Kelly, who “has remarked privately that Ivanka is just ‘playing government’”. Damning.
FINALE FOR MELANIA’S INAUGURATION PAY DAY FRIEND FOR NOW
The New York Times reports, ‘The first lady, Melania Trump, has parted ways with an adviser after news about the adviser’s firm reaping $26 million in payments to help plan President Trump’s inauguration. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who has been friends with Mrs. Trump for years, had been working on a contract basis as an unpaid senior adviser to the office of the first lady.” So all further laundering will have to be done more discretely, ladies! But the $26 million punches back as, “Ms. Winston Wolkoff, in an email, defended her work on the inauguration, denounced news coverage of it and challenged the characterization that her contract with Mrs. Trump’s office was terminated as a result of the news about payments from the inaugural committee.” Oh was it the most well attended with the biggest crowd too, Ms. Winston Wolkoff? The New York Times adds, “Ms. Winston Wolkoff said news coverage of her work was ‘completely unfair,’ but she did not specify any errors. But in a series of emails, she copied a lawyer from the New York-based law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and wrote, ‘There have been a number of unfair and untrue statements about me and I am reserving all rights.’” Well she sounds like a perfectly miserable human being, but a very wealth one.
From The New York Times.
MANAFORT ON THE SHORE: FROM CALI TO BROOKLYN
Reuters reports, “Federal prosecutors who have already indicted President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on charges of money laundering, bank fraud and covertly lobbying for pro-Russian interests may have additional leverage arising from a loan he received while engaged in the bankruptcies of properties in California,” adding, “Reuters has found new information about Manafort’s handling of the loan and its potential link to the bankruptcies”. Reuters states it as plainly as possible, “At issue is whether the failure to disclose a loan from a lender that was also the main creditor in the California bankruptcy cases represented an illegal concealment of material information. Reuters has also learned that over the past several months Mueller has begun focusing on Jeffrey Yohai, Manafort’s former son-in-law and his partner in four California property deals that failed and were placed in bankruptcy, as a potentially valuable witness in his probe.”
SKADDEN MAY HIT THE ROCKS SOON
ABA Journal reports, “A guilty plea by a former London associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is shining a light on the law firm’s work for foreign figures and their U.S. lobbyists.” After an associate, Alex van der Zwaan, pleaded guilty last week, “Now, lawyers at the firm are reportedly feeling uneasy amid special counsel Robert Mueller’s scrutiny of its work on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was allied with Russia.” Finally! Consequences will do that! Moral horror, suddenly! ABA Journal recalls, “The law firm was hired in 2012 by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice to prepare a report on the trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a political rival to Yanukovych. The Skadden report concluded Tymoshenko was denied counsel at critical stages of her trial but her conviction was supported by evidence. Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying about deleted emails and his contacts with Rick Gates, a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump.” ABA Journal notes, “Skadden has also represented Russian oligarchs and companies aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin.” This could be as bad for Skadden as Enron was for Arthur Andersen in the end.
From ABA Journal.
HORROR THE ATLANTIC CALLS RUSSIA “A GREAT POWER ONCE AGAIN”
The Atlantic features a piece by the Brookings Institution’s Alina Polyakova under a horrific headline labeling Russia “a great power once again”. The rewards for the America operation keep paying dividends. Polyakova’s position initially focuses on the Middle East in that, “Putin’s true geopolitical victory has been the successful undermining of U.S. interests in the Middle East, while establishing Russia as a major power broker across the region.” Polyakova adds, “For Moscow, preserving Assad’s rule was always less about Assad, and more about safeguarding what Putin saw as another domino in a series of U.S.-orchestrated revolutions in Russia’s backyard. The fall of the Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi disturbed Putin.” Polyakova notes, “By 2013, when popular protests broke out in Ukraine—a former Soviet state that many Russians considered to be a little brother—Putin, once again the president, could not sit by and allow what he saw as another U.S.-led coup to topple a regime loyal to the Kremlin.” Then the meat of the charge (and Obama apologists be damned): “The underwhelming U.S. response to Russia’s subsequent annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine emboldened Russia’s intervention in Syria. From Ukraine, Putin learned that the Obama administration would only go so far to support its allies. He saw that hybrid war, which emphasizes the use of asymmetric measures to buttress complementary military operations, was a useful tool for confusing the West while preserving maximum plausible deniability of Russia’s actions in Ukraine and elsewhere. This strategy includes the use of proxy fighters, unmarked soldiers (so-called little green men), and disinformation to deflect and distract from the reality on the ground. It should come as no surprise, then, that Moscow has tried to cover up Russian deaths in Syria while Putin purports to act as a mediator in the conflict.” The good news, of sorts, but not necessarily in the short term for the people of Syria or Ukraine or even America under occupation as Trumpistan: “Russia may well stumble into the fog of war”.
From The Atlantic.
DUGIN’S INFLUENTIAL DERANGEMENT
The Daily Beast profiles Alexander Dugin, Russia’s version of Alex Jones, whose views are so extreme that “he has been denied entry into the United States—not too surprising, perhaps, since in this country he is worshipped by the likes of Richard Spencer, David Duke, and others on the violent far right.” The Daily Beast notes, “his seminal work, The Foundations of Geopolitics, in which he promotes the idea of a vast Eurasian empire that looks east, not west, is required reading at the General Staff Academy for every Russian military officer above the rank of colonel.” The Daily Beast notes, “But in the West, Dugin’s book is dismissed as the work of a crank, when it is acknowledged at all. Only a 2004 article from John Dunlop of the Hoover Institution underlined this book’s influence. Dunlop rightly argues that the brand of fascism promoted by Dugin enabled ‘nationalist’ strategists to reassert, with some precision, Russia’s enlarged boundaries. Yet Dunlop, too, dismisses Foundations as ‘insane and repellent,’ as does a July 2016 article in Foreign Policy by Charles Clover. Arrogantly but also complacently, neither author mentions, let alone takes seriously, Russia’s subversion of U.S. democracy.” The Daily Beast adds, “The most noteworthy thing about Dugin’s book, though, especially given that it roughly blueprints both Russia’s recent aggression toward its neighbors and its destabilization campaign in this country, is that until very recently The Foundations of Geopolitics was never translated into English, not even in a version sponsored by the CIA.” So what is in it? The Daily Beast reports, “Foundations engages with obscure strains in 20th-century fascism, relying heavily, for example, on theorist Julius Evola, who advised Mussolini and the SS and promoted extreme misogyny as well as racism for use by the Russian elite. All sex for Evola is rape and a woman outside the home ‘a monkey.’ He and Dugin both sneer that modern men—not to mention gays, lesbians, and transsexuals—are ‘feminized.’ In the Evola-Dugin playbook, sexual and racist anxieties lie at the root of today’s Russian fascism.” The Daily Beast has translated “important passages” by Grant Fellows, which you should read for the reasons mentioned above.
From The Daily Beast.
RUSSIAN STATE MEDIA USES VIDEO GAME FOOTAGE AS STAND IN FOR SYRIA
The Washington Post reports, “In a stirring tribute to his country’s troops and veterans, Russian President Vladimir Putin honored the dead in Syria.” The Washington Post continues, “Channel 1 broadcast the tribute spliced with combat footage of airstrikes to emphasize the moment, including roaring Su-25 ground support aircraft and one quick glimpse through a sniper’s scope of military vehicles blowing up. That scene is from a battlefield where countless lives have been lost, but only in the digital world — it’s footage from the popular combat simulator Arma III, made by Prague-based Bohemia Interactive.” Naturally, The Washington Post notes, “it’s not the first time the Russian government has inserted video-game footage to purportedly show combat in Syria.” The Washington Post recalls, “The episode comes three months after Russia’s foreign minister said the country had ‘irrefutable evidence’ that U.S. troops were giving Islamic State fighters safe passage after a key Russian operation against the militants. As evidence, Russia provided images of drone footage, lifted from a smartphone game in which players attack nondescript convoys from the controls of a U.S. gunship.”
From The Washington Post.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
IN MEMORIAM: JAN KUCIAK, MURDERED SLOVAK INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST
POLITICO reports, “Even during the turbulent and lawless decade that followed the end of communism in 1989, no reporter was ever killed in Slovakia. Beaten and threatened, yes — on multiple occasions. But never executed with a single bullet to the heart or head, as befell Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírova in their home late last week. Ján, 27, was a talented investigative journalist whose focus was politically-related fraud.” At the time just before his death, Kuciak had been reporting on “the fraudulent payment of EU transfer funds to Italian nationals resident in Slovakia and with alleged ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, the organized crime group from Calabria.”
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