—–ON THE AGENDA—–
COHEN HEARING TODAY; TRUMP WILLING TO REVIEW DOCUMENTS
The AP reports, “A lawyer for President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the president is ready to help recommend what materials seized from his personal attorney that relate to him should be withheld from federal investigators because of attorney-client privilege. The lawyer, Joanna Hendon, said the president would assist a team of attorneys with experience at handling large document reviews.” If that flies, what was the point f even carrying out the raid? It also tells you how nervous our fake Russian bullshit president is. Smell the fear. The AP adds, “‘Our client will make himself available, as needed, to aid in our privilege review on his behalf,’ the former federal prosecutor wrote to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood. Hendon’s letter came after Wood set a hearing for Thursday on the matter, asking lawyers for Trump and the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to explain how they will review materials being turned over to them by prosecutors.”
From the AP.
JILL STEIN TO ANNOUNCE VIA LETTER NO COOPERATION WITH SENATE INTEL
The Intercept reports, “The Jill Stein campaign is refusing to comply fully with a Senate intelligence committee request for documents and other correspondence, made as part of the committee’s probe into Russian activities in the 2016 election, according to a letter to be delivered Thursday to the panel by an attorney for the campaign.” Isn’t that curious? As a useful idiot who once dined with Putin at a table she shared with Michael Flynn, old habits die hard as The Intercept adds, “The Green Party campaign will agree to turn over some documents, but raised constitutional objections to the breadth of the inquiry, which was first made in November 2017, arguing that elements of it infringe on basic political rights enshrined in the First Amendment.” Not treason, girlfriend.
From The Intercept.
VIVE LA FRANCE!
The Washington Post reports, “French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday delivered an impassioned call for multilateralism and U.S. engagement in the world, saying it was ‘an essential part of our confidence in the future.’” Everything he had to say to Congress was good and even the way he says “ignorance” is better. The Washington Post adds, “Speaking to a joint meeting of Congress, amid frequent standing ovations and cheers, Macron recalled the long history of U.S.-French relations, and the countries’ shared values and culture in areas as diverse as democracy and freedom, human and civil rights, literature, jazz and the ‘Me Too’ movement.” None of those things are viewed favorably by the death cult GOP so this took some incredible cojones. The Washington Post notes, “Much of what he said, although couched in stirring and global terms, posed a direct challenge to the Trump administration and to the U.S. president with whom Macron has said he has a special relationship,” whereby Trump acts like a complete buffoon and Macron and his wife Bridgette get to laugh inwardly in the moment and cackle outwardly to each other later in private. Additionally, “Macron expressed hope that the United States would reenter the Paris climate accord, which President Trump exited early in his administration.” Furthermore, “Macron called for the free world to ‘push aside’ the forces of ‘isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism,’ and to ‘shape our common answers to the global threats that we are facing’ with an updated multilateralism, lest the post-World War II institutions that ‘you built,’ including the United Nations and NATO, be destroyed.” And it was well received, as The Washington Post notes, “Macron’s ability to charm and stir lawmakers on both sides of the aisle was clear. Top members of both parties heartily applauded Macron after his 50-minute speech, and several rank-and-file members gathered in the well of the House chamber to introduce themselves and offer their congratulations.” In a tweet, Macron noted, “On the same day, April 25th, in 1960, Général de Gaulle conveyed the same message of respect and friendship to the U.S. Congress.” And he hugged John Lewis. Vive la France!
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP TO MEET MERKEL TOMORROW ON HEELS OF MACRON VISIT
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump will welcome Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on April 27, another in a flurry of meetings with top U.S. allies.” The Washington Post adds, “Merkel visited Trump last year, but that meeting appeared to get off to a rocky start when Trump failed to shake her hand during a photo op in the Oval Office.” He only likes to touch women who are less powerful than him and even then in no such genteel way.
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP LAWYER + KNOWN FASCIST GIULIANI MET WITH ROBERT MUELLER
The Washington Post reports, “Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s new personal lawyer dealing with the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, met with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday to reopen negotiations for a presidential interview”. The Washington Post adds, “Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team last week, conveyed the ongoing resistance of Trump and his advisers to an interview with federal investigators, but did not rule out the possibility”. The Washington Post continues, “In response, Mueller reiterated that he would like a chance to ask Trump questions about steps he took during the transition and early months of his administration”. The Washington Post notes, “Still, Trump remains ‘extremely opposed’ to granting Mueller an interview, according to one close adviser — setting up a potential high-stakes legal battle between the White House and the special counsel, who could ultimately seek to try to subpoena the president.” Can you imagine if the fake Russian bullshit president of the former USA were to plead the fifth?
From The Washington Post.
MICHAEL COHEN WILL PLEAD THE FIFTH IN STORMY SUIT
ABC News reports that meanwhile on mobbed up planet Michael Cohen that he “plans to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a civil lawsuit involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels, according to court documents. Cohen submitted the declaration in a court filing in California late Wednesday afternoon.” ABC News recalls, “Federal agents conducting the April 9 searches related to Cohen’s business dealings seized about ten boxes of documents, plus electronic files on multiple phones and electronic devices, according to court records. Cohen says in his letter that he ‘first realized that his Fifth Amendment rights would be implicated in this case’ on April 10 – one day after the FBI’s raids. Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti wasted no time responding to the filing, tweeting that Cohen’s move is a ‘stunning development.’” So even if the fake Russian bullshit president is not yet pleading the fifth, his personal attorney and fixer very much is.
From ABC News.
BANNON WAS BATTING PUTIN’S MESSAGE + FLYNN WAS A CONSULTANT
Bloomberg reports, “Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told House Democrats that Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former adviser, was behind much of the company’s early focus on promoting public discontent to influence U.S. elections.” Bloomberg notes, “Bannon served as vice president and secretary of Cambridge Analytica from June 2014 through August 2016, according to a government disclosure report he filed. Bannon said he wanted to use Cambridge Analytica to discourage specific groups of people from voting, including those likely to vote for Democrats, Wylie told lawmakers”. Bloomberg adds, “In something that Wylie said he couldn’t fully explain, he also reported that Bannon directed Cambridge Analytica in 2014 to test images and concepts for an American audience relating to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian expansion in Eastern Europe.” Oh? WTF is that? USA Today adds, “Wylie said Michael Flynn as a consultant for Cambridge Analytica and was hired to ‘open doors’ and ‘look at potential contracts’ in the United States and abroad.” Recall Flynn took a plea deal late last year of one count of lying to the FBI in exchange for his cooperation and was fired after 24 days on the job as National Security Advisor at the start of the catastrophe, allegedly for lying to Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian Ambassador at the time Sergey Kislyak.
RELATED: CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD AS KOGAN SAYS NIX LIED
BuzzFeed News reports, “Suspended Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix lied to parliament over the company’s use of Facebook data, according to the Cambridge University academic who obtained the profiles at the centre of a global scandal. Aleksandr Kogan gave evidence to the UK Commons committee for digital culture, media, and sport on Tuesday.” BuzzFeed News adds, “He was the former head of Global Science Research (GSR) – the firm which harvested the tens of millions of Facebook profiles that were allegedly used in elections around the world by Cambridge Analytica without the users’ consent. He accused Nix of a ‘total fabrication’ when it came to denying the links between Cambridge Analytica and GSR’s data.” BuzzFeed News notes, “If Kogan’s claims are true, Nix could be found in contempt of parliament.” Business Insider adds, “Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Facebook promising not to misuse people’s data,” something, “Facebook confirmed”.
From BuzzFeed News.
FARABOOK FINDS CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA + AGGREGATE IQ CONNECTED
Business Insider reports, “Facebook has discovered connections between Canadian data firm AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica, despite the two firms consistently denying any mutual involvement. In evidence handed to British politicians on Thursday, Facebook wrote that it found ‘certain billing and administration connections’ between the two firms. Facebook also said AggregateIQ had spent approximately $US2 million on pages relating to the Brexit vote in 2016.”
From Business Insider.
DO NOT CONTRIBUTE
POLITICO reports, “A former Donald Trump campaign aide with connections to Moscow is getting help to pay what he says are mounting legal fees tied to the Russia investigations. Associates of Michael Caputo have set up a new fund to help cover some of Caputo’s $125,000 in estimated costs connected to being a witness for multiple congressional investigations tied to the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as for special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.” So that’s the minimum price tag before you factor in the career killer that is everything our fake Russian bullshit president touches. POLITICO notes, “Caputo has often spoken about his funding challenges, telling reporters he was going to liquidate his kids’ college fund to pay for his attorney Dennis Vacco, a former U.S. attorney and New York state attorney general.” So your kids will not be educated and impoverished too if you work for Trump, but that could happen anyways with Trump squatting in the White House. Hilariously, “The GoFundMe page for Caputo — created on Sunday — was established both for small and large donations and for people who want to remain anonymous. As of Wednesday afternoon, it had so far raised $835 toward a $100,000 goal. Another trust account is also set up for mail donations.” By contrast, the former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe who Trump fired after treating as a foil for months raised half a million in a matter of days. Tells you where the American people are.
NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ASK FEDERAL COURT TO UNSEAL MUELLER DOCS
The Washington Post reports, “A coalition of news organizations, including The Washington Post, asked a federal court Tuesday to unseal materials used by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to obtain search warrants in his investigation of President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others indicted in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The news organizations are seeking to compel disclosure of affidavits, records of seizures and the warrants themselves that Mueller filed in bringing indictments against such figures as Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.” The Washington Post adds, “They said the material, which has been shielded under a court order, could contain newsworthy information about the shape and direction of Mueller’s investigation. It could indicate, for example, details of criminal activity suspected by Mueller and the basis for FBI searches. The Post filed the joint motion with the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN and Politico.” The Washington Post notes, “The request covers warrant material used in the investigation of former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, Manafort associate Rick Gates and 13 Russian nationals who worked for the Internet Research Agency,” the notorious troll farm.
From The Washington Post.
WHEN THE WHIP COMES DOWN: FOLLOW THE MONEY
Reuters reports, “U.S. senators are pressing many of the world’s largest financial institutions to disclose any links between their companies and wealthy Russians allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a letter released on Tuesday. Two Democratic senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Sheldon Whitehouse, have written to the banks, hoping to increase pressure not just on individuals on the U.S. Treasury’s so-called ‘oligarchs list,’ but also on financial institutions to closely consider those with whom they do business as Washington moves to impose sanctions on Moscow.” Reuters adds, “The letter was sent to three large U.S. banks – Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase and Citibank [C.UL] – as well as Europe-based Barclays, Deutsche Bank, UBS, HSBC and Credit Suisse.” Reuters notes, “The letter asked each bank whether it had, within five years, conducted a review to determine if it had any accounts controlled by anyone on the list released on Jan. 29 of oligarchs or senior Russian political figures,” adding, “If the banks do not provide the information, the senators plan to seek potentially more intrusive action, such as a government investigation.”
FEINSTEIN INTRODUCES BILL TO REMOVE COMPROMISING SOFTWARE ASAP
The Hill reports, “Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that aims to boost the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to protect federal computer networks from foreign attacks. Feinstein’s Federal Network Protection Act clarifies that the head of the DHS has the authority to issue orders, known as binding operational directives, to remove compromised software from federal systems before notifying the ‘affected software company’ about such changes.”
From The Hill.
GEN. PAUL NAKASONE CONFIRMED TO LEAD THE NSA
The Washington Post reports, “Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday to be the next director of the National Security Agency and the leader of U.S. Cyber Command, putting him in charge of the nation’s largest spy agency and the military’s cyber warfare organization. Nakasone, 54, will succeed Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who is retiring.” The Washington Post adds Nakasone “acknowledged that when it comes to Russia’s campaign against the United States, ‘the most important thing is we want the behavior to change.’ He also said that a ‘series of offensive plans’ have been developed to thwart Russian cyber aggression, but declined to detail them in public. Nakasone currently leads Army Cyber Command, which is part of Cybercom, and over more than 30 years in the military he has acquired experience in cyberoperations and signals intelligence.” The Washington Post notes, “Rogers is retiring after 37 years of service. He began his career in 1981 as a surface warfare officer in the Navy and took up the NSA and Cybercom job in April 2014 after a major breach by Edward Snowden, then an NSA contractor, whose disclosures of sensitive surveillance programs rocked public trust in the agency and its relations with the private sector.”
From The Washington Post.
NET NEUTRALITY IS NOT FORMALLY DEAD YET
TechDirt reports, “Numerous news outlets this week proudly, but inaccurately, declared that net neutrality was now officially dead.” Confession: TRUMPISTAN WATCH among them based on news reports. TechDirt adds, “Consumer advocate Harold Feld, who arguably knows more about FCC policy than anybody else in the States, dug deep into the policy weeds over at his blog explaining what’s going on. The overly-simplistic version: Before net neutrality gets formally repealed and flimsy replacement policies take effect, the FCC will wait for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review the much weaker transparency rule under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Once OMB signs off, the FCC will publish a second notice in the Federal Register announcing when everything goes into effect. That’s expected sometime in the next month or two, but it hasn’t happened yet, meaning that net neutrality rules remain on the books, for now.”
US OFFICIALS INSPECT RUSSIAN CONSULAR HOME IN SEATTLE
The AP reports, “U.S. State Department officials have drilled out locks to inspect the former Russian consul general’s Seattle residence, a day after Russian staff vacated the site.” The AP adds, “The Seattle Times reports a locksmith behind a blue tarp drilled out the front gate’s lock on Wednesday, and that U.S. officials moved on to the residence’s front door and a basement door. The Russian Embassy objected on Twitter, describing it as an invasion. The Russians own the building and the U.S. owns the land it sits on. The State Department said it conducted a residence walk-through to ensure the Russians had left.”
From the AP.
AMONG EXPELLED RUSSIAN SPIES IN US THOSE TRACKING DEFECTORS
CNN reports, “Among the dozens of Russian diplomats the US expelled last month were suspected spies who US law enforcement and intelligence officials believe were tracking Russian defectors and their families who had resettled in the US”. CNN adds, “In at least one instance, suspected Russian spies were believed to be casing someone who was part of a CIA program that provided new identities to protect resettled Russians”. CNN notes, “That episode and other US intelligence raised concerns that the Russians were preparing to target Russian émigrés in the US labeled by the Kremlin as traitors or enemies, law enforcement and intelligence officials said.”
UK WON’T MATCH US SANCTIONS; OTHER REPORTS SUGGEST NAME + SHAME
The Telegraph reports, “Britain and the US will not stand shoulder to shoulder against Putin’s regime as the EU is never likely to agree to tough sanctions.” The Telegraph adds, “unified financial sanctions are more difficult to arrange, as the UK only joins actions when they are imposed either at the UN or the EU level.” The Daily Mail however reports, “Russian oligarchs who stash their dirty money in Britain’s overseas territories look set to be named and shamed under new laws to be imposed on Theresa May.” Let’s see how this shakes out in time.
RUSSIAN NOVICHOK DEVELOPER HIT BY CAR
The Moscow Times reports, “One of the developers of a military-grade nerve agent that Britain says was used to poison a former double agent has reportedly been hospitalized after being hit by a car. Vladimir Uglev was one of the Soviet scientists involved in the development of a Novichok-class lethal agent that London says almost killed ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last month.” The Moscow Times adds, “The retired Soviet scientist told The Bell on Wednesday he had been hit while crossing the street close to his home near the Black Sea resort town of Anapa on Tuesday. Uglev says he was hospitalized with head and foot injuries and is recovering.”
From The Moscow Times.
RUSSIA’S ARMED DRONE DESIGNER UNDER ARREST
Defense One reports, “The Elon Musk of Russian drones is under arrest in Tatarstan, charged with fraud — a situation that some observers say has the look of a shakedown. Either way, the unusual case could slow the Russian military’s UAV ambitions. On April 16, local law enforcement in Tatarstan arrested Alexander Gomzin, the general director and chief designer for the OKB Simonov Design Bureau, on charges of ‘abuse of authority, misappropriation of budgetary funds and fraud’ — in essence, lying and embezzlement, according to the Russian news site Business Online.” Defense One notes, “Simonov’s important defense contracts include a mysterious five-ton, medium- or high-altitude long-endurance armed drone, tentatively called Altair or Altius. The group is also working on the Zenitsa air-launched drone and even an unnamed turbojet drone. The firm scored a billion rubles from the Russian government to make all of these marvels of war.”
From Defense One.
REUTERS FOLLOWS OFFICIALLY NON-EXISTANT RUSSIAN MERCENARIES
Reuters reports, “The Kremlin says it has nothing to do with Russian civilians fighting in Syria but on three recent occasions groups of men flying in from Damascus headed straight to a defense ministry base in Molkino”. Reuters notes, “Molkino in southwestern Russia is where the Russian 10th Special Forces Brigade is based, according to information on the Kremlin website. The destination of the Russians arriving from Syria provides rare evidence of a covert Russian mission in Syria beyond the air strikes, training of Syrian forces and small numbers of special forces troops acknowledged by Moscow.” Reuters adds, “More than 2,000 Russian contractors are fighting to help Syrian forces recapture land from their opponents, several sources, including one contractor, have said. The contractors are transferred by Syrian airline Cham Wings,” noting, “Reuters reporters saw a Syrian Cham Wings charter flight from Damascus land at the civilian airport in Rostov-on-Don on April 17 and watched groups of men leave the terminal through an exit separate from the one used by ordinary passengers.” Reuters followed the buses they were loaded onto from there and observed as, “The three buses then left the airport in convoy and headed south; two made stops near cafes along the way and one on the roadside. All three reached the village of Molkino, 350 km (220 miles) south, shortly before midnight. In the village, each bus paused for a minute or two at a checkpoint manned by at least two servicemen, before driving on. About 15-20 minutes later the buses drove back through the checkpoint empty. Publicly available satellite maps show the road leads to the military facility.” Additionally, “One of the buses, a white 33-year-old Neoplan with a slogan of a tourist company on its boards, was imported into Russia in 2007 and initially registered in the town of Pechory. Dmitry Utkin, identified by three sources as leader of the contractors, previously commanded a special forces unit based in Pechory.”
RUSAL SANCTIONS HIGHLIGHT RUSSIA’S WEAK GEOPOLITICAL POSITION
Reuters reports, “Moscow is holding off on taking retaliatory measures against the United States for imposing sanctions on Rusal, hoping the EU can persuade Washington to ease restrictions against the world’s second largest aluminum producer further”. Putin wants his meeting with Trump yet, too. Look how isolated they are. Life is beautiful.
GOOGLE DIALOGUING WITH RUSSIAN CENSOR ROSKOMANDZOR
Interfax-Ukraine reports, “Russia’s telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has entered into a dialogue with Google with respect to the restriction of access to Telegram, the agency said on its official website on Wednesday.”
RUSSIA GIVES HIGH RANKING AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL “ORDER OF HONOR”
News.Az reports, “Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev decorated Chief of Azerbaijan’s presidential staff Ramiz Mehdiyev with the Order of Honor on Wednesday on the sidelines of 9th International Meeting of High Representatives for Security Issues, Russian Security Council’s Spokesman Yevgeny Anoshin said.” This is fascinating in light of the fact that the former USA and Russia have used Baku now twice as a meeting spot for the highest-ranking officials from both militaries. Mehdiyev is a well-known and extraordinarily old guard influential figure in Azerbaijan.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO CALL OUT RUSSIA’S INFORMATION WARFARE
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The European Commission is set to single out Russia directly for what it calls Moscow’s ‘information warfare’ as part of EU efforts to fight back against online disinformation campaigns considered a threat to European security.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Several sources familiar with the draft process told RFE/RL that an earlier draft did not contain the part that directly names Russia. The sources, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak on the record, said EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini and Digital Economy Commissioner Mariya Gabriel were reluctant to single out a specific country in the document. They preferred, instead, that individual countries be named only in the document’s footnotes”. Recall: Russia only respects strength.
SLOVAKIA WILL SEND 152 TROOPS TO LATVIA
The AP reports, “Slovakia’s government has approved a plan to deploy 152 troops in the Baltics as part of NATO forces amid growing tensions between Russia and the West. Slovakia’s defense ministry says the soldiers will join NATO forces in Latvia, starting in the second half of 2018.”
From the AP.
AS VENEZUELA BURNS
The New York Times reports, “ConocoPhillips won a ruling on Wednesday that says it is entitled to more than $2 billion from Venezuela’s state oil company over the country’s expropriation of several oil projects more than a decade ago. Now the problem is trying to collect.”
From The New York Times.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
TRUMP “SOUNDED LIKE HE JUST WANTED TO WALK AWAY FROM IT ALL”
CNN reports, “For just one second during a press conference with the French President, President Donald Trump sounded like someone who wants to walk away from it all. And that’s with his political allies running Congress.” CNN adds, “Asked Tuesday about the political headwinds blowing furiously in the face of Dr. Ronny Jackson, his personal doctor at the White House who he tapped to lead the VA, he waxed on about the ‘ugly and disgusting’ confirmation process.” CNN suggests we, “Psychoanalyze this passage: ‘He is a man who has just been an extraordinary person,’ Trump said of Jackson. ‘His family, extraordinary success. Great doctor. Great everything. And he has to listen to the abuse that he has to — I wouldn’t if I were him. Actually, in many ways, I’d love to be him. But the fact is, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren’t thinking nicely about our country? I really don’t think, personally, he should do it. But it’s totally his — I would stand behind him — totally his decision.’ I’d love to be him, said Trump! So … he’d have the option of walking away?”
DO NOT WORK FOR TRUMP, IT’S CAREER SUICIDE: VA EDITION
The Washington Post reports, “When allegations of professional misconduct by White House physician Ronny L. Jackson started trickling during the past week to the Senate committee considering his nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, its chairman, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), called the White House twice seeking information. The answers did not appear to satisfy him.” The Washington Post adds, “The information void plunged Jackson’s nomination into peril faster than any other in a series of controversial Cabinet choices that have marked the Trump presidency. It also prompted a new round of criticism of how President Trump has been filling top administration posts — often without first conducting the kind of vetting that uncovers problems before they explode in public.” The Washington Post notes, “In Jackson’s case, his nomination was already facing scrutiny from veterans groups and lawmakers who questioned his management experience, his views on outsourcing VA services and his glowing description of Trump’s health during a January news briefing. Then came accusations that Jackson had contributed to a hostile work environment, had been seen drinking excessively on official trips and had improperly dispensed medications to White House staff members.” So here is a guy whose reputation at least publicly was pretty sterling and then he was touched by Trump and now he has committed career suicide before even assuming the mantle of Secretary of the VA. Sad! But do not try and work for Trump and think it will be different for you, it will not be, it never is, the result is always the same: career suicide. Naturally just before TRUMPISTAN WATCH hits send this morning, CNBC and many other outlets report, “White House doctor Ronny Johnson withdraws as Trump’s nominee to head Dept of Veterans Affairs”.
FROM START TO FINISH, IT’S ALL ONE BIG MAFIA: VIETNAM EDITION
ProPublica reports, “On Dec. 14, 2016, one month after his election, President-elect Donald Trump had a call with the prime minister of Vietnam.” ProPublica adds, “inside the State Department, officials were puzzled and concerned. Historically, post-election calls to heads of state are choreographed affairs. Careful deliberation goes into who the president-elect speaks to first and career diplomats deliver background briefings on issues to be raised and avoided. The Trump transition operation ignored those conventions. The contact with Vietnam was not set up by the State Department. Instead, Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, helped arrange the call.” Oh, why is that now? ProPublica reports, “Kasowitz had another client with a keen interest in Vietnam: Philip Falcone, an American investor with a major casino outside Ho Chi Minh City. After the Trump call, Kasowitz traveled to Vietnam with Falcone. They met with government officials as part of an effort to persuade Vietnam to lift a ban on gambling for its citizens.” Hilariously, “In an interview, Falcone denied he requested the call. He added there was nothing improper about arranging such a call.” Of note, “Falcone, who was barred from the securities industry several years ago after admitting to wrongdoing in managing his hedge fund, has been trying for several years to salvage his several hundred-million-dollar bet on Vietnam’s gaming industry. So far, that investment has not paid off”. Furthermore, ProPublica adds, “U.S. embassy officials in Vietnam heard about the call in advance from Falcone’s casino company, not the Trump transition.” ProPublica notes, “Falcone’s business interest in Vietnam goes back a decade. His Harbinger Capital fund has poured money — Bloomberg put it at more than $450 million — into a casino-resort called The Grand Ho Tram Strip. Located on a remote coastline 75 miles outside Ho Chi Minh City, the complex includes a gleaming Vegas-style tower, a golf course designed by the legendary Greg Norman, and a casino with 90 tables and a private area for high rollers dubbed the Pearl Room.” Curiously, “Two months before the 2016 election, Falcone’s team made a play to add political heft to the Ho Tram project, appointing a pair of new board members to the casino company: Tony Podesta, the veteran lobbyist and brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager; and Loretta Pickus, former vice president of legal affairs at Trump Entertainment Resorts, Donald Trump’s now-defunct casino company.” Pickus had a “onetime role representing Ivanka Trump” that was noted in a press release the casino company sent out after Trump’s coup.
IT COSTS $13K TO LOOK THIS FUGLY
Yahoo reports, “On Tuesday night, for the first state dinner hosted by the Trump administration, Ivanka Trump wore a $12,888 dress.” It does an injustice to describe this garish frock as merely overpriced princess faux couture.
GRIFTERS GONNA GRIFT
The Washington Post reports Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director and temporary head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), told “a conference hosted by the American Bankers Association, a trade and lobbying group,” that, “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.” The Washington Post notes, “Mulvaney’s helpful tutorial for lobbyists came near the end of his presentation, after he told them he will try to end public access to a database for consumer complaints about the financial services industry, a change long sought by the sector.”
From The Washington Post.
DON’T CRY, THE TRUMPISTANI ELITE BROUGHT IT ON THEMSELVES
CNBC reports, “The ongoing probes of Russian election meddling are roiling Washington, spawning new legal actions — and increasingly, emptying the pockets of the people involved in them. Becoming ensnared in a federal investigation into the links between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin can pose a serious financial threat for those involved at any level.” Yes there is a mult-tiered devastation effect to your life and bank account measured to match. For example, “Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime confidant and surrogate, told CNBC that his mounting legal fees already add up to more than half a million dollars.”
DON’T DO ME LIKE DARKNESS AT NUNES
The New York Times Magazine profiles DARKNESS AT NUNES destruction of all meaning on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, something TRUMPISTAN WATCH dutifully covered for the last fourteen months of hell. In the piece we learn, “[Former Speaker of the House John] Boehner rewarded Nunes’s loyalty in 2010, selecting him as one of just a dozen Republicans to serve on the 20-member House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,” and, “Nunes became a prodigious and daring traveler, designing such lengthy and punishing itineraries that he was often the only congressman on the trips. ‘He’d go to God-awful places like Djibouti and Jakarta and not come back for something like two weeks,’ one former Intelligence Committee staff member recalls. Nunes’s approach to the job set him apart from his fellow committee members in other ways.” Eventually, “Nunes gained a reputation as an inattentive student.” Part of the problem, “in the eyes of some of committee members and staff, was how Nunes did get his information. ‘He’d go out to these hinterlands and run into security guys there, and they’d give him crazy ideas,’ the former committee staff member says. ‘He wasn’t discerning. These guys might have something interesting that’s one piece of the whole puzzle, but he’d think whatever they had to say was the whole truth.’” Perhaps some of these “security guys” were KGB scum? Sadly, The New York Times Magazine assesses after a dive into the midnight run to the White House to run interference on the House intelligence committee’s Russia investigation that, “From the ashes of his own committee, though, Nunes has emerged in a far more powerful position.” Horror!
FELIX SATER GOT $21 MILLION IN KAZAKH OLIGARCH SCHEME
The New York Daily News reports, “A businessman whose name has resurfaced in the Trump-Russia investigation once received more than $21 million connected to an alleged money laundering scheme involving Kazakh oligarchs, according to court documents. Felix Sater, a 52-year-old from Brooklyn, has previously done business with the Trump Organization and was part of a push to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.” The New York Daily News notes, “Sater has a long history of deals in the former Soviet Union, including allegedly working with a pair of Kazakh oligarchs, Mukhtar Ablyazov and Viktor Khrapunov, who are accused of embezzling around $10 billion from a bank in their home country and stashing it in real estate around the world through a labyrinth of shell companies. Some of that money allegedly flowed into President Trump’s business dealings,” like Trump Soho. Additionally, “Sater has been linked to a $30 million Kazakh deal to buy debt in Tri-County Mall, a suburban Cincinnati shopping center, and then sell it at auction to a Chinese-linked company called APIC that paid $45 million in 2013. Previous reports have said that Sater was sued for allegedly withholding nearly all of that sale money — between $43 million and $45 million, a source says — from those involved in one of the alleged money laundering companies, Triadou, before a settlement in December 2013.” The New York Daily News reports, “The terms of that settlement have been secret, though court filings obtained by the Daily News state that Sater received ‘the majority of the funds he had withheld’ in exchange for ‘broad releases’ for companies involved. That would mean he pocketed at least $21.5 million.” Cool.
From The New York Daily News.
COMEY HIRED FORMER US ATTORNEY PATRICK FITZGERALD A YEAR AGO
POLITICO reports, “In May 2017, around the time he was fired by President Donald Trump, Comey hired former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a spokesperson at Fitzgerald’s law firm has confirmed.” POLITICO notes, “Fitzgerald served as the last independent counsel tapped for a major White House investigation, probing who in the George W. Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.” Recall: there was never a need for a special counsel for anything under Barack Obama. POLITICO adds, “Fitzgerald is also a partner at the firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, the same firm that former Obama White House attorney Gregory Craig left. Craig was the senior counsel overseeing a report Skadden put out on behalf of Ukraine’s government that is now a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump and Russia.”
COMEY’S BOOK OUTSELLS “FIRE + FURY” IN FIRST WEEK
Forbes reports, “Former FBI Director James Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, sold more than 600,000 copies in its first week of sales, according to its publisher. That’s 400,000 copies more than Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury sold in its first week, but that doesn’t mean Comey’s book will become the next Trump-critical blockbuster: Fire and Fury has been on the New York Times bestseller lists for 15 weeks and has sold more than 2 million copies to date.” Forbes adds, “Comey’s nonfiction book — published through Macmillan’s Flatiron Books in a reported $2 million deal — pre-sold nearly 200,000 copies before its release and consistently topped Amazon’s hourly-updated bestseller list following its April 17 release in the U.S. and U.K., as well as topping lists from Nielsen BookScan and iBooks on its first week.”
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
LET’S TALK ABOUT KANYE + HOW HE IS OWNED
Slate reports, “Conservative media and conservative people had a bit of sugar high in response to the Kanye-Trump lovefest on Twitter Wednesday.” Among those enthusiastically celebrating Kanye’s all out throw down throw up Trump trainwreck express were Sebastian Gorka, Ben Shapiro, Tomi Lahren, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk and of course Uday and the fake Russian bullshit president himself. As TRUMPISTAN WATCH noted in a tweet upon being notified of this culture wars development, “To all concerned about red pulled [sic] Kanye, consider outstanding rumors and Kanye’s own omission that they are broke, that Kim K’s bestfriend is now buds with Melania’s ‘agent’ and also this which is/was/forever will be a troll in a context of 2016,” with a link to a Teen Vogue story on the drama of what Kim Kardashian chose to wear to a performance of the Nutcracker at Christmas: a red hammer and sickle emblazoned sweatshirt and no pants. Curiously, Kanye was in Moscow in November 2016. How do you distract from the fake Russian bullshit president’s personal attorney pleading the fifth? Well, this is one way.
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