—–ON THE AGENDA—–
MANAFORT IN COURT IN VIRGINIA IN BID TO HAVE CHARGES DISMISSED
The Washington Post reports, “Prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election will appear in a Virginia court Friday to argue for the charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Manafort is seeking to have bank and tax fraud charges against him dismissed in federal court in Alexandria, arguing that the alleged crimes having nothing to do with the election or with President Trump.”
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP SAYS HE REIMBURSED COHEN FOR THE $130K TO STORMY
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump said Thursday that his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was reimbursed through a monthly retainer for a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to stop what Trump called ‘false and extortionist accusations’ about a decade-old affair.” The self-professed billionaire had to pay on the installment plan? The Washington Post adds, “In morning tweets, the president confirmed that Cohen entered into a nondisclosure agreement with Daniels, something Trump called ‘very common among celebrities and people of wealth.’” Yes, perhaps if you are a total sleaze bag who cannot keep his pecker in his pocket, which is probably most of them since men do whatever they think they get away with. The Washington Post notes the level of self-delusion involved as, “Trump stressed that no campaign money was used to reimburse Cohen, calling it a ‘private agreement,’” which was made to influence the course of the campaign, dingbat. “‘Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction,’ he wrote,” with a misspelling of the sort we have come to expect from the semi-literate oaf.
From The Washington Post.
GIULIANI LINKS $130K STORMY PAYOUT TO ELECTION
The Daily Beast reports, “Rudy Giuliani on Thursday morning contradicted his own assertion that Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels in October 2016 was not a campaign contribution. During an interview on Fox & Friends, Giuliani reiterated that Donald Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair. Then Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team this week, said: ‘Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton. Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He didn’t even ask.’”
From The Daily Beast.
GIULIANI WANTS PRIVATE RUSSIAN SESSIONS TO INTERVENE IN COHEN CASE
POLITICO reports, “Rudy Giuliani, who recently joined President Donald Trump’s legal team, on Thursday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to intervene in the investigation of the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.” POLITICO notes, “Guiliani’s request for Sessions to intervene echoes Trump’s repeated threats to get involved in Justice Department investigations, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling Russia probe.”
NBC NEWS REPORTS THEN CORRECTS STORY ON COHEN WIRETAP
NBC News printed a correction to a story it ran about the federal wiretapping of Michael Cohen’s phones that ran early on Thursday, writing, “Earlier today, NBC News reported that there was a wiretap on the phones of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney,” however, “three senior U.S. officials now dispute that, saying that the monitoring of Cohen’s phones was limited to a log of calls, known as a pen register, not a wiretap where investigators can actually listen to calls.” In the revised version, NBC News reports, “Federal investigators have monitored the phone lines of Michael Cohen”. In news that should still leave our fake Russian bullshit president and his fixer fearful, “The calls are logged by what is commonly referred to as a pen register, which records the number of the phone that made the call and the number that received it, but does not record the contents of any conversation.” NBC News adds, “Two sources close to Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, say he learned that days after the raid the president had made a call to Cohen, and told Trump never to call again out of concern the call was being recorded by prosecutors.” Additional proof that Giuliani is at least a fact-based fascist dealing with a fiction-based fascist comes in the form that, “Giuliani is also described as having warned Trump that Cohen is likely to flip on him, something Trump pushed back on, telling Giuliani that he has known Cohen for years and expects him to be loyal”.
From NBC News.
MARC MUKASEY NOT JOINING TRUMP LEGAL TEAM
The New York Law Journal reports, “Contradicting recent media reports that he may join the president’s legal team, Marc Mukasey said he is remaining at his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, where he has an active white-collar defense practice in New York.” Wait Mukasey does not want to board the Titanic as it is going down? What a goddamn pity for our fake Russian bullshit president.
From The New York Law Journal.
MUELLER PROBING ROGER STONE-RICK GATES CONNECTIONS
CNBC reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller is focusing intensely on alleged interactions between former top Trump campaign official Rick Gates and political operative Roger Stone”. CNBC adds, “Stone, a longtime advisor to Trump, is apparently one of the top subjects of the Mueller investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign”. CNBC notes, “The questions have been largely about what was discussed at meetings, including dinners, between Stone and Gates, before and during the campaign”. CNBC observes, “The new developments indicate that Mueller’s team is interested in Stone beyond his interactions with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the campaign.”
MUELLER SEEKS 70 BLANK SUBPOENAS ON MANAFORT CASE
Courthouse News Service reports, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday filed a request for 70 blank subpoenas in the Virginia court presiding over one of two criminal proceedings involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The two-page filing doesn’t offer much in the way of details, but each subpoena orders the recipient to appear at the federal courthouse in Alexandria on July 10 at 10 a.m. to testify at Manafort’s trial on charges stemming from Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.” Courthouse News Service notes, “The request comes one day before Manafort is expected to appear in a Virginia federal court where his attorney, Kevin Downing, will make a case for dropping of several counts against his client.” Good luck with that.
From Courthouse News Service.
UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR REFUTES STORY ON COOPERATION WITH MUELLER
Unian Information Agency reports, “U.S. law enforcement officials did not apply to the Prosecutor General’s Office for assistance in their investigation into possible wrongdoings by Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort, Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yevhen Yenin wrote on Facebook. ‘Neither the FBI nor [Robert]Mueller turned to the PGO with any requests for legal assistance in connection with the Manafort case,’ Yenin wrote.” Unian Information Agency notes, “The comment came in a response to the NYT article claiming that Ukraine officials, ‘wary of offending’ U.S. President Donald Trump, have ‘effectively frozen’ four criminal cases involving Manafort.” Additionally, “People’s Deputy Volodymyr Ariev, who was referred to in the NYT piece, stated that his words were pulled out context.”
From Unian Information Agency.
DEPARTURES: SAM CLOVIS FROM USDA, TRUMP CAMPAIGN
POLITICO reports, “Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign aide who had been serving as USDA’s liaison to the White House, is leaving the Agriculture Department and will return home to Iowa, a USDA official confirmed Thursday evening. Clovis’ last day is Friday. A ‘goodbye party’ was being held for him on Thursday night”. POLITICO recalls, “Clovis had served as a co-chairman and policy adviser on the Trump campaign and later led the USDA beachhead team for the Trump transition, but ran into trouble when President Donald Trump nominated him to be USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics. Clovis withdrew his name from consideration in November — before the Senate Agriculture Committee could hold a confirmation hearing — after facing a torrent of criticism from Senate Democrats and environmental advocates.” POLITICO adds, “Clovis had endured criticism for months, but his withdrawal came shortly after he was swept up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russian interests. While serving on the campaign, Clovis had supervised George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who struck a plea deal on charges he lied to FBI investigators about his communications with Russia-linked contacts. Clovis’ withdrawal followed shortly after news of Papadopoulos’ plea deal.”
FARABOOK PLACES CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA-TIED EMPLOYEE ON LEAVE
BuzzFeed News reports, “A Facebook employee, who helped harvest and sell data from millions of users of the social network for political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica in a previous job, has quietly been placed on administrative leave”. BuzzFeed adds, “Joseph Chancellor, a quantitative social psychologist for Facebook, has been on leave for a few weeks following revelations of his role in a data privacy scandal that has rocked the Silicon Valley giant”. BuzzFeed notes, “Global Science Research (GSR), was founded by Chancellor and his research partner Aleksandr Kogan, and obtained Facebook user data on up to 87 million people. Kogan’s involvement in the scandal has resulted in international headlines and testimony before a parliamentary committee last month. Meanwhile, Chancellor, who was hired by Facebook in November 2015 after leaving GSR, has managed to largely avoid the press.” BuzzFeed adds, “Chancellor’s employment at Facebook has put the company in the difficult position of explaining why it hired a person who violated its developer terms of service by transferring user data to another party.” FARAbook has sought to place the blame on Kogan in its PR, while deflecting its own role in hiring Chancellor.
From BuzzFeed News.
EX-CIA DIRECTOR LINKS JADE HELM 2015 SCARE TO RUSSIA
The Guardian reports, “Speculation about a US armed forces exercise that led some Texans to fear that the Obama administration was plotting martial law was stoked by a Russian disinformation campaign, according to a former director of the CIA.” The Guardian adds, “Russian bots were so successful in planting wild ideas during a military exercise called Jade Helm in 2015 that Russian social media bandits launched another offensive the following year, attempting to influence the presidential election itself, Michael Hayden told MSNBC.” The Guardian recalls, “The two-month summer exercise across multiple states was described as a large but routine realistic training event by the military, but it drew particular scepticism in Texas. The state, home to some of the country’s largest bases, was designated as ‘hostile’ territory for the purposes of the exercise.” The Guardian adds, “Rumours spread over the internet, now revealed as apparently fuelled by Russian bots, or fake social media accounts controlled by individuals or software applications. These were not discouraged by high-profile figures including Ted Cruz, the US senator, who said he understood “the reason for concern and uncertainty”, and the actor Chuck Norris, who described it as ‘likely more than a military exercise’. Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas who serves on a homeland security subcommittee, also voiced suspicion.” The best people! The Guardian notes, “Texas’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, lent a veneer of legitimacy to the growing hysteria when he ordered the Texas state guard to monitor Jade Helm ‘to safeguard Texans’ constitutional rights, private property and civil liberties’.”
From The Guardian.
NAVAL STRATEGY SHIFTS TO CHECK RUSSIA
Defense News reports, “The Navy and Pentagon planners are already weighing whether to withhold the Truman Carrier Strike Group from deploying to U.S. Central Command, opting instead to hold the carrier in Europe as a check on Russia, breaking with more than 30 years of nearly continuous carrier presence in the Arabian Gulf. But even more fundamental changes could be in the works.” Defense News adds, “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made clear as the military’s top civilian that he has a very different vision for how the military will be used in the future. And recent comments have hinted at big changes on the horizon for the Navy and how it deploys.” Defense News notes, “In an era of great-power competition with China and Russia, Mattis describes the Navy showing up where it’s not expected”. Defense News adds, “Experts contend that what Mattis is describing, a concept he’s labeled as ‘Dynamic Force Employment,’ would necessarily create tension with the Navy’s current deployment model known as the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, an iteration of similar plans that have been in place since the Cold War.” Defense News notes, “Another potential stumbling block for Mattis’ vision for a retooled deployment model is his desire for shorter deployments, specifically his 90-day deployment idea,” as basic geography and velocity intercedes and makes that hard.
From Defense News.
MEDIA REPORTS SUGGEST GERMANY BEGAN NORDSTREAM2 CONSTRUCTION
Russian state-run Tass, citing German state news agency Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA), reports, “Work on the preparation of the construction site for the receiving terminal of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline and office premises began in the German city of Lubmin (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania)”. Russian state-run Tass notes, “Earlier this year, the project received all necessary construction permits from the German supervisory authorities.” If Germany wants to blow up European security, they better work on their military and not be so miserly about paying for European security – or maybe they just don’t care?
From Russian state-run Tass.
US SANCTIONS ON VEKSELBERG HAVE FROZEN $1.5-2 BILLION
Reuters reports, “Assets totaling between $1.5 billion and $2 billion have been frozen as a result of sanctions imposed on Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and his Renova Group conglomerate”. Reuters adds, “As a result of the sanctions, all U.S. dollar bank accounts of companies controlled by Renova have been blocked, the people told Reuters, confirming an earlier report in Swiss paper Finanz und Wirtschaft on Saturday.” Reuters recalls, “Ties to Renova have caused difficulties for a number of European firms since the sanctions were announced, with pumpmaker Sulzer (SUN.S) taking a one-off hit from business disruption and agreeing to buy 5 million shares from Renova to free itself from sanctions,” and now we learn, “Italy’s Octo Telematics put its IPO on hold and Steelmaker Schmolz & Bickenbach (STLN.S) has faced snags in clearing a bond placement needed to finance a deal. Nonetheless, Renova, which is headquartered in Moscow and has a subsidiary in Zurich, intends to maintain its Swiss holdings, which also include a stake in Oerlikon”. Good luck with that.
POLICE ROUND UP NAVALNY ALLIES ON EVE OF PUTIN RECORONATION
The Moscow Times reports, “Police in several Russian cities have detained supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on the eve of his rallies against President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration. Putin is scheduled to officially assume his fourth presidential term on Monday, with Navalny calling on supporters to take to the streets in at least 90 cities for ‘He’s Not Our Tsar’ protests on Saturday.” The Moscow Times, citing Russian state-run Interfax reports, “Navalny supporters have been detained in St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Tambov, Krasnodar and Cheboksary,” and, “Activists in St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Cheboksary and Krasnodar have been reportedly held on charges of violating public assembly laws and resisting arrest. Navalny volunteers have also been apprehended and eventually released in Kemerovo and Ryazan”.
From The Moscow Times.
SHIT DMITRY PESKOV SAYS: RUSSIANS DON’T WANT TO FLEE THIS SHITHOLE
Russian state-run Tass reports, “Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called in question the authenticity of US Citizenship and Immigration Service statistics, quoted by Radio Liberty, to the effect that in just one year more than 2,500 Russians (40% more than in the previous year) have applied for political asylum in the United States.” Russian state-run Tass quotes the little guy in the Kremln’s spokesman, “We do not know how true they (these statistics) are,” adding, “In the sea of falsehoods one should be very cautious about interpreting any such figures. It is hardly possible to trust them off-hand.” Ridiculously Peskov then asserted the Kremlin has no opinion (but he already just gave us the Kremlin’s opinion). With a daughter cavorting in France and Switzerland and a son recently spotted traveling in Istanbul, pretty sure Peskov knows exactly how big of a shithole the country he has dedicated his life to serving is. Meet the true Russophobes: the people shilling for the corrupt mafia state.
From Russian state-run Tass.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
THE TRUMP NAME IS A SHIT NAME
New York real estate publication The Real Deal reports, “Residents of Trump Place at 200 Riverside Boulevard can move forward with a vote to take the president’s name off their building.” The Real Deal adds, “Judge Eileen Bransten of New York State Supreme Court’s commercial division handed down the ruling Thursday morning and decided the licensing agreement for the property did not require the building residents to use it the name. Residents had gone to the court to request a judgement on whether it had the right to remove the Trump name, after Trump Organization attorney Marc Kasowitz sent a letter to the condominium board threatening legal action if they attempted to do so.” The Real Deal notes, “Not every Trump Place condo owner was eager to let go of the name. One resident, who manages a Russia-focused public relations company with ties to the president, filed an affidavit in support of keeping the name, alleging the condo board hijacked the voting process.” The New York Times notes, “Condo owners at the Trump Parc in Stamford, Conn., are debating a similar move as the owners of 200 Riverside Boulevard.” In a correction, The New York Times also notes that Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten, not Marc Kasowitz, was responsible for the legal threat against the building’s condo board.
JOHN BOLTON + PAMELA GELLER, ISLAMOPHOBES R US
Business Insider reports, “Pamela Geller, a well-known anti-Islam activist, says she has had ‘positive’ interactions in recent years with John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, who has publicly associated with Geller in the past.” In case you need extra confirmation that John Bolton is only there for some Americans who have a belligerent, ignorant, and some might say fascist view of security, “Geller called Bolton ‘a fierce patriot who will do what it takes to defend the nation, and who has a clear and accurate understanding of the nature and magnitude of the threats facing us.’” Business Insider notes, “Geller and Bolton’s relationship goes back at least to 2005, when the activist celebrated Bolton’s 2005 appointment as US ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush.” Business Insider adds, “The far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, cited Geller”. She has also “long promoted conspiracy theories that American Muslims are trying to implement Sharia law in various parts of the US – a concern she says Trump takes seriously.” Ok, but what is the difference between the Shariah this crowd of ignoramuses fears and the policies being driven by their own death cult GOP?
From Business Insider.
PAUL RYAN IS NOW OK WITH CHAPLAIN WHO PRAYED FOR THE POORS
POLITICO reports, “Speaker Paul Ryan Thursday reversed his decision to force House Chaplain Patrick Conroy to step down after the Jesuit priest sent a letter withdrawing his resignation and as bipartisan outrage continued to mount.” POLITICO adds, “‘I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House,’ Ryan said in a statement. ‘It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body, and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post.’ Ryan said he plans to meet with Conroy next week ‘so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House.’” Good luck with that. POLITICO notes, “In a fiery letter to the speaker announcing plans to stay in the job through at least the end of this year, Conroy challenged Ryan’s authority to fire him from the post — a position elected by members of the House — and questioned the reasons Ryan had given for his dismissal. Conroy also hinted that his ouster was due to an anti-Catholic bias based on a conversation he had with Ryan’s chief of staff when he was asked to retire. Ryan did not address that conversation, but his chief of staff issued a statement expressing disagreement with Conroy’s recollection.” Meanwhile, “Democrats and some Republicans have questioned Ryan’s explanation, speculating the decision had more to do with internal pressure from Republican evangelicals than anything Conroy may have done.” POLITICO adds, “In the letter, Conroy speculated Ryan’s decision was much more political than the speaker has let on.”
GOOGLE + AMAZON END DOMAIN FRONTING TO HELP THE KREMLIN OUT
Bloomberg reports, “Google and Amazon have failed the test of whether they’d sacrifice their commercial interests in Russia (and other authoritarian regimes) to some higher principle. As the messenger Telegram tried to use the companies’ cloud services to dodge a Russian ban, the two U.S.-based giants ended so-called domain fronting, the practice on which Telegram was relying.” What did you imagine that leaders of industry have some sort of values which cannot be located either among our political elite, or if they did, that they were not beholden to money? Bloomberg recalls, “Telegram, which had 15 million users in Russia (out of about 200 million overall), was banned by a Moscow court last month after Russia’s domestic intelligence, the FSB, demanded its encryption keys, ostensibly so it could get access to suspected terrorists’ messages,” adding, “As Roskomnadzor, the Russian internet censorship body, told providers to block access to internet addresses normally used by the messenger, it began jumping between IP addresses owned by Amazon’s and Google’s cloud businesses. As Roskomnadzor moved to block entire subnetworks (blocks of IP addresses) to stop this, hundreds of businesses — including, at one point, Google Search — became temporarily unavailable to Russian internet users.” Bloomberg adds, “As the messenger Telegram tried to use the companies’ cloud services to dodge a Russian ban, the two U.S.-based giants ended so-called domain fronting, the practice on which Telegram was relying.” Why would surveillance capitalism not side with its fellow travellers in the surveillance industry? They have much more in common with each other than they do with any of us.
WHAT IS PRISON REALITY LIKE FOR REALITY WINNER?
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports, “Reality Winner, the Augusta woman accused of leaking a top-secret government report about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, said she has been jailed for ‘nothing,’ that President Donald Trump doesn’t like her and that she is being targeted,” according to her former cellmate. The Atlanta Journal Constitution adds, “the former Air Force linguist is keeping in contact with her mother by phone, writing letters to her supporters and maintaining a rigorous daily workout regimen, said Mikaela Uscanga, who was held with Winner in the Lincoln County jail for much of March.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution notes, “Winner, 26, has also suffered hardships. Another inmate attacked her earlier this year. Not wanting to be charged with another crime, Winner curled up in the fetal position and took a beating, Uscanga said. She also injured her knee in a nasty spill while being transported for a court hearing, landing face-first while shackled and handcuffed.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution adds, “Uscanga, 18, who is out of jail on bond awaiting trial on felony drug possession charges,” said, “I feel like she was trying to help United States citizens — because who wouldn’t want to know if the voting systems were being hacked, when you are the one voting for the president?” The audacity to not merely accept what our leaders tell us – and to do so while being women too! Winner is also a vegan so her health has been suffering in prison for it.
BLOWING UP THE LAST IOTA OF CREDIBILITY SARAH SANDERS MAY HAVE
POLITICO reports, “White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she learned President Donald Trump had reimbursed his longtime attorney for a 2016 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels at the same time most Americans did — when Rudy Giuliani revealed it in an interview on Wednesday night.” POLITICO quotes Sanders during the press briefing Thursday, “The first awareness I had was during the interview last night”. In a blast from the past, POLITICO notes, “‘I’ve had conversations with the president about this,’ Sanders said in a March 7 briefing. ‘There was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he’s denied all of these allegations.’ Asked by reporters aboard Air Force One on April 5 whether he knew about Cohen’s deal with Daniels, Trump replied: ‘No.’” POLITICO adds, “On Thursday, Sanders maintained that the president ‘has denied and continues to deny the underlying claim’ that Daniels had a sexual encounter with him.” Yeah, right. He just paid a porn star $130,000 because he is so goddamn generous.
RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS ARE NOW RUSSIAN TROLLS
The Guardian reports, “The Twitter account of the Russian embassy in London has been busy over the past two months, offering numerous explanations for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. All hint at a dark and sprawling British conspiracy.” The Guardian notes, “The embassy has published letters from what it claims are UK citizens expressing sympathy with Vladimir Putin. ‘Why include to poison his daughter Yulia who is Russian citizen and lives in Moscow?’ one ‘correspondent’ asks.” The Guardian adds, “The Skripal case vividly illustrates how the Kremlin has abandoned conventional diplomacy. Its foreign emissaries are now full-time trolls, with the ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, personally approving many tweets. Moscow’s tactics include sarcasm, denial, innuendo and noisy counter-accusation.” Meanwhile in their motherland, “Russian broadcasters wage a relentless campaign against Europe, she said, with an average of 18 negative references a day. Europe is depicted as dangerous, decadent, immoral, and home to fascism and revisionism. The EU is falling apart. Germans and Scandinavians routinely take children away from Russian families and give them to ‘gays’, state TV claims.” All this while the children of Kremlin and Russian elites live and study among such decadence! Of course, “Only Belarus and Switzerland get positive coverage,” The Guardian adds.
From The Guardian.
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