—–ON THE AGENDA—–
LITTLE VOVA’S RECORONATION SPECTACLE
Russian state-run Sputnik reports, “The ceremony of inauguration of Russian President Vladimir Putin will take place in the St. Andrew Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace on Monday.” Russian state-run Sputnik adds, “The Russian government will resign following the inauguration and Putin will then have a right to submit a candidacy for the post of prime minister.” The Washington Post reports Putin has several “lofty goals,” which include such fantasies as “new technologies and artificial intelligence, many of its notoriously poor roads will be improved, and its people will be living significantly longer.” No one expects him to fulfill any of these promises but the truly delusional.
TRIAL OF LATVIAN HACKER IN VIRGINIA STARTS
The AP reports, “Jury selection is set to begin in Virginia in the trial of a Latvian man accused of running a hacking operation offering malware products and services to cybercriminals. Ruslans Bondars is to go on trial Monday on federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and computer hacking.” The AP adds, “Authorities say Bondars and a Russian national, Jurijs Martisevs, ran a malware service that operated for more than a decade and was linked to major cyberattacks against U.S. businesses.” The AP notes, “Prosecutors say the alleged coconspirators include a malware developer who operated from Great Falls, Virginia. Martisevs pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy and hacking charges. He faces sentencing in July.”
From the AP.
TRUMP MAKES MARTIAL LAW THREAT OVER FAKE IMMIGRATION CRISIS
CNN reports, “President Donald Trump seemed to float a new idea about border control during a tax reform roundtable in Ohio. The President was in the midst of criticizing Democrats during a riff about border security when he slipped in the idea that people might ‘have to think about closing up the country.’” So that is a threat of martial law. Someone build a wall around our fake Russian bullshit president before he can damage our nation another day! Why does CNN call this “a new idea” instead of old, failing Soviet-backed bullshit of the sort General Wojciech Jaruzelski brought to Poland in 1981? Because that might require actually knowing something!
TRUMP’S $400 MILLION 9-YEAR PROPERTY BUYING BINGE QUESTIONED
The Washington Post reports, “In the nine years before he ran for president, Donald Trump’s company spent more than $400 million in cash on new properties — including 14 transactions paid for in full, without borrowing from banks — during a buying binge that defied real estate industry practices and Trump’s own history as the self-described ‘King of Debt.’ Trump’s vast outlay of cash, tracked through public records and totaled publicly here for the first time, provides a new window into the president’s private company”. The Washington Post notes, “Trump had access to far more cash than previously known, despite his string of commercial bankruptcies and the Great Recession’s hammering of the real estate industry.” More importantly, “how did Trump — who had money tied up in golf courses and buildings — raise enough liquid assets to go on this cash buying spree?” The Washington Post adds, “Trump’s lavish spending came at a time when his business was leaning largely on one major financial institution for its new loans — Deutsche Bank, which provided $295 million in financing for big projects in Miami and Washington.”
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP HIRED ISRAELI OPPO TEAM TO INVESTIGATE OBAMA OFFICIALS
The Guardian reports, “Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a ‘dirty ops’ campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal”. What’s so deranged about this is the Obama team may have hired some incompetent folks but they chased away anyone with a fleck of dirt on them compared to the Trump trash crowd, which is rolling in mud, like pigs. The Guardian adds, “People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to ‘get dirt’ on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal. The extraordinary revelations come days before Trump’s 12 May deadline to either scrap or continue to abide by the international deal limiting Iran’s nuclear programme.” Since the deal makes us all a bit safer, you know it has to be scrapped less Trump run out of enemies to rally around before it is his head that rolls. As this is totally tribal and as noted, Trump’s trash crowd is so very dirty, “It is also understood that the smear campaign wanted to establish if Rhodes was among those who backed a request by Susan Rice, Obama’s final national security adviser, to unmask the identities of Trump transition officials caught up in the surveillance of foreign targets.” The Guardian notes, “Both Rhodes and Kahl said they had no idea of the campaign against them. Rhodes said: ‘I was not aware, though sadly am not surprised. I would say that digging up dirt on someone for carrying out their professional responsibilities in their positions as White House officials is a chillingly authoritarian thing to do.’” Why was it not enough that Rhodes had no business being in the job he was in as a thirty-something with literally no experience but a couple of short fiction stories published to his name prior to running national security policy out of the White House? Is that not sufficient proof of incompetence? It is different when you are a white male, isn’t it?
From The Guardian.
MUELLER’S TEAM INTERVIEWS CLOSE TRUMP FRIEND TOM BARRACK
The AP reports, “Investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller have interviewed one of President Donald Trump’s closest friends and confidants, California real estate investor Tom Barrack”. The AP notes, “Barrack was interviewed as part of the federal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election,” adding, “The specific topics covered in questions from Mueller’s team were not immediately clear.” The AP adds, “This person said Barrack was interviewed ‘months ago’ and was asked a few questions about Gates’ work on Trump’s inaugural committee, which Barrack chaired, and but there were no questions about the money raised by that committee. A second person with knowledge of the Barrack interview said the questioning was broader and did include financial matters about the campaign, the transition and Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.”
From the AP.
VIKTOR VEKSELBERG QUESTIONED BY SPECIAL COUNSEL MUELLER’S TEAM
The New York Times reports, “Federal agents working with Mr. Mueller stopped Mr. [Viktor] Vekselberg, a billionaire businessman, at a New York-area airport this year, searched his electronic devices and questioned him”. The New York Times notes, “There is no indication that Mr. Mueller suspects Mr. Vekselberg of wrongdoing. But Mr. Vekselberg attended the presidential inauguration last year, and the interest in him suggests that the special counsel has intensified his focus on potential connections between Russian oligarchs and the Trump campaign and inaugural committee,” and, “Mr. Vekselberg also attended a December 2015 dinner in Russia where Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, was also among the guests and sat beside Mr. Putin. The dinner was hosted by RT”. The New York Times adds, “Another potential area of interest for Mr. Mueller is Mr. Vekselberg’s business in Cyprus, the Mediterranean nation considered a magnet for Russian money. Mr. Vekselberg has controlled a company that has been the largest single shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus. Around the same time that Mr. Vekselberg was investing in the bank, Mr. Trump’s future commerce secretary, Wilbur L. Ross, was its vice chairman.” The New York Times notes, “Mr. Vekselberg’s ticket to the inauguration came from his cousin and business associate, Andrew Intrater. Mr. Intrater, an American who lives in New York, donated $250,000 to Mr. Trump’s inauguration, campaign finance records show. Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned Mr. Intrater”. The New York Times adds, “Mr. Intrater is the chief executive of Columbus Nova, an investment management firm whose biggest client is the Renova Group, Mr. Vekselberg’s sprawling conglomerate that operates in the energy sector and elsewhere”.
From The New York Times.
FEDERAL JUDGE DOESN’T KNOW HOW RUSSIAN BULLSHIT WORKS
POLITICO reports, “A federal judge sharply challenged special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution team Friday, questioning how its indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on financial charges relates to Mueller’s core mandate to investigate alleged 2016 Russian election interference. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis said Mueller’s team seemed to be pursuing the case — which involves bank and tax fraud — in order to ‘tighten the screws’ on Manafort, in the hope that he will testify against others including President Donald Trump.” POLITICO adds, “‘I don’t see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate,’ Ellis said during an hourlong hearing in Alexandria, Virginia. ‘You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. … What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.’” Why does the judge imagine Manafort was given all this money to launder – because he’s so good looking, as Trump believes? POLITICO notes, “Despite the prickly, often-hostile reception Ellis gave prosecutors Friday, he issued no immediate ruling on a defense motion to toss out the case over Mueller’s alleged excesses. At times, the judge suggested he may conclude that Mueller’s initial jurisdiction when he was appointed last May was effectively expanded at a later point to cover the case he brought against Manafort in Virginia in February.” In response to the day’s events our fake Russian bullshit president called “the judge ‘really something special, I hear,’ and ‘a respected person,’” adding, “Ellis validated his view that Mueller’s goal was to pressure figures like Manafort”. For his part, “Manafort’s defense attorney, Kevin Downing, urged the judge to toss out the indictment or, at least, to demand more documentation from the Justice Department about how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided to appoint Mueller last May and what was in the special prosecutor’s scope at that time.” POLITICO notes, “Mueller’s team, who appeared unaccompanied at a hearing in March, were joined Friday by an Alexandria-based public corruption and financial crimes prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye.”
GIULIANI PROBABLY CAN’T GET A SECURITY CLEARANCE TO REP TRUMP
Reuters reports, “Rudy Giuliani, who last month joined President Donald Trump’s legal team in the Russia probe, lacks a security clearance and may find it hard to get one to see classified documents because of his work with foreign clients”. Reuters adds, “Former New York mayor Giuliani told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that he would apply for top secret clearance, along with another Trump personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. Trump’s outgoing White House lawyer Ty Cobb has a security clearance but no one on his outside legal team has had once since lawyer John Dowd resigned in March.” What does it matter anyways? The White House is captured by Russia so anything that goes in the front goes out the back. Reuters notes, “Giuliani’s work as a lawyer and security and business consultant during the past 16 years has included assignments on behalf of the government of Mexico City and the Qatari state oil company. Many of his clients have not been publicly disclosed.” Wasn’t Trump supposed to change this so that only scum of the earth passes muster? Oh, but “The security clearances are typically issued by the U.S. Department of Justice after FBI review,” and the war on “law and order” is only just beginning! CBS News adds, “President Trump’s newest attorney Rudy Giuliani — who seized the news cycle this week by claiming on national television Mr. Trump ‘reimbursed’ Michael Cohen for his $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels — addressed a range of foreign policy and domestic topics at the Iran Freedom Convention for Democracy and Human Rights Saturday afternoon, in a free-wheeling style that mirrored Mr. Trump’s.”
DARKNESS AT NUNES LATEST INTERFERENCE PLAN
The Washington Examiner reports, “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes announced Sunday he’s going to push Congress this week to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress. This extreme step is a culmination of the frustration the California Republican explained he’s felt in dealing with a Justice Department that had stymied his requests for information, during the panel’s government surveillance investigation.” Do see the next item about how he does not even read the material he so eagerly seeks. The Washington Examiner adds, “A Justice Department official shared the letter sent to Nunes on Thursday with the Washington Examiner, which explained that the decision was made after consulting the White House.” The contempt threat is DARKNESS AT NUNES’ response to the letter from the Department of Justice, which notes, “Disclosure of responsive information to such requests can risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interfere with intelligence activities”. DARKNESS AT NUNES works for Trump and probably Russia too, so none of this is of any concern unless it is his own cowardly life or that of our fake Russian bullshit president’s.
From The Washington Examiner.
DARKNESS AT NUNES DOESN’T READ WHAT HE REQUESTS FROM DOJ
CNN reports DARKNESS AT NUNES demanded “a fully uncensored version of a highly sensitive document from the Justice Department explaining how the Russia investigation began in 2016,” even, “warning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,” that, “he could face contempt of Congress, or even worse.” CNN adds, “Rosenstein finally relented in early April — and granted Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina access to the document with only minimal redactions to protect the name of a foreign country and agent, along with all members of the House Intelligence Committee. But when the pair arrived at the Justice Department to review the electronic communication, officials were caught off-guard by his next move. Nunes — sitting with a copy of the document in an unopened folder directly in front of him — opted not to read it”. CNN notes, “Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, reviewed a copy and since then nearly a dozen other lawmakers have gone to the Justice Department to read the document”. CNN observes, “As Nunes has moved aggressively to publicly sow doubt about the Russia investigation, the moment marked at least the second time that he has demanded sensitive documents from the Justice Department, only to choose not to read them — allowing his staff or Gowdy to pore through the materials instead.”
FBI OFFICIALS TIED TO COMEY, SPECIAL COUNSEL STEP DOWN
The New York Times reports, “Two top F.B.I. aides who worked alongside the former director James B. Comey as he navigated one of the most politically tumultuous periods in the bureau’s history resigned on Friday. One of them, James A. Baker, was one of Mr. Comey’s closest confidants.” The New York Times notes, “Mr. Baker had been investigated by the Justice Department on suspicion of sharing classified information with reporters. He has not been charged.” The New York Times adds, “The other aide, Lisa Page, advised Mr. Comey while serving directly under his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. She was assailed by conservatives after texts that she had exchanged with the agent overseeing the investigation into links between President Trump’s campaign and Russia were made public. In the messages, they expressed anti-Trump views but took aim at Hillary Clinton and other political figures as well.” The New York Times notes, “The decisions by Mr. Baker and Ms. Page to leave the bureau were unrelated. Mr. Baker said in a telephone interview that he would be joining the Brookings Institution to write for Lawfare, its blog focused on national security law.” Who knows where Page will land as she is a woman and there are fewer golden parachutes for those with lady bits.
From The New York Times.
AMBASSADOR JON HUNTSMAN TO SPEAK AT PETERSBURG FORUM
Russian state-run Sputnik reports, “US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman will attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) and speak at the Russia-US round table discussion session, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia (AmCham Russia) Alexis Rodzianko said”.
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO GERMANY RICHARD GRENELL SWORN IN
Deutsche Welle reports, “Richard Grenell was officially sworn in as the new US ambassador to Germany on Thursday, filling a position that had been vacant for more than a year. US Vice President Mike Pence conducted the swearing-in ceremony and said that Grenell was ‘uniquely qualified’ for the job. The 51-year-old former aide to United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Trump’s new national security adviser, had endured a long road to his ambassadorial confirmation. He faced stiff opposition from Democrats in the Senate due to his conservative positions.” Deutsche Welle adds, “Grenell was finally confirmed by the Senate in a vote along party lines on April 26, which coincided with Angela Merkel’s recent trip to the US.” Deutsche Welle notes, “Grenell becomes one of the most prominent gay appointees to serve in the Trump administration.”
From Deutsche Welle.
NRA IS NOT EVEN HIDING THEIR RUSSIA TIES ANYMORE
ABC News reports, “An ammunition distributor with ties to a recently sanctioned Russian oligarch is listed among the expected exhibitors at the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meetings opening in Dallas, Texas on Friday.” ABC News adds, “TulAmmo USA is a private company headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, but sells small-arms ammunition manufactured by the Tula Cartridge Works in Tula, Russia, about 120 miles outside of Moscow. The factory, one of Russia’s oldest and largest arms plants, is tied to a number of entities and individuals who have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, including Rostec, Russia’s state-owned defense conglomerate, and Igor Rotenberg, an oligarch who was recently targeted alongside several other allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” ABC News notes, “Alexey Solovov, the factory’s onetime chairman who was convicted two years ago on fraud charges and given a three-year suspended prison sentence, appears to have also registered five patents for ammunition boxes, packages and clips on TulAmmo USA’s behalf between 2014 and 2016,” and, “Igor Rotenberg purchased 46.176 percent of the Tula Cartridge Works in February 2017.” He got where he is because his daddy Arkady grew up with little Vova and played judo with him.
From ABC News.
UK ORDERS CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA TURN OVER DATA ON AMERICAN
The Daily Mail reports, “The Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered Cambridge Analytica to hand over all the information it has on an American voter or face criminal action. The watchdog group is backing Professor David Carroll’s efforts to obtain his personal data from SCL Group, which includes Cambridge Analytica.” The Daily Mail notes, “Mr Carroll is an associate professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City and researches the intersections between advertising and journalism politics data.” The Daily Mail adds, “The Enforcement Notice found in favour of Mr Carroll, saying his right to his personal information is protected by the Data Protection Act of 1998. The decision paves the way for 240 million people to request for their data back from Cambridge Analytica under British data protection laws,” which are clearly stronger than whatever bullshit we have on the books in the former USA where big tech has run wild as an unknown number of proto-Stasis flourished in Silicon Valley.
From The Daily Mail.
GOOGLE CHANGING ITS ELECTION AD POLICIES
In a reminder of how badly tech bungled 2016 and fucked us all, so nothing to see here, Tech Crunch reports, “Google announced on Friday a new set of policies around how it will verify election advertisers in the U.S. Specifically, any advertiser who want to buy an election ad on Google in the U.S. will now have to go through additional verification to prove they are a citizen or lawful permanent resident, as required by law. This process will involve having to provide a government-issued I.D. and other key information, Google says, and will roll out this week. It will also require that ads include a clear disclosure of who is paying”. Note: only in the former USA. Additionally, Tech Crunch notes, “Google says it’s building a searchable library for election ads, where anyone can look up this information”. The loophole is super simple to get around as, “The move is a first step towards Google making U.S. election advertising on the web, but only addresses ads about candidates running for office – not ‘issue ads.’” Plenty of room left for Russia and other foreign adversaries to maneuver!
From Tech Crunch.
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR: NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
Reuters reports, “U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers released details on Friday of a $717 billion annual defense policy bill, including efforts to compete with Russia and China and a measure to temporarily halt weapons sales to Turkey. The House Armed Services Committee is due to debate next week the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes the level of defense spending and sets policies controlling how the funding is used.” Reuters notes, “The committee will not release the bill itself until next week, but Republicans, who control the panel, and the minority Democrats, each released summaries.” Reuters adds, “On Russia, the proposed NDAA for fiscal year 2019 includes provisions such as imposing new sanctions on Russia’s arms industry in response to treaty violations, prohibiting military-to-military cooperation and providing more funding for cyber warfare. But it also includes a rule, backed by President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, that would allow Trump to end some sanctions imposed on Russia in legislation Congress passed overwhelmingly last summer despite the president’s objections.” The NDAA gets little attention outside Washington and defense policy circles but it is the big one, as they say.
CYBER COMMAND GETS NEW LEADER + UPGRADED STATUS
Reuters reports, “The Pentagon’s cyber warfare unit received an elevated status and a new commander on Friday”. Reuters adds, “Army Gen. Paul Nakasone took over leadership of U.S. Cyber Command”. Reuters notes, “Cyber Command was elevated on Friday to an independent ‘unified command,’ a bureaucratic change that for the first time puts it on a par with nine other U.S. warfighting commands.” And there is “a new $500 million Integrated Cyber Center on the heavily fortified Fort Meade campus” that “becomes operational in August”.
U.S. REACTIVATES FLEET RESPONSIBLE FOR EAST COAST + NORTH ATLANTIC
The Washington Post reports, “The U.S. Navy has reactivated a fleet responsible for overseeing the East Coast and North Atlantic — an escalation of the Pentagon’s focus on a resurgent Russia and its expanding military presence. The 2nd Fleet, deactivated in 2011 to preserve funds for new ships, will resume operations in Norfolk on July 1, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters Friday.” The Washington Post adds, “In a separate statement, Richardson invoked Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s national-defense strategy as key guidance to reestablish the fleet, which will extend halfway across the Atlantic until it meets the area of responsibility for the Italy-based 6th Fleet.” The Washington Post notes, “One concern the 2nd Fleet will immediately address: the threat from a now-modest number of Russian nuclear attack submarines capable of cruising in the depths off the East Coast”.
From The Washington Post.
OPCW CORRECT NYT REPORT ON NOVICHOK AMOUNT USED
The New York Times reports, “A chemical weapons watchdog amended statements on Friday that its leader had given to The New York Times, in which he estimated that 50 to 100 grams of liquid nerve agent had been used in the March 4 attack on the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England.” The New York Times adds, “A statement issued by the group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said the amount should be measured in milligrams rather than grams. The group went on to say that it would not be able to estimate how much of the nerve agent was used in Salisbury.” The New York Times notes, “The O.P.C.W., a global body created to oversee the elimination of stockpiles after the end of the Cold War, may add the chemical to the list of weapons it monitors.”
From The New York Times.
MASS ARRESTS AT ANTI-PUTIN DEMONSTRATIONS, INCLUDING NAVALNY
ABC News reports, “Police have arrested hundreds of protesters at opposition rallies across Russia called on Saturday to protest against Vladimir Putin two days ahead of his inauguration as president for a fourth term,” or forever president, whichever expires first. ABC News notes, “Thousands joined the demonstrations in dozens of cities that were called by opposition leader Alexey Navalny as a display of dissent ahead of the inauguration on Monday, gathering under the slogan ‘He’s not a czar to us’ as they protested Putin’s extended rule during which he has stifled political opposition.” ABC News adds, “Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who has become Putin’s most troublesome political opponent, was detained as he approached a rally in central Moscow, where a few thousand people had gathered at the city’s Pushkin Square. Mobile phone video shot at the rally showed Navalny being picked up by riot police and dragged by his arms and legs into a van.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty added later, “Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says he has been released from custody after he and thousands of other protesters were detained,” noting he wrote on Twitter, “They wrote up two protocols on me: organizing a rally and disobeying police, but at half past midnight they chose to release me pending trial”.
CONOCO PHILLIPS MAKES BID FOR PDVSA CARIBBEAN ASSETS
Reuters reports, “U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips has moved to take Caribbean assets of Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA to enforce a $2 billion arbitration award over a decade-oil nationalization of its projects in the South American country”. Reuters adds, “The U.S. firm targeted facilities on the islands of Curacao, Bonaire and St. Eustatius that accounted for about a quarter of Venezuela’s oil exports last year. The three play key roles in processing, storing and blending PDVSA’s oil for export.”
LATVIA BANS CHILDREN FROM PARAMILITARY CAMPS IN RUSSIA
The Baltic Times reports, “Amendments to the Law on the Protection of Children’s Rights, proposed by MP Karlis Serzants (Greens/Farmers) to ban Latvian children from participating in paramilitary camps in Russia and a few other countries, were passed in the final reading by Saeima,” the Latvian parliament. The legislation stipulates that children from Latvia may not participate in military activities or events in other countries, except in Latvia’s partner countries – NATO and European Union members. The bill also states that children may participate in such activities that do not pose threat to Latvia’s national security.” The Baltic Times notes, “As reported, schoolchildren from Latvia’s schools have on several occasions participated in paramilitary camps Soyuz in Russia, organized by the Russian association Courage of the Fatherland and Russian military intelligence veterans. The visits of schoolchildren from Latvia to the Soyuz camps in Russia were usually organized by the Soviet-Afghan War veteran Sergejs Ivans. The Security Police indicated a few years ago that the involvement of Latvian youth in military and ideologically-oriented camps in Russia causes ‘long-term risk.’”
From The Baltic Times.
Courthouse News Service reports, “Citing its troubles serving the company with a summons, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday asked a federal judge in Washington to push back the arraignment of a Russian business accused of funding the Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” Courthouse News Service notes, “Concord Management and Consulting was one of the entities controlled by Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin accused in an indictment in February of helping to fund the troll farms and fake accounts that flooded social media during the 2016 campaign.” Courthouse News Service adds, “The defendants were originally to go before the court for their initial appearance and arraignment on March 20, but the Russian government took ‘no further steps’ to serve them after the United States delivered the summonses, according to a five-page filing Mueller’s office submitted on Friday. Then, on April 11, two attorneys with the Washington firm Reed Smith – Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly – entered appearances on behalf of Concord. They did not immediately declare whether they could accept service for the company, but asked Mueller’s office for a host of information, including potential witnesses and discovery, according to the filing.” Working for the enemy, “Dubelier and Seikaly also requested ‘information about more than 70 years of American foreign policy,’ including each time the United States has attempted to interfere in foreign elections, according to Friday’s filing. Mueller’s office sent Concord’s summons to the attorneys on April 20 along with a request to clarify whether they could accept a summons on behalf of their client. The attorneys did not answer the question and instead sent the summons back to Mueller’s office”. For its part Russian state-run Tass reported, “The US District Court for the District of Columbia has decided not to uphold Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s request to postpone the May 9 court hearings where charges to 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations should be announced, according to the court’s document obtained by TASS on Saturday.”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
FEDOR EMLIANENKO, MMA FIGHTER TIED TO TRUMP, COHEN + PUTIN
The Daily Beast reports, “The Russian fighter was in Chicago, killing time with his entourage in the days before a mixed martial arts bout, when the call came. FBI agents were looking for him. A fearsome heavyweight known as ‘The Last Emperor’—and who’s beloved by Russian President Vladimir Putin—Fedor Emelianenko had been in America for only five days before the feds appeared at his hotel near O’Hare Airport on Tuesday, April 24.” The Daily Beast adds, “A decade before, Emelianenko had headlined an MMA league championed by Donald Trump and his personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. The outfit went bust after only two fights.” The Daily Beast notes, “Emelianenko was linked to the future American president as early as 2008, when the Affliction apparel company launched an MMA league in answer to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).” The Daily Beast adds, “In May of that year, at a press conference at Trump Tower, the real estate mogul declared his partnership with Affliction and announced its first pay-per-view fight. Emelianenko would be the star of the July 2008 bout—titled ‘Affliction: Banned,’ in a nod to the turf war with the UFC. Trump held another presser one month later to announce the signing of Belarusian fighter Andrei Arlovski.” The Daily Beast notes, “Cohen was named Affliction Entertainment’s chief operating officer in a press release touting ‘Banned,’ which drew thousands of fans to the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, and starred a Megadeth performance.” The Daily Beast adds, “Trump got involved through mutual business associates”.
From The Daily Beast.
DEPARTURES: PENCE’S PHYSICIAN OVER RONNY JACKSON FALLOUT
POLITICO reports, “Vice President Mike Pence’s physician has resigned, the latest fallout from the collapse of Ronny Jackson’s nomination for secretary of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jennifer Peña, who like Jackson is a military physician detailed to the White House, was among those who made claims of professional misconduct against Jackson to senators considering his nomination”. POLITICO notes, “Peña claimed in memos that Jackson might have violated Karen Pence’s patient privacy rights by sharing details of a medical incident involving the second lady with chief of staff John Kelly. The memos were first reported by CNN.” POLITICO adds, “The allegations were troubling to many in Pence’s office and the White House, who felt that Peña misrepresented the severity of the situation in an effort to harm Jackson,” and because she did so while a woman probably – different rules of white men! POLITICO recalls, “Jackson, a Navy rear admiral who served as a physician to President Barack Obama and continued in the West Wing to care for Trump, was nominated in late March to succeed former VA Secretary David Shulkin. Jackson withdrew from consideration on April 26 after Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released a document summarizing allegations by 23 current and former colleagues that the doctor overprescribed pills, drank on the job and created a hostile work environment.”
THE DEATH CULT GOP GONNA DEATH CULT THE RACIST, OL’ FASHIONED WAY
CNN reports, “How did the Republican Party — once known as the party of ‘law and order’ — become a party that could provide space for lawbreakers and extremists, thugs and criminals, hoodlums and hate groups? This astonishing transformation can only be attributed to the presidency of Donald Trump, whose words during the 2016 campaign and during his term in the White House helped make America safe for extremists.” CNN adds, “it is remarkable that party leaders have by and large not shown the backbone to condemn them.” CNN notes, “A criminal record is no longer a barrier to entry for GOP candidates.” CNN adds, “The candidates in question are doubling down on corruption and hate in Trump’s party. Even former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with the Russia investigation — is hitting the campaign trail and stumping for them.” Let’s take the example of, “Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is running for Senate, after receiving a pardon from Trump for a contempt of court charge for failing to curb his anti-immigrant and anti-Latino racial profiling policies in violation of civil rights. Accused of racism and mistreatment of Latino prisoners, Arpaio failed to investigate over 400 sex crimes — including the molestation of undocumented children — made inmates wear pink underwear, called his tent city for inmates a concentration camp, and established the first chain gangs for juveniles and women. Arpaio, a prominent Birther who questioned President Obama’s citizenship, received the blessing of Vice President Mike Pence”. Meanwhile, “In West Virginia, Don Blankenship, the former coal mining company head who went to prison for a year on mine safety charges that were brought after a disaster that killed 29 miners, is challenging Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Blankenship claims it was not racist to call Sen. Mitch McConnell’s father-in-law a ‘wealthy Chinaperson.’” And, “In Staten Island, New York, former FBI agent and Rep. Michael Grimm, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion, is making a comeback as a Trump loyalist after serving seven months behind bars.” Then there is, “Omar Navarro, who pleaded guilty to placing a tracking device on his wife’s car. The extreme right wing, pro-Trump candidate has support from Michael Flynn and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Navarro says Roger Stone serves as his adviser. And Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to assault after body slamming a reporter, is running for re-election in Montana.” Then there are the anti-Semites Arthur Jones and Paul Nehlen and the homophobe E.W. Jackson.
FLYNN CANCELS MONTANA CAMPAIGN APPEARANCE
The AP reports, “President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn canceled a campaign appearance Sunday in Montana for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Troy Downing due to an unspecified ‘family emergency.’ The cancellation of Sunday’s event was announced by Flynn in a video posted by Downing’s campaign.”
From the AP.
GREAT NORTH, HIGH TENSION
Writing in Bloomberg, James Stavridis, the former Supreme Allied Commader of NATO, notes, “Russia enjoys the largest ‘front porch’ along the Arctic Ocean. Across the ice are five NATO nations: Canada, Denmark (by virtue of its Greenland territory), Iceland, Norway and the U.S. Two other very close European friends of the alliance, Sweden and Finland, also have territory abutting the Arctic. On the NATO side, there are a variety of views as to how to regard the Arctic. Several years ago, as the alliance’s military commander, I was struck by the differing positions among the allies as to NATO’s role in the north — from Canada believing it should avoid any militarization to Norway advocating significant NATO patrols and surveillance in the region.” Stavridis adds, “Putin has taken an aggressive stance by ramping up the level of forces allocated to the region, adding both land and air units north of the Arctic Circle, while using his large fleet of icebreakers aggressively at sea (Russia has 25-plus while the U.S. today has only a single truly all-year capable vessel).” Stavridis reports, “All of this is complicated by the effects of climate change, which are rapidly melting the icecap. This is opening up important sea lanes of communications (shipping routes) and increasing the flow of both commercial and military ships and aircraft. While it will be a decade or more before shipping truly burgeons in the Arctic, China and Russia are planning and building infrastructure to dominate the trade routes.” How to fight? Well Stavridis suggests dialogue, noting, “First, the U.S. should invest in the international institutions that provide forums for dialogue between Russia and the rest of the Arctic nations. At the top of the list is the Arctic Council, a loosely organized but bureaucratically functional international organization with all the Arctic nations”. Additionally, “Second, the Pentagon must increase its ability to monitor and operate militarily in Arctic.” Lastly, “Third, Washington should seek zones of cooperation with Russia (and eventually China if it becomes a regional player). These could include using ‘science diplomacy’ to jointly sponsor missions”. Put simply, “Americans simply need to pay more attention”.
ON THE ART OF THE DANGLE AS STUDIED BY THE SOVIETS
The Daily Beast reports, “the KGB had published a top-secret document for internal circulation about the looming danger of dangles. As this was a Soviet text, it was given a characteristically turgid title: ‘Exposure of the Enemy’s Set-ups in the Process of Development of Persons Who Are of Interest to Intelligence,’” and it has a copy of the manual. The Daily Beast notes, “this one is still classified in modern Russia owing to its tutorial value to the SVR, Putin’s foreign intelligence arm”. The Daily Beast adds, “dangles are adroit at playing upon a spy’s psychology or personal vices.” The Daily Beast continues, “Be mindful that prospective assets claiming to have access to foreign intelligence may provide useful and credible information initially to get you on the hook, but then their stuff quickly exhibits diminishing returns. Avoid charity cases or anyone creating conditions to become dependent on you or proffering quid pro quo. But don’t be so cautious or paranoid that you miss out on the real deal when it presents itself.” The Daily Beast notes, “The bold and the brave can make excellent spies, but not when they’re also careless about operational security. That suggests they have good reason not to fear a host country’s counterintelligence service: they’re working for it. Finally, the would-be recruit who keeps asking for new assignments without ever completely fulfilling old ones is a likely plant, as is the one who volunteers for ‘immoral actions that might compromise him.’ No honest target seeks out life-threatening danger unless he or she is an adrenaline junkie or just plain psychotic and therefore of no use anyway. An asset must be convinced to sacrifice.” The Daily Beast concludes, “In spy craft as in love, if you suspect you’ve been had by a player, the best revenge is turn him into the played.”
From The Daily Beast.
QATAR, HOME OF CENTCOM, EMERGES AS MAJOR ROSNEFT STAKEHOLDER
Bloomberg reports, “Qatar emerged as a major shareholder in Rosneft PJSC on Friday after a $9 billion deal to sell a stake in Russia’s state-run oil producer to China’s troubled CEFC Energy Co. collapsed.” Bloomberg adds, “Qatar Investment Authority stepped in after the sellers — a consortium of QIA itself and mining giant Glencore Plc — told CEFC it wouldn’t proceed with the original deal announced in October. A statement issued by Glencore didn’t explain why they were canceling the sale, but CEFC has been struggling with debt.” Bloomberg notes, “After the new deal, Qatar Investment Authority will own 18.93 percent of Rosneft, making it the third-largest shareholder after the Russian state, which holds 50 percent, and U.K. oil major BP Plc with 19.75 percent.”
SANCTIONS HAVEN’T HIT THE RUSSIAN OIL SECTOR YET – BUT THEY WILL
The Houston Chronicle reports, “The sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in 2013 have done little to slow the Russian oil sector — so far. Crude production is up and natural gas exports to Europe are increasing. But that might not be the case for much longer.” One analyst, Russian economist Tatiana Mitrova at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, believes, “sanctions would start hitting Russia hard in 2020, with production declining 10 percent in the ensuing decade.” The Houston Chronicle notes, “Russia needs to develop new prospects in shale fields and in the Arctic Ocean. But with the sanctions in place, it’s no longer a matter of executives from the Russian oil companies Rosneft or Lukoil calling in engineers from Houston, as they might have done in the past.” Mitrova said, “There is no expertise in Russia,” adding, “Rosneft tried to do it in-house. They’re realizing you can not replace the global oil service industry.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar noted that, “the mere possibility on new sanctions is enough to spook some potential investors in Russian oil projects”.
From The Houston Chronicle.
WTF HAPPENED TO STATE NEWS? FOX HOST GOES HARD ON LYIN’ TRUMP
Fox News reports, “In his Common Sense monologue Thursday, ‘Your World’ host Neil Cavuto criticized President Donald Trump for a series of factually disputed statements and a history of changing the record on things he previously claimed.” What the fuck happened to state news? Fox News notes, “Cavuto pointed to the change of tune since Trump first claimed not to recall anything about the payment made by his attorney Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels.” Fox News adds, “‘How can you drain the swamp if you keep muddying the waters?’ Cavuto asked. ‘Your own words on lots of stuff give me lots of pause.’ ‘You said Russia didn’t interfere [in the 2016 election] until some Republicans reminded you that they did,’ Cavuto said.” Additionally, “Cavuto said Trump’s claims of an average or above average approval rating this far into his term does not pan out after a study of similar figures for Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush Sr.” Fox News concludes, “He also said Trump is correct when he says some in the press are ‘out to get’ him, but cautioned that many are ‘using your own words [against] you.’ ‘That’s your stink,’ Cavuto said. ‘That’s your swamp.’” What kind of –stan is this? One minute it’s full throttle, the next it is like the regime is cracking and on the verge of falling!
From Fox News.
GOOGLE MAPS HAS PUTIN’S PALAIS
The Daily Star reports, “Living life fit for a tsar, the peak of Putin’s kingly taste is reportedly this palace on the shores of the Black Sea. Stunning satellite photos captured by Google Maps reveal the extent of the $1billion manor and grounds.” Of course, “Putin has outright denied owning the palace”. The Daily Star adds, “Ariel photos captured by Google Maps reveal the extent of the decadent complex. Visitors begin their trip to the complex by driving up a long snaking road that cuts through the nearby forests. Travelling past a series of unidentified buildings – those arriving drive up to find a trio of helipads. And behind them is the colossal Italian-style manor house which backs onto a private stretch of coastline.” The architecture certainly jives with that of post-Soviet rulers elsewhere. The Daily Star notes, “Russian businessman Sergei Kolesnikov is behind most of the claims about the palace – and he is currently living in exile in Estonia. Environmentalists who visited the site also claim to have been stopped by agents from Russia’s secret service”. The Daily Star adds, “Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, has strongly dismissed claims of any association between the Russian leader and the palace on the Black Sea.” Bullshit.
From The Daily Star.
*NEW* WATCH: TRUMPISTAN WATCH give a TEDx talk on “Active Resistance”.
MERCH: TRUMPISTAN WATCH shop.
SUBSCRIBE: e-mail TrumpistanWatch@gmail.com with “TRUMPISTAN WATCH” in the subject line to receive the weekday e-mail newsletter.