—–ON THE AGENDA—–
NORTH KOREA PULLS OUT OF KOREA TALKS
The AP reports, “After announcing early Wednesday that it was pulling out of high-level talks with Seoul because of a new round of U.S.-South Korea military exercises, the North took aim at Bolton and said it might have to reconsider whether to proceed with the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because it doubts how seriously Washington actually wants peaceful dialogue.” Earlier Reuters reported, “North Korea and South Korea will hold high-level talks on Wednesday to discuss steps needed to uphold the pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, South Korea said.” Reuters adds, “The meeting will focus on plans to implement a declaration that emerged from an April 27 inter-Korea summit, including promises to formally end the [sic] Koran War and pursue ‘complete denuclearisation’, the South’s unification ministry, which handles ties with the North, said on Tuesday. North Korea has said it will dismantle its nuclear bomb test site some time between May 23 and May 25 in order to uphold its pledge to cease tests”. Reuters notes, “Wednesday’s meeting will take place at the Peace House in Panmunjom, on the heavily fortified border between the two Koreas, where the two sides signed their joint-declaration last month, the unification ministry said in a statement.” Yeah but that’s not happening now! (More leading today’s “BREAKING”.)
SENATE TO VOTE TO SAVE NET NEUTRALITY
Tech Dirt reports, “While U.S. net neutrality protections technically end on June 11, efforts to restore the rules continue. On Wednesday the Senate is now formally scheduled to hold a vote to try and use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the FCC repeal. The CRA can reverse a regulatory action with a majority vote in the House and Senate; it’s what the GOP and Trump administration used to kill popular broadband privacy rules before they could take effect last year.” Tech Dirt rightly observes the move has “the benefit of forcing net neutrality opponents to put their disdain for the internet and the will of the public down on paper ahead of the looming midterms. Given that 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats oppose the FCC’s obnoxiously-named ‘restoring internet freedom’ repeal, naming and shaming does serve a tactical purpose.”
From Tech Dirt.
WE DON’T HAVE TO WAIT A MONTH FOR FAKE KOREA PEACE TO FALL APART
The AP reports, “The North’s statement Wednesday did not directly criticize Trump, or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has made two trips to North Korea to lay the groundwork for the summit. Instead, it stressed that Pyongyang welcomes Trump’s position for ending the deep-rooted hostilities between their countries and concluded that if the Trump administration approaches the summit with a sincere desire to improve relations, the result will be positive.” This is a test of our fake Russian bullshit president, one he is bound to fail because president baby “hands” even needed Russian help to skate across the finish line of the coup and even then failed to win the popular vote, to say nothing of his multiple bankruptcies, failing marriage and general loserdom. The AP adds North Korea “warned, however, of a ‘ridiculous comedy’ if Trump listens to Bolton and ‘quasi-patriots’ who insist on “abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterward.” Well they know how to play the Trump regime like a fiddle. The AP notes, “The North’s duel moves Wednesday can be seen as an attempt by Kim to fortify his position,” to which Pompeo and Trump got nothing because they look like eager puppies dogs salivating at the doorstep waiting for their owner to come home. The AP adds, “Kim has already won one round of bargaining on the military front. At South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s request, Washington agreed to delay the much larger “Foal Eagle/Key Resolve” drills in the spring because of the North-South diplomacy surrounding February’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Kim told visiting South Korean officials in March that he understood the drills would take place but expressed hope that they would be modified once the situation on the Korean Peninsula had stabilized, according to South Korea’s government.” What a surprise the Korea peace is as fake as everything else! This is what happens when the government is run by idiots who think they are geniuses and master negotiators that do not need experts and all the while fail to work with or even hire “the best people”.
From the AP.
QATARI INVESTOR CONFIRMS HE WAS AT TRUMP TOWER IN DECEMBER 2016
CNN reports, “A Qatari investor referenced in a series of tweets from Michael Avenatti this week confirmed to CNN through a spokesperson on Tuesday that he did attend meetings at Trump Tower in December 2016. The stated reason: Ahmed Al-Rumaihi wanted face time with Trump transition officials.” Face time in their orbit is shorthand for money exchanging hands and the cash only flowing ever in one direction, towards the Great Lunatic and his equally mad, corrupt family and fellow Trumpistani elites. CNN adds, “After the story published, Qatar’s media attaché in Washington, Jassim Al-Thani, explained in a statement that the meetings with the incoming administration in December 2016 were to discuss ‘many critical areas, including: regional security, military cooperation, counterterrorism, and economic partnership.’” You mean cash for benefits? CNN notes, “A person familiar with the Qatari delegation’s meetings at Trump Tower that day said, ‘There were several meetings that took place between the delegation and Trump transition officials. During one, Michael Cohen briefly popped in.’” CNN adds, “Avenatti alleged Al-Rumaihi had met with Cohen and Flynn, Trump’s longtime attorney and former national security adviser, respectively. Avenatti also claimed Al-Rumaihi boasted about bribing administration officials in a ‘sworn declaration filed in court’ — a reference to a declaration from Jeff Kwatinetz, an entertainment executive who is currently in a legal battle with Al-Rumaihi.” CNN notes, “In one particular instance in January 2018, Kwatinetz alleged Al-Rumaihi ‘wanted me to convey a message from the Qatari government to Steve Bannon’ and hoped Kwatinetz would set up a meeting between Al-Rumaihi, the Qatari government and Bannon. He was asked to ‘tell Steve Bannon that Qatar would underwrite all of his political efforts in return for his support.’” CNN continues, “‘Kwatinetz wrote in the filing he was ‘offended’ and ‘appalled’ by the request. In response, Al-Rumaihi allegedly laughed and responded that Kwatinetz shouldn’t be naïve. Do you think (Michael) Flynn turned down our money?’ Al-Rumaihi responded, according to Kwatinetz, referring to Trump’s former campaign adviser and White House national security adviser.”
WH AIDE WITH NEW ASSERTIONS ABOUT HILLARY EMAIL LEAK
The New York Times reports, “The White House official had a startling assertion: He thought he had received an email in the first half of 2016 alerting the Trump campaign that Russia had damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Testifying behind closed doors on Capitol Hill in late March, the official, John K. Mashburn, said he remembered the email coming from George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the campaign who was approached by a Russian agent, sometime before the party conventions — and well before WikiLeaks began publishing messages stolen in hackings from Democrats.” The New York Times notes, “Such an email could have proved explosive, providing evidence that at least one high-ranking Trump campaign official was alerted to Russia’s meddling, raising questions about which advisers knew and undercutting President Trump’s denials of collusion. But two months after Mr. Mashburn testified, investigators for the Senate Judiciary Committee have not found any such message.” The New York Times notes, “It is unclear whether Mr. Mashburn has spoken with Mr. Mueller’s investigators.”
From The New York Times.
GINA HASPEL TO BECOME FIRST FEMALE CIA DIRECTOR
POLITICO reports, “Gina Haspel on Tuesday locked in the necessary support to become President Donald Trump’s next CIA director, winning over three crucial Democratic senators as she disavowed the spy agency’s past use of brutal interrogation tactics. Minutes after Haspel secured the backing of the Senate intelligence committee’s top Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, she received an endorsement from Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who faces a difficult reelection in November. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), also battling to keep his seat this fall, followed soon afterward in announcing his support.” POLITICO adds, “Haspel herself helped deflate the left’s campaign to reject her over her central role in the CIA’s post-Sept. 11, 2001, interrogation program on Monday by sending Warner a letter that portrayed the program’s use of torture against detainees as a mistake. That gesture to Warner, going beyond Haspel’s more cautious denunciation of CIA interrogations during her confirmation hearing last week, smoothed over his concerns even before he publicly endorsed her.”
SUSPECT NAMED IN CIA HACKING TOOLS DUMP
POLITICO reports, “A former CIA computer programmer has come under suspicion for facilitating the largest loss of the spy agency’s documents — a devastating and embarrassing public leak of its cyber weapons arsenal, according to court documents. But the former government employee, Joshua Adam Schulte, has not been charged with stealing or passing along the secret documents. Instead, he is being held in a New York City jail on child pornography charges as law enforcement continues to investigate how the cache of files were shuttled to WikiLeaks, the activist site that posted the purloined documents in March 2017.” Wait a child porn fan helping the Russians!? Think of pizzagate! Think of Vova kissing that little boys stomach in a most inappropriate fashion at the Kremlin many years ago! POLITICO adds, “Meanwhile, Schulte’s lawyers have protested that numerous government search warrants that gave investigators access to the suspect’s personal electronic devices were based on false information and failed to turn up ‘any connection to the WikiLeaks investigation,’ according to a court hearing transcript from January. Government prosecutors disputed the characterization, countering in the hearing that Schulte ‘remains a target of that investigation.’” POLITICO notes, “Schulte first came to the attention of investigators just days after WikiLeaks initially posted the cache, known as Vault 7, which contained roughly 8,000 documents detailing how the CIA could transform smartphones and even internet-connected TVs into spying devices,” adding, “By April or May, authorities ‘had full access to his computers and his phone.’ It was during these searches that the authorities apparently found child pornography”. POLITICO adds, “It’s unclear what will now happen with Shulte’s case, and whether the government will eventually bring charges related to the Vault 7 theft. According to the Times, prosecutors said in court last week they plan to file a new indictment in the next 45 days.”
CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA UNDER FEDERAL INVESTIGATION
The New York Times reports, “The Justice Department and the F.B.I. are investigating Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct political data firm, and have sought to question former employees and banks that handled its business”. The New York Times adds, “Prosecutors have questioned potential witnesses in recent weeks, telling them that there is an open investigation into Cambridge Analytica — which worked on President Trump’s election and other Republican campaigns in 2016 — and ‘associated U.S. persons.’ But the prosecutors provided few other details, and the inquiry appears to be in its early stages, with investigators seeking an overview of the company and its business practices.” The New York Times notes, “The investigation compounds the woes of a firm that has come under intense scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators in the United States and Britain since The New York Times and Observer in London reported in March that it had harvested private data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles, and that it may have violated American election laws. This month, Cambridge Analytica announced that it would shut down and declare bankruptcy”. The New York Times recalls, “The company, whose principal owner is the wealthy Republican donor Robert Mercer, offered tools that it claimed could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. Its so-called psychographic modeling techniques, which were built in part with the data harvested from Facebook, underpinned Cambridge’s work for the Trump campaign in 2016.” The New York Times reports, “In a sign of the inquiry’s scope, one of the prosecutors involved is the assistant chief of the Justice Department’s securities and financial fraud division, Brian Kidd. The effort is being assisted by at least one agent who investigates cybercrime for the F.B.I.” They thought they could get theirs without ever getting theirs. Looks like #TimesUp.
From The New York Times.
BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS TO MEET FAKE NATSEC ADVISOR BOLTON
The Baltic Times reports, “The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are to depart for a visit to the United States this week, and their visit will include a meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton.” Remember everyone this man and his mustache are not your friends!
From The Baltic Times.
POMPEO ENDING HIRING FREEZE TO BRING IN TRUMPSTERS OF TRASH?
CBS News reports, “To begin fulfilling his commitment to revitalize the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo moved on Tuesday to lift the hiring freeze which has been in place for over a year.” CBS News adds, “The hiring freeze was inflicted on the Department last year when then-Secretary Rex Tillerson undertook an effort to reorganize the department. This freeze also imposed another hiring freeze — on the family members of State Department employees posted abroad. Each case required special approval. This made it challenging for individuals who were changing posts, as is expected, and had to endure another layer of bureaucratic red tape amidst moving countries. Pompeo lifted the hiring freeze on family members on his first week in the job – and now he has expanded that move.” CBS News notes, “His ardent push to get the department working at full capacity could face an uphill battle, though, since most of the top positions at the department remain unfilled. He has pledged to fill those vacancies, but he will have to work with Congress to get those top positions confirmed. Five of the top ten jobs at the department remain vacant and there are over 40 vacant ambassador posts.” Thanks T Rex for the active measures, may history remember and never forgive the disservice to the nation! Now let’s hold our breath and see what sort of human garbage Pompeo hopes to bring into the fold.
From CBS News.
DHS UNVEILS NEW CYBER SECURITY STRATEGY
Reuters reports, “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday unveiled a new national strategy for addressing the growing number of cyber security risks as it works to assess them and reduce vulnerabilities.” Reuters notes, “The announcement comes amid concerns about the security of the 2018 U.S. midterm congressional elections and numerous high-profile hacking of U.S. companies.” Reuters adds, “The report noted that by 2020 more than 20 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet,” and, “[Homeland Security Secretary] Nielsen said the government ‘must think beyond the defense of specific assets — and confront systemic risks that affect everyone from tech giants to homeowners.’” Reuters notes, “Nielsen said that more than half of U.S. states have signed up for the agency’s cyber scanning services, designed to detect potential weaknesses that could be targeted by hackers.” (More on Nielsen today in “KNOW YOUR ENEMY”.)
GIVING DARKNESS AT NUNES WHAT HE WANTS REQUIRES BETRAYING UK
The Washington Examiner reports, “The Department of Justice is deeply reluctant to brief House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on the full details of a human agent who has provided intelligence to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. The basic concern is that such a briefing would jeopardize the source’s cover and destroy their ability to conduct future intelligence operations. The DOJ also fears the individual’s personal security would be put at significant risk by such publication.” The Washington Examiner adds, “The other concern here is what the intelligence community calls a dissemination or handling caveat. That’s because disclosing the full array of information sought by Nunes would also necessarily entail breaching a Top Secret UK-ORCON or ‘originator control’ handling that prevents the DOJ from sharing certain intelligence without British government approval.” The Washington Examiner notes, “this isn’t just about the British. At least one other allied intelligence service has cooperated with the Mueller investigation in relation to Russian intelligence communication with Trump campaign in Europe.”
From The Washington Examiner.
ECUADOR SPENT $5 MILLION ON SPY OPS PROTECTING JULIAN ASSWIPE
The Guardian reports, “Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police, according to documents”. The Guardian adds, “Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. Other guests included hackers, activists, lawyers and journalists.” Also celebrities like Lady Gaga, M.I.A. and Pamela Anderson, no one should forget! The Guardian notes, “Documents show the intelligence programme, called ‘Operation Guest’, which later became known as ‘Operation Hotel’ – coupled with parallel covert actions – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 a month for security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence to ‘protect’ one of the world’s most high-profile fugitives.” The Guardian reports, “the operation had the approval of the then Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, and the then foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño”. The Guardian continues, “From June 2012 to the end of August 2013, Operation Hotel cost Ecuador $972,889, according to documents belonging to the country’s intelligence agency, known as Senain. The agency used a ‘special expenses’ budget to pay for CCTV cameras to be installed in the embassy weeks after Assange moved in. At the same time, documents show an international security company was contracted to secretly film and monitor all activity in the embassy. The company installed a team who provided 24/7 security, with two people on shift at a time, based at a £2,800-a-month flat in an Edwardian mansion building round the corner from the Knightsbridge embassy.” The Guardian notes, “The security personnel recorded in minute detail Assange’s daily activities, and his interactions with embassy staff, his legal team and other visitors. They also documented his changing moods,” which could range from sour to deeply bitter. Additionally, “Worried that British authorities could use force to enter the embassy and seize Assange, Ecuadorian officials came up with plans to help him escape.” Furthermore, “In addition to giving Assange asylum, Correa’s government was apparently prepared to spend money on improving his image.” J-Ass repaid the favor with “an extraordinary breach of diplomatic protocol,” as “Assange managed to compromise the communications system within the embassy and had his own satellite internet access”. The Guardian notes, “Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, shut down Senain in March in response to what he called the ‘ethical outcry of citizens’.”
From The Guardian.
NOW IT’S PUTIN’S TURN TO MAKE BIG TRUCK GO HONK HONK
The Washington Post reports, “President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday opened a $4 billion bridge directly linking Russia to Crimea, giving him a propaganda victory that drew condemnation from the West and served as the latest demonstration of his personalized system of power. Putin, clad in jeans and a jacket, walked on the Russian end of the 12-mile-long, four-lane bridge alongside the business mogul who built it — Arkady Rotenberg, the president’s former judo partner. Then Putin took the wheel and drove over the Kerch Strait of the Black Sea in an orange Kamaz dump truck — manufactured by a state-owned company headed by Sergey Chemezov, Putin’s KGB colleague in East Germany in the 1980s.” The Washington Post notes, “Both Rotenberg and Chemezov are under U.S. sanctions,” adding, “Like many key moments of Putin’s presidency, it was a made-for-TV event designed to showcase his resolve and authority. State television broadcast live from a camera mounted inside the truck cab as Putin threw it into gear and made small talk with a construction worker sitting next to him.” Meanwhile, “Ukraine and the West slammed the bridge opening as illegal.” The Washington Post adds, “The bridge opening represented a milestone in Putin’s efforts to show the world — and his people — that the annexation of Crimea was irreversible.” The Washington Post notes, “The focus on Putin’s role, however, also hinted at a less flattering reality: the untold number of poor roads, railroads and bridges across the country that don’t benefit from the president’s personal patronage.” BuzzFeed also had fun with the optics of this photo op asking, “Who, I ask you, looks like they’re having a better time while in the cab of a huge truck?”
VLADISLAV SURKOV IS OUT AS HE’S A NO SHOW FOR VOLKER TALKS
Yesterday TRUMPISTAN WATCH brought you an item via the Russian state-run news agency Tass on rumors that high profile Kremlin aide and Ukraine negotiator Vladislav Surkov, also known as the most creative mind in the lion’s den, is out with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov offering no confirmation one way or the other. Today, Ukrinform reports, “U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker has arrived in the area of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in Donbas and met with Ukraine’s Joint Forces Commander, Lieutenant-General Serhiy Nayev, to discuss the security situation, the JFO’s press center has reported on Facebook.” That means Surkov is a no show for his most high profile gig pretty much confirming the rumor. So what does it mean? Well in paranoid environments creative minds do not flourish. As the America operation has led to sanctions, left a million and one fingerprints and generally spiraled out of control, to say nothing of Syria and Ukraine, the Kremlin has fallen back on what it knows best, namely the old KGB playbook. So who can fill Surkov’s shoes in the infosphere? The only candidate that comes to mind is Konstantin Rykov who is more of a stooge than Surkov was, but that too fits in line with the old KGB playbook: fall back on loyalty over creativity to control and uncontrollable situation that has rapidly spun beyond anyone’s control. One question: where is Surkov now? Ukrinform adds in a separate piece, “It is unknown what consequences should be expected after Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov’s withdrawal from the negotiation process on Ukraine, since he was not authorized to make any concessions and only created the appearance of the talks.” This much echoes what TRUMPISTAN WATCH understands to be the case with Syria talks, where those in charge of the negotiations ostensibly had no power to negotiate anything.
RUSSIA IS TERRIFIED IF IT’S FALLING THIS FAR BACK ON KGB PLAYBOOK
The Moscow Times reports Nikolai Patrushev, “The head of Russia’s Security Council has added satanists to a litany of bad influences that young Russians should be protected against.” This might not seem like news, but it is and not for the reasons Patrushev is stating! What happens in the Kremlin when you throw a creative mind like Vladislav Surkov overboard? They fall back far on the old Soviet KGB playbook, from which this is so clearly drawn. What is Patrushev’s answer to Surkov’s wildly creative antics in Ukraine, the America operation and beyond? The Moscow Times notes, “Last month, Patrushev suggested creating volunteer ‘internet brigades’ of popular Russian bloggers to instill patriotism and spiritual values to among Russian youth.” More than a decade ago, TRUMPISTAN WATCH interviewed Patrushev’s one-time immediate supervisor, former Director of KGB Counter-Intelligence Oleg Kalugin in Washington and Kalugin speaking of Patrushev must have said a dozen times, “His only desire was to punish”. What happens when you are a bully and you think creativity is failing you? You fall back on the hammer. This tells you something: they are scared and deeply afraid. Hit them now and hit them hard and the walls may come tumbling down all over again.
From The Moscow Times.
NAVALNY JAILED FOR 30 DAYS OVER “NOT OUR TSAR” PROTESTS
The Moscow Times reports, “Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 30 days behind bars for leading mass anti-government protests on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.” The Moscow Times notes, “A court in Moscow on Tuesday handed down a 30-day sentence against Navalny for a repeat violation of public assembly rules and disobeying police orders”.
From The Moscow Times.
UKRAINE RAIDS RUSSIAN STATE-RUN MEDIA OUTLETS’ OFFICES IN KIEV
The AP reports, “Ukrainian security agencies have raided at least two offices of Russian state-owned media outlets in the Ukrainian capital Kiev”. The AP adds, “Russian state-funded RIA Novosti news agency said its office in Kiev has been raided and that its bureau chief has been detained for questioning. The agency said Ukrainian security officers stormed its office, and that it has been unable to get in touch with its correspondents there since. Another Kremlin-funded outlet, RT, said it cannot contact its staff in Kiev after security officers raided the building. RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on Twitter that its office phones in Kiev appeared to be blocked and that its Ukrainian website is down.” The AP notes, “The raids were later confirmed by Ukrainian security agency, SBU, which said in a statement that it is investigating ‘a network of media outlets’ controlled by the Russian government that are ‘used as tools in a hybrid war against Ukraine.’”
From the AP.
LATVIA PLANS THREE MAJOR DEFENSES EXERCISES OVER THE SUMMER
Public broadcasting of Latvia reports, “Saber Strike, Swift Response, and Namejs military exercises are planned this summer across the country, involving allied troops and Latvia’s armed forces, the Defense Ministry told the press May 16. The exercises involve troops from 18 allied NATO countries, with the Namejs exercises slated for late summer singled out as a massive test of Latvia’s army, as well as institutions under Interior Ministry control.”
DON’T STOP ME NOW
POLITICO reports, “A federal judge on Tuesday rejected an attempt by Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, to get an indictment against him dismissed by claiming that special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment was flawed. In a blow to Manafort’s defense, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Mueller’s prosecution of the longtime political consultant on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine was ‘squarely’ within the authority that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted to Mueller last May.” Jackson wrote, “It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of ‘any links’ between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him.” POLITICO notes, “Citing press reports that Manafort filed with the court discussing his activities abroad, Jackson suggested it would have been malpractice for Mueller not to have investigated him.” POLITICO adds Jackson, “said Manafort’s arguments were not persuasive for several reasons. First, she said, the subjects that Manafort was indicted for the case she was overseeing were part of Mueller’s core focus, not some expansion of it. Second, she said, outsiders don’t have the authority to enforce the special counsel regulations, because they’re internal Justice Department policies. And third, she found that Rosenstein has validated the indictment through continuing consultation with and supervision of Mueller.”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
LIKE ALL THINGS TRUMPISTAN, INAUGURATION WAS A GIANT CASH GRAB
Rolling Stone reports, “The president’s inaugural committee, which is supposed to be a nonprofit organization, brought in $107 million in donations and used nearly all of it, far exceeding the money spent by Barack Obama in 2009 ($55 million) and in 2013 ($43 million).” Rolling Stone adds, “On Monday, MSNBC’s Ari Melber discussed the news with Steve Kerrigan, the president and CEO of Obama’s 2013 inaugural committee. Kerrigan explained that because, unlike with campaign finances, there is very little oversight of inaugural funds, the committee could have been used to funnel money. ‘They either totally mismanaged the $107 million they raised, or they treated it as it can be treated because of the loose transparency requirements around it: as an opportunity to have a slush fund,’ Kerrigan explained. Greg Jenkins, who oversaw George W. Bush’s 2005 inaugural committee, was similarly perplexed about how Trump’s committee could have spent $107 million on inaugural events. ‘It’s inexplicable to me,’ he told ProPublica. ‘I literally don’t know. They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did. So there’s the obvious question: Where did it go? I don’t know.’” Citing an earlier New York Times report, Rolling Stone recalls, “WIS Media Partners, was created only six weeks prior to the inauguration by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a close friend of Melania Trump. The firm received close to $26 million from the inaugural committee, and questions have been raised as to how exactly that money was allocated.” Rolling Stone notes, “Kerrigan also noted on MSNBC that in 2009, Obama’s inaugural committee paid its entire staff of 450 people a combined $6.5 million, over four times less than the amount received by WIS Media Partners alone. According to the Times, Trump’s inaugural committee only employed 208 people.” Rolling Stone adds, “The plot thickened on Monday, when the Center for Responsive Politics reported that $1 million of the money gifted to the inaugural committee came from conservative legal activists who have since wielded influence over the Trump administration’s process for nominating federal judges. The donation came via a Virginia company called BH Group, LLC, which appears to have been established solely to mask the real source of the money.” Rolling Stone continues, “Along with ProPublica, the Center for Responsive Politics found that the sources of several other donations were similarly obfuscated, as well as that two members of the inaugural committee have been convicted of financial crimes, and that the committee’s treasurer was reportedly a co-conspirator in an accounting fraud case.” Classic Trumpistani elites, in other words!
From Rolling Stone.
NO THE FAKE POTUS CAN’T GET A NOBEL FOR A CASH GRAB + A FAKE PEACE
Business Insider reports, “Donald Trump wants to win the Nobel Peace Prize, just like his predecessor, Barack Obama.” He also wants bigger “hands” and to not be fake like Obama too, but that isn’t going to happen. Business Insider adds, “he’s willing to throw his entire trade agenda out the window and get played by China and North Korea,” to achieve this end. Business Insider notes, “The latest sign that Trump is the chump in his Korean Peninsula peace fantasy came on Sunday, when he tweeted that he had ordered Commerce Department to help ZTE, a Chinese technology firm the US just punished for violating US intellectual property rules and sanctions against North Korea and Iran.” Additionally, “The company was fined $US900 million and US companies were banned from selling parts to ZTE for 7 years. Trump said his reversal was an effort to help save 70,000 Chinese jobs.” Who knew he cared about Chinese jobs? That is because he doesn’t. As Quartz notes, “Agence France-Presse reports that Chinese state enterprises will provide $500 million in loans to a development project in Indonesia that will include Trump-branded hotels, residences and golf courses. The project, part of China’s Belt and Road plan for infrastructure spending, stands to funnel millions of dollars into the Trump Organization, the president’s private business.” No, you can’t get a Nobel Prize for funneling money into your pocket — it does not work like that! #BeBest
“DADDY’S LITTLE GHOUL”
Mediaite reports, “The New York Daily News, one of President Donald Trump‘s hometown tabloids, skewered Ivanka Trump with a brutal cover on Tuesday that blasted the first daughter for her celebration of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.” Mediaite adds, “The Daily News, never a tabloid to pull its punches, released this cover in response to the violence — declaring Ivanka Trump ‘Daddy’s Little Ghoul’”. Right on.
MORE ON THE CHRISTIAN DEATH CULT THAT BACKS THE REGIME
The Guardian reports, “At the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, a prayer and a benediction were given by two Christian evangelicals from Texas notorious for insulting other religions. The selection of pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee was a sign of how for some Christians, the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is consistent with the biblical prophecy of the second coming of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Rapture, or end times.” Like ISIS, but for Christians! The Guardian was right to not that, “was also illustrative of how central the evangelical constituency has become to Donald Trump’s support,” because what god fearing Christian can’t look up to a pussy grabbing, treasonous, financial criminal who will do anything, say anything and fuck anyone over to get his way, all while never apologizing for a single goddamn thing? The Guardian notes, “a survey last month by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that white evangelical support for Trump is at an all-time high, with three in four holding a favourable view of the president,” because shame on them, they will all require deprogramming or de-radicalization later if this does not end Jonestown-style with a batch of spiked Kool Aid on a compound somewhere. Drink up!
From The Guardian.
FALLOUT BOY: NOVARTIS DITCHES LEGAL COUNSEL OVER COHEN PAYMENTS
CBS News reports, “Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis on Wednesday announced the retirement of its top legal expert, as he apologized in a statement for payments made by the firm to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.” CBS News adds, “On Wednesday, Novartis’s general counsel Feliz R. Ehrat apologized for making the deal,” noting, “Ehrat will be replaced starting from June 1 by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is currently Novartis’s ethics, risk and compliance officer.” Is he really sorry or just sorry he got caught?
From CBS News.
NIELSEN WILL BE WITH US UNTIL HER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY TRIAL
The Washington Examiner reports America’s other Aryan princess, Homeland Insecurity Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, told fellow blond lady fascist Laura Ingraham of Fox News that she will be with us “for the long haul,” which means we can expect to see her at her trial for crimes against humanity on the other side of this national nightmare! Such a relief! POLITICO reports, “Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied Tuesday that she threatened last week to resign after receiving a reported tongue-lashing from President Donald Trump over an uptick in illegal immigration,” this despite the fact that, “White House chief of staff John Kelly later told a Fox News reporter that he called the secretary after the Cabinet meeting and implored her to remain on the job.” As always with the Trumpistani elites, even the lies reveal further lies. POLITICO notes, “Nielsen, as the top homeland security official, shoulders responsibility to execute Trump’s border security agenda,” and, “Nielsen on Tuesday rejected the notion that a rise in recent years in the percentage of Central American families and children arrested at the border was attributable to poverty and violence in their home countries.” POLITICO adds, “During the secretary’s opening remarks, roughly two dozen women and children rose and exited the room in protest of policies that increase family separation.” POLITICO notes, “Nielsen said she hadn’t been directed to split up families as a method of deterrence,” rather it is being done because our weak, fake Russian bullshit president must take out his feelings of powerlessness on the most vulnerable like all evil bullies. CNN adds, “Nielsen also agreed with senators that more must be done to protect the children who either come to the US without their parents or are separated from them,” but like maybe try not separating them, which is insanely cruel and leaves the children so vulnerable to being preyed on? CNN notes, “The Trump administration last month testified it lost track of 20% — or nearly 1,500 children — of the undocumented minors that had been in its custody over a three-month period at the end of 2017.” That is a hell of a record of abuse and neglect Nielsen carries now and forever like a stain on her name and our nation worse than anything anyone else in the administration has done to date because what have these children done to her or our nation other than exist and be born in shitty circumstances to parents who took every risk to ensure their futures?
SEX ASSAULT OF KIDS ON BASES AS MIGRANTS’ KIDS TO BE WAREHOUSED
Military.com reports, “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expressed alarm last week at reports of failures to address a growing problem of sexual assaults on military bases among dependent children and teens.” Mattis voicing such concerns comes on the heels of an AP report on the matter but yesterday The Washington Post reports, “The Trump administration is making preparations to hold immigrant children on military bases, according to Defense Department communications, the latest sign the government is moving forward with plans to split up families who cross the border illegally. According to an email notification sent to Pentagon staffers, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make site visits at four military installations in Texas and Arkansas during the next two weeks to evaluate their suitability to shelter children.” Well this is pure evil and definitely places us on the road to concentration camps. Hope everyone is prepared for an age of state terror that may include, but perhaps will not be limited to instances of pedophilia, mass assault, the traumatization of children too young to ever be deserving of such brutality, slaughter and the collective guilt, official state apologies that follows. As a citizen of the former USA, the shame is already unbearable. In the end, Trump will end up hurting and humiliated, this much is certain, but the open question is how many will he hurt and humiliate until we arrive on that moment of truth?
SANCTIONS, WHAT SANCTIONS?
Reuters reports, “They were supposed to be the toughest sanctions the United States had ever imposed on a Russian oligarch. Seventeen days later, Washington watered them down.” Reuters recalls, “On April 23, the U.S. Treasury eased restrictions on billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal (0486.HK). Instead of barring Rusal from international markets, which is what the United States originally intended to do, the Treasury suggested it might lift the sanctions altogether.” Reuters notes, “Washington’s change of course says a lot about the leverage held by the supply chain of a widely-used commodity such as aluminum,” and it also says much about the Trump regime and how our fake Russian bullshit president is totally deferential to his master’s in Moscow at the expense of U.S. national security. Reuters adds, “Several European governments, including Germany and France, lobbied Washington to back down, according to more than a dozen U.S. and EU officials and industry sources,” and, “Multinationals Rio Tinto and Boeing also appealed to the U.S. Treasury, seeking a softening of the terms on Rusal. All made the same argument, the sources said: a squeeze on the largest producer of aluminum outside China would hit businesses around the world, disrupting production of myriad goods from car and planes to cans and foil, and putting jobs at risk.” Democracy be damned! Thank god Oleg Deripaska has so many friends, TRUMPISTAN WATCH has not shed a tear and never planned to over his fate, but even if one were to there would be no occasion to do so at this time.
ANOTHER LOOK AT THOSE RUSSIAN BALTIC MISSILE TESTS THAT WEREN’T
The Jamestown Foundation reports, “In the past two months, the Russian government twice warned Latvian authorities that it was planning to conduct missile tests over Latvia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Baltic Sea. Yet, in both cases (April 4–6 and April 17–19), Russia never actually shot off any live missiles during these ‘exercises’ (Tvnet.lv, April 20; see EDM, May 2). This raises the question of what was the real purpose of Russia’s activities in the Baltic.” The Jamestown Foundation notes, “This would not have been the first time Russian offshore exercises negatively impacted Baltic commercial activities. Infamously, neighboring Lithuania has repeatedly faced aggressive Russian Naval actions in the Baltic Sea, which, in 2015, curbed civilian shipping traffic in this Baltic State’s EEZ as well as temporarily hindered the construction of the NordBalt electricity cable to Sweden (Thelocal.se, May 2, 2015; The Baltic Times, September 7, 2015, March 31, 2018). In the short term, at least, the feared deleterious economic effects of Russia’s April 2018 ‘training’ activities have largely not materialized.” The Jamestown Foundation adds, “Nevertheless, some experts have warned that the threat to economic security may only start to become apparent in the long term—in fact Moscow’s aim all along. According to Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Russian Navy’s announcements of rocket test firings in the Latvian EEZ (although ultimately unfulfilled) succeeded in drawing heavy anticipatory international media attention. The resulting news narrative could thus be considered a Russian propaganda success and might have long-lasting effects, Minister Rinkēvičs noted (Nra.lv, April 5).” And, “Dr. Didzis Kļaviņš, a senior researcher at the University of Latvia, believes that, in a longer term perspective, such provocative Russian military drills in the Baltic Sea could have direct economic and financial consequences.”
From The Jamestown Foundation.
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