—–ON THE AGENDA—–
POMPEO TO OUTLINE SOMETHING THEY WILL CALL AN IRAN STRATEGY
The Hill reports, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slated to outline the administration’s new strategy toward Iran on Monday morning, weeks after President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear deal. Pompeo will deliver his remarks at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., at 9 a.m. EST.” Citing a CNN report, The Hill adds, “Administration officials have said the new strategy will encompass a new security architecture’ that extends beyond Tehran’s nuclear program to also include its missile technology, support for terrorism and actions in Syria and Yemen”. Sounds like a big nothing but stay tuned to make sure it is!
From The Hill.
COLLUSION WITH FOREIGN NATIONS EXTENDS WELL BEYOND RUSSIA
The New York Times reports, “Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor.” Did the Trump campaign at any point notify the FBI as they would legally be required to do by law? Well, no. The New York Times adds, “Erik Prince, the private security contractor and the former head of Blackwater, arranged the meeting, which took place on Aug. 3, 2016. The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president. The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign”. The New York Times notes, “It is unclear whether such a proposal was executed, and the details of who commissioned it remain in dispute. But Donald Trump Jr. responded approvingly,” because of course the little treasonous shithead did, he always seems to. The New York Times adds the convicted pedophile “Mr. Nader was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser. At the time, Mr. Nader was also promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Nader paid Mr. Zamel a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million. There are conflicting accounts of the reason for the payment, but among other things, a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.” The New York Times notes, “The meetings, which have not been reported previously, are the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign in the months before the presidential election. The interactions are a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III”. Of course, “It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections”. Additionally, “Companies connected to Mr. Zamel also have ties to Russia. One of his firms had previously worked for oligarchs linked to Mr. Putin, including Oleg V. Deripaska and Dmitry Rybolovlev, who hired the firm for online campaigns against their business rivals.” The New York Times adds, “Mr. Zamel, the founder of Psy-Group and one of its owners, has been questioned about the August 2016 meeting by investigators for the special counsel, and at least two F.B.I. agents working on the inquiry have traveled to Israel to interview employees of the company”. At the very least, POLITICO notes that the report, “casts doubt on the Blackwater founder’s prior congressional testimony about his involvement with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” as, “in November, Prince testified to the House Intelligence Committee that his involvement in Trump’s campaign was limited to donating money, attending fundraisers and authoring papers on foreign policy for Trump’s advisers.”
TWITLER GOES BALLISTIC, PRESENTS NEW ATTACK AFTER NYT STORY
Bloomberg reports, “President Donald Trump reacted angrily to a report that his campaign was offered help by two Middle Eastern countries in the run-up to the 2016 vote, deriding a ‘soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt’ in a series of Twitter messages.” Bloomberg notes, “It was the president’s first response to a New York Times report on Saturday that an emissary from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates met with members of Trump’s team, including his eldest son, at Trump Tower in New York about three months before the election, offering to help the billionaire developer win.” Bloomberg adds, “Trump’s tweetstorm on Sunday touched on some of his regular targets, including his Democratic election opponent, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and his wife, Jill,” because Twitler is becoming undone and a reckoning is near. More significantly, NBC News adds, “President Donald Trump said Sunday that he will ‘demand’ this week that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign for political purposes and whether any demands or requests for such action originated with the Obama administration. Trump tweeted: ‘I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!’” How utterly democratic! NBC News notes, “In any event, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog is already examining Republican complaints of FBI misconduct in the early stages of the Russia investigation.” Here we go again with round two of his bogus claims that Obama wiretapped him, remarks which he never apologized for and proved to be complete hogwash. The Washington Post reports, “Under pressure from President Trump, the Justice Department on Sunday asked its inspector general to assess whether political motivation tainted the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign — a remarkable step officials hoped might avert a larger clash between the president and federal law enforcement officials.” That would be the constitutional crisis we have all been waiting for. Good times ahead.
NYT + NBC NEWS HELP DO DARKNESS AT NUNES DIRTY WORK
The New York Times reports, “President Trump accused the F.B.I. on Friday, without evidence, of sending a spy to secretly infiltrate his 2016 campaign ‘for political purposes’ even before the bureau had any inkling of the ‘phony Russia hoax.’” But then The New York Times proceeds to give so many details they basically out the FBI source that Trump and his allies in Congress such as DARKNESS AT NUNES have been pushing hard to have exposed, despite all the protestations in the world from the FBI and the intelligence community. To paraphrase European Council President Donald Tusk, who needs enemies with friends like these? So it goes, The New York Times revealed, “F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign. The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia.” The New York Times adds, “F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The academic inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos’s expertise. The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project. ‘I understand that this is rather sudden but thought that given your expertise it might be of interest to you,’ the informant wrote in a message to Mr. Papadopoulos, sent on Sept. 2, 2016. Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the academic and one of his assistants, a young woman.” When asked by both, Papadopoulos denied knowledge about “the Russian campaign”. According to The New York Times, he also met with Flynn at “the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, an academic forum for former spies and researchers that meets a few times a year,” and “was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance. The concern was strong enough that it prompted another person to pass on a warning to the American authorities that Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence”. The woman is likely Svetlana Lokhova, who The New York Times does not name.
From The New York Times.
SO WHO IS THE SOURCE? STEFAN HALPER, REVEALED BY THE DAILY CALLER
The Daily Caller, a Trump-linked far right website promoting such luminaries of contemporary American discourse as Oleg Deripaska, effectively outed Halper way back on March 25, and since then it has been a slow bleed picking up tempo among the wingnuts in recent weeks. In their story, The Daily Caller reported, “Two months before the 2016 election, George Papadopoulos received a strange request for a meeting in London, one of several the young Trump adviser would be offered — and he would accept — during the presidential campaign. The meeting request, which has not been reported until now, came from Stefan Halper, a foreign policy expert and Cambridge professor with connections to the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6.” The Daily Caller adds, “Papadopoulos now questions Halper’s motivation for contacting him, according to a source familiar with Papadopoulos’s thinking. That’s not just because of the randomness of the initial inquiry but because of questions Halper is said to have asked during their face-to-face meetings in London.” The Daily Caller also names “Halper’s research assistant — a Turkish woman named Azra Turk — also met with Papadopoulos.” The Daily Caller adds, “Halper is a close associate of Sir Richard Dearlove — the former MI6 chief.” The Daily Caller notes, “Halper also had connections to the CIA — most notably through his late father-in-law, Ray Cline. Cline once served as director of the CIA’s bureau of intelligence and research. He was also the agency’s top analyst during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Halper got a job as foreign policy director on George H.W. Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential primary bid on Cline’s recommendation.” Looks like before this weekend, The Daily Caller outed Stefan Halper way back in March but nobody noticed, including TRUMPISTAN WATCH, so it was a concerted campaign to get this front and center and The New York Times took the bait, and seemingly did what it thought it could to reveal as many details without disclosing Halper’s name. NBC News referenced and called attention to The Daily Caller report in its follow up to The New York Times story and adds further biographical details such as Halper was “a former official in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations who has been a paid consultant to an internal Pentagon think tank known as the Office of Net Assessment, consulting on Russia and China issues, according to public records.” It is everything the right wingnuts dream of: entering stories into the media ecology using far right sites so that they can end up being mainstreamed.
TRUMP WANTED TO PUNISH AMAZON FOR WASHINGTON POST STORIES
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages,” which calls the move, “dramatic,” and notes that it, “probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.” The Washington Post adds, “Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission”. The Washington Post notes, “She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.” The Washington Post notes, “last month, his critiques culminated in the signing of an executive order mandating a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service that could lead to major changes in the way it charges Amazon and others for package delivery.” The Washington Post adds, “For more than three years, Trump has fumed publicly and privately about the giant commerce and services company and its founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post,” which has surpassed the normalizing New York Times as the paper of record and real journalism since it has fallen under Bezos’ ownership just before the Trump era began. The Washington Post notes, “Some administration officials say several of Trump’s attacks aimed at Amazon have come in response to articles in The Post that he didn’t like.”
From The Washington Post.
DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 1?
The New York Times reports, “The special counsel plans to finish by Sept. 1 its investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, according to the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said on Sunday that waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in the midterm elections in November.” Oh, the irony. The New York Times adds, “The office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shared its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, Mr. Giuliani said in an interview.”
From The New York Times.
SPECIAL COUNSEL PROBES UKRAINIAN POLITICIAN BEHIND “PEACE PLAN”
POLITICO reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been meeting over the last year with a Ukrainian lawmaker at the center of a controversial plan to end his country’s conflict with Russia, pressing him for details about interactions with Trump administration officials. Andrii Artemenko told POLITICO that FBI agents had peppered him with ‘assorted questions’ over ‘at least’ two interviews about his ‘meetings, dealings and the questions discussed with various levels of the American political establishment.’” POLITICO notes, “In total, Artemenko said, he was presented with a list of more than 140 questions and is now scheduled to appear under oath before a grand jury on June 1.” POLITICO recalls, “Artemenko has become a figure of interest in Mueller’s Russia probe because of his attempts to back-channel a deal to President Donald Trump that would have had his administration drop sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama White House. In exchange, the Kremlin would have withdrawn its troops from Eastern Ukraine, while a referendum would be held in the country on whether Crimea — the Ukrainian territory Moscow seized in 2014 — would be leased to Russia for 50 or 100 years.” Wouldn’t that be nice for Russia?
HASPEL CONFIRMED WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM BRENNAN, PANETTA
The Washington Post reports, “The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about the role she played in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after 9/11.” The Washington Post adds, “Lawmakers approved Haspel’s nomination 54 to 45, with six Democrats voting yes and two Republicans voting no, after the agency launched an unprecedented public relations campaign to bolster Haspel’s chances. She appears to have been helped, too, by some last-minute arm-twisting by former CIA directors John Brennan and Leon Panetta, who contacted at least five of the six Democrats to endorse her bid to join President Trump’s Cabinet”. Hell short of Mattis that’s as good as it gets with the regime. Tragically no amount of public pseudo-debate will change views inside the agency around torture and critically we need someone loyal to our nation in this position at this time of a majority quisling cabinet. In the most cynical (and sarcastic) sense, she tortured but she tortured for America. TRUMPISTAN WATCH has interviewed more than a dozen torture survivors of the Chicago police department for a project unrelated to this one, so do not misread this as an endorsement of torture, that would be a grave mistake, rather understand the peril our nation faces at this precise moment of Russian occupation and the true horror that may come with whoever Trump might nominate instead. Torture does not work and hopefully Haspel carries this knowledge out of her experience. Neither interrogator nor victims are left without their emotional scars from such horrible acts of savage intimacy. Importantly, The Washington Post notes, “she has been successful, to a degree, influencing his stance toward Russia, whose aggressive and adversarial posture toward the West has become a top national security priority for the administration.”
From The Washington Post.
DNC ASKS COURT TO ORDER OCCUPYING REGIME TO SERVE RUSSIA PAPERS
The Washington Post reports, “The Democratic National Committee asked a federal court Friday to order the State Department to present a lawsuit to Russia that alleges election meddling on behalf of President Trump when he was running against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.” The Washington Post adds, “If a federal judge agrees, the Trump administration would be compelled to serve legal papers to the Russian government and two other entities in the lawsuit the DNC filed in April. Russia routinely refuses to accept such notices that it is being sued, so a judge’s order to the State Department is required, the DNC filing claims.” Vaguely delicious and wonderful, Pompeo is sure to be thrilled. What fun.
From The Washington Post.
US WITHDRAWING AID FROM NORTHWEST SYRIA
CNN reports, “The United States is withdrawing assistance from northwest Syria as the Trump administration reviews hundreds of millions of dollars in stabilization aid to Syria, a State Department official has told CNN,” adding, “‘Two-hundred million dollars of stabilization assistance for Syria is currently under review at the request of the President,’ the official said in a statement”. CNN notes, “President Donald Trump has repeatedly said it is time for Arab allies in the region to take responsibility for Syria in order to allow the United States to focus on priorities on the home front. But there is concern that a withdrawal of US development and reconstruction aid could curtail American influence to reach an outcome in line with longer-term US interests. The development ultimately could benefit ‘the Russians and other actors in that region, like the Iranians,’ by allowing them more influence in the long-term, said retired Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst.” CNN adds, “The move to review stabilization efforts across Syria could also complicate the effort to assist in the country’s reconstruction and any related leverage over a political solution to the civil war.” CNN notes, “Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford have both warned against a hasty withdrawal from Syria like the 2011 pull-out from Iraq that helped create the conditions that allowed ISIS to take over a sizable portion of the country in 2014.”
RUSSIA HOPES TO USE AFGHANISTAN AGAINST US AS US DID TO THEM
Bloomberg reports, “Russia said the U.S. will have to drop its opposition to negotiating directly with the Taliban on the eventual pullout of American troops from Afghanistan or face a grinding and bloody war for years to come. The U.S. refusal to talk with the hard-line Islamist movement that controls 40 percent of Afghan territory is ‘why we are at a dead-end,’ President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said in an interview in Moscow on Friday. Without such contacts, ‘the war and bloodshed will drag on for years,’ he added.” Bloomberg adds, “U.S.-backed President Ashraf Ghani in February offered the Taliban unconditional talks but the insurgent group has responded by stepping up attacks. The Taliban on Friday offered members of the Afghan military and security forces an amnesty if they quit ‘enemy ranks.’” Bloomberg notes, “‘We went through this when Soviet troops were there, it was a very similar picture,’ said Kabulov, who forecasts increasing Taliban control of the war-torn country. ‘Another 5,000 or even 50,000 troops won’t help. It’s not going to get any better.’ The Soviet Union lost 15,000 soldiers during a disastrous 10-year occupation of Afghanistan.”
UK PARLIAMENTARY FINALLY WARNS/NOTES UK IS RUSSIAN LAUNDROMAT
The Guardian reports, “A powerful committee of MPs has warned that the government is putting national security at risk by allowing ‘kleptocrats and human rights abusers to use the City of London to launder their ill-gotten funds to circumvent sanctions’. The foreign affairs select committee said the government’s lax approach to tackling international money laundering is putting money ‘directly into the hands of regimes that would harm the UK, its interests and its allies’.” What a little Brexit and Russian coup in America can do! The Guardian notes, “In a hard-hitting report titled Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK, the committee said the government was failing to follow through on the prime minister’s ‘robust rhetoric’ in the wake of the Skripals’ poisoning.”
From The Guardian.
UK SEEKS TO CURB RUSSIAN SOVEREIGN DEBT SALES
Bloomberg reports, “The U.K. should seek European Union action to bar Russian sovereign debt from clearing houses and work with allies to stop companies whose owners have links to President Vladimir Putin from listing on global stock markets, according to a committee of lawmakers in London.” Bloomberg adds, “The committee said the government should ‘investigate the gaps in the sanctions regime’ that allowed billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s En+ Group Plc to raise around $1.5 billion in a London listing that involved VTB Capital and Gazprombank JSC, banks that have been under sectoral sanctions since 2014. The U.K. should work with Group of Seven partners whose markets dominate the financial system and other international partners ‘to close those gaps as soon as possible,’ according to the report.”
UK DOES NOT RENEW ROMAN ABRAMOVICH’S VISA
The Guardian reports, “Roman Abramovich’s UK visa has expired and British authorities have not yet issued him with a new one, according to Russian media reports and people who know the businessman.” Looks like the UK has a baller in their midst, too. Poor little Russian oligarch scum! The Guardian notes, “The Russian oligarch and owner of Chelsea football club, who is the 13th richest person in Britain with a net worth of £9.3bn, according to the Sunday Times, held an entrepreneurial visa to the UK that expired several weeks ago. He has filed for a new visa, but has not yet been granted one, and it is not clear if or when he will be.”
From The Guardian.
VEKSELBERG + RENOVA REPAY WESTERN BANKS
Reuters reports, “Sanctions-hit Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and his Renova Group have repaid loans amounting to over one billion Swiss francs ($1 billion) to banks including JPMorgan (JPM.N), Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) and UBS (UBSG.S), Renova and a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Saturday.” Reuters notes, “The banks had until June 5 to resolve the issue, when U.S. sanctions come into effect.”
DERIPASKA TAKES STEPS TOWARDS SANCTIONS REPRIEVE
Bloomberg reports, “Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska took the first steps to reduce his influence over his commodity business as he seeks to persuade the U.S. to lift sanctions. Deripaska stepped down as a director of En+ Group Plc, the company said on Friday. He also won’t be seeking re-election as a director of United Co. Rusal at the forthcoming annual general meeting and will be replaced by Philippe Mailfait, an En+ independent director, it said.” There is no such thing as independence when it comes to Russian oligarchs, only window dressing. Bloomberg adds, “The board also approved the broader Barker Plan to lift sanctions, named for En+ Chairman Greg Barker, the company said on Friday. The plan calls for Deripaska’s shareholding to be reduced below 50 percent and to end his influence on the board by appointing a majority of independent directors, it said.”
THE NEW RUSSIAN CABINET KEEPS IT ALL IN THE FAMILY
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a new cabinet, leaving several key officials in place and appointing a son of longtime ally Nikolai Patrushev as agriculture minister. Putin approved the choices shortly after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presented them at a meeting in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on May 18.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, and Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin are among those retaining their posts. Two prominent members of the previous cabinet who were seen as members of the liberal economic camp in Russia’s ruling elite, Igor Shuvalov and Arkady Dvorkovich, are not in the new government.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “New Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev’s hawkish father, Nikolai, is a former Federal Security Service (FSB) chief who now serves as secretary of Putin’s advisory Security Council.” Reuters adds, “One new entrant to the Cabinet was Yevgeny Zinichev, 51, a former deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), who becomes head of the high-profile emergencies ministry.”
RUSSIA REVIVES SOVIET ERA ANTI-DISSENT LAW
The Washington Post reports, “The ‘crimes’ used most often for political prosecutions in the Stalin era were the ones detailed in Article 58 of the criminal code, from ‘counter-revolutionary activity’ and ‘anti-Soviet agitation’ to ‘contacts with foreigners with counter-revolutionary purposes’ and ‘urging a foreign entity to [conduct] aggressive actions against the USSR.’ Reshaped and renumbered as Article 70 in the post-Stalin era, the criminal penalty for political opposition was finally abolished in September 1989 as the Soviet regime was nearing its end. This week the Russian authorities brought it back.” The Washington Post adds, “On Tuesday the State Duma approved on the first reading a law making it a criminal offense, punishable by up to three years in prison, for Russian citizens to ‘intentionally enable foreign states, alliances of foreign states, or international organizations to impose restrictive measures on Russian persons and public entities.’ Allowing for a different historical era, the formulation is almost identical to parts of the old Article 58. The vote in the Duma was unanimous.”
From The Washington Post.
NAVALNY LAUNCHES NEW POLITICAL PARTY
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has launched a new political party, though he missed its founding due to a jail sentence over nationwide protests he organized against President Vladimir Putin. The new party, called Russia Of The Future, was created at a May 19 founding convention in Moscow, Lybov Sobol, a senior associate of the Kremlin critic, said on Twitter.”
SERGEY SKRIPAL DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL AFTER POISONING
BBC News reports, “Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal has been discharged from hospital, two months after being poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury.” BBC News notes, “It is not known whether Mr Skripal has been taken to the same location as his daughter. BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said he understood that Mr Skripal is able to walk, and has talked to police at length, but is not completely recovered.”
From BBC News.
LATVIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION OFFICE INVESTIGATING MALTA SCANDAL
Re: Baltica reports, “Maltese investigators have asked help of the Latvian anti-money laundering office to trace the payments via the shady Latvian bank in the alleged corruption case which, coupled with a murder of a journalist, has shook the little Mediterranean country, but there is no formal criminal investigation opened and the probe is slow”. Re: Baltica adds, “The outgoing head of the Latvian Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity, Viesturs Burkāns, confirmed to Re:Baltica that his Maltese counterparts, FIAU, requested the assistance in February, 2018, regarding the transfers via Latvian ABLV bank.” Re: Baltica notes, “According to the Times of Malta, local investigators believe that the two payments of USD 1.4 million in November 2015 which came from Seychelles registered company with account in ABLV to various shell companies were allegedly meant to line the pockets of high-ranking Maltese politicians and their associates. The killed journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia had extensively reported about the case.”
From Re: Baltica.
LATVIAN MINISTER’S BUSINESS PARTNER MAKES RUSSIAN SHIPS
Public broadcasting of Latvia reports, “Russian businessman Igor Shehelev owns almost half of the Piebalgas beer manufacturer. He is mentioned in Russian media as the president of the Finsudprom group of companies which since 2005 also includes the Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant. The shipyard builds a wide range of craft including fishing boats, tankers and passenger craft, but also fulfils Russian government orders including amphibious boats for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB/FSS), the successor to the KGB.” Public broadcasting of Latvia adds, “The plant has also manufactured several patrol vessels and seagoing tugs for the Russian navy, including several deployed in Kaliningrad as part of the Baltic Sea Fleet, reported De Facto, adding that the Latvian Ministry of Defense has observed the vessels operating not far Latvian waters.”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
CHICKEN DON IS AFRAID OF LIL KIM
The New York Times reports, “President Trump, increasingly concerned that his summit meeting in Singapore next month with North Korea’s leader could turn into a political embarrassment, has begun pressing his aides and allies about whether he should take the risk of proceeding with a historic meeting that he had leapt into accepting, according to administration and foreign officials.” Predictable! Painfully so. The New York Times notes, “Mr. Trump was both surprised and angered by a statement issued on Wednesday by the North’s chief nuclear negotiator, who declared that the country would never trade away its nuclear weapons capability in exchange for economic aid, administration officials said. The statement, while a highly familiar tactic by the North, represented a jarring shift in tone after weeks of conciliatory gestures.” The New York Times adds, “Mr. Trump’s aides have grown concerned that the president — who has said that ‘everyone thinks’ he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts — has signaled that he wants the summit meeting too much. The aides also worry that Mr. Kim, sensing the president’s eagerness, is prepared to offer assurances that will fade over time.” The New York Times notes, “The aides are also concerned about what kind of grasp Mr. Trump has on the details of the North Korea program, and what he must insist upon as the key components of denuclearization. Mr. Moon and his aides reported that Mr. Kim seemed highly conversant with all elements of the program when the two men met, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made similar comments about Mr. Kim”.
From The New York Times.
TRUMP KNOWS DAMN WELL WHAT HIV IS; ROY COHN DIED OF IT
In Touch Weekly reports, “In a newly resurfaced interview, Bill Gates explained how Trump thought the two medical acronyms [HIV + HPV] were the same thing. And to make matters worse, he asked the Microsoft founder twice for an impromptu biology lesson. ‘Both times he wanted to know if there was a difference between HPV and HIV,’ Bill said. ‘So I was able to explain that those are rarely confused with each other.’” As journalist Sarah Kendzior point out on Twitter, “Trump’s only very close friend — political operative and mobster lawyer Roy Cohn — died of AIDS-related complications in 1986. Trump knows well what HIV is. He dropped Cohn as soon as he knew he was dying, and Trump’s notorious germophobia began around then too.” Nonetheless if Bill Gates and In Touch Weekly are ridiculing the fake Russian bullshit president for being an idiot, you have the full spectrum of intellect represented there.
From In Touch Weekly.
DOOFUS DON MISSPELLS WIFE’S NAME
The Telegraph reports, “Donald Trump welcomed his wife Melania home to the White House on Saturday after a week in hospital for kidney treatment – but managed to misspell her name as ‘Melanie’ in a hastily deleted tweet.”
From The Telegraph.
NUTTER SHOOTS UP TRUMP RESORT IN POINTLESS INCIDENT
The AP reports, “A fitness buff carrying an American flag and shouting about President Donald Trump stormed the hotel lobby of Trump’s Miami-area golf resort early Friday and opened fire at a chandelier. He then waited for police to arrive, and exchanged gunfire with officers who shot him in the legs and arrested him.” The AP adds, “The motive for the shooting at Trump National Doral Golf Club around 1:30 a.m. was not immediately clear, but Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said the man pointed his gun at several people and shouted ‘anti-Trump’ rhetoric before waiting for police to confront him.” The AP notes, “One responding officer broke a wrist, but no resort employees or guests were hurt.” The AP adds, “Perez identified the suspect as 42-year-old Jonathan Oddi, who lives in a condo building about a mile (2 kilometers) away. He said Oddi took a flag from a flagpole at the resort and draped it over the counter in the lobby, where he pointed his gun at several people but only fired into the ceiling and light fixtures overhead until police officers arrived. Oddi was expected to face various criminal charges. Video footage showed the conscious suspect being wheeled into a hospital on a gurney, and Miami-Dade Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said Oddi remained hospitalized in good condition Friday afternoon.” You have to love how all the police have Hispanic names. Welcome to Miami, it’s also part of Trumpistan and those with Spanish names are also capable of doing their jobs and doing them well despite the needless dehumanizing rhetoric of our fake Russian bullshit president. See: not rapists, not drug dealers, not animals, rather totally normal police officers responding to crazy professionally.
From the AP.
DEATH CULT GOP PAYS HALF A MILLION IN LEGAL BILL FOR HOPE, ET AL
The Washington Post reports, “The Republican National Committee paid nearly half a million dollars to a law firm that represents former White House communications director Hope Hicks and others in the Russia investigations, according to a new federal filing. The RNC’s $451,780 payment to Trout Cacheris & Janis adds to the mounting legal fees associated with the investigations by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and several congressional committees of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.” The Washington Post notes, “Hicks hired Robert Trout, founder of the law firm, as her personal attorney in September, according to news reports. The report of the payments for legal and compliance services, contained in the Federal Election Commission report filed Sunday, is the first public disclosure of RNC payments to the law firm since Hicks hired Trout.”
From The Washington Post.
BOLTON RELIED ON FORMER LOBBYIST TO STAFF NSC
POLITICO reports, “As he prepared to start his job as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton relied on the advice of a longtime colleague — Matthew Freedman, a consultant and former lobbyist with decades of experience in foreign policy.” POLITICO notes, “But while Freedman may have been a trusted hand, he also came on with a checkered past, having worked for now-indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and, more recently, getting fired from the Trump transition team for reportedly using his global consulting firm email for transition work.” Can you imagine getting fired from that transition team? Seems like you would have to work over time. POLITICO adds, “Robert Palladino, a spokesperson for the NSC, confirmed that Freedman and Charles Kupperman, another Bolton friend who has joined him at the NSC, helped him weigh job applicants after H.R. McMaster was ousted following repeated policy clashes with Trump and other aides.” POLITICO notes Freedman “cut his teeth working for Manafort in the 1980s, lobbying for the governments of the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Nigeria and Peru. He notably represented dictator Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Prior to joining Manafort’s firm, Freedman worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development as an international development adviser. Later, he was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s transition director for USAID, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the United States Trade and Development Agency.” POLITICO adds, “Emails sent in 2017 between Freedman and Millan Hupp, a scheduling official at the EPA, reveal that he played an important role in planning a trip for Pruitt to Australia, after an email connection from Rick Smotkin, a former lobbyist for Comcast. (The trip was eventually canceled.)”
SECRETARY NIELSEN COVERS FOR TRUMP’S NAZI ERA RHETORIC
Fox News reports, “Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she was ‘horrified’ to see the mainstream media take President Trump’s remarks about MS-13 gang members out of context,” you know the remarks where he called immigrants “animals”. Yes, she is really covering for the fake Russian bullshit president’s Nazi rhetoric and leaving a video trail so that later she cannot pretend she did anything otherwise or to the contrary. Fox News is her ally in distorting the historical record as they write, “Media outlets including C-SPAN, the New York Times, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News and CNN did not put Trump’s words in context or ran with stories claiming he used the term ‘animals’ to describe illegal immigrants more broadly. Some outlets later corrected or clarified their reporting, but others – including The Washington Post – did not.” That is right: everyone heard the same thing but only Fox News and America’s other Aryan princess are telling us The Truth. Was it a joke too? Tell us dehumanizing Nazi-style rhetoric was meant to be funny, please faux news Fox and America’s other Aryan princess, pretty please! Disgrace is too polite. Afterall, without a hint of irony, “On ‘Fox & Friends’ on Friday, Nielsen said Trump was very clear that he was talking about MS-13, a gang whose motto is rape, control and kill,” which sounds precisely like the regime she works for. Has Trump not boasted of grabbing women’s pussies, repeated labeled the media “fake” (as if only he knows The Truth), and said America has real killers? Oh my, yes he has.
From Fox News.
DOD WON’T TOUCH TRUMP’S INSANE KIDDIE CONCENRTATION CAMPS
The Military Times reports, “The military would have a very limited role under a Trump administration plan to use bases to separate illegal immigrant children from their parents, Pentagon press secretary Dana White said Thursday. The proposal under consideration by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would separate families who were detained after crossing the border into the U.S.” Pretty Orwellian use of the “Department of Health and Human Services” if ever there was, putting us straight on the road to concentration camps. The Military Times adds, “The children would be housed on military bases in Texas and Arkansas, said Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis. The bases include Fort Bliss, Goodfellow Air Force Base and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, and Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.” The Military Times notes, “If children are detained on the bases, HHS would have full responsibility for feeding them and caring for them, White said. ‘They would ultimately have responsibility for these children,’ she said.” Because of course Obama built this machinery before giving the keys to an insane mentally unstable and unfit fake Russian bullshit president, “It’s not the first time the bases have been used in this capacity,” as The Military Times notes, “In 2014 Lackland Air Force Base was used to detain immigrant children, and at the time, HHS installed a fence to separate the children from the rest of the base, a defense official said. In addition, a complex with an 1,800-bed capacity was used in 2016 at Fort Bliss to house unaccompanied minors who immigrated to the U.S. And about 700 immigrant children stayed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico that same year. The minors spent about a month at the facilities.”
From The Military Times.
ROBERT WILKIE TAPPED AS NEW VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY
POLITICO reports, “President Donald Trump on Friday tapped Robert Wilkie, a veteran GOP aide and acting veterans affairs secretary, as his choice to become the permanent leader of the scandal-plagued agency. Trump announced Wilkie’s selection ahead of scheduled remarks at a White House prison reform summit, telling the crowd that the nominee-in-waiting didn’t know about the news and quipping that he had ‘ruined the surprise.’” Is that really how you run an agency as important as the VA? By surprising the nominee? Is it perhaps because everything Trump touches turns to shit and even the fake Russian bullshit president knows that by now? Winning! POLITICO adds, “Wilkie, who has led the Department of Veterans Affairs in an acting capacity since March and was confirmed by the Senate for a Pentagon post last year, rose up and shook hands with the president after the unexpected announcement. In his remarks, the president praised Wilkie for an ‘incredible job’ steering the VA in recent months.” POLITICO notes Wilkie is “a former adviser to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and longtime Republican hand”. Tillis is of course tied to the Mercers’ money and was a client of Cambridge Analytica.
ALLEGED “VAULT 7” CIA HACKING TOOLS LEAKER IS SO DUMB
Vice’s Motherbooard reports, “A former CIA intelligence officer who is suspected by the government of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks appears to have uploaded at least some CIA-related source code to a personal website linked to his real name”. Motherboard notes, “For years, the site was available to anyone on the internet and the server that hosted it was seized by the government in an ongoing child pornography case against him.” Motherboard calls it “mind-boggling”. Motherboard recalls, “the FBI raided Joshua Schulte’s Manhattan apartment with a search warrant that apparently tied him to leaking the CIA’s ‘Vault 7’ files to WikiLeaks. But he has not been charged with mishandling classified information; instead, the feds found more than 10,000 images of child porn on an encrypted virtual machine on his personal computer.” What a winner. Motherboard adds, “Schulte’s website allows us to easily connect many of his online personas and accounts to his real identity, discern his politics, his places of residence, and identify his friends and family members.” Additionally, “Schulte also uploaded screenshots of his Gmail inbox, which have his name as well as emails that show information about his bank, his OKCupid account, his cell phone provider, his friends’ and families’ names, and more. There’s a selfie he took of himself holding a ‘FUCK OBAMA’ pint glass, and a shirtless mirror selfie he took in a hotel bathroom.” And, “There are narrated video tours of the inside of his house, screenshots of emails he sent to activists advocating for concealed handgun carry permits in Texas, saved IRC chats of ‘Josh’ saying the n-word over and over, and yet more screenshots of his Gmail inbox, which—in the same screenshot—prove that we are looking at ‘Joshua Schulte’s’ inbox and also reveal the pseudonym he used on several different websites.” Where do they find this trash? Russia did not create this; America birthed this little bitch. Seems like a real winner if you are into totally insecure alpha dorks that enjoy child porn in their leisure time. This just goes on and on to gratuitous lengths as Motherboard adds, “On his Blogger, he writes extensively about ‘the naive left,’ excerpts extensively from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and writes that universal healthcare is a privilege”.
From Vice’s Motherboard.
ROSNEFT PISSES OFF CHINA WITH SOUTH CHINA SEA DRILLING
Reuters reports, “Rosneft Vietnam BV, a unit of Russian state oil firm Rosneft, is concerned that its recent drilling in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by China could upset Beijing”. Reuters adds, “Rosneft said on Tuesday its Vietnamese unit had started drilling at the LD-3P well, part of the Lan Do ‘Red Orchid’ offshore gas field in Block 06.1, 370 kilometers (230 miles) southeast of Vietnam. The block is ‘within the area outlined by China’s nine-dash line,’ according to energy consultancy and research firm Wood Mackenzie.” Reuters notes, “a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that no country, organization, company or individual can, without the permission of the Chinese government, carry out oil and gas exploration or exploitation activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction.”
THE RATS DON’T STAY IN THE SEWER DRAINAGE SYSTEM FOREVER
New York Magazine reports, “After being spurned by multiple high-profile lawyers in April, President Trump was said to be so desperate for legal advice that he’d ask ‘virtually any attorney who calls him up’ about how he should handle Robert Mueller’s probe. Though he has no legal expertise, fired Trump strategist Steve Bannon tried to seize the opportunity, pitching White House aides and congressional Republicans on a plan to oust the special counsel.” New York Magazine notes, “Trump may not know that his Russia-probe confidants are also strategizing with Bannon, and so far they don’t appear to be following the plan he laid out last month. Bannon’s step one was Trump firing Rosenstein; Republicans in Congress may be laying the groundwork, but he still has his job. Bannon also called for the Trump team to stop cooperating with Mueller, but we’re not quite there yet.” New York Magazine adds, “it does seem Bannon has found a way to keep doing what he does best: stir divisions among team Trump.”
From New York Magazine.
FARABOOK TEAMS UP WITH ATLANTIC COUNCIL TO FIGHT DISINFO
Axios reports FARAbook announced “a partnership with the Atlantic Council aimed at helping deter manipulation of the platform during elections around the world.” Axios notes, “The plan is to focus on specific geographic areas, ‘monitoring for misinformation and foreign interference and also working to help educate citizens.’”
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
UKRAINIAN DIRECTOR WINS CANNES AWARD FOR DONBASS CONFLICT FILM
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Ukrainian film director Serhiy Loznitsa has won a best director prize in the Cannes film festival’s Un Certain Regard competition for Donbass, his odyssey about the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Un Certain Regard awards, which were announced on May 18, go to more edgy films and up-and-coming directors than those awarded in the Palme d’Or prizes in Cannes’ main film competition.”
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