My advice to students I’ve had the chance to supervise is extensive, but includes the phrase “look both ways.” In that case, I refer specifically to library research. This worked better when most of our research was done using dead tree fragments. Here’s how it works. You find out about a book of interest. You go find it on the shelf in the library. Instead of just pulling it off the shelf and checking it into your carrel, you stop for a moment and look both ways. There is a good chance that the books right next to the one you found are by the same author, or about the same topic, or in some other way related. Indeed, you may have located a useful source, the one you sought, but didn’t know that the same author also did research in exactly the area you are working, wrote the classic tome on it, and in fact, that classic tome is what you thought your thesis was going to be on based on this great idea you had at the bar last night! Continue reading When investigating Trump, Look Both Ways
If you lie to a US Federal agent, they can bust you, and my understanding is that judges like to sentence those convicted of this by juries to jail for long periods of time. But, if you are charged with this crime and plea guilty, so there is no jury trial, then there is room to negotiate.
Note that FBI agents know how to make sure prosecution will get a conviction. They write everything down carefully, have witnesses, etc. So, if they ask you a question and you lie, you are now in the process. It is just a matter of time until you are signing a plea agreement.
Michael Flynn, perhaps owing to hubris, perhaps owing to fear, perhaps owing to sub-average intelligence, perhaps to a combination, managed to lie, apparently multiple times, to FBI agents.
Unlike most of the other characters in the Trump-Russia scandal, Flynn has been more involved in Turkish shenanigans than Russian, but the charges going down today do relate to Russia.
He is charged with lying about his interactions with the Russian ambassador to the US about sanctions, and about a pending UN Security Council resolution related to Russia.
Here is the charging document: Continue reading Flynn Lied to the FBI; Here is the charging document
‘Twas the night before serving, when all thro’ the house
Congresscritters were stirring, even the mouse;
The indictments were hung by the Grand Jury with care,
In hopes that Judge Emmet soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug with their lawyers,
While visions of men named sugar plum danced in their heads.
And Mueller with his briefing and Paul with his passport,
Had just settled their brains for a long winter in court
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
He sprang form the bed to see the Federal Marshals
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore up the papers, then into the shredder,
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,,
Gave lustre to the no knock warrents to find objects below;
When, what to wondering eyes should appear,
But a deposit slip from a Russian owned bank forgotten to burn.
With that ol’ driver as quick as a feather;
We knew in a moment it much be St. Mueller;
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
Now, evidence collection crew, go right in here!
On blue collar crime expert, these documents I’ll share!
To the top of the pile of evidence so high,
Now dash away, dash away, put it all in plastic bags,
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
Each exhibit gets a number and a letter, oh my.
So up to the court house the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of evidence, and some indictees too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard in the foyer
The prancing and pawing of each little lawyer;
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Mueller came with a bound.
He was dressed all in a nice Italian suit,
His clothes were not tarnished or messed up with soot.
A bundle of evidence was flung on his back,
And he looked like a lion just opening a buck;
His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, he’d be liked by a jury.
His stern little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
But the kind with an arrow, just so you know;
He shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly;
With a wink and a twist he owned that grand jury;
He spoke not a word but went straight to work,
Filed all the briefings, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up to chambers he rose,
He sprung to the sleigh to his team gave a whistle,
And to the judge they all rushed, like the smoke from a pistol;
I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Plea bargains for all, except, well, most of you actually, because I’ve got this sack of evidence here, see?
To understand the Trump-Russia scandal, I believe it is necessary to step way back and take the very long view. I’m not talking about going back to early 2016, or even the year before. Much farther.
I’m not going to make a claim in this post as to what happened and who did what. Rather, I’d like to present a hypothesis, a single interpretation of events, that may or may not be correct, but that is based on this long view.
Whatever did actually happen, it did involve, or somehow exclude, Donald Trump and a number of individuals with whom he has had long term relationships, and Vladimir Putin and individuals with whom he has had long term relationships, and of course, an overlapping set of individuals who fit in both categories.
The Trump real estate business, centered mainly on Donald Trump itself, involved Roger Stone, Paul Manafort,and others. There are allegations of connections between Trump and the mob, sufficient to get at least one project denied in 1987. Manafort and Stone had long time connections with Russian interests and individuals, going way back in time, and there were numerous Trump-family-Russian deals over a long period of time, not just recently.
Deutche Bank, which apparently has served as a Russian Oligarch money laundering facility, took on Trump’s business as far back as 1998, when Trump started to run out of places to borrow money. Subsequently, the Russian state owned bank, Putin’s personal facility bailed the troubled Trump enterprise out of at least one financial hole.
Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, and several others are relative newcomers to the drama, and because their involvement and possible activities is both recent and confused, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees.
The short version is this. According to this entirely hypothetical model, Trump was involved with a wide range of shady characters doing shady deals for decades. Putin and his Oligarch friends were involved with a wide range of shady characters doing shady deals for decades. There was significant overlap between the two groups.
Somewhere along the way, Putin, with Manafort’s help, started to become increasingly engaged in messing with the politics of other countries, and at some point developed, or came upon, a method of using emerging social media to hack elections. It was probably not difficult for Putin to make the shift from collecting American billionaires to using one of them specifically, Trump, to develop a US presidential campaign, on the off chance that this could disrupt American politics, back around 2015. It was then not too difficult to take the next step, realizing that Trump might actually win, to hack the election and put a man he had worked with, indirectly and possibly directly, and on whom (we hypothesize) he held considerable Kompromat, in the white house.
While these latter moves are perhaps the most important, and most urgent, they are small steps from what seems to have been going on all along, constituting minor adjustments in a larger over-arching program of money making, money laundering, and manipulation oligarch style.
And the engine that drove this process, the methodology by which Putin ultimately came to own several American operatives including, according to this model,Trump, was something out of a movie based on a Tom Clancy novel. In order to understand that engine, I offer a parable.
The Parable of Mark
Imagine an evil drug dealer named Alexey. He has a customer named Mark. Mark doesn’t think he is an addict, but he is, and that gets worse for him over time. Mark likes to buy 10 bags of product, then he marks them up and sells eight to his friends so that he can do two bags and use the profit on the other eight to cover his costs of each buy. Most of the time. Sometimes he parties with friends Nastia and Sasha, and they go through three or four bags. But that’s OK, because his other friend, Dima always loans Mark money when he needs it, so he can get more drugs from Alexey. And Alexey always has product.
Over time, if Mark was more smart and less obsessed with meeting his own desires to party and get stoned, he could have kept himself in drugs and made a steady profit over time. After a few years, Mark did manage to stash away about $500 bucks, but not the few thousand bucks he might have made had he made the right moves.
Meanehile,Mark became deeper and deeper in debt to Dima, and by the way, also to Alexey, who also helped Mark out now and then when he was down on cash. There was also that time when Mark got busted because someone claimed to see him dealing on a street corner, and Alexey provided an alibi for him. That court case was still pending, and Mark was hoping Alexey would remember to show up and give his alibi to the judge next month. Oh, and by the way, Nastia and Sasha also loaned Mark some money now and then. Oh, and the person who dropped the dime on Mark? Mark does not know it, but it was Sasha.
So, after a few years, Mark had that 500 bucks stashed away, had been having plenty of fun, and just barely, stayed out of trouble.
But, he also owes Dima about $42,000, and another 15,000 or so to the others. He is in trouble with the law and reliant on Alexey to help him out, and lately Sasha and Nastia had been snubbing him.
Turns out that Dima, Mark’s banker, was Alexey’s brother. Sasha and Nastia were Alexey’s cousins. The judge in that open court case was Alexey’s father. And, they were all members of the same organized criminal gang with Alexey in charge.
Putting this another way, Mark was in the business of buying and selling a product, and financing the deals, and staying out of trouble, by interacting with the same exact person at every level and in every direction. Over time, with every transaction, instead of Mark having the opportunity to make a little money here, and a little product there, and to develop a reasonable if unsavory business model, at every juncture of events, Alexey turned the screw and brought Mark deeper and deeper into debt and dependency. Everybody was in on it, and Mark was the unwitting mark. As it were.
What is to be learned from this parable?
This is what Vladimir Putin and a handful of his associates, according to this hypothetical model, may have done to Donald Trump. Early on, Paul Manafort developed a relationship with Trump, and not long after, with Putin’s gang. His business with Russia was to develop ways for Putin to influence foreign governments, and eventually, elections. As early as 2000, Trump was being looked at by American conservatives as a potential presidential candidate. Over time Trump engaged in a considerable amount of Obama bashing, which served his white supremacist tendencies. Putin must have seen Trump as a potential asset, with the added bonus that they shared a racist view of life.
During this entire time multiple seemingly independent Russian entities engaged in business with Trump and his family, including a wide range of “Trump Tower” like projects, and other land deals. This also included banking and loaning money. Trump and his family were fully engaged in a money making machine much like the fictional Mark’s, buying and selling and borrowing and having fun, and Putin and his oligarch associates, using Manafort and other Americans as professional manipulators, were behind most of it, possibly all of it. Trump was buying and selling and borrowing, and meeting various prurient needs, all with the same guy, Puppet Master Putin. Or, so the theory goes.
So, when mid 2016 came along, Trump looked like a viable candidate. Republicans started to manage their role in the possible Trump presidency. Putin turned on his machine, manufactured and modeled out by Manafort and others, with the hope of electing Trump as President, and even before the election, manipulated the Republican platform. Members of the Trump Team were generally in contact with Russian agents, and various members of Washington’s Republican political elite, including multiple elected officials, became first transition advisers, then cabinet members or senior white house advisers after the election, and were brought into Club Russia to varying degrees. .
Much of the news that has developed over the last several months has focused on this period, from mid 2016 to the present. It has been difficult to understand what it all means. But if one steps back and starts by examining Trump and his associates in the 1980s, and Putin and his associates, some of which were already long time Trump associates, in the 2000’s, much of that confusion seems to melt away. Putin and Trump have both been playing a sort of long game, but with Putin much more in charge and, I would guess, with the much larger vision.
Trump looks like a chump through much of this, and he probably is. But he has had his own objectives mainly having to do with making money and being a bully, which Putin was able to garner into deep debt and probably blackmail. According to this hypothesis.
So in sum, three elements make up the model:
1) Trump plus American mob plus Russian mob plus Real Estate
2) Putin plus foreign political hacking and eventually election hacking
3) Decades old overlap between these two groups.
And, not entirely by chance but with a little luck for Putin, Trump rides the racist post Obama wave and becomes a viable candidate, then Putin puts him in.
If you want to go into the weeds on this, and you should, aside from watching every edition of the Rachel Maddow show for the last year or so, check out this handy dandy timeline.
The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering everything from the president’s private discussions about firing his FBI director to his White House’s handling of a warning that President Trump’s then-national security adviser was under investigation, according to two people briefed on the requests.
White House lawyers are now working to turn over internal documents that span 13 categories investigators for the special counsel have identified as critical to their probe…
The requests broadly ask for any document or email related to a series of highly publicized incidents since Trump became president, including the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn and Comey…
Mueller also asked for any email or document the White House holds that relates to Manafort…
Mueller has requested that the White House turn over all internal communications and documents related to the FBI interview of Flynn in January, days after he took office, as well as any document that discusses Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December. Mueller has also asked for records about meetings then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates held with White House counsel Don McGahn in late January …
Sources also stated that Mueller is moving very quickly and is vigorously engaging a grand jury to carry out this aggressive phase of the investigation.
Meanwhile, also from the Washington Post, Manafort is said to have offered a Russian Oligarch and Aluminum Magnate Oleg Deripaska, who has been discussed at length before, private briefings pertaining to the 2016 presidential campaign. The Associated Press reported some time ago that prior to
… signing up with Donald Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin Government,”…
Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin’s government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.
Manafort pitched the plans to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
It has been looking for a long time like Manafort is behind much of what we see. It is even conceivable that Trump and his clan have been idiot-puppets either under the threat of extortion or out for the money. One could even suspect that Trump et al would have been essentially broke were it not for Faustian deals organized by the Russians, as prelude to Putin’s bloodless coup. Of sorts.
Looks like this is going to happen any time now:
It is very rare that I find myself yelling at the TV when Rachel Maddow is on. She is very good at historically contextualized nuanced well informed analyses. But when I watched a segment of last night’s show (on the Internet, I have no cable) I was shocked to see that she missed something really important. If, that is, it is real.
In the segment below, she makes the point that there are two “clear through lines” in the whole Trump thing. One is the love of Russia and Putin by Trump, his unwavering stance that Russia and Putin can do no wrong. The other is the consistent “vehement antipathy towards immigrants”, clearly part of a white supremacists strategy, with respect to who has been appointed to various positions, the things Trump has said, and the policies attempted. The difference, Rachel notes, between these two separate through lines is the apparent novelty and strangeness of the Russia theme, while the racist trope has deep roots with Trump.
Here, I think, is what she missed: They are not two separate through lines. They are two faces of the same coin. The Russian oligarchs are white supremacists too.
This is underscored by the news that just came out that Russian entities had purchased ads on Facebook during the last election, described this way: “Most of the ads focused on pumping politically divisive issues such as gun rights and immigration fears, as well as gay rights and racial discrimination.”
There are all sorts of reasons Russia wants to control the US presidency and state department. There seem to be some great economic benefits to Trump for selling the government to Putin, something we will be forced to assume happened if even a small number of the accusations emerging are true. But, there is also the potential of the two main actors and their associates having a common philosophy about race. This would not be the first time dictators or would be dictators bonded over such things.
I could be wrong. Am I wrong? I suppose time will tell.
He’s trying, in the hearings, to not let it look this way, but the truth is that he and Exxon Mobile stand to benefit a great deal from a Tillerson SOC. Also, Russia will benefit a great deal.
Putting it a slightly different way, Tillerson’s appointment makes the most sense of you replace “Trump” with “Putin” in sentences that refer to who the leader of the United States is.
The composite graphic above explains this. The context for those graphics is here:
It has been suggested that President Elect Trump has been compromised by Vladimir Putin and/or the Russian Intelligence agency. This allegation suggests that Putin and/or the FSB have information, including video of unsavory sexual activities of some sort (loosely defined) and documentation of inappropriate business activities, that could be used to blackmail the future United States President. Since this is something I have been saying for weeks that we would eventually learn, I’m compelled to make a few comments.
What did we sort of know and when did we sort of know it?
In the weeks after the US presidential election, I learned something that a lot of people inside the beltway had known for months. This was third hand plus. Like, ‘a friend of a friend of a friend says this is widely known.’
There are three parts.
First, a commonly known fact was confirmed for me: major intelligence agencies will spend effort trying to compromise highly influential individuals such as real estate tycoons. This is apparently potentially useful for future manipulation of things.
Most such potential targets are intelligent and have a reasonable sense of risk and humility, to the extent that they know they can be compromised and they bother to seek and follow expert advice covering all their security needs. Also, I assume just because it is generally true of humans, that these highly successful and potentially influential people have at least a modicum of self control over what they do and what they say.
The second part is the simple logical idea that since highly influential individuals are likely to be approached or some attempt made to turn or compromise them, that Donald Trump would have been such a target, and that such an effort would likely have worked.
Since none of the aforementioned self protective attributes seem to pertain to Donald Trump, it stands to reason and is apparently fully expected that he would have long ago been compromised by major intelligence agencies. Since Trump has significant business dealings with Russia and has made the trip to Moscow several times, it is reasonable to assume there is a high probability that Putin had long ago compromised trump. Sexual honey pots, attractive but illegal business dealings, challenges to bravado or ego, etc. could all have been used to obtain film of Trump doing what might be widely regarded as inappropriate sexual things, or documentation of engagement in shady financial dealings, and so on.
So part of this was the basic assumption that someone like Trump would be pretty likely to be in Putin’s pocket.
The third part, which goes beyond assumption and speculation, is the belief among intelligence experts that this sort of thing had in fact occurred. Not just that it was highly likely, but that it was actually true.
Again, that is third hand, and it is third hand rumor. In other words, the third generation out from me is not a person who knows this stuff, but a person who is probably in a position to know what is generally known.
I was hoping at the time that individuals in the intelligence community who knew about this would somehow make it generally known, before the Electoral College voted, so there would be some chance of the Russians not placing a compromised agent at the head of the United State government. Indeed, I was hoping for a particular individual to step forward (see below). But that never happened, and the Electors elected a person many inside the beltway suspected to be a Russian puppet as President.
I once knew an evil librarian, story-book evil, surreally evil. Example: one day an employee asked for one day off a week to receive chemotherapy. The evil librarian grudgingly allowed it. Several weeks later the employee’s cancer got worse, and she needed two days a week for a month or so, to get extra chemotherapy. The evil librarian fired her on the spot, in front of the other employees and library patrons, and did so with a lot of screaming and yelling. That sort of thing happened all the time and she kept her job anyway.
Then, one day, the evil librarian made a reference to a particular woman and used the word “bitch” in so doing. Someone who heard her say that reported it to the woman’s husband. That man happened to be the director of the learned institution of which this library was a part. Within minutes Evil Librarian, who had been in her job for well over 20 years, being all evil and stuff the entire time, was fired.
The straw. For want of a straw, the evil librarian was left alone to make many lives miserable without mitigation or abatement. Then the straw, then the termination.
What makes me recall that event? The intelligence community failing to act in accordance with their oath of office. Until the straw.
When Trump was selected by the electors, the intelligence community, or large parts of it, probably knew all about what is in the recently released (and as yet unconfirmed) report indicating that Donald Trump has been compromised by the Russians, and by Putin in particular. But they stood by and did nothing. I now assume that they did nothing because their individual jobs were more important to them than, you know, civilization. Or their oath.
But then, Trump, who had been acting disrespectfully towards the intelligence community all along, started to make noises about making changes in, downgrading, or otherwise damaging the intelligence community. When I saw him doing that, I predicted that the “widely known” but unspoken of potential control Vladimir Putin would have, though blackmail, over the next United States President, would become rather suddenly known, if in fact those rumors had substance. I saw Trump’s threats to the intelligence community as a straw alighting on the back of a Russian camel. As it were.
This will all be confirmed, denied, elaborated, clarified, in coming months. At this moment I choose to assume this is mostly true, and that there is likely more. There is a certain strength of argument when something is fully expected for logical reasons, and with a modicum of confirming evidence available in advance, and then the thing actually happens. Of course, there is also conformation bias, where the expected, when it happens, is given more credence than it deserves. But expecting something to happen, then having it happen, is NOT inherently a case of false belief based on confirmation bias. That is why it is called confirmation bias and not confirmation now we know it can’t be true because it happened. Putting this a somewhat different way, I was pretty sure, based on earlier conversations and logical thinking, that Trump would have been, by now, compromised by Putin and/or the FSG, possibly others. I’m still pretty sure. But now, there are as yet unconfirmed details to potentially fill in some of the blanks.
###Trump and Obama may provide confirming evidence
Until a few days ago, Trump was tweeting as per usual, which for him means, obnoxious and inappropriate missives about things the President Elect should not be concerned with. Then, suddenly, he stopped tweeting and his twitter feed became more corporate and informational, more third person, as though his smart phone had been taken away from him, with the campaign taking over the feed. This has happened before.
The confirmation hearings had just started up, and this produced mounds of Trump Twitter fodder. There was a press conference coming up. And, the story we are talking about here was breaking. So, of course, Trump’s local handlers (and maybe his Russian handlers?) made an effort to separate him from his Twitter.
Then, he got it back.
I always wonder what that looks like. Does Trump have a stash of smart phones hidden around the house? Does he pay, or threaten, a household servant to get him a phone? Does he have a tantrum and hold his breath until Melania gives in? But I digress…
Anyway, he got his Twitter access back and started tweeting denials of the story, and this time, he was screaming in ALL CAPS. Also, he let something slipped. He asked how intelligence services could leak fake news. Leak? Fake news? Leak? This makes it sound like he knew it was a leak. Made up fake news would not be a leak. He also invoked Hitler. So, there you go.
Methinks he doth tweet too much.
President Obama essentially but subtly confirmed the story. This story is thought to have been part of the secret part of earlier intelligence briefings. So, this story is either fake made up news, or part of the inside story that would be known to the President (and Trump). If it was fake made up news, and the press asked President Obama about it, he would say “I never heard anything about that, probably fake made up news, watch out for that, there is too much of that going on, cut it out.” But, if it was part of the inside story, but top secret, there is only one thing he could say. “I don’t comment on top secret stuff” or words to that effect.
So, what did President Obama say about the intelligence indicating that Donald Trump paid Russian women to urinate on the bed President Obama and his wife used in the presidential suit in a famous hotel?
In an interview with NBC News before his farewell address Tuesday night in Chicago, President Barack Obama said he had not seen the news accounts of Trump’s Russian ties but noted that “as a matter of principle and national security, I don’t comment on classified information.”
He had not seen the news accounts (and thus has no first hand, comment-able, response) but he does not comment on classified information. So, there you go.
This from NBC regarding the contents of Trump’s intelligence briefing. I think this conflicts with what Trump said during this press conference, in which I think he said he knew about this “false news” from that briefing.
MOSCOW — President-elect Donald Trump was not told about unverified reports that Russia has compromising information on him during last week’s intelligence briefing, according to a senior intelligence official with knowledge of preparations for the briefing.
A summary of the unverified reports was prepared as background material for the briefing, but not discussed during the meeting, the official said.
Two U.S. officials told NBC News that materials prepared for Trump during last week’s intelligence briefing included damaging allegations — unverified by American intelligence agencies — about his dealings with the Russians.
A special word about Mad Dog Mattis
United States Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis was selected by Trump to be his Secretary of Defense. When I heard that, I thought there was hope that any widely known but still underground intelligence about Trump being a compromised puppet of Putin would have to come out. After all, if I more or less knew that Trump was compromised by the FSB (or by some other entity but ultimately, by Putin), then Mad Dog Mattis certainly knew it.
Unlike me, Mad Dog has on several occasions taken the oath. He would have put his hand on the Bible and uttered the words “I, James Mattis, do solemnly sear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” And, he knew that he would be taking the oath again if sworn in to be Secretary of Defense.
I assumed that someone, especially someone like General Mattis, would come forward with this intelligence and put a stop to the takeover of the United States government by a foreign power.
But no one did, not even the General.
In his remarks at a news conference that happened as I was writing this post, Trump thanks the news organizations that did NOT report the allegations, and suggests that those specific agencies have now “gone up a notch.” He also suggested that intelligence agencies now have a “blot” on their records.
Trump calls his opponents who released the intelligence reports, which he fully denies, “sick people.”
He admits that Russia did the hacking.
He restates the false claim that the DNC did not have defense against hacking but the RNC did, and that the Russians were unable to break into the RNC.
Trump notes that if Putin likes Donald Trump, that’s an asset. OK, then.
Trump continues to refer to the election and deride Hillary Clinton.
Trump claims that he tells people all the time to be careful of hidden cameras in foreign hotel rooms. That he actually told everyone this all the time should be confirmable.
Trump claims that he has very low debt and zero loans with Russia.
(Note: All the questions are about Russia, Hacking, etc. Trump has no control over the message.)
Trump says he was offered 2 billion dollars to do a number of deals in Dubai. He turned down the deal, though he says he didn’t have to turn it down because he is President. He claims he could run his business and run government at the same time, this would be legal. Also, he claims he would be able to do it and would be good at it.
Reporters claims that nobody but the press cares about his tax returns. This got applause. I suspect not from the reporters. So, apparently, Trump has an audience of sycophants in the room. That feels wrong.
Trump shows a pile of papers indicating that he passed business interests off to his sons. Then, he walked off stage and did not take any more questions. (He returned later to answer questions.)
The post-Trump spokesperson claims that emoluments do not include, for example, foreign visitors paying high prices at Trump hotels. That’s going to leave a mark.
Trump is claiming that profits from foreign business will be donated to the US Treasury.
Other notes on the news conference:
<li>Trump, who is probably anti-vax, spoke out against "pharma." </li> <li>Oddly, this press conference has applause following some of the remarks. That seems unusual. </li> <li>Trump indicates that certain states, but not all states, would benefit from his jobs programs, and the veterans in those states would be taken care of.</li> <li>Trump states that he has lots of news conferences. This is is first news conference in six months. </li>
Those jobs Trump just took credit for? He had nothing to do with them https://t.co/SOLCJpWBqq
— Steve Benen (@stevebenen) January 11, 2017
Putin probably owns Trump. In the past, Trump has spent enough high profile time traveling in and out of Russia, that any smart intelligence agency would have long ago gotten the goods on such a sloppy self absorbed person. Assume there are movies. Young girls. Whatever. Putin probably owns Trump. The ex KGB officer probably owns a lot of people, a lot of foreign rich or influential individuals. That’s how these things work.
Trump is a man that relies on the image of great personal wealth. But, if he has great personal wealth it is a mere couple of billion or so. Alternatively, he may have mostly debt and a few hundred million handy. Nobody knows, and he’s not releasing that information. The point is, he views himself as righteously rich, but he may not be as rich as he considered his right. There are a lot of hungry people in this world, and he is not one of them. But he probably thinks he is.
Putin is the richest person on the planet now or ever. He beats second place Bill Gates by several billion. Putin has gotten this rich by exploiting his position as the permanent leader of Russia (despite a democracy there).
Did I mention that Putin probably owns Trump?
Trump is going to separate his business interests from his activities as president using the following procedure:
1) Put the offspring in charge of the business.
2) Place the offspring in the room at all important presidential meetings.
3) Claim that he is keeping his business holdings and his job as president separate.
Did I mention that Putin probably owns Trump? And that Trump wants to garner great wealth?
Dots, connect thyselves:
Trump is driven to become more wealthy than he is. This is his personality, and it may even be financially necessary for him. Putin has owned Trump for a long time. One question we have now is this: How long ago did Putin approach Trump with the idea that, with Russian help, Trump could become president, piles of money could flow into the Trump coffers, and all Trump had to do is to allow Putin carry out certain geopolitical acts that, after all, might even be good for business?
Do American intelligence agencies have a record of Trump-Putin communication, direct or indirect, over a long period of time? Have they been talking? For how long? About what?
It would make sense to Trump to help Putin carry out one of Russia’s greatest long term goals, a goal held since the 17th century, assuming Trump comes out of the deal rich, not in debt. Russia has always had a landlocked problem. Sure, Russia has vast coastal regions but they are mostly in the Arctic or nearly so. Russia has always lusted for a route to the Indian Ocean, a route to the Mediterranean, and a better route to the Atlantic. And, breadbaskets and buffer zones and mining resources and all of that. What has kept Russia from doing this?
Well, initially, not much, and that is why the Soviet Union was so big. But the expansion of the Soviet Union was hampered by the Americans who, for example, carried out a proxy war with the USSR in Afghanistan. NATO has kept Russia from re-expanding its direct influence across Europe. Various coalitions have kept Russia from invading West Asian territories such as Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The United States is a, if not the, prime mover behind all of that.
And where I say “is” I think we will soon be saying “was.” Why?
Did I mention that Putin probably owns Trump?
With Trump in Putin’s pocket, Russia will take territory in the Middle East and Europe. Russia and the United States together, under Putin and Trump, will try to destabilize the sleeping dragon, China. We may be looking at new places to have proxy wars, but the proxy wars will not be between the US and Russia. They will be between Russia and NATO or others, with the US interfering on Russia’s behalf, maybe pulling out of Nato, and maybe even joining Russian troops in places like the Middle East or Africa. Perhaps they will be between the US as a Russian proxy and China in Africa where China has been exerting influence for a long time now, or Russia and various European forces in West Asia, or between Russia and some combination of powerful South Asian countries in Afghanistan.
(Note to Trump: Do pull out of Afghanistan as soon as possible so Vlad can get in there. Thanks.)
In January the United States is going to be taken over by a coalition of two oligarchs: Putin and Trump (but Putin probably owns Trump).
So, that’s the America the Free part gone. What about the America the Brave part?
Starting in a few days, we will be led by a coalition of cowards and morons. They are known collectively as the Republicans.
The Republican Party has spent the last few decades training itself to be the most ignorant group of know nothings that ever held power anywhere, beyond the level that could be parodied by the most extreme Monty Python script.
The American GOP will be the ironic hobgoblin of the Russian Patriarch, after decades of consolidating power as the “national security” party. The Party of Reagan will be the Party of Putin. We are already seeing Putin love among Republicans in polls. Republicans like Putin more than they like members of the Democratic Party.
This will be achieved mainly because the core of that party consists of angry anti-intellectual anti-liberal anti-environment hippie punchers, and as long as hippies are being punched, and gays bashed, and people of color intimidated through regular state sponsored or allowed executions, they’re fine with this.
America the Brave is now America the Spiteful Idiot.
Monday, the Electors meet. Is it possible that every single one of the Trump Republican Electors is a blind Trump supporter? No. Many electors were actually elevated to that position earlier in the process, and were supporters of other Republican candidates. It it the case that every single Republican is a Putin Pushing no know-nothing? No, not all of them. Just a large majority of them. Among the Electors there must be some who are not. There must be some Republicans among the electors who understand that Russia is a nice country and all, and that we love the Russian people and all, but that the Putin government is not our friend.
Today, Friday, the Obama administration will do what it should have done months ago, but elected not to for what seemed like good reasons at the time. The President will, essentially, give that CIA briefing that some people got on Friday, to the rest of the country, about Putin’s involvement in the US election.
There will be people who become outraged, a lot of them. Some of them may be influential Republicans. A friend of mine pointed out the ideal scenario: One or more members of the presumed Trump cadre of Cabinet appointees walks off the job, forsakes the Trump administration, in outrage. Imagine Marine General James Mattis publicly noting that he has sworn an oath to protect the United States from all enemies domestic and foreign. Indeed, General Mattis has to do this. He is known to be a very smart guy, one of the more intellectual generals. At the same time, he is known to be fiercely patriotic. He must have figured this out by now. He must have figured out by now that he will be dumping his career of patriotic service to America right into the crapper if he serves in the Trump administration. I assume that he initially figured he should be in there doing what needs to be done with competence. But hopefully he will now, and maybe others proposed for the cabinet as well, realize that this day, this weekend, is the only opportunity to ask the electors to not vote for Trump, to do anything but vote for Trump, in order to stop a Russian takeover of the United States.
Only about 10% of the electors have to do this.
If Trump is not elected, and if the highly unlikely event of the electors simply electing Clinton does not happen, then the US House has a shot at deciding who will be President of the United States. They must choose among the top vote getting three names that the Electors consider. Thusly, the Electors can hand the US house a list of three people, including Clinton, Trump, and one other person, probably a Republicans, for them to chose among.
If that third name is a reasonable individual (for a Republican) or, at least, an established Republican, then perhaps the House will have the bravery, and the love of freedom, to chose that person as the next president.
Half this country is ready to go to the mat to keep Trump, and thus the Russians and who knows who or what else, in power. The other half of this country is willing to go to the mat to stop Trump from doing all that he has promised to do for months. The third half seems to have no interest in any of this. No matter what happens, there is going to be a fight.
People in the middle and on the left are brave, and ready to take on whatever happens. People on the Right are Putin loving Russia-symps who just want to punch some hippies and piss in the lake. And now, we get to find out which of those themes best represents our country. Now, this weekend, Monday.
Holy crap America, what have you done?
There has been a lot of talk about Trump and Russia and Putin. I think most people watching this see some sort of connections. Some go so far as to say that Trump is literally a Russian agent. Here is an interesting perspective from intelligence expert Malcolm Nance, author of The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election …
About Nance’s book:
In April 2016, computer technicians at the Democratic National Committee discovered that someone had accessed the organization’s computer servers and conducted a theft that is best described as Watergate 2.0. In the weeks that followed, the nation’s top computer security experts discovered that the cyber thieves had helped themselves to everything: sensitive documents, emails, donor information, even voice mails.
Soon after, the remainder of the Democratic Party machine, the congressional campaign, the Clinton campaign, and their friends and allies in the media were also hacked. Credit cards numbers, phone numbers, and contacts were stolen. In short order, the FBI found that more than twenty-five state election offices had their voter registration systems probed or attacked by the same hackers.
Western intelligence agencies tracked the hack to Russian spy agencies and dubbed them the CYBER BEARS. The media was soon flooded with the stolen information channeled through Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. It was a massive attack on America but the Russian hacks appeared to have a singular goal—elect Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.
New York Times bestselling author and career intelligence officer Malcolm Nance’s fast paced real-life spy thriller takes you from Vladimir Putin’s rise through the KGB from junior officer to spymaster-in-chief and spells out the story of how he performed the ultimate political manipulation—convincing Donald Trump to abandon seventy years of American foreign policy including the destruction of NATO, cheering the end of the European Union, allowing Russian domination of Eastern Europe, and destroying the existing global order with America at its lead.
The Plot to Hack America is the thrilling true story of how Putin’s spy agency, run by the Russian billionaire class, used the promise of power and influence to cultivate Trump as well as his closest aides, the Kremlin Crew, to become unwitting assets of the Russian government. The goal? To put an end to 240 years of free and fair American democratic elections.
This is a meteor streaking across the sky in the vicinity of the Urals:
Numerous additional films of that event and some analysis are on Phil Plait’s blog, here.
Here’s a FAKE video purported to be a crater formed by a fragment of that meteor BUT IT ISN’T:
From Phil Plait’s blog: “Note also lots of hoaxes are turning up, like a video of a flaming crater that’s actually a flaming pit in Turkmenistan that’s been burning for decades (called “The Door to Hell”). Be cautious and be skeptica”
… apparently the shock wave of the meteor passing over head or breaking apart blasted apart doors and windows and such in nearby villages and about 1,000 people were somewhat injured by flying debris.
I’m also told that there is no connection between the nearby asteroid flyby and this event. According to Phil Plait (see link above) the direction of the objects flying across the sky in the videos seems to be different than the direction of the visiting asteroid. That is all provisional, of course, This is a breaking story and it will be a while before we can totally understand the details.