Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

Moderators: DrVolin, Elvis, Jeff

Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:58 pm

Seth Abramson

(THREAD) MAJOR BREAKING NEWS (CNN): Convicted Kremlin agent Maria Butina's longtime boyfriend confirms that Don Jr. met secretly with Kremlin agents for an hour during the 2015 NRA Conference in Knoxville; Don Jr. therefore lied to Congress about collusion. Please RT and read on.
6:44 PM - 22 Aug 2019

1/ This story is still developing—and confusing enough that only those who've researched the Trump-Russia case for years understood its import when it first broke; many others are currently misreporting it. I'm going to do my best to get this 100% right for you—as it's huge news.

2/ SUMMARY: All agree Butina was a Kremlin agent working for a Kremlin official—Torshin; all agree she used sex to access targets; all agree she infiltrated the NRA and aimed to infiltrate Team Trump; all agree her job was to end sanctions. We *didn't* know Jr. met with her team.

3/ BACKGROUND (all taken from PROOF OF CONSPIRACY, the Mueller Report, and major-media sources): in early 2015, the future top Trump adviser on Russia, Dmitri Simes, met with Putin; thereafter, he helped Alexander Torshin and Butina gain access to top federal banking officials.

4/ Torshin and Butina wanted access to banking officials as part of what is now confirmed as a Russian intelligence operation aimed at—among other things—gaining confidential data about the Ziff Brothers, whose Clinton donations the Kremlin thought could be used against Hillary.

5/ During the period Simes—the former top Trump adviser on Russia who now makes $500,000/year working for the Kremlin's TV network, RT—was aiding Torshin/Butina, he was trying to Torshin's aid for the top funder of his pro-Kremlin think tank, the Center for the National Interest.

6/ Filings in the Butina case confirm that—in early 2015—Butina/Torshin aimed to infiltrate the NRA and, if possible, Trump's campaign. Butina's ex-boyfriend, Patrick Byrne, has now confirmed Butina *spoke* of infiltrating four campaigns, but in fact only focused on one: Trump's.

7/ We don't know exactly who puts the FBI onto Russia's activities—though to be clear both the hacking and propaganda operations run by the Kremlin in 2016 had *already begun* by Spring 2015. We also know the FBI was investigating George Papadopoulos as a possible Israeli agent.

8/ Given that it later prosecuted Butina, made Torshin an unindicted co-conspirator, got warrants on Papadopoulos, and turned Simes into the shocking "star" of Volume 1 of the Mueller Report, there's a reasonable chance—but we don't know—that the FBI was long tracking all four.

9/ The upshot to this part of the story is this: FBI agent Peter Strzok was running an FBI probe in early 2015 that believed—it turns out, 100% correctly—that Kremlin agents under Putin's control sought to infiltrate Trump's 2016 campaign. Tonight we got *major* new news on this.

10/ Butina's ex-boyfriend—businessman Patrick Byrne—tonight *confirmed* to CNN that Butina said she had "close ties" to "four of the top seven oligarchs in Russia" and that she was in a position to orchestrate him (Byrne) meeting *one-on-one with Putin himself*. This is 100% new.

11/ Byrne further *confirms* to CNN that Butina said she was working for Torshin, a Kremlin official, and that she'd been tasked with infiltrating Trump's campaign. She said the purpose was "peace"—which is the term the Kremlin uses (systematically) to refer to sanctions relief.

12/ We've long known that at the spring 2015 NRA Conference in Knoxville, Donald Trump Jr. made contact with Torshin; both men claimed that they randomly found themselves near one another and spoke only briefly of inconsequential things—and that's what Don Jr. told Congress, too.

13/ We don't know Torshin's full story—as he fled to Russia. Likewise, we don't know Simes's full story—as he took a job for the Kremlin in Moscow. But in my 2018 book PROOF OF COLLUSION, I wrote of a major-media story that hinted Don Jr. *might* have been lying about Knoxville.

14/ CORRECTION: I mean Nashville, Tennessee, not Knoxville, Tennessee. My sister went to University of Tennessee in Knoxville, so it's more on my brain than it is with most people. Wherever I wrote Knoxville above, I'm speaking of Nashville. OK, to continue with this major story:

15/ PROOF OF COLLUSION offered major-media reporting that a) Torshin's meeting with Don Jr. wasn't accidental; b) they discussed more than pleasantries; c) Torshin had been tasked to get Don Jr. to come with him to a second location for a secret meeting. That's what I had *then*.

16/ According to Byrne, Butina told him that—at a time when she was connected to "four of the top seven oligarchs in Russia" and could orchestrate *face-to-face meetings with Putin*—she and Torshin successfully got Don Jr. to go to a second location for a one-hour secret meeting.

17/ This secret meeting in Nashville took place in April 2015, per Butina, just 60 days before Trump announced his presidential run. At *any* meeting between Torshin, Butina, Trump Jr., and other Kremlin agents, the topic Torshin and Butina were assigned to discuss was sanctions.

18/ By 30 days after Trump announced his run in June 2015, he *still* had not made a major official declaration of his policy on Russia sanctions. Then he went to FreedomFest in Las Vegas in July 2015. Butina was there and Byrne was there. Butina was posing as a young journalist.

19/ The event was televised, so any statement by Trump was certain to be seen by Putin and other leaders. Butina, posing as a journalist, asked Trump to state his position on sanctions. Trump—whose son had apparently secretly met with Butina and her boss—said he wanted them gone.

20/ It was at the 2015 Las Vegas event that Butina first approached Byrne; at the time she was in a relationship with GOP operative Paul Erickson, who's since been indicted on multiple charges. Butina, the Kremlin agent, seduced Byrne, and they soon began a romantic relationship.

21/ Byrne is unclear on whether he contacted the FBI about Butina before or after their romantic relationship began. In any case, Byrne is clear he *wasn't* acting as an FBI CI in Las Vegas; he was there as a *speaker*, but had worked with the FBI previously on unrelated matters.

22/ In any case, Butina's conduct in trying to recruit Byrne is so suspicious that he alerts the FBI because he has prior—unrelated—contacts in the organization. The FBI, which has already—it turns out, 100% correctly—begun investigating Butina, asks Byrne to continue to see her.

23/ Byrne now says federal officials have told him that the order for him to keep seeing Butina came from Peter Strzok, James Comey and one other person—which would make sense, given that these are the men who were heading up the Russian election-interference probe at that point.

24/ In the months after Butina—following a meeting with Trump Jr.—gets Trump to oppose sanctions on TV, Butina so infiltrates the NRA that she's able to arrange a trip by the NRA's top brass to Moscow to meet Putin at the same time Trump adviser Flynn is in Moscow to meet Putin.

25/ Just over a year after meeting with Putin—who has called Simes a "friend"—and during a period he's still in contact with Torshin and Butina, Simes manages to insinuate himself into the Trump during a March '16 Center for the National Interest event that Jared Kushner attends.

26/ Thereafter, Simes becomes the "Russia whisperer" of the Trump campaign—involving himself in every major Russia-related foreign policy event and policy paper Trump's campaign constructs between March and November 2016. Shortly after Butina is arrested, Simes *flees to Moscow*.

27/ Don Jr. testifies to Congress that he had no significant contacts with Torshin. But media reports suggest that not only—if Butina's claims are true—did Don Jr. meet with Torshin, but *so did Trump himself*. Torshin ultimately tweets out that he met Trump at an NRA conference.

28/ Live television, folks. Going to correct one or two things that don't change the story but more properly align events and dates.

29/ In late 2015, Alexander Torshin claimed on Twitter that he knew Trump from the NRA and could speak to his character. Torshin and Trump both attended the April 2015 NRA Conference in Nashville, so the assumption has been that they met at that time.

30/ The secret Torshin/Trump Jr. meeting occurred, per Butina's statements to Byrne, at *either* the Nashville NRA Conference in spring 2015 *or* the Louisville NRA Conference in spring 2016 *or* both. Byrne, in speaking to CNN, was not clear on this. But Byrne has corroboration.

31/ We already know that prosecutors investigating Torshin abroad have intimated that Trump Jr. is lying about his contacts with Torshin, which (as I wrote in PROOF OF COLLUSION) is further suggested by Trump Jr.'s lies about the meeting and Torshin's plans for an off-site event.

32/ Here's the 2018 YAHOO NEWS article (from Michael Isikoff, the author—with David Corn—of the New York Times bestseller RUSSIAN ROULETTE) about wiretaps that apparently incriminate Trump Jr. with respect to him lying to Congress about Alexander Torshin:

33/ Earlier in the thread, I indicated that we *knew* Patrick Byrne was saying the Trump Jr.-Butina-Torshin meeting happened in 2015; reviewing his interview, it's more accurate to say that he indicates the meeting could have occurred in 2015 in Nashville *or* 2016 in Louisville.

34/ By the way, between those two events Torshin tweeted this:

35/ It's *marginally* more likely the secret Trump Jr.-Butina-Torshin meeting happened in 2016 in Louisville, as we *know* the two men interacted at that event. But that said, it seems Torshin and Trump Sr. interacted in 2015 in Nashville—and *we know Trump Jr. was in Nashville*.

36/ We know Trump Jr. was in Nashville in 2015 because his father said so during his speech:

37/ NOTE: I'm going to say something now that I can't believe I'm going to say... but the next tweet is really one that *everyone* needs to read *carefully* and understand because it could point toward the most important revelation in the entire Trump-Russia investigation so far.


1) Trump and Don Jr. were both in Nashville and both in Louisville.
2) Torshin—by 7 months after Nashville—says he knows Trump via the NRA.
3) Butina says Don Jr. attended a secret meeting with Torshin in either Nashville or Louisville.
4) Why wouldn't *Trump* have gone too?


5) SCENARIO #1: If Kremlin agent Torshin met Trump in Nashville in 2015 as he implies—and if the secret meeting was in Nashville—why would Don Jr. have gone in his father's place, and how would Torshin be able to say he met *Trump* if *Trump* didn't also attend that meeting?


6) SCENARIO #2: If Butina is saying the secret Torshin-Don Jr. meeting was in *Louisville*, that's months *after* Torshin says he already knows Trump—and media reports say Torshin wanted to see Trump in Louisville. So why wouldn't Trump have attended *that* secret meeting?

41/ In any case, what we have now is Don Jr. meeting secretly with Kremlin agent Torshin in—most likely—Louisville in spring '16, and later lying about it to Congress. Torshin is—at the time—apparently connected to an op looking to get dirt on Clinton involving the Ziff Brothers.

42/ When Jr. gets contacted a few weeks later—in early June—and learns the Kremlin has dirt on Clinton it wants to give him, guess what the dirt is about? As confirmed by US media's publication of the Kremlin talking points for that meeting, the info involves...the Ziff Brothers.

43/ Trump and Don Jr. thereafter lie about the meeting in which Jr. learned of the HRC "dirt" Torshin had been connecting to uncovering. And they *also* lie about the *other* topic of that June 2016 meeting: the "peace" Butina was working for, that is to say... sanctions relief.

44/ SUMMARY: So there's now a clear throughline establishing a Kremlin operation involving Putin, his top four oligarchs, Butina, Torshin and Simes—one that involves infiltrating the Trump campaign through the NRA and specifically Don Jr.

Both Don and his dad then lied about it.

45/ To me, the craziest part of all this is that when it hit media this evening, those who picked it up didn't know enough about the Trump-Russia timeline to know what they were hearing. So they fell into a trap laid by the far-right "journalist" who spoke to Byrne—Sara Carter.

46/ Carter falsely claims the *real* story here is... the FBI asking Byrne to keep seeing Butina. I've no idea why that'd be a story, or why it'd be a story if—as Byrne says—Strzok and Comey issued that order. They were...*investigating Russia*. Of *course* they issued the order.

47/ The three Russian election-interference campaigns—hacking, propaganda, and infiltration—began in 2014 and 2015. It was always my assumption—it should've been everyone's—that the best intelligence agencies in the world (ours) were on to the Russians' activities not long after.

48/ That's why, when the story came out that Mueller was looking into Papadopoulos' overseas activities *before* he approached the Trump campaign the first time—in summer *2015*—it made sense: because the multinational collusion(s) PROOF OF CONSPIRACY details had started by then.

49/ I won't rehash the whole Red Sea Conspiracy here—as that's what PROOF OF CONSPIRACY will do when it's published September 3. Suffice to say that activities in Israel, Russia, and the UAE in *2014* communicated to U.S. intelligence that a strange new alliance was being formed.

50/ The FBI, when it's investigating a major national security issue—an attack by a hostile foreign power on our infrastructure, which was being investigated beginning in summer '15 at the *latest*—*absolutely* is going to use a new resource like Byrne if he drops into their lap.

51/ Byrne maintains that the FBI agents he spoke to were honorable, were apologetic about asking him to falsely keep up a Butina relationship, and represented that they were pursuing key law enforcement duties. It's the *last* portion of Byrne's interview that's sowing confusion.

52/ Byrne—citing no evidence at all—now says that he feels he was used to conduct "political espionage." And even odder, he says that espionage was being conducted against *both* the Trump *and* Clinton campaigns. But his view on this seems to all stem from a single name: Strzok.

53/ That is, people like Sara Carter have convinced a certain brand of conspiracy theorist that just because Strzok didn't like Trump—just like *150 million Americans don't*—it *automatically* means he was willing to throw away his FBI career to try to frame him and stage a coup.

54/ Mind you, Mueller did a thorough review of Strzok's work and found *no* fault with it. Strzok got in trouble due to private texts—not his professional responsibilities. But because Byrne has become convinced—without evidence—that Strzok framed Trump, he feels Strzok used him.

55/ The result of all this is media is reporting the biggest breakthrough in the Trump-Russia investigation so far as though it confirms some sort of "deep-state" conspiracy—rather than just that Byrne isn't happy about what he was asked to do now that he knows Strzok ordered it.

56/ As we've seen, Byrne's revelations in fact have nothing to do with Strzok; rather, they're about: (1) Donald Trump Jr.'s secret meetings and lies to Congress, (2) Maria Butina's much-higher-than-known level of access to Putin and his oligarchs, and (3) the Trump-Torshin link.

57/ Here's what absolutely has to happen now:

(1) Byrne has to be called before Congress.
(2) Donald Trump Jr. has to be called back before Congress.
(3) Trump has to be asked about every meeting he ever had with Alex Torshin, Maria Butina, or any agents of either Kremlin agent.

58/ And:

(4) Media must clean up its reporting from tonight. Byrne is offering *no evidence* he was used for "political espionage"; he's merely angry at Strzok—and therefore upset that Strzok apparently urged him to keep seeing Butina. His story is important for *other* reasons.

59/ But I also want underscore that Patrick Byrne's story isn't *legible* to anyone who hasn't been researching the Trump-Russia case for years. I've been doing that—and have written two books on the subject—and even *I* had to listen hard to understand what Byrne was revealing.

60/ I don't say that to be self-aggrandizing; I believe that *anyone* who fully understands the timeline and players in the Trump-Russia case would see and can confirm all I've said—so I'm not special for having "figured something out." I'm just explaining why US media missed it.

61/ As for Carter, I don't know why she misrepresented this. There's an obvious potential reason—a political agenda—and a less-obvious reason: that some on the right are trying to "launder" bad information for Trump by reframing it falsely. But I don't know if that happened here.

62/ It must be underscored that Byrne is a problematic witness—just not in a way that would necessarily undercut *this* story [i.e., in the way it's important]. He clearly still has feelings for Butina; he deeply admires her; he even thinks that she should be President of Russia.

63/ Byrne's story is significant exclusively because of statements his girlfriend made to him at a time those statements were either (1) against her interest, or (2) corroborated subsequently by other means. Let me explain what I mean by that, as it's important.

64/ Federal filings confirm that Torshin and Butina were running an intelligence op to infiltrate the NRA and Trump's campaign.

65/ It would have been *entirely detrimental to that intelligence op* for either of the two Kremlin agents to falsely claim to have had contact with anyone in the Trump family.

66/ Doing so would risk arousing the ire of their marks and diminishing their credibility and therefore potentially compromising their entire operation. So there are indicia of reliability in what Butina said to Byrne about Trump Jr. It's also consistent with major media reports.

67/ Those news reports place the relevant parties at the relevant locations and with the stated intent to establish communications. We even had prior reporting that Torshin wanted an off-site meeting with Trump Jr. and that wiretaps would prove Trump Jr. lied about what happened.

68/ It's clear Byrne believed his story was helping Butina *and moreover* it is clear from Carter's reporting and Byrne's CNN interview that Butina's *U.S. lawyers* also thought so. So there's no sense *anyone* here realized this would actually sink Butina, or wanted that result.

69/ One would have to be an idiot to hear or see the interview Patrick Byrne gave with CNN and *not* wonder about his reliability. The problem is that media reports also say that the FBI believed his story and, again, the relevant parts aren't really touched by Byrne's weirdness.

70/ And of course I'm leaving out entire swaths of corroboration for the sake of brevity. For instance, we already know that Donald Trump Jr. has lied under oath about these *very matters* (and others), and that Torshin and Simes both fled the country *when Butina was arrested*.

71/ The boasts Butina made about her extraordinarily well-placed Kremlin contacts were *confirmed* when she invited to Moscow, and then hosted in Moscow, top NRA brass, who were then ushered into meetings with top Kremlin officials. So she wasn't lying to Byrne about any of that.

72/ I could go on (for instance regarding the telling synchronicity of Flynn being in Moscow while Butina was hosting the NRA brass, as we know what Flynn was in Moscow to do and who he was there to meet with) but the broader point is that weird people *aren't* necessarily liars.

73/ I can readily understand, given the foregoing, why DOJ (presumably attorneys with the IG) believed Byrne. The question is whether they *only* looked at the Strzok angle, because that's the only thing *they* are tasked with looking at right now. Mueller is [prematurely] gone.

74/ When Bob Mueller, to the shock of everyone except (oddly) the husband of Trump's communications director, closed up shop almost immediately after Trump's handpicked AG, Bill Barr, was confirmed, I was one of those saying, "What happens if new info comes out? Who handles it?"

75/ The one thing Carter may have gotten *right*, albeit inadvertently, is that at present the entirely silly and unimportant Strzok angle *is* the only one being looked at, because Byrne chose to go to DOJ, and therefore the IG looking at *just* that narrow (GOP-invented) issue. ... 5944974336

(THREAD) It's time to separate fact from fiction in the case of Patrick Byrne, Maria Butina, Trump Jr. and a cadre of FBI agents and leaders. This is a still-developing story—but problematic reporting and Byrne's bad framing are muddling events. I hope you'll read on and retweet.

CLAIM1/ Byrne was "directed" to sleep with Butina by the FBI (CNN).

False. The FBI not only had no authority to "direct" Byrne, but Byrne himself says that he was clearly told that he didn't have to do anything. The FBI asked if he was willing to do something and he said he was.

CLAIM2/ Byrne's activities were coordinated by Strzok, McCabe, and Comey (Byrne).

Unclear. Byrne keeps changing his story—at one point saying "federal authorities" told him this was so, at another point saying he figured it out from TV, at another point implying he/Strzok spoke.

CLAIM3/ Byrne isn't credible (many folks).

Unclear. We know he/Butina had a relationship; we know he'd worked with the FBI before; we know—if true—FBI records will confirm his story; we know DOJ found some of his story credible. It's his odd demeanor convincing people otherwise.

CLAIM4/ There was no "second meeting" between Don Jr. and Kremlin agents Butina/Torshin; Don and Torshin had only a chance May 2016 encounter in Louisville.


In other words, it *does* appear there was such a meeting.

This one will take a few tweets to unwrap.

CLAIM 4-2/ According to Don Jr. and Torshin, all that happened is that they—by chance—were sitting near each other at an NRA dinner and they briefly exchanged inconsequential pleasantries. This bears no relationship/similarity to any meeting Butina has ever told any person about.

CLAIM 4-3/ What Butina told Byrne is that at 2PM on one of the days of the May 2016 Louisville NRA Conference, Butina and her team planned to take Trump Jr. out the back door of his hotel and bring him to her—Butina's—hotel for a 1-hour meeting. The meeting was to be clandestine.

CLAIM 4-4/ Moreover, unlike the story Torshin and Trump Jr. later told—Torshin, who subsequently fled the country; Trump Jr., who subsequently lied to Congress on this and other matters—Butina was, per Butina, slated to be *present* at the meeting between Torshin and Trump's son.

CLAIM 4-5/ Byrne is *unwavering* is saying Butina told him this was her plan, and *unwavering* in saying it was his understanding the meeting *did* happen (leading to his *anger* that the FBI had "let it happen"). When Butina *told* him the meeting had occurred is still in doubt.

CLAIM 4-6/ Byrne says he stopped seeing Butina in April 2016, so they weren't together (or in communication) at the time the planned May 2016 meeting would've occurred. But he reconnected with her after July 2016, and now says the meeting occurred, so she must have told him then.

CLAIM 4-7/ Butina's attorneys are now saying there was no second meeting; as ever, statements made by paid advocates for a Kremlin agent who knows it would be an international scandal if it was revealed that she and others secretly met with Trump Jr. can be and must be *ignored*.

CLAIM 4-8/ Much more reliable are statements made against her own interest—because she was revealing sensitive operational details of a Kremlin operation—Butina made to Byrne in the context of a) a romantic relationship, b) trying to establish a trusting relationship with a mark.

CLAIM 4-9/ Of course, far more reliable than *that* is corroborating evidence: Don Jr., Butina, and Torshin were in the place Butina says they were on the date in question; Don Jr. and Torshin admit to contact; we know from other reporting that Torshin wanted a "second meeting."

CLAIM 4-10/ We know Torshin is under criminal investigation in multiple jurisdictions and was Butina's handler in a course of conduct in which Butina was a covert agent of influence; we know he's fled; we know he took numerous actions to secretly liaison with Trump team members.

CLAIM 5/ Byrne's story is "crazy" (Jim Comey).

First, we *have* to note that the *whole Trump-Russia story* as we now know it—while 100% true, per Mueller—sounds crazy when you first hear it. But Comey isn't, actually, making a *blanket* denial of Byrne's highly unusual claims.

CLAIM 5-1/ It appears what Comey is denying is that *he* oversaw FBI agents' contacts with Byrne—or that *he* in any way directed Byrne to have a relationship with Butina. It's entirely possible for both Comey and Byrne to be right—as Byrne seems to be guessing about some things.

CLAIM 5-2/ Not only did Byrne *only* have contact with field agents—it *doesn't* appear he had contact with FBI leadership—when you actually listen to the facts of his story, rather than his own misguided framing, it's not clear... well... what the field agents *asked* him to do.

CLAIM 5-3/ From July '15 to July '16, Byrne was voluntarily in a relationship with Butina that he voluntarily reported on to FBI field agents. He says when he asked the agents to greenlight the relationship they did—but they were just declining to force him to end a relationship.

CLAIM 5-4/ It *would've* been a scandal if agents *had* told Byrne to end the relationship in late 2015—as it would suggest they saw Butina as dangerous *but* weren't willing to investigate her further. *And* they'd be interceding in Byrne's situation in a way they'd have to own.

CLAIM 5-5/ So the supposed "greenlight" appears to be FBI agents saying, yeah, you can keep us informed if you like, in the event anything untoward happens, but we're not going to stand in the way of your romantic relationship. That appears to be all that happened at that point.

CLAIM 5-6/ What Byrne is *angry* about is that he then kept feeding the FBI agents information—which presumably they memorialized—but that they didn't take any action, which frankly is *exactly* the same reaction Christopher Steele encountered, and actually looks bad for *Trump*.

CLAIM 5-7/ Trump and his allies' conspiracy theory is that there was a massive FBI conspiracy to destroy him—but only if he won the presidency, which they took no action to prevent; follow *that* logic—but Byrne/Steele both suggest the FBI *ignored* evidence of Trump-Russia ties.

CLAIM 5-8/ Coupled with the FBI *lying to the New York Times* in the days before the election about what they knew of Trump-Russia ties, what we're seeing is a *consistent* pattern of the FBI *hiding* what it knows about Trump and Russia rather than weaponizing it in any fashion.

CLAIM 5-9/ Even so, nothing in Byrne's story is even arguably "crazy"—to go back to Comey's claim—until July 2016, when the FBI, inspired by other evidence of Trump-Russia ties, asks Byrne if he's *willing* to not just continue his relationship but continue having it be romantic.

CLAIM 5-10/ But here's the thing: Byrne was already in the relationship—which is confirmed. It'd previously been romantic—which is confirmed. So in what way was the FBI even asking Byrne to do something he wasn't already doing? It's unclear. I think there's an easier explanation:

CLAIM 5-11/ The easier explanation is that in July 2016 the agents communicating with Byrne told him that—in fact—Butina *was* potentially a danger to the US, at which point—presumably—Byrne would've wanted to break things off. The FBI simply asked him to consider not doing that.

CLAIM 5-12/ And that is, I think, the sum total of the far-less-interesting "Strzok-McCabe-Comey" part of the story—Byrne is offended that the FBI even *asked* him to continue seeing Maria Butina after the FBI informed him it was, in fact, worried that she was a foreign agent.

CLAIM 5-13/ But the fact is, the FBI request for Byrne to consider continuing to see Butina came in *July 2016* if it came at all: at a time when—as Byrne says the FBI told him—they were dealing with an extraordinary national security situation. It was *not* some concocted plot.
8:26 AM - 23 Aug 2019
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CLAIM 5-14/ I think, therefore, that Comey can be *correct* that Byrne's framing of events is "crazy" even as his response doesn't do anything to contradict the core facts: the Byrne-Butina relationship; Byrne-FBI contact; Butina's claims—to Byrne—that she and Torshin met Don Jr.

CLAIM 6/ AG Barr intercepted Byrne's evidence, even though it should have gone to the DOJ's IG—Horowitz—and Barr should've had nothing to do with it.

Unclear. Byrne says that Barr knows the entirety of his (Byrne's) story, but it's not clear if he's presuming that or knows that.

CLAIM 7/ Byrne "set up" persons "X, Y, and Z"—who he appears to now identify, respectively, as McCabe, Strzok, and Comey—for federal "felony charges."

False. There's zero evidence any of these men did anything wrong or were even involved in the field agents' contacts with Byrne.


August 23, 2019/1 Comment/in emptywheel, Informants, Intelligence, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
There are a number of inconsistencies and sketchy claims (about who he thinks was targeted by the FBI and the timing of his disclosures) in former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne’s claims (Sara Carter’s story, NYT story) that he had been a “non-standard” informant for the FBI about Maria Butina.

The short version is that she sought him out in July 2015, telling him Aleksandr Torshin had asked her to do so, then started a sexual relationship with him, then later turned her attention to networking with presidential campaigns. All along the way, Byrne claims, he kept the FBI informed and acted on their requests regarding his relationship with Butina. Then, 9 months after she was arrested, in April 2018 and at a period too late to help her sentencing, he reached out to the FBI and first without counsel and then with a lawyer told the FBI what had happened. He attributes coming forward to a conversation with Warren Buffet, though Buffet claims not to know what he was involved with.

I may return to the oddities in Byrne’s story.

For now, however, I’d like to examine what her lawyer Robert Driscoll has claimed about Byrne.

In a letter to John Durham, DOJ’s IG, and OPR (shared with Carter), Driscoll suggested that he should have been provided details of what Byrne shared with the FBI as Brady information.

By email, letter, phone, and in person, the defense repeatedly pressed the government for any Brady material and was not provided any. In particular, we suggested to the government a strong suspicion that counterintelligence or other FBI investigators used confidential informants (“CIs”) in their investigation of Maria, and that information provided by such witnesses to the government might be relevant to guilt or sentencing. Moreover, we suggested that the government had presented Maria with one or more “dangles” — that is, orchestrated opportunities to provide the government information unwittingly while being observed.

In writing, the government denied the existence of any such Brady material. Orally, during debrief sessions with Maria, I directly told the government that I believed Patrick Byrne, Chief Executive of, who had a sporadic relationship with Maria over a period of years prior to her arrest, was a government informant. My speculation was flatly denied. My associate Alfred Carry made similar assertions in a separate debrief that he covered and was also rebuffed.

Mr. Byrne has now contacted me and has confirmed that he, indeed, had a “non-standard arrangement” with the FBI for many years, and that beginning in 2015 through Maria’s arrest, he communicated and assisted government agents with their investigation of Maria. During this time, he stated he acted at the direction of the government and federal agents by, at their instruction, kindling a manipulative romantic relationship with her. He also told me that some of the details he provided the government regarding Maria in response was exculpatory — that is, he reported to the government that Maria’s behavior with him was inconsistent with her being a foreign agent and more likely an idealist and age-appropriate peace activist.


Byrne evidently informed the government of many meetings with political and other figures that Maria had mentioned to him, often in advance of the meetings themselves. The government did not try to intervene or try to stop any meetings, nor did they express any concern. (This undercuts the government’s position at sentencing that Maria’s activities involved collection of information that could be of “substantial intelligence value to the Russian government” or pose a “serious potential to harm U.S. foreign policy interests and national security” as those same activities were observed and permitted for years.)

At some point prior to the 2016 election, when Byrne’s contact with Maria diminished or ceased, the government asked and encouraged him to renew contact with her and he did so, continuing to inform the government of her activities. Byrne states he was informed by government agents that his pursuit and involvement with Maria (and concomitant surveillance of her) was requested and directed from the highest levels of the FBI and intelligence community.

As time passed, Byrne became more and more convinced that Maria was what she said she was–an inquisitive student in favor of better U.S.-Russian relations–and not an agent of the Russian government or someone involved in espionage or illegal activities. He states he conveyed these thoughts and the corroborating facts and observations to the government.

Now, I absolutely don’t rule out the government withholding information that would be helpful to the defense. They do that far too often, and there are good reasons to doubt the prosecutors in this case. But Driscoll’s claim that this might be a Brady violation is premised on two things: first, that the FBI really considered Byrne an informant — which is what they denied when asked directly — and that the FBI considered anything he gave them to be exculpatory.

In fact, the story Byrne told is actually quite damning to Butina. From the very start, according to what he told Sara Carter, Butina was pursuing him, not vice versa. She told him, from the very start, she had been sent by Torshin and explained (credibly, given Putin’s interests) they were interested in Byrne because of his involvement in blockchain technology. And her offer of a trip to Russia with networking there matched her M.O. in approaching the NRA.

Byrne revealed details about his intimate relationship with the Russian gun right’s activist Butina. Byrne was a keynote speaker on July, 8, 2015 at Freedom Fest, a yearly Libertarian gathering that hosts top speakers in Las Vegas. Shortly after his address, Butina approached him. She told him she was the leader of a gun right’s organization in Russia. He congratulated her, spoke to her shortly, but then “brushed her off.”

The young redheaded Russian graduate student then approached him again over the course of the conference and explained that she worked for the Vice Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia and sent by them to make contact with Byrne.

She also said “Did you know you’re a famous man in Russia in certain circles? We watch your Youtube videos, we know about your relationship with Milton Friedman.”

She said she was appointed to lead Russia’s gun right’s group by Lieutenant-General Mikhail Kalashnikov, who was a Russian general, most notably known for his AK-47 machine gun design. Byrne says he considered the designation by Kalashnikov a significant honor, a signal of a kind he knows some mythical figures make on their way out. Byrne then had an “extensive conversation about Russian history and political situation. Butina told him that the purpose of her visit was primarily to extend an invitation to Byrne to come to Russia to speak at the Central Bank. After that, there would be a trip to a major resort to meet with various intellectuals and dignitaries from the Russian power structure. Butina told Byrne the event would offer him the opportunity to meet senior Russian officials and oligarchs. She wanted to see Byrne again to start preparing him for such a trip.

Even more significantly, as Byrne tells it, after Butina first suggested she was using a romantic relationship with him as cover to explain their communications, she’s the one who first pushed sex.

He rented a hotel room with two bedrooms because he was under the impression that the romantic texts were simply her way to cover for communicating with him. However, she arrived at the hotel beforehand, occupied the room before Byrne’s arrival, and when he arrived, she made clear that her flirtatious texts were not simply a disguise.

And Byrne claims he grew quite alarmed by Butina’s interest in networking with political campaigns.

“Eventually, her conversations became less about philosophy and it became clear that she was doing things that made me quite uncomfortable,” stated Byrne. “She was basically schmoozing around with the political class and eventually she said to me at one point I want to meet anyone in the Hillary campaign, the Cruz, the Rubio campaigns.”

Butina had also told Byrne, that Torshin, the Russian politician who she had been assisting while she was in the U.S., had sent her to the United States to meet other libertarians and build relations with political figures.

Byrne also claims he told Butina she needed to disclose her activities to the government, something that directly contradicts what Butina claimed repeatedly during the sentencing process, that, “If I had known to register as a foreign agent, I would have done so without delay.”

Byrne said he warned Butina: “Maria the United States is not like Russia, and knowing powerful people ‘like oligarchs and politicians’ won’t help if the FBI believes a line has been crossed.” Byrne believed Butina was naive but not blameless. He said during the interview, “If you’re reporting to any Russian official as you’re doing this stuff and not disclosing yourself here, there are these men in black here and they don’t really give a shit who you know here -that’s not going to save you.”

It is true that Butina repeatedly told him she wasn’t a spy and Byrne ultimately became convinced that was true. But even in his description of that, he told Carter that he believed Butina was being used by US and Russian intelligence, not that he believed she had no tie to intelligence.

Although Byrne was concerned about Butina’s possible motives, he eventually became convinced that she was an intellectual being used by both the Russians and American intelligence apparatus. She was stuck between two highly contentious and secretive governments, he claimed. He relayed those concerns to the FBI, he said.

If that’s what he told the FBI, it does nothing to make her any less of an unregistered agent of Russia.

Very significantly, though, Butina’s involvement with Byrne during the period she was supposedly in a meaningful romantic relationship with Paul Erickson refutes the claims her attorneys have made about that relationship.

As I have laid out, from the very start, Driscoll portrayed the government’s claim that she caught Paul Erickson in a honey pot as sexism, with mixed success.

Then there’s the specific government insinuation that Butina was engaged in a honey pot operation. It substantiates this two ways — first, by suggesting she’s not that into Erickson.

Further, in papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about living with U.S. Person 1 and expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with U.S. Person 1.

It also alleges she offered sex for favors.

For example, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than U.S. Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.

Driscoll pretty convincingly argues the government misinterpreted this last bit.

The only evidence the government relied on for its explosive claim was an excerpt from an innocuous three-year-old text exchange (attached as Exhibit 3) sent in Russia between Ms. Butina and DK, her longtime friend, assistant, and public relations man for The Right to Bear Arms gun rights group that she founded.

DK, who often drove Ms. Butina’s car and thus was listed on the insurance, took the car for its annual government-required inspection and insurance renewal, and upon completion, texted (according to government translators), “I don’t know what you owe me for this insurance they put me through the wringer.” Ms. Butina jokingly replied, “Sex. Thank you so much. I have nothing else at all. Not a nickel to my name.” DK responded: “Ugh . . . ( ”—that is, with a sad face emoticon.

Aside from the fact that Maria is friends with DK’s wife and child and treats DK like a brother, the reference to sex is clearly a joke.

We still haven’t seen the government response to this, but what Driscoll presents does support his claim this is a “sexist smear.”

But Driscoll’s dismissal of the other claim — that Butina disdained living with Erickson — is far less convincing.

[I]n response to her girlfriend’s own complaints about her boyfriend’s failure to call in three weeks (accompanied by an angry face emoji) that Maria responds that her own boyfriend (Mr. Erickson) has been “bugging the sh*t out of me with his mom” and that she has “a feeling that I am residing in a nursing home.” “Send a link to the dating app[,]”

Driscoll spins this as an attack on Erickson’s now late mother, but doesn’t address the central allegation that she likened living with her much older boyfriend to living in a nursing home. Nor that she started the exchange by saying “let’s go have some fun with guys!!!” because she was “Bored. So there.” Furthermore, Butina seemed concerned that her use of Tinder would become public because she logged in using Facebook.

Though he has been sharing schmaltzy videos of Butina and Erickson with ABC, Driscoll also doesn’t address the fact that as early as May, Butina was proffering to flip on Erickson in fraud charges in South Dakota, which would have the effect of putting her in a position to negotiate permanent visa status independent of him, while limiting her own legal exposure.

Even in her sentencing memo — long after he knew of her relationship with Byrne, according to his public statements — Driscoll claimed she moved to the US in 2016 so she could be in the same hemisphere as Erickson.

On a personal level, Erickson and Maria kept in touch after the 2013 meeting and she began a romantic relationship with him in the following year.


She also wished to be in the same hemisphere as her romantic interest. So Maria and Erickson explored both educational and business opportunities for her. This is the genesis of the Description of the Diplomacy Project proposal referenced in the Statement of Offense.

Among the events Butina planned to attend as part of that Diplomacy Project was the July 8-11 Freedom Fest convention where she first sought out Byrne. And before she moved to the US, she was already involved sexually with Byrne, according to his claims.

The portrayal of Butina’s relationship with Erickson as true romance has long been suspect — not only did she offer to flip on him in May 2018 (in exchange for which she might have gotten a permanent visa), but she did flip on him months before her plea deal. But if Byrne’s claims are true, it suggests she was using sexual relationships to help network in the US, and it further suggests Driscoll knew that when making claims about the import of her relationship with Erickson. If the FBI did obtain information from Byrne they chose (justifiably or not) not to release to defense attorneys, it might explain why they believed she was operating as a honey pot: because that’s what Byrne told them happened to him.

In his public comments to the NYT, Driscoll explained that Butina didn’t want to settle down (the implication is, with Byrne; he has claimed she wanted to settle down with Erickson).

“I think she admired him, but I don’t think she was looking to settle down,” Mr. Driscoll said.

In his comments to Carter, he suggests that he suspects there were other sources for the FBI.

Driscoll said there was suspicion that the FBI did not disclose all the information it had on Butina and he stated that he believed “Patrick is not the only one” who was giving information to the FBI.

“We’ve thought of several possibilities and some we are more confidant than others. I’m firmly convinced,” said Driscoll, who shared numerous letters and emails with this reporter that he exchanged with the FBI.

A seemingly disturbed homeless man, Hamdy Alex Abouhussein, who has asked to submit an amicus brief in Butina’s appeal (the public defender whom Judge Tanya Chutkan appointed to make sure that Driscoll had no conflicts when she pled guilty, AJ Kramer, is representing her in her appeal) claimed (incorrectly) that he’s the reason Butina got thrown into solitary and that FBI used Butina as a dangle to entrap him. So he also claims to have tried to provide exculpatory information.

Plainly, one cannot tell exactly when, before accepting Butina’s guilty plea, did Judge Chutkan learn of the jail’s blocking of Abouhussein’s letters to Butina, including his pictures, or the FBI dangle operation. Moreover, as the plea hearing transcript shows, Butina responded to the Judge’s sequence of questions about effectiveness of each of her then-three attorneys3, including the just-appointed for the plea negotiations role, A.J. Kramer4, who was yet to meet Abouhussein (they met outside the courtroom after the plea hearing, see pre-plea email from Abouhussein to Kramer, exh 2). Upon information and belief, Butina approved her attorneys’ performance only because they, under DOJ’s duress and a gag order, never informed her of the FBI dangle operation and surrendered to the prosecutors’ intimidation by keeping the dangle operation out of the public eye and trial record5. Admittedly, choice was either a rock or a hard place.

However, Judge Chutkan did sentence Butina to 18 months in prison after the notice of Abouhussein’s Amicus Brief Docket No. 77 was entered, which means Judge Chutkan was t/me/y presented with the “FBI dangle” and “letters blocked by Butina’s jail” Brady issues. Per Rule 51, this Honorable Court now has a lawful duty to investigate the issue of the FBI’s dangle operation that intentionally built up an oligarch-connected naive student as a false spy before casting her sex lure to hook the homeless Abouhussein, who was attending a public event at the Heritage Foundation to eat the free lunch as usual. Had he swallowed the lure6, any Grand Jury would indict this HamdySandwitch of a spy couple with ties to Putin, which explains Prosecutors’ honeypot sex allegations tainting Butina upon her arrest. Only in America!

So, yeah, there are other allegations, but Driscoll is right to suggest Byrne is more credible than, at least, this one.

But if Byrne’s story is credible, then it’s not clear that it helps Butina, at all, because it undermines the story her defense has been telling for a year.

Given her repeated assertions she’s happy with Driscoll’s representation, it’s unclear the basis for Butina’s appeal. I think the government operated in bad faith when they asked for 18 months, but that’s not a basis for an appeal. I think Driscoll made a mistake both by not arguing more forcibly that given the most relevant comparable sentence on 18 USC 951 charges, that of Carter Page recruiter Evgeny Buryakov’s 30 month sentence, a 9 month sentence would have been proportionate for someone like Butina who was neither recruiting nor operating covertly.

I also think that if Driscoll really cared about the declaration from former Assistant Director of FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Robert Anderson Jr at her sentencing, he should have questioned what documents Anderson relied upon to judge that Butina was a spotter for Russian intelligence instead of deciding that, “I’m happy to leave the record as it is.” But if Driscoll had reason to believe the FBI had really damning information from Byrne that undercut his claims about Butina’s romance with Erickson, it might explain why he didn’t ask those questions.

The other day, Butina’s lawyer for her appeal AJ Kramer asked for an extension on his deadline to submit Butina’s appeal, which could mean he wants to add claims of Brady violations in her appeal (though he says he needs more time to consult the public record, and Driscoll and his associate Alfred Carry, by Driscoll’s own admission, never put their request for information about Byrne in writing).

But given Byrne’s public claims, it’s not actually clear that will help her case, as it mostly provides an explanation for why the FBI was so insistent on some of the allegations it did make. ... -erickson/

seemslikeadream » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:53 pm wrote:
Deep state': Shares in $960m company plummet after CEO's bizarre statement
By Michael Corkery
August 16, 2019 — 9.24am

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne said he was motivated to come forward in recent weeks because he believed that top law enforcement officials had not handled the investigation into Butina properly.CREDIT:BLOOMBERG
He was the philosophising founder and chief executive of, a publicly traded e-commerce retailer that sells discount furniture and bedding with a market capitalisation of around $US650 million ($960 million). She was an ambitious graduate student from Russia.

It was the start of a three-year relationship between the e-commerce executive, Patrick Byrne, and the young woman, Maria Butina, that became romantic at times. She is now serving 18 months in prison after being accused by federal prosecutors of trying to infiltrate powerful political circles in the United States at the direction of the Russian government. She ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Byrne's relationship became widely known this week, when his company took the unusual step of issuing a news release that called attention to it. In the release, which was put out in response to a report that Byrne had been involved in the federal inquiry into the 2016 presidential election, Byrne said he had been helping law enforcement agents, whom he referred to as "Men in Black," with their "Clinton Investigation" and "Russia Investigation."

In an interview late Wednesday, Byrne said he wanted to shed light on what he saw as problems in the way top law enforcement officials had handled the government's case against Butina.

The release, titled " CEO Comments on Deep State," sent the company's shares plummeting more than 30 per cent over the next two days, while opening an intriguing new chapter in the tale of Butina and her connections to influential Americans. Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, confirmed that Butina and Byrne had been "romantically involved" and that, according to Byrne, government officials had instructed him on how to interact with her.

In the interview, Byrne said he was still "quite fond" of Butina. "Maria should go home and be president of Russia one day,'' he said. "That is the best thing that could happen to Russia and the US."

Butina, 30, was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent. She achieved notoriety by networking with groups like the National Rifle Association, and by posing for pictures with Republicans like Donald Trump Jr. and Scott Walker, the former Wisconsin governor.

For a time, she dated a Republican political operative who had worked on several campaigns. Her lawyer said she was dating the Republican operative while periodically seeing Byrne.

Byrne, whose father had been the chief executive of the insurance company GEICO, has a reputation for speaking his mind with financial analysts and in interviews. The news release Monday was particularly colourful and, at times, cryptic.

It did not mention Butina specifically, but instead cited two articles published recently on the website of Sara Carter, a journalist and Fox News contributor. One of the articles detailed his relationship with Butina. In the news release, Byrne said he "confirmed" Carter's account.

Maria Butina was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent.CREDIT:AP
The relationship, Byrne said in the interview, began in Las Vegas, where he was giving a talk at the FreedomFest convention, an annual gathering of libertarians.

Butina, according to Byrne, introduced herself and said she wanted to discuss her gun rights group, but he was not interested. She then told a different story: that she was working for a top official at Russia's central bank and wanted Byrne to go to Moscow to speak about blockchain technology. Byrne arranged to meet her for lunch in his hotel suite the next day.

They hit it off, he said, discussing Russian history, literature and philosophy. "She said, 'You are a very famous man in Russia,'" he recalled.

Still, Byrne described being somewhat suspicious of Butina's intentions. Eventually, he said he began to communicate with the FBI about their interactions. Driscoll, Butina's lawyer, said Byrne had contacted him after she was sentenced to prison in April and had told him he had spoken periodically to the FBI about Butina. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.

Maria should go home and be president of Russia one day. That is the best thing that could happen to Russia and the US.
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne
After the convention, Byrne and Butina kept in touch through text messages. She told him she wanted him to meet her in Paris, Rome or Montenegro. They finally decided to meet at the Bowery Hotel in New York in September 2015. Byrne, who calls himself as a "56-year-old bachelor," said the rendezvous in New York quickly became romantic. They met several more times in different cities around the United States, and she visited him at his home in Utah.

"I think she admired him, but I don't think she was looking to settle down," Driscoll said.

Overstock shares fell 30 per cent in two days before regaining some lost ground on Thursday. CREDIT:AP
During the visits, Byrne said Butina spoke increasingly about meeting or seeking to meet people involved in the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Trump, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, which made Byrne wary. Her lawyer said she was merely an ambitious person hoping to advance her career by improving relations between the United States and Russia.

Bryne has recently been focused on developing a blockchain business called tZero that he describes as the place where "blockchain meets capital markets." Overstock is based in Utah, and until this week its stock had been soaring. On Thursday, the company's share price rallied to rise more than 16 per cent, erasing many of the recent losses.

In the news release Monday, Byrne said he had previously worked with law enforcement authorities in a case involving a friend who was murdered and also as part of a "shake up" of Wall Street a decade ago.

Byrne said he was motivated to come forward in recent weeks because he believed that top law enforcement officials had not handled the investigation into Butina properly. In the company's news release, he said the investigation was "less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump."

Citing Byrne's concerns, Driscoll wrote a letter to the Justice Department's inspector general and office of professional responsibility on July 25, saying the Overstock executive had told him that during his relationship with Butina, he had "acted at the direction of the government and federal agents by, at their instruction, kindling a romantic relationship with her."

Driscoll urged Justice Department officials to examine Byrne's concerns further.

"As an adjunct professor and CEO of a public company, Byrne is a credible source of information, who from my view has little to gain, but much to lose by discllevinosing a sporadic relationship with Maria," he wrote. "His claims are worthy of investigation."

The New York Times ... 52ho9.html

Rep. Brad Schneider Becomes The 134th House Democrat To Call For Impeachment Probe ... hment.html

Langevin 133th House Democrat comes out for Trump impeachment inquiry ... t-inquiry/

Nadler asks House committees probing Trump to share docs for its impeachment investigation
08/22/2019 05:40 PM EDT Updated 08/22/2019 06:04 PM

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Thursday asked four House panels investigating President Donald Trump to share documents and other information to aid his committee’s investigation into whether to file articles of impeachment against the president.

In a letter to the chairs of four key investigative committees, Nadler (D-N.Y.) asked for “documents and testimony, depositions, and/or interview transcripts” that might be relevant to the Judiciary Committee’s ongoing impeachment probe.

The letter — addressed to the leaders of the House Intelligence, Financial Services, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs panels — also references the Judiciary panel’s recent pronouncement in various court filings that it is considering whether articles of impeachment are warranted, a decision that came without a formal vote of the House or the committee itself.

Together, all five committees have launched investigations, interviewed witnesses and subpoenaed documents relating to the president’s conduct, foreign business ties, presidential campaign, hush-money payments and personal finances. The Intelligence Committee also has dozens of transcripts from its 2017-18 investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that may become relevant to the Judiciary Committee probe.
Nadler’s request comes one day after Trump’s attorneys argued that two of the committees — Intelligence and Financial Services — may not invoke the possibility of impeachment in order to gain access to Trump's personal financial information held by Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Trump’s lawyers called impeachment “a non-legislative power that the Committees do not and cannot invoke here (because, among other reasons, they have no jurisdiction over it under the House Rules).”

The Judiciary Committee’s move request appears to directly answer that claim: All documents gathered by other committees investigating Trump might become relevant to its impeachment probe. That also bolsters House General Counsel Douglas Letter’s effort to link the Intelligence and Financial Services Committees’ demands to the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

“In fact, the House Committee on the Judiciary is investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Trump,” Letter wrote. He issued a similar filing in a separate lawsuit on behalf of the Oversight Committee, which is seeking Trump’s financial records through his accounting firm, Mazars.
The president’s attorneys say those panels have no right to obtain Trump’s financial documents because only the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over impeachment. Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, too, argue that the panel hasn’t formally invoked impeachment since there hasn’t been an official vote of the committee or the House, a precedent that has been adhered to in all prior presidential impeachment probes.

Nadler’s letter references the Judiciary Committee’s intention to work with the Intelligence Committee to review sensitive grand jury information relating to counterintelligence. Nadler said his request to the other committees “would build on that sharing agreement and would similarly allow for sensitive or confidential information to be received.”

In the past, formal impeachment inquiries have transformed the Judiciary Committee into the clearinghouse for all potentially damaging information about the president, but under Nadler’s proposed arrangement, all five committees would continue their parallel investigations and share information only as it becomes pertinent — a prospect that would dramatically broaden efforts to unearth impeachment-related information to dozens of additional members of the House, including powerful lawmakers like Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters. Waters has long called for Trump’s removal from office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted growing calls among her colleagues to open a formal impeachment inquiry, though she has signed off on the legal strategy that references the House’s ongoing impeachment investigation. As of Thursday, 135 Democrats — well over half of Pelosi’s caucus — have indicated they would vote to open an inquiry, a number that has grown steadily since former special counsel Robert Mueller testified on Capitol Hill last month and confirmed allegations of obstruction of justice against Trump.

Though Pelosi tasked six committees with investigating aspects of Trump’s business and personal activities, Nadler’s letter notably omits the Ways and Means Committee, which is seeking Trump’s federal tax returns and is suing the Treasury Department and IRS to obtain them. ... nt-1472475
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:13 pm

Wendy Siegelman

federal judge releases a 2009 letter from DOJ/EDNY that includes more details about Felix Sater's cooperation w/DOJ, by @JasonLeopold @a_cormier_

Here's the 2009 DOJ letter about Sater, from link in article
Image ... -bin-laden ... letter.pdf

From 2009 EDNY letter

"From 2004 through 2008 Sater was central to the investigation and identification of key individuals in two separate international money laundering and access device fraud schemes, both of which originated in Russia"
Image ... letter.pdf ... 5882098689

These New Documents Confirm Trump Associate Felix Sater Helped Track Osama Bin Laden

Documents newly released by a federal judge confirm BuzzFeed News’ reporting that Felix Sater was a key US asset in major terror and Mafia cases.

Jason Leopold

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images
Documents newly released by a federal judge confirm BuzzFeed News’ reporting that Felix Sater was a key US asset in major terror and Mafia cases.

For years, Felix Sater — an associate of President Donald Trump’s who played a key role in the investigation into Russian election interference — told people that he was building “Trump Towers by day and hunting bin Laden by night” on covert missions around the world on behalf of the US government. The stories were so wild that many dismissed them as obvious fiction.

But a secret government document, released today by a federal judge, confirms that Sater acted for years as a secret asset of the US government and provided intelligence that “included, but was not limited to, (a) Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts following September 11, 2001; (b) the internal structuring and the financial capabilities of al-Qaeda; (c) the whereabouts of Taliban leader Mullah Omar; (d) ground reports on who was killed by United States air-strikes; (e) the details of an assassination plot against President Bush; and (f) information on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.”

Much of the government’s account about Sater’s remarkable double life was previously reported by BuzzFeed News in 2018.

The partially redacted government document, referred to as a 5K1 letter in legal parlance, said that Sater went undercover and was instrumental in weakening the Mafia’s presence on Wall Street. He also “played a crucial role” in helping the US government dismantle money laundering operations in Russia, Cyprus, Turkey, and elsewhere. And, the letter continued, “Sater also provided information about the identities of organized crime leaders in Russia and the roles they occupied in the organized crime hierarchy. He provided information about the American business interests of Russian oligarchs and the ties these individuals had to organized crime figures.”

Federal prosecutors wrote the 10-page letter in 2009 to help Sater get a lenient sentence after his conviction in a 1998 racketeering case. The letter was released on Friday afternoon by US District Court Judge I. Leo Glasser in response to a lawsuit by The Intercept.

“For approximately ten years, Sater continuously worked with prosecutors and law enforcement agents to provide information crucial to the conviction of over twenty different individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud, members of La Cosa Nostra organized crime families and international cyber-criminals,” wrote Todd Kaminsky, a former assistant US attorney. “Additionally, Sater provided the United States intelligence community with highly sensitive information in an effort to help the government combat terrorists and rogue states.”

His cooperation “was of a depth and breadth rarely seen,” Kaminsky wrote.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Sater said he is happy the government revealed the extent of his cooperation.

“Given the events of the last three years, I'm happy that people can now judge me for the bad that I've done and the good that I've done,” he said. “I just hope that 20 years of service to protect America adds a little to the plus column.”

The letter also details Sater’s crimes. It describes how, in his mid-twenties, Sater and three associates swindled investors out of $40 million and then “carefully laundered” it through offshore accounts with the help of organized crime figures.

In September 1998, eight months after the New York Police Department discovered documents in a storage locker that detailed the stock fraud as well as his role in it, Sater, who had been overseas, surrendered to the FBI. By that time, the letter said, he was already unofficially working for the US government and collecting intelligence from sources in Afghanistan.

“In an effort to build a reserve of good will for the imminent prosecution he was to face in America, Sater contacted United States intelligence officers overseas and offered to provide them with information concerning Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance,” the letter said. “During the spring and summer of 1998, Sater traveled to Central Asia where he gathered and passed on information to United States sources about the Northern Alliance’s desire to resell Stinger missiles to the United States government as well as information about the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, among other things. Sater contacted the FBI during this period and kept agents apprised of his activities overseas.”

Sater pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in 1998 and entered into a cooperation agreement with the US government that was signed by Andrew Weissmann, then an assistant US attorney who nearly two decades later would become a key member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution team.

In addition to the letter, Glasser also unsealed a redacted version of a13-page sentencing memorandum Sater’s then defense attorney, Leslie Caldwell, filed with the court arguing for leniency contains even more details about Sater’s work for the US government. She wrote that Sater provided the FBI with information on Bin Laden's location after the 9/11 attacks as well as “a list of Al Qaeda members, names and locations of people who handled security for Bin Laden, secret meetings that Bin Laden planned to attend, a list of Sudanese banks where Bin Laden held cash reserves, and the identity of companies that were controlled by Bin Laden in various parts of the world.”

Throughout her career, Caldwell at points worked with both Weissman, the prosecutor who approved Sater's cooperation deal, when both worked for the Department of Justice, and was also once appointed to a job at the US Attorney’s office in California by Robert Mueller when he was the US Attorney for the Northern District of California. Sater hired her in the mid 2000s when she was working in private practice.

The FBI declined to comment about Sater's work for the bureau.

Sater emerged in 2017 as a high-profile figure in Mueller’s Trump–Russia investigation after emails between him and Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen showing a years-long effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and to “get Donald elected” in the process were leaked and became public.

BuzzFeed News previously obtained documents that showed the negotiations between Sater and Cohen to try to break ground on a Trump Tower project in Moscow continued through at least June 2016, by which time Trump was already the Republican frontrunner, contradicting Cohen’s sworn congressional testimony that the discussions ended in January 2016, weeks before the start of the Iowa caucuses.

Sater was interviewed multiple times by Mueller’s team and a grand jury, and he testified three times before House and Senate intelligence committee investigators about the Trump Tower Moscow plans. He is mentioned by name more than 100 times in Mueller’s final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Trump's campaign.

After he was identified as a central figure in the Trump–Russia probe, reporters dug into Sater’s past. Many media outlets reported in general terms on the work he had done for the US government on high-stakes national security and terrorism cases, but his account was often treated with a measure of skepticism.

The government makes clear that Sater was not exaggerating about his extensive cooperation with US agencies, which began before his involvement in real estate development with the Trump Organization and continued, according to Sater and law enforcement sources, until at least late 2017.

The US attorneys said Sater worked with several high-ranking Russian military and former KGB officers to gather intelligence about Afghanistan and the Middle East and threats to the US. One of these military officers, BuzzFeed News reported last year, was also involved in Sater and Cohen’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The letter said Sater provided “specific, detailed information to the Central Intelligence Agency (‘CIA’), FBI and other agencies” in 1998, which included “what were believed to be bin Laden’s satellite telephone numbers and information about who was supplying arms to bin Laden.”

The letter said people in the intelligence community “with knowledge of the information Sater provided” told the US government it “was taken very seriously and was carefully analyzed.” However, some intelligence officials have publicly questioned the value of the information Sater provided. But a half dozen current and former intelligence sources who are familiar with Sater’s case and worked on the al-Qaeda threat before and after 9/11 told BuzzFeed News much of the intelligence he provided was “actionable.” One intelligence source said the information Sater shared about the terrorist organization was “very useful” to “ongoing US operations” in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11.

Sater continued to gather intelligence on al-Qaeda and bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, working with a precious stones dealer who had his own intelligence contacts inside the Taliban and Northern Alliance. The FBI purchased a satellite phone that Sater shipped to this person "so the two could remain in constant contact."

“Sater went above and beyond what is expected of most cooperators and placed himself in great jeopardy in so doing,” the letter said. “Throughout the near ten-year period that Sater cooperated with the government, he worked continuously with a number of agents who supervised his activities. Without exception, every one of these agents has told the government that Sater was an exemplary cooperator who worked diligently to further the aims of the missions to which he was assigned.”

At his sentencing in 2009, Judge Glasser told Sater: “For 11 years, I would suspect you had gone to bed every night or every other night sleeping a little restlessly and wondering what your sentence is going to be. So, in effect, there has been a sentence which already has been imposed.”

Sater did not serve any jail time. For the $40 million stock scheme, he was fined $25,000. ... -bin-laden

Everything you need to know about Felix Sater

Trump's banks won't tell court if they have his tax returns
Trump sues to stop release of his tax returns
New York (CNN) — Lawyers for Deutsche Bank and Capital One repeatedly refused Friday to tell an appellate court in New York whether the banks are in possession of President Donald Trump's tax returns, citing "contractual obligations" not to disclose the information and drawing the ire of a panel of judges.

The three-judge panel was so frustrated by the lawyers' refusal to answer that at one point one of the judges suggested the appellate court might seek an order for the information.

After several minutes of argument on the subject, the panel directed the lawyers to file letters under seal within 48 hours saying whether the banks have Trump's tax returns. But while the banks' lawyers indicated they would respond in writing, it wasn't clear that they agreed to provide that information.

The dispute came during oral arguments in Trump's appeal of a lower court ruling that rejected Trump's attempt to block Democratic lawmakers from accessing his financial records through subpoenas of those banks.

This story is breaking and will be updated. ... index.html

Whistleblower gives House Dems evidence of "inappropriate" conduct on Trump tax returns
House Democrats say a federal employee has given them evidence of "inappropriate efforts" on Trump tax audit

Igor Derysh
A federal employee turned over “credible” evidence to House Democrats of possible “inappropriate efforts to influence” the IRS presidential audit process, House lawyers said in a court filing Tuesday.

In July, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., sued Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin after the latter rejected the panel’s request for six years of Trump’s tax returns. On Tuesday, House lawyers cited the new evidence in a motion asking a federal judge to rule without trial that the Treasury Department is required by law to turn over the president’s tax returns.

The motion included a letter from Neal to Mnuchin revealing that the committee in July received an “unsolicited communication” from a federal employee “setting forth credible allegations of ‘evidence of possible misconduct’ — specifically, potential ‘inappropriate efforts to influence’ the mandatory audit program,” Politico reported.

In a response two weeks later, Mnuchin rejected Neal’s request for records related to the matter and urged him to take it up with the IRS inspector general.

House lawyers said in the motion Tuesday that the new evidence has heightened the need for the committee to receive Trump’s tax returns. The IRS is required to audit the president and vice president each year. Democrats argue that the new evidence requires them to see Trump’s tax returns to ensure the IRS audit process is legitimate.

“The Committee needs the requested information to evaluate the integrity of the IRS’s existing program for auditing Presidents’ tax returns — a need only heightened by the Committee’s receipt of whistleblower allegations about improper influence in that program,” the attorneys said.

Attorneys for Trump did not address the allegations but submitted their own filing asking the judge to delay any decision on the House motion, arguing that significant legal issues still needed to be worked out. The administration has argued the tax return request serves no legislative purpose.

"All told, it took the Committee 180 days to bring this suit (and still another 49 days after that before moving for summary judgment), with little to no explanation for its leisurely pace," the Trump attorneys said in their filing. "The Committee’s purported desire to consider legislation regarding the Presidential audit process does not require that the Court suddenly bring these proceedings to a gallop."

But the House filing said that the new evidence shows that “time is of the essence,” Reuters reported. Neal would not allude to what the evidence was but offered to provide it to the court.

Trump is also suing Neal and New York officials to keep his tax returns under wraps after state lawmakers passed a new law allowing Trump’s state tax returns to be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee. On Monday, Trump’s lawyers bizarrely requested that the case be moved from New York, where the law was passed, to Washington, D.C., The Hill reported.

“The District is where the [New York law] is aimed and where the President’s injury and virtually all of the relevant conduct will occur,” Trump’s lawyers said in a filing.

Attorneys for New York Attorney General Letitia James and tax official Michael Schmidt, who are named in the lawsuit, argued that the District of Columbia has no jurisdiction over state laws or tax returns.

The case has been put on hold while it is settled in the courts. Neal has said he would not use the New York law to get Trump’s tax returns out of concern that it would damage the committee’s federal case.

Trump and the Republican National Committee also filed another lawsuit this month challenging a new California law that requires all presidential candidates to submit their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement that there is an easier way for Trump to get rid of the tax return headaches than filing lawsuits around the country.

“There’s an easy fix for the President,” Newsom said. “He should release his tax returns as he promised during the campaign and follow the precedent of every president since 1973.” ... x-returns/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:16 pm

Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial have until Tuesday by 4 p.m. to tell the court if they are in possession of any of President Trump's tax returns. If they won't answer they need to explain in detail why. Here's today's court order

House Judiciary Committee subpoenas former White House aide Rob Porter
The former staff secretary's close proximity to President Donald Trump could be crucial to the Democrats' investigation of possible obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe.

Aug. 26, 2019, 11:53 AM CDT
WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena Monday to Rob Porter, a former White House aide whose close proximity to President Donald Trump is potentially of significant value to Democratic lawmakers amid growing calls for a formal impeachment inquiry.

Porter, who served as White House staff secretary for just over a year, is one of the administration officials cited most often in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the Russia investigation. He spent about 20 hours being interviewed by Mueller’s team, and the final report documents his role in episodes detailed as part of the obstruction of justice investigation.

The Mueller report, citing interviews with Porter, documents how the president directed Porter to order former White House counsel Don McGahn to write a letter disputing a New York Times story that he had ordered McGahn to terminate Mueller.

McGahn “shrugged off” the request, Porter recalled to the special counsel’s team, saying the Times report was true.

“As I’ve said before, any other American would have been prosecuted based on the evidence Special Counsel Mueller uncovered in his report," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement announcing the move. "Rob Porter was prominently featured in the Special Counsel’s description of President Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice by directing then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the Special Counsel, and then ordering him to lie about it."

Mueller’s report also cites notes taken by Porter of an October 2017 meeting between Trump and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions at which the president urged his top law enforcement official to reverse his recusal from involvement in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Porter subpoena is the eighth issued by the Democratic-led panel as part of its sprawling investigation of potential misconduct by the president. The committee is seeking documents and testimony from officials involved in the Mueller probe and the Porter subpoena was one of a dozen it voted to authorize last month.

Earlier this month the Judiciary Committee served subpoenas to Corey Lewandowski, the president’s former campaign manager, and Rick Dearborn, a former deputy White House chief of staff.

The subpoena seeks testimony from Porter before the committee Sept. 17, the same date it also summoned Lewandowski and Dearborn.

Longtime Trump loyalist Hope Hicks testified before the panel in May after being subpoenaed, though she refused on orders from the White House to answer questions related to her tenure as a senior White House official. The committee had reached an agreement to receive written testimony from Annie Donaldson, McGahn’s former chief of staff, after a May 21 subpoena.

The committee filed suit in late July in an effort to force McGahn to comply with a subpoena issued to him after the White House asserted executive privilege to block any cooperation.

Nadler has increasingly been describing his committee’s work as part of an impeachment investigation, though lawmakers have not formally voted to open one. Last week, he asked the chairmen of four other key committees to provide documents relevant to its work. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, though, has continued to hold off the growing impeachment push in her caucus, telling members in a conference call last week that “the public isn’t there.”

Porter resigned his White House post in February 2018 after a British newspaper reported allegations from two ex-wives of physical and verbal abuse. ... r-n1046436
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Aug 27, 2019 5:17 pm

House Democrats just have to get the courts to order Deutsche to turn them over.
Susanne Craig

Deutsche Bank has all but confirmed the bank is in possession of tax returns for President Trump and some of his immediate family. Names are redacted in the letter the bank just filed in response to Monday's court order, but it's clear who they are referring to.
Image ... 9818492931

Lawrence O'Donnell

A source close to Deutsche Bank says Trump’s tax returns show he pays very little income tax and, more importantly, that his loans have Russian co-signers.

If true, that explains every kind word Trump has ever said about Russia and Putin.

Oops. :)

Lincoln's Bible

4/ I'd like to call @realDonaldTrump what he is.
He is their PROPERTY.
Russia OWNS him, like they own a ground beneath the Kremlin.
The President of the United States is the PROPERTY of a hostile foreign power.
He is not ours.
He is theirs.
7:46 AM - 27 Jul 2018

If you were a known brand with 100s of millions in debt, all your properties leveraged (if you even still owned them), and needed a huge bailout - what would your collateral be? ... 4458145792

what would your collateral be?

What Supreme Court judge resigned?
What Supreme Court judge’s son worked for Deutsche Bank?

and. trump tweets about bedbugs :P

Deutsche Bank Tells Court It Has Some Tax Returns Related to Trump Inquiry
Aug. 27, 2019

In a letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Deutsche Bank wrote that it “has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form)" related to an inquiry into President Trump.Jeenah Moon for The New York Times
Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court on Tuesday that it was in possession of some tax returns sought by congressional subpoenas issued earlier this year to President Trump, his family and his businesses.

In a letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the German lender wrote that it “has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form).”

Although the identities of the people or organizations were redacted in the publicly available document, current and former bank officials have said Deutsche Bank has portions of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns for multiple years as part of the reams of financial data it has collected over its two-decade relationship with him.
The bank’s lawyers also said Deutsche Bank “has such documents related to parties not named in the subpoenas but who may constitute ‘immediate family’ within the definition provided in the subpoenas.”

The letter — a full unredacted version was submitted under seal — was in response to a question posed last week to lawyers for Deutsche Bank and Capital One, the two financial institutions that were issued subpoenas by House committees in April. Capital One also responded on Tuesday, saying it “does not possess any tax returns responsive to the Capital One subpoena.”
Mr. Trump’s tax returns have been a matter of intense curiosity since he declined to release them during the 2016 campaign, breaking with decades of candidate tradition. But a lawyer for the congressional committees said at last week’s hearing there was good reason to seek the documents.

The financial services committee, as part of an examination of money laundering in real estate, is looking at Mr. Trump’s finances to determine whether he helped Russians and other foreign buyers launder money through his properties, said the committees’ lawyer, Douglas Letter. He said the intelligence committee was trying to determine whether Mr. Trump’s financial dealings made him subject to foreign influence.

Deutsche Bank has long been Mr. Trump’s primary lender. For most years, it has only the first several pages of his tax returns, according to the current and former bank officials, but the bank possesses far more detailed financial data. That includes balance sheets, financial statements and documents detailing the organization of Mr. Trump’s web of businesses, the people said.
Congressional investigators believe those documents could be more helpful than the tax returns to understanding Mr. Trump’s web of businesses and sources of his money.

Deutsche Bank gathered most of the financial information starting in 2011. That year, the private-banking division of the company, which caters to the ultra-wealthy, struck up a relationship with Mr. Trump and his family. Other units of the bank were opposed to that relationship, because Mr. Trump had defaulted on his debts to the bank. At the time, the bank’s files on Mr. Trump, which included portions of his tax returns and other materials, were shared widely among senior executives and bank lawyers as they weighed whether to do business with him.

Deutsche Bank ultimately decided to greenlight the relationship, and over the next five years the private-banking division lent Mr. Trump and his companies about $350 million.

The subpoenas requested documents related to Mr. Trump’s businesses, his in-laws, his children and even his grandchildren from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, where he has also kept some of his money. Mr. Trump, his company and his three eldest children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — filed a lawsuit to block the banks from complying, but a federal judge denied the family’s request in May.
On Friday, a three-judge appeals court panel heard arguments from lawyers for Mr. Trump and the two Democrat-controlled committees that issued the subpoenas, the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.

During the hearing, the panel asked whether the banks had Mr. Trump’s tax returns, and the lawyers said they would provide more information to the court via letter.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have said the subpoenas were overly broad and served no legitimate legislative purpose, arguments that were repeated at the hearing last week.

“I don’t think this type of subpoena supports a legislative inquiry,” Patrick Strawbridge, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said during arguments. “The only reason they have focused on these particular plaintiffs is because they want to investigate these plaintiffs.”

Mr. Letter told the panel that the request for a wide range of documents was necessary. “We are doing an extremely broad investigation,” he said. “Obviously if you’re laundering Russian money, moving it to the United States, you need to see how it’s handled domestically.”

The appeals panel did not indicate when it would issue its ruling.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby Belligerent Savant » Wed Aug 28, 2019 6:20 pm

seemslikeadream » Tue Aug 27, 2019 4:17 pm wrote:
Lawrence O'Donnell

A source close to Deutsche Bank says Trump’s tax returns show he pays very little income tax and, more importantly, that his loans have Russian co-signers.

If true, that explains every kind word Trump has ever said about Russia and Putin.

Oops. :)

Lincoln's Bible

4/ I'd like to call @realDonaldTrump what he is.
He is their PROPERTY.
Russia OWNS him, like they own a ground beneath the Kremlin.
The President of the United States is the PROPERTY of a hostile foreign power.
He is not ours.
He is theirs.
7:46 AM - 27 Jul 2018

Whoa there, Sheriff. Hold your horses.

O'Donnell has backed away dramatically from his story.

"Last night I made an error in judgment by reporting an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process," O'Donnell tweeted.

"I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air. I will address the issue on my show tonight."

— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) August 28, 2019 ... wsrc%5Etfw

It seems there remain a sizable segment of the populace that have yet to learn from recent premature verbal/written ejaculations, so eager to turn their fiction into truth they RUSH to blurt out a 'news item', only to be disappointed, yet again, and made easy targets, yet again, to the [equally delusional] Twitterati on the other side of the illusory aisle.

It would be tragic if not so predictable.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:16 pm


Mariela Sanchez, a native of Honduras who recently applied for the special exemption, said a denial would amount to a death sentence for her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis.
In Boston alone, the decision could affect about 20 families with children fighting cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy and other serious conditions,

U.S. Ends Protection for Migrants Receiving Medical Care
(BOSTON) — The Trump administration has eliminated a protection that lets immigrants remain in the country and avoid deportation while they or their relatives receive life-saving medical treatments or endure other hardships, immigration officials said in letters issued to families this month.

Critics denounced the decision as a cruel change that could force desperate migrants to accept lesser treatment in their poverty-stricken homelands.

Mariela Sanchez, a native of Honduras who recently applied for the special exemption, said a denial would amount to a death sentence for her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. They are among many families who settled in Boston to seek care at some of the nation’s top hospitals.

Sanchez, who arrived in the U.S. with her family in 2016, said she lost a daughter to the same disease years ago after doctors in her home country failed to diagnose it.

The disease, which is hereditary, affects the lungs and digestive system and has no cure.

“He would be dead,” if the family had remained in Honduras, she said of her son. “I have panic attacks over this every day.”

In Boston alone, the decision could affect about 20 families with children fighting cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy and other serious conditions, said Anthony Marino, head of immigration legal services at the Irish International Immigrant Center, which represents the families.

Advocates say similar letters from Citizenship and Immigration Services have been issued to immigrants in California, North Carolina and elsewhere.

“Can anyone imagine the government ordering you to disconnect your child from life-saving care — to pull them from a hospital bed — knowing that it will cost them their lives?” Marino said.

“This is a new low,” Democratic Sen. Ed Markey said. “Donald Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer.”

A Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman said the policy change was effective Aug. 7.

It affects all pending requests, including from those seeking a renewal of the two-year authorization and those applying for the first time. The only exception is for military members and their families.

The special status is similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that then-President Barack Obama created in 2012 to shield immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation — another policy the administration has been trying to dismantle.

The agency estimates it receives about 1,000 deferred action requests per year that are related neither to the military nor to DACA. Most of them cite medical or financial hardships, the agency said.

Going forward, applicants will be able to seek deportation deferrals from a different agency, Immigration Customs and Enforcement, according to the spokeswoman.

Letters sent to Boston-area families last week and reviewed by The Associated Press, however, do not mention that option. They simply order applicants to leave the country within 33 days or face deportation, which can hurt future visa or immigration requests.

The elimination of the special status for medical care is one of several aggressive steps the Trump administration has taken in recent weeks to crack down on immigrants.

The administration also wants to deny green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other public assistance, and to end a long-running agreement limiting how long migrant children can be kept in detention. President Donald Trump floated the idea of ending the right to citizenship for babies born to foreigners on American soil, and the administration wants to effectively ban asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Without the discretionary deferrals, immigrant families facing serious health issues have few other options for relief, medical experts in Boston argued Monday.

The deferrals, they added, do not provide families a pathway to citizenship, though they can qualify for government-funded health benefits and receive legal permission to work while their children receive medical treatment.

“They’re not coming for a free ride. They’re coming to save their children,” said Joe Chabot, a director at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “It’s bewildering.” ... ical-care/

David Corn
While we’re on the subject, can you explain why you lied in 12/2015 & said you barely knew Felix Sater—when he was at that time working with you on the secret Moscow tower project as you were running for president? Why did you hide this big Russia deal from the voters?


Area man who made his career by obtaining and leaking highly classified information outraged about the civil liberties implications of man leaking unclassified information about [checks notes] the President of the United States.

Keeping this one.

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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:25 pm

Robert Young Pelton

Something is rustling in the Deutsche Bank/Russian oligarch/money laundering/2008 Trump loans story. The media keeps forgetting that Steve Feinberg is inside Deutsche...and our intel apparatus as Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

When Donald Trump Needs a Loan, He Chooses Deutsche Bank
Despite some clashes, the Republican front-runner has been a regular client of the German lender
Updated March 20, 2016 1:35 p.m. ET

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Photo: josh edelson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

One of Donald Trump’s closest allies on Wall Street is a now-struggling German bank.

While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG DB -1.41% has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter.
That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities.

The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman.
But the relations at times have been rocky. Deutsche Bank’s giant investment-banking unit stopped working with Mr. Trump after an acrimonious legal spat, even as another arm of the company continued to loan him money.

Other Wall Street banks, after doing extensive business with Mr. Trump in the 1980s and 1990s, pulled back in part due to frustration with his business practices but also because he moved away from real-estate projects that required financing, according to bank officials. Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are among the banks that don’t currently work with him.
At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., bankers “know better than to pitch” a Trump-related deal, said a former Goldman executive. Goldman officials say there is little overlap between its core investment-banking group and Mr. Trump’s businesses.

The lukewarm relations with banks is one reason Mr. Trump’s White House bid hasn’t received much financial support from Wall Street, bankers and fund managers say. The securities and investment industry, which includes Wall Street firms, has donated roughly $19 million toward the campaign of Hillary Clinton, so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Trump, who is largely self-funded, has received $17,255.

Ivanka Trump, who works with her father at the Trump Organization LLC, which holds the family’s real-estate and other business interests, denied that Wall Street banks are wary of doing business with the family.

“The biggest banking institutions are constantly soliciting us,” Ms. Trump said in an interview. “But we don’t need a lot of financing because we have a great balance sheet and a tremendous amount of cash.”

Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump dates to the 1990s. The bank, eager to expand in the U.S. via commercial-real-estate lending, set out to woo big New York developers such as Mr. Trump and Harry Macklowe.

One of the bank’s first loans to Mr. Trump, in 1998, was $125 million to renovate the office building at 40 Wall Street. More deals soon followed, with the bank agreeing over the next few years to loan or help underwrite bonds worth a total of more than $1.3 billion for Trump entities.

By 2005, Deutsche Bank had emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s leading bankers. That year, the German bank and others lent a Trump entity $640 million to build the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Deutsche Bank officials badly wanted the deal because it came with a $12.5 million fee attached, said a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump charmed the bankers, flying them on his private Boeing 727 jet, according to people who traveled with him.

But when the housing bubble burst, the relationship frayed.

In 2008, Mr. Trump failed to pay $334 million he owed on the Chicago loan because of lackluster sales of the building’s units. He then sued Deutsche Bank. His argument was that the economic crisis constituted a “force majeure”—an unforeseen event such as war or natural disaster—that should excuse the repayment until conditions improved.

His lawyers were inspired to invoke the clause after hearing former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan describe the crisis as a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami,” according to a person who worked on the case for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump also attacked Deutsche Bank’s lending practices and said that as a big bank, it was partially responsible for causing the financial crisis. He sought $3 billion in damages.

Deutsche Bank in turn sued Mr. Trump, saying it was owed $40 million that the businessman had personally guaranteed in case his company was unable to repay the loan.

Deutsche Bank argued that Mr. Trump had a cavalier history toward banks, quoting from his 2007 book, “Think Big And Kick Ass In Business And Life.”

“I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mine,” Mr. Trump wrote, according to the lawsuit. “What the hell did I care? I actually told one bank, ‘I told you you shouldn’t have loaned me that money. I told you that goddamn deal was no good.’”

The court rejected Mr. Trump’s arguments but the suit forced Deutsche Bank to the negotiating table. The two sides agreed to settle their suits out of court in 2009. The following year, they extended the original loan by five years. It was paid off in 2012—with the help of a loan from the German firm’s private bank.

While Deutsche Bank didn’t lose money on the deal, the fracas soured its investment bankers on working with Mr. Trump. “He was persona non grata after that,” said a banker who worked on the deal.

But not everyone within Deutsche Bank wanted to sever the relationship. The company’s private-banking arm, which caters to ultrarich families and individuals, picked up the slack, lending well over $300 million to Trump entities in the following years.

One of those loans, for $125 million, was to finance the purchase of Miami’s Doral Golf Resort and Spa in 2011, which he re-christened Trump National Doral.

Mr. Trump has promised to hold a celebration there if he is elected president.

And Feinberg has a nice little secret squirrel training camp and makes the guns that mass shooters choose. Some weirdness here:

Stephen Feinberg, the Private Military Contractor Who Has Trump’s Ear
Stephen Witt
In the last week of the 2016 Presidential campaign, Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire Manhattan financier, made the largest political donation of his life. On November 3rd, just five days before the election, he gave nearly a million dollars to Rebuild America Now, the Trump-supporting super PAC known for its blistering attacks on Hillary Clinton. That Sunday, the PAC spent eight hundred thousand dollars on an eleventh-hour blitz of negative TV spots, including one that aired repeatedly during N.F.L. broadcasts, condemning Clinton’s support for changing the name of the Washington Redskins. “Yeah, you thought you were safe, sitting in your recliner in your man cave, cold beer and a bowl of chips,” the ad said. “Wrong. Hillary Clinton wants to mess up your football, too.” Two days later, Trump won the Presidency.

Feinberg is lean, with a runner’s physique and a mild New York accent. His manner is equanimous, and his focus on the task at hand is intense. All who have worked with him speak of his penetrating analytic intelligence, his surpassing desire for privacy, and his steady hand as an investor. To the financial press, he is known as the C.E.O. of Cerberus Capital Management, one of the country’s largest investment firms, with business lines in private equity, distressed debt, hedge funds, and real estate. His holdings have included the once struggling G.M. automotive-financing division, the controversial defense contractor DynCorp, and the Bushmaster assault-rifle brand. For Feinberg, the Trump campaign was a classic investment target: compromised, flailing, politically toxic—but ultimately successful.

This February, it was reported that Feinberg was being considered for a post in the Trump Administration, overseeing a shakeup of the United States intelligence community. Career spies were alarmed at the suggestion; Feinberg has no intelligence experience, and his history at Cerberus suggested the likelihood of a radical restructuring, starting with management. This skepticism of his suitability for the role was shared by a former Cerberus insider with whom I spoke. “He’s a phenomenal manager of an investment fund, but his brilliance is in his trading,” he said. “I don’t think he’d succeed in the bureaucratic environment of Washington.” (Through a spokesperson, Feinberg declined to comment.)

The Trump Administration did not go forward with the appointment, but the rumors have persisted. And, this week, the Times reported that Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner had reached out to Feinberg—as well as to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater—for private-sector alternatives to the Department of Defense’s plan to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Through DynCorp, Feinberg already controls one of the largest military contractors in the U.S., one which trains Afghanistan’s police force and assists in their narcotics-trafficking countermeasures. According to the Times, Feinberg proposed an expanded role for such contractors, and also recommended transferring the command of paramilitary operations in the country to the C.I.A., increasing their operating footprint while decreasing both transparency and accountability. He reportedly discussed Afghanistan with President Trump in person.

The proposals raise obvious questions about war profiteering and conflicts of interest. DynCorp has been a bad investment for Feinberg. Buying at the tail end of the military-contracting boom of the two-thousands, Cerberus overpaid for the company, then watched as much of its business evaporated following government-spending cuts and the drawdown of U.S. troops in in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the seven years since Cerberus acquired the company, Feinberg has replaced DynCorp’s C.E.O. four times.

Afghanistan, in particular, has been a problem. In recent years, the country has proved no more hospitable to for-profit military contractors than it has to stumbling empires. DynCorp’s profit margins are thin there; revenues are falling, according to the former Cerberus insider. Several high-level managers from Cerberus portfolio companies have defected to Pacific Architects & Engineers, an upstart competitor that is taking DynCorp’s business. And DynCorp workers are often in peril. Since Cerberus acquired the company, twenty-nine DynCorp employees have been killed on the job. Most of them died in Afghanistan, including a retired U.S. Army colonel whose convoy was hit by a bomb.

A suggestion from Feinberg to expand the role of military contractors would be naked in its self-interest, but his other recommendation—transferring paramilitary operations in Afghanistan to the C.I.A.—deserves equal scrutiny. Here, Feinberg is operating from the heart. Although his personal military experience is limited to a brief stint in the Princeton R.O.T.C., he has, through his investments, developed an unusually close relationship with the U.S. Special Forces community. Of particular interest is Tier 1 Group, a Cerberus-owned private military base outside Memphis, which has, since 2008, served as a training ground for Navy SEALs and Marine Special Operations. Tier 1 Group’s facilities include a long-distance-shooting range, an ersatz Afghan village for staging commando raids, and an outdoor road course for tactical-driving training. Through his control of the facility, Feinberg has even been provided with after-action reports from Special Operations missions, according to Steve Reichert, the founder of Tier 1, who spoke to me for a story I wrote for New York magazine. (Feinberg has also received training from military instructors, and is said to be a crack shot.)

Whatever their merit, Feinberg’s recommendations to the Trump camp were pushed aside, according to the Times, by Defense Secretary James Mattis, a career military man. But given Trump’s openness to outside counsel—and, in particular, his interest in the ideas of other billionaires—it’s possible that Feinberg’s ideas could resurface. Conflicts of interest notwithstanding, Trump could do worse in selecting an adviser. Indeed, he has done worse: Feinberg’s formidable intellect and concrete managerial experience are more valuable assets than Jared Kushner’s prep-school-and-real-estate background or Steve Bannon’s theories of pseudo-history. For now, Feinberg remains a peripheral figure in the Trump Administration, but sooner or later, one suspects, he’ll see a return on his investment. ... trumps-ear

A great chart by @WendySiegelman on the loans from Deutsche Bank and an unusual company, Ladder Capital Finance with 31% growth. Don't overlook that little foot note about the Israeli "King of Diamonds" Lev Leviev. ... 8d97d2e2dc

Trump’s Two Largest Creditors — Ladder Capital Finance & Deutsche Bank
Wendy Siegelman
The mainstream media has reported on Deutsche Bank, but has barely covered Ladder Capital Finance, so below is a chart and article with some key highlights on the company that holds a substantial amount of Trump debt.

Ladder Capital, Deutsche Bank, Trump & Kushner

While the media has frequently covered Deutsche Bank, there has been very little coverage of Ladder Capital Finance, despite its importance as one of the largest creditors of the U.S. president. A June 2017 article had a very brief overview of the ‘obscure’ company financing the president, while Crain’s provided insight on how “Trump’s relationship with Ladder underscores the growth in the city’s shadow-banking industry. The term refers to a wide array of financial institutions that make loans and perform other bank-like activities but aren’t regulated as such.” Unlike a typical bank, Ladder Capital is a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that has a niche “writing riskier commercial mortgages than banks are typically comfortable with.”

A review of property records in NYC’s online document database ACRIS shows that loan agreements from Ladder Capital Finance for four Trump properties total $282 million (see links to source documents below). Two GAP mortgages for over $80 million were also recorded, but the ACRIS filings do not show if or when mortgages and loans have been paid. The data in Trump’s June 2017 financial disclosure (below) is vague, and shows Ladder debt ranging from $110 million to over $150 million. It is clear, however, that Ladder Capital Finance holds significant financial leverage related to money owed on four Trump real-estate holdings, including the well-known Fifth Avenue Trump Tower property.

Ladder Capital Finance launched in 2008 with CEO Brian Harris, President Greta Guggenheim, and Chairman of the Board Alan Fishman. TowerBrook Capital Partners, GI Partners, and Meridian Capital Group were founding investors. In 2009 Ladder Capital and Sovereign Bank spun off an underwriting group Beech Street Capital, which was sold in 2013 to Capital One. Ladder started doing business with Trump in 2012 when it provided a $73 million GAP mortgage and $100 million loan on Trump Tower.

In August 2015 co-founder Greta Guggenheim left Ladder to run TPG Capital’s new Real Estate Investment Trust unit. TPG launched its real estate finance subsidiary after it acquired $2.5 billion in high-yield real estate debt from Deutsche Bank. TPG Chairman and co-founder David Bonderman was covered in the news recently when he resigned from the Uber board after making sexist remarks. And Bonderman, along with Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, was an original advisor to the government-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund.

There is no evident business connection directly between TPG and Ladder Capital, but it’s interesting to note how Greta Guggenheim’s career has connected to both of Trump’s largest creditors, Ladder and Deutsche. On her LinkedIn profile Guggenheim is listed as President of Ladder Capital from 2008 until 2015, and on the Ladder Capital website, Michael Mezzei is listed as President from 2012 until he retired in June 2017, when he joined the board, and Pamela McCormack became President.

In December 2016, Reuters reported that Ladder was working with Citibank to explore a possible sale of the firm, and there was some speculation about the potential conflict of interest presented if a foreign government became a new part-owner of Trump’s debt.

A sale was not announced but in February 2017 real-estate development firm Related Companies purchased $80 million of stock in Ladder Capital and gained a seat on Ladder’s board. Related Group Chairman Jorge Pérez has been a long-time friend and a former business partner of Donald Trump. However, in early 2017 at the same time Related Group became a significant stakeholder in Ladder, Pérez came out vocally in interviews denouncing the idea of building a border wall with Mexico, calling it “the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life.” The media coverage of Pérez’s anti-wall statements did not include any mention about the major role Related Group was taking as part-owner of Trump’s debt.

More recently, a Miami Herald article announced that the Related Group, the largest real estate developer in Southern Florida, is part of an affordable housing probe by the U.S. Attorneys office into fraud and abuse of federal tax credits. While there is no indication what involvement, if any, Pérez has in making decisions about the terms of the $280 million plus in loans made to Trump, it’s important to be aware of potential conflicts that could arise related to the Federal government probe of Related.

Long-time partner of Pérez, Stephen Ross who is chairman and founder of the Related Companies, also has a connection to Donald Trump through Deutsche Bank, where both have been clients of Rosemary Vrablic, a senior banker in Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management business.

Trump’s working relationship with Vrablic started in the mid 2000’s, when Deutsche Bank and other investors, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s former hedge fund, Dune Capital Management, financed a $640 million loan to build Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. In 2008 a payment of $40 million, personally guaranteed by Trump, was due. Trump sued Deutsche Bank, Dune, and other lenders to extend the loan terms. In response Deutsche Bank sued Trump back, and ultimately the parties settled.

Trump received a loan from Deutsche Bank’s wealth management unit to pay off the $40 million debt and that loan was facilitated by Rosemary Vrablic. Trump moved his business from the commercial real estate lending division to the private wealth division where he did deals to finance Trump National Doral Miami and the Trump Old Post Office in Washington D.C.

In addition to Trump and Related Companies’ Stephen Ross, Rosemary Vrablic has also worked with Jared Kushner. A month prior to the 2016 election, Kushner received $285 million from Deutsche Bank, to refinance a loan used to purchase part of the former New York Times building from Africa Israel Investments (AFI), a company owned by Lev Leviev, which has been involved in the Prevezon money laundering case.

Kushner also has a connection with Ladder through founding investor Meridian Capital, which counts Kushner Companies as one of its largest customers. In 2012 Meridian arranged a $371 million loan, provided by Ladder Capital spin off Beech Street Capital, to Kushner Companies to fund their stake in several Maryland apartment buildings. Kushner Companies affiliate Westminster Management, which manages the Maryland units, is now involved in a tenant lawsuit alleging the firm charged improper fees and threatened eviction to force payment.

The various overlapping connections among these companies and developers is likely representative of common intersections in the finance and real-estate world. However, given the significant leverage Ladder Capital and Deutsche Bank have as holders of hundreds of millions of dollars of Trump debt, it’s important to bring these business connections and potential conflicts of interest to light.
Below is source information for financial data used in the chart above.

Ladder Capital Finance Loans

The loan amounts from Ladder Capital Finance to Trump, displayed in the chart above, are based on the most recent financial records filed in the NYC ACRIS database:

40 Wall Street — 7/2/15 loan agreement for $160,000,000
Trump Tower Commercial LLC (721–725 Fifth Avenue) — 8/30/12 loan agreement for $100,000,000 (note: 8/30/12 GAP mortgage for $73,265,168.90 is not included in $282 million total Ladder estimate).
Trump Plaza LLC (163–169 East 61st Street, 160–162 East 62nd Street, 165 East 61st Street) — 6/30/14 loan agreement for $15,000,000 (note: 6/30/14 GAP mortgage for $7,057,593.54 is not included in $282 million total Ladder estimate).
Trump International Hotel & Tower — TIHT Commercial LLC (1 Central Park West) — 7/11/16 loan agreement for $7,000,000
Deutsche Bank Loans

Deutsche Bank Loan amounts to Trump are based on the following sources:

Trump National Doral Hotel Miami FL ( Trump Endeavor 12 LLC) — $125 million mortgage 2015 (March 2017 Bloomberg article)
Trump Old Post Office (Washington D.C.) — $170 million loan (March 2017 Bloomberg article)
Trump International Hotel Chicago — unknown loan balance, estimated as $25 million (the lower end of $25-$50 million range in OGE form). Note: an additional loan of $50 million on this property from Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC is not included in the chart.
Trump Financial Disclosure Form

Below is the loan information for Ladder Capital and Deutsche Bank from Trump’s financial disclosureOGE Form 278e dated June 14, 2017:

Ladder Capital Finance — LADR Nasdaq information

Ladder Capital Finance (LADR) Ownership Summary — Top institutional holders (as of Dec 1, 2017)

Ladder Capital Finance — Additional Info:

(updated December 8, 2017)

Ladder Capital Executive Director on the originations team, Jack Weisselberg is the son of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

The Trump property at 40 Wall Street re-assigned the $160,000,000 mortgage from Ladder Capital to Wilmington Trust, National Association, as Trustee for the registered holders of Wells Fargo Commercial Mortgage Trust.

October 18, 2015 Assignment of Mortgage for 40 Wall Street ACRIS filing

Weisselberg and Wells Fargo information heard through twitter in thread below:

Click here to see additional charts: SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Parscale, Trump Soho & Drake Hotel, Rosneft.
Page 2 of 2
The mainstream media has reported on Deutsche Bank, but has barely covered Ladder Capital Finance, so below is a chart and article with some key highlights on the company that holds a substantial amount of Trump debt.

Ladder Capital, Deutsche Bank, Trump & Kushner

While the media has frequently covered Deutsche Bank, there has been very little coverage of Ladder Capital Finance, despite its importance as one of the largest creditors of the U.S. president. A June 2017 article had a very brief overview of the ‘obscure’ company financing the president, while Crain’s provided insight on how “Trump’s relationship with Ladder underscores the growth in the city’s shadow-banking industry. The term refers to a wide array of financial institutions that make loans and perform other bank-like activities but aren’t regulated as such.” Unlike a typical bank, Ladder Capital is a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that has a niche “writing riskier commercial mortgages than banks are typically comfortable with.”

A review of property records in NYC’s online document database ACRIS shows that loan agreements from Ladder Capital Finance for four Trump properties total $282 million (see links to source documents below). Two GAP mortgages for over $80 million were also recorded, but the ACRIS filings do not show if or when mortgages and loans have been paid. The data in Trump’s June 2017 financial disclosure (below) is vague, and shows Ladder debt ranging from $110 million to over $150 million. It is clear, however, that Ladder Capital Finance holds significant financial leverage related to money owed on four Trump real-estate holdings, including the well-known Fifth Avenue Trump Tower property.

Ladder Capital Finance launched in 2008 with CEO Brian Harris, President Greta Guggenheim, and Chairman of the Board Alan Fishman. TowerBrook Capital Partners, GI Partners, and Meridian Capital Group were founding investors. In 2009 Ladder Capital and Sovereign Bank spun off an underwriting group Beech Street Capital, which was sold in 2013 to Capital One. Ladder started doing business with Trump in 2012 when it provided a $73 million GAP mortgage and $100 million loan on Trump Tower.

In August 2015 co-founder Greta Guggenheim left Ladder to run TPG Capital’s new Real Estate Investment Trust unit. TPG launched its real estate finance subsidiary after it acquired $2.5 billion in high-yield real estate debt from Deutsche Bank. TPG Chairman and co-founder David Bonderman was covered in the news recently when he resigned from the Uber board after making sexist remarks. And Bonderman, along with Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, was an original advisor to the government-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund.

There is no evident business connection directly between TPG and Ladder Capital, but it’s interesting to note how Greta Guggenheim’s career has connected to both of Trump’s largest creditors, Ladder and Deutsche. On her LinkedIn profile Guggenheim is listed as President of Ladder Capital from 2008 until 2015, and on the Ladder Capital website, Michael Mezzei is listed as President from 2012 until he retired in June 2017, when he joined the board, and Pamela McCormack became President.

In December 2016, Reuters reported that Ladder was working with Citibank to explore a possible sale of the firm, and there was some speculation about the potential conflict of interest presented if a foreign government became a new part-owner of Trump’s debt.

A sale was not announced but in February 2017 real-estate development firm Related Companies purchased $80 million of stock in Ladder Capital and gained a seat on Ladder’s board. Related Group Chairman Jorge Pérez has been a long-time friend and a former business partner of Donald Trump. However, in early 2017 at the same time Related Group became a significant stakeholder in Ladder, Pérez came out vocally in interviews denouncing the idea of building a border wall with Mexico, calling it “the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen or heard in my life.” The media coverage of Pérez’s anti-wall statements did not include any mention about the major role Related Group was taking as part-owner of Trump’s debt.

More recently, a Miami Herald article announced that the Related Group, the largest real estate developer in Southern Florida, is part of an affordable housing probe by the U.S. Attorneys office into fraud and abuse of federal tax credits. While there is no indication what involvement, if any, Pérez has in making decisions about the terms of the $280 million plus in loans made to Trump, it’s important to be aware of potential conflicts that could arise related to the Federal government probe of Related.

Long-time partner of Pérez, Stephen Ross who is chairman and founder of the Related Companies, also has a connection to Donald Trump through Deutsche Bank, where both have been clients of Rosemary Vrablic, a senior banker in Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management business.

Trump’s working relationship with Vrablic started in the mid 2000’s, when Deutsche Bank and other investors, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s former hedge fund, Dune Capital Management, financed a $640 million loan to build Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. In 2008 a payment of $40 million, personally guaranteed by Trump, was due. Trump sued Deutsche Bank, Dune, and other lenders to extend the loan terms. In response Deutsche Bank sued Trump back, and ultimately the parties settled.

Trump received a loan from Deutsche Bank’s wealth management unit to pay off the $40 million debt and that loan was facilitated by Rosemary Vrablic. Trump moved his business from the commercial real estate lending division to the private wealth division where he did deals to finance Trump National Doral Miami and the Trump Old Post Office in Washington D.C.

In addition to Trump and Related Companies’ Stephen Ross, Rosemary Vrablic has also worked with Jared Kushner. A month prior to the 2016 election, Kushner received $285 million from Deutsche Bank, to refinance a loan used to purchase part of the former New York Times building from Africa Israel Investments (AFI), a company owned by Lev Leviev, which has been involved in the Prevezon money laundering case.

Kushner also has a connection with Ladder through founding investor Meridian Capital, which counts Kushner Companies as one of its largest customers. In 2012 Meridian arranged a $371 million loan, provided by Ladder Capital spin off Beech Street Capital, to Kushner Companies to fund their stake in several Maryland apartment buildings. Kushner Companies affiliate Westminster Management, which manages the Maryland units, is now involved in a tenant lawsuit alleging the firm charged improper fees and threatened eviction to force payment.

The various overlapping connections among these companies and developers is likely representative of common intersections in the finance and real-estate world. However, given the significant leverage Ladder Capital and Deutsche Bank have as holders of hundreds of millions of dollars of Trump debt, it’s important to bring these business connections and potential conflicts of interest to light.
Below is source information for financial data used in the chart above.

Ladder Capital Finance Loans

The loan amounts from Ladder Capital Finance to Trump, displayed in the chart above, are based on the most recent financial records filed in the NYC ACRIS database:

40 Wall Street — 7/2/15 loan agreement for $160,000,000
Trump Tower Commercial LLC (721–725 Fifth Avenue) — 8/30/12 loan agreement for $100,000,000 (note: 8/30/12 GAP mortgage for $73,265,168.90 is not included in $282 million total Ladder estimate).
Trump Plaza LLC (163–169 East 61st Street, 160–162 East 62nd Street, 165 East 61st Street) — 6/30/14 loan agreement for $15,000,000 (note: 6/30/14 GAP mortgage for $7,057,593.54 is not included in $282 million total Ladder estimate).
Trump International Hotel & Tower — TIHT Commercial LLC (1 Central Park West) — 7/11/16 loan agreement for $7,000,000
Deutsche Bank Loans

Deutsche Bank Loan amounts to Trump are based on the following sources:

Trump National Doral Hotel Miami FL ( Trump Endeavor 12 LLC) — $125 million mortgage 2015 (March 2017 Bloomberg article)
Trump Old Post Office (Washington D.C.) — $170 million loan (March 2017 Bloomberg article)
Trump International Hotel Chicago — unknown loan balance, estimated as $25 million (the lower end of $25-$50 million range in OGE form). Note: an additional loan of $50 million on this property from Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC is not included in the chart.
Trump Financial Disclosure Form

Below is the loan information for Ladder Capital and Deutsche Bank from Trump’s financial disclosureOGE Form 278e dated June 14, 2017:
Ladder Capital Finance — LADR Nasdaq information

Ladder Capital Finance (LADR) Ownership Summary — Top institutional holders (as of Dec 1, 2017)

Ladder Capital Finance — Additional Info:

(updated December 8, 2017)

Ladder Capital Executive Director on the originations team, Jack Weisselberg is the son of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

The Trump property at 40 Wall Street re-assigned the $160,000,000 mortgage from Ladder Capital to Wilmington Trust, National Association, as Trustee for the registered holders of Wells Fargo Commercial Mortgage Trust.

October 18, 2015 Assignment of Mortgage for 40 Wall Street ACRIS filing

Weisselberg and Wells Fargo information heard through twitter in thread below: ... 8d97d2e2dc

Lev Leviev has his own world of troubles in money laundering via diamonds and . As do many of the Russian Israeli oligarchs and associates who hovered around Trump and the election.

Diamond smuggling scandal spotlights shadowy Israeli tycoon Lev Leviev
Billionaire who made his fortune in diamonds has suffered a stunning downturn as his company has found itself embroiled in a smuggling ring scandal

By Aron Heller4 December 2018, 10:39 pm
This Dec. 2, 2009 photo shows Lev Leviev at Tel Aviv's District Court (AP Photo/Ofer Vaknin)
AP — A shadowy billionaire who made his fortune in the insular world of diamonds has suddenly found his empire in jeopardy after close associates were busted in a massive smuggling ring and an employee mysteriously plummeted to her death from his high-rise Tel Aviv office building.

Lev Leviev, known in Israel as the “king of diamonds,” has enjoyed close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has a reputation for generous philanthropy to Jewish causes. But now, Israeli police are demanding that he return from Moscow for questioning on allegations of smuggling, money laundering, and tax offenses.

It’s a stunning downturn for one of Israel’s most well-known tycoons. Born in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, the 62-year-old Leviev immigrated to Israel as a youth in 1971 and began working as an apprentice in a polishing plant in Israel’s then-booming diamond industry. His meteoric rise saw him later establishing a plant of his own, and striking deals in Angola and Russia that briefly undercut the DeBeers diamond giant. He later branched out to real estate, construction, and chemicals, with his Africa-Israel holding and investment company becoming a powerful player in the Israeli market and establishing Leviev as a precursor to a wave of Jewish oligarchs from the former Soviet Union who have become power brokers in Israel.

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Though his net worth is estimated at more than $1 billion, Leviev suffered heavy losses in recent years because of his massive investment in Russia, where he is known to enjoy strong government support. Leviev, who moved to London a decade ago and recently relocated to Moscow, denies any allegations of impropriety and is currently negotiating terms of his return with Israeli police. But insiders say that even if he hasn’t been formally charged with a crime, his mere association with the suspects accused of smuggling some $80 million worth of diamonds hidden in briefcases over several years could be devastating to his brand.

View of the Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan business district. December 18, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
“I can’t believe he would put himself in such a situation. He is still a strong oligarch, and this is not his style. A smuggling of this scale could topple businesses far larger than his,” said Alex Kogan, a journalist who has covered the oligarchs in Israel for the local Russian-language press. “Even if he is not involved, this whole affair will harm him greatly.”

Leviev’s son and brother were arrested in early November, along with four others, and are currently out on bail in what has been dubbed the “Black Diamond” affair.

The saga took a more tragic turn on November 11, when Mazal Hadadi, a bookkeeper for Leviev’s diamond firm LLD, fell to her death from a small, elevated bathroom window on the 10th floor of his office building next to Israel’s Diamond Exchange.

The death was initially reported as a suicide, the supposed result of a breakdown following tough police questioning about the smuggling affair. The family acknowledges Hadadi was rattled by the investigation but insists the mother of three would never take her own life and was on her way to meet her husband after work when a mysterious call to her cell phone made her abruptly return to the office.

Israel’s reeling diamond industry has been trying to distance itself from the affair. With tens of thousands of employees in the 1970s, Israel was once the world’s largest diamond trading center but fell on hard times in recent years because of the proliferation of synthetic diamonds and outsourcing of polishing plants to countries like India, where wages are far lower. Dubai has also cut away at Israel’s status as the regional gateway for trading because of tax benefits for companies.

But Israel is still a leader in the polishing of large diamonds and a hub for e-commerce and technological developments. Though officially still a member of the Israel Diamond Exchange, Leviev hasn’t been seen in Israeli diamond circles in years as his business interests focused elsewhere and his brother took over the leadership at LLD.

Lev Leviev at a conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem, September 6, 2009. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)
An official in the industry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said the affair has put a strain on other Israeli diamond dealers. The Israeli market is now considered to be a highly regulated industry that has cleaned up its act after decades of shady dealings and association with “blood diamonds” mined in conflict zones that financed human rights violations. In 2003, Israel joined the Kimberley Process, by which members meet annually to discuss strengthening controls over conflict diamonds.

Leviev’s alleged motivations are also a mystery, since diamonds entering Israel only need to be declared and inspected rather than immediately taxed.

For now, there are far more questions than answers. The Israeli media has been filled with trickles of information along with interviews with the bereaved bookkeeper’s family, criticism of police conduct and speculation over whether Leviev will return and be arrested.

In a statement, Leviev’s Israel office denied all allegations against its employees.

“Mr. Leviev and all of the companies under his control operate in accordance with accepted norms, adhering to the law,” it said. “We hope that this matter will be clarified quickly and the suspicions will be proven baseless.”

It’s the kind of attention Leviev has long tried to avoid, preferring to limit his media coverage to his philanthropy for the Chabad movement, a Hasidic sect that performs outreach to Jews around the world, rather than his diamond dealing.

“It’s a closed world where people like to keep their secrets,” said Kogan, the journalist. “He doesn’t like publicity and doesn’t like to stick out.” ... ev-leviev/

As Steve Bannon said; it is all about money laundering but the nexus seems to hover around Russia, Israel and the Gulf, the standard spin cycle for money laundering that needs a US or European cleaner.

Europol highlights Russian money as biggest laundering threat
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Europe’s Baltic states are at risk from further Russian money laundering, a top European police official said after several big banks were hit by scandals centered on the region.

Undated handout archive photo shows Europol's flag outside the headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, released June 13, 2019. Europol/Handout via REUTERS
Pedro Felicio, who is responsible for fighting money laundering at European police agency Europol, told Reuters that “huge inflows of criminal money” are mainly coming into Europe from Russia and China.

Russian money is alleged to be at the heart of multi-billion dollar laundering rackets that engulfed Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest lender and Sweden’s Swedbank.

“There are billions of criminal money that are being taken out of the Russian economy,” Felicio said as he warned of the dangers of a repeat of scandals involving tainted Russian money in the Baltics, a bloc of three countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which used to be ruled by Soviet Russia.

The high burden of proof in Europe coupled with “zero cooperation from Russia in providing ... evidence” were exacerbating the problem, Felicio added.

Russia’s central bank, which has a hard line on money laundering in the past few years and shut dozens of banks it said were involved, did not respond to a request for comment.

A recent report by the Financial Action Task Force, a global standard-setter in fighting money laundering, said a “large amount of illicit proceeds flows out of China annually”.

China’s central bank, which has also been taking action in recent years, bolstering supervision to combat money laundering as it opens up its financial sector, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The recent scandals have helped prompt Europol, which coordinates cross-border investigations and was involved in a 2016 operation that broke up an international drugs and money laundering cartel, to invest more in fighting financial crime.

But while things have got better, there are still gaps particularly in the Baltic states, which are now part of the European Union, Felicio said.

“Some of the banks in the Baltic area are very vulnerable to money laundering activities especially coming in from Russia. It has improved but it is far from being solved.”

“It is just a matter of time until we see another scandal coming in from the area and it will probably be very similar to the scandals we have seen in the past,” he added.


Bill Browder, formerly an investor in Russia, has also highlighted movements of Russian money linked to a fraud uncovered by his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was later arrested and died in a Moscow prison after complaining of mistreatment.

Danske Bank’s shares plummeted after saying that 200 billion euros ($226 billion) of suspicious money, including from Russia and former Soviet states, flowed through its Estonian branch.

The Danish bank has since been ejected from Estonia and withdrawn from Russia and the other Baltic states.

Swedbank is also being investigated after Swedish broadcaster SVT said that it had processed billions in payments from high-risk customers, mostly Russian, through Estonia.

While the Baltic nations are in the “front line” for receiving dirty money, it ultimately gets invested elsewhere.

“Investments in real estate would be one of the main final solutions,” Felicio said, singling out London and Rome.

Undated handout archive photo shows Europol's headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, released June 13, 2019. Europol/Handout via REUTERS
The scandals have prompted action in the Baltics, where Latvia’s new prime minister, Krisjanis Karins, is accelerating an overhaul of the banking sector and its supervisor.

One of Latvia’s largest banks, ABLV, which had numerous Russian clients, closed last year after U.S. authorities accused it of money laundering.

However, reforms in Estonia have been on hold while a new government was being formed. Lithuania has not played a significant role in the scandals.

Additional reporting by Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow; Editing by Alexander Smith ... SKCN1TE2K6

The UAE has made trillions from Russians, Cyprus used to be their favorite "holiday" destination but Russians now like to visit their money in Dubai while staying in overpriced hotels or inside the labyrinths of million dollar condos.

America’s Gulf Ally: A Hub for Terrorist Money Laundering
We claim to be fighting terrorism. So why don't we get tougher on the United Arab Emirates?

By Brian Saady • June 22, 2018
A recent report should demonstrate once and for all that one of America’s top Middle Eastern allies, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a money laundering hub for international criminals. Dubai’s real estate market has provided a safe haven for illicit funds connected to terrorism, drug cartels, and war profiteers, according to the Center for Advanced Defense Studies.

As of 2002, foreign nationals have been allowed to buy property in the UAE. Those records are private, but the Center for Advanced Defense Studies received leaked city data. Their organization identified 81 luxury properties (valued at $107 million) in Dubai that were owned by individuals or networks of people sanctioned by the United States government.

Listed in this report were two high-profile Syrian businessmen, Wael Abdulkarim and Ahmad Barqawi, who were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2014. Both have acted as key allies to the Assad government by smuggling aviation fuel and oil into Syria. Those supplies have enabled the Assad government’s barrel bombing campaign that has killed thousands of Syrians.

Neither Abdulkarim nor Barqawi used a straw purchaser to acquire their properties; their homes are listed in their names. They’re also presumed to be currently living in Dubai. Furthermore, they’re apparently still conducting this type of business unfettered within the UAE.

On the other hand, one of the most prolific money launderers in the world, Altaf Khanani, isn’t free. Khanani, a Pakistani national, is currently serving prison time in the United States. He laundered billions of dollars in drug money for a variety of international criminals such as Colombian and Mexican cartels, Australian biker gangs, and Chinese organized crime groups.

Although Altaf Khanian remains behind bars, his network’s businesses are flourishing in the UAE. This organization has serviced some of the most notorious members of the underworld, including India’s top organized crime outfit, D Company. That group’s leader, Dawood Ibrahim, is believed to have masterminded a series of terrorist bombings in Bombay in 1993. The Khanani organization has also laundered money for full-fledged terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Remarkably, despite sanctions against an array of individuals connected with Khanian, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies discovered 59 properties valued at $22 million that were linked to his criminal organization.

These kinds of discoveries are to be expected in a nation that is hostile to the United States. However, the American government has excellent diplomatic relations with the UAE. In fact, the UAE’s cabinet, in conjunction with the Treasury Department, announced sanctions last month against nine Iranians. Those men provided millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, which often facilitates proxy warfare and terrorism. But what are the point of such sanctions if they aren’t enforced consistently, across the board, including against those who live in Dubai?

The illicit funds in this report also include drug trafficking. A Mexican businessman, Hassein Eduardo Figueroa Gomez, is listed. His father, Ezio Benjamin Figueroa Vasquez, was arrested in 2011 for being a major supplier of the precursor chemicals needed to make methamphetamine.

Gomez was sanctioned one year later by the U.S. government. Nonetheless, he continued supplying Mexican cartels and operated businesses in Dubai for up to four years after the sanctions were put in place. In fact, he continues to own $4.34 million worth of personal property in Dubai.

The UAE is by no means the only hub of money laundering in the world. An estimated $800 billion to $2 trillion is laundered through the global financial system every year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. These transactions are generally highly complex, difficult to trace, and conducted by sophisticated individuals.

However, it’s fair to say that the UAE’s anti-money laundering controls as incredibly passive. The brazenness with which illicit funds flow through the UAE’s financial system was exposed by another NGO, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), in a recently released report.

It revealed that criminals often “buy” luxury Dubai real estate properties in cash and then cancel the transactions shortly thereafter. The refunded bank check launders the money. There’s a network of people who charge hefty fees for this illegal service.

The OCCRP used an undercover reporter posing as a foreign real estate buyer. Every real estate agent stated that cash was the preferred payment method and assured the potential client of the UAE’s minimal reporting requirements.

Obviously, the U.S. government needs to pressure the UAE to crack down on this illegal activity, but serious action isn’t likely to be taken. All in all, there’s a different standard for corporate criminals who enable terrorism.

The U.S. government takes extreme (and arguably unconstitutional) action to fight terrorism, from stretching Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to its breaking point to extensive drone strikes. Yet it doesn’t do nearly enough to pressure its own allies that are allowing terror financing within their borders. Unfortunately, there are a few roadblocks to change.

For one thing, it’s a game of whack-a-mole. Notably, the two aforementioned Syrian war profiteers, Wael Abdulkarim and Ahmad Barqawi, were also listed in the infamous Panama Papers scandal, yet they still weren’t apprehended.

Furthermore, the DOJ has never taken a strong stance against major financial institutions involved in money laundering. As mentioned in a previous TAC article, the handling of a case involving HSBC is the most egregious example. Along with processing millions of narco dollars, the bank failed to monitor $60 trillion of business conducted with sanctioned nations. That’s in addition to servicing a bank closely linked to Osama bin Laden.

Remarkably, Eric Holder rushed the investigation and let HSBC off the hook with a fine and no criminal charges. The Trump administration doesn’t appear to be any firmer on this type of crime.

Money laundering is an issue that tends to fly under the radars of most Americans. However, the size and scope of some of these cases seem impossible to believe. Look no further than the New York City skyline. Last year, a federal jury ruled that a 36-story skyscraper in Manhattan was a front for the Iranian government.

Via a U.S.-based shell company, Bank Melli, controlled by the Iranians, financed the building and rented it to Nike and Godiva Chocolate, among other high-end clients. It was originally constructed before sanctions were placed upon Iran. However, the anonymity of the true ownership allowed the Iranian government to skirt sanctions in a lucrative manner for several years.

Was this example an anomaly? Not necessarily. A New York Times investigation concluded that roughly half of the luxury real estate in the U.S. has been purchased by shell companies.

So while the recent revelations about Dubai’s real estate market are absolutely disturbing, the U.S. government first needs to address issues on its own soil for there to be real progress. It should also take a harder look at its relations with the UAE.

Brian Saady is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics, such as foreign policy and corruption. He’s the author of four books, including his series, Rackets. It details the legalization of drugs and gambling, and the decriminalization of prostitution. You can check out his podcast and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. ... aundering/

Israel along with Malta and Cyprus are favored second passport stops for the wealthy. This creates confusion in the narrative since many of Trump associates can be described as "Israeli" or "Russian" or by dual nationality leading to a confused narrative.

Know Your Oligarch: A Guide to the Jewish Billionaires in the Trump-Russia Probe

Of 10 billionaires with Kremlin ties who funneled political contributions to Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders, at least five are Jewish

JTA and Ron Kampeas May 23, 2018 1:13 PM

Yuri Milner, co-founder of Group Ltd., speaks during the TechCrunch Disrupt 2017 in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
The special prosecutor’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election offers an unsettling journey for anyone steeped in Russian Jewry, and the transition from the repression of the former Soviet Union to the relative freedoms of the Russian Federation.

Of 10 billionaires with Kremlin ties who funneled political contributions to U.S. President Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders, at least five are Jewish. (The Dallas Morning News has a handy set of interactive charts.)

There’s Len Blavatnik, the dual British-American citizen who dumped huge amounts of cash on Republican candidates in the last election cycle, much of it funneled through his myriad investment firms. (The same Len Blavatnik funds scholarships for IDF veterans and who is friends with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.) Alexander Shustorovich is the president of IMG Artists, a titan among impresarios, who gave Trumps’ inauguration committee a cool $1 million. He arrived in 1977 with his penniless family in New York at age 11, fleeing Soviet persecution of Jews.

The list goes on — we explore some of the names below. But first: What was going on in the Soviet Union as it headed towards collapse in the late 1980s that led to the proliferation of Jewish names among its oligarch class?

“Not all oligarchs are Jewish, of course, not the majority, but there is a significant number,” said Mark Levin, the CEO of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, who joined its predecessor, the National Council on Soviet Jewry, in 1980 as a staffer. “They were in the right place at the right time.”

Here are some of the factors that put them in the “right place at the right time.”

You can go home again

Many Soviet Jews left the country because bigotry and punitive Soviet policies kept them, among other indignities, from getting jobs in their preferred professions. But with the collapse of the USSR, and with opportunities opening up at home, a number of these younger emigrants drew on the entrepreneurial strain, training and connections they found in their new countries, be it the United States, Britain and Israel.

In the late 1980s, when they heard that the policy of glasnost was loosening up markets, a number of them traveled back to their homeland seeking opportunity, armed with savvy and with moneyed connections in their new countries. They were in place after 1991 when Russia and its former republics rapidly privatized everything from mines to media.

“I know people who left the Soviet Union, it imploded, they went back, they had friends and acquaintances who were telling them there were great opportunities,” Levin said. “There were business people who were partnering with people in Russia and other countries because they had the connections to complete business deals.”


The Jews who stayed behind kept in touch with friends and family who were succeeding overseas and were able to tap them for investment opportunities.

“Jews in the ex-USSR had a ready-made network of trusted contacts in the U.S. and Israel who they could go into business with,” said Oliver Bullough, a British author and journalist whose expertise is Russian history and politics. “It was harder for Russians who had no contacts abroad to achieve this. This also, in my opinion, explains why ex-KGB people did well since they had a network of former spies in other countries.”

Glasnost opened doors

Glasnost, or openness, instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, included opening up plum government jobs to minorities that had previously been marginalized. That accelerated Jewish entry into higher ranks of the bureaucracy just when it was opportune to be in a position to know what sector was about to be privatized, and which government-owned business was about to be broken up.

It helped that unlike communist regimes in eastern Europe, Levin said, in Russia and the former Soviet republics, the elites remained in place — only the ideology of communism was jettisoned.

“Russia and most successor states of the Soviet Union went through a much different transformation than the former communist Europe nations,” he said. “Most of the governing elite didn’t change.”

Moreover, the very professions to which Jews were restricted under the old Soviet system were the ones that proved useful in the new economy. Jews, Levin said, were likelier to be entrepreneurs.

“There were Jews who were helping to make the transition from a command economy to a market economy,” he said.

Author Michael Wolff, profiling tech entrepreneur Yuri Milner in 20111, wrote, “The Jews in Soviet Russia, often kept from taking official career paths, came to thrive in the gray and black markets. Hence, they were among the only capitalists in Russia when capitalism emerged.”

Bullough said the scientific disciplines that accepted Jews under the old system were suddenly in demand under the new.

“Jews were often excluded from the kind of universities that produced diplomats, and therefore pushed more towards pure sciences, which meant there was a disproportionate number of Jewish mathematicians who were able to engage with the new banking industry,” he said.

But who really knows.

Most of all, said Levin, it was chaos. Massive sectors of the economy were up for grabs. At times, there seemed to be no controlling authority. When the dust settled, Russia had entered the age of the oligarchs. “In the beginning, it was like Chicago in the 1920s,” he said. Connie Bruck, profiling Blavatnik in The New Yorker in 2014, quoted a new Russian phrase: “Never ask about the first million.”

Here are some of the businessmen with Soviet Jewish roots who have been named in stories about the Trump-Russia investigation.

Access Industries chairman Leonard Blavatnik.Bloomberg
Leonard Blavatnik, 60

Oligarch factor: U.S.-British citizen. Forbes lists him as the 48th richest man in the world. Access Industries, which he founded in 1986 while he was at Harvard Business school, exploded in its earlier years through investments in uranium and oil in the collapsing Soviet Union. It has since expanded into massive media holdings.

Trump factor: Gave more than $6 million in the 2016 election cycle, virtually all to Republicans, after a pattern of relatively modest donations to both political parties. Longstanding business ties to Viktor Vekselberg, the oligarch allegedly linked to secret payments to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Blavatnik donated $12,700 last year to a Republican party legal fund that has helped to pay Trump’s lawyers in the Russia inquiry.

Jewish ties: He has served on the board of Tel Aviv University, the Center for Jewish History and the 92nd Street Y. His family foundation funds a Colel Chabad-run food bank and warehouse in Kiryat Malachi in Israel, which sends monthly shipments of food to 5,000 poor families in 25 Israeli cities. He is friends with Netanyahu, and has been questioned by police in connection with the investigation into gifts the prime minister allegedly has received from wealthy benefactors. He funds scholarships for Israeli army soldiers.

In 2017, Israeli police investigated whether Prime Minister Netanyahu was involved behind the scenes in the sale of Channel 10 to Leonard Blavatnik (a partner in RGE Communications, which owns 51 percent of Channel 10).

Andrew Intrater, 55

Oligarch factor: A cousin to Vekselberg, who has a Jewish father but does not identify as Jewish. Intrater, a U.S. citizen, is the CEO of Columbus Nova, the investment company with close ties to Vekselberg’s Renova. An SEC filing from 2007 lists Intrater as the chairman of the board of CableCom, a Moscow-area cable TV provider.

Trump factor: Columbus Nova funneled payments from Renova to Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer. Intrater also donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee.

Jewish ties: Intrater, the child of a Holocaust survivor, has given more than $500,000 to the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation and has donated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee. Intrater’s brother, Frederick, the design manager for Columbus Nova, bought up a batch of domain names with associations with the “alt-right” in the summer of 2016, when support for then-candidate Trump on the far right was rising and Get Out the Vote drives were intensifying. Frederick Intrater said he made the purchases without Andrew’s knowledge, and later regretted it, allowing the URL names to wither. “To conclude that I support white supremacy or anti-Semitism is unreasonable given what I’ve described above and also taking into consideration that I am a Jew and son of a Holocaust survivor,” Frederick Intrater said.

Alexander Shustorovich, 52

Oligarch factor: Shustorovich, a U.S. citizen, traveled to Moscow in 1989, a year after graduating from Harvard, and immediately became a player in media there, starting scientific publications. He unsuccessfully sought to get his company, Pleiades Group, into the $12 billion deal that sold Soviet nuclear fuel to the United States. He is now CEO of IMG Artists, a company that manages talent in classical music and dance.

Trump factor: Shustorovich gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. Notably, his attempt to give the George W. Bush campaign $250,000 in 2000 was rejected in part because of his ties at the time to Russia’s government.

Jewish ties: Shustorovich arrived in New York at 11 in 1977 with his family, who did not have enough money to buy food. His father, Evgeny, pushed out of work in Russia as a chemist because of his hopes of emigrating, joined Kodak in Rochester, N.Y. and soon rose to prominence in his field. For a period in 1986-1987, Evgeny Shustorovich was one of the faces of the Soviet Jewry movement as he became an ardent advocate for the right of his brother — also named Alexander — to emigrate from the former Soviet Union.

Simon Kukes, 72

Oligarch factor: Kukes, a U.S. citizen, left the Soviet Union in 1977, settling in the Houston area. A chemist, he was for a period an academic, and then worked in the Texas oil industry. He returned to Russia and became an executive in the post-Soviet oil industry there. In 2003, he became head of the Yukos oil company after another Jewish oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was jailed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin for tax evasion and theft — but mostly, most observers think, for funding opposition parties.

The Guardian in 2003 uncovered CIA documents linking Kukes to bribery, charges which he has denied. Prior to his year-long gig helming Yukos, Kukes was from 1998-2003 the president of TNK, another oil company, whose principal stakeholders were Blavatnik and Vekselberg. In 2012 when he headed the Russian arm of Hess, Forbes reported that Kukes’ former chauffeur, who had risen through the company ranks, was a Russian mafia boss. The man denied the charges, but Kukes pushed him out of the company. Last year, Kukes was a U.S.-based CEO of Nafta, a consulting firm for investors in Russia’s energy sector. Nafta’s website has since been scrubbed.

Trump factor: With no major history of GOP giving, Kukes suddenly funneled $285,000 into the Trump reelection effort — much of it after June 2016, when Russian interest in the possibility of a Trump presidency intensified.

Jewish ties: Kukes does not have apparent formal ties with the organized Jewish community, although he tells interviewers he left the former Soviet Union because he was Jewish. In 2015, he bought a 12.5 percent share in Leverate, an Israeli-founded company that develops brokerage software.

Yuri Milner, 56

Oligarch factor: Milner never fled the Soviet Union — his parents still live in Moscow. He was the first non-emigre from the Soviet Union to attend Wharton business school, and was for years involved in Russian banking before entering tech. He is well known as a Silicon Valley investor, owning one of the most luxurious houses in ritzy Los Altos Hills, valued in 2011 at $100 million. Last year, it was revealed through leaked documents that Russia’s government funded substantive stakes in Twitter and Facebook that were for a time held by his company, DST Global. In 2013, Milner joined Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sergey Brin and 23andme’s Anne Wojcicki in establishing the multi-million dollar Breakthrough prize for scientists.

Trump factor: After last year’s revelations, Milner scoffed at the notion that Russia was plowing money into social media efforts to influence elections, noting that he never sought a seat on the board of the companies he invested in. Milner in 2015 invested $850,000 in Cadre, a real estate startup launched by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and Kushner’s brother Josh. Milner has said that he met Jared Kushner only once. Kushner’s stake in Cadre was one of many that he initially failed to disclose when he became an adviser to his father-in-law.

Jewish ties: Milner attends a synagogue when he is in Moscow. Somewhere along the line, he appears to have acquired Israeli citizenship. Speaking with Forbes in 2017 after the magazine named him one of the 100 “greatest living business minds,” Milner said he was “humbled and honored” to be “the only Russian or Israeli citizen on the list.” ... -1.6113189

Trump continues to make positive comments about dictators and or support world leaders accused or charged with corruption. Or attack their opponents. Donald knows money and safety is in politics and corruption. But is this a last resort or escape strategy?

Jews In The U.S. Respond To Trump's Attacks On Loyalty

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (Gali Tibbon/Getty Images)
With Meghna Chakrabarti

We hear from a roundtable of American Jews about their thoughts and responses to President Trump’s claims about who they should be loyal to and why.

In her new book, "The Vagina Bible," OB-GYN and New York Times columnist Dr. Jen Gunter separates myth from medicine about women’s bodies. (Courtesy Jason LeCras)
Put Away The Jade Eggs And Garlic: This Doctor's 'Vagina Bible' Separates Fact From Fiction

David Klion, news editor at Jewish Currents. (@DavidKlion)

Jeff Jacoby, op-ed columnist at the Boston Globe. (@Jeff_Jacoby)

Rachel Greengrass, associate rabbi and Jewish life coordinator at Temple Beth Am, a Reform synagogue in Pinecrest, Florida.

From The Reading List

Tablet: "Opinion: What Donald Trump Will Never Understand About Jews" — "Last night, the president of the United States called the vast majority of American Jews stupid or disloyal.

"You don’t need me to rehash the details, or to be the 10,000th person to attempt to find new English words to describe how heinous, twisted, and dangerous this statement is. What we need to do today as a community is decide how to respond. First, though, we need to sit with it for a moment. Despite the seemingly endless onslaught of anti-Semitism in America today, this one is important because it came directly from the president.

Get highlights, extras and notes from the hosts sent to your inbox each week with On Point's newsletter. Subscribe here.

"The real either/or here isn’t whether American Jews are dumb or evil—it’s whether the president of the United States is. Personally, I think he is both. There is ample evidence of profound stupidity as well as mind-numbing coarseness, but I also know that it doesn’t matter because in his case the consequences are the same for the Jews, and they are frightening.

"President Trump is well aware that the vast majority of American Jews voted against him and are loyal to the Democratic Party. He is well aware that the vast majority of the Jewish members of Congress are Democrats. The idea that the Democratic Party stands against Israel is certifiably false. Regardless of how you feel about Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar—I find them contemptible, not least for lying to Jewish voters during election season about their views on a two-state solution and BDS—they are two junior members of the Democratic Party. They do not represent the majority, or even a sizable faction within the party."

Forward: "The Long And Violent History Of Anti-Semitic ‘Disloyalty’ Charges" — "In 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte summoned French Jewish leaders for a conversation about loyalty.

"French Jews had gained the status of full citizens 16 years earlier. Napoleon wanted to understand how, as newly empowered civilians, they saw the world. So he asked them if they truly considered France their country, and Frenchmen their countrymen.

"In 1894, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongfully convicted of treason. Two years later, incontrovertible new evidence made his innocence obvious. Even then, the French press, led by the anti-Semitic newspaper La Libre Parole, accused Dreyfus of being part of an 'international Jewish conspiracy' and disloyal to France. He was retried — and convicted again.

"In September 1941, Charles Lindbergh spoke about Jewish Americans’ perceived 'agitation for war.' 'Their greatest danger to their country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government,' he said. 'Their country' — not the same as ours.

"In 2017, former State Department official Dennis Ross wrote in The New York Times about a colleague who asked about a peer for whom Ross was a reference. The official asked if that peer was loyal to America, then, after Ross said yes, whether he would put America’s interests before those of Israel. Ross asked why his interlocutor would ask that question. 'Because he is Jewish,' he said."

Forward: "Here’s What Jewish Leaders Said About Trump And Omar’s Dual Loyalty Comments" — "President Trump’s remarks from the Oval Office on Tuesday, in which he claimed that Jews who voted for Democrats showed 'either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,' were condemned by a variety of Jewish figures and organizations.

"But in some cases, their initial reactions were different from their responses after Rep. Ilhan Omar said in March that she wanted 'to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.'

"Many observers thought that both comments echoed the anti-Semitic trope of 'dual loyalty' - but in some cases, figures only explicitly called one of them 'anti-Semitic.'

"For example, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris called Trump’s remarks 'inappropriate, unwelcome, and downright dangerous.' But after Omar’s comments, Harris was much more direct: It was 'anti-Semitism, plain and simple,' he tweeted.

"On the other hand, some prominent Jewish Democrats went in the other direction, calling Trump’s remarks anti-Semitic but not Omar’s."

Washington Post: "Trump, frustrated by unpopularity with Jews, thrusts Israel into his culture war" — "President Trump decided long ago that it would be smart politics for him to yoke his administration to Israel and to try to brand the Democratic Party as anti-Semitic.

"He set about executing a pro-Israel checklist: moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as part of sovereign Israel, and taking a hard line against Iran. And he promoted himself as the greatest president — a deity even — for Jewish people.

"Yet Trump has become flummoxed that Jewish Americans are not in turn lining up to support his reelection, according to people familiar with his thinking, and he has lashed out in predictable fashion.

"'If you vote for a Democrat, you’re very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people,' Trump said Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House. He was amplifying a statement he made in the Oval Office a day earlier: 'I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.' "

Jewish Currents: "Trump’s “Disloyalty” Comments Are What the Jewish Right Believes" — "ON TUESDAY, Donald Trump told White House reporters that any Jew who votes for a Democrat is showing 'either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.' In the outcry that followed, many Jews across the political spectrum rightly pointed out that 'disloyalty' is a trope that has been deployed again and again against Jews, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Mein Kampf to the McCarthy era. According to this antisemitic canard, Jews are inherently disloyal to the governments of the nations we inhabit; our true loyalty lies elsewhere—perhaps with Bolshevism, or with a transnational conspiracy to control the global financial system.

"But while Trump’s most overtly white supremacist supporters may well have heard his remarks this way, his doubling down over the following days made clear that his point was slightly different. Trump wasn’t precisely accusing American Jews of being disloyal to the United States, as past antisemites—for instance, Henry Ford, whose wisdom the president cited in a separate context yesterday—have done. Rather, he was arguing that American Jews are being disloyal to Israel, a state where most of us have never lived and whose policies many of us fervently oppose.

"Jewish Currents readers don’t need to be persuaded that the president is a bigot, and don’t require a list of examples of his antisemitic comments over many years. The question, as always, is who is influencing his thinking. It’s become a commonplace observation that Trump always says the quiet part loud, but who is saying it quietly?

"The answer lies with the Jewish right, by which I mean the institutions and individuals who broadly represent the 24% of American Jews who voted for Trump in 2016 (the 71% who voted for Hillary Clinton are the ones allegedly displaying 'either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty'). Trump is surrounded by such figures, from his son-in-law Jared Kushner to his ambassador to Israel, the vehemently Islamophobic bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, to the Orthodox Jewish political operative Jeff Ballabon. The worldview of the Jewish right is indistinguishable from what Trump told reporters, but it consistently receives far less media attention. They believe that Jews in the US owe our loyalty to Israel, and that supporting the uncompromisingly pro-Israel Republican Party over the more tepidly pro-Israel Democratic Party is necessary to express that loyalty. To them, Trump’s warm friendship with Benjamin Netanyahu and his pro-Israel policies like moving the US embassy to Jerusalem outweigh and excuse his relationship with the antisemitic far right. In short, they prefer the company of Trump, and of his white supremacist supporters, to that of the vast majority of their fellow American Jews."

New York Times: "Mazel Tov, Trump. You’ve Revived the Jewish Left." — "On Aug. 11, more than 1,000 people marked Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, by occupying an Amazon Books store in Manhattan, protesting the technology behemoth’s technical support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sitting on the floor, they read harrowing accounts of people in immigration detention and recited the Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning. One of their signs said, 'Never again means never again.'

"According to organizers, 44 people, including 12 rabbis and a member of New York’s City Council, were arrested. It was one of over 50 Jewish-organized demonstrations against ICE held across the country that day.

"A few days later, a corrections officer drove a truck into a row of Jewish protesters who were blocking the entrance to a private prison in Rhode Island where migrants are being detained. Two of the protesters were hospitalized. That demonstration was one of at least 38 organized this summer by Never Again Action, a decentralized group formed two months ago to engage in nonviolent direct action against immigrant detention.

"Donald Trump might have thought he was going to lure Jewish voters to the Republican Party with his lock-step alliance with the Israeli right. Instead, by attempting to use American Jews as mascots for an administration that fills most of them with horror, he has spurred a renaissance on the Jewish left." ... ts-loyalty

There is no proof of illegal corruption, just the normal corruption that comes with donors and payoffs. But Donald is not really paying off for Russia, Israel or the UAE, he tries, but is blocked. So are we just making the tit for tat corruption story up?


Our investigations into Donald Trump’s business deals have exposed corruption, conflicts of interests and money laundering red flags ... ump-deals/

Or did "dirty" foreign money transform Trump from a dilettante serial bankrupt into a closely held cash rich family? The tax returns and the rationale for lending him money by these two institutions may be an important answer in telling that story.

Donald Trump was a stock market disaster
Brett Arends

OK, so Donald Trump may be a loudmouth, but he’s still a really successful businessman — right?

I mean, the guy’s made billions of dollars in the private sector, so he must know what he’s doing — yes?


Trump may look like a smart business guy on TV’s “The Apprentice.”

But try telling that to anyone who invested their hard-earned dough in his great business venture, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc.

It was 20 years ago this summer that “The Donald,” for the first and only time, let ordinary schmucks on Main Street become his business partners and put their money where his mouth was.

The property mogul and best-selling author of “The Art of the Deal” raised $140 million from the public in the IPO of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, which owned his business interests in Atlantic City and elsewhere. (To put that in context, that’s as much as the average American could earn if they worked for 6,020 years.)

When the dust finally cleared from the wreckage, in 2005, those who had backed Trump found they’d lost about 90 cents on the dollar.
What an opportunity it must have seemed.

After all, casinos are a license to print money. And Trump was a genius at wheeling, dealing and self-promotion. Sure, he’d gotten overextended in the early 1990s. But who hadn’t? And sure, the bankers had taken him to the woodshed. But he was older and wiser now. By the mid-1990s, the economy was starting to boom again, too.

How could it fail? What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, dear.

When the dust finally cleared from the wreckage, in 2005, those who had backed Trump found they’d lost about 90 cents on the dollar. That was when the creditors — again — had to step in and take charge, and force the company through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts lost money every single year that Trump ran it as a public company. Net losses of $13 million in 1995 ballooned to $134 million by 1999, and $191 million in 2004. Not even his chosen accounting firm, Arthur Andersen (of Enron fame), could have hidden all the red ink. In total, from 1995 through 2004, the company booked total losses of $647 million.

Trump had complete control — both as the chairman and as the owner of a special class of stock that carried many more votes than those he sold to the public. He even gave the company his initials, DJT, as its stock ticker symbol.

Its debts mounted, the stock collapsed — and in the end, the creditors had had enough. The courts stepped in, the company had to go through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, and The Donald ended up with a largely ceremonial role — sort of like the guy in the costume welcoming you to Caesar’s Palace. By April 2004, someone who had invested a notional $100 in the IPO was left with about $10.

And it wasn’t like you could blame wider troubles in the industry, the economy or the stock market. Over the same period, investors in competitor Harrah’s Entertainment more than doubled their money. Investors in luxury hotel, casino and resort companies like Starwood and MGM earned returns of more than 400%. Even the plain old stock market index more than doubled.

It is already well-known that Trump’s businesses have passed through Chapter 11 four times over the past 25 years. Creditors have lost billions along the way. But as most of this has involved complex debt arrangements between Trump, his various business entities and dozens of banks, the details can easily get lost in the shuffle. Trump himself says he has merely been “smart” to use the corporate laws — including the bankruptcy code — to his advantage.

But the stock market is a little different. The losses are very public and very easy to follow — and the losers are ordinary investors who bought the stock directly or through mutual funds. Even worse, many of those investors are voters, too.

All in all, it’s a lucky thing for Trump that the public is so easily distracted … and have such short memories. ... 2015-07-22

Robert Young Pelton

Gonna be crowded at George Nader's trial. Media wants in big time.

another one of trump's pedophile friends
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:39 am

Deutsche Bank, Kennedy and Kennedy's son

Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Ruth Ben-Ghiat Retweeted Eleven Films
Since Deutsche Bank, where Kennedy’s son ok’d the massive loans to Trump, has been back on the news....Trump body language fits the politician-mafioso’s casual deliverance of threat, such as the blackmail he specializes in. #thugocracy ... 6327152640

Dr. Jack Brown

THREAD: Body Language Analysis No. 4351: Donald Trump Stops Anthony Kennedy in His Tracks • • #Nonverbal #EmotionalIntelligence #DonaldTrump #BrettKavanuagh #AnthonyKennedy #BodyLanguage #BodyLanguageExpert #SCOTUS #TakenAback #StoppedInHIsTracks
2:23 PM - 13 Oct 2018

1/ On 8 October 2018, a ceremonial swearing-in of Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Supreme Court Justice was held in the East Room of the White House.

2/ After the ceremony was completed, there was an interesting exchange which occurred between retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy and President Trump. What follows is a nonverbal analysis of that exchange.

3/ Note that as Trump and Kennedy exit the East Room (beginning at about 30:01 in the above video), as they're walking down the hallway, Trump momentarily touches with his finger-splayed right hand in the upper center portion of Kennedy's back (30:27 - 30:28).


4/ President Trump exhibits this particular behavior extremely often. It's not in any way a display of affection or friendship - nor is it because Kennedy needs any assistance in walking (he doesn't) - rather this is Trump displaying dominance.

5/ As they turn to their left (30:29), Justice Kennedy suddenly stops - epitomizing the nonverbal idioms of 'stopping in his tracks' and he's 'taken aback' - and with both of his feet planted, his torso recoils, tilting backward, as he suddenly pulls away from President Trump.


6/ Kennedy then leans slightly forward, particularly with his head and neck, in a moment of anger and assertiveness (30:30).

7/ As Trump attempts to calm Kennedy (30:32) with his dominant, palm-down gesture, Kennedy looks down to his right.

8/ This is the quadrant to which most people look in momentary reflection during high-emotional times (such as sadness, guilt, shame, regret, what-am-I-going-to-do-now?, and similar feelings).

9/ During 30:31, we see Kennedy's mouth momentarily agape - displaying persisting shock and disbelief. Notice too, that the justice's jaw is retracted - which, although not required, serves to amplify Kennedy's emotions.

10/ Kennedy then reasserts himself with Trump (30:34 - 30:37) with a finger-point hand-chop.


11/ This is indicative of Kennedy's feelings of anger and self-righteousness - and it's one of the few times you'll see this body language displayed in this, or any president's personal space (intimate space).

12/ Summary: While we don't know what President Trump said to retired Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, we can be absolutely sure it has profound ramifications. Kennedy was taken aback/shocked.

continued ...

13/ The justice then grew self-righteous and angry. This nonverbal exchange is highly-consistent with Kennedy believing that a promise had been broken.


Shannon Bunting

Replying to @DrGJackBrown
What do you think of Kavanaugh pushing his wife back in such a flippant way? And it seems to me like she was afraid to look him in the eye. She looked at him and then quickly away.

Melissa Jo Peltier

Do you have video of this? Didn’t see (couldn’t watch. )

Dr. Jack Brown (linked in orginal tweet) ... 9621966848
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:38 pm

Congressional Democrats plan to launch inquiry into Trump’s alleged role in scheme to silence affair accusations

President Trump's claims about Michael Cohen, Obama and campaign finance laws | Fact Checker

House Democrats plan to make President Trump’s alleged involvement in a 2016 scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with him a major investigative focus this fall, picking up where federal prosecutors left off in a case legal experts say could have led to additional indictments.

The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in hush-money payments to ex-

Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels as soon as October, according to people familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

Democrats say they believe there is already enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator in the episode that resulted in his former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to two campaign finance charges.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for those counts and other crimes, testified under oath that Trump directed the payments that helped land him behind bars. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also described Trump’s alleged role in the scheme, referring to him in court papers as “Individual-1.” But they concluded their investigation this summer without bringing any additional charges.

The hush-money inquiry will open a new chapter in the House’s months-long consideration of whether to draft articles of impeachment against the president.

More than 130 House Democrats have called for an official impeachment inquiry to begin, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has cautioned that trying to remove Trump would be divisive and politically risky without public support.

The new congressional inquiry will reopen questions about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the episode — and whether he would have been charged if not for Justice Department opinions that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

“The fingerprints are all over this one — it’s not like a big mystery,” said Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary panel. “As with the evidence of presidential obstruction of justice, the conclusion seems inescapable: that [Trump] would have been tried had he been anybody else. And now it’s left to Congress again to figure out what to do with the lawbreaking and apparent impunity of the president.”

Trump, his aides and attorneys have made contradictory statements about the president’s knowledge of the payments. But his lawyers have repeatedly denied that Trump committed wrongdoing.

“No campaign violations were engaged in by the president,” said Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney.

As part of the probe, Democrats plan to explore whether the investigation was stymied or obstructed. The Judiciary Committee is also considering as a potential witness David Pecker, the chairman and CEO of American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, which admitted making the payment to McDougal.

AMI complied with a document request Democrats made earlier this year, giving the committee all communications it previously turned over to law enforcement, according to the people familiar with the inquiry.

a close up of Donald Trump smiling and posing for the camera: Stormy Daniels, left, and Karen McDougal, right, have claimed they had affairs with President Trump.© Markus Schreiber;Jabin Botsford;Dimitrios Kambouris/Markus Schreiber/AP;Jabin Botsford/The Washingto... Stormy Daniels, left, and Karen McDougal, right, have claimed they had affairs with President Trump. A lawyer for Pecker, Elkan Abramowitz, declined to comment. AMI declined to comment.

The conclusion of the campaign finance investigation this summer surprised some former federal prosecutors and legal experts, who noted that other participants in the alleged scheme were granted immunity or non-prosecution agreements, which often signal that the case is focused on additional targets.

“It’s inconceivable Michael Cohen acted alone … what happened?” said Duncan Levin, a former prosecutor for the Justice Department and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. “When you have one of the most important, sensitive investigations into the president and his family and his company, and then when you unexpectedly drop it, it is going to raise a lot of questions.”

A Justice Department spokesman in Washington referred questions to the U.S. attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York, which declined to comment.

It remains to be seen how far congressional Democrats will be able to get in their inquiry. So far, Trump and his administration have succeeded in blocking many of the House oversight investigations, refusing to provide information and challenging subpoenas in court.

When the House returns to session next week, the Judiciary panel plans to continue focusing on five episodes of potential obstruction of justice by the president outlined in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s lengthy report this spring. Democrats have argued that Trump would have been charged with obstruction in those five instances were he not president.

The hush-money payments represent a sixth instance of potentially impeachable presidential misbehavior, they say.

The scheme began in the final months of the 2016 campaign, when Cohen has said there was building fear in Trump’s inner circle that McDougal and Daniels would go public with allegations that they had sexual encounters with Trump years earlier.

Cohen told prosecutors that “in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump, he worked with Pecker to pay $150,000 to McDougal as part of a “catch and kill” operation. He also said he worked “in coordination” with the then-GOP presidential candidate to arrange a $130,000 payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Trump and his aides initially denied knowing about the payments — and then offered shifting explanations for their purpose.

“We have no knowledge of any of this,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in November 2016, after the Wall Street Journal reported on the payment to McDougal.

After the Journal reported on the existence of the Daniels payment early last year, a reporter on Air Force One asked the president: “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?”

“No,” Trump responded .

“Then why did Michael Cohen make [the payment], if there was no truth to her allegations?” a reporter asked.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said.

The following month, however, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said that the president reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Daniels, adding that Trump “didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know.”

But Cohen said in federal court and before Congress that Trump directed the payments.

In testimony before the House Oversight Committee in February, Cohen said Trump had assured him in an Oval Office meeting that he would take care of Cohen’s debt related to Daniels, which Cohen had financed through a line of credit.

Cohen displayed what he said were reimbursement checks for the $130,000 payment to Daniels — one dated Aug. 1, 2017, which he said was signed by the president; the other from March 17, 2017, which he said was signed by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer.

“I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later,” he said.

Federal prosecutors also implicated Trump in the hush-

money scheme, noting in court filings before Cohen’s sentencing that the former Trump lawyer “admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” a reference to the president.

The payments essentially functioned as in-kind donations to Trump’s presidential campaign, prosecutors said. The money paid to McDougal by National Enquirer parent company AMI violated a ban on corporate contributions, while the money that Cohen directed to Daniels constituted an excessive campaign contribution, they alleged .

Prosecutors also released a non-prosecution agreement struck with AMI, in which the company said it knowingly acted “in concert” with Trump’s campaign to silence the women and did not notify the Federal Election Commission of the election-related payments.

Prosecutors said AMI officials knew “expenditures by corporations, made for purposes of influencing an election and in coordination with or at the request of a candidate or campaign, are unlawful,” the agreement said.

The document acknowledged that AMI’s main purpose was “to suppress the model’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election,” the agreement said.

As part of the deal, AMI agreed to cooperate with any law enforcement agency pursuing the matter and to train executives and editorial employees on election laws and their application to media operations.

In addition, federal prosecutors secured the cooperation of Weisselberg, who testified before a grand jury. But no further charges were filed.

In July, the federal judge supervising the case, William H. Pauley III, said that “the government has effectively concluded its investigations” of who besides Cohen was involved.

The Manhattan district attorney picked up an aspect of the case, issuing subpoenas in August to the Trump Organization about the money paid to Daniels as part of an inquiry into whether the Trump Organization falsified business records.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Futerfas, declined to comment.

It remains unknown whether federal prosecutors would have sought to charge Trump if not for Justice Department legal opinions concluding that indicting a sitting president could interfere with the office’s unique constitutional responsibilities. In part because of those opinions, Mueller decided that he could not even consider whether to charge Trump in his obstruction-of-

justice inquiry.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers called it “troublesome” that the campaign finance case ended without providing more answers, arguing that “it would disserve the public interest if the Justice Department did not eventually disclose who else was party to Michael Cohen’s crime.”

“There is clear evidence that one or more people participated in Cohen’s crime,” he said. “We just don’t know who they are and whether they are subject to investigation and could still be prosecuted.”

Karl Sandstrom, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, said that based on his review of the matter, prosecutors in Manhattan had an “exceedingly strong case.” He questioned why they did not pursue others involved.

“They saw fit to put Michael Cohen in jail,” he said. “Why aren’t the people who authorized and paid for this culpable?”

In announcing the conclusion of the investigation, Pauley immediately released documents that were previously under seal, saying every citizen should have “an opportunity to scrutinize the materials” in a case of “national importance.”

House Democrats saw his comments as an indication that they should pick up the investigation, according to aides familiar with their investigative plans.

The Judiciary panel is now eyeing Pecker and AMI as potential sources of new information. The committee this summer authorized subpoenas for Pecker, a close Trump confidant for years, and National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard, who also cooperated with federal prosecutors.

Documents released by Pauley show that after The Washington Post published a recording in ­October 2016 in which Trump bragged about groping women, Cohen exchanged “a series” of messages and calls with Pecker, Howard, Trump and Daniels’s attorney, among others.

The documents included notes of an FBI agent that stated, “Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public.”

As part of the probe, Democrats are expected to put a spotlight on Trump’s evolving explanations about what he knew of the scheme, according to the people familiar with the strategy. They also hope to review a Justice Department decision to end the hush-money query by pressing Attorney General William P. Barr about it directly in a future hearing. ... os?index=6

House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler announced the Committee has served a subpoena on the Department of Homeland Security for docs relating to "the President's multiple alleged attempts to offer pardons to officials carrying out his illegal and cruel immigration policies."
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:57 pm

Donald Trump Has Never Explained a Mysterious $50 Million Loan. Is It Evidence of Tax Fraud?
A Mother Jones investigation has uncovered new information about a puzzling Trump deal.

Russ Choma
31 mins ago

Donald Trump’s massive debts—he owes hundreds of millions of dollars—are the subject of continuous congressional and journalistic scrutiny. But for years, one Trump loan has been particularly mystifying: a debt of more than $50 million that Trump claims he owes to one of his own companies. According to tax and financial experts, the loan, which Trump has never fully explained, might be part of a controversial tax avoidance scheme known as debt parking. Yet a Mother Jones investigation has uncovered information that raises questions about the very existence of this loan, presenting the possibility that this debt was concocted as a ploy to evade income taxes—a move that could constitute tax fraud.

Here’s what is publicly known about this mystery debt: On the personal financial disclosure forms that Trump must file each year as president, he has divulged that he owes “over $50 million” to a company called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. The forms note that this entity is fully owned by Trump. In other words, Trump owes a large chunk of money to a company he controls.

“We don’t assess any value to it because we don’t care,” Trump said of the loan. “I have the mortgage. That is all there is. Very simple. I am the bank.”
The disclosures state that this loan is connected to Trump’s hotel and tower in Chicago, and the forms reveal puzzling details about Chicago Unit Acquisition: It earns no revenue—suggesting that Trump was not paying interest or principal on the loan—and Trump assigns virtually no value to Chicago Unit Acquisition. Something doesn’t add up. Under basic accounting principles, a firm that is owed money and has no outstanding debt should be worth at least as much as it is owed. The loan has another odd feature: It is identified as a “springing” loan, a type of loan made to borrowers who are viewed as credit risks. Known sometimes as “bad boy” loans, these agreements allow the lender to impose harsh repayment terms if certain criteria aren’t met. These are not the type of loan terms that someone is likely to impose on himself.

The Trump Organization has consistently refused to answer questions about Chicago Unit Acquisition, a limited liability company it formed in Delaware in 2005, as construction began on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Chicago. But Trump did tell the New York Times in a 2016 interview that this debt represents a loan he repurchased from a group of lenders. “We don’t assess any value to it because we don’t care,” Trump said. “I have the mortgage. That is all there is. Very simple. I am the bank.” Jason Greenblatt, who was then the Trump Organization’s top lawyer, declined to explain to the Times the reason for the Chicago Unit Acquisition deal. “It’s really personal corporate trade secrets, if you will,” he said. “Neither newsworthy or frankly anybody’s business.”

Trump has not publicly identified the creditors from whom he bought this loan. But a 2008 lawsuit Trump filed in connection with the Chicago project—a case that produced voluminous records detailing the financing of this venture—suggests two possibilities. The majority of the hotel and tower project was bankrolled by Trump’s lender of choice, Deutsche Bank, which gave him a $640 million loan. Fortress Investment Group, a New York City-based hedge fund, provided Trump an additional $130 million in financing. (Two other firms, Cerberus Capital Management and Dune Capital Management, partnered with Fortress on this loan.) According to court records, these were the only loans associated with the construction and development of Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago.

Trump’s Chicago project quickly became a financial debacle—hence the lawsuit. The 2008 financial crisis struck as the project neared completion, and Trump, saddled with nearly $800 million in debt, was in jeopardy of defaulting on a $330 million payment he owed to Deutsche Bank in November that year.

To fend off his biggest creditor, Trump attempted a brazen legal gambit. He sued Deutsche Bank, accusing the firm of causing the housing crisis and economic meltdown that was supposedly inhibiting his ability to sell units in the Chicago project and repay his debts. Eventually, Trump settled his financial differences with Deutsche by repaying some of the money he owed the bank and refinancing the rest through the bank’s private banking arm, according to records filed with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. That is, Trump took out a new loan through Deutsche’s private bank to cover his debt to the firm’s commercial lending side. This transaction apparently did not involve purchasing any debt, suggesting the debt that Trump claims to have bought could not be from the Deutsche Bank loan. That leaves the Fortress debt.

Donald Trump looks at his 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower with his children—(from left) Eric, Ivanka, and Donald Jr.—in Chicago in 2007.
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
In March 2012, as Trump resolved his dispute with Deutsche Bank, he finalized a separate deal with Fortress and its partners to clear his debt with them. According to a source with direct knowledge of the deal who spoke to Mother Jones, Fortress ultimately agreed to accept 50 cents on the dollar—or about $48 million—for the outstanding debt (which by that time amounted to just under $100 million). This was a steep loss for the hedge fund and its partners. The question is whether the deal was what’s known as a “discounted payoff”—in which the debt was considered repaid and the loan was canceled by the lender—or whether Trump purchased what remained of the loan. That distinction has enormous implications.

When a lender forgives a portion of a loan, the IRS considers the unpaid portion taxable income. For instance, if a lender accepts $50 million in repayment of a $100 million debt, the borrower, in the eyes of federal tax authorities, has earned $50 million and owes tax on that. The tax could be as high as 39 percent. But big-time borrowers have devised a tactic to forestall paying taxes in cases in which they’re able to buy back their debt at a discount. They purchase the debt through a corporation, parking the loan within this entity to temporarily avoid realizing income. Debt parking falls into a legal gray area. “Maybe there are respectable ways that it could work, but I would call it kind of a scam to pretend you haven’t gotten rid of the debt,” says Daniel Shaviro, a professor of tax law at New York University.

Debt parking can be permissible as long as the borrower intends to repay the loan. Parking debt indefinitely with no intention to repay it, however, violates federal tax law, according to tax experts.

“If he didn’t actually buy the loan, this is just garden-variety fraud,” says Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin.
For that reason, Trump’s comment to the Times that “we don’t care” about the loan raised a red flag for several tax experts consulted by Mother Jones. They wondered whether this was an admission that he has no intention of repaying the loan—an implication reinforced by Trump’s disclosures showing Chicago Unit Acquisition generates no revenue and has practically no value. And debt parking that essentially places a loan into suspended animation indefinitely would not be considered legal, according to these tax experts.

But the story of Trump’s mystery loan gets even more complicated. According to two sources with direct knowledge of the disposition of the Fortress loan, Fortress did not sell Trump this loan. Instead, according to these sources, Fortress canceled the debt after Trump paid about half of it. “The transaction that Donald Trump did with the lender was a discounted payoff and not a purchase of the loan—I know that for sure,” a person involved with the deal tells Mother Jones. That means there may have been no loan to buy, no debt to park; Trump might have invented a loan—and then parked it.

Fortress declined to comment on the Trump loan. Representatives of Cerberus Capital Management and Dune Real Estate Partners (which took over the business once run by Dune Capital Management) did not respond to requests for comment.

To recap: Trump claims he bought a debt related to his Chicago venture, but neither of the two loans associated with this property appear to have been purchased. The Deutsche Bank loan was refinanced. The Fortress debt, according to sources with knowledge of the transaction, was canceled. And this raises a question: Did Trump create a bogus loan to evade a whopping tax bill on about $48 million of income?

Several legal and real estate finance experts say it’s possible to fabricate a loan. Doing so would be as easy as creating some paperwork and declaring the debt on your tax returns, though such a scheme would also violate federal tax law.

“When you see it, if you lay all this out, it’s pretty brazen,” says Adam Levitin, a law professor specializing in commercial real estate finance at Georgetown University. “If he didn’t actually buy the loan, this is just garden-variety fraud.”

Most loans are documented in public records, but Mother Jones could locate no documentation of a loan owned by Chicago Unit Acquisition. The Cook County Recorder of Deeds has records concerning the original Deutsche Bank loan for the Chicago project; the Deutsche Bank loan that replaced it; and the Fortress loan. But the Recorder of Deeds has no filings related to Chicago Unit Acquisition.

Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Chicago
benkrut / Getty
Not all loans are tied to property and require registration with local authorities. In those cases, a filing called a Uniform Commercial Code financing statement is typically made. This is a publicly available legal form in which a creditor states its interest in the event of a loan default. The $130 million Fortress loan had a UCC statement filed in Delaware in 2005. Fortress filed a notice that this loan agreement was terminated—it does not specify how—in March 2012. A search of records in New York (where the Trump Organization is based), Illinois (where the hotel is located). and Delaware (where Chicago Unit Acquisition is registered) found no UCC records related to Chicago Unit Acquisition.

Levitin and Steven Schwarcz, a law and business professor at Duke University, say it’s not totally unheard of for a company to skip filing a UCC statement in cases where one branch of a firm is loaning money to another. But Levitin says that submitting a UCC statement is standard practice in most scenarios where there is a large amount of collateral at stake.

Could the Chicago Unit Acquisition loan be legitimate? The tax and real estate experts interviewed by Mother Jones had a difficult time explaining what this transaction could be. And the Trump Organization offered no explanations of its own. The company did not respond to a detailed list of questions from Mother Jones regarding Chicago Unit Acquisition and this loan. Nor did the White House.

Trump has a track record of pushing the envelope when it comes to paying—or not paying—taxes. In a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigation examining the origins of the president’s fortune, the New York Times reported in 2018 that “President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents.”

Breaking with a four-decade precedent for presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns, which would shed light on the tax strategies he has employed over the years. But the release of Trump’s returns alone would probably not solve the Chicago Unit Acquisition mystery. Nor would a standard IRS audit.

“It would take a forensic audit,” says Martin Lobel, a prominent tax lawyer based in Washington, DC. “It is very labor intensive, and it takes someone who has years of experience to spot the problem areas.” This type of audit would entail combing methodically through every shred of paperwork underpinning Trump’s financial claims. And Lobel and other tax experts Mother Jones interviewed are dubious that the IRS would mount this type of audit on a sitting president. “The IRS is not going to look too closely at Trump’s tax returns,” Lobel says.

But congressional Democrats, if they have their way, intend to do just that. In May, the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed the IRS to hand over six years of Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into the agency’s presidential audit program. By law, the IRS must annually audit the returns of a serving president and vice president, but, as the panel’s chair, Richard Neal (D-Mass.), wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed, it’s not clear how much scrutiny these reviews entail. “Neither Congress nor the public knows anything about the scope of those audits and whether the president can exert undue influence on the IRS to affect his or her tax treatment,” Neal wrote. “If, for example, the president is already under audit at the time he or she takes office, what happens to that audit? We don’t know. My committee will consider legislation regarding the mandatory audit program to ensure these audits are conducted fairly and without undue influence from the commander in chief. And, as part of our deliberations, we must review his tax information to better understand the audit program and propose any needed changes.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a senior Democratic member of the committee, says the tax returns could reveal how Trump does business, including if he and his company have employed dubious tax strategies. “Lying and tax avoidance appear to be a way of life for Trump,” he notes. “His tax returns could indicate the role tax-dodging plays in Trump’s overall business strategy. Perhaps this is another reason why Trump and his Republican enablers are so intent on defying the law to keep them hidden.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, has so far rebuffed the Ways and Means Committee’s efforts to obtain Trump’s returns. In July, the panel sued the Treasury Department and the IRS to force them to comply. In a recent court filing, the committee revealed a tantalizing bit of information about its inquiry: A whistleblower had come forward with “credible allegations of ‘evidence of possible misconduct’—specifically, potential ‘inappropriate efforts to influence’ the mandatory audit program.”

Trump’s finances are currently the subject of multiple inquiries in his home state of New York. Following the New York Times investigation of the questionable tax schemes employed by Trump and his family, a spokesperson for the New York Department of Taxation and Finance said the agency was “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.” New York Attorney General Letitia James has also been scrutinizing the financing of several Trump projects. This investigation was sparked by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who told Congress earlier this year that Trump had inflated his assets on financial statements used to secure loans. In March, James subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank concerning multiple Trump ventures, including the Trump Chicago project. Her office declined to comment on whether it had subpoenaed Fortress or planned to do so in the future, but James tells Mother Jones in a statement: “My office takes any allegations of significant tax fraud seriously. No one is above the law—not even the president of the United States.” ... tax-fraud/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:33 pm

House Democrats have Deutsche Bank’s financial records, and that they’re already deep into identifying the Russian money laundering transactions.

Trump is trying to ‘extort’ Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election

Exclusive: U.S. congressional probe finds possible lapses in Deutsche Bank controls - sources
LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. congressional investigators have identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG’s (DBKGn.D) money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, after the lender handed over a trove of transaction records, emails and other documents, three people familiar with the matter said.

The congressional inquiry found instances where Deutsche Bank staff in the United States and elsewhere flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions involving existing ones, but were ignored by managers, two of the people said.

Lawmakers are also examining whether Deutsche Bank facilitated the funneling of illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank, where it processes transactions for others, one of the sources said.

The congressional probe, whose initial findings have not been previously reported, is at an early stage, and it is not yet clear whether it will lead to any action against the bank, the three sources said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman, Troy Gravitt, said the bank cannot comment on the work of the congressional committees but remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.

Addressing past deficiencies in the bank’s controls, the spokesman said: “We have worked to address them, taken disciplinary measures with regards to certain individuals and reviewed our client onboarding and monitoring processes.”

The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee declined to comment.

The Democrat-controlled House began examining possible money laundering in U.S. property deals involving President Donald Trump, a Republican, earlier this year. The lawmakers are also looking into whether Trump’s dealings left him subject to the influence of foreign individuals or governments.

The White House and a Trump Organization spokeswoman, Amanda Miller, did not respond to requests for comment.

Deutsche Bank has been drawn into the inquiry as Trump’s biggest lender and submitted documents to investigators in response to a subpoena.

The stakes are high for the German lender, which is trying to engineer a turnaround under Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing after a multi-year bet on building a global investment banking business unraveled.

Graham Barrow, a financial crime consultant, said that while the bank had since sought to reform, it had taken too many risks in countries such as Russia.

“The bank decided to go for becoming a global investment bank,” Barrow said. “They were compromised.”

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Barrow’s view.

In 2017, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay regulators in the United States and Britain $630 million in fines for organizing $10 billion in sham trades that could have been used to launder money out of Russia. Two of the sources said that the preliminary findings of the congressional investigators may have some overlap with that case but also include lapses unrelated to that matter.

New evidence thrown up by the congressional probe could feed into further investigations by other authorities, regulatory experts said.

The headquarters of Germany's Deutsche Bank is photographed early evening in Frankfurt, Germany, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo
If evidence of wrongdoing is found, it could also harm the bank’s efforts to strengthen its relationships with U.S. regulators and deter investors concerned about the possibility of future regulatory sanctions. Deutsche Bank’s shares hit an all-time low last month.


Earlier this year, the House Financial Services Committee served a 12-page subpoena on Deutsche Bank. Reuters has seen a version with portions blacked out.

Lawmakers requested documents that identify “any financial relationship, transactions, or ties” between Trump, his family members and his companies and “any foreign individual, entity, or government”, according to the subpoena.

It also asks for hundreds of documents relating to other bank clients, including Russian oligarchs, the three sources said. These documents include account applications, know-your-client money laundering checks, internal assessments of “suspicious activity”, as well as information about loans and mortgages, according to the subpoena.

Although Trump has challenged the release of his banking records in court, in April Deutsche started handing over information that is not directly related to the president and is continuing to do so, one of the people said.

That includes material prepared by bank staff for filing so-called suspicious activity reports to the U.S. Treasury Department and documents about Russian deals circulated among the bank’s management and reputational risk committee, one person said.

The bank has also assembled a large amount of the subpoenaed Trump material, pending the court’s decision on whether it should be released, the three people said.

The House Financial Services Committee will continue its investigation of Deutsche Bank’s money laundering processes regardless of whether the court rules the lender should hand over the Trump documents to investigators, three sources familiar with the investigation said.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball, Matt Scuffham and John O'Donnell; editing by Paritosh Bansal and Grant McCool ... SKCN1VR0PX

Air Force crew made an odd stop on a routine trip: Trump’s Scottish resort
Now the layover is part of a broader House inquiry into military spending at and around the Trump property.

Trump Turnberry
President Donald Trump gives a press conference at his Trump Turnberry Resort in June 2016. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies.

What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.

Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

The inquiry is part of a broader, previously unreported probe into U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.

Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.

“The Defense Department has not produced a single document in this investigation,” said a senior Democratic aide on the oversight panel. “The committee will be forced to consider alternative steps if the Pentagon does not begin complying voluntarily in the coming days.”

The Pentagon, Air Force and White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.

But on this particular trip, the plane landed in Glasgow — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.

Had the crew needed to make a stop in the U.K., Lakenheath Air Base is situated nearby in England. The layover might have been cheaper, too: the military gets billed at a higher rate for fuel at commercial airports.

One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel — markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to — that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort.

The revelation that an Air Force mission may have helped line the president’s pockets comes days after Vice President Mike Pence was pressed about his decision to stay at Trump’s property in Doonbeg, Ireland, despite its location hundreds of miles away from his meetings in Dublin. The Oversight Committee is also investigating Pence’s stay at the resort.

Accusations that Trump’s properties are unfairly profiting off of his administration have dogged the president since entering office. Ethics officials and lawmakers have raised concerns about foreign officials staying at Trump hotels, and noted that Trump supporters and industry groups regularly throw bashes at Trump-owned locations. Trump is also considering hosting next year’s Group of Seven gathering of world leaders at his Doral resort in Florida, a potential financial boon for the property, and has previously stayed at the Turnberry property.

But the potential involvement of the military takes the issue to a different level.

A senior Air Force official who was previously stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska — where the C-17 crew was based — said choosing to refuel in Glasgow and stay at a posh property a half hour away would be unusual for such a mission. Typically, the official said, air crews stay on a military base while in transit or at nearby lodgings “unless all the hotels are booked or there is a Scottish sheep festival going on.”

The official, who was not aware of the specific allegations, also said that the mid-level officers or senior enlisted airmen commonly responsible for identifying lodging for the personnel are notoriously frugal and try to stay where their government allowance covers the costs.

“Master sergeants are cheap,” he said.

Several weeks after being alerted to the curious overnight stop, the Oversight Committee wrote a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking for documents related to Defense Department expenditures at Trump Turnberry and the nearby Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

The letter, signed by signed by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), notes that U.S. military expenditures at the airport “appear to have increased substantially since the election.”

Prestwick Airport has long been debt-ridden. The Scottish government bought it in 2013 for £1, but it has continued to lose money in the years since. In June, the government announced its intent to sell the airport, which the panel’s letter described as “integral” to the success of the Turnberry property, 30 miles away.

Because of that, the lawmakers argued that the spending at the airport — in addition to the spending at the Trump property — raises concerns about conflicts of interest and possible violations of the domestic emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from receiving any compensation from the federal government other than his salary. After being elected, Trump chose not to fully divest himself from his business interests, choosing instead to put his holdings in a trust that he can receive money from at any time.

The letter asks the Pentagon for all communications between the Defense and State Departments related to “per diem” allowances in Scotland, as well as “all pre-audit flags related to air crew travel” through the Prestwick Airport and Turnberry resort, “or travel allowances beyond the normal allocations in the Defense Travel System.”

Connor O’Brien contributed to this report. ... at-1484337

The Secret Files of the Master of Modern Republican Gerrymandering
David Daley

Newly obtained records and e-mails show that Thomas Hofeller collected data about the voting patterns of Americans based on their race.
Thomas Hofeller preached secrecy as he remapped American politics from the shadows. The Republican Party operative, known as the master of the modern gerrymander, trained other G.O.P. operatives and legislators nationwide to secure their computer networks, guard access to their maps, and never send e-mails that they didn’t want to see published by the news media. In training sessions for state legislators and junior line drawers, he used a PowerPoint presentation that urged them to “avoid recklessness” and “always be discreet,” and warned that “emails are the tool of the devil.”

Hofeller did not follow his own advice. Before his death, in August, 2018, he saved at least seventy thousand files and several years of e-mails. A review of those records and e-mails—which were recently obtained first by The New Yorker—raises new questions about whether Hofeller unconstitutionally used race data to draw North Carolina’s congressional districts, in 2016. They also suggest that Hofeller was deeply involved in G.O.P. mapmaking nationwide, and include new trails for more potential lawsuits challenging Hofeller’s work, similar to the one on Wednesday which led to the overturning of his state legislative maps in North Carolina.

Hofeller’s files include dozens of intensely detailed studies of North Carolina college students, broken down by race and cross-referenced against the state driver’s-license files to determine whether these students likely possessed the proper I.D. to vote. The studies are dated 2014 and 2015, the years before Hofeller helped Republicans in the state redraw its congressional districts in ways that voting-rights groups said discriminated on the basis of race. North Carolina Republicans said that the maps discriminated based on partisanship but not race. Hofeller’s hard drive also retained a map of North Carolina’s 2017 state judicial gerrymander, with an overlay of the black voting-age population by district, suggesting that these maps—which are currently at the center of a protracted legal battle—might also be a racial gerrymander.

Other files provide new details about Hofeller’s work for Republicans across the country. Hofeller collected data on the citizen voting-age population in North Carolina, Texas, and Arizona, among other states, as far back as 2011. Hofeller was part of a Republican effort to add a citizenship question to the census, which would have allowed political parties to obtain more precise citizenship data ahead of the 2020 redistricting cycle. State legislative lines could then have been drawn based on the number of citizen voters, which Hofeller believed would make it easier to pack Democrats and minorities into fewer districts, giving an advantage to Republicans.

Other documents show that Hofeller was hired by a Massachusetts Republican who sought to use the Voting Rights Act provision for majority/minority seats to draw a single district containing all of Boston, so that Republicans could make inroads into an otherwise entirely Democratic congressional delegation. Hofeller drew several sets of maps, but the effort went nowhere. Additional files document his work in Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia, among other states.

E-mails also connect Hofeller to redistricting efforts in Florida. Top Republican officials in the state have denied that they played any official role in drawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts in 2011. A 2010 state constitutional amendment barred partisan gerrymandering in Florida. E-mails show that Hofeller communicated with and visited top G.O.P. political operatives in Florida in 2011. The operatives helped organize or draw state legislative and congressional maps that matched the districts that were later enacted. The operatives insisted, at a trial, that drawing the maps was only a hobby. A Florida judge found that argument unconvincing, concluding that the G.O.P. conducted a stealth redistricting operation that snuck partisan maps into the public process and made a “mockery” of the state’s constitutional amendments.

The files mostly pertain to Hofeller’s work in North Carolina, where he drew—and defended in court—the state’s legislative and congressional maps multiple times, after judges ruled them to be either unconstitutionally partisan or racial gerrymanders. The congressional lines that he helped draw in 2016 were struck down by a federal court as a partisan gerrymander; that decision was vacated this past June, in a 5–4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Perhaps one of the clearest and ugliest gerrymanders in North Carolina—or in the entire nation—is the congressional-district line that cuts in half the nation’s largest historically black college, North Carolina A&T State University, in Greensboro. The district line divided this majority minority campus—and the city—so precisely that it all but guarantees it will be represented in Congress by two Republicans for years to come. North Carolina Republicans have long denied that this line, between the state’s Sixth and Thirteenth Congressional Districts, was intentionally drawn to dilute black voting power, which would be a violation of the constitutional prohibition against racial gerrymandering.

A map of Greensboro shows precincts color-coded by race and age.
Hofeller’s files, though, show that he created giant databases that detailed the racial makeup, voting patterns, and residence halls of more than a thousand North Carolina A&T students. He also collected similar data that tracked the race, voting patterns, and addresses of tens of thousands of other North Carolina college students. Some spreadsheets have more than fifty different fields with precise racial, gender, and geographic details on thousands of college voters.

A spreadsheet named “NC College Voters for ZIP ID” contains voter data for more than 23,100 North Carolina university students, including thousands in Greensboro. The detail for the North Carolina A&T students is precise: students are sorted by residence hall. That means that Hofeller knew which A&T students lived in Aggie Village, on the north side of campus, and which resided in Morrow or Vanstory Halls, on the south side—along with a detailed racial breakdown and information about their voting status. As Hofeller sought to create two reliably Republican congressional districts, his computer contained information on the precise voting tendencies of one of the largest concentrations of black voters in the area.

And if Hofeller cross-referenced that spreadsheet against another included on his hard drive, this one saved as “80 pct College Voters on Non-Match List”—which identified 5,429 North Carolina college students who appeared to lack the necessary I.D. required to cast a ballot at the time he drew the congressional maps—he could have crafted this line along Laurel Street, with even greater specificity about who would and would not be likely to vote.


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North Carolina Republicans have admitted that the maps were intentionally drawn to lock in a partisan advantage, but not to harm minority groups. It is difficult to determine from a review of the files exactly how Hofeller used the data on race, but the documents serve as proof that he possessed the data and incorporated it into his decision-making.

His hard drive contained maps of Greensboro with the titles “Greensboro Master Race,” “Greensboro - Pct Blk - City Only VAP,” “Greensboro 45+ BVAP Compactness” and “Greensboro 50+ BVAP Compactness.” (VAP is short for “voting-age population,” and BVAP is an abbreviation for “black voting-age population.”) The “Greensboro Master Race” file contains a color-coded map that shows the city’s black population, age eighteen and older, by precinct.

Two files on Hofeller’s computer —“NC Juducial [sic] 2017 — stats” and “NC Judicial 2017 — Map”—break down the state’s eleven judiciary districts with race data. A PDF of a spreadsheet file shows that mapmakers constructed a file with partisan and racial information, including the percentage of Republican voters in each district, but also a column labelled “% 18+_AP_Black.” Those percentages are then overlaid on a color-coded map by district.

Hofeller also appears to have intensively researched the impact of the state’s voter-I.D. laws. In 2013, Republicans passed one of the strictest voter-I.D. laws in the country, which rejected forms of identification typically used by students, government employees, and racial minorities. It also cut the number of early-voting days by a week and put an end to same-day voter registration during that period. Hofeller created spreadsheets listing the voters, college students, and racial minorities who lacked driver’s licenses.

He appears to have gathered much of this information after the state N.A.A.C.P. challenged North Carolina’s stringent voter I.D. law. Hofeller worked with the Republican legal team that was defending the law. In February, 2014, Hofeller wrote to a Republican attorney about an effort to match North Carolina’s master voter-registration file against the driver’s-license base to see which voters might be affected by the I.D. law. The team also looked to compare that information against that of the closest Department of Motor Vehicles offices.

Hofeller’s files included careful studies of voting patterns by race.
“After the addresses are standardized and geo-coded for all three files, the next step will be a determination of the distance from each voter address to both the nearest DMV office and nearest in-county early voter center,” Hofeller wrote, on February 4, 2014, according to the letter from his files. “After geocoding and distance computations are completed, the extracted, augmented voter information can be merged back into the full voter database. Then we will be able to perform the required analyses.”

This letter from 2014 also suggests widening the scope of the project to test for citizenship. Hofeller asks, “Do we wish to link up with the DMV to match the list of voters, with state IDs, against the federal citizenship file to check for non-citizens?”

In the letter, Hofeller estimated that the data costs would be around seven thousand five hundred dollars, and he capped his fee at sixteen thousand dollars, or two hundred dollars an hour, for a maximum of eighty hours. “This will include project management and the production of tables and maps,” he wrote, but, noting that the matter could end in court, he wrote that “everyone needs to understand” that giving depositions or attending trial would be billed at three hundred and twenty-five dollars an hour.

Hofeller invoiced the Republican attorney and others, including national Republican organizations, for tens of thousands of dollars between 2011 and 2017. He often applied what he called a “professional discount.” In an August, 2011, e-mail to another Republican in North Carolina, Hofeller wrote, “I would propose billing this as a flat rate of $36,000 for the four-month period—unless you want the billing to show actual hours. If the issue comes up in deposition or court, we will not then be faced with details, but rather with a flat rate of $9,000 per month.”

More than two dozen PowerPoint presentations in Hofeller’s files show how he travelled the nation throughout 2009, 2010, and 2011, instilling the importance of redistricting in conversations with state legislators. He wrote memos to Party leaders warning them of potential issues that could interfere with the G.O.P. redistricting strategy, including one that cautioned against repeating mistakes made in Colorado. “We had to end very promising litigation in Colorado in the middle of the past decade because we ran out of money,” he wrote. “Once again, the GOP is being hampered by lack of litigation funding. One to three congressional districts could be at stake in addition to our ability to control the legislature.”

Hofeller also encouraged Republicans to send public comments to the Census Bureau to urge it to continue to allow prison gerrymandering. The practice, which generally aids Republicans, counts inmates as residents of the community where their prison is located, not where their home address states they reside. But prisoners who are convicted felons are often barred from voting. “The Bureau should not engage in a adjustment of the census counts when the actual effect on reapportionment and redistricting is not clearly known for individual states,” he wrote. “This change is being encouraged by Democratic or Liberal organizations.”

E-mails also show that Hofeller worried that his redistricting handiwork could be undone by an anti-Trump wave in 2016 that handed state legislatures to Democrats. On September 6, 2016, Ryder e-mailed Hofeller a story from The Hill about Democratic efforts down-ballot. Hofeller’s reply: “Yes, maybe our redistricting ace card will be ‘trumped’ to use a bridge analogy.”

In an August, 2016, e-mail to a consultant to California Senate Republicans, Hofeller expressed frustration about Trump’s hold over the Party, and confidence that his maps would survive any blue wave. “Meanwhile the GOP continues to bury its collective heads in the sand or in other higher places. Trump is only a product to this stupidity,” he wrote. “Do not worry about us in North Carolina in terms of redistricting. Even in the coming political bloodbath we should still maintain majority control of the General Assembly. The Governor cannot veto a redistricting map, so the Democrats hope is that the Obamista judiciary will come to their rescue.”

E-mails suggest that Hofeller’s commitment to the Republican cause never wavered. The day after receiving a grim prognosis for lung cancer and a kidney tumor, Hofeller wrote a friend that he didn’t plan to slow down. “I still have time to bedevil the Democrats with more redistricting plans before I exit,” he wrote, on May 21st. “Look my name up on the Internet and you can follow the damage.” ... ymandering

Josh Rudolph

.@washingtonpost has been "reliably told" that Trump is intentionally withholding a White House visit and US military aid "in an attempt to extort" the Ukrainian government into "intervening in the 2020 US presidential election" by investigating Joe Biden. ... 3139037184

BOMBSHELL: Trump is trying to ‘extort’ Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election
Published 2 hours ago on September 6, 2019 By Brad Reed
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The Washington Post editorial board published an alarming op-ed this week that claims President Donald Trump is trying to “extort” the government of Ukraine to help his 2020 presidential campaign dig up dirt on current Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.

According to the editorial, Trump so far has refused to grant new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a visit at the White House and has mulled suspending $250 million in military aid to the country.

While some critics of the administration have claimed that this move is designed to help Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Post’s editors claim they have knowledge that the president’s motives are even more nefarious.

“We’re reliably told that the president… is attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden,” the editors write. “Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine’s help with his presidential campaign; he is using U.S. military aid the country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it.”

The editorial also speculates that the White House may be holding a grudge against Ukraine after a Ukrainian legislator uncovered damning information about the activities of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has since been convicted on money laundering charges related to his work as a lobbyist in the country.

Read the whole editorial here. ... -election/

Lincoln's Bible

Mnuchin has a money-laundering industry to protect.

BIG: Treasury Dept proposes new regulations gutting donor disclosure by some 501(c) nonprofits—including politically active "dark money" groups—after federal court found IRS rule no longer requiring donors' names be reported in tax returns violated the law

Image ... 4227578883

IRS Proposes Changing Donor Disclosure Rule After Court Loss (1)
Posted Sept. 6, 2019, 12:05 PM Updated Sept. 6, 2019, 12:44 PM
The IRS proposed regulations to scrap a donor-disclosure requirement for certain nonprofit groups, a response to a federal judge saying in July that the agency’s previous attempt to do so didn’t follow the rules.

Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana said the IRS should have followed notice-and-comment requirements when changing the donor-disclosure requirement in 2018 guidance.

The IRS said its Sept. 6 proposed regulations (REG-102508-16) “provide the opportunity for notice and comment.” The rules apply to organizations exempt under tax code Section 501(c), except for 501(c)(3) charities and Section 527 political organizations, and free them from having to include the names and addresses of donors on tax forms.

The Administrative Procedure Act lays out notice-and-comment requirements, which add to the time it takes to make regulatory changes.

The agency also announced (Notice 2019-47) it will waive penalties for nonprofits that don’t report names and addresses of donors on their tax forms for the year ending on or after Dec. 31, 2018, and prior to July 30, 2019.

The court ruling had triggered taxpayer questions about filing requirements for the 2018 tax year, the IRS said.

Critics of the IRS rule change in 2018 said it would lead to a flood of dark money into the nonprofit sector. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) sued the IRS along with the Montana Department of Revenue.

Raph Graybill, chief legal counsel in Bullock’s office, said in a statement that Montana “looks forward to giving the IRS a better picture of the devastating impacts its rules could have on state tax agencies as well as efforts to prevent foreign influence in our elections.”

“We appreciate that the agency reversed from its prior course that excluded public comment,” Graybill said.

The organizations still must keep donor names and addresses on hand so that it is available upon IRS request. Contribution amounts are still reported.

To read more from Daily Tax Report ® please ... um=taxdesk


September 6, 2019/5 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel

The parties in the Roger Stone trial just released some pre-trial documents that include a stipulation for a bunch of emails and phone numbers that will be discussed at trial. (I’m not linking them because they’re not redacted.)

The big surprise — though I guess we should have expected this — is that Erik Prince is on there, which means he’s probably the Trump supporter eagerly awaiting the drop of John Podesta’s emails.

On or about October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”


Later that day, on or about October 4, 2016, the supporter involved with the Trump Campaign asked STONE via text message if he had “hear[d] anymore from London.” STONE replied, “Yes – want to talk on a secure line – got Whatsapp?” STONE subsequently told the supporter that more material would be released and that it would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign

But far more damning is that there are four Donald Trump phone numbers there, as well as numbers for his two assistants and his bodyguard, Keith Schiller.


Trump told Robert Mueller, under oath, that he didn’t remember being in the loop on Roger Stone’s efforts, clear lies.

Response to Question II, Part (e)

I was in Trump Tower in New York City on October 7, 2016.

I have no recollection of being told that WikiLeaks possessed or might possess emails related to John Podesta before the release of Mr. Podesta’s emails was reported by the media. Likewise, I have no recollection of being told that Roger Stone, anyone acting as an intermediary for Roger Stone, or anyone associated with my campaign had communicated with WikiLeaks on October 7, 2016.

Response to Question II, Part (f)

I do not recall being told during the campaign that Roger Stone or anyone associated with my campaign had discussions with any of the entities named in the question regarding the content or timing of release of hacked emails.

Response to Question ll, Part (g)

I spoke by telephone with Roger Stone from time to time during the campaign. I have no recollection of the specifics of any conversations I had with Mr. Stone between June 1.2016 and November 8, 2016. I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him, nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign, although I was aware that WikiLeaks was the subject of media reporting and campaign-related discussion at the time.

Now we know that Trump spoke to Stone a lot. So much so it’s going to make clear all these claims are lies.

In the George Papadopoulos’ testimony to Congress, Mark Meadows defined “collusion” to mean “benefitting from Hillary Clinton emails.”

Mr. Papadopoulos. And after he was throwing these allegations at me, I —

Mr. Meadows. And by allegations, allegations that the Trump campaign was benefiting from Hillary Clinton emails?

Mr. Papadopoulos. Something along those lines, sir. And I think I pushed back and I told him, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. What you’re talking about is something along the lines of treason. I’m not involved. I don’t know anyone in the campaign who’s involved. And, you know, I really have nothing to do with Russia. That’s — something along those lines is how I think I responded to this person.

Mr. Meadows. So essentially at this point, he was suggesting that there was collusion and you pushed back very firmly is what it sounds like.

It turns out Donald Trump was “colluding” with Roger Stone on four different direct lines! ... nes-trial/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:04 pm

Yes, Democrats Should Impeach trump — and Make Mitch McConnell Defend His Acquittal

Mueller, She Wrote Podcast

YESSSSSSSS!! I’ve been asking for this! The House will be abandoning its much-maligned 5-minute alternating partisan question format, in favor of the same hearing format as Watergate: having top counsel conduct the inquiries.

House Dems announce rule changes to make Trump’s impeachment inquiry just like Nixon’s
By Grant Stern September 7, 2019
The House Judiciary Committee just announced that they’re planning to reveal an impeachment roadmap and a key change to the way they operate with the intent of holding Watergate-style hearings.

All impeachment inquiries originate in the Judiciary Committee, and now they are planning a formal resolution to lay out procedures for this fall’s impeachment inquiry, which Politico first reported late last night.

As a result, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) will be given additional powers to rapidly convene hearings, on a vote which a reliable source on the Hill close to the process just told the Washington Press, “will take likely place this week, likely on Tuesday or Thursday of this week because, on Wednesday, Congress will primarily be dedicated to commemorating the September 11th attacks.”

One of the House Judiciary Committee’s biggest proposed changes will be abandoning its much-maligned 5-minute alternating partisan question format, in favor of the same hearing plan that turned the two top Senate Watergate committee counsels into key actors in that probe, which CNN revealed as part of their report with significantly more details:

[The resolution] is expected to follow the precedent set in 1974 over the committee’s procedures during then-President Richard Nixon’s impeachment proceedings.

[It is], sources say, is expected to make clear that future House Judiciary hearings can be conducted in ways different from most congressional hearings since the panel is considering impeachment.

For instance, the resolution is expected to authorize committee staff counsels to question witnesses, something that is typically not done at congressional hearings.

The Press’ well-placed source says that the House Judiciary’s planned impeachment procedure resolution is a major escalation which is arising based upon Speaker Pelosi’s remarks after the Mueller Hearings.

“If it comes to a point where the ‘cone of silence’ and the obstruction of justice and the cover-up in the White House prevents us from getting that information, that will not prevent us from going forward. In fact, it’s even more grounds to go forward.”

“This is going to cut through the Trump White House’s obstruction of Congress,” says the Press’ source. “Nixon’s third article of impeachment was for his and all the president’s men obstructing Congress.”

Questioning by the Watergate counsels Sam Dash for the Democrats and Fred Thompson for the Republicans led to many of the key moments that led to President Nixon’s departure.

In particular, Thompson gained a reputation for even-handedness after his line of questioning set up GOP Senator Howard Baker’s famous line, “What does the president know, and when does he know it?”

Ironically, both Baker and Thompson preferred to help Nixon from their perches on the committee investigating him, yet, their efforts in public led directly to his downfall.

We already witnessed a similar moment in this summer’s Mueller Hearings when Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) quite accidentally got the tight-lipped former Special Counsel to say he would indict President Trump at the end of his term.

In both of the above cases, Republicans with a conscience set out to win political battles but instead, revealed key information to the public that hurt the president of their own party.

Lastly, the new House Judiciary impeachment resolution — which other outlets reported will be on Wednesday, but the Press’ source is adamant will not be on that day — is to provide the committee with clear methods for handling an anticipated flood of confidential grand jury evidence from the Mueller Probe.

Today’s news is a very important milestone on the roadmap to holding President Trump accountable, and the House Judiciary Committee is voting on formalizing their impeachment inquiry primarily because his blanket cover-up has reached the point where the House of Representatives has to escalate their official proceedings against him. ... ke-nixons/

speaking of all republican presidents after Eisenhower being elected through fraud and treason

and trump had a secret plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David right before 9/11 anniversary

Emmet Sullivan — who has already asked whether Mueller considered charging Flynn with treason


September 6, 2019/0 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, emptywheel, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Back when Mike Flynn got cute in his sentencing memo, I warned that his false allegations about the circumstances of his investigation might backfire. It did. It led Judge Emmet Sullivan to order the release of his 302, showing how damning his lies were.

Flynn may have just done it again.

As I noted, in the joint status report submitted last week in the Mike Flynn case, his lawyers claimed they could not attend hearings on September 4, 5, 9, or 10, which were the dates the government suggested for a status conference.

The government is available on September 4th, 5th, 9th or 10th of 2019, or thereafter as the Court may order. Defense counsel are not available on those specific dates.

In response, Emmet Sullivan scheduled a status conference for September 10, a date Flynn’s lawyers had said they could not attend.


The fact that this hearing remains scheduled on September 10 may suggest Flynn’s lawyers were not telling the truth about their ability to attend a hearing on that date, in an attempt to forestall the status conference for 30 days as they had requested to do in the status report.

They were definitely lying about their ability to attend a hearing on September 5, because they did attend one, a sealed ex parte hearing before Sullivan where they discussed their demand that they all receive security clearances so they could review a bunch of evidence that doesn’t help their client.


As noted, in response, Judge Sullivan issued an order saying that before he’ll rule on whether they get security clearances, he will first rule on the Brady motion full of demands to see information that is not helpful to their client.

In response to Flynn’s motion that had basically said Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens Ted Stevens, literally invoking the Senator whose prosecution has led Judge Sullivan to distrust government claims to have complied with discovery obligations 21 times, Sullivan instead said “Fawaz Yunis.”

Fawaz Yunis is one of the first terrorists the US prosecuted in the US. In preparation for his trial, he demanded a bunch of transcripts of conversations an informant had with him, some of which a judge later characterized as “trivia.” Nevertheless the judge ordered the government turn over those transcripts. The government appealed, which led to the DC Circuit decision governing the Classified Information Procedures Act in DC that the government cited in the status report.

A defendant and his/her cleared counsel in a criminal prosecution may only obtain access to classified U.S. government information when such classified material is deemed both “relevant” and “helpful to the defense.” See United States v. Yunis, 867 F.2d 617, 623-24 (D.C. Cir. 1989).

The DC Circuit reviewed the transcripts in question and reversed the District Court’s decision, finding that it had abused its discretion in the CIPA process by ordering the disclosure of the transcripts to the defendant.

[T]he District Court abused its discretion in ordering the disclosure of classified information to a defendant where the statements in question were no more than theoretically relevant and were not helpful to the presentation of the defense or essential to the fair resolution of the cause.

In reaching that decision, the Circuit also noted the importance of protecting sources and methods regarding,

the time, place, and nature of the government’s ability to intercept the conversations at all. Things that did not make sense to the District Judge would make all too much sense to a foreign counter-intelligence specialist who could learn much about this nation’s intelligence-gathering capabilities from what these documents revealed about sources and methods.

This is trouble for Flynn’s latest attempt to (as all the DC lawyers I know continue to joke) snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on his defense.

That’s true, first of all, for the one classified item that Flynn might make a sound argument he should be able to obtain: the transcripts of his calls with Sergey Kislyak. The Yunis decision is directly on point to whether a defendant can get transcripts made in the course of national security investigations, and the DC Circuit upheld the principle that the government’s interests in hiding (say, from Russia) details of how it collects on Russian diplomats can limit discovery to Flynn in the interests of protecting the ability to wiretap Russian diplomats in the future.

The best thing that can happen for Flynn is that Emmet Sullivan — who has already asked whether Mueller considered charging Flynn with treason — will review the transcript and see for himself how damning Flynn’s comments were (though, given that at sentencing Sullivan said he has reviewed a lot of classified information in this case, he may already have seen it). If Sullivan reviews the transcript and believes it does nothing but make Flynn look more guilty, then Flynn is not going to get the transcript, and Sullivan may grow even more appalled by Flynn’s conduct.

Then there are the Strzok-Page texts Flynn has demanded. If Sullivan has to review those, he’ll have a sense of what Peter Strzok was looking at to make him so concerned about Trump’s ties to Russia. He’ll also see that Strzok was pursuing a range of counterintelligence cases, not a single-minded “coup” against first candidate and then President Trump. He’ll even see how aggressively Strzok pursued the guy who leaked details about Carter Page’s FISA order. Any derogatory bits about Strzok from these texts have already been released publicly; anything additional Sullivan would see would be other counterintelligence cases or derogatory information about Flynn and his buddies.

Worse still are the other completely unrelated things Sidney Powell demanded in her “Brady motion.” Using public evidence, I was able to show most of the demands were crap. In one case, Powell demanded the declassification of a memo that shows National Security Advisor Mike Flynn oversaw the NSA slow-walking a response to FISA. In another, Powell made a false claim that, if true, would mean her client had broken the law for 30 years as an intelligence officer.

Now Powell is going to have to make the case that this stuff is relevant, which is going to be very difficult for her to do.

And Emmet Sullivan is happy to sanction any lawyers who play games in his courtroom, whether they’re prosecutors or defense attorneys or Fox pundits. ... t-secrets/

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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby Belligerent Savant » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:33 pm

That Trump. He's seriously dangerous!
Good thing the DNC's on the case to extend every effort to bring us back to more subtle 'behind the veil' forms of crimes against humanity.

Except none of the current crop of candidates* have the charm of Billy Clinton or Obama. Those 2 were so skilled at putting such an appealing face to our govt's murderous acts!
(Depending on the demo being polled, of course)

*I'm excluding Bernie, needless to say - he's the black sheep of the DNC, and if they have their way, he'll be on the outside looking in.

Anyway, Trump is no bueno - just spelling it out for y'all in the event it hasn't sunk in yet over the last couple years of Trump-themed proliferation in RI.

You're welcome.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:09 pm

au contraire

Manager: Trump family building ‘dynasty’ for decades to come

Molly Jong-Fast

Reforesting the Amazon one couture dress at a Time.

Don’t Cry for Her, Argentina
Why, exactly, did Ivanka go to South America?

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Advisor to the US President Ivanka Trump poses after a meeting with female police cadets at General Santander National Police Academy on September 03, 2019 in Bogota, Colombia. (Photo by Guillermo Legaria Schweizer/Getty Images)
Last week the president’s favorite child—who happens to also be his trusted advisor and the wife of the guy who’s supposed to fix government, solve the opioid crisis, run point on China, and bring peace to the Middle East—went to South America.

Why Ivanka Trump went to South America no one knows.

Perhaps she went to make a splash. Or to focus on her vague and meaningless mandate of “women’s empowerment.”

Or maybe Ivanka went to South America because there’s a long history of fascist enablers finding solace below the equator? Either way, Ivanka Trump went to Argentina (and Paraguay and Colombia) to do her best Eva Perón but ended up reminding the world, once again, that she’s Marie Antoinette.

Ivanka came with the promise of a truly tiny amount of aid: Apparently, the administration is willing to give $120 million for Colombia. (For a sense of scale, the Kushner family spent $1.8 billion buying 666 Fifth Avenue in New York.) But she also came with a suitcase filled with dresses from Latin American designers. Oh, and a new, serious, grownup haircut.

It seems possible that the entire purpose of the trip was to drive a stake through the concept of irony. Because while Ivanka was in Colombia she decided to visit a camp for Venezuelan migrants.

It is unclear if these camps are more humane than the ones her father has built in America. Where, just to remind you, we have conditions such as “A cell meant for a maximum of 35 held 155 adult males with only one toilet and sink” and “detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks.” Who could say.

If I had to, I’d guess that the real reason Ivanka went to South America and pretended to care about the plight of immigrants is because she never directly challenges her father. And visiting one of his migrant detention camps in America would have been doing exactly that.

Ivanka is in a strange position of wanting to pantomime actual human emotion in the hopes that it will salvage her brand from her father’s toxicity. It’s an almost impossible needle to thread: How does the daughter of the guy who cages migrant children in America pretend to care about migrant children? By showing up to look on benevolently at other migrant children in other countries? Does she really think that’s going to work?

Maybe she does. Or maybe, as I mentioned before, she really wants to beat irony over the head with a lead pipe. Because in addition to visiting a migrant camp to make concerned noises about the detention of migrants, Ivanka was also pushing her Private Label feminism. She called the female Venezuelan leaders “warriors,” and tweeted that “It was deeply moving to meet female leaders of the Guaidó coalition as well as some of the women impacted most by the brutal Maduro dictatorship in Cucuta today.”

Which I guess is nice but maybe we could do more to take apart brutal dictatorships in America’s sphere of influence? I mean, more than sending the American president’s daughter on a sight-seeing tour with enough aid money to buy three floors of a Manhattan office building? Tough to say, of course. Geopolitics is dreadfully complicated. Just ask the 30-year-old who the president just took over for Ivanka’s husband on solving the Middle East.

Ivanka’s brand of fake feminism doesn’t sit very well with her father’s brand of lite fascism. She wants to be seen as someone who empowers women and protects children while she is enabling a man who has for his entire adult life treated women poorly and for most of his presidency treated children abominably.

So the first daughter goes all the way to South America to act out her woman-in-government shtick and even there is hamstrung by her inability to criticize her father’s cruelty. And in the end, she does what she’s good at: fashion statements and meaningless speeches comprised of nothing but platitudes.

She’s not a presidential advisor. She’s the daughter of a czar.

Although it’s possible that none of this gives her proper credit. Because Ivanka may be a fake feminist, but she’s a very real—and very successful—opportunist. Her father’s campaign manager insists that the Trumps are a political “dynasty that will last for decades.”

Which means that Donald Trump thinks of his family in dynastic terms. And if that’s the case, then whose next? Melania? No way. She’s just here to outlive her pre-nup. Eric? He was Fredo before it was cool.

What if Ivanka’s entire White House adventure is just an elaborate scheme to position her against Don Jr. to be tapped as dad’s successor?

Think about it for a minute. Because however superficial and useless Ivanka might seem, next to Don Jr. she’s basically Nancy Pelosi, Margaret Thatcher, and Eleanor Shellstrop, rolled into one.

Molly Jong-Fast is a contributor to The Bulwark and the author of three books. Follow her on Twitter @MollyJongFast.

bénisse votre cœur


The US Air Force has ordered a sweeping review of its use of Trump resorts for overnight crew accommodations. It comes as POLITICO uncovers yet another overnight stay at Turnberry by at least a dozen USAF crew members in September 2018.

Air Force leaders order probe of Trump resort stays
Stopovers at Scotland airport have tripled since 2015 and overnight stays in the area are up five-fold.

Air Force One in Scotland
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart aboard Air Force One following the president's first official visit to the United Kingdom on July 15, 2018, in Scotland. They stayed at Turnberry. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
The U.S. Air Force has ordered a world-wide review of how it chooses overnight accommodations on long flights following revelations that air crews had occasionally stayed at President Donald Trump's Scotland resort while refueling at a small commercial airport nearby.

The review comes as additional instances of military personnel staying at Trump properties have been uncovered. The C-17 crew’s overnight stay at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland earlier this year, first reported by POLITICO on Friday, was not an isolated incident.

In September 2018, on its way back to the U.S. from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a unit of the Maine Air National Guard landed at Prestwick Airport, the airport closest to Trump’s luxury waterfront resort. The crew and their passengers then spent the night at his hotel, according to one person who was present, an Instagram post and a voucher detailing the crew’s itinerary reviewed by POLITICO.

The Air Force did not immediately respond to questions about that September stay, but Air Force Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, the chief spokesman, told POLITICO in a statement that “initial reviews indicate that aircrew transiting through Scotland adhered to all guidance and procedures."

He acknowledged, however, that U.S. service members “lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable. Therefore, we are reviewing all associated guidance."

He added: “Even when USAF aircrews follow all directives and guidance, we must still be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrew staying at such locations."

In a separate interview on Sunday, the deputy commander of the Air Mobility Command, which oversees all Air Force transportation worldwide, said the review is intended to make sure that personnel are following all the rules but also whether staying at the commander-in-chief's property is appropriate.

"What the chief is getting at is just because you can, we should also be asking ourselves the question about should," said Lt. Gen. Jon Thomas. "And the question there is, as our crews are following all guidance and directives we also have to be sensitive to the possible perceptions that might be created on where they may stay."

The review, ordered by Acting Air Force Secretary Matthew Donovan and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, covers the active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

POLITICO on Friday first reported that the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee launched a probe of the Scotland operations in April out of concern that the use by the military of the Trump property and the nearby airport could pose a conflict of interest for the president — and to determine whether the Pentagon is helping to boost the fortunes of the struggling Trump's Scottish golf resort.

That includes a stopover in March of this year in which a seven-person crew of a C-17 cargo plane from the Alaska Air National Guard en route to Kuwait stayed at the plush resort. At least one member of the crew was frustrated that the food and drink was over his government allowance, even though the Air Force has said the nightly rate was less expensive than other potential options closer to the airport.

Accusations that Trump’s properties are unfairly profiting off of his administration have dogged the president since entering office. Ethics officials and lawmakers have raised concerns about foreign officials staying at Trump hotels, and noted that Trump supporters and industry groups regularly throw bashes at Trump-owned locations. Trump is also considering hosting next year’s Group of Seven gathering of world leaders at his Doral resort in Florida, a potential financial boon for the property, and has previously stayed at the Turnberry property.

The Air Force on Sunday insisted, however, that the use of the Prestwick airport — which it said dates back to 2015 — along with the Trump hotel appears to have adhered to proper procedures.

“The availability of civil airfields like Prestwick is essential to ensuring that USAF aircraft can sustain the necessary speed and throughput required to accomplish our mission,” the service said in a fact sheet. They added that Prestwick "has a large parking area, is open 24/7/365, and has been contracted by DOD for fuel at standardized prices."

The Air Force also said the the decision to stay at the Trump resort would have been the result of “a multitude of factors,” including the lack of suitable lodging closer to the civil airport or at a nearby military base. It did not provide evidence that nearby hotels were cheaper or unavailable at the time of the crews' stays, however.

The Air Force's use of the Prestwick airport has also steadily grown. Indeed, the use of the facility has nearly tripled — and overnights in the area increased more than five-fold, the Air Force acknowledged Sunday.

From 2015 to 2019, they said, Air Mobility Command aircraft stopped at the civil airport 936 times. Of those, crews stayed overnight in the area 659 times.

The frequency of the stops and overnight stays has increased steadily each year, from 95 stops and 40 overnights in 2015; 145 and 75 in 2016; 180 and 116 in 2017; 257 and 208 in 2018; and 259 stops and 220 overnights through August 2019.

Lt. Gen. Jon Thomas, the deputy head of Air Mobility Command, said he could not report how many of these overnights may have been at Trump Turnberry.

Officials insist there has been no evidence uncovered of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the implication that the military is enriching the president is damaging and the service appears eager to quickly assess whether the practice should continue.

“The Air Force takes this very seriously," Thomas told POLITICO. "The trust and confidence of the American people and Congress is critically important.” ... be-1485447

So Mitch McConnell is allowing a sanctioned oligarch to dump cash into Kentucky who's also dealing with Putin's sanctioned VTB Bank AND the Chinese Communists? Well, of course he is.

VTB in talks with Chinese companies over potential EN+ investment
Russian bank approached by two state-related industrial groups about share sale

US sanctions against EN+ were lifted in January after its founder Oleg Deripaska agreed to give up his controlling stake in the group © AFP
Russian bank VTB is in talks with Chinese companies over a potential investment in energy-to-aluminium group EN+, people with knowledge of the talks told the Financial Times.

London-listed EN+, which was under US sanctions until January this year, controls Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminium producer and the world’s largest outside China.

VTB, the Kremlin-controlled bank that owns 21.68 per cent of EN+, has been approached by two Chinese state-related industrial groups about a potential share sale, according to two people briefed on the talks.

Sanctions against EN+ that in effect cut it off from the global economy were lifted in January after its founder Oleg Deripaska, the Russian tycoon sanctioned by the US for his alleged ties to the Russian government, agreed to give up his controlling stake in the company, which also owns a series of hydropower dams in Siberia that power the Rusal smelters.

Shares in EN+ jumped after the US Treasury lifted the restrictions but at $7.16 are about half the price at the time of its November 2017 listing.

“They are not discussing exact details right now but the interest is serious from both sides,” one of the people said, adding that there was no guarantee of an agreement being reached.

The interest from the unnamed Chinese groups was primarily driven by environmental concerns in China that have increased desire for low-carbon industrial production assets, the second person said: “Chinese companies want to be renewable and so EN+ fits that profile.”

EN+ and VTB declined to comment.

Mr Deripaska’s agreement with the Office of Foreign Asset Control, the US Treasury unit tasked with administering sanctions policy, saw him give up majority control of EN+, with some of his shares transferred to VTB and some voting rights handed over to three US trustees.

Mr Deripaska now owns 44.95 per cent of the company but just 35 per cent of the voting rights. Commodities group Glencore owns 10.55 per cent of shares, smaller shareholders close to 13 per cent.

A person close to EN+ said that they did not expect Ofac would get involved with any share transactions in the company that did not involve Mr Deripaska.

“This won’t be a matter for Ofac,” the person said. “All they care about are [sanctioned individuals].”

“The US Treasury won’t exactly be doing cartwheels over Chinese buyers but a more diverse shareholder base will be seen as a good thing. The more dispersed the better,” the person added.

Russia has sought to build strong business ties with China in recent years in a concerted pivot east amid soured ties with western partners. Chinese groups have made billion-dollar investments in Russian oil, gas and gold companies, partly offsetting the retreat of European and US capital from Moscow.

Additional reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya in Moscow ... 7ebd53ab77

From Mueller Cooperator To Deep-State Conspiracy Monger: Flynn’s Big Day In Court
Flynn has doubled down on antagonistic tactics in recent months, leading some to wonder whether he’s playing for a presidential pardon rather than an easier sentence.

Tierney Sneed

TPM Illustration/Getty Images
On Tuesday, the public may get to see how former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s deep-state claims about his own plea deal hold up in a federal court.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan will hold a hearing on claims from Flynn’s legal team that special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence from him that should be turned over before Flynn is sentenced.

When Flynn last year gave mere winks to similar conspiracy theories surrounding Mueller’s probe, it prompted a tirade by the judge that culminated in Sullivan accusing Flynn of treason and threatening to give him a prison sentence that not even the prosecutors were asking for. (Sullivan later walked back the treason allegations.)

But rather than back away from those antagonistic tactics, Flynn has doubled down on them in recent months, leading to questions about whether he’s playing for a presidential pardon rather than an easier sentence.

“I can’t believe that [his lawyers] expect that this is going to move a judge in a federal court to do anything,” Patrick Cotter, a defense attorney not involved in the case and former federal prosecutor, told TPM, referring to Flynn’s allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. “The only [reason] that I can think of is it is the kind of reality-free conspiracy allegations that the President and those around him seem to enjoy and appreciate, and it may be a very crude attempt to appeal to the President.”


These arguments seem designed more for the Fox News audience than a court of law. "

Flynn’s latest court filings have echoed many of the accusations of Justice Department misconduct floated by President’s allies in conservative media and even by Trump himself. His most recent public filing reads like a mad libs of the names and alleged conduct Trump-world has used to cast doubt on the Russia probe.

“These arguments seem designed more for the Fox News audience than a court of law,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney who now teaches at the University of Michigan Law School.

McQuade said the allegations “could” be a play for a pardon, given that Flynn’s arguments are unlikely to be successful in court.

“Perhaps [his attorney] hopes that these allegations of misconduct can build political support for Trump to grant a pardon to Flynn,” McQuade wrote in an email to TPM.

Less than a year ago, Flynn appeared to be on a different track.

The former national security advisor — perhaps the most high-profile Trump associate prosecuted in Mueller’s probe — was heading into a December sentencing with a recommendation of no jail time from prosecutors, who praised him for his “substantial” cooperation.

But in his own sentencing memo, Flynn implied that he had been the victim of an entrapment scheme and shirked responsibility for his admitted offense: lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.

The strategy appeared to backfire — at least if Flynn was hoping to coast into a light sentence. Sullivan lambasted Flynn, demanded that he confirm he was guilty of the crime he pleaded to and hinted that if sentenced then, Flynn could face time in prison. Flynn took up Sullivan on his offer to delay his sentence so Flynn could complete his cooperation.

Flynn’s move six months later to fire his original team of lawyers initially looked like a possible a course correction toward a more humble, remorseful posture in the case. Instead, Flynn leaned in to the strategy he previewed last December and hired Sidney Powell, an attorney known for being critical of the Mueller probe.

Powell has insisted Flynn’s cooperation was continuing, but the new team of lawyers has put his relationship with prosecutors under increasing strain. The new lawyers have pushed to delay sentencing — which the Justice Department says can happen now — and have complained about their lack of security clearances, which they say they need to review certain aspects of the case.

Plans for Flynn to testify at a July trial for his ex-business partner were blown up due to a disagreement between him and the prosecutors.

The latest dispute is the most explosive. In a filing last Friday short on evidence but long on deep-state fear mongering, Flynn accused Mueller’s team of engaging in “pernicious” and “malevolent” conduct. He claimed that there is evidence helpful to his case that has been withheld from the government, but gave only one concrete example: the anti-Trump texts between two then-FBI officials, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. According to the filing, prosecutors didn’t provide any of the texts for Flynn until the day they were made public.

As a matter of legal strategy Flynn’s hostile approach has flummoxed outside observers who say it stands to hurt rather than help Flynn’s standing for sentencing.

Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor, said Flynn’s recent allegations likely “doom[ed]” his chances of getting a reduction of sentence recommendation from prosecutors.

“At the same time, it is unlikely that Flynn will be allowed to withdraw his plea — the legal standard is very high,” Sandick said in email to TPM.

Cotter said that as a defense attorney he has dealt with clients who have been offered good deals by the government but who — due to some emotional reaction — have backed out, to their own legal detriment.

McQuade theorized that perhaps “Flynn regrets his decision to enter a guilty plea now that the Mueller Report has not resulted in further criminal charges against others.”

“That is not a valid basis for withdrawing a guilty plea after a defendant admits in open court that he is guilty,” she warned.

When asked about the criticisms being voiced about Flynn’s legal strategy, Powell told TPM in an email that those commenting on the case should read her book, “Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.”

“You might want to wait to write anything until after the hearing on Tuesday,” she said. ... nce-claims

Adam Schiff lashes Michael Flynn for refusing to cooperate

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has refused to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee’s demand for testimony and documents, Chairman Adam Schiff wrote in a letter released Monday.

“Notwithstanding repeated efforts by committee staff to engage with your counsel and accommodate your adjournment requests, you have, to date, failed to comply with the committee’s subpoena or cooperate with the committee’s efforts to secure your compliance,” Schiff wrote in the letter to Flynn, which demands that the retired Army lieutenant general appear for testimony on Sept. 25.

Schiff said Flynn’s new counsel, Sidney Powell, “exhibit[ed] a troubling degree of unprofessionalism” in conversations with committee staffers, outlining a series of interactions between Powell and Schiff’s aides.

According to Schiff, Powell “refused to accept service” of the subpoena issued by the panel in June. Schiff indicated that Powell repeatedly sought deadline extensions for Flynn’s cooperation before ultimately ignoring phone calls attempting to arrange Flynn’s testimony for late July, just ahead of Congress’ six-week summer recess.

Schiff also said Powell told the committee that Flynn would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and would not answer any questions other than confirming his name.

“The Fifth Amendment privilege must be invoked in response to specific questions or topics that might tend to incriminate you if answered truthfully,” Schiff said. “Your counsel’s blanket invocation of the Fifth Amendment … is, therefore, inadequate.”

The Intelligence Committee has been attempting to delve into the FBI’s counterintelligence findings about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia in 2016.

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador in the weeks before Trump took office, denying that they had discussed sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration for Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

After his guilty plea, Flynn cooperated with former special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, providing evidence that helped bolster allegations of obstruction of justice against Trump, as well as filling in details about the campaign’s interactions with Russians. But Flynn’s decision to oust his legal team and hire Powell earlier this year — just as he was preparing to face sentencing — signaled a shift in strategy.

Powell has been intensely critical of Schiff and Mueller, and she was a fixture in conservative media and a frequent guest on Fox News.

Last week, Powell filed a brief with the judge in Flynn’s case spelling out a litany of allegations of prosecutorial misconduct — much of which aligned with Trump’s unsupported allegations against Mueller and his team — and suggested that the government had withheld evidence from Flynn.

Prosecutors intend to sentence Flynn in the fall. Schiff previously suggested that his cooperation with Congress could influence the sentencing judge, Emmet Sullivan, in a way that could ultimately reduce his sentence. ... nn-1486508

Seth Abramson

NOTE/ My book Proof of Conspiracy focuses on *precisely the topic* and *precisely the Trump campaign figures* Congress is now looking at. I know members and staffers of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence follow this feed—they now *must* read Proof of Conspiracy.

NOTE2/ If you want to prepare yourself for the sharp turn toward Middle Eastern politics that U.S. national security debates are about to take, this is a good starting point, whether you're in Congress or just a voter trying to stay informed about our ongoing national emergency:

NOTE3/ Flynn's lawyer has hidden from subpoena service and is already promising that Flynn will make a fraudulent Fifth Amendment invocation to Congress—fraudulent because he already cut a deal and pleaded guilty, so he no longer can invoke the Fifth Amendment as to those matters

NOTE4/ Flynn's lawyer is, like Joe DiGenova, hardly a lawyer at all—more properly stated she's a party operative whose statements about Mueller are *insane*. She backs the conspiracy theory that Manafort's known collusion with Kremlin agents was "made up."

NOTE5/ Powell is a dangerous radical who knows full well her client and his son secretly met Russia's ambassador to the U.S. at his house in DC in December 2015, just days before meeting with Putin—with both meetings on the subject of Trump striking a "grand bargain" with Russia. ... 3983867904

Sarah Kendzior

Giuliani has spent years working for pro-Kremlin Ukrainian officials with ties to organized crime.

A group of Senators, including @ewarren, are inquiring if Giuliani is a foreign agent. Their letter is excerpted below.

May 22 at 12:15pm
Dirty Dirty Giuliani
As we always say on Gaslit Nation, from election hacking to information warfare, Ukraine is a laboratory for Russian aggression. Ukraine is an important framework for us in the West to understand the challenges of the 21st century and how best to confront them. If Ukraine can resist Kremlin aggression and confront corruption then so can we. It’s in our best interests to care about what happens there, which is why the E.U. and U.S. have historically been united in their support of a strong, stable, and democratic Ukraine. Things have been playing out differently under Trump with the president’s own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, encouraging corruption in Ukraine in order to dig up dirt, any conspiracy theory that might stick, against the Democrats.

Now that Manafort is in prison, Giuliani seems to have taken his place, especially in trying to drum up Democratic scandals to distract from Trump’s many investigations, just like Manafort did. Giuliani has been desperately searching for a way to frame Trump’s opponents, like Clinton and Biden, and punish whistle-blowers, like my sister, Alexandra Chalupa, a former DNC consultant, and Ukrainian reformer Serhiy Leshchenko who both tried to warn the public during the 2016 election about Trump’s Kremlin ties.

Like Manafort, Giuliani has his own long history of furthering the Kremlin’s interests. Ironically, just as Manafort worked unpaid to run Trump’s campaign, Giuliani too worked unpaid as Trump’s lawyer in the Russia probe. Apparently both men had other reliable sources of financing. Giuliani has been entrenched in blood money for years, including being hosted in Armenia by a Putin ally, speaking alongside a sanctioned Russian official there for a conference in fall 2018 to strengthen the ties of the Eurasian Economic Union.

What is the Eurasian Economic Union? It’s the Kremlin’s answer to taking on the European Union. It’s an economic union of post-Soviet states that largely have atrocious human rights records like Belarus and Kazakhstan. They’ve tried for years to get Ukraine to join, and Ukraine is like, no thanks, we’re trying to join the E.U. Giuliani’s presence at this conference served the Kremlin’s interests, as does his years of working for pro-Kremlin Ukrainian officials with ties to organized crime. Last September, Democratic Senators, including Elizabeth Warren, wrote a letter to the Department of Justice inquiring whether Giuliani had filed as a foreign agent:

Giuliani’s work on behalf the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine, whose mayor is a member of the Party of Regions is also concerning. The Ukrainian Party of Regions’ connections to the Russian Government and anti-democratic activity are well-documented. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who both served in senior roles on the President’s 2016 campaign team, were convicted of or pleaded guilty to criminal acts in part because of their work on behalf of this Russian-backed Ukrainian political party. Mr. Giuliani’s financial connection to the organization, the organization’s close ties with the Russian government, and Mr. Giuliani’s ongoing public advocacy against Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election raises further questions that warrant review.
Giuliani may have even played a role in obstructing justice in the Mueller investigation. During the investigation, Giuliani told CNN he was in contact with Manafort’s attorneys, getting briefed on Manafort’s meetings with Mueller. As the Mueller Report lays out, Manafort had assured Gates that he had spoken to Trump’s personal counsel and they were “going to take care of us.” The word “pardon” was never used, but it didn’t have to be. The question remains: if Manafort had flipped, how many more indictments could there have been? What else would have been revealed? We may never know, because the influence of the president’s own counsel, which includes Giuliani, apparently made a difference.

Oddly, soon after Trump took office, he named Giuliani a top adviser on cyber security. Everyone laughed and made fun of Giuliani for being as relevant to the issue as an AOL CD. Months later, Trump announced a cybersecurity plan with Putin. It was quickly killed following inevitable backlash. As multiple reports have revealed, the Kremlin’s cyberwar continues on our country and threatens our election in 2020. What is "cybersecurity expert" Giuliani doing about this when he’s paid by the same interests furthering these attacks?

There’s an even darker thread to Giuliani’s blood money. He’s also consulted for Bahrain, yet another regime with an abysmal human rights record, Brazil, Turkey, and a shady opposition group from Iran known as the MeK, which has killed Americans, Iranians, served as a private militia for Saddam Hussein, and was labeled a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. Giuliani himself helped to successfully lobby to get the group’s terrorist label removed, and repeatedly called for the overthrow of Iran’s government. Now that very same shady Iranian opposition group is being used in John Bolton’s obsessive campaign to go to war with Iran, despite U.S. intelligence, just as during the case of Cheney, Bush, and Iraq, insisting there’s no legal basis.

If Trump and Bolton get their Iran war this will be Bush’s invasion of Iraq all over again. Hundreds of thousands of civilians will be killed; business allies of the White House will profit; America’s standing in the world will plummet; and in the chaos and destruction terrorist groups will be born, just like ISIS was born from Bush’s Iraq invasion. One has to wonder whether Trump possibly pardoning a Navy SEAL platoon leader Edward Gallagher who killed Iraqi civilians, as well as a Blackwater contractor who did the same, among other accused war-criminals, is to normalize the type of mercenary he needs for his war with Iran. So when you see Giuliani entertaining cable news pundits on TV or on Twitter, sounding like a shameless conspiracy theorist glued to a recliner in front of Fox News, keep in mind that this is a man with the influence and clear determination to unleash incalculable destruction on the world in exchange for power and profit.

Now we turn back to Ukraine. The country recently elected Volodymyr Zelensky, a popular comic who won the hearts of Ukrainians by playing a school teacher whose viral video ranting against corruption leads to him becoming president. It’s called Servant of the People. That’s also the name of his political party.

Zelensky is a blank slate. During the election he was vague about his positions and his advisers. Now that he’s been sworn-in as president, we’re getting a clearer picture, and so far it’s not promising. Zelensky has appointed as his chief of staff a former top official from the government of Yanukovych, the Putin puppet overthrown in Ukraine’s EuroMaidan revolution. Other Yanukovych ex-officials and allies have returned to Ukraine, having been driven into exile by the revolution, clearly feeling that it’s safe now. Popular anti-corruption reformers are also included in the government, but they may just be window-dressing. Only time will tell.

During the election Zelensky battled allegations that he was a puppet candidate--a revenge candidate--for a powerful oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky, who busted for massive bank fraud by the outgoing president and driven abroad. That has been confirmed: Zelensky’s new chief of staff is also Kolomoisky’s lawyer. While Kolomoisky has done much good for the country, including financing a private army in the early days of Russia’s invasion, after Ukraine’s own military had been depleted under Yanukovych, Kolomoisky is ruthless and famous for having had an actual shark tank in his office.

Right now, as with any new administration, there’s always a power struggle. The dust still has to settle. But talks of Zelensky’s government potentially holding a referendum, like the Brexit referendum, to let the people vote on how best to address Russia’s invasion, are troubling, especially in a country saturated with oligarch-owned television networks that push their own propaganda. While Ukraine’s outgoing government has cleared up Giuliani’s accusations, namely against Joe Biden, which we’ll go into on this show, corruption runs deep. Giuliani may get lucky yet.

On today’s show, we’re speaking with a longtime Ukraine-watcher, the Russian-American journalist and editor of the literary magazine the Odessa Review, Vlad Davidson, who met last month with Zelensky for about an hour on the campaign trail. Vlad, a longtime friend of mine, shares his impressions of the new president and whether he’ll be up for the job. Our interview took place in early May 2019, in the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant in New York City, where the great filmmaker Sidney Lumet, director of 12 Angry Men, used to hold rehearsals. Vlad himself is a character out of cinema, a young-man who dresses in tweed suits as though he’s been set-designed by Wes Anderson. And he keeps these gorgeous steampunk-like journals filled with collages, sketches, and all sorts of impressions. His intricate journals have been displayed in a gallery exhibit in Odessa. During our entire interview, Vlad sketched in his journal. I just wanted to paint the scene for you of this often entertaining and always enlightening expert on the modern Ukraine as well as on why we here in the West should care about what happens there.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:20 am


Jon Passantino

Yep. Tonight's NYT story on the Trump-Prestwick airport deal is not news and the documents cited date back to 2016 when they were released to

SNP accused of hypocrisy over Prestwick links with Donald Trump
Published: 00:01 Sunday 21 February 2016
Trump arrives at Prestwick in 2014. Picture: SWNS/Hemedia

Martyn McLaughlin

TROUBLED Prestwick Airport, owned by the Scottish Government, has been involved in ­negotiations with Donald Trump in an effort to return it to profit – at the same time as senior SNP figures have been calling for the US presidential candidate to be banned from the UK, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

The Scottish Government was last night accused of hypocrisy and urged to disclose the precise nature of its relationship with the controversial Republican frontrunner after a tranche of correspondence detailed Prestwick Airport’s extensive dealings with Trump.

Officials at the loss-making Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Trump’s executives have explored working together to “win” business and the “integration” of their operations.

The precise nature of Prestwick’s high-profile ties with the controversial US presidential candidate has long been unclear. It was described in a joint press release in November 2014 as an “official partnership” and a “strategic alliance.”

The airport now insists it has no “official partnership contract in place” with the magnate or his Turnberry resort and that he has merely offered a “show of support” for the beleaguered hub.

But a tranche of documents released to Scotland on Sunday show the airport has held unminuted discussions over “potential partnership opportunities” and disclosed business development targets with Trump Turnberry, which has not been required to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA).

The relationship was announced in grand style two years ago when Trump touched down at Prestwick in his Boeing 757 jet. The airport charges him undisclosed fees for fuelling, airside parking, landing charges and hangar space for the aircraft and his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter.

Although there have been no further public announcements, the correspondence – released under Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation – details extensive private discussions.

The airport said it “holds a presentation that was shared with Trump Turnberry in relation to business development targets.” However, it withheld it from the FoI release, claiming it would “prejudge our commercial interest”.

It added that “it has had dialogue from employees from Trump Turnberry resort to discuss potential partnership opportunities. There were no minutes taken of these discussions.”

In an email sent last March to Ralph Porciani, general manager at Trump Turnberry, Jules Matteoni, Prestwick’s manager of fire service, passenger services, transport and security, asked to meet Turnberry staff at “short notice” to “have a think about integration of your business and ours before the season starts”.

He referenced a meeting at Prestwick four days previously with Porciani, stating: “I trust you have confidence in the operation now.”

Last September, Matteoni wrote to Trump Turnberry’s sales director, Gillian McNeilly, concerning a commercial deal, details of which were redacted by Prestwick. He told her: “If we want to win this business then we should work together on pricing and have a package that is highly attractive.”

The airport was taken over by the government in 2003 for £1. It made losses of £4.1m last year, with loan financing from the government increasing from £4.5m in March 2014 to £10.8m 12 months later.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP were among those SNP politicians to call on Trump to be banned from the UK over his contentious remarks about Muslims, while Nicola Sturgeon stripped him of his Global Scot status.

Alex Johnstone, infrastructure and transport spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “On the one hand SNP MPs want to ban Donald Trump from the UK, but on the other, the airport the Scottish Government owns appears to be going out its way to curry favour with him.

“It makes sense for an airport like Prestwick to work closely with local businesses like Turnberry. But the SNP has to stop being so hypocritical about the situation – it can’t have it both ways.”

He added: “People will find it very strange that Prestwick shares this information with Trump, while claiming there’s no official partnership in place. The Scottish Government should explain this arrangement as a matter of urgency.”

David Stewart, Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman, said: “The SNP clearly has some explaining to do here. Mr Trump has threatened to walk away from his businesses in Scotland yet Prestwick seems desperate to get together with Trump Turnberry. We need full disclosure of what is going on.”

Kirsten Sweeney, Prestwick’s communications manager, characterised the airport’s relationship with Turnberry as “long running” and one that would continue. Its link with Trump Turnberry, she said, was “mutually supportive”.

Asked why it had disclosed business development targets with Trump’s firm despite the fact there is “no legal contract between the two organisations,” she said: “When you enter into these discussions, there is an element of trust that has to be had between the organisations that are looking to build a partnership with each other. It’s the same process we have in many of our business development discussions with potential customers or partners.

“There would be a starting point where we’d share a certain level of information about how we’re looking to develop our business to find out if synergies are there, and if there are, then look at working together.”

“Trump Turnberry have not signed any NDA with us. We present some of our thoughts and analysis about potential customers as a matter of course when having these discussions, and we wouldn’t really get off on the best foot with an organisation if the first thing we did was ask them to sign an NDA before we had a conversation. They would come into play when we get down to actuals and figures.”

She added: “We have kept the Scottish Government across no more or no less any of these discussions than we would discussions with any other potential customer or partner, and no more or no less than any other organisation would do with its shareholders.”

George Sorial, executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, said its ties with Prestwick had “nothing to do with our relationship with the Scottish Government” and that it was “united” with Prestwick “in any efforts to restore the airport”.

Asked if an “official partnership” existed, as outlined in the joint press release, he explained: “I think people use the word partnership colloquially. It doesn’t necessarily connote a full-blown partnership in the sense of a legal business relationship, so I think as a matter of law, they are not our partner.”

On whether Trump’s companies would invest directly at Prestwick, he said although this wasn’t under consideration at present, “that’s not ruling out. If there was a proposal on the table that made sense, obviously we would evaluate it.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government agency, Transport Scotland, said: “Glasgow Prestwick Airport is being operated on a commercial basis and at arm’s length from the Scottish Government.

“The senior management team at the airport has been tasked with all aspects of taking the airport forward, including building on existing revenue streams and exploring new ones.” ... -1-4035207

Scottish government criticised over US military use of airport
Severin CarrellLast modified on Thu 8 Feb 2018 12.50 EST
This article is more than 1 year old

SNP accused of hypocrisy for funding Glasgow Prestwick airport which has links to Trump

A US Navy fighter jet arrives at Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
A publicly owned Scottish airport is being used by the US military to launch frontline operations and is striking deals with Donald Trump’s golf resort in an effort to stem its heavy financial losses.

An investigation by the Guardian has revealed Glasgow Prestwick airport is a base for live missions by the US Air Force, while its executives have highlighted its close relations with President Trump’s nearby resort at Turnberry to promote its bid to become a spaceport backed by the US government.

Scottish opposition politicians accused the ruling Scottish National party of “breathtaking hypocrisy” over its attitude to the Trump administration and asked whether the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, had misled MSPs on the matter.

The coastal airport, 32 miles south of Glasgow, was bought for £1 by the Scottish government in November 2013, when Alex Salmond was first minister, to save it from closure. Between then and April 2017 the airport lost £26.5m as 500,000 civilian passengers a year went to rival airports.

It is eligible for another £7.7m in government loans this year to cover its continuing losses, which would take its total debts to the taxpayer to nearly £48m, plus interest. That is more than double the £21m ministers originally said would be needed to help return the airport to profit.

In an effort to stem its losses, Prestwick executives have attended military fairs across the US to pursue contracts to service cargo flights, troop transports and air-to-air refueling operations for the US Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, National Guard and the US Defense Logistics Agency.

Official memos seen by the Guardian show Prestwick has won these contracts with the knowledge of Scottish government ministers, including Keith Brown, the economy secretary, both while Trump was the Republican presidential candidate and since he became president.

Glasgow Prestwick airport's links to Trump Turnberry resort

Scottish government officials sought to withhold details of many of the deals, heavily censoring documents it released under freedom of information legislation. But the USAF confirmed Prestwick was used to support frontline US military operations.

Maj Richard Komurek, a USAF spokesman for Europe and Africa, said: “Glasgow Prestwick airport is one of a variety of airfields within Europe that can be used to support a full range of USAF operations.

“The forward-basing of US aircraft in Europe enhances our ability to conduct rapid global mobility, global strike operations and training to maintain combat-ready forces that are ready to respond to contingencies and support allies and partners.”

The documents reveal that USAF Stratotanker air-to-air refueling aircraft operated several sorties from Prestwick while based there for three weeks in May 2017. That month, the USAF also approved “active duty missions” from Prestwick for Hercules C130 cargo planes for its air mobility command, which describes the C130 as “the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas”.

Brown was told a visit by US diplomats to Prestwick to prepare for Trump’s arrival to open the Turnberry resort in June 2016 led to new contacts with the USAF’s European chief of defense and the US air attache to the UK. In October 2016, Prestwick signed a three-year basing and fuel supply deal with the Defense Logistics Agency, helping it almost double its income from fuel sales to £3m last year.

Brown was told those contacts also led to the USAF earmarking Prestwick to take a greater share of its flights after it leaves Mildenhall airbase in Suffolk, its largest base in the UK, in 2024.

An extract from Scottish government and Prestwick airport documents seen by the Guardian.

The Scottish government insisted its ministers played no part in Prestwick’s business decisions, but opposition parties said ministers should make an urgent statement at Holyrood on what they know about Prestwick’s dealings with the US military, and the prospects of it ever making a profit.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s economy spokeswoman, said: “In public, SNP MPs and MSPs, including Alex Salmond, fall over themselves to tell us how awful Donald Trump is – and frequently stand up to condemn American-led military operations.

“Yet in private the SNP government is striking deals with Trump’s generals to try to desperately prop up Prestwick airport. It is such breathtaking hypocrisy.”

The Scottish government said approving military flights was a matter for aviation authorities controlled by the UK government, and that Prestwick had been used by Nato air forces for decades.

Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green co-leader, said Holyrood should be told whether Prestwick had made money from supporting US bombing raids, including in Syria. “This is all deeply concerning,” Harvie said. “A failing business is being propped up by a Scottish cabinet minister for no clear public benefit, and the moral price being paid is simply unacceptable.”

Sturgeon said in February 2016 that the Scottish government “has had no discussions on the relationship between the airport and the Trump Organization” and insisted it operated at arm’s length from the government.

However, one censored government memo revealed Transport Scotland officials lobbied ministers to meet Trump Organization staff, USAF commanders, and Federal Aviation Administration officials, to promote Prestwick’s business interests on an official tour of the US in April 2015 led by Brown.

Pressed to confirm the memo’s accuracy, a Scottish government spokesman admitted officials had been a conduit for “tentative” proposals from Prestwick but said none of the suggested meetings took place.

An extract from Scottish government and Prestwick airport documents seen by the Guardian.

Harvie said this raised serious questions for Sturgeon, who in December 2015 had stripped Trump of his honorary role as a “global Scot” after his outbursts about Mexicans and Muslims.

“It’s possible that she was misled by civil servants, or by her ministerial colleagues. But the outcome is unacceptable either way, and the Scottish government must now publish all related documents in full,” he said.

The Turnberry resort has been given a central role in Prestwick’s attempts to promote Ayrshire as a tourist destination and to win substantial investment by US space industry firms working for Nasa.

The documents seen by the Guardian show Prestwick struck deals with Trump Turnberry to supply cut-price rooms for select passengers and crew. According to the Sunday Post newspaper, Prestwick also offered free rounds of golf at Turnberry to visiting US military and civilian air crews. Prestwick said it had special arrangements with other hotels in Ayrshire.

The Scottish government insisted its ministers had not sanctioned Prestwick’s business decisions nor had they had any discussions or contact with US military commanders.

“Ministers have no role in the operation of contractual agreements made by Glasgow Prestwick airport, which operates on an entirely commercial basis in line with European state aid rules,” a spokesman said.

“The funding given to the airport supports vital employment, and if we had not stepped in, the closure of the airport would have dealt a heavy blow to the local and national economies. Handling private and military flights has always been a part of Glasgow Prestwick airport’s business.”

Asked about potential conflicts of interest for the USAF using an airport closely associated with the US president’s business interests, Capt Jhanelle Haag, a USAF spokeswoman, said Prestwick was chosen solely for military reasons.

“The selection and use of any airfield by the Department of Defense is guided strictly by that airfield’s ability to support combined (US, UK, and Nato) air operations in support of our shared security objectives,” she said. ... of-airport

Martyn McLaughlin

Good scoop by @NatashaBertrand, raises further Qs about the relationship b/w Turnberry, USAF & the Scottish Govt owned Prestwick Airport. Quick thread follows . ... ssion=true

I wrote in June about the £9m Defense Logistics Agrncy deal with the airport. Its custom with US military dates back decades, but it has escalated significantly in the past couple of years. A new, even more lucrative contract, will kick in later this year.

Turnberry & the airport (currently up for sale) denied they had a "official partnership," despite explicitly saying so previously. They discussed joint business goals, and integration of their businesses. I wrote this in Feb '16:

How closely did they work together? Well, the state owned airport asked Trump Turnberry to help it "pitch" for new airlines. This is from Nov 17:

The Scottish Government agency, Transport Scotland, has also lobbied to meet with the Trump Organisation, the USAF, and the Federal Aviation Agency. It's one thing attracting wealthy US golfers, but the vast majority of the airport's revenue now comes from military refuelling.

The relationship between Trump Turnberry, the USAF, and Prestwick airport goes even further. Prestwick offered free rounds of golf at Turnberry to visiting US military and civilian air crews. This is an insightful piece:

Here is a document I obtained, prepared by the Trump Organisation, detailing its "official partnership" with the airport.

And here's correspondence I obtained detailing special rates struck by Trump Turnberry with the airport.


If there's one Q Congress should be asking IMO, it's whether the USAF and the Defense Logistics Agency has any formal agreement with Prestwick Airport to facilitate transfers and accommodation at Trump Turnberry for US military flights refuelling in Scotland.

Another Q: i've been reporting US federal procurement records detailing extensive payments by the US State Dept to Trump Turnberry, yet there's no equivalent for the Dept of Defence/Homeland Sec? If US military stay at Turnberry, where does the money go?

Stand by for some news on US military spending at Prestwick Airport ...

EXCL US Defence Dept expenditure at the Scottish Govt owned Prestwick Airport has spiked dramatically in recent months. It's spent £4.8m on USAF refuelling since March 2019. My @TheScotsman latest, inc the US Congress investigation revealed by @politico:

There's been a further 264 orders placed by the US Defence Dept at Prestwick since June. In some cases the airport's receiving six-figure sums in a single day for multiple refuelling of USAF aircraft. If you know more on this, and USAF custom at Trump Turnberry, my DMs are open.


Martyn McLaughlin Retweeted Donald J. Trump
And finally, it's worth noting that before entering the White House, Trump was in direct talks with airlines to bolster business and passenger traffic at the ailing Prestwick Airport. Don't take my word for it - take Trump's ...
Martyn McLaughlin added,
Donald J. Trump
Verified account

“US tycoon Donald Trump in talks with Ryanair to bring more flights back to Prestwick Airport” ... ir-5422340 … via @Daily_Record

Oh, and a few folk have been arguing, quite reasonably, that the US military have used Prestwick for decades. Which is true. But misses a crucial point - US military spending has skyrocketed under the Trump administration. I spent time back in June analysing revenue trends 1/2

Prestwick generated £1.2m in fuel sales in 2016, then £2.9m in 2017. But that includes ALL military & non military custom. The US Defence Dept payments alone under Trump stand at nearly £14m. Do US military logistics explain that increased patronage, or something else? Many Qs.

Quick update. A contact has confirmed the USAF stay at Trump Turnberry was not booked directly with the resort, but via the US Defence Dept's Defence Management System. Q for DoD / Defence Logistics Agency is whether Turnberry is one of its "preferred" accommodation providers.

This also explains why this stay, and any others, are not detailed in official US federal gov procurement databases. It lists numerous State Dept payments to Trump's resort, but crucially they were made directly to its UK registered parent firm, SLC Turnberry Limited.

Update: I've been looking through notebooks on Trump & Prestwick Airport. In Feb '16, as the Trump campaign was in full swing, I interviewed George Sorial, exec VP of the Trump Org. I asked if Trump was interested in investing in the airport. This is a transcript of his reply.
A further transcript from my telephone interview with the Trump Organisation's George Sorial about Prestwick Airport on 19 Feb 2016. (Sorial was the Trump Org's chief compliance counsel until a few months ago)


Keep your notebooks. You never know when something seemingly prosaic suddenly becomes interesting ... ... 5132297216

The New York Times reported later Monday that the CIA’s Russian informant was instrumental to the agency’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered and orchestrated the campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Possible Russian spy for CIA now living in Washington area
The former Russian government official, who had a job with access to secrets, was living openly under his true name.

Sept. 9, 2019, 8:06 PM CDT
A former senior Russian official is living in the Washington area under U.S. government protection, current and former government officials tell NBC News.

NBC News is withholding the man’s name and other key details at the request of U.S. officials, who say reporting the information could endanger his life.

Yet the former Russian government official, who had a job with access to secrets, was living openly under his true name.

On Wednesday, an NBC News correspondent went to the man’s house in the Washington area and rang the doorbell. Five minutes later, two young men in an SUV came racing up the street and parked immediately adjacent to the correspondent’s car.

The men, who identified themselves only as friends of the Russian, asked the correspondent what he was doing there.

A former senior national security official said the men were likely U.S. government agents monitoring the Russian's house.

The discovery of the Russian’s presence in the U.S. came after a CNN report Monday asserting that the CIA exfiltrated one of its top spies from Russia after officials became concerned he was in danger of being caught.

The New York Times reported later Monday that the CIA’s Russian informant was instrumental to the agency’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered and orchestrated the campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The Times said the source was “the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders” from Putin, and was key to the CIA’s assessment that Putin favored Donald Trump’s candidacy and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The Times previously reported that the source was considered so sensitive that then-CIA Director John Brennan had declined to refer to the person in the top secret Presidential Daily Brief during the final months of the Obama administration.

Brennan sent reports from the source to the president and a small group of top national security aides in a separate, white envelope to assure its security, the Times reported.

NBC News has not confirmed that the Russian living in Virginia fed the CIA information about Russian election interference. But for reasons that NBC News is withholding, he fits the profile of someone who may have had access to information about Putin’s activities and who would have been recruitable by American intelligence officials.

Two former FBI officials told NBC News they believe he is the source referred to in the CNN and New York Times report.

The Russian will likely be moved from the place he is currently living in the interest of keeping him safe, current and former officials said.

Ken Dilanian is a correspondent covering intelligence and national security for the NBC News Investigative Unit. ... a-n1051741


Mike Flynn's lawyers claimed they couldn't make a hearing today.

But there they are, waiting for Judge Sullivan to show up for a hearing.
8:03 AM - 10 Sep 2019

(My meeting this AM stood me up, so I'm back in the Prettyman Courthouse media room for the first time in 12 years, which makes me feel really old.)

Sullivan is reviewing how we got here. He said he's going to schedule a sentencing date.

Sullivan "I issue my standing Brady order in every case, I was not the judge who took the plea, it's not bc I thought anything, knew anything, no one should read anything else into it."

I wish Sullivan had said that 18 months ago, to save the frothy right a lot of froth.

Sullivan cites US v Mussa to explain why he held an ex parte hearing about whether Flynn's lawyers needed a security clearance.

Sullivan: Court understands Flynn seeks classified info, Govt not aware of any info that requires disclosure under Brady or court's standing order. Plea agreement under page 6, your client agrees to forgo any further discovery not already provided.

Sullivan: Had the court taken the plea, actually it did take a second plea, had the court taken the plea, court is not bound by that, govt must comply with standing Brady order or demonstrate why it is not bound by it. Not saying anything, but court controls.

Sullivan: In Yunis, DCC said that classified info is not discoverable on mere showing of relevance. 1) relevance, 2) assertion of privilege is colorable one 3) not discoverable on mere showing of relevance, further requires "helpful to the defense of an accused."

Sullivan: Flynn has TWICE pled guilty to this charge. This court accepted Mr. Flynn's plea of guilty after a second colloquy, this court afforded Mr. Flynn a second opportunity to seek to withdraw the plea at that time, he stood by his plea of guilty and accepted responsibility

Sullivan: Analysis will focus on relevant and helpful. If govt says there are no such materials, what are the next steps.

Motion hearing Oct 31, 2PM, I want to hear from govt counsel first, proposal for deadline for oppo brief.,

Sullivan: Court is looking at --there needs to be a tentative or proposed "trial date."

December 18. 11AM.
December 18 was original sentencing date, time to bring finality.

Van Grack: 2 weeks to file opposition.

WRT December 18, that date works for govt, would be appropriate to schedule sentencing date.

Sullivan: It may be changed, it shouldn't be held in abeyance.

Powell: THere is far more at stake here than sentencing, we have ethical obligation to review everything, that is why we have filed motion to produce Brady, stunning failures to produce Brady, going back to PAge- Strzok (she pronounces "Strzok" as "stroke).

Sullivan: Do you think that's exculpatory.

Powell: Those agents were impaired by bias. It's a huge factor. We've also learned Jan 30, 2017 letter, internal memo that completely exonerates Flynn of being an Agent of Russia, that hasn't been produced to us.

Sullivan: He has not pled guilty to being an agent of Russia. It has to be more than theoretical relevance.

Powell: We learned there's a memo showing no logan act violation. Comey lied to face of President on Feb 14, a few days, started obstruction narrative.

Sullivan: THere's never been a Logan act charge.

Powell: Van Grack said that was on of his theories of liability.

Sullivan: Court should not consider benefit.

Powell; Egregious misconduct, longtime abuse that should have been produced before any plea. Mr. Van Grack maintains he has no obligation to produce it. Govt conceives it doesn't have Brady obligation.
Stevens Stevens Stevens.

Powell: THere's one thing after another that exonerates him. I don't think is a motion to withdraw the plea.

Sullivan: Exonerate, to show he's innocent.

Powell: Entire prosecution should be dismissed for egregious misconduct.

Sullivan: We'll anxiously await the govt response. Anything else you want to place on record.

Powell: Yunis only applies to Brady, asking for full docs as opposed to summaries, notes on 302s, differences on notes. Missing original 302 by Pientka. That has never been produced.

Powell: Sally Yates was obviously briefed on that. That information is out there it has not been produced. Yunis only applies to classified.

Sullivan: And relevant.

Powell: non-classified, they're still suppressing.

Sullivan: I'm making informed assumption, they're gong to say they complied with Brady.

Powell Just produced additional Brady info, passed poly in April 2016, possibly evidence of pre-existing investigation. Or got date form NSA database, Collyer decision.

[Sara Carter lives!]

Powell; he briefed DIA before his Turkish meeting that they then want to claim is a FARA violation. We've got tidbits out there.

Sullivan: Arguments you're making, at time of sentencing, not unusual for judges to say, this matter pertains to plea.

Sullivan: This court will often look at what benefits this defendant has already received. The court was probably in a position to say there have already been benefits conferred, for instance not charged with FARA violation, if you're saying no factual predicate for FARA.

Powell: I could go through a long list. I can tell the court there is also the, govt has known since Nov 15 of 2017 Comey set up ambush interview of Flynn, didn't disclose it, only then bc Comey bragged about it.

Sullivan: Let's assume that's true. This was raised by previous counsel. I thought, I'm going to force you to be sentencing.

Powell: There was so much water under the bridge. There never would have been a guilty plea if it met Brady, before a proffer.

Powell: They have a letter from British embassy that undoes who Steele dossier debacle.

[Note: Steele was not about Flynn]

Van Grack: Govt intends to respond to allegations, like to make a few points. Court's standing BRady order has been guidelines, never made indication to court or defense that it believes Brady has been waived.

Van Grack: Long list of claims about omissions. First one: defendant unaware of text messages between Strzok and Page. First, before Defendant signed guilty plea, before first, govt had notified defendant and counsel that such comms existed, that Strzok had shown preference.

Van Grack: Second time, defendant made aware of remaining text messages, and govt provided text messages that were not public.

Van Grack; Logan or Agent of Russia. Govt has not alleged he was guilty of Logan act or Agent of Russia.

WRT Fara, false statements defendant made wrt govt of Turkey. Court asked abt Logan act, even if elements met, Govt at no point considered logan act as benefit ... 0149337090


September 10, 2019/0 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
The Mike Flynn status hearing just ended (I livetweeted it here). The outcome is that Flynn’s sealed Brady filing will be posted tomorrow, the government response will be in two weeks, Flynn’s reply will be on October 15.

Emmet Sullivan tentatively set a sentencing hearing for December 18, the year anniversary for his aborted sentencing hearing last year.

The government said it will file a new sentencing memorandum, suggesting they likely will say he did not accept responsibility for his crimes. Those new filings are due on December 2.

Sidney Powell stated that she does not expect Flynn to withdraw his plea, though she did suggest the entire prosecution should be withdrawn because of egregious misconduct.

The hearing itself was less remarkable than Sidney Powell’s factually impaired briefing last week. But she did manage to get in at least one lie to Sullivan.

She claimed that Flynn had not been provided notice of the Lisa Page – Peter Strzok texts. Brandon Van Grack told the court that Flynn was told Strzok had a political preference before he signed his guilty plea. Van Grack also revealed that Flynn got texts that have not been otherwise publicly released. That means Senator Rod Johnson didn’t release texts that pertained to Flynn (and perhaps were derogatory to him) when he dumped all of them in December 2017.

Powell also complained that Flynn had not been provided notice that Jim Comey “set up the ambush interview” of Flynn. Van Grack made it clear that Flynn received it before sentencing and that Sullivan referenced it at the beginning of last year’s sentencing memo. Powell excused her outright lie about something Sullivan mentioned on the public record by saying the train was pretty far down the track by then.

Powell made much of the fact that the government had already decided that Flynn would not be charged as an Agent of Russia or with a Logan Act violation shortly after his FBI interview. Van Grack noted that that’s not the benefit that the government said Flynn had obtained with his guilty plea.

Finally, Powell suggested that there might have been a prior secret investigation into Mike Flynn based off the secret NSA database, attempting to reference the allegations in the Rosemary Collyer opinion that has to do with targeted surveillance of otherwise targeted US person subjects when they’re overseas. In short, it was rank nonsense based off of Sara Carter’s erroneous “reporting” on the opinion.

All in all, Sullivan took being lied to in pretty mellow fashion. We’ll see whether that continues after Van Grack lays out precisely how batshit some of Powell’s claims are. ... n-hearing/

McConnell Said No to Money for Miners, Yes to Russian-Backed Plant
The Senate majority leader worked to keep money out of Kentucky coal miners’ hands—even as he maneuvered to steer federal cash to an aluminum plant connected to a Putin ally.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month blocked a measure that would have used Treasury Department funds marked for Appalachian development to help pay for coal miners’ health care and pensions in his home state of Kentucky.

But just a few months earlier, McConnell successfully steered near-identical Treasury funds for Appalachia to bankroll a Kentucky aluminum plant connected to an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have raised concerns for months about McConnell’s connection to the aluminum plant. It’s one of several reasons why McConnell’s political opponents have tried to stick him with the nickname “Moscow Mitch.” But what’s gone largely unnoticed as the sobriquet has become a social media trending topic is how McConnell worked to keep money out of coal miners’ hands—even as he maneuvered to steer federal funds to the Russian-linked plant.

The scrutiny started in January, when McConnell voted to lift sanctions on Rusal, a Russian aluminum company formerly headed by Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, despite several of his Republican colleagues defecting and voting no. Rusal’s de-listing caused an uproar among Democrats on Capitol Hill who viewed the deal the Treasury Department put together with Rusal as too lenient.

Then, in April, the focus turned to McConnell. Just days after the Treasury Department announced the official de-listing of Rusal, the company announced a $200 million investment in the Braidy Industries aluminum plant in the northeastern part of Kentucky. Democrats raised questions about how much McConnell knew about Rusal’s investment plan before he voted for sanctions relief. Rusal is the only outside investor in the plant.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, a Braidy Industries spokesperson said the company has never lobbied members of Congress on sanctions issues and began working with law firm Akin Gump in May 2019 for “general government relations representation.” The spokesperson also said no employee or director of the company has ever spoken to McConnell about Rusal.

But McConnell’s connection to the Rusal-Braidy aluminum plant is deeper than previously understood. At the same time Rusal was lobbying the Trump administration to get off the U.S. sanctions list, McConnell was advocating for federal funds to be diverted to help with construction of the Braidy plant in Kentucky.

Since 2016 the federal government has given states in Appalachia millions of dollars from the Treasury Department to help clean up and reform abandoned coal mining land, and to assist in economic and community development in those areas. McConnell and other Kentucky lawmakers, including Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), have advocated that the state continue to receive that federal funding given the impact of coal companies’ bankruptcies. Two companies, EastPark Industrial and Ashland Alliance, applied for $7 million from the pot of federal money from the Kentucky state government in November 2017 for general sewer and road repair on 204 acres of land.

In October 2018, McConnell, Rogers, and Kentucky officials announced that EastPark and Ashland would get $4 million. Then, in March 2019, the applicants confirmed that the $4 million would not go to funding general repairs but would instead go prepping for construction on the aluminum plant.

“Ashland Alliance and EastPark will only be applying the $4 million to the Braidy Site preparation,” wrote Ashland Alliance president Tim Gibbs in an email from March 2019 reviewed by The Daily Beast. “The $4 million in AML funds will enable Braidy to complete the $14 million total investment to stabilize the site for high precision manufacturing.”

It is not clear when talks between Braidy Industries and Rusal began, but two sources with direct knowledge of the $4 million payout said McConnell went to bat for the applicants during the internal review process and was instrumental in helping them secure the federal funding.

“As site cleanup for the aluminum plant began, McConnell blocked a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would have doled out federal money to help fund miners’ pensions.”
As site cleanup for the aluminum plant began, McConnell blocked a bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would have doled out federal money to help fund miners’ pensions.


‘Moscow Mitch’ Still Doesn’t Get It

GOP Waits to See if Trump Will Protect It From the NRA

GOP Operative Attacks Chinese Firms—and Lobbies for One
Every year the Treasury Department collects fees from coal companies based on how much coal they produce in their plants. Those fees are then doled out to the Department of the Interior in part for the purpose of cleaning up land that houses abandoned mines and for economic development and restoration of coal communities suffering from energy company bankruptcies. Manchin wanted to take the excess money from that fund and use it to secure coal miner pensions and health care plans. McConnell blocked the measure, claiming he wanted a more permanent fix to multiemployer pensions.

“There are amendments that benefit Americans and West Virginians that are being blocked by one person: Mitch McConnell,” Manchin said in a statement at the time. “He is the sole person that is blocking a vote on my amendment to… secure coal miners’ health care and pensions, even though it has bipartisan support and would better the lives of every West Virginian, Kentuckian and American.”

Making matters even more contentious was the fact that the majority leader helped steer $4 million in very similar federal funding for the Braidy aluminum plant construction. The $4 million came out of a $90 million allocation from the Treasury Department to the Department of the Interior to help three Appalachian states cope with the impact of a declining coal industry. The Department of the Interior did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, McConnell’s office defended his decisions.

“Leader McConnell has long been and will continue to be a strong supporter of Kentucky coal miners and their families. He has met with numerous Kentucky miners about important issues including the challenges facing their pension plan,” a spokesperson said. “Sen. McConnell is concerned about the challenges facing a number of multiemployer pension plans, including UMWA’s pension, and he believes it is best addressed through a broader bipartisan and bicameral pension reform effort.”

But some coal miners in Kentucky are threatening to throw their support behind McConnell’s main 2020 opponent, Amy McGrath, if the majority leader fails to pass legislation that would help secure their pensions. Thousands of miners in Kentucky rely on the monthly $600 check to pay the bills and to buy groceries for their families.

“We’re not ever going to quit until they give us what we’ve earned. We’re not going to quit until we get it. I hope Senator McConnell gets that. If he supports us, we will support him.”
— Dwayne Thompson, former Peabody Energy coal miner
“We’re not ever going to quit until they give us what we’ve earned. We’re not going to quit until we get it,” said Dwayne Thompson, a 72-year-old former Peabody Energy coal miner from Kentucky. “I hope Senator McConnell gets that. If he supports us, we will support him.”

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the national mining union, has for years called on McConnell and other lawmakers to pass legislation that would help mitigate the fallout of the increasing number of energy company bankruptcies and the closure of hundreds of mines. In 1974, Congress passed a law that established minimum standards for pension plans in private industry. That same year UMWA negotiated its pension plan with coal mining companies. But with the demise of the coal industry, the fund is running out of money. It’s expected to be insolvent by 2022.

Behind closed doors, two sources with direct knowledge say, McConnell has privately promised miners a more permanent fix to the pension issue, but even national coal mining leaders are skeptical that the Senate majority leader and his colleagues in Congress will help in the short term.

“Coal miners understand something—when people tell us ‘we’re going to pass legislation’… we don’t believe it,” said Cecil Roberts, president of the UWMA, at a recent speech in Washington. “Anyone who understands how Congress works knows that that’s a fight.”

Several miners who spoke to The Daily Beast said they felt McConnell had blocked the funding for pensions because some of the union members had decided to support his 2014 election opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. Others, though, were wary of going too far in their condemnation of the majority leader, saying that at the end of the day, McConnell was their best shot at ensuring they could continue providing for their families. (In 2017 McConnell helped push forward a bipartisan spending bill that included a permanent extension of health care benefits to thousands of coal miners.) On Friday two miners featured in an attack add by McGrath said they were not told their images would be used for a political campaign and demanded that McGrath stop airing them.

“We thank Mr. McConnell for what he did to help on our health care, but now he needs to finish the job and do something about our pensions,” said Bob Cox, a 73-year-old former miner who serves as the president of a local UMWA chapter. “It’s a day to day concern for a lot of the older people I live with. They’re not well and they don’t need the extra worry that it brings on. If anything goes wrong, we won’t last as long as we thought we would.” ... itter_page
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