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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Donald Trump is beyond left and right

The headline deserves expansion: Although Trump himself is locatable on the far, far right, opposition to him includes both left and right. As a result, bedfellows have never been stranger. Examples follow.

USA Today is generally considered a center-right publication -- one not known for its in-depth investigative reporting. Yet this piece is a blockbuster, even though some of the material is familiar:
The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

Among them:

• A partner in the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia.

• An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme.

• Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia.

• A former mayor from Kazakhstan was accused in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2014 of hiding millions of dollars looted from his city, some of which was spent on three Trump SoHo units.

• A Ukrainian owner of two Trump condos in Florida was indicted in a money-laundering scheme involving a former prime minister of Ukraine.

Trump's Russian connections are of heightened interest because of an FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russian operatives to interfere in last fall's election. What’s more, Trump and his companies have had business dealings with Russians that go back decades, raising questions about whether his policies would be influenced by business considerations.

Trump told reporters in February: "I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. I have no loans with Russia at all."

Yet in 2013, after Trump addressed potential investors in Moscow, he bragged to Real Estate Weekly about his access to Russia's rich and powerful. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room,” Trump said, referring to Russians who made fortunes when former Soviet state enterprises were sold to private investors.
Of course, much of this fruit was ripe for the plucking during the actual campaign. Instead, the media wasted time on nonsense allegations about the (entirely laudable) Clinton Foundation and Hillary's private email server (which was completely mis-reported).


Congressman Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina, has asked Devin Nunes to step down from the Trump investigation. I believe that Jones is the first Republican to do so.
"How can you be chairman of a major committee and do all these things behind the scenes and keep your credibility? You can't keep your credibility," Jones said just off the House floor.

Former CIA Director John McLaughlin
says that Russia did intervene in our election on behalf of Trump, and that this project was Russia's "most effective covert operation in decades." Is he saying that there was an even more effective covert operation twenty or thirty years ago? When? Where? What? How can such a thing even be possible?

McLaughlin offered an interesting reaction to some of the claims heard concerning the Nunes affair:
"He could have gotten this access on Capitol Hill, actually. We don't know who provided it. There is an intelligence staff at the national security council usually headed by an intelligence officer who's been detailed there. Sheer speculation that it could have been that person, it could have been someone who traveled down to the complex to meet with him. We just don't know that."
Many talking heads on teevee have said that Capitol Hill did not have the proper facilities. McLaughlin says otherwise, and he should know.

With all due respect to "The Magician," the idea that Nunes was invited to this strange meeting by that one lowly intelligence officer strikes me as faintly ridiculous. Do you really think that a surprise text message from that guy could make Nunes leap out of his Uber ride? Could that guy arrange access without the knowledge of anyone else in the White House? Not likely.

The most important take-away from this affair is that it proves a point I've been making for a long, long time: There is a pro-Trump faction within our intelligence community. Putin helped Trump get where he is, but so did our own spooks. You won't hear that should-be-obvious point made by the "spooks against Trump" on Twitter.

As I keep telling the world, Breitbart has been a very "spooky" outfit for a long, long time. Maybe if I repeat those words long enough, people will start to look at the evidence.

I can't cite chapter and verse at the moment, but I've seen commentary on cable news indicating that Nunes has been dealing with (manipulated by?) his own intelligence contacts for years -- well before he became the head of the intel committee. Thus, it is fair to posit that the "Breitbart" faction within the intelligence community recruited Devin Nunes a long time ago.

Or perhaps they acquired kompromat on him...?


Dick Cheney. Good lord, whoever thought we'd live long enough to see Dick Goddamn Cheney say something that makes perfect sense to liberals?
"There was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic, fundamental democratic processes," Cheney said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "In some quarters that would be considered an act of war."
THANK YOU, Mr. Vice President. Mind you, this doesn't mean that we've forgiven, y'know, that whole Iraq war thing...

Slowly, surely, Republicans are turning against Antipresident Trump. When will Ryan crack? 

And on the other side: On the left-wing Consortium site -- which I've lauded in many previous posts -- Ray McGovern and Bill Binney offer up excuses for Donald Trump and Devin Nunes

I just want the world to make sense again.
cheney's concerns are raised when US supremacy - and thus his own money interests - are threatened.

as for the the mcgovern input, it sure seems he's the one making a red herring of wiretapping. i mean, to claim that someone revealed to nunes that everyone is surveilled just begs credulity; we all know - and nunes is not so dumb he's any exception - what snowden exposed years ago. that is simply no news snewz.

my sense of mcgovern has been mixed; he often questions the most questionable in these IC roles, but it's hard to sense where his allegiances truly lie. most often it appears it's with the IC source he most recently relied on.
wrt mclaughlin's comment on the 'most successful covert russian operation in decades,' the missile crisis comes to mind. they set up all those missiles in cuba pointing right at us, right at our doorstep, under our noses. opportunistic, diabolical, and exceedingly dangerous, all true. but still, mighty slick.

which should alert us to the likelihood they're in the midst of something even more destructive as we fret.
What are we to make of the pro-Trump "spook" faction? I have no doubt it exists, but it seems like they can't exert enough influence to stop the investigations. If they had real power, I'd think the story wouldn't have gotten this far already. Seems like all they can do is delay and obfuscate which won't be enough.
"One not known for its in-depth investigative reporting"

USA Today - the newspaper for people who find television too difficult.
The problem with Cheney's comment is its implication: the only proportionate response to an act of war is, well, war. That's what the term "act of war" means. Is he seriously suggesting the US go to war with Russia over thus far unproven allegations made by anonymous sources?
Cheney's support for the Russian interference in the election story makes me question its validity. Just a reflexive reaction. What does he gain by pushing this? I suspect he's on of those Republicans (well, neo-cons) that wants Pence as President. I don't think that would be a good thing, but I suppose at least we'd have someone who could assemble a decent sentence and who probably has the intelligence and desire to understand what the job of President entails. But if it means war with Russia, I'd say that is the one area where I'd rather have Trump. Of course, Trump really isn't lessening tensions with Russia like he said he would do. Also, only Dick Cheney could make me feel like maybe Trump isn't so bad, when he clearly is. I just wonder if getting Pence in was the plan all along, with Trump just acting as cover to make the Republicans seem reasonable in comparison. Nobody else could have done that.
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