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Monday, April 03, 2017

We're now up to three Watergates a day

All I wanted was a day or two off -- a brief respite from the ongoing battle against the Trumpian hordes. But noooooooo. The fan blades keep a-turning, and a ceaseless stream of fecal matter keeps hurtling toward it.

People used to joke that Trump provides a new Watergate every few days. Now we get one every few hours.

Watergate #1: Blackwater backchannel. Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater (or whatever they are calling it these days) established a Trump/Putin backchannel, and he used the UAE to do so -- or so says the WP. Here's the section that really fries my eggs:
The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.
Dig it: During the election, a certain type of lefty repeatedly told us that a vote for Hillary was a vote for war. We were told that, for all of his faults, Trump would establish a more reasonable non-neocon stance toward Syria and Iran.

Nope. Instead, the Trumpers sought to convert Putin to neocon warmongering.

All of which goes a long ways toward explaining why Michael Ledeen and Michael Flynn joined the Trump crusade early on.

Watergate #2: Carter Page and the Russian spies.  This is the same story that Rachel Maddow was discussing earlier tonight. (I didn't catch the whole show; thank the Powers Above for Youtube. See below.)
The adviser, Carter Page, met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government alongside two others for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government. The charges, filed in January 2015, came after federal investigators busted a Russian spy ring that was seeking information on US sanctions as well as efforts to develop alternative energy. Page is an energy consultant.

A court filing by the US government contains a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Podobnyy speaks with one of the other men busted in the spy ring, Igor Sporyshev, about trying to recruit someone identified as “Male-1.” BuzzFeed News has confirmed that “Male-1” is Page.
The Russians, recorded surreptitiously, treated Page with hilariously undisguised contempt, even though they passed documents to him.
It remains unclear how connected Page was to the Trump campaign. He rose to prominence seemingly out of nowhere last summer, touted by then-candidate Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page was quickly cut from the Trump team following reports that federal investigators were probing his ties to Russian officials. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last month that the campaign had sent Page cease and desist letters last year, demanding he stop associating himself with it.
In truth, though, this new revelation isn't at all surprising: Before 2013, Page dealt with Gazprom and had invested in the Kremlin’s state-run gas company. Yet Trump picked him as a key foreign policy adviser during the campaign. What does that fact tell you?

Watergate #3: Cambridge Analytica. In the video embedded above, Keith Olbermann reminds us of the leading role that Steve Bannon had in the psy-war firm Cambridge Analytica. Olbermann leaves out the fact that Cambridge Analytica is heavily tied to Russia. (Maybe Olbermann doesn't know that bit yet. I learned it rather late in the day -- and my mind is still blown.)

In essence, Trump picked a Russian hench-creature to function as his key bully-boy.

A wonderful writer named Carolyn O has done some Sherlock Holmesing and has discovered that Cambridge Analytica received some important help from Peter Thiel. The following was adapted from her Twitter feed. (I have taken the liberty of translating her words out of Twitter-ese and into conventional prose.)
Things you should know...

Global Science Research/Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) harvested data on 30 million unwitting FB users. The source of this money was a pro-Trump PAC called "Make America #1." "Make America #1" paid millions to Cambridge Analytica (CA) and covertly funneled money to Bannon after he said he stepped from down from CA.

We know that "Make America #1" is bankrolled primarily by the Mercers (who also own & invest in Cambridge Analytica). We also know that Cambridge Analytica mined the data of unwitting Facebook users on behalf of the Trump campaign.

We also know that FB hired one of the people who helped mine the data of unwitting FB users to give to CA.

Louise Mensch just asked if Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member, could have been involved in any of this. I think I just found an answer.

FEC filings show that Thiel gave $1 million to the pro-Trump PAC that was funneling $$ to Bannon. So a Facebook board member (Thiel) gave $1 million to a PAC that was paying the company that covertly harvested your data...from FB.
Meanwhile, the Trumpers are trying to pretend that Susan Rice is at fault here. They want us to think that any attempt to unmask the "minimized" Americans in those Russian communications constitutes a political hit job. But how the hell would anyone know who those Americans were?

We must also consider the chronology: Trumplandia linked up with crooked Russians long before the Trump campaign began. The intercepts involving Page take us back to 2013. Trump had Russian mobsters living right below him years before that. I recently read that the FBI first started to keep tabs on criminal activity in Trump Tower back in the 1980s. Something about that place seems to attract scum.

Obviously, the fault is not with Rice. The fault is with Page, Prince, Manafort and Trump for dealing with these slimeball Russian mobsters and spooks in the first place. And now their only defense is: "How DARE you uncover our treason?"

The problem isn't that the FBI spied on Team Trump during the previous administation. The problem is that the previous administration didn't do enough. Obama should have warned us about these jackals before the election.

A final note: I have a nice piece all lined up about Devin Nunes -- but how many people are still interested in him? The Nunes sub-scandal was four or five Watergates ago!

Tea Pain (via PalmerReport) explains the data streams from Trump Tower/Spectrum Health to Alfa Bank. What looks like innocuous (even meaningless) data transfer is in fact data replication between two tied data bases.

Trump was providing US voter contact details to Russian trolls who would micro-target them with personalized pro-Trump/anti-Hillary propaganda.
Some of us are still interested in your every piece because we're unable to stomach watching either pomp-ass Olbermann or school-smarmy Maddow and rely on your take. And your translating of tweets to English is also much appreciated! Maybe you can include some of that unposted material in a rundown, of sorts, of scandals by magnitude? A kind of "scandals at a glance" --- altho I would still probably require illustration to understand. Yes, I'm wanting to see more Cannon drawings, but maybe it would afford you some stress relief to skewer the super-villain in comic form? I'm most confused by the Spy vs Spy thing amongst our own spooks. How is it that the pro-Trump faction has been more successful than the anti-Trump? What has been thwarting those who already knew all of this? Public attention? Did they need to give Trump enough rope (which would be a lot to fit over his swelled head)?

Well thanks for all your hard work and don't forget to take it easy during all this digging!
Nunes is still fascinating to me because of the one degree of separation we share (spouse met him socially in his congressional district.) The social event was a "reading club." (The only reading done involved wine labels.) Said spouse was left with the impression that Nunes was formerly involved in "the spy world," like a military type who once did intelligence gathering. (Spouse's knowledge of American politics is very vague.) The meeting was in the house of a --wait for it-- Turkish national (also a complete bumbling idiot.) Other attendees included a Hungarian national--true American success story. (came to America and worked in gas stations before finally getting license to practice medicine.) I must admit this is as strange a group of foreign nationals as could be gathered into the hinterlands of the San Joaquin Valley.

Nunes has an "app" on iTunes. I believe it is to provide info regarding his congressional actions and other news to the interested. Weirdly enough, the label "Hungary" appears on it.

Prefer this not be published. Always enjoy your columns and am always surprised when I (very occasionally) disagree with you.
I think if dumb opponent was anyone other than Hillary democrats would have done something substantial by now. They don't want to risk the chance she may actually becomes the president if the election invalidated.
I also thank Cannon for watching the deplorable so we don't have to.
Quoting Joseph Cannon "Dig it: During the election, a certain type of lefty repeatedly told us that a vote for Hillary was a vote for war. We were told that, for all of his faults, Trump would establish a more reasonable non-neocon stance toward Syria and Iran.

Nope. Instead, the Trumpers sought to convert Putin to neocon warmongering." end quote.

What an excellent recollection and regurgitation of this key talking point during the 2016 campaign.
Dig it: During the election, a certain type of lefty repeatedly told us that a vote for Hillary was a vote for war. We were told that, for all of his faults, Trump would establish a more reasonable non-neocon stance toward Syria and Iran.

Just echoing Alessandro Machi here: yep, we remember this quite well, Joseph--and thank you for bringing it up.

It's all true, of course--and among those were H.A. Goodman, the Amazing Atheist, Susan Sarandon, and of course, Jill Stein. Funny enough, no one has managed to wrangle out of Stein a reason why the hell she was seated at the same table with Putin and Flynn in Moscow back in 2015...or the fact that she went after Hillary with far more vitriol and anger while letting Trump off the hook.

Perhaps Trump and company weren't the only suckers used by Vlad back in 2016 (but then again, Stein is mentioned in the "dossier")
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