Conservative writer Erick Erickson
says he knows personally one of the WP's sources for its bombshell story. The source was staunchly pro-Trump but has since become...well, let us say a tad concerned
But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.
Again I ask: What the hell did Fred Trump do
to his kid?
I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported. The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.
The implication here is that the Russians may be able to back-engineer the source of the intelligence and thus endanger the life of an asset in the field.
A few people, including myself, have speculated that Israel is the unnamed allied country referenced in this instantly-famous WP article
doesn't come right out and say "It was Israel," but if you enjoy reading between the lines...
Trump's defenders keep saying that he has nothing to do with Russian money. Trump's lawyers have been making that same claim.
However, it is well-known that one of the few banks willing to lend big money to Trump after his bankruptcies was Deutsche Bank, which was fined for a $10 billion money laundering scheme benefiting Russians
. The scheme involved something called "mirror trading," described in this fine New Yorker piece
It worked like this: between 2011 and 2015, related corporate entities in Moscow and London bought and sold identical quantities of the same stock, through Deutsche Bank’s Moscow equities desk. By this alchemy, rubles in Russia were transformed into dollars in London. The process bypassed tax officials, currency regulators, and anti-money-laundering controls.
The head of Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, was forced out by the scandal. Guess where he ended up? That's right: The Bank of Cypus -- the favorite bank of Vladimir Putin and his Russian oligarch pals. He was chosen for that position by Wilbur Ross, the Trump chum who just became our Commerce secretary, and by a billionaire crony of Vladimir Putin's named Viktor Vekselburg. It seems that Putin turned against Vekselburg
late last year; they've since kissed and made up
As it happens, Vekselburg has a partner named Len Blavatnik, worth $20 billion. Although Blavatnik made his money in Russian oil, he has strong American ties -- in fact, he owns Warner Music. He also made a seven figure donation to a Super PAC controlled by Mitch McConnell
-- which explains why you should not expect Mitch to show any enthusiasm for any kind of probe (either independent or congressional) which might inconvenience Trump's Russian buddies.
Trump's lawyers did concede that a Russian purchased a Donald Trump property in Florida for $95 million, even though most observers agree that its actual market value was less than half that. Such a purchase is a good way to hide a "donation" or a bribe. (Paul Manafort
seems to have benefited from a similar deal, albeit on a smaller scale.)
The man who bought the house was -- as most of you already know -- Dmitry Rybolovlev, who also
owns the largest stake in the Bank of Cyprus. Therefore, we may say that he is part of the Putin/Vekselburg/Wilbur Ross "club." Rybolovlev also owns the private jet registered as M-Kate which has mysteriously followed Donald Trump's peregrinations the way my dog would follow me if I were carrying a BLT sandwich.
Another point. People forget that Deutsche Bank and Donald Trump were not always on good terms -- in fact, their conflict gave rise to one of the more bizarre lawsuits of Trump's career. He later got loans not from Deutsche Bank per se but from a subsidiary, which always seems to go unnamed in news accounts. See this Mother Jones investigation
from last year:
Trump has four large mortgages with Deutsche Bank, borrowing against three of his most prized possessions: the Doral golf resort in Florida, his Chicago tower, and his brand new Washington luxury hotel. For the Washington hotel, Trump has a $170 million line of credit from Deutsche Bank that was granted in 2015, just as his presidential campaign was kicking off. According to a bank spokeswoman, all four of the loans were obtained from Deutsche's "private bank"—a division that caters exclusively to high-net-worth individuals and that can lend separately from the corporate side of the bank.
The corporate side of Deutsche Bank previously loaned to Trump, but the relationship fell apart around the time of the financial crisis. In 2005, Trump borrowed $640 million from Deutsche Bank and several other lenders for the construction of his Chicago hotel tower. When he failed to pay back the money on time in 2008, the banks, including Deutsche Bank, demanded he pay the $40 million he had personally guaranteed. In response, Trump sued Deutsche Bank for $3 billion, saying the project's financial troubles were the fault of the economic recession, which he claimed the bank had helped cause. He accused Deutsche Bank of undermining the project and his reputation. The lawsuit was eventually settled.
It's not clear if Trump has personally guaranteed any of the loans his businesses have with Deutsche Bank.
If Trump didn't guarantee those loans, then who did?
Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor report separately (based on "sources") that the US Marshalls have come up with a plan to serve warrants in relation to the Trump/Russia investigation. Here's Mensch's piece
Sources say that the extensive plan, multiple pages in length, covered not only the serving of warrants, but logistical arrangements such as the closure of streets, if necessary.
They further report that while timing is uncertain, such plans are normally only presented and approved when arrests are imminent.
Do I believe this? Ummm...not really. Does my crush on Ms. Mensch remain intact? Oh yes.