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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Does Donald Trump Jr. have links to a crooked bank? (And more)

Does Donald Trump Jr. have links to a Mexican drug cartel? You may get that impression from this piece by Grant Stern. Despite my problems with Stern's work, I think it deserves a reading. A critical reading. Do your own research and say yea or nay as the evidence directs.
Baltic International Bank confirmed that Donald Trump Jr. collaborated with them one time in 2012.

But they denied any transactions showing their bank laundering money in a written statement last month.

Their denial is a lie.

It’s the only item published by Baltic International Bank’s account on Medium, which you can see below.

Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reporters examined the Baltic International Bank account records and transactions related to money laundering for the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel led by El Chapo.

The OCCRP also found detailed transactions showing that Baltic International Bank collaborated with Prevezon Holdings, the Cyprus company linked to the infamous Magnitsky case.
From the OCCRP, last May:
Prevezon Holdings, owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, and its subsidiaries were prosecuted in New York for laundering some of the US$230 million stolen by an organized crime group involving Russian government officials through a fraudulent tax refund scheme.

Some of the money was, according to the US Department of Justice, transferred to the international real estate company Prevezon, which then bought luxury New York apartments near Wall Street.

The fraud was uncovered by lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested after he exposed in 2008 the involvement of high-ranking Russian officials in the scheme. He was subsequently arrested and died a year later in a Russian jail under suspicious circumstances.
Now go to this WP piece from July 11:
Fusion GPS has said that it was working for the law firm BakerHostetler, which was representing Prevezon, a Russian holding company based in Cyprus, in its defense against Justice Department allegations that Prevezon laundered money stolen in the fraud Magnitsky uncovered. Veselnitskaya was Prevezon’s lawyer.
The OCCRP has been looking at Baltic International for a long time; this piece, for example, was published in 2011. Also from that year is this piece, which establishes that Baltic International has done business with all sorts of shady players, including Russian oligarchs, terrorists, and -- yes -- the Sinoloa Cartel.

It's the old story. Money needs laundering.

So far I've seen no evidence for the suggestion that DJT Jr. himself is linked to the Sinoloa cartel. The evidence does suggest that any would-be real estate mogul who wants to maintain a reputation for honesty would do well to avoid certain banks.

A Kos writer named Annieli is also trying to trace Junior's links to Baltic Insternational. She has come up with some interesting nuggets, although she primarily relies on Stern's piece. Again: That piece is definitely worth reading, but proceed with caution. Even by my gadfly standards, it would be irresponsible to suggest that the Trump clan has any link to Mexican drug cartels. The Trump/Baltic International/Russia connection seems to be made of far more solid stuff.

Whistling in the dark. This opinion piece by Ed Rogers in the WP is hilarious:
For all the breathless hype, the on-air furrowed brows and the not-so-veiled hopes that this could be Watergate, Jared Kushner’s statement and testimony before Congress have made Democrats and many in the media come to the realization that the collusion they were counting on just isn’t there.

As the date of the Kushner testimony approached, the media thought it was going to advance and refresh the story. But Kushner’s clear, precise and convincing account of what really occurred during the campaign and after the election has left many of President Trump’s loudest enemies trying to quietly back out of the room unnoticed.
Oh, puh-LEEZE. The email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. proves collusion beyond rational doubt; anyone who asks for further evidence is a flim-flam artist. Trump Sr. has been acting like a guilty man, firing Comey over the Russia investigation and seeking any excuse to get rid of Mueller. Trump's financial ties to Russians (including Russian/American mobsters) have been established beyond serious argument.

Jared Kushner is a demonstrated liar with ties to crooks. Not even a child would accept his excuses for the falsehoods told on his security forms. The man should lose his security clearance -- in fact, he should go to jail.

People like Rogers think that Kushner's testimony should be accepted at face value. That's the entire Republican defense: "A member of the Trump family said it, I believe it, and that settles it." One could, with as much justification, point to Julius Streicher's testimony at Nuremburg to "prove" that Streicher never advocated the extermination of the Jews. One could, with as much justification, point to Charlie Manson's testimony at his trial to "prove" that he had no connection to the murder of Sharon Tate.

Any Dem who did what Kushner did would be behind bars now. Alas, our culture has declared Republicans sacred. They may do that which Dems may not do.

This double standard is intolerable.

On a related note: Writing in the NYT, former CIA station chief Daniel Hoffman tries to resurrect the myth that the Russians were not intent on installing Trump; rather, the purpose was to create general chaos. Hoffman thinks he can sell this claim even though everything the Russians did helped Trump and hurt Hillary.

Hoffman's analysis does not pass the laugh test.

Let's look at his article through squinted eyes, shall we? I've been saying for a year now that a faction of the intelligence community is pro-Trump. Moreover, I've always suspected that Breitbart -- the far right propaganda operation linked to Steve Bannon and, through him, to Cambridge Analytica -- was spooked up. (No-one has ever properly explained where the massive initial funding came from.) I first voiced that suspicion when Andy himself was still inconveniently ambulatory and thus impeding Bannon's rise to power.

Are there any Infowarriors or Breitbarters or Alt Rightists or Fox Newsers out there who want to point to the previous paragraph as proof that I'm one of those awful, awful conspiracy theorists whom decent people must always shun? I would love to hear such an accusation -- especially if it comes from someone who supports Donald Fucking Trump, the God Emperor of the fear-peddlers. Given the many inane fantasies they have inflicted upon the body politic, I demand a little elbow room.

"Powdered, flowered, and confettied/Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!"
Could it be? Is it possible? Does Trump's mental decay have a link to his vanity?
Remember, mental confusion, poor decision making, impotence are all side effects of the hair loss pills Trump takes
The hell of it is, Trump would look a thousand times better if he rocked a Jim Carrey beard and a Yul Brynner dome.

Peggy Noonan, a Reaganite turned never-Trumper, has written a piece titled "Trump Is Woody Allen Without the Humor." No. Bob Hope was Woody Allen without the humor. Allen took some aspects of Hope's usual character -- cowardice, letchery, cynicism -- and added funnier lines, Jewishness, and intellectualism. Since Trump is the exact opposite of an intellectual, any comparison to Woody Allen falls apart.

That said, Noonan does raise some good points about our society's changing views of masculinity. Trump portrays himself as the quintessence of manliness, but he displays none of the traditional male virtues as defined by the popular culture of fifty or 75 years ago.

Consider, for example, the three great western stars of the 1940s and 50s -- John Wayne, Randolph Scott and (my favorite) Joel McCrae. They usually played characters who were quietly competent and self-effacing. In those days, a self-effacing attitude was not considered neurotic: It was knightly. Randolph Scott never bragged and rarely got angry; he simply took care of business and let others come to their own conclusions. In Cattle Drive, McCrae takes a young Donald Trump-type (played by Dean Stockwell) under his wing. McCrae wrings all of the vanity and arrogance out of the little brat and teaches him the Cowboy Way: Work hard, deal square, and never pretend to be better than everyone else.

Manliness has been redefined in recent times. This generation believes that the art of manliness requires temper tantrums, vanity, braggadocio, cheap threats, whining, name-calling, sneakiness, sadism, predatory sexuality, underhanded dealings, and unbridled narcissism. An Alt Rightist is a man who shrieks loudly and overestimates the size of his stick. There's a world of difference between Scott/McCrea/Wayne masculinity and Alt Right masculinity, just as there's a world of difference between riding the high country and playing video games in Mom's basement.

(That said, Wayne was kind of Alt Righteous in McClintock!, the worst movie he made during his Bircher Asshole Period.)

Is there anything masculine about the decor of that gold-encrusted suite atop Trump Tower? If Randolph Scott got a look at that place, he'd call it...well, let's just say that his assessment would now be considered politically incorrect. He might even have compared the owner of that suite to Tinkerbelle, or to that which Donald Trump likes to grab.
Comments:
I don't find anything compelling about that Trump Jr e-mail chain. He received an e-mail containing fifth-hand information about Clinton's alleged wrong-doings in Russia. Like the supposedly sinister meeting with the Russian lawyer, it is entirely inconsistent with someone who is meant to have a direct link to the Kremlim through Kislyak, and in any case this supposed information was never used, in that Trump doesn't seem to have accused Clinton of this.
 
This is why I can't watch MSM news. It drives me nuts even when inadvertently overhearing it...like the night the talking heads were all congratulating Jared for so effectively denying any guilt. Ugh. It's all optics, all the time.

It's interesting that you bring up the old Cowboy Code of manhood. Jimmy Stewart was my ideal man at one time (tho marrying someone who looked like him did not work out in the long run!). I've been recently watching all the old Cary Grant movies on youtube and the older the movies, it seems, the stronger the women.

It would've been nice had we built on those older strengths. I blame the 80s.




 
OMG! I have the HUGEST crush on Joel McCrae! Have you seen Foreign Correspondent (one of my favorite movies evah!!!)? I've read that "in real life" he had reputation as a good person, stayed married to the same woman for many, many years, and died a happy man at a ripe old age. What's not to love?
 
Stephen: Yawn.

Joseph, there are so many aspects of Trump's mental instability and poor character. He always strikes me as a neuter, das Donald. All the womanizing and big talk seem to be overcompensating.

His drive for sadistic domination is clear, though; nasty stuff.

In this story in The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum refreshes our memories and makes several interesting observations, such as how poorly Trump is aging; yet another angle on his mental instability. Link:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/the-tv-that-created-donald-trump
 
Kathleen: It's true. McCrae was known to be a genuinely good guy. It is said that when he played in The Virginian he felt like he was no longer acting -- he really WAS that guy. So he decided to stick to westerns for the rest of his career. Then he retired early, spent his earnings buying up a lot of ranch land in Ventura, and became a real life cowboy. He was a Republican -- supported Governor Pete Wilson -- but I can't believe that he'd have had anything but contempt for a con artist like Trump.

John Wayne was at his best when he played Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers" -- a complex character with a seriously dark side. Martin Scorcese summed up that performance in two words: "He's terrifying."

I don't think that many women had a crush on Randolph Scott. He was a great western star with a commanding presence, and I'm a big fan of many of his pictures -- but there was something asexual about him. I never got a gay vibe from him. More like a "no sex at all" vibe.

Tom: Thanks for the link. That's the piece I'll read next.

Zee, you're absolutely right. I think women in film have regained a position of strength NOW. But back in the 80s and 90s, every time I went to the movies, I kept thinking: "If we are living in an age of feminism, then why are the women currently seen in films so much weaker than were the actresses of the 30s and 40s?"

And Jimmy Stewart was almost as far to the right as John Wayne, although I don't think that Jimmy went down Birch lane. Great actor, though. There's nobody like him now.
 
Only because this blog post will be archived I have to nominate Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Tex Ritter. I loved that color process of Republic Pictures.

A few important women actors put the kabosh on strength of character in the late 1970's for their expressed politics, most noteworthy being Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda, and Glenda Jackson; so the 80s and 90s played safe, which allowed the mediocrity of "Thelma And Louise" to stick out like a bloody Kotex in a glass of milk.
 
Think about it. The resurrection of a media story about the purported suppression of Bloomberg story about a Russian speaking fee paid to former President Clinton while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State (http://observer.com/2017/07/natalia-veselnitskaya-hillary-clinton-magnitsky-act/) resulting in a lightening of Russian sanctions is a red herring. As Snopes.com finds, a single anecdote by a staffer doesn't prove the veracity of the claim (http://www.snopes.com/hillary-bill-clinton-russia-sanctions-speech/).

Nevertheless, could elements of this story be part of the "dirt" on Hillary Clinton that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was purportedly peddling to naive Donny-boy (Don, Jr.), Jared Kushner, and rest of the Trump 2016 campaign election gang-bangers?

Think about the transactional world dominated by billionaire businessmen like Putin, Russian gangster Semion Mogilevich (http://www.phillyvoice.com/reputed-philly-mobster-bumped-fbis-ten-most-wanted-list/), the Koch brothers (pulp, pipelines, chemicals, fertilizer, mineral companies, etc.), the DeVos (Amway) and Mercer (Renaissance Technologies/Computer Analytica) family fortunes. A $500k speaking fee paid to a former President is a tiny blip in the financial statement of an oligarch, and certainly not a sum worth a Secretary of State or former President compromising their integrity.

Isn't it more likely that Jared wasn't bored, but left meeting when Valerie started talking about some other, more personal stuff? Give the Russians more credit: surely the Veselnitskaya meeting was to bring up a more compelling topic for the Trump team than adoption, the Clintons, or the Magnitsky Act (a topic that is real yawner for American voters)? The promise of Clinton dirt is just another shiny object dangled in front of Don Jr. and Jared that was a way to get Russian feet in the door. It's the same kind of non-starter as "adoptions". If the meeting came to light, the purported topics would lead nowhere, effectively disguising Russia's real purpose for the meeting. Wasn't the meeting really about Kushner and Trump dirt?

I'd suggests not staring at the shiny object. Let's take a look at some real money that we're not talking about -- RICO Russian money-laundering deals, fraud, and tax evasion by developers that involve not just real estate in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Las Vegas, and Brooklyn (where Nets owner/developer Ratner built the Barclay Center), but ownership of sports teams in NJ and NY.

dataflo @punditcrawler.com
 
Remember how Jared Kushner's dad and future felon Charles Kushner together with Jon Corzine, a then NJ Senator (who later was a Goldman Sachs exec and CEO of now defunct MF Global http://fortune.com/2013/11/15/how-mf-globals-missing-1-5-billion-was-lost-and-found/) lost their bid to buy the NJ Nets to a Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner in 2004?Ratner subsequently built the Barclay Center in Brooklyn and moved the team out of Jersey (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/21/sports/basketball/brooklyn-developer-reaches-deal-to-buy-new-jersey-nets.html). Jared's reported to be quite sensitive about his developer father's conviction for tax fraud in NJ in 2004 (by Chris Christie) (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/byron-york-the-sordid-case-behind-jared-kushners-grudge-against-chris-christie/article/2620427)?

The Nets are now in Brooklyn, with a losing record since 2015 (https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/NJN/). Their Russian majority owner, oligarch and billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov, purchased a majority stake in the team in 2015. Just 2 years later, he is trying to liquidate his position in the losing team as fast as possible (https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/nets-owner-to-buy-russias-renaissance-capital/?_r=0)? Who will pay top dollar for a team with a losing record since 2014?

Prokhorov, a newspaper publisher reported to be the 14th richest person in Russia, is a media gadfly and former political rival of Russian President Putin (2012, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-16138739). He's been in the news in the last 18 months, initially as a target of Putin and his security forces ((http://www.newsweek.com/vladimir-putin-mikhail-prokhorov-brooklyn-nets-raid-offices-authorities-search-448074)). Recently, he's been in the U.S. and Russian press for trying to liquidate his investment in the Brooklyn Nets, and more recently, for his interview at his Russian estate with American comedian and entertainer, Stephen Colbert.

It's a compressed, curious timeline: after oligarch buys NBA team in 2015, his media business is raided by Putin (early Aug 2016), a year later losing team is up for sale (Apr 2017), American-savvy Russian oligarch is showcased on US network TV nervous U.S. comedian (Jul, 2017) (https://www.netsdaily.com/2017/4/21/15382192/prokhorov-has-yet-to-find-buyer-for-49-percent-stake-in-nets).

On August 1, 2016, it was rumored Prokhorov was trying to get his assets out of Russia (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-02/facing-kremlin-full-court-press-nets-owner-pivots-to-brooklyn).

In April, 2017, Russian media (RIA Novosti, the Russian news agency) first reported that the NBA's Brooklyn Nets' (Barclay Center) current owner, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, was putting a minority share in the Nets up for sale (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2017/04/21/brooklyn-nets-sale/).

With Stephen Colbert this July, the oligarch gave every appearance of being on solid economic ground and in Putin's good graces (http://www.salon.com/2017/07/20/how-to-be-a-russian-oligarch-stephen-colbert-sits-down-with-mikhail-prokhorov-outside-moscow/). Such a rapid turnaround from Putin pariah to proto-spokes-Russian seems a little fishy!

The Nets were still for sale 4 days ago when NBA approved splitting of Prokhorov's investment stakes in Barclay Center entertainment venues and the team. The next day, the NY Post reported Prokhorov is now "open" to seeking a buyer for his majority share in the team (http://nypost.com/2017/07/26/prokhorov-may-be-open-to-idea-of-selling-controlling-stake-in-the-nets/).

What's Prokhorov's hurry to unload the Nets? Will he sell a losing team at a loss for a tax credit? Does the shadow of shady financiers and developers -- like Bayrock Group (Trump Soho developer, long term Trump business partner, and intermediary for Kazakh money launderers http://rew-online.com/2014/04/02/judge-clears-the-way-for-bayrock-conspiracy-case-to-be-heard-in-court/) – hang over Prokhorov or Kushner?

dataflo @punditcrawler.com
 
T, I always love the New Yorker, but....TV critic. Let the reader beware. I was momentarily put off by "And yet 'The Apprentice' is also 'classy,' in Trumpian terms: no one eats bugs or gets too drunk. It’s a fun, upscale fantasy, a voguing competition in executive realness." Hey, back in the 70's and in the future coming vegan dystopia we WILL be eating bugs...and therefore, necessarily getting excessively drunk!

But mostly, I had a horrific time moving past this: "In 1999, he ruined a perfectly good episode of 'Sex and the City.' " Get real. Get REALLY real. There IS no "good" episode of that crap show, perfect or otherwise. I was only able to soldier through for two reasons: your generous and perfect YAWN to resident troll crap (thank you!), and the promise that aging Trump's feeble deterioration would be featured. Not that age is a detriment to those mentally alert. Just that Trump would mind his lack thereof being noticed.

Regardless, thanks for the link, this site is getting nicely reading-heavy....even tho now I have the burden of memorizing that writer's name in order to avoid her for all eternity because she thinks and opines in a venerable journal that there is even one "good" episode of that sewage show, Sex and the City.


 
prowlerzee, 'Sex and the City' is a good idea made execrable by Sarah Jessica Parker. If there is a more unattractive, ego-driven lead female out there I've yet to see her. And just in case anybody has failed to catch the series The Wire then go there now. No Emmys in five seasons but now rated by most TV critics as the Best TV Series Ever. Brilliant stuff.
 
Thomas, you may well be right about SATC. I was unable to watch even one episode due to my inability to suspend disbelief enough to imagine that SJP was attractive, so I cannot judge the concept. SJP was well cast in The First Wives Club and Ed Wood: characters we loved to hate!

As for The Wire, that's where I live. I moved right smack dab in it. Everyone tells me I would not have believed what it was like before. We have our street all bloomed up and for the most part the plants are left alone. Our block is kind of like Rear Window. Everyone is watching at any given moment, so we thwart a lot of would-be break-ins. Our local bar has a second floor with tons of TVs...maybe we can organize a The Wire watching party. I'd love some real Bmore feedback...met one of the writers at a diner. Maybe he could introduce each season, or something! ha, thanks for the idea!
 
P.Zee, true the NYer isn't what it once was. But we live in days when a TV critic has observations about the President, a guy who seems to have been living a rather public life of celebrity yet left few documents for those professionals who require documents, such as historians or political theorists. Trump, with the sealed settlements, NDAs, the autobiography written by another guy, is the bane of those who need documents.

I really don't watch enough TV to have seen much Trump in action myself. Agree with you on satc, saw even less of that.

Watched The Wire on DVD and was spellbound.

 
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