Before we get to Manafort -- the main subject of this post -- let us note that Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez has announced that he and several other members of the Judiciary Committee plan to file impeachment charges
against Trump before Thanksgiving.
While the effort wouldn’t be the first attempt to impeach Trump — Texas Democrat Al Green filed articles of impeachment in early October — Gutierrez told Inc. that his group will be the first to make a coordinated effort.
“We appreciate single members putting in on their own articles of impeachment, (but) we’re going to use a lot of constitutional scholars and really make a case that the president should be impeached,” Gutierrez said.
Do you recall the story that hit a couple of weeks ago -- the one about Manafort receiving some $60 million in "loans" from Kremlin-connected Russian oligarch Oleg Deripsaka
? The indictment
doesn't talk about those loans, at least not directly. A superficial glance at the indictment leaves you with the impression that it's all about the money Manafort got from the Party of Regions, the pro-Russia Ukrainian party.
However: The indictment also lists many big ticket purchases which Manafort made using money laundered through Cyprus and elsewhere. Much of the money came from a Cyprus company called Yiakora Ventures Limited.
From a Business Insider story
published on October 13 (well before the indictment hit):
According to an NBC News report published Friday evening, a loan of $26 million was transferred from a company owned by Deripaska to the company, Yiakora Ventures, Ltd., which is linked to Manafort's business interests in Cyprus.
That $26 million loan was classified as "repayable on demand," though it was not immediately clear whether it had actually been repaid.
So. Deripaska owns Yiakora.
An additional $7 million was delivered to another Manafort-linked outfit, LOAV Advisers, The New York Times previously reported.
LOAV is another Deripaska company. Why was it giving so much money to Manafort? I don't know. He spent a large chunk of the loot on "home improvement" and other items.
Here's a story
in the Business Press about Lucicle Consultants Limited, another "on paper" corporation that loaned millions to Manafort:
In addition, a second company linked to Manafort, the Delaware-based Jesand L.L.C. received a $9.9m loan from the Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Ltd, linked to Ivan Fursin, a parliamentarian of Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, according to the New York Times report. While Lucicle’s ownership is unclear, the link to Fursin is established via Mistaro Ventures, a St. Kitts and Nevis-based firm linked to the Ukrainian politician. In Feburary 2012, Mistaro transferred “millions” to Lucicle before the latter extended the $9.9m loan to Jesand, which is also unsecured, carries a 3.5 per cent annual interest rate and is payable on demand, the US newspaper reported.
It added that, while the documents containing information about the loans were filed in 2015 and concern the financial year 2013, there is no indication that the loans had been repaid in the meantime.
Let's not overlook a very basic question: What the hell are these companies loaning millions to Manafort for
The Manafort-linked company with the coolest name has to be Leviathan Advisors Limited. Although listed as a Cyprus corporation, the official address
c/o IMAGO Treuhand AG
That's a "Trust Company" in Switzerland. They have an office and a phone number (+41 41 662 18 80) and all of that. According to Yelp, Imago does accountancy and tax preparation.
Another Manafort-friendly Cypriot company is Global Highway Limited, which was "born" in 2007. The firm was dissolved
on November 1, 2016. The company seems to have existed for the sole purpose of loaning money to Paul Manafort. Do you think he ever paid any of it back?
The White House argues that this "funny money" business occurred years before the Trump campaign got underway. That argument misses the point: Trump's campaign chair owed his entire fortune to a fabulously-wealthy Putin ally. The evidence suggests that Manafort was paid to aid Putin's interests in the west
Via another company -- MC Soho Holdings (funded by those same shady Cyprus companies) -- Manafort bought ritzy properties, including a condo in an upscale part of Manahattan. Wanna see what it looks like? Here you go:
Nice furniture. I'd love to spend a few hours reading on that sofa: That brown leather is probably butter-soft. But what's the deal with the art? Is that supposed
to be art?
Funny thing about Manafort's properties: He gets loans
for more money than the properties are worth.
Public records dated just days before Trump was sworn in as President show that Manafort transferred the Carroll Gardens brownstone from MC Brooklyn Holdings to his own name and refinanced the loans with The Federal Savings Bank, in the process taking on more debt. He now has $6.8 million in loans on a building he bought for $3 million, records show.
David Reiss, a professor of real estate law at Brooklyn [Law School], initially expressed bafflement when asked about the transactions. Reiss then looked up the home’s value on Zillow, a popular source for estimating real estate values. The home’s “zestimate” is $4.5 to $5 million.
Reiss said unless there is another source of collateral, it is extremely unusual for a home loan to exceed the value of the property. “I do think that transaction raises yellow flags that are worth investigating,” he said.
Looks to me as though there's an American bank that has some 'splainin' to do. Maybe the cow painting is worth a million. I understand that it's an original Renoir.
It has now been established that Paul Manafort owned three separate passports.
On a related note:
Remember THAT dossier? The Trumpers keep saying that it has been discredited, even though only one aspect of the thing has been semi-successfully challenged: Trump attorney Michael Cohen insists that he has never been in Prague, as the dossier alleges. Cohen says that his passport proves this claim, since it lacks any stamp showing that he has ever entered the Czech Republic.
To the best of my knowledge, Cohen's passport is the sole piece of hard evidence against the dossier.
Allow me to repeat
: It has now been established that Paul Manafort owned three
Why would anyone have three? The answer should now be obvious.
Manafort seems not to have paid any Federal taxes on all of this foreign money. In all likelihood, he didn't pay state taxes either. Conclusion: Trump can't rescue the guy with a pardon -- even though Manafort's lawyer obviously hopes to obtain a "Get out of jail free" card. Trump has no power to pardon a state offense.
George Papadopoulos (whose name I have misspelled in previous posts) is linked to Boris Epshteyn
(another man whose name I have misspelled in previous posts).
In September, Papadopoulos emailed another Trump aide, Boris Epshteyn, and told him he planned to be in New York and hoped to set up meetings around the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
The email was described to The Washington Post in August of this year and is among 20,000 pages of documents that the Trump campaign has turned over to the White House, Congressional committees and defense attorneys.
Papadopoulos wrote that he wanted to connect Epshteyn with a friend, Sergei Millian of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce, the emails said.
Millian would later be identified as a major source for the author of a dossier that included unsubstantiated salacious allegations about Trump’s activities in Russia, a claim Millian has denied.
Epshteyn said he never met Millian and declined to comment further. Asked in August to describe his relationship with Papadopoulos, Millian responded by email, “I can meet and talk to any person. . . . It’s none of your business.”
As regular readers know, I received an anonymous tip that Epshteyn was "Source E" in the Steele Dossier -- one of the three sources for the urination episode. Although I've not been able to confirm this claim, Epshteyn's c.v. lines up with a description of Source E published in the Washington Post. ABC News and the Wall Street Journal identified Millian as "Source D,"
a claim which Millian has denied.
In that July 2016 interview, Millian portrayed himself as a close business associate of Trump’s real estate company. He also said that Trump liked Russia because “he likes beautiful Russian ladies.”
A transatlantic coffee boy.
Millian denied in the interview that he was involved with Russian intelligence services, but at the same time claimed to be “one of those very few people who have insider knowledge of Kremlin politics.”
He said that his “insider information and connections to Russia” could translate “to great benefits for the American administration.”
Yesterday, former Trump adviser Michael Caputo said that Papadopoulos was just a "coffee boy" on the campaign. Oh really?
Papadopoulos claims to have worked as a director for the London Centre of International Law Practice from Febuary 2016 to April 2016. He officially joined the Trump campaign in the interim, on March 21, 2016.
The guy came all the way from London just to serve coffee
? He gave up a prestigious position just to serve coffee
I've heard some pundits claims that Papadopoulos committed no crime other than lying to the feds. It's hardly so simple. The Palmer Report reminds us of some basics
Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos formally confessed this week to having conspired with the Russian government to try to procure emails that had supposedly been hacked and stolen from Hillary Clinton. There is still no evidence that Hillary’s emails ever were hacked. Nonetheless, Papadopoulos entered into a conspiracy with the Kremlin aimed at receiving stolen property. That’s a federal crime. It’s also a crime for a campaign to conspire to receive gifts of any value from a foreign government. Papadopoulos likely wasn’t charged with these crimes because he cut a deal – but he’s implicated several others in these crimes.
If Trump participated in a meeting which discussed receiving stolen emails, that's it. Game over. He is party to a conspiracy.
Finally: Christo Grozev
tweeted a cute response to the insane "blame Hillary" conspiracy theory promulgated by Fox:
The Democrats colluded with Russia *before election* to leak the Steele dossier *after* election. Because why use it *before*.