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Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Donald Trump drinking game

Someone online proposed a new drinking game. The game has one simple rule: Take a shot of vodka every time a new Trump scandal arises.

I don't drink often, but I thought I'd give this game a try. After a mere 36 hours of Trump-watching, I put on a pair of mismatched shoes and tried to lie down on the ceiling. Unfortunately, sleep was impossible because the cat kept delivering messages from Odin.

(Did I tell you we have a cat in the house now? I'm not a cat person.)

A week of this game will surely result in cirrhosis. Trump's accomplishment deserves our deepest respect: No other figure in political history has crammed so many major scandals into such a small amount of time. Let's hit as many points as we can...

O'Keefe. Trump tried to hire James O'Keefe to steal Obama's records at Columbia University. Frankly, I'd like to see those records myself; as longtime readers know, I have expressed my own eldritch suspicions about Mr. O's school days. But I want to see those records legally. Trump, it seems, is not so picky...
O'Keefe wrote that during the 2013 meeting Trump suggested O'Keefe infiltrate Columbia and obtain the sealed records: "'Nobody else can get this information,'" O'Keefe quoted Trump as saying. "'Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'"

O'Keefe said he explained to Trump that the request did not fall into his "line of work," and that he considered himself and his colleagues to be journalists, not "private eyes."

But that didn't seem to deter Trump. At the end of the meeting, O'Keefe wrote, "Trump shook my hand, encouraged me to keep up the good work, and half-whispered, 'Do Columbia.'"
As you probably know (and as Trump probably did not know), solicitation to commit a crime is itself a crime. Let's look at the legal definition of "solicitation," courtesy of
The crime of criminal solicitation is the actual soliciting, or seeking to engage another to commit a crime, not the subsequent commission of a crime. Therefore, a defendant can be convicted of soliciting, even though the person refuses and the solicited crime is never perpetrated, as long as the intent that that crime be committed is present.
Right now, you're probably thinking: Is that it? Have we finally got him? Sorry, but...
A person may not be convicted of criminal solicitation upon the uncorroborated testimony of the person allegedly solicited, and there must be proof of circumstances corroborating both the solicitation and the defendant's intent.
Do we have corroboration? Well...yes and no, but mostly no. Let's go back to the above-linked story about O'Keefe...
In the book, O'Keefe writes that the meeting was arranged by Republican political operative Sam Nunberg. Reached by phone, Nunberg recalled the meeting and confirmed he set it up. He said Trump was impressed with O'Keefe's work and, among other things, the number of retweets O'Keefe would get on Twitter.

Nunberg stressed repeatedly that he did not believe during the meeting that Trump was asking O'Keefe to "commit a crime."

"I recall that the Columbia records were brought up," Nunberg told CNN. "I in no way recall Trump asking James to do something illegal. ... He did not ask him to go in there and break in and get the records."

Nunberg added, "Trump was saying something along the lines of, 'Try to find somebody you can talk to that's saying we are hiding the records.' Something along those lines."
Uhhh...Mr. Nunberg? That last bit doesn't make any sense. You do realize that, don't you?

Methinks that Nunberg is offering a strained interpretation of events because Nunberg understands what solicitation is. Trump doesn't.

At any rate, what O'Keefe has revealed is still an impeachable offense. The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is not restricted to violations of the U.S. Code. Imagine how Newt Gingrich would have reacted if Bill Clinton had whispered "Do Columbia." The initial stages of impeachment proceedings would be underway within a week.

Wouldn't it be delightful if James Fucking O'Keefe blurted out information that led to Trump's political demise?

The new sex scandal. The idea of Trump's lawyer offering a sizable (but not overwhelmingly generous) amount of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels does not surprise or shock many people. Trump is Trump. Daniels denies the charge -- but then again, that denial would be the whole point of the pay-out, n'est-ce pas? Her friend Alana Evans confirms the charge, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal. A number of other indicators tell us that the WSJ's report is more credible than Stormy's denial.

Some are arguing that this story proves that Trump is indeed susceptible to sexual blackmail. Not really: Offering hush money is not the same thing as receiving a blackmail threat.

My big question: Why did this story appear in the WSJ? That's a very pro-Trump periodical. How did they get the story?

Some speculate that a sex scandal, whether real or concocted, serves the purpose of diverting the country from the "shithole" debacle. Maybe the Journal was actually trying to help Trump.

Denial. Will anyone buy Trump's denial that he made the "shithole" slur? If he didn't use that term, then why didn't the other Republicans in the room rush the nearest camera to announce "He didn't say it"? I understand that, after a long period of confused silence, they eventually made half-hearted "I do not recall..." statements. Not the same thing.

Moby. Here's an odd story: Musician Moby says that he has hobnobbed with CIA friends who have declared Trump a "Manchurian Candidate."
“Yeah, so years of touring and spending time in DC and New York, I’ve managed to make a few friends in the intelligence community. And I guess this is about a year ago, we were having dinner and they were really concerned — partially based, not to go too much into the weeds — this Fusion GPS report on Trump essentially being run as a Russian agent. And these are some active and former CIA agents who … they’re truly concerned,” Moby explained.

“They were like, ‘This is the Manchurian Candidate, like [Putin] has a Russian agent as the President of the United States,’ and so they passed on some information to me and they said like, ‘Look, you have more of a social media following than any of us do, can you please post some of these things just in a way that … sort of puts it out there.'”
Hard to know what to make of this. Some people falsely claim to be CIA -- and some within the CIA don't tell the truth, or (more commonly) may present opinion as fact.

Funny money. Remember the first few times Trump denied having "anything to do with Russia"? Originally, he felt compelled to add that maybe there may have been Russians who bought units in his buildings. "I dunno." I distinctly recall him adding the words "I dunno."

Well, turns out that the issue is far more important than most of us understood. Why? Because those units were purchased cash -- by shell companies. Moreover, the sales add up to $1.5 billion dollars -- which is, by any standard, a hell of a lot of money.

So we can't let Trump minimize the issue: If Russians bought units in Trump buildings, that's pretty freakin' important. Do not overlook this important Buzzfeed report on Trumpian money laundering.
But a months-long BuzzFeed News examination of every Trump condominium sale in the US shows that such sales surged in the late 2000s and early 2010s, when some Trump businesses were in financial trouble and when Donald Trump Jr. made his now-famous remark about the Trump Organization seeing “a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Eighty-seven "electronic devices." This comes from Palmer, whose ultimate source seems to be Rachel Maddow. (I haven't yet seen last night's show.)
It was Rachael Maddow who discovered that in Mueller’s latest court filings in the case against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the Mueller team is now disclosing possession of eighty-seven electronic devices, as opposed to just thirty-six such devices a month ago. That means that in the past month, Mueller and his team have somehow come into possession of an additional fifty-plus laptops and cellphones from Trump’s people. Here’s what that means in terms of prosecution and the overall investigation.

If Trump’s people were their usual sloppy selves, it’s unlikely that they wiped (or sufficiently wiped) any of the devices they had been using. This means Mueller would have access to every word processing document they typed, and perhaps access to personal email accounts that were being used on those laptops. The cellphones would not provide recordings of transition team phone conversations, but would have call histories, and potentially copies of voicemails.
Trump himself is wary of email and text messaging, but those around him are more likely to fall into various digital traps.

Bottom line: I bet they're all emitting bricks through their, er, shitholes.

I'm surprised that the Trumpers haven't yet blown up a Trump Tower or staged some similar piece of theater in order to divert us from the Russia scandal. Way I see it, they have little choice but to hit us with something big and dramatic.

Russians are hacking the Senate. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Collusion has been proven beyond reasonable debate. Why do I keep saying that? In part, because Donald Trump has done nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to prevent further Russian intrusions into our political system.

If a security guard plays Bejeweled while thieves carry dozens of Monets and Cezannes out the front door, we may fairly accuse that guard of collusion.

Trend Micro has published an important, detailed report on a Russian hacking group called Pawn Storm. Here's just a sample.
Pawn Storm has been attacking political organizations in France, Germany, Montenegro, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States since 2015. We saw attacks against political organizations again in the second half of 2017. These attacks don’t show much technical innovation over time, but they are well prepared, persistent, and often hard to defend against. Pawn Storm has a large toolset full of social engineering tricks, malware and exploits, and therefore doesn’t need much innovation apart from occasionally using their own zero-days and quickly abusing software vulnerabilities shortly after a security patch is released.

In summer and fall of 2017, we observed Pawn Storm targeting several organizations with credential phishing and spear phishing attacks. Pawn Storm’s modus operandi is quite consistent over the years, with some of their technical tricks being used repeatedly. For example, tabnabbing was used against Yahoo! users in August and September 2017 in US politically themed email. The method, which we first discussed in 2014, involves changing a browser tab to point to a phishing site after distracting the target.
Beginning in June 2017, phishing sites were set up mimicking the ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services) of the U.S. Senate. By looking at the digital fingerprints of these phishing sites and comparing them with a large data set that spans almost five years, we can uniquely relate them to a couple of Pawn Storm incidents in 2016 and 2017. The real ADFS server of the U.S. Senate is not reachable on the open internet, however phishing of users’ credentials on an ADFS server that is behind a firewall still makes sense. In case an actor already has a foothold in an organization after compromising one user account, credential phishing could help him get closer to high profile users of interest.
I'm still not quite sure how that works, but I'll take Trend Micro's word for it.


Is Steve Bannon cooperating with Mueller? Variations of this argument have popped up on various sites, and even on Keith Olbermann's Twitter feed.
Steve Bannon has hired Bill Burke as his attorney (link). Burke is also the attorney for Reince Priebus and Don McGahn. By definition, the same attorney can only represent multiple clients in the same criminal investigation if the interests of those clients are perfectly aligned without any potential for conflict. Priebus has already given Mueller his personal notes about Trump’s obstruction of justice, meaning he’s a cooperating witness. That means, by definition, that McGahn and Bannon are both cooperating witnesses.

It’s not at all surprising that Steve Bannon, with nothing left to lose and a huge axe to grind against Donald Trump, would quickly run into the arms of Trump-Russia investigators.
I'm not entirely convinced by this argument. On the other hand, it's starting to look as though the only way for Bannon to make a comeback is for Trump to go down in flames. It is fair to posit that those electronic devices in Mueller's possession contain communications by and from Steve Bannon.

And that's not all folks. This post touches on only about half of the stories published during the past 36 hours that might have prompted players of the Donald Trump drinking game to pour out a finger of vodka. I'm starting to think that Putin made Trump president to increase vodka sales.

Each and every one of these scandals would have destroyed a Democratic presidency.
i am starting to think trumpf is in reality a russian agent and his goal is to reduce america's standing in the world community to the point that no other country will want anything to do with us, freeing up putin to step in and fill the void.
"Hard to know what to make of this. Some people falsely claim to be CIA -- and some within the CIA don't tell the truth, or (more commonly) may present opinion as fact."

Sounds like a certain ex-CIA agent that gets talked about around here quite frequently by the name of John Schindler. I've always thought this is his schtick. Not that he's a double agent but that he's got a massive ego.

Ohhh. I tried that dringame. Game.

It's noon. The next day and I need aspirin.

It wasn't a good idea.
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