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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Head's up: Rosenstein's firing and a claimed Trump "love child"

Word has it that Trump or Sessions will fire Rosenstein at some point this day. Or perhaps tomorrow.

Said word derives from a Trump tweet, which advised the public to tune into last night's Hannity. On that broadcast, lawyer Joe DiGenova -- who seemed to possess inside information -- spoke of Sessions firing Rosenstein "tomorrow." Meaning today.

(Side note: When will pundits stop claiming that Trump "takes his cues" from Fox News? The cue-taking obviously runs in the opposite direction. Trump is the de facto head of the network.)

Many have pooh-poohed the idea that Rosenstein will get the ax, on the grounds that so brazen a move could cause both the House and Senate to go blue. Sorry, but the so-called "blue wave" won't reach unmanageable size. Two reasons:

1. I am increasingly persuaded that Trump will soon score an arranged "victory" in Syria -- "victory" being defined as the downfall of Assad, with Russian acquiescence or even (putative) humiliation. As noted in two previous posts, the great untold story here is that Russia has, in essence, switched sides in the Saudi/Iran conflict. Assad is now a liability to the Russians. It serves Putin's larger purpose if Trump the Mighty can be seen as "forcing" Russia to do something it wants to do anyways: Get rid of Bashar Assad.

This coup de theatre -- planned weeks ago and soon to be staged -- will go a long ways toward blunting the Trump/Russia collusion narrative, and will cause Trump's popularity to soar. He will not be a drag on the party in November. If the timing is right, the GOP may even gain seats.

Odd thought: What if Trump simply kills Assad with a missile or drone strike?

If such a thing is technically do-able, why not do it? Sure, the Russians will complain, but only to keep up appearances. I'll say it again: Russia's new friendship with the Saudis makes Assad a liability; Putin won't feel overly choked up if Assad joins Khaddafy in hell.

Murdering Assad will not result in a war between Russia and the United States. There is no real conflict between Trump, Putin and the neocons.

2. Many Democrats share my belief that our voting tabulators are vulnerable -- yet the Dems continue to speak as if such a thing won't really happen. Grow up. Face reality. Stop whistling past the graveyard. All that is necessary is for Republican numbers to edge sufficiently close to the 50 yard line; the manipulators can nudge a candidate a few feet as necessary. Nowadays, any Republican who can get 45 percent will win.

I don't foresee a "blue wave" in November. If I'm right, then Trump has the political freedom to wave "bye bye" to Rosenstein -- and, eventually, to Mueller. Making matters worse, the rationale for getting rid of Rosenstein is annoyingly defensible.

My bet is that we will be dealing with Trump for a long time to come. I hope I'm wrong.

Bannon. Bill Palmer noticed that the latest news on the Bannon front -- that he is working with the Trump White House on an anti-Mueller strategy -- conflicts with his (Palmer's) belief that Bannon "flipped" and began cooperating with Mueller. Palmer argues that Bannon has re-flipped back to Team Trump.

Oh, fer chrissakes.

Look, it's simple: Mueller never flipped Bannon. In the first place, Steverino is too damned arrogant to play ball with Mueller. In the second place, Bannon knows that one does not fuck with the Russian mob.

Yes, it is true that investigators interviewed Bannon for a long, long time. The duration of that interview means only Bannon decided to hang tough, and may even have lied when he felt the need to do so. The interview must have taught him a great deal about what Team Mueller is doing and how much they know. That information went straight on to Trump's associates -- which explains why and how Bannon became a "player" again.

The preceding paragraph is not based on inside information; it's simply my current Theory of Bannon. But it makes sense, dunnit?

The raid. We know that the raid on Trump's lawyer was conducted by the Southern District of NY U.S. Attorney's office, and that the whole thing had to be run past a judge. Benjamin Wittes says that the judge would have demanded a standard of evidence far higher than "probable cause."

So why the hell are we being told that this raid was -- at least in part -- prompted by the Access Hollywood tape? That tape is now a known quantity. It contains no evidence of a crime. Evidence of sleaze, yes -- but not of a specific crime.

So...what the hell?

My best guess is that Cohen arranged a pay-off intended to keep that tape away from the public during the campaign. So why did we end up seeing the thing in October, 2016? Perhaps the person who received the payment decided to back out of the deal.

We know from the Stormy Daniels case and from the McDougal case that Cohen and Trump tend to go "Charlie Cheap" when it comes to these hush-hush payoffs. Why aren't they more generous? Perhaps because the pay-ees are so numerous. Large amounts of money are hard to raise and hard to hide, so Team Trump probably had to keep the total "hush-hush" budget under a certain figure.

Oh. And there is also this (from here). It's true...
He made a “strategic alliance” with the law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, and the RNC named him national deputy finance chair.

But shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Cohen made headlines again, on a matter of international intrigue. On January 27, 2017, Cohen and his business associate Felix Sater had met with Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker whom Cohen had known for years. Artemenko gave them a purported proposal for a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia — paired with alleged evidence of corruption that he said could be used to discredit Ukraine’s president. There have been conflicting reports on whether Cohen then delivered this document to the White House and then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
This goes some ways toward explaining how Mueller, in the course of investigating Cohen's Russian ties, might have come across the information that led to the raid. The law firm, for its part, has severed all ties with Cohen -- rather belatedly, it would seem.

Speaking of "Charlie Cheap" payouts...

A Trump "love child"? Actually, "love child" seems the wrong term: This is Donald Trump we're talking about. Is there such a thing as a hate child?

The story -- which I suspect will grow in importance in the coming days -- is fairly simple. Karen McDougal wasn't the only one to receive a roundabout "catch and kill" hush payment by way of the National Enquirer. Dino Sajudin, a former doorman at Trump World Tower, received $30,000 to keep quiet about the rumor that Trump impregnated a female employee of that building. Radar Onlinr (an AMI publication) took point on this tale...
PRESIDENT Donald Trump fathered a secret love child with a Trump Organization employee — a gorgeous 29-year-old medical graduate who is currently living in California!

That’s the bombshell claim of a disaffected former Trump staffer who is peddling the allegation to various media outlets, including The National ENQUIRER, a sister publication of RadarOnline.com.
My first thought: Would Team Trump pay anyone $30,000 to squelch a false story?

My second thought: If the tale were true, why so low a figure?

My third thought: Presuming (for the sake of argument) the tale to be true, Saludin can offer only second-hand info. The pay-off need not be high in his case because his allegations are easily dismissed. The real pay-off must have gone to that gorgeous medical graduate.

Since a kid is involved, it's likely that the pay-offs are ongoing. Perhaps monthly.

Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker offers the most in-depth coverage.
Two of the former A.M.I. employees said they believed that Cohen was in close contact with A.M.I. executives while the company’s reporters were looking into Sajudin’s story, as Cohen had been during other investigations related to Trump. “Cohen was kept up to date on a regular basis,” one source said. Contacted by telephone on Wednesday, Cohen said that he was not available to talk. Subsequent efforts to reach him were unsuccessful. On Monday, F.B.I. agents raided Cohen’s hotel and office. The Times reported that the agents were looking for records related to the payments to McDougal and Clifford, as well as correspondence between Cohen, Pecker, and Dylan Howard, A.M.I.’s chief content officer.
Texts and e-mails from November of 2015 show that, before reporting was halted, the National Enquirer team was pursuing leads and trying to confirm Sajudin’s story. Reporters had staked out the homes of the alleged mother and daughter. The company had also hired an outside private investigator named Michael Mancuso, a former criminal investigator and the owner of Searching for the Truth Investigative Services, who administered the lie-detector test. (Mancuso declined a request for comment.) Lie-detector tests are notoriously flawed, and the test assessed only whether Sajudin had heard the story, not whether there was truth to the underlying claim.

Sharon Churcher, one of the lead A.M.I. reporters on the story, told me, “I do not believe that story was true. I believed from the beginning it was not true.” Other employees at A.M.I. had questions about Sajudin’s credibility. In 2014, a Web site registered through a service that obscures the identity of the author claimed that Sajudin had made similar accusations against a Trump Tower resident named Lawrence Penn III, and that those accusations were false. (Penn could not be reached for comment. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud, and he is currently serving a six-year prison sentence. Penn’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.) When I reached out to Sajudin, he responded, in an e-mail, “My time is valuable. What’s your offer??” After being told that The New Yorker does not pay sources, Sajudin declined further requests for an interview.
Okay, so this Sajudin guy seems pretty scuzzy. The question remains: Why bother to pay him anything? I've seen no indication that he has offered proof. Hell, it's possible that Sajudin is covertly working for Team Trump, and that his job is to mislead investigators by tossing about various red herrings.

On the other hand, this administration has taught us one great lesson: When weighing several possible solutions to a Trump mystery, the sleaziest solution has the greatest likelihood of proving true.

We won't be able to know more unless and until we can identify "mom." A name will probably tumble out soon.

Added note: In 2012, Dino Sajudin witnessed a bizarre "jumper" death involving a 21 year-old woman.
The woman had long, black hair and was wearing grey UGG boots, she said. Another witness said the woman was fully dressed with her coat on.

Cops were examining the 14th-floor balcony of the building, which houses a number of diplomats.
According to this story, the woman (name unreleased) had fought with her boyfriend and left a note behind.

Pecker and the Saudis. Heretofore, we've been led to think that it was Jared Kushner who formed the alliance with Saudi Arabia's young de facto leader. But the Farrow article contains an easy-to-overlook nugget...
According to the Times, last July Pecker visited the Oval Office and dined at the White House with a French businessman known for brokering deals with Saudi Arabia. Two months later, the businessman and Pecker met with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Last month, Pecker published a 100-page publication on our nation's magazine racks, extolling the glories of MBS.
Its headlines credit the prince with “Transforming the World at 32” and being “Our Closest Middle East Ally Destroying Terrorism.”

There is no mention of the prince’s recent detention without trial of other royals, Saudi Arabia’s role as the birthplace of many of the 9/11 hijackers, or the country’s history of general human rights violations, especially when it comes to women’s rights.

The Daily Beast on Tuesday called it a “Saudi propaganda magazine.”
The publication cost $13.99. Who in his right mind would pay for such a thing? I doubt that many copies were sold. Obviously, this publication came into existence for the sole purpose of pleasing MBS.
Comments:
Voting is administered according to state law by the Secy of State. Many states use paper ballots (that can be recounted by hand) and OCR scanners that are not connected to the internet. This system is hard to hack.

Other states refuse to abandon using hackable digital systems (e.g. "DRE" touch screen voting machines that record voter touch to the screen directly to a computer database). These machines create no physical evidence of voter intent and no paper trail. DRE voting systems make it impossible to perform a manual recount.

If you live in a "digital" ballot or DRE state, you and your neighbors' votes will be vulnerable to election tampering.

Nat'l Assn of Secy of States Voting Equipment by State: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voting-equipment.aspx
CalTech Voting Technology Project
https://www.vote.caltech.edu/

Take action: Contact your state legislators if your state has digital only ballots and demand accountability. Tell your federal elected officials that the U.S. needs a federal minimum law that applies to all states to require states maintain and secure, for a minimum period of time, hard physical evidence of each voter's original physical marked ballot.

Who will show up to vote, and find out they have been dropped from voter rolls?
Rules vary on when registered voters can be dropped from voting list. If friends, family, or neighbors didn't vote in recent elections, they may be put on an inactive voter list and have to verify residency when they come to vote. Some states drop people from voting rolls based on information provided by another resident -- e.g. hearsay (e.g. so-and-so moved) or if someone is no longer on a state ID database -- e.g. an older person who no longer drives.

Failure to respond to a mailing from the registrar of voters OR not voting in recent elections may result in being removed from a voting list or placed on an inactive list
a) If you moved and mail wasn't forwarded to you -- or mail forwarding ended after 6 months, you may be on an inactive voter list or removed from voter rolls. Depending on laws in your state, you may need to provide proof of residency or re-register to vote in advance of the election. Some states allow same day registration and voting -- but not all states.

dataflo
 
Voting is administered according to state law by the Secy of State. Many states use paper ballots (that can be recounted by hand) and OCR scanners that are not connected to the internet. This system is hard to hack.

Other states refuse to abandon using hackable digital systems (e.g. "DRE" touch screen voting machines that record voter touch to the screen directly to a computer database). These machines create no physical evidence of voter intent and no paper trail. DRE voting systems make it impossible to perform a manual recount.

If you live in a "digital" ballot or DRE state, you and your neighbors' votes will be vulnerable to election tampering.

Nat'l Assn of Secy of States Voting Equipment by State: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voting-equipment.aspx
CalTech Voting Technology Project
https://www.vote.caltech.edu/

Take action: Contact your state legislators if your state has digital only ballots and demand accountability. Tell your federal elected officials that the U.S. needs a federal minimum law that applies to all states to require states maintain and secure, for a minimum period of time, hard physical evidence of each voter's original physical marked ballot.

Who will show up to vote, and find out they have been dropped from voter rolls?
Rules vary on when registered voters can be dropped from voting list. If friends, family, or neighbors didn't vote in recent elections, they may be put on an inactive voter list and have to verify residency when they come to vote. Some states drop people from voting rolls based on information provided by another resident -- e.g. hearsay (e.g. so-and-so moved) or if someone is no longer on a state ID database -- e.g. an older person who no longer drives.

Failure to respond to a mailing from the registrar of voters OR not voting in recent elections may result in being removed from a voting list or placed on an inactive list
a) If you moved and mail wasn't forwarded to you -- or mail forwarding ended after 6 months, you may be on an inactive voter list or removed from voter rolls. Depending on laws in your state, you may need to provide proof of residency or re-register to vote in advance of the election. Some states allow same day registration and voting -- but not all states.

dataflo
 
Will be following with interest your theory regarding Russia's alleged ally switch, though I'm skeptical after the recent summit between Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani, which seemed pretty darn friendly. Also a very big shift will have to happen on some level to reverse Syria's strategy of engineered demographic change:

http://www.syrianobserver.com/EN/News/34041/Regime_Issued_Syrian_Passports_Iranian_Militants_Sources
http://syrianobserver.com/EN/Features/34060/Law_No_Regime_Officially_Entrenches_Demographic_Change

-Anon1234
 
@Joe - "It serves Putin's larger purpose if Trump the Mighty can be seen as 'forcing' Russia to do something it wants to do anyways: Get rid of Bashar Assad."

Being apparently humiliated by the US is one of few scenarios that could bring Putin down, just as the Cuban missile crisis caused Khrushchev to fall two years later. It won't happen.

I don't think Putin has as much clout in the US as you do, but in any case his clout in Russia is what's most important to him.
 
“I don't think Putin has as much clout in the US as you do, but in any case his clout in Russia is what's most important to him.”

How much clout is it when you control the POTUS?
 
b, Krushchev never had as solid a position as Putin does now -- and Syria is of far less importance than the missile crisis. At any rate, if my theory is correct, Putin will lose face only insofar as the American media is concerned; in Russia, he'll still be golden. Remember: Putin controls the majority of Russia's media, just as Trump controls Fox.
 
@Anon 1:36 - "How much clout is it when you control POTUS?"

It's not so absolute. The ~KGB didn't walk into Washington and take everything away from CPMJO-AIPAC-ADL-Netanyahu and Big Oil. For Putin it is control over Russia that is the main thing. Even owning the US President would not give him that control. The US is not that important. As far as a powerful strand in Russian thought is concerned, the US is fly by night.

@Joe - You are right that even before 1962 Khrushchev wasn't as solid as Putin is now, but there wasn't a US-Soviet war in that year and things would change fast if in 2018 there is and Russia gets its arse kicked. In 1941 when in the space of a few days Stalin lost so much territory to the German invasion, he RESIGNED. His colleagues told him they wouldn't accept his demission, and it was kept quiet, but that doesn't mean it would happen that way this time.

When Russia and the US first enter into physical conflict, which may be in Syria and the wider Eastern Mediterranean or it may be elsewhere, the gravity of the matter then leapfrogs the Cuban missile crisis. A brushfire war (or whatever the naval equivalent is) between the US and Russia that Russia loses and that's it - welcome Pax Americana, bye-bye Russian bases in Syria - is highly unlikely. Putin doesn't have enough power to portray such a defeat as a victory or draw. He could not hide the loss of Russian lives the way the British elite hid the loss of British lives in Suez and even then Eden fell.
 
I do not deny the possibility of Cannon's grim scenario, BUT...

Why are Ryan, and so many lesser Rethuglicans, refusing to seek re-election?

They are not acting like members of a party which knows it has the next elections sewn up.

Have the rank and file of the Rethug representatives and senators, and even the Speaker of the House, not been informed that they just need to tough it out, and Papa Putin will give them victory?
 
That's basically what I think, Ivory Bill. They've not been informed. Not on need to know.
 
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