Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Barr's plan to put Joe Biden in jail. History's biggest frame-up is in the works.

We have a troubling report from Kyiv suggesting that William Barr may be readying an indictment of Joe Biden. The charges will be false, of course -- but they may stick, nonetheless.

Before we talk about this horrifying development, I must offer a few preliminary observations about the Attorney General.

Back when Dems were hoping that Barr would be one of the proverbial "adults in the room," I warned that he was a CIA operative with a history of deceit and underhanded behavior. Dems learned the truth -- the hard way -- when Barr lied about the Mueller report.

Digby understands why Barr is the most dangerous man in America: Barr is Trump with brains. Digby also punctures the myth that John Durham is a straight shooter.
This explains why his hand-picked special prosecutor, John Durham, broke every rule in the book by issuing his own statement saying he also disagrees with the IG's conclusions, hinting broadly that he's onto something big. If you can't remember a federal prosecutor ever talking about an ongoing investigation this way, it's because it simply isn;t done. Well, it hasn't been done. But at least it clarified that Durham is either a Rod Rosenstein-esque toady, afraid to stand up for himself, or another Trump partisan. A straight shooter wouldn't have broken that rule. Now we know.
Greg Sargent in the WP:
In saying those things, Barr is rewriting the story of 2016 in a subtle but consequential way. He’s implying that the FBI’s initial investigation was only motivated by what it had learned about the Trump campaign’s intentions with regard to coordinating with Russia’s electoral subversion effort.

But Barr is leaving out crucial facts and context. In fact, when the FBI launched this investigation, it had already developed an awareness that Russia was undertaking this attack on U.S. democracy — separate and apart from any Trump campaign involvement with it. This was a critical reason the FBI launched its investigation.
It's worse than that. The public is being brainwashed into believing that the FBI -- yes, the freakin' FBI -- is institutionally pro-liberal.

This insane assertion contradicts all experience, all history, all common sense. Virtually every book and article I've ever read about the Bureau has described it as a conservative institution that attracts conservative employees. From time to time, I've met people who have worked for the Bureau, and all of them were locatable somewhere on the right.

(I even met a former FBI guy -- a man who once held a prominent position -- who ended up on the Alex Jonesian lunatic fringe. Some of you may be able to guess who I'm talking about. Of course, I met a lot of weird people back in the 1990s.)

During the 2016 election, the only bias publicly demonstrated by the FBI was the decision to reveal the investigation into the Weiner laptop. That decision, which walloped Clinton, was probably forced on FBI Director Jim Comey by a pro-Trump contingent in the New York office. In fact, we now know have confirmation that this FBI office was working with Rudy Giuliani.

When Comey made that announcemnt, Harry Reid and a whole lotta rank-and-file Dems accused Comey of pro-Republican bias. That accusation, though not really fair, has always been a lot more plausible than were the bizarre conspiracy theories later offered by the right. After all, Jim Comey was a registered Republican, and his actions effectively handed the presidency to Trump.

Logic tells us that, if the FBI really had been anti-Trump, the Bureau would have revealed that Trump was under investigation.

Moreover, FBI sources would not have told NYT reporters that the DNC hack was “was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Trump.” (Do you remember that infamous pre-election article?) It was the FBI's obvious pro-Trump bias which led an enraged Christopher Steele -- who was sincerely worried that a Russian puppet would gain the presidency -- to leak the Dossier to David Corn.

Yet Americans are being bombarded with propaganda designed to convinced them that the Bureau was pro-Clinton. Insane! Reality is being turned upside-down. Any propaganda apparatus capable of selling that absurd idea can also convince the public that Puff the Magic Dragon is real.

The triumph of propaganda will allow Barr to transform the Justice Department into an instrument of tyranny -- an Inquisition into any perceived foe of Donald Trump. Barr is Trump's Cardinal Richelieu.

Yes, Barr will indict Joe Biden. You read it here first, unless you follow the Kyiv Post or Seth Abramson (who has discussed the matter in this thread).

Attorney General Barr and his toady John Durham have the power to convene a Grand Jury. There are rumors that this has already occurred. Strong evidence suggests that the target will be Joe Biden.

Not Hunter: Joe himself.

Joe Biden is in danger of going to prison on false charges. I'm not kidding.

This incredibly important article in the Kyiv Post should have sounded far more alarm bells than we've heard.
A memo allegedly leaked from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine shows that prosecutors are accusing former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden of receiving “an unlawful benefit” from former Ukrainian Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky’s Burisma Group, and oil and gas producer.

According to the document, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office also accuses Zlochevsky of offering Biden and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a share of Burisma Group’s profits.
Most Americans will not be able to understand just how audacious this lie is. First thing you have to know: Mykola Zlochevsky was a crook. (As I've noted in previous posts, he even looks like the Kingpin in Marvel Comics.) He was the corrupt former head of Burisma who, basically, robbed the company blind.

It's important to understand that Bursima was the victim. Too many American writers speak of Burisma as an innately evil enterprise. This is a smear -- a made-in-Russia lie. The Russians hate Burisma because, previously, Russians were in charge of Ukraine's natural gas. It was a very profitable enterprise -- one which gave Russia a great deal of leverage over Ukraine. Putin wants one of his 'garchs to run that show again.

Zlochevsky was exposed and ousted long before the company hired Hunter Biden to help rehabilitate the company's international image and allow it to do business in Western Europe. While Zlochevsky still ran the company, he had zero motive to attempt to bribe the American Vice President.

Joe Biden's taxes are a matter of public record. There's no "funny money" there -- if there were, we'd all know about it by now.

During the Obama administration, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to can the corrupt prosecutor -- a shady character named Viktor Shokin -- who allowed Zlochevsky to get away with it. Zlochevsky's bank accounts in the UK were frozen, but the British case against him was stymied by Shokin's refusal to cooperate. That's one reason why Biden wanted Shokin fired.

Why on earth would Biden want Mr. See-No-Evil replaced, if Biden were the recipient of a Zlochevsky bribe? It makes no sense!

Zlochevsky's thievery started to come to light in 2012, when the Prosecutor General began to investigate him for money laundering and other crimes. This was before John Kerry was Secretary of State. By the time Kerry took on that job in 2013, pretty much everyone understood that Zlochevsky was no damned good; if memory serves, he was already out at Burisma by that point. Not long thereafter, he was forced to flee his home country.

Whatever you may think about Kerry, there is no way in hell the guy would have taken money from a known crook just after taking the oath of office as Secretary of State. Kerry is old and rich; he doesn't need the money. Moreover, he has always had a sterling reputation. If there was any corruption in his history, it would have come out in 2004, when the most ruthless oppo researchers in America examined every microsecond of that man's history. 

In short: This whole get-Biden narrative is utterly inane. Yet it will apparently have documentation to back it, and those documents will carry the imprimatur of the current Ukrainian government. (I told you not to trust Zelensky.)

Before we continue with the Kyiv Post article, you have to understand something else about Urkaine: Sergii Leshchenko is a true anti-corruption crusader -- probably the most trustworthy figure in the country. He's the one who exposed those obscene payments to Paul Manafort, a scandal which forced Manafort to step down as Trump's campaign manager.

Naturally, the pro-Trump and pro-Putin forces are out to destroy Leschenko's reputation.

(Don't mix up Sergii Leschenko with Yuri Lutsenko, the current Prosecutor General of Ukraine, who is not one of the good guys. The extra T in his name stands for Trump.)
Lawmaker Sergii Leshchenko published the memo on May 14. He said that the memo had been submitted by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko’s team to U.S. President Donald Trump’s team and that he had received it from journalists working for a news site affiliated with Trump.
The leaked memo came in response to claims by Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, that Leshchenko had been convicted of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on the side of the Democratic Party, claims that Leshchenko denies.
"Convicted"? Are they nuts?

Leschenko's Wikipedia entry -- which is very lengthy -- mentions no such conviction. Under Ukrainian law, would it be a crime if he had helped the American Democratic party? In fact, Leschenko did not aid the Democrats -- but he did expose those illegal payments to Paul Manafort, who went to jail. What Leschenko did was not interference: It was decency.

Basically, every time you hear a Republican claim that Ukrainians helped Hillary, it's a reference to the justice meted out to Paul Manafort -- a man whose own daughters have accused him of having people killed. The smear-merchants are setting the stage for a Manafort pardon.

Here is the bottom line:
Leshchenko cast doubt on the veracity of the claims about Biden and Kerry. He said he believed the memo to be part of what he alleged was a disinformation campaign by Lutsenko.

“Lutsenko seeks to use Ukraine as a bargaining chip in the battle between the Democrats and the Republicans in the U.S.,” Leshchenko said. “They have created a conspiracy theory that made us hostages to one person’s desire to keep his job. (Lutsenko) should not get Ukraine involved in this terrible scenario and should not take President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy hostage.”

Lutsenko has been accused of trying to curry favor with Trump by investigating Biden, Trump’s potential Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential election.
Unfortunately, the media -- including the mainstream media -- has sold the American public on the idea that Zelensky is some sort of anti-corruption crusader. He is anything but. He's the puppet of Ihor Kolomoisky, a villainous oligarch who has been secretly working with Rudy Giuliani.

Unfortunately, Barr will probably get away with relying on false documentation and testimony supplied by Zelensky's government.

My prediction: Joe Biden is going to be indicted. He may even go to prison.

It will be the biggest frame-up in history -- and even if it doesn't put Joe in jail, it will insure the re-election of Donald Trump. Manafort will probably go free. (So will Roger Stone, but that's a separate matter.)

Like the Silver Surfer heralding the coming of Galactus, infuriating meme-smears like this are preparing the way for the Mother of All Smears.

Conspiracies are real, my friends. The true conspirators are on the right -- always. The true victims of these conspiracies are always moderates and liberals. (Real conspiracies usually do not target those on the far left, who often play the "useful idiot" role.) Such was the situation in Germany when the Nazis came to power in the 1920s, and such is the situation in America right now.

Walter Schaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, offers an important thread on this topic, which I have taken the liberty of translating into normal prose.
As Attorney General, Barr is a threat to democracy. He has distorted facts and misled the public. He appointed Durham to run a concurrent investigation because he knew the Inspector General would debunk his conspiracy theories, and he needed someone he could control.

Durham revealed much about his own character when he issued a transparently political message challenging the IG's report before completing his investigation. Barr, who deceived the public about the contents of the Mueller report, has similarly tried to undermine the IG report.

Barr's crackpot theory boils down to the idea that the last administration tried to sabotage Trump's candidacy by keeping its investigation of Trump's campaign completely secret while colluding with Jason Chaffetz to leak information about its investigation of Hillary Clinton.

Barr bizarrely argues it'd be bad if a president abused his power to sabotage a rival's campaign with an investigation. The notion that Obama came anywhere near doing this is the debunked lunacy of pizzagate enthusiasts, but it's exactly what the "transcript" shows Trump did. Barr's comments also suggest a plan to take personnel actions against individuals tied to the investigation of Trump. Whether action is warranted or not, an Attorney General commenting on personnel actions that must be taken by lower level managers suggests the fix is in.

Whether he ultimately intervenes in personnel matters is almost beside the point. His remarks were intended to intimidate the DOJ attorneys and FBI agents investigating others associated with the president. And there's something far more ominous that his remarks have signaled.

Barr, who traveled the world looking for ways to defend the politician he serves instead of the rule of law, has also signaled he may use the criminal investigative apparatus of the state to go after perceived enemies of his boss -- weaponizing it as a tool of a political party. Even the mere suggestion that he would do this is a direct assault on democracy and a betrayal of the public trust. It is extremely dangerous and may chill legitimate investigations. It's the stuff of autocracies. It must not be tolerated. It cannot be tolerated in a republic.

(Barr even talks like an authoritarian. He said he'd ignore any ethics guidance he disagreed with. He ignored the 1st amendment and blamed "secularism" for society's ills. He told certain "communities" [wink] they need to show more respect or live without police protection.)

In this context, it's important to remember that Trump fired Sessions the day after the election because he would not stop the Russia investigation. A president firing someone for failing to treat him as though he is above the law should have been viewed as an impeachable act. Instead, Barr was greeted warmly as a stabilizing force by people who should have known better. But, as the beneficiary of a slow motion Saturday Night Massacre, Barr was hired to do what Sessions wouldn't do. He was hired for this moment in history.
Your FBI man... Ted Gunderson? The 90s, man.

Tomorrow we have an election here, with one of the parties having a horribly corrupt, dishonest and unpleasant leader, who has taken a lot of money from Russian oligarchs, and will probably win, even taking into account the horribly biased polling. Wish us luck.

Luck? Hey, it's ME. Mr. Doom and Gloom.

I wish you the best, but I predict the worst. We both know what's going to happen.
Lie down with dogs, get fleas. The New York FBI field office aka Trumpland is home to agents investigating the Russian Mob, how many of them were turned?
Same for Rudy Giuliani, they made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
On the other hand those corn fed, Christian steeped young men from the Midwest that gravitate toward the FBI have a natural affinity toward authoritarian and a dislike of non-subservient women.
It's weird hearing TV blo-dry talking heads fellating the FBI of J Edgar Hoover infamy because investigating Trump.
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Monday, December 09, 2019

Stop kidding yourselves. Plus: As I predicted, Kolomoisky has become a key player

I can't watch. I literally can't watch what's going on right now.

The left-wing sites are completely mis-reading the situation. They are speaking as if the Republicans are on the ropes, as if the Trumpers are making fools of themselves. Ignore that MSNBC happy talk: The situation is, in fact, dire.

Yes, the IG report seems to clear the FBI -- but it gave the Trumpists just enough to work with. The Durham/Barr investigation will be filled with lies, but those lies will take root. The Republican pushback at the impeachment hearings is also a lie-fest, but it will turn around those Americans who are turn-roundable.

The QAnon version of reality, however absurd, however fascistic, will become...reality.
Many of Trump’s most loyal boosters and sycophants at Fox News have long promised that Horowitz’s report was not only going to expose FISA abuses and reveal that the Russia investigation was a politically motivated hoax by the Obama administration, but would also lead to actual jail time for those in the Deep State.
Watch it happen. Outright fascism is coming.

On the right, the commonly-heard rationalization for the Horowitz Report is that he had access only to DOJ material, not information available to the intelligence community. This is true. But it's also a kind of coded message.

For years -- long before the advent of Trumpism -- I have been trying to warn the world: There is a large and powerful pro-fascist network within the American intelligence community. That network has been in place since the earliest days of the CIA.

I am convinced that there are people within the American community willing to concoct evidence in order to empower Trump.

The "spooks against Trump" framework promoted by Malcolm Nance and Louise Mensch is utterly misleading.

Can I prove what I'm saying? Yes. I need mention just one name: William Barr.

Even today, the media -- both left and right -- are engaged in a conspiracy to hide the truth about that man. He has always been CIA. (So was his dad, the guy who recruited Jeffrey Epstein.) Even when ostensibly working in private practice, William Barr was really working for Spookworld.

The fact that Barr is going to such lengths to keep this administration afloat tells you all you need to know: Trump has the spook vote -- the only vote that counts.

To repeat what I said in an earlier post: I wish I could spit in the eyes of everyone who spoke of Barr as an "institutionalist" who would rein in Donald Trump. When Barr was nominated, I was derided as a conspiracy theorist because I brought up his long, long career as a CIA cover-up artist. Remember, this is the same William Barr who helped BCCI take over an American bank. This is the same William Barr who covered up Iran Contra. This is the same William Barr who helped Poppy Bush impede congressional oversight of the Agency.

The evil, lying bastard Barr will win. Here's an excerpt from his response to Horowitz:
The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken. It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source...
This is nonsense, of course. If the FBI was out to get Trump, Comey could simply have revealed the existence of the investigation before the election.

Side note: While writing these words, I heard Sensenbrenner liken the Democrats to Joe McCarthy (whom he knew, back in the day). This association is obscene: Trump and his friend Roger Stone are the ones who learned under Roy Cohn, the man who made McCarthyism possible. Yet Sensenbrenner's message will get through. Don't kid yourself: It will take hold.

I'm going to turn off the Teevee so I can concentrate on making my point. Which comes down to these words:



Only a fearless embrace of total, brutal, impermeable cynicism will allow you to see things as they really are.

You want to make accurate predictions about the future? It's a simple two-step process: 1. Imagine the worst. 2. Sit back and watch it happen.

The pro-Dem sites and MSNBC are deluding you. I believe that Trump's popularity will go UP -- very soon. The upward movement may be subtle or it may be profound, but it's definitely going in that direction.

In the near future, most Americans really will believe that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that intervened in the 2016 election. They already believe that the Democratic Party is a cesspool of conspiracy and evil.

Do not underestimate the power of incessant propaganda. To cite an obvious example: Many Americans have been convinced of the absurd proposition that Jim Comey was pro-Clinton, even though he enabled Trump's victory by hiding the fact that Trump was under investigation. In essence, Comey elected Trump. Nevertheless, most Americans -- including, I suspect, most Democrats -- have had their brains so thoroughly laundered that they now accept the absurd proposition that a pro-Clinton bias motivated Comey.

If Americans can be convinced of that, they can be convinced of anything.

The American intelligence community has spent decades learning how to manipulate public opinion. That's a story which Malcolm Nance won't discuss: In his books, the bad guys are always Russian, and the CIA has always worn the white hats. He never talks about Bill Barr's CIA background.

I like Nance and recommend his books. (Right now, I'm going through his latest.) But we can't trust the guy until he decides to speaks honestly about what the CIA did to Chile, Indonesia, Guatemala, Italy and so many other places. The CIA's well-honed methods of subversion and media manipulation are much more relevant to current events than are the shopworn Cold War tropes that Nance loves to trot out.

(God, if I ever have to hear about that fucking Bulgarian umbrella thingie again, I will scream.)

Kolomoisky. Months ago, I started writing about Ihor Kolomoisky -- the power behind Zeklensky, the current leader of Ukraine. At a time when pretty much all other American writers ignored the guy, I could tell that he would soon play a key role.

Kolomoisky is the funder of the fascist Azov battalion, which attracts volunteers from neo-Nazis around the world. Months ago, I predicted that he would soon patch things up with Putin. Kolomoisky had turned against Putin for a while because the invasion of Crimea did serious injury to Mr. K's business interests. But that situation is changing.

Has changed.

Months after my initial post on Kolomoisky, I am heartened to see that TPM has finally woken up.
EXCLUSIVE: Oligarch Kolomoisky Linked To Giuliani Campaign For Dirt
Not so many months ago, Rudy was tweeting insults at Kolomoisky. Looks like relations are much warmer now.

(Similarly, there was a time when Rudy caterwauled about oligarch Dmitry Firtash -- but those complaints stopped when Lev Parnas, a Firtash lieutenant, joined forces with Rudy.)
The nature and extent of Kolomoisky’s involvement in the pressure campaign remains unclear. There’s some indication that he began dishing the kind of bogus political dirt that Giuliani and Trump are seeking as far back as 2018. But in the murky world where Ukraine business and politics overlap, Kolomoisky has largely managed to remain on the periphery of the coverage of the Trump scandal.

That is, at least, until Rudy waltzed back into town.

Giuliani’s Kyiv trip last week gave away the game, according to Ukraine observers. He took a series of meetings with figures known for their close association with Kolomoisky. According to these Kolomoisky associates’ own accounts and Ukraine news reports, they fed more dirt to Giuliani, who was an eager recipient. One longtime Western official stationed in Kyiv, speaking anonymously due to lack of authorization to speak publicly, told TPM that it seemed Kolomoisky was “trying to become friends with Trump and Giuliani.”
Do you understand what this means? Zelensky will say whatever Trump wants him to say. Zelensky dare not cross Kolomoisky, the man who put him in office.

Kolomoisky can't be touched. He got away with an assassination attempt on the Ukrainian equivalent to our Federal Reserve head. With near-total impunity, he stole billions from Ukraine's most powerful bank. Do you really think that Zelensky can safely disobey his master?
TPM learned that Kolomoisky retained Bud Cummins, an American criminal defense attorney, to represent him in federal criminal investigations in the United States.

Around the same time last year, as TPM previously reported, Cummins tried to set up a meeting between American law enforcement and a Ukrainian prosecutor who was offering information about the Bidens and supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. That information later became the basis of Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.
For Kolomoisky, the prospect of pleasing the White House comes with two possible benefits: shutting down the American criminal investigation of him, and getting a favorable resolution to a massive embezzlement case involving a bank he previously owned.
That is precisely what I wrote months ago. Nice to see that TPM has finally caught on!

Kolomoisky is under investigation by the FBI. (He has business interests in the United States.) Bill Barr thus has the ability to make his life easy or miserable.

That's why Barr's name came up in the transcript of the Zelensky call. Why else would the Attorney General of the United States play any kind of role in the interaction of the US President and the leader of Ukraine?

Even now, you probably have yet to grasp just how wretched the situation is. Let me say it yet again: Kolomoisky is the power behind Zelensky.

Try to get your mind around the implications.

When Giuliani and Barr concoct their smears, they will rely on Ukrainian sources -- and those sources are not going to be creeps like Viktor Shokin. Shokin is easily dismissed, and the same can be said of the other has-beens. Barr will cite new sources -- people high up within the current Ukraine government. And Zelensky, the putative anti-corruption crusader, will vouch for them.

Soon after Barr and Rudy drop their bombs, the Zelensky government will -- as promised, as pressured -- initiate their investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden. That investigation will be based on lies. But it will be effective.

I predict that Trump could win as many as 40 states through such smear tactics, even if the economy starts to sour. A year from now, independents will consider the Democratic Party more evil than the mafia -- and the party itself may splinter. Progs, feminists and the proponents of Identity Politics will divorce themselves from mainstream Dems.


Only total cynicism will prepare you for what's going to hit us.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

"60 Minutes" (Australia) protected Trump. So did Aaron Sorkin. WHY?

Depression has prevented me from posting in recent days. It's hard to keep writing when disaster seems certain.

Impeachment will soon move to the Senate for trial, and I cringe to think of the show that John Roberts and Mitch McConnell will put on. I never expected Trump to be removed, but I did not understand until recently that the Republicans will use this spectacle to gin up "evidence" against the Biden family, and against the Democratic party generally. Prediction: Roberts will show his true stripes, and Dems will scream the way they screamed with Barr showed his true stripes.

This WP story certainly bodes ill.
President Trump said his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani planned to issue a report to the Justice Department and Congress detailing what he’d learned from his investigations in Ukraine.

Trump claimed not to know what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine this week or what he found out while there, but he asserted that Giuliani says “he has a lot of good information.”

“He’s going to make a report, I think to the attorney general and to Congress,” Trump told reporters Saturday outside the White House. “He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information yet.”

“I hear he has found plenty,” Trump added.
Of course, Trump said something similar about the search for Obama's "real" birth certificate. In the words of this amusing tweet: Giuliani is currently in defiance of a Congressional subpoena. How does one present a “report” under these conditions?

We've known for a while that Rudy has been gathering "evidence" from ultra-shady characters in Ukraine. Mainstream journalists will continue to expose his sources as liars and scoundrels -- but will mainstream voices be heard? Or will Trump's propagandists drown out the truth?

I'm betting that the propagandists will win this one -- and I'm still predicting a Trump victory next November. God only knows what this country will look like when he's done with it.

Why did "60 Minutes" protect Trump? We're no longer surprised when Republicans toady to Trump. But I cannot understand why non-Republicans refuse to mention the man's name, even in situations when they damned well ought to.

I refer to this investigation of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, conducted by the Australian version of 60 Minutes. It's definitely worth watching, not least because the episode features a lengthy interview with Virginia Roberts/Giuffre. She makes a good impression and seems quite credible. Obviously, I feel horrified by what she underwent.

And yet: I've grown wary of that woman. What bugs me is the part she keeps leaving out of her story -- the part named Trump.

In her original Complaint, she did not mention the key fact that Ghislaine Maxwell recruited Virginia while she (Virginia) worked at Mar-A-Lago. The Complaint also mysteriously neglected to note that the father of Virginia Roberts is a longtime Trump employee.

It's not easy to believe that Maxwell, a Trump friend, could cruise the club for underaged employees without Trump's knowledge.

Why did Virginia originally refuse to mention her place of employment? 60 Minutes mentions that the "Epstein girls" were threatened with physical violence. Does that allegation have any bearing on Virginia's mysterious silence on the topic of Trump?

For reasons I find unfathomable, 60 Minutes absolutely refuses to mention El Presidente's connection to the Epstein scandal. Around the four-and-a-half minute mark, the narrator notes that Virginia "landed a job as a locker room attendant at an exclusive resort in Florida." But the show never names the resort.

Why? Why on earth?

Just to be cute, the show offers an aerial view of the unnamed "exclusive resort." Yep -- that's Mar-A-Lago, all right. Trump's club may be shown but not named. Wink wink.

60 Minutes usually presents serious journalism. But it is also a capitalist enterprise, interested in attracting viewers. Looking at the situation from both a journalistic standpoint and a capitalist standpoint, can you think of one good reason why this report would not mention the names "Trump" or "Mar-A-Lago"? Yet at no point are we told that the current American president was A) Epstein's friend, B) Maxwell's friend, C) Virginia's employer, and D) Dad's employer. If you can convince yourself that facts A, B, C, and D are unimportant, you possess a formidable talent for rationalization.

The presentation leaves out much else. Why does the show never mention the fact that Trump chose Alexander Acosta to be his Labor Secretary? Acosta was the person who made Epstein's "sweetheart deal" happen -- yet Acosta's name, like Trump's, is a Great Unmentionable.

The show does inform us that the decision to shut down the first Epstein prosecution came from "the highest levels" in DC. But the year is left hazy; we are not told that the shutdown occurred during a Republican administration.

Predictably, the spooky side of this story is completely ignored. Why would 60 Minutes keep silent about the credible report that Acosta was told that Epstein "belonged to intelligence"? Why no mention of the fact that Ghislaine Maxwell's father also worked for an intelligence service? (These days, no-one disputes Robert Maxwell's history with Mossad.)

Here's another name to add to out list of Great Unmentionables: Alan Dershowitz -- famed lawyer, infamous asshole, impeachment opponent and frequent Fox News guest. We all know what Virginia Roberts said about Dershowitz in her original Complaint. If 60 Minutes doubts the credibility of that allegation, then the audience should have been so informed. If 60 Minutes believes her, why not name Dershowitz?

The documentary never addresses the mystery of how Epstein earned his fortune. A growing number of people believe that he managed, or laundered, money for Russian oligarchs. Journalist Vicky Ward has written that a number of underaged young women in Epstein's circle apparently came from Eastern Europe. Sex trafficking from that part of the world is controlled by crime lord Semion Mogilevich, whose associates continually weave in and out the Trump saga.

Actually, the report offers a further clue. Around the 24 minute mark, this 60 Minutes episode displays a intriguing message to Epstein concerning one of his key associates, Jean-Luc Brunel: "He has a teacher for you to teach you how to speak russian. She is 2x8 years old."

"2x8"? That's a pretty odd way to indicate that someone is 16. (Perhaps she was 28, but the message definitely inserts an X between the digits.) This detail is important for a couple of reasons: It tells us that Epstein wanted to learn Russian, and that a girl from that country made the trip for that purpose. 

Why didn't 60 Minutes mention the links between Jean Luc Brunel and Trump cabinet member Steve Mnuchin? Why no mention of the fact that Brunel operated out of Trump Tower?

The documentary goes on and on and on about Prince Andrew's link to Epstein. (The royal family might stand in the way of a fascist takeover of the UK, so smearing the royals has become a right-wing project.) But why no mention of Steve Bannon's link to Jeffrey Epstein? Bannon is the more influential and important figure: He's the guru of the international far right.

If I had the chance to interview Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the first question I'd ask is this: "Why did you leave Trump out of your Complaint?" The second question: "Does Trump still employ your father?"

(We need to know more about that guy. Virginia was repeatedly violated as a child, starting at the age of seven. Most fathers do a better job of protecting their daughters.)

Finally, I'd like to ask Virginia if she knows the history of her other lawyer, J. Stanley Pottinger. If she's sincere about wanting to expose the rich and the powerful, why would she be represented by a man whose name keeps coming up in the annals of GOP skullduggery?

Why would Aaron Sorkin cover up for Trump? While writing the above, my mind kept wandering toward the film version of Molly's Game. The movie tells the story of Molly Bloom, the woman who ran a high-stakes poker enterprise in Hollywood. When things fell apart in Los Angeles, she moved to New York -- specifically, to Trump Tower, where she became involved with shady Russians familiar from the many articles we've all read about Trump-related scandals.

Trump has denied any connection to Molly's games. Oddly, Donald and Ivanka Trump were the listed owners of a mysterious company called Poker Venture, headquartered in Trump Tower.

Sorkin's film pretends to tell the real story, which Molly Bloom's book carefully hid. In fact, the movie simply continues the cover-up.

Incomprehensibly, Sorkin hides the fact that the poker games were located in Trump Tower. Once again, the name "Trump" -- like the name YHWH -- is considered too awesome to pronounce. Why? If the producers wanted to sell tickets, the script should have name-dropped Trump as often as possible -- hell, the freakin' trailer and poster should have name-dropped Trump.

Sorkin also obscures Molly's relationship with the Russians, who obviously were backing the venture. Molly Bloom dealt with a lot of money. You don't extend that kind of credit without muscle.

There's a scene toward the end of the film in which Molly is beaten and robbed by a thug hired to intimidate her. The film alleges -- unpersuasively -- that the hit man worked for the Italian mob, but I found an early news account which claims that it the Russians were the ones who went after Molly Bloom. Italian hit men do not rob their targets -- it's an honor thing -- but Russians do.

So why did Aaron Sorkin cover up for Donald Trump?

(For more than a year, I've been meaning to write a long analysis of Molly's Game, which is an infuriatingly deceptive film. Maybe one of these days.)
Yes,Molly's Game seemed to be the White Knight fantasy version of the story. Molly Bloom's code of honor made her refuse to be associated with the criminal underworld because if they backed her they would collect gambling debts with violence. Her incredibly fancy game would also have existed without mob protection meaning any Chuckle bum could have robbed her game with ZERO repercussions. Baloney. Trump Tower is Russian Mob central.
Jailing a witness for contempt of congress hasn't happened for about 100 years bc reasons. Given the republican party's recalcitrance perhaps it's time. Too bad Pelosi hasn't the spine.
As to 60 Minutes after the hatchet job they did on the Jeep CJ5 I stopped watching. If 60 Minutes lied about something I'm familiar with how do I trust them with news items outside my field of knowledge?
Mike, you're not being fair. I referred to the AUSTRALIAN version of "60 Minutes." I believe that what got you incensed was a 1980 episode of the AMERICAN "60 Minutes." That was a long time ago, and the producing team was very different.

But I am old enough to recall the controversy, and truth be told, I was secretly happy about that broadcast. I was in the market for a new vehicle and was glad to see the prices of used CJ5s trend downward. But then I got the deal of a lifetime on a VW bug, which served me spectacularly well for a number of years. Alas, I never fulfilled my fantasy of going off-road in an old-school jeep.

A friend of mine owned a CJ7. Looked too bulky. He said it guzzled gas and broke down a lot. It was great for his macho image, but not so great as a daily driver.
If that top photo is the unnamed exclusive resort, that's not Mar-a-Lago, it's the Palm Beach Bath & Tennis Club (to the south and slightly east of Mar-a-Lago). Mar-a-Lago isn't on the ocean and the resort in the top photo clearly is.
OMG! Did you actually write that Italian mobsters don’t rob people that they have been sent to intimidate? Do you have some great insight into the Italian mob? Because that statement was utter BS. Yes they do, just like Russian mob, or Ukrainian, or Georgian, or Albanian, or Japanese Yakuza, or Chinese Tongs, or British gangs. They all do it, because they are thugs. There is no special honor among thieves, and the Italian mob doesn’t have some code of conduct.
Epstein laundered a lot of people’s money, including Russians, but Russia has nothing to do with this story, he was the asset and under the protection of MOSAD, and his disgusting scheme is one of the reasons why the United States is so utterly entangled with Israel, and its barbaric policies.

Mar-A-Lago is quite close to the ocean, but you are correct. That top picture is not Mar-A-Lago. However, it's pretty common knowledge that Virginia was recruited from Mar-A-Lago and worked there (by her own testimony and I would assume others), so seems like more obfuscation by Australian 60 minutes showing a picture of a different resort.
OT, but a sign that TPM is catching up. Not paywalled.

Decent 9th.

Mr. K. Enters the journalistic narrative:
Karen, the top photo (a frame grab from the documentary) DOES depict Mar-A-Lago. I did not say that Trump's club was in the foreground. That's why I included Google Earth imagery: To show how the properties are situated. I did not think that any further explanation was necessary.

Liberty Advocate: That distinction between Russian and Italian hit men appeared in at least two books about organized crime which I read in the 1990s. Don't ask me for titles. I read a LOT of books back then, and at this historical remove, you cannot fairly demand that I recall which data nugget appeared in which volume which I read while munching on Carls Jr. hamburgers back in the 1991-1999 period

That said: That particular data nugget stuck in my memory. I am of Eye-talian ancestry myself, and I like to think that OUR thieves do (or at least did) have a certain twisted sense of honor.

At least when compared with the Russians.

The point is, no better how badly your people have behaved, there's always someone worse. There's some solace to be had in that.

There has been a fair amount written about the Italian code of honor among old-school mobsters. I recall reading this testimony by Tommaso Buscetta back in the day:

And even today there's a fair amount written about the Italian code of honor. That code is what makes the Italian mob more intriguing than any other type of mafia; the code confers a kind of crazy romantic appeal to all of the murder and thuggery.

Nobody will ever make the Russian equivalent of "The Godfather" or "Goodfellas" or "Prizzi's Honor." If such a film DOES get made, it won't do well. Nobody wants to sit through the Russian answer to "The Irishman." Nobody would sit still for the story of a Russian Michael Corleone. Nobody LIKES Russian mobsters; they are simply repulsive.

So call me a romantic, but I'm going to stick with what I read: Italian hit men don't rob their victims; Russians do.

That said, I WOULD like to recall where I read it. So many years have passed...!

Oh, and if you can prove what you've said about Epstein, please do. Otherwise, I will presume that you are committing the characteristic sin of the conspiracy theorist: Blurring the distinction between surmise and established fact.

Yes, I've been guilty of that myself. But I've spent the better part of this century trying to improve.
anon 12:34 checking back in to remark about how hard it is typing these comments on a tablet, with thick fingers and aging eyes.

Of course auto-whatever changed "December 9th" into what might appear to be a conundrum, but was simply our new fangled variety of typo.
Whenever a broadcast or news story from a Commonwealth nation appears hedged, I simply assume it's because of the hair-trigger nature of UK-derived libel laws. There is no protection for journalists writing about a public individual -- note Melania's victory a couple of years ago versus the Daily Mail -- and I *think* implied criticism or claims are more easily prosecuted. Coupled with the Trumps' history of SLAPP lawsuits against journalists, and I'm not too surprised AU 60 Minutes may have lawyered up and pulled their punches...
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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Sex scandals: Spookier than you think

Pretty soon -- perhaps before I'm finished writing these words -- everyone will be focused on the impeachment report. The only topic with the power to divert us from impeachment is sex, so let's go there. We need a diversion.

Actually, sex scandals are in today's headlines. Hilariously, Trump has denied knowing Prince Andrew, who was recently shamed into silence by his connection to l'affaire Epstein. This denial flies in the face of the fact that Trump and Andrew had a "power breakfast" in June, and the fact that we have photos of Trump and Andrew together. Andrew himself claimed that the infamous photo depicting him with Virgnia Roberts/Giuffre is a fraud. I'd be more inclined to take that claim seriously if he had issued it when the photo first came out in 2011.

(Charles Johnson, an associate of Alan Dershowitz, declared the photo to be a fake in 2015; Andrew did not speak out at that time. To the best of my knowledge, no Photoshop expert has questioned the image.)

Right now, the Andrew imbroglio is not the Epstein-related tale which has captured my attention.

A few readers asked for my thoughts about this NYT story, which tells the strange story of a "shadowy hacker" calling himself Patrick Kessler, who claimed to have accessed the much-storied Jeffrey Epstein archive. You know: The blackmail vault.
He said he had years of the financier’s communications and financial records — as well as thousands of hours of footage from hidden cameras in the bedrooms of Mr. Epstein’s properties. The videos, Kessler said, captured some of the world’s richest, most powerful men in compromising sexual situations — even in the act of rape.
Kessler tried to sell this story to two of the lawyers representing Epstein's victims, David Boies and J. Stanley Pottinger. No writer other than yours truly has noted that both of these lawyers have strange ties to the worlds of the intelligence and Republican politics; as usual, the NYT avoids talking about spy stuff unless absolutely necessary. (I discuss Pottinger's ties to both Spookworld and the GOP here.) It makes sense that spooked-up lawyers would take over the Epstein affair, given the strong likelihood that Epstein himself "belonged to intelligence" -- either CIA or Mossad or both.

The afore-linked NYT article is long and fascinating, though -- for reasons stated above -- it requires a certain amount of between-the-lines interpretation. Here's the bottom line: Kessler turned out to be a fake.

Nobody knows his true goal or who his backers were. Inadvertently, his intrusion into this case revealed that Boies and Pottinger were willing to take a pay-off to keep the secrets of the wealthy.

(Hey, I told you not to trust Pottinger.)

For present purposes, the most important aspect of this hoax involves an actual video allegedly depicting former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak having sex with one of Epstein's girls. How (you may ask) can a video be both actual and alleged? The video is real in the sense that it exists, but unreal in the sense that it probably depicts someone other than Ehud Barak.

If you've been following Spookworld for many years, you'll recognize this trick. It has a long peidgree.

Vladimir Putin has demolished enemies with sex tapes, at least one of which was a fake. In 1999, he used this strategy to get rid of Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov -- the one man who might have blocked his power grab.

In 2016, a similar production "starred" Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
A former employee of a Russian “troll factory” has said that a Hillary Clinton lookalike and black man were hired by his company to make a sex tape during the 2016 US election.

The company, according to the first former employee to go on record Alan Baskaev, ran popular Twitter accounts that would promote then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign officials and surrogates.
He said his bosses “thought they hit the “sensation” jackpot” with the video of fake pair - seemingly impersonating former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton - who looked they were having sex.
“I don’t know what happened on the day shift, but the night shift was a bacchanal. We did the most ridiculous things we could think of.”
Now let's go further back in the time.

In the 1980s, an operative used the most audacious fake sex tape of all time to worm his way into the confidence of Larry Flynt. I've told this story before. After the asterisks, I'll republish the words I wrote in 2008 -- after which, Cannon 2019 shall return.

*  *  *

My mind reaches back to -- of all people -- Vicki Morgan.

"Vicki who?" some of you may be asking -- and if you are, I feel old.

Vicki Morgan, who died in 1983 at the age of 31, was the beauty at the center of one of the great sex and murder scandals.

Vicki was the mistress of Alfred Bloomingdale, friend to and funder of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. By many accounts, including her own, she sexually serviced (with her patron's approval) a number of high-ranking Reagan officials.

(Around 1990, I talked with a very gay writer of Hollywood biographies who claimed to have known Vicki well. "Her specialty was seducing homosexuals," he said -- with a wistful smile that told much and hid little.)

Now is not the time to go into the mystery of her murder, which occurred shortly after the death of Bloomingdale. Let's focus on the post-mortem controversy.

After the murder, Vicki's lawyer said that she had stockpiled video tapes of herself performing various sexual acts with Reagan's top men. Publisher Larry Flynt -- acting in his usual Flyntian fashion -- offered a million bucks for the tapes. The lawyer then reported that the tapes were stolen. Many assumed that the lawyer had concocted the whole story, although his motive for doing so was never made clear.

At that point, a certain man approached Larry Flynt. I'll call him Gordo. Some of you will know the full name. I won't reveal it here, since I've already had one mildly unpleasant run-in with this gentleman. Gordo has connections (as they say) to the American intelligence community, although the CIA will quickly tell you that they never officially hired him.

Gordo claimed to possess the stolen Vicki Morgan sex tapes. He offered them for sale to Larry Flynt.

More than that: Gordo's tapes showed Vicki boffing not just Reagan's aides, but Reagan himself.

To be specific: The tape showed Reagan receiving a "message from the rear" which Vicki delivered, using a certain plastic appendage. (An unlikely fetish, given what I know of Nancy Davis' specialty. But I digress.)

Flynt made somewhat oblique reference to these events in The Rebel, a non-porno magazine he once published. I have no idea how much, if anything, Gordo received for the tapes. But I do know that Gordo wormed his way into Flynt's entourage, becoming the man's "minister of everything," as one glossy magazine profile put it. As I recall, the old Los Angeles Herald Examiner carried a front-page story connecting Gordo to the hiring of Bill Mintzer for Flynt's security staff. (Mintzer was a hit man later convicted in the "Cotton Club" killings.)

As you may recall, Flynt seemed to go wacky during this period, wearing diapers to court and such.

Flynt showed the Vicki-and-Reagan tape to a number of people. I've read at least one first-hand account of the tape and have received several second-hand accounts. Frank Zappa, of all people, attended a private showing, which he later described during a radio interview. He had a difficult time trying to think of a polite way to give the details.

Bottom line: The tape was a fake.

That's why you can't find the thing on YouTube today.

Gordo later admitted to its fraudulent nature. He said that the tape used spot-on lookalikes for Ronald and Vicki, and that it was produced by the intelligence service of an East-bloc country. (Not the KGB.)

I don't know when or how Flynt became aware that he had been gulled.

I do know that faked video tapes of famous people have fooled some onlookers who were by no means stupid.

*  *  *

End Cannon 2008. Cannon 2019 resumes. 

Now it can be told: Because the man himself has gone to his infernal reward, I can reveal that "Gordo" was the infamous Gordon Novel, a name well-known to students of parapolitics. Novel did indeed hire Mintzer, a murderous thug who played a role in both the "Cotton Club" killing and (if you can believe The Ultimate Evil, a book toward which I've grown wary) the Son of Sam murders.

Novel was freakin' everywhere, worming his way into everything from the Bay of Pigs to the Jim Garrison investigation to Watergate and to the controversy surrounding the Branch Davidian tragedy in Waco. In the 1990s, Novel skulked around the edges of ufology, even though he clearly did not believe in flying saucers. God only knows what he was up to. After his passing, family members constructed an elaborate narrative about his adventures -- but I won't link to those web pages (presuming they are still up) because they were just just too damned ludicrous.

(It can be convenient to bury an old spook in a graveyard of bullshit, because the bullshit dissuades mainstream investigators from digging up what really happened. See: E. Howard Hunt.)

During the heyday of Watergate, Novel gave an extraordinary interview to Jack Anderson, in which he claimed that Nixon henchman Charles Colson wanted Novel to erase the Watergate tapes -- stored in CIA headquarters. You can hear Gordo himself discuss the matter here. Many have misunderstood that Anderson column: Novel referred not to the tapes that Nixon eventually released -- the tapes that everyone knows about -- but to another set of recordings clandestinely made by the CIA's Jim Angleton, for whom Novel worked.

Now you know why Nixon couldn't simply destroy the tapes. He knew that the Agency had copies of everything, kept secure in a vault on the second floor. I've even toyed with the idea that historians were misled; perhaps the CIA tapes were the only tapes made of Nixon's White House conversations. (Tricky Dick himself couldn't operate a tape recorder to save his life.)

In the same interview with Anderson, Novel outlined his own plan to save Nixon:
Footnote: Colson and Novel also discussed a caper to patch H.R. Haldeman's voice onto a tape along with an actor who would imitate President Nixon and make false confessions. The fake tape would he sent with a phony authenticating note from an allegedly disgruntled Secret Service man to the Senate Watergate Committee which, Colson surmised, would leak it. Then he and Novel would reveal the tape was fraudulent and the hoax would tend to discredit the whole case against Nixon.

Colson said it was "true" he discussed this idea. "Wouldn't that be a great gag?"
(Emphasis added.) Whatever you may think of Jack Anderson, he knew better than to ascribe a false quote to a guy like Chuck Colson. Colson never denied saying those words.

In short and in sum: Colson wanted to reduce the Watergate scandal -- which had become insanely complicated -- down to just one bombshell, or pseudo-bombshell. The entire controversy would rest on one spectacular piece of evidence. Once he revealed that evidence to be fake, the entire controversy would wither. Theoretically.

I can guess what you're thinking: "This is all very droll, Cannon. But you said you were going to talk about sex scandals. Haven't you wandered far from your subject?"

In fact, the "great gag" to which Colson confessed is of central importance. I told you that story in order to make the concept clear to you.

Think back to the strange tale of "Patrick Kessler," who was obviously no mere "hacker." You'd have to be very naive indeed to read about him in the NYT without thinking spook. (Trust me, those three NYT writers know the score. Who do think they're fooling?)

Who was "Kessler" working for, and what was his objective?

The fake sex tape depicted Ehud Barak, a political opponent of Bibi Netanyahu. There is no denying that Netanyahu used the Epstein connection as a cudgel against Barak, although as far as I can tell, the Netanyahu forces never referenced the video made available to "Kessler." In real life, we have evidence of troubling financial ties between Epstein and Barak, but we do not have evidence of sexual impropriety.

However, there is another possible rational for the "Kessler" video. Suppose the tape had been made public, and suppose that Barak was able to prove it fraudulent. What would be the result?

The credibility of all other Epstein accusers would have suffered.

The entire controversy would have devolved onto one spectacular piece of evidence. Once that evidence was unveiled as a fake, the entire controversy would wither. Theoretically.

When you think about it, a powerful figure who really is guilty of a serious sin may no other choice but to use some variant of this "great gag." Let's call it the Colson Strategy -- though I'm quite sure Chuck Colson was not the first to come up with the idea.

I had planned to write about other sex scandals, but this post has turned out to be much longer than expected. Looks like I'll have to leave the rest for another occasion (though if I had any sense, I'd write a book about this stuff and make a few dollars).

Here's a preview of coming attractions: I've done some further research into the "Katie Johnson" Complaint against Trump and Epstein, which I've long suspected to be yet another example of the Colson Strategy. I've dug into a little-known aspect of Roger Stone's sordid history and found an uncanny parallel: He had previously used a "Katie Johnson" maneuver to protect a client.

We'll also discuss the possibility that ersatz versions of the Trump "pee tape" may actually be variants of the Colson Strategy. And we may even get in a few words about Anthony Wiener.

All of that is a tale for another time. Right now...

...well, admit it: Aren't you glad you spent this time reading about something other than impeachment?

Saturday, November 30, 2019

"Crime in Progress" and Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham has become Mr. Anti-Impeachment in the Senate. He lives to defend Trump.
In the space of a few weeks, Mr. Graham, who has long prided himself on being an institutionalist, has gone from expressing an open mind about impeachment to becoming a leader of the president’s counterattack. He has angrily denounced the House inquiry — “Salem witches got a better deal than this!” he tweeted on Wednesday — while generally acquiescing to calls from an outraged party base to mount a more vigorous defense of the president.
Not long ago, the senator was a very different person -- and I don't think that either his impending re-election or the brayings of the base can fully explain this transformation.

Thanks to a friend's generosity, I'm reading the Simpson/Fritsch book Crime in Progress, which offers the untold story of the Steele Dossier -- you know, that series of intelligence reports which the Republicans keep saying has been "discredited" without telling you who discredited it or just which parts are wrong. Here's a bit from the opening chapter:
Senator McCain, still many months from a dire brain cancer diagnosis, wanted to put a copy of Steele’s memos in front of FBI Director James Comey -- a decision his friend and fellow Republican senator Lindsey Graham encouraged. McCain wanted to know if the FBI was doing anything about credible information from a trusted ex–intelligence official in the U.K. that a hostile foreign power might have influence over the U.S. president-elect.
Let that sink in. There was a time when Lindsey Graham wanted to make sure that Jim Comey looked into the Steele report. If there was a "Get Trump" conspiracy, Graham was part of it.

Later in Crime in Progress:
“The allegations were disturbing, but I had no idea which if any were true,” McCain later wrote. “I could not independently verify any of it, and so I did what any American who cares about our nation’s security should have done. I put the dossier in my office safe, called the office of the director of the FBI, Jim Comey, and asked for a meeting.” McCain’s friend and colleague Lindsey Graham later admitted that he had encouraged McCain to turn the dossier over to the FBI. Months later Graham would feign outrage over the dossier during congressional hearings.
Later still:
In the first weeks of December, desperate Trump opponents launched a last-ditch effort to block Trump from the presidency by persuading the members of the Electoral College to vote against ratifying the election. Kramer and other die-hard opponents of Trump hoped the establishment would somehow awaken to the threat Trump represented, rise up, and stop him from taking office. McCain, Kramer hoped, would use his status—war hero, former GOP presidential nominee, Russia hawk—to lead a Republican Party mutiny and recruit fellow senators Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio to the effort. Kramer shared his ambition with Steele, who hoped it might be possible but had no way of gauging whether it was realistic or a pipe dream.
Later still:
It soon came out that the White House had engineered the whole show, sharing with Nunes classified documents about incidental surveillance of Trump campaign officials collected during the campaign so he could then act as if they had come from somewhere else. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, soon to be a sturdy Trump ally, scoffed at Nunes’s ham-handed effort to change the subject, calling it an “Inspector Clouseau investigation.” The House Ethics Committee opened an inquiry into Nunes’s actions. While under fire days later, Nunes recused himself from directing the committee’s Russia inquiry, a pledge he would water down with each passing month.
How soon we forget! The Nunes recusal, or semi-recusal, owed much to Lindsey Graham.

And then...something changed. An invisible hand flipped a switch. Cute little Linda Blair suddenly soiled her mother's rug. 
Two days later, a federal judge rejected Fusion’s effort to block the House Intelligence Committee from obtaining more of its bank records. “Federal Judge Obliterates Fusion GPS’ Attempt to Hide Info from Investigators,” screamed one right-wing website. The next day, Grassley and his new wingman, Lindsey Graham, launched a counteroffensive against Fusion and Orbis, announcing they’d sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding a criminal investigation of Christopher Steele for supposedly lying to the FBI. The FBI was fully capable of referring for criminal prosecution any individual it believed had knowingly lied to or misled them. That had not happened. The Graham-Grassley referral was a transparent political stunt. On Friday, TD Bank dispatched a copy of Fusion’s account records to the House.

It made for a lousy, wintry weekend. Of all the accusations leveled against Orbis and Fusion in the year since the dossier became public, the accusation by Grassley and Graham against Steele was perhaps the most outrageous. Steele phoned Simpson and Fritsch, distraught by these developments.

“I have served my country loyally for twenty years and only did what I thought was right,” he told Simpson. “This is how I am thanked? These people have no shame.”
What the hell happened to Lindsey Graham? Many would say that the "kompromat" theory is simplistic -- but there are times when "simplistic" is just a way of saying simple. And you know what Occam had to say about the simplest theory.
Comments: dovetails nicely with the above.
Being a slow reader, I have not finished Crime in Progress yet. It does deliver a lot of info. I suppose I’ll be waiting for volume two, since we’re still in the middle of things.

@anan9:41 thanks very much for the link to Greg Olear. The Graham post was pointed, and he is someone to follow, it seems. Good writer.

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Thanksgiving message from the Prophet of Doom

Happy Thanksgiving. We're doomed.
Yesterday, Brett Kavanaugh quietly released a brief opinion that lays out his blueprint for one-party Republican rule.
Totally doomed.
Thus, if a Republican Supreme Court disables major legislation like the Clean Air Act, that law is likely to remain disabled for the foreseeable future.

That is why the Nondelegation Doctrine could be a recipe for one-party rule. Republican justices can disable regulations at their leisure — or even strike down the very laws permitting such regulation. And Democrats are unlikely to ever win a Senate majority large enough to do anything about it.
Doomed, I tell you.
Frank Wuco, a senior adviser at the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, came under scrutiny last year when his past comments involving the promotion of far-right conspiracy theories surfaced.

Some of those included debunked claims that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States, former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam, former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. had been a member of the Black Panthers and former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Yes, doomed.
The same person who attacked the Boston Globe for exposing pedophilia is, of course, heading up Mike Pompeo’s “Human Rights Commission.”
If you want a guaranteed way to anger a Ukrainian, tell them Crimea belongs to Russia.

Ukrainian diplomats are lashing out at Apple after it gave in to Moscow’s demands to show Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as part of Russian territory on its maps and weather apps when accessed from Russia.
When you can’t have a baseline acceptance of what reality is—not your view of reality, not your view of the facts, but IS this a fact, did this event happen? Did this person say this?—that makes it really hard to have a functioning civil society. And I think that’s just as much of [the base’s] ambition as is trying to promote Trump or Trumpism. They want the very concepts of truth or integrity in politics to be destroyed. I think that many, many different political actors are going to take advantage of these social media networks to continue to do that. It makes it very hard to trace precisely who is responsible when there’s often no accountability from the platforms themselves.
Seriously, doomed.
Rebels have attacked and killed several health workers responding to Ebola in eastern Congo, the head of the World Health Organization said on Thursday, an alarming development that could cause the waning outbreak to regain momentum in an area that has been the site of heavy fighting.
Perhaps the wisest course is to embrace nihilism. I've reached the point where I welcome DOOM.
The Earth is heading toward a "global tipping point" if the climate crisis continues on its current path, scientists have warned, as they called for urgent action to avoid "an existential threat to civilization."
The group of researchers, who published a commentary in the journal Nature, say there is growing evidence to suggest that irreversible changes to the Earth's environmental systems are already taking place, and that we are now in a "state of planetary emergency."

A global tipping point is a threshold when the planet's systems go beyond the point of no return -- such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest, accelerated melting of ice sheets, and thawing of permafrost -- the authors of the commentary say.

Such a collapse could lead to "hothouse" conditions that would make some areas on Earth uninhabitable.

"We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best," the authors said.
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your feast! We're doomed!

Former KGB agent explains how to destabilize and take down a nation. It somehow sounds very familiar;


May your life and your afterlife be blessed, Mr. Cannon.

However, I have grown weary of your worldview, and I doubt I will return. Sayonara.
In 2000 "journalists" at metro rags like the New York Times and Washington Post decided the outcome of the presidential election by attacking Al Gore with lies, smears, and distortions. The result was Bush, 911, ISIS, Katrina FEMA FUBAR deaths and a Global Warming catastrophe.
President Gore would have moved heaven and earth to thwart the 911 terrorists, wouldn't have destroyed Iraq giving us ISIS, appointed a first responder to FEMA,and started the U.S. on carbon mitigation. We'd be 17 years along by now on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Who am I kidding, republicans would have fought him every step of the way and Nancy Pelosi would have stabbed him in the back.
Ain't gonna hold my breath waiting on the news media to apologize for their ratfuckery that brought us here.
And a merry Thanksgiving to you and your readers.

Good. Be doomed then. Liars are doomed, after all.
Oh no! My readers think I'm too captious! I'm DOOOOOOOMED!

("Liars"? What lies did I tell? I offered a bunch of links.)
@Mr!ike — sorry to be so late to follow up. In your list of those attacking Dems, you neglected the odious Nader, who brought his imbecilic roadshow to Florida. Nader, who styles himself as the 3 dimensional chess player went around Florida talking trash about Gore’s “Pinocchio nose,” the routine purist (aka saboteur) rant against the mainstream opponent’s dishonesty.

Friggin Nadir, at least he got too tired to keep running. I hope.

@Joseph, wouldn’t worry much about the likes os tsiggwhatever. As lonas you deny the inner “truth” of the
Koch- Exxon worldview of infinite world improvement through global warming for the greater good, well, you will have trolls calling liar.”

Badge of Honor, that truly is.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The OTHER Trump scandals

I'm not saying that Ukrainegate isn't important. In fact, I recommend this Lawfare report on the matter.

But there are plenty of other scandals out there which the Dems should look into. Where Trump is concerned, the public seems to require the shock of the new. If a scandal lingers for a while, people acclimate themselves: "It's Trump. Whatcha gonna do?"

Every couple of days, Dems should clobber this administration with NEW NEW NEW evidence of corruption. Investigation after investigation after investigation. God knows that Trump provides plenty of content, and God knows that the Republicans would do the same if positions were reversed.

I have no idea why Pelosi keeps giving him a free ride. If I had her job, I'd launch new accusations every couple of days, and I'd instruct all Dem House members to keep using phrases like "Mob Boss Donald Trump" and "Trump Crime Family."

What else should the Dems look into? In this post, I'll offer a couple of suggestions. In subsequent posts, I'll offer more.

Trump Tower. This ProPublica article is damning. Basically, it's a story about documents that don't add up: Trump tells his lender one thing and the tax people another thing.
In the latest case, the occupancy rate of the Trump Tower’s commercial space was listed, over three consecutive years, as 11, 16 and 16 percentage points higher in filings to a lender than in reports to city tax officials, records show.
Sixteen points may not sound like much, but it's pretty damned significant. This scheme allowed Trump to pay less tax while refinancing the building on favorable terms.

What caused the gap? Apparently, the Trump organization itself. The documents tell two very different stories about how much space the Trump organization takes up within the building. The lenders were led to believe that Trump's company takes up 31% of the building, while the tax people were told that the company takes up 18% of the building.

Let us pause to remember Whitewater -- the bullshit pseudo-scandal which, even if it were not bullshit, would still have been far, far, far less important than Trump's lies about Trump Tower.

Needless to say, there is more than one questionable property in Trump's portfolio. He plays this game a lot.
Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street
If any Dem did this kind of thing, the red staters would want to see him drawn and quartered.

Malta. Few are paying attention to this tiny little country, but Malta is important to scandal watchers because it is an offshore banking center. Thus, the place has become a favorite of crooks, spies and wheeler-dealers from all over the world.

The notorious Joseph Mifsud is, or was, Maltese. (Nobody seems to know if he is still alive.) He is (was?) the Russia-connected "professor" who acted as a go-between linking Team Trump to Team Putin. One must be careful when speaking about Mifsud: In recent times, the right has concocted an alternative script in which he worked for either the FBI or the CIA. You're probably going to hear a lot about those claims when Barr releases his report on December 9.

(I have no doubt that Barr's report will be a big, steaming pot of bullshit stew, liberally spiced with lies. But that's a topic for another time.) 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mifsud is a journalist's nightmare -- a professional double-dealer. I'm tempted to call him a modern-day George de Mohrenschildt, though only we Ancient Ones will understand that reference. Such men scuttle about Spookworld while making all sorts of different claims, which makes it easy for agenda-driven "investigators" to construct misleading narratives.

But Mifsud is not the Maltese miscreant I'd like to talk about here.

In October of 2017, a car bomb killed celebrated Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who did so much to expose the Panama Papers.
Her blogs were a thorn in the side of both the establishment and underworld figures that hold sway in Europe’s smallest member state.

Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.
You may be wondering: What does her murder have to do with Trump? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps much.

We addressed that question in this earlier post, which published a report from a European writer we know as B. He cited this article published in September of 2017, shortly before the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia:
Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Trump probe likely to reach Malta
Why was the FBI interested in Malta's links to Trump? Because the Russians tend to set up offshore companies in Malta for various nefarious purposes. Several such companies belonged to something called the Silk Road Group. This group was involved with plans to build a Trump Tower in the Republic of Georgia, in the city of Batumi.

(Yes, I know that Georgia is not Russia; yes, I know that the two neighboring countries were at war in 2008.)
A licence was granted to approve the building of a Trump Tower in Butami, and it was to be developed and financed by subsidiaries of the Silk Road Group. It is reported that the latter received a US$300 million loan from B.T.A Bank, the largest bank in neighbouring Kazakhstan.
$300 million is no small amount of change. Remember, Trump couldn't get loans from most normal sources. The bank is run by yet another of those oligarchs close to Putin.

So basically, we have very good evidence that a lot of money from a Putin crony flowed into a Trump project. For more, see here.

(That story ends by making a sensible point: If Trump availed himself of "funny money" to build that tower in Georgia, he opened himself up to foreign blackmail.) 

Mueller looked into the Silk Road angle, though not to the degree I would have preferred. The businessman who handled the Georgia Trump Tower for Silk Road was one Giorgi Rtskhiladze. (Yeesh. Must Slavic names contain so many consonant-clusters?) Mr. Lotsa-Consonants was also the point man for another Trump project in Kazakhstan...

...and for the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow. That's the big one -- the infamous one. You don't head up a project like that unless you're Putin's man.

Conclusion: Silk Road represented Putin's interests. The tower was to be built in Georgia, but the money was Russian.

I remind you: $300 million. It seems that Trump couldn't get that kind of money from any non-Russian source.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was looking into Silk Road when she was blown up.

I can't say that Silk Road was the reason why she was assassinated, because she was looking into other shady activities as well. More than one person had reason to want her gone.

There have been new developments in the investigation into the car-bombing. Investigators are looking into a businessman named Yorgen Fenech. He was the secret owner of a mysterious "on paper" company called 17 Black Ltd, apparently used in money laundering. That company had come to Caruana Galizia's attention via the Panama Papers, though she died before she could learn the name of its owner.

It turns out that Fenech kept in constant contact with Keith Schembri, the chief of staff to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. In her final post, Caruana Galizia accused Schembri of corruption.

The latest twist in this story has been much misunderstood -- frankly, it's quite possible that I do not yet understand the situation. If I'm wrong, please correct.

Muscat has just pardoned another man named Melvin Theuma, a taxi driver who dabbled in various ultra-shadowy activities. It is said that he acted a paymaster to the actual assassins. Although a lot of people have concluded that Muscat pardoned Theuma as part of a cover-up, that may not be the case. Apparently, the purpose of the pardon is to make it easier to force Theuma to name the mastermind of the crime. The decision to offer a pardon came from Malta's equivalent of our Justice Department; under Maltese law, Muscat could not override that decision. 

Am I alleging that Trump and Muscat are working together in some fashion? No. I am saying this: Caruana Galizia was looking into both Silk Road and 17 Black Ltd, two offshore "funny money" groups set up in Malta to avoid taxation and regulation. She had inconvenienced a number of powerful people. Silk Road may -- or may not -- be the reason why she was killed.

On a related note: This interesting article argues that Trump and Joseph Muscat have used the exact disinformation technique. Both men were the subject of extensive reports. Both men claimed to have been "exonerated" by investigations which did no such thing.
Muscat has accused opposition politicians and journalists of a “frame up” although there is no mention of this in the summary of the report.

Like Trump, Muscat first falsely signalled transparency and then turned to weaponised secrecy. Both now falsely claim that ‘not enough evidence’ to support a criminal charge is the same as no evidence at all.
Sound familiar? It's as if these guys all go to the same propaganda school.
George de Mohrenschildt...yep. Damn I'm old.
Lest we forget:
Rtskhiladze looks like a Georgian name; it's definitely not Slavic.

A Scandinavian
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Supreme Court will crown Trump

If the House and the SDNY were wise, they would drop the demand for Trump's taxes. The Supreme Court will rule in Trump's favor -- on any question. We're living in Kompromat Kountry now, and thus we must presume that they (and by "they" I mean The GOP or the FSB or a number of other parties) have the goods on John Roberts. The Federalist Society -- not a pro-democracy organization -- has picked four justices.

As Tom Carter (a leading figure within the Society) once put it: “The Christian right has been written about a lot, but hardly anyone talks about the Catholic right. Four Supreme Court justices -- they’re more successful than anybody. The NRA, the Israel lobby, Big Pharma: No one else has had that kind of impact.”

In their mania to get Trump, the Dems may invite a ruling which makes him more powerful than ever. I am particularly worried about the other issue which will go to the Court -- the McGahn supoena. If, when, the Supremes rule in Trump's favor on that score, democracy will be in even worse peril than is the case right now.

In this thread, one participant predicts that the Supremes will quash the subpoenas to reveal his taxes. Another participant answers:
If that happens, we need to all agree that it is time for a General Strike. All who can need to take to the streets until this nightmare is over.
I'd like to see that kind of action. This government cannot long exist without the revenue produced by the blue states. Unfortunately, the red staters think that they are more prosperous and productive than they actually are. In fact, they are leeches, taking more from the federal government than they give in taxes. The only way to educate the ignorant and uncivilized red staters on this point is for their superiors to turn off the money spigot.

A general strike will teach those Trumpers. They will no longer speak about a civil war. They'll learn that leeches cannot long survive without their host.

Here's an amusing example.

No small number of Alt Rightists are flirting with Yangism. Without the productive blue states, who will provide those $1000 checks?
Take a look at today's events in Malta. Where is Joseph Mifsud? Malta appears to be going "bang" and the effects will spread far and wide and possibly very fast.
That was me that made the comment about Malta. I got anonymous by accident. Joseph Mifsud is an interesting character. A lot of Russian billionaire bracket money is in Malta, a heavily mobbed up country. Nick Cohen is attempting to make Mifsud look like a Walter Mitty, but he isn't. Boris Johnson denied meeting Mifsud until a photo of them together came out. My hunch tells me there are going to be some big "events" in what remains of the British general election campaign.
You mean they wouldn't do if it wasn't for the Kompromat? An incorrigible optimist you are...

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Why Trump will win: Another example

Stop kidding yourself. There is no hope.

The hearings were a disaster for Trump, yet support for impeachment has dropped. How does he do it? In large part, he succeeds because the right-wing alternative media infrastructure has become so powerful and so shameless, and because the citizenry (on both left and right) has lost faith in reason, in the very concept of objective reality. Truth is no longer truth. Truth is what Trump declares it to be. Il Duce ha sempre ragione.

Here's an example. It's a piece of propaganda by right-wing writer Scott Johnson, who seeks to skewer the Steele Dossier. In right-wing mythology, it all comes down to the Dossier. Trumpers believe that their man will be cleared if they can simply say enough nasty things about Steele's work. That's their approach: Simplify, personalize, demonize.

Never mind that, before Steele began work, the FBI was investigating Trump. The reasons were plentiful: Trump's main foreign policy adviser was Michael Flynn, suspected of falling into a classic Russian "honeytrap." George Papadopoulos, another adviser, was told by an intermediary that Russia had Hillary's emails and met with a woman he thought was Putin's niece. (I simplify grossly an involved series of events.) Trump's campaign manager was Paul Manafort, who had done Russia's bidding in Ukraine. Trump's sons told interviewers that Trump's company was financially dependent on Russians. Trump continually praised or shielded Putin throughout the campaign. In early June, Paul Ryan was telling fellow congressmen that Trump takes money from the Russians -- and no, he wasn't joking.

That's just for starters. If Christopher Steele had never been born, the probe of Trump's links to Russia would still have been inevitable -- and evidence of collusion still would be incontrovertible.

In Rightwingerland, Fusion GPS (which hired Orbis, Steele's firm) is a Democrats-only operation. In the real world, of course, it was a Republican who originally hired Fusion to do oppo research on Trump. The RNC still employs that firm.

To his credit, Johnson does note that Fusion also sought info helpful to Russia's efforts to undo the Magnitsky Act. But Johnson does not draw the obvious conclusion: Fusion is not a partisan operation. It is a capitalist enterprise. It is an investigation service which works for anyone willing to cut a check. It does the job it is paid to do.

Johnson also notes the existence of the Trump Tower meeting without addressing the obvious question: Why is oppo research considered acceptable when Trump does it but utterly horrifying when a Dem does it?
In April 2016 the Clinton presidential campaign and Democratic National Commmittee hired Fusion GPS “to build a Trump-Russia echo chamber,” as Lee Smith puts it in The Plot Against the President. Simpson promptly circulated allegations of corrupt Russian ties to the Trump campaign to the mainstream media.
What a lie! The Dossier was not circulated until after the election.

How could Fusion build an "echo chamber" while keeping the Dossier secret? Before the election there was only one brief, infuriatingly vague public reference to this investigation, published by David Corn, who did not actually reveal the Dossier's existence or discuss any details. How does that count as an "echo chamber"?

And yet many Trumpers have convinced themselves the Dossier came out before the election. The True Believers will always reconfigure their memories to accord with the version of events presented in the right-wing media.

Right-wing propagandists have become absolutely shameless in their efforts to revise history. It's "Saddam planned 9/11" all over again.
If the Steele Dossier is what it purports to be, Steele picked up the phone in June 2016 and called his old sources high up in the Putin administration.
Is Johnson out of his freakin' mind? Steele never claimed that!

No such claim is made in the Dossier itself. The document does not name sources but does describe them. (This is standard with raw intelligence compilations; the names are kept in a separate list.)

If, in his testimony or in any interview, Steele had offered any quotation which would back up Johnson's inane assertion, that quote would be famous, or infamous.

Steele did not call up people in the Putin administration and ask "What can you tell me about Trump?" For crying out loud! That’s not how you gather intel. Steele's associates did the job the way spooks have always done such tasks: They operated under cover to ingratiate themselves -- subtly -- with various informants.
Eager to lend a hand, they helpfully provided the allegations of treasonous collusion that we now know to be a lie.
We know no such thing.

First, as noted above, none of the information came from people close to Putin. None of the informants were witting. (However, there is a possibility -- some would say likelihood -- that the Russians caught on.)

Second, we do not know that "allegations of treasonous collusion" are a lie. The right repeats that claim endlessly, but mindless repetition does not make this claim plausible.

If Johnson truly believes this, he should cite evidence. For example, he should cite a specific passage in the Muller Report which exonerates Trump.

Johnson cannot offer such a citation for one simple reason: The report is not exonerative. Yes, Barr pretended otherwise -- and in so doing, Barr will go down in history as a vile liar. Barr's false summary does not reflect the actual report, which right-wingers refuse to read.

Fact: Mueller found ample evidence of obstruction of justice. One does not obstruct justice unless one is guilty.

Fact: Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, fed voter data to a Russian intelligence officer. There is no innocent explanation for this.

It is also true that Mueller constricted his efforts -- unwisely and unfairly -- by concentrating on the official Trump campaign team. The real dirty work was done through cut-outs. (It's worth noting that, in the Zelensky call, Trump called Mueller incompetent, not corrupt or wrong.)

If Trump were a Democrat, a propagandist like Johnson would consider the evidence against Trump conclusive. We would, of course, know much more if Trump had not hidden evidence. But, based on what we do know, the list presented here is damning:
1. Trump was receptive to a Campaign national security adviser’s (George Papadopoulos) pursuit of a back channel to Putin.

2. Kremlin operatives provided the Campaign a preview of the Russian plan to distribute stolen emails.

3. The Trump Campaign chairman and deputy chairman (Paul Manafort and Rick Gates) knowingly shared internal polling data and information on battleground states with a Russian spy; and the Campaign chairman worked with the Russian spy on a pro-Russia “peace” plan for Ukraine.

4. The Trump Campaign chairman periodically shared internal polling data with the Russian spy with the expectation it would be shared with Putin-linked oligarch, Oleg Deripaska.

5. Trump Campaign chairman Manafort expected Trump’s winning the presidency would mean Deripaska would want to use Manafort to advance Deripaska’s interests in the United States and elsewhere.

6. Trump Tower meeting: (1) On receiving an email offering derogatory information on Clinton coming from a Russian government official, Donald Trump Jr. “appears to have accepted that offer;” (2) members of the Campaign discussed the Trump Tower meeting beforehand; (3) Donald Trump Jr. told the Russians during the meeting that Trump could revisit the issue of the Magnitsky Act if elected.

7. A Trump Campaign official told the Special Counsel he “felt obliged to object” to a GOP Platform change on Ukraine because it contradicted Trump’s wishes; however, the investigation did not establish that Gordon was directed by Trump.

8. Russian military hackers may have followed Trump’s July 27, 2016 public statement “Russia if you’re listening …” within hours by targeting Clinton’s personal office for the first time.

9. Trump requested campaign affiliates to get Clinton’s emails, which resulted in an individual apparently acting in coordination with the Campaign claiming to have successfully contacted Russian hackers.

10. The Trump Campaign—and Trump personally—appeared to have advanced knowledge of future WikiLeaks releases.

11. The Trump Campaign coordinated campaign-related public communications based on future WikiLeaks releases.

12. Michael Cohen, on behalf of the Trump Organization, brokered a secret deal for a Trump Tower Moscow project directly involving Putin’s inner circle, at least until June 2016.

13. During the presidential transition, Jared Kushner and Eric Prince engaged in secret back channel communications with Russian agents. (1) Kushner suggested to the Russian Ambassador that they use a secure communication line from within the Russian Embassy to speak with Russian Generals; and (2) Prince and Kushner’s friend Rick Gerson conducted secret back channel meetings with a Putin agent to develop a plan for U.S.-Russian relations.

14. During the presidential transition, in coordination with other members of the Transition Team, Michael Flynn spoke with the Russian Ambassador to prevent a tit for tat Russian response to the Obama administration’s imposition of sanctions for election interference; the Russians agreed not to retaliate saying they wanted a good relationship with the incoming administration.

During the course of 2016, Trump Campaign associates failed to report any of the Russian/WikiLeaks overtures to federal law enforcement, publicly denied any contacts with Russians/WikiLeaks, and actively encouraged the public to doubt that Russia was behind the hacking and distribution of stolen emails.
Note that the Dossier plays no role in any of this.

For more -- much more -- see Scott Abramson's Proof of Collusion
It doesn't make any difference. We all know that Trump did no colution nor interference with the investigation. Also he was right to ask for Ukraine to investigate Biden and Crowdstrike.And how do we know this? Because Trump, Fox News, and our trusted Republican elected officials say so.
My response as published in the Power Line piece:

And Dimytro Firtash is up to his eyeballs with the Trump crowd, initially Paulie Manafort who advised on Rudy's Ukraine criminal activities. Wapo says: "Manafort operated a real estate investment business in Manhattan which was funded by Firtash, but you can see from a complaint filed by a former employee with the New York Department of Labor’s fraud unit that their the business was actually a money laundering sham."

According to Law & Crime, it is also clear from reporting in the New York Times that Giuliani approached Firtash and convinced him to fire Lanny Davis as his lawyer and to hire Joseph diGenova and wife, Victoria Toensing to represent him in his fight against extradition."

Firtash, who has known ties to Russian organized crime, told the Times he met with Parnas and Fruman in June where they offered to assist him with the bribery and racketeering charges in the Northern District of Illinois if he hired e diGenova and Toensing as his legal representation.

DiGenova and Toensing, both of whom are staunch supporters of President Donald Trump and who make frequent "rah-rah" appearances on the Trump News Channel, had already been helping Giuliani in his attempts to dig up dirt on the Bidens - but Firtash maintains that he knows of no information that would damage the former vice president.

Not coincidentally, this lawyer team also represents John Solomon, whose articles at The Hill made the Biden conspiracy into a mainstream and enduring talking point.

Somehow Scott has failed again to see the real crime in process.

The Trump Chumps are not the people we need to reach, anyway.

The people we need to reach and wake up are the "Vote Slackers"--NOT the people who were prevented from voting by Rethuglican or Russian (but I repeat myself) dirty tricks, or other factors beyond their control--but the lazy dimwits who were perfectly free to vote, but just couldn't be bothered because though the Rethugs are monsters, the Dems aren't perfect, so, in the tiny little minds of the Vote Slackers, "Both Sides".

Damn, Joe, I thought I was a pessimist, but you make me look like Dr. Pangloss, or like Pollyanna-With-A-Pecker (who probably actually exists on some hentai anime site).
"The Trump Chumps are not the people we need to reach, anyway."

How do you propose to enact legislation to reverse climate change if half the country hates the other half? Dems have to get over their distaste for working class white males. FDR would have sized up the problem immediately.

"Damn, Joe, I thought I was a pessimist, but you make me look like Dr. Pangloss..."

Thanks! I try.

A few days ago, I foolishly allowed a hopeful tone to seep into one of my posts. I sincerely apologize to my readers.
FYI, Nate Silver has been aggregating all the impeachment support polls and he's said support hasn't gone up or down since mid October. So the hearings didn't move the needle one way or the other. Not refuting any of your analysis, but just wanted to post it.
I typed my post under the impression that the anti-Trumpers, plus the Vote Slackers, would be considerably more than half the population. Am I mistaken?

BTW, the "working class" (class my ass; it's not class, it's educational level) white males deserted the Democrats BEFORE the Democrats started looking to the affluent classes to get money to try to finance PR campaigns to make up for their lost dimwitted white voters, because the white dimwits didn't like uppity wimmin, uppity n****rs, uppity hippies, uppity eggheads, uppity non-believers, uppity faggots, etc.

And don't forget, I'm as white, male, straight, and cis as you are. It's just that I've lost any loyalty I might have once felt to those categories. I now feel rather like a Marvel Comics mutant who happens to be WMS&C feels toward normal WMS&Cs, once the mutant has decided that Magneto is right about the normals after all. I wonder if we more enlightened folk are not reaching the population tipping point where we no longer need the white male dimwits. If true, that would be a glorious day.
A breakdown of Trump/GOP support of working Americans:
1. No affordable health insurance.
2. No affordable higher education.
3. No infrastructure jobs.
4. No clean energy jobs.
5. No farm product trade.
6. No help for Social Security.
7. No help for Medicare.
8. No drug pricing competition.
9. No help for teachers.
10. Trillions gifted to the already-rich.
11. Hurting brown people and the LGBTQ community.
12-infinity: everything else he and they have done.

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