I didn't want to write a post today. In fact, I had intended to avoid thinking about politics unless events forced me to do so. But then...
...then THIS hit.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.
I was half-expecting -- well, hoping for -- a story like this to appear earlier. Like, about a month before the election.
Mr. Manafort is among at least three Trump campaign advisers whose possible links to Russia are under scrutiny. Two others are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative.
As many of you know, Stone made the news recently when he went on Alex Jones' show and claimed that the "deep state" tried to kill him with polonium. We don't have any actual medical documentation proving this claim, natch -- at least, I
haven't seen such documentation. But I have seen a picture of the "poisoned" Stone; unlike Litvinenko, Roger didn't lose his hair. And unlike Litvinenko, Roger recovered -- thanks, apparently, to one of those "miracle elixers" that AJ offers for sale.
Stone's outlandishly blatant plug for AJ's product line has led many to suspect that Stone's claim is revival-tent hogwash. (Note to self: One day, I must write a post comparing conspiracy-peddlers like AJ to miracle-peddlers like Peter Popoff; similar scams, same audience.
) It should also be noted that this alleged "hit" helps to publicize Stone's latest book.
However, I've not yet evicted all
love for conspiracy theory from my heart. What if there really was
an attempt on Stone's life? A couple of post ago, I offered the suggestion that Stone might have been one of Christopher Steele's sources. RS can be pretty loose-lipped -- perhaps too loose. Many far-rightists have said that Stone is far past his prime as a dirty trickster. In other words, maybe someone decided that he has become an expendable liability.
Forgive that side-trip down Paranoia Lane. Let's get back to the NYT story:
The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.
In an emailed statement Thursday evening, Mr. Manafort called allegations that he had interactions with the Russian government a “Democrat Party dirty trick and completely false.”
"Democrat Party Dirty Trick." Yeah, right
. There is no equivalent to Rascally Roger on Team Blue. And you certainly can't get the NSA, the CIA and Treasury to join forces on a mere "dirty trick."
The big question: Will further evidence come out before Trump can fire everyone involved in this investigation?
The other big question: Won't it look awfully damned suspicious
if he fires everyone involved in this investigation?
If Hillary had won, she could never have "cleaned house" at FBI, even though the Bureau employs many who despise her. Yet everyone expects Trump to say "You're fired!" to anyone who coveys even the slightest hint of disloyalty to The Donald.
Trump repeatedly said that how awful, awful, awful
it would be for Hillary Clinton to take the oath under FBI investigation. Well, isn't Trump under FBI investigation right now? Today? Inauguration day?
Let's see if I have this straight: If the FBI investigates Hillary, the fault must be Hillary's -- but if the FBI investigates Donnie, the fault must be with the FBI.
Let's get back to Manafort. His defense
Manafort also said that his activity in Ukraine “focused on the westernization of Ukraine.”
He added: “Anyone who takes the time to review the very public record will find that my main activities, in addition to political consulting, were all directed at integrating Ukraine as a member of the European community including assisting the Obama Administration’s effort to denuclearize Ukraine, expanding military exercises between NATO and Ukraine, and engaging in the process of negotiating the documents which were the basis of Ukraine becoming a part of the EU - the DCFTA and Association Agreements.”
The DCFTA is the Deep Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
Wait a minute. Wait a goddamn minute.
Isn't that the precise opposite
of what Manafort was doing? Let's not rehash the question of who is right in the Ukrainian civil war. Is it not a matter of objective fact
that Manafort was allied with Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Russia guy? The guy whom Obama targeted for removal because he (Yanukovich) opposed ties between Ukraine and NATO?
Meanwhile, in Spain:
AP offers a little-noticed story
which may prove to be of major significance.
Spanish officials say a Russian computer programmer wanted by the United States on hacking allegations has been jailed while a decision is made on whether to extradite him.
The National Court said Thursday that Stanislav Lisov, 31, was jailed Jan. 13 after Civil Guard police arrested him at Barcelona airport on an FBI warrant issued though Interpol.
The court said a Madrid judge questioned him by videoconference over charges of criminal conspiracy in connection with electronic and computer fraud for which he is wanted by the U.S. It said he was ordered jailed because of the seriousness of the offenses and the risk of him fleeing justice as he had done previously in the United States.
Lisov was arrested as he prepared to take a flight out of Spain with his wife.
And yet many Trumpers still deny that Russia had anything to do with the hacks. I can only presume that the Spanish government must now be considered part of the Evil Clinton Conspiracy.