Thursday, March 29, 2018

Collusion? Oh yeah....

I'll be back soon with a largish piece on the strange affair of Mikhail Lesin. (At last, a Russian name that is easy to spell!) For now, this. You no doubt saw yesterday's news stories about Alex Van Der Zwaan. A recent filing against him asserted that Manafort's pal and partner Rick Gates knowingly colluded with a Russian GRU official whose status with the spy agency was known to Gates.

Now it is clear that Mueller is using Gates not to put Manafort in jail (deserved as that outcome may be) but to target Trump. Until state charges are leveled against him, Manafort himself will not turn. But Gates was so close to Manafort that he -- Manafort -- may not even be necessary, although his cooperation would obviously be helpful.
Gates may have information of value to prosecutors beyond his business dealings with Manafort, according to sources familiar with his role. He never grew close to Trump, but he had ties with other members of Trump's inner circle, including Manafort and Tom Barrack, a fundraiser and close friend of Trump's. He also developed a reputation for keeping tabs on what others were up to, one source said.

Gates worked alongside Manafort during the critical summer of 2016 when senior campaign officials, including Manafort, met at Trump Tower in New York with a group of Russians who had promised damaging information on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
"Was he in the strategy meetings? No. But he was an implementer," one person said of Gates. So while he may not have participated in the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, he may still have knowledge of the meeting or whether those Russians were ever introduced to Trump himself.

"He would be the kind of person who would probably know that," this person said.

Even after Manafort was fired from the campaign, Gates stuck around. He then went on to work with Barrack, while Barrack ran the presidential inaugural committee following the election.
At this point, I don't know how anyone can doubt that collusion existed. The Republican strategy has been to pretend that everything traces back to the Steele Dossier, and that said dossier has been disproven. Neither assertion is true. I know of no assertion in that document which has been proven wrong, although a few have been questioned. The most important aspects of the text have, in fact, been verified. At any rate, even if the dossier had never existed, we'd have ample indications that Trump campaign had awareness of Putin's aid, including the hacking of Podesta and the DNC.

Foreign aid of any kind to a domestic campaign is a crime. I am persuaded that this charge is going to be the key indictment leveled against Trump and his confederates, aside from the obvious obstruction of justice charges.

Presuming, of course, Meuller is allowed to finish the job.

Assange. He's been a rather rotten houseguest, by all reports. And now we learn the Ecuador is cutting off Assange's internet connection -- which is akin to cutting off a runner's legs above the knees.
Ecuador’s government granted Mr. Assange citizenship in January, the latest step in a longstanding diplomatic standoff. But it said it had suspended Mr. Assange’s online communications on Tuesday because he had imperiled “the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the states of the European Union, and other nations” through his social-media messages.

The government did not provide specifics, but some speculated that the decision might have been related to the Western nations’ coordinated actions against Russia after the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. In a series of Twitter posts this week, Mr. Assange was critical of Western nations’ expulsions of Russian diplomats.
What brought this about? It may have something to do with the Mueller investigation. We know that the Mueller has targeted Roger Stone in recent days, and the Stone/Assange connection is obvious. Ecuador may have decided to cooperate. Although I don't yet have an actual theory of these events, I feel fairly confident presuming a connection between the Stone inquiry and Assange's most recent troubles.

I think you're understating how screwed Manafort is even if there are no state charges (which there will be). Here's how I see his options:

1) Spend the rest of your life in prison. Given that Mueller is trying to squeeze him as hard as possible, I have a feeling he won't be going to tennis prison.

2) Cooperate and get a light sentence. But now you basically become one of Russia's most wanted persons. You basically become a fugitive for life running from Putin.

3) Accept a federal pardon. But then you have to testify and there will still probably be state charges. So just like 2, you basically become a Russian fugitive. This has the added downside of corruptly accepting a pardon instead of volunteering to cooperate meaning you have zero chance at any sort of redemption in your free life. If you volunteer, there's a good chance after your prison sentence that you could sell your life story and help the country deal with the Russians and other shady world leaders. There's at least some dignity in that. If you accept a pardon, you will always be branded as a traitor and have no role in "normal" life in the US.

Separate from the above, I also want to note that in addition to illegal campaign contributions, Mueller will probably charge Trump and his clan with being accessories to an assortment of computer crimes and for entering a conspiracy to defraud the US. This latter charge is what was used against the indicted Russians, and the analysis I read on it theorizes that this was used to show how the Trumpers can be indicted.

Don't worry. There are plenty of crimes they can be charged with outside of obstruction which, never forget, is itself an impeachable offense.
nemdam, I agree with much of what you have said. But what you haven't done yet is provide an explanation as to why Manafort has not flipped. He and Trump continue to act as though they have sleeves filled with aces.
Do we really want a mandate of more immigration and gun control if it means we continue to allow our seniors to not get the proper medical treatment they deserve? The core issue going on right now was in part caused by Barack Obama's inability to create meaningful banking regulations after the crash of 2008.

If a family had lived in their home for the past 25 years and has a 100,000 dollars of equity in it, but the bread winner was out of work, they could not tap that equity, even if it was just to pay monthly bills. The result was people were unnecessarily losing their homes that they had lived in for decades.

Millions of homes were foreclosed upon. The government claimed they had to treat everybody the same, so a house flipper was treated no differently than a family that had live in their home for the past 25 years and need a short term break.

Then, to add insult to injury, those who had Home Equity Lines of Credit and had never missed an interest only payment could not pay off their 100,000 dollar HELOC with another HELOC of 150,000 dollars )to get rid of credit card debt) even if their home had gone up in value by 100,000 dollars after the economy sort of came back.

Instead after 10 years homeowners had to start paying back triple the payment or lose their home.
As you discuss, it's his and his family's exposure to a painful early death.

There is no chance of his turning and then benefiting in any way. He and his family would need to enter the witness protection program, and hope that it is secure.

He had a choice of two very bad outcomes, and chose one, I think.


Manafort and Trump will find a way to escape to Russia and do a reality
show there. Imagine a former U.S, President ‘’trophy’ living in Russia as their
propaganda tool to taunt the world.
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