Thursday, August 23, 2018

The parable of the little bird: Cohen, Flynn, Manafort...

MAGA: It stands for My Attorney Got Arrested. (Thanks to Common Dreams.)

A single juror. Shortly after the Manafort verdict came down, a journalist on CNN declared that a lone juror was the holdout vis-a-vis the deadlocked charges. Making a mental note of the claim but not the name of the journalist, I waited for verification. Now we have it.
Paula Duncan said a lone juror could not come to a guilty verdict on 10 charges, ultimately leading T.S. Ellis III to declare a mistrial on 10 of Manafort's 18 counts.
“Certainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump," Duncan said, referencing Mueller's probe, which she described as a "witch hunt to try to find Russian collusion."
Duncan herself may well be the holdout. How the hell did prosecutors allow this Fox-addled conspiratard on the jury? Perhaps Team Mueller wanted her there, for reasons explained in the previous post.

Have you ever heard the parable about the little bird trapped in cow dung? If you've seen the films Savage Messiah or My Name is Nobody, you know the story. The moral of the fable: It's not always your enemy who throws you into the shit, and it's not always your friend who pulls you out. But when you're in deep shit, keep your mouth shut.

That lone juror (Duncan?) tried to pull Paul Manafort out of the shit. Now he can be tried on the same charges (or similar ones) in a state court, where the power of the pardon can't protect Manafort.

Something similar seems to have occurred in the Michael Cohen case. We -- well, I -- have learned a lot about Barbara Underwood since the previous post. One excellent source of information is the Rachel Maddow segment embedded above.

Although we don't yet have the full picture, we have a clearer idea -- thanks to Rachel -- as to how Michael Cohen was (probably) turned. Underwood mounted a state-level case against Cohen's partner in the Taxi medallion scam, which too many people had forgotten about. The partner, Gene Friedman ("The Taxi King") faced massive charges that would have put him away for life. Nearly all of those charges went poof after the King cut a plea deal.

Obviously, he ratted out Cohen. Or, more likely, he ratted out Cohen's wife Laura, who was in on the medallion scheme and whose parents -- surprise, surprise -- own a unit in Trump Tower. (Laura is Ukrainian, and quite lovely. I'm starting to think that there are no non-beautiful Ukrainian females.) Although the Laura Cohen angle doesn't figure into Maddow's reportage, we all recall the times Michael Cohen said that his family was his first priority.

In short: Underwood let Friedman skate in exchange for dirt on Michael and Laura; not wanting to see his wife in legal jeopardy, Michael slowly and reluctantly flipped on Trump.

Can I prove this scenario? Not completely. But right now, it's the only narrative that makes sense. Cohen is a little bird in deep shit who is being forced to squawk.

Flynn. We have a one-page status report on the Flynn case. Basically, Mueller says that Flynn is not yet ready for a sentencing hearing at this time. Here's what Marcy Wheeler has to say about that:
While they’re continuing the sentencing process again (meaning he’s still cooperating), they’re asking for a status report on September 17, the same 27 days away as Manafort’s next trial.

That suggests they may be done with whatever they need Flynn to do in the near future.
Marcy is usually right, except when it comes to the Steele dossier. But I just took a peek at Junior's twitter feed, which is still a toxic waste dump. If ever Michael Flynn Sr. truly turns on Trump, the dump will suddenly become less toxic.

I suspect that Flynn Sr is pulling a Papadopoulos: He went through a period of faux cooperation in order to gain insight into the probe (with intelligence reports sent directly to Team Trump). Mueller will eventually declare Flynn non-cooperative; Flynn will be convicted, and then Trump will hand out a pardon. Why does Mueller want one more month? Obviously, he hopes to apply enough heat to enforce real cooperation.

Maybe it'll happen, but I don't think it will. As head of the DIA, Flynn was apparently compromised by a female Russian agent in what I consider an "intellectual" honeytrap. (I used that term because actual sex probably was not involved.) That relationship, I strongly suspect, is the real reason why Flynn lost his job. If I'm right, he surely would not want this story made public.

A limited Pecker hang out. This WP story offers some grounds for hope.
“The Cohen information vindicates what we said from Day 1: AMI is a corporate shill posing as a media organization,” said Peter Stris, the attorney who represented McDougal in her lawsuit against AMI this year. “It worked secretly with Michael Cohen to illegally silence Karen McDougal on Trump’s behalf. And that should deeply trouble all Americans, regardless of their politics.”

The Washington Post has reported that National Enquirer executives sent digital copies of the tabloid’s articles and cover images related to Donald Trump and his political opponents to Cohen in advance of publication, citing the accounts of three people with knowledge of the matter. In April, Howard denied that the tabloid did so or that Trump had influence over the Enquirer’s coverage.
I want to learn more about the smear-stories the Enquirer spread about Hillary. And then I want to see AMI sued out of existence.

Good Christ, I still can't get my mind around this situation: The National Enquirer helped to elect a notoriously gauche blowhard best-known for reality shows and teevee wrestling. The sheer lumpenprole-ness of it all! Are there really that many meth-addled hillbillies in this country?

Tom Arnold on pee-pee-gate. Speaking of lumpenprole entertainments: I don't know what you think about Scott Dworkin -- hell, I dunno what I think about Dworkin -- but you have to admit that this headline is an eyeball-scorcher:
Tom Arnold just revealed he knows who sent Russian hookers to Trump’s Moscow hotel room during Miss Universe – Part 2 of 3
Anything to this? Dunno. Haven't listened to the interview yet. If there's truly a there there, I'll come back and let you know.

Finally, note the irony: This country teems with millions of fools and rubes who bought into the Big Lie that the Clinton Foundation is some kind of slush fund. It is, in fact, one of the most honest and effective charities in the history of the world. Nobody has brought suit against this Foundation -- not a private party, not the federal government and not the government of any state.

Think about it. Republicans picked by Donald Trump run the DOJ and the FBI, and they see no case to be made against the Clinton Foundation.

But Trump's crooked foundation is now headed into serious trouble, thanks to the laudable Barbara Underwood. Rachel Maddow details some of the issues in the clip embedded above.

Trump tweeted about the case when it first came to light in June:
....Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle.
What we have here is yet another variant of the "little bird" story. Schneiderman obviously disliked Trump -- but getting rid of the guy didn't exactly pull Trump out of the shit, did it?

When this nightmare is finally over, I hope that a much better artist than I creates a public statue of Barbara Underwood.
Yeah, when I saw Rachel's description of Underwood, I wondered why Underwood is not on the Supreme Court.
Seth Hettena (@seth_hettena) has been the most vocal in talking about Cohen's Ukrainian father-in-law's influence, though he's been a bit circumspect due to the paucity of hard evidence - he was also surprised that Cohen flipped (because it's a "family" issue).


“Finding Mr. Manafort guilty was hard for me. I wanted him to be innocent, I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn’t,” Duncan said. “That’s the part of a juror, you have to have due diligence and deliberate and look at the evidence and come up with an informed and intelligent decision, which I did.”

The National Enquirer acts like a nation-wide group of billboards at the grocery store checkout line, where the covers are seen even if they are not bought.

And that reach was amplified by the rw mighty Wurlitzer machine, as various stories got featured on Drudge, covered on Fox, the Daily Caller, Breitbart, and etc. Trump himself touted them to his MAGATs, asking why they didn't get Pulitzer Prizes for the few real stories they helped break (like the John Edwards case).

Their actual influence alone wasn't so much. It was the large scale transmission belt that weaponized them.


Sharon, the NY Times was very brief in describing Underwood as just another competent Dem. Rachel did a really important piece of journalism there.

XI, that is one example of how the fascists have turned the First Amendment (with the rest of the Constitution) into a weapon used to wreck our Democracy.

Donald Trump says if he's impeached the New York stock market will collapse and everyone will get poorer.

Meanwhile in the documents it published yesterday on preparing for a hard Brexit, the British government doesn't estimate the impact a hard Brexit would have on GDP.

Nicholas Stern can help. Former chief economist at the World Bank and at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, author of the British government's Stern review on climate change (2006), and professor at the LSE, he has said that a hard Brexit would cause the British economy to contract to between a third and a half of its present size within 15 years (an annual reduction of between 5% and 7%).

So basically the US population will have to eat grass or die, as punishment for the decision by moronic racist crackers, amounting to 46% of voters, who clutched onto their precious guns as they voted for the casino-owning "You're fired" figure they recognised from the wrestling...

...while the British population will be subjected to an experience comparable to the 14th century Black Death or the 1840s famine in Ireland, as punishment for the decision by fuckwit racists, amounting to 52% of voters, who clutched onto their copies of the Sun newspaper as they voted for Britain to leave the EU, or, as that option is also known, "Wogs Out".
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