Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Is Nunes nuts?

Devin Nunes is suing McClatchy and the Sacramento Bee over a story that contains no factual errors -- in fact, he does not even claim that the story is erroneous.

This is the should-be-famous story of a yacht owned by the Alpha Omega winery, a business in Nunes' district, in which he has invested heavily. In 2016, a female employee of the winery, Alene Anase, claimed in a lawsuit that she was asked to work on the yacht during a party for VIPs -- a party which included cocaine and prostitutes, some of whom clearly appeared to be underaged. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

I knew all about this party long before the Sacramento Bee published. In fact, I unsuccessfully tried to contact Ms. Anase. Her lawsuit said only that the party (held in San Francisco Bay) catered to "VIPs." The Sacramento Bee story never claimed that Nunes was present, merely that he had invested a large (for him) amount of money in a company that had (according to Ms. Anase) had hosted a disturbing event.

Again: Nothing in that story was inaccurate. The Bee had merely summarized a lawsuit -- a public document. Yet Nunes calls this report "fake news" and demands that it be withdrawn from the internet.

I had written about this matter well before the Bee published. My post did not mention Nunes, Anase, or the Alpha Omega winery.

However, I did note the disturbing parallels to certain other stories that had come to my attention. One such story involved Nastya Rybka (born Anastasia Vashukevich), the escort linked to Oleg Deripaska; she claimed to have audio evidence of Russian meddling in the US election. Since the publication of my post, her tale took a disturbing turn, which most of you know: The Russians got hold of her. She was forced to retract her claims, although no-one with any sense believes her retraction to be sincere.

I might as well reprint what I wrote in 2018:
First and foremost: Allow me to make an obvious and discomforting observation that everyone else has avoided. Rybka looks young. She could pass for underaged now. It is possible that, not long ago, she could have successfully claimed to be fifteen, fourteen -- hell, maybe as young as twelve -- even though she was actually older.

By her own admission, she was not just an escort: She was bribery-bait. It's easy to visualize a situation in which she seduces a VIP who, on the following morning, gets the bad news: "You know that girl you were with last night? She may have told you that she was nineteen, but she's really fourteen. We have video."

"Rybka" is a nom-de-l'amour; the word means "little fish." The choice of this pseudonym may offer a clue. If you've read your Tacitus, you may recall that the Emperor Tiberius owned a pleasure palace, where he kept a beautiful swimming pool. This pool came stocked with "little fishes" -- children required to service the emperor and his guests.

So I think Rybka's job was to play younger than she really was. She would seem persuasively underaged when it came time to strike fear into a politician's heart.

The elements outlined in the above video -- Russians, gangsters, yachts, underaged prostitutes, kompromat -- have all appeared in previous Cannonfire stories. You will recall this bit, quoted from a book called Deep Capture:
One of Bayrock’s co-founders was Tevfik Arif. In 2011, Arif was arrested in Turkey after Turkish commandos raided a party that Arif was holding on a yacht that had once belonged to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founding president. Arif, a native of Kazakhstan, was arrested along with a small harem of prostitutes and some unnamed government officials from Central Asia. (It is unclear why the commandos raided the yacht; the media has reported that Arif was charged only with illegally hiring prostitutes, a crime that does not usually result in commando raids).
Arif and Trump are connected. This fact has been established beyond rational debate.

To the above quotation, I added these words:
As we've seen below, the Israeli press reported that the prostitutes were underaged girls from Russia, who were being used to acquire blackmail on VIPs; they were working for Arif. This ties in with what we know about Mogilevich, who is said to run a large-scale prostitution ring, and who obtains kompromat on important people around the world.

It also inevitably reminds us of Trump's old pal Jeffrey Epstein, who also surrounded himself with underaged Russian girls. According to Virginia Roberts, these girls were also used to acquire kompromat on VIPs.

Since the source of Epstein's money remains mysterious, it is fair to speculate as to whether he has had financial dealings with Mogilevich's criminal empire. For all of his personal failings, Epstein is a brilliant man -- and the same can be said of Mogilevich. The two men would seem a natural fit for each other.
Now let's explore some very dangerous territory...
Before proceeding, let me note that Arif has also tried -- successfully -- to intimidate all of the press organs which reported on his connection to the "party boat" scandal. Note, for example, this 2010 New York Daily News story which bears the headline "Donald Trump pal Tevfik Arif busted in Turkey for allegedly running hooker ring aboard yacht." The online version of that article was later amended to include this paragraph:
In April 2012, Tevfik Arif was acquitted by a Turkish court of all charges in connection with the incident reported here. The court also found that none of the women on the yacht was under the age of 18. –Updated October 19, 2012.
Does the Turkish court system deserves our unwavering faith? I leave that decision to the reader.

For present purposes, the important point is that similar "He was acquitted!" notices have been added to most, perhaps all, of the news articles about this story which were originally published in 2010 and 2011. Arif, or his lawyers, must have been incredibly persuasive; I can't think of anyone else who has received this kind of treatment. (For example, you can look up old NYT stories about the Sam Shepherd murder case without encountering an added "editor's note" informing you that his conviction was eventually overturned.)

Basically, Nunes is imitating Arif. The congressman wants to squelch an accurate news story which makes him look bad. People linked to Trump are now protected: Anyone who publishes disturbing news stories about Team Trump must fear nuisance suits and other forms of retribution. Meanwhile, the National Enquirer is free to publish complete bunk about the Clintons.

Let's return to my earlier post:
There is a certain extremely pro-Trump congressman whose disruptive tactics have made him despised by all Democrats. I won't mention his name here, but you should be able to guess. (Please: Let's have discretion in the comments.)

This congressman has made a hefty (for him) personal investment in a certain bibulous business located in his home state. For a brief period, some reporters looked into the possibility that this business had Russian ties -- an investigative avenue which turned out to be a blind alley.

However: A female employee of said bibulous business brought suit when she was asked to work a party on a large white yacht belonging to the business owner, a successful lawyer. What bothered this employee was the presence of prostitutes brought in to service the "VIPs" on board that yacht on that night.

The party occurred in San Francisco Bay. The employee (who is attractive) spent that night in fear that she might be taken for one of the prostitutes. (It wasn't as if she could simply walk off.)

She also said that some of the prostitutes clearly appeared to be underaged. My memory may be playing tricks here, but I recall that she said that these girls were of Eastern European origin.

I do not know how the lawsuit was adjudicated. The employee moved on to another job.

I looked (a bit) into the yacht. It's a huge damned boat. Too huge, I should think, to be owned by a lawyer, even a very successful lawyer. To put things into perspective, it's substantially larger than the ship featured in the video embedded above -- a ship which Russian magnate Oleg Deripaska considered his home away from home.

(The yacht that I'm talking about has nothing to do with the yacht owned by Attaturk, which is a much older vessel called the MV Savarona. After the prostitution scandal, that ship is now back in the hands of the Turkish government, and has served the needs of Prime Minister Erdogan.)

Although the party took place in the San Francisco area, the yacht is often found in the Mediterranean.

Was the much-despised congressman aboard that yacht? Well, he had invested heavily in the afore-mentioned bibulous business, so his presence at the party as a "VIP" certainly seems possible. The theory that this congress-critter opened himself up to kompromat would explain a lot.

Was our "little fish" present on that vessel? Was she previously a visitor to the Savarona? If not, does she know any of the girls who worked those...events?
The Sacramento Bee did not engage in speculation. I did. I feel that a blogger (as opposed to a reporter) should engage in a certain degree of speculation as long as it comes clearly indicated as such.

Moreover, the Bee did not attempt to look into the history of that yacht. As near as I can tell, I am the only writer who has done so, although I received a message from a reader who thought that I got it wrong:
Um, the yacht in question is actually a 57' Carver Voyager -- probably in the Carver 560 series. I think you may have been confused by the owners of said yacht *also* occasionally hosting a Mediterranean 'super-yacht' cruise aboard a much larger vessel. These latter cruises are in conjunction with a bibulous company they own in Spain.

I've not been able to identify who the party was for. The yacht's owners regularly make its use available as a prize for charity auctions. (Wonder if that will continue under the new tax laws?) The event to which the auction's winners allegedly brought prostitutes almost certainly had nothing to do with the bibulous company itself, let alone their Congressional investor....
So we may be talking about two separate yachts. Or perhaps not; I don't know the source of the claim that Alpha Omega yacht is a Carver 560. That model seems rather small to host the kind of party described by Alene Anase. I could be wrong.

Nevertheless, this information indicates that Nunes has invested his money in a rather remarkable enterprise.


Alessandro Machi said...

This story is a reason for a Me Too Movement, no? For Decades Older rich men have used younger, perhaps even under aged women as some sort of trophy, an allegedly well deserved reward they somehow felt they had earned.

If only, If only the men had enough honor to pay so well that the young women could literally buy their own yacht and not ever again be dependent on the Men who stile their young lives. Transfer of assets wouldn't make it right, but would certainly better than what has been transpiring.

Paul Gottlieb said...

Nunes may or may not being a nut but the blizzard of law suits that he has launched have a clear purpose, to force his targets to spend a lot of money and time defending them. Even if he loses all of his suits, his targets will have been forced to spend a lot of money. He is trying to bleed them. The real question for any ambitious journalist must be: Who is bankrolling Devin Nunes. No sane attorney would work on a contingency basis when the chance of a payoff is so remote. Some deep-pocketed person our entity is backing Nunes in his attempt to make the media bleed. It's the job of the journalists to find out who and to drag that information into the light of day

Mr Mike said...

#yachtscocaineprostitutes@DevinNunes is a thing on Twitter.

If Nunes had friends they'd tell him to stop digging as discovery is going to expose the sordid. Seems fellow republicans content to sit back and watch Devin self destruct.