Friday, October 11, 2019

The Ukraine scandal IS the Russia scandal

If you're looking for Marie Yavonivich's opening statement, here it is. Absolutely professional; absolutely convincing. Here is the NYT account. She was framed, pure and simple. The Trumpers think that Big Smear tactics will always work. That presumption seems shaky now.

Also note that Gordon Sondland has decided to appear before Congress, contrary to White House instructions. I wonder: Will he continue to play Trump's game, or will he go blabby? He's a hotelier, not a wiseguy -- and he's already lost a cool million to Trump's crooked inauguration committee. If I were Sondland, I'd be muttering to myself: "You know, I really don't need this shit."

Side note: In recent days, we've learned that Trump doesn't pay the bills he incurs when he holds his Nuremberg rallies. Yet his campaign is swimming in cash. So why won't Trump pay up? Where does the loot go? Is it swirling down the same drain that swallowed up Sondland's million bucks?

Who pays Rudy? (Part II) I'd like to draw your attention to an extraordinary situation that deserves more attention.

As you know, Rudy works for free as Trump's lawyer. Yet he has been flying all over the world on Trump's behalf. Who pays the bills? I offered a couple of guesses in my previous post.

Ostensibly, Rudy represents Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, though current information makes the relationship seem less like lawyer-and-clients and more like co-conspirators-doing-dirty-deeds-in-the-dark. Ken Vogel says that Fruman and Parnas have paid Rudy "hundreds of thousands."

Fruman and Parnas have also made large campaign donations -- to Trump and others -- even though they (Fruman and Parnas) owe lots of money. They have stiffed creditors and they've been evicted from several fancy homes -- yet they still live a glitzy lifestyle. It is said that they have Mar-A-Lago memberships. I'm always fascinated by people who contrive to live like kings despite a lack of visible income.

Blogger Susan Simpson wrote these words well before the dynamic duo were arrested.
Since 2016, Parnas and Fruman have gotten millions in funding from an unknown source, which they have used to donate millions of dollars to GOP campaigns and PACs. This, in turn, has given them a bit of access to some elected officials.
The campaign donations came from an unnamed Russian.
Beginning in or around July 2018, PARNAS, FRUMAN, CORREIA, and KUKUSHKIN made plans to form a recreational marijuana business (the “Business Venture”) that would be funded by Foreign National-1, a Russian national, and required gaining access to retail marijuana licenses in particular states, including Nevada (the “Business Venture”).  To further the Business Venture, PARNAS, FRUMAN, CORREIA, and KUKUSHKIN planned to use Foreign National-1 as a source of funding for donations and contributions to state and federal candidates and politicians in Nevada, New York, and other states to facilitate acquisitions of retail marijuana licenses.
On or about November 4, 2018, PARNAS asked KUKUSHKIN to arrange for additional funding from Foreign National-1 to make an additional donation to Candidate-1, to which KUKUSHKIN responded that the $1 million Foreign National-1 had already provided to GEP was “in order to cover all the donations whatsoever.”  Further communications confirm the defendants’ use of foreign funds – and, in particular, funds from Foreign National-1 – to make the donations described above.
Candidate 1 is Pete Sessions. But Sessions was not simply involved in that pot deal.
Months before their earliest known work with Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman also lobbied at least one congressman — former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican — to call for the dismissal of the United States’ ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
So this Foreign National -- known to be Russian, though we don't yet have a name -- is funding the scheme to get rid of Yovanovich and take control of a lucrative liquid natural gas contract in Ukraine.

Now, we don't yet know the full story. But so far, I've yet to see any evidence that Parnas and Fruman have a legitimate business. Near as I can tell, they don't repair shoes and they don't make widgets. Their firm -- the delightfully-named Fraud Guarantee -- shows every sign of being...well, a fraud.

Incidentally, you really ought to read Jim White's investigation of the other Fraud Guarantee partner, David Correia. Another Rudy client. Check out the comments: They exemplify what can happen when a "group mind" does detective work.

As things stand, I don't see a source of income -- other than Foreign National 1.

If Parnas and Fruman are paying Giuliani's bills, is it not likely that the money came from this unnamed Russian? In other words, is it not true that Russian money is paying for Trump's legal defense?

On the other hand, if Giuliani's money is coming from Dmitry Firtash -- a crooked Ukrainian lawyer -- well. That's hardly an improvement, is it?

Unrelated questions: Morally and legally, how does Erdogan's invasion of Syria differ from Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait?

In 2016, quite a few blinkered Trumpists considered him the anti-war candidate. How do these peaceniks justify the troop buildup in Saudi Arabia?

Exactly what makes Saudi Arabia preferable to Iran? I oppose all forms of theocracy and thus am hardly a fan of Iran's government, but that country is at least partly democratic. Saudi Arabia cannot make that claim. Iranians did not fly any jets into American skyscrapers on September 11, 2001.
It is inevitable that Ukraine would collide with Russia. Those countries are intertwined with each other.

Why is Saudi Arabia better than Iran? Well Saudi Arabia never had a revolution where they chanted "Death to America", and they explicitly hate Israel. AFAIK, that's the difference. Iran's regime is built on hating America and Israel, while Saudi Arabia explicitly doesn't.

Don't get me wrong. The partnership with the Saudis is disgusting. But to me, all foreign policy is realpolitik, so it doesn't bother me as much as it does others. Sometimes you gotta partner with people you normally would oppose.
Saudi nationals may have flown the planes into the Twin Towers but the operation was conceived, planned and executed by a group headed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. There is no independent support for KSM’s claim that he acted at Osama’s direction and under his supervision. On the contrary, we know for sure that the expertise and the financing for 9/11 came from KSM’s own group - a biological family of Baluchs. This group carried out the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and every other act for which al Qaeda was later given fame. The KSM group included the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings - Abdul Rahman Yasin, who came from, and later vanished in Iraq, as well as Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of that bombing, who came to the U.S. from Iraq on an Iraqi passport and was known as “Rashid the Iraqi.” This group had planned the bombing of U.S. airliners over the Pacific in 1995. The core members are non-Arabs. They were not creatures of OBL nor of his no-account mujahideen army.
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