Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Testimony. Plus: Rudy Giuliani, Charles Gucciardo, Michael Cohen and a fascinating scam

Things have been hectic here, and I didn't watch much of today's testimony by Vindmann and Williams. But I got the gist, thanks to my favorite Twitter-ers and other sources.

I can say this much: The Republicans have had months to explain just what it was that Hunter Biden did that was so damned corrupt. Did he do anything wrong? If so, what? At this point, if you can't offer specifics, STFU.

Hunter was a lawyer with Boies Schiller Flexner, a very fancy-schmancy law firm. (They represented the Gore campaign during the 2000 recount.) Seems to me that, even if Hunter Biden's last name were not famous, he was a very reasonable hire for a big energy concern looking to recover its reputation and expand into other countries. Was his fee unreasonable? I'd like to hear that question answered by someone well-versed in the ways of fancy-schmancy lawyers. He certainly earned less than Giuliani did.

The person who had ruined Burisma's reputation was the pro-Putin former boss-man Mykola Zlochevsky, who physically resembles the Kingpin in Marvel Comics. When our media refers to Burisma as corrupt, they're referring to Zlovechsky, who had to flee Ukraine and now lives in Monaco.

Here is the key bit of news that Fox will never report: Zlochevsky was ousted by the 2014 revolution in Ukraine. He was gone before Burisma hired Boies Schiller Flexner. That firm was hired to help Burisma regain their international standing.

Near as I can tell, Biden did nothing -- absolutely nothing -- unethical.

Wanna prove me wrong? Offer evidence -- and that means evidence, not rhetoric or shop-worn phrases. I'm willing to admit error if you give me a good reason. So far, I've heard nada.

I trust that most of you already know that Joe Biden -- along with the entire international community -- had asked for the resignation of the prosecutor who refused to look into Burisma. The Republicans keep stating or implying that this prosecutor was opposed because he had been effective, when in fact he was opposed because he was part of the problem. Once again, the Republicans have stood truth on its head.

Speaking of upside-down truths: In his closing statement, Nunes stated that it was the Democrats who somehow rigged the 2016 election!

They never stop. They just never stop. 

No matter how often the "Crowdstrike" conspiracy theory is debunked, these assholes win over the hearts and minds of millions through sheer repetition.

Not all conspiracy theories are wrong. For example, I know of one interesting theory which says that a certain congressman is being blackmailed because he was photographed with an underaged hooker on a certain yacht used by a certain business in which this congressman had invested. Can I prove this "love boat" storyline in the same rigorous way a geometer proves a theorem? No. But if required, I could make a more plausible and logical argument for that conspiracy theory than anyone has ever provided for the "Crowdstrike" conspiracy theory.

Elsewhere....

Giuliani. I've been giving some further thought to this. It now appears that the "Charles" referenced in the infamous "butt-dial" conversation was Charles Gucciardo of Long Island. The more I mull over the logistics of this alleged "accidental" transmission of a private Giuliani conversation, the more convinced I've become that this here accident warn't no accident.

I suspect (but cannot prove) that someone has been listening in on Rudy. This same someone may have put the message out as a way telling Rudy: "We're keeping tabs on you. We know how to have all kinds of fun with phones."

In one (allegedly) butt-dialed conversation, Rudy asks for a very hefty sum of money. Perhaps our "someone" wants to us to ask whether Rudy is paying taxes on these funds, presuming that he is the recipient.

We still have no indication as to why Gucciardo paid Giuliani $500,000. However, it seems increasingly clear that this whole operation is really about an effort to commandeer Ukraine's natural gas. The oligarch behind it all is Dmitry Firtash, who originally made his billions selling Russian gas in Ukraine with an obscene markup, and who no doubt would like to turn on the money-spigot again.

Thus, it is not out of line to ask if Gucciardo acted as a Firtash go-between.

Has Gucciado's law firm ever represented Firtash's interests in the United States? I don't know.

Gucciardo is a personal injury lawyer. Please understand that I am NOT alleging or implying that he has ever done anything criminal or unethical. But it is interesting to note that personal injury lawyers have been involved with a certain type of very lucrative scam, as described here.

In the past, one lawyer who profited from this scam was none other than Donald Trump's former bagman, Michael Cohen.
A Rolling Stone investigation found that Cohen represented numerous clients who were involved in deliberate, planned car crashes as part of an attempt to cheat insurance companies. Furthermore, investigations by insurers showed that several of Cohen’s clients were affiliated with insurance fraud rings that repeatedly staged “accidents.” And at least one person Cohen represented was indicted on criminal charges of insurance fraud while the lawsuit he had filed on her behalf was pending. Cohen also did legal work for a medical clinic whose principal was a doctor later convicted of insurance fraud for filing phony medical claims on purported “accident” victims. Taken together, a picture emerges that the personal attorney to the president of the United States was connected to a shadowy underworld of New York insurance fraud, a pervasive problem dominated by Russian organized crime that was costing the state’s drivers an estimated $1 billion a year.
For more on the Russian angle, see this 2003 story, originally published in Fortune.
Investigators have also found evidence of other serious crimes allegedly committed by members of the ring, including money laundering and extortion. Many of those indicted are Russian emigres, and some of the illicit funds have been tracked to large corporations in Russia. Prosecutors refer to the investigation as the "Boris" case--an acronym for Big Organized Russian Insurance Scam.
In those days, the Russian scammers used three different law firms: Sanders & Grossman, Israel & Israel, and Baker & Barshay. Obviously, other lawyers had to handle the business after 2003. Michael Cohen would appear to one such lawyer; I doubt that he was the only one.

You may find this bit rather amusing:
Fella has observed some of the Russians meeting with members of the Italian Mob. "The Russians are enthralled by the Godfather movies," he says. "They emulate that behavior with the kissing, the hugging, the sit-downs. But when it comes to white-collar crime, they are much smarter than the Italians."


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