As we discover President Trump encouraged Saudi Arabia to go to the brink of war with Qatar for refusing Jared Kushner a $500 million bailout over a failed property investment, we learn too that the Russian lawyer who dished the dirt on Hillary Clinton is not quite what she seemed…
“As long as senior republicans in both houses of Congress can keep up the pretence that each successive story that emerges is somehow not connected to any other and that ‘collusion’ with a foreign power to rig an election is not technically a crime, the likelihood of impeachment remains remote.”
Perhaps she was on a shopping trip?
Mr Trump has firmly and publicly stated, both as candidate and as president, on many occasions that he has no business connections with Russia.
Yet here is Mr Emin Agalerov, 37, pop-singer son of a Moscow property developer with whom Trump had a business connection, interviewed in the Washington Post in April 2016:
“I consider him a friend. We exchange correspondence. We see each other a few times a year.”
This declaration sits alongside the admission by Trump’s middle son, Eric, in 2014 that, according to golf writer James Dodson, “We have all the funding we need out of Russia” to pay for the president’s $100 million golf resort developments.
It seems the Trump boys are keen to sabotage their father’s presidency, if not to see him in jail.
The latest furore among so many to choose from concerns a meeting oldest (but not wisest) son Donald Trump Jr had in June of last year with a Russian lawyer in New York. You’ve probably heard the substance of the story, but there is an interesting timeline attached, that makes it too complicated a story for the British mainstream media to fully explore.
Allow the Pumpkin!
First, know there is a pattern to stories of Trump campaign contacts with Russians. This meeting among many others involving members of the Trump campaign and his family was never registered anywhere, even when matters of security clearance were legally pressing, and has been consistently denied up to the point where it could no longer be concealed.
Following the initial revelations, defence lawyers have been engaged, hasty retrospective legally-required declarations have been made months after the event, and a series of fast-changing statements and explanations have followed, many of them patently contradictory and absurd. Such as, that Trump Jr ‘did not know’ in advance who the Russian lawyer was or what she wanted to talk about.
In which case, why accept the invitation to go to the meeting without either wanting to know more, or – alarm bells ringing – contacting the FBI? In any case, it was made quite clear in emails released by Trump what the meeting was for, that he now admits.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, it’s said, was not a Russian government official. Except that she has represented government ministers in court and is married to one. An unofficial channel, then. Why on earth would she have bothered – and been granted a visa – to fly to New York, just to chat with a junior member of the Trump family for ‘twenty minutes’?
Perhaps she was on a shopping trip?
Well, because of the Magnitsky Law. She wanted a deal whereby, if Trump Sr were elected, he would revoke the Obama administration’s embarrassing law preventing US citizens from adopting Russian babies: part of the regime of sanctions, directly related to the death in prison of human rights lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky – a noted opponent of Putin and an anti-corruption campaigner, who plainly had knowledge of Putin’s extensive network of shady business dealings and had to be silenced.
I’ll repeat the question, then. Why on earth would she have bothered – or been granted a visa – to fly to New York, just to talk to a junior member of the Trump family, if she was not acting on behalf of the Russian government? Well, some reports suggest she was in New York anyway to observe or take part in, an inchoate legal battle involving three Russian oligarchs all accusing one another of owing huge sums of money as a result of a drunken bet in a London club.
Oh, well. It was only a 20-minutes meeting, she was ‘vague and rambling’ (a top government lawyer? Come on, Donny, you can do better than that! Maybe it was jetlag?) and didn’t say anything useful so we made our excuses and left.
We, being Donny Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who were all at the meeting together. What were those others doing there, if Donald didn’t know what the meeting was going to be about. Bodyguards?
And then someone, I know not who, some Congressional committee chair, demanded to see the RSVP in the form of emails sent to Trump by the sleaziest-looking, cheapest and least likely go-between it would be possible to conceive of, one Rob Goldstone: a grimy, overweight British former tabloid newspaper hack turned ‘music promoter and friend’ of Agalerov, a low-grade pop star in Russia whose video Goldstone helped to put together.
It makes Watergate look positively dignified.
This Goldstone, it seems, was selected by the Agalerovs as the US end of the connection, owing to his involvement with Trump’s tacky Miss Universe party in Moscow in 2013, after which Trump tweeted excitedly that he had ‘met all the oligarchs’ (he is really only 11 years old). And in his naive enthusiasm, that could come back to bite the prosecution if this ever gets to court, Goldstone boasted excitedly if a tad unwisely in his emails about Veselnitskaya bringing useful dirt on Hillary Clinton, ‘highly classified’, ‘Russian government’ information, and in HIS naive enthusiasm Donny Jr emailed back that he ‘loved it’.
So the correspondence is there for all the world to see, that Trump campaigners had no scruples whatever about treating with an inimical foreign power to obtain electoral advantage, although up to that point it is unlikely they were aware, as the Obama administration was aware, that the Russians were already poking about in the internet files of the Democratic party; and the only legal evidence that the Russian government was involved is that enthusiastic claim by a fourth-rate British pop music promoter. So sad.
Sadly too, the worst the trio can jointly be accused of is conspiracy to commit computer fraud – encouraging hacking. Rigging elections is not illegal – for Republicans it’s a sacred duty. But Kushner’s personal situation is more serious. He has an official government position. He could be looking at five years in jail for failing to disclose the meeting – one of any number of Russian and other foreig meetings he failed to disclose – on his application for top-level security clearance.
A few hours after the meeting took place, at which nothing at all interesting was imparted to Team Trump, Donald Trump Sr got into one of his childish tweeting spats with Hillary Clinton. “Where are the 33 thousand emails you deleted?” he asked, triumphantly. The interesting thing being that up to that moment, Mr Trump had almost certainly not known either that Mrs Clinton had deleted any emails, or that there were 33 thousand of them.
The next thing I suppose was significant was that, eleven days later, Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and appointed Paul Manafort in his place.
Manafort, according to the New York Times, had been under scrutiny by the FBI since 2014 over his highly questionable dealings with the deposed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovitch, a profoundly corrupt Putin crony who fled the republic at the height of what had started as one of those peaceful ‘velvet revolutions’ over his backtracking on a deal with the EU and is now holed up in Moscow.
Mr Manafort was said to have featured more than once on the long list of names of directors of obscure offshore shell companies set up through the secretive law firm, Mossack-Fonseca: the leaked, so-called Panama Papers. Tentative connections were being drawn between the $17.9 million in ‘consultancy’ fees he is said to have received from ‘a Ukrainian political party’ and the $37 billion Mr Yanukovitch is said to have looted from state coffers before he fled in a convoy of cars organised for him by the Russians, which had to be parked somewhere. There seems to have been a bit more to Mr Manafort’s services than just PR ‘election advice’, and any number of federal statutes might be invoked.
Following the appointment of Manafort, Mr Trump noticeably reversed his campaigning rhetoric on the subject of Russian military interference in Eastern Ukraine; replacing without notice passages in a speech he had been given to spout by the Republican campaign organizers supporting US arms sales to the government in Kiev. They were now off the agenda.
Then, two weeks after the meeting an elderly party ‘fixer’, Peter Smith, started trying to recruit some figures on the so-called ‘alt-right’, computer experts – one of whom is said to be a Russian speaker – to mount a search for the missing Clinton emails. The aim was to trace the hackers connected with Russian military intelligence, including the infamous ‘Guccifer 2’, who were believed to have stolen them.
Interviewed for the Wall Street Journal shortly before his death – from natural causes – Smith overnamed his connections with the Trump campaign’s attempts to find the supposedly incriminating emails. Among them were General Mike Flynn, to whom he was to report on progress; former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and campaign chairman Sam Clovis, the Journal reported.
Later naming his Transition Team, Trump would make Flynn his National Security Advisor, despite numerous red-flag warnings that Flynn was under investigation for possible breaches of the Foreign Powers Act and susceptible to Russian blackmail; Bannon his Chief Strategy Advisor, Conway his frankly disastrous Communications Director and Clovis Secretary for Agriculture, in which position Fat Sam – formerly a right-wing radio ‘shock-jock’ – lobbies enthusiastically for the agrichemical poisons industry.
Manafort was fired in August after only two months when his Ukrainian connections became public knowledge and has since, as they say, been ‘helping with enquiries’ at FBI headquarters.
But will he go?
As the Russiagate revelations have burst, one by one, in almost nightly exposés in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – all the best Fake News media – picked up and amplified by TV news channels like ABC, CNN and NBC, virtually every senior member of the Trump administration and his nepotistic family appointees, as well as Donald Jr, has ‘lawyered up’, in the telling phrase. Why, are they expecting something of a legal nature to eventuate? Something they can’t admit to?
There is clearly more to come out. These and many other matters are under investigation by the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller 111. As long as senior Republicans in both houses of Congress can keep up the pretence that each successive story that emerges is somehow not connected to any other and that ‘collusion’ with a foreign power to rig an election is not technically a crime, or that somehow Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the real conspirators, the likelihood of impeachment remains remote, despite the damage this is doing to their re-election prospects. They still imagine it is containable.
Their complacency is to ignore the depth and complexity of the Russian attack. While not ignoring that the Russians have been attempting to undermine Western democratic institutions in the same way for decades, what’s new here is that they appear to have found willing partners, suppliers and co-conspirators in the USA. What effect did that have on the election result? (It’s too late to declare it null and void, so given the President’s powers of pardon and his ability to fire the Special Prosecutor should he wish to take that risk, nothing more can be done.)
It’s not only a question of Hillary’s emails – who hacked them, and what did they do with the information – which we know, they passed it on to WikiLeaks to dump on the open market. The emails were a by-product of attempts to obtain information advantageous to the Trump campaign through hacking attacks by Soviet military intelligence, the GRU’s special cyber unit. But there were also phishing attacks on the voting registration technology and voter rolls, designed to find weak links to disrupt the election itself; and to have strategies in place for the 2018 mid-terms.
Indeed, obtaining the most detailed personal records available of all 205 million voters registered in the USA seems to have been, and continues to be, a central policy ambition – the Holy Grail – of the Republican party, which has become notorious for its attempts to gerrymander constituencies by manipulating or suppressing voter rolls: striking off Democrat supporters, mainly black and Latino voters, disqualifying them by such basic tactics as not counting people having similar names ‘in case’ they are duplicates.
Such confidential data would also be commercially valuable, immensely so, and play a key part in any possible action against the Muslim minority, self-identified through registration forms which demand to know the religious affiliations of voters. A database of all the Mulsims in America could quickly be compiled, were 44 States’ governors not holding out against demands from the White House to release the supposedly confidential lists.
So far, admittedly, it has not been shown that Trump Sr was connected directly with the antics of his campaign managers and members of his own family. He has denied knowing about the Veselnitskaya meeting, although he was in the building at the time; while Donald Jr is sticking to his story that nothing came of it so he didn’t tell anyone about it. Why not? “Hey, Dad, I just met with a hot Russian lawyer in the office down the hall from yours in Trump Tower, I gave her a nine, you’d have liked her!”?
Why wouldn’t he have said something like that, a person obviously of such low-grade intellect?
The bigger picture
It should perhaps therefore be mentioned that the ‘Russia thing’ is far from the only game in town. Trump is also facing dozens of private law suits, some relating to the notorious Trump University scandal, some to his property businesses and others to his forcing Twitter to take down litigants’ accounts because of their tweeting criticisms of him.
The FBI, the CIA, the Special Prosecutor and at least two Senate committees, plus two specialist financial Grand Juries in the states of East Virginia and New York are involved in investigating his past and current business dealings, under suspicion of active co-operation with international money-laundering operations, possible sanctions-busting and connections to organized crime.
Then there are:
- possible breaches of the Foreign Emoluments Act in that he continues to receive profits from his ownership of overseas hotels and golf resort businesses, from which he has refused to divest himself or where his family remains in charge;
- his reported abuses of charity tax exemptions through the use of Trump Foundation money for his own purposes;
- attempts to get hold of his tax records, which uniquely among senior political appointments he is hanging on to for grim death;
- and the matter of whether or not he attempted to pervert the course of justice.
This last in connection with accusations that he tried to pressure the heads of the intelligence agencies – culminating in the firing of FBI director James Comey, since when terrified security agency directors Dan Coats and Admiral Mike Rogers have refused even under oath to answer questions about whether or not he also leaned on them – to drop their investigations into the aforementioned matters, but also:
- General Flynn’s belatedly declared foreign agenting activities on behalf of Russia and Turkey;
- Jared Kushner’s financial dealings with Russian and Chinese banks (and Qatar, see below);
- Kushner’s and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ undeclared meetings with Russian spymaster, Ambassador Kysliak
…and so on it goes.
There is so clearly something Trump has been directing his staff and family to say nothing about, or to perjure themselves; something he is willing to commit lesser offences to avoid coming out; something really serious that concerns him alone.
At the end of the day, is he prepared to throw all of these oddballs under the bus to protect his secrets, someone – even the son-in-law on whom he dotes almost as much as on his daughter, Ivanka?
As court reporters used to say, the case continues.
“…as your premiums continue to rise inexorably in all sectors from domestic… to pet insurance, you’ll know why”
Maybe it’s time to call in their loans?
The US Department of Justice and the Federal Housing Agency are doing very nicely thank you out of levying staggering fines on foreign banks for various misdemeanours committed on or before 2007/8 when the global banking crisis hit.
But it’s not the banks that ultimately pay for their mistakes. You and I are considerably out of pocket as a result, and liable to go on being so, while the unravelling Tory government continues to protest with increasing lack of sincerity that continuing austerity is all the fault of Labour’s ‘mismanagement’ of the economy – that Labour hasn’t been responsible for since before May 2010. It’s a stock meme, but the voting public falls for it every time.
Questions do, however, remain to be asked about Gordon Brown and Mervyn King’s strategy of bailing out the banks without placing too many restrictions on their future conduct, other than obliging them to sit on a bit more of our money and not gamble it away too riskily. And, indeed, those restrictions, based on the so-called ‘stress tests’, came not from Threadneedle Street but from the EU, to loud objections from the striped shirts and braces community.
The Pumpkin is wondering, for instance, if the Government and the Bank of England knew how much liability for the crash was going to be borne by Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS, when the British taxpayer was being forced to stump up £45 billion to buy its 71% stake in the failing bank, money it has never recovered?
The DoJ has just fined RBS $5.5 billion (£4.25bn) for its role in bundling-up a pile of sub-prime residential mortgages (RMBS), dishonestly peddled mainly to aspirant low-income African-Americans in the US’s rustbelt cities, many of whom have since been repossessed by billionaire property speculators like the Kushners, and selling them on to the absurdly-named Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae building societies, giant entities of social engineering that came unglued as a result.
RBS remains a loss-maker, having failed to declare a profit in any of the past ten years. But the good news is, it expects to have to pay a further eyewatering penalty. According to The Guardian:
The Edinburgh-based bank is facing another punishment from the US Department of Justice for the same activities, which could cost a further £9bn, and admitted it had not yet engaged in talks about a settlement in this matter.
Since its bailout in 2008, RBS has incurred fines and legal costs of £15bn ($19.9bn). (13 July)
Let’s remember, it’s not their money, it’s yours and mine. And thanks to the American Empire overlords, we’re spending it twice over. Admittedly, some of the debt has already been laid off to insurance companies, so as your premiums continue to rise inexorably in all sectors from domestic to motor to pet insurance, you’ll know why.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank, of whom more elsewhere, and Credit Suisse have also been hit with over $12 billion in settlements, and the US DoJ is still pursuing Barclays – who have so far avoided speaking to them.
(As we know, four top Barclays executives are languishing on bail pending trial in the UK, accused of bribing Qatar with £300 million to guarantee the bank $billions, ramping the share price so as to avoid having to go cap-in-hand to ask for a Bank of England bailout that would have involved close scrutiny of their books. You can’t win!)
Anyway, it’s one way to bring down the USA’s $65 trillion domestic debt burden, I suppose, by soaking foreign taxpayers. You and me, in other words.
Deutsche Bank and RBS are also listed among the 20 banks Trump son-in-law and all-purpose security risk Jared Kushner is said to owe $1 billion to.
Maybe it’s time to call in their loans?
Maybe before he joins his dad in jail?
“Not long after Trump promised to transfer power from Washington to the American people, a wave of spending in pursuit of influence was unleashed. In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials. Altria, the company behind Marlboro, hired 17 lobbying firms. Reynolds, makers of the Camel brand, hired 13, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/13/tobacco-industry-trump-administration-ties
Welcome to the future
See how Trump was seen coming ten miles off by the desperate shits of the corporate cesspit? See how goddam WEAK they knew he was, how pig-ignorant, how biddable – how corrupt?
Far from ‘draining the swamp’ his administration is packed to the rafters with creeps from Wall Street, scum-rejects from the oil and coal industries, from tobacco and agrichem, from the NRA and with every corrupt and phoney, hypocritical alt-Christian creationist and knowledge-hating misogynist pork-barrel politician who has ever stuck their slavering tongue up his fat, hairy presidential back-passage to massage his presidential haemorrhoids.
Thanks to Trump’s incoherent campaign rhetoric, in which he would promise absolutely anything his antediluvian brain made from congealed greed could think up to jerk-off the dumbfucks, the white trash and the AR-15 toting soccer-moms, to make them love him, he promised to just tear up every human value, every environmental and consumer protection, every civilizational advance he could convince them was stealing their jobs in order to drag them back to the golden age of Betty Crocker Cake Mix and nigger-lynching.
Giving a clear signal to every well-greased corporate shill, PR money-breather, insane polluter, chemical child-killer and Enlightenment denialist to crawl out from under their Roger Stones and capture the White House, leaving their slime trails and spatterings of bloody diarrhoeia, their maggots all over the corpse of US democracy, glumly defended by Skelly-tanned Conway and her roly-poly puppybitch spokesmouth, ‘Look at me, I’m so Christian’ Fuckabee Sanders.
Welcome to the future. What there might be left of it.
(Actually I keep thinking maybe I could take up smoking again, it’s been 37 years. Whaddaya think?)
The Son-in-Law also Sets
The Independent learns that Trump’s about-face on Qatar following his Middle East trip last month may have a more personal dimension than just a desire to support Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their impossible demands on the unpopular Emirate.
As we reported a while ago, Trump began with a meeting with Qatar’s new young Emir, hailing him as an ally and welcoming the prospect of selling him more beautiful military equipment’; to which end, Mad Dog was sent to negotiate $11 billion-worth of stuff.
He hadn’t been back on the golf course more than two weeks, however, when the Orange Glow was excoriating the oil-glutted mini-state as a ‘major funder of terrorism’ and demanding they shut down the Al Jazeera fake news network and stop talking to Iran.
Under the urging of the US, the GCC (Arab nations) have imposed a blockade on Qatar and are trying to strangle the country with massive sanctions and military threats. The situation remains tense and could very well result in war. The King of Saudi Arabia recently withdrew his favour from his 57-year-old nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, naming instead his dissolute warmongering son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as his successor.
It now appears that Mr Trump’s thinking is being unsubtly conditioned by his own crown prince, the Zionist Jared Kushner, reportedly a ‘friend’ of Prince Salman, in the eyes of many international bodies a war criminal as he presides over the genocidal Saudi policy in the Yemen.
And Kushner seems to have found sufficient influence through his ‘friends’ in Saudi Arabia to take revenge on his other ‘friend’, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamed al Thani.
Hamed is reported to have withdrawn an offer to lend Kushner $500 million to prop up his failing investment in 666, Fifth Avenue – the building the Chinese also almost lent him money on, including a $400 million ‘sweetener’, before withdrawing their offer – when Kushner was unable to raise the rest of the dough.
Mr Trump, and his scumsucker, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth plastic-boy Kushner, the little hypocrite were – it seems, read the story in (for instance) The Independent – happy to let Arab states go to war in an already volatile region, risking a major regional conflict and possibly hundreds of thousands more lives, just out of sheer vindictiveness.
The Pumpkin has only recently learned that Kushner Sr ended up in jail, not because of some pardonable commercial fraud. Oh no. Jared’s beloved dad was being prosecuted for fraud, and his brother-in-law had been subpoena’d to give evidence. Kushner Sr paid a prostitute to compromise him, and then sent the video to his own sister. He’s doing five years for perverting the course of justice, just what Trump Sr will eventually go down for.
Except he won’t, the creepy Mike Pence will pardon him. He’s such a fucking white Christian too.
Don’t just lock this entire family of overentitled criminal fuckers and mental retards up, America. Hang them.
Oh God. Oh God. There’s more…
Okay, so Natalya Vesilnitskaya…
Not what she says she is. Not what Donald Jr thought she was. Not what The Pumpkin joked she is.
Under investigation also now is surely Republican representative Dana Rohrbacher, who seems to have arranged for the not unattractively dimpled Kremlin attorney to get into the USA without the appropriate clearance to represent a Russian company in a $280 million money-laundering case….
THE Congressman Rohrbacher about whom it was ‘joked’ at a meeting of Republican senators in 2016 that he was in the pay of the Kremlin… along with Mr Trump. Wikipedia reports:
In terms of his positions, Rohrbacher voted to repeal Obamacare, denies global warming, is a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, and favors the legalization of marijuana. In foreign policy, he supported withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, called on Trump to punish Turkish President Erdoğan on embassy violence, sided with Russia in the Russia–Georgia war, supported the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and supports cooperating with Russia in Syria.
In other words, a fucked-up, Russia-backed stoner.
It appears that the Department of Justice (Attorney General, Trump appointee and known liar about his Russian meetings Jefferson ‘Jeff’ Beauregard Sessions 111) let the defendants off in May with a paltry $6 million fine.
Foreign Policy magazine reported:
“Democratic congressmen on the House Judiciary Committee want to know why Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly settled a money laundering case in May involving the same Russian attorney who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the presidential election to offer “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“The civil forfeiture case was filed in 2013 by Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — who was fired by Trump in March. The case alleged that 11 companies were involved in a tax fraud in Russia and then laundered a portion of the $230 million they got into Manhattan real estate.”
She’s obviously pretty good at her job, whatever it is. And as of 21 July two US naturalized Russians – a former military intelligence officer now in trouble over his immigration status and a known money-launderer who created 2,000 shell companies for oligarchs, worth $1.4 billion, have been identified as also present at that 9 June meeting, bringing the total to eight.
Just to discuss adoption! Or, indeed, nothing!
Honestly, guys, it’s impossible to keep up with this. Every day brings new dots to be joined in a complex web of money laundering, political influence peddling and deep corruption in the Trump White House, all of it ultimately deriving from the crassly incompetent, self-enriching activities of one criminal family.
When will this nightmare end?