Just a brief note from your old Uncle: I am now able to do this much, in short bursts and in very large print! And, by God, there’s a lot to do…. My eye specialist is hopeful of further recovery, although I have to say, everything looks rather odd still, there are no straight lines, it’s always foggy, I can’t stop crying and I require a further operation in January.
Quote of the Week:
“Look, Rudy Giuliani is up to his neck in crime.”
– Mimi Rocah, former assistant DA for the SDNY, guesting on MSNBC.
“I WANTED NOTHING! I WANTED NOTHING!”
“This is the last word of the President of the United States of America!”
Thus Mr Trump on the White House lawn, 21 November, bellowing over the racket of his helicopter, that never sleeps (or flies in the rain) at a small knot of cowed hacks, like a furious baby reading from a page of enormous but very simple notes written with his favorite black magic marker, protesting that his “perfect” phone call showed he never asked for anything from Ukraine in return for US military aid and a prestige meeting for President Zelinskiy at the White House; in fact he specifically asked NOT to be given anything….
“I wanted nothing, I wanted nothing” – wailed the note, in all-caps. “No quid pro quo. Tell Zellinsky (sic) to do the right thing (being what? Ed.). This is the last word from the Pres of the US.”
The problem being, the call in which he now protests he said he wanted nothing (and that is his last word! We can but hope) and specified no quid, etc. was only the latest in a long series of calls to Kyiv and Moscow in which he definitely DID want something, and was made on the day AFTER the Inspector General of Intelligence Services had gone to the Department of Justice to warn them that a whistleblower had come to him with a report that the president had possibly committed an impeachable offence involving a breach of national security.
In other words, the president’s alibi is located in time on 9 September, only AFTER he had been caught out committing the impeachable offence, originally in a 25 July phone call to Zelinskiy which was witnessed by innumerable officials listening in; and whose transcripts were hurriedly locked away by lawyers in a Top Secret Intel server, to be replaced by a redacted call summary Mr Trump insists is the complete and actual version of his “perfect call” to his fellow TV show performer, although it really isn’t.
(He has even distributed thousands of free T-shirts urging supporters to “Read the Transcript!” which, of course, they can’t as it has yet to be released.)
And I thought they have all these wonderful detectives in America, who would immediately have pounced on this significant discrepancy. Sadly, few even in the media noticed the flaw in Trump’s timeline.
Another instance of obstruction of justice, then, a manufactured alibi to add to the witness intimidation with which he has responded via Twitter to the House of Representatives’ official inquiry into his actions, is going to go unpunished. How the hell does he do that, every time?
Some of those officials have had the guts to come forward and testify under oath that, listening to both ends of the calls, it was clear that Trump wanted Zelinskiy to announce a corruption investigation into former Vice-President Joe Biden and his feckless son, otherwise he would (illegally) not release $391 million in military aid already approved by Congress, to support Ukraine in resisting the Russian incursion into the Donbass region.
How convenient was that for Mr Putin!
There is apparently a statute covering that too, which Trump also broke. It says that once aid has been approved by Congress for delivery to a certified recipient, it is not in the president’s power to hold it up for six months, not even as a “quid pro quo” for helping to rig his re-election. Various people seem to have been asleep on the job, as it wasn’t realized the aid promised in April had been held up until early in September – and then no-one but the president and his henchmen knew why.
And in fact Trump has already publicly admitted doing it; as has Mr Mulvaney, his embattled Chief of Staff; as have certain of those despatched to Ukraine in support of Mr Trump’s agenda, such as Energy Secretary Perry and, most importantly, EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, a hapless placeman and Trump pawn who has testified that yes, there was indeed a “quid pro quo” involved, a fact which he had initially denied under oath.
Furthermore, compelling witness testimony from expert diplomatic and intelligence officials involved with the Ukraine theater has also asserted that Mr Trump seemed to be running a shadow foreign policy operation independently of the State Department to “get this done”, as he told Sondland – a hotels magnate whom he now claims he barely knew, although he did pay Trump a million dollars for the EU posting – for domestic political purposes, both to discredit his main campaign rival and to force the Ukrainian government to admit – risibly – that they, and not Russia, were responsible for hacking the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016. (See STOP PRESS below); and that a mythical “missing server” (that’s about Trump’s level of technological awareness) is hiding in Ukraine somewhere, brimful of evidence to incriminate Hillary Clinton. Possibly he genuinely believes it.
Russian interference has always been a sore point with Trump, as in his diseased mind it delegitimizes his election; which is why he was so keen to bury the Mueller investigation, that uncovered reams of evidence showing “collusion” between Trump’s election campaign and Moscow. Such irrelevant, petty obsessions haunt him, day and night, so that he cannot move on.
Rudy, my dear
In charge of the Ukraine operation, which began with a campaign on Inauguration Day, 20 January 2017, to remove a possibly obstructive US diplomat in Kyiv, Ambassador Maria Yovanovych, was Mr Trump’s “personal lawyer”, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an elderly serial divorcé with no formal government position or authority; nor, seemingly, mental capacity.
Mr Giuliani appears to have been operating in Ukraine using two Russian-born agents allegedly with US mafia associations, Lev Parnas and Igor Frumin. Both men are now under indictment and awaiting trial for money laundering, over $320 thousand having made its way into Trump’s re-election campaign funds via a false-front energy company they had set up with Giuliani in Florida. (It’s about the energy, stoopid!)
The strong suspicion is that the money – which was also used to pay Giuliani’s fees, since Trump is apparently not paying him (is he hiding income from his latest ex-wife, they ask?) – came from a sanctioned Ukrainian oligarch, Dmitry (or Dmytro) Firtash, who is on an FBI most wanted list describing him as a senior figure in the Russian mafia.
Mr Firtash, whose enormous wealth is derived from a contract granted to him by Mr Putin to act as the middleman in the matter of all Ukraine’s Russian gas supply contracts, is currently fighting extradition to the USA from Austria, a country to which Parnas and Frumin were found on arrest to be holding one-way plane tickets; while enquiries revealed, Mr Giuliani had also acquired a plane ticket to Vienna.
(Later evidence has emerged that the aim of their visit may have been to hold further discussions with the disgraced former Ukrainian government prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who also lives in Vienna, and whom fanatical Trump-enabling Congressman Devin Nunes refuses to say whether or not he also met last year on a trip to Europe arranged by Parnas, to discuss smearing the Bidens… now read on, if you can!)
And, according to reports, advising Mr Giuliani on his Ukraine excursions from a federal prison cell, to which Trump’s lawyer is said to have made several visits, was none other than Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman – another person Trump has claimed he barely knew, but an expert nevertheless on Ukrainian politics.
Manafort, who had/has extensive contacts for decades with Russian and Ukrainian “oligarchs”, some said by the FBI to be high-level organized crime figures, is serving seven years for a range of electoral and financial offences, one of the principal pieces of evidence against him being a “little black book” detailing $millions in undeclared payments from former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych, a kleptocrat and Putin ally who was forced out in the 2014 Maidan Square “velvet revolution”, whose own election success had depended on a dirty tricks operation alleging corruption against his rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, masterminded by his PR advisors, Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates – now himself on trial and awaiting sentence.
(I am indebted as always for much of the above to Ms Rachel Maddow, doyenne of dot-joiners and host of her own MSNBC primetime evening show; and to my phenomenal memory for her and others’ bygone broadcasts…. – UB)
It seems then that one more aim of Giuliani’s efforts in the Ukraine had been to get Yanukovych’s successor, Petro Poroshenko, to somehow declare the notebook a forgery, and thus provide grounds for a Manafort appeal. When Poroshenko lost his presidency this year to the former TV sitcom star, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in April Giuliani and Trump turned their attentions to pressuring the tyro politician elected on an anti-corruption ticket into taking actions in support of their rackety agenda, which he has thus far refused to do.
Those efforts included sending the low-wattage Texan Energy Secretary, Rick Perry to Zelenskiy’s inauguration as the senior US representative, a calculated insult.*** While there, he allegedly spent the time attempting to do a private deal over liquefied natural gas imports from the US. But also implicated in the effort to extort concessions – described by National Security advisor John Bolton, who wanted no part of it, as “the drug deal” – were Secretary of State Pompeo, Attorney-General Barr and Vice-President Pence.
Really, given that I have not yet started on Giuliani’s attempts via Parnas and Frumin to get a Trump shill onto the board of the Ukrainian national gas company, Naftogaz, the murkiness of this entire story is just astounding. But possibly not as astounding as the attempts by the Republican caucuses in both houses of Congress to derail and defeat the impeachment process against Trump.
What on earth do they think they are doing, continuing to ally themselves with this profoundly, blatantly corrupt individual – who, if the chips were down, would surely show them no loyalty whatsoever?*
Having exhausted just about every crass and infantile objection to the lawful investigations and legal processes, having attempted to smear, threaten and discredit the witnesses – Trump having forbidden any White House staff from testifying at all, even under legal subpoena – as well as decrying the official enquiry chairman, the well-thought-of Congressman Schiff, as a “traitor” – having threatened to punish the whistleblower, as if that person’s supposedly protected standing has any bearing on the impeachable crime of bribery that Trump has already admitted to – after endless attempts to muddy the waters with reckless and bizarre diversionary excuses for Trump’s proven misconduct – such as that he was hoping to stamp out corruption in Ukraine, Europe’s second-most corrupt country* – the party line is now one of sullen defiance:
He did it, so what?
Without a 2/3rds majority in the Senate, which the Democrats do not command, Trump cannot be fired; impeachment itself as we saw with Bill Clinton need not anyway result in removal from office. And polls formerly in favor of impeachment are starting to show that as witness after witness continues to uphold their oath of office, honorably and credibly laying out the damning events as they experienced them, the public is already bored and restless to move on.
Too much information! Too many facts. Not enough pzazz!
Despite the mountain of totally believable testimony against him, the evidence of the “top secret” transcripts of his calls and the profoundly disturbing implications of his association, direct or indirect, with indicted criminal elements (whom, guess what, despite plentiful photographic evidence, he claims not to know); despite the trails of dirty money and the 448 pages of indisputably damning evidence in the Mueller report, despite all the evidence against him that came out last year in the Manafort and Cohen trials, the conviction last week of his friend, Roger Stone on seven counts of – I don’t know, shitty things that show Trump lied to the FBI – despite admissions that he has been giving certain congressmen money and assurances of preferment, and despite their poor showing in recent special elections, it is totally unlikely that a single Republican congressman in either house will dare to vote for his impeachment.
He keeps all their little furry balls in a row of labelled jars on a hard-to-reach shelf in the closet.
While his principal enablers like the smarmy and duplicitous Senator Graham – currently transitioning into an elderly woman – and the pudgy, hangdog Attorney-General William Barr, another corrupted Trump placeman regretting he ever met the guy, Nunes also, are all busily announcing their own menacing, Nazi-style hit-squad “investigations” into his accusers, whom Trump has accused of “treason”.
If these bungling incompetents, Don Trumpo’s Army, can get him off the serious charges of Federal offences that he has without any doubt committed in plain sight, do not doubt they can get him re-elected next year.
Welcome to the mafia state.**
*Transparency International places Ukraine (120th) far below the USA (22nd) on its most corrupt index, better only in Europe than the Catholic Church in Rome! Yet corruption in the USA is vast, and rampantly on show, even in the Senate. It depends on your definition. Is stealing people’s votes to get your own man into office corruption? Is accepting vast donations to your Political Action Committee corruption? What if you then show extraordinary favors to your donors? Is selling access to the President corruption? How about obliging staff and visiting dignitaries to stay in your own hotels?
In any case, Herculean efforts have been made in Ukraine to divert energy profits away from people like Firtash and back to the state. See: www/nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ukraine-one-world’s-most-corrupt-countries-49712
**A new podcast from the reliable independent journalist, Thom Hartman, and his excitable collaborator, JFK conspiracy author Lamar Waldron, details a chain of events involving the mafia, from 1960 Cuba, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the crazed plots with the CIA to rub out Fidel Castro, via the assassination of the anti-mafia crusading JFK (the “One bullet, seven wounds” theory), through Watergate (Nixon was politically funded by the mob in LA, some of whose members took part in the burglary) to the present day White House, where Trump is continuing to defy a Congressional deadline to release “millions” of pages of unseen CIA files from the JFK investigations, potentially detailing mafia infiltration of the government, that were due for publication in 2017.
Make of that what you will.
***Mr Perry is on video record as declaring Mr Trump to be an emissary of God, sent to redeem America. I’m increasingly convinced higher levels of carbon dioxide are not doing the human brain any good.
STOP PRESS Papers released overnight, 22/23 November, by the State Department under a court order obtained by non-partisan ethics watchdog, American Oversight are showing an actual paper trail connecting Giuliani and (now) Secretary of State Pompeo with the 2017 plot to unseat US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovych as a prelude to the campaign to force Ukraine to absolve the Russians of involvement in the 2016 election and smear the Bidens.
The trail apparently stops at the Oval Office with signatures from Trump’s personal secretary. (Reporting: MSNBC) Many more files are expected to be released shortly. American Oversight has apparently been able to exploit a legal loophole to obtain the papers under FOI, that the White House lawyers had failed to close in their campaign of obstruction. The State Department had hitherto been successfully defying a Congressional subpoena to release the evidence, but it seems they’ve been caught on the hop by a citizens’ pressure group.
Watch that space!
The Madness of King Donald…
Asked by reporters on a visit to an Apple plant in Texas what he had thought of the testimony that morning of EU Ambassador Sondland, his pointman on the Ukraine extortion operation, Trump said it was great as Sondland had clearly testified there was NO “quid pro quo”.
Chairman Schiff: “Was there a quid quo pro?”
Sondland: “The answer is, yes.”
Trump later tweeted that he had today “opened a major Apple manufacturing plant in Texas.”
The plant has been operating since 2013. (TYT: Ring of Fire)
And the idiocy of Devin Nunes
When CNN and the Daily Beast claimed Nunes had made a trip to Europe and met with the corrupt former prosecutor of Ukraine to discuss digging dirt on the Bidens, he threatened to sue.
Not long afterwards his Congressional expenses were due for publication and indeed showed, he had made a trip to Europe – including Vienna, where the prosecutor, Shokin, now lives.
The betting now is, Trump will claim Giuliani and Nunes concocted the whole Ukraine thing without his knowledge, and they will follow Cohen and Manafort to gaol.
Everything Trump touches, pleads guilty.
Welcome to the mafia state #2
A report on TYT this evening quotes the Daily Beast as placing Devin Nunes and three of his aides in Europe over four days at the end of November, 2018, at a cost to the US taxpayer of $64 thousand. The trip was apparently arranged by… Giuliani sidekick, Lev Parnas – who has been linked both with the President and with mafia-run shakedown operations, one of which may have ended in murder.
Nunes’ usual shifty expression makes Prince Andrew look like St Theresa of Avilar at the best of times, and often overbalances into the desperate stare of a man ensnared in a criminal enterprise, where he has just seen his accomplices mow down three policemen on a raid where nothing bad was supposed to happen.
Republican representative for the decidedly rural 22nd District of California, Nunes is a driven character who is even now still trying to sue anyone who reposted a 2018 Twitter meme joking that his mother was a Jersey cow. It runs into the tens of thousands. He is now labeled for all time as the man who tried to sue a cow.
And, for whatever reason, the former dairy farmer and ex-chair of the House Intelligence Committee, famous for shutting down his own inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election when the evidence suggested it really happened, and for a clandestine trip to brief the White House on matters germane to the enquiry (but entirely concocted) that the White House had, unknown to him, briefed to him in the first place, is another Trump lickspittle, who has been contributing his own bizarre brand of cuckoo to the impeachment inquiry, where he has attacked the witnesses for being part of a conspiracy, obsessed with promoting facts.
Why was he in Europe, wherever that is? (I vaguely recall he was turned away at the door by MI6 in London – another item of old news the US media seems to have forgotten). Well, apparently he went at the behest of Giuliani’s mafia associate Lev Parnas, now on trial for laundering Ukrainian money into Trump’s Political Action Committee (PAC), to “do an investigation” into the Mueller investigation; to see what they had turned up, and whether Russia might be proven innocent of interfering in the 2016 elections. What power did Parnas have to make him go?
Does this now proven association place Nunes in an impossible bind, a conflict of interest where he is an alleged co-conspirator in a crime directed by the President, but also the Republicans’ Ranking Member in the impeachment hearings, in effect investigating himself? And what was he doing, visiting Vienna? Surely not partying with Giuliani, Parnas, Frumin and exiled Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, who seems to have been financing the whole show?
Following his arrest, Parnas hired lawyers who previously worked for Paul Manafort, the convicted Trump aide accused of spying on the election campaign for Russian oligarch, Putin crony and suspected mafia boss, the “aluminum king”, Oleg Deripaska, a business associate of Firtash – and was trying to claim that his relationship with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave him cover under Trump’s “executive privilege”.
Further speculation was aroused when Firtash recently appointed to his legal team, Victoria Toensing and Joseph DeGenova, controversial husband-and-wife Fox News panel hacks, a couple of seemingly deadbeat lawyers with lengthy histories of representing pretty filthy people, peripheral to one or other of Trump’s many efforts to obstruct the Mueller enquiry. (Trump eventually rejected the couple as being too badly dressed, although it seems they may have found him too toxic.) Who suggested them to Firtash, and why?
Trump has of course denied any association with Parnas, who in retaliation has changed his lawyers and is now said to be spilling his guts to a war-weary FBI. How many more of these people can Trump claim he “hardly knew, if at all”? Photographs have been widely published, showing Trump enjoying hospitality with Parnas, his cohort Frumin and Rudy Giuliani, giving his usual goofy thumbs-up sign, arms fraternally around shoulders, no doubt picking one anothers’ pockets.
But of course, he can’t know everyone.
In passing, back to Sondland
Why has no-one picked up on Trump’s bald assertion that he “barely knew, hardly ever met” the man?
This is someone, a guy with a chain of hotels, who gave, in supposedly unremarkable dribs and drabs, more than $1 million to the “Inauguration Fund” – Trump’s personal slush fund – because he was a fervent Trump supporter.
Trump now lies menacingly that the hapless Sondland “voted for many other people, but that’s okay”. How does he know how Sondland voted, if he doesn’t know him? It was a threat, in the best gangsta fashion.
In return, Trump appointed him as ambassador to the EU – a trading bloc of 28 nations with a gross GDP of USD $19 trillion, covering a market of almost 500 million people – a third again the size of the United States.
It’s implicit in the almighty Constitution that the President should have at least some fiduciary responsibility to the American people. It’s unimaginable that he should admit to making globally important appointments on no other basis than that somebody told him so-and-so was a good guy.
Sondland seems like an amiable character, not too stupid to understand when he’s in deep trouble, but he has no qualifications whatsoever in politics, diplomacy or trade matters. To appoint such a man to such an important and choice posting without having met him is, frankly, evidence that Trump does not give a flying fuck for sound governance.
It ought to be, if it is not already, yet another impeachable offence, since the appointment was so clearly corrupt, being based purely on a financial consideration. A defense of ignorance hardly improves the situation. Presidents are not supposed to be total dumbfucks.
Julian Assange and The Curse of the White House
Trump has forced the resignation, or fired, his Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer, who now becomes the nine hundred and ninety-ninth victim of the Curse of the White House, or thereabouts, given how many of his appointed officials Childe Donald has decided he doesn’t like after all, waaah!, off with their heads.
The reason is complicated but boils down to this: that Trump has further aggravated his already desperate relations with the armed forces he affects to love so much, by interfering in a disciplinary matter involving the demotion and dismissal of a Navy SEAL accused of murdering an ISIS prisoner in cold blood.
Three weeks ago, Trump was ordered by a New York court to repay $2 million to his tax-exempt charity foundation for misusing funds for his own personal expenses, and to cease from any further charitable activities. Among the funds he misused was an even larger sum, $2.8 million, that had been raised to support military veterans, who never saw a penny of the money.
So the Commander-in-Chief is not in great odor with the military, especially after he fired the highly-regarded Defense Secretary, Gen. Mattis, for disagreeing with his policy on pretending to withdraw troops from Syria, letting in the Turks, while sending more to Saudi Barbaria and redeploying the boys from Syria he said were coming home, to “take the oil” – or, as he delicately puts it, to “protect” the Syrian oilfields against the ISIS insurgents he boasted he had personally defeated, naturally in record time for any president.
The SEAL in question, CPO Edward Gallagher, allegedly stabbed a wounded ISIS prisoner to death with a commando knife, for no obvious reason. Although he was found innocent of doing that, which many witnesses saw him do, Mr Gallagher then took and posted a selfie with the man’s head, which resulted in his conviction in a military court. His colleagues testified that they were not comfortable serving with him, as he exhibited psychotic behavior and they had had to protect civilians against him. He was further acquitted of murdering civilians, including a 13-year-old girl, whom he had apparently not murdered while shooting her from a distance with a sniper rifle.
Nevertheless, amid all this leniency, Trump tweeted that Psycho was a hero, a #great warrior’, and should be reinstated, with his little honorary souvenir seal pin badge, whatever, and when Gallagher’s commander said he did not consider a tweet to be an official military order, Secretary Spencer defended him and was fired for his pains. Something like that.
As you can see, the president’s policies are not exactly coherent.
Which is why your Pumpkin finds it so odd. Because if – among other military men he has forced senior officers to pardon of disciplinary offences, arguing that US troops should be allowed to commit war crimes or they can’t do their job properly – if he has intervened in the case of Edward Gallagher, why would he persist in attempting to extradite Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange to receive rough justice in America?
It makes no sense. Assange was instrumental in getting Trump elected. And he hasn’t murdered anybody. We know, now Trump’s henchman, the dirty trickster Roger Stone has been convicted, in part for lying about his connections to the Australian “tech entrepreneur” (© Jennifer Arcuri, 2015-19), who helpfully published the Clinton and Podesta emails hacked from the Democrats, that Trump had publicly asked the Russians to do for him: (“Russia, if you’re listening…”, etc.)
Confusingly, Trump now continues to defend the conspiracy theory promulgated by the GDU through Paul Manafort’s associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, that it was not the Russians, but Ukraine that hacked the emails.
Assange is considered to be so ill, both physically and mentally, that 60 doctors from half-a-dozen countries have wrtten to the British authorities demanding his transfer to hospital from the top security Belmarsh gaol, Britain’s Guantanamo, home of many untried and unconvicted terror suspects undergoing re-education and others held under illegal “indefinite detention” orders. They fear otherwise he may die.
Yet the US Justice Department persists in its efforts to drag him to court across the Atlantic, where under their cumbersome, inept and often lunatic eighteenth-century “justice” system, crossed with a made-for-TV show, he can expect up to 170 years in gaol for crimes against security, committed in 2010.
Is there no statute of limitations on cybercrime?
So it’s possible Trump would rather Assange was being held in custody, incommunicado, as Assange presumably knows where he got the emails from, and it wasn’t Ukraine. He thus becomes yet another disposable victim of the Curse of the White House, and would really do well to tell the British authorities everything he knows.
Except that they, too, are sitting on a report of Russian interference in elections, that they really don’t want to come out.
Russiagate – a timeline
- 09 November, 2013, desperately seeking a deal to build “Trump Tower, Moscow”, Trump is in town as the guest of Azerbaijani property magnate, Aras Agalerov, with his “Miss Universe” pageant. The visit has been arranged by Trump “Senior Business Advisor”, Felix Sater – a sometime lieutenant of feared Russian crime boss, Semyon Mogilevitch. Excitedly claims “All the oligarchs were there!” Putin pointedly stays away.
- 09 June, 2016, Trump Jr, Kushner and Manafort meet Kremlin lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya and two ex-GRU men with spent convictions for money-laundering at Trump Tower, New York to discuss “adoption” issues in the wake of the Magnitsky affair.
- 27 July, 2016, at a rally in Florida, Trump calls expressly on Russia to release 30 thousand missing Clinton emails he has never mentioned before. Hacking of the DRC begins. Efforts will later be made to deny the 9 June meeting took place, then to coverup what its real purpose was. Aboard Airforce 1, Comms director, Hope Hicks helps Trump concoct a misleading account.
- 17 October, 2016 embarrassing 2005 Access Hollywood tape emerges of Trump boasting of grabbing women by the “pussy” and one hour later the first tranche of emails is released by Wikileaks, diverting the news agenda. FBI now monitoring calls by Carter Page and other Trump campaign officials with known Russian intelligence agents, under FISA warrants. A Special Counsel, Robert Mueller is soon appointed.
- 10 January, 2017, Buzzfeed releases leaked version of the Steele “dossier” compiling third-party accounts from Kremlin sources of Russian “kompromat” on Trump and claiming there was a Kremlin campaign to help Trump get elected.
- 20 January, 2017, Inauguration Day, calls begin between former New York Mayor Giuliani and ex-CIA head and eventually to be Secretary of State Pompeo about removing the US ambassador in Kyiv, Maria Yovanovych.
- 9 May, 2017, Trump fires FBI Director, James Comey, ostensibly on a letter from deputy Attorney-General Rosenstein alleging misconduct in the investigation of Hillary Clinton. Later, Trump will tell ABC TV it was in reality to make the Russia investigation go away. He goes on to fire or force out many other FBI officers including Peter Strjok, the lead investigator into Russian “sleeper cells” in the US.
- 10 May, 2017 Trump meets privately with Russian ambassador Kislyak and foreign minister Lavrov in the Oval Office after ordering his own officials to leave the room, and tells them there is now no problem with the investigation into Russian interference in the election.
- 16 July, 2018, after privately meeting with no officials present, Trump defends Putin in press conference at bilateral summit in Helsinki, openly contradicting his own intelligence services’ reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- November midterms, 2018, Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.
- 12 December, 2018, Trump lieutenant, lawyer and “fixer”, Michael Cohen is sentenced to 3 years in gaol, principally for lying to the FBI about his meetings in Moscow, ostensibly pursuing the Trump Tower project; on tax charges, and for campaign finance violations, operating Trump’s access slush fund to buy off inconvenient mistresses ahead of the election. Trump is named in court as “unindicted co-conspirator”.
- March, 2019, Mueller report confirms over 150 instances of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. New Attorney-General, William Barr delays sending report to Congress while issuing a misleading summary claiming the report exonerates the President of “collusion” with Russia.
- 13 June, 2019, in an ABC TV interview, Trump boasts he might not alert the FBI to approaches with “dirt” on his opponents from foreign governments if it helps him win the 2020 race. Trump’s “I meet with foreign governments all the time” echoes Donald Jr’s previous boasts: “We’re in and out of Russia all the time” and “We get all the money we need from Russia”.
- 25 July, 2019, Trump is illegally holding up military aid to Kyiv as Russian troops continue to support uprising by secessionists in eastern Ukraine. Horrified officials testify that Trump has demanded a “quid pro quo” from President Zelinskiy, explaining he wants him to “do me a favor, though…”. , to pressure Zelinskiy into announcing a corruption investigation into his possible main rival for the 2020 election, former Vice-President Joe Biden; as well as falsifying evidence to exonerate Russia of interfering in the 2016 election.
- October, 2019, facing impeachment hearings for a foreign bribery offence, Trump begins repeating old allegations first aired in 2017 by Alex Jones of InfoWars that Ukraine, not Russia, stole the emails; subsequently taken up as Republican “talking point”. He demands the return of a non-existent “server” containing Clinton emails he claims has been taken to Ukraine.
- 20 November 2019, former State Department lead and world expert on Russia, Dr Fiona Hill, pleads with Republicans in Congress to stop lying about Ukraine’s involvement in election meddling as the evidence that it was and is still Russia is irrefutable. The source of the Ukraine theory is identified as Manafort associate and Deripaska lieutenant, GRU agent Konstantin Kilimnik.
- Terrified and demented, Republican congressmen take no notice. As is the President, they are all now essentially working for Putin, and up to their necks in what looks increasingly like a conspiracy to engage in illicit market trades ahead of statements from the president that move the numbers.
If Trump is not impeached and removed, writes The Pumpkin, America will have fallen without a shot being fired.
Is this a dagger I see before me?
Donald Trump Junior has had a book written for him, whining piteously about all these dreadful Deep State media and opposition political attacks on his perfect father and the fragrant Trump family criminal organization.
“Triggered” (it’s a reference to a word used by the right to mock left-wingers and liberals who react badly to minor events like murderous neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville) has gone straight to number one in the influential New York Times bestseller list.
Woke journalists have noted that the short summary of the book in the Times‘ list is followed by a typographical symbol looking like a dagger, called an obelus. A request to the Times produced the information that the obelus denotes a book whose sales consist mostly or entirely in bulk orders.
It transpires that Mr Trump Jr bought 40 thousand copies of his own book to use as promotional giveaways, thus helping to ensure he captured the number one spot (TYT: The Damage Report).
He’s certainly a chip off the old block, is Jr.
Trump Senior has, naturally, tweeted his praise and admiration for his number one son’s brilliant literary prowess, although he a) supposedly hates the “failing”, “fake news” New York Times; b) has read only one book in his life, his own ghostwritten autobiography, probably not from cover to cover, and c) has no idea who Donald Trump Jr is, or why he has the same name, as they certainly look nothing like one another.
Sorry, there’s a whole month’s worth of terrible fires, extreme weather events, alarming statistics and doom-laden reports to catch up on… Latest are:
Europe: “7 people have died as violent storms swept through parts of France, Greece and Italy over the weekend, causing flash floods, landslides and the collapse of an overpass. Greek media described the storms as leaving a trail of “biblical destruction”. Flash floods in France’s Côte d’Azur claimed the lives of 4 people, while 2 others are believed to still be missing.” Another died when a rescue boat overturned. (BBC News)
Kenya: “At least 29 people have died in landslides caused by severe weather in West Pokot county. The landslides, affecting the villages of Nyarkulian and Parua, were reportedly caused by heavy rains.” (BBC)
Australia: Major cities Sydney and Adelaide are wreathed in choking smoke as wildfires continue to blaze out of control in three states, amid 40 deg-plus temperatures and 50 mph winds.
“Soaring temperatures in South Australia prompted “catastrophic” alerts – the highest danger rating – on Wednesday. Parts of Victoria have been issued the same warning for Thursday, while the threat in Tasmania is also increasing. 6 people have died since last month in massive bushfires which are burning elsewhere in the country.” (BBC)
USA: Over 6,000 “people were evacuated and about 2,400 structures threatened early Tuesday 26 Nov., when fire erupted in Los Padres national forest, California. Evacuations were ordered in the town of Goleta, north of Santa Barbara. The fire has grown to about 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares). Weather forecasts have predicted winds with gusts of 60 to 70 mph at times into Tuesday morning.” (Guardian)
Meanwhile a huge storm is rapidly undergoing cyclogenesis off the coast of California and another storm system in the east together with yet more heavy rain tracking up from the southwest across Texas and the midwest are likely to dampen Thanksgiving celebrations, just as much as will the round-table arguments over Trump. (BBC)
Carbon discontent: “Three-quarters of the emissions cuts pledged by countries under the Paris agreement of 2015 are “totally inadequate”, according to a comprehensive analysis …, putting the world on a path to climate disaster. Another report has found that nations are on track to produce more than double the fossil fuels in 2030 than could be burned while keeping heating under 1.5C.” (Guardian, reporting another record rise in CO2 in 2019. Actually under-reporting, in your Old Gran’s view, as the “Environment Editor” fails to mention the “carbon equivalent” of all the GHGs put together is now around double the 1750 level; and also in attributing causes to methane emissions, fails to mention the thawing sub-Arctic permafrost.)
Jina: A radiation spike detected in the hotly contested South China Sea by the Global Network for Environmental Monitoring (Siberian Times), has been variously dismissed by Russian authorities as posing no danger to local people; as being “under control”, and even as a “fake news” story emanating from a rightwing US blogger. Fox affiliate, TopNews is headlining an explosion aboard a Chinese submarine, citing local news sources, but without further confirmation.
Cambodia: Globetrotting Amazon motoring show presenter, famed “petrol head” and climate-change risibilist, Jeremy Clarkson has finally admitted the possible existence of a problem with the climate, after an attempt to film a journey down a river in Cambodia had to be abandoned owing to there being no water in it. (Times)
Italy: 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, a “life Senator” who was sent to the Auschwitz death camp at 13, is under police protection after receiving death threats for calling on parliament to set up a committee to combat hate crime. (BBC)
Getting it done: The Conservatives are learning from Trump: lie big, lie often and lie first. As figures show almost 12 thousand EU staff have quit the NHS since the referendum, citing the uncertainty of Brexit, and the number of new nurses arriving from the EU annually has fallen by 87%, to well under 1,000, Mr Johnson is promising to magic up “50 thousand” more nurses by the end of 2024.