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Posts Tagged ‘PAUL MANAFORT’

WHY OMAROSA WINS AND LIBERALS LOSE: PART FIVE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 24, 2018 at 12:48 am

Omarosa Manigault-Newman has struck a chord of fear in President Donald Trump that rivals the fear he has struck in others.

She has done so by using many of his own tactics against him: Deceit, intimidation, media manipulation.

Syndicated Columnist Mark Shields noted on the August 17 edition of The PBS Newshour: “In a White House where most of the people are recent acquaintances of the president, she goes back longer than anybody, except the president’s daughter. She goes back 15 years. She is a Donald Trump protege and product….

“But what she does, obviously, like Elizabeth Warren, she gets under Donald Trump’s skin. And she has said things that, you know, may be subject to fact-check, but the reality is, she has tape.

“She has tape of Donald Trump groveling before her, pretending that he didn’t know that John Kelly had the day before brought her to the Situation Room…which therefore confirms the suspicion widely held that Donald Trump doesn’t have the stomach for confronting people who work for him, that he lies.  

“And you can see that he obviously is absolutely upset by her, and she’s got everybody in the White House, every male, quaking in his Guccis about those tapes. I can tell you that.”

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David Brooks and Mark Shields

New York Times Columnist David Brooks, speaking on the same episode of The Newshour, outlined why her attacks on Trump have been so effective.

“Well, what’s interesting about her is, she plays by reality show rules. She plays by Trump rules. And most people who go against Trump don’t quite play by his rules. And she plays by his rules, which is no rules, that do whatever you can, it doesn’t matter what the norms and standards are. 

“And taping somebody in the Situation Room is a rather serious offense and, to me, a pretty great betrayal of any—how any White House should work. I mean, if we’re walking around each other in the hallway taping each other, just think about doing that.

“That’s just a betrayal of how normal life should happen….And so she said, they’re going to lie about me, they’re going to screw me, so I’m ready.”

In perhaps the most-quoted passage of The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote: 

“From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved. 

“For it may be said of men in general that they are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger and covetous of gain. As long as you benefit them, they are entirely yours: they offer you their blood, their goods, their life and their children, when the necessity is remote, but when it approaches, they revolt.

“And the prince who has relied solely on their words, without making other preparations, is ruined. For the friendship which is gained by purchase and not through grandeur and nobility of spirit is bought but not secured, and at a pinch is not to be expended in your service.”

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Niccolo Machiavelli

Donald Trump has always used fear to instill and maintain loyalty among his closest associates—and to intimidate his many enemies.

But Machiavelli offers a warning on the uses of fear: 

“Still, a prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred, for fear and the absence of hatred may well go together.

“Cruelties ill committed are those which, although at first few, increase rather than diminish with time….In taking a state, the conqueror must arrange to commit all his cruelties at once, so as not to have to recur to them very day, and so as to be able, by not making fresh changes, to reassure people and win them over by benefiting them. 

“Whoever acts otherwise, either through timidity or bad counsels,” warns Machiavelli, “is always obliged to stand with knife in hand, and can never depend on his subjects, because they, owing to continually fresh injuries, are unable to depend upon him.”

From the onset of his Presidency, Trump has violated this warning with a vengeance. And now he is “obliged to stand with knife in hand.”

Omarosa is the first former Trump loyalist to emerge as a fervent Trump critic. And she may have even worse in store for him. 

Warns David Brooks: 

“All sorts of signs are pointing in this direction, that we’re going to wind up with an election where….people are basically going to be voting, when race is a hot button issue, with a man who has a history of bigoted comments, and then voting along those lines.”

With Democratic voters—many of them blacks and Hispanics—energized, Trump’s obvious racism could sweep Republicans from the House of Representatives. 

Omarosa seems determined to make that happen.

WHY OMAROSA WINS AND LIBERALS LOSE: PART FOUR (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 23, 2018 at 12:06 am

On the August 12, 2018 edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Omarosa Manigault-Newman revealed that she had recorded a conversation with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

This had occurred on December 13, 2017, in the White House Situation Room. This is the part of the White House where the most sensitive conversations occur.

She justified her unprecedented violation of the Situation Room thus: “They take me into the Situation Room, the doors are locked, they tell me I can’t leave and they start to threaten me, put fear in me, to put me under duress.

“I protected myself because this is a White House where everybody lies; the President lies to the American people, [press secretary] Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] stands in front of the country and lies every single day.

“You have to have your own back or else you’ll look back and you’ll have 17 knives in your back. I protected myself because this is a White House where everybody lies.”

The next day, August 13, 2018, Omarosa threw an even more embarrassing bombshell at the man who had once been her mentor and promoter. 

She revealed the conversation—also taped—she had had with President Donald Trump on the day of her firing. 

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Donald Trump

TRUMP:  “Omarosa? Omarosa what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?”

OMAROSA:  “General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.”

TRUMP: “Nobody even told me about it,”

OMAROSA:  “Wow.”

TRUMP:  “You know they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it, I didn’t know that. Goddamn it. I don’t love you leaving at all.” 

The tape reveals a duel between practiced deceivers: Trump is trying to convince Omarosa that he knew nothing about her firing—and that he can do nothing to prevent it. 

She, on the other hand, never tips her hand that she doesn’t believe him—and that she’s recording their conversation.

At least for the moment, Trump was the more deceived, tweeting that same day: “Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success.”

Apparently he didn’t expect her to attain that success at his expense.

And on August 16, 2018, Omarosa embarrassed another member of the Trump family—Lara Trump, the wife of Donald Trump’s son, Eric. 

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Lara Trump

She did so by revealing yet another tape—of a conversation between the two—during her appearance on MSNBC. 

This had occurred on December 16—three days after Omarosa’s firing by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.  

Lara Trump referred to a December 15 New York Times article where Omarosa had said: “I have seen things that made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”  

LARA TRUMP: “It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you’ve got in the back pocket to pull out. Clearly, if you come on board, like, we can’t have . . .” 

OMAROSA:  “Oh God, no.”

LAURA TRUMP: “Everything, everybody positive, right?”   

Lara Trump then offered Omarosa a speaker’s position with the 2020 Trump re-election campaign. It would pay her about $15,000 a month.

LARA TRUMP: “All the money that we raise and that pays salaries is directly from donors, small-dollar donors for the most part. So I know you, you were making 179 [$179,000 a year] at the White House, and I think we can work something out where we keep you right along those lines.”

After Omarosa played her tape of the conversation, Lara Trump released a statement. She and her “entire family was concerned” about Omarosa after her firing. 

“We still wanted her on our team because we cared so much about her personally. That’s why I reached out to offer her a position with the 2020 Trump Campaign before we knew anything about the gross violations of ethics and integrity during her White House tenure.”

Omarosa viewed the offer differently: “I saw this as an attempt to buy my silence,” she said on MSNBC.

And she issued her own statement: “I am not going anywhere. I’m not going to be bullied. I’m not intimidated. And I’m going to go toe-to-toe with him [President Trump]. Everything he throws at me—believe me, my tapes are much better than theirs.”

She threatened to release more tapes “if I need to. I’ll do what I have to do to protect myself.”

Meanwhile, President Trump has not remained silent—although he has reportedly been urged to do so by his closest aides and attorneys. 

On August 13, he attacked Omarosa on Twitter: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” 

Arizona United States Senator Jeff Flake objected to this use of language: “This kind of language is unbecoming of a President of the United States. There is no excuse for it, and Republicans should not be okay with it.”

WHY OMAROSA WINS AND LIBERALS LOSE: PART THREE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on August 22, 2018 at 12:37 am

On December 13, 2017, Omarosa Manigault-Newman was told that she would be leaving the White House on January 20, 2018—one year from the day she had arrived there.

But Omarosa didn’t want to part with her $180,000 position as director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.

She reportedly asked Ivanka Trump to intervene on her behalf, but the request was denied. 

Deciding to go right to the top, she headed for the Trump’s private quarters. There she tripped an alarm—which brought guards and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to the scene. 

An enraged Kelly ordered her ejected from the White House. Multiple sources report that she was physically restrained and escorted—cursing and screaming—from the Executive Mansion.

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The White House

Next day—December 14—Manigault-Newman appeared on “Good Morning America.”

The woman who had been Donald Trump’s ambassador to blacks now sang a different tune: “I have seen things that made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”  

On August 8, 2018, news broke that Omarosa Manigault-Newman had secretly taped Trump during several phone conversations in the White House. And that she planned to use these to promote an upcoming—and highly critical—book on the President.  

The book—Unhinged-–was released on August 14.  Omarosa has since launched her book tour blasting Trump as a racist, a misogynist and in mental decline. 

  • On Trump as a racist: Interviewed on The PBS Newshour, she said: “One of the most dramatic scenes in Unhinged where I talk about taking him to task for the birther movement.”
  • On Trump as a misogynist: In an Associated Press interview, she claims she saw Trump behaving “like a dog off the leash” at numerous events he attended without his wife, Melania Trump. 
  • On Trump’s mental decline: On the PBS Newshour: “We’re in the White House and Donald Trump couldn’t remember basic words or phrases. He couldn’t read the legislation that was put in front of him.” 

On August 12, Manigault-Newman appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press”—with an audio of the exchange that had occurred between her and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on the day of her firing.  

Kelly had directed her to meet with him in the Situation Room.

In the Executive Mansion, this is the “holy of holies”—the inner sanctum where the most secret exchanges of information occur. 

It was from this room that President Barack Obama and his topmost officials tensely listened as U.S. Navy SEALS assaulted Osama bin Laden’s fortified compound in Pakistan—and killed him. 

It is, in short, the room where recording devices of any type are strictly forbidden.

So Kelly naturally assumed that the exchange he was about to have with Omarosa—the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison—would be totally private.  

He didn’t know that Omarosa had smuggled in a recording device—which picked up the following:

JOHN KELLY: “It’s come to my attention, over the last few months, that there’s been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you and use of government vehicles and some other issues.”

OMAROSA: “That I—that I did?”  

KELLY:  “Just stay with me, just stay with me. Yep. That it would be a a pretty serious offense. So with that I’m just going to ask you—these gentlemen will explain it. We’ll bring a personnel person in after after they talk to you. But just to understand that I’d like to see this be a a friendly departure.

“There are pretty significant legal issues that we hope don’t develop into something that, that’ll make it ugly for you. But I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure we can all be, you know, you can look at, look at your time here in, in the White House as a year of service to the nation.

“And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation. But it’s very, very important I think that you understand that there are some serious legal issues that have been violated. And you’re, you’re open to some legal action that we hope, I think, we can control, right?

“So with that, if you would stay here with these gentlemen they’ll lay this thing out—“

OMAROSA: “Can I ask you a couple questions? Does the President—is the President aware of what’s going on?”

KELLY:  “Don’t do—let’s not go down the road. This is a non-negotiable discussion.”

OMAROSA: “I don’t want to negotiate. I just, I’ve never talked—had a chance to talk to you General Kelly so if this is my departure I’d like to have at least an opportunity—” 

KELLY:  “No.” 

OMAROSA:  “––to understand.” 

Omarosa revealed this tape to the public on the August 12, 2018 edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

WHY OMAROSA WINS AND LIBERALS LOSE: PART TWO (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 21, 2018 at 12:04 am

“When they go low, we go high!” was an inspiring line from then-First Lady Michelle Obama during the 2016 Presidential election. 

Unfortunately, it proved only that good guys finish last.

During the campaign, supporters of Republican candidate Donald J. Trump repeatedly threatened violence against his opponent, Hillary Clinton.  

Among those threats:

  • In Cincinnati, a Trump supporter threatened to forcibly remove Clinton from the White House if she won the race: “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,”
  • Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Clinton: “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take….I would do whatever I can for my country.”

Even Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, expressed fear of what might happen if Trump lost the election.

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Fergus Cullen

“That’s really scary,” Cullen said, recounting the violence at Trump rallies around the country leading up to the Republican National Convention. “In this country, we’ve always had recriminations after one side loses. But we haven’t had riots. We haven’t had mobs that act out with violence against supporters of the other side. 

“There’s no telling what his supporters would be willing to do at the slightest encouragement from their candidate,” he said. 

Trump even began encouraging his mostly white supporters to sign up online to be “election observers” to stop “Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.” He urged them to act as poll watchers in “other” [non-white] communities to ensure that things are “on the up and up.”

And many of his supporters promised to do so.

“Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio.

“I’ll look for…well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

Knowing that large numbers of angry—and possibly armed—Right-wingers planned to descend on polling places could only have had a chilling effect on untold numbers of Democratic voters. And this would have been especially true in heavily conservative states. 

Both the USA Patriot Act and the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act have statutes dealing with making terrorist threats against government institutions to influence their members.  

If Trump’s remarks did not violate one or both of those laws, certainly remarks made by his surrogates did. 

Thus, the Justice Department could have cited the Patriot Act in indicting Trump and/or any number of his followers for “activities that…appear to be intended…to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion [and]…occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” 

The Justice Department could have also demanded that the results of the election be invalidated on the basis that widespread voter and candidate intimidation played a massive role in it.

But that, of course, did not happen.

So far, only one person has proven Trump’s equal—if not superior—in fighting fire with fire: Omarosa Manigauot-Newman, his onetime “Apprentice” protégé. 

The relationship between Donald Trump and Omarosa dates to 2004, when she became a participant in the first season of “The Apprentice,” NBC’s “reality” TV series.

Her rudeness and ruthlessness toward other contestants quickly made her “the woman America loved to hate,” according to Jet magazine. 

TV Guide included her in its 2013 list of “The 60 Nastiest TV Villains of All Time.” 

In 2008, she appeared on “Celebrity Apprentice”where she was again fired after failing to sell more artwork than a rival team. 

During the 2016 Presidential race, she served as Trump’s Director of African-American Outreach, although she had absolutely no credible ties to the black community. 

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Omarosa Manigault-Newman

(By Photography by Glenn Francis of PacificProDigital.com)

And, in September, 2016, she famously predicted: “Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

When  Trump moved into the White House on January 20, 2017, Manigault moved in with him as his director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. 

Her arrogance and rudeness quickly won her as many enemies among White House staffers as among her former “Apprentice” rivals. 

A typical example: On April 8, 2017, she married John Allen Newman, the senior pastor at The Sanctuary at Mt. Calvary, a church in Jacksonville, Florida. Afterwards, in full bridal attire, Omarosa took her 39-member bridal party to the White House for an extended photo shoot. 

According to Politico, White House senior aides and security officials were caught by surprise. Omarosa hadn’t alerted them in advance. Her visitors—lacking security clearances—“loudly wandered around” the Rose Garden and West Wing. 

WHY OMAROSA WINS AND LIBERALS LOSE: PART ONE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 20, 2018 at 12:42 am

Throughout the 2016 Presidential election, then-First Lady Michelle Obama famously exhorted: “When they go low, we go high!”

Inspiring, yes. But it didn’t prevent Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump from employing Russian Intelligence officers and computer-hackers to win the election.

On June 9, 2016, high-ranking members of his campaign met with Russian Intelligence agents at Trump Tower.

The purpose: To obtain derogatory information about Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Among those attending:   

  • Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.;
  • His son-in-law, Jared Kushner;
  • His then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort;
  • At least two lobbyists with ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, including Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya; and
  • Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet counterintelligence officer suspected of “having ongoing ties to Russian Intelligence.”

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Trump Tower  

(By Jorge Láscar from Australia)

This was nothing less than treason—meeting with officials of a hostile foreign power to manipulate an American Presidential election.

After The New York Times broke the story, Trump “helped” his son draft a false statement to explain the purpose of the meeting. 

On July 8, 2017, Donald Trump, Jr., issued the following statement: “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government.”

Confronted with overwhelming evidence, President Trump tweeted on August 5, 2018: 

“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

On July 22, 2016, Trump said at a press conference in Doral, Florida: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing [from Hillary Clinton’s personal email server].  I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” 

Thus, Trump called upon a foreign power, hostile to the United States, to interfere in its Presidential election.  

Hours later, the Main Intelligence Directorate in Moscow targeted Clinton’s personal office and hit more than 70 other Clinton campaign accounts. 

Donald Trump

On December 16, 2016, then-FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. agreed with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House.

“When they go low, we go high” did not deter Trump from threatening his Republican and Democratic opponents with violence. 

No other candidate—Republican or Democrat—had ever made such repeated and brutal use of threats of physical assault in pursuing the Presidency.

  • On March 16, 2016, he warned Republicans that if he didn’t win the GOP nomination in July, his supporters would literally riot: “I think you’d have riots. I think you would see problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen. I really do. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen.”
  • An ABC reporter summed this up as: “The message to Republicans was clear on [March 16[: ‘Nice convention you got there, shame if something happened to it.'”
  • Republicans clearly saw this as a threat: Paul Ryan, their Speaker of the House, said on March 17: “Nobody should say such things in my opinion because to even address or hint to violence is unacceptable.” 
  • Philip Klein, the managing editor of the Washington Examiner, wrote on the eve of the Republican National Convention in July: “Political commentators now routinely talk about the riots that would break out in Cleveland if Trump were denied the nomination, about how his supporters have guns and all hell could break loose, that they would burn everything to the ground. It works to Trump’s advantage to not try too hard to dispel these notions.”
  • On August 9, Trump told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina: “Hillary [Clinton] wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. If she gets to pick her [Supreme Court] judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
  • “Well, let me say if someone else said that outside of the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now, with the Secret Service questioning him,” said Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA). 

Making threats against anyone under protection by the U.S. Secret Service is a felony. Yet Donald Trump was never held legally accountable by the Justice Department.   

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Threats of this type continued to be made by Trump supporters right up to the day of the election.

  • On July 29, Roger Stone, a notorious Right-wing political consultant acting as a Trump strategist, told Breitbart News: “The first thing Trump needs to do is begin talking about [voter fraud] constantly. If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.”
  • At a town hall meeting where Trump’s Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence appeared, a woman named Rhonda said: “For me personally, if Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself am ready for a revolution.”

(TRUMP) TOWER OF LIES

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on August 9, 2018 at 12:10 am

If you commit a crime, don’t issue multiple—and contradictory—statements about what you did.

Case in point: Donald Trump’s latest version about the infamous meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.

Among its attendees:

  • Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.;
  • His son-in-law, Jared Kushner;
  • His then-campaign manager Paul Manafort; 
  • At least two lobbyists with ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, including Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya; and 
  • Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet counterintelligence officer suspected of “having ongoing ties to Russian Intelligence.”

It was supposed to remain secret—from the press, the FBI and the voters.

When The New York Times broke the story, the Trump team scrambled to explain it as innocent a way as possible. 

They certainly didn’t want voters to think that their candidate had committed treason by meeting with officials of a hostile foreign power to manipulate a Presidential election.

On July 8, 2017, Donald Trump, Jr., issued the following statement: “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.  

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Donald Trump, Jr. [Gage Skidmore photo]

“I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”

On July 9, he added: “No details or supporting information was provided or even offered.”

Then The New York Times reported that, at the meeting, Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

So, on July 9,  Trump Jr. issued a new statement: “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.

“Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information. She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act.”

[This is a bipartisan bill passed by Congress in 2012, to punish Russian officials responsible for the torture and death of a Russian tax accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, in a Moscow prison in 2009.]

“It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.” 

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Trump Tower 

(By Jorge Láscar from Australia)

On July 11, Trump, Jr., tweeted: “The information they suggested they had about Hillary Clinton I thought was Political Opposition Research. I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet.

“I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official. And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act.”

On July 16, Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, he went on “Meet the Press” to announce: “Let me say this—but I do want to be clear—that the President was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr.”

Then, on July 31, The Washington Post broke the news that Trump himself “personally dictated” the July 8 statement issued by his son.

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Donald Trump

On August 1. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “[President Trump] certainly didn’t dictate [the statement] but he—like I said, he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do.”

On June 2, 2018, Trump’s lawyers drafted a memo to Special Counsel Robert Mueller: “You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.

“His son then followed up by making a full public disclosure regarding the meeting, including his public testimony that there was nothing to the meeting and certainly no evidence of collusion.” 

On June 3, Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani said on “Meet the Press”: “I think [Sekulow] was uninformed at the time just like I was when I came into the case. He was just in the case. This is a point that maybe wasn’t clarified in terms of recollection and his understanding of it.”

Then, on June 15, Trump, in a White House press conference, said: “It’s irrelevant. It’s a statement to the New York Times—the phony, failing New York Times…That’s not a statement to a high tribunal of judges.” 

Almost two months later, on August 5, Trump tweeted: “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

Thus, by Donald Trump’s own admission, a secret meeting “about the adoption of Russian children” has become “a meeting to get information on an opponent.”

THE KGB COMES TO THE WHITE HOUSE: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on July 26, 2018 at 12:08 am

More than a year and a half after taking office, President Donald Trump remains haunted by “the Russian connection.”   

Throughout 2016, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) found numerous ties between officials of the Trump Presidential campaign and Russian Intelligence agents.  

And many of those he has appointed to office have strong ties to the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One of these was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In 2013, as the chief executive of ExxonMobil, he was presented with the 2013 Order of Friendship award. He had just signed deals with the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft. Its chief, Igor Sechin, is a loyal Putin lieutenant.

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Rex Tillerson

Another such official is Attorney General Jeff Sessions. During the 2016 campaign, Sessions—then serving as a surrogate for Donald Trump’s campaign—twice spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

But during his Senate nomination hearings, Sessions denied that he had had “communications with the Russians” during the campaign.  

The discovery of numerous contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian Intelligence agents led the FBI to investigate Russia’s efforts to subvert the 2016 Presidential election. That investigation is still ongoing.

So did the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

On March 30, 2017, Clinton Watts, an expert on cyber warfare, testified before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. As part of his testimony, he presented a prepared statement on “Disinformation: A Primer In Russian Active Measures And Influence Campaigns.” 

Image result for Images of the seal of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

FROM WATTS’ STATEMENT: Russia certainly seeks to promote Western candidates sympathetic to their worldview and foreign policy objectives. But winning a single election is not their end goal.

Russian Active Measures hope to topple democracies….from the inside out [by] creating political divisions….

[Their ultimate goals are]  the dissolution of the European Union and the break up of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO).  

Achieving these two victories against the West will allow Russia to reassert its power globally and pursue its foreign policy objectives bilaterally through military, diplomatic and economic aggression.

On July 22, 2016, Wikileaks released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments hacked from computers of the highest-ranking officials of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Early reports traced the leak to Russian hackers. 

On July 27, at a press conference in Doral, Florida, Trump declared: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing—I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”  

This was nothing less than treason—calling upon a foreign power, hostile to the United States, to interfere in its Presidential election.  

On numerous occasions, Trump has fiercely denied any Russian connections. For example:  

July 27, 2016: “I mean I have nothing to do with Russia. I don’t have any jobs in Russia. I’m all over the world but we’re not involved in Russia.”

January 11, 2017: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” 

February 7, 2017: “I don’t know [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy.”

Yet, in 2008, Donald Trump, Jr. said at a New York real estate conference: “In terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.  Say, in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo, and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

And Trump’s son, Eric, has been quoted as saying in 2014: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.”

The Moscow Project is an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Its objective: “Analyzing the facts behind Trump’s collusion with Russia and communicating the findings to the public.”

According to its March 21, 2018 report (updated on July 10): “In total, we have learned of 80 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives, including at least 23 meetings.

“And we know that at least 24 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisors were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them….

“The Trump campaign issued at least 15 blanket denials of contacts with Russia, all of which have been proven false.”   

Members of the Trump team who had contacts with Russians during the campaign or transition include:

  • Michael Cohen
  • Roger Stone
  • Donald Trump Jr.
  • Jeff Sessions
  • Paul Manafort
  • Jared Kushner
  • Carter Page
  • Michael Flynn
  • Erik Prince
  • George Papadopoulos
  • Anthony Scaramucci
  • Rick Gates 

Flynn and Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to making false statements about their contacts with Russians to investigators.

Manafort faces trial for money-laundering relating to his work for the government of Putin-supported government of Ukraine.  

In July, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller charged 12 officers of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, with crimes committed to the high-profile hacking and leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.

As trials begin and indicted men begin to sweat, expect more revelations to come.

THE KGB COMES TO THE WHITE HOUSE: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on July 25, 2018 at 12:09 am

On July 16, President Donald Trump attended a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

There he blamed American Intelligence agencies—such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—instead of Putin for Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election. 

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Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin in Helsinki

“Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016,” Associated Press Reporter Jonathan Lemire said to Trump. “Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?” 

Trump chose to attack Democrats and the FBI as partners in a conspiracy: “You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server, why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?  

“…Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying….

“I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server.”

Clinton Watts is a consultant and researcher on cyberwarfare. He has served as

  • An FBI Special Agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF);
  • The Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC); and
  • As a consultant to the FBI’s Counter Terrorism Division (CTD) and National Security Branch (NSB). 

In a statement he prepared for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Watts outlined cyberwarfare measures that Russia used to subvert the 2016 Presidential campaign. 

He delivered this on March 30. 2017. Part of this reads as follows: 

Through the end of 2015 and start of 2016, the Russian influence system….began pushing themes and messages seeking to influence the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election.

Russia’s overt media outlets and covert trolls sought to sideline opponents on both sides of the political spectrum with adversarial views toward the Kremlin. The final months leading up to the election have been the predominate focus of Russian influence discussions to date.

Image result for Images of Clinton Watts

Clinton Watts

However, Russian Active Measures were in full swing during both the Republican and Democratic primary season and may have helped sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to Russian interests long before the field narrowed. 

The final piece of Russia’s modern Active Measures surfaced in the summer of 2016 as hacked materials from previous months were strategically leaked.

On 22 July 2016, Wikileaks released troves of stolen communications from the Democratic National Committee and later batches of campaign emails. Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks revealed hacked information from a host of former U.S. government officials throughout July and August 2016.

For the remainder of the campaign season, this compromising material powered the influence system Russia successfully constructed in the previous two years.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump—as the Republican nominee for President—steadfastly refused to acknowledge the efforts of Vladimir Putin’s government to ensure his election:  

October 24, 2016: “I have nothing to do with Russia, folks, I’ll give you a written statement.” 

December 11, 2016 “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.” 

On December 16, 2016, then-FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. agreed with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House. 

Even after the release of this Intelligence statement, Trump continued to deny that Russia had played a role in his election. 

On February 16, 2017, as President, he tweeted: “The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!”

FROM WATTS’ STATEMENT: This pattern of Russian falsehoods and social media manipulation of the American electorate continued through Election Day and persists today.

Many of the accounts we watched push the false Incirlik story in July now focus their efforts on shaping the upcoming European elections, promoting fears of immigration or false claims of refugee criminality.  

They’ve not forgotten about the United States either. This past week, we observed social media campaigns targeting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan hoping to foment further unrest amongst U.S. democratic institutions, their leaders and their constituents. 

As we noted two days before the Presidential election in our article describing Russian influence operations, Russia certainly seeks to promote Western candidates sympathetic to their worldview and foreign policy objectives.

But winning a single election is not their end goal. Russian Active Measures hope to topple democracies through the pursuit of five complementary objectives: 

  1. Undermine citizen confidence in democratic governance;
  2. Foment and exacerbate divisive political fractures;
  3. Erode trust between citizens and elected officials and democratic institutions;
  4. Popularize Russian policy agendas within foreign populations;
  5. Create general distrust or confusion over information sources by blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

From these objectives, the Kremlin can crumble democracies from the inside out creating political divisions resulting in two key milestones:

  1. The dissolution of the European Union and 
  2. The break up of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO).

LESSONS IN DISLOYALTY—GOTTI AND TRUMP: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 12, 2018 at 12:04 am

President Donald Trump shares more than a few striking similarities with John Gotti, who, for five years, ruled as the boss of the most powerful Mafia family in the United States: The Gambino Family. 

Among those similarities: A complete lack of loyalty to anyone. 

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Donald Trump

Unknowingly speaking into an FBI electronic bug, Gotti charged that Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, his underboss, or second-in command, was too greedy. He also blamed him for the murders of three Mafiosi whom Gotti had ordered hit.

When Gravano learned of these slanders at a pretrial hearing, he agreed to testify against Gotti and other Mafiosi in exchange for a five-year prison sentence. 

And just as Gotti’s disloyalty ultimately destroyed him, the same may yet prove true for Trump.

Consider the case of attorney Michael Cohen.

  • An executive of the Trump Organization, Cohen acted as “Trump’s pit bull.” “If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like,” he told ABC News in 2011, “I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit.”
  • In 2015, a reporter for The Daily Beast asked Cohen about Ivana Trump’s charge (later recanted) that Trump had raped her while they were married. Cohen: “I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting.”
  • In 2016, while Trump was running for President, Cohen acted as the go-between for a $130,000 hush-money payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels. The reason: To prevent her from revealing a 2006 tryst she had had with Trump.  

In April 2018, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York began investigating Cohen. Charges reportedly include bank fraud, wire fraud and violations of campaign finance law.

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Michael Cohen

By IowaPolitics.com (Trump executive Michael Cohen 012) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On April 9, 2018, the FBI, executing a federal search warrant, raided Cohen’s office at the law firm of Squire Patton Boggs, as well as his home and his hotel room in the Loews Regency Hotel in New York City. Agents seized emails, tax and business records and recordings of phone conversations that Cohen had made.

Trump’s response: “Michael Cohen only handled a tiny, tiny fraction of my legal work.”  

Thus Trump undermined the argument of Cohen’s lawyers that he was the President’s personal attorney—and therefore everything Cohen did was protected by attorney-client privilege.

Then there’s Paul Manafort—a lobbyist, political consultant and lawyer.

  • He joined Trump’s  presidential campaign team in March 2016 and was campaign chairman from March to August 2016. He attended the Republican Convention in July, where Trump was officially nominated as the GOP candidate for President.
  • On June 9, 2016, Manafort, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and Donald Trump Jr. met with Russian Intelligence agents at Trump Tower. The reason: The Russians claimed to have “dirt” on Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In March, 2017, news broke that Manafort, in his work as a lobbyist, had represented Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The story fueled growing controversy over the Trump campaign’s documented ties to Russia,

Trump’s response: 

“The President was not aware of Paul’s clients from the last decade,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

Describing Manafort’s role as chairman of the Trump campaign, Spicer said that he “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” 

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Paul Manafort

An April 19, 2018 headline in Esquire magazine warned: “If the Water is Rising, Donald Trump Will Throw You Overboard.” 

The article read in part:

“No matter how long or how intimately you’ve known Donald Trump, you’re one news cycle away from being tossed overboard….

“An old friend becomes a needy acquaintance; a campaign chairman becomes someone you got from the temp agency; a national security adviser becomes a ‘volunteer.'” 

Trump’s desertion of his former allies places them in jeopardy—but it also endangers him.

Cohen wasn’t just Trump’s lawyer. He was his fixer, a man who made problems “go away” with threats and bribes. He knows many—if not most—of Trump’s darkest secrets.

And he may be preparing to reveal them.

In a recent off-camera interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Cohen warned: “I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy” if Trump or his attorneys try to discredit him.

And unlike Trump—who has repeatedly asserted that Russia didn’t interfere with the 2016 Presidential election—Cohen said he believed it did.

As for Manafort: He resigned as Trump’s campaign manager when news broke that he had received $12.7 million from then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Puttin lackey.

Given Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s focus on Trump’s ties to Russia, Manafort—through his own ties there—can deliver a mother-lode of secrets if he so desires.

Donald Trump now faces the dilemma—and possibly the same fate—of John “Teflon Don” Gotti: Faced with increasing evidence of his blatant criminality and possibly even treason, does he:

  • Stand by those whose secrets can destroy him? or
  • Throw them to the wolves, hoping they will still not betray him?

LESSONS IN DISLOYALTY—GOTTI AND TRUMP: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 11, 2018 at 12:11 am

On December 11, 1990, FBI agents and NYPD detectives raided the Ravenite Social Club in Manhattan.

They had arrest warrants for John Gotti, boss of the Gambino Mafia Family, and his two lieutenants: Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, his underboss, or second-in-command, and Frankie Locascio, his Consigliere, or adviser.

Gotti had become boss of the Gambino Family in December, 1985—by arranging the execution of its then-boss, Paul “Big Paul” Castellano, on December 16.

Since then, he had moved his headquarters from Queens to the Ravenite. And, like a king holding court, he had ordered all of his captains to report to him at the Ravenite once a week.  

Word quickly reached the FBI—and agents in vans shot video as they staked out Prince Street. 

Gotti had handed the FBI a mob organization chart.

Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.svg

FBI Seal

It was only a matter of time before the FBI’s Technical Surveillance Squad (TSS) breached the security of the Ravenite. 

In 1989, the TSS planted a hidden microphone in an apartment above the Ravenite where Gotti held his secret meetings. Tape recorders were running when he bragged that he had ordered three murders—and was running a criminal enterprise: The Gambino Mafia Family.

When he wasn’t bragging, Gotti was badmouthing virtually everyone—past and present—in the Mafia: Paul Castellano, Carlo Gambino, Vincent “The Chins” Gigante. And, most fatally, his own underboss: Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.

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John Gotti

On December 12, 1989, the electronic bug picked up the following conversation between Gotti and his Consigliere, or adviser, Frankie Locascio. 

The subject: The murders of three former Gambino Family mobsters: Robert “Deebee” DiBernardo, Louis Milito and Louis DiBono.  

DiBernardo had been murdered over Gravano’s objections. A fellow mobster had told Gotti that DiBernardo had made “subversive” comments behind Gotti’s back.

But that wasn’t the way Gotti told it.

GOTTI: “Deebee, did he ever talk subversive to you?”

LOCASCIO: “Never.”

GOTTI: “Never talked it to Angelo, never talked it to [Joseph Armone] either. I took Sammy’s word that he talked about me behind my back….I was in jail when I whacked him. I knew why it was being done. I done it anyway. I allowed it to be done anyway.”

Next Gotti focused on the murders of Louis Milito and Louis DiBono. Milito had been “whacked” for questioning Gotti’s judgment. And DiBono had been hit because he refused to answer a Gotti summons

But Gotti was determined to lay the blame on Gravano. He claimed that both men had been killed because Gravano had asked for permission to remove his business partners.

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Sammy “The Bull” Gravano

GOTTI: “Every time we get a partner that don’t agree with us, we kill him. [The] boss kills him. He kills him. He okays it. Says it’s all right, good.” 

And there was more: Gotti accused Gravano of excessive greed—and hoarding money for himself at the expense of the Family. 

GOTTI: “That’s Sammy….Every fucking time I turn around there’s a new company poppin’ up. Building. Consulting. Concrete.  Where the hell did all these new companies come from?  Where did five new companies come from? 

“Paul [Castellano, the Gambino Family’s previous boss] sold the Family out for a fucking construction company. And that’s what Sammy’s doing now.  Three, four guys will wind up with every fuckin’ thing. And the rest of the Family looks like waste.” 

He accused Gravano of creating “a fuckin’ army inside an army,” adding: “You know what I’m saying, Frankie? I saw that shit and I don’t need that shit.” 

Gotti’s effort to rewrite history soon came back to haunt him.

At a pretrial hearing following the arrests of Gotti, Gravano and Locascio, prosecutors played the FBI’s tapes of Gotti’s unintended confessions—including his badmouthing of Gravano. 

Gravano suddenly realized that his future in the Mafia was nil. 

Gravano, Gotti and Locascio were all facing life imprisonment as targets of RICO—the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.

And if the Feds didn’t send him to prison, mob gunmen—sent by Gotti—would eventually get him. Gotti clearly planned to make him the fall guy—in court or in a coffin—for murders that Gotti himself had ordered

Only John Gotti was shocked when Gravano agreed to testify against him—and other Mafiosi—in exchange for a five-year prison sentence.

Gravano, as Gotti’s second-in-command, had literally been at the seat of power for five years.  He knew the secrets of the Gambino Family—and the other four Mafia families who ruled New York.

On April 2, 1992, a jury convicted Gotti of five murders, conspiracy to murder, loansharking, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, bribery and tax evasion. He drew a life sentence, without possibility of parole.  

Gotti was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, in virtual solitary confinement. He died of throat cancer on June 10, 2002, at the age of 61.    

Donald Trump resembles his fellow New Yorker, John Gotti, in more ways than he would like to admit: In his greed, arrogance, egomania, love of publicity and vindictiveness. 

So far, he has survived his lifelong hubris.  But he may not survive his lifelong dedication to “looking out for Number One.”

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