Daily Check-In 08/17/2018

Friday, August 17th, 2018 and the weekend

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

The Manafort Trial

It was a relatively slow day Friday.  The jury has not yet returned a verdict, so they left for the weekend.  It was at this point the screwiness began.

Judge Ellis mentioned that he’s received death threats over this trial, and now has the U.S. Marshall’s Office providing around the clock protection.  He also asked the jury to stay off of social media, but didn’t sequester them.  He did decide to not release the names of the jurors, so at least there’s that.

Of course, the Dotard opened his lardhole and talked about how Manafort was a “good guy” and Manafort’s lawyers thanked him for that comment.  This is borderline jury tampering.

Hopefully the judge in the DC trial will learn from this case.

 

Papadopoulos

Not only did Papadopoulos lie to investigators, the memo says, he lied repeatedly, after the agents informed him that doing so would be a “federal offense” and that the investigation was a matter of great importance. He falsely said “at least a dozen” times that Mifsud told him of Russia’s “dirt” on Clinton in Feb. 27, before he joined the Trump campaign, when in fact Mifsud had reached out to him in March 2016, after he had signed on as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign. (It was, Papadopoulos said, “a very strange coincidence” to be informed of the “dirt” before his association with the campaign.) He also downplayed the extent and subject of his communications with Mifsud and the Russian woman, falsely giving investigators the impression that he did not believe the two to have high-level connections to the Russian government. And when asked if he had met with any Russian nationals—or, amusingly, anyone “with a Russian accent”—he lied and did not tell the FBI of his communications with the Russian close to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Papadopoulos told these lies in a voluntary January 2017 meeting with FBI agents at the Chicago field office, the memo contends. When he met again with the FBI in February 2017, he did not admit that he had misled the agents. Indeed, he sought to further cover his tracks, deactivated his Facebook account—which documented his communications with Mifsud and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contact—and “obtained a new phone.”

The memo also makes clear that Papadopoulos’s lies were not harmless; they “were intended to harm the investigation, and did so.” Most importantly, his dissembling prevented the FBI from detaining or arresting Mifsud in Washington, D.C., in the winter of 2017. Mifsud subsequently left the United States, according to the memo, and has not returned.

The government has recommended that George Papadopoulos serve 6 months for his reluctance in cooperating with the investigation, and that his lies and actions harmed the investigation.  Good. (Cooperating Witnesses).

This information gives all of us a clue as to what George did, how he was caught, how much he cooperated, and why he’s been acting like he has.

First, it’s time for a mea culpa.  I reported that Papadopoulos was cooperating to large extent based off of the reporting I saw at the time.  That reporting was based off of sources that were either misinformed or exaggerated George’s cooperation.  It’s time to set the record straight.

George Papadopoulos, the former Foreign Policy Adviser to the Trump Presidential Campaign, only cooperated begrudgingly, and only to protect himself.  His assistance was more reluctant that willing.  Even after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, he’s still trying to play around by withholding information from the FBI, or only trying to confirm information.  His actions also led to “The Professor” Mifsud escaping the country and going to ground in Europe.

I also enjoyed the way the Justice Department called George’s wife a liar.

 

Roger Stone

Why did a super-PAC run by longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone pay nearly $5,000 to the mother of Kristin Davis, the so-called “Manhattan Madam,” in July 2016? This may be a question that special counsel Robert Mueller seeks to answer as he zeroes in on Stone in his ongoing investigation of possible coordination between Trump allies and Russia.

One of the more colorful characters to enter the Trump-Russia scandal, Davis once ran a high-priced prostitution ring and currently splits a two-floor Harlem apartment with Stone, who is the godfather of her son. Last week, Davis appeared before a Washington, DC, grand jury convened by Mueller to answer questions about Stone that she says focused on “whether or not any collusion happened with Russia.”

Over the years, Stone has employed Davis to do web design, schedule his travel, and perform other administrative tasks, but he claims she did not work for him in 2016 and would therefore have no knowledge of any of the subjects Mueller is probing. “She knows of no Russian collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal activity on my part in connection with the presidential election or otherwise,” Stone said in a CNN interview last week. “In the time period that’s most under focus, 2015 and 2016, she was not working for me. She came back to work for me in January of ’17, although I think I paid her in December of 2016.”

In the same filings, a California personal injury lawyer, Paul Jensen, said he had established Stop the Steal. Jensen is a longtime Stone associate. In 2007, describing himself as Stone’s lawyer, Jensen released a letter addressed to the FBI in which Stone made a much-cited but never verified claim that he had learned from “a social contact in an adult-themed club” that Spitzer wore knee-length black socks during trysts with prostitutes. The FBI never actually received the letter, the Atlantic reported.

Stop the Steal and the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness were closely connected. In April 2016, Stone’s super-PAC gave Stop the Steal $50,000. On July 12, 2016, Stop the Steal donated $63,000 to Stone’s super-PAC.

The Committee to Restore America’s Greatness ultimately reported raising$587,000 in the 2016 cycle, but the group spent just $16,000 on independent political expenditures, buying two pro-Trump billboards. The super-PAC, however, paid more than $100,000 to Jensen’s law firm, which specializes in personal injury cases, for unspecified “legal and accounting” and “consulting” services. Jensen declined to respond to questions. More than $130,000 wentto Citroen Associates for “voter fraud research and documentation” and “research services consulting.” Florida records indicate that Citroen’s president is John Kakanis, a former driver and social media aide for Stone. Mueller has called Kakanis before the grand jury.

The Committee to Restore America’s Greatness also paid $12,000 to a public relations firm, Drake Ventures, that is run by Stone and was registered by his wife. Stone had previously claimed he would not be paid by the committee. Citroen and Drake Ventures share a mailing address in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with Stone Cold Truth Inc., another Stone business. According to the super-PAC’s FEC filings, the payment to Stone’s PR firm was for “consulting.”

I’m looking forward to reading the Stone Indictment when it comes out.  I think these pieces of information are building to Roger being indicted at first for semi-related sex and financial crimes either at the same time as the Russian actions, or right before.

 

Maria Butina

It’s not known why she was moved, but as it was said when Manafort was moved to that prison, but they do have experience with high-profile prisoners. (Daily Check-In 07/12/2018)

 

Broidy

Elliot Broidy, the former Deputy Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee, is under investigation for his role in trying to end the DOJ’s 1MDB investigation, as well as other various pay to play bribery schemes. ( Daily Check-In 03/05/2018).

Broidy, a former senior member of the Republican Party, resigned from that post after news broke that he was involved in a hush money scheme with Michael Cohen to pay Shera Blanchard  (Daily Check-In 04/16/2018).

 

McGahn

White House Counsel Don McGahn has spent more than 30 hours voluntarily interviewing with Special Counselor Mueller’s team.  That’s a lot of hours, and a lot of talking.

Let me clear something up.  Don McGahn is not Trump’s lawyer, he’s the lawyer for the White House and the Office of the President.  That is a very important distinction.  McGahn’s job is to provide legal guidance for the office and staff, not for the President himself.  McGahn’s work for Trump only extends to his professional role, not past that.  Any talk of McGahn being a “rat” just paints Trump as an even bigger criminal, and will likely be People’s Exhibit 4657986554987.

McGahn has known for a long time that Trump’s lawyers wanted to turn him into a scapegoat.  They basically said as much during their lunch within earshot of the NY Times office (Daily Check-In 9/18/2017).  McGahn also knows a little about history, and knows what happened to Nixon’s White House Counsel.  He does not want to go to prison, especially for this clusterfuck of a White House.

Another thing to note, McGahn’s statements could have been protected by Executive Privilege, but it’s too late for that now.  If Trump tried to exert that now, it would be too late, as everything said for the last YEAR AND A HALF IS ON THE RECORD WITH THE SPECIAL COUNSELOR.

Finally, this story has Maggie in the byline.  The “anonymous source inside the White House” are almost certainly Trump himself.  He calls her up to bitch about what’s going on, she writes it down, works with other journalists to verify or flesh it out into a different story, publish, get bitched at by Trump for “Fake News”, then rinse and repeat.  I’m still not sure whether they have an agreement to hold stories or not, but always question the timing of a Maggie Haberman story, and what else happened that day.  (Daily Check-In 01/25/2018Daily Check-In 07/26/2018)

 

To be fair, we want the Mueller probe to wrap up because the longer Trump’s in office, the more damage he causes and the longer it will take to fix things.

 

TAPES AND NDA’S

New York Supreme Court Judge Arlene Bluth ruled Thursday that errors in the wording of a nondisclosure agreement between President Donald Trump’s team and a former campaign staffer make it much smaller in scope, thus not preventing the case from going to open court, according to a Thursday Yahoo News report.

The initial lawsuit was filed by Jessica Denson, a former campaign aide who said that she experienced “harassment and sexual discrimination” while working on the 2016 bid. Per Yahoo, she is suing for $25 million for being subjected to “severe and pervasive slander, aggravated harassment, attempted theft, cyberbullying, and sexual discrimination and harassment” at the hands of staffers including Camilo Sandoval, her supervisor then and the current acting chief information officer at the VA.

Campaign lawyers countered by demanding $1.5 million in damages, alleging that she broke the signed agreement by publishing “confidential information and disparaging statements.” They then moved to take the case to private arbitration, claiming that she agreed to that when she signed the contract. As opposed to a normal trial, records from arbitration can be sealed.

Bluth ruled that, due to various wording errors and incorrect phrasing in the NDA, it did not prevent Denson from taking her case public.

This could have far-ranging effects, as the NDA Denson signed seems to be similar to the one Trump uses in the White House and at the Trump Organization, along with his campaign. The ruling could be especially topical, as the Trump administration is currently trying to silence former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman by claiming that she violated the terms of the NDA.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

 

Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman reportedly states in her book that she was offered a monthly salary of $15,000 for signing a nondisclosure agreement. Finance records obtained by ABC News appear to back this claim.

According to the network, federal election filings show a number of former Trump aides have received monthly payments of around $15,000. The money comes from either the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, or the America First PAC, but it’s not clear if the payments are in exchange for the former aides’ silence.

Those receiving payments—either directly or through firms they manage—include former director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller, former personal assistant to the president John McEntee, former digital media director of the Trump campaign Brad Parscale, and former director of advertising for the Trump campaign Gary Coby, ABC reports. The salaries are listed for “security services,” “payroll,” “digital consulting [and] management consulting,” and “media services [and] consulting,” respectively.

Omarosa is angling herself as a whistleblower, which will offer her some legal protections.  Plus, with Judge Bluth’s ruling on the limits of the NDA, things are about to get a whole hell of a lot weirder.

 

COHEN

 

TRUMP THE RUSSIAN ASSET

Security Clearances

 

Military Parade

 

 

 

TRAITOR TOTS

Jim Jordan

The Education Department’s Office for Civil rights is investigating how Ohio State University officials handled complaints against a former university doctor accused of sexually abusing athletes, in a case that’s also drawn allegations that a Republican congressman turned a blind eye as Ohio State wrestling coach.

Multiple former Ohio State wrestlers have accused Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and former Ohio State wrestling coach, of being among the faculty members who ignored inappropriate behavior by the physician, Richard Strauss. Jordan, a leader of the House Freedom Caucus has denied those allegations, saying: “I never knew about any type of abuse … If I did, I would have done something about it.”

The Education Department confirmed the inquiry on Thursday. “I can confirm that in light of recent allegations made by former students concerning sexual abuse by former athletic team doctor Richard Strauss, OCR initiated a directed investigation on August 8, 2018,” Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said.

“This new Title IX investigation will examine the University’s handling of reports of sex-based incidents involving Dr. Strauss, including allegations that University employees knew or should have known about the sexual misconduct and allowed the abuse to continue.”

The federal probe was first reported by cleveland.com.

 

Rudy

Now that Rudy’s passed the Orwell Threshold, I would like to remind everyone that he claims that he was married to his cousin for ten years before finding out she was his cousin.

 

Rand Paul

Rand went full Kremlin.  Never go full Kremlin.

 

 

FIGHTING BACK

Brennan and Security Clearances

 

 

IMMIGRATION

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

Alex Jones

 

TRADE WAR AND ECONOMY

 

CORRUPTION, TRUMP STYLE

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

 

SCOTUS

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS

 

GOP: THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

Dave Wasserman, the Cook Political Report’s House analyst, says the most under-covered aspect of 2018 is that “a blue wave is obscuring a red exodus.” Republican House members are retiring at a startling clip —  a trend that senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told me earlier this year was worrying her more than any other trend affecting the midterms.

43 Republican members of the House are leaving.  43, out of the approximately 220 they currently hold.  That’s 43 races without an incumbent GOP candidate in a midterm election that is shaping up to be one of the most important in history.

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld Texas’ campus carry law, delivering another clear victory to the state in a longshot, long-running lawsuit brought by University of Texas at Austin professors opposed to the law.

In July 2016, three professors claimed that a 2015 state law that allows licensed gun-owners to carry concealed weapons into most public university buildings would have a “chilling effect” on free speech in their classrooms. But a federal district judge threw out their case in July 2017, saying the professors didn’t present any “concrete evidence to substantiate their fears.”

Accepting that logic and advancing it yet further, a three-judge panel on the appeals court this week rebuffed the professors’ free speech claim as well as two other constitutional challenges they had made.

Pedophile Priests

See, it’s not just the Catholics that get handsy, the Mormons do it too!!!!

Seriously, it’s not a matter of one religion over another, it’s a matter of abusing a position of trust and power, and the organized reaction against the victims each system executes to protect one of their own.  The game is the same, only the names are changed.  A priest, bishop, scout master, pastor, or teacher uses their position of power to commit heinous crimes, then the organization attempts to silence or discredit the victim and their support network.  They’ll attack them into silence, shun them from their community, and do everything in their power to keep the crimes secret or make people think it’s all a lie.  That’s why things like the #MeToo movement have taken hold.  We’re reaching a breaking point in our society where the victims of these crimes are getting together to speak out against their abusers.

 

ENVIRONMENT AND SCIENCE

 

ELECTION 2018

O’Rourke said, “Texas is one of the most gerrymandered states in the union.”

There are many ways to analyze this question, and depending on the method, the rankings vary a bit. But studies that look at the intersection of geographical compactness and partisan voting history consistently place Texas between fifth and seventh on the list of most gerrymandered states in the nation. Since O’Rourke called Texas “one of the most” gerrymandered states, such studies support his point.

We rate his statement Mostly True.

 

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

 

RUMOR MILL

As it turned out, though, Smith was neither a former Delta Force soldier or a malevolent CIA operative. In fact, evidence suggests that the Twitter account beloved by Trump haters was in fact operated by Justin Hendrix, a Seattle gamer who regularly made pro-Trump comments online. (Hendrix didn’t respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment. He’s not the same person as NYC Media Lab executive director Justin Hendrix, another prominent figure in anti-Trump Twitter).

The @GuardianRover Twitter account was deleted in early August, after one Twitter user hinted that they were closing in on the identity of the person behind the account. Despite the success of Smith’s Twitter account, cracks regularly appeared in his supposed national security bona fides. He regularly referred to the White House as “Whiskey Hotel,” an official-sounding codename that doesn’t appear to have actually existed before it was coined for a 2009 Call of Duty video game. Smith also promoted the debunked idea that ISIS terrorists used digital bullet holes in Call of Duty to communicate with each other.

I’ll be honest, I followed that account for a while, but as with all of the accounts I follow and report on, I remained skeptical of each one, even the accounts that have a strong correlation like Countercheckist or Louise Mensch.  In fact, it was those two that pointed to @GuardianRover not being what he claimed.  There was enough fighting between them to point to something not adding up.  Also, he came off as a bit of a dick sometimes.

I did a quick search through my archives for any tweets I linked to by him, but I couldn’t find anything.  And by quick search, I mean I spent about a minute or two looking.  Nothing obvious came up, but I’m not ruling anything out.

Once again, and I want to stress this, view everything skeptically and critically.  Even me.  Especially me.  Part of my credibility is that I refuse to make any claims without some type of evidence to back me up, and I also refuse to insist that anyone trust me just because I said so.  It is difficult to earn trust, but easy to lose it, and the fastest way to lose it is to abuse it.  If you trust what I write, it’s because I’ve earned it, not because I said so.

We are in a digital battlefield, and some people will claim to be things they aren’t.  I report on some of that battle.  I feel that it’s important, especially as this war progresses.

 

That’s it for Friday and the weekend.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

 

 

 

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