Daily Check-In 08/21/2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018.  Just another Tuesday.  Nothing crazy happened today…

Oh, what was that?

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

The Manafort Tax Trial: Day 16

MANFORT FOUND GUILTY ON 8 COUNTS

Paul Manafort, former Campaign Manager for President Donald J. Trump, was convicted of 8 felony counts covering tax evasion, filing false forms for the IRS, and not reporting foreign bank accounts on his taxes.  The jury was hung on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared a mistrial for those counts.  It is not clear yet whether or not the government will decide to pursue those ten counts in another trial.  Manafort is scheduled for another trial in September.

8 out of 18 might not sound great, but it’s actually pretty good news.  We’re not talking about a QB’s completions and attempts stat line, we’re talking about a jury coming to a unanimous decision on whether or not Paul Manafort committed these crimes.  And he did.  1 guilty verdict out of 18 would make him a convicted felon.  8 guilty verdicts still makes him a felon.

Also, he’s still looking at about the same punishment for 8 as he is 18.  It will be up to the judge to determine the exact punishment, but the sentencing guidelines only require a preponderance of guilt, not guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  If Judge Ellis feels that there is sufficient evidence that Paul Manafort committed the other 10 crimes, those will be taken into account during his sentencing.

 

Flynn

In even more bad news for Trump, Michael Flynn’s sentencing has been pushed back… again.  This could mean several things, but the consensus is that he’s cooperating with the Special Counselor and still providing him with valuable information.  Of course, we made the same assumption about Papadopoulos, and look how that worked out (Daily Check-In 08/17/2018).

 

McGahn

Every time Trump worries about a lawyer screwing him over, an angel gets their wings.

 

Steele Dossier

The former MI6 officer Christopher Steele has won a legal battle in the United States against three Russian oligarchs who sued him over allegations made in his dossier about the Trump campaign and its links with Moscow.

The oligarchs – Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan – claimed that Steele and his intelligence firm, Orbis, defamed them in the dossier, which was leaked and published in early 2017. The Russians own stakes in Moscow-based Alfa Bank. All are billionaires.

On Monday, a judge in the District of Columbia, Anthony C Epstein, upheld a motion by Steele to have the oligarchs’ case thrown out. Epstein did not determine whether the dossier – which Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed as “fake” – was “accurate or not accurate”.

But the judge concluded that it was covered by the US first amendment, which protects free speech. He ruled that the oligarchs had failed to prove a key part of their case: that Steele knew that some information in the dossier was inaccurate, and had acted “with reckless disregard as to its falsity”.

The ruling is a piece of good news for Steele, who has maintained silence in the face of a mountain of abuse from Trump and his enraged supporters. This month, the president called Steele a “lowlife” on Twitter and described the dossier as “phony”, “discredited” and paid for by “Crooked Hillary”.

More good news coming from this investigation.  I wonder if anything else happened today…

 

 

COHEN PLEADS GUILTY TO 8 FELONY COUNTS

Michael Cohen, formerly the personal attorney to Donald J. Trump, and until June (Daily Check-In 06/20/2018) the Deputy Finance Chair of the Republican National Committee, pled guilty to 8 felonies in Federal Court in Manhattan.

The Defendant
1. From in or about 2007 through in or about January

2017, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, was an attorney and employeeof a Manhattan-based real estate company (the “Company”). COHENheld the title of “Executive Vice President” and “Special Counsel”to the owner of the Company (“Individual-1”).

2. In or about January 2017, COHEN left the Companyand began holding himself out as the “personal attorney” to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Fuck you, President Individual-1.

That’s just the opening two paragraphs of the indictment.  Let’s see where this goes from here.

The indictment includes the following charges:

  • 5 counts of Evasion of Assessment of Income Tax Liability for tax years 2012 through 2016.
  • 1 count of False Statements to a Bank to get his Home Equity Line of Credit increased, which he then used to pay off Stormy Daniels.
  • 1 count of Causing an Unlawful Corporate Contribution for the Karen McDougal payoff.
  • 1 count of Excessive Campaign Contribution for the Stormy Daniels payoff.

The first 5 counts are him not paying over a million dollars in back taxes.  Charge 6 was lying to a bank to get the money to pay off Stormy Daniels.  An argument could, and likely will be made by the Right Wing Media, that the first several counts were because Cohen was a slime ball and these weren’t tied to the campaign.  That argument requires a lot mental gymnastics, and I’m not that limber.

Counts 7 and 8 are where things get REAL interesting.  Let’s start with Count 7.

42. From in or about June 2016, up to and including inor about October 2016, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, knowingly and willfully caused a corporation to make a contribution and expenditure, aggregating $25,000 and more during the 2016 calendar year, to the campaign of a candidate for President of the United States, to wit, COHEN caused Corporation-1 to make and advance a $150,000 payment to Woman-1, including through the promise of reimbursement, so as to ensure that Woman-1 did not publicize damaging allegations before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election.

Cohen worked with Corporation-1 AMI, owners of the National Enquirer) to pay off Woman-1 (Karen McDougal). (Daily Check-In 01/12/2018Daily Check-In 03/16/2018Daily Check-In 03/22/2018).

44. On or about October 27, 2016, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, knowingly and willfully made and caused to be made a contribution to Individual-1, a candidate for Federal office, and his authorized political committee in excess of the limits of the Election Act, which aggregated $25,000 and more in calendar year 2016, and did so by making and causing to be made an expenditure, in cooperation, consultation, and concert with, and at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign, to wit, COHEN made a $130,000 payment to Woman-2 to ensure that she did not publicize damaging allegations before the 2016 presidential election andthereby influence that election.

Cohen made an illegal campaign donation to Individual-1 (Trump), with the knowledge of multiple people on the campaign, paid Woman-2 (Stormy Daniels) so that she would keep quiet about an affair her and Individual-1 had years earlier.  This was done specifically to help Individual-1 during the election. (Daily Check-In 02/14/2018Daily Check-In 01/12/2018).

That was just the indictment.  Cohen’s testimony while under oath was even more damning.  When asked to describe the events in his own words, he said that he made this  payment AT THE INSTRUCTION OF THE CANDIDATE.  When the judge asked Cohen if he knew this was illegal, he said yes, and that he still did it at the instruction of the candidate.

Holy shit.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is the beginning of the end of the Trump Presidency.  From this moment on, he is personally tied to felonious behavior executed at his instruction by people working for him.

Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America, is as of this moment an unindicted co-conspirator of a criminal investigation.

By the way, Cohen’s lawyer said that Cohen has a lot of things that Mueller would love to hear, and that there is no way that Cohen would accept a pardon from Trump.

I wonder if anything else happened today…

 

TRAITOR TOTS

Duncan Hunter indicted on using campaign funds for personal use

Really?  Another fucking indictment?

When this story broke, I had to check a few places just to make sure this wasn’t some kind of joke or hoax.  It’s like “what else is going to happen?”

Duncan Hunter, Republican representative from CA-50, was indicted along with his wife Margaret for using more than $250,000 of campaign funds for personal expenses.  They lived WAAAYYY out of their means, and used the campaign donations as their own piggy bank.

Duncan is the son of former California congressman Duncan Hunter, who also represented the same district for many years.  It was his father who helped get his donors to support his son.

If the story of a congressman getting indicted for shady white collar crimes, Chris Collins was arrested a couple weeks ago. (Daily Check-In 08/08/2018). Collins and Hunter were the first two members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump and formed the Trump Caucus.  Seriously, these two men were the first to endorse Trump for POTUS, and they’re both indicted within 2 weeks of each other.

Naturally, Duncan blamed his campaign manager for this fraud, and has so far refused to step down from his re-election bid.  I give it a week or two before he feels the need to suspend his campaign so he can “spend time with his family.”

 

TRUMP THE RUSSIAN ASSET

The President of the United States is now, formally, implicated in a criminal conspiracy to mislead the American public in order to influence an election. Were he not President, Donald Trump himself would almost certainly be facing charges. This news came in what must be considered the most damaging single hour of a deeply troubled Presidency.

On Tuesday morning, it was still possible to believe that Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort might be exonerated and that his longtime attorney Michael Cohen would only face charges for crimes stemming from his taxicab business. Such events would have supported Trump’s effort to portray the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” perpetrated by overzealous partisan prosecutors. By late afternoon, though, Cohen, the President’s longtime adviser, fixer, and, until recently, personal attorney, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. At precisely the same moment, Manafort was learning of his fate: guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud, with the jury undecided on ten other counts.

The question can no longer be whether the President and those closest to him broke the law. That is settled. Three of the people closest to Trump as he ran for and won the Presidency have now pleaded guilty or have been convicted of significant federal crimes: Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. The question now becomes far narrower and, for Trump, more troubling: What is the political impact of a President’s criminal liability being established in a federal court? How will Congress respond? And if Congress does not act, how will voters respond in the midterm elections?

Almost.  This trial was about Manafort not paying his taxes.  The trial that starts next month gets into collusion.

 

Clearances

 

ATTACKS ON THE ELECTION

 

FIGHTING BACK

 

IMMIGRATION

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

TRADE WAR AND ECONOMY

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

Journalist April Ryan said in a new interview that the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should cover the costs for Ryan’s security detail amid death threats from people who are critical of her coverage of the Trump administration.

“I’ve had some people wait for me outside the White House,” Ryan told The Hollywood Reporter. “There is a concern now. I mean, I’ve had death threats, I’ve had craziness, so I have a real concern.”

“Do I have a bodyguard?” Ryan said. “Yes, I do. Am I paying for it? Yes, I am. And, I think [Sanders] should have to pay for it, especially if she’s stirring it up with her boss.”

“I did not sign up for this. I was just doing a job,” Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, added.

Ryan said months ago that she received death threats after she asked Sanders if President Trump had considered resigning.

“They’re angry. I’ve been getting death threats and we’ve been calling the FBI and I mean, I put one on social media and this is real,” Ryan said at the time to CNN, where she is a contributor.

 

FIXING THE INTERNET

 

SCOTUS

 

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS

 

Omarosa

 

GOP: THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

Trump has surrounded himself with Wall Street alumni “who have behaved with weapons-grade venality … and Master of the Dick affects. They were there … only for the tax bill. Nothing else ever mattered to any of them.”

The Trump administration has been “a hotbed of remarkably obvious pay-to-play and crony capitalist game-playing. How obvious? Think 1970s Times Square hooker on the corner obvious … The degree to which this president has monetized the presidency for the direct benefit of himself, his soft-jawed offspring, and his far-flung empire of bullshit makes the Teapot Dome scandal look like a warm-up act in the Corruption Olympics.”

I listened to this book last week, and I highly recommend it.  Rick Wilson has a way with words and phrases that I am honestly jealous of.

For a moment, I thought that maybe, just maybe, this was the beginning of a local upswell of Republicans who wanted to put the corruption aside and reclaim their conservative values, and I was hopeful for a moment.  Then I finished the sentence.  Nope, just a bunch of racist assholes who don’t think anyone darker than a latte should be in this country.

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Washington –Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is targeting Russian actors’ efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions.  This action was taken pursuant to authority provided under Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,” as amended, and as codified by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), to designate two entities and two Russian individuals in order to counter attempts to evade U.S. sanctions.

“The Treasury Department is disrupting Russian efforts to circumvent our sanctions,” said Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury.  “Today’s action against these deceptive actors is critical to ensure that the public is aware of the tactics undertaken by designated parties and that these actors remain blocked from the U.S. financial system.”

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

DESIGNATED ENTITIES AND INDIVIDUALS

The individuals and entities identified below are being designated based on the actions they undertook for Divetechnoservices, a Russian entity sanctioned on June 11, 2018 pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for procuring a variety of underwater equipment and diving systems for Russian government agencies, to include the Federal Security Service (FSB).  The FSB was sanctioned on December 28, 2016, pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, and on March 15, 2018, pursuant to CAATSA Section 224.

Vela-Marine Ltd. was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having attempted to act or purported to act for or on behalf of Divetechnoservices.  As of July 2018, Divetechnoservices utilized Vela-Marine Ltd. in an attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

Marina Igorevna Tsareva (Tsareva) was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having acted for or on behalf of Divetechnoservices and Vela Marine Ltd.  Tsareva has worked as an Import Manager for Divetechnoservices and attempted to help Divetechnoservices circumvent U.S. sanctions through Vela-Marine Ltd.

Anton Aleksandrovich Nagibin (Nagibin) was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having acted for or on behalf of Divetechnoservices.  As of July 2018, Nagibin was a Divetechnoservices’ employee involved in helping the company attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

Lacno S.R.O. was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, Divetechnoservices.  As of May 2018, Lacno S.R.O., which is based in Slovakia, attempted to facilitate a payment for over $20,000 on behalf of Divetechnoservices.  As of April 2018, Divetechnoservices planned to utilize Lacno S.R.O. to purchase equipment.

Identifying information on the individuals and entities designated today.

 

ENVIRONMENT

Perhaps the summer of 2018 will be remembered as the one that foretold the cataclysm. Maybe the cataclysm has already arrived. Nearly every day, there is some new bulletin about a raging wildfire or a ferocious typhoon or a biblical flood. Often, it’s buried by news of a Presidential Porn Star Payoff, or a tape from Omarosa. But it’s still happening.

The American West is still on fire, even if we refuse to pay attention—except when the president is doling out moronic advice on how to deal with it. Large portions of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent spent the summer drowning in floodwater. Greece, too, spent the month of July on fire. Europe fried in a heatwave, as portions of the British Isles recorded their highest-ever June temperatures, Sweden had its hottest July in 260 years, and the temperature in Siberia ticked up to 90 degrees.

It’s in that vein that Tuesday’s news arrives, a startling report in The Guardian that even the portion of Arctic ice that scientists have long thought the most secure has already begun to falter:

The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break up, opening waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen, even in summer. This phenomenon – which has never been recorded before – has occurred twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heatwave in the northern hemisphere … The sea off the north coast of Greenland is normally so frozen that it was referred to, until recently, as “the last ice area” because it was assumed that this would be the final northern holdout against the melting effects of a hotter planet.

While the most immediate worry around melting ice is rising sea levels that will endanger coastal communities, there’s growing concern among scientists that it will also fuel feedback loops that accelerate warming. For instance, ice is lightly colored and reflective. But as it melts, it reveals the darker-colored land or ocean water below. Those surfaces will absorb more heat, accelerating the rate at which nearby ice melts and sea levels rise. As the permafrost melts in Siberia and elsewhere, it will release methane—a gas that does not linger as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide but is about 30 times more powerful in trapping heat.

 

ELECTION 2018

Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner, the Republican candidate to unseat Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in the Keystone State, joked Friday that the Russian government would help him win this November.

In a recording obtained by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and provided to HuffPost, Wagner is heard cracking the joke to a crowd in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

“By the way, the Russians are going to help me with Tom Wolf,” Wagner says, prompting a round of laughter and applause from the audience. “If I have to use Paul Manafort, I will.”

 

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

 

MY FAVORITE HEADLINE OF THE DAY

 

 

RUMOR MILL

 

That’s it for Tuesday.  I don’t have a clue where we go from here.  This is one of those historic, game-changing days.  I see a few paths, but none of them are set, and all of them end with Trump out of office by 2020, if not sooner.

If the Republicans in Congress weren’t corrupt shits that are complicit in their own crimes against this country, we would see impeachment proceedings begin by the end of the day.  Hell, even in a special session, Paul Ryan would put out a press release saying that the first thing that Congress should do when they return in September would be to debate Articles of Impeachment in the Judiciary Committee.  That would the be best-case scenario for the Republican Party.  Get Trump out of office before the elections, know that you’re going to take a pounding in the polls but get ready for a fight in 2020, and hope Mike Pence doesn’t shit the bed as a President.

They won’t do that.

Instead, I don’t think they’ll do anything until the Mueller report on Obstruction of Justice is complete, and even then they’ll pussyfoot around the subject.  They’ll do whatever they can to keep Trump in the White House until after the congressional session ends and the next Congress is sworn in.  It’ll be around that time that major damaging information about Mike Pence will come out, and by that point both the President and VP will be looking at Impeachment or Resignation.

It’s a long shot, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see President Nancy Pelosi by mid-2019.   That’s how fucked up this timeline is.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

6 thoughts on “Daily Check-In 08/21/2018

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