Daily Check-In 10/08/2018

Monday, October 8th, and the weekend.

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

I don’t normally start these posts with a post from Countercheckist, but…

 

Ok, take a deep breath, cause we’re going down a rabbit hole.

One remarkable aspect of Foer’s story involved the way that the Trump domain had stopped working. On September 21st, he wrote, the Times had delivered potential evidence of communications to B.G.R., a Washington lobbying firm that worked for Alfa Bank. Two days later, the Trump domain vanished from the Internet. (Technically, its “A record,” which translates the domain name to an I.P. address, was deleted. If the D.N.S. is a phone book, the domain name was effectively decoupled from its number.) For four days, the servers at Alfa Bank kept trying to look up the Trump domain. Then, ten minutes after the last attempt, one of them looked up another domain, which had been configured to lead to the same Trump Organization server.

Max’s group was surprised. The Trump domain had been shut down after the Timescontacted Alfa Bank’s representatives—but before the newspaper contacted Trump. “That shows a human interaction,” Max concluded. “Certain actions leave fingerprints.” He reasoned that someone representing Alfa Bank had alerted the Trump Organization, which shut down the domain, set up another one, and then informed Alfa Bank of the new address.

Aven and Fridman have visited Washington less often since Trump took office. But Trump’s victory appeared to elevate Alfa Bank’s connections there—at least by association. Don McGahn, the White House counsel, came from Jones Day, one of the law firms that represent Alfa Bank in the United States. McGahn brought five Jones Day lawyers with him into the White House; six more were appointed to senior posts in the Administration. Jones Day has done work for businesses belonging to a long list of Russian oligarchs, including Oleg Deripaska, Viktor Vekselberg, and Alexander Mashkevich. The firm has also represented the Trump campaign in its dealings with Robert Mueller. For this reason, McGahn secured an ethics waiver that allows him to talk to his old firm when its clients have business before the U.S. government.

While Republicans in Congress have rejected the possibility of collusion, with some joining Trump in calling the Mueller inquiry a politically motivated “witch hunt,” a few Democrats have continued to pursue the matter. After Trump’s Inauguration, two Democratic senators who had reviewed the data assembled by Max’s group—Mark Warner and a colleague who requested anonymity—asked the F.B.I. for an assessment of any potential contacts between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization. The material was also brought to the attention of the C.I.A., which found it substantial enough to suggest that the F.B.I. investigate. In March, 2017, a Pennsylvania news outlet called Lancaster Online reported that F.B.I. agents had visited the offices of Listrak, the company that housed the Trump server. Ross Kramer, Listrak’s C.E.O., told me, “I gave them everything they asked for.”

Whatever the reason that the Trump domain vanished, Alfa Bank’s servers continued trying to look it up: Max’s group observed fifteen failed attempts that Friday, twenty-eight on Saturday, none on Sunday, ninety on Monday, twenty on Tuesday. Spectrum Health’s machine kept trying, too, in a weeklong spasm of activity that entailed thousands of seemingly automated lookups. Spectrum never succeeded in relocating the Trump server—but Alfa did. On the night of Tuesday, September 27th, ten minutes after the bank made its last failed attempt, it looked up the domain name trump1.contact-client.com—which was, it turned out, another route to the same Trump server.

Paul and Leto periodically went back to Max in the course of their research, interrogating his assumptions and asking for more information. In one tranche of data that he gave them, they noticed that a third entity, in addition to Alfa Bank and Spectrum Health, had been looking up the Trump domain: Heartland Payment Systems, a payments processor based in Princeton. Of the thirty-five hundred D.N.S. queries seen for the Trump domain, Heartland made only seventy-six—but no other visible entity made more than two. Heartland had a link to Alfa Bank, but a tenuous one. It had recently been acquired by Global Payments, which, in 2009, had paid seventy-five million dollars for United Card Services, Russia’s leading credit-card-processing company; two years later, United Card Services bought Alfa Bank’s credit-card-processing unit. (A spokesperson for Global Payments said that her company had never had any relationship with the Trump Organization or with Alfa Bank, and that its U.S. and Russia operations functioned entirely independently.)

Spectrum Health has a similarly indirect business tie to Alfa Bank. Richard DeVos’ father co-founded Amway, and his brother, Doug, has served as the company’s president since 2002. In 2014, Amway joined with Alfa Bank to create an “Alfa-Amway” loyalty-card program in Russia. But such connections are circumstantial at best; the DeVos family seems far more clearly linked to Trump than to Russia.

If Trump and Alfa Bank—as well as Spectrum Health and Heartland Payment Systems—were communicating, what might they have been talking about? Max and some of the other scientists I spoke to theorized that they may have been using the system to signal one another about events or tasks that had to be performed: money to be transferred, for instance, or data to be copied. “My guess is that, whenever someone wanted to talk, they would do a D.N.S. lookup and then route the traffic somewhere else,” Richard Clayton, of the Universityof Cambridge, said. Camp also speculated that the system may have been used to coördinate the movement of data. She noted that Cambridge Analytica, which was working for the Trump campaign, took millions of personal records from Facebook. In Camp’s scenario, these could have been transferred to the Russian government, to help guide its targeting of American voters before the election.

We’ve talked about the Alfa Bank/Trump Server connection as far back as Daily Check-In 8/30/2017 and again on Daily Check-In 02/20/2018 and Daily Check-In 05/15/2018.

The Trump server was a meeting point for Alfa Bank/RU Intel and Spectrum Health, and this article goes a long way to dismissing the casual explanations, but doesn’t get to what it could be, or likely was.

This was database communications, with the Trump server as the middleman. The communications were for the express purposes of influencing the election through microtargeting of ads and/or removing voters from voter registration rolls.

Spectrum Health, like almost every health company in the country, has access to databases of personal information of almost every American. Those DB’s include addresses, full names, SSN’s, work information, and the like. By itself, this doesn’t have much to do with elections, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Their information is used for verification.

Remember a while back there was a report about how an RNC staffer left the entire voter database open on an unsecured website for something like a year, and it wasn’t discovered until after the election? I think that was done on purpose. This information, along with the voter database and data stolen from the DNC, made it’s way over to Russia.

Russia searches through the data, and finds a list of names from the voter rolls, and sends that to Spectrum Health to have them confirm more details. The voter rolls have valuable data, but not enough to narrow attacks down to individual people.

Spectrum takes what the Russians send them through the Trump Mail Server, and runs that against their health information database. They’ll see which voter records connect to which person in their health database. They’ll combine these two records into a large pile of data.

A large pile of data is nice, but without knowing how to use it, it’s worthless. This is where Cambridge Analytica and Brad Parscale’s work comes into the picture. They get their hands this data, likely from Spectrum Health, and use those lists of names to determine who is likely to vote, how they’ll vote, and if they can be swayed. If they can be swayed, they look at their social media information to determine how. If they can’t, they’ll send a message back to Spectrum to have the Russians remove them from the voter rolls.

Spectrum sends an update command back to the Trump Mail Server, where it waits until the next connection from Alfa Bank. If the update contains a command to remove a voter from the rolls, then Alfa would communicate with the GRU groups like Fancy Bear or Cozy Bear, and those groups would update the voter rolls they hacked into previously.

Why the voter rolls? They’re an easy target. Unlike the vote totals or voting machines themselves, the registrations aren’t as secured. In many states, there is little to no security around them. Once in, the Russians could change whatever they wanted. Update a zip code here, change a middle initial here, flip a party affiliation here, transpose house numbers on an address there. A lot of tiny changes, almost all targeting urban areas in states with voter ID laws?

Why those states? After the new swath of voter ID laws, if the registry doesn’t match the ID, the person can’t vote. If Michael J. Smith from 123 Park St 55315 shows up to vote but the voter roll says he lives at 132 Park St, too bad. Or if Michael J. Smith is suddenly Mikayla J. Smith, or Michael K. Smith, too bad.

The new info from this piece is the timing of the server going down.  The Trump mail server was shut down after the New York Times contacted B.G.R., but before they reached out to either the Trump Organization or their hosting company.  B.G.R., the lobbying firm representing Alfa, claims that they didn’t contact the Trump team.  So, if they didn’t contact Trump, and the New York Times didn’t contact Trump, that only leaves Alfa Bank.

The New Yorker goes pretty damn far with this story, but not as far as Tea Pain went in his earlier descriptions.  His level of information would require insider access and details not available to anyone without access to the DNS entries.

This has to be the biggest story of the week, or the night, right?

Right?

Oh, what the fuck…

The Trump campaign’s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Donald J. Trump. Though the Israeli company’s pitches were narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump’s favor.

The campaign official, Rick Gates, sought one proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump’s main opponent at the time. Another proposal describes opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained by The New York Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

A third proposal by the company, Psy-Group, which is staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives, sketched out a monthslong plan to help Mr. Trump by using social media to help expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions. The proposals, part of what Psy-Group called “Project Rome,” used code names to identify the players — Mr. Trump was “Lion” and Mrs. Clinton was “Forest.” Mr. Cruz, who Trump campaign officials feared might lead a revolt over the Republican presidential nomination, was “Bear.”

Mr. Gates first heard about Psy-Group’s work during a March 2016 meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel along the Washington waterfront with George Birnbaum, a Republican consultant with close ties to current and former Israeli government officials. Mr. Gates had joined the Trump campaign days earlier with Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner, to try to prevent a revolt of Republican delegates from Mr. Trump toward Mr. Cruz, who was the favored candidate among the party’s establishment.

Though it appears that Trump campaign officials declined to accept any of the proposals, Mr. Zamel pitched the company’s services in at least general terms during a meeting on Aug. 3, 2016, at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. That meeting, revealed in May by The Times, was also attended by George Nader, an emissary from the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and by Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the founder of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.

Former Psy-Group employees said that, in anticipation of the Trump Tower meeting, Mr. Zamel asked them to prepare an updated version of the third proposal. A lawyer for Mr. Zamel said that Mr. Zamel had not personally discussed specific proposals with Donald Trump Jr. or anyone else from the Trump campaign.

“Mr. Zamel never pitched, or otherwise discussed, any of Psy-Group’s proposals relating to the U.S. elections with anyone related to the Trump campaign, including not with Donald Trump Jr., except for outlining the capabilities of some of his companies in general terms,” said the lawyer, Marc Mukasey.

Mr. Nader and Mr. Zamel have given differing accounts over whether Mr. Zamel ultimately carried out the social media effort to help the Trump campaign and why Mr. Nader paid him $2 million after the election, according to people who have discussed the matter with the two men.

The reason for the payment has been of keen interest to Mr. Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter.

It is unclear how and when the special counsel’s office began its investigation into Psy-Group’s work, but F.B.I. agents have spent hours interviewing the firm’s employees. This year, federal investigators presented a court order to the Israel Police and the Israeli Ministry of Justice to confiscate computers in Psy-Group’s former offices in Petah Tikva, east of Tel Aviv.

Mother fucker.

What’s the short, short version of this?

First, the Trump Campaign had solicited offers from a foreign company to interfere in the Republican Primary and the General Election.  The solicitation itself is illegal.  If you think that it’s not illegal to only try to commit a crime, then Chris Hansen would like you to take a seat right over there.

Second, this Israeli company called Psy-Group offered to do create fake online personas, manipulate social media, and do what they could to help their client while hurting their opponents.  You know, the same shit the Russians did in 2016.

Third, this shows a willingness and motive to collude… no, to conspire with a foreign power or powers to win the election.

Next, we know that Rick Gates and George Nader took part in this operation, and if they know, Mueller’s known for a long time.  Remember, the two of them were early Cooperating Witnesses.

Further, there’s a money trail between George Nader and Mr. Zamel, and a meeting that puts George Nader in the room with Zamel, Erik Prince, and Donnie Jr. discussing this plan.  This also connects Donnie Jr. to a SECOND attempt at working with a foreign power.

Finally, this explains why  Mueller’s team went to Israel.  Daily Check-In 05/25/2018 mentioned some of Psy-Group’s work previously, and connected them to running a propaganda website called worldpoliticus.com, which was a large source of Reddit links for subs like The_Donald, Hilaryforprison, Conspiracy, Conservate, and the like.  There were earlier reports of investigators from Mueller’s team visiting Israel, but it was still up in the air why they were there.  At the time, speculation was that it was just to question some people, but according to this report, there was a joint raid of Psy-Group’s offices.

By the way, if we’re hearing all of this now, it’s been known about for months.

 

Doss, who recently served as senior minority counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, said Concord could be fighting back for “reputational” reasons — in order to clear its name — but she and other national security and legal experts told ABC News that Concord, and ultimately the Kremlin, could be up to a more concerning double game: using the U.S. legal system to gather intelligence or undercut the broader Russia probe.

The lawyers representing the indicted Russians have already tried some weird moves during the discovery process, requesting all information from the CIA regarding Russia, ever.  Keep an eye on their unusual level of fuckery.

 

COHEN, NEW YORK, EMOLUMENTS, AND OTHER LAWSUITS

“Fred was a piggy bank that Trump could routinely go to when he needed a cash infusion. [But then] the piggy bank disappeared,” said Tim O’Brien, a journalist who researched Trump’s business extensively for his 2005 book “TrumpNation.”

Trump received $177.3 million from the sale of his father’s remaining holdings, of which he quickly used $149 million for pressing needs at his own ventures, according to the Times. After that, he bought 14 properties with cash alone, without taking on loans, in a $400 million spending spreethat defied industry norms, as The Washington Post previously reported. To buy other properties, he got more than $300 million in loans from an unusual source — the private-wealth management office of Deutsche Bank, according to public documents. And Trump ended up with a loan of more than $50 million that he still owes himself, according to financial disclosures.

In 2012, at the tail end of the Chicago project, Trump received more than $300 million in loans from the private banking arm at Deutsche, a German bank, according to public records.

A private banking office is typically dedicated to managing the finances of wealthy individuals, not to issuing large commercial construction loans.

“It’s highly unusual to go through the private bank,” said Jeffrey M. Zell, a D.C. real estate consultant. Among a borrower’s reason for doing so, he said, would be to avoid the underwriting criteria or collateral requirements normally employed by commercial bankers who underwrite construction.

“The bank’s construction guys will go out and check the contractors’ bids, check the borrowers’ reserves,” he said. “The private bank will say, ‘We don’t care, as long as the borrower has cash.’ ”

The loans that Trump’s company received from this office of Deutsche Bank helped pay off the last of a Chicago loan that once totaled $640 million and provided Trump with $125 million to renovate the Doral golf resort in Miami and $170 million to develop the Trump hotel in Washington.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump cited an executive in the private banking division, Rosemary Vrablic, as an expert on his finances.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on its relationship with Trump.

This is all highly unusual, and all stinks to high heaven.

Trump spends most of his inheritance to keep his struggling businesses afloat, then proceeds to go on a spending spree, buying up everything he can with cash.  Then, he takes out a loan from a bank under heavy scrutiny for money laundering, and they don’t ask what he’s doing with the money?

This reminds me of the crazy shit I’d do to try to pay bills back when I was single and making no money.  The juggling required to go from one week to another was ridiculous, and all of this looks just like that.  Trump was a broke con man trying to play rich.

As far as that loan to himself for $50 million, it sounds to me like he was trying to hide income as a loan to avoid paying taxes.  Ask Paul Manafort how well that worked out for him.

 

SCOTUS & #METOO

 

TRUMP THE RUSSIAN ASSET

 

TRAITOR TOTS

 

FIGHTING BACK

 

IMMIGRATION

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

FIXING THE INTERNET

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

TRADE WAR AND ECONOMY

 

GOP: THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

Politics is about the exercise of power. But the new Trumpist GOP is not exercising power in the pursuit of anything resembling principle, and certainly not for conservative or Republican principles.

Free trade? Republicans are suddenly in love with tariffs, and now sound like bad imitations of early 1980s protectionist Democrats. A robust foreign policy? Not only have Republicans abandoned their claim to being the national-security party, they have managed to convince the party faithful that Russia—an avowed enemy that directly attacked our political institutions—is less of a threat than their neighbors who might be voting for Democrats. Respect for law enforcement? The GOP is backing Trump in attacks on the FBI and the entire intelligence community as Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the web of lies, financial arrangements, and Russian entanglements known collectively as the Trump campaign.

And most important, on the rule of law, congressional Republicans have utterly collapsed. They have sold their souls, purely at Trump’s behest, living in fear of the dreaded primary challenges that would take them away from the Forbidden City and send them back home to the provinces. Yes, an anti-constitutional senator like Hirono is unnerving, but she’s a piker next to her Republican colleagues, who have completely reversed themselves on everything from the limits of executive power to the independence of the judiciary, all to serve their leader in a way that would make the most devoted cult follower of Kim Jong Un blush.

Maybe it’s me. I’m not a Republican anymore, but am I still a conservative? Limited government: check. Strong national defense: check. Respect for tradition and deep distrust of sudden, dramatic change: check. Belief that people spend their money more wisely than government? That America is an exceptional nation with a global mission? That we are, in fact, a shining city on a hill and an example to others? Check, check, check.

But I can’t deny that I’ve strayed from the party. I believe abortion should remain legal. I am against the death penalty in all its forms outside of killing in war. I don’t think what’s good for massive corporations is always good for America. In foreign affairs, I am an institutionalist, a supporter of working through international bodies and agreements. I think our defense budget is too big, too centered on expensive toys, and that we are still too entranced by nuclear weapons.

This is from Tom Nichols, aka RadioFreeTom.  I’ve linked to his tweets a few times before.  An example is below.

Tom is one of the Never Trumpers, the group of Republicans and Conservatives that stood against Trump in his rise to power.  I don’t agree with their politics, but I don’t doubt for a second that they stand with us against the corruption.  In the future, I look forward to arguing about policy details, but today, we have a country to save.

 

Yes, I can’t believe I’m linking to a story from The Federalist either.

Some of us are tired, and we can’t keep up with the outrage machine. We aren’t built that way, nor do we want to be. The headlines are hard enough Monday to Saturday. Come Sunday, some of us want a day off.

Over the years, I lamented to my pastor, whose messages I believe to be heartfelt, about discussing headlines at church, even preaching from them. I didn’t understand why it was necessary when there are plenty of other topics to spotlight, particularly when tension is already high.

She told me that she was taught to preach with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, a concept born out of theologian Karl Barth’s quote, “to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” Of course, in the era of “fake news” and “democracy dies in darkness,” this begs the question, “Which newspaper?”

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

 

PRIESTS

 

ELECTION 2018

 

ENVIRONMENT AND SCIENCE

 

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

 

IN OTHER NEWS…

 

RUMOR MILL

“He sometimes asked associates to communicate with him by writing a note and saving it the draft folder of the account”. This is a technique used by terrorists (literally).

“This $100k total with the $50k received from you will allow us to fund the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students for the promised $150K.” Hmmmm. “Students,” huh?

Worth noting—Smith was found dead: 10 days after talking w/WSJ; 5 days after Trump fires Comey; 4 days after closed-door meeting in the Oval with Russians; 1 month after Cook County + NY judges died mysteriously; 2 months before Hastert released.

And, 10 days after Smith was found dead, a prosecutor was found dead on the beach in Florida.

The Washington Scholarship Fund.  Remember, Maria Butina was going to grad school at American University in D.C.  She very well could have been the go-between for Peter Smith and the hackers.

Hey put reporters on this and either confirm it or show he’s a propagandist who needs to resign.

Because if a Senator like , with access to official information, is lying about political warfare operations, he needs to be forced to resign. You’re the Fourth Estate, supposedly: . Go do your jobs and don’t let this continue.

NEWSFLASH: Two things are done, as of now. 1. We need a news media. Fairness Doctrine reinstalled. That does it’s fucking job. And no, we’re not falling in Russia’s “all the news is fake” trap. We’re onto it. 2. We’re done with bought-off whores for politicians.

SO, JUST SO WE’RE CLEAR: you, the Media are going to do your fucking jobs. Not suck at the PR company teat. Not allow these bastards ruining democracy to get away with it. And some of us who are actual information professionals will give you a hand. Deal? 🙂

Edit:  I changed the last emoji to an emoticon.

 

The family’s total stated assets at the time of the loan came to $121,000, with the bulk of that “vehicles and other personal property,” as opposed to liquid assets. Meanwhile, the Kavanaughs held $25,000 in credit card debt on their First USA/Bank One Visa card. Their net worth was $91,000 — less than half of what they somehow managed to produce for the closing.

So where did the $245,000 down payment come from?

The answer is not readily apparent. At the time of the home purchase, Brett Kavanaugh was a federal employee, drawing an annual salary of $62,026. (He’d been nominated for the federal judgeship but was still waiting to be confirmed.) Ashley Kavanaugh worked at the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation and the Community Foundation for National Capital Region, neither high-salaried positions. Her retirement plan was worth $1,000. There was no other income, and no gifts reported. As for investments, as Kavanaugh testified last month: “Since our marriage in 2004, we have not owned stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other similar financial investments outside of our retirement accounts.”

It is true that mortgage brokers in the go-go early 2000s were notoriously laissez-faire when it came to loan approval. I recall being “pre-approved” for a loan amount of up to $425,000 back in 2003, when I was making about $40,000 a year, and I recognized, if the bank did not, that there was no earthly way I could have afforded that much house. High on the fumes of the real estate bubble, lending institutions were plainly cool with the risk of foreclosing on properties.

Even so, the Kavanaugh loan is a head-scratcher. At four percent interest, the mortgage payments would have been $4,600 a month, or $55,200 a year. In other words, the mortgage payments alone were more than what Brett Kavanaugh took home in 2006 after taxes. And that doesn’t include property taxes, homeowners insurance, or maintenance costs — the last of which, as he painstakingly explained in his Senate written testimony, and as I previously reported, cost a pretty penny.

Within a year of buying the house, the family was deep in credit card debt. By the end of 2006, the Kavanaughs had three credit cards, in addition to the TSP loan. Each loan was “Code K,” which specifies a range between $15,001 and $50,000. We can assume the TSP loan was for almost $50,000, and that the $25,000 listed in credit card debt in 2005 remained, the balance perhaps transferred to the other cards. Given the $15,000 bottom end of the “Code K” range and generous credit card limits offered at the time, it is likely that all three cards were maxed out. Kavanaugh’s combined debt was between $60,000 and $200,000 — but given what we know of his already-onerous obligations from 2005, the total amount owed must have been no less than $100,000.

Put another way: by the end of 2006, Brett and Ashley Kavanaugh owed five financial institutions, combined, a cool million dollars.

In the Kavanaugh scenario, however, something is off. First of all, gift money cannot be used as a down payment — even in 2006, when mortgage brokers operated with the self-restraint of smoked-out meth-heads. The quarter million required for the down payment had to have been in Brett Kavanaugh’s bank account six months before the closing date. If the funds were there, he did not disclose this on his financial statements in 2005 or 2006.

Tim Hogan, a Hawaii-based attorney who specializes in bankruptcy cases, is blunt: “Kavanaugh has a $245,000 unexplained payment in his home closing documents. There you go. I’m a bankruptcy lawyer who hunts frauds for a living. This guy’s documents look fraudulent to me.”

But let’s assume, for sake of argument, that Everett Edward Kavanaugh, Jr. had an “in” at the bank, and managed to secure the loan. Let’s also assume that he not only generated the down payment, and also paid for all of the mortgage payments, leaving Brett and Ashley to cover everything else. Even then, Brett Kavanaugh’s take-home pay in 2006 — he wasn’t sworn in as a federal judge until June of that year — was not enough to cover his young family’s cost of living in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Diapers, babysitters, clothes, dry cleaning, gas, health insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance, auto insurance, utilities, telephone and cable, donations to the Catholic church, athletic equipment…the expenses add up quick. And the Kavanaughs, with their country clubs and private schools, are not the paragons of frugality.

Moreover, $245,000 is not a Christmas stocking stuffer. If Kavanaugh did receive such significant assistance from his parents, why was he not forthright about their largesse? Surely there is no shame in accepting family help. Did Kavanaugh, like Trump, seek to present a false narrative about the nature of his own wealth? Was he concerned about the tax implications?

Or is there a more sinister explanation?

Let me reiterate: I have no way of knowing if Kavanaugh is a high-stakes gambler, and I’m not accusing him of being one. However, if he was telling the truth about not ever gambling, he needs to explain how he managed to come up with $245,000 to pay for his house in 2006, and also, how his massive credit card debt suddenly vanished ten years later. His Senate testimony does not come remotely close to explaining the provenance of that money. Gambling rumors will forever hound him if he doesn’t put them to rest with more details about his finances.

The purpose of financial disclosure, as Kavanaugh himself has pointed out, is to look for conflicts of interest. These conflicts tarnish a judge’s impartiality, which is the most essential qualification for the job. If a sitting Supreme Court Justice is beholden to unknown creditors, we need to know who they are — even if the unknown creditors turn out to be Ma and Pa Kavanaugh. How else can we be sure he isn’t compromised?

One last thing: If the Kavanaughs had hopes of renovating and then flipping the Chevy Chase house, they could not have picked a worse time to buy. In 2008, the real estate market completely collapsed, leading to a global recession that lasted for half a decade. Twelve years and all those home improvements later, the Kavanaugh home now shows an estimated value of $1,342,000 on Zillow.

That was a gamble that didn’t pay off. Depending on what we learn about his shady finances, his decision not to withdraw his nomination might be another.

This doesn’t add up.  There’s something fishy AF about Kavanaugh’s finances.  Affording a million dollar home on $200,000 after taxes is pretty tough, but on $60,000 is downright impossible.  None of his expenses make the smallest sense.

Some form of income is missing from these financial disclosures.  It would behoove the House Judiciary Committee to investigate that as part of a possible impeachment trial next year.

 

That’s it for the last few days.  Yes, I know I ignored the Kavanaugh confirmation.  As ugly and unprecedented as it is, there’s more coming.  His finances and perjury will be his undoing.

As far as everything else goes, I’m not sure where we’re headed.  October will be a crazy month.  Keep an eye out for provokatsiya (provocation) and dezinformatsiya (disinformation), especially as we get closer to the election.  I’m not hearing any rumors so far about attacks on the voting infrastructure like there was in 2016, but if I were the Russians, I’d focus on the social media war.  Sort of like they’re doing now.

Stay frosty, and keep your head on a swivel.  I have no clue what’s coming down the pipeline.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

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