2018 Retrospective

This time last year, I wrote the 2017 Retrospective.  That piece served as a quasi-nostalgia piece/best of/how did I get here essay/predictions for the upcoming year.  As much as I don’t like Best-of lists and other looks back, I feel like this is needed to keep perspective.

 

WHERE WE LEFT OFF IN 2017?

At the end of 2017, we were just starting to get a picture of how big the Russian Conspiracy truly was.  We were also witness to the most dysfunctional presidential administration of the modern era.  A cabinet rife with corruption that was looking for new and interesting ways to destroy their departments while lining their pockets.  Meanwhile, rumors and stories about the depths of cooperation with foreign powers kept rising to the surface.  Every so often, a new story highlighting a new part of the conspiracy arose.  The NRA.  The National Prayer Breakfast.  Oleg Deripaska.  Alexander Torshin.  Maria Butina.  Kostya Kilimnik.

The Rumor Mill was still months ahead of the active story from the Mainstream Media.  While the MSM was hung up on Trump’s tweets, the Rumor Mill was talking about the NRA being used as the primary source for laundering Russian money into the Republican National Committee for use in the 2016 election.

 

KICKING OFF 2018

January started off with the first of several major books exposing the dysfunction of the Trump Administration.  “Fire and Fury” was the first major book to show how bad things are inside the White House.  Nothing gets done, everyone is ready to stab the other in the back at a moment’s notice, and everything revolves around the whims of a septuagenarian in a diaper.  This book also established a pattern.  The worse it makes Trump look, the more he freaks out about it on Twitter and through Wall-Eye Sanders.  The worse they react, the more likely it is to be true.  The more likely it’s true, the better the sales.  This book sold like beer at a football game.  My favorite quote from it was a conversation between Steve Bannon and Trump after Trump said in an interview with his frenemy Maggie Haberman that investigating his finances would be “crossing a red line.”

“You’ve got the LeBron James of money laundering investigations on you, Jarvanka. My a–hole just got so tight!”

I don’t want to imagine Steve Bannon’s asshole, but it’s a worthy response when finding out Andrew Weissmann is looking into your finances. (Daily Check-In 01/05/2018)

We also saw the beginning of the year kick off with Republicans in both the House and Senate rally around Trump at all opportunities to either demonize his enemies or obstruct investigations into Trump and his cronies.  This is when I learned two important procedural rules.  House committees can only release transcripts after a vote, but the ranking chairperson of a Senate committee can do whatever the fuck they feel like, including releasing transcripts. (Daily Check-In 01/09/2018). Diane Feinstein did with Glenn Simpson’s testimony.  Glenn is the head of Fusion GPS, the group that ran Opposition Research against Trump and ultimately hired Christopher Steele.

The only committee in either house of congress that acted like grown-ups this year was the Senate Intelligence Committee.  They’re work is still ongoing.

The most off-the-rails thing to happen in January was a news report showing that Michael Cohen had paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 a couple weeks before the election.  At the time, it seemed rather…weird and unrelated.  Turns out it would have HUUUGE consequences throughout the year. (Daily Check-In 01/12/2018)

What should have been the biggest story of the early year happened on Daily Check-In 01/25/2018 when it came out that the Dutch had pwned the GRU and had proof that they were involved with the attacks on the United States.  Instead, Maggie Haberman dropped a story for the New York Times talking about how Trump had tried to fire Robert Mueller back in June.  It also turns out that this was the weekend that Trump was supposed to interview Mueller at Camp David, but pulled out at the last minute.

Throughout the month, more stories started to break into the MSM talking about Trump’s ties to the Russian Mob, and the NRA’s ties to the Russians.  On Daily Check-In 01/30/2018, the weirdest thing happened thus far: Sean Hannity was suspended from Twitter.  While his account was dark, a parody account arose and sounded so much like him that Julian Assange of Wikileaks DM’ed him.

Another thing we saw at the beginning of the year was the back and forth, will he or won’t he, about Mueller’s attempts to interview Trump.  It was widely viewed at the beginning of the year by the MSM that Mueller was only looking into Obstruction of Justice and had very little to go on for Russian connections.

 

FEBRUARY 2018:  THERE ARE INDICTMENTS

As I said, the MSM pushed the story that Mueller was only interested in investigating Obstruction of Justice.  That narrative fell apart on Daily Check-in 02/16/2018 when Special Counselor Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies for attacking the United States during the 2016 election by spreading propaganda, organizing Americans against each other, and committing a metric fucktonne of identity theft.  Mueller also got a guilty plea from Richard Pinedo for assisting the Russians by helping them get bank accounts that they then used to spoof PayPal.

Early February saw yet another attempt by the Republicans to distract from Mueller and discredit the investigation with the Nunes Memo.  (Daily Check-In 02/01/2018). That attempt lasted all of about 30 seconds everywhere outside of Fox News.  That how long it took to debunk the claims in Devin Nunes’ memo.

February also brought other stories like Hope Hicks trying to organize a cover-up of the June 9th meeting on a conference call, Steve Bannon interviewing with Robert Mueller, and that several states were hacked by the Russians. (Daily Check-In 02/07/2018).

Something tragic not related to the Russian Conspiracy occurred on Daily Check-In 02/14/2018 with the Parkland Massacre.  17 high school students were murdered by one of their classmates.  But this shooting was different.  This one was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  This shooting didn’t disappear from the news within a week like all the rest.  The kids stuck around.  They organized.  They marched.  They protested.  They registered to vote.  And they’re making a difference.

On Daily Check-In 02/26/2018 Trump asked his Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cancel a trip to India to instead go to London to meet with Saudis to negotiate nuclear reactors.

Also, Rick Gates flipped. (Daily Check-In 02/23/2018).  His old attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

 

MARCH 2018: THE NRA AND THE GRAND BARGAIN TAKES SHAPE

I didn’t know it at the time, but March saw several interesting developments that lead to the Grand Bargain Theory.

George Nader flipped. (Daily Check-In 03/06/2018). He was Erik Prince’s right hand man and an adviser to the United Arab Emirates.  George was also with Prince at the Seychelle’s meeting.  He’s also a convicted pedophile who was stopped at the border on New Year’s Eve and decided to cooperate with Mueller to avoid a fate worse getting shanked in prison.  Elliot Broidy also made his way into the news in March with trying to kill the 1MDB money laundering investigation. (Daily Check-In 03/05/2018)

Cambridge Analytica made the front page finally for their work in fucking with the election by microtargeting voters for ads. They stole user profiles from Facebook, shared them with the Russians, and used those profiles to attack individuals with ads targeted specifically to them. (Daily Check-In 03/21/2018).

The Russians tried to kill a former spy on British soil.  (Daily Check-In 03/12/2018).  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke out about this attack.  Trump fired him the next day.

That was also the same day the House Intel Committee “ended” their investigation after finding “no evidence that the Russians assisted Donald Trump.”  Remember that.

On the campaign finance front, March saw Stormy Daniels and her new attorney Michael Avenatti go on the offensive against Michael Cohen.  More details emerge about how completely nutty this payment was, how it was made, and where the funds ultimately came from.  We also know that at least one other woman was paid off by Michael Cohen.  Karen McDougal was also paid off in 2016 to stay silent during the election. (Daily Check-In 03/16/2018)

The Mueller Investigation kept moving forward with subpoenas to the Trump Organization, requests for info about the Seychelles trip, and interviews with many staffers.

 

APRIL 2018: THE SUBJECT OF AN INVESTIGATION

On April 3rd, we found out that Donald Trump was officially the subject of a criminal investigation. (Daily Check-In 04/03/2018). We also got the evidence and explanation of the poison pill built into the Special Counselor’s investigation.  If Robert Mueller is fired, then all of his Senior Assistant Special Counselors are authorized in their dual roles as United States Attorneys to pursue any open investigations to their completion.  Also, those investigations were outsourced to various jurisdictions and indictments were filed under seal.

One of those investigations was United States versus Michael Cohen.  On April 9th, the FBI raided his home, his office, and hotel.  (Daily Check-In 04/09/2018).  They got ALL THE THINGS.  This might go down as the beginning of the end of the Trump Presidency.  I’ve probably said that a few hundred times, but when things are so bad that a judge said that the least intrusive way of getting the info they needed was multiple no-knock raids, things are bad.  Over the next few weeks, more of Cohen’s shadiness came out.  These included accepting payments for access to Trump, running cab companies, and his ties with mobsters.

Jared Kushner unloaded the 666 Fifth Avenue albatross to a group using Qatar as a middleman. (Daily Check-In 04/23/2018)

We also found out that several subjects and target were getting stopped entering the country, in that little in-between area where laws are a bit…different. (Daily Check-In 04/03/2018)

Sean Hannity is involved in some shady shit with Cohen, when it was revealed that he was one of Cohen’s three clients. (Daily Check-In 04/18/2018). Hannity was involved in some slightly shady real estate purchases.  That, and pushing Russian propaganda.

We got the flight details of Trump’s trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.  These records contradict Trump’s claims that he didn’t spend the night in Russia. (Daily Check-In 04/23/2018)

James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty” was released. On the night he was on Rachel Maddow to talk about it, his memos about his meetings with Trump made the news.  (Daily Check-In 04/19/2018)

We finish April with the New York Times getting a list of questions from Jay Sekulow that he says are the questions that Mueller wants to ask Trump. (Daily Check-In 04/30/2018)

 

MAY 2018: SOMETHING ROTTEN IN NEW YORK

The Trump Organization is under various investigations, The Trump Foundation is under a microscope, Cohen is fucked 8 ways from Sunday, but that’s not the only weirdness in New York.  On Daily Check-In 05/07/2018 then NYAG Eric Schneiderman resigned after 4 women accused him of sexual assault in a story written by Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer.  From the time the story dropped, it took about 2 hours for him to resign.  He was replaced by NYAG Underwood.  This would turn out to be the worst thing for the Trump Organization, the Trump Family, and anyone associated with Trump in New York.

At first, Trump Jr. was celebrating this move, but he’s an idiot with no strategic thinking.  My hypothesis is that they had shit on him for years, and were either waiting for him to come after them to release it or were going to use it to blackmail him.  Instead, he gets removed from the playing board and an unknown comes into play.  This unknown, by the way, would make Trump’s life even more of a living nightmare by the end of the year.

Cohen was implicated in a pay to play scandal with several companies, including AT&T. Within a month of engaging Cohen, they had a meeting with Ajit Pai in an attempt to kill net neutrality. (Daily Check-In 05/11/2018). Right after that, we get direct ties to the Qatar Investment Authority. (Daily Check-In 05/14/2018).

Trump and Nunes tried to expose top secret sources to protect themselves. (Daily Check-In 05/18/2018)

Daily Check-In 05/25/2018 revealed that Cohen met with Viktor Vekselberg during the transition, and the Spanish had wiretaps that showed Donnie Jr. was in contact with Alexander Torshin and his associate Maria Butina.

 

JUNE 2018:  A LITTLE BUSY

Jared Kushner’s buddy Richard Gerson was at the Seychelles Meeting.  He met with Prince Mohammed (MBZ) and George Nader. (Daily Check-In 06/01/2018). Gerson was also around when MBZ visited Kushner and Nader in New York City.  Gerson claimed he was only there to escort former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the meeting.

Paul Manafort and Kostya from the GRU were indicted for witness tampering on Daily Check-In 06/04/2018.

The Brexit Backers were caught playing nice with the Russians.  This included passing info to and from Wikileaks. This produced even more visible ties to the Russian Conspiracy. (Daily Check-In 06/11/2018). We also heard of EVEN MORE contacts between the Russians and the NRA.

On June 15th, Paul Manafort went to prison.  I still get a smile on my facing knowing that he has most likely spent his final day as a free man. (Daily Check-In 06/15/2018).  That day, we also found out about the cut-out the Russians used to get the DNC emails to Wikileaks.

I was a little busy at the end of June and beginning of July. (Irregular Posts)

 

JULY 2018: RUSSIAN SPIES AND VERBAL BLOWJOBS

The three biggest stories of July involved Russia.  Surprise, surprise.

While Trump was on his way to Helsinki for a summit meeting with his boss Vladimir Putin, Robert Mueller indicted 12 members of the Russian GRU for hacking the DNC. (Daily Check-In 07/13/2018)

The next big story was Trump giving Putin a verbal blowjob in Helsinki, where he parroted everything Putin said, including how he believed him over all of the United States Intelligence Community. (Daily Check-In 07/16/2018)

While that was happening, news broke that a Russian woman named Mariia Butina was arrested for being an unregistered agent of the Russians.  She was a spy for the Russians that worked for Alexander Torshin and the Russian Government to infiltrate the National Rifle Association.  Over the next couple weeks a lot of her contacts came to light, including deep ties to the Religious Right and even some members of Congress.

A weird narrative developed on Daily Check-In 07/20/2018 as details emerged from the Cohen Investigation in SDNY.  Out of the million plus documents that the feds seized, only a handful of them were within the realm of Attorney-Client Privilege.  Some of that info were recordings Cohen made covering his meetings with Trump.  Trump then went after Cohen, and Cohen fought back.  Eventually a tape of Trump getting briefed on the Karen McDougal payoff was released.  Also, Cohen said Trump knew of the June 9th meeting, because he told him about it on June 7th. (Daily Check-In 07/26/2018). That prep meeting included 6 people.  Trump, Donnie Jr., Paul Manafort, Cohen, Trump’s secretary Rhona, and Paul’s second Rick Gates. (Daily Check-In 07/27/2018)

Paul Manafort’s tax evasion trial began on Daily Check-In 07/31/2018.

 

AUGUST 2018: MANAFORT FOUND GUILTY

While the Manafort trial was underway, more news about Roger Stone came out.  His crew has been under investigation for a long time. Long enough to make the constant jokes about him being in a barrel feel like they need thrown in a barrel.  (Daily Check-In 08/10/2018)

Omarosa released a book.  While talking about it, she let it be known that she was interviewed by Mueller’s team and that Trump knew about the Wikileaks email dump beforehand, (Daily Check-In 08/14/2018)

Don McGahn interviewed with the Special Counselor’s team for more than 30 hours.  As the White House Counsel, nothing he said was covered under privilege. (Daily Check-In 08/20/2018)

Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 of his 18 counts in his tax evasion trial.  It came out that one juror didn’t convict on the charges related to money laundering.  (Daily Check-In 08/21/2018)

Bob Dole’s involved in a bank so corrupt even the Russians won’t do business with it. (Daily Check-In 08/28/2018)

Sam Patten, an associate of Manafort who worked with Cambridge Analytica, pleaded guilty to FARA violations. (Daily Check-In 08/31/2018)

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 felony counts the same day that Manafort was convicted.  In his plea deal, Cohen said flat out that Trump directed him to pay off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.  Trump’s CFO Allen Weisselberg and the head of the National Enquirer David Pecker were given immunity for their assistance in the Cohen and Trump investigations.

 

SEPTEMBER 2018:  KAVANAUGH, FEAR, AND FLIPPING.  OR SO WE THOUGHT

Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear” is released.  Around the same time, an anonymous Op-Ed is published in the New York Times that describes Trump as dangerous. (Daily Check-In 09/06/2018).

Paul Manafort appeared to flip on Trump on Daily Check-In 09/14/2018.

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy retired, allowing Trump to nominate Brett Kavanaugh.  During his confirmation hearings, reports of multiple sexual assaults involving Brett made the news.  This led to possibly the most disgraceful performance by the Senate in modern history.  They decided to half-heartedly reopen the investigation into the allegations.  They also agreed to hear Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, but pussed out and hired a woman to interview her.

Devin Nunes used this distraction to release transcripts (Daily Check-In 09/28/2018).

 

OCTOBER 2018:  THE COMING STORM

The Mueller front was rather quiet during October, for the most part.

Elena Alekseenvna Khusyaynova, Accountant from Project Lakhta was indicted on 10-19-18. Daily Check-In 10/19/2018. Elena was the accountant in charge of Project Lakhta, Russia’s project to influence the 2018 Election.  She received a Criminal Complaint for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.

On Daily Check-In 10/02/2018 the New York Times dropped a big story destroying the myth of Trump being a self-made millionaire.  His daddy bailed him out all the time, and his siblings took part along with him in schemes to avoid paying taxes.  His sister was a federal judge.

In October, news about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.  (Daily Check-In 10/12/2018).  Jamal was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.  While the free world lined up to blame Mohammed Bin Salman for his role in the murder, Trump and Kushner bent over backwards to cover for their buddy, the Saudi Crown Prince.

 

NOVEMBER 2018:  THE BLUE WAVE

Dmitry Ryobolev, the Russian Oligarch who paid $95 million for a Trump property worth less than $40 million, was busted on Daily Check-In 11/06/2018.

The Democrats won control of the House of Representatives.  In overwhelming fashion.  Halfway through the following day, Trump fired Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. (Daily Check-In 11/07/2018). Matt Whitaker was named as Acting AG.

Steve Bannon’s role in Brexit came to the foreground (Daily Check-In 11/19/2018).

Trump finally submitted his written answers for Mueller’s questions. (Daily Check-In 11/20/2018).

Mueller’s team pulled their deal from Paul Manafort, saying that he lied to them and fed Trump information. (Daily Check-In 11/26/2018).  This likely implicates Trump on lying to investigators and committing perjury.  Only Trump could get caught cheating on a take-home test.

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to Lying to Congress. (Daily Check-In 11/29/2018).

 

DECEMBER 2018:  SENTENCING AND THE WHEELS FALL OFF

Michael Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in jail. (Daily Check-In 12/12/2018). During his sentencing, Cohen once again said that he committed his crimes at Trump’s direction. Most importantly, he said that all of the crimes he did, he did at Trump’s direction.

The Special Counselor recommended that Flynn not serve prison time because of how helpful he’s been.  Then Flynn tried some “But I was entrapped” shit.  That didn’t sit well with the Judge, who flat out asked if Flynn committed Treason at his sentencing. (Daily Check-In 12/18/2018)

Bijan Kian and Kamil Ekim Alptekin, Turkish nationals were indicted on Daily Check-In 12/17/2018.  Bijan Kian was the second in command of Flynn Intel Group.  Kamil Alptekin set up Inovo BV, a Dutch company designed to hide payments from Turkey’s government.  Kamil and Bijan were both indicted for FARA violations and Acting as a Foreign Agent.

Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from Syria.  Jim Mattis resigned in protest. (Daily Check-In 12/20/2018).  And for the third time this year, there’s a government shutdown.

 

HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED?

At this time last year, it felt like screaming at a brick wall to get people to pay attention to the criminality of Donald Trump, let alone anyone else in his retinue.  Now, there’s no doubt that he’s at least surrounded by criminals.  It’s kind of hard to have a personal attorney who’s going to jail for three years, who implicated him in his crimes, and have the Federal attorneys say that there is ample evidence to charge him with multiple crimes.  Plus, the Trump Foundation was shut down for being a slush fund.

I didn’t include some of the other crazy shit like the border policies of separating children from their parents, or GOP’s attempt at rigging electoral systems across the country.  I also barely touched on how big the Democrats won in the election.  They claimed about 40 seats in the House, and won in places like Utah and Oklahoma.  They won legislative victories in Wisconsin and Michigan.  The only major races they lost are covered in so much controversy that those races are tainted, and one of them is currently headed towards a rerun.

I have no clue when the Mueller probe will end, or how big it will be when it ends.  Anyone who says they know is full of shit.  But things have changed in the last year.

I feel a sense of inevitability about impeachment.  It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” and “for which crimes?”  This isn’t just because the Democrats won the House, but because of the continuing pile-on of crimes.  Everyone in Trump’s orbit is up to their necks in some criminal behavior.  It’s only a matter of time before we have to answer the following:

  • Can a sitting President be indicted by the Federal Government?
  • What about a state?
  • How many countries are involved in the Grand Bargain/Russian Conspiracy?
  • Is treason the worst of the crimes?
  • How long will Mike Pence be President?
  • What about Nancy Pelosi?
  • How many people will Maria Butina link up with?

As of the end of the year, there have been…

Gimme a second…

34 to 45 people indicted in 2018, depending on who gets counted.  That’s a lot of witches for this witch hunt.

 

That’s it for today.  I have one more post for the year covering the weekend and New Year’s Eve.  Aside from that, I’ll see yinz next year.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

6 thoughts on “2018 Retrospective

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