Daily Check-In 02/04/2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

Rinat Akhmetshin

A Russian-born lobbyist who attended the controversial Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 received a series of suspicious payments totaling half a million dollars before and after the encounter.

Documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News show that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Soviet military officer turned Washington lobbyist, deposited large, round-number amounts of cash in the months preceding and following the meeting, where a Russian lawyer offered senior Trump campaign officials dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The lobbyist also received a large payment that bank investigators deemed suspicious from Denis Katsyv, whose company Prevezon Holdings was accused by the US Justice Department of laundering the proceeds of a $230 million Russian tax fraud.

The Trump Tower meeting and those who attended it have become a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. As part of that inquiry, banks were asked to pull financial information on the meeting attendees, and investigators at Wells Fargo handed over documents on Akhmetshin to the US Treasury in 2017. Those records were passed to Mueller’s team, but Peter Carr, a spokesperson for the special counsel, declined to say whether the transactions are under investigation. Congressional investigators also requested the financial information from the Treasury Department.

Just last month, Natalya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer with whom Akhmetshin attended the meeting, was accused by US authorities of secretly coordinating with the Russian government while defending Katsyv in a money laundering case in New York.

Katsyv, the son of a powerful Russian figure, backed a lobbying campaign by Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya against the Magnitsky Act, a US law imposing sanctions on a group of Russians officials connected to the suspected $230 million fraud.

So, the “translator” brought in for  the June 9th meeting is also a Russian lobbyist working on the Magnitsky case with Veselnitskaya AND was paid some serious cash for his work.

There are few things that grab the attention of compliance officers and forensic accountants quite like round numbers.  This is because round numbers are pretty rare in the real world.  We have these things called taxes, which make the math on purchases and payroll a pain in the ass.  It also means that perfectly round and large deposits like $250,000 stick out like a sore thumb.  Very rarely does a large round number show up on its own in the real by chance.  But they are used constantly in large illegal or illegitimate transactions.  It would take the bank about 4 seconds to flag that transaction as suspicious and authorize an investigation.

We mentioned Rinat a few times before like on Daily Check-In 04/30/2018 & Daily Check-In 8/30/2017.

I’d go into more detail, but this isn’t the biggest story of the day.  Not by a long shot.

 

Manafort

The judge in Paul Manafort’s DC case is hearing sealed arguments starting at 10am on the special counsel’s claim that Manafort lied after signing his plea deal. They’ve covered the little windows on the doors so you can’t see in. A redacted transcript will come out after.

Latest dispatch from the exciting and glamorous world of legal journalism: Manafort’s lawyers walked out of the courtroom, but they were just taking a quick break

We’re now three hours into sealed arguments over whether Paul Manafort intentionally lied after signing his plea deal. The defense lawyers came out once early on for a quick break, and that’s it

Update: There is now a one-hour break for lunch in today’s Manafort sealed hearing. Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing confirms Manafort *is* at the hearing

Manafort’s lawyers and the special counsel office lawyers (Weissmann, Andres, and Rhee + AUSA Asonye) are back inside the courtroom now and they’ve locked the door, so we’re back on

The sealed hearing in Paul Manafort’s case ended just before 3:30pm. The lawyers politely nodded to the reporters waiting outside, but no info on what went down (there’s still a gag order in place, you may recall). So they were before the judge for roughly 4.5 hours

NEW: The judge in Paul Manafort’s DC case has rescheduled his sentencing to March 13 at 9:30 am (was previously March 5). The judge also: – ordered the parties to submit proposed redactions for releasing today’s transcript by 2/6 – set *another* sealed hearing for 2/13

Given the additional sealed hearing set for Feb. 13 (supplemental submissions are due Feb. 8), it appears the judge is pushing back Manafort’s scheduling so that she can deal with the plea deal breach issue first

 

 

COHEN, NEW YORK, AND THE OTHER LAWSUITS

Trump Inauguration Subpoenaed

Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District have subpoenaed documents from President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee, sources with direct knowledge told ABC News, indicating that even as the special counsel probe appears to be nearing an end, another investigation that could hamstring the president and his lawyers is widening.

The subpoena from the Southern District, which came from its public corruption section, is the latest activity focusing on Trump’s political fundraising both before and immediately after the 2016 election.

“We have just received a subpoena for documents. While we are still reviewing the subpoena, it is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry,” a spokesperson for the inauguration told ABC News.

Prosecutors are seeking documents and records related to the committee’s donors to the massive inauguration fund, according to sources familiar with the request. Prosecutors also are seeking information on attendees to the events surrounding the inauguration, including benefits to top-level donors such as photo opportunities with Trump, sources said.

SDNY has subpoenaed the Trump Inauguration Committee for their bank records, donations, donor lists, and any and all documents related to money.

Let the shitstorm begin.  But first, what does the Inaugural Committee do?

They’re supposed to organize the inaugural balls, parades, and parties. Think of it like organizing a couple dozen parties, a small town Memorial Day parade, and a concert in the park all for the same day. They also have to make sure that everyone has their hotel, security, and all that goes along with inviting a bunch of dignitaries and high rollers.

Where the problem lies with the Trump Inaugural Committee (TIC) is that they secured more than $100 million in donations, but didn’t spend nearly that much on the inauguration. They brought in twice as much as Obama did for 2009, but the Trump parties paled in comparison by size, cost, and number. Obama’s team spent almost all of their money and they had acts like Beyonce and Pre-Kardashian Kanye. Trump had a bunch of people who no one ever heard of, and even some of them got stiffed.

In total, Trump’s inauguration cost something like $16 million. They brought in around $107 million. That’s close to $90 million that went missing. Some of it was spent on a remodel of the Vice President’s residence, and approximately $26 million ended up with a friend of Melania. But the vast majority of it disappeared.

We’ve talked about the TIC more than a few times before (Where to Begin?, Daily Check-In 02/01/20192018 RetrospectiveThe Indicted).  The chairman of the TIC was Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s billionaire friends.  He and Roger Stone recommended Paul Manafort join the campaign in early 2016.  Barrack’s Chief of Staff on the TIC was Rick Gates.

Yes, THAT Rick Gates from Cooperating Witnesses.  How many times do I have to say that Mueller knows EVERYTHING about what happened?

But wait, this was SDNY, not Mueller!  Good, you’ve been paying attention.  I’m going to make a not-so-bold prediction that over the next 2-3 days that we’ll hear that the SDNY’s actions were based at least in part from their investigations into Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen (Daily Check-In 12/12/2018) and a referral from Special Counselor Robert Mueller.  Considering that they started looking into Cohen from a similar referral, it almost sounds a little meta.

Why the referral?  Mueller is authorized to investigate the Russian Affair and anything that leads from that, but some things are little too cumbersome or slightly out of scope.  And it’s not like he hasn’t already looked into the inauguration.  Remember Sam Patten? (Daily Check-In 08/31/2018)  He pleaded guilty to FARA violations and helping to launder Russian money into the TIC by using a cutout to purchase tickets to the inauguration, then got reimbursed by a Ukranian oligarch friend of him, Manafort, and Kostya from the GRU.  And did I mention Rick Gates, the Chief of Staff of the TIC Chairman?

SDNY has likely been on this case for a long time, and if they’re issuing these subpoenas now, it sounds like they have one hell of a case to bring against anyone involved with the inauguration, including Ivanka and Melania.

Yep, even Kremlin Barbie is up to her neck in this shit.  She was ostensibly in charge of the inauguration, but that’s like saying I put my infant daughter in charge of making dinner.  She ‘helped’ by getting in the way and being… well, being a Trump.  Remember how we heard reports of Ivanka raising the prices of services at the Trump DC Hotel and then charging that to the TIC? (Daily Check-In 11/20/2018, Daily Check-In 10/08/2018, Daily Check-In 12/14/2018)  That’s fraud.  And self-dealing.  And a few dozen other crimes, just from this event.

As far as Melania, she might want to give her friend the heads-up that the feds are looking into that missing money. (Daily Check-In 02/15/2018).

Expect some serious indictments later this year.  As Donnie Jr. said “I love it… especially later in the Summer.”

 

Undocumented Workers

 

Scotland

 

SHUTDOWN & IMMIGRATION

 

STATE OF THE UNION

 

TRUMP THE RUSSIAN ASSET A.K.A. INDIVIDUAL-1

 

FIGHTING BACK

 

Medical Opinions

 

CONGRESS

 

RIGHT WING TERRORISM & WHITE NATIONALISM

 

NORTHAM AND VIRGINIA

 

SCOTUS & COURTS

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

FIXING THE INTERNET

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

Tulsi, Greenwald, and the Kremlin

Any and all doubt that Tulsi Gabbard wasn’t bought and paid for by Russia just flew out the window.  Over the weekend, NBC News does a report that shows that the same Russian bots and trolls that pushed Sanders, Stein, and Trump are now pushing Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democratic Presidential candidate who likes Syria’s President Assad, thinks the Kremlin is okay, and pushes a Nationalistic agenda. (Daily Check-In 02/01/2019)  Instead of saying “Hey, strange coincidence” or “Screw the Russians”, Tulsi goes after NBC, the reporters who wrote the story, and anyone who isn’t on the Kremlin’s payroll.

That’s when traitor extraordinaire Glenn Greenwald shows up.  You know, the reporter who worked with Julian Assange to get Edward Snowden to spill the NSA’s secrets, helped Snowden leave the United States and ultimately end up in Russia, and helped Reality Winner get several years in prison by helping her leak NSA documents after she was cultivated by the hostile non-state group WikiLeaks?  By the way, Glenn is hiding out somewhere in South America.

Glenn joins the fray and, as the script goes, proceeds to spout every talking point he’s ever been fed from RT and Sputnik.  Of course, where Glenn goes, the trolls and bots follow.

There’s a quote I’ve seen floating around for the last few weeks.  “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”  This quote is attributed to FDR.  He made some damn good enemies.  Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito.   Tulsi Gabbard’s enemies are anyone who isn’t a traitor to the United States or on the payroll of Russian state-run media.  That’s more than enough for me to judge her.

 

Media

 

Fact Checking

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS

 

TRADE WAR, HEALTH CARE, AND ECONOMY

 

GOP: THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

 

ENVIRONMENT & SCIENCE

 

THINKING AHEAD

 

PROGRESS IS PROGRESS

 

RUMOR MILL

MINI-THREAD on the Mueller Report 1) Folks are frettin’ because they’re afraid the Mueller Report will be hidden by the White House through Trump’s Attorney General and lackey, Bill Barr.

2) Remember this. This ain’t Mueller’s first rodeo. He’s rolled up mob bosses on more than one occasion and he’s clearly treatin’ Trump just like one. The only thing different about this probe is that this mob boss is the most powerful man on the planet.

3) Mueller ain’t stupid or naive in the least and there’s no way he’s gonna spend two years of his life on this investigation only to have it filed away in Bill Barr’s top drawer.

4) Mueller will ensure we see the entire report through the numerous indictments he is bringin’. The pleadings will grow in more detail as he unveils the conspiracy portion as we approach the end.

5) As a matter of fact, we’ve already seen the beginning of his report as he started at the bottom with the Russian hackers and is buildin’ up to the part where the Trump campaign gets involved with the dissemination of the hacked information.

6) Mueller is no fool and rest assured he will do everything possible to make sure the public has a full account of his findings. EOT.

Half the times, I’m not sure what the hell Ming is saying.  The other half, I’m not sure I want to know.  As far as the typos, I’m not going to jump down the rabbit hole of reading into each and every typo like we’re deciphering chicken entrails and reading tea leaves.

 

That’s it for Monday.  Damn.  If this is happening on Monday, then the rest of the week will be nuts.

Trump is supposed to deliver the State of the Union on Tuesday.  I’m half expecting a complete and total shitshow.  The other half is expecting a complete and total clusterfuck.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

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