The Penalties of Perjury- Mueller Closes In on Trump’s Inner Circle

It is getting toward the end of a dizzying week in American history.

We started out with the indictments that christened the name #MuellerMonday. For Paul Manafort and his henchman Rick Gates, the inevitable had happened. But the bigger news was 29 year old Trump campaign official George Papadopoulos, an unlikely piker who may soon bring down a president.

Young George, who reportedly was considering a run for office himself, has already accepted a guilty plea. Looks like he told on everybody.

 Papadopoulos communicated with several senior campaign officials about his outreach to the Russian government over a period of months. His emails were favorably noticed by senior staffers such as Paul Manafort and Trump’s nominee for head scientist of the Department of Agriculture Sam Clovis,
Trump is actually on the record in an interview with The Washington Post in March 2016, calling Papadopoulos an “excellent guy.” This is because Clovis handed him a piece of paper with Papadopoulos’ name on it.

Later on Monday, an act of savage and cowardly terrorism was carried out in New York City’s Lower Manhattan district on Tuesday. The suspect was an Uzbekistan national. He conducted a truck attack “to inflict maximum damage against civilians” in Manhattan, near the World Trade Center. It was the deadliest terrorist attack New York has seen since 9/11.

A note found in the truck claimed the attack was for ISIS.

We differ with Trump’s personality and policies in nearly every regard, but the fact remains that he is the one who’s got to manage this situation. We are hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. Since Trump has chosen already to try and cash it in for an illusory political conquest, though, it isn’t looking good.
The Editorial Board of the Washington Post characterized this reaction as downright dispiriting. Millennial Democrats are inclined to agree.
On Wednesday Trump tweeted “The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.” He adds in a subsequent tweet: “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems.”
But earlier in the month, on October 1, multimillionaire Stephen Paddock shot and killed 58 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, while wounding more than six hundred others. It was the largest mass murder in modern American history.
It happened because someone with money can buy enough ordnance to level half the country if they’re left to reign unchecked. The outrage we’re seeing from Trump these last few days was completely lacking then. Nothing to gain from talking up a white terrorist.
Trump was repeatedly asked about the impact of the shooting on his administration’s legislative opening the door for possible future gun control measures. “We’re not going to talk about that today,” he responded. “We won’t talk about that.”
It’s popular to kick immigrants around. It’s hard to stand up to the NRA lobbyists who stuck him in office.
Chuck Schumer responded from the floor of the Senate, noting that after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush brought Mr. Schumer and Hillary Clinton, then the other Democratic senator from New York, to the White House to demonstrate national unity. Nobody cared about what party they were from after 9/11. We were united in our sorrow by the sacrifice of four thousand of our people.

President Trump, where is your leadership?” Mr. Schumer asked. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution — antiterrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

A different kind of distraction was offered up Thursday as well, a very sad one. It’s always sad, to see someone turn on their own with vicious lies and slander.
We would like to thank Donna Brazile for the years of service that she gave to the Democratic Party. We are saddened and shocked beyond words at her slanders, and at her betrayal. And yet, she will be missed.
The Brazile bone was thrown to get Democrats squabbling over last year, rather than focus on what’s going on today. This is a continuation of the Uranium One strategy from last week. It was done in order to divert attention from a number of other events taking place today, events with actual significance.
This is what they do when they need to deflect attention. They manage, in one way or the next, to push a button they know will cause internal strife among the left.
It’s like when they made a big show out of announcing that Jane Sanders was being investigated by the FBI for fraud relating to her tenure as president of Vermont’s Burlington College. It was unfair, and it was not new. It had been an ongoing story for months.
But they brought it back up when they found it convenient, and threw it at us like a bone among dogs in the hopes that we’d start in on each other. That’s what’s going on today. It’s an attempt at distraction, and today, they have got a lot to distract us from.
For one thing, Jeff Sessions changed his tune again on what he knew about the campaign and Russians. Our Attorney General- the highest law enforcement officer in the country- is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill.
It appears his candor was lacking, on the subject of Russia and the Trump campaign. During his previous testimony, he swore up and down that he knew nothing about any attempts on the part of Trump campaign officials to meet with the Russians or to set up meetings with the Russians.
The revelation that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year comes in direct contravention of that statement and opens the door on charges of perjury.
Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said that despite Sessions’ testimony before the panel earlier this year, “it turns out he was at this meeting with George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos proposed meeting with Putin and Trump. He didn’t disclose that to the committee.” That’s pretty cut and dry.
Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner has seen his fortunes falling as of late. A call on Tuesday with former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon heard Trump laying blame for the expanding scandal surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference squarely on Kushner’s shoulders, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg told Vanity Fair.
“Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,” said Nunberg. “Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s f—ed.”

“Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg added.

Yet another of today’s torrential events involved billionaire Robert Mercer stepping down from his hedge fund and giving up his interest in Breitbart News, who he’s been bankrolling all this time. The ostensible reason for this, and maybe even the actual one, is that he doesn’t want to be called a racist anymore. It’s hurting him in his pockets. He is also cutting all ties with the repugnant Milo Yiannoupoulis.
There have been terrible things happening in America of every shape and size this past year. But Trump only cares about some of them. When the California wildfires ravaged wine country and ruined the lives of thousands, he gave a big smile, and offered us his “warmest respects”.
Puerto Rico was thrown under the bus completely. About the only help those Americans received, were the rolls of paper towels Trump threw to people lacking running water.
Florida and Texas, on the other hand, received all the help the federal government had to offer- from Obama-era FEMA holdovers, who did in fact largely save the day. Trump had not gotten around to firing them yet before the Congressional recess, and so the lives of many thousands were saved.
Not a day has gone by since Trump’s original travel ban, that hasn’t seen pandemonium breaking out somewhere. His pettiness and sloven has made this last year a time of great crisis, everywhere. The election was a year and three days ago. It feels like an eternity.
Trump has made it clear long ago where his priorities are. But somehow, knowing that never completely lessens the blow. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the current President of your country, or whether you voted for him, you expect to see him observe a certain decency. Good taste and kindness are not merely decorum. They bring honor to the highest office in the land. Trump doesn’t have any.
It’s a sad thought, to consider the impression he’s made on our children, the children of the millennial generation. When we were kids, we looked up to our presidents. What will our children have? All we can do is point to him as an abject example of everything we don’t want them to be.

Going forward, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

The APA has been conducting its Stress in America poll every year since 2007. The most recent provided an upsetting commentary on our collective state of mind. It found that 63 percent of Americans currently feel that the future of the country is a very significant source of stress in their lives.

59 percent of us said this is the “lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.”

People are in pain. They see confusion all around them. Economic challenges are getting worse. Disinformation and frustration have both taken a toll. We are going through it with everybody else because we are everybody else. However, it is precisely this shared sorrow that will allow us to make our voices heard.

We have a plan. We have specifics. We have continued to provide a sane and decent alternative to an increasingly messy ordeal. We will keep our noses to the grind and refuse to give in. And eventually, we will succeed.

Enough has happened today to keep analysts busy for years. What will happen next is at this point anyone’s guess. In the meantime, we stay tuned and stay focused. Things will come out all right, in the end. We’re all going to see to it.

#MuellerMonday- The First Indictments, The Writing on the Wall.

On Friday night, some long awaited good news finally showed up that special counsel Robert Mueller had criminal charges approved by a federal grand jury. It was a great weekend. We said goodbye to Roger Stone on Twitter, who spent Friday night expressing himself in the most obscene terms. He was very unhappy, as one might expect. His old partner Paul Manafort is going to prison.

On a glorious day in American history, known as #MuellerMonday, the indictments did indeed come rolling in. For Manafort and his henchman Rick Gates, a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. George Papadopoulos has already pled guilty and turned federal evidence.

Trump needs to come clean. He needs to tell us what he knows and do what he can to help his country to deal with this mess. But this will never happen. He has stalled on the application of the new Russian sanctions, and his attitude, in general, has been that Russia hasn’t done anything wrong.

He boasted yesterday when the news broke of Manafort’s indictment that it had nothing to do with him. But he was sweating after Papadopoulos, who’d been a close foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, had already accepted a guilty plea. Looks like he told on everybody.

It’s all about the sanctions. After the Russians seized the Crimea, we cramped their style with economic sanctions. They have been willing to resort to anything, in order to lift that burden and go back to their jet-set lifestyles. As a result, it’s amazing how fast the relationships between our two nations deteriorated.

Even fifteen years ago, things were significantly better. Joseph McCarthy was long gone. The Berlin Wall was torn down. Yeltsin seemed a decent enough sort. And when he vacated the office, leaving Putin behind as his chosen successor, I think most of us wanted to give him a chance.

The writer of this article remembers wishing him luck and hoping he did well for the Russian people, as a kid. It’s a sad thing, how we’ve had to become enemies with Russia again.

Of course, one of the names floated about the most was Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, who was in fact indicted on Monday. Manafort recently said he was expecting as much. Last week it was reported that Manafort was also under investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office in an alleged money-laundering scandal.

Manafort’s financial relationship with billionaire Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, is stronger than had been previously thought. The two did roughly $60 million in business dealings together over the past decade. They obviously worked well together before Manafort ripped off his longtime partner. His involvement in this was most likely motivated by a desire to “get whole” with Deripaska.

In April 2008 Manafort took $18,938,400 from Deripaska, for which he promised to return up to $100 million in Ukrainian cable television and telecommunications companies. He failed to return a cent. It seems clear this was an arranged way for him to pay his debt.

By 2008 Deripaska was one of the richest men in the world, but that was not set in stone. It largely depended on the goodwill of Putin, whose singular person is the true master of Russia’s wealth. During the Great Recession, his fortunes took a tremendous tumble. If it were not for help from the Kremlin, he likely would not have survived.

For this reason, Deripaska has proven willing to endure rough treatment at the hands of Putin for a great many years and will always be of use to him any way he can.

For example, in 2009, the factory town of Pikalevo was experiencing the most serious social unrest Russia had seen since the start of the global economic crisis.

Anxious to ensure that the Pikalevo problem remained an isolated one, Putin sought to cast himself as the town’s savior – and Oleg Deripaska as its villain.

Putin, who like Adolf Hitler is a master at ritually humiliating his subordinates, likened Deripaska to a cockroach in front of crowds of angry workers. He forced him to accompany him on a tour of a cement plant he operated in the area.

“Why has your factory been so neglected?” he demanded. “They’ve turned it into a rubbish dump. Why was everyone running around like cockroaches before my arrival? Why was no one capable of making decisions?”

Deripaska has also been a tool for Putin in ways slightly more fitting of a man’s self-worth. In 2008, he successfully drew Lord Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner at the time, into scandal after entertaining him on his yacht.

This is a classic example of Kompromat, the Russian word for the gathering of scandalous material on a political adversary.

Soon after, Mandelson was loudly hailing improved relations between Britain and Russia.

Lord Mandelson’s own relations with Russia also improved. They have kept right along improving, and tightening bonds, and working together all they can.

By last June, he wrote a letter to Putin, asking him to arbitrate a legal dispute between the Sistema defense conglomerate, which Lord Mandelson works for, and Rosneft, a state-owned Russian oil giant.

This is Putin’s M.O. He sends some flunky of an oligarch like Deripaska around to throw a party. To buy some pretty girls and booze, and create a scenario to set up decent people.

Once he’s got the goods on them, he immediately turns on the charm. It’s easy to see, how it would be all too easy to choose to get rich rather than to get ruined. In this way, little by little, Putin extends his tentacles into the farthest reaches of our countries, and all too often, our leaders. Should they not cooperate, there’s always Wikileaks.

Putin uses psychological black operations like disinformation and Kompromat like you and I use a knife and fork. He’s about making the world a worse place, one dirty little secret at a time.

The Steele Dossier, which becomes more credible by the day, claims that Putin has been cultivating Trump for more than five years. It all started with that compromising pee-tape where Russian prostitutes micturate in a bed once slept in by the Obamas. Much like the unfortunate Lord Mandelson.

One has to assume he’s been ordering Trump around the world to act as a human lightning rod, just as he’s done with Deripaska and so many others. Trump was openly blackmailed by Putin against applying any new sanctions against Russia. Sergey Lavrov said that if all of Russia’s spy houses were not returned that “maybe more than one or two more meetings might come out. Maybe they even went to the toilet together.”

 

In the meantime, the prospect of a Saturday Night Massacre in which he fires Robert Mueller through executive order is starting to look realistic. Nothing indicates that any thoughts of the country’s well-being in the case of a constitutional crisis that severe would stop Trump from going this route. Nothing indicates that anything matters to Donald Trump excepting Donald Trump.

We’ve seen Trump’s viciousness when beaten before. His attempt to bargain with the lives of our DREAMers over funding for his inane dream of a border wall is one example. His sabotage of the Affordable Care Act is another.

Steve Bannon advised him in a phone call on Monday to be more aggressive in his approach toward special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians. Bannon has been advocating for “a much more aggressive legal approach short of firing Mueller,” but it’s unlikely Trump will hesitate to do just that if he thinks for ten seconds it will save him.

The only effective weapons left in Trump’s arsenal are bluster and aggression. His core is dwindling. His approval ratings continue to paddle around the toilet of his life. His last real hope to restore some kind of order in the Oval Office, Chief of Staff John Kelly, is now himself beleaguered in drama regarding talks he recently gave praising Robert E. Lee and attributing the Civil War to a “lack of compromise.”

The writing is on the wall for Donald Trump, and he knows it. His bewilderment and frustration spilled out into a boiling series of tweets the other night, culminating in the two single most honest words he’s ever spoken.

“DO SOMETHING!”, he howled out at the unkind and indifferent stars. Perhaps he was talking to God, but it’s too late now, of course. From now on, Trump must realize that Putin has become his own personal Mephistopheles. In trying to become a king, he ended up a servant.

A Case Study in Fake News- Uranium One, The Scandal That Wasn’t.

The Uranium One story is a prime example of fake news.  It is a GOP talking point known to be false. That knowledge, however, is not very important to the Republicans, who have gone to great length to keep America talking about it this week.  The opposition has spent an awful lot of money to kick off the conversation.

The whole thing is a cheap attempt to shift the Russiagate narrative by blaming it all on Hillary Clinton.

As this was being written, the first news came back that Paul Manafort and his sidekick Rick Gates were indicted on money crimes going back to their Ukraine days. A jubilant Trump tweeted out a statement distancing himself from these activities.

But Mueller wasn’t finished. The true bombshell was yet to come.

It turns out that former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, had admitted lying to the FBI about contacts with foreign officials close to the Russian government who discussed “dirt” relating to emails linked to Clinton. He was quietly arrested on July 27. He’s been fully cooperating with the government ever since. 

This is why we’ve spent the week hearing about the Uranium One deal.

The relation of truth to a given subject is not a considered factor when we’re talking about the Trump administration. This story was manufactured conservative disinformation from beginning to end. It has been threaded back into the national narrative as a political countersuit against Democrats.

It’s just Trump’s old Manhattan real estate strategy in his new role as president. This is the political equivalent of a countersuit. The ghost of Roy Cohn has got to be gnashing its teeth in glee, down there in hell.

Joy Reid recently summed up the Trump strategy by quoting from the presidential debate last summer. “I’m no puppet. You’re a puppet”.

The idea is that to relieve the pressure on him, Trump will attempt to shift the nation’s attention and anger toward Hillary Clinton.  Accuse your enemy, of that which you are guilty of. The concept is called swiftboating. Its purpose is to scare Democrats into shutting up and going home. To make us tap out due to fear for the safety of our leader. “You leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. If not, there will be trouble.”

This is the face of fascism.  Manufactured excuses. Rampant what-aboutism. Legitimate science is either discarded or adapted. It all becomes part of the new authoritarian ideology. It is then gradually dripped into the heads of the people by the likes of Boris Epshteyn and Sebastian Gorka.

This concept is not abstract, or something that only happens elsewhere. Companies like the Sinclair Broadcasting Company, which is said to be in talks with conservative TV show host Bill O’Reilly, will be threading pro- Trump messaging into every aspect of television. Their virulent brand of right-wing commentary and so-called “classic propaganda” may soon reach three-quarters of US households.

Insofar as Democratic involvement is concerned in the U1 deal, there’s nothing controversial at all. It’s an attempt to shift the national narrative back against Trump’s enemies and give his supporters some new and soothing lie to hold on to.

The important issue here is why this ordinary transaction was cooked up into a scandal in the first place; and the troubling implications that it has for the future of American democracy.

As to the details of the controversy surrounding Uranium One, they are not very controversial.

The company is a subsidiary of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear technology corporation. In 2010, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of State, Rosatom wished to acquire a majority share of Uranium One. In order for it to share in the control of uranium mines in the United States, the sale had to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment In the United States (CFIUS).

Because the deal would ultimately place Uranium One in control of 20% of U.S. uranium production capacity, the transaction required federal approval. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump asserted that Clinton “gave 20% of our uranium — gave Russia for a big payment.” This is untrue on every level.

The mining licenses remained with U.S. subsidiaries controlled by U.S. persons. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed the transaction and gave its approval. All nine members of the CFIUS board voted for it with a clear conscience and say today they’d do the same again.

Uranium One does not hold the proper export license, so none of its uranium can be exported. It can never be taken to Russia and turned into nukes.

All the committee members have told everyone Clinton was not involved in the decision.

This “scandal” consisted of a Canadian company, the Northern Uranium Corporation,  selling a Russian company some stock in uranium.

The nuclear recycling angle, specifically the Koch Industries interest in the valuable uranium that comes out of them, is likely of tantamount importance here. The educated guess of one expert who spoke with Millennial Democrats under the conditions of anonymity is that the Kochs did not want the competition from recycled uranium.

Most likely, this was why they needed a reason to keep recycled uranium politically unpopular. They also needed a reason to keep Hillary Clinton unpopular. It would seem they put two and two together.

These two things have nothing to do with one another, but it proved easy to make it seem otherwise. This is where the slanderous spin on Uranium One came from.

This libel has no basis in any historical record. It comes out of a wingnut book called Clinton Cash. Its production was financed by an organization called the Government Accountability Institute. This is a conservative nonprofit founded by the book’s author, Peter Schweitzer. They teamed up with Breitbart’s Steve Bannon to conduct the research for the book. Billionaire Robert Mercer, the same guy who is still paying the bills for Breitbart News, signed the check on this one, too.

Needless to say, it has been thoroughly dismantled by experts.

The story was ridiculous and crooked back then, but its revival in the national dialogue at this particular time is troubling in the extreme. It means the RNC is willing to drag a private citizen into government affairs, for no reason other than to deflect attention from the truth. You don’t prosecute your political opponents using show trials and Congress in order to attack anything but the fabric of our democracy.

Going forward, the Uranium One slander serves as an excellent case study for the examining and reverse-engineering of Republican propaganda. There will be more of this to come than we can imagine; Russian ads alone reached over 120 million on Facebook this year.

By thinking critically and staying alert, however, we can spot these things as they come. We can dismantle them, dissect them, and lay bare their innards to the light.  In this manner, we will come to see how they work.

Then we hold them up as examples of the disingenuity of our opponents. Our job is to expose lies and bear witness.

There’s still a lot we can do. We still have everything it takes to fight the attempts of Trump and Putin at tyranny. The time-honored power of the vote can still save us. Make a specific plan for voting, and do what you can to get others to do the same. Once we take back the Congress, we can rid ourselves of Trump. In short, #RiseAndOrganize.