Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

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Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:37 pm

.

As has been clear for a whle, Manafort was not working for Russian interests. In fact, he was working for billionaire Pinchuk, of the Pinchuk Foundation, which is tight with the Atlanticist types and the Clinton Foundation.

https://pinchukfund.org/en/

Pinchuk was the main financial backer of Yatsenyuk, the former central banker and committed neoliberal who ran the first government after the Maidan coup and oversaw the start of the Ukrainian civil war. He is an ally to Poroshenko.

It's always pleasing to see a top level anti-democratic lobbyist get nailed for money laundering, but it's also true that Manafort is just like a whole bunch of others in the same criminal class of U.S. global-money lobbyists who continue to act with impunity, and who roam freely as the power-brokers on both sides of the American kayfabe line. After 30 years of shady dealings, his luck ran out after his role with the Trump campaign and targeting by the special counsel.

Manafort had been lobbying, advising, I guess managing Yanukovych for 10 years, even ran his 2010 campaign for him. (So damn bizarre, this colonized mindset of the comprador bourgeoisie, who call in American consultants to run their campaigns, and it doesn't produce a backlash among their people.)

It worked, Yanukovych won in 2010 and the next year he even imprisoned Yuliya Tymoshenko -- against Manafort's advice, it seems. Manafort's whole thing with Yanukovych in 2011-14 was to get him to sign the EU deal, not the Russian offer. Which again, has been known all along. Pinchuk and a few other Ukrainian oligarchs (i.e., not pro-Russian) were paying him big bucks to pitch a plan called "Engage Ukraine" for integrating the country into the EU sphere, and he was bringing EU politicians to Kiev to meet Yanukovych.

It was only at the last minute, in Nov. 2013, when the EU demanded harsher conditions in the deal (higher debt load, more austerity) -- that part is usually forgotten or left out -- that Yanukovych backed out and took the Russian offer. The pro-EU protests started. A couple of months later there were all the killings attributed to the police (not clear), and Yanukovych was soon out, replaced by the interim government of Yatsenyuk in coalition with McCain's Nazi friends.

The free-spending Manafort was soon out his main clients, but he did play roles for Pinchuk and the eventual billionaire president and chocolate king Poroshenko for the next couple of months. (See the Vice article). Which really torpedoes the whole idea that Manafort was a puppet of the "Russian puppet" Yanukovych. Yanukovych tumbled and Manafort kept working for the guys who tumbled him.

But once that was done...

Understand, it was Pinchuk paying the bills to have Manafort work Yanukovych, Yanukovych was not his boss but sort of the other way around at times. So after when Pinchuk and Co. dump him is when it seems he had a liquidity crunch and went wild with all the Cypriot shell deals to evade U.S. taxes, which is what he got convicted for. Gates was the intermediary who sang against Manafort. (Manafort also got nailed for never announcing himself as a lobbyist for Ukraine in the U.S.)

After that, Manafort got his stint as campaign manager for Trump. It was in this post-Pinchuk period that any "collusion" with Russians might have happened, separately from the Ukrainian business. I'm saying that only because it's possible if you really, really want to believe in so-far invisible entities, but there's none of that in the Mueller case.

So, this is a conviction of a lobbyist for the "pro-US" current Ukrainian establishment, not an agent of the "pro-Russia" Yanukovych, and he always worked a U.S. and pro-EU agenda. This hasn't stopped the MSNBC gang from continuing to spend hours claiming the exact opposite.

Now comes a kind of kill shot for Russiagate, but only in the real world. Empires make the facts they like and Russiagaters will continue to worship at their golden calf:

An actual participant in the Fusion GPS "Steele Dossier," Graham Stack, has come forward to reject his own research and say he was mistaken about Manafort's loyalties -- also to praise him for having tried to sway Yanukovych towards the EU and U.S. to the end.

Stack was published yesterday in the Ukrainian, anti-Russian press, the Kyiv Post!

Stack does wonder if Manafort pushed Yanukovych into ordering a police attack on the Euromaidan protests as a way to inspire an international backlash against him, and thus to make Yanukovych reverse and take the EU deal. This seems awfully complicated and risky, but much more may have been involved in that. His own daughters who broke with him seem to think he was was the one sending out the protesters to get slaughtered! (That's in Stack and the Vice story.)

Not only is this stuff solid, backed by the Mueller case itself, but it's devastating for coming from these outlets.

Whatever else you think of Mueller of the anthrax probe, the Iraq war support, and all the rest -- wait, I think the same things -- he doesn't seem to be an idiot. Sensibly he's not bothering with constructing the Russiagaters' fantasy of Putin controlling Trump, or of a master plan to elect him that actually worked (through those FB ads). He's just nailing whoever who can nab for actual financial crimes. It's not like he could ever lose the love of the Russiagaters, who continue to construct out of him a hero who's going topple not just Trump for them but also Putin.

And I doubt he's going to actually nail Trump, although there is always plenty there on emoluments now and money laundering in the past. The actual Trump criminal dealings just won't have enough Russia and way too much U.S. in them. The indisputable election fixing was the same kind we've seen for about 20 years, since the selection of Bush, and it's the GOP and the American oligarchs doing it, with astonishing consistency and success and no peep from the media.

Their adoption and construction of Russiagate has served a variety of agendas (empire, anti-Russian, pro-CIA, getting the Democrats off the hook for the impossible feat of losing to Trump) but without a doubt it has served Trump. The real collusion, the voter suppression, and the corporate media assistance to Trump, remains something that can be mentioned as news item No. 6 (or not at all, in the latter case), but is unspeakable as the headliner.

Trump loooks likely to end widely hated and discredited in any case, but with the whole awesomely destructive and morally criminal political agenda fully normalized. These guys want to write a history wherein he wasn't the guy who threatened a nuclear war in front of the UN and escalated coal mining and forced the DAPL at Standing Rock and deregulated everything environmental and put plunder-and-burn billionaires in charge of the cabinet posts that they want to destroy. Or who got to flip the courts for the next who knows how long. Or who apologized for Nazis, ginned up the racism and xenophobia and escalated the violence of the immigration control, and laughed about it all in public as a further message to his adoring base. No, his great crimes for them were that he flipped (for now) on nuking Korea and that he doesn't want a nuclear war with Russia just yet. He may yet please them by invading Venezuela.

Links:


Just read all of Aaron Maté's twitter feed for a dozen screens, it's very entertaining.

https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/9 ... 5043497984

Stack in Kyiv Post.


https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opinio ... reloaded=1

Graham Stack: Everything you know about Paul Manafort is wrong

By Graham Stack. Published Sept. 17. Updated Sept. 17 at 12:16 pm

It is a huge irony of U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into alleged collusion between U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 election campaign and the Kremlin, that the biggest fish caught to date is charged with the doing the opposite of colluding with Russia: Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has pled guilty to charges of (undeclared) lobbying for Ukraine in 2012-2013 to sign a political and trade association agreement with the European Union that would rescue it once and for all from the Kremlin’s grasp.

Not that you would be aware of this from the media coverage around the trials of Manafort (he has already stood trial and been found guilty of tax fraud in Virginia in August). Among the huge amount of noise about Manafort, the basic facts about his activity in Ukraine 2010-2015 have been obscured.

There have been scores of media articles about Manafort – and 90 percent regurgitate the simplistic narrative of Manafort as a Kremlin trojan horse. This narrative was developed by Washington commercial intelligence firm Fusion GPS in 2016, as part of their now famous dossier on Trump, distributed widely among major media outlets.

As a contributor to the Fusion GPS research on Manafort, I share the blame. Because we got Manafort almost completely wrong.

What we got wrong about Manafort – and what Mueller has got partly right in his indictment – is that Manafort was nothing like a pro-Kremlin influence on the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, as the dossier alleged. Instead, Manafort was one of the driving forces pushing Yanukovych towards signing the agreement with the EU. The Kremlin has every reason to hate him.

An army of armchair experts pronounces on Manafort’s ‘pro-Russian’ role in Ukraine – with a copy of the Fusion GPS report close to hand. None of them ask why the supposedly “pro-Russian: Yanukovych had taken Ukraine to the verge of signing a far-reaching agreement with the EU in November 2013 – an association agreement that would see Ukraine removed from the fateful Russian orbit for good?

The road to Vilnius

Largely thanks to Manafort, in November 2013, Ukraine was one step away from signing the historic Association Agreement at the summit of the EU’s Eastern Partnership held in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

Manafort’s ally in the pro-EU push was the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff Serhiy Lovochkin. According to Yanukovych confidante Nestor Shufrich, former deputy head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, the pro-EU course had been “Lovochkin’s and Manafort’s game, it was them who foisted the idea on Yanukovych that it was achievable.” Former Poland President Aleksandr Kwasnwiewski has also confirmed that Lovochkin and Manafort together comprised the pro-EU heart of the Yanukovych administration.

Manafort was amazingly successful in bringing Ukraine into the Western fold. After the jailing by Yanukovych of opposition leader and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011, it seemed any attempt by Ukraine to pursue closer ties with the West were dead in the water. But only two years later, Kyiv was a step away from signing the association agreement with Brussels that would create a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between EU and Ukraine.

But any mention that Manafort was a driving force behind Ukraine’s move to sign up with the EU instead of with Russia – a key part of the Mueller indictment – was missing from the Fusion GPS dossier, and as a result, has been missing from most mainstream media coverage.

This does not mean Manafort was a good guy: He had lots of reasons to be pro-EU, and all of them had a dollar sign. He received $42mn payments received for his pro-EU lobbying from Lyovochkin, according to his former employee Rick Gates’s testimony at the first trial in August. This was twice as much as Manafort received from all other Ukrainian sources taken together. Lyovochin denies the payments.

Manafort’s relationship to Lovochkin explains why he never pushed Yanukovych to do the most obvious thing to clinch the deal with the EU – to release opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko from jail: Lovochkin was not just a government official, but also the junior partner in business of notorious gas oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Firtash and Tymoshenko were sworn enemies. Yanukovych had jailed Tymoshenko in 2011 for having destroyed Firtash’s gas trading business during her time as prime minister.

Manafort’s pitch to the EU was that EU should sign the agreement with Ukraine despite Tymoshenko’s jailing. According to Mueller’s indictment, Manafort retained a raft of EU eminence grises arguing the same, while also paying a U.S. law firm to argue that the Tymoshenko conviction was legitimate.

Largely due to Manafort’s lobbying effort by November 2013, the EU had caved in, giving Ukraine the all-clear to sign the agreement in November. It was only Yanukovych’s cravenness in the face of Kremlin fury that prevented Ukraine signing in 2013.

Manafort for all seasons

Manafort’s pro-EU role 2012-2013 accounts for his Ukrainian career continuing uninterrupted into the post-Yanukovych years – and even his helping set up a new pro-EU government in Kyiv in 2014.

These activities were also omitted by the Fusion GPS dossier.

Manafort’s role in the post-Maidan settlement in 2014 was a key revelation of the Gates testimony in August. The prosecution produced documents showing Manafort to have consulted both boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko and chocolate king Petro Poroshenko in May 2014 as they campaigned for the respective posts of mayor of Kyiv and president of Ukraine. Both men won. (They now deny having hired Manafort for their campaigns).

Manafort may have been more than mere consultant to the new powers in Kyiv. Flight records show that Manafort was in Vienna on March 25, 2014. This was the date of a crucial “kingmaker” meeting in Vienna between Lyovochkin, Firtash, Poroshenko and Klichko, where it was decided that Klichko would not run for president against Poroshenko, effectively crowning Poroshenko.

Indeed far from being persona non-grata following Yanukovych’s ouster, during the post-revolution election campaigns in April and May 2014, Manafort spent a total of 27 days in Kyiv.

And his last engagement in Ukraine were the regional elections of late October 2015, this time working for Lyovochkin’s new puppet opposition party. He stayed in Ukraine four weeks in the run-up to the vote – only months before signing on for Trump.

Manafort’s Euromaidan?

The biggest unanswered question regarding Manafort is not – was he a Kremlin agent, but: just how far did Manafort and Lyovochkin go in trying to push Yanukovych back towards the EU, after he backed out of the EU agreement in late November 2013 under Kremlin pressure? What was their relationship to the pro-EU protests that broke out and the police violence in response?

According to a cryptic messaging exchange between Manafort’s daughters, which was hacked in 2016, it was none other than the arch spin doctor who hatched a plan to “to send those people [protestors] out and get them slaughtered.” “Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that Revolts and what not […] As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine.” Manafort’s millions for Ukraine lobbying were called “blood money”.

According to the daughters, for secrecy Manafort and his co-conspirators wrote the messages in the drafts of a shared email account – and Mueller has not found it.

Those messages seen by Manafort’s family may confirm other high-level allegations that Lyovochkin and his team were behind the wantonly violent – and highly televised – dispersal by riot police of a small picket of pro-EU students protests on the night of November 29. The aim: to “outrage the world” and thus generate political pressure on Yanukovych to stay with the West.

“Lyovochkin was the author of the dispersal of the [students’] Maidan and should be in prison, not in parliament,” Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov said on its third anniversary in 2016. But Ukrainian prosecutors have ignored the allegations, and Lyovochkin himself fiercely denies any involvement.

This sudden outbreak of police violence triggered Ukraine – and spiraled into the mass demos of the Euromaidan two days later, and ultimately the shooting of scores of demonstrators on February 22, 2014, and the flight of Yanukovych

Was Manafort’s real crime not pushing Yanukovych into the Kremlin’s embrace, but staging violence against demonstrators to achieve the opposite – a ruse that then spiraled out of control? Was this what the Manafort daughters were referring to in their texts? This is one of the secrets that Mueller has not asked about – and nor did the misguided Fusion GPS dossier.



Vice on Gates on Manafort, already from August 7. Do I need to highlight all the Pinchuks?


https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/zmk ... t-millions

news.vice.com
Rick Gates spills the beans on the super-rich Ukrainians who paid Paul Manafort millions – VICE News
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — Rick Gates, once Paul Manafort’s right-hand man, now seems intent on showing how his former boss could afford that infamous $15,000 ostrich jacket.

Gates hopped back on the witness stand Tuesday to continue a second day of testimony that could send Manafort, President Trump’s ex-campaign chief, to prison for the rest of his life.

Gates switched from detailing the crimes the pair committed together to talking about wealthy Ukrainians. Specifically, those who paid Manafort for his campaign-consulting and policy work. After Manafort led the successful campaign of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2010, Manafort signed a $4 million annual advisory agreement to help the administration translate campaign pledges into reality, Gates said.

Gates said that:

Their shell companies in Cyprus had transferred money between themselves in payments disguised as loans
Manafort crafted a policy for Yanukovych aimed at bringing Ukraine into the European Union called “Engage Ukraine”
Manafort recruited top former European politicians to help out with that effort
Manafort’s income fell precipitously after Yanukovych stepped down in 2014
Manafort then had trouble paying his bills
Manafort then worked briefly advising Ukraine’s current president, Petro Poroshenko
A day after describing a web of 15 secret shell companies that Gates said he and Manafort used to receive payments from Ukraine — and conceal the income from U.S. authorities — he rattled off about a dozen more offshore entities he said were used by wealthy, powerful Ukrainians to pay the American consultants millions.

Read: Rick Gates says he did crimes with Paul Manafort and stole his money

Gates said those companies were controlled by men including Borys Kolesnikov, a Ukrainian politician and former Ukrainian Minister of Transportation; and Serhiy Lyovochkin, who at one point served as Yanukovych’s chief of staff.

Gates said that one of those companies was controlled by a Ukrainian businessman who later reportedly paid President Trump $150,000 to give a speech ahead of the 2016 election. That Ukrainian tycoon is named Victor Pinchuk, and the company he used to pay Manafort was called Plymouth Consultants Ltd, Gates said.

The payments from Pinchuk to Manafort were specifically related to a legal project, Gates said, without immediately giving further details.

One of the companies was dedicated to making payments that “funded a lobbying campaign in the United States and EU,” Gates said.

Gates also detailed how Manafort planned to help Ukraine enter the EU, through his project, “Engage Ukraine.”

“Engage Ukraine became the strategy for helping Ukraine enter the European Union,” he told prosecutors Tuesday..

As Gates dove into specifics, Manafort, 69, watched his former deputy with a mixture of bottled rage and contempt, occasionally turning to the screen in front of him, which displayed the contracts Gates said they had arranged with Ukrainian politicians.

Prosecutors have said Manafort earned $60 million while advising Yanukovych, but that he only declared, or paid taxes on, a fraction of it. Manafort faces a number of federal tax and bank-fraud charges in Alexandria, VA.

Money shuffled between shell companies in Cyprus were declared loans, but were really payments, Gates said.

“In Cyprus, they were classified as loans,” Gates said. “In reality, it was money moving between these accounts.” He said many of the documents involved were written out later and “back-dated.”

Gates also related some details about the time when he and Manafort were interviewed by the FBI in 2014. He said Manafort dispatched him to tell Lyovochkin that the interview was happening. But Gates said he didn’t think, at the time, that he or his boss were actually the targets of an investigation.

“The majority of the Cypriot accounts had been closed by the time of the interview,” Gates said.

Gates said that after Yanukovych stepped down and fled to Russia in 2014 amid political chaos, Manafort’s income stream dried up because his Ukrainian backers were no longer running the country.

“They were out of power, so the income streams were more difficult to come by,” Gates said. That fits with an argument by the prosecution that after Manafort’s “golden goose” in Ukraine, Yanukovych, fell from Grace, Manafort began borrowing heavily from U.S. banks using fraudulent applications .

Gates also pushed back against the notion, floated by Manafort’s defense team in their opening argument, that Manafort had been frequently hard to reach while he traveled. That view has been put forward by Manafort’s team as evidence that Gates himself was responsible for any financial misdeeds at their consultancy, as an untrustworthy deputy who took advantage when his boss’s back was turned.

Manafort’s team has signaled they plan to attempt to undermine Gates’ reputation by portraying him as a liar who has already admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his former boss.

That onslaught is expected to kick off later Tuesday during Gates’ cross-examination. But in the hands of the prosecution, Gates has left seemingly no stone unturned. By the time his testimony wraps, he’ll likely have spent at least 5 hours being questioned by prosecutors.

Cover image: Rick Gates, former campaign aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


Last edited by JackRiddler on Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The real Manafort story is out

Postby Grizzly » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:42 pm

But, muy RussiaRussiaRussia!
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:45 pm

There is a good Russiagate skepticism thread more about it as a psychosocial phenomenon.

The Russian Conspiracy as RI subject, first page
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40434

current last page
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40434&p=661049

Perhaps this one can be reserved more for news as the "election collusion" narrative unravels -- but I hope, at least, cripples this administration for the actual corrupt dealings of the Trump circle. Given how much worse things can get under a Pence too, I'm not sure I want Trump out but lamed would be a start. (At some point his own crew would 25 him if that really happens, citing national crisis.)

Aaron Maté, or "The Beast" as he was approvingly called:

www.thenation.com

The Mueller Investigation Is Sending People to Jail—but Not for Collusion

(Aaron Mate, 13 September)
https://www.thenation.com/article/the-m ... collusion/

The belief that George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort would turn over evidence of collusion with Russia got ahead of reality.
The anonymous government official who revealed a “resistance” inside the White House has heightened the sense of doom hanging over Donald Trump’s presidency. A stream of disparaging claims from other White House insiders, the multiple criminal cases enveloping Trump’s inner circle, and the ongoing special-counsel investigation into possible collusion with the Russian government have all also added to anticipation of Trump’s imminent downfall. But the widespread perception that “the walls are closing in”; on a “ “teetering” Trump presidency is getting ahead of reality. While figures eyed as central to the suspected Trump-Russia conspiracy—campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos, longtime fixer Michael Cohen, and campaign manager Paul Manafort—have been convicted of criminal activity, their cases have not bolstered the case for collusion as many liberals had hoped.

Last week, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI about the timing of his contacts with a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud. According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud claimed to have connections to Russia and information that the Kremlin had obtained Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. In May 2016, Papadopoulos relayed vague details about his conversation with Mifsud to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. According to press accounts, a tip from Downer about his encounter with Papadopoulos sparked the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into alleged Trump-Russia ties.

Because Papadopoulos may have purportedly heard about stolen e-mails before their public release, he has been widely scouted as “Exhibit A” for a Trump-Kremlin conspiracy, part of a “secret channel through which the Russian government was able to communicate with the Trump campaign as it stole Democratic emails and weaponized them to help Trump win the presidency,” according to James Risen of The Intercept. In the end, Papadopoulos did not fill that role. According to special counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memo, Papadopoulos “did not provide ‘substantial assistance’” during his interviews in August and September of 2017. But in remarks made after his sentencing, Papadopoulos says that “I did my best…and offered what I knew.” It is not a surprise that he did not have much to offer. Not only did the Trump campaign rebuff Papadopoulos’s proposals to set up meetings with Russian officials, Papadopoulos now says that “I never met with a single Russian official in my life.”

Mueller’s sentencing memo also confirms that after FBI agents interviewed Papadopoulos in January 2017, they interviewed Mifsud just weeks later in Washington, DC. Despite his being the figure whose comments ostensibly led to the opening of the Trump-Russia investigation—making him a suspected Kremlin cutout—Mifsud was not detained then, nor has he been charged since.

Mueller appears to blame Papadopoulos for this. Papadopoulos, Mueller claims, “substantially hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question” Mifsud when they spoke to him just a few weeks later. Papadopoulos’s lies, they allege, “undermined investigators’ ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States.… The defendant’s lies also hindered the government’s ability to discover who else may have known or been told about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on Clinton.”

The claim is puzzling. In his sentencing memo, Mueller acknowledges that Papadopoulos “identified” Mifsud to FBI agents voluntarily, though “only after only after being prompted by a series of specific questions.” That is why Papadopoulos has not pleaded guilty to lying about Mifsud, but only about the timing of his contacts with them: He falsely told agents that he was not yet a member of the Trump campaign when he and Mifsud spoke. In that same interview, Papadopoulos told agents that Mifsud informed him that the Russians “have dirt on [Clinton]” in the form of “thousands of emails.” Given that Papadopoulos not only informed FBI agents of Mifsud’s identity but also of the “dirt” he floated, how could Papadopoulos have “hindered” their ability to find out what Mifsud knows?

As Papadopoulos appears to exit the collusion bracket, longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen has recently emerged front and center. On July 26, CNN reported that Cohen is prepared to tell Mueller that Trump had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russian nationals. The incident has been the subject of intense focus because Donald Trump Jr. was promised compromising information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Veteran Clinton operative turned Cohen spokesperson Lanny Davis fanned the flames. Hours after Cohen’s indictment on August 21, Davis told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Cohen “is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows,” including about “the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude.… in the 2016 election” and even “whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time” about Russian e-mail hacking “and even cheered it on.”

Davis’ qualified language (“obvious possibility,” “whether or not”) was easily overlooked, but the specter of perjury could not be. The co-chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, noted that Cohen had testified to them last fall that that he has no knowledge of any Trump-Russia collusion and that he didn’t even find out about the Trump Tower meeting until it was publicly reported in June 2017—one year after it took place. Burr and Warner also revealed that in response to CNN’s story, Cohen’s attorneys informed them that he is not changing his testimony.

Davis quickly dropped the innuendo. Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on August 22 if Cohen has information that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting in advance, Davis replied, “ No, he does not.” Davis also abandoned his suggestion, made just 24 hours earlier to Maddow, that Cohen can tie Trump to advance knowledge of Russian e-mail hacking. Davis told Cooper that he was “more tentative on that” and that he only meant that he believes Cohen “may or not be useful” to Mueller, even though “it’s not a certainty the way [Cohen] recalls it.” Davis was, he clarified in the same CNN interview, just relying on his own “intuition.”

Yet this clarification proved to be more consequential than perhaps Davis intended. The Washington Post and the New York Post revealed that they had used Davis as an anonymous source for their own stories “confirming” the initial July 26 CNN report. “I should have been more clear—including with you—that I could not independently confirm what happened,” Davis told The Washington Post, adding his regrets. Davis also continued to back off of his hacking claims, explaining that he was merely “giving an instinct that [Cohen] might have something to say of interest,” though, yet again, “I am just not sure.”

But Davis was not done; he then revealed that he had also been used as anonymous source for CNN’s initial story. This did not just raise a sourcing issue for CNN but a potential scandal: In its initial report, CNN had falsely claimed that Davis had declined to comment. This meant that CNN had not just relied on a source who no longer stood by his story, but mislead readers into believing that he was not a source. To date, CNN has yet to offer an explanation for the gaffe—which, along with the failure to explain it—is not a first.

In his dizzying retraction tour, Davis also raised doubts about another story that had been circulating for months. In April, McClatchy reported that Mueller’s team has information about Cohen that could corroborate a key claim in the Steele dossier, the DNC-funded report alleging a high-level conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The dossier claims that Cohen visited Prague in August or September 2016 to meet with Russian officials as part of his key role “in a cover up and damage limitation operation” over the hacking of Democratic Party emails. Citing two sources, McClatchy claimed that Mueller “has evidence” that Cohen secretly visited Prague during the period in question. Davis now says that that claim is false. Cohen, Davis told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, was “never, ever in Prague.”

The only story Cohen has affirmed is the one he shared in court: that Trump, in order to influence the election outcome, directed him to make a hush-money payment to cover up for an extramarital affair. That allegation may or may not prove to be sufficient grounds for impeachment, but they decidedly do not fall under Robert Mueller’s purview.

Cohen’s indictment coincided with Paul Manafort’s conviction on tax-evasion and bank-fraud charges related to his political consulting work in Ukraine. It is often speculated that Manafort’s Ukraine stint is relevant to a Trump-Russia conspiracy plot because, the theory goes, he served Kremlin interests during his time there. The opposite is the case, as Manafort’s former partner-turned-prosecution-witness, Rick Gates, reaffirmed during trial. Gates testified that Manafort pushed his client, then–Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to align with the European Union and away from Russia. According to Gates, Manafort was paid lucratively to craft a policy known as “Engage Ukraine,” which “became the strategy for helping Ukraine enter the European Union.” Given that the tug-of-war between Russia and the EU (with US backing) over Ukraine sparked a full-blown international crisis and a new Cold War, Manafort’s strategy would be an odd one for a supposed Kremlin stooge.

Putting aside Manafort’s record in Ukraine, there have been attempts to tie him to a potential Russia conspiracy via his financial debts to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. During the campaign, Manafort wrote to an associate about leveraging his position in the Trump camp in order to “get whole” with Deripaska, even suggesting that he offer “private briefings.” Could this have been, pundits suggest, where a collusion plot was hatched?

Deripaska denies ever having been offered private briefings by Manafort. Another impediment to tying Deripaska to a Trump-Russia collusion plot is that Deripaska has connections to the figure arguably most responsible for the allegations of collusion. Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent whose DNC-funded “dossier” alleged a longstanding Trump-Kremlin conspiracy, has served as an intermediary for contacts between Deripaska and US officials. Deripaska even has a link to Mueller and the federal agency he once headed. In 2009, when Mueller was in charge of the FBI, Deripaska ponied up millions of dollars for a secret effort to rescue a captured CIA operative, Robert Levinson, in Iran. In return, the FBI—with the encouragement of Steele—helped secure a visa for Deripaska, who had been banned from the United States for alleged ties to Russian organized crime. In short, Deripaska’s various contacts make plain that Manafort’s financial ties to him, illicit or not, do not necessarily lead to a Kremlin conspiracy.

Most critically, Mueller has yet to allege one. Prosecutors openly acknowledged before Manafort’s first trial that the case had nothing to do with “evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government,” while the judge in Manafort’s upcoming second trial notes that the collusion investigation is “wholly irrelevant to the charges in this case.”

The same could be said for all of the other charges in the Mueller investigation to date. Mueller has uncovered criminal activity, but not as of yet a conspiracy with a foreign power. Should that trend continue, it need not be a defeat for the resistance. The Russiagate fixation has diverted attention from many of Trump’s damaging policies and turned vast segments of the public into spectators of an endless drama. A political opposition mobilized around a range of issues that materially impact Americans—and no longer counting on Mueller’s investigation—may be the strongest threat that Trump could face.

Update: One day after this article was published, Paul Manafort reached a cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to avoid bringing his second case to trial. Citing an anonymous source, NPR reports that Manafort’s deal “does not include matters involving the Trump campaign,” though the plea deal itself is open-ended. It calls for Manafort’s assistance “in any and all matters as to what the Government deems the cooperation relevant.” Time will tell what Manafort actually provides. Meanwhile, the exhibits attached to Mueller’s new superseding indictment corroborate my argument in this article and in previous ones that, contrary to the predominant narrative, Manafort actually pursued a pro-West, anti-Russia agenda in Ukraine. In one email, Manafort proposes to “reinforce the key geopolitical messaging of how ‘Europe and the U.S. should not risk losing Ukraine to Russia.'”

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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:18 am

Since you're paying closer attention than me: I get the impression Manafort has walked through all this like Matthew 14:25 -- that he protected the right interests (CFR crowd) and he will still have a career waiting when he gets out of prison.

What is your read on that?
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:10 pm

It was the Stack article that got me looking at it the other day more closely again. I have definitely not been following that closely. Like, who was in court, who's his lawyer, etc. This guy will go to prison for a while, and if he comes out after that (I don't mean it will be dangerous in the country club, but he is old), he will be no one who can be used in a public role again. So does he get considerations in retirement? I don't know, seems they already bounced him at some point in 2014, which is why he started working the offshore tax evasion deals and went to work with Trump. He solicited that, by the way, and apparently worked for free, presumably looking for a win and a post in the admin. This is the period when he turned to Oleg Derispaska, the Russian copper oligarch - whom the FBI had been trying to get as an informant. I don't know, try and figure it out. Derispaska is central to the "collusion" narrative as one of the supposed Putin proxies who channeled the contacts. The NYT has the all-time Russiagate Coverage Complete with Many Evil Putin Memes today, nothing new and loads of unproven assumptions in it, I guess to revive the lagging Russiagate narrative, displacing Kavanaugh and one year since Maria and everything else happening. Earlier this month they had a piece on Derispaska and the FBI trying to flip him. Where the hell did they get that picture of him in green and orange light, to make it really really sinister?


Agents Tried to Flip Russian Oligarchs. The Fallout Spread to Trump.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/01/us/p ... e-fbi.html

By Kenneth P. Vogel and Matthew Rosenberg
Sept. 1, 2018



WASHINGTON — In the estimation of American officials, Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin, has faced credible accusations of extortion, bribery and even murder.

They also thought he might make a good source.

Between 2014 and 2016, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department unsuccessfully tried to turn Mr. Deripaska into an informant. They signaled that they might provide help with his trouble in getting visas for the United States or even explore other steps to address his legal problems. In exchange, they were hoping for information on Russian organized crime and, later, on possible Russian aid to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to current and former officials and associates of Mr. Deripaska.

In one dramatic encounter, F.B.I. agents appeared unannounced and uninvited at a home Mr. Deripaska maintains in New York and pressed him on whether Paul Manafort, a former business partner of his who went on to become chairman of Mr. Trump’s campaign, had served as a link between the campaign and the Kremlin.

The attempt to flip Mr. Deripaska was part of a broader, clandestine American effort to gauge the possibility of gaining cooperation from roughly a half-dozen of Russia’s richest men, nearly all of whom, like Mr. Deripaska, depend on President Vladimir V. Putin to maintain their wealth, the officials said.

Two of the players in the effort were Bruce G. Ohr, the Justice Department official who has recently become a target of attacks by Mr. Trump, and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a dossier of purported links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The systematic effort to win the cooperation of the oligarchs, which has not previously been revealed, does not appear to have scored any successes. And in Mr. Deripaska’s case, he told the American investigators that he disagreed with their theories about Russian organized crime and Kremlin collusion in the campaign, a person familiar with the exchanges said. The person added that Mr. Deripaska even notified the Kremlin about the American efforts to cultivate him.

But the fallout from the efforts is now rippling through American politics and has helped fuel Mr. Trump’s campaign to discredit the investigation into whether he coordinated with Russia in its interference in the election.

The contacts between Mr. Ohr and Mr. Steele were detailed in emails and notes from Mr. Ohr that the Justice Department turned over to Republicans in Congress earlier this year. A number of journalists, including some at conservative news outlets, have reported on elements of those contacts but not on the broader outreach program to the oligarchs or key aspects of the interactions between Mr. Ohr, Mr. Steele and Mr. Deripaska.

The revelation that Mr. Ohr engaged with Mr. Steele has provided the president’s allies with fresh fodder to attack the investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, casting it as part of a vast, long-running conspiracy by a “deep state” bent on undermining Mr. Trump. In their telling, Mr. Ohr and his wife — who worked as a contractor at the same research firm that produced the dossier — are villainous central players in a cabal out to destroy the president.

Mr. Trump himself has seized on the reports, threatening to pull Mr. Ohr’s security clearance and claiming that his family “received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier.”


While Mr. Steele did discuss the research that resulted in the dossier with Mr. Ohr during the final months of the campaign, current and former officials said that Mr. Deripaska was the subject of many of the contacts between the two men between 2014 and 2016.

A timeline that Mr. Ohr hand-wrote of all his contacts with Mr. Steele was among the leaked documents cited by the president and his allies as evidence of an anti-Trump plot.

The contacts between Mr. Steele and Mr. Ohr started before Mr. Trump became a presidential candidate and continued through much of the campaign.

Mr. Deripaska’s contacts with the F.B.I. took place in September 2015 and the same month a year later. The latter meeting came two months after the F.B.I. began investigating Russian interference in the election and a month after Mr. Manafort left the Trump campaign amid reports about his work for Russia-aligned political parties in Ukraine.

The outreach to Mr. Deripaska, who is so close to the Russian president that he has been called “Putin’s oligarch,” was not as much of a long shot as it might have appeared.

He had worked with the United States government in the past, including on a thwarted effort to rescue an F.B.I. agent captured in Iran, on which he reportedly spent as much as $25 million of his own money. And he had incentive to cooperate again in the run-up to the 2016 election, as he tried to win permission to travel more easily to the United States, where he has long sought more freedom to do business and greater acceptance as a global power broker.

Mr. Steele sought to aid the effort to engage Mr. Deripaska, and he noted in an email to Mr. Ohr in February 2016 that the Russian had received a visa to travel to the United States. In the email, Mr. Steele said his company had compiled and circulated “sensitive” research suggesting that Mr. Deripaska and other oligarchs were under pressure from the Kremlin to toe the Russian government line, leading Mr. Steele to conclude that Mr. Deripaska was not the “tool” of Mr. Putin alleged by the United States government.

The timeline sketched out by Mr. Ohr shows contacts stretching back to when Mr. Ohr first met Mr. Steele in 2007. It also shows what officials said was the first date on which the two discussed cultivating Mr. Deripaska: a meeting in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014, roughly seven months before Mr. Trump announced that he was running for president.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an initiative that remains classified. Most expressed deep discomfort, saying they feared that in revealing the attempts to cultivate Mr. Deripaska and other oligarchs they were undermining American national security and strengthening the grip that Mr. Putin holds over those who surround him.

But they also said they did not want Mr. Trump and his allies to use the program’s secrecy as a screen with which they could cherry-pick facts and present them, sheared of context, to undermine the special counsel’s investigation. That, too, they said they feared, would damage American security.

The program was led by the F.B.I. Mr. Ohr, who had long worked on combating Russian organized crime, was one of the Justice Department officials involved.

Mr. Steele served as an intermediary between the Americans and the Russian oligarchs they were seeking to cultivate. He had first met Mr. Ohr years earlier while still serving at MI6, Britain’s foreign spy agency, where he oversaw Russia operations. After retiring, he opened a business intelligence firm, and had tracked Russian organized crime and business interests for private clients, including one of Mr. Deripaska’s lawyers.

To facilitate meetings, the F.B.I. pushed the State Department to allow Mr. Deripaska to travel to New York on a Russian diplomatic passport as part of a Russian government delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. The State Department had previously rejected some of Mr. Deripaska’s efforts to secure visas to enter the United States — even as part of prior diplomatic delegations — but it approved diplomatic visa requests in 2015 and 2016.

Image
One of the players in the effort to cultivate Mr. Deripaska was Bruce G. Ohr, the Justice Department official who has recently become a target of attacks by Mr. Trump over his ties to the former British spy Christopher Steele.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times
Mr. Steele helped set up a meeting between the Russian and American officials during the 2015 trip. Mr. Ohr attended the meeting, during which the Americans pressed Mr. Deripaska on the connections between Russian organized crime and Mr. Putin’s government, as well as other issues, according to a person familiar with the events. The person said that Mr. Deripaska told the Americans that their theories were off base and did not reflect how things worked in Russia.

Mr. Deripaska would not agree to a second meeting. But one took place the next year, in September 2016, when F.B.I. agents showed up unannounced at his door in New York. By then, they were already investigating possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, and they pressed Mr. Deripaska about whether his former business partner, Mr. Manafort, had served as a link to the Kremlin during his time as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman.

It was not only the F.B.I. that was concerned about Russian interference in the final months of the campaign. American spy agencies were sounding an alarm after months of intelligence reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russians, and Moscow’s hacking of Democratic Party emails. (American intelligence agencies would later conclude that the interference was real and that Russia had acted to boost Mr. Trump’s candidacy.)

There was also a growing debate at the highest levels of the Obama administration about how to respond without being seen as trying to tip the presidential election toward Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Deripaska, though, told the F.B.I. agents that while he had no love for Mr. Manafort, with whom he was in a bitter business dispute, he found their theories about his role on the campaign “preposterous.” He also disputed that there were any connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to the person familiar with the exchange.

The Justice Department’s efforts to cultivate Mr. Deripaska appear to have fizzled soon after, amid worsening relations between the United States and Russia.

This past April, the Treasury Department imposed potentially crippling sanctions against Mr. Deripaska and his mammoth aluminum company, saying he had profited from the “malign activities” of Russia around the world. In announcing the sanctions, the Trump administration cited accusations that Mr. Deripaska had been accused of extortion, racketeering, bribery, links to organized crime and even ordering the murder of a businessman.

Mr. Deripaska has denied the allegations, and his allies contend that the sanctions are punishment for refusing to play ball with the Americans.

Yet just as it was becoming clear that Mr. Deripaska would provide little help to the Americans, Mr. Steele was talking to Mr. Ohr about an entirely new issue: the dossier.

In summer 2016, Mr. Steele first told Mr. Ohr about the research that would eventually come to make up the dossier. Over a breakfast in Washington, Mr. Steele said he believed that Russian intelligence had Mr. Trump “over a barrel,” according to a person familiar with the discussion. But the person said that it was more of a friendly heads-up, and that Mr. Steele had separately been in touch with an F.B.I. agent in a bid to get his work to investigators.

The research by that point was being funded by the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, and Mr. Steele believed that what he had found was damning enough that he needed to get it to American law enforcement.

F.B.I. agents would later meet with Mr. Steele to discuss his work. But former senior officials from the bureau and the Justice Department have said that the investigation into ties between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia was well underway by the time they got the dossier.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump and his allies have seized on the fact that Mr. Ohr and Mr. Steele were in touch about elements of the dossier to attack the investigation into Russian election interference as a “rigged witch hunt.”

Mr. Trump and his allies have cast Mr. Steele’s research — and the serious consideration it was given by Mr. Ohr and the F.B.I. — as part of a plot by rogue officials and Mrs. Clinton’s allies to undermine Mr. Trump’s campaign and his presidency.

The role of Mr. Deripaska has gotten less attention, but it similarly offers fodder for the theory being advanced by the president’s defenders.

Among the documents produced to Congress by the Justice Department is an undated — and previously unreported — note handwritten by Mr. Ohr indicating that Mr. Deripaska and one of his London-based lawyers, Paul Hauser, were “almost ready to talk” to American government officials regarding the money that “Manafort stole.”

Even after the concerted effort to cultivate Mr. Deripaska appeared to have broken down, and as he was emerging as a subject of increasing interest in inquiries into ties between Mr. Trump’s circle and Russia, both sides continued sporadic outreach.

Last year, Mr. Ohr asked someone who communicated with Mr. Deripaska to urge the oligarch to “give up Manafort,” according to a person familiar with the exchange. And Mr. Deripaska sought to engage with Congress.

The oligarch took out newspaper advertisements in the United States last year volunteering to testify in any congressional hearings examining his work with Mr. Manafort. The ads were in response to an Associated Press report that Mr. Manafort had secretly worked for Mr. Deripaska on a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin government” in the mid-2000s.

Mr. Deripaska deplored that assertion as “malicious” and a “lie,” and subsequently sued The A.P. for libel, though he later dropped his appeal of a judge’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit without receiving a settlement or payment.

Soon after the advertisements ran, representatives for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees called a Washington-based lawyer for Mr. Deripaska, Adam Waldman, inquiring about taking his client up on the offer to testify, Mr. Waldman said in an interview.

What happened after that has been in dispute. Mr. Waldman, who stopped working for Mr. Deripaska after the sanctions were levied, said he told the committee staff that his client would be willing to testify without any grant of immunity, but would not testify about any Russian collusion with the Trump campaign because “he doesn’t know anything about that theory and actually doesn’t believe it occurred.”

“I told them that he would be willing to talk about Manafort,” Mr. Waldman added.

Mr. Waldman said he did not hear back from the committee’s staff members, but he contends that they played a role in pushing the claim that the talks over Mr. Deripaska’s potential testimony had fallen apart because he demanded immunity.

“We specifically told them that we did not want immunity,” Mr. Waldman said. “Clearly, they did not want him to testify. What other conclusion could you possibly draw?”

Follow Kenneth P. Vogel and Matthew Rosenberg on Twitter: @kenvogel and @AllMattNYT

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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:43 pm

MacCruiskeen » Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:15 pm wrote:

Aaron Maté, admirable son of an admirable father.
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:21 pm

.

Aha, and now we have a re-convergence of the claims about Assange and Manafort thanks to a highly suspect new mashup of the Russiagate elements by MI6 Harding. So this thread converges back with "The Wikileaks Question" starting here (follow link for much more):

Rory » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:07 am wrote:
SmartSelect_20181127-080236_Twitter.jpg
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:22 pm

.

Things do be exploding.

Of #Russiagaters I like Larisa for what I take to be sincerity even when she mixes in a lot of claims from off-planet sources (so to speak), so let's use her summary and deconstruct a little bit of it:

Dear passengers, this is your captain (coming out of a bad cold). Please buckle your seat-belts as we are approaching our final descent (by all appearences) into the end-game of the Mueller investigation.

Now let's recap where we are before I delve into today's developments:

The clever Mueller team knew that Manafort (via his lawyers) was feeding information back to Trump (via his lawyers) while pretending to cooperate with investigators. So Mueller put off Mueller's sentencing date until Trump had finished his sworn testimony in the form of written answers. A lot of us were wondering why Mueller put off Manafort's sentencing and it seems we now know why. By all appearances (and logic), Mueller allowed Manafort to feed team Trump lies so that Trump could then coordinate his answers with what Manafort said.

We can assume that some of the questions that Trump answered (lied) are directly related to the events of the last 48 hours.

As this was happening, Mueller was squeezing Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone in their conspiracy to lie their way out of an indictment.

All of this blew up over a period of several days (while I have been sick), including emails between Corsi and Stone showing them conspiring about the release of the DNC hacked emails.

And then we get to today and out of nowhere, it begins to rain shoes, dropping shoes, shoes everywhere:

1. Michael Cohen has implicated Trump, his family and possibly others in a bribery conspiracy with Mother Russia. As it turns out, up through June 2016, Trump (directly) and others (via Cohen) were working on securing a real estate deal in Russia all the while knowing that Russia had hacked the DNC in an effort to help the Trump campaign. The deal would let them build a Trump Tower Russia. Cohen has now stated that he lied to Congress about the Trump Russia deal in the past to cover up for Trump, who was entirely involved in it.
https://www.cnn.com/…/michael-cohen-guilty-plea-…/index.html

We can presume that Mueller waited to let Cohen plead to this until AFTER Trump had submitted is sworn answers in which he was asked questions about this very transaction. As this news was dropping....

2. Duetsche Bank was raided today (still being raided as I write this). Let's recall that KSA used Dbank to launder bribes to Kushner, et al.
https://www.cnn.com/…/…/deutsche-bank-police-raid/index.html

3. Edward Burke's office is currently being raided. He has been Trump's tax man for 12 years, even up until this summer:
https://chicago.suntimes.com/…/ed-burke-fbi-federal-agents…/

4. Trump had a meeting with Putin scheduled at the G20, which he just suddenly canceled (citing Ukraine, which Trump gives no shits about).

--

By my count, we now have the following:
-Don Jr.'s perjury to Congress about Trump Tower Russia
-Trump's perjury to Mueller about Trump Tower Russia
-Trump's perjury to Mueller about Manafort fed lies
-Manafort's witness tampering (Trump)
-Trump's witness tampering (Manafort)
-Corsi perjury
-Stone perjury, conspiracy, witness tampering (other and better stuff)

And that is a lot of perjury and conspiracy for people hiding "no collusion" ... is it not? [NOPE. IT'S ABOUT WHAT I WOULD EXPECT OF MOST MEMBERS OF THIS SOCIOPATHIC MILIEU.]

And we still don't even know what was obtained in the raids today.

I still believe that the Stone indictment begins the final stage of this entire saga and I think that is coming sooner rather than later.


What remains marvelous about all this is that the charges involve

a) global evolution of Trump business as usual dating back to the early 20th century, i.e. criminal dealings typical of upper-echelon FIRE operators (and don't get me wrong, I welcome it when these kinds of "capitalist crime as usual" things get prosecuted, even if it's being done selectively because this fool ran for president, won the lottery, and has been wrecking the empire ever since),

and

b) catching the rats lying to the FBI to cover minor crimes or, as in the case of the Moscow tower deal, bad appearances, thus lining themselves up for worse charges, showing they are privileged white-male white-collar criminals who have always operated with impunity and never really learned the cardinal rule of DON'T TALK TO COPS THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS and also, even though Stone is a literal veteran of Nixon Ratfuckers 1.0, the lessons of Watergate;

and

c) nothing actually demonstrating a Russian state plot to work together with the Trump campaign, let alone one that succeeded as a factor influencing the 2016 election so as to swing it to Trump, without which the results would have been anything different than they were.

So if he hangs* for a portion of his lifetime crimes (insha allah!), Trump can still credibly proclaim, "NO COLLUSION."

Also, Anthrax Bob Mueller is a clever fucker, if he really did what seems to be the case. (Give Manafort enough room to conspire in tampering with Trump through their lawyers, with Manafort expecting a pardon, so that Trump's written testimony can later be tied to Manafort's illegally provided information.)

* by which, unfortunately, we mean returns to being a rich fuck who shits in gold toilets and gets on TV whenever he likes

.
Last edited by JackRiddler on Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:28 pm

For a campaign that had "NO COLLUSION!" and is "totally innocent", there sure was a lot of perjury goin' on!

:P



Manafort Lied About Lobbying Payments, Konstantin Kilimnik Contacts
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby liminalOyster » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:36 pm

Washington Times claiming to have investigated Manafort's 3 passports and he does not have stamps that correlate to the Guardian claim. Is there a rebuttal somewhere? I'm not finding it. Thanks.
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:04 am

How could there be?
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby liminalOyster » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:10 pm



You're thinking like a pre-Russiagater, Jack. There is always a way.
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby bks » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:39 pm

The rebuttal is: Luke was framed. Not "Luke is a shit journalist," or "Luke and Viner just committed journalistic malpractice of the highest order," or "We admit it, Luke is MI6." No, he was fed bad information. Poor guy may have been set up like a bowling pin.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... nge-222694
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:27 pm

JackRiddler » Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:24 pm wrote:.

Just what I was thinking watching Wheeler do her usual thing today on Amy. First, describe accurately and well what the actual proceedings say. The big item is what Mueller's handed off to the Southern New York federal USA, felony charges of campaign violations for the bribes to Stormy and the other woman I forget. Genuinely impeachable insofar as it relates to election meddling - by the Trump campaign, all by itself. The biggest part, underemphasized, is the subpoenas for records from many Trump Org offices. This is the motherlode, getting documents from a known, conventionally criminal organization is going to provide years of shit to prosecute, not by Mueller but by local LEOs. After diligently reporting, Wheeler predictably starts to insert her "feeling" (her word) that it will soon eventuate in a Russia collusion charge.

Because it has to!

Fitzmas of the Undead!

AMY, INTERVIEW AARON!

.
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Re: Real Manafort and "Russiagate" story is out

Postby JackRiddler » Fri Dec 14, 2018 8:19 pm

Aaron Maté again ties the latest (Cohen, Butina, Manafort) together into an increasingly compelling picture: plenty of crimes, very little #Russiagate, a lot of xenophobia and Cold War propaganda. Meanwhile, a new non-Russian front opens with the investigation of Trump Org's plunder of the Trump inauguration fund, run by Ivanka. The reality manages to be utterly pedestrian and beyond-crazy at the same time. The family engaged in the business model they've always pursued, through several generations, scamming their way into cash and making it disappear into their own pockets. Until 2016 it was done always with impunity and chutzpah. I get that those who win a rigged game get stupid, but going into the White House did not cause them to adjust at all. They just kept doing it.

As the threads are converging I will cross-post this also in "Real Manafort" where it is equally relevant. (I'll leave it out of "Butina," though I did a response there much in the same vein as AM, except that his is better.)

https://www.thenation.com/article/russi ... ler-trump/

www.thenation.com

Don’t Let Russophobia Warp the Facts on Russiagate
By Aaron Maté

14 December 2018 5:12 pm

Despite the media hoopla, Mueller’s latest filings do not bring us any closer to proving the long-sought Trump-Russia conspiracy.

Over the course of the Russia investigation, the procession of key associates “flipping” on Donald Trump has raised expectations that special counsel Robert Mueller would turn up proof of collusion. In just a few weeks, a flurry of activity by Mueller has brought these cases to their final act, and the prevailing media reaction leaves the impression that they lived up to the hype. Mueller’s latest court filings include “potentially devastating new information about Trump’s ties to Moscow,” writes James Risen of The Intercept. This makes it “reasonable to conclude that Mueller does, indeed, believe he can prove that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government,” Adam Davidson reckons in The New Yorker.

But Mueller has not issued any charges, provided any evidence, or made any collusion allegations. If there does exist a case, Mueller hasn’t revealed it yet. For all of the excitement, what has been disclosed in the cases of Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn does not bring us any closer to the long-sought Trump-Russia conspiracy.

The sentencing of Cohen to three years in prison has made the most waves. All but two months of Cohen’s prison term are for corruption crimes unrelated to the Russia probe: tax fraud on his personal income, and campaign-finance violations on Trump’s behalf. Federal prosecutors in New York appear to be building a strong case that Trump helped coordinate illegal hush payments to two women in order to benefit his 2016 campaign. Andrew McCarthy, a former US attorney who frequently backs Trump, says that the president “is very likely to be indicted.” With American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, also reaching a cooperation deal, prosecutors have locked up additional witnesses to implicate Trump in the scheme.

Compare that to what Mueller has extracted from Cohen in the Russia probe. Mueller’s filing on Cohen details a 2015 contact with an Olympic weightlifter who promised “political synergy,” with the Russian government, but whose overture Cohen ultimately “did not follow up on.” We also learn of a 2015 discussion inside the Trump Organization for a proposed Trump-Putin meeting that “ultimately did not take place.”

The only Russia-related criminal activity comes in Cohen’s lies to Congress about the effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a failure that never got beyond a letter of intent. This is why Mueller portrays the development as entirely prospective, and in the conditional tense. The tower, he states:

was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government. If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues [emphasis added].

The only Kremlin “assistance” that we know of comes in a January 2016 phone call between Cohen and a Kremlin assistant. According to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, his aide informed Cohen that the “Presidential Administration doesn’t build houses, and if [the Trump Organization] want[s] to invest in Russia that we will be happy to see them at St Petersburg Economic Forum,” an annual gathering held months later.

What is also noteworthy about Cohen’s perjury conviction is the congressional testimony that Mueller does not allege to be false. Mueller does not claim that Cohen lied to Congress when he told them in September 2017: “I never saw anything—not a hint of anything—that demonstrated [Trump’s] involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion.” Nor is Cohen accused of lying in claiming that he has never even visited Prague. That undercuts a core assertion of the Steele dossier, a set of largely unverified intelligence reports from former British spy Christopher Steele.

That Cohen was indicted for lying about a failed deal, but not for testifying that he never witnessed “any form of Russian collusion,” should raise doubts that he has given Mueller anything on collusion. Mueller’s statement that Cohen gave “useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core” to the Russia probe does not change that. The ambiguous wording could be interpreted either way—that information is deemed “useful” does not tell us whether it is incriminating, exonerating, or neither.

Mueller’s Manafort filing identifies the former Trump campaign manager’s alleged “crimes and lies” since agreeing to a plea deal in September. The document is heavily redacted, so a full picture is incomplete. Everything that Mueller does make public is devoid of collusion, in keeping with Manafort’s case to date. None of Manafort’s charges—those he was convicted of in his first trial, and those he pled guilty to in order to avoid a second trial—concern the Trump campaign or collusion with Russia. Manafort’s legal woes instead pertain to bank and tax fraud, as well as unregistered foreign lobbying, stemming from his political work in Ukraine, and to subsequent obstruction charges after Mueller’s initial indictment.

The only mention of a Russian in Mueller’s new filing comes in the accusation that Manafort lied about his contacts with business associate Konstantin Kilimnik. Mueller has previously asserted, without publicly offering evidence or specificity, that Kilimnik has “ties to Russian intelligence” that were “active” during the 2016 campaign. But to date, Mueller has only identified Kilimnik as material to cases related to Manafort’s Ukraine lobbying work, and accused him of witness tampering in those cases.

It is has been suggested that Mueller and Kilimnik’s dealings in Ukraine could somehow link them to a plot with the Kremlin. That theory is undermined by a glaring irony: When it comes to his work in Ukraine, Manafort, as former Fusion GPS researcher Graham Stack writes, was convicted for “doing the opposite of colluding with Russia.” In Ukraine, Manafort pushed a pro-Western agenda. I have noted this overlooked aspect of Manafort’s record in The Nation, and Mueller has provided substantial corroboration. Internal documents released by Mueller make clear that Manafort tried to steer his client, then–Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to align with the European Union and away from Russia, or, in Manafort’s own words, promote “the key geopolitical messaging of how ‘Europe and the U.S. should not risk losing Ukraine to Russia.’”

As with Mueller’s filing on Manafort, the sentencing memo in Flynn’s case redacts key details. Mueller hails Flynn’s “substantial assistance” in a criminal investigation unrelated to the Russia probe, quite likely lobbying activities related to Turkey. When it comes to Russia, Mueller only specifically mentions Flynn’s provision of “firsthand information” about the transition period in late 2016 and early 2017. Not only does that period come after the campaign, the story of Flynn’s offenses is well known. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Flynn misled investigators by denying details of his efforts to convince Kislyak to not respond harshly to US sanctions and to vote against a UN Security Council measure critical of Israel.

In a new filing, Flynn’s attorneys suggest that overzealous FBI investigators entrapped him by encouraging him to speak to them without a lawyer and failing to warn him about making misstatements. Regardless, nothing incriminating has emerged from the recorded calls he was questioned about. As The Washington Post reported at the time, FBI agents who “reviewed” the Kislyak wiretaps had “not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government.” Had Flynn engaged in any type of “quid pro quo” or even treason with the Russian government, as has widely been suspected, Mueller surely would have indicted him for it, rather than charging him with a process crime and recommending no time behind bars.

Flynn, Cohen, and Manafort are among the 14 Trump associates tallied up by The Washington Post who “interacted” with Russian nationals “over the course of Donald Trump’s 18-month campaign for the presidency.” To the former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, the contacts are “extremely unusual.” But as the Post itself acknowledges, Mueller “has not yet shown that any of the dozens of interactions between people in Trump’s orbit and Russians resulted in any specific coordination between his presidential campaign and Russia.”

It is perhaps unusual then that merely having contact with a Russian passport holder is deemed suspect. A stark illustration of that xenophobic mentality has come with the newly resolved prosecution of Russian pro-gun activist and graduate student Maria Butina.

Since her arrest in July, Butina has been portrayed as a Russian spy, and possibly even a covert Kremlin link to Trump, the Republican Party, and the NRA. It turns out that none of this is the case. After spending most of the past five months in solitary confinement, Butina agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent. As her plea document details, she openly tried to make political connections to members of the GOP and NRA at public events and private dinners in the hopes of establishing backdoor channels of communication. She did so at the behest of Alexander Torshin, who until recently served as deputy of the Central Bank of Russia. Butina was also aware that Torshin “sometimes acted in consultation with” his Central Bank superiors and officials at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That is the extent of her Russian government ties.

Retracting an earlier claim, prosecutors now acknowledge that Butina had a genuine “interest in a graduate school education” in the United States. They have also abandoned contentions that she worked with Russian intelligence agencies, and that she was only using her boyfriend, Paul Erickson, to meet other influential Americans. Most critically, prosecutors have withdrawn a claim that led to misogynist media portrayals of Butina as a Russian “honeypot” who offered “sex for power.” The falsehood was based on their misinterpretation of Butina’s joking text messages—humor that the judge in the case said was obvious within “five minutes” of scrutiny.

Prosecutors, The New York Times reports, now “[face] questions about their initial portrayal of Ms. Butina as something like a character out of ‘Red Sparrow,’ the spy thriller about a Russian femme fatale.” The plea deal, the Times adds, “was likely to provide her defenders with new fodder to argue that her activities look sinister only to those who see the world through the outdated lens of the Cold War.” Comparing the actual facts in the Trump-Russia investigation to how they are being recklessly portrayed, it seems Butina’s is not the only case where a Cold War lens is warping our view.
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