By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (10/16/17)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Vetting is for losers! Just like human rights, doing business without bribes and the rule of law.
Fake News! Lies and distractions can only get you so far – we want to know what really happened. Did a crowd of liars and sociopaths steal an election? If so, why?
Manafort’s Multiple Millions (Of Rubles)
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has been in the news for months with details of his multiple relationships with assorted Russian characters, including oligarch/billionaire, Putin pal, Oleg Deripaska. We already know there are facts and questions about money – $10 million paid to Manafort; $17 million transferred by Ukraine – what else?
An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire well-connected to the Kremlin. The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands. See the NBC report: Paul Manafort Had $60 Million Relationship With A Russian Oligarch.
Like candidate, like manager
Manafort offered a private Trump campaign briefing to Deripaska. But hasn’t Manafort denied all this?
Initially, Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, declined to give specific answers about the loans, but released a statement to NBC News saying, in part: “Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”
He later revised the statement, removing that sentence entirely. It now reads:
“Recent news reports indicate Mr. Manafort was under surveillance before he joined the campaign and after he left the campaign. He has called for the U.S. Government to release any intercepts involving him and non-Americans in hopes of finally putting an end to these wild conspiracy theories. Mr. Manafort did not collude with the Russian government.”
So what you say: one bad apple; nothing to do with the President; no proof of collusion… But what does the Manfort story say about Trump and his gang?
On Thursday (10/12) Newsweek featured the latest in Trumpland family finances noting Jared Kushner Hid One Of His Companies On A Disclosure Form – Then Profited.
We know Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has problems with filling out forms – even the simplest of documents. We can joke about his registering to vote in New York as a female, but he’s revised his application for security clearance multiple times – a litmus test for integrity with handling information about the nation’s most important secrets. Though he’s failed to disclose repeatedly we’re entertained with revelations about his poor administrative habits. Or maybe – more troubling – as part of the crowd of liars and sociopaths he’s actively complicit?
Kushner “enriched himself” by not revealing his ownership of a real estate tech business that raised millions of dollars while he served in the government, said Rep. Ted Leiu (D-CA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, calling it part of a pattern of unethical behavior that he believes should cause the White House Senior Adviser to be stripped of his security clearance.
Big deal you say, he forgot. He’s an investor. He’s a busy guy and it’s hard to remember everything. Did he forget his $250 million line of credit?
Cadre operates as an online platform, connecting wealthy investors like billionaire George Soros, for example, to emerging real estate properties in which they can buy partial ownership. The billionaire was one of Cadre’s initial key investors, opening up a $250 million line of credit between his family offices and Kushner’s start-up.
A note about strange bedfellows – Kushner’s fellow investors include Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel (of GOP national convention infamy and the guy who brought down the website Gawker by secretly bankrolling Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the online site) and George Soros, the right-wing boogey-man-supreme.
But this kind of Trumpian duplicity is par for Kushner.
Don’t take my word for it:
“Jared Kushner has made so many mistakes and omissions on his background check forms that Charles Phalen, the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, has never seen anything comparable before.
“A Thursday CNN report cited Phalen saying he has “never seen that level of mistakes,” particularly at this level in a president’s senior staff. The comment was in response to a question during a House subcommittee oversight hearing where he was called to testify.
This article linked below is a short – but important – read. If you feel like the system is rigged – for Trump, not against him – here’s the people knitting together the rigging and making the big con possible. Sociopaths? Like a disease with global ambitions – like their golden-boy employee, Steve Bannon of Breitbart and the White House but less visible. The billionaire Mercer clan (with their many billions in disagreement with the IRS) chase disruption, chaos and rigged elections in many countries but our 2016 election is their crown jewel.
Cambridge Analytica, a “election management agency” partly owned by conservative hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, may have provided information to help precisely target Russian propaganda for disrupting the 2016 elections. According to a story in The Daily Beast, Mercer’s data-crunching firm has become a focus for investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia: Billionaire Trump Backer’s Data Firm Under Investigation For Russia Connections.
This brief article offers a few interesting facts along the way, including:
- Bannon, former White House chief strategist is a part owner.
- The Mercers originally helped Ted Cruz (R-TX) win the Iowa caucus before putting their weight behind Trump.
- Jared Kushner ran the Trump data operations – with Cambridge Analytica (and the Mercers) as part of his efforts.
So what you say? Just because the Mercer’s are rich and far right of right-wing in ideology, it’s just a company they own. It’s not like there’s a pattern, right? It’s just unrelated activities by a group committed to getting their candidate elected, right? How does that add up to a grand plan and collusion?
Way back in mid-September Vanity Fair posed an interesting question: Did Jared Kushner’s Data Operation Help Select Facebook Targets For The Russians?
We know Facebook, Google and Twitter all did business with Russian groups influencing the election in favor of Trump. This is made more important when the dots are connected:
“Mapping the full Russian propaganda effort is important. Yet investigators in the House, Senate, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office are equally focused on a more explosive question: did any Americans help target the memes and fake news to crucial swing districts and wavering voter demographics? “By Americans, you mean, like, the Trump campaign?” a source close to one of the investigations said with a dark laugh. Indeed: probers are intrigued by the role of Jared Kushner, the now-president’s son-in-law, who eagerly took credit for crafting the Trump campaign’s online efforts in a rare interview right after the 2016 election. “I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Kushner told Steven Bertoni of Forbes. “We brought in Cambridge Analytica. I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world. And I asked them how to scale this stuff . . . We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch.”
Sociopaths motivated by ideology and personal enrichment. As we have seen in today’s round-up of Trumpland, they come in many flavors – Trump, Manafort, Kushner, the Mercers. But there are lesser, supportive players we should not forget as well.
Feel free to watch Julian Assange of Wikileaks fail to answer Democracy Now! anchor Amy Goodman’s direct – and perfectly reasonable – questions about his relationship with Roger Stone, long-term Trump friend and adviser. Stone has publicly trumpeted his communications and coordination with Assange to benefit Trump.
Stone was all over the place last week declaring he would never disclose his intermediary for Assange communications to the House Intelligence Committee. But then it appeared he did. He backtracked saying there was no such intermediary. He babbled like a toxic flooded brook. As always, Stone did it all with his trademark snide nastiness, conviction and threat – but, perhaps, he did finally go quietly out of the limelight.
W can hope.
Again, so what? It’s not like Facebook, Google and Twitter can be accused of political bias, right? But maybe the motivation here is simpler: Ideology = Personal Enrichment.
Now the scramble by Facebook, Google and Twitter is a different motivation. Maybe they unwittingly enabled Trump by (illegally) doing business with Russians. But now the imperative is, like a vampire avoiding the wooden stake or, in this case, direct sunlight, it would be election protections set by law and oversight.
“Lobbyists from the Silicon Valley behemoths have met with the staffs of Sens. Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Derek Kilmer, all of whom are drawing up bills that would impose new regulations on the industry, according to Democratic aides and company representatives. The Senate bill is expected to be formally introduced next week. It is not clear when the House legislation, which has not been previously reported, will be introduced.”
There’s always more. For example, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus spent a full day as the guest of special counsel Mueller’s team.
But we can’t cover everything.
But the pattern is clear: lies and deflection; extreme ideology; and personal enrichment. If you only read parts of the linked news items you’ll appreciate the complexity and inventiveness of the lies and deceptions, if not the motivations. Trump and his crowd have pulled off a huge deception and continue to work every angle for their own benefit and personal enrichment.
So does Mueller save us? The Tuesday Washington Post op-ed page was not encouraging, noting Robert Mueller Can’t Save Us.
Mueller may be a White Knight but even if he succeeds in uncovering Trump collusion he can’t fix everything that is wrong with our politics.
If not special counsel and former FBI director Mueller who else can we turn to?