By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (3/19/18)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Trump had the Department of Justice fire FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe late Friday evening. McCabe had previously announced his intent to retire which would have been official on Sunday. If there were questions or alternative theories about ‘why’, Trump made his rationale clear with ranting tweets on Saturday and Sunday mornings: Trump Rails Against Mueller Investigation, Dismisses McCabe’s Notes As ‘Fake Memos’.
Trump has only just started referring to special counsel Robert Mueller by name and with that, “witch hunt” Mueller gets top billing over former FBI Director James “lies and leaks” Comey and “fake memos” McCabe. Here is Trump’s initial message (tweet) following the announcement:
“Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.”
McCabe was fired just before retiring but well ahead of the FBI inspector general’s report that could shed light on the firing. Once again Trump demonstrates that law-and-order is simply a matter of how he feels slighted or (dis)advantaged. This from The Washington Post Editorial Board:
“MORE THAN the details of the case, President Trump’s early Saturday celebrating the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is what stands out: a marquee of bullying and unseemly behavior by a president. Mr. Trump acts like a nasty, small-minded despot, not the leader of a democracy more than two centuries old in which rule of law is a sturdy pillar. If there is doubt that the timing of Mr. McCabe’s dismissal was driven by political vengeance, Mr. Trump does everything he can to prove the worst with his own sordid words.”
Both McCabe and Comey have some perspective to share on the Trump in return. McCabe is said to have detailed notes about his interactions with Trump:
“Former FBI official Andrew McCabe memorialized his interactions with President Trump in contemporaneous memos, two people familiar with the case said, and they could become a key piece of evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe.”
Comey had also taken detailed notes on his interactions with Trump as we learned during Congressional hearings, and we are due to hear more from Comey as his memoir is due to be published next month. Comey replied to Trump tweets with:
“Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.”
But we jumped into the middle of the story, the build-up is an oft repeated Russpublican strategy to offer Trumputin another attempt at exoneration.
As we highlighted in the last edition of the Russia Monitor, the GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee offered a surprise conclusion to the House investigation and discussed their forthcoming report (without Dem input). The Russpublicans tried to thread the needle by not dismissing Russian intrusion in the U.S. 2016 elections but offering assurances that a Trump election was not their goal and there is no evidence of Russian impact on the election. Which is the Russpublicans’ panicky judgment that “the Trump election is legitimate”.
The committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the GOP majority were only willing to “go through the motions of an investigation . . . to give the pretense of trying to find the truth.”
The now established pattern is that Russpublicans offer up a partisan memo and Trump bleats “exoneration” with FOX News offering a ready echo chamber and chaos follows.
But this time the cycle had a whole new twist: Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization, Demanding Documents About Russia.
The day before McCabe was fired there was this:
“The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization in recent weeks to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter. The order is the first known instance of the special counsel demanding records directly related to President Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president.”
Trump and associates offered statements of ongoing cooperation with the special counsel. Trump has McCabe fired and then, as reported in the Daily Beast, another act in the parody of justice, this time from Trump personal lawyer John Dowd:
““I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.”
Russpublicans fuel Trump’s rants and self-exoneration, but Mueller throws water on the fire by subpoenaing Trump Organization business records related to Russia. Trump rants more, McCabe is fired and Trump’s lawyer calls for an end to the “witch hunt”. This cycle is repeated with higher levels of acrimony and consequence. We expect this to be repeated with each new cycle raining more venom and cruelty. The best summary of this cycle is here: ‘America will triumph over you’: Ex-CIA chief John Brennan slams ‘disgraced demagogue’ Trump after president gloated over firing of ‘choirboy’ FBI deputy director McCabe.
“The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency has assailed President Donald Trump as a ‘disgraced demagogue’ who will ‘take [his] rightful place…in the dustbin of history.’
“‘When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,’ Brennan tweeted early Saturday.
“‘You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.'”
Until Mueller is done with his work, one way or another, there is no end to this ever-more-cruel cycle of Trumputin news.
Meanwhile, there was much more news…
The New York Times reported Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers On The Switch At Power Plants, U.S. Says.
Trump has reluctantly admitted Russia intruded in the U.S. election but has done little or nothing to protect future elections. We now have confirmation that Russians have been hacking U.S. infrastructure, including power plants, water and electric systems for a long time.
“We now have evidence they’re sitting on the machines, connected to industrial control infrastructure, that allow them to effectively turn the power off or effect sabotage,” said Eric Chien, a security technology director at Symantec, a digital security firm.
“From what we can see, they were there. They have the ability to shut the power off. All that’s missing is some political motivation,” Mr. Chien said.
The Trump administration did officially name Russia as the perpetrator and imposed new sanctions against Russia: Trump Finally Rolls Out Some (Limited) Russia Sanctions.
Thouhg the article’s subhead asked a critical question: The Treasury Department sanctioned Russian intelligence agencies and officials — again. But lawmakers and experts wonder when the real response will come.
These new sanctions are part of the long-delayed added sanctions overwhelmingly mandated by Congress. Sadly, these new sanctions are another nothing-burger.
“The Trump administration on Thursday slapped financial sanctions on a group of two dozen Russian government officials and entities. But most of them were already under U.S. sanctions or were previously named in an indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller, making many lawmakers and experts question what impact the new measures might have.”
If Trump properly implemented sanctions as mandated there would be a considerable price paid for Russian attacks. With Trumputin calling the shots Putin has yet to pay a price for his attacks.
In the last edition of the Russia Monitor we reported the terrorist nerve agent attack on former Russian military intelligence colonel, Sergei Skripal, and his 33-year-old daughter in the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of the attack. In addition we reported on the possible murder of a second Russian, Nikolay Glushkov. Scotland Yard has decided this was also a murder: Murder Investigation Launched for Nikolay Glushkov’s Death.
“Police concluded that Glushkov’s cause of death was “compression to the neck” after a “special post-mortem” was conducted on Thursday. Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, who has been leading the investigation since the beginning, has found no evidence tying Glushkov’s death to the poisoning of Sergei Skirpal in Salisbury or any evidence that poison was used on Glushkov. This comes as a the U.K., U.S., France and Germany recently made a joint condemning the attempted murder of Skirpal and pinning it on the Russians, who have denied such claims.”
We reported on Putin’s crystal clear warning that enemies will “be served with poison”. Trump and Russpublican serve up another nothingberger. In the meantime, there is this summary of Putin’s attacks and Trump’s failure to respond but also what a real response would be: Russia’s Been Waging War On The West For Years. We Just Haven’t Noticed.
“What would the West do if it were to get serious about Russian aggression? Putin and his cronies have billions of dollars stashed in the West. London is a particular favorite of Russian exiles. Freeze the money. Seize the properties. Hurt them where it counts. The United States can also designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, just like , which also for an assassination abroad. Stop treating Russia like a legitimate state: Putin has already been kicked out of the Group of 8 gatherings; he can be removed from , too. Kick Russia out of the , denying Russian banks access to international monetary transfers. Invoke NATO’s Article 5 collective-defense clause.”
Steve Bannon’s ‘mindfuck tool’
In this edition of the Russia Monitor we see news of Trump-Russia obstruction of justice, Russpublican complicity, investigation of Trump business in Russia, failures to hold Russia accountable for attacks against individuals and western democracies. There are always more angles given the extent of Trump-Russia corruption. An argument could be made that this edition of the Russia Monitor buried the lead, but The Guardian is promising to keep news of Trump-Russia collaboration through Cambridge Analytica in the news for some amount of time: The Cambridge Analytica Files: I created Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower.
“For more than a year we’ve been investigating Cambridge Analytica and its links to the Brexit Leave campaign in the UK and Team Trump in the US presidential election. Now, 28-year-old Christopher Wylie goes on the record to discuss his role in hijacking the profiles of millions of Facebook users in order to target the US electorate.”
Computer savant Christopher Wylie is profiled as the genius behind the Trump-Russia corruption data angle. Wylie is the genius, billionaires and Trump supporters Robert and Rebekah Mercer are the money, and former senior Trump adviser, former Breitbart executive chairman, Cambridge Analytica board member Steve Bannon is the evil inspiration. Wylie refers to his work as “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool”.
“It was Wylie who came up with that idea and oversaw its realisation. And it was Wylie who, last spring, became my source. In May 2017, I wrote an article headlined , which set out a skein of threads that linked Brexit to Trump to Russia. Wylie was one of a handful of individuals who provided the evidence behind it. I found him, via another Cambridge Analytica ex-employee, lying low in Canada: guilty, brooding, indignant, confused. “I haven’t talked about this to anyone,” he said at the time. And then he couldn’t stop talking.”
This is a detailed and fascinating first start in an ongoing story. We’ll highlight a few of the observations that make it clear this story is about (in part) Trump-Russia. You can find the revelations about the discussions with Russian oil company Lukoil and ties to Putin and election interference, but here’s a more direct link:
“Russia, Facebook, Trump, Mercer, Bannon, Brexit. Every one of these threads runs through Cambridge Analytica. Even in the past few weeks, it seems as if the understanding of Facebook’s role has broadened and deepened. The Mueller indictments were part of that, but – a data expert and academic based in Switzerland, who published some of the first – says it’s become increasingly apparent that Facebook is “abusive by design”. If there is evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it will be in the platform’s data flows, he says. And Wylie’s revelations only move it on again.”
Facebook is exposed. As The New York Time detailed, they damn well knew: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions.
“Mr. Wylie said the Facebook data was “the saving grace” that let his team deliver the models it had promised the Mercers.
““We wanted as much as we could get,” he acknowledged. “Where it came from, who said we could have it — we weren’t really asking.””
And before we leave the subject for this edition, we’ll offer added emphasis on Cambridge Analyica and Russian oil company Lukoil, because he lied to Parliment: Data Firm Tied to Trump Campaign Talked Business With Russians.
“Mr. Nix is a director of SCL Group, a British political and defense contractor, and chief executive of its American offshoot, , which advised the Trump campaign. The firms’ employees, who often overlap, had contact in 2014 and 2015 with executives from Lukoil, the Russian oil giant.”
Much more to come, but you can get to know whistleblower Christopher Wylie better through this excellent Guardian video profile: Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower: ‘We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles‘.
We will wrap up with two short videos. The first drives home the point: Gen. McCaffrey: President Trump Is A Serious Threat To National Security.
“Retired four-star U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey says he’s concluded that Trump is ‘a serious threat to U.S. national security’ and ‘for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr Putin.’ Our panel reacts.”
“Presidential historian Allan Lichtman, who predicted Donald Trump’s victory two months before Election Day, lays out why he thinks Trump will be out of the Oval Office by Election Day 2020.”
Putin is not made to pay a price. What lessons does that offer Trump?
What do the two of them have to teach us?
The Trump, Putin and Bannon triplets are doing their best to break society as we know it. What do we want our society to be as a result? Who gets to decide?