Russia Monitor: Mafia Machinations & Russpublican Enablers


“If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones. Which is the real danger … we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) speaking at a GOP fundraiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris (R-WA ) (8/18).

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (8/30/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Head of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is this edition’s poster-child for Russpublican party over country. The above quote was reported here at the time, but it’s worth holding up against the unapologetic crooks and liars protecting Trump. Nunes has competition; we’ll highlight a few, but let’s start with Nunes: Devin Nunes’s Curious Trip To London.

Nunes has many times proven his willingness to do anything to fly cover for Trump Russia corruption. Russpublicans, and Nunes specifically, have floated any number of false flag ruses in an attempt to distract or invent scenarios to support Trump as the victim of acts of corruption:

“…the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was in London, seeking out new information about the former British intelligence officer and Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele.

“According to two people familiar with his trip across the pond who requested anonymity to discuss the chairman’s travels, Devin Nunes, a California Republican, was investigating, among other things, Steele’s own service record and whether British authorities had known about his repeated contact with a U.S. Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr. To that end, Nunes requested meetings with the heads of three different British agencies—MI5, MI6, and the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. (Steele was an MI6 agent until a decade ago, and GCHQ, the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the National Security Agency, was the first foreign-intelligence agency to pick up contacts between Trump associates and Russian agents in 2015, according to The Guardian.)

“A U.K. security official, speaking on background, said “it is normal for U.K. intelligence agencies to have meetings with the chairman and members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.” But those meetings did not pan out—Nunes came away meeting only with the U.K.’s deputy national-security adviser, Madeleine Alessandri. The people familiar with his trip told me that officials at MI6, MI5, and GCHQ were wary of entertaining Nunes out of fear that he was “trying to stir up a controversy.””

Nunes went to London and accomplished nothing. As we look at why Bruce Ohr is being targeted, let’s remember the Russpublicans, the party of law and order, have already savaged former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and others. Russpublicans view these people as collateral damage in a self-serving attempt to protect themselves, ruining lives and careers without remorse: Bruce Ohr Fought Russian Organized Crime. Now He’s A Target Of Trump.

Bruce Ohr is regarded as a senior Justice Department expert on prosecuting Russian organized crime. It is through this experience that he met Christopher Steele. One case in particular defines Ohr’s career:

“When a lawyer for one of Russia’s most powerful reputed crime bosses arrived at F.B.I. headquarters one day around 2006, he wanted to cut a deal. The Russian, Semion Y. Mogilevich, had been indicted three years earlier by the department on charges of defrauding a company outside Philadelphia out of $150 million and could not travel for fear of arrest.

“As the lawyer made his pitch, a supervising F.B.I. agent and a senior career Justice Department official, Bruce G. Ohr, both listened intently, according to a former bureau official who described the meeting. The case was significant for American law enforcement. It had made headlines and laid the groundwork for Justice Department efforts to combat Russian organized crime overseas.

“Finally, the F.B.I. agent spoke. No deal, he said; Mr. Mogilevich must surrender. Mr. Ohr said little, but his unwillingness to negotiate was signal enough: The Justice Department would not compromise with the Russian mafia.”

Familiarity with Steele is not the only issue Russpublicans are using to attack Ohr. There is this as well:

“Mr. Steele went on to investigate ties between Mr. Trump and Russia for the same research firm, Fusion GPS, where Ms. Ohr was a contractor.”

Ohr has already been sidelined at the DoJ and may well be forced to leave federal law enforcement. Here’s more about what is being done to Ohr and maybe why: Republican Attacks On DoJ Russia Experts A Boon To Russian Mafia.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow does a great job of explaining Russian mafia kingpin Mogilevich including the ties to Trump-Russia corruption through Trump’s long time business associate Felix Sater

Maddow reports on another connection also mentioned in the New York Times article above, Ohr was “part of a group of government officials who revoked the visa of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire and aluminum magnate Deripaska, sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury, is “a close ally” of Putin and was “offered private campaign briefings” by convicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Is Ohr being targeted because of his career success against Russian mafia head Mogilevich and oligarch and Putin ally Deripaska? Or is he targeted because his wife was a contractor at a firm that partially funded Steele’s dossier?

Either way… Trump Asks ‘how the hell’ Bruce Ohr Still Works At The Justice Department.

Ohr was called to a closed-door interview before House Republicans. Even though the meeting was closed to the public, the Russpublicans immediately paraded before the media to cast doubt on Ohr. That’s all they needed, another staged event they would be free to represent in any fashion they chose to cast doubt on Trump-Russia corruption investigations.

Trump may as well have tweeted his denouncement of Ohr before the session. Note the cast of Russpublicans included Rep. Trey “Benghazi Forever” Gowdy (R-SC), Rep. Jim “Gym” Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Darrell “Climate-Change-Denier” Issa (R-CA), Rep. Matt ‘Patriot’ Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) who led the ‘impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hearings’, and others.

Quite the line-up of Russpulican ‘Party over Country’ congressional gangbangers, but not a complete list even for the week: ‘Leave my wife out of it,’ Embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter Says On Corruption Charges.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) was reported here after being charged a week ago “on 60 counts in a federal indictment alleging they improperly spent some $250,000 in campaign contributions on lavish vacations, meals and personal items”.

Hunter was roundly criticized for defending himself by pointing out that his wife was the real criminal as he babbled:

“She handled my finances throughout my entire military career and that continued on when I got into Congress …. She was also the campaign manager. Whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure, but I didn’t do it.” He added, “I didn’t spend any money illegally.”

Who says chivalry is dead in the Russpublican ranks?

Hunter has reconsidered and now angrily demands the media, “Leave my wife out of it, leave my family out of it.

Hunter continues to run for reelection as he and his wife pleaded not guilty in federal court last week.


Bullhorn instead of the usual dog whistle

Not to be outdone… Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) wins the GOP nomination to run for Governor of Florida with Trump’s support and immediately launches his campaign with this bit of Russpublican ugliness: GOP Governor Candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis Warns Florida Voters Not To ‘monkey this up’ By Electing Opponent Andrew Gillum.

Opting for a bullhorn instead of the more usual Russpublican dog whistle, DeSantis offers this inspiration for Florida voters:

“Rep. Ron DeSantis faced a torrent backlash Wednesday after warning Floridians not to “monkey this up” by voting for his Democratic gubernatorial opponent Andrew Gillum.”

Subtlety is for snowflakes apparently as Russpublicans are increasingly open about their racist actions and intent. To make sure we’re clear, Gillium is black.


Gaslighting Rudy gets clear on his priorities 

The Washington Post got something clear for us all: Giuliani’s Telling Admission: All That Matters Is That Mueller Is Undermined.

Former GOP presidential candidate and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who has previously explained it’s not illegal to lie to the media offered this about his latest deliberate attempts at gas lighting:

“”Mr. Giuliani shrugged off suggestions that he was a discombobulated advocate, ill serving a client who happens to be the so-called leader of the free world. “You probably can’t do this without making a mistake or two,” he said, then quickly noted with evident satisfaction that “[Robert] Mueller is now slightly more distrusted than trusted, and Trump is a little ahead of the game.”

““So I think we’ve done really well,” said the president’s lawyer. “And my client’s happy.””

Giuliani “aims “to attack the legitimacy of the investigation” and said he’s mostly preparing for the potential impeachment battle lying ahead”.

But maybe Russpublicans are sympathetic when it is one of their own being savaged, right?

Nah: Sessions Is One Reason To Flip Control Of The Senate.

” The Post reports, “President Trump, who levied extraordinary public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent weeks, has privately revived the idea of firing him in conversations with his aides and personal lawyers this month, according to three people familiar with the discussions.”

“Republicans sure don’t want voters to see that or Sessions’s resignation play out before the November vote. Democrats in that case might not only win the House but also the Senate. No, better to leave the constitutional train wreck for after the election when there is no obvious or immediate recourse, they figure.”

Sessions’ peers, his fellow members of the Senate, the ones that were to have his back – only care about appearances ahead of the mid-term elections.

Senate Russpublicans act in accordance with the words of Nunes, “we have to keep the majority… (or) all of this goes away”. Is there a price to pay? Jennifer Rubin writing for the Washington Post suggests:

“If Republicans really intend to head off a constitutional crisis they’d take steps. If not, they are simply angling to keep their Senate majority and put off for a few months a constitutional crisis that they will be unwilling to defuse.”


Putin’s employee

All is not lost. Trump faces a second federal trial of his convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort. A second federal court heard a guilty plea by former long time Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. The New York Attorney General has brought a civil suit against Trump Foundation, Trump’s (supposedly) charitable group. Federal prosecutors have granted immunity to tabloid executive and longtime Trump friend David Pecker. Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was also granted immunity as the Manhattan District Attorney’s office considers charges after Cohen’s guilty plea.

Maybe the most encouraging assessment was offered by Harvey Wasserman writing a great round-up of all things Trump/Russia for Reader Supported News. Thanks to a Commoner Call reader: Trumputin’s Mob Masters Own the White House, But For How Long?

Wasserman describes Trump as “Putin’s employee”. We’ll skip past the voluminous case he offers to support his claim and offer his statement of Putin’s mission with Trump, feel how this rings true:

  • Boost oil and gas prices to hand-funnel cash to the Russo-American fossil fuel kleptocracy;
  • Shred environmental regulations to monetize the destruction of human and planetary health;
  • Destroy Western trade and state relationships for Russian benefit;
  • Gut military alliances to exalt Putin’s global standing;
  • Flood the internet with trolls, bots, phishers, hackers, liars, manipulators, Foxists, etc. to trash grassroots democracy worldwide;
  • Enthrone a deranged criminal psycho/sociopath to distract the media and public from all of the above.

This isn’t ideology; this list is in Trump’s wheelhouse, a smash-and-grab, as Wasserman says, “It’s all about the venal theft of public resources for the private profit of a power/greed-crazed few.

The question that remains: “And the supremely arrogant Donald may have crossed too many lines.


The myth of Trump is now unraveling

Is Wasserman right, is Trump sawing off the limb supporting him? Maybe, Trump sure makes it seem that way. We’ll give him the last word: ‘He can’t get rid of any of this’: Trump’s Wall Of Secrecy Erodes Amid Growing Legal Challenges.

“President Trump’s wall of secrecy — the work of a lifetime — is starting to crack.

“His longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty last week to breaking campaign-finance laws and said he had arranged hush-money payments to two women at Trump’s direction. A tabloid executive — who had served Trump by snuffing out damaging tales before they went public — and Trump’s chief financial officer gave testimony in the case.

“All three had been part of the small circle of family, longtime aides and trusted associates who have long played crucial roles in Trump’s strategy to shield the details of his personal life and business dealings from prying outsiders.

“But, as their cooperation with prosecutors shows, a growing number of legal challenges — including the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and a raft of lawsuits and state-level probes in New York — is eroding that barrier.”

The authors offer a detailed case of Trump’s mounting legal woes. They add a few not mentioned above.

“The attorneys general of Maryland and the District sued him, saying he violated the Constitution’s “emoluments clauses,” which bar presidents from taking payments from foreign governments or U.S. states.”

There is the defamation suit brought by former ‘The Apprentice’ contestant Summer Zervos. New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout promises to investigate the Trump Organization if elected. And there are other similar charges and investigations under consideration.

But ultimately it is Trump that is showing the signs of stress.

“In one possible sign of the strain this week placed on Trump, the president fired off an all-caps tweet that denounced the investigations against him. “NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote, on the second day after Cohen’s guilty plea.

“A tweet of denial made at 1 AM”
That is on the morning after Cohen’s guilty plea. Not a good indication for how Trump might be holding up. Or not…
(Commoner Call cartoons by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to )