By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/27/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
A few truths!
Trump is an existential threat; he’s like Voldemort through the arc of Harry Potter. He’s becoming more dangerous as we go forward. Ignore the problem at our own peril.
Democrats will impeach Trump. Trump is an existential threat and either through their own deliberations or Trump’s authoritarian impulses, they’ll be forced to face their responsibility to indict and send a case to the Senate to act as the jury.
Daily we see Trump adding to his own list of impeachable offenses by empowering his personal lawyer Attorney General William Barr to attack his list of political targets.
House Democrats will eventually get access to Trump’s tax and banking information. In the meantime, new revelations regarding Deutsche Bank show they are repeating the same dank actions that have brought them to the brink of ruin as a financial institution.
Under the umbrella of Trump as an existential threat, it is these last two observations I’ll focus on for this edition.
Behavior of a ‘stable genius’
Trump followed his orchestrated shut down of his latest White House infrastructure non-meeting with a planned Rose Garden meeting with the press. Our self-declared “extremely stable genius” further humiliated his staff by demanding each person acknowledge that he did not have a tantrum ahead of his ‘impromptu’ meeting with the press replete with pre-printed signage offering his selective self-serving view of the results of the Trump-Russia investigation.
How many times Trump has promised progress on an infrastructure initiative that would repair dangerously under maintained bridges, rails, roads while creating jobs is not the subject at hand, but it’s like watching Road Runner and Coyote cartoons, it’s the same ruse – bring House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and in the past, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell in for a meeting where Trump will proceed to humiliate one or more persons present with no resultant progress on an infrastructure initiative. Let’s be clear – Trump doesn’t want immigration policy decided, McConnell doesn’t want an infrastructure initiative – they both just want reelection fights they think they can frame to Trump and Republican advantage around these issues.
During his bumbling, rambling, self-pitying remarks, Trump talked about how Donnie Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russians was set up by Fusion GPS.
After a brief pause he referred to Fusion GPS as the bad guys to make sure that even if we didn’t know who Fusion GPS is, we knew they were the ‘enemy’. A reminder, Fusion GPS was first hired to do opposition research by a Republican group that wanted dirt on Trump. While a new theory to me, you can find many right-wing conspiracies supporting this loopy claim.
So what? Much like Trump defends his choice to tweet a doctored video of Pelosi speaking with the voice slowed to suggest she’s slurring her words, Trump attacked the media as “fake news” when confronted and demanded, “did you see what she said about me?”
Trump is trafficking in deliberate conspiracies and will do anything to attack his enemies. Given his history promoting Obama and ‘birther’ lies, this is no surprise except that with Trump – his behavior spirals to ever new lows.
Now Trump has empowered Barr to find evidence against his enemies that of a supposed attempted a failed “coup” with the right to declassify any intelligence. Forget the fact that the FBI hurt Clinton’s campaign by publicly reporting an investigation while hiding and lying about an investigation of Trump. Forget that the FBI and special counsel Mueller fired or reassigned anyone showing bias against Trump including the FBI Chief of Counterespionage Peter Strzok – a very high level, experienced and respected FBI career agent. Forget the intelligence agencies of foreign countries alerting the US to suspicious activity by the Trump campaign…
Wait, don’t forget that final point – included on Trump’s list of enemies to be investigated are the countries of Australia, the UK and Ukraine for their purported roles in attacking him.
Imagine if you were a foreign country that regularly cooperated with US intelligence? Would this effort by Trump to self-exonerate at your expense color your view of future cooperation? Wouldn’t the same apply to any individuals cooperating with US intelligence? Politico explored the issue: Trump Puts DOJ On Crash Course With Intelligence Agencies.
The subhead framed the potential impact: National security veterans fear a declassification order could trigger resignations and threaten the CIA’s ability to conduct its core business — managing secret intelligence and sources.
“There’s nothing CIA or NSA, for example, guards more jealously than sources and methods,” said Larry Pfeiffer, a 32-year intelligence veteran who served as the chief of staff to CIA Director Michael Hayden. “It is not hyperbole to say that lives are at stake.”
“I doubt any of the [CIA directors] or [directors of national intelligence] that I worked with would have sat by silently if their president contemplated or made such a decision,” added Pfeiffer, who also served as senior director of the White House Situation Room.
Trump promises with Barr’s right to declassify he’ll “see how the hoax or witch-hunt started”. We already know the result – Barr has repeatedly demonstrated he is no more than a Trump toady. Remember, Barr has already asserted ‘spying’.
If you’re not concerned — if this feels like a nothing-burger – note how Trump says the actions by people like Comey, McCabe, Strzok are treasonous.
Treason is punishable by death and Trump does not shy away from this observation.
Trump’s criminal bank
Elsewhere in today’s Commoner Call you will find a ProPublica article and Trump Inc. podcast: Why Did Deutsche Bank Keep Lending to Donald Trump?
Trump’s history with Deutsche Bank and it’s ‘curious’ history has been well remarked on by the media. Recent Deutsche Bank news had them “cooperating” according to House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters in March. Fast-forwarding, after a recent court challenge to demand that Deutsche Bank ignore a subpoena the case now goes to appeals with oral arguments expected in July. Sigh!
While this battle runs its course it’s noteworthy to see that Trump-Deutsche Bank patterns, problems and suspicions persist.
Just last week the New York Times had an excellent article on the detection of suspicious transactions by both Trump and son-in-law senior adviser Jared Kushner: Deutsche Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity in Trump and Kushner Accounts.
While ultimately the bank decided to forego reporting the transactions to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) highlighted transactions to Russian individuals.
Let’s pause, take a step back. Consider Deutsche Bank. Once the most respected bank in Germany, the bank still employs more than 90,000 people globally but a market valuation has dropped precipitously. In five years Deutsche Bank stock has dropped from $39 per share to just over $7 per share. A recent proposed merger with Commerzbank that would have ‘saved’ Deutsche Bank collapsed only a month ago.
The New York Times acknowledges Deutsche Bank as “the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to do business with the real estate developer.” Deutsche Bank’s problems are at least partly due to its history of laundering money and — specifically — dirty Russia money. If you launder money unknowingly that’s a problem, if you launder money knowingly that’s a serious problem. If you use sophisticated bank transactions like the ‘mirror trades’ described in the ProPublica article that is an extremely serious violation. Danish Danske Bank is awaiting it’s fine for having been found laundering $230 billion in Russian money and it may be a multi-$ billion fine. UBS was recently fined $5.1 billion for money laundering violations. As the Guardian recently reported: Deutsche Bank was fined $630 million for laundering Russian money in 2017 and may already be facing another fine for more recent laundering or Russian money.
The point here – if you listen to the Deutsche Bank CEO while interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he really only has one job – to quote former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, he only needs to “land the plane”. Get the merger done with Commerzbank and fix the serious compliance gaps that plague the bank.
And yet as we learn from ProPublica, the decision to not file was deferred to the line of business, which is unheard of, to Trump’s personal banker – Rosemary Vrablic.
Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing has to be in hot water. If he’s not fired it would be because the bank has no good Plan B as yet. But that’s not our concern.
Rosemary Vrablic oversaw billions in loans to Trump. Deutsche Bank and Sewing finally make a conscious decision to distance them from the toxic business relationship with Trump only to have breaking news of further compliance decisions that favored cover-up over righting the business ship.
For one last moment, let’s step back again and consider this paragraph from the Guardian article above regarding internal investigations.
“The pair identified numerous “high-risk entities”. They included 1,244 in the US, 329 in the UK and 950 in Germany. These entities were responsible for nearly 700,000 transactions, the report says, involving at least £62m in the UK, $47m in the US, and €55m in .
“As part of its investigation, Deutsche Bank sent 149 “suspicious activity reports” to the National Crime Agency in London. Similar disclosures of potential money-laundering transactions were made to authorities in the US and elsewhere – with 30 private and corporate Deutsche Bank clients reported. Some may have been “unknowingly used”, the report says.”
The point here – internal investigations filed the appropriate reports for identified risk. But not with Trump, that decision was given to Vrablic and the cover-up ensued. Again.
This is so egregiously stupid and risky you have to wonder – what are they hiding – again. And how is it that even at a distance, never-Trumper Rick Wilson’s observation that “everything Trump touches dies” still holds true.
Final point: As former trump lawyer Michael Cohen and porn star Stormy Daniels can attest – Trump does do cover-ups.