Monday Reads: Kremlin Caligula and the Kremlin KlanPosted: February 20, 2017 Filed under: 2016 elections, Afternoon Reads, Foreign Affairs, Russia, Ukraine | Tags: From Russia with bad intentions 28 Comments
The saga of the Glasnost Menagerie continues.
And so we begin another Week of America Held Hostage with more news about the connections between the the current Presidential Usurper and his handlers in Moscow.
There are a few places where this story is being completely investigated. For one, I don’t think Congresswoman Maxine Waters is going to let go of anything despite all the Republican Sandbagging. TBogg–writing for Raw Story–summarizes Waters’ Sunday appearance on MSNBC.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) leveled serious charges against the Trump White House on Sunday, saying U.S. policies toward Russia are being driven by what she called the “Kremlin clan” more interested in oil and personal business than U.S. needs.
Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, the California congresswoman said Trump’s recent attacks on the media are a way to delegitimize their reporting on his Russian connections.
Waters’ claims came just before the New York Times released a bombshell report stating that Trump insiders and associates were working on a plan to blackmail Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko in an effort to make the Obama-era sanctions disappear.
“Donald Trump is so outrageous that he thinks he can get away with saying anything,” Waters explained. “And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that the media is lying on him because the facts are going to come out about him, his involvement with Russia, his involvement with Russia during the campaign and the connection between those around him and Putin and the Kremlin. And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that when they hear this, it’s going to be a big lie because the media cannot be trusted, that somehow they are against the people.”
According to Waters, Trump is worried his supporters will start to put two and two together as more Russia revelations come out, including those involving the people he has surrounded himself with.
“They see that Flynn, who he had to fire, was talking with Russia about sanctions with the Russian ambassador,” she explained. “I believe that [Secretary of State] Tillerson, who was the CEO of Exxon, has as his highest priority getting rid of the sanctions. Don’t forget, he is the one who negotiated the deal with Russia to drill in the Arctic and that was stopped because Obama placed sanctions on them and they couldn’t proceed with that. And so Tillerson, who has this great relationship with Putin, is going to do everything that he can to lift those sanctions and that’s going to be their Achilles heel.”
Waters then said that Tillerson is just one part of what she calls the “Kremlin clan,” and that it begins at the top with Trump.
“Why does he like Putin so much?” Waters asked. “Why does he defend them? And I think it’s all connected to what I call the Kremlin Klan. All of these people around him that are connected to oil and gas in the Kremlin and Ukraine. It’s all about them. Just think about it. Manafort, his campaign manager, and who had to leave because it was determined that he had connections to the Kremlin and to the Ukraine and whether you’re talking about him or Roger Stone or some of the others, they are all about oil and gas and they thought that if they elected Trump, that somehow they were going to have someone friendly to them that would help lift these sanctions and this Kremlin clan are all going to benefit from it.”
Kremlin Caligula has a lot of explaining to do but was probably too wrapped up by his angry tirades and Swedish conspiracy theories to think he may be subject to any inquiry. Matthew Yglesias at Vox has 33 questions that somebody needs to answer.
What we have instead are a lot of small, unanswered questions. Questions about Flynn’s behavior and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about the behavior of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about enigmatic remarks made by longtime Trump associate and veteran political operative Roger Stone. Questions about an obscure American businessman named Carter Page who maybe — or maybe not — worked for some time with the Trump campaign.
But there are also longstanding questions about the opaque financing of the Trump Organization, and about why its founder and owner has been so reluctant to engage in normal levels of financial disclosure. And most of all, there are questions about Trump’s highly unorthodox attitudes toward Russia, its government, and its leader, Vladimir Putin.
Go check them out. It’s a long and intriguing set of entanglements and loose ends. Joseph Cannon has a great set of links and reads on the topic too.
If Josh Marshall has read the tea leaves correctly, Sater may soon become a household name. Sater, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the Putin government have been hammering out a Ukraine peace plan, which Sater gave to General Flynn just before his resignation. Why is this shocking? Because — as indicated above — Sater is a shady, sleazy character, and Trump has been trying to pretend that he has no real links to the guy.
What’s really triggered the new intrigue was a Time magazine article that dropped the name Felix Sater. The article cited by Cannon on TPM. Josh Marshall has a good deal of questions on a guy who may become a household world for sleazeball. There’s no doubt in my mind that T-Rump sees himself as some kind of global oligarch in the Russian model. Putin is thought to be the wealthiest man on earth. Is Kremlin Caligula looking to set up self up similarly by pilfering US assets?
After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there’s no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.
On its own, Trump’s relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. Whatever shadowy ties Sater might have and whatever his criminal background, Trump has long since washed his hands of him. (Again, we’re talking about most generous reads here.)
But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen – who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters – is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.
Here’s something astounding from WAPO. This certainly makes Watergate look like a Piker’s Ball. You have to wonder what kind of stuff the Kremlin hackers got from the RNC and exactly who’s little gonads are swinging in the wind if it’s released.
President Trump’s personal lawyer and a former business associate met privately in New York City last month with a member of the Ukrainian parliament to discuss a peace plan for that country that could give Russia long-term control over territory it seized in 2014 and lead to the lifting of sanctions against Moscow.
The meeting with Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, involved Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization lawyer since 2007, and Felix Sater, a former business partner who worked on real estate projects with Trump’s company.
The occurrence of the meeting, first reported Sunday by the New York Times, suggests that some in the region aligned with Russia have been seeking to use Trump business associates as an informal conduit to a new president who has signaled a desire to forge warmer relations with Russia. The discussion took place amid increasingly intense scrutiny of the ties between Trump’s team and Russia, as well as escalating investigations on Capitol Hill of the determination by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin intervened in last year’s election to help Trump.
The Times reported that Cohen said he left the proposal in a sealed envelope in the office of then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn while visiting Trump in the White House. The meeting took place days before Flynn’s resignation last week following a report in The Washington Post that he had misled Vice President Pence about his discussions in December of election-related sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Cohen, speaking with The Post on Sunday, acknowledged that the meeting took place and that he had left with the peace proposal in hand.
But Cohen said he did not take the envelope to the White House and did not discuss it with anyone. He called suggestions to the contrary “fake news.”
“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen said. He said he told the Ukrainian official that he could send the proposal to Flynn by writing him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
New York Magazine points this interesting thing out amid all the spooks and spies. Least we forget the Golden Showers moments and the former spy who has definitely gone into hiding.
A controversial and unverified dossier assembled by a former British intelligence agent alleged that Cohen had discussed Russia’s hacking of Democratic Party computer systems with a Russian official in Prague during Trump’s campaign, but Cohen and the Russian official have both denied that allegation. Sater had apparently been working on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow that was halted on account of Trump’s presidential campaign. Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, for what it’s worth, thinks Sater’s inclusion in the report is a very big deal, since Sater was at the center of the Trump Soho development project in Manhattan, which Marshall notes was the Trump project with the most Russia-linked shadiness.
I don’t know about you but all of this has me extremely nervous. As David Corn of MoJo puts it:
Every time we turn around, there’s something new linking Trump to Russia. Just a few days ago, FBI Director James Comey briefed the Senate Intelligence committee about the ongoing investigation of Team Trump and its ties to Russia, and all the chatter afterward was about how the senators seemed kind of shaken by what they heard.
Who knows? Maybe it all turns out to be nothing. But there sure is a lot of smoke out there. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a fire too.
Economic Gain? Blackmail? Affinity for fellow thugs? Who knows what the motivations are for all of this. All I know is that our country is on the losing end of all this and I would hate to for us sell our allies out for rubles.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Kudos to Maxine Waters. She’s got guts to pursue this…when will the Repugs finally get on board?
Ditto! Thanx Dak for all the Russian tie in. Fluff everywhere with Trump’s associations. And the article from the Blaze, just creeps me out. What an insult, he goes on the record to abuse children. Sick.
They know. These agencies know what is going on and what it is all about. The question remains: when will the American public be informed that what they are enduring is an illegitimate president with ties to the Russian mafia and a tyrannical Russian government who has the “goods” on all the players involved?
Red flags should have been raised during the RNC convention when an insert to the platform honoring Russia and the Crimea were approved by the oversight committee. It was a curious act in itself but for the most part it went uninvestigated because “e-mails”. Attention was directed elsewhere and little else was reported.
It was more important to the press to play up “a horse race”. Hillary was shrill. Her health “in doubt”. She wasn’t “pure enough” for the Berniebots. All that bullshit and Trump was urged along while dragging with him some very shady people who are only now being exposed for who
they are and what they represent.
Next red flag was in choosing Tillerson. An Exxon exec with no diplomatic experience but who had originally put together the Arctic drilling deal that would bring in billions of profits to both sides. Only until it was scuttled as a sanction due to Russian aggression against the Crimea which then began the underlying need to “pick” the right choice to remove them.
They all knew. And I include Obama in this as well. For whatever reason, possibly his hesitation in interfering with an ongoing investigation, he stood silent. Comey was the icing on the cake leading up to the final 2 weeks where Hillary was taken down for her “lack of integrity” while Trump remained “unscathed”.
This is the result. They all knew. Top to bottom. The information is there. It is in their hands. It is up to the GOP to use it as they are the majority rule. The nation demands this investigation and deserves to know the truth.
The security of the nation is at play and we cannot take much more of this criminal enterprise if we are to survive.
It is time to spill the beans!
I honestly believe that the RNC hack is being used to blackmail republicans and Trumpsters at this point and I’m not much into conspiracy theories.
I absolutely agree. They have damning information – I suspect the “pee tape” is real – which accounts for those “soft words” of tribute from Trump to Putin.
I also suspect that those “stunned looks” on the faces of those who attended that briefing by Comey last week was based on lurid and criminal behavior gleaned from those 17 agencies that have filtered out drip by drip and is begging them to do something about it.
The GOP is losing control of the narrative and it is only a matter of time before the “leakers” take it into their own hands again and find a hospitable source to dump their information.
WAPO and the NYT are “battling” one another to produce those scoops.
I agree too. I’d love to know what they have on Chaffetz.
The Dam will burst when someone in the trump inner circle feels so insecure and threatened that they arrange a plea bargain. I don’t think it will be too long because the leaks are meant to sow the seeds of fear among those who know the truth. Whoever does cop out will have to disappear from the face of the earth because the Russian’s will do everything within their power to shut up anyone who might unmask the extent of their covert operations and their infiltration into our Government. Once the full extent of Russia’s involvement becomes known their hope of getting the sanctions lifted, the destruction of NATO, reconstituting their Empire and stabilizing their economy will be gone forever. When the other shoe drops in this one the entire World will hear it. This will make Watergate look like child’s play. trump will be impeached and everyone in his administration, including Pence, should be pushed out with him. The career people who resigned from State and all the other agencies of Government should be hired back and run our Government until we can have another election. This is unprecedented in U.S. History and could lead us to a Constitutional crisis, but I don’t think there’s anyway to leave the current administration in place. It’s all corrupted.
Rachel is also doing a bang up job every night by fitting the pieces in place. Lawrence is right behind her.
This gives me some reason to hope that the pressure will eventually lead to full exposure but with McConnell, Chaffetz, and Ryan refusing to act I can’t let my hope get the best of me.
Anyone counting on John McCain to step up to the plate and push this thing through to a conclusion does not understand John McCain. He’s only around when he is assured of a soundbite than it is back to “party first”.
I agree about McCain. Just when I think that he’s going to do something helpful, he backtracks. Been happening for years.
Milo Yiannopoulous is a goner. Steve Bannon, and the whole of collection at Brietbart, and the fluffy CPAC should all be in promoting sexually exploitation of children. They claimed it was all about FREE speech, but we damn well that was phony.
The conservative has allowed this for years. And Trump gets up on stage saying he is going to make our country safe. When it is his precious people promoting hate and violence. We need to declare war against Brietbart, whose has been doing business in bad taste, and lying and ignoring the damage they have done to our families.
I hope you’re right, but CPAC hasn’t uninvited him yet.
Update: Milo Yiannopoulos disinvited from CPAC slot amid tape controversy
Yay!!! A career-ender for the ever-delightful Yiannopoulos. Kellyanne seems to be history, too (I hope I hope I hope I hope…)
That news made my day. The LGBT community despises Milo. When Breitbart fires him it will bring on dancing in the streets in Gay bars everywhere. Karma is a bitch!
As for Kellyanne, I think she told just one too many lies and now none of the networks wants to pedal her bullshit anymore. CNN refuses to book her so my guess is she’s laying low waiting for the heat to die down.
It always seemed to me Milo used his sexual orientation and KaCa her gender to try to neutralize any criticism of the alt-right for their anti-LGBT and anti-feminist positions. I’m not worried too much about karma coming for me for wishing them ill in light of the harm they’ve directed at so many others.
Trump picks Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to be national security adviser
Sounds like he agreed to “share” the job with Bannon. Not a good thing.
It appears this was the reason the others turned it down. Bannon would ultimately be in charge.
President Bannon rules!
If they accidentally got this one right then at least maybe we’re safe and there’s an adult in the room if anything happens.
The controlling party often loses seats in the midterms. With any luck tRump’s disastrous policies will energize young voters to show up en masse.
The first place I saw much info about Agent Orange’s financial mess with Russia was someone named Adam Khan who I think goes by @Khanoisseur on the twitter machine. He’s got some charts of the interrelationships that looks about as complicated as cell metabolism diagrams.
And remember the six minute video by HRC’s campaign? Laid it all out. The intelligence community was we now hear also laying it all out. But do anything? Hell, no. Congress, White House, career bureaucrats, everybody, just seemed to think it was fine to let the house burn down and then stand around saying how sad it all is.
Bunch of turd polishers.
There is lots of info on Felix Sater in both books I read on Trump. I don’t know why reporters don’t just go read the biographies–there are several. The FBI might want to do the same.
What about the UN Russian ambassador dying today? I heard via twitter it was unexpected.
Always wonder when someone connected with Russia dies unexpectedly.
I’d say about a snowball’s chance in Hell, frankly.