Thursday Reads: Trump-Russia Connections Just Keep Piling Up.

Good Morning!!

Last Minute Update:

This is a developing story.

Also: Today is JJ’s birthday. Happy Birthday to our favorite cartoon maven.

Now to the news that was breaking when I started this post.

In my Saturday post, I tried to connect some dots to demonstrate that Trump’s almost benign missile strike on Syria was likely orchestrated in coordination with Russia. Today that seems even more likely, as the new of Trump-Russia connection pile up almost daily.

The missile strike was on Friday night. Since then, we’ve learned damning information about former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former foreign policy adviser Carter Page. The distraction caused by Trump’s military action hasn’t lasted long.

Remember that secret handwritten ledger found in Ukraine that listed payments of $12.6 million to Manafort? That NYT story led to Manafort being sidelined by the campaign.

Associated Press: Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout.

Last August, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Manafort, who was then Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.

Ukrainian investigators called it evidence of off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party — and part of a larger pattern of corruption under the country’s former president. Manafort, who worked for the party as an international political consultant, has publicly questioned the ledger’s authenticity.

Now, financial records newly obtained by The Associated Press confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States. They include payments in 2007 and 2009, providing the first evidence that Manafort’s firm received at least some money listed in the so-called Black Ledger.

The two payments came years before Manafort became involved in Trump’s campaign, but for the first time bolster the credibility of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as federal prosecutors in the U.S. have been investigating Manafort’s work in Eastern Europe as part of a larger anti-corruption probe.

Last night the New York Times reported that right after he resigned from the Trump campaign, he took out millions in loans from Trump-connected companies. Click here to read

Aug. 19 was an eventful day for Paul Manafort.

That morning, he stepped down from guiding Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, after a brief tenure during which Mr. Trump won the Republican nomination, Democrats’ emails were hacked and the campaign’s contacts with Russia came under scrutiny. Dogged by revelations about past financial dealings in Ukraine, Mr. Manafort retreated from public view.

But behind the scenes, he was busy with other matters. Papers were recorded that same day creating a shell company controlled by Mr. Manafort that soon received $13 million in loans from two businesses with ties to Mr. Trump, including one that partners with a Ukrainian-born billionaire and another led by a Trump economic adviser. They were among $20 million in loans secured by properties belonging to Mr. Manafort and his wife.

The purpose of the loans is unstated in public records, although at least some of them appear to be part of an effort by Mr. Manafort to stave off a personal financial crisis stemming from failed investments with his son-in-law.

The transactions raise a number of questions, including whether Mr. Manafort’s decision to turn to Trump-connected lenders was related to his role in the campaign, where he had agreed to serve for free.

That is on top of accusations of money laundering by Manafort and evidence that he made a deal with a Russian oligarch to provide services that would “greatly benefit the Putin Government,” according the AP.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Manafort is negotiating to retroactively register as a foreign agent.

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chair for Donald Trump, has signaled that he plans to register as a foreign agent for his past work on behalf of political figures in Ukraine.

If he files, Manafort would become the second former senior Trump adviser in recent weeks to retroactively acknowledge the need to disclose foreign work. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser, filed a disclosure last month saying he had done work on behalf of Turkish interests.

A spokesman for Manafort said Wednesday that the longtime political consultant considered a new filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) after receiving “formal guidance recently from the authorities” regarding work he and a colleague had performed on behalf of Ukrainian political interests.

And then there’s Carter Page.

The Washington Post on Tuesday: FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page.

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections began in July, officials have said. Most such investigations don’t result in criminal charges.

Yesterday Page gave a bizarre interview to CNN.

From CNN: Carter Page now a ‘no comment’ on FBI investigations.

Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser on President Donald Trump’s campaign, declined repeatedly Wednesday to confirm or deny the FBI had interviewed him yet.

“I have nothing to say about any ongoing investigations,” Page said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

Page’s CNN interview came a day after the Washington Post reported the FBI had received a warrant to surveil him in summer 2016 as part of the federal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the presidential race….

“Let’s not jump to any conclusions, and until there’s full evidence and a full investigation has been done, we just don’t know,” Page said.

Pressed on FBI questioning, he wouldn’t say if he had been interviewed by the FBI, but said that he looked forward to supporting congressional investigations into the matter.

In interviews as recently as February, Page had said the FBI had not questioned him, but in his CNN interview he declined to answer.

This morning Page spoke to ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos: Carter Page: ‘Something may have come up in a conversation’ with Russians about US sanctions.

ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Page on “Good Morning America” today if he met with anyone in the Russian government or connected to Russian intelligence during that trip.

Page said he briefly said “hello” to one of the school’s board members.

When Stephanopoulos asked whether in any of his conversations Page suggested that Trump would be open to easing sanctions on Russia, Page initially said, “I never offered that” but then said, “I don’t recall every single word.”

Stephanopoulos pressed, “It sounds like from what you’re saying it’s possible you may have discussed the easing of sanctions.”

“Something may have come up in a conversation,” Page replied. “I have no recollection, and there’s nothing specifically that I would have done that would have given people that impression.”

“Someone may have brought it up,” he continued. “And if it was, it was not something I was offering or that someone was asking for.”

“We’ll see what comes out in this FISA transcript,” he said.

Well, that’s interesting. Page is hedging his bets in case the wiretaps picked up something damning. That guy is a real weirdo. Earlier he told ABC News that he believes “Obama targeted him as a ‘dissident’.”

My guess is that Page, Manafort, and Flynn are already talking to the FBI or soon will be. Notice we haven’t heard anything from Flynn since the last dust-up.

As always, since Trump became POTUS, there is way too much news! A few more stories to check out, links only:

CNN: US intelligence intercepted communications between Syrian military and chemical experts.

Reuters: North Korea may be capable of sarin-tipped missiles: Japan PM.

Express UK: Kim Jong-Un ‘orders IMMEDIATE EVACUATION of Pyongyang’ as tensions with US escalate

Letter to Editor, Chicago Tribune: I was on United flight 3411. Here’s what I saw.

Charlotte Observer: NC lawmaker calls Abraham Lincoln a ‘tyrant’ like Hitler.

Rich Lowry at Politico: When Jared Wins.

Gene Lyons at The National Memo: Does Trump Expect To Fool America With A Pro Wrestling Feud?

The Washington Post: Inside Bannon’s struggle: From ‘shadow president’ to Trump’s marked man.

The Miami Herald: Undercooled meat. Dangerous fish. Health inspectors zing Trump’s Mar-a-Lago kitchen.

The Sun UK: Ex-MI6 chief accuses Donald Trump of secretly borrowing from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during the financial crisis.

Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Thursday despite the insanity.

38 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Trump-Russia Connections Just Keep Piling Up.”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    U.S. Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb on ISIS Target in Afghanistan

    U.S. forces dropped one of biggest non-nuclear weapons in its arsenal in a large-scale strike against ISIS in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, according to Pentagon officials.

    The U.S. dropped a GBU-43 bomb on ISIS fighters and facilities in the country’s Nangarhar province, officials said. Military officials believe it is the first time the weapon was used on the battlefield.

    • dakinikat says:

      Why wouldn’t a man with all kinds of weird complexes drop the “mother” of all bombs! Probably trying to show the NK freak show who the biggest freak is on the planet.

      nothing surprises me any more. i’m shocked always. surprised never.

      and Carter-Page is one odd duck

  3. bostonboomer says:

    The Guardian:

    British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia

    …both US and UK intelligence sources acknowledge that GCHQ played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.

    One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”.

    The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election. This was in part due to US law that prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants. “They are trained not to do this,” the source stressed.

    “It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” the source added. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’

    “The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”

  4. dakinikat says:

    The Media’s Eternal Search For A “Presidential” Trump
    Blog ››› April 10, 2017 10:48 AM EDT ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Like Captain Ahab spotting a breaching Moby Dick in the distance, there seemed to be palpable pundit excitement last week about the prospect of the elusive “presidential” Donald Trump finally being sighted in the wake of the United States’ bombing mission in Syria.

    Eager to bestow a mantle of seriousness and normalcy upon him, some commentators rushed to proclaim the U.S. military strike on an airfield to be a defining moment for the still-new president; to stress how the bombardment meant that Trump had elevated himself in stature and was now conducting himself in a somber, statesmanlike manner.

    We’ve seen this excited commentary regularly with Trump, perhaps most notably when a portion of the pundit class was eager to announce that a serious, “presidential” Trump had finally emerged following his address to a joint session of Congress in February. (It was yet another false sighting.)

    • Enheduanna says:

      To contrast this fawning behavior with the treatment “The Media” gives women like Hillary Clinton, Pelosi, Gillibrand, etc, etc. is sickening.

  5. dakinikat says:

    • Fannie says:

      About noontime today, CNN, is interviewing 4 people about the Mother Bomb, and before she starts she says, and you know, there are those people who believe that Hillary Clinton would have been more hawkish that Trump……….. Piss me off. She’s not the president, and it was CNN who helped Trump win, yet, somehow it’s Hillary, or better yet, since no one knows if Trump ordered the strike today, we all know what the next line will be “Obama”.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        Fannie, Jake Tapper, for one, never misses an opportunity to slam Hillary.
        But there’s no misogyny, here.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. Enheduanna says:

    Those charts in the post don’t even cover all the ties! I don’t see that dude who bought the property in Palm Beach for $60 million more than it was worth….

    And apparently there is a second tRump “ally” under FISA surveillance:

  8. Fannie says:

    Thanks BB, and everyone else, putting this in the light for everybody to see is what we need right now…………

    I was interested in that blackledger………….and the news in the Guardian. Great source, thanks.

  9. Enheduanna says:

    Did ya’ll see the review of his Mar-a-Lago restaurant? Yikes!

    This is funny from Hullabaloo:

    • NW Luna says:

      Ha! The menu contrast between Trump and Obama is amazing. The Obamas offered a menu not only far more sophisticated and more suitable for a diplomatic dinner, but also with some items either Chinese or traditionally used in Chinese cuisines. The ingredients were probably less likely to give you gastritis, too.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    This is from the WaPo article on Bannon:

    Trump’s three oldest children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — and Kushner have been frustrated by the impression of chaos inside the White House and feel that their father has not always been served well by his senior staff, according to people with knowledge of their sentiments. The Trump heirs are interested in any changes that might help resuscitate the presidency and preserve the family’s name at a time when they are trying to expand the Trump Organization’s portfolio of hotels.

    “The fundamental assessment is that if they want to win the White House in 2020, they’re not going to do it the way they did in 2016, because the family brand would not sustain the collateral damage,” said one well-connected Republican operative, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s family. “It would be so protectionist, nationalist and backward-looking that they’d only be able to build in Oklahoma City or the Ozarks.”

    The presidency is now just part of building the Trump brand.

    • Fannie says:

      It was always about MONEY. I just finished watching 13 Days……….the Cuban Crisis. Can you imagine John F. Kennedy relying on the generals to make decisions! Guess where we would be now? All those fallout shelters, and what we went through back in day, seems like it’s not such a bad idea today.

  11. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      On Thursday, he tweeted: “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., and its allies will!”

      Ayup, and just what allies would those be? Are there any he hasn’t pissed off yet (except maybe China)? Mr Braggadocio is slavering at the mouth to order bigger and bigger bombs while the rest of the world watches in horror.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Those tweets are going to get us all killed. North Korea already commented on the tweets yesterday.

        • NW Luna says:

          I saw those too. I need to find a bomb shelter out in the mountains somewhere. Preferably under the mountains. But that’s just gallows humor. Crawl out from the secure bunker into a nuclear aftermath — you’re screwed then anyway.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Glad they jailed this despicable excuse for a “doctor.”

  13. dakinikat says:

  14. NW Luna says:

    Somewhat reassuring commentary:

  15. NW Luna says:

    How symbolic that the money goes to battlefield preservation.

  16. NW Luna says: