Tuesday Reads: Bizarro World NewsPosted: November 7, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Foreign Affairs, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adam Schiff, Arkady Dvorkovich, Bizarro World, Carter Page, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Donald Trump, House Intelligence Committee, Jared Kushner, Robert Mercer, Saudi Arabia, Steele Dossier, Steve Bannon 45 Comments
I’m having another one of those mornings when my head is spinning from trying to sort out all the nutty news out there. We truly are living in Bizarro World now. If you want proof, just try reading Carter Page’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee (pdf). I’ve read some of it, and hope to read more this afternoon. Some insights journalists have noted:
The Washington Post: Trump adviser sent email describing ‘private conversation’ with Russian official.
Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to President Trump’s campaign whose visit to Moscow during the election has drawn scrutiny, sent an email to fellow Trump aides during his trip describing “a private conversation” with a senior Russian official who spoke favorably of the Republican candidate, according to records released late Monday by congressional investigators.
The email appeared to contradict earlier statements by Page, who had said he had only Page also wrote that he had been provided “incredible insights and outreach” by Russian lawmakers and “senior members” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration during the trip.
The email appeared to contradict earlier statements by Page, who had said he had only exchanged brief greetings with the senior Russian official, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, after he delivered a speech at a Russian university.
In his July 2016 note, Page wrote that Dvorkovich had “expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to a vast range of current international problems.”
Page had withheld the email from the Committee, claiming a 5th Amendment right to turn over some information while holding back anything that would incriminate him. Page was unaware that the Committee already had his emails.
Page’s email was read aloud by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) when Page met behind closed doors last week with the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 president election….
Confronted with his email, Page told the committee that he had not meant that he met with any officials but rather that he had learned of their views about the U.S. election from local media and scholars. He maintained that his interaction with Dvorkovich consisted of a brief greeting, and that he had learned his views on the campaign while listening to Dvorkovich’s public address. Page told the committee that he had not worked with the Russians to hack emails or otherwise influence the election.
OK . . . ?? Page’s testimony reads like something written out of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.
Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: Carter Page’s testimony is filled with bombshells — and supports key portions of the Steele dossier.
Page revealed during his testimony that he met with both members of Russia’s presidential administration and with the head of investor relations at the state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft during his trip to Moscow last July.
He also congratulated members of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team on July 14 for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment” — a reference to the Trump campaign’s decision to “intervene” to water down a proposed amendment to the GOP’s Ukraine platform….
Page also revealed that Trump campaign adviser Sam Clovis had asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement upon joining the campaign — and that he discussed his July Moscow trip with Clovis both before he went and after he returned.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff confronted Page with an email he wrote on July 8 from Moscow to Trump campaign adviser J.D. Gordon saying that he had received “incredible insights and outreach from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”
Former British spy Christopher Steele wrote in the dossier that an “official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. IVANOV, cornfided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, DIVYEKIN (nfd) also had met secretly with PAGE on his recent visit.”
The birth certificate translation service can significantly change a document’s graphical layout, often requiring additional space to accommodate different character counts or writing directions. Also, the foreign patent filing has specific requirements and nuances for each country.
According to that official in the dossier, Diveykin told Page that the Kremlin had a dossier of kompromat on Hillary Clinton that they wanted to give to the Trump campaign.
Read the rest at Business Insider.
NBC News: Carter Page Coordinated Russia Trip With Top Trump Campaign Officials.
Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, who has come under scrutiny in the investigation of Russian election interference, told a House committee that he sought permission for a July 2016 trip to Moscow from senior Trump campaign officials, and reported to other Trump officials about the trip when he returned.
It’s long been known that Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, but he has said it was in his private capacity, unrelated to his role with the Trump campaign.
Page, whose sworn testimony was released Monday night, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he sought permission to make the trip from campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and also notified Hope Hicks, who is now the White House communications director.
Lewandowski told Page he was clear to go on the trip as long as the travel was not associated with his work on the campaign, Page told the committee.
Page also acknowledged that he had been aware that another volunteer campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had been meeting with a professor with links to the Kremlin, according to the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Check out this lengthy Twitter thread for more details on Page’s testimony.
And a reminder:
Charles Pierce: We’re Again Testing How Much Bullsh*t American Politics Can Withstand. Enter Carter Page.
Prior to Carter Page’s bravura piece of surreal performance art on Monday before the House Select Committee On Intelligence, there was Casey Stengel in 1958, confounding the Senate Anti-Trust and Monopoly Subcommittee that was looking into removing professional baseball’s exemption from the country’s anti-trust regulations. And then, 15 years later, Tony Ulasewicz, the hangdog ex-NYPD cop-turned-Nixonian bagman, explained to Sam Ervin and the special committee looking into Watergate how he handled the payoffs to the original Watergate burglars—including the piquant detail that, while he was roaming Washington with paper bags full of cash, he wore a subway motorman’s change dispenser on his belt because he was doing so much business in public phone booths.
But neither of them came anywhere close to the kung-fu fighting that Page did with the English language on Monday. The committee wisely released a transcript of Page’s testimony, and chunks of it were flying around the Intertoobz all Monday night. I found that the best way to read it was to dim all the lights and play all my Hawkwind albums really loud.
There’s just so much chewy goodness. For example, Page refers to the “so-called Putin regime,” but has no compunction of referring to “the Obama-Clinton regime” without the qualifying modifier. He also seems to believe that the Senate “Gang of Eight” was an actual gang, with Harry Reid as its jefe. His testimony begins with a long letter he’d written in response to the committee. Here, from that letter, he presents as evidence that he and the Russians were guiltless of ratfcking the 2016 election the fact that he is not yet wealthy.
If our government had a better understanding of Russia and the way business is now conducted in Russia, the 2016 Dodgy Dossier which alleged that I should have received a multi-million dollar bribe after President Trump’s victory in November would have been easily dismissed as a work of fiction by these supposed subject-matter experts.
The letter also refers to the “gangster tactics” of “the transnational veritable organized crime network that Reid leveraged during the Clinton/Obama regime,” so you can pretty much figure out that we’ve turned a pretty dark bend in a pretty strange river.
Read the rest at the Esquire link above.
Other Bizarro World News:
Something strange is happening in Saudi Arabia and it seems likely Trump and Jared Kushner are involved. David Ignatius wrote on Sunday:
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says he’s cracking down on corruption. But the sweeping arrests of cabinet ministers and senior princes Saturday night looked to many astonished Arab observers like a bold but risky consolidation of power.
MBS, as the headstrong 32-year-old ruler is known, struck at some of the kingdom’s most prominent business and political names in a new bid to gain political control and drive change in the oil kingdom. By the count of the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel, the arrests included 11 princes, four ministers and several dozen others.
“He’s creating a new Saudi Arabia,” said one Saudi business leader contacted Sunday. He noted that the anti-corruption campaign follows other aggressive but controversial moves, including a royal decree allowing women to drive and limits on the religious police.
“This is very risky,” the business leader said, because MBS is now challenging senior princes and religious conservatives simultaneously. The executive, who strongly supports MBS’s liberalization efforts, worried that “he’s fighting too many wars at once.”
This followed a secret visit by Kushner in October.
MBS is emboldened by strong support from President Trump and his inner circle, who see him as a kindred disrupter of the status quo — at once a wealthy tycoon and a populist insurgent. It was probably no accident that last month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, made a personal visit to Riyadh. The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.
Bloomberg: Trump Undercuts His Advisers Again With Saudi Tweets.
President Donald Trump again showed how quickly his tweets can outrun U.S. foreign policy planning, after he backed Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince over the arrests of dozens of officials before the State Department had completed its review of the moves.
While Trump had talked with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about Saudi Arabia as they toured Tokyo together Nov. 5 and 6, there was no formal consultation before he tweeted early Tuesday that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman “know exactly what they are doing.” [….] A second tweet said “some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”
Trump and Kushner are running their own foreign policy out of the White House, probably based on their business interests.
The Intercept: CIA Director Met Advocate of Disputed DNC Hack Theory–at Trump’s Request.
CIA DIRECTOR MIKE Pompeo met late last month with a former U.S. intelligence official who has become an advocate for a disputed theory that the theft of the Democratic National Committee’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign was an inside job, rather than a hack by Russian intelligence.
Pompeo met on October 24 with William Binney, a former National Security Agency official-turned-whistleblower who co-authored an analysispublished by a group of former intelligence officials that challenges the U.S. intelligence community’s official assessment that Russian intelligence was behind last year’s theft of data from DNC computers. Binney and the other former officials argue that the DNC data was “leaked,” not hacked, “by a person with physical access” to the DNC’s computer system.
In an interview with The Intercept, Binney said Pompeo told him that President Donald Trump had urged the CIA director to meet with Binney to discuss his assessment that the DNC data theft was an inside job. During their hour-long meeting at CIA headquarters, Pompeo said Trump told him that if Pompeo “want[ed] to know the facts, he should talk to me,” Binney said.
A senior intelligence source confirmed that Pompeo met with Binney to discuss his analysis, and that the CIA director held the meeting at Trump’s urging.
Pompeo and Trump are apparently running an alternative CIA investigation!
Finally, The Guardian reports from the Paradise Papers: Offshore cash helped fund Steve Bannon’s attacks on Hillary Clinton.
Eighteen months before guiding Donald Trump to election victory, Steve Bannon delivered the opening shot in the ruthless Republican campaign to paint their Democratic opponent as corrupt.
The future White House chief strategist produced a book in May 2015 accusing Hillary Clinton of trading favours for donations to her charitable foundation. Its questionable central charge, on the sale of a uranium company to Russia, recently became the subject of a House inquiry and feverish talk on conservative media.
But the financial arrangements of another foundation, which bankrolled Bannon’s creation of the book, Clinton Cash, have received less scrutiny.
Leaked documents and newly obtained public filings show how the billionaire Mercer family built a $60m war chest for conservative causes inside their family foundation by using an offshore investment vehicle to avoid US tax.
The offshore vehicle was part of a network of companies in the Atlantic tax haven of Bermuda led by Robert Mercer, the wealthy hedge-fund executive and Bannon patron whose spending helped put Trump in the White House and aided a resurgence of the Republican right.
Read the rest at The Guardian link.
So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?htt
Do you think Carter Page is like some where on the autism spectrum or has BPD or something? He seems very odd. Plus, he did this with no lawyer? Some of those things in that transcript are very odd.
He’s peculiar but he likes the attention.
He is peculiar. Very peculiar.
He’s “uncanny valley” type of peculiar. (The robotics term for humanoid robots which are so lifelike they ought to pass, but they’re just “off” enough that you know they’re not human.) Starting with that bizarro expression of his.
He’s playing it, real nutty, but a player.
What was the bottom line to all these Russian meetings that most involved have denied so strenuously?
It appears that Flynn was out to change the balance in the mideast while Trump and Kushner were set to rake in millions (or billions) through Russian connections. This is setting us on a very dangerous path if true because they all have demonstrated just how stupid and corrupt they all are in trying to make gains with a criminal enterprise led by Putin.
What are we doing “making nice” with a known killer who will obliterate anyone standing in his way? The newest “business” with the Saudis is terrifying. It could lead to more war in that region and you have to ask how much of a reliance is put on the US to back up that kingdom should it come to that.
Trump and Kushner see dollar signs. This is their major interest. Thinking that more conflagration could break out over their greed is enough to seek impeachment now.
The Trace: The Military Is Reporting Almost No Domestic Abusers to the Main Gun Background Check Database
Shooter probably would’ve gotten what he wanted at a gun show because of that loophole and because*TEXAS* but since he had severe anger issues it could’ve slowed him down at key times. Who knows?
It’s amazing the Air Force let him return to the general population after just a year with no warnings to authorities. He had documented mental health problems, violent attacks on a woman and child, and threats against his senior officers.
Documents: Texas church gunman escaped from mental health facility in 2012
This is crazy. Who did this asshole know in the military administration that did all these favors for him?
Yesterday (on my way to dentist) NPR reported they do this all the time. And they limit the jail time to 12 months to keep them under the radar. I guess it’s a good-old-boy network type of thing.
You know he went out to teach in some bible camp somewhere first thing and the Air Force is just filled with whackadoo brand of evangelicals. I wonder if it’s sort’ve the culture of as long as he’s saved we forgive him and send him off to do evil again. It certainly is that way with preachers and politicians of that ilk.
Do you think this means anything?
MSNBC calls Virginia for Northam thank god!
It means they hate Trump in VA.
I strongly disagree. It means so much more. Look at how early it was called for Northam. That is significant. As well, our absolutely incredible ground game delivered some down ticket races that we never could have hoped for. Yes, there was a lot of Trump hate but that doesn’t always translate to local elections. I’ve become a true believe in grassroots efforts.
Thank you janice for all your work!
Congratulations Janicen! We could use you down here is GA.
Y’all got a clean sweep! Made my Custis/Lee DNA tingle!!!
Thank you Janicen and all the democrats who made this a WIN. What a super good feeling, Virginia and New Jersey, we luv you. Hugs to you all.
Amen, Fannie. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus-um-God!
Yes! Thank you, Janicen!
Thank you Fannie.I can’t tell you how good it feels! Books could be written about the grassroots efforts that have gone into winning this one. Even we are surprised at the down ticket elections that have been won for the Democrats.
Another one bites the dust.
Oh, that is going to piss some people off! Fantastic!!!!
I had the pleasure of meeting Danica Roem at one of our meetings. She is one of those people who upon meeting them you feel as if you’ve known them for years. She was at one our meetings here in Chesterfield County even though the district she was running in was in Northern Virginia. Didn’t matter to her, she came and personally introduced herself to each of us and then gave a rousing speech and invited us to come up north and canvass for a few hours if we could or help in any way that worked for us. She is an outstanding politician and I’d be surprised if she stopped at the House of Delegates. I hope some here were able to hear her talk to Lawrence O’Donnell by phone last night. She is brilliant.
She is. The interview was great. She is an impressive person.
Go BLUE WALL!!!!
I’m going to be traveling today so I won’t be available to respond. But thank you all for your good wishes and encouragement. We worked hard but my efforts paled in comparison to the time and money and energy so many other women put into last nights victories. It started a year ago. Groups of men and women (but mostly women) started organizing and mobilizing. Canvassing every weekend and in recent weeks, every day. Knocking on doors to talk to voters to encourage them to vote, to make sure the voters had ID’s in order to vote. In a few cases, actually driving those voters to county offices and paying for their ID’s. Those who didn’t canvass, as well as those who did, made phone calls and wrote out thousands of postcards to reach out to voters. This victory was won because of something that no hacker could hack and no propagandist could influence, we won it with grit and passion and heart.
Thank you janicen for all you do and for your spirit!
Good morning Sky Dancers! This is the first morning in a long time that I’ve waked up feeling cheerful and positive about the future. Have a wonderful day!
LOL lol lol!
Wow. Straight out of Kafka … with cool marketing filter….