Lazy Saturday Reads: “Puppet Meets Puppet Master.”

C

Good Morning!!

Look at the photo above with Trump standing next to Putin at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam. That is the closest thing to a genuine smile I have ever seen on Trump’s ugly face.

Trump is literally enraptured by the murderous dictator of Russia. And today Trump made it clear that he believes Putin’s denials a interfering in the 2016 election over the unanimous conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Axios: Trump sides with Putin over intelligence agencies on Russian meddling.

President Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he believes Vladimir Putin’s denials about election meddling, and doesn’t want to press further because he thinks the U.S. and Russia can work together on issues that include North Korea, Syria and Ukraine. But the Kremlin reportedly said they did not discuss this issue during their brief conversation.

Axios provides the full transcript:

Reporter: Did Russia’s attempts to meddle in US elections come up in the conversations?

Trump: “He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times.”

Reporter: Today?

Trump: “I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election, he did not do what they are saying he did.”

Reporter: Do you believe him?

Trump: “Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine rather than arguing about whether or not… that whole thing was set up by the Democrats. Look at Podesta, look at all the things that they have done with the phony dossier. Those are the big events. But Putin said he did not do what they said he did. But we have a good feeling toward getting things done. If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact it would be a great thing, not a bad thing, because he could really help us on North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea and China is helping us. And because of the lack of the relationship that we have with Russia, because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this Democratic-inspired thing. We could really be helped a lot with Russia having to do with North Korea. You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn’t baby stuff, this is the real deal. And if Russia helped us in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster.”

Reporter: On election meddling, did you ask him the question?

Trump: “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says I didn’t do that. I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. Because again, if we had a relationship with Russia, North Korea which is our single biggest problem right now, it would help a lot. I think they are doing very well with respect to China, they have cut off financing, they have cut off lots of oil and lots of other things, lots of trade and it’s having a big impact. But Russia on the other hand may be making up the difference. And if they are, that’s not a good thing. So having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing especially as it relates to North Korea.”

“Hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she does not have what it takes to have that kind of relationship where you could call or you could do something. But this is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with Russia. He says that very strongly, he really seems to be insulted by it and he says he didn’t do it. He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.”

Trump is a traitor to our country. There is just no way to deny it at this point.

More from Politico:

Trump dismissed the meddling allegations as driven by Democrats, warning that the heavy focus on the issue threatens the United States’ ability to partner with Russia on key issues. He asserted that the allegations could fray the U.S.-Russia relationship so badly that the country could be less willing to cooperate on North Korea, Syria and other international crises — an outcome that would put lives at risk.

“This artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way and that’s a shame because people will die because of it,” he said. “And it’s a pure hit job.”

“Everybody knows there was no collusion,” he continued. “I think it’s a shame that something like this can destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are very important countries Russia could really help us.”

(Emphasis added.)

From the NYT, Here’s  a full transcript of all of Trump’s remarks on Air Force One between Danang and Hanoi. It’s just unbelievable.

From Twitter:

 

Meanwhile, back in the USA, there is plenty of news on the Russia investigation front.

The New York Times: A London Meeting of an Unlikely Group: How a Trump Adviser Came to Learn of Clinton ‘Dirt.’

At midday on March 24, 2016, an improbable group gathered in a London cafe to discuss setting up a meeting between Donald J. Trump, then a candidate, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

There was George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old from Chicago with an inflated résumé who just days earlier had been publicly named as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. There was Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic in his mid-50s with a faltering career who boasted of having high-level contacts in the Russian government.

And, perhaps most mysteriously, there was Olga Polonskaya, a 30-year-old Russian from St. Petersburg and the former manager of a wine distribution company. Mr. Mifsud introduced her to Mr. Papadopoulos as Mr. Putin’s niece, according to court papers. Mr. Putin has no niece.

The interactions between the three players and a fourth man with contacts inside Russia’s Foreign Ministry have become a central part of the inquiry by the special prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, into the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere with the presidential election. Recently released court documents suggest that the F.B.I. suspected that some of the people who showed interest in Mr. Papadopoulos were participants in a Russian intelligence operation.

The March 2016 meeting was followed by a breakfast the next month at a London hotel during which Mr. Mifsud revealed to Mr. Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” That was months before the theft of a trove of emails from the Democratic National Committee by Russian-sponsored hackers became public.

Please go read the whole thing. And there is further evidence that George Papadopoulos was not just a “low level” “coffee boy” in the Trump campaign (summarized from the NYT story quoted above).

George Papadopoulos

The Hill: Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report.

The campaign aide who suggested that President Trump journey to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the campaign was in regular contact with now-White House aide Stephen Miller, The New York Times reported Friday.

George Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Miller during the spring of 2016, a period during which Papadopoulos also helped edit a major foreign policy speech Trump delivered, according to the Times.

The speech in question was the one at the Mayflower Hotel, the one attended by Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and at which Kislyak and Jeff Sessions discussed “campaign-related matters.” On July 21, 2017, The Washington Post reported:

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he had no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sam Clovis with Trump

New this morning from Reuters: Investigators probe Trump knowledge of campaign’s Russia dealings: sources.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned Sam Clovis, co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s election campaign, to determine if Trump or top aides knew of the extent of the campaign team’s contacts with Russia, two sources familiar with the investigation said on Friday.

The focus of the questions put to Clovis by Mueller’s team has not been previously reported.

“The ultimate question Mueller is after is whether candidate Trump and then President-elect Trump knew of the discussions going on with Russia, and who approved or even directed them,” said one source. “That is still just a question.” [….]

One of the sources described Clovis as “another domino” after former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over his own contacts with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.“

The investigators now know what Papadopoulos was doing on the Russian front, which he initially tried to conceal, and who he told that to,” said the other source. “Now [they] want to know whether Clovis and others reported these activities and others related to Russia, and if so, to whom,” this source said.

Read the rest at Reuters.

One more before I wrap this up:

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Cambridge Analytica Denies Working With Russia, Unconvincingly.

Alexander Nix

There are several channels through which Donald Trump’s campaign apparently cooperated with Russian efforts to help him win the presidency. The first, and best known, is a Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 to pursue Russian promises of providing dirt on Hillary Clinton. A second is Roger Stone, a frequent Trump adviser who had clear advance notice of the publication of stolen emails. A third is Trump himself openly asking Russia to obtain Clinton’s State Department emails. The final channel is the efforts by Cambridge Analytica, the campaign’s data firm. This channel is less well known to the public, in part because reporting about it has been dominated by The Wall Street Journal, and its stories hidden behind a paywall. But Cambridge Analytica’s role has come into much clearer focus.

Two weeks ago, the Journal reported that Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to help him better organize the stolen Democratic emails his site was publishing. On Friday, the Journal found that this contact came as Cambridge Analytica was joining the Trump campaign.

Nix denies the allegation: “We did not work with Russia in this election, and moreover we would never work with a third-party state actor in another country’s campaign.” But Nix also denies Russia had anything to do with the campaign at all. (“On Thursday, Mr. Nix called the notion that Russians “significantly interfered” in the U.S. election “frankly absurd,” the Journalnotes.) That second denial, which is silly, saps the other denials of some of their credibility.

Please go read the rest. It’s not long.

Now what stories are you following today?

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31 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: “Puppet Meets Puppet Master.””

  1. bostonboomer says:

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  2. bostonboomer says:

    Another fascinating and disturbing story from Slate: Lebanon’s prime minister was apparently forced to resign on video and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

    Is Saudi Arabia Holding the Prime Minister of Lebanon Prisoner?

    • quixote says:

      That Saudi situation with an absolute monarchy propped up by an absolute theocracy was never going to end well. Now that the Dump has been stupid enough to totally let them off the chain, they’re going to go crazy. Then implode.

      Much as the world has to get off oil, that’s the messiest, costliest way to do it for everybody. Saudi people and the whole world.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    OMG, now Richard Dreyfuss, whose son was molested by Kevin Spacey, has been accused.

    Vulture: L.A. Writer Says Richard Dreyfuss Sexually Harassed and Exposed Himself to Her in the 1980s

    • dakinikat says:

      You know if you put 100 men in a room that I would venture 80% have done something like that at the other 20% either enabled them by joking it off or actively egging them on.

      • jane says:

        I’m pretty much a loner, but in my life, all the women I have gotten to know has told me of being molested by grandfather, uncle, or brother. I have a story that I have never divulged to anyone. How many more who are not famous, not going to newspapers?

        • bostonboomer says:

          Every woman has stories.

          After the stories about guys taking their penises out an masturbating, I remembered a couple of times I was flashed. Once when I was in college, a guy called me and a friend over to his car and he was jacking off. We just laughed at him, but it’s still upsetting. What is it with men wanted to show off their penises?

          • Joanelle says:

            And most of them in general don’t have much to show off

          • Sweet Sue says:

            Who knows?

          • NW Luna says:

            We all have stories. And I agree, why are they so fixated on their dangly or pointy things? It’s not like it’s a very attractive design — all that external stuff seems awkward.

            I still remember the lines from a feminist poet that ran something like “The next time a man pulls out his penis to show us like it’s a good thing, we’ll just laugh real hard and long, sisters.”

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Putin claims he did not discuss election meddling with Trump.

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  5. NW Luna says:

    Trump’s face … and Putin with a delighted yet sneaky smile that he can’t quite keep off his face.

    The U.S.A., now run by a toady to Russia.

  6. quixote says:

    It’s getting to the point where it might be simpler to identify the men who have not harassed anyone, and just put the rest to work planting trees or something. Under adequate oversight, of course.

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    I can’t express how repulsed I am regarding Trump and his refusal to accept Russia’s involvement in election meddling. There is something deeper there that has yet to be uncovered.

    Having said that, where is the GOP leadership on this? Why are no demands being made that this man and his cronies helped in attacking our democracy?

    The only solution is a Dem sweep in 2018 to bring these traitors to justice. A party that can turn a blind eye to pedophilia is a party openly tolerating a psycho traitor whose loyalty lies elsewhere.

    They have given him a pass on just about everything. Time to put a stop to it now.

    • Mary Luke says:

      The something deeper may be Flynn. If Flynn was involved in attempting a kidnapping for pay that is just about the lowest form of life and if Trump knew anything that’s the whole ball of wax on his presidency to say nothing of criminal charges. I don’t believe Trump is capable of feeling embarrassed by any salacious material in that dossier. It’s got to be something much much bigger and more nefarious.

  8. bostonboomer says:

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    • NW Luna says:

      And nobody said anything, the women because of fear they wouldn’t be believed, and most of the men because of the “boys will be boys” bullshit.

  9. NW Luna says:

  10. NW Luna says:

    FBI database for gun buyers missing millions of records

    The FBI’s background-check system is missing millions of records of criminal convictions, mental illness diagnoses and other flags that would keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands, a gap that contributed to the shooting deaths of 26 people in a Texas church this week.

    Experts who study the data say government agencies responsible for maintaining such records have long failed to forward them into federal databases used for gun background checks — systemic breakdowns that have lingered for decades as officials decided they were too costly and time-consuming to fix.

    According to FBI records, at the end of last year the Pentagon had exactly one active record for a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction in one of the FBI’s main gun background-check databases, though there are two other large databases in which such records could be gathered and for which data was not available. By contrast, the database held nearly 11,000 dishonorable discharge records.

  11. bostonboomer says:

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  12. NW Luna says:

    This looks really cool!