Friday Reads: The Walls Close In on the Trump Family Crime Syndicate

The Sandy Beach at Olonne by Albert’ Marquet – circa 1938.

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s the usual Frantic Friday News Day.  A new WAPO/ABC Poll shows exactly how unpopular KKKremlin Caligula has become and shows wide spread support for both the oldest Living Confederate Widow at the DOJ and the Russia Inquiry.  I bet the Twitler storm will be epic over the weekend if they don’t keep him on the golf course.

President Trump’s disapproval rating has hit a high point of 60 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds that clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say the president should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

At the dawn of the fall campaign sprint to the midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retake control of Congress, the poll finds a majority of the public has turned against Trump and is on guard against his efforts to influence the Justice Department and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s wide-ranging probe.

Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to Trump being removed from office, while 46 percent say Congress should not

And a narrow majority — 53 percent — say they think Trump has tried to interfere with Mueller’s investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice; 35 percent say they do not think the president has tried to interfere.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance, with 36 percent approving, according to the poll. Because of random sampling variation, this represents only a marginal shift from the last Post-ABC survey, in April, which measured Trump’s rating at 56 percent disapproval and 40 percent approval.

I wonder how his base feels about his snobby comments about Sessions. Jonathan Chait provides this analysis.

Trump has touted the mindless loyalty of his base, and when he marveled that he would not lose any support if he shot somebody on Fifth Avenue, he was not complimenting the discernment of his supporters. He has tried to turn that into a positive — “I love the poorly educated!” — but the association with low socioeconomic strata has grated on him. Trump is the ultimate snob. He has no sense that working-class people may have equal latent talent that they have been denied the chance to develop. He considers wealthy and successful people a genetic aristocracy, frequently attributing his own success to good genes.

Attempting to explain his penchant for appointing plutocrats to his Cabinet, Trump has said, “I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?” It makes sense if you assume a person’s wealth perfectly reflects their innate intelligence. Trump has repeatedly boasted about his Ivy League pedigree and that of his relatives, which he believes reflects well on his own genetic stock. He has fixated on the Ivy League pedigree of his Supreme Court appointments, even rejecting the credentials of the lower Ivys as too proletarian.

Trump has built a brand on attracting working-class strivers. But the relationship he cultivates is unidirectional admiration. Trump gives his supporters a lifestyle they can enjoy vicariously. He views them as suckers. The Trump University scam was premised directly on exploiting the misplaced trust of his fan base. The internal guidance for salespeople trying to drain the savings accounts of their targets explained, “Don’t ask people what they think about something you’ve said. Instead, always ask them how they feel about it. People buy emotionally and justify it logically.”

isis is now making a comeback. The frequency of the group’s attacks is up, and so, apparently, are its numbers. It excels, once again, at crafting small explosive devices, and weaponizing drones. And its sophisticated media outreach is recovering, according to a new U.N. report. The elusive isis emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whom Russia claimed to have killed in a May, 2017, air strike, reëmerged this month with an hour-long broadcast, his first in a year. He acknowledged that his followers had been tested with “fear and hunger.”

The United States had boasted of its “so-called victory in expelling the state from the cities and countryside in Iraq and Syria,” Baghdadi, who was held by U.S. forces in Iraq for several months in 2004, said. He urged a different metric. “The land of Allah is wide and the tides of war change,” he said. “For the believer mujahideen, the scale of victory or defeat is not tied to a city or town being stolen or subject to those who have aerial superiority, or intercontinental missiles or smart bombs.” He referred to the revival of an earlier version of isisafter it was decimated by U.S. troops in Iraq during the surge of 2007. At the time, the jihadi group was down to only a thousand fighters. isis subsequently mobilized more than sixty thousand fighters from more than a hundred countries to its cause. Baghdadi vowed that those who “patiently persevere” would again have “glad tidings.”

isis may already have numbers sufficient to rebuild. Two stunning reports this month—by the United Nations and Trump’s own Defense Department—both contradict earlier U.S. claims that most isis fighters had been eliminated. The Sunni jihadi movement still has between twenty thousand and thirty thousand members on the loose in Iraq and Syria, including “thousands of active foreign terrorist fighters,” the U.N. said, despite the fall of its nominal capital, Raqqa, last October. The Pentagon report is more alarming: isis has fourteen thousand fighters—not just members—in Syria, with up to seventeen thousand in Iraq. More important, isis has successfully morphed from a proto-state into a “covert global network, with a weakened yet enduring core” in Iraq and Syria, with regional affiliates in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, the U.N. reports. It can “easily” obtain arms in areas with weak governance; it is now a threat to U.N. member states on five continents.

Children Playing on the Beach Mary Cassatt 1884

A breaking story on DOJ Attorney Bruce Ohr is possibly what has made Trump so angry the last few days.

A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.

The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said.

The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.

They add to the public understanding of those pivotal summer months as the FBI and intelligence community scrambled to untangle possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. And they reflect the concern of Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose Democratic-funded research into Trump ties to Russia was compiled into a dossier, that the Republican presidential candidate was possibly compromised and his urgent efforts to convey that anxiety to contacts at the FBI and Justice Department.

The people who discussed Ohr’s interview were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the closed session and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Among the things Ohr said he learned from Steele during the breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had said that Russian intelligence believed “they had Trump over a barrel,” according to people familiar with the meeting. It was not clear from Ohr’s interview whether Steele had been directly told that or had picked that up through his contacts, but the broader sentiment is echoed in Steele’s research dossier.

Steele and Ohr, at the time of the election a senior official in the deputy attorney general’s office, had first met a decade earlier and bonded over a shared interest in international organized crime. They met several times during the presidential campaign, a

Tahitian Women on the beach Paul Gauguin

relationship that exposed both men and federal law enforcement more generally to partisan criticism, including from Trump.

There’s also a new indictment of a Manafort crony with connections to Cambridge Analytica.  This is another FARA violation charge.  This may be connected to the upcoming DC trial for Manafort.

A former associate of Paul Manafort agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors after pleading guilty to failing to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.

The lobbyist, Sam Patten, is a longtime international political operative who’s partnered with a Russian already indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. He appeared in federal court in Washington Friday.

Mueller’s office referred the case to U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu in the District of Columbia, according William Miller, a spokesman for Liu, who declined to comment further on a pending case.

Patten has worked with Manafort and on Ukrainian campaigns, as well as in countries including Russia, Georgia, Iraq and Kazakhstan. He served in the State Department under George W. Bush, and reportedly worked on microtargeting operations with Cambridge Analytica.

From 2014, Patten provided a “prominent” Ukrainian oligarch who isn’t named in court papers and his Opposition Bloc political party with lobbying and consulting services, according to the criminal information. A company Patten co-owned with a Russian national received more than $1 million for the work, the U.S. said.

As part of his lobbying work, he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not disclosing the work to the U.S., prosecutors said. No date has been set for his sentencing.

He headed the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute in the early 2000s. A Russian IRI employee in those years, Konstantin Kilimnik, went on to work as a fixer for Manafort in Ukraine and is a business partner with Patten. Kilimnik has been indicted in absentia alongside Manafort on obstruction of justice charges the former Trump campaign chairman faces in Washington next month.

Beach Scene Edgar Degas

Trump continues his war on Canada as the Toronto Star uncovered some Trumpertantrums regarding the so-called NAFTA rework. Trump’s interview with Bloomberg News has turned into a verbal bombing campaign.

High-stakes trade negotiations between Canada and the U.S. were dramatically upended on Friday morning by inflammatory secret remarks from President Donald Trump, after the remarks were obtained by the Toronto Star.

In remarks Trump wanted to be “off the record,” Trump told Bloomberg News reporters on Thursday, according to a source, that he is not making any compromises at all in the talks with Canada — but that he cannot say this publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”

“Here’s the problem. If I say no — the answer’s no. If I say no, then you’re going to put that, and it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal … I can’t kill these people,” he said of the Canadian government.

In another remark he did not want published, Trump said, according to the source, that the possible deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He suggested he was scaring the Canadians into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs.

“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said, according to the source. The Impala is produced at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario.

Trump made the remarks in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg. He deemed them off the record, and Bloomberg accepted his request not to reveal them.

But the Star is not bound by any promises Bloomberg made to Trump. And the remarks immediately became a factor in the negotiations: Trudeau’s officials, who saw them as evidence for their previous suspicions that Trump’s team had not been bargaining in good faith, raised them at the beginning of a meeting with their U.S. counterparts on Friday morning, a U.S. source confirmed.

The Star was not able to independently confirm the remarks with 100 per cent certainty, but the Canadian government is confident they are accurate. Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, who was one of the journalists in the room, did not dispute their authenticity.

Two Women Running on the Beach Pablo Picasso

Trump has removed cost of living raises for Federal Employees.  What a small minded little manchild.

President Donald Trump told lawmakers on Thursday he wants to scrap a pay raise for civilian federal workers, saying the nation’s budget couldn’t support it.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Trump described the pay increase as “inappropriate.”
“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” the President wrote.

An across-the-board 2.1% pay increase for federal workers was slated to take effect in January. In addition, a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where a worker is posted — the “locality pay increase” — was due to take effect.
Trump said both increases should no longer happen.

“I have determined that for 2019, both across the board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero,” he wrote.

Congress has an opportunity to effectively overrule the President’s edict if lawmakers pass a spending bill that includes a federal pay raise. The Senate passed a bill this summer that included a 1.9% raise for federal workers. The House’s version did not address federal pay. Senate and House negotiators will negotiate a final measure in the coming weeks.

Trump’s 2019 budget proposal, released earlier this year, included a pay freeze for civilian federal workers. It’s not clear if Trump would approve a budget that includes the pay increase; the White House has not issued a formal veto threat of the Senate’s bill.

Boats on the Bieach of Saiint Marie, Vincent Van Gogh 1888

The nation is mourning Aretha Franklin and John McCain today. WAPO wrote an article on McCain’s 106 year old mother who attended the service today.  I wanted to share some of it with you.

She was sitting in a wheelchair as they carried her son’s casket into the Capitol Rotunda Friday.

Roberta McCain, 106, held granddaughter Meghan McCain’s hand and lifted a handkerchief to dab her eyes. Wearing lipstick, pink blush and a polka dot white blouse, she sat silently as congressional leaders and Vice President Mike Pence lauded Sen. John McCain, who died last week at age 81.

When the tributes were over, Roberta was the last member of the family to touch his flag-draped casket. She crossed herself afterward.

Many obituaries have been quick to mention the McCain family’s prestigious lineage within the American military. The senator’s father and grandfather — both of whom shared his name — were the first father and son in Navy history to become full admirals.

But often overlooked is the influence McCain’s mother had on his upbringing and political life. Now, Roberta has outlived the child she still calls “Johnny,” whose death she faced once before when he was shot down over Vietnam and presumed lost.

Roberta, who lives in Washington, spent years crisscrossing the globe, often alongside her identical twin sister, Rowena, eager for whatever spontaneous adventure came next. She has ridden through the Jordanian desert in the dark of night, hopped a ferry to Macau and trekked through Europe on less than $5 per day.

Roberta and Rowena were born in 1912 when William Howard Taft was president. They grew up traveling the country with their father, a successful oil wildcatter who retired young to raise his children. The family would travel for weeks, sometimes along the California coast or by the banks of the Great Lakes.

Those trips would later serve as the blueprints for what Sen. McCain described as his mother’s “mobile classroom” — one that could show her children the world’s wonders in ways a four-walled classroom could not.

“My mother grew to be an extroverted and irrepressible woman,” Sen. McCain wrote in his memoir, “Faith of My Fathers.”

I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend.  I’ll be dreaming about the days when I use to spend it on a beach.


35 Comments on “Friday Reads: The Walls Close In on the Trump Family Crime Syndicate”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. NW Luna says:

    I never knew that background about McCain’s mother. Fascinating.

    Unfortunately the article has to talk about her makeup and blouse before her life story.

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

    I love the Picasso painting!!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    I don’t buy Jonathan Chait’s analysis. Trump voters weren’t poor people. What characterizes them is racism. But the media just can’t deal with that apparently.

    • NW Luna says:

      No matter how many times it’s shown, with data, that voters concerned with economic issues voted for HRC, most media ignore that and blather on about the poor white working class’s Trumpism.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      There must be more whose affiliations haven’t been publicized. At least one has been rooted out.

    • quixote says:

      Antisemitism disguised as anti-zionism or something is one thing, because that level of self-delusion is plausible. But how in God’s name can you proudly slap a “judenfrei” word-for-word Nazi label on yourself after the Second World War? How?

      The awful conclusion has to be that they think exterminating people is a good thing.


      These truly are the mole people.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        The romanticizing of the Nazi period is sickening. Many idiots still ponder “if Hitler had only” this or “if Hitler had only” that.

        I have had “friends” whose angle was “if Hitler had only left out the racist stuff”, what they don’t get is that without the “racist stuff” you don’t get the blind loyalty fanatics.

        How else to you get people to act diametrically opposite to their economic and social interests, or to endorse what is otherwise mortal sin territory for them, you convince them that the most important thing is racial loyalty and the undermining of the hated other…

        A so-called billionaire who impregnates an adult magazine model, pays for an abortion and hush money, then gets a wealthy influence peddler friend to take the rap, yeah that represents the working class social conservative base to a tee, doesn’t it?

        In the end it only matters that he will put blacky, browny, upptity bitches and all the rest in their place.

        Twitler, like Hitler before him, is perceived by his lackeys to take a uncompromisingly hard line FOR his own and AGAINST everyone else. It doesn’t matter that his every move is evil, dishonest and patently stupid.

  7. RonStill4Hills says:

    At Aretha’s funeral today Michael Eric Dyson introduced President Clinton and her husband Bill.

    I truly hope that our (Black America’s) special relationship with the Clintons never changes.

    Trump and his lackeys will probably attack and call us racists but it is not about race.

    Bill and Hillary are clearly family and they are by no means the only ones.

    As Bill himself said, “Black like people that like them.”

    Kinda like all “people” huh?

    Trump can’t hide behind anything so generic as disdain for white folks.

    We hate him on his own account.

    • NW Luna says:

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Ron, it did my heart so much good to hear people shout out “We Love You” when Bill started his speech. He grew up poor, he grew up in the South, he grew up smart and he’s always been comfortable around family, black or white.

  8. NW Luna says:

    In reading through the details in the WaPo article, it appears they are focusing on babies born with midwives who sign the birth certificates.

    The use of midwives is a long-standing tradition in the region, in part because of the cost of hospital care.

    Can’t help but think someone up high also doesn’t like midwives. 1) they’re nearly always women. 2) they are seen as competition with OBs.

    • quixote says:

      Don’t you think the main issue is poorer people hire them more often? It’s an easy proxy for income and likely Democrats.

      • NW Luna says:

        Oh, yes, that’s why I put in the “cost of hospital care” quote and that they are competition for OBs (most of whom stop in for a few minutes here and there but still say they “deliver” the baby.)

  9. NW Luna says:

    Dak talked about the Patten case up above. Yep, more money laundering.

    • Jann says:

      I wondered why they raised so much money and then had such small cruddy inauguration dances etc. , and fewer in number than I expected.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Now someone needs to find out what happened to all the money. Mueller is probably doing that.

  10. NW Luna says:

    Hillary’s face shows so much respect and affection for the Queen.