Lazy Saturday Reads: Happy Caturday!

Paul Klee: Cat and Bird, 1920

Good Morning!!

I’m not watching the McCain funeral, but on Twitter I see that Meghan McCain took it to Trump, and the audience loved it. Except for Jared and Ivanka, who should have stayed home.

Meanwhile Trump sent out a bunch of ugly tweets and then left the White House in golf attire.

I had heard he was going to Camp David, but I guess not.

Yesterday, Dakinikat wrote about the Washington Post/ABC poll that showed Trump’s disapproval rating at 60 percent. Today another poll replicates those findings. Investor’s Business Daily: Trump’s Approval Number Nose-Dives, Dems’ Blue Wave Might Be Building: IBD/TIPP Poll.

Just 36% say they approve of the job President Trump is doing, a 5-point drop from last month, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll. Fifty six percent disapprove of Trump’s job performance, up from 53% the month before.

The drop in Trump’s approval rating comes after a spate of bad news, including the conviction of his former campaign chairman on eight counts of fraud and a guilty plea on campaign finance charges by Trump’s former lawyer, which sparked a torrent of impeachment talk. Trump also caught flak for his handling of Sen. John McCain’s passing….

Arthur Rackham: By Day She Made Herself into a Cat

The broader IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index plunged 11.6% to 40.4. That’s one of the biggest monthly drops since IBD started tracking this index in January 2000. The proprietary Leadership Index combines results from several questions on approval, favorability and strength of leadership….

Trump lost significant ground on job approval with Republicans this month, which fell from 83% last month to 76% this month. Among independents, Trump’s approval dropped 4 points to 33%. Democratic approval has never been above the low single digits.

He also saw a big drop in support from men (it went from 49% last month to 40% today). His backing among women, however, barely changed. It’s currently 32%….

His support among rural dwellers plunged 15 points — going from 60% to 45%. It fell 7 points among suburban voters to 35%.

Yesterday, George Papadopoulos submitted his sentencing memo to the DC district court, and it contained some interesting information about Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions. CNN reports:

Convicted former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has publicly contradicted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ sworn testimony to Congress, saying both Sessions and Donald Trump apparently supported his proposal that Trump meet with Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign, according to a court filing late Friday night.

“While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it. George’s giddiness over Mr. Trump’s recognition was prominent during the days that followed,” Papadopoulos’ lawyers wrote in a court filing Friday. Papadopoulos’ legal team said that he has shared with special counsel Robert Mueller his recollections of the March 31, 2016, meeting.

Cat Devouring a Bird, Pablo Picasso

Sessions, when asked about that meeting under oath, said that he “pushed back” on the idea of the Putin summit. CNN previously reported that Trump “heard him out,” according to another adviser in the room, when Papadopoulos proposed the idea and offered to help execute it.

Another lie by Sessions to Congress. And yesterday we found out that Mueller is pursuing such offenses. Emptywheel: Among Other Things, Sam Patten Plea Signals That Mueller Referrals Will Include False Congressional Testimony. (Dakinikat wrote about Patten yesterday also.)

…another sleazy influence peddler, Sam Patten, just pled guilty to a FARA violation. As his criminal information lays out, he pled to serving as an agent of Konstantin Kilimnik and Serhiy Lyovochkin without registering under FARA. His plea agreement (which notes he first made a proffer to Mueller’s team on May 22, meaning this is another investigation that has been going on months that is being finalized in the last days of August) included a cooperation agreement.

More interesting details, however, are the descriptions of the other crimes he is being excused from, which appear in the statement of the offense.

Gertrude Abercrombie: The Stroll

There has been plenty of discussion of Patten’s funneling of foreign money into Trump’s inauguration funds. Quoted in the post:

To circumvent the foreign donation restriction, PATTEN, with the knowledge of Foreigner A, solicited a United States citizen to act as a “straw” purchaser so that he could conceal from the [Presidential Inauguration Committee] that the tickets for the inauguration were being paid for from a foreign source. The straw purchaser paid $50,000 for four inauguration tickets. The straw purchaser paid that sum one day after receiving from [Begemot Ventures] a check signed by PATTEN in the sum of $50,000. In turn, [Lyovochkin] had paid [Begemot] for the tickets though a Cypriot account. [Kilimnik and Lyovochkin] another Ukrainian, and PATTEN were allocated the four inauguration tickets. Thereafter, PATTEN attended a PIC even in Washington, D.C. with Foreigner B.

[….]

Less sexy, but procedurally more important, is the revelation that Patten also lied to SSCI.

In or about January 2018, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) sought PATTEN’s voluntary testimony on various topics. In advance of that testimony, the SSCI sought various pertinent documents from PATTEN.

Marc Chagall: Man at Table, 1911

In or about January 2018, PATTEN testified before the SSCI. Both before and during his testimony, PATTEN misled the SSCI in that he intentionally did not provide SSCI certain documents that could lead to revelation of him causing and concealing the foreign purchase of the PIC tickets, described about, and gave false and misleading testimony to avoid disclosing that he had caused and concealed foreign money to be paid to the PIC. In addition, PATTEN provided misleading testimony about his representation of foreign principals in the United States, so as to conceal his violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Finally, after the interview, PATTEN deleted documents pertinent to his relationships with the above-described foreign principals.

As noted, this is one of the additional crimes that Patten will avoid being charged for by pleading to the FARA charge. Reportedly, SSCI made its own criminal referral, based off different comments.

So anyone who lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee could be in Mueller’s crosshairs, including Don Jr.

The brilliant Natasha Bertrand wrote about Sam Patten way back in April: A Suspected Russian Spy, With Curious Ties to Washington.

A longtime Republican operative with ties to the controversial data firm hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign team also has a nearly two-decade-long friendship and business relationship with a suspected Russian intelligence agent, Konstantin Kilimnik, who has landed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs.

The Washington-based operative, Sam Patten, would not tell me whether he has been interviewed by Mueller’s team as part of their investigation into Russia’s election interference and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. But Patten said that his relationship with Kilimnik—a former officer in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) who worked closely with Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, for over a decade—has “been thoroughly explored by relevant government entities.”

Patten’s long friendship with Kilimnik—which stems from their time working together at the International Republican Institute in Moscow between 2001 and 2003—would likely be enough to draw scrutiny from Mueller, who appears to have homed in on Kilimnik as a potentially significant link between the Trump campaign and Russia. The special counsel’s office alleged in a court filing late last month that Kilimnik still had ties to Russian intelligence services in 2016, and that his conversations with Gates in September of that year are relevant to the investigation. Manafort and Gates’s arrival to the campaign team coincided with the most pivotal Russia-related episode of the election: the release of emails that had been stolen from the Democratic National Committee by hackers working for the GRU, Russia’s premier military-intelligence unit.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

Dakinikat also wrote yesterday about Trump’s latest DOJ nemesis Bruce Ohr. Here’s a piece about him by Craig Unger: Understanding Trump vs. Bruce Ohr: Think Russia’s top crime boss, Semion Mogilevich.

Geoffrey Ellis: Jumping Cat, 2013

It has been noted that Ohr had ties to the notorious Christopher Steele dossier and that his wife worked for Fusion GPS, which hired Steele, a former British agent, to investigate Trump. But there is quite likely another reason which could trouble Trump even more: Ohr’s job in the Justice Department involved facing off against Russian crime boss Semion Mogilevich whose operatives have been using Trump branded properties to launder millions of dollars for more than three decades. If the FBI’s investigations turn toward Trump’s ties to Russian organized crime, which is entirely foreseeable, the president may be interested in trying to delegitimize those efforts as he has attempted with other aspects of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. What the public should also understand is how Mogilevich has served as an agent for Vladimir Putin’s efforts in the United States and abroad.

If one tracks Trump’s ties to Russia, the name Mogilevich pops up more than any single name, beginning in 1984 when alleged Mogilevich operative David Bogatin bought five condos in Trump Tower for $6 million in cash. Over the years, no fewer than 1,300 Trump-branded condos were sold in all cash purchases to anonymous shell companies—the two criteria that set off alarm bells among anti-money laundering authorities.

If one tracks Trump’s ties to Russia, the name Mogilevich pops up more than any single name, beginning in 1984 when alleged Mogilevich operative David Bogatin bought five condos in Trump Tower for $6 million in cash. Over the years, no fewer than 1,300 Trump-branded condos were sold in all cash purchases to anonymous shell companies—the two criteria that set off alarm bells among anti-money laundering authorities.

Read the rest at Just Security. I’ve been reading Unger’s book House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia for the past couple of days. It’s really interesting.

Once again, Natashe Bertrand is on point. She posted this story a couple of days ago: Trump’s Top Targets in the Russia Probe Are Experts in Organized Crime.

Norbertine Bresslern-Roth: Two Cats linocut print

Bruce Ohr. Lisa Page. Andrew Weissmann. Andrew McCabe. President Donald Trump has relentlessly attacked these FBI and Justice Department officials as dishonest “Democrats” engaged in a partisan “witch hunt” led by the special counsel determined to tie his campaign to Russia. But Trump’s attacks have also served to highlight another thread among these officials and others who have investigated his campaign: their extensive experience in probing money laundering and organized crime, particularly as they pertain to Russia….

Trump’s latest obsession is with Bruce Ohr, a career Justice Department official who spent years investigating Russian organized crime and corruption—an expertise he shared with another Trump target named Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence operative who provided valuable intelligence on Russia to the State Department and the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force prior to authoring the Trump-Russia dossier in 2016. Ohr and Steele met in 2007, according to The New York Times, and stayed in touch as a result of their shared interests and mutual respect. Trump has tweeted about Ohr nearly a dozen times this month alone, complaining about his relationship with Steele and Ohr’s wife’s past work for Fusion GPS—the opposition-research firm that hired Steele in 2016 to research Trump’s Russia ties.

“How the hell is Bruce Ohr still employed at the Justice Department?” Trump wrote on Thursday. “Disgraceful! Witch Hunt!”

Trump’s fixation with seeing Ohr ousted from the Justice Department could be perceived as yet another attempt to undermine the credibility of the people who have investigated him. It could also be interpreted as an attack on someone with deep knowledge of the shady characters Trump and his cohort have been linked to, including Semion Mogilevich, the Russian mob boss, and Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate close to Putin who did business with Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Incidentally, another Manafort associate, the Ukrainian billionaire Dmitry Firtash, admitted that he only managed to be in business because Mogilevich allowed him to be, according to a leaked 2008 State Department cable.)

Read the whole thing at The Atlantic.

Those are my recommended reads for today. What stories are you following?


12 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Happy Caturday!”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    I can say this that Trump will never have a tribute like the outpouring of admiration shown to John McCain.

    No buildings, street namings, agencies will ever bear his awful name when he leaves this world.

    He will be swept aside in the annals of history for being the worst president who ever served in that office.

    Trump does not share one human quality other then greed.

    • Enheduanna says:

      They’ve even removed his name from at least one of his own buildings, right? When we finally get him out of office his ability to grift will be sharply curtailed I hope. Why anyone wants to go near him I’ll never understand – he’s ruined everyone who’s come close to him so far.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      McCain’s funeral is an orgy of Trump criticism without anyone actually naming him. He must feel really isolated this weekend.

      • NW Luna says:

        His golf game must be shot this weekend. Oh, that’s right — anyone he plays with probably has to let him win.

        Actually, I wonder how his staff are keeping his tweets under control.

  3. Enheduanna says:

    Love the cats BB. I have a little pastel torti short-hair similar to Ellis’ jumping kitty.

    Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!

  4. dakinikat says:

    Love the cat art! Some of them are so arresting dark!

    Things sure are getting interesting! It would be wild if sessions were fired them turned state’s evidence! Deeper and deeper in to the Russian swamp!!

    I saw pix of protesters lining Trump’ s escape route! Lots of small baby Trump balloons

  5. NW Luna says:

    Trump threatens to leave Canada behind on NAFTA, warns Congress not to ‘interfere’

    Orange Caligula tells other branch of government to obey him. This time not all the Rs may do his bidding.

  6. NW Luna says:

    So anyone who lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee could be in Mueller’s crosshairs, including Don Jr.

    Delicious.

  7. NW Luna says:

    The Rackham cat is my favorite; I’ve always liked his style.

  8. NW Luna says: