Posted: July 24, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: just because, morning reads | Tags: anti-maskers, Donald Trump, Olympics, Paul Manafort, Tom Barrack, United Arab Emirates, vaccine holdouts |
Arsen Kurbanov, Russian artist
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the case against Trump ally Tom Barrack, who was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an agent of a foreign power. Politico:
Tom Barrack, a longtime supporter of and adviser to former President Donald Trump, was arrested Tuesday on charges he secretly acted in the U.S. as an agent for the United Arab Emirates.
Barrack, 74, is accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and four counts of making false statements to the FBI.
A federal indictment issued by a grand jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., charged that Barrack put pro-UAE language into a Trump campaign speech in May 2016, took direction from UAE officials about what to say in media appearances and an op-ed piece he published just before the 2016 election, and agreed to promote a candidate for ambassador to UAE backed by UAE officials.
Prosecutors say Barrack used his insider access to White House officials that he gained through roles like his position as chair of Trump’s inaugural committee to give the UAE “non-public information about the views and reactions of senior U.S. government officials following a White House meeting between senior U.S. officials and senior UAE officials.”
Also charged in the case were an aide to Barrack at his investment firm Colony Capital, Matthew Grimes, and a businessman from UAE, Rashid Al-Malik.
Prosecutors allege that early in the Trump administration, Barrack sought to be appointed to a high-profile role in Middle East policy, while telling his allies in UAE that such an appointment would be good for them.
“In his communications with Al Malik, the defendant framed his efforts to obtain an official position within the Administration as one that would enable him to further advance the interests of the UAE, rather than the interests of the United States,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Carel Willink, Wilma with a cat, 1940
Barrack has now been released on a massive bail and will have to wear a gps monitoring bracelet. CNN: Trump ally Tom Barrack strikes a $250 million bail deal to get out of jail.
Also see these Emptywheel pieces: Paul Manafort Shared Trump Energy Speech with Tom Barrack and Paul Manafort Knew Tom Barrack Was Working with “Our Friends”
Columnist Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: A Foreign Agent in Trump’s Inner Circle?
…[W]hen the billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s biggest fund-raisers, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates along with other felonies, it might have seemed like a dog-bites-man story. Barrack was once described by longtime Trump strategist Roger Stone — a felon, naturally — as the ex-president’s best friend. If you knew nothing else about Barrack but that, you might have guessed he’d end up in handcuffs.
Nevertheless, Barrack’s arrest is important. Trump’s dealings with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia deserve to be investigated as thoroughly as his administration’s relationship with Russia. So far, that hasn’t happened. When Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, testified before Congress, Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said to him, “We did not bother to ask whether financial inducements from any Gulf nations were influencing U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we must find out.” But we have not found out.
A Barrack trial, if the case goes that far, is unlikely to answer all the outstanding questions about how Gulf money shaped Trump policy. But it could answer some.
Portrait of Edward Gorey by Sam Kalda
Let’s recall that Russia was not the only nation to send emissaries to Trump Tower during the presidential campaign offering election help. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian election interference discusses an August 2016 Trump Tower meeting whose attendees included Donald Trump Jr., George Nader, then an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the Emirates’ de facto ruler, and Joel Zamel, owner of an Israeli private intelligence company, Psy-Group. (Nader is currently in prison for child sex trafficking and possession of child pornography.)
“Zamel asked Trump Jr. whether Psy-Group’s conducting a social media campaign paid for by Nader would present a conflict for the Trump campaign,” said the Senate report. “According to Zamel, Trump Jr. indicated that this would not present a conflict.”
Zamel told the committee that his company never actually performed such work. “Nonetheless, as described below, Zamel engaged in work on behalf of Nader, for which he was paid in excess of $1 million,” said the report. Zamel claimed the payment was for a postelection social media analysis, all copies of which were ostensibly deleted.
If the allegations in the Barrack indictment are true, it means that while an adviser to the Emirates was offering the Trump campaign election help, an Emirati agent was also shaping Trump’s foreign policy, even inserting the country’s preferred language into one of the candidate’s speeches. Prosecutors say that Barrack told a high-level figure they call “Emirati Official 2” that he had staffed the Trump campaign. (It was Barrack who recommended Paul Manafort, later to be convicted of multiple felonies, to Trump.) When an Emirati official asked Barrack if he had information about senior Trump appointees, Barrack allegedly replied, “I do” and said they should talk by phone. He is said to have traveled to the Emirates to strategize with its leadership about what they wanted from the administration during its first 100 days, first six months, first year and first term.
Read more at the NYT.
Yesterday Dakinikat focused on the latest pandemic news as well as the growing anger against the idiots who are refusing to be vaccinated. I want to follow up on a some of the stories she posted. First, in the comment thread, she posted a horrifying story about an anti-mask demonstration at a cancer clinic.
Here’s more on that from Vice News: Breast Cancer Patient Attacked by Violent Anti-Mask Protest Outside Clinic.
A breast cancer patient says she was sprayed with bear mace, physically assaulted, and verbally abused outside a cancer treatment center in West Hollywood, Los Angeles by far-right activists who were angry over the clinic’s mandatory mask policy.
Andrea Kowch, Queen’s Court, 2019
Dozens of anti-maskers holding signs with anti-vaxx and QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories amassed on the sidewalk by the Cedars-Sinai Breast Health Services building on Thursday afternoon, and harassed patients and doctors.
In one exchange captured by local videographer Vishal Singh, a woman who has since publicly identified herself as Kate Burns, a cancer patient, approached the protesters and told them to leave.
“I get treated here, get the fuck away,” Burns said.
One protester, who was filming the scene on his phone, asked her why she was so angry, as a man holding a cardboard sign saying “End the Censorship of Vaccine Risks” smirked.
“Because I’ve just gone through fucking breast cancer,” Burns said. “And you motherfuckers are here.”
After a few more exchanges, the a “protester” actually punched Burns in the chest.
Tensions continued to rise as more far-right, anti-maskers arrived on the scene. A small group of anti-fascists also arrived, and got into altercations with the far-right. A woman holding a megaphone shoved Burns, and then punched her several times. Burns said, on social media, that the woman hit her in the chest and struck her scars….
Thursday was the second time that anti-maskers had targeted that particular breast cancer clinic over its mask policy. The ugly scenes and casual political violence that unfolded there on both occasions have become troublingly common across the U.S.
Can someone explain to me why unvaccinated athletes are being permitted to compete in the Olympic games? NBC News: About 100 U.S. athletes in Tokyo unvaccinated as Covid-hit Olympics begin.
Five out of 6 U.S. athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympics have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the team’s top doctor revealed Friday just before the Games officially begin.
That information was culled from the health histories that 567 of the athletes filled out before they departed for Japan, said Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, who estimated that 83 percent of those competitors were fully vaccinated.
“Eighty-three percent is actually a substantial number, and we’re quite happy with it,” Finnoff, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s medical chief, said.
That’s higher than the national rate, with about 56 percent of Americans having received at least one dose of a vaccine. But it still means that about 100 of the total contingent of 613 U.S. athletes have not yet been vaccinated.
The news came as the opening ceremony of the pandemic-hit Games got underway in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, marking the official launch of the global sporting event.
But why aren’t they all vaccinated? This makes no sense to me. We really need to stop coddling these holdouts. They are putting themselves and everyone else in danger.
Chelin Sanjuan Piquero, Spanish artist
Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager at The Washington Post: ‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts.
Seven months after the first coronavirus shots were rolled out, vaccinated Americans — including government, business and health leaders — are growing frustrated that tens of millions of people are still refusing to get them, endangering themselves and their communities and fueling the virus’s spread.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Thursday lashed out amid a surge of cases in her state, telling a reporter it’s “time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks.” The National Football League this week imposed new rules that put pressure on unvaccinated players, warning their teams could face fines or be forced to forfeit games if those players were linked to outbreaks.
“I think for a lot of leaders, both in government and in business, patience has worn thin,” said Matt Gorman, a Republican strategist. “There is an urgency that might not have been there a month ago.”
Meanwhile, exhausted health providers say they are bracing for casespikes that are largely preventable, driven by the hyper-transmissible delta variant. “We are frustrated, tired and worried for this next surge — and saddened by the state we find ourselves in,” said Jason Yaun, a Memphis-based pediatrician, who said his colleagues are grappling with an “accumulation of fatigue” since the outbreak exploded in March 2020.
Biden administration officials increasingly frame the current outbreak as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” seeking to persuade and perhaps even frighten some holdouts to get the shots.
But after months of careful cajoling, a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are venting about the sheer number of Americans who remain unvaccinated, particularly as hospitals are becoming overwhelmed in states with low vaccination rates.
Read the rest at the WaPo. These people need to grow up!
That’s all I have for you today. What’s on your mind?
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Posted: February 14, 2019 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: abortion, Andrew McCabe, corruption, Donald Trump, ethics, FBI, FinCEN, Fox News, Jamal Kashoggi, James Comey, Jeff Sessions, Maria Ressa, Mary Daly, narcissists, Nazis, obstruction of justice, Paul Manafort, rape, Richard Burr, Richard Nixon, Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, Ryan Adams, Saudi Arabia, Spiro Agnew, Tom Barrack, Tyler McGaughey, Walter Shaub, White House Counsel's office, William Barr |
Les Pivoines 1907 par Henri Matisse
Happy Valentine’s Day, Sky Dancers!!
Andrew McCabe’s book The Threat: on Tuesday, and he will be interviewed on 60 Minutes on Sunday night. This might be one 60 Minutes I decide to watch.
McCabe was deputy director of the FBI under James Comey and he became acting director after Trump fired Comey. Trump attacked McCabe repeatedly, and eventually succeeded in driving him out of office. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe one day before he could have retired with his full pension.
Today The Atlantic published an article adapted from McCabe’s book: Every Day Is a New Low in Trump’s White House.
On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, my first full day on the job as acting director of the FBI, I sat down with senior staff involved in the Russia case—the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. As the meeting began, my secretary relayed a message that the White House was calling. The president himself was on the line. I had spoken with him the night before, in the Oval Office, when he told me he had fired James Comey.
Bouquet on a Bamboo Table (1903) Henri Matisse
A call like this was highly unusual. Presidents do not, typically, call FBI directors. There should be no direct contact between the president and the director, except for national-security purposes. The reason is simple. Investigations and prosecutions need to be pursued without a hint of suspicion that someone who wields power has put a thumb on the scale.
The Russia team was in my office. I took the call on an unclassified line. That was another strange thing—the president was calling on a phone that was not secure. The voice on the other end said, It’s Don Trump calling. I said, Hello, Mr. President, how are you? Apart from my surprise that he was calling at all, I was surprised that he referred to himself as “Don.”
The president said, I’m good. You know—boy, it’s incredible, it’s such a great thing, people are really happy about the fact that the director’s gone, and it’s just remarkable what people are saying. Have you seen that? Are you seeing that, too?
He went on: I received hundreds of messages from FBI people—how happy they are that I fired him. There are people saying things on the media, have you seen that? What’s it like there in the building?
McCabe describes the reaction of FBI employees as one of shock and dismay. Trump then said he wanted to come to the FBI and “show all my FBI people how much I love them.” McCabe thought that was a terrible idea, but agreed to meet with Trump about it. Next, Trump:
Flowers and Fruit by Henri Matisse
…began to talk about how upset he was that Comey had flown home on his government plane from Los Angeles—Comey had been giving a speech there when he learned he was fired. The president wanted to know how that had happened.
I told him that bureau lawyers had assured me there was no legal issue with Comey coming home on the plane. I decided that he should do so. The existing threat assessment indicated he was still at risk, so he needed a protection detail. Since the members of the protection detail would all be coming home, it made sense to bring everybody back on the same plane they had used to fly out there. It was coming back anyway. The president flew off the handle: That’s not right! I don’t approve of that! That’s wrong! He reiterated his point five or seven times.
I said, I’m sorry that you disagree, sir. But it was my decision, and that’s how I decided. The president said, I want you to look into that! I thought to myself: What am I going to look into? I just told you I made that decision.
The ranting against Comey spiraled. I waited until he had talked himself out.
After that Trump taunted McCabe about his wife’s losing campaign for the Virginia Senate, asking McCabe, “How did she handle losing? Is it tough to lose?” and later saying “Yeah, that must’ve been really tough. To lose. To be a loser.”
I once had a boss who was a monstrous whack job like Trump. It was crazy-making. The entire department under this man functioned like an alcoholic family with an unpredictable, out-of-control father. You never knew what horrible thing would happen next. It was total chaos, as the White House seems to be. I’m glad McCabe is telling the truth about what he experienced.
Two more articles based on the McCabe book:
CBS News 60 Minutes: McCabe Says He Ordered the Obstruction of Justice Probe of President Trump.
The New York Times: McCabe Says Justice Officials Discussed Recruiting Cabinet Members to Push Trump Out of Office.
Bouquet of Flowers in a White Vase, 1909, by Henri Matisse
I expect Trump will be ranting about McCabe on Twitter and in the Oval Office, but he can’t do anything to shut McCabe up anymore.
Soon we’ll have a new U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, and already the corruption surrounding him has a very bad odor. CNN reports that Barr’s daughter and son-in-law are leaving the Justice Department for new jobs at FinCEN and the White House Counsel’s office respectively.
Mary Daly, Barr’s oldest daughter and the director of Opioid Enforcement and Prevention Efforts in the deputy attorney general’s office, is leaving for a position at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit, a Justice official said.
Tyler McGaughey, the husband of Barr’s youngest daughter, has been detailed from the powerful US attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, to the White House counsel’s office, two officials said.
It’s not clear if McGaughey’s switch is a result of Barr’s pending new role, and the kind of work he’ll be handling at the White House is not public knowledge.
Daly’s husband will remain in his position in the Justice Department’s National Security Division for now.
Henri Matisse: Les Anemones
The moves were by choice and are not required under federal nepotism laws, but Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, called them “a good idea” to “avoid the bad optics that could come from the appearance of them working for him.”
However, Shaub added that McGaughey’s detail to the White House counsel’s office was “concerning.”
“That’s troubling because it raises further questions about Barr’s independence,” Shaub said.
Read more at the CNN link.
If you listened to Rachel Maddow’s podcast about Spiro Agnew (or even if you didn’t) you should read this op-ed at The Washington Post by three attorneys who were involved in that corruption case: We should demand high standards from William Barr. Spiro Agnew’s case shows why, by Barnet D. Skolnik, Russell T. Baker Jr., and Ronald S. Liebman.
In the winter of 1973, 46 years ago, the three of us were assistant U.S. attorneys in Baltimore starting a federal grand jury investigation of a corrupt Democratic county chief executive in Maryland. That investigation ultimately led to the prosecution of his corrupt Republican predecessor — the man who went on to become the state’s governor and then President Richard M. Nixon’s vice president, Spiro T. Agnew.
On Oct. 10, 1973, Agnew entered a plea to a criminal tax felony for failure to report the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’d received in bribes and kickbacks as county executive, governor and even vice president. All paid in cash, $100 bills delivered in white envelopes.
And he resigned.
Henri Matisse. Vase of Irises. 1912
From the beginning of our investigation, months before we had seen any indication that he had taken kickbacks, Agnew, along with top White House and administration officials and even Nixon himself, repeatedly tried to impede, obstruct and terminate the investigation in nefarious ways. Some of those efforts were unknown to us then and have come to light only now thanks to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and her “Bagman” podcast.
When newspapers began to report that he was under criminal investigation in the summer of 1973, Agnew aroused his base by screaming “witch hunt” and launching a vicious assault on the “lying” press, the “partisan” Justice Department, and the “biased” and “liberal Democrat” prosecutors in Baltimore.
If Agnew and Nixon had succeeded in derailing our investigation, the most corrupt man ever to sit a heartbeat away might have become the president of our country when Nixon was forced to resign less than a year later. But our investigation was protected — first, by our staunch and courageous boss, the late George Beall, the U.S. attorney for Maryland and a prominent Maryland Republican, and second, by the man who had become the new U.S. attorney general that spring, Elliot L. Richardson.
The authors then go on to explain why Barr should not be confirmed unless he commits to releasing Robert Mueller’s findings to the public. Read the whole thing at the WaPo.
There is so much more news! Here are some links to check out:
Flowers by Henri Matisse
Just Security: Who is Richard Burr, Really? Why the public can’t trust his voice in the Russia probe. (This is an incredibly important story. Corruption is all around us.)
NBC News: ‘Whistleblower’ seeks protection after sounding alarm over White House security clearances.
Politico: Judge rules Manafort lied to Mueller about contacts with Russian.
The New York Times: House Votes to Halt Aid for Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen.
Gulf News: Trump backer Tom Barrack defends Saudi Arabia.
The Washington Post: Trump confidant Thomas Barrack apologizes for saying U.S. has committed ‘equal or worse’ atrocities to killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The New York Times: Maria Ressa, Philippine Journalist Critical of Rodrigo Duterte, Is Released After Arrest.
HuffPost: I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter. (Trigger warning for rape description)
Vice: Being Raised by Two Narcissists Taught Me How to Deal with Trump.
The New York Times: Ryan Adams Dangled Success. Women Say They Paid a Price.
Contemptor: Fox News Rejects Commercial for Documentary that Says Nazis are Bad.
So . . . what stories have you been following?
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