Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgment

Today's story on Trump/Russia misdeeds and the investigations into them takes us to see our good friends Zee Germans, who may be well more involved in Trump's possible Russian money laundering than previously thought.

Democratic lawmakers asked Deutsche Bank AG to hand over its findings on two politically charged matters -- its banking on behalf of now-President Donald Trump and trades from the bank’s Moscow operation that helped move some $10 billion out of Russia. 
Representative Maxine Waters of California and four other Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee asked the Frankfurt-based lender for its internal report about its conduct in the Russian “mirror trading” scandal. They also asked for any internal review of Trump’s business dealings with the bank, descriptions of which have surfaced in news reports. 
The lawmakers asked whether the bank’s loans to Trump, made years before the New York developer ran for president, “were guaranteed by the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia.” A copy of the letter sent to the bank was reviewed by Bloomberg News. 
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the letter. Its shares fell on the news, sliding 1.1 percent to 16.93 euros at 4:39 p.m. in Frankfurt, the fourth-worst performance among 46 European companies in the Stoxx 600 Banks Index. 
As the minority party in Congress, the Democrats don’t have the power to force Deutsche Bank to make any disclosures. It’s not clear whether Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the committee, shares his colleagues’ interest in the matter. Hensarling’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 
The same group of Democrats demanded in March that Hensarling hold a hearing to explore the bank’s conduct in the Russian mirror-trading scandal, as part of an effort to ensure that the Justice Department investigation wasn’t influenced by the lender’s relationship with Trump. No hearing has been scheduled. 
The mirror-trading scheme allowed some of the bank’s wealthy clients in Moscow to convert rubles into western currency through the simultaneous purchase and sale of publicly traded shares, investigators have found. 
The Democrats cited Deutsche Bank’s previous compliance failures, which have resulted in more than $6 billion in fines and penalties to U.S. regulators since 2015. Along with the internal review of the Russian stock-trading scheme, they are seeking any internal correspondence and communications related to loans extended to Trump and his immediate family members. The bank has made more than $300 million in loans to Trump, for the Doral golf resort in Florida, a Washington, D.C., hotel and a Chicago tower.

This is a huge, huge clue as to where the Trump organization stuff is going on Russia.  The money trail is going to be key here, and when they finally go full Capone on this asshole, it's going to be exquisite.

Follow the dirty money.  It goes to Moscow.  And Vlad is getting a hell of a deal with his purchase.

Meanwhile In Bevinstan

If you thought that Donald Trump was the only Republican regularly looking to get rid of newspapers who write critical stories, you should meet Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin, no fan of either of the state's two largest papers.

Gov. Matt Bevin took to Facebook Live on Tuesday evening to blast a Courier-Journal story about his approach to the media, comparing reporters who have been ignored by his office to noisy insects. 
"They will beg to differ and that's their prerogative, but it is our option to disregard people that don't take their responsibility seriously in our estimation," he said. "There's only a handful of them. They make a lot of noise. They're like cicadas." 
In recent months, the governor's office has largely ignored requests for comment from some of Kentucky's major news outlets, including the Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WAVE 3 News, choosing to go on social media or do radio interviews with friendly hosts instead. Reporter Joe Sonka of Insider Louisville has even started a running tally of how many emails he and his colleagues have sent to Bevin's spokespersons without getting a response
The governor also has publicly criticized several individual reporters after they wrote stories he disliked. He didn't name names in his Facebook video on Tuesday, but he did single out the Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader as newsrooms that "don't actually seem to care about Kentucky." He noted that both news outlets are owned by companies based outside the commonwealth. 
Bevin, who was born in Colorado, raised in New Hampshire and went to college in Virginia, moved to Louisville in 1999. In 2011, he assumed the leadership of his family company, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a bell maker based in Connecticut. 
The reporters whose requests aren't returned "are not serious journalists," Bevin said, adding that Courier-Journal subscribers are throwing their money away. The targets of his criticism have included the Courier-Journal's Tom Loftus, a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. 
"Anytime a politician tells you not to read the work of watchdog journalists, it should raise a red flag," said Joel Christopher, the Courier-Journal's executive editor. "It's like the circus magician telling you to watch his hands." 
The governor did not mention any of Loftus' recent reports scrutinizing the $1.6 million purchase of the Anchorage home in which he and his family now reside. It is unclear who owns the company that purchased it. Nor did the governor mention stories the Courier-Journal has done on the state's ballooning pension crisis, a topic on which he says the state's media should focus. 
In an email late Tuesday evening, Herald-Leader editor Peter Baniak said: "The Herald-Leader has a decades-long record of reporting and writing about issues critical to Kentucky's future. We plan to do a lot more of that reporting and writing in the future. I'd invite the governor to read it."

By the way, Joe Sonka is serious about keeping track of the number of times Bevin's office has ignored a reporter's request this year:

So yeah, we have our own "chief executive who is bad with the media" problem here in the commonwealth.  Not going to get much better I would guess, either.

Laws, Martial And Otherwise

Speaking of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, it seems the drug-hating, murder-endorsing, police-arming leader has graduated from "strongman" status to full "dictator" this week with the declaration of martial law to deal with a terrorist attack on Marawi City in the southern part of the country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Wednesday that he'll be harsh in enforcing martial law in his country's south as he abruptly left Moscow to deal with a crisis at home sparked by a Muslim extremist siege on a city, where militants burned buildings overnight and are feared to have taken hostages.

Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire southern Mindanao region, the restive third of the Philippine archipelago, Tuesday evening to try to crush Muslim extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group and occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings and battled troops in an audacious attack in Marawi City.

Martial law could be extended for a year depending on how long the problem could be quelled, Duterte said on board a plane en route to the Philippines.

"I said I would be harsh and I warned everybody not to force my hand into it," Duterte said. "I have to do it to preserve the republic."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said troops raided the hideout of a top terrorist suspect in Marawi on Tuesday, sparking a gunbattle that prompted the militants to call for reinforcements from an allied group, the Maute. He said dozens of gunmen occupied city hall, a hospital and a jail and burned a Catholic church, a college and some houses in a bold attack that killed at least two soldiers and a police officer and wounded 12 others.

Several militants were killed in the fighting in Marawi city in Lanao del Sur province, about 830 kilometers (520 miles) south of Manila, but others continued to lay siege to the largely Muslim city of more than 200,000 people, officials said, adding that power was cut in the city in the chaos.

"The whole of Marawi city is blacked out, there is no light, and there are Maute snipers all around," Lorenzana said in the news conference in Moscow, which was broadcast live in the Philippines.

Ahh, but if you're going to be following the "martial law to deal with Muslim terrorists in a rogue province" playbook, you learn from the guy who wrote it.

Duterte met late Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he is counting on Russia to supply weapons for the Philippines to fight terrorism.

"Of course, our country needs modern weapons, we had orders in the United States, but now the situation there is not very smooth and in order to fight the Islamic State, with their units and factions, we need modern weapons," he said, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

Why would Duterte want to deal with Trump to buy weapons when he can go directly to Trump's boss Vlad?  That's who's really in charge of the US right now.  Sure as hell isn't Donny calling the shots these days, he can barely survive the trip overseas without sending in Ivanka and Jared to cover for him.

And so it goes.


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