Friday, November 4, 2016

Russian To Judgment (Day)

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald has been the go-to reporter on Trump's Russian connections, and delivers a staggering election eve case against the Republican candidate in his latest piece this week. The bottom line is our NATO allies in Europe firmly believe that a Trump administration would abandon Europe to Vladimir Putin's machinations.

In phone calls, meetings and cables, America’s European allies have expressed alarm to one another about Donald Trump’s public statements denying Moscow’s role in cyberattacks designed to interfere with the U.S. election. They fear the Republican nominee for presidenthas emboldened the Kremlin in its unprecedented cybercampaign to disrupt elections in multiple countries in hopes of weakening Western alliances, according to intelligence, law enforcement and other government officials in the United States and Europe. 
While American intelligence officers have privately briefed Trump about Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. election, he has publicly dismissed that information as unreliable, instead saying this hacking of incredible sophistication and technical complexity could have been done by some 400-pound “guy sitting on their bed” or even a child. 
Officials from two European countries tell Newsweek that Trump’s comments about Russia’s hacking have alarmed several NATO partners because it suggests he either does not believe the information he receives in intelligence briefings, does not pay attention to it, does not understand it or is misleading the American public for unknown reasons. One British official says members of that government who are aware of the scope of Russia’s cyberattacks both in Western Europe and America found Trump’s comments “quite disturbing” because they fear that, if elected, the Republican presidential nominee would continue to ignore information gathered by intelligence services in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. 
Trump’s behavior, however, has at times concerned the Russians, leading them to revise their hacking and disinformation strategy. For example, when Trump launched into an inexplicable attack on the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who died in combat, the Kremlin assumed the Republican nominee was showing himself psychologically unfit to be president and would be forced by his party to withdraw from the race. As a result, Moscow put its hacking campaign temporarily on hold, ending the distribution of documents until Trump stabilized, both personally and in the polls, according to reports provided to Western intelligence.

America’s European partners are also troubled by the actions of several people close to Trump’s campaign and company. Trump has been surrounded by advisers and associates with economic and familial links to Russia. The publicized connections and contacts between former campaign manager Paul Manafort with Ukraine have raised concerns. Former Trump adviser Carter Page is being probed by American and European intelligence on allegations that he engaged in back-channel discussions with Russian government officials over the summer. Page did travel to Moscow, but he denies any inappropriate contact with Russian officials. The allies are also uneasy about retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a Trump adviser who was reportedly considered a possible running mate for the GOP nominee. Last December, Flynn attended a dinner at the Metropol Hotel in honor of the 10th anniversary of RT, a Russian news agency that has been publicly identified by American intelligence as a primary outlet for Moscow’s disinformation campaigns. Flynn, who was two seats away from Russian President Vladimir Putin at the dinner, has frequently appeared on RT, despite public warnings by American intelligence that the news agency is used for Russian propaganda. 
Western intelligence has also obtained reports that a Trump associate met with a pro-Putin member of Russian parliament at a building in Eastern Europe maintained by Rossotrudnichestvo, an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is charged with administering language, education and support programs for civilians. While the purpose of that meeting is unclear, and there is no evidence that Trump was aware it took place, it has become another fact that has alarmed officials from at least one NATO ally. Finally, Trump’s repeated glowing statements about Putin throughout the campaign—and his shocking comment that the Russians were not in Crimea—have perplexed some foreign officials, who fear that under a Trump presidency, the United States would no longer stand with Western Europe in regard to Moscow.

There's a ridiculous amount of circumstantial evidence that strongly suggests Putin has a pretty thick dossier on Trump based on his business dealings in Moscow over the last decade or two.  The Russian term for such intel service blackmail files is a fitting one borrowed from English: kompromat.  And pretty much everything I've read on Trump-Putin screams to me that Putin has the goods on Trump.

Of course, it could be that Trump just really likes the guy and sees the Russians as natural allies. Certainly if Putin does have something bad on Trump, he doesn't have to lord it over the guy for him to want to work with Moscow.

What makes me believe that there's an alliance is the fact that conservatives (and the useful idiot Double G section of the "left") are both saying that these accusations are nothing more than red-baiting "neo-McCarthyism", arguably the dumbest thing I've heard this campaign given Putin's background in intelligence services.

Hit dogs holler the loudest, and these dogs are barking so loudly that it's deafening.

BridgeGate Over Troubled Water, Con't

NJ GOP Gov. Chris Christie, former presidential candidate, Trump's first choice for running mate, and current Trump transition team head, just got the November Surprise of his life.

Two former Chris Christie allies were convicted Friday on all counts in the lane-closure plot known as "Bridgegate."

The New Jersey governor's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and his former top Port Authority official Bill Baroni were found guilty in the plot, a use of George Washington Bridge traffic as a means of political retribution. They are convicted of working with David Wildstein, a former Christie ally who has already pleaded guilty, to get retribution on the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie in his re-election.

The verdict comes after more than a month of proceedings and an attempt by the defense to declare a mistrial. Sentencing is set for Feb. 21, 2017. 
Christie has denied having any knowledge of the 2013 incident, in which some of the George Washington Bridge was blocked, until after it happened. But some of the testimony in the case implied Christie was aware of the plan before it took place.
Wildstein served as a star witness for the prosecution.
Christie, who previously had presidential ambitions, heads Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's transition team. He plans to campaign for Trump in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania this weekend.

So by using Clinton email coverage rules, how doomed is Donald Trump's campaign now by association?  And he's still planning on hitting the campaign trail?

For who, Hillary?

Bye Chris.  Enjoy your impending impeachment trial.

The Most Important Jobs Report In Four Years

...and it may not actually matter one bit to voters in 2016.  Needless to say, it's a good report: October saw 161K new jobs and the unemployment rate down to 4.9%, but voters really don't seem to care at all about jobs (despite saying they do.)

U.S. jobs continued to gain at a steady pace in October and wage gains accelerated, signs that the labor market and economy made steady progress at the start of the fourth quarter. 
Payrolls climbed by 161,000 last month following a 191,000 gain in September that was larger than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 173,000. The jobless rate fell to 4.9 percent, while wages rose from a year earlier by the most since 2009.

The figures are likely to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise borrowing costs next month for the first time in 2016. Underlying the steady gains in employment is a balance between hiring managers’ need to keep up with stable domestic demand and the struggle to match more limited labor to skilled-job vacancies. 
“As it continues to tighten up, firms are going to have to resort more and more to more attractive pay to draw people in,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC in New York, said before the report. “We’re pretty close to full employment.” 
Workers have been in short supply for 13 straight months, according to the Institute for Supply Management survey of service-industry companies, which make up almost 90 percent of the economy. 
The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 173,000 advance in payrolls. Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from gains of 105,000 to 208,000 after a previously reported 156,000 September increase. 
Revisions added a total of 44,000 jobs to payrolls in the previous two months.

So 205K total new jobs with the upward revisions, but we're still in real danger of giving the country away to a walking orange bankruptcy (both moral and financial) because Obama failed us with 80 straight months of job growth and Clinton's a real bitch or something.

God we're going to miss the man.


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