Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Last Call For There Is No Dana, Only Fool

The Trump-Russia story is bad enough, but we need to take a look at other compromised Republicans in DC these days, starting with California GOP Congressman (and long-time friend of Russia) Dana Rohrabacher.  Turns out Dana hasn't just been taking lobbyist cash from the folks Don Trump Jr. likes to hang out with in meetings, he also takes policy direction...and apparently direct orders from the Kremlin to boot. Nico Hines at the Daily Beast:

Members of the team of Russians who secured a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner also attempted to stage a show trial of anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder on Capitol Hill. 
The trial, which would have come in the form of a congressional hearing, was scheduled for mid-June 2016 by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a long-standing Russia ally who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe. During the hearing, Rohrabacher had planned to confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie that viciously attacks him—as well as at least two witnesses linked to the Russian authorities, including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya
Ultimately, the hearing was canceled when senior Republicans intervened and agreed to allow a hearing on Russia at the full committee level with a Moscow-sympathetic witness, according to multiple congressional aides. 
An email reviewed by The Daily Beast shows that before that June 14 hearing, Rohrabacher’s staff received pro-Kremlin briefings against Browder, once Russia’s biggest foreign investor, and his tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky from a lawyer who was working with Veselnitskaya. 

The Browder in this case is William Browder, the US businessman and portfolio manager who was represented by Sergei Magnitsky before Magnitsky's unseemly death.  Rohrbacher by the way freely admitted to meeting with this Russian cast of characters back in May.

Although House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) had prohibited Rohrabacher from showing the Russian propaganda film in Congress, Rohrabacher’s Capitol Hill office still actively promoted a screening of the movie that was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on June 13, 2016. Veselnitskaya was one of those handling the movie’s worldwide promotion. 
Invitations to attend the movie screening were sent from the subcommittee office by Catharine O’Neill, a Republican intern on Rohrabacher’s committee. Her email promised that the movie would convince viewers that Magnitsky, who was murdered in a Russian prison cell, was no hero.

The invite, reviewed by The Daily Beast, claimed that the film “explodes the common view that Mr. Magnitsky was a whistleblower” and lavishes praise on the “rebel director” Andrei Nekrasov. 
“That invitation was not from our office. O’Neill was an unpaid intern on the committee staff. Paul denies asking her to send the invitations,” said Ken Grubbs, Rohrabacher’s press secretary, referring to the congressman’s staff director, Paul Behrends. 
O’Neill went on to secure a job on the Trump transition team and then in the State Department’s Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. She did not return a call for comment. 
Rohrabacher’s office was given the film by the Prosecutor General’s office in Moscow, which is run by Yuri Chaika, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin who is accused of widespread corruption, and Viktor Grin, the deputy general prosecutor who has been sanctioned by the United States as part of the Magnitsky Act. 
That same Prosecutor General’s office also was listed as being behind the “very high level and sensitive information” that was offered to Donald Trump Jr. in an email prior to his now infamous meeting with Russian officials at Trump Tower on June 9—just days before the congressional hearing. Veselnitskaya attended that meeting with Trump Jr. She also happens to have worked as a prosecutor in the Moscow region and is a close personal friend of Chaika. 
The Daily Beast reviewed a copy of a document that was passed to Rohrabacher in Moscow in April 2016. The document, marked “confidential,” was given to Rohrabacher and Behrends. It lays out an alternate reality in which the U.S.—and the rest of the world—has been duped by a fake $230 million scandal that resulted in sanctions being imposed on 44 Russians linked to murder, corruption, or cover-ups.

So cooler heads prevailed, but Rohrabacher was literally going to use a Russia popaganda film as evidence in a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Russian sanctions, and this was all just around the time that we start seeing the Russians mess with voter registration systems, and start openly contacting the Trump people.

And yes, it's once again Valerie Veselnitskaya and friends.  Again.

Mueller has to be looking at Rohrabacher too.  You can make the case that Trump may not be fully involved (but knew what was going on) on the Russia side, but there's zero doubt in my mind that Dana Rohrabacher is outright taking orders from a foreign government.  Best case he's a fanatic and patsy, but worst case his actions meet the very definition, historical, literal, and legal, of treason.

We'll see how deep this krolichya nora goes.

Flaking Out In Arizona

One of the few GOP Senators in 2018 that may be vulnerable, Sen. Jeff Flake is now facing a massive primary challenge funded by...Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump and White House officials have had a series of conversations with prospective Republican candidates about challenging Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake in the 2018 primary. 
Kelli Ward, who has already launched her campaign, and Robert Graham, a former state GOP chair and Trump adviser who is considering it, both told CNN on Monday they have had multiple conversations with White House officials about opposing Flake in the Senate primary. 
Graham said the talks began shortly after the 2016 presidential campaign concluded, and both Graham and Ward said further conversations took place as recently as two weeks ago.

Another potential candidate -- state treasurer Jeff DeWit -- has had multiple conversations with Trump, sources familiar with those talks said. DeWit is close with Graham, making it unlikely both would run. 

If you're surprised in the least by Trump coming to slice Flake's throat open, you haven't been paying attention to the Revengeaholic-In-Chief .
Trump was furious at Flake last fall when the Arizona senator called on Trump to withdraw from the presidential race after the emergence of the "Access Hollywood" tape
He told a small group of Arizona Republicans last fall -- including Graham -- that he would spend $10 million on defeating Flake in the 2018 Senate primary, a source familiar with the conversation confirmed. That conversation and the White House's further involvement in recruiting a primary challenger were first reported Monday by Politico's Alex Isenstadt. 
"They used Jeff Flake in Hillary Clinton's ads, for heaven's sakes. It was like pouring salt on the wounds," Graham told CNN.

Flake made Trump look bad.  Now Trump will most likely end Flake's political career.  The message is clear: if there are any Republicans in the Senate even considering turning on Trump, they're dead and buried where they stand.

By the way, one of the Democrats running against Flake in 2018 is Deedra Abboud, a Muslim attorney who lives in Phoenix. If Trump's blackballing doesn't end Flake's career, then Flake refusing to attack Abboud for being Muslim should finish him off nicely.

I have no sympathy for Flake because I know whoever replaces him on the GOP side will be worse.

None whatsoever.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Donald Trump's major issue is that in the end, he can't stop telling lies of omission. When he gets caught, he claims it's no big deal, tweeting furiously at the "fake news" press.  The problem is that Trump always gets caught anyway, and that the lies always, always seem to involve Russia.

Hours into a dinner with world leaders who had gathered for the Group of 20 summit meeting, President Trump left his chair at the sprawling banquet table and headed to where President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was seated.

The two presidents had met earlier in the day for the first time and, as the White House put it, had developed a rapport even as they talked about Russia’s interference in the United States’ 2016 elections.

The July 7 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, was the single most scrutinized of the Trump presidency. But it turned out there was another encounter: a one-on-one discussion over dinner that lasted as long as an hour and relied solely on a Kremlin-provided interpreter.

No presidential relationship has been more dissected than the one between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, a dynamic only heightened by the swirl of investigations into whether Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to sway the election in his favor. Nevertheless, the meeting was confirmed by the White House only on Tuesday, after reports surfaced that some of the guests had been surprised that it occurred.

The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States’ staunchest, oldest allies.

A White House official said there was nothing unusual about it. And in two tweets late Tuesday, Mr. Trump derided news reports about it as “sick.” He said the dinner was not a secret, since all of the world leaders at the summit meeting and their spouses had been invited by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. “Press knew!” he tweeted.

“Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!” Mr. Trump added.

Except of course an hour-long, off -the-record, omitted conversation with no official record from the White House, with the Russian president that Trump is already accused of being far too friendly with, is exactly the kind of  unforced error that the White House keeps committing time and time again.

You know, like the country finding out there was an eighth person at Don Jr.'s little Russian Clinton dirt festival in June of 2016., and of course that person was a Russian involved in international money laundering.

A U.S.-based employee of a Russian real estate company took part in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., bringing to eight the number of known participants at the session that has emerged as a key focus of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians.

Ike Kaveladze attended the meeting as a representative of Aras and Emin Agalarov, the father-and-son Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, according to Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs who said he also represents Kaveladze.

Balber said Tuesday that he had received a phone call over the weekend from a representative of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asking whether Kaveladze would agree to be interviewed. Balber said his client would cooperate.

The request is the first public indication that Mueller’s team is investigating the meeting.

The presence of Kaveladze at the Trump Tower meeting introduces a new and intriguing figure into the increasingly complex Trump-Russia drama. A native of the Soviet republic of Georgia who came to the United States in 1991, Kaveladze was the subject nearly two decades ago of a congressional inquiry into Russian money laundering in U.S. banks, although he was never charged with a crime and Balber said there was never any sign of wrongdoing by Kaveladze.

But at least we now know that Don The Even Lesser's meeting is squarely on Robert Mueller's radar.

The longer this goes, the more we find out.


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