Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

Turns out America's journalists and pundits may have finally figured out that Trump isn't mentally deficient or suffering from dementia, he's really an awful racist narcissist manipulative asshole who knows exactly what he's doing with his tirades: stoking the flames of rage in order to save his ass from prison.

Over the past 24 hours, President Trump has delivered a concentrated dose of misinformation, self-sabotage, hypocrisy, and bigotry that stands out even by the standards of his short and eventful political career.

The president blew up negotiations to fund the government with a tweet attacking Democratic congressional leaders. He retweeted inflammatory and misleading anti-Islam videos from a bigoted far-right British politician. He joked about presenting a “Fake News Trophy” to media networks. He called attention to Matt Lauer, the NBC host fired on Wednesday for sexual misconduct, despite Trump’s own past admissions of sexual assault. He baselessly implied that NBC host Joe Scarborough, a onetime informal adviser, might have been involved in the death of an intern years ago in Florida. And several outlets reported that the president privately continues to claim preposterous things, including that it wasn’t him on the Access Hollywood tape and that Barack Obama really wasn’t born in the United States.

It’s unclear what precipitated the meltdown. Trump was having a decent stretch in office, including relatively smooth progress for the GOP tax bill. Taken individually, none of these examples is all that unusual for Trump. His bigotry toward Muslims has been on display for years. He has blown up budget negotiations before. He frequently passes along unverified and false information. His hypocrisy about sexual-harassment allegations is not new. He has a weakness for conspiracy theories.

Taken together, however, they offer yet another display of poor judgment and divisive leadership from the putative leader of the free world, and they again cast doubt on his fitness for his office. They are also further evidence that Trump’s hypocrisy, bigotry, and dishonesty are not an act. He means it all.

On Tuesday, North Korea launched what appears to be its most powerful rocket yet, one it claims is capable of reaching the East Coast of the United States. There’s no time when it’s safe for a nation to have a leader who cannot grapple with reality, but it is especially dangerous at a moment when a nuclear adversary is brandishing ever more powerful rockets at the United States.

The videos that Trump retweeted were from Jayda Fransen, the leader of the far-right political party Britain First. Fransen was convicted last year of harassing a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab. The three videos that Trump retweeted are a mixed bag. The first, labeled, “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” depicts an attack by supporters of the deposed Islamist president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, on a young man; his killer was later hanged. The second is labeled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” According to Dutch media reports, however, none of the people involved are Muslims. The provenance of the third, labeled “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” is unclear; it shows a man crushing a ceramic statue, and has no apparent point beyond inflaming anger at Muslims. The office of British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Trump for retweeting the videos.

Trump has no hesitations about inflaming anger toward Muslims, and in fact he revels in it. But while some supporters wrote off such behavior as politicking during the campaign, Trump’s persistence now indicates a more deep-seated bigotry. His continued provocations also hurt his cause. His tweets about the “Muslim ban” on immigration have already caused judges to rule against the order in court, and Neal Katyal, a lawyer arguing against the ban, suggested Wednesday that he’ll use the latest tweets against Trump as well.

He doesn't care. He believes he will ultimately be vindicated as the greatest leader in human history. But if you want to know what set this tirade off, you don't have to look far at all.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has postponed an anticipated grand jury testimony linked to his investigation into Michael Flynn amid growing indications of possible plea deal discussions. 
Additional witnesses were expected to be questioned soon including a public relations consultant hired by Flynn's lobbying firm who was given an early December date deadline to appear before the grand jury, according to a person at the company. 
Ahead of the delay, the impression was that the testimony needed to happen soon, the source said. 
"Time seems to be of the essence," said the source at Sphere Consulting, the PR firm where the consultant worked. 
The grand jury testimony was postponed, the person said, with no reason given. There could be many reasons for a delay, including scheduling issues.

Every time it seems there's another story about Robert Mueller closing in on Trump, he blows up.  The more scared Trump is, the worse the meltdown, and this is the worst tirade Trump has been on yet.

Sphere's government relations arm, SGR LLC Government Relations and Lobbying, is one of several companies Flynn Intel Group hired to work for Inovo BV, a Netherlands-based company owned by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, according to filing made by Flynn Intel Group under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Inovo hired Flynn to research Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of being behind the 2016 attempted military coup to overthrow him, the filing said. 
Inovo paid Flynn's group $530,000 for the research, which was supposed result in a video documentary but it was never finished. Sphere's SGR was paid $40,000. 
Sphere has been cooperating for months with the investigation. The inquiry was originally opened before the appointment of the special counsel, according to the source. Sphere, which was subpoenaed around June, was described as "a cooperating witness at best." Sphere has not been accused of any wrongdoing. 
Interviews conducted by special counsel investigators have included questions about the business dealings of Flynn and his son such as their firm's reporting of income from work overseas, two witnesses interviewed by the team told CNN. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people acting as agents of foreign entities to publicly disclose their relationship with foreign countries or businesses and financial compensation for such work.

There's no doubt that Flynn and his son are looking at a lifetime behind bars here...unless they can offer Mueller up a bigger fish.  It's very possible that fish is Jared Kushner or Jeff Sessions, but I'm betting it's Trump himself.

Today's behavior by Trump, given the stories this week of Flynn's plea deal, makes total sense.  He's scared out of his mind and lashing out as everyone he hates, Muslims, the media, North Korea, you name it.  He knows what's coming.

So does Mueller.

Stay tuned.

Lauer Lauer On The Radio

The reckoning over sexual harassment in the workplace claimed another leading television personality on Wednesday when NBC fired its leading morning news anchor, Matt Lauer, over a sexual harassment allegation. 
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer,” Andrew Lack, the NBC News president, said in a memo to the staff. 
He said the allegation against Mr. Lauer “represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment.” 
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” Mr. Lack said. 
Ari Wilkenfeld, a civil rights lawyer with the firm Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson in Washington, said he represented the woman who made the complaint to NBC, but declined to publicly identify her. In a statement provided to The New York Times, he said: 
“My client and I met with representatives from NBC’s Human Resources and Legal Departments at 6 p.m. on Monday for an interview that lasted several hours. Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. 
“While I am encouraged by NBC’s response to date, I am in awe of the courage my client showed to be the first to raise a complaint and to do so without making any demands other than the company do the right thing.” 
The Times met with the woman Monday afternoon, but she said she was not ready to come forward and tell her story publicly. 

Page Six is reporting that the complaint involved Lauer sexually assaulting an NBC employee during the network's coverage of the 2014 Sochi games.

Matt Lauer allegedly sexually assaulted a female NBC staffer during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, sources told Page Six. 
An NBC insider said Lauer’s alleged victim complained to HR on Monday: “This happened so quickly. She didn’t go to the media, she made a complaint to NBC’s human resources, and her evidence was so compelling that Matt was fired on Tuesday night. The victim says she has evidence that this has also happened to other women, but so far we don’t have evidence of that.” 
Another source tells us that the decision to fire Lauer was made late Tuesday night by NBC News chairman Andy Lack. 
Lauer’s firing comes amid rumors that several news outlets were working on stories about his alleged sexual misconduct. 
Reporters for the New York Times had been investigating Lauer for several weeks, according to sources who had been contacted by the paper, CNN reported.

I'm sure that NBC knew that the NY Times and Variety were going to drop these stories soon, so the HR complaint became the reason to pro-actively fire Lauer before the stories hit the airwaves, but let's not pretend like they're the good guys.  NBC happily employed now fired pundit Mark Halperin as a contributor as well as Donald Trump himself, and Lauer's long list of creepy rumors has been around for years now.

Also, NBC had no problem hiring Megyn "New Black Panther Party is really scary you guys" Kelly away from her state media job at FOX News, so yeah, NBC had no choice but to get rid of him sooner rather than later.

Lauer won't be the last media figure to lose their job over a career filled with sexual misconduct, either.  More are coming, guaranteed.  The floodgates are open and the garbage is getting washed away...and that brings us to today's other media firing, Minnesota Public Radio's Garrison Keillor.

Garrison Keillor, the former host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” says he’s been fired by Minnesota Public Radio over allegations of improper behavior. 
Keillor told The Associated Press of his firing in an email. In a follow-up statement, he says he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.” 
He didn’t give details of the allegation. Minnesota Public Radio didn’t immediately respond to messages. 
Keillor retired last year from his longtime radio show, but still produced “The Writer’s Almanac” for syndication.

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik confirmed the story on Twitter this afternoon.

Considering NPR has its own problems with sexual harassment in the workplace, I'm not surprised at Keillor's firing at all.

2017 has been a garbage year full of garbage people, but let's not forget that the biggest sack of manure remains in the Oval Office.

It's Nobody's Business But The Turks, Con't

Looks like the part of the DoJ that's still doing its job has latched on to a major international case involving Turkey, Iran, gold, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of an international corruption case, is set to tell a New York jury the “inside story” of a plot to evade American sanctions on Iran that reached the highest levels of Turkey’s government, a prosecutor said.

Zarrab is the U.S. government’s star witness in the prosecution of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy chief executive officer at Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, who is accused of conspiring with Zarrab to launder money and funnel Iranian funds through the U.S. financial system. Zarrab, who has pleaded guilty after being charged with Atilla, is likely to take the witness stand later on Tuesday or on Wednesday.

"Atilla and his lies played a crucial role in giving Iran access to U.S. dollars and U.S. banks,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David William Denton Jr. told jurors at the start of the case. “Iran did not need soldiers. Iran needed a banker.”

The disclosure of Zarrab’s cooperation, minutes before the lawyers addressed jurors on Tuesday, roiled markets in Turkey, as the Lira fell as much as 1.7 percent and Halbank shares dropped 7.9 percent. Yields on 10-year bonds have surged to records above 13 percent.

The revelation ends weeks of mystery after the gold trader suddenly stopped participating in the defense. With the U.S. expected to present evidence of corruption at the highest reaches of the Turkish government, the case has sparked outrage from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who claims the prosecution is a plot to undermine his country’s economy. 
Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. last year on charges that he helped bank executives and others in Turkey to help Iran disguise hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions that went through the U.S. financial system. Now, instead of standing trial, Zarrab will testify against Atilla, 47, and recount the alleged scheme.

Hmm, a DoJ international money laundering investigation and Turkey's corrupt Erdogan government, now who do we know that's connected to both of those things? Oh that's right, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's alleged plan to forcibly extradite a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania is now a part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal
Why it matters: Flynn had previously done consulting work on behalf of the Turkish government, which he failed to disclose before joining the Trump administration. This meeting would have taken place during the transition and after he had accepted his position as Trump's national security advisor, which occurred on November 18. 
The details: Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn, Jr., reportedly met with Turkish representatives in New York in December to discuss delivering cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is living legally in the United States in exile, to Turkey in exchange for as much as $15 million. The plan would have involved transporting Gulen to a Turkish island prison via a private jet. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gulen of fomenting 2016's failed coup attempt against him. 
And it's not the first time this plan came up as Flynn held a similar meeting with high-level Turks, including Turkey's foreign minister and Erdogan's son-in-law last September. Former CIA Director James Woolsey attended that meeting, telling the WSJ that the plan then involved "a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away." Woolsey later turned down his consulting fee for the meeting and alerted then-Vice President Joe Biden about its content.

Is it any surprise that a day after Flynn's lawyers met with Mueller's team that suddenly we have a major announcement in another huge federal case involving Turkey's government and money laundering?  I don't believe in coincidences that large, folks, and neither should you.

What does Flynn know about Zarrab, and what does Zarrab know about Flynn?  What do they both know about Erdogan...and Trump?  I'm betting plenty, and both of them are supposedly cooperating with the Justice Department.

Stay tuned.


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