Monday, March 26, 2018

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

Some more information on that now not-so-secret 2016 foreign fundraising meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and the Russians on Trump's behalf, brokered by the UAE today.  Robert Mueller has the broker in question, Emirati businessman George Nader, in pocket as a cooperating witness.

Now we discover that the GOP Congress was possibly in on the scam too, in what's looking like a major pay-for-play for the Republican party and US/Saudi/UAE policy towards Qatar.

A top fundraiser for President Donald Trump received millions of dollars from a political adviser to the United Arab Emirates last April, just weeks before he began handing out a series of large political donations to U.S. lawmakers considering legislation targeting Qatar, the UAE’s chief rival in the Persian Gulf, an Associated Press investigation has found
George Nader, an adviser to the UAE who is now a witness in the U.S. special counsel investigation into foreign meddling in American politics, wired $2.5 million to the Trump fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. They said Nader paid the money to Broidy to bankroll an effort to persuade the U.S. to take a hard line against Qatar, a long-time American ally but now a bitter adversary of the UAE. 
A month after he received the money, Broidy sponsored a conference on Qatar’s alleged ties to Islamic extremism. During the event, Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced he was introducing legislation that would brand Qatar as a terrorist-supporting state. 
In July 2017, two months after Royce introduced the bill, Broidy gave the California congressman $5,400 in campaign gifts — the maximum allowed by law. The donations were part of just under $600,000 that Broidy has given to GOP members of Congress and Republican political committees since he began the push for the legislation fingering Qatar, according to an AP analysis of campaign finance disclosure records. 
Broidy said in a statement to AP that he has been outspoken for years about militant groups, including Hamas. 
“I’ve both raised money for, and contributed my own money to, efforts by think tanks to bring the facts into the open, since Qatar is spreading millions of dollars around Washington to whitewash its image as a terror-sponsoring state,” he said. “I’ve also spoken to like-minded members of Congress, like Royce, about how to make sure Qatar’s lobbying money does not blind lawmakers to the facts about its record in supporting terrorist groups.” 
While Washington is awash with political donations from all manner of interest groups and individuals, there are strict restrictions on foreign donations for political activity. Agents of foreign governments are also required to register before lobbying so that there is a public record of foreign influence. 
Cory Fritz, a spokesman for Royce, said that his boss had long criticized the “destabilizing role of extremist elements in Qatar.” He pointed to comments to that effect going back to 2014. “Any attempts to influence these longstanding views would have been unsuccessful,” he said. 
In October, Broidy also raised the issue of Qatar at the White House in meetings with Trump and senior aides.

Remember, the whole unregistered foreign agent thing is the same issue that tripped up Michael Flynn, but the bigger issue is that it looks like the UAE, through Nader, sent millions of dollars to a major Trump fundraiser to buy GOP sanctions of Qatar and got them.

And remember, Mueller has Nader in the palm of his hand.

Stay tuned.

Mad Dog Versus The Mustache

I know that the conventional wisdom is that incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton will be whispering sweet war stories in Trump's ear, and there's very good reason to believe that Bolton being a part of the regime dramatically increases the odds of America going to war during Trump's term.  But what does Defense Secretary Jim Mattis think of all this?

Yeah, there's a reason he's called Mad Dog, the guy definitely knows his way around a sand table or two and didn't exactly shy from blowing stuff up as Obama's CENTCOM head.  The guy's record goes all the way back to the first Gulf War as a battalion commander with the Marines. He's seen the elephant, and he's put men in harm's way and seen some of them not come home.

And you know what?  He doesn't like John Bolton one bit.

Washington is now consumed by a debate over whether Mr. Trump’s new team plans to govern as far to the right as it talks.

So far, the incoming national security adviser, John R. Bolton, has declared that his past comments are “behind me.” Hours after his selection was announced, Mr. Bolton vowed that he would find ways to execute the policies that Mr. Trump was elected on, but that he would not tolerate slow-walking and leaks from bureaucrats he dismissed as “munchkins.”

Some who know Mr. Bolton and his operating style predict titanic clashes.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired general who has argued for keeping the Iran deal intact and warned that military confrontation with North Korea would result in “the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes,” told colleagues on Friday that he did not know if he could work with Mr. Bolton. The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, another retired four-star general, was also unenthusiastic about Mr. Bolton’s hiring.

I've given up on Kelly, he's an unapologetic racist asshole anyway.  But Mattis is the guy actually running the Pentagon, and I'm hoping he'll put a leash on Bolton.

The problem is that's what McMaster was supposed to do as NSA and he's gone, the triumvirate of "Trump's generals" were supposed to be the "adults in the room" protecting America from Trump's worst impulses.

That's not coming to pass.  One is gone.  One has been rumored on the way out for months.  Only Mattis seems to be the stable one.

Last July, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson arranged a tutoring session at the Pentagon for President Donald Trump in the secure, windowless meeting room known as “The Tank.” The plan was to lay out why American troops are deployed in far-flung places across the globe, like Japan and South Korea. Mattis spoke first.

“The postwar, rules-based international order is the greatest gift of the greatest generation,” Mattis told the president, according to two meeting attendees. The secretary of defense walked the president through the complex fabric of trade deals, military agreements and international alliances that make up the global system the victors established after World War II, touching off what one attendee described as a “food fight” and a “free for all” with the president and the rest of the group. Trump punctuated the session by loudly telling his secretaries of state and defense, at several points during the meeting, “I don’t agree!” The meeting culminated with Tillerson, his now ousted secretary of state, fatefully complaining after the president left the room, that Trump was “a fucking moron.”

Trump is said to divide the members of his Cabinet into first-tier “killers” and second-tier “winners.” Mattis is indisputably a killer, but he’s also something rarer: a sometime loser — of policy arguments, that is — who manages to disagree with the president without squandering his clout or getting under Trump’s skin. He opposed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord, decertify the Iran deal, slap tariffs on steel and aluminum, and move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He opposes the president’s proposed ban on transgender service members and has reportedly ignored requests from the White House to see plans for a military strike against North Korea.

Yet Mattis has been able to present the president with views he doesn’t like without bearing the brunt of his frustration. The departure of H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, was announced Thursday amid rumors that the president is poised to fire beleaguered Cabinet secretaries like David Shulkin of Veterans Affairs and Ben Carson of Housing and Urban Development, and is agonizing over whether to dismiss John Kelly, his chief of staff. Mattis’ name has been conspicuously absent. One senior administration official called him “bulletproof.”

Of the Cabinet selections and staff picks cheered by Trump critics, including McMaster, Kelly and former chairman of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Mattis is the only one who seems to still have job security.
Trump remains as enthused about Mattis, one of his first Cabinet picks, as he was when he tapped him for the job in December 2016, according to several White House aides.

For now.

The one thing standing between Trump and war with Iran and North Korea is a guy nicknamed "Mad Dog".

Let that sink in.

Trump Faces The Storm

Anderson Cooper's 60 Minutes interview with Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who alleges an affair with Donald Trump and a forced non-disclosure agreement to keep the story of that affair out of the papers during the 2016 election, did not disappoint.

Anderson Cooper: For sitting here talking to me today you could be fined a million dollars I mean aren't you taking a big risk?

Stormy Daniels: I am.

Anderson Cooper: I guess I'm not 100% sure on why you're doing this.

Stormy Daniels: Because it was very important to me to be able to defend myself

Anderson Cooper: Is part of talking w-- wanting to set the record straight?

Stormy Daniels: 100%.

Anderson Cooper: Why does the record need to be set straight?

Stormy Daniels: Because people are just saying whatever they wanted to say about me, I was perfectly fine saying nothing at all, but I'm not okay with being made out to be a liar, or people thinking that I did this for money and people are like, "Oh, you're an opportunist. You're taking advantage of this. Yes, I'm getting more job offers now, but tell me one person who would turn down a job offer making more than they've been making, doing the same thing that they've always done?

Anderson Cooper: A lotta people are using you for a lotta different agendas.

Stormy Daniels: They're trying to. Like, oh, you know, Stormy Daniels comes out #MeToo. This is not a 'Me Too.' I was not a victim. I've never said I was a victim. I think trying to use me to-- to further someone else's agenda, does horrible damage to people who are true victims.

Stormy Daniels' real name is Stephanie Clifford. She's 39 years old, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has been acting in, directing, and writing adult films for nearly 20 years. She was one of the most popular actresses in the adult industry when she was introduced to Mr. Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July, 2006. She says he invited her to dinner, and she met him at his hotel suite.

Anderson Cooper: How was the conversation?

Stormy Daniels: Ummm (LAUGH) it started off-- all about him just talking about himself. And he's like-- "Have you seen my new magazine?

With Trump it's always about ego, never forget that.  Here's the part that should end his presidency:

According to Daniels, Mr. Trump called her the following month to say he'd not been able to get her a spot on Celebrity Apprentice. She says they never met again and only had sex in that first meeting in 2006. In May 2011, Daniels agreed to tell her story to a sister publication of In Touch magazine for $15,000 dollars. Two former employees of the magazine told us the story never ran because after the magazine called Mr. Trump seeking comment, his attorney Michael Cohen threatened to sue. Daniels says she was never paid, and says a few weeks later, she was threatened by a man who approached her in Las Vegas.

Stormy Daniels: I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. T-- taking, you know, the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, gettin' all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story." And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom." And then he was gone.

Anderson Cooper: You took it as a direct threat?

Stormy Daniels: Absolutely.

Stormy Daniels: I was rattled. I remember going into the workout class. And my hands are shaking so much, I was afraid I was gonna-- drop her

Anderson Cooper: Did you ever see that person again?

Stormy Daniels: No. But I-- if I did, I would know it right away.

Anderson Cooper: You'd be able to-- you'd be able to recognize that person?

Stormy Daniels: 100%. Even now, all these years later. If he walked in this door right now, I would instantly know.

Anderson Cooper: Did you go to the police?

Stormy Daniels: No.

Anderson Cooper: Why?

Stormy Daniels: Because I was scared

The only thing more consistent that Trump's feast of ego is the way he treats women.  They're not mutually exclusive things, either. 

Oh, and I bet she's been shown the picture of the man who threatened her in Las Vegas, and she and her lawyer know precisely who that individual is.  She wants Trump to know she's aware of that man's identity too, count on that.

On top of the moral implications, remember that John Edwards was indicted in 2011 for using campaign funds to pay off his mistress to keep silent about their affair during the 2008 campaign, and Edwards was acquitted on the one of the charges and a mistrial was declared for the rest.  His career is over in politics and as far as I know he's still a trial lawyer in NC.

There's a near 100% chance that Trump did the exact same thing as Edwards, Russia, money laundering, obstruction of justice or not.


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