Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Last Call For Buckeye Bonfire

Seems the Speaker of the House in Ohio is retiring as well, and for more nefarious reasons as the FBI paid a little visit to Ohio Republican Cliff Rosenberger over the weekend, necessitating his sudden egress from the State Assembly.

Under investigation by the FBI for his lavish lifestyle, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned late Tuesday, effective May 1
"This inquiry has the potential to be very demanding and intensive, and could take months or even years to resolve," he said in a statement. "Ohioans deserve elected leaders who are able to devote their full and undivided attention to (lawmaking). ...

"I take this step with full confidence in my ultimate vindication." 
The FBI's interest in Rosenberger, one of Ohio's most powerful politicians, ranges from his worldwide travel to his use of a donor's luxury condo, several people briefed on the investigation told The Enquirer. 
As speaker, the Clinton County native has made the most of the perks of the office. An Enquirer review on Monday detailed his travel, ranging from Europe to Israel to Los Angeles to Boston. Often, his trips were paid for with other people's money, instead of out of his $100,798 salary. He often rubbed shoulders with lobbyists on the trips.

FBI agents are also looking into Rosenberger's cozy relationship with longtime GOP donor Ginni Ragan. Rosenberger, 36, of Clarksville, rented a luxury condo from her in downtown Columbus. The speaker did not say how much he paid in rent, and state law doesn't require he disclose it. 
Rep. Kirk Schuring, Rosenberger's No. 2, said he was not sure whether the FBI's investigation into Rosenberger included subpoenas of the House GOP or any of its members.

Rosenberger's meteoric rise to House Speaker at 36 was equaled only by his subsequent crash-and-burn routine.  I guess he wasn't wise enough to not tip off the feds but in the age of Trump, what do you expect from Republicans in any position of power in any state in the US?

For now, Schuring will take over as interim Speaker, and the race to replace Rosenberger's job will fall to either Ryan Smith, somebody tied too closely to Rosenberger himself, or to former Ohio Speaker Larry Householder, who himself faced scandal in 2004 over suspected vote buying.

Again, what do you expect from the party of complete and utter corruption?

Maybe vote for the other guys?  Just saying.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Millenials say they are heading to the voting booth in the annual Harvard Institute of Politics poll in higher numbers than the 2010 or 2014 midterms, which is good because they frankly couldn't get much worse.

More young voters say they’ll definitely vote in November than have in the last two midterm elections and they increasingly would rather have Democrats than Republicans in control of Congress, a poll released Tuesday by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows.

The survey of adults ages 18 to 29 also reveals younger Americans have greater trust in Amazon and Google than Facebook and Twitter. Those findings come as Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify at the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions about data privacy, fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech.

More than a third of young Americans eligible to cast ballots in November -- 37 percent -- say they’ll “definitely be voting” in the elections seven months from now that will decide control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. That’s higher than the poll recorded at about the same point in 2010 and 2014, the two most recent midterm elections, when 31 percent and 23 percent answered that way.

“This generation of young Americans is as engaged as we have ever seen them in a midterm election cycle," said John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director.

The good news: it's Democrats who are energized.

Young, self-identified Democrats are driving almost all of the increased enthusiasm, the survey found, with 51 percent saying they’ll “definitely” vote. That’s a 9 percentage point increase since November 2017 and is significantly larger than the 36 percent of Republicans who say the same.

At this point in the 2014 election, midway through Obama’s second term, 28 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans indicated that they would “definitely” be voting, while 35 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Republicans held a similar interest in voting in the spring of 2010. In that election, Republicans took control of the House from the Democrats.

Millenials didn't show up at all in 2014 and it was brutal for the Dems.  The numbers are much, much better this time around, and I'm hoping it will pay off in a big way.

If 51% of Millenial Dems really do show up in November, the Republicans are screwed. I'm holding out hope here that Trump has turned a lot of people younger than myself into voters that show up.

But one thing I do know come January:  Paul Ryan won't be Speaker of the House, because he's bugging out, if Politico 2.0 is to be believed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has told confidants that he will announce soon that he won't run for reelection in November, according to sources with knowledge of the conversations. 
Why it matters: House Republicans were already in a very tough spot for the midterms, with many endangered members and the good chance that Democrats could win the majority.

One of Washington’s best-wired Republicans said: 
This is a Titanic, tectonic shift. … This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can’t be held.” The announcement will help Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in his fundraising because “the Senate becomes the last bastion," the Republican said.

If this is a trial balloon, Ryan does have time to work with. Wisconsin's primaries are among the latest in the country (August 14th) and the candidate filing date is June 1st.  But as Axios's source says, if the most prolific fundraiser in the House GOP is hanging it up, then the money people absolutely are going to shift resources to the Senate.

Ryan was the most feckless Speaker in modern history, hands down.  And he'll be remembered most for enabling Trump, and then cutting and running in two years like a punk.  He won't go down as the worst however, compared to Newt Gingrich's fall from grace, Tom DeLay who went down on money laundering and conspiracy charges (later overturned by a Texas court) and oh yeah, convicted pedophile Denny Hastert.  Hey, at least Ryan made John Boehner look competent by comparison, right?

Maybe we should stop having Republicans in charge of the House?  Just saying.

Of course there's there theory that Ryan had a comfortable lead and bailed on not only the House Speaker's gavel but the House GOP as well, and that's because he knows something massive is coming.  After all, the best way to prevent any impeachment proceedings is to remain as Speaker and prevent anything from coming to a vote.  He's only 48, the guy had years ahead of him in the House.

He's looking for the exits though.

There's more to this story.

Stay frosty.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Don't look now, but the Erik Prince/George Nader angle of the Trump collusion story just got a whole lot bigger with this astonishing piece from Erin Banco at

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is examining a series of previously unreported meetings that took place in 2017 in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, as part of its broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to two sources briefed on the investigation.

The sources said several of those meetings took place around the same time as another meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, founder of the security company Blackwater, Kirill Dmitriev, the director of one of Russia's sovereign wealth funds, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates (also known as "MBZ"). Details of that earlier meetingwere first reported by the Washington Post last year.

The sources requested to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The inquiry into the meetings in the Seychelles suggests there is growing interest on the Mueller team in whether foreign financing, specifically from Gulf states, has influenced President Trump and his administration.

The New York Times reported in March that Mueller's team questioned George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who helped broker the Seychelles meeting, about whether the Emiratis attempted to buy political influence in the White House.

That's what we knew: that Nadler and the Emiratis were the brokers and Erik Prince was Trump's point man, and that as a result Prince's sister, Betsy DeVos, got the position of Trump's Secretary of Education.  Here's what we didn't know:

Documents obtained by this reporter, and interviews with those familiar with the probe, suggest Mueller is also looking at other foreign influencers, including individuals from Russia and from Saudi Arabia.

The meetings in the Seychelles are a key component of Mueller's investigation, sources familiar with the investigation said. The meetings connect powerful players from Russia, the U.S., the UAE and Saudi Arabia across the political, financial and defense worlds. The details of what was discussed in the meetings in January and in the following months, however, are scarce.

Flight records and financial documents obtained by this reporter over twelve months, as well as interviews with parliamentary and aviation officials in the Seychelles, paint a scene out of a Hollywood thriller.

Wealthy and politically-connected individuals from across the globe -- from Russia, France, Saudi Arabia and South Africa -- land in the Seychelles for meetings that take place as a part of a larger gathering hosted by MBZ, according to an individual briefed on the matter, who also requested anonymity. Many of them fly in on private jets and several do not clear customs. Some check into the Four Seasons Hotel while others arrive and stay on their yachts.

Individuals connected to the Saudi financial system, including the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and the Arab National Bank, flew into the island the second week of January 2017, as did an aircraft purportedly owned by the former deputy minister of defense, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, fight records show. Other individuals on those aircraft held passports from Egypt and Singapore.

Dmitriev flew into the Seychelles Jan. 11, 2017 with his wife Natalia Popova and another woman with the last name Boldovskaia. Six other Russian individuals flew to the island just a few days after Dmitriev. The aircraft's ownership is unclear but it flew between Russia, Geneva and Cyprus in 2017.

Others on the island included Alexander Mashkevitch, an alleged financier of Bayrock, an investment vehicle linked to Trump, and Sheikh Abdulrahman Khalid BinMahfouz, according to flight records. BinMahfouz's father, before his death, was a billionaire and the former chairman of Saudi Arabia's first private bank.

Nader travelled to Seychelles Jan. 7, 2017 and again on March 24 on an aircraft with the tail number VP-CZA, flight records show. The aircraft is registered to Gryphon Asset Management, an aviation consulting company based out of Dubai.

Prince and Nader were putting together a series of meetings to sell the Trump regime to the highest bidder, with some of the richest people on Earth in the hunt.  These are the people Trump owes allegiance to.  It's not just Putin, but multiple people from multiple countries.

And Mueller knows it all, guys.  With the raid on Cohen, Trump is 100% exposed on this.  The scope and size involved in this influence peddling will be utterly shocking.

But will Mueller be allowed to continue at this point?  The NY Times is reporting that Trump not only tried to fire Mueller in June, but again told his advisers that Mueller had to go last December when the Mueller subpoenas of Trump-related finances from Germany's Deutsche Bank became known.

In early December, President Trump, furious over news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller’s investigation had to be shut down.

The president’s anger was fueled by reports that the subpoenas were for obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank, according to interviews with eight White House officials, people close to the president and others familiar with the episode. To Mr. Trump, the subpoenas suggested that Mr. Mueller had expanded the investigation in a way that crossed the “red line” he had set last year in an interview with The New York Times.

In the hours that followed Mr. Trump’s initial anger over the Deutsche Bank reports, his lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn about the subpoenas, and ultimately were told by Mr. Mueller’s office that the reports were not accurate, leading the president to back down

Mr. Trump’s quick conclusion that the erroneous news reports warranted firing Mr. Mueller is also an insight into Mr. Trump’s state of mind about the special counsel. Despite assurances from leading Republicans like Speaker Paul D. Ryan that the president has not thought about firing Mr. Mueller, the December episode was the second time Mr. Trump is now known to have considered taking that step. The other instance was in June, when the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, threatened to quit unless Mr. Trump stopped trying to get him to fire Mr. Mueller.

So Trump lost his marbles over this because he thought Mueller might have had the goods on him in December.  What happens now that Trump's lawyer has been raided and Trump is really, truly screwed?  Obstruction of justice doesn't matter if nobody's left to hold Trump accountable.

The Saturday Night Massacre may be on.

President Donald Trump is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, multiple people familiar with the discussions tell CNN, a move that has gained urgency following the raid of the office of the President's personal lawyer
Such an action could potentially further Trump's goal of trying to put greater limits on special counsel Robert Mueller
This is one of several options -- including going so far as to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- Trump is weighing in the aftermath of the FBI's decision Monday to raid the office of Michael Cohen, the President's personal lawyer and longtime confidant. 
Officials say if Trump acts, Rosenstein is his most likely target, but it's unclear whether even such a dramatic firing like this would be enough to satisfy the President. 
Trump has long been angry at top Justice Department officials, who he feels have not done enough to protect him from Mueller's ongoing probe. But two sources said the raid could mark a tipping point that would prompt the President to take more aggressive action against the special counsel.

All indications are that he's off his rocker at this point.  If Trump has somebody in mind to replace Rosenstein and/or Sessions, nobody knows.  Either one could fire Mueller, or simply greatly curtail the investigation.  That could maybe satisfy Trump.  I bet it won't.

Don't count on Republicans in Congress to lift a finger to protect Mueller either. They'll say that Trump won't fire him right up until it happens, then say he always had the right to do it.  The White House is already taking that stance, and Trump is meeting with GOP leaders later today to make that clear.

Stay tuned.  We're at the breaking point, and something's going to give way, but keep in mind should Mueller actually be fired, he does have the option to make public everything he's found so far.

At this point, that might be what stays Trump's hand.


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