Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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

There's a number of developments today to review in the ongoing Trump/Russia probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and it starts with our old friend Erik "of Darkness" Prince and his interview with Daily Beast reporter Betsy Woodruff.

[Woodruff]There’s been a lot of reporting that Mueller’s interested in some of the meetings you had in the lead-up to the campaign and after the election and I was just wondering if you could tell me if you’ve heard from anyone on Mueller’s team? 
[Prince]I certainly understand the intense interest in the investigation and certainly some of the wild-eyed reporting in the media. I have spoken voluntarily to Congress and I also cooperated with the special counsel. I have plenty of opinions about the various investigations but there’s no question some people are taking it seriously and I think it’s best to keep my opinion on that to myself for now. All I will add is that much of the reporting about me in the media is inaccurate, and I am confident that when the investigators have finished their work, we will be able to put these distractions to the side.

[W]You told the House intelligence committee that the Seychelles meeting [with Dmitriev] was unplanned, but ABC reported that George Nader briefed you on it beforehand. What do you make of that ABC reporting? 
[P]All I can say is, there’s been a lot of media reporting about me over the years and most of it is wrong. They get it wrong way more than they ever get it right. 
[W]What do you think the United States’ posture toward Russia should be? Do you support the president’s rhetoric about trying to thaw that relationship? 
[P]Absolutely. As I’ve said before, if Franklin Roosevelt can work with Joseph Stalin to defeat German fascism, Nazi fascism, national socialist fascism, then certainly Donald Trump can work with Putin to defeat Islamic fascism. And I think good statesmanship could even start to drive a wedge between Russian policy and Iran policy because we can disagree vehemently on their policy in Ukraine but we don’t have to be, certainly, their enemy in the Middle East. And even from a NATO perspective, I mean look, remember, 400,000 Americans died in World War II. Twenty-two million Russians died breaking the Nazi army. And from a Russian perspective, there are more unfriendly nations aligned on their borders now than at any time since May of 1940. So I don’t think we have to be provocative with NATO and I think it’s a good idea for the president to reach out diplomatically. I mean for heaven’s sakes, he’s sitting down and talking to Kim of North Korea. Putin is a much more rational actor and I think it’s totally appropriate for the president to sit down and try to thaw the situation.

Two things here:  Prince happily talked to both Mueller and Congress, and he's still convinced he's untouchable to the point of being fully available to advise the regime on coming military matters.  Nice guy.  Would hate for that notion to be disabused by a couple dozen US Marshals.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani now doing a 180 on calling for Mueller's head from last week.

President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said on Monday that he was actually just bluffing last week when he called for Justice Department leaders to suspend special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation within 24 hours. 
“I didn’t think it would,” Giuliani told POLITICO with a laugh when asked about the Mueller inquiry’s still being very much an active investigation. “But I still think it should be.”

So, apparently somebody had a nice long conversation with Rudy about his antics over the last week or so and is reining him in.  Whether it's Trump himself or somebody on his behalf I don't know, but the lesson to learn here is not to take anything Giuliani says at face value anymore, not that it should have happened in the first place.

That doesn't however mean that all of Trump's mouthpieces are easing off the Mueller probe, far from it as a matter of fact as the WSJ 's Bill McGurn is calling for Rod Rosenstein's head, as well as the head of Trump FBI Director Chris Wray.  It's a bit incongruous I know, but that's the Trump regime for you.  Hell, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale is calling for Jeff Sessions's head along with Mueller.  These guys still want blood.

However, there's yet another piece of the money laundering/real estate puzzle in the Trump/Russia probe that has come to light this week as McClatchy's Anita Kumar explains.

Aleksandr Burman, a Ukrainian who engaged in a health care scheme that cost the federal government $26 million and was sentenced to a decade in prison, paid $725,000 cash for a condo at a Trump Tower I in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. in 2009. 
Leonid Zeldovich, who has reportedly done extensive business in the Russian-annexed area of Crimea, bought four Trump units outright at a cost of more than $4.35 million, three of them in New York City between 2007 and 2010. 
And Igor Romashov, who served as chairman of the board of Transoil, a Russian oil transport company subject to U.S. sanctions, paid $620,000 upfront for a unit at a building adorned with the future U.S. president's name in Sunny Isles Beach in 2010. 
Buyers connected to Russia or former Soviet republics made 86 all-cash sales — totaling nearly $109 million — at 10 Trump-branded properties in south Florida and New York City, according to a new analysis shared with McClatchy. Many of them made purchases using shell companies designed to obscure their identities.

Once again, buying real estate properties in all-cash sales through shell companies is classic, classic money laundering 101.  Russian buyers purchased more than $100 million in Trump real estate with cash in this way.  This isn't the first time we've heard of this happening with Trump's real estate assets, but the fact that this keeps coming up should be setting off major alarm bells that Trump and his sleazy family have been engaging with criminal activity with Putin and the Russians long before the 2016 election.

Mueller's on it, believe me.

Immigration Nation, Con't

Deanna Paul at the Washington Post buries the lede all the way until the last paragraph, but Trump Regime Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it clear Monday that the regime will continue to take migrant and asylum-seeking families crossing the Mexico border and put their kids in cages until Trump gets what he wants from Congress.

As protesters gathered outside the convention hall where Sessions was addressing the National Sheriffs' Association in New Orleans, Sessions gave the game away:

According to Sessions, policies of the past eight years led law enforcement to begin arresting people who crossed the border illegally, yet gave effective immunity from prosecution to anyone who also brought a child. “Word got out about this loophole and the results were predictable: The number of aliens illegally crossing with children went from 14,000 to 75,000 in just four years. A fivefold increase,” Sessions said. 
Sessions said that this could not continue, in part, because of the “enormous cost” incurred by the government and the “enormous burden” on law enforcement, schools and hospitals. 
As Sessions defended his “zero-tolerance” policy, the chanting group outside the NOLA convention center grew. Demonstrators filled the sidewalks and blocked the streets. One woman was struck by a vehicle, and five people were arrested, according to WWL-TV, a local CBS affiliate. Protesters demanded that families be kept together and held signs: “Immigration detention centers are concentration camps for kids” and “Cage Jeff Sessions.” Some demonstrators, who came close to fighting local law enforcement, as seen in a video published by WWL, pushed against police and deputies guarding the building, bearing a banner that read, “Criminalizing our community,” according to one video. Other people displayed posters that read: “Imagine your children in a cage” and “Love has no border.” 
Although the federal government, according to Sessions, does not want to separate parents from their children, it does not want adults to bring children into the country unlawfully or place those children at risk, either. Thousands of unaccompanied minors have also crossed the borders, which, according to Sessions, has led to the resurgence of the MS-13 gang. 
President Trump wants to bring down crime and make this country safer, said Sessions, who says that’s what he’s doing. 
If we build a wall, if we pass a legislation, if we close a loophole, we won’t face these terrible choices,” he said, adding that Trump will not allow this lawlessness to continue.

And there we have it.

You have to admit, this cartoonish level of inchoate evil is pretty effective.  The Trump regime is willing to use kids in cages to attack Democrats, but even Republicans aren't buying it when all parties know full well Trump's executive orders are solely responsible for the forcible separation of children from their families and putting them in internment camps.

Republicans know damn well that this is bad for them too, and that this is direct retaliation for House Republicans working with Democrats to force a vote on several immigration bills that don't meet Trump's standards.  He's not going to allow those bills to move forward, and he's willing to go this far in order to ensure that doesn't happen.

It's possible that Trump's plan if things get too hot for him is to use Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as a disposable lightning rod in order to take the damage, but at this point all the living former first ladies from both parties are scorching Trump over this, including Laura Bush.  I don't see how this doesn't become the issue the Democrats need to win and win big in November, especially since the Trump regime is promising to make things even worse.

Top aides to President Donald Trump are planning additional crackdowns on immigration before the November midterms, despite a growing backlash over the administration’s move to separate migrant children from parents at the border
Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and a team of officials from the departments of Justice, Labor, Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget have been quietly meeting for months to find ways to use executive authority and under-the-radar rule changes to strengthen hard-line U.S. immigration policies, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House.

The goal for Miller and his team is to arm Trump with enough data and statistics by early September to show voters that he fulfilled his immigration promises — even without a border wall or any other congressional measure, said one Republican close to the White House. 
Among the fresh ideas being circulated: tightening rules on student visas and exchange programs; limiting visas for temporary agricultural workers; making it harder for legal immigrants who have applied for welfare programs to obtain residency; and collecting biometric data from visitors from certain countries. 
Details of the ideas are still being worked out, one White House official said. 
In one of the most closely watched plans under discussion, DHS has proposed a new rule that former Obama administration officials and immigration advocates worry could be used as an end run around a 1997 court settlement that limits the time migrant children can be kept in government custody. Putting a formal government rule in place, lawyers and advocates say, could in effect supersede the settlement, allowing the administration to get rid of it altogether by dropping the rule a year or two later. 
Once you rescind that regulation, then you go back to being able to do whatever you want and the detention becomes the complete discretion of ICE,” said Leon Fresco, former deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Immigration Litigation at the Department of Justice. “That is where people think this is headed.”

To recap, Stephen Miller and his merry band of white supremacist dudebros are happily planning indefinite detention camps for kids crossing the border as a deterrent to both people inside and outside the US.  This is of course on top of Jeff Sessions and the Trump regime's plans to effectively end legal immigration as well as plans to target naturalized citizens for deportation.  This has been planned out from the beginning, guys.

The partnership between Mr. Sessions and Mr. Miller began in 2009, when Mr. Miller, a conservative rabble rouser and contrarian who emerged from the left-leaning Santa Monica, became a spokesman for the senator. He sported sideburns and skinny ties as he often delivered long and passionate lectures to reporters, and anyone else who would listen, about the dangers of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. 
Mr. Sessions, 71, had strong views shaped by his experience as a young politician in rural Alabama, where he saw immigrants take jobs at a poultry plant away from poor, unskilled Americans. 
During more than a decade as a federal prosecutor and state attorney general, and 20 years in the Senate, Mr. Sessions came to believe that immigrants, whether here legally or illegally, posed a direct threat to the country by depressing wages, committing crimes and competing for welfare benefits. He was deeply influenced by the work of George Borjas, a Harvard economist who has said that immigrants have an adverse impact on the economy. 
Mr. Miller, 32, had gone from California to Duke University. While a student, he met David Horowitz, a right-wing provocateur and the founder of Students for Academic Freedom, which opposed progressive thought on college campuses. After Mr. Miller graduated, Mr. Horowitz helped him get a job with Michele Bachmann, then a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, and recommended him highly to Mr. Sessions. 
Together Mr. Miller and Mr. Sessions often drew on the work of anti-immigration groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies — some of which are derided as hate groups by immigration activists and civil rights organizations. 
The Southern Policy Law Center, which tracks white nationalists and other hate groups, describes FAIR as having “a veneer of legitimacy” that “hides much ugliness.” 
By 2013, Stephen K. Bannon, then the head of Breitbart News, invited Mr. Miller and Mr. Sessions to a dinner at the Capitol Hill townhouse that served as the headquarters for the conservative news outlet. The three bonded over an article titled “The Case of the Missing White Voters,” foreshadowing the case they would help Mr. Trump build during his presidential campaign.

These guys are absolute evil, and frankly I'm tired of them running this country.  I would think you guys are too.

Shutting Off The Leaks

The Trump regie's relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange has taken a decidedly sour turn now that our old buddy Vlad is using them to keep Trump in line, and Trump has decided that the "deep state" is useful to him after all when it serves his purposes.

Federal prosecutors charged a former CIA employee Monday with violations of the Espionage Act and related crimes in connection with the leak last year of a collection of hacking tools that the agency used for spy operations overseas.

Joshua Adam Schulte, who worked for a CIA group that designs computer code to spy on foreign adversaries, was charged in a 13-count superseding indictment with illegally gathering and transmitting national defense information and related counts in connection with what is considered to be one of the most significant leaks in CIA history.

The indictment accused Schulte of causing sensitive information to be transmitted to an organization that is not named in the indictment but is thought to be WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks posted the hacking tools online last year in a release it called “Vault 7.” Prosecutors alleged Schulte stole the information in 2016.

Schulte had long been a suspect of investigators exploring the leak, but before Monday, he had been held on separate child pornography charges. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement that investigators looking into Schulte found the pornography in his residence. His personal computer, federal prosecutors alleged, held more than 10,000 images and videos of such material, protected under three layers of passwords.

Schulte was arrested on charges stemming from the porn in August 2017.

“As alleged, Schulte utterly betrayed this nation and downright violated his victims,” William F. Sweeney Jr., the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in a statement. “As an employee of the CIA, Schulte took an oath to protect this country, but he blatantly endangered it by the transmission of Classified Information. To further endanger those around him, Schulte allegedly received, possessed, and transmitted thousands of child pornographic photos and videos.”

An attorney for Schulte did not respond to an email seeking comment Monday night. In a statement reviewed by The Washington Post previously, Schulte claimed that he reported “incompetent management and bureaucracy” at the CIA to the agency’s inspector general and to a congressional oversight committee. He asserted that cast him as disgruntled and that when he left the CIA, he became a suspect in the leak as “the only one to have recently departed [the CIA engineering group] on poor terms.”

The indictment accuses Schulte, 29, of exceeding his authorized access to CIA computer systems and altering systems to delete records of his activities and deny others access. Added together, the charges against him carry a statutory maximum penalty of 135 years in prison. Some officials have compared the leak of which he is accused to that of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who also revealed details about U.S. capabilities to spy on computers and phones around the world.

I've talked about WikiLeaks extensively on ZVTS as well as Julian Assange and their involvement with Russia as Putin's information clearing house, and how Russia has been yanking the strings of the website since Ed Snowden took his treasure trove to Moscow.

These guys were an integral part of Russia's operation to attack the 2016 US elections and help Donald Trump, and it worked better than anyone in Moscow could have hoped.  Now that WikiLeaks is a potential liability to Trump, or rather, now that Trump realizes that WikiLeaks was always going to be used against him by Putin, Trump is having the CIA go after the leakers.

We'll see where this goes, but my guess is that Schulte has already caused extensive damage to the CIA, meaning that both the NSA and CIA have been fatally compromised in the last several years, and Russia has reaped the benefit.  Like it or not, Putin has been holding all the cards on our counterintelligence services for quite some time now, and he has the Oval Office to boot.

Trump will at least go far enough to try to protect himself from WikiLeaks, but there's no way we can expect the US government to fix the massive Russian damage to the country with Trump at the helm.


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