Monday, August 20, 2018

Last Call For Trump's Race To The Bottom, Con't

The Trump regime keeps having to fire WH people for being speakers at white supremacist conference events, and I'd wonder why they were hired in the first place but it's pretty clear at this point that hiring speakers at white supremacist conference events is a stated goal of the regime, as long as the press doesn't find out.

A White House speechwriter for President Trump was terminated last week after revelations that he had spoken at a conference attended by well-known white nationalists, according to three people familiar with the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Darren Beattie, who was a visiting instructor at Duke University before he joined the White House speechwriting team, was fired Friday after a media inquiry about his appearance at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club conference, where Beattie spoke on a panel alongside Peter Brimelow.

Brimelow, founder of the anti-immigrant website, is a “white nationalist” and “regularly publishes works by white supremacists, anti-Semites, and others on the radical right,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks extremists.
Earlier this year, Brimelow described himself as a believer in “racial nationalism” who sees the future of the United States “precipitating out on racial lines.”

CNN’s KFile, an investigative unit, published a report Sunday on Beattie and his appearance at the Mencken event, which has been attended in the past by white nationalist Richard Spencer. Spencer is a prominent figure in the “alt-right,” a movement whose adherents are known for espousing racist, sexist and anti-Semitic points of view.

Once White House officials were informed about CNN’s pending report, Beattie reportedly was confronted and urged to step down immediately. But he apparently refused to resign, arguing that he was not racist and that he had made uncontroversial academic points at the Mencken gathering. When it became clear that Beattie would not resign, the people familiar with the matter said, the White House terminated him.

It's weird how the Trump regime has such terrible vetting procedures.  You would think "Hey maybe we should check to see if the people we hire ever were panelists at Mencken Club" might be something they'd look for, but I guess that's not a big deal until CNN finds out about it.

Prince Of Darkness, Con't

Our old friend Erik Prince is back, as America's favorite mercenary warlord is once again pushing his plan to privatize the Forever War with Afghanistan, something guaranteed to made Prince and his family tens of billions of dollars but I'm betting nothing will come of it.

President Donald Trump is increasingly venting frustration to his national security team about the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and showing renewed interest in a proposal by Blackwater founder Erik Prince to privatize the war, current and former senior administration officials said.

Prince's idea, which first surfaced last year during the president's Afghanistan strategy review, envisions replacing troops with private military contractors who would work for a special U.S. envoy for the war who would report directly to the president.

It has raised ethical and security concerns among senior military officials, key lawmakers and members of Trump's national security team. A year after Trump's strategy announcement, his advisers are worried his impatience with the Afghanistan conflict will cause him to seriously consider proposals like Prince's or abruptly order a complete U.S. withdrawal, officials said.

In an interview with NBC News, Prince said he believes Trump advisers who oppose his plan are painting "as rosy a picture as they can" of the situation on the ground, including that "peace is around the corner" with recent U.S. efforts for peace talks with the Taliban. He said he believes Trump's advisers "over-emphasize the fluff and flare of these so-called peace talks."

Prince, a staunch Trump supporter whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, argues that after 17 years of war in Afghanistan, it's time for the U.S. to try something new.

"I know he's frustrated," Prince said of the president. "He gave the Pentagon what they wanted. ...And they haven't delivered."

Prince said he hasn't spoken directly to Trump about the plan, but told NBC News he plans to launch an aggressive media "air campaign" in coming days to try to get the president to embrace it.

His effort coincides with Tuesday's one-year anniversary of Trump announcing a strategy that increased the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Trump approved the Pentagon recommendations reluctantly.

Prince wants to sell Trump a big win ahead of the midterms, and as I mentioned before, Prince has been pushing Trump down this path for some time now.  Of course, one of the major problems is that Prince is neck deep in Trump's foreign campaign money laundering and that Robert Mueller has cooperating witnesses that put Prince as Trump's point man at meetings in Seychelles in 2016. As a result, Prince himself is now cooperating with Mueller.

Somehow I don't think Donald Trump is going to look kindly upon that and want to work with Prince.  Just sayin.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

The hammer is about to fall on former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, big time, as the criminal investigation gets one major step closer to Trump himself.

Federal authorities investigating whether President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, committed bank and tax fraud have zeroed in on well over $20 million in loans obtained by taxi businesses that he and his family own, according to people familiar with the matter.

Investigators are also examining whether Mr. Cohen violated campaign finance or other laws by helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The inquiry has entered the final stage and prosecutors are considering filing charges by the end of August, two of the people said.

Any criminal charges against Mr. Cohen would deal a significant blow to the president. Mr. Cohen, 52, worked for the president’s company, the Trump Organization, for more than a decade. He was one of Mr. Trump’s most loyal and visible aides and called himself the president’s personal lawyer after Mr. Trump took office.

The bank loans under scrutiny, the total of which has not been previously reported, came from two financial institutions in the New York region that have catered to the taxi industry, Sterling National Bank and the Melrose Credit Union, according to business records and people with knowledge of the matter, including a banker who reviewed the transactions.

Federal investigators in New York are seeking to determine whether Mr. Cohen misrepresented the value of his assets to obtain the loans, which exceed $20 million.

They are also examining how he handled the income from his taxi medallions and whether he failed to report it to the Internal Revenue Service.

Cohen is about to have supreme motivation to cooperate with Robert Mueller.

At this late stage of the inquiry, it is still possible that Mr. Cohen may plead guilty rather than face an indictment. He has hinted publicly and has stated explicitly in private that he is eager to tell prosecutors what he knows in exchange for leniency.

A cooperation agreement would likely include a provision that Mr. Cohen also provide information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating possible involvement by the Trump campaign in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

It is unclear whether the prosecutors and Mr. Cohen’s lawyers have had detailed discussions about a potential cooperation deal, but it is unlikely that the government would bring charges without having done so.

But if a plea deal is not reached, either because Mr. Cohen and prosecutors cannot agree on the terms or because prosecutors determine he does not have valuable information or is not credible, the government would likely seek to bring charges well before the midterm elections.

If the matter is not finalized by the end of August, prosecutors probably will wait until after the election
, one of the people familiar with the inquiry said in recent weeks. That schedule would conform with the Justice Department’s informal policy of avoiding bringing politically sensitive cases that could influence voters close to an election.

In other words, the plea deal door closes for Cohen in two weeks.  The fact that Cohen has basically been off the radar over the month of August makes me think "the matter" is "being finalized" as we speak.  The article makes it clear there's two scenarios: Cohen gets charged before Labor Day, or he cooperates (and the Mueller team has bonus "we can't comment on this" plausible deniability due to the Justice Department guidelines on political cases before an election.)

We'll see which one Cohen chooses.  It's possible at this point in the game, he doesn't have anything novel to offer Mueller, and he gets crushed before the month is out, too.

My gut says he cooperates.


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