Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Last Call For The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Some good news as the Manafort/Cohen mess is now clearly benefiting the Democrats in the polls as we head into the last 60 days of the 2018 campaign, with a new WaPo/ABC News poll finding Dems with a whopping 14-point generic ballot lead, their biggest lead in this poll since 2006.

Two months ahead of the midterm elections, Democrats hold a clear advantage over Republicans in congressional vote support, with antipathy toward President Trump fueling Democratic enthusiasm, even among those in the party who stayed home four years ago, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

The survey also points to broad unrest and frustration with the political system generally. More than 6 in 10 Americans say Trump and the Republican Party are out of touch with most people in the country. While Democrats fare better, a narrower 51 percent majority also judged them out of touch.

Registered voters say they favor the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate in their district by 52 percent to 38 percent. That is a marked increase from the four-point edge in an April Post-ABC poll but similar to the 12-point advantage Democrats enjoyed in January.

The models I've seen put the Dems at a 70-75% chance of winning the House, but that was where Clinton was in September of 2016, too.  Take nothing for granted.

The poll says that 75% of registered voters are certain to vote, and we know for a fact that in a midterm year, that percentage will be closer to 40%, with 50% being near-record turnout that would get the Dems a blue tsunami.  That could happen, frankly.

But I'm not holding my breath.  Still, get out there, knock on doors, phone bank, meet people where you live and get them to vote.  I know there's not a lot of hope for me to get rid of Thomas Massie anytime soon, but next door in OH-1, sending GOP Rep. Steve Chabot back to the bench is absolutely doable with Democrat Aftab Pureval.

Where you live, help people vote blue.

Trump Cards, Con't

Legendary Watergate reporter Bob Woodward's book on the Trump regime will be out next week, and the excerpts of it are heart-stopping.  Donald Trump is so singularly unfit for office that replacing the congressional supporters has to be our top priority in 2018 and if that's not enough, replacing Trump in 2020.

A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.

At a dinner with Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, Trump lashed out at a vocal critic, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He falsely suggested that the former Navy pilot had been a coward for taking early release from a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam because of his father’s military rank and leaving others behind.

Mattis swiftly corrected his boss: “No, Mr. President, I think you’ve got it reversed.” The defense secretary explained that McCain, who died Aug. 25, had in fact turned down early release and was brutally tortured during his five years at the Hanoi Hilton.

“Oh, okay,” Trump replied, according to Woodward’s account.

With Trump’s rage and defiance impossible to contain, Cabinet members and other senior officials learned to act discreetly. Woodward describes an alliance among Trump’s traditionalists — including Mattis and Gary Cohn, the president’s former top economic adviser — to stymie what they considered dangerous acts.

“It felt like we were walking along the edge of the cliff perpetually,” Porter is quoted as saying. “Other times, we would fall over the edge, and an action would be taken.”

After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered

I mean, Trump wanted to assassinate Bashar Al-Assad.  Mattis didn't do it.

One of them needs to resign before the week is out, and both of them should.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

I've previously talked about the three aspects of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian probe into the Trump regime: the Trump campaign working with benefit of Russian help, Trump's long history of money laundering, and the obstruction of justice to cover both up.  Today we're talking about the second aspect, specifically Russia's money laundering ties to international banks.

I've previously mentioned Cyprus as a long-time haven for Russian money laundering operations and the sordid history of Trump's Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, who was the former Vice Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus.  But now we've discovered another major Russian money laundering outlet, this time through Denmark by way of Estonia.

An independent investigation into the money-laundering scandal at Danske Bank found that as much as $30bn of Russian and ex-Soviet money flowed through its Estonian branch in a single year.
The findings, contained in a draft report commissioned by Denmark’s largest bank and seen by the Financial Times, raises questions for Danske’s leadership about who knew, and when, about the sheer volume of foreign money passing through its small Estonian branch.

The report by Promontory Financial, the consultancy, found that up to $30bn was parked in Danske’s Estonian branch by non-residents in 2013, the peak year of a scandal that lasted from 2007 until 2015.

“NRP [non-resident portfolio] transaction volume peaked in 2013 with the number of transactions approaching 80,000 that year, and the transaction volume approaching $30bn,” the independent findings, seen by the Financial Times, stated.

One person close to the investigation said: “It’s a truly breathtaking amount for such a small branch. You can’t have that amount flowing through without it raising questions.”

And Danske Bank has been totally flat-footed by this.  They're on the hook for billions in fines, and they don't have the money to pay for it.

Danske Bank A/S says it hasn’t put any money aside to cover potential fines, or other losses, linked to its alleged role in the laundering of billions of dollars over several years.

“We can never tell for sure, obviously, but what we can tell is that we’ve made the assessment and that we’ve concluded there is no basis for making any provisions,” Morten Mosegaard, interim chief financial officer and chief of staff at Denmark’s biggest bank, said in an interview.

The Copenhagen-based lender is the target of criminal investigations for laundering in Denmark and Estonia amid allegations that more than $9 billion in illicit funds from Russia, Azerbaijan and Moldova flowed through its office in Tallinn. Danske has earmarked about 1.5 billion kroner, or $230 million, as what it’s calling a donation to society in an effort to address public indignation.

“We have been pretty precise in letting the market know that this is the full scope of gross income [from the Estonian unit] and then we’re making the assessment at this point in time,” Mosegaard said. “We can’t comment on that until we get to the point where we can make a general disclosure.”

You'd better believe that Robert Mueller's team and the NY Attorney General's office are taking a long, hard look at Danske Bank and its Russian clients.

And possibly some American clients as well.

Stay tuned.


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