Sunday, February 9, 2020

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham did the rounds on the Sunday shows today making it very clear what's going to happen to Trump's enemies list.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the Justice Department has created a process through which Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney, can submit information he collected in Ukraine to be vetted.

"The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of the Ukraine from Rudy," Graham, of South Carolina, said on "Face the Nation." "[Attorney General Bill Barr] told me that they have created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it's verified."
Graham, a key ally of the president's, said he spoke with Barr on Sunday morning, as well as Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican. He said they urged him to "take very cautiously" information from Ukraine against Republicans and Democrats.

"If Rudy Giuliani has any information coming out of the Ukraine, he needs to turn it over to the Department of Justice because it could be Russian propaganda," Graham said, making a stern plea for Giuliani and all U.S. politicians to be wary of that information because it "may be backed by Russian misinformation."

When pressed on whether Giuliani is being "played" by the Russians, the South Carolina senator said he didn't know.

"I'm telling Rudy, you think you've got the goods? Don't give it to me, because what do we know? We know the Russian disinformation campaign was used against President Trump. They hacked into the DNC system, not the Ukrainians, and they're on the ground all over the world trying to affect democracy," Graham said.

The Biden hearings are going to happen, and soon.  Right in the middle of the primary campaign. That's a major problem, of course.

But Graham made it much clearer last night what will happen to those involved in Trump's impeachment.

This is the part where Trump starts having people arrested.  And why not?  Who will stop him at this point?

Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Meanwhile, in Trump's America, white nationalist groups are freely marching down the streets of Washington DC with police escorts.

A march by the white nationalist group Patriot Front was done near Union Station in Washington around 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The members of Patriot Front that were marching shouted, "Reclaim America" as they moved down the streets of D.C. The group would later end their march at a Walmart in the Union Station area, as some onlookers called them cowards, said WUSA9's Mike Valerio.

Those marching wore similar long-sleeve clothing, wit hats, masks, sunglasses and American flags. They were trailed and surrounded by police officers who were there to de-escalate any issues that arose.

The group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is an image-obsessed organization that rehabilitated the explicitly fascist agenda of Vanguard America with garish patriotism.

The SPLC added that Patriot Front focuses on "theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front formed as a white nationalist hate group following the "Unite the Right" in August 2017 that left one woman dead in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This is not the first time the group has protested in Washington. According to the group's website, it was in D.C. June 2019 for remembrance of the USS Liberty on the 52nd anniversary of its attack by the State of Israel.

It's happening in our nation's capital.  Something that would have been worldwide news and universally condemned during the Obama era and unthinkable before that.  It's now a ho-hum occurrence in the Trump regime.

White masks.  Guarded by cops.  The police are used to protect the white nationalists.

This is America.  The quiet white nationalism part of this country is once again being said out loud in marches and rallies, and brown and black bodies always suffer badly in the eras where that happens.

Spoilers: the eras where that happens comprise the vast majority of this country's history.  This isn't new. This is America reverting to the historical mean.

Sunday Long Read: Follow The Funny Money, Honey

This week's Sunday Long read comes to us from the NY Times Magazine, where Dave Enrich  gives us an excerpt from his new book on the subject, Dark Towers, and the story of Donald Trump and Deutsche Bank, and a man named Mike Offit.

The roughly $425 million that Offit helped arrange for Trump back in 1998 was the start of a very long, very complicated relationship between ­Deutsche Bank and the future president. Over the course of two decades, the bank lent him more than $2 billion — so much that by the time he was elected, ­Deutsche Bank was by far his biggest creditor. Against all odds, Trump paid back most of what he owed the bank. But the relationship cemented ­Deutsche Bank’s reputation as a reckless institution willing to do business with clients nobody else would touch. And it has made the company a magnet for prosecutors, regulators and lawmakers hoping to penetrate the president’s opaque financial affairs.

Last April, congressional Democrats subpoenaed ­Deutsche Bank for its records on Trump, his family members and his businesses. The Trump family sued to block the bank from complying; after two federal courts ruled against the Trumps, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, with oral arguments expected in the spring. State prosecutors, meanwhile, are investigating the bank’s ties with Trump, too. The F.B.I. has been conducting its own wide-­ranging investigation of ­Deutsche Bank, and people connected to the bank told me they have been interviewed by special agents about aspects of the Trump relationship.

If they ever become public, the bank’s Trump records could serve as a Rosetta Stone to decode the president’s finances
. Executives told me that the bank has, or at one point had, portions of Trump’s personal federal income tax returns going back to around 2011. (Deutsche Bank lawyers told a federal court last year that the bank does not have those returns; it is unclear what happened to them. The Trump Organization did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) The bank has documents detailing the finances and operations of his businesses. And it has records about internal deliberations over whether and how to do business with Trump — a paper trail that most likely reflects some bank employees’ concerns about potentially suspicious transactions that they detected in the family’s accounts.

One reason all these files could be so illuminating is that the bank’s relationship with Trump extended well beyond making simple loans. ­Deutsche Bank managed tens of millions of dollars of Trump’s personal assets. The bank also furnished him with other services that have not previously been reported: providing sophisticated financial instruments that shielded him from risks and outside scrutiny, and making introductions to wealthy Russians who were interested in investing in Western real estate. If Trump cheated on his taxes, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If his net worth is measured in millions, not billions, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If he secretly got money from the Kremlin, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know.

Until the 1990s, ­Deutsche Bank was a provincial German company with a limited presence outside Europe. Today it is a $1.5 trillion colossus, one of the world’s largest banks, with offices in 59 countries — and, thanks to its well-­documented pattern of violating laws, an international symbol of greed, recklessness and hubris. Its rap sheet includes manipulating international currency markets; playing a central role in rigging a crucial benchmark interest rate known as Libor; whisking billions of dollars in and out of Iran, Syria, Myanmar and other countries in violation of sanctions; laundering billions of dollars on behalf of Russian oligarchs, among many others; and misleading customers, investors and American, German and British regulators.

­Deutsche Bank’s envelope-­pushing helped it become the global power player it is today, but it also left the company dangerously frail. Its books remain stuffed with trillions of dollars of risky derivatives — the sort of instruments that many other banks have disposed of since the 2008 financial crisis but that persist as a kind of unexploded ordnance in ­Deutsche Bank’s accounts, threatening to inflict severe damage on the bank and the broader financial system if something were to cause them to detonate. Its financial cushions to absorb future shocks are threadbare. Its core businesses are not performing well; the bank lost $5.8 billion last year. Because of Deutsche Bank’s size and its connections with hundreds of other major banks around the world, serious problems could spread, virus­like, to other financial institutions. The International Monetary Fund a few years ago branded ­Deutsche Bank “the most important net contributor to systemic risks” in the global banking system.
­Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Trump, rather than being an odd outlier, is a kind of object lesson in how the bank lost its way. The company was hungry for growth, especially in the United States, and it was happy to cozy up to clients that better-­established players viewed as too damaged or dangerous. Along the way, it missed one opportunity after another to extricate itself from the Trump relationship or at least slow its expansion. With hindsight, the procession of miscues and bad decisions appears almost comical.

I have spent the past two years interviewing dozens of ­Deutsche Bank executives about the Trump relationship, among other subjects. Quite a few look back at the relationship with a mixture of anger and regret. They blame a small group of bad bankers for blundering into a trap that would further damage ­Deutsche Bank’s name and guarantee years of political and prosecutorial scrutiny. But that isn’t quite right; in fact, the Trump relationship was repeatedly blessed by executives up and down the bank’s organizational ladder. The cumulative effect of those decisions is that a German company — one that most Americans have probably never heard of — played a large role in positioning a strapped businessman to become president of the United States.

Without Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump would have been a failed real estate tycoon who ended up bankrupt and broke.  He would have been a cautionary tale of greed.

Instead he is in the White House.

That alone makes them the Holy Grail of Trump's dark secrets.

Retribution Execution, Con't

When the sexual predator mob boss in the White House behaves badly and gets away with it through cover-up, his sexual predator underlings behave badly and cover up their crimes too.

The Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general is reviewing a request from a top House leader to investigate allegations that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie sought to dig up dirt on one of the congressman’s aides after she said she was sexually assaulted at VA’s Washington hospital.

The appeal late Friday from House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) came after he received information from a senior VA official, confirmed by The Washington Post, that Wilkie worked to discredit the credibility of the aide, senior policy adviser Andrea Goldstein.

Wilkie, who led the Pentagon’s vast personnel and readiness operation before his VA appointment, quietly began inquiring with military officials last fall about Goldstein’s past, according to three people with knowledge of his efforts. That is when Goldstein said a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of VA Medical Center in Washington.

Authorities closed the case in January without bringing charges.
Over several months, Wilkie shared his findings with his senior staff at morning meetings on at least six occasions, three current or former senior VA officials confirmed. Wilkie said his inquiry found that the Navy veteran, who currently serves as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer, had filed multiple complaints while in the service, according to three people with knowledge of what Wilkie said. Wilkie also served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve.

The information shared with Takano’s committee and with The Post said Wilkie was concerned with Goldstein’s “credibility and military record
.” The VA official who shared it said Wilkie described Goldstein to his staff as a “serial sexual assault/harassment complainant in the Navy who made baseless allegations, for example, when she was not satisfied with a fitness evaluation.”
“The strong inference was made that all were false allegations,” the VA official wrote. A fitness evaluation in the military is the equivalent of a civilian performance review.

In an interview with The Post, Goldstein disputed she had made numerous complaints. She said she filed a formal complaint with the Navy just once, before her experience at the VA hospital. The Post typically does not name people who report a sexual assault but Goldstein has spoken publicly about her experiences.

The information given to Takano’s committee was done anonymously, but The Post has determined it was sent by a senior VA official. The allegations were first reported by ProPublica.

Wilkie suggested to several people on his staff, including his public affairs chief, that they use the information he collected to discredit Goldstein, a current and former senior official said. They declined.

So to recap, Andrea Goldstein, policy director to the chair of the committee that oversees the VA, was allegedly sexually assaulted in the lobby of DC's VA hospital. The investigation into the assault was closed while the VA Secretary then personally tried to discredit the aide multiple times by digging up her former Navy record and tried to use it against her. There are several witnesses to the Secretary's multiple suggestions to use information to discredit Goldstein.

In any other administration, Wilkie would have resigned within hours of this story being printed.

But this is the Trump regime.  Retribution is a way of life, and it comes from the sexual criminal at the top.

And of course, the people who were supposed to stop Trump are shocked to now discover that he doesn't give a damn about what they think anymore as they no longer have anything to offer him.

A handful of Republican senators tried to stop President Trump from firing Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who testified in the House impeachment hearings, but the president relieved the diplomat of his post anyway, according to people briefed on the discussions.
The senators were concerned that it would look bad for Mr. Trump to dismiss Mr. Sondland and argued that it was unnecessary, since the ambassador was already talking with senior officials about leaving after the Senate trial, the people said. The senators told White House officials that Mr. Sondland should be allowed to depart on his own terms, which would have reduced any political backlash.

But Mr. Trump evidently was not interested in a quiet departure, choosing instead to make a point by forcing Mr. Sondland out before the ambassador was ready to go. When State Department officials called Mr. Sondland on Friday to tell him that he had to resign that day, he resisted, saying that he did not want to be included in what seemed like a larger purge of impeachment witnesses, according to the people informed about the matter.

Mr. Sondland conveyed to the State Department officials that if they wanted him gone that day, they would have to fire him. And so the president did, ordering the ambassador recalled from his post effective immediately. Mr. Sondland’s dismissal was announced just hours after another impeachment witness, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, were marched out of the White House by security officers and told their services were no longer needed.

The ousters came two days after the Republican-led Senate acquitted Mr. Trump on two articles of impeachment stemming from his effort to pressure Ukraine to incriminate Democratic rivals. Outraged Democrats called the firings a “Friday night massacre” aimed at taking revenge against government officials who had no choice but to testify under subpoena about what they knew.

Among the Republicans who warned the White House was Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who after voting to acquit Mr. Trump said she thought he had learned a lesson. Others included Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Martha McSally of Arizona and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday but a senior administration official confirmed the senators’ outreach.

And every one of these senators voted to make sure Trump they would never hold him responsible.

Hell, I don't believe these spineless clods told Trump a damn thing, because they cower in fear whenever he's around.
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