Monday, May 18, 2020

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

The Trump regime purge of various executive agency inspectors general continued over the weekend with the announcement that Trump was giving State Department IG Steve Linick his 30-day notice, but as Greg Sargent reports, Linick's ouster appears to be especially corrupt.

House Democrats have discovered that the fired IG had mostly completed an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s widely criticized decision to skirt Congress with an emergency declaration to approve billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year, aides on the Foreign Affairs Committee tell me.

“I have learned that there may be another reason for Mr. Linick’s firing,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement sent to me. “His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia.”
Committee Democrats have also learned that the State Department was recently briefed on the IG’s conclusions in that investigation, aides say. They do not know what role this investigation — and its conclusions — played in Linick’s removal, if any.

But the committee is now trying to establish what those conclusions were and what links they might have to the firing, the aides confirm.

“We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” Engel said in the statement to me.

The White House has confirmed Linick’s firing came at Pompeo’s request. Trump claimed he no longer has “confidence” in Linick, a thin justification that highlights Trump’s purging of officials exercising oversight on his administration.

Many news organizations have reported that the fired IG had been examining charges that Pompeo had been directing a staffer to run errands for him. Some reported that Pompeo has undertaken abuses of taxpayer funds, including frequent visits to his home state of Kansas. It’s unclear whether these are linked to Linick’s firing.

But the fact that Linick has also mostly completed an investigation into the decision to fast-track arms to the Saudis adds another layer to this whole story.

Pompeo is corrupt as hell, so he had Trump fire the person investigating him. It really doesn't get much more blatant than "firing the cop looking into your illegal stuff" but again, this doesn't even make the Top Ten Trump Regime Scandals List™ overall.

Old enough to remember the Iran-Contra hearings over less than this.

Still, Pompeo should definitely be made to resign.  Of course, this entire regime should, starting with Trump.

That won't happen.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Former Obama State Department Ukraine expert (and current NY-17 House candidate) Evelyn Farkas reminds us in a NY Times op-ed piece that Russia is still very much interfering in the 2020 election as we speak, and the Trump regime is not only refusing to stop them, but they are actively using their successful 2016 tactics to suppress voting in November.

In President Vladimir Putin’s Russia, disinformation and intimidation tactics are commonly used to silence domestic opposition. (So is murder.) False allegations, followed by contradictory, also false, narratives are the norm in Russian media and political discourse. Misinformation is so prevalent that many Russians are largely indifferent to what is actually true. In Trump’s America, similar tactics are taking hold. What began as a disconcerting nexus between Russia and the reactionary right in this and other countries has become part of the American right-wing repertoire.

I sounded the alarm early regarding ties between Trump, his advisers, and Kremlin officials and cronies. During an interview on MSNBC in March 2017, I said that I knew there was more to the story when media reports and statements by Obama administration officials and the intelligence community began unearthing connections between Trump’s campaign and Russia. I drew conclusions based on my expertise about Kremlin policy and operations, and my analysis of Trump campaign actions and conversations.

Attacks against me came first on Twitter and other social media platforms, from far-right sources. Forensics data I was shown suggested at least one entity had Russian ties. The attacks increased in quantity and ferocity until Fox News and Trump-allied Republicans — higher-profile, and more mainstream, sources — also criticized me. They and other conservative outlets accused me of leaking classified information and even wiretapping Trump Tower, allegations that distracted attention from growing evidence supporting my point. I and colleagues from the Obama administration were summoned to testify before the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee.

Transcripts from that 2017 testimony were released this month. My testimony demonstrated that I had not leaked intelligence and that my early intuition about Trump-Kremlin cooperation was valid, as the findings of the Mueller report and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recently released conclusions reinforce.

Right-wing figures swiftly launched another disinformation campaign: claiming that I said on television that I had access to classified information to inform my concerns about Trump-Russia connections. I had said no so such thing, but this new fabrication supported allegations that the recently released testimony demonstrated I had lied on TV. This audacious, false accusation is so convoluted I have trouble following it — and that’s the point.

Trump surrogates, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson have essentially accused me of treason for being one of the “fraudulent originators” of the “Russia hoax.” These attacks are part of Trump’s larger “Obamagate” allegations, a narrative that distracts attention from his administration’s disastrous pandemic response and attempts to deflect blame for Russian interference onto the Obama administration. This disinformation campaign seeks to color as illegal the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent and investigate Russia’s actions.

These high-profile accusations have been accompanied by a tsunami of online troll attacks targeting my congressional campaign. Our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, email, and phone lines have been overwhelmed with a stream of vile, vulgar and sometimes violent messages, emotionally exhausting staff and volunteers. As our team interacts with supporters online, the attacks spread to them. These intimidation efforts have compromised our work, incentivizing people to keep a low profile at a time when our campaign depends on robust public messaging ahead of the June 23 primary.

There is evidence that Russian actors are contributing to these attacks. The same day that right-wing pundits began pumping accusations, newly created Russian Twitter accounts picked them up. Within a day, Russian “disinformation clearinghouses” posted versions of the story. Many of the Twitter accounts boosting attacks have posted in unison, a sign of inauthentic social media behavior.

Here’s the truth: I wasn’t silenced in 2017, and I won’t be silenced now.

Fargas is yet another victim of the right wing noise machine, and the calls for her arrest (and worse) have been very loud over the last month.  Luckily, she has the expertise and knowledge to defend herself.

Not everyone is that lucky though.  The fact remains that the Russian tactics worked extremely well in 2016, and they will almost certainly work again.

With open help from Trump and the GOP.

Working Nine To Fraud

A group of international fraudsters appears to have mounted an immense, sophisticated attack on U.S. unemployment systems, creating a network that has already siphoned millions of dollars in payments that were intended to avert an economic collapse,
according to federal authorities.

The attackers have used detailed information about U.S. citizens, such as social security numbers that may have been obtained from cyber hacks of years past, to file claims on behalf of people who have not been laid off, officials said. The attack has exploited state unemployment systems at a time when they are straining to process a crush of claims from an employment crisis unmatched since the Great Depression.

With many states rushing to pay claims, payments have gone straight to direct-deposit accounts. In Washington State, the agency tasked with managing unemployment claims there began realizing the extent of the problem in recent days when still-employed people called to question why they had received confirmation paperwork in the mail.

“This is a gut punch,” said Suzi LeVine, the commissioner of Washington State’s Employment Security Department.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, investigators from the U.S. Secret Service said they had information suggesting that the scheme was coming from a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring and could result in “potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” Roy Dotson, a special agent who specializes in financial fraud at the Secret Service, said in an interview investigators were still working to pinpoint who was involved and exactly where they were.

”We are actively running down every lead we are getting,” Mr. Dotson said.

Mr. Dotson said it appeared the fraud was being aided by a substantial number of “mules” — people, often in the United States, who are used as intermediaries for money laundering after making connections with fraudsters online. He warned people to be wary of quick-money job offers or other suspicious financial arrangements.

The Secret Service memo said Washington State had emerged as the primary target thus far, but there was also evidence of attacks in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming. The agency warned that every state was vulnerable and could be targeted, noting that the attackers appeared to have extensive records of personally identifiable information, or P.I.I.

“It is assumed the fraud ring behind this possess a substantial P.I.I. database to submit the volume of applications observed thus far,” the memo said.

State unemployment systems were never designed to handle 35 million applications in two months.  This was done in all 50 states by choice, this was done in states like Florida to make the system so antiquated on purpose that it actively discouraged people from applying at all.

Of course there was going to be fraud, and this is going to be one of the big reasons Republicans will use to say that we can't have any more money to help the unemployed.


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