Page 100 of 101 FirstFirst ... 5090979899100101 LastLast
Results 991 to 1,000 of 1004

Thread: USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!

  1. #991

    Default Hilary Frame-Up?

    Cliff, thanks for the prompt input on the above theory.

    The Watergate burglars may have found evidence of criminality at the DNC Watergate office. Doesn't matter. Nixon was never allowed to raise the merits of what was found at Watergate. The break-in was judged as criminal. Truth was no defense.

    Trump is being accused of meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hilary. Trump is not being allowed to raise the truth in the dirt as a defense. If he colluded with Russians, his enemies say, whether he got true dirt or false dirt is, to them, irrelevant.

    Maybe someone has seen evidence of whether Hilary ACTUALLY AUTHORIZED the Christopher Steele activities? The money for Steele apparently came out of her campaign via Fusion GPS. I can't believe Hilary would have authorized a scheme like this.

    And if Hilary authorized and paid for Steele's work, THEN SHE GOT WHAT SHE PAID FOR. WHY, THEN, DIDN'T SHE USE IT? You would have to believe she took a hideous risk, got the results she was seeking, and then didn't use it!!??!!??

    It looks like Christopher Steele, acting like the UK Intel mole that he was (one of several UK moles in this), snuggled up to fusion GPS to create a link to the Hilary Campaign, foreign intelligence and Russia. If Hilary were elected, she (like Nixon and Trump) would have had a tough time dealing with the consequent investigation. She would surely have had to do stuff in her own defense which would be considered obstructive and interference in an investigation. Her campaign workers would have flipped, etc. etc.

    When you think about it, all of this mess would have been a much bigger Albatross around Hilary's neck than it is for Trump, since her campaign has been proven to be involved. I don't see how there is any question about this uncontrovertable fact.

    And we know that Comey wanted HILARY DEFEATED because of his 11th hour announcement about the Hilary "investigation" just prior to the election. The FBI may dislike Trump, but their aversion to Hilary seems to have been ten times worse.

    And that makes sense, since the Deep State is quasi-fascist and obviously doesn't like anything or anyone smacking of Liberalism. (Look at the openly anti-socialist Deep State campaign against the government of Venezuela today).

    James Lateer

  2. #992

    Default

    Search form

    Search








    Published on
    Monday, May 21, 2018


    by
    Common Dreams

    As Trump-North Korea Talks Falter, South Korea Says 'Landmine' John Bolton to Blame

    One American analyst reportedly said "only half in jest" that South Koreans despise Bolton as much as North Koreans do




    by
    Jake Johnson,



    Ch
    acterizing U.S. national security adviser John Bolton as a human "landmine," a South Korean lawmaker has reportedly joined others who have made clear their belief that Bolton is the true culprit behind faltering diplomatic efforts ahead of a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month.

    "There are several land mines on the way to the summit between North Korea and the U.S. One of those land mines just exploded: John Bolton."
    —Chung Dong-young, South Korean lawmaker
    "There are several landmines on the way to the summit between North Korea and the U.S.," South Korean lawmaker Chung Dong-young told a Seoul-based radio show, according to the Washington Post. "One of those landmines just exploded: John Bolton."
    In a Facebook post last week, Woo Sang-ho—a lawmaker in South Korean President Moon Jae-in's Democratic Party—expressed a similar view, highlighting Bolton's "preposterous" invocation of the "Libya model" as a possible guide for America's approach to nuclear talks with North Korea.
    The South Korean lawmakers' comments on Bolton come as Moon is set to meet with Trump at the White House on Tuesday to help "shore up plans for a U.S.-North Korea summit that seem to be on shaky ground."
    As Common Dreams reported, North Korea has condemned Bolton and his "Libya model" remarks last week as a "sinister" regime change threat in a statement last week.
    "We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him," said Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs. "We are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-U.S. summit meeting."
    Bolton has a long history of calling for both regime change and a U.S. first strike on North Korea, warmongering that led Pyongyang to call him a "bloodsucker" when he was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
    As the Washington Post's Anna Fifield notes, South Korean lawmakers and officials also "know the current American national security adviser's background all too well."
    "Many served under pro-engagement president Roh Moo-hyun, at a time when Bolton was a strong proponent inside the George W. Bush administration of the invasion of Iraq and of regime change in North Korea," Fifield adds. "After meetings with top officials [in Seoul] last week, one American analyst remarked—only half in jest—that the South Koreans detested Bolton as much as the North Koreans."






    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  3. #993

    Default

    The Coming Collapse - Chris Hedges

    Mr. Fish / Truthdi
    g

    The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.
    The Democratic Party, which helped build our system of inverted totalitarianism, is once again held up by many on the left as the savior. Yet the party steadfastly refuses to address the social inequality that led to the election of Trump and the insurgency by Bernie Sanders. It is deaf, dumb and blind to the very real economic suffering that plagues over half the country. It will not fight to pay workers a living wage. It will not defy the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to provide Medicare for all. It will not curb the voracious appetite of the military that is disemboweling the country and promoting the prosecution of futile and costly foreign wars. It will not restore our lost civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from government surveillance, and due process. It will not get corporate and dark money out of politics. It will not demilitarize our police and reform a prison system that has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population. It plays to the margins, especially in election seasons, refusing to address substantive political and social problems and instead focusing on narrow cultural issues like gay rights, abortion and gun control in our peculiar species of anti-politics.
    This is a doomed tactic, but one that is understandable. The leadership of the party, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez, are creations of corporate America. In an open and democratic political process, one not dominated by party elites and corporate money, these people would not hold political power. They know this. They would rather implode the entire system than give up their positions of privilege. And that, I fear, is what will happen. The idea that the Democratic Party is in any way a bulwark against despotism defies the last three decades of its political activity. It is the guarantor of despotism.
    Trump has tapped into the hatred that huge segments of the American public have for a political and economic system that has betrayed them. He may be inept, degenerate, dishonest and a narcissist, but he adeptly ridicules the system they despise. His cruel and demeaning taunts directed at government agencies, laws and the established elites resonate with people for whom these agencies, laws and elites have become hostile forces. And for many who see no shift in the political landscape to alleviate their suffering, Trump’s cruelty and invective are at least cathartic.

    Trump, like all despots, has no ethical core. He chooses his allies and appointees based on their personal loyalty and fawning obsequiousness to him. He will sell anyone out. He is corrupt, amassing money for himself—he made $40 million from his Washington, D.C., hotel alone last year—and his corporate allies. He is dismantling government institutions that once provided some regulation and oversight. He is an enemy of the open society. This makes him dangerous. His turbocharged assault on the last vestiges of democratic institutions and norms means there will soon be nothing, even in name, to protect us from corporate totalitarianism.
    But the warnings from the architects of our failed democracy against creeping fascism, Madeleine Albright among them, are risible. They show how disconnected the elites have become from the zeitgeist. None of these elites have credibility. They built the edifice of lies, deceit and corporate pillage that made Trump possible. And the more Trump demeans these elites, and the more they cry out like Cassandras, the more he salvages his disastrous presidency and enables the kleptocrats pillaging the country as it swiftly disintegrates.
    The press is one of the principal pillars of Trump’s despotism. It chatters endlessly like 18th-century courtiers at the court of Versailles about the foibles of the monarch while the peasants lack bread. It drones on and on and on about empty topics such as Russian meddling and a payoff to a porn actress that have nothing to do with the daily hell that, for many, defines life in America. It refuses to critique or investigate the abuses by corporate power, which has destroyed our democracy and economy and orchestrated the largest transfer of wealth upward in American history. The corporate press is a decayed relic that, in exchange for money and access, committed cultural suicide. And when Trump attacks it over “fake news,” he expresses, once again, the deep hatred of all those the press ignores. The press worships the idol of Mammon as slavishly as Trump does. It loves the reality-show presidency. The press, especially the cable news shows, keeps the lights on and the cameras rolling so viewers will be glued to a 21st-century version of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” It is good for ratings. It is good for profits. But it accelerates the decline.
    All this will soon be compounded by financial collapse. Wall Street banks have been handed $16 trillion in bailoutsand other subsidies by the Federal Reserve and Congress at nearly zero percent interest since the 2008 financial collapse. They have used this money, as well as the money saved through the huge tax cuts imposed last year, to buy back their own stock, raising the compensation and bonuses of their managers and thrusting the society deeper into untenable debt peonage. Sheldon Adelson’s casino operations alone got a $670 million tax break under the 2017 legislation. The ratio of CEO to worker pay now averages 339 to 1, with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1. This circular use of money to make and hoard money is what Karl Marx called “fictitious capital.” The steady increase in public debt, corporate debt, credit card debt and student loan debt will ultimately lead, as Nomi Prins writes, to “a tipping point—when money coming in to furnish that debt, or available to borrow, simply won’t cover the interest payments. Then debt bubbles will pop, beginning with higher yielding bonds.”
    An economy reliant on debt for its growth causes our interest rate to jump to 28 percent when we are late on a credit card payment. It is why our wages are stagnant or have declined in real terms—if we earned a sustainable income we would not have to borrow money to survive. It is why a university education, houses, medical bills and utilities cost so much. The system is designed so we can never free ourselves from debt.
    However, the next financial crash, as Prins points out in her book “Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World,” won’t be like the last one. This is because, as she says, “there is no Plan B.” Interest rates can’t go any lower. There has been no growth in the real economy. The next time, there will be no way out. Once the economy crashes and the rage across the country explodes into a firestorm, the political freaks will appear, ones that will make Trump look sagacious and benign.
    And so, to quote Vladimir Lenin, what must be done?
    We must invest our energy in building parallel, popular institutions to protect ourselves and to pit power against power. These parallel institutions, including unions, community development organizations, local currencies, alternative political parties and food cooperatives, will have to be constructed town by town. The elites in a time of distress will retreat to their gated compounds and leave us to fend for ourselves. Basic services, from garbage collection to public transportation, food distribution and health care, will collapse. Massive unemployment and underemployment, triggering social unrest, will be dealt with not through government job creation but the brutality of militarized police and a complete suspension of civil liberties. Critics of the system, already pushed to the margins, will be silenced and attacked as enemies of the state. The last vestiges of labor unions will be targeted for abolition, a process that will soon be accelerated given the expected ruling in a case before the Supreme Court that will cripple the ability of public-sector unions to represent workers. The dollar will stop being the world’s reserve currency, causing a steep devaluation. Banks will close. Global warming will extract heavier and heavier costs, especially on the coastal populations, farming and the infrastructure, costs that the depleted state will be unable to address. The corporate press, like the ruling elites, will go from burlesque to absurdism, its rhetoric so patently fictitious it will, as in all totalitarian states, be unmoored from reality. The media outlets will all sound as fatuous as Trump. And, to quote W.H. Auden, “the little children will die in the streets.”
    As a foreign correspondent I covered collapsed societies, including the former Yugoslavia. It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion. All the harbingers of collapse are visible: crumbling infrastructure; chronic underemployment and unemployment; the indiscriminate use of lethal force by police; political paralysis and stagnation; an economy built on the scaffolding of debt; nihilistic mass shootings in schools, universities, workplaces, malls, concert venues and movie theaters; opioid overdoses that kill some 64,000 people a year; an epidemic of suicides; unsustainable military expansion; gambling as a desperate tool of economic development and government revenue; the capture of power by a tiny, corrupt clique; censorship; the physical diminishing of public institutions ranging from schools and libraries to courts and medical facilities; the incessant bombardment by electronic hallucinations to divert us from the depressing sight that has become America and keep us trapped in illusions. We suffer the usual pathologies of impending death. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  4. #994

    Default

    Sen. Flake challenges Class of 2018 to protect the rule of law

    May 23, 2018





    Credit: Heratch Ekmekjian

    Before he offered any words of wisdom to the Harvard Law School Class of 2018, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake quipped that he had come to HLS to receive advice.
    “I’ll soon be in the job market myself,” Flake said. The Arizona senator announced in October that, after six years in the Senate and six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, he would not be running for reelection.
    On Class Day, May 23, Flake told the Class of 2018 assembled on a sunny Holmes Field that they were entering the legal profession in a critical moment, when the branch of government he represents “is failing its constitutional obligations to counteract the power of the president.”
    That has created risks, he said, for the rule of law and its fragility; exposed the vulnerability of democratic norms; called into question the independence of the justice systems; and threatened the “cherished American value” of “truth. Empirical objective truth.”
    HLS graduates will be called upon to defend these values and institutions, Flake said, and may require lawyers to risk their careers in favor of their principles. “But you–and our country–will be better for it. You can go elsewhere for a job but you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”
    Flake asked graduates to consider “the miracle of the rule of law”–how it was achieved and how we are now “testing the durability of this idea that William III first had the good sense to agree to.” Democracy is in trouble, Flake said, “if the only acceptable outcome in a matter of law or justice is a result that is satisfactory to the leader.” And it’s in trouble if “the leader attacks the legitimacy of any institution that does not pay him obeisance–say the independent judiciary or the free press.”
    He told graduates: “It will be the work of your generation to make sure that this degradation of democracy does not continue.”
    Flake called himself a conservative Republican. Opposing the current president, he said, did not make him less of a Republican or less of a conservative. “And opposing the president and much of what he stands for it not an act of apostasy–it is rather an act of fidelity,” he said.
    Compromise must be a part of lawmaking, said Flake, “because lasting solutions to the problems before us must involve both sides … I believe that our government should include people who believe as I do, just as I believe it must include people who believe as my friend Tim Kaine [’83] does, or as my friend Cory Booker does, to name but two.”
    He told the graduates, “I urge all of you to challenge your assumptions, regularly. Recognize the good in your opponents. Apologize every now and then. Admit to mistakes. Forgive, and ask for forgiveness. Speak up more, for politics sometimes keeps us silent when we should speak.”
    Flake challenged the class “to be able to say in the future that we faced these forces that would threaten the institutions of liberty and tear us apart and that we said: ‘No.’ ”
    “That is the job before us–to get through this, and beyond it. And you’re just the ones to take us there.”

    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  5. #995

    Default

    MAY 23, 2018 | GINA BRADBURY


    ROSENSTEIN IS CAUGHT BETWEEN DOING HIS JOB AND APPEASING TRUMP

    Trump Tests the Independent Integrity of the Justice Department

    Left to right: FBI Director Christopher Wray, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Blue Mass, May 7, 2018. Photo credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has one of the toughest jobs in Washington. He wants to ensure that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election can proceed while also having to handle the increasingly frequent tantrums from President Donald Trump.
    The latest chapter in this ongoing saga started in late April when Trump called into his favorite morning cable news show for a live, on-air interview. Trump spent much of the 45-minute segment airing a series of personal grievances to Fox and Friends hosts, in an erratic, unhinged rant. He began yelling into the telephone, verbally attacking his own Justice Department, expressing his disdain for his own appointees — all while the show’s hosts, which are usually squarely in Trump’s corner, increasingly appeared uncomfortable.
    Just before the three managed to fit a word in edgewise, convincing the president it was time to hang up the phone, Trump proclaimed he would ultimately have to assert himself into what he described as “my Justice Department.”
    This week, he attempted to do just that. After spending a rainy weekend bunkered inside his Sterling, Virginia, golf club rage-tweeting, Trump returned to Washington on Monday prepared to drag the entire nation one step closer to a Constitutional crisis.
    In an act of unprecedented executive overreach, Trump summonedFBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Rosenstein to the White House Monday afternoon, in a blatant effort to protect himself from the special counsel’s criminal investigation.
    Trump initiated the meeting a day after launching a series of bombastic tweets, including a demand that the Justice Department investigate unfounded allegations that Obama administration officials infiltrated his presidential campaign for nefarious political purposes. Reports published last week confirm the FBI had been working with an informant inside Trump’s presidential campaign.
    The Justice Department responded shortly after Trump’s Sunday tweet, stating, “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action”.
    While some may perceive Rosenstein’s immediate response as an appeasement to Trump’s abuse of power, others suggest the deputy attorney general is attempting a careful balancing act, doing whatever he can to protect the integrity of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, while being pummeled by incessant threats and calls for impeachment from House Republicans.
    Rather than opening a criminal investigation into the president’s conspiratorial claims, Rosenstein forwarded the inquiry to Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office on Monday. If Horowitz concludes intelligence officials intercepted communications between Trump campaign members and Russians during the Justice Department’s counterespionage investigation (spoiler alert: they did), the FBI’s use of a confidential informant to gain access inside Trump’s campaign would be deemed appropriate. It’s also worth noting that Trump and his team were warned by senior FBI officials back in August 2016 that Russians were trying to infiltrate their campaign.
    The White House Press Office issued a statement at the end of Monday’s meeting, stating Chief of Staff John Kelly plans to “immediately set up a meeting” with congressional leaders, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the director of national intelligence to review “highly classified and other information they have requested” related to the Russia investigation.
    Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) continues his efforts to sabotage the investigation, demanding the Justice Department hand over sensitive, classified documents, which would result in grave national security consequences and expose confidential counterintelligence sources.
    Additionally, any classified information made public would undoubtedly be shared with the president, in an effort to assist his defense against prosecutors. One source, in fact, was revealed on Sunday, after former Trump campaign surrogate Sam Nunberg blurted out his name during an MSNBC interview. Nunberg is now a cooperating witness in Mueller’s probe.
    While congressional Republicans enable the president’s scorched-earth tactics in testing the rule of law, it’s worth remembering Rod Rosenstein’s profound statement made during his appearance at a Newseum event in early May: “There have been people that have been making threats, publicly and privately, against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now: The Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.” The deputy attorney general asserted, “Any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job. We have a responsibility and we take an oath.That’s the whole point.”
    Mr. Rosenstein, America looks to you to uphold the independent integrity of the justice system. Godspeed.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  6. #996

    Default

    MAY 24, 2018 | RUSS BAKER


    MICHAEL COHEN’S STILL-MISSING UKRAINE BACKGROUND INFO

    President Donald J. Trump and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. Photo credit: The White House / Wikimedia
    The BBC has reported that Michael Cohen, perhaps Donald Trump’s closest lieutenant for many years, took money for introducing the Ukrainian leader to the US president.
    There’s a lot of noise over Cohen accepting $400,000 for trying to get President Petro Poroshenko a paltry few minutes with Trump during the Ukrainian’s visit to the United States last June. There’s some irony in Cohen taking that huge payoff, which angered Ukrainians dissatisfied with the inadequate result. Especially because the whole gang around Trump is, if anything, identified with Putin-friendly elements in Ukraine, not with the Ukrainian nationalists associated with Poroshenko.
    Nonetheless, the publicity generated by a successful meeting with Trump would have had immeasurable political value back home in Ukraine, because Poroshenko could show that he could get the US government’s ear for the cause of an independent Ukraine.
    The most interesting thing that came out of the meeting was that, immediately afterwards, Ukraine stopped cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the activities of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, in Ukraine. So though Poroshenko may not have gotten anything much for his $400k, Trump-Manafort-Cohen-et al. certainly did.
    The larger context here is Cohen’s own strange and deep ties to Ukraine and Ukrainian money, and Russia and Russian money, going back many years. These predate his entry into Trump’s orbit.
    It’s kind of stunning to think about just how many people around Trump have their own direct ties and interests with Russia, Ukraine, and the whole former Soviet Union. Cohen’s are especially intriguing. As is the fact that he never seems to be bothered by legal or ethical standards. For example, despite his intercession on behalf of Ukraine, Cohen did not register as a foreign agent.
    For a deep dig on Cohen’s background, read our in-depth report from last September below.

    Michael Cohen, attorney. Photo credit: IowaPolitics.com / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)and Preston Kemp / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn … all members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle — past and present — have been scrutinized by the media, and their various Russia ties are being investigated by the press and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. One figure, however, managed to fly largely under the radar until very recently: Michael Cohen, Trump’s former right-hand man and in-house attorney.
    Cohen, who came out of nowhere to occupy a prominent spot in Trump’s orbit, has his own unique links to Russia and Ukraine. In fact, he might be one of the missing links that ties the president to shady figures and shady money from the former Soviet Union (familiarly known as FSU).
    After months of speculation, he will finally be subpoenaed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify under oath, as the Committee says he has broken an agreement by communication with media outlets.
    But the following story should help. It lays bare, in documented detail, Cohen’s dealings, his ties to the FSU, and how he could trigger a world of trouble for the president if he ever decided to reveal what he knows about Trump’s business empire.
    Among the points illustrated below:
    — Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, two key figures in Trump’s businesses in recent years, both have backgrounds tied to the FSU
    — Both men knew each other; both began entering Trump’s orbit around the same time with money that may have come from FSU sources — and in a period when Trump came to increasingly depend on such monies
    — Putin appears to have launched a full-court press on the United States in this time frame through surrogates, and eventually took an interest in Trump as someone who could help advance Russian interests
    — Both Cohen and Sater showed up recently as intermediaries to Trump on behalf of pro-Putin policy initiatives
    — While Trump has a history of sticking with supporters, even controversial ones, his loyalty does not extend to Cohen, Sater, Manafort (who managed his campaign for a time) and Flynn, who briefly served as National Security Advisor. What do they all have in common? Ties to Russia. Ties that are part of the public record.
    Cohen will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee September 19. He will not be under oath.

    While Manafort and Flynn played only specific and short-lived roles with Trump, Cohen has served as confidant, spokesperson and liaison between his boss and powerful foreign agents over the past decade.
    Of all the people Trump could have tapped to function as his main man, the lawyer who is always around him, his legal rottweiler, why Michael Cohen?
    The story behind Cohen’s pre-Trump connections to an avalanche of dubiously sourced money from the FSU offers a possible explanation — and the tantalizing prospect of new insight into the president’s curious co-dependence with the Kremlin.
    The “art of the deal” seems to be about knowing people who need to move money, and getting them to move it through you.
    As WhoWhatWhy previously reported, the crux of Trump’s relationship with Moscow goes beyond the presidential campaign to prior dealings that were central to his business empire.
    Those dealings concern investors and business partners from various parts of the FSU. Tied into this network of influence are Russian President Vladimir Putin, wealthy FSU businessmen (“oligarchs”), and allied members of organized crime. And, improbably, Cohen, Trump’s own attorney.
    Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the 2017 G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Photo credit: President of Russia / Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0)

    Enter Cohen, the Ultimate Groupie

    .

    In 2007, the little-known Cohen suddenly became visible in the Trump camp. Positioned close to the throne, he became executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump.
    Cohen told a reporter that he first got hooked on Trump after reading his book, The Art of the Deal, twice, cover to cover. If so, he is the ultimate groupie.
    “Over the years I have been offered very lucrative employment opportunities, which I summarily dismissed,” he said. “To those of us who are close to Mr. Trump, he is more than our boss. He is our patriarch.”
    Indeed, Cohen has a reputation for being a kind of Trump Mini-Me. In July 2015, he vowed to “mess up” the life of a Daily Beast reporter who brought up the decades-old allegation that Trump assaulted his first wife, Ivana. And he tweeted about his desire to “gut” then-Fox anchor Megyn Kelly when she challenged Trump. Cohen’s bravado has earned him comparisons — from Trump Organization colleagues — to Tom Hagen, Vito Corleone’s consigliere in the Godfather movies.
    Trump values fiercely protective loyalists, and none has proven more loyal than Michael Cohen.
    With the exception of a quixotic run for New York City Council as a Republican in 2003, Cohen had been a lifelong Democrat, voting for Obama in 2008. So it was a quite a change when he decided to formally join the GOP — after Trump’s inauguration.
    But neither that switch nor years of devoted service to the Trump Organization could win Cohen a post in the president’s administration, though he had reportedly yearned for and expected to occupy one. And why was that?
    Possibly because by the time Trump took office, Cohen’s name had surfaced in headline-grabbing, Russia-related stories — and that is the one kind of publicity from which Trump has tried to distance himself.
    Cohen and the Dossier

    .

    To begin with, the name “Michael Cohen” showed up in the controversial “dossier” put together last year by a former UK foreign intelligence officer doing private research on Russia connections for Trump opponents. The 35-page collection of memos, published in its entirety by Buzzfeed, comprises precise but unverified documentation of continuous contact between Trump associates and Russian operatives during the presidential campaign.
    Cohen’s name appeared on page 18 of the dossier, which claimed that he met with Kremlin representatives in Prague last August to conduct damage control on a pair of “western media revelations”: Manafort’s “corrupt relationship” with Ukrainian President Yanukovych and campaign adviser Carter Page’s meeting with “senior regime figures” in Moscow a month earlier.
    Cohen has forcefully rejected the notion that he was the man referenced in the dossier. To prove this, he made public his own passport stamps, which indicate he could not have been in the Czech Republic last August.
    Shortly after the inauguration, Cohen’s name was in the news again, this time for meeting in late January with a Moscow-connected Ukrainian politician, and in this case his involvement is not in dispute. The Ukrainian had come bearing a “peace agreement” intended to lift punishing economic sanctions that had been imposed on Russia after Putin’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
    Cohen, Felix Sater, and the Russians

    .

    Cohen purportedly attended the meeting at the urging of Felix Sater, a one-time mob-connected businessman who went on to work with Trump, and about whom WhoWhatWhy has written extensively.
    According to The New York Times, as a result of that meeting, Cohen joined other Trump associates already under scrutiny in the FBI’s counterintelligence inquiry related to Russia.
    Why was Cohen even in a meeting about US foreign policy at all? As Cohen himself noted, his role as “special counsel” with Trump was limited to representing Trump personally, not as president.
    Since the January meeting, Cohen has become even more ghostlike, and his boss has remained conspicuously quiet as Cohen landed in the crosshairs of both the media and Mueller’s investigative unit — two entities Trump hasn’t been shy about lambasting. Though he retains his official title as the president’s personal advisor and attorney, Cohen appears to have been exiled from Trump’s inner circle. Neither the White House Press Office nor the Trump Organization responded to WhoWhatWhy’s inquiry about Cohen’s current role in the Trump orbit.
    Trump is not one to banish someone just because he or she is run-of-the-mill controversial. Witness such highly polarizing, risky figures as Stephen Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller who, though relative latecomers to the Trump camp, were kept on long after they were political liabilities, albeit popular with his ever-shrinking base. (And Miller is still on board.)
    So why does Michael Cohen’s fate resemble that of Manafort and Flynn, who were ditched when their Russia-related activities drew unwelcome national attention?
    In the Spotlight

    .

    This spring, when it became apparent that members of Congress might wish to question him, the typically brash Cohen declared that he would only testify if he received a subpoena. Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee has decided to issue a subpoena to call him to testify before them under oath after he broke an agreement not to speak to the media.
    Compared to some others in Trump’s entourage, he is largely unknown to the public. Notwithstanding those brief moments in the limelight, the media overall (with a few notable exceptions including Talking Points Memo and Buzzfeed) has devoted little attention to him.
    But a new development thrust Cohen back into the limelight Monday, when the Washington Post reported that Cohen and Sater had worked together closely in the early months of Trump’s presidential campaign on a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
    At Sater’s suggestion, Cohen had emailed Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s personal spokesperson, to solicit the Kremlin’s approval of the lucrative project while Trump, stumping on the campaign trail, was lavishing the Russian president with praise at debates and rallies. The real estate deal, Sater suggested in a string of emails to Cohen, would be a win-win: Trump would look like a great negotiator, and Putin would be boosting the prospects of the candidate he preferred.
    “Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote to Cohen. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”
    The tower never materialized, but their “boy,” of course, did ascend to the presidency. And the Trump Organization renewed ownershipof the TrumpTowerMoscow.com domain this July — before the latest controversy, though it has since gone dark.
    Cohen’s Own Ukrainian Connections

    .

    The son of a Long Island physician, Michael Dean Cohen received his law degree from a low-ranked Michigan school, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School — a “diploma mill” according to some, which later rebranded as Western Michigan University. The school, which, like Trump, doesn’t hesitate to sue its critics, has highlighted Cohen as an illustrious alumnus.

    Cohen was admitted to the New York Bar in 1992 and became a personal injury lawyer.
    He soon began assembling a portfolio of businesses outside the legal profession, virtually all involving Ukrainian immigrants — many of whom were, or became, immensely wealthy.
    Perhaps the earliest was a taxi business in partnership with the Ukraine-born Simon Garber, who was at one time involved with a Moscow cab company, and now has huge stakes in cab ownership in New York, Chicago and New Orleans.
    By 2003, Cohen and Garber were running more than 200 taxis in New York, allowing Cohen to pull in $90,000 a month in 2011. The partnership imploded in 2012 after a nasty legal dispute, after which Cohen went his own way and entrusted his 15 medallion companies to Evgeny Friedman, a Russian immigrant who holds the single largest collection of medallions in New York.
    In partnership with two other Ukrainian immigrants, Cohen went into the casino boat business. His partners, Leonid Tatarchuk and Arkady Vaygensberg, were associated with a man who allegedly had FSU mob ties, and with a lawyer indirectly connected to the late mob legend Meyer Lansky.
    The gambling venture was besieged by lawsuits from unhappy workers and investors. Cohen has had other legal problems. He could not explain what had become of $350,000 held in a trust account he managed, according to court documents obtained by Buzzfeed News.
    Victory Casino Cruises. Photo credit: Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    In 1998 Michael Cohen incorporated two entities: Ukrainian Capital Partners LP and Ukrainian Capital Growth Fund Corp. The Growth Fund was dissolved in 2002, but, according to New York Department of State records, Capital Partners is still active.
    Towering Trump Investments

    .

    Shortly after the turn of the century, Cohen took a new direction. He began buying — as did his relatives — properties in buildings with the Trump name.
    He obtained his first in 2001: a unit in Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza. And he kept on buying.
    Some years later, the Trump-friendly New York Post profiled Cohen and his passion for Trump developments in a real-estate-porn article headlined “Upping the Ante.”
    Once some buyers go Trump, they never go back. Take Michael Cohen, 40, an attorney and partner at Phillips Nizer. He purchased his first Trump apartment at Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza in 2001. He was so impressed he convinced his parents, his in-laws and a business partner to buy there, too. Cohen’s in-laws went on [to] purchase two more units there and one at Trump Grande in Sunny Isles, Fla.
    Cohen then bought at Trump Palace at 200 E. 69th St., and Trump Park Avenue, where he currently resides. He’s currently in the process of purchasing a two-bedroom unit at Trump Place on Riverside Boulevard – so, naturally, Cohen’s next step is to purchase something at Trump Plaza Jersey City. He’s now in negotiations for a two-bedroom unit there.
    “Trump properties are solid investments,” says Cohen, who’s also looking at the new Trump SoHo project.
    By the time he entered Trump’s employ, Cohen, his relatives and his business partner had already purchased a combined 11 Trump properties.
    Why did Cohen and company begin buying all those Trump properties? Where did the money come from? And did Cohen use this spending spree to gain an entrance into Trump’s inner circle?
    The answers to these questions may lie in what at first appears to be a mere coincidence: Around the time Cohen began buying these properties — 2000-2001 — the aforementioned Felix Sater apparently first approached Trump.
    It is interesting to learn that when Cohen was growing up, he had known and run in the same circles as Sater when both lived on Long Island.
    Sater and Cohen would go on to play intriguingly interconnected roles in the saga linking Donald Trump to vast supplies of dubiously sourced money from the FSU.
    Sater’s family immigrated to the US in the 1970s, landing in the Coney Island-Brighton Beach area, a part of Brooklyn heavily populated by Soviet emigres — and an area where the Trump family owned lots of buildings.
    In addition to the Trump units, Cohen owns entire buildings around New York City. In 2015, while working for Trump, he bought a $58 million apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. According to the New York real estate news site The Real Deal, Cohen also holds multiple luxury apartment units and other buildings on the Lower East Side and in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan.
    Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Rustycale / Wikipedia, Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / Flickr (CC BY 2.0), Americasroof (talk) / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0), Alex Proimos / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0) and Stepanstas / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

    Cohen has a seemingly limitless appetite for real estate, and his younger brother Bryan, also a lawyer, entered the real estate trade and is now Chief Administrative Officer of DE Development Marketing, part of the prominent Douglas Elliman real estate brokerage.
    More Businesses, More Ukrainians

    .

    That Cohen buys luxury Trump apartments like others buy shoes — and that he has a seemingly inexhaustible budget — could conceivably be explained, at least in part, by his ties to people who, as noted earlier, became extremely wealthy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    There are any number of perfectly legitimate ways for Cohen to amass the funds necessary to purchase entire buildings. Usually, however, the source of such wealth can be ascertained. In Cohen’s case, the source is unclear— and Cohen refused to discuss the origin of those funds with WhoWhatWhy.
    It should be noted that Russians and others from the former Soviet Union seeking to move funds West are among the biggest buyers of New York real estate.
    But Cohen’s Ukrainian ties run even deeper. His wife, Laura, is from the Ukraine. So is Bryan Cohen’s wife, Oxana.
    From here we follow a trail through a somewhat complicated cast of characters. At the end, you will see how all of these people are connected to one another as well as to Trump — and to Russia.
    The trail begins with Bryan Cohen’s father-in-law, Alex Oronov, born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, who emigrated with his family to the United States in 1978. He ran a Manhattan art gallery, and eventually, and surprisingly, managed to convince the old-school communist government to partner with him to sell lithographs based on the collection of the State Russian Museum. His influence or skills of persuasion were so good that he even persuaded Kremlin authorities to permit him to open a gift shop at the museum, a rarity in the USSR.
    Following Ukrainian independence in 1994, Oronov spotted a far more lucrative opportunity: Ukraine’s privatized bounty of grain. Ukraine has some of Europe’s largest acreage of arable land — and it is highly fertile and productive, making it the “breadbasket of Europe.”
    He founded an agribusiness firm, Harvest Moon (later rebranded as Grain Alliance); Bryan Cohen notes in his own online biography that he served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President for Grain Alliance, Americas. It’s not clear where the funding for the enterprise, which had more than 100,000 acres in production at one point, came from.
    The firm seems to have benefited from the lack of strong central authorities in the Ukraine. According to a brochure from a Kiev-based law firm, “Foreign Investment in Ukrainian Agriculture,” prepared for a 2010 seminar on investment, “Grain Alliance… expanded rapidly over the last five years when Ukraine had no control from any government officials.”
    In this and similar ventures Oronov, from a modest start, became wildly wealthy, working with a network of well-connected Ukrainian politicians and businessmen with alleged mob ties. One of his partners was Viktor Topolov, a wealthy Ukrainian closely associatedwith figures the FBI has identified as “well known” members of the Russian and Ukrainian underworld. A Ukrainian court document obtained by Buzzfeed reveals that Topolov ignored subpoenas and lied about his role in a money-laundering and fraud investigation in the late 1990s.
    FBI Wanted Poster for Semion Mogilevich. Photo credit: FBI

    To follow the Trump money trail further requires a brief dip into Ukraine’s recent history, which turns out to be crucial to Michael Cohen’s story.
    Ukraine in Tug of War Between East and West

    .

    Starting around 2000, Ukraine increasingly became the subject of a tug of war between the West and Russia. Ukraine was once one of the most valuable parts of the USSR. Since gaining independence in 1991, it has been drawn closer to the West, and has even toyed with the ultimate snub to Russia: joining NATO, the Western military alliance.
    The struggle to control Ukraine, its political leaders and its resources, played a major role in Russia’s decision to enter Ukraine militarily in the summer of 2014. This led the West to impose sanctions that have severely harmed Russia’s economy. Putin has made no secret of his desire to get the sanctions lifted.
    Also at stake for Russia in its relations with Ukraine is the future of the pipelines that pass through Ukraine, bringing Russian natural gas to Western Europe. Russia is not happy that its lucrative gas exports, the source of much of its foreign exchange, must be transported across the territory of its now-adversary.
    Going head to head in the battles to control the future of this resource are sovereign nations, international corporations, shadowy public-private entities, and shady figures like the Ukrainian-born Semion Mogilevich. The reputed “boss of bosses” of organized crime in today’s Russia is believed to be the most powerful mobster in the world. His sub-boss, Vyacheslav Ivankov, was sent to America, and discovered by the FBI living in a luxury condo in Trump Tower, and later, having fled Manhattan, in a Trump casino in Atlantic City.
    Mogilevich was identified as the secret majority owner of the Ukrainian stake in a mysterious intermediary company, half-owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom. Ivankov later stated that Mogilevich and Putin were close; soon after, the man was gunned down on a Moscow street.
    One beneficiary of the Ukrainian pipeline situation was future Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was paid millions of dollars by prominent players in the natural gas scramble.
    While questions swirled about the international ramifications of the pipeline battle, Sater, then an FBI informant, traveled to Ukraine and Russia — ostensibly searching for properties to develop with the Trump Organization.
    Alex Oronov. Photo credit: Facebook / TPM

    In the past, Cohen has downplayed his connections to the FSU. In a January 2017 interview with Yahoo News, he averred that he had only been to Ukraine twice — “either 2003 or 2004.” The reason? His “brother’s father-in-law [i.e., Oronov] lives in Kiev.”
    However, Cohen seemingly would not have to travel to see his relative. Oronov had homes in the US — including one on Long Island and one at the Trump Hollywood in Hollywood, Florida; he was even registered to vote in Florida.
    The Cohens said that they knew nothing about Topolov when they pitched the project. But if they didn’t know the background of Bryan Cohen’s father-in-law’s famous longtime business partner, they’re unusually ill-informed, and certainly failed to do due diligence in a situation well-known to be rife with financial criminals.
    Cohen and Sater and Trump….Together

    .

    The Trumps themselves have stated that their company came to depend increasingly over the years on monies tied to the FSU. Thus, it would not be illogical to wonder whether Michael Cohen was brought into the Trump Organization because of his ability to help in that regard.
    But there’s more here. As mentioned above, Cohen dovetails in interesting ways with another FSU-tied figure who entered Trump’s orbit in roughly the same period: Felix Sater, the one-time mob-connected businessman who worked with Trump in the past, and about whom, as noted earlier, WhoWhatWhy has written extensively. Both bring ostensible ties to people who themselves have links to organized crime, and to those whose interests coincide with those of Vladimir Putin and his oligarchic network.
    Take Topolov, with whom Cohen and his brother have done business. Via a conglomerate of his, Topolov employed three executives the FBI have described as members of a violent Russian organized-crime network: one, a mob enforcer closely associated with Mogilevich, the powerful organized crime boss, was reportedly responsible for at least 20 murders.
    We previously reported about Mogilevich’s associates’s ties to Trump Tower, dating back to the 1990s. We noted how, from its inception, Trump Tower was a popular place with people having organized crime connections. We noted the various people connected with the FSU, with FSU organized crime, and the ties between those organizations and the Putin regime.
    We told the story of Sater, a USSR-born felon who had cut a deal to serve as a confidential source for the FBI in return for leniency after he was caught participating in a major financial fraud with a group of men including one with American organized crime ties.
    We explained that tackling FSU influence in Wall Street had become one of the FBI’s highest priorities.
    We described how, circa 2001, Sater joined Bayrock, a real estate development company run by FSU emigres in Trump Tower, and eventually began working directly with Donald Trump. Sater and Bayrock were supplying Trump with income during a period when his other investments had been suffering.
    Trump Tower. Photo credit: baba_1967 / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    The money spigot was apparent to all. In a 2008 deposition, Sater even testified that, upon Trump’s request, he accompanied Donald Jr. and Ivanka on business trips to the FSU. Donald Jr. would later declare that the region had become the family’s main source of investment.
    While Sater was moving up in the Trump orbit, Cohen’s status as a mysterious Trump real estate mega-investor of uncertain wealth and an undistinguished legal practice changed, seemingly overnight.
    In 2006, the year before he went to work fulltime for Trump, Cohen suddenly went big-time, becoming, briefly, a partner at a prominent New York firm, Phillips Nizer, where, according to a profile, “he counted [Trump] as one of his many high-profile wealthy clients.”
    He was then offered a job by the developer. The reason? “I suspect,” Cohen said, “he was impressed with both my handling of matters as well as the results.”
    According to cached images of the Phillips Nizer website found in theInternet Archive, he was first listed as partner in October 2006. By May 2007, about the time he was hired by Trump, Cohen’s title was changed from partner to counsel. He remained in the Phillips Nizer directory as counsel until some time in late 2008.
    What exactly did this obscure former personal injury lawyer bring to the firm? It has become increasingly common for law firms to bring on board anyone who can bring business with them. Interestingly, Cohen’s practice there was described as including distressed debt — which certainly could have described Trump’s frequently unstable situation. Mark Landis, managing partner at the firm, declined to comment, saying it is policy not to discuss current or former colleagues.
    But in an interview with WhoWhatWhy, Bryan Cohen said that both he and his brother came to Phillips Nizer as part of a merger between Nizer and their entity, the Cohen Law Firm. Asked why Nizer wanted to combine with the much smaller Cohen operation, Bryan Cohen declined to say, terming the question “irrelevant.”
    Photo credit: baba_1967 / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    Whatever one is to make of Cohen’s sudden affiliation with Phillips Nizer, just as abruptly as he appeared, he moved on. So did Bryan Cohen, who joined the real estate firm, Douglas Elliman.
    Michael Cohen officially joined Trump’s organization in a top position — as Executive Vice President and Special Counsel.
    With Sater already working with Trump, this meant that for much of 2007, two of Trump’s key people were decidedly unusual fellows with major ties to the FSU.
    Thus we see a fascinating pattern in which two childhood acquaintances began entering the Trump orbit at the same time, circa 2000-2001 (with Cohen making his extraordinary string of Trump property purchases and Sater moving into business in Trump Tower) and, by 2007, both were working near each other inside the Trump empire itself.
    In this period, we see a third figure who would later become highly controversial for his links into the FSU: Paul Manafort.
    It was in 2006 that the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, long a close Putin associate, signed a whopping $10 million a year contractwith Manafort based on what Manafort had presented as efforts inside the United States that would “greatly benefit the Putin government.” (As the Daily Beast reported, few have noted that Deripaska soon partnered with Manafort and the Ukrainian alleged gangster Dmytro Firtash in acquiring New York’s Drake Hotel.)
    That same year, Manafort himself bought an apartment…. In Trump Tower.
    A Whirlwind in the Former Soviet Union

    .

    In September 2007, Trump, Sater and another partner posed for a photo at the opening of their Trump SoHo Hotel in New York.
    The celebration would be brief. In December, the Times revealed that Sater had a criminal past.
    Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif and Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party on September 19, 2007 in New York. Photo credit: Mark Von Holden / WireImage

    This potentially put Trump in a very difficult spot. If Trump were to admit that he knew Sater was a convicted felon but did business with him nonetheless, he, the Trump Organization, and anyone within the company who knew of it would be potentially liable for sky-high sums. This was especially true for the Trump-Bayrock projects (as noted, many of them financed by FSU figures), as so many of them ended terribly, with multiple lawsuits across many states.
    Bayrock unraveled. Trump SoHo went into foreclosure in 2013, after just three years of operation, leaving a slew of unoccupied units in the hands of a new developer. It was the firm’s final deal. As is now well known,Trump, who would later claim to barely know Sater, kept him on in the building and, if anything, he and Sater grew even closer. Indeed, Sater was soon working directly for Trump himself, with an office, business cards, phone number and email address all provided by the Trump Organization. The cards identified him as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”
    In this period, Trump Organization activities in the countries of the former Soviet Union appear to have accelerated.
    In 2010 and 2012, while working for Trump, Cohen traveled to the former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan and Georgia. It’s worth noting that Bayrock had earlier received large infusions of cash from the ultra-corrupt Kazakhstan, and other funds from Georgia, also awash in ill-gotten fortunes.
    In 2013, leading up to the Russian-hosted winter Olympics in Sochi, a close Putin ally reached out to Trump.
    Aras Agalarov, an Azerbaijani billionaire real estate developer with Russian citizenship who is known as the “Donald Trump of Russia,” paid Trump millions of dollars to bring Trump’s Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow.
    𝙏𝙧𝙪𝙢𝙥𝙨𝙝𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙖 watcher@trumpshchina

    12 Jul

    Replying to @maxseddon @DonaldJTrumpJr
    There are also photos with Aras, Goldstone, and Trump ffs at Miss Universe


    MD@mikeydoubled





    One better -- Pics of a private dinner in Las Vegas with Aras, Emin, Goldstone, and Trump sitting directly across / next to each other: pic.twitter.com/3g2Fj7MEEs
    9:30 AM - Jul 12, 2017





    Twitter Ads info and privacy







    An Instagram post by Agalarov’s son shows Cohen with Trump and Agalarov at the Trump Vegas around the time the deal was inked.
    Right around this time, Putin awarded Agalarov a state medal for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic contributions to Russia.
    The Third American Political Party: Russia

    .

    As Trump’s relationship to the former Soviet Union intensified, so, seemingly, did Russian interest in the American political system and the presidency.
    In 2014, we now know, US intelligence secretly identified what it determined was a Russian effort to sow doubt and chaos in the US elections system.
    By then, Trump was widely recognized for his long-standing presidential ambitions — he ran for the office as a Reform Party candidate in 2000, garnering more than 15,000 votes in the California primary before abruptly dropping out. The Russians understood that he also had mass appeal, and a personality, temperament and history associated with provoking strong and divisive reactions.
    Also, in a GOP primary field with a crowd of lackluster candidates, Trump was guaranteed to draw considerable public and media interest. At a time when Hillary Clinton, an antagonist of Putin, was viewed as virtually a shoo-in, Trump was a dark horse and a wild card, but one with plenty of outside potential to shake things up.
    By February, 2015, Trump had already recruited staff in early voting states; a month later, he formed a presidential exploratory committee and delayed the production of “The Apprentice,” the still-running reality television show that established Trump as a pop culture icon in the mid-2000s. Trump officially announced his candidacy for president on June 16, 2015.
    The date of the first campaign-related contacts between Trump’s people and the Russians is not clear, though as time passes, we are learning of earlier and earlier interactions.
    Matters seem to have come to a head in June 2016, when, at the request of Russians, Donald Trump Jr. convened a meeting in his office.
    Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner. Photo credit: Watch the video on C-SPAN, Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs / Flickr.

    When the meeting was revealed in July 2017, a panicked Donald Trump Jr. sought to downplay it, claiming it was to discuss policy toward adoptions of Russian children. Further revelations forced him to gradually disclose bits of information that cumulatively make clear the meeting was in response to Russian offers to help Trump’s candidacy by providing intelligence on Clinton that could be used against her.
    Among those attending were Manafort, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and publicist Rob Goldstone — who works for the son of the previously mentioned Russian real estate mogul Aras Agalarov and who brokered the meeting. Also present was Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, a fervent opponent of the Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on certain Russian officials following the imprisonment, and subsequent death, of a Russian tax accountant investigating fraud. Veselnitskaya claimed to hold incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.
    Another participant was Rinat Akhmetshin, whose past activities and associations led some to wonder whether he was or is a spy. Sen. Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley, a Republican, speculated that the meeting itself was a classic ploy of Russian intelligence, intended to draw the Trump people into a potentially incriminating relationship. That, perhaps paradoxically, would likely make Trump even more vulnerable and beholden to Putin.
    And of course the meeting was arranged via Goldstone, who works for the Agalarovs — who performed such valuable services to Russia that, as noted, Putin gave Aras Agalarov a medal.
    Cozier and Cozier

    .

    To sum up, Trump’s financial fortunes seem — both by appearance and by statements from the Trumps themselves — to have been heavily dependent on money from the former Soviet Union. Besides the Cohen retinue buying at least 11 apartments in Trump buildings, the money that came in through Felix Sater was also from the FSU.
    How much of the funds that kept Trump’s shaky financial empire afloat in those lean years had its origins in the part of the world dominated by the Kremlin? Well, how much did not? Even Donald Trump, Jr. declared in 2008 that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
    As for Trump, he has repeatedly tweeted and declared that he has no loans “from Russia” and no “deals” in Russia. While that may be technically true, what’s more important is that money that originated in the FSU has played a crucial role in his business career. The “art of the deal” seems to be about knowing people who need to move money, and getting them to move it through you.
    Felix Sater and Trump business card superimposed over FBI building. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Cliff / Flickr (CC BY 2.0), 591J / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0) and Boing Boing (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

    Sater appears to have been an FBI asset for many years, including at least some of the years when Cohen was working with Trump.
    Sater denied to WhoWhatWhy that any of his reports to the FBI from Trump Tower concerned organized crime figures in Russia, and asserted that he had never even heard of Mogilevich, though his own father was said to be a Mogilevich underling.
    In any case, the FBI agents running Sater were extremely focused on the FSU underworld. It is likely that they would take an interest in the partner of Cohen’s in-law, and all the partner’s ties to organized crime. And they would surely have been interested in how Donald Trump fit into this underworld web all around him.
    The Ukraine “Peace Deal”

    .

    Yet Cohen remained mostly out of the public eye, even as myriad Trump associates (including Manafort) ended up in the hot seat for their business dealings in the FSU.
    That changed with the report of the January 27, 2017, meeting between Cohen, Sater and Ukrainian politician Andrii V. Artemenko at a luxury hotel in New York.
    The three men discussed a proposed Russia-Ukraine peace agreement that would result in the lifting of economic sanctions against Russia. Artemenko told The New York Times that Cohen delivered the proposal to Michael Flynn, who was then Trump’s national security advisor. Cohen has told different stories about his role, but in one interview he confirmed that he delivered a bundle of documents containing the proposal to Flynn’s office while Flynn was still part of the Trump administration. Cohen has insisted he was not aware of any Kremlin involvement.
    In bragging about his role in getting such material into the White House, Artemenko comes across as clumsy and artless, seemingly oblivious to how devastating the revelation could have been to Trump had the media and, say, influential congressmen made more of it. But was he naive? Or was this actually a House of Cards-type scenario, where the Russians were deliberately publicizing another bit of incriminating material on Trump in order to gain yet more leverage over him and control over his fate?
    The Artemenko “peace plan” was — importantly — accompanied by documents that purported to reveal corruption on the part of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, which could be used to weaken (and potentially topple) the Ukrainian regime led by an enemy of Putin.
    This of course made the current Ukrainian authorities go ballistic. No more has emerged on the document bundle, or what, if anything, resulted from its arrival in the White House. But the intent was clearly to advance Russia’s interests, and that of a pro-Russian Ukrainian politico with historic ties to Manafort.
    Andrii V. Artemenko superimposed photo of Michael Cohen. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from IowaPolitics.com / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) and A. V. Artemenko / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

    Although Felix Sater was present at the meeting as a supposed intermediary, he wouldn’t have been needed for that. Artemenko had known Cohen for years. Cohen’s brother’s father-in-law was, as mentioned earlier, tied to Artemenko through business. Artemenko was also closely tied to Topolov, the allegedly money-laundering Ukrainian politician in business with Oronov, Bryan Cohen’s father-in-law. (Oronov died March 2 after suffering from what Bryan Cohen described to WhoWhatWhy as an “incredibly aggressive” cancer diagnosed three months earlier.)
    Artemenko said that his Russia-Ukraine sanctions proposal had been discussed with Cohen and Sater back during the primaries in early 2016, just as Trump was emerging as the frontrunner.
    Western sanctions have delivered some crushing blows to Russia’s economy, slashing both its GDP and ruble value by 50 percent in three years, according to a 2017 Congressional Research Servicereport. Though the economy is expected to resume modest growth, getting out from under the stifling sanctions is for Putin still a national security concern of the highest possible priority. And the Trump camp had been all about lifting the sanctions.
    During the 2016 Republican Convention, the party surprisingly removed from its platform a condemnation of Russia over its incursion into Ukraine. Initially, both Donald Trump and campaign manager Paul Manafort denied any knowledge of the platform change. Much later, though, we learned that Trump’s platform chairman, J. D. Gordon, had met with the Russian ambassador during the convention.
    In an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Gordon said he had promoted the softening of the language on Ukraine — a softening that Trump himself had advocated earlier in the year, in a meeting with Gordon. Later still, Gordon would attempt to walk back the admission in a parsing reminiscent of Bill Clinton: “I mean, what’s the definition of pushed for the amendment, right? It’s an issue of semantics.”
    Semantics or no semantics, the platform was changed.

    Trump himself has been very kind to Russia. As a candidate, he worked strenuously to avoid criticizing Russia. He wouldn’t even acknowledge that Russia had seized Crimea, or that it had military units in eastern Ukraine. Even after he was nominated, he told a reporter,
    “Just so you understand: [Putin] is not going to go into Ukraine, all right?,” as if that had not already happened two years earlier.
    This seeming quid pro quo with Russia suggests the extent to which Russia has compromised the Trump White House.
    Having Cohen and Sater deliver the sanctions “peace proposal” to Flynn, a trusted figure with his own Russia connections, keeps Trump himself out of the loop, something Cohen would well understand — that’s one of the core things lawyers do understand, and a role they often play.
    We also know that Artemenko’s role in the meetings with Cohen and Sater led Ukraine’s chief prosecutor to open a treason investigation.
    Why would Cohen go to such a meeting? It seems crazy. But then the Trump team’s defining trait has been its reckless bravado, and a brash disregard for troubling appearances.
    As for Artemenko’s seemingly bumbling admission about the meeting, it is reminiscent of the “indiscretion” of Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, who went to the Republican convention to meet with Manafort about softening the GOP’s stance toward Russia. Although Trump and Manafort vigorously denied it, Kislyak then went public with his own account of the meeting.
    In the complex game being played by Putin, with Russia’s (and Putin’s) future at stake, Trump seems to have been cornered into a precarious dependence on Russian “good will.” As we noted months ago, the FBI has long known much of this. What former FBI director and Special Counsel Robert Mueller will do about it remains to be seen.
    WhoWhatWhy sought an interview with Cohen, but he declined. When we offered to send him questions, he wrote back: “You can send questions but not committing to respond.” We did send questions. And he did not respond.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  7. #997

    Default


    THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT demanded a formal explanation from the United States on Monday of what, exactly, the new U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, meant when he promised to use his office to help far-right nationalists inspired by Donald Trump take power across Europe.
    In an interview with Breitbart News, published on Sunday, Grenell said he was “excited” by the rise of far-right parties on the continent and wanted “to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.”

    Mathieu von Rohr
    @mathieuvonrohr


    US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell makes clear he is a political activist who will use his position to promote political change in his host country (and all over Europe). https://twitter.com/thomaswright08/status/1003307049906855936 …
    10:26 PM - Jun 3, 2018

    Grenell was apparently not asked if that group includes the far-right Alternative for Germany — known by its German initials AfD — the largest opposition party in the German parliament, but he did praise Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a center-right politician who is in coalition with the Freedom Party, which was formed in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer.
    A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had “asked the U.S. side for clarification” as to whether the remarks “were made as reported.”
    Grenell, a former Fox News pundit whose abrasive Twitter style had already alienated many Germans, tweeted on Monday that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that he would endorse candidates or parties, but stood by his claim to Breitbart that Europe, like America, was “experiencing an awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites and their bubble. Led by Trump.”

    View image on Twitter

    Pa.L. von Berlin@pal1892


    "... - those who reject the elites & their bubble. Led by Trump." - @RichardGrenell #kannsteDirnichtausdenken #Grenell #Trump
    4:51 PM - Jun 4, 2018

    Leaving aside that Trump was, in fact, elected by a hypervocal minority of American voters, his envoy’s apparent willingness to cast off diplomatic neutrality and meddle in the internal affairs of European countries caused an uproar.
    Sevim Dagdelen, a member of the left-wing German opposition party Die Linke, suggested that Grenell had revealed himself to be Trump’s “regime change envoy.”
    The leaders of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the junior coalition partner in Merkel’s government, were similarly unstinting in their condemnation. “Europe’s citizens cannot be told how to vote by a Trump vassal,” the party’s vice chair, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, wrote on Twitter. “A U.S. ambassador who meddles in democratic contests is simply out of place,” he added, perhaps hinting that the ambassador could be asked to go home.
    Martin Schulz, the former leader of the Social Democrats, accused Grenell of behaving less like a diplomat than “an extreme-right colonial officer.”
    Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s Green party, told Der Spiegel that “the American people should be able to expect partisan neutrality from their representative in Germany, because he represents all Americans, not just Breitbart and Fox News.”
    Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium who now leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, a free-market group in the European Parliament, tweeted: “We have to defend Europe against Trump. It’s not up to his ambassador to influence our elections and steer our society. We respect the sovereignty of the U.S., they have to respect ours.” Verhofstadt added the hashtag #GrenellRaus — “Grenell Out” — to his tweet.
    There was, however, one political leader in Berlin on Monday who demonstrated his support for the embattled American ambassador. Israel’s far-right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced at a news conference with Merkel that he had agreed to a brief meeting with Grenell, at the ambassador’s request, before leaving the German capital.
    Before he was confirmed by the Senate, Grenell — a hyperpartisan Republican activist whose farewell party in New York was attended byDonald Trump Jr., Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Wayne Newton, and a half-dozen Fox News personalities — had promised to stay out of German politics.

    Chris Murphy
    @ChrisMurphyCT

    When I raised concerns to Grenell about politicizing this post, he personally assured me that once he became Ambassador he would stay out of politics. This interview is awful - Ambassadors aren't supposed to "empower" any political party overseas. https://twitter.com/thomaswright08/status/1003307049906855936 …
    10:16 PM - Jun 3, 2018

    What was perhaps most stunning about Grenell’s stated aim to intervene in European politics on behalf of far-right leaders is how closely it mirrored, and inverted, the behavior of American diplomats in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, when those states were part of the Soviet bloc. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. ambassadors did make a point of supporting antigovernment dissidents, but in those cases, the stated aim was to promote democracy in authoritarian states.
    By making it his goal to empower Trump-like nationalists in Germany and other European nations, Grenell seems to be treating democratic U.S. allies like authoritarian Cold War enemies.


    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  8. #998

    Default Trump And "Far-Right" European Globalism

    The anti-European Union movement, Trump's "movement" and the U.K. Brexit movement are not really far-right, at least as that has been viewed in the past.

    The POLICY OF LOW WAGES which is the basis for the current globalism, is the ultimate Far Right philosophy. As many people know, the EU got its ideological start beginning with the Strasbourg meeting of Nazis and German Industrialists in August, 1944. They planned the EU which they would visualize to be the FOURTH REICH. Using this vehicle, Germany could take over Europe under the banner of the "United Europe." Thus, this plan would succeed where Hitler had failed.

    And we have seen this play out during our lifetimes. Even if the EU could be considered beneficial back in the day, it is obviously not beneficial today. Germany has sucked the economic blood out of the likes of Greece, Italy and Spain. In these poorer EU countries, the wealthy refuse to pay reasonable taxes, so the EU and the ECB try to take the money out of the pensions of public employees (like teachers, policemen, professors, etc). This rip-off masquerades under the label AUSTERITY PROGRAM.

    Then these groups of pensioners and nationalists are rebelling and demanding a pullout from the EU. This is a PROGRESSIVE impulse and movement. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German economic imperialists are the ultimate right-wingers. I have heard that Germany has a $150 billion trade surplus with the US. In Germany, 29% of people work in manufacturing. In the U S and the U K the percentage is 17%

    Globalism is a "low wage" policy. A "low wage" policy for workers is a right-wing policy. I am surprised that very well informed experts are claiming that the anti-EU movement is right-wing. Haven't they ever heard of "corporatism?" Well, folks, corporatism is RIGHT WING! Globalism IS corporatism. I don't know how that could be disputed.

    It seems like almost all journalists and researchers are, at this point, band-wagon jumpers and there are almost no people in the media who are attempting any kind of realistic analysis of Brexit, Trumpism, etc.

    James Lateer

  9. #999

    Default Just as in book 1984, Perpetual War soon to be official dictate of the State

    Congress May Declare the Forever War

    A proposed law with bipartisan support would dramatically weaken the ability of legislators to extricate the United States from perpetual armed conflict.
    CONOR FRIEDERSDORFJUN 12, 2018


    Don't say you were not warned.......this has been building since the end of WWII [actually even before]...but has always been illegal if done - soon to be 'legal'......perpetual war to enslave, kill and control the masses.....


    A rising generation of Americans has never known peace.
    Very soon, in Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria or Somalia or Libya or perhaps elsewhere, an 18-year-old man or woman will be deployed by the United States military to risk his or her life in a War on Terror that began before they were even born.
    Already, every single spring, roughly 3.5 million high-school graduates reach adulthood with no memory of a time when their country wasn’t waging multiple wars.
    This undemocratic Forever War is a civic disaster.
    The United States is at war in so many places, against so many groups, that the majority of citizens would struggle to name half of them—and no reader can name all of them, unless an official with access to highly classified information is among us, because the identities of some of the groups the United States is fighting are state secrets.
    Last year, when four American fighters died in Niger, multiple United States senators declared their surprise that the military they oversee had troops deployed in that country.
    The American public elected successive presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who expressed skepticism of foreign wars that they did not then end. Members of the U.S. Congress have been unwilling to endorse several of the wars that successive presidents waged anyway, despite their unpopularity and illegality. Last Friday, one American was killed and four wounded in fighting in Somalia, though it is unlikely that a proposal to put boots on the ground there would pass.

    The need for Congress to act—to rein in the president, to protect American blood and treasure, to preserve republican government, and to reassert its lawful, constitutional authority over war—has never been more urgent, with the single exception of the years of fighting in Vietnam, another conflict that began without a declaration of war and stretched across multiple presidencies, resulting in the deaths of 58,220 Americans.
    To avert a like catastrophe, prominent Republicans and Democrats have been urging Congress to reassert itself on the matter of where the president is permitted to wage war and expressing their belief that the status quo undermines the rule of law.
    President Trump’s saber-rattling only adds urgency to the question.
    But incredibly, the most widely supported effort to improve on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that Congress passed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a resolution that has been stretched past the breaking point by successive presidents, would actually legalize war in all of the places it is presently being waged and radically increase the president’s ability to legally expand the Forever War.
    Proposed by Senators Tim Kaine and Bob Corker, its radicalism approaches that of a constitutional amendment. Their new AUMF would subvert an article at the core of the Constitution, gutting a vital protection against tyranny devised by the Framers. It would authorize multiple existing wars without even debating them individually. It would empower Trump and his successors to unilaterally wage war in new countries, expand their ability to indefinitely detain prisoners without charges, and empower them to unilaterally kill individuals even inside the United States.
    In opposition, the ACLU has declared, “It would be hard to overstate the depth and breadth of the dangers to the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights that the Corker-Kaine AUMF would cause … The Corker-Kaine AUMF would cause colossal harm to the Constitution’s checks and balances, would jeopardize civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad, would lead to a broad expansion of war without meaningful oversight, and would represent a sharp break from adherence to international law, including the United Nations Charter.”
    The Fox News host Andrew Napolitano declared in testimony to Congress that “the legislation would give the president far more powers than he has now, would directly violate Congress’s war-making powers by ceding them away to the president, would defy the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of giving away core governmental functions, would commit the U.S. to foreign wars without congressional and thus popular support, and would invite dangerous mischief by any president wanting to attack any enemy—real or imagined, old or new—for foreign or domestic political purposes, whether American interests are at stake or not.”


    And in his view it would be unconstitutional.
    “Just because the branch of government that is losing power consents to that loss does not make it Constitutional,” he argued. “The Separation of Powers Doctrine was not written to preserve the power or the hegemony of the three branches for their own sake, but rather to preserve human liberty by keeping the branches at tension.”
    Yet the law might well pass. And for that reason, while there is still time to stop it, the bill warrants the attention of every adult American, regardless of party or clique.

    Before going further, it is important to understand exactly what the proposed law says, and why some well-meaning legislators believe that passing it is a prudent course.

    1. The bill would authorize the president to wage ongoing wars against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, isis in Iraq and Syria, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in Syria, the Haqqani Network, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.
    2. The bill would create a way for the president to lawfully wage counterterrorism campaigns against those terrorist organizations in still other countries, and to add still other groups or individuals as “associated forces.”
    3. More specifically, to wage war in a new country, or against a new group or person, Trump would merely have to notify Congress within 48 hours. Legislators would review his expansion of war and could vote to stop it—but that congressional “no” would be subject to a presidential veto, so it would effectively take a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to stop any expansion of war. (Waging war against a new country would still be governed by the War Powers Resolution of 1973—not that presidents generally adhere to that law.)
    4. It would repeal the 2002 Iraq War authorization.
    5. It would expand the list of those vulnerable to indefinite detention without charges or trial by applying a former National Defense Authorization Act to new groups.

    For proponents, those provisions are attractive because they bring existing wars under the color of law; define what groups count as “associated forces” of al-Qaeda; force the president to notify Congress upon adding a new associated force—which doesn’t always happen now—and force a legislative debate; and guarantee no White House lawyer can misuse the Iraq War AUMF.
    That isn’t nothing.
    Kaine’s thinking is perhaps illuminated by an anecdote he related on the Senate floor last year while discussing the notification provision in his proposed law. In April of 2014, he said, the Department of the Navy solicited contractual bids for “personnel recovery, casualty evacuation, and search and rescue” in “high risk environments” in 14 countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Tunisia.


    “Only five of those 14 countries have ever been notified to Congress pursuant to war-powers letters, but we were planning to engage in casualty evacuation in connection with high-risk activities in all of these countries in Africa,” Kaine said. “I’d like a process that informs Congress and informs the public equal to what we put in contracting documents to inform military contractors.”
    That would be nice. The oft-violated War Powers Resolution ought to do the trick already; still, a new law that forced public disclosure of all warring might prove useful. But even as the Corker-Kaine bill attempts to wrest new information about where the president is waging war, it undercuts Congress’s ability to do anything about it, as if gaining a bit of transparency is worth trading away the war power itself.
    Senator Rand Paul has rightly objected that the bill flips the Constitution on its head. “This authorization transfers the power to name the enemy and its location from Congress to the president,” Paul observed. “Worse yet,” he added, “this authorization changes the nature of declaring war from an affirmative vote of a simple majority to a negative, supermajority vote to disapprove of presidential wars. So if the president defines a new associated force that our military will attack, Congress can only stop that president with a two-thirds vote to overcome his veto.”
    Napolitano sharpened the point in testimony to Congress. “So a president with one-third plus one vote in either House of Congress can wage war on any target at any time the president chooses,” he fumed. “That is so contrary to what Madison intended, so contrary to the plain meaning of the Constitution, so violative of the separation of powers as to be a rejection of the oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. And none of you wants to reject that oath.”
    The legal scholar Jonathan Turley most effectively underscored how anathema the proposal would be to the Framers who so deliberately vested the war power in Congress.
    “This is one of the few points on which there was almost unanimity [at the Constitutional Convention],” he explained. “I say almost because Pierce Butler actually proposed to give this entire power to the president of the United States. He didn’t receive a second. He spoke to a room of Framers and made that proposal, and not a single one seconded that motion. That was one of the most important moments of our republic. That silence, the absence of a sound, shows where we began.”
    And one needn’t care at all about the views of the Framers to see the dangerous implications of empowering the president today as the Corker-Kaine bill would do.
    “Do I want my son going to war with al-Shabbab in Somalia?” Christopher Anders of the ACLU asked. “My son can’t find Somalia on a map,” he declared. “Probably very few people in this room know what al-Shabbab is.” Yet under the law being considered, “if the president wants to send 200,000 troops there and go all out in house-to-house fighting, as we did in Afghanistan and Iraq, he can do that.”


    Or say, for instance, that President Trump wanted to invade Pakistan, a nuclear power, with a force of 50,000 American troops. Even after the reckless precedents that Obama set with the constitutionally dubious arguments he offered to justify his illegal intervention in Libya, and the similarly dubious arguments Trump offered to justify his illegal bombing of Syria, a ground invasion of Pakistan would be hugely difficult to justify without the imprimatur of Congress.
    But if Corker-Kaine becomes law, Trump could simply order the invasion, then notify Congress that he intended to wage war in a new country where the Taliban operates. And he would be perfectly within the law to start deploying troops without advance permission or notification, and to keep doing so even if majorities in the House and Senate were against him, so long as even a third of either chamber declined to order him to reverse the expansion of the Forever War.
    Now say Trump wanted to wage war in Mexico. He might do so within the law by declaring a drug cartel that trafficked in Afghan opium to be an associated force of the Taliban.
    Hours after the first drone strikes fell on Ciudad Juarez, he could notify Congress that he was targeting a new associated force in a new country. Once again, a majority of Congress could vote against him without stopping the war. The law’s failure to exclude the United States as a country that the president can add, and language that allows individuals to be added as “associated forces,” even raises the specter of drone strikes or other targeted killings on American soil—something many today would consider not only unlawful, but an impeachable offense.
    Little wonder that Turley considers the law worse than the current AUMF. “It will make this body a pedestrian to war,” he said. “It will put war-making on autopilot. And this law does not even have a sunset provision. It just goes on. Under the former AUMFs, we’ve gone through 17 years of war. Adopt this proposal and we’ll have 170 more. It will revise the Constitution without an amendment.”
    At Just Security, Tess Bridgeman offers several changes to the legislation that would allow Congress to retain more control. “First and foremost,” she writes, “a new AUMF could explicitly state that it does not authorize the use of force against ‘associated forces’ beyond those named in the statute, and that the President must come back to Congress and seek authority to use force when necessary.”
    The same should go for combat in new countries. And rather than requiring mere congressional debate on ongoing wars every four years, “the new AUMF should sunset in 4 years,” Bridgeman writes. “Congress can reauthorize force just as it reauthorizes other extraordinary authorities, and a decision not to do so should be taken seriously.” She concludes that “if Congress truly wants to reassert its role in authorizing military force, which I strongly believe it should do, it should not hand the President the permanent authority to expand the conflict unless a veto-proof supermajority can be mustered to stop him.”


    There are those in Congress who agree. Representative Barbara Lee, the lone member of Congress to predict the Forever War that the post-9/11 AUMF ushered in, warned in an open letter, “I have grave concerns about the current proposal authored by Senator Bob Corker and Senator Tim Kaine that would continue our state of perpetual war.” Paul organized a hearing against the bill, where Senators Sanders, Lee, Udall, Peters, and Merkely shared their misgivings. But the fate of the proposal remains unclear.


    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  10. #1000

    Default

    If there is no there there something is fishy - NSA had a top secret document about Russian involvement in the elections. Now, they could have invented it or it could be real...but punishing a whistleblower is as low as America gets these days....and that is very very low indeed. This plea deal with certainly forbid her to speak more about it at all...so the truth or lack thereof will remain hidden further in the burgeoning Police State.....

    Accused NSA whistleblower Reality Winner has signed a plea deal and is scheduled to formally change her plea to guilty next week. Winner has been jailed for the past year awaiting trial over charges that she leaked a top-secret document to The Intercept about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Winner had faced up to 10 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act. Details of the plea agreement have not been made public.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •