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

  1. #1001


    The Anti-Empire Report #158

    By William Blum – Published June 26th, 2018
    Why do they flee?

    The current mass exodus of people from Central America to the United States, with the daily headline-grabbing stories of numerous children involuntarily separated from their parents, means it’s time to remind my readers once again of one of the primary causes of these periodic mass migrations.
    Those in the US generally opposed to immigration make it a point to declare or imply that the United States does not have any legal or moral obligation to take in these Latinos. This is not true. The United States does indeed have the obligation because many of the immigrants, in addition to fleeing from drug violence, are escaping an economic situation in their homeland directly made hopeless by American interventionist policy.
    It’s not that these people prefer to live in the United States. They’d much rather remain with their families and friends, be able to speak their native language at all times, and avoid the hardships imposed upon them by American police and other right-wingers. But whenever a progressive government comes to power in Latin America or threatens to do so, a government sincerely committed to fighting poverty, the United States helps to suppresses the movement and/or supports the country’s right-wing and military in staging a coup. This has been the case in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras.
    The latest example is the June 2009 coup (championed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) ousting the moderately progressive Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. The particularly severe increase in recent years in Honduran migration to the US is a direct result of the overthrow of Zelaya, whose crime was things like raising the minimum wage, giving subsidies to small farmers, and instituting free education. It is a tale told many times in Latin America: The downtrodden masses finally put into power a leader committed to reversing the status quo, determined to try to put an end to two centuries of oppression … and before long the military overthrows the democratically-elected government, while the United States – if not the mastermind behind the coup – does nothing to prevent it or to punish the coup regime, as only the United States can punish; meanwhile Washington officials pretend to be very upset over this “affront to democracy” while giving major support to the coup regime. The resulting return to poverty is accompanied by government and right-wing violence against those who question the new status quo, giving further incentive to escape the country.
    Talk delivered by William Blum at the Left Forum in New York, June 2, 2018

    We can all agree I think that US foreign policy must be changed and that to achieve that the mind – not to mention the heart and soul – of the American public must be changed. But what do you think is the main barrier to achieving such a change in the American mind?
    Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq to Libya; from bombings and invasions to torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves these people.
    Now why is that? Do these people have no social conscience? Are they just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
    The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the US does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on many occasions cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
    Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
    And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
    Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
    The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then they wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
    This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at just how exceptional America has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

    1. Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
    2. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
    3. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
    4. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
    5. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
    6. Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.

    This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record. But it certainly makes it very difficult to believe that America means well.
    So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his or her support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. Chances are the US has already done it.
    Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
    Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
    Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of the women.
    After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country has its share of crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists; and women who are not covered up properly are sometimes running a serious risk.
    Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do some marvelous things. Gaddafi, for example, founded the African Union and gave the Libyan people the highest standard of living in Africa. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO, we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months.
    Can anyone say that in all these interventions, or in any of them, the United States of America meant well?
    When we attack Iran, will we mean well? Will we have the welfare of the Iranian people at heart? I suggest you keep such thoughts in mind the next time you’re having a discussion or argument with a flag-waving American.
    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

  2. #1002

    Default Peter Strzok

    It seems like the community that follows the Deep State is dropping the ball on the Peter Strzok situation. I listened to several hours of his testimony. Strzok was the head of FBI counter-intelligence--hence he is the nation's leading expert on the Russian Government (at least on paper).

    What everyone has missed including all the Congressmen is this: Strzok has spent so much time following the KGB and their use of criminal prosecutions against the enemies of Putin, THAT HE HAS COME TO BELIEVE THAT THE FBI HAS TO DO THE SAME AS THE KGB. WHICH MEANS TO INSTALL THEIR OWN CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT, OR AT LEAST HAVE A VETO POWER.

    I'm not kidding about this. I think that Strzok sincerely believes that to compete with the Russians on national security, we can no more rely on the voters to pick our President than the Russians rely on voters to pick theirs. He is, in his mind, FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE. And he apparently truly believes this to be the real situation in the U.S. right now.

    In the memoirs of E Howard Hunt, Mr. Hunt says that after 20 or 30 years as CIA agents, that the agents start moving their furniture (mentally) into the fake and artificial identity and world that they live in day to day in the CIA (or covert life situation).

    If you follow my logic, here's what I will predict: Strzok and Mueller (the buddy of Whitey Bulger) will persist in their (one-track mind) quest until they either resort to violence against Trump or they physically slap handcuffs on Trump (or some equivalent over-the-top scenario).

    It's not that the FBI top leaders are sociopaths (as it may seem at first glance). They apparently look at life like that everything good and positive can only come from their actions. The Trump voters at Wal-mart smell bad. The FBI smells good. That's the whole perplexing situation in a nut-shell.

    James Lateer

  3. Default

    they physically slap handcuffs on Trump (or some equivalent over-the-top scenario).

    That would be awesome!

    Trump is a career criminal who deserves to die in jail.

  4. #1004

    Default The Deep State, Lies and the Truth

    Reproduced below is a chart which everyone on this site should be familier with. The link below is to the address of the entire study from which this chart is copied. It is my best evidence of how much the Deep State will lie and how big the lies typically are--read "Iron Curtain", "Evil Empire" etc. etc. (Personally I would never have wanted to live in a commune).

    The sad fact is this: the vast majority of people in the US have a brain which simply won't run on that special software---called the Truth.

    Pew Research Center

    Global Attitudes & Trends
    Nov.2, 2009
    End of Communism Cheered but Now with More Reservations
    People Worse Off Than Under Communism?
    Worse Same Better
    Hungary 72 16 8
    Ukraine 62 13 12
    Bulgaria 62 18 13
    Lithuania 48 15 23
    Slovakia 48 18 29
    Russia 45 15 33
    Czechos. 39 12 45
    Poland 35 12 42
    "Would you say that the economic situation
    (survey country's people) today is better,
    worse, or about the same as it was under
    communism?" Question wording varied
    slightly in Lithuania. Please see Topline for
    full question wording.
    James Lateer

  5. #1005


    Note: I have long been remiss in keeping up on this thread. I believe it is time to let it 'roll' Trumpty Dumpty is about to have a great fall. Personally, I do not see this in partisan [Democrat vs. Republican] nor Visible State vs. Deep State - although there are definitely elements of that rolled up within this mess. I see it through the lens of a man who never should have been President for an infinity of reasons. He is a racist, sexist, fascist, authoritarian, anti-democratic, autocratic, lying, war-mongering, anti-labor, anti-poor, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, oligarchic, anti-environment, know-nothing, good-for-nothing person. What few good ideas he had or he championed are drown out and cancelled out by his loutish behaviors and past misdeeds - let alone his recent ones, IMO. Were other politicians and Presidents bad - YES!...but this is the fast road to all out fascism - a course the country was on the slow road to before. .......... His money is dirty and always has been. His friends and connections are as well. America is in terrible shape - and will be even after Trump resigns or is impeached......that said the sooner we are rid of him the better to begin anew and NOT go back to bad practices as normal.

    Donald Trump: 'worst hour' for president as Manafort and Cohen guilty

    Former campaign chairman’s conviction and ex-lawyer’s plea deliver double blow as president faces legal jeopardy

    David Smith in Washington DC, Tom McCarthy in New York, Ben Jacobs in Virginia and Kevin Rawlinson
    Wed 22 Aug 2018 09.28 BSTFirst published on Wed 22 Aug 2018 01.24 BST



    ‘These are witch hunts and it’s a disgrace,’ Trump told reporters in Charleston on Tuesday night. Composite: AP/ReutersDonald Trump has suffered a huge double blow after one of his former associates pleaded guilty and another was convicted of financial crimes, potentially leaving the president himself in legal jeopardy.
    Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer and “fixer”, pleaded guilty to eight charges including campaign finance violations and directly implicated Trump in paying “hush money” to women with whom he allegedly had affairs.
    Just minutes earlier, Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, was convicted on eight charges of bank and tax fraud. The dual courtroom dramas set up a moment of rare peril for the president.
    Trump cries 'Russian witch-hunt' after ex-campaign chair and former lawyer found guilty – as it happened

    Read more

    “This is the worst hour of Trump’s entire presidency – no, make that entire life,” tweeted Norman Eisen, a former special counsel to President Barack Obama for ethics and government reform.
    The outcomes also raised grave questions about Trump’s judgment. Since his election, his national security adviser, personal lawyer, campaign chairman, deputy campaign manager and a foreign policy aide have all admitted or been convicted of crimes.
    The cases arose from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Tuesday’s events represent a significant victory for Mueller, who has been under pressure from Trump’s supporters to wind up what the president calls a “witch hunt”.
    In New York, Cohen claimed Trump directed him to make payments that violated campaign finance laws in an effort to stop Stormy Daniels, the pornographic film actor, and Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model, going public about alleged extramarital affairs. In entering the plea, Cohen did not name the two women, nor Trump.
    Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, asked in a tweet: “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?” Whether or when a president can be prosecuted remains a matter of legal dispute. Trump has denied any knowledge of the payments at the time they were made.
    Lanny Davis@LannyDavis

    Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?
    12:06 AM - Aug 22, 2018

    Twitter Ads info and privacy

    The disclosure was made as Cohen, once loyal to Trump, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations in a deal reached with federal prosecutors. He could get about four to five years in prison at sentencing on 12 December.

    The biggest Trump resignations and firings so far

    Read more

    Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, said on Tuesday night that Mr Cohen was open to talking to Robert Mueller for his investigation, telling MSNBC: “Mr Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows.”
    Davis told MSNBC Cohen had knowledge of “the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election” as well as “knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr Trump knew ahead of time about that crime.”

    Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Virginia, after the fourth day of jury deliberation, Manafort was found guilty of bank fraud, tax fraud and failure to report a foreign bank account. The charges carry a maximum sentence of decades in prison. He avoided conviction on some charges, however, with the jury saying it could not reach a consensus on 10 out of 18 total counts.
    Manafort faces additional charges in a separate case, to convene in Washington DC next month.
    In Charleston, West Virginia, arriving for a rally on Tuesday night, Trump told reporters: “This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. These are witch hunts and it’s a disgrace.”
    Play Video


    Manafort verdict is a 'witch-hunt' and 'disgrace', says Donald Trump – videoDespite his conviction on federal charges, Trump called Manafort a “good man”, adding: “He was with Ronald Reagan, he was with a lot of people.”
    Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, claimed the government’s charges against Cohen contained “no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president”, Reuters reported.
    Democrats sought to pile political pressure on Donald Trump after the news broke, with the party’s leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, denouncing the “rampant corruption and criminality at the heart of Trump’s inner circle”.
    She said: “Cohen’s admission of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money ‘at the direction of the candidate’ to influence the 2016 election shows the president’s claims of ignorance to be far from accurate, and places him in even greater legal jeopardy.”
    Manafort and Cohen convictions vindicate Mueller investigation

    Read more

    Pelosi also sought to place pressure on Trump’s Republican colleagues, whom she accused of propping him up. “Congressional Republicans’ determination to cover up for the president and his criminal cronies betrays their oath of office and undermines their duty to the American people.
    “House Republicans must abandon their complicity with president Trump and affirm that no one is above the law.”
    Pelosi also praised the work of Mueller, saying the convictions were proof that he and his team were “conducting thorough and professional investigations, which must be permitted to continue free from interference”.
    Pelosi added: “The Trump administration and Congressional Republicans’ unprecedented culture of corruption, cronyism and incompetence is characteristic of the dysfunctional political system in Washington.”
    A spokesperson for Paul Ryan, the Republican House speaker, said: “We are aware of Mr Cohen’s guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point.”
    Robert Khuzami, the prosecutor and deputy US attorney, said Michael Cohen would pay a “very, very serious price” for his crimes.
    Speaking to reporters outside the court in Manhattan, Khuzami listed Cohen’s admissions in detail. “These are very serious charges and reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant a period of time. They are particularly significant when done by a lawyer; a lawyer who, through training and tradition, understands what it means to be a lawyer who upholds honest and fair dealing and adherence to the law.”

    The rise and fall of Paul Manafort: he sold composure but lived on the edge

    Read more

    Khuzami said that Cohen had believed himself above the law.

    Speaking after the news broke, Stormy Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said Cohen’s guilty plea should lead to Trump being questioned about “what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it”.
    Daniels said she and Avenatti felt vindicated and look forward to apologies “from the people who claimed we were wrong”.
    At his trial in Virginia, Manafort stood stony-faced as he was found guilty on the eight counts, but winked at his wife, Kathleen, upon leaving the courtroom. He appeared weathered by his time in jail. His tan had faded, and his hair had greyed.
    Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, told reporters that his client is now “evaluating all of his options”. Downing also said that his client was “disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts”.
    The jury returned the verdicts on its fourth day of deliberation. Afterwards, federal judge TS Ellis III urged the jury not to share their deliberations with others, saying they owed a “duty of confidentiality” to their fellow jurors. Ellis praised both government and Manafort attorneys for their “effective and zealous representations”.
    The Virginia trial did not delve into the nature of Trump campaign contacts with Russia, which is the focus of the Mueller investigation. But the conviction of a figure as prominent as Manafort, who ran the Trump campaign for a crucial five-month period in 2016, was a blow to the White House and a boost for the special counsel, which continues to investigate the Trump campaign.
    Prosecutors presented evidence that Manafort had lied in seeking personal loans and lied to the Internal Revenue Service in reporting income related to his political consulting work in Ukraine and elsewhere.

    California congressman Duncan Hunter and wife charged with corruption

    Read more

    The defense argued that the prosecution had failed to prove that the banks acted on false information allegedly submitted by Manafort and attacked the credibility of former Manafort protégé Rick Gates, the government’s key witness.
    Gates testified that Manafort had asked him to help falsify banking and tax records and knowingly submitted those records. Manafort conducted various frauds, prosecutors charged, to fund lavish lifestyle items from coastal real estate to bespoke suits to a $15,000 ostrich jacket.
    The prospect of finishing his days in prison represented an astounding downfall for Manafort, a valued adviser to Republican presidents going back to Gerald Ford, and once a top Washington lobbyist and power broker.

    Donald Trump's reckoning has arrived

    Richard Wolffe

    Read more

    In a further blow to Trump on Tuesday, the US Department of Justice announced that Duncan Hunter, the second member of Congress to endorse the president, had been indicted on charges of using campaign funds for personal ends, along with his wife, Margaret.
    Trump’s first congressional backer, Chris Collins, was indicted on insider trading charges about two weeks ago.
    Referring to the Hunters, the Department of Justice said: “A 48-page indictment details scores of instances beginning in 2009 and continuing through 2016 in which the Hunters illegally used campaign money to pay for personal expenses that they could not otherwise afford.
    “The purchases included family vacations to Italy, Hawaii, Phoenix, Arizona, and Boise, Idaho; school tuition; dental work; theatre tickets; and domestic and international travel for almost a dozen relatives.
    “The Hunters also spent tens of thousands of dollars on smaller purchases, including fast food, movie tickets, golf outings, video games, coffee, groceries, home utilities, and expensive meals.”
    They are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
    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. Default

    The fix was in the moment Cohen hired Lanny Davis.

  7. #1007

    Default A LOT of interesting connections in this article.....not on the public radar yet.

    Look, I do not think the Trump 'Camp' or Trump Inc. whatever you want to call them have a political bone in their bodies [in the normal sense of 'political']. Their entire lives have been about making big money by whatever means and with whomever. Somehow they got involved with FSU mobsters, money launderers and oligarchs. I see nothing wrong with good relationships with the FSU or Russia - but that is not what this is about from either 'political' viewpoint in the standard US Press and political arena. This is about corruption and lies and money laundering etc. Would I like to see Hillary tried for her crimes in Ukraine and Libya and other things? Yes. But now we are talking about Trump Inc. and his clan and friends in corruption. A plague on both of their houses. A plague on business as usual in the USA and the totally corrupt branches of government. Unlike what Guilliani would have us believe Truth IS Truth - though it is sometimes hard to discern. On Trump now it is unraveling. Yes, many against him are against him for political partisan reasons -but he is so very corrupt and has been all his life - so completely unethical and fascist and has been all his life - at this point I don't care how he is brought down. Then we bring down the rest of the clowns - even those who are his enemies.......

    AUGUST 22, 2018 | RUSS BAKER


    Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0), US Air Force, Thomas Hawk / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0), and yat fai ooi / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

    By now, the world knows that Donald Trump’s longtime in-house lawyer, virtual bodyguard, and confidant has pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and breaking campaign finance laws. He’s got a lot of reasons to make a deal, and that puts his former boss in a particularly dicey situation.
    What potential problems does Cohen — and perhaps Trump by default — face?
    WhoWhatWhy readers were treated to details of Cohen’s highly unusual background and complicated relationships with mobsters, Ukrainians, and others in a lengthy investigation we published last year, long before most people even knew Cohen’s name.
    You can read that below.

    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).
    The following story, in documented detail, lays bare 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 is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in early September; although Committee staff have not confirmed this, Cohen said in June that it will be on September 5.

    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. Which is just what happened — he is now slated to testify before the House Intelligence Committee right after Labor Day.
    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 ownership of the 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 associated with 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 the Internet 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 contract with 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.

    · Jul 12, 2017

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


    One better -- Pics of a private dinner in Las Vegas with Aras, Emin, Goldstone, and Trump sitting directly across / next to each other:
    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 / 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 Service report. 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.
    Research assistance: Claire Wang
    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. #1008




    Donald Trump superimposed over the Taj Mahal. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from (Trump The Movie)

    WhoWhatWhy was recently hit by a major spambot attack that we have traced back to a network operating from Russia. The fact that they went after us is not particularly surprising — that comes with the territory of covering politics in the US these days. What was very interesting, however, was the specific story targeted.
    The Russians did not go after anything we published recently but rather a documentary on Donald Trump that was suppressed in the 1990s and that we published in its entirety in 2016.
    We don’t know why, but if this is something the Russians want to interfere with, then there is obviously only one thing we can do: Run the entire thing again.
    So below you will find brief summaries of the different parts (we had to split the documentary into 12 segments). We urge you to watch them all and come away with a better understanding of the US president. And if you think that you’ve stumbled upon something that attracted the interest of the Russians and that we might have missed, please get in touch with us.
    Even if you watched this documentary when we first made it public, we guarantee that it is worth your doing so again now. The way it ends, in light of what Trump has been doing, is even more ominous than it was when the documentary was made or when we first ran it.
    “The only end to this road is the ultimate madness,” Graydon Carter, the editor of SPYMagazine, said a quarter century ago.
    Carter predicted back then that Trump might end up “living alone in an apartment complex in Panama and growing his fingernails long and storing urine in mason jars. It’s that or taking over the world — one or the other.”
    Trump has been in office for a year and a half now and we still don’t know.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 1: The Documentary on Donald Trump He Tried to Suppress
    Donald Trump likes to portray himself as a winner. But in this never-before-aired documentary, we see a much more flawed and even tragic figure, whose failures and operating practices warrant close scrutiny (note: there’s a slight technical glitch in this particular segment where the video cuts off abruptly at the very end).

    Suppressed Documentary Part 2: Trump’s Escape Across the River
    Donald Trump not only inherited millions from his father — he learned that getting sued was just part of doing business.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 3: Trump Rides His Dad’s Coattails Into Manhattan
    In New York, political connections are key. Thanks to his father, Donald Trump knew the right people — and he rode those connections all the way to the top. Along with his shrewd business sense, they helped him soar.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 4: Trump Builds Himself a Monument
    The Donald built Trump Tower with a winning strategy: Get somebody else to finance it, work your connections, and get help from taxpayers.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 5: Birth of a Bully
    After Trump buys an occupied apartment building in the early 1980s, he has only one problem: the tenants. They stand up to his attempt to bully them — and hand The Donald his first big loss.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 6: Trump’s Foray Into Football Falls Flat
    Having amassed a fortune and established himself in Manhattan, Trump wanted to conquer the world of sports in the mid-80s. But his attempt to get an NFL franchise failed.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 7: Trump Documentary — The First Marriage
    As with everything else in Trump’s life, only the best would do — and that’s why the young couple enhanced the resume of Trump’s first wife, Ivana.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 8: Trump Flubs Florida
    Donald Trump’s huge error in a Florida business deal raises the question: Beyond his skill at getting attention, how good is he with the actual art of checking out deals — or policies — before going ahead with them?

    Suppressed Documentary Part 9: What Kind of Man Is Donald Trump Off Camera?
    A man who worked closely with Trump said he saw him treat people horribly, and that Trump subjected his own family to “extraordinary verbal assaults.” How he treated three loyal employees after their death may be even more telling.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 10: Trumpopoly — Playing With House Money and Still Losing
    Donald Trump likes to play by his own rules, even if that means bending those of society. And for those who dare defy him, he’s got a lawsuit waiting.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 11: Trump Dreams Big and Comes Up Short
    When Donald Trump bought a plot of land on Manhattan’s West Side, he had a grandiose vision of constructing the world’s tallest building. But a celebrity-led coalition of New Yorkers stood up to him.

    Suppressed Documentary Part 12 — It’s All or Nothing for Trump
    Trump exists in a world of extremes — there is winning and then there is everything else. And 25 years ago a prescient journalist offered a chilling vision of how it all might end.

    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

  9. #1009


    May I suggest a very interesting new book by Craig Unger - House of Trump; House of Putin. It takes things back 30 and more years and shows how Trump has had almost 60 strong connections to the Russian Mafia dons - made his fortune through them and was saved by them when he was billions in debt. He is essentially in debt or owned by them. They, in turn, are connected to the Russian national security apparat. He makes a very convincing case. The only place where the book falls down, IMO, is that he is blind to the fact that the US National security state also has a wing which is and has been Mafia [in the true sense] or Mafia-like in the Valentine sense. With that caveat or blind spot, still, this is a book to read to understand Trump and where he came from and is trying to 'go'. Others have covered much of this material, but this is the most comprehensive and clearest telling of this long and sad history. Someday someone will retell this story with the other half - the USA half and then we'll have a more complete story. There are names and connections here you've not heard of before - documented - and they will be coming out somehow and sometime soon. Trump and his family at best are being used and at worst are totally compromised. This began more than 30 years ago. The US tries and does the same thing in the obverse and that that is not even mentioned is a fault of the book....but here is a look at one side of the fetid waters of international politics and monied power. I hope those familiar with this website know that the same can be easily said of the other half [the US and its Western allies], no less guilty of similar things........ Just read this with a copy of, say, one of Bill Blum's books nearby or Valentine's latest......what is inside this book I think is very accurate and damning, it make the 'West' look better than it is [understatement] and the 'East' look like the only bad hombres on the World stage. In different ways neither side of the old 'cold-war' divide are playing things straight nor for the common good.....
    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. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    May I suggest a very interesting new book by Craig Unger - House of Trump; House of Putin. It takes things back 30 and more years and shows how Trump has had almost 60 strong connections to the Russian Mafia dons - made his fortune through them and was saved by them when he was billions in debt. He is essentially in debt or owned by them. They, in turn, are connected to the Russian national security apparat. He makes a very convincing case. The only place where the book falls down, IMO, is that he is blind to the fact that the US National security state also has a wing which is and has been Mafia [in the true sense] or Mafia-like in the Valentine sense. With that caveat or blind spot, still, this is a book to read to understand Trump and where he came from and is trying to 'go'. Others have covered much of this material, but this is the most comprehensive and clearest telling of this long and sad history. Someday someone will retell this story with the other half - the USA half and then we'll have a more complete story. There are names and connections here you've not heard of before - documented - and they will be coming out somehow and sometime soon. Trump and his family at best are being used and at worst are totally compromised. This began more than 30 years ago. The US tries and does the same thing in the obverse and that that is not even mentioned is a fault of the book....but here is a look at one side of the fetid waters of international politics and monied power. I hope those familiar with this website know that the same can be easily said of the other half [the US and its Western allies], no less guilty of similar things........ Just read this with a copy of, say, one of Bill Blum's books nearby or Valentine's latest......what is inside this book I think is very accurate and damning, it make the 'West' look better than it is [understatement] and the 'East' look like the only bad hombres on the World stage. In different ways neither side of the old 'cold-war' divide are playing things straight nor for the common good.....
    Are you saying in effect that the Russians hacked the US elections?
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

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