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

  1. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    Estulin is a very strange if intelligent person. Some of his analysis seems logical to me - other parts not at all. I don't find Trump any different 'animal' then a standard far right type (other than his manner and lack of knowledge of politics, history, or command of the English language - and morality [even faking it]). When Estulin spoke demeaningly of Ocassia-Cortez, I turned it off - I think she's great. He's a strange bird - he admits his ?former? ties to Russian intelligence and I'm not sure what his game is, but it is much, much more complex that appears on the surface. Again, he's very intelligent and some of his analysis is on the mark IMHO...while other analyses are not at all. I am not sure if his goal is to explain or to create new 'narratives' for people to follow. Thesis, synthesis or propaganda all seem to be rolled into his dialogue. Complex, but I'm not about to join his 'religion'. FWIW
    I listened all the way through. I kept wondering what is he going to do with Venezuela. Crickets. That's what he did. The Trump gambit in Venezuela should make his supporters brains explode. If you are going to MAGA, then you would not start some color revolution which will send hordes of refugees north, as in the color revolutions in the ME.

    But with heavy doses of neuro linguistic programming, we see the neuro plasticity of the the conservative mind.
    "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

  2. #1082

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    Trump’s Fascist Efforts to Demolish Democracy


    YouTub
    e

    This article was initially published on The Conversation.
    Fascist politics is once again on the rise in the United States, Europe and Latin America.
    As an echo from the past, its principles and attitudes are re-emerging in a populist rhetoric that embraces extreme forms of nationalism, the cult of the leader, systemic racism, a culture of fear, a hatred of dissent and an utter disdain for the truth.
    Driven by a hatred of “the other” and infused with narratives of decline and victimization, fascist politics trade in an incendiary rhetoric of fear, demonization and violence.

    It creates divisions by targeting groups it defines as criminal, less than human, and then expands its hate-mongering to other groups as part of an attempt to deepen and expand a culture of terror, insecurity and disposablilty.
    It attempts to build power through aggressive attacks on the media, critics and the judiciary.
    Resentment based on real economic and existential insecurities become fodder for cult-like figures to misdirect anger, feed collective hate and foster a climate of shared fears and social divisions.
    Fascist politics is inseparable from the culture of violence, which it uses as its primary tool of communication and weapon of choice.
    Trump’s attack on the ‘others’
    One recent example can be found in U.S. President Donald Trump’s ongoing escalation of attacks on migrants. He has referred to the caravan of refugees from Central America as an invading criminal force against whom he is mobilizing as many as 15,000 troops, more than currently serve in Afghanistan.
    According to Trump, the caravan of migrants had “violently overrun” Mexico and were on the verge of invading the United States.
    Prior to the midterm elections, he called immigrants “predatory” and “the worst scum of the world.” After the midterms, he ramped up the violence by authorizing “U.S. troops guarding the border against migrant caravans to use deadly force if necessary.”
    Trump’s language does more than promote a decline in civility, it also advocates state terrorism while functioning as a savage nod to the most extremist elements of his base of support.
    For instance, he has threatened to order U.S. soldiers to shoot migrants and refugees from Central America if they throw rocks at them. In addition, he has pledged to use an executive order to rewrite the U.S. constitution and annul birthright citizenship.
    Trump’s rhetoric and policies point to a terrifying new horizon for the political arena and its modes of governance. It shows that domestic terrorism is alive and well.
    It’s evident in Trump’s refusal to condemn Saudi Arabia for the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump has made clear that human rights and even murder can be overlooked if dictators have money to spare in order to purchase U.S. military hardware. In the fascist playbook, commercial deals take precedent over human rights, justice, and liberty.
    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump





    “It’s a mean & nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular. This is a long and historic commitment, & one that is absolutely vital to America’s national security.” @SecPompeo I agree 100%. In addition, many Billions of Dollars of purchases made in U.S., big Jobs & Oil!


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    Trump has unleashed what Frankfurt School theorist Theodor Adorno once called an “authoritarian irrationality,” the dark and menacing underside of a racist and totalitarian psychology and politics.
    Trump may not be Adolf Hitler, but there are disturbing similarities in his language and reactionary policies.
    Recognition and resistance
    It’s precisely these historical lessons that should be examined carefully so that the plague of fascism can be both recognized in its current form and resisted so that it will never happen again.
    The entrepreneurs of hate are no longer confined to the dustbin of history. The architects of fascist politics are with us once again, stoking dystopian fantasies in the decaying communities and landscapes produced by 40 years of a savage capitalism.
    Angry loners, displaced workers and bitter nativists looking for a place to park their misdirected anger are vulnerable to cult leaders. They’ve found one in Trump.
    Campaigning for the midterm elections, Trump reached for the fascist playbook and calculatedly promoted racism, hatred and ignorance in a cynical move that should send alarms ringing across the globe.
    Amid an outbreak of violence that included the killings of two African-Americans in a grocery store in Kentucky, a campaign of mail bombs sent to high-profile Democrats and critical celebrities, allegedly by one of his fervent supporters, and the mass murder of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Trump refused to acknowledge that his toxic rhetoric has fanned the flames of racism and anti-Semitism.


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    Instead, he blamed the media for the violence and labelled them “the true enemy of freedom.”
    He also called Democrats the “party of crime” determined “to unleash violent predators and ruthless killers” onto American streets.
    In addition, he has ratcheted up his demonization of immigrants by branding them not only as rapists, drug dealers and criminals but also as Mideast terrorists.
    He’s also publicly and proudly stated that he’s a nationalist (code for a noxious strain of beliefs espoused by racists and white nationalists), emboldening right-wing extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, the American equivalent of the Nazi Brownshirts.
    ‘Weaponizes language’
    Incapable of both empathy and self-reflection, Trump uses language in the service of lies, vilification and violence.
    His inflammatory rhetoric does more than legitimize and accelerate acts of violence; it weaponizes language as a tool of political opportunism without regard for the suffering and misery it inflicts on individuals and entire groups considered disposable.
    He thrives in creating social divisions and merges ignorance and power to fuel conspiracy theories, eliminate the line between fact and fiction and give credence to the expanding media village of the extreme right.
    Trump attempts to criminalize political opposition, maligns immigrants and others as losers and revels in his role as a national mouthpiece for white nationalists, nativists and myriad extremist groups.
    He’s unconcerned about the power of words to inflame, humiliate, and embolden some of his followers to violence. Instead, he displays a sadistic desire to relegate his critics and those he views as not white enough or ethnically abhorrent to zones of terminal exclusion.
    ‘Abolish democracy’
    His call to “Make America Great Again” reveals his nostalgia for a white Christian past. Allan Nairn, the award-winning investigative journalist, gets it right in arguing that Trump and the Republican Party want “to abolish democracy…because that’s the only way they can perpetuate their power” and create a form of “domestic fascism.”
    What’s so duplicitous and dangerous about Trump is that he hides behind the institutions of representative democracy, which he attempts to destroy by stealth and through an accumulation of assaults rather than through an outright suppression of civil liberties and political rights, though that may be on the horizon.
    Part of Trump’s demolition of democracy is his tactic of turning his almost daily assaults into a form of political theatre. It’s evident in his ongoing rallies that overflow with menace, not unlike the fascist Nuremberg rallies of the 1930s.
    As the master of the spectacle, Trump normalizes through sheer repetition his ongoing attempts to fuel hatred, racial divisions and the destruction of social bonds, all of which is necessary for fascist politics to flourish.
    In the Trump era, the line between deadly violence and the rhetoric of a fascist politics is dangerously thin. And as historical memory fades and civic literacy is disparaged, the rise of barbarism and brutality are on the rise.
    Using language to resist
    That’s why critically addressing Trump’s language is a crucial act of political resistance.
    Trump’s hateful rhetoric also proves that education is central to politics, because it’s through language and diverse forms of communication that power materializes to shape consciousness, desire, identity and values.
    It’s crucial therefore in the age of Trump to use the language of resistance, one that’s rooted in compassion for others, expands the reach of justice and encourages us to confront the forces of tyranny.
    Language is the precondition for education, and education is central to politics itself. We need a new language that both inspires and energizes people to think otherwise in order to act otherwise.
    The current crisis of politics is not simply about the rise of fascist politics, it is also about the crisis of language, memory, and agency. Now is the time for individuals and social movements to give new meaning to the recognition that without an informed citizenry, democracy cannot survive and individual and collective resistance will disappear.

    Henry Giroux

    Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and...
    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. #1083

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    Resisting the Weaponization of Ignorance in the Age of Trump



    Malicious ignorance is a willful refusal to reflect enough to do justice to the complexity of an idea and its potential consequences.JARED
    BYHenry A. Giroux, TruthoutPUBLISHEDFebruary 12, 2019







    PART OF THE TRUTHOUT SERIES



    Ignorance now rules the U.S. Not the simple, if somewhat innocent ignorance that comes from an absence of knowledge, but a malicious ignorance forged in the arrogance of refusing to think hard about an issue. We most recently saw this exemplified in Donald Trump’s disingenuousness 2019 State of the Union address in which he lied about the amount of drugs streaming across the southern border, demonized the immigrant community with racist attacks, misrepresented the facts regarding the degree of violence at the border, and employed an antiwar rhetoric while he has repeatedly threatened war with Iran and Venezuela. Willful ignorance reached a new low when Trump — after two years of malicious tweets aimed at his critics — spoke of the need for political unity.
    Willful ignorance often hides behind the rhetoric of humiliation, lies and intimidation. Trump’s reliance upon threats to impose his will took a dangerous turn given his ignorance of the law when he used his speech to undermine the special council’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He did so with his hypocritical comment about how the only things that can stop the “economic miracle” are “foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” to which he added, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” According to Trump, the Democrats have a choice between reaching legislative deals and pursuing “ridiculous partisan investigations” — clearly the country could not do both.
    William Rivers Pitt is right in claiming that in one moment Trump thus tied “the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation inextricably to terrorism, war and political dysfunction.” As Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim point out, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to this criticism by “accusing Trump of an all-out threat to lawmakers sworn to provide a check and balance on his power.”

    Malicious ignorance is a willful refusal to reflect enough to do justice to the complexity of an idea and its potential consequences. This is a kind of ignorance that combines the mindset of tyrants with a notion of unreflective certainty that banishes doubt and views opposing positions as acts of treason that are often deserving of some kind of punitive action. Unfortunately, we live at a moment in which ignorance appears to be one of the defining features of U.S. political and cultural life. Ignorance has become a form of weaponized refusal to acknowledge how the violence of the past seeps into the present, reinforced by a corporate-controlled media and digital culture dominated by fatuous spectacles and consumerist trivia.
    In the age of Trump and the rise of illiberal democracies all across the globe, James Baldwin was certainly right in issuing in No Name in the Street the stern warning that “Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” Trump’s ignorance lights up the Twitter landscape almost every day. He denies climate change along with the dangers that it poses to humanity, shuts down the government because he cannot get the funds for his wall — a grotesque symbol of nativism — and heaps disdain on the heads of his intelligence agencies because they provide proof of the lies and misinformation that shapes his love affair with tyrants. This kind of power-drunk ignorance is comparable to a bomb with a fuse that is about to explode in a crowded shopping center. This dangerous type of ignorance fuses with a reckless use of state power that holds both human life and the planet hostage.
    Ignorance in a Culture of Immediacy

    It sometimes feels as if the age of big ideas has come to an end, transformed into a scattered set of cultural spheres that reinforce the elevation of ignorance to a national ideal and form of weaponized politics. For example, culture has been turned into a disimagination machine that prioritizes a culture of metrics and the hypnotic seductions of the screen. (It’s no coincidence that Trump is the first president whose main source for understanding the world and generating policies is the television.)
    Trump’s ignorance lights up the Twitter landscape almost every day.Americans live in a culture of immediacy that has created new forms of social and historical ignorance and erasure. As writer John Gray points out, disparaging the past has become “a mark of intellectual respectability.” He then reinforces the point by quoting literary critic Francis O’Gorman, who argues that in the current age marked by “a revival of intolerance” it has become “easier to affirm elements of a Nazi ideology recast in versions of white supremacy.” What Gray was rightfully suggesting, often missed by many progressive commentators, is that fascism never confined itself to the past and is now winning ideologically on a new kind of battlefield.
    Time no longer has a long durée; it has to be instantaneous, pulsating with information that barely adds up to a sustained idea. Time is now connected to short-term investments and quick financial gains, defined by the nonstop and frenetic perpetuation of an impoverished culture of global exchange. Time is no longer connected to long-term investment in community, the development of social well-being, and goals that benefit young people and the common good. Time has become a burden more than a condition for contemplation.
    The flow of money now replaces the flow of thoughtfulness, critical dialogue and informed judgment. This is exacerbated in a culture of immediacy in which instant gratification rules and thoughtful contemplation becomes a thing of the past. Long-term investments have given way to short-term investments, and in doing so, have erased any long-term commitments to valued relationships, young people, intimacy, justice and compassion. Barbarism presents itself in acts, experiences and forms of suffering that vanish from the mainstream media as quickly as they appear.
    The language of neoliberalism erases any notion of social responsibility, and in doing so, eliminates the belief that alternative worlds can be imagined. Under the Trump administration, the world of the robust imagination, a vibrant civic literacy, and inspiring and vitalizing ideas are turned into ashes. Ignorance, forgetfulness and cruelty now merge into a notion of common sense that sustains the willful ignorance of the rich and powerful. How else to explain Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stating during the shutdown, when thousands of federal workers missed their paychecks, that he did not understand why some of them were visiting food banks or seeking food assistance when they could be taking out loans.
    This is a form of ignorance that morphs into a culture of cruelty, one that is all too apparent as part of larger mechanisms of power and violence in the United States. As civic culture disappears, historical memory is broken, and words such as fascism, nativism, genocide, internment, war and violence appear as empty abstractions, only to be trivialized or dismissed in the 24-hour news cycle now driven by Trump’s Twitter convulsions.
    Life Under Neoliberal Authoritarianism

    In the current historical moment, there is a growing worldwide rejection of liberal democracy. We live in an age in which a distinctive form of authoritarianism has emerged which fuses the toxic austerity policies and ruthless ideologies of neoliberalism with the racist and ultra-nationalist principles and attitudes of a fascist past. What might be called a state-manufactured grammar of violence, white supremacy and ignorance no longer hides in the shadows of power and ideological deception. It is now displayed as a nativist badge of honor by right-wing politicians and pundits such as Steve Bannon.
    Not only is authoritarianism and the expanding architecture of violence on the rise in countries such as Poland, Hungary, India and Turkey, it is also on the rise in the United States — a country that has prided itself, however erratically, on its longstanding commitment to democratic rights. Democratic institutions, relations, values, principles and passions are under siege both by the vicious forces of neoliberal capitalism and by the forces of white supremacy and ultra-nationalism, which have been given a new life in the resurgent elements of fascism, albeit in updated forms.
    What must be remembered is that fascism is not a static ideology rooted in a particular moment in history. The conditions that produce torture chambers, intolerable violence, extermination camps, a politics of disposability and racial cleansing are still with us and cannot be easily dismissed as a relic of the past. As Hannah Arendt, Sheldon Wolin, Umberto Eco and others have observed, the ghosts or warning signs of totalitarianism are crystalizing in new forms and now herald a possible model for the future.
    Racial hatred, war, a contempt of dissent, disdain for education, the dismantling of the welfare state, the celebration of civic illiteracy, and the use of state violence against immigrants, Muslims and people of color have become normalized in many countries including the United States. Moreover, there is also a systemic erosion of civic culture and any sense of shared citizenship, not to mention a full-fledged attack on the ecosystem in the name of pillaging the planet for financial gains.
    Notions of collective responsibility have been replaced by a collective numbing that collapses the line between a genuine moral crisis and the fog of ethical indifference.Under neoliberal capitalism, there are no commanding ethical visions. The public has collapsed into the private, and a culture of self-absorption appears fully attuned with a growing aesthetics of vulgarity that thrives on a celebrity culture of ignorance that wields enormous authority, and merges with a spectacle of violence that disingenuously presents itself under the banner of mass entertainment. As neoliberal societies produce massive levels of inequality in wealth, power and income, they increasingly legitimate themselves through a culture of fear, state violence and hyper-consumerism that empties politics of any meaningful relationship to a broader public.
    A morbid inequality now shapes all aspects of life in the United States. Three men — Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates — have among them as much wealth as the bottom half of U.S. society. In a society of pervasive ignorance, such wealth is viewed as the outcome of the actions and successes of the individual actors. But in a society in which civic literacy and reason rule, such wealth would be considered characteristic of an economy appropriately named casino capitalism. In a society in which 80 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck, and 20 percent of all children live below the poverty line, such inequalities in wealth and power constitute forms of domestic terrorism — that is, state-initiated violence or terrorism practiced in one’s own country against one’s own people.
    State violence has been intensified around the globe in its suppression of dissent, killing of journalists, scapegoating of minorities and the use of militarized polices forces. In addition, the substance of politics is increasingly undermined in a mood economy in which the language of therapy, self help and self-transformation has exploded under a neoliberal regime that claims that the personal is the only politics there is. The self is now cut off from any sense of common purpose and solidarity, if not social and political responsibility. As the language of community, civic culture and crucial public spheres collapse, people are increasingly atomized and rendered powerless, and more than willing to believe that they have little control over their lives.
    As I have analyzed in my book American Nightmare, under the banner of a fascist politics, political extremists such as Donald Trump have taken this sense of anger, anxiety and helplessness, and used it to tell their supporters that they should be angry about Black people, immigrants, Muslims, and a host of other groups that have nothing to do with the economic and existential problems that the majority of the population faces daily.
    The Role of Violence in Contemporary Life

    What has become increasingly clear in the United States is that an emerging fascist politics produces a new kind of carnage that is marked by escalating poverty and misery among large sections of the public. This carnage is coupled with the relentless violence manifested in an epidemic of social isolation, an opioid crisis, mass shootings, the growing presence of the police in all public spheres, and a culture of fear that strengthens the security state and diminishes the welfare state.
    Violence has moved from a tool of terror and punishment to a dangerous political space in the wider culture that signals both the loss of historical memory, and a flight from reason and morality. Violence is now both incremental and explosive, dispersed and immediate, but in both cases it is increasingly normalized as it moves between the symbolic and real life.
    This is a violence stretched across multiple landscapes and functions as both an attritional violence that is difficult to see and a spectacularizedviolence all too visible in its catastrophic effects. The deep-seated grammar of violence at work in U.S. society with its slow-motion toxicity is often lost in those forms of violence that are fully exhibited in a televisual digital culture. The visceral and the eye-catching now commands our attention while the slow-burning violence that hides beneath the made-for-TV violence of fiery hot forests, volcanoes, earthquakes and mass shootings remains unnoticed.
    We now struggle to perceive structural and systemic violence behind the exhibition of “toxic imagery” that venerates the spectacle and conceals the conditions that degrade human life. Is it any wonder that notions of collective responsibility have been replaced by a collective numbing that collapses the line between a genuine moral crisis and the fog of ethical indifference? As Brad Evans makes clear in Atrocity Exhibition, this is a violence that is as existential as it is visceral. There is nothing abstract about the subject of violence, especially under the leadership of a growing number of authoritarian leaders, with Trump at the front of the line, who enable and legitimate it.
    The paramount role of violence in many countries today raises questions about the role of the university, academics and students in a time of tyranny. Equally so, it raises crucial questions about the centrality of education to politics and especially how the wider culture functions pedagogically to produce particular kinds of agents, desires, identifications and modes of agency either in support, or at odds with, democratic values and social relations. The latter opens up new questions regarding how we think about the very terrain of politics.
    How might we imagine education as central to politics whose task is, in part, to create a new language for students, one that is crucial to reviving a radical imagination, a notion of social hope and the courage to collective struggle? How might higher education and other cultural institutions address the deep, unchecked nihilism and despair of the current moment? How might higher education be persuaded to not abandon democracy, and take seriously the need to create informed citizens capable of fighting what Walter Benjamin once called the “illumination” of fascism and its swindle of fulfillment? As American studies professor Christopher Newfield argues, “democracy needs a public” and higher education has a crucial role to play in this regard as a democratic public good rather than defining itself through and primarily within the culture of business and the values of the financial elite.
    Current discourses about fascism often point to the assumptions that drive its politics in its current and diverse forms. What is not often mentioned is the formative culture that gives it meaning, creates the subjects who identify with its toxic worldview, and shapes the desires it mobilizes as part of a larger set of assumptions about the future and who shall inherit it. If we are to expand these important considerations, it is crucial to address how culture and education are intimately connected with social relations rooted in diverse class, racial, economic and gender formations.
    No one who believes in a radical democracy can remain numb and silent in the face of the merging of ignorance and power.To do so we must connect the domains of meaning and representation with the development and functioning of institutional forms of power, especially what might be called the rise of commanding cultural apparatuses that mark a distinctive form of public pedagogy in the current historical moment. Moreover, we need to rethink how culture is not only marked by different sites of struggle, but also how such struggles take place around and over language, values and social relations within the institutions that organize them, extending from public and higher education to the mainstream media to the expansive world of digital culture.
    Insisting That Radical Change Can Happen

    In an age when culture works to depoliticize, consumerize and privatize, the spaces available for cultural workers to engage in critical pedagogical work that makes power visible are under siege. Yet, it is precisely such spaces where power can be challenged through the use of radical educational and pedaogogical practices that can be used to translate private issues into broader social considerations. These spaces support the production of persuasive alternative ideas, modes of identification, critical forms of agency and courageous forms of political action.
    Under Trump, the assault on free speech and dissent has been widely recognized. Less is said about the broader and more pernicious use of language in the service of violence, and how it carries the potential for producing world views that align with the meanings and discourse of a fascist past. No one who believes in a radical democracy can remain numb and silent in the face of the merging of ignorance and power in a language that dares to celebrate the horrors of the unspeakable.
    John Dewey, Václav Havel and others have long warned us that a simplistic faith in the stability of the institutions in which a democracy is grounded will automatically prevent the emergence of authoritarianism. But authoritarian societies are not just the result of bad governance. They emerge from a more fundamental deformation in the culture itself. That is, democracy’s survival depends on a formative culture whose strength lies in a set of habits and dispositions rooted in a civic culture and a civic literacy capable of sustaining it.
    The deep-seated habits of cruelty, greed, consumerism, racism and unchecked individualism at the heart of neoliberal fascism are eroding the social fabric that make a democracy possible. Coercion, fear and repression are not the only tools used by authoritarian societies. Matters of value, identity, agency and the habits of solidarity when in crisis are as threatening to a democracy as are the forces of repression. Ignorance is the mortar and building blocks of fascism. Politics follows culture, and this means that an informed public is central to any democracy. Being informed is a habit of democracy that supports a broader understanding of how education and the institutions that sustain it can be protected.
    We live in dangerous times and there is an urgent need for more individuals, institutions and social movements to come together in an effort to construct a new political and social imaginary. We must support each other in coming to believe that the current regimes of tyranny can be resisted, that alternative futures are possible and that acting on these beliefs will make radical change happen.

    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. #1084

    Default

    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. #1085

    Default Trump, Personal Freedoms and Mueller

    Have been out of commission with serious health issues. But I have had time to think.

    Sadly, the only accomplishment of the Mueller Investigation has been to reveal (again) the ugly face of many of the FBI top echelon.

    It is all too obvious that we haven't progressed a bit from the days of Nixon-Mc
    Carthy, J Edgar Hoover and Deep Throat Mark Felt (who himself wound up in jail).

    At least McCarthy/Hoover/Nixon were working under a shared ostensible motive of removing Communists (albeit revelling in political terrorism). With the Mueller/McCabe/Comey group, their only motive seems to be that they think they should be able to amplify their personal votes for President a million-fold. These people may be actually being sponsored by Globalist billionaires behind the scenes. But nobody could be forcing them to do what they are doing. The Mueller Probe is the handiwork of the persons involved.

    Brilliant artists paint brilliant paintings. Certain brilliant FBI executives create brilliant frame-ups. The more important the target, the more pride in the frame-up. That is apparently their art form.

    The old saying is that any prosecutor can convict a guilty defendant. It takes a really talented prosecutor to convict an innocent defendant.

    James Lateer

  6. #1086

    Default Interesting article on another 'take' on Michael Cohen by WhoWhatWhy

    FEBRUARY 27, 2019 |
    RUSS BAKER

    MICHAEL COHEN’S MURKY BACKSTORY WARRANTS MORE SCRUTINY

    Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen (left) arrives with his lawyer Lanny Davis (right) for his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 26, 2019. Photo credit: © Chris Kleponis/CNP via ZUMA Wire

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    This week, it’s wall-to-wall Michael Cohen on Capitol Hill. Cohen, testifying both behind closed doors and in public to not one, not two, but three committees, is revealing new things, some extraordinarily newsworthy, explosive, consequential, even profound. Notwithstanding that, there is no indication that Donald Trump’s former “enforcer” is telling all. Not by a long shot.

    A great deal remains to be discovered about Cohen and the nature of his nearly two-decade dalliance with Trump. At WhoWhatWhy, we began raising questions about this almost a year and a half ago, in a lengthy investigation into Cohen’s past.
    The crux of the article was that Cohen and his Ukrainian in-laws had somehow become very wealthy and put a lot of that wealth into apartments in Trump properties. After that, he was brought into Trump’s team, where he handled some of Trump’s stickiest problems.
    Cohen had a range of family and business connections to the former Soviet Union. He also turns out to have been a childhood friend of another figure in Trump’s orbit, Felix Sater, who had mob ties and was convicted of criminal activity. He also had his own ties to the former USSR.
    What does all this mean? And what does it suggest In terms of the potential wooing of Trump by interests associated with Vladimir Putin?
    Thus far, no information has emerged on this core issue. Does Mueller have anything? Will Cohen testify before Congress truthfully and completely? What has he got to lose? But will Congress ask the right questions?
    We’re told that, due to the ongoing Mueller investigation, Cohen may not discuss anything about dealings with Russia this week. Hence, large news organizations have been focusing very narrowly on what Cohen can explain to Congress. For example, CNN poses five questions “Michael Cohen Needs to Answer” — on the following issues:

    • Hush money to women
    • Coordinating statements on the Moscow Trump Tower project
    • Money the Trump inaugural committee may have accepted from foreigners
    • Where a pardon for Cohen was discussed
    • Questions asked by the US attorney in Manhattan that he refused to answer

    .
    These are of course important and interesting questions and could put Trump in a very difficult position. But the story may go much deeper.
    ***
    Below, we republish our original work on the murky backstory of Michael Cohen. That backstory has yet to receive broad public or media attention — or to be fully explained.
    As you read it, here are some questions to ponder:
    How did Cohen manage to buy all this Trump real estate?
    Why did Trump hire him?
    And, knowing what we now know about his long-term efforts to engage with Trump, did any of this have something to do with the Kremlin?
    Trump used other attorneys for routine business. Cohen seemingly handled only the most problematic and delicate matters. That put him in a particularly powerful position with respect to Trump’s greatest vulnerabilities.
    Michael Cohen’s strange trip into the land of Trump. 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).
    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 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 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.
    Petrel@burevestnik3

    · Jul 12, 2017



    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


    34

    8:30 AM - Jul 12, 2017
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    23 people are talking about this










    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 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.

    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. #1087

    Default Interesting discussion on Fascism, generally in the World today, and touches on Trump, Blair, et al.

    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. #1088

    Default

    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. #1089

    Default

    Having read a LOT of the Mueller report, I agree with the following.....I agreed with it before it was written. Trump has to go and the only way to force him to go is Impeachment [even if the Senate won't convict]. Mueller was NOT a witch hunt - it puts all the horrible things we knew in context and with dots mostly connected.....and his remit was narrow. This horrible thing in the White House must go. Yes, the others since JFK have been pretty bad, as well [Carter being the only slightly better], and Hillary would have been another kind of horrible - but this is a way of saying 'none of the above' will be tolerated......... Trump has been breaking the law since he was a teen - and it is not befitting a country that pretends to be a democracy run by rule of law to allow him to continue doing so as President about things that effect this Nation and the World! Sorry, I see no wiggle room. One can easily download the report in PDF format and read it yourself. Even with the redactions it is damning. With the narrow focus it is damning. A good website to read if you are too lazy is emptywheel.net - for predigested bits, best 'worst' bits, etc. ....and the Report/Investigation didn't even get into the emolluments crimes and other crimes with nepotism, Nazis, racism, Muslims, immigrants, asylum seekers, the poor, the middle-class, and one can go on and on and on. This President makes Pres. Shrub look fit for office..... that alone is an incredible feat!!!! Trumpf has shot someone on Fifth Ave.....and if you can't see it is you and all your fellow citizens you are blind........ There are many 'eggs to break' beyond Trump and I am all in for breaking them too....but start at the top and lets tear down the entire system - it is rotten to the core to allow such a thing to happen in the first place and give the People two absolutely horrible choices for President along with 80+% of Congress who should also be impeached [better never elected].....and then we take on unbridled Crapitalism....but one has to start somewhere and I say it is here......

    Do the Right Thing: Break Some Eggs and Impeach

    There’ve been a lot of eggs cracked today. Not all of the eggs in need of cracking came in pretty dyed shells.
    Like the oeuvre floating around out there claiming impeachment is bad for the country. (I’m looking at you, Tumulty.)
    There’s really no question about what must be done. There’s only a fight against spin protecting an un-indicted co-conspirator, or worse. Sadly, some of the spin comes from the left and it needs to be smashed right now.
    But why impeach? they ask.
    Because it’s the right thing to do when a law enforcement investigation reveals a pattern of unlawful behavior.
    Because it’s the right thing to do when the president systematically engages in abuse of power and unethical behavior, causing states and non-governmental groups alike to sue to protect human rights.
    Because it’s the right thing to do when the president breaks his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
    Because it’s the right thing to do when the president fails to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
    Because it’s the necessary thing to do when the president’s incompetence or bigotry results in the deaths of thousands of American citizens without so much as an apology.
    Because it’s the right thing to do when the president permits and/or encourages dangerous deviations — some in secret — from national security policy without debate, advice, and consent by Congress.
    Because it’s the right thing to do when the executive usurps co-equal branches’ power to check the executive.
    Because failure to do so yields the co-equal power of Congress to the executive for the worst of reasons — because it’s too much trouble, timed inconveniently, unpopular.
    Because failure to do assures future unethical presidents, they, too, need not worry they will be held to account by the branch of government charged with doing so; they’ll feel protected, insulated from rebuke and punishment.
    Because failure to do so assures a certain class of person they are above the law while telling the average citizen they belong to a second and lower class.
    Because failing to do so sends a message to foreign powers that tampering with our elections will go unchecked; a mere censure will only enrage a malignant narcissistic executive while doing nothing to deter hostile foreign actors.
    Because we are a nation of laws, and the law provides for the rebuke and removal of an executive guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, including unlawful orders, bad faith execution, unethical behavior, and abuse of office.
    Because we must lead the future by example, demonstrating the exercise of oversight powers which include impeachment of a failed executive even when a country is divided by popular opinion.
    There are far too many constructive reasons why we should impeach the executive; the risk from failing to attempt impeachment is far greater, considering the hollowing out of government and undermining of long-term policy continuing apace. The common good demands it.
    Do we proceed directly to impeachment? This is a matter of conjecture — I believe we need to investigate the gaps in the Special Counsel’s report, including counterintelligence, so that we address each item in full view of the public with the exception of classified matters. The executive must be fully accountable to the people; he governs only with their consent which is already thin based on his loss of the popular vote.
    Will investigative and impeachment hearings get in the way of legislative business? No. Congress has investigative hearings all the time in addition to legislative business. The legislative work to date has been piling up at the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk because he is obstructing House Democrats by gatekeeping. Will any less legislation be passed by the Senate if the House dedicates any more time to investigative hearings? No, thanks to McConnell.
    Read the Special Counsel’s report for yourself. Ask yourself if what you read represents the combined work of a candidate and president and his campaign and administration who are truly intent on serving the best interests of this entire country. Were these individuals willing to set their personal interests aside and work toward a more perfect union, establishing Justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty for all?
    Or were they working for themselves and personal or familial enrichment, for their personal glory and entitlement, and for the benefit of some other non-U.S. entities to our likely detriment?
    Begin the impeachment process. Let’s break some eggs.
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 04-22-2019 at 04:24 AM.
    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. #1090

    Default

    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

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