Showing posts with label Donald Trump. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Donald Trump. Show all posts

Monday, 19 March 2018

Trump brings out the knives in his effort to derail the FBI-Mueller investigation into Russian involvment in his presidential campaign

What occurred.....

Andrew McCabe became acting head of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after the sudden firing of James B. Comey on 9 May 2017 and, as acting head gave evidence before a US Senate committee in which he contradicted the WhiteHouse’s assertion that James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director fired by PresidentTrump...had lost the support of rank-and-file F.B.I. agents.

US President Donald Trump's reaction was hostile across multiple tweets over the following months and he implied that McCabe might be fired before he could retire.  

On 15 March 2018 The New York Times reported:

WASHINGTON — The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization in recent weeks to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter. The order is the first known instance of the special counsel demanding records directly related to President Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president.

Following hard on the heels of the Comey firing Mueller had been appointed to conduct an investigation into Russian links to Trump's 2015- 2016 presidential campaign.

The following day, 16 March, U.S. ABC News reported:

Former FBI deputy director Andy McCabe was fired Friday from the federal government, just two days before he was set to retire, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a statement late Friday night.

Nearly 24 hours earlier, McCabe was inside the Justice Department making the case to keep his job until Sunday when he officially qualifies for retirement benefits. His firing means his full pension — built after nearly 22 years in government — is in jeopardy.

After formal announcement of the McCabe sacking Trump tweeted this:

That Trump's move against McCabe is a step on the road to firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller might be inferred from the Dowd quote below. 

According to The Daily Beast  on 17 March 2018:

“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.
He told The Daily Beast he was speaking on behalf of the president, in his capacity as the president’s attorney.

McCabe's response.....

Statement released by Andrew McCabe's lawyer - sourced from Twitter

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Quote of the Week

“With no clear international achievement to his name, his major accomplishment in foreign policy has been provoking significant global backlash almost across the board.”  [Journalist Andrew Hammond writing about US President Donald J. Trump in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 March2018]

Monday, 5 March 2018

NUCLEAR DETERRENCE 101: “Tell them St Petersburg is armed and ready! Armed and ready with fishing poles and cast nets! We’ll throw a friggin’ mullet at ’em!”

Russia’s favourite arch-enemy and its looney tunes president have been rather quiet lately on the ‘let’s threaten Armageddon’ front.

Kim Jong-un rarely rates a tweet from Donald Trump these days.

So during his own 2018 presidential re-election campaign Vladimir Putin attempted to rattle the United States of America into a response…..

An eminently sensible reply from an ordinary American swiftly followed…..

“Tell them St Petersburg is armed and ready! Armed and ready with fishing poles and cast nets! We’ll throw a friggin’ mullet at ’em!” [The Guardian, 2 March 2018]

US President Donald Trump’s response was somewhat muted…….

[presidential dead silence]

Poor Putin. It’s hard to re-ignite the classic Cold War arch-enemy rhetoric when your American 'puppet' is so determined to publicly avoid criticising Russia.

Though perhaps the sight of Trump running scared on Twitter works just as well on the Russian domestic front.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

US Dept of Justice-FBI investigation of Russian links to Donald Trump's election campaign inexorably rolls on

On 17 May 2017 the probe into Russian influence on US political processes and collusion between the Russian Government and individuals associated with the election campaign of President Donald J Trump became an investigation which would inevitably lead to charges being laid.

To date both President Trump's former campaign manager and campaign deputy-director have been indicted, along with thirteen Russian nationals and three corporations.

Trump's former security adviser, along with a former member of his foreign policy advisory team and an individual who unlawfully supplied US bank accounts to Russians associated with the alleged political interference, have plead guilty to charges.

Current State of Play according to US Dept. of Justice

U.S. v. Internet Research Agency, et al (1:18-cr-32, District of Columbia)
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.

U.S. v. Richard Pinedo, et al (1:18-cr-24, District of Columbia)
Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, Calif., pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2018, to identity fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028.

U.S. v. Michael T. Flynn (1:17-cr-232, District of Columbia)
Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn (Ret.), of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 27, 2017, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017, after the defendants were permitted to surrender themselves to the custody of the FBI.

U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (1:17-cr-182, District of Columbia)
George Papadopoulos, of Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017.


U.S. v. Alex van der Zwaan (1:18-cr-31, District of Columbia)
Alex van der Zwaan, of London, pleaded guilty on Feb. 20, 2018, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.
Statement of the Offense

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III (1:18-cr-83, Eastern District of Virginia)
Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., were indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 22, 2018, in the Eastern District of Virginia. The indictment contains 32 counts: 16 counts related to false individual income tax returns, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud.

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr. (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment on Feb. 23, 2018, against Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 68, of Alexandria, Va. The superseding indictment contains five counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements.

U.S. v. Richard W. Gates III (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
Richard W. Gates III, 45, of Richmond, Va., pleaded guilty on Feb. 23, 2018, to a superseding criminal information that includes: count one of the indictment, which charges conspiracy against the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371 (which includes conspiracy to violate 26 U.S.C. 7206(1), 31 U.S.C. 5312 and 5322(b), and 22 U.S.C. 612, 618(a)(1), and 618(a)(2)), and a charge of making false statements to the Special Counsel’s Office and FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. A status report with regard to sentencing was scheduled for May 14, 2018.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Quotes of the Week

"And so it turns out that not only is Barnaby Joyce a shocking hypocrite, he's also a repulsive cliche."  [Journalist Clementine Ford describing Australian Deputy Prime Minister and MP for New England Barnaby Joyce, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 2018]

“Barnaby Joyce has a history of screwing over women.”  [Journalist Kasey Edwards writing about Australia’s deputy prime minister in The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2018]

"During the 2016 presidential campaign and into the White House, Trump and his aides have defended a male aide accused of domestic violence, a male Senate candidate accused of pursuing inappropriate relationships with teens and a male campaign manager accused of assaulting a reporter. In each case, Trump and his top staffers used strikingly similar language to defend the accused, noting that he had denied it, defending his integrity and casting doubt on the women's claims."  [Journalist Ryan Teague Beckwith writing in Time magazine, 8 February 2018]

Sunday, 11 February 2018

In the same week Wall Street was finally spooked by the sheer weight of Donald Trump's inadequacies as the 45th US President.....

.....and the Dow Jones Index indicated that financiers and big business might be seriously worried about possibly higher than expected interest ratesrising national debt and the size of the US federal budget deficit Trump created in his first twelve months in office - he also rather unwisely performed in front of the cameras on the subject of treason.

YouTube, Time, 5 February 2018:

CNN, 5 February 2018:

 (CNN)President Donald Trump wasn't -- and, apparently, still isn't -- happy that Democrats in Congress didn't stand to applaud him in his State of the Union address last week.

"They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, 'treasonous.' I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn't seem to love our country that much."

So, here we are. Again.

Let's quickly define "treason," shall we?

"The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family."

Trump loyalists will dismiss all of this as much ado over nothing. He was joking! He didn't even say that it was treasonous! He was just agreeing with people who said it was treasonous!

Fine. Also, wrong. And missing the point in a major way.

The point? It's this: Not standing during applause lines for the State of the Union isn't treasonous or un-American. Not even close.

If it was, all of the Republicans in that chamber are treasonous and un-American as well because when former President Barack Obama would tout his accomplishments in office -- as Trump was doing last Tuesday night -- lots and lots of Republican legislators would sit on their hands while the Democratic side of the aisle erupted in cheers. And so on and so forth for every president before him (and after).

The Washington Post, 6 February 2018:

This isn’t the first time Trump has used the T-word as president. Just last month, he accused FBI agent Peter Strzok of treason for sending negative text messages about him during the 2016 election to a lawyer at the FBI who he was having an affair with. “By the way, that’s a treasonous act,” the president told the Wall Street Journal. “What he tweeted to his lover is a treasonous act.”

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Now that's a bad hair moment!

Makeup line exposed along with a considerable amount of bald pate....

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Quotes of the Week

"The Cozy Bear [Russian] hackers are in a space in a university building near the Red Square. The group's composition varies, usually about ten people are active. The entrance is in a curved hallway. A security camera records who enters and who exits the room. The AIVD hackers manage to gain access to that camera. Not only can the intelligence service now see what the Russians are doing, they can also see who's doing it. Pictures are taken of every visitor. In Zoetermeer, these pictures are analyzed and compared to known Russian spies. Again, they've acquired information that will later prove to be vital."  [De Volkskrant, on the subject of Russian interference in 2016 presidential election, 25 January 2018]


"The separation of powers doctrine dictates that the judiciary should not be the subject of improper influence by the other branches of government – being the executive and legislature. Comments by Dutton and other Coalition ministers to the effect that members of the judiciary should be selected on the basis of their ideological leanings and ability to deliver "tough" sentences – rather than independently look at all factors and apply the law – seek to undermine this doctrine and unduly influence both the selection process and practices of the judiciary. Dutton's populist political grandstanding may have some members of the public "egging him on", but the reality is that such rhetoric seeks to undermine one of the central pillars of our democracy." 
[Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 23 January 2018]


No president in history has burned more public money to sustain his personal lifestyle than Donald Trump”  [former George W. Bush staffer David Frum in his book Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic]


“The events I’ve described in these pages are based on conversations that took place over a period of eighteen months with the president, with most members of his senior staff—some of whom talked to me dozens of times—and with many people who they in turn spoke to. The first interview occurred well before I could have imagined a Trump White House, much less a book about it, in late May 2016 at Trump’s home in Beverly Hills—the then candidate polishing off a pint of Häagen-Dazs vanilla as he happily and idly opined about a range of topics while his aides, Hope Hicks, Corey Lewandowski, and Jared Kushner, went in and out of the room.
Conversations with members of the campaign’s team continued through the Republican Convention in Cleveland, when it was still hardly possible to conceive of Trumps election. They moved on to Trump Tower with a voluble Steve Bannon—before the election, when he still seemed like an entertaining oddity, and later, after the election, when he seemed like a miracle worker.
Shortly after January 20, I took up something like a semipermanent seat on a couch in the West Wing. Since then I have conducted more than two hundred interviews.” [Author Michael Wolff from his book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” published 5 January 2018]


Sunday, 21 January 2018

United Nations spokesperson calls US President Donald J Trump a racist

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"These are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States. I'm sorry, but there's no other word one can use but 'racist'.

"You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes', whose entire populations are not white are therefore not welcome. 

"The positive comment on Norway makes the underlying sentiment very clear.

"Like the earlier comments made vilifying Mexicans and Muslims, the policy proposals targeting entire groups on grounds of nationality or religion, and the reluctance to clearly condemn the antisemitic and racist actions of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, all of these go against the universal values the world has been striving so hard to establish since World War Two and the Holocaust.

"This isn't just a story about vulgar language, it's about opening the door to humanity's worst side.

"It's about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and even destroy the lives of many people, and that's perhaps the single most damaging and dangerous consequence of this type of comment by a major political figure."

U.S. Political Retrospective: those first investigations into presidential candidate Donald J Trump

Sometime in September or October 2015 Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS began a broad investigation of then Republican presidential candidate nominee Donald J Trump under contact for an unspecified client and later commenced another investigation of Trump as official Republican presidential candidate for a different client in the first half of 2016.

Simpson later confirmed the clients to be in the first instance The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by a major Republican donor and in the second instance the Democratic National Committee and Clinton presidential campaign.

Excerpts from Christopher Steele’s 35-page ‘dossier’ created under contract for research company Fusion GPS:

U.S. SENATE, WASHINGTON, D.C., SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, excerpts from a partial transcipt of INTERVIEW OF: GLENN SIMPSON, 22 August 2017 (released 9 January 2018 in response to his request) , in which he explains how and where he looked for initial information about Donald Trump:

“In the early -- the very first weekend that I
started boning up on Donald Trump, you know, I
found various references to him having connections
to Italian organized crime and later to a Russian
organized crime figure named Felix Sater,
S-A-T-E-R. It wasn't hard to find, it wasn't any
great achievement, it was in the New York Times,
but as someone who has done a lot of Russian
organized crime investigations as a journalist
originally that caught my attention and became
something that, you know, I focused on while other
people looked at other things.
So from the very beginning of this organized
crime was -- Russian organized crime was a focus of
interest. I guess I should just repeat, you know,
this is a subject that I covered extensively at the
Wall Street Journal. I wrote a series of front-
page articles about various corrupt politicians
from Russia, oligarchs, and one of the things that
I wrote about was the connections between western
politicians and Russian business figures. So, you
know, I was sort of an amateur student of the
subject and I had written about some of these same
Russian crime figures, you know, years earlier in
the U.S. and various frauds and things they were
involved in……

You know, we also conducted a much broader
sort of look at his entire career and his overseas
investments in places like Europe and Latin
America. You know, it wasn't really a Russia
focused investigation for the first half of it.
That was just one component of a broader look at
his business career, his finances. We spent a lot
of time trying to figure out whether he's really as
rich as he says he is because that was the subject
of a libel case that he filed against a journalist
named Tim O'Brien for which there was quite a lot
of discovery and litigation filings detailing
O'Brien's allegation that he was worth, you know,
maybe a fifth to a third of what he claims and
Trump's angry retort that he was worth far more
than that.
So we did things like we looked at the golf
courses and whether they actually ever made any
money and how much debt they had. We looked at the
bankruptcies, how could somebody go through so many
bankruptcies, you know, and still have a billion
dollars in personal assets. So those are the kinds
of things. We looked at a lot of things like his
tax bills. Tax bills are useful because you can
figure out how much money someone is making or how
much they're worth or how much their properties are
worth based on how much they have to pay in taxes.
One of the things we found out was that, you
know, when it comes to paying taxes, Donald Trump
claims to not have much stuff. At least the Trump
organization. So they would make filings with
various state and local authorities saying that
their buildings weren't worth much……

For instance, in the early stage of an
investigation, you know, particularly of Donald
Trump you want to get every lawsuit the guy's ever
been in. So, you know, we collected lawsuits from
around the country and the world. And I do
remember one of the earlier things we did was we
collected a lot of documents from Scotland because
he'd been in a big controversy there about land
use. There had been another one in Ireland. There
was a lot of Freedom of Information Act requests
and that sort of thing.
So in the early phases of something you're
collecting lots of paper on every subject
imaginable. So in the course of reading that
litigation we would follow up on things that were
interesting, such as a libel case against a
journalist that he settled, which, in other words,
he didn't prevail in his attempts to prove that he
was a billionaire.”……

It was, broadly speaking, a kind of
holistic examination of Donald Trump's business
record and his associations, his bankruptcies, his
suppliers, you know, offshore or third-world
suppliers of products that he was selling. You
know, it evolved somewhat quickly into issues of
his relationships to organized crime figures but,
you know, really the gamut of Donald Trump.
What we generally do at the beginning of a
case if it's possible is to order all the books
about the subject from Amazon so we're not
reinventing the wheel and we know what's been
written and said before. So this was typical. We
ordered every Donald Trump book and, to my
surprise, that's a lot of books. I was never very
interested in Donald Trump. He was not a serious
political figure that I'd ever had any exposure to.
He's a New York figure really.
So anyway, we read everything we could read
about Donald Trump. Those books cover his
divorces, his casinos, his early years dealings
with labor unions and mafia figures. I'm trying to
think what else. His taxes certainly have always
been a big issue. Again, it was sort of an
unlimited look at his -- you know, his business and
finances and that sort of thing……

That calls for a somewhat long answer. We
had done an enormous amount of work on Donald Trump
generally at this point in the project and we began
to drill down on specific areas. He [Christopher Steele] was not the
only subcontractor that we engaged. Other parts of
the world required other people. For example, we
were interested in the fact that the Trump family
was selling merchandise under the Trump brand in
the United States that was made in sweat shops in
Asia and South America -- or Latin America. So we
needed someone else for that. So there were other
things. We were not totally focused on Russia at
that time, but we were at a point where we were --
you know, we'd done a lot of reading and research
and we were drilling down on specific areas.
Scotland was another one
So that's the answer. What happens when you
get to this point in an investigation when you've
gathered all of the public record information and
you've begun to exhaust your open source, you know,
resources is that you tend to find specialists who
can take you further into a subject and I had known
Chris since I left the Wall Street Journal. He was
the lead Russianist at MI6 prior to leaving the
government and an extremely well-regarded
investigator, researcher, and, as I say, we're
friends and share interest in Russian kleptocracy
and organized crime issues. I would say that's
broadly why I asked him to see what he could find
out about Donald Trump's business activities in

I mean, one of the key lines here in the
second paragraph says "However, he and his inner
circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence
from the Kremlin, including on his democratic and
other political rivals."
So the issue with the Trump Tower meeting, as
I understand it, is that the Trump people were
eager to accept intelligence from a foreign
government about their political rivals and that
is, you know, I would say, a form of interference.
If you're getting help from a foreign government
and your help is intelligence, then the foreign
government's interfering. I mean, you know, I
think that also -- of course, in retrospect we now
know this was pretty right on target in terms on
what it says. So anyway --
I mean, it clearly refers to, you know,
them being interested in and willing to -- it
depicts them as accepting information. What we
have seen to date with the disclosures this year is
they were at a minimum super interested in getting

We've seen hacking in politics before, but this
kind of, you know, mass theft of e-mail and then to
dump it all into, you know, the public sphere was
extraordinary and it was criminal.
So the question by now of whether this was
Russia and whether this might have something to do
with the other information that we'd received was,
you know, the immediate question, and I think this
is also -- by the time this memo was written Chris
had already met with the FBI about the first memo.
So he's -- if I can interpret a little bit here.
In his mind this is already a criminal matter,
there's already a potential national security
matter here.
I mean, this is basically about a month later
and there's a lot of events that occurred in
between. You know, after the first memo, you know,
Chris said he was very concerned about whether this
represented a national security threat and said he
wanted to -- he said he thought we were obligated
to tell someone in government, in our government
about this information. He thought from his
perspective there was an issue -- a security issue
about whether a presidential candidate was being
blackmailed. From my perspective there was a law
enforcement issue about whether there was an
illegal conspiracy to violate the campaign laws,
and then somewhere in this time the whole issue of
hacking has also surfaced.
So he proposed to -- he said we should tell
the FBI, it's a national security issue. I didn't
originally agree or disagree, I just put it off and
said I needed to think about it. Then he raised it
again with me. I don't remember the exact sequence
of these events, but my recollection is that I
questioned how we would do that because I don't
know anyone there that I could report something
like this to and be believed and I didn't really
think it was necessarily appropriate for me to do
that. In any event, he said don't worry about
that, I know the perfect person, I have a contact
there, they'll listen to me, they know who I am,
I'll take care of it. I said okay. You know, I
agreed, it's potentially a crime in progress. So,
you know, if we can do that in the most appropriate
way, I said it was okay for him to do that……

A second and complete interview transcript is available:
Trump's wild and inappropriate response to the release of Glenn Simpson interview transcript: