Tom Barrack, you are UNDER ARREST.
What a difference an AG makes! Donald Trump's former BFF Tom Barrack, a real estate gazillionaire who chaired Trump's hinky AF inaugural committee, was just arrested by the feds for
violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act [Edit] Failing to register as an agent of a foreign government, obstruction of justice, and lying to the FBI.
Don't worry, Donny, you'll catch up eventually!
The seven-count indictment, dated July 16 and unsealed today in the Eastern District of New York, alleges that Barrack used his position of trust to secretly influence both candidate Trump and his blighted administration for the benefit of the United Arab Emirates. And, yes, EDNY is the same office which is investigating the inauguration. Looks like they might just have gotten their hands on some substantial leverage!
"The defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack's friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected President, high-ranking campaign and government officials, and the American media to advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances," Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko of the DOJ's National Security Division said in a press release. "The conduct alleged in the indictment is nothing short of a betrayal of those officials in the United States, including the former President. Through this indictment, we are putting everyone — regardless of their wealth or perceived political power — on notice that the Department of Justice will enforce the prohibition of this sort of undisclosed foreign influence."
Oh, yeah, we're betting the former President is real broke up about being betrayed by a guy who was clearly in bed with the Saudis and the Emiratis from the jump.
Barrack's efforts during the campaign and the transition on behalf of Emirati Crown Prince Muhamed bin Zayed (colloquially known as MbZ) included reviewing a draft of candidate Trump's speech with his clients and working to insert praise of the UAE and remove references to "dictatorships," as well as working with them to draft an editorial praising "the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, [where] brilliant young leaders are crafting forward-looking policies to effectively forge a new Middle East." The editorial ran under his own name with no disclosure that it was written at the behest of a foreign government.
And now we will stop and contemplate the karmic wonder of a universe where Barrack was chatting up incoming National Security Advisor Mike Flynn about his grand plans for the Middle East, just as Flynn himself was drafting his own editorial at the behest of his own secret client, the Turkish government. UAE and Turkey are ... not friends. Also, the editorial was one of the reasons Mueller popped Flynn for violating FARA. Okay, perhaps it's not karma as much as endemic corruption in the grifter crew with which Trump surrounded himself. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.
During the inauguration planning, Barrack's Emirati clients gleefully contemplated four years with a man inside to argue their case with the dipshit president.
"You are our secret weapon," they gushed, as they plotted their strategy to pump Trump for all he was worth.
"I have our regional interest in high profile," Barrack promised as he gave his UAE officials real time insight into potential Trump administration appointees, including secretaries of State and Defense and the head of the CIA.
Once Trump was sworn in, Barrack lobbied the administration to get the Muslim Brotherhood designated a terrorist organization in accordance with his Emirati clients' wishes. He even tried to get himself appointed ambassador to UAE as part of his plan to serve UAE interests, which "would give Abu Dhabi more power!"
Most hair-raising was Barrack's attempted intervention to get President Babyhands to support the Saudi/Emirati blockade of Qatar in the summer of 2017.
And in the beginning, it actually worked, with that fucking fool actually taking credit for the operation on June 6, 2017: "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!"
"So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar," he blarbled. "Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"
Eventually, Rex Tillerson managed to impress upon that fucking moron that the US had 10,000 troops stationed in Qatar and blockading it was not on. And eventually the Emiratis appear to have soured on Barrack. But that won't save him from the prosecutors at EDNY.
Good luck, Tommy. You're gonna need it.
And with that, it's your OPEN THREAD.
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We've been hearing for years from US intelligence that Vladimir Putin "personally" approved operations in 2016 to help steal the election for Donald Trump. As many years of investigations have shown, those operations were extensive and involved members of Trump's personal team. As recently as this spring, we the general public got even closer to understanding what appears to be Paul Manafort's important role in conveying secret information to Russian intelligence that they could use in their hacking and social media targeting operations to boost Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
But what did "personally" approved mean? Did Putin just put it on the Kremlin's to-do list, after "pluck the random dark hairs out of my large Russian nipples" and "make me a sammich"? Was there a meeting?
If what appears to be a high-level leak of documents from the Kremlin is legit, it sounds like there was a meeting where Putin literally approved a "multi-agency plan" to skullfuck the 2016 election for Trump. Luke Harding and two of his colleagues published this morning in the Guardian, and Luke Harding is a good reporter. In other words, this isn't Ken Vogel thinking he smelled some funny uraniums in Ukraine and declaring without evidence that Hillary did it.
According to the report, on January 22, 2016, Putin met with Russia's national security council — you know, all his bigwigs — and ordered his intel agencies to do anything and everything they could to support "mentally unstable" Donald Trump in his mentally unstable pursuit of the White House. They wanted to throw America into "social turmoil." (Mission: accomplished.) They thought Trump was their "most promising candidate," for their own shitbag Kremlin purposes.
Russia's three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin's signature. [...]
A report prepared by Putin's expert department recommended Moscow use "all possible force" to ensure a Trump victory.
Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin.
Russia's ministry of truth asshole Dmitry Peskov says these are all lies, but he has about as much credibility as Kayleigh McEnany, so put a point in the "probably true" column. Also all of this just sounds like the Kremlin, how it operates, and it squares with everything else we know about the 2016 campaign and Trump's slobbering, needy kiss-assing of Putin. For God's sake, Trump begged Russia to help him on live TV. "Russia, if you're listening!" They were.
The documents reportedly call Trump an "impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex." Tell us what you really think, Kremlin! Surprised they didn't mention his weird disgusting penis. The docs say a Trump election would "lead to the destabilisation of the US's sociopolitical system." Nailed that one, too.
And they lay out the why of the benefits of a Trump victory, from Russia's perspective.
Moscow would gain most from a Republican victory, the paper states. This could lead to a "social explosion" that would in turn weaken the US president, it says. There were international benefits from a Trump win, it stresses. Putin would be able in clandestine fashion to dominate any US-Russia bilateral talks, to deconstruct the White House's negotiating position, and to pursue bold foreign policy initiatives on Russia's behalf, it says.
As always, we must ask what the FUCK happened in Helsinki? Can we get some documents on that from the Kremlin, since Trump was always stealing the interpreters' notes?
Oh also also also! The docs apparently have things in them about PEE TAPE! Allegedly!
There is also apparent confirmation that the Kremlin possesses kompromat, or potentially compromising material, on the future president, collected – the document says – from Trump's earlier "non-official visits to Russian Federation territory".
The paper refers to "certain events" that happened during Trump's trips to Moscow. Security council members are invited to find details in appendix five, at paragraph five, the document states. It is unclear what the appendix contains.
Wonkette would like to please see appendix five, paragraph five. You know, just for journalism purposes. If it's not a pee tape, people should know. If it's a poop tape ... OK if it's a poop tape, Russia can keep that to itself.
Here are some more details:
The paper does not name Hillary Clinton, Trump's 2016 rival. It does suggest employing media resources to undermine leading US political figures.
There are paragraphs on how Russia might insert "media viruses" into American public life, which could become self-sustaining and self-replicating. These would alter mass consciousness, especially in certain groups, it says.
After the meeting, according to a separate leaked document, Putin issued a decree setting up a new and secret interdepartmental commission. Its urgent task was to realise the goals set out in the "special part" of document No 32-04 \ vd.
And it sounds like that commission got to work fast. As Harding reminds us, the DNC hack came just weeks later.
As we said, it's possible that these docs aren't legit, though, as we said, Luke Harding is a good reporter. It could be more Russian disinfo, but all the experts contacted for the report apparently said this appears to be super legit, and very Kremlin, right down the delusions about Russia's and Putin's greatness and the paranoia.
Sir Andrew Wood, the UK's former ambassador in Moscow and an associate fellow at the Chatham House thinktank, described the documents as "spell-binding". "They reflect the sort of discussion and recommendations you would expect. There is a complete misunderstanding of the US and China. They are written for a person [Putin] who can't believe he got anything wrong."
Wood added: "There is no sense Russia might have made a mistake by invading Ukraine. The report is fully in line with the sort of thing I would expect in 2016, and even more so now. There is a good deal of paranoia. They believe the US is responsible for everything. This view is deeply dug into the soul of Russia's leaders."
Also, Harding has receipts like an actual picture from the Kremlin's website confirming that a meeting took place that very day. Harding says those pictured are exactly the right people for such a meeting. He says the official readout of the meeting doesn't discuss what really allegedly happened there, but that's no different from the White House website during the Trump years, hashtag BIN LADEN SERVER.
Part of what's so shocking about this is how not shocking it is. It's exactly what we'd expect to see. And we are so desensitized to the "so that happened" nature of all of this by this point. Sure, it'll probably lead off the Maddow show tonight, but how much further will it reverberate?
It's also shocking that this leaked in the first place. We hope the leaker is protected, because while in America Donald Trump might have used his time as president to whine about executing whoever leaked his sniveling, shitting Bunker Baby stories to the world, Putin actually follows through on that.
Godspeed, and more document production, please.
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All of it, Katie.
Well, well, well. Ever since Joe Biden became President of these American United States, we've been learning a whole lot about what happened during the election. No, not the one Donald Trump and his leaking minions are going to deny the results of until they die of natural human causes. The one that installed Trump in the office in the first place. The one that it's getting harder and harder to deny was probably literally actually stolen.
We are of course talking about Paul Manafort, Trump's 2016 campaign crime manager.
When President Biden's Treasury Department announced new Russian sanctions last month, it went the furthest we have seen so far in explaining exactly what Manafort was doing with that Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik in 2016. Kilimnik, who is currently Most Wanted by the FBI, was one of Manafort's main squeeze business partners, and the Treasury Department said in April unequivocally that "Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy." We already knew where Kilimnik got that data — it was from Manafort! It was internal Trump campaign Rust Belt polling and modeling data!
And where did Trump "win" that election by a handful of votes, even though Trump's final tally in the 2016 popular vote was "fuck you"? Yes, that would be the unlikeliest inside straight ever, in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
But back in the days of the Mueller Report, we didn't have information about exactly what Kilimnik was doing with the info Manafort was giving him. It always seemed pretty obvious Kilimnik was giving it to the Russian government in some way or another, but "seemed pretty obvious" did not rise to the level of proving the conspiracy. Hell, it wasn't until the then-GOP-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) issued its final Russia report in the summer of 2020 that anybody was willing to say outright that Kilimnik was a Russian spy. SSCI did that.
Well, there have been some very important UNREDACTIONS this week about Manafort's lies that blew up his plea deal with the Justice Department, and surprise, they confirm just about everything that seemed pretty obvious at the time but nobody could say for sure out loud. What did he lie about? Oh, just all the Kilimnik shit. And some other shit.
it's a lot of documents, and you can hop in here and splash around if you'd like.
We'll let Adam Klasfeld at Law & Crime do some summarizing, because he's smart, and Jesus, there is a lot of news today:
Both the Mueller report and the bipartisan Senate committee found that Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates "periodically" gave Kilimnik the Trump campaign's internal polling data, even though Gates told the special prosecutor that he suspected that Kilimnik was a Russian "spy." [...]
Weissmann [said] Manafort falsely claimed he did not tell Gates to share the polling data with Kilimnik, but emails and testimony showed that Manafort personally authorized that.
He lied about what he was telling Rick Gates to give to the Russian spy!
And remember the "peace plan" for Ukraine? Remember how we learned that any time you talked about "peace plan" you were talking about "sanctions" and a back door for letting Russia get away with stealing Ukraine without consequences? That's the other thing Manafort lied to the investigators about just repeatedly:
According to the Mueller report, Kilimnik had been pursuing a Ukrainian so-called "peace plan" at least four times before and after the 2016 presidential election, and Manafort misled prosecutors about these plans.
"Over the course of several interviews, Manafort lied about the fact and frequency of his discussions with Kilimnik about a Ukraine peace plan," Mueller's deputy Andrew Weissmann wrote in December 2018, in a sentence whose conclusion remains redacted.
"The plan involved the creation of an autonomous eastern Ukraine," the memo states, an outcome that Mueller eventually revealed to be "a 'backdoor' way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine."
Manafort had acted like he just talked to Kilimnik once about it and they never spoke of it again. "Manafort said he told Kilimnik the idea was crazy and the discussion ended," the documents say. But in fact, they talked about it a lot.
Funny how those are the two things Manafort just lied and lied and lied about. One might think that was the thing Russia wanted in return for however its intelligence services were using the polling data being supplied by Manafort through Kilimnik. Yes, one might think.
Maybe that's why Andrew Weissmann in early 2019 told Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who just unsealed these documents, that these issues went "very much to the heart of what the Special Counsel's office [was] investigating." Also remember that the main reason Robert Mueller couldn't prove conspiracy was because all these assholes constantly deleted their communications and also lied to him.
One more biggie:
According to the unsealed memo, Manafort claimed after signing his plea agreement that he had "no direct or indirect communication with anyone" in the Trump administration—"on any subject matter."
"The evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts," the memo stated. "The evidence demonstrates that Manafort had contacts with Administration officials."
Well that is just a lot of lies. He lied to investigators about passing secret notes, in effect, to the Kremlin. He lied about discussions about creating "peace" in Ukraine, by handing it to Russia. And he lied about whether he was still cahoots-ing with the Trump administration after he agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
As we said, none of this is unexpected. But it sure is interesting how all the pieces of what we've been talking about for years are just falling into place now that we have a real president.
NO COLLUSION, though.
Here's Adam Schiff talking to Lawrence O'Donnell about these unredacted documents last night:
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Yes, yes, yell at the court about Deep State, that will work.
Rudy Giuliani is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it any more. In a screaming 17-page letter to US District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken, Rudy and his lawyers demand that the court put off the review of materials seized during the April 28 raid of his home and office so that these legal eagles can first litigate the secret warrants that allowed the government to seize his electronic communications from Apple and Google in 2019. Careful with that link, kids, the spittle fairly rises off the page to baptize you with bile!
In a show of DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO I AM that would make Meghan McCain blush, Giuliani howls at length about the injustice of a man of his stature being treated like a common criminal.
"Unfortunately for Giuliani, and even more unfortunately for the attorney-client privilege and executive deliberation privilege, and the public's perception that those privileges are real, the SDNY simply chose to treat a distinguished lawyer as if he was the head of a drug cartel or a terrorist, in order to create maximum prejudicial coverage of both Giuliani, and his most well known client – the former President of the United States," huffs the man who pioneered the use of the perp walk for accused white collar criminals.
There's the requisite noise about Hunter Biden's laptop, along with an attempt to prove that Giuliani wasn't lobbying on behalf of foreign agents from Ukraine, by repeatedly referring to all the times Giuliani approached United States government officials to lobby them about Ukraine. Which may or may not be exactly the PWN he thinks it is.
How could Rudy be lobbying on behalf of foreigners when he marched right in the front door of the State Department and tried to get our ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, fired in accordance with Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko's wishes? And what about Rudy's cooperation with deputy US Attorney Scott Brady in the Western District of Pennsylvania, whom Bill Barr seems to have assigned to babysit the president's lawyer as he drove around in a cul-de-sac spinning his wheels about Ukraine?
Reading this rancid pile of goat entrails, Giuliani seems to be claiming that the government lied to the judge who approved the initial application for a secret warrant for his communications. As proof, Rudy cites the years-long campaign he coordinated with shady Ukrainian figures who are now on the Treasury Department's sanctions list for efforts to interfere with the 2020 election.
It's a bold strategy, Cotton!
The histrionics continue at length, with Giuliani demanding to know whether the judge who approved the April 28 warrant was told that Bill Barr and his successor Jeffrey Rosen blocked earlier efforts by SDNY to conduct similar searches, as if internal DOJ deliberations are something prosecutors are obliged to disclose.
Then the guy whose pals at the New York FBI field office sure did seem to be leaking a raft of shit about Hillary Clinton to him in the lead-up to the 2016 election accuses SDNY of leaking to Rep. Adam Schiff — arrest this man for the murder of irony! — and demands that the underlying affidavits for the first warrant be released so that he can test this theory. (Please don't waste a lot of time trying to make that make sense.)
Rudy Giuliani, the same man who defied a House subpoena and refused to answer any questions about his work in Ukraine -- because PRIVILEGE! -- insists that all the government had to do was ask him if he was lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, and he'd have told them anything that wasn't privileged. (In his version of privilege, we thiiiiiink that entails giving the finger to investigators while simultaneously going on Hannity to scream nonsense.)
"The search of an attorney's office should be done rarely and only under extraordinary circumstances. Otherwise, such high profile and heavily publicized searches such as those of President Trump's attorneys will just continue to erode and finally extinguish citizen reliance that communications for legal advice are really seriously protected," he spews.
Think of the public!
This argument is echoed by hairball lawyer Victoria Toensing, who filed a substantially less wacko request asking for substantially the same thing. Instead of having the data sorted by a special magistrate, she wants the government to give her back her phone and issue her a subpoena for documents, after which she'll hand over anything she thinks isn't privileged. And if you can't trust someone who set up shop in the back room of the Trump hotel to run a disinformation campaign using dubious foreign intelligence to target a presidential candidate, who can you trust?
Meanwhile, the Daily Beast reports that Rudy is still convinced that any minute now Daddy Trump will swoop in to save the day. It's not clear whether the rescue will come in the form of a public announcement that everything Rudy did was 100 percent legal work for Trump, or a motion to assert attorney-client privilege over the documents seized in the search (as he did with Michael Cohen), or possibly just a good, old-fashioned infusion of cash to pay Rudy's lawyers. Maybe all three!
But if Rudy's waiting on Trump to stick his neck out and suddenly claim ownership of every hinky thing Rudy did when he was gallivanting all over Eastern Europe rolling around with Russian agents, he probably shouldn't hold his breath. On the other hand, the former president can raise infinity dollars for his "legal defense," so maybe he'll be willing to throw some of that funny money at this case.
The important thing is to stay positive, Roods! Chin up, little fella. And keep that shirt fully tucked!
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