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Are your eyes glazing over from reading about never-ending Trump-Russia scandals? Is it all starting to sound like endless car horns? How is the Peener Payoff part of the Russia investigation now? And what the hell does the NRA have to do with the Trump Tower meeting? Well, it's easy ....

IT'S THE SANCTIONS, STUPID.


Why did the Russians start cozying up to the NRA in 2011? Because after Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in jail for uncovering a tax fraud scheme by Putin's cronies, his friend Bill Browder persuaded the American government to sanction the men implicated in his death. Congress was making a list of BAD HOMBRES to lock out of American capital markets, and Russian oligarchs, like Maria Butina's handler Alexander Torshin, were desperate to keep their names off it. So they headed for the Annual Gunhumpers' Jamboree where Republican politicians get their marching orders.

See, the Russian government has a nasty habit of expropriating assets from businessmen who get crosswise with Vladimir Putin. So Oleg the Oligarch needs a place in New York, or London, or Zurich, or Paris to park his family and enough stolen loot to live on. And if he can't stop the Magnitsky Act from getting passed, Oleg would very much like to be at that NRA roundtable next to a congressman who can stop it from affecting him personally. Spasibo!

IT'S THE SANCTIONS, STUPID.

Ditto the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event where 4,000 Friends of the Lord raise their eyes heavenward and pray that the circle of donors and congressional whores may remain unbroken. Twice Maria Butina bought a table of tickets for Russians to rub shoulders with GOP policymakers and express their hope that the unfortunate sanctions would be lifted soon. Such a shame Russians can't contribute directly to American political campaigns. OR CAN THEY?

IT'S THE SANCTIONS, STUPID.

So what were all those Russians doing talking about adoptions at Trump Tower with Dipshit Jr., Jared, and Paul Manafort back in June 2016? Well, in 2012, Vladimir Putin's government reacted to America's Magnitsky Act by barring Americans from adopting Russian babies. And Kremlin lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya was offering to frame Hillary Clinton for accepting illegal campaign contributions from Bill Browder if the Moron Squad would just eighty-six those annoying sanctions. Which went sailing over Dipshit and JarJar's stupid heads, of course. But not Paul Manafort's -- here are his notes from that meeting.


IT'S THE SANCTIONS, STUPID.

And what did Putin and Trump talk about all by themselves in Helsinki? Putin asked if Trump would pretty please let Russian investigators "interview" Bill Browder and former Russian ambassador Michael McFaul, who was instrumental in passing the Magnitsky sanctions and has spoken out against Putin's corrupt regime. And instead of saying NO FUCKING WAY we're handing our ambassador over to the FSB, President McTreasonweasel said, "Incredible offer!"

Because the pee tape is real! Or maybe it isn't, and Trump just really, really wants to make Vladimir Putin smile to see his little eyes sparkle with joy. WHO CAN SAY?

IT'S THE SANCTIONS, STUPID.

And, hey check out this Atlantic story from yesterday about Russia using Interpol's warrant system to get the US to hand over political opponents in the absence of an extradition treaty.

Interpol cannot compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice, according to its guidelines, and "the United States does not consider a Red Notice alone to be a sufficient basis for the arrest of a subject because it does not meet the requirements for arrest under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution," according to the Justice Department. But the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. immigration courts are effectively facilitating "backdoor extraditions," as one immigration attorney said, in their reliance on Red Notices as a basis for detention and, ultimately, removal.

Suddenly the US government is detaining people based on trumped up Russian Interpol "red notice" warrants, the kind issued regularly against Bill Browder? If Putin asks Trump very nicely, will we detain Mr. Browder at the airport next time he visits the US?

IT'S THE SANCTIONS, STUPID.

And what are we looking at here? Why has the Russian government liquidated its holding of American T-bills in the past four months?

Image credit: CNN

Not clear! But we have a guess ...

IT'S THE SANCTIONS, STUPID.

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[Atlantic / Atlantic, again / NYT]

Five Dollar Feminist

Your FDF lives in Baltimore under an assumed identity as an upstanding member of the PTA. Shhh, don't tell anyone she makes swears on the internet!

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