Hey remember that time in September of 2001 when a bunch of Saudi terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Remember how the 9/11 Commission produced an exhaustive 585-page report detailing what happened and who was responsible? Sure you do. But you might not remember the fight in 2016 over a 28-page redacted portion pertaining to the Saudi government and their relationship to the hijackers. But guess who did remember?

Paul Manafort. Three guesses who got the RNC platform changed to remove a demand that the 28 pages be released?

Let's rewind the tape a few decades to the '80s, when billionaire investor Tom Barrack sold Donald Trump the Plaza Hotel and a stake in department store chain Alexander's. Trump is bad at business, so he overpaid and wound up losing both investments to creditors. Womp womp!

But flattery gets you everywhere with Trump. At the Republican National Convention in 2016, Barrack actually said that in those negotiations, "[Trump] played me like a Steinway piano." Well, someone's gettin' played ...

Barrack, a Lebanese-American Christian whose father was a grocer in California, is everything that Trump is not -- educated, cultured, worldly, self-made, and well respected. Trump is a tacky dumpster fire. Naturally the two became fast friends.

In 2010, Barrack saved Jared Kushner's ass by not foreclosing on $70 million of debt he holds on Kushner's albatross devil building at 666 Fifth Avenue. So nice of Vanky's dad to intercede with Barrack!

Fast-forward to 2016, when Donald Trump was casting about for a new campaign manager. Luckily, his old pal Tom Barrack knew just the guy -- and he even lived in Trump's building. HELLLOOOOO, Paul Manafort!

Barrack knew Manafort personally from the 1970s when they both worked for Saudi companies in Beirut. Manafort went on to an illustrious career of ratfucking in Eastern Europe, but Barrack was still doing big business in the Middle East, where his pals in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar were getting a little jumpy about Trump's calls for a Muslim ban:

Does Trump really mean what he says? No, of course not! Barrack assured his buddy Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE's Ambassador to the US, that it wiould all be fine, since President Donald Trump would never conduct American foreign policy so as to harm his own business interests in the Arab world. The NYT reports from leaked emails it obtained,

"Confusion about your friend Donald Trump is VERY high," Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates emailed back when Mr. Barrack tried to introduce the candidate, in a message not previously reported. Mr. Trump's image, the ambassador warned, "has many people extremely worried."

Not deterred, Mr. Barrack, a longtime friend who had done business with the ambassador, assured him that Mr. Trump understood the Persian Gulf perspective. "He also has joint ventures in the U.A.E.!" Mr. Barrack wrote in an email on April 26.

Reassured that they were dealing with someone willing to sell out America's interests to make a buck, the Saudis and the Emiratis set out to cultivate good relations with Trump and his idiot son-in-law Jared Kushner. Middle East Eye quoted another batch of leaked emails between Barrack and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin-Salman:

"Paul called me and will do so if introduced through us ! I would like to align in Donald's mind the connection between the UAE and Saudi Arabia which we've already started with Jared [Kushner]. I think it is important that you are the center pin!"

This email exchange reveals that Trump himself was keen that contact between him and bin Salman should only be arranged through Barrack himself, his most trusted advisor.

Barrack's business depended on maintaining good relations with the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. And the Saudi royal family was adamantly opposed to releasing those 28 pages of the 9/11 report showing connections between the hijackers and the Saudi government. But in a lucky coincidence, Barrack's old buddy Paul Manafort was running the Trump campaign! Middle East Eye reports:

In July 2016, one month after he became Trump's campaign manager, Manafort sent Barrack an email he had received from a Republican Party source about the removal of the reference to the alleged Saudi funding of the 9/11 bombers. The email was then forwarded on to Otaiba, along with Barrack's comment that it was "really confidential but important. Please don't distribute".

"Paul. Something you can pass along to your friend Tom Barrack. I made certain that language that was anti the Saudi Royal Family was removed from the platform. It was inserted by AIPAC lobbyists and would have been a part of the 2016 Platform. When I saw the amendment that was passed in the subcommittee, I gave instructions to our political team to remove the language in the full committee."

OH, NOTHING. Just Paul Manafort receiving confirmation that the RNC was acceding to Barrack's request to remove a call to release the redacted 28 pages. Wouldn't the Saudi royal family be relieved! Just like the Russians were relieved when the Trump campaign got the RNC to drop calls to arm Ukraine in its fight against Russia! That Pauly is one friendly guy.

And, hey isn't MIGHTY FUCKING COINCIDENTAL that Emirati emissary George Nader made a beeline for Trump Tower right after the RNC platform got changed and Barrack reassured his Middle Eastern buddies that Trump and Kushner were totally for sale? (Those Saudis don't call J-Kush the "clown prince" for nothin'!) Cartoon villain Erik Prince set up the meeting with Don Jr. to let the Saudis personally offer to do anything they could to help Trump's campaign. So nice that Trump was able to return the favor after the election by backing Saudia Arabia and the UAE in their blockade of tiny Qatar against the express advice of the State Department! And so good that Trump has the entire apparatus of the United States government at his disposal to pay back his friends.

Jesus, when Paul Manafort finally flips, it's going to take MONTHS to depose him! Also, too, Hi, George Nader cooperating witness!


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[NYT / Middle East Eye]

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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Yeah, that's definitely a repurposed animatronic Hillary (YouTube)

A whole bunch of protests were held today against the fake "president's" fake "emergency" declaration, with people turning out in cold crappy weather to call attention to the general nastiness of the guy who claims he absolutely had to do that declaration that wasn't necessary. Organizers with said over 250 rallies were planned nationwide. So far, the national State Of Emergency doesn't appear to have caused any of the rallies to be cancelled, despite the very real possibility that terrified Honduran refugees fleeing violence in Central America might suddenly show up and ask for asylum.

Are there still actions taking place in your area? Check at MoveOn!

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Before Manafort pleaded guilty and signed up as a cooperating witness who didn't actually cooperate, we wrote this:

We have always kind of figured that Paul Manafort is the one who knows the whole Trump-Russia conspiracy story. He was the first big fish indicted, and they hit him for A LOT. Also note that just about all the other prosecutions that have come from the Mueller investigation so far have been farmed out by Mueller to different jurisdictions. Manafort, on the other hand, Mueller has kept squarely in his office. There has to be a reason for that.

Perhaps it's because, as this Josh Marshall podcast suggests, Paul Manafort, a foreign agent who worked for Oleg Deripaska, AKA Putin's favorite oligarch, and who got sideways financially with Deripaska, was literally sent into the Trump campaign by the Kremlin to do its dirty work. Perhaps the Steele Dossier is right when it suggests that the entire Trump-Russia election-stealing conspiracy was run by Manafort on the Trump side, and that others like (perhaps!) Michael Cohen only had to take over when Manafort's shit started to stink and the news media started reporting on his weird-ass Russian connections in the summer of 2016.

If it's possible, we are beginning to suspect it may be even worse than that.

On Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller issued his sentencing recommendations for Manafort, after DC district court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled conclusively that the shady motherfucker very intentionally lied and blew up his cooperating agreement. Because Manafort defaulted, Mueller is no longer bound to recommend that Manafort's sentence be reduced, and is free to throw the book right at Manafort's face. HARD.

And that is what Mueller did! To be clear, the sentencing memo is harsh.

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