How much longer is this sustainable?
Fresh off the New York Times reporting the thing that's kinda been staring us all in the face if we've been paying attention, that the FBI started an investigation into whether Donald Trump is a literal actual Russian intelligence asset just after he fired James Comey and days before Robert Mueller was appointed, the Washington Post adds another detail to the story, that Trump does everything he can to hide his conversations with Vladimir Putin, on the rare occasions they get to have a conjugal visit. We've always assumed that was the case, because when Trump isn't sneaking under the table to chit-chat with Vladimir at one summit, he's behind closed doors with Vladimir with nobody else present but the translator at another, but it's still jarring when the reporting bears out exactly what we've suspected.
What does it mean? What does ANYTHING mean?
Donald Trump went on one of his Twitter binges Sunday night, yelling about immigration and the shutdown, as well as attacking familiar enemies Jeff Bezos and Elizabeth Warren. The pure stupidity of the Warren tweets made a lot of people wonder if Trump was twitsploding because something big is about to drop today, which seems entirely possible. Or maybe he just had real bad gas. Trying to discern what's happening in Trump's head, of course, is mostly guesswork. It's a lot like how back in Soviet times US analysts would figure out the Kremlin power structure by looking at which officials stood atop Lenin's tomb during military parades. Also, looking at old Soviet leaders is a lot more palatable than looking upon Donald Trump's works.
This one attempt at "charming" by some White House aide pretending to be Trump is worth noting, if only in contrast to all the crazy that came later.
Yeah, that one's definitely going into the Tone Poems of Donald Trump. We'll assume the tweet may have been meant to complement some pretty White House inna Snow pics sent out at about the same time by Melon's account.
The FBI has been interested in Trump-Russia for a long time, and the government shutdown drags on. Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
How about a Twitter horror story that became an actual horror movie? Also, some seriously cute quokkas!
Our new Sunday thing -- bringing you a bunch of stuff that's a time-out from the usual rottenness -- seems to have gone over pretty well last week, so hey, let's keep it up with the nice stuff, because there's plenty of unremittingly grim/horrifying content for the rest of the week. No, don't worry, we'll still cuss, because after all, this is Wonkette's version of "nice," fuckers.
Dammit, New York Times.
The New York Times fucked up its story about Paul Manafort and his assistant Rick Gates giving Trump campaign internal polling/voter models/whatever to his RUSSIAN SPY BUDDY Konstantin Kilimnik. This happened because the New York Times fucks up a lot, EXPLANATION OVER, GOODBYE!
OK we are just fooling!
Wonkette had wildly speculated, and the Times went on to report, that Manafort and Gates had passed that data -- in an ongoing way, it seems -- to Kilimnik to give it to Manafort's former boss, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (AKA "Putin's favorite oligarch"), to whom Manafort owed MANY MONEYS, and to whom Manafort had bizarrely offered private briefings on the Trump campaign. Trouble is, the Times was wrong about the "Deripaska" part. But that doesn't mean he isn't part of this story, because he very much is. Hell, in our last post, we noted how Deripaska sent Kilimnik to meet with Manafort and deliver secret messages unto him on August 2, 2016, and that Manafort and Kilimnik discussed the DNC hack and the Trump campaign at that meeting. All that's still true. And Deripaska is still connected to the Australian-Israeli "social media expert" Joel Zamel, who participated in a meeting at Trump Tower on August 3, 2016, the day after Manafort's meeting with Kilimnik, and who reportedly offered a multi-million dollar ratfucking plan to Donald Trump Jr., to be bankrolled by the Saudis and the Emiratis. (That meeting was ARRANGED BY ERIK PRINCE, by the way.)
The Times has issued a correction, saying that the intended target for the secret polling data (we tend to agree with Steve Schmidt that it was probably much more extensive than just internal polls) wasn't Deripaska, but rather these two pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov.
WHO THE FUCK IS THAT FIRST UNPRONOUNCEABLE GUY?
We are just saying.
On Tuesday, we laughed and laughed when Paul Manafort's lawyers filed their response to Robert Mueller's claim that Manafort had breached his plea agreement by lying to them constantly, but they totally boned the redacting process, by not actually redacting any of the parts that were supposed to be redacted. Instead of doing it on computers, they used what they thought was invisible Russian spy ink, we guess. The details we learned, which were supposed to be concealed, were illluminating! But we want to sort or restate and put a finer point on some of what we learned, because IS THIS FUCKING COLLUSION? BECAUSE WE THINK IT LOOKS LIKE FUCKING COLLUSION.
As we stated before, we learned that Manafort:
1. Shared internal polling data during the campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik, his business partner who has been linked to Russian intelligence, by which we mean he's a RUSSIAN SPY. Kilimnik, you will remember, has also been indicted by Robert Mueller for helping Manafort tamper with witnesses, but he's hiding in Russia.
2. Discussed a "peace plan" for Ukraine with Kilimnik during the campaign, which was all the rage for Trump people in those days.
3. Lied about other stuff also too, like about meeting with Kilimnik in Madrid. The way the filing read, we thought that happened during the campaign, because Manafort's lawyers are as bad at writing as they are at redacting. They later "clarified" that the Madrid thing was in January or February of 2017.
Joe Walsh, who is a total skeeve but seems to have a growing understanding of what's going on these days, at least sometimes, thinks it's collusion:
The New York Times did some further reporting on the Manafort filing, which gives us a little bit more detail on this NO COLLUSION, and we want to add a couple of our own points. First of all, we need to underline and put in bold print that ANY TIME YOU HEAR ABOUT TRUMP PEOPLE AND RUSSIANS TALKING ABOUT A "PEACE PLAN" FOR UKRAINE, THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT LIFTING SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA. This is important because pretty much everything we know about Trump people's coordination with Russia -- and the quid pro quo that developed regarding what Trump might do for Russia to thank Russia for helping him become president -- is about lifting the sanctions. The Trump Tower meeting where Russian lady lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya offered what Donald Trump Jr. thought was going to be sweet delicious Hillary Clinton dirt, but then they ended up talking about letting Americans adopt BOUNCY RUSSIAN BABIES again? That was a discussion about lifting sanctions, as we have explained multiple times. Michael Flynn lied to the FBI -- but he didn't know that was a bad thing to do! -- about telling the Russian ambassador, and by extension Vladimir Putin, to cool their jets about the sanctions President Obama had just placed on them, because Trump would fix that once he was inaugurated. What was Jared Kushner secretly meeting with representatives of sanctioned Russian banks about? And why did he ask for secret back channels so he could talk to the Russians without the Deep State listening? Oh fiddlesticks, we couldn't even begin to guess.
Buncha bullshit about Trump's wall, but many other stories too! Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
This jackoff again.
Starting too soon, Donald Trump, who is unaccountably president of the United States, is gonna beam straight into your TV set to jaw and whine and SNIFFFFFFF in a speech he "is writing himself" about the "crisis" at the southern border.
By "crisis," Trump does not mean we are killing a non-zero number of Guatemalan children in our custody, whether through negligence or actual malice. There are now refugees whose babies we took from them, and those babies are dead. He means ISIS we guess, or the "crisis" he's really worried about: that if he doesn't get his border wall, he won't win reelection.
What Does Leonardo Da Vinci Have To Do With Trump And Russia? A HOLY SH*T Investigation Into WHAT THE F*CK!
The da Vinci Code but like for real ARE YOU KIDDING US?
The saga of the greatest political conspiracy in modern history is getting weird now. Not that it wasn't weird before, but it's officially even weirder than when Michael Avenatti, Ice Cube and Qatar all ended up in the same story.
We had heard and read rumblings over the past few months about how the sale of this one painting -- the most expensive art sale ever, of an extremely rare da Vinci that might not even be a da Vinci, or if it is, it might have been painted by Leonardo's weird cousin Billy Ray da Vinci -- might be one of the keys to unlocking the whole conspiracy, but Jesus, really? A painting? Some picture of Jesus holding a bowl of fruit in one hand and flipping the camera off with the other? The fuck? (OK, that's not really what Jesus is doing in the painting.)
But Trump-Russia journalist Zev Shalev has written the narrative out in such a way that we think it's time we all pay attention. First of all, some basic facts.
The painting in question is called
"What Are You Doing Up In That Tree, Jesus?" the Salvator Mundi, and it depicts Jesus with an orb in one hand and doing some kind of Jesus thing with his other hand. It's known in art circles as an homage to the Mona Lisa, which was kind of da Vinci's big break in eventually having a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle named after him. And as we mentioned, it was recently sold for $450 million in what was the most expensive art transaction of all time. The buyer? Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, because all murder-happy Muslim crown princes like to come home to a nice picture of Jesus over the mantel after a hard day of ordering journalists bone-sawed to death. He seems to have overpaid for the painting, by about $300 million. The seller? Dmitry Rybolovlev, the fertilizer oligarch, one of Putin's closest associates and a guy who's shown up in the august pages of Wonkette very recently.
In which John Bolton is referred to as the 'cooler head' in the room. JOHN BOLTON.
What's President Tinkle Poots yapping about on Twitter today?
Oh really, we're not leaving Syria without a plan in place anymore? Coulda fooled us.
Less than a month ago, Donald Trump tweeted with much fanfare that the war on ISIS was SO OVER, that we had basically defeated ISIS, and that the troops would be coming home within maybe a month, like SEE YA, Kurds! Thanks for helping us fight ISIS, but the president of Turkey whispered in the president of America's ear that he really wants America to get out of the way so he can attack the Kurds, who are our allies. Who else ordered Trump to get out of Syria? Putin, maybe? The possibilities are endless.
Anyway, Trump said then that the troops were coming home "now," and the New York Times reported Trump had ordered the withdrawal to happen within 30 days, which led Congress to say WHAT THE FUCK in a very bipartisan way! Whether people support or don't support our involvement in that war, people across the board agree that if we're pulling out, there needs to be a reason and a strategy and a real plan, which Trump obviously doesn't have.
But we guess the much cooler head of National Security Advisor John Bolton prevailed (yes, we said "cooler head of John Bolton," because in case you haven't noticed, we live in hell now), because it turns out we're not actually leaving Syria. Pay no attention to the tweets from the dipshit behind the curtain, everyone! Much like how former Defense Secretary James Mattis would "slow walk" (try to ignore) Twitter missives from the president, Bolton is now reassuring everyone that actually we're not doing Trump's dumb thing, because there are "conditions" on our withdrawal. They are some big conditions!
Why's everybody always pickin' on poor Julian?
There are a lot of things you can say about Julian Assange, but "his grundle smells like barrel-aged dick cheese" isn't one of them!
Julian Assange was the best cat daddy of all the cat daddies in the entire world, and despite the fact that the Ecuadorian embassy got mad at him for failing to clean up after his cat, thus turning his living quarters into what we imagine was a cat shit-infested cauldron full of limp-dicked resentment and ennui, we'd never want to give anyone the impression that Assange ever neglected that animal before he gave it away like a heartless cat giver-awayer.
Based on Julian Assange's behavior and the fact he hasn't been committed to radical transparency for a while in anything besides fucking over the Democratic Party in America as part of a Russian campaign to steal the 2016 presidential election and hand it to a yappy orange dickwad who's not qualified to be president of a Big Lots, one might think Julian Assange is a witting or unwitting intelligence asset of the Russian state, or that he works for Russia directly, but we wouldn't say that because that's simply a rude and unfair thing to say.
Julian Assange's hair? Couldn't call it anything but normal and pleasing to the eye, in the sex way!
AND DON'T CALL HIM A RAPIST.
There's a reason we are NOT SAYING any of those things, and it is because on Sunday, WikiLeaks sent a bunch of reporters what can only be termed reasonable and friendly guidance on 140 things they should not EVER type about Julian Assange the stinky cat lady whose cat went away but we bet you can still smell it in his face hair. Their letter claims everybody is picking on poor Julian Assange, writing 140 of the worst lies about him anybody has ever heard, and so they are setting things straight about Julian Assange, the freedom fighter with the beautiful hair that would never smell like cat pee unless Julian Assange had a tragi-comic accident and fell head first into a bucket of cat pee. And if that happened, HE WOULD TAKE A BATH THE SAME DAY. OR MAYBE THAT WEEKEND.
Figured we could use that, huh?
Yr Wonkette has been fairly free of notable deleted comments this week. Sure, turgid love-muscle guy showed up after an absence of a couple months, but his schtick hasn't changed. So instead of our usual Dear Shitferbrains column, we figured we'd just bring you some stuff we've been reading and enjoying instead. Let's recharge our batteries, and then tomorrow we'll dive back into the horrorshow again. And, like, you can all recommend books and teevee and other relief from all the madness too, or at least you could, if Wonkette allowed comments, which we do not.
If you watched Rachel Maddow last night, you'll see that the thing that was bothering her is also SERIOUSLY bothering us.
Wednesday, during Donald Trump's weird cabinet meeting, where he had his own "Game Of Thrones"-style poster of himself on the table and forced everybody to scratch and sniff it in fealty to the king, the president said something that made our head spin. Of course, he always does that, and even for professionals like ourselves, Trump's word salad gibberish often flies right past our heads. But this one comment flew past our head, made a couple rotations around the sun, and then came back and smacked us upside the face. Did he really just say what I thought he ...
Yes. He did.
Please God, there better not be a pee tape.
Usually there's not much to say about Rand Paul. He's a giant pain in the ass who likes to grandstand and pretend he's going to hold legislation hostage, who then always gives up once he's failed to make his point. One time his neighbor knocked him off his riding lawn mower and broke his frail body because of some sort of landscaping disagreement. What. EVER.
And that is the story of Rand Paul, ladies and gentlemen!
But we have an article to share with you that leads us to ask whether there's something else going on with dear young Rand. We already know that he, a die-hard non-interventionist, always votes "no" on foreign policy stuff that literally everybody else in the Senate votes "yes" on, because of his "principles." But more and more, Paul doesn't seem like just a non-interventionist, but rather a person who, like Donald Trump, curiously seems to always take the Kremlin's side on issues.
Author Greg Olear details the evidence in a Medium post, which starts back during the 2016 GOP primary when Paul, like Lindsey Graham, had at least a modicum of sense when it came to Donald Trump. He called Trump a "delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag" on a TV show in 2016, an assessment that is factcheck true. Fast forward to today, and Paul is as close or closer to Trump than Graham is, and Olear notes that on foreign policy issues, when Trump every single time takes Russia's side, it's often seemingly because Paul has recently butt-whispered his thoughts into Trump's mouth, because Trump is famously a person who only believes/remembers the thing he heard most recently. Is Paul delivering the Kremlin's messages to Trump? Or is he just a fucking idiot? COULD IT BE BOTH? And can't Putin just talk to Trump on their special iPhone Trump keeps hidden inside that one Big Mac nobody in the White House is allowed to touch?
You know, allegedly.
Hey, McClatchy, whatcha talkin' about this fine December day?
A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump's former lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.
During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.
Is this the evidence McClatchy was talking about months back, when it reported that Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen was in Prague in late summer 2016, despite his VERY LOUD INSISTENCE that never in his life had he secretly traveled to Prague in late summer 2016? The thing where Cohen pissed all over the research of British spy Christopher Steele by tweeting his passport, which proved he didn't go to Prague, even though it proved no such thing, because any globe-trotting idiot knows that once you're in the Schengen Area, you don't have to get your passport stamped every time you cross a European border?
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