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Russia

Trump Admin's Sloppy Wet Sanctions Kiss For Oleg Deripaska Sloppier, Wetter Than We Knew!

Is the Trump administration stupid or evil? Yes.

There is very surprising news about the Trump Treasury Department's decision to lift sanctions on companies controlled by Russian oligarch/former Paul Manafort boss/likely election ratfucker Oleg Deripaska, a move all Democrats except Bernie Sanders hated, along with a surprising number of Republicans in Nancy Pelosi's House and 11 Republicans in the Senate. While we already knew that it was pretty good for Deripaska in an incognito kind of way, you'll be shocked to learn that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's big wet kiss for Deripaska is even wetter and more XXX than previously understood!

The New York Times got its paws on a "binding confidential agreement signed by both sides" that suggests Deripaska got off sweet in this deal. Seriously, are you VERY SHOCKED right now?

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News

'No Cave!' Wonkagenda For Tues., Jan. 22, 2019

Trump's shutdown drags on, and Rudy doesn't care what you put on his grave. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Russia

Giuliani: Of Course Trump Negotiated With The Russians Up 'Til The Election. WHY EVER NOT?

What even is he doing up there?

Does Rudy Giuliani have a plan? Or is he just a demented squid lawyer who expels clouds of inky nonsense as he wriggles off into the murk? We just watched the Old Roods make the Sunday rounds again, and the answer is ... FUCK IF WE KNOW.

He started Sunday morning promising Jake Tapper that Donald Trump never spoke to any Russians ever, and also that he was negotiating to build Trump Tower Moscow ALL THE WAY UP UNTIL THE 2016 ELECTION. And if you think those things sound contradictory, just shout BUZZFEED five or six times to yourself, until the confusion goes away.

GIULIANI: [I]t was an early stage proposal that never got beyond a nonbinding letter of intent that was being run by -- by Michael Cohen. It was his project. And it was being done while Donald Trump was running for president of the United States, and wasn't focused on that at all.

TAPPER: Sure. OK, but he said, I have no business there. I have no business there. I have no deals there.

GIULIANI: OK.

TAPPER: That's not true. He did...

GIULIANI: No, that is not inaccurate. That is not acc -- what you are saying is not accurate. I run a business. We do it in a lot of countries. I have proposals right now in six different countries. Two of them have been accepted. I'm doing business in the two that are accepted, not the four in which I have proposals.

Look here, Jake, Rudy Giuliani is a giant whore who'll take money from any murderous oligarch whose check clears, a fact he confirmed more or less verbatim to Chuck Todd in the 10 o'clock hour. So, just because Donald Trump signs a letter of intent in October of 2015 and his agent continues to negotiate with Kremlin agents up through the election and keeps Trump and his children minutely apprised doesn't mean Trump "has business" in Russia, okay? Also, BUZZFEED.

Asked about Michael Cohen's false testimony to Congress -- testimony he had reviewed in advance with Trump and which aligned almost perfectly with Don Jr.'s testimony -- Giuliani readily admitted that his client, the president, reviewed that false congressional testimony in advance. And isn't it a shame that a rough character like Cohen would lead poor, innocent Donald Trump down the garden path!

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Russia

Relax, Everyone: Donald Trump Is Still A F*cking Criminal

WTF does tonight's special message from Robert Mueller tell us? Wonkette tries to answer that question!

HOLY ACHTUNG TWITTER IS FREAKING OUT! Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office (SCO) has issued a statement, almost 24 full hours after Buzzfeed's story on Donald Trump ordering Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the failed Trump Tower Moscow deal started blowing everybody's minds. Mueller's spokesman says actually BuzzFeed got it a bit wrong. This is significant because 1) Mueller's office NEVER talks, and B) well, they're not actually saying BuzzFeed got it WRONG wrong. Just, you know, kinda wrong.

Wow, that statement is lawyered as fuck. BuzzFeed described "specific statements" wrong, and its "characterization of documents and testimony" was just an eensy bit off, and maybe if BuzzFeed moved this sofa over here it would take advantage of more natural light in the room, and honestly, BuzzFeed should trim up this one paragraph of its article, because those sentences DO NOT SPARK MARIE KONDO'S JOY.

Otherwise, it's great!

First of all, we want everybody to relax. Donald Trump is still a criminal.

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Russia

Trump Idiots 'Debunk' Michael Cohen Story By Shrieking HAW HAW BUZZFEED SUX!

Meanwhile, the president responded to the revelation he suborned perjury by tampering with the witness some more. Totally normal!

It's been a joy watching the reactions come in from TrumpWorld about the news that Donald Trump has committed YET ANOTHER CRIME, in this case suborning perjury by instructing his former lawyer thug fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. How many other people did he do that with? WE DUNNO! But that's not what this post is about.

First of all, let's see what the big guy himself did. As with all presidential statements from the un-president, it happened on Twitter:

Oh wait, that's (grapes) not it. Here it is:

That's right, the president of the United States reacted to a bombshell news report exposing that he had tampered with a witness by suborning perjury by ... tampering with that witness some more in public, by threatening his father-in-law! (To be fair, Trump has been trying to intimidate the witness by encouraging the feds to investigate Cohen's father-in-law for a hot minute now. It's one of his things, like tweeting and pooping at the same time and comparing WALL to WHEEL.)

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Russia

Trump AG Nominee Bill Barr Should Have Kept His Big Mouth Shut About Obstruction Of Justice

Too late now, Chatty Cathy!

HOW YOU LIVIN', BILL BARR? Still glad you sent that memo to the president's lawyers saying there's no obstruction unless the president actually suborns perjury? Still psyched for your fancy new DOJ job? Or are you maybe thinking you should have kept your fat mouth shut and not opined on a prosecution you didn't know anything about, because now you're totally boxed in between that rabid dog in the Oval and congressional Democrats who got you to own your shit on the record?

Let's rewind the tape to June 2018, when former Bush Attorney General Bill Barr sends an unsolicited memo to Rod Rosenstein and Donald Trump's lawyers expounding his theory of the case in the Mueller investigation. Because Barr is a good samaritan, see, not at all because he's trying to get the AG job for himself. Without knowing any details of the case, Bill Barr is certain that it was opened because Donald Trump fired James Comey, and for no other reason. (IT WASN'T.) And because the president has the right to fire the FBI director, he can't possibly be obstructing justice when he does it. Ipso facto ergo hence, the entire investigation is illegitimate. And PS, NO COLLUSION.

The President, as far as I know, is not being accused of engaging in any wrongful act of evidence impairment. Instead, Mueller is proposing an unprecedented expansion of obstruction law so as to reach facially-lawful actions taken by the President in exercising the discretion vested in him by the Constitution.

Those Bushies have such a raging hard on for their theory of the unitary executive as a President God King. Like they didn't preside over the wholesale destabilization of the Middle East based on an obvious lie about "weapons of mass destruction" and then fuck up the 9-11 prosecutions by torturing all the witnesses at black sites. But we digress.

Samaritan Barr was so sure of his uninformed conjecture about the Mueller predicate that he helpfully laid out examples of what REAL OBSTRUCTION would look like. Because obviously Donald Trump would never encourage a witness to lie like a common Clinton or Nixon, right?

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Russia

Trump Told Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress. Is That Bad?

Individual 1 been berry berry bad.

Everybody knows Donald Trump is a shady dumpsterfuck mobster wannabe, and we've always assumed we would eventually find out he tampered with and threatened witnesses in the Russia investigation, because he's a shady dumpsterfuck mobster wannabe. So in that way, last night's breaking news from BuzzFeed isn't surprising at all -- that Trump literally told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project he was pursuing during the 2016 campaign, while lying repeatedly to the public and saying he had no business in Russia, NO RUSSIA, NO RUSSIA, YOU ARE THE RUSSIA.

If you need a recap, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a deal Trump was pursuing to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a deal that in and of itself raises many questions about whether it was part of the quid pro quo for Russia helping Trump steal the White House. Cohen told Congress that negotiations for the project had ended long before the campaign really got going, specifically before the Iowa caucuses; that Trump only ever discussed the deal with him three little tiny times and that he himself had only barely mentioned it to the kids; that he never considered going to Russia to work on the deal during the campaign, and that moreover, Trump had also never considered going to Russia to meet Putin about the deal during the campaign; and that he had only had limited contacts with the Kremlin about the deal after January of 2016.

All of this was lies.

The project was ongoing during the campaign, Trump's family was in on it, there was all kinds of talk of Cohen and Trump going to Moscow, and the Kremlin was heavily involved, specifically Kremlin figure Dmitry Peskov, Putin's right-hand man, all the way up to at least summer of 2016, when things started to fall apart for some reason. (Peskov also shows up in the Steele Dossier as the person who allegedly held the keys to the kingdom when it came to the Kremlin's plan to ratfuck the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton.)

Oh yeah, and remember how the Trumps were going to give Vladimir Putin the $50 million penthouse in the tower, as a bribe to pay down part of their loan as a very normal gift?

BuzzFeed is reporting that Trump was looped in on this entire process, that he and Cohen met at least TEN TIMES about the project, and that Trump literally directed Cohen to tell those lies to Congress, which is called suborning perjury, which is in any sane world an impeachable offense. Wingnuts on the internet and Rudy Giuliani are already saying, "OH YEAH, U GON BELIEVE A KNOWN LAHR LIKE MICHAEL COHEN?" This is because they are commenting on the article before reading the article, in which BuzzFeed specifically says its sources are "two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and that they have texts and emails.

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Russia

'Make It Happen.' Wonkagenda For Fri., Jan. 18, 2019

Trump's shutdown enters day 28, and Michael Cohen was ordered to lie to Congress. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today!

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Russia

RUDY GIULIANI NEVER SAID NO COLLUSION, YOU SAID NO COLLUSION, YOU STINKIN' LIAR!

The president's finest lawyer, ladies and gentle-ladies.

HEY, KIDS! It's time to play a game! It's called "Is Rudy Giuliani Having A Psychotic Break Or Did He Just Say That Thing Because Something Is For Real About To Happen?"

Time's up, we think the answer just might be BOTH.

Giuliani went on the Chris Cuomo CNN Cat Video TV Time Hour and said ...

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Elections

OK, MAYBE There Was Collusion.  Wonkagenda For Thurs., Jan. 17, 2019

ALLEGEDLY drunk Rudy Giuliani denies his denial, Michael Cohen ALLEGEDLY paid $50,000 to be an internet sex symbol, and Trump to re-start Star Wars. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Russia

Wait, Is Putin Getting Paid During The Trump Shutdown? THE F*CK?

This post is actually about Senator Richard Burr.

We had been wondering how GOP Senator Richard Burr was going to be in this era of divided government. He's the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and during the first two years of the Trump presidency, he seemed to take pride in the fact that the Senate was the All Growned Up body of Congress, and that his intelligence committee wasn't running around mouthfucking cows on the White House lawn like Devin Nunes's House Intelligence Committee. Burr seemed to care about doing a real investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and despite his status as a Republican, he seemed to be willing to accept it if that investigation led him directly up Donald Trump's butt.

Well, today we have our answer about how Burr's going to be, and it's that he's definitely ended up inside Trump's ass, but he's apparently there to take a nice nap, and not to look for Russians. First he voted to un-sanction Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska's companies, because after all, Russia has been very good and who is Richard Burr to say America shouldn't exist purely as a Kremlin satellite in this age of President Russian Asset?

Then a reporter asked Burr if he's interested in getting his hands on the interpreter's notes from Trump's secret tête-à-têtes with Vladimir Putin, the notes Trump has literally confiscated and hidden from his aides, now that we are more sure than ever that President Russian Asset is a literal actual total fucking Russian intelligence asset.

NAH! And Burr's reasoning is adorably stupid:

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Russia

GOP Senators Grow Spine Over Russian Sanctions, Just Kidding NOPE

We had such high hopes there, for about five minutes.

On Tuesday the Senate voted 57-42 to start debate on a resolution opposing the Treasury Department's plan to lift sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch/former Paul Manafort sugar daddy Oleg Deripaska, who most likely played a very important role in Russia's ratfucking of the 2016 presidential election. Deripaska is the oligarch that Trump's campaign manager offered secret Trump campaign briefings, in order to somehow "get whole" with him, because he owed Deripaska a shitload of money. (For background, read the very fine Wonkette piece, "Trump Unsanctioning Manafort's Russian Sugar Daddy Is EVEN FUCKEDER Than You Thought!")

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night that he had high hopes that with 11 Republican defecting to the side of goodness and patriotism in the vote to open debate, that maybe they could peel just a couple more Republicans to advance the resolution to a final vote and thus stop Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in their tracks and thwart their plan to un-sanction that asshole's companies.

Sadly, Chuck Schumer was ...

media3.giphy.com

Read and weep, for this is how compromised the GOP is right now by the probable Russian agent in the White House:

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Everywhere Else News

Hey, Anybody Using This NATO? Mind If Trump Tidies It Up?

Weird, Trump's decluttering spree is just like Putin's!

Donald Trump has a lot of stupid, deeply held beliefs, like the idea that he's a good negotiator, his certainty that the Central Park Five were guilty (even after they were exonerated by DNA), and his suspicion that everyone is secretly laughing at him (they are, but the mockery's right out in the open). Among his highly stable beliefs is that every other country in the world is taking advantage of the USA, especially when it comes to our military alliances (our enemies he loves for their toughness). So it's really no surprise that Trump has always distrusted NATO, but the New York Times reported Monday night just how deeply -- and possibly catastrophically -- that belief goes. According to "senior administration officials," Trump repeatedly told his national security aides in 2018 he wanted to just plain pull the US out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization altogether, because he is A Idiot.

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Russia

Game Of 'You're Boned.' Wonkagenda For Wed., Jan. 16, 2019

Trump demands people work for free as government shutdown enters 26th day. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

Now in its 26th day, Trump's shutdown shows no signs of stopping after Democrats rejected a useless photo op at the White House yesterday (twice). Trump's White House is attempting to peel off Democrats by tricking some into appearing to support his goddamn wall (oops, steel slats -- wait, now it's "a barrier?"). Rather than be used as props, dozens of House Democrats marched over to Mitch McConnell's vacant office and demanded he do his job by bringing House-passed legislation to the Senate floor. Where was he, on a beach in Puerto Rico or something?

The administration is realizing that government shutdowns are hard to win when the government is really shut down, so it's recalling thousands of federal workers to work without pay at the FAA, the DOT, the EPA, HUD, the IRS, and the FDA. Not to mention dozens of Interior Department workers to sell oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, a federal judge has shot down a lawsuit by federal workers' unions over being forced to work without pay. The judge said workers deemed "essential" have to show up in order to avoid creating "chaos and confusion." The judge empathized with workers, but ultimately ruled, "the judiciary is not, and will not, be leverage in the internal struggle between the branches of government." Well...fuck.

A federal judge hilariously smacked down the Trump administration's attempt to put citizenship questions on the 2020 Census, arguing it was a "veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut" violations to the Administrative Procedures Act. The judge then dumped on crooked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's attempt to put the question on the Census, stating Ross had "ignored and violated a clear statutory duty," and "concealed its true basis rather than explaining it."

Nancy Pelosi seems to be getting her revenge on her detractors, blocking them from positions on powerful House committees. Politico gossips that Rep. Kathleen Rice was blocked from a seat on the House Judiciary Committee despite her seniority, with Pelosi instead offering up freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. You come at the queen, you best not miss!

A group of Arizona nerds has launched a petition to get astronaut Mark Kelly to challenge Sen. Martha McSally in 2020. Roll Call and Politico note Kelly has been meeting with Democratic leaders and fundraisers over the last several weeks as he considers boldly going where few astronauts have gone before. The draft Mark Kelly movement is part of a broader push to get science geeks and pencil pushers into positions of politico power.

During an appearance on Colbert last night, Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand announced her intention to run in 2020. Politico reports Gillbrand is making her pitch to female voters, but last night she stated that healthcare was a right, "not a privilege," which if you ask us is an appeal to anybody who likes having health. [Video]

Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum are not only on the shortlist of potential 2020 VEEP candidates, according to Politico, but they're also mulling their own 2020 presidential runs now that they both have a solid network of donors, voters, and volunteers who know how to knock on doors in crucial swing states.

Some yokels in the West Virginia House of Delegates want to give Trump $10 million for his goddamn wall instead of spending their $200 million surplus on the all the things slowly killing the state's population, like alternatives to the dwindling coal and natural gas gigs, ending food deserts, or helping addicts left to rot thanks to the opioid crisis. Gotta have priorities, and the priority is keeping people scared enough to vote R.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit proposal went down in flames yesterday in a disastrous 432 to 202 vote. With calls to hold a second referendum growing in the UK, the EU is now telling Britian to shit or get off the pot. Later this morning the liberal Labour party is expected to call for a vote of "no confidence" in May's leadership, but it too is expected to fail as conservatives would rather have a bumbling, ineffectual idiot helping lead the world towards economic catastrophe than another distasteful political opportunist.

The New York Times has a retrospective on all the times Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin (keepign no detailed record of the meetings) and the curious coincidences that always seem to happen shortly after their little get-togethers, like revelations on the Trump Tower meeting, sanctions, and Trump's disdain for US allies and NATO. NYT even made a fancy infographic!

Robert Mueller's team has delayed sentencing for Rick Gates because he's not done spilling the beans on all the Trump-Russia fuckery he's been privy to. Furthering speculation that the investigation into Trump's ALLEGED COLLUSION with Russia is far from over, Mueller's team filed a 31-page affidavit and 406 pieces of almost entirely blacked-out exhibits showing how Paul Manafort lied his ass off after he cut a deal with federal prosecutors. According to the filings, Manafort's lawyers had to pull him aside several times during questioning and remind him to keep his mountain of lies straight. CNN is also reporting that Manafort's lawyers tried to obscure the fact that Manafort's longtime pollster -- who he brought in to work on the Trump campaign -- met with Mueller's team and acknowledged he gave polling data on the 2016 campaign to Russian while serving as Trump's campaign chairman. LOCK HIM UP!

Don't expect Michael Cohen to say much to the House Oversight Committee next month as Robert Mueller's team of extraordinary investigators still isn't done with him either! People close to Cohen told the Wall Street Journal he intends to gossip about what it's like to work with Trump, and that his testimony will give people "chills," though the WSJ has since yanked those comments from its original story. HHMMMM!

Speaking of Michael Cohen, when he finally does report to jail, he'll be neighbors with one of those jerkoffs from "The Jersey Shore" at the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution.

According to a new survey by City Lab, Chicago has has one of the best public transit systems in the country. Not only is the CTA fairly reliable, it has a cleanliness rating of, "meh, could be worse," something called, "bus justice," and (most importantly) there are taco stands at (almost) every "L" station. That's right, y'all, TACO TRUCKS ON EVERY CORNER!

Treat yourself to some lovely sing-song by the fabulous Randy Rainbow!

And here's your morning Nice Time! OTTERS!

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Russia

Trump Inauguration Facing One Or Twelve Tiny Investigations, NBD

How did he get so corrupt? Practice, practice, practice!

Within the past 24 hours, there have been three stories about shady shit at the Trump inauguration. Begin as you intend to go on, as they say. And Boy Howdy, did they ever! The inauguration was already under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as the Special Counsel's Office (SCO). So obviously, this is yet another DEEP STATE WITCH HUNT, right? Right?

Okay, glove up kids. We're going in!

The New York Times Finds One or Two Suspicious Transactions in the Inauguration's Books

When SDNY prosecutors raided Michael Cohen's office last April, they found a recording of him talking to Melania's socialite BFF Stephanie Winston Wolcoff, who had been hired to run the inauguration and was known to wave her phone at staff and threaten that she could get them fired with one text to Ivanka or Melania. (Treat yourself to this amazing story about Wolcott in Town & Country, MEE-OWW!) Wolcof was freaking out that the Trump hotel was overcharging the inauguration for rooms, telling Ivanka in an email, "Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge." She also took up the apparent price gouging by the Trump Hotel with Michael Cohen and Manafort's little buddy Rick Gates, who stayed with the campaign and was deputy chair of the inauguration committee.

Trump's billionaire pal Tom Barrack, who chaired the inauguration committee, pinky swears that there was an audit of how the record-breaking $107 million donated to celebrate the incoming Grifter in Chief was spent. But he's not releasing the audit, and no, he's not going to tell you which firm performed it.

UH HUH.

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