Akhmetshin’s Involvement and the Trump Dossier

Over the course of the slow reveal of details about the meeting Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had on June 9, 2016 with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the focus has rightly been on the changing stories of the initially identified players.

It was about adoption, maybe she made some vague statements, oh yeah, those vague statements were oppo research, yes, yes, here are the emails showing that oppo research came from an affirmative effort in Russia to elect Dad, how can a ‘good boy‘ be expected to remember all the Russians involved in a meeting? Don Jr. blathered until, perhaps, his newly-hired lawyer shut him up.

I have no ties to the Russian government, I had no damaging information and if I did I had no intention of leaving it, well, maybe I did get information directly from a top Russian prosecutor, explained Veselnitskaya over the course of the week.

I accidentally hit send, I met with no foreigners, maybe there were Russians, but not Veselnitskaya, oh yeah, maybe her too, my lawyers told Pop’s lawyers, well maybe I never got around to mentioning it to him personally, the tale of Kushner’s difficulties identifying all the Russians he met with evolved over the week, at which point Jamie Gorelick removed herself from any responsibility criminally defending the guy.

All of which climaxed in the news that former Russian intelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin and accused (before the accusation was withdrawn) hacker also attended the meeting.

Akhmetshin has boasted to associates that he had served in the military with a group known as the Osoby Otdel, or Special Section, which in the Soviet period was a division of the K.G.B. The group was distinct from the G.R.U., or Main Intelligence Directorate of the defense ministry, an organization with which he has denied any affiliation.


The Justice Department contacted Mr. Akhmetshin in March and asked him why he did not register his work for the nonprofit group under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires anyone who lobbies in the United States on behalf of foreign interests to disclose their work to the Justice Department. Mr. Akhmetshin responded to the Justice Department in April, saying he had properly registered under congressional lobbying rules.

In 2015, International Mineral Resources, a mining company based in the Netherlands, accused Mr. Akhmetshin of hacking into its computer systems, stealing confidential information and unlawfully disseminating it as part of a smear campaign orchestrated by a rival Russian mining firm.

All of which, given that the meeting took place a week before hacked emails started coming out, sure makes it look like the principals were deliberately hiding Akhmetshin’s participation in the meeting, though Akhmetshin claims he got pulled into the meeting that day, still wearing his jeans and t-shirt.

He said he had learned about the meeting only that day when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend. He said he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt.

Given all these changing stories and what they might hide I’d like to return to Don Sr.’s initial response. Way back on Sunday, the spox for Trump’s lawyers (who reportedly had known of these emails for three weeks) claimed the meeting had been a set-up by the same intelligence firm, Fusion GPS, that put together the Trump dossier.

“We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” Mark Corallo, spokesperson for Trump’s outside counsel, said in a statement released a few hours after the original New York Times story published.

“Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the president and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier,” Corallo continued, referring to the strategic intelligence firm hired by anti-Trump Republicans, then by Democrats, to do opposition research on the candidate.

(Fusion GPS eventually retained former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele to research potential connections between Trump and Russia, an investigation that resulted in a dossier that alleged financial, political, and personal connections between the then-president-elect and the Kremlin—a dossier that Trump’s communications team might have preferred to go unmentioned.)

“These developments raise serious issues as to exactly who authorized and participated in any effort by Russian nationals to influence our election in any manner,” Corallo concluded.

Even as all this was happening, Chuck Grassley released a testimony list suggesting the head of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, would testify aside the key player accusing Akhmetshin of unlawfully lobbying for Russia, William Browder. But Simpson continues, as he started in June, to refuse to testify willingly.

The insinuation this meeting was all a set-up by a Clinton-surrogate was absolutely a cheap attempt, worthy of Corallo, to flip this story. But as I said earlier in this week, it’s more clever than first assumed. As I noted, a full eleven days after the meeting (and five days after the first stolen documents appeared), Fusion was still presenting conflicting details about whether Russian-derived Clinton dirt had been shared with Trump’s campaign, ultimately claiming, however, that it hadn’t.

The report, dated 11 days after the Veselnitskaya meeting, states that the Kremlin has a dossier on Clinton, but that it has not as yet been distributed abroad.

That claim is seemingly contradicted by the claims of Source A (a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure) and Source D. Indeed, Source D appears to have claimed, in June, that dirt from Russia was helpful.

Ultimately, though, the memo seems to credit Source B, “a former top level Russian intelligence officer” and Source G, a senior Kremlin official, who said the dossier, attributed here to the FSB, had not yet been shared with Trump or anyone else in America.

Consider: First, Akhmetshin himself qualifies as a former intelligence officer (though it’s not clear how senior he was). He might have reason to deny that intelligence he tried to pass was the intelligence in question. And he’d likely be right, given that the Clinton dossier was purportedly a FSB, not a GRU, product. But it’s even possible that he didn’t want Hillary to know that he or a colleague was dealing dirt, however bad.

Nevertheless, the senior-most Russian quoted in the dossier compiled for Hillary Clinton claimed — and Steele appears to have believed — that Russia’s dirt on Hillary Clinton had not yet been released.

As I noted (and others have expanded elsewhere) some of these sources could be people who attended the meeting, particularly once we learn which Agalarov was involved and how closely.

It is definitely cheap to suggest that having three principals from Trump’s campaign meet with Russians claiming to represent the wishes of the Russian government is just an opposition plot invented by a Hillary surrogate. But the feedback loop within Fusion and the narrow circle of key Russian sources on Trump’s campaign is definitely worth considering.

199 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    this article in huffington post provides a possible first link (via a left-behind folder for god’s sake) between the trumpses meeting with lawyer lady v. and later releases of documents by gucifer.

    there are too many strings here for me to follow.

    does the article have any credibility?

  2. Avattoir says:

    emptywheel, after citing & linking to a POLITICO story:
    “Gorelick removed herself”
    Relevant passage from that POLITICO story:
    “Gorelick said Kushner decided on the change”

    This isn’t like you, Ms. W. Plus you didn’t seem up to your usual / unusual-for-normals sharpness on the Democracy Now appearance this week.
    Could be you’re still working your head into this Trump-Rus thing; there’s so much more happening on so many more fronts, with so much more that’s opaque, plus this is exponentially bigger than the Plame thing; I’ve never ever had even a tenth of the articles in my “MUST READ LATER” file that I have right now.

      • Avattoir says:

        That’s a lot to deal with in one article. I suspect most of us have seen a good deal of in bits and pieces elsewhere over the last two decades. Some of fits with the TPM’s Josh Marshall take, particularly as to the centrality of Sater & Cohen. Some of it fits with takes things we all read from Lawrence Wright & Ron Suskind in relation to the rise of Bin Laden, the CIA & FBI tensions, and the effects the latter had on preparedness for and responses to 9/11. I don’t think we can go as far as saying it ‘rings true’ on the shackles on the FBI in relation to its undoubted long-time interest in Trump & Russia, but to me it doesn’t seem to necessarily ‘ring false’ either.

        This made me snort, especially the 2nd phrase: “Sater said that he had never done any work with the FBI pertaining to Russian organized crime and that he had not even heard of Mogilevich, the organized crime boss.”

        As usual, if he’s prepared to go to Big Lie on that …

      • Avattoir says:

        Your comment also got me to re-read what I wrote to which you responded. I fear I might have come across crass & dismissive about our fearless leader, which was not my point, untrue, and my fault.

        As to what I meant, a little story: I’ve done a whole lot of white collar fraud related legal work, both as a prosecutor & defending attorney. Some decades back, after a pretty impressive run of wins in the latter role (obviously not all attributable to me but I’m who got paid & too much credit), I was invited to meet with a happy satisfied client with other interests, including in particular in the former Soviet Russia sphere, plus someone I knew in a different context than legal practice whose name is probably still too prominent to state.

        They told me their problem – big, difficult, lots of money, all involving a deal in that sphere – & that my name had been floated along with that of another attorney to take over a case that was going badly. They named the other attorney they were considering, and asked my take on him.

        That’s a pretty awkward & fraught thing to be asked on many levels, but it happens, a lot if you get a rep, so I’d developed ways to deal with it. In this case I said he was neither friend nor colleague, & tho he seemed perfectly presentable & able, my impression was there were things he’d do I would not, that he & I would have quite distinct approaches to the same facts, & that it was very likely that we’d leave quite different impressions about the client with any judge – but that with some judges those differences wouldn’t matter.

        Then the man I knew in a different context named another attorney & again asked my view. The name was of someone also neither friend nor colleague but I did know him socially & worked both against & with him on several large complex cases & he struck me as a lawyer’s lawyer type, ultra smart, ethical, very thoughtful. In my own head I actually welcomed this name being raised because it was an opportunity to imply things about the first attorney I wasn’t prepared to say bluntly for many reasons, including professional ethics. It’s actually possible I sounded ebullient at the prospect of getting passed over for this second name; I certainly felt relieved at being able to speak freely about him.

        Well, it turned the SECOND name was the attorney they were looking to replace. But, they had their answer: I would employ pretty much the same standards, including ethics, as the attorney they wanted to dump, so they went straight away with the first-named attorney who discussing had made me so uncomfortable.

        Out of prurient interest, I followed the progress of the case. From my distance, it looked like the case proceeded to go hugely weird, ugly & dirty. I couldn’t tell from public records how it turned out, but my formerly happy client later told me he & his fellow investors in the company were thrilled by the tactics, the outcome not.

        I had at least 2 other roughly parallel experiences on other case ‘opportunities’, and I was just as happy not to be part of them as well.

        As a trial attorney, there can be times when you’d actually welcome the involvement of an independent legal advisor to lay out the differences in approach & ethics between you & whoever, rather than spend a lot of time, energy & grief explaining to a client why they can’t do X and why you’re not prepared to do Y.

  3. Cold N. Holefield says:

    I suppose it’s possible Russia is responsible for this latest leak related to Don Jr.’s emails and meeting with Natalia et al. A possible Warning Shot to Trump after/during The G20 to make it clear who holds the Power and who has the Leverage.

    The message is — This Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg You Fat Orange Slob, So Don’t Get Any Bright Ideas Of Your Own.

    Afterall, I’ve recently learned that the Legal Community at large isn’t really interested in pursuing Trump & his Criminal Cabal for Treason and Putin is savvy enough to know this, so it’s no skin off Putin’s back to further impugn Russia by releasing some Juice that will make Trump & his Team Scramble & Dodge the Ankle-Biting Press.

    Putin’s stance is, “impugn me & my country all you want — your opinion means nothing to me and soon enough if I have my way, you won’t be allowed to have an opinion any longer.”

    • Rugger9 says:

      Not a bad choice, but he’d be tailed for sure.  I think the resident spook chief (who could be anyone with a diplomatic clearance, typically NOT a top-level person) would be more likely, however.  Bannon is a possibility, since Clinton dirt is prime fodder for Breitbart.

      Sr signed off on this however, whoever else was there since at least two of his immediate family were known attendees.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Mulling it over while walking the dog… What if #8 was Sessions?  He was a key mover in the campaign and was in close contact with the GOP leadership.  It would explain why the Prevezon prosecution was spiked.  It had to be done more delicately than it was however, so I have a couple of Qs for the lawyers to help sort this out:

      What was the motion / ruling that Prevezon lost just before the settlement was announced?

      What did the USA file on that topic, and did it get amended after Bharara was tossed?

      Just how damaging was the Prevezon loss, did it lay them wide open to be crushed?

    • Rugger9 says:

      The Booman Tribune points to the WashPost article for the soft sell gambit:


      However, Booman also notes some of the other players and why they are problematic.  For example. Boris Epshteyn is apparently a Russian, but I’m sure he’s not emphasizing that detail while tapping into the wingnut welfare system.  An excerpt:

      There’s a much longer list of characters who might have compromised themselves. Carter Page was let go because his activities were too obvious. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, has all kinds of relationships with pro-Russian Ukrainians and may have had secret meetings with Russians in Eastern Europe. Michael Caputo actually worked for the Kremlin in the 1990s. Boris Epshteyn was born in Moscow and toes their line. There’s the whole Felix Sater element that no one should ever forget. Trump’s foul-mouthed lawyer Marc Kasowitz also has represented Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank.

      As one might say, hmmm….


      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Dots: Sberbank Bayrock Swift Sater Futerfas Mueller Ukraine “private public gardens”

        [Futerfas office next block from the 666 5th Avenue money pit, two blocks from Trump Tower]


        Sater has a history of saving himself from criminal prosecution by betraying associates. In the late 1990s, he avoided serving more jail time by providing information on Russian organized crime to the FBI and CIA. Andrew Weissmann, the prosecutor who negotiated the plea deal with Sater in 1998, has been hired by Robert Mueller to be part of the special counsel’s probe into the president.


        Futerfas encountered Moscow in the early 2000s case against former Tyco International chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski. Futerfas represented Christine Berry, Kozlowski’s art consultant, in the sales tax avoidance investigation that led to the larger case over Kozlowski’s corporate “looting.”

        [Next link is long, interesting, and touches on Spy vs Spy]


        “”What makes this investigation especially difficult is that it will lead into the complex relations between the counterintelligence operations of the FBI and its criminal investigative work,” says Blum.

        “Further, it is likely other elements of the intelligence community are involved and that they have ‘equities’ to protect. Much of the evidence, justifiably, will be highly classified to protect sources and methods and in particular to protect individuals who have helped one or another of the agencies involved.”

        In his March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey said that he could not go into detail about its probe into the Trump administration’s Russian connection.

        If he had, we might have learned that, for more than three decades the FBI has had Trump Tower in its sights. Many of its occupants have been targets of major investigations, others have been surveilled, and yet others have served as informants. One thing many of them have in common is deep ties to organized crime — including the Russian mafia.

        Felix Sater fits all of these categories. A convicted felon, Sater worked in Trump Tower, made business deals with Donald Trump through Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock, cooperated with the FBI and CIA and was subsequently protected by the DOJ from paying for his crimes. And the Moscow-born immigrant remains deeply linked to Russia and Ukraine.

        [the gardens. Who met there in ‘secret’?]


        • bmaz says:

          Jeebus, why not throw thermite in there for the total crazy? That run on string is simply ridiculous.

          Criminal defense attorneys represent criminals, so in your book, any Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon bullshit over nearly 20 years is good enough to go “dot connecting”? This is actually beyond ridiculous.

          • bmaz says:

            Kind? I think it was good of you to tag this. Kushner’s ties to Leviev have been an issue from the start, as that article lays out. Think it doesn’t diminish the likelihood that Agalaravs were used as cutouts in oner instance, but is yet another spoke of concern.

  4. b says:

    On the Steele “sources”. My hunch is that source “D” is Goldstone, the British tabloid scribe. I don’t regard him as reliable.

    Matt Taibbi has some experience with the relevant Russian lobbying crew
    Russiagate and the Magnitsky Affair, Linked Again

    Someone offered him a scoop only to do some Magnitsky lobbying on him:
    /quote/The interview was off the record, so I can’t say much about it, except to say that my experience was weirdly similar to the account Trump Jr. offered about his meeting with Veselnitskaya. /blockquote/

    Also The Hill:
    Exclusive: DOJ let Russian lawyer into US before she met with Trump team

    /quote/The sources also described their interactions with Veselnitskaya in the same way that Trump Jr. did. They claimed not to know who she worked for or what her motives were.

    “Natalia didn’t speak a word of English,” said one source. “Don’t let anyone tell you this was a sophisticated lobbying effort. It was the least professional campaign I’ve ever seen. If she’s the cream of the Moscow intelligence community then we have nothing to worry about.”/endquote/

    The hapless lobbying, offering dirt that isn’t there to get into talking about Magnitsky, seems to be standard with the Russians lobbying on this affair. That makes the Trump jun story believable.

    More relevant reporting:

    The Russian Lawyer And The Lobbyist From The Trump Jr. Meeting Had A Busy Month In America Last Summer

    Who Is the Russian Lobbyist Who Met With Donald Trump Jr.?

    • bmaz says:

      DOJ did not admit her. They joined in her request for parole admittance which was done by the DHS because she was involved in the Prevezon litigation and helpful to any resolution of the same. She is no lightweight. DHS later gave her a more formal non-immigrant visa in June of 2016, but it is unclear on what date.

      As to whether this supports Jr’s story or not….not really, cut outs like this are exactly what you would expect according to intelligence professionals. We have no idea yet what was in her material, but even if it was thin, that establishes nothing in and of itself without surrounding facts. The meeting still has all the indicators of being exactly what it is being painted as being.

    • John Casper says:


      I’m not 100% clear on your point about Natalia.

      Is there a common Natalia thread in the links you provided? If so, could you pull out the relevant quotes?

      IMHO, what’s relevant is that Don Jr. didn’t call the FBI when he received: “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.”

  5. Charles says:

    An important data point:
    “Levine, who said their conversation took place when he was a reporter at The New York Times, added that he hadn’t picked up any evidence of a current relationship between Akhmetshin and Russian intelligence in “numerous intense reporting experiences” over the years.”

    Steve Levine is a former NYT reporter and seems to be about the only person in this olio that knows Akhmetshin well.

    I am agnostic on whether Akhmetshin was working on behalf of the Russian government. However, a number of the memes swirling about this guy are imploding. He routinely gets called a *Russian* intel agent. But actually he was a *Soviet* intel agent.

    The amount of money he has persuades me he is not of a virtuous inclination. But intel agent or just a crook like the Trumps and their pals in the Russian government?

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Compare the standard corporate formula for firing an executive, “He resigned to spend more time with his family,” to Gorelick’s comment that Kushner, “decided on the change” in representation.

    Kushner might well have made the call. Then again, Gorelick would be careful to avoid looking like she dumped a client. Not just because it could be bad for business. It could jeopardize Kushner’s legal or propaganda case.

  7. John Casper says:


    IANAL, but I don’t think a sitting President can be indicted for treason.

    AFAIK, impeachment–by the House–and conviction–by the Senate–would have to come first.

  8. lefty665 says:

    Back to Browder of Magintsky Act fame.  You noted Grassley would like to see him and Fusion’s Simpson testify side by side. From the WSJ July 15-16 print edition page A5, reporters Forrest and Sonne:

    “Veselnitskaya said she wanted to inform the Trump organization that an American firm Mr. Browder worked with, Ziff Brothers Investments, had dodged taxes in Russia and later donated to Democrats.”

    That is just the tip of the iceberg. The more we see of Browder the stranger it becomes. He is a piece of work.  I know nothing about this source, but the article is entertaining and perhaps more:  https://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-good-fortune-of-mr-browder/

    If you have a little time to surf the web, ask the Google about William Browder. Most links are eye openers.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, he does seem to be quite the piece of work, doesn’t he? He and Veselnitskaya almost seem to deserve each other in a way. Except Browder is on a crusade because his friend and lawyer was killed in a Russian jail for crossing the Kremlin and its friends, and she is trying to smooth it all over for the motherland.

  9. orionATL says:

    re lefty @5:33

    the “unz review”, eh. where did you dig this one up, lefty.

    just in case anyone wants an overview of the magnitsky conflict, here is a story from the washington post, a publication that faces more critical scrutiny in a day than the unz review faces in a decade:


    note that hillary clinton was the sec of state at the time the magnitsky act was passed and earned putin’s rage for that. one could even speculate that mentioning magnitsky in the trawl for the june, 2016 meeting with the trumpses was a covert reference to putin’s determination for revenge against cancer clinton.
    we’ll see how this all plays out, but setting browder up as a bad guy against putin’s good guy who just happened to toss magnitsky in the clinker and beat him up seems slavishly slavish of you, lefty.

    • bmaz says:

      I don’t think he was being a Putin apologist in the slightest, not that I read anyway. This is kind of what I was alluding to above somewhere – Browder may be on a righteous mission over his friend and lawyer death at the hands of Putin, but make no mistake, he is very much a squeaky wheel. That can be a good thing, and arguably is here, but Browder does get around.

      • seedeevee says:

        Snicker “Browder may be on a righteous mission over his friend and lawyer death at the hands of Putin” snicker.


        At The Hands Of Putin.

    • lefty665 says:

      If you look past the MSM you might find that Browder and Magnitsky were just crooked as hell and the whole sob story is a crock. In their greed they ran afoul of Russian oligarchs, Browder got fleeced and Magnitsky paid with his life. Browder managed to parlay it into starting Cold War 2.0. All that is now mixed up in our political morass.

      And you’re one of the mental health impaired Americans who is off his meds again aren’t you orion?  I’d encourage you to go see your therapist. Your ad hominem attacks do not contribute any more now then when you got run out of here for them a couple of years ago. We can play nice and still have a discussion with opinions that vary. In addition to the weedy analysis, that is what is most  attractive about this place and uncommon on the web. Please don’t fuck it up.


  10. orionATL says:

    bmaz –

    i have been reading lefty closely for some time. he justifies trump while professing disdain for trump. he justifies trump’s eccentric, ungrounded, and expedient embrace of putin/rusdia as part of his defense of trump, wherein lefty holds up the “peace” shield. i think “apologist” is entirely apropriate.

    if you bother to focus on the treatment magnitsky received at the hands of the, essentially, soviets, and on the treatment a lawyer representing magnitsky received recently (a 4-story accidental fall), you might wonder why lefty would be determined to discredit the guy responsible for pushing what became the magnitsky act. what is the point of discrediting browder when browder’s life is a sideshow to the mainshow? well, one guess it is to justify putin’s outrage at the magnitsky act and attendent sanctions.

    just for geneological fun, bill browder has a father and an uncle who are distinguished mathematicians.

    more interestingly, he has a very famous grandfather, earl browder, whose name all old codgers (with memory still competent) with an interest in american politics will recognize.

  11. orionATL says:


    lefty, put simply, you are a blowhard contrarian and a disguiser of your motives, not unlike the many trolls i have fought.

    as you had suggested, i loomed up internet cites and, amazingly, very few mentioned your concerns about browder. but your cite of out-of-the-blue goofball “unz” does. why didn t you cite some less obscure, more creditable cites? who am i to believe? you are my lyin’ eyes.

    as for my “getting run out of here a couple of years ago”, that is more ignorance or dishonestly on your part. i left this site in april 2016 with a clear statement of why i was leaving. after i left, some other long-time commenters slowly drifted off.

    even if your concerns about browder are justified, but they don’t take away from the treatment magnitsky endured at the hands of the rusdians, nor the treatment the magnitsky family lawyer recently endured.

    browder is not the main act. focusing on him feels more like a distracting counterattack than an attempt to address the issues arising from the june meeting with trumpses and russians.

  12. Rugger9 says:

    Digby had a column on this today posted at noon called “The overture” citing this guy:

    Rolf Mowatt-Larssen is the director of the Intelligence and Defense Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center. He served for three years as director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the Department of Energy and for 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer in domestic and international posts. 

    Basically, this meeting on June 9 was a trial balloon to see if the Trump campaign would bite (they did) and if the Trump campaign would report the meeting (they didn’t).  So, the Russians then knew that they could work with the Trumpies with impunity as long as it could be kept under wraps.  Read the whole thing, noting that Digby agrees we do not know the details yet, there is enough plausibility to go look and dig.  There are also some files that Natalia handed over (or didn’t) and the timing of the data dumps and the GOP platform change.  Applying the Sherlock Holmes rule, when everything else is eliminated, what remains is usually the truth.

    • bmaz says:

      Think you, Orion and Digby! are right to consider Mowatt-Larssen’s piece. Not too long before it came out I noted that many intel professionals, both online and off line, seem to have this opinion, but Mowatt-Larssen crystallized it very well. And that is given only what we know publicly today, there is going to be a LOT more fill material that comes out, whether inculpatory or not, in the coming days.

  13. orionATL says:


    if you want to get near the political truth of the day, you want to read digby.

    she has a long political memory, intellectual integrity, and evinces a strong sense of caring deeply – you won’t get any ideological quibbles or on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand from digby.

    i introduced my wife to digby several months ago. now digby is one of her trusted sources, a source she shares with her family and friends and political partners.

    • lefty665 says:

      Thank you so very much orion, I ran into digby and marcy around the same time, way back when the web was young and free. Good that they have both survived.

      My recollection is that you made a series of posts with escalating vitriol, culminating in a particularly profane and offensive one in which you declared to bmaz after he cautioned you to the effect: I don’t care, ban me if you want to.  Then like the song on Hee Haw “ffffffttttt you were gone”. Hope that cycle does not repeat itself. You can be interesting when you are not consumed by anger at others.

  14. orionATL says:



    i would say your recollection is entirely mistaken, which it is, but stoping there would fail to credit you with the facile malignance of misrepresentation you bring to your crafty commentary.

    • bmaz says:

      Orion has been around since The Next Hurrah, and I personally remember helping make that transition because it was complicated getting permissions initiated when we first started at FDL. I have no recollection whatsoever of ever having threatening to ban, nor do I think I would have done so.

      I do however, implore both OrionATL, Lefty665 (who has also been around forever) and John Casper (same longevity) to quit sniping at each other personally. You have all been here and are valued, and have valuable content to provide. Let each other be and do so.

  15. orionATL says:

    following rugger9 above, i note this opinion piece by rolf mowatt-larsen in wapo:


    this article explains almost every puzzle and question i had about the trump, jr. meeting with russian lawyer v.

    – the meeting was a soft approach to feel out receptivity.
    – the russians were testing to see if the meeting would be reported.
    – if not reported the rvs could proceed and, as a bonus, they had got some new kompromat on the entire leadership of the trump campaign.
    – a big puzzle for me was why did v. provide such worthless info ? answer: it’s all about plausible deniability in this first meeting the trivial info protected russians if meeting was reported to american counterintelligence.
    – v. was a cut-out. not a person directly involved in russian espianage. more p. deniability.
    – a russian like v. would never have undertaken such a meeting on her own. thrre would have been severe consequences had she done so.

    read the article. the meeting with the entire trump campaign leadership was a coup for russian intelligence – a beautifully planned and executed russian espionage act on a group of suckers, cum kompromat.

    these russian guys are slicker than goose shit.

    now the fbi counterintell professionals know all they need to know about intent on either side.
    what remains is what actions, if any, were taken in concert to damage clinton? here i would guess the trumpses might have acted as forward scouts to direct russian internet artillery in this state or that, at this time or that.

  16. Cold N. Holefield says:

    – if not reported the rvs could proceed and, as a bonus, they had got some new kompromat on the entire leadership of the trump campaign.

    And this is why it’s possible Russia is responsible for the leak. If so, it necessarily means that there is SO MUCH MORE where this came from since they have no qualms about using this one meeting from their Prodigious Files of Trump Kompromat as a Throwaway Warning Shot across Trump’s Orange Putrefied Bow to keep him & his Criminal Cabal “honest.”

    Remember, Putin’s Strategy, as expressed by Dugin, is to play both sides of The American Political Divide. The goal is to get America to destroy itself, thus negating the use of Conventional Military Conflict & Intervention. It’s working, but it didn’t take much. All the fuel has been there ready to light for years now. Putin brought the match. Once the dust has cleared, Putin’s Sleeper Cells will be there to help fill The Power Vacuum and put the finishing touches on America as an unofficial de facto Russian Client State.

  17. person1597 says:

    Today in Gaslighters On Parade…

    “God has sent America a new, powerful leader. He’s a good man, a moral man. God has delivered Donald J. Trump to save the United States of America.”

    Why…?…to …

    “anathematize the entire American right wing.”

  18. lefty665 says:

    So far all we seem to be pretty sure of is that Junior is not too bright. That apple didn’t fall far from the tree. It is not a surprise that Kushner seems to think that rich kids are above the law (SF-86). Dunno why Manafort was along, maybe just to be sure nobody screwed up his Ukrainian connections.  Veselnitskaya’s oligarchs probably knew the ones Manafort was hooked up with.

    Could it have been a Russian intel operation? Sure. Do we know that? No. If it is then it invalidates another piece of the Dems “Dodgy Dossier”, that the Ruskies have been feeding Trump information for 5 years or more. A new approach could only screw up an established connection. Folks can have either Junior was a Russian intel chump or the Ruskies have been feeding Trump for years,  but not both.

    Curious that you guys are so wound up about Junior while being unconcerned that we know the Dems paid Fusion GPS to pay Steele to pay Russians for dirt on Trump.  As Marcy cautioned the other day, better be a little careful when going after Juniors scalp, the other edge of that sword is pretty sharp.

    Curious too that Browder complained to DoJ about Fusion GPS not registering as a lobbyist for  Veselnitskaya’s employer, Prevezon Holdings of Cyprus, to repeal Magnitsky. The company got a “sweetheart” deal out of DoJ for laundering money in NYC real estate after Bharara was fired. BakerHostetler was defending Prevezon. What bells do they ring with the legally aware?  Also, Grassley  alleges Akhmetshin worked with Fusion. Looks like Fusion GPS could be named “Dirtbags for Hire”. Motto something like, “We play all sides and specialize in sewage. Enter offices via manhole cover at the intersection of 14th and K streets”.  Oh, and the Dems hired Fusion in ’12 for dirt on the wife of a contributor to Mittens – no job too small. Whew, as they say at the ball park, you can’t tell the players without a program.

    It’s a remarkably broad group looking to dig up political dirt, take advantage of each other, or spy on one another in a small space. Further developments should be enlightening. This has the ingredients of a first class farce with people hiding behind potted plants, under desks and in closets at Fusion GPS while others barge in and out of doors and manhole covers. You can’t make stuff like this up.  I’m fixing popcorn.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I don’t think it screws up anything on the dossier or anything else in the collusion timeline.  When the Russians first tried to set up Trump as an asset, he was wealthy (maybe) and unprincipled but not much more.  POTUS as a compromised asset, however, is a gold mine and so they made their play for real this time.

      I’d still like to see the answers on the Prevezon case I’d posed before, because I’d like to be sure why Sessions took such an interest that Bharara had to be fired and the case shut down for pennies on the dollar.  Who’s #8?

    • Brad says:

      Could it be that the meeting was an attempt to feed Trump intel?  Albeit, through his son, but this doesn’t invalidate the dossier statement about feeding Trump intel for a long time.

      About the Dem/Fusion GPS elephant: So what?  If we are attempting to yell treason for every instance where political opponents paid other agencies to gather dirt, then you could label all politicians that ran for office treasonous.

      That part doesn’t bother me (not saying that I don’t find it morally wrong per se and in principal, but politics has become strikingly amoral).

      What does bother me is the ‘we’ll give you dirt in exchange for sanctions relief’.

  19. M. says:

    Very confused here.

    Hillary financing Steele’s investigation was bad. Team Trump’s meeting with and obtaining information from Russian state actors is okay.

    Somebody please help me understand!

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, you are very confused here. And very disingenuous in your framing.

      First off, “Hillary” did do anything of the sort. Whatsoever. That is a flat out lie. The Steele effort was a Republican primary op that, only later, was picked up partially as a follow up by an independent Democratic group. Not “Hillary” or her campaign. So, equating that limited circumstance with the full on effort by the entire brain trust of actual Trump campaign is not a good faith move.

      Secondly, Steele was a private individual, not a nation state effort as described and promised in the email between Goldstone and Jr. Again, equating the two is bogus.

      There, I hope you understand now!

  20. person1597 says:

    Answers in Fox:

    “If the devil called me and said he wanted to set up a meeting to give me opposition research on my opponent I’d be on the first trolley to hell to get it,” the judge said on her show Sunday.

    In other words… If you are not on a trolley to hell, you are going to be left behind.

    Of course, Hillary got left behind. Sad!

  21. TomA says:


    Do you see any credence to the theory that the Don Jr. meeting may have been a sting operation conducted by either the Russians for future political leverage or the Obama Administration in order to develop a basis for conducting FISA surveillance of the Trump Campaign?

    • bmaz says:

      Her name is spelled Marcy. The first, if you have read any of the comments in this thread regarding the Mowatt-Larssen article, is certainly far more than possible according to many intel experts. The last is ludicrous.

  22. PG says:

    It seems if Trump did collude with the Russian gov. to sway the election, the groundwork would have been laid prior to Jr.’s hapless, idiotic email exchange and meeting.  The idea that the Russian gov would, at that stage, attempt to collude with Don Jr. via email and through a lawyer who doesn’t speak english is bizarre.

    I have no trouble believing Trump is mixed up with Russian mobsters.  I have no trouble believing Trump may have colluded with Russia.  What I can’t understand is the state of the so-called evidence for collusion between Trump and the Russian government.  It is all too vague.  Just as the IC reports were too vague.  Either there is a case there or there isn’t — and the IC community has to know one way or the other at this point.

    • bmaz says:

      Actually, if you carefully read the email chain that even the Trumps corroborate, it appears quite likely there were prior and/or other conversations, and there is certainly a litany of after facts that could serve to tie it together. And, contrary to your statement, a lot of folks in the relevant community say cut outs and partial dangling such as occurred in the portion that is currently public is exactly how such an approach would be made by Russia. Here is yet another Mowatt-Larssen article, this one with Ryan Goodman, discussing just that.

      • PG says:

        If Russia’s goal was to collude with Trump in order to influence the election and continue the relationship throughout his presidency, I find it difficult to fathom that they would set up a meeting with a cut out via email, inviting Jr. to put in “hackable” writing his willingness to receive dirt on his father’s opponent from a foreign government…

        The mystery in this particular case (as well as the endless vague drip of “evidence” in general) is really odd and members of our government clearly know more.  Public speculation benefits media outlet ratings but not the country.  At this point, we need to know wtf is going on.

    • John Casper says:


      You wrote, “The idea that the Russian gov would, at that stage, attempt to collude with Don Jr. via email and through a lawyer who doesn’t speak english is bizarre.”

      Sounds like “plausible deniability.”  Makes sense for both sides.

      OT, I’m not sure if there is any daylight between Russian government, Russian mobsters, and Russian oligarchs.

      • PG says:

        John Casper

        It’s too stupid even for plausible deniability.  And I completely agree there’s no “daylight between Russian government, Russian mobsters, and Russian oligarchs.”


      • Kathryn in MA says:

        Unless the Russians were setting up Jr. as even more blackmailable leverage on Trump?

  23. person1597 says:

    What would “Gold Bars” say?

    “There’s obviously a risk here,” said Washington white-collar defense attorney Robert Luskin. “And that’s not any kind of judgment on [Trump’s] personal integrity or absence of it, but the apparent fact he doesn’t seem to be very sensitive about norms and about risks.”


  24. Jonf says:

    Bmaz at 12:54

    Isn’t Steele a British citizen and doesn’t his involvement as a foreign person violate election laws?

    • bmaz says:

      No, because Steele was being paid a fee for a service as oppose to being solicited for a donated thing of value.

      • Jonf says:

        Ok but it doesn’t sit well. Paying someone for dirt is still same thing no matter you call it a service or whatever ? So V brings dirt on Hillary to Jr as a “service” later paid by say eliminating the sanctions?

    • Willis Warren says:

      Why would it be the same thing?  Steele was subcontracted by an American firm, he wasn’t acting on behalf of a gov’t and wasn’t trying to influence the election directly as the emails claimed Russia was.


      • jonf says:

        So then what Trump should have done is hire some US person, like maybe Manafort, and let him do the research and just take it no questions asked?  If that is the way this is, then it looks like a nothing burger. What is the problem here, that Jr met with Russians?

      • bmaz says:

        By the way “Willis Warren”, I saw your attempt to use a sock puppet today. That is not allowed here.

        Pseudonymity is more than fine. Having the gall and lack of respect for the principals and commenters here to engage in multiple ID sock-puppetry is most certainly not.

        Pick a handle to display your work, and have the courage to be known by that, for better or worse.

      • jonf says:

        Thinking that Steele is a foreign national and this:

        The relevant statute — 52 U.S.C. 30121, 36 U.S.C. 510— bars foreign nationals from making any “contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value” in connection with any election. It also says no American “shall knowingly solicit, accept or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation” in connection with any election.


        • Willis Warren says:

          Go ahead and prosecute Rubio, Clinton, whoever.  I don’t care.  At this point, do you really think this is a defense?  you had a Russian money launderer in the room

        • bmaz says:

          Steele is not within the purview of §30121 because his work was paid for at fair market value and was not a “donation” or “contribution” within the ambit of the statute.

  25. orionATL says:

    pg@3:41 + and john casper@5:40

    john casper is right about plausible deniability.

    the whole meeting was about the russians cautiously feeling for interest and acceptance from the trumpses while maintaining plausible deniability should the trumps talk to u. s. counterintelligence. that the trumps did not alert counterintelligence is a key fact of the meeting.

    it is all explained very nicely in this article:


    which i cited earlier based on a comment by rugger9.

  26. person1597 says:


    Sekulow helps tease out the real reason why Don jr was chosen for the drop.

    “Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me,”…

    In other words… Daddy was under adult supervision.

    “Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016,” he wrote. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”

    The Donald was being protected from what he wanted.

    The Junior was not.

    • Rugger9 says:

      If the USSS was managing Senior, that likely rules him out as #8 since someone would know with a log record.

  27. PG says:

    I take the point that the Magnitsky Act angle appears like it could be an effort to establish plausible deniability.

    However, the email exchange causes me to doubt that theory. Considering Trump’s longstanding relationships with Russian oligarchs/mobsters, wouldn’t channels for communication and collusion have been established, secure, and understood between the Trump team and Russia? And is it likely that Russian government operatives would, under any circumstances, initiate an email chain that explicitly establishes collusion? Or are they that stupid?

    p.s. tried to reply directly to your comment but couldn’t

  28. person1597 says:

    Corey frames the mirror…

    President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski looked to temper speculation…
    …saying on Sunday that “great” Russian spies would not have set up the meeting.


    Corey is right…

    With cronies like The Donald’s doing the deeds, who needs great spies?

    And who is crony #8? Probably not a great spy, either.

  29. John Casper says:


    WRT “p.s. tried to reply directly to your comment but couldn’t,” afaik, we all have that intermittent issue. My response to you here is another example.

    Can’t be helped, but grateful for such an amazing site in all the ways that matter.

    It’s more incentive for me to donate more.

    • PG says:

      John Casper

      I agree with you (again) that this is a remarkable site.

      I just came across this article by Masha Gessen.  I hope you and others here will take a moment to consider her perspective:  http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/07/12/waking-up-to-the-trumpian-world/

    • bmaz says:

      Welp, that Washington Post thing is ridiculous. Whether the average joe in the public is convinced of “collusion” is an asinine and false metric. First off, “collusion” is a misleading term the media and public has glommed on to and focused on. But it is NOT meaningful legally.

      There is no crime of “collusion”. Heck, “collusion” is not even a proper legal term of art. It is simply a dishonest, sloppy and lazy way to view the potential offenses in play undertake existent fact set. That is precisely why the Trump team keeps using it as the metric, they know “collusion” can’t be “proved” because there is no such thing criminally. So a poll asking uninformed mopes out on the street about “collusion” is beyond meaningless. What counts is what Robert Mueller et al think is being established within the actual perimeters of the law.

      • wayoutwest says:

        It’s a bit late in the game to try to deflect from the source of the trash-talk ‘collusion’ theme adopted by the snowflakes. They were warned by Comney that the legal term was ‘cooperation’ but they choose to stick with the more thuggish sounding collusion knowing that there was and is no evidence to back up real cooperation with the Russians charges. I think most of the snowflake mouthpieces are lawyers so they know this was a diversion and an attempt at conditioning the rubes.

        Trump’s team may be using the meaningless term collusion but they are mocking its use being lawyers who know it has never had any legal meaning.. I’m sure that Muller and his Clintonite clown posse will find some victim to persecute for some crime even if they have to invent one but their job is really to keep this teapot boiling until the next election.

      • lefty665 says:

        The Post has a long and checkered history with statistical innumeracy. It is probably a good baseline though. When and if public opinions do start to change it may be precipitous. Funny how “collusion” came to be the term of media choice.  Conspiracy seems both  a legal term and a lot simpler term that does not require overt acts. Juniors emails on their own might qualify, even if there is no actual evidence of Russian state involvement. Is that right bmaz?

        Parry and Hersh, on the other hand, are the real deal and worth reading. They have broken stories from the My Lai massacre to Iran-Contra, neocon warmongering, new McCarthyism, MH17 and  Sarin propaganda nonsense. Some of which are still in the process of transitioning from counter-establishment to conventional wisdom.

        • wayoutwest says:

          It is a shame that Sy Hersh is not the solid trustworthy investigative journalist we so badly need today. He admitted years ago that the My Lai story was handed to him and it was published widely through an unknown new news group. This was probably our first major limited hangout used to try to deflect attention from the soon to break Phoenix Program story a much larger and nasty affair.

          Hersh’s fantasy tales about Assad’s Sarin attacks have changed from rumor as rumor to rumor as fact and appear more like Assad apologia than reporting. I wanted to believe that his earlier Assad Sarin attack stories would be verified but they were nonsense and remain nonsense. Its probably useless to think minds that make judgments before the evidence is presented can be opened. Some people still believe in bathtub Sarin.

          I have read both of the accounts of the most recent attack and the military pre-briefing was an eye opener Months of surveillance and direct tracking of the responsible parties with live spotters, radar, drones and satellite tracking through a series of 9 gas attacks culminating in the final Sarin attack. The general/pilot who delivered these nasty packages was directly observed by spotters who recorded his takeoffs in his clearly marked aircraft.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Collusion may not be legally defined as correctly noted by bmaz, but the election code forbids this kind of meeting.  I would prefer to call this espionage since functionally that is what was going on here and it is also a well defined term.

        • bmaz says:

          Not sure it comes close to the elements of “espionage” either. There are a lot of folks out in the ether (including, by my recollection, here) equating this meeting with treason and the Rosenbergs. The Rosenbergs were never charged with nor convicted of treason.

          They were however, convicted of espionage. From my view, there are no facts, even taken in the worst light we currently know, that legally meet espionage under the applicable statute.

          Can only speak for myself, but I think this fact set is still within the ambit of campaign finance law, §1001 false statements and, maybe, conspiracy, eventually.

  30. Splashoil says:

    As long as the “fighting D’s” fill the Congress with collusion gas, no need to push on for Single Payer Health Care, student debt relief, or anything else relevant to voters. We got a problem. Just look in the mirror.

  31. orionATL says:



    your trump-lovin’, trump-excusin’ viewpoint ( “my baby wouldn’t never rob no bank.”) and robert parry’s line up nicely –
    no wonder you’ve become a fan of consortium news:


    but what has your side-game distraction with browder got to do with the central issue of the possibility of the trumpses and putin’s gang of thugs working together to swing the 2016 presidential election? let me guess; it’s connected with your sudden deep concern for world peace.

    • lefty665 says:

      orion, suggest you pay attention to bmaz’s caution above. Your ad-hominem crap doesn’t add anything to the conversation. If not for Parry the country would still be worshiping at Saint Ronnie’s Iran-Contra feet.  Didn’t take Pat Lang long to decide he’d had enough of you. Have a nice day.

    • bmaz says:

      Come on Orion, let’s not do that. There are a wide range of people from the political spectrum that participate here. If arguments are junk, fine, say so. But let’s please stop with the personal invective.

    • Rugger9 says:

      That was really strange to me too, why blame the Secret Service whose job doesn’t include babysitting as the reason Jr held the meeting?  I think that if that is the best Sekulow could do (and he would be very aware of the USSS responsibilities from his prior USG service) then Jr, Kushner. Manafort et al. are in deep doo-doo to quote Poppy Bush.  As an aside, for someone who wears his faith on his sleeve, Sekulow knowingly violating the “do not bear false witness” commandment would be a deal breaker for the Lord.  After all Matthew 23 and the Didache has something on this ostentatious display of “faith” as well as many Gospel passages where Jesus hammered the hypocrites as the worst of sinners (Woes of the Pharisees).

      So, while the RWNJs dredge up the 20% Uranium story (Snopes blew this apart on October 25, 2016) and other alleged and fake news HRC peccadillos, these are all distractions to get Cilliza to write more columns and hide what is going on for real.

      Healthcare: karma’s playing for keeps here, since no GOP want’s to be the third vote.  With McCain out, only two is needed now.   Until the thing is dead, it will need pushback, so even though I am encouraged by AHIP and BCBS saying what they said over the weekend (disaster awaits), until they pull their political contributions it will remain on the GOP Senator’s “troubling” level of effectiveness.

      Policy: Jared STILL has his clearance and his dogs-breakfast portfolio and seems to be acting on it.  While we are all entertained about Flynn’s surfing in his hometown, he is IMHO still a spy for the Turks and the Russians based upon his taking the money for services rendered (and not reported – the Army needs to do a GCM on him).  Jared also still has his conflicts through Kushner industries, so it would appear to me that something is being set up behind the scenes (like the reported “back channel” which just screams espionage by a mole) that has to be completed before Jared goes.  Likewise for Trump Sr, he is too useful as a pen holder and maybe this will all break through once Ryan’s agenda is passed and signed.

      GOP collusion: the RNC really doesn’t want anyone to fully grasp just how much they collaborated with Putin’s team to steal this election.  IT guru Parscale’s risible claim that nothing was used or shared doesn’t correspond to the reports from the field, so when he goes in front of the committee look for the same kind of theater we see when JeffBo visits with softball questions from the GOP and pointed questions by the Ds and lots of “I don’t remember” responses.  One hopes the D investigators will have some firm evidence before Parscale walks in the room.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I forgot one on Mueller: we haven’t heard about the Alfa servers in a while, and I would suspect that this ought to be a very interesting thread to pull with Parscale when Mueller interviews him.


        Did Parscale get immunity to testify?  I don’t remember seeing it.

  32. orionATL says:


    lefty –

    when are you going to learn the difference between “ad hominem” and criticism of a stance you take?

    about two weeks ago i was reading thru comments here, and heard you level your “ad hominem” whine when a frequent and competent commenter here dissected one of your arguments at length – to your dissatisfaction.

    in my experience guess who uses the ad hominem whine a LOT – rightwing trolls.

    quit playing the refs and whining.

  33. orionATL says:


    like i said, lefty, quit playing the refs and whining “ad hominem”.

    comity is earned, not commanded.

    • lefty665 says:

      I don’t make the rules around here, but I do have enough respect for Marcy and bmaz to try to play by them. You apparently do not.

      • bmaz says:

        We will do the enforcement, neither you, Orion, John Casper, nor anybody else, need do so.


        • lefty665 says:

          Never expected or asked for anything else. Just noting I’ve heard you and while imperfect (below) am trying to play nice, while orion is dissing you and me. Reminding him that you rapped knuckles for inappropriate behavior seemed pretty benign and refrained from responding to him in kind. I have zero intent to usurp your role.

          • bmaz says:

            You are doing fine. And thank you. Orion has been around (and you have been here a long time too!) nearly as long as I have. And Is a very decent chap. This squabble is a waste of all of our time.

            And I am sending this message to John Casper as well. Y’all do your part and submit worthwhile commentary. We here will take care of the policing if and when it is necessary. It never used to be, I would like to get back to that status.

  34. orionATL says:

    i have been looking at “consortium news” articles. i don’t think i have ever come across another american media outlet that is so extensively pro-russian. dozens of articles on matters such as nato’s bogus russian narrative, on the dangerous new coldwar, on what the magazine calls “russia-gate” (the soft-coup mentioned above), on “the rush to judgment” on russian doping, etc.

    this magazine is where you want to go for a read if you are concerned that russia is being treated unfairly in the western media. its quite an amazing site to visit. its editor is one robert parry.

  35. Cold N. Holefield says:

    orionATL, Moon of Alabama blog is equally Pro-Russian and the Commentators, if not Russian Agents, might as well be.

    Putin has captured both the Far Left & the Far Right in America and elsewhere. He’s a big Happy Days fan, hence The Malachi Crunch.

    Will the Feckless, Spineless, Selfish Middle hold, or will it fold? I say it folds. It’s too self-interested and easily distracted by Pop Entertainment & Career Aspirations to mount an appropriate Resistance.

    NeoLiberalism is being replaced by NeoAristocracy with Russia at the Center of the Hub & Spoke.

  36. Rugger9 says:

    Parry is an interesting case, I have read him over at the Smirking Chimp and don’t get the sense he’s anything more than cautious about “going there”.  He usually presents sound reasoning even if I do not always agree with it.  The Eddie Munster look has to go, however.

    However, just like Greenwald at the Intercept lost his progressive way, Parry has goofed here.

    One of the old jokes in Berkeley was “scratch a liberal, find a fascist” because invariably they would insist on conformity in spite of the evidence.

  37. orionATL says:


    thanks for the perspective. i had never run across consortium news before. i can easily see challenging main stream media’s “easy” (in the bad sense of that word) coverage of a lot of subjects. parry is certainly an against-the-stream type in the media world. but “russia is always treated badly” viee takes some swollowing hard.

    and yes the eddie munster look has got to go :)

  38. Rugger9 says:

    As of now I see a couple of unanswered questions:

    Who’s #8? Sessions, Bannon, Flynn or a player to be named later?  I don’t think the current POTUS is #8 simply because the USSS would have logged it while under Obama’s administration and I’m sure copies would have been made (and leaked) after the election.

    What does Mueller have in his hands now?  I have seen rumors that he’s turned Flynn (when he’s not surfing), Manafort, and other unnamed players who have been remarkably reticent compared to previous history.  That’s IMHO why we’re getting so much Gorka, Kellyanne, Corey and Jay on the TV now is because Mueller’s muzzled the others.  The Faux News attempts to minimize this scandal is also beginning to fall apart, since even Doocy (!!) thinks this story needs to be brought out.  Shep Smith ranting by himself isn’t newsworthy, and Hannity is too tied in to go rogue, but when the usual apologists are saying “there might be something there” my Kremlinology antennae twitch a little more.

    Just how bad is this scandal if Jr thought this release qualified as a limited hangout?  While it is possible that Jr released this email dump on a whim, being stupid, I’m sure his lawyer already hired (as well as Daddy’s lawyer) made it very clear to him to check with the legal side first.  This kind of thing is like an iceberg, the real danger is bigger and hidden below.

    • bmaz says:

      But hasn’t that been the question set from the jump? Is there a “scandal”? If not, what in the world is up with the relentless lies and obfuscation? And, honestly, there is no credible view of how Team Trump has reacted, before, and certainly not after, election that makes them look good in this responsive regard.

      That alone raises serious questions. But it is noting whatsoever compared to the actual evidence that has arisen. And, yes, it IS evidence, at least to anybody who knows enough to not conflate “evidence” with “proof”.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Well, my guess on #8 is KIslyak (way above), but it could have been Trump Sr.

      Why? His distaste for USSS, and the ‘private public gardens’ at Trump Tower. How many secret passageways exist in Trump Tower?

      “you are in a twisty maze of little passages, all different”

      • Rugger9 says:

        Kislyak would be tailed for sure, so I don’t think so.  Trump Senior had a USSS detail assigned to him, but I don’t know how close they would be in his tower, except to observe that there would be hell to pay if they lost track of him at any time, especially knowing who lived / worked in Trump Tower, like Felix Sater.

        With that said, if Senior was there at the meeting then this sinks to a new level of bad for his administration.  OTOH, I’m quite sure Manafort in particular would have made it clear about the optics and plausible deniability with Jared to provide the “reliable story” on the meeting results.

        Don’t Jared and Manafort have a date with some committees coming up?

        • Rugger9 says:

          I ran across a DailyKos post that tries to lay out the case that Senior was there based upon the parsing of the USSS statement.  So, there is some noise out there that because the Secret Service said (paraphrasing) “we don’t protect Junior” as opposed to “we weren’t there at all” that of course means Senior himself was there.  I would need to see more proof if for no other reason than Paul Manafort being there tells me he was able to convince Senior that he really shouldn’t be there and wouldn’t have to be.  If Senior popped in for a photo op like he did at the US Women’s Open last weekend (in this case at Trump Tower without his escort), there’s some explaining to do, otherwise it would be logged under Obama administration control.



          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            LOL. Thanks for the link.

            “That’s brilliant, they all agree, congratulating themselves on their brilliant logical reasoning. So they send out the yes-man lawyer, Jay Sekulow, to pitch this on the Sunday morning political shows.”

            [Not sure Jay has smelled any diesel yet]

            • bmaz says:

              Well, Sekulow has sure been huffing something. And I have seen him for long before this shit.

              • John Casper says:

                bmaz, thank you for the take on Mr. Sekulow.

                FWIW, among the information Jay volunteered–it wasn’t requested–I found two interesting. He said POTUS did not attend the meeting with Don, Jr. and made the point that if there were any problems with it, the blame was on the Secret Service. I believe he made both points twice.

                I’ve never heard anyone allege POTUS was at the meeting. IMHO the easiest explanation for those statements is that Sekulow thought they enabled him to say something about Don Jr.’s meeting that in the first case was accurate; and if that’s the case, the second claim about the Secret Service would be moot. It’s my understanding the Secret Service at the time was only watching Trump and would have had no jurisdiction for the floors below.  I find this plausible, because Sekulow in preparing for the Sunday talk shows may have been challenged by finding affirmative statements he could make about Don Jr.’s meeting that didn’t injure his client and his son, among others.

                But, let’s say I’m wrong. What if POTUS joined the meeting after it began? That puts the Secret Service in the room. In this interpretation Sekulow’s using the Sunday talk shows to send a warning to the Secret Service and everyone at the meeting. You better not say POTUS was there. This fits Sekulow’s needs as POTUS’ attorney. He can use his statements to show that he believed his client when he told him he didn’t attend the meeting. If POTUS’ cell was in the room, that means someone picked it by mistake, went to the meeting, and then returned it to POTUS.


                Another couple of paragraphs Jay volunteered were about Mr. Comey. Since Jay thinks Mr. Comey committed a crime, why hasn’t he told his client? His client could order his AG to investigate it. Or has he told his client, but his client and his AG don’t agree with Mr. Sekulow.

                I’m embarrassed to admit I watched MTP, haven’t in years. It was only via youtube. IMHO Chuck Todd held Jay more accountable than I would have expected. Go Chuck!

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Maybe #8 is KIslyak, #9 is senior, #10 is Sessions. Numbers 11 thru 17 could be the russian catering crew (totally trustable because they speak no English, like Veselnitskaya. Wink)

            We need a poll. How many stingrays deployed within five blocks of trump tower?

            I’ll start the over/under at 42.

            How many stingrays deployed inside trump tower? My O/U is 13.

      • person1597 says:

        Did he say “xyzzy” and transport into the meeting room? That would raise a question. AdventureGate, eh?


    • Kathryn in MA says:

      Or, Jr. exposed it as a way of defusing the Russian ‘blackmail’ hold on Sr. re the email trail.

  39. PG says:

    I want to make sure I understand your position. Above you noted that this particular fiasco is about campaign finance laws. Yet, you directed me to a link by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen that describes the encounter as bearing “all the hallmarks of a professionally planned, carefully orchestrated intelligence soft pitch designed to gauge receptivity, while leaving room for plausible deniability in case the approach is rejected.”

    So, this leads me to believe that your position is: Trump Jr. stumbled into campaign finance law violation (dragging others in the Trump team with him) AND that the emails and meeting were part of a “carefully orchestrated” Russian plot to cooperate with Trump directly to help him win the election. Do I understand you correctly?

    The former appears very plausible from the emails. The latter, however, is pure speculation. And, Mowatt-Larssen’s characterization of the meeting set up by Rob Goldstone as, “carefully orchestrated,” is (imho) laughable.

    • Rugger9 says:

      As a Cold War vet, this is one of the usual ways for starting a network, noting that the CIA did stuff like this as well.  I’m not sure what is “laughable” here, perhaps you could explain what you mean.

    • bmaz says:

      Plausible as to the first part, yes I hope that would be obvious. Laughable as to the second part, I demur completely. Is it to some degree speculation? Sure. Pure? Not even close.  Every intel and CI professional I am aware of indicates this is exactly the kind and a manner of op that the Kremlin commonly uses, and has used, over the years. Does that “prove” that is what this is? No. But to blithely write that off as not possible under the circumstances is  silly.

      • PG says:

        That the Kremlin initiates contacts via cut outs and plausible deniability isn’t laughable.

        That the Kremlin would use individuals like Rob “the Russian gov wants to help your dad” Goldstone to announce via email their intention to initiate cooperation with a foreign presidential candidate in order to influence an election in his favor, then meet at the candidate’s headquarters with the cast of characters present, is.

        But, perhaps I give them too much credit.  One would think the individuals involved and the avenues of communication established would have been somewhat more sophisticated.

  40. Bay State Librul says:

    This conjecture is just Ditzy so let’s get Fitzy

    Who does Mueller report to and when will he give an update? To argue this matter maybe fun but it all a big fucking guess

  41. harpie says:

    ProPublica‏Verified account @ProPublica 

    This is AP reporter @jonlemire’s tweet from same day Don Jr., Kushner, & Manafort met Russian lawyer.
    They met in the Trump Tower. 
    7:58 PM – 10 Jul 2017
    Jonathan Lemire @JonLemire
    Spotted: Reince Priebus walking into Trump Tower 
    10:53 AM – Jun 9, 2016

  42. orionATL says:

    here’s another name to put in the hat for the next go-round of investigation following don jr’s infamous meeting with a bunch of russians:


    the next investigative step has to be to discover whether the relationship between russians and trumpses was continued and with whom and by what means. obviously, from the initial meeting on, things would have had to be more covert to avoid u. s. counterintelligence. or would they? was u. s. ci asleep, or forbidden from checking on trump and the ruskies?

    • harpie says:

      Dunno…There’s also this:
      Laura Rozen‏ @lrozen  21m21 minutes ago

      don’t understand why don jr lawyer has interest in protecting ID of 8th person in meeting if not bad for his client

      Links to CNN:

      Trump Jr. attorney offers details about 8th person at meeting

       9:19 PM EDT, Mon July 17, 2017

      Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, has told CNN he has spoken by phone to the eighth person in the room during the meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016. […]

  43. orionATL says:


    this story is like a millipede – it has legs, and then more legs, and, then, can you believe it, more legs still.

    i can’t wait until the media squeeze the mystery person’s name out of the lawyers or the whitehouse.


    • harpie says:

      Yeah. I think of millipedes when people say THE other shoe will soon drop…probably a lot more than one! :-)

  44. Rugger9 says:

    I’ll agree with Laura, why protect #8?  If it’s Priebus I would suspect the bus would have run him over already since he’s always been a non-entity with a nice title.  Bannon and/or Jared runs the staff, not Priebus, in a manner that reminds one of GoT (Dailykos had a thread on who would be which character over the weekend).  Since Priebus is hopelessly out of the decision loop and always has been, I can’t see it as him since there is no downside to say he was there relative to Jared,for example.

    But we do have Jared and Paul and “He Who Shall Not Be Named” and I would nominate Sessions (explaining his urge to kill the Prevezon case) or Bannon (Breitbart CDS opportunity).  However what if it was Ivanka?  The name has to be big enough to be worth hiding in the face of loud suspicious speculation.  Not many names fit that bill, not even Eric.

    Ivanka, on the other hand has her brand to protect as well as the reputation at the time and until recently as the “reasonable” Trump. POTUS would go to bat for her for certain to protect his favorite little girl.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I would agree about the waning influence of Jared, but until something concrete happens such as losing the clearance or some of the portfolio, it is merely Kremlinology revisited.  At the end of King Lear there is a sad discussion about the court gossip, that is appropriate here.  However, Jared is still married to his favorite daughter who apparently does have pull with the POTUS.

        Reince is there to sort of manage Congress, but he’s not the last one to talk to POTUS as far as I know on any topic.  I’d be interested to see if there is any policy decision that Reince did get changed on his say-so, which would help this argument along.  I also haven’t seen him reported as being on the TV either.  The O-care repeal/replace failure so far will be assigned to him for blame.

  45. orionATL says:

    the reason for priebus to attend – at that time – was he was head of the republican national committee. his attendance would close the circle of top republican officials concerned to see trump win the presidency.

      • harpie says:

        Ha, Ha!
        I’m having troubling with comment system.

        Sorry to Emptywheel if the other comment posts twice. :-{

    • harpie says:

      Fascinating thread from Adam Jentleson, Former Deputy Chief of Staff, Senator Harry Reid, Senior Strategic Advisor.

      Having spent countless hours listening to McConnell & years working with his office, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on tonight’s news. 1/

      7:28 PM – 17 Jul 2017

  46. Cold N. Holefield says:

    Also, and more importantly, if this meeting was to be used by WHOMEVER as Entrapment (not in the legal sense) with the notion that the details would be leaked when the time was right, then it would have been important to have a GOP Operative in attendance so The GOP could be directly implicated. If so, Priebus makes Perfect Sense.

  47. Rugger9 says:

    Then again, given that Ivanka sat in for POTUS at the G20 and has been in most of her father’s foreign meetings, perhaps SHE was the official representative and not Jared. She also wouldn’t have the USSS detail with her.

    I am well aware of Priebus’ titles and official duties, but he doesn’t have actual power when compared to Bannon and Kushner in Trumpworld where connected loyalty is the true criterion for exercising power.  As head of the RNC he would do everything to avoid this meeting precisely because of the Russian connection, and it makes no sense that he would implicate his party at this point for possible dirt.

    The DNC-Fusion entrapment theory makes no sense at all, since the D’s did report the hacking and Russian meddling and did not use any information from Fusion anywhere.  The DNC also did not know this meeting existed (it would have been in the Wikileaks dumps because Podesta would have been alerted to it). The GOP, however did not report this meeting, the Russian meddling, and McConnell himself prevented the nation from finding out doubtless knowing that the GOP PACs were using the information in several campaigns.  Nice try.

    • John Casper says:

      Rugger9, I would argue that Reince has more “actual” influence than Bannon or Kushner.

      Who more than Reince, so far, has escaped the sh!tstorm that’s covered the White House? Oligarchs do not grant the major pull that Reince has with the MSM, unless they’re getting something back. As CoS, more than anyone else, Reince controls access to Trump.

      If your point is that Reince doesn’t appear very bright and it’s people behind him who pull the strings, I don’t have a problem with that. IMHO, much the same can be said of his pal, the Speaker of the House. IMHO Reince is CoS, because Ryan trusts him to protect his interests. Until I see a series of major hit pieces against Reince in WSJ, NYT’s, WaPo,…., I’m sticking to that.

      Did Reince help Kushner kick Bannon off the NSC?


  48. Cold N. Holefield says:

    To be clear, I am not advocating a DNC-Fusion Entrapment Theory. If the meeting was for Entrapment Purposes (once again, not in the strict legal sense of Entrapment), then it goes well beyond the DNC, although some in the DNC may have been able to read between the lines and have figured it out by now, but you can be sure they’re not saying what it really is because they’re deriving too much political gratuity from how it’s playing out.

    Still, this card is almost played out. It’s time for WHOMEVER to play the next, so I’m expecting something in the next week or two that will make everyone forget this card except Mueller and his Team perhaps.

  49. Rugger9 says:

    #8 according to the WashPost is Ike Kavaladze, who apparently is someone of interest in formation of shell companies but I’m sure is a name unknown even to CSPAN junkies. Putting on the tinfoil hat, however, I do not see how yet another low-visibility Russian would warrant such an exercise in stonewalling as we have seen for the last week. We already knew corrupt Russians were there, so what’s one more (and was Ike the “translator”)? The WH “doth protest too much” for me to accept this as a final answer. I still think it’s Ivanka.

    John Casper makes a good point about Reince’s official powers (say someone like Rummy or Alexander Haig would exert such influence), but I do not agree that the de facto operation matches the org chart. Reince is an experienced enough politician to know that all of this self-inflicted drama does nothing to help the WH agenda, so I would point out that the repeated failure to manage Tweeto Julius indicates Priebus’ ineffectiveness as CoS. Someone else has the true power and it is being contested by the Bannon and Kushner (who is the one I think got Bannon booted from NSC) factions. Pierce pegged him long ago as the “obvious anagram” who will be there to take the fall. In addition, from time to time there are bus rumbles in his general direction.

    • harpie says:

      At CNN , too:

      Washington (CNN)The eighth person who attended the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower is a senior vice president at the company founded by the Russian oligarch who initiated the meeting, CNN has learned. 
      Ike Kaveladze’s identity was confirmed by his attorney, Scott Balber. […]

    • harpie says:

      Also, from last night’s CNN piece [at my 10:09 pm comment]:

      […] The meeting, which took place in Trump Tower in New York City, involved Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, publicist Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and at least two other people, sources familiar with the meeting have told CNN. […] 

      …so, “at least” eight people.

      • Rugger9 says:

        That is why I’m not convinced the Agalarov underling will be the last name reported as being there.  As noted on an earlier thread, the Agalarovs are close to POTUS, not Junior, so it seems very hard to believe that Trump didn’t send a reliable personal rep or two.

        They key problem for me is the effort spent trying to hide all of this.  From the ever-shifting statements all the way to Jay Sekulow trying to blame the Secret Service, the only bigly known names there at this meeting were Jared, Junior and Manafort and those three came out in the first revelation.

        So, who is big enough to need hiding?  Not any of the Russians, because after the first two were out (Natalia and the spy) more of them wouldn’t make the optics worse unless Vlad himself were there, not even Kislyak (who would have been trailed as a matter of routine).  Not the current POTUS because the USSS would have logged it and it would have leaked for sure.  That leaves Bannon and Sessions looking for dirt or Ivanka supervising for Napoleorange in my book.

    • harpie says:

      Sarah Kendzior thread:

      1] Ike Kaveladze, the eighth man at the Trump Jr meeting, was implicated in a Russian money-laundering scheme in 2000 [link] 2] At the time, Kaveladze called investigation of his money laundering “another Russian witch hunt.” Sound familiar? 3] Another article on Kaveladze money-laundering scheme [link] 4] Kaveladze lives in Huntington Beach, where his representative is notorious long-time Kremlin sycophant Dana Rohrabacher 5] One week after meeting, Reps McCarthy + Ryan said on tape that Rohrabacher is paid by Putin; later claimed was joke [link] 6] Among those at meeting: * Russian money-launderer * Russian agent Manafort/* Russian oligarch publicist/* Russian lawyer tied to Kremlin 7] These were the people meeting with Trump’s son and son-in-law in June 2016, when Trump declared “I have nothing to do with Russia!” 

      To which Ryan Goodman responds:

      Ryan Goodman‏Verified account @rgoodlaw  2h2 hours ago

      Ryan Goodman Retweeted Sarah Kendzior

      Hat tip @sarahkendzior for being first on this angle. Coming in minutes @just_security — read some of Kaveladze’s related writings…

      Goodman and John Reed then posted this at Just Security: 

      Kaveladze’s Writings: Called Media Coverage of Major Russian Crime Syndicate an “Ethnic Witch Hunt” [in a September 1999 Op-Ed with Alexei Bayer]

    • harpie says:

      Moderated comment without links:

      Sarah Kendzior [@ SarahKendzior ] thread:

      1] Ike Kaveladze, the eighth man at the Trump Jr meeting, was implicated in a Russian money-laundering scheme in 2000 [link] 2] At the time, Kaveladze called investigation of his money laundering “another Russian witch hunt.” Sound familiar? 3] Another article on Kaveladze money-laundering scheme [link] 4] Kaveladze lives in Huntington Beach, where his representative is notorious long-time Kremlin sycophant Dana Rohrabacher 5] One week after meeting, Reps McCarthy + Ryan said on tape that Rohrabacher is paid by Putin; later claimed was joke [link] 6] Among those at meeting: * Russian money-launderer * Russian agent Manafort/* Russian oligarch publicist/* Russian lawyer tied to Kremlin 7] These were the people meeting with Trump’s son and son-in-law in June 2016, when Trump declared “I have nothing to do with Russia!”

      To which Ryan Goodman responds: Hat tip @sarahkendzior for being first on this angle. Coming in minutes @just_security — read some of Kaveladze’s related writings…
      Goodman and John Reed then posted this at Just Security:
      “Kaveladze’s Writings: Called Media Coverage of Major Russian Crime Syndicate an “Ethnic Witch Hunt” [in a September 1999 Op-Ed with Alexei Bayer]

      • bmaz says:

        Ryan is absolutely superb.

        Here is another interesting read from Michel Paradis of Lawfare on their new feature spot at Foreign Policy. While treason is, and  always has been, a legal impossibility, Paradis analyzes a potential espionage charge. The discussion is pretty compelling, though like the campaign finance violation charge, still need a lot of fill to get anywhere near capable of getting a conviction.

        • harpie says:

          Thanks, bmaz. Plan to read that later. Also, thanks for retweeting the Will Bunch thread!

          1. Today’s reveal of money launderer Ike Kaveladze at Trump Tower 6/9/16 confab brings the loop much closer to the Russian mob […]
          7. Does the name Mogilevich ring a bell? It should. He and his associates have been linked to Donald Trump in the past.

          [PS Please delete the repeated “without links” comment if you want, thanks.]

    • harpie says:

      Laura Rozen retweeted:
      Jeremy Diamond‏Verified account @JDiamond1

      SPOTTED at private 2013 dinner with @realDonaldTrump & Agalarovs: Ike Kaveladze, 8th person at Trump Tower meeting

      Includes photo.

  50. person1597 says:

    Mystery man exposed…we’re told…

    “Ike Kaveladze’s presence was confirmed by Scott Balber, an attorney for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Balber said Kaveladze works for the Agalarovs’ company and attended as their representative.”

  51. Cold N. Holefield says:

    A sure sign Russia has infiltrated The American Deep State disturbingly deep is when Americans Who Know Too Much start dying mysteriously.

    Is Peter Smith the first of many to come? Is Putin Colonizing America as we speak/type? Remember The Putin Doctrine — Russia Protects & Comes To The Aid Of Russians Everywhere. The entire World is The Russian Diaspora.

    If he sends enough Russians to America, and they’re coming in droves if you pull your face & ass out of your Smartphone long enough to have a good look around, by virtue of his Doctrine, he now has an obligation to protect them and come to their aid. I wouldn’t put it by him to manufacture an incident or several incidents against Russians in America so as to serve as pretext for implementation of The Putin Doctrine in America as he’s done in Crimea & Ukraine. At that point, will Trump take his Marching Orders from Putin and start rounding up Dissidents Suspects? Will Trump Supporters and The GOP get on board with it? I think the answer to those two questions are now pretty clear — yes & yes to both.

    But even at that point, The Law and The Lawyers who craft it & preserve it will still argue it’s not Treason. Nazi Germany was a Nation  of Laws and look how well that turned out.

      • Cold N. Holefield says:

        Perhaps you’re right. Maybe there was “NO FOUL PLAY, WHATSOEVER.”

        In the least, I’m happy to have yet another creative way to kill myself. Death by Helium. What will they think of next?

      • Rugger9 says:

        That would assume 1) he had a conscience and 2) a real threat of conviction exists.  Seeing how Jared STILL has his clearance, I’m sure Peter Smith could read the tea leaves and see there was no threat to him on the legal front. However, people Putin does not like keep ending up dead…

  52. orionATL says:


    cnn mustn’t forget the translator, anatoli samorchanav, said to be the best russian/english translator in new york. somebody was willing to spend good money to have top-notch talent at that meeting.

  53. PG says:

    It’s just as likely that the Magnitsky Act was, in fact, the ultimate reason for the meeting. Russian oligarchs, given their history with Trump, would attempt to exert their influence to advance their own interests independent of any Russian state intelligence operations, real or imagined.

    While, as John Casper said, there is little daylight between Russian mobsters/oligarchs and the Russian state, not all Russians seeking to influence US policy (no matter how shady they are) are engaged in “carefully orchestrated” Russian IC plots.  If they had been in this case, they would have orchestrated things a little more carefully.


    • bmaz says:

      Huh. Well I guess you better set all the counter intelligence and Russian experts straight, because they pretty uniformly say this is exactly how the Kremlin often does dangles.

      • PG says:

        Because counter intelligence and Russian experts “pretty uniformly” say that the Kremlin uses cut outs in plausibly deniable circumstances, does it follow that they are certain that’s what happened in this case?

        I wonder what the percentage of certainty among these experts would be if asked directly whether a Kremlin ordered, high-stakes and carefully orchestrated intelligence operation were likely to open with an email that overtly announces their covert intentions?

        Further, given Trump’s history of swimming in murky waters with Russian oligarchs, would there really be a need for such an operation?

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Good questions. There are other things happening. Mueller is on it.


          G(robert mueller ninth person trump tower)

          See anything funny?

          Why is google showing those keywords that have a link to wapo that does NOT say those keywords?

          Passages indeed.

        • John Casper says:

          WRT “Because counter intelligence and Russian experts “pretty uniformly” say that the Kremlin uses cut outs in plausibly deniable circumstances, does it follow that they are certain that’s what happened in this case?”
          I’m no expert, but if you have a link I’d like to see it.

          If counter intelligence leaked something that’s accurate, what you claim about “pretty uniformly,” shouldn’t they be charged?

          IMHO, every one “pretty uniformly” uses cutouts–layers of them–because it works.

          WRT “I wonder what the percentage of certainty among these experts would be if asked directly whether a Kremlin ordered, high-stakes and carefully orchestrated intelligence operation were likely to open with an email that overtly announces their covert intentions?”

          IMHO you answered your own question. That’s the problem with using cutouts. They do what appears to be stuff that’s not consistent with good “spy craft.”

          I’m not saying that’s the case here, but it’s consistent with your proposition–Russia used cutouts.
          WRT “Further, given Trump’s history of swimming in murky waters with Russian oligarchs, would there really be a need for such an operation?” no and this gets back to a larger and perhaps more important point.
          The Russians didn’t need Trump’s campaign’s permission to leak damaging stuff about HRC. Russian government and oligarchs, however, would have been concerned with leaving fingerprints.
          If Trump had a brain, he wouldn’t want to leave fingerprints.
          What’s possible imho is that Russians feared that leaking damaging information about HRC–donations from Russian oligarchs–could lead to similar and more damaging information about Trump–far greater donations from Russian oligarchs.  Something like that would explain the need for coordination with the campaign.
          Everyone in the room had a common interest. Leak damaging information about HRC without leaving fingerprints.
          The deer in the headlights is that no one on Trump’s side said “we gotta call the FBI.” Whether you want them or not, the heading of the first email didn’t leave you a choice. Reasonable people will probably agree that Trump’s campaign would look for other ways to contact those people, but they had to distance themselves from such a sloppy introduction. Why didn’t they? Manafort, who imho is most culpable may have felt pressure to be with Jr. for something good. He knew Jr. would take credit alone, if he wasn’t there. Ditto for Kushner.

          Did the Russians know about the emails?

          Did they not realize how dumb Don Jr. and the rest were? Did Russians think Trump’s campaign wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave that barn door open?

          Were there several Russian cutouts at the meeting, each with different levels of understanding, perhaps auditing each other?

          • PG says:

            John Casper,

            When it comes to Russian lobbyists, oligarchs, and hangers on, everyone is potentially spying on everyone else, no?

            When it comes to Trump Sr., he is the product of NYC real estate development and casino development culture…

            The two worlds mix very comfortably with each other.  Both are expert in evading law enforcement.

            If campaign finance laws were violated, of course Jr. et al should be prosecuted.  But, regarding a Kremlin plot, considering the culture and web of interests that surround Trump, Russian oligarchs and the Russian State, this particular meeting is as likely as not to have been business as usual without Kremlin coordination.

            Focusing on the cloak and dagger “what ifs” overlooks the possibility that the reality is actually banal.  And in many ways, all the more disturbing.

            • John Casper says:


              You wrote, “When it comes to Trump Sr., he is the product of NYC real estate development and casino development culture… The two worlds mix very comfortably with each other. Both are expert in evading law enforcement.”

              Expert huh?

              I wasn’t aware of that. I thought the Philly mob–heavy in Atlantic City–always had jobs as they got out of prison, because their successors were on their way to prison.

              You wrote, “But, regarding a Kremlin plot, considering the culture and web of interests that surround Trump, Russian oligarchs and the Russian State, this particular meeting is as likely as not to have been business as usual without Kremlin coordination.”

              You assert that, but what do you have to back it up?

              “Focusing on the cloak and dagger ‘what ifs’ overlooks the possibility that the reality is actually” what it seems. Russian oligarchs and government were pissed about the Magnitsky Act.

              If you have evidence they weren’t, please share it.

              • PG says:

                It’s actually my point that they were pissed about the Magnitsky Act – as I said above @2:49

                • PG says:

                  Regarding your other questions — perhaps “practiced” would have been a better word than “expert.”  Fair enough.

                  As to the rest of my comment, it’s pure speculation.

                • John Casper says:



                  Doesn’t that make it tougher to separate the Russians in Trump tower from the Russian government and Russian oligarchs?

                  OT, wrt your 8:40pm, does the Kremlin routinely allow Russians to pose as representatives of the Kremlin when they are not?

                  • PG says:

                    To your first question, yes.  But I’ve expressed myself on this topic above so I won’t attempt to again.

                    To your second question, I imagine it depends on the circumstances.

                    • John Casper says:


                      WRT “…your second question, I imagine it depends on the circumstances.”

                      I’ve never heard of the Kremlin ignoring someone pretending to be their representative. Do you have an example?

                      Thanks in advance.

  54. David says:

    Consider this:
    Trump Sr could have been there at the meeting via Manafort’s phone thus having total exclusion of being there. According to Trump Jr initially said that that Kushner left the room soon after the meeting started and Manafort was on his phone during the entire meeting.

    In addition, Trump Jr said it was the height of a very busy campaign but they thought the meeting important enough. I mean why would Manafort go out of his way to be at a very important ‘meeting’ & then spend the whole time on the phone; unless he’s talking to Trump Sr allowing him to listen in.

    Now if the FBI could check phone records of both Trump Sr & Manafort at the time of the meeting, that would be evidence that Trump Sr was complicit with this event without ever being physically present…just a thought.

    • harpie says:

      This possibility immediately stood out to me as well. Also, Trump may have had that room “tapped”.


    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “you are in a little maze of twisty passages, all different”

      Some may recall the Andrew S. Tanenbaum quote:

      “The good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.”

      Here is my twist:

      The good thing about large structures like Trump Tower or Colossal Cave, is that there are so many rooms and so many passageways, that when you have a large gathering, nobody knows how many people were really present.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      BTW, based on your thoughts/questions, I am bumping my Over/Under on number of stingrays inside Trump Tower to 14, up from 13.

    • John Casper says:


      I left some similar speculation in this thread–July 17, 2017 at 6:18 pm–but it had Trump in the room.

      • David says:

        John Casper:
        I posted same idea on WaPo on 7/12/2017 12:27 PM MST ;-)
        “Consider this:
        Trump Sr was there via Manafort’s phone thus having total exclusion of being there. Now if the FBI could check phone records of both Trump Sr and Manafort at the time of the meeting, there would be evidence that Trump Sr was complicit with this event without ever being physically present…just a thought.”
        I mean why go out of your way to be at a ‘meeting’ & then spend the whole time on the phone?
        I even sent the FBI this idea on their online form and asked to see if they might research the phone logs of Manafort & Trump Sr hopefully before Manafort testifies before the Congressional committee which is soon to be scheduled according to reports.
        I’m sure Mueller & team have already considered this bit; after all they’re pros.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          There is the possibility that there are no ‘phone records’ at all. Because it was not a normal phone call. Because the ‘call’ never went thru telco network.

          Think VOIP, Asterisk, WIFI.

          But based on various Trump properties crap WIFI security, this scenario low on list. Then again, maybe that happened.

          But equivalent ‘bugging/listening in’ can be done with just WIFI. Also results in no ‘phone records’.

          That scenario is more plausible.

          Being ‘on the phone’ may be cover.

          Maybe FBI has it all anyway because it was a ‘call’, but went thru a stingray.

  55. person1597 says:

    Good thinking… And it boils down to the folder of documents as to where this leads. The story of non-significance is fraying.

    Nobody is claiming to have preserved the documents. If they were useful to the campaign then they are inculpating. If they were phony then hiding them from discovery would be pointless.

    Destroying them would be problematic in any case.

  56. orionATL says:

    here is a wapo article identifying an eighth person at the june, 2016 meeting:


    note that as is often the case where trump and his russian associates are concerned, there is the sweet smell of freshly laundered money hanging in the air – $1.4 billion from all over the world placed in 200+ accounts set up in the u. s. by agerlov’s associate.

  57. Rugger9 says:

    Mueller got another thread to pull.  However, I still don’t see how yet another Russian underling (who allegedly thought he’d be the translator, yeah right) would warrant the response we saw from the WH.  Given how lazy the POTUS really is, combined with his perfectly documented willingness to let the minnows get gobbled up I do not see how Ike rated a week-long stonewalling operation.  Maybe Mueller will come up with something big enough on this guy but my spidey-sense tells me there is another shoe to drop here.

  58. orionATL says:

    another story on #8:


    the huff post includes this very interesting info:

    “… According to a public records search, Kaveladze, whose full name is Irakly Kaveladze, was born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia in 1965, immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 and now lives in California. 

    Kaveladze has worked for Crocus Group, the Agalarovs’ company, since 2004. According to his several personal websites, his duties have included negotiating with Chinese and other international contractors, the construction of the Far Eastern Federal University in Russia, and developing “a chain of Russian do-it-yourself home improvement superstores known as Tvoy Dom,” which he described as “similar to Home Depot or Lowe’s” in the U.S…. ”

    so the first question is – how come a guy who works for a russian firm on projects in russia and elsewhere outside the u. s. needs to live in the u. s. to get his work done? of what benefit is his living in the u. s. to whom?

  59. orionATL says:



    or, uh, perhaps rounding up “investment capital” (russian style) for the project.

  60. PG says:

    John Casper@10:47

    I assume you’re referring to Goldstone’s email pitches to Jr. in which he refers to “The Crown Prosecutor of Russia” and to the “Russian government lawyer?”  These were Goldstone’s terms.  As you know, there’s no Crown Prosecutor of Russia and Veselnitskaya is not a government lawyer.  Did she portray herself as one?

    In any case, permission from the Kremlin is not relevant if they were acting independently.

    If they had been successful in their efforts regarding the Magnitsky Act, I imagine the Kremlin would have been pleased.  Unfortunately for all involved, it was a fiasco.


    • bmaz says:

      She was formerly a prosecutor before going into private practice and is believed to be closely connected to Chaika, who is is the attorney general equivalent for Russia and very close to Putin. He is what would be the “Crown Prosecutor” where Goldstone is from, the UK. Goldstone using that terminology would be no different than somebody from the US describing Chaika as the Attorney General of Russia.

      • PG says:


        I’m aware of the cast of characters :)  I was trying to understand John Casper’s question in which he alludes to someone misrepresenting themselves.


    • David says:

      Breaking news:

      Trump Jr and Manafort to testify Wed July 26 on a public session in front of a Senate committee under oath.

  61. orionATL says:

    from a harpie comment july 20@+-9am:


    unusual dismissal of staffer from a congressional committee. ostensibly, has to do somewhat with magnitsky material congressional staffer picked up while visiting russia.

    remember, russia can exercise influence at any point in the “completely specified” american political system, i. e., a system that can easily be gamed at many points, like congressional seats, by domestic or foreign actors.7

    be sure and read the highlighted artivle insixe this artivle. tusdian prosecutor

Comments are closed.