Open Thread: All in the Families?

This is an open thread dedicated to this morning’s news. By now many of  you have heard that Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer at mega-lawfirm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, was charged today by Team Mueller for making false statements while answering questions about his work for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice in its case against Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The “materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” arose from questions about interactions related to Paul Manafort’s partner Rick Gates and “Person A.”

[insert blogger’s laugh] Gee, I wonder who Person A could be? *

You can read the short and sweet court filing here (pdf).

These folks from Team Mueller signed the filing: Andrew Weissman, Greg Andres, Kyle Feeny, Brian Richardson. Add them and this assignment to Marcy’s bingo card

Richardson is a new name, which Marcy noted, already wondering if he is Mystery Prosecutor 17? She’ll probably elaborate in a separate post.

For a little background on Skadden Arps’ relationship to Ukraine, see this this NYT piece from September 21 last year: Skadden, Big New York Law Firm, Faces Questions on Work With Manafort

There was related legal news last autumn — emphasis on related.

Alfa Bank co-owners German Khan, Mikhail Fridman, and Peter Aven filed suit last October against Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson claiming the Steele dossier was defamatory. Their reputations were “gravely” damaged as the dossier indicated they were engaged in criminal activity with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

Khan just happens to be van der Zwaan’s father-in-law. It’s a small world, yes?

It’ll be amusing if the Mueller-led investigation ends up unintentionally corralling multiple families.

* EDIT — 1:30 pm EST — I meant to add that  Andrea Manafort Shand, Paul Manafort’s daughter, was an associate at Skadden Arps-Washington DC office. I haven’t seen anything to suggest she’s involved in any way with today’s charges or that she’s Person A but stranger things have happened. Like the leaking of hacked text messages between Manafort’s daughters which have not been disavowed.

– – – – –

In case you missed it this morning, Marcy was on Democracy Now this morning, talking about the Mueller probe and the IRA indictment last Friday.

A transcript isn’t up as I type this but the video and audio are up on the main site under the Daily Show at the right side of Democracy Now’s homepage. I’ll add a link to the transcript as it becomes available.

Have at it!


127 replies
    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Tick, tock.  One of the sisters to whom daddy gave a million?  Who exchanged digital messages with her sister that they shouldn’t fool themselves, that this was “blood money”?

  1. Trip says:

    What is Brian Richardson’s law specialty/focus?  There are a few attorneys by that name.

    Also, I posted this elsewhere on this site, but thought it should be mentioned in light of all the cooperating witnesses:

    Manafort Lawyers Accidentally Included Apparent Internal Memo About the Press in Latest Court Filing
    …the Manafort team seems to be trying to figure out (or at least document) who was giving information to the Associated Press about Manafort’s finances. The notes also suggest that federal investigators might have had an informant (CS-1) inside Manafort’s company who was turning over information. In legal speak, usually when the feds denote “CS-1” they are talking about a “confidential source” that they are using in a case.

    Again, I wonder whether this was a mistake or a signal to someone. Are they talking about Person A ? Was Gates cooperating longer than assumed?  Maybe that’s the basis of the brouhaha with his ex-defense team?   bmaz, where are you?

    Also, Tony Podesta is peripherally wrapped up in this, isn’t he?

  2. harpie says:

    Rick Petree to Amy Suskind:

    FWIW, the Skadden ‘report’ on Tymoshenko’s prosecution and jailing (designed to whitewash Manafort client Pres. Viktor Yanokovych) was completed in 2012. Van der Zwaan married Eva Khan last year (2017).+ / Also, Manafort’s daughter was a Skadden Associate when Manafort engaged Skadden to produce the ‘independent report’ clearing Yanokovych of railroading Tymoshenko.

    [Suskind had remarked: “Interesting that Alex Van Der Zwaan’s father-in-law is the Russian oligarch in charge of state-run Alfa Bank. The Weekly List is full of Alfa Bank, including the bank pinging Trump Org servers during the 2016 election.”]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Usually, a relationship precedes marriage.  The story of when and how that relationship came to be might be relevant to the larger Manafort/Trump story.  The cat’s cradle is becoming more intricate.

    • harpie says:

      David Wright:

      Update: In a statement, the Skadden law firm says it “terminated its employment of Alex van der Zwaan in 2017 and has been cooperating with authorities in connection with this matter.” (via @kpolantz)

      Kate Polantz:

      Alex Van Der Zwaan appears to have been negotiating his plea since late January. CNN spotted attorneys from the law firm Cooley who are now repping Van Der Zwaan in court on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6


        • Rayne says:

          I’m trying not to facepalm. I’ll try to explain the narrative as I see it.

          There are two guys A and B; both have done some illegal things — some known, some suspected but as yet unproven. They’re both charged with the known crimes, but they’re dicking the government around because they don’t want to get busted for worse, don’t want to lose more assets, don’t want to rat out others.

          B doesn’t have enough money to continue the dicking round indefinitely; he’s got kids, too. So B gives in and spills the beans on what B & A were doing. The government has enough information from these spilled beans that the information they have from party C indicates C was lying to the government, and gee, there might be more dirt on A. So they charge C, mention off the cuff that A was involved and the government knows just how involved because they know about very specific conversation in which family was discussed ~hint-hint~.

          If A wises up — and he’s already had his known assets seized, and he’s been caught lying about other assets — he’ll spill his own beans about party D (and E, and F, so on) or risk getting hammered for another conspiracy and obstruction charge.

          Somebody else correct me if I messed this up. Some day this is going to make a hell of a premium cable series.

          EDIT — 3:55 pm EST — Well crap. Now I’m hearing Person A is someone in Ukraine. I still think this is pressure on Manafort because he’s the key person in the Ukraine business, more so than Gates. Did they include Person A along with the mention of the very specific conversation to pressure Manafort?

          EDIT — 4:00 pm EST — Here, got my hands on a link. Person A = Konstatin Kilimnik. Another court filing this afternoon. Busy day.

          • Willis Warren says:

            Face Palm away, but I was writing under the assumption that person A was Manafort’s daughter, which has been widely assumed.  Sorry, I wasn’t clear on that.  All of that seems moot, if there’s some other actor involved.

            • Trip says:

              “Family” sounds a little Soprano-like here.  Konstatin Kilimnik was the dude Manafort talked to get “whole” allegedly with Deripaska.


              On July 29, a week after Trump accepted the Republican nomination, Manafort received another email from Kilimnik, this one with the subject line “Black Caviar.” “I met today with the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” Kilimnik wrote. “We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you. He asked me to go and brief you on our conversation. I said I have to run it by you first, but in principle I am prepared to do it, provided that he buys me a ticket. It has to do about the future of his country, and is quite interesting. So, if you are not absolutely against the concept, please let me know which dates/places will work, even next week, and I could come and see you.”


            • Rayne says:

              There is still a squeeze on Manafort, new player or no. He is still not cooperating, as shown by the discovery he didn’t report all or clean/non-fraudulent assets.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I agree with Rayne.  Just routine, even though the MSM is agog over this.  Catch the little guy doing something illegal and which benefited a bigger guy.  Squeeze.  Flip.  Catch the bigger guy doing something illegal that implicates a yet bigger fish.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  What is unusual are the stakes, potentially they include the presidency.

      Manafort’s children needn’t enter into this, unless they knowingly aided daddy in committing illegal acts.  His daughters sound aware and accomplished, but I’ve seen nothing that implicates them directly.  If the money daddy gave them can be traced to illegal activity, they might have to give it up.  That’s one of the items to be negotiated in any plea deal.

      Mueller, though, has a basic problem.  Manafort’s clients for decades have been the worst of the world’s worst.  He is likely to be more afraid of them than he is of Mueller.  Any one of them – implicated or not in Mueller’s probe – might be concerned about secrets Manafort could spill.  Such actors are not known to protect themselves with restraint.  Some do so in the manner that the current Philippine government uses with drug dealers and users.

      That also presents a possible out for Manafort. If he has a lot of stuff on a lot of the world’s bad people, he might exchange that for considerable leniency. Manafort has to assess the risks that he and his family would live long enough to enjoy it.

  3. cfost says:

    It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And it is beginning to look like the members of this extended family all have petroleum coursing in their veins.

    Tillerson: Exxon: oil. Imagine all the geopolitical contacts and interactions of an organization like Exxon. Imagine all the industries dependent on the Internal Combustion Engine/Natural Gas Fired/Coal Burning model of organizing the economies and the cities around the world. Not only do Tillerson and Trump fit hand-in-glove, but many large vested interests are cheering them on from the shadows.

    Saudi Arabia: Recent shake-up of the royal power structure: oil. What was it that Trump said about this development, “we got our guy in there?” This is a very oil-dependent nation.

    Putin: Russia: oil. Where would Russia’s economy be without oil? And any Russian naval vessel launched from the Black Sea is dependent on Russia’s relations with and/or control of Ukraine, Turkey and Morocco/Spain.

    Page: oil. Papadopulous: oil. Syria: oil. Pruitt: oil, and an oversized security detail.

    My guess is that the old guard oil interests are desperately trying to stave off the coming technology that threatens to make oil irrelevant. How’s that for following the money? In this scenario, Trump and his retinue are just pawns.

    • Rayne says:

      I think we’re in agreement about fossil fuels though it’s not the sole driving force. For a few of these characters it’s all about the money, for at least one it’s also about personal brand (which is now synonymous with a massive dumpster fire). Welcome to emptywheel.

      • Peterr says:

        From Bloomberg’s 5 year graph of NYMEX prices for WTI crude:

        9/6/2013: $110/barrel

        2/20/2018: $62/barrel

        If you dumped a bunch of rubles into drilling new wells in 2012, you could be in trouble getting the money to cover that expense.

        If you dumped a bunch of money into building new buildings in 2012, you could be in trouble if you anticipated you’d have oil money to cover the bills.

        Anyone whose wealth is dependent on pumping and selling oil has to have spent the last five years a bit worried about where their next boat/dacha/condo/loan payment is coming from.

        • Rayne says:

          Look at the chart more closely — I don’t even have to look myself, having done so many times in the last three years. Look at the dates related to the P5+1 agreement with Iran and find them on the chart.

          Boom. Boom. Boom.

          Somebodies lost about a trillion dollars after that point. Somebodies’ fracking (verb, not a modifier) break-even point is $65/bbl; the only way to keep costs at break-even was to move from trucks to pipelines for distribution. They knew how+where they were going to get the money back. They are just beginning the recoupment.

          The 2014 sanctions on Russia also fed the drop in price but not as dramatically as the P5+1 agreement.

          (Of course the other big crash in oil prices happened when legislation requiring an increase in collateral from 10% to 30% for margin trades was enacted. I don’t know in hindsight if the demand for more cash up front didn’t exacerbate the 2008 crash by placing more demand on liquidity when so many investments were over leveraged.)

          • Peterr says:

            But there’s also a general negative slope to that chart, apart from the boom boom boom shocks. Fuel economy for all personal vehicles sold in the US (and likely elsewhere) has been increasing steadily, which has to take a bite out of demand for gas/diesel and thus crude.

            • Rayne says:

              Remember GM’s buyback program? There was pent-up demand for new cars which didn’t get filled until after the 2014 price slide freeing up disposable income. Oh, and the $4/gal gas pre-July 2008 — what cars were selling were hybrids.

              Now if automakers here will just catch up to China on electric vehicles…

  4. pdaly says:

    It states van der Zwaan surreptitiously recorded the calls (which sounds like another illegality),  but that is just tossed out as a seeming detail in the court filing and not highlighted as an offense?

    • Rayne says:

      I’m puzzled by that; does whatever Team Mueller have indicate they know vdZwaan made the recording and deleted it, suggesting a deliberate effort to destroy evidence? Not so much that he recorded something illegally but that he didn’t comply with Team Mueller’s request? ~scratching my head~ Did Gates know what vdZwaan did/didn’t do? Or did servers provide evidence? ~shrug~

      • pdaly says:

        Glad to learn it is not illegal in this scenario. Now I assume the tapes can be entered into evidence (or, if the tapes were destroyed but vdZwaan admitted to making them, this strikes fear into Gates and Person A to tell the wholer truth unless they know copies of the tapes do not exist).

        • Rayne says:

          My guess is this is a cellphone recording, not tapes. Easy to do surreptitiously. Did Gates know vdZwaan was recording and told Team Mueller during his Queen for a Day interview?

      • Peterr says:

        Total WAG here . . . Imagine a series of emails:

        AvdZ: I’d like you to do me a favor . . .

        Gates: I’d rather not.

        AvdZ: I have this recording, though, which may convince you otherwise. Do you remember when you said . . . ?

        Gates: When you put it that way, I’d be happy to help.

        Then when Gates gets pulled in (or AvdZ gets nervous), AvdZ deletes his recording and emails and denies having them, but when Mueller reads the emails from AvdZ on Gates’ device, the jig is up.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The recording was not necessarily illegal.  In some states, only one party to a phone call needs to consent to its recording.

      • Avattoir says:

        Also, consent vitiates illegality.

        Lots of folks, mostly on the phone, have asked if it’s alright with me if they record our talking. I won’t agree in confidential settings, but attorneys should already be on guard about simultaneous recording in talking with 3p reps, potential witnesses, even some opposing attorneys anyway, so typically I have no problem with agreeing.

        Way back when I started lecturing, some students and even audience members would ask if I objected; my own default has been, Go ahead.  I have a colorful memory of one case when my agreeing to it proved financially worthwhile for a client’s interests (sure there have been others).

        I’m not making some arcane observation; my first response to reading about that in the charge info sheet is that it would be entirely mundane if those had been recorded with consent.

    • bmaz says:

      Why assume any recording would be illegal? DC and NY are both one party consent jurisdictions, and personal recording is not illegal in the UK.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A lot of facts about van der Zwaan still sketchy. Per published reports, he is Dutch, speaks Russian, and worked for Skadden’s London office in 2012. Left Skadden (“terminated” per reports in 2017) after at least five years. One of eight Skadden attorneys who worked in 2012 on the Manafort requested whitewash of his Ukrainian client, which implies that cost was not an object.

    Communicated with Gates and Person A, assumed to be Manafort, in 2016, shortly after Manafort left the Trump campaign. At least some of those calls were recorded by van der Zwaan. (Within days after Manafort left the Trump campaign in 2016, accounts owned by shell companies controlled by him reportedly received some $13 million in wire transfers.)

    In 2017, van der Zwaan married the daughter of a Russian oligarch, part owner of Alfa Bank and No. 11 on the list of wealthiest Russians, worth some $10 billion.

    Van der Zwaan allegedly had contacts with Gates and Person A during the production of the 2012 report. The reporting implies that the communication was outside normal channels, which would mean it was not known to the Skadden partner in charge of the project. If so, most firms would consider that a no, no.

    If that communication took place, the question is was it a routine way to manage communications or was it off-the-books. If the latter, one possibility is that van der Zwaan helped keep Manafort abreast of the language in the report and helped tweak it in favor of Manafort’s client. That’s a supposition. The communication could have been ambitious client management and zealously responding to a client’s wishes. In any case, a Skadden partner would ordinarily have signed off on the final. But something was amiss in that van der Zwaan felt compelled to lie to the FBI in November 2017 about his communications with Gates and Person A. Van der Zwaan was a seasoned lawyer by then. He may not be much longer.

  6. SteveB says:

    The detail regarding the recording of the calls by vander Zwaan helps establish that the calls in question were memorialised thus the failure to recall them was a deliberate omission.

    The substance of the matters discussed was clearly of some moment and nefarious.

    That FBI knew of calls and that they were recorded suggests that they were the subject of FBI surveillance and analysis.

    Who is law firm A: if it is Skadden then there would not seem to be any reason to anonymise them, which suggests that it is some other law firm, engaged in a process of discovery within litigation perhaps?

    • pdaly says:

      Good point about the surreptitious recording (unbeknownst to Gates and Person A, I assume, but what about ‘unbeknownst to the law firm’ he was working for?) signaling he was memorializing a conversation so the failure to recall is a red flag.

      Good pick up on “firm A”.
      Agree, it doesn’t seem like it would be Skadden.
      However, where is lawyer/client privilege in this? Are these law firm documents normally discoverable in court cases? Or does it imply der vander Zwaan, in this scenario, did not have this lawyer/client privilege for some reason?

        • pdaly says:

          I would assume von der Zwann would claim attorney client privilege in any case.

          But my question was based on the impression that Law Firm A (Skadden) was subject to a document request and had to provide it–thus Mueller’s team being able come back to Skadden/von der Zwann and say where is the email responsive to our request for emails? Somehow I assumed law firms were more protected than the average work place from demands for documents.

          • Rayne says:

            IIRC (and IANAL) attorney-client privilege must be claimed by the client. vdZwaan wouldn’t be the client. I’m also not certain the client could claim this if the client, attorney, and work performed were all overseas; if UK law applied, client has a narrower definition than in the U.S.

            And if the communications were related to the commission of a crime, I don’t think legal professional privilege applies at all. Maybe bmaz will weigh in here being the attorney of the lot of us.

            Also makes me wonder if GCHQ had been asked for assistance with the case. This is a totally different kettle of fish than we’re used to. UK also passed the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 late that year (also fondly known as the Snoopers’ Charter). The amount of surveillance of internet connections the UK permitted was breathtaking — past tense, you’ll note, as the Act was declared unlawful only 2-3 weeks ago. (Convenient, that…)

              • Rayne says:

                Yeah. I don’t know what’s happening in the transition after the Act was found unlawful — is there an ongoing siphon while an appeal is processed — but using a VPN from inside the UK to surf is rather important. I wonder if these mooks forgot about the Snoopers? LOL

  7. Trip says:

    This is astonishing, really. “They amounted to only tens of millions of dollars”.

    Manafort Under Scrutiny For $40 Million In “Suspicious” Transactions
    In the summer of 2014, an FBI special agent questioned Manafort at his attorney’s office in Washington, DC. Manafort denied knowing anything about money reportedly stolen by the Yanukovych government, according to internal FBI emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News, and promised to turn over documents to the Bureau. He never did, according to the two officials.
    “We had him in 2014,” one of the former officials said. “In hindsight, we could have nailed him then.”
    The FBI’s top brass, both of the former officials said, deemed Manafort’s suspected financial crimes as too petty: They amounted to only tens of millions of dollars — small potatoes compared to what Manafort’s boss, Yanukovych, was suspected of stealing.

  8. harpie says:

    Marcy just retweeted:

    Dan Friedman‏ @dfriedman33 18m18 minutes ago
    Person A in this case seems to be Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s longtime Ukrainian business associate, per Andrew Weissman’s statements in federal court this afternoon. / Van der Zwaan communicated with Kilimnik via an encryption program and, according to prosecutors, shared details of Skadden’s supposedly independent report with him without the permission of the senior partner overseeing the work. That would be former Obama WH counsel Greg Craig. / Weissman made clear in court that “Person A” is not Manafort and that’s it’s a person who worked with Gates who lives primarily in Ukraine.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It would be useful first to establish that Manafort needed Skadden’s permission to review a draft report with his business partner.

      This information again raises the question of what was van der Zwaan, when at Skadden in 2012 and working on the Ukraine whitewash, telling Gates and Manafort, possibly without his managing partner’s awareness or permission.  That would be a problem for van der Zwaan.

    • harpie says:

      OK, Greg Craig was mentioned in this 2/26/2014 NYT article [emphasis added]: Prize Catch for Ukrainians at Boat Harbor: A Soggy Trove of Government Secrets

      Among the more curious documents to turn up here was a letter translated into Russian from Gregory B. Craig, President Obama’s former White House counsel and a lawyer at Skadden working on the report on the Tymoshenko case, to Paul J. Manafort, a Republican political operative who had advised Mr. Yanukovych going back to 2007. It was found in a box of papers in the sauna. In the letter dated Aug. 24, 2012, Mr. Craig was asking for Mr. Manafort’s assistance in obtaining from the Ukrainian government documents for the report Skadden was preparing on the prosecution of Ms. Tymoshenko. The report concluded that the prosecution was procedurally flawed but not politically motivated, as it is widely believed to have been. […] The papers in the sauna, for example, included an early draft of Skadden’s report that had been annotated by Ukrainian government officials, who appeared to be pushing the Americans for a more sympathetic interpretation of the case; careful study is needed to determine how much the law firm yielded to these demands in the final report, said Mustafa Nayiem, an investigative journalist with the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.
      In a statement issued Wednesday, Skadden said that the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice had retained its lawyers and that “Skadden agreed to write this report on the express condition that the law firm would be totally independent.”

      • Rayne says:

        Jesus. What a furball. I have to wonder if this report was some covert deal to appease Putin about Yanukovych’s rushed exit (read: ran leaving a vapor trail behind him) from Ukraine after the Maidan Square revolt Putin blamed on U.S. (read: SecState Clinton’s) interference. Why would Yanukovych have had this documentation? Or was the sauna paperwork a plant?

        Noting the mention of coal in that NYT piece — Ukraine’s coal production is closest to Donbass, which is the part under pro-Russian separatist control now. Ahem.

        Thanks for the link!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      He was there in 2012.  Was he still at Skadden’s London office in 2016 when he apparently recorded his calls with Gates, et al.

      • harpie says:

        “HIS” lawfirm:

        4. […] your client will not be further prosecuted criminally by this Office for […] any destruction, deletion, and withholding of documents and evidence in connection with requests by this Office or his law firm. […]

    • pdaly says:

      Thanks, Harpie.

      So these documents make it clearer that Law Firm A is likely his now former firm Skadden.

      And van der Zwaan’s  lies include the false timeline of ending his interactions with Gates in Aug 2016 and ending his interactions with Person A (Kilimnik?) in 2014.

      The  new, truthful timeline extends van der Zwaan’s interactions with them both to at least Sept 2016: phone, email and encrypted programs.
      The September 12, 2016 email interaction van der Zwaan had with Person A was written in Russian.
      Van der Zwaan deleted that email and pretended to not know (in November 2017) why Skadden had not produced it for Mueller’s team.

      So what happened after August 2016 that van der Zwaan had tried so hard to play ignorant to?
      And why only admit to interactions with Person A up to 2014 and not beyond?

      I assume it is the US Presidential Election, but I don’t see the connection yet.
      I’ll wait for the experts here to fill in the likely meanings of this.


      • Avattoir says:

        Tracking Team Mueller communicating almost entirely in court filings has me thinking of the late Iain Banks’ Culture novels, with “minds” communicating their ginormous computer brain views on the plot developments & situations in his Culture novels.

        So now I want Team Mueller to add in the occasional joke.

        Also, I’m tempted to start nick-naming the OSC, not in the manner of Trump’s crude branding his enemies, but more along the lines of the names Banks gave to his mind-operated space ships.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        WAG: Ukranian ‘revolution’ (I have no clue what actually happened).

        But Manafort and Gates’ roles in perpetuating some kind of evil that we don’t yet fully see must be heinous.  I’m of Rayne’s view, that Manafort may be hard to flip, due to the fact that pissing off some of his former paymasters is likely to prove lethal.

        Wikipedia w/ mountain of salt:

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Open Thread, right.  They’re at it again, a Saudi Nuke Deal.  We’ve been there before.  Multiple nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia – one of the richest, most autocratic and religiously conservative regimes on the planet, sitting atop much of the world’s oil and in the middle of its most conflict-ridden region – would not be a good deal for anybody.

    SA has one of the world’s most favorable geographies for solar and wind power.  Their price per megawatt hour is about a third less than for nuclear and dropping.  But SA doesn’t seem interested.  Nuclear!  Now there’s a money sink and potential great power status.  SA’s very instability would ensure its centrality beyond peak oil.

    Nuke plants cost a fortune.  Ask the Brits, who are still building Hinkley Point C, currently the world’s most expensive nuke plant in otherwise unspoilt North Somerset (barring summer traffic jams and the odd GCHQ antennae array not far away).  They all depend on massive government subsidies.  The industry, its financing and insurance would not exist without them.

    They involve massive technology transfers and enduring levels of expensive training and support.  They require massive levels of security – staff security clearance processes, operations, fuel processing, digital and physical security – and enduring service and support networks.  Undoubtedly, substantial military assistance and infrastructure building projects would accompany construction of such plants.  That support creates enduring networks, with great potential for control and profit.  Resilience, sustainability, scalability?  Not much.

    Did I mention instability?  Oil fields burn and pollute.  As Fukushima bears witness, when nuclear plants fail, they kill and pollute, pollute and kill, and create extensive dead zones.

    SA wants to join the club, to be a player – as if it weren’t one already.  It has gobs of money and wants to diversify, but solar and wind power aren’t sexy or expensive enough.  They wouldn’t put SA on par with Iran, it’s enemy, a dangerous enough motivation on its own.  Military support would likely be a big component of any deal, because a nuclear SA would become a bigger target for Iran and other state and non-state actors, as might whichever country SA picks as its principal contractor. There’s also the little matter that SA remains a largely closed and rigid society, with few relief valves beyond religious fundamentalism and monarchical largesse.

    The choices are conglomerates based in China, Russia, the US.  Too much money.  Too much opportunity to spend it on military toys and support, and to create new need for them.  Too much opportunity to cement future access to SA’s regime, its oil and its bank accounts.  Too many ways this could make us all go poof.

    • Rayne says:

      They can work with Israel if they really want nuke power. They don’t need us. I suspect somebody decided there was money to be made so they inserted us into the equation. Then Israel can keep an eye on them.

  10. pdaly says:

    And what is the difference between a plea agreement and a cooperation agreement?
    Does plea agreement suggest van der Zwaan has finished his role here? (that Mueller’s team does not need anything more from him? or that he is not willing to cooperate further?)

    • bmaz says:

      No, not necessarily, just means that he has proffered enough that they are comfortable letting him enter the formal plea. In this guy’s case, however, there is no reference to continued cooperation or activity, so he is likely done.

  11. cfost says:

    If public info is true (a big if):
    German Khan: Ukraine/Russia/Israel citizenship. His boss at Alfa Group (Fridman) is Russia/Israel dual citizen, and no small player in Russia power and money sphere. Shortly after Soviet breakup, Khan took subsidiary Alfa Eco into oil investments, buying TNK. Then he formed a JV with British Petroleum, then they sell the JV to Rosneft. Then the philanthropy and then the bank, which is shocked, SHOCKED, that Steele would have the temerity to sully their good name.
    Khan’s son-in-law, Van der Zwaan (vdz) is a Dutch lawyer based in London who recently married into the family. Why London? Why Khan’s daughter? Any connections between vdz and Dutch intelligence? Because the Dutch were the most successful in Russia troll and hacker monitoring. Why did vdz need/want to record calls and then lie about them? Does the vdz-Manafort/Gates connection explain this, and the deception at vdz ‘s law Firm? How can the Ukraine thread be a coincidence? An awful lot of coincidences in this whole affair….
    Which brings me to Flynn. How and why does a Lt General in the US Army get fired by two sitting presidents? Did he break bad? What, besides money, does his connection to Turkey serve? And why nuclear power plants? Is the Anglo-American power sphere in the Middle East (de facto since before WWII) being threatened by a ego-driven prestige war between UAE and Saudi Arabia, with nuclear as the carrot dangled by the Russians and Chinese? Because there is no rational need for a country like SA to even contemplate nuclear power, given their other options. (Same holds for UAE.) SA has uranium deposits but they need enrichment and refueling technologies. Enter Westinghouse aka Brookfield Asset Management, et al. It’s all very vexing….

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It is odd how the information on a lawyer working for such a big law firm is so sketchy.  According to the charging statement, van Der Zwaan is a “lawyer” in England.  Given his work, I assume that means he qualified as a solicitor.  His name and references about him suggest he is a Dutch national.  A short Guardian article about his marriage last year suggested that he had “Russian roots” and that most of his clients were Russian.  The wedding was described as very high end, not surprising when the father of the bride is reputed to be the 11th richest Russian national.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Van der Zwaan exhibited a Trumpian level of arrogance, until he pleaded guilty to a felony.  It seems likely he’ll lose his qualification to practice as a solicitor.  Living in London is expensive.  I wonder if daddy-in-law will help him find a second career?

  12. Avattoir says:

    Someone above noted something Marcy posted on her twitterfeed. I note she’s recently added an excerpt from an interview of Chen, who a few years back wrote the big piece on the Rus troll farm. In it Chen speaks of, and Fearless Leader here appears to endorse, exercising caution about the efficacy of the troll farm’s produce, given its typical crudity.

    I really doubt that Chen is any better position to diagnose how wingnuts & news illiterates would react to the Rus troll farm’s produce than I am or most anyone who posts here.

    I mean, like everyone I’ve wasted a lot of time watching Fox News, and reading stuff posted by Drudge & posts at the likes of NRO, Hot Air, Mediaite and even at really sketchy sites like Ace of Spades HQ. No one who’s reality-based & literate would buy into that crap, yet tens of millions do, and one of our two national political parties runs its agenda off that quality of thinking.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I suspect that you underestimate the number of (functional) illiterates in the US adult population.  People can be good at lots of things, but have low reading ability.  It’s endemic, but generally not recognized.


    • Rayne says:

      I point to Bob Altemeyer’s work on authoritarian personalities which John Dean relied on for his book, The Conscience of a Liberal. About 20-30% of the population is always authoritarian; they fit the stern father model George Lakoff spoke of in Don’t Think of an Elephant. These authoritarians rely on authority, natch, and they have had +20 years of authority in the form of Fox News and right-wing talk radio telling them what to think and how to react to particular people and circumstances. They don’t question it. When online authorities parallel what their cable+broadcast authorities say, they follow along. Predictably.

      What we don’t know yet — and Chen doesn’t either — is how these bots parroting authoritarian crap were aimed at selected targets. It’s not difficult, not complicated, not expensive, just takes a lot of data across a population to ID the authoritarians. (Hello, SCL/Cambridge Analytica with help from Facebook and a 190 million person voter database out on the darkweb…)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As you elegantly point out, this is about inherent personality traits, not illiteracy or other cultural artifacts.  And what is it good software, a supercomputer and a big database can’t accomplish?  Before those, the GOP could still identify likely voters in some districts on a house by house basis.  Those resources are where today’s minutely gerrymandered districts come from.

        The illegal Russian meddling shines a bright light on the democracy throttling practices we already engage in.  They just pushed harder and added speed to the snowball already tumbling down the hill.

      • greengiant says:

        Add voter suppression efforts and vote flip efforts,  for example,  fakenews of Trump poll watchers to suppress minority votes,  “the emails” to flip. Madison Avenue meet Putin meet “foreign influence not in my country” blowback in progress.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Rayne, I think you meant John Dean’s “Conservatives Without Conscience“, which is among the most enlightening, fascinating books that I’ve read.

          And if  you want to push the envelope of the long-term political implications of authoritarian fathers and children shaped by abusive families, continue on to Max Blumenthal’s “Republic Gomorrah“, for an eye-popping analysis.  (See also: Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, just for starters.)  Both books are ‘Lakoff on steroids’; they powerfully, anecdotally, provide specific examples of the implications of Lakoff’s research for individuals and societies.

          I’ve spent years of my adult life working with illiterates, many of them from abusive families.  If the world is confusing, and you have very low trust of — but fear! — authority, then a simplistic, short, declarative, subject-verb-object structure is appealing.  In this respect, Trump is a skilled communicator: he seldom uses conjunctions,  and he thrives on 140 characters (subject-verb-object).  He’s targeting the sweet spot of a whole part of the population.

          I strongly agree with Rayne and EOH about Cambridge Analytica + the disinformation avalanche that started with a snowball.  Voter suppression and fake news are further manifestations of socially corrosive, manipulative uses of information technologies.

          Oh, to be a fly on Mueller’s wall…!

          • Rayne says:

            Thanks for the correction; I loaned my John Dean books out, couldn’t glance at the shelf to check the title. LOL

            This: “working with illiterates, many of them from abusive families” — I suspect the reason Trump is so good at hitting the sweet spot for these people is that he is one himself in spite of the advantages he had due to wealth. He’s not literate and he’s abusive.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              I’m still not sure what’s up with him… still pondering about his literacy.

              There’s definitely something bizarro with his information (and emotional) processing, but in an earlier comment I suspected dementia.  At this point, I’m confused, as he appears to do better in certain domains than in others.

              I’ve heard several stories (2 degrees of separation) from people who went to school with him.  He is never described as a reader, and other kids found him so incredibly easy to piss off that it became a source of competition among them.   There is a clear theme of  Trump as a vindictive jerk, and pretty unmanageable.  The stories are remarkably similar, which is striking considering that I heard them 55 years after they happened, and at least 3,000 miles away: Trump left an impression, and meanness and abusiveness definitely seem to be themes.

              Also, you’d think that at least someone in the  press would have asked why he kept leaving Wharton every weekend to go back home and ‘work with dad’; classic illiterate cover-up behavior.

              I find his idea that he can ‘tell Mueller’ to stay away from the ‘red lines’ (his finances, Russian collusion) hilarious.  The fact that he appointed Wilbur Mills of Cyprus Bank to his cabinet and then tells Mueller to steer  clear…. O.M.G …  I can’t stop chortling  ;-))))

              However, I think his view of government, probably shaped by years of buying off city hall to get zoning changes, is that he pays lawyers to get what he wants, and its the job of government to bend the rules to his liking.   Typical developer mentality; no respect for civil servants or the idea of collective goods.

              Oh, to be a fly on Mueller’s wall ;-)))))

    • Trip says:

      If you view the Troll Farm in a vacuum, maybe it looks like, and it may be peanuts: a mishmash of butter and jam, sloppily laid on bread. But as we all know, they weren’t bombarding voters alone. We don’t know if they were working in concert with, or simply giving an unsolicited ‘assist’ to Parscale and Cambridge Analytica. From my anecdotal experience, perhaps because I am ‘left-ish’, the primary messaging I witnessed tended to be glowing endorsements of Putin, both as a person and leader. He was projected as ‘angelic’.  All reports of poisonings, beat downs, assassinations, etc., were responded to as “Western Propaganda”. Putin was a savior and the west (the US) was the devil, in ALL circumstances, no nuance permitted.

      But back to the subject of targeting and investment:

      Parscale created highly targeted Facebook advertising, testing each one to see which would receive the most clicks. “We were making hundreds of thousands of them (ads on Facebook) programmatically. … (On an) average day (we would make) 50,000 to 60,000 ads, … changing language, words, colors, changing things because certain people like a green button better than a blue button, some people like the word ‘donate’ over ‘contribute.'”

      And his work, they have admitted, was directed by data points from Cambridge Analytica. CA was supposedly also looking to work with Assange. Whether or not that is accurate, they advanced the division and triggers which emanated from the farm:

      As the Daily Beast reported in late October, last year Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange assistance in the release of 33,000 of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails. (Recently Nix said, “We did not work with Russia in this election, and moreover we would never work with a third-party state actor in another country’s campaign.”)
      Nix then gives an example of those tactics: “The Second Amendment might be a popular issue amongst the electorate,” he said. “For a highly neurotic and conscientious audience, you’re going to need a message that is rational, and fear-based, or emotionally based.” He said, gesturing to his presentation slides, which displayed a photograph of a gloved hand breaking a window above the text, The Second Amendment isn’t just a right. It’s an insurance policy. DEFEND THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. “In this case, the threat of a burglary and the insurance policy of a gun is very persuasive.” (This would appeal to the howling in the gun thread, pathos).

      Targeting specific emotional trigger issues is usually more effective than detailing plans of candidates. In that sense, the Troll Farm got the ball running upfront (and after, to solidify polarization). Then came the blitzkrieg of ads, ad hominem attacks, pathos (from Pascale/CA) coupled with the Wikileaks dump of emails. It’s difficult to know how much exposure (or rather influence) the populace had to the Troll Farm vs. the US contingent and UK (CA data storage), since they seemed to mirror each other, circle jerking tweets and messages back and forth, reinforcing one another. Combined, it was a massive undertaking.


  13. greengiant says:

    Amusing to read off shore and alien comments that the US First Amendment applies to them. Those denied entry or interrogated at a port of entry are not so sanguine. When complaining about crime it is more dangerous to complain about the local thieves for they know where you live. Foreign and cross country thieves are more convenient targets. State law enforcement is a jealously guarded entitlement as the Koch brothers well know. So if a particular state has crooked elections to some extent that is their business. When they go out of state or worse go out of country to bake an election then blowback is more likely.

  14. Winston says:

    prefer not attempting to renavigate your needlessly convoluted syntax. think you meant something other than what you wrote.

    perhaps if you weren’t such a sanctimonious grouch in response to my first post i wouldnt have felt the urge to pick on you.

    • Avattoir says:

      It took me some time to track back here from comments on a later post to find out what the heck you & bmaz were on about.

      The way I see it, you’re snippy at me for implying that a comment you made HERE indicated you as obtuse or a troll (or both?). It sure looks like I did indeed jump to a conclusion, and as we know, snap judgments have a way of being embarrassingly wrong.

      Problem now is – again, I am posting here ‘now’ from the future, where we can all see other comments you’ve posted at this site since those on this thread – I’m having trouble seeing how it might reasonably be said I landed in a wrong place.

      Of course, that still doesn’t excuse flawed process – I did leap, and mean isn’t justified by ending upright.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      One would think that behavior should be replayed over and over and over again as these hardened souls ask the voters for re-appointment as public employees.  NRA money goes nowhere if the voters get religion and turn the other lever.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Poor Jared.  He wants to keep the security clearance that isn’t his.  He has an interim, not a permanent, clearance.  It is a privilege, not a right.  There are rules one must comply with to keep it.  Pshaw.

    Mr. Kushner is moaning about COS Kelly’s crack down on the clearance abuses that, after a year, permit 130 odd staffers in the West Wing to remain on the job with only an interim clearance, 47 of them with access to the president.  That would include Jared and Ivanka, and the recently departed Rob Porter, alleged wife beater.  That’s an unusual situation, suggesting that the president has little regard for national security, process or the law.  (I know, it’s Donald.)

    Gen. Kelly is rightfully responding, in his gently, gently fashion, to the clearance uproar that reared up behind the Rob Porter wife beating allegations.  He’s attempting to calm the natives and impose some sort of order.  In doing so, he specifically exempted Jared and Ivanka from his fix.  “He” has “full confidence” in Jared, as he did in Rob Porter.  What COS Kelly means is that as long as the Don needs his daughter and Jared in the White House, Gen. Kelly will have full confidence in them.

    Debt, greed and sex are the top reasons people violate their commitments.  Jared seems to have more control over his libido than his let it all hang out as long as you grab it father-in-law.  But he does have a money problem.  About a billion dollar one, principally from his family’s investment in the aptly named 666 Fifth Avenue building.  They bought it for about $1.8 billion.  It’s badly underwater.  The Kushners’ credit lines are tapped out.  And despite their political connections to the guy in the White House, they are having trouble refinancing it.

    Many have pointed out that gives Mr. Kushner a troublesome conflict of interest.  It has the appearance of one, the usual standard.  Donald has him doing all sorts of international thingies he can’t be bothered with, such as fixing the Middle East.  It puts him in negotiations with all sorts of people, Jewish billionaires, Arab princes, corporate moguls, who could readily refinance his troubled investment.  Elsewhere, that’s the sort of conflict that brings down governments.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      According to Hirschfeld Davis and Haberman:

      Mr. Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access….

      Of course Gen. Kelly is targeting Jared Kushner “personally”.  As he should, along with anyone else who reads the president’s daily brief, who attends whatever White House meetings he wants to or the president can’t be bothered to attend, and who travels at government expense across the globe.  Anyone who does that on an interim clearance that is not going to become permanent ought to be watched, or ejected from the building.

      Hundred millionaires ambling down Fifth Avenue wearing I am a Victim sandwich boards are a dime a dozen.  Louise Linton can do it in stiletto heels.  Get ready for a Faux Noise extravaganza about why, under a GOP president, the security clearance process is deeply flawed and how complying with it should not hinder our Dear Leader in having whomever he wants advise and help him to Make America Great Again ™.

  16. David Sanger says:

    Dan Friedman’s Mother Jones article has this gem, hinting at Mueller’s concern with payments to Manafort.

    Weissmann said in court that Van Der Zwaan secretly recorded a follow up conversation in which Person A said the “payments [to Skadden] that were public” were the tip of the iceberg.

    If the publicly revealed payment was $1.1m and some was returned later, how much cash actually did change hands?

    Also this quote is from the court hearing. Does anyone know where to find transcripts of the court appearances?

    • Rayne says:

      Ooh, good stuff…Skadden will be very motivated to cooperate if it looks like they’ve found themselves in a mail fraud case. I remember reading they returned ~$500M; I’ll have to hunt that source down.

    • earlofhuntindon says:

      Yes, good summary by Dan Friedman at MJ.  According to his reporting, Skadden initially agreed to do the report for $12,000.  That’s an usually low figure, a tenth of what I would have guessed for an initial payment, a hundredth of what Skadden “publicly” was paid in the end.  Conveniently, the $12,000 amount was just below the threshold that would have required the Ukrainian govt party obtaining the work to put it out for open bid.

      Skadden clearly was not planning to do the work for that amount.  It’s probably less than three hours work for the eight high-priced attorneys that Skadden assigned to the project.  It wouldn’t have paid out-of-pocket expenses for two of them to visit the Ukraine.

      Skadden might have exposure here.  There are Ukrainian state contracting rules.  If the billing and payment arrangements constituted some sort of fraud, that might be a civil or criminal problem in England and the Ukraine.  There might problems with mail or electronic payments fraud and banking laws, and rules that require solicitors to know the source of their clients’ funds.  As one Law Society website put it, “Compliance with money laundering obligations is one of the greatest challenges for solicitors in the UK today.”

      All that assumes there aren’t more monsters under the bed, such as further payments, in kind, mislabeled or under the table.  Ninety percent of an iceberg is below the surface.

      • Rayne says:

        Nuts. Now I really have to hunt down that piece which said Skadden gave back ~$500K (equivalent to 1/2 paid) because I think it also said the amount paid was a retainer for future work, not for the report itself. Did Skadden and client anticipate litigation arising from the report, requiring further legal work?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Here is the link to the NYT story from yesterday.  Others have slightly different facts, which seems curious about such a major law firm, top ranked lawyer and major story.

          It covers the initial $12,000 payment, and the return of “$567,000”.  “The firm said the refund represented ‘the balance of Ukraine’s payment, which had been held in escrow for future work.’”  [It would be interesting to see exactly how Skadden booked the original receipt of funds and whether that’s consistent with this description.]

          This Times story does not cover how much Skadden was paid in total; it only refers to the amount refunded.  A studied avoidance I would say.

          Another fact is that van der Zwaan is a 2006 law graduate of King’s College London, among the UK’s top law schools.  He would have been a top graduate or had a lot of juice to be hired by Skadden.  It says he speaks Dutch, English, French and Russian, an uncommon grouping.  Dutch and English is common, as is French and Russian, and Dutch, English and French (common among professionals in Belgium), but not the four together.  I wonder why he had those four.

          Van der Zwaan would be a solicitor, a member of the Law Society in England and Wales, qualified to practice there.  He would normally have qualified in 2009, after a mandatory year of “law college” (studying rules governing the practice of law and handling of client funds), and a two year clerkship (apprenticeship).

          He would have had three years post-qualification experience (PQE) when he worked on the Ukrain project, making him a beginning mid-level associate.  If he was still at Skadden until 2017, he would have had a good chance of making partner.  He must have been quite good or been responsible for well-paying clients.

          Now, he’s unlikely to keep his license to practice.  Not to worry.  John Dean did well as an investment banker after he got out of the nick.  I wonder if he’ll petition to serve his sentence in an English gaol.

  17. harpie says:

    From the Southern Poverty Law Center:
    Nick MartinVerified account @nickmartin NEWS: Today, for the first time, the @splcenter is adding male supremacy organizations to our hate group list.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump was on shutdown, a kind of self-preserving shock.  He didn’t hear what was said.  If he heard it, he didn’t understand it.  What he understood, he didn’t agree with.  And the arch-reactionary staff inside his White House disagreed with all of it.

      Their response is straight NRA: more guns is always the best answer, in schools, shopping malls, sidewalks, office buildings, sports stadiums.  It’s the same head-in-sand response bankers and other failed capitalists insist is that the way to fix market problems – which they deny exist – is more markets, less regulation, forever and ever.  Amen.

      Expecting Donald Trump to respond positively to this is to expect an addict to go cold turkey because Nancy Reagan believes Just Say No is the cure.  It is the same approach fundamentalist stick to when they say that abstinence only sex education will stop teen pregnancies.  Or tax “reformers” who insist on the validity of the abundantly discredited trickle down theory.  The technique is everywhere – even corporations in bankruptcy insist that the only way for them to manage their way out of bankruptcy is to keep and pay more to the executives that managed their way into bankruptcy.  It is an excuse to do nothing, to allow the status quo to remain, because the harm falls on the little people.

      It’s an important exercise.  If nothing else, it helps people understand that this is what Trump is and this is what his GOP is.  And Mike Pence would be no better.  It is foundational to generating the sustained political and social will to throw the bums out and replace them with legitimately better candidates.

    • Rayne says:

      That he had to carry a note with him is so repugnant. He can’t hold those simple thoughts in his head? Has sunk into a reality TV role so deep that he can’t say anything on camera with a teleprompter? His puny conscience tells him nothing?

      • Trip says:

        @Rayne, He must have been bored out of his gourd to have to sit and listen to other people’s laments and pain, rather than blowing smoke about himself.

  18. harpie says:

    Tamara Keith‏Verified account @tamarakeithNPR [NPR White House Correspondent]
    [quote] Today my kid’s preschool is having a regularly scheduled “hibernation drill.” We got a note from his teacher last night saying that the kids put 2 and 2 together and realized it was really an active shooter drill and then on their own connected it to Parkland. Ugh. [end quote]
    Yes, that’s PRE-school. :-{

  19. harpie says:

    Ted LieuVerified account@tedlieu

    Hmmm, why would Wayne LaPierre denounce the FBI? Is the @FBI actively investigating if Kremlin operatives funneled massive amounts of money to the @NRA to influence the 2016 elections?


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Wayne sprayed the walls with every issue, bogeyman and epithet his staff writers could come up with to avoid dealing with regulating weapons of mass destruction in our own back yards. Cable news gave him full coverage to do it.

      Wayne is not a member of the elite, he tells us, despite being able to spend tens of millions yearly to lobby every local, state and federal legislator in America, and to attack anyone who opposes him. 

      He’s a local yokel in a good suit and a bad tie, who wants to hunt, shoot and fish, to keep his family safe from gangbangers, paupers and corrupt gubmint official (not greedy corporations apparently), and to keep the gubmint off his back.  He’s Father Coughlin with a six gun and a fountain pen:

      Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
      I’ve seen lots of funny men
      Some will rob you with a six-gun
      And some with a fountain pen

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Move over Billy Graham, Wayne LaPierre is here. LaPierre, NRA CEO and Executive Vice President, channeling General James Mattoon Scott, sees conspiracies everywhere.  And weakness instead of strength.  Everyone’s a communist, a campus “democratic socialist” or a corrupt gubmint agent who wants to take your gun weapon (one’s for fightin’, one’s for fun), put you in a database, and threaten your freeeeeeedom.

    Wayne is horrified by the murder of 17 students and teachers in Florida.  (As he is about every other mass shooting this year.) Simply horrified.  What he’s more horrified by is that gubmint might do something about it.  Regulate assault weapons, for example.  Over his cold, dead body, Wayne tells us.

    Mr. Trump was wrong about James Comey. He isn’t a nut job, but Wayne LaPierre is.  He’s also a savvy, nasty, corrupt demagogue who has mastered the Republican trait of accusing everyone else of his own worst behavior.  His patrons have given him a pot of gold and a pony to give to every legislator in America, if they will protect his freedom to sell more guns, more ammo, more weapons, more death.

    • pdaly says:

      I wonder if a whisper campaign has ever been started that the real Wayne is actually a government plant who wants to VACCINATE everyone, and now the government has a found a way to vaccinate the kids with its plan to bring guns and ammo into all the schools, and the ammo … has been coated with vaccines that will be released into the schoolrooms everywhere?

      Is it true, Wayne?

      I am glad I missed him on tv today.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        LaPierre’s subdued anger, overt lies, misdirection and relentless demagoguery were painful to watch.

        Donald Trump was especially ignorant, puerile and reprehensible when he equated the attractiveness of an ice cream store to a hungry child with the attractiveness of a gun-free zone (schools, libraries, town halls, other public places) to a violent criminal intent on using a gun.  His nonsense that we’re all safer when everyone carries a loaded concealed weapon everywhere does not apply, apparently, to anywhere he goes.

        • pdaly says:

          Yes, Trump keeping out all guns from his planned speaking locations suggests he’s not as brave as elementary school and high school students who similarly have targets on their backs these days.
          And Trump has well-trained armed security to hide behind.

          Hoping the students and the parents of students get more air time to express their views and that politicians will eventually have to weigh the risks of voting for pro-NRA bills against the risk of voter backlash..

  21. Trip says:

    Trump is detestable and sounds like a moron. “Arming teachers”.

    Apparently he never heard of suicide or death by cop. Just having guns onsite stops other guns. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest, even though it added nothing.

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