Buried Amid the John Dowd News, Mueller’s Team Seems to Think Trump Knows about the June 9 Meeting

I didn’t get a chance to unpack this story before John Dowd up and resigned. It lays out the four areas that Dowd was, until yesterday, negotiating with Mueller’s office regarding Trump’s testimony. It actually provides less detail than the WaPo and CNN stories I covered here. Those stories laid out that Mueller’s team was asking specific questions about:

Flynn’s Firing

  • Whether Trump knew about Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition?
  • What instructions, if any, the president gave Flynn about the contact?Whether he fired Flynn because he had misled Vice President Pence about his contact with Kislyak?

Comey’s Firing

  • Whether he fired Comey because he had mishandled an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton?
  • What was Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the Comey dismissal?

While far less detailed than those earlier articles, however, yesterday’s pre-Dowd departure story describes Mueller’s team asking questions about four areas (I’ve reordered these to make them chronological):

  1. The circumstances surrounding [the June 9, 2016] Trump Tower meeting
  2. The President’s role in crafting a statement aboard Air Force One that miscast Donald Trump Jr.’s campaign June 2016 meeting with Russians in Trump Tower
  3. The firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn
  4. The firing of FBI Director James Comey

It was this focus, according to CNN, that pissed Trump off because,

The focus on Trump himself in Mueller’s pursuits has alarmed and angered the President, who adhered to a legal strategy of holding back set by his attorney John Dowd and White House special counsel Ty Cobb, who have said for months the investigation was likely to conclude soon.

And now Dowd is gone and Ty Cobb is reportedly likely to follow him, to be replaced by table-pounders who will make noise rather than argue the facts.

Bullet 1 — seven words slipped into the CNN story between stuff we’ve long talked about Trump’s involvement in — ought to be blaring headlines.

BREAKING: “Robert Mueller’s prosecutors are going to ask the President about the circumstances surrounding the meeting at which some Russians, including representatives from Trump’s old business associate Aras Agalarov, pitched Junior, Jared, and Trump’s corrupt campaign manager, on dirt about Hillary in the context of relaxing sanctions,” the headline should have read.

Call me crazy. But I doubt Mueller’s team would ask the President about this unless they had reason to believe Trump knew something about it.

And that changes the import of the three other bullets dramatically.

For example, most people have assumed Bullet 2, Trump’s claim this meeting pertained to adoptions and not dirt-for-sactions, is about obstruction charges (Elizabeth de la Vega lays out how that might serve as the basis for one or another conspiracy charge here). But that ignores that Trump spent the weekend leading up to that statement meeting, twice, with Vladimir Putin, including that bizarre meeting over dinner with no babysitter right before the White House released the statement.

BREAKING: The President met twice with Vladimir Putin while he was taking the lead on responding to questions about a meeting we’re all pretending Trump knew nothing about, and then came out with the spin that Vladimir Putin would most likely give it, the designated Russian propaganda line to cover up its campaign against Magnitsky sanctions.

Which brings us to Bullet 3: Whether Trump (via KT McFarland serving as a go-between from Mar a Lago) ordered Flynn to ask Sergey Kislyak to hold off on responding to sanctions, and if so, why he fired Flynn for doing what he told him to do.

Trump surely didn’t fire Flynn because he lied to Mike Pence (if indeed he did lie). Did he fire Flynn because he didn’t lie about it, making an otherwise marginally legally problematic discussion a legally problematic issue? Or did he fire Flynn because he believed it was the most efficacious way to make the focus on his efforts to roll back sanctions on Russia go away?

Bullet 4. Mueller’s prosecutors want to know why, a day before the Russians showed up for a meeting at which Trump refused to have US press, Trump fired Comey, and then told the Russians,

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

Laid out like this, this is what Mueller’s four bullets might look like:

  1. What Trump knew about the dirt-for-sanctions relief deal his one-time business partner Aras Agalarov pitched
  2. Whether Trump gave his National Security Adviser orders to deliver that dirt-for-sanctions deal even before being inaugurated
  3. Why Trump fired Flynn if he was following his orders delivering on that dirt-for-sanctions deal
  4. What Trump meant when he said he fired Comey because firing him took care of the great pressure he had because of Russia

Even as Mueller was negotiating these four questions, Trump called up Putin, at which, according to the Kremlin, “It was agreed to develop further bilateral contacts in light of [the fact that Trump had just fired Rex Tillerson, the next guy standing in the way of fulfilling the dirt-for-sanctions relief deal]. The possibility of organizing a top-level meeting received special attention.” “We will probably get together in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said of the call on Tuesday. “I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future,” he said a second time, a line that reportedly surprised his aides, another piece of news lost in the legal team shake-up. “I think, probably, we’ll be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said a third time in his public comments.

So now Dowd is gone, which is probably lucky for him because otherwise he’d be business negotiating over Bullet 5.

5. Why did Trump fire Rex Tillerson and how does that relate to this big new push to meet with Putin again?

75 replies
  1. big fan says:

    If reporters would just name their sources we could figure this out a lot easier. Sounds like maybe the ship really is about to sink and the question is will we all go down with it

  2. mister bunny says:

    6. Why did Trump replace H.R. McMaster with John Bolton, a man who appeared in a video for the Russian gun advocacy group Right to Bear Arms (which in turn illegally funneled Russian money to the NRA during the 2016 election)?

    • orionATL says:

      john bolton is a genuinely demented, war-hungry fool.

      with his new, self-chosen cabinet level appointments, we are now about to see what a truely ignorant-of-politics, incompetent-to-govern fool trump has always been. this is the presidential candidate too many of our fellow citizens badly misjudged, for which misjudgement they and the rest of us may be about to pay a huge price.

      • TheraP says:

        “genuinely demented”

        a. New lawyer/adviser
        b. New NSA/adviser

        Perhaps a clue to Trump’s own mental state? (Paranoia is often a defense against depression.)

        • orionATL says:

          i consider depression very likely for a man who has never before been constrained in the way public office constrains anyone who holds it.

          trump has already expressed high anxiety in his early morning tweets.

          increasingly isolated from his wife and family, it would not surprise me if if paranoia proved a further stage of personal dissolution.

        • TheraP says:

          Depression is totally likely. (sociopaths get depressed when ‘confined’ – like in prison – and right now the White House walls are closing in…)

          And rather than experience the depression (grief, loss, etc.) there’s the retreat to a Paranoid position: that their “precious” has been STOLEN! (They’re out to “get” me!)

          And indeed we are!!!

      • mister bunny says:

        Yeah, the state of the American citizenry is pretty concerning.

        ‘Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.’

        George Carlin

    • Bob Conyers says:

      This is the move of a guy who gave up what little he cared about appearances.

      Bolton in his electoral fantasies paid over a million dollars to Cambridge Analytica.

      He has a long history of abusive behavior toward women — not sexual, but to the point of chasing one woman staffer and throwing things at her.

      A president who thought about politics any more would not bring someone with that kind of baggage into the White House even for a position that doesn’t require Senate confirmation. Trump is going full table banging.

      I would be surprised if Kelly can deal with him for long. Bolton is also notorious for short circuiting established channels and making end runs to higher ups. I don’t know if this means Kelly is out soon, or if it means Bolton will be going the way of the Mooch.

  3. Bob Conyers says:

    Bullet point 4 raises a possibility I’m too dumb to have thought of before.

    I’d always assumed Trump fired Comey to get the FBI off his back. But now I’ve realized thanks to this summary that Trump may have been telling the Russians he was getting rid of someone they told him to get rid of. Of course now it makes sense that the Russians had been worried about not just Clinton getting elected or the sanctions but about increasing US investigations into their rackets and efforts to hide money overseas.

    Trump was worried about himself regarding the FBI, of course, but he has been trying to soothe the Russians too.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Just to be clear for future readers, Bolton will become nsa (National Security Advisor) which is not NSA (National Security Agency).

  4. TheraP says:

    Interesting choice of words: “not-too-distant future” (3 times). Not your usual Trump language. Plus the vagueness, as if it’s not up to him? As if he’s player, not an initiator of this?

    Of course they’ll be seeing one another at the upcoming G20 in July in Argentina. Tete a tete in Frankfurt last year. Will there be another in Argentina?

    Or does this refer to something else? (I think so or he would have mentioned July in Argentina.)

    But the repetition of meeting with Putin to me suggests some inner urgency. He can’t talk about the “why” so instead he talks about the “what” – as if it’s a big deal to him. Or is he covering up for something he can’t say?

    • cfost says:

      Manchurian. But, given that the perma-war folks pulling the neoconservative strings seem to be asserting themselves through Bolton, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Putin was also a Manchurian.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      Does Argentina have an extradition treaty with the United States ?  Would it be possible for Mueller to release a new indictment of PUTIN just after The Donald boarded Air Force One on his way to Argentina, and then have a CIA team grab PUTIN in front of the Donald and perform an “extraordinary rendition” to Guantanamo for trial ?  Remember The Donald is just a stooge – the REAL perpetrator is PUTIN.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “But the trail always ended at the same data center in France.”

      Not buying the story yet. Not yet. Nyet.

    • Anne says:

      I’m sorry if you’ve already discussed this…

      From this article, do Stone and Nevin’s get a plausible deniability pass regarding campaign finance law? Or ConFraudUS?

      Aaron Nevin’s just takes and uses the data from Guccifer.  Stone pointedly says *myself* in this quote.

      “I myself had no contacts or communications with the Russian State, Russian Intelligence or anyone fronting for them or acting as intermediaries for them.”
      — Roger Stone

      I also find it a little hard to believe Guccifer would *accidentally* not activate a VPN.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Nor I. If G2 was really a GRU op, they would have a dedicated computer set up for that op. Even if multiple people were actually behind the persona.

        The VPN would aways be active.

  5. cfost says:

    Trump: “How do I get people’s attention off the Mueller stuff? I know, let’s start a war! Worked for Dubya! His approval ratings went thru the roof after Afghanistan! Iran. Ok. Korea. Ok. Either one. I need a war! Get me Bolton on the phone. Get him on Fox right now! Get me a war! Get outta my way! Vlade says it’s time!”

    • JD12 says:

      He actually said something similar to that, though he was talking about 9/11.

      In private conversations, Trump has told advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 election has to be as bad as others are predicting. He has referenced the 2002 midterms, when George W. Bush and Republicans fared better after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these people said.https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/17/16893408/donald-trumps-2018-plan

      War with Iran seems inevitable at this point. Israel and Saudi Arabia tried talking Obama into it when he first took office, and they both have this administration seduced. Like Bolton, Mattis and Pompeo have wanted to bomb Iran for years and think it would be easy. Nikki Haley’s missile presentation was a little embarrassing, no experts were willing to help because the evidence wasn’t conclusive, it was similar to Colin Powell’s. We also have some troops in Eastern Syria that we could’ve brought home but didn’t. Something about the power of the presidency is intoxicating, if Obama could be talked into Libya, Trump can easily be talked into Iran, if it even requires any talking at all.


  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Not only Bolton. Mattis does not seem secure now that Bolton will be NSA and Pompeo or an empty chair will be at Foggy Bottom. Lord knows who will be a the CIA. Kelly will follow Mattis before the door hits him in the ass on the way out. That, in turn, will piss off the joint chiefs and area commanders, especially CentCom.

    That leaves Sessions and/or Rosenstein. If Sessions has protection from Senate hardliners and keeps it, it will be Rosenstein. In the end, it’s Mueller Trump needs to keep at bay, especially as the Dems are likely to take control of the House or Senate in the fall, which would make Trump considerably more vulnerable.

    The only worse place for Bolton would be State or DoD, but Trump’s not done yet. His need for distraction is likely to increase. Is this fun, or are we all gonna burn?

    • aubrey mcfate says:

      Mattis was on the board of Theranos, by the way. They’re all corrupt, but not all absolute degenerates, like Bolton (I wonder what McMaster’s vice is?). Bolton is a total nothing, a basket case who has resided in think-tank nurseries for compromised kooks, never had a job or any position of responsibility in his mean little life. I think it’s game over for the country and the world. Getting out of the Iran deal won’t be distraction enough; it’ll need to be more kinetic. Bush had Gates when Cheney tried to get things going. There is nothing to stop Trump. And the Senate Intelligence Committee was not sanguine about the prospect of valid elections yesterday.

      • Maybe ryan says:

        >the prospect of valid elections

        As someone pretty close to those discussions, I can say you’re absolutely wrong.

  7. aubrey mcfate says:

    I was finishing dinner getting ready to watch Anderson Cooper interview Susan McDougal. I hope Trump’s naming of John Bolton (a nonentity certainly blackmailed up to his eyebrows from someone from Plato’s Cave) doesn’t preempt it!

  8. Galactus-36215 says:

    Marcy, on bullet 5, why was Tillerson fired.

    On march 1st, Exxon announced via its 10k SEC filing it was exiting most programs in Russia and more specifically its joint artic research and exploration with Rosneft.

    The CEFC purchase of Rosneft shares has stalled with China. Hence, put pressure on China with tariff to force compliance in same manner as Qatar.

    Meet with Putin for china update

  9. SteveB says:

    Bullet 2 is the key one I have long thought.

    In order to participate in crafting any statement (whether true false or a mixture of both) Trump must have some knowledge of the substance at issue.
    So what did he know and when did he know it.

    I know Trump boosters argue the line that because lying to the press is outside the scope of the crime of obstructing the investigation Mueller goes beyond his mandate to explore such matters.

    But this is where the conspiracy to defraud the US comes in:
    the deceptions which formed part of the already indicted conspiracies are not limited to direct deceptions aimed specifically at the government agencies, but also include a wider pattern of deceit intended to conceal the conspirators ongoing actions in furtherance of the conspiracy from anyones view.

    A similarly framed conspiracy to eg solicit the assistance of or otherwise coordinate campaign activities with actions by or on behalf of unregistered agents of foriegn powers

    By unhappy chance for Trump, there were several paid agents of a foriegn power in the Trump Tower meeting, one of them already indicted on conspiracy to defraud the US.

    In UK law (and in US law too I imagine) hearsay in furtherance of the conspiracy is admissible against co-conspirators.
    In that context what did you know and when did you know it can become quite a thorny dilemma, because a provable lie about a material matter gets rolled into the conspiracy to conceal, and statements as to sources of knowledge might implicate others in a potential conspiracy.
    So if Trump was to say :
    I relied on Don Jr and he told me XYZ about that Trump Tower and told me when we were on Airforce 1
    If any part of XYZ deviates from the objective facts now established, then Snr has potentially shafted Jr. by identifying further lies Jr has told.
    Of course Snr readily leant himself to concealing the truth about the meeting, and with consciousness of the lie : the Hope Hicks observation about emails not getting out (whatever she may have meant in terms of destruction of evidence or otherwise) is evidence of the shared understanding and active intent of the group to conceal the truth.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Public utterances can be used to show a pattern of deceit and obstruction.  Mr. TwitterFeed has given us plenty of those.  Pity he never listens to good advice, legal or otherwise.

    • Avattoir says:

      “In UK law (and in US law too I imagine) hearsay in furtherance of the conspiracy is admissible against co-conspirators.”

      Ah: this gets us closer to something I’ve raised previously here – that bmaz should post something on how conspiracy cases work, including in particular the so-called “conspiracy exception” to the general rule against allowing hearsay to be put before a jury.

      It’s not rocket surgery, but it can be a little tricky to follow.

  10. SpaceLifeForm says:

    The Hope Hicks statement is damning one way or the other.

    Either she was told that Congress could bury the investigation (my original thought), or she knows that various players were using ProtonMail which she thought was secure.

    • Dev Null says:

      No offense, but email security is relative.

      “Compared to what?”

      Happy to be educated if I’m wrong.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Protonmail or riseup.net would be more secure than gmail insofar as the sponsor is not in the business of harvesting and commercializing the content or metadata.  It is akin to searching with duckduckgo rather than the more privacy invasive Giggle.

      Those e-m services are not secure from surveillance by state actors, if for no other reason than that such actors surveil and suck up data from communications backbones.  And the relative privacy of a search engine also depends on the ability to minimize exposure to tracking and other cookies and malware.  A user is still exposed.  Your ISP, for example, can readily track activity, and the machine you use gives up personal data, especially if it’s a mobile device.

      Privacy falls on a spectrum, one that the big five and the USG and other governments are working hard to make as narrow as possible.  Even with snail mail, the USG records images of the surfaces of each piece of mail it processes.  It can make connections and draw inferences, certainly after the fact, but it’s not yet the same as opening that mail and absorbing the content.

      You can take steps to lower your exposure, but you’ll still have exposure.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Agree with your overall point but

        “Protonmail or riseup.net would be more secure than gmail insofar as the sponsor is not in the business of harvesting and commercializing the content or metadata.”

        Its the metadata. NSA has it.

  11. tryggth says:

    Call me crazy. But I doubt Mueller’s team would ask the President about this unless they had reason to believe Trump knew something about it.

    Call me crazier. But Mueller’s approach so far seems to be locked-down indictments where the trial is a formality. I can’t see him going into a meeting hoping Trump will slip up and give up a critical detail that will lock down a theory of the incident. Asking about the Tower meeting suggests he already has the case for unindicted co-conspirator wrapped up and the indictment is there for the asking. But he is going to give Trump a chance to explain himself, even though there is no plausible excuse for the behavior Mueller has already locked down [we don’t have the details]. Ie, he effectively has the indictment but is closing the last door with the interview.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      One thing I have told myself to temper expectations is that it’s possible any Trump interview has the main aim of cementing indictments of other people. You have to assume the possibility that the defense of anyone  who is indicted may try to use Trump in some way to bolster their defense, and Mueller would want to get Trump on the record beforehand.

      Of course there’s also a good possibility that Mueller has multiple objectives from a Trump interview including sewing up Trump, I’m just not certain it’s the only explanation.

      • Avattoir says:

        So, so many chances for cutthroat (most delicious when cooked and eaten immediately after being caught, with nothing more than butter, pepper and some lemon juice).

  12. aubrey mcfate says:

    I think the explanation for why Tillerson was fired is the simplest one: his statement on the poisoning. Just to add a little obscure detail, I was reading an opposition Hungarian newspaper today and Viktor Orban made a scene at the E.U. summit, trying to filibuster statements on the poisoning by bringing up his pet demagoguery, migrants. You’d think the politic thing for Orban would be to offer some pro-forma support for his nominal allies. But all the gangsters are taking direction from the same source in this international criminal conspiracy.

    An interesting case at the same summit was Lithuania. Their prime minister said she would consider removing Russian diplomats engaging in intelligence operations. Reading their papers two or three years ago was the first time I had heard of Russian psychological and social warfare operations on the West.

  13. Galactus-36215 says:

    The Washington post as well as others like The Atlantic are reporting Tillerson was informed on Friday March 9th. Therefore, his Monday comments on March 12 are a result of his firing and NOT the reason for it.

    This makes sense. As seen with Flake and others, people feel free to speak their mind AFTER they know they are not coming back to their jobs or running for office again.

    Tillerson’s Monday condemnation of Russia nerve gas poisoning was his outgoing final, unfiltered comments after knowing he was fired.

    • Trip says:

      I don’t buy that story. I just don’t. It’s convenient to say, after the fact, that Tillerson was informed ahead of time. But all the while, Trump is always saying he is going to fire people, but then calls it fake news,  sits on it for a while, and then fires people. Tillerson, if told anything, had heard it time and again.

      I would believe his version of events before anything coming from the WH. We knew well in advance of March that Exxon was not going to be able to proceed with the Russian/US oil partnership plans.

      From April 2017:


  14. Larry says:

    My wildest happiest thought is that Mueller will convince Trump to turn state’s evidence in order to save his own skin on the condition he resign from the presidency and testify against Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Ivanka, Jared, Erik, Don Jr. Steve Bannon, and Steve Miller for conspiracy and obstruction. Trump will also have to perform an actual 40 hours a week for the rest of his life of public service cleaning toilets, grease traps and swimming pools at Mar A Lago, and caddying if he needs additional hours to meet this required 40.

  15. Bay State Librul says:

    I love Larry.

    Point blank: What if the stock market sinks (we all get fucked) but Don the Con is sent to Salem Mass to hang out with the witches?

    Reminder to Don the Con “If you see the world around you as a collection of objects for you to manipulate and exploit, you will inevitably destroy the world while attempting to control it”  Vine Deloria Jr

    I try to stay optimistic but I’m pretty worried.

  16. orionATL says:

    of course president trump knew about the june 9 meeting, prima facie. his son had received a message from rob goldstone some days earlier.


    from the guardian:

    “… 3 June 2016

    Rob Goldstone to Trump Jr

    Emin [Agalarov, a Russian pop star represented by Goldstone] just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.

    The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras [a Moscow-based developer who tried to partner with Trump in a hotel project] this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

    This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.

    What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?

    I can also send this info to your father via Rhona [presumably Rhona Graff, Trump’s longtime executive assistant], but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first…”

    so of course don, jr. talked about this exciting message (sent the week before the meeting) with his dad, the candidate. and of course, jr. also talked with dad after the meeting about what took place at that june 9 meeting.

    any more questions?

  17. Galactus-36215 says:


    “I don’t buy that story. I just don’t.”

    Let me suggest an alternate story, if you don’t mind. The Tillerson nomination and position of Secretary of State was an appeasement of sorts to begin with.

    Exxon and Rosneft have had a joint venture now for years. Let me suggest (yes, this is entirely speculative) that after the election in Nov of 2016, Rosneft begins to pressure Exxon to extract concessions from their joint relationship to arctic drilling. Exxon refuses. But since FrankenTrump is now going to be sworn in and the Rosneft sale of 19.5% shares is done on Dec 7 (to which Trump and Kushner are participants), they offer a half measure to Exxon by appointing Tillerson to Secretary of State and Exxon can have free reign anywhere else in the world. So, on December 16, Tillerson is nominated by FrankenTrump, just nine days after the completion of the Rosneft share sale.

    So, in order to keep pressuring Exxon to submit to Rosneft demands, FrankenTrump refuses to give them a waiver against US sanctions related to Russia (your April 2017 story). Doesn’t it seem odd that a US president DOESN’T give a pass to a US corporation to make money, especially when that president has repeatedly told everyone he wants to increase US jobs? Where’s the logic in that? Denying Exxon a waiver only hurts Exxon. US presidents ALWAYS submit to US corporation. But FrankenTrump doesn’t because it’s not in his financial interest because he’s shareholder in Rosneft and would rather see Rosneft get the lion’s share of benefit from Arctic drilling.

    So, Feb 28 comes along and Exxon gives its final NO to the pressure and decides it will go it alone in the arctic and be a Rosneft competitor rather than a subservient vassal. It’s a very different situation when you have a competitor rather than a willing servant. Both companies want to reap the benefits of Arctic drilling.

    Your premise of not believing is based on the fact that the leaks were done at the behest of the whitehouse. There were two people who leaked the same information to the Post. The official WH position is that Kelly notified him. The leakers confirmed it.

    Goldstein, Tillerson’s aide, was fired for contradicting both accounts, most likely because he sought to generate more Russia heat on FrankenTrump and showing support for Tillerson.

    • Trip says:

      Congress tied Trump’s hands, and forced sanctions (back when the GOP wasn’t providing such obvious cover and obstruction). They came up with sanctions which Trump promised to sign, dragged his ass on, but then never implemented. Remember that?

      Rosneft wanted Exxon involved because they didn’t have the know how themselves.

      I don’t know who the leakers are, but sometimes it is Trump, himself.

      • Galactus-36215 says:

        There’s a couple of interesting items that I’m watching going forward.

        1. A senior  VP at Exxon is ‘retiring’. This was announced via 8K filing on March 16, just a few days after the Tillerson firing tweet. He was the head of Development. Wondering if there’s any connection.

        2. There was also this hedge statement in the Exxon 10K filing regarding the joint venture. It said that the decision to exit occurred in late 2017. But the very next sentence left open the possibility that the company could change it’s mind. They used the word, “expect” to announce its formal withdrawal. This leads me to believe that it’s not actually final. So, what I’ll be watching for is that announcement. If they decide NOT to withdrawal, will they then get the waiver from sanctions to continue with Rosneft? ie…will FrankenTrump have some sort of change of heart and want to help the poor struggling US company and its workers….lol.

      • Galactus-36215 says:

        From Dec 12 NYT article:

        “Russian executives then told Exxon Mobil that Russia’s security services would fly in a Russian crew — in essence seize the rig — if Exxon Mobil complied with the American law and left without completing the well, according to an oil company executive who had visited the rig in the Arctic.
        Exxon relayed the threat to the American government, and the Treasury Department capitulated, granting an extension that stretched the window to work until Oct. 10. In a statement in 2014, the Russian state oil company denied conveying such a threat to Mr. Tillerson’s company.
        With the extension in hand, Exxon Mobil discovered a major field with about 750 million barrels of new oil for Russia a few weeks later. Igor I. Sechin, the chief executive of the Russian state oil company, called the newly discovered oil field Pobeda — Russian for victory.
        It is one of the Arctic developments that Exxon Mobil has rights to work on should the sanctions be lifted.”
        Looks like Rosneft has a history of threatening its joint partner Exxon. What a coincidence. Not. I don’t believe in coincidences. ;)

    • cfost says:

      While we may still need to speculate about the details, I agree with you that we can have a high degree of confidence in the motives and intentions of the Exxon/Tillerson/Trump/Russia players.
      From a Russian perspective: oil is very important to national GDP, Exxon has expertise, and (perhaps most important) Exxon has spare parts. In my experience, lack of spare parts has been the bane of Russian industrial existence since Soviet days. The arm twisting and threats are just an everyday part of business life there. A good related question: who actually recommended Tillerson in the first place?
      From my viewpoint, Tillerson is interchangeable with Ross, Mnuchin, Zinke, Pruit, DeVos, and a few others. Only the details change. But the motives and intentions are the same.
      If it is politics, and if human beings are involved, then it must be about money and power.

  18. x174 says:

    I really enjoyed this post and all of the informative and intriguing comments it generated.

    Bullet 5 is highly provocative and led to some extraordinary insights and discussions.

    Bullet 5. Why did Trump fire Rex Tillerson and how does that relate to this big new push to meet with Putin again?

    Entanglements within the corporate and the political worlds have been exposed by this maladministration because of Trump’s uncontrolled intimacies with the world of social media. The conspicuously and egregiously corrupt Trumps epitomize America’s corporate brand of unethical capitalism.

    There is a painful irony in realizing that as the Arctic sea-ice melts and disrupts the polar vortex, giving rise to anomalous mid-March blizzards, Exxon and Rosneft are locked in a grim dance to decide who will control Arctic oil.

    Unfortunately as the battle lines for this unscrupulous and destructive geo-economic war are being drawn, the United States is entering with a deeply compromised and an incredibly incompetent administration at the helm.

  19. Drrow says:

    Did anyone else notice that Glenn Sileg (Rick Gates’ publicist who undoubtedly knew a lot) was murdered in Kabul in January? He said on Fox news that Equifax had a lot to gain from the data breach?  https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/how-equifax-credit-agencies-could-benefit-from-the-data-breach

  20. Darrow says:

    Did anyone else notice that Glenn Sileg (Rick Gates’ publicist who undoubtedly knew a lot) was murdered in Kabul in January? He said on Fox news that Equifax had a lot to gain from the data breach?  https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/how-equifax-credit-agencies-could-benefit-from-the-data-breach

  21. Fiona says:

    @ michael reynolds : My favorite contribution to the tic-toc”: Saturday: Dowd suggests Mueller probe be concluded. Sunday: Congressman Gowdy says if Dowd”s has an innocent client he should act like it. Thursday: Dowd resigns. 4 0 best custom essay

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