The Oligarch “Peace” of the Pie Plan

I keep coming back to this post I wrote a year ago, arguing that the policy payoff phase of the Russian investigation appears to have as much to do with remapping the Middle East in exchange for personal enrichment as anything else (what I call ConFraudUs for foreign policy).

Kushner’s “peace plan” is not so much a plan for peace. It’s a plan for a complete remapping of the Middle East according to a vision the Israelis and Saudis have long been espousing (and note the multiple nods on Trump’s trip to the growing alliance between the two, including Trump’s flight directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv and Bibi’s comment on “common dangers are turning former enemies into partners”). It’s a vision for still more oppression (a view that Trump supports globally, in any case).

Yes, it’d probably all be accomplished with corrupt self-enrichment on the part of all players.

Since then, Erin Banco (who first confirmed that Erik Prince had met with Kirill Dmitriev) revealed that Mueller is investigating several other meetings in the Seychelles, on top of the one involving Prince.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is examining a series of previously unreported meetings that took place in 2017 in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, as part of its broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to two sources briefed on the investigation.

The sources said several of those meetings took place around the same time as another meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, founder of the security company Blackwater, Kirill Dmitriev, the director of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates (also known as “MBZ”). Details of that earlier meetingwere first reported by the Washington Post last year.


Individuals connected to the Saudi financial system, including the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and the Arab National Bank, flew into the island the second week of January 2017, as did an aircraft purportedly owned by the former deputy minister of defense, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, fight records show. Other individuals on those aircraft held passports from Egypt and Singapore.

Dmitriev flew into the Seychelles Jan. 11, 2017 with his wife Natalia Popova and another woman with the last name Boldovskaia. Six other Russian individuals flew to the island just a few days after Dmitriev. The aircraft’s ownership is unclear but it flew between Russia, Geneva and Cyprus in 2017.

Others on the island included Alexander Mashkevitch, an alleged financier of Bayrock, an investment vehicle linked to Trump, and Sheikh Abdulrahman Khalid BinMahfouz, according to flight records. BinMahfouz’s father, before his death, was a billionaire and the former chairman of Saudi Arabia’s first private bank.

Today, ABC has a report that not just Tom Barrack (who was interviewed last year), but several others have been interviewed about foreign inauguration donations.

Barrack, a real estate investor, has long been described as a Trump “whisperer” whose close friendship with the president landed him a prime appearance during the GOP convention the night Trump accepted his party’s nomination.

The billionaire runs a fund with hundreds of millions in real estate and private equity holdings in the Middle East. Barrack oversaw the largest inaugural fundraising effort in U.S. history, bringing in $107 million – more than double what President Barack Obama raised for his first swearing-in festivities.

According to a source who has sat with the Mueller team for interviews in recent weeks, the special counsel is examining donors who have either business or personal connections in Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.


Special counsel investigators have also asked witnesses about specific inauguration donors, including American businessmen Leonard Blavatnik, and Andrew Intrater, according to sources familiar with the Mueller sessions.

Blavatnik has been funding not just Trump, but Republicans generally, including (especially) Mitch McConnell.

An example is Len Blavatnik, a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen and one of the largest donors to GOP political action committees in the 2015-16 election cycle. Blavatnik’s family emigrated to the U.S. in the late ’70s from the U.S.S.R. and he returned to Russia when the Soviet Union began to collapse in the late ’80s.

Data from the Federal Election Commission show that Blavatnik’s campaign contributions dating back to 2009-10 were fairly balanced across party lines and relatively modest for a billionaire. During that season he contributed $53,400. His contributions increased to $135,552 in 2011-12 and to $273,600 in 2013-14, still bipartisan.

In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik’s political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.

Also note that all the Cohen side clients revealed by Michael Avenatti had some kind of tie to inauguration donations.

And remember that the leftover inauguration donations, which were supposed to be donated to charity, have simply disappeared (though Mueller, with subpoena power, may well know precisely where it went).

This all seems like an effort by a bunch of oligarchs to take remap the world in their self-interest.

42 replies
  1. Mister Sterling says:

    Outstanding work. Surely Mueller will know how much of the tens of millions of Inauguration funds ended up in Trump’s pockets (and Cohen’s, and who knows who else).

  2. Trip says:

    Absolutely. But I hope they drill deep down into hell to find where the Kochs, Mercers, et al and even Kissinger played puppet masters, on some levels.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Money goes out of US to ‘other places’, and comes back into US. Laundered out. Then laundered back in. Mercers, Koch, think they are hidden.

      Got a greenback in your pocket?

      Turn it over, there is Metadata there.

      See NRA. Pay attention to Greitens trial.

  3. texas dem says:

    Lately I have been figuring that the Syria endgame is for the Russians to throw the Iranians out of Syria.   And functionally keep it as a client state for themselves.   All parties could probably agree to that as a settlement, excepting obviously the Iranians and Hezbollah.

    The Saudis only really oppose the Iranian presence in Syria.  They don’t have a huge beef with Russia.

    The Israelis, likewise.

    The Americans, under this administration at least, likewise.   Heck, this Administration might prefer to create a Russian colony in Syria as part of some other corrupt trade.  Syria is a place we never owned anyway; why not trade it away for something else.

    The Iraqis and Lebanese wouldn’t be thrilled, but have no power to do anything.

    The Turks only really care that the Kurds in Rojava are kept down.  They might not be thrilled by Russians on their southern border, but Erdogan and Putin seem to be in a mutually respectful relationship these days.  And Russians on the border is preferable to a second Kurdish autonomous region on their border.

    The Russians could conceivably be strong enough to attempt such an arrangement, especially if assured the support of the Saudi side of the conflict.

    Jared’s Peace Plan could be just giving Syria to Russia and isolating Iran.  It would make all of his buddies happy.

    • Ed Walker says:

      This makes sense. The Iranian State has no friends among the people playing the Great Game.

    • JD12 says:

      That could be their plan, but honestly they probably couldn’t kick Iran out of Syria if they wanted to. Unfortunately the media and even American intelligence agencies have a very outdated view of Iran, and that’s how the Iranians want it.

      They’ve helped Hezbollah repel Israel from Lebanon twice now, and they’re giving the Saudis a hard time in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world. Their proxies have been filling the voids from every war we’ve fought, in Iraq, Syria, and even Afghanistan. They could destroy Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure with missiles and fill the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz with mines, which would be a disaster to the economy. They’re masters at asymmetric warfare, which is one of the reasons we’ve spent $7 trillion fighting and gone nowhere.

      Obama had it right with the nuclear deal, Trump and Bolton still have a 1980 view of Iran and that’s very dangerous.

      This article is from a decade ago, they’ve only gotten stronger since then.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Remapping and privatizing the Middle East seems the most likely hypothesis.  Led, oddly by a Saudi-Israeli partnership attempting to corral Shiite Iran.  Israeli intelligence, SA money, US force of arms a counterweight to the New Silk Roads perhaps.  Where do the Russians sit?

    It’s hilarious in a Strangelovian way that Trump violates the Iran Nuclear agreement – against the wishes of everyone – because the Iranians aren’t keeping their word.  And his government then backs nuclearizing the SA through building a string of nuclear power plants – against the wishes of most of the world – in a location exceptionally well-suited to solar and wind alternatives.

    That’s the antithesis of sound policy, which increases the odds that this is about wealth-making (“the oil belongs to he who gits it”), keeping the “right” thumbs on the political scale, and keeping away the “wrong” thumbs.

    • orionATL says:

      what bothers me a bit about all this thoughtless geopolitics re-arrangement scheme (which prominently includes domestic republican party gain) is that iran, with its thousands year old state history and its more or less historically set boundaries, is the only middle eastern power save egypt of which that can be said – all others, israel included, were european colonies and created by european fiat.

      iran’s is a cruel, religious-based gov’t (as is the wont of such), but it does have its established basic democracy of which only israel, and perhaps jordan, can the same be said.

      so who gets to lead in this part of the world? the wealthy but inherently unstable monarchy, saudi arabia? the small, advanced-european, and hyperaggressive israel? or iran with its history, culture, and 80 mill population?

      apparently, whichever whichever :) american presidency/political party chooses.

      as the saying goes “this cannot end well”.

      • orionATL says:

        and curiously, no apparent consideration for its population numbers, 80 million (and egypt is at ~100 mill).

        reminds me of china for most of the 20th century.
        then – wham!
        then – where did these guys come from?

    • Soldalinsky says:

      It’s hilarious in a Strangelovian way that Trump violates the Iran Nuclear agreement – against the wishes of everyone – because the Iranians aren’t keeping their word.  And his government then backs nuclearizing the SA through building a string of nuclear power plants – against the wishes of most of the world – in a location exceptionally well-suited to solar and wind alternatives.
      That’s the antithesis of sound policy, which increases the odds that this is about wealth-making (“the oil belongs to he who gits it”), keeping the “right” thumbs on the political scale, and keeping away the “wrong” thumbs.

      Sound policy? From what perspective?  Qui bono?

      I hate to burst your anti-Trump bubble again, but a conspiracy to offer Iran an amazing peace deal and then “sabotage” it has been circulating in think tanks since at least 2009.

      One of the most prominent conspirators is the Brookings Institution, whose sponsors include arms manufacturers Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, energy giants Exxon Mobil, BP, Aramco, and Chevron, and financiers including Bank of America, Citi, and numerous advisers and trustees provided by Goldman Sachs. 

      In their 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” Brookings policymakers would first admit the complications of US-led military aggression against Iran (emphasis added): 

      ...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. 

      The paper then lays out how the US could appear to the world as a peacemaker and depict Iran’s betrayal of a “very good deal” as the pretext for an otherwise reluctant US military response (emphasis added): 

      The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offerone so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

      The West has no interest in striking any lasting deal with Iran, as nuclear capabilities, even the acquirement of nuclear weapons by Iran has never truly been an existential threat to Western nations or their regional partners. The West’s issue with Iran is its sovereignty and its ability to project its interests into spheres traditionally monopolized by the US and UK across the Middle East. Unless Iran plans on forfeiting its sovereignty and regional influence along with its right to develop and use nuclear technology, war is inevitable and corporate interests are leading the charge.  

      I cant emphasize enough how crazy this paper is.  It even spells out how Israel will most likely make the first moves and the USA will follow.  Do read the whole thing.  It is absolutely shocking!!


        • Soldalinsky says:

          Nope, I’m not getting paid to post here.   I’m genuinely concerned about the current state of geopolitical affairs and the collapse of the rule of law.    There are lots of important issues addressed here and I want to participate.


          Would you rather I beat the war drum????

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    SS7, Wyden

    Cops Can Find the Location of Any Phone in the Country in Seconds, and a Senator Wants to Know Why

    According to the New York Times report, a former sheriff of Mississippi County, Mo., used an obscure service called Securus to surveill targets’ cell phones, including a judge and other law enforcement officials. That system is typically used by marketers to obtain location data from mobile carriers. As well as AT&T, the system can exploit data from Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, and law enforcement can essentially self-certify that they have legal authorisation to use the service, the report suggests.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m glad a congresscritter is finally asking those questions.  Cell providers have installed in cell towers s/w that automates triangulating the position of a cell phone.  Formerly, that was a difficult, time-consuming calculation.  No longer.  It makes gps a redundant, if useful, system and vice versa.

      The question seems to be why is that location information so readily available?

  6. Lamsmy says:

    Just a little aside here. I live in Nairobi and we vacation in the Seychelles regularly. The tiny airport on Mahe is an interesting place indeed.

    I have spotted Alisher Usmanov’s A340 Bourkhan (Russia’s largest private jet) parked on the apron a couple of times. Once my companions and I gaped in astonishment as a private 737 from somewhere in the Gulf pulled in to the terminal area with a young child sitting in one of the pilot’s seats.

    The Seychelles are filled with the very wealthiest Russians, Gulf natives, and increasingly the Chinese. That half of UAE’s elite would be there on any given weekend is not all that surprising. The Emir of Abu Dhabi has built himself a giant palace a top one of the island’s highest peaks.

    While the gathering of all these money men at one time in one place looks very suspicious, without insider testimony, proving these comings and goings were part of a larger conspiracy would be next to impossible.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There’s another proof problem, in that the Seychelles are known as a place where showing or getting a stamp in a passport is optional when one arrives on a private jet – which would include most of the people who might be of interest in a federal investigation.  There are work arounds, of course, plane tail numbers, various kinds of gps and non-gps-based tracking and the like.  It just makes it a bit harder.

  7. jon says:

    Is it anyones opinion that Felix Sater is and has been an informant in investigations relating to trump tower and money laundering. Has he been feeding his “friends” in SCO information on Mashkevitch as well? sometimes this story just has too many tentacles for the average citizen.thanks for all the great opinions.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      I have no argument against that theory.
      Nor other non-named players that fit the theory.

  8. orionATL says:

    always happy to see even the tiniest, indirect mention of cyprus in this context.

    the russians seem to love islands, actually, very tiny countries – such as malta, cyprus, seychelles. they certainly  are fetching places to vacation.

    • orionATL says:

      now that i think of it, i was a living witness to the second trojan war.

      the war began with the mainland greek government tinkering with the island’s government. that led eventually to an invasion in 1974 by the trojan army (commonly referred to as the turkish army). eventually the island was partitioned into a greek part and a turkish part. as happens in such matters, many tens of thousands of cypriots were forced to move from their old homes to their designated national partition area.

      • posaune says:

        I had a very dear friend, gifted 19-yo pianist prodigy, Neville Chinoy, who was killed  in 1974 when the plane he had just boarded was blown up on the tarmac in Cypress.

        • orionATL says:

          what a deeply personal tragedy with life-lasting memories, the possibility of which is never even given a thought by angry, violent partisans.

          nearly 50 yrs later, that emminently human social organization and personality type is still at it, wreaking revenge at le bataclan, at zaventem ….

    • Repack Rider (Charlie Kelly) says:

      Too busy for Tuck-Face.

      Avenatti hunts big game.  He wants Hannity, and he will taunt him mercilessly for his cowardice.

      I  hope some day to have ten minutes of the fun that Avenatti is having months of.


      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Oh yeah, he has been pimping Hannity for days to get on the air with Hannity, because, if you recall, Hannity was a Cohen client.

        (allegedly, per Cohen legal, in court)

        Fox wants no part of that. They know Avenatti will rip them up live on TV.

        Though, the ratings would be good.

    • Trip says:

      I’m concerned for Avenatti on a few levels. He is really David taking on the Goliaths and playing a very dangerous game. I hope he has some security, I sincerely worry about his safety. They will do everything in their power to ruin him, in character assassination as well. Or find a way to press criminal charges because of the leaks.

      Then also, in the back of mind, I hope that he isn’t secretly, or doesn’t turn into, a major ego-maniacal douchenozzle like Julian Assange, who seemed genuine in an ethical mission at first, but no longer.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Character assassination. That is what JA has had to deal with, no doubt.

        But, I would not write him off yet.

        He has ‘stuff’. And, at this point in time, he can not reveal any of that ‘stuff’ (no net).

        The fact that he has no internet is because TPTB *know* he has ‘stuff’.

        But, will not surprise me if he is given full immunity down the road.

        As to Avenatti, he is doing a small angle, and, is already enduring character assassination, but Fox does not want to have him on, so, that is a tell.

        There are plenty of bigger investigations than the Stormy story.

        Fox *knows* the Stormy story is not the big story. Fox *knows* they are in deep shit.

  9. Michael says:

    I am glad to see you bring up the “leftover inauguration donations”. It has interested me for some time and is on my short list of enrichment schemes I want to see spotlighted and used to beat the administration about the head and fin unless and until mea culpas are coughed up and restitution is made. Millions of dollars does not simply fall between the cracks; some entity carefully sweets it there.

  10. TheraP says:

    Maybe I missed reading it, but was Cohen just an independent agent seeking corporate/oligarch money for influence or was he the agent of Trump, seeking to be his own “Trump-whisperer”?  Through Cohen – the apparent explainer – but with Trump himself offering (or not) what the payors were seeking?  Either way, of course, it’s bad.  But could Cohen have ‘only’ been a freelancer here? How could Trump have overlooked an opportunity to siphon off even more money?

    I’m sure the whole Trump family has been selling itself in every possible way – overt and covert.  And I hope Mueller is on to all of it:  ConFraudUS.

    As an aside, I wish to high heaven that the news media would stop airing all videos of Trump, whether as a remedial reader or a prancing and preening self-glorifying rally showman, etc.  I think it’s a form of torture.  It is hazardous to one’s neurons.  They should warn people:  “Some viewers might be harmed by the following.  So turn off the sound and close your eyes if exposure to Trump makes you carsick.”  Can the media not blur even a photo of his face???

    • Trip says:

      I won’t watch Trump and I won’t watch Huckster-b Sanders, either. The most I can tolerate are short clips, and that’s pushing it.

    • posaune says:

      I’ve wondered the same thing, TheraP.  I’ll bet Mueller’s shop will clarify that, like they did with Manafort and Gates:

      “An additional two-level enhancement for a managerial role would apply for Manafort, pursuant to  § 3B1.1(c).”  [sentencing recommendations: fn 3, p. 6, superseding indictment EDVA].

      I’m guessing that Trump wouldn’t know how to make a pdf either, so that would make him a “manager” as well.

    • Michael says:

      “Can the media not blur even a photo of his face???”

      Yeah… even the News Hour offends in that way. They sometimes do just short sound bytes (We gave air time… Let’s move on.), but show several clips in pretty quick succession. Rump has no public speaking talent; too often, when he projects, he sounds spiteful, like “nah-nah-nah and mine is bigger than yours”. Lemon-sucking mouth cum joined thumb and forefinger (the “OK” sign, which in some parts of the world has a very different meaning: “fuck you”). But I digress.

      The Washington Post web site prevents my seeing any lead photos. They kinda appear, but only just; they are blurred. Like through a fogged window. The reason (probably): as a rule I DISallow Javascript and DISallow many CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). I quite like the effect!

  11. stoopcat says:

    TheraP, as I understand it, once it was decided Cohen wouldn’t get a WH job, Trump allowed him to use “personal attorney to DJT” on his letterhead. Squire Patton Boggs then gave him office space & “strategic partnership” status but he was never a member of the firm. He certainly never registered as a lobbyist. “Essential Consultants” implies he was marketing himself as a consultant w/ imprimatur of “DJT personal attorney” tho he did no legal work other than securing/enforcing/diverting NDAs (prob in collusion w/ Davidson)

    • TheraP says:

      That still doesn’t answer the question, though, does it?

      Interestingly, both the White House and Cohen have now denied Dear Leader played any role in this. Since I don’t trust either of these sources, it actually raises my suspicisions further.

      In my line of work, you don’t just trust something because people say it. And you make use of whatever information you have about their character when judging statements.

      So as far as I’m concerned, the question is open. Till Mueller answers it.

  12. M says:

    Just a reminder that $26m of inauguration monies made it to Melania’s best friend. Safe bet a lot of funds have been distributed no matter what the Trumps claim. And undoubtedly much to Donald personally — who claimed to run for office for personal profit.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      She claims that of over $26 million paid, her fees were roughly $1.68 million, leaving about $25 that went somewhere.

      Coincidentally, about the same time that the “party planner” was paid, so also was the $25 million Trump individually and personally owed for the settlement of his Trump University fraud. Trump’s tax returns must be as much of a fairy tale as the rest of his presidency.

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