The Evasion in Trump’s Response on the June 9 Meeting Statement: Did Putin Dictate the Statement?

As early as January 8, Robert Mueller’s team was asking Donald Trump what his role in this statement on the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering dirt on Hillary was; Don Jr’s lawyer released the statement  on July 8, 2017.

It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up. I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.

The answer Trump’s lawyers gave in January seems to admit Trump dictated the statement.

You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr. His son then followed up by making a full public disclosure regarding the meeting, including his public testimony that there was nothing to the meeting and certainly no evidence of collusion.56

This subject is a private matter with the New York Times. The President is not required to answer to the Office of the Special Counsel, or anyone else, for his private affairs with his children. In any event, the President’s son, son-in-law, and White House advisors and staff have made a full disclosure on these events to both your office and the congressional committees.57

Note: the statement is assuredly not accurate. The SJC materials show the Russian participants in the meeting spent weeks in November 2016 trying to follow-up, but the follow-up got deferred (maybe, or maybe not) because of new difficulties in scheduling.

In any case, saying that the notes, communications, and testimony “indicate” that Trump dictated the statement stops short of saying that he did so.

As a reminder, here’s the timeline of events leading up to that statement getting released.

Early July 7: NYT approaches WH officials and lawyers; WH schedules a conference call w/NYT for next morning.

July 7: Trump chats up Putin at dinner. (Note, whenever Melania decides it’s time to get revenge on Trump for treating her like shit, she can go tell Mueller what she overheard of this conversation.)

July 8, morning: Conference call doesn’t happen. NYT submits 14 questions about the meeting to the WH and lawyers of Trump campaign aides who attended the meeting (do these aides include all of Don Jr, Kushner, and Manafort?); Trump and his aides develop a response on Air Force One, with Hicks coordinating with Don Jr and his lawyer Alan Garten, who were both in NY, via text message.

July 8, afternoon: Jamie Gorelick provides a statement describing his revisions to his security clearance forms.

He has since submitted this information, including that during the campaign and transition, he had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition. Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows.

July 8, evening: Garten issues a statement in Don Jr’s name stating,

It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up. I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.

Right in the middle of this heated effort to respond to the NYT, Trump bizarrely spent an hour chatting Vladimir Putin up over dinner at the G-20 (yeah, I wrote that comment about Melania in February!). The question here is not just “why did you release such a partial statement that the documentary record proves is inaccurate?” Nor is it, “why did you emphasize adoptions — Russian code for sanctions — rather than the sanctions that were at the core of the meeting?”

It’s also the unstated question: “Did you dictate that statement? Or did Vladimir Putin?”

Here’s the nutty bit. We don’t actually have to speculate about whether that spin — adoptions rather than sanctions — came up in the chat between Putin and Trump. In an interview not long after news of the June 9 meeting broke, Trump actually told the NYT he and Putin were talking about adoptions.

TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.

HABERMAN: You did?

TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——

HABERMAN: The senators downstairs?

TRUMP: A lot of them. They said, “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”

By his own admission, Trump went from the July 7 dinner chat about adoptions with Putin and “dictated” a statement that just happened to focus, misleadingly, on adoptions.

So, yeah, the big question in this entire list is the unstated one: did you dictate that statement? Or did Putin?

76 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Trump is not being asked questions about family. He’s being asked questions about the actions of his campaign staff. And he does have to answer them.

    The mischaracterizations of Trump’s defense team are only going to get worse. Let’s see: Alka-Seltzer or craft beer. Hard choice.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Tossed into the spittoon.  Adoption was always code for its flipside – sanctions against Russian oligarchs.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”

    As usual, Trump gets it backward.  If the leader of a foreign country – considered America’s great enemy for half a century – offered material help to a presidential campaign, most politicians at the head of that campaign would not have taken the meeting.  They would have reported the offer to the FBI.

    The offer was always a poisoned chalice. Once Trump refused to report it and similar approaches, Putin’s hook was set. He could reel in his fish at his leisure.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      He was hooked long before the June 9 meeting, and I wonder how long you would have to go back to find the point of no return.

      I realize Trump’s brain never would have allowed it, but at what point could he have in theory gone to the Feds and said he was in over his head and he’d do whatever it took to get back in the good graces of the US government.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled that move domestically at some point in his casino days, and maybe even did it regarding international dealings in the past. Hopefully we’ll know the full history and when he got in too deep.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Never would have occurred to the Don.  Getting help to win, regardless of where it’s from, is winning.

        Going to the Feds to say he’d been approached with an offer it would have been illegal to accept would have been like going to the DA when approached with an offer to buy mob concrete at too good a price.  It would never occur to him.  He would regard it as stupid, naive and a lost opportunity.

        Then there’s that little sword hanging over the Don’s head: all that corrupt money that makes his house of cards stand upright.  Gone in a flash if he’d have gone to the Feds.  Might as well commit seppuku as do that.

        If you’re in too far to get out without self-destructing, the only rational course is to go further in.  The problem for a public employee, like the Don, is that that can be as sure a way to self-destruct as getting out.

        That would explain his present course – destroy the standards for his particular public employment. As for the consequences of that besides saving his ass, just collateral damage.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Not sure whether you are aware, or interested, but there is a publicly available profile on Trump, said to be an FBI profile of him, that was written Jan 2017 and has been well borne out by events. It’s available for downloads for a minimal cost on both Amazon and at iBooks.

          It focuses on Trump’s phenomenal narcissism, which has been alluded to around here.

          As a narcissist, he is world class.  There are not enough superlatives in the English language for his narcissism; he is sui generis.

          The rules don’t apply to him.  Never have, never will.

          Because  reporters, legitimate press, FBI, legal processes, bloggers, and political opponents threaten his sense of his own greatness, they must all be destroyed. In his mind, this is not only necessary, but ‘just‘ — because after all, threatening him perpetrates (in his mind) an injustice.  In this sense, by destroying all threats, he restores order to his world.

          He is a dictator by temperament, which makes him a sitting duck for people who see in him the kind of Useful Idiot they can manipulate with flattery and gifts in order to accomplish their objectives.  He appears to be naturally garrulous and gregarious: the better to flatter him, said the wolf…  He is the dream of every wannabe Walsingham.  Or Ray Cohn. Or Roger Stone.  Or, it now appears, Vladimir Putin or Erik Prince.

          You are not at all surprised, I presume, that his worldview does not include empathy.  He does not understand it, having never experienced it.  He tries to imitate it at times, but I have never seen him doing a convincing job of appearing to sympathize.  He’s bizarrely tone-deaf.  He can incite, he can inflame, he can insult: but not one of those skills requires empathy.

          It is worth noting how he reacts to people known to be high in empathy: for instance, Obama, despite his numerous shortcomings, was the personification of empathy.  Note how Trump reviles Obama and his many achievements.  Anything Obama did, he will undo; this appears to be Trump’s idea of ‘righting wrongs’. Or dismantling threats.  He has also repeatedly insulted Pope Francis, who is widely noted as a deeply empathetic man.

          Trump is almost reptilian  in any situation that requires empathy: he is a stranger in a strange land when he is among parents who have lost children to gun violence.  He lacks the physiological wiring to deal gracefully with such tremendous emotional demands — arguably, as a man who lacks empathy,  he excels in dominance, insults,  threats, belligerence, conflict, chaos, and manipulation.  He will avoid anything that requires empathy.  He will gravitate to any experience in which: (1) it’s all about him, and therefore (2) empathy is not relevant.

          Presumably, the very human trait of empathy is as foreign and unfamiliar to Trump as  the rings of Saturn are to the rest of us.  IOW, he lacks what the rest of us would call a ‘moral compass’, which may help explain why he is so pathetically susceptible to flattery.  Most of the time, flattery sets off our alarm bells if it is ‘over the top’; Trump does not seem to grasp the danger that his flatterers pose.  This may be a side-effect of being incapable of putting himself in anyone else’s shoes, but it makes him oddly vulnerable to avarice and manipulation.

          The Russians have surely learned how to flatter him, and IIRC the Chinese rolled out a red carpet for him.  They, too, have surely read the FBI profile — or their own versions of it.  Flattery, attention, power are the currency he most craves.  Thus has the GOP enabled a dangerous man, watching as he has been beguiled and manipulated by some rather clever predators: foreign, as well as domestic.

          He is probably not ‘destroying standards’ because he is malicious, but rather because he is desperate, and he will destroy anything that he perceives as a threat.  We are all, along with our laws and our governance, at very high risk of being Collateral Damage. For Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the GOP to leave a damaged, vulnerable man in a position of power is so irresponsible, puerile, and feckless that it literally takes my breath away.

          It seems more than bizarre that the First Lady, according to Bill Maher, has not been spotted for 22 days.  One would think the press would be more insistent in searching out details to such a baffling mystery.

          • Trip says:

            Not just Putin, but the Mercers via Bannon, The Kochs via the GOP, Netanyahu, and Kissinger is likely in there as a puppet master too.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The concern over Melania’s not appearing in public strikes me as voyeurism.  Unless she’s become an informant or a crime has been committed against her, it’s not a public matter. The Don prefers to parade around with his daughter, anyway.

            If Melania is seriously ill, the Don will announce it as soon as he can sort out how to benefit vicariously from it.  She might simply be trying to keep herself and her impressionable son from as much damage as possible, inevitable from being so close to the Don’s orbit.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Don is malicious and vindictive.  What’s been made public about his treatment of women and his addiction to public humiliation of those who “cross him” demonstrate that.

            Those traits are wholly consistent with his extreme narcissism.  It’s one reason he has a platoon of Michael Cohens at his disposal.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Agree on all points you’ve made, with the exception of FLOTUS being ‘private’.  Agree with you x10 on ‘malicious and vindictive’.

              However, the points we’ve both made about Trump, IMVHO, support this post’s hypothesis that his vulnerability to flattery, to persuasion of his own magnificence, could lead him to puppet whatever he’d heard from his bff Putin, as in “the June 6th meeting was about orphans’.  And it would be in character for him to insult, demean, and attempt to destroy anyone who questioned his veracity, or the sources of his information.

              (FWIW, I also agree with Trip, but could not get ‘reply’ to work on his/her comment.)


      • pwrchip says:

        “in theory gone to the Feds and said he was in over his head and he’d do whatever it took to get back in the good graces of the US government.”

        OK now that’s the embarcation point of going into the ‘Twilight Zone’

        • bmaz says:

          Intellectually or realistically? Because they are two different things. Intellectually, it is an extremely fair question. Given that Trump is one of the more factually and ethically ignorant and bankrupt humans in history, perhaps “realistically” is “Twilight Zone”. Which do you suggest?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Mind you, Dick Nixon, for example, was happy to take help from Taiwan, and was just as happy to manipulate foreign policy to aid both his election and his re-election.  But he did not take it from the PRC or USSR, the closer analogy to Trump’s receiving material help from Putin’s Russia.

      Running for president is not for the feint of heart.  It is the proverbial making of sausage, in a manner familiar to Upton Sinclair.  Literal bags of money were common forms of support through the 1970s.  Lots of what the public would consider dirty deals and much political back scratching, hiding of skeletons, and so on. A lot of people received undeserved favor, many were shat on.

      The particular behavior the law outlaws here, though, is foreign assistance.  Trump seems to have ignored that one, among the many.

    • aubrey mcfate says:

      Speaking of reeling in that big fish, from a rehabilitation piece on Melania from People magazine:

      In an interview for the upcoming Russian documentary World Order 2018, the Russian president confessed he “fibbed” to First Lady Melania Trump about the size of his catch on fishing trips when the two were seated next to each other at a dinner during the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last July.

      Putin said he chatted with Trump “about Russia. About Siberia. About fishing.”

      “But, of course, as you do on such occasions, I fibbed a little. When you are talking about fishing, how do you not embellish?” he joked.

    • seedeevee says:

      If the leader of a foreign country – considered America’s great enemy for half a century

      I think “portrayed” is much more accurate than “considered”.

  3. harpie says:

    Jed Shugerman @jedshug 

    Wow, read this blogpost by Marcie Wheeler aka @emptywheel and then thread by @southpaw.  “Did Trump or Putin dictate the letter on Trump Tower?” @emptywheel has been doing great work connecting dots. Follow.

    The end of NYC Southpaw’s thread:

    […] / imo it’s almost certain that word of these explosive questions posed by NYT to White House officials and lawyers Friday morning in DC reached Trump before dinnertime in Hamburg. If that’s right, Trump went into the discussion w Putin knowing he had to deal w Don Jr’s problem. / …and then he talked to Putin “about adoption” for an hour with no one taking notes.

  4. harpie says:

    Jed Shugerman @jedshug  

    Wow, read this blogpost by Marcie Wheeler aka @emptywheel and then thread by @southpaw. “Did Trump or Putin dictate the letter on Trump Tower?” @emptywheel has been doing great work connecting dots. Follow.

    The end of NYC Southpaw’s thread:

    […] / imo it’s almost certain that word of these explosive questions posed by NYT to White House officials and lawyers Friday morning in DC reached Trump before dinnertime in Hamburg. If that’s right, Trump went into the discussion w Putin knowing he had to deal w Don Jr’s problem. / …and then he talked to Putin “about adoption” for an hour with no one taking notes. 

    • Gamboler says:

      Putin’s translator is either a made man or he’ll wind up like Johnny Roastbeef in Goodfellas.

  5. Erin McJ says:

    Do we have a theory as to why this president, who is so famously unfettered by the truth, also has a habit of blurting things that do not serve him well to say aloud?

    • Trip says:

      He’s fascinated by the sound of his own voice. He’s used to being a fast talker who, in reality, doesn’t “say” much, so whatever he comes up with at the moment, he thinks is brilliant salesmanship.

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    If I were on the special counsel’s team, I would want to know exactly what version of the Tower story was being peddled to Circa before the G20, and get the people involved in that under oath. It seems as if Kasowitz and Corallo were in charge of one narrative, while Family Business lawyers Garten and Futerfas were managing another and were activated when the NYT got involved. (Where Hope Hicks was in relation to those two narratives is its own question.)

    • emptywheel says:

      Actually the opposite is true as I hope to show once I finish two very complex posts.

      But yeah, Mueller has had both sides under oath for this, save the Trump lawyers and Sr, for some time. Of course, Jr lied. But that’s the least of his problems.

  7. Palli says:

    So, basically (probably), Mueller’s team, since 1/29/18, has known about at least 1 count of trump obstruction because his lawyers, Dowd & Sekulow, told them in this letter. Did Dowd do it deliberately? Why did Dowd [wait to] resign 52 days later? Right?

  8. Palli says:

    So, basically (probably), Mueller’s team, since 1/29/18, has known about at least 1 count of trump obstruction because his lawyers, Dowd & Sekulow, told them in this letter. Did Dowd do it deliberately? Why did Dowd [wait to] resign 52 days later?

  9. Sabrina says:

    This whole thing just keeps getting worse. Re Trump and Putin, it’s always seemed odd to me that Trump, as an American, has had the Russian viewpoint of the US down pat since the beginning of his campaign. I mean, how many times did he state or insinuate that the US has “problems” (crime, corruption) comparable to other authoritarian led nation states? There’s that false equivalence between a free (flawed though well-intentioned) democracy like the US compared to the criminal organization of the Kremlin with a veneer of legitimacy. It’s easier for people to accept absolute rule if you can convince them that free democracies have just as many problems with corruption, which they disingenuously hide behind a facade of morality. And Trump is doing his best to convey that message to the US.

    I mention this only because it’s yet another example that Trump’s words (or actions, in regards to Don Jr’s statement) seem to always further the Russian agenda. I’d like to think that Trump is just blissfully clueless and by the worst luck imaginable, his viewpoint just happens to align with that of Putin’s- or, as is examined here, the real possibility that he is a spokesman of sorts for the Russian government. The latter possibility looks likely, given his use of the “adoptions” line and timing of possible coordination with Putin himself. Guaranteed Trump had no idea what the Magnitsky Act even was, and those reasons for the meeting wouldn’t have been thought up by him: one would have needed a nuanced view of Russian policy and sanctions to even present that as a possibility.

    When this is examined in the light of the rest of Trump’s authoritarian behaviors (such as the legal letter to the OSC outlining why The Supreme Leader- I mean, the President of the USA- is essentially above the law and exempt from prosecution) the question becomes whether there be a more naked display of Trump’s obsession with absolute power. These behaviors which flout the US rule of law- disregard for freedom of speech, press, etc; the many pardons he has already given- which are each becoming more egregious than the last. As a Canadian, this reimagining of your Constitution is frightening. I’d like to believe something similar couldn’t happen here- but this has shown the world what can happen when a divided electorate votes partly based on stoked divisions (with help from convenient vote totals that swung the EC in crucial states) and elects someone incapable of shame or empathy. Your constitutional republic is increasingly resembling a monarchy, given the amount of power that the president wields.

    The number of things that Trump has done in plain violation of the law should have been enough by now to genuinely consider whether he should continue to occupy his office. He s either woefully uneducated about his duties (best case scenario and almost impossible given what we know at this point) and therefore is not capable to discharge his duties, or is willfully corrupt. The legal defense to the OSC wherein the best they could come up with was not a counter to the charges but essentially a version of “so what? He’s the president and therefore legally entitled to do whatever he wants” is a shameless strategy, especially in light of an admission that Trump actively worked on Don Jr’s legal statement. However, given how any institutions that could act as checks on Trump’s power were either shamed into submission (like the House and Congress) or effectively dismantled, like the State Dept, his fitness for office may not be officially questioned for some time.

    Like many people, I am hoping for a blue wave but with the President’s disregard for norms, I wouldn’t be surprised if the midterm elections end up suspended in the “interests of national security”. I hope I’m very wrong on this.

    P.S. Apologies for this novel of a comment; with the cascade of new legal developments lately, I’ve thought a lot about what this may mean for the US. Please edit if needed. Thank you.

    • Trip says:

      This will interest you, if you haven’t read it yet. It plays upon the southern strategy, and the “victimization” angle of white people, racism, sexism, etc and the recent crop of conservatives. The Trump cult (within the small base), may be willing to dispense with democracy:

      White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy
      Social intolerance embodies an unwillingness to associate or fraternize with individuals whose cultural, racial, or religious ideas or ways differ from one’s own group. Such prejudice is a particularly thorny problem in the context of democracy, which is predicated upon extending representational access to all citizens irrespective of race or creed. To what extent, then, does this social intolerance affect individuals’ support for democratic institutions? Using World Values Surveys from 1995 to 2011, we find that intolerance toward cultural, ethnic, or racial ‘others’ reduces the value that white Americans assign to democracy. Perhaps more troubling, these attitudes also increase white individuals’ openness to undemocratic alternatives – white Americans who exhibit social intolerance are more likely to dismiss the value of separation of powers and to support army rule.

      • Sabrina says:

        Thanks for the article! I’m dismayed to see that the conservative viewpoint appears to be upheld while democratic norms are allowed to fail, but I’m not surprised. Ingroup- outgroup relations are strong emotional motivators, and especially when a group is feeling persecuted. They will often give up some of their own freedoms for not only their own “freedom from persecution” but almost as a retaliatory measure- if we can keep the “other”-group from having rights X, Y and Z, we will gladly do so even if it means we suffer under the new arrangement. Vindictiveness (a general term for a retaliatory desire so strong that one ends up harming one’s own self interest) is a common feature of outgroups and those perceived as losing their ingroup status.
        It’s not surprising that the result of the southern strategy (even the “lost cause” movement, etc) is a deep-seated resentment against those to blame for their current situation.

        • Trip says:

          Years and years of propaganda were all very successful, even to an extent under “New Dems”.  The ‘kicking the lowly dog’ approach (for the cost of his kibble), while the master raids all the pantries, has worked out well, for this to succeed. Color coding, (gender designation, as well), is the easiest way to put razor sharp focus on a target for blame/scapegoating. The mythical Rags to Riches (and mostly unattainable) American Dream being dangled like a carrot, while most are beaten with a stick, allows the outgroup to think they too will soon be the elite masters, and if not, they’ll settle for chaining up the dog.

          • Sabrina says:

            Pretty great analogy, actually. It’s sadly very apt, and says much about people in general that, in aggregate, they would rather hurt others as a consolation prize of sorts for not getting what they actually wanted in the first place.
            The fact that capitalism is predicated on such behavior and in fact, requires it to thrive is a very real fundamental problem with unfettered capitalism. It may work to grow a country that is lower-middle income, as people need that sense of drive, but as a country matures, that absolute self-interest runs contrary to the economic prosperity of the country as a whole. I guess at this point, when unfettered capitalism becomes harmful generally, is when the carrot and the stick of the American Dream diverge.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump, like much of global capital, has lost interest in territorial associations.  These have become fungible, ancillary to the most lucrative investment opportunity (fastest, largest resource extraction) of the moment.

      For more than two decades, Trump’s “success” has been built on offshore cash from foreign buyers of his properties, and from one-off foreign licensing deals from people still convinced his brand has value. His ties to the US are opportunistic.

      Trump has used the presidency to extend the lives of both.  His large investment in Indonesia – going forward thanks to $500 million in new Chinese money – is one example.  The refinancing of the Kushners’ 666 Fifth Avenue white elephant another.  He travels largely to his own properties, substantially increasing his revenue and costs to the taxpayer.  Foreigners are lining up to hire, at exorbitant rates, his signature property in DC.

      Congress has an opportunity to say, no, that’s not how we want our government to do business.  That would require, however, members to deal with the dissonance that would create, owing to their own lucrative lobbying, fundraising, and legislation and rule writing dependence on their patrons.

      Only a wave of successful progressive candidates – or Donald really committing a midday felony in the middle of Fifth Avenue – might generate the momentum needed for that to happen.

      • aubrey mcfate says:

        Do you or anyone else have a guess to whether any of these investigations (Cohen, OSC) will uncover an insider trading racket? I ask because of a few stories in the past couple days: 1. the release of jobs data 2. the quasi-legalization of corruption through pardoning, specifically of Blagojevich, but also Martha Stewart 3. the article about Trump “picking winners” 4. tariffs.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I think this is a great question, but I don’t know what kind of bandwidth issues there are. I think The Onion had a joke piece about Mueller getting hopelessly buried under all of the things he had to investigate.

          To add to your list, there was the apparent scam that Carl Icahn was running in the early days last year.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Wonderful synopsis.

        Also, this might be of interest: “36 Former Military and Civilian NatSec Leaders Urge US Congress to End Anonymous Shell Companies”.      
        Notably, Wyoming and Delaware are notorious US sites for anonymous shell companies.  Michael Cohen seems to have preferred Delaware.

        Where would Trump be without Cyprus Bank and anonymous shell companies? No doubt Sec of Commerce Wilbur Ross (formerly exec at Cyprus Bank, aka Russian Laundromat) will talk the GOP members out of any legislation to shut down shell corporations. Ought to be interesting to see whether Wilbur Ross prevails over the NSC, CIA, FBI, etc.

        • Sabrina says:

          Interesting look at the shell companies. It’s so hard to keep track of the many players in the game at this point. I was unaware of that proposal by NatSec civilian professionals, and though I hope it goes through- the shell companies benefit too many people to be fully destroyed. Thanks for the info, very interesting stuff!

      • Sabrina says:

        To Earl (sorry, reply button didn’t work properly and I couldn’t edit in time). This is very true. Interesting viewpoint, to see him as a transactional (and thus almost conditional) US citizen. Given how unemotional and transactional his life is (his marriages must be useful or are discarded, I’m sure his kids must also feel pressure to be “useful” to their father), looking at Trump as a US citizen only by legal status (since he is primarily Interested in his own resource generation at the risk of the well-being of the country) is definitely a new way to frame how we see his behavior.
        I don’t think the constitution ever foresaw the presidency being given to someone so utterly self-centered. Perhaps that’s why there’s such difficulty in maintaining any checks and balances, because the president must have some sense of the repercussions of his behavior for those checks to actually work.

  10. Willis Warren says:

    I’m not sure why more people don’t believe this. It was pretty obvious at the time and is entirely plausible given tRUmp’s own actions. Melania’s health issues are probably coming from this, too. Can you imagine the tremendous stress she’s under?

  11. aubrey mcfate says:

    I’m not knocking the Post (I think they had previously broken this story of the dictated memo), but the front-page article today on the NYT story describing how President Trump’s lawyers asserting dictatorial powers for him to obstruct justice under cover of legality casually tacks this on at the end, inside the fold: “In another episode Mueller has been probing, Trump’s lawyer conceded for the first time that in July 2017, Trump ‘dictated’ a statement to be released on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr. about a meeting that the son had taken with a Russian lawyer during the campaign.” For seeming lack of space, they nested a front-page story about obstruction of justice inside another front-page story about obstruction of justice, like Russian dolls. Maybe one big story would be appropriate here?

  12. aubrey mcfate says:

    I have a general layman’s question for everyone here. Is the interview, and the “negotiations” about it, all a red herring or a maguffin, or whatever you want to call it? Trump is of no value as a supposed non-target witness.  Can’t Mueller just issue the subpoena and then indict him when he defies it?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Mueller is playing a long straight game, no razzmatazz or Hail, Mary passes.  Trump, on the other hand, is throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

      Except for his relationship with Putin, which he doesn’t seem to want to rid himself of, the Don has never been in a situation he couldn’t buy or intimidate himself out of.  That’s changed, but the Don is sticking to what little he knows. 

      Maybe the Don hopes that Putin will exchange him at the Glienicke Bridge for Edward Snowden, two pounds of sausage and a can of heating oil.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        The Spygate nonsense appears to be fading away after Nunes found nothing he could leak to the public and Gowdy refused to play those reindeer games. There’ll be an attempt by idiots like Mark Meadows to get Rosenstein and Wray to deliver the entire investigation to the White House, but

        Mueller knows that this will move at some point from the legal/investigatory domain into pure politics, with pardons and an assertion of presidential impunity. It’s all about preparing for when.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, the “interview negotiations” are a complete ruse. Trump was never going to interview voluntarily, and was always going to challenge any subpoena. The rest is pure unadulterated crap relentlessly churned by Haberman, Baker, Schmidt, Stephanopolis and a supporting cast of 100’s.

      The “Trump is of no value as a supposed non-target witness” is dead wrong though. You ALWAYS want to get to the hub of a conspiracy, whether through interview, GJ testimony or trial. Always. Trump is a “non-target” only in that Mueller is unlikely to formally indict him. But he is VERY much a huge “subject” if not target de facto of the entire investigation. And he is more than capable of being referenced in any comprehensive indictments as an “unidicted co-conspirator”.

      Lastly, you do not get indicted for defying a GJ subpoena, you do get held in civil contempt, but that is likely unenforceable against a President protected by the Secret Service.

      • aubrey mcfate says:

        This actually answers my question, thanks. To clarify where I’m coming from, though, my assumption is that Mueller already knows he won’t get an interview. And I didn’t mean to suggest that he would indict him FOR defying a subpoena, but really asking another question: since he seems to know he won’t sit for an interview, might not the subpoena come as a kind of punctuation point on the investigation and thereby bring into relief just how much Trump has obstructed it? Or is that the kind of political consideration Mueller wouldn’t entertain? I realize no one has the answers to this, just asking for informed speculation.

        • bmaz says:

          No clue what Mueller would/will do in relation to a subpoena. And all kinds of smart people have differing thoughts on that. All sane commentators I know think the POTUS can be subpoenaed and the courts will find that legal. The breakdown comes as to ability to enforce that subpoena. Personally, I would do it just to make it clear that the President is not immune. But Mueller may well decide the hassle is not worth it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I imagine prosecutors would have liked to interview Al Capone, too.  They managed to obtain an indictment and conviction without it.  Mueller has a lot of other witnesses and targets to get through.  It will occupy him for quite some time, much to Donald’s chagrin.

        If Donald were to leave office on time or prematurely, there might be several crimes still within the statute of limitations.  There would then be no impediment to his indictment and prosecution, although Trumpistas would invent some, because an indictment of Trump would be an indictment of the whole party now behind him.

      • aubrey mcfate says:

        I understand that he is the real “target”. The reason he really he really needs to be indicted for the conspiracy is that it’s an ongoing one to defraud the public through violating election law and maybe actually manipulating elections. And it’s an ongoing assertion of dictatorial power to obstruct investigations and legalize corruption though pardons.

        I’m not sure what to make of Giuliani’s jeering tone, or oh-gosh feigned befuddlement, but sometimes it seems like straight-up trolling, other times the threat of some madman gambit. On a self-pardon:

        “You think it’s an open question?” Stephanopoulos asked.
        “It would be an open question,” Giuliani said. “I think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that’s what the Constitution says, and if you want to change it, change it, but yeah.”
        “I think the political ramifications of that would be tough,” Giuliani added later. “Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another.

        This gangsterism really needs to be punished with arrests and indictments, not indulged as some constitutional question.

        • bmaz says:

          For better or worse, the Indict/Don’t Indict battle point has been drawn, thanks in part to an accepting media. But, same as we commonly here say about Trump, the bounds of American jurisprudence and rule of law ought not be used as a momentary cudgel because Trump.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Are there other sanctions possible for defying a grand jury summons, such as fines?  I’m sort of surprised there aren’t alternative methods of bringing pressure when forcing an appearance is tough.

  13. aubrey mcfate says:

    People don’t like Maggie Haberman, but this elicitation of incriminating statements about the Putin meeting is really astonishing. And I’d like to know which “Senators downstairs”, if there actually were any.

    • SteveB says:

      The interview was 19 July 2017, and occurred shortly after a lunch T had with Republican senators.

      T initially seems to claim that many of those people have said they would have taken the [Trump Tower 9 June ] meeting, but almost immediately walks back from it.

      The how and the why of various evasions T employs in that interview, in the light of subsequent knowledge of the background, would be an interesting study.

      On the particular point raised by EW the Putin discussion at dinner:when asked directly about it Trump goes on at inordinate length about the opera, the cocktails the seating plan, how he likes to sit next to Melania, so he would have someone to talk to,how the dinner was like 1 hour and 45 mins, implying that the conversation with diners near to him was stilted, etc etc all as a set up to speak to Melania and coincidentally Putin for only may be 15 minutes, cf the 1hour it apparently took for them to speak together about…..?

      The reference to the senators is a non sequitor, but one clearly designed to move the interview away from discussion of the Putin discussion.

    • bmaz says:

      Haberman is an extremely smart and accomplished reporter, and I respect that greatly. The problem I have with her is that she relentlessly soft sells and excuses Trump and his White House’s worst characteristics in order to maintain her access. The entire NY Times seems to be in lockstep in that fashion. And they were prior to the election both in that regard, and in the way they disgustingly pumped the anti-Clinton derangement. There are a LOT of people that view Haberman et. al through this prism.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Which means we have, in part, the New York Times to thank for Donald in the first place.

        • aubrey mcfate says:

          As we do for the Iraq war. By the way, I noticed another columnist (after Nicholas Kristof, Fareed Zakaria, others) defending the Libby pardon the other day, this time Ruth Marcus at the Post. She wrote a column about Trump’s last tranche of pardons where, as an aside, she said the Libby pardon was “more justifiable”. The opposition to persecuting Libby or his sidekick Judith Miller dovetails pretty neatly with support for that invasion. If we every manage to get rid of Trumpism we’ll still have these people to deal with.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Regardless of whether the likes of Marcus approved of the Iraq war, one would think they would regard the lying and obstruction as reprehensible.  So, too, its pardon.  It undermines public government.  It prevented further investigation and prosecution of more important crimes and criminals, which might have included Cheney and Bush.  That left them free to commit further crimes.  Preventing their exposure and liability was, of course, the whole point of Libby’s crimes.

            Press approval of Libby’s pardons – however unjustifiable – would not surprise Herman or Chomsky.  The mainstream press’s job, according to their research, is to manufacture consent for government and elite conduct.  Not to question it.

        • harpie says:

          Here’s a good thread from Dan Froomkin

          NYT wrote: 

          Mr. Trump’s lawyers fear that if he answers questions, either voluntarily or in front of a grand jury, he risks exposing himself to accusations of lying to investigators, a potential crime or impeachable offense


          Consider that this unsourced and yet in no way qualified paragraph is the Times clearly indicating that they were told things directly by Trump’s lawyers, but only on condition that then not attribute it to anyone at all. […]So what exactly did the Times reporters promise Trump’s lawyers? Did they promise to publicly leave open the possibility that the leak came from Mueller’s team?

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Maggie’s reporting style (and her director’s commentary on Twitter) is equal parts subtweet and savvy: she’ll refrain from drawing conclusions in her bylined pieces because she’s “just reporting”, and then snark on Twitter that those conclusions should be obvious to everybody.

        • bmaz says:

          All the while STILL cynically covering for the same.

          THAT is, and maybe it is just me (but I know a lot of others), exactly what drives me nuts about Haberman. And, again, I here use Haberman as a cutout for the Times and a LOT of others.

          • Bob Conyers says:

            It’s extremely important to include the editors at the NY Times. From Baquet on down there’s an open scorn for criticism and an insistence that the Times is only making purely objective choices.

            A lot of the sins of the Times have to do with headlines, placement of stories and story structure, and those are areas where editors have a lot of sway over reporters.

            And you’re right that it’s not just the Times — NPR, AP and CNN are also major culprits in churning out bad stories, and they also have very bad editorial involvement that is wrecking a lot of their product, combined with a high degree of arrogance about their supposed neutrality.

            • orionATL says:

              about those nytimes editors (“from baquet on down”).

              i could not agree with you more.

              it will be a great day if ever we can see just what editors do to pasteurize reporters’ work.

              it’s simple. editors’ names should always go with the article. why do they not?

  14. Rusharuse says:

    500 daze of haze . . According to Gallup data (according to Axios): “Comparison at the 500 day mark–Trump has the second highest “own party” rating of any president since WW2, bested only by George dubya (after 9/11)”. Seems these Republican folks march to a different drum (and fife). Time to load muskets . .



    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      As ever with party-ID polls, a lot of “independents” are fairly traditional Republicans who don’t want to identify as Republicans.

  15. johno says:

    Off topic, but, apparently the guy Trump want to shoot, in the middle of 5th Avenue, is Comey! And he doesn’t want to see any fucking Mercedes there while he’s doing it.

  16. Rugger9 says:

    There is also the problem of the voter rolls, and understand that the suppressed vote (mostly D) was orders of magnitude higher than the number of votes needed to flip the election.  All it would take is someone pulling Ds off of the rolls without telling them. There were reports of this happening in heavy-D precincts in battleground states.

    Also, the GOP is doing nothing at all about this.

  17. pwrchip says:

    bmaz says:
    June 3, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Intellectually or realistically? Because they are two different things. Intellectually, it is an extremely fair question. Given that Trump is one of the more factually and ethically ignorant and bankrupt humans in history, perhaps “realistically” is “Twilight Zone”. Which do you suggest?

    Yes, it is a fair & intellectual Q, my response was towards the idea that Trump would even consider such an action as admitting he was over his head to the Feds, that would enter into the realm of the “The Twilight Zone”
    Its not in TD’s DNA for his brain to process a hint of moral fortitude & everyone minus his base knows this. Frankly, it was a piss poor attempt at humor on my part, sorry for the distraction.

    • bmaz says:

      Naw, that is probably on me. There is nothing easy these days. No distraction whatsoever, and sorry if my inquiry came off as prickish, Was not really meant that way.

  18. orionATL says:

    this HTML class. Value is https://www.nytimes.**


    gosh, we were just speaking of this presidential evasion:

    “…  NYTimes,  Trump Team Pushed False Story Line About Meeting With Kremlin-Tied Lawyer, Memo Shows…

    By Matt Apuzzo

    June 4, 2018

    WASHINGTON — For nearly a year, the denials from President Trump’s lawyers and spokeswoman were unequivocal. No, the president did not dictate a misleading statement released in his son’s name….”


    ** why do i often get this nuisance notice when i try to enter a citation at this website, along with multiple ‘&nbsp’.


  19. Seaton says:

    Read the whole thread. Informed and eloquent; you people have the best words.

    I posit, T and the Dunning Kruger effect

    “As described by social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the cognitive bias of illusory superiority results from an internal illusion in people of low ability and from an external misperception in people of high ability; that is, “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.” wikipedea

    That latter case is manifest as social incompetence and a general lack of worldly success.
    Leaving the former my only explanation for the behaviours exhibited by the Trump.

    D/K E infused with narcissism, greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, wrath and pride makes for, at best, an intoxicating beverage for those at the party but its’ a very dangerous brew for those behind the wheel.

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