On the Eve of the June 9 Trump Tower Meeting Anniversary, Putin Tells Trump to Keep His Campaign Promises

I’ve long argued that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump engage in a kind of signaling, perhaps fueled by some kind of back channel.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at the last few days of public statements. First, in an interview recorded Thursday, Putin was asked whether he was beginning to prepare for a summit with Trump. Among other things, Putin said that Trump knows how to listen even in spite of what the reporter cued as “domestic pressure,” and fulfills his campaign promises. Putin said Trump promised to improve Russian-American relations but the ball was in the American court. (This WaPo story on the interview may have better translations of the Russian.)

Two short clarifications on the events of the last week, and I understand that there is very little time. Recently, on the air of “Vesti on Saturday”, information appeared with reference to The Wall Street Journal, which, in turn, referred to sources in the White House that the Americans had begun training – as they say, at an early stage – to Trump’s meeting with you . Have you started this training?

“This was discussed from the very beginning, after the election of Mr. Donald Trump as President of the United States.” And we from the very beginning responded to this, that we believe that such personal meetings are expedient, and not only possible. We met with the President of the United States at international venues. Of course, this does not give an opportunity to give due attention to Russian-American relations. In general, I think this meeting is useful. The only question is that the domestic political situation in the United States allows this.

– And how to deal with them, given that Trump is largely hostage to the domestic political process? Even if you meet and agree, they will let him carry out what you potentially negotiate?

“The experience I have with the President of the United States suggests that, despite the fact that his actions are often criticized, especially recently, including in the international arena and in the sphere of the economy, after all this experience tells me that he is a thoughtful man, he knows how to listen and responds to the arguments presented by the interlocutor. All this gives me reason to believe that dialogue can be constructive.

– Recently he received the closest allies: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Macron. And the meetings, especially with Macron, were caress in the flesh, embraces, almost kisses and so on. And then it takes literally a week and a half, and it was worthwhile for the Europeans to raise their voice, including, I think, because of this, what you call sanctions, in particular, increased tariffs for aluminum and steel , is introduced . Are not you afraid of such “affectionate” embraces of Americans who now say: let’s prepare a meeting, and then you will meet with Trump, you will be exposed to such conditions. Or with you this will not work?

– The fact is that this does not pass with anyone. And the relationship between the leaders of states should be acceptable, civilized. But this does not preclude the adoption of decisions that this or that leader consider important and expedient for his country. It is possible to treat differently the decisions that are made in the United States, including the US president. You can criticize. Indeed, there is much that deserves criticism. But there is one circumstance about which I have already spoken: Trump fulfills his promises given to them during the election campaign.

– With one exception: to improve Russian-American relations.

– One of the promises is to improve Russian-American relations. I hope that this too will take place. In any case, we are ready for this. The ball, I believe, on the American side, on the American court.

On Friday, Trump said that Russia should be readmitted into the G-7, just before he premised leaving the G-7 early based on whether the other countries capitulate on tariffs.

Q (Inaudible) G6-plus-one?

THE PRESIDENT: It may be. You can call it anything you want. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It used to be the G8 because Russia was in it. And now Russia’s not in it.

Now, I love our country. I have been Russia’s worst nightmare. If Hillary got in, I’d think Putin is probably going, “Man, I wish Hillary won.” Because you see what I do. But, with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend, and it’s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. They should be a part of it.

You know, whether you like it or not — and it may not be politically correct — but we have a world to run. And in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in. Because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.

Q Mr. President, why did you decide to cut (inaudible) short?

THE PRESIDENT: Say it? What?

Q You’re leaving a little early from the summit. Why did you decide (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: I may leave a little bit early. It depends on the timing. But I may leave a little bit early. And it depends what happens here.

Look, all of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade. You saw where Canada charges our dairy farmers 270 percent tariffs. We don’t charge them, or if we do, it’s like a tiny percentage. So we have to straighten it out.

We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out. And I’ll tell you what, it’s what I do. It won’t even be hard. And in the end, we’ll all get along.

But they understand. And you know, they’re trying to act like, “Well, we fought with you in the war.” They don’t mention the fact that they have trade barriers against our farmers. They don’t mention the fact that they’re charging almost 300 percent tariffs. When it all straightens out, we’ll all be in love again.

Trump acted like a sullen toddler throughout the G-7, agreed to the communique, then backed out, blaming Justin Trudeau, ostensibly for publicly saying Canada would adopt retaliatory tariffs in response to Trump’s steel tariffs. (Trudeau had spoken most forcefully against readmitting Russia). On leaving, he reiterated his support to readmit Russia, even in spite of their actions in Crimea.

Q Mr. President, David Herszenhorn with Politico Europe. Just to come back to Russia for a second. Something that happened that got them kicked out of the G8 was the invasion and annexation of Crimea. Do you think that Crimea should be recognized as Russian (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, you have to ask President Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away. That was during his administration. And he was the one that let Russia go and spend a lot of money on Crimea, because they’ve spent a lot of money on rebuilding it. I guess they have their submarine port there and such. But Crimea was let go during the Obama administration. And, you know, Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude. So you’d really have to ask that question to President Obama — you know, why did he do that; why did he do that. But with that being said, it’s been done a long time.

Q But you would allow Russia back into the G8 with Crimea still (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: I would rather see Russia in the G8 as opposed to the G7. I would say that the G8 is a more meaningful group than the G7, absolutely.

As Putin was leaving the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, after making comments about Trump’s trade wars hurting Europe, Putin again said he was ready to meet, though said it is important that the summit be “filled with specific content.”

Question: Mr President, there is real drama unfolding around the G7 summit in Quebec and inside the G7 itself: disagreements over Russia’s possible return, over tariffs, and more controversy. In this regard, how do you assess the proposal made by Trump and the Italian Prime Minister on Russia’s return to the format, given that the purchasing power parity in the SCO is actually higher than in the G7?

Vladimir Putin: As for Russia’s return to the G7, or G8 – we have never withdrawn from it. Our colleagues refused to come to Russia at some point for well-known reasons. We would be happy to see everyone in Moscow, they are welcome. That is first the first thing.

Second. As for the efficiency and volume of the economy, indeed, the purchasing power parity (this is IMF data) of the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is already higher than in the G7 countries. Yes, it is, the PPP is higher.

True, the seven are still richer in per capita income, as they say, but the SCO economies are larger, and their population is much larger, too – half the world’s population.

As for the various difficulties in the negotiation process within the G7, I need to take a look at this, I do not know the details. Of course, this is also of interest, these are the largest economies in the world.

We can see that there are internal problems there. Well, it happens. You know, when I look at our debates in the EAEU, we also have disputes and do not unanimously sign everything at the same time. I think this is common practice. It is necessary to deal with this calmly and without any irony.

I would draw attention to one more circumstance, which, in my opinion, is more significant than any emotional outbursts. What do I mean? As far as I know, the President of the United States said the US is considering the possibility of regulating the additional supply of automotive equipment in the US market.

This is a serious matter. This can really hurt the economic interests of so many countries, above all European, of course. Well, let us see how things will really unfold. This is of significant importance for the entire world economy.


Question: There have been reports that Austria is ready to host the US-Russia summit between you and Donald Trump. Can you confirm this? Perhaps you discussed this when you were in Austria? And when will you meet with Trump? Everyone is looking forward to it. Many problems have accumulated.

Vladimir Putin: The President of the United States has repeatedly said that he considers this meeting expedient, and I agree that this is indeed the case. I can reiterate, in our last telephone conversation he expressed his concern about the threat of a new round of the arms race. I agree with him.

But to discuss this specifically, our respective foreign ministries need to work, and experts need to work very closely together. Personal meetings are certainly necessary as well. As soon as possible. As soon as the American side is ready, this meeting will be held immediately, depending on my work schedule.

About the location. We did not talk about this in detail, but many countries are willing to render such assistance to us, including several European countries, Austria among them. I have not heard anything else. But I think this is a technicality. What is important is that the meeting, if it takes place, is filled with specific content.

Given the way Trump blew up the G-7, I really wonder whether Putin has a greater threat over Trump than we know — something far, far greater than the goddamned pee tape. Trump has always seemed anxious to reassure Putin that he, himself, is not under investigation (indeed, that seemed to be one reason Trump raised the Comey firing at the May 10, 2017 meeting with Sergei Lavrov). It’s almost as if, as Robert Mueller gets closer and closer to Trump, Putin raises the stakes as well.

And this weekend, after Putin demanded that Trump keep his campaign promises, Trump made havoc of a key alliance.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.

99 replies
  1. Trip says:

    This is getting truly terrifying. We are in gravely abnormal, treacherous times, with a sociopathic man-baby in charge and a GOP majority who are complicit in this impending doom.

  2. PC says:

    There is no way Trump has any interest in the G-7 or its history as the G-8. The only way he would know to demand Russia be reinstated is if it were communicated to him recently. A back channel would make a lot of sense.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The most apt quote, paraphrased, from the Manchurian Candidate.  Senator Thomas Jordan to Mrs. Johnny Iselin – a Russian handler and mole – on why he would spend everything he has and all he could borrow to defeat Senator Iselin’s bid for the White House:

    There are people who think of Johnny the Don as a clown and a buffoon, but I do not. I despise John Iselin Donald Trump and everything that Iselinism Trumpism has come to stand for. I think, if John Iselin Donald Trump were a paid Soviet Russian agent, he could not do more to harm this country than he’s doing now.

    • Anon says:

      @earlofhundingdon While I agree with your assessment of the damage keep in mind that there are others who are benefiting from Trump’s actions, notably China who has actually transferred wealth more or less directly to him through investments and special grants and for whom he has done some major things (ZTE) while all the while saying bad things.

      If you think about it so far Trump has threatened, and been in a position to do, far worse to China than he has been to Canada, but in Canada’s case he actually did it. In China’s case he keeps pulling back or, in the case of ZTE, rushing to reverse actual harm. Even Navarro knows that the gravest threat to our economic position is not the Canuks so why tee off on them when you could take a partial win on NAFTA and then gang up on Belt and Road?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s all about Trump.  In the case of China, I would say it’s also about $500 million it promised to invest in that Indonesian development, which made it viable and resurrected a Trump project.  It’s more complicated, but that’s a headline example.

      • Desider says:

        I imagine Putin’s a bit pissed about China getting all the rewards for Russia’s successful infowar.

        I took Trump’s actions as a direct attack & challenge for the G7 – unless they bring back Russia into the fold, he’s going to use all the resources of the US to keep attacking them in whatever way. Pure extortion.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Putin doesn’t care if he gets credit, indeed he is happier to be able to continue operating in the shadows.

          One thing to remember about PRC, however, is that for them the Korean Peninsula is a dagger pointed at their industrial heart, which is why they intervened in the war after the 38th parallel was crossed, letting the UN get all the way to the Yalu.  McA was fired for wanting to bomb Red China, and Truman understood that might be too much to handle as a more general war.  People tend to forget he was a veteran as well.

          The PRC will be orchestrating something in Singapore (which has a large Chinese elite) through who I would describe as their annoying little brother KJU.  Maybe, the Nine-Dash Line will be made official (which will piss off Duterte, as well as Japan and Taiwan).

  4. Bob Conyers says:

    “more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.” Leaving aside the question of something like a tape of Trump in a hotel room, how hard would it be for Putin to release damning information on Trump without it backfiring on Russia? What, exactly might that information be?

    To be honest, I’m not sure Trump would be too stressed if Putin held over his head evidence of $100 million in money laundering or $20 million in bribes. And if Putin did arrange for release of this information, I’m not sure how that doesn’t risk more of the investigations and sanctions that seem to put a bur under his saddle.

    I think Trump’s fear of Putin is real, but I’m still lacking a sense of what is behind it.

    • emptywheel says:

      Two things.

      First, I suspect a concerted Russian effort could take out the Trump business.

      And I do wonder–suspect, actually–that Trump agreed to “terms” at some point that made him complicit in direct attacks on the US.

      • Trip says:

        I still think there is a consortium of other forces who made a deal with the devil. The Kochs, Mercers, Netanyahu, Kissinger, China and misc. Russian oligarchs, Putin, to name a few. The coordination on other things in the past, and the larger picture of slicing up the globe. Not to sound nutty, but the actual shadow government comprised of the most wealthy and powerful.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          It’s not far from London to Ole Miss.


          A British professor testified Wednesday in the second day of a hearing in Hinds County Chancery Court in a lawsuit filed on behalf of British citizens trying to prove their private data ended up in Mississippi.

          The lawsuit is against two British businesses: Big Data Dolphins Ltd. and Eldon Insurance Services Ltd.

          Kaiser told Parliament she believed leaders of the campaign backing the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union had misused private data from Eldon Insurance and the U.K. Independence Party during the campaign. Arron Banks, who controls Eldon, and Andy Wigmore told multiple people they were going to create “their own Cambridge Analytica” at the University of Mississippi using her proposals, Kaiser testified.

          After Kaiser’s testimony, the Fair Vote Project sued in Mississippi state court, seeking a permanent order barring Eldon and Big Data Dolphins from altering, destroying or transferring any data in Mississippi. The organization says any transfer of data to the United States would break British law, and it wants to prove that Cambridge Analytica, Banks and Wigmore acted illegally to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 referendum.

          [I want to know same about US 2016 election]


          In a June 4, 2018, letter about the lawsuit, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office cite Kaiser’s testimony as one of the main reasons for their interest in the case.

          “We have reason to believe that much of this data evidence is held at the University of Mississippi, and, if so, would be keen to obtain it for the purposes of our investigation,” the letter says.

          The letter was not successfully introduced into evidence in Judge Denise Owen’s courtroom, but Dorsey Carson, who is representing Taylor (and also does legal work for the Jackson Free Press), provided this newspaper with a copy. The ICO actually asks the court to rule in Taylor’s favor.

          “… The ICO therefore respectfully requests that the Court grants the preservation order relating to the data in question applied for by Fair Vote Project in order to allow the ICO the time it requires to establish contact with the University of Mississippi and conduct its thorough investigation,” the letter continues.

      • GKJames says:

        Does “direct attacks on the US” refer to the hacking of election machinery in various states or something else?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I agree that Trump seems afraid of what Putin might have and use to damage Trump, if Trump does not play Putin’s game.  I suspect a similar dynamic affects Manafort, though his predicament is probably more physical.

      The most obvious candidate for what Putin has on Trump is not a pee tape.  Trump could talk his way out of that as easily as he did the pussy tape.  His base believes in him as a matter of faith.  Trump’s faults only make his base love him more.  It is their duty, as good Christians [sic], to forgive his sins, especially if they harm non-Christians and people of color.  If his sins be crimes, their acceptance is all the more necessary.

      Putin is not affected by that strange American dynamic.  His calculations are about power and how to use it.

      The most likely thing Putin has on Trump is hard information about Trump’s financial crimes.  Trump has relied on Deutsche Bank and Russian-oligarch related money for two decades, ever since banks stopped lending to him because of his string of failures and six bankruptcies.

      The potential scope of such crimes is considerable.  Money laundering probably tops the list.  Accounting and tax fraud, mail and wire fraud, extortion, the list is long.  Then there’s ConFraud US and obstruction.  Disclosure could cost Trump the White House, his empire, his freedom.

      If Putin has such information and decided he needed to use it, it would come out in the most destructive way imaginable for Trump and his party.  That would guarantee Trump’s slavish following of Putin’s line, and the GOP’s too.

      • Ed Walker says:

        This sounds right to me. I’ve thought all along that Deutsche Bank was the key to unraveling Trump’s businesses and implicating him in money laundering. The link to Russia’s oligarchs through a process of “deposits” at Deutsche Bank with the express intent that the funds be loaned to Trump businesses is enough of a link for Mueller.

      • Willis Warren says:

        The statute of limitations on Money Laundering is 5 years.  That means that this dirt would have to be very, very recent.  Most likely, tRUmp agreed in principle to the Russian hacks before they happened.  He agreed to run as a thorn in the side of Clinton, perhaps even independently.

        The Republicans were already bought and paid for by the Kochs.  Selling out to Putin or whoever, at this point, is probably not a big leap.

        Also, Putin may know something about past elections.  I’m still wondering about Ohio in 2004.

        • Valley girl says:

          Okay, I’m writing this in bits b/c of previous troubles posting.

          I looked up Statute of limitations.
          Money Laundering Statute of Limitations
          According to the strictures of federal law, no one can be prosecuted, be brought to trial or be subject to legal penalty for any offense that is not capital unless information is instituted or the person has been indicted within five years of committing the offense. (See 18 USC 3282)

          • Valley girl says:

            any offense that is not capital

            The capital offenses include espionage, treason, and death resulting from aircraft hijacking.  (etc.)

            The US federal government lists 41 capital offenses that are punishable by death. See the full list below.


            My first guess, long ago, was that Trump would be brought down by money laundering offenses…

            • SpaceLifeForm says:

              It’s not just Trump. And the laundering continues, so the conspirators keep resetting the clock.

              • Trip says:

                Mueller also got a court to suspend the statute of limitations. This was the first I learned it was possible to do so.

  5. SteveB says:

    Photo reminds me of the painting
    “And when did you last see your father?”( W F Yeames)

  6. SteveB says:

    @ Bob Conyers

    You are not alone in struggling to make sense of what the kompromat Putin has on Trump and how it may be deployed.
    Usually for blackmail to work the blackmailee has to believe that the blackmailor is ready willing and able to make good on the threats.

    You raise the question about how Putin could reveal kompromat without it backfiring on him?

    Well there is the advice contained in “The Russian propaganda guide to stealing your roomate’s burrito” on global.com 10 June 18

    But more seriously, does Putin worry about blowback generally? And what would blowback on him if revelations occurred demonstrating Trump family money laundering of funds ‘no-one can prove ‘ ™ has anything to do with the Russian Govt or Putin, just you know pesky emigre oligarchs?

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I don’t think Putin would be worried in terms of any legal threats. I do think he would be concerned about losing his hostage, though. Trump is worth a lot more to Putin alive than dead, as it were.

      Whether Trump realizes this and can use it as leverage is another question, I guess. And it’s possible that Putin has enough information stored up and enough ways of doling out information in painful bites that it keeps Trump in line. We may well see.

  7. eh says:

    If there’s anything to the charges, I’d assume Putin’s kompromat would touch upon the Doe v. Trump/Epstein case.

  8. cfost says:

    There is Compromat. There is PsyOps. Then there is what someone did to Trump’s mind, which is similar to what was done to Jason Bourne’s mind. Is Trump the only one? What about Rohrabacher, Nunes, Page, Farange, and others? In my view, this is beginning to look less like control or conquest, and more like looting, especially if one factors in Brexit, UAE, Ross, Mnuchin, Pruitt, Manafort, Murdoch, etc. While we are seeing politics and diplomacy, “they” are seeing money making opportunities.

  9. Bob Conyers says:

    Thanks for the answer. I agree that both are serious threats to Trump, what I’m still foggy about is how Putin would pull off a reveal without a lot of blowback on Putin, such as throwing the US government back to the anti-Russia coalition or inspiring a new wave of punitive sanctions.

    Maybe what we’re looking at is a MAD pact, although right now it seems like the balance is heavily skewed toward Putin. Possibly that’s a sign of Trump being a lousy poker player who folds every time against a strong player.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I think I clicked the wrong reply button — just to be clear, that was a reply to EW.

  10. bie phiephus says:

    Why do we always assume that the thing Putin has on Trump is kompromat?  Does Trump even fear that? He seems to believe that he is immune to it.

    Maybe instead of information of financial dealings, Putin’s leverage is actually financial. Can Putin force Deutsche Bank to call Trump’s loans or in some other way directly bankrupt Trump?

      • bie phiephus says:

        I guess I wasn’t clear. My point was that instead of releasing information (financial or otherwise) that would embarrass or implicate Trump in wrongdoing, Putin’s leverage might be that he could cause Trump direct financial harm. Maybe it’s forcing a bank to call a loan to Trump, maybe it’s terminating a secret deal to give Trump part of a Russian oil company.

        In other words, rather than blackmailing Trump, maybe Putin is bribing Trump. And if Trump doesn’t behave, he loses his bribe.

        In all likelihood, it’s a combination of both, but I think the latter is being overlooked as a Trump motivator.


        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Based on Trump’s desperate efforts to please Putin, before and after the election and since Trump entered office, Trump is responding to fear, not anticipating pleasure.

          • Bob Conyers says:

            He’s raising a valid issue in my opinion, though. It’s possible Trump is heavily leveraged and needs Putin to keep the money flowing or his properties will go under. Without knowing more about Trump’s finances it’s hard to say, but Mueller probably has a good idea.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Putin is Putin.  He is at the top of the hierarchy and oligarchy in Russia, where government, economy, military and intelligence converge.

      Given Trump’s inherited wealth, hedonism, profligacy, indiscipline, ineptitude, anger, and self-doubt, there is no doubt he has left plenty of dirt in his 50-year wake.  Since the dirt is there, Putin will find it.  He has and will use it.

      Trump is abundantly ignorant, crude, cruel, racist, misogynist, vindictive, and self-obsessed.  Reasons aplenty that make him the worst president in modern America.  On top of that, Putin holds influence over Trump, his empire and his presidency.  Neither is America’s friend.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I don’t think Putin could make Deutsche Bank call the loans unless Trump is in default. Then all bets are off. In fact, if I were doing this, I’d keep the term of the loans short, a few years, so I could call them in easily. Surely Trump isn’t that big a dope, though, right? Right?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I suspect Putin probably could.  He could have withdrawn any security for them, for example, that might be provided by oligarchs.  But the easier method, as you say, is to make loans using demand or short term notes that can be rolled over – or not.

  11. jo blow says:

    so what were the campaign promises trump made? here are 4 of them from patrick armstrong.
    “We start with four remarks Trump often made while campaigning. Everyone would be better off had President Bush taken a day at the beach rather than invade Iraq. The “six trillion dollars” spent in the Middle East would have been better spent on infrastructure in the USA. NATO is obsolete and the USA pays a disproportionate share. It would better to get along with Russia than not.

    To the neocon and humanitarian intervention crowd, who have been driving US foreign policy for most of the century, these four points, when properly understood (as, at some level, they do understand them), are a fatal challenge. Trump is saying that

    the post 911 military interventions did nothing for the country’s security
    foreign interventions impoverish the country;
    the alliance system is neither useful nor a good deal for the country;
    Russia is not the once and future enemy.”

    “Trudeau had spoken most forcefully against readmitting Russia.” canada has chrystia freeland, a women who owns an apt. in kiev, ukrainian ancestry and as foreign minister of foreign affairs.. she may as well be sitting in the ukraine parliament as canada’s for what she says on the topic of russia.. canada continues to move towards becoming increasingly irrelevant on the world stage with both trudeau and freelands help..

    • dc says:

      The issue, dear comrade, is that points three and four are intertwined and designed to serve the interests of a corrupt dictator. And the vessel of your salvation is a wannabe dictator who is happy to destroy American liberties to empower the same.  No thank you.

      • jo blow says:

        who needs a wanna be dictator to destroy american liberties, when there’s the nsa and all the corrupt politicians, etc catering to the corporations 24/7?

  12. SteveB says:

    @ Bob Conyers 3:55

    Thanks for reply.

    I was interested to note your comment regarding storing up information and letting it out in dribs and drabs. This has always seemed to me to be very likely.

    Indeed, I would hazard that the information runs the gamut from inconvenient and irritating to absolutely devastating.

    It would not surprise me, as with the market testing of the trolling messages in the election, that there has been ‘market testing’ of some sort to see how Trump has reacted to awkward material about him getting into the public domain. For example it has always been striking that the “Access to Hollywood” tape and the release of email stuff coincided. One reading is that the latter was conveniently timed to help him out, which of course it did. But it occurs to me that the pressure on Trump created by the release of the tape served Putin’s interests very well at the time. Now, I have no reason to think that the Russians were behind the release of the tape: but the point is that stunts of this nature, manipulations involving sticks and carrots would be of a peice with skilled practitioners of the art of blackmail.

  13. Peacerme says:

    As someone who has spent a life time specializing in personality disorders (sexual assault, perpetrators, victims both, sexual abuse, domestic violence-30 years), I suspect, that Putin will further use trump to destroy the western block and that his plan is to continue to conquer and destroy. If as the commander stated earlier this week, Putin plans to interfere with our elections, it’s not that hard to imagine that all these democracies could be disabled. He has effectively disabled the USA. There’s only one thing worth the potential blow back and that is absolute power. China, Saudi, Russia control the western world. Trump is helping him destroy the western democratic Power bloc. He damn near had France over labor and Syrian refugees. It won’t be hard next election.

    As empty wheel has written about all the ways our credit info could be used to foul elections this is a very real potential outcome. I don’t think Putin is worried about blow back since he’s taken out the most powerful country.

    I am starting to worry that it’s too late, that the pot has begun to boil. He has the money and power in his grasp. As long as he keeps trump in charge, he can continue to divide all of these democratic countries. This was the fear at its polar end of the study in 2001 regarding us going to war in the Middle East. Wasn’t it?? (I am lazy) but I could swear that paper that Bushies did not validate before war in the Middle East contained this potential worst case scenario.

    We are here. Even if Mueller proves our worst fears all Putin has to do it rip us down the middle regarding race issues and immigration. Sow the seeds of fear so we are further paralyzed.

    How do we repair this? Seriously. Truth helps but we must save our elections. This needs to be a top priority or Putin doesn’t have to worry about blow back.

    • Trent says:

      “…credit info could be used to foul elections,”  Equifax breach anyone?  I haven’t heard of anyone’s info being sold on the black market.  Could point to a state actor rather than cash on the dark web.

  14. jo blow says:

    talk about russian paranoia… i guess it is an accepted feature of emptywheels site for a number of years..  forget about objectivity.. fear mongering on a particular target 24/7 works so well..

    • Desider says:

      Putin loves you, I’m sure. Hope you’re paid as well as the Macedonians – tough when others get your sock puppet rewards.

      • jo blow says:

        oh, i am a putin bot.. and on and on the madness goes.. this is so thick, it can’t be cut with a nuclear missille, let alone a knife..

        • Desider says:

          Try Novichok – I hear it’s a decent midway compromise for those who have trouble choosing.

            • jo blow says:

              apparently the (military grade) novichok isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.. i might be better off swallowing what the nyt or wapo dishes up regularly… if that doesn’t kill me, or make me into an anti-russian bot, nothing will!

              • Desider says:

                uh, nyt & wapo are mild salves, hardly “come to Jesus” tough love/bitter medicine (nyt’s loving ledes re: nuclear talks this weekend especially fanboish).
                here’s a good summary page from Vox of how much traction Mueller’s *publicly* gotten to date. just don’t mix it with your daily pablum – it might have unexpected side-effects.

  15. Rusharuse says:

    “The special council’s office doesn’t seem to have that understanding they’re interfering with things far bigger than them or us”
    Rudy 5/16/18
    What be these bigger things?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Rudy is blowing it out his ass.  He’s making shit up because, if interviewed by a federal prosecutor, his client would lie at the drop of a hat, the facts are against him, and so is the law.  He’s making shit up because it’s all he’s got left.

      Nominally, Rudy is referring to the majesty of the Presidency, which is no more majestic than the judiciary or legislature.  He’s referring to Singapore, for which the president has no agenda – and has done no preparation – except “to win”.  He’s referring to the mass of intelligence that crosses the president’s desk, but of which this president reads not a word.  It’s pictures or executive time, unless the porn is keyed up on the viewer.

      • Rusharuse says:

        Phew! For awhile there I thought Rudy might have some inside dope on the intensions of the “cartographic colluders”. . . Porn? Porn, POrn, PORn,PORN! Trump likes him some, specially Stephen Miller’s Wiemar “naughty Frau” collection. Rude E. though he no like this filthy filth. Not that he don’t respect the pornsters themselves, jus that they don’t stack up to any of the three wives of Trump, specially the one wot gets naked with other wimim and does stuff for a photographer. That said our Mr Avenatti has put out an APB for any information on Rude E’s adult entertaiment(s). Avenatti- Italian for “The Avenger”? Anyways, can’t help but think it’s the cheap stuff, the payoffs, the bribes, the tawdry sex that will lead to Trumps ultimate detumescence (hehehe) and far easier for the jury to understand, the fewer the coins they need to roll into the Krell machine the better! Chrs

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Scare tactic.

      Yes, Rudy is correct from the angle in that there are bigger players, but he is just a puppet and knows that.

      But to call it ‘interfering’, is totally disingenuous.

      Legally, it is always best to follow established process and procedures, refined over centuries. Lessons learned over time.

  16. Rugger9 says:

    Bottom line, Josh does have it right even if a bit breathlessly over at Talking Points Memo.  Trump is leveraged by his cash flow / managerial problems, the GOP (including Pence) is leveraged by their willingness to play footsie during the election with the Russians even to the point of McTurtle personally spiking the warnings followed by almost all of them looking the other way during sham “investigations” of the Russian hacking problems (especially the HPSCI) because they think the Russians will do it again for them.

    Kompromat is an old game for the Soviets Russian Federation, Putin will collect his markers and dispose of the Kaiser when he is no longer useful.

  17. pseudonymous in nc says:

     something far, far greater than the goddamned pee tape.

    Yeah, he does, and the GOP (without knowing what that thing is) will allow it to destroy the republic because they got their tax cut for billionaires. You have Flake and Collins tweeting away like they have no fucking agency.

    Jeet Heer argued that democratic leaders have difficulty dealing with King Idiot because they can’t pay him off (in obvious ways) in the way that undemocratic leaders can. The corollary of that is that he’s beholden to the people who pay him off or know about the payoffs.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Cheers to DeNiro for last night.  Just a little chat from one New Yorker to another.

    As for Trump’s administration being “the single best period for conservative values” McConnell, who claims that he is “not spouting hyperbole or exaggeration”, bullshit.  Trump’s are not conservative or family values.  He’s for personal enrichment and fuck everyone else, literally and figuratively.

    It is absurd for commentators who claim to have sat through 50 focus groups with conservatives to diss progressives who criticize Trump on the basis that that will just make conservatives retrench and double down on Trump.  Trump voters will do that regardless of the behavior of progressives.  Regardless.

    Progressives and Trump’s base will never find common ground on some issues, but there are many others.  Jobs, healthcare, education, water, air and the environment.  Social justice issues, such as progressive taxes to pay for those things and workplace safety.  Anti-trust enforcement is needed to reduce the economic and political power of corporate interests – Amazin’, Citibunk – who no longer have any interest in allowing such things to exist in America.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Kudos to the wag who quoted Justify, the Triple Crown winner, who turned down a visit to the White House:

    “If I had wanted to see a horse’s ass, I’d have finished second.”

    • Bruce Stewart says:

      Can’t top that, but this is close: Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt proposes this caption for  Merkel’s viral Instagram:

      “Just tell us what Vladimir has on you. Maybe we can help.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Intervention only works when the person realizes s/he has hit bottom.  Trump still thinks he’s on a roll.  He’s not likely to hit bottom even after he arrives alone on Saint Helena, unless the porn channel is on the blink.

        • Rusharuse says:

          Crabalocker fishwife say: Napoleon often posed with his right hand in his waistcoat, Trump prefers his right hand in his pants!


  20. Willis Warren says:

    He has the fact that tRUmp was supposed to run (as an independent if necessary) and claim the election was rigged.  He got a hotel in Moscow if he complied.  That’s bigger than any goddamn pee tape.  When he won, by some accounts, his wife cried.  No one expected him to win.

    The Republicans are being incredibly stupid about this.  This needs to end.  The President is compromised.

    • Willis Warren says:

      Keep in mind, tRUmp probably knew the Russkies would hack voter roles and make it look like “millions of illegals” were voting, or something that could be misconstrued as such.  Such voter roll hacking would have made a mockery of a Hillary presidency.  This means that tRUmp, by agreeing to an attack on the US, would be subject to more than conspiracy, perhaps even some treason.

      • Dev Null says:

        I apologize for the naivete of the question, but is there definitive evidence of GOP collusion as-a-group, as distinct from (the voluminous) evidence of GOP petty and not-so-petty corruption?

        I mean, yeah, Broidy / Cohen / McConnell quashing Obama’s proposed joint announcement / Ryan PAC / NRA cutouts / the Florida operative / Ryan-McCarthy on Rohrabacher-Trump etc ad infinitum …

        … there’s so much smoke, it’s hard to believe there’s no fire …

        … but I can’t put my finger on a flame, much less a forest fire.

        • Trip says:

          They are compromised by virtue of their benefactors (and many have admitted as much) who share the same goals as the Kremlin and other authoritarian nations with ridiculously wealthy oligarchs across the globe. The Mercers, Kochs and the religious right shared tactics with christian orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. The Kremlin uses religion as outreach across Europe and as a manner to tyrannically control within its borders. Russia and China teamed up to determine the best way to censor information, especially on the internet. Israel and Russia becoming chummy. Israel playing to the hard right and picking a religious winner, hint: it’s not the Palestinians or Muslims. AIPAC pushing policy in the US. There are many articles in the past, but they aren’t combined into one comprehensive story. However, they aren’t hiding. You simply have to shallowly dig from the surface. The money flows from like minded hard right donors and the push has been away from “the people”.  And yes, all sides are corrupted by the money, but if you look hard enough, you see the long range plots toward this end and via organizations, including but not limited to the NRA and so on, with the GOP. I have linked many times, but I’m just not in the mood today.

          • Dev Null says:

            I’ve made quite similar comments on lists, not so much in public fora. FWIW I’ve long wondered whether the Real Story might be “Collusion of the Oligarchs”.

            But that wasn’t my question.

            I was asking whether there are unsealed indictments (that I might have forgotten or missed), or roughly equivalent legal or semi-legal documents reading on GOP collusion.

            AFAIK there are not, which is depressing.

            • Trip says:

              I don’t know how far into hell Mueller can dig and whether he would somehow be a party to the layers at some point. It would be my wish that he would on the first idea and that he would not on the second. But that is the REAL story beyond the terribly corrupt Trump, who is still a frontman. Same as it ever was.

                • Trip says:

                  The answer is, in general, I don’t know, as I expressed in my last comment. There is plenty of evidence of coordination in the public sphere, as I mentioned in my first comment. Whether anyone makes charges or indictments is another story. What has been released thus far doesn’t even get as far as Trump, it circles him.


            • Bob Conyers says:

              Nothing is out in the open, and I wouldn’t expect it to happen soon. This bears watching, but if anything comes of it, it will be a good while.


              It’s the same curse of McClatchy that doomed their reporting of the Iraq war leadup. The NY Times and Washington Post won’t admit the scoop, so it will stay out of the general awareness. Which, to be honest, may be a good thing for the investigators.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            As in Sheldon Adelson’s insistence – not the right wing Israeli government’s – that the US move its embassy to Jerusalem. Foreign policy made in Las Vegas.  Uh, huh.

            Trump followed the Adelson money – about $650 million of which he has spent recently on influencing politics.  As usual, the hard right’s political spending makes the few progressives who spend heavily on politics look like homeless guys with a few quarters in their cups.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    To join the chorus, there is a special place in hell for Donald J. Trump, who will be there long before Justin Trudeau, who is probably not destined to end up there.

    Mr. Trump and his supposed economic advisers are crying foul because M. Trudeau politely called out the president’s ignorance and the harm it was doing to trade relations.  They are engaging in garden variety projection.  The ignorance, cowardice, cruelty and back stabbing are Donald Trump’s, not Justin Trudeau’s.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Kim Jong-un thoroughly trumps Trump in Singapore – by taking a walk.

    During official down time, Kim took a stroll, accompanied by almost as many photographers as North Korean bodyguards and local security forces. The pictures and fawning commentary went global.

    Admittedly, Kim doesn’t get out much and Singapore is regarded as the multinational business person’s Disneyland. To the casual visitor, it is beautiful, clean, well-organized and works splendidly. For the short-term visitor, it has long been a refreshing counterpoint to most other commercial hot spots in SE Asia. It is especially photogenic at night.

    Kim obviously understands the news cycle – Singapore is twelve hours ahead of the US – better than his reality-tv counterpart. Trump, meanwhile, was probably busy changing his sheets, tweeting insults to Justin Trudeau, and tuning in to porn. Like chewing gum and spitting, that’s an official no-no in Singapore, so that might give Trump his first for a diplomatic bag.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      “Kim obviously understands the news cycle” — You have to wonder whether he has some new Paul Manafort operating out of K Street helping him out.

  23. Willis Warren says:


    Two separate hacks of Democratic Party emails — one purloining a trove of internal Democratic National Committee emails and one that stole a ton of correspondence from John Podesta’s personal Gmail account — were perpetrated over the course of 2016, by what are now believed to have been agents operating on behalf of the Russian government.

    These emails were not immediately released, and they were not released by the hackers who obtained them. Instead, the emails were disseminated to the public by using Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as an intermediary. Their releases also seemed strategically timed — the DNC emails disrupted efforts to create a show of unity between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, while the Podesta emails were released right after the infamous Access Hollywood tape.

    Trump and his campaign, at the time, believed these emails were a big deal and cited them frequently. Trump built substantial portions of his campaign messaging around narratives — typically half-true at best — contained in the emails, and made no bones about welcoming the hacking.

    “WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks,” he said on several occasions on the campaign trail, and he also explicitly called on the Russian government to hack and release Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    Trump also spent the 2016 campaign running an overtly pro-Russian campaign message, praising Vladimir Putin’s leadership, defending him from allegations of murdering his political opponents, and calling for a realignment of US strategy in Syria and Ukraine.

  24. orionATL says:

    one can consider the appointment of rex tillerson as secretary of state as an early indication of trump the president’s intention of tilting toward russia and repealing u. s. sanctions. the u. s. had imposed a number of sanctions before trump became president. the most damaging to the russian economy were not magnitsky or g-7, but involved its energy sector, in particular oil, a big part of that economy. tillerson was an exxon ceo with a long history of working with the russians on oil and had completed a $500 billion oil exploration deal between exxon and roseneft which the obama administration later sanctioned.

  25. orionATL says:

    as far as what characterizes mr. trump’s emotional state with respect to decisions he makes about russia, i can’t say.

    i can say with confidence that every policy decision the president makes, domestic or foreign policy, is made with the idea of paying off some organization, individual, or voter group to whom he owes something for having supported him. in short, trump’s policy handouts to those he owes are just straight-forward pay-to-play republican governing philosophy. this is surely the case with putin and russia. in each case, of course, the actual effects of the policy will be guilded with rationalizations supplied by think tanks, academics, and politicians/lobbyists talking jobs and a beautiful future.

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Der Spiegel’s German perspective on Trump and the Canada Meeting:

    The G7 Fiasco: It’s Time to Isolate Trump:

    Trump wants complete control and can’t stand being contradicted. He always has to have the first word and the last. Indeed, it was far from surprising that he sought to impose his own agenda (the trade conflict and Russia) on the summit. The tweet he sent from his plane out of Canada, in which he revoked his support for the summit statement, was merely a logical result of his egomania. It’s always just me, me, me.

    Trump’s crude view of the world, his image of an America that has allegedly been exploited and fleeced for years, follows from this conceit. Because Trump thinks he is the greatest and relies only on his gut feelings, he is immune to rational arguments. He only considers his own instincts and thoughts to the exclusion of all else, even though they are based on a lack of knowledge and prejudice.

    We’re not alone, not matter how often it feels like it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Jeff Sessions’s notion of “Ich bin ein Berliner” is from a few decades before JFK’s famous comparison.  Session would be more comfortable as an archbishop advising Franco on infant and maternal health care issues among the people of Barcelona. 

        I suspect that the aptly named Peter Navarro will be surprised at the names of those joining him in that special place in hell.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The advance warning given these few names will have assured that all but the most dense removed their resources from the direct reach of the USG.

    • orionATL says:

      1. these sanctions are very small potatos in terms of their individual/corporate reach or economic effect.

      2. these sanctions do not involve russian cyber activity in u. s. elections which is by far the most consequential recent russian cyber activity affecting u. s. national intetests in recent times. power network attacks seemed exploratory and sporadic.

      3. these small sanctions can be employed propagandistically to claim trump sanctions/is tough on the russians at the same time that he is working to undermine the serious sanctions imposed before his presidency.

  27. Rugger9 says:

    Which was probably the point, I also saw a couple of other interesting things today: there was a photo of Kilimnik posted (apparently that was a rare item, and pictures of spies are never a good thing for the spy involved) but for me I’m still wondering why this GRU version of a burn notice has been used on him. Why expose him at all? Even if Russia doesn’t have extradition (see Snowden, Edward) all it takes is a visit to somewhere that does, and my guess is that he’s got something wanted by Vlad’s entourage. All in all it looks very much like Manafort’s free life is over, even if he is pardoned (and Vlad may not want that).


    The other thing is the visit in Singapore, where KJU and the Kaiser went into a room, briefly (less than the 45 minutes scheduled), with only interpreters. One wonders what was said and committed to in there. If I’m Kim shooting for the moon, I’d have Trump sign a peace treaty brought to the room with all of the wish list items in it. The Kaiser is stupid enough to do it and might do so anyway to piss off the rest of the EU / UN because they made Nikki sad. For history geeks, look up the Treaty of Bjorko before WW1 for a parallel.

    Given how the negotiations for the armistice took two years due to mutual distrust and DPRK fibbery, the details this time will be very important.

  28. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Reply not working for me – I’m in EPU territory, to use a very old phrase.

    Early in Luke Harding’s book ‘Collusion’, he meets Christopher Steele, who tells him: 1. follow the money, and 2. Trump has sexual… ‘perversions’, which Steele does not disclose. I’m guessing that whatever is on that so-called ‘pee tape’ must be dynamite. (It would also be more than a bit interesting to know how much about this topic Stormy Daniels knows, due to the fact that Trump never goes after her — quite uncharacteristic for him. It may also partly account for Avenetti’s confidence.)

    Also, with respect to the McClatchy GOP-NRA-Russia link: IIRC, at some point in the past, there was news of Erik Prince owning the largest private armory in N America. And Oliver North is now NRA chair. Funny how things loop around. Both men would surely be quite well acquainted with money laundering. But if Reince Priebus and Spicer and Paul Ryan (and McConnell) got sucked into that web, it gets even more interesting. I’m hoping that Lady Karma is at her bitchiest.

    • Rita Jumalon says:

      Trump and Putin use RT NEWS to get messages back and forth. The day he left, Putin was on about working with North Korea. RT is Russian Times News. The first place we found when we started looking as to why we were getting so much hate news on face book. Many after that.  Everything Trump is doing is for Putin’s benefit.  From what I have seen all along is Trump works for Putin.

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