The Quid Pro Quo Was Even Tighter Than I Imagined

Way back in May, I did a six part series on what the questions (as imagined by Jay Sekulow) that Mueller wanted to ask to Trump said about his investigation.

Part One: The Mueller Questions Map Out Cultivation, a Quid Pro Quo, and a Cover-Up

Part Two: The Quid Pro Quo: a Putin Meeting and Election Assistance, in Exchange for Sanctions Relief

Part Three: The Quo: Policy and Real Estate Payoffs to Russia

Part Four: The Quest: Trump Learns of the Investigation

Part Five: Attempting a Cover-Up by Firing Comey

Part Six: Trump Exacerbates His Woes

I gotta say, I’m quite proud of the way the series has held up: while there’s a bunch I’d add to the series if I rewrote it today, there’s little that I’d retract.

And from the very start, I argued that the election conspiracy involves a quid pro quo. The second post described how, “over the course of the election, the Russians and Trump appear to have danced towards a quid pro quo, involving a Putin meeting and election assistance in exchange for sanctions relief if Trump won (as noted, the Russians dangled real estate deals to entice Trump based on the assumption he wouldn’t win).”

I still stand by the series, but recent developments in the case make it clear the quid pro quo is even tighter than I thought because of the way the Trump Tower Moscow dangle, which we now know was the payoff that required a meeting with Putin, hung over it all.

Consider this passage in the Mueller Cohen sentencing memo.

The defendant’s false statements obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government. If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues. The fact that Cohen continued to work on the project and discuss it with Individual 1 well into the campaign was material to the ongoing congressional and SCO investigations, particularly because it occurred at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. Similarly, it was material that Cohen, during the campaign, had a substantive telephone call about the project with an assistant to the press secretary for the President of Russia.

Cohen’s lies, aside from attempting to short circuit the parallel Russian investigations, hid the following facts:

  • Trump Organization stood to earn “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources” if the Trump Tower deal went through.
  • Cohen’s work on the deal continued “well into the campaign” even as the Russian government made “sustained efforts … to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.”
  • The project “likely required[] the assistance of the Russian government.”
  • “Cohen [during May 2016] had a substantive telephone call about the project with an assistant to the press secretary for the President of Russia [Dmitri Peskov].”

Now consider the line Rob Goldstone used to entice Don Jr into taking a meeting — a meeting that, Rudy Giuliani says Paul Manafort says prosecutors know Trump knew about — to hear about dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Less than three years after Trump’s ability to get a meeting with Putin during the Miss Universe contest had been portrayed, by Goldstone himself, as entirely reliant on the efforts of Aras Agalarov, Goldstone packaged this meeting as “part of  Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

And while Goldstone testified that he didn’t mean anything specific about that phrase, he also testified that among the bare facts that Emin wanted conveyed in that message is that this meeting would benefit the Trumps — not the campaign, but the Trumps.

Q. — you talked about with my colleague, I know we have asked you a lot of questions. I just want to have you explain. When you say there — you wrote the statement “based on the bare facts I was given,” exactly what were the bare facts that you were given?

A. So, to the best of my recollection, when I spoke to Emin, he said to me: I would like you to set up a meeting. A Russian attorney met with my — a well-connected Russian attorney met with my dad in his office, and she appears to have or seems to have damaging information on the Democrats and its candidate, Hillary Clinton. And I think it could be useful to the Trumps.

He talked about the Trumps rather than the campaign. And he would like us to get a meeting. To me, that was it. That’s when I started pushing for more information. But those would be the bare facts: attorney, damaging information, Democrats, Hillary Clinton. [my emphasis]

Goldstone was just a go-between in efforts, going back to 2013 and involving Dmitri Peskov, to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin. And Emin was clearly not sharing everything with Goldstone. But Emin was more centrally involved, even in 2013, and (his comments to Goldstone make clear) remained so in 2016 and 2017. So Emin’s emphasis on the benefit for Trump is striking.

And whether or not that language about “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” was as innocent as Goldstone makes out, in context, it would have clear meaning for Don Jr, whom we know Cohen kept apprised of the efforts to renew the Trump Tower Moscow deal. The Trumps were monetizing this running-for-President thing, and they were happy to make campaign promises to Russians bearing dirt, because the point wasn’t to actually win the election. It was about the hundreds of millions they stood to gain.

And the very day of that June 9 meeting, Michael Cohen started making his travel plans to go meet top Russian officials in St. Petersburg, possibly even Putin himself, plans that were only scuttled when the Russian hack of the DNC got exposed.

Consider one more detail about this quid pro quo. We’ve already seen how broke Trump’s working for “free” campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was at the time (though yesterday’s Manafort filing makes it clear that Tom Barrack had a much bigger role in this than previously known, and may have been — may even still be! — the one paying Manafort’s bills). The SDNY Cohen filing describes why he had to use a HELOC to pay off Trump’s former sex partners.

In December 2015, Cohen contacted a bank (“Bank-3”) to apply for a home equity line of credit (“HELOC”). In his application for the HELOC, Cohen made false statements about his net worth and monthly expenses. Specifically, Cohen failed to disclose more than $20 million in debt he owed to another bank (“Bank-2”), and also materially understated his monthly expenses to Bank-3 by omitting at least $70,000 in monthly interest payments due to Bank-2 on that debt. (PSR ¶ 34). These statements were the latest in a series of false statements Cohen made to financial institutions in connection with credit applications.

While elsewhere, SDNY makes clear that Cohen has been hiding some liquid assets … somewhere, the amount of fraud he was conducting to keep his finances in order (to say nothing of his refusal to fully cooperate with SDNY’s investigation) suggest they may be the wrong kind of liquid.

An updated financial statement Cohen provided at closing reflected a positive $17 million net worth in addition to previously undisclosed liquid assets, a nearly $20 million increase from the false financial information Cohen had provided to Bank-2 just weeks earlier in the negotiations.

So Manafort was underwater and Cohen was underwater. How badly underwater do you expect we’ll learn Trump Organization is and was?

The Russians exploited Trump’s most venal instincts and those of all the people around him. And all the election help and policy payoffs were just side shows to Trump. So long as he showed a willingness to damage Hillary Clinton in any way available, the Russians were happy to have him believe this was just about a silly tower in Moscow.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

184 replies
  1. Kevin Hayden says:

    So ‘follow the money’ is still the best advice. It’s always been about the greed. And the emoluments will be the ultimate undoing.

    • Alex says:

      To their immense credit, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier got this right almost from day one of the Administration. And as a result, they basically published the Cohen charges six months before Mueller did.

  2. Semanticleo says:

    The business of Business is Bizness. What’s a Pro Quo without a ‘Quid’?

    That’s their true blindspot. They never saw any conflicts in achieving their income goals.

  3. Todd H says:

    So what is the end game here? Are they going to keep indicating Individual-1 committed crimes and not indict? I don’t think impeachment is going to happen no matter how strong the evidence, so trying to see what the ultimate goal of all these plea deals and indictments to get at Trump is all about. It looks like they are treating Trump like a criminal they can’t extradite and going after Trump’s family and money to put pressure on him to accept a deal. Am I missing something?

    • skua says:

      If (assuming damning evidence is presented) conviction in the Senate following impeachment in Congress does not happen while Trump is POTUS then Trump remains liable to be indicted when he stops being POTUS.

      Unless he gets pardoned.

      Even a Presidential pardon may not, if state prosecutions are not ruled against by the SCOTUS, protect Trump against being indicted on state charges.

      • mallcon says:

        Methinks Mueller has thought of this too – the NY State AG’s office has at least 3 ongoing investigations, Trump Organization,  Trump Foundation and the newest arising out of the NY Times expose on Trump Family history of  State Fraud and State Tax Evasion in the State of New York.   The Trump Organization is a NY based foundation. So all state crimes being investigated. No double jeopardy. I am sure however the state and feds do share their information of course.

    • BroD says:

      I can’t see how the House can avoid impeachment.  OTOH, I can imagine that the Senate will avoid a guilty verdict (because–among other problems–Mitch.)

  4. Belacqua says:

    I say this half in jest, I think, but what Marcy writes almost makes me wonder if we haven’t had the quid pro quo backward the entire time. The working hypothesis has been, as she’s laid out, that Trump traded election help for sanctions relief (with the tower as a fallback). But that assumes Trump is a normal person, who would want to be president much more than he would want to own a tower in Moscow.

    We know Trump is not a normal person, so what if it’s the other way around? I don’t buy any of the Manchurian candidate nonsense, but I can just about believe, given what Marcy’s written above, and given all the reporting about how little interest DJT showed in being president (right up to election night), that Russia’s deal was: run for president—”damage Hillary Clinton in any way available”—and we’ll give you a tower for your troubles. Trump figured he could milk his run for all it was worth–publicity, flattery, settling old scores–and then take his Moscow tower and go home. A great plan, except then he messed up and won the thing.

    As I say, I think that’s a bridge too far, and probably several. But it’s no longer out of the realm of possibility.

      • DeutscheBank says:

        I think I have to disagree. This interpretation does not take into consideration that there is not much evidence that Trump has not been compromised by the Russians since decades ( From a Russian perspective having an American president who destroys US international reputation and networks is like the holy grail. The question is what did CIA etc. knew about Trump and did not reveal (long) before the election and have not since.

        Also, Russian money laundering is getting surprisingly little attention. For the bigger picture, this interview is pretty comprehensive, and the former CEO of Deutsche Bank working with Wilbur Ross at the Bank of all places Cyrus is not a surprising coincidence but makes perfect business sense – and Trump is a small fish:

        While it is important to deal with trees like the campaign financing problem, the large forest around it should not be forgotten. And I am seeing many trees and notice that prosecutions and prosecutors seem not really going to areas where things would pop up which do not fit into the narrative of this is a contained story, Trump is nuts, wanted to build a tower with bad Russians and screwed up paying his mistresses.

        To put it differently: It took six years after Citizens United until the first foreign power bought the US presidency for surprisingly little. Looks like an attractive business proposition to me, let’s see who will be next.


        • bmaz says:

          Hi there. Are you really Deutsche Bank? No? Obviously you are not.

          Then do not feign to be so here. Find a different handle if you want to appear here, and announce that you have done so.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, “Watching Trump”, I care, and all the people who run this site care. And, unlike you, we actually have a vested interest in commenters appearing honestly here. It is not “silly”  to anybody that cares. If you do not, and you appear not to, never return here again.

          And, by the way, the handle claimed was, indeed, “DeutscheBank”. If you want to play games, you will be dealt with accordingly.

        • TOB says:

          I found this site thanks to a link from a discussion board. A new source of opinion, legal explanation and facts is always welcome, so this discovery honestly made me happy. With all the whirlwind memos out of SCO and SDNY, I have found myself saying “oh let me check what emptywheel has.” In other words, I became a fan.

          Don’t ruin it bmaz. And I don’t mean it in a ridiculous, empty internet threat kind of way (see: “you will be dealt with accordingly” which was your response to some guy/gal who had corrected their obviously innocent reading error before your admonishment). I mean it in a “hm, who is bmaz? oh, legal editor for the site? Are they all like this?”

          I get your point though, you don’t need silly handles polluting your comment threads. I doubt “deutchebank” was trying to convince the internet that this was an official response from RubleLaundering Inc. itself, nor do I think you are catering to an audience who would believe such a thing. But still, again, I get it.

          I don’t get the tone. I hope you can see that while DB’s handle choice could reflect poorly on your website, so do your responses– both in their aggression and lack of acknowledgement that DB may have made any interesting or even refutable points.

          bmaz, I’m saying I like the site, and want to continue reading it. Much more of this from the staff of the site and I may have to “handle it accordingly.” Maybe that means I don’t scroll past the end of the article. Maybe it means I take my eyeballs to some other legally competent journalist’s site.

        • Jesse says:

          Tone? This website is free. The volunteer moderators work hard to keep it the great resource and commenting community that it is. The fountain of insight and wisdom coming from EW and the rest of the contributors is under regular assault from trolls both foreign and domestic; directly trolling, but also spreading dis/misinformation. I do not question their diligence and firm hand here. If you have complaints about the volunteers who have been here for many years, my first question is: have you donated to

        • Chetan Murthy says:

          bmaz, as someone who doesn’t masquerade on any of the places he comments regularly, I appreciate this ban on misleading pseudonyms.  Just sayin’.  Thank you.

        • EWTRTW says:

          Maybe if you could say it a little more like this…
          I understand that your nom de plume of “Duetschebank” is intended to express a sense of comedic absurdity, and while I appreciate that innocent attempt at humor, as well as the insights of your commentary, I must request that you choose a different handle for future posts. The exceptional discussion that thrives within the commentary of EW is the culmination of our intelligent reader’s acumen curated through the rigorous commitment to honesty, authenticity, and transparency of our moderators. In the context of this high integrity our community holds most dear, a moniker chosen even in jest that could mislead the reader as to the authorship of ideas expressed here is inappropriate, and contrary to our purpose to cast the beacon of truth for to light the path to justice.

      • SaltinWound says:

        Wasn’t this the disagreement within the intelligence community at the time? They all thought Russia was trying to do damage to Hillary Clinton. But they didn’t all think Russia was pro Trump in the election. It was to hurt Hillary and cause chaos?

    • hester says:

      I think your bridge is not too far.  It was always apparent that he was uninterested in the presidency.  I couldn’t figure out why he was running.  This makes imho the most sense.  He and his band of merry thieves are in hoc up their eyeballs.

    • Kai-Lee says:

      That seems to be the line of thinking here, and given Putin’s hatred of Clinton, it’s a strong possibility or back-up plan.

      I’m not sure that Putin ever intended to give Trump that tower.

      Additionally, Putin would best realize his aims were his stooge to actually win office. They sure played hard for him to win that prize. (Now, we know that other countries were involved in the cyber trickery, too.)

      And it seems the case now that, despite Putin’s and MBS’s obvious enthrallment, Trump is putting more of his eggs in the Saudi basket, thinking they will be better placed to support him, post-presidency.

    • Kevin says:

      This has been the working belief of more than a few people (myself included). I think if you look at how Trump approached his run from the start, it’s pretty clear. He wanted to be the fly in the ointment, he wanted to build his brand, he wanted the attention. He seemed intent on destroying the Republican party as mush as he was intent on destroying Hilary. Basically trash everyone, to build himself up. No one believed he could get the Republican nomination, Trump included. He didn’t do anything meaningful, at any stage, that would have prepared him for this role, just as he didn’t do anything meaningful to avoid the criminal charges that are coming his way (nobody is going to prosecute the losing candidate for breaking election rules and lying in a losing cause. And so he was as loose and as free-swinging as he wanted to be, and we were all surprised that that was enormously attractive to a lot of people (with a little illicit help from his friends).

      This is basically his worst nightmare. His weird life of TV and gold and bombast is wrecked, and his lack of planning to cover his criminal tracks is increasingly in plain sight.

      • Wajim says:

        And his very good friend in Russia burned him by ensuring he was actually elected. What do the kids say, PWND?  Not only Trump, but the entire GOP, it seems (perhaps, in Putin’s view, a regrettable but acceptable amount of collateral damage).  Diabolical.

        • AnotherKevin says:

          Sorry to step on toes! Didn’t realize there was another vanilla Kevin here (yesterday’s post at 2:50 pm was my first here). Henceforth I’ll be AnotherKevin (hopefully that’s not taken).

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, but,seriously, thank you to both for realizing and insuring separate personalities here. This is a pretty robust commenter community, and we are fairly insistent that people can know who they are talking to in comments. Again, thank you.

      • Belacqua says:

        Oh yeah, I take all that as a given. The part I still find a stretch is that he needed Russia’s enticement to run (or to take the run that he started as a pure vanity project seriously). The question, in other words, is at what point did Russia’s actions and intentions start to affect Trump’s? I’ve long thought it was somewhere in early 2016, but Marcy’s post has really made me reconsider.

        (On a side note: Like you, I remember vividly the sense that no one took his chances seriously for a very long time. But it’s interesting to go back and look at the polls from the summer of 2015. They told a different story, one no one wanted to hear.)

        • Katherine M Williams says:

          I think a lot of people believed that “they” (Wall Street, bankers, etc.) would somehow stop Trump from being elected. I heard quite a few “They’ll never allow that idiot to be elected” and such.

          But either “they” liked Trump, or “they” don’t have as much power over elections as assumed.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          I think the question will be how underwater he was in 2015.

          Those tax returns may not reveal it, but they’ll reveal where to look.

        • P J Evans says:

          The business tax returns might be better for that than the personal returns.

          (But we know he lies on all of them.)

        • JV says:

          I think Trump decided to run at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner when President Obama shredded his ego. The look on Trump’s face with each jab stuck in my mind (unfortunately) because the footage ran repeatedly, so I’d not be surprised that a former KGB officer or such might have seen and recognized the pure hatred and determined revenge in those looks, and encouraged Trump to run with the real estate dangle.

        • AnotherKevin says:

          Trump didn’t need Russia’s enticement to run. He had publicly floated the idea of running for president at least as early as 1999 (as a Reform candidate), and brought it up multiple times after that. It was part of his business strategy, to raise his profile, and make people take him seriously as a player on the world stage. He also realized there were people who LOVED the way he had pursued his Birther nonsense, and his attacks on the Clintons.

          He’d also been laundering money for Russians for many years, and had a lot of interactions with Russian insiders, and it seems reasonable that he knew the more of a disruptive force he was in US politics, the more of their money tended to come his way. They didn’t have to entice him – he was running around with a neon sign saying he was for hire.

      • ThreeScorePlus says:

        This seems the best explanation to me, so here’s a question.  Shouldn’t we assume that the platform changes to favor Russia were also a quid pro quo?  And was that illegal or just really unpatriotic?

        • Thomas Paine says:

          I think the Platform changes were a necessary “show of intent” to signal to the Russians that the Trump Campaign AND the GOP were in the game to win the election and fulfill the Russians demand – relief of the Magnitsky Act Sanctions, once the Trump Admin. took office.  The Flynn-Kislyak phone call woke up the responsible adults and the sanctions were never lifted.  Putin lost that one but he has been working to screw with the US ever since, and Trump himself may now be expendable.

        • AnotherKevin says:

          Of course the platform changes were part of the quid pro quo. And it was illegal, on multiple levels, at least according to those with more knowledge of the law than I have.

    • Frank says:

      This is entirely plausible due to the least amount of assumptions needed to explain this relationship. The Russians could use their kompromat to extort sanction relief from Trump if he had won. They don’t even need the pee tapes to do this. They have plenty of blackmail info based on the election meddling between them and Trump’s cohorts. What would the Russians lose if they outed this relationship, double secret probation? Trump would have more to lose and would have surely agreed to their demands.

      If Trump had lost, the Russians would have gained valuable data on their trolling program that could be further refined in the future. Or it was a gamble worth taking due to the small cost and large returns at stake.

      If Trump didn’t expect to win, then he had nothing to lose as well. Running for president would be free exposure for his brand worth millions in media coverage. He would finally get his Moscow tower as promised by the Russians. Knowing the Russians, they would have reneged on the tower deal. Why would they want the largest building in Russia with Trump’s name on top of it overlooking Putin’s Kremlin?

      Tis the season of schadenfreude. Happy Holidays

      • DDersh says:

        Frank, I’m new here, so please forgive.  My understanding is that,  “blackmail info based on the election meddling between them (the Russians) and Trump’s cohorts” has yet to be proven definitively.  Yes, Trump seems almost certainly to have committed fraud via hush funds to his lady friends, but what have I missed regarding “meddling.”    

    • orionATL says:

      personally, i think any notion that trump did not care whether or not he became president in 2016 does not square his personal political history re the presidency (including such political activity as loudly persistently attacking president obama on the birth certificate matter) or with his colossal, oblivious egotism. a better guess at his position probably would be “i’ll take it or leave it, but i’ll get something for myself out of the effort”.

      trump considered, aloud and publicly, running for president in 2012. he gave a convocation address at liberty university to that effect, speaking of the poor state of the economy, that the u.s. was not respected internationally, that we have “idiot politicians” with a “lack of brain power”. ultimately, he decided not to run in 2012, but bulled ahead in 2016:

      • Drew says:

        Just got back from a performance of “My Fair Lady.” In the 2nd act, Alfred Doolittle tells his daughter that “Higgins ruined him”,  by creating circumstances whereby Doolittle became wealthy though that was never his plan.  It’s quite possible that Trump wanted & fantasized about ultimate power-“President of the United States” without any real intention of engaging in any way realistically meant to achieve it. His proximate goal, like Doolittle’s, was to grift, and he suddenly ended up with something he wasn’t prepared for, even if he couldn’t turn it down.

        • Callender says:

          That’s my theory precisely.  In Wolff’s Fire and Fury I remember, reading something to the effect that Trump was surprised speechless for 45 minutes or so upon learning of the election call, then within a half hour or so had convinced himself he was imminently qualified to be leader of the free world.

          I also remember reading in the same book that, for instance the Flynn payment for the appearance in Russia would only be a problem “if we won.”

          No one thought they’d win.  Including Tangerine Mussolini

        • Ken Jernigan says:

          Michael Lewis presents further evidence in The Fifth Risk, in which he details Trump’s complete neglect of transition planning. Particularly Trumpian is the dust up with Chris Christie over money to support the transition team.

  5. Scout says:

    No wonder Ivanka looks shell-shocked in a photo from the night Trump won.
    * Trump is gloomy.
    * Jr. is ecstatic doing a fist pump.

    • bmaz says:

      I am not sure that is precisely right, but it is certainly not a bridge too far in the least. At least as to possibilities.

    • Tom says:

      I imagine election night at the Trump household must have been like that scene in The Producers when Max and Leo suddenly realize that Springtime for Hitler is going to be a hit after all. And now the Trumps are trying to blow up the theatre (White House), metaphorically speaking.

  6. BobCon says:

    I agree that the Moscow deal was a huge piece. I’d add that it’s also possible that there’s a lot more. There is a lot of vapor surrounding Trump’s NYC properties, and I wouldn’t rule out that there was a threat that Russian money would flee his buildings en masse. Or even darker, that the FBI might find out that Trump Inc. was complicit in money laundering schemes.

    There has been some interesting preliminary reporting on the Russian ties to Trump properties, but I would expect more to come out of official investigations over the next couple of years to give a fuller picture of what has been going on.

    • Kai-Lee says:

      Agree that this will likely result, but will the statute of limitations have passed on his undoubtedly many money-laundering and RICO-type crimes? He’s been doing this for decades, but will latter/ongoing crimes stick?

        • Tom says:

          You mean like … Niagara Falls?    Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch … (you know the rest).

        • BobCon says:

          Noting the usual warning to avoid throwing around RICO, I would argue that some of the other possible crimes will definitely be past the expiration date, but I would be surprised if it all stopped by 2016. I think fraud is simply too much a part of the Trump business to disappear cleanly. I don’t know this, but it seems like a significant risk.

          And one of the problems with business fraud, compared to some of the other things Cohen and Manafort were doing, is that there tend to be more lower level employees who are complicit, and the prisoners dilemma problems get worse for everyone involved.

        • orionATL says:

          what you all talkin’ about.

          i like rico, trump likes rico. in fact nobody loves ‘rico’ better than donald trump, just look at the extraordinary, if tacky, opulence in which he has wallowed for decades.

          el commandante senor trump le guesta mucho la vida rico. vuela en un aeroplano hecho de oro. tiene una taza hecho de oro.

  7. cat herder says:

    This was in no way a “quid pro quo” (whatever that is… sounds foreign… don’t like it) – it was simply an agreement to exchange something of value for another thing of value, no different than when you go buy groceries! Are you suggesting that buying groceries is treason, too????

  8. Trip says:

    Marcy, since a lot of this was pushed internationally, do you think that they played upon greed or some other incentive over the pond, like with Farage? There was big oligarch money behind a lot of this “new order”, so…the rich figured things are gonna go a certain way, no matter what, and so we have to feed the beast all the way down to the bottom dwellers? (Because this plot obviously goes beyond Trump and the US).

    • J R in WV says:

      I second a recommendation for everyone to take a look at Ken White’s succinct break down of this week’s dropping federal briefs. He does a great job analyzing the meaning of these documents and the potential of the redacted information. He calls the SDNY brief  “one of the more livid denunciations I’ve seen in more than two decades of federal criminal practice.”

      Sweet, Ken!

      Keep up the good work, everyone!

      To add, I also hope RICO rears its head with regard to the Trump Org, if there’s anything left at the end to confiscate. Spank me if you must, I hope what I hope!

      • Tom says:

        “Dropping briefs”? First it was Big Dick Toilets, now it’s Dropping Briefs! But I guess you have to drop your briefs if you want to use the Big Dick Toilet. (Just having a Groucho moment).

      • scribe says:

        Fer Chrissake:  no one brings RICO cases – civil or criminal – any more.  No one ignorant of what goes into trying to structure a case so RICO could be applied should even mouth the word.

        I tried to build a couple plaintiff’s civil RICO cases – crooked bankers stealing in real estate deals – many years ago, when I was a young, inexperienced attorney.  While I didn’t get laughed out of court – adversary counsel recognized there was enough “there” there to justify pleading it – it was fiendishly complicated then and has only gotten moreso in the last couple decades.

        You don’t know what you’re talking about so Just. Stop. It. Already.


        And let’s get the trash out – basket’s full.

  9. Tom S. says:

    I am pushing back against what I perceived as a freakish weak, transforming pre Trump

    republican adminstrations’ 1981 – 2009 abnormal (hyper?) levels of corruption cloaked in

    secrecy, blanket denial, obstruction, aggressive war,  presidential pardons of corrupt (self serving) intent,

    presented 18 hours per day by MSM and their featured presidential historians and other invitees.

    Belacqua @ 1:54 pm, What is your concept of a “normal” person, or for that matter,

    a normal U.S. society, major media and its reporting, or one of the sole two U.S. major political

    parties, aka the Trump party, Skull & Bones, an elite, ultra exclusive (just 15 new members invited

    in, annually) secret society. (D. Milbank, an S&B member, weighing in all week on cable

    on Bush rep rehab with no similar disclaimer to the one in this and now regularly in EW’s

    articles) or, is this “normal” despite its recent former prosecutors turned cable TH-ez? Aren’t

    many of them including, “I don’t believe in coincidences…prosecutors don’t believe in coincidences.”

    Link to CNN examples

    To the question of who benefited this week? Was it not in a large way leap frogging off

    of the freakishly abnormal one as a lipstick applied at least to Bushes and all things associated

    with them, post Nixon…. Reagan, pre 2016 republicans and Bushes…compared to Trump.

    All in one can of worms, from Aphrodite in 1944 costing the life of Joe Kennedy, Jr , 1959 defector

    Robert E Webster, Nixon sudden 24 hr 1965, Moscow visit, the 1980 October surprise, and

    Iran-Contra. Robert Gates seemed rather flummoxed responding to Furmark related, in 1991 testimony.:

    Reagan & Shaheen, born 3 years apart, both sons of Tampico, IL (pop. 700) families. My core point

    is prosecutors don’t believe in coincidence when it suits them, when they aren’t yet Pols or in criminal defense.


    ….John Shaheen had been (O.S.S.) head of special projects. Here is Robert Gates responding to ]

    questions about Shaheen’s “right hand man,” Roy Furmark, shortly after Bill Casey’s sudden death.:


      • Tom S. says:

        Trump and pre Trump establishment republicans are abnormally opportunist compared to

        me… I cannot speak for anyone else. This past week, Trump and Trump part were used as

        lipstick on 1981 – 2009 US History. The truth is now not only the history the victors are left

        to documentation of. Prosecutors turned TV commentators are not helping to inform like

        they believe they are, when they emphasize so often their dismissal of coincidence blurring

        the lines between fact and fiction. The MSM is left to trod a centrist path having the consequence

        of diminishing its focus and reliability of reporting. There was a comment here the other day

        reminding that what is missing is at least as telling as what is presented. This seems as true

        in Mueller team court filings as it does in what MSM includes, excludes, or in the slant of what

        gets covered and commented on.

        • Lee says:

          What I distill from your question is something that has bothered me quite a bit of late. It’s been a short few years (compared to my lifetime) since the US was pursuing an illegal war and horrible policies (torture being a main one) in the Middle East.  That may have been a low point, but there have been a number of notable scandals in the past few decades, mostly involving Republicans. Now, thanks to and in comparison with Trump, all the principle characters don’t just look forgiven, they positively look like saints.  (Think of GWB and his tearful eulogy at his dad’s funeral, and how that was framed in the media.)  What does this large scale forgetfulness, or forgiveness, or whitewashing, whatever it is, bode for us as a nation?

        • Trip says:

          Who did the forgiving? I think Trump is the inevitable monster they created (over time) and he has taken the old neocons on his team. He even started with a few. He says out loud what they said in whispers. He’s brutal where they pretended “kind conservatism”. He gave away the store in one fell swoop while they tried to conceal it in stages. I don’t look back with even a remote sense of fondness for Cheney, Dubya or Dubya’s dad, et al. But I disagree that Trump is less dangerous than his predecessors as this person is trying to assert (see below). It’s not less terrifying that instead of behind closed doors he’s discussing extraordinary rendition (of a US resident) right out in the open. Or that he has no problem with assassinations of journalists. Or that he puts immigrants in concentration camps, and intentionally loses track of children. He is the face of their madness that they hide behind.

      • Wajim says:

        I believe you’ve just quoted the OED’s proposed 2020 revised definition of “Conspiracy Theorist.”  By the way, is double spacing the new all caps?

        • Jockobadger says:

          I’m not a poet at all, and I know it. I AM trying hard to follow this whole thing, though, bc I recognize the quality of the commenting personnel.

          I’ll shut up and keep reading. One question: I easily recognize the utility to Russia/Putin of a trump victory, however unexpected. I guess Putin won the powerball?

        • P J Evans says:

          They could have done it in Notepad and then copied and pasted it – that tends to add linebreaks where there were none before. (Computers – what can you say?)

  10. Jenny says:

    Marcy another excellent explanation.

    To me this is all about GREED.  Greedy people always want more things, more money, more power.  Constant takers who are frauds with no sense of the self.  Emotionally immature, insecure, insensitive and insincere.  Lacking in love, compassion and gratitude.

    “He who is greedy is always in want.”  Horace

    “Greed in the end, fails even the greedy.”  Cathryn Louis

    • koolmoe says:

      Yes fwiw, I agree. At the root of the whole mess (this concern and so many others) is greed. To me, as many others say in this thread, Trump’s primary interest from the start has been greed and profit, with self-aggrandizement a close second. I believe that’s what continues to drive the majority of his moves. I’d not be surprised, and even suspect, things like immigration and tariffs are somehow making him $$.

  11. cw says:

    Questions based on the perfectly sound idea that no one thought Trump would win–not the Russians, not Trump.
    1. Why would Trump or Russia think that he could deliver on sanctions relief is no one thought he would win? That is the quo, right?
    2. How much more did Trump damage Clinton above just the Wikileaks releases and the social media campaign?
    3. It seems extremely possible that the Russian already had dirt on Trump. Why would they need to offer these towers?
    4. If there was a deal in place, why so many approaches by the Russians?

    • MattyG says:

      Valid questions. Revision to the party platform during the convention hints at a wider and darker quid pro quo than simply running interference for Putin in exchange for a great big lolly pop at the end of an unsucessful campaign – tho that lolly pop is now clearly a centerpiece carrot in this scandal. Trump’s (continued) prostration before Putin suggests more sticks than carrots tho. Whatever his personal objectives were he was double and triple enveloped by his Russian partner.

      • P J Evans says:

        The convention was after Himself had gotten the delegates for the nomination – that was farther than he had been expected to go. I think lifting the sanctions had been so to speak, a stretch goal until then, when they became a real possibility.

        • MattyG says:

          The Kickstarter metaphor is good! But then who’s the creator and who’s the backer? Lifting sanctions would have been the prime objective for the Russian player and must have been in the “project description” at least in some form early on – even if cleverly suggested or introduced by skilled side players. It’s not immedeatly obvious how watered down anti-Russian language in the Republican platform would have help disrupt the Clinton campaign is what I mean – if that was the quid in exchange for a tower. So for Team Trump to have been that eager and efficient at carrying out the task implies design and preparation. Or maybe lifting sanctions was always seen as the banal but necessary precondition for doing business with the Russians from the start.

        • cw says:

          If Trump had no chance of winning there was no chance of him lifting sanctions.  Sanctions had to come up once Trump had at least a chance of winning.

        • cw says:

          It makes sense if sanction weren’t on the table until Trump at least won the nomination. Definitely need to look at time table.

        • MattyG says:

          Manafort and JD Gordon were guys intrumental in changing the platform language – Ukraine support actually – not sanctions as I implied. Manafort a Vlad mole in the Trump camp?

    • Herringbone says:

      Great questions. I’ll take #2.

      Seen in hindsight, Wikileaks is clearly one of three or four factors (including Comey’s pre-election bombshell) that sank Clinton’s candidacy. But I don’t think the revelations about hinky stuff going on at the DNC would have done much to damage a Clinton presidency absent a losing Trump who was prepared to question the legitimacy of her election. Similarly, while I’m as prone as anyone to credit bots and sock puppets with doing all the work of poisoning online discourse, all the reporting I’ve read stresses that social media influence is ineffective unless is used to amplify lies being spread by real people.

      Which leads me to the conclusion that, if they weren’t expecting Trump to win, the Russians might have been expecting more from Trump than just being a loudmouth during the election. In October 2016 there was talk of Trump starting his own conservative news channel after his inevitable defeat, and I have to imagine that pleasing his Russian partners would have required something along those lines—adopting the role of a permanent agitator and demagogue whose chief goal would be to hamstring the Clinton administration.

      As regards #3, my (admittedly limited) understanding of handling an “asset” such as Trump tells me that he would be offered carrots as well as sticks. Mere blackmail works to keep people silent, but if you want them to take action, you’re best served by pointing out how that action is in the asset’s best interest (even if you aren’t really going to give them anything you promise).

      Finally, #4 is what I think about the most, mostly because Josh Marshall has hit that point a few times. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on that question especially.

      • BobCon says:

        I think you’re right on #3. The mob co-opts people by throwing them crumbs from time to time, in the hopes that the targets end up being more loyal to the bosses than the bosses are to themselves.

        As far as #4, I don’t think this is a complete explanation, but in part I don’t think Putin runs a pure command and control operation. I think outreach is run in a diffuse, indirect way with multiple incomplete overtures in order to increase deniability, limit detection, and confuse adversaries.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think the Russians thought Trump could win, and Don Jr reportedly said they WOULD deliver sanctions relief “when” they won, according to two of the people in the June 9 meeting. I just don’t think they thought much about what that would mean.

      I think having Trump magnify the WikiLeaks releases was key. He would have done so anyway, without a deal, because he’s a shit, but I can also imagine why you’d make those emails one of the things of value you give him.

      My understanding of how the deal worked is as a continual dance, with each providing ongoing confirmation along the way. Short of a contract, I think that’s what they were using to ensure each side held up the deal. I know that the waves of attacks are directly tied to signals from Trump/WikiLeaks in interesting ways (you also had to keep Assange on board with the belief he’d get what he wanted out of it, some way out of the Embassy).

    • AnotherKevin says:

      Others have responded to these with some good points, I’ll add my take.

      1. Trump could discredit the idea that sanctions were a good idea to continue. This is the way entrenched policies change – you float an idea, and keep floating it, until it becomes a reasonable thing. Trump may not have been the one to end them, but he could make it seem like a reasonable idea. Trump also had the proven ability to troll the Democrats and Hilary, and to disrupt American politics.

      2. He, and his supporters, kept the Hilary phantom email thing alive, and this play ended up with Comey doing his last moment intervention that probably tipped the election. His operatives and supporters also floated the idea that HRC had had a stroke, among other things.

      3. It cost them absolutely nothing to let him believe he was going to get a massive RE deal in Moscow. Notice how they never quite put anything in writing?

      4. Lots of indirect, and deniable, approaches. That how spycraft works. Short-term and long-term plays, none of which are particularly connected, probing for vulnerable spots independently. It’s a long game, with unpredictable results, but it’s how the game is played I think.

    • Kevin says:

      Trump, win or lose, would be destabilizing to the country. The more successful he was, the happier the Russians were. If he won and they could get sanctions relief out of it too, that’s like winning the lottery.

  12. Wajim says:

    So, while Trump’s motive was to make “hundreds of millions” by running for president (and exploiting that “mojo” to score the Moscow Tower deal, perhaps save the Trump Org./Himself, etc.), Putin’s motive was to “damage” Clinton in any way possible, assuming she would likely be elected (and, if so, politically weakened), and if Trump was instead somehow elected Putin would have kompromat on a President Trump he could use in many ways to Russia’s benefit, at least, even if Trump failed to repeal or somehow seriously weaken the Magnitsky sanctions?

    Have I got that about right?

    • SteveB says:

      You have left out the value to Putin of having a presidential hopeful and then candidate promote pro-Russian positions, specifically regarding sanctions and land grabs in Ukraine

    • chum'sfriend says:

      Russian Intelligence would also recognize that the Donald was a narcissistic demagogue who could tear apart the fabric of American democracy.  The Russians have been cultivating Trump since the late eighties.

      “However, secret memos written by the KGB chief, Vladimir Kryuchkov, in the mid-1980s reveal that he berated his officers for their failure to cultivate top-level Americans.

      Kryuchkov circulated a confidential personality questionnaire to KGB heads of station abroad, setting out the qualities wanted from a potential asset.According to instructions leaked to British intelligence by the KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky, they included corruption, vanity, narcissism, marital infidelity and poor analytical skills. The KGB should focus on personalities who were upwardly mobile in business and politics, especially Americans, the document said.”

      • Kai-Lee says:

        Spot on. The personality profile fit the bill completely.

        Now as to the galloping dementia…both a help and a hindrance, I’d guess.

    • BroD says:

      Sure Russia wanted to hurt Hillary but–Clinton aside–they just wanted to  fuck with the US generally.

  13. Trip says:

    Marcy did you see this? Kushner was cultivated by the Sauds (and duped)

    A delegation of Saudis close to the prince visited the United States as early as the month Mr. Trump was elected, the documents show, and brought back a report identifying Mr. Kushner as a crucial focal point in the courtship of the new administration. He brought to the job scant knowledge about the region, a transactional mind-set and an intense focus on reaching a deal with the Palestinians that met Israel’s demands, the delegation noted…“The inner circle is predominantly deal makers who lack familiarity with political customs and deep institutions, and they support Jared Kushner,” the Saudi delegation wrote of the incoming administration in a slide presentation obtained by the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, which provided it to The Times. Several Americans who spoke with the delegation confirmed the slide presentation’s accounts of the discussions.

    *Tom Barrack was instrumental
    **Tillerson was not happy about the approach.

    • Naomi says:

      with Saudi promises of dollars in the billions rather than the Russian promises of hundreds of millions,   who was playing the Trumps with greater skill?  (Saudi coaching from Israel???)

      • alaura says:

        Considering that hi-5 Bro-fest at the G-20 between Putin and Bone-Saw Salman, I’d say they’re both celebrating ownership of this administration. (thanks rudeG!)

  14. RWood says:

    How powerful has Mitch McConnell just become?

    If I’m understanding this correctly, (IANAL) Drumps best bet now is to stay in office as long as possible. His chances of actually seeing the inside of a jail cell comes down to his remaining time in office, age, and the number of appeals he can muster. Loosing the 2020 election will shorten that timeline. Impeachment before then would do so even further, but am I wrong to think he could still appeal his way out of prison until he dies of dementia?

    His kids and co-conspirators, not so much.

  15. Tom S. says:

    Last link in my Tom S. at 2:59 pm should have displayed as,
    Dr. George Crile, Jr Yale ’29, was the Bonesman in my Reagan & Shaheen, no coincidence
    test. Crile was a hometown (Cleveland) friend of H James Rand, employer of1959 defector Robert E Webster. Crile next door neighbor was Drew Pearson’s wife’s brother Dan T Moore, and Rand
    was best man in John Shaheen’s 1951 wedding, after which the Crile, Moore, and Rand families
    joined the honeymoon trip of newly wed Shaheen’s for treasure hunt diving off Marathon Key.
    After Webster defected, a CIA document reports Dan T Moore advocating a Moscow kidnapping
    attempt of Webster, bundling him into a Rand Development Corp. car left in Moscow after the
    1959 Science Fair, and spiriting him out of the Soviet territory in the car trunk.

      • J R in WV says:


        Obviously, famous conservative muckraker columnist Drew Pearson (who once took a nap in my youngster’s bed before a speech) was a controlling part of the communist conspiracy now in control of the world.

        And now Trump has replaced him as emperor of the world~!!~ Right? hehe.


        Lee Harvey Osmond Osbourne Osgood  ;-)

      • Vern says:

        I dunno, but it appears we came into the middle of a conversation with someone(s) we’re unable to see or hear.

        Hopefully it all comes out OK for Tom.  I’m a little worried for him, though.

  16. vertalio says:

    Following you and this crowd has kept me reasonably sane since your series back in May, Marcy.  Thanks for being an actual excellent journalist.

    Even if Clinton won, she’d have been mauled and facing a hostile congress, and the odds of Twitler shutting up after losing are vanishingly slim.  We’d be debating her impeachment instead of ConFraudUs.  And after their success helping Brexit pass, the Kremlin must have known odds were quite good they could get DJT elected before detection, or at least the downstream GOP senators and reps.

    How many of these knew where their bread was being buttered from?

    (apologies if my info does not match priors; I rarely comment.  Will write it down!)

      • Jenny says:

        Vertalio – agree with you about Clinton.  She would have been ‘”mauled.”  Good word.  This site has helped me to maintain balance.

        For me this is about exposure.  Exposing the “gunk” that has been bubbling for years in our society and politics from misogyny, racism,  xenophobia, homophobia, bigotry, greed and all the ugliness deeply hidden.  A huge boil growing and growing until Trump came along and it burst.  As he is the poster child for all listed, The Ugly American.  Toxins released to exposure what needs to change in order to create equality for ALL.

        • Lee says:

          Ever since 2016 I’ve tried to find some hope in the thought that Trump would so dirty the GOP’s brand that some measure of correction could then be initiated, that we’d reached the point that *something* had to give – the boil had to burst as you say – that even if the immediate consequence involved some bloodshed or financial turmoil the country could begin to heal.  This was and is incredibly wishful thinking, I realize.  I never would have guessed that nearly 1/3 of Americans would be so inured to the right wing noise machine that they would end up practically impervious to factual truth.  But I’ve been modestly encouraged by how some media sectors have risen to their patriotic duty in ferreting out the truth (big shout out to Marcy!!), moderately encouraged by the 2018 election results and the patriotic coming-together and enabled it, and hugely encouraged by Robert Mueller III and the steady tenacity of the rule of law in a nation that is supposed to be a nation of laws, not men.

          I have no idea whether the US will finally renounce Trumpism and return to the family of democratic nations, but I have seen things the past two years that make me still feel tentatively proud to be an American.

    • alaura says:

      Clinton could have dealt with all that, plus, under her watch, we would not have kidnapped babies from their parents…or gassed asylum seekers, starved children in Yemen, kicked Puerto Rico to the curb, or ever talked about “raking the forest floor”. And Kap would still have his job, and Heather Heyer would still be alive.

  17. hhoran says:

    Two questions:

    <the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government. If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues>

    1. How could a (still hypothetical) Moscow Trump Tower be perceived as being worth “hundreds of million dollars” to Trump interests? How many projects of this nature–anywhere in the world–generate this much ongoing steady cash surplus? Trump collects licensing fees on lots of other projects, but the orders of magnitude seem wildly wrong here. Trump doesn’t take major risks–the real profits (if any) go elsewhere, and those partners (presumably Russian) would be expecting far greater returns than anything Trump could realize from licensing fees.

    2. In the (expected) scenario where Trump doesn’t win, why would Trump (or anyone else) expect Russian interests to follow through on a Moscow tower quid pro quo where a huge portion of project profits go to the Trump Organization in the US? Perhaps they’d be happy to pay out a couple million in fees as thanks for the anti-Clinton stuff, but “hundreds of millions” seems absurd.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      Think of the Moscow Project as a way for the Russian Oligarchs to launder money on their own turf with little risk from financial oversight authorities like the SEC figuring out where and whence it all came from.  Trump could see hundreds of billions of $ and/or rubles flow through his hands to Western assets (real estate, equities, bond, etc.) that the Oligarchy would then profit from.  Trump’s payoff would be hundreds of millions in “handling fees” and his name in lights at the top of Moscow’s skyline – something he will never see in Manhattan.

  18. lowdenf23c says:

    Off Topic Request for Sidebar:

    I get that RICO is a bit of a sore spot/running joke for Mr. Bmaz and others.  But this non-lawyer has no clue why.  Anyone willing to learn me?



  19. Tom S. says:

    I was recently the comments editor at Jeff Morley site, . I did not accept poorly

    or unsupported comments containing outlandish claims and beliefs. Maybe I am regarding too

    many things as nails.

    JFK files: 15-year lawsuit over mysterious CIA agent … – USA Today…/435989002/

    Mar 19, 2018 – So far, however, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has disagreed, ruling there … is the fifth time Morley’s case has been presented, Lesar said.

    Judge Leon, appointed by ’43, has presided over this for 15 years.
    House October Surprise Task Force – Wikipedia
    The HouseOctober SurpriseTask Force was a task force instituted by the United States House … The Task Force’s Chief MinorityCounsel, Richard J.Leon, had been Deputy Chief MinorityCounselin the Congressional Iran-Contra …
    October Surprise, Nov 12 1991 | Video |
    Dec 1, 1991 -Former National SecurityCouncilmember Gary Sick discussed his recent bookOctober Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of … RichardLeone, the president of the foundation is, I just think, a terrific guy.
    Trump seems harmless compared to what was lipsticked and buried last week. Compare
    the power and influence that brought and applied the lipstick on the 1981 – 2009 actual
    history last week to what Trump shows inclination or ability to bury. His exposure grew
    and his reputation fell as establisment republican influence and reputation seemed to rise
    on steroids from Dec., 1 until Dec. 7.

    • cat herder says:

      The drive-by evangelist looking for lost souls to save in the comment thread

      JFK. The grassy knoll. MKUltra spies walk among us, uncaring, unnoticed, unremarkable.

      Cold winter rain.

      • Tom S. says:

        cat herder at 5:28 pm,

        You do not know me. I think I last posted in 2016 but I have been a reader since the Libby trial coverage. I identify with the talent and intellect EW is finallt but still gradually is becoming increasingly recognized for. The Trump side hangs on every word by Sara Carter or Solomon opinionating at thehill despite no one able to cite when the last time was either was accurate in the fullness of time, vs EW. I have learned to be satisfied if my sharing is met with silence instead of my reception here today. I have a talent for busting myths. Consider this reaction from the former military liason to the ARRB, Doug Horne. He certainly reacted unappreciatively to my facts. My discovery prompted to rewrites of his friend, Peter Janney’s poorly researched book, Mary’s Mosaic. Janney is a psychologist PhD and son of late CIA personnel director Wistar Janney, but the son went to the opposite side of the father, a neighborhood where you and others seem to be relocating me. One example, a poster here reacted to my shared details as if I linked late columnist D. Pearson, who I thought was a liberal syndicated columnist and former muckraker of his time, to something nefarious when I only offered background on Dan T Moore. This was Doug Horne’s reaction to verifiable facts counter to his belief  system, posted under my Amazon site review of the book by Janney. Please consider how similar I am received here today, despite the actual reliability of the information I’ve posted here and in that book review.: Image link:  Horne, to me: “What kind of person would know this info? Likely a spook?” If past experience is any indication, someone here will next post an accusation I am tooting more own horn. BTW, I was informed by Jeff Morley after exclusively moderating all comments on his website nearly a year that he would assume that role himself because visitor logs showed decline. I was confronting too many CT assumptions with facts discouraging further flights to fancy. The forgiveness of beyond the pale establishment republican aggression was rooted in the nonreaction of Dems to the fall, 1980 October surprise, followed by the Iran Contra offenders all receiving pardons by an incoming Bush Admin instead of the norm, at the end of a lame duck or 8 year term. Consider page 18 of the 1991 Senate testimony of Bob Gates contrasted with the pass he received. It is not hard to google a description of Gates as an unprecedented holdover by an incoming Dem admin, in 2009.: Casey & Shaheen were dead and Dems rolled over, in reaction to this mendacious    Gates.: The pdf  link is a 225 pg excerpt, this links to image of page18,:  Earlier today, Rahm was on to advise  incoming democrats to only investigate cabinet officers and dept., even as republicans were still grilling Comey about Hillary and Barr is reported to think highly of deeper Uranium One probing. Rahm was the best Dem house caucus fund raiser, pre 2009. He had a hand in holding Gates over as Sec Def for years. He knows better how to attract donors than voters. Lincoln received a deluge of complaints about Grant from back stabbing competitors. Lincoln responded simply, “I like Grant because he fights.” If you know the history of Hugh Downs’s brother in law John Shaheen and Casey, you might better understand why this past week’s Bush hagiography started me toying with, if the 1981 – 2009 republican hierarchy did not have Trump emerge, they would have invented him. Resume the eggs and tomato tossing, if you must, but the high fiving I sensed when I arrived here earlier and the assumption posted that Trump was not normal caught my eye, especially considering the entirety of MSM presentation this past week, I clumsily tried to ask, normal, compared to what? Directing more specific questions to me would be appreciated but the reception I am receiving here so far is par for the course and I know I am a researcher with a thick skin and reliable recall, and not a CT. I accept I am inferior to those who initially reflexively react by reinforcing themselves by being dismissive. Consider if CT Horne was better at it than anyone who attempted  it in this discussion.


        • cat herder says:

          Jesus. Maybe you should switch back to the poetry-linebreak format. Nobody reads wall-of-text screeds like that. Nobody.

        • bmaz says:

          This too is true. Paragraph breaks are a good thing. Though not sure even that would have remedied that run on nonsense comment by “TomS” or “Scully” or whatever he is.

  20. Marinela says:

    Few things.

    Considering the normal progression of things, the expectation was that presidency would switch to republican hands, as it is truly hard to win a third term.

    So what were the republican delegates thinking when they nominated Trump back in 2016?

    Did Trump got the nomination fair and square? Heard some rumblings that without Manaford ‘help’, Trump would not be the republican nominee.

    After Trump became the republican nominee, Putin was probably making an educated guess that Trump would win the presidency. So Putin was dealing with that assumption.

    However, I think Trump was dealing with the assumption that he may loose, so he wanted to maximize the benefits in case of loosing, so he probably made promises he cannot keep now that he won.

    But if he wins, then that in itself benefits him. For Trump ego, it is the icing on the cake.

    Just cannot shake the image of Trump on election night, he looked really scared and surprised when he learned he had won.

    The other strange thing to me, Trump started to campaign immediately after he got elected, as he was trying to convince the public that he is a legitimate president, to increase his base.


    • Trip says:

      I think Trump loves the (adoring) crowds and thought being the president was a performance, like his with businesses or his reality TV show. He probably also enjoyed the infusion of campaign cash and the trending of his namesake brand. He might have been scared when he won, but it’s difficult for me to accept that he actually wasn’t trying to win since his running goes back to 2011.

      • Jenny says:

        Trip, just an extension of a production like The Apprentice.  However on a larger stage.  Lights, camera, action, greed and crime.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Trump is the performance.  He brings it to whatever he does.  Like Commodus, he’s been afraid all his life.  He hates what he is afraid of and wants everyone to join him in his hate because he hates being alone most of all.  He’ll be in hell if he has to be put into solitary to keep him safe.  I don’t imagine his Secret Service detail will like it much either.

  21. Rusharuse says:

    A previous encounter between an Army vet and a greedy psycho crim . .

    “Johnny Rocco: Thousands of guys have got guns. There’s only one Johnny Rocco.
    James Temple: How do you account for it?
    Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don’t you, Rocco?
    Johnny Rocco: Sure.
    James Temple: What’s that?
    Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
    Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh …
    Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?
    Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!
    James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
    Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
    Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t. You, do you know what you want?
    Frank McCloud: Yes, I had hopes once, but I gave them up.
    Johnny Rocco: Hopes for what?
    Frank McCloud: A world in which there’s no place for Johnny Rocco.”

  22. Marinela says:

    Sure, Trump wanted to win, no doubt.
    But he was dealing to maximize benefits for the scenario when he would lose.
    Would be interesting to understand what he promised, for the wining case.
    You cannot get ‘free’ help, win, and not return the favor somehow.

    This is why I think immediately after the election, he started the narrative of saying there is a Trump movement, he started campaigning like crazy, he is always defensive about the intelligence findings on Russian interference.
    It seems like he is trying to re-write his candidate image, maximize his contribution, it was him alone that won, not the help he got.
    This way he could renegotiate the deal.

    Will probably get the clearer picture after Muller completes the investigation, if he is allowed to get to the bottom of this tangled web.

  23. AA Bender says:

    It might be of interest, and it might be coincidence:

    Bank-3 = First Republic Bank

    Tom Barrack = Director of First Republic Bank

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      ‘Bank’ is a sanitized term for a wealth management company that appears to have offices located *only* in communities with ‘high net worth’ households:


  24. Vinnie Gambone says:

    If Mueller was to come across a succession of condo sales designed to inflate condo values for loan fraud and money laundering purposes , that would have some of the elements of a RICO charge, no? Trump and Cohen and the kids know, that of the dozens of Russians who have bought Trump properties, they know who bought what and who sold what to whom, and what the profit was and how quick the turnover was , etc. Forgive me for hoping, now that Mueller has Trump’s tax returns ( please God) Mueller finds evidence of Trump’s participation of long running money laundering operation. No more on the RICO discussion as it could displace more pertinent discussions . Just want them to nail this guy.

    He’s proof you can’t polish Schitt.

  25. JD12 says:


    yesterday’s Manafort filing makes it clear that Tom Barrack had a much bigger role in this than previously known

    I’ve always been curious about Barrack’s involvement in Trump’s Washington hotel. Immediately after Trump officially won the nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention (Barrack gave a speech there as well), his company, Colony Capital, backed out of financing the Washington hotel. The oligarch laundromat Deutsche Bank gave the brand new Republican nominee a loan of $170 million instead.

    I’m not sure what it means or if it means anything at all. But instead of Cohen and Sater handing negotiations off to Papadopoulos as EW wrote about the other day, I wonder if they just decided to nix the Moscow project and buy Trump the Washington hotel instead. It could be done quietly behind the scenes.

    It made absolutely no sense for Barrack to pull out at that point. The project was a year ahead of schedule. His partner in the deal was weeks away from becoming president. It’s hard to imagine he had a better investment that he needed the money for.

    Colony didn’t announce they were pulling out until WaPo inquired about it. They told WaPo it was because the timeline was too long for them, but at the start of the project they explicitly said they preferred a long-term investment.

    Again, I’m not sure it means anything but many things were happening and all the key players were together at the convention.

  26. Tom S. says:

    I am not comfortable with this level of sharing, but I presented my cc for payment a few weeks back for a cream liqueur my wife is partial to. The counter man made a confusing move after glancing at my card. He smiled as he produce his wallet and fished out his own DL. I am long past the point of expecting to be carded and I was totally confused. He insisted I take a closer look at his license. He had the same surname as your posting handle. I’ll let the book author mentioned in my immediate prior post complete his description of me, as my introduction to you here.:

    Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary
    By Peter Janney

    written by a DiEugenio protégé whose name, I discovered, was Tom Scully, but he would identify himself on Amazon only as “Rational Voice.” Discussing his critical post of Mary’s Mosaic in an email to a University of Georgia law professor, ..



      • Trip says:

        Why not just come out with it, “Deep state against the innocent Trump”? Or how about “Trump is actually working with Mueller”?

        • Tom S. says:

          Geez, Louise, what’s it gonna take? All I want is….

          No short-haired, yellow-belliedSon of individual one’sGonna mother hubbard soft soap meWith just a pocket full of hopes

          R.I.P. John….. and Peter Smith

          BTW, I got a relative close enough I shouldn’t react this way, but I no longer discuss anything with him deeper than the weather forecast. He is convinced FBI and Mueller are deep state actors out to deny the success of what he voted for…


        • Trip says:

          So why are you filling this site with multiple comments on a JFK conspiracy? How is it pertinent to what Marcy is writing about, and in such excess?

        • Trip says:

          FWIW, my intention wasn’t to drive Tom S off. I was hoping for context, especially how it relates to this subject.

    • cat herder says:

      Here’s some perspective for you. Sincerely, I mean this to be a help to you, either to make your writing more accessible, or to better understand the pushback you’re receiving here. Or both.

      I, personally, cannot make heads nor tails out of what you’re trying to say. It’s stream-of-consciousness rambling gibberish to me. The thing about stream-of-consciousness is, my own SOC, written down, would make sense TO ME. But it would be gibberish to anyone else. No one’s internal monologue would make sense to others. It has to be filtered and translated first to add context.

      You jump around from thing to thing to person to event to date to URL, and those connections that make it seem logical inside your own personal SOC aren’t available to us as outsiders. You have to explain it. You can’t seem to write a complete sentence. It’s disjointed and random. Trying to read it makes my head hurt, because the context that would make it make sense exists only inside your own head, and you haven’t bothered to put your thoughts into a form that can be understood by anyone who isn’t you.

  27. I Never Lie and Am Always Right says:

    A poem, eh?  Here’s something I saw somewhere else, a while ago, to be sung by Donald Trump regarding Don Jr.’s denials as to what transpired at the meeting with the Russkies:

    My Donnie lies over the ocean; my Donnie lies over the grass;

    My Donnie deserves a promotion, for lying to save my ass.

    Greenbacks! Greenbacks! Oh Greenbacks for Donnie and Me, yes Me!

    Greenbacks! Greenbacks! Oh Greenbacks for Donnie and Me!

  28. Ern says:

    Just read Cannonfire article on Barr. Depressing. Makes me believe that they’ll actually get away with it.

  29. Benb says:

    No one else was inThe room where it happenedThe room where it happenedThe room where it happenedNo one else was inThe room where it happenedThe room where it happenedThe room where it happenedNo one really knows how the game is playedThe art of the tradeHow the sausage gets madeWe just assume that it happensBut no one else is inThe room where it happens  

  30. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Late to this, but I’ve always believed that the campaign was basically the last gasp to keep the Family Business from imploding in the way that Robert Maxwell’s businesses did when he fell off his yacht. Had King Idiot lost, there’d be the rebranding of OANN and the presumption of impunity because there’d be no real way for Hillary’s DOJ to investigate without it seeming like political retribution.

    The dog caught the car. Like a dog. And it only knew it had caught the car when Guccifer 2.0 emerged — and perhaps not even then.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yes, I think Robert Maxwell is a good point of comparison for the grifter-in-chief, as is the idea that the Russians were primarily propping up Trump’s businesses – in order to make use of them  for laundering and other services – and that a successful run at the presidency was a secondary consideration.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        The Moscow Project, as pitched, was probably along the lines of “become a real oligarch like the backers of the SoHo deal or the Agalarovs. You’ll have a true money spigot, just don’t ask questions about where it came from.” As Josh Marshall says, Friday’s SCO filing talks about hundreds of millions of dollars. It was the promise of freedom from the endless sluicing of money from one entity to another to keep the wheels turning. And he bit.


  31. Ewan says:

    How does all this fit with Trump prior involvement with Russian funds? Is the working  hypothesis that until Oct 15, he was not in cahoots with the Russian government, simply with powerful oligarchs using the Trump Organization for money laundering purposes?

    I am asking because I don’t understand otherwise why Michael Cohen needed to be approached in Oct 15, apparently (according to Fridays’s release) to no avail, by the government.

      • Setlistthief says:

        Hi bmaz-I’ve been wandering in the wilderness for years, nice to find one’s way home. Thanks for the welcome!

        • bmaz says:

          I think you will find what you remember about EW: It is not the easiest place, but a very true, accurate, fair and tough place for evaluation of where we are. Nothing has changed here. Welcome back!

  32. di says:

    On the 12/7 show of Hardball with Chris Matthews, they highlighted how the SDNY filings emphasized the direct ties between DJT and Cohen, then later briefly questioned why Cohen would not cooperate more with SDNY for a lesser sentence. It seems to be one of the first times I’ve publicly heard mentioned other mob/organized illegal crime financial dealings as one possible reason. Of course, SDNY affords this opportunity unlike the Special Counsel’s primary focus. Some have said Cohen might still be able to cooperate more after the sentencing to lower his sentence. Don’t believe it’s likely but it would be so much more worthwhile to go into “darker dealings” given the fact that common citizens have been put through this and won’t directly benefit from any outcome anyway. But was wondering if anyone has heard such talk.

  33. Jeff Stewart says:

    “How badly underwater do you expect we’ll learn Trump Organization is and was?”
    There is a very good reason not to divest of the Trump Org. fully from the get-go: Trump couldn’t. My working assumption is that Trump Org. is bankrupt, too crooked under the hood to sell to an arms-length investor, or both.

  34. la fisher says:

    Trump’s money laundering activities are well documented. Surely Mueller has evidence. What I cannot fathom is what Putin has on Trump, who generally is without shame or embarrassment. Trump’s face and body language after their meeting in Helsinki proved to me that there is lots of fire, not just smoke. Pee pee tape? Perhaps, but likely more to do with money, treasonous activity, or Ivanka or E. all of the above.

  35. Sofla says:

    I’m having a Lt. Colombo moment here. After accepting what has been said, I turn and put my hand to my furrowed brow and say, there’s just this one thing that’s bothering me:

    How was the Trump Moscow Tower going to be a consolation prize if DJT didn’t win the presidency, when the the financing depended upon removing the sanctions, and removing the sanctions seemed to require his winning the presidency?  I must have some part of that wrong, apparently.

    Long time reader here, and my compliments to Marcy and contributors here for all their insights.

    • bmaz says:

      I’ll take a stab at that. Trump and Putin were “playing the field”. Your question is as to Trump and the Tower as a consolation prize. Trump was the Presidential candidate to be of one of only two political parties in the US; he was to be the leader of the party in control of Congress. He had power, and he wanted to build in Moscow. If he won, he could alter the sanctions regime. But even if he lost and had curried enough favor with Putin, he could still build the project in Moscow and still urge the GOP Congress to lighten sanctions. Does everything line up? No, but if you are on the hustle and “playing the field” it kind of makes sense. And that is almost the definition of Trump as a “businessman”. That’s the best I got.

  36. Tom S. says:

    The first thread I posted in on this site since my comment in an Ed Walker post thread in 2016 was two days ago,, attempting to support my point there is no benchmark for “normal” if it involves republicans, to a somewhat lesser degree, democrats and MSM. Last week for example, if the facts were given distribution by MSM according to the actual weight and impact of them, Bush ’41 may not have been so thoroughly feted and his son and the SCOTUS majority would not have “beaten” Al Gore in 2000. We’ll never know, partly because of assumptions of what is normal, shaped by non right wing slanted MSM and those in our tribe. Our tribe tends to be circular. Three months ago, the debate might have centered more on Kavanaugh’s competence and I posted supporting evidence for this in a link (in the first comment string in Trash Talk) describing his incompetent ruling earlier on the same day he and his family were introduced at the White House, where his remarks opened praising Trump with a partisan slant. Today there are complaints in comments on EW’s most recent post, in reaction to the wording in a NY Times article headline. I was unsuccessful in my comments on Saturday night in making my point tying the abnormalcy of the attention accorded by the establishment and MSM to ’41, vs what “the work” of the judge Kavanaugh ruled in favor of earlier on the day he was introduced, might have imparted to us and how it helped (the influence the judge that Kavanaugh ruled in favor of) intensify abnormality to its present level. IOW, this same judge had outsized roles in influencing the consequences of the Iran Contra and the 1992 October Surprise legislative investigations. In July, a conservative judge senior to Kavanaugh was the minority dissenter in the 2 – 1 decision and the extra long opinion she wrote spoke sternly of the more general judicial competence of both Kavanaugh and this zelig-like judge he ruled in favor of. I find things, usually not in real time, like EW does, (her recent post about RatFucker r.s. noticing what she has been doing, is brilliant!) and I know what will happen when I try to share what I find. in a small way, I quietly rewrite history. It took me a year, after I discovered well into the Arnold “Shriver” admin in Sacramento, that Gray Davis’s family millions had originated in the estate distribution of his grandfather who provided material support to the Nazi victory in France and in enabling of the Battle of Britain than any support Arnold’s family may have contributed to Hitler’s reich, to edit even a hint of this into Gray Davis’s wikipedia article. Davis’s grandfather, thanks to my sole perseverance, is named in Davis’s wiki bio and linked to the grandfather’s wiki bio that I created. We’re talking about the two choices presented to voter’s in our largest state in the 2003 recall contest both having Nazi linked backgrounds, but only Arnold being upfront about his, pre-vetting the details to the Weisenthal Center, and taking his lumps via MSM pre-election coverage, nonetheless. Where was MSM or republican oppo research on this hidden history? The same place MSM and democratic party oppo research was last week, and every time a Bush ran nationally at least since 1980. Again, I am urging commenters to leave vetting of newbies to the EW staff, instead of reflexively, generally eating them alive. Greg commenting in this thread is an anamoly. He posted in a language a number of regulars understand. My comments seem to elicit, “huh” ? responses. Questions, the narrower the better, always welcomed.

  37. Tom S. says:

    bmaz, the power supply for my laptop suddenly quit on Saturday. (I suspect nothing sinister, just heat and age)
    Struggling since, using a tablet with a usb port facilitating an analog keyboard. Tiny touchscreen is a poor substitute for laptop mouse. I am familiar with WP comment formating and options and I will get my act together here, when I can again power my laptop, ASAP.

  38. CaliLawyer says:

    Maybe the multi-pronged outreach had a multi-pronged quid pro quo as well?

    Thought Just Security made a strong argument here:

    Would have been a great landing spot for Hannity, Jones, Giuliani, Beck and the rest of the bloviators, and Trump could have had all the media coverage his tiny little heart desired. Crossfire for white supremacists with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, lol.

  39. Jockobadger says:

    Thank you Cali.  That article nicely addressed some questions I’ve been wondering about, particularly irt the openness displayed by the Russians.  I can’t believe what I’ve been reading/seeing over the last couple of years.   I’m sincerely glad that EW and all of you are here.

Comments are closed.