Compromise: Before Trump Won His First Primary, Putin Collected His First Receipt

In this post, I noted that, while important, the Buzzfeed story on Trump’s role in Michael Cohen’s lies to Congress did not advance our understanding of  how the Trump Tower deal fits into the larger Trump conspiracy with Russia.

It doesn’t include a number of details that would be more important for understanding how the Trump Tower deal relates to other parts of Trump’s conspiracy with Russians: who (if not Trump himself or Don Jr) was the senior campaign official who knew of Cohen’s negotiations, precisely what Don Jr knew of the negotiations on June 3 when he took a meeting described to be “part of  Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” and whether the timing of Cohen’s plans for a trip to St. Petersburg — which started on June 9 and ended on June 14 — related somehow to the June 9 Trump Tower meeting and the June 14 revelation that Russians had hacked the DNC. It’d also be useful to know whether Cohen had any 2016 dealings with Ike Kaveladze, who knew of Cohen from the 2013 business dealings between Trump and the Agalarovs, and who had a curious reaction to a video of him in the wake of the June 9 meeting story breaking. Those are the details that would advance the story of how the Trump Tower deal relates to Russia’s efforts to hack the election.

But there is a piece of the Cohen statement of the offense the significance of which hasn’t gotten sufficient attention. That’s the detail that Dmitry Peskov’s personal assistant took detailed notes from a 20-minute January 20, 2016 phone call with Cohen, which led to Putin’s office contacting Felix Sater the next day.

On or about January 16, 2016, COHEN emailed [Peskov]’s office again, said he was trying to reach another high-level Russian official, and asked for someone who spoke English to contact him.

On or about January 20, 2016 , COHEN received an email from the personal assistant to [Peskov] (“Assistant 1 “), stating that she had been trying to reach COHEN and requesting that he call her using a Moscow-based phone number she provided.

Shortly after receiving the email, COHEN called Assistant 1 and spoke to her for approximately 20 minutes. On that call, COHEN described his position at the Company and outlined the proposed Moscow Project, including the Russian development company with which the Company had partnered. COHEN requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction. Assistant 1 asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would follow up with others in Russia.

The day after COHEN’s call with Assistant 1, [Sater] contacted him, asking for a call. Individual 2 wrote to COHEN, “It’s about [the President of Russia] they called today.”

Cohen had lied about this, claiming that he had emailed Peskov’s public comment line just once, but gotten no response.

This language is important not just because it shows that Cohen lied.  It’s important because of what Cohen would have said to Peskov’s assistant. And it’s important because a written record of what Cohen said got handed on to Putin’s office, if not Putin himself.

BuzzFeed’s piece from May reveals that Cohen would have been in discussions with one of two banks in January 2016: VTB or GenBank.

Their surrogates in Moscow would be meeting with Putin and a “top deputy” just two days later, and they had financing: VTB Bank President and Chairman Andrey Kostin was on board to fund the project, Sater said in an email.

The bank was a dicey choice. VTB was under US sanctions at the time, with American citizens and companies forbidden to do business with it. Asked by congressional investigators if he knew the bank was blacklisted, Sater responded: “Of course. I wasn’t seeking funding, the local development partner would have. Trump Organization never gets financing from local partners.”


New Year’s Eve 2015, he sent Cohen an image of a letter from GenBank — not VTB Bank, as they had earlier discussed — inviting the men to Moscow for a visit.

Just nine days earlier, the US Treasury Department had sanctioned GenBank for operating in Crimea after the disputed Russian takeover. GenBank became the first Russian financial institution to move into the Crimean peninsula.

Both were sanctioned. While Sater (who seems to have knowingly set this trap) dismissed the import of the sanctions, Cohen clearly knew — and left record that he knew in communications with Sater — that they were the intended funders.

A former GRU officer contact of Sater’s was key to obtaining funding from VTB.

This friend is a former member of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit that the US intelligence community believes interfered during the 2016 election.


[On December 19], Sater told Cohen that their invitations and visas were being arranged by VTB Bank, and that Kostin, the bank’s powerful president and chairman, would meet Cohen in Moscow. Key to getting VTB on board was the former GRU spy; Sater told congressional and special counsel investigators that the former spy said he had a source at VTB Bank who would support the deal.

Obtaining funding from GenBank would have relied on Putin and Peskov.

Sater told Cohen that GenBank operates “through Putin’s administration and nothing gets done there without approval from the top. The meetings in Moscow will be with ministers — in US, that’s cabinet-level and with Putin’s top administration people. This likely will include Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary. To discuss goals, meeting agenda and meeting time between Putin and Trump.”

The BuzzFeed article makes it clear that Sater’s GRU contact got back involved after Cohen’s conversation with Peskov’s assistant.

All of which is to say that when Cohen called Peskov’s assistant, he would have told her that he was speaking on behalf of Donald Trump, that Trump remained interested in a Trump Tower in Moscow (as he had been in 2013, the last time Putin had dangled a personal meeting with Trump), and that on Trump’s behalf Cohen was willing to discuss making a deal involving both a sanctioned bank (whichever one it was) and a former GRU officer.

So it’s not just that Trump was pursuing a real estate deal while running for President. He was pursuing a real estate deal involving a sanctioned  bank — possibly one sanctioned for its involvement in Crimea — and involving someone with ties to the intelligence agency that was preparing to hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.

Cohen told Peskov’s assistant Trump was willing to negotiate that deal while running for President. The assistant wrote all that down (how Mueller knows this is an interesting question on its own right). And then she or Peskov passed on at least the content of the notes to get Putin’s office to contact Sater.

And all that happened before Trump performed unexpectedly well in the Iowa caucuses on February 1.

Last year, I argued that — pee tape or no — the kompromat Putin has on Trump consists of a series of receipts of Trump formally communicating his willingness to enter into a conspiracy with Russia, receipts that would be devastating if Putin released them.

Trump and the Russians were engaged in a call-and-response, a call-and-response that appears in the Papadopoulos plea and (as Lawfare notes) the GRU indictment, one that ultimately did deal dirt and got at least efforts to undermine US sanctions (to say nothing of the Syria effort that Trump was implementing less than 14 hours after polls closed, an effort that has been a key part of both Jared Kushner and Mike Flynn’s claims about the Russian interactions).

At each stage of this romance with Russia, Russia got a Trump flunkie (first, Papadopoulos) or Trump himself to publicly engage in the call-and-response. All of that led up to the point where, on July 16, 2018, after Rod Rosenstein loaded Trump up with a carefully crafted indictment showing Putin that Mueller knew certain things that Trump wouldn’t fully understand, Trump came out of a meeting with Putin looking like he had been thoroughly owned and stood before the entire world and spoke from Putin’s script in defiance of what the US intelligence community has said.

People are looking in the entirely wrong place for the kompromat that Putin has on Trump, and missing all the evidence of it right in front of their faces.

Vladimir Putin obtained receipts at each stage of this romance of Trump’s willing engagement in a conspiracy with Russians for help getting elected. Putin knows what each of those receipts mean.

What Cohen’s plea deal makes clear is that Putin pocketed the first of those receipts — a receipt showing Trump’s willingness to work with both sanctioned banks and the GRU — even before the first vote was cast. Even before GRU hacked its first Democratic target (though APT 29 had been spying on the Democrats since the previous summer).

Discussing a real estate deal is not, as Trump has repeated, illegal. If that’s all this were about, Trump and Cohen might not have lied about it.

But it’s not. Even before the GRU hacked John Podesta, even before Don Jr told his June 9 visitors that his dad would consider lifting sanctions if he got elected, Michael Cohen let a key Putin deputy know that Trump would be happy to discuss real estate deals that involved both partnering with the GRU and with sanctioned banks.

And Putin has been sitting on that receipt ever since.

Update: 22-paragraphs into a 1400-word story on the latest developments in the Trump Tower Moscow story yesterday, the NYT revealed the name of the officer, without explaining why the connection is important to the larger story of a GRU-led operation targeting the US election.

One of the people Mr. Sater contacted was Evgeny Shmykov, a former general in Russian military intelligence who once worked with anti-Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Mr. Sater appears to have seen Mr. Shmykov as a conduit to get Russian government approval for the Trump project.

According to emails reviewed by The Times, Mr. Sater sent an urgent message to Mr. Cohen in late 2015 saying that Mr. Shmykov was on the phone and he needed passport information for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump so they could receive visas.

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. 

134 replies
  1. Lit3Bolt says:

    “Thank you for coming to our secret little meeting and cashing the first paycheck we sent you.”

    “Of course, if you don’t cooperate, we’ll tell the world you came to our little secret meeting and accepted bribes from us.”

      • A. Non says:

        Except he didn’t cash the paycheck.  It’s common in negotiating to appear to accept terms that you intend to renegotiate before finalizing the deal.  Like, “let’s get this deal done” then “oh and by the way can we change the bank”.  So this isn’t much of a receipt.

  2. somecallmetim says:

    Wow – so this moves to Jan 20-21, 2016 the date from which Russia amped up it’s efforts supporting Trump? (Assuming the previous
    ‘setting the hook in Trump’s maw” date was the June 9 meeting or another later date.) This seems to cast other Jan-Jun contacts between Trump and the Russians in a harsher light.

      • Desider says:

        To fill in some of the 2015 timeline: Oct 2015, a month before Tad Devine joined Bernie’s team, and 4 mos. after Rick Gates arranged for Tad to fly to Kiev for urgent talks with Kilimnik (with a nice paycheck of $40k-50k).

        According to Manafort, he has not worked in Ukraine since the October 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election.[93][94] However, according to Ukrainian border control entry data, Manafort traveled to Ukraine several times after that election, all the way through late 2015.[94]

  3. obsessed says:

    In light of the extensive discussion about security clearances early on–how crucial it is that no one in a position of access or power be blackmailable–it’s just gobsmacking to me that Trump is so profoundly blackmailable by Russia about non-sexual matters (since he’s immune to that kind of criticism)–and that everyone in the GOP isn’t going nuts about it.

  4. firsttimecaller says:

    Out of curiosity: is the lack of reporting like this from both the MSM and smaller, non-EW outlets due to the non-explosive-feeling nature of the straightforward analysis Marcy provides or what? You’d think publications that have no qualms guessing out loud about redactions or mystery appellants would be able to read the stuff that’s in plain sight and come to these sorts of conclusions. Not to suggest that a) educated guessing is or should be off-limits or b) Marcy Wheeler isn’t a first-rate journalist who deserves copious credit for being among the first to de-tangle things, but this information *is* just hanging out there and the conclusions made here are very reasonable.

    Kudos, obviously, to everyone who makes this site run, and to Marcy for keeping things in perspective.

    • emptywheel says:

      Editors like human sources. So while there is abundant evidence, in documentary form, that Trump has suborned perjury, many if not most editors won’t run with that as a story, even though we actually can look at some of that evidence directly rather than hear second-hand what a source who is probably not working directly with Mueller has to say.

    • Diviz says:

      I don’t want to hijack this thread, but Marcy just retweeted Larisa Alexandrova’s Twitter thread taking down Oliver Darcy’s CNN hit piece on Jason Leopold.

      Reporter with checkered past comes back with Trump Tower Moscow bombshells for BuzzFeed

      Referred to on Twitter:

      I can’t help but think of this to the relationship between independent journos and non-MSM versus MSM outlets. I can’t count how many MSM “bombshells” I’ve reacted to with “Oh, I knew that. Marcy posted that like, months ago?”

      I can’t believe Darcy’s gall at digging up Leopold’s past on the day he pwns the MSM. How frequently do we see NY Times et al ganking stories from smaller outlets w/o attribution? The hit piece just seems like CNN punching down. It’s disgusting.

      Sorry to rant.

      • BobCon says:

        PR flacks and political operatives prepare oppo research on reporters they want to discredit, and shop it regularly when they want to discredit a reporter. Darcy didn’t do any real research — someone dropped it in his lap and he and his editor ran with it.

        This kind of regurgitating of info spoonfed by  hacks is one of the lowest ways a reporter can operate.

  5. P J Evans says:

    Thanks, ew!
    That wasn’t actually stated where I met it – but I thought the link to the doc was worth posting.

  6. General Sternwood says:

    My day job is being a historian, and I want to take a stab at this one, firsttimecaller. I think that what EW is doing requires more than isolating a plausible narrative from the din of the news cycle, it also crucially involves *ignoring the false plausible narratives* that are continually on offer. If it were just a matter of picking out story that accounts for all the evidence we have, a lot of people could “come to these sorts of conclusions” as you say. EW is cognizant that there are continually multiple stories on offer from lawyers, journalists and spokepersons, and also that often they are offered by people who know more than we do, but for the purpose of minimizing or mis-contextualizing particular pieces of evidence to protect themselves. Take the example of the “Steele dossier.” On the left, there has always something hallowed about it, in part because of its role in catalyzing certain events early in the timeline. I remember bridling when I would come here and see EW picking at certain aspects of it, or saying that some of what Steele was being fed was disinformation, given the timeline. But doubting some of its claims is what frees EW to come to the conclusion in this post, which puts together existing information about banks and trips and argues that the Kremlin’s knowledge of them would be just as valuable to them as Sean Hannity’s favorite kinds of kompromat. The reason it is so hard to do this is that when facts come through testimony or leaks they already come with spin and stated relationships to other facts — in some sense EW’s amazing timelines are her secret weapon to disconnect them all, and then reconnect them chronologically. Anyhow, that’s my sense of it.

    • emptywheel says:


      Don’t tell anyone that timelines are my secrets!

      But yeah. I think it’s the difference of being trained in history and then complit (with a strong archival/history of the book component).

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you say, lying about talks for a real estate development makes no sense: talks like that happen on all the time and rarely yield completed projects.  There would have been more at stake to justify the lying: Trump lied about it during the campaign, after he won, and after he became president.

    I think you are right that the equation was that Hillary would not lift sanctions, only Trump would lift sanctions.  So Trump had to become president.  As a long shot candidate, he needed a lot of help.  He would take it from anywhere.  He would take it from Russia.

    To get it, Trump had to commit to lifting sanctions, the quid.  It would have been enormously useful and profitable to Putin and other Russian oligarchs.  Having kompromat on a sitting US president could be worth much more.

    Trump, in turn, needed Putin’s commitment to help him win the presidency so he could lift sanctions.  To make Trump richer, he needed Putin to commit to the Moscow development deal and the financing for it.  Easy enough for Putin to accomplish.  That was the quo and the possibility of $300 million in revenue, for Trump.

    That equation yields the quid pro quo for bribery and for ConFraudUS.  Putin, expert spy handler that he is, must have a record of that. It would also explain the many Russian connections among Trump’s campaign staff and their seemingly inexplicable desperation from the moment that Trump won to placate Russia and assure them that Trump had their back.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right. There are two ways to think of this: What Trump thought he was clever enough to negotiate: a quid pro quo where he’d get a big investment for policy commitments he was happy to make bc he didn’t think he’d win.

      But Putin’s view of it would be exclusively about getting his compromised one way or another, such that he won either way.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thanks.  Yes, policy commitments for Trump are just giveaways.  Reversing or softening sanctions would have cost him nothing, and gained him the prospect of making a lot of money.

        Putin, however, gained invaluable kompromat to use either against a president or to sow chaos into an adversary through having corrupted the failed GOP nominee and muddled the election and other things.  He also proofed both human and digital ops for future use.

        The thing is, Trump Tower Moscow was never gonna happen.  If Trump won, the tower would have been problematic to agree on and build.  If he lost, there was no need to follow through on it.

        The tower might have been repurposed as another venue to compromise senior Americans and other westerners.  But there were probably sufficient venues in Moscow already for that that did not require stepping on the toes necessary to build and operate the tower through so hapless and unreliable a bidnessman as Donald Trump.

        • Kevin says:

          I’m not convinced it was never going to happen. Since the Russia investigation takes up so much air these days, it’s hard to imagine a Trump presidency where Russia wasn’t caught hacking, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they intended to get away with it. Putin’s a fairly brazen guy. In that reality, why not try getting the president’s business heavily entangled with Russia?

    • anaphoristand says:

      If Trump Tower Moscow was more or less the opening dangle of one particular line of compromising /leveraging Trump, is it clear that pursuing project funding via either sanctioned bank would necessarily put Trump himself in violation of those sanctions/some US statute (I can’t find it now, but someone on Twitter awhile back made an argument that the banking sanctions regime functions differently from those on individuals in this area)? IE, if Clinton won, the sanctions regime remained in place, and Putin for some reason were still interesting in giving the green light to the project, might Trump have actually been able to build it, as planned, without criminal exposure? Likewise, are we sure that Sater communicated to Cohen the ex-GRU status of the facilitating individual, or even —were Cohen indeed made aware— whether moving forward with the project as facilitated by such an individual would represent some chargeable level of criminality to Cohen/others? Obviously, as the ball got rolling downhill it accumulated more and more explicit acts of criminality by team Trump, but I’m curious as to whether the opening gambit from Putin —had everything been called off then and there— would merely have been optically damaging and not legally so.

      • MattyG says:

        hmmmm…. For Trump Moscow to be the first overt dangle the whole co-option of DT would have actually occured at breakneck speed. I’m tempted to think that the incubation period took considerably longer, and suspect our friend Putin’s fork had many tines – all quite sharp at the end. DT was patiently cultivated over a number of years by Putin emissaries carefully planted along his route, encouraging the ego-driven notions to which he is disposed and seeding ‘big thinking’ not unsurprisingly consistent with Putin geopolitical goals – and inculcated a mindset that would eventually lead DT to genuinely aspire to the office. This probably took time.

        As far as inducements to walk cross a kompromat strewn field – sanctions relief alone would have opened up the floodgates of oligarch resources – a vast horizon ripe for laundering and other deals would not have been lost on DT – ‘business’ he would not have needed any explaining. There was all that Flynn nonsense about building Rooski nuke plants across the mideast for profit – I’d bet they filled DTs head with all sorts of grand and wild ideas.

        What we need is a clearer picture of when discussions about sanctions relief began in earnest – the moment Putin would signal what it would take for the ‘election caravan’ to move forward. And what ammo team Trump was asked to funnel back East to support the effort.

  8. BobCon says:

    To be a fully effective receipt, I assume it needs Trump’s endorsement so he couldn’t later back out and claim Cohen was freelancing.

    Do we know when the Russians obtained the endorsement from Trump that Cohen spoke for him? Would that have been earlier, say at the Moscow beauty pageant? Later, in some other format? Was that one of the stages of the call and response?

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, that is what he is currently doing. I suspect Russia got the receipt directly from Trump eventually. But there were also receipts built into speeches and his damned “Russia, if you’re listening” comment.

      • BobCon says:

        Thanks for the reply. Looking at this from the Russian perspective, they couldn’t have thought of this like they might if it was (hypothetically speaking) a deal with Kasich or Pawlenty. They must have known Trump is a chronic flake who might try to weasel out of a deal Cohen made on his behalf, and may have wanted a higher degree of assurance that he was on board.

        Which leads me to wonder if that means there is more evidence than what we know — evidence Mueller may have picked up — of signals directly from Trump that the deal was on. I guess we’ll see.

        • harpie says:

          They must have known Trump is a chronic flake who might try to weasel out of a deal Cohen made on his behalf, and may have wanted a higher degree of assurance that he was on board.

          What if they had the proverbial “cashed check”? Wendy Siegelman points to this question from Grant Stern:

          8:22 PM – 17 Jan 2019 With new evidence Trump was more involved w/Trump Tower [Moscow] than previously reported – @grantstern raises an important question – Did Russian developers give Trump a $1 million payment on the Moscow Trump Tower contract? [links to his post] 

  9. firsttimecaller says:

    Thank you emptywheel, Diviz, and General Sternwood for the insightful responses to my initial comment. Bias towards human sources, MSM egos bruised by smaller outlets, and an inability (or unwillingness) to buck the “bombshell” news/spin cycle in favor of more careful, nuanced reporting are all good answers to the question I posed.

    I’m not shocked that an article like this will never get a BREAKING NEWS alert at the top of the WaPo or NYT, but I’m still surprised that these outlets don’t attempt this sort of analysis more often – especially at this point when there’s a lot of public info to work with. Maybe if one of the Committee members manages to ask questions framed around the points made in this post, it’ll move above the fold.

  10. Prairie Boy says:

    Marcy, if the timeline stretches back to 2015, is there any evidence that the Russian influence campaign started during the Republican primaries? If there was evidence that Trump cheated to win the primary, then it would put his GOP enablers in a more difficult position. The enablers are afraid to speak out against Trump b/c they will lose the support of the Trumpsters. But hate “cucks” and nothing says “cuck” more than “I know he cheated to win but I still support him”.

    • Prairie Boy says:

      Sorry, didn’t get to edit the above.  Missed a “they” in the final sentence.  “But they hate  . . .:

    • emptywheel says:

      Welp. Lindsey and Rubio both got targeted.

      I also think a key part of the story will be how Roger Stone pushed back on people trying to support Cruz in the convention.

  11. cw says:

    The tower negotiations–in and of themselves–are a sideshow. Putin has much stronger kompromat. He directed his agents to help Trump win the election. Putin has evidence that Trump knew he was helping, or more probably, evidence that Trump conspired with him to win the election.

    That’s way more valuable that evidence that Trump engaged in some sketchy negotiations while a private citizen.

    • Avattoir says:

      OMG, raising Kasparov is the internet equivalent of a Bat signal alert of an impending PSA:

      PSA Alert the First: Never challenge Garry Kasparov at chess over any amount money more you’d simply just a soon throw away.

      PSA Alert the Second: Never attempt to out-sleuth Marcy Wheeler.

  12. Jim Blum says:

    Trump always saw campaigning for President as a profitmaking opportunity. The record is pretty clear that no one bearing large amounts of cash was turned away by the campaign. In particular, Trump was in need of making deals to recoup the funds he staked early on to his campaign.

  13. orionATL says:

    damn. this story is filling in like a large coloring figure from a child’s coloring book.

    a long time ago we began with this oddball, difficult-to-gauge meeting in trump tower in june 2016.

    lately, the story is gettting rapidly filled in by print media reporting (e.g., buzz feed) and the legal actions of federal prosecutors. now we’re at early jan 2016, at least.

    and, finally,  that sly cat, felix sater, is making more than a solid, starring appearance, no more cameos.

    cohen and sater, what a takedown team.

  14. Prairie Boy says:

    Marcy, this is in response to my previous question and your reply above, regretfully, the “reply” button didn’t work for me. Thinking of the Cruz angle, in addition to Stone, they must have received a lot of interesting evidence from American Media about all the pro-Trump articles published in the National Enquirer. I know those probably go more to campaign finance issues, but there could be a pattern of Trump using multiple channels for cheating in the primary. No guarantee, but that could help drive a wedge between the enablers if impeachment ever gets on the table.

  15. Yogarhythms says:

    Wow!! You just pulled the Best Apple Pie dessert thread out of EW’s ovens ever. Marcy I think your stupendous abilities with the written document akin to a professional poker player’s ability to read an opponents tell create your unique timelines and exquisite insight you share at EW daily. I support you and I hope all of your readers that can do too.

  16. lawrence a fisher says:

    If adoptions was code for sanctions, isn’t it possible that Trump Tower Moscow was code for Russian hacking and distribution of the results of the hacking?

  17. JAAG says:

    I have never really understood how Cohen would do this kind of work with Sater. My understanding of the Buzzfeed articles on Cohen lead me to believe that Sater was easy to snuff out as an informer. Sure Cohen is dumb, but mobsters and every other career criminal does an equation in their heads when working with people who have convictions – does the sentence/time served seem suspiciously low? Why knowingly work with a rat?

  18. orionATL says:

    what does it mean (imply):

    “…  While Sater (who seems to have knowingly set this trap) dismissed the import of the sanctions, Cohen clearly knew — and left record that he knew in communications with Sater — that they were the intended funders…” ?

    “sater (who seems to have knowingly set this trap)”

    was sater working for the feds? was it trump whogot trapped?

    • Jaag says:

      That’s what I have been wondering.

      As bmaz says Sater has clearly been working an angle for ages. He trades info on Russian mob and he gets to skate, and maybe to scam.

      As capital flight flows into NYC the feds would have wanted and inside line on how and with whom etc.

      I keep coming back to the question of whether the feds are nervous because sater was working all angles of this a little too much and then his guy goes and wins the presidency.

      Maybe people thought sater was protected. There’s something very weird going on and I wish Bmaz would dish.

    • Trip says:

      Yeah. It’s quite curious that Sater doesn’t even appear to have the threat of indictment.

      The proximity to organized crime would make him a fabulous agent for both nations.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    For EW, there are timelines and there are timelines.

    One can list the dots chronologically. Or one can connect them in an informed, contextual, please see the light *right here* way.

    Yours are in a league of their own.

  20. Trip says:

    This article seems..timely? It’s interesting.

    New words (to me):

    “Crimintern”-the gang members conducted surveillance on areas and individuals of interest to Moscow (as have other smugglers) and kicked back a share of their profits into otherwise unremarkable bank accounts for the FSB’s use.
    chernaya kassa (“black cash”)—money with no provable connection to the Russian state.

    Gangster Geopolitics: The Kremlin’s Use of Criminals as Assets Abroad

    Especially since 2014, there has been a steady trickle of cases suggesting that Moscow is using organized crime as a covert tool for the “dark aspects” of its foreign policy…the Kremlin has increasingly adopted what has been called a “mobilisation state” approach. Aware of the West’s greater economic, military and soft power, Russia has been turning to any available alternative foreign policy levers, from nationalist oligarchs to disruptive media outlets. The gangsters are no exception, and instead of simply identifying unacceptable behaviors, as it did in the past, the Kremlin—occasionally—makes specific demands of those gangsters susceptible to its pressure.

  21. cw says:

    For some reason the reply under the comment doesn’t work for me, but this is to Marcy at 6:25.

    I don’t see the value of the Moscow towers as kompromat. They started negotiating long before anyone thought Trump had a chance in hell. He was a private citizen then, and every one, including Putin, thought he would be a private citizen on Nov. 9th. As a private citizen he had nothing much to offer. Plus, Putin most likely has tons of better kompromat. The negotiations weren’t even illegal. And Trump is a really stupid criminal who has been dealing with Russians for years. He is the easiest guy in the world to get kompromat on. Much better than a sketchy but not illegal real estate deal.

    It only became kompromat when Trump was elected. But by that time there had to be more, or Trump would just say, yeah, I didn’t think I would win. Obviously I’m not building the towers now. The reason he didn’t say that, the reason everyone lied, was because the Russians had more and worse, which meant that Trump didn’t want to admit to anything shady with them.

    • MattyG says:

      I agree. DT must have bought into at a fundamental level of colaboration by this time. It was the glue. Not sure if that explains the enthusiasum that DT minions showed in pursuing their goals, but everyone had a motive; Flynn, Manaford etc..

  22. punaise says:

    @Prairie Boy at 5:32 pm

    But they hate “cucks” and nothing says “cuck” more than “I know he cheated to win but I still support him”.

    It’s just dawning on them: cuck a dude’ll do.

  23. Whitevisitation says:

    According to HuffPost, SCO just took the unusual step to put out a statement saying that BF reporting of Cohen actions and what documentary evidence SCO has related to it it’s insccurate.

    • Rayne says:

      A link would be nice with this kind of comment so that community members can read the *exact* statement from the SCO. Your own summary lacks clarity.

      (FYI – your IP address matches the LAN of someone who has commented here before. If you are a regular, make sure you are using the same login information when you comment, particularly username. We don’t do sockpuppeting.)

      • Whitevisitation says:

        Well, take it as it is.  I didn’t have a link. I appreciate the work you and Marcy and baz do on Emptywheel, but I sometimes find yours and baz  dressing down commenters  a bit too arrogant. I use whatever username comes to mind – this happens to be my user name on WaPo and NYT but I am not consistent, and that’s ok. Unless you enforce registration people are going to change username without any malicious intent. There’s no sockpuppeting involved.

        • P J Evans says:

          Those of us who can’t see the back end like having consistent names in front, so we get some kind of idea about commenters and their quality. Your browser should be able to save your usernames and e-mail addies as dropdowns for fill-ins. (Mine certainly does.)

        • Rayne says:

          Look, the overwhelming majority of users here have mastered this — and for 200-plus comments you had, too.

          If it’s suddenly too much to simply remember your login information here, hell, even use a sticky note reminder, then by all means don’t comment. We have enough security hassles already.

  24. Semanticleo says:

    Mueller could be a Trojan Horse

    [Link removed. Please reply to this comment with a better link. It looks like you tried to grab a Washington Post story from a Google News or Search page, which doesn’t work. Open the story and then grab the URL from the story. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  25. P J Evans says:

    From Jason Leopold:
    “UPDATE: The special counsel’s office has taken the rare step of issuing a statement in response to our report on Michael Cohen being directed by Trump to lie to Congress:

    A spokesperson for special counsel Robert Mueller, Peter Carr, disputed BuzzFeed News’ report.
    “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Carr said.

    What it doesn’t say is that there’s no truth to the story. It’s only speaking of Cohen’s Congressional testimony – which wasn’t the only source for the story.

    • Pablo in the Gazebo says:

      For as rare as comments by the SCO’s spokesmen are one would hope they would be more specific.

    • Trip says:

      obtained by this office

      sticks out to me. Not that the story itself wasn’t factual. In fact what they don’t say is that the story, in entirety, is false.

      Maybe they are just letting us know it wasn’t their leak, they didn’t obtain the records, and so on. Or that we already knew that Cohen lied via his own pleading for the benefit of Trump. There was no other reason to lie. Michael Cohen trying to get real estate development in Moscow, in and of itself, is not illegal.

    • Eureka says:

      I was relieved that SCO at least released this statement early enough to get ew’s perspectives near-concurrently.  BuzzFeed was too late-night for circadian normies to give the full analysis.

      Thread here and some later tweets are also helpful:

      emptywheel : “Fuckit, here goes. Folks, as I noted in my post form this morning, the BuzzFeed story conflicted with what SCO had Cohen allocute to under oath. That raised questions for me last night.”

    • Avattoir says:

      Here’s one scenario that IMHO looks like it fits today’s OSC non-denial denial:

      That Mueller already saw problems in dealing with Cohen that, for a number of sound reasons, led to the OSC decision to pass Cohen over to SDNY for control & development.

      That SDNY saw enough of what Cohen had on offer & when it was discovered (in some form), or at least discover-able, and figured: Com’on, pull my other one – we’re obviously being USED to handle the wet work with Cohen, while Mueller keeps his hands dry of this mess, and whereas at first this Cohen hand-off seemed like it put us into a really cool position to be in, as the cumulative work product of all the DoJ/FBI offices now seems headed inexorably towards a crisis point of charge or impeach, this ‘gift’ the SC gave us now appears pretty obviously to carry the qualities of a hair trigger IED, and we in SDNY are who’s carting it around, while Mueller’s team gets to play entirely in the Elysian Fields with giving on-side clever senior judges, in particular this particular scandal’s version of Judge Sirica, a shit-ton of ‘splainers which amount of to a big fat deposit of “Mueller Report”-worthy evidence.

      That we need to do at least some things to deflect or diffuse the idea of focusing on SDNY to blame for whatever TF might come out of the mouth of Mickey Medallions once he hits the stand before the several House committees that have actual real competent former US attorneys as chairs and senior majority members, or else when the Wrath of Trump starts casting about for human sacrifice, it’ll be from OUR shop at SDNY, rather than the OSC.

      That – Jeebus barking Fitzmas, WTF is up with all the positive insulation Mueller’s been gaming recently, with being effectively crowned with a permanent Good Guy White Sheriff Hat by Bill Barr? Hair Hitler’s bound to blow at some point and here we are now, acting as magma wall to Mueller and the entire OSC!

      That on the other side of the presumptive Unified DoJ coin, Peter Carr is saying, Buyer beware, boys – buckle up, y’all are vulnerable now because of all the leaks YOUR office materially contributed to in the fall of 2016, and BTW we’re busy right now, fellas, so go away and take your medicine like big boys should.

      • harpie says:

        Thanks for your insight here [and wherever!]. The final paragraph fleshes out something I’ve been wondering about/hoping to be the case. Right or wrong, that’s the theory I’m sticking with…for now, anyway.

  26. P J Evans says:

    It’s a remarkably specific statement, in that it says where they disagree with the story. It doesn’t say that anything else is wrong.

    (There are people over at Kos who are having the vapors and getting into serious CT about Mueller. They apparently don’t read well.)

    • Trip says:

      I think a point to consider is that if Mueller dots every “i” and crosses every “t”, does not or would not put forth anything without back-up evidence into indictments and pleas, Cohen would not have been permitted to assert in his guilty plea that he lied to congress because of Trump.  Ken Delanian (sp?) mentioned that when Cohen spoke (which I had forgotten), he did state specifically that Trump directed him to lie.

      Now, maybe the bone of contention is also that there aren’t texts or emails, etc. (Cohen was an audio taper, that we know). It could also be that Trump’s directions were transmitted to Cohen via a close intermediary. None of this statement alludes to Trump’s innocence. It doesn’t deny that there is corroborative evidence to Cohen’s statement either.

      • Avattoir says:

        That’s why upstream I referred to Carr’s statement as a “non-denial denial”.

        The phrase harkens back to Watergate: an official denial that’s purely general doesn’t come off as credible

        (something people in the M-Ad Man game, such as Nixon’s CoS Bob Haldeman, knew well from the UCLA rat-fuckers kiddie korps, a leading primal ooze site for the national Campus Young Republicans Club, with a founding group than included fellow UCLA grads and future senior Nixon WH aides Haldeman and John Erlichmann, and a national membership that included UCLA Law grad Donald Segretti, USoCal grad and future Nixon WH senior press officer Ron Ziegler, fellow USoCal grad and future senior Nixon WH aide Dwight Chapin, and future Washington DC lobby partners Lee Atwater, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort)

        so the Nixon M-Admen / ratfuckers came up with the denial that’s really not much different from a general denial, but that paints over the general blah by attempting to gain cred from specifically pointing to some things that later on if and when the shitstorm hits the fans of Congress & courts can at least arguably be defended as kinda sorta technically not clearly incorrect.

        Most folks are familiar with it because it features in a definitive work-up and several follow-up chapters in the Bernstein-Woodward book All the President’s Men, and even more so in the eponymous movie – but that’s where it came from: spawned from an unholy union between Nixon’s California M-Admen and the dungeonous labs of the campus Young Republicans.

  27. orionATL says:

    JAAG @ 1/19 8:43p

    felix sater is a professional criminal and mafioso. he skates from one crime to the next by serving the feds as an infornmer/ratfink or a guy who sets up others to be trapped by feds (as with a nuclear materials/weapons caper some years ago).

    sater is russian:

    “…Sater was born in Moscow into a Russian Jewish family, the son of Mikhail Sheferovsky and Rachel Sheferovskaya. He has a sister, Regina. The family emigrated to Israel when Felix was 8 years old to avoid religious persecution in the Soviet Union, and eventually came to the United States, living in Baltimore, Maryland before settling in Brighton Beach, New York in 1974.[4] Felix and his sister adopted the surname Sater. Mikhail Sheferovsky (also known as Michael Sheferofsky) states that the family name was Saterov at some point (Сатаров).[12]According to the FBI, Mikhail Sheferovsky was an underboss for Russian Mafia “boss of bosses” Semion Mogilevich and convicted of extorting money from local restaurants, grocery stores, and a medical clinic.[13]
    Felix Sater is reportedly a childhood friend of Michael Cohen.[14]…”    
    (per miss wiki)
    sater ran a real estate company – bayrock-  at one time. he is said to have sold a bunch of trump condos for el presidente.
    i’d say with sater and cohen in moscow representing trump corp there was a serious business deal being considered. .

  28. Trip says:

    @orionATL, if you read the Rolling Stone link above, it was asserted that Cohen’s father-in-law was a silent business partner of Trump. His portion, as the story goes, would be to facilitate the sales of Trump properties to Russians. Was this an out and out laundromat operation? I intend that as ‘all parties knew what the gig was’, it wasn’t simply a matter of un/intentional ignorance, but a willful operation. Supposedly, Michael Cohen was hired by Trump as a favor to the father-in-law. Which might explain Cohen’s (perhaps indirect) longtime loyalty to Trump. But it would be remarkably stupid to threaten Cohen by suggesting the father-in-law be investigated, because then it would implicate Trump himself. Maybe Trump is saying, “If I go down, I’m taking you and the father-in-law with me”?

    I also posted another article, not sure where, but it specifically states that Putin uses organized crime, for surveillance, for influence and for money. This way, the fuckery is decentralized, in separate gangs, with no real direct link back to the Kremlin. If this operation was through any part of the Mafiya, Putin might have gotten a cut. And in that sense, that Moscow Tower seemed possible and highly aspirational for ground level crooks like Trump, Sater and Cohen.

    • Avattoir says:

      It could actually be worse for Cohen’s father in law: if he was (is?) in fact working as a go-between for funneling post-Soviet-fall cash into U.S. properties, being outed for that would seem likely to paint a big fat target on his back for a visit from the Rus intel wet work crew. Indeed, it COULD be Trump’s way of saying, It’s either I get it or your father-in-law does, Mickey.

      (Leaving aside that it could end up with BOTH of them getting burned – but then, that appears not to fit within Trump’s zero-sum view of how things work in this world.)

  29. Willis Warren says:

    So, is the smart money on cohen being the real source for Buzzfeed’s article? or is it on SDNY? I’m sure this has been covered, but so many comments to read. Mueller actually put out a statement saying there are inaccuracies…

    Now, if it’s SDNY that leaked to buzz… and Rudy knew it was coming, he could have set up the NYT to release on Friday. I may be the only one who suspects Rudy is the source of the NYT.

  30. Frank Probst says:

    The non-refutation refutation by Mueller is a surprise to me.  It makes me think that the Buzzfeed article either disrupted some sort of investigative angle currently in progress or planned in the future, or it compromised some sort of asset that was used that wasn’t primarily intended for this particular investigation.  It raises more questions that it answers, imho.

    • Brumel says:

      It sounds to me like Mueller telling Buzzfeed: “Don’t try to get around my sealed lips by fishing in the SDNY leakers pond, or I’ll publicly hit your journalistic reputation. And other journos, take note.”

      • Trip says:

        I sincerely hope that is not the case. The Fourth Estate serves an important function in democracy, when it operates as it should. Destroying the journalists within as retribution for a leak, especially one which mostly held already publicly accessible info, would be draconian, to say the least.

        I think, perhaps, the delay in any response from Trump Inc, was time spent digging dirt up on BF and then feeding it to the CNN guy (who used to work for The Blaze):

        Think about how Dershowitz, (as one example in Trump Camp), dug up dirt on not only victims, but also prosecutors, in the Epstein case. Think about Roger Stone.

        • Brumel says:

          But it is a direct attack on the journalist: Mueller is charging false description, mischaracterization and inaccuracy. I don’t think he has ever issued non-denial denials before, and this isn’t one either. This is clearly a rebuke.

          • bmaz says:

            You have no idea what the scope of the SCO pushback is, and neither does anybody else until SCO clarifies further.

            So blithely saying it is “clearly a rebuke” is bullshit and uninformed. Especially when 90%, if not more, of the report is already established, or clearly not material Mueller would pushback on.

          • Rayne says:

            “charging” with regards to law enforcement has a specific meaning. It is not appropriate here in this context whatsoever. Your use of that word alone means you aren’t up to this — a conflict over the use of certain words in a particular context.

  31. Eureka says:

    Relevant to the SCO statement above, Ronan Farrow added a couple of interesting tweets (next); cf. an earlier emptywheel thread and quote tweet (below):

    Ronan Farrow: “I can’t speak to Buzzfeed’s sourcing, but, for what it’s worth, I declined to run with parts of the narrative they conveyed based on a source central to the story repeatedly disputing the idea that Trump directly issued orders of that kind.”
    “Note that the general thrust of Cohen lying to Congress “in accordance with” or “to support and advance” Trump’s agenda (per Cohen’s legal memo) is not in dispute. The source disputed the further, more specific idea that Trump issued—and memorialized—repeated direct instructions.”

    emptywheel: “All of which is to say that this kind of coordination requires someone to order the lawyers (Alans Garten and Futerfas, in Trump Org’s case) to do the coordinating. That requires the involvement from The Client.”
    “There ya go: John Dowd’s the guy who helped Cohen coordinate his lies with Don Jr.… ”

      • Eureka says:

        Yeah it’s a little strange he is getting involved in that way at this point- especially as he knows better…

        ADD: also Ken Dilanian is calling SCO statement a “full-throated denial” as in repudiation of whole BF story. I’m not caught up on where he got that from- a source?- but lots of folks chiming in. I’m not sure how to take this.

        Ken Dilanian on Twitter: “Update: I now believe I was interpreting this pushback too narrowly. The statement is less than clear but it appears Mueller is refuting the entire premise of the Buzzfeed story, including the idea that Trump instructed Cohen to lie.… ”

        • Avattoir says:

          Is a “full-throated denial” the same thing as a “full denial”?

          If the two are precisely synonymous, why bring in the throat?

          Cuz (writing for myself) bringing in the throat simply means the speaker is particularly anxious for the denial – in general, or all of it, or certain specifics, or red-herrings, whatever –

          to be heard.

          But loudness doesn’t necssarily correlate with the nature of whatever’s been denied, does it? SHOUTINESS doesn’t get you any closer to truth – tho it does seem to get one closer to TRUTHINESS.

        • Trip says:

          I feel like, “Someone got to him”? The network made him say this?

          FFS, he was the guy pointing out that Cohen already SAID Trump directed him, during his guilty plea. IIRC, he also referred to the quotation of Individual 1 directing Cohen to lie, in the paperwork. Now it’s all nonsense?

      • Trip says:

        The journalistic narcissism-speak of “I knew before anyone else, but I’m more credible”?

        Farrow has done some great investigative work in the arena of sexual assault/harassment, etc., but since when has he been a front-runner in the Mueller probe? It seems unnecessarily catty to toss this out (a pile-on of BF), when the subject has not been the thrust of his work.

  32. punaise says:

    @ Rayne at 8:40 pm

    Trilingual double bank shot:
    At least it wasn’t cheap Italian bubbly:
    Assed-y Spew mon thé

  33. cd54 says:

    Apologies if late and redundant.

    So, maybe SCO contests the article re: the mechanics of the behavior in order to preserve and protect Cohen as a testifying witness with respect to that behavior?

  34. Alan says:

    or maybe Trump had a cow and called Giuliani and/or Whitaker who called Rosenstein and Mueller and the latter decided that issuing the statement was the best way consistent with the truth to keep the investigation moving forward.

  35. Michael says:

    @ Avattoir at 3:45 am
    Ref: paragraphs 2, 3

    Damn, them is bodacious! I believe graf* 2 is the LONGEST sentence I have ever seen. By line 11 of it I was thirsty for a full stop; by line 14 I was absolutely parched for one. Suspecting that I’d overlooked the little bugger, I stopped reading, rewound to the top of the graf and scanned for the period that simply MUST be there. And I found it :-) at the bottom :-(

    * Rayne-speak, meaning “paragraph”.

  36. Avattoir says:

    If Alan’s conjecture applies here, or something close to it, Trump, Rudy & the minions leaped to it like a litter of kittens.

    My earlier comments were posted before waking up to note that Chuck Rosenberg was on Maddow’s show last night (a show which I’m not alone here in generally avoiding these days, but holy cow it’s Chuck, who’s a far from unreasonable future AG choice on MERIT, so anyone refusing to listen to him is just spiting themselves).

    Besides that Rosenberg appeared to be pretty much sweating out tension from the start, what he said (the message he was there to carry?) was along the lines of what some of us here have already ventured upstream: of Carr’s statement being consistent with a non-denial denial.

    Closer to the end, in trying to answer Maddow’s question to the effect of, If the Buzzfeed story were dead wrong, wouldn’t it have been easy for OSC to just say that?, Rosenberg’s response was (my annotations added):

    “1 Absolutely.
    2 It would have simple to say, ‘The reporting is dead wrong in every respect’.
    3 They didn’t do that.
    4 And I think the emphasis you put on those words – the specific descriptions, the characterizations – sort of is a window into the thinking of the Mueller team. There are parts of the reporting that trouble them–
    5 I have no idea, Rachel, by the way, why they decided, on this occasion, to push back on a story; I’m sure there are other stories that got other things wrong …”

    That “I have no idea” is, IMHO, purposely overstated. Rosenberg’s smarter than I am, and he’s connected in ways I only ever even approached a rare few times in my civil service career. For him to self-portray as so lacking in imagination that he’s unable to even THINK that the motive here was to force the news media spotlight on this story away from the OSC, and onto Buzzfeed, Cohen, SDNY, anywhere but OSC, strikes me as likely, uhm, pretty white-hat motivated disingenuous?

    Anyway, those kittens are happy for the moment, but getting some more plush toys might be a thought.

    • Trip says:

      Chuck Rosenberg is worth watching no matter where he is. He always provides sober, measured analysis, and never relies on sensationalism for soundbites. One of the best, if not the best, legal contributors on TV.

      Adding, but I can’t say he is smarter than you.

      Marcy Wheeler is also in a category of her own.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, not to mention it is totally ignorant of criminal conspiracy law. But that is something young Mr. Farrow has no experience in, even he is a putative lawyer.

  37. orionATL says:

    rayne  01/18@10:50pm

    personally, i am waiting for CHABAD and  crown prince jared to show up in the narrative.  what’s better in a great  mystery novel than a small, malevolent – naturally supersecret -organization:

    connects putin and trump family in a general way:

    • Trip says:

      Private (past Israeli) intelligence firms show up a bit too much in this story, as well, for it to be mere coincidence.

      As soon as Psy group was questioned by Mueller, the company was dissolved. Why? If it was on the up and up? The guy in charge of it was in psychological warfare for Israel, prior. No secret that Netanyahu was no fan of Obama. His connections to the Kushners run deep too. All of the dual Russian-Israeli citizens who make cameos or are stars in this production. Curious, indeed.

  38. Trip says:

    Speaking of intelligence and influence, I’m repeating, (a repost). Am I the only one who is deeply uncomfortable about this? Maybe Mueller knows the deal with them, but the public does not:
    Brent Allpress‏ @BrentAllpress

    6 ex-Cambridge Analytica/SCL/Anaxi staff have joined Integrated Systems Inc., a US government contractor. They include ex-CEO of SCL Group Inc (US) Josh Weerasinghe. He worked under Flynn at DNI. Flynn was briefly employed by SCL to broker a DoD contract.

    Cambridge Analytica is under investigation in the UK, for its part in Brexit. We know there are links to the Trump campaign. How is it no big deal that at least one high level person and others from that company are now currently US government contractors, and ostensibly via the lobbying of Flynn?

  39. Trip says:

    Damn, can’t edit, delete or work around the system this time to get into reply, sorry.

    Brumel says:
    January 19, 2019 at 10:40 am

    But it is a direct attack on the journalist: Mueller is charging false description, mischaracterization and inaccuracy. I don’t think he has ever issued non-denial denials before, and this isn’t one either. This is clearly a rebuke.

    I see the CNN story more as character assassination and a rebuke, when it didn’t even check the veracity of the story first. As far as Carr’s statement, I didn’t read a “full-throated” denial and absolute rebuke of the story (in its entirety) or its authors. And as far as it goes, the Mueller camp response hasn’t really killed off the story, but rather it has provided a Streisand effect of sorts.

    This is likely the first time Fox News and other associated Trump propagandists decided to cover Mueller with any seriousness or respect (not shouting Witch hunt! Angry democrats! BLAH BLAH RAAH!). This opened the gates to his credibility in that sphere, intentionally or not, by Carr. Be careful what you draw attention to, by saying “pay no attention”. Or maybe that’s partially by design.

    • BobCon says:

      I think the propagandists aren’t considering a very real possibility. Mueller may have issued this statement because he’s getting close to revealing what the truth is (or a good chunk of it). Odds are it’s not going to be something they like.

      Of course, it’s possible some of them know this, which would explain why they’re not worried about the Streisand effect. It’s possible they are expecting events will escalate too fast for the Streisand effect to matter.

      • Trip says:

        BobCon, The Mueller camp created the Streisand effect RIGHT NOW by reacting to THIS specific story, while others, I’m sure, weren’t entirely accurate, those were met/left with silence by Carr.

        Fox and others noticed and reported widely, contrary to their standard operating procedure.

        You may be right that something will happen soon. I sincerely hope so.

        I am all for justice, but as we wait (and wait), the country is turning into embers and ashes minute by minute.

    • bmaz says:

      And, yet, Trip, you were able to reply just fine by noting the commenter and time of comment you were replying to. The nesting of comments, and the constant whining about it, is simply getting to be so much that I long for the days of linear comments without the idiotic nesting. I know it is news to you, but we got along just great for many years without this bullshit.

  40. Trip says:

    bmaz, I was apologizing, because my “test” comment had remained.
    Usually I can reply to a comment by starting a new one (not nested), where I simply write “test”. Then I can usually go back (with edit initiated) and delete the “test”, and then respond in the nested reply. That didn’t happen at the time I wrote my comment. Obviously someone assisted in removing it, since then, but I felt bad about it when I wrote the above comment, because I couldn’t delete it. I hope that gives you a better understanding.

    • bmaz says:

      No problem at all. And I had already surmised what you were doing with test. And it is far from you. But the obsession with nesting comments still confounds me. We should have never gone to that.

  41. anaphoristand says:

    @ MattyG January 18, 2019 at 7:47 pm
    I said, “the opening dangle of one particular line of compromising/leveraging Trump.” There’s certainly ample evidence that both Sater/Bayrock and Deutsche Bank were essentially functioning as Russian laundering/Trump compromising vehicles for over a decade. My question’s a specific legal one: would willfully entering into these negotiations under these parameters expose Trump et al to specific criminal liability Putin’s knowledge of which might be used as leverage over them going forward? There certainly appears to be legal wiggle room around merely planning for such a VTB-funded project (, and I’d imagine it’s likewise with any ex-GRU guy liability. So any compromising leverage for Putin, at this stage, as outgrowth from this particular project, would merely be the political optics of its exposure. But political damage only matters if Trump cares about politics, and at that point in the campaign all evidence points to his neither expecting to win the presidency, nor actually really wanting to. So I’d think there’d need be something more explicit — as in a locked-in quid pro quo of Trump’s documented agreeing to sanctions removal — to get us across the Rubicon.

  42. Ralph O. Sepulveda says:

    I love the one and only Marcy and I love this website.  Thank you for all this meaty material.  You’re all so goddamned smart.  But sometimes you can get so insidery that it makes my teeth ache:  can someone explain to me what the hell “the Streisand effect” is?  I’ve been a rabid Streisand fan for well over 50 years and I haven’t the slightest clue what that is.

  43. Ralph O. Sepulveda says:

    Oh, okay. Everything makes sense now. Thank you, Rayane; I appreciate you taking the time. I didn’t think you would even catch it. Meanwhile, keep up your superb work. This is now the website I come to for real substance.

Comments are closed.