NYT’s Trump Interview: Money for Nothing and Clicks for Free

The NYT has an article this morning it purports to be from an interview with the President.

Here’s what it says about the Russian investigation:

Addressing a wide range of subjects, Mr. Trump brushed off the investigations that have consumed so much of his presidency, saying that his lawyers have been reassured by the departing deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, that the president himself was not a target. “He told the attorneys that I’m not a subject, I’m not a target,” Mr. Trump said. But even if that is the case, it remains unknown whether the matter would be referred to the House for possible impeachment hearings.

[snip]

Mr. Trump said he has likewise received reassurances from Mr. Rosenstein, who until Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired in November was overseeing the Russia investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

“Rod told me I’m not a target of the investigation,” he said at one point, but then later suggested he had not talked with him directly. “The lawyers ask him. They say, ‘He’s not a target of the investigation.’” Asked if that also covered the separate investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, he said, “I don’t know about that.”

Neither Mr. Rosenstein nor Mr. Mueller has said whether Mr. Trump is a target, and the president could not recall when Mr. Rosenstein would have assured him. Mr. Mueller has been known to explore whether the president’s actions amounted to obstruction of justice. But since Justice Department policy bars indicting a sitting president, it is unclear whether the term “target” would apply.

Mr. Trump denied having anything to do with Mr. Stone’s involvement with WikiLeaks, which during the 2016 campaign posted Democratic emails online that were stolen by Russian intelligence services. He expressed sympathy for Mr. Stone for his arrest at the hands of heavily armed F.B.I. agents.

“I’ve always liked — I like Roger, he’s a character,” Mr. Trump said, insisting that the F.B.I. agents charging “a house like they did at six o’clock in the morning. I think that was a very sad thing for this country.”

Mr. Trump offered a vague account of his involvement in the proposed Moscow project. Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer, has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project and told the authorities that talks continued into the summer of 2016, even as Mr. Trump was securing the Republican nomination.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s current lawyer, said recently that talks went all the way through the November election, only to later claim that he was mistaken and speaking only hypothetically.

“He was wrong,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday. “Rudy has been wrong a little bit. But what has happened is this: I didn’t care. That deal was not important. It was essentially a letter of intent or an option.”

Asked when in 2016 the last conversation he had about the project was, he said, “I would say it was early to middle of the year. Now, I don’t know that Cohen didn’t go a little bit longer than that. I don’t think it would be much longer.” He added: “I was running for president; I was doing really well. The last thing I cared about was building a building.” [my emphasis]

Already in that excerpt, NYT gets something that Maggie is obstinately wrong about wrong: not only is Mueller obviously investigating Trump in the conspiracy in chief (which is all Mueller has asked him about), but he is or was investigating him as part of a counterintelligence investigation. The obstruction is the chump change of the investigation, yet the only thing the NYT mentions here.

But NYT posted an excerpted transcript–which takes out both off the record comments, including this one on Roger Stone where Trump goes from suggesting “we’ll do something” about Roger Stone being treated very badly and then bridging, in off the record content, to Stone’s claim he would never testify against Trump.

HABERMAN: Who else has been treated very badly, in your opinion?

TRUMP: Well, I’d rather save it for later. We’ll do something on it at the right time, but I did think this. When Roger Stone, who all of us know, I mean everybody knows Roger.

______________

TRUMP: He was not my consultant. But if you read the papers you know it’s like — the media, it’s like — but I’ve always liked him. He’s a character, and I’ll tell you what people respect what he said. Bearing false witness, etc. But yeah, people do respect what he said.

HABERMAN: What he said about what?

TRUMP: Bear false witness. I will never testify against the president.

It also removes “asides,” which for a verbal logorrhean like Trump are among the most important things he says.

But the other details in the transcript reveal how much the NYT spun what they got. First, as a number of people have noted, Trump corrected himself, repeatedly to make it clear that the only denial he got was about being a target — “target … target … target … target” — not a subject. NYT shouldn’t have included the mention of being a “subject,” at all.

NYT also doesn’t reveal that Maggie herself laid out the timing — “over the course of the last year” — on such reassurances, before complaining that Trump wasn’t more specific about the timing, when in fact he simply blew off the question.

HABERMAN: Has Rod Rosenstein given you any sense over the course of the last year about whether you have any exposure, either in — or there’s any concerns, or whether you’re a target of the Mueller report?

TRUMP: Well he told the attorneys that I’m not a subject, I’m not a target.

HABERMAN: He told your attorneys?

TRUMP: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

[snip]

HABERMAN: Do you remember how long ago he said that?

TRUMP: I think the lawyers would speak to him a lot about that. Not a lot. But a number of times. He never said — I never asked him that question.

HABERMAN: But your lawyers have?

TRUMP: The lawyers ask him. They say, “He’s not a target of the investigation.”

Then, Maggie gets something subtly wrong about Trump’s denials of any ties to Stone’s efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks.

HABERMAN: Did you ever tell him to — or other people to get in touch with them?

TRUMP: Never did.

HABERMAN: You saw that was in the indictment.

TRUMP: Can I tell you? I didn’t see it.

The indictment doesn’t say that Trump directed specific people to get in touch, themselves, with WikiLeaks. Rather, it says that someone “was directed” to contact Stone.

After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.

It’s a subtle difference, but one important given that we know Stone was using cut-outs himself, and used cut-outs in his phone calls to Trump during the campaign.

Finally, Peter Baker gets Trump to admit something amazing over and over, but it doesn’t make the final argument. Trump says the Trump Tower deal was no big deal because he didn’t have to put any money up.

BAKER: But you told people that you didn’t have any business there. People might have misunderstood.

TRUMP: That wasn’t business. Peter, that wasn’t business.

BAKER: Isn’t that misleading to say you weren’t pursuing business there, right?

[Crosstalk]

TRUMP: I had no money invested. It was a letter of intent, or option. It was a free option. It was a nothing. And I wasn’t doing anything. I don’t consider that even business. And frankly, that wasn’t even on my radar. If you take a look at that, take a look at the deal. There was no money put up. There was no transfer. I don’t think they had a location. I’m not even sure if they had a location.

[snip]

BAKER: Clearly there was a hope of having money. That was the reason you were pursuing it, right?

TRUMP: My point is this — It was a free option to look at a deal, to look at deals. That was not like, “I’m going to buy a property in Moscow. I’m going to do — or I’m building a building in Moscow.” Now, I would have had every right to do a deal. That’s what I did. That’s what I did.

[snip]

But the way I view it is early in the year to middle of the year, no interest. I had very little interest in the first place, and again, I viewed it as a free option. [my emphasis]

This is the entire point! Trump was being offered $300 million … for free. Trump uses that to dismiss the import of the deal with respect to his campaign. But a free $300 million is a lot closer to a bribe — and therefore even more inexcusable — that an opportunity to shell out real money for a tower.

Finally, this language deserves more attention. The NYT actually gets a reference Trump makes badly wrong. Trump is not referring to Tony Podesta here. He’s referring to John Podesta.

TRUMP: I have nothing. All I did was be a good candidate. Russia didn’t help me. Russia did not help me. There was no collusion. There was none of that. I was a good candidate. I did a good job. I won’t say whether she was a good candidate or not. I mean, the primary collusion was Hillary Clinton. If you take a look, Peter. I mean, look at that phony dossier. Some of that money, they say, went to Russia. [Tony] Podesta was involved with Russia. [my emphasis]

That was precisely the [Joule Holdings] attack that Stone and Jerome Corsi book-ended their outreach to WikiLeaks over. It seems important to get it correct.

And in such immediate context, the fact that Trump claimed, again, that Russia didn’t help him deserves a fact check.

Of course they did. They may not have delivered on that $300 million “free option,” yet. But they certainly helped with the election, including an attack on John Podesta that the NYT doesn’t even recognize.

As I disclosed last 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. 

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174 replies
  1. Trip says:

    Yeah, that has been bugging me too. Trump has no investment money. His later business deals were all about licensing the name. And I’m sure the NYT knows this too, and yet they don’t push on the issue. And also, this AM’s report that Junior called Howard Lorber after the Tower meeting on sanctions, makes the linkage closer to quid pro quo for the Moscow negotiations, in my mind (at least).

    Also, this cracked me up:
    Dan Froomkin‏Verified account @froomkin

    Disappointed in how normalizing NYT’s coverage of Trump interview was this morning. He was talking complete megalomaniacal gibberish, they make it sound like he was answering their questions….How you can report on that interview and not use the term “delusional” is beyond me. See, i.e. “I’ve actually had, because they’ve done things that are artificial. So there’s been more of a burden on me than other presidents.”
    https://twitter.com/froomkin/status/1091341395942653953

    Maggie’s gonna Maggie.

    • Rayne says:

      The licensing thing has bothered me for some time. Think about the golf post I wrote last weekend and consider how many of the Trump-branded, -licensed facilities were also managed by Trump org.

      Casts an entirely different light on the Trump org being thrown out of its Trump-branded development in Panama where papers were being shredded while they fought eviction.

      • Trip says:

        I forgot about the Panama paper shredding. Yeesh, it seems like Trump has been in office for 20 years already.

        Did you see that Ivanka and the brothers were big dick toilet salesmen in their own way?

        From 2005 to at least 2015, the Trump family received millions of dollars in secret payments to promote ACN to people who hoped to get rich selling its products, according to the lawsuit. ACN’s flagship product was a “doomed” desktop video phone that could connect calls only between two ACN customers and was quickly eclipsed by services like Skype and the advent of smartphones. https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2019/01/31/accusers-trump-kids-key-role-duping-clients/38986673/

        Every damn day it’s something new. But they all act as the facade of someone else’s deal. Frontmen, or frontpersons, including princess Ivanka.

  2. Ian says:

    Funny, at the end of the interview (from the Daily podcast). Trump talks about how he just wished NYT would write one “positive” article about him. Looks like he got it.

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, maybe, but Schmidt and Baker are no better, and they don’t have that conflict. It is the NYT political desk, as run by Dean Baquet, that is the real problem.

    • RMD says:

      Thank you for that citation. Excellent background info on Haberman and her and her family’s ties to Trump.

      Public Relations, Gaslighting. Obfuscation.

      One compelling stat the writer discloses: the search among Haberman’s articles related to Hillary and Trump. Searching articles Haberman wrote, they looked for the variables ’email’ + Hillary and ‘mob’ + Trump.  Results: 94 articles on Hillary + email.   0 articles on Trump that include the word ‘mob’.

      Given Haberman’s 20+ year career writing on Trump, this kind of omission is telling. The number of articles on Hillary and email equally telling.

  3. Badger Robert says:

    Trump has not been involved in rent collection and ordinary profits for some time. The businesses might have been run as cash outlets, creditors be darned, for some time. Its easy for Trump to deflect criticism when the history of switching from public lenders to foreign sources is ignored.

    I am uncertain that the NYT has the pull it once had.  The media people here would know better than I would, as to where people are getting information.

    Thanks for the 2+2=4 reporting.

    • gedouttahear says:

      But cf  Tom Sullivan’s piece at Digby this a.m., citing Masha Gesesn’s  New Yorker article that Russian criminality, not foreign policy is what it’s all about.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’m not sure how much Gessen’s article adds to the debate about Trump.  I’ve never understood the Putin-Trump arrangement as being about formal governance in Russia, or the Russian state’s normal ability to get anything done on time.  The formal descriptions about Russian governance largely leave out the oligarchs, leading to the traditional, “Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” riposte.

        As Gessen describes, this is about one criminal organization putting it over on another.  One of them – a coalition of oligarchs – has talent, drive, and purpose.  The other – Trump and his shell companies – has a mirror with faux gilt edging and bad credit.  Putting it over on Trump, however, has tremendous effects on the US and the world, a big win for Putin.

  4. Cristabel says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this interview to be almost entirely disappointing. It’s like Trump has this uncanny ability to drag people into his insanity. How can anyone just sit and nod along to his inane bullshit? It’s disheartening and makes me feel tempted to cancel my NYT subscription.

  5. Rayne says:

    Trump: “…I don’t think they had a location. I’m not even sure if they had a location. …”

    Image: screenshot of Emin Agalarov’s Instagram post on 21-JAN-2019 when he canceled his U.S. tour. Graphic on wall is a representation of a proposed tower development on the Moscow River in Moscow, Russia.

    EDIT 12:10 pm ET — These questions have been stuck in my craw since I saw this photo on the 21st. Why is this graphic on Emin’s wall, assuming this is his office? Why did he make a point of taking this Instagram photo with the graphic in the background? And why on the 21st, two days after SCO’s office made a statement about Cormier+Leopold’s BuzzFeed’s article?

  6. SaabMadoxSaab says:

    Something that has been driving me crazy about TTMoscow coverage… A letter of intent is not some minor document. It’s not merely some prelude to a transaction; it’s Chapter 1 of a deal. It outlines the parties’ expectations and remaining steps to be taken in consummating the agreement. While an LOI might not be a final written contract, it often contains provisions that create obligations on the parties involved.

    Moreover, depending on the manner in which the terms are drafted, an LOI might actually have the effect of a binding contract. Since we’ve been given no indication on the terms of the LOI, there’s no current way of knowing what Trump may have agreed to therein.

    Considering that Trump, the Trump Org., and the WH have all frequently used misleading descriptors as cover for more damning terms (eg., “Russian adoptions” for Magnitsky Act sanctions), the failure of the media to press Trump on the fact that he even had an LOI for the Moscow project is mindblowing. That the media has not raised any questions as to the content of the LOI is just fucking malpractice.

    • Rayne says:

      Yup. Agree. It’s the equivalent of an engagement ring.

      What I want to know: did the LOI include any punitive terms if Trump/Trump org unilaterally exited the LOI?

      • Peterr says:

        Here’s how the LOI opens:

        Dear Andrey:

        This letter of intent (this LOI) sets forth a summary of some of the basic terms of a license agreement (the “License Agreement“) to be entered into by Trump Acquisition, LLC and/or one or more of its affiliates, as licensor (“Licensor“), and LC. Expert Investment Company and/or one or more of its affiliates, as licensee (“Licensee“), with respect to the Project (Licensor and Licensee, collectively, the “Parties“) and in accordance with Licensor’s current form of license agreement. This LOI is only intended to facilitate further discussions between the Parties and solely represents the Parties’ current intention to negotiate for and attempt to enter into a mutually acceptable agreement covering all aspects of the transaction, subject, however, to the terms and conditions hereafter provided.

        Moving on to page three, the LOI explicitly says “The Parties shall negotiate applicable termination rights giving Licensor certain rights to terminate the License Agreement in certain events, including, without limitation, in the event of a default by Licensee or its affiliate under, or a termination of, the Hotel Management Agreement or the Residential Management Agreement.”

        So, no, there are no punative terms, because those would be in the final agreement.

      • Rayne says:

        Thanks, Peter, that’s hugely helpful. I didn’t remember seeing the LOI though I had seen the rest of the BF story about the plans.

        LOL on the last graph: …this LOI shall not be binding on any party hereto. The Parties agree that unless and until a License Agreement between the Parties has been executed and delivered…

        Has any journalist asked if a License Agreement has been signed with any entity in Russia?

      • SaabMadoxSaab says:

        Finished reading through.  My question now:  what was drafted by the parties following this LOI?  Since this initial proposal was signed in October 2015 (and probably drafted over the course of at least the preceding 1-2 months), the parties were no doubt negotiating terms, which would be reflected in proposed written agreements, of which there were likely several drafts.

        Also, I see no language regarding any “option” in the LOI.  It seems unlikely to me that someone like Trump, who has a notably odd relationship with words generally — such as needing a mnemonic device to remember to say racist things at his campaign rallies — would suddenly start using this term for no immediately discernible reason.  Whenever this type of thing happens with Trump, it seems to always involve something getting stuck in his head that he has read (lol), or more likely discussed, recently.

        I’d imagine there are additional agreements that remain undisclosed — including an agreement actually containing an option term — that are far more damning and less remote to the general election.  If negotiations continued for as long as has merely been reported, there had to be a lot more paper generated than just this LOI.

        • Wajim says:

          Precisely my thought.  Betcha there’s at least a 2nd draft contract, with hand written notations by various lawyer types locked away somewhere in Moscow, and/or Trump Tower, or was until they fired up the shredder and force fed Don Jr.’s backyard fire pit.  Wonder if Cohen kept any notes . . .

    • SaabMadoxSaab says:

      Oh… and Trump’s recent shift to the term “free option” is equally troubling.  I’m not certain about the law in every state, but generally, an option agreement requires some meaningful consideration to be enforceable — i.e., a bargain for something of value from each party.

      If there was indeed an “option” term involved in the Moscow project, Trump likely paid for it with some item of actual value.  How can the NYT just glaze over this shit without even asking Trump to describe what the fuck he’s referring to?

      • Eureka says:

        Thanks for the insights throughout this thread.  None of them bode well for Trump’s prior/recurring statements.

    • BobCon says:

      Also, negotiations just to develop a major LOI are usually accompanied by some flavor of NDA spelling out if the parties can talk about negotiations and what they can say.
      Has anyone ever pushed Trump to say if the whole time during the campaign that he was denying any business in Russia if he had meanwhile signed an agreement penalizing him for talking about the project?

      • Peterr says:

        From page 4 of the LOI:

        The Parties (which for the purposes of this paragraph shall include the Parties’ respective officers, directors, members, employees, agents, contractors, consultants, servants, associates or representatives) agree to keep confidential the terms of this LOI, their relationship with the other Party and any other information disclosed which is pertinent to this and will only disclose the same to its representatives, lenders and third parties on a need to know basis. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Donald J. Trump shall be permitted to make public statements with respect to the transactions contemplated by this LOI and the relationship of the Parties provided that such public statements do not disclose any financial terms hereof. The terms of this confidentiality provision shall survive the termination of this LOI.

        I’ll bet Trump thought he really pulled one over on his Russian friends in giving himself an out here.

        • Rayne says:

          “need to know basis” explains everything — journalists, Congress, the public don’t need to know as far as he is concerned. Or as far as his owners/debt holders are concerned. He’s honoring his own confidentiality agreements over the rest of the law.

        • BobCon says:

          Thanks, that’s good.

          I’m also curious if anything separate was signed in the run up to the LOI — I’ve dealt with pitches on a vastly smaller scale where vendors have wanted NDAs prior to getting into any kind of details.

          It seems very possible to me that there are other agreements out there, even more restrictive than this one.

  7. Peterr says:

    From the transcript cited above:

    TRUMP: I had no money invested. It was a letter of intent, or option. It was a free option. It was a nothing. And I wasn’t doing anything. I don’t consider that even business. And frankly, that wasn’t even on my radar. If you take a look at that, take a look at the deal. There was no money put up. There was no transfer. I don’t think they had a location. I’m not even sure if they had a location.

    They did, Donald. Per Buzzfeed last month:

    Trump Tower Moscow was a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River. . . .

    [snip]

    Trump Tower Moscow was to be much more than just another upscale apartment building. It was to be a vast — and vastly lucrative — undertaking that would elevate the Russian capital’s skyline and extend the perimeter of the New York developer’s influence.

    By September 2015, a New York architect had completed plans for a bold glass obelisk 100 stories high, to be topped by a gleaming, cut-diamond–like shape emblazoned on multiple sides with the Trump logo.

    I don’t think that these plans were done for free.

    Moving on . . .

    The plans included detailed financial arrangements. According to the signed letter of intent, Trump’s company would get a $4 million up-front payment — a quarter when the licensing agreement was executed, another quarter when they finalized a location for the tower, and the other half either a week before the project’s groundbreaking or two years after the execution of the licensing agreement, whichever came first. . . .

    [snip]

    Sadly for luxury-loving Muscovites, the tower project never came to be. It’s not entirely clear why the deal fell through, but today on the bend of the Moscow River, on the edge of the Presnensky District and only a few miles from the Kremlin, there is no Ivanka-branded salt chamber and no Trump-approved luxury parking.

    SAD!

    Click through to Buzzfeed to see an aerial view of greater Moscow, showing the proposed location on the bend of the Moscow River.

  8. Savage Librarian says:

    @Cristabel 11:46

    It’s what narcissists do. They are extremely skilled at it. It’s like second nature to them.

    Youtube has a good explanation of it. I can’t link, but if you look this up it will be well worth the time to watch.

    Narcissist’s Most Potent Weapon: “Induced Conversation.” Beware & Protect Yourself! Expert
    Ross Rosenberg259,695 views

  9. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Seriously. They even know it, because they allow about a twelve hour gap between

    “In a freewheeling interview, the president covered a wide range of topics that we’ll describe with carefully pruned quotes to imply that he’s not a drooling ignoramus”

    and the transcript which reads “you know, many people are saying that clouds are fake.”

    The off-record shit about Cohen’s father-in-law? Really?

  10. Avattoir says:

    Early on in the sanitized, varnished, bone-bleached corporate reduction of – more accurately, “about” – this farce, Baker & Haberman disclose, in sociopathetic dead pan, that Trump called New Improved Sulzberger – all his Predecessors, Patch, Paunch, Pinch, Punch, the appalling lot of them having moved one after another onto an evergreen luxury resort estate upstate – the feckless young Pooch, to invite Sulz VI or whatever freaking number they’re up to now, to ‘dine’ at Toad Hole, during which Trump would bend his floppy OTR ears; but Poochie, one imagines out of reflexive revulsion in just imagining the plate du jour, contrived an allusion to ‘other plans’ and (in what surely now has an honored spot in NYT’s Vault of Pull My Other One classics, is described as proffering Trump instead an ON the record, fully-recorded view up the business end of a double-reporter-barreled scatter gun. Man, I’d to see the plaque on display with that particular hornswoggle of its readers.

    Among the reasons Trump is so willing to put up with what for anyone else in his position would be a devastating humiliation, is so he can avail himself of the array of fine customer services on open-ended offer from NYT to getting out “the rest of the story” [ref: Paul Harvey, PMF Dubya], IOW ‘fixing it in post’.
    Other than NYT’s betrayal of accuracy, duty to its readers, irony, self-respect, standards, taste, truth and any and all institutional responsibility to the historical record, it’s sort of what Terrence Malick does, except more imagined and depressing – like that raptor went right ahead and commenced chomping away at the still-living carcass of that fallen dinosaur.
    Or a dinner scene with the kids back when Fred & Mary Anne’s brood was still teething.

    • Peterr says:

      Trump doesn’t see this as humiliation, but as the pinnacle of social approval. This is where Trump’s vision of what’s important really comes to the fore. Sure, he sits in the Oval Office. Sure, he lives in the White House. Sure, he can order troops here, there, and anywhere.

      But dangle an interview that guarantees a big front page story on the pages of the NYT, and he’s all in. A front page story there is proof that He. Has. Arrived. “Bezos never gets front page coverage like this. Gates never gets this. Buffet never gets this. I. Am. The. Greatest!”

      At least in his fevered mind, that is.

      • Avattoir says:

        … except, according to what the purified version STATES, NYT did NOT “dangle”.

        Instead, it was Trump who did the ‘dangling’, and NYT describes Trump grovelling to adhere to New Sulzy’s supposedly Draconian terms.

        • Peterr says:

          Of course he grovelled.

          In his mind, that’s what you have to do to get that coveted Front Page Story about how wonderful and powerful you are.

          (Even as we speak, one of the Trumplings is no doubt telling Dad “pay no attention to the folks who would say that your grovelling only proves that the NYT has more power than you do. They’re just jealous.”)

    • bmaz says:

      First off, “which” documents are you referring to?

      Secondly, why would you ask us instead of BF?

      Third, there is reason to trust the both the managing editor and the history of the two reporters’ work on the Russian project. Can you show differently? If you can, please detail.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The staff cuts in digital newsrooms are spreading, first HuffPost, then BuzzFeed and now 250 more at Vice.

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/feb/01/vice-to-axe-250-staff-in-latest-round-of-digital-media-job-losses

    Imagine what your morning or afternoon would be like without your daily cup of Emptywheel. Without her, we’d be lucky to be as well-informed as Tapper & Todd.

    Times are hard. Give what you can. They might become less hard. If nothing else, you’ll have an occasional reason to spurt coffee or tea over your once-clean keyboard or smartphone. Thanks.

  12. pseudonymous in nc says:

    So, here’s the bit where he goes off-record about Cohen’s father-in-law:

    BAKER: Can I ask, speaking of Mr. Cohen, you’ve said that investigators should be looking at his father-in-law. What did you mean by that?

    TRUMP: Well, that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve heard his father-in-law was — I’m not saying investigation.

    ______________

    BAKER: Can I ask, on the record, what’s the purpose of saying that? Some people are wondering whether or not this kind of thing might count as witness tampering, that you’re kind of publicly —

    TRUMP: It’s not witness tampering. It’s not witness tampering at all. It’s not witness tampering.

    BAKER: What’s your purpose, then? Help us understand that.

    TRUMP: I did have to read what I said. What did I say? I don’t know. What did I say?

    I mean, you can grant that, but Seth Hettena asserts that Fima Shusterman was an investor in the Family Business during the 00s, and King Idiot dodged saying his name when Janine Pirro (!) asked him to.

    • Rayne says:

      The excerpts you used highlight the weird ambiguity of his language. Like this:

      TRUMP: Well, that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve heard his father-in-law was — I’m not saying investigation

      He’s not pressed adequately about the sources he’s allegedly heard this from. He avoids saying Cohen’s father was investigated, but then he also doesn’t really finish the thought about Cohen’s FIL. He appends it with a statement which could be a reminder to himself not to use the word ‘investigation’ and we can’t be certain of the context.

      This is just as fuzzy:

      TRUMP: I did have to read what I said. What did I say? I don’t know. What did I say?

      Does he mean he needs to see a transcript of what he said? Does he mean that what he said had been written before he said it? Did he not understand what he said because it had been fed to him by a coach whether in writing or by verbal instruction?

      Even the repetition comes off less like emphasis and more like a mnemonic device which had been given to him — he must say it three times like a dog learning a trick must repeat the effort before nailing it.

      He’s a most unreliable narrator and yet they treat him as if he’s like every president before him.

      • Cathy says:

        ^^^THIS.  His use of “free option” seems similarly awkward, so I’d like to take a swipe at it. Excerpted from Marcy’s post,

        It was a letter of intent, or option. It was a free option. It was a nothing. [Marcy’s emphasis]

        @SaabMadoxSaab points out reasonably that it might refer to language in a yet undisclosed document.  Trump blurts it out in this context because either he’s befuddled or perhaps this is a way to vent his agitation about a subsequent, more politically/legally damaging, document.

        Assuming “free option” is a reference to the disclosed LOI, it could have been part of selling the dangle and sealing this particular receipt:  reassuring jargon to entice Trump to sign a document that asked suspiciously little commitment from him. Of course, if the LOI contains what Trump would consider standard language, this bit of speculation is pretty empty.

        Assuming “free option” is a reference to the disclosed LOI, it could be a piece of jargon dreamed up after the existence of the LOI became public, either as public spin to mitigate its significance or perhaps as internal spin to reassure Trump.

        The reassuring bit would play off the aphorism “follow the money,” something along the lines of…because the LOI doesn’t identify a financial transaction – because it’s “free” – it doesn’t tie him to a crime such as bribery…so no worries.

        Apologies, I’m obsessive.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m only surprised he didn’t say it was a “nothingberder.” Which does make me wonder if not only the word “option” was coached but swabbing dicey topics liberally with “it’s a nothing” has also been coached.

          On the other hand “it’s a nothing” and other similar negations are par for an abusive personality. “It’s nothing, I just tapped her.” “It’s nothing, I just grabbed her pussy.” “It’s nothing, they let you do it if you’re a celebrity.”

        • emptywheel says:

          No apologies necessary. I think it really useful to track the seeming slogans that come out of his mouth, bc it’s fairly safe to assume they came from somewhere.

          • errant aesthete says:

            This may prove helpful in understanding how Trump mastered incoherence as the lingua franca of public address. Between his love of non sequiturs, false starts, digressions, unfinished sentences and ‘I’ll-let-you-fill-in-the-gaps-style,’ this gathering of linguists was asked to explain why Trump criticized the press for mangling his “beautiful flowing sentences.” You might remember that remark made back in December, 2016 when normal was suddenly no longer.

            • andy says:

              That vox article is really good.  Take this quote:

              His style of speaking is conversational, and may even stem from his New York City upbringing. As George Lakoff, a linguist at UC Berkeley, told me, “[The] thing about being a New Yorker is it is polite if you finish their sentences for them. It’s a natural part of conversation.”
              This may be why Trump’s sentences often seem, in transcript form, to trail off with no ending. “He knows his audience can finish his sentences for him,” Lakoff says.

              The linguists there (fun fact: one quoted in article is just up the street from EW at Calvin College) pull that apart well, but I’d argue they could have included some cognitive or behavioral psychologists also.  That style of communicating is deeply calculated (though I’m sure unconsciously by Trump) to rope a partner into your conversation.  The partner is “filling in the blanks” in their head, but the subconscious can start to lose track of who said which parts.  You become complicit in the conversation, even when you’re not speaking.  The experience doesn’t translate very well through video (and of course is useless in print) but it can be very powerful in person.  It’s notable also that it’s also deeply polarizing kind of by definition.  If you’re predisposed toward what the speaker is saying, it’s great validation and reinforcement.  If you’re opposed, the conversation becomes an inner battle in your own head where you’re jousting against all of their fill-in-the-blanks.

              Aside: I had a good friend in college who was a fairly malignant narcissist years before I had any idea what that meant.  He manipulated me with ease, but I always thought it was due to my own shortcomings until fairly recently.  A Trump-like thing he did all the time was the non-rhetorical rhetorical question.  He’d target your own social agreeableness and use that to get you to fill in frequent mid-sentence pauses/questions/affirmations in his conversations.  Or the classic borderline racist/sexist joke, followed by a “But you laughed a little, right?  You agree that was kinda funny, right?  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.”  Or the fist bump with requisite “don’t leave me hanging, bro.”  This sounds so ridiculous writing it on the page but it was surprisingly effective face to face.  He was charming, greatly entertaining in a sort of seedy way, and very good at getting what he wanted.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          Free option likely refers to the rationalization Trump uses to explain the offer to Vladimir Putin for a spectacular 50 million dollar penthouse, free; a requisite for  Trump and every other supplicant vassal to seek approval for construction of the Trump Tower Moscow. Lesser oligarchs would be expected to bid up the cost of the apartments closest to Vlad’s, eliminating a portion of the pain caused by the “gift” bribe to Putin.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        As Josh Marshall pointed out, mentioning Shusterman even ambiguously — opens up a can of worms about the funding for those late 00s projects that brought Cohen into the inner circle. Maybe King Idiot thinks that if he doesn’t identify him by name, it won’t be properly reported? (It’s certainly under-reported.) Or is it just a bullshit game of plausible deniability?

        And here’s where Pirro asks him for that name:

        https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/1084287378037096449

        “What is father-in-law’s name?” “I don’t know, but you’ll find out and you’ll look into it.”

        • Rayne says:

          “I don’t know, but…” The sheer effrontery of his lying just boggles the mind. Worse than any toddler I’ve known.

          Just for fun you should look up Fima Shusterman’s FL place in Google Maps satellite view and take a little stroll north along the avenue. Or beach front. Smallish world.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I would argue that Trump not having to put up money for a mega-project in Moscow is worse for him.  He would have been getting paid a lot of money – his people were throwing around a $300 million figure – without having put skin in the game.  That’s like Paulie working as Trump’s campaign manager for free.

    In big deals, real estate or otherwise, the principals always expect high returns.  What compensation from Trump to Putin does Trump’s description leave out?

    • emptywheel says:

      Precisely my point. It should be treated as the utterly damning admission it is. Instead, nothing.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Occasionally I catch up with you, usually after having been lapped a few times.

        Thanks to another commentator, below, who had a 2017 cite for a discussion about Trump wanting to restrict or do away with the FCPA.  The GOP has often carried that bit of laundry for American business since the FCPA was first passed.  But no other president has advocated for it so openly and for such personal reasons.  Repairing the damage Trump has done and will do will take a fair bit of work.

  14. HAROLD says:

    HOPE SOMEONE READS THIS. I read this site daily and I thank you for what you’re doing. This part of the interview jumped out at me as important. Is the orange nightmare referring to pardons for his people. I remember he also said it was sad for the country when they got manafort. Hope Marci has a comment.My first time ever writing something.

    HABERMAN: Who else has been treated very badly, in your opinion?

    TRUMP: Well, I’d rather save it for later. We’ll do something on it at the right time, but I did think this.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Definitely Manafort. Possibly Flynn as well. And yeah, pardons, though “save it for later” is standard bullshit.

    • Rayne says:

      Excellent question, Harold. I don’t think we can be certain what he meant. It’s one of the problems with NYT that the journos didn’t press him adequately to eke out more meaning. Let’s see what other readers’ takes are.

      Thanks for your comment. Nice to see you here at emptywheel.

    • Cathy says:

      Supposing that “has been treated very badly” is a tag in his mind for “is on my prospective pardons list?”

      A notion not without merit.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yup. That’s why I included it. The logical bridge from treated badly to Stone not incriminating Trump would be a pardon. Which NYT should not treat as off the record.

  15. Rapier says:

    The $300 million number has always sounded absurd to me. Even if it was 300 million rubles it would be $45 million dollars. Capital is hard to come by in Russia. You may have noticed that the oligarchs don’t invest in big fancy projects there. Of if they do we don’t see them. I don’t think Russians take too kindly to ostentatious displays of wealth. Better to show that off in London, New York or Monaco. The number gets cited all the time but I’ve missed or forgotten, most likely, the source.

    Well that number would dance in his head once it was put there. How in the hell was he not going to pay taxes on that?

    • Peterr says:

      The oligarchs don’t invest there, because they want to convert their rubles to something spendable elsewhere. They don’t even put their money in Russian banks if they can figure out how to get it into Western institutions.

      Capital is not hard to come by for the oligarchs, but projects that can put it to use that make them more money are.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Let’s assume that the sentencing memo wasn’t bullshitting:

      If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues.

      Given the (official) licensing fees on other projects were orders of magnitude lower, what does “other revenues” mean? Money is fungible in the Family Business. Also, consider the way that $30 billion in funds building infrastructure for the the Sochi Olympics just… vanished.

      https://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics–report—30-billion-for-sochi-olympics-missing-162433724.html

      • Rapier says:

        Hundreds of millions and tens of billions fall easily through the cracks nowadays. Russian corruption, like Trumps, is more old fashioned retail corruption, man to man, with muscle backing it up.  As opposed to modern ‘globalist’  and corporatist corruption, which is institution based.  Players knowing where to stand and what to do simply by checking Linkedin.  No muscle needed although a worldly appreciation of such and an occasional rubbing of shoulders with mobsters does give the players a bit of a thrill.

        In general those fighting corruption probably tend to put too many and too big of digits before the zeros to get some headlines and traction. Maybe the big numbers are right in these cases. I don’t think it makes any difference. The winners win and the losers lose.

    • JD12 says:

      According to the original BuzzFeed article, Sater told them he was trying to negotiate 30% of gross sales which would equal around $100 million, and then Sater and Trump would split that. So it sounds like the $300 million was their estimate of gross sales. (Even that may have been optimistic.)

      After Rudy lied they published a follow-up with the documents, which show the standard Trump licensing deal: someone else would develop it and pay Trump $4 million up front, 5% of gross sales up to $100m, 4% up to $250m, 3% up to $500m, plus additional management fees. I have no clue how much the management fees are but I don’t see Trump making more than $50 million based on this contract unless the developer was a straw purchaser for him or something.

  16. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy. Well, it is Friday. Fun Friday, Freaky Friday, Felony Friday, Fake Friday, Frazzled Friday, Frosty Friday … you choose.

    A reminder of Trump Tweet on 11 Jan 2017: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    That Trump Tower Moscow deal also involved allocating to Pootie Poot, as GWB was wont to call him, the top floor, $50 million plus condo, just for being a nice guy, not for doing something that would make the deal happen and violate the FCPA. But didn’t I read something that doing away with the FCPA was also on Trump’s wish list?

    • Diviz says:

      You did.

      The New Yorker, October 16, 2017 Issue

      Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point

      Will Donald Trump let the Secretary of State do his job?

      By Dexter Filkins

      In February, a few weeks after Tillerson was confirmed by the Senate, he visited the Oval Office to introduce the President to a potential deputy, but Trump had something else on his mind. He began fulminating about federal laws that prohibit American businesses from bribing officials overseas; the businesses, he said, were being unfairly penalized.

  18. klynn says:

    Are you kidding me? The live feed cuts out on Stone’s hearing. Likely story. Trying to control the realtime reporting via Twitter.

  19. Savage Librarian says:

    Apologies if this has already been asked and answered:

    About the architect who worked on the preliminary designs for TTMoscow:

    1. Did any journalist interview the architect?

    2. Would someone from Mueller’s team look into that?

    3. Oops, forgot my 3rd ?

      • Alan says:

        Wow, I mean, wouldn’t it be possible to just ignore the question if you’re not interested?  Maybe other people are interested in the question and answers, maybe not.  The number of replies would probably indicate the level of interest–maybe none, many a few, maybe a lot, who knows.  But is that reply really needed or called for?  Does that make EW a better place, and kind of place you want it to be?

      • Diviz says:

        Maybe cut new commenter (and donor) Savage Librarian some slack before you sarcastically berate her? Trip didn’t think it was an outrageous question to answer. I mean in 24 hours, she’s seen bmaz jump up my ass for trying to explain to her that sometimes there are problems with the [redacted] button, and now this condescending non-answer from a moderator. I felt so bad about yesterday, I wrote SL a primer on strategies to avoid receiving a dress-down in the comments (no [redacted] button talk, no treason talk, no pee tape talk, no citing MagHabs).

        BeBest, Rayne. BeBest. /s

        • Rayne says:

          I’m going to note you’ve made 35 comments as ‘Diviz’ since last September.

          Savage Librarian has made 95 inside 2-1/2 weeks; SL’s very first comment on 09-JAN asked a question.

          You’re both new here comparatively speaking. This community does its homework. We share with others. But we don’t just show up and expect others to answer our questions when we aren’t willing to invest some skin in the game.

          When you have spent years here in comments and shared more than you’ve taken – some regulars have been here 12 years and thousands of comments — you can begin to give me and bmaz crap.

          And stuff your BeBest bullshit in your back pocket. The /s tag is fail as a passive-aggressive lubricant.

          • Diviz says:

            Noted. So I guess I’m still in the hazing period. I’m aware that I am new which is why I wrote out the few rules I’ve noticed help to avoid getting attacked (and to be honest, so that you and bmaz didn’t have to explain to everyone the rules every time new commenters braved their first comments). I even included what I could glean of the history of EW back through Firedoglake and TNH. I said that it’s a very dense community with a long history, but as long as you don’t get out over your skis (source what you know, state your expertise (e.g., IANAL), and sincerely ask for help to fill in the gaps) everyone is respectful and helpful. I went over several verboten topics like treason, RICO, and lending any credence to conspiracy theories, MagHabs, or anyone claiming to have a Mueller leak. I guess I have some edits to do.

            Also, riddle me this, how is veteran commenter earlofhuntingdon at 2:03pm asking a question that I answered different from anyone else? If you’re going to berate your commenters, at least be consistent. I’ll guess I should put the BeBest in my back right pocket with a Rayne-soaked handkerchief.

            • Rayne says:

              earlofhuntingdon’s oldest comment in this system dates to April 2007; EoH is one of the regulars who’s earned their cred with thousands of exchanges, more often providing information than than taking.

              Slow your roll. Spend more time reading.

              • Diviz says:

                Which is why I said “veteran commenter.” If there are rules that make your blood boil when they’re broken, would it be beneficial to have an FAQ on comment section etiquette so that potential new community members don’t crash into the party unwelcome?

                The Comment Policy section doesn’t list anything remotely like, “Please don’t ask questions unless you’ve answered X amount of veterans’ questions first.” The first ever reply to the Comment Policy in 2011 is “A comment/tip form is very nice and useful. Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?” People sincerely do not want to step on toes at all, but they have no resource to look to so that they don’t get an entire firehose of bile spewed at them for (goddess forbid) asking a question.

                Maybe define a keyboard macro so you can just press Shift+Ctrl+Q to autopopulate the form with a standard exhortation such as, “Please do some initial research on your own before you ask a question of the comment section.” Or possibly write out a comment section Rules and Etiquette page, and you can just auto-populate an offending post with a link to that. As I said, I already started writing out the rules that I have observed. I don’t mind fleshing it out more and submitting it to you for elaboration. I also started looking for links to past posts and comments that recorded the conversations or reasoning behind certain topics on the site so people would arrive caught up in the conversation. Then you could just reply with a link to The Rules page and save your time for the bona fide trolls.

                [Dude. You’re going to lecture on how to run this site when it’s done just fine for a dozen years? It’s approaching antiquity in internet years. Here, I’ll give you a rule: the first rule when you’ve dug yourself into a hole? Stop digging.

                This ends here. It’s obstructing the thread. /~Rayne]

    • Trip says:

      Was it this guy?

      Between 2007 and 2013, Fotiadis designed all or part of six Trump-branded developments: a Trump Tower in Kazakhstan; a Trump-branded seaside resort in the republic of Georgia; a 47-story Trump Tower in Tbilisi, Georgia; hotel rooms at the Trump Tower in Istanbul; a Trump movie studio complex in Florida; and major portions of the Trump Parc Stamford, a condominium tower in Connecticut.

      https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/06/how-a-ny-architect-offers-a-window-into-trump-deals-in-eastern-europe.html

      People reached out to the guy above and then he quickly closed shop, his twitter account, and moved to NJ.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Thanks, Trip.

        I think my phrasing wasn’t right. I’m wondering more from an investigative angle whether the architect could be a valuable witness. Whether it would be worth the time and effort to seek testimony from the architect for some evidentiary value.

        • Trip says:

          Did you read the article? Because:

          “The architect is a key part of the Trump sales pitch when he goes into these countries, and he’s convincing the money guys to give him a branding and development deal,” said Jan deRoos, a Cornell University professor of real estate finance. “The architect is the one who translates the Trump brand into actual design and construction standards.”
          In Eurasia, Trump’s deals often involved complex networks of investors and middlemen. For instance, Trump’s 2011 deal to build a Fotiadis-designed resort in Georgia was set up by Giorgi Rtskhiladze, an international financier who, four years later, would arrange for Cohen to receive a proposal from a Russian millionaire seeking to partner with Trump on real estate in Russia.

          The article doesn’t say he had been interviewed at that point by Mueller, nor that he was on the Moscow Tower project, but he completely dodged reporters and closed his business right after being contacted. Which is…odd?

          • Savage Librarian says:

            I do remember seeing that a while back.

            Thanks for your help.

            I’m feeling a bit puny today, not firing on all cylinders . Think I’ll just lurk for awhile.

            • Trip says:

              Naw, it’s all good. You triggered my memory about this guy, who I thought acted strangely at the time. He may have been interviewed and he probably did nothing wrong, but maybe wanted to escape the glaring lights on Trump. I couldn’t view the architectural plans properly on Buzzfeed (even after taking off filters for trackers), so I couldn’t see if he had signed them (if he was the architect on that project).

            • Cathy says:

              Also, a plea for patience in a different context, but it could apply to blogging [asserts tentatively]

              It is messy. Churchill observed

              [m]any forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time….

              It’s a struggle. It can be heartbreaking. Yet we keep slogging ahead, fallible as we are.

              My first nested block quote; I feel so empowered…

              • Savage Librarian says:

                Thanks, Cathy,

                This is my first time looking at EW on a computer. Much cooler and easier to use than on a cell. But I don’t have this option as often.

                I have to say though, that I really am thinking about that check for $500 to EW that I put in the mail today. It is a splurge for me. But I do wonder if I should cancel it.

                I was in the customer service business for many years. People were called on the carpet for much less than what is dished out here. It really is alienating and abusive, not to mention hypocritical. This is exactly the kind of behavior that EW criticizes in the GOP. Go figure.

                Good customer service actually saved my life once, literally. It was during a home invasion a number of years ago. The guy actually apologized to me. In fact, his treatment of me felt far more democratic than EW’s treatment of their customers.

                • G Holland says:

                  Nah…don’t be scared off or cancel your check. Just pretend you have thick skin until you really DO have thick skin (I already do, from years of being a lawyer). It’s worth taking some criticism and/or snark and/or [other offense of your choosing] to learn from these guys’ insights (at least, it is to me).

                  I’ve a very new reader, probably less than 20 total posts over the last few months, but have found this site extremely helpful, and as a bonus: very entertaining! Intelligent humor is a scarce resource where I’m from, so I’ll put up with a lot to enjoy some on a regular basis (“…that’s what SHE said!”).

                  Besides – it can be kinda fun to stick up yourself and others (e.g., “this one time at band camp? when someone used the word cunt? and then there was this whole hoo-hah about how offensive that word was? and someone said that on other discussion boards, that user would’ve been kicked off? and so then I couldn’t refrain from jumping in? bcs Americans are practically the only people who avoid the word cunt? but who the hell decided that cunt is ranked worse than pussy or twat or va-jay-jay or whatever? and anyway, then there’s the whole flute thing, so…yeah”).

                  P.S. I’m a lawyer but not a criminal or constitutional lawyer (commercial transactions), so for practical purposes on this board, IANAL.

                  P.P.S. Does anyone else find it funny that the acronym above could describe most of us: “I [am] anal”?

                  P.P.P.S. If no one else has ever found that funny, don’t tell me, as I prefer to keep some of my delusions intact.  (My delusion that we still live in a democracy governed by the rule of law, however, is virgo non intacta.)

                • Cathy says:

                  Yeah, don’t go…and yeah, I find the computer more constructive for comments, too.

                  I’m pretty sure the moderators’ ask for links gives them a chance for behind-the-scenes due diligence. Trolls could mischievously leave references that entice readers into bogs; links in comments allow the moderators to quickly vet not just suggested content but possible elseweb forays by readers.

                  Helps them help keep us safe and hygienic (which sounds less odd if you’re from an OSHA regulated industry).

                  Happy Groundhog Day!

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Unlike Trump Tower Moscow, presumably never started, there is a formerly licensed Trump Tower in Baku, Azerbaijan that was never finished. The only accurate description requires misquoting a member of the British royal family, “What is proposed is like a monstrous carbuncle.”  Baku, Azerbaijan is an historic, sad, and even from a decent distance or through an alcohol induced haze, a hauntingly depressing city on the Western shore of the Caspian Sea. Forbes magazine called Baku the “World’s Dirtiest City in 2008. Soviet influence is everywhere, impressive scale coupled with colorless drabness. Aside from the amazing people, one of my few fond memories of Baku is a snowy Christmas Eve ride through the gated Old City, in a ragged Lada taxi. After mistakenly rolling down one window so
        I could breathe (everyone in Baku smokes), it would not roll up, and we zoomed past the eerily lighted 12th Century Maiden Tower, listening to the theme from Mission Impossible blaring on the radio. 

        According to Radio Free Europe:

        The Trump Organization canceled its licensing deal for the planned hotel in December 2016, one month after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

  20. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    So…. we have NYT overlooking the fact that Trump was possibly in a deal to make $300,000,000 for putting up **zero** money?!!

    Did I read that wrong?!

    WTF?!

    Apparently, the NYT needs to call in their biz reporters and crime reporters to back up Maggie and Peter.  And also, maybe get someone from the Tax Justice Network to clarify the processes of money laundering, tax havens, and tax dodging.  Just for shits and giggles.  But also to educate the public.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Rayne and all – am only now listening to a NYT podcast of 2/1/19, [The Daily]: The President and the Publisher.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/01/reader-center/trump-sulzberger-president-publisher-the-daily.html

        I’d recommend it for any interested EWheelies.

        If I understand correctly, Trump wanted to meet recently with NYT publisher AJ Sulzberger ‘off the record’.  Sulzberger agreed to this condition last year, in order to try and prevail upon Trump to douse the ‘fake news’ mantra, lest journalists be harmed.

        However, since the earlier ‘off the record’ meeting between Trump and Sulzberger,  we’ve learned about the murder of Jamal Khosshogi, and a gunman murdered people as they sought to publish their local newspaper in ?Maryland, and last fall CNN received bombs and bomb threats.

        IOW, danger for journalists has risen, and Trump continues to rail against ‘fake news’, insult, and  demean the [legitimate] press.

        After being burned last year by meeting with Trump ‘off the record’, AJ Sulzberger refused to meet ‘off the record’ again with Trump, for reasons explained in the podcast.  However, Sulzberger recently   agreed to go to the WH – only! – on the condition that any interview would be ‘on the record’.  Consequently, he went and  took Peter Baker and MagHag with him.

        Sultzberger is clearly concerned about the safety of journalists, and by extension the ability of the NYT  and other media to do their jobs.  That concern seems to have been his primary purpose in agreeing to the Trump interview, albeit with new guidelines of his own devising.

        Ergo, and not to give the NYT a complete pass on the $300,000,000 issue mentioned in my previous comment: it seems that for Sulzberger, press safety is an overriding issue.  That is understandable, particularly in view of Trump’s ability to designate the press as a target for any unhinged whackadoodle with a gun, a bomb, a grudge, or a sense of grievance.

        For anyone interested in the NYT, or the press, this podcast is worth a listen.  Trump is, as ever, absorbed in his victimology and oblivious to the threats that he poses to innocent journalists (and the rest of us).  He is oblivious to the deaths of journalists murdered in by a gunman in 2018, and his response to the topic of Khashoggi is … banal  (see also:  Arendt, Hannah, on the nature of evil).

        FWIW, it seems that Trump has so utterly absorbed the ethos/culture of National Enquirer as a ‘press organization’ (!) that he does not seem able to grapple with the kind of journalism that the NYT attempts: the idea that a newspaper of record would seek to report the nature of reality is clearly a threat to Trump’s ego and worldview.  As ‘reality’ (Mueller) becomes more threatening, Trump’s belligerence against the press escalates.  Sulzberger seems to see this quite clearly.

        I don’t think Sulzberger was as focused on Russia’s $300,000,000 as he was/is on the safety of journalists. That doesn’t excuse the oversight, but I think places it in a sobering context.

        • Rayne says:

          Could explain why Trump emphasized repeatedly he felt entitled to a good story from NYT —

          But I came from Jamaica, Queens, Jamaica Estates, and I became president of the United States. I’m sort of entitled to a great story from my — just one — from my newspaper. I mean, you know.

          I’m sort of entitled to one good story in The New York Times. I started off, I ran against very smart people and a lot of them.

          I just sort of think I’m entitled to a great story from The New York Times. I mean, I’ve done something that nobody’s ever done.

          His malignant narcissist’s perception of reality isn’t shared by anybody else. He even views the NYT as his paper because it’s New York’s paper, the one mirroring the world around him.

          Sulzberger might be worried about journalists’ safety but his enabling someone so toxic and narcissistic isn’t going to work. Especially when Trump’s perception of reality includes actual media willing to distort fact at will as Pecker’s National Enquirer has.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Not disagreeing with you at all.  Just trying to suss out the Bigger Picture, which contains a great deal of darkness.  I do believe that Sulzberger made the right call in this instance.

            Unfortunately, the NYT ‘political’ reporters have legitimized sleazy lobbyists as ‘strategists’ (Stone, Manafort).  In actual fact, the ‘strategists’ are pimping politics, issues, and candidates, but the NYT has been laundering reputations to make them appear to be respectable.  At this point, that is deeply irresponsible, and increasingly dangerous.

            Those of us who recognize the ‘reputation laundering’ are furious with the press —  for being such a pack of weenies to let these criminals retain any pretense of respectability while they continue to suck up resources and diminish public life.

            IMVHO, the fundamental error of the NYT is to cover Trump as a ‘political’ story, which is so simplistic that it is misleading.  We get ‘political conflict’: Pelosi vs Trump; Coke vs Pepsi; Rams vs Pats, Guacamole vs Salsa, Dodge vs Toyota, yada yada…  That ‘conflict’ misses the real story, IMVHO.

            The real Trump story is a complex, horrifying, fascinating, compelling  crime story.  The NYT needs to team up biz, crime (money laundering), with their political reporters, and every single article going forward needs to be done by a ‘team’ that covers that nexus of categories.

            It’s possible to do this kind of reporting: we can see it in David Cay Johnson’s work, which is in a league of its own.  Ditto Craig Unger.  The NYT needs to up their game, for everyone’s sake.  And notice that neither Johnson nor Unger give a rat’s ass what Sarah Huckabee Sanders pouts or snarls on any given day: like Marcy, they’re too busy doing research.

            “Trump” is no longer a story that can be adequately covered by political reporters: they may be able to report on legislative and legal structures, but if they don’t understand money laundering, campaign finance, and crime, they can’t adequately inform the larger public.  And given the last election results, there is reason to believe that the wider public is actually quite interested.

            Thanks for hanging in here with me Rayne.  This whole issue of shitty reporting and media getting pwned is really, really far too costly to ignore at this point.

        • Cathy says:

          And thus Sultzberger may have been confronted with a constraint on a fundamental mission (we seek the truth and help people understand the world) posed by a fundamental value (human life).

          I think we witnessed someone operating under a similar constraint at the end of 2016. Sobering to suppose that as distressing as he undoubtedly found the incoming administration, as outraged as he was by the attacks on the election, Obama felt constrained by a fundamental value: the peaceful transition of power…

          So I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the President-elect — because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.  The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.  And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world. [my emphasis]

          We just thought he was talking to us. How rickety was that footbridge over the abyss?

          • Time Soups by Derek Pargo says:

            And thus Sultzberger may have been confronted with a constraint on a fundamental mission (we seek the truth and help people understand the world) posed by a fundamental value (human life).

            Sulzberger is confronted by a constraint on his fundamental intelligence.
            He doesn’t understand the game that’s being played because he doesn’t well enough understand the game he’s playing. Or maybe it’s the other way around. It’s both ways around.

  21. P J Evans says:

    @Wajim February 1, 2019 at 3:33 pm
    I’d bet on a copy in Moscow. Vlad wouldn’t let Himself be the only one with a copy, because of trust issues.

  22. dwoolly says:

    I haven’t even read the article yet, but wanted to compliment the headline.  I love a good musical connection and we are in dire straights at this time after all.

  23. sand says:

    To Trump, “free option” = gratuitous = no contract = no business. It’s one of his common stupid “outs” to argue that he had nothing going on in Russia. If he wanted to argue that he had a multi-billion-dollar deal in Russia due to the LOI, he could do that too. He would experience zero cognitive dissonance.

  24. Nehoa says:

    First time to comment.  I have always been skeptical that anyone in Russia really intended to have a Trump Tower built in Moscow.  As other commenters have noted, the oligarchs are not looking to invest in Russia, they want to take their money out of Russia.  Historically, DT’s org was one path to do this.  They did not need DT to build something for them in Russia.  They could do that themselves if they wanted to.

    I think that TTMoscow was simply a dangle because they knew DT wanted it so bad.  Talk cost little and gave them a lot of kompromat.

    • Rayne says:

      Logical, though this was such a big get there might still be a project at the end of this mess as a reward should DJT pull off some key deliverables like sanctions lifted.

      The purported location of the project makes me think it’s a reach, though. The riverfront site is such a stretch goal.

      Welcome to emptywheel. Love the Hawaiian name, by the way.

    • arbusto says:

      I’d think that Putin, wanting Russia a major player in power politics and increasing economic growth in many local sectors, wouldn’t be against new and post Stalin architecture, what ever form it takes.  Also a contrarian Oligarch or some other entity wanting more Russian business opportunities would structure a deal for luxury Condos.

  25. G Holland says:

    @Rayne, EW, whoever…I just typed a semi-lengthy response and clicked “post” – and my whole comment disappeared. Is it in “pre-publishing review” purgatory or did my computer glitch? Or did it get blocked for a content problem (and if yes, what’d I do wrong)?

    • Rayne says:

      It went into digital purgatory likely for a confluence of reasons — language and length of post are probably the two biggest factors triggering the algorithmic squirrels to kick your “bad nut” into the bin.

      You can picture us flailing for keys to the bin to release your comment. Ta-da!

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Another musical reference (Bicycle built for two)

        Rayne, Rayne, give us your answer do.

        We’re half crazy, waiting to hear from you.

        If it looks like a hinky posting,

        you make sure it’s not a ghosting.

        And no-one can hide,

        if you find out they’ve lied

        on an emptywheel comment purview.

  26. rip says:

    @sand – trump and cognitive dissonance is redundant. And he/family wouldn’t even be able to understand the concept.
    (Un)fortunately, the repuglicons and other “interested” parties know how important it is to confuse both the old fart and the supposed mobs of deplorables.

    • sand says:

      Ha ha! You may be correct that Trump could not experience cognitive dissonance. However, I was alluding to an idea that he purposefully spends a lot of time in the gray area of gratuitous promises. This is the area where he can say anything he wants and argue that it is not yet a “deal” in Trump parlance. Or he can argue that it is, if he prefers.

      For example, he supposedly “turned down a $2B deal” in Dubai in Jan. 2017. Interestingly, DAMAC is currently marketing (today) Trump condos in Dubai. (https://www.damacproperties.com/en/projects/the-trump-estates-at-damac-hills) Uday and Qusay were at the golf club grand opening in Feb. 2017.

      My thought was that he can imagine “deals” into existence with gratuitous promises. He loves that he can argue that they’ve disappeared when they become inconvenient.

      That reminds me, I hereby promise to buy the Brooklyn Bridge for $1B. Now ask me how much business I’m doing in Brooklyn. My answer is, “Who’s asking?”

  27. G Holland says:

    @Rayne 6:31 pm Thank you! Not sure why I can’t reply directly to your reply…even after refreshing page several times & changing browsers…but thank you for answering my question (and for not equating me with Veruca Salt).

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know enough about the bit of code running replies (TBH I can’t take the time to learn it); there’s something about the quirk related to timing. Some commenters have more problems than others so there is another factor related to a combination of device/OS/browser/network involved.

      The few times I’ve had problems using the Reply button, I tried right-clicking on it and opening in a new tab. That seemed to work for me. Give it a whirl or wait a bit and try again.

  28. Savage Librarian says:

    G. Holland @ 6:07 –

    I actually had a number of big donors lined up. But, now, not so much. Not because of anything I said to them. But more what EW said.

    They think EW needs to rework its business plan. So, I may or may not cancel the check. But I’m glad some people saw value in what I contributed since 1/9/19.

    It seems it’s a Catch 22 game here. Not something I’m interested in.

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      SL,
      Been hanging around here from the beginning. People contribute to this unique site for a variety of reasons, and no one ever asks why. The contributors know why.

      Some people, many people, a lot of people… I actually had…big donors…lined up…Now, not so much…I may or may not cancel the check…what I contributed…
      You sound like Trump!

    • bmaz says:

      Dear “Savage Librarian” – Listen. First off, thank you for a generous contribution. Sincerely. But if you wish to cancel it, do so.

      You have no idea what we deal with daily, much less hourly, to put this work product and forum up in the face of constant attack behind the scenes. There was a time where we questioned whether we should even keep a comment section at all. Many of our contemporaries, Digby for instance, gave it up. We all agreed here the answer was yes, because the commentary people here are overall very good and wonderful in their contributions. And it is remarkably and wonderfully still so.

      But it is a lot of work paying attention to, and separating wheat from chaff. So I am not going to apologize for how we go about making sure this is an intelligent and viable site for you to enjoy and participate in. If that does not work for you and Diviz, we will press on without you. As we have existed just fine in such status for well over a decade. You and your “big donors” have been here for a relative nanosecond and are vapor.

  29. skua says:

    @Harold

    I think a narrative that justifies pardoning  whoever Trump finds it convinient to pardon has been progressed in this interview.

    It has gone from, “Witch hunt” and “the President is pushing back”, through the unfairness of how some of those indicted have been treatment, to, in this interview, saying that there will be a proper time to address the “unfairness”.

    This also functions to communicate to any who are indicted and possess information that could cripple Trump, that taking the Manafort path and with-holding information from “an unfair witch hunt that the President has pushed back against from day one” is their best bet.

  30. Eureka says:

    Thank you for the dissection here; I saw on twitter that EW is doing the same to Corsi’s book, bleshu, thank you.
    Pretty much all that’s happening now as I go about life is the opening guitar alternating with I want my, I want my, I want my MTV.
    Here’s a neat version. Not credited in title/description but that sure looks like Ray Cooper on percussion as well.
    Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Sting & Phil Collins- Money for Nothing (Live Montserrat) –

    • Fran of the North says:

      Thanks E, for the nice linky link to a performance with which I’m unfamiliar.

      Ai yi yi! Not alert enough to pick up on the post’s title and make the appropriate connections. This I arrive late to the party.

      Mark Knopfler has a unique and powerful style on lead. The eponymous album was a lightning strike, but well deserved. Of course ‘Sultans’ was stellar and earned the popular acclaim that turned the band into a phenom here in the states. Less widely acclaimed, but equally (or even better) was ‘Down to the Waterline’, which to this day is a monster.

      The open is a mournful fog horn warning of danger. We’re then treated to a quiet guitar call and response, before the hard driving riff takes over. The image of a gritty, black and white film noir scene from a ramshackle port city pervades this song and remains with me 35+ years after the first listen.

      Perhaps an allegory for the times we’re in?

      Play ’em if you got ’em, Fran

      • Eureka says:

        That’s so (appropriately) haunting, Fran.  I went and gave a listen to Down to the Waterline.  I kept hearing the guitar(s) (during the meat of the song) as so very similar to Sultans.  (Close enough that if they played a bar on Name That Tune, I would have mis-guessed.)

        So I went to consult the wikis and I didn’t see the order in which they were recorded for the album (maybe Sultans first), but darn they took a sound and went in different directions with it.

        (If you don’t hear this or I sound nuts just disregard; I have discovered that lately I am ‘discovering’ similarities in sounds of some old tunes/different bands here and there that I hadn’t noticed before.)

        • Greenhouse says:

          Yep, Sultans of Swing their debut

          Dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles
          They don’t give a damn about any trumpet playing band

  31. James says:

    Going off the topic here, with a late-night tweet from the ACLU:

    BREAKING: Tonight the Trump administration filed documents that don’t dispute the recent report that there may have been thousands more separated kids. They’re arguing it would take too long to figure out where those kids are because they have no tracking system.

    They’re admitting they did this and going with the argument “genocide is too hard to clean up so we shouldn’t be held responsible.”

    [cleaned it up a little for you /bmaz]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Sounds like the admission of a crime.  When will we see courtier Kirstjen Nielsen in the dock, along with the political leaders who directed her in this criminal enterprise?

  32. pizza says:

    skua says:
    February 1, 2019 at 9:51 pm
    re: pardon hints

    Yes, why is it so damn difficult to ask pres Chump to elaborate on that comment? He’s so stupid. He really thinks he’s being slick but he’s ridiculously dumb for even mentioning it, I don’t care how veiled comment. Rudy is a better conduit for a coded message. Chump tee’s that one up, but they whiffed.
    The fucking President of the United States dangling a presidential pardon out in exchange for loyalty from potential (likely) witnesses against him in multiple ongoing federal investigations. Well, I guess that’s peanuts when the FBI literally has an open COUNTERINTELLIGENCE investigation into the leader of the free world! Just another steaming lump on the pile of manure that is this presidency, well him all around really. The concepts of honor and dignity do not reside within 1000 miles of this piece of shit.

  33. SomeGuyInMaine says:

    Letters of Intent and Free Options

    Here’s my take on Trump’s words. There is no option or free option involved here at all.

    His words follow a familiar parttern of dissembling. He was caught in an outright lie about dealings in Russia. So, true to form, he explains around it — almost free associating words around the act to brainstorm and arrive one he likes to minimize the impact of his actions. I think he settled on free option because it sounded non committal and flimsy, not because that’s what it actually was or meant.

    If you take the words at their actual meaning it makes Trump’s actions worse. But I don’t.

    Three things: 1) I don’t think Trump knows what a free option really is or implies, 2) it’s often a mistake to take Trumps words,especially finance words, at thei actual meaning (e.g. trade deficit), and 3) it’s already really really bad without any free option nonsense.

    Finally LOIs are generally quite substantial. All these agreements, the NDAs, the LOI, the licensing deal, the manangent deal, etc. will almost certainly have followed the form of other Trump Org deals. There’s a whole filing cabinet of drafts probably somewhere and future Mueller witnesss Alan “immunity deal” Weisselberg Trump Org CFO will know all about them.

    • Trip says:

      Alan Garten. What’s the deal with him? We haven’t heard anything about him being questioned by the OSC, or did I miss that?

      https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-pull-money-his-businesses-whenever-he-wants-without-telling-us

      Alan Garten is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Trump Organization where he oversees litigation worldwide involving the companies’ residential developments, hotel and office properties, golf courses, winery, member clubs …

      • Trip says:

        This may be another stupid question, but are corporate lawyers bound to attorney/client privilege during a criminal investigation? Or can they be asked questions about deals, etc?

            • Rayne says:

              He should probably look up more information on ‘Upjohn warnings’ and work-product doctrine as well as the crime-fraud exception.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              The A-C privilege net has a lot of rips and tears when it comes to in-house counsel.  For one, the client is the corporate employer and/or its various affiliates.  Normally, that is expressed through working with formal corporate officers, who are senior enough to represent the company.

              Trump Org, however, is a different kettle of fish.  I strongly suspect that any serious investigation of its workings would demonstrate, as is likely to be done for the Trump Foundation, that few of the corporate formalities have been adequately maintained.  Trump has absolute disdain for process.  He is everything and everything is him.  That’s a problem for maintaining A-C privilege, because much of what Trump does is personal, not corporate, or not corporate in the sense of the owner employer.

              In-house counsel are often the one bottleneck through which passes most of what a company does: hiring and firing, insuring, litigating, buying and selling, marketing, real estate, and so on. But primarily business discussions are not for the purpose of seeking legal advice and are not covered.  Who thinks the Don is good at separating out one part of a conversation from another?

              Then as bmaz and rayne indicate, there are myriad ways to lose privilege.  A-C privilege relates to confidentially seeking legal, not business, advice.  And you have to keep the discussions confidential: blab about it to the wrong people and you’ve lost it.  Trump’s not much for nuance, so that boundary is unlikely to have been respected.

              Work product privilege relates to working with a lawyer and any outside advisers reporting to her (eg, financial or tax accountants) in contemplation of  litigation.  Again, everything is a blur in the mind of Trump.  Claiming that too much non-privileged material is privileged is a good way to lose it.  As Rayne says, there are yet other exceptions, such as the crime-fraud exception.

              Trump and family will, predictably claim broad privileges.  Few are likely to hold up under scrutiny.

              • Rayne says:

                The one weaselly thing I am betting Trump org attorney Garten uses to play the refs: he’s said, “At the end of the day, I work for the Trump family…That’s how I view my job. Whether it’s protecting their business interests or protecting their personal interests. I am here to assist them and represent them in any way they need.

                Is this to allow the family members to claim the privilege instead of any part of the holding company structure? Just so damned slippery.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  That sounds unoriginal of Garten.  Probably every lawyer working for a family business – the standard model through which wealthy families manage their assets – says something similar.  I’ll bet even White House Counsel has said something like that.

                  As you point out, the claim does not solve the problem of who the client really is, who the work was done for, and whether the various requirements for getting and keeping privilege have been maintained – starting with adequate documentation.  It doesn’t solve the problem of other exceptions, such as the crime-fraud exception.

                  It does make a prosecutor’s proof problem harder.  But with a big fish like the Trump family, that’s not a substantial hurdle.

                  • bmaz says:

                    Yeah, not gonna cut it. As I think you noted earlier, the first questions are show us your corporate docs and compliance. Trump, family, Org and companies don’t have them, much less have them in proper order. That, as the kids say, is a problem.

      • Rayne says:

        Garten may not be the key. Remember it was bookkeeper Shumway who brought down Capone.

        “…Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s top lawyer, said in a phone interview Thursday that “the company has been fully cooperative in the investigations. …Weisselberg was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the Cohen investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported last month. …”
        (The Trump Organization’s finances are coming under the microscope by federal prosecutors, LAT, August 23, 2018 https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-cohen-business-20180823-story.html)

  34. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Granted, Trump is stunningly ignorant about the world at large and the world around the corner.  That goes for normal legal process and documents, too.  He can’t or won’t read, which has the same effect of making him cocksure about things he knows nothing about.

    But I think he knows exactly what’s in his standard documents which relate to a) forcing people to keep quiet about him, and b) the income he expects to receive from licensing his name, who owes it, and how and when they are supposed to pay it.  It is the core of his entire business:  Trump, his name, and the money are the same.

    • SomeGuyInMaine says:

      I agree with all of that. I was just slightly concerned about going down the “free option” rat hole.  There’s enough rats and holes already.

  35. Trip says:

    That this Moscow Tower deal went on until Trump became president (allegedly), and with oldoilfieldhand’s comment, I went down the rabbit hole, reading some of Marcy’s old posts, and others on the net.
    I think more investigations need to be initiated into the Iran angle (especially in light of Trump and Bolton banging the war drums)

    The New Yorker magazine reported in March that Trump’s business associates in Azerbaijan had ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the dreaded military wing of the Iranian government under financial sanction by the United States and the European Union. The Trump Organization backed out of that relationship in mid-December, about a month before Trump took office and about three weeks before scrapping the Georgia deal.

    On what oldoilfieldhand wrote:

    The article, published in August, details President Donald Trump’s deal with The Silk Road Group to build luxurious condominiums in the seaside town of Batumi, Georgia. The article details suspected ties between Silk Road Group and BTA Bank, which is mired in allegations of fraud and money-laundering….”The BTA Bank-Silk Road relationship ended in 2008″. … The deal with Mr. Trump and Trump Organization was signed in 2011,” he continued. Although a licensing agreement for the building was reached (and Trump reportedly received $1 million for it), the deal ended in 2017 when Trump became president.

    BTW, the Silk Road parties involved said they were going to sue the WSJ for their reporting on smuggling, did that ever happen?

    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article158519159.html
    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/20/new-yorker-article-about-deal-with-trump-untrue-says-silk-road-group-executive.html

    How do we really know when any of these deals ended?

  36. Michael says:

    The phrase “money for nothing” is both a personal trigger and an indictment of the “work product” of e.g. snake oil salesmen and needless, artless middlemen. (Rock on, Dire Straits!)

    If you somehow missed reading NYT’s Oct 2018 article
    “Special Investigation: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father”, you should have a look. Yeah, it describes how DJT built his wealth (spoiler: playing fast and loose with the tax code), but more to the point here, how he did (and does?) business.
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html
    You will save yourself some inconvenience if you throw up /before/ you start reading.

    (I tried to post that link several days ago to Rayne’s wonderful Starbucks rant
    2019/01/29/let-them-eat-starbucks-coffee-cake/
    but my artfully crafted salad went poof! because somehow I toggled Firefox’s “reader mode” during the process.)

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Daddy Fred’s fraudulent genius was to set up a “service company” to lard the maintenance of his properties. Again, I think the subtext of the Moscow Project was Sochi-style kickbacks.

      In some ways, the transcript of the conversation with AG Sulzberger is more interesting than the stuff with Maggie & Peter.

      I started from Queens, my father was — I loved my father, [gesturing toward a photograph] picture. I loved my father, had a great relationship with my mother and father, had a nice family, you know nothing — there was no trauma.

      Sure, Jan.

      https://twitter.com/colbertlateshow/status/1091517811506085888

  37. loon says:

    bmaz retweeted Andrew Prokop where Prokop points out who the SCO’s lawyers are in the “mystery Mueller grand jury”. IANAL, but what struck me in the Prokop tweet was the list of orders and motions on the docket. The sheer numbers of actions taken, if only somewhat representative of the various cases discussed here, go a long way in educating me that the cases are indeed moving along. What may look like slow movement, even foot-dragging, are actually examples of the protections in our legal system. The pace may seem to be frustrating at times, but these details give me a better appreciation of our system.
    https://t.co/9T67NAF1cL

  38. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Devin Nunes’s staffer Kashyap Patel, who made a surprise visit to London in an attempt to blindside former MI6 Russia desk officer, Christopher Steele, and force him to grant an interview – and was successsfully told to go Cheney himself – is being rewarded.  The “hard charging” Patel will join the staff of Bolton’s NSC’s “International Organizations and Alliances directorate.”  I assume that’s the directorate that is helping Trump trash those alliances and organizations and hand American foreign policy over to Pootie Poot.

    Someone up there must really like the modestly credentialed and inexperienced Patel.  He makes Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign’s reputed “coffee boy,” look as if he owns the whole coffee company.

  39. Badger Robert says:

    Perhaps the reporter encouraged the interviewee to talk about himself, his favorite subject.
    As the questioning got softer the subject’s inhibitions lessened until he said this, “there was no trauma.” Of course no one asked a question about that, but the subject was just talking randomly.
    A few days later the NYTimes publishes another story, on the internet, that the Trump empire was reaching its credit limit. The real estate guru may have been more dependent on new fees, and laundered money then we were previously aware.
    It is uncertain, but as SC Mueller shakes the money laundering tree, the potential launderers are reevaluating the risks. Mueller has at least three plays left, SDNY, Washington, D.C. and a hand off to Congress, so people may not want to risk more money on a potential loser.
    The last gambit would be to go full Jim Bakker and fleece the Christian right. I would guess that is a competitive business, with not much space between co-conspirators and law enforcement informants, but you all probably know that business better than I do.
    I am only guessing, but I think Mueller’s efforts are bad for business.

  40. Badger Robert says:

    If Duetsche Bank loans the Trump empire $45M while the empire is liquidating assets to fund the primary campaign, under what circumstances does that become a campaign finance violation?

    • Rayne says:

      Campaign. Finance. What is done by the campaign or those who are supporting the campaign which is illegal?

      I think you can reason this out. Did Deutsche Bank loan money to Trump for the campaign — Y/N? What were the terms of the agreement? How did Trump/campaign use any money it borrowed?

      There are too many holes in what we know to make a reasonable assessment. But you certainly spend more time looking at campaign finance regs to make sense of future information.

  41. Badger Robert says:

    A loan from a bank is legal. However if the loan allows the family business to fund the father’s primary campaign, it has a campaign purpose. If the business falls short on cash, and the loan goes into default, it perhaps becomes a donation, from a US personal banker.

  42. Badger Robert says:

    It seems to me that Mr. Mueller is mainly engaged in a counter intelligence operation. His data will help the FBI in the future.

    The prosecutions are in the main being passed to SDNY and Washington, D.C. The President can fire all of those attorneys and tough it out.

    It will be up to Congress to attempt to convince the public that the Republicans have tolerated corruption as in the 1920’s. That will be a difficult task as the voters are using a belief system which is immune from facts.

    • bmaz says:

      It seems to me that Mr. Mueller is mainly engaged in a counter intelligence operation. His data will help the FBI in the future.

      The prosecutions are in the main being passed to SDNY and Washington, D.C. The President can fire all of those attorneys and tough it out.

      That is not the case in the least,and you have no evidence whatsoever to support such a claim in the face of all the criminal indictments. And, no, said criminal cases are not “in the main” being “handed off”, although a few have where jurisdictionally and subject matter appropriate.

  43. Badger Robert says:

    Can the grand jury hand the accumulated evidence to the House Judiciary Committee as during the Nixon investigation, as was previously aired by Ms. Maddow? Logic says they should do it as soon as the last indictments are delivered, but logic v autocratic power is a close contest.

    Thanks for the clues in your blog which help us in flyover country.

    • bmaz says:

      No,of course not. And you would know that if you had been paying attention here. There are very strict grand jury restrictions for any federal grand jury. You might reference Rule 6 of the FRCRP. It has nothing to do with”autocratic power”, it has to do with existing Special Counsel regulations and federal criminal procedure. If Maddow insinuated otherwise, she is a fool.

    • bmaz says:

      Do you have a point with this blind link from another blog nearly five months ago, or is it just trolling?

      If you want to post a link here, explain what it means. Or don’t do it. Seriously, what is your purpose here?

Comments are closed.