Art of the Get-Screwed-in-Your-Russian-Quid-Pro-Quo Deal

Donald J. Trump, self-proclaimed Master of the Deal, just got his ass handed to him in a high stakes nuclear negotiation by Kim Jong-Un, at a time when Trump had the full power of the United States and hundreds of experts available to help him.

And yet Russian conspiracy denialists believe that any conspiracy between said deal-maker and Vladimir Putin must show evidence that Trump came away with a big win over anything but the 2016 election. They believe this, even though Trump made any such deal at a time when he was desperate to avoid a humiliating loss, relying on negotiators like his feckless son Don Jr, his attention-craving personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and his financially exposed campaign manager Paul Manafort.

That’s what I learned last night when I walked Aaron Maté through the process of first claiming the Trump Tower deal went nowhere because Cohen and Felix Sater disagreed in December 2015, then admitting that Cohen and Sater were still at it in May and June 2016. By the end, Maté was dismissing Rudy Giuliani’s admission that the deal went through the election (which is itself a limited hangout designed to hide that a Trump Tower deal was pursued in two different forms after the election, as well as abundant evidence that other financial payoffs were dangled if not made) by pointing to Dmitry Peskov’s stories, which have changed right along with Michael Cohen’s evolving story.

Because there’s no shiny tower in Moscow with Trump’s name on it, Maté appears to believe, it is proof that when Don Jr took a meeting in June 2016 at which he (according to the sworn testimony of four people who attended) committed to revisit Magnitsky sanctions if his dad got elected, the possibility of a $300 million payoff didn’t factor in to Junior’s willingness to sign away American policy considerations on behalf of his father.

That’s not how criminal conspiracy law works.

If you sign up for a deal and take steps to make good on it — as Don Jr did on June 9, 2016 and Paul Manafort appears to have done on August 2, 2016 and Mike Flynn appears to have done, on Trump’s behalf, on December 29, 2016 — then it doesn’t matter if the partner to that deal fucks you over later in the process. And, after all, the Russians did continue to supply Trump with a steady supply of dirt on Hillary Clinton all through the election. They got Trump elected, or at least did what they could to help, even if that payoff wasn’t the one Trump was most interested in.

Do you think Oleg Deripaska, a key player in both the deal-making and likely in the cover-up of it, gives a shit if Paul Manafort — who had screwed Deripaska over years earlier — had his life ruined as part of the process of compromising a President and getting sanctions relief? My suspicion is we’ll learn that Deripaska actually magnified Manafort’s hurt, once he had gotten him to compromise himself and the campaign.

Do you think Putin really cares whether Trump — to say nothing of the United States — benefits from the stupid choices Trump made during the election? Putin — a far better “deal” maker than Trump — got a win-win either way: Either Trump succeeded in compromising America’s rule of law in an effort to squelch any investigation into what happened, robbing the United States of the claim to idealism that so irks the master kleptocrat, Putin, or Trump would spend his Administration desperately trying to find a way out, all the while Putin connives Trump into dismantling the alliances that keep Russia in check.

And, too, Putin’s election year operation exacerbated the polarization between Democrats and Republicans such that most Republicans and a goodly number of Democrats have been unable to step back and say, holy shit, this country got attacked and we need to come together to do something about it. Trump’s win got Republicans to fear Trump’s base so much that they care more about those fevered hordes than doing what is right for this country. And Democrats rightly want to punish Trump for cheating, but haven’t thought about what a least-damaging off-ramp for that cheater might look like.

Putin doesn’t care if Trump benefits from all this — though he is happy to keep toying with Trump like a cat plays before he eviscerates his mouse. He cares about whether he and his cronies win. And there are multiple ways for him to get a win out of this, whether or not Trump manages to eke out any kind of real payoff past the election.

And let’s be honest, Putin isn’t the only one playing this game. Certainly, Mohammed bin Salman feels the same way, even if his record of ruthless dealmaking is shorter and sloppier than Putin’s. The truth is that Donald Trump and Jared Kushner are easy marks for a whole range of skilled operators willing to stroke their egos and dangle loot, and over and over again they’ve let themselves be bested in foreign policy negotiations, to the detriment of the interests of the United States. That they are so bad at deal making in no way disproves their culpability.

There is no Trump Tower in Moscow. But there never had to be. All that was needed was the promise of a ridiculously lucrative narcissism-stroking deal for the Trump family to agree to shit that would hurt this country. And all the evidence suggests that they did, and continue to do so.

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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200 replies
  1. rip says:

    Is it possible that Putin actually made trumpf into the US pResident to stick it to the porcine deal-maker-wannabe? All poor donnie wanted is another multi-million deal to put his name on the front of some trash real-estate. As has been said before, he didn’t want and didn’t expect to have to sit in that trash heap at 1600 Penn. Ave.

    I don’t know how you say this in Russian, but be careful what you seem to be wishing for.

    • horses says:

      How would that benefit Putin? Trump is clearly nothing to him, as we know because Putin blew Trump off during his 2013 beauty pageant.

      Why provoke an international incident to screw Donald Freaking Trump?

      It makes more sense that his goal was to knock off HRC at best, and at minimum undercut her claim to legitimacy and a popular mandate.

    • Rick Ryan says:

      I think it’s at best overly simplistic to say that Trump didn’t want to be POTUS: he ran four times!

      I believe he very much wanted to “be” President, but very much did (does) not want to “do” President things. He wanted (wants) the glory and attention that comes with achieving the highest office, and wanted (wants) to spend his tenure alternately lazing around and looting the country with literal legal immunity while various underlings handled all the boring crap like faithfully executing the office of President of the United States, as he assumed Obama was doing (because he’s a big dumb senile racist).

      • Mainmata says:

        He told Kasich during the VP candidate hunt that he wanted the VP to handle foreign and domestic policy (i.e. everything) while he presumably would spend his time hate tweeting and giving rallies.

        Also, I had read a while back that, aside from him “winning” the election, the Moscow Trump Tower fell through because the Trump team couldn’t get the land on which to build the tower. Don’t know if that’s actually true or not.

        • marksb says:

          That’s what I’ve read several times, including an article Aug 27 2017 WaPo, that on at least two occasions the “deal” crashed because of “permits and land ownership”. To me this smells of a bullshit “deal” by Russian leaders and financial backers: promise they’ll get to build their project, just a few things to iron out, string them on for years and _oops_ the land isn’t available and the permits can’t be cleared… That way the Russian’s get what they want–influence and favors–and yet don’t have to give anything away.

          The key here for me is that associates and officials in the Trump Org, as well as the consultants that may have worked with them, seem pretty stupid when it comes to business projects, so why not lead them on and see what you can get? Seems like the Russians hit the jackpot and left Trump&Co holding a bag filled only with evidence of illegal behavior. SAD

  2. The Lorem Ipsum Conspiracy says:

    There is more than a little irony in this scenario. As Kim Jong Don is notorious for stiffing the people he’s made deals with himself. If Trump made a deal to pay a contractor a profitable rate and then reneged, forcing the contractor to take a loss, nobody would dispute that they had still made a deal.

    receipts:
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/06/09/donald-trump-unpaid-bills-republican-president-laswuits/85297274/

    https://www.npr.org/2017/01/11/509168365/trump-d-c-hotel-contractors-say-theyre-owed-millions

    • emptywheel says:

      Excellent point.

      I keep replaying Cohen’s comment in my mind, that the reason he taped Donny talking about the hush payments is because he knew it’d be the only way to get paid back.

      • Badger Robert says:

        And in the end Mike realized he had not taped enough conversations and he was going to pay a high price for what he had done. The way out of hell is over burning coals.

      • progressiveandsane says:

        Had a boss like that once. Watched her lie all the live-long day to others. When she once promised me something, I walked backed to my desk, memorialized the conversation in a memo, popped right back in and had her sign it. A year later, she tried to re-neg. I pulled out the memo and placed it on her desk. She kept that promise. Cohen knew exactly who he was dealing with. That anyone would take Trump’s pardon dangles seriously is beyond me. Always thought Manafort feared Russian retribution over anything that could be delivered by the U.S. justice system.

        • Frank Probst says:

          bmaz has repeatedly pointed out that even a witness as compromised as Manafort can still be useful, especially when it comes to things like getting documents into evidence. He can also give an account of the Trump Tower meeting that may give investigators new leads to chase down.

          But I agree with your take. I don’t think Trump thinks that Manafort can hurt him, and that’s all that really matters. Pardoning Manafort–or even commuting his sentence–is a political loss for Trump. I can’t see him doing it. I think he’s even so short-sighted that he doesn’t realize that letting Manafort rot will hurt him with the next potential witness, who won’t be so easy to keep quiet with the promise of a pardon.

          Pardoning someone like Scooter Libby or Ex-Sheriff Arpaio is just seen as owning the libs. Neither pardon hurts him with other Republicans or with his base. Pardoning Manafort, on the other hand, would hurt him. The icing on the cake is the pro-Trump juror who has said that she thinks Manafort was only prosecuted because of his association with Trump (which I agree with, sadly), but he was still clearly guilty of what he was charged with, and she voted to convict on all counts. And she’s said that Trump shouldn’t pardon Manafort. That may only sway a small slice of Republicans, but it’s enough of a loss that I think he isn’t going to do it.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    As I said in another thread, King Idiot isn’t really a property manager like his father: he’s a manager of secrets. He paid to keep his personal dirt under wrap, whether by catch-and-kill or having his goons issue legal and non-legal threats; he hands tidbits to friendly outlets for personal benefit; he hoards other people’s secrets. (The John Harris piece for Politico on how he routinely calls up members of the DC press brigade — “[h]e’s quizzed some reporters on their romantic lives” — doesn’t consider what he’s trying to get from those conversations.)

    Now somebody else owns the one big secret — that he compromised himself — and he can’t (for now) pay the price to catch and kill it. He doesn’t even know the true asking price.

    “My suspicion is we’ll learn that Deripaska magnified Manafort’s hurt, once he had gotten him to compromise himself and the campaign.”

    Ohhhh. That puts Kilimnik’s activities in a new light.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, as I linked, given that Christopher Steele believed that Deripaska was a sound broker of intelligence at precisely the time Steele set out to gather dirt on Trump, there’s a good bet that Deripaska (and Sergei Millian) fed Steele disinformation.

      About the only thing Steele got right was that Manafort was at the heart of the conspiracy.

      And I actually wonder whether the August stories (and the release of his daughter’s texts) came from Ukrainians or from Russians. I have reason to suspect it was the latter.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Yeah, I’m also thinking about the 2017-18 stuff and the steps that put him in jail. The Madrid meeting, right around the time Buzzfeed published Steele’s memos? The Kyiv Post editorial? The witness tampering? Fuck yourself over again and again, Paulie.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        So Marcy, are you saying that for once the Electoral College President is actually telling the truth when he calls the Steele Dossier ‘fake news’??

        • bmaz says:

          You understand that the “Dossier” was never more than raw intelligence, and has been transformed, duplicitously, into the biggest red herring in the history of man, right?

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            *sigh* Yes. I just loath him so much, I never want him to be right. And the fact that he has that impact on me makes me hate him all the more. Not my shining hour, bmaz.

            • bmaz says:

              Naw, it is all good. Doubt any here feel different. And it is not easy to keep dealing with it.

            • Silence Hand says:

              That’s a bit harsh on yourself. As bmaz et al. note, the Steele dossier is raw intel and not what we’d consider “news” in more normal times. As raw intel you know parts of it are likely false – you just don’t know which parts. The “Fake News” formulation is functionally brutal in two ways. The function of the word “Fake!” is obvious. But the word “News” does a heavy lift as well here – by labeling the Steele dossier as something is absolutely is not (that is, journalism).

              Let’s say a person tasked with figuring out what happened in a field walks around collecting possibly informative objects, puts them in her pocket, and then dumps them out on the kitchen table. Then you decide what’s useful in figuring things out and what’s just lint and pebbles. Thats raw intel.

              By contrast, “NEWS” as currently formulated has a “wine / sewage” problem. Take a glass full of sewage and put in a drop of wine: you get sewage. Take a glass of wine and put in a drop of sewage, you get…sewage. Journalism is supposed to be trustworthy, so falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

              Even if you know nothing about it, you’d be safe assuming that the Steele dossier has lots of stuff in it that’s plausibly bullshit, because of course it does. Yelling “FAKE NEWS” is a great strategy.

              As far as disinformation goes, the grand jewel prize has gotta go to the “pee tape”. Even I, a supposedly sober-minded scientist…well, let’s just say I have one of Dan Sinker’s PEE TAPE prayer candles myself. Could go on at length, but that’s gotta be a world-historic bit of mindfuckery.

              I mean, yeah, wouldn’t it be great to have that metaphorical silver bullet? Right wing folks were always looking to get that on Obama (Kenya! Whitey Tape! yargleblargle blarg!). Shoe’s on the other foot now, and dammit if it doesn’t kinda fit some folks…………..

              And like you, damn, I hate that I’m even spending energy thinking about this. What then must we do?

      • Democritus says:

        Huh, thanks for that theory. Been wondering about those texts for a while.

        If Managort led blameless life, this is me in hell 🥶

    • BobCon says:

      There is also the twisted logic he uses pretty cunningly — he pulls many people so closely to him that his secret becomes their secret too.

      McConnell, Graham, DeSantis, and all the rest now have a major stake in keeping everything under wraps. They weren’t originally compromised, but as soon as they joined him they’re now bound even tighter. They have no choice to push for his reelection to try to keep the power of the presidency working on their behalf, because they fear the deluge if he loses.

      • what-ever says:

        The above and political cohorts have probably been compromised/blackmailed by their “association” with “Madam” Cindy Yang. It seems rather timely that she surfaced via pictures on her facebook account (pics with the pres and several of his minion). I wonder who and what prompted her to become outed? Funny how she, and her secret clientele have surfaced, even after she is allegedly no longer owns the Spa…odd.

        • Mainmata says:

          Just guessing, of course, but when Craft was caught in flagrante delicto on a police video that made people check out the spa operation. Just because she no longer owns doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be easy to find out who started the spa chain and that’s how we get to “Cindy” and her FB page (since taken down, of course).

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Oddly, despite being mentored by Roy Cohn, most secrets that Trump seems to spend time protecting are his own. Real power brokers like Cohn manipulate the secrets of others. They protect their own along the way, a delicious and necessary side benefit, but manipulating the secrets of others is what gives them power to perform favors for powerful, well-heeled and grateful friends and to bury their enemies.

      Trump, as usual and perhaps because he is captive to his narcissism, gets it backward. As you elegantly put it, Putin and others get it right. The US will be paying for Trump long after Trump leaves office, whether or not he spends time at Club Fed. The whole country will understand what it’s like to be a Trump contractor, getting shafted on the payback after delivering him the goods.

  4. BobCon says:

    One thing that worries me in particular is the possibility that Russia is using Trump to screw with China.

    Sanctions that hurt both the US and China are one possibility. I doubt the Chinese are happy about the implications of a sabre rattling North Korea that promotes increased militarization in Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere in the Pacific. I’m sure the Chinese recognize they are at a disadvantage to Russia in terms of information warfare that takes advantage of US divisions, but I expect that will only spur them on to try to duplicate the Russian success.

    And it’s also possible that the Chinese will extend efforts to put the screws on Russia in return, and who knows where that leads.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think Putin was using Kim to screw us in NK, and with it China. Which is a related horrible thought.

      • BobCon says:

        The possibility of a Putin-NK connection hints at how scattershot and short term Putin’s thinking probably is.

        Destabilizing the NK-China relationship is not a good longterm plan, and the missiles that are worrying Tokyo and Seoul can just as easily target Vladivostok.

        • elk_l says:

          An attack on Vladivostok doesn’t seem very likely even if technically possible.
          Putin would counter any attack on Vladivostok with a total annihilation of Pyongyang and NK rocket and nuclear sites. It wouldn’t bother Putin that, as a result, massive NK artillery would reek destruction on Seoul.
          Putin would come out the big winner in that whole scenario, and even have some justification for his own actions, but only if, of course, if it didn’t lead to a much wider war.

          • bmaz says:

            Not that I know, obviously, but I don’t think NK wants to attack anybody. They (Kim) wants to 1) maintain power and control and 2) to get sanctions relief and cautiously reintegrate into world commerce. Not sure those two are actually compatible, but that seems the play. And it starts with an actual peace deal with SK.

            • Silence Hand says:

              This makes sense. In years past that’d automatically disqualify it as predictive of what NK might do.

              I’m happy to be taken to the electronic woodshed on this, but Kim the younger *appears* to be acting in a predictable way, with a certain logic related to maintaining power in the world’s hands-down weirdest repressive police state. What bmaz outlines isn’t just THE play, it’s THE ONLY play for Kim.

              Putin seems interested only in repeatedly pants-ing the US, eroding our global and regional cred. And basically everyone sees Donald the Hutt heaving around, guided by nothing but self-gratification, and no fools they are looking to get while the getting’s good.

              • Jockobadger says:

                Good comment, Silence. I’m beginning to think it really may be just that simple. I recognize that it’s not “simple” from a methodological/technical tactical vp, but in terms of strategery, it checks the boxes. Create disunity among allies where there used to be cooperation, generate economic instability all over the place, increase fear and reduce optimism. All good stuff for Putie. He has fears himself wrt simmering internal dissent and economic stagnation on the home front. Seeing trump kowtowing to him on international stage(s) makes for great non-fake news viewing for the folks back home. It’s all good.

                • Silence Hand says:

                  Thanks. bmaz’s formulation is more concise, I guess.

                  I’m actually less concerned about NK in all of this than I am about the nominally US-brokered power balance in the region, to which NK is just an obstreperous bystander. Every time Putin uses Trump to pwns us, we look less and less like a reliable broker. The center weakens and we get closer to the “everyone for themselves!” point.

                  Of course Russia benefits from this sort of realigning upheaval. And pwns us.

            • elk_k says:

              Thanks, Charlie. Just thinking about such a terrible possibility must have had me smelling the aftermath.

      • Mulder says:

        Yes to Putin as the power behind the stupid love affair with Kim. It wasn’t just Kim and Xi who disliked the “war games” with South Korea.

        And by elevating Kim just for getting two internationally covered “dates” with Trump but no actual deal, China gets the shit end of that, too.

        I wonder what Putin dangled for Kim beyond the photo ops?

        • BobCon says:

          I think Kim knows how dependent his father was on the good graces of China. Making nice with Trump is obviously a joke, but Russia offers an opportunity to get some leverage with China.

        • horses says:

          Missile tech.

          About two years ago it was noted that NK had made a bit of a Great Leap Forward in terms of their missiles not blowing up on the launch pad.

          The speculation at the time was Iran.

          • Cathy says:

            Time followed up with a nice profile, from Feb 2018, of the history of North Korea’s efforts to import Soviet missile tech / expertise (http://time.com/5128398/the-missile-factory/).

            The sources of the tech, direct and indirect, are of on-going interest, of course. Shuster lays out a case that the path from now-extinct USSR to North Korea doesn’t necessarily pass through Iran…

            Short Shuster: “It’s the economy, stupid” (with all due respect to James Carville & 1992 Clinton Presidential Campaign)

      • Eureka says:

        I further think Putin is dangling* the ‘promise’ of real estate development in NK to Trump, as part of this screwing with US and China plan. It keeps Trump in the friendship game. Multi-dimensional fuckery, like a whole crudites platter of carrots and sticks.

        Adding: I don’t think Trump would be repeatedly mentioning it otherwise, unless someone had given him that idea as both possible and permissible. The notion is otherwise ridiculous on its face.

      • Democritus says:

        Not my area of expertise, but I Read, briefly -again not my area- that Russia and China had started cooperating more.

        What if China and Russia at least agreed together to make NK a way to fuck with us. Putin’s, “oh no don’t worry Kim can’t actually do anything so no Donnie, go in and normalize then he will jump at the chance to “denuke”.”

        Knowing Trumps folly would leave NK more normalized and split us and South Korea? Maybe Japan?

    • GusGus says:

      “One thing that worries me in particular is the possibility that Russia is using Trump to screw with China.”

      That might be a blessing in disguise. Long term, China is the U.S.’s main strategic competitor. In that light, long term it is in the U.S.’s interest to align with Russia. Putin manipulating Trump to a more antagonistic position with China may one day help with a rapprochement between Russia and the U.S.

      All this is rather speculative and perhaps pie in the sky, but China is our main competitor and we want to be friends with Russia.

      • Reader 21 says:

        Russia is a rogue state, run by Putin’s official marrying up of the red mafia and intelligence services, two of the most ruthless organizations in history. Anyone advocating sidling up to said mafia state makes me question their sanity—if not their agenda.

        • GusGus says:

          Fair enough, except for the sanity part. Two comments.

          First, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Russia may be a rogue state but Russia is not a long term geostrategic threat to the US. China is. Long term, the U.S. would be better off with Russia as an ally.

          I am not arguing that we should get into bed with Russia today, and I certainly disagree with Trump’s handling of Russia. But long term it would better if Russia and the U.S. had a rapprochement.

    • Anvil Leucippus says:

      Less of a “team deathmatch” and more of a “free-for-all” on the world stage of fascist autocrats. Otherwise they would have to share power.

  5. Wajim says:

    You’re our only hope, Mueller bin Kenobi. That, or Paulie gets a consecutive 8-10 year kiss from ABJ coming up and starts to recall Rule 35 before he eats a baloney and polonium sandwich, or, hey, the way some voices have been talking lately, a broad revolt of the Military/Intel folks through mass resignations (which doesn’t seem likely or really helpful). Sigh. 2020 seems so, so far away. And we saw what happened last time. Flags upside down, people.

  6. Sandwichman says:

    Bob Dylan explains:
    Idiot Wind:

    They say I shot a man named Gray
    And took his wife to Italy
    She inherited a million bucks
    And when she died it came to me
    I can’t help it if I’m lucky…

    No collusion! No collusion!:

    They say I shot Gray on Fifth Ave.
    But his wife didn’t come with me to Italy
    So when she died I inherited nothing
    Therefore, I couldn’t have shot Gray!
    I can’t help it if I’m unlucky

    • Valley girl says:

      This part of what I hope happens to Trump.

      Punaise, as I’m sure you know, also contributes lyrics here. At one point he said something to the effect that he is grateful that the EW powers-that-be (I think he meant the mods) let us play in our own corner of the sandbox.

      I have no lyrical talent, but instead offer this:
      https:[insert to prevent this playing at EW]//www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY_bQpmEBc0

      • Wajim says:

        Punaise? My favorite lyricist. Clever, deft, attractively annoying. A real triple threat. By the way, how do you know P’s a “he”? And if you do know, I much prefer a default mode of gauzy ambiguity, so . . .

  7. Badger Robert says:

    They knew how weak Trump and Kushner were for many years. And when Trump hired Manafort they knew they had Trump. And they have no objection to Manafort going down and Trump being chased by wild dogs in the night.

  8. Badger Robert says:

    Which leads to the question of who is complicit, and who is a collaborator, as mentioned above. Thanks for doing this.

  9. Terry B says:

    You’ve said we are seein Mueller speaking (his report) in the indictments. How do all of these pieces get pulled together? Is it one colossal set of indictments (ex-trump?)? How does Barr factor in. How much longer is the wait if we keep hearing report is almost to Barr?

  10. MattyG says:

    Yes. The perfect mid-river crossing summation. And a reminder that the conspiracy is not simply something in the past but on-going. At it’s core the deal as such has always been quite simple and in theory a few unambiguous intercepts, recordings and handfull of corroberating wittnesses should be suffcient to establish intent. Evidence of actions taken to make good on the quid pro quo seem clear enough through Flynn, Jared and others. In theory. We need to see real legal action on this front soon.

  11. Savage Librarian says:

    Any chance you might share with us any ideas or suggestions you may have about “a least-damaging off-ramp“ that might be viable?

    • PR says:

      First of all, SAVAGE mode is officially passe post Mt Sierra Mist Parochial School.

      Any and all discussion or analysis that do not answer the “why” question for Putin’s election hacking, money laundering, and grooming for Trump including Kompromat will fail to change the minds of moderates in the country (about 20%). Yes, about 30% are too polarized and propaganda-fed to understand facts and conclusions vis-a-vis party politics. To them, it’s anathema to speak of “God”/”Republicans” that way.

      So we return to “why” and this necessitates rehashing of Snowden. Our ISR infuriated Putin. It was a betrayal to the brokered deal of Russia becoming an auxiliary member of OPEC and Russia getting UN veto power. All in exchange for peace and unwinding arms race.

      Yet, here we are. Some believe Russia’s financial assent and oligarchs in reality make him a trillionaire, or by far the richest man alive capable of yes, re-upping the arms race. So this is where IC’s lack of foresight comes to blame. It’s not enough to blame bad actors/traitors like Snowden and Manning who should rot in prison cells OR throwing it “logically” on human error and cybersecurity. No, this is a strategic error. This is no mere tactical error.

      So given the arms race, Russia’s newfound resources, it’s propaganda machine. And it’s new place in the world: buying elections, hosting FIFA, yes all that little cultural shit matters, what are we to do? Where are to we to go, strategically speaking.

      Can you call The Psychic Friends Network (PFN) after all you’ve done to the Librarian in Savage mode? NO ONE KNOWS HOW BADLY YOU ALL REALLY FUCKED UP OR HOW THINGS REALLY ARE OR WILL BE. So, it’s time for apologies and yes corrections and yes that means all those shitty jokes, druggings, threats, killings, come out. This message is intended for a mature audience who works with and for shitheads who need to be separated from public service.

  12. ToeKnee says:

    I’ve recently started to wonder when Putin will throw Trump under the bus. He’s had so much upside from Trumpworld bumbling, but that will come to an end in 2020 or 2024. I suppose he could intervene in 2020 but whenever he stops seeing the percentage in keeping all the compromat secret, there is a possibly even larger upside (in terms of disrupting American politics) to an info dump. What do you think?

    • cat herder says:

      Vlad threw Trump under the bus a long time ago, Trump is just too stupid to have noticed.

      • elk_l says:

        Have to agree with this. Vlad has been slowly slipping the shiv into Trump’s back and if Trump is noticing anything he is feeling it as love.

    • Rick Ryan says:

      That’s been my question #1 since I came to believe that Russia was providing illicit election assistance.

      In short, though, I doubt they will show their receipts, in any meaningful way. To do so would almost certainly invite significant further sanctions at the very least (likely with bipartisan support*), which goes against the whole point of this exercise in the first place.

      The slightly longer version is that in order to decide to undermine Trump, they must conclude that the benefits outweigh the potential costs, i.e. that the potential political disruption in the US (rather than unification against a common enemy) is both likely enough and severe enough to be worth the risk of crippling sanctions and the complete demise of US-Russian diplomacy (and almost certainly similar consequences with most US allies, and attendant strengthening of NATO, etc.). That point would only come when not only Trump’s administration but the US as a whole is teetering on the brink of collapse. As dark as things are now, they can get far, far worse. So, Putin actively/openly undermining Trump would be a grave occurrence.

      *Although at this point I’m half convinced the GOP response would be “Russia LIES so their providing documentary proof of high crimes and misdemeanors is PROOF that Trump is innocent!”

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Oh Mulder, thank you for this link which has fleshed out my suppositions about the R’s. It, along with the article in Daily Beast today by James Kitfield about the US military leaders speaking out against the Electoral College President, have guaranteed a sleepless night for me.

      A democracy requires more than one functional party. How do we clean the Augean Stables which the Republican Party has become? It requires a brave, educated and motivated electorate that I see far to little of.

    • RR says:

      I recall Ms. Wheeler’s report some time ago from her exchange with a Republican congressmember, who said something to the effect that the two may share more common fundamental political ground than she had originally thought. That being said, I think the formulation in the piece that Mulder quotes is far too generous to Republican congresspeople on the whole. For some years already, in fact, a non-negligible number have themselves been of the fevered hordes. If we take “doing what is right for the country” to mean conduct growing from fundamental respect for democratic principles and institutions, not to say decency, one could be forgiven for concluding, on the basis of its trajectory over the last few decades, that the Republican party has had some very different priorities—and that “party over country,” if you want to call it that, has been fixed at the chromosomal level for some time.

      • Badger Robert says:

        I wonder explicitly whether there are not a lot of drifting former Republicans who want someone to throw them a tow line so they can get back to port.

    • Abigail Higgins "earthworm" says:

      The article “mulder” links to surmises that Russia has been hacking RNC emails for as long as a decade, resulting in weird GOP cooperation with Trump Russia. Might these emails reveal GOP computer fraud and election hacking, rather than juicy sexual peccadillos? GOP candidates started winning upset victories in very close elections, starting in G W Bush era.

      • tinao says:

        I still say op-scan tabulators are hackable. That said, don’t yinz guys want to make election day a holiday and get in the same room to count votes on hand marked paper ballots with them? Oh lord make me an instrument of your peace.

        • P J Evans says:

          the first scan is when you drop it in the box – and that’s not connected to the internet, it’s just to make sure it’s valid. (I’ve had ballots refused, and we couldn’t figure out what the problem was.)

          • tinao says:

            I’m not a computer specialist, obviously… but could not those scans have a computer backdoor to them? I don’t know, but what I do know, a little birdie told me, and I know I could get kicked off here for this, but PLEASE try this out as a thought experiment…just what if trump won because hitlery tried cheating shifting votes and her team fucked up. Hence, rich killed himself. Really, I don’t care if I’m right, I just want to make sure our foundation is sound! I think 2 corrupt parties can be possible.

            • P J Evans says:

              That suggestion fails because there’s no reason to go that way: no one needed to cheat to get her votes.
              (Ockham’s razor: root causes should not be multipled without necessity. Also known as KISS.)

              • tinao says:

                Yeah PJ my first degree was biology with a ton of chemistry. I was a chem tutor for the college. I’m well acquainted with Ockham’s razor. I’m asking you to get off your block and just consider. I am a nurse I want all to be informed, breath, and think before throwing possibilities out.

                • P J Evans says:

                  And you need to think about it a little longer before making a suggestion which is so obviously CT.

                    • tinao says:

                      PJ seriously, I don’t know what CT means. I want to be able to sit in a room with my opponents to count votes together. I think it would help PEOPLE remain in and learn civility.

                • tinao says:

                  Plus, I had to hold my nose and vote for her after she screwed Bernie out. He would have beaten trump. But she and the party screwed him out of the nomination.

              • tinao says:

                I just would like to say the information I was given did not come from a patient, I understand what HIPPA means. That info came from a friend who also cares.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Maté appears to believe, it is proof that when Don Jr took a meeting in June 2016 at which he (according to the sworn testimony of four people who attended) committed to revisit Magnitsky sanctions if his dad got elected, the possibility of a $300 million payoff **didn’t factor in** to Junior’s willingness to sign away American policy considerations on behalf of his father.”

    There’s no excuse for the ignorance and credulity in Mate’s comment. I keep repeating Buffett’s phrase, but neither he nor Donald Trump, possibly for different reasons, would walk away from a bent dime.

    For all his claims to abundant wealth, Trump’s cash flow is apparently very tight. He makes others pay off his alleged mistresses, occasionally paying them back on the time payment plan. He micromanaged inauguration expenses, despite having a treasure chest double any earlier inauguration’s budget, which begs the question of where the excess went. He’s supposedly not running his businesses full time, his two eldest sons, less talented even than Trump supposedly are, which would ordinarily reduces cash flow. We have no idea what his debt picture looks like. His properties, especially in Scotland, are apparently bleeding money. And so on. A guy like Trump would sell the White House for $300 million cash

    • P J Evans says:

      My understanding is that all of his cash flow was from TV and, maybe, some of the licensing agreements. He didn’t expect to be President, and he didn’t think it was the amount of work that it actually is – he apparently expected it to be all dinners and golf and schmoozing Famous People, because that’s all he saw of it on his TV.
      He could resign, but then the money would go away, and so would the attention that he craves – and the State of NY would be after him for the taxes he owes and the people he stiffed.

  14. Rita says:

    Putin has gotten most of what he wanted from helping Trump become President. Trump has put a big dent in our traditional military and economic alliances. We are isolating ourselves, creating a vacuum in world leadership and encouraging Russia and China to fil it. Our country is seriously divided about fundamental democratic principles. The big short term goals – removal of sanctions and allowing Russia free rein in its perceived sphere of influence – have not been obtained – yet.

    As far as Trump is concerned, I tend to believe Cohen when he testified that Trump didn’t expect to win, that he viewed the Campaign as a free infomercial for his brand. And Trump has admitted that he was pursuing his business opportunities at the same time as the Presidency. The Trump Tower Moscow deal wasn’t dead. It was just in abeyance. The LOI, after all, was non-binding (as far as we know). It was basically a term sheet.

    So theoretically Trump, Junior, and, Kushner might have thought making deals with the Russians about sanctions and the Ukraine were without risk because they wouldn’t be able to deliver if Trump didn’t win. And after the failed Campaign, Trump would have gained new important contacts in Moscow, new business opportunities, and the Trump Tower.

    Perhaps Trump thought that he was conning Putin. All of this help, without cost to Trump, because he wouldn’t be able to deliver on it. And then Trump won the nomination. In my most charitable view of what happened, I wonder if the Trump, Junior, Kushner Troika got in over the heads before they knew it. And couldn’t back out.

  15. RWood says:

    Sometimes I think we may be focusing on the trees too much. If Putin’s goal was to disrupt the political system here in the US, weaken our relationship with our allies, sow dysfunction, and elevate as many internal problems as he could, he’s definitely succeeded.

    But to what end? Sanctions relief? It just seems…small.

    A return of Russia to its former USSR status is a common theory. And Putin’s annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine supports that. What’s next on his agenda?

    A warm-water port has always been something Russia has wanted. To get it Putin would first have to decrease his chances of being held accountable. Everything he’s done works towards that end.

    Maybe we should be looking at a map and drawing some lines? We use to have a bunch of troops between Tartus and Tbilisi, until someone called for their swift removal with no real explanation. Soon there won’t be much there but a few Kurds and a puppet who is increasingly warm to him to the north.

    Have you seen their new T-14 battle tank?

    • Cicero101 says:

      My thoughts are that damaging a declining USA is a continuing goal and that the GOP is more important a target than Trump. For reasons outlined in some above comments that is succeeding. I don’t see any reason why Putin would desist any time soon.

      His other goal must surely be to weaken China in some way.

      Putin cannot realistically expect to strengthen Russia soon, so weakening the USA and China is the sensible alternative.

    • Rick Ryan says:

      I don’t think there has to be (or is) any massive sinister overarching plan here. If you think about it, what Russia provided Trump wasn’t much at all. Hack the DNC and some old politicos? GRU spends all day every day trying to hack the damn CIA, they could do that on their lunch break. $300 million for a tower? The Putinite kleptocracy looted something like $45 billion from the dang Winter Olympics not three years before, that’s chump change.

      Putin hears through the grapevine that Trump is seriously considering running for POTUS, he’s already got connections with him (and the GOP), so he gives Trump a few crumbs: if he loses, nothing lost; if he wins, he gets sanctions relief, he maybe gets some desirable foreign policy outcomes, maybe some favorable trade deals, just in general he gets to yank the US’s chain around for awhile, all kinds of fun stuff. It’s not like Phase 2 of some elaborately choreographed evil scheme, it’s just a basic case of little ventured, lots gained, that he’s now just milking for all it’s worth, until the farmer gets around to closing the door again, so to speak.

      • viget says:

        Eh…not so sure. Putin’s been playing the long game since 2008 at least.

        Some days I feel like all of this is the script for some twisted, f-ed up new TV series featuring a mashup of Homeland, The Americans and Mr. Robot. In hindsight, Wag the Dog was pretty damn prescient, maybe we are being warned again.

        • RWood says:

          Soldiers with no insignia occupying eastern Ukraine. Borderization in Georgia. Annexation of Crimea. Whatever word that gets attached to it, it’s still the acquisition of land by a foreign power, territory taken by force. In Georgia he does it a few acres at a time, in other places he just grabs the whole thing.

          There are nineteen (not a typo) Russian bases in South Ossetia, less than forty miles from the capital of Georgia. Georgia is his the day he decides he wants the rest.

          I have no doubt this will continue until he’s stopped. My only question is will he head east next, or south?

          • Zadius says:

            Putin’s holy grail would be destroying NATO. If little green men show up in a Baltic state, and Trump says to his base, “They tell me I have to obey Article V. These people are crazy! They want WW3 because of Latvia?!” And I can hear them cheering him. Europe then decides if they can confront Russia without the U.S. Popular support will not be there as Europe is too politically divided. NATO exists in name only at that point. And using little green men gives Russia the ability to back down and pretend they had nothing to do with it if it goes wrong. That’s a gambit Putin has surely considered and I am nervously anticipating it. With NATO gone, Putin can do as he pleases in Eastern Europe.

    • Anvil Leucippus says:

      You had me at “tank”! Is this a T-14?

      https://youtu.be/XyHxEDT9sEM

      And yes, “haw-haw” and all that. But what I like most is that this isn’t the ONLY video I could find! Russian tanks falling off trailers is somehow a genre!

      Anyway, tanks don’t scare me (but I don’t live in Eastern Europe). Internet-enhanced asymmetrical cyber-warfare sure does, though!

      • Savage Librarian says:

        A tank was parked 1/2 a block from my house after students were killed by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State in 1970. It was scary. The University was shut down and students were told to evacuate. I couldn’t get a ride home for a few days. Helicopters kept flying over. Very unsettling.

  16. SICK says:

    Trump couldn’t have built the Moscow Tower, yet…because he was elected. Although, he may be dumb enough to actually believe he has a deal to build it after leaving office. Sort of like believing Kim really loves him back.

    Trump may have been (or believes he will be) paid off (perhaps in the manner eluded to in the Steele dossier, by receiving the commission from the sale of 18% of Rosneft to Qatar via Glencore) or in connection with the forgiveness of debt by Deutchbank / Ladder Capital entities (that was likely originally guaranteed by members of Putin’s mob family.

    Remember, Trump is owed by Putin and MBS because (Mnuchin) already forgave the Oleg D. sanctions, and Trump never imposed those intended for MSB under the Magninsky Act.

    And lest we forget, the Kushner family was bailed out of financial ruin due to Jared’s massive overpayment for 666 Fifth Avenue by Brookfield Business Partners, the same company that has purchased Westinghouse Electric (perhaps in order to assist the Saudi’s with that Nuclear Power plant scheme of Flynn’s and which Jared believes will bring peace to the Middle East).

    Brookfield is also the entity the Qataris own 10% of…

    And then there’s George Nadad…he’s got to be connected to money going from somewhere overseas into someone’s grubby pockets in the WH.

    • SAO says:

      The deal was for one of the towers in Moskva Citi. I think the Federation Tower, which, I’m pretty sure is not the Orange one if you Google the pictures. Moskva Citi was build by and a pet project of Moscow’s former mayor, Luzhkov. After Putin decided that Moscow needed to be run by someone beholden to him, not someone with his own power base and told Luzhkov he could leave with half of the 1.9$B he amassed from his modest salary as Mayor, or be prosecuted for corruption, the Moskva Citi project languished, unfinished.

      I don’t know what the official ownership of the property is. Maybe that’s something that needed to be cleaned up on the Russian side — not difficult, given their long experience with expropriation. My guess is that the Russians expected Trump to finance a lot more of the deal than Trump wanted to finance. Further, my bet is they thought a Russian real estate developer would partner with Trump. But, I suspect, none were interested. (I know at least one didn’t even bother to take a meeting on the subject).

      Anyway, Google Moskva Citi, Federation Tower and look at the images. The Russians had a serious dangle.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I like your analysis. I suspect the Russian position was open-ended and flexible. Putin would have known Trump’s financial position better than Trump, who seems to have grossly negligent IT security.

        No Russian with the resources to do it would have wanted to partner with Trump. He or they would have agreed to do it, however, as part of their patronage relationship with Putin, presumably in exchange for consideration commensurate with the risk.

        I strongly suspect, though, that Putin as well as other oligarchs never intended for there to be a TTM. Trump’s management experience is a litany of profound, expensive, and blameful failures. Associating him with a signature deal in the center of Moscow would have been more expensive in reputation than money, as it would have drawn into serious question Putin’s judgment. But the dangle was smart and has paid off brilliantly.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Remember too that this was contemporaneous with the massive amount of graft for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2016 World Cup, both of which were obtained through dubious means. Whatever was dangled was going to be used to lard up contracts and exfiltrate money.

      • Silence Hand says:

        That’s a really interesting idea. I’ve been a little skeptical about the TT project being truly in advanced planning stages (if only in Trump et al.’s limbic systems).

        But I was thinking of the whole thing being a deal to build a tower from the ground up. For a supertall that’s a pretty monumental amount of logistics and labor management, can take quite a few years, and there’s a lot of ways it can head off the rails at basically any stage.

        Of course, it’s a deal to slap Trump’s name on an existing tower! A supertall – the tallest in Europe, which Trump would get to kit out as a hotel of sorts on the first ~30 floors, with gilded furniture, omelet bar, and a place for all sorts of other stuff on floors 31-35. The kind of hotel where dirty money shows up for a weekend thing, and checks out on Monday squeaky clean and fragrant. Wasn’t the “tallest in Europe” thing part of the Trumpers’ vision of what they’d get?

        Basically, the tower complex is currently by appearances in the hands of Roman Trotsenko. Nominally, it’s owned by”AEON corporation” a Russian private investment firm that has a pretty meager web presence despite being #~115 on the Forbes list of biggest companies. Trotsenko, a billionaire, is the head of AEON. AEON appears to me to be a cross between a matryoshka doll and a shell game, though it’s probably a lot more boring than that.

        KEY POINT: Trotsenko was a protege of Igor Sechin, though basically at this point seems like a drab frontman for him who says little. What this means is that the tower is actually in Sechin’s portfolio, and thus straightforward to dangle for Trump.

        • Silence Hand says:

          There are a lot of weird things about AEON, looking into it a bit more.

          Sberbank and Meridian are partners

  17. bell says:

    you’ve successfully silenced alternative views on this and put them all under the category of ‘trolling’…. this type of analysis is a perfect example of operating in an echo chamber with posters only capable of saying yes or fawning over everything you say… you get what you wanted, lol..

    • P J Evans says:

      That sounds like the whining of every would-be troll, ever.
      (What isn’t tolerated here is being stupid or foolish. You’re expected to be able to think.)

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, yes, Bell has long been known here, and previously dealt with, for exactly that. The whack-a-mole continues,

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Sounds like standard Republican projection. “Bell’s” problem seems to be that it’s not bell’s echo chamber. Thanks for keeping out the Borg. Resistance is not futile.

          • bell says:

            i am neither republican, american , or russian.. keep on making shit up as you all go along.. it fits with everything i read here..

            • Wajim says:

              Behind the response curve by a day here, but isn’t it blog policy to ban anyone who uses “lol”? Most annoying, laziest troll response possible, which seems to be why they use it.

              • Silence Hand says:

                lol is useful as a search term for troll threads. If it happens to be absent (rarely, but happens) I suggest that moderators insert lol in a reply. Painful, I know. Do something like “search tag: lol”

  18. klynn says:

    EW,
    Thank you so much for your Twitter feed tonight. Ohmygoodness! Our nation needs to wake up.

  19. Rusharuse says:

    Planet Trump – where truth takes a holiday.
    Meadowland . .
    “In 1980, he graduated from the University of South Florida with an Associate of Arts. Meadows was later credited by the Office of the Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, and by Meadows himself, as having earned a bachelor’s degree, but this was corrected after an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times in December 2018 found it was an associate degree.”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Meadows_(North_Carolina_politician)

  20. Moll Flanders says:

    I don’t understand why you think Junior’s statement about sanctions is so significant. It strikes me as standard business protocol.

    What was he going to say? “NO, if my father is elected we’ll never consider withdrawing sanctions.” For a dozen reasons, it would have been ridiculous for him to say something so definitive.

    If he had said: “YES, if my father is elected, we’ll definitely roll back sanctions” … that would have been significant.

    But he didn’t say that. He said what any campaigner would say to any lobbyist to get him/her out of his hair. “SURE, if daddy’s elected we’ll revisit that issue.”

    He could have meant it or not meant it. Either way, I don’t think one needs a $300m payoff to agree to think about something later. It’s the standard noncommittal twaddle one says at meetings.

    • P J Evans says:

      He said all that before his father was even nominated – and they could have nominated someone else, if the GOP-T were as smart as they want everyone else to believe they are.

    • Badger Robert says:

      Maybe because secret protocols between elitists who had no popular opinion restraining them has not worked out in the past. The principle was laid down in 1914 and there have been numerous iterations. Secret deals do not work in the national interest. But that is just my opinion.

    • SAO says:

      It’s not standard campaign procedure to take a meeting with several top campaign officials (Kushner, DonJr.) with some unknown lobbyist — unless they seriously want what the lobbyist is offering. Further, your comment assumes that the Russians would accept ‘standard twaddle’ and go on to hack Dem emails and dump them to help Trump.

      Further, the Trump campaign changed the GOP platform in late June/Early July (as in probably just after that meeting) to water down support for Ukraine, which lost Crimea to Russian annexation.

      In short, the evidence supports the idea that there was a quid pro quo. The Trump campaign got support in the form of hacked emails keeping the Hillary email thing in the news and drowning out Access Hollywood and the Trump campaign took some concrete steps towards meeting the Russian requests.

      • Moll Flanders says:

        The Trump campaign got immense help from Putin. It signaled approval of Russian meddling and a desire to cooperate with the admirable Putin in many ways–and a quid pro quo may have been discussed. I don’t dispute any of that.

        I just don’t see the need to make Junior’s statement the big moment of agreement.

        Trump was constantly praising Putin. There was no doubt where he stood. His answer to Butina’s question about sanctions was more committal than what Junior said.

        Junior’s a dolt and his statement was vague. I doubt it mattered one way or the other given all the tentacles reaching out from both sides.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A little experience dating would inform the average person that there is a wide gap between wanting, needing, and having to have.

      The $300 million dangle was brilliant. It was enough to get the entire Trump family salivating: given the apparent lack of cash flow commensurate with their alleged wealth, it would have saved their bacon and created the promise of more coming from side deals, and marketing and operating TTM.

      That marketing value would have increased the value and cash flow from their other properties. Much of their value – as the Don often claims in his financial statements, except tax-related ones – is dependent on the outsized marketing personality of Trump, which, like a check scam, is dependent on his latest infusion of cash and hype.

      Your concern that Don Jr. should have hidden his interest in relaxing sanctions, without overtly lying about it, is correct. But it assumes logical, strategic and tactical conduct rarely exhibited by the Family Trump.

  21. Robert Lyons says:

    The Trump Tower in Moscow deal and Michael Flynn’s nuclear proliferation across the Middle East deal both had a certain caveat. The Russian banks that would provide the financing for the Tower project, VTB and GenBank, and the Russian manufacturer of industrial components for nuclear power plants commended to Flynn and partners, OMZ OAO, were/are under U.S. sanctions. If Flynn and the Trumps truly wanted these deals to go forward and to cash in, they would have to truly want to end U.S. sanctions. Neat trick, Vladimir.

    “The events that led to Trump’s abandoned Moscow deal,” by Philip Bump

    https://wapo.st/2J3L1oF

    “Exclusive: Mideast nuclear plan backers bragged of support of top Trump aide Flynn,” by Warren Strobel, Nathan Layne, and Jonathan Landay

    https://reut.rs/2JbNsjY

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      Reuters may have unraveled Gordian’s knot. I have always had difficulty trying to explain or understand the expanse of the deceptions that seems to point to a huge swath of the Republican party and the NRA, as well as Individual-1 and his family. This nuclear deal could have provided enough profit to pour through all those areas and all those interests.

      Seems it always gets back to the same thing: follow the money.

  22. Willis Warren says:

    Trump sold out the country for a fucking hotel. I don’t see any way out of this except he goes to jail and loses everything. I think any compromise on this invites more.

    How do we get there? We need the fucking Republicans to stop being Koch suckers

  23. Marinela says:

    Sometimes Trump slurs his speeches.
    Didn’t see any good reporting on this issue.
    Is he on any kind of medication, stroke maybe?

    • P J Evans says:

      There’s lots of speculation, that he uses some kind of stimulant – or that it’s a side effect of the stuff he uses for his hair, because he’s so vain he thinks that a 70-something- man should have hair like a 20-something man.

      • joev says:

        For sure he’s vain, but that really long orange strand of hair he has wrapped around his head like a turban in no way resembles the hair of a 20-something man.

      • BobCon says:

        Sleep deprivation is another, based on the very irregular hours he seems to keep. It may explain why he is inconsistently energetic and lethargic.

        If it is responsible, it may or may not be connected to other medication. His weight and age are other possible causes of sleep deprivation, maybe an undisclosed injury, very possibly anxiety…

        I suppose to be fair, being president will give any sane person good reason to be anxious, although I suspect with Trump his worries aren’t standard issue stuff.

        • Marinela says:

          Sleep deprivation could explain it. I remember now reading he doesn’t get enough sleep. Thanks.

      • Marinela says:

        Ok, makes some sense. Not the hair, the side effects.

        And the sniffing?
        Could be allergy related, but who knows?

        He sounds angry all the time, if the stimulant causes speech slurs, I would be worried about brain damage.

        If Trump doctor finds cognitive issues, how do you reconcile HIPAA and the public position he holds?
        The president annual appears to be a requirement, and Trump didn’t skip it yet.

        Not pushing conspiracies, just trying to understand how the system works.

        • Tom says:

          Trump must be under a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, not just from the nature of the job of being President but because of wondering at each and every moment of the day or night what deep, dark secret of his might be about to be exposed to the light of day. I can imagine him finding it difficult to get to sleep, then waking up in the early morning hours drenched in nervous sweat with a pounding heart and a metallic taste in his mouth. At his age, he should be enjoying his Golden Years, spending father/son time with Barron and spoiling his grandkids. Instead, his dark night of the soul must be a 24/7 preoccupation for him. He probably watches so much TV to distract himself and because he has never developed the inner resources to enable himself to sit quietly in a room. I don’t envy him.

        • InfiniteLoop says:

          I’ve had HIPAA training. A physician unilaterally disclosing Trump’s information as you suggest would unquestionably be a HIPAA violation, and the penalties are no joke.

          • cat herder says:

            And yet, the penalties for storing surplus foreign babies in dog kennels, and then ‘losing’ (nudge nudge wink wink) a few hundred of them, are apparently nothing. Glad we have our priorities straight on these matters.

  24. fpo says:

    Thanks for the informed postmortem on ‘the deal.’ Recognizing that technically, it’s not dead yet – but hopeful that the coup-de-grace is coming shortly.

    OT, from the In My Dreams file…

    …Trump has his long-anticipated, R. Kelly moment on the tarmac as he, McConnell, Meadows, Jordan, Gaetz, Huckabee, Kavanaugh, Stone, Giuliani and ‘the kids’ prepare to embark on Marine One for their one-way flight to Jeffrey Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean which, due to rising sea levels, is now roughly the size of what used to be the 9th green at Mar-a-Lago. Wait a minute…who’s that in the wheelchair?

  25. Areader2019 says:

    So….just to play devil’s advocate, what is the counter argument?

    Marcy lays out a pattern of facts, and ties them together. But I never hear the other side argue, ‘oh, no…what really happened is..’. Is there another interpretation?

    With Cohen, we heard “shut up, you are a liar”.

    Is that all they have? Some version of ‘the investigation is tainted…something something dossier…angry dems’.

    • tinao says:

      Seriously, watching the cohen hearing that’s all I could say is, “Yinz guys got nothin but liar, liar pants on fire” for christ’s sake!

    • viget says:

      This article is fantastic and details how 501c4 groups in conjunction with media buyers can be used to launder foreign campaign contributions.

      This exact crap is what was going on with former MO governor Greitens (and his political consultant and former VP CoS Nick Ayers), and what got him into so much trouble.

    • P J Evans says:

      With YT, you have to leave the ? and everything after it. IF you want it to not play, you break it with a space someplace obvious, like right after the first colon.

    • cat herder says:

      https://www.youtube.com/ is the site.
      watch?v= specifies a page containing a video (and not a channel page or something else)
      WyDxlEkDbao is the unique string to identify that specific video file.
      &list=PLtJK_InIjqtQ3ByP4ypHAIsv5gpQT_MbR is a bunch of garbage pointing to a playlist containing multiple videos. Not needed unless you meant to link to a playlist instead of a single video.

      • Cathy says:

        Thx for the parsing – makes the world a tad less like a flying mass of spaghetti (with all due respect to pastafarianism).

  26. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Looking at the Old Post Office and the whole Yang affair shows how cheaply King Idiot can be bought: six figures is enough. Nine figures for the Moscow Project is… well, it’s somebody else’s league.

  27. Mark Rabine says:

    Some problems with your narrative. Not only is there no Trump Tower, the sanctions have gotten worse, with the notable exception of Deripaska, and whatever bromance may exist between Trump and Putin on a personal, or business, level, American-Russian relations have consistently worsened since Trump took over, hitting a low point recently with crashing the INF treaty. And weapons are flowing into the mafia currently running Ukraine. I cannot imagine worse had Clinton won, although more American troops might be holed up in Syria waiting for Godot. Secondly you say the Dems should be looking for a easy off ramp, one which would not inflame the populace, but according to your narrative, the Trump crime is not conspiracy, so much as treason. A “malign foreign power” is attacking this country and it is aided and abetted by a “Manchurian Candidate”? Holy Benedict Arnold! In 1968, when it was clear Johnson et al had ample evidence of the Nixon team working with Anna Chenault to sabotage Vietnam peace talks before the election, Clark Clifford and others warned Johnson about going public because allegations of treason would rip the country apart. Oh would they ever do so today! The Russian trolls will have a grand time of it.

    • P J Evans says:

      You seem to be living in a different universe from us. Check your space-time coordinates, please.

      • bmaz says:

        PJ is right. I, too, have a significant problem with your inserted “narrative”. This is not a place for you to wander in and do that.

        • Mark Rabine says:

          Oh dear. I didn’t realize I had to live in a special universe to comment. I’ll apply for clearance next time. Before I wander out, I wanted to point out the “inserted narrative” was not mine: “most Republicans and a goodly number of Democrats have been unable to step back and say, holy shit, this country got attacked . . .” Please inform me of the correct term of usage. “Metanarrative”? You know, I think it’s possible I do live in a different universe.

        • Silence Hand says:

          I’ll bite, though time and tide has washed over this thread. Not for the benefit of Mr. Rabine, of course, but rather as a world-weary sigh and reaffirmation that honest disagreements are aired robustly here. Unlike Mr. Rabine, and like most of us, I read the comments here and respond pretty rarely (though with somewhat episodic frequency).

          In service of this, I think it’s always good to point out trollish yargleblargle to newer intellectually serious participants. A PSA, if I might be so presumptuous. Mr. Rabine’s post and followup are such perfect “type samples” of trollish bullshit I’m tempted to think they’re generated by AI.

          Since the dawn of UUCP Usenet, the random person walking in with “u delud3d f00lz”, followed by a Gish Gallop, concluding with a huffing “u p30p13!!1!” is not interested in a considered exchange of views. Doing so is just pouring your energy down a rathole. It’s perfectly OK to have fun at their expense, though, as PJ did here (and elicited the stereotypical huff-out). Opinions differ on when the fun’s enough, and sooner done is better IMO.

          Moreover, when said random contributor begins their rant with a declarative statement that top-level blog posts (including the one above) have already completely demolished, and the statement’s not followed by any sort of argument, just stop reading.

          In this case, that statement is “Not only is there no Trump Tower”. Mr. Rabine makes a fool of himself here, thereby saving us all the effort of engaging with the remainder of his post.

  28. Silence Hand says:

    Huh. OT, but the thread’s winding down. Following up on the idea that the Federation Tower was at least one of the things Putin et al. were dangling. Roman Trotsenko, a Sechin protege, owns it. Effectively, he’s a front for Kremlin interests IMO. If so, why was this Kremlin faction getting set to establish a cryptocurrency? Not just investment – establishment. I’m sure that doing this would be a KGB wet dream back in the day….just sayin’. Trotsenko’s worth watching closely.

    https://cryptobible.io/roman-abramovich-going-invest-cryptocurrencies/

    Trotsenko gets really busy buying airports and port facilities. Generally pretty colorless, though there was a pretty gnarly love triangle thing with Miami condo and court action daytime drama.

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