Trump’s Slow-Motion Cover-Up of Erdogan Corruption and Jeff Sessions’ Meeting with Mike Flynn’s Clients

The NYT has a thoroughly damning story about Donald Trump’s serial effort to undermine the sanctions violation case against Halkbank. It describes how after Trump fired Preet Bharara, two of his Attorneys General intervened to limit what Geoffrey Berman’s Southern District of New York could do against the bank. Ultimately, that contributed to Berman’s firing.

These three paragraphs describe the epic corruption laid out in the story.

The president was discussing an active criminal case with the authoritarian leader of a nation in which Mr. Trump does business; he reported receiving at least $2.6 million in net income from operations in Turkey from 2015 through 2018, according to tax records obtained by The New York Times.

And Mr. Trump’s sympathetic response to Mr. Erdogan was especially jarring because it involved accusations that the bank had undercut Mr. Trump’s policy of economically isolating Iran, a centerpiece of his Middle East plan.

Former White House officials said they came to fear that the president was open to swaying the criminal justice system to advance a transactional and ill-defined agenda of his own.

And while the story mentions that Mike Flynn was among those lobbying the President on this topic, along with Rudy Giuliani and Brian Ballard, that’s the only mention of Flynn.

There’s just one mention of Jeff Sessions.

In 2018, Mr. Mnuchin reached out about the scale of a potential fine to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time. Justice Department officials then asked Southern District prosecutors whether the size of the fine they were demanding was negotiable, one lawyer involved in the effort said. The response was affirmative: The amount was less important than securing an admission of wrongdoing.

Both references are rather curious given something that has come out in the Mike Flynn case — ironically, in the documents that DOJ altered and, apparently packaged up for circulation. In a set of Peter Strzok notes describing a meeting talking about the FARA investigation into Flynn, it describes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Flynn’s lobbying clients, including the Turkish Foreign Minister, about Flynn’s case.

Flynn’s supporters take these notes to suggest that DOJ believed that Flynn had complied with the necessary paperwork and didn’t seem to have intentionally represented under the wrong lobbying category.

But the notes make it clear that DOJ still treated Ekim Alptekin as Flynn’s ultimate customer, and not at least one of the ministers the Attorney General had just met with.

It sure seems curious for the Attorney General to chase down a FARA violators’ clients like this.

48 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    It will take two years to untangle all of the threads by a Truth Commission, but it must be done and changes made, after restoring the SCOTUS and federal court system balance.

      • Pajaro says:

        Forgive my frustration. The opposition party has been far too ineffective for years now. Little wonder the corruption has been so rampant.
        I think your divestment and clarity comment below is good. Same should apply to Congress.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    An “ill-defined agenda of his own,” is how the NYT describes Trump being extorted by a foreign government to obstruct a criminal prosecution in order to protect about $650,000 a year of his income.

    The guy is so desperate for money, he once cashed a check for $0.13, which makes him the easiest mark. That’s one reason Congress needs to mandate that presidents divest their businesses, and disclose their tax and financial information before taking office and every year thereafter. Anyone who finds that too burdensome can take a pass on becoming the public employee who sits in the Oval Office.

    • Coyle says:

      Don’t forget Trump’s sudden decision to abandon the Kurds, over strong objections from the military. That’s quite a quisling twofer — squelching the Halkbank investigation while selling out a long-time regional ally — for $650,000 a year.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Glenn Greenwald resigns from the Intercept.

    The same trends of repression, censorship and ideological homogeneity plaguing the national press generally have engulfed the media outlet I co-founded, culminating in censorship of my own articles.

    Glenn was a co-founder of and The Intercept’s most highly-paid contributor. His arrangement with it allowed him to publish his work without fact-checking or editorial input – to the sometime chagrin of his co-workers – and to publish elsewhere anything The Intercept refused to publish. He apparently resigned in response to attempts to imposed restrictions on both fronts.

    Greenwald’s 39-paragraph resignation letter reminds me of the decline of Montgomery Clift. It was said of the marvelous actor that he committed “the longest suicide in Hollywood history” – owing to the ten years of self-neglect that followed his near-fatal car crash in 1956, which marred his once beautiful face, but caused greater damage to his confidence and self-esteem.

    In Glenn’s case, his decline is not physical or emotional, but the loss of confidence others have in his judgment and willingness to accept criticism, and to self-correct his errors – an issue of sharp debate recently between him and EW. He calls that censorship and blames others for it. QED.

    • MB says:

      Apparently he thinks there’s some kind of “there” there in the Hunter Biden allegations…but he’s got a sizable “fan base” and now enters the brave new world (for him) of maintaining a subscriber base rather than relying on larger publishing outfits…

      • BobCon says:

        I would bet if he went to work at Fox he would quickly find out what oppressive editing was really like. They wouldn’t cut him the slack they give Hannity.

        I don’t know if he could make the money The Intercept paid him, but I suspect he’d find a few thousand people willing to pay 50 cents to a buck a week for a newsletter pretty easily. Maybe more. He’ll be fine. Some of his subscribers would even be real people.

        I thought it was hilarious how Bari Weiss tweeted an over the top bit praising GG’s screed and holding him up as an example of the failures of the media. Weiss notably pushed to block GG from being a part of the infamous Harper’s letter out of fear that his name would taint it. Does she really think people would forget?

        She wrote her own screed when she quit the NY Times, which got some praise from the right and crickets from the left. Also hilarious is how her supposed new venture hasn’t panned out so far, and neither has her threatened lawsuit against the Times for all of the mean and nasty things other employees said about her on slack. Somebody got through to her, no doubt, that discovery was going to reveal a lot of things she wrote and did that was not going to make her story hold up.

        • MB says:

          “Does she really think people would forget?” Probably.

          GG’s 10/19 article about the victory of Evo Morales’ party in Bolivia is still up on the Intercept website. Guess that article wasn’t “censored”. The YouTube Intercept channel still has 33 of his System Update podcast videos still up – I don’t think any of them were “censored”.

          I’ve generally found the comments section of just about any Intercept article to be a cesspool of alt-right trolls, unrelenting critics of whoever wrote a particular article, a few thick-skinned troopers and…legions of GG defenders.

          The original purpose of the Intercept was largely to sponsor GG’s “careful curation” of the release of the Snowden docs, but time and circumstances do take unexpected turns. The whole Reality Winner situation didn’t help, but the fact that he’s bashing them for that is convenient, but not really relevant…

          • BobCon says:

            Yeah, Weiss is deep into her own world.

            Although I think she was, in fact, pretty stunned by the internal uproar at the Times over her awful behavior. I think her allies had shielded her pretty well for a long time, at least until the dam broke.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Intercept’s editor-in-chief, disputes the claims in Greenwald’s resignation letter and, “suggested his exit was essentially “a grown man throwing a tantrum.”” A snippet from her full refutation:

      He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor. Thus the preposterous charge that The Intercept’s editors and reporters, with the lone noble exception of Glenn Greenwald, have betrayed our mission to engage in fearless investigative journalism because we have been seduced by the lure of a Joe Biden presidency.”

      We’ve had enough of narcissistic white males, with a pox on both their houses special sauce, thanks, Glenn. The DB article also notes other causes of tension between GG and his Intercept co-workers: “his frequent Fox News appearances and increasingly Fox-friendly columns….[and] view of Russian interference in the U.S. election [which] mirrored that of pro-Trump Republicans.” DB’s article culminates with this excerpt from GG’s resignation letter:

      “The Intercept published some of the most credulous and false affirmations of maximalist Russiagate madness, and, horrifyingly, took the lead in falsely branding the Hunter Biden archive as ‘Russian disinformation’ by mindlessly and uncritically citing—of all things—a letter by former CIA officials that contained this baseless insinuation,”

      Craig Murray, Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate, and Yves Smith might agree with GG’s take that Russia’s attempts to manipulate US elections are either a figment of our collective imagination or a fair quid pro quo for decades of similar US interference in Russia and Eastern Europe, all of which distract our attention from more important problems here at home.

      The last argument is partially valid – for those who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. But there are quite of few of us, especially here, who think their arguments are an obtuse, head-in-sand mistake of epic proportions.

      • klynn says:

        To Glenn and his 39 page screed I would repeat what a wise man once said to me, “When you are explaining, you are losing.”

        One day his screed will serve as an example in a dissertation on spycraft , sabotage and post truth propaganda. Emphasis on post truth propaganda.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You may be referring to something else, but GG’s resignation letter was 39 paragraphs of victimhood.

          Marcy does a nice job on twtr of critiquing the article, whose editing by The Intercept spurred Glenn’s resignation. Odds are, though, that it was a long time coming. Where he goes next – does he stay independent or join a network – will say a lot.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            On that underlying story, the proposed editing of which drove Greenwald up a wall and into the wilderness:

            It was a piece of shit story that could have been published with several of Glenn’s lines admitting there was no evidence to back his insinuations.

            EW wishes The Intercept well: “Congratulations…[on] being rid of Glenn,” because, in my words, their H.L. Mencken has morphed into John Solomon.


        • klynn says:

          Sorry – 39 paragraph (not pages!) screed.

          Playing the victim and victimization are propaganda techniques.
          The Russians used this technique regarding their aggressions in Ukraine.

      • harpie says:

        For some reason, the first phrase of the first sentence of G’s article:

        Publication by the New York Post two weeks ago of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, relating to Vice President Joe Biden’s work in Ukraine,

        [besides having two errors which Marcy notes in her thread,] reminded me of this:

        6/12/16 The British press reports that Julian Assange said that WikiLeaks had obtained and planned to publish a batch of emails “in relation to Hillary Clinton”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          GG either makes an elementary error or furthers someone’s propaganda. His framing assumes that Joe Biden had business in Ukraine. That assumes facts not in evidence, “facts” which are very much in dispute.

    • harpie says:

      Oh My:
      5:31 PM · Oct 29, 2020

      NEW from me + @BrandyZadrozny: The Deepfake Peddling a Hunter Biden Dossier
      Months before the NY Post story, a document passed around far-right websites detailed a vast Hunter Biden conspiracy.

      The document’s creator, Martin Aspen, claimed to be a Swiss intel professional.
      But Aspen’s face was created by AI. He doesn’t exist. […] [link to NBC]

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The tell will be who next hires Glenn. Having staked out his turf as a professional outsider, will he join Fox or another Murdoch property, in time to dish all the dirt about the new Biden administration? Enquiring minds want to know.

  5. Silence Hand says:

    Anyone else psyched about the curtain call for the Big Dick Toilet Salesman? Gotta say I’m glad to see the palooka isn’t just washed away into the cesspool of history.

  6. Montana Voter says:

    I am amazed at how quickly you, generally astute, folks were diverted away from the main issue, the corruption of Trump’s dealings with Erduan, resulting in death and destruction of American foreign policy to a discussion on Greenwald (who could be described as a traitor) quitting a dubious information outlet on the basis of a insane theory being pushed by the likes of Rudy Guiliani and Tucker Carlson.
    Its no wonder that lower information voters can be swayed to vote against their own interests by malignant actors in the system.
    Can you not stop chasing new shiny objects long enough to address the clear and present danger the reelection of Donald Trump poses to us all?

    • bmaz says:

      Nobody has been “diverted”. We write what we want to write about, and do not need your approval in the least. Secondly, this blog has been all over Trumpian involvement with Turkey and Erdogan going back to the 2016 transition and Michael Flynn. Maybe you were distracted by some object shinier and were not paying attention though.

      Lastly, if you think anything Greenwald has done qualifies him as a traitor, or underlying treasonous conduct, then it is you who are the “low information” voter. But, again, if you had spent much time here, you would know that. Thanks for your scolding little rant.

      • Montana Voter says:

        Ha Ha.
        I hit a nerve. First, if a switch from a discussion concerning the actual facts of Trump’s corruption to kibitzing about Glen Greenwald is not a diversion, I would like to know what is.
        I certainly don’t expect or need you to have my approval for anything. Your response is demonstrates that you cannot take any criticism. Seemingly, just what you and your compatriots are assiduously hammering GG for on other posts on this site.
        Your response about what you were talking about concerning Erduon in 2016 is like the old journalism quote that “last weeks paper is wrapping fish today.” The post I was commenting on started out talking about current revelations that are certainly most relevant at this point in time.
        Finally, about treasonous behavior. While I might be pressed to succeeding in a prosecution on a narrow definition of treason, it is clear from the other posts on this site concerning GG, that his pushing of the Hunter Biden laptop story is a clear attempt to support Trump’s re-election. I find it hard not to make the connection that supporting Trump is supporting his policies and the revelations about Erduon that started this discussion are evidence of Trump’s treasonous behavior i.e. aid and comfort to our countries enemies. So, I guess as we follow the thread of this thought: You vociferously support GG, GG is using his position and talent to support Trump and his treasons ways, so by reduction you too are treasonous, racist and a fear-mongerer supporting Trump’s blatant misuse of his office, the DOJ, DHS and the rest.
        You buy part you buy it all. Some progressive you are!!

        • bmaz says:

          You did not “hit a nerve”, you are full of shit and got called on it. You “might be pressed to succeed in a prosecution on a narrow definition of treason”?? You could not prosecute squat as you clearly do not know the law.

          It is neither narrow nor broad, but it is specified in the Constitution. You don’t even know or understand the actual definition of treason. For starters, you have to be at war with an enemy for it to apply. We are not at war with Russia, and we are not at war with Turkey. Why don’t you drop back and study up on it before parachuting back in here to make an idiot of yourself again.

          • Montana Voter says:

            Not hitting a nerve!! I could be the equivalent of Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man, based on your reaction.
            The first resort when you have no good argument is the ad hominem attack which you so poorly mounted.
            I would believe that I certainly have prosecuted (and defended for that matter) more crimes than you can imagine. That was why I specifically said treason could not be prosecuted. Apparently you missed that nuance in your haste to attack me. I was using “treason” in the mainstream, colloquial sense. However, even your boy Trump has stated that we are “at war” with Iran which of course was the beneficiary of his own corrupt dealings with Eurdoan and Turkey. Follow the money, remember? If you do not believe that we are in a “non-shooting” war with Russia and its oligarchs maybe you should do some reading on the post world War II Cold War experience.
            Maybe your defense of GG and Trump is rooted in your fear of ending up on a park bench filled with Soviet era poison, so you have to toe the party line. Must be tough looking over your shoulder all the time.
            Attacking me personally shows that not only are YOU “full of shit” but reinforces your support of Trump and his authoritarian actions.

            • Rayne says:

              This: “Maybe your defense of GG and Trump is rooted in your fear of ending up on a park bench filled with Soviet era poison, so you have to toe the party line.” suggests you are either on crack, shooting off at the mouth while not being familiar with this site, or a troll intent on cutting and pasting crap regardless of whether it’s accurate.

              Clearly you haven’t read anything this site has published in more than 2100 posts critical of Trump not including hundreds of other posts which have been critical of members of his administration, his family, his lack of ethics, and more.

              We don’t have time for those who will clutter up comments with ill-informed windbaggery. Adieu, adios, arrivederci, auf Wiedersehen, au revoir, bye, cheerio, ciao, farewell, goodbye, 面辞, さよなら, shalom, tot ziens.

    • Chris.EL says:

      here’s an interesting observation:

      …”CNN reporting Trump has canceled plans to appear at his hotel on Election Night.

      Will stay at the White House instead.*

      He knows he’s toast.”
      *It’s a shorter walk to that bunker — he’s probably going to need it — hope it is well stocked with sedatives and straitjackets!!

      Have faith — does it really look like all those voters are doing what they’re doing for Trump?

  7. Peterr says:

    Reading the whole thing through set off bells in my head, reminding me of a post I wrote in February 2018.

    Back on February 15, 2018 — 6 weeks after Halkbank deputy general manager for international banking Mehmet Hakan Atilla was found guilty of violating US sanctions against Iran — Tillerson held a private meeting with Erdogan in Ankara, with Turkey’s foreign minister as the sole interpreter and only other person present. No US notetaker, no US interpreter, just Tillerson. Against all standard practices, Tillerson took a three hour meeting with Erdogan, leaving his staff to scramble the next day to write it up and prepare for a press briefing the next day.

    In my post at the time, I speculated that the meeting was called at Putin’s request, to pass along a message from Putin to Trump. Reading this story, I wonder if Erdogan also used the occasion to twist Trump’s arm through Tillerson on this matter closer to his own heart. There’s nothing at all in this new story from the Times about this very odd meeting with Tillerson, but it fits easily into the timeline they lay out.

    The next Secretary of State will have a lot of cleaning up to do.

  8. Zinsky says:

    I don’t know whether anyone posted this link yet, and if they did, I apologize. I have been very busy with pre-election activities (e.g. phone banking, writing letters to the editor, etc.), but Time magazine ran a story about how a lot of the so-called “evidence” on Hunter Biden’s ostensible laptop that was dropped off at a blind man’s repair shop and never picked up (yeah, right) was being shopped around Ukraine at least a year before:

    This is old, fabricated kompromat that is being pushed by U.S. Senators Graham and Ron Johnson! Ronald Reagan must be whirling wildly in his grave, that Republican Senators are helping to sell Russian propaganda to the American people. Graham and Johnson need to be removed and prosecuted for seditious activity.

    • Montana Voter says:

      Thank you and Petrr for bringing this string back toward the original discussion of Trump and Erduon.
      I don’t think Ronald Reagan would be rolling over in his grave as it was his policies that pushed the GOP to it current outrageous levels. If any Republican would be rolling in his grave, it would be Eisenhower who certainly recognized the problems.
      This is all crap generated by the Putin forces to further interfere in our elections and destroy the fabric of our stated political ideals. As I stated in an earlier reply if you support GG and his attempt at supporting Trump, you buy the whole package. You don’t get to slice the bologna that thin.

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