Week in Rear View: All the Kingsmen

    Lost almost an hour's worth of link collecting last night trying to summarize the shape we're in, so here's a quick stab as the news keeps piling up.

    Big news last week was Manafort & Gates being indicted last week & finding out Papodopolous had pled and talked some months ago - Rick Gates being key as he stayed on with Trump's campaign to the end, while Manafort slid out earlier to avoid controversy (but never cut connections), while more of Manafort's ties to Russian mafia/power brokers became public. Judge found this week Manafort's release from home confinement denied as risky. But that quickly led to a slew of other revelations.

    Remember, Trump himself notes he hires all the smart people, the rich people. What you're smelling is the stench of burning braincells and crime cells - ain't it grand?

    First, Papadoc was representing the Trump campaign hard abroad, hardly a "coffee boy", may have even met Putin in his trip to Greece, plus hanging out in Israel & Moscow - then was probably wearing a wire for Mueller, and turned evidence against Sam Clovis, who abruptly withdrew from his unqualified application for agriculture after it was found out in grand jury testimony he approved Papadoc meeting with the Russians (when Trump's group said they didn't).

    Chatterbox Carter Page has been all over news and congressional hearings without a lawyer, providing confused summaries of meetings in Moscow with Russians such as Kislyak, setting himself up for perjury charges.

    So along with last week's proof that Sessions had perjured himself and that Trump's NatSec team had met at least *2 times* more than pretended (with JD Gordon providing some background on their privy discussions that seems to contradict statements to date), Lindsey Graham now says time for Sessions to testify again - though the internetz all realized Sessions still shouldn't be removed or gives Trump a chance to hire someone to fire Rosenstein & Mueller.

    Bob Mercer, GOP- & Cambridge Analytica-funder extraordinaire suddenly gave up all his toys and went home, presumably to spend more time with his family (or lawyer, depending, as he may be considered a foreign agent and abetting stolen data at this point, now that his CEO/donor daughter Rebekah was found to have asked her group to better organize Hllary's hacked/stolen emails - oops).

    The Flynns are both on the chopping block, and you might wonder why still, what with the other indictments this week and MIke Flynn's obvious charges coming for lies, FARA activity with both Turkey & Russia, et al - except to remember that 1 year ago Elijah Cummings sent a note to then transition director/now VP Pence warning him that Flynn was dirty, and rather than pushing him under the bus, Pence helped give him the most cherished security position where he could collude more with Russia. Fancy where that leads.

    Except Wilbur Ross went from suspected Bank of Cyprus shill for Russians/Deutsche Bank money launderer to Secretary of Commerce, now finally revealed to be doing business with Putin's son-in-law.  Not that this should have come as a surprise to a functioning mainstream media, as Adam Khan noted 10 months ago working from obvious stories and press releases, such as Deutsche Bank's record conviction for its part in $10 billion in money laundering, or this story of Florida types like Trump's clientele paying 2-3x value for $100 million worth of real estate through small shell companies for some reason.

    ANd now poor Jared's caught cozying up for millions with his Russian financier who's been investing into Twitter and Facebook (look at the graphic of the money trail), fancy that. And just forgot to mention this on his security forms, oops! And of course Twitter & Facebook getting money from Russian state institutions don't look so grand either.

    But the biggest news of the week was by far the release of the Paradise Papers, 1.4 Terabytes of secrets on which rich fat cat owns what abroad in dodgy tax havens and how the system works. For our purposes here, this will make the work of Bob Mueller and (remember: no pardons stateside) Eric Schneidermann much easier.

    Marcy Wheeler helpfully summarizes Mueller's team of 16 (and notes they're not all waiting for Unka Bob to do their jobs - there really are parallel activities): 

    1. Mob specialists: Andrew Weissman and [Lisa Page - since departed] are mob prosecutors.
    2. Fraud specialists: Weissman and Rush Atkinson are also fraud prosecutors.
    3. Corporate crime specialists: Weissman also led the Enron Task force. One of Dreeben’s key SCOTUS wins pertained to corporate crime. Jeannie Rhee has also worked on white collar defense. [Kyle Freeny, who was the last attorney to join the team, is a money laundering expert.]
    4. Public corruption specialists: Mueller hired someone with Watergate experience, James Quarles. And Andrew Goldstein got good press in SDNY for prosecuting corrupt politicians (even if Sheldon Silver’s prosecution has since been overturned).
    5. International experts: Zainab Ahmad, who worked terrorism cases in EDNY, which has some of the most expansive precedents for charging foreigners flown into JFK (including Russia’s darling Viktor Bout), knows how to bring foreigners to the US and successfully prosecute them in this country. Aaron Zelinsky has also worked in international law. Elizabeth Prelogar did a Fulbright in Russia and reportedly speaks it fluently. And, as noted, [Greg] Andres has worked on foreign bribery
    6. Cyber and spying lawyers: Brandon Van Grack is the guy who had been leading the investigation into Mike Flynn; he’s got a range of National Security experience. Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s former chief of staff at FBI, also has that kind of NSD experience.
    7. Appellate specialists: With Michael Dreeben, Mueller already has someone on the team who can win any appellate challenges; Adam Jed and Elizabeth Prelogar are also appellate specialists. Mueller’s hires also include former clerks for a number of SCOTUS justices, which always helps out if things get that far.
    8. [plus Brandon Van Grack - focused on Flynn]

    ETA - Mueller even reaching out to Trump's old bodyguard to verify Pee-Pee Gate from back in Moscow 2013 - a very thorough review.

    EETA - 

    NRA met Russian sanctions target last year before unleashing $30 million to elect Trump

    Saudi Prince hung out til 4 a.m. with Jared, our entroubled prince, just before unleashing huge purge. (did Jared get that billion dollar loan/investment to bail his sorry ass out?)

    Wilbur Ross left $2 billion off his disclosures - a new record. Until tomorrow or next week when the next one shows up...

    Tillerson headed Bahamas-based US-Russian oil company. Not that *his* Russian ties were in any doubt.

    Josh notes that evidence papers on Papadoc stop short the day that Wikileaks leaked - i.e., stay tuned, kiddies, much more to come, stormy seas ahead

    Blatnikov, Mnuchin reminder of Russian connection to Treasury Secretary from a few months ago.

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke finds himself embroiled in yet another awful incompetent sole-source conecession for Puerto Rico worth hundreds of millions - to unqualified companies he knows with only a handful of employees and no track record of anything close to that size.

    Russian lawyer from Trump Tower meeting has more fun at Don Jr's expense. Is she serious? Who knows.

    Fresh Prince of Trumpheir Jared turns over docs to investigation - daddykins apparently not pleased.

    Russian sneaky backchannel in Budapest, bringing in the name Gorka.

    Another casualty on the Putin death watch, in Athens this time - these ambassadors and journalists and other acquaintances just keep on falling down and can't get up - under suspicious circumstances

    Don't forget about China's influence as well...

    Marcy thinks Manafort might challenge the case as no jurisdiction for Mueller to go after earlier info.


    Music won't stop playing - see updates at bottom of post. I'm afraid this would be a full-time job at this stage. Newsfeeds: AP, Reuters, TrumpScandal24x7

    No Russians in Paradise Papers? Data might be true (not guaranteed yet), but like releasing only 1 campaign's emails, gives a distorted picture and heavy advantage. And like with last week's drop - be careful, very careful about jumping in with both feet.

    I just gravitated to this one right away NRA met Russian sanctions target last year before unleashing $30 million to elect Trump ,.amazing, proof of how this "fiddling with elections" thing can't really be "solved". It's not going to stop, there is always going to be a way for special interest tribes/lobbies worldwide around any rules you make. That is why you are being ensnared in a huge spiderweb of links. The noise of it all is deafening.

    Can't see any solution except from the voter side of things: George Bush was right: edjumication is fundamental, is our children learnin', they've got to be able to separate those who are spinning from those trying to decode the spin.

    Everyone who wants to be their own Kellyanne Conway are the ones that need real shaming?

    Well, that's my interest in Kahnemann and Nate Silver's Bayesian thinking - yes, overall the populace needs to start thinking more analytically and more probabilistically and probably some others as well. We act like we're deciding rationally, but look at how Democrats went off to chase Donna Brazile's moonbeams last week - we're suckers for the next scam that comes along. This state of affairs shouldn't continue to such a dismal extent. No, we won't be all logicians in a week, but we can do quite a bit better.

    "Sarah Palin can see Russia from Trump's doorstep" - modified from the comments section. 

    Must be accounting day - WaPo lines up the unusual suspects

    But still, ignoring the Chinese influence too much still.

    Seth-splains Carter Page redux

    Can prez claim exec priv on non-approved appointees? Since not officially gov, can Mueller jump straight to indictments w/o all the niceities?

    Meanwhile Adam Khan stays focused on Jared's seemingly good luck, all those billions in loans and investments for his bankrupted, cash-guzzling buildings and businesses. Good thing they didn't want anything from him, right? Because a guy heavily in debt making deals with Saudi Arabia, Israel, China and Russia could be a major detriment, no?

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