Monday, January 21, 2019

Triad of Biggest Liars in American History: Take Pride in That Greatest Label Mr. President

Rudy The Mouth — Donald The Honcho and 
Michael The Fixer

Astonishing news from Giuliani on January 20 edition of “Meet the Press.” 

He was an early guest questioned by MTP Host, Chuck Todd.

Key Substance: Giuliani said that plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow may have continued until at least the 2016 presidential election — months later than previously acknowledged.

Giuliani said that Trump recalls discussing the project with his former lawyer Michael Cohen until late 2016. He said Trump doesn’t remember the exact dates or sequence of these conversations but that they didn’t go anywhere.

The question of how long negotiations regarding the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow went on has become one of the central issues in the Russia investigation, because Cohen originally told Congress he had stopped work on the project in January 2016, long before the November presidential elections. 

In May 2018, Yahoo News revealed that, in fact, those negotiations had gone on months longer than that. Then in November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about how long he was involved in the proposed Moscow Tower project.

Now Giuliani is saying those talks lasted roughly until Trump was elected president saying in part:It’s our understanding that they went on throughout 2016. There weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can’t be sure of the exact dates, but the president can remember having conversations with him about it.”

Throughout 2016?” the show’s host, Chuck Todd, asked.

Giuliani responded:Yeah, probably could be up to as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election. So anytime during that period, they could’ve talked about it. But the president’s recollection of it is that the thing had petered out quite a bit.”

BuzzFeed News published a now contentious story claiming that Trump ordered Cohen to lie about the negotiations on January 17.

Then that next day, Mueller’s office issued a rare public statement on Friday night disputing the BuzzFeed News story from Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office saying:

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”

Giuliani affirmed that he had to answer questions about the Trump Tower negotiations in written form to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the head of the special counsel probe into Russia’s propaganda campaign.

According to Giuliani, Trump remembers a few conversations and the letter of intent for the real estate project that he signed October 28, 2015 — but not much else adding:They sent a letter of intent in. They didn’t even know where to send it. They knew so little about it. They finally got it straightened out, and then they abandoned the project.”

Giuliani, who campaigned for Trump, said:That’s about as much as the president can remember because throughout 2015 and 2016, all of his energy was directed toward his bid for the White House. And I know that. I was with him for about five months. His concentration was 100 percent on running for president.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, appeared on “Meet the Press” right after Giuliani, said:The revelation that conversations could have continued into November is news to me.” 

Warner concluded:That is big news. Why, two years after the fact, are we just learning this fact now when there’s been this much inquiry?”

My 2 cents: This story just keeps getting juicier by the day.

My earlier related posts – same subject: Here, here, and here.

Thanks for stopping by.



Saturday, January 19, 2019

BuzzFeed's Story (Not Correction Per Se): S/C Mueller Disputes Description of Some Elements

Trump-Cohen Head-to-Head & Miles Apart Re: Lies
(Facts-R-Facts Regardless of Who Holds 
the Proof & Evidence)

Stunning Update (after below post was published) with this headline from the Boston Globe with Washington Post input:

“Robert Mueller’s office did not know extent of BuzzFeed’s allegations” 

All of the following is related to the BuzzFeed story now disputed at least in part by the Mueller team: Take your pick from these Top stories re: Trump's plan and scheme to build Moscow Trump Tower:




Mueller’s office official one-sentence statement

Related story from USA Today:

WASHINGTON – Members of Trump's campaign and transition team had more than 100 contacts with Russian-linked officials, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress (CAP) think tank and its Moscow Project.

They used publicly available court documents and reporting to tally up the number of contacts with Russian-linked officials, which includes those with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and others tied to Russian intelligence, banks, and politicians. 

The organizations counted each meeting and message as a separate contact.


=================================================
Today’s post starts here:

WASHINGTON — A business associate of Donald J. Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of Russia and Vladimir Putin that would help Trump win the presidency (see Sater E-mail extract below). That associate of Trump, *Felix Sater (see below), wrote a series of E-mails to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Putin.

Sater predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Trump’s savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy.

A key portion of Sater’s E-mail to Michael Cohen
(November 3, 2015)

This one shows that from the earliest months of Trump’s 2016 campaign that some of his associates viewed close ties with Moscow as a political advantage. It’s those ties that are now under investigation by the DOJ, Mueller, and multiple congressional committees.

My 2 cents: So, who is *Felix Sater, really? 

Some interesting background on him and Trump here from The Nation, September 8, 2017, in part:

Every time someone asks Donald Trump if he knows Felix Sater, his Russian-born, Brooklyn-bred former business associate, Trump draws a blank.

Despite the fact that Sater worked on and off for a decade with the Trump Organization, and despite his recent headline-making appearance as an exuberant negotiator on behalf of Trump’s hard-nosed attorney, Michael Cohen, in seeking to build a “massive Trump Tower in Moscow” last year, Trump ducks.

FYI: Trump in a deposition involving Sater in 2013 said: I mean, I’ve seen him a couple of times; I have met him. If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

The New York Times reported Trump saying as late as 2015, when asked about Sater, as he hemmed and hawed: “Boy, I have to even think about it.”

On that last possibility: It’s no wonder that Trump, especially now that he’s under investigation over his ties to Russia and its meddling in the 2016 election, would respond to questions about Sater by saying: “Sater, who’s he?” (sic)

This Felix Sater, Mr. Trump. “The mob-linked operator and ex-con” – yeah that Felix Sater, Mr. Trump – that’s who…!!!

My final thoughts: Journalists/reporters/editors/authors all have a special and unique way of writing (their style) about their stories, news, articles, and such. 

Likewise, investigators (e.g., law enforcement officials (FBI, CIA, et al), prosecutors, and special or independent counsels) have a certain style, too for their final official reports. 

Therein might lie one part the dispute about certain descriptions being inaccurate as reported on by BuzzFeed about Cohen and the Mueller report, etc., but I can't be sure. However, one way or the other we will know soon I am sure of that part of this story. 

So, stay tuned – the next chapter is still in draft form.

Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Overused word “Bombshell” Report: It Certainly Applies Now More Than Ever With Trump

Impeachment History:Johnson (1868) to Clinton (1998) 
130-year gap

White House and Trump's Swamp

Impeachment looms now more than ever some say based on this latest report from Buzz Feed (re: “Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about his Moscow Trump Tower deal.”)

Introduction:

President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow (according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter).


Architectural rendering of the Moscow Trump Tower
(Provided to BuzzFeed)

Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.

As Trump was telling the public that he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his two children Ivanka Trump-Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
POST UPDATE ADDED:  Comes from THE TAIL END OF THIS ARTICLE (NY TIMES) and is directly related:

Buzz feed News just published a huge scoop:

If it is true, this is evidence remarkably similar to evidence used to build the impeachment counts against Clinton and Nixon. Both Clinton and Nixon encouraged witnesses to make false statements under oath.” (As conservative writer David French tweeted).

Operating on the assumption that it is more likely true than not, we will probably know more in coming days since major investigative scoops like this are usually matched by other news organizations, doing their own reporting. 

If Buzz feed’s story is corroborated by other publications, believe it. 

If a week passes and it’s not, be skeptical.

That report comes on top of this excellent article (The Atlantic) that lays out the elements for impeachment and removal from office: Case of Donald J. Trump v. The United States of America. (Written by Yoni Appelbaum, who holds an A.B. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University and is Senior Editor for politics at The Atlantic).

Another long but very detailed article is an excellent analysis of Trump to date also published from The Atlantic (October 2017) – 10 months into the Trump presidency.

Key parts follow from my perspective:  Note: We have never had a president so ill-informed about the nature of his office, so openly mendacious, so self-destructive, or so brazen in his abusive attacks on the courts, the press, Congress (including members of his own party), and even senior officials within his own administration.

Trump is a Frankenstein of past presidents’ worst attributes:

·       Andrew Jackson’s rage
·       Millard Fillmore’s bigotry
·       James Buchanan’s incompetence and spite
·       Theodore Roosevelt’s self-aggrandizement
·       Richard Nixon’s paranoia, insecurity, and indifference to law
·       Bill Clinton’s lack of self-control and reflexive dishonesty

Donald Trump is a norm-busting president without parallel in American history.

·       He has told scores of easily disprovable public lies.
·       He has shifted back and forth and back again on his policies, often contradicting Cabinet officials along the way
·       He has attacked the courts, the press, his predecessor, his former electoral opponent, members of his party, the intelligence community, and his own AG.
·       He has failed to release his tax returns or to fill senior political positions in many agencies; he has shown indifference to ethics concerns; and he has regularly interjected a self-regarding political element into apolitical events.
·       He has monetized the presidency by linking it to his personal business interests.
·       He has engaged in cruel public behavior.

The list goes on and on.

Trump’s norm violations are different. Many of them appear to result from his lack of emotional intelligence – that is “a president’s ability to manage his emotions and turn them to constructive purposes, rather than being dominated by them and allowing them to diminish his leadership.” (As Princeton political scientist Fred I. Greenstein put it).

Trump’s behavior seems to flow from hypersensitivity un-tempered by shame, a mercurial and contrarian personality, and a notable lack of self-control.

A corollary to Trump’s shamelessness is that he often doesn’t seek to hide or even spin his norm-breaking.

Put another way, he is far less hypocritical than past presidents — and that is a bad thing. Hypocrisy is an under appreciated political virtue. It can palliate self-interested and politically divisive government action through mollifying rhetoric and a call to shared values.

Trump is bad at it because he can’t “recognize the difference between what one professes in public and what one does in private, much less the utility of exploiting that difference.” (As Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore noted in Foreign Affairs).

He is incapable of keeping his crass thoughts to himself, or of cloaking his speech in other-regarding principle.

My 2 cents: The stories above say things much better than I can – they are worth your time to read and do further research.

This is very critical time in our nation’s distinguished history to say the least.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Trump and His GOP Minions: The Look of Lust or Shock & Awe Now Worse Than Ever

Read those GOP expressions and tell me I'm wrong
(Betcha can't)

From the story here (Reuters): Trump says he loves “his acting heads of departments” since it gives him “flexibility” – then he emphasized: “I love acting.”

I have ‘acting.’ And my ‘actings’ are doing really great. David [Bernhardt] is doing great at Interior. Mick Mulvaney is doing great as [White House] chief of staff. But I sort of like ‘acting.’ It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that? I like ‘acting,’ so we have a few that are acting. If you look at my Cabinet, we have a fantastic Cabinet. Really good.” (Trump speaking to reporters)

Trump initially designated 24 positions in his administration as Cabinet-level jobs.

A half-dozen are being occupied by individuals on an acting basis.

1.    Mick Mulvaney as acting CofS.
2.    Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, as acting Defense secretary.
3.    David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas industry lobbyist, as Secretary of the Interior Department.
4.    Andrew Wheeler as acting EPA chief,
5.    Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney who has criticized the special counsel probe, as the acting AG.
6.    Jonathan Cohen as acting UN Ambassador.

My 2 cents: Trump loves the spotlight center stage with no props or assistants or scripts – he is a free-wheeler who expects applause, cheers, constant praise, and 24/7 absolute loyalty.


GOP Senate Leader Mitch Strangelove McConnell
(With Trump to the bitter end)

FYI: “Acting” as in actors in Hollywood means “to pretend” to be someone you are not – in short: “role playing.” So, is Trump pretending to be president? Self-evident isn’t it? 

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

HEADLINES: VA Seeks to Redirect Billions into Private Care — Koch Brothers Happy Dance

Trump fired *VA Sec. Shulkin (on March 28, 2018
over VA Budget & VA care issue

* F/N to Shulkin’s firing:  Following his dismissal in March 2018, Shulkin highlighted the political pressure from the Trump White House to dismantle VA healthcare and send veterans to the private sector. 

In a New York Times editorial, Shulkin warned that “privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.”

Shulkin's removal from the head of VA has renewed concerns among veterans that the Trump administration will privatize VA healthcare.

Main post follows:

Following post based on the main NY Times article and posted locally in the Watertown (NY) Daily Times – my local paper, BTW.

Below are my comments in the WDT forum section – FYI:

A critically important and serious problem with only a few good options and untested solutions that impact our most-deserving citizens: Our Vets (and yes I am one).

Depending on numerous factors for each Vet (e.g., their age, their illness, income, their former military status (e.g., if retired with pay, age, with or without military care (Tricare) and Medicare, or both), their residence and whether or not they live near or reasonably close to a VA clinic or hospital, doctors in their immediate area available to treat them, or even if those doctors accept Tricare-Medicare or any other government lower rate plans, etc. That all factors in.

Based on the article is seems to always boil down to money as the easy (or not) solution to this lingering VA/Vet-care problem. Then to see the billionaire Koch brothers involved with their “private care Vet-care angle with few details,” really concerns me.

Taken in sum, most Vets are content with the VA and care they get.

I'm lucky as many like me are: I am military retired under both Tricare and age-related Medicare. I can get good treatment nearly and all paid for via both those benefits, and with very little traveling away from home. Others are in remote areas and not so lucky and may have different circumstances, too – therein lies the heart of their Vet care problems.

That is a concern and focus for us all. I don’t think we need a widespread loss of VA facilities – improvements and private care supplement depending on each individual’s circumstances, but not wholesale tossing aside the VA on a whim of businessmen looking to pad their bottom line.

So, we shall see what unfolds, but my gut says the Trump administration will not solve any aspects of this problem ... my hunch.

Speaking of “fold / or unfold” Trump’s crossed arms pose above has one of two meanings. When someone crosses their arms, it usually means:

(1) They're closed for arguments. By crossing the arms, a barrier is put in front of the body, as some sort of protection. Putting an object in front of you may be the same signal.

(2) Or, crossing their arms may mean they are feeling vulnerable or insecure.

Finally: “Lest we forget” this pledge – the foundation of the VA:


Thanks for stopping by.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Trump: “I'm the Best Dealmaker, Negotiator, and Smartest Man in History – Believe Me,” Etc., Etc.

From a man who knows the real Donald J. Trump
(And, he is 100% spot on)

This article (Huffington Post) caught my attention and helped generate the post that follows. Very enlightening to say the least.

From the Washington Post with this headline: “Donald Trump says he’s a great negotiator. But on the shutdown, he’s struggling.”

Trump is the greatest deal maker. Believe him, he always says. For example, he promised voters he would bring congressional leaders together to make deals. Then the government shut down three times. 

Donald Trump ran for president on the premise that the United States needed a leader adept at wheeling and dealing. Who better to straighten out dysfunctional Washington than the man who wrote (or, more 
accurately paid to have someone ghostwrite) his book: “The Art of the Deal.”

Trump introduced himself at the second GOP presidential primary debate this way: “I wrote The Art of the Deal. I say not in a braggadocios way, I’ve made billions and billions of dollars dealing with people all over the world, and I want to put whatever that talent is to work for this country.”

On the campaign trail, Trump said his superior negotiating skills would allow him to quickly build a concrete wall along the southern border, funded by Mexico. No problem he promised.

Reality hits home: That wall made for a great campaign chant. But getting it done has been much more complicated. So complicated, in fact that he shut down a quarter of the federal government. He says he’ll leave 800,000 workers without paychecks until Congress agrees to appropriate money from U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico, for the wall’s construction.

It’s a great example of where the Trump facade begins to fall apart. He’s great at bluster and big promises. He can rile people up. But when that’s not enough, he can’t get things done. 

He promised a grand health-care plan. Obamacare is still the law of the land.

He said he could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He couldn’t.

He declared North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat. It still is.

Washington Post reporters David Nakamura and Seung-Min Kim 
describe things this way: Trump’s approach is a hallmark of a president who eschews strategic planning and preparation in favor of day-to-day tactical maneuvering and trusting his gut. But as he digs in against an emboldened Democratic opposition, Trump has found that his go-to arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats, and theatrics has laid bare his shortcomings as a negotiator — preventing him from finding a way out of what may be the biggest political crisis of his presidency.

Cite the wall debacle: Trump argues the Democrats are not negotiating in good faith. But the president has had many, many opportunities over the last two years to make a deal with Congress. Instead, he keeps moving the goal post, shifting positions and trying to satisfy his base.

Let’s run through what happened:

In September 2017, Democrats suggested $25 billion for the wall. In exchange, they would get a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. Trump signaled he would sign on, until his far-right base of supporters told him to hold out. Ultimately, he said, “no.”

Then, Republicans lost the House in the midterm elections. Trump’s bargaining position weakened. Faced with a pending government shutdown, Democrats offered Trump $1.6 billion for border security in exchange for funding the government. Again, he said, “no.”

In a meeting with Democratic leaders — one he chose to televise — he willingly accepted responsibility for the shutdown. Just before the winter holidays, Republicans in the Senate gave him a chance to save face by passing legislation to keep the government running through February 8 to buy the White House and Democrats time to keep negotiating without the stress of a shutdown. Pressured again by his far-right flank, he again said, “no.”

Since then, Democrats have said there’s no longer any money on the table for a wall. They have suggested opening up the shuttered agencies unrelated to national security and then having a separate debate about the Homeland Security budget. Again, Trump said, “no.”

At this point, it’s hard to imagine Democrats will give in. Congressional Republicans are beginning to get antsy. Trump could have had $25 billion for his wall. Now, it’s doubtful that he’ll have even a portion of that. The irony, of course, is that any of the above offers would have gotten him a lot closer to his ultimate goal than he is today when the only option he seems to have left is to just blow it all up by declaring a national emergency.

Summary just as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Post reporter Paul Kane on Capitol Hill: “Trump’s version of a negotiation is to do everything he wants.”

My 2 cents: Not much to add to this super rundown on the “Greatest negotiator in the world of all time,” right?  Simply just believe him, right?

More later I am sure. 

Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Manafort’s Lawyers Screwed Up: They Confirm He Lied & Colluded With Russia for Trump

How apropos that sign is based on the following story


First this short reminder from the Washington Post
(Trump collusion denials)

Super big news today (from Rolling Stone and other sources as well) and now Paul Manafort's lawyers are on Trump's shit list at this turns the heat up full bore.

Highlights:

Lawyers for Manafort, who is already convicted of tax and bank fraud last year, submitted a filing in Washington, DC federal court that responded to Robert Mueller’s assertion that Manafort had lied to Mueller’s office and thus violated his plea agreement. 

The lawyers pushed back on that claim saying that Manafort had extensively cooperated with Mueller meeting with the government lawyers and investigators a dozen times and twice testifying before a grand jury. 

But then Manafort’s team screwed up.

They tried to redact four different passages in their filing, but failed to do so properly, leaving the redacted text in plain sight.

One improperly redacted text says that Manafort allegedly misled Mueller about meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik during the 2016 presidential campaign and discussing a “Ukraine peace plan with Kilimnik on more than one occasion.” 

NOTEWORTHY: Kilimnik has connections to Russian intelligence.

A second improperly redacted section revealed that Mueller said that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign.”

A third improper redaction detailed rebuttals from Manafort’s lawyers about two other alleged instances of Manafort misleading statements including about him allegedly contacting Trump in May 2018.

The whole story at the Rolling Stone link.

My 2 cents and the B/L from that piece: It hasn’t been a good day for the “NO COLLUSION!” contingent led by President Trump himself.

I suspect that that the Trump team pucker factor just went up by a factor of ten. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

T-4 Policy (Trump's Terrible Trade Tariffs): Out of Control and Only Trump Loyalists Content

Who's happy, content, & brain dead: Trump Loyalists — 
No One Else

Straight shooting Trump, right? Duck!!! What Duck???


Now this update: GOPers and now Trump are angry (24/7) that Mr. Obama bailed out American car makers (that Geo. W. Bush initiated). 

GOPers keep blaming Obama for the 2007-2007 near total economic meltdown. That is false – policy at the very critical time was all under Bush, yet Obama still gets blamed. And, now this update on Trump’s farm bailout.

Trump gets a pass on his harsh trade/tariff policy impacting many Americans including farmers who export a lot of food ... yet offers a $12 billion bailout payment plan to offset the pain of his tariff policy. 

So, what word comes to mind to describe this disconnect.

Well, how about GOP: H Y P O C R I C Y

Details for this update can be seen here >>> 


General Background Statement: Tariffs are a tax imposed by a government on goods and services imported.

Tariffs increase the price of the goods imported and thus make them less desirable to buy, and less competitive vis-à-vis domestic produced goods and products.

Because of this, domestic producers are not forced to reduce their prices from increased competition, and domestic consumers are left paying higher prices as a result. That in turn decreases pressure on domestic producers to lower their prices. 

So, in two ways consumers lose because prices are higher and they lose as domestic producers gain by the imposed tariff. Tariffs are used to restrict trade, as they increase the price of imported goods and services, making them more expensive to consumers. 

They are one of several tools available to shape trade policy. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the Federal agency, part DHS that is charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting customs (import duties or tariffs approved by Congress), and then to enforce trade regulations.

Related Recent Top Stories:




Plus this historical snap of trade tariffs from a man who know economics, Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, in this fine article in the NY TIMES.

Other stories related to the impact of this “T-4 Policy: Trump’s Terrible Trade Tariffs”


Thanks for stopping by.