Trump's Personal Attorney Delivers "Peace for No Sanctions" Proposal

More from Boris and Natasha? - promoted by hesterprynne

What the f-ck are you doing? You’re hanging around my f-ckin’ neck like a vulture, like impending danger.

-Goodfellas

Hours ago, the New York Times dropped a bombshell.

“A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.”

The timing, as the lede suggests, is important, but the proposal’s authors, a group of Trump operatives, are more interesting:

Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen hand-delivered the proposal. Former campaign manager Paul Manafort, pro-Putin, Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andrii V. Artemenko, and convicted Russian American mobster Felix Sater authored it. You’re going to hear a lot about these guys in the next few weeks, though Felix Sater is perhaps the most colorful of the four.

The son of an underboss to the “boss of all bosses” of the Russian mafia, Felix Sater has a past that would make his father proud:

  • In 1993, Felix served a year in prison for stabbing a New York commodities broker in the face with part of a margarita glass.
  • In 1998, Felix pled guilty to running a pump-and-dump stock* scheme for his employer White Rock Partners. He was able to buy himself out of jail time by providing useful information to the FBI and CIA.
  • More recently, Felix has been charged with tax evasion. He ran the Bayrock Group with another son of a mobster, doing high-end real estate deals, skimming money from the business, not paying taxes, and trying to cover it up. Interestingly, DONALD TRUMP, JR. and IVANKA TRUMP have been named as material witnesses in the case.

Trump’s denials to the contrary, Felix Sater seems to have grown into the Trump organization like a tumor. Sater and Bayrock’s involvement began with Trump Soho, perhaps the key project ”in the post-bankruptcy era in which Trump appeared heavily reliant on Russian funds to finance his projects. Sater was at the center of that project. The details only came to light after the project got bogged down in a complicated series of lawsuits.”

It was in these lawsuits that Trump denied knowing Sater. However, as Josh Marshall writes,

now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen–who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters–is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.

In Russia, and apparently in Trump’s business dealings and presidential administration, it’s not easy to separate the businessmen from the criminals. And it’s not hard to believe that Trump and/or more people close to him are actively involved in a shady push to lift sanctions on Russia.  As John Schindler, a former intelltigence operative who (ironically) writes for Jared Kushner’s father’s paper, has written about Flynn’s now infamous contacts with Russia on sanctions:

it’s difficult to see how Flynn decided to parley with Moscow without a go-ahead of some kind from Donald Trump. We don’t know this to be the case and cannot allege or even speculate that this occurred. But while Flynn is unquestionably a loose cannon, as a career military man he understands the chain of command with perfect clarity. Moreover, accepting that the soon-to-be National Security Advisor opened up back-channels of communication with the Kremlin all by himself is as credible as the notion that the Plumbers decided to break into the Watergate without orders from higher up.

The plot thickens. The motives on the Russian side are clear. We still don’t know why Trump favors Vladimir Putin or lifting sanctions. He’s been trying to do business in Russia since 1986. He likes authoritarians. He likes money. He has poor impulse control.

*  A pump-and-dump stock scheme starts with purchasing a bunch of inexpensive stock on the sly, and then selling stocks quickly and fraudulently to drive up the stock price. When the price gets high enough, the criminals sell their stock at the inflated price. The stock eventually crashes and stock buyers lose their money). 

 

 

 

 

WSJ: Climate-blind, soft-pedaling the predatory Pruitt

The Wall Street Journal is always chockfull of ironies and surprises. Just recently the WSJ’s Bret Stephens delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA, a fiercely eloquent, well-received broadside pushing back against Trump’s attack on reality. Applause! 

One wishes that Mr. Stephens had applied this independence of thought and intellectual integrity to the subject of climate. No: Stephens is a fierce and retrograde climate denier, one of the worst of the ostrich crowd. As he once told Bill Maher, “consensus should not rule science.” Ah. So we should base extremely-high-stakes public policy on fringe opinions, then?

Then there was Kimberly Strassel’s interview with Scott Pruitt (paywall, I read it so you don’t have to), in which she laughably claims that he’s just gonna play it straight down the middle, yessir:

Republican presidents tend to nominate one of two types of administrator to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. The first is the centrist—think Christie Todd Whitman (2001-03)—who might be equally at home in a Democratic administration. The other is the fierce conservative—think Anne Gorsuch (1981-83)—who views the agency in a hostile light.

Scott Pruitt, whom the Senate confirmed Friday, 52-46, doesn’t fit either mold. His focus is neither expanding nor reducing regulation.

Except for killing the Clean Power Plan, one of our last and best hopes for averting an utter climate catastrophe in mere decades — if it takes that long.

Pruitt claims he won’t “prejudge the question” as to whether the EPA will regulate carbon dioxide:

,,, Does EPA even possess the tools, under the Clean Air Act, to address this? It’s a fair question to ask if we do, or whether there in fact needs to be a congressional response to the climate issue.

You may remember Massachusetts vs. EPA, the 2007 case that confirmed that yes indeed, Congress did require the EPA to address CO2. There is no mention of Massachusetts vs. EPA in the entire interview. Huh. Expect more lawsuits as he tries to ignore this hard-fought requirement.

He also promises an anti-intellectual chill, an ideological attack on EPA’s science. In doing so, he essentially uses the Trumpian intellectual black hole “A lot of people believe/don’t believe XYZ”:

… Mr. Pruitt plans to overhaul the agency’s procedure for producing scientific studies and cost-benefit analyses. “The citizens just don’t trust that EPA is honest with these numbers,” he says. “Let’s get real, objective data, not just do modeling. Let’s vigorously publish and peer-review science. Let’s do honest cost-benefit work. We need to restore the trust.”

That is some fancy word salad, loaded with innuendo. Whose trust? Who are you talking about? Dare you talk about “the citizens”, who overwhelmingly support regulations for clean air, clean water, clean energy, and climate action?

No. As we protested at Copley yesterday — Objective Reality Exists.

“Restoring trust” to Pruitt means handing over the agency to the interests of those that have paid for his career advancement. Just look at the names on this press release, menacingly entitled Job Creators, American Energy Producers, Farmers and Elected Officials Cheer Scott Pruitt’s Ascension to EPA Administrator — industry hacks and politicians, from fossil fuels to the pig-shit industry; not a single individual who has actually done environmental protection. And some of us thought that was the agency’s job.

It comes straight from the top: The Trump administration’s incessant lying, about matters large and small, is a slap in the face to every person who is honest, diligent, checks their facts, and tries to do a good and thorough job. That includes the professionals at the EPA who have dedicated their careers to protecting the public from environmental pollution and degradation. And in 46 years, they have been wildly, overwhelmingly successful at it, saving countless lives and trillions of dollars – so much so that doubtless we take their success for granted.

If there’s a silver lining — there isn’t really — it’s that Strassel and Pruitt still have to pay lip service to the critical role the EPA plays. But they make pretty damned clear that this is to be an anti-scientific, industry-captured agency, to be rearranged for the purpose of privatized-gain and socialized loss. We drink coal — they make money.

I beg a favor: If you show up to your representative’s town hall — buttonhole them on climate, as well as health care and refugees and treason and the lot. It’s a problem of long-term consequences that require immediate action.

And Mr. Pruitt — We’ll see you in court.

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Thinking Beyond Resistance

I'm not sure whether the goal should be "converts" or, rather, energizing non-voters who are basically with us already. My instinct - and that's all it is at this point - is that an energized, organized resistance will help drive a respectable number of people to the polls who didn't show up in 2016. Enough? Dunno. But the presidency was decided by a hair. Congressional elections are a bigger question, IMHO. - promoted by david

The resistance is important since it stops unlawful and immoral actions before they can become law. It also keeps the opposition organized and focused. But is it converting enough supporters of Trump into opponents to make an impact? The reality is, it’s critical for the resistance to win converts without compromising its values. I am not sure how we do this, but asking ‘how?’ is a discussion we aren’t having that we probably should.

UPDATED: Heather McGhee over at the American Prospect asks the same question.

Trump purge of critics begins

promoted by david

Trump’s billionaire Wall Street flak, Stephen Feinberg, is going to be his personal emissary to purge all critics from the intelligence community.

Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, is investigating media whistleblowers on Trump corruption, NOT Trump’s Russiangate.

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia

Can Someone Tell Me Why We Should Care About Evan Falchuk? I Don't Get It

Have at it. - promoted by david

Seriously,

the guy’s a self-promoter.

IMHO

I’m open to opposing opinions.

a candidate cannot be on the ballot for President of the United States in Massachusets if our legislature passes SD 98 unless they comply and disclose their FULL certified and complete tax return -

I have doubts about the constitutionality of this proposal, but it's an interesting thing to talk about. - promoted by david

Who filed it? Senator Mike Barrett – way to go, Mike.

Who co-sponsored it? [If your rep or senator did – call and say thank you and that you hope is passes; if they didn’t, ask if they will vote for it and that you support it. If they say no – ask them why not! With this many sponsors, and NOT requiring funding – I will be shocked and disappointed if this does not pass – but yes, lots of phone calls do help.

Here is the online link to the legislation so you can download it, and confirm its contents if you wish: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/SD98

Here is the link to find their phone numbers; House: https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Members/House
State Senate: https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Members/Senate

Tonight's Inaugural Metrowest Stammtisch **POSTPONED**

Mark your calendars for 2/22 - promoted by hesterprynne

Hi fellowBMGers,

I was planning to host the first Metrowest BMG Stammtisch tonight (at Battle Road Brew House in Maynard), however, the Maynard DTC, of which I am a member, is meeting at the same time – it was postponed from last Thursday due to snow.  I am hoping to reschedule for one week from today – Wed. Feb. 22nd @ 7pm.  I know JohnTMay expressed an interest, so I’d like a show of hands to see who else would be likely to attend next Wednesday.  Thanks!

 

A little good news (for a change)

The White House is withdrawing the nomination of Andy Puzder for Secretary of Labor. His confirmation hearing, delayed four times, was scheduled for tomorrow.

The statement of the National Employment Law Project:

“From the very start of the nomination process, it was clear that fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder was unfit to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. Thanks to fierce opposition from a diverse group of Americans, including people deeply concerned about the treatment of workers and of women, enough senators came to the same realization, forcing Mr. Puzder’s withdrawal from the nomination.

“In nominating Mr. Puzder for labor secretary, President Trump chose for the department that champions workers someone whose views and values are not only antithetical to what workers want and need, but also out of step with mainstream America.

“Americans support raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for overtime pay, ensuring safe and healthy workplaces, extending affordable health care, protecting workers’ retirement savings, safeguarding the right to organize and bargain collectively, and creating good, family-sustaining jobs.

“On all of these issues, Mr. Puzder’s record was the exact opposite of where most Americans stand. His loss of support in the Senate mirrors his lack of support in the public.

“We urge President Trump to listen to the American people, remain mindful of the promises he made to working families during the campaign and in his inaugural address, and nominate a candidate for secretary of labor who will always put workers first and foremost.

“Any less, and the American people will once again say NO to a secretary who doesn’t speak for America’s workers.”

Take the fork in the road

promoted by david

The mid-term elections will soon be upon us, so it will be a good idea to get our house in order, and work though whatever painful but necessary conflicts sooner rather than later.

Of the two ways forward, resumption of incrementalism versus New Deal new brooms, I personally favor the latter. But there is no middle way. We will fall between the cracks if we try to split the difference.

Trump should be impeached...

promoted by david

under Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution:

‘ The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’

An Independent Commission, separate from Congressional investigators, should be established to find out what Trump knew and when he knew it, about Russian corruption of our democracy.

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia

 

Flynn resigns

promoted by david

amid Russian election blackmail corruption.

The question remains :  What did Trump know and when did he know it ?

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia