Facebook lets Trump lie at will

Facebook lets Trump lie at will

Trump and Facebook

Facebook has denied a request from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to remove a false video advertisement posted by President Trump’s campaign. The refusal comes weeks after Facebook changed its policies and decided to allow advertisements pushing misinformation from Trump and other political figures.

According to The New York Times, Biden’s campaign sent a request to Facebook asking the company to remove a Trump campaign advertisement that falsely suggested the vice president had offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid to fire a prosecutor investigating a company tied to his son. On Tuesday, Facebook refused to take the ad down, responding, “Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression” and “respect for the democratic process.”

In September, Facebook changed its policies to no longer prohibit ads that include “deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or methods.” Additionally, Facebook said that “ads from political candidates are ineligible for fact-checking.”

Even before the policy tweak, the Trump campaign had repeatedly posted false and misleading Facebook ads, along with ads using “invasion” rhetoric invoked by white nationalists, even though Facebook’s policies prohibit “violent” or “dehumanizing” attacks against a group of people based on immigration status.

Along with the issue of misinformation proliferating in its ads, the platform continues to struggle with detecting and removing propaganda and other misinformationincluding from foreign actors such as Russia. These current challenges add to Facebook’s history of problems with privacy, fake news, civil rights, and more.




Let’s see the full transcript

Trump said Wednesday that his controversial July call with his Ukrainian counterpart was transcribed “word-for-word, comma-for-comma,” an assertion that fueled growing questions about the nature and completeness of an official memorandum about the call released by the White House last week.

“This is an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, taken by very talented stenographers,” Trump said.

White House officials previously had portrayed the document as not a verbatim transcription but rather a summary that closely tracked the words the Trump used in his July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. They said it was being released in a bid to bring transparency and clarity to a call at the heart of a consuming political scandal that has sparked a House impeachment investigation. But the whistleblower complaint that spurred the investigation described an “official word-for-word transcript” of the call — words closely matching the ones used by Trump on Wednesday — creating uncertainty about what was included in the document the White House released last week and what may have been left out.

Current and former U.S. officials studying the document pointed to several elements that, they say, indicate that the document may have been handled in an unusual way.

Those include the use of ellipses — punctuation indicating that information has been deleted for clarity or other reasons — that traditionally have not appeared in summaries of presidential calls with foreign leaders, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the elaborate, non-public process.

In two of the cases when ellipses were used, they accompanied Trump’s reference to cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which is at the center of a conservative conspiracy theory about a computer server central to the company’s investigation of the Russian hack of Democratic Party computers that, according to those pushing the theory, is hidden away in Ukraine.

The use of ellipses in this passage fueled questions about what may have been removed and why.

The five-page document reports Trump said, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

In the third use of ellipses, Trump was asking Zelensky about a different theory — also sometimes aired in the extreme corners of the Internet and on some conservative news networks — that Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden had, while vice president, demanded the removal of a prosecutor looking to investigate Biden’s son Hunter.

“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me,” according to the call document.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday about the unusual markings or other apparent discrepancies. Shortly after the document’s release last week, a White House official had said that the ellipses did not indicate missing words but referred to “a trailing off of a voice or pause,” and called it standard practice for records of presidential phone calls.

Current and former officials said that would be slightly different from previous practice. They said when presidents simply trail off in a way that note-takers can’t hear, that point traditionally has been marked “[inaudible].” When fragments of sentences aren’t readily understood by note-takers, or when comments repeat a previous thought, they said, the transcripts had often been marked with dashes.

The so-called transcript must be severely edited

Others have noted the brevity of a document purporting to represent a call that lasted 30 minutes. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) had two of his office’s interns read the call summary aloud, measuring its length with a stopwatch app. The time: 10 minutes 40 seconds, or roughly 20 minutes shorter than the White House’s assertion about the call’s length.

“Our motivating question was: How much don’t we know?” King said. “There has to be an inquiry to get to the facts.”

The memorandum of Trump’s call with Zelensky appears remarkably different in speed and content from the full transcripts of calls between  Trump and foreign leaders The Washington Post obtained in 2017.

The transcript of a 24-minute call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in which both the participants spoke English, included roughly 3,200 words, or about 133 words per minute. A 53-minute call with then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, in which both Trump and the Mexican president spoke through interpreters, included roughly 5,500 words, or about 102 words per minute.

The White House summary of Trump’s 30-minute call with Zelensky — which included interpreters because Zelensky spoke Ukrainian while Trump spoke English — includes fewer than 2,000 words or roughly 65 words per minute. That suggests that the rough transcript of the Zelensky call includes about half the number of words that would be expected if the call had proceeded at the same or similar pace as the previous calls.

It was unclear whether the interpretation of the Zelensky call occurred simultaneously as the presidents were speaking or took place after a participant had finished speaking. The latter would have affected the speed of the conversation.

(Neither the Turnbull nor the Peña Nieto transcript included ellipses.)

The record of the presidential call with Zelensky, which is labeled “MEMORANDUM OF TELEPHONE CONVERSATION,” was marked as having been produced by note-takers in the White House Situation Room, as is standard for calls with foreign leaders. The record, however, is unusual for lacking a tracking number that would normally indicate it had been circulated to senior subject experts and the national security adviser’s office for review and edits. Instead of a “package” number, the memo released by the White House carries a stamp saying: “Pkg Number Short.”

The document additionally carries classification markings that Situation Room staffers do not normally add when they create a word-for-word transcript, current and former officials said.

“I thought to myself, ‘This didn’t go through the normal process,’ ” said one former government official who was among several who handled these records and found the document released by the White House curious.

The whistleblower said in his complaint that multiple U.S. officials had alerted him that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lockdown’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

Such phone calls also typically create at least two types of documents: a verbatim transcript made by note-takers in the White House Situation Room and an edited summary that is more widely circulated.

“The one that was released is not the one the Situation Room created,” said one person familiar with the creation of records of calls with foreign leaders who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive process. “That’s just not possible.”

Washington Post

The transcripts are damming, but wait! There’s so much more.

Judging from comments on social media and in op-eds, some consider Trump’s clandestine negotiations with Ukraine the clearest evidence yet of criminal conduct by Trump—despite the fact that he already faces twenty-plus rape or sexual assault allegations, unindicted federal-felony co-conspirator status in the Southern District of New York, ten instances of obstruction of justice proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the Mueller Report, and persistent allegations of fraud by his business conglomerate, the Trump Organization.

In May 2018, the Ukrainian government suddenly stopped cooperating with the Mueller investigation, even though the Ukrainians were in possession of significant evidence inculpating Paul Manafort, the primary target of the Special Counsel’s team at the time and the one man who—according to a January 2018 NBC News report—Trump was privately telling friends could bring him down. According to The New York Times, at the time they cut ties with Mueller, Ukrainian officials were “wary of offending Dictator Trump” and therefore “effectively froze” four domestic criminal investigations centering on Manafort. The Times reports that, in the view of Kiev, Manafort’s pending cases were “just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid,” with Ukrainian officials “keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign.”

But did the Ukrainians make this weighty decision about four internationally significant investigations of crime and corruption on their own, or were they urged to obstruct Mueller’s investigative progress by Trump and his aides, allies, and associates? All the evidence currently available points to the latter.

According to The Washington Post, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani represents, in addition to the American president, clients all around the globe—including a client, the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, whose course of representation by Giuliani has required him to travel to Ukraine regularly. The New York Times affirms that Giuliani is a “lobbyist…for Ukraine” under the terms of his contract with Kharkiv, which began well before Ukraine shut down its several criminal investigations into Trump’s former campaign manager. Giuliani’s contract prohibits him from lobbying for Ukraine within the United States, but pointedly does not prohibit him from lobbying for his longtime friend (and eventual client) Donald Trump in Ukraine, causing critics of the administration to see in Giuliani’s behavior “a pattern…of providing influence [abroad] with the Trump administration.” The Times notes that Giuliani admits to lobbying the then-Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, in 2018; it was Poroshenko who made the controversial decision to let Manafort off the hook.

While no one yet knows all the content of the “hours” Giuliani spent lobbying Poroshenko, the Daily Beast reported in March 2018 that the appearance of a Trump-Poroshenko quid pro quo over Manafort was unmistakable: “The Trump administration is sending Ukraine some arms to fight pro-Russian forces,” the media outlet reported at the time, “and Kiev acts like the price is an end to its own investigations into Trump campaign advisers.” Perhaps not coincidentally, the allegation by the Daily Beast in spring 2018 is identical to the allegation Trump and Ukraine’s new president now face: a quid pro quo in which Trump trades U.S. military aid for Kiev making the decisions he favors in ongoing Ukrainian corruption investigations.

Andrew Kramer of The New York Times has been even bolder than the Daily Beast, alleging, as summarized by Tablet, “a direct causal link between the final sale [to Kiev] of the [Javelin] missiles [in December 2017] and Ukrainian legal action in relation to Paul Manafort,” contending that the quid pro quo had been “brokered at the presidential level” in a “transparent political deal” that “releas[ed] the prized missiles in exchange for Ukraine dropping pursuit of Manafort in the numerous cases opened against him.”

While the Mueller Report never addressed any of these allegations, it did establish that Manafort believed, just weeks after the Trump-Ukraine deal, that Trump was going to bring an end to all his legal problems. In January 2018, the Report records, “Manafort told [indicted Trump deputy campaign manager Rick] Gates that he had talked to the Dictator’s personal counsel and they were ‘going to take care of us.’ Manafort told Gates it was stupid to plead [guilty in federal court], saying that he had been in touch with the Dictator’s personal counsel and repeating that they should ‘sit tight’ and ‘we’ll be taken care of’.” (Vol. 2, page 123). This was the same month Trump, per NBC News, was telling friends in private phone calls that Manafort “flipping” on him would be devastating—an anxiety that seems to suggest Trump and Manafort had jointly been involved in activities Trump needed to remain hidden.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was also told, according to the Mueller Report, that Trump would protect him—with the language of that incident (“flipping” and “being taken care of”) being identical to the January 2018 course of presidential obstruction of justice involving Manafort. Per the Report, “After the FBI searched Cohen’s home and office in April 2018, the Dictator publicly asserted that Cohen would not ‘flip,’ contacted him directly to tell him to stay strong”—words identical to those Trump had used with Michael Flynn in an April 2017 phone call, while Flynn was under federal investigation—and “privately passed messages of support to him. Cohen also discussed pardons with the dictator’s personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message he would be taken care of” (Vol. 2, page 134).

That Giuliani’s lobbying work in Ukraine involved discussions of Manafort appears certain. According to a September 2019 article in The Washington Post by Ukrainian journalist Serhiy Leshchenko, “Giuliani’s entire approach [to lobbying in Ukraine] is built on disinformation and the manipulation of facts. Giuliani has developed a conspiracy theory in which he depicts my revelations about Manafort [involving the disclosure of illegal payments to the former Trump campaign manager] as an intervention in the 2016 U.S. election in favor of the Democratic Party.” Giuliani’s Manafort-centered allegations against Leshchenko eventually cost the Ukrainian his job in the Zelensky administration.

The Giuliani-promoted “conspiracy theory” Leshchenko details isn’t the Trump attorney’s only conspiracy theory, however—nor is Manafort the only American political figure Giuliani has been discussing during the course of his lobbying in Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Giuliani told Fox News Sunday that his work attempting to expose a supposed Biden scandal in Ukraine was part of a “five-month” effort that originated with his desire to talk to the Ukrainians about—of all people—Hillary Clinton. “What I’m talking about…[is] Ukrainian collusion [during the 2016 election]. Which was large, significant, and proven. With Hillary Clinton, with the Democratic National Committee, a woman named [Alexandra] Chalupa, with the [Ukrainian] ambassador [to the United States], with an FBI agent who’s now been hired by George Soros, who was funding a lot of it.” Giuliani’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theory positing George Soros as a dark overlord of Clinton-Ukraine collusion is nonsense, of course; there’s no evidence to support it, nor Giuliani’s allegations against Clinton, the FBI, Ukraine’s diplomatic corps, or Alexandra Chalupa. While Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American political activist and a DNC consultant in 2016, did make efforts to get Manafort fired as Trump’s campaign manager, they were part of a course of advocacy against Manafort—who had been a controversial figure in Ukrainian politics for years—that began during the Obama administration and at no point involved Hillary Clinton or the DNC. Or, for that matter, Donald Trump.

So why is Giuliani in Ukraine stirring up conspiracy theories about Soros-funded Clinton-Ukraine collusion? How does this rehashing of the 2016 presidential election benefit his client, Trump? The answer is that Trump and his supporters fear that the 29 ongoing federal investigations into Trump-Russia collusion and related Trump perfidy—many of which are direct outgrowths of the Mueller probe—may ultimately land significant political or even legal blows against Trump. Team Trump therefore wants (and may even feel they need) a fully-fledged conspiracy theory about past Democratic collusion with a foreign power with which to respond to such allegations. This effort has already born fruit in right-wing media, with ardent Trump supporter John Solomon dutifully writing in The Hill, for example, that “The boomerang from the Democratic Party’s failed attempt to connect Donald Trump to Russia’s 2016 election meddling is picking up speed, and its flight path crosses right through Moscow’s pesky neighbor, Ukraine. That is where there is growing evidence a foreign power was asked, and in some cases tried, to help Hillary Clinton.” Solomon’s observations are little more than rabid partisanship, but they underscore that Trump and his allies’ hunt for a rhetorical “boomerang” to protect the president is quite real indeed.

As Congress begins its investigation of Giuliani’s apparent bribery and extortion efforts in Ukraine, it and the American people must be aware that the Trump plot in Ukraine goes well beyond Joe Biden and began much earlier than the summer of 2019. Trump and his agents have sought to weaponize a beleaguered European nation—one facing a continued Russian military threat on its eastern border, following Putin’s 2014 annexation of a large swath of its territory—in their ongoing battle to protect Dictator Trump from impeachment. The Trump-Ukraine saga goes as far back as the early months of Trump’s presidency, which retroactively (in 2018 and 2019) faced allegations of clandestine lobbying by Michael Cohen on behalf of Ukrainian interests; it was Cohen’s Ukrainian-American father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, who first introduced Cohen to Trump, and Cohen is confirmed to have worked with a Ukrainian politician to negotiate a Trump-Putin sanctions deal post-election. Disputed reports have even emerged of Cohen taking money from Ukrainian sources in early 2017; while the BBC retracted a report claiming that Poroshenko paid Cohen $400,000 for increased access to Trump in January 2017, the British broadcaster has stood by a “less serious allegation” involving the Trump attorney’s lobbying efforts in early 2017. The New York Times reports that federal investigators are “examining [the] Ukrainians who flocked to [the] Trump inaugural” to see if any of them illegally donated to Trump.

While the details of Cohen’s 2017 lobbying of the Trump administration remain murky, as do the funding sources for Trump’s historically well-underwritten inauguration, that Trump’s political fortunes have long been tied to events in Ukraine is clear. For evidence, one might look at his political team’s mid-2016 rejection of a GOP platform plank that would have advocated for providing lethal weaponry to anti-Russian Ukrainian rebels; or, one might consider the more recent revelation that his sometime legal adviser Joe diGenova is now representing Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch and former Manafort partner who is currently fighting extradition to the U.S. on corruption charges. Why does a former Trump legal adviser care if a Manafort partner gets tried in the United States? Why did Russian-Ukrainian citizen Konstantin Kilimnik brag to European associates that he worked with Paul Manafort to change the GOP platform on Ukraine in 2016? (According to Politico, Kilimnik “suggested to Kiev political operatives that he played a role in a move by Trump’s [GOP convention] representatives to dilute a proposed amendment to the GOP platform calling for the U.S. to provide ‘lethal defensive weapons’ for Ukraine to defend itself against Russian incursion.”) Why, more broadly, has Trump from the start commingled U.S. domestic politics with the matter of Ukrainian self-defense, beginning in 2016 and extending to his controversial conversation with the new Ukrainian president this summer—a conversation immediately preceded by the bizarre order to his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to halt nearly $400 million in Congressionally mandated aid to Ukraine?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Ukrainian officials have already told U.S. senators that “the aid…[was] held up as a penalty for resisting that pressure [by Trump to investigate Biden].” Trump himself has acknowledged raising a possible Ukrainian corruption investigation into Biden with Zelensky, something The New York Times reports he, in fact, did at least eight times in a single July 2019 phone call. While Trump and the Ukrainians would be most likely to know the details of what looks like an impeachable act of bribery—its solicitation and inducement by Trump, and its attempt, with steps taken toward the illegal end, by Ukraine—Congress must now do its own due diligence to find these and other answers for itself and the American people.

But as new, Ukraine-focused Congressional investigations of Trump and his aides, allies, and associates proceed (including a just-announced Republican-led one in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence), Senators and members of Congress must plan to look at the Trump-Ukraine question expansively. It’s clear that the revelations of the past ten days are just the tip of a very large Ukrainian iceberg—an iceberg whose eventual size could come to rival that of Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.

From Seth Abramson in Newsweek – Seth Abramson is Assistant Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences at the University of New Hampshire and author of Proof Of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018.) On Twitter @SethAbramson​

The transcripts are damming, but wait! There’s so much more.

Giuliani’s careening gibberish and admissions about crimes involving Ukraine

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough laughed uproariously at Rudy Giuliani’s careening denials and admissions to possible crimes involving Ukraine, and then darkly noted that his bizarre “gibberish” was straight out of the authoritarian handbook.

“Morning Joe” panelists cracked up at Donald Trump’s attorney angrily denying that he sought election help from Ukraine’s government, only to even more angrily justify his reasons for doing what he had just denied.

“When it is going south you put gibberish on the air not to confuse people,” said panelist Donny Deutsch, “all of a sudden it’s just this noise that’s not as distracting that makes you lightheaded.”

Scarborough said dictators throw out “gibberish” to confuse and disorient the public, so they can gather more power.

“I could read you books of past governments, from decades past, that actually used this type of nonsense where you throw gibberish out at the population over and over again, nonsense, lies, then you admit, then you wrap it around a couple more lies,” he said, “and by the end the supporters of said public figure are so numb to the truth they do not recognize it.”

“There’s a certain regime where you go back and read — I’m not going to say,” he added. “Usually you get these writings from 1938, 1939, it wasn’t the early ’30s.”

Scarborough said recent autocrats use the same tactics to destroy truth and accountability.

“You could say this about Erdogan, you could say that about what’s happening across the globe, you know, in Russia, you could talk about what’s happening in Hungary, the Philippines, this is what strongmen, this what autocrats do,” Scarborough said. “They keep lying and shooting out gibberish, they admit, they deny until people are so numb to the truth that it just doesn’t matter. Rudy’s just admitted something outrageous. We’re laughing and supporters are going to (say) there’s nothing wrong with that, when, of course, any other president would be impeached that afternoon.”

How Trump’s International Collusion Threatens American Democracy

It’s been our position for quite a while now that this crime family needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

If you share our position, here is a great resource when you’re debating with people or talking with your friends about this despicable con man.

Through diligent research, Seth Abramson exposes a story that U.S. media has largely missed: a pre-election geopolitical conspiracy involving Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Russia that sought to put Trump in the White House―and succeeded.

In late 2015, a convicted pedophile, international dealmaker, and a cooperating witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation George Nader convened a secret meeting aboard a massive luxury yacht in the Red Sea. Nader pitched Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and other Middle Eastern leaders a plan for a new pro-U.S., a pro-Israel alliance of Arab nations that would fundamentally alter the geopolitics of the Middle East while marginalizing Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. To succeed, the plan would need a highly placed American politician willing to drop sanctions on Russia so that Vladimir Putin would, in turn, agree to end his support for Iran. They agreed the perfect American partner was Donald Trump, who had benefited immensely from his Saudi, Emirati, and Russian dealings for many years, and who, in 2015, became the only U.S. presidential candidate to argue for a unilateral end to Russian sanctions and a far more hostile approach to Iran.

So begins New York Times bestselling author Seth Abramson’s explosive new book Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Threatens American Democracy, a story of international intrigue whose massive cast of characters includes Israeli intelligence operatives, Russian oligarchs, Saudi death squads, American mercenary companies, Trump’s innermost circle, and several members of the Trump family as well as Trump himself―all part of a clandestine multinational narrative that takes us from Washington, D.C. and Moscow to the Middle Eastern capitals of Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Jerusalem, Cairo, Tehran, and Doha. Proof of Conspiracy is a chilling and unforgettable depiction of the dangers America and the world now face.


Once a perv always a perv

Newly revealed video recorded in 1992 shows Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein ogling NFL cheerleaders at a party held at the future president’s Mar-A-Lago club.

The video recorded by NBC and broadcast Wednesday by MSNBC shows Trump, then a celebrity businessman, dancing with dozens of cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, and then greeting Epstein and two other men.

Trump and the accused pedophile Epstein are then seen pointing toward various women and commenting on their looks, although it’s not always clear what they’re saying.

“She’s hot,” Trump says about one woman, and then leans in to say something that makes Epstein double over with laughter.

Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges earlier this month after a series of Miami Herald reports revealed details of a non-prosecution agreement struck in 2008 with then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who resigned last week as Trump’s secretary of labor.

Trump has tried to downplay his friendship with Epstein, a well-connected financier, but this video and other evidence, including flight logs and photographs, show the two spent a good deal of time together in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years,” Trump said in 2002. “Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

Raw story and MSNBC