Pence is up to his eyeballs in this treason: a timeline

The Trump White House has produced what appear to be at least three cover-ups. They relate to:

1) former-national security advisers questionable activities relating to Turkey;

2) Flynn’s role in the Trump/Russia controversy; and

3) the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Each is a piece of the larger picture depicted in our overall Trump-Russia timeline. But the complexity of the entire situation can render even the summary timeline overwhelming.

So as we continue to update our overall Trump-Russia timeline, we’re also putting together timelines that track key players and events. Our timeline of the Comey firing is the first example. By isolating the pertinent portions of relevant entries that share a common thread, important players have fewer places to hide. Facts, truth, and clarity are Trump’s adversaries.

This Pence edition of the timeline focuses on the vice president: What did he know, when did he know it, and at what points did his public statements diverge from what he knew or reasonably should have known? (The final phrase creates legal responsibility for presumed knowledge, even if the speaker in question denies it.)

Ultimately, the facts will produce answers, and we’ll be updating the Pence timeline, too.

Pre-Pence Primer on Flynn

Late summer 2015: A member of Trump’s campaign staff calls retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn to ask if he’s willing to meet with Trump. Flynn agrees.

Dec. 10, 2015: At the 10th anniversary gala of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT, Flynn sits at Putin’s table. For his appearance on the network, he nets $33,500 of the $45,000 paid to his speakers’ bureau. For all of 2015, Flynn receives more than $65,000 from companies linked to Russia.

Mid-January 2016: Flynn applies for a five-year renewal of his security clearance. [Added May 25, 2017]

Feb. 11, 2016: According to a May 22, 2017 letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), investigators meet with Flynn to discuss his security clearance application. When asked about his Moscow appearance, Flynn reportedly says, “I didn’t take any money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking me.” [Added May 25, 2017]

March 14, 2016: Investigators issue a report on Flynn’s security clearance application. According to the summary in Rep. Cummings’ May 22 letter, Flynn told investigators he was paid by “US companies” when he traveled to Moscow in December 2015. The report also says that Flynn told investigators he had not received any benefit from a foreign country

 

Cover-up #1: Pence, Flynn, and Turkey

July 15, 2016: Trump tweets:  @realDonaldTrump

I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.
7:50 AM – 15 Jul 2016

August 2016: The consulting firm headed by Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn begins to perform lobbying work for a company owned by a close adviser to Turkey’s President Erdogan.

Nov. 8, 2016: Trump and Pence win the election.

Nov. 10, 2016: During their first meeting after the election, President Obama warns Trump about appointing Mike Flynn to a top national security post. In 2014, Obama had removed Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Nov. 11, 2016: Vice President-elect Pence replaces Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as chair of Trump’s transition team.

Nov. 14, 2016: Reporters ask Mike Flynn’s business associate Robert Kelley if Turkish interests had retained their consulting firm from August through Election Day because of Flynn’s close relationship with Trump. “I hope so,” Kelley says. The subject of Flynn’s lobbying activities for Turkey comes up again periodically in news reports throughout November and December.

Nov. 18, 2016: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sends Trump transition team chair (and Vice President-elect) Mike Pence a letter expressing concerns about national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn’s conflicts of interest. Specifically, Cummings worries about Flynn’s work for an entity affiliated with the government of Turkey, as well as a paid trip to Moscow in December 2015 during which Flynn was “highly critical of the United States.”

Nov. 28, 2016: Trump’s transition team acknowledges receipt of Cummings’ Nov. 18 letter regarding Mike Flynn.

Jan. 4, 2017: National security adviser-designate Mike Flynn tells the transition team’s chief counsel Donald F. McGahn II that he is under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey. Flynn’s lawyer followed up, but did not get a call back until Jan. 6.

Jan. 10, 2017: President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, informs Trump of the military plan to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa with the help of Syrian Kurdish forces. Obama’s team informed Trump because execution of the plan would not occur until after the inauguration. Turkey has long opposed US forces partnering with Kurdish forces in the region. Trump national security adviser-designate Flynn tells Rice to hold off on approving the mission.

March 7, 2017: Former national security adviser Mike Flynn files registration documents confirming that between August 2016 and Election Day, he’d earned $530,000 for lobbying work on behalf of a company owned by a Turkish businessman. Flynn acknowledges that his work as a foreign agent could have benefitted the Turkish government.

March 9, 2017: Responding to questions about Mike Flynn’s lobbying activities for Turkish interests during the campaign and thereafter, Vice President Mike Pence tells Fox News’ Bret Baier twice that he’d just learned of it: “Well, let me say, hearing that story today was the first I’d heard of it. And I fully support the decision that President Trump made to ask for Gen. Flynn’s resignation.” BAIER: “You’re disappointed by the story?” PENCE: “The first I heard of it, and I think it is, uh, it is an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask Gen. Flynn to resign.” Asked whether Trump knew about Flynn’s activities on behalf of Turkish interests, Sean Spicer says, “I don’t believe that that was known.”

March 22, 2017: In a joint letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight Committee request information and documents relating to payments that former national security adviser Mike Flynn received from entities affiliated with foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey.

May 9, 2017: Over Turkey’s objections, the Pentagon announces that the US will partner with Kurds to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. On Jan. 10, the Obama administration had presented President-elect Trump with a plan to partner with the Kurds against ISIS, but his then-national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn had killed it.

Cover-up #2: Pence, Flynn and Russia

April through November 2016: Mike Flynn and other advisers to the Trump campaign have at least 18 phone calls and emails with Russian officials, including six contacts involving Russian ambassador

Late November 2016: In a meeting that includes senior Trump transition national security team members, national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn reveals he has scheduled a conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In attendance is Marshall Billingslea, a member of the team who had been a senior Pentagon official for President George W. Bush. He warns Flynn that any such communications carry risks because US intelligence agencies are almost certainly monitoring Kislyak’s conversations. After the meeting, Billingsea asks national security officials in the Obama White House for a copy of the classified CIA profile of Kislyak.

Dec. 29, 2016: On the same day President Obama announces sanctions against Russian in retaliation for its interference in the 2016 election, national security adviser-designate Flynn places five phone calls to the Russian ambassador.

Dec. 30, 2016: After Putin makes a surprise announcement that Russia would not retaliate for the new sanctions, Trump tweets:

Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016

Jan. 15, 2017: Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Vice President Pence says Flynn’s call to the Russian ambassador on the same day President Obama announced new sanctions was “strictly coincidental,” explaining: “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure on Russia…. What I can confirm, having to spoken with [Flynn] about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”

Also on Jan. 15, 2017: On Fox News Sunday, Pence denies contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. Responding to Chris Wallace, Pence says, “All the contact by the Trump campaign and associates were with the American people.” On a third try, Wallace asks if Pence had ever asked Donald Trump if there were any contacts in the campaign between Trump or his associates and Russians, Pence answers, “Of course not.”

Jan. 20, 2017: Trump and Pence are inaugurated.

Jan. 22, 2017: Flynn is sworn in as national security adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Jan. 23, 2017: At Sean Spicer’s first press briefing, Spicer says none of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador touched on the Dec. 29 sanctions. That got the attention of FBI Director James Comey. According to The Wall Street Journal, Comey convinced acting Attorney General Sally Yates to delay informing the White House immediately about the discrepancy between Spicer’s characterization of Flynn’s calls and US intelligence intercepts showing that the two had, in fact, discussed sanctions. Comey reportedly asked Yates to wait a bit longer so that the FBI could develop more information and speak with Flynn himself. The FBI interviews Flynn shortly thereafter.

Jan. 26, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informs White House Counsel Don McGahn that, based on recent public statements of White House officials including Vice President Mike Pence, Flynn had lied to Pence and others about his late-December conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. According to Sean Spicer, Trump and a small group of White House advisers were “immediately informed of the situation.”

Jan. 27, 2017: McGahn asks Yates to return to the White House for another discussion about Flynn. He asks Yates, “Why does it matter to the Department of Justice if one White House official lies to another?” Yates explains that Flynn’s lies make him vulnerable to Russian blackmail because the Russians know that Flynn lied and could probably prove it.

Feb. 8, 2017: Flynn tells reporters at The Washington Post he did not discuss US sanctions in his December conversation with the Russian ambassador.

Feb. 9, 2017: Through a spokesman, Flynn changes his position: “While [Flynn] had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

Feb. 10, 2017: Trump tells reporters he was unaware of reports surrounding Flynn’s December conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Feb. 13, 2017: The Washington Post breaks another story: Then-Acting Attorney General had warned the White House in late January that Flynn had mischaracterized his December conversation with the Russian ambassador, and that it made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Later that evening, Flynn resigns.

Feb. 19, 2017: NBC’s Chuck Todd questions Reince Priebus about Flynn’s firing. The White House line was that Trump had fired Flynn because he’d lied to Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russians about US sanctions. But that left an awkward gap of more than two weeks during which Trump apparently knew about Flynn’s deception before firing him. “Why did more than a week go by before the vice president was informed of this issue?” Todd asks. “Well, I think he was always aware of the issue as to whether or not he talked about sanctions,” Priebus answers. Later, Todd asks about the more than two-week delay between Yates’ disclosure of Flynn’s deception and Trump’s decision to fire him. “Waiting that long, do you regret that it looks like that the vice president is essentially not in the loop?” Todd asks. “No,” Priebus replies, “the vice president’s in the loop on everything, Chuck.”

March 30, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that Mike Flynn is seeking immunity from prosecution in return for testifying before congressional intelligence committees. The next day, his lawyer confirms, “Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit.”

March 31, 2017: Trump tweets: @realDonaldTrump

Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
4:04 AM – 31 Mar 2017

April 19, 2017: The White House refuses the March 22 bipartisan request from the House Oversight Committee for more information and documents relating to payments that former national security adviser Mike Flynn received from entities affiliated with the Russian and .

April 25, 2017: Flynn reportedly receives a message from Trump to “stay strong.” When the story appears on May 18, the White House does not respond to a request for comment.

April 28, 2017: The chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee send letters to several former Trump campaign advisers, including Carter Page, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Among other requests, the letters ask for a “list of all meetings between you and any Russian official or representative of Russian business interests which took place between June 16, 2015 and Jan. 20, 2017.” The letters also request information about any such meetings of which they are aware, as well as all documents relating to Trump campaign communications with Russian officials or business representatives. The committee also seeks information about any financial and real estate transactions related to Russia from June 15, 2015 through Trump’s inauguration.

May 11, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee sends Mike Flynn a subpoena for documents that he’d refused to produce voluntarily in response to the committee’s April 28 letter request.

May 19, 2017: Vice President Pence faces added scrutiny on what he knew about Flynn’s connections to Turkey and Russia — and when he knew it. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee post a Nov. 18, 2016 letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to Pence, who at the time was vice president-elect and chair of the presidential transition team. The letter expressed concerns about national security adviser-designate Flynn’s ties to those countries. In response to the posting, Pence’s spokesperson states, “The vice president stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding Gen. Flynn’s ties to Turkey and fully supports the President’s decision to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.” A White House aide adds, “I’m not sure we saw the letter.” Democrats on the House Oversight Committee then post the formal Nov. 28, 2016 transition team message acknowledging receipt of Cummings’ letter.

May 22, 2017: Rather than produce documents in response to a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mike Flynn invokes his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Cover-up #3: The Firing

May 8, 2017: Trump tells a few close aides, including Vice President Pence and White House counsel Don McGahn, that Comey has to go. According to ABC News, Pence, McGahn, chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Jared Kushner are members of a small group that begins to prepare talking points about Comey’s firing. Trump summons Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to the White House, where he instructs them provide a written justification for removing Comey. Before Rosenstein prepares the requested memo, he knows that Trump intends to fire Comey.

May 9, 2017: Citing the May 9 recommendations of Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, Trump fires FBI Director Comey, ostensibly because of his inappropriate statements about the Clinton email investigation prior to the 2016 election. Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein write that terminating Comey is necessary to restore trust, confidence and integrity in the FBI. In his termination letter to Comey, Trump also says he “greatly appreciates you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

May 10, 2017: Pence says repeatedly that Comey’s firing occurred because Sessions and Rosenstein recommended it: The deputy attorney general “came to work, sat down and made the recommendation for the FBI to be able to do its job that it would need new leadership. He brought that recommendation to the president. The attorney general concurred with that recommendation.”

Also on May 10, 2017: Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump had been thinking about firing Comey “since the day he was elected,” but reiterates Pence’s position that Sessions and Rosenstein were “absolutely” the impetus for the firing.

Also on May 10, 2017: The Washington Post and The New York Times report that Trump had been the impetus for Comey’s firing, not Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

Also on May 10, 2017: Rod Rosenstein speaks by phone with White House counsel Don McGahn. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rosenstein insists that the White House correct the misimpression that Rosenstein initiated the process leading to Comey’s firing. He suggests that he can’t work in an environment where facts aren’t reported accurately.

Also on May 10, 2017: The White House releases a new timeline of the events relating to Comey’s firing. It recites that the impetus for removing Comey had come from Trump, not the deputy attorney general. But the White House acknowledges that Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein on May 8 to discuss “reasons for removing the director” and that the attorney general and his deputy sent their written recommendations to Trump on May 9.

Also on May 10, 2017: House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asks the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate Comey’s firing.

Also on May 10, 2017: During an Oval Office meeting with Russia’s Ambassador Kislyak, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and their aides, Trump discusses the Comey firing. “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump says. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Then he adds, “I’m not under investigation.”

May 11, 2017: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies that James Comey enjoyed “broad support within the FBI and still does to this day…. The majority, the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.”

Also on May 11, 2017: Trump tells NBC’s Lester Holt that he had already decided to fire Comey before his meeting with Sessions and Rosenstein: “Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story….” Trump also says that on three different occasions — once in person and twice over the phone — he’d asked Comey if he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia, and Comey told him he wasn’t.

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/05/is-pence-next-a-timeline-of-the-vice-presidents-role-in-trumps-russia-related-mess-provides-some-clues/

Vladdy has last laugh

The nefarious plan to kill affordable health care without even having a vote in Congress

Trump reportedly plans to sabotage Obamacare by cutting off low-income subsidies

The move would make it harder for millions of people to buy health coverage.

Donald Trump has frequently suggested that Obamacare is “collapsing” and predicted that statewide marketplaces will soon cease to function. But if the health care law doesn’t fall off a cliff on its own, he appears more than willing to give it a push.

On Friday —amid a storm of Russia-related leaks and news of the president’s imminent departure for Saudi Arabia — Politico reported that Trump has quietly decided to end approximately $7 billion annually in cost-sharing subsidies for low-income people who purchase their health care on the Obamacare exchanges. Each year, these payments help reduce the co-payments and deductibles of approximately 7 million low-income people who get their insurance on the marketplaces.

Ending these payments wouldn’t just hurt those 7 million people. Without those subsidies to keep their lower deductible plans afloat, some insurance companies would likely exit the Obamacare marketplaces — or hike their premiums to compensate for the shortfall. The result could be a devastating ripple effect through the entire private marketplace system.

Trump has threatened to kill off the cost-sharing subsidies before, but seemed to back down after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats would be willing to shut down the government if continued payments weren’t guaranteed.

On Friday, eight concerned parties — including the American Medical Association, BlueCross BlueShield, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — sent a joint letter to the Senate leadership of both parties, urging them to pass legislation that would ensure the cost-sharing payments continue.

“The individual market is their only option for getting coverage. Unless CSRs [cost sharing reductions] are funded, a tremendous number of Americans will simply go without coverage and move to the ranks of the uninsured,” they wrote. “This threatens not just their own health and financial stability, but also the economic stability of their communities.”
https://thinkprogress.org/trump-plans-to-sabotage-obamacare-de692395121e

 

Trump reportedly wants to kill critical Obamacare subsidies, despite warnings health insurance premiums would spike: CNBC

President Donald Trump now reportedly wants to pull the plug on a big pot of Obamacare money — which could send insurance prices soaring for millions of Americans.

Trump told advisers Tuesday he wants to stop reimbursing health insurers for important Obamacare subsidies, which could spark political blowback for him and other Republicans as premiums rise, Politico.com reported.

A White House official told CNBC on Friday, “The White House has told Congress that it will make” payments to the insurers for May, “but has not made any commitment on further payments.”

“No final decisions have been made at this time, and all options are on the table,” the official said.

Insurers are obligated by the Affordable Care Act to grant the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, to eligible customers.

Politico posted the story before a group including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the American Medical Association sent the Senate a letter urging Congress to take action to guarantee a steady stream of cost-sharing reduction funding through 2018.

“Such action would represent a strong, positive step for all consumers who buy their own insurance by eliminating the single most destabilizing factor causing double-digit premium increases for 2018,” the letter said.

The subsidies reduce the out-of-pocket charges — such as co-payments, deductibles, and coinsurance — that people have to pay when they receive health treatment, prescription medication and other medical services.

The federal government, in turn, is supposed to reimburse insurers for their cost — estimated at $7 billion this year.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has challenged the legality of the federal reimbursements in court, claiming the Obama administration was paying insurers without congressional appropriation.

A federal judge agreed with the House but stayed her ruling as the Obama administration appealed.

On Thursday, 16 Democratic state attorneys general sought to intervene in the appeal, with the goal of keeping the funding for insurers in place. Their filings said Trump is using decisions that could affect health insurance for millions of people “as little more than political bargaining chips,” according to their court filing.

On Monday, the Trump administration is scheduled to tell the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia how, or if, it will resolve the House’s lawsuit. However, as Politico noted, the administration and the House could ask Monday for the case to be put on hold for 90 days.

A staunch critic of Obamacare, Trump could order an end to the payments even as that appeal, now being handled by his administration, remains pending. But until this week it was not clear that he actually wanted to do so.

Politico reported that “many senior administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, are leery of ending the payments, however, because it could immediately unravel the Obamacare insurance markets and strongly discourage insurers from participating next year.”

Health analysts say insurers would be forced to hike their premium prices for individual health plans sharply to make up for the lost federal funding, while still being required to offer reduced out-of-pocket costs for lower-income customers.

In a letter Wednesday to Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and The Center for Insurance Policy and Research said that “the one concern” that insurers “consistently raise as they consider whether to participate” in Obamacare markets in 2018 is uncertainty over the subsidies.

And even if they do participate, insurers have told state regulators “the uncertainty of this funding could add a 15-20% load to” premium rates “or even more.”

The letter, a version of which was also sent to leaders in the Senate, urged “the Administration to continue full funding for the cost-sharing reduction payments for 2017 and make a commitment that such payments will continue, unless the law is changed.”

Andy Slavitt, who oversaw Obamacare for the Obama administration, told CNBC, “The insurance commissioners know, politics aside, ordinary Americans are going to be hurt by these policies.”

“The Trump Administration can only try to break the ACA and [flout] the law for so long before everyone begins to squeal,” said Slavitt, who had been acting administrator for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

People whose household incomes are less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the subsidies, which are different from the financial aid most Obamacare customers receive to lower their monthly premiums. To get the cost-sharing reductions, eligible customers must sign up for a so-called silver plan on government-run Obamacare exchanges.

Silver plans cover 70 percent of their customers’ health expenses, with customers being responsible for the balance out-of-pocket, if they are not eligible for cost-sharing assistance.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported that a top Trump administration health official, Seema Verma, in April, suggested that insurers could receive the cost-sharing reduction funds from the government if insurers backed Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Verma, who is administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “stunned insurance industry officials by suggesting a bargain: The administration would fund the CSRs if insurers supported the House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” the LA Times reported.

The Times quoted CMS spokeswoman Jane Norris, after being asked about that claim, as denying Verma made any such quid pro quo suggestion.

“What she said at the … meeting in April was that no decisions had been made about CSRs,” Norris said.

On Friday, Norris told CNBC in an emailed statement, “The LA Times story is completely false. The assertion that Administrator Verma offered to fund the CSR in exchange for support for legislation is preposterous.”

Noam Levey, the Times reporter for that article, said, “I appreciate CMS’ comments, which we were happy to include in the article when they were provided. Others that we spoke to in the course of extensively researching the article had a different sense of that meeting. We felt it was important to report that.”

Putin “The Puppet Master” comes to his puppet’s defense

Please play this video, you have see it to believe it.

Take note of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and is buddies yucking it up!

-Putin says he has transcript that PROVES Trump did not pass Russia any secrets, calling the claim ‘rubbish’ as he bashes ‘stupid’ US politicians he says want to undermine the President

-Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to hand a transcript of Trump’s meeting with Russia’s foreign minister over to U.S. lawmakers if that would help

-He said Moscow initially found debates about Russia meddling in U.S. politics as ‘funny’ but said Moscow is now ‘concerned’

-Putin dismissed the U.S. politicians who came up with the ‘nonsense’ as either being ‘stupid’ or ‘dangerous and unscrupulous’

-Inveighs against ‘political schizophrenia’ in Washington

-Putin implied that someone is hampering Trump’s efforts at being President

-Complains Trump isn’t being allowed to work ‘at full capacity’

-‘It’s hard to imagine what else can these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4514632/Vladimir-Putin-says-prove-Trump-did-not-pass-Russia-secrets.html#ixzz4hLjB7sXt

Don’t worry Donny boy I’ll take care of those pesky reporters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump had not passed any secrets onto Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week and that he could prove it.

Speaking at a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Putin quipped that Lavrov had not passed what he said were the non-existent secrets onto him either.

The Russian strongman complained about what he said were signs of ‘political schizophrenia’ in the United States. Backing up Trump, Putin said the U.S. president wasn’t being allowed to do his job properly.

‘It’s hard to imagine what else can these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next,’ Putin complained.

Then he mocked the uproar that has thrown the White House into a tailspin.  “I spoke to him (Lavrov) today,” said Putin, smiling. “I’ll be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us. Not with me, nor with representatives of Russia’s intelligence services. It was very bad of him.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4514632/Vladimir-Putin-says-prove-Trump-did-not-pass-Russia-secrets.html#ixzz4hLiwnNjK

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Dutch TV documentary links Traitor Trump to criminal racketeering

There is a Dutch TV documentary alleges that Donald Trump has extensive connections to Russia’s ruling oligarchs and a history of illegal racketeering.

No wonder why he won’t release his taxes or financial information

“Donald Trump’s business partners have included Russian oligarchs and convicted mobsters, which could make the president guilty of criminal racketeering charges,” wrote Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet on Friday.

He continued, “That’s only one of the eyebrow-raising takeaways from a 45-minute Dutch documentary that first aired last week, ‘The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump, Part 1: The Russians.’”

The 45-minute documentary was produced by Zembla TV (an investigative series from the VARA Broadcasting Association, is a Dutch public broadcasting association that operates within the framework of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting system) They examine Trump’s alleged relationship with Russian mobster Felix Sater — which Trump reportedly took pains to hide from regulators.

It also looks at Trump’s arrangements with wealthy Russians that apparently allow them to move their money outside Russia and details the elaborate financial networks these families use as a “pyramid scheme for money laundering,” Rosenfeld said. “The financial trail exposed raises questions about whether Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because the FBI’s investigation of his campaign’s collusion with Russia was encroaching into Trump’s world of dark money and dubious business partners.”

Zembla promoted the documentary by saying, “For months, the FBI have been investigating Russian interference in the American presidential elections. ZEMBLA is investigating another explosive dossier concerning Trump’s involvement with the Russians: Trump’s business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Powerful billionaires suspected of money laundering and fraud, and of having contacts in Moscow and with the mafia. What do these relationships say about Trump and why does he deny them? How compromising are these dubious business relationships for the 45th president of the United States? And are there connections with the Netherlands? ZEMBLA meets with one of Trump’s controversial cronies and speaks with a former CIA agent, fraud investigators, attorneys, and an American senator among others.”

Zembla has also released Part Two of the series, “The King of Diamonds,” which explores Trump’s relationship with Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is suspected of trading in blood diamonds.

Watch the English language version of “The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump,” embedded below:

Who will stop Tinpot Dictator Trump?

“YOU’RE FIRED!” That’s what Donald Trump would bark from his boardroom chair at the end of each episode of “The Apprentice.” For years, millions of Americans would smile, laugh, and even cheer in front of their television sets as the property tycoon performed his signature move.

There is little to laugh about this week. The firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump will be remembered as a dark and depressing day in the downward spiral of American democracy. It’s difficult to disagree with the scathing assessment of CNN’s senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who described the sacking as a “grotesque” abuse of power. “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies,” he told host Wolf Blitzer in a clip that has since, deservedly, gone viral. “They fire the people who are in charge of the investigation.” Toobin continued: “This is something that is not within the American political tradition. … This is not normal, this is not politics as usual.”

There is indeed nothing “normal” about removing the head of the FBI from his post less than four months into a new presidency — and an FBI boss who has been credited with delivering that president his election victory, against the odds. You have to go all the way back to 1993 to find the last — and only other — time a president (William J. Clinton) decided to dismiss his FBI chief (William S. Sessions). And the latter, unlike Comey, was accused of a long list of bizarre ethics violations including, as the Washington Post reported at the time, “charging the government for personal travel,” diverting FBI aircraft to pick up his wife, Alice Sessions, in other cities, and deploying FBI cars “to take her to get her nails done.”

Nor is there anything “normal” about an American president sending his long-standing head of private security, and former bodyguard, to hand-deliver a letter of termination to his FBI chief. There are tinpot dictators in Africa who would have avoided doing that simply in order to avoid giving the wrong impression. Tinpot Trump, however, didn’t care. (His brutish security chief, Keith Schiller, lest we forget, spent the presidential campaign smacking Latino protesters and manhandling Latino reporters on behalf of his boss.)

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was also sacked by Trump via hand-delivered letter. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, was sacked by Trump after he refused to resign. What do Comey, Yates, and Bharara have in common? “They all were investigating Trump when they got fired, and there’s a Russia thread in each of their cases,” observes Shannon Vavra of Axios.

 

“You’re fired!” This is how Tinpot Trump deals with those who seek to hold him to account. We can’t say we weren’t warned. He has, after all, never hidden his authoritarian inclinations, his brazen disregard for political, legal, and social norms.

Trump, the property tycoon, slammed Mikhail Gorbachev for not responding to anti-Soviet protesters with a “firm enough hand,” while gazing in awe at the Chinese show of “strength” against the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989.

Trump, the presidential candidate, lavished praise on Vladimir Putin as a president who “has been a leader far more than our president [Obama] has been” and who had “great control over his country.”

Trump, the president, in his very first speech to the nation, did his best impression of super-villain Bane from “The Dark Knight,” delivering a dystopian address on “American carnage” while vowing to “make America strong again.” On Twitter, he has referred to the media as an “enemy of the American people” and denounced a “so-called judge” who dared to rule against his “Muslim ban.”

Is it any wonder that experts on authoritarianism and fascism have been sounding the alarm bell for many months now? Listen to Ruth Ben Ghiat, the New York University history professor who has written a book on the rise of Mussolini in pre-war Italy. Trump “is an authoritarian,” she told me on my Al Jazeera English show in February, “who has the ability to stretch the boundaries of democracy to something unrecognizable.”

Is it any surprise that commentators have been invoking President Richard Nixon’s infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox? Listen to John Dean, former White House counsel to Nixon, who believes Trump is much worse than Nixon and told The Atlantic in January: “The American presidency has never been at the whims of an authoritarian personality like Donald Trump.”

With Nixon, the checks and balances worked. He was stopped. Eventually. Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The congressional Republicans? You’re kidding, right? They have marched in partisan lockstep with their Dear Leader since he won their party’s presidential nomination last summer.

Consider their treatment this week of Yates, who testified in front of the Senate on Monday. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose wife Trump mocked as ugly and whose father he accused of colluding in the assassination of JFK, decided to attack Yates on behalf of the president over her refusal to defend Trump’s “Muslim ban” in court.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, who Trump has called “incompetent” and an “embarrassment,” decided to echo a key Trump talking point by asking Yates about who leaked classified information about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, rather than about the substance of those ties.

These are the elected representatives in whose hands rests the fate of the U.S. Republic? Seriously?

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The Democrats? They will line up to appear on MSNBC and loudly demand a special prosecutor; they may even become bold enough to talk impeachment. But they are the minority party in both chambers. They don’t have the votes to demand anything. Nor do they have much credibility in the eyes of the public — a recent poll revealed the Democrats to be less popular than the Republicans, Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump himself.

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The courts? Here and there, maybe, but over one and possibly even two terms? And as the president’s patronage powers kick in? I doubt it. Remember: The Trump effect on the U.S. judiciary will go far beyond the appointment of ultra-conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Trump has inherited more than 100 court vacancies from Obama, which is more than double the number of vacancies Obama inherited from Bush in 2009.

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The U.S. media? Give me a break! So much of the so-called fourth estate has embarrassed itself with fawning and deferential coverage of the president; cable news sees Trump less as a threat to democracy and more as a cash cow and ratings boon. In recent weeks, CBS Sunday morning anchor John Dickerson was escorted out of the Oval Office after he asked Trump a question the latter didn’t like, while CNN’s Van Jones and Fareed Zakaria fell over one another to declare Trump “presidential” because he gave a good speech and launched a few missiles at Syria.

American checks and balances are out of whack. The firing of the FBI director is only the beginning. There will be more sackings; more political corruption; more abuses of power. And, again, we can’t say we weren’t warned. Tinpot Trump, cautioned John Dean back in January, “is going to test our democracy as it has never been tested.” Whether American democracy is up to that test is another matter.

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/10/after-james-comeys-firing-who-will-stop-trumps-tinpot-dictatorship/

TASS, the Russian state-owned news agency, “punks” Trump’s White House

We sure screwed the Democrats didn’t we, yuck yuck!

Wednesday, the Russian government posted photos of President Donald Trump meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on its official Twitter accounts.

This drew immediate criticism because the White House seemed to have allowed Russian state media to take photos of the meeting while excluding any American media outlets from doing the same.

Thanks for all your help defeating Clinton

Now a White House official tells CNN’s Jim Acosta that the Trump administration is “furious” at the Russians for posting the photos, as they claimed they were not told beforehand that any pictures would be posted on state-run social media accounts.

“They tricked us,” one official told Acosta about the Russians. “They lie.”

The official also said that the White House “did not anticipate” that the photos would ever be used by the Russians for propaganda purposes. That said, the official also slammed critics who called the meeting with Kislyak inappropriate because it came just one day after Trump fired the person overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election.

This guy got my National Security Advisor Fired

At a time of strain between the White House and the media over coverage of the new administration, reporters raised questions Wednesday as to why a photographer from the Russian media, but not the U.S. press, was apparently allowed into an Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Russian officials.

The issue surfaced after photos of the meeting, including Trump shaking hands with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and controversial Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, appeared in the Russian media.

The issue was further inflamed by the presence of Kislyak, who has been at the center of several controversies involving administration officials, including now fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Russian embassy even tweeted a photograph of Trump smiling broadly as he put his arm around the diplomat while shaking his hand in the Oval Office.

Don’t worry we’ll lift the sanctions very soon

The photos were taken by TASS photographer Alexander Shcherbak and credited to him by the agency, which included a copyright symbol in photo captions in its own news reports of the meeting. The photos were also distributed by the Associated Press, which credits the Russian Foreign Ministry as the source, and Getty Images, which credits TASS.

After the photos began circulating, members of the White House press corps inquired whether the Russian media had been allowed into the closed meetings.

The White House responded, according to a White House pool report, by saying, “On background, our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that’s it.”

“Apparently the TASS person was admitted at the request of the Russian Foreign Ministry as the official photographer for the Russian side,” Sitov told TPM in a later email. “He is permanently assigned to cover FM Lavrov. His pictures from the meeting are available at the Russian FM’s Flickr. I was not even aware of this.”

Frequently the White House press pool is allowed in the room at the start of an official meetings to take photograph and, if possible, to ask the participants questions.

In addition to the photos, TASS provided comments by Lavrov on the Oval Office meeting with Trump, wHich had followed bilateral talks between him and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Lavrov told TASS that in the meeting with Trump, “(we) discussed, first and foremost, our cooperation on the international stage.”

“At present, our dialogue is not as politicized as it used to be during Obama’s presidency,” Lavrov said. “The Trump administration, including the president himself and the secretary of state, are people of action who are willing to negotiate.”

YOU’VE BEEN PUNKED!

 

“The art of the deal” or who flips first on the Trump Team

Ex-CIA officer Phil Mudd

Appearing on the on-line only “Overtime” segment of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, ex-CIA officer Philip Mudd said that while the media is focusing on ex-Trump advisor Carter Page, it is likely that federal investigators are working on “flipping” other Trump transition officials to testify against their bosses.

“What do you think will come of the investigation into Trump campaign adviser Cater Page and his ties to Russia, and I might add Michael Flynn,” host Bill Maher asked Mudd.

“Look, the reason Carter Page is being featured is because he’s prominent in the press, not because he’s the most prominent target of the FBI,” Mudd remarked. “I think there will eventually be an indictment. Somebody going to be indicted, I don’t know if it’s going to be Carter Page — I think he’s chump change, I think it’s someone higher up.”

Asked to elaborate, Mudd explained that, based on what the FBI has heard from their “intercepts” of Trump transition officials talking with Russian officials, they will use that evidence to get those officials to “flip” and spill what they know in order to avoid being indicted on federal charges.

“They’ve got to have a significant amount of intercepts, that is communications with the Russians that led them down this path,” Mudd explained. “Then you are going to get people who are going to flip because you’re going to walk in and say, ‘Son, you either get a federal charge or you’re going to talk.’ That person is going to go home to their wife and kids and say ‘I don’t want three hots and a cot in the federal pen. I’ll talk.’”