Thursday, January 12, 2017

Donald Trump's Other Big Russian Problem



It was Donald Trump's first press conference in six months, and it was all that I expected it to be and more.

There were more flags than I could count, he brought a bunch of paid staffers to act as cheerleaders.

He lied like a thief, admitted the Russians may have hacked the Democrats. But so what?

And the way he called the U.S. intelligence services "Nazis" or treated a CNN reporter when he tried to ask a question, had to be seen to be believed.



But the good news is that while Trump declared the press conference to be a huge or yuuuuge success.



And his supporters celebrated the way he treated that CNN reporter...


It really was a train wreck.

If the potentially explosive story embroiling him weren’t so salacious, you might say this is a case of the emperor’s new clothes. Instead, it’s safe to say the Trump presidency is already in shambles. And it has yet to reach its official start.

His reaction to the Russian hacking scandal bordered on treason. 

Without any sense of shame or patriotism, the president-elect celebrated the Russian hacking of the DNC and all those leaked emails. He even bragged about his closeness to the Russian president before claiming – somehow – that Hillary Clinton was the real poodle.

And couldn't be more farcical...



His deranged performance did him no favours.

If this is Trump’s playbook for crisis management, his political opponents should sit back and enjoy the show. Like a dog that returns to his vomit, this president-elect just can’t help himself. Let the follies begin.

Only made him look like a clown.

And the really good news is that if he thinks he can cavalierly dismiss the report by a former MI 6 agent claiming that he engaged in sexually depraved behaviour with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room, he's wrong.

Because as the BBC's Paul Wood writes, there's more than one source for those allegations.



The former MI6 agent is not the only source for the claim about Russian kompromat on the president-elect. Back in August, a retired spy told me he had been informed of its existence by "the head of an East European intelligence agency". 

Later, I used an intermediary to pass some questions to active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file - they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was "more than one tape", "audio and video", on "more than one date", in "more than one place" - in the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and also in St Petersburg - and that the material was "of a sexual nature".

And then there's Trump's other big Russian problem. The question of whether Russian money helped finance his campaign.

Last April, the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was - allegedly - a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.

Which is now being investigated by the secret U.S. intelligence court known as FISA, that has obtained permission to intercept the electronic records of two Russian banks.

Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the Fisa order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities - in this case the Russian banks. But ultimately, the investigation is looking for transfers of money from Russia to the United States, each one, if proved, a felony offence.

A lawyer- outside the Department of Justice but familiar with the case - told me that three of Mr Trump's associates were the subject of the inquiry. "But it's clear this is about Trump," he said.

And should that investigation bear fruit, it alone would be enough to have Trump impeached.

And with a little bit of luck send him to the place he belongs...



He should be trying to bring Americans together, but he just can't help himself. 

He's only making more enemies.

And sooner or later one of them will bring him down... 

22 comments:

  1. Putin must be laughing himself silly. Based on nothing at all, the Americans are managing to go into a complete meltdown.

    Heck, even if the Russians had absolutely nothing to do with the release of the emails (I assume they like everyone else did phish the DNC), the FSB is going to clandestinely claim credit and go for promotions all round. Perhaps they might try for the Sun Tzu Award which I have just invented .

    The Sun Tzu Award
    The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
    Awarded to the intelligence and disinformation organization that has caused the most chaos and disarray to an opponent with the least expenditure of effort and resources.




    I would have hoped the BBC would maintain some standards but this is not the ones I would have expected.
    a retired spy told me he had been informed of its existence by "the head of an East European intelligence agency".

    Or
    an intermediary to pass some questions to active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file - they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was "more than one tape"

    I apologize to the characters who thought up the yellowcake lie. It looked like a notarized statement compared to this.

    Have you ever heard the story about gramma's body in the camping trailer when the trailor was stolen? The story always is TRUE, it happened to a) my brother-in-law's cousin or Father Patrick's parishioner's second cousin in Vancouver or blah, blah, blah, ...

    BTW, for an incredible description of how a country can talk oneself into an intelligence hysteria all by itself, have a look at Constantine Pleshakov's great book, The Tsar’s Last Armada written about happenings during the Russia-Japan War of 1905.

    The Russians convinced themselves that the Imperial Japanese Navy had a fleet (flotillae) of torpedo boats in European waters. They ended up shooting up the English fishing fleet on the Dogger Banks. Russian navel or military intelligence (such as was) contributed to the hysteria and blindness to reality.

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    1. hi jrkrideau....I don't think Putin is smiling. I think the Russians are shocked by the furor they have created. From what I've read I thought they would do Hillary Clinton some minor damage, but never thought they would be accused of helping Trump win. Now they're probably freaking out like everybody else. I also don't think they had much effect on the election, I think the FBI played a much bigger role. But since they did phish the DNC, they did set themselves up for John McCain and others to go after them. If they hadn't hacked the DNC none of this would have happened...

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  2. Anonymous11:20 AM

    HAHAHA!

    You believe that something which originated on 4chan is real! HAHAHA! Thank you so much! You've brightened my day!

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    1. hi anon...no, I'm afraid not. Are you LARPing me? I know the 4chan boys well. I've read the thread in question, which begins with OP--------- bragging about it, then failing to present any proof, and then freaking out after some of the others tell him to dispose of his computer and BURN his hard drive before the CIA comes bursting through his
      door. It's really quite hilarious, but here's the kicker. That story has been out there since 2015. So sorry, or I should say HAHAHA....

      Delete
    2. Anonymous9:33 AM

      X-D

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-13/guccifer-20-emerges-slam-intelligence-communitys-fake-evidence

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-11/how-4chan-mcfooled-john-mccain-buzzfeed-and-cia-believing-trumps-golden-showers

      I didn't realize that KGB demoralization could be so much fun!

      Delete
  3. Maybe he mispoke when he said he loved waterboarding. He must have meant watersports.

    Overnight we found out a lot about the memos author, his cv, his reputation, his network and his business. Accurate reports are essential is such an enterprise wants to stay in business. Everything revealed in the past few hours suggests the dossier id accurate.

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    1. hi rumleyfips....As I've said, I don't know if the story is true, but the former MI6 agent who collected the material has very good credentials, so it can't be easily dismissed.
      Does anyone really think that Donald Trump is not capable of getting involved in a situation like that, with a record like his, and the way he apparently feels about women?

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  4. Anonymous11:46 AM

    Which is now being investigated by the secret U.S. intelligence court known as FISA, that has obtained permission to intercept the electronic records of two Russian banks.

    This should be re-written. The FISA court doesn't investigate. It's empowered to issue warrants to agencies who do investigate, like the FBI.

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    1. hi anon...yes, thanks for that. In trying to condense what happened I made FISA sound like an investigative body, when in fact as you point out it acts like other courts and merely rules on the evidence collected by others...

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  5. Anonymous2:15 PM

    No Mr. Trump, you are fake news. The Grand-daddy of fake news has been dishing it out for years and now he cant seem to take his own medicine. Whether it is in fact fake news or not remains to be determined though I believe all of the allegations are quite likely true. Trump's behaviour in the last few years erases any thought of giving him the benefit of the doubt a respectable person would deserve.
    After seeing just the clip above from the news conference, it's clear to me that if he isn't taken away in a straight jacket or thrown in jail, on January 20th, the USA will inaugurate its first ten year old president.
    JD

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    1. I believe most if not all of the allegations are total rot but I must say I am quite happy to see Trump on the receiving end of a lot of lies. I am smiling about that.

      So much for "Crooked Hilary", eh? I don't think that she is crooked; ethically challenged perhaps but a lot of politicians esp. US one seem to be. Out and out crooked, not bl## likely.

      Mind you I think that she, for other reasons, was just about as bad a choice for president of the USA as Trump but that's another matter.

      Trump clearly is unfit to be any kind of elected official let alone president of the USA but you may be slandering ten year olds.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous6:18 PM

      jkrideau, had these revelations not been discovered by a highly respected individual in the intelligence community then I would be highly doubtful of their veracity. However, they were and the author has now gone into hiding, fearing for his life. Why would he do that if these allegations were pure fiction? If there is video of Trump starring in "Sunny With a Chance of Showers" or verifiable evidence of Trump colluding with Russia, then the stakes in this are sky high. Russia would lose its blackmailing ability, Trump would be impeached and Mr. Steele would be wondering why his evening tea is glowing in the dark.
      JD

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    3. jkrideau, had these revelations not been discovered by a highly respected individual in the intelligence community then I would be highly doubtful of their veracity.

      Acerbic reaction— Kim Philby was a highly respected individual in the intelligence community.

      More seriously, if reports are accurate, he was hired by some Republican to dig up dirt on Trump—and he was a Russian expert apparently so presusmeably he was told to concentate on the Russian connection.

      He may have cobbled together some stuff never expecting it to see the light of day. Consultants have been known to cut corners or even invent things for their clients and this is generously assuming that the report is based on much of anything.

      Have a look at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/12/donald-trump-russia-dossier-frighteningly-true?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=208220&subid=17290955&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2 for some interesting commentary. Ignore the headlines. As I read that article, the author is saying it sounds like Moscow, there just is nothing to show that any of the claims are true.

      However, they were and the author has now gone into hiding, fearing for his life.

      He did? We apparently know he is gone. Perhaps as much to avoid CNN or Fox News as anything else?

      If he is in fear of his life, from whom? The Russians? Why? He is no continuing political threat to Putin or Russia. He was the messenger. The damage is done.

      Unless you postulate that Putin or someone in the Russian government has the same irrational level of vindictiveness as Trump, I'd assume one would just ignore him. Harming him could be taken an admission of guilt.

      Why would he do that if these allegations were pure fiction?

      Perhaps he's afraid of the Americans who want to get rid of Trump; finding out that the report was pure fiction would not help them—fanciful but have an exploding cigar and we'll talk about it.

      Come to think of it, the Russians probably do have more reason to want to keep him alive than do the ant-Trump American faction.

      If there is video of Trump starring in "Sunny With a Chance of Showers" or verifiable evidence of Trump colluding with Russia, then the stakes in this are sky high.

      Well for the first part, the video, I doubt that even the mad bible-belt Trumpers would reject him for that video and unless there is a leak of extreme proportions in Russian security do you think such video, should it exist, would ever appear?

      For the second, the colluding, there is enough material in the public domain to show that Trump's associates if not Trump himself, have been engaged with an unsavory bunch of ex-Soviet oligarchs that a bit more seems unneeded except that hysterical Americans may need one more thing to jump on. And this is not to mention his very dubious record in the USA.

      I never understood why Trump got such a free ride when there was some good evidence that he was trying to do business with Cuba at the height of the American embargo. I would have thought you could nail him as the next best thing to a traitor right there.

      Russia would lose its blackmailing ability, Trump would be impeached and Mr. Steele would be wondering why his evening tea is glowing in the dark.

      The horse is out of the barn. Mr. Steele is essentially irrelevant unless you expect him to roll over and expose all his Russian, etc., contacts—if they exist.

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    4. hi JD...it really is the limit to see Trump bellowing about fake news, when just about everything he says is a lie, and nobody has profited more from false news than he has. Also the way he treated Jim Acosta, one of CNN's best reporters, is not just outrageous, it betrays his authoritarian mind. I can't believe how childish Trump sometimes sounds, and I shudder to imagine what he might do when he becomes president. The man is mentally unfit to be president, and we'll be lucky to survive him...

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    5. Anonymous5:51 AM

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/14/opinion/sunday/donald-trump-kremlin-employee-of-the-month.html?_r=0
      "Here’s what we know. The dossier was gathered by a former British MI6 spy, Christopher Steele. A onetime British ambassador to Russia described Steele as a “very competent professional operator” who would not make things up."

      "This isn’t “fake news” of the kind fabricated by Macedonian websites, but it’s both plausible and completely unsubstantiated. Unlike Trump’s claims that Obama was foreign-born, even after the president produced his birth certificate, this hasn’t been disproved or discredited, and it was regarded as credible enough to brief the president and president-elect about."

      "The most important question is simply why our president-elect has been so determined to side with Russia — undermining his own intelligence community as he does so. Perhaps it’s a genuine if naïve attempt to “reset” relations. But, oops, new presidents have tried that before, and it fails each time."

      JD

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  6. e.a.f.4:00 PM

    My concern is that if all of Trump's appointees are in place none of these investigations will go any further. they will simply be shut down, people fired, e.g.

    if Sessions is black mailable, as has been suggested then he as A.G. would shut down any investigation Trump wants shut down.

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    1. hi e.a.f...yes it's possible the investigations will be shut down, but enough Republicans are pushing for them to continue, so I am hopeful they won't. Remember the Republicans have only a two Senator advantage, and that could crumble very easily if people like John McCain and Lindsay Graham feel their concerns are not been met....

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  7. you're deplorable,dna suggesta your Justin's dad
    sic

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    1. hi Ed...thanks for that, whatever it meant. If I was really Justin's dad I would be flattered. But trust me, it would be a miracle akin to the virgin birth of Jesus. Now be good and don't talk nonsense...

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  8. Anonymous9:39 PM

    Its like Rob Ford on steroids..criminal friends / no criminal friends ..crack no crack.. On one hand its absolutely hilarious to visualize the dismay of the politicians and backers that have hitched their wagon to the golden boy and how some of our own climate change deniers might create their own micro environment with recycled premium wine, effervescent dilbit . The list goes on.
    However America is not some banana republic that was suddenly thrust on the world stage for amusement. Its now a house of cards with its tentacles buried deep in world affairs and millions of lives hanging in the balance. Destroy confidence in America's institutions,pivot 180 degrees in policy and all of the rebels,allies, citizens that went out on a limb with promised backing suddenly see it being sawed of behind them. Bad karma with huge potential for devastation. Hopefully there are enough dedicated smart people working behind the scenes to slow the runaway circus and provide a pause for reflection on the insanity of it all with the result that eventually a more enlightened world will evolve.
    RT

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    1. Only too true and I fear that any faith, in the world at large, is already gone. Perhaps there is some way the Americans can patch things up internally.

      Let us sincerely hope so.

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  9. hi RT...yes you're right. The U.S. may have been heading for disaster, but it is still the world's most powerful superpower, and if its influence collapses or is seen to be weakened, very bad things could happen. And yes, we have to hope that some of Trump's people will be able to restrain him, or goodness knows what that spoiled man child might do....

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