Friday, July 14, 2017

Hey, Trumpsters: When You're Trapped in a Very Deep Hole Best Stop Digging

Whew boy, they never learn do they — none of them (ouch)

How deep's the scandal now Momma?
At least six lies deep and growing, or so we were told about Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer that equates to one big deception.
In a series of reports released over three days, the New York Times, citing White House sources, revealed an extraordinary meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin. The meeting was also attended by two top campaign aides: Chairman Paul Manafort and son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner.
An update from NBC News now says a former Russian Counter-Intelligence officer also attended – NFI on him but he is reported to hold dual citizenship in the U.S.
The meeting was set up through the son of a Russian billionaire, Emin *Agalarov, through his music publicist, Rod Goldstone who had a relationship with Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump Jr. through the 2013 Miss Universe competition, which was held in Moscow. Out of all this to date the various parties involved have told at least six lies about the nature and substance of the meeting.
* More on Agalarov family from Digby here:

According to Michael Isikoff at Yahoo, it was a typical Trump arrangement in which Agalarov would build the tower and license Trump’s name for big dollars. Donald Jr. was put it charge and Ivanka even made a trip in 2014 to see the proposed property. Unfortunately for the Trumps, the project got shelved when the Russian economy went south due to the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union following the Russian incursion into Crimea (something President Trump is now in a position to “fix”).

Agalarov told Forbes back in March that he was still on board the Trump train and that “anything Trump related I would be interested to pursue. I think today the Trump brand is stronger all over the world. And him being the president; I mean, it’s a big brand now.” Indeed it is.

Nonetheless, Trump was all over the map about his involvement with Russia during the campaign, saying in one breath that he was good pals with Vladimir Putin and another denying that he’d ever had anything to do with Russia in any way, shape or form. In his first press conference as president Trump said, “I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.”
But asking if Trump has investments in Russia was never the right question. The question to ask was whether any Russians had investments in Donald Trump. Some years back Donald Trump Jr. told a real estate conference, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” When writer James Dodson asked how the Trumps were able to finance their purchase of golf courses during the recession when credit had all dried up, Eric Trump told him, “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” (Eric Trump has denied he ever said this).

Nonetheless it has been difficult to analyze Trump’s financing arrangements since his company is family-owned and he refuses to release his tax returns or detail his holdings in any useful way. We know Trump was cited numerous times for money-laundering in his Atlantic City casinos. But this blockbuster article by Craig Unger in the New Republic confirms that Trump has been financed for years by Russian mobsters who have laundered money through his high-end real estate projects. And when I say Russian mobsters I’m talking about the most powerful Russian mobsters in the world.

Unger makes clear that he can find no evidence that Trump was ever involved in criminal activity, or knew exactly where the money pouring into his buildings was coming from. He didn’t need to know or want to; if nothing else Trump has finely honed survival instincts. But Unger also documents that criminals and oligarchs lived in and ran illegal activities out of Trump properties, including Trump Tower in Manhattan, for more than 30 years. They provided Trump with some of his most lucrative branding deals, the ones in which he was not required to make any personal investment.
The unending flow of Russian money, Unger writes, that “provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics.”

It’s hard to believe that anyone with that kind of criminal exposure would think it was a good idea to run for president. But Trump had been in the public spotlight and had gotten away with it for years. Books were written about his ties to criminals and he’s been sued thousands of time for fraudulent business practices.
In Trump-world this is just how the world works.
Now to those 6 lies:
1. In March, Trump Jr. denied ever meeting with a Russian national as a representative of the campaign: Trump Jr. told the NY Times that he never met with any Russian where, quote: “I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.” This meeting was taken in his campaign capacity. He was seeking damaging information about his father’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and invited the campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a top campaign adviser, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner.
2. In March, Trump Jr. denied ever discussing government policies related to Russia as a representative of the campaign: Trump Jr. also told the Times that if he ever met with a Russian in his private capacity he never “discussed government policies related to Russia.” Trump Jr. has admitted that a topic of discussion at his meeting with Veselnitskaya was the Magnitsky Act, legislation that imposes sanctions of Russian nationals for human rights violations. The repeal of the Magnitsky Act is one of Putin’s top priorities.
3. Trump Jr. initially told the New York Times that the primary topic of the meeting was “the adoption of Russian children.” Trump Jr. first said he “primarily discussed a program about the adoption program of Russian children popular with American families ended by the Russian government for sanctions.” He admitted later that he went to the meeting for the purpose of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton and was disappointed when Veselnitskaya did not able to produce it.
4. Goldstone, who arranged the meeting, denied any knowledge of involvement from the Russian government: Rod Goldstone, the music publicist who helped broker the meeting initially “denied any knowledge of involvement by the Russian government in the matter.” When confronted by the New York Times with his email describing the involvement of the Russian government, he stopped responding to inquiries.
5. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, “denied that the campaign or compromising material about Mrs. Clinton ever came up.” Natalia Veselnitskaya told the Times that “nothing at all about the presidential campaign” was discussed at the meeting. She later admitted to NBC News that the topic did come up, although she claims she was unable to produce the information.
6. Kushner omitted the meeting from the federal disclosures required to get a security clearance. Jared Kushner failed to disclose the meeting in the forms he submitted to obtain his security clearance as a White House adviser.
That means that these forms, as submitted, were false. Kushner’s lawyer said he revised his forms to include this information.
My Summary: Honestly, how much more is the public expected to take on this? More critical is the question of how much longer will the GOP look the other way and the rightwing sustain their denial?

Realistically, this is precisely how disinformation campaigns work – this one is a classic and right on track according to the plan and tactics of: Our system and the disruption, chaos, distrust, and deception on a daily basis.

As Yogi Berra once quipped: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Words of wisdom for sure. Stay tuned.

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