Archive for the ‘Manafort’ category

Nothing Burger With Wheeze

October 31, 2017

Nothing Burger With Wheeze, Amerian Greatness, October 31, 2017

 

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.

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Given the ocean of blaring red type with which the Drudge Report greeted the news of the indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates on Monday morning, you might have thought that here, at last, was the smoking gun in the Trump-colludes-with-Ruskies-to-snatch-the-election-from-Hillary narrative. I have no doubt the collective hearts of Max Boot, Gabe Schoenfeld, and Bill Kristol skipped a joyous beat when they heard tell of the indictments this weekend. “At last!” I could almost hear them exclaim, “It’s make-way-for-ducklings time! Trump will soon be gone and the power brokers will once again pay attention to us. Order in the universe will be restored.”

No such luck, friends. As Ted Cruz observed many months ago, the whole Russian collusion delusion is a “nothing burger.” Robert Mueller’s heavy-handed “let’s-squeeze-’em” pursuit of these two former players in Donald Trump’s campaign may make for dramatic headlines. And doubtless, it is a nuisance (and potentially more) for Messrs. Manafort and Gates, who, if they have incompetent lawyers, may face jail time and extensive fines. But really, at the end of the day, their alleged malfeasance, despite the “Conspiracy against the United States” heading in the indictment, amounts to concealing from Uncle Sam some $75 million they hoovered up as unregistered foreign agents for Ukraine and sending the proceeds through the rinse, suds, spin, and dry cycle back home in the United States. Naughty, yes; prosecutable, to be sure; but it has nothing to do with the assigned subject of Robert Mueller’s terrier-like activities as special counsel.

As my friend Andrew C. McCarthy put it in a characteristically incisive summary of the episode, Mueller’s case “seems shaky and overcharged” and will likely be a “boon to Trump,” who is not mentioned in the indictment, which focuses on activities that took place five and even 10 years ago, long before Donald Trump began disturbing the sleep of the NeverTrumpers.

“Even from Paul Manafort’s perspective,” McCarthy notes,

there may be less to this indictment than meets the eye — it’s not so much a serious allegation of “conspiracy against the United States” as a dubious case of disclosure violations and money movement that would never have been brought had he not drawn attention to himself by temporarily joining the Trump campaign.

Moreover, McCarthy continues, “From President Trump’s perspective, the indictment is a boon from which he can claim that the special counsel has no actionable collusion case.”

It appears to reaffirm former FBI director James Comey’s multiple assurances that Trump is not a suspect. And, to the extent it looks like an attempt to play prosecutorial hardball with Manafort, the president can continue to portray himself as the victim of a witch hunt.

A few days ago, the world was stunned by the news that 1) the original funder of the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research was the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, edited by Matthew Continetti, the son-in-law of energetic NeverTrumper Bill Kristol, and 2) when the Beacon ended its contract with Fusion GPS, its services were picked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. It was at that point, in May-June 2016, that Fusion GPS employed the former British Spy Christopher Steele to look for dirt on Trump in Russia. That was the origin of the infamous “Trump Dossier,” with its (in the words of former FBI director James Comey) “salacious and unverified” claims about Donald Trump’s behavior in Russia.

This whole story has been exhaustively and exhaustingly picked over. Who knew that Tony Podesta, older brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, was in bed (and in today’s climate, we must stipulate, not literally) with Paul Manafort? Yep, it’s true. And this just in—the elder Podesta has just announced that he is stepping down from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, after, nota bene, it was announced that Mueller was turning his jaundiced eye on him.

Who knew that the FBI, too, engaged the services of Spook Steele to continue gathering dirt on Trump? Did that work provide the rationale for the Obama Administration’s going to the FISA Court to get authorization to bug Trump’s associates? What about Robert Mueller? He was head of the FBI when that storied agency was prevailed upon not to announce it was investigating the Russian company that acquired Uranium One, and thereby some 20 percent of U.S. Uranium assets, back when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and Barack Obama was still pursuing his “reset” with Russia. What’s going on there? And the $140 million (give or take) that found its way into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation around the time of that transfer? Or the $500,000 speaking fee for a short speech by Bill Clinton, paid by a Russian bank working for the Russian company acquiring Uranium One? What about that?

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.

Bloomberg: Manafort Alerted Authorities About Russian Meeting

August 10, 2017

Bloomberg: Manafort Alerted Authorities About Russian Meeting, Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, August 10, 2017

Buried in a new article out of Bloomberg is an understated but potentially significant statement: “In fact, Manafort had alerted authorities to a controversial meeting on June 9, 2016, involving Trump’s son Donald Jr., other campaign representatives and a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, according to people familiar with the matter.”  That would be a huge development in this controversy if true, particularly if the notice occurred before the Russian meeting occurred.

Much of the criticism directed at Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort has been that only chumps would have gone to this meeting or, at a minimum, alerted authorities.  Now Bloomberg is saying that it has sources saying that Manafort did indeed alert authorities.  That would go a long way to defusing the conspiracy theories surrounding the meeting and shatter the narrative put forward by critics.

What is also concerning is that, if true, this fact is one of the only facts not leaked out of Congress.  It seems that closed sessions have been mere precludes to media leaks.  Yet, members have been saying as a mantra that the FBI or some other agency should have been notified.  Ironically, this is the most significant part of the Bloomberg story but is buried without further comment.  Why?

FBI, DOJ launch Probe into Firm of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta

August 21, 2016

FBI, DOJ launch Probe into Firm of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, BreitbartJerome Hudson, August 20, 2016

clin podGetty

The FBI and Justice Department have launched an investigation into whether the Podesta Group, the lobbying and public relations firm co-founded by Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chairman John Podesta, has any connections to alleged corruption that occurred in the administration of former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.

The federal probe is, CNN reports, “examining the work of other firms linked to the former Ukrainian government, including that of the Podesta Group.”

The Podesta Group, run by John Podest’s brother Tony Podesta, was retained by the Russia-controlled firm UraniumOne in 2012, 2014, and 2015, to lobby Hillary Clinton’s State Department. The lobbying firm was paid a total of $180,000 according to public records.

Yanukovych took office in February 2010. He was forced to flee to Russian after a political uprising in Ukraine. Federal prosecutors are probing the work Yanukovych’s regime paid the Podesta Group to do while he was the head of the Ukrainian government.

As it was first detailed in the New York Times bestselling book Clinton CashUranium One — which hired the Podesta Group — is the firm that funneled millions to the Clinton Foundation as the Russian government gained ownership of the company.

According to the New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a “goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.”

The Times reported last April:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

“And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock,” the Times report said.

According to the Daily Caller, Uranium One “paid the Podesta Group $40,000 to lobby the State Department, the Senate, the National Park Service, and the National Security Council for ‘international mining projects,’ according to a July 20, 2012 filing.”

Distancing itself from the work it did for an organization with ties to Yanukovych’s pro-Russian regime, the Podesta group said it hired lawyers to examine its relationship with the organization linked to the ousted Ukrainian president.

“The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre’s potential ties to foreign governments or political parties,” a Podesta Group statement said, according to CNN. The statement continued:

When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that ‘none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.’ We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale’s review, including possible legal action against the Centre.

The FBI and DOJ investigation is also examining former Donald Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort’s firm, according to CNN.

Spokesman from the federal agencies as well as Manafort’s firm have not commented on the ongoing investigation.