U.S. Politics

Elizabeth Warren Drops The Hammer On Trump With Bill To Implement the Emoluments Clause

Elizabeth Warren Drops The Hammer On Trump With Bill To Implement the Emoluments Clause

(L) Senator Elizabeth Warren – (R) President-elect Donald Trump

POLITICUS USA

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a slew of Democrats are taking aim at Donald Trump with new legislation that would force him to release his tax returns and divest himself of potential financial conflicts of interest.

The legislation titled the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act of 2017 would require the president and vice president to comply with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by requiring them to release their tax returns and divest themselves of any personal financial conflicts of interest. It would also require cabinet appointees to recuse themselves if any potential presidential conflicts of interest came before their agencies.

Sen. Warren said, “The American people deserve to know that the President of the United States is working to do what’s best for the country – not using his office to do what’s best for himself and his businesses. The only way for President-elect Trump to truly eliminate conflicts-of-interest is to divest his financial interests by placing them in a blind trust. This has been the standard for previous presidents, and our bill makes clear the continuing expectation that President-elect Trump do the same.”

Co-sponsor Sen. Bob Casey said, “President-elect Trump’s conflicts of interests are unprecedented and for the good of our nation he must divest himself from his businesses. The American people deserve to know that their president is acting in their best interest and not for the benefit of his business interests. Unless President-elect Trump divests, the American people will have no way of knowing where the Trump Organization ends and the Trump Administration begins.”

The legislation faces an uphill path as Congressional Republicans have been happy to turn a blind eye to Trump’s obvious financial conflicts of interest, but just like the Russian hacking scandal that Trump keeps trying to bury, the conflicts of interest surrounding the president-elect are not going to go away.

Trump has taken no steps to date to divest himself of his business interests. In fact, Trump has gone as far as to paint himself as being above the law by say that the President can’t have conflicts of interest.

Senate Democrats are keeping the focus on Trump’s many conflicts of interest. Sen. Warren may not get the Senate to pass her bill, but it is clear that she is locked in on Trump and going to be taking the fight to him every single day.

By

U.S. Politics

Donald Trump was bailed out of bankruptcy by Russia crime bosses

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Trump Soho Hotel in New York on June 22, 2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR        (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump speaks at Trump Soho, built in partnership with Bayrock | AFP Getty Images

DAILY KOS

By Mark Sumner

In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. attended a real estate conference, where he stated that

Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.

As it turns out, that may have been an understatement. Human rights lawyer Scott Horton, whose work in the region goes back to defending Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet dissidents, has gone through a series of studies by the Financial Times to show how funds from Russian crime lords bailed Trump out after yet anther bankruptcy. The conclusions are stark.

Among the powerful facts that DNI missed were a series of very deep studies published in the [Financial Times] that examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade—the period after his seventh bankruptcy and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit. …

The money to build these projects flowed almost entirely from Russian sources. In other words, after his business crashed, Trump was floated and made to appear to operate a successful business enterprise through the infusion of hundreds in millions of cash from dark Russian sources.

He was their man.

Yes, even that much seems fantastic, and the details include business agencies acting as a front for the GRU, billionaire mobsters, a vast network of propaganda sources, and an American candidate completely under the thumb of the Kremlin.

It reads like the a B-grade spy novel, a plot both too convoluted—and too bluntly obvious—for John le Carré. The problem is it may not be a conspiracy theory. It may be a conspiracy.

Horton’s analysis comes from piecing together information in three Financial Times “deep reports.” One of these focused on Sergei Millian, the head of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the US at the time of Trump Jr.’s “money pouring in from Russia” claim.

Mr Millian insists his Russian American Chamber of Commerce (RACC) has nothing to do with the Russian government. He says it is funded by payments from its commercial members alone.

Most of the board members are obscure entities and nearly half of their telephone numbers went unanswered when called by the Financial Times. An FT reporter found no trace of the Chamber of Commerce at the Wall Street address listed on its website.

Why was RACC’s background filled with so many holes? The Financial Times quotes former Russian MP Konstantin Borovoi in tagging the chamber as a front for intelligence operations that dates back to Soviet times.

“The chamber of commerce institutions are the visible part of the agent network . . . Russia has spent huge amounts of money on this.”

Millian helped arrange for Trump to visit Moscow in 2007, and had other outings with Trump in the states, including a visit to horse races in Miami. Millian claims that he had the right to market Trump properties in Russia.

“You could say I was their exclusive broker,” he told Ria. “Then, in 2007-2008, dozens of Russians bought apartments in Trump properties in the US.” He later told ABC television that the Trump Organisation had received “hundreds of millions of dollars” through deals with Russian businessmen.

Despite documents and photos showing Trump with Millian, Trump denied their association during the campaign.

Hope Hicks, Mr Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, said Mr Trump had “met and spoke” with Mr Millian only “on one occasion almost a decade ago at a hotel opening”.

The second Financial Times article puts Trump at the middle of a money laundering scheme, in which his real estate deals were used to hide not just an infusion of capital from Russia and former Soviet states, but to launder hundreds of millions looted by oligarchs. All Trump had to do was close his eyes to the source of the money, and suddenly empty apartments were going for top dollar.

Among the dozens of companies the Almaty lawyers say the Khrapunov laundering network used were three called Soho 3310, Soho 3311 and Soho 3203. Each was a limited liability company, meaning their ownership could easily be concealed.

The companies were created in April 2013 in New York. A week later, property records show, they paid a total of $3.1m to buy the apartments that corresponded with their names in the Trump Soho, a 46-storey luxury hotel-condominium completed in 2010 in a chic corner of Manhattan.

Why would Trump’s organization make such a good means of laundering funds? Because real estate has an arbitrary value. Is that apartment worth $1 million? Two million? Why not $3 million for a buyer who really wants it? When the whole transaction is just one LLC with undisclosed ownership paying another LLC with undisclosed ownership, it’s even neater than hiding the money in an offshore account. And while some businesses require due diligence in looking at the source of funds, real estate is a bit more … flexible.

The laws regulating US real estate deals are scant, experts say. Provisions against terrorism financing in the Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 attacks, obliged mortgage lenders to conduct “know your customer” research. But money launderers pay in cash. Sales such as those of the Trump Soho apartments have passed through this loophole, which was partially closed only this year.

Converting funds stolen overseas into property in the US and cash in the account of an LLC represented a win for both the oligarchs and Trump. Best of all, Trump’s sole requirement was that he pay scant attention to the deal—something at which he was already a proven master. For example, the actual owners of the Trump Soho were another limited liability company, Bayrock. Trump was a partner in the LLC and Bayrock cut the checks Trump received when those apartments were sold. And yet …

In a 2011 deposition, given in a dispute over the Fort Lauderdale project, Mr Trump said he had “never really understood who owned Bayrock”. Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock finance director, has claimed in racketeering lawsuits against his former employer that Bayrock’s backers included “hidden interests in Russia and Kazakhstan”. Bayrock has denied Mr Kriss’s allegations but declined to answer questions about the source of its funds and its relationship with the Khrapunovs.

The third article digs more deeply into the origins of Bayrock and its connection with Trump. That connection … was very close.

The Republican presidential nominee and Bayrock were both based in Trump Tower and they joined forces to pursue deals around the world — from New York, Florida, Arizona and Colorado in the US to Turkey, Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Their best-known collaboration — Trump SoHo, a 46-storey hotel-condominium completed in 2010 — was featured in Mr Trump’s NBC television show The Apprentice.

This is the same group about which Trump said he “never really understood” the ownership.

“I don’t know who owns Bayrock,” Mr Trump said. “I never really understood who owned Bayrock. I know they’re a developer that’s done quite a bit of work. But I don’t know how they have their ownership broken down.”

At the very least, Trump confessed to partnering with, taking money from, and acting as a representative for a corporation whose ownership he didn’t know, in deals that totaled hundreds of millions in countries around the world. However, it seems far more likely that Trump knowingly worked with oligarchs, groups associated with the Russian government, and plain old mobsters. Why? Because he was desperate.

By the 2000s, the property developer and casino owner with ready access to the capital markets and the biggest New York banks was no more. A series of corporate bankruptcies had limited his financing options. Mr Trump had become an entertainer who portrayed a tycoon on television and licensed his name to businesses looking for a brand, leading to fee-making opportunities as disparate as Trump University and Trump Vodka.

The Trump Organization was a hollow shell and Trump was bankrupt, but Donald Trump the public figure was a “successful businessman,” a screen behind which criminal activity could be carried out on a massive scale. Throwing his name at every scheme in existence wasn’t a strategy, it was a fire sale on Trump’s respectability. Steaks? Water? Vodka? Fake real estate school? You pony up the cash, and Trump will slap his name on it. Because by the early 2000s, Trump wasn’t just broke, he had nothing left to pawn. He wasn’t a successful businessman, but he still played one on TV. His image had more value than his real estate portfolio.

But the apartments and buildings where Trump held some degree of ownership could be turned into value again. All it took was partnering with foreign crime bosses looking for a place to stash their cash. To inflate the value of his portfolio, Trump had to do nothing other than look away as the dirty money poured in from one LLC to the next. Citizens in Russia, Kazakhstan, and other former Soviet states lost hundreds of millions, but Trump got a cut as looted funds flowed through offices and apartments in buildings that carried those critical gold letters.

Horton’s evaluation of this material in coordination with the declassified DNI report is that Trump actively worked with and for Russian interests.

What these exposes showed, is that Trump pursued the projects hand in glove with Russian mobsters who worked closely with Putin’s Kremlin …

But based on the information in the Financial Times report, it appears that there are actually two possible answers. Trump may have been actively involved with and working for Russian sources. He might also have simply played the role of useful idiot, displaying his readiness to feign ignorance about any deal … so long as it generated some funds to float his sinking boat.

In the end, there’s not a lot of difference in the outcome. Trump got money. Oligarchs cleaned their cash. Russia got their man.

 

 

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: January 9, 2017

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Republicans to push confirmation hearings despite ethics concerns
Republicans vowed Sunday to proceed with the start of confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks this week. The commitment came despite a warning from the Office of Government Ethics that the confirmation plans were putting “undue pressure” on the office to “rush through” reviews of nominees with complex backgrounds. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Republicans of “trying to ram them through as quickly as possible” rather than ensuring that all of the nominees are “thoroughly vetted.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats are just complaining because they are “really frustrated that they lost the election” and need to “grow up.”

Source: The Washington Post, NPR

2. La La Land wins record seven Golden Globes
La La Land dominated the Golden Globes on Sunday, winning every category in which it was nominated and snagging a record seven awards. The romantic musical about an aspiring actress and jazz pianist in Los Angeles swept many of the top awards, including Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy; Best Actor, Musical or Comedy (Ryan Gosling); and Best Actress, Musical or Comedy (Emma Stone). Two other favorites, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, entered the night with nearly as many nominations as La La Land, but wound up with just one award each. Meryl Streep used her acceptance speech after winning the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement to slam President-elect Donald Trump for his campaign “performance” mocking a disabled reporter, and deliver a defense of the arts, foreigners, and the press. Trump, in a tweet, dismissed Streep as an “over-rated” actress and a “Hillary flunky.”

Source: E! Online, The Telegraph

3. Aide says Trump now accepts conclusions on Russian hacking
President-elect Donald Trump now accepts the conclusion of the FBI, NSA, and CIA that the Russian government hacked Democratic targets in an attempt to influence the American presidential election, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday. Trump “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign,” Priebus said in an interview on Fox. Priebus also reported that Trump has asked U.S. intelligence agencies for recommendations on how to respond to the hacks, and depending on their input, “actions may be taken.” Earlier this week, Trump maintained that allegations of Russian election meddling were a “political witch hunt” designed to detract from his victory.

Source: Reuters, Politico

4. Truck crashes into Israeli soldiers, killing four
A Palestinian driver rammed a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers who had just stepped off a bus during an educational tour on Sunday, killing four of the soldiers and wounding at least 10 other people. The driver hit the soldiers, backed up, and drove into them again. The suspected attacker was fatally shot by other soldiers at the scene. Police chief Roni Alsheich said the crash was a terror attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “according to all signs” the attacker was an Islamic State supporter. Authorities did not immediately identify the attacker. Israel’s Channel 2 TV News said the driver was a 28-year-old who had served time in an Israeli prison.

Source: USA Today, CNN

5. Former moderate Iranian president dies
Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died Sunday after suffering a heart attack. He was 82. Rafsanjani had a long career in the ruling elite. He served as a close aide to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but his moderate views sometimes put him at odds with hardliners. He helped to start Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, although he later supported the deal to curb it in exchange for sanctions relief.

Source: The Associated Press

6. Suspect arrested over shooting of U.S. consular official in Mexico
Mexican authorities on Sunday arrested a suspect in the shooting of U.S. consular official Christopher Ashcraft, who was shot Friday as he was leaving a parking lot in Guadalajara. A video posted online by the consulate showed the gunman appearing to wait for Ashcraft, then opening fire before fleeing. Ashcraft was being treated in stable condition at a local hospital. Reuters reported that a source had sad he had been shot in the chest.

Source: Reuters

7. Trump son-in-law Kushner distances himself from business ties
Jared Kushner, President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is distancing himself from his New York real estate business in the clearest sign yet that he plans to take a job in the incoming Trump administration. Kushner is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and already serves informally as a close adviser. In order to take a formal position in the White House, he will have to argue successfully that a federal anti-nepotism law preventing officials from appointing relatives does not apply in his case, in addition to eliminating any appearance of conflicts of interest. Kushner has been “consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take,” his lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said, and would “resign from his position at Kushner Companies and divest substantial assets in accordance with federal guidelines.”

Source: The Associated Press

8. Fiat Chrysler announces plan to create 2,000 jobs in U.S.
Fiat Chrysler said Sunday that it would spend $1 billion to modernize two plants in Warren, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, in an expansion that will create 2,000 jobs. The automaker said the investment would allow it to bring back the Wagoneer SUV and produce pickup trucks currently manufactured in Mexico. The announcement followed President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of Ford, General Motors, and Toyota for expanding production in Mexico. Trump has threatened to impose big border taxes on cars produced in Mexico for sale in the U.S.

Source: Detroit Free Press, Fox News

9. Fort Lauderdale airport shooting suspect heads into first court hearing
Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old Iraq war veteran accused of killing five people in the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Monday. He faces federal charges for murder, firearms, and airport violence. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death. It could take days or weeks for formal charges to be filed. In the initial hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia Valle is likely to appoint a lawyer to represent Santiago. One of the defense’s first moves could be to ask for a mental competency evaluation, given Santiago’s history of mental health problems.

Source: Sun Sentinel

10. Queen Elizabeth makes first public appearance since holiday illness
Queen Elizabeth II attended a church service on Sunday in her first public appearance since she suffered what Buckingham Palace described as a “heavy cold” over the holidays. The queen went to St. Mary Magdalene Church near her Sandringham Palace country estate accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, as well as Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. After the service, surrounding churchgoers applauded as Queen Elizabeth, 90, and Prince Philip left to return home.

Source: E! Online

 

 

U.S. Politics

Trump Calls On Congress to Investigate NBC for Reporting Russian Attack

Trump Calls On Congress to Investigate NBC for Reporting Russian Attack

 

POLITICUS USAEditorial

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

Of all issues implicated by Russian spy measures, Trump’s top priority for intel committees is a congressional investigation into NBC.

 

It is almost certainly true that every law enforcement officer, public school teacher and parent experienced a guilty individual’s attempt to distract attention from themselves and point out someone else’s alleged infraction. Although it is true that Donald Trump is not a child or student even though he acts like one, he does display every sign of every career criminal law enforcement officials have to witness regularly. On Friday he exhibited why he does not belong anywhere near the halls of power, and not just because he is an incompetent know-nothing, but because he is a deceitful piece of work that can never be trusted.

After the intelligence community (IC) revealed what any half-wit was already aware of for months; that Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on America to install his puppet Trump in the White House; and then that the Ruskies rejoiced that their spy-craft delivered the intended results, Trump did what every criminal does; raise a distraction and call for an investigation into an entirely unrelated entity.

Trump took to his official press outlet, “the Twitter,” to attack the media for reporting what every American and their favorite pet already knew; Moscow celebrated when their candidate won the White House. Trump said via ‘Tweet’ that:

I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it. Who gave them this report and why? Politics!”

Now, there are plenty of lies in deceitful Don’s ‘Tweet,’ but there is the little issue of where an alleged incoming president’s focus of attention is after an attack on America for his benefit. After just being officially “briefed” (he already knew) that a hostile foreign power committed “an act of war” against America on Trump’s behalf, instead of calling the chairs of the House and Senate committees (which ones?) to investigate the attack on America, he wants to pursue members of the press. That aspect of Trumps’ remark wasn’t lost on House Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) who responded to dumb Donnie with a “Tweet” of his own. Mr. Schiff asked comrade Trump:

Of all issues implicated by Russian active measures, this is what you want to investigate? This is your top priority for intel committees?” In a word, yes.

First, dunce Donnie isn’t informed enough to cite “intel committees;” he probably thinks there is just one committee for each chamber. But of course calling to investigate the media instead of the Russians is his top priority for a couple of reasons beyond the treasonous “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” Besides creating a distraction, he is signaling to his rabid supporters that it isn’t his campaign or the Russians that need to be investigated by Congress, it is the media for daring to be the media and report the truth. It is yet another demonstration that one of his intents as White House occupant is using the federal government to intimidate and censor the press. Typically though, Trump got the facts all wrong in assailing NBC for reporting the obvious; Russia celebrated “its victory” over American democracy.

As noted over at Huffington Post,  that story from NBC News actually quoted an “unnamed intelligence official” confirming the Russians were rejoicing post-election. And, it was a detail first reported by The Washington Post, not NBC News. The “unnamed” intelligence official also described the findings of a multi-agency report that laid out the case that the Russians stole, then released, a mountain of emails for the purpose of helping Trump by damaging the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. It is worth reiterating that none of the “released” intelligence reports was revelatory after being in the news for months. One thing is certain; Donald J. Trump certainly knew the dirty details of the story because the Russians admitted being in contact with the Trump campaign during and after the election.

At HuffPo they wondered why the Trump singled out NBC News when WaPo originally released the story. The answer is simple; Trump acolytes watch NBC News far more than they read the Washington Post. Trump’s minions certainly heard the reports that the Russians celebrated his win because they watch network news; Trump knows it and shifted the blame to poor NBC for reporting what everyone already knew were facts.

What is lost on this story is Trump’s insinuation that the intelligence community is feeding the media “top-secret” intelligence in the name of “politics.” That is patently false and the IC should be even more inflamed at their incoming “boss” than one could have previously thought possible. Oh, it is true over at the FBI there is an alt-right contingent that aided and abetted Trump’s ascension to a place he doesn’t belong, but there are 16 other agencies in the IC that are not politically motivated for Russia.

No American should be surprised that a corrupt human being like Trump would go full-on criminal and attempt to distract the nation from the real and present danger of an attack on America, or lie to substantiate his assertions; it is what criminals do. Hrafnkell Haraldsson reported yesterday that Rachel Maddow was stunned at Trump lying about a report that was publicly available. Ms. Maddow remarked on Trump’s blatant lies and said,  “I have to say I don’t get weirded out by a lot of stuff in the news but this puts a shiver down my spine.”

Everything Trump says and does should send shivers down decent Americans’ spines; that is the normal response to a monster. However, what is worrisome is that Trump is still demeaning the intelligence community. If that’s not enough he is calling on the Congress to investigate the press over a true and accurate report that was common knowledge among the general population. All Americans should be terrified of a man who will go to any length, including attacking the press and IC, to protect his Russian masters which is Donald J. Trump giving aid and comfort to the enemy and why there is a threat of treason already hanging over his presidency.

It is almost certainly true that every law enforcement officer, public school teacher and parent experienced a guilty individual’s attempt to distract attention from themselves and point out someone else’s alleged infraction. Although it is true that Donald Trump is not a child or student even though he acts like one, he does display every sign of every career criminal law enforcement officials have to witness regularly. On Friday he exhibited why he does not belong anywhere near the halls of power, and not just because he is an incompetent know-nothing, but because he is a deceitful piece of work that can never be trusted.

After the intelligence community (IC) revealed what any half-wit was already aware of for months; that Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on America to install his puppet Trump in the White House; and then that the Ruskies rejoiced that their spy-craft delivered the intended results, Trump did what every criminal does; raise a distraction and call for an investigation into an entirely unrelated entity.

Trump took to his official press outlet, “the Twitter,” to attack the media for reporting what every American and their favorite pet already knew; Moscow celebrated when their candidate won the White House. Trump said via ‘Tweet’ that:

I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it. Who gave them this report and why? Politics!”

Now, there are plenty of lies in deceitful Don’s ‘Tweet,’ but there is the little issue of where an alleged incoming president’s focus of attention is after an attack on America for his benefit. After just being officially “briefed” (he already knew) that a hostile foreign power committed “an act of war” against America on Trump’s behalf, instead of calling the chairs of the House and Senate committees (which ones?) to investigate the attack on America, he wants to pursue members of the press. That aspect of Trumps’ remark wasn’t lost on House Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) who responded to dumb Donnie with a “Tweet” of his own. Mr. Schiff asked comrade Trump:

Of all issues implicated by Russian active measures, this is what you want to investigate? This is your top priority for intel committees?” In a word, yes.

First, dunce Donnie isn’t informed enough to cite “intel committees;” he probably thinks there is just one committee for each chamber. But of course calling to investigate the media instead of the Russians is his top priority for a couple of reasons beyond the treasonous “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” Besides creating a distraction, he is signaling to his rabid supporters that it isn’t his campaign or the Russians that need to be investigated by Congress, it is the media for daring to be the media and report the truth. It is yet another demonstration that one of his intents as White House occupant is using the federal government to intimidate and censor the press. Typically though, Trump got the facts all wrong in assailing NBC for reporting the obvious; Russia celebrated “its victory” over American democracy.

As noted over at Huffington Post,  that story from NBC News actually quoted an “unnamed intelligence official” confirming the Russians were rejoicing post-election. And, it was a detail first reported by The Washington Post, not NBC News. The “unnamed” intelligence official also described the findings of a multi-agency report that laid out the case that the Russians stole, then released, a mountain of emails for the purpose of helping Trump by damaging the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. It is worth reiterating that none of the “released” intelligence reports was revelatory after being in the news for months. One thing is certain; Donald J. Trump certainly knew the dirty details of the story because the Russians admitted being in contact with the Trump campaign during and after the election.

At HuffPo they wondered why the Trump singled out NBC News when WaPo originally released the story. The answer is simple; Trump acolytes watch NBC News far more than they read the Washington Post. Trump’s minions certainly heard the reports that the Russians celebrated his win because they watch network news; Trump knows it and shifted the blame to poor NBC for reporting what everyone already knew were facts.

What is lost on this story is Trump’s insinuation that the intelligence community is feeding the media “top-secret” intelligence in the name of “politics.” That is patently false and the IC should be even more inflamed at their incoming “boss” than one could have previously thought possible. Oh, it is true over at the FBI there is an alt-right contingent that aided and abetted Trump’s ascension to a place he doesn’t belong, but there are 16 other agencies in the IC that are not politically motivated for Russia.

No American should be surprised that a corrupt human being like Trump would go full-on criminal and attempt to distract the nation from the real and present danger of an attack on America, or lie to substantiate his assertions; it is what criminals do. Hrafnkell Haraldsson reported yesterday that Rachel Maddow was stunned at Trump lying about a report that was publicly available. Ms. Maddow remarked on Trump’s blatant lies and said,  “I have to say I don’t get weirded out by a lot of stuff in the news but this puts a shiver down my spine.”

Everything Trump says and does should send shivers down decent Americans’ spines; that is the normal response to a monster. However, what is worrisome is that Trump is still demeaning the intelligence community. If that’s not enough he is calling on the Congress to investigate the press over a true and accurate report that was common knowledge among the general population. All Americans should be terrified of a man who will go to any length, including attacking the press and IC, to protect his Russian masters which is Donald J. Trump giving aid and comfort to the enemy and why there is a threat of treason already hanging over his presidency.

By

U.S. Politics

Golden Globe Awards: The winners list

CNN

(CNN) – The 74th Golden Globe Awards were held Sunday.

Here’s a look at who was in the running. Winners are indicted with an asterisk (*) and “WINNER”:

Movies

Best Motion Picture – Drama
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight” *WINNER
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
“20th Century Women”
“Deadpool”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“La La Land” *WINNER
“Sing Street”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Amy Adams – “Arrival”
Jessica Chastain – “Miss Sloane”
Isabelle Huppert – “Elle” *WINNER
Ruth Negga – “Loving”
Natalie Portman – “Jackie”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea” *WINNER
Joel Edgerton – “Loving”
Andrew Garfield – “Hacksaw Ridge”
Viggo Mortensen – “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington – “Fences”
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Colin Farrell – “The Lobster”
Ryan Gosling – “La La Land” *WINNER
Hugh Grant – “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Jonah Hill – “War Dogs”
Ryan Reynolds – “Deadpool”
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening – “20th Century Women:
Lily Collins – “Rules Don’t Apply”
Hailee Steinfeld – “The Edge of Seventeen”
Emma Stone – “La La Land” *WINNER
Meryl Streep – “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water”
Simon Helberg – “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Dev Patel – “Lion”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – “Nocturnal Animals” *WINNER
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Viola Davis – “Fences” *WINNER
Naomie Harris – “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman – “Lion”
Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea”
Best Animated Feature Film
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini’
“Sing”
“Zootopia” *WINNER
Best Director
Damien Chazelle – “La La Land” *WINNER
Tom Ford – “Nocturnal Animals”
Mel Gibson – “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan – “Manchester by the Sea”
Best Screenplay
Damien Chazelle – “La La Land” *WINNER
Tom Ford – “Nocturnal Animals”
Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan “Manchester by the Sea”
Taylor Sheridan – “Hell or High Water”
Best Original Score
“Moonlight”
“La La Land” *WINNER
“Arrival”
“Lion”
“Hidden Figures”
Best Original Song
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – “Trolls”
“City of Stars” – “La La Land” *WINNER
“Faith” – “Sing”
“Gold” – “Gold”
“How Far I’ll Go” – “Moana”
Best Foreign Language Film
“Divines” – (France)
“Elle” – (France) *WINNER
“Neruda” – (Chile)
“The Salesman” – (Iran/France)
“Toni Erdmann” – (Germany)

TV

Best TV series – Drama
“The Crown” *WINNER
“Game Of Thrones”
“Stranger Things”
“This Is Us”
“Westworld”
Best performance by an Actor in a TV series – Drama
Rami Malek – “Mr. Robot”
Bob Odenkirk – “Better Call Saul”
Matthew Rhys – “The Americans”
Liev Schreiber – “Ray Donovan”
Billy Bob Thornton – “Goliath” *WINNER
Best performance by Actress in a TV series – Drama
Caitriona Balfe – “Outlander”
Claire Foy – “The Crown” *WINNER
Keri Russell – “The Americans”
Winona Ryder – “Stranger Things”
Evan Rachel Wood – “Westworld”
Best TV series – Musical or Comedy
“Atlanta” *WINNER
“black-ish”
“Mozart In The Jungle”
“Transparent”
“Veep”
Best performance by an Actor in a TV series — Musical or Comedy
Anthony Anderson – “black-ish”
Gael Garcia Bernal – “Mozart in the Jungle”
Donald Glover – “Atlanta” *WINNER
Nick Nolte – “Graves”
Jeffrey Tambor – “Transparent”
Best performance by an Actress in a TV series – Musical or Comedy
Rachel Bloom – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”
Sarah Jessica Parker – “Divorce”
Issa Rae – “Insecure”
Gina Rodriguez – “Jane the Virgin”
Tracee Ellis Ross -“black-ish” *WINNER
Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
“American Crime”
“The Dresser”
“The Night Manager”
“The Night Of”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” *WINNER
Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Riz Ahmed – “The Night Of”
Bryan Cranston – “All The Way”
Tom Hiddleston – “The Night Manager” *WINNER
John Turturro – “The Night Of”
Courtney B Vance – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Olivia Colman – “The Night Manager” *WINNER
Lena Heady – “Game Of Thrones”
Chrissy Metz – “This is Us”
Mandy Moore – “This is Us”
Thandie Newton – “Westworld”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Sterling K Brown – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Hugh Laurie – “The Night Manager” *WINNER
John Lithgow – “The Crown”
Christian Slater – “Mr. Robot”
John Travolta – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Felicity Huffman – “American Crime”
Riley Keough – “The Girlfriend Experience”
Sarah Paulson – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” *WINNER
Charlotte Rampling – “London Spy”
Kerry Washington- “Confirmation”
U.S. Politics

Conservatives Are CRYING After Meryl Streep DESTROYS Trump In Golden Globes Speech (VIDEO)

poses in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.

Actress Meryl Streep received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 8, 2017 ©Kevin Winter (GETTY/AFP)

ADDICTING INFO

Republicans are in for a long four years if they think progressives like Meryl Streep are going to stay silent. Moments after giving her impassioned speech against Donald Trump (in which she never mentioned his name), conservative Twitter erupted in outrage.

And boy is it pathetic.

Take Tomi Lahren, the new blonde mouthpiece for the right-wing:

In Tomi’s mind, Meryl Streep – who used her platform to advance free speech and a free press – doesn’t know about hardworking, averag America. But Donald Trump, a guy who was born a millionaire, attended a private military school, and lives in a gold-plated penthouse, does.

Tomi seemed to miss the part where Meryl Streep named a plethora of celebrities in the room and paid tribute to their humble backgrounds – the backgrounds they had before they made it big. Isn’t that what conservatives claim to fight for? One’s ability to rise from the bottom to the top through hard work?

I guess it only counts if you’re, say, Scott Baio or Ted Nugent.

Lahren then went off on a Twitter tangent accusing Hollywood liberals of being “snowflakes” even though Lahren was the one who was triggered by Streep’s “insults.”

Then there’s Meghan McCain, another blonde mouthpiece:

Again, this conservative seems to miss the point: Streep advocated for respect, free speech and a free press. So is McCain – who’s a member of the press – insinuating that that the tenets that Streep is fighting for is what got Trump elected? Because if that’s so (which it isn’t), McCain missed the entire point of the speech (hint: she did).

Perhaps Meghan would have felt differently if Streep brought up how Trump mocked her dad for being a POW.

And, in all honesty, if Streep’s speech was that traumatic that it drives right-wingers to the polls, they are way more fragile than the “snowflakes” Tomi Lahren decries.

Democrats get called “baby killers” all the time by the right yet we move on and actually get stuff done, not complain on Twitter.

Radio host Tim Young had this to say:

Sorry, Tim, there’s nothing admirable or acceptable about a billionaire orange man mocking  disabled person to pander to poorly-educated voters.

Conservatives are mad that a Hollywood entertainer called a fellow Hollywood entertainer. They can’t slam Streep for being a member of Hollywood without looking like a bunch of hypocritical fools.

Tonight exposed the right as the overly PC, overly sensitive hypocrites we always knew them to be.

Simply put, conservatives were triggered. Someone dared to call out and challenge their dear leader, and they don’t know how to react. Perhaps these commentators are in need of a safe space? Congratulations, Meryl Streep, you managed to make conservative Twitter explode into millions of tiny, self-absorbed, out of touch snowflakes.

Here’s the awesome speech that started it all:

Ryan Denson

U.S. Politics

Did Putin help elect Trump to restore $500 billion Exxon oil deal killed by sanctions

Russia’s $500 billion oil deal with Exxon was killed by U.S. sanctions. No doubt coincidentally, drilling In the Russian Arctic would be easier if warming-driven sea ice melt continued. CREDIT: Wall Street Journal, 9/11/2014.

THINK PROGRESS

Follow the money: Will Trump repay Putin by ending Russian sanctions and killing the Paris climate deal?

The “Russian hack news … is delegitimizing,” explained former George W. Bush speech writer David Frum in a recent article. The conservative Frum was famous for authoring Bush’s controversial “axis of evil” speech about the danger posed by Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

But it appears our democracy and our children have a new axis to worry about: Putin, Trump, and ExxonMobil, whose CEO Rex Tillerson — an extreme Russophile and long-time director of a US-Russian oil company — is Trump’s puzzling choice for Secretary of State.

I say “puzzling” because the long-serving Exxon employee (from age 23!) has no qualifications to be secretary of state — other than a history negotiating major oil deals with countries like Putin’s Russia, which in any sane world would actually disqualify him or at least force a recusal from all State Department dealings with Russia.

But that puzzle disappears if we follow the famous dictum from the Watergate era for uncovering a tangled web of covert campaign acts: “Follow the money.” And perhaps another puzzle is also solved: Why did Putin take such a “fearful risk,” as Frum put it, to “mount a clandestine espionage and disinformation campaign on behalf” of Trump and against Clinton, “when Putin had every reason to expect that he probably would end up facing a President Clinton,” and a tremendous backlash.

You can certainly make a plausible case, as U.S. intelligence agencies do in their bombshell new report, that Putin had plenty of motivation to interfere. He wanted to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. elections and a Clinton Presidency, he blamed Secretary Clinton for “inciting mass protests against his regime,” and he was angry with the U.S. for the Panama Papers leaks. Those leaks showed a $2 billion trail of offshore accounts and deals that traced back to Putin and his cabal of kleptocrats, who, among other things, were getting rich “trading shares in Rosneft,” Russia’s state-owned (i.e. Putin run) oil monopoly.

But a half trillion dollars to line their pockets and prop up the Russian economy offers a much more tangible motivation for team Putin to get Trump elected. And it was Tillerson who had made the $500 billion oil deal with Putin that got blocked by sanctions.

Blocking the deal did not just “put Exxon at risk,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained last month the biggest oil deal in history was “expected to change the historical trajectory of Russia.”

Joe Romm

U.S. Politics

Let’s call ‘fake news’ what it really is: propaganda

Allow me to introduce you to Joeseph Goebbels … er, Steve Bannon – Getty Images

DAILY KOS

Breitbart, Fox News, Alex Jones, and countless other conservative websites practice propaganda—or what is now called “fake news.” Of course you would not know that it’s propaganda because the mainstream media refuses to call it what it really is. Most of us (myself included) had never heard the term fake news until an innocent business targeted by the purveyors of this “fake news” created a wild fantasy, a hoax story that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex abuse ring from the basement of a D.C. pizza parlor. This was not fake news: it was propaganda.

propaganda

[prop-uh-gan-duh]

noun

  1. Information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to helpor harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
  2. The deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
  3. The particular doctrines or principles propagated by anorganization or movement.
If you look at the definition, it’s clear that the reports of a child abuse ring run by the Democratic presidential nominee from the basement of a pizza parlor certainly fit the very definition of propaganda (if not absolute insanity—seriously, who in their right mind could possibly believe this?)
 ______________________________
The first reports of the term fake news and the whole bizarre pizza parlor/child abuse ring brought to mind a very specific time during my stint in the Army. In 1987, when I was stationed in Wildflecken, Germany, I was put on a detail to paint the mess hall. We had to work nights, as we could not close the mess hall down during the day. It sounds like a shitty detail, but it really wasn’t—it got me out of going to Hoensfel for training, it wasn’t hard work, and the cooks and bakers took care of us as the mess hall was closed at night while we were working. I think I may have put on five pounds, they fed us so well.
Wildflecken was on a mountain, and being on on “The Rock” we could pull in a lot of radio stations due to our elevation. The one that played the best music happened to be the Soviet version of Radio Free Europe. The name of the station is lost to the sands of time (I cannot even find mention of it on the web).
During our eight-hour shift we would listen to the Soviet spin on the news of the Western world in between AC/DC, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and other ‘80s-era rock/metal groups. The sergeant in charge of the detail did not have a problem with us listening to it, but the lieutenant wasn’t real happy about it. He would come in and change the station to some talk show or tape-delayed baseball game on AFN (Armed Forces Network). Then he would leave and we would change it back, knowing he was not going to stop by again that evening.
The announcers spoke impeccable, accent-free English. Most of what they said was laughable, but some of it—the truth was twisted just enough to make it believable. This was before the Internet so we could not just look it up on our phone. AFN radio at that time of day was not running news, so we had to wait until we got off duty and then watch AFN’s feed of CNN to verify what we heard the night before.
One of the key things this propaganda station would do was attack the U.S. and European press—most notably the Washington Post, New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune—as nothing more than mouthpieces of the capitalist governments of the West.
The Soviet propaganda shared quite a bit with “fake news.” It demeaned the mainstream western media. It then took real news and twisted it around just enough to make it fit their framing and their objective, which I assume was to undermine support for NATO and the United States’ presence in Western Europe. As an example, they would use a bank robbery in some podunk town in Kansas as proof that the underclass was forced into robbing banks to feed themselves. They made the bank robbers out to be some sort of Robin Hood. Even at 20 years old, I knew that was a bit of a stretch.

The Soviets were not the only ones to push propaganda. Who can forget Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, aka Baghdad Bob:

 

This is why it’s so disturbing to see the likes of Steve Bannon on Donald Trump’s staff. He runs what amounts to a propaganda website. The items his website publishes are often based on reality, twisted just enough to make them believable—but they are often far from the truth. This feeds the other Internet trolls like Alex Jones, a man who just makes shit up. There is no pretense of reality in anything he puts out.

It has been said that a lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.* Hillary Clinton is crooked, Hillary broke the law, Hillary is a child molester, Hillary cannot be trusted, and so on. How many times over the last 30 years have we heard that the Clintons are horrible people?

How many times have they been investigated, with nothing resulting from those investigations? The GOP went so far as to go on a fishing expedition led by Ken Starr that could only come up with the fact that the president got a blow job. Yet even those on the left view the Clintons with suspicion, all because of years of lies and propaganda—and an all-too-willing media that has been reinforcing the misinformation for 30 years.

When I see and hear Trump and his surrogates speak, I am reminded of that summer of 1987 and listening to Soviet propaganda, the demeaning of the press, and outright lying. It is not “fake news.” It is propaganda, and we should start calling it what it is.

Now I know some of you will come into the comments on this post and say that the U.S. government has practiced propaganda for years, and I‘m not denying that. What’s new here is lying, propaganda, and disparaging of the mainstream media at levels that the world has not seen since Joseph Goebbels. Just imagine what he would have been able to accomplish with a platform like Twitter …

*I have no idea who really said this: Goebbels, Lenin, Hitler, or the half-dozen other folks who have been given credit for it.

By Mark E Andersen

U.S. Politics

Trump’s Cabinet picks undergo grueling prep for hearings

170107-steven-mnuchin-getty-1160.jpg

Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Treasury Department, is one in a group of billionaires among the president-elect’s Cabinet nominees. | Getty

POLITICO

Senators’ pet causes and even the price of milk are part of mock drills.

They call them “murder boards” for a reason.

Seated beneath bright lights that mimic the conditions of a camera-packed hearing room, President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks are being put through hours-long mock confirmation hearings this weekend to prepare for the Senate grillings that may decide their fates.

Numerous murder-board sessions are being run in anticipation of one of the most consequential weeks for the Trump transition: Nine of the president-elect’s Cabinet picks, many of whom have no federal government experience, will face Senate questioning this week — including from hostile Democrats eager to score points on everything from the president-elect’s admiration of Vladimir Putin to the candidate’s wealth and potential conflicts-of-interest.

The idea is to replicate the high-pressure environment of a televised hearing where senators may lob questions in rapid succession about arcane and awkward topics in an effort to trip them up. A room on the sixth floor of the team’s downtown D.C. headquarters has been transformed into a mock Senate hearing room, with staffers playing the senators on relevant committees and a countdown clock to ensure candidates keep their answers short, according to several transition officials. Those officials asked for anonymity to describe the preparations for the upcoming confirmation hearings out of fear of violating the transition team’s strict non-disclosure agreements.

“The president-elect has put together the A-team of a Cabinet, and it’s our job to do everything we can to get these people through the process, despite the Democrats’ obstruction,” said Sean Spicer, incoming White House press secretary.

Asked how many mock confirmation hearings each nominee is doing, another transition official said, “Enough to be perfect.”

Indeed, high-level transition staffers worked all day Saturday on confirmation hearing prep, many not filing out of the office until 6:30 or 7 on a wintry D.C. evening. Rick Dearborn, who will be Trump’s deputy chief of staff and has run the transition day to day, masterminded much of the prep.

While many of Trump’s choices may be used to speaking in front of corporate boards, they have never testified before Congress, where lawmakers can trap novice nominees with in-the-weeds questions about appropriations and obscure federal programs.

Transition staff members are schooling them on the pet causes of key senators, anticipating, for instance, that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa will ask about home-state issues like ethanol.

And they’re coaching the nominees how to respond to questions that could come up about some of Trump’s most outlandish public statements and tweets. “Everything is fair game,” one transition official said.

Sensitive about the number of billionaires among Trump’s Cabinet picks, including Betsy DeVos for education, Steven Mnuchin for Treasury and Wilbur Ross for commerce, the team is even prepping nominees for questions on quotidian transactions like the price of milk or a gallon of gas — fearful the billionaires might seem out of touch if they stumble in their answers.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for attorney general and the first to face a Senate panel, is spending Sunday in the mock hearing room to prep for his hearing Tuesday before the Judiciary Committee — the same body that sank his nomination to be a federal judge 30 years ago amid allegations of racism.

Although his two decades in the Senate are expected to make Sessions’ confirmation a slam dunk, neither he nor the transition team is leaving anything to chance.

They’ve spent the past several weeks lining up well-known African-Americans to vouch for the Alabama Republican, including President Barack Obama’s former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and one of Alabama’s highest-ranking Democratic lawmakers.

Chuck Cooper, a former assistant attorney general in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department and a prominent Supreme Court litigator, is helping Sessions prep. Sessions has participated in multiple mock hearings since Trump announced his appointment on Nov. 18, even staying in Washington over the Christmas holiday to prepare.

“I think it’s fair to say they’re doing their homework,” a transition official said. “They’re going to class and listening and learning. I think you’ll see those lessons applied.”

Nominees with zero government experience like Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil and Trump’s pick for secretary of state, are receiving advice from insiders who’ve worked within the agencies they may soon lead.

Tillerson, for example, is being briefed by former State Department official and transition team landing team member Erin Walsh, who used to work for Goldman Sachs. Walsh did not respond to a request for comment.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for CIA director, has been meeting with a small, tight-knit prep team, including Geof Kahn, a former CIA analyst and policy director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, according to a source close to the transition. Kahn did not respond to a request for comment.

Pompeo’s hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is scheduled for Wednesday, the same day as hearings for DeVos, Tillerson, Sessions and Elaine Chao for transportation.

The following day should be almost as hectic, with hearings for Ross, Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for defense.

Trump’s candidates also held more than 50 meetings with senators and their staffs last week alone, while a senior transition official estimates that the team has done roughly 40 murder boards for all of the Cabinet picks.

Transition officials tasked with shepherding the nominees through the process are relying on those meetings — and committee questionnaires — to determine which issues senators are likely to focus on at the hearings.

They’ve used that information to write dozens of sample questions, which are being thrown at each nominee during the murder boards.

Trump’s team has recruited dozens of public relations veterans and policy experts with experience in the Senate to help prepare the nominees. But the transition team has barred lobbyists from sitting in on the mock confirmation hearings at transition headquarters, one official said.

Most of the nominees are expected to have only one formal mock confirmation hearing, while higher-profile nominees, like Tillerson and Mnuchin, will have multiple sessions.

Transition officials say they are confident Trump’s nominees will be confirmed despite opposition from many Democrats.

“There’s a wing of the Democrat Caucus that’s more interested in politics than policy right now, but they’re not the majority,” said a transition official.

and