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Monday, February 19, 2018

MSNBC Journal, Feb 17, 19

Sat Feb 17
Here’s something I missed yesterday. Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker was interviewed on PBS News Hour by Judy Woodruff. He is the guy who took down Harvey Weinstein. He wrote a recent article about the affair Trump had with Playmate Karen McDougal shortly after Barron’s birth. McDougal would be more forthcoming, but she is afraid of legal consequences. Of course, Trump says it’s fake news. 

Mon Feb 19
All In
The big news bomb broke Friday. This President’s Day, 3-day weekend, has been more about processing all of that Friday news. Trump went on a tweet storm on Saturday, attacking just about everyone, including Barak Obama, H. R. McMasters, and Oprah Winfrey. Everyone, that is, except Russia and Putin. He continued to claim that the indictment exonerates him, which it doesn’t. He spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, but refrained from golfing on Saturday and Sunday due to the High School shooting. Those kids, being the generation that really knows how to milk the media, are threatening the NRA with the ultimate weapon of their mass destruction…the vote. And they are doing a great, eloquent job of it.
Trump blamed the FBI for missing the tips about the gunman, saying they spent too much time investigating the Russia thing. But the fact is, the Russia investigation involves one department of the FBI, and tracking weirdos involves another.
A guy on Fox News said that it was the Dems and the media that are creating chaos in the US with this false Russia narrative. Chris Hayes said that the ad was sponsored by RT. That makes sense, but he didn’t say how he knows that, and why did Fox run it?
Trump tweeted that Obama had the opportunity to do something about what he knew, but did nothing. The fact is, he wanted to warn the American people, but Mitch McConnell blocked it. Then he warned Putin to his face and said, we know what you are doing, knock it off. Some think that is why the Russian hackers backed away after they penetrated our voter registration data bases. But they didn’t entirely stop, so he imposed sanctions, kicked a bunch of people out of the US, and took back to large buildings that had been used for spying. Trump knows all that. The whole Russia collusion issue was for Russia to get relief from Obama’s sanctions. Trump’s tweets are the epitome of twisted, self-interested politics at its worst. Joe Biden said that McConnell’s block was a deliberate strategy for the GOP to benefit from the meddling.
Adam Davidson, The New Yorker:  This weekend, Trump seemed more than the usual state of being unhinged.
In 2013, Cronies of Putin were encouraging Trump for his plans to run for president. But plans go back as far as 2011. Russia was actually the springboard from which he launched his run. These relationships will be clarified in days to come.
The WP spoke to the guy who worked at the troll farm. You have say that black is white and white is black. “Americans aren’t used to this kind of trickery. They live in a society in which it’s accepted to answer for your words.” [He is saying that in Russia you can say anything fraudulent and get away with it.] A reminder of Adrian Chen’s article in 2015, in which he predicted that Russia is targeting conservatives to elect Donald Trump after he visited the troll farm.
Adrian Chen, The New Yorker:  At the time he thought it was a joke, and thought the strategy was too crazy to take seriously. The English department isn’t 100% perfect. They make syntax errors. There are only 90 people in the American department. They could put out thousands of comments a day. He thinks that it’s still ongoing. He still has sources there. But he doesn’t think it’s that effective. The paranoia aspect may be more effective. Now we suspect people we argue with online to be bots or trolls.
Rosalind Heldman, WP:  They have 12 hr shifts, 20 computers in a room, shades drawn. They create fake arguments, have quotas on quotes and comments. There’s been a lot of news coverage of the Internet Research Agency. It’s been closely linked to the government. Not all employees or former employees think this is a good thing to do. Mueller did not indicate that there was a relationship between the Kremlin and the IRA.
President Buchanan has been considered the worst president in history, but today Trump is passing him up as being the worst. The NYT reported a chart put together by a bunch of political scholars, conducted by political science professors, who ranked all the presidents in the order of best to last. Starting at the top, it went Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt (F. D.), T. Roosevelt, Jefferson, Truman, Eisenhower, Obama (#8), Reagan, and L. B. Johnson. At the very bottom is Donald Trump. Democrat scholars put Trump last. Independents put him just above Buchanan. Republicans say he is one of the top 5 worst presidents ever. A. Johnson (impeached), Pierce, W. H. Harrison, and Buchanan were below him.
Today, PA got a new voting map drawn by the courts.
Also, there is another woman that Trump had an affair with who was paid to keep her story out of the headlines.
Megan Twohey, NYT:  Both had their affair with Trump shortly after Barron’s birth, both were paid over $100,000 to keep quiet. NYT and New Yorker reported about Karen McDougal. American Media, the parent company that owned the The National Enquirer, which was owned by a Trump ally, David Pecker, bought her story and killed it. It’s called “catch and kill.” Michael Cohen used hush money and intimidation to keep the women quiet. Both women had the same attorney, so that made it easier to negotiate. American Media claimed they couldn’t publish the story because they were unable to corroborate it. McDougal was frustrated after she struck the deal. She thought American Media wasn’t keeping its part of the bargain. Cohen has been covering up stories since 2015. During the campaign an entrepreneur came to Cohen with pictures of Trump standing next to “a buxom blonde” who was topless. Cohen threatened to destroy the guy. He steered him to David Pecker and American Media. Trump has had a lot of allegations of sexual misconduct, so it’s hard to know how many stories are out there that haven’t come out.

No interruptions in the news cycle these days.
January 25, 1984 Ronald Reagan said in a speech in the State of the Union address that the government was going to take a stand against family violence. An abused wife named Charlotte Fedders wrote Reagan about her husband, who worked for the administration in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an enforcement officer. He was intimidating at 6’ 10’’. Her letter got to the WH counsel. The WH did nothing. So her sister pushed it further and got the counsel on the phone, describing in detail the injuries she witnessed on her sister. “He said, ‘The president would never knowingly keep a spouse abuser in a top administration job.’ But at this point, he said it was a private dispute…” The WH still did nothing. A year later, that story made it to the front pages of the WSJ. The wife described the violence. He blew up over an $80 bill over a marriage counselor. Others saw the bruises. She claimed that in 1981, he tried to throw her over a banister. The sons described the incident. On Jan 24, 1985, the WH defended John Fedders and said he was doing a great job and was not being asked to resign. But when it hit the headlines on January 25, 1985, he resigned. He admitted he abused her, but said he was not a wife beater. Yes, he was violent, but never meant to hurt her. [That is so classic!]
Here’s a mini bombshell:  there was a reminder of the Andy Pudzer incident. He was on track to be the new Secretary of Labor, but his wife had claimed that he was abusive. She said so on an Oprah Winfrey show years before. The tape for some reason was missing, so he stayed on track for the position. It was not the Oprah Winfrey Show that found the tape a month later. It was Charlotte Fedders, who was on the same show! She gave her personal copy of the tape to the paper. Recently, she brought that tape out again in the Trump administration.
WP said this weekend that a WH source told the reporter that there were so many scandals assaulting the WH, that the shooting in Parkland gave them a “reprieve” from being pummeled by the press on a number of other issues. “When the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos.”
This week, the John Porter story is about to come roaring back. His situation exposed the fact that he was in his job for a year without a clearance. That led to all the others exposed as lacking permanent security clearances, including Kushner. Kushner issues more requests from the IC than any other WH employee. His meeting with the Chinese ambassador broke the law at several levels. During those days, Kushner was dealing with a Chinese insurance company about a joint venture in Manhattan: the redevelopment of 666 Fifth Ave. Last March he had a meeting with VEB bank. This is all worrying stuff about his status as someone exposed to the Daily Briefings. Now John Kelly has to deal with it. He wrote a memo that anyone’s clearance that has been pending since June will be discontinued. He wants it done by this Friday. That will put Kushner and Ivanka out of the WH. There could be a tidal wave of firings or resignations. Rachel: “I think this week’s going to be insane. Buckle up.”
The day that Paul Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign, he created a shell company called Summerbreeze, LLC on Aug 19, 2016. Not too long later, Summerbreeze got a $3.5m loan from the private lending unit of Spruce Capital, a small NY investment firm that has a Ukrainian connection. In Nov they got another one from Federal Savings Bank of Chicago for $9.5m. In January 2017, he got another for $6.6m from the same bank. These loans drew the attention of prosecutors in NY last summer. In the indictment, bank fraud was mentioned but wasn’t among the charges. This caused the bail package to fail. They say that to get those loans, Manafort gave some false information, doctored profit and loss statements from his company to the tune of millions of dollars. Why is this coming out now? NBC said that the LA Times is reporting that Rick Gates will testify against Manafort. Is that why we are seeing new allegations? These are not new charges, but are affecting the bail conditions.
Barbara McQuade:  New charges could happen. They want the judge to know that these are in the wind. The collateral that he has pledged for bail is stuff he may not own. The document said that the information is new, but it could be other sources. Maybe from Eric Schneiderman. The guilty plea of Gates could be under seal. Queen for a Day session. Plea offer. There are various routes to follow.
In 1971, a youth movement lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Nixon praised them in a moving speech. It brought about the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. It happened lightning fast. She talked about the kids who spent today lying in the street in front of the WH. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are organizing. There are some very eloquent kids in that school. [Ye gadz, some of them I would vote into the Senate or the House today.]  
Last fall Mike Pompeo was speaking at an event. He was asked if he was sure that the meddling did not affect the election. He said that the IC said that the meddling didn’t affect the election. He had to walk that back. That was Oct. but last week, Mike Pence said that it was the universal conclusion of the IC, that none of those efforts had any effect on the outcome of the election. This is the accepted view. NOPE! Not the accepted view. At least Pompeo walked it back when he was corrected by the IC. TRMS tried and tried to get ahold of him for comment, with no luck, but this weekend, Lavrov made a public statement noting that Mike Pence said it had no effect. Rachel:  “Sure he said that. It was a lie.”
Rachel can’t stand to watch the WH briefings. But tomorrow’s will be the first in a week. Kelly is expected to face a ‘furious press core.” She says she’ll get take out.

Last Word
Trump played golf today, just a few miles from Parkland. He is not defending our country. Trump has a narrow emotional range. He can’t show empathy for more than a few minutes, and has to be on script. If Rick Gates testifies against Manafort, he will get a substantial reduction in his sentence. Politico says that some conservatives are encouraging Trump to issue pardons immediately.

Martin J. Shiel, an IRS specialist, Criminal Investigation Division, fmr branch chief:   He says that there is a case here for fraud. It was secretive. He says several tax fraud crimes were committed. Karen Mc Dougal left a paper trail that is suspicious. This could be big.