Category Archives: IOKIYAR

‘Follow the (Russian) money’ – it’s always about the money

There were two key paragraphs in the Washington Post’s report from last Friday. Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say:

Although the case began quietly last July as an effort to determine whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian operatives to meddle in the presidential election campaign, the investigative work now being done by the FBI also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president. The people familiar with the matter said the probe has sharpened into something more fraught for the White House, the FBI and the Justice Department — particularly because of the public steps investigators know they now need to take, the people said.

And:

While there has been a loud public debate in recent days over the question of whether the president might have attempted to obstruct justice in his private dealings with Comey, whom Trump fired last week, people familiar with the matter said investigators on the case are more focused on Russian influence operations and possible financial crimes.

As I said, “This would explain passing references to the Treasury Department in recent reporting. This likely involves the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN.”

The Treasury Department and FinCEN are now in the news this week. CNN reports, Warner: Treasury has not fully responded to Senate Intel requests:

Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Tuesday that the Treasury Department has not fully complied with his committee’s requests for documents relevant to its probe into Russian meddling in the US election.

Likewise, Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter on Tuesday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requesting records of Trump businesses and any connections to Russia by June 2.

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Mike Pence’s ‘Sergeant Schultz defense’ does not hold up to scrutiny

After the “bombshell” reporting this week about what the Trump administration knew about Gen. Michael Flynn and when they knew it, Trump transition chairman Vice President Pence has his aids anonymously leaking to the press the Sergeant Schultz defense — “I know nothing!” — in an effort to separate himself from the Trump scandals (and to preserve his status as next in line of presidential succession).

We are now all supposed to believe that Trump transition chairman Vice President Pence, who was named to that post because he was supposedly the adult in the room who could herd the crazy cats  Trump brought with him to Washington, was entirely kept out of the information loop about Gen. Michael Flynn. We are all supposed to believe that Trump transition team lawyers never notified their client, transition chairman Vice President Pence, of information they received about Flynn. Riiight.

We are aslo supposed to believe that Mike Pence never read a newspaper article or watched a television news report about Michael Flynn, which was widely reported in the news at the time.

NBC News reports, VP Mike Pence Was Never Informed About Flynn: Source:

Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged wrongdoing, according to a source close to the administration, who cited a potential “pattern” of not informing the vice president and calling it “malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”

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Zombie ‘Trumpcare’ is not the health care Trump promised his voters

Here are two good breakdowns on how the Zombie “Trumpcare” bill is not at all the health care that our egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief and pathological liar Donald Trump promised voters during the campaign.

First, Phillip Bump at the Washington Post reports,  This is not the health-care bill that Trump promised (excerpt):

How does the American Health Care Act aka Zombie “Trumpcare” stack up to Trump’s January pledge?

Trump promised insurance for everybody.
The AHCA would probably result in 24 million more uninsured people by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the original GOP bill.

Trump promised lower “numbers” and lower deductibles.
The AHCA would probably have higher deductibles. The CBO anticipates that they will be higher under the AHCA than they would have been if the ACA were kept, thanks to a change in the actuarial values used in determining plan costs.

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AZ House GOP delegation votes to maintain the Trump swamp of conflicts of interest and corruption

Democrats have forced seven votes in as many weeks on the House floor on resolutions calling for Donald Trump’s tax returns, all of which were defeated along party lines. An eighth vote failed this week. House GOP rebuffs bill to release Trump tax returns and visitor logs.

Our Arizona House GOP delegation, including the local media’s invention of the mythical moderate Republican Rep. Martha McSally, have consistently voted to maintain the Trump swamp of conflicts of interest and corruption by rejecting any transparency and public disclosure.

The Arizona Daily Star reports, Capitol link: How members of Congress from Arizona voted on major issues:

Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns: The House on April 26 blocked, 234-191, a parliamentary attempt by Democrats to force floor debate on a bill now in committee that would require presidents and major-party presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns for the preceding three years. A yes vote was to quash the Democratic bid for disclosure. (H Res 275)

Yes: McSally, Gosar, Biggs, Schweikert, Franks

No: O’Halleran, Grijalva, Gallego, Sinema

Congressional Oversight of President Trump: Voting 230-193, the House on April 27 blocked a Democratic bid for floor debate on a measure now in committee that would start congressional oversight of ethics and conflict-of-interest issues involving President Trump, in areas ranging from the public disclosure of official visitor logs to overlaps between the president’s business holdings and official acts. A yes vote was to quash the Democratic measure during debate on H Res 280.

Yes: McSally, Gosar, Biggs, Schweikert, Franks

No: O’Halleran, Grijalva, Gallego, Sinema

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The GOP to smear Susan Rice to distract from Trump lies

I’ve posted about this previously, but it bears repeating: A review of the surveillance material flagged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes shows no inappropriate action by Susan Rice or any other Obama administration official, Republican and Democratic Congressional aides who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News. Susan Rice Did Nothing Wrong, Say Both Dems and Republicans:

Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees from both parties have traveled to NSA headquarters to review the relevant intelligence reports.

“I saw no evidence of any wrongdoing,” said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents, who would not agree to be identified further. “It was all completely normal.”

His assessment was shared by a senior Republican aide who had been briefed on the matter but declined to speak on the record.

The finding by lawmakers of both parties was first reported by CNN.

It was a fake “scandal” manufactured by the Trump White House to create a distraction in which House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes was a complicit participant. Ryan Lizza writes at the New Yorker, The Continuing Fallout From Trump and Nunes’s Fake Scandal:

Recently, several members and staffers on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s role in the Presidential election, visited the National Security Agency, in Fort Meade, Maryland. Inside the enormous black glass headquarters of America’s largest spy agency, the congressmen and their aides were shown a binder of two to three dozen pages of highly classified intercepts, mostly transcripts of conversations between foreign government officials that took place during the Presidential transition. These intercepts were not related to the heart of the committee’s Russia investigation. In fact, only one of the documents had anything to do with Russia, according to an official who reviewed them.

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Who knew? The ‘Gang of Eight’ knew – in August

The New York Times reports that the C.I.A. Had Evidence of Russian Effort to Help Trump Earlier Than Believed:

The C.I.A. told senior lawmakers in classified briefings last summer that it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president, a finding that did not emerge publicly until after Mr. Trump’s victory months later, former government officials say.

The briefings indicate that intelligence officials had evidence of Russia’s intentions to help Mr. Trump much earlier in the presidential campaign than previously thought. The briefings also reveal a critical split last summer between the C.I.A. and counterparts at the F.B.I., where a number of senior officials continued to believe through last fall that Russia’s cyberattacks were aimed primarily at disrupting America’s political system, and not at getting Mr. Trump elected, according to interviews.

The former officials said that in late August — 10 weeks before the election — John O. Brennan, then the C.I.A. director, was so concerned about increasing evidence of Russia’s election meddling that he began a series of urgent, individual briefings for eight top members of Congress, some of them on secure phone lines while they were on their summer break.

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