Trump’s toxic relationship with Deutsche Bank – What Mueller Didn’t Cover, But Congress Can – 8:51 PM 6/11/2019

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from The FBI News Review.

Trump family finances
First, recent reporting by the New York Times and ProPublica on Trump’s toxic relationship with Deutsche Bank over the same period of time that it facilitated the laundering of at least $10 billion worth of rubles would be a good place to start. The House Intelligence Committee’s subpoena of Trump’s records with the bank indicates that it agrees, but it would also do well to examine Jared Kushner’s accounts, which have also been identified in Russian transactions. In conjunction with the likely eventual release of Trump’s New York State tax returns and, in time, his federal returns, Deutsche Bank’s records should provide a much clearer picture of the president’s finances, obligations, and potential exposure to foreign influence. No other modern president has been at once so boastful and so secretive about his wealth, and certainly none in modern times have refused to release their tax returns. That Trump has attempted in the past to draw a red line around his personal and company finances might as well serve as a red blinking arrow to Congressional investigators who cannot be fired by the chief executive or controlled by his political appointees.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
What Mueller Didn’t Cover, But Congress Can

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Just Security.

The House Intelligence Committee hearings on the first volume of the Mueller report and the FBI’s underlying counterintelligence probe are scheduled to begin Wednesday with the testimony of two former senior Bureau officials and a former Assistant US Attorney. As one of these witnesses, Stephanie Douglas, has written of Russia’s election interference efforts in Just Security, “I am not sure there are many intelligence plans which work any better than this one.” The use of the present tense is unlikely to be accidental.

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mikenov on Twitter: The FBI News Review: Trump’s toxic relationship with Deutsche Bank – Wh… fbinewsreview.blogspot.com/2019/06/trumps…

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The FBI News Review: Trump’s toxic relationship with Deutsche Bank – Wh… fbinewsreview.blogspot.com/2019/06/trumps…


Posted by

mikenov
on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 12:53am

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: What Mueller Didn’t Cover, But Congress Can An understanding of the president’s finances and potential business ties to Russia prior to the campaign are a crucial starting point for understanding the scope of the Russian effort. Mueller didn’t give us that trumpandtrumpism.com/mike-novas-sha… pic.twitter.com/1ae4985lTZ

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What Mueller Didn’t Cover, But Congress Can
An understanding of the president’s finances and potential business ties to Russia prior to the campaign are a crucial starting point for understanding the scope of the Russian effort. Mueller didn’t give us that
trumpandtrumpism.com/mike-novas-sha… pic.twitter.com/1ae4985lTZ



Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 11:59pm

mikenov on Twitter


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What Mueller Didn’t Cover, But Congress Can

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Just Security.

The House Intelligence Committee hearings on the first volume of the Mueller report and the FBI’s underlying counterintelligence probe are scheduled to begin Wednesday with the testimony of two former senior Bureau officials and a former Assistant US Attorney. As one of these witnesses, Stephanie Douglas, has written of Russia’s election interference efforts in Just Security, “I am not sure there are many intelligence plans which work any better than this one.” The use of the present tense is unlikely to be accidental.

Despite its thoroughness in investigating certain aspects of Russia’s election interference, the Mueller report addresses only a narrow slice of a larger intelligence story that is still unfolding. President Donald Trump’s curious relationship with Russia did not begin with the Trump Tower Moscow deal and it has not ended with his inauguration—more or less the time frame analyzed in the first volume of the report. Chairman Adam Schiff’s committee’s oversite mandate certainly includes the activities and relationships described in volume one, but is not limited to them. There are many questions to be asked, therefore, not only about why Mueller framed his investigation as he did, but also about what he left outside of the picture entirely.

So what exactly are the potential lines of further inquiry for Congress to pursue?

Questions for Mueller

Mueller’s statement on May 29 that he would provide no new information to Congress beyond what he has already concluded in writing appeared to back-foot Democrats who had hoped to make his testimony the showpiece of their enquiry. They were naïve if their surprise was genuine. Over two years, the Mueller investigation was a model of professionalism, with prosecutors maintaining essentially absolute silence in the knowledge that even the smallest verbal misstep could undermine their final report. The notion that Mueller would now affirmatively embrace testifying in a politicized public forum, in which verbal missteps are easy to make, seemed improbable. Nevertheless, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has indicated that he may subpoena Mueller in the coming weeks or days, and his committee may not be the last to do so.

Volume one of the report raises numerous questions for which Mueller alone is the most appropriate witness, whether or not he feels able to answer. These questions include many of those proposed by the minority members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but their list is only the beginning.

As a threshold matter, Congress and the country require a clearer explanation of exactly why Mueller’s inquiry into Russian electoral interference took the form that it did—the narrow investigation of evidence of conspiracy in Moscow’s social media interference and hacking and release of Clinton campaign emails. Specifically, what Justice Department directives or other considerations led the Special Counsel’s Office to focus only on these facets of Russia’s electoral interference and Americans’ potential involvement in those particular activities, while overlooking other activities or referring them to FBI counterintelligence?

That line of questioning seems particularly acute when Mueller’s apparent lack of investigation into the finances of candidate Trump are compared with the special counsel’s extensive forensic analysis of Paul Manafort’s accounts. At its root, Russia’s election interference was an effort to aid and compromise the Trump Organization and campaign. Trump’s personal eagerness to solicit Russian help was damning, but not necessarily compromising at least insofar as it was out in the open. Trump’s personal finances are another matter. Just as Manafort’s business dealings put him at the center of both criminal and reportedly counterintelligence investigations, an understanding of the president’s finances and potential business ties to Russia prior to the campaign are a crucial starting point for understanding the scope of the Russian effort. Mueller didn’t give us that.

Unfinished Business

Opening the House Intelligence Committee hearings with an overview of counterintelligence more generally is a wise move. Schiff would do well to ask his witnesses to lay out clearly what such an investigation consists of, how it is predicated, and how its standards differ from those of a criminal prosecution. The committee should also elicit clear answers as to when and how information learned through counterintelligence can be legally used to establish criminal predicates. Finally, the witnesses’ testimonies will hopefully emphasize the importance of counterintelligence operations to national security regardless of whether they result in prosecutions.

Any counterintelligence inquiry, much less one into the President of the United States, risks both taxing Congress’ investigatory powers and creating the appearance of a partisan fishing expedition. For that reason, the Intelligence Committee must be able to clearly articulate, for itself and for the American people, its justifications for its subpoenas of witnesses and documents.

At least four substantial lines of inquiry easily satisfy that requirement without duplicating the work of the Mueller report.

Trump family finances

First, recent reporting by the New York Times and ProPublica on Trump’s toxic relationship with Deutsche Bank over the same period of time that it facilitated the laundering of at least $10 billion worth of rubles would be a good place to start. The House Intelligence Committee’s subpoena of Trump’s records with the bank indicates that it agrees, but it would also do well to examine Jared Kushner’s accounts, which have also been identified in Russian transactions. In conjunction with the likely eventual release of Trump’s New York State tax returns and, in time, his federal returns, Deutsche Bank’s records should provide a much clearer picture of the president’s finances, obligations, and potential exposure to foreign influence. No other modern president has been at once so boastful and so secretive about his wealth, and certainly none in modern times have refused to release their tax returns. That Trump has attempted in the past to draw a red line around his personal and company finances might as well serve as a red blinking arrow to Congressional investigators who cannot be fired by the chief executive or controlled by his political appointees.

Real estate

Second, the negotiations over Trump Tower Moscow and any other projects in the region involving potentially illicit finance deserve deeper scrutiny. Trump’s interest in Moscow real estate development dates to the late Soviet era, and his latest efforts must be understood as part of a long-term strategic campaign on both sides to court one another. Since the mid-2000’s, the Trump Organization has focused largely on foreign licensing deals and extensively targeted the former Soviet republics, largely with the assistance of figures such as Michael Cohen and Felix Sater. Trump pursued but failed to execute deals in Georgia, Latvia, and Kazakhstan. In Baku, Azerbaijan, a Trump tower went up, with the design closely overseen by Ivanka Trump personally and the Trump Organization evidently unconcerned that its partners on the ground were the close family of Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov, a man described in diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks as “notoriously corrupt even for Azerbaijan.”

One need not, however, license a tower in Baku to engage in corruption through luxury real estate. All-cash deals for overpriced properties is money laundering 101, a phenomenon Eric Trump is reported to have inadvertently described while bragging about Trump SoHo. “As the experience of the past few years shows, the best property buyers now are Russian,” he said. “They’re different in that they can go around without a mortgage loan from American banks, that require income checks and they can buy apartments with cash.” The journalist Craig Unger has identified numerous instances of Russian criminals laundering assets through Trump apartments and casinos since at least 1984, but notes, “no one has ever documented that Trump was even aware of any suspicious entanglements….”

The particular incarnation of Trump Tower Moscow at issue in the Mueller report is, of course, especially incriminating because it was contemporaneous with Trump’s campaign for president. Mueller’s conspiracy inquiry did not include within its scope any possible quid pro quo understanding that arose from these negotiations, but the timing is highly reminiscent of Russia’s apparent financial support offered to other populist movements such as Brexit, Marine Le Pen’s party in France, and Italy’s Lega Nord.

The vehicle for such support may well have been Genbank, which was prepared to support a visa application for a 2016 Trump visit. Arising swiftly from obscurity when it became a leading bank in Russian occupied Crimea, Genbank is under sanction by the Treasury Department. What’s more, the bank is partially owned by Evgeny Dvoskin, who was deported from the United States after pleading guilty in federal court to tax evasion charges. Dvoskin previously lived in Brighton Beach in much the same milieu as Sater.

As former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told ProPublica/WNYC in a recent podcast, “From a strictly counterintelligence perspective, these are exactly the sort of connections and historical overlaps that you look for when you’re trying to determine whether or not a person or an organization could be subject to foreign influence …. Why is it that there are so many … people who have official connections to sanctioned entities or banks in Russia who are interacting with the president, with his associates, with his family members. Have we ever seen that before …?”

Neither a quid pro quo relationship with the Kremlin nor corrupt financing arrangements or money laundering are necessary, however, for Trump’s behavior to pose a national security threat. His lies were probably sufficient. That a major party candidate was pursuing a sweetheart real estate deal with a foreign hostile power while seeking the personal support of that regime’s president is bad enough. Just as dangerous was the leverage given to Russia by the Trump Organization’s eagerness to come to an agreement while lying about it repeatedly to the American public. That President Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov was even in a position to lie to the American press on behalf of the U.S. president is deeply concerning and raises the obvious question of what else is being kept from the public.

Secret communication channels

Third, while Mueller’s report identifies several backchannels attempted between the Trump campaign and transition teams and Russia, the broader counterintelligence probe must also consider Trump’s relationship with Russia while in office. Although close congressional monitoring of the executive branch’s foreign policy deliberations is atypical, this is an atypical case of a president’s diplomacy constituting a potential intelligence threat.

Consider the case of Jared Kushner, who, according to the Mueller report when informed by Michael Flynn “that there was no secure line in the Transition Team offices,” asked Ambassador Kislyak, “if they could communicate using secure facilities at the Russian Embassy. Kislyak quickly rejected that idea.” That’s where the Mueller report leaves it, and where Congress can surely pick up the thread.

Any efforts by the president to establish further backchannels while in office should be examined alongside his practice of meeting with the Russian president without note takers. In January, the Washington Post reported that “US officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years.” The White House called this “outrageously inaccurate,” without denying its substance.

Political campaign

Fourth and finally, conspicuous by their absence from the report are the storylines of the National Rifle Association’s connection with Russian spy Maria Butina and of Cambridge Analytica’s potential connections to WikiLeaks and Russians. The latter has already been issued document requests by the House Judiciary Committee, but both are fundamentally matters of counterintelligence. Congress can and should investigate the roles these entities played in the 2016 election.

Volume One and the Investigation Moving Forward

Chairman Schiff has his work cut out for him both in ensuring that his committee does not descend into partisan hysterics and in finding suitable witnesses to address a complex counterintelligence investigation that has now occupied the FBI for several years. Whereas the Judiciary Committee’s hearings on obstruction perhaps suffer from the surfeit of evidence in the report—evidence both damning and quite clear, if not accepted as reality by many Republicans—much of the intelligence committee’s work will need to break new ground. On Wednesday, perhaps we will get a hint of how deep they think they can dig.

IMAGE: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

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mikenov on Twitter: #Joe: This Is The #Swampiest Of #Swampy #Administrations | #MorningJoe | #MSNBC youtu.be/hiLpuKrGTOs via @YouTube

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#Joe: This Is The #Swampiest Of #Swampy #Administrations | #MorningJoe | #MSNBC youtu.be/hiLpuKrGTOs via @YouTube


Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 11:21pm

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8 reasons why the Raiders are PERFECT for ‘Hard Knocks’

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Jon Gruden? AB? Vontaze Burfict? This could be the drama HBO has been looking for since Season 6 of “Game of Thrones.”

HBO is going with the clear-cut best option for Hard Knocks this year: the Oakland Raiders.

It was made official in June when the NFL announced a premiere date for August 6.

The Raiders have added big personalities to their to team that match the bravado of head coach Jon Gruden. Their new general manager spent the past two decades as a successful analyst on television. They have a ton of room to improve coming off a 4-12 season. This is also their last training camp in Oakland before they head to Las Vegas in 2020.

The Raiders were one of five teams not allowed to say no if selected. Even Washington head coach Jay Gruden, Jon Gruden’s brother, thought that the Raiders should be the Hard Knocks team (probably so Washington doesn’t have to do it).

Oakland has the right mix of drama and roster-building questions for Hard Knocks. Here are eight reasons why the Raiders are the perfect choice for HBO’s hit show.

1. Where do we sign for an unfiltered Antonio Brown?

The Raiders’ biggest move of the offseason was to acquire Antonio Brown in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown has had a memorable (if chaotic) offseason, to say the least.

He’s publicly discussed his turbulent relationship with Ben Roethlisberger, tweeted shade at former teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, and sported a blond mustache until he was traded to Oakland.

2019 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH - Arrivals
Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

It’s clear that Brown isn’t afraid of saying what’s on his mind, which is perfect for an unfiltered show like Hard Knocks. Brown will be playing for a new starting quarterback and head coach for the first time in his nine-year career. If Brown struggles to mesh with Derek Carr and Jon Gruden, we should hear plenty of it from the future Hall of Famer.

Brown might have hinted ahead of time of a Raiders’ Hard Knocks appearance on his Instagram. He recently uploaded an old picture of him standing with HBO Sports executive Peter Nelson.

View this post on Instagram

HBO HardKnocks

A post shared by Boomin (@ab) on

Now we’ll probably get a firsthand look at his annual outlandish training camp entrance. Last year, Brown showed up to Steelers camp in a helicopter — he might be looking to top that in his first year with the Raiders.

Even better, we’d get to see how Brown handles a longtime rival joining the Raiders.

2. Vontaze Burfict and Antonio Brown are reunited (TBD if it feels so good)

Vontaze Burfict is another familiar face that the Raiders signed this offseason. At first glance, the fit here makes a lot of sense. Burfict had his best years in Cincinnati under defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who holds the same title with the Raiders. While Burfict isn’t as dominant as he used to be, he should still be an upgrade for a defense that gave up the most points in the NFL last year.

However, Burfict and Brown have some unpleasant memories together. Burfict was suspended three games after he put a vicious hit on Brown that left him concussed during the 2015 playoffs. In 2017, Burfict claimed that Brown faked the concussion from that game. Last season, Burfict was fined $112,000 for unnecessary roughness after he threw his elbow into Brown’s helmet while Brown was being tackle by another Bengals defender.

Phew.

So far, the relationship between Brown and Burfict hasn’t been a problem for the Raiders. Gruden said that they were on the same team when the Raiders were playing their own version of Family Feud (please let us watch Brown and Burfict play Family Feud together).

That relationship might change when the pads go on for training camp, though. Training camp fights happen every year on Hard Knocks, and the history between these two has explosive potential. It could be the drama HBO has been looking for since Season 6 of Game of Thrones.

3. Oh yeah, Richie Incognito is in Oakland now too

Oakland recently signed guard Richie Incognito, who last played for the Bills in 2017, to a one-year deal. To put it mildly, Incognito has a checkered past with the NFL.

When Incognito was a member of the Miami Dolphins, he played a role in a harassment scandal that found him using racist and homophobic remarks toward a teammate and a trainer. After he initially retired from the NFL following the 2017 season, Incognito decided that he was going to unretire and come to Buffalo’s offseason workouts — except he never showed up and the Bills kept him on their reserve/retire list.

His brief retirement from the NFL was filled with other incidents. In May 2018, Incognito was involuntarily held for a psychiatric evaluation after an altercation at a gym in Florida. In August 2018, he was arrested for making threats toward a funeral home in Arizona. It’s possible Incognito faces suspension from the NFL for those events.

But the Raiders signed him anyway, after Mike Mayock said the team had “done a lot of homework” on him.

A Hard Knocks appearance will give Incognito the chance to speak on his journey back into the league.

4. We’d get an inside look on the working relationship between Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden

Hard Knocks will give viewers a front row seat to the Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden show. Mayock was hired as the general manager in December after spending the better of 20 years on TV. He’s most well known for being NFL Network’s lead draft analyst.

Mayock didn’t have any experience working for an NFL front office prior to being hired by the Raiders. Watching Mayock go from TV to overseeing the Raiders would bring fans insight on a side of the business they rarely get to see. More importantly, it would show exactly how much power Mayock has.

Gruden’s 10-year, $100 million deal obviously gives him a ton of sway within the organization, but Mayock and Gruden appeared to be on the same page during their first draft together.

Hard Knocks will give us an even better idea of how Mayock and Gruden are running the team. They’ve been two giants of football media over the years — now there’s a chance to actually watch them piece together a 53-man roster.

5. Oh yeah there’s football too, like the Jonathan Abram vs. Karl Joseph position battle

Abram was one of three first-round picks by the Raiders in the 2019 draft. He’s a classic box safety with a physical style of play. Coincidentally, that also happens to be the best spot for former first-round pick Karl Joseph, who is in a contract year. With Lamarcus Joyner locking down one of the safety spots, Joseph and Abram will be a prime training camp battle.

Joseph was on the trading block during the season, but it seems like Gruden is willing to give Joseph a chance to prove his worth this year.

6. Paul Guenther is trying to rebuild the Raiders’ defense

Oakland had a brutal defense last year. The Raiders gave up 29.2 points in the league, had just 13 sacks, allowed 36 passing touchdowns, and surrendered 6.3 yards per play; all four of those numbers were last in the NFL. Oakland added several players this offseason including Clelin Ferrell, Brandon Marshall, and Maxx Crosby to go along with Burfict, Joyner, and Abram.

Those pieces should help a bit, but Guenther still has his work cut out for him in his second year with the team.

7. Kolton Miller staying at left tackle over Trent Brown

The Raiders opened the league year by signing former Patriots left tackle Trent Brown to a four-year, $66 million deal. However, Brown will be moving back to right tackle for the 2019 season. Kolton Miller will be manning the left tackle spot for the Raiders after a disastrous rookie year. Inconsistent play and a lingering knee injury left Miller as the lowest-rated tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Brown has played well at right tackle in the past, but he’s coming off a career year at left tackle. Miller needs to improve by leaps and bounds to justify him protecting Derek Carr’s blindside instead of Brown.

8. Maybe we’d get a Marshawn Lynch appearance?

There’s a chance we might get to a fan favorite now that Hard Knocks is going to Oakland. Marshawn Lynch is reportedly retired again, but he said he would be open to returning to the Raiders if they needed him.

The last time we saw Lynch, he used the Al Davis torch to light a blunt prior to the Raiders’ home finale against the Denver Broncos.

Please HBO, bring Beast Mode back into our lives.


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Investigating The Investigators? Don’t Forget That Manafort Meeting

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from The National Memo.

Riddle me this: exactly how did the Deep State, anti-Trump conspirators in the FBI and CIA persuade Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to hand over sensitive internal polling data to a Russian spy? Not to mention, what did Konstantin Kilimnik do with it?

More to the point, how is Attorney General William Barr going to explain it away? Particularly in view of the fact that Manafort remains locked up in a federal slammer, having violated a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller for lying to investigators about that very thing.

Because if Barr can’t explain, then all of his weasel-worded insinuations about FBI “spying” on the Trump campaign stand revealed for what they are: the desperate rationalizations of a cunning political operative willing to play along with an absurd conspiracy theory concocted to appease Donald J. Trump and distract his fervid supporters.

According to hardcore Trumpists, see, the only real misconduct that took place during the 2016 presidential election was the Russia investigation itself: a hoax cooked up by a cabal of intelligence professionals directed by the Obama White House. A “coup” attempt, Trump calls it. He’s even used the word “treason,” as if he himself were the United States.

Hint: he’s not.

More excitable Trump cultists are even predicting election year show trials in 2020. Appearing recently on Fox News, longtime Trump associate Corey Lewandowski listed several high-ranking FBI officials he expected to see indicted, especially former director James Comey for “crimes…against the Fourth Amendment.” Whatever those are. He also mentioned former CIA director John Brennan and national intelligence director James R. Clapper, Jr.

Can we pause for a moment here to observe that the U.S. government purging its own intelligence agencies would be a fulfillment of Vladimir Putin’s dreams? Such a spectacle could only make the one-time KGB agent and Russian dictator nostalgic for the Soviet Union’s glory days.

But back to Trump campaign director Paul Manafort’s secretive meeting with Kilimnik, the Russian spy, which deputy campaign manager Rick Gates also attended. A longtime Manafort employee since the American consultant’s days working for pro-Russian Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych, Kilimnik flew in from Moscow.

Hardly, then, a casual get together. They referred to Yanukovych, deposed and exiled to Russia, in coded messages as “the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar.” The meeting took place at the height of the campaign on August 2, 2016 in the Grand Havana Room, a penthouse cigar bar with dramatic views of the Manhattan skyline, very near Trump Tower.

Tellingly, all three left by separate exits.

According to the Mueller Report, they discussed a Ukraine “peace plan” Kilimnik had in mind, essentially a free hand for Moscow. He hoped Trump would endorse it, which, given the candidate’s repetition of Russian talking points about the occupation of Crimea, certainly seemed possible, although it never happened. (Media accounts of Manafort’s previous political work for Yanukovych led him to resign from the Trump campaign soon afterward.)

Only days before, Wikileaks had published the first batch of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee to great fanfare. Democrats blamed Russian hackers, an accusation U.S. intelligence agencies ultimately confirmed.

Manafort has never come clean about that Kilimnik meeting. Perhaps seeking a pardon from Trump, or possibly fearful of crossing the Russians, he has chosen prison—a standup guy if you learned your ethics from “Godfather” films.

The Mueller Report says bluntly that Manafort “lied to the Office [of Special Counsel] and the grand jury about the peace plan and his meetings with Kilimnik, and his unreliability on this subject was among the reasons that the district judge found that he breached his cooperation agreement.”

Even so, Mueller established that something else the three chums discussed in the Grand Havana Room was Trump campaign tactics for the so-called “battleground states” of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. In short, information useful for anybody planning an online disinformation campaign like the one Russian operatives successfully deployed.

Detailed internal polling would have been critical to any such effort. But Manafort lied and the Russians aren’t talking. So in the end, no conspiracy could be proved. For all the circumstantial evidence, the Mueller Report concluded that “because of questions about Manafort’s credibility and our limited ability to gather evidence on what happened to the polling data after it was sent to Kilimnik, the Office could not assess what Kilimnik (or others he may have given it to) did with it.”

That said, an innocent explanation for Manafort’s actions would be hard to imagine. But that’s not the point. Is there any way James Comey made him do it? Indeed, if they knew the facts, most Americans would think that it would be a dereliction of duty for FBI counterintelligence officers NOT to investigate.

Put Comey on trial? Not a chance.

William Barr may be an opportunist, but he’s not fool enough to volunteer to lose the trial of the century.

IMAGE: Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump’s national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S., June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


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All 13 USWNT goals vs. Thailand, ranked by rudeness

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Thirteen of ‘em. That’s not a typo.

The United States Women’s National Team owes France a debt, because it torched the pitch Tuesday in a 13-0 World Cup blowout against Thailand.

The onslaught was a thrill to watch. Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, and Lindsey Horan had the USWNT up 3-0 in the first 32 minutes, which seemed bad enough on Thailand.

Until it became much, much worse. The became deliciously rude. We’re talking about a good, old fashioned beatdown to open up the tournament for the Red, White, and Blue.

Let’s rank all 13 goals by rudeness.

13. Alex Morgan’s first of many goals.

We’re just getting warmed up here. It took just 11 minutes and change for this flawless exchange from Kelley O’Hara to Morgan.

Get comfortable reading this blog if you aren’t already. No, seriously lol.

12. Lindsey Horan’s goal, making it 3-0.

Horan punched this one in beautifully on the free kick, but there’s not too much rudeness to this one. Still fun to watch, though:

11. Lavelle’s first World Cup goal, in which she’s surrounded by four defenders and … it doesn’t matter. 2-0.

The keeper got mitts on it, but there’s no stopping this laser:

Better luck next time? Perhaps not.

10. Sam Mewis, who also introduced herself to the World Cup Stage to make it 4-0.

This goal gets a little more credit on the rudeness scale because of what happened before. Megan Rapinoe knew they were getting something out of the possession, but not before she had a little fun with the defender first:

9. One more for Mewis, and the touchdown.

6-0, after Lavelle almost got it done herself:

We’ll get to the extra point in a bit.

8. It’s Alex Morgan again!

Morgan probably could have just stood there and that one was going to go in. That’s a nickel for Team USA:

These are getting easier the later the game gets.

7. Lavelle gets another after Mewis cleaned up after her earlier, and the extra point.

The rudeness is ticking up a notch. The celebrations weren’t too loud yet by Team USA:

This is getting into Stop The Fight Territory. (OK, we were probably already there, but acknowledging a white flag is not nearly as fun).

6. Alex Morgan’s hat trick.

This was No. 8, making it the most goals by Team USA in a single World Cup game:

Eight goals? Pfffffffftt, OK.

5. The record-tying 11th by Mallory Pugh.

Setting records on your opponents is good and rude. Pugh executed it perfectly:

4. Back to Alex Morgan real quick … why stop at a hat trick?

Here’s Morgan’s fourth (USWNT’s 10th), at which point she had to start counting out her goals to keep track:

Champions tend to do such things.

3. Alex Morgan, again.

That’s five, and a single-game World Cup record:

Rapinoe just carrying Morgan around, and the dejected look of the fans in the crowd say it all.

2. Megan Rapinoe makes it 9-0, and the choreography is perfect.

There are a lot of dorks in the replies of the tweet below saying that this celebration is in bad taste. I’d argue that it’s not yet an acquired taste for them, because if you ask me, this is delicious:

1. Carli Lloyd getting on the board to make it 13-0.

If the World Cup is the only time you follow soccer, you fondly remember Lloyd for having arguably the best-ever performance in a World Cup final in 2015. She had a hat trick in 16 minutes to beat Japan. It was the stuff of legend.

Lloyd’s now 36, and not starting because of all of the other supreme talent that the USWNT keeps churning out. Up 12-0, Lloyd finally got her piece of the pie in the 92nd minute:

13 goals! 13! You can’t even get that many chicken nuggets at a fast food joint unless you’re getting some kind of party tray, upon which there are a million nuggets!

Mind you, this goal also came after many shots of an adorable child crying because the USWNT was absolutely laying it on Thailand. Sooooo rude.

The best part? There’s still plenty of soccer to be played. This World Cup will be fun.


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mikenov on Twitter: 5:22 PM 6/11/2019 – #Trumpworld #Insider: #Trump #Puffery ‘#All A #Lie,’ ‘#MakeBelieve’ | #TheBeat With #AriMelber | #MSNBC trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/06/11/522… … pic.twitter.com/fNx65zaZiQ

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5:22 PM 6/11/2019 – #Trumpworld #Insider: #Trump #Puffery ‘#All A #Lie,’
‘#MakeBelieve’ | #TheBeat With #AriMelber | #MSNBC trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/06/11/522…pic.twitter.com/fNx65zaZiQ



Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 10:43pm

mikenov on Twitter


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5:22 PM 6/11/2019 – Trumpworld Insider: Trump Puffery ‘All A Lie,’ ‘Make Believe’ | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC | Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions.

5:22 PM 6/11/2019 – Trumpworld Insider: Trump Puffery ‘All A Lie,’ ‘Make Believe’ | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC – Post Link

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Trumpworld Insider: Trump Puffery ‘All A Lie,’ ‘Make Believe’ | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC
 

From: msnbcleanforward
Duration: 11:44

Trump backs down after threatening Mexico tariffs but touts a “secret” deal to avert a crisis. A Mexico official exposes Trump’s bluff, declaring “no secret deal” was ever made. Ari Melber examines Trump’s history of creating a fake crisis and then falsely claiming to solve them. Michael Wolff, author of “Siege: Trump Under Fire” takes you inside Trump’s world of “make believe.”
» Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc


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mikenov on Twitter: 5:22 PM 6/11/2019 – Trumpworld Insider: Trump Puffery ‘All A Lie,’ ‘Make Believe’ | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/06/11/522…

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5:22 PM 6/11/2019 – Trumpworld Insider: Trump Puffery ‘All A Lie,’ ‘Make Believe’ | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/06/11/522…


Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 9:24pm

mikenov on Twitter


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Meghan McCain Talks to Monét X Change, Nina West and Adore Delano About LGBTQ Issues, Drag, and More in Hourlong Sit-Down: WATCH

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Meghan McCain sat down for nearly an hour with RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Monét X Change, Nina West and Adore Delano on an hourlong interview for The View.

The queens spoke with McCain about LGBTQ issues, the difference between drag queens and transgender people, being on the cover of New York magazine and the controversial article within, Drag Queen story hour, and much much more.

The post Meghan McCain Talks to Monét X Change, Nina West and Adore Delano About LGBTQ Issues, Drag, and More in Hourlong Sit-Down: WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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5:15 PM 6/11/2019 – Trump says CIA won’t spy on Kim Jong Un after half brother’s killing | Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions.

5:15 PM 6/11/2019 – Trump says CIA won’t spy on Kim Jong Un after half brother’s killing – Post Link

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ – on RSS Dog

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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠
Trump says CIA won’t spy on Kim Jong Un after half brother’s killing

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Feedburner.

President Donald Trump was asked on Tuesday about a Wall Street Journal report that Kim Jong Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s slain half brother, was a CIA source.

Trump said he had seen the story but that nothing like that would occur under his watch.

“I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspice that’s for sure,” Trump told a press gaggle before boarding the presidential helicopter.


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mikenov on Twitter: 5:15 PM 6/11/2019 – #Trump says #CIA won’t #spy on #Kim Jong Un after half brother’s #killing trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/06/11/515…

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5:15 PM 6/11/2019 – #Trump says #CIA won’t #spy on #Kim Jong Un after half brother’s #killing trumpandtrumpism.com/2019/06/11/515…


Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 9:17pm

mikenov on Twitter


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Skateboarding is for the birds

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THE BIRBS ARE TRYING THEIR BEST AND THEY’RE DOING GREAT, OK.

You know what sport has a ton of good video games, but very few in recent history? Skateboarding! You know what animals don’t get the credit they deserve for being floofy friends that have to work really hard? Birds! Naturally, ascribing to both of those beliefs means the perfect video game for me is one that combines the two.

Enter SkateBIRD.

Currently being crowdfunded by the fine folks at Glass Bottom Games, purveyors of fine indie video games like noir adventure Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora and blocky punch-em-up Spartan Fist (both of which I own and enjoy, by the way), SkateBIRD is an upcoming video game about skateboarding birds “who try their best.”


Via SkateBIRD’s kickstarter page

Other than being A CUTE CUSTOMIZABLE BIRB THAT SKATEBOARDS, the backstory is that you’re a lonely bird whose Big Friend (read as: hooman) has stopped skating due to life in general being a drag. But the more you skate, the more birb friends you get, and your tiny skatepark gets bigger and bigger.

Given I recently wrote about the overwhelming desire for EA to hurry up and announce Skate 4 already, I felt I absolutely needed to cover the REAL skateboarding game from E3. You know, the one that EXISTS. And as a bonus, it’s pretty dang fun already (there’s an alpha you can test out on the Kickstarter).

For disclosure purposes, I ABSOLUTELY backed this game as soon as I saw it on my Twitter feed and have enjoyed Glass Bottom Games’ offerings in the past, but that’s where any association ends! Floofy fun skating birbs can be yours as well if you head on over to the Kickstarter — the game is slated (if funded) to release on Windows, Mac and Linux, though the page suggests that other platforms are a possibility.

Plus, the dang Kickstarter page literally says the words “Tiny Hawk”. I mean, come on. If that ain’t worth your $15, I dunno what is.


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Trump says CIA won’t spy on Kim Jong Un after half brother’s killing

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Feedburner.

President Donald Trump was asked on Tuesday about a Wall Street Journal report that Kim Jong Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s slain half brother, was a CIA source.

Trump said he had seen the story but that nothing like that would occur under his watch.

“I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspice that’s for sure,” Trump told a press gaggle before boarding the presidential helicopter.

“I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un. I can’t show you the letter, obviously, but it was very personal, very warm, very nice letter,” Trump told the press. “North Korea, under his leadership, has great potential.”

Kim Jong Nam was killed with a nerve agent at an airport in Malaysia in February 2017. North Korea has been accused of orchestrating the killing but has officially denied any involvement.

Two women involved in the assassination told courts they believed they were involved in a prank game show during a long and bizarre trial that played out after Kim Jong Nam’s death.

CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip, who was at the press gaggle, confirmed to Business Insider that Trump was indeed saying he would not allow the US to use informants against North Korea.

Trump has a long history of attacking the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Notably, Trump sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference in Helsinki when he took Putin’s word that Russia had not meddled in the US elections.

This sent the CIA into “panic mode,” according to The Washington Post. Later, Trump retracted that statement, saying he misspoke.

Additionally, Trump has repeatedly accepted promises from Kim Jong Un that the intelligence community warned against. Famously, at their summit in Singapore, Trump took Kim at his word that North Korea would denuclearize.

So far, North Korea has taken no meaningful steps toward dismantling its nuclear weapons and infrastructure but has almost completely stopped the provocative missile and nuclear tests that brought the Washington and Pyongyang on the verge of war in 2017.


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mikenov on Twitter: Trump tells Kim Jong Un he won’t let the CIA spy on North Korea after an informant was killed businessinsider.com/trump-cia-wont…

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Trump tells Kim Jong Un he won’t let the CIA spy on North Korea after an informant was killed businessinsider.com/trump-cia-wont…


Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 8:51pm

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: Trumpworld Insider: Trump Puffery ‘All A Lie,’ ‘Make Believe’ | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC (msnbcleanforward’s…) michael_novakhov.newsblur.com/story/trumpwor… pic.twitter.com/v3Bt8c7PL9

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Trumpworld Insider: Trump Puffery ‘All A Lie,’ ‘Make Believe’ | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC (msnbcleanforward’s…) michael_novakhov.newsblur.com/story/trumpwor… pic.twitter.com/v3Bt8c7PL9



Posted by

mikenov
on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 8:44pm

mikenov on Twitter


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It’s too easy to forget Kevin Durant is a superstar, not a superhero

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He’s human, as is everyone else involved in this sad injury saga.

TORONTO — When Kevin Durant went down on the court early in the second quarter with an apparent Achilles injury, the first person I thought about was Kevin Garnett. When you cover a championship team you tend to view most things through the prism of that experience.

My mind was on KG because it was exactly 10 years ago when the spring of 2009 was dominated by questions about whether Garnett would come back from a knee injury to rescue the Celtics during their championship defense. His injury occurred in February when the Celtics were steamrolling through the league with a team that many in the organization considered a superior outfit to the 2008 championship squad.

The initial timeline was two to three weeks and Garnett gave it a go late in late March lasting only four games playing limited minutes. There were some optimistic signs of progress, but the C’s shut him down before the start of the playoffs.

Then-coach Doc Rivers went so far as to say that while it wasn’t officially official that KG would miss the postseason run, he didn’t see how Garnett could get back on the court. Garnett likely needed surgery, but it was put off on the slight chance that maybe, just maybe, he could return.

That faint hope took on a life of its own as the Celtics battled through an epic seven-game series with the Bulls and then prepared to take on the Orlando Magic in the second round. The Celtics were battered and bruised by that point. Those who were able to play were lauded for their guts and fortitude.

Garnett was a phantom at that point, present but not exactly visible. There was grumbling from some media quarters that Garnett wasn’t even sitting on the bench during games — didn’t he care? Every night there were whispers that he was going to to come back and those whispers built upon their own momentum until the question became: Why isn’t Garnett coming back?

A few weeks after the end of their season, Garnett had surgery to remove bone spurs from his knee. Playing on it would have been physically disastrous and ethically wrong. The moral of that story, and countless others, is that we really don’t know what’s going on medically with players. While we praise those who play through the pain, it’s worth remembering that another true sign of toughness isn’t gutting it out, but having the courage to say no.

Golden State Warriors v Toronto Raptors - Game Five
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The second person I thought about was Kawhi Leonard, who sat out almost an entire season and forced his way out of San Antonio over a disagreement regarding a quad injury. Like KG and KD, Kawhi took a raft of shit over his decision to withhold his playing services.

Even some who would normally be considered player-friendly wondered what was really going on here? How could Kawhi turn his back on the organization that raised him and the teammates with whom he won a championship?

To this day you can surely find people who question whether Kawhi was really that hurt, as if they truly had his best interests at heart. On an emotional night in Toronto, Leonard offered the best summation of the situation with a reminder that the mental scars are just as real as the physical ones.

“What do I think about his situation? It’s devastating,” Leonard said. “Like you said, you work so hard to get to this point, these are the last games, you see him try to come out and push himself, but obviously he tried to do a move — and I feel bad for him. I’ve been in that situation before. I hope he has a speedy recovery, and just gets healthy and I hope that he’s going to be okay mentally, just throughout the whole rehab process.”

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

From the moment it was announced that Bob Myers would be addressing the media after Game 5, it was clear that this was no ordinary press conference. Choked up and struggling to maintain his composure, Myers took responsibility for Durant’s injury as the Warriors President of Basketball Operations.

“He was cleared to play tonight; that was a collaborative decision,” Myers said. “I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, but I understand in this world and if you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department. And to tell you something about Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong.

“And I’m not here to — he’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person, it’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him. I don’t know — I don’t have all the information on what really the extent of what it all means until we get a MRI, but the people that worked with him and cleared him are good people, they’re good people.”

This cuts to the heart of the situation. Durant risked his health and maybe his livelihood with the assurances of medical professionals that it would be ok. They are as responsible as Myers, and while it was laudable that he stood up and took the shots for everyone, there is still an untold story waiting to be revealed about how it came to pass that KD was allowed back on the court.

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors are far from the only responsible parties.

The Finals are an entity unto themselves. The press travels in a pack for two to three weeks, attending practices via interminably long bus rides, taking flights, staying in the same hotels, and eating meals together. Taken to a 7-game extreme, the Finals can last longer than the Olympics, but with far fewer diversions and characters to study.

The result is a highly-pressurized bubble where every move is dissected and every sentence scrutinized for telltale signs that only seem obvious in retrospect. If there wasn’t internal pressure on Durant to return, there was certainly no end of external prodding.

Even those who did worry about Durant’s health first wanted to see if he could rally his team from a 3-1 deficit, bringing this Warriors story full circle while allowing KD to claim his rightful place in their tale. He’d been vilified and ridiculed for joining the Warriors and “taking the easy way out.” Here was a chance to silence all that noise and reclaim the title as the best player in the world. How could that not affect Durant?

It would be nice if everyone suddenly got religion on athletes and injuries, but that’s not really the world we live in. Players are viewed not as human, but as superheroes, with their own narrative arcs that render the victors immortal. The vanquished are diminished, as if possessing a fatal character flaw that doomed their championship hopes. At the end of the day, they’re just people blessed with extraordinary skills.

“Sports is, it’s people,” Myers said. “Sports is people. I know Kevin takes a lot of hits sometimes, but he just wants to play basketball and right now he can’t. Basketball has gotten him through his life. So it means, I don’t know that we can all understand how much it means to him. He just wants to play basketball with his teammates and compete.”

Back in their locker room, the Warriors were wounded and hurt. Angry and agitated that this had reached the point where people were questioning Durant’s motives and motivations.

“Fuck them,” DeMarcus Cousins said for everyone. “Fuck them.”

2019 NBA Finals - Game Five
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Even with all that, the basketball somehow continues. The Warriors played valiantly without KD, maintaining a lead that carried them well into the fourth quarter. The Raptors finally made their move and had a title in their grasp, only to be denied by their own mistakes and the cold-blooded shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

“I just told the team I didn’t know what to say because on the one hand I’m so proud of them,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “Just the amazing heart and grit that they showed, and on the other I’m just devastated for Kevin. So it’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now. An incredible win and a horrible loss at the same time.”

Back we go to Oakland with a championship in the balance. Someone’s going to win this, but it will be hard to separate that moment from the image of Kevin Durant lying on the floor clutching his calf. In that moment, the Finals seemed like the least important thing in the world.


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