WTF Community

Day 526

Updated 6/29/2018 10:44 AM PDT

1/ Trump has been privately telling top White House officials that he wants the US to withdraw from the World Trade Organization. "He's (threatened to withdraw) 100 times," a person who's discussed the subject with Trump. "It would totally (screw) us as a country." Trump's economic advisers have pushed back when he raises the idea of withdrawing from the organization that regulates international trade. (Axios / CNN)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Superb break down on this story and all the moving parts. Well done @matt :clap::clap::clap:


It turns out that the FBI didn’t leak to the press, it’s the press that gave information to the FBI: the location of Manafort’s storage locker which the FBI then promptly searched. Hurray for the Free Press in the U.S. of A.!

Prosecutors with the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election pushed back at a court hearing Friday on claims that one of their own leaked information.

In an Alexandria, Va., federal court, FBI agent Jeff Pfeiffer testified that when Justice Department officials met with Associated Press reporters last April to discuss Paul Manafort, it was actually the law enforcement team that got something from the reporters — the fact that the longtime lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman had a storage unit.

This article is a great read since it contains insight into how both sides are maneuvering in advance of Manafort’s upcoming trials. For example, there’s this bit of courtroom drama:

[Judge Ellis] quickly shot down a suggestion from one of Manafort’s attorneys, Kevin Downing, that the case could be delayed or even dismissed over the leak issue.

“How can he have a fair trial when the press and media have so . . . saturated the populace here?” Downing asked.

“I’m not going to dismiss the case,” Ellis said sharply, cutting him off repeatedly.

Downing referenced former vice president Spiro Agnew, suggesting that he was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge of tax evasion in the 1980s because of government leaks in his case.

Ellis said that he accepted pleas only from defendants who admitted guilt and that he remembered the history differently.

Ellis added that he could still decide to hold a hearing on whether grand-jury material was improperly disclosed but that it would take place after the July 25 trial. He made clear that he would not delay the trial further unless required to for personal reasons. A change of venue is “really the only remedy,” he said, and only if Manafort shows it is necessary.

“You’ve used the word ‘saturated’ many times — prove it,” he said. “Leaks don’t determine a transfer.”

I hope there is not a change of venue since that might delay the trial. On the other hand, we don’t want the defense to later appeal on the grounds that Manafort did not receive a fair trail in this district due to public opinion. But good luck finding a district on this planet where the public doesn’t already hold strong opinions about Manafort.

The judge also wants the government to reduce its estimated length of the trial which is currently three weeks. That’s surprising to me because I thought money laundering trials could be very complex.


IMHO, this is a good thing. Flynn should not be let off the hook yet. More dirt on Trump is coming out every day so new developments may arise about which Mueller will want to grill Flynn. As long as Flynn has not yet been sentenced, he will be strongly motivated to be forthcoming.

Anyone know if Trump has the power to commute sentences? (I’m thinking about this separately from the power to pardon.) Maybe one reason that prosecutors don’t want to sentence Flynn yet is that Trump may immediately commute the sentence (without necessarily pardoning). That would send a strong message to Manafort, Cohen, etc. to dig in and refuse to cooperate. I’m convinced these guys don’t really care about being declared guilty or innocent – they just care about whether or not they’ll do time.


This could be a good omen vis-à-vis the upcoming Supreme Court nomination process. Somehow I doubt Flake would approve a very conservative pick for the court. Otherwise, how could he later show up for work at MSNBC? Viewers (including me) would boycott the network.


Yes…Flynn does seem slippery. He was caught in some initial lies and big ones too, like I never spoke to any Russians during the transition time on sanctions.

But when his judgement day/sentencing comes this will evoke I presume sheer terror on Flynn’s part, unless of course he gets the presidential pardon, and then he would have to testify what he knows after such a pardon.

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Thanks! I went back and updated a few WTF posts to make sure I had documented the various points for posterity. My fucking god does that look dirty.


@matt I’m with @Pet_Proletariatawesome detective work. I had glanced at that article earlier, but from the title it sounded like “soft news” and I was in a rush so I gave it a pass. Then you dug out that stunning reveal buried in the middle of the piece. Wow, just wow. How could we not have known about this deep-seated financial relationship between the son of a Supreme Court Justice and Donald Trump? I can’t figure out why that wasn’t the headline of this particular article and why that fact hasn’t been shouted from the rooftops since Trump was elected. This just reeks of the foul odor of corruption.


Yes @matt , great putting together those layers regarding the amounts of money exchanged and how much T owed, and how Justice Kennedy would likely be beholden to this relationship… This news was circulating a bunch late yesterday, and people were pointing to this Financial Times article - dated 8.30.17.

> The Big Read Donald Trump
> Donald Trump’s debt to Deutsche Bank

Looks like is highly protective of their articles, without incurring their wrath (read: cookies and they don’t want you to directly copy from their articles - up to 10 reads), I came across these paragraphs.

When Mr Trump was looking for capital in the mid-1990s, he found a good match in Deutsche. The German bank, dominant in its domestic market, was desperate to grow in the US. In particular, the bank saw a niche in serving rich developers who had hit a few bumps along the way, such as Harry Macklowe and Ian Bruce Eichner, both celebrated owners and losers of New York real estate.

A client like Mr Trump would be offered a choice of terms, according to a person familiar with the deals: an interest rate of, say, Libor plus 500 basis points with a guarantee, or Libor plus 800 without.

Deutsche’s key recruit was Jon Vaccaro from Citibank, who arrived as global head of commercial real estate in 1997. Other important figures for Mr Trump, over the years, were Mike Offit and Steve Stuart, a duo who joined from Goldman Sachs, and Eric Schwartz, a recruit from Moody’s who became the developer’s primary point of contact.

Some of the appointments gave Deutsche more clout in boardrooms and on the party circuit. Tobin “Toby” Cobb, formerly of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, is the son of two US ambassadors. Justin Kennedy, a trader who arrived from Goldman to become one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche, is the son of a Supreme Court justice. Mr Cobb, Mr Kennedy, Mr Stuart and Mr Offit could not be reached for comment. Through a spokesperson, Mr Schwartz and Mr Vaccaro declined to comment.

Deutsche’s big real estate push came against the backdrop of rapid growth in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market, which allowed the bank to lay off much of the default risk to outside investors.

The market had got going in the early 1990s, as banks blanched at lending without personal guarantees. But developers did not generally want to give them. The solution was often a non-recourse loan that the banks could package into CMBS for a fee. Deutsche became a keen underwriter.

And to add more layers…to which I can NOT verify, I just lifted it from someone’s FB feed, it also mentions both of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s son’s - Justin AND Gregory. My feeling about Kennedy’s departure may have to do perhaps with him wanting to leave prior to some “material” hitting the fan while he was Justice that would be embarrassing.

A FB feed that looks like it was derived from the FT article, and drew other bits of information about Gregory Kennedy as well from another source.

Re the timing of Justice Kennedy’s exit.
“Deutsche Bank, the only bank that would lend to Trump after his multiple bankruptcies, the bank that paid $630 million in fines for organizing $10 billion in sham trades that could have been used to launder money out of Russia, the bank that was fined $41 million by the US Federal Reserve on Tuesday over failures to screen billions of dollars in potentially suspicions transactions …
That bank took on key recruits to handle’s Trump transactions, including two from Goldman Sachs. “Justin Kennedy, a trader who arrived from Goldman to become one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche, is the son of a Supreme Court justice.” Justin ran Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities for Deutsche Bank.
Deutsche Bank is currently under investigation for possible ties to Russian money laundering in the Trump campaign.
But it’s not just the Deutsche bank connection. Justin Kennedy is also tied to Trump through his company LNR real estate, which oversees the mortgage on Kushner’s very-troubled 666 5th Ave. Essentially, through its holdings, Kennedy’s company bailed out 666, which Kushner bought for 1.9 billion at the height of the market in 2007. So it would not be an exaggeration to say that Justin Kennedy’s financial fate is directly tied into the financial fortunes of Kushner and Trump.
But it’s not just Justin & Deutsche and LNR/Vornado/666 … that tie the Kennedys to Trump …
Justice Kennedy’s other son, Gregory, benefited directly by an appointment at NASA as a Senior Financial Adviser after Trump was inaugurated. ProPublica reports that he’s part of a so-called “beachhead team” that Trump installed at the space agency to keep an eye on how things are running. No information on whether or not Gregory Kennedy will have any involvement in the development of Trump’s announced “Space Force”.
Gregory Kennedy also went to Stanford Law School with Peter Thiel, the only Silicon Valley mogul who backed Trump’s campaign and serves as an advisor to Trump on technology issues. Thiel is a close friend to Robert Mercer, co-founder, with Steve Bannon, of Cambridge Analytica. An employee of his company, Palantir, aided Cambridge Analytica in its scheme to skew the elections by stealing data from Facebook to target 50 million FB users with opinion, disinformation and lies via memes and posts. Kennedy and Thiel served as back-to-back presidents of the Federalist Society, and Kennedy’s firm, Disruptive Technology Advisers, has worked with Thiel’s company Palantir Technologies.
The new SCOTUS, with now two Trump appointees will weigh in not just on various civil rights issues of enormous consequence, they will also weigh in very shortly on a question critical the Mueller investigation – a question of double jeopoardy. When crimes fall under both state and federal jurisdictions, they may undergo separate trials, even with separate outcomes, much as this can happen with civil and criminal cases. The POTUS can pardon those charged in federal crimes, but not state crimes. So if the newly-skewed SCOTUS rules that this constitutes double jeopardy, one of the most potent quivers in Mueller’s arsenal will be broken in half.
The new SCOTUS may also in due time be asked to rule on whether or not a sitting president can be indicted on criminal charges.
If this is all beginning to feel a little like a “fix” to you … well, you’re not alone.”


National Aeronautics and Space Administration Gregory Kennedy Senior Financial Advisor SES 1/20/2017


Mostly push back in this article – Stephanie Ruhle and Michael Avenatti are both minimizing the connection. I still say it stinks and warrants further investigation. If there’s nothing to it, so be it. But we shouldn’t just let this slide. I hope there are some dogged reporters out there who are pursuing this.