WTF Community

Day 585

Updated 8/27/2018 12:10 PM PDT

1/ The U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and replace it with the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. Trump called the new name for the trade deal "elegant," because the NAFTA name had "a bad connotation" and a job-killing "disaster" for the U.S. The preliminary agreement excludes Canada, as Trump has repeatedly criticized the country's trade practices. Canadian leaders have insisted they will not sign a deal that does not work in their favor. The preliminary deal will last for 16 years and be reviewed every six years. (New York Times / Reuters / Associated Press / CNBC)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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This is not a huge story – more a “notable,” but nevertheless of interest to “Manafort Trial Junkies” like myself.

If I were in Manafort’s position, I’d want to shed my prison garb, put on a nice suit, and get out into the fresh air for a few hours every day during my pre-trial hearings, but it looks like Manafort is opting to languish in his cell instead. Depressed much?

Convicted felon Paul Manafort has had enough of Washington, D.C. — so much so, apparently, that he doesn’t want to attend pre-trial hearings for the upcoming foreign lobbying case against him. . . .

The defendant’s Sunday filing [is] an affirmative request for U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to issue an order “that he not be transported to court other than for his trial and any potential sentencing.”


WSJ reporting that Manafort was researching a plea deal with the federal judges but the discussions have stalled. Trial is coming up Sept. 17th.

Pundits are saying that possibly if this were a cooperating plea deal, then maybe Manafort did not present enough to trade for a plea deal. They feel the talks could continue.

Paul Manafort’s defense team held talks with prosecutors to resolve a second set of charges against the former Trump campaign chairman before he was convicted last week, but they didn’t reach a deal, and the two sides are now moving closer to a second trial next month, according to people familiar with the matter.

The plea discussions occurred as a Virginia jury was spending four days deliberating tax and bank fraud charges against Mr. Manafort, the people said. That jury convicted him on eight counts and deadlocked on 10 others. Prosecutors accused Mr. Manafort of avoiding taxes on more than $16 million he earned in the early 2010s through political consulting work in Ukraine.

The plea talks on the second set of charges stalled over issues raised by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, one of the people said. It isn’t clear what those issues were, and the proposed terms of the plea deal couldn’t immediately be determined.


This is huge news. It shows Manafort’s willingness to flip – he just didn’t get what he was hoping for on this round of negotiations, but maybe he will return to the table as sentencing nears for his recent guilty verdict and his next trial approaches like a steam roller.


At this point, this story is just a couple notches up from being a rumor, but put a pin it – some big news could be breaking soon!


Yes - Roger Stone is doing the #FakeNews pre-emptive strike. Getting out in front of the story.

Here’s a similar story from The Guardian today and it lists who has already been in Mueller’s cross hairs. I am sure Mueller’s team is bearing down on him with all their forensics.

Several times during July 2016, Stone said that he thought Russia was behind the email hacking, before abruptly denying that this was the case. Stone also claimed to have communicated with Julian Assange, who published the Democratic emails through his site WikiLeaks, but later claimed to have been joking.

Mueller’s team has spent months looking into Stone’s circle of friends and aides. Several of them have testified to a grand jury, including Stone’s protege Sam Nunberg, his former social media adviser Jason Sullivan, and his housemate Kristin Davis. Prosecutors appear to be reviewing Stone’s actions during the 2016 campaign as well as his finances more generally.

Davis, known as the “Manhattan madam” since once running a high-end prostitution service, has said she was asked about a tweet Stone posted in August 2016 predicting “it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel”. Emails stolen from the account of John Podesta, campaign chairman for Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, were subsequently published.

Nunberg told MSNBC earlier this month that he expects Stone to be indicted on “some broad charge that he was part of a conspiracy to defraud America” and that this would be combined with “a bunch of financial charges”.

Another Stone associate, Andrew Miller, has been held in contempt of court after refusing to comply with a subpoena from Mueller’s team. Miller, who ran political action committees for Stone and initially cooperated with Mueller’s inquiry, is appealing against the ruling and may take his case to the supreme court. He claims Mueller’s appointment is unconstitutional.

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Bruce Ohr is being targeted by T 'n Co to be ousted. Funny how an expert on Russian mobs would be chosen to be conspiratorally (sp) involved in anything untoward the Federal investigation. Ohr’s wife worked with Glenn Simpson, GPS, the original Steele Dossier backer. and therefore she MUST be somehow colluding with her husband.

T’s defense is to suggest that the Russia investigation is rigged
and wants to knee cap those who maybe really digging a bit too deep methinks. :male_detective:

Those connections have upended Mr. Ohr’s once relatively anonymous life, dragging him into the maelstrom of the Russia investigation. Justice Department officials transferred Mr. Ohr, an associate deputy attorney general, to a less powerful post last year after learning about his contacts with Mr. Steele and the scope of his wife’s work. If he loses his security clearance, he would probably be forced to leave federal law enforcement after nearly three decades.

Mr. Ohr was a manager, not a litigator, who built bridges with law enforcement agencies around the world, former Justice Department officials said. He sent top deputies to Hungary to root out the nascent Russian mob in the early 2000s**. F.B.I. agents viewed the commitment as a sign of his seriousness about combating Russian organized crime.

In 2006, Mr. Ohr was part of a group of government officials who revoked the visa of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire and aluminum magnate. Officials were concerned that Mr. Deripaska might try to come to the United States to launder illicit profits through real estate, a former law enforcement official said.

Mr. Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, has been tied to the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted last week of tax and bank fraud.

Conservatives have also targeted Ms. Ohr, whose contract work at Fusion GPS involved monitoring Russian news media and compiling connections between Mr. Trump and Russia from public documents. She did not work on the dossier, according to a person familiar with her work for Fusion GPS.

Mr. Ohr still has a job at the Justice Department, though he is functionally no longer a manager. It is unclear how long that will last. Mr. Trump has called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Mr. Ohr.

“It seems that Bruce had two sins: He met with Chris Steele and his wife worked for Fusion GPS. None of that seems wrong to me,” Mr. Lowrie said. “Bruce is a straight arrow. He was totally nonpartisan, as we all were expected” to be.

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John McCain’s parting words…to the nation built on ‘ideals.’

Thank you for your inspired service to this country. You honored us with your integrity, humility (complete with acerbic barbs and anger) and consideration for the whole nation.

For the five years McCain was held as a POW, he stood mostly on the side of what would honor his country. He withstood a lot, and he made it out alive.

Even with his hawkish nature, and some dalliances with not so savory characters (Keating Five) he stood for something, and tried to act across the political spectrum and for that I am proud of his legacy.

Farewell Statement from Senator John McCain

My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.

I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s more fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

“Fellow Americans” — that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.

We weaken our greatness when we confuse our nationalism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening.

I feel it powerfully still.

Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.

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New York City regulators slapped a $210,000 fine on Jared Kushner’s family real estate company Monday for filing 42 false applications for construction work on multiple buildings while Jared Kushner ran the business, the AP reports.
From Axios

The details: This follows an AP investigation earlier this year that found the company had repeatedly falsified documents claiming it had no rent-regulated tenants in its buildings, despite having hundreds. The investigation also found that Kushner Cos. hiked its rent on tenants to push them out of rent-stabilized apartments. New York’s Tenant Protection Unit launched an investigation into the company following the probe.


Time to update our calenders!


This one is a hard one to ‘get’ - what’s going on in the Manafort team’s thinking.

There’s the one you mentioned - maybe Manafort might get a plea deal, if he decides to do a cooperation plea.

Or other pundits have mentioned that they see this foray into Manafort trying for a plea deal, yet having Mueller reject it (by not offering enough) is simply a way to signal to T that they are available to get a pardon. Ie, keep that pardon power open.

With the 80 year sentence ahead (really 10 years minimum), Manafort is in a log jam (so to speak) and may or may not be a willing participant.

So many nuances and possible end games. #KeepUsPosted #ManafortIsToast

Some not-so-good federal judges approved by the Senate…see who they are.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed seven of President Donald Trump’s nominees to federal district courts across the country, most by unanimous voice votes.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Goodwin, whom a majority of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary rated not qualified due to concerns about his work ethic.

Goodwin, who will now take a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma,

U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer will become the first African American judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
Moorer is also the first black judicial nominee confirmed during the Trump administration.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stan Baker received similarly strong support in the Senate, earning confirmation to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in a unanimous voice vote.

A former member of the conservative Federalist Society (Baker)

Judge Nancy Brasel served as a district court judge in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District since 2011,

Longtime private practice attorney Barry Ashe, (also confirmed). A member of the conservative Federalist Society, Ashe faced questions from Democrats about his work representing the Tangipahoa Parish, La., Board of Education from a challenge to a disclaimer teachers had to read before teaching evolution
(Ashe) he said there are “many scientists and others who view that evolution isn’t a proven fact.

James Sweeney, another nominee the Senate unanimously approved


Small fact, powerful message by McCain.


Follow the money…follow Kislyak’s actions (He met with Jared, Sessions…and other T campaigners…)

When BuzzFeed News reported earlier this year on dozens of suspicious financial transactions by Russian diplomats living in Washington, Kremlin officials objected with ferocity. A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson denounced the news organization as a “tool of the American intelligence services” and insisted the transactions were purely run of the mill.

But new documents show that American bank examiners delved deeper into the embassy’s financial activity than was previously known — and reveal why they flagged two of the transactions as suspicious.

The first, made just 10 days after the US presidential election in 2016, was a $120,000 lump-sum check to then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak that was twice as large as any payment he’d received in the previous two years.

The second, just five days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, was a blocked attempt to withdraw $150,000 in cash that a bank official feared was meant for Russians the US had just expelled from the country.

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An interesting point @Keaton_James. I think he’s just toast. His wife was sobbing throughout the trial, and left at one point. The two daughters never showed. He could be dodging a Russian polonium attack…who knows. He’s done.

It got me thinking where were his two daughters in all this…

I googled their names, and an Atlantic article popped up, which described Manafort’s situation and in April 2015 he was suicidal…knowing that his Ukraine source of funds had dried up. It describes him being in a clinic, not sure where.

Excert (The Atlantic 3.18)
I. The Wisdom of Friends

The clinic permitted Paul Manafort one 10-minute call each day. And each day, he would use it to ring his wife from Arizona, his voice often soaked in tears. “Apparently he sobs daily,” his daughter Andrea, then 29, texted a friend. During the spring of 2015, Manafort’s life had tipped into a deep trough. A few months earlier, he had intimated to his other daughter, Jessica, that suicide was a possibility. He would “be gone forever,” she texted Andrea.

Nine months after the Ukrainian revolution, Manafort’s family life also went into crisis. The nature of his home life can be observed in detail because Andrea’s text messages were obtained last year by a “hacktivist collective”—most likely Ukrainians furious with Manafort’s meddling in their country—which posted the purloined material on the dark web. The texts extend over four years (2012–16) and 6 million words. Manafort has previously confirmed that his daughter’s phone was hacked and acknowledged the authenticity of some texts quoted by Politico and The New York Times. Manafort and Andrea both declined to comment on this article. Jessica could not be reached for comment.

His two daughters - Jessica and Andrea

One is a filmmaker, and goes by the name Jess Bond, and just released a film “Rosy.”

Her Ex- Jeffrey Yohai pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law and business partner, Jeffrey Yohai, reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. And that has the potential to significantly increase Manafort’s legal risk.

Yohai pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges related to real estate transactions and misrepresenting his income and assets to obtain an American Express “Black Card.”

Andrea Manafort Shand
Andrea’s emails leaked and she claimed she thought he had killed someone and calls her dad an ‘egomanic’ and a lone wolf’

AMS: This is pure sport. He is a power hungry egomaniac. Yes. He is loving it. Conclusively. Him and trump are perfect allies for this agenda. It’s so weird he is my dad.


I wrote: “It shows Manafort’s willingness to flip.” Well . . . I need to fess up that I jumped to a conclusion.

Last night, Rachel Maddow’s guest, Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (and a regular MSNBC panelist whose insights I value), pointed out that these negotiations do not necessarily mean that Manafort showed a willingness to flip. His lawyers may have been asking for a straight up plea deal that would not include a requirement to cooperate (i.e., “I’ll plead guilty if you give me a lighter sentence than I would receive if convicted in court, but I’m not required to cooperate.”). For example, this is the type of plea deal that Cohen agreed to (Cohen looks to be cooperating, but it’s not because of any formal requirement).

So, to set the record straight, the plea negotiations that took place could mean Manafort is showing a willingness to cooperate, but not necessarily – we’ll need to stay tuned!