WTF Community

Day 588


Seized by paroxysms of anger, Trump has intermittently pushed to fire his attorney general since March 2017, when Sessions announced his recusal from the Russia investigation. If Sessions’ recusal was his original sin, Trump has come to resent him for other reasons, griping to aides and lawmakers that the attorney general doesn’t have the Ivy League pedigree the president prefers, that he can’t stand his Southern accent and that Sessions isn’t a capable defender of the president on television — in part because he “talks like he has marbles in his mouth,” the president has told aides.

The impetus for Trump’s latest push, according to two White House aides, was the dual convictions last week of his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort — outgrowths of the Russia probe, for which the president pointed the finger at Sessions. Trump fumed on Fox News that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department” and that “the only reason I gave him the job is because I felt loyalty.”

Top Senate Republicans see their job, in part, as blocking Trump’s worst moves, several senators said this week. Firing Sessions at this time, or moving against Mueller, fall into those categories.

Sessions maintains the critical support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who told reporters Tuesday, “I have total confidence in the attorney general; I think he ought to stay exactly where he is.” McConnell’s No. 2, Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), has joined Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) in making public statements of support for Sessions in recent days.


Some prognosticators think that these may be the scenarios


Joyce Alene Retweeted Matthew Yglesias

Trump might succeed in firing Mueller & ducking indictment in this scenario, but even if that happens, he can’t fire every career federal prosecutor in Main Justice & offices across the country, people who swore oaths that they take very seriously to uphold the Constitution.

Matthew Yglesias

Really worth emphasizing that there’s a good (~25%) chance Republicans hold the House, gain a senate seat or two, replace McCain/Flake/Corker with Trump loyalists, Mueller gets fired, Manafort gets pardoned, and then that’s game over — the coverup worked.
1:50 PM - 30 Aug 2018 from Washington, DC



Trump has wanted to fire Sessions since he recused himself, it’s probably going to happen regardless of who wins the mid-terms. More shock and awe awaits. :smirk:


Glad Mueller is able to retry Manafort on the 10 counts that did not get a unanimous verdict from the jurors (one lone holdout.) Amps up the pressure on Manafort that he’s not done in the least.

Experts, while not surprised by the requested delay, pointed to a number of strategies Mueller could be pursuing.

“Makes perfect sense,” former prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg told ABC News. “Mueller is going to keep these in his back pocket until the D.C. trial is resolved.


Keeping the Russian dialogue going…despite sanctions.

Still no WH officials, Pompeo included know anything of T/Putin’s meeting in Helsinki.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to reach an understanding with Moscow before a deadline for imposing sweeping new sanctions against Russia for allegedly poisoning a former Russian spy in Britain, said diplomats familiar with the efforts.

The outreach reflects a desire by President Trump to open up a constructive dialogue with Moscow and break the cycle of tit-for-tat sanctions that the Kremlin has decried as ruinous to bilateral relations.

The prospect for rapprochement between the two adversaries remains slim as U.S. lawmakers demand strict enforcement of existing sanctions laws and deliberate a new package of even more punitive measures against Russia, limiting the Trump administration’s maneuverability.


The Justice Department is investigating whether former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, and others with ties to the Republican Party were paid by a Malaysian fugitive with laundered funds.

Christie and Kasowitz are part of a legal team for Jho Low, a fugitive Malaysian businessman who, according to US court filings, played a key role in the alleged embezzlement of $4.5 billion from a Malaysian fund called 1Malaysia Development Bhd, The Wall Street Journal reported. . . .

Low has also retained the services of the lawyer Bobby Burchfield, who has served as an outside ethics adviser for the Trump administration. Ed Rogers, the Republican lobbyist based in Washington, is also reportedly consulting Low on his legal woes.

There’s a lot to process here – many dots to connect. I hope Mueller is looking into this.

The ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, is at the heart of this financial corruption scandal. Trump met with him while he was under investigation by our own DOJ and the Malaysian government for stealing $4.5 billion (that really is “billion with a b”) from a Malaysian government fund that he headed. Razak was subsequently ousted and has now been charged with financial crimes. Here’s the NYT’s coverage of that state visit back in September of 2017 along with an account of the crimes Razak was being investigated for at the time Trump met with him:

To me, the most interesting (and implicating?) connection between this scandal and Trump is that Eliott Broidy is also one of the cast of characters – yes, that Eliott Broidy who resigned in disgrace from his position as a deputy finance chair of the Republican Party. Check out his “rap sheet.

The Business Insider article adds to Broidy’s list of dubious achievements by linking him to this latest financial scandal:

Elliott Broidy, a Republican fundraiser with close ties to the Trump administration, is consulting Low, too, according to the report. Broidy was brought into Low’s services by Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees hip-hop group, who may have been one of the intermediaries who helped Low make payments.

The Justice Department is also investigating whether Broidy attempted to sell his influence in the Trump administration to the Malaysian and Chinese governments.

Low is closely linked to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who’s facing legal troubles of his own after being arrested in Kuala Lumpur in July. Najib pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in relation to the broad investigation surrounding the 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund.

And, BTW, Broidy paid Rick Gates $125,000 to provide his clients with “access” to Trump – among those clients was – wait for it – Najib Razak.

CORRECTION: In my original post I wrote that Razak “is now in jail in Malaysia awaiting trial.” He’s not in jail, but has been charged with financial crimes. I’ve made the correction.


It occurred to me that perhaps this gang may be called a “cash of characters.”:moneybag:

Yowza…#FollowTheMoney #ListenForTheDenials (talking to you, Chris Christie) :astonished:


Prosecutors Ryan Dickey and Brian Richardson are no longer working for the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, the Justice Department confirmed.

Both lawyers were relatively junior but frequently spotted members of Mueller’s corps. Both have worked on court cases that Mueller opened as part of his investigation into Russian interference and coordination with the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, declined to explain on Thursday what the departures mean for the state of Mueller’s office. . . .

Carr said that neither Dickey nor Richardson left the office because of political allegations, the appearance of bias or any other wrongdoing.


-Trump’s disapproval rating has hit a high point of 60 percent
-Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings
-clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation


President Trump’s disapproval rating has hit a high point of 60 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds that clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say the president should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

At the dawn of the fall campaign sprint to the midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retake control of Congress, the poll finds a majority of the public has turned against Trump and is on guard against his efforts to influence the Justice Department and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s wide-ranging probe.

Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to Trump being removed from office, while 46 percent say Congress should not.


Polls mean crap. It’s votes that count. We got whipsawed in 2016. It can happen again if dems and independents don’t turn out.


Agreed…but I like seeing the disapproval rating going up. :joy:


#1 Passports/Latinos: I saw a comment elsewhere online that really struck me. It went something like this: “Think what you would be doing in Hitler’s Germany in the mid-30s. You’re doing it now.”


Some emotional satisfaction, but it should be over 90%.


Sam Patten, lobbyist and worked w/ Pro-Russian Ukrainian political party (same as the one Manafort worked with) is flipping. NYT article today.

@Kenvogel (NYT reporter)

1.SAM PATTEN CHARGES ARE IMPORTANT: They relate to his work with longtime MANAFORT deputy KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK (“foreigner A” in charging doc) on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukrainian party for which Manafort also worked. Shows that MUELLER’s work is bearing fruit beyond core of probe.
8:06 AM - 31 Aug 2018


The document charging SAM PATTEN with violating FARA doesn’t name KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK, but indicates that Patten & "Foreigner A," a Russian, formed a US co. to do work starting in 2015.
And DC incorporation papers show that the pair formed Begemot Ventures International in 2015.

3.IF SAM PATTEN FLIPS, IT COULD BE HUGE: He worked closely with: —KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK, the Russian-intel linked operative who was MANAFORT’s No. 2. —RINAT AKHMETSHIN: the Russian-American lobbyist who attended the TRUMP TOWER meeting. —VARIOUS OLIGARCHS who funded Manafort.

  1. SAM PATTEN specialized in off-the-radar & unregistered lobbying for clients in former Soviet states. He told me last year that specialists like him are “more effective than 20 guys in slick suits who put their interns on an account to contact … Congress.”

Pat Cipollone’s name is being touted by T as McGahn’s replacement. He needs to be vetted of course.

What could go wrong???!!! :astonished:

Trump tweeted Thursday he was “very excited about the person who will be taking the place of Donald McGahn as White House Councel [sic].”

According to the biography on his firm’s website, Cipollone has practiced commercial litigation, trade regulation and health care fraud. He has extensive expertise in defending corporations, as well as handling complex federal investigations and “prepublication negotiations” over defamatory media reports.

He is well-regarded among some of Trump’s senior advisers, including the president’s outside attorneys Jay Sekulow and Rudolph W. Giuliani.

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Yes, this is big news! It puts more pressure on Manafort to become a cooperating witness himself. Plus, it’s shaping up as another key piece in the big “Russian Conspiracy Puzzle.” The New York Times article didn’t mention it, but this story from Bloomberg reports that Patten worked with Cambridge Analytica!

Manafort Ally to Cooperate With U.S. After Guilty Plea – Bloomberg, August 31, 2018

A former associate of Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to a lobbying crime and agreed to cooperate with the U.S., giving prosecutors access to insights from a longtime international political operative whose Russian business partner has already been indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

The lobbyist, Sam Patten, 47, admitted that he failed to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party. The nature of his cooperation isn’t clear. Patten worked with Manafort and on Ukrainian campaigns, and reportedly worked on microtargeting operations with Cambridge Analytica. . . .

Patten worked for multiple political parties and office-holders in Ukraine, according to his website. His work for Cambridge Analytica came during the 2014 election cycle, the Daily Beast reported in April. It was later adopted by “at least one major U.S. presidential candidate,” the Daily Beast said. Patten told the publication that his work for Cambridge Analytica was separate from the work of his consulting firm.

Here’s the Daily Beast article from April about Patten’s work for Cambridge Analytica that is mention in the Bloomberg piece:


For any “Manafort Trial Junkies” out there (like myself), here’s Sam Patten’s Plea Agreement as filed today.

Note that Patten entered the plea before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. This is the same judge that will be presiding over Manafort’s second trial and supports the supposition that Patten will be testifying in that trial.


The Daily Beast is following this story closely and just published the piece below that describes Patten’s failure to register a foreign lobbyist and dishes up these additional incriminating facts that are embedded in his plea deal:

  1. Patten illegally laundered money from foreign persons into Trump’s Inaugural Committee. (Boy, this committee is turning out to be even dirtier than first supposed – recall the $26 million that the committee paid to Melania’s friend – also recall that Eliott Broidy was a Vice Chair of Finance – and finally, as Rachel Maddow has pointed out on several occasions, there has never been an audit to transparently account for its finances.)

  2. Patten lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee when questioned about Paul Manafort’s ties to Konstantin Kilimnik (a known Russian Intelligence operative and a co-defendant in Manafort’s upcoming trial).

  3. Partnering with a Russian national named as “Foreigner A,” Patten illegally laundered $1 million through banks in Cyprus to his lobbying firm in the U.S. in order to disguise the origins of the money. The NYT has connected the dots and identified “Foreigner A” as Kilimnik which begs the question as to where the $1 million ultimately originated. And it’s telling that the banks were located in Cyprus which was Manafort’s preferred route for money laundering. (Side Note: Let’s not lose sight of the fact that, before Trump appointed him as Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross was co-chair of the Bank of Cyprus along with a Kremlin-connected Russian oligarch.)

That plea agreement focuses on the FARA violations. But Patten also copped to “causing foreign money to be paid to the 2016-17 Presidential Inaugural Committee,” according to the agreement. Patten said he had solicited a U.S. citizen to serve as a “straw purchaser” for an unnamed foreigner to purchase four inauguration tickets at a cost of $50,000. Foreign nationals are prohibited from donating to U.S. political groups such as the inaugural committee, and U.S. citizens are prohibited from knowingly making political contributions in another’s name.

. . . Patten has also been questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a source familiar with the interview. That interview was regarding his long-standing relationships with Trump’s one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business associate whom Mueller has accused of ties to Russian intelligence. . . . Patten admitted to making false or misleading statements in his testimony . . .

Patten also admitted that he and an unnamed Russian national received more than $1 million to promote the interests of the Ukrainian Opposition Bloc party in the U.S. Prosecutors say the money was routed through a bank account in Cyprus, where Manafort also held shell companies used to illegally hide funds from U.S. tax collectors.

BTW, The Daily Beast has been kicking butt lately. :trophy:


Great analysis and breakdown @Keaton_James.

Got the feeling this one is BIG. Will Patten be the one who can pinpoint where the nefarious links are - starting with Cambridge Analytica, the Ukrainian/Manafort connection and yeah, where the heck all that eye-brow raising $26 million for the inauguaration was going. Do we think that Manafort would make a plea?

And LOL that the judge is the same one…go figure?!

The article’s heading is MUELLER FRIDAYS. I was waiting for something to drop, and this could be it. :man_dancing:

Oh, and the fact that T is sitting stewing over all the revered leaders bending over backwards (and rightly so) to celebrate a real American Hero. He knows not to tweet, but there’s always tomorrow… :frowning_face:


This is an UPDATE to my previous post that included a link to Sam Patten’s Plea Agreement. Yes, that was indeed, Patten’s Plea Agreement, but it turns out it’s a rather boring and inconsequential document (at least for avid Manafort trial followers). I apologize to anyone who waded all the way through it (as I did after I posted – I should have read it before :man_shrugging: ). It deals almost exclusively with issues like sentencing guidelines, waivers, etc. The “juicy” document associated with the plea agreement (Statement of the Offense) is below. It’s worth reading!

Important Key to the Document Below:

Mr. Kilimnik was not named in Friday’s charging papers, but is identified as “Foreigner A,” described as a Russian national who formed a company in the United States with Mr. Patten. That company, identified as “Company A” in the court document, is Begemot Ventures International, a company created by the two men in February 2015, according to corporate records filed in Washington.

  • Foreigner B is Sergei Lyovochkin according Bloomberg.

Patten attended one of the inauguration events with the Ukrainian, according to the court filing. The prosecutors’ description of the Ukrainian matches that of Sergei Lyovochkin, a leader of the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc whom prosecutors describe as a prominent oligarch. The party’s website says that Lyovochkin was in Washington on Inauguration Day.

Side Note: This guy Lyovochkin appears to have his fingers in a lot of pies. I imagine we’ll be hearing more about him in days to come. In the meantime, I’m Googling him up and will report back if I find anything interesting.

  • Company A is Begemot Ventures International – see the first bullet.

Happy perusing! :mag_right: