WTF Community

Day 777

(Matt Kiser) #1

Updated 3/7/2019 11:06 AM PST

⚠️ Updates in progress. More on Kushner, John Kelly, and Mitch McConnell soon!

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Kush cuts out the state department in meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Officials and staffers in the U.S. embassy in Riyadh said they were not read in on the details of Jared Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia or the meetings he held with members of the country’s royal court last week, according to three sources with knowledge of the trip. And that’s causing concern not only in the embassy but also among members of Congress.

On his trip to the Middle East, Kushner stopped in Riyadh. While there, he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman to discuss U.S.-Saudi cooperation, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and economic investment in the region, according to the White House.

But no one from the embassy in Riyadh was in the meetings, according to those same sources. The State Department did have a senior official in attendance, but he was not part of the State Department team in Saudi. He is a senior member of the department focused on Iran, according to a source with direct knowledge of the official’s presence in Riyadh.

(Matt Kiser) #3

:warning: Speculation ahead:

I think Robert Mueller wants to be able to conclude his work and turn over the investigative threads to the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of Virginia and other jurisdictions as appropriate. I wouldn’t be surprised if, for example, this week on Friday – not knowing anything about it – but Friday is the day the grand jury indictments come down.

And, this Friday is better than next Friday, because next Friday is the 15th of March, which is the Ides of March, and I don’t think Robert Mueller will want to have that dramatic flair of the Ides of March when he’ll be delivering what I think are going to be indictments, the final indictments, as well as the report to the Attorney General.

If anybody from the Trump family, extended family, is going to be indicted, it would be the final act of Mueller’s investigation.

(Matt Kiser) #4

Trump threatening Senators not to vote against his national emergency next week

The White House has been quietly pressuring Republicans in recent days not to buck President Donald Trump and vote in favor of a resolution that would overturn his national emergency declaration on the southern border, warning those who don’t get in line that there could be 2020 election consequences.

In recent days, White House officials have conveyed a stern message to GOP senators, especially those up for re-election in 2020: There will consequences if they vote with the Democrats and defy the President. They have vowed it will affect their standing with the administration and there will be retribution, including potential primary fights.


“There will consequences if they vote with the Democrats and defy the President. They have vowed it will affect their standing with the administration and there will be retribution, including potential primary fights.”

Aren’t there any big money donors who back the rebuke? I’d sure like them to pressure the Republicans too…as a countermeasure to the WH.


John Kelly has been out of the WH for a short amount of time, but he is already giving his opinions on how T is doing.

Kelly is strikingly candid and helpful in letting us see a picture of how T’s WH is working.

Kelly disagreed with T on:
Kusher’s security clearance
The Nato alliance (Kelly supports)
Immigration - against the zero tolerance program
The building of the Wall - “waste of money”

The former White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, on Wednesday declined to answer questions about the existence of a memo he wrote saying that President Trump had ordered officials to give his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a security clearance in May 2018.

Mr. Kelly also broke with Mr. Trump on key aspects of his approach to immigration and the NATO alliance, and said that his top concern about decisions made by the president was whether they were objectively right for the country when divorced from political concerns.

…couldn’t comment on that for a couple of reasons,” Mr. Kelly said, citing clearances being among the things that he could not discuss, and that conversations with the president “at that level would certainly” be kept confidential under executive privilege.

Over all, Mr. Kelly said, his 18 months as the chief of staff were the “least” favorite job he had held, but the most important.

On immigrants

They’re overwhelmingly not criminals — they’re people coming up here for economic” purposes. Mr. Trump has regularly portrayed immigrants crossing at the southern border as dangerous lawbreakers.

However, Mr. Kelly said, during that time, Mr. Trump “went from a guy who didn’t know how the system works” to one “who understands how it works.”

On a wall at the border with Mexico, Mr. Kelly said that there were specific areas where it could be effective but constructing one “from sea to shining sea” was a “waste of money.”


Former Obama AG Eric Holder feels that the next Dem President should pack the courts and add one seat to the Supreme Court. If you can’t win some cases because the majority of votes in the judicial courts are conservatives, add more liberal leaning judges.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the next Democratic president should “seriously” consider adding additional seat to the United States Supreme Court should they be elected alongside a Democratic majority in the Senate.

The comments came during a discussion Holder held with the Yale Law National Security Group. There was no recording of the event and only a snippet of what Holder said was tweeted out publicly. But a spokesman for Holder confirmed to The Daily Beast that he did embrace the idea of court-packing.

Holder’s willingness to entertain the idea of court packing makes him one of the most senior Democratic officials to do so. To date, virtually all elected Democrats have either ignored the proposal or dismissed it out of hand. The one 2020 Democratic candidate who has said that court packing should be a consideration is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg


While we await Manafort’s sentencing, now dragging on today…here’s an article in The Atlantic on the broad questions which remain about Paul Manafort and what we do not know still. Because Manafort bid to get a plea deal, yet refused to cooperate with Mueller, in an attempt to having it both ways, we see him as a complexly guilty man. He holds the key to a LOT of information still to be uncovered by the public.

Read the article below to understand what could be more missing information. One item (last one #5) says Manafort actually received campaign PAC money which paid off some of his debts.

All we know at this juncture, Manafort is going to get a LOT of jail time because he is guilty. :anguished:

What did Robert Mueller want from Paul Manafort? Last September, the special counsel cut a deal with the former chair of Donald Trump’s campaign: If Manafort truthfully provided guidance to prosecutors, they would suggest a less onerous sentence for his crimes. There was a clear assumption in the trade, that Mueller believed Manafort had information valuable to his broader investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. In the months that followed the deal, Manafort became a regular visitor to Mueller’s office, often sitting for six hours at a time.

On Thursday, a judge will sentence him for bank and tax fraud—and next week, another sentencing hearing awaits him for his failure to register his Ukrainian lobbying and what the government calls “conspiracy against the United States.”

Who Is Konstantin Kilimnik?

Prosecutors have routinely asserted that KK was an “asset” of Russian intelligence—although it’s not exactly clear what they mean by this, or what evidence supports that conclusion. Over time, however, prosecutors have slowly revealed details about KK. They have shown that KK remained in contact with Manafort during the campaign. One meeting appears to have especially fascinated Mueller: On August 2, 2016, Manafort, Rick Gates (his other longtime deputy), and KK met at the Grand Havana Room, a cigar bar in Manhattan. Manafort supplied Kilimnik with a sheaf of the Trump campaign’s internal polling data. (The blogger Marcy Wheeler has pointed to a footnote in a Mueller filing indicating that Manafort and Gates passed KK 75 pages of polling.) Apparently, the polling was intended for Manafort’s old financial benefactors in Ukraine, the two oligarchs who funded the political party that Manafort represented. Did they actually receive it? (They have denied ever getting the data.) And did KK give anyone else the closely guarded information?

Manafort, Gates, and KK certainly behaved as if they were engaged in nefarious activity.

Getting “Whole” With Oleg Deripaska?

One of Manafort’s most important consulting clients was the Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska. Earlier in his career, Deripaska was commonly referred to in the media as “Putin’s oligarch.” Manafort advised Deripaska on political matters, but he also became an investment partner with him. In 2007, Deripaska gave Manafort approximately $20 million to manage in a private-equity fund, intended for investment in properties across Ukraine and Russia.

Soon after Manafort joined the Trump campaign, he asked KK to send Deripaska media clips about his new role. In emails obtained by The Atlantic , Manafort asked KK if there was a way to use his position to get “whole” with the oligarch.He even offered to provide Deripaska with private briefings. What became of these entreaties? There’s no evidence that Deripaska ever received them.

The Russian dissident Alexey Nalavny has stoked suspicions that information traded hands. He produced a long video that began as a so-called shaggy-dog story, but then took a pointed turn. The video culminated in footage of Deripaska on a yacht in Norwegian waters discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with a Kremlin foreign-policy hand.

From her Thai cell, the escort claimed that she could provide more information about Manafort’s relationship to Deripaska. That might prove to be a story fabricated story in desperation the evidence of Manafort’s desire to reach Deripaska is unambiguous.

The Ukraine Peace Plan

When Michael Cohen testified before a House committee last week, he wasn’t asked any questions about his efforts on behalf of a Ukrainian legislator’s peace plan—a document he delivered to the White House in the administration’s earliest days.

Did Manafort play any role in promoting this agenda? Manafort’s own lawyers have conceded that he discussed a peace plan with KK at the Grand Havana Room meeting.

A Banker Named Calk

In August 2016, an obscure Chicago banker named Stephen Calk appeared on a list of Donald Trump’s economic advisers. Soon after Paul Manafort left the Trump campaign—when Trump quipped, “I’ve got a crook running my campaign”—Calk’s bank began loaning Manafort money. What’s strange is that the bank loaned Manafort $16 million, which amounted to 22 percent of the bank’s total equity capital.

Soon after Manafort left the campaign, he received another set of loans from a group called Spruce Capital. One co-founder of Spruce had been a partner in the development of Trump Tower Waikiki.

The Godfather and the Super PAC

When Manafort arrived in the Trump campaign, he famously promised that he would work for free. This seemed strange given his persistent efforts to monetize every aspect of his existence, not to mention all the money he owed banks and Oleg Deripaska. We now know Mueller doesn’t believe that Manafort received nothing for his efforts. He has accused Manafort of lying about money he received from a Trump super PAC called Rebuilding America.

Finally, why did Paul Manafort put himself in this position? He could have cooperated truthfully with Mueller and lightened his sentence. But he attempted to keep vital chapters of his story shrouded in lies. He wanted them to remain a mystery. Perhaps Mueller has already filled in those gap and has gleaned a complete narrative. But there’s another possibility. Without Manafort’s cooperation, we might never gain clarity about some of the most disturbing questions that still hover around him.

(David) #9

No doubt the “closed door”, similar to that used by Putin and his puppet in Helsinki and elsewhere, was for the further consummation of the bromance. Lock him up!

(Matt Kiser) closed #10

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