Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Monday, May 21, 2018

In the right's alternate reality Trump lost the election

by digby

Last week we found out that Michael Cohen, President Trump's now-notorious fixer, had been working on that Trump Tower Moscow deal much longer than was previously known. According to Yahoo News, congressional investigators and prosecutors have emails and text messages showing that Cohen was still working the deal with Trump associate and government informant Felix Sater well into 2016, even as Trump was sewing up the Republican nomination. Sater is the one who famously sent Cohen the email in 2015 that said “I will get Putin on this program, and we will get Donald elected." Cohen had insisted that the deal was scrapped at the end of 2015, and that turns out to be a lie. Shocking, I know.

Then there was the byzantine story of Michael Cohen and some Qatari investors in a basketball league, who were offering bribes and who may be involved in one of the Steele dossier's most intriguing rumors: the one about a quid pro quo involving the Trump campaign and the multibillion-dollar sale of one-fifth of the Russian fossil fuel giant Rosneft to the Swiss trading firm Glencore and Qatar’s sovereign investment fund. Did I mention that it was byzantine? You can read all about it in this Slate article by Jeremy Stahl.

On Saturday, The New York Times dropped a bombshell about yet another meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and some foreign agents offering to "help" with his dad's presidential campaign, this one in August of 2016, three months before the election. The group that met at Trump Tower included George Nader, an emissary for two wealthy princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Israeli social media specialist Joel Zamel and former Blackwater owner Erik Prince. (Nader and Prince also attended that suspicious Seychelles meeting with Russian and UAE officials a week before the inauguration)

The Times reported that Donald Jr. “responded approvingly,” and Nader became a Trump intimate who subsequently met frequently with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn, the future (if short-lived) national security adviser. After the election, a company associated with Zamel gave Nader an “elaborate” presentation about how important social media had been to Trump's win and Nader, for unclear reasons, paid Zamel "a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million."

Everyone denies there was anything untoward about any of it, of course. They're all as innocent as newborn babes. But all these overlapping chess moves might lead one to take a second look at Trump's astonishing decision last summer to take sides against Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, in the dispute between that country and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Those were just three big new stories that hit last week, opening up a whole different line of inquiry about foreign interference in the 2016 election. And yet, despite all the guilty pleas, indictments, interviews and subpoenas, two (admittedly tainted) congressional investigations and mountains of press reports that indicate something extremely unusual happened in the Trump presidential campaign, the conservative media has embarked on a crusade from an alternate universe.

In the right wing's alternative version of reality, none of these stories about Trump and his associates meeting with foreign actors eager to help him sabotage his rival's campaign, or large sums of unaccounted-for foreign money being funneled to his personal fixer, or even the obvious conflicts of interest suggesting that flat-out corruption is the most reasonable explanation for Trump's unpredictable foreign policy, even exist. In their reality, federal law enforcement intervened in the election to deny Donald Trump the presidency on behalf of Hillary Clinton. You may think they had a funny way of showing it, since they kept their investigation top secret while the FBI director went out of his way to sully Hillary Clinton's reputation at the last minute. But that's the conservative media's story and they are sticking to it -- at least for now.

The details in actual reality are pretty straightforward. The FBI had been keeping tabs on Paul Manafort and Carter Page for some time, well before they signed on to the 2016 Trump campaign, because of their suspicious ties to the Kremlin and other high-level politicians in Moscow's orbit. In Page's case, he had been approached by Russian agents some years back, while Manafort was known to be engaging in financial crimes involved with Ukrainian oligarchs. It is not surprising that law enforcement antennae went up when people such as that joined a presidential campaign.

Then there was the hacking, the social media manipulation and the hiring of retired Gen. Michael Flynn, formerly the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who had been fired by President Obama and had a huge ax to grind. Then a young foreign policy guy, George Papadopoulos, got drunk in London and spilled to an Australian diplomat that he'd been approached by Russians who told him they had all kinds of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times and The Washington Post reported over the weekend that all of this led the FBI in the summer of 2016 to engage a longtime Republican foreign policy expert who had operated as an informant in the past to approach Papadopoulos, Page and Flynn to see what he could find out. We don't know whether this source turned up anything, but investigating the possibility that campaign officials were being set up by foreign actors for blackmail or undue influence would be a standard counter-intelligence operation. Having an informant check it out is more discreet than sending in some G-men to interrogate the officials and, as I mentioned, the fact that the FBI never breathed a word of any of this during the campaign makes the suggestion that they were trying to help Hillary Clinton entirely absurd.

You will recall that Rudy Giuliani blabbed a while back that Team Trump was planning to "make a fuss" on the one-year anniversary of the Mueller investigation. This seems to be part of their coordinated extravaganza, with the president himself leading the charge:

This has been percolating for some time on the right, courtesy of House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who has been demanding that the name of this informant be released to him, and even threatening Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a contempt citation. The FBI and the Justice Department have refused, citing the usual danger to "sources and methods," but the name has been circulating in right-wing media for days anyway and is now public. The stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post are likely heavily sourced by this coordinated "fuss."

I'm not sure what was accomplished by this, or by the weird insistence among Trump supporters that this somehow proves the Mueller investigation is tainted. This argument by law professor Jonathan Turley seems to rest on the premise that the FBI was being unfair to the Trump campaign because, in keeping the investigation secret, it didn't give the campaign the opportunity to let the public know that it was under investigation for possible conspiracy with a foreign adversary. Does that make sense?

On Sunday, Trump made his next move:

The Justice Department responded obediently that it had asked the inspector general to "expand the ongoing review . . . to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation" launched in 2016. Trump must feel very powerful.

This tweet on Sunday night by HUD official Lynne Patton perfectly illustrates how reality is perceived in the Trumpian alternate universe:

Someone needs to remind these people that they won the election. They seem to have forgotten.