Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Very Big TrumpWorld Grab-Bag

On Friday, Rick Gates plead guilty to two criminal counts and his associate, Paul Manafort, was hit with a whole slew of new charges.  These new charges might not even be the final word on what Manafort is being charged with, because Gates is now cooperating with the Mueller investigation--and Gate knows everything (or damn near) the Manafort has been doing, and his deal rests on giving Mueller whatever assistance is relevant to his probe. The probe is pretty broad, and it sounds like Mueller is pretty well busted. And this means Manafort is pretty well busted too. 

There's bank fraud, there's tax fraud, there's money laundering, there's unregistered foreign lobbying, and while there isn't just as yet a clear connection to how this ties into the Russian election tampering probe, it clearly shows how seriously leveraged and therefore, vulnerable to being used by or as foreign agents they were. Especially Manafort, as Josh Marshall sketches out (you need TPM Prime for that one, I think--you should really get TPM Prime). Anyway, Paul Manafort was a guy so desperate for money that he went out of his way to work for the Trump campaign for free (as did a lot of folks, apparently)--but it's hard to imagine he got nothing of value out of the job. And he remained in contact with the campaign through the transition (via the VP candidate he "helped" choose--Mike Pence). (Gates, of course, remained with the Trump campaign right through the transition, himself.)

What kinds of thing would Manafort's position with the Trump campaign be good for? Well, maybe getting a spot in an eventual Trump cabinet for one of his creditors? Or helping "tweak" the Trump campaign's position on Ukraine? Who knows what checks Manafort's mouth might have written out of the Trump's eventual presidency account? (Which could only get paid if Trump's win could be ensured?)

But back to Gates--one of the things he is copping to, is making false statements to investigators in the probe. That's what tripped up Mike Flynn, too. It also tripped up damn handsome attorney Alex van der Zwaan. This guy, van der Zwaan, is fascinatingly connected to a Russian billionaire by marriage who is, like Trump's steadfast fixer, Michael Cohen, suing Buzzfeed over the Steele Dossier. That billionaire, German Khan, owns Alfa Group which includes Alfa Bank, which is an interesting side-story in all this that you probably have already heard about. 

But: what was Gates lying about? 

A meeting with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. That would be the congressman who Rep. Kevin McCarthy, maybe not entirely in jest, suggested worked for Putin. This seems a little less funny in context. I kind of feel like Rohrabacher's business damn near speaks for itself.  

Anyhow, you know who Donald Trump crowed about working for nothing (Nothing!) and was definitely deserving of all the top secret clearance despite his being seriously financially leveraged?  His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who helped bring Paul Manafort on to the campaign. There are apparently good reasons Kushner's clearance situation is problematic--and again, working for the White House even for free doesn't mean he can't take away anything of value

In completely other news, one of the 13 indicted Russians from the past week is linked to a Russian mercenary group that attacked US soldiers in Syria.  I'd say anything at all about that, but I'm mostly speechless, because the complications of all this Trump/Russia business are, in some ways, unspeakable. They just shouldn't be

Also--the Nunes memo was always partisan trash and the Democratic memo confirms that the investigation into all this, but especially Carter Page, was already underway because of course it was. The Steele Dossier is not the only iron anyone ever had in the ongoing Trump Russia dumpster fire.  

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