Tuesday, January 24, 2023

TWGB: Just the Mob, Russia, Echoes of 2016 and 1776


Depicted above is Donald Trump, former president, with Skinny Joey Merlino, formerly, to the best of my knowledge, of the Philadelphia mafia, if that's a thing, about which I have little to say. Anyhow, Trump very recently crowed that he had information about every person who came down to Mar-A-Lago and should know who Merlino is and so I would be astonished if this was accidental. Please--he doesn't care. He didn't care about Nick Fuentes, and he doesn't care about Joey Merlino--he needs all the friends he can get. He has long depended upon the kindness of strange people. 

Why is this my lead-in into today's TrumpWorld Grab-Bag? Because this is a long and strange journey spurred by an echo of the 2016 campaign: a former head of FBI counter-intelligence in the NY office was arrested for taking money from a Russian oligarch with ties to the Trump Russia probe.  This is the outcome of an interesting story that gives us a little more about McGonigal back when this was in the grand jury stage. 

The federal scrutiny of McGonigal is especially striking given his work at the FBI. Before his retirement in 2018, McGonigal led the WikiLeaks investigation into Chelsea Manning, busted Bill Clinton's national security advisor Sandy Berger for removing classified material from a National Archives reading room, and led the search for a Chinese mole inside the CIA. In 2016, when reports surfaced that Russia had hacked the email system of the Democratic National Committee, McGonigal was serving as chief of the cybercrimes section at FBI headquarters in Washington. In that capacity, he was one of the first officials to learn that a Trump campaign official had bragged that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton, sparking the investigation known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Later that year, FBI Director James Comey promoted McGonigal to oversee counterintelligence operations in New York. 

Pretty flipping fascinating, no? Anyway, the NY office was described back in 2016 as TrumpLand and definitely leaked info regarding Anthony Weiner's laptop to various people, prompting James Comey's announcement of the reopening of the Clinton email case, which a lot of folks are pretty sure sank the election for her. And I don't know this for a fact and don't want to impugn the NYT's reporters on this, but even though the CI investigation of Trump in 2016 was based in DC, I would not be surprised if the front page news that the FBI found no connection to Russia in 2016 was leaked from that office. Funny how the folks not looking for it weren't finding it. 

Now this is just bleeding bait to yours truly. Not to be a Trump hipster, but I disliked Trump before he ran for president not just because of the birther shit, but because he was obviously fixing to run for president (since 1999!) and was adjacent to Russian-mob money-laundering ever since Giuliani moved the traditional mob out and the Russians swept in. (I'm saying this very tongue in cheek, obviously. What the last link is saying about Russian aluminum being a serious business is absolutely factual. The big name there is Oleg Deripaska. The guy McGonigal was working for. That's a guy Paul Manafort owed money to. His name comes up sometimes.) And of course, with his credit, Russia was keeping him afloat in other ways. 

How in the hell was the freaking FBI not making connections anyone who read the newspapers during the 1990s-early 2000s already knew about? Of course Trump was being groomed by filthy foreign lucre. 

But you know, sometimes government agencies have a particular partisan blind-spot

Yeah, whatever. Also Mike Flynn who I was just talking about being some kind of traitor in the Trump circle paid some other ex-FBI guy who probably was leaking Clinton negative info. This was pure 2016 Trump strategy--suppress the Clinton vote by turning off her supporters. Remember when Brad Parscale and Russian bots were doing this in parallel via assorted digital media ads? So weird. Like coordinated? 

So, you see, Trump sometimes likes to talk about the "politicized FBI", but like, he went after Bruce Ohr, Peter Sztrok, Andrew McCabe, etc. but the funny old thing is, the FBI is not traditionally liberal--it leans conservative. Heads of FBI are Republicans. I see where preppy propagandist Tucker Carlson wants to pretend COINTELPRO went after Nixon but like, that's stupid--they went after antiwar and civil rights folks. You can call me Pepperidge Farm because I remember. I think that bit is to retcon the FBI as some Deep State enemy and frankly, how can I put this? No, some people actually read books and shit. Absolutely the fuck not. 

Anyway, the problem with anyone working for Russia is they attack the US and other countries for weird reasons all their own, like supporting Spanish right wing guys who want to blow up stuff. Why am I mentioning this--because right wing terrorism. Because Russia supporting rightwing radical movements is a very present thing, and we have a right wing movement here in the US that is susceptible to its influence. Like consider the cheapness of not having to hack the US energy infrastructure to create havoc, but just put out there encouragement for right wing groups to attack the power grid. Just fucking bread on the waters. 

Sometimes I don't know if I'm being paranoid, or not paranoid enough. But all the same, fast forward to the seditious conspiracy conviction of more people thinking they were doing some 1776 business. When I think about 1/6, I always also think about what Julian Assange said to Don Jr. about what should happen if Trump Sr. lost

In one of the messages, sent at 6:35 p.m. on the day of the election, Wikileaks wrote, "Hi Don if your father 'loses' we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed [sic] and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do." Wikileaks reportedly claimed contesting the election could help his father further delegitimize the mainstream press and build the new media network he seemingly desired.

It might be more interesting if the faith in elections and in mainstream journalism were undermined. Who thinks this is a good thing? And doesn't that represent what the 2020 Trump story was about--undermining faith in the press and election integrity? Interesting led to violent. There's an alleged Chinese curse that says "May you live in interesting times". Meaning no one should want such an interesting thing. 

So, while I don't know what all McGonigal was up to working for Deripaska or whether it had anything at all to do with the 2016 mishegas, just hearing about it was like biting into a madeleine that brought back a flood of Proustian memory. 

I mean, of course right wingers read this announcement differently and think it means the FBI was corrupt and Crossfire Hurricane was bullshit. But like I said, that was probably out of the DC office and McGonigal was a whole different scene. And why would those even be the dots they connect anyways?  

UPDATE: Maybe my dude was in Washington DC doing a Crossfire Hurricane before being sent to NY and had plenty of time to be fuxxoring with what we know as the thing that could have sank Trump. Wow. Just Wow.

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