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We’re In The End Stages Of The Trump Presidency

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We’re In The End Stages Of The Trump Presidency

 

gale ngia / Flickr Trump wiretap charge flummoxes law enforcement...
gale ngia / Flickr

Donald Trump used to bluster loudly on twitter and elsewhere that Mueller better not go into his personal finances, that that was “the red line” that could not be crossed — or else. All of that changed last Monday with the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office. Cohen was Trump’s consigliere and dealmaker throughout the Trump Organization’s period of global partnership expansion. Cohen knows where all the skeletons are in the closet and he’s got a lot of them recorded on tape.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti told Anderson Cooper recently that Cohen was “radioactive. I’m going to repeat that. He’s totally radioactive and anybody who’s had any contact with him for the past thirty years, there’s a high likelihood that the FBI now has your records and we know who had the most contact with him: Donald Trump.” New Yorker reporter Adam Davidson predicts that a turning point has been reached and that We are now in the end stages of the Trump presidency:

This is the week we know, with increasing certainty, that we are entering the last phase of the Trump Presidency. This doesn’t feel like a prophecy; it feels like a simple statement of the apparent truth. I know dozens of reporters and other investigators who have studied Donald Trump and his business and political ties. Some have been skeptical of the idea that President Trump himself knowingly colluded with Russian officials. It seems not at all Trumpian to participate in a complex plan with a long-term, uncertain payoff. Collusion is an imprecise word, but it does seem close to certain that his son Donald, Jr., and several people who worked for him colluded with people close to the Kremlin; it is up to prosecutors and then the courts to figure out if this was illegal or merely deceitful. We may have a hard time finding out what President Trump himself knew and approved.

However, I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations. […]

The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

In his book James Comey compares Trump to a mafia don and calls his leadership of the country “ego driven and about personal loyalty.” He describes Trump as a mobster-like figure who sought to blur the line between law enforcement and politics and tried to pressure him personally regarding his investigation into Russian election interference. Further, it’s been said that “Trump demands attention but shuns scrutiny. He needs to be a brand because he’s terrified of being a person.”

The masks are about to come off and the portrait of Dorian Trump is about to come out of the closet for all the world to see. No wonder he’s terrified. He knows who and what he really is and very soon the world will know.


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The media has made Rudy Giuliani the voice of the Mueller investigation, to the benefit of Trump

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The media has made Rudy Giuliani the voice of the Mueller investigation, to the benefit of Trump

 

Daily Brian / Flickr Giuliani dials back statements on Trump...
Daily Brian / Flickr

For over a year now, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has played his cards close to the chest. While Donald Trump’s White House may leak more regularly than an aging colander, Mueller has kept a tight ship. Those few occasions when anything from the special counsel’s office has slipped into public view, have mostly been when those on the other end of indictments—particularly Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort—have forced Mueller to at least tip a card toward a federal judge. What’s been demonstrated by the resulting court filings is mostly just how strong and detailed Mueller’s case against the people he has so far indicted actually is, along with proof that the DOJ authorized the special counsel to dip into actions like Manafort’s role in disrupting the government of Ukraine.

But if Mueller has sailed through months with his crew demonstrating the most-zipped-lips in the whole of D. C., that time has come to an end. Because, as Politico notes, for weeks now, America has had the keen insight of someone who is venturing into the Mueller investigation then coming back to tell the tale: Intrepid explorer Rudy Giuliani. Keen observers of Giuliani’s frequently gibberish-rich television appearances have been able to discern such critical facts as:

The only problem with all of this is that there’s just one thing that Robert Mueller has actually said:

As is its custom, Mueller’s office declined to comment on Giuliani’s statements.

And that’s the issue: Robert Mueller has not commented on Giuliani’s statements. He hasn’t commented on anyone’s statements. He’s not going to. Which demonstrates admirable consistency and a firm, apolitical approach to the job. Except that the one thing Giuliani actually knows about Robert Mueller is that he’s not going to comment. Which is letting Giuliani pretend to speak for him.

In an interview Monday, Giuliani said Mueller hasn’t objected to any of his statements. “I am relaying things accurately,” he said.

Robert Mueller’s silence concerning Giuliani’s statements gives absolutely no weight to Giuliani’s claims to be an accurate reporter. Giuliani could be going on national television to report that Mueller believes that Trump has psychic powers, the campaign collaborated with grey aliens, and that Trump’s dad bought the gun that Ted Cruz’s dad used to shoot JFK.

And Mueller would make exactly the same comments. Which is none.

It’s really quite a good trick. Giuliani—who has been on television demonstrably lying about every aspect of the case as it relates to Cohen and Trump—is being accepted as the Oracle of Mueller simply because the special counsel has held to his principles of staying quiet. And it doesn’t matter if Giuliani is right, wrong, or ridiculous. Because the media is so anxious to have any insight into the black box of the investigation, that they treat his every word as golden.

“There’s nothing that beats first-hand knowledge and Rudy claims to have first-hand knowledge,” said Matthew Miller, a former Obama Justice Department spokesman and frequent MSNBC contributor. “He’s an actor in this drama and the rest of us are commentators.”

Really? Are we sure about that? It’s not even clear that Robert Mueller would comment even if Giuliani was just going into the back room to puff on a Arturo Fuente Opus, then reappearing to tell us about his wonderful adventures on the other side of the wardrobe when he hadn’t met with Mueller’s team at all.

Mueller’s silences may be frustrating. But that shouldn’t be an invitation for Rudy Giuliani to fill them by blowing smoke.


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Trump opens himself up to hacking because using a secure phone is ‘too inconvenient’

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Trump opens himself up to hacking because using a secure phone is ‘too inconvenient’

 

Matt Johnson / Flickr Donald Trump...
Matt Johnson / Flickr

Donald Trump spends his time gabbing on the phone to his rich friends and rage-tweeting, and while he does those things, he may also be doing a third thing: exposing himself to surveillance and compromised information. That’s because Trump refuses to give up his convenience for greater security. He has two phones, Politico reports: one that makes calls and one to tweet and read news on.

While aides have urged the president to swap out the Twitter phone on a monthly basis, Trump has resisted their entreaties, telling them it was “too inconvenient,” the same administration official said.

The president has gone as long as five months without having the phone checked by security experts. It is unclear how often Trump’s call-capable phones, which are essentially used as burner phones, are swapped out.

Even better, Trump’s call-capable phone has a camera and microphone, so if anyone managed to hack into it, it would be an extra-special source of information on Trump’s movements and what was going on around him. But an anonymous White House official insists that the camera and microphone are no problem, because “Due to inherent capabilities and advancement in technologies, these devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices.” Mind you, “Obama-era” doesn’t just mean 2009, it means 2016. So … Trump entered office and within months, a phone with a camera and microphone was suddenly more secure than a phone without those features had been months earlier?

It’s almost too easy to contrast this with Trump campaigning on the idea that Hillary Clinton’s email security practices disqualified her from being president and in fact probably meant she should be jailed, and yet how can you not draw that contrast? Trump is intentionally disregarding security advice because it’s “too inconvenient” to have staff briefly take his Twitter phone away and swap it out once a month.

But since none of his supporters actually care about the disconnect between his campaign words and his actions in office any more than Trump cares about being truthful or consistent, there won’t be any political consequences until hacked information is used against him by a foreign government. Which he’ll blame on the FBI and Democrats, anyway.


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Trump Defies Cell Phone Security Protocol, Placing Ability To Tweet Above National Security

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Trump Defies Cell Phone Security Protocol, Placing Ability To Tweet Above National Security

 

Take News / Flickr Right here s Everybody Donald Trump...
Take News / Flickr

In the sanity of the Obama administration, cell phones were handed over every thirty days for security purposes.  In the Trump mal-administration, Trump has gone as long as five months without having his phone examined, finding it “too inconvenient” to deal with. Politico:

Trump’s reluctance to submit to White House security protocols that would limit his ability to tweet or contact friends freely is a case of the president’s personal peculiarities colliding with the demands of his office — a tension created in part because of society’s growing attachment to mobile technology over the past decade.

Naturally, in his characteristic myopic selfishness, Trump puts his own comfort even in trivial things above the larger issues of his duty to his office.

“Foreign adversaries seeking intelligence about the U.S. are relentless in their pursuit of vulnerabilities in our government’s communications networks, and there is no more sought-after intelligence target than the president of the United States,” said Nate Jones, former director of counterterrorism on the National Security Council in the Obama administration and the founder of Culper Partners, a consulting firm.

While the president has the authority to override or ignore the advice provided by aides and advisers for reasons of comfort or convenience, Jones said, “doing so could pose significant risks to the country.”

Trump campaigned in part on his denunciations of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state — a system that made classified information vulnerable to hacking by hostile actors.

“Her server was easily hacked by foreign governments, perhaps even by her financial backers in communist China — sure they have it — putting all of America and our citizens in danger, great danger,” Trump said in a June 2016 speech in which he called Clinton “the most corrupt person ever to run for president.” He repeatedly vowed on the trail to “lock her up.”

The most corrupt person ever to run for office did indeed run in 2016 and it was not Hillary Clinton.


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