No civic-minded American, nor anyone else in the world, need miss this historic day’s process, so take here BackChannel’s relay with an appropriate tonic: high-speed Internet has made journalism’s “second-row seat to history” — what I once called news-watching at the desktop — a front-row sport.
“If a president undermining our national security and using the federal government for his own selfish personal gain is not impeachable conduct, then, Madam Speaker, I don’t know what is,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Rules Committee.
How much more should any authentically patriotic American need to here or see?
If America’s yawing Ship of State — still fresh on the Internet Ocean — needs a bit of swing away from the Far (White) Right, it may be getting it as so many Republicans consistently display themselves as bullying, disingenuous, and altogether untrustworthy talkers.
America’s top comics are moving on him like a bitch — and with about the same results — but they’re doing it long and hard and with zesty humor, and they won’t stop until . . . .
Don’t think the world isn’t watching and laughing with them.
WASHINGTON — The White House concealed some reconstructed transcripts of delicate calls between President Trump and foreign officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin and the Saudi royal family, in a highly classified computer system after embarrassing leaks of his conversations, according to current and former officials.
The unnamed whistleblower provided the complaint in August to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who determined that the complaint was of an “urgent concern” and “appeared credible,” although acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire consulted with the Justice Department and determined the complaint fell outside the statutory requirements which would compel him to hand it over to Congress. Hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid that had been delayed by the Trump administration were released to Ukraine earlier in September.
The cast of characters in the Trump-Giuliani-Ukraine saga laid out in the whistleblower complaint is extensive, with more than 20 individuals named.
President Trump’s woes may not ease Joe Biden’s issues with his son’s positioning on the world stage (China and Ukraine most noticeably), but the momentum has reached the point at which the President MAY become doubtful as the nation’s chief negotiator and representative in matters of trade and war. Between America’s engagement in WWII and this Trumpian Era, there never has been a shade of doubt regarding the nation’s commitment to civility, democracy, fair and free elections, fair trade, rule by consent, and rule of law worldwide. With that package has gone the revocation of the power of dictators and tyrants (and “Presidents for Life”). This President, his associates and cronies, starting with the rightly disgraced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, appear to have believed in power sought for its own sake — for their own sake — and they, perhaps with a lift from Moscow — proved themselves right by winning an American election (by a slim Electoral College margin — some other engagements have been as thinly supported as well).
Republicans Joe Walsh and Bill Weld made the comments as the U.S. House of Representatives planned to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over reports he sought Ukrainian help to smear Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden.
“The Ukraine caper by the president is some combination of treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Weld, a former Massachusetts governor. “The one thing that’s absolutely clear is it is grounds for removal from office.”
President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.
Shortly after the story broke, I received a message from a person directly involved with the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence and obstruction investigation of President Trump in the immediate aftermath of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. To say this person, who had clearly learned about the matter for the first time from the Post, was angered by the story would be to understate the matter.
The message read in relevant part: “None of us had any idea. Multiple people had opportunity and patriotic reason to tell us. Instead, silence.”
(Sorry, Vince, the Presidency isn’t a football game).
BackChannels admires Bill Weld for standing up to an ignoble (remember, he “moved on her like a bitch” — and she was married) political amateur.
Inspired by the above and passed along with this excerpt:
The State Department issued an export license for the missiles on Dec. 22, and on March 2 the Pentagon announced final approval for the sale of 210 Javelins and 35 launching units. The order to halt investigations into Mr. Manafort came in early April.
Volodymyr Ariev, a member of Parliament who is an ally of President Petro O. Poroshenko, readily acknowledged that the intention in Kiev was to put investigations into Mr. Manafort’s activities “in the long-term box.”
“In every possible way, we will avoid irritating the top American officials,” Mr. Ariev said in an interview. “We shouldn’t spoil relations with the administration.”
all I can do is ask the question my people came to me dan coates came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia I have president putin he just said it’s not russia i will say this i don’t see any reason why it would be I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the people I think that’s an incredible offer
BackChannels has lived long enough to see “Active Measures” become a movie, “alternative facts” obtain traction in the arguments of some lost souls, and the “Fake News!” rise up en masse to denounce the source of the accusation. Now the whole ugly stain attending the deeply foreign influenced election of America’s president has begun to seep and spread from the infernal nucleus of the Russian marriage between State and Mob and now a hint of the presence of the same in the United States of America.
How soon will the journalists be asking of the Russian mafia — and mafia generally — in America, “How broad, how deep, how high, how powerful?”
“Dear friends, respected colleagues!” Nikonov said. “Three minutes ago Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America and I congratulate you on this.”
Even though Nikonov did not add what many in the Kremlin already knew, his brief statement was greeted by enthusiastic applause. Donald J. Trump had just become Vladimir Putin’s man in the White House.
While readers may not find evidence quite so “hard” as a memo or recording between “Don” and “Vlad”, the darkly glittering atmosphere brewed by dirty or shady businesses, related events, FBI and other investigations, and innumerable lawsuits in all directions (with Trump Administration scandals, even the lawyers have needed lawyers) the preponderance of the evidence — in the worlds of investigators and journalists alike, the character of personal associations and relationship — becomes inescapable.
The art of reading has been changed by “broadband Internet”: these days, one may snooze between the hardcovers but also depart from any event or noun mentioned to find source and related materials online — or to chat with the “journo” should the same be so nice and unhurried as regards giving up a piece of his time o’ day. With a book as rich in coverage as Craig Unger’s, there are mentions aplenty for mining. Page 147, for example, a simple flip-open (it could have been any other page or chapter), makes mention of somebody “Nogueira” and a Reuters investigation — and a minute later, now listed in reference, Brad Brooks’ piece comes up (and may be read separately). Of the man noted, here’s one more excerpt from Unger’s new book:
According to conversations secretly recorded by a former business partner, in 2013 Nogueira said he had laundered tens of millions of dollars through real estate. “More important than the money from real estate was being able to launder the drug money — there were much larger amounts involved,” he said in the recording. “When I was in Panama I was regularly laundering money for more than a dozen companies.”
Nogueira told Reuters that he became the leading broker for the project thanks in part to the support of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who appeared in a promotional video with him.
What did Donald Trump do?
Trump licensed his name — attractive and synonymous with glamour, power, and wealth — to the project of interest and many others worldwide. What crime could there have been in that? His organization also held management contracts on real estate projects, but here BackChannels will leave the details to the curious among readers; however, the same litmus applies: he nailed a service contract: so what?
On the other hand, perhaps the “so what?” is in the “with whom” and the true “for what”.
At the end of his book, Unger notes, “Donald Trump has repeatedly said he has nothing to do with Russia. Below are fifty-nine Trump connections to Russia” (p. 265). “Below” begins with Roman Abramovich and ends with Viktor Yanukovych.
American-based, humanist, and classically liberal and democratic BackChannels here adds just one more biker video:
Feudal-Medieval Political Absolutism
Modern Democratic Checked and Distributed Power
Between “Active Measures” and America’s inherent internal tensions, citizens may feel channeled toward a fascistic Far Right new nationalism or a dippy Far Left socialist revival, but BackChannels reminds that there may be — there should be — a more grounded and spacious Middle American Way and some wish to rediscover and renew that more coherent nation.
There’s a slight possibility 🙂 that Trump understands his job, its duties, and his obligations as an American president.
Whatever his character, whatever he may say, and however he may feel, especially as regards feudal authoritarianism, he seem to err consistently with the greater American program in democracy. We have not left NATO; Ukraine has not been abandoned (and it has been receiving offensive weapons with America’s blessing); and Israel remains as it has for past American presidents, i.e., the persistent bridgehead of the west, an island of democratic processes and liberal values set against the absolutism of surrounding of dictatorships and generally repressive political cultures.
We may grant President Trump credit for doing his duty as the nation’s top elected official despite his many character issues and personal problems.
BackChannels acknowledges the book in which it first encountered the term:
Soldatov, Andrei and Irena Borogan. The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB. New York: Public Affairs, 2010.
However, this post is not going to be about powerful and self-enriching KGB/FSB spies and their bureaucracies.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Viktor Orbán, and Donald J. Trump seem to this blogger more the “New Nobility” that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had also in mind as he launched his revenge on the western world for the demise of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991 — a very good Christmas morning indeed for the United States of America and in the defunct godless realm then represented by the Kremlin a not very special day at all.
In the 26 years that have passed since that morning (for political purpose, it was over at noon), Russia and her leadership have had to think about what it has meant to be “Russian”.
Formed of conquest, contracting and expanding through the brutality of feudal wars, unable ever to police — mere civil policing — its territorial writs, Russia has been a state that has better known barbarism and the depths of inhumanity through violence (give a nod for the extra special dose brought by the Mongols) than civility through accommodation and trade. In that regard, the “Vory”, the once brutalized mafia within, may in their inglorious legend represent the pure expression of the heart of the state.
Backing the tyrant in Syria?
Invading a settled Ukraine and baldly lying to the world about its purpose?
Pursuing feudal absolute power — unquestionable ownership of persons as things — with the Assahola in Tehran?
All of the above: true.
So what good new things has Russia brought to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?
BREXIT: While Great Britain has been happy to pile on “Asian” labor, it has not been so happy with grooming gangs, suspect neighborhoods, and “Allahu Akbar” explosions, much less the impositions posed by the refugees of war in Syria. Response: the Newest Nationalism expressed in renewed insularity and refreshed Anglican pride.
While it’s good for a state to recall what it’s about, some among the most zealous should factor in how they have been played by Moscow.
Erdogan: Prime Minister, President, and now, apparently, President for Life has never encountered serious resistance for his taking apart what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk bequeathed in bureaucratic and military legacy. The empire’s back, baby, and dig the symbolic significance of the leaders new crib.
Dig this cool new statistic on press freedom in Erdogan’s new estate (italics added).
The 2018 index ranking marked Turkey’s 58 point-decrease over the past 13 years, lagging just behind Rwanda, Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nonetheless, the American President’s behavior, personal as well as political, has left him also, as with the Erdogan and Orban, associated with the terms “autocratic”, “narcissistic”, and “nationalist”. While it’s good to take pride in one’s nation and defend her interests with tough negotiations, it may not be so good for the head of a modern democratic state to promote the image of himself as a feudal lord, securing prizes for family and friends on the basis of loyalty, and doing out favors (“You all just got a lot richer”) to surrounding nobility.
President George W. Bush also made light of the “have and have mores”, but for Americans struggling with fixed retirements, healthcare premiums, perhaps the full suite of basic and complex costs of survival, and, for the young, jobs that fail to deliver even a modicum of financial independence and pride, much less security, the implied further reduction to peonage must sting.