While we were discussing the degree to which Hitler showed “restraint,” the intelligence community kept moving forward against Page, Manafort and Trump, setting the groundwork for impeachment

While we were all occupied over the past 24 hours, discussing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s absolutely indefensible comment about how Hitler showed “restraint” by never using chemical weapons agains his fellow human beings, when we know for a fact that the Nazis, at the height of the Holocaust, were murdering over 6,000 Jews a day in their concentration camps, a great number of whom were killed with Zyklon B gas, a few interesting things were playing out behind the scenes relative to our intelligence community’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election. Here are just a few highlights.

First, it was reported that, prior to the election, the FBI had obtained a warrant to monitor the communications of Trump campaign aide Carter Page. This essentially means that a FISA court felt that there was, in the words of national security analyst Susan Hennessey, “probable cause to believe Page was acting an agent of a foreign power.”

Second, the New York Times reported that Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, on the very day he left the Trump campaign amid rumors of his ties to Russia, created a shell company to borrow $13 million dollars from people with ties to President Trump, including a Ukrainian-born billionaire. Furthermore, the Associated Press today confirmed the authenticity of the so-called “Black Ledger”, which Manafort has in the past referred to as “fake.” The ledger, for those of you who haven’t already heard about it, shows secret payments made to Manafort’s consulting firm from Ukraine’s pro-Russia political party, the Party of Regions, totaling over $1.2 million, all of which was laundered through other countries, like Belize and Cyprus.

Third, according to CNN, the so-called “evidence” that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes claims to have seen that night on the grounds of the White House, which, we were told, confirmed Trump’s assertion that Obama had placed him under surveillance, in fact shows no such thing. And, not only that, but several people, including Michael Hayden, the CIA director under George W. Bush, have come forward to say that there’s nothing to suggestions that Susan Rice, Obama’s National Security Advisor, did anything wrong in her handling of sensitive national security information, as Trump and others in his camp have suggested.

So, the net is tightening, my friends. And not only are investigators and forensic accountants all over the likes of Page and Manafort, but others are being swept up as well. Just a few days ago, one of the Russians suspected of hacking the election was arrested in Madrid at the behest of U.S. investigators. And, all the while, Trump’s attempts to obscure the truth by suggesting that Obama and Rice began this investigation for political reasons, are being shot down right and left. At this point, it’s just a matter of getting someone to flip. And, if he can stay alive long enough, I think it’ll be Carter Page, the man who, according to the Steele Dossier, brokered the deal between Trump and Putin to lift U.S. sanctions against Russia in exchange for a 19 percent stake in the Russian oil company Rosneft. [One wonders if Vegas has odds on the life expectancy of Carter Page.]

While it’s depressing as hell having to live through this, I have to think that, in the end, we’ll know the truth, and whether or not this really was all about oil. One just hopes it happens soon… before too much more damage can be done.

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17 Comments

  1. Meta
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    From CNN: “The Russia story just keeps getting worse for President Trump”

    On the one hand, we have Trump asserting that the whole story of Russia’s attempts to influence the election via connections within his campaign apparatus is “fake news,” and grasping at the idea that somehow, some way he will be eventually proven right in his baseless claims that then-President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.

    On the other, we have FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the heads of both the House and Senate intelligence committees — both Republicans — and lots and lots of other prominent voices within the intelligence community insisting the Russian investigation is entirely justified and that no evidence exists for Trump’s claims.

    Read more:
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/12/politics/trump-carter-page-russia-devin-nunes/index.html

  2. Eel
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    You know that Trump must have told Spicer to go out in front of the press and say “Hitler wasn’t really that bad.”

  3. Rick Cronn
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I read “net” as “noose”. Ever hopeful.

  4. Talking Points Memo‏
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Carter Page now says sanctions “may have come up” during Russia trip (VIDEO) http://bit.ly/2nIA80w

  5. Max
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Carter Page needs a better lawyer. His blathering and practically admitting that he spoke to a Russian agent about lifting sanctions doesn’t seem advisable to me…

  6. Mike White
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I still say that Trump is Rollo Tomassi.

  7. anonymous
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    The New Republic sees it a little differently. As they see it, Page and Manafort were grifters, looking for their next con.

    “Page is not only unable to explain how he came to work for Donald Trump, but also unable to deny that he discussed the easing of sanctions with Russia while working for Trump (which means he almost certainly did).

    It is important to remember that no one expected Trump to win when Manafort and Page went to work with him. Manafort and Page are essentially grifters, going from one well-paid con to another, and both saw Trump’s campaign, which they did not expect to be successful, as a way to gain influence that they could then trade for more money. That doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility that they were Russian agents or the tools of Russian agents, but it suggests that they may have been running their mouths off to Russian agents because they were looking for their next grift. Trump was going to lose, after all, and they had to start looking for the next big pay day.”

  8. M
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    It’s getting weirder still.

    Ex-MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove suggests Trump secretly borrowed from Russia to keep his property empire afloat during the financial crisis.

    https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/interview-richard-dearlove-europe-intelligence-mi6

  9. Maria Huffman
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    yeah, Sean Spicer mangled his explanation…that sometimes military intervention is in the ultimate best interest of persecuted minorities in the face of organized genocide.

  10. Robert
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post. Thanks Mark. Trump must be keeping Spicy for the stupidity distraction factor. Downside is Trump looks stupid, but he’s used to that.

  11. Meta
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    The plot thickens.

    The Guardian: “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia”

    Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

    GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

    Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.

    The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

    Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.

    It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.

    Read more:
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/13/british-spies-first-to-spot-trump-team-links-russia?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_reddit_is_fun

  12. Maria Huffman
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Wishful thinking that Trump is going to get impeached.

  13. M
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Trump doesn’t need Spicer to praise Hitler every day. He can also drop bombs. Today it was the biggest non-nuclear bomb known to mankind, which was just dropped on Afghanistan. They call it MOAB, which stands for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or Mother Of All Bombs.

    http://politi.co/2p0YVgl

  14. Maria Huffman
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Who knew? He saved Obamacare by asking Republicans to get themselves together, and they didn’t and voila! Just like that all that posturing, for all those years was just that, posturing,turns out Republicanns liked Obamacare, after all.

  15. jean henry
    Posted April 14, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    In the march no without proof of direct Trump involvement this will be Iran Contra not Watergate. The emoluments clause remains the best path to impeachment, but it has never been tried, and we would need to turn the house to do it… Best case scenario I see is that the Russia deal plus incompetence wrecks the GOP for 2018. (Turnover is standard after a presidential/both houses victory) and the Dems get their shit together enough to impeach in emoluments, and the American public grows weary of Trumpism and the big zero it offers them personally. And all that happens before North Korea bombs South Korea or any of the other WW3 horror scenarios plays out.

  16. jean henry
    Posted April 14, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    ‘In the end ‘** not whatever that says in the first words up there. (Damn phone)

  17. M
    Posted April 14, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Jean,

    There very well be proof of collusion.

    Slate quoting from the Guardian:

    Buried in the last paragraph of a Guardian story about British intelligence alerting the U.S. to contact between Trump advisers and Russian officials is this sort-of bombshell:

    “One source suggested the official [American] investigation was making progress. ‘They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,’ the source said. ‘This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.'”

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/04/13/_concrete_evidence_of_trump_russia_collusion_exists_the_guardian_reports.html

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