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Just got back from a week in Jamaica... what'd I miss?
Just got back from a week in Jamaica... what'd I miss?
Manafort - ostrich coat wearing elephant in the room?
New information in this story suggests that these two, seemingly unrelated scandals, in which the House will judge whether the president’s conduct in each case constituted extra-legal and extra-constitutional abuses of presidential power, are in fact inextricably linked: the Ukrainian initiative appears to have begun in service of formulating a rationale by which the president could pardon Manafort, as part of an effort to undermine the special counsel’s investigation.
From 2004 to 2014, Manafort had advised President Viktor Yanukovych, who advocated that his country sever ties with the United States and other Western nations, and align itself more closely with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. After Yanukovych fled the country in disgrace in 2014, a ledger was recovered from the burned-out ruins of his Party of Regions. Its records showed that Yanukovych and his political allies had made some $12.7 million in secret cash payments to Manafort. The disclosure led directly to Manafort’s resignation in August 2016 as chairman of the Trump presidential campaign.
The records I have reviewed also indicate that on at least three occasions, Rudy Giuliani was in communication with Manafort’s legal team to discuss how the White House was pushing a narrative that the Democratic National Committee, Democratic donors, and Ukrainian government officials had “colluded” to defeat Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. (This story has since been debunked as baseless, though that has not prevented Trump, Giuliani, and other surrogates in conservative media from repeatedly pushing the story.)
In particular, the records show that Manafort’s camp provided Giuliani with information designed to smear two people: one was a Ukrainian journalist and political activist named Serhiy Leshchenko, whom Manafort believed, correctly, of helping to uncover Manafort’s secret payments from Yanukovych; another was Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American political consultant and US citizen, whom Manafort suspected, mistakenly in this case, was also behind the exposé. The records also show that Giuliani and attorneys for Manafort exchanged information about the then US ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who Giuliani believed had attempted to undercut his covert Ukrainian diplomacy and fact-finding; the records are unclear as to whether it was Giuliani or Manafort’s attorney who first initiated their discussion about her.
After his arrest in 2017, Manafort continued to encourage President Trump and his lawyers to engage in this effort when they joined Manafort in a joint legal defense agreement. Attorneys are allowed to enter into such agreements in order share information and coordinate legal, public relations, and political strategies—in this case regarding the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including that of the special counsel. Federal courts have long ruled that joint defense agreements are legal to protect the due process rights of those under investigation, as long as they are not used by potential defendants to coordinate providing cover stories or false information to prosecutors.
Trump’s dangling of pardons to Manafort and others who might provide damaging testimony against the president to law enforcement agents, such as his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, have been widely reported, both by news media outlets and in the Mueller Report. According to the participant in the joint defense agreement discussions, Manafort was distressed at the uncertainty about whether President Trump would pardon him. There was no formal understanding that Trump would do so, because this would instantly have raised the specter of whether such a pardon might constitute an obstruction of justice.
Instead, Manafort and those around him took the very public efforts by Giuliani to press Ukraine to investigate Manafort’s accusers as a favorable signal that the president might still pardon him after the 2020 presidential election. Trump is famously transactional, and Manafort feared that the president might be leading him on, according to the person who was party to the joint defense agreement communications. Giuliani’s constant touting of the Ukraine issue proved “reassuring” to Manafort, albeit to “a limited degree,” according to this person.
If Giuliani’s own account can be believed, it was while he was looking into the purported Ukrainian collusion to defeat Trump that he stumbled upon Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine. “The reality is I came about this by accident, investigating Ukrainian collusion with Democrats to affect the election,” Giuliani said in an interview with Fox News on May 10.
Giuliani did not add that he was also pressing for Kiev to investigate Manafort’s enemies"
The allegations that President Trump improperly pressured the head of state of a foreign government to improperly investigate the son of his potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 presidential race, and even withheld $250 million in military aid to that country, have become grounds for an...www.nybooks.com
More Manafort history in this mess is becoming relevant:
All comes down to Manafort
More lutsenko connections happenin':More Manafort history in this mess is becoming relevant:
The State Department at the time did not look into the possibility that Lutsenko allowed Kilimnik to leave Ukraine at the encouragement of anyone associated with President Trump. One former senior US diplomatic official explained to me, “I don’t think anyone ever seriously considered it… because it would have seemed implausible.” In recent days, however, it has been disclosed that President Trump had pressured Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to order his new prosecutor general to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, to benefit Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign; that he pressured Zelensky to reinstate Lutsenko (whom Zelensky had fired) to his former position, threatening to withhold almost $400 million in military and security aid to Ukraine. This same official told me that today “it hardly appears implausible anymore that people around the president would have asked Ukrainian officials to interfere” with the Mueller investigation; this same person now recommends that the House committee conducting its impeachment inquiry of President Trump expand its probe to investigate the matter of Kilimnik’s escape to Russia as well.
Kim Wehle, formerly an Assistant US Attorney, and a constitutional scholar and professor at the University of Baltimore Law School, told me that if President Trump helped Kilimnik avoid standing trial or testifying in the US, that might constitute obstruction of justice, as well as “high crimes and misdemeanors” bearing on impeachment as envisioned by the Founding Fathers: “To do anything to prevent a witness from testifying—here, by manipulating the massive power of your high office to protect yourself from [potential] criminal liability or impeachment jeopardy—might be an impeachable offense,” Wehle said.
For more than a decade, Kilimnik had been Manafort’s right hand man in Kiev. During that time, the two men collected tens of millions in fees as political consultants for Viktor Yanukovych, who served as the president of Ukraine from 2010 to 2014. Yanukovych advocated that his country sever ties with the United States and other Western nations, and align itself more closely with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Manafort and Kilimnik also consulted with Yanukovych’s political party, the Party of Regions, and with Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs with close ties to Yanukovych and Putin.
According to evidence contained in the Mueller report, throughout 2016 Manafort shared confidential polling data from inside the Trump campaign with Kilimnik regarding four states Manafort presciently believed might go for Trump: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Manafort, in turn, instructed Kilimnik to turn over the polling data to a former client, Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to Putin. During the course of his investigation, the special counsel also disclosed that Kilimnik himself was “a former Russian intelligence officer” who still “has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”"
A classified State Department assessment concluded in 2018 that Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko—who is at the center of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump—had allowed a vital potential witness for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Konstantin Kilimnik, to escape from...www.nybooks.com
AhemCan you imagine? Would be non stop scandals and investigations!!
The Orange Minstrel warned us during the campaign:
"October 28 in Cedar Rapids, IA
“As you’ve heard, earlier today the FBI after discovering new emails is reopening their investigation into Hillary Clinton… The investigation is the biggest political scandal since Watergate and it’s everybody’s hope that justice at last can be delivered.”
November 2 in Miami, FL
“If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis. Haven’t we just been through a lot with the Clintons, right?”
November 2 in Orlando, FL
“Hillary is likely to be under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a criminal trial.”
November 4 in Atkinson, NH
“She'll be under investigation for years. She'll be with trials. Our country, we have to get back to work.”
November 4 in Wilmington, OH
“Hillary has engaged in a criminal massive enterprise and cover-ups like probably nobody ever before.”
November 5 in Reno, NV
“There's virtually no doubt that FBI Director Comey and the great, great special agents of the FBI will be able to collect more than enough evidence to garner indictments against Hillary Clinton and her inner circle, despite her efforts to disparage them and to discredit them. If she were to win this election, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. In that situation, we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial.”
November 5 in Denver, CO
“Her current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her presidency and we will make it honestly, look, it's gonna be virtually impossible for her to govern. Now, the Republicans have talked very tough and the Democrats. It's gonna be just another mess for another four years, folks. A mess. We've got to get back to work, right? I mean, we have to get back to work.”
November 6 in Minneapolis, MN
“First thing you should do is get rid of Clinton. Hillary Clinton will be under investigation for a long, long time for her many crimes against our nation, our people, our democracy, likely concluding in a criminal trial.”
November 6 in Moon Township, PA
“The investigations into her crimes will go on for a long, long time. The rank and file special agents at the FBI won't let her get away with these terrible crimes, including the deletion of 33,000 emails after receiving a congressional subpoena. Right now, she's being protected by a rigged system"