Thursday, August 16, 2018

Through The Russian Mob To The KGB

You've heard it for a year or so from the Republican National Committe, surrogates for Donald Trump, and even from the man himself when he tweeted

Objective fact-checkers, in these cases CNN, The Washington Post, and Politifact, have found this claim to be (on balance) inaccurate. Admittedly, the fact checks took place shortly after Trump's claim in mid-winter.

Several things have changed since then, one only the other day.  Continuing to inch his way, inresponse to a defense bill named after Senator John S. McCain, toward unquestioned authority

When President Trump signed a $716 billion military spending bill on Monday, he claimed the authority to override dozens of provisions that he deemed improper constraints on his executive powers.

In a signing statement that the White House quietly issued after 9 p.m. on Monday — about six hours after Mr. Trump signed the bill in a televised ceremony at Fort Drum in New York — Mr. Trump deemed about 50 of its statutes to be unconstitutional intrusions on his presidential powers, meaning that the executive branch need not enforce or obey them as written.

Among them was a ban on spending military funds on “any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea,” the Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow in 2014 in an incursion considered illegal by the United States. He said he would treat the provision and similar ones as “consistent with the president’s exclusive constitutional authorities as commander in chief and as the sole representative of the nation in foreign affairs.”

Charlie Pierce translates:

In other words, the president* doesn't have to enforce the provision in the JSMNDAA of 2019 that denies the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin's land grab in the Ukraine. It also leaves open the option to spend United States military funds to help Putin maintain control in Crimea if the president* so desires to do so.

The depth and breadth of Donald Trump's relationship with Moscow are shrouded in mystery. However, one clue comes from reporter Craig Unger, who discussed Wednesday on CNN the findings in his new book, "House of Trump, House of Putin." As described in Raw Story (video below from thirteen months ago), in 1984

It started off as a money-laundering operation where a man in the Russian mafia met with Donald Trump in Trump Tower — this new, glitzy building then — and he just came in with $10 million and he said, ‘I’ll buy five condos,'” Unger explained. “That event was typical of at least 1,300 such purchases of Trump properties.”

Unger went on to discuss the next major contact between Trump and Russians, which came in 1987 when he made his first trip to the then-Soviet Union.

In particular, Unger said one of his sources told him that Trump “had lots of fun with women” during his 1987 trip to Russia and that “the Soviets had kompromat” — i.e., compromising information — on him dating back to that trip.

Additionally, Unger said that any contacts with Russia mobsters by Trump should be seen as the same as talking with Russian intelligence officials.

“I interviewed a counter-intelligence officer for the KGB, i asked him about the Russian mafia, and he said it is another part of KGB,” he said. “They are another part of the intelligence.”

"Lots of fun with women" sounds a lot like like Donald Trump. It also sounds a great deal like raw (uncorroborated)intelligence that Christopher Steele was given about Mr. Trump.  Except to the mathematically illiterate, it all adds up to something very serious.

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