August 10, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 6:13 PM


GOP Operative Made "Suspicious" Cash Withdrawals During Pursuit Of Clinton Emails (Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier. August 10, 2018, BuzzFeed News)

In one of the most intriguing episodes of the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican activist Peter W. Smith launched an independent effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails to help defeat her and elect Donald Trump. His quest, which reportedly brought him into contact with at least two sets of hackers that he himself believed were Russian, remains a key focus of investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Now, BuzzFeed News has reviewed documents showing that FBI agents and congressional investigators have zeroed in on transactions Smith made right as his effort to procure Clinton's emails heated up. Just a day after he finished a report suggesting he was working with Trump campaign officials, for example, he transferred $9,500 from an account he had set up to fund the email project to his personal account, later taking out more than $4,900 in cash. According to a person with direct knowledge of Smith's project, the Republican operative stated that he was prepared to pay hackers "many thousands of dollars" for Clinton's emails -- and ultimately did so. [...]

The money trail, made public here for the first time, sheds new light on Smith's effort, in which he told people he was in touch with both Russians on the dark web and Trump campaign officials -- particularly Michael Flynn, who was then a top adviser to the Trump campaign and later served as national security adviser before having to resign after misleading White House officials about his meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Intelligence agencies have given the FBI information that Russian hackers talked about passing Clinton's emails to Flynn through a cutout, according to two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Posted by orrinj at 5:54 PM


Strange Bedfellows: Is the US Supporting al-Qaeda in Yemen? (Abigail Liebing, August 10, 2018, Politico)

For the past two years, the civil war in Yemen has gone almost unnoticed in the US. Yemen is currently one of the most dangerous countries in the world, suffering from violence, starvation, and now an outbreak of cholera. The focus of the news media in the US has been elsewhere. Case in point, out that in the past year MSNBC has hardly mentioned Yemen but has had 455 segments about Stormy Daniels. But with the recent discovery of how al-Qaeda has been involved with the US-supported, Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen, there may be a few more eyes turned towards the fray.

A Saudi-led coalition, that is predominantly Sunni, has been sweeping through Yemen fighting the Iranian-supported Houthi rebels and driving al-Qaeda out of some of its strongholds throughout the country. , the coalition has been bargaining with al-Qaeda militants, paying them to leave cities, or letting them retreat with weapons, money, and equipment. In addition, the coalition has been recruiting al-Qaeda fighters to join them in the bigger fight against the Shiite Houthis.

Though this discovery is rather recent, it appears as though the quid pro quo has been going on for some time. In February 2018, Emirati forces (which are part of the bigger Saudi-led, Arab coalition) reclaimed al-Said, a region that has been largely under al-Qaeda control. It was recognized as quite a victory. But a tribal mediator who was involved said that the al-Qaeda forces left weeks before the Emirati forces and their Yemeni counterparts even arrived. And they left peacefully. Al Jazeera reported that "under the terms of the agreement, the coalition promised al-Qaeda members it would pay them up to 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,000) to leave, according to Awad al-Dahboul, the province's security chief." And the recruitment of al-Qaeda fighters was part of the agreement. Two officials and a mediator estimated that for every 1,000 fighters recruited into the Emirati forces to fight the Houthis, 50 to 70 would be al-Qaeda.

Then we feign confusion about why we aren't loved in the Middle East...

Posted by orrinj at 3:44 PM


Omarosa says Trump is a racist who uses N-word - and claims there's tape to prove it (dAVID sMITH, 8/10/18, tHE gUARDIAN)

Donald Trump is a "racist" who has used the "N-word" repeatedly, Omarosa Manigault Newman, once the most prominent African American in the White House, claims in a searing memoir.

The future US president was caught on mic uttering the taboo racial slur "multiple times" during the making of his reality TV show The Apprentice and there is a tape to prove it, according to Manigault Newman, citing three unnamed sources.

Trump has been haunted from around the time of his election in 2016 by allegations that outtakes from the reality TV show exist in which he is heard saying the N-word and using other offensive language.

Posted by orrinj at 4:04 AM


White anxiety finds a home at Fox News (Tom Kludt and Brian Stelter, 8/09/18, CNNMoney)

It wasn't so much a dog whistle as it was an airhorn. Or perhaps a primal scream. But whatever it was, Laura Ingraham's forceful denunciation of "massive demographic changes" served as another raw example of a Fox News host echoing white nationalist language.
Perhaps it was a glimpse into President Donald Trump's well of support, too.

The Fox News audience is almost 100% white, according to Nielsen. And on the channel's highest-rated shows, the politics of white anxiety play out practically every day, as hosts and guests warn about the impacts of immigration and minimize or mock the perspectives of people of color. The talk show segments are clearly intended to appeal to people who perceive they are losing their grip on power.

Posted by orrinj at 4:01 AM


Trump's staff tricked him into signing a pro-NATO agreement. (Jeet Heer, 8/09/18, New Republic)

The New York Times has published a remarkable reconstruction of the July NATO meeting, the upshot of which is that the staff of President Donald Trump successfully conspired to get him to sign an agreement supporting the troubled alliance against his own policy preferences. The machinations, which were led by National Security Advisor John Bolton and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, were done to avoid the fiasco of the June G-7 summit in Quebec, where the president ended up not signing the final communiqué.

As The Times notes, "In June, weeks before the meeting, Mr. Bolton sent his demand to Brussels through Kay Bailey Hutchison, the American ambassador to NATO. He wanted the NATO communiqué to be completed early, before the president left for Europe."

The idea was to reach an agreement that was strongly pro-NATO,and could counteract the president's tendency to criticize the alliance and to call for greater co-operation with Russia.

When John Bolton is a moderating influence you're in deep trouble.

Posted by orrinj at 3:57 AM


U.S. curbs on Russian banks would be act of economic war: PM (Reuters) 

Russia would consider any U.S. move to curb the operations of Russian banks or their foreign currency dealings a declaration of economic war, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.

No one questions that Vlad opposing Hillary's election was a simple matter of national defense.