Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Follow The Rubles


I bet Señor Trumpanzee is sorry he ever hired Stormy Daniels to go to bed with him. Funny the porn star has a lawyer better than Trump's whole legal team! Unlike Trumpanzee, Michael Avenatti actually did go to and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Avenatti also graduated first in his class from George Washington University Law School where he worked with Jonathan Turley and got every award available. Michael Cohen, for example got his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School , one of America's schlockiest law schools, fighting to hold onto its accreditation, one of ten American law schools found to be out of compliance with the American Bar Association's requirement that schools only admit students who appear capable of earning a J.D. degree and passing the bar examination. As you know, Señor Trumpanzee only hires the best people. And... everyone know there was no collusion, no collusion... NO COLLUSION. Except there was. Putin put Trump into the White House. Trump is an illegitimate "president." He should be impeached immediately. This is one of the most shameful episodes in American history.

CNN made it into an exclusive yesterday. The exclusive-- which is news everywhere-- was that Mueller's investigators have questioned Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch, a sanctioned Putin puppet and multibillionaire who is one of the half dozen richest men in Russia, about hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments his company's U.S. affiliate made to Michael Cohen, immediately after the election. "The purpose of the payments," CNN naively reported, "which predate the sanctions, and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is unclear."
The scrutiny of the payments could add to the legal troubles for Cohen, whose home and office were raided last month as part of a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. In court documents, the prosecutors said at least part of their inquiry stemmed from a referral from Mueller's office.

The questions asked of Vekselberg suggest that Mueller investigators have been examining some of Cohen's business relationships as part of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Vekselberg is one of two Russian oligarchs the FBI stopped earlier this year after their private jets landed in New York-area airports as part of Mueller's investigation.

Investigators also asked Vekselberg about donations the head of his US affiliate made to Trump's inaugural fund and campaign funds, sources said.

The attorney for Stormy Daniels-- the porn star who received $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago-- produced information Tuesday evening that appears to add further details to CNN's reporting. Michael Avenatti alleged that Cohen received half a million dollars from a company affiliated with Vekselberg in the months after the presidential election.

Avenatti alleged the $500,000 went into the bank account for Essential Consultants, a shell company that Cohen set up before the election that was used to pay Daniels. Avenatti added that the payments occurred from January to August 2017.

...Vekselberg's cousin Intrater gave generously to support Trump.

He donated $250,000 to the Trump inauguration fund, $35,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, and $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

While it is illegal for foreigners to donate to US politics, Intrater is American.

However, the donations were a sharp increase from previous cycles and may raise questions for investigators. Intrater's only previous political donations included $1,200 to Democrat Bill Richardson's presidential run in 2008 and $2,600 in 2014 for Republican Chris Day's congressional race in New York. Renova Group donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, but it's not clear when the contribution occurred, according to the foundation's public list of donors.

Vekselberg may also be of interest to investigators because of his close ties to the Kremlin. He built his fortune following the collapse of the Soviet Union through a series of deals in the oil and gas sector. In 2004, he paid over $100 million to buy nine Faberge eggs from the American Forbes family, returning the second-largest collection of imperial eggs to Russia. Six years later, he was appointed by then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to lead the Skolkovo Innovation Center project, the Kremlin's answer to Silicon Valley.

From 2007 until March 2012, Vekselberg was a shareholder and chairman of the board of Rusal, the aluminum company controlled by Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska has business ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has been indicted on fraud and tax related charges as part of Mueller's investigation. Manafort has pleaded not guilty. Deripaska, who also was added to the US sanctions list last month, has sued Manafort over a soured investment deal.

Lamesa Investments Ltd, an affiliate of Renova, acquired a large stake in the Bank of Cyprus at the same time Wilbur Ross, then a private equity investor, made a capital infusion into the then-struggling bank. Lamesa now holds a 9.2% stake in the Bank of Cyprus. Ross resigned from his position as vice chairman of the bank after he was confirmed as Trump's commerce secretary.

Vekselberg also attended the December 2015 dinner in Moscow for RT, the state-controlled television channel, where Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, sat beside Putin, according to NBC News. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying about a call he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition and is cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

Vekselberg attended Trump's inauguration ceremony as a guest of "one of his closest American business partners," Renova spokesman Andrey Shtorkh told the Washington Post. The New York Times reported that Intrater gave Vekselberg the ticket.
So why is the CNN reported so tepid and tentative? Maybe it was because Trump was carrying on again about "fake news" and taking away the White House credentials of news organizations that don't report the White House party line.

This afternoon, New York published a piece by Frank Rich, Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places that may even shut up Giuliani and the orange ape he works for. Rich starts with the question the whole country is asking: "With Michael Avenatti’s revelation that the shell company Michael Cohen used for the Stormy Daniels payoff also received money tied to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg (as well as payments from other companies with government business), it looks like the two main threads of Donald Trump’s legal troubles may be part of the same story. Has Avenatti found the 'collusion' that Trump has spent so much energy denying?" and he starts the process of answering it: "Avenatti, whose revelations have since been verified by the Times and others, is doing exactly what Woodward and Bernstein did in Watergate-- following the money. By doing so he has unveiled an example of collusion so flagrant that it made Trump and Rudy Giuliani suddenly go mute: a Putin crony’s cash turns out to be an essential component of the racketeering scheme used to silence Stormy Daniels and thus clear Trump’s path to the White House in the final stretch of the 2016 election. Like the Nixon campaign slush fund that Woodward and Bernstein uncovered, this money trail also implicates corporate players hoping to curry favor with a corrupt president. Back then it was the telecommunications giant ITT, then fending off antitrust suits from the government, that got caught red-handed; this time it’s AT&T. Both the Nixon and Trump slush funds were initially set up to illegally manipulate an American presidential election, hush money included. But the Watergate burglars’ dirty tricks, criminal as they were, were homegrown. Even Nixon would have drawn the line at colluding with Russians-- or, in those days, the Soviets-- to sabotage the Democrats."

And don't forget Rachel Maddow. Last night her analysis was far more courageous than CNN's "exclusive" reporting. A slight addition though: it turns out AT&T's bribe wasn't a measly $200,000 but a bribe more befitting Sr. Trumpanzee: $600,000. And late this afternoon Novartis admitted it gave Cohen a million buckaroos, not a mere $400,000.

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At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cohen also scammed 1.2 million bucks from Novartis. Maybe you should do a "Follow the krona" story too. Cohen is just a grafter, kinda like someone else we know. One point two million bucks just for saying hello. Hillary must be green with envy.

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillary has nothing to do with this and your efforts to inject some degree of false equivalency into the conversation is bad-faith bullshitting.

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using "Señor Trumpanzee" carries a double negative connotation. As a Hispanic/Latino I feel offended by your use of the word "Señor" in this context. As an animal protector, chimpanzees are worthy of appreciation. Also there is no need to dehumanize Trump supporters, I don't like them but this is not the way to confront them.

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the snowflakes above, give it a rest already.

The Hillary rip was not a cheap shot. The Clinton foundation has been a way to buy access to the Clinton oligarchy and presumed 2016 presidency for years. A reminder of this is NOT a cheap shot.

The Senor Trumpanzee is a mocking reminder of the simian-in-chief's racism. It's the same as calling kanye an 'uncle tom'. Senor orange-u-tan would be better, but it's a little too obscure (unless you watch Bill Maher) for most. Yeah, both would be something of a shot at those great apes... but you gotta understand context dontcha?

Wrt the piece, if Avenatti can get this stuff, why can't the media? Why can't even the less-Nazified corporate media? To me, this is a total indictment of all corporate media. Did even any EU media find this?

Perhaps asking voters to get their melons outta their sphincters *IS* asking far too much. After only a couple of years of total media propaganda in Germany, they swallowed the hook. And they were much smarter than we are now. We've had decades of this shit.

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blather, blather, blather. Meanwhile, the grifters are stealing everything not properly secured and leaving We the People to pay the bill and clean up the mess.

I sometimes feel I'm watching a variation of Blazing Saddles where Sheriff Bart is holding himself hostage at gunpoint while the "salt of the earth" citizens of the town stand about shocked and asking "Won't somebody help that poor man?"

Somebody had left town long before Mongo showed up. Nobody was left.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Anon said...

Oooh, hit a nerve, huh? If there was a serious Mueller-like investigation of all the cash flowing into Clinton Foundation . . .
But I get it, you're


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