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‘Most of the GOP Leadership Has Been Compromised’ by Russian Money Says Trump Biographer



A biographer who detailed the relationship between Donald Trump and the Russian mob explained that Russia’s financial links to the United States extend far beyond the president.

Craig Unger, author of House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia, wrote in a Reddit AMA that one of the biggest surprise in his book is how Trump has been compromised “for decades.”

“Trump was first compromised by the Russians in the Eighties back in the days of the Soviet Union and the Cold War,” Unger wrote. “In 1984, my book shows, the Russian Mafia first began to use Trump real estate to launder money and it continued for decades and may have accounted for billions of dollars flowing to Trump.”

In 1998, he added, Trump took out full-page ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post after his first trip to Russia that touted “a foreign policy that was very anti-NATO.”

In the 90’s, Unger wrote, Russians began sending money to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), a longtime congressman who later became House Majority Leader. He also suggested that the mafia was sending money to other Republicans as well.

“I believe most of the GOP leadership has been compromised by” Russian money, the author added. “The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee run by Mitch McConnell got millions from [Soviet-born businessman] Leonard Blavatnik.”

“As for the endgame,” Unger concluded, “I think it is already [beginning] to unravel.”

Read Unger’s entire AMA via Reddit.

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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Giuliani Caught Trying to Score Cash From Ukraine Gas Company – Exactly What He Accused Hunter Biden of Doing



In an ironic twist, Rudy Giuliani has been caught trying to make money off of a Ukraine gas company while trying to accuse former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter of doing the same.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Giuliani was trying to score major cash while manifesting a conspiracy theory to sink the Bidens.

“Their aims were profit, not politics,” the AP reported. “This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.”

Meanwhile, Giuliani and Trump were trying to get Ukraine leaders to say the Bidens were the corrupt ones.

The plan “hit a snag,” the AP reported, after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who ran on a campaign of ridding the country of its corruption problems. Zelenskiy, however, is now caught up in a corruption scandal with Giuliani and Trump.

In a call with Republicans Friday, Trump threw Energy Secretary Rick Perry under the bus, saying it was at the secretary’s urging that Trump call Ukraine. Perry denied the claim during an appearance on the Christian Broadcast Network, saying he would swear to God he had nothing to do with it.

“It’s unclear if Perry’s attempts to replace board members at [Ukrainian gas company] Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts,” said the AP. “And it’s unclear what role, if any, Giuliani had in helping his clients push to get gas sales agreements with the state-owned company.”

It does reveal the extent to which Trump’s allies and his administration was willing to go to pursue a business deal with Ukraine, even if they refused to cooperate in Trump’s conspiracy about the Bidens.

“It also raises questions about whether Trump allies were mixing business and politics just as Republicans were calling for a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served five years on the board of another Ukrainian energy company, Burisma,” said the AP.

The AP went on to say they interviewed four people with direct knowledge of Trump’s attempts to influence Naftogaz, and Rick Perry played “a key role in the effort.” All sources didn’t want to be fully identified, but one was an American businessman with ties to Ukraine’s energy industry.

Related: Rick Perry’s Role in Trump Ukraine Extortion Plot Was Greater Than Previously Known: Report

“The Trump and Giuliani allies driving the attempt to change the senior management at Naftogaz, however, appear to have had inside knowledge of the U.S. government’s plans in Ukraine,” said the AP. “For example, they told people that Trump would replace the U.S. ambassador there months before she was actually recalled to Washington, according to three of the individuals interviewed by the AP. One of the individuals said he was so concerned by the whole affair that he reported it to a U.S. Embassy official in Ukraine months ago.”

Two Soviet-born Florida real estate entrepreneurs, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were among those angling for a role in the Naftogaz gas plan. The two men gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to Republican candidates in 2018 and $325,000 to Trump’s political action committees.

“This helped the relatively unknown entrepreneurs gain access to top levels of the Republican Party — including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago,” reported the AP. “During the same period, they were pursuing the Naftogaz deal, the two were coordinating with Giuliani to set up meetings with Ukrainian government officials and push for an investigation of the Bidens.”

Harry Sargeant III was a third businessman in the running for a deal with Naftogaz. He along with his wife and corporations tied to him have given at least $1.2 million to GOP campaigns in the last 20 years and $100,000 to a Trump PAC in June. He even donated to Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign, to the tune of $14,000.

“On March 24, Giuliani and Parnas gathered at the Trump International Hotel in Washington with Healy E. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign adviser who once served as deputy communications director for Giuliani’s presidential campaign and as a communications official during the George W. Bush administration,” the AP said. “She is now listed as the CEO of 45 Energy Group, a Houston-based energy company whose website describes it as a “government relations, public affairs and business development practice group.’”

It was just weeks after her Houston meeting with Naftogaz executive Andrew Favorov. They reportedly pitched a business plan involving gas deals in the former Soviet Union countries in eastern Europe. Giuliani said those deals were about Uzbekistan, however.

“I have not pursued a deal in the Ukraine. I don’t know about a deal in the Ukraine. I would not do a deal in the Ukraine now, obviously,” said Giuliani. “There is absolutely no proof that I did it, because I didn’t do it.”

He refused to discuss the business deals any further.

Read the full report from the AP.

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Trump Demands Even More Border Wall Billions in 2020 Budget



Donald Trump speaking at a rally, with a "finish the wall" sign in the foreground

President Trump will be seeking an additional $8.5 billion dollars for border wall construction on Monday when submits his 2020 budget request, according to Reuters.

The request eclipses the amount currently allocated for border projects as well as the number requested by the President in a contentious battle that closed the United States government for more than a month at the beginning of the year. It is also more than the president is attempting to gain by invoking a national emergency to fund the construction.

Trump had demanded $5.7 billion dollars for the wall in 2019, receiving only $1.375 billion for fencing and other needs. This led to Trump declaring a national emergency, reallocating $8.1 billion towards wall construction. 

The national emergency declaration will likely be held up in court for some time, pushing the overall bill higher.

The amount also comes in below estimates for building or replacing some 722 miles of border wall, requested in 2017 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). At that time, the department was seeking $18 billion dollars. 

Such a request is also unlikely to be met: his request will not likely make it through the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

The fight will likely be part of the backdrop for the 2020 presidential campaign, with President Trump already using “finish the wall” as a campaign slogan. The construction of a southern border wall was a key promise during his 2016 bid, although at the time he was claiming that our southern neighbor, Mexico, would pay for the barrier.

The president is also planning to seek more money for the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including more law enforcement officers and immigration judges. In exchange, the budget again seeks deep cuts to many non-defense programs.

The budget needs to be passed by October 1, and failure to do so would once against shutter the government. 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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