Connect with us

News

Russia Is Finally Getting Its Money’s Worth With Trump’s Latest Kremlin Gift Basket

Published

on

Despite the overwhelming influence of a convergence of interests between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, many skeptics about a potential conspiracy or covert alliance between the two have argued that the Kremlin hasn’t gotten much in exchange for its efforts to help Trump get elected.

While Trump has been rhetorically soft on Putin and has waged a public relations campaign against NATO, the some of the overt actions of his administration — launching missiles at Syria, providing arms to the Ukraine, and imposing sanctions on Russian invidiuals and organizations — have gone directly against the Kremlin’s interests, these skeptics say. There has been some truth to these claims, though much of the aggressive action toward Russia has been driven by Congress and fought by the Trump administration.

But on Wednesday, the Trump administration took two major steps in line with Russia’s interests that may help make all the effort Putin went to in supporting his candidacy worth it.

First, and most substantially, Trump announced, out of the blue, that the United States will be pulling out of Syria.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump said on Twitter. Officials have confirmed that planning is underway to withdraw troops.

As analyst Nick Patton Walsh explained, this was a big win for Putin’s interests in the region.

“Without the US in the ring, Russia is the main military force in the post-war Syria,” he wrote in a piece for CNN. “However you divine it, Trump seems to have few qualms about doing things that will please Putin.”

The claim that ISIS is “defeated” in Syria, however, is overly optimistic. Martin Chulov, a Middle East reporter for The Guardian, explained:

The long fight against Islamic State looks good on a map, but it is yet to be decisive on the battlefield.

The terror group has lost more than 95% of the territory it claimed in 2014 and the juggernaut that threatened to shred the region’s borders has been battered back to where it all began for the group’s earliest incarnation – a sliver of land along the Euphrates River, bordering Iraq and Syria.

There, Kurdish-led forces, backed by US air support, have been fighting it out with diehard extremists in towns and villages in Syria’s far eastern Deir ez-Zor province.

At least 2,500 Isis fighters remain, all survivors of routs to the east and west of their last redoubt. Colossal ruin lays in their wake on both sides of the river. But the group retains the capacity to do even more damage, especially if let off the hook now.

Meanwhile, Trump’s own Republican allies are extremely skeptical of his new announcement.

“Withdrawal of this small American force in Syria would be a huge Obama-like mistake,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

“The decision to pull out of Syria was made despite overwhelming military advice against it,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “It is a major blunder.

The GOP has often been far too eager to wield the might of the U.S. military, and there may, in fact, be good reason for the United States to pull out of Syria. But ISIS being “defeated” is not one of them, and it is suspicious that the president primarily chooses to buck his party when it aligns with Putin’s interests.

And despite the major stakes of the decision, CNBC’s Christina Wilkie reports that a senior administration official is refusing to answer any questions about the “deliberative process” behind the Syria pullout. This sugests that there likely was no deliberative process — the president acted on his own.

“I’ve never seen a decision like this,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) after meeting at the White House to discuss the decision. “For all involved, this was a major shock.”

Others who are often critical of the president also found the move bewildering.

“Why would Trump do this now? Who knows?” wrote commentator Max Boot. “Given that he is acting at odds with his advisers, this is clearly not the result of a normal policy-review process. This is the Trump Doctrine in operation: Trump does whatever he wants. It could be based on what he had for breakfast — or there could be something more sinister going on.”

Another move brought by the Trump administration Wednesday will likely mean Putin is going to be even more pleased with the president. The Treasury Department annouced Wednesday that it will be rolling back sanctions — passed by Congress as punishment for Russia’s election interference — on entities tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Ostensibly, this move was taken because Deripaska is divesting a significant portion of his financial stakes in these entities. However, there are serious reasons for concern about this action.

For one, Deripaska himself has troubling ties to the Trump campaign. Court filings show that Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort was heavily indebted to Deripaska. And uncovered emails have shown that, during the campaign, Manafort reportedly offered his position within the Trump campaign as having the potential to resolve his debt to Deripaska.

But even leaving aside the shady Deripaska connection, the Treasury’s move is troubling on its own terms.

As law professor Jed Shugerman pointed out, the entities buying up Deripaska’s shares in the sanctioned businesses are themselves deeply suspicious. One of those entities, VTB Bank, has been named as a potential funder for the Trump Tower Moscow project the president was working on during the campaign. The other firm is Glencore.

“Glencore is being investigated for money laundering, and has been doing big business with Deripaska for years,” noted Shugerman.

So after fighting Congress over Russia sanctions all along the way, the Trump administration is now rolling back some of these key penalties under highly dubious circumstances.

In response to the rollback of the sanctions, former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah said: “So, the quid pro quo in plain sight.”

It’s not clear yet if there was an explicit conspiracy between Trump and Russians in the run-up to the 2016 election. But is clear that Putin had a strong desire for Trump to win — in part because he hated Hillary Clinton and in part because he thought Trump would be amenable to his interests. This Christmas season, it’s clear Putin is getting exactly what he wanted.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

There Was Another Sexual Misconduct Accusation About Brett Kavanaugh – The FBI Refused to Investigate

Published

on

NYT Reveals FBI Also Refused to Interview 25 Potential Witnesses in Previously Reported Allegation of Sexual Assault

The New York Times published a bombshell story Saturday night, reporting that a man had contacted the FBI during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh. He alleged, according to the Times, that Kavanaugh was at a drunken dorm party with his pants pulled down, and “friends pushed [Kavanaugh’s] penis into the hand of a female student.

The witness “notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate.”

The Times also took a deep dive into the public allegations made by Deborah Ramirez during the Kavanaugh hearings.

“She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it,” which had been previously reported.

“During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been ‘the talk of campus.’ Our reporting suggests that it was,” the Times reveals.

“At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.”

The Times reports the FBI did not investigate, despite the Kavanaugh hearings having been put on hold, supposedly to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct, including alleged sexual violence.

“Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own,” the Times continues.

Two F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez, telling her that they found her “credible.” But the Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the investigation. “‘We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else,’” Bill Pittard, one of Ms. Ramirez’s lawyers, recalled the agents saying. “It was almost a little apologetic.”

The Times chose to hide this reporting in its opinion pages as “news analysis.”

This bombshell reporting comes on the heels of another bombshell: Attorney General Bill Barr is giving a prestigious Dept. of Justice award, generally reserved for agents whose investigations uncover, say, attempted terrorism. This year the recipients will be those FBI agents who, as the Times reported separately, worked “to support the nomination” of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was confirmed by a 50-48 vote in the Senate.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

Continue Reading

News

DOJ Obstructs House Impeachment Inquiry – Asks Federal Court to Block Release of Mueller Grand Jury Files: Report

Published

on

In a stunning move iAttorney General Bill Barr’s Dept of Justice late Friday afternoon filed a 40-page brief with a federal court, declaring the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry is not an impeachment inquiry, in an attempt to block release of files related to the Mueller probe.

It appears to be an unprecedented act, in which the top law enforcement agency is attempting to block Congress from carrying out its constitutional duties.

The DOJ is attempting to block the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury files, according to Politico. House Democrats have frequently said they cannot make an impeachment decision without the underlying materials from Mueller’s exhaustive investigation.

Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio broke the story, heralding the developments via Twitter:

UPDATE:

 

Developing…

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.

Continue Reading

News

Lawyers Say It’s ‘Clear’ Grand Jury Has Not Indicted McCabe and Are Asking End to Prosecution

Published

on

Attorneys for former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe are urging federal prosecutors to drop the case against him, saying it is “clear” the grand jury refused to indict him. McCabe has been a target of President Donald Trump and some believe the attempt to prosecute him is political, or an effort to go after the president’s political enemies.

Noting that both The New York Times and the Washington Post “published stories suggesting that the grand jury may have declined to vote in favor of charges,” McCabe’s attorney writes “the only fair and just result is for you to accept the grand jury’s decision and end these proceedings.”

They also warn that if the grand jury declined to indict, “the justice manual compels you not to resubmit the case to the same or a different grand jury.”

The Washington Post adds that McCabe’s legal team “has asked federal prosecutors in D.C. whether a grand jury had rejected their bid to indict the FBI’s former acting director on charges of lying to investigators, pointing to media inquiries and news accounts detailing a series of unusual events in the case.”

The letter was posted to Twitter by Politico national security correspondent Natasha Bertrand, who is also an MSNBC contributor.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2019 AlterNet Media.