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The Russiagate witch-hunt – the deep state’s ‘insurance policy’

The Russia investigation is a planned and premeditated effort by the establishment to overthrow a democratically elected president

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(AntiWar,com) – There was a sinister plot to meddle in the 2016 election, after all. But it was not orchestrated from the Kremlin; it was an entirely homegrown affair conducted from the inner sanctums – the White House, DOJ, the Hoover Building and Langley – of the Imperial City.

Likewise, the perpetrators didn’t speak Russian or write in the Cyrillic script. In fact, they were lifetime beltway insiders occupying the highest positions of power in the US government.

Here are the names and rank of the principal conspirators: John Brennan, CIA director; Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; Samantha Power, UN Ambassador; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; James Comey, FBI director; Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI director; Sally Yates, deputy Attorney General, Bruce Ohr, associate deputy AG; Peter Strzok, deputy assistant director of FBI counterintelligence; Lisa Page, FBI lawyer; and countless other lessor and greater poobahs of Washington power, including President Obama himself.

To a person, the participants in this illicit cabal shared the core trait that made Obama such a blight on the nation’s well-being. To wit, he never held an honest job outside the halls of government in his entire adult life; and as a careerist agent of the state and practitioner of its purported goods works, he exuded a sanctimonious disdain for everyday citizens who make their living along the capitalist highways and byways of America.

The above cast of election-meddlers, of course, comes from the same mold. If Wikipedia is roughly correct, just these 10 named perpetrators have punched in about 300 years of postgraduate employment – and 260 of those years (87%) were on government payrolls or government contractor jobs.

As to whether they shared Obama’s political class arrogance, Peter Strzok left nothing to the imagination in his now celebrated texts to his gal-pal, Lisa Page:

“Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support……I LOATHE congress….And F Trump.”

You really didn’t need the ALL CAPS to get the gist.

In a word, the anti-Trump cabal is comprised of creatures of the state.

Their now obvious effort to alter the outcome of the 2016 election was nothing less than the Imperial City’s immune system attacking an alien threat, which embodied the very opposite trait: That is, the Donald had never spent one moment on the state’s payroll, had been elected to no government office and displayed a spirited contempt for the groupthink and verities of officialdom in the Imperial City.

But it is the vehemence and flagrant transparency of this conspiracy to prevent Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office that reveals the profound threat to capitalism and democracy posed by the Deep State and its prosperous elites and fellow travelers domiciled in the Imperial City.

That is to say, Donald Trump was no kind of anti-statist and only a skin-deep populist, at best. His signature anti-immigrant meme was apparently discovered by accident when in the early days of the campaign he went off on Mexican thugs, rapists and murderers – only to find that it resonated strongly among a certain element of the GOP grass roots.

But a harsh line on immigrants, refugees and Muslims would not have incited the Deep State into an attempted coup d’état; it wouldn’t have mobilized so overtly against Ted Cruz, for example, whose positions on the ballyhooed terrorist/immigrant threat were not much different.

No, what sent the Imperial City establishment into a fit of apoplexy was exactly two things that struck at the core of its raison d’ etre.

First was Trump’s stated intentions to seek rapprochement with Putin’s Russia and his sensible embrace of a noninterventionist”America First” view of Washington’s role in the world. And secondly, and even more importantly, was his very persona.

That is to say, the role of today’s president is to function as the suave, reliable maître d’ of the Imperial City and the lead spokesman for Washington’s purported good works at home and abroad. And for that role the slovenly, loud-mouthed, narcissistic, bombastic, ill-informed and crudely-mannered Donald Trump was utterly unqualified.

Stated differently, welfare statism and warfare statism is the secular religion of the Imperial City and its collaborators in the mainstream media; and the Oval Office is the bully pulpit from which its catechisms, bromides and self-justifications are propagandized to the unwashed masses – the tax-and-debt-slaves of Flyover America who bear the burden of its continuation.

Needless to say, the Never Trumpers were eminently correct in their worry that Trump would sully, degrade and weaken the Imperial Presidency. That he has done in spades with his endless tweet storms that consist mainly of petty score settling, self-justification, unseemly boasting and shrill partisanship; and on top of that you can pile his impetuous attacks on friend, foe and bystanders (e.g. NFL kneelers) alike.

Yet that is exactly what has the Deep State and its media collaborators running scared. To wit, Trump’s entire modus operandi is not about governing or a serious policy agenda – and most certainly not about Making America’s Economy Great Again. (MAEGA)

By appointing a passel of Keynesian monetary central planners to the Fed and launching an orgy of fiscal recklessness via his massive defense spending and tax-cutting initiatives, the Donald has more than sealed his own doom: There will unavoidably be a massive financial and economic crisis in the years just ahead and the rulers of the Imperial City will most certainly heap the blame upon him with malice aforethought.

In the interim, however, what the Donald is actually doing is sharply polarizing the country and using the Bully Pulpit for the very opposite function assigned to it by Washington’s permanent political class. Namely, to discredit and vilify the ruling elites of government and the media and thereby undermine the docility and acquiescence of the unwashed masses upon which the Imperial City’s rule and hideous prosperity depend.

It is no wonder, then, that the inner circle of the Obama Administration plotted an “insurance policy”. They saw it coming – that is, an offensive rogue disrupter who was soft on Russia, to boot – and out of that alarm the entire hoax of RussiaGate was born.

As is now well known from the recent dump of 375 Strzok/Gates text messages, there occurred on August 15, 2016 a meeting in the office of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (who is still there) to kick off the RussiaGate campaign. As Strzok later wrote to Page, who was also at the meeting:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk……It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”

They will try to spin this money quote seven-ways to Sunday, but in the context of everything else now known there is only one possible meaning: The national security and law enforcement machinery of Imperial Washington was being activated then and there in behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Indeed, the trail of proof is quite clear. At the very time of this August meeting, the FBI was already being fed the initial elements of the Steele dossier, and the latter had nothing to do with any kind of national security investigation.

For crying out loud, it was plain old “oppo research” paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. And the only way that it bore on Russian involvement in the US election was that virtually all of the salacious material and false narratives about Trump emissaries meeting with high level Russian officials was disinformation sourced in Moscow, and was completely untrue.

As former senior FBI official, Andrew McCarthy, neatly summarized the sequence of action recently:

The Clinton campaign generated the Steele dossier through lawyers who retained Fusion GPS. Fusion, in turn, hired Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had FBI contacts from prior collaborative investigations. The dossier was steered into the FBI’s hands as it began to be compiled in the summer of 2016. A Fusion Russia expert, Nellie Ohr, worked with Steele on Fusion’s anti-Trump research. She is the wife of Bruce Ohr, then the deputy associate attorney general – the top subordinate of Sally Yates, then Obama’s deputy attorney general (later acting AG). Ohr was a direct pipeline to Yates…..

Based on the publication this week of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair, we have learned of a meeting convened in the office of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe…… right around the time the Page FISA warrant was obtained……

Bruce Ohr met personally with Steele. And after Trump was elected, according to Fusion founder Glenn Simpson, he requested and got a meeting with Simpson to, as Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee, “discuss our findings regarding Russia and the election.”

This, of course, was the precise time Democrats began peddling the public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. It is the time frame during which Ohr’s boss, Yates, was pushing an absurd Logan Act investigation of Trump transition official Michael Flynn (then slotted to become Trump’s national-security adviser) over Flynn’s meetings with the Russian ambassador.

Here’s the thing. There is almost nothing in the Steele dossiers which is true. At the same time, there is no real alternative evidence based on hard NSA intercepts that show Russian government agents were behind the only two acts – the leaks of the DNC emails and the Podesta emails – that were of even minimal import to the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign.

As to the veracity of the dossier, the raving anti-Trumper and former CIA interim chief, Michael Morrell, settled the matter. If you are paying ex-FSA agents for information on the back streets of Moscow, the more you pay, the more “information” you will get:

Then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former [Russian Federal Security Service] officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more,’ Morrell said.

Far from being “verified,” the dossier is best described as a pack of lies, gossip, innuendo and irrelevancies. Take, for example, the claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Russian Federation Council foreign affairs head Konstantin Kosachev in Prague during August 2016. That claim is verifiably false as proven by Cohen’s own passport.

Likewise, the dossier ‘s claim that Carter Page was offered a giant bribe by the head of Rosneft, the Russian state energy company, in return for lifting the sanctions is downright laughable. That’s because Carter Page never had any serious role in the Trump campaign and was one of hundreds of unpaid informal advisors who hung around the basket hoping for some role in a future Trump government.

Like the hapless George Papadopoulos, in fact, Page apparently never met Trump, had no foreign policy credentials and had been drafted onto the campaign’s so-called foreign policy advisory committee out of sheer desperation.

That is, because the mainstream GOP foreign policy establishment had so completely boycotted the Trump campaign, the latter was forced to fill its advisory committee essentially from the phone book; and that desperation move in March 2016, in turn, had been undertaken in order to damp-down the media uproar over the Donald’s assertion that he got his foreign policy advise from watching TV!

The truth of the matter is that Page was a former Merrill Lynch stockbrokers who had plied his trade in Russia several years earlier. He had gone to Moscow in July 2016 on his own dime and without any mandate from the Trump campaign; and his “meeting” with Rosneft actually consisted of drinks with an old buddy from his broker days who had become head of investor relations at Rosneft.

Nevertheless, it is pretty evident that the Steele dossier’s tale about Page’s alleged bribery scheme was the basis for the FISA warrant that resulted in wiretaps on Page and other officials in Trump Tower during September and October.

And that’s your insurance policy at work: The Deep State and its allies in the Obama administration were desperately looking for dirt with which to crucify the Donald, and thereby insure that the establishment’s anointed candidate would not fail at the polls.

So the question recurs as to why did the conspirators resort to the outlandish and even cartoonish disinformation contained in the Steele dossier?

The answer to that question cuts to the quick of the entire RussiaGate hoax. To wit, that’s all they had!

Notwithstanding the massive machinery and communications vacuum cleaners operated by the $75 billion US intelligence communities and its vaunted 17 agencies, there are no digital intercepts proving that Russian state operatives hacked the DNC and Podesta emails. Period.

Yet when it comes to anything that even remotely smacks of “meddling” in the US election campaign, that’s all she wrote.

There is nothing else of moment, and most especially not the alleged phishing expeditions directed at 20 or so state election boards. Most of these have been discredited, denied by local officials or were simply the work of everyday hackers looking for voter registration lists that could be sold.

The patently obvious point here is that in America there is no on-line network of voting machines on either an intrastate or interstate basis. And that fact renders the whole election machinery hacking meme null and void. Not even the treacherous Russians are stupid enough to waste their time trying to hack that which is unhackable.

In that vein, the Facebook ad buying scheme is even more ridiculous. In the context of an election campaign in which upwards of $7 billion of spending was reported by candidates and their committees to the FEC, and during which easily double that amount was spent by independent committees and issue campaigns, the notion that just $44,000 of Facebook ads made any difference to anything is not worthy of adult thought.

And, yes, out of the ballyhooed $100,000 of Facebook ads, the majority occurred after the election was over and none of them named candidates, anyway. The ads consisted of issue messages that reflected all points on the political spectrum from pro-choice to anti-gun control.

And even this so-called effort at “polarizing” the American electorate was “discovered” only after Facebook failed to find any “Russian-linked” ads during its first two searches. Instead, this complete drivel was detected only after the Senate’s modern day Joseph McCarthy, Sen. Mark Warner, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading legislator on Internet regulation, showed up on Mark Zuckerberg’s doorstep at Facebook headquarters.

In any event, we can be sure there are no NSA intercepts proving that the Russians hacked the Dem emails for one simple reason: They would have been leaked long ago by the vast network of Imperial City operatives plotting to bring the Donald down.

Moreover, the original architect and godfather of NSA’s vast spying apparatus, William Binney, has essentially proved that the DNC emails were leaked by an insider who downloaded them on a memory stick. By conducting his own experiments, he showed that the known download speed of one batch of DNC emails could not have occurred over the Internet from a remote location in Russia or anywhere else on the planet, and actually matched what was possible only via a local USB-connected thumb drive.

So the real meaning of the Strzok/Gates text messages is straight foreword. There was a conspiracy to prevent Trump’s election, and then after the shocking results of November 8, this campaign morphed into an intensified effort to discredit the winner.

For instance, Susan Rice got Obama to lower the classification level of the information obtained from the Trump campaign intercepts and other dirt-gathering actions by the Intelligence Community (IC) – so that it could be disseminated more readily to all Washington intelligence agencies.

In short order, of course, the IC was leaking like a sieve, thereby paving the way for the post-election hysteria and the implication that any contact with a Russian – even one living in Brooklyn – must be collusion. And that included calls to the Russian ambassador by the president-elect’s own national security advisor designate.

Should there by any surprise, therefore, that it turns out the Andrew McCabe bushwhacked General Flynn on January 24 when he called to say that FBI agents were on the way to the White House for what Flynn presumed to be more security clearance work with his incipient staff.

No at all. The FBI team was there to interrogate Flynn about the transcripts of his perfectly appropriate and legal conversations with Ambassador Kislyak about two matters of state – the UN resolution on Israel and the spiteful new sanctions on certain Russian citizens that Obama announced on December 28 in a fit of pique over the Dems election loss.

And that insidious team of FBI gotcha cops was led by none other than……Peter Strzok!

But after all the recent leaks – and these text messages are just the tip of the iceberg – the die is now cast. Either the Deep State and its minions and collaborators in the media and the Republican party, too, will soon succeed in putting Mike Pence into the Oval Office, or the Imperial City is about ready to breakout in vicious partisan warfare like never before.

Either way, economic and fiscal governance is about ready to collapse entirely, making the tax bill a kind of last hurrah before they mayhem really begins.

In that context, selling the rip may become one of the most profitable speculations ever imagined.

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Wow, seems this article started out blasting the cabal against trump, but then becomes just another part of the cabal, justifying and articulating a view of Trump that is based in the bubble of a Democrats deranged mind. Anyone that was against trump in say the summer of 2016, who then researched and viewed Trumps last 30 years of interviews, on large stages like Oprah, and others, would have come to only one conclusion, Trump is a patriot and loves his country. Trump has been the only person to expose and discuss the deep deep sickness of the American institutions… Read more »

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‘Iron’ Mike Pence Stares-Down Putin In APEC Showdown

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton were seen shaking hands and chatting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

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Via Zerohedge


Forget the All-Blacks ‘Haka’, ignore Foreman-Frasier, Drago-Balboa, and Ortiz-Liddell, the honor of the greatest (or perhaps most awkward) staredown in history now goes to US Vice President Mike Pence…

Having been blamed for everything from Trump’s election victory to USA soccer team’s loss to England last week, Russia faced accusations all weekend and was reportedly confronted by the US contingent over “meddling.”

As The Sun reports, Pence and Putin “discussed the upcoming G20 Summit and touched on the issues that will be discussed when President Trump and President Putin are both in Argentina for the summit,” according to the vice president’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah.

An NBC reporter tweeted: “New per the @VP’s Office—> The VP’s office says Vice President Pence directly addressed Russian meddling in the 2016 election in a conversation with Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Singapore.

“The conversation took place following the plenary session this afternoon at ASEAN.”

But, it was the following clash of the titans that caught most people’s attention.

As the Russian president joined the that Pence shook Putin’s ‘deadly’ hand, met his ‘steely KGB-trained’ gaze, and desperately tried not to smile or blink for 20 seconds as Putin appeared to chat amicably with the US VP…

While Putin has (if his accusers are to be believed) grappled his opponents to death with his bare hands (remember he is a sinister KGB agent and jiu-jitsu expert); we suspect the only thing VP Pence has gripped tightly in his hands is his bible.

Sadly, John Bolton then blew the tough guy act (or is he Mike Pence’s ‘good cop’) as he does his best impression of a teenage girl meeting their popstar idol for the first time…

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Orthodox Churches begin to respond forcefully to Ukrainian situation

Two jurisdictions, including one with a difficult history with Russia, move to condemn uncanonical acts in Ukraine.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Two local jurisdictions within the Eastern Orthodox Church announced their refusal to accept the legitimization of two schismatic groups in Ukraine, a move authorized by the Ecumenical Patriarch, but spurred by powers in the United States and Petro Poroshenko’s secularist-oriented Ukraine.

On October 11th, 2018, the Ecumentical Patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, authorized his legates to pronounce two schismatic Orthodox “churches” in Ukraine to be restored to canonical communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and by extension, across the entire Orthodox world.

This move was strongly condemned by the authorities of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has the only canonically accepted church presence in Ukraine, a situation that the Ecumenical Patriarch himself agreed with only a few years ago.

Russia moved to break communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, creating a split in the Orthodox Church, but a split that at first risked Russia standing alone in their statement of disapproval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s actions.

For a time the reaction of the other “local” Orthodox Churches was cautious, with the vast majority (excepting only the Greek Church in the USA) coming out in support of the canonical group in Ukraine, but without taking similar action to Moscow.

That appears to be changing.

On November 12 and 16, respectively, the Churches of Serbia and Poland issued strong statements. They both categorically refused to recognize the Ukrainian schismatic groups and they forbade their clergy to concelebrate with the “clergy” within these groups. The Serbs’ statement on this was as follows:

“The Assembly does not recognize the mentioned figures and their followers as Orthodox bishops and clergy and, consequently, does not accept liturgical and canonical communion with them and their supporters.”

The Polish Church made a similar announcement, but with even more force:

“The Holy Bishops’ Council forbids the priests of the Polish Orthodox Church from having liturgical and prayerful contact with the ‘clergy’ of the so-called Kiev Patriarchate and the so-called ‘Autocephalous Orthodox Church,’ which have committed much evil in the past,” the statement reads.

According to the Polish hierarchs, persons deprived of episcopal and clerical ordination cannot be leaders in establishing peace in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Only the observance of the dogmatic and canonical norms of the Church and the preservation of the centuries-old tradition will protect Orthodoxy from severe ecclesiastical consequences on an international scale. The Polish Orthodox Church prays fervently for the unity of the holy Orthodox Church and for peace for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the message further reads.

And while yet officially under the omophorion of Constantinople, several Greek monasteries on Mount Athos, the Orthodox monastic republic that is the spiritual center of all of Eastern Orthodoxy, inserted special petitions in their services to pray for Metropolitan Onufry and the people of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – that is, the canonical group that is a highly autonomous, or independent, Church while yet under the Moscow Patriarchate.

This is an interesting situation because in terms of ecclesial jurisdiction, Mount Athos is actually under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. However, the monasteries there often are known for taking the hardest of hardline stances when even their own Patriarchate takes actions they feel to be wrong:

Thousands of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians go on pilgrimage to Mt. Athos, which is under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, every year. However, the Russian Church, of which the Ukrainian Church is an autonomous, self-governing part, broke communion with Constantinople on October 15, which the Ukrainian Church confirmed yesterday, due to unilateral Constantinople’s interference in ecclesiastical life in Ukraine.

We know that the majority of the abbots of the Athonite monasteries do not agree with the anti-canonical decisions of the Phanar,” Met. Anthony said.

“In several monasteries—Greek ones, by the way—they have included a special petition in the Litany of Peace in the morning and evening services: ‘For His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry with his suffering flock.,’” he explained, adding, “We are very grateful to the Athonites for their brotherly love and prayers.”

This is a story that it still developing, but the recent moves by Poland and Serbia may be outlining the path that other local Orthodox Churches will take.

That move is to deny recognition to the schismatics that Patriarch Bartholomew lifted the anathemas and depositions for. If this step were to be taken by all the local Churches that have expressed support for the canonical Ukrainian Church, the result would be not much different than where the schismatics were on October 10th:

Filaret Denisenko’s group and Makary’s group would indeed have communion with Constantinople, and presumably the Greek Orthodox Church in the USA, but with no one else.

This move would be a severe repudiation of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s repeated declaration that he has the sole authority to grant autocephaly to anyone anywhere in the Orthodox world (or even to take it away), which is a canonical absurdity.

Given the substantial problems that Filaret Denisenko continues to create, such as refusing to be considered only a Metropolitan (this was the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s order), and to still consider himself a patriarch, blessing a blasphemous “icon” that is really just a monument to Ukrainian ultra-nationalism and secularism (note the neo-Nazi wolfsangel and machine guns in the upper right of this photo:

And given the ideations of Patriarch Bartholomew himself, who is also recently reported to be pushing towards creating unity with the Roman Catholic Church, while acting like a pope himself by insisting that all the local Orthodox Churches will accept his decisions, it does not look like this situation is going to go away by itself.

However, by placing the problem of the schismatics squarely in Patriarch Bartholomew’s hands (since he created the problem), the pressure created by other churches refusing to concelebrate with the Ukrainian schismatics may be enough to isolate the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself, rather than fulfilling the highly likely goal that the US, Ukraine and Patriarch Bartholomew may have had initially – to isolate Russia and create a situation where Russia is made to look like the bad guy, once again.

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Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine?

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via Strategic Culture:


Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine? Did Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (unsuccessfully) attempt to divert most of it into his own pocket?

Last month the worldwide Orthodox Christian communion was plunged into crisis by the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople to recognize as legitimate schismatic pseudo-bishops anathematized by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church. In so doing not only has Patriarch Bartholomew besmirched the global witness of Orthodoxy’s two-millennia old Apostolic faith, he has set the stage for religious strife in Ukraine and fratricidal violence – which has already begun.

Starting in July, when few were paying attention, this analyst warned about the impending dispute and how it facilitated the anti-Christian moral agenda of certain marginal “Orthodox” voices like “Orthodoxy in Dialogue,” Fordham University’s “Orthodox Christian Studies Center,” and The Wheel. These “self-professed teachers presume to challenge the moral teachings of the faith” (in the words of Fr. John Parker) and “prowl around, wolves in sheep’s clothing, forming and shaping false ideas about the reality of our life in Christ.” Unsurprisingly such groups have embraced Constantinople’s neopapal self-aggrandizement and support for the Ukrainian schismatics.

No one – and certainly not this analyst – would accuse Patriarch Bartholomew, most Ukrainian politicians, or even the Ukrainian schismatics of sympathizing with advocacy of such anti-Orthodox values. And yet these advocates know they cannot advance their goals if the conciliar and traditional structure of Orthodoxy remains intact. Thus they welcome efforts by Constantinople to centralize power while throwing the Church into discord, especially the Russian Church, which is vilified in some Western circles precisely because it is a global beacon of traditional Christian moral witness.

This aspect points to another reason for Western governments to support Ukrainian autocephaly as a spiritual offensive against Russia and Orthodoxy. The post-Maidan leadership harp on the “European choice” the people of Ukraine supposedly made in 2014, but they soft-pedal the accompanying moral baggage the West demands, symbolized by “gay” marches organized over Christian objections in Orthodox cities like AthensBelgradeBucharestKievOdessaPodgoricaSofia, and Tbilisi. Even under the Trump administration, the US is in lockstep with our European Union friends in pressuring countries liberated from communism to adopt such nihilistic “democratic, European values.”

Perhaps even more important to its initiators, the row over Ukraine aims to break what they see as the “soft power” of the Russian Federation, of which the Orthodox Church is the spiritual heart and soul. As explained by Valeria Z. Nollan, professor emerita of Russian Studies at Rhodes College:

‘The real goal of the quest for autocephaly [i.e., complete self-governing status independent of the Moscow Patriarchate] of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a de facto coup: a political coup already took place in 2014, poisoning the relations between western Ukraine and Russia, and thus another type of coup – a religious one – similarly seeks to undermine the canonical relationship between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Moscow.’

In furthering these twin objectives (morally, the degrading of Orthodox Christianity; politically, undermining the Russian state as Orthodoxy’s powerful traditional protector) it is increasingly clear that the United States government – and specifically the Department of State – has become a hands-on fomenter of conflict. After a short period of appropriately declaring that “any decision on autocephaly is an internal [Orthodox] church matter,” the Department within days reversed its position and issued a formal statement (in the name of Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, but clearly drafted by the European bureau) that skirted a direct call for autocephaly but gave the unmistakable impression of such backing. This is exactly how it was reported in the media, for example, “US backs Ukrainian Church bid for autocephaly.” Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in personally with his own endorsement as did the US Reichskommissar for UkraineKurt Volker.

The Threat…

There soon became reason to believe that the State Department’s involvement was not limited to exhortations. As reported by this analyst in October, according to an unconfirmed report originating with the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (an autonomous New York-based jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate), in July of this year State Department officials (possibly including Secretary Pompeo personally) warned the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (also based in New York but part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) that the US government was aware of the misappropriation of a large amount of money, about $10 million, from estimated $37 million raised from believers for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York. The State Department warning also reportedly noted that federal prosecutors have documentary evidence confirming the withdrawal of these funds abroad on the orders of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was suggested that Secretary Pompeo would “close his eyes” to this theft in exchange for movement by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in favor of Ukrainian autocephaly, which helped set Patriarch Bartholomew on his current course.

[Further details on the St. Nicholas scandal are available here, but in summary: Only one place of worship of any faith was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attack in New York and only one building not part of the World Trade Center complex was completely destroyed. That was St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a small urban parish church established at the end of World War I and dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who is very popular with Greeks as the patron of sailors. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, and following a lengthy legal battle with the Port Authority, which opposed rebuilding the church, in 2011 the Greek Archdiocese launched an extensive campaign to raise funds for a brilliant innovative design by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava based on traditional Byzantine forms. Wealthy donors and those of modest means alike enthusiastically contributed millions to the effort. Then – poof! In December 2017, suddenly all construction was halted for lack of funds and remains stalled to this day. Resumption would require having an estimated $2 million on hand. Despite the Archdiocese’s calling in a major accounting firm to conduct an audit, there’s been no clear answer to what happened to the money. Both the US Attorney and New York state authorities are investigating.]

This is where things get back to Ukraine. If the State Department wanted to find the right button to push to spur Patriarch Bartholomew to move on the question of autocephaly, the Greek Archdiocese in the US is it. Let’s keep in mind that in his home country, Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew has virtually no local flock – only a few hundred mostly elderly Greeks left huddled in Istanbul’s Phanar district. (Sometimes the Patriarchate is referred to simply as “the Phanar,” much as “the Vatican” is shorthand for the Roman Catholic papacy.) Whatever funds the Patriarchate derives from other sources (the Greek government, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches), the Phanar’s financial lifeline is the ethnic Greek community (including this analyst) in what is still quaintly called the “Diaspora” in places like America, Australia, and New Zealand. And of these, the biggest cash cow is the Greek-Americans.

That’s why, when Patriarch Bartholomew issued a call in 2016 for what was billed as an Orthodox “Eighth Ecumenical Council” (the first one since the year 787!), the funds largely came from America, to the tune of up to $8 million according to the same confidential source as will be noted below. Intended by some as a modernizing Orthodox “Vatican II,” the event was doomed to failure by a boycott organized by Moscow over what the latter saw as Patriarch Bartholomew’s adopting papal or even imperial prerogatives – now sadly coming to bear in Ukraine.

…and the Payoff

On top of the foregoing, it now appears that the State Department’s direct hand in this sordid business may not have consisted solely of wielding the “stick” of legal threat: there’s reason to believe there was a “carrot” too. It very recently came to the attention of this analyst, via an unsolicited, confidential source in the Greek Archdiocese in New York, that a payment of $25 million in US government money was made to Constantinople to encourage Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on Ukraine.

The source for this confidential report was unaware of earlier media reports that the same figure – $25 million – was paid by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Phanar as an incentive for Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on creating an independent Ukrainian church. Moreover, Poroshenko evidently tried to shortchange the payment:

‘Peter [Petro] Poroshenko — the president of Ukraine — was obligated to return $15 million US dollars to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which he had appropriated for himself.

‘As reported by Izvestia, this occurred after the story about Bartholomew’s bribe and a “vanishing” large sum designated for the creation of a Unified Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine surfaced in the mass media.

‘As reported, on the eve of Poroshenko’s visit in Istanbul, a few wealthy people of Ukraine “chipped in” in order to hasten the process of creating a Unified Local Orthodox Church. About $25 million was collected. They were supposed to go to the award ceremony for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the issuing of a tomos of autocephaly. [A tomos is a small book containing a formal announcement.] However, in the words of people close to the backer, during the visit on April 9, Poroshenko handed over only $10 million.

‘As a result, having learned of the deal, Bartholomew cancelled the participation of the delegation of the Phanar – the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia on July 27 in Kiev.

‘”Such a decision from Bartholomew’s side was nothing other than a strong ultimatum to Poroshenko to return the stolen money. Of course, in order to not lose his face in light of the stark revelations of the creation of the tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Peter Alexeevich [Poroshenko] had to just return those $15 million for the needs of Constantinople,” a trusted source explained to reporters.

‘For preliminary information, only after receiving the remaining sum, did Bartholomew finally give his consent to sending a delegation of the Phanar to Kiev … ‘

Now, it’s possible that the two identical figures of $25 million refer to two different pots of money (a cool $50 million!) but that seems unlikely. It’s more probable the reports refer to the same sum as viewed from the sending side (the State Department, the Greek Archdiocese) and the delivery side (Poroshenko, Constantinople).

Lending credibility to the confidential information from New York and pointing to the probability that it refers to the same payment that Poroshenko reportedly sought to raid for himself are the following observations:

  • When Poroshenko generously offered Patriarch Bartholomew $10 million, the latter was aware that the full amount was $25 million and demanded the $15 million Poroshenko had held back. How did the Patriarch know that, unless he was informed via New York of the full sum?
  • If the earlier-reported $25 million was really collected from “a few wealthy people of Ukraine” who “chipped in,” given the cutthroat nature of disputes among Ukrainian oligarchs would Poroshenko (an oligarch in his own right) have risked trying to shortchange the payment? Why has not even one such Ukrainian donor been identified?
  • Without going into all the details, the Phanar and the Greek Archdiocese have a long relationship with US administrations of both parties going back at least to the Truman administration, encompassing some decidedly unattractive episodes. In such a history, a mere bribe for a geopolitical shot against Moscow would hardly be a first instance or the worst.

As one of this analyst’s Greek-American connections puts it: “It’s easy to comprehend the Patriarchate bowing to the pressure of State Dept. blackmail… not overly savory, but understandable. However, it’s another thing altogether if Kiev truly “purchased” their autocephalous status from an all too willing Patriarchate … which would relegate the Patriarch to ‘salesman’ status and leave the faithful wondering what else might be offered to the highest bidder the next time it became convenient to hold a Patriarchal ‘fire sale’ at the Phanar?!”

To add insult to injury, you’d think Constantinople at least could pay back some of the $7-8 million wasted on the Crete 2016 debacle to restart the St. Nicholas project in New York. Evidently the Phanar has better things to spend it on, like the demonstrative environmentalism of “the Green Patriarch” and, together with Pope Francis, welcoming Muslim migrants to Europe through Greece. Of course maybe there’s no need to worry, as the Ukraine “sale” was consistent with Constantinople’s papal ambitions, an uncanonical claim to “universal” status, and misuse of incarnational language and adoption of a breathtakingly arrogant tone that would cause even the most ultramontane proponent of the Rome’s supremacy to blush.

Finally, it seems that, for the time being at least, Constantinople doesn’t intend to create an independent Ukrainian church but rather an autonomous church under its own authority. It’s unclear whether or not Poroshenko or the State Department, in such event, would believe they had gotten their money’s worth. Perhaps they would. After all, the issue here is less what is appropriate for Ukraine than what strikes at Russia and injures the worldwide Christian witness of the Orthodox Church. To that end, it doesn’t matter whether the new illegal body is Constantinopolitan or Kievan, just so long as it isn’t a “Moskal church” linked to Russia.

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