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Donald Trump still steaming over AG Jeff Sessions’ recusal from Russiagate

The end of a politically bad week had the President lamenting the strange recusal of his own hand-picked Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Seraphim Hanisch

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President Trump had a rough week last week by any stretch of the imagination. This is not an assessment that is very “spinnable”, certainly not one that can be spun out of existence.

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Two of his campaign staff and colleagues bit the dust legally, with one “flipping” on Trump and pleading guilty to crimes that don’t even exist, but also promising to cooperate with the Mueller investigation to pursue Trump (Michael Cohen), and the other, Paul Manafort, being found guilty by a jury on eight counts of various financial impropriety and tax fraud. Vox reported the following:

It’s been a rough week for Trump: His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight federal charges on Tuesday, the same day Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, was found guilty of eight federal crimes of his own; Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), one of his first endorsers, was indicted for misusing federal campaign funds; and his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, was caught palling around with a white nationalist. Cohen implicated the president in his crimes, saying he made hush money payments in violation of campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction.

Trump in a Fox & Friends interview seemed to confess to a campaign finance violation in his attempts to deny it. In the same interview, he said “flipping” witnesses should be illegal and seemed to leave the door open to pardoning Manafort.

By the end of the day on Friday, Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker had cut immunity deals with federal prosecutors, adding their names to the list of Trump allies who no longer seem so friendly. And the president canceled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to North Korea.

These court outcomes and other events do not in any way relate to the initial purpose of the Mueller probe, that being to determine whether or not Russian agencies and Trump campaign officials, or Donald Trump himself, colluded with one another to interfere with the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

The primary purpose of this investigation came up dry so far (nearly two years old now), but something arguably peculiar has been in play about this investigation – that being that the Special Counsel has been investigating everything and not keeping its scope narrowed to “Russiagate.”

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions arguably could have stopped this from happening, but he recused himself at the beginning of the probe. The fact that he has isolated himself from this is a seriously sore spot for the president. After the events of this week, USA Today reported these tweets:

US Attorney General Sessions, for his part, did respond to this in his own statements, according to Business Insider:

“I think that’s what I had to do,” Sessions said during a meeting with the Federalist Society on Saturday.

The attorney general cited a “pretty reasonable” Department of Justice regulation that forbids DOJ officials from investigating campaigns of which they were a part.

Sessions was an early and ardent advocate for then candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 US election, championing his platform on immigration and a host of other issues. Sessions officially endorsed Trump in February 2016, becoming the first sitting US senator to throw their support behind the Manhattan mogul. He remained a campaign surrogate throughout the race and served as chairman of the campaign’s national security advisory board.

The DOJ regulation Sessions cited Saturday — 28 CFR 45.2— says “no DOJ employee may participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution, or who would be directly affected by the outcome.”

The rule goes on to define a political relationship as “a close identification with an elected official, candidate, political party or campaign organization arising from service as a principal advisor or official.” A personal relationship “means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality.”

Last March, Sessions came under scrutiny for failing to disclose meetings he had with Sergei Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the US, during the 2016 campaign. Following the revelations, Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, which is examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in his favor.

At the time, Sessions said his decision to recuse himself was “right and just.”

President Trump is understandably frustrated. This effort against him clearly does have the majority of support in the news media and despite a list of extremely substantial accomplishments made during his term thus far as President, the search-and-destroy efforts of the mainstream media press on, seeking any sort of fodder to press for impeachment should the House change hands in November, and ways to legally (or illegally, though through the legal apparatus), throw him out of office.

At the center of the effort is the attempt to separate the President from the base who elected him. While that effort seems to be meeting a brick wall (for President Trump’s main body of supporters already has little love for the media or the establishment DC government apparatchik), there did for the first time appear a sense of fatigue, as even the conservative pundits seemed to backpedal and at least tacitly acknowledge that the President has been a bad actor in the past. However, the sentiment expressed by this caller on August 24 to pundit Rush Limbaugh’s program does a good job expressing the thoughts and feelings of many who support President Trump:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Steve in Fort White, Florida. I’m glad you waited, sir. You’re next on Open Line Friday.

CALLER: Mr. Rush Limbaugh, it sure is an honor. Let me just say this. My soul belongs to Jesus. My heart belongs to my wife. My mind belongs to you.

RUSH: Well, I’m glad to be in the club!

CALLER: You know, if Trump fires somebody, no matter what who it is, it’s gonna be a firestorm. So let’s get the ball rolling. Let’s go ahead and light that fire. The American people are waiting. They’re holding back. I’ve broken two teeth just grinding jaws about what’s going on here today. He’s got to make the move. The clock of history is ticking. He’s either gotta make history or he’s gonna become history. We want him to make that move. We’ll back him at the ballot box. We’re waiting for him. We want him, we need him, he’s our country, and he’s gotta say this.

RUSH: What do you want him to do?

CALLER: I want him to start with Mueller and, one by one, fire ’em and state his case.

RUSH: You realize — and I’m not trying to throw a monkey wrench here. I don’t even want to be a downer. I just want you to know, if you fire Mueller the investigation’s not over. They just go out and find somebody to take over, and it might even prolong it and make it longer.

CALLER: Well, they can only take over if the person that he doesn’t fire puts him in that position. Get somebody in there that’s the opposite. Get somebody in there that will make the move and start working on the Democrats.

RUSH: Yeah, but Trump doesn’t get to make that appointment. Rosenstein does.

CALLER: If he fires Rosenstein, he won’t.

RUSH: Oh! Well, in that case. (laughing)

CALLER: Hello!

RUSH: Okay. So we’re gonna fire Mueller; we’re gonna fire Rosenstein.

CALLER: I’m telling you, if you’re gonna fire one, fire ’em all. We back ’em. I want him to hear us. We will back him. Just do it.

RUSH: I’m telling you, folks, the frustration, this is the one thing the media probably isn’t even factoring. They don’t think it’s real. They don’t think you’re gonna do anything. You never do. You never do, so why should they be worried about you?

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Then you have another piece of the jigsaw. Wasn’t Browder involved in most things, ‘anti-Russian’ since being thrown out for taking billions out of Russia, whilst refusing to pay his taxes? Why was he then thrown out of the US? British businessman dubbed Putin’s ‘number one enemy’ fears Novichok-style attempt on his life after accusing Russian president of using former UK spies to track him Novichok attack in Salisbury has raised fears Putin critics are being assassinated A businessman who has led criticism of the Russian regime fears he’ll be next He accuses private intelligence firms in the UK of… Read more »

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How did it all start?

Ukrainian Consultant Reveals Steele Sought Bogus Stories for Trump Dossier… https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201808281067517362-Steele-Sought-Bogus-Stories-Dossier/

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Gyre

Trump having appointed Sessions without proper vetting reminds me of McCain tapping Sarah Palin to be his running mate (who thankfully destroyed his chance to become President). Somebody’s (cough) ‘advisors’ need a good old fashioned thumping for screwing their client so badly.

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The conclusion of Russiagate, Part II – news fatigue across America

The daily barrage of Russiagate news may have been a tool to wear down the American public as the Deep State plays the long game for control.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Presently there is a media blitz on across the American news media networks. As was the case with the Russiagate investigation while it was ongoing, the conclusions have merely given rise to a rather unpleasant afterbirth in some ways as all the parties involve pivot their narratives. The conclusion of Russiagate appears to be heavily covered, yet if statistics here at The Duran are any indication, there is a good possibility that the public is absolutely fatigued over this situation.

And, perhaps, folks, that is by design.

Joseph Goebbels had many insights about the use of the media to deliver and enforce propaganda. One of his quotes runs thus:

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.

and another:

That is of course rather painful for those involved. One should not as a rule reveal one’s secrets, since one does not know if and when one may need them again. The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

If there has ever been a narrative that employed these two principles, it is Russiagate.

A staggering amount of attention has been lavished on this nothing-burger issue. Axios reports that an analytics company named Newswhip tallied an astounding 533,074 web articles published about Russia and President Trump and the Mueller investigation (a number which is being driven higher even now, moment by moment, ad nauseam). Newsbusters presently reports that the networks gave 2,284 minutes to the coverage of this issue, a number which seems completely inaccurate because it is much too low (38 hours at present), and we are waiting for a correction on this estimate.

Put it another way: Are you sick of Russiagate? That is because it has dominated the news for over 675 days of nearly wall-to-wall news cycles. The political junkies on both sides are still pretty jazzed up about this story – the Pro-Trump folks rejoicing over the presently ‘cleared’ status, while of course preparing for the upcoming Democrat / Deep State pivot, and the Dems in various levels of stress as they try to figure out exactly how to pivot in such a manner that they do not lose face – or pace – in continuing their efforts to rid their lives of the “Irritant-in-Chief” who now looks like he is in the best position of his entire presidency.

But a lot of people do not care. They are tired.

I hate to say it (and yes, I am speaking personally and directly), but this may be a dangerous fatigue. Here is why:

The barrage of propaganda on this issue was never predicated on any facts. It still isn’t. However, as we noted a few days ago, courtesy of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, at present, 53% of US registered voters believe that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

That means 53% of the voting public now believes something that is totally false.

Many of these people are probably simply exhausted from the constant coverage of this allegation as well. So when the news came out Sunday night that there was no evidence of collusion and no conclusive evidence, hence, of obstruction of justice by the Trump Administration – in other words, this whole thing was a nothing burger – will this snap those 53% back into reality?

Probably not. Many of them may well be so worn down that they no longer care. Or worse, they are so worn out that they will continue to believe the things they are told that sustain the lie, despite its being called out as such.

C.S. Lewis wrote about this peculiarity of human nature, in particular in the seventh book of his Chronicles of Narnia. After a prolonged and fierce assault on the sensibilities of the Narnians with the story that Aslan, the Christ figure of this world, was in fact an angry overlord, selling the Narnians themselves into slavery, and selling the whole country out to its enemy, with the final touch being that Aslan and the devilish deity of the enemy nation were in fact one and the same, the Narnians were unable to snap back to reality when it was shown conclusively and clearly that this was in fact not the case.

The fear that was instilled from the use of false narratives persisted and blocked the animals from reality.

Lewis summarized it this way through the thoughts of Tirian, the lead character in this tale:

Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up as a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one. He had felt quite sure that the Dwarfs would rally to his side the moment he showed them how they had been deceived. And then next night he would have led them to Stable Hill and shown Puzzle to all the creatures and everyone would have turned against the Ape and, perhaps after a scuffle with the Calormenes, the whole thing would have been over. But now, it seemed, he could count on nothing. How many other Narnians might turn the same way as the Dwarfs?

This is part of the toll this very long propaganda campaign is very likely to take on many Americans. It takes being strongly informed and educated on facts to withstand the withering force of a narrative that never goes away. Indeed, if anything, it takes even more effort now, because the temptation of the pro-Trump side will be to retreat to a set of political talking points that, interestingly enough, validate Robert Mueller’s “integrity” when only a week ago they were attacking this as a false notion.

This is very dangerous, and even though Mr. Trump and his supporters won this battle, if they do not come at this matter in a way that shows education, and not merely the restating of platitudes and talking points that “should be more comfortable, now that we’ve won!”

The cost of Russiagate may be far higher than anyone wants it to be. And yes, speaking personally, I understand the fatigue. I am tired of this issue too. But the temptation to go silent may have already taken a lot of people so far that they will not accept the reality that has just been revealed.

Politics is a very fickle subject. Truth is extremely malleable for many politicians, and that is saying it very nicely. But this issue was not just politics. It was slander with a purpose, and that purpose is unchanged now. In fact things may even be more dangerous for the President – even risking his very life – because if the powers that are working behind the people trying to get rid of President Trump come to realize that they have no political support, they will move to more extreme measures. In fact this may have already been attempted.

We at The Duran reported a few months ago on a very strange but very compelling story that suggested that there was an attempted assassination and coup that was supposed to have taken place on January 17th of this year. It did not happen, but there was a parallel story that noted that the President may have been targeted for assassination already no fewer than twelve times.  Hopefully this is just tinfoil-hat stuff. But we have seen that this effort to be rid of President Trump is fierce and it is extremely well-supported within its group. There is no reason to think that the pressure will lighten now that this battle has been lost.

The stakes are much too high, and even this long investigation may well have been part of the weaponry of the group we sometimes refer to as the “Deep State” in their effort to reacquire power, and in their effort to continue to pursue both a domestic and geopolitical agenda that has so far shown itself to be destructive to both individuals and nations all over the world.

Speculation? Yes. Needless? We hope so. This is a terrible possibility that hopefully no reasonable person wants to consider.

Honestly, folks, we do not know. But we had to put this out there for your consideration.

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Parliament Seizes Control Of Brexit From Theresa May

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Schaeuble, Greece and the lessons learned from a failed GREXIT (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 117.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine a recent interview with the Financial Times given by Wolfgang Schäuble, where the former German Finance Minister, who was charged with finding a workable and sustainable solution to the Greek debt crisis, reveals that his plan for Greece to take a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone (in order to devalue its currency and save its economy) was met with fierce resistance from Brussels hard liners, and Angela Merkel herself.

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Via FT

“Look where we’re sitting!” says Wolfgang Schäuble, gesturing at the Berlin panorama stretching out beneath us. It is his crisp retort to those who say that Europe is a failure, condemned to a slow demise by its own internal contradictions. “Walk through the Reichstag, the graffiti left by the Red Army soldiers, the images of a destroyed Berlin. Until 1990 the Berlin Wall ran just below where we are now!”

We are in Käfer, a restaurant on the rooftop of the Reichstag. The views are indeed stupendous: Berlin Cathedral and the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz loom through the mist. Both were once in communist East Berlin, cut off from where we are now by the wall. Now they’re landmarks of a single, undivided city. “Without European integration, without this incredible story, we wouldn’t have come close to this point,” he says. “That’s the crazy thing.”

As Angela Merkel’s finance minister from 2009 to 2017, Schäuble was at the heart of efforts to steer the eurozone through a period of unprecedented turbulence. But at home he is most associated with Germany’s postwar political journey, having not only negotiated the 1990 treaty unifying East and West Germany but also campaigned successfully for the capital to move from Bonn.

For a man who has done so much to put Berlin — and the Reichstag — back on the world-historical map, it is hard to imagine a more fitting lunch venue. With its open-plan kitchen and grey formica tables edged in chrome, Käfer has a cool, functional aesthetic that is typical of the city. On the wall hangs a sketch by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who famously wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric in 1995.

The restaurant has one other big advantage: it is easy to reach from Schäuble’s office. Now 76, he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, and mobility is an issue. Aides say he tends to avoid restaurants if he can, especially at lunchtime.

As we take our places, we talk about Schäuble’s old dream — that German reunification would be a harbinger of European unity, a step on the road to a United States of Europe. That seems hopelessly out of reach in these days of Brexit, the gilets jaunes in France, Lega and the Five Star Movement in Italy.

Some blame Schäuble himself for that. He was, after all, the architect of austerity, a fiscal hawk whose policy prescriptions during the euro crisis caused untold hardship for millions of ordinary people, or so his critics say. He became a hate figure, especially in Greece. Posters in Athens in 2015 depicted him with a Hitler moustache below the words: “Wanted — for mass poverty and devastation”.

Schäuble rejects the criticism that austerity caused the rise of populism. “Higher spending doesn’t lead to greater contentment,” he says. The root cause lies in mass immigration, and the insecurities it has unleashed. “What European country doesn’t have this problem?” he asks. “Even Sweden. The poster child of openness and the willingness to help.”

But what of the accusation that he didn’t care enough about the suffering of the southern Europeans? Austerity divided the EU and spawned a real animus against Schäuble. I ask him how that makes him feel now. “Well I’m sad, because I played a part in all of that,” he says, wistfully. “And I think about how we could have done it differently.”

I glance at the menu — simple German classics with a contemporary twist. I’m drawn to the starters, such as Oldenburg duck pâté and the Müritz smoked trout. But true to his somewhat abstemious reputation, Schäuble has no interest in these and zeroes in on the entrées. He chooses Käfer’s signature veal meatballs, a Berlin classic. I go for the Arctic char and pumpkin.

Schäuble switches seamlessly back to the eurozone crisis. The original mistake was in trying to create a common currency without a “common economic, employment and social policy” for all eurozone member states. The fathers of the euro had decided that if they waited for political union to happen first they’d wait forever, he says.

Yet the prospects for greater political union are now worse than they have been in years. “The construction of the EU has proven to be questionable,” he says. “We should have taken the bigger steps towards integration earlier on, and now, because we can’t convince the member states to take them, they are unachievable.”

Greece was a particularly thorny problem. It should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place, Schäuble says. But when its debt crisis first blew up, it should have taken a 10-year “timeout” from the eurozone — an idea he first floated with Giorgos Papakonstantinou, his Greek counterpart between 2009 and 2011. “I told him you need to be able to devalue your currency, you’re not competitive,” he says. The reforms required to repair the Greek economy were going to be “hard to achieve in a democracy”. “That’s why you need to leave the euro for a certain period. But everyone said there was no chance of that.”

The idea didn’t go away, though. Schäuble pushed for a temporary “Grexit” in 2015, during another round of the debt crisis. But Merkel and the other EU heads of government nixed the idea. He now reveals he thought about resigning over the issue. “On the morning the decision was made, [Merkel] said to me: ‘You’ll carry on?’ . . . But that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].”

It is an extraordinary revelation, one that highlights just how rocky his relationship with Merkel has been over the years. Schäuble has been at her side from the start, an éminence grise who has helped to resolve many of the periodic crises of her 13 years as chancellor. But it was never plain sailing.

“There were a few really bad conflicts where she knew too that we were on the edge and I would have gone,” he says. “I always had to weigh up whether to go along with things, even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do, as was the case with Greece, or whether I should go.” But his sense of duty prevailed. “We didn’t always agree — but I was always loyal.”

That might have been the case when he was a serving minister, but since becoming speaker of parliament in late 2017 he has increasingly distanced himself from Merkel. Last year, when she announced she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party that has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, Schäuble openly backed a candidate described by the Berlin press as the “anti-Merkel”. Friedrich Merz, a millionaire corporate lawyer who is the chairman of BlackRock Germany, had once led the CDU’s parliamentary group but lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002, quitting politics a few years later. He has long been seen as one of the chancellor’s fiercest conservative critics — and is a good friend of Schäuble’s.

Ultimately, in a nail-biting election last December, Merkel’s favoured candidate, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, narrowly beat Merz. The woman universally known as “AKK” is in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor when her fourth and final term ends in 2021.

I ask Schäuble if it’s true that he had once again waged a battle against Merkel and once again lost. “I never went to war against Ms Merkel,” he says. “Everybody says that if I’m for Merz then I’m against Merkel. Why is that so? That’s nonsense.”

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