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Was Trump really this honest?

What did Trump get right and what did he get wrong?

Eric Zuesse

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After all of the trumpeting against Donald Trump by the ‘news’ media and by all Democratic politicians and many Republican politicians, about his utter untrustworthiness; and after the loads of exposés that have been published, over decades, documenting Trump’s psychopathic behaviors and business scams; what do we now have, adding to this unsavory if not criminal record by Mr. Trump, in the first criminal indictment, published on October 27th, by the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, who is tasked to nail Trump to some prison cell for crimes committed during his Presidential campaign, after Trump’s having previously racked up already such a lifetime record of alleged (and even some documented) outrages perpetrated by him?

The indictments, of Paul Manafort II and of Richard W. Gates III, make serious charges against these two men, for their allegedly laundering $75 million of income to mainly Manafort during the period from 2006 to 2015. The charges are basically tax-evasion and “a series of false and misleading statements” by them to the U.S. Department of Justice during and after the men’s subsequent work for Trump’s Presidential campaign.

This income had been derived during 2006 to 2015 from what was then the leading political Party in Ukraine, and Paragraph 10 of the Indictment states that this Party, “The Party of Regions was a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.” Is that legally relevant? Is it criminal in America for a politician in a nation that borders Russia to be “pro-Russia”? (Should it be criminal in Russia for a politician in a nation that borders America to be pro-American?)

It wasn’t criminal in that neighboring country, Ukraine, to be pro-Russian, but is it criminal in America? Did a legal basis exist, during 2005 through 2014, and up till the U.S. coup that overthrew this Partyin 2014, for the U.S. to outlaw this Ukrainian Party, retrospectively, after the U.S. Government had replaced their rule by the rule of one far-right Party, led by Yulia Tymoshenko, and two racist-fascist or ideologically nazi Parties — the Right Sector, and the former Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine — all three of which Parties rabidly hate Russians?

The Party of Regions had been elected to power in Ukraine’s final democratic election (2010) in which the residents in all parts of Ukraine were permitted to vote for or against candidates for Ukrainian national office. That’s what its having been called “The Party of Regions” meant: acceptance, as being part of Ukraine, of the residents in all regions of Ukraine, not discriminating against any, and not blocking any from being able to vote for President and for other national elective offices. What was illegal, anywhere (even in the United States), about that? If nothing, then why does Mueller even mention it, except in order to prejudice jurors?

The Indictment states that this Party “retained MANAFORT, through DMP and then DMI, to advance its interests in Ukraine, including the election of its slate of candidates. In 2010, its candidate for President, Yanukovych, was elected President of Ukraine.” Is that criminal, or is it instead merely prejudicial against the defendants (Manafort and Gates)? Is this Indictment designed to appeal to Americans’ prejudices, or to America’s laws?

Paragraph 11 states: “The European Centre for a Modem Ukraine (the Centre) was created in or about 2012 in Belgium as a mouthpiece for Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. The Centre was used by MANAFORT, GATES, and others in order to lobby and conduct a public relations campaign in the United States and Europe on behalf of the existing Ukraine regime. The Centre effectively ceased to operate upon the downfall of Yanukovych in 2014.”

The last Ukrainian election in which the people in the parts of the country where the main language that was spoken was Russian were allowed to live in peace and to vote in Ukrainian national elections, had produced, according to Mueller, what was, until the coup “the existing regime” — not “the existing Government.” Is the presumption here that the coup-government is “the Ukrainian Government,” but that the democratically elected Government which had preceded the coup-government was instead “the existing Ukraine regime”? It contradicts the history — it contradicts the solidly documented record of what had happened there.

Then follow, until Paragraph 25, specific alleged documents that will be produced at trial in order to prove the money-laundering and the lying aimed to hide it. Paragraph 25 states that, “In November 2016 and February 2017, MANAFORT, GATES, and DMI caused false and misleading letters to be submitted to the Department of Justice, which mirrored the false cover story set out above.”

Starting with Paragraph 37 are the “Statutory Allegations” and the numbered criminal “Counts.” All pertain to the alleged money-laundering and the alleged lies in order to cover it up. Then Paragraph 52 states that upon conviction, the men “shall forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, involved in such offense, and any property traceable to such property,” etc.

Among the cited U.S. criminal laws, and their punishments, which were referenced, were:

18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) (“shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both”)

31 U.S.C. § 5322(b) (“shall be fined not more than $500,000, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both”)

22 U.S.C. § 618(a)(2) (“a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both”)

So, the expectation is that, if neither Manafort nor Gates will testify that Trump colluded with Russia in order to win the U.S. Presidency, then both Manafort and Gates will face perhaps 35 years in prison, or else be pardoned by Trump — which latter pardoning might assist his becoming replaced by either a different Republican in primaries, or else by the Democratic nominee, in 2020 — if Trump’s Presidency even lasts that long.

An editorial at the Strategic Culture Foundation on November 1st was headlined “First Indictment in Russiagate: Special Counsel Not Up to the Task”, and noted that, “Surprising or not, the indictment does not mention neither Trump nor Russia! The story is about Ukraine. Paul Manafort had ties with Ukraine’s Party of Regions, which was considered as a ‘pro-Moscow’ political force. That’s the only ‘Russia connection.’ Everything related to Manafort pertains to the period before he started to work for Donald Trump. And Rick Gates has never had any relation to the incumbent president or his team.”

It goes on to note that: “Manafort’s indictment (Item 22, page 15) states very seriously that Yulia Tymoshenko had served as Ukraine’s President prior to Yanukovych! It takes a few seconds to have a look at the list of Ukraine’s presidents to find out that Yulia Timoshenko has never been the holder of the highest office.” That was actually referencing Paragraph 22 on page 16, but the point being made is accurate: The former FBI chief and now the prestigious Special Counsel chosen in order to replace Trump by Pence, is so incompetent that he permits a historical falsehood that’s documentable even merely by reference to a Wikipedia article, to appear in Mueller’s piece of propaganda for the appointment of the rabid Russia-hater and current Vice President, Mike Pence, to complete Trump’s term-of-office.

Is this the ‘Justice’ system in a democracy, or is it now just a two-bit dictatorship that’s the fading ghost of anything that the United States of America formerly was?

It’s certainly a scandal, at the very top, and, obviously, only fools would believe that a government such as this is a democracy, at all.

So: Was Trump really this honest? Was he so honest, so that the only way he can even be framed enough for him to be forced out of office, is to unleash against him an ‘expert lawyer’ such as Mueller, who obviously isn’t even a competent piranha? In the U.S., as Alan Dershowitz has said, “A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor wants them to”. But almost all Americans believe that an indictment is itself evidence of a person’s ‘guilt’. That’s the remarkable trust the people in a dictatorship have when the dictatorship is so total that the public trust even an indictment to be the result of some kind of authentic democratic process proving something, instead of the result of an extremely effective system of public mind-control, which it is.

Mueller wasn’t hired because he’s some kind of legal whiz, but because he looks and sounds like a person who isn’t a lawyer but “who plays one on TV” — he’s the caricature of the part. And, in a dictatorship, that’s the type of person who fills the bill, especially for an assignment like this one.

The minority-leader in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Charles Schumer, said when Mueller was appointed, “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” If they ‘lead’ to Trump, and to Russia, it will apparently be by way of Manafort, Gates, and the last democratically elected government that Ukraine had, which the U.S. Government overthrew by means of a bloody coup, which produced an ongoing ethnic-cleansing campaign (‘civil war’) to get rid of the voters who had enabled the ousted democratically elected President of Ukraine to have been elected.

In addition to the October 27th indictments of Manafort and Gates, there was on October 5th a signed guilty plea by an unpaid but self-inflated volunteer for the Trump campaign, who had solicited from, allegedly, the Russian Government, via a third party, “dirt” that the third party alleged to have somehow acquired against candidate Hillary Clinton, and the “Statement of the Offense” to which he signed included no “dirt” against Donald Trump, and no cooperation with the defendant on the part of Trump’s campaign, other than that the campaign, on one occasion in candidate Trump’s presence, heard this “advisor to the campaign” state in general terms what the third-party informer was seeking to deliver to the campaign.

The defendant, George Papadopoulos, confessed there to having lied to the FBI. What, if anything, the ‘Justice’ Department had agreed to (the other side of this plea-deal) in order to extract these admissions from Papadopoulos, is not known. The confession didn’t allege that the Trump campaign authorized, nor ever accepted, the alleged offer, which Papadopoulos had allegedly midwifed, but which, apparently, aborted, never delivered.

On October 30th, Vanity Fair magazine headlined “MUELLER’S RUSSIAN COLLUSION CASE COMES INTO FOCUS”, and Abigail Tracy reported and linked to the “Statement of the Offense.” Then, on November 1st, that magazine’s Gabriel Sherman bannered “‘YOU CAN’T GO ANY LOWER’: INSIDE THE WEST WING, TRUMP IS APOPLECTIC AS ALLIES FEAR IMPEACHMENT”, and reported that Sherman’s sources inside the White House were panicking (which hardly makes sense) and that “Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call.” Sherman reported that, “For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.” No explanation was provided for that allegedly “realistic outcome” to result from either the Manafort-Gates indictments or the Papadopoulos plea-deal.

Mueller has indicted his two ham-sandwiches, regarding their allegedly hiding and lying about their income from the pre-coup leading political Party in Ukraine, and has gotten an unpaid Trump-campaign volunteer to admit only to his own lying to the FBI about what he himself had done. There is still no testimony against Trump, nor against anyone in his Administration. Is Trump really so honest, that this piranha, Mueller, can’t yet bite even close to this President? Not a big bite — not any bite at all? Really? And the Trump White House now considers impeachment “a realistic outcome” — from this? Maybe some reasonable explanation exists, other than: Trump’s team want to keep their ‘lows’ as low as possible until, late in his term, the shoddiness of the campaign against him becomes undeniable, and so sets him up for a stunning re-election, as the least-disgusting of the Presidential options, from amongst which, the American electorate will be allowed to choose, in 2020.

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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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