President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Christopher Wray to take over James Comey’s job as Director of the FBI in a Tweet on June 7, the day before Comey’s much anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the Tweet, Trump called Wray a ‘man of impeccable credentials,’ which, undoubtedly, he is. He is also a man with a maze of conflicts of interests. It appears that someone has tried to scrub some of those conflicts from the official web site of the Justice Department. For example, try this Justice Department press release link, which now turns up a dead page. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/pr/2004/02/2004_3631_FORMER_ENRON_CHIEF_E.htm Fortunately for our readers, Google has cached the press release which is dated February 19, 2004. The opening sentence includes all three names making headlines today – Comey, Wray and Robert Mueller, the newly appointed Special Counsel who will investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and the firing by President Trump of James Comey as FBI Director. At the time of this press release, the three men were attached at the hip as part of George W. Bush’s Corporate Fraud Taskforce. All three men are quoted in this press release, as follows: ‘This indictment marks an important milestone in the life of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force,’ said Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who heads the Task Force. ‘The indictment alleges that Jeffrey Skilling and other Enron executives concocted a massive, complex scheme to give shareholders and the investing public the false appearance of financial strength and security at a time when Enron was, in fact, failing. Our investigators were able to cut through the maze of paperwork and financial trickery to get to the bottom of the scheme and charge Skilling, once the top executive at Enron, with fraud and other crimes that contributed to Enron’s collapse.’
Last week, Fox News dropped a bombshell report officially confirming, via anonymous FBI sources, what many had suspected for quite some time, that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the WikiLeaks source for leaks which proved that the DNC was intentionally undermining the campaign of Bernie Sanders. In addition to exposing the corruption of the DNC, the leaks cost Debbie Wasserman Shcultz her job as Chairwoman. Of course, if it’s true that WikiLeaks’ emails came from a DNC insider it would end the “Russian hacking” narrative that has been perpetuated by Democrats and the mainstream media for the past several months. Moreover, it would corroborate the one confirmation that Julian Assange has offered regarding his source, namely that it was “not a state actor.” Meanwhile, the plot thickened a little more over the weekend when Kim Dotcom confirmed via Twitter that he was working with Seth Rich to get leaked emails to WikiLeaks. I knew Seth Rich. I know he was the @Wikileaks source. I was involved. — Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) May 20, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 22, 2017.
Amid the chaos of James Comey’s firing, new questions about the timeline of his fateful investigation Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared on This Week Sunday, and said some head-scratching things. Clapper back in March told Meet the Press that when he issued a January 6th multiagency intelligence community assessment about Russian interference in the election, the report didn’t include evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, essentially saying he hadn’t been aware of any such evidence up through January 20th, his last day in office. On Sunday, he said that didn’t necessarily mean there was no such evidence, because sometimes he left it up to agency chiefs like former FBI Director James Comey to inform him about certain things. “I left it to the judgment [of] Director Comey,” Clapper said, “to decide whether, when and what to tell me about counterintelligence investigations.” Clapper said something similar when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Monday. In prepared remarks, he essentially said that there was nothing odd about his not being informed about the existence of an FBI counterintelligence investigation involving Donald Trump’s campaign.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 21, 2017.
#WikiLeaks informer Seth Rich murdered in US but MSM was so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice. pic.twitter.com/0XVezTyfHM — Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) May 19, 2017
Earlier this week, Fox News dropped a bombshell report officially confirming, via anonymous FBI sources, what many had suspected for quite some time, that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the WikiLeaks source for leaks which proved that the DNC was intentially undermining the campaign of Bernie Sanders. In addition to exposing the utter corruption of the DNC, the leaks cost Debbie Wasserman Shcultz her job as Chairwoman. At the time, we mockingly wondered why the mainstream media seemingly overlooked a huge new development in a highly suspicious unsolved murder case. Finally, we find it ‘shocking’ that while the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, etc are all too eager to regurgitate each others anonymously sourced stories that are critical of Trump, not a single one of them had a single reference of this Fox News bombshell on their website at the time this article was published. Turns out we weren’t alone, as the Russian Embassy in the U. K. just sent out the following tweet: “#WikiLeaks informer Seth Rich murdered in US but MSM was so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 19, 2017.
Goldman, which has been pushing for higher oil prices with seemingly daily bullish research reports for the past month, and which underwrote the last Saudi Arabian bond issue and is expected to also manage the Aramco IPO (explaining the bank’s conflict of interest), released a note commeting on the latest development in the oil market, which sent the price of crude higher by 3% after Saudi and Russia oil minister agreed to extend the OPEC production cuts by another 9 months through the end of Q1 2018. Specifically, Goldman writes that “today’s announcement will likely further extend the oil price rebound started last week on decent stock draws and low positioning, although the rally so far today has remained modest compared to the move that occurred last year when the OPEC cuts were first announced.” Even so, Goldman’s oil analyst Damien Courvalin had some caveats. Specifically, he said that for the strategy to work, however, two things have to take place: compliance needs to remain high and long-term oil prices need to remain low to prevent shale producers from ramping up investment significantly more. In fact, an extension of the cuts should go hand in hand with guidance of future production increases by low cost producers, in our view, with an already notable emphasis by Saudi and others that oil prices will likely remain in a $45-55/bbl long-term range, in line with our forecasts. This leaves us reiterating our 3Q17 $57/bbl Brent price forecast and, with an increasingly likely extension of the cuts, raises our confidence that the oil market will shift into backwardation in 3Q17. His full note below: Saudi and Russia commit to a 9-month extension of oil production cuts Saudi Arabia and Russia announced today, May 15, that they had reached an agreement to extend their oil output cuts for another nine months, through Mar-18. This announcement comes ahead of the scheduled May 25 meeting of OPEC members. Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak further pledged in a joint statement “to do whatever it takes” to reduce global inventories to their five-year average. In our view, this commitment to a longer than expected cut by the two largest participants of the output deal significantly increases the likelihood that all participants will agree to such an extension, with the longer duration likely helping to achieve high compliance through 2017.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 15, 2017.
Republican Senator John McCain is rather perturbed that president Donald Trump fired FBI director, James Comey. His disappointment, though, is hard to understand considering the turn on Comey by the government as of late. Republicans, by and large, had a lot of great things to say about James Comey when he chose to look into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal during the presidential election last year. Oddly, the political right also seemed to really love WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange for releasing the ‘Podesta emails’ which showed corruption withing the DNC and Hillary’s campaign team, themselves. So why the dramatic turn? After yesterday’s announcement that Comey had been fired by Trump at the suggestion of Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, McCain said he is ‘disappointed’ with President Trump’s decision. ‘While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office,’ McCain said in a statement. McCain argued that such a move reinforces his calls for a special congressional panel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump said he fired Comey over the handling of Hillary’s email scandal. But there is probably a whole lot more to it than that. Because WikiLeaks has confirmed that Russia was not the source of the leaked Podesta emails, the source of the Russian hacking, it appears that this is all likely intertwined. But finding the glue to stick this all together has proven difficult.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn likely broke the law by failing to disclose foreign income he earned from Russia and Turkey, the heads of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday. As The Washington Post reports, committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said they believe Flynn neither received permission nor fully disclosed income he earned for a speaking engagement in Russia and lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey when he applied to reinstate his security clearance, after viewing two classified memos and Flynn’s disclosure form in a private briefing Tuesday morning.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 25, 2017.
One of the reasons that Syria is ‘on hold’ is that the Russians are now leveraging the President with the connections formed in his campaign prior to the election. Paul Manafort, onetime manager of President Trump’s campaign apparently has received payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. An article covering it entitled Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout by Jack Gillum, Chad Day, and Jeff Horwitz was released on Thursday by the Associated Press. The bad news is that the ledger is substantiated by records booked by Manafort’s consulting firm in the U. S., already under a corruption investigation by the FBI with even more overlap. Apparently, the FBI and Congress are investigating Manafort’s activities with Russia and possible ties to Vladimir Putin regarding the President’s campaign. These activities which could have included payoffs allegedly occurred in 2016. But a distinct pattern is observable here. Tillerson is still ‘on the attack,’ today demanding that Russia oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad…and the President in the meantime has announced we wouldn’t be sending troops into Syria. Perhaps he is hesitant, as (if they have such evidence) Russia would certainly not shirk from releasing information that could be damaging to the President. At this stage, the threat of such a release appears to be keeping things in check: we haven’t launched another Tomahawk strike yet.
This post was published at shtfplan on April 14th, 2017.
Submitted by James Durso ‘The lion is back in his den!’ Hosni Mubarak, former President of Egypt, walked free last week after six years in detention on charges of murder and corruption. What does the U. S. have to show for it? Nothing. In January 2011, Egyptian activists planned protests against corruption, lack of economic growth, and the heavy-handed police tactics of the recent years. The protests were scheduled for 25 January in Cairo and across Egypt. A broad swath of Egyptian activist groups participated, including the Islamists. The protests quickly escalated and became increasingly violent to the extent that the police were replaced by the military. At the end of two weeks, Mubarak had dissolved his government, appointed an interim leader, and announced he would not seek re-election in the September 2011 elections. In early February 2011, on the same day that Vice President, and former intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak would resign as President, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suspended the constitution and dissolved both houses of Parliament for six months until elections could be held. In May 2011, Mubarak was charged with the murder of protesters and ordered to stand trial. The elections of June 2012 handed power to the only organized opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood and its leader, Mohammed Morsi, who promptly tried to install an Islamist constitution and grant himself broader power than had Mubarak. The secular opposition was upset that the Islamist opposition they helped usher into power would be so… Islamist. More violent protests ensued. The whole sorry mess came to an end in July 2013, when the military seized power and Morsi’s hand-picked minister of defense, General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, became Egypt’s leader and was elected President in May 2014 with a Chicago-like 93 percent of the vote.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 4, 2017.
The gap between the happy-story fantasies of easy fixes to institutionalized corruption and systemic stagnation and the fraying-rope reality is widening, straining the bonds holding the whole contraption together to the breaking point. Am I the only one sensing an increase in systemic vulnerability? I’m not talking about TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) so much as a sense of things fraying beneath the surface of normalcy. I for one have never seen the outpouring of negative emotional energy from partisan political disagreements. It has become more a matter of quasi-religious faith than a matter of fact as to whether the Russians “hacked” the U. S. election and the Democratic National Committee. The “facts” are highly dependent on one’s faith in this quasi-religious conflict; if you’re anti-Trump, the now-discredited report by a private firm reporting to the FBI (red flag #1–doesn’t the FBI have its own digital forensics assets? Why hire a flaky contractor to do this critically important national security work?) is the gospel truth. if you’re in the other camp, Julian Assange’s declaration that the DNC material was offered to him by an insider is the obvious gospel truth.
One day after snap protests against corruption and Russia PM Medvedev broke out across numerous Russian cities, leading to the detention of hundreds of protesters as well as opposition leader Aleksey Navalny, the Russian opposition activist was found guilty of staging an unsanctioned rally, and will be fined 20,000 rubles (US$350) for his role in organizing what the authorities said was an illegal protest in Moscow on Sunday. The Russian protests, estimated to be the biggest since a wave of anti-Kremlin demonstrations in 2011/2012, come a year before a presidential election that Vladimir Putin is expected to contest, running for what would be a fourth term.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 27, 2017.
In a day of anti-corruption protests across Russia, thousands of people crowded into Moscow’s Pushkin Square on Sunday for an unsanctioned protest against the Russian government, part of a wave of demonstrations taking place throughout the country. For the Moscow demonstration, around 8,000 people took to the streets according to police. As the rally continued, police used loudspeakers to call on the protesters to disperse. A number of people were detained for disorderly conduct, among whom was the prominent leader of the anti-Putin opposition. Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is leading the opposition to President Vladimir Putin, was arrested while walking from a nearby subway station to the demonstration, according to Associated Press journalists at the scene.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 26, 2017.
In the latest attempt to stir the pot over allegations that Trump and members of his closest circle had ties to Russia, on Wednesday, the AP unearthed a 2005 memo from former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort – who was let go by the Trump campaign in the summer to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who became Russia’s richest man under Putin and whose key asset is a 48% stake in Russian aluminum giant Rusal, according to which Manafort would boost Putin’s agenda and reportedly undermine anti-Russian opposition across Europe, the U. S. and former Soviet republics. “We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote, adding it “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.” As a reminder, Manafort worked as Trump’s unpaid campaign chairman last year from March until August. Trump asked Manafort to resign after AP revealed that Manafort had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation until 2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling pro-Russian political party.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 22, 2017.
It’s no secret that there is a concerted effort underway to do everything possible to remove President Donald Trump from office. From Russian ties to business conflicts of interests, both Democrats and Republicans are actively working to find chinks in the President’s armor. But for those with hope of change in their hearts, Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein says there is a possibility that Trump will eventually remove himself from office by filing his own resignation. Speaking to a crowd during a town hall-style Questions and Answers session, Feinstein was asked how Congress is going to deal with Trump’s alleged illegal activities: Journalist: We don’t know what’s happening but we know that he is breaking laws every day, he’s making money at Mar-a-lago, he’s getting copyrights in China, he has obvious dealings with Russia, the Dakota pipeline… there’s some many things that he’s doing that are unconstitutional… how are we going to get him out? Feinstein: We have a lot of people looking at this… Technical people… I think he’s going to get himself out… I think sending sons to another country to make a financial deal for his company and then have that covered with government expenses… I think those government expenses should not be allowed.. we are working on a bill that will deal with conflict of interest… it’s difficult…
This post was published at shtfplan on March 18th, 2017.
The character of events from week to week, and as discussed by both Batchelor and Cohen, is manifestly worsening. While the proxy wars are stabilizing to some little extent, we see the political wars in governments as fall out of the New Cold War in a constant state of escalation. Cohen notes a New York Times piece by Charles Blow that coined a name for what is happening as an ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the author considered this a positive thing for the country – where all the interest groups are being forced by the hate and fear campaign to align with the anti-Russian narrative whether it serves their interests or not. This past week Batchelor brings up the news about the Estonian Ambassador, Eerik Marmei and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin who spoke to a Senate subcommittee about Russia disrupting elections in Europe, and the danger of cyber warfare by Russia. Also mentioned were the Trump charges that Obama had his Trump Tower ‘bugged’. Cohen then launched into what the consequences of this new ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the professor describes how the pressure to conform has influenced all the politicos (Flynn debacle) and the masters of industry in the United States, who want to have business dealings with Russia, into remaining cautiously silent. These and other efforts are being used to isolate Trump and neuter or redirect any chance of dtente or even honest discussion of serious geopolitical events. It is working too – with Republicans also becoming divided. Some Republicans are looking at Vice President Pence for the president’s position. Cohen also discusses the role of ‘expert consultants on Russia’ in the media and their efforts to vilify Putin and the Kremlin. All interviews using these people are factually untrue. The most egregious of these, for example, maintained that Putin was ‘deliriously happy that Washington was in complete chaos over Russian policies’. Batchelor exclaims that this is ‘complete rubbish’. It was also Batchelor’s opinion that it was serious that Trump did not mention Russia in his address to Congress. What this indicates is that dtente is getting much less likely. Cohen also mentions the resurrection of McCarthyism with a Committee of Un-American Activity being formed and concludes that disorder is the contrived tenure of modern Western diplomacy. In my opinion Trump has to decide whether folding to the will of his opposition will stop this campaign to remove him or will it show weakness that will lead to escalation. His reticence to talk about Russia may be testing the waters, or be showing weakness. Senator Graham, who talked with the president, seems to think the latter and the US will ‘push back’ against Russia. I think Trump is folding too. The push back will see more support for NATO and perhaps more military help for Ukraine. Cohen discusses the quasi NATO presence now in Ukraine, and he also brings up a potential increase in US troop presence in Syria. He discusses the dangers of a combined military presence of US and Russian assets in Syria. Cohen then discusses the simple solution to ease the danger, and it really is simple. Disengagement. But Putin needs Washington (Trump) to cooperate. But Cohen now considers this as unlikely as he thinks Trump is folding to his opposition in Washington. In Ukraine the political and economic situation is worse and where President Poroshenko is having no control over the ukronazis – who are now embargoing coal imports from the Donbass. This hurts Kiev, but also illuminates the reality of a failing central government. A personal question: Will NATO continue to base troops there? It would mean contending with or working with nazis in a failed state environment? But would most of the West hear about it? That’s where we are, living behind a virtual information wall that George Orwell would immediately recognize. From my point of view the Military Industrial Complex has shown no sense of danger in supporting a ‘confrontation for profit’ policy against Russia, and now the people of the West are effectively ‘walled off’ from learning about critical realities by a systemic corruption of the MSM. Washington is creating its own “Iron Curtain”. Not even discussions at the highest levels of Washington are tolerated unless they support the narrative. One wonders how long this can go on with the Military Industries dependent on tax dollars, and the financial sector and other interests looting the economy and destroying that same tax base. This becomes another reason to impose that ‘Era of Suspicion’ on the whole country; if one cannot advise or discuss an argument against war dangers (or government policies) without censure, then war becomes more inevitable in spite of the fundamentals that work against it. One could say, ‘unleash the dogs of war’ but first hugely increase the fiscal deficit.
New revelations from Wikileaks’ ‘Vault 7′ leak shed a disturbing light on the safeguarding of privacy. Something already known and largely suspected has now become documented by Wikileaks. It seems evident that the CIA is now a state within a state, an entity out of control that has even arrived at the point of creating its own hacking network in order to avoid the scrutiny of the NSA and other agencies. Reading the revelations contained in the documents released by WikiLeaks and adding them to those already presented in recent years by Snowden, it now seems evident that the technological aspect regarding espionage is a specialty in which the CIA, as far as we know, excels. Hardware and software vendors that are complicit – most of which are American, British or Israeli – give the CIA the opportunity to achieve informational full-spectrum dominance, relegating privacy to extinction. Such a convergence of power, money and technology entails major conflicts of interest, as can be seen in the case of Amazon AWS (Amazon’s Cloud Service), cloud provider for the CIA, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, is also the owner of The Washington Post. It is a clear overlap of private interests that conflicts with the theoretical need to declare uncomfortable truths without the need to consider orders numbering in the millions of dollars from clients like the CIA. While it is just one example, there are thousands more out there. The perverse interplay between media, spy agencies and politicians has compromised the very meaning of the much vaunted democracy of the land of the Stars and Stripes. The constant scandals that are beamed onto our screens now serve the sole purpose of advancing the deep interest of the Washington establishment. In geopolitical terms, it is now more than obvious that the deep state has committed all available means toward sabotaging any dialogue and dtente between the United States and Russia. In terms of news, the Wikileaks revelations shed light on the methods used by US intelligence agencies like the CIA to place blame on the Kremlin, or networks associated with it, for the hacking that occurred during the American elections.
Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, has confirmed that it hired the consultancy of Tony Podesta, the elder brother of John Podesta who chaired Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, for lobbying its interests in the United States and proactively seeking the removal of various Obama-era sanctions, the press service of the Russian institution told TASS on Thursday. “The New York office of Sberbank CIB indeed hired Podesta Group. Engagement of external consultants is part of standard business practices for us,” Sberbank said. Previously, The Daily Caller reported that Tony Podesta was proactively lobbying for cancellation of a range of anti-Russian sanctions against the banking sector. In particular, he represented interests of Sberbank and was paid $170,000 for his efforts over a six-month period last year to seek to end one of the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against that country. Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, is listed as a key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms. His firm received more than $24 million in fees in 2016, much of it coming from foreign governments, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Former President Barack Obama imposed the Russian sanctions following the break out in violence in east Ukraine in 2014.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 9, 2017.
While much of the media attention remains glued to Russia for various reasons, a more notable development took place in neighboring Ukraine overnight, where on Friday Ukrainian state agencies tried to arrest the head of the tax and customs service Roman Nasirov, i.e., the equivalent to the head of the IRS, over the embezzlement of around $75 million. However, their efforts were hindered when the man, Roman Nasirov, was allegedly struck by a heart attack during the detention attempt and was shown stretchered into an ambulance and taken to Kiev’s Feofania hospital late on Thursday. Anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky said investigators believe 38-year-old Nasirov helped exiled lawmaker Oleksandr Onishchenko deprive the state of 2 billion hryvnias ($75 million) in tax revenue linked to a gas deal, Reuters reports. The crackdown was seen as a landmark case following patchy anti-graft efforts from the Western-backed authorities.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 3, 2017.
Reminder to media: this is 2nd time Flynn's shenanigans have compromised the credibility of @VP. Won't be a 3rd.— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) February 13, 2017
Is it sweet revenge, or just desserts? Gen. Michael Flynn resigned suddenly from Trump’s cabinet after it came to light that the National Security Advisor had not told the Vice President or President about his conversations with Russia regarding sanctions. A scandal has since unfolded, and will continue in the media; Gen. Flynn has fallen on his sword. Via the Guardian: General Michael Flynn has resigned as Donald Trump’s national security adviser after weeks of speculation over his links to Russia turned into days of reporting on the contents of his calls with the Russian ambassador and a day of intense pressure over whether the president could continue to back his pick. But is there more to the inner-workings and behind stage schemes that led to his demise? The reaction from one of Hillary Clinton’s closest advisors, and a retweet from the would-be queen herself, suggests that there may have been some Machiavellian intrigue at work.
This post was published at shtfplan on February 14th, 2017.