Patterico's Pontifications


Anonymous Sources: Hillary, DNC Paid for Infamous Trump Dossier

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 pm


The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

If you are someone who often cautions against crediting stories that hurt Trump and are based on anonymous sources, I recommend that you ignore all qualms and triumphantly accept this story as 100% true. This time anonymous sources are credible because insert your rationale here.

Whether true or not, the story is interesting and will no doubt lead to much discussion.

UPDATE: This line is also worth discussion:

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.


[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sen. Jeff Flake Won’t Run For Re-Election

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:25 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Arizona’s Senator Jeff Flake gave a searing speech today on the Senate floor when he announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018. He went for broke and challenged President Trump and Republican party leadership as he reminded them, among other things, that no one is indispensable.

A few significant portions:

It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our – all of our – complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.

In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order – that phrase being “the new normal.” But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue – with the tone set at the top.

We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country – the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.

None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that this is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences, and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.

Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as “telling it like it is,” when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.

And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength – because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit, and weakness.

I am aware that a segment of my party believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.

If I have been critical, it not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience. The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters – the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican party – the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things. It is also clear to me for the moment we have given in or given up on those core principles in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment. To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess we have created are justified. But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.

There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal – but mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

P.S. Kelli Ward , in spite of three recent polls putting her at a 15 point lead over Flake, just might be counting her chickens before they’ve hatched.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Sen. Ted Cruz Endorses Roy Moore For Alabama’s Vacant Senate Seat

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:56 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, Senate candidate Roy Moore told TIME that magazine that it was a violation of the law for NFL players to kneel during the playing of the national anthem:

In an interview with TIME magazine, the Alabama Republican argued that NFL players and others who have protested police violence are violating a section of the U.S. code which outlines how people should conduct themselves when the anthem is played. …

“It’s against the law, you know that?” he said. “It was a [sic] act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law.” …

“I back the President in upholding respect for the patriotism for our country, on two grounds,” he said. “One, it’s respect for the law. If we don’t respect the law, what kind of country are we going to have? Two, it’s respect for those who have fallen and given the ultimate sacrifice. I’m surprised that no one brought this up.”

He added that it’s a matter of the “the rule of law.”

“If they didn’t have it in there, it would just be tradition. But this is law,” he said. “If we disobey this, what else are we going to disobey?[“]

At the link Eugene Volokh examines the federal statute, and lays out why “none of this would apply to people refusing to stand for the national anthem at an NFL stadium”.

Moore, as a reminder, has made some controversial remarks such as suggesting that 9/11 could have been a result of Americans turning their backs on God, Putin might be right about gay marriage, Obama isn’t a natural-born citizen, and Muslims should not serve in Congress while the U.S. is at war with Al Quaeda, etc.

Today, Sen Ted Cruz announced he was endorsing Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate:

This December, the People of Alabama have a clear choice.

They can choose a liberal Democrat, who will stand with Chuck Schumer to raise taxes, weaken our military, open our border, and undermine our constitutional rights. Or, they can choose to elect Judge Roy Moore, a conservative who will proudly defend Alabama values.

I strongly urge the voters to elect Judge Roy Moore. Judge Moore has a lifelong passion for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and he has the courage of his convictions.

In the Senate, we need reinforcements; we desperately need strong conservatives who will stand up to the Washington status quo.
Please join me in supporting Judge Moore on December 12.

For Liberty,
Ted Cruz

The timing of Cruz’s endorsement is just a bit interesting, to say the least. You might even find it coincidental:

The news comes just weeks after Moore’s chief booster — Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon — vowed to recruit primary opponents to run against Republican incumbents in next year’s election, save for Cruz.

Cruz, who with Bannon shares close ties to mega-donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer, declined to endorse a Republican in the primary. He joins conservative Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., in backing Moore now.

Moore’s opponent in the special election is Democrat Doug Jones, who reportedly checks off any list of litmus test issues for progressives.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


HMMM: The Curious Reason Trump Did Not Sanction This Company Run By Iran’s Revolutionary Guard

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 am

President Trump has a new policy towards Iran. As Susan Wright recently explained, Trump has said (among other things) that “he would be instructing the Treasury Department to sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] over its support of terrorism in the Middle East.” Trump called this a “long overdue step” — and it was.

There is, however, one company that is clearly tied to the IRGC that is curiously not getting sanctioned: Azarpassillo. You’ll never guess what distinguishes this company from the rest. Yup, sure enough, Azarpassillo has done business with the Trump Organization:

After Trump’s speech, the Treasury named Shahid Alamolhoda Industries, Rastafann Ertebat Engineering Company, and Fanamoj as, essentially, tools of the Revolutionary Guard. Strikingly, the Treasury did not name Azarpassillo, an Iranian firm with a leadership made up of lifelong Revolutionary Guard officers. Azarpassillo’s leaders have been named by U.S. officials as likely money launderers for the Revolutionary Guard and, through their international construction operations, the company is ideally suited to provide W.M.D. components.

Azarpassillo has another interesting connection; one of its apparent partners in money laundering, the Mammadov family of Azerbaijan, was also, until quite recently, in business with the Trump Organization. In fact, for the entire Presidential campaign, the Trump Organization knew that it was actively involved with a company that was likely laundering money for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. This is not a wild conspiracy theory; it is an acknowledged fact, confirmed by Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, and not disputed by the White House or any of the people involved. Ivanka Trump directly oversaw the relationship with the Mammadov family, led by Ziya Mammadov, a man whom American diplomats have called “notoriously corrupt even for Azerbaijan.”

Davidson first revealed the Trump Organization’s dealings with Azarpassillo in March, although I just learned about it yesterday. With a #FAKENEWSMEDIA that is notoriously hostile to Trump, it is curious how little play the story has received. Some Democrat senators have shown interest and asked questions, but the arrangement has certainly not been the subject of unrelenting consecutive days of television coverage.

Davidson’s pieces do not accuse Trump of a secretive support for the IRGC. Davidson says: “There is no reason to think that anyone in the Trump Organization was intentionally seeking to help the Iranians.” He notes that Trump’s top lawyer is an Orthodox Jew, who supports Israel and abhors Iran. But, Davidson explains, the Trump Organization has been licensing Trump’s name around the world to “people and businesses who were unable—or unwilling—to work with the vast majority of international companies which demand comprehensive due diligence.” The results are unsurprising:

A remarkable number of Trump’s business partners met one or more of the warning signs of troubling business practices: they had been investigated or convicted of fraud or other economic crimes; they were government officials in a position to abuse their power for financial gain; or they were secretive entities, hidden behind shell companies.

It’s not that Trump is trying to help the IRGC. It’s that the Trump Organization has been willfully blind to the shady doings of many of its business partners. As Davidson noted in his March piece, this may have violated the law, as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act “made it a crime for an American company to unknowingly benefit from a partner’s corruption if it could have discovered illicit activity but avoided doing so.”

If Trump were to include Azarpassillo on the list of sanctioned companies, it would be an open admission by the administration that the Trump Organization has done business with a company connected to the Revolutionary Guard and money laundering. And Trump’s motto is: no matter how obviously true something is, you don’t admit it if it hurts Donald Trump. Apparently, even if it is in the nation’s security interest.

I’m frankly at a loss as to how Trump supporters will defend this. The salient facts are beyond dispute. Azarpassillo is run by IRGC officers. The Mammadovs’ connection to the Revolutionary Guard has been publicly known for several years. The Trump Organization’s lawyer “learned of the Mammadov family’s likely relationship to Azarpassillo in the summer of 2015.”

By leaving Azarpassillo off the list of sanctioned companies, Trump is putting his personal interests ahead of the interests of the country. Similarly, those who defend him on this are sacrificing the interests of the United States in favor of their narrow partisan interest in defending Donald Trump, come hell or high water.

UPDATE: Commenters point out that I should have been more careful to note in the post that, according to Davidson, the Trump Organization did business, not directly with a company run by the IRGC, but with a corrupt money-laundering partner of a company run by the IRGC. I don’t think this renders Trump’s decision not to sanction Azarpassillo any less suspect. The mileage of Trump partisans may vary and probably does.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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