Reuters: The Moscow lawyer who met with Don Jr. to discuss "adoptions" represented Russian spy agency for years https://t.co/V9E2Pfqk7q
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) July 21, 2017
Breaking: Russian court records reveal Russian lawyer who met w/Donald Trump Jr represented Russian military unit tied to security service
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) July 21, 2017
But according to Russian-born ace reporter Julia Ioffe, from inside the Kremlin kleptocracy, it’s not that simple:
The Russian lawyer Trump Jr met with once worked with the FSB. But what does that mean? I explain: https://t.co/KbhTG8QBXw
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) July 21, 2017
… [T]he actual story says something very different about Veselnitskaya and the work she did for the FSB from 2005 to 2013. “The documents show that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, successfully represented the FSB’s interests in a legal wrangle over ownership of an upscale property in northwest Moscow between 2005 and 2013,” it says. The work, according to the story, concerned a real-estate dispute in which Veselnitskaya helped the FSB wrest ownership of a valuable building from a private company by alleging that the original sale was based on fraudulent documents.
This is a classic technique used in Russia to raid businesses and extort property owners, and it is a tactic at which both Veselnitskaya and the FSB excel. Veselnitskaya is currently going after IKEA in Russia, on behalf of a private client, using the same legal tactic—the land it sits on is extremely valuable—and the FSB has built an empire in the same way, making minigarchs out of rank-and-file FSB officers whose salaries don’t square with the posh lifestyles they lead.
Under Putin’s leadership, first as FSB head in the 1990s, and then as president of Russia, the FSB has become not just a seat of political and geopolitical power, but also a powerful economic empire. With the specter of state violence and the courts at their backs, officers of the FSB, as well as other security services agencies, have expropriated thousands of small and medium businesses, seized land, run protection rackets, embezzled state funds, and employed every trick under the sun to enrich themselves…
In other words, the Reuters story is not about espionage but about corruption. It fills in a portrait of Veselnitskaya as well as her connections to the organs of the Russian state, and the methods by which she operated. But it is yet another example of how American readers, frenzied by the drip-drip of Trump-Russia revelations, can take a bit of information, tear it out of its context, strip it of its real meaning, and run with it toward all kinds of political conclusions about the administration’s dealings with Russia. There is plenty of damning information out there, but this particular story isn’t damning quite in the way some people want it to be.
And yet it’s understandable that Donald Trump would be enchanted by the idea recreating such a kleptocracy here in America… and how the leaders of the GOP would be only too glad to assist him.
Major Major Major Major
So she’s a mover and a shaker-down-er in the ongoing slapfight between oligarchs that is the Russian economy, but this particular connection doesn’t indicate spy stuff.
I need to read all of Ioffe’s article, but I disagree (for now) with this:
It’s about both.
I haven’t seen anyone argue that her involvement DOES involve spy stuff.
She’s involved in Russian organized crime money laundering in the Prevezon case. But in Russia the activities of those oligarchs invariably involve the State or at least, the consent of the State. It’s not like she’s segregated off in some little private corruption enterprise.
That excerpt from Ioffe’s piece is how I’ve always thought things likely happened, although we still have lots to learn as more information comes to light. This tweet is a good summary for me:
On the contrary: the Russian espionage system has used precisely these financial techniques to groom, manipulate, entrap and extort Trump and his minions. And they have developed thes techniques over centuries, since the time of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, the illegitimate daughter of Peter the Great who seized the throne in a coup. (Nicely dramatized in the film Elizaveta II, which can be streamed from Amazon and elsewhere).
Adam L Silverman
This is why the military in Egypt and the Quds Force in Iran have so much power. They have amassed huge portfolios of properties and investments in each country.
mai naem mobile
Am I the only one who is reaching a point where I just cannot handle anymore Dolt 45 Scandal stories. Yet I know that I cannot lose interest because that’s what they want you to do they are throwing out so many scandals that they seem to be actually trying to tire you.
What was that I heard about DOJ wanting to make it easier to seize property and assets?
That may have been where it started, but that’s far from all that’s there. The Russian oligarchs used the state intelligence services to interfere in the US election and get their buddy in the US oligarchy elected president.
Major Major Major Major
@encephalopath: I also haven’t seen this, but then again I try to avoid the stupid parts of the media.
Just the sort of power that calls to Shitgibbon. There’s a book about how Trump used his gambling establishments as his personal piggie banks — then he moved on.
How much damage can he do before he is leaves?
He looks so unhealthy — his diet is fit for a pig and he doesn’t exercise. He should be seeing a physical therapist or physical trainer. My bet is that he isn’t going to last much longer — stroke or heart attack. Then the remaining vipers will be fighting for the spoils.
@mai naem mobile:
You are not at all alone.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
So the FSB is a for profit state intelligence agency selling espionage to the rich, how very Ryandian of them. No wonder the Conservatives see nothing wrong.
Iowa Old Lady
@mai naem mobile: I’m not tired of them because they’re like horror story entertaining. But I am losing track of them because there are so many.
Like many people, I seem to be hoping Mueller will sort things out.
Which I suppose is why Trump wants him gone.
Ayup. While JeffyBo is nasty enough to have thought that one up on his own, my guess is that it came from the grifter-in-chief.
@mai naem mobile: If you can’t take any more Trump scandal, you can always go back to the health care horror show.
@debbie: No, indeed, not alone. I think the most important thing is that you stay motivated in local and state elections, for now, and federal elections next year. I read the big stories and then move on. I can’t spend all day every day mining the details.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@mai naem mobile: To be fair, a lot of this pure meaningless high school drama like Spicer and Trump’s tweets. Goverment by internet trolls.
@mai naem mobile: Fortunately, we don’t need Madame Defarge and her knitting cohort to document the atrocities. Hell, Drumpf is helpfully tweeting them out n his own.
Anyway, no need to feel you have to learn the gory details of each and every one. Plenty of people are here to bear witness.
@Adam L Silverman: Same with the Thai and Indonesia militaries.
It’ll be funny when that’s used to seize Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster, etc.
@mai naem mobile:
It’s the “Gish Gallop” technique on a massive scale, and with far more at stake than a debate tournament championship.
Yeah, I don’t doubt that, although I suspect that even Putin and his brain trust may have been surprised by just how susceptible our jumbled collection of voting laws and procedures was, along with the multi-mode media “information” distribution channels that so helped facilitate the disaster (THANKS NYT, Politico and Facebook!). He certainly wanted to disrupt our politics and at least expose Hillary to years of hell in office, presuming a win for her. Whether he expected a Trump win is certainly something I don’t know.
On a related note, I do wish some of the #Resistance thought leaders – I’m looking at you, Joy Ann Reid (among others) – would do a bit of background research on world/European history and geography before tweeting out references to Soviet domination and Communist ne’er-to-wells committing shenanigans, not to mention misidentifying Eastern European nations and their histories. I think one can rally well-intentioned but low information non-wingnuts without misleading them with Cold War tropes. Leave the misleading stuff – whether genuinely believed wackiness or opportunistic grifting – to the likes of Louise Mensch.
@mai naem mobile: Nope, you’re not. You’re right that it’s important to stay informed, but it’s also ok to take a break from the madness as necessary.
@Yarrow: i posted in the thread below, capito flipped. fuck.
Repealing, replacing Obamacare is the best solution for West Virginia. Read more in my weekly newsletter: http://bit.ly/2gQVOnT
@mai naem mobile: It could be worse. I remember when Clinton Fatigue was something we needed to be concerned with.
@lurker dean: Fucking hell! Really? We need a healthcare thread STAT.
@Cheryl Rofer: Yep. Ioffe is a little too quick to dismiss the likelihood that the FSB would use a screwdriver as a prybar.
@lurker dean: I followed the links to a video posted two days ago. If she’s flipped, no one has reported it as news yet.
Always remember, when someone talks “adoption” they mean sanctions. Russia hates the Magnitsky Act-and they see removing it as the first brick in bringing down the whole sanctions regime.
This 1 minute video from the USGS (via k drum) sure is illuminating: Oklahoma Sure Has a Lot of Earthquakes These Days
Oh noooooeessss, fracking is perfectly harmless.
Villago Delenda Est
@Adam L Silverman: PRC as well. This is nothing new; as others have pointed out…it’s a tradition where the “rule of law” means NOTHING. The GOP has bought into it, too. You can’t have a thriving capitalist economy without the rule of law and an impartial third party (the government) keeping the free market free via regulation to prevent the merchants from robbing the public blind. Some obscure Scotsman noted this some 241 years ago…
@Baud: i hope i’m wrong, but the link should have been to her twitter post at 10:45am this morning, which said “Repealing, replacing Obamacare is the best solution for West Virginia.”
@OzarkHillbilly: Okay, I’ve read the whole article now. Anne’s got the most of it. I like Ioffe as a commentator, although I don’t always agree with her. What she’s done here is to hive off one aspect of Veselnitskaya’s work. That’s been my analysis of this one particular job that she did for the FSB: that it was more about corruption than spying. But the Russian government doesn’t put things in those neat containers. If Veselnitskaya did a good job for them this one time, they may have had conversations with her about other possibilities and put her to work on Jared for different objectives.
That’s what makes these stories so hard to follow. If you take one action like this, it can easily be dismissed as business as usual. But it’s the whole picture that matters. That’s what Ioffe is missing in this article.
Villago Delenda Est
@sharl: This, this, THIS. Joy Reid SERIOUSLY embarrassed herself with that tweet about Slovakia and Slovenia.
Villago Delenda Est
And not one of them is as attractive as any of the Sand Snakes.
@lurker dean: Follow the links on the tweet. It’s two day old news. I didn’t watch the video, but I don’t think it says she’s ready to move forward with the bill.
Not that I would put anything past any of them.
@Cheryl Rofer: I like Ioffe too, but that was just a little too pat. There is certain to be an ongoing relationship between the FSB and her in which she will do whatever they ask of her as long as it is within her capabilities. Relaying information? Why not.
@lurker dean: It sounds to me like she is saying, “No repeal only bill, must have a replacement at that time.” She is not discussing what the replacement should be.
Colbert in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton is hilarious.
I just don’t think it’s possible to hate these people more. I’m not entirely sure how much more the people of American can take. The democracy is already quite broken, the country can recover and reform, but the people are already quite twisted. I think soldiers are too disciplined right now, but if we wind up in an unwinnable war, I daresay that clan Trump may find we aren’t quite so civilized that money buys loyalty.
Dr. Ronnie James, D.O.
Valerie Bertinelli’s darkest timeline
It’s actually much more understandable when you consider that it’s about corruption rather than espionage, from drumpf’s point of view. He has no consideration about government or spies or whatnot, none whatsoever, unless it might in some way stop him from getting money the old fashion way, which is anyway but to actually earn it.
Especially since suspending adoptions was something Putin did to retaliate against sanctions, not something the US did. For any of them who try to claim they’re really concerned about adoptions, ask why, if Trump can propose unilaterally giving the Russians things they want, to “improve relations,” why can’t Putin open up adoptions for the same reason?
Because Putin is dominant and Trump is submissive.
@mai naem mobile:
They are. It’s one of the reasons the Trump scandals didn’t get the coverage they should have during the campaign — there are so many of them, the shiny-object entranced media couldn’t focus.
He’s tweeting.. I found this one interesting, because he doesn’t even pretend to be president of all Americans
This was his first tweet
@Baud: Trump just wants to be loved, even if he finds it in all the wrong places.
Not a surprise the Russkies would send an experienced “leverager” to a meeting with Trump Staff. Yeah, this isn’t (cloak & dagger) spy shit; this is simple “here’s what we expect” meeting.
Are you calling Scaramucci a wrong place?
“Just” is doing a whole lotta lifting in Matt Stoller’s tweet, there.
Gotta admit, I’m prejudiced, because Stoller is one of the dudebros most determined to pretend there’s nothing to the Putin “allegations” — it’s all supposed to be Crooked Hillary’s minions ginning up “McCarthyism” for the rubes. Stoller reads, to me, like one of those Extremely Left Leftists who’s talked himself all the way ’round the political arc, bending into a circle where he’s alt-right-adjacent.
@Anne Laurie: Scroll up above that tweet and read the whole thread. Stoller’s been a waste of air for a long time now.
Never make too much of drumpf, just because he’s willing to stick his fingers in a bag of shit. There might be something in it for him. He has no morals, has no idea what the word even means. He is a shinning example of whatever, whenever, whomever it takes to make drumpf shine. If he can get some money out of the deal, great, money is a very good indicator of how everyone else values ME. It doesn’t matter who he associates with, who he strikes deals with, what does it make ME think it looks like is the only question. He emulates people who have the same flaws, vlad for example because that’s his only frame of reference. Those are the only people that matter, the people that like ME. Even if the like is not for the reason that he thinks it is, or that they expect something far too stupid for a 5 yr old to believe, that’s OK because it’s about ME. drumpf is the best/worst example of the ME generation.
The whole week was great. I’m surprised Trump hasn’t rage tweeted yet.
My post just went into the ether.
I like WP. It’s so reflexive, so evenhanded, so diabolical. It’s like dumpf wrote it.
Villago Delenda Est
@JPL: He does not understand that Congress is a co-equal branch of the government, that its duty is to uphold and defend the Constitution, not to “protect” the President. Especially a President who has, from the moment he took the oath, been in violation of it.
I wish. Asset forfeiture was happily applied by all involved until the Obama admin scaled it back. As long as the targets cannot really afford good legal representation…
no harm to people I know, no problem.
@Ruckus: Got it back for you.
@Baud: He is the Mooch after all. He’ll be whatever is necessary to gain favor for himself.
Stoller is the epitome of the leftier-than-left dickweed who contributes nothing to our politics but occasional bouts of agita. He is a gnat who thinks he’s a gadfly.
@Anne Laurie: I’ll grant you that Stoller often has a one-track mind, though that track – corporate monopolies and mergers-and-acquisitions – is a very important area for focus. His strength is definitely NOT in the area of international relations and foreign policy, except maybe where those interact with U.S. business practices.
On the “dudebro Left”, it’s my observation they’ve become a lot quieter about the whole Russian thing, as more-and-more stuff has come out. They may still occasionally grumble about it being too much of a distraction at times, but with a few exceptions – a number of whom are probably Russian-supported trolls and bots – they are no longer saying that it is a Nothingburger.
This all leaves me even more curious about just what our intelligence agencies have learned, and what they’ve told Congress, about the manner and extent of Russian interference. That is especially after what Chuck Schumer said recently:
Does Schumer actually believe this, or is his statement motivated more by political expediency? Beats me!
Just for my own piece of mind, I would like to have some basis on which to fashion a semi-quantitative* sense of the various factors that have brought us to this point (*a kinda-sorta relative ranking of extent of impact of Russian interference, eff’d up media, voter suppression, Comey’s pre-election BS, etc…).
@sharl: Political expediency. Too many people have become invested in anti-Democratic rhetoric. Need to reset.
I think that what the Trump-Putin relationship demonstrates is the existence and power of a global oligarchy. With some exceptions (those folks who actually developed some new product or service), these people have no allegiance to anything except their own wealth and power. And they are mostly interested in power as a way of increasing and protecting their wealth. They don’t see why they should have to pay taxes or abide by regulations or care about anything except their own selfish ends. Oligarchy is not a new phenomenon obviously. It’s as old as civilization. What globalization has permitted is unchecked oligarchy because there are no institutions to check it. I do not think this will end well.
@Baud: Could be; my admission of personal confusion is genuine. Seems like Schumer might be playing with fire, but maybe he’d be doing that no matter what he decides, and maybe standing in place would be just awaiting to be consumed by flames. I dunno.
@Zelma: Yeah, this bleak outlook is sort of where I am, at least for the short term. I wish I felt otherwise. But it’s something that needs to be fought by whatever means seem to offer chances for success.
And it has affected/ruined civilizations before. It’s just that usually civilizations were much smaller than the entire planet and it really isn’t any longer. China is still considered a hostile government and yet we do billions of trade with them, as does most other countries, we sell them war planes, we purchase airplane parts from them for, that I know of at least commercial jets, and on and on. We purchase goods made in Vietnam, Japan, Germany, countries we’ve waged war with, and in the lifetimes of citizens alive today. We purchase oil from and sell arms to countries that pay terrorists to blow us up. Either we are some of the stupidest people or the world is now one civilization, like it or not. The EU, while it has (major) issues was a good deal for the countries involved. Because they really were not that much of completely separate entities and more like our states were supposed to be.
Country boundaries mean nothing to the uber wealthy, neither do the laws or enforcement of them. They can easily buy their way out of any trouble/issue. They can purchase citizenship with less than pocket change. This is one civilization to them. It’s only people of limited wealth that have boundaries. The only funny part is that drumpf thinks he’s one of them. And he isn’t.
He’s setting a backfire so to speak.
Having connections to a spy organization doesn’t mean a person is a spy. It does indicate that no one can ask “how could this possibly be an FSB operation, when it only involves a lawyer who has corruptly worked with the FSB?”
We now know that she worked for pay for the FSB, and might well have been paid by them to hold a meeting with the Trumps.
We don’t have evidence that she *was* a spy at this time, for sure. This, however, rules out the notion that we really ought to assume she was interested only in sanctions and adoption.
I think it’s an answer to all of the Wilmer-curious Democrats and leftists who insist that the Democratic Party doesn’t actually stand for anything but being anti-Trump. The Democrats in Congress are going to provide documentation to show that isn’t true to add to the anti-Trump rhetoric.
It’s a smart move, IMO, as long as the Democratic Party also continues to support voting rights and campaign finance reform. Without those two things, a new and improved platform won’t do jack shit.