USAPig Trump is Kremlin’s puppet, Russian editor says
International Business Times
23 Feb 2017 at 07:50 ET
Many Russians believe that President Donald Trump is a “puppet” in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands and is being used to fulfill his agenda of discrediting democracies across the world, the editor-in-chief of the Moscow Times, a prominent Russian newspaper critical of Putin’s politics, said Wednesday.
Mikhail Fishman said popular opinion in Russia is that Trump is a “stupid, unstrategic politician” who can be manipulated for the Kremlin’s benefit. He also said Russia is looking to take advantage of the Trump administration’s many slip-ups during its first month in office. “They see the clumsiness, the inexperience. Naturally, they're working to exploit that,” Fishman said.
While the world was unsure about a Trump presidency during the campaign stage, the Kremlin portrayed the Republican nominee in a positive light. Kremlin’s propaganda showcased Trump “as an honest representative of the American people who was being mistreated by the establishment elites and other evil forces in Washington,” Fishman told Vox.
Putin reportedly never expected Trump to emerge as the winner in the presidential election last year. Instead, his goal was to discredit his rival and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton would have likely followed former President Barack Obama’s global policy, and may have further isolated Moscow, especially after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
A mural depicts U.S. President Donald Trump (right) blowing marijuana smoke into the mouth of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the wall of a barbecue restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania, Nov. 23, 2016. Photo: Getty Images/Sean Gallup
Fishman said Putin’s ultimate aim — stemming from his identity as an ex-Soviet intelligence officer — was to undermine the concept of democracy. The Moscow Times editor-in-chief explained: “He wants to point to the chaos in these countries and say to his domestic audience, ‘You see, democracy is a sham, and it doesn’t work anywhere.’”
“That serves as a justification for his own anti-democratic policies,” Fishman added. “In the end, it’s about reinforcing his own power.”
In the U.S., Trump’s comments lauding Putin and calling for better relations with Russia while on the campaign trail have raised alarm over his alleged links to the Kremlin, and the influence the latter may have on the U.S. president.
**************What do we know about Pig Trump and Russia? – video explainer
Luke Harding considers the many links between Donald Trump’s administration and Russia. As well as praising President Vladimir Putin, Trump has surrounded himself with men with close ties with Russia. He has failed to quash allegations that his staff had improper contact with Russian officials, or that he has business interests in Russia
Click to watch: <iframe src="https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/us-news/video/2017/feb/23/what-do-we-know-about-donald-trump-and-russia-video-explainer
" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
**********Paul Manafort targeted for blackmail shortly before Ukraine ties forced him out of Trump campaign
23 Feb 2017 at 09:05 ET
Paul Manafort was apparently the target of a possible Russian blackmail attempt when he served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.
The undated messages — which have been hacked and then recently circulated by a hacktivist collective — were sent to an iPhone belonging to Manafort’s daughter in an attempt to reach her father, reported Politico.
One text message appears to have come from a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, who claimed to have “bulletproof” evidence of a financial arrangement between Manafort and Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
The message also claimed to have strong evidence that Trump met in 2012 with Serhiy Tulub, a close associate of the Ukrainian strongman Yanukovych.
“Considering all the facts and evidence that are in my possession, and before possible decision whether to pass this to [the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine] or FBI I would like to get your opinion on this and maybe your way to work things out that will persuade me to do otherwise,” the message reads.
The message urges Manafort to reply using an email address that reporters have used to communicate with Leschenko, according to Politico.
Manafort, who joined the Trump campaign in March and left in August due to his ties to Yanukovych, confirmed the authenticity of the texts that had been hacked from his daughter’s phone.
He told Politico that he had received similar texts to his own phone, from the same address, before his daughter had gotten any.
Manafort said the messages began arriving shortly before the New York Times reported that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine had obtained documents allegedly showing $12.7 million in cash payments intended for Trump’s then-campaign chairman.
He resigned two days later from the Trump campaign, although he denies receiving off-the-books payment from Yanukovych’s party and claims he was never contacted by Ukrainian or American authorities about the documents.
The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies are investigating possible links between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.
Manafort, along with Trump campaign advisors Carter Page and Roger Stone, has been identified by the New York Times as the subject of the multiagency investigation.
He has also been identified as one of the participants in a back-channel effort by Trump administration officials and the president’s business associates to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Manafort told the website he hadn’t responded directly to any of the texts and instead passed them along to his lawyer.
The messages hacked from his daughter’s phone first surfaced a couple of weeks ago on the so-called dark web, according to Politico.
Cybersecurity experts are relatively unfamiliar with the hacktivist group that revealed the texts sent to Manafort’s daughter, and the hack appears to be intended as retribution against Trump policies.
A former U.S. military intelligence cybersecurity analyst told Politico the group “seems like randos,” rather than associated with any nation-state.
*********A Pig Trump Rebellion Is Reported to be Brewing Among The Intelligence Community
By Sarah Jones on Wed, Feb 22nd, 2017 at 1:17 pm
"Rebellion is brewing in Washington," Schindler warns of the spy war on the Trump administration. Contrary to Trump's claims that this is a partisan war, "Behind closed doors, plenty of American intelligence experts believe that President Trump is the pawn of the Kremlin..."
John Schindler, a former NSA analyst, has become one of my go-to reads for takes on the intelligence community’s stance in regards to President Trump and his Russian connections. From Schindler, we learned – before it was confirmed by others – that the Intelligence Community (IC) was withholding information from the Trump White House, out of fear that the Kremlin had ears in the Situation Room. This was later confirmed by other sources, just as several of Schindler’s other early takes have been.
On Wednesday, Schindler dropped another tasty seed on the Trump Russia trail. “Rebellion is brewing in Washington,” Schindler warned of the spy war on the Trump administration.
Contrary to Trump’s claims that this is a partisan war, no, it’s partly about his repeated insults to their work but also, “Behind closed doors, plenty of American intelligence experts believe that President Trump is the pawn of the Kremlin, wittingly or not…”
“The Russia angle is most troubling to the IC. Behind closed doors, plenty of American intelligence experts believe that President Trump is the pawn of the Kremlin, wittingly or not, and assess that it’s only a matter of time before unseemly Moscow ties are exposed and the White House enters unsurvivable political crisis,” Schindler writes.
“Rebellion is brewing in Washington. The resignation of the CIA’s spokesman, a career intelligence analyst, is a sign of how fragile IC morale has gotten under the new administration.”
Schindler seems to be referring to former intelligence analyst and National Security Council spokesman Edward Price, a man who has worked in the Central Intelligence Agency for more than a decade under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who quit the agency because of Donald Trump. This troubles people who aren’t knee-jerk Trump defenders, because a careerist is not a partisan position. It would be a relief if this were a partisan issue, but instead, it is a deeply threatening issue that has already undermined our democracy and made us a laughing stock around the globe.
“If President Trump keeps upping the ante in his war on the spies, he can expect more damaging leaks to reach the media,” Schindler writes menacingly. “Leaks happen in every administration, and Nixon’s ignominious fall ought to serve as a cautionary tale to any president who thinks he can find the right ‘plumbers’ to fix the leaky faucet.”
Schindler warned of more leaks when Trump first took office and refused to back down on his denials about his connections to Russia. And the leaks came.
Aside from the Russia issue, what we have here is a President who is so ignorant about diplomacy and relations with various factions of power that he thinks he can win a war with the intelligence community by insulting them and trying to remove all of their power to do their job.
“When spies in Washington leak to the media, they do so not out of any ideology, much less overt partisanship, but to protect bureaucratic turf and to settle personal scores,” Schindler penned images of dark ominous clouds ahead.
President Trump keeps lying about Russia and slamming the intelligence community while he’s at it, because this has worked for him all of his life until now. Trump has always had the biggest, baddest, meanest lawyers and deepest pockets. He was able to thug his way out of most troubles, and if that didn’t work, money did.
But now Trump has met a thug who can’t be bought off and isn’t afraid of Trump lawyer thugs. A thug that collectively has more power than Trump can imagine, even as President.
This isn’t to suggest the Intelligence Community is really the thug here, but to put things in terms Trump can understand, they are the BMOC and Trump is the freshman with a huge ego and no reason for it. They will keep leaking if Trump keeps lying.
They will rebel, and as Schindler notes, the result of an IC rebellion can be seen during the Nixon Administration.
Trump’s problem, in addition to his ignorance, is that he hasn’t the courage to come clean and he is probably being held to his current denials by a Russian spy ship off of the coast of Connecticut. Or something.
So there will be more leaks and more leaks, if this report is to be believed.
Republicans in Congress will continue to ignore the warnings to jump ship, and soon enough, the Trump administration’s unseemly ties to Russia just might explode in a very ugly way. A Nixonian way. A way that will not go away.
*********Republican lawmakers face town hall crowds' fury during 'resistance recess'
Frustrated constituents make their views known to representatives around the country, focusing anger on Trump’s immigration and healthcare plans
Jamiles Lartey and agencies
Wednesday 22 February 2017 18.46 GMT
Congresspeople nationwide have been facing angry crowds, protests and tough questions during this week’s congressional recess, a time when senators and representatives often return to their home districts and hold “town hall” events.
Organizers and activists upset with Donald Trump have been flooding into events, especially those hosted by Republican members of Congress, to overwhelm their representatives and exert pressure on a range of issues from Trump’s immigration ban to the looming possibility of the Affordable Care Act being repealed, in what has been dubbed “resistance recess” by some advocacy groups.
The president himself, the indirect target of most of the protesting, had his own take on the protester turnout.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!
February 21, 2017
Here are some of the most notable exchanges from across the US:
Iowa: ‘Who is going to save me?’
The Republican senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley both faced contentious crowds at town hall events in Iowa. “Who is going to save me?” an Afghan US military veteran asked Grassley, referencing the president’s now suspended travel ban, reported KCCI.
“I am a person from a Muslim country and I am a Muslim. Who is going to save me here? Who is going to stand behind me?” Zalmay Niazy continued to applause.
Grassley later offered to meet with the man to see if he could assist him.
Florida: ‘No one has paid me to be here’
At the town hall with Representative Dennis Ross, several attendees took on Trump’s tweet.
“I’m gainfully employed, I’m a mother of four, and no one has paid me to be here tonight. I took unpaid time off so I could attend this meeting,” said one Florida resident.
She added, referring to Trump’s weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Springs, Florida: “I am asking you, Congressman Ross, what are you doing to protect the citizens of the United States, especially the citizens of 15th district, from the outrageous expenditure of taxpayer money spent all so he can enjoy what he has called the southern White House every weekend since taking office, at our expense?”
Ross replied that he would like to look into it. “You’re the first one that has brought this to my attention,” he said, adding that he would like to compare it to other presidents’ spending on trips to Hawaii and elsewhere.
Kentucky: ‘Sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren’
The most powerful member of the US Senate faced jeers from nearly 1,000 people as he arrived on Tuesday to address a group of local business leaders. In Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, they chanted as the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, entered the American Legion Post 34 Fairgrounds in a black limousine.
One woman, who said she “loves” McConnell, nonetheless pressed the senator on the loss of coal jobs.
“If you can answer any of that I’ll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren,” she said, spurring laughs from the crowd.
McConnell said he was “proud” of the demonstrators for expressing their views but told the mostly friendly audience inside that the protesters had “had their shot”, adding: “Winners make policy and the losers go home.”
Virginia: hundreds line the streets
In Blackstone, Virginia, protesters and supporters crowded a restaurant conference room where the Republican congressman David Brat fielded questions for about an hour on Tuesday. Hundreds also lined the streets surrounding the venue, waiting to speak with him outside. He was loudly heckled and booed when he defended Trump and his policies on healthcare and immigration, with the occasional cheer from supporters of his positions on gun rights and fewer regulations.
Brat, a former economics professor who rode voter anger to a historic political upset nearly three years ago, said he enjoyed the feisty give and take.
“People are very nervous and anxious after the Trump win. So my goal tonight is to help allay some of those anxieties,” said Brat, who defeated the then House majority leader, Eric Cantor, in a 2014 GOP primary.
Pennsylvania and Tennessee: town hall but no members of Congress
In some cases, the anger was on display even when a member of Congress wasn’t. In Pennsylvania, a healthcare “town hall” organized by citizens addressed questions and concerns to an empty suit at the front of the assembly, intended to represent Senator Pat Toomey, who declined to attend. Several citizens talked about how their lives would be adversely affected by a repeal of Obamacare, including a pair of cancer survivors.
Some members avoid in-person meetings altogether
Many members of Congress have elected to not hold town halls amid all the discord, and instead hold phone events, citing “safety concerns”. About 18,000 callers participated in a telephone town hall with the suburban Chicago representative Peter Roskam, who has been criticized for canceling smaller in-person meetings and declining debates.
The far-right Texas congressman Louie Gohmert has also eschewed in-person events for phone town halls. The representative said in a statement that he was concerned that “groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology … who are preying on public town halls” would “wreak havoc and threaten public safety”.
**********Arizona Senate allows cops to seize assets from anyone who takes part in a protest that turns violent
23 Feb 2017 at 06:47 ET
The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate has passed a bill that would let law enforcement officials seize the assets of people who participate in protests that turn violent — even if those people had nothing to do with any violent incidents.
The Arizona Capital Times reports that the bill, which passed on Wednesday, “expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting,” while also redefining “what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.”
The bill would allow police to seize assets of anyone who attended a peaceful protest that happened to turn violent, and it also gives cops the power to arrest people who planned the events, even if they did not personally commit violence.
State Sen. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), who supported the bill, explained to the Arizona Capital Times that it’s aimed at curtailing the activities of “professional protest” groups whose goal is to start riots and damage private property.
“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,” said Kavanagh, a former police officer. “Wouldn’t you rather stop a riot before it starts? Do you really want to wait until people are injuring each other, throwing Molotov cocktails, picking up barricades and smashing them through businesses in downtown Phoenix?”
************‘Leaving him alone can prove damaging’: Staffers warn Trump needs constant praise and limit on TV
22 Feb 2017 at 15:14 ET
Staffers from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign have reportedly warned that too much TV could be dangerous for the president.
Campaign staffers told Politico in a report published on Wednesday that the president requires constant praise and a limit on media consumption.
“If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable,” former communications director Sam Nunberg explained. “I would assume the president would like see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall.”
And although former staffers said that Trump reads little online content, he is seemingly addicted to cable news.
To curb his urge to tweet, campaign officials said that they showed Trump positive coverage from friendly outlets like Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Caller and the conspiracy theory website Infowars.
“He saw there was activity so he didn’t feel like he had to respond,” one former campaign official pointed out. “He sends out these tweets when he feels like people aren’t responding enough for him.”
The in-person touch is also important to keeping Trump from running too hot. One Trump associate said it’s important to show Trump deference and offer him praise and respect, as that will lead him to more often listen. And If Trump becomes obsessed with a grudge, aides need to try and change the subject, friends say. Leaving him alone for several hours can prove damaging, because he consumes too much television and gripes to people outside the White House.
With Trump’s wife and son living in New York, staffers speculate that the president may have difficulty overcoming his obsession with negative coverage anytime soon.
***********Psychiatrist warns Pig Trump is a ‘psychiatric Frankenstein monster’ who is at war with ‘imagined enemies’
22 Feb 2017 at 10:28 ET
Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday night, a psychologist warned that fellow doctors have a responsibility to point out that President Donald Trump exhibits clear signs of mental illness and shouldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes.
Speaking with host Lawrence O’Donnell, Dr. John Gartner claimed, Trump is a “paranoid, psychopathic, narcissist who is divorced from reality” who will put the nation at risk.
“If we could construct a psychiatric Frankenstein monster, we could not create a leader more dangerously mentally ill than Donald Trump,” Gartner began. “He is a paranoid, psychopathic, narcissist who is divorced from reality and lashes out impulsively at his imagined enemies. And this is someone, as you said, who is handling the nuclear codes.”
It has long been a policy within the psychiatric community to not diagnose individuals without personally interviewing them, but Gartner — who works as a therapist in Baltimore and New York City — warned that, in the case of Trump, that should be set aside because there is ample evidence based on Trump’s public utterances.
“I would argue to my colleagues that those who don’t speak out are being unethical,” he stated. “If we have some knowledge and understanding about the unique danger that Donald Trump presents through our psychiatric training and don’t say something about it, history is not going to judge us kindly.”
Appearing with Gartner, Dr. Lance Dodes also warned against not taking a hard look at Trump’s mental state, which he believes disqualifies him from holding the highest office in the land.
“He lies because of his sociopathic tendencies that Dr. Gartner was talking about,” Dodes suggested. “He lies in the way anybody who scams people does. He’s tried to sell an idea or a product by telling you something that is untrue. There is also the kind of lie he has that in a way is more serious — that he has a loose grip on reality. We can say that because he lies about things that aren’t that important.”
“I think what that indicates is that he can’t stand an aspect of reality that he doesn’t want, so he rejects it,” Dodes continued. “His grasp of reality, his attention to reality is loose. This is an extremely dangerous trait in a president. It actually makes him unqualified.”
**********Under Pig Trump, American approval of Putin grows
22 Feb 2017 at 10:31 ET
Russian President Vladimir Putin is fast becoming a more polarizing figure among Americans than ever before as both his approval and disapproval ratings are soaring.
Despite receiving highly negative press over his government’s alleged sponsoring of hacks on the U.S. electoral process last year, a Gallup poll shows 22 percent of U.S. citizens hold a favorable view of Putin. Although far from his career-best U.S. approval rating of 41 percent in the nascency of his first term in 2002, his approval is at a peak for his current third term.
Putin’s disapproval rating, however, is 72 percent—equalling his record from 2015.
According to Gallup, different views of Putin are a partisan matter in the U.S., with independents warming to him over the last two years (by 11 points) and Republicans, once the bulwark of criticism against Putin, warming to him event more strongly (by 20 points.) He lost favor with Democrats by five points.
Republican President Donald Trump has reiterated his personal admiration for Putin’s leadership skills and vowed to seek improved relations with Russia. He has not indicated exactly how he envisions “getting along” with Russia and at what cost.
Russia itself, however, has reached a record-high unfavorability rating among Americans (70 percent), with only 28 percent of U.S. citizens holding a positive view of the country.