By ian douglas rushlau / Daily Kos (02/11/2018) -February 11, 2018
This is the third installment of a series of articles that provide an overview of the corrupt alliances, and decades of efforts, that overthrew American democracy and allowed Vladimir Putin to install Trump in the White House.
The first two are:
Trump has been a tool for Russian organized crime for decades
Trump has been a tool for Russian organized crime for decades-Part 2/The Kremlin Connection
In a comment to the second article in this series, lakehillsliberal made an important observation:
… why has Trump never been criminally prosecuted. Trumps activities are known and have been monitored for years and no law enforcement agency has ever filed criminal charges. He has been in plenty of civil lawsuits but never faced a criminal investigation before Mueller. That just not make any sense at all
My response to this observation: it makes perfect sense.
The Trump family, and its organized crime partners, are connected politically, and protected by ‘strategic investments’ in law enforcement.
He’s been aligned with both the Russian and US mob for decades, as was his father. He apparently had a protector in the NYC district attorney’s office:
In 2010, when the Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the D.A.’s office opened an investigation of the siblings, the Trump Organization had hired several top New York criminal-defense lawyers to represent Donald, Jr., and Ivanka. These attorneys had met with prosecutors in the bureau several times. They conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims, but argued that the overstatements didn’t amount to criminal misconduct. Still, the case dragged on. In a meeting with the defense team, Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, entered the case.
… in 2012, Kasowitz donated twenty-five thousand dollars to the reëlection campaign of the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., making Kasowitz one of Vance’s largest donors. Kasowitz decided to bypass the lower-level prosecutors and went directly to Vance to ask that the investigation be dropped.
On May 16, 2012, Kasowitz visited Vance’s office at One Hogan Place, in downtown Manhattan—a faded edifice made famous by the television show “Law & Order.” Dan Alonso, the Chief Assistant District Attorney, and Adam Kaufmann, the chief of the investigative division, were also at the meeting, but no one from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau attended. Kasowitz did not introduce any new arguments or facts during his session. He simply repeated the arguments that the other defense lawyers had been making for months.
Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case.
and later with the FLA and TX Attorney General offices:
Attorneys general in Florida and Texas who declined to pursue lawsuits against the now-defunct Trump University received political contributions from Donald Trump, according to an Associated Press report.
Trump donated $35,000 to the successful gubernatorial campaign of then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott three years after a probe into the university’s “possibly deceptive trade practices” was dropped by his office when the university agreed to cease its Texas operations.
Abbott’s office pushed back against the report in a statement to The Hill on Friday, saying that the then-attorney general was just doing his job…
And a political fundraising committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi received a $25,000 donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation just days after her office had announced it was looking into joining a multi-state lawsuit against Trump University. Her office later dropped the inquiry, citing a lack of evidence.
And of course, we now know about the NYC FBI office (Giuliani’s crew), which operated (operates?) as a covert GOP shadow law enforcement/intelligence/racketeering outfit:
“This reminds me of the McCarthy era, when FBI agents followed my dad who was a deputy assistant Secretary of State and wanted him to make certain statements… I thought the FBI was past the Hoover era, of blackmail and interfering… The notion that her emails are so important that they can undermine a federal election. There is no equivalency here.”
The unanswered question is what role did Giuliani and his allies inside the New York City FBI have in pressuring Comey to reopen the email investigation, and in so doing, alert the House Republican leadership. It is no secret that the FBI, like many law enforcement agencies, mirrors Trump’s base—it’s overly white, male and conservative. Add to that the factor that the Weiner investigation was being handled by the bureau’s New York City office, which has deep connections to Giuliani and the Trump campaign, and a volatile brew emerges.
Wayne Barrett, who has been writing investigative articles about New York City for decades, laid out some of the links between the FBI’s New York City office and the Trump campaign in a piece for the Daily Beast. It describes how Giuliani’s law firm not only has ongoing business with agents, but that top former agents, including the city’s bureau chief, have been some of Clinton’s most vocal critics and have assailed Comey for shutting down the email inquiry last July.
“Along with Giuliani’s other connections to New York FBI agents, his former law firm, then called Bracewell Giuliani, has long been general counsel to the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents 13,000 former and current agents,” Barrett wrote.
The relationship of Trump, Roy Cohn (attorney for the Trumps and the NY mob, and Joe McCarthy’s assistant), Rudy Giuliani, and the FBI has overtones of the days of Whitey Bulger, and reminds us that alliances between the FBI and organized crime is standard operating procedure, in a way that sounds like simply setting up joint ventures:
Joseph (the Animal) Barboza was a murderer for hire from New Bedford, Massachusetts, who came by his nickname after an altercation with a minor mafioso which he elected to settle with his teeth. Barboza ultimately confessed to seven murders, and bragged to associates that he had committed many more, but he had the good fortune to be employed by the Mafia at a moment when authorities were trying desperately to better understand organized crime. In 1961, J. Edgar Hoover stressed, in a memo, the imperative to develop “live sources within the upper echelon of the organized hoodlum element.”
Barboza became a prized informant: he served as a government witness, helping to convict members of the Patriarca crime family. In fact, he was so valuable that when authorities began looking into a 1965 murder that Barboza had participated in, his contacts at the F.B.I. engineered a scheme to protect him. Barboza was never prosecuted for this crime; instead, he took the stand as the government’s star witness and implicated four innocent men in the murder. His F.B.I. handler, an agent named H. Paul Rico, boasted afterward about the ease with which the bureau had set up four “pigeons” for a crime they did not commit. All four men ended up with life sentences. (They were cleared of the murder in 2001, by which point two of them had died in prison.)…
In 1969, the government placed Barboza in witness protection, relocating him to California. But in his new identity he killed a man, and when local prosecutors sought to try him for the murder, the F.B.I. concocted a second coverup, maintaining that the killing was an effort by the Mob to frame the Animal and dispatching federal agents to appear in court as witnesses for the defense…
With [Whitey] Bulger, as with Barboza, the asset came to seem so valuable that the government did more than tolerate his bad behavior; it began to enable that behavior, even to engage in criminal activity itself. Suddenly, the government had lost control, and the asset had acquired it. Whitey Bulger knew that his friend Stephen Flemmi had coöperated with the F.B.I. and was still committing crimes with impunity. He also knew the story of Barboza. So his decision to coöperate makes a lot of sense. As T. J. English puts it, “If you were willing to sign on as a player in this ongoing conspiracy, you could not be touched.”…
For a 1999 study in the Fordham Law Review, Ellen Yaroshefsky interviewed former federal prosecutors about the tendency to grow close to a criminal informant and the perils of losing objectivity. It is possible, Yaroshefsky suggested, to “fall in love with your rat.” Something like this happened not just with Connolly but also with Connolly’s F.B.I. supervisor, John Morris. Flemmi and Bulger would go to Morris’s suburban house and indulge in long evenings of bonding. Morris was from the Midwest and lacked Connolly’s common touch. (His paperwork, T. J. English notes, “was impeccable.”) He liked wine, so Bulger gave him a case, and then another. On a separate occasion, the gangsters supplied a plane ticket so that Morris’s mistress could join him on a getaway to Georgia. For security reasons, relationships with informants are often carried out in secret, with little oversight; the usual temptations become hard to resist…
Much like the earlier F.B.I. agents who had handled Barboza, Connolly and Morris continued to cover for Bulger’s and Flemmi’s criminal activities. One reason is that Bulger compromised his handlers. A case of wine. A plane ticket. The gifts added up. Connolly reportedly took a quarter of a million dollars over a decade. But a subtler power shift was also in play: when Connolly and Morris broke the law to protect Bulger, they were furnishing him with grounds for blackmail.
Collusion is a word that’s thrown around a lot with the Trump/Putin/GOP cabal, because it applies. Ongoing, mutli-layered, multifaceted criminal conspiracies— stretching across decades– that merge corrupt business dealings in the US (epitomized by Trump), US and Russian organized crime, espionage and law enforcement, and one of the two major American political parties— the GOP.
EastcoastChick wondered this, in a comment to my prior article:
Not sure why this man was allowed to run for president. The GOP could have stopped him. I’m very curious about why they didn’t.
My answer— because they’re fully aware, and complicit in the dirty business:
The short answer, of course, is that the GOP, as an organization, its leadership, and its rank and file membership, are amoral.
The GOP leadership was well aware of Trump’s Russian entanglements, and those of other GOP members:
In the transcript published by the Post,[Majority Leader Kevin]
McCarthy speculates that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computers and, in the process, discovered whatever opposition-research materials the Democrats had gathered on Trump.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said, according to Entous, a superb reporter who heard a tape recording of the colloquy. “Swear to God.”…
In the Post piece, McCarthy’s remark is met with laughter, and Ryan cautions his colleagues, “This is an off the record . . . No leaks! . . . All right?”
And then, amid more laughter, Ryan says, “This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
“That’s how you know that we’re tight,” Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, says.
“What’s said in the family stays in the family,” Ryan concludes.
Spokesmen for the various parties at first denied that the conversation took place. But when the Post apprised them of the audiotape, they went into an oh-well-it-was-just-a-joke mode. Another participant, Evan McMullin, an ex-C.I.A. operative, who ran for President last year as an independent, confirmed to the Post that the conversation took place. He attended as the policy director of the House Republican Conference.
The longer answer is the involvement between the GOP goes deeper, and perhaps dates back further, than any of us might have imagined even a year ago.
I find the mutual interest of Russia and the NRA (stalwart GOP proxy organization), for example, quite curious:
On December 11, 2015, in the depths of a biting Moscow winter, The Right to Bear Arms hosted a delegation from its American counterpart, the NRA. David Keene, an NRA board member and former national president of the organization, flew to Russia to attend the event. Also at that meeting were NRA First Vice President Pete Brownell, CEO of the world’s largest firearm accessories supplier; NRA funder Dr. Arnold Goldschlager and his daughter, NRA Women’s Leadership Forum executive committee member Hilary Goldschalger; and Outdoor Life channel head Jim Liberatore. Perhaps the most famous guest at the gathering, trading his customary uniform for a black leather vest over a button-down shirt, was Milwaukee County Sheriff and Fox News regular David A. Clarke…
Maria Butina grew up in Altai, a mountainous area in southern Siberia, but moved to Moscow when she was 22. Almost overnight, she gaining notice as the founderand chair of Russia’s gun-rights movement. Reportedly a strong supporter of Putin and his United Russia Party, she helped start The Right to Bear Arms about five years ago as a non-profit organization. …
The same article noted that, early on, Butina “gained a powerful ally”— Alexander Torshin, who is an NRA Life Member, a “high-ranking member” of Putin’s United Russia and, at the time, the first deputy speaker of the Russian senate.
The NRA took note when Torshin authored an unsuccessful bill that year that would have allowed public use of firearms.
Then there’s this, involving yet another GOP proxy group:
Growing up in the 1980s, Brian Brown was taught to think of the communist Soviet Union as a dark and evil place.
But Brown, a leading opponent of same-sex marriage, said that in the past few years he has started meeting Russians at conferences on family issues and finding many kindred spirits.
Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, has visited Moscow four times in four years, including a 2013 trip during which he testified before the Duma as Russia adopted a series of anti-gay laws…
On issues including gun rights, terrorism and same-sex marriage, many leading advocates on the right who grew frustrated with their country’s leftward tilt under President Barack Obama have forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.
The attitude adjustment among many conservative activists helps explain one of the most curious aspects of the 2016 presidential race: a softening among many conservatives of their historically hard-line views of Russia. To the alarm of some in the GOP’s national security establishment, support in the party base for then-candidate Donald Trump did not wane even after he rejected the tough tone of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who called Russia America’s No. 1 foe, and repeatedly praised Putin…
It is not clear what effect closer ties will have on relations between the two countries, which have gotten frostier with the opening of congressional and FBI investigations into Russia’s intrusion into the election and rising tensions over the civil war in Syria.
But the apparent increase in contacts in recent years, as well as the participation of officials from the Russian government and the influential Russian Orthodox church, leads some analysts to conclude that the Russian government probably promoted the efforts in an attempt to expand Putin’s power.
“Is it possible that these are just well-meaning people who are reaching out to Americans with shared interests? It is possible,” said Steven L. Hall, who retired from the CIA in 2015 after managing Russia operations for 30 years. “Is it likely? I don’t think it’s likely at all. . . . My assessment is that it’s definitely part of something bigger.”
All of these alliances are straight out of the 1950’5 KGB playbook, and what we see with the GOP, and the groups that are part of the conservative metastasis, is simply Machiavellian, whatever comrades might assist in enriching themselves, and imposing a fascist autocracy.
As I said, amoral.
So we can see the broad outlines— organized crime in the US and Russia (of which Putin is the boss of bosses), a significant cross section of the FBI sharing sleeping bags with them, the GOP, and the Trump family, hand in glove.