Too many Republicans have been abetting and and enabling a Russian asset who has been living in the White House. No, this is not “fake news, nor a conspiracy theory but a DOSE of reality.
The majority of republican legislators have been in a state of denial about their standard bearer very likely being a Russian asset in their midst because too many have become fearful of antagonizing the republican President Donald J. Trump’s ardent supporters who would follow him if he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. Then of course, congressional lawmakers have been counting on the president’s big money backers, and then, there is that marginal tax cut/ reform bill that the right has been dreaming about for years.
The fact that our President Donald Trump repeatedly claims that he does not have direct financial interests in Russia, is immaterial. Outside of Russia, a favorite tool of its spy craft has been to co-opt unwitting foreigners as assets, by becoming financially entangled with them and/ or their businesses.
In short, just as US citizens who become financially involved to where they are indebted with the mafia can expect to be eventually compromised, the same can be said of those dealing with Russians. The U.S. president is no exception.
But republican leaders already know the facts. They read the newspapers. For about two decades, the president has managed to obtain the assistance of Russian monies to the tune of millions of dollars while he had been denied loans/ credit with US banks due to his past bankruptcy filings.
What is worse is that they are not even listening to their own IC commnity leaders like James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who has been sounding the alarms.
As per a 5/14/17 ThinkProgress report, “Clapper says Comey firing is a ‘victory’ for Russia,” by Lindsay Gibbs, “In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union (5/14/17), Clapper explained his belief that the foundations of our government, particularly our system of checks and balances, are being threatened by Trump’s actions.”
“Well, I will just say that (recent) developments are very bothersome, very disturbing to me,” Clapper said. “I think in many ways, our institutions are under assault externally and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system. And I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”
(As if the above apathy regarding Russia’s attack on US democracy isn’t shocking enough, the laissez faire attitudes of these republicans are having an impact on how the public now views Russia)
“Behind their neglect are changing Republican voter opinions, which are becoming alarmingly more pro-Russian. According to a Morning Consult-Politico poll conducted in May, 49 percent of Republican voters consider Russia to be either an ally or friendly. Only 12 percent consider it an enemy. In 2015, only 12 percent of Republicans held a favorable view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Gallup. As of February, that figure had jumped to 32 percent.”
On the positive side, both US House republicans and democrats have overwhelmingly passed a veto proof bill barring the president from arbitrarily lifting any US sanctions imposed against Russia from 2012-2017 without congressional review. This action was taken as it became apparent that the president was leaning towards the lifting of sanctions with little to nothing in return.
Here are a few disconcerting facts for republicans to consider while they resist facing up to the fact that President’s behaviors fit all the descriptions of a Russian asset, and as they downplay the seriousness of Russia’s impact/ harm to the American peoples, exacerbated by their growing distrust towards our democratic governmental institutions:
1.) Deutsche has been our president’s largest creditor for about 2 decades.
2.) “Deutsche Bank has already been fined millions of dollars in January 2017 for laundering Russian dirty monies to the tune of $10 billion dollars via various methods and entities including the Bank of Cypress.”
3.) “The head of Deutsche Bank during this dark period, Josef Ackermann became the chairman of the Bank of Cypress in 2014.”
4.) “The largest shareholder of the Bank of Cypress, Dmitry Rybolovlev is the same Russian oligarch who purchased the president’s Palm Beach home in 2008 for the inflated price of $95 million to $100 million dollars when it was appraised 5 years after purchase for about $60 million dollars.”
5.) “Around the time that the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased the president’s property in Palm Beach in 2008, the president was suing Deutsche Bank in 2008 over a $40 million loan that came due. He claimed that the 2008 downward spiral in property values, due to the US recession was as an “Act of God” which absolved him from having to honor this obligation. Somehow this whole incident was taken care of and Deutsche Bank has continued to loan the president monies.”
6.) Coincidentally, the newly confirmed US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross became the Vice Chairman of the Bank of Cypress in 2014, but he has stepped down from this role.
- As per a 3/23/17 Guardian report by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, “In 2015, Bank of Cyprus announced (pdf) it was offloading the Russian business, including loan exposures, to Avetisyan for €7m. The core assets had been purchased for €450m in 2008. Deutsche Bank’s London office advised Bank of Cyprus on the deal. ““One of Ross’s first big decisions at the bank was the appointment of former Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann as chairman. Ackermann’s ties to Russia were strong, including a warm relationship with Putin and Herman Gref of Sberbank.”
- “In a separate management decision under Ross’s watch, Bank of Cyprus gave Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private bank, until 2019 – four more years than originally planned – to pay back a €100m debt it owed in connection to Alfa’s purchase of the bank’s Ukrainian assets. Alfa Bank still owed Bank of Cyprus €57m as of the end of September. “
7.) The Bank of Cypress has a lengthy history of laundering Russian dirty monies which had supposedly been corrected. However, a 2/2/17 EUobserver article by Andrew Rettman reports the following:
“Pieter Omtzigt, from the christian-democrat CDA party, put forward the criticism in a letter, on Saturday (January 30, 2017), to a financial crimes unit in The Council of Europe in Strasbourg.”
“Recent developments in Cyprus in relation to the Magnitsky case have shown the failure of Cyprus to apply money laundering legislation in practice,” he said.”
“This case is a litmus test for whether Cyprus is now really paying attention to proper controls or whether it is only paying lip service to recommendations.”
8.) In addition, the reason that the highly esteemed US prosecutor, Preet Bharara may have been fired by the White House in March 2017 after he had been promised he could continue in his position under the Trump administration, was because he had been in charge of pursuing a legal case against the Deutsche Bank for its Russian money laundering schemes.
9.) And he also may have been fired because of a case involving the 2012 Magnitsky Act. In 2013, Mr. Bharara announced he would indict 11 companies, lead by a corrupt Russian bank named Prevezon, that was involved in Magnitsky’s investigation and part of the scheme to launder $230 million in Russia. These companies fought the legal charges for years with a team that included Natalia Veselnitskaya and thanks to their legal maneuvers, the trial date was delayed to the summer of 2017 when it was settled for pennies on the dollar.
10.) All of the above does not include a myriad of other signs, like the president’s consistent and frequent favorable rhetoric towards Russia, during his campaign and administration; the watering down of the July 2016 republican platform wording pertaining to the arming of Ukrainian citizens, consistent with Russia’s own internal policy; the numerous contacts by the president’s surrogates with Russian officials which were admitted to/ recalled only after media exposure. Then there was the June 9, 2016 Trump Towers controversial meeting, attended by the Russian attorney representing Prevezon and who had a history of advocating for the lifting of 2012 sanctions against Russia based on the Magnitsky Act along with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and the then president’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Details of Russia’s spycraft…
On 1/2/15, Edward Lucas of The American Interest.penned an opinion piece for the website “StopFake.org, ‘Russia’s Sub Rosa Statecraft.”
“Western countries habitually underestimate the capabilities of the Russian intelligence services. These are indeed wasteful, corrupt, bureaucratic, nepotistic, and blinkered. But they have some big advantages. For a start, their top priority is subverting and penetrating Western societies. The reverse is not the case: It is not the West’s top priority either to penetrate Russia or to prevent Russia from penetrating it.”
“Russian espionage operates on different principles. The agencies there spend large amounts of time and money building up long-term assets, with little concern for an immediate payoff. If you recruit a bright Danish student, it may be twenty years before he becomes useful. But when he does, the consequences will be devastating. Russia is also far better at operating what in espionage parlance are known as “false flag” operations, in which the target is recruited under the guise of a different cause, perhaps involving environmentalism or digital freedom.”
“Abundant resources and ruthless ingenuity mean that the Russian espionage adversary is a shape-shifter: In one manifestation it may be a legitimate-seeming energy company, then a curious student apparently from a NATO country, then a jovial official from the Russian embassy, then a supposedly independent charitable outfit offering a large donation to anyone who conducts the right research, then a hard-working secretary, then a Portuguese business consultant. This gives Russia what American intelligence theorists call “natural capacity”: the ability to operate in the guise of a legitimate business or organization. For Western intelligence agencies, this involves formidable legal and bureaucratic obstacles. Russia adopts it without a qualm.”
“For more than twenty years, the West has tried to integrate Russia—diplomatically, financially, economically, and institutionally. True, Western policymakers have accepted (belatedly in many cases) that Russia is an authoritarian kleptocracy. True, many also accept (reluctantly and tentatively in many cases) that it is a revanchist power that menaces its neighbors. But few are willing to accept the seriousness of the threat and give it the priority it deserves. These days it is one threat among many.”
This blog was updated on 12/29/17.