Russiagate Open Thread: Late Friday News Drop…

Judge Ellis let the Manafort jurors go home at 5pm, because one of them had an evening engagement…


 
Meanwhile, looks like this is the next guy up:

The Justice Department is investigating whether longtime Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration by offering to deliver U.S. government actions for foreign officials in exchange for tens of millions of dollars, according to three people familiar with the probe.

As part of the investigation, prosecutors are scrutinizing a plan that Broidy allegedly developed to try to persuade the Trump government to extradite a Chinese dissident back to his home country, a move sought by Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to two of the people.

They are also investigating claims that Broidy sought $75 million from a Malaysian business official if the Justice Department ended its investigation of a development fund run by the Malaysian government. The Malaysian probe has examined the role of the former prime minister in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the fund…

As part of their efforts, prosecutors have subpoenaed casino magnate Steve Wynn, the former RNC finance chairman and longtime Trump friend, for copies of records and communications related to Broidy.

An attorney for Wynn, Reid Weingarten, declined to comment, saying only that Wynn is cooperating with the Justice Department.

“Steve Wynn is completely cooperating with the investigation and he certainly has no reason to believe that anyone acted improperly in anything he knew about or was involved in,” Weingarten said in a statement…

Yes, these links have been reported before (read the whole thing!), but if the Justice Department is officially looking into the details of transactions between high-ranking Chinese officials, Malaysian businessmen with grift-friendly reputations, and big-time American casino operators looking to set up business in Hong Kong / Singapore / Shanghai… things are about to get UUUUUUGHHLY.

(And that’s not even considering the Saudi finance connection, FWIW.)



Friday Evening Open Thread: SPACE FORCE! Forces Space!

Riveted by the sociological significance of it all…

Per the Hill:

VoteVets, an organization that focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf veterans and their families, said on Twitter that it has submitted a Letter of Intent with Washington, D.C., to hold the race around the National Mall next year.

The announcement came the same day Trump canceled his plans for a military parade in the capital, citing its soaring cost estimates.

“So, unless he kicks out a veterans race, [Trump] will not get his ego parade there, on that day next year, either,” the organization added in the tweet, with the hashtag #NoTrumpParade…

In an email asking for signatures to support their request, the organization also said that it decided to make the race five kilometers long to symbolize “each of [Trump’s] deferments.”…

Their statement arrives on the heels of Trump’s Twitter announcement on Friday morning that he was canceling plans for a military parade over the estimated $92 million cost.

The president said in his tweet that “local politicians” in D.C. were to blame.

“The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up! I will instead attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date, & go to the Paris parade, celebrating the end of the War, on November 11th,” Trump wrote…



Russiagate Open Thread: The Manafort Jury Is Out


 
Who’s betting on a particularly busy / toxic Friday News Dump?…



Dark Hours Open Thread: Is Julian Assange “the Left” Version of Donald Trump?

Were “we” so enamored with our “core virtues” of transparency and populism that a professional narcissist could manage the supreme coup of his serial grifting career? Does Julian Assange have the true Reverse-Midas everything he touches dies… gift?

Gareth Corfield, at The Register (“biting the hand that feeds IT”):

The director of whistleblower support outfit the Courage Foundation has quit after being told to pull support from Barrett Brown following some barbed comments he made about Julian Assange.

Naomi Colvin walked out of the foundation after “three of Courage’s trustees wrote to me demanding that I inform Barrett Brown that he could no longer be a Courage beneficiary, on the basis of ‘nasty adversarial remarks’ about WikiLeaks,” she wrote in a blog post.

Courage works by picking people in legal trouble who it deems worthy of support and then giving them help in a variety of ways, including financially. Those eight “beneficiaries”, as Courage calls them, include Anonymous-linked FBI-baiter Barrett Brown and everyone’s go-to website for Russian-influenced propaganda the embarrassing contents of American governmental messages, Wikileaks.

Nonetheless, Brown’s growing antipathy towards Assange/Wikileaks as the increasingly isolated Wikileaker goes steadily more stir crazy in Ecuador’s London embassy earned him Assange’s ire. So it was that Colvin received missives from Courage trustees ordering her to cut Brown loose, something she would not do…

Courage’s trustees are named on its website as: Assange himself; legal activist Barbara Bukovska; left-wing activist and film-maker John Pilger; Spanish human rights lawyer Renata Avila; Scottish arts organiser Susan Benn; and clothes designer Vivienne Westwood, who modestly bills herself as “co-created punk in the 70s”.

Colvin declined to name the three who demanded she pull the foundation’s support from Brown…

Spencer Ackermann, at the Daily Beast (see tweet at top):

Brown told The Daily Beast: “I’m afraid I cannot agree with the stance, presented by the Courage board to me yesterday via a poorly written email, that I am somehow obligated to not only defend Assange’s rights, as I’m happy to do, but also to refrain from speaking out about the problems facing a movement that I risked a hundred years of prison time in order to defend.”

The short-term result of Assange’s behavior may be to consolidate control over Courage. But it has come at the expense of broken ties with two heavily respected and influential figures within the hacktivist circles from which Assange emerged. At this point, it leaves Assange with more solid support from the extreme right and its media organs than from his original community…

Colvin’s departure from Courage is especially ironic for Assange and speaks to the botched manner in which his allies retaliated against Brown. Colvin led and recently won a fight to prevent the U.K. from extraditing the computer scientist and activist Lauri Love to the United States to face hacking charges. With Assange ostensibly fearing his own prospective extradition, his desire to silence Brown has cost him a key legal asset…



Late Night QFT Open Thread: “Trump’s GOP, Party of Corruption”

Tina Nguyen, at Vanity Fair“In the witch-hunt era, a criminal indictment has become a mark of pride for Republicans”:

If there’s anyone who can sympathize with Rep. Chris Collins, the first congressman to support Donald Trump, who is currently facing indictment for insider trading, it’s Michael Grimm. “He’s going to have a really, really difficult emotional time,” the retired Republican congressman, who was himself indicted on 20 counts of various crimes, told The New York Times on Thursday, when asked what he’d say to Collins. “He’s going to have to swallow every bit of it. And smile.” He went on, “Washington, as long as you’re riding high, they want to be your friend. And when you’re not, they don’t want to be anywhere near you. . . . And whether he knows it or not, a lot of Washington is going to look at him as a pariah.”

They might also look at him as unelectable, a realistic concern in a potential wave election that threatens to wipe out the Republican hold on Congress, particularly if Collins refuses to bow out of the race. But fear not, Grimm said—he himself had done what Collins aspires to do, running for re-election under indictment in 2012, and winning…“If I were him, I would double down on the president needing us,” Grimm suggested….

But could anyone in the Serious Grown-Up Business-Friendly Party actually defend stock market fraud?

Heeerrre comes MCARGLEBARGLE!

To be fair — to the Washington Post, who paid her this time — McArdle eventually gets around to explaining that, well, insider trading might be offensive, but it’s really all the fault of Government Overregulation:

It’s surprisingly hard to pin down an actual harm from insider trading. And yet we have a stubborn intuition that it ought to be illegal because it just doesn’t seem fair. That’s a reasonable response: Insiders such as the sons of congressmen and board members should have to take the same losses as anyone else on speculative investments.

There is no evident problem with confidence in the markets today, but there is an obvious problem with confidence in our institutions. That’s the harm of insider trading — and all sorts of other self-dealing, self-interested practices by networks of folks with cultural, economic or political power. Occupational licensing, building restrictions that make it impossible for disadvantaged families to gain access to better schools, professional networks and degree requirements that help “people like us” climb the ladder into the best jobs — all of these look, from the outside, like more insider trading. They’re also often defended by people who regard the allegations against Chris Collins with horror…

Look, regulations only serve to encourage law-breaking, knowhutimean? As J.P. Morgan said, during our first Gilded Age, “Anything not nailed down is mine. Anything I can pry loose, was not nailed down.” It’s not the plundering, it’s the nails!



Our Failed Meritocracy / Media: “OMGarosa!!!

(This was scheduled to pop up at 10am this morning, but FYWP… )


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Sunday Evening Open Thread: It’s All Fun & Games…