Russiagate Open Thread: Roger Stone, Back in the Spotlight

Happy Father’s Day, ya mutha– !

MIAMI — One day in late May 2016, Roger Stone — the political dark sorcerer and longtime confidant of Donald Trump — slipped into his Jaguar and headed out to meet a man with a “Make America Great Again” hat and a viscous Russian accent.

The man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, according to Stone, who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said.

“You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer at a restaurant in the Russian-expat magnet of Sunny Isles, Fla. “He doesn’t pay for anything.”

Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who’d arranged the meeting after Greenberg had approached Caputo’s Russian-immigrant business partner.

“How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo wrote, according to a text message reviewed by The Post. Noting that Greenberg wanted “big” money, Stone replied, “waste of time.”

Two years later, the brief sit-down in Florida has resurfaced as part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s sprawling investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Caputo. Caputo said he was asked about the meeting by prosecutors during a sometimes-heated questioning session last month.

Stone and Caputo, who did not previously disclose the meeting to congressional investigators, now say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump.

They cite records — independently examined by The Post — showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant.

Interviews and additional documents show that Greenberg has at times used the name Henry Oknyansky. Under that name, he claimed in a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status that he had provided information to the FBI for 17 years. He attached records showing that the government had granted him special permission to enter the United States because his presence represented a “significant public benefit.”

There is no evidence that Greenberg was working with the FBI in his interactions with Stone, and in his court filing, Greenberg said he had stopped his FBI cooperation sometime after 2013.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mueller’s office.

The meeting took place two months earlier than federal officials have said a counterintelligence operation was officially opened and before WikiLeaks began releasing hacked Democratic emails…

There were so many Russian assets falling out of the trees, looking to help us! Who can remember every single dodgy contact among them?!?

Yes, I’m looking forward to Adam’s thoughts on this revelation, too.

At least Rudy isn’t far enough gone that he tries to claim Stone was just some short-term volunteer who’d barely even met the candidate… yet:



Rainy Sunday (Open Thread)

Subtropical Storm Alberto is parked to our west. My whole house is a mudroom now, and we haven’t had the worst of the rain yet. But aside from floors that need mopping (fully clothed, if you please), we don’t expect too much trouble from Alberto, which looks like it will skirt the coast on its way north. Stay safe if you’re in the path!

CNN’s top story is about Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, a young woman from Guatemala who was shot in the head by a US Border Patrol agent. Right after I read the account of her death and was filled anew with horror and despair about what this country has become, I wandered over to Twitter and saw the following from Trump:

He’s not talking about the 20-year-old from Guatemala who had hoped to further her education in accounting. He means people like Hope Hicks, who was inconvenienced by having to testify about her boss’s lies and erratic behavior. He means folks like the aide who had to leave when it was revealed he was a serial domestic abuser.

Ugh. Sorry to spoil an open thread with news of that odious asshole’s contemptible blather. But the endless atrocities — like the shooting of the unarmed migrant, missing children, separated families, mass school shootings, murdered young black men — and a lawless administration that is hell-bent on making it worse, make me wonder when enough will be goddamn well enough. And what actions a citizen can take beyond registering new voters. I keep coming back to this quote from Mario Savio:

Still figuring out what that means for me. And on that cheery note, open thread!

[Edited to fix typo]



Flip a Coin

If you want an expert’s insights on the issue of North Korea’s nukes, head over to CNN and read a piece featuring our own Cheryl Rofer. All I’ve got is something deeply weird and worrisome about the upcoming summit; the Trump White House issued a commemorative coin for it:

Kim Jong-Un’s PR shop must be stoked — what could signal Kim’s arrival as a legitimate player on the world stage more effectively than the U.S. president pairing his own image with Kim’s as an equal? Oh, right — nuclear weaponry.

This premature victory lap is disturbing on so many levels. From The Guardian:

Trump has reportedly been focusing on the pageantry of the summit rather than immersing himself in detailed briefings on the complex issue of North Korea’s nuclear program. He has been particularly interested in suspense-filled announcements that could come out of the meeting, according to the Associated Press.

Of course Trump has focused on the show biz angle — that’s who he is. But Trump is also a vengeful bully who is likely to go apeshit when he doesn’t get what he wants. And he’ll have Bolton whispering in his ear on the long plane ride home.

I don’t think anyone’s gonna win this coin toss.



Every Day Is Opposite Day

In the run up to the 2016 election, the FBI did indeed give one campaign special treatment: Its director, James Comey, publicly trashed Hillary Clinton at the conclusion of the bureau’s investigation into how Clinton handled emails as secretary of state and precipitously and needlessly revealed that the investigation had been reopened in the final days of the campaign. The FBI remained silent about the far more serious and substantial allegations that the Trump campaign had been infiltrated by figures acting on behalf of a hostile foreign power.

Now, the beneficiary of that special treatment is waging all-out war on the FBI and his own Department of Justice, which appears to be intimidated enough to roll over and piddle on its own belly.

During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump loudly complained about corruption in Washington DC and endlessly invoked the specter of the “forgotten men and women” who were getting ripped off by elites.

Now, Trump has installed a breathtakingly corrupt cabinet and auctioned off U.S. foreign policy for the financial benefit of himself and his family members. A Trump-installed Supreme Court justice just wrote the majority opinion on a decision that allows companies to force workers into individual arbitration rather than pursuing class action lawsuits.

Some days, I think the Trump junta won’t get away with its many crimes. Other days, I think maybe they will. In the morning thread, Kay said we keep breaking through institutional safety nets, and the last one is the vote. She’s right. If we don’t roll these bastards back hard in November, they’ll cut enough holes in that final safety net to destroy it too. Fellow citizens, I think 2018 is our last shot.



GOP Miscreants Open Thread: I’m Not Alone…


 
What a fitting metaphor! Perhaps some of you will also take pleasure in the hope that Roger Stone’s time in the barrel has come?

The subpoena was recently served on John Kakanis, 30, who has worked as a driver, accountant and operative for Stone.

Kakanis has been briefly questioned by the FBI on the topics of possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the WikiLeaks website, its founder Julian Assange, and the hacker or hackers who call themselves Guccifer 2.0, one of the people with knowledge of the matter said.

Mueller has not scheduled a grand jury appearance for Kakanis, the person said…

In an emailed statement to Reuters on Friday, Stone said he believed that Mueller’s scrutiny on him stemmed from “misapprehensions and misconceptions” created by the media, and that he would ultimately be exonerated of any alleged wrongdoing.

“I sincerely hope when this occurs that the grotesque, defamatory media campaign which I have endured for years now will finally come to its long-overdue end,” wrote Stone, one of Trump’s closest political advisers in the years before he ran for president.

During the 2016 Republican primaries, a Stone political action committee paid more than $130,000 to an entity called “Citroen Associates” for “voter fraud research and documentation” and “research services consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Florida state records identify the owner of Citroen Associates as John P. Kakanis.

The subpoena handed to Kakanis is the latest development suggesting that Stone, an early Trump backer whose reputation as an aggressive political operative dates back to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, is being looked at by Mueller.

Reuters reported earlier this week that FBI agents working for Mueller delivered two subpoenas to Jason Sullivan, a social media and Twitter expert who worked for Stone during the 2016 campaign, and that agents told him Mueller’s team wanted to question him about Stone and WikiLeaks…

Other Trump associates who have been questioned by Mueller, including former campaign advisors Sam Nunberg and Michael Caputo, have also been asked about Stone and WikiLeaks.

“They asked me about Roger’s businesses – who he worked with prior to the 2016 election. They asked me about Roger’s tax returns,” Nunberg said in a phone interview earlier this week, adding that he believed Mueller was stepping outside his mandate in casting such a wide net around Stone’s activities.

The irony is, the better Stone disciples Kakanis and Sullivan are, the more swiftly they’ll turn on their mentor (and their fellows). If Roger and his Nixon tattoo end up in a cell because some low-ranking minion trades their freedom for his, the poetic justice alone might cause him to stroke out. And if — this is just daydreaming, on my part — if exposing Stone’s rotten Trump dealings should happen to officially unmask some of the other beneficiaries of a 40-year history of GOP ratfvckery, he might not be the only one…



Pence in Suspense

Dense Pence, who will never be asked to bring the potato salad to the Mensa picnic, declines to follow Trump’s lead and dismiss the Mueller investigation as a “hoax,” but “respectfully” requests that Mueller’s team wrap it up for “the good of the country.”

In your dreams, you beady-eyed, hypocritical, Bible-humping traitor. “Woke” George Will in The Post:

Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.

Not sure I concur with Will’s assertion that Pence has eclipsed Trump in sheer repulsiveness, but Will makes a good point about what Pence’s servility says about today’s Republican Party.

Anyhoo, as we should always remember when Pence emerges from an undisclosed location to burble about the investigation, Manafort, whose every move was designed to extract money from Russian oligarchs, urged Trump to choose Pence as VP, and Pence oversaw the transition, in which an unregistered foreign agent who has since acknowledged lying to the FBI was installed as National Security Adviser — in the face of warnings from the acting AG. Pence is every bit as dirty as Trump.

It’s also worth putting the Mueller investigation in context:

Benghazi, 4 years, 0 indictments

Clinton emails, 2 years, 0 indictments

Russia collusion, 14 months, 23 indictments

Scoreboard, mofos. And tickety-fucking-tock.



Repub Stupidity Open Thread: “These aren’t very bright guys, and things got out of hand.”


 
Manny is not only a more plausible liar than Michael Cohen, he’s probably smarter.

Michael Cohen, c’mon down!