Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The remarkable rise of Michael Avenatti

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  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Oh yeah, forgot that. Interesting that the result was obtained via "United Nations Security Council Resolution 418 of 4 November 1977 introduced a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa, also requiring all states to refrain from "any co-operation with South Africa in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons"."

    Presumably this strategy didn't work with N Korea due to Chinese opposition, but maybe China threatening that strategy recently in behind the scenes diplomacy was what got the shift happening.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    ...maybe China threatening that strategy recently in behind the scenes diplomacy was what got the shift happening.

    That would depend on what you believe is really happening. As a number of commentators have noted, North Korea will be well aware of the example of what happened to Gaddafi once he renounced his rogue state ambitions.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4570 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You mean, no actual evidence apart from women's sworn statements, the original NDA – and whatever the FBI and the US Attorney in New York have obtained from months of surveillance of Cohen and the recent seizure of all his files?

    But, I keep thinking, what does all this who-slept-with-who have to do with his ability to run the country and effect much needed change?

    If his ongoing presidency is based on obtaining proof as to whether he is or is not a liar and a cheat of a husband ... well, JFK comes to mind.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 777 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    There is a fascinating series on the 1970s on Prime TV at the moment.

    Was that the series on the Vietnam War?

    It was excellent. Plenty of TV clips of various POTUS' telling bare-faced lies straight down the camera. That office has made an occupation of how to be a lying toad.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 777 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    But, I keep thinking, what does all this who-slept-with-who have to do with his ability to run the country and effect much needed change?

    If his ongoing presidency is based on obtaining proof as to whether he is or is not a liar and a cheat of a husband ... well, JFK comes to mind.

    The issue is not who Trump slept with, but how and why he covered it up. The affairs and Cohen's role in them may serve as a gateway into Cohen's information, but they are not what's at stake, at least according to the reports around the obtaining of the search warrant for Cohen's office and home. It appears that there are serious business issues that Cohen has to answer for, which may be leverage to get him to turn on Trump.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    That would depend on what you believe is really happening. As a number of commentators have noted, North Korea will be well aware of the example of what happened to Gaddafi once he renounced his rogue state ambitions.

    As one commentator observes in the New York Times' latest report, it's Kim who's running things here, it's his show. Trump's threats and whatever's China's doing in the background will have played a part, but it's his show – and so far he's getting all his meetings without actually giving up anything.

    Don't get me wrong, it's way better than a belligerent North Korea, but there is a complicated history here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This is good from Patrick Thomsen: It's time to centre Koreans in our analyses of the Korean peace process

    South Koreans are well-aware of the slippery nature of DPRK diplomacy. Since I've been here, North Korea has sunk navy ships, shelled South Korean islands (both leading to significant loss of life) and threatened to reduce Seoul to a sea of fire. Not once though have South Koreans pushed for war. Korea's social, political, historical and cultural context is unique, and as such should no longer be ignored in our analyses. Now is the time for a diverse set of Korean voices to be listened to.

    Trump has already been quick to claim this as a victory for his foreign policy on Twitter, however, the real trump card has been Moon Jae-In, who swept to power last year after President Park Geun-Hye (daughter of former military dictator Park Chunghee) was removed from office (and thrown into jail). He campaigned on a platform that promised to bring a softer approach to the DPRK and so far, has been running that script without any hitches.

    What the US can take credit for is Trump's bamboozling tweet-storms that makes it seem like he wants to isolate the US from its allies like South Korea, making urgent the need for the Koreas to put their differences aside and solve this issue on their terms. One of the most significant statements that the Panmunjom declaration made was that from now on, Koreans would work together to take charge of the affairs of the Korean peninsula.

    Western analysts should take this statement more seriously.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    As one commentator observes in the New York Times’ latest report, it’s Kim who’s running things here, it’s his show.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7704 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    One significant factor we know very little about is the regime’s internal dynamics. KJU is performing to two audiences - those outside NJ and those within the regime. He maintains power like any dictator - playing any potential opponents off and killing anyone who poses any threat. That creates a lot of enemies.

    The nuclear program was part of his strategy for remaining in power and staying alive. What he’s doing now will be an extention of that in some manner.

    His biggest threat has always been from those closest to him, not the US.

    Since Nov 2016 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Today's David Rowe: Ditto Dotard.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4570 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to nzlemming,

    The issue is not who Trump slept with, but how and why he covered it up. The affairs and Cohen’s role in them may serve as a gateway into Cohen’s information, but they are not what’s at stake, at least according to the reports around the obtaining of the search warrant for Cohen’s office and home. It appears that there are serious business issues that Cohen has to answer for, which may be leverage to get him to turn on Trump.

    I thought the actual legal issue was the 130k given to Daniels should have been part of Trump’s campaign costs and declared as such? It is a ridiculously trumped-up charge to persue the president on given the miasma of millions and millions of dirty and corrupt dollars that hangs around US politics these days, but such is the detached, Byzantine fantasyland the US establishment lives in nowadays.

    Otherwise, I find the idea that a prosecutor may use one piece of information to blackmail someones lawyer into letting him go on a fishing expedition to see what he may find that is in any way illegal exceedingly troubling. The Clinton’s were dogged by the Whitewater investigation for years, and the GOP were rightly condemned for their enthusiasm for that witch hunt and their subsequent incessant investigations of Hillary Clinton. If anything goes, I guess the US presidency will from now on be conducted against a background of theatrical judicial farce of investigation after investigation.

    The use of politicized judicial processes to hound your opponents and re-litigate electoral outcomes you don’t like might now be business as usual now in the USA, but it just adds to the perceptions that much of what is reported in the MSM is fake news.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2193 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I thought the actual legal issue was the 130k given to Daniels should have been part of Trump’s campaign costs and declared as such?

    That's what was covered up. Do keep up, Tom.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Well in that case they are on a hiding to nothing.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2193 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    That cartoon captured the interpersonal mutuality of style well. Thomsen's piece has one notable reference to "international relations experts, whose discipline unashamedly admits that it believes cultural context doesn't matter." Anyone who thinks cultural context doesn't matter is so obviously a fool as to mask the fact that most i/r experts are top academics.

    All meaning is relative to context. Identity derives therefrom. For instance, we got taught in college physics that the electron has the nature of a particle in some experiments and the nature of a wave in others, then had to replicate those discoveries ourselves to prove it. If the Chinese govt suggested to the Koreans that they use their synthesis of socialism & capitalism as a model, and if re-unification proceeds on that basis, it will play out differently in the different cultural contexts of North and South...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The use of politicized judicial processes to hound your opponents and re-litigate electoral outcomes you don’t like might now be business as usual now in the USA, but it just adds to the perceptions that much of what is reported in the MSM is fake news.

    Mueller is a Republican, appointed by a Republican, currently investigating a Republican administration.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2723 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    All meaning is relative to context. Identity derives therefrom. For instance, we got taught in college physics that the electron has the nature of a particle in some experiments and the nature of a wave in others, then had to replicate those discoveries ourselves to prove it.

    So like me, you didn’t get a faith based indoctrination/education, unlike huge other chunks of the worlds population.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4005 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to steven crawford,

    Yes & no. I was brainwashed by christians until age 13.5, when I told my mother I was never gonna go back to church or sunday school. To my eternal surprise, the usual thrashing from my father didn't happen. Transcendence was the result.

    I suspect faith in something is a psychological necessity for most humans. Where you're right is in regard to religion. Spirituality is personal, religion is social (social conformity, from Latin religare = to bind, from memory). I'd say Trump has more faith in himself, and in enterprise culture, than anything else. I doubt any christian affiliation is more than lip service or political convenience.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    The new US Secretary of state has faith (in Jesus). He was sworn in Monday of last week. Tillerson's resignation took effect the first day of Easter, so Pompeo was in North Korea negotiating with the Supreme Leader during Easter weekend as acting-secretary. Pompeo's career path was West Point graduate, five years in the army, Harvard Law School graduate, congressman, CIA Director.

    Campaign funding from Koch, according to his Wikipedia page. He's a member of the Tea Party. Told his presbyterian church in a speech that politics is "a never-ending struggle … until the rapture." Hope he passed that bit of good news on to the Supreme Leader (could be why the guy was smiling so much). Anyway, you can see why some Democrat senators voted to confirm him, eh?

    Trump probably now has faith in the Nobel Committee. On One News tonight Simon Dallow told us that Trump's Nobel is looking likelier - citing the South Korean President. “I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I’d like to thank him for that,” Moon said at a news conference in Seoul.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 176 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7704 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Holy shitballs! Rudy Giuliani went on Hannity and admitted that a) Trump knew about the Stormey Daniels payoff and b) paid Cohen back, in installments of $35K per month as a retainer after the election (which makes no fucking sense as a repayment of debt is not a retainer). Take shotgun and apply to foot. Avenatti says he's speechless, and then goes on to show he's far from it ;-)

    Trump confirmed it in tweets. They reckon there is no campaign finance violation because it was Trump's money and the candidate is allowed to put in as much of his own money as he likes. Several commentators disagree (as do I but IANAL), especially as the repayment occurred after the election. Unless Trump and Cohen have a document in place (yeah, right) showing an agreement for a retainer, SDNY prosecutors are going to walk through this like tissue paper. Avenatti also points to the lie Trump told on Air Force One which was reinforced by Huckabee Sanders that Trump knew nothing of the payment.

    This is what happens when you have a publicity-hungry clown of a lawyer representing an even more publicity-hungry clown of a client. I'm sure they both think this is a stroke of genius, but they've just blown up the putative defence that Down and Cobb had constructed, that the President didn't know anything.

    In other news, Ty Cobb is out of the team, and Emmett Flood, who represented Bill Clinton, and worked in GW Bush's White House Counsel's office, is in. BUT he is part of the White House Counsel's Office again, and therefore the the Administration's attorney, not Trump's. Several legal commentators have noted that this may mean that client-attorney privilege may not apply between Trump and Flood, and that this may also apply to Cobb and any meetings Cobb was part of should Robert Mueller decide to subpoena him.

    You can't write this shit. It's like Game of Thrones performed by the Keystone Cops.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2893 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From the Above the Law legal website:

    The problem is that NOTHING Giuliani said actually inoculates Trump or Cohen from any possible campaign finance violation. Giuliani can say that “it’s not campaign money,” but that’s Rudy being worried about the entirely wrong thing. If Cohen made the payment, then that could be viewed as a campaign contribution. Paying somebody back for campaign contributions doesn’t… unmake the violation. Did Michael Cohen give Trump a personal loan? Was he paid back with interest? Just because Trump can donate as much of his own money to his campaign doesn’t mean Michael Cohen can.

    Giuliani also said that Trump paid Cohen back over time, which could be a whole other ball of trouble for Trump. Was he, for instance, still paying Cohen off — sorry, “back,” — after it became clear that the F.B.I. was looking into Cohen? Was Trump… structuring the payments to avoid reporting requirements? Giuliani was not speaking with the discretion necessary of a defense lawyer who is going to risk going on television.

    And for good measure, Giuliani ALSO said that Trump fired James Comey because Comey would not publicly say that Trump was not a target of the F.B.I. investigation. … Which sounds MORE like obstruction of justice than ever before.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And fresh from NBC:

    Federal investigators have wiretapped the phone lines of Michael Cohen, the longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump who is under investigation for a payment he made to an adult film star who alleged she had an affair with Trump, according to two people with knowledge of the legal proceedings involving Cohen.

    It is not clear how long the wiretap has been authorized, but NBC News has learned it was in place in the weeks leading up to the raids on Cohen's offices, hotel room, and home in early April, according to one person with direct knowledge.

    At least one phone call between a phone line associated with Cohen and the White House was intercepted, the person said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And an unnamed legal expert on TPM:

    Trump is a major real estate developer in NY who has openly bragged about his ability to cut through red tape and get politicians in his pocket. We now have serious SDNY public corruption prosecutors and FBI agents in possession of a massive amount of electronic data from his bagman. They likely already have all of his financial records as well. And Rudy has now given them the roadmap for how Trump may have laundered bribes through Cohen as purported legal fees or retainer payments. Every invoice Cohen has ever issued to Trump is suspect. Every corrupt payment Cohen has ever made or facilitated to building inspectors, councilmen, pornstars, or whomever can potentially be tied back to Trump. In addition, I suspect Trump and his kids had a false sense of comfort that their communications with Cohen would be privileged. I am convinced this is why Trump and his family are freaking out about the Cohen raid and the possibility he could flip. The SDNY is sitting on the mother lode of evidence and Rudy has given them the connection between purported legal fees and payments by Cohen to third parties.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I saw that and had to look up SDNY. I'd say someone is going down, just a question of who wriggles free.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19518 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    After wasting too much time reading Trump related stories for the past year or more, I get the feeling that the end game has finally begun. It's like the best of Breaking Bad and Law & Order wrapped into one, with less believable characters, of course. Future historians are going to have a field day with this sloppy lot.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1342 posts Report Reply

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