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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wouldn't It Be More Surprising if Trump's Lawyer WEREN'T Tied to the Kremlin?

Back in December, a friend of mine who is very informed about the business world as seen through the lens of the financial press lauded Trump's appointment of Tillerson as Secretary of State as a shrewd move. He thought that Tillerson was a great pick because his background gives him an understanding of dealing with world affairs among the wealth and powerful. I asked him, "But don't you think it demonstrates how Trump is in the pocket of Vladimir Putin?"

He answered, "I think it's the exact move Trump would make if he were SO clean of Russian ties that he was baiting people into looking deeper, finding nothing, and thus shutting them up."

In one of the few times I've been right about anything in politics in the last year (seriously, do NOT take any of my posts to Vegas), I told him that I was iffy at best about the appointment; Tillerson would be a disaster because of his lack of government experience and that I was pretty sure that he was a selection made to please Putin.

A few weeks later, after Tillerson didn't allow the press on his trip to Europe and #TrumpRussia started to become obvious to everyone, my friend said, "Uh, yeah, I guess you were right about Tillerson."

So it's not a shocker that Trump's #TrumpRussia defense lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, aside from being a nutbag, also has Russian links:

The hard-charging New York lawyer President Trump chose to represent him in the Russia investigation has prominent clients with ties to the Kremlin, a striking pick for a president trying to escape the persistent cloud that has trailed his administration.
Marc E. Kasowitz’s clients include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to President Vladimir Putin and has done business with Trump’s former campaign manager. Kasowitz also represents Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, U.S. court records show.

The firm isn't doing a great job of hiding it::

Kasowitz has represented one of Deripaska’s companies for years in a civil lawsuit in New York and was scheduled to argue on the company’s behalf May 25, two days after news broke that Trump had hired him, court records show. A different lawyer in Kasowitz’s firm showed up in court instead, avoiding a scenario that would have highlighted Kasowitz’s extensive work for high-profile Russian clients.

Deripaska isn't just any Russian oligarch; Paul Manafort was on his payroll:

Deripaska has said congressional investigators have contacted his attorneys seeking information about his business dealings with Paul Manafort, a Trump campaign manager during the presidential campaign. More than a decade ago, Deripaska invested in a fund that Manafort set up in the Cayman Islands that bought assets primarily in Ukraine.
The Associated Press reported in March that Manafort “secretly worked for” Deripaska as far back as 2006 to influence politics and business dealings inside the United States to benefit Putin’s government. Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006 and maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, the AP reported. 

The same names come up over and over.

Deripaska has denied the report, and he sued the AP for libel last month. Deripaska said he “never had any arrangement, whether contractual or otherwise, with Mr. Manafort to advance the interests of the Russian government,” according to the lawsuit. In newspaper ads taken out after the AP story, he said, “I want to resolutely deny this malicious assertion and lie.”

Bless your heart, Oleg.

These Russian oligarchs all got where they are by being above board and innocent and it's the evil Associated Press that's persecuting them.

Speaking of the same names:

Former associates of Sberbank, the other Russia-tied Kasowitz client, also have come under scrutiny in media reports.
The bank’s former vice president, who is now chief executive of another Russian state-owned financial institution, Vnesheconombank, met with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, in December.
Kushner’s interactions with the Russian banker are a part of the FBI’s investigation into potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign team.

I remember that guy.

Gillers said Kasowitz’s firm should closely monitor potential conflicts. If one arises, the firm probably would have to drop one of its clients, he said.
A White House spokesman did not respond to requests for comment Friday. Michael J. Bowe, a partner at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, declined to say whether the firm had discussed the possibility of potential conflicts arising from its Russian clients. Bowe added that their representation of the Russian firms and Trump “are totally unrelated.”

When the term "totally unrelated" is used so many times in a context like #TrumpRussia, you can't help but start to think that it might mean the opposite.

Kasowitz also wrote a letter during the presidential campaign threatening to sue the New York Times for an article that said two women had accused Trump of touching them inappropriately. Kasowitz said at the time it was “nothing more than a politically motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.” No suit has been filed.

How about the other dozen women? Kasowitz is one of those guys that absolutely would defend Hitler to the hilt if the price was right. Which is what Trump needs, because Kasowitz appears to be one of the few lawyers willing to defend Trump on this despite the fact that the price is probably basically limitless. This means one or more of a few things:

  • Trump is such a horrendous client no one wants to work with him. We know that to be true.
  • Trump is so obviously guilty that he's basically indefensible. Also apparently true.
  • Trump's whole operation is so entangled with Russia that it takes lawyers who are also so entangled with Russia to make any sense of this. Keep  in mind that Kasowitz isn't the first lawyer Trump has hired over the years with extensive Russian ties. Nor is he the second.

You don't hire mob lawyers unless you're working with the mob. Which, of course, Trump does too. And so does Deripaska, or at least a partisan Democratic body like the Bush DoJ believed he did:
In 2008, Forbes magazine listed Deripaska as the ninth-richest man in the world. In 2006, the United States revoked his visa to enter the country, citing possible ties to organized crime. He has denied those links, claiming the allegations are part of an effort to smear him.

Whatever, so Kasowitz's firm has one corrupt Russian client. That's not a pattern.

Kasowitz represents Sberbank in a 2016 lawsuit that is still in its preliminary stages. An owner of a Russian granite-mining business accuses the bank of conspiring with competitors to dismantle his company and seize its assets. The bank has not responded in court filings.
Sberbank was one of the sponsors of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow produced by Trump, who owned the competition. The deputy head of the bank at the time was Sergey Gorkov...


And Gorkov... where have I heard that name?

... who met with Kushner in December. Gorkov, a graduate of the academy of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the domestic successor of the former Soviet KGB intelligence bureau, was named to head VEB in February 2016.
VEB has maintained that Gorkov’s meeting with Kushner was part of a new business strategy and was conducted with Kushner in his role as the head of his family’s real estate business. The White House has said the meeting was unrelated to business and was one of many diplomatic encounters the soon-to-be presidential adviser was holding ahead of the inauguration. 

Once is a coincidence. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a coincidence. Four times is a coincidence. Five hundred times?

He's had practice, Glenn.

Trump's Golden shower challenge

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