Sunday, September 30, 2018

'Toontime: Hot Seat

credit: Dave Grunlund
Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein was supposed to meet with Mr. Yuge at the White House last week to discuss his provocative suggestions that candidates for the FBI director's job should be wired for sound, and that the incumbent be removed from office under the 25th Amendment.  But official Washington has difficulty focusing on more than one scandal at a time. The performance of Bret Kavanaugh and his accusers has taken the limelight.  Rosenstein's meeting was postponed by the White House to this week.

Meanwhile the investigation, in which thirty-seven persons have been charged in connection with the probe; eight have pleaded guilty; and six, including four Trump associates, have agreed to cooperate, has turned its attention to long-time Trump political ally Robert Stone.  He allegedly contacted WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange during a critical period in the 2016 campaign. Stone wrote an email in which he directed his associate Jerome Corsi to contact conservative author Ted Molloch in London and have him meet with Assange. WikiLeaks was the conduit for public release of the Democratic National Committee emails which US intelligence says was provided by Russian intelligence agents, code-named "Guccifer 2.0"

Michael Cohen, former legal fixer for Mr. Yuge, is voluntarily cooperating with Mueller's team and the New York attorney general's office. He was once the man who said he "would do anything to protect Mr. Trump". Trump supporters have turned on him, characterizing Cohen as a lying 'rat' according to ABC News.  Cohen has met multiple times with the Special Counsel's office. However, the state investigation is potentially more damaging to Trump than the federal probe of Russian "collusion" since it is focusing on financial crimes that may have been committed by the Trump Foundation. No presidential immunity from indictment for state criminal charges exists. Mr. Yuge is now surrounded by close, high-level witnesses--ranging from his chief financial officer, former campaign chairman to his former national security advisor--who are cooperating with state and federal investigators.

credit: Dave Granlund
BC Idonwana sez, Orange man lucky...just pies!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

COTW: A Dime's Difference

When public citizen Ralph Nader ran for President in 2008 he was quoted as saying "there is not "a dime's worth of difference" between the two major parties.  At the time this was a controversial position, but since then, one depression and several wars later, the American people have apparently come to agree with him:

But with a fake populist occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who has been implicated in significant crimes against democracy, the remaining political difference¹ between the two parties has this significance: only one party may be willing to impeach Mr. Yuge.  So the choice is clear: if you are a heretic who believes no person is above the law and the republic saved from a slow decent  into fascist totalitarianism, then the House of Representatives has to be brought under Democratic Party control.  It is there that Articles must be brought to a vote under the Constitution.

1. That is increasingly scarce. Just one example: the Pentagon's budget was recently passed in Congress with little dissent.  It is the largest military expenditure since the WWII, some $674 billion  A significant portion of the money will go to weapons developers.The Pentagon spent $8.2 billion on fossil fuels last year; it is the largest institutional consumer of planet-killing fuels in the world.  Medicare for all; too expensive!

***US Person wishes to explain to his readers that his lack of posts this week was due to an equipment failure and NOT lack of motivation.  There is always more high-impact blog at Person Non Grata***

Sunday, September 23, 2018

'Toontime: Dead Man Walking

credit: Kevin Sears

This week in the Russian Connection investigation was overshadowed by two developments in a city that thrives on scandal. The first is a repeat of the Anita Hill affair in which her allegations of sexual misconduct by the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas failed to derail his ascension to the high court. Hilll suffered a backlash from conservative supporters of Thomas hell-bent on insuring a conservative majority on the court. In the words of one inside observer she was made "to appear a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty". The FBI was pressured to find her allegations against the judge "unfounded". The latest female accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford, of a male Supreme Court nominee may suffer the same character trashing as her predecessor, but the conservative males who make up the majority in the Senate's kangaroo court will have to be more underhanded with their smear tactics. Times do change--but not so much.

Senate consent to the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh is tangential to the investigation of Trump's conspiring with Russian agents to influence the 2016 election, and his efforts to obstruct it. The campaign to dispose of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Robert Mueller's superior, is not. Enemies on the Hill have been trying for a year to fire him as part of their counter-offensive to derail the Special Counsel. The New York Times gave them more ammunition this Friday when it revealed that Rosenstein discussed utilizing the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. He even went as far as suggesting candidates for FBI Director James Comey's replacement could surreptitiously record their conversations with the President. More spectacularly, he claimed  he could enlist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, in an effort to remove Trump as mentally unfit for office.

His provocative suggestions were memorialized by then FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and his senior counsel, Lisa Page. Rosenstein was known to be livid with the President because he believed he was used by the White House to justify Comey's dismissal. Of course Rosenstein denies the Times story, but his denial is a "non-denial denial" of Watergate proportions. The scofflaw-in-chief never misses an opportunity to capitalize on a favorable media storm, either. He told political supporters that even the "lingering stench" emanating from an FBI out to get him will be removed. As the fomenter of a palace coup, Rosenstein's days in office may be numbered, but Mr. Yuge is still a dead man walking.

 credit: Steve Sack, Star Tribune
Wackydoodle axes: How do yo'al spell treason?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Traffic Noise May Kill Birds

outside his window
Ever awakened on a summer pre-dawn and noticed something missing?  The silence around you in the darkness is deafening.  You ask yourself, what am I missing? If you are an urbanized nature lover like US Person, the answer comes quickly to mind: the dawn chorus of birds chirping and singing outside your open window, greeting the sunrise.  Nature's chorus  has been noticeably reduced in volume to the point that its is now largely absent. The only sound you hear in the distance as the sun mounts the sky is the roar of the freeway jammed with commuters.

Conservation organizations like the Audubon Society have documented the steep decline in songbird numbers due to a combination of factors: predation, pollution, habitat loss, and development.  An estimated 10% of the national bird population dies in window collisions alone. Now, scientists have determined that traffic noise may cause birds to have shorter lives, consistent with previous studies showing that rural birds live longer than their urban neighbors.

in the neighborhood
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology studied the telomeres* of genes in the Australian zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). They found that telomeres in finches never exposed to traffic noise were longer than those of finches growing up with vehicular traffic. Dr Adriana Dorado-Correa, co-author of the study, said: “Our study suggests that urban noise alone, independent from the many other aspects of city life, such as light pollution or chemical pollution, is associated with increased telomere loss and may contribute to ageing in zebra finches".  Previous research has found birds sing differently in response to industrial or traffic noise, which potentially affects their ability to attract mates and defend their territory.  So the next time you wonder where have all the birds gone, now you have an answer.

*molecular caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect genes from damage.

COTW: Global Affair

US Person, aka "the communist" thinks globalization has not done much for the American worker.  This late-stage capitalist development has put him and her in direct competition with low wage workers around the world.  The IMF says it is often associated with widening economic inequality, putting more money into the pockets of the rich than into those of the poor.   This chart from the IMF shows that the countries benefiting most from globalization are those with less developed economies, such as Ethiopia on the left of the chart: 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Vicuñas Earn Better Treatment

This conservation success story comes from the high pampas of Peru, via  There, at attitudes of 13,000 feet or more, live the darling of the camelid family the vicuña, Vicugna vicugnanotices. These adorable animals are the smallest of the New World camelids, and their fur is the most precious.  So precious, that at one time it sold for $1000 a kilo causing US Person outrageously impractical dreams of opening a vicuna ranch in New Zealand with imported vicuña stock.  About 5,000 vicuñas now live in the Pampa Galeras National Reserve alone.  Throughout the Andes, about 200,000 still roam the wild.  This abundance was not always the case.  In the 60s only 5,000 lived in the entire country of Peru.  Vicuñas were hunted for their meat and their incredibly soft and warm fur.  The reserve was created to protect the remaining animals.

The insurgency fought by the Maoist group, Shinning Path, against the Peruvian government between 1980 and 1994 took a heavy toll on vicuñas and humans living in the Lucanas region.  In 1988 employees of Peru's third oldest reserve were evacuated and the main base shut.; When rangers were able to return, only half the vicuñas remained in the reserve.  Besides the dedication of the rangers to the vicuña's protection, a significant contributor to conservation success is the involvement of the local people who are allowed to harvest the valuable fur. Every year in the summer they conduct the traditional chaco, or round-up in which 500 vicuña are captured.  Only about 150 animals are selected for shearing because its takes two years for an animal to regrow its fine coat. The fur is highly prized in the garment industry for its extreme softness and insulation qualities. An Italian company that buys the CITIES-certified fur from the Lucanans can sell a bag of vicuña fur for $15,213. The fur industry employs about 200 local people.

Lucanas anxious;y awaits the "green seal" from National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP), which indicates their product is sustainable.  The award signifies that the community is a green conservation ally.  Incidentally the seal will allow the community to charge $100 more per kilo for their processed fur. Now that poaching has been substantially eliminated, there are other threats to the vicuñas continued survival. Every month, at least three vicuñas are killed crossing the Interoceanic Highway searching for water. So the community plans to establish more water sources to reduce crossings. Rangers ensure young and sick ones are cared for and reintroduced to a herd.  Vicuñas travel in small herds led by a male to protect themselves from their main natural predator, pumas; isolated individuals are vulnerable. Because of their mutually beneficial interaction with humans, Peru's national animal living in Pampas Galeras has a bright future.

Friday, September 14, 2018

'Toontime: A Deal He Can't Refuse

Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for Mr. Yuge and now a convicted felon, must have heard US Person's (aka the "cur") advice {09.18.2018} because he cut a deal with the Special Prosecutor's office to cooperate with the Russian Connection investigation.  He pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges carrying a maximum of ten years in prison in exchange for his full cooperation on matters the government wants to ask him about.  Most of those interrogations will center on his brief tenure as Trump's campaign manager in 2016, when he was present at the critical meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives in Manhattan's Trump Tower.  He is expected to provide heretofore unavailable insight into the campaign's inner workings including its cooperation with foreign agents seeking to influence the outcome of the election.

The deal is a triumph for Mr. Mueller and his investigators, and a serious blow to the legal defense of Hair Further. Manafort is the fourth former Trump official to give their cooperation to federal investigators.   He is so critical to that defense  his former boss dangled the possibility of a presidential pardon for his crimes.  Manafort held out for a year until he was convicted by a Virginia jury of eight federal crimes including money laundering that arose from his consulting contract with the Ukrainian government. He faced an indictment on seven more counts.   Manafort was also forced to surrender his personal fortune as part of the plea agreement, but he will avoid life imprisonment.

credit: Omhan, Sacramento Bee
BC Idowanna sez: He need good lawyer!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

COTW: The Economy in Three Charts

More evidence that the current weak economic expansion is driven by asset inflation, which allows households to use more leverage NOT more income.  This "wealth effect" occurred before the last financial crisis of 2008 too.  See Aikman, Bridges, Kashyap, and Siegert (2018) Household debt is at a post-war high.  Personal savings are trending in the opposite direction:

Societe Generale, the French mega-bank, predicts in its latest Global Economic Outlook that the US is headed towards another recession in 2019/2020.  Here is the chart:

Government spending in August soared to $433.3 billion, not only 30% higher than a year ago, but the highest government monthly outlay of any month on record.  Government tax receipts shrank; notably revenue from corporate taxes shrank by $3bn in August.  Meanwhile, interest on the public debt reached an all time high of $538 billion in Q2, 2018.  Even Jamie Dimon, that prince of finance capitalism, thinks another collapse is coming.  Leon Trotsky wrote: “The orientation of the mass is determined first by the objective conditions of decaying capitalism, and second, by the treacherous policies of the old workers’ organizations. [such as the Auto Workers support of the federal bailout of Chrysler and GM in 2008] Of these factors, the first, of course, is the decisive one: the laws of history are stronger than the bureaucratic apparatus.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Pipelines Leak Again

Two pipeline accidents made the news this week.  A Houston based energy firm shut down its pipeline when it suddenly lost pressure Friday evening.  Eight thousand gallons of jet fuel spilled into the St. Mary's River near Decatur, Indiana.  Booms were placed in the river to collect the fuel and it was vacuumed off the waters surface, but clean-up could take weeks according to the mayor.  EPA is monitoring contamination downstream and in the air near the river.  The spill is the second one in six months in Indiana.  A pipeline owned by Marathon Oil spilled 42,000 gallons of diesel fuel into Big Creek in Posey Creek, Indiana in March.

The a newly installed gas pipeline exploded into flames in the remote Nixon Ridge area of Marshall County, West Virginia.  The pipeline is owned by the same company building the Keystone Pipeline, Trans Canada.  The explosion left a large crater and affected ten acres.  When the Leach Xpress was opened in January, Trans Canada CEO Russ Girling said the project represented "a truly best in class pipeline".  There have been 1300 pipeline spills in the US since 2010, averaging one per day. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

India Hunts T-1

a young tiger, not T-!
Man-eating tiger--a phrase that still invokes terror--was the problem of a previous age when tigers competed with humans for space in which to live.  Steep declines in India's tiger populations since the 20th century made the term almost obsolete.  Then their were 40,000 tigers in India. But their forested habitat was destroyed, and tigers hunted or exterminated relentlessly.  Now, thanks to conservation, India has a new, old problem.  Tiger numbers have increased greatly in recent years, growing 30% in just four years.  India's approximately 2500 counted tigers are running out of room in which to live in one of the most dense human populations on the planet.  Leaving the protected reserves in search of food and mates, tigers are coming into more frequent conflict with humans again. Consequently fear of tiger attacks is growing in rural India.

This perilous situation is the backdrop for the hunt for T-1, a five year old tigress that lives in the vicinity of the village of Pandharkawada in central India.  She is accused of 13 human kills based upon DNA samples, pug marks, and numerous sightings.  Some of her victims have been partially consumed.  T-1's mother died of electrocution when she contacted a farmer's electrified fence.  Perhaps the memory of mother's death at the hand of man has never left her memory. Rangers have been keeping track of her since she was a cub. Irate villagers are demanding that T-1 be shot on sight, but tiger activists have blocked that action, taking their case all the way to India's supreme court.  So rangers have begun a complex, military style operation to trap or tranquilize T-1 so she can be relocated or sent to a zoo.  The problem is that she is a very clever cat and has eluded capture so far.  Rangers are awaiting the arrival of elephants from which sharpshooters can dart the crafty tigress in the bush.  Intense bureaucratic in-fighting between agencies responsible for wildlife conservation has also held up the hunt for T-1.  The story could be a tale from Rudyard Kipling.

credit: Bandhavgarh Tiger Safari
Development all across India are reducing its forests to mere tendrils of green.  Wild corridors supposed to link tiger reserves are increasingly cut by roads and more farms.  An adult tiger needs square miles of thick forest territory depending on the availability of prey, and they are intensely territorial.  An adult male may even kill its mother over disputed territory.  A noted Indian tiger advocate says, “Our tiger situation is not a success story, it’s a mess. We have a whole bunch of islands, and the corridors in between are wiped out or degraded. Many tiger reserves are nonstarters, with less than five tigers or none at all."  India has 50 tiger reserves at present, many surrounded on all sides by human settlements.  In several areas more prey lives outside the reserve--often in the form of mangy, unwanted cattle protected by Hindu religious beliefs.  T-1 never lived in a reserve, as have 30% of India's wild tigers.

DNA collected from saliva left on her victims confirm that T-1 is the man-eater. In January forest officials applied for a shoot order. In the meantime T-1 gave  birth to two cubs.  Nevertheless there is great local pressure to kill her as soon as possible.   Tiger advocates who have blocked the kill order say she is simply trying to survive and feed her family against the increasing encroachment of humans on her territory.  Every time a tiger kills a human outside a reserve the government offers compensation, up to $14,000.  Conservation officials are wary of fraudulent claims because the compensation is significant money to a rural Indian. During a capture operation, an older man who could barely walk positioned himself right next to a cage that the rangers had baited with fresh buffalo meat.  When asked what on Earth was he doing, he asked if the authorities would give the compensation to his family.  In the past villagers would walk in the forest at night--not any more near Pandharkawada where T-1, burning bright, stalks the jungles of the night.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

"Toontime: Watergate Redux

credit:Joep Betrams
BC Idonwanna sez: John Brennan knows!*
Former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of eight felonies; he could potentially serve 80 years in prison, but he will not live that long.  George Pappadopolus was sentenced to 14 days, plus one year of supervised probation,  200 hours of community service, and a $9,500 fine for making false statements to federal officials, in this case the FBI. Besides the obvious difference in the number of charges against him, his lenient sentence demonstrates the value of cooperating with federal prosecutors when they "have you over barrel".

According to the factual basis for his plea deal, Pappadopolous began meeting with persons believed to have connections to the Russian government after he got the job of unpaid foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign in early March, 2016.  He was told a major emphasis of the Trump regime would be to improve relations with Russia. Those meeting with Pappadopolous were:
  • Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor then based in London. He met Papadopoulos in Italy shortly after Papadopoulos agreed to join the Trump campaign, and (per the plea) said he had substantial connections with top Russian government officials.  
  • Olga, a Russian national who Mifsud claimed was a relative of Vladimir Putin’s with ties to top Russian officials. Mifsud brought her to meet Papadopoulos in London.
  • Ivan Timofeev, a Russian academic who Mifsud said had connections to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Much of his contacts with these individuals was part of his effort to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin.  Pappadopolous had told campaign executives he could accomplish this before he was hired. He failed to set up such a meeting, but Mifsud returned from Russia with a bombshell he delivered to Pappadopolous in April, 2016: the Russians had "dirt" on Democrat presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Whether the "excellent guy" told the campaign about this information is a disputed point, but it is clear his loose lips told an Australian diplomat in a London bar about it. After leaks from the Democratic National Committee began two months later, the Australian government tipped the US that Pappadopolous seemed to know something about it. That is when the FBI began its counterintelligence investigation. The Steele Dossier, contrary to the White House's propaganda campaign to discredit the Special Counsel, was not the precipitating reason for the so-called "witch hunt".

Mueller's team denies Pappadopolous was that helpful to them, saying they developed most of the information he had to offer from independent sources Indeed, Pappadopolous or his wife, spent a lot of time talking to the press. After the government learned he had "participated in a media interview with a national publication concerning his case, the government canceled that [December 2017] meeting. They never questioned him again.  The pregnant question is: will Paul Manafort give up the 'yuge' and possibly deranged, unindicted co-conspirator? If US Person were his attorney, he certainly would tell "the stiff" to think seriously about it, otherwise he will be doing a lot of his thinking behind bars.

credit: Nate Beeler, Columbus Dispatch
Wackydoodle sez:  Keep his finger off the button, too!

*Mr. Yuge followed through on his threat to remove former CIA director John Brennan's security clearance. This revenge is clearly out of bounds in revolving-door Washington, and puts him in direct conflict with the Deep State, one less powerful ally in the fight to stave off his impeachment, an essentially political process.  Removal from office under the 25th Amendment is equally political, and fraught with unprecedented constitutional ramifications.  The country married to a president who is essentially a crime boss is no fun.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Chart of the Week: The New Horseless Carriage

Could the electric car be the new horseless carriage?  Just as the horse and mule were replaced at the turn of the last century, the trajectory of electric cars seems to be on course to replace combustion vehicles in the next 10-25 years.  Not a moment to soon, given the already disastrous effects of climate change.  Actually, electric cars are not new they exceed the number of gasoline driven vehicles in the early days of motor cars.  The problem then was heavy, dangerous and inefficient batteries.  Those barriers are falling to technological development. 

After four years of development, Mercedes has announced the release for sale of its all electric SUV, the EQC similar in size and shape to the combustion driven GLC.  When it goes on sale in the US in 2020, it is expected to range 223 miles.  Ford is also forging ahead with its electric car development.  Gearheads will be elated to know that its 300 mile electric SUV is inspired by the venerable Mustang.  Ford is also expected offer electric version of its other popular models like the F-150 pickup.  Sedans, however, are apparently headed for the scrap heap.  Tesla sold an epic 17,800 units of its Model 3 in August.  August 2018 will mark the 35th month of consecutive year-over-year monthly sales gains for plug-in vehicles.  Electric vehicle lift-off is here.

Monday, September 03, 2018

More Wolves in Oregon!

Oregon's Department of Fish & Wildlife has reported two new members of the wolf pack occupying the White River Unit in southern Wasco County [photo].  The event marks the first known reproduction of wolves in the northern Cascades since wolves began returning to the state in the 2000's.  Grey wolves in Wasco County and anywhere west of US Hwys 395-78-95 are still protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.  The US Fish & Wildlife Service is responsible for their protection.  Working in conjunction with the state wildlife agency, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the wolves are monitored and photographed!

Court Battle To Save the Most Endangered Orangutan

Indonesia's major conservation organization, Walhie (Indonesian Forum for the Environment), has filed suit against the North Sumatran provincial government to stop a hydroelectric project that threatens the survival of Pongo tapanuliensis the Tapanuli organgutan, a species already near extinction due to fragmentation of the Batang Toru ecosystem. This eighth species of great ape was only described and classified by science last year. The proposed $1.6 billion dam is funded by Chinese banks. The suit seeks to revoke the environmental compliance permit issued to PT North Sumatran Hydro. It is based on multiple errors in the administrative process, as well as zoning violations since the dam site lies along a tectonic fault. The possibility of catastrophic failure due to earthquake was ignored in the project's environmental impact assessment. An asphalt road leading to the dam site has been repaved repeatedly due to cracks appearing in the road surface. The proposed project would be the largest hydro installation in Sumatra, if completed. Recently an earthen dam in Laos collapsed killing 36, with 100 missing and presumed dead.

The dam would require the clearance of hundreds of sq. kilometers of forest for transmission lines and service roads, thereby making a intact forest accessible to agriculturalists, and hunters. The forest is currently dense and provides healthy habitat for the remaining orangutans. Government officials defending the project, said the orangs "are easily tamed" and could co-exist with development, noting they make there nests near the road. As if the orangs have a choice in the matter. Humans too had little choice in the matter of dam building. One of the issues raised in the lawsuit is that there was not proper consultation with locals as required by law in the planning process. A meeting was held with villagers in which they were offered 8000 rupiah (55¢) per meter for their land, a ridiculously low price. Other villagers have refused to sell, and have protested the dam proposal. One such demonstration on August 24th turned violent.  Villagers were also not informed of the blasting operations required to build the project.  The government, however, is eager to tap into the potential 26 gigawatts of hydroelectric power located on the island; it will use its power of eminent domain to obtain the land if villagers refuse to move.

Twenty-five of the world's leading environmental scientists have written to the Indonesian president Joko Widodo urging cancellation of the dam.  Walhie has also collected 1.3 million signatures from Indonesians opposing the dam.  Scientists estimate that the project could destroy a quarter of the remaining orangutan habitat, which would lead to their extinction in the wild.  The orangs' habitat is severely fragmented; only one fragment is big enough to support the survival of its 500-600 residents long-term. [map courtesy] Females do not have offspring until they mature at age 15, with nine years interspersing their pregnancies.  The developers have hired a PR firm, A+, to engage the scientists in discussions, fearing a backlash will develop against the Chinese bank funders, who see the dam project as part of the immense continent-spanning "Road & Belt" development initiative.   The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have already refused to fund the dam, largely on environmental grounds.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

'Toontime: Roll Out the Barrel!

credit: Christopher Weyant, Boston Globe
BC Idonwanna sez: The twit stops here!

In the continuing saga of the Russian Connection: a senior Justice Department lawyer was told by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, that Russian intelligence believed 'it has Trump over a barrel', according to AP reports. No surprise at Persona Non Grata; numerous posts over the past several months have suggested that Mr. Yuge is compromised by his Russian connection. That the intelligence services or President Putin (probably one in the same) possess kompromat on the US President goes a long way in explaining Hair Further's quixotic behavior and public statements concerning Russia and its authoritarian president.

The Justice Department lawyer, Bruce Ohr, says that Trump contacts took place with higher Russian officials than previously admitted. Ohr described his breakfast meeting with Steele to House legislators this Tuesday.  AP sources agreed to reveal the meeting's content on condition of anonymity. Trump is apparently so threatened by Ohr's potential revelations about his collusion with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election, that he has proposed stripping Ohr of his security clearance, a death sentence for Ohr's decades-long career as a federal prosecutor.

Contrary to partisan allegations, the FBI's investigation of Russian contacts with Trump campaign officials pre-dated the Steele Dossier prepared by Fusion GPS, a private intelligence firm, at the request of the Democratic National Committee. Attended by Ohr, Steele, and his associate, the breakfast took place amid ongoing FBI concerns about Russian election interference and possible communication with Trump associates. The FBI formally launched its counter-intelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, one day after the breakfast meeting took place, but was initially based on information about Russian hackers penetrating Democratic email accounts. So much for Trump's mantra of the investigation constituting a "witch hunt".

Because Ohr did not proactively reveal his meeting with Steele to Justice Department superiors, he was stripped of his associate deputy general attorney position in 2017 as director of a grant distribution program known as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.  Ohr and Steele spent years in an attempt to 'flip' Russian oligarchs.  One of those approached was Oleg Deripaska, known as "Putin's Oligarch" for his close association with the Russian president. The Department of State helped facilitate meetings for the secret operation by allowing Deripaska to visit the United States on a diplomatic passport in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 Ohr reportedly asked Deripaska to "give up Manafort", referring to Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman who was recently convicted of money laundering crimes under an indictment brought by Robert Mueller's wide-ranging investigation.

credit: The New Yorker
  Wackydoodle sez: They'all put in a clown allrite!