Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #938 The Trumpenkampfverbande, Part 12: Settling In, Part 2 (The Underground Reich Comes Into Plain View, Part 5)

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

making-of-trumpCIA SealIntro­duc­tion: This pro­gram con­tin­ues analy­sis of the “set­tling in” process of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, which we feel embod­ies the tran­si­tion of the Under­ground Reich into an above-ground, mass move­ment.

Aspects of this pro­gram and sig­nif­i­cant ele­ments of the next two broad­casts will devel­op our analy­sis of the devel­op­ment of the “bid­ding war” between Rus­sia and the Unit­ed States (to the ulti­mate ben­e­fit of Ger­many) that we intro­duced in FTR #‘s 918 and 919.

We note in pass­ing that sev­er­al of the top­ics of dis­cus­sion men­tioned at the top of the pro­gram are to be pre­sent­ed in the next broad­cast and were not in this pro­gram due to the lim­i­ta­tions of time.

In FTR #‘s 891 and 895, we high­light­ed the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, a Con­gres­sion­al fig leaf insti­tut­ed to dilute the CIA con­trol over Amer­i­can for­eign broad­cast out­lets such as Radio Free Europe, Voice of Amer­i­ca and Radio Free Asia. In addi­tion to the broad­cast out­lets dis­cussed in the sto­ry that fol­lows, we note that the change from a “board of gov­er­nors” to a “CEO” to be appoint­ed by Trump also gives the nom­i­nee pow­er over Radio Free Asi­a’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Fund, devel­op­er of numer­ous apps and oth­er tech­no­log­i­cal method­olo­gies favored by the so-called “pri­va­cy advo­cates.”

The replace­ment of the gov­er­nors is seen as a poten­tial boon to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. “ . . . . ‘There’s some fear among the folks here, that the fire­wall will get dimin­ished and attacked and this could fall vic­tim to pro­pa­gan­da,’ the Repub­li­can offi­cial said. ‘They will hire the per­son they want, the cur­rent CEO does not stand a chance. This will pop up on Steve Bannon’s radar quick­ly. They are going to put a friend­ly per­son in that job.’ . . . .

The change will affect domes­tic broad­cast media as well. ” . . . . Because of the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the Smith-Mundt Act in 2013, the BBG can now broad­cast in the U.S., too. But the influ­ence on the domes­tic mar­ket could be even more sub­tle, the Repub­li­can offi­cial warned. A BBG CEO influ­enced by the admin­is­tra­tion could pen­e­trate estab­lished media out­lets with pack­ages, series or oth­er news prod­ucts pro­duced by the BBG’s net­works but picked up and aired by tra­di­tion­al media like Fox News or Bre­it­bart. Many U.S. out­lets cur­rent­ly use con­tent from VOA. ‘No mon­ey would even change hands, you’ve had no effect on the bud­get,’ the offi­cial said. ‘But it will den­i­grate the prod­uct. . . . ’ ”

In the con­text of the changes made to the BBG, we review the polit­i­cal incli­na­tions of Ban­non:  ” . . . The late Andrew Bre­it­bart, founder of the web­site Ban­non went on to lead, called Ban­non the “Leni Riefen­stahl of the Tea Par­ty move­ment”—a ref­er­ence to the infa­mous cre­ator of Nazi pro­pa­gan­da films. While insist­ing to a Wall Street Jour­nal reporter in 2011 that his work isn’t pro­pa­gan­da, Ban­non went on to cite Riefen­stahl among his main influ­ences . . . ”

Next, we turn to the sub­ject of free trade, on which Trump has had much to say, bash­ing Chi­na and Mex­i­co as coun­tries the U.S. should “put right” in their trade rela­tions with the U.S. It’s worth not­ing we haven’t heard Trump men­tion a trade war with Ger­many despite all his tirades against Chi­na and Mex­i­co. It rais­es the ques­tion of why, since Germany’s unprece­dent­ed and dam­ag­ing sur­plus­es make it such an obvi­ous trade war tar­get.

” . . . . There is one poten­tial trade war, how­ev­er, that few peo­ple have so far noticed — but which could soon be his eas­i­est tar­get. Ger­many. Giv­en the size of its pop­u­la­tion, it runs a far larg­er trade sur­plus than Chi­na — and a mas­sive sur­plus with the U.S. in par­tic­u­lar. Even bet­ter, the indus­tries to pick off are rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple to iden­ti­fy, and would actu­al­ly have a chance of cre­at­ing well-paid Amer­i­can jobs. . . . 

“. . . . Germany’s trade sur­plus is absolute­ly mas­sive, and unprece­dent­ed in mod­ern indus­tri­al his­to­ry. Last year it hit 8.9% of gross domes­tic prod­uct, and it is like­ly to break through 9% before the end of 2016. Glob­al­ly, it is sec­ond in size only to China’s, but giv­en that Ger­many is a far small­er coun­try, it is only fair to mea­sure it on a per capi­ta basis — and when you look at it that way, Germany’s sur­plus is sev­en times big­ger than China’s. . . . Much of Germany’s trade sur­plus is clear­ly the result of cur­ren­cy manip­u­la­tion. The euro has depressed the real val­ue of the country’s exports, allow­ing it rack up those huge exports. You can argue about whether China’s cur­ren­cy is real­ly at its fair val­ue or not — but no one can real­ly dis­pute that Germany’s cur­ren­cy is way, way below what it would be if it still had the deutschemark. . . .”

Obvi­ous­ly, part of the answer lies in the fact that Deutsche Bank–a key ele­ment of the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work and the Under­ground Reich–is owed hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars by Trump. Trump’s oth­er con­nec­tions run in the direc­tion of the Under­ground Reich as well. (The Trump/Deutsche Bank con­nec­tion is dis­cussed, in among oth­er pro­grams, FTR #‘s 920, 921, 922 and 927.)

We note in pass­ing that Ger­many is prepar­ing for a trade war with the U.S.–we don’t think one will real­ly take place, but we may be treat­ed to Trumpian “fake news” and/or pro­pa­gan­da. Ger­many is assert­ing that the fac­tors behind its enor­mous trade sur­plus can not be altered, because it is due to nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring cir­cum­stances like a rapid­ly aging pop­u­la­tion.

” . . . There are plen­ty of rea­sons for that. Germany’s cur­rent account sur­plus has nev­er been as high as it is this year and nev­er before has that sur­plus rep­re­sent­ed such a sig­nif­i­cant share of the country’s gross domes­tic prod­uct. Mak­ing mat­ters worse is the fact that the US is the largest con­sumer of Ger­man exports. . . .

“. . . . As high as it is, though, the cur­rent sur­plus is like­ly to con­tin­ue grow­ing. The recent fall in the euro’s val­ue rel­a­tive to the dol­lar fol­low­ing Trump’s elec­tion makes Ger­man prod­ucts and ser­vices even more com­pet­i­tive. And many econ­o­mists believe that the val­ue of the dol­lar will con­tin­ue to climb, which means that the val­ue of the euro against the dol­lar will shrink cor­re­spond­ing­ly. Their pre­dic­tions are based on recent indi­ca­tions that Trump’s announced eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus poli­cies will push up both America’s sov­er­eign debt load and its inter­est rates. . . .”

The pro­gram con­cludes with analy­sis of how Trump’s con­tin­ued involve­ment in his busi­ness empire (through his chil­dren) leaves him open to manip­u­la­tion. The Philip­pines is a good exam­ple: “ . . . . So, under the deal, Trump’s chil­dren will be paid mil­lions of dol­lars through­out their father’s pres­i­den­cy by Jose E.B. Anto­nio, the head of Cen­tu­ry Prop­er­ties.

“Duterte recent­ly named Anto­nio the spe­cial gov­ern­ment envoy to the Unit­ed States. The con­flicts here could not be more trou­bling or more bla­tant: Pres­i­dent Trump will be dis­cussing U.S. pol­i­cy in South­east Asia with one of his (or his children’s) busi­ness part­ners, a man who is the offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a for­eign leader who likens him­self to Hitler. Also note that the Trump fam­i­ly has an enor­mous finan­cial inter­est in Duterte’s dead­ly cam­paign: Root­ing out crime in the Philip­pines is good for the real estate val­ues. . . .  Duterte recent­ly named Anto­nio the spe­cial gov­ern­ment envoy to the Unit­ed States. The con­flicts here could not be more trou­bling or more bla­tant: Pres­i­dent Trump will be dis­cussing U.S. pol­i­cy in South­east Asia with one of his (or his children’s) busi­ness part­ners, a man who is the offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a for­eign leader who likens him­self to Hitler. Also note that the Trump fam­i­ly has an enor­mous finan­cial inter­est in Duterte’s dead­ly cam­paign: Root­ing out crime in the Philip­pines is good for the real estate val­ues. . . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include: 

  • Trump’s busi­ness deal­ings in India, where mem­bers of the BJP par­ty fig­ure in the dis­po­si­tion of the oper­a­tions in that coun­try.
  • Trump’s con­sid­er­a­tion of Bernie Sanders sup­port­er Tul­si Gab­bard for a cab­i­net posi­tion.
  • Steve Ban­non’s high regard for Gab­bard.
  • Gab­bard’s strong sup­port for Modi and net­work­ing with the BJP.
  • Gab­bard’s net­work­ing with the RSS, the Indi­an fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion for which the BJP serves as a front. (Gab­bard will be dis­cussed at much greater length in future pro­grams.)

1a. The bipar­ti­san Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors is about to get replaced with a Broad­cast­ing CEO thanks to the Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Act passed last week. And under this new sys­tem, that CEO gets select­ed by the Pres­i­dent. Yes, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is about to be the first admin­is­tra­tion to wield these new US pro­pa­gan­da pow­ers.

Some wags have observed that we should prob­a­bly get ready for Trump TV: the offi­cial unof­fi­cial voice of the US gov­ern­ment.  Stay tuned.

A Repub­li­can gov­ern­ment offi­cial famil­iar with the agency’s work warned that abol­ish­ing the board will make it sus­cep­ti­ble to the influ­ence of Trump’s allies, includ­ing his chief strate­gist, Steve Ban­non, who ran Bre­it­bart News before join­ing Trump’s cam­paign. . . . ‘There’s some fear among the folks here, that the fire­wall will get dimin­ished and attacked and this could fall vic­tim to pro­pa­gan­da,’ the Repub­li­can offi­cial said. ‘They will hire the per­son they want, the cur­rent CEO does not stand a chance. This will pop up on Steve Bannon’s radar quick­ly. They are going to put a friend­ly per­son in that job.’ . . . .

The change will affect domes­tic broad­cast media as well. ” . . . . Because of the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the Smith-Mundt Act in 2013, the BBG can now broad­cast in the U.S., too. But the influ­ence on the domes­tic mar­ket could be even more sub­tle, the Repub­li­can offi­cial warned. A BBG CEO influ­enced by the admin­is­tra­tion could pen­e­trate estab­lished media out­lets with pack­ages, series or oth­er news prod­ucts pro­duced by the BBG’s net­works but picked up and aired by tra­di­tion­al media like Fox News or Bre­it­bart. Many U.S. out­lets cur­rent­ly use con­tent from VOA. ‘No mon­ey would even change hands, you’ve had no effect on the bud­get,’ the offi­cial said. ‘But it will den­i­grate the prod­uct. . . . ’ ”

Trump’s “Alt-Right”/white nation­al­ist chief strate­gist may well be shap­ing the agen­da, which will be for domes­tic audi­ences as well!

“Trump to Inher­it State-Run TV Net­work with Expand­ed Reach” by Tara PalmeriPoliti­co; 12/12/2016.

A pro­vi­sion tucked into the defense bill guts the Voice of Amer­i­ca board, stok­ing fears that Trump could wield a pow­er­ful pro­pa­gan­da arm.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is about to inher­it a new­ly empow­ered Voice of Amer­i­ca that some offi­cials fear could serve as an unfet­tered pro­pa­gan­da arm for the for­mer real­i­ty TV star who has flirt­ed for years with launch­ing his own net­work. Buried on page 1,404 of the Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Act that passed last week is a pro­vi­sion that would dis­band the bipar­ti­san board of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, the inde­pen­dent U.S. agency that includes Voice of Amer­i­ca, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Mid­dle East Broad­cast Net­works.

The move — pushed by House For­eign Affairs Chair­man Ed Royce as a way to stream­line the agency — con­cen­trates con­trol into a pow­er­ful CEO who is appoint­ed by the pres­i­dent.

That change, com­bined with a 2013 leg­isla­tive revi­sion that allows the net­work to legal­ly reach a U.S. audi­ence, which was once banned, could pave the way for Trump-approved con­tent cre­at­ed by the U.S. diplo­ma­cy arm, if he choos­es to exploit the oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Essen­tial­ly, Trump is final­ly get­ting his Trump TV — financed by tax­pay­ers to the tune of $800 mil­lion per year. And some of the few peo­ple in the know aren’t hap­py about it.

“Con­gress unwit­ting­ly just gave Pres­i­dent-elect Trump unchecked con­trol of all U.S. media out­lets,” said Michael Kemp­n­er, a Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­ber of the board who was appoint­ed by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and was a Hillary Clin­ton donor. “No pres­i­dent, either Demo­c­rat or Repub­li­can, should have that kind of con­trol. It’s a pub­lic jew­el. It’s inde­pen­dence is what makes it so cred­i­ble.”

It’s unclear whether Trump is even aware about what he’s about to inher­it. Trump as recent­ly as Sep­tem­ber said he has “no inter­est in a media com­pa­ny,” but reports have emerged over the years of the bil­lion­aire explor­ing tele­vi­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties beyond Trump Pro­duc­tions LLC, his TV pro­duc­tion busi­ness whose pro­grams include “The Appren­tice” and the Miss USA and Miss Uni­verse pageants. Van­i­ty Fair report­ed in June that he was con­sid­er­ing launch­ing a “mini media con­glom­er­ate” if he lost the elec­tion.

Trump tran­si­tion spokes­peo­ple did not respond to requests for com­ment.

Now that Trump is get­ting for free a major media appa­ra­tus with loos­ened restric­tions, Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can mem­bers of the cur­rent board are alarmed.

The Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors is the largest pub­lic diplo­ma­cy pro­gram by the U.S. gov­ern­ment, reach­ing an audi­ence of 278 mil­lion by broad­cast­ing in 100 coun­tries and 61 lan­guages. The agency was cre­at­ed in 1942 dur­ing World War II to send pro-democ­ra­cy news across Europe, as it aimed to counter Nazi and Japan­ese pro­pa­gan­da. The agency has since evolved into a more tra­di­tion­al news oper­a­tion, while still push­ing out the virtues of democ­ra­cy world­wide.

To date, the nine-mem­ber board — which con­sists of four Repub­li­cans and four Democ­rats appoint­ed by the pres­i­dent, as well as the sec­re­tary of state — has been a part-time oper­a­tion, but it served as a fire­wall with the mis­sion of pre­serv­ing the integri­ty of the agency’s broad­casts. The organization’s char­ter calls for “accu­ra­cy, bal­ance, com­pre­hen­sive­ness, and objec­tiv­i­ty.”

A Repub­li­can gov­ern­ment offi­cial famil­iar with the agency’s work warned that abol­ish­ing the board will make it sus­cep­ti­ble to the influ­ence of Trump’s allies, includ­ing his chief strate­gist, Steve Ban­non, who ran Bre­it­bart News before join­ing Trump’s cam­paign.

“There’s some fear among the folks here, that the fire­wall will get dimin­ished and attacked and this could fall vic­tim to pro­pa­gan­da,” the Repub­li­can offi­cial said. “They will hire the per­son they want, the cur­rent CEO does not stand a chance. This will pop up on Steve Bannon’s radar quick­ly. They are going to put a friend­ly per­son in that job.”

Offi­cials in par­tic­u­lar fear that Trump and his allies could change the agency’s pos­ture toward Rus­sia, con­sid­er­ing how Trump has expressed a pos­i­tive view of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Mul­ti­ple media out­lets in the BBG fam­i­ly aim to counter Rus­sia pro­pa­gan­da, includ­ing Cur­rent­Time, which was intro­duced two years ago and broad­casts in Rus­sia accord­ing to the NPR mod­el, and Radio Free Europe. With Radio Free Asia, the U.S. also push­es back against China’s state mes­sages, and Trump and his allies could poten­tial­ly use the net­work to antag­o­nize the coun­try, which the pres­i­dent-elect already alarmed with his call with the Tai­wanese pres­i­dent.

Because of the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the Smith-Mundt Act in 2013, the BBG can now broad­cast in the U.S., too. But the influ­ence on the domes­tic mar­ket could be even more sub­tle, the Repub­li­can offi­cial warned.

A BBG CEO influ­enced by the admin­is­tra­tion could pen­e­trate estab­lished media out­lets with pack­ages, series or oth­er news prod­ucts pro­duced by the BBG’s net­works but picked up and aired by tra­di­tion­al media like Fox News or Bre­it­bart. Many U.S. out­lets cur­rent­ly use con­tent from VOA.

“No mon­ey would even change hands, you’ve had no effect on the bud­get,” the offi­cial said. “But it will den­i­grate the prod­uct.”

The offi­cial added, “It’s extreme­ly trou­bling. It’s going to be bad for U.S. inter­na­tion­al broad­cast­ers and their cred­i­bil­i­ty.”

In a sign of how sig­nif­i­cant the changes are, Hillary Clinton’s tran­si­tion team set up a meet­ing to vis­it the stu­dios at 330 Inde­pen­dence Avenue the Wednes­day after the elec­tion, accord­ing to two sources. The meet­ing was can­celed after her loss, how­ev­er, and the Trump tran­si­tion team has not vis­it­ed the stu­dios.

But some top BBG offi­cials are more mea­sured in their reac­tion to Trump’s abil­i­ty to influ­ence the agency.

Jeff Shell, chair­man of BBG’s board and an Oba­ma appointee, said the changes to the agency’s struc­ture were long over­due. “To have part-time board mem­bers to man­age some­thing like this is com­plete­ly unre­al­is­tic, so I very much sup­port the empow­ered CEO than a board,” he said, adding, “There’s always a risk with any fed­er­al agency, whether this admin­is­tra­tion or anoth­er that they’re going to use the orga­ni­za­tion in a par­ti­san.”

Royce, who pushed the pro­vi­sion, has long blast­ed the board as “defunct” and has called the agency “bad­ly bro­ken.” For years, he has pushed broad reforms, insist­ing dra­mat­ic steps were nec­es­sary to make its inter­na­tion­al broad­casts more effec­tive. He also float­ed the idea of rebrand­ing the BBG as the “Free­dom News Net­work.”

“Our agen­cies that helped take down the Iron Cur­tain with accu­rate and time­ly broad­cast­ing have lost their edge,” Royce said in a state­ment after the bill was passed in the House ear­li­er this month.

“They must be revi­tal­ized to effec­tive­ly car­ry out their mis­sion in this age of viral ter­ror­ism and dig­i­tal pro­pa­gan­da. … My pro­vi­sion takes an impor­tant first step in this process by replac­ing the BBG’s part-time board with a per­ma­nent CEO to help bet­ter deliv­er real news to peo­ple in coun­tries where free press does not exist.”

The leg­is­la­tion also gives the pres­i­dent the pow­er to appoint an advi­so­ry board — which will con­sist of five mem­bers, includ­ing the sec­re­tary of state — but it has no statu­to­ry pow­er.

The pro­vi­sion does, how­ev­er, squeeze in a pro­vi­sion for an inspec­tor gen­er­al from the State Depart­ment who would “respect the jour­nal­is­tic integri­ty of all the broad­cast­ers cov­ered by this Act.”

The com­plaints about the agency have not been pure­ly par­ti­san. For­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton has in the past com­plained about the agency, call­ing the board inef­fec­tu­al and “defunct” in Jan­u­ary 2013. Lat­er that year, the BBG faced more con­tro­ver­sy when it was revealed that less than 1 per­cent of Cubans lis­tened to its expen­sive TV Martí ser­vice.

But in recent years, the agency took sig­nif­i­cant steps to clean up its act. After the crit­i­cism, the oper­a­tional board reor­ga­nized and appoint­ed a CEO, John F. Lans­ing, to over­see day-to-day strat­e­gy and oper­a­tions in late 2013. The result was a 23 per­cent increase in TV view­er­ship to 174 mil­lion and a 27 per­cent increase in radio audi­ence to 130 mil­lion in 2016. Dig­i­tal audi­ences also increased from 32 mil­lion in 2015 to 45 mil­lion. The over­all audi­ence went up from 226 mil­lion in 2015 to 278 mil­lion in 2016.

After the bill passed through the House, Lans­ing sent a memo to BBG staffers promis­ing that “the leg­is­la­tion makes NO change to the fire­wall between the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and the jour­nal­ists of our five net­works.”

“As I stat­ed at the Town Hall on Tues­day, main­tain­ing our jour­nal­is­tic inde­pen­dence, and our cred­i­bil­i­ty world­wide, remains of the utmost impor­tance,” he wrote.

Karen Korn­bluh, a Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­ber of the board appoint­ed by Oba­ma, rein­forced the idea that the orga­ni­za­tion would not auto­mat­i­cal­ly bend to any president’s will.

“Although I pre­ferred hav­ing the board because it’s always good to have checks and bal­ance, I am sure that the staff will con­tin­ue to report jour­nal­ism with ‘mus­cu­lar objec­tiv­i­ty,’” Korn­bluh said at the BBG’s last board meet­ing.

But some say this fire­wall is still not enough to pro­tect the orga­ni­za­tion from the pres­sure of some of Trump’s most media savvy advis­ers like Ban­non.

“On Jan. 21, we’ll have a wel­com­ing cer­e­mo­ny for our next CEO, who could be Steve Ban­non, or Lau­ra Ingra­ham or Ann Coul­ter,” said a senior Voice of Amer­i­ca staffer.


Because of the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the Smith-Mundt Act in 2013, the BBG can now broad­cast in the U.S., too. But the influ­ence on the domes­tic mar­ket could be even more sub­tle, the Repub­li­can offi­cial warned.

A BBG CEO influ­enced by the admin­is­tra­tion could pen­e­trate estab­lished media out­lets with pack­ages, series or oth­er news prod­ucts pro­duced by the BBG’s net­works but picked up and aired by tra­di­tion­al media like Fox News or Bre­it­bart. Many U.S. out­lets cur­rent­ly use con­tent from VOA.

“No mon­ey would even change hands, you’ve had no effect on the bud­get,” the offi­cial said. “But it will den­i­grate the prod­uct.”

1b. An Alter­net piece com­pares movies made by the chair­man and deputy chair­man of Trump’s cam­paign to Nazi pro­pa­gan­da films, those of Leni Riefen­stahl, in par­tic­u­lar. It is note­wor­thy that David Bossie, the deputy chair­man of Trump’s cam­paign is the pres­i­dent and chair­man of Cit­i­zens Unit­ed, the orga­ni­za­tion whose law­suit opened the door to the vir­tu­al­ly unlim­it­ed fund­ing of Amer­i­can elec­tions by the ultra-rich.

“Trump Cam­paign Lead­ers Made Movies Com­pa­ra­ble to Nazi Pro­pa­gan­da” by Alex Kotch; Alter­net; 10/06/2016.

. . . . . Ear­ly on, Trump court­ed the far right, retweet­ing posts from the Twit­ter accounts of white suprema­cists. He also received sup­port from some he appar­ent­ly didn’t court, win­ning praise from the likes of for­mer KKK leader David Duke, and even made the Cal­i­for­nia bal­lot as the nom­i­nee of a racist polit­i­cal par­ty.

See­ing how Steve Ban­non had craft­ed Bre­it­bart News, the right-wing web­site he ran, into a hub for young white nation­al­ists (the “alt-right”) to bat around con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, Trump tapped Ban­non on August 17 to be his cam­paign CEO. As exec­u­tive chair­man of Bre­it­bart, Ban­non pub­lished decep­tive and man­u­fac­tured sto­ries to aid the right wing, and in the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign treat­ed his media com­pa­ny as a sur­ro­gate for Trump.

On Sep­tem­ber 1, Trump chose David Bossie, pres­i­dent and chair­man of the right-wing non­prof­it Cit­i­zens Unit­ed, as his deputy cam­paign man­ag­er. Bossie has pro­duced 25 films with Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Pro­duc­tions. Some of these films fea­ture Ban­non as writer, direc­tor and exec­u­tive pro­duc­er.

It was Bossie’s group whose name came to define the unlim­it­ed flow of cor­po­rate and union cash into elec­tions, thanks to the Supreme Court’s deci­sion in the 2010 case Cit­i­zens Unit­ed brought against the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. At issue was an anti-Clin­ton Cit­i­zens Unit­ed pro­duc­tion called Hillary: The Movie, which the FEC had deemed a cam­paign adver­tise­ment sub­ject to reg­u­la­tion based on cam­paign finance law. (The movie was pro­duced for air­ing in the 2008 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, when many expect­ed Hillary Clin­ton to be the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee.) Now Bossie has joined Ban­non, his long­time team­mate, to run Trump’s cam­paign of lies and fear-mon­ger­ing against Clin­ton.

Accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post, Bossie’s job in Trump World is “craft­ing attacks against Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hillary Clin­ton, min­ing past con­tro­ver­sies involv­ing her and for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, and cul­ti­vat­ing Trump’s bond with con­ser­v­a­tive activists.” Bossie has hound­ed the Clin­tons for decades, begin­ning in the ear­ly 1990s, when he dug up dirt about Bill Clin­ton when he was still gov­er­nor of Arkansas. A few years lat­er, U.S. Rep. Dan Bur­ton (R‑Ind.) hired Bossie to inves­ti­gate Clinton’s 1996 cam­paign fundrais­ing, a post he was lat­er forced to resign. Bossie went on to write a book that blamed the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion for the ter­ror­ist attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, and to pro­duce Hillary: The Movie with Cit­i­zens Unit­ed. This year, the group sued the State Depart­ment for emails and oth­er records of those who served as aides to Hillary Clin­ton while she was sec­re­tary of state. Bossie is tak­ing a leave of absence from Cit­i­zens Unit­ed dur­ing the cam­paign, and also retir­ing from the Defeat Crooked Hillary super PAC, which he found­ed this June.

Bossie and Trump are no strangers; in 2014, Trump’s foun­da­tion donat­ed $100,000 to the Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Foun­da­tion, the same year that the group filed a law­suit against New York Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Schnei­der­man, who was suing Trump over the fraud­u­lent prac­tices of Trump Uni­ver­si­ty.

Some have wagered that Trump, along with Ban­non and for­mer Fox News chief Roger Ailes, is plan­ning a new, post-elec­tion media empire, which could help his brand whether he wins or los­es. Some think Trump doesn’t want to win the elec­tion, but the hir­ing of Ban­non and Bossie may show that Trump, one of the world’s loud­est ego­ma­ni­acs, thinks he deserves the White House and knows the only way to win it is through pro­pa­gan­da that rein­forces his giant moun­tain of fab­ri­ca­tions, con­spir­a­cies, racism and sex­ism.

The late Andrew Bre­it­bart, founder of the web­site Ban­non went on to lead, called Ban­non the “Leni Riefen­stahl of the Tea Par­ty move­ment”—a ref­er­ence to the infa­mous cre­ator of Nazi pro­pa­gan­da films. While insist­ing to a Wall Street Jour­nal reporter in 2011 that his work isn’t pro­pa­gan­da, Ban­non went on to cite Riefen­stahl among his main influ­ences, along with Sovi­et film­mak­er Sergei Eisen­stein and pro­gres­sive doc­u­men­tar­i­an Michael Moore.

Ivana Trump, the candidate’s first wife, told Van­i­ty Fair in 1990 that her hus­band kept a copy of Adolf Hitler’s My New Order, a col­lec­tion of speech­es that dis­play the Nazi dictator’s excep­tion­al abil­i­ty to manip­u­late real­i­ty, in a cab­i­net near his bed. “Per­haps his pos­ses­sion of Hitler’s speech­es mere­ly indi­cates an inter­est in Hitler’s genius at pro­pa­gan­da,” mused Marie Bren­ner, author of the arti­cle.

The Nazi regime pro­duced a mas­sive amount of pro­pa­gan­da; it had an entire Min­istry of Pub­lic Enlight­en­ment and Pro­pa­gan­da, head­ed by Joseph Goebbels. A cen­tral tech­nique of Nazi pro­pa­gan­dists, accord­ing to the U.S. Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um, was to cast Jews as out­siders and dan­ger­ous ene­mies of the Reich, “‘sub­hu­man’ crea­tures infil­trat­ing Aryan soci­ety.”

Karen Eliz­a­beth Price, a film­mak­er who teach­es cours­es on doc­u­men­tary film at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, told Alter­Net via email that “most suc­cess­ful pro­pa­gan­da films appeal to some­thing that already exists in the viewer—perhaps only as a feel­ing or germ of an idea—and help to ‘fill in the blanks.’” After Ger­many had to con­cede ter­ri­to­ries and accept blame for World War I and then was hit by the Great Depres­sion, peo­ple felt wound­ed and demor­al­ized. In Riefenstahl’s Tri­umph of the Will, which some regard as the great­est pro­pa­gan­da film of all time, “a solu­tion to that despair is pre­sent­ed in the form of a patri­ot­ic sav­ior [in this case, Adolf Hitler] already hard at work, promis­ing to restore Ger­many to its for­mer pow­er and glo­ry,” said Price.

To explore, in the con­text of pro­pa­gan­da-mak­ing, the kinds of elec­tion nar­ra­tives we’re get­ting from Trump and his lat­est cam­paign ros­ter, I suf­fered my way through three movies pro­duced by Cit­i­zens Unit­ed: Bor­der War: The Bat­tle Over Ille­gal Immi­gra­tion (2006), which had Ban­non and Bossie as exec­u­tive pro­duc­ers; Bat­tle for Amer­i­ca (2010), with Ban­non as writer, direc­tor and pro­duc­er and Bossie as exec­u­tive pro­duc­er; and Occu­py Unmasked (2012), writ­ten and direct­ed by Ban­non with Bossie as exec­u­tive pro­duc­er and fea­tur­ing Andrew Bre­it­bart.

All three Bannon/Bossie films cen­ter on an ene­my, either “ille­gal” immi­grants, “rad­i­cal lib­er­als” (a cat­e­go­ry that in these films includes Oba­ma and the Clin­tons), or the Occu­py Wall Street pro­test­ers. To exag­ger­ate the dan­ger of these pur­port­ed ene­mies and gar­ner sup­port for those the movies present as America’s defend­ers, each film uses var­i­ous pro­pa­gan­da tech­niques includ­ing omis­sions, jux­ta­po­si­tion, false asso­ci­a­tions, decep­tive­ly edit­ed footage, stereo­typ­ing and rep­e­ti­tion, all to appeal to view­ers’ fear and prej­u­dice. In two of them, the film’s heroes are framed as bat­tling a cor­rupt or inept polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment.

‘Bor­der War: The Bat­tle Over Ille­gal Immi­gra­tion’

The pur­pose of “Bor­der War” is clear­ly to cast undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants as threats to Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. The film, from 2006, takes us to Nogales, Ari­zona (a town on the Mex­i­can bor­der), and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, fol­low­ing five char­ac­ters, four of whom have antipa­thy for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants: a bor­der patrol agent whose par­ents emi­grat­ed legal­ly from Mex­i­co; a con­gress­man who wrote a bill to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico bor­der and sta­tion guards all along it; a woman whose hus­band, a sheriff’s deputy, was killed by an undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant he had stopped; a Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can woman who was molest­ed by undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants and whose nephew was killed by one. In an attempt to feign bal­ance, also includ­ed is an orga­niz­er for immi­gra­tion reform who found­ed a group that pro­vides water and food to immi­grants cross­ing the U.S.-Mexico bor­der.

The selec­tion of these sub­jects alone makes clear the film is hard­ly a doc­u­men­tary but more a selec­tive argu­ment against undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants. From the begin­ning, bor­der crossers are depict­ed as dan­ger­ous; an ear­ly scene con­tains footage of the after­math of a shootout between “rival gangs of coy­otes,” or peo­ple whom aspir­ing immi­grants pay to shep­herd them across the bor­der. Blood pools beneath a dead traf­fick­er, wrecked cars lie in ditch­es, and U.S. Rep. J.D. Hay­worth refers to those involved in the inci­dent as “ille­gals,” while threat­en­ing music under­scores his com­ments.

Through­out the film, efforts to brand undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants as crim­i­nals abound. A ranch own­er near the bor­der recounts many undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants leav­ing trash, which he says cat­tle eat and die from, on his land. Once some migrants “butchered a young calf,” he says. A woman says her hos­pi­tal in Dou­glass, Ari­zona, closed because it lost mon­ey treat­ing undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants who couldn’t pay. A news broad­cast details a drug-smug­gling tun­nel that runs from Agua Pri­eta, Mex­i­co to Dou­glass, Ari­zona.

Lupe Moreno, whose nephew was killed by an undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant, is part of a group called Min­ute­man, a cadre of vig­i­lante bor­der patrollers labeled a “nativist extrem­ist group” by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter. The film doesn’t both­er to explain much about the group because if they did, they’d have to acknowl­edge its dis­turb­ing his­to­ry and ties to neo-Nazis and white suprema­cists.

One scene shows com­pet­ing ral­lies, one in favor of rights for the undoc­u­ment­ed and anoth­er for strict immi­gra­tion enforce­ment. At the lat­ter ral­ly, Min­ute­man co-founder Jim Gilchrist, who was run­ning for Con­gress at the time, spoke. In an inter­view there, Gilchrist claims that at the oth­er ral­ly, “[t]here’s not one Amer­i­can flag out there;” how­ev­er, he says that in the pro-immi­grant demon­stra­tion, a “com­mu­nist flag” and an anar­chist flag flew. Gilchrist was run­ning for office as a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Inde­pen­dent Par­ty, the seg­re­ga­tion­ist par­ty of George Wal­lace. This par­ty, based in Cal­i­for­nia, has actu­al­ly put Trump on the pres­i­den­tial bal­lot in that state this year.

On his 2006 cam­paign web­site, Gilchrist claimed, “Although some [ille­gal immi­grants from Mex­i­co] pre­sum­ably have good inten­tions, at least twen­ty per­cent (20%) of south­ern bor­der-crossers are known crim­i­nals, drug deal­ers, sex traf­fick­ers, and gang lords.”

Chris Sim­cox, Min­ute­man co-founder, makes an appear­ance. He’s now in jail for child molesta­tion.

Footage of pro­test­ers with ban­danas cov­er­ing their faces appears, some wear­ing all black, some yelling at mount­ed police, over brood­ing music that per­vades the film.

“We are in a bat­tle right now,” says Moreno. “We’re in a bat­tle for this nation.”

Moreno met with Trump last year, and Bre­it­bart News was hap­py to spread the word. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Gilchrist endorsed Trump in 2015.

The film fea­tures many inter­views but few facts. In one of the only scenes to include a sta­tis­tic, an uniden­ti­fied agent from California’s Los Ange­les Coun­ty tells a crowd gath­ered for what appears to be a law enforce­ment memo­r­i­al for a sheriff’s deputy shot to death by an undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant: “There are 801,000 sit­u­a­tions where peo­ple have been mur­dered in the state of Cal­i­for­nia.” It’s unclear what kind of sit­u­a­tions he’s talk­ing about and over what peri­od of time, but even so, that’s an insane­ly high fig­ure for any record of mur­ders in the state. Then he says: “Add up the oth­er bor­der states, now we’re up to 3,000.” If per­chance he mul­ti­plied the real stat for Cal­i­for­nia by 100,000, Cit­i­zens Unit­ed didn’t both­er to clar­i­fy or fix his error.

No jour­nal­ists or researchers were inter­viewed for “Bor­der War.” Ten years after the film was made, the anti-estab­lish­ment and “law-and-order can­di­date” Trump has made a promise to build that wall a sig­na­ture talk­ing point.

‘Bat­tle for Amer­i­ca’

“Bat­tle for Amer­i­ca,” a 2010 ode to the then-nascent Tea Par­ty, is more overt­ly pro­pa­gan­dis­tic than “Bor­der War.” The film devotes 30 min­utes to estab­lish­ing the ene­my (the “rad­i­cal left,” pur­port­ed­ly led by Oba­ma), anoth­er 20 min­utes to the nation’s prob­lems (osten­si­bly caused by America’s impend­ing “Euro­pean social­ist mod­el,” the poor econ­o­my and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions and ter­ror threats) and the final half hour to the cel­e­brat­ed brav­ery of Tea Par­ty activists and the cru­cial 2010 elec­tions. It’s all nar­rat­ed by a host of right-wing ide­o­logues includ­ing Dick Mor­ris (also host of “Hillary: The Movie”), Lou Dobbs, Ann Coul­ter and found­ing Bre­it­bart News edi­tor Michael Fly­nn.

“We’re being asked to choose right now whether or not the Unit­ed States is going to con­tin­ue to be a cul­ture of free enter­prise envi­sioned by our found­ing fathers or whether or not we’re choos­ing a new cul­ture, a Euro­pean-style cul­ture of social democ­ra­cy,” says Arthur Brooks, pres­i­dent of the Koch broth­ers-fund­ed Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute.

Employ­ing a repet­i­tive, syn­the­sized and dra­mat­ic orches­tral score and a remark­able amount of stock footage, the film often flut­ters between what Ban­non and Bossie see as good and evil: for instance, footage of Mus­lims pray­ing as for­mer Rep. Dan Lun­gren (R‑Calif.) warns of “ter­ror­ists out there that want to kill us,” then the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty; a Pales­tin­ian ral­ly and 9/11 wreck­age fol­lowed by images of the flow­ing Amer­i­can flag and U.S. troops on the march.

The movie doesn’t hold back from race-bait­ing, often show­ing clips of black peo­ple char­ac­ter­ized as hav­ing bad inten­tions. Besides Oba­ma, the film depicts as the ene­my New York Rep. Char­lie Rangel, Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Max­ine Waters, Michi­gan Rep. John Cony­ers, South Car­oli­na Rep. James Clyburn, Flori­da Rep. Alcee Hast­ings, Mis­sis­sip­pi Rep. Ben­nie Thomp­son (“a rad­i­cal if there ever was one,” says Mor­ris), activist Van Jones—and even Harvard’s Hen­ry Louis Gates (shown hav­ing a beer with Oba­ma, Joe Biden and the police sergeant who arrest­ed him at his own home). There’s even a clip of a young black woman rejoic­ing at Obama’s inau­gu­ra­tion; it’s clear that the film­mak­ers do not intend the view­er to share in her jubi­la­tion.

List­ing the many prob­lems they have with Amer­i­ca under Oba­ma, the far-right nar­ra­tors bemoan what they claim is Amer­i­cans’ depen­dence on gov­ern­ment, the failed stim­u­lus and the president’s pur­port­ed “apol­o­gy tour”—replete with footage of burn­ing flags; Mus­lims in tra­di­tion­al dress; Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad, then pres­i­dent of Iran; the social­ist Hugo Chávez, then pres­i­dent of Venezuela; and aged video of Fas­cist troops march­ing in per­fect syn­chrony. Amidst the sea of most­ly unre­lat­ed footage, the hosts make absurd claims; for exam­ple, one asserts that expand­ing Med­ic­aid would “move pri­ma­ry care into the emer­gency room,” when the real­i­ty is just the oppo­site.

In the final third of the film, Ban­non lauds the Tea Par­ty, intro­duc­ing uplift­ing, trum­pet-heavy music and shots of seem­ing­ly all-white Tea Par­ty ral­lies where so-called patri­ots smile, cheer and wave flags, char­ac­ter­ized as stand­ing against social­ism and fight­ing for free­dom. In the last seg­ment, “How We Win,” the music shifts, and Newt Gin­grich, Dobbs, Coul­ter and oth­ers talk about “an unchecked, unstopped, unlim­it­ed Oba­ma rad­i­cal­ism” and how “the last, best hope of the world is at stake” in the 2010 elec­tions, over images of the doomed Titan­ic, burn­ing forests and col­laps­ing ice­bergs. Only the Tea Par­ty patri­ots can save Amer­i­ca, “where free­dom can flour­ish,” by vot­ing for lib­er­ty-lov­ing con­ser­v­a­tives.

In her analy­sis of Riefenstahl’s “Tri­umph of the Will,” Price not­ed that “per­haps most crit­i­cal­ly, Germany’s come­back is por­trayed as well under­way; the view­er need only jump aboard. What is being said implic­it­ly is that there is no alter­na­tive.” In “Bat­tle for Amer­i­ca,” Ban­non and Bossie fol­low the same for­mu­la, posit­ing the Tea Par­ty move­ment as the band­wag­on to jump on. But the for­mu­la isn’t the only thing about the film that car­ries echoes of Goebbels: a researcher and coun­sel for the film was white nation­al­ist Robert Van­der­voort.

‘Occu­py Unmasked’

Just two years after mak­ing a film lion­iz­ing the “grass­roots” Tea Par­ty, Ban­non and Bossie made a hit piece on anoth­er protest move­ment, this one com­posed of peo­ple con­cerned about income inequal­i­ty and angry at the big banks that wrecked the glob­al econ­o­my.

Nat­u­ral­ly, the pro­pa­gan­da duo resort­ed to its go-to method when mak­ing “Occu­py Unmasked”: depict­ing a war between a vicious ene­my and strong, patri­ot­ic Amer­i­cans. It’s a brash film with one obvi­ous goal: to dis­cred­it the Occu­py Wall Street move­ment and thus pre­vent con­ser­v­a­tives from car­ing about the country’s mas­sive wealth dis­par­i­ty.

The film opens with a suc­ces­sion of TV news clips about the nation­al debt, splic­ing select­ed seg­ments togeth­er over a sus­pense­ful sound­track in order to dra­ma­tize the “debt cri­sis.” We see an image of Oba­ma with the words “an orga­niz­er” float­ing next to him. Lib­er­als, as in “Bat­tle for Amer­i­ca,” are labeled as rad­i­cals ready to destroy Amer­i­ca as we know it. In fact, the movie has three acts, named after Bannon’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of strate­gies in Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Rad­i­cals,” a guide for com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ers hailed by the left and scorned by the right. (Iron­i­cal­ly, how­ev­er, Tea Par­ty orga­niz­er Dick Armey and oth­er con­ser­v­a­tives used some of Alinsky’s tac­tics.) Ban­non frames Occu­py as an anar­chist group—even the “a” in “Occu­py Unmasked” is the anar­chist symbol—representing “the orga­nized left,” which is said to be set on secur­ing gov­ern­ment hand­outs.

The late Bre­it­bart him­self is the nar­ra­tor, estab­lish­ing this war as “the bat­tle for the soul of Amer­i­ca.”

“Occu­py Unmasked,” like Ban­non and Bossie’s oth­er films, uses strange, unre­lat­ed footage, often involv­ing peo­ple of col­or, and sets up black peo­ple as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of evil. While defam­ing Occu­py in an extend­ed open­ing of the film, they inter­sperse news clips and footage of pro­test­ers with unre­lat­ed clips of a dark-skinned snake charmer, all while splic­ing in clips of “rad­i­cals” includ­ing Van Jones (“of the far left group, Col­or of Change”), Prince­ton pro­fes­sor Cor­nel West and actor Whoopi Gold­berg.

Next comes anoth­er com­mon pro­pa­gan­da tac­tic: using anec­dotes to make a gen­er­al argu­ment. Ban­non shows an inter­view with one Occu­py pro­test­er who men­tions drugs; he extrap­o­lates that the Occu­piers only want­ed to “cre­ate their own Wood­stock” with wide­spread drug use and sex. One woman says that sex­u­al assault occurred, so Ban­non por­trays Occu­py campers as a mob of rapists. “There’s rap­ing and there’s pil­lag­ing and there’s poop­ing,” spouts Bre­it­bart.

While “black bloc” anar­chists were a pres­ence at Occu­py, they by no means rep­re­sent­ed the move­ment as a whole, and pro­gres­sives crit­i­cized them. But Ban­non shows count­less clips of pro­test­ers wear­ing all black and cov­er­ing their faces, clash­ing with police, com­mit­ting van­dal­ism or march­ing while hold­ing black flags. Bre­it­bart says the pro­test­ers are social­ists who want to over­throw the gov­ern­ment and cre­ate ten­sion with the police.

No one inter­viewed on cam­era is a non­par­ti­san jour­nal­ist or researcher, yet Ban­non and Bossie present their com­men­ta­tors as author­i­ties, fail­ing to dis­close their ties to Bre­it­bart News. Pam Key, who worked at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze (she now writes for Bre­it­bart News) and is known for mak­ing mis­lead­ing videos, says, “These peo­ple have set off a pow­der keg, and what is gonna hap­pen, nobody knows … It has the poten­tial of becom­ing incred­i­bly vio­lent.” She claims Occu­piers planned their vio­lence “in tents at night with drugs and weapons.”

Oth­er guests include Mandy Nagy, known online as Lib­er­ty Chick, who was a writer and researcher for Bre­it­bart News; Bran­don Dar­by, who once served as an infor­mant for the FBI on left-wing pro­test­ers (he now man­ages Breitbart’s Texas ver­ti­cal); Chris­t­ian Hart­sock, a Bre­it­bart colum­nist who has worked with James O’Keefe on mis­lead­ing sting videos against ACORN and teach­ers’ unions; and David Horowitz, an author and speak­er whom the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter con­sid­ers an anti-immi­grant and anti-Mus­lim extrem­ist and who fre­quent­ly writes for Bre­it­bart.

Bre­it­bart him­self takes aim at the very con­cept of com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing, paint­ing it as the dark province of bad peo­ple. “Com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing is not the Amer­i­can peo­ple get­ting togeth­er to help your next door neigh­bor put food into the cup­board,” he fumes. “Com­mu­ni­ty organiz[ers] are rad­i­cals, anar­chists, social­ists, com­mu­nists, pub­lic sec­tor unions who are hell-bent on a nihilis­tic destruc­tion of every­thing that peo­ple in Amer­i­can care for.”

In the sec­ond seg­ment, “The Issue Is Nev­er the Issue,” Dar­by and Horowitz relate Occu­py to com­mu­nism and social­ism as the movie shows a flur­ry of clips of Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stal­in, Fidel Cas­tro, the Black Panthers—and images of dead and starv­ing peo­ple. “Peo­ple who were in the left, like the Pan­thers, could be killers, and they would be pro­tect­ed by the rest of the left,” states Horowitz.

The film then plunges into full-on con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, claim­ing there was a “secret coun­cil” lead­ing Occu­py that no one knew about; that Hillary Clin­ton and Oba­ma are out to destroy Amer­i­ca because of the “direct line” from Alin­sky to both of them.

The finale, fea­tur­ing a mix of cliché Hol­ly­wood orches­tral film music and elec­tron­i­cal­ly pro­duced indus­tri­al met­al, some­how ratch­ets up the alleged dan­ger of Occu­py, even throw­ing in scenes of Greek pro­test­ers hurl­ing bombs in Athens, because, hey, why not? “There’s def­i­nite­ly a mas­sive desire to sort of bring the vio­lence of Europe over to Amer­i­ca,” claims Key.

Unlike many pro­pa­gan­da films, this one doesn’t offer a glimpse of an Amer­i­ca freed from evil, or a dis­tinct enti­ty that will fight them and win, except per­haps Bre­it­bart him­self, shown yelling at pro­test­ers, “Behave your­self!” and “Stop rap­ing peo­ple!”

Now, Ban­non and Bossie, this estimable pair of pro­pa­gan­da pur­vey­ors, are Trump’s best hope in his decep­tive media cam­paign. Trump’s cam­paign ads, as well as the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries he and his sur­ro­gates ped­dle, would seem to bear their imprint.

What an alliance: A candidate—the orig­i­nal birther, known for cre­at­ing base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, as well as busi­ness fraud, pay-to-play pol­i­tics and using his “char­i­ta­ble” foun­da­tion stocked with oth­er people’s mon­ey to pay off his company’s court settlements—and the mas­ter­minds behind some of the nation’s most shame­less far-right pro­pa­gan­da. They’re all work­ing togeth­er to put a sociopath in the White House.

2a. With big ques­tions loom­ing over how, or even if, a Trump admin­is­tra­tion will mod­i­fy the US’s var­i­ous trade agree­ments, it’s worth not­ing we haven’t heard Trump men­tion a trade war with Ger­many despite all his tirades against Chi­na and Mex­i­co. It rais­es the ques­tion of why, since Germany’s unprece­dent­ed and dam­ag­ing sur­plus­es make it such an obvi­ous trade war tar­get.

Obvi­ous­ly, part of the answer lies in the fact that Deutsche Bank–a key ele­ment of the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work and the Under­ground Reich–is owed hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars by Trump. Trump’s oth­er con­nec­tions run in the direc­tion of the Under­ground Reich as well.

“Opin­ion: If Trump Wants A Trade War, Start­ing One with Ger­many Makes More Sense” by Matthew LynnMar­ket­Watch; 11/30/2016.

Build­ing a wall along the bor­der with Mex­i­co. Launch­ing a trade war with Chi­na. Scrap­ping the Trans-Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship, and rethink­ing the involve­ment of the Unit­ed States in trade agree­ments around the world.

When he moves into the White House in Jan­u­ary, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will have plen­ty of options for mak­ing good on his cam­paign promise to use tar­iff bar­ri­ers to rebuild Amer­i­can indus­try.

There is one poten­tial trade war, how­ev­er, that few peo­ple have so far noticed — but which could soon be his eas­i­est tar­get. Ger­many. Giv­en the size of its pop­u­la­tion, it runs a far larg­er trade sur­plus than Chi­na — and a mas­sive sur­plus with the U.S. in par­tic­u­lar. Even bet­ter, the indus­tries to pick off are rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple to iden­ti­fy, and would actu­al­ly have a chance of cre­at­ing well-paid Amer­i­can jobs.

Heck, Trump would even be set­tling a fam­i­ly score — the Ger­mans deport­ed his grand­fa­ther, Fred­er­ick Trump, for draft-dodg­ing. They might be feel­ing ner­vous about Jan. 20, the day of Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion, in Bei­jing and Mex­i­co City — but the place they should be feel­ing real­ly ner­vous is Berlin.

When Trump con­found­ed expec­ta­tions ear­li­er this month, and brushed aside Hillary Clin­ton to win the pres­i­den­cy, world lead­ers were not exact­ly falling over one anoth­er to con­grat­u­late them. Few had want­ed him to win. Even so, the mes­sage from Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel was espe­cial­ly chilly, mak­ing plen­ty of point­ed remarks about lib­er­al val­ues and shared respon­si­bil­i­ties.

To most com­men­ta­tors, that was a reflec­tion of Merkel’s com­mit­ment to tol­er­ance and open­ness, which are cer­tain­ly among her best qual­i­ties. But it may have reflect­ed some­thing else as well. Trump’s cam­paign rhetoric about rip­ping up free-trade agree­ments, and about pro­tect­ing Amer­i­can indus­try, must sound trou­bling to any­one who is aware of what keeps the Ger­man econ­o­my tick­ing.

In Ger­many, the threat its mas­sive trade sur­plus with Amer­i­ca has already been not­ed. The influ­en­tial and well-con­nect­ed mag­a­zine Der Spiegel ran an arti­cle in the wake of his vic­to­ry say­ing that Ger­many was prepar­ing itself for a trade war with Trump’s Amer­i­ca. The country’s Eco­nom­ics Min­istry has, the mag­a­zine report­ed, been told to start putting togeth­er the counter-argu­ments against tar­iffs bar­ri­ers — point­ing out that it is the result of the country’s aging pop­u­la­tion and the struc­ture of its indus­tri­al base.

If there is to be a diplo­mat­ic war over the issue, Ger­many wants its ground to be well-pre­pared.

Is it right to be wor­ried?

It cer­tain­ly is.

Germany’s trade sur­plus is absolute­ly mas­sive, and unprece­dent­ed in mod­ern indus­tri­al his­to­ry.

Last year it hit 8.9% of gross domes­tic prod­uct, and it is like­ly to break through 9% before the end of 2016. Glob­al­ly, it is sec­ond in size only to China’s, but giv­en that Ger­many is a far small­er coun­try, it is only fair to mea­sure it on a per capi­ta basis — and when you look at it that way, Germany’s sur­plus is sev­en times big­ger than China’s.

Even worse, Chi­na is a devel­op­ing coun­try — and those are gen­er­al­ly expect­ed to run sur­plus­es as they build up indus­tries through exports. Over time, those sur­plus­es come down, as domes­tic demand grows, and that process already seems to be under­way in Chi­na. In con­trast, Ger­many is a mature indus­tri­al econ­o­my, and yet its sur­plus keeps on grow­ing relent­less­ly.

In truth, Ger­many has become a machine for dump­ing defla­tion on the rest of the world.

Its sur­plus with the U.S. is par­tic­u­lar­ly acute. Accord­ing to U.S. gov­ern­ment fig­ures, the coun­try ran a deficit with Ger­many of $74 bil­lion in 2015. Go back to 2006 and that was only $47 bil­lion — it has almost dou­bled in a decade, and keeps on grow­ing.

Out of the total deficit for 2015 of $531 bil­lion, Ger­many account­ed for 14% of it, an impres­sive achieve­ment giv­en that Ger­many only accounts for 4.6% of the glob­al econ­o­my. If you are sit­ting in the White House, think­ing that you want to do some­thing about the deficit, then it makes a lot more sense to con­cen­trate on Ger­many than Mex­i­co or Chi­na.

That is not all.

Much of Germany’s trade sur­plus is clear­ly the result of cur­ren­cy manip­u­la­tion. The euro has depressed the real val­ue of the country’s exports, allow­ing it rack up those huge exports. You can argue about whether China’s cur­ren­cy is real­ly at its fair val­ue or not — but no one can real­ly dis­pute that Germany’s cur­ren­cy is way, way below what it would be if it still had the deutschemark.

Even more sig­nif­i­cant­ly, there would be some real gains from tak­ing action. When Trump talks of bring­ing back well-paid man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, it is hard to see how a trade war with Chi­na would help. Blue-col­lar work­ers in Michi­gan don’t real­ly want to assem­ble toys 12-hours a day on near-star­va­tion wages, which is what a lot of Chi­nese labor­ers do.

But Germany’s exports to the U.S. are high-end goods such as auto­mo­biles, which account for 12% of its exports by them­selves, fol­lowed by vehi­cle parts, chem­i­cals and aero­space. Those are pre­cise­ly the kind of well-paid jobs that Trump vot­ers thought their man would deliv­er for them.

So could Trump launch a trade war with Ger­many?

Under World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion rules, it would not be easy. It is very hard to impose uni­lat­er­al tar­iffs on one coun­try with­out rip­ping up the entire net­work. But that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t find a way. Volkswagen’s diesel scan­dal, for exam­ple, might be the per­fect excuse to slap puni­tive restric­tions on the Ger­man car indus­try. Like­wise, its med­ical exports can always be deemed “unsafe.”

If Amer­i­cans had to ditch their BMWs for Cadil­lacs and Lin­colns, that would cer­tain­ly cre­ate a few decent­ly paid jobs.

A trade war between the Unit­ed Sates and Ger­many is prob­a­bly the last thing it needs. But if Trump wants to make good on some of his pledges, restric­tions on Ger­man exports are the eas­i­est way to do that — and that means it can’t be ruled out.

2b. It is impos­si­ble to argue that there isn’t sys­tem­at­ic cur­ren­cy manip­u­la­tion tak­ing place when a coun­try is part of a mas­sive cur­ren­cy union that per­ma­nent­ly low­ers the val­ue of its cur­ren­cy. Ger­many has also engaged in sys­tem­at­ic wage sup­pres­sion specif­i­cal­ly intend­ed to encour­age exports. On a per capi­ta basis, Germany’s sur­plus is sev­en times larg­er than China’s and is cur­rent­ly only behind Chi­na and Japan (bare­ly) in the rank­ing of coun­tries run­ning sur­plus­es with the US.

The Ger­man gov­ern­ment is already hon­ing its coun­ter­ar­gu­ments against these crit­i­cism, and they basi­cal­ly amount to some­thing along the lines of ‘don’t blame us, all of the crit­i­cism aren’t real­ly very valid, and there noth­ing we can do about this…or intend to do about this’:

“Ger­many Pre­pares for Trade Con­flict with Trump” by Chris­t­ian Reier­mann; Der Spiegel Inter­na­tion­al ; 11/25/2016.

Germany’s cur­rent account sur­plus is high­er than ever before and the coun­try is con­cerned that it could become a tar­get of US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s ire as a result. Berlin is already mak­ing prepa­ra­tions for the pos­si­ble con­flict.

US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has long accused Chi­na of being a rogue state on the glob­al eco­nom­ic stage. He has blast­ed the coun­try for alleged­ly destroy­ing huge num­bers of Amer­i­can jobs with its exports and he says he is plan­ning puni­tive tar­iffs in retal­i­a­tion.

This kind of trade pol­i­cy blus­ter com­ing from the new­ly elect­ed pres­i­dent is gen­er­at­ing unease in Berlin. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment is con­cerned that Ger­many could soon fall into Trump’s sights as well.

There are plen­ty of rea­sons for that. Germany’s cur­rent account sur­plus has nev­er been as high as it is this year and nev­er before has that sur­plus rep­re­sent­ed such a sig­nif­i­cant share of the country’s gross domes­tic prod­uct. Mak­ing mat­ters worse is the fact that the US is the largest con­sumer of Ger­man exports.

Accord­ing to Ger­man gov­ern­ment cal­cu­la­tions from Octo­ber, the cur­rent account sur­plus is set to climb to 8.9 per­cent this year, which would be larg­er than ever before and high­er even than China’s. Such a sur­plus comes about when a coun­try pro­duces more than it con­sumes and receives more rev­enues from over­seas than it invests.

As high as it is, though, the cur­rent sur­plus is like­ly to con­tin­ue grow­ing. The recent fall in the euro’s val­ue rel­a­tive to the dol­lar fol­low­ing Trump’s elec­tion makes Ger­man prod­ucts and ser­vices even more com­pet­i­tive. And many econ­o­mists believe that the val­ue of the dol­lar will con­tin­ue to climb, which means that the val­ue of the euro against the dol­lar will shrink cor­re­spond­ing­ly. Their pre­dic­tions are based on recent indi­ca­tions that Trump’s announced eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus poli­cies will push up both America’s sov­er­eign debt load and its inter­est rates.

Experts at Germany’s cen­tral bank, the Bun­des­bank, and at the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank have cal­cu­lat­ed an even high­er cur­rent account sur­plus for Ger­many in a fore­cast to be released in two weeks. Accord­ing­ly, Germany’s sur­plus will exceed 9 per­cent for this year — and per­haps by quite a lot.

Nev­er before has a large, mature and pros­per­ous econ­o­my like Germany’s pro­duced high­er sur­plus­es. Such val­ues tend to be seen in emerg­ing economies, which lever­age their com­pet­i­tive advan­tages — such as low wages — to achieve pros­per­i­ty via exports.

Ongo­ing Con­flict

It seems like­ly that Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion will ulti­mate­ly turn its ire on Berlin and experts in both the Finance Min­istry and the Eco­nom­ics Min­istry are prepar­ing for a pos­si­ble new trans-Atlantic front in what has been an ongo­ing con­flict with its Euro­pean neigh­bors.

Indeed, Ger­many has had plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty in recent years to for­mu­late its coun­ter­ar­gu­ments. The Eco­nom­ics Min­istry, under the lead­er­ship of Merkel’s vice chan­cel­lor Sig­mar Gabriel, recent­ly pre­sent­ed a sweep­ing rejec­tion of the wide­spread crit­i­cism. The argu­ment holds that Germany’s sur­plus would be much low­er if both the euro and oil weren’t so cheap. Such tem­po­rary fac­tors “like­ly account for around a third of Germany’s pre­vail­ing cur­rent account sur­plus,” they wrote in a recent report. In oth­er words, once the euro gains strength and oil prices go up, the sur­plus will shrink on its own.

The Eco­nom­ics Min­istry report claims that con­ser­v­a­tive col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments play less of a role. Rel­a­tive­ly low wages make Ger­man prod­ucts more afford­able in addi­tion to sup­press­ing domes­tic demand, which reduces the num­ber of import­ed prod­ucts sold in the coun­try. But the report says that con­ser­v­a­tive wages in the past “have rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle effect on the cur­rent account bal­ance.” Plus, the report con­tin­ues, such effects wane as wages climb, as has been the case more recent­ly.

Oth­er caus­es, by con­trast, are longer last­ing. The report notes that an aging soci­ety, like Germany’s, tends to focus more on sav­ing mon­ey for retire­ment, which damp­ens con­sump­tion. Up to 3 per­cent of Germany’s sur­plus can be traced back to that phe­nom­e­non, the report claims. Fur­ther­more, Ger­mans often invest their saved mon­ey in the US, thus mak­ing mon­ey avail­able to the Amer­i­cans with which they can buy Ger­man prod­ucts.

Such cap­i­tal exports con­tin­ue to increase the cur­rent account sur­plus in sub­se­quent years as well. The mon­ey from Ger­many tends to be invest­ed in long-term secu­ri­ties such as com­pa­ny or sov­er­eign bonds. Yields from these invest­ments are then wired to Ger­many, which increas­es the sur­plus fur­ther. Around 2 per­cent of Germany’s cur­rent sur­plus is attrib­ut­able to this effect, accord­ing to the report.

Only about 1 per­cent of Germany’s cur­rent account sur­plus, the Ger­man Eco­nom­ics Min­istry report posits, is the result of eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy deci­sions over which the gov­ern­ment in Berlin has con­trol — by invest­ing more mon­ey in the country’s infra­struc­ture, for exam­ple, or low­er­ing tax­es. The report arrives at the con­clu­sion “that the vast major­i­ty of Germany’s cur­rent account sur­plus is the prod­uct of mar­ket econ­o­my process­es and deci­sions of mar­ket par­tic­i­pants, both domes­ti­cal­ly and abroad.”

In oth­er words, Ger­man politi­cians can’t do much about it. The ques­tion, how­ev­er, is if Trump will agree.

3. A devel­op­ment that may fac­tor into American/German trade rela­tions is the call to insti­tute a Ger­man-led all-EU army in response to Trump’s benign state­ments about Rus­sia and iso­la­tion­ist incli­na­tions.

Ger­many is mov­ing in the direc­tion of pur­chas­ing Amer­i­can C‑130 car­go air­craft to bol­ster the EU mil­i­tary build-up. If this dynam­ic accel­er­ates and the new, Ger­man-led all EU mil­i­tary pur­chas­es much Amer­i­can-made equip­ment, this may sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce Ger­many’s huge trade sur­plus with the U.S.

Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty may be that, with the Trumpenkampfver­ban­de’s incli­na­tion toward dis­tort­ing or out­right fal­si­fy­ing the news, deals such as the C‑130 pur­chase will be “weaponized” as pro­pa­gan­da by the “Ban­non Amt”–the admin­is­tra­tion’s media attack machine.

The hyp­ing of such deals would per­mit Ger­many to con­tin­ue its trade pol­i­cy vis a vis the U.S. in large­ly unin­ter­rupt­ed fash­ion.

“Ger­many Floats Plan to Buy New Lock­heed Trans­port Planes” by Sabine Siebold and Andrea Sha­lal; Reuters; 10/25/2016.

Ger­many is look­ing at buy­ing 4–6 new Lock­heed Mar­tin (LMT.N) C‑130J mil­i­tary troop trans­port planes and oper­at­ing them joint­ly with France, plac­ing a fur­ther dent in plans for a ful­ly Euro­pean air­lift capa­bil­i­ty fol­low­ing the delayed A400M.

Ger­man Defence Min­is­ter Ursu­la von der Leyen and her French coun­ter­part, Jean-Yves Le Dri­an, signed an agree­ment in Paris late on Tues­day to study a joint tac­ti­cal air­lift pool of C‑130J air­craft, the Ger­man defence min­istry said.

The lat­est ini­tia­tive in Fran­co-Ger­man defence co-oper­a­tion comes against the back­drop of tough nego­ti­a­tions with Air­bus Mil­i­tary (AIR.PA) over delays to the A400M, as well as grow­ing Euro­pean con­cerns over a pos­si­ble shift in UK defence pri­or­i­ties away from its con­ti­nen­tal part­ners fol­low­ing the Brex­it vote. . . .

4a.  Next, the pro­gram high­lights how Trump’s deci­sion to con­tin­ue his busi­ness under­tak­ings with his chil­dren as oper­a­tional sur­ro­gates fig­ures to affect for­eign and eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy.

In the Philip­pines, pres­i­dent Duterte has imple­ment­ed a well-doc­u­ment­ed vig­i­lante pro­gram, sum­mar­i­ly assas­si­nat­ing actu­al and accused drug traf­fick­ers with­out due process of law.

This pol­i­cy will help the val­ue of Trump’s invest­ment in the Philip­pines. In turn, the Philip­pines will affect Trump’s eco­nom­ic and diplo­mat­ic pol­i­cy toward Chi­na.

Pres­i­dent Duterte recent­ly named the pri­ma­ry Trump fam­i­ly busi­ness proxy in the nation (Jose E.B. Anto­nio), to be the spe­cial gov­ern­ment enjoy to the Unit­ed States.

“ . . . . So, under the deal, Trump’s chil­dren will be paid mil­lions of dol­lars through­out their father’s pres­i­den­cy by Jose E.B. Anto­nio, the head of Cen­tu­ry Prop­er­ties.

Duterte recent­ly named Anto­nio the spe­cial gov­ern­ment envoy to the Unit­ed States. The con­flicts here could not be more trou­bling or more bla­tant: Pres­i­dent Trump will be dis­cussing U.S. pol­i­cy in South­east Asia with one of his (or his children’s) busi­ness part­ners, a man who is the offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a for­eign leader who likens him­self to Hitler. Also note that the Trump fam­i­ly has an enor­mous finan­cial inter­est in Duterte’s dead­ly cam­paign: Root­ing out crime in the Philip­pines is good for the real estate val­ues. . . .  Duterte recent­ly named Anto­nio the spe­cial gov­ern­ment envoy to the Unit­ed States. The con­flicts here could not be more trou­bling or more bla­tant: Pres­i­dent Trump will be dis­cussing U.S. pol­i­cy in South­east Asia with one of his (or his children’s) busi­ness part­ners, a man who is the offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a for­eign leader who likens him­self to Hitler. Also note that the Trump fam­i­ly has an enor­mous finan­cial inter­est in Duterte’s dead­ly cam­paign: Root­ing out crime in the Philip­pines is good for the real estate val­ues. . . . .”

The devel­op­er of the Trump Tow­er of the Philip­pines was just appoint­ed as the spe­cial gov­ern­ment envoy to the Unit­ed States.

“How Don­ald Trump’s Busi­ness Ties Are Already Jeop­ar­diz­ing U.S. Inter­ests” by Kurt Eichen­wald; Newsweek; 12/13/2016.

Don­ald Trump hasn’t been sworn in yet, but he is already mak­ing deci­sions and issu­ing state­ments to world lead­ers that rad­i­cal­ly depart from Amer­i­can for­eign pol­i­cy, all to the ben­e­fit of his family’s cor­po­rate empire. Because of this, the next pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States is already vul­ner­a­ble to undue influ­ence by oth­er nations, includ­ing through bribery and even black­mail.

Giv­en the vast scope of the clash­es between the Trumps’ exten­sive busi­ness deal­ings and the inter­ests of Amer­i­ca, the pres­i­dent-elect vowed dur­ing the cam­paign to elim­i­nate poten­tial con­flicts by sev­er­ing ties to his company—yet, with only weeks to go until he takes the oath of office, he hasn’t laid out a cred­i­ble plan. Trump’s sole sug­ges­tion to date—a “blind trust” run by his children—would not elim­i­nate the con­flicts, giv­en that the mon­ey gen­er­at­ed would still go to his fam­i­ly. More­over, such a trust would be any­thing but blind: If Trump Tow­er Moscow goes under con­struc­tion, Trump will see it while in Rus­sia and know that his kids are mak­ing mil­lions of dol­lars from it. That is why for­eign lead­ers hop­ing to cur­ry favor will do every­thing they can to help Trump’s fam­i­ly erect more build­ings, sell more jew­el­ry and make mon­ey through any means pos­si­ble. Even if the fam­i­ly steps away from its com­pa­ny while Trump is pres­i­dent, every nation on Earth will know that doing busi­ness with the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion will one day ben­e­fit the fam­i­ly. The only way to elim­i­nate the conflicts—sell the com­pa­ny, divvy up the proceeds—has been reject­ed by Trump, whose tran­si­tion team refused to respond to any ques­tions from Newsweek for this arti­cle.

Some of the most egre­gious con­flicts that have emerged involve coun­tries in Asia and its sub­re­gions, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Philip­pines. Glob­al pol­i­cy on the Philip­pines has been fraught with ten­sion since the elec­tion in May of Rodri­go Duterte as the country’s pres­i­dent. Duterte, who boast­ed to vot­ers dur­ing the cam­paign that he had shot a fel­low law school stu­dent for teas­ing him, has cham­pi­oned the killing of sus­pect­ed crim­i­nals and street chil­dren by vig­i­lante death squads. In 2015, he said that if he became pres­i­dent, up to 100,000 peo­ple sus­pect­ed of links to ille­gal drugs could be killed. Just months after his elec­tion, Duterte said he was eager to lead a geno­cide of up to 3 mil­lion drug addicts. “I’d be hap­py to slaugh­ter them,” he said. “At least if Ger­many had Hitler, the Philip­pines would have [me].” And in Sep­tem­ber, an admit­ted hit man tes­ti­fied to a Sen­ate com­mit­tee in the Philip­pines that Duterte presided over a killing cam­paign when he was may­or of Davao City.

As pres­i­dent, Duterte rapid­ly showed he was lit­tle con­cerned with the legal pro­tec­tions afford­ed to Fil­ipinos sus­pect­ed of crimes. Dur­ing his first three months in office, 850 Fil­ipinos were killed by death squads, appar­ent­ly on lit­tle more than the sus­pi­cion that they were drug users and deal­ers. Since then, the esti­mat­ed death toll has climbed to 4,500. The car­nage has been con­demned through­out the West­ern world; the Par­lia­ment of the Euro­pean Union and two Unit­ed Nations human rights experts have urged Duterte to end the mas­sacre. One of the experts even appeared to sug­gest that Duterte and his gov­ern­ment could be held legal­ly account­able for com­mit­ting mass mur­der in vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al law. “Claims to fight illic­it drug trade do not absolve the gov­ern­ment from its inter­na­tion­al legal oblig­a­tions and do not shield state actors or oth­ers from respon­si­bil­i­ty for ille­gal killings,” said Agnes Calla­mard, the U.N. spe­cial rap­por­teur on sum­ma­ry exe­cu­tions. In response to the denun­ci­a­tions, Duterte lashed out at the Unit­ed States, threat­en­ing to align his coun­try more with Chi­na.

Despite uni­ver­sal con­dem­na­tion of the ongo­ing slaugh­ter of Fil­ipinos, Trump sig­naled his approval of Duterte’s poli­cies dur­ing a phone call on Decem­ber 2. Accord­ing to Duterte—an account that has gone uncon­test­ed by Trump—the pres­i­dent-elect endorsed his tac­tics as “the right way.” Duterte added: “[Trump] was wish­ing me suc­cess in my cam­paign against the drug prob­lem.” (He also said Trump invit­ed him to the White House, a cour­tesy not yet extend­ed to There­sa May, the prime min­is­ter of Britain, America’s most impor­tant strate­gic ally.)

The Trump tran­si­tion team did not respond to Newsweek when asked if the pres­i­dent-elect had intend­ed to sig­nal his approval of the car­nage in the Philip­pines; did not believe the con­clu­sions of the U.N. and West­ern nations that Duterte ordered the killings; or sim­ply did not under­stand the mag­ni­tude of his com­ments. One thing, how­ev­er, is clear: The Trump fam­i­ly has an enor­mous finan­cial inter­est in keep­ing Duterte hap­py. Trump Tow­er at Cen­tu­ry City in Makati, Philip­pines, is on the verge of com­ple­tion, with poten­tial buy­ers hav­ing placed deposits on at least 94 per­cent of the con­do­mini­ums, accord­ing to Cen­tu­ry Prop­er­ties, the Trump Organization’s busi­ness part­ner there. Dur­ing the U.S. pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Trump’s sons Don­ald Jr. and Eric trav­eled to Makati to shov­el some dirt in a cer­e­mo­ny to cel­e­brate the struc­tur­al com­ple­tion of the build­ing; a pho­to­graph of the two men shov­el­ing along­side top Cen­tu­ry Prop­er­ties exec­u­tives was post­ed on the building’s web­site. (On that same web­site, a line of jew­el­ry by Trump’s daugh­ter Ivan­ka is offered for sale, and it is expect­ed to be avail­able for pur­chase at the $150 mil­lion prop­er­ty.) As with almost every prop­er­ty with Trump’s name on it built over the past decade, his com­pa­ny is not the devel­op­er; it mere­ly sold its name to Cen­tu­ry Prop­er­ties to use on the build­ing. Although details of the trans­ac­tion are not pub­lic, con­tracts for oth­er Trump brand­ing deals reviewed by Newsweek show that they require a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar up-front pay­ment as well as up to 25 per­cent of the developer’s rev­enue, year after year. So, under the deal, Trump’s chil­dren will be paid mil­lions of dol­lars through­out their father’s pres­i­den­cy by Jose E.B. Anto­nio, the head of Cen­tu­ry Prop­er­ties.

Duterte recent­ly named Anto­nio the spe­cial gov­ern­ment envoy to the Unit­ed States. The con­flicts here could not be more trou­bling or more bla­tant: Pres­i­dent Trump will be dis­cussing U.S. pol­i­cy in South­east Asia with one of his (or his children’s) busi­ness part­ners, a man who is the offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a for­eign leader who likens him­self to Hitler. Also note that the Trump fam­i­ly has an enor­mous finan­cial inter­est in Duterte’s dead­ly cam­paign: Root­ing out crime in the Philip­pines is good for the real estate val­ues.

The Trump family’s deal­ings in the Philip­pines will set off a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis on the first day of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy, if any­one in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment decides to abide by the law. There is seri­ous debate as to whether Trump will be vio­lat­ing the Constitution’s Emol­u­ments Clause—which pro­hibits office hold­ers from accept­ing gifts from for­eign states—since the major­i­ty of his company’s busi­ness is with oth­er cor­po­ra­tions and devel­op­ers. That is not the case in the Philip­pines. The man writ­ing mil­lions of dol­lars’ worth of checks to the Trump fam­i­ly is the Duterte government’s spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Unit­ed States. To argue that these pay­ments will be con­sti­tu­tion­al if they are paid to the Trump chil­dren, and not to Trump per­son­al­ly, is absurd. This con­flict demands con­gres­sion­al hear­ings, and could be an impeach­able offense.

This unyield­ing prin­ci­ple that for­eign pow­ers can­not be allowed to hold sway over a pres­i­dent dates back to the Found­ing Fathers. In Fed­er­al­ist 68, Alexan­der Hamil­ton wrote of the dan­gers of such a sce­nario. “Noth­ing was more to be desired than that every prac­ti­ca­ble obsta­cle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and cor­rup­tion,” he wrote in ref­er­ence to the pow­ers bestowed in the Con­sti­tu­tion. “These most dead­ly adver­saries of repub­li­can gov­ern­ment might nat­u­ral­ly have been expect­ed to make their approach­es from more than one quar­ter, but chiefly from the desire in for­eign pow­ers to gain an improp­er ascen­dant in our coun­cils.”

Trump’s con­flicts of inter­est in the Philip­pines can­not be resolved so long as any­one in his fam­i­ly has an inter­est in the build­ing there. Even if his busi­ness part­ner, Anto­nio, is removed as Duterte’s spe­cial envoy, Trump won’t sim­ply for­get that the Makati build­ing exists, that the author­i­tar­i­an Philip­pine pres­i­dent has the pow­er to dam­age the Trump family’s finan­cial inter­ests there and that the pro­tec­tion of what is now a high-pro­file tar­get for attacks is in Duterte’s hands. (In the past three years, there have been nine strikes in the Philip­pines. The most recent, in Sep­tem­ber, was a bomb­ing that killed 15 peo­ple and injured 70; in response, Duterte declared that the coun­try was in a “state of law­less­ness” and ordered police and the mil­i­tary to search all cars and cit­i­zens at check­points.)

The result of all this is that Duterte has extra­or­di­nary lever­age against Trump, and no one will know what impact that might have on the future president’s deci­sion-mak­ing. For exam­ple, will Trump ignore the promis­es he made dur­ing the cam­paign on immi­gra­tion when it comes to the Philip­pines, giv­en the dev­as­tat­ing impact it could have on the econ­o­my there?

A report by the research divi­sion of Nomu­ra Secu­ri­ties con­clud­ed that, under Trump’s declared poli­cies, “the Philip­pines’ econ­o­my stands to lose the most” of all coun­tries in South­east Asia. And because many Fil­ipino guest labor­ers in the Unit­ed States are undoc­u­ment­ed, the report said that a tight­en­ing of immi­gra­tion poli­cies could lead to few­er migrant work­ers from that coun­try. “This could impact remit­tances inflows back to the Philip­pines,” the report says. “The U.S. is host to 34.5 per­cent of the total over­seas Fil­ipino pop­u­la­tion, and we esti­mate accounts for about 31 per­cent of total work­er remit­tances.” Accord­ing to the Philip­pine Sta­tis­tics Author­i­ty, remit­tances from the Unit­ed States totaled almost $6 bil­lion in the first sev­en months of 2016. Trans­la­tion: Under Trump’s immi­gra­tion poli­cies, huge sup­ports for the Fil­ipino econ­o­my could col­lapse. On Novem­ber 15, Moody’s announced that Trump’s poli­cies would neg­a­tive­ly affect the Philippines’s cred­it rat­ing, which could thwart Duterte from keep­ing his cam­paign promis­es of tax cuts and greater spend­ing on infra­struc­ture. Duterte could eas­i­ly pun­ish Trump for under­min­ing his domes­tic agen­da in the Philip­pines by tak­ing actions against the family’s busi­ness inter­ests. And Trump knows that any­thing he does to alien­ate Duterte or harm the Philip­pine econ­o­my could threat­en his family’s wealth.

Fol­low the Falling Domi­noes

Trump also has seri­ous con­flicts of inter­est regard­ing Chi­na. Part of this, once again, traces from the Philip­pines. Trump has vowed to label Chi­na a “cur­ren­cy manip­u­la­tor” that arti­fi­cial­ly dri­ves down the val­ue of the ren­min­bi, which would make Chi­nese goods cheap­er to import. That would allow the Unit­ed States to impose duties on Chi­nese imports to off­set any cur­ren­cy manip­u­la­tion.

Chi­na is one of the top two export des­ti­na­tions for the Philip­pines, with about 55 per­cent of that trade com­ing from the elec­tron­ics busi­ness, accord­ing to the Philip­pines Sta­tis­tics Author­i­ty. Chi­na then uses a large por­tion of those Philip­pines imports for the man­u­fac­ture of prod­ucts sold to the Unit­ed States. Like an inter­na­tion­al trade ver­sion of top­pling domi­noes, Amer­i­can rules that decrease imports into the Unit­ed States will, in turn, slam the largest Philip­pines export busi­ness, roil­ing that country’s econ­o­my. The last domi­no hits Trump Tow­er at Cen­tu­ry City: The glob­al prop­er­ty con­sul­tan­cy ser­vices com­pa­ny CB Richard Ellis has attrib­uted increased demand for lux­u­ry con­do­mini­ums in the Philip­pines to the country’s grow­ing econ­o­my. Impose duties on Chi­nese imports to Amer­i­ca today and Trump Tow­er in the Philip­pines could fall into bank­rupt­cy soon after, cost­ing the president’s chil­dren mil­lions of dol­lars.

So if Trump revers­es his promise to have Chi­na declared a cur­ren­cy manip­u­la­tor on day one of his pres­i­den­cy, would it be because some­one explained to him that the ren­min­bi has been going up in val­ue over the past 12 months or because he now sees the pos­si­bly dire impli­ca­tions to the Amer­i­can econ­o­my from a trade war with Chi­na? Or would it be because he wants his kids’ busi­ness in the Philip­pines to pros­per? No one but Don­ald Trump will ever know the truth.

There’s a sim­i­lar­ly dis­turb­ing conun­drum in Tai­wan. On Decem­ber 2, Trump—with no con­sul­ta­tion with State Depart­ment spe­cial­ists on the del­i­cate rela­tions between Amer­i­can and China—upended almost 40 years of U.S. pol­i­cy by tak­ing a phone call from the pres­i­dent of Tai­wan, which broke away from the main­land in 1949. The ques­tion of whether Tai­wan is an inde­pen­dent coun­try or part of Chi­na proved to be a major diplo­mat­ic chal­lenge after U.S. Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon nor­mal­ized rela­tions with Chi­na. To avoid con­flict, the Unit­ed States adopt­ed what is called the “One Chi­na” pol­i­cy, under which the U.S. main­tains unof­fi­cial rela­tions with Tai­wan but does not con­sid­er it to be its own coun­try. Because Amer­i­ca does not rec­og­nize Tai­wan as its own polit­i­cal enti­ty, all Amer­i­can lead­ers since Ronald Rea­gan have refused to speak to its pres­i­dent. This month, Trump pushed his posi­tion even fur­ther, say­ing he saw no rea­son to be bound by the One Chi­na pol­i­cy that has smoothed Sino-Amer­i­can rela­tions and instead advo­cat­ing using it as a bar­gain­ing chip in trade and oth­er nego­ti­a­tions.

If Trump want­ed to reverse decades of pol­i­cy fol­lowed by both Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dents, he should have wait­ed until after his inau­gu­ra­tion; pres­i­dents-elect are not sup­posed to inter­fere in for­eign pol­i­cy.

Why did he not wait? Only Trump knows, but alle­ga­tions have already emerged that the deci­sion may have been influ­enced by his family’s finan­cial inter­ests. Cheng Wen-tsan, may­or of Taoyuan, Tai­wan, told The Chi­na Times that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Trump’s com­pa­ny named Chen Sit­ing, who is also known as Char­lyne Chen, had vis­it­ed to express the family’s inter­est in build­ing a hotel near the city’s air­port. Accord­ing to the may­or, Chen also said that Eric Trump would be vis­it­ing the island by the end of the year. Since that report, the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion has stat­ed that no trips to Tai­wan were autho­rized for the hotels divi­sion and that no con­ver­sa­tions were under­way about such a project. How­ev­er, on Novem­ber 24, Chen told For­mosa Tele­vi­sion that she had assist­ed the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion in the past to sell some of its prop­er­ties in Las Vegas to buy­ers in Tai­wan and Shang­hai. As first report­ed in The New York Times, Anne-Marie Donoghue, who iden­ti­fies her­self on her Face­book page as a Trump Hotels Asia sales direc­tor, post­ed a pho­to from a vis­it to Tai­wan in Octo­ber, which she described as a “work trip”; this was one month after the may­or of Taoyuan said he met with Chen.

Final­ly, there is the ques­tion of whether the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion will attempt any deals in Chi­na dur­ing the next four years. In 2011, Eric Trump pub­licly stat­ed that the fam­i­ly com­pa­ny planned to expand its brand into Chi­na after the com­ple­tion of the Mani­la project. That build­ing is almost fin­ished, mean­ing the Chi­nese could well be expect­ing con­tacts from the Trump fam­i­ly soon. What Trump and his tran­si­tion team don’t seem to under­stand is that it does not mat­ter whether Siting’s trip was autho­rized, whether Donoghue was in atten­dance, whether there are dis­cus­sions going on now or whether con­tracts are about to be signed. Just the sus­pi­cion that Trump might re-estab­lish for­mal rela­tions with Tai­wan for the finan­cial ben­e­fit of his children—or might use it as a bar­gain­ing chip for land­ing the kind of devel­op­ment deals on the main­land that Eric Trump discussed—will now be part of the for­eign pol­i­cy cal­cu­la­tions in Bei­jing, as offi­cials there attempt to deal with the new U.S. pres­i­dent.

Extra­di­tion Swap?

The con­flicts between the com­mer­cial inter­ests of the Trump fam­i­ly and U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy extend beyond the many finan­cial ben­e­fits for the next pres­i­dent and his chil­dren. Already, there is a sit­u­a­tion in which the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States could be black­mailed by a for­eign pow­er through pres­sure relat­ed to his family’s busi­ness entan­gle­ments.

In 2008, the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion struck a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar brand­ing deal with the Dogan Group, a large cor­po­ra­tion named after its influ­en­tial fam­i­ly, for a two-tow­er com­plex in Istan­bul. In 2012, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan presided over the open­ing cer­e­monies and met with Trump. But in June of this year, Erdo­gan called for the Trump name to be removed from the com­plex because of his anti-Mus­lim rhetoric; the Turk­ish pres­i­dent also said pre­sid­ing over the ded­i­ca­tion had been a ter­ri­ble mis­take. Erdo­gan lat­er told asso­ciates he intend­ed to impede America’s use of a crit­i­cal Air Force base in Turkey should Trump win the pres­i­den­cy, a Mid­dle East­ern financier with con­tacts inside the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment told Newsweek. The financier spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to avoid jeop­ar­diz­ing rela­tions with his offi­cial con­tacts.

In July, mem­bers of the Turk­ish mil­i­tary attempt­ed a coup. Erdo­gan crushed the plot­ters, and his gov­ern­ment has arrest­ed more than 36,000 sus­pect­ed par­tic­i­pants and shut down 17 media out­lets. The pri­ma­ry cul­prit, Erdo­gan declared almost imme­di­ate­ly, was Fethul­lah Gülen, a 77-year-old Mus­lim spir­i­tu­al leader who has lived in Pennsylvania’s Poconos region for many years. Erdo­gan demand­ed that the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion extra­dite Gülen to face charges relat­ed to the coup.

Gülen and Erdo­gan were allies until 2013, the year a series of cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tions erupt­ed regard­ing gov­ern­ment offi­cials accused of engag­ing in a “gas for gold” scheme with Iran; Erdo­gan claimed the man with whom he once shared com­mon goals was the dri­ving force behind the inquiries, which he called an attempt­ed “civil­ian coup.” Erdo­gan has placed Gülen on country’s list of most-want­ed ter­ror­ists, but the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion has not act­ed on the extra­di­tion request, and it has told the Turks they would have to pro­duce proof of Gülen’s involve­ment in the coup attempt before he could be sent to Ankara, the Turk­ish cap­i­tal.

Enter Don­ald Trump. The day of the U.S. elec­tion, the news site The Hill pub­lished an arti­cle by Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Michael T. Fly­nn, who has since been named as Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er. “The forces of rad­i­cal Islam derive their ide­ol­o­gy from rad­i­cal cler­ics like Gülen, who is run­ning a scam,” Fly­nn wrote. “We should not pro­vide him safe haven…. It is imper­a­tive that we remem­ber who our real friends are.” (Fly­nn, who runs a con­sult­ing firm hired by a com­pa­ny with links to the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, seems unaware that rad­i­cal Islam­ic groups like the Islam­ic State, or ISIS, are more like­ly to decap­i­tate some­one like Gülen.)

That arti­cle, accord­ing to the financier with con­tacts in the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, led Erdo­gan and his asso­ciates to believe a Trump admin­is­tra­tion would not demand more evi­dence to jus­ti­fy deport­ing Gülen. So, almost imme­di­ate­ly, Erdo­gan stopped con­demn­ing Trump and instead voiced sup­port for him. The day after the U.S. elec­tion, Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Binali Yildirim issued a state­ment direct­ly link­ing his country’s good wish­es for Trump with its desire to get Gülen back. “We con­grat­u­late Mr. Trump. I am open­ly call­ing on the new pres­i­dent from here about the urgent extra­di­tion of Fethul­lah Gülen, the mas­ter­mind, execu­tor and per­pe­tra­tor of the heinous July 15 coup attempt, who lives on U.S. soil.”

In a tele­phone call that same day with Erdo­gan, Trump passed on com­pli­ments to the Turk­ish pres­i­dent from a senior offi­cial with his company’s busi­ness part­ner on the Istan­bul project, whom the pres­i­dent-elect was report­ed to have called “a close friend.” The offi­cial, Mehmet Ali Yal­cindag, is the son-in-law of Dogan Hold­ing own­er Aydin Dogan and was instru­men­tal in the devel­op­ment of the Trump com­plex in Turkey. That Trump deliv­ered mes­sages from his busi­ness part­ner to Erdo­gan has been report­ed in numer­ous media out­lets in Turkey, includ­ing some close­ly tied to the gov­ern­ment, and has not been denied by Turk­ish offi­cials or the Trump tran­si­tion team.

Accord­ing to the Mid­dle East­ern financier with con­tacts in the Erdo­gan admin­is­tra­tion, Trump’s casu­al praise of a mem­ber of the Dogan fam­i­ly prompt­ed Erdo­gan to believe this rela­tion­ship might give him lever­age over the pres­i­dent-elect. In the past, Erdo­gan has placed enor­mous pres­sure on the Dogan Group, which owns media oper­a­tions that have been crit­i­cal of him, by impos­ing a $2.5 bil­lion tax fine and call­ing for sup­port­ers to boy­cott its news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion sta­tions. Then, just weeks after hear­ing Trump’s kind words about his Dogan busi­ness part­ner, Erdo­gan lashed out at the Turk­ish com­pa­ny again.

On Decem­ber 1, author­i­ties detained Bar­baros Muratogl, a 28-year vet­er­an of Dogan who was the company’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Ankara. His alleged crime? Main­tain­ing links to the move­ment led by Gülen, thus con­nect­ing the Dogan exec­u­tive to the attempt­ed coup. In response, Dogan shares fell 8.6 per­cent. (The pur­port­ed evi­dence against Muratogl: pub­lic accu­sa­tions from an edi­tor at a news­pa­per owned by a com­pa­ny that com­petes with Dogan.)

Once again, fol­low the domi­noes as they tip over. Erdo­gan is frus­trat­ed in his efforts to grab Gülen; Trump prais­es a Turk­ish exec­u­tive who works with his busi­ness part­ner there, Dogan. A few weeks lat­er, a senior Dogan exec­u­tive is detained on thread­bare alle­ga­tions. If Erdogan’s gov­ern­ment puts more pres­sure on the com­pa­ny that’s pay­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to Trump and his chil­dren, rev­enue flow­ing from the tow­er com­plex in Istan­bul could be cut off. That means Erdo­gan has lever­age with Trump, who will soon have the pow­er to get Gülen extra­dit­ed. The financier with con­tacts in the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment explained the dynam­ic to Newsweek: “Erdo­gan has some­thing he believes Trump wants, and Trump has some­one Erdo­gan des­per­ate­ly wants.”

Who Dares Say No to Ivan­ka?

With U.S. secu­ri­ty and for­eign pol­i­cy already jeop­ar­dized by the president-elect’s con­flicts, a few hor­ri­fy­ing instances of poten­tial cor­rup­tion and abuse of pow­er seem quaint by com­par­i­son. For exam­ple, in a stun­ning breach of pro­to­col, Ivan­ka Trump—who sup­pos­ed­ly will be on the oth­er side of the divid­ing line between the Trump busi­ness­es and the Trump presidency—sat in on her father’s first meet­ing with Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe short­ly after the elec­tion. At the same time, offi­cials with her cloth­ing com­pa­ny were work­ing on a licens­ing agree­ment with Sanei Inter­na­tion­al. The largest share­hold­er of Sanei’s par­ent com­pa­ny is the Devel­op­ment Bank of Japan, which is whol­ly owned by the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment head­ed by Abe.

Giv­en the extra­or­di­nary pow­er Don­ald Trump now wields, it’s obvi­ous that for­eign gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions can eas­i­ly cur­ry favor, bribe or even black­mail him, which is why the Found­ing Fathers so feared out­side influ­ences on the Exec­u­tive Branch. Once he’s pres­i­dent, Trump does not need to ask for cash to be deliv­ered to his pock­ets or to those of his chil­dren to cross the line into illic­it activities—and pos­si­bly impeach­able offens­es. Macri of Argenti­na can­not know if his coun­try will be pun­ished by the Trump White House if the remain­ing per­mits for that Buenos Aires project are denied. Abe of Japan does not know if a gov­ern­ment holdup of Ivan­ka Trump’s deal with Sanei Inter­na­tion­al will lead her impul­sive father to call for an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary with­draw­al from his coun­try. Erdo­gan of Turkey has told asso­ciates he believes he must keep pres­sure on Trump’s busi­ness part­ner there to essen­tial­ly black­mail the pres­i­dent into extra­dit­ing a polit­i­cal ene­my. Duterte of the Philip­pines believes he has received approval from the pres­i­dent-elect to, at best, abide by or, at worst, con­tin­ue to autho­rize the fren­zied slaugh­ter of drug users and deal­ers, and knows he can harm the Trump fam­i­ly if the pres­i­dent ever angers him.

Amer­i­ca is on the precipice of an unprece­dent­ed threat, as allies and ene­mies alike cal­cu­late whether they are deal­ing with a pres­i­dent they can please mere­ly by enrich­ing his chil­dren. Pres­i­dent-elect Trump has a mon­u­men­tal choice before him: He can, as he promised dur­ing the cam­paign, pro­tect the sanc­ti­ty of the presidency—which he can do only by sell­ing his com­pa­ny. Or he can remain cor­rupt­ed by the con­flicts between his country’s future and his family’s for­tune.

On Decem­ber 1, author­i­ties detained Bar­baros Muratogl, a 28-year vet­er­an of Dogan who was the company’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Ankara. His alleged crime? Main­tain­ing links to the move­ment led by Gülen, thus con­nect­ing the Dogan exec­u­tive to the attempt­ed coup. In response, Dogan shares fell 8.6 per­cent. (The pur­port­ed evi­dence against Muratogl: pub­lic accu­sa­tions from an edi­tor at a news­pa­per owned by a com­pa­ny that com­petes with Dogan.)

Once again, fol­low the domi­noes as they tip over. Erdo­gan is frus­trat­ed in his efforts to grab Gülen; Trump prais­es a Turk­ish exec­u­tive who works with his busi­ness part­ner there, Dogan. A few weeks lat­er, a senior Dogan exec­u­tive is detained on thread­bare alle­ga­tions. If Erdogan’s gov­ern­ment puts more pres­sure on the com­pa­ny that’s pay­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to Trump and his chil­dren, rev­enue flow­ing from the tow­er com­plex in Istan­bul could be cut off. That means Erdo­gan has lever­age with Trump, who will soon have the pow­er to get Gülen extra­dit­ed. The financier with con­tacts in the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment explained the dynam­ic to Newsweek: “Erdo­gan has some­thing he believes Trump wants, and Trump has some­one Erdo­gan des­per­ate­ly wants.”

4b. In India, Trump’s busi­ness con­tacts encom­pass peo­ple from Naren­dara Mod­i’s BJP.

“World of Poten­tial Con­flict For a Devel­op­er Pres­i­dent” Richard C. Pad­dock, Eric Lip­ton, Ellen Bar­ry, Rod Nord­land, Dan­ny Hakim and Simon Romero; The New York Times ; 11/27/2016.

. . . . Mr. Trump’s part­ner in the Trump Tow­er Mum­bai is the Lod­ha Group, found­ed by Man­gal Prab­hat Lod­ha, vice pres­i­dent of the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty — cur­rent­ly the gov­ern­ing par­ty in Par­lia­ment — in Maha­rash­tra State. The Lod­ha Group has already nego­ti­at­ed with the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment; it announced a land­mark pur­chase of a prop­er­ty, known as the Wash­ing­ton House, on tony Alta­mount Road, from the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment for 3.75 bil­lion rupees, almost $70 mil­lion.

His part­ner in an office com­plex in Gur­gaon, near New Del­hi, is IREO, whose man­ag­ing direc­tor, Lalit Goy­al, is the broth­er-in-law of a Bharatiya Jana­ta mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Sud­han­shu Mit­tal. Mr. Mit­tal, in an inter­view, has denied hav­ing any con­nec­tion with the real estate com­pa­ny. . . .

4c. Some­one we will be exam­in­ing at great length in shows to come is Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tul­si Gab­bard (D‑Hawaii). A major sup­port­er of Bernie Sanders dur­ing the cam­paign, Gab­bard was inter­viewed for a cab­i­net posi­tion.

Gab­bard is viewed pos­i­tive­ly by Steve Ban­non, Trump’s top advis­er and “Alt-Right” king­pin.

“Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep. Tul­si Gab­bard ‘Under Seri­ous Con­sid­er­a­tion’ for Trump Cab­i­net”; ABC News; 11/21/2016.

. . . . Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep. Tul­si Gab­bard, a high-pro­file Bernie Sanders sup­port­er dur­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­maries, is “under seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion” for var­i­ous Cab­i­net posi­tions in Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion, accord­ing to a senior offi­cial on the tran­si­tion team.

Accord­ing to the offi­cial, the 35-year-old Hawaii con­gress­woman is being looked as a can­di­date for sec­re­tary of state, sec­re­tary of defense or Unit­ed Nations ambas­sador. If select­ed, Gab­bard will be the first woman as well as the youngest pick for Trump’s Cab­i­net.

She met with him this morn­ing in his New York City offices at Trump Tow­er. The Trump tran­si­tion source said that their sit-down was a ‘ter­rif­ic meet­ing’ and that the Trump team sees her as very impres­sive. . . .

4d. Tul­si Gab­bard met with Don­ald Trump to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble cab­i­net appoint­ment.

“Don­ald Trump Met with Bernie Sanders Sup­port­er Tul­si Gab­bard to Dis­cuss Syr­ia” by Alex Daugh­er­ty; McClatchy DC ; 11/21/2016.

” . . . .  Stephen Ban­non, Trump’s chief strate­gist, report­ed­ly likes Gab­bard because of her stance on guns, refugees and Islam­ic extrem­ism along with her abil­i­ty to invoke strong anti-estab­lish­ment pop­ulist sen­ti­ment on the left. . . .”

4e. Tul­si Gab­bard is a sup­port­er of Modi, net­work­ing with Mod­i’s BJP and help­ing to plan Mod­i’s U.S. vis­it.

“Tul­si Gab­bard, US Con­gress­woman Calls on Modi” [IANS]; Times of India; 9/29/2014.

. . . . Tul­si Gab­bard, the first Hin­du Amer­i­can in the US Con­gress, called on vis­it­ing Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi here Sun­day and pre­sent­ed him with a gin­ger flower gar­land from Hawaii.

Gab­bard, a strong sup­port­er of Modi, is a Demo­c­rat Con­gress­woman from Hawaii.

The 33-year-old Gab­bard is the first prac­tis­ing Hin­du Amer­i­can in the Con­gress who took her oath on the Bhag­wad Gita.

She had spo­ken to Modi after his vic­to­ry in the Indi­an gen­er­al elec­tions and con­grat­u­lat­ed him and the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP).

She has also been involved in the plan­ning of Modi’s US vis­it and had last month met two BJP lead­ers Vijay Jol­ly and MP Rajyavard­han Rathore in that con­nec­tion.

Gab­bard has always main­tained that it was a “great blun­der” by the US gov­ern­ment to have denied a visa to Modi in the wake of the 2002 Gujarat riots. . . .

4f. Gab­bard, it turns out, is also net­worked with the RSS, the fas­cist par­ty for which the BJP serves as a polit­i­cal catspaw.

“Tul­si Gab­bard, the First Hin­du in U.S. Con­gress, on Modi, Hin­duism, and Link­ing Islam to Ter­ror” by Manu Bal­achan­dran; Quartz (India); 3/02/2016.

. . . . Speak­ing at a fundrais­ing event for the BJP in August 2014 . . . Gab­bard said that Modi’s elec­tion vic­to­ry was only pos­si­ble because “peo­ple stood up, one by one by one by one, and said we will demand that this change occurs.” . . . Gab­bard was treat­ed as roy­al­ty on her vis­it to India last year. As she hob­nobbed with the Indi­an prime min­is­ter and for­eign min­is­ter among oth­ers, The Tele­graph, a Kolkata-based news­pa­per, called her “the Sangh’s mas­cot” in the US. The Sangh, a moniker for the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS), is a right-wing hin­dut­va organ­i­sa­tion and the ide­o­log­i­cal guardian of the BJP par­ty that rules India now. . . .

 

Discussion

6 comments for “FTR #938 The Trumpenkampfverbande, Part 12: Settling In, Part 2 (The Underground Reich Comes Into Plain View, Part 5)”

  1. I final­ly under­stand.

    I’m not into any reli­gion but in this arti­cle

    http://shoebat.com/2016/02/24/94032/

    I found a Cliff­s­Notes ver­sion of every­thing you’ve been say­ing. After­wards I read this arti­cle

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/07/germany-is-rekindling-its-bromance-with-russia/

    and chap­ters 12 and 13 of “Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin” by T.H. Tetens and every­thing was made per­fect­ly clear.

    “Those who do not weep, do not see.”
    ― Vic­tor Hugo, Les Mis­érables

    Posted by Zodi Prest | December 16, 2016, 4:53 pm
  2. With Don­ald Trump now pub­licly feud­ing with the CIA over the nature of the Democ­rats’ elec­tion hacks — and Ann Coul­ter, who has a pro­found influ­ence over Trump’s think­ing, now call­ing for Trump to dis­man­tle the CIA — it’s look­ing like a Trump admin­is­tra­tion fight with the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty is a real pos­si­bil­i­ty. And that means a Trumpian over­haul of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty in the form of an ide­o­log­i­cal purg­ing and sub­se­quent flood­ing of agen­cies it with far-right ide­o­logues is a real pos­si­bil­i­ty too. So it’s worth not­ing that the pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed divi­sions between the CIA and FBI over whether or not the alleged Russ­ian hack­ing of the Democ­rats was done with the explic­it intent of help­ing Don­ald Trump appears to be resolved. Or nev­er exist­ed in the first place. Either way, if the pub­lic feud­ing between Trump and the agen­cies ends up becom­ing a pre­text for a major Trumpian purge, it will be inter­est­ing to see if the FBI, which bent over back­wards to assist Trump dur­ing the elec­tion, ends up on Trump’s even­tu­al purge-list too:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    FBI in agree­ment with CIA that Rus­sia aimed to help Trump win White House

    By Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima
    Decem­ber 16 at 7:43 PM

    FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey and Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence James R. Clap­per Jr. are in agree­ment with a CIA assess­ment that Rus­sia inter­vened in the 2016 elec­tion in part to help Don­ald Trump win the White House, offi­cials dis­closed Fri­day, as Pres­i­dent Oba­ma issued a pub­lic warn­ing to Moscow that it could face retal­i­a­tion.

    New rev­e­la­tions about Comey’s posi­tion could put to rest sug­ges­tions by some law­mak­ers that the CIA and the FBI weren’t on the same page on Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladi­mir Putin’s inten­tions.

    Rus­sia has denied being behind the cyber-intru­sions, which tar­get­ed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and the pri­vate emails of Hillary Clinton’s cam­paign chair­man, John Podes­ta. Trump, in turn, has repeat­ed­ly said he doubts the verac­i­ty of U.S. intel­li­gence blam­ing Moscow for the hacks.

    “I think it’s ridicu­lous,” Trump said in an inter­view with “Fox News Sun­day,” his first Sun­day news-show appear­ance since the Nov. 8 elec­tion. “I think it’s just anoth­er excuse. I don’t believe it. ... No, I don’t believe it at all.”

    At a “thank you” event Thurs­day night with some of her top cam­paign donors and fundrais­ers, Clin­ton said she believed Russ­ian-backed hack­ers went after her cam­paign because of a per­son­al grudge that Putin had against her. Putin had blamed Clin­ton for foment­ing mass protests in Rus­sia after dis­put­ed 2011 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions that chal­lenged his rule. Putin said Clin­ton, then sec­re­tary of state, had “sent a sig­nal” to pro­test­ers by label­ing the elec­tions “nei­ther free nor fair.”

    The posi­tions of Comey and Clap­per were revealed in a mes­sage that CIA Direc­tor John Bren­nan sent to the agency’s work­force Fri­day.

    “Ear­li­er this week, I met sep­a­rate­ly with FBI [Direc­tor] James Comey and DNI Jim Clap­per, and there is strong con­sen­sus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in our pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” Bren­nan said, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials who have seen the mes­sage.

    The CIA and the FBI declined to com­ment on Brennan’s mes­sage or on the clas­si­fied intel­li­gence assess­ment that CIA offi­cials shared with mem­bers of the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee ear­li­er this month, set­ting off a polit­i­cal firestorm.

    In the closed-door Sen­ate brief­ing, CIA offi­cials said it was now “quite clear” that elect­ing Trump was one of Russia’s goals, accord­ing to the offi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss intel­li­gence mat­ters.

    CIA and FBI offi­cials do not think Rus­sia had a “sin­gle pur­pose” by inter­ven­ing dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, offi­cials said. In addi­tion to the goal of help­ing elect Trump, Putin aimed to under­mine con­fi­dence in the U.S. elec­toral sys­tem, intel­li­gence offi­cials have told law­mak­ers.

    A few days after the Sen­ate brief­ing, a senior FBI counter­intelligence offi­cial briefed the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee but was not as cat­e­gor­i­cal as the CIA briefer about Russia’s inten­tion to help Trump, accord­ing to offi­cials who were present. The FBI official’s more cau­tious pre­sen­ta­tion of the intel­li­gence to the House pan­el left some Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers in the room with the impres­sion that the FBI dis­agreed with the CIA.

    Offi­cials close to the FBI and the CIA now say that law­mak­ers had mis­un­der­stood Comey’s posi­tion. “The truth is they were nev­er all that dif­fer­ent in the first place,” an offi­cial said. Sim­i­lar­ly, offi­cials said, Clap­per and Bren­nan saw the intel­li­gence the same way.

    Ear­li­er this week, Rep. Devin Nunes (R‑Calif.), chair­man of the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee and a Trump sup­port­er, wrote to spy chiefs to demand brief­in­gs on the Russ­ian med­dling.

    But Clap­per respond­ed that he want­ed to first com­plete a review of all avail­able U.S. intel­li­gence, as direct­ed by Oba­ma.

    Bren­nan tried to talk to Nunes sev­er­al times about the dis­pute. But offi­cials said the con­gress­man didn’t take his calls until after he issued a state­ment Wednes­day ask­ing intel­li­gence lead­ers to “clar­i­fy press reports that the CIA has a new assess­ment that it has not shared with us.”

    Offi­cials dis­put­ed the state­ment, say­ing Nunes had been ful­ly briefed on the intel­li­gence.

    “In recent days, I have had sev­er­al con­ver­sa­tions with mem­bers of Con­gress, pro­vid­ing an update on the sta­tus of the review as well as the con­sid­er­a­tions that need to be tak­en into account as we pro­ceed,” Bren­nan wrote in his mes­sage to CIA staffers. “Many — but unfor­tu­nate­ly not all — mem­bers under­stand and appre­ci­ate the impor­tance and the grav­i­ty of the issue, and they are very sup­port­ive of the process that is under­way.”

    Bren­nan wrote to the CIA work­force, offi­cials said, to reas­sure them in the face of accu­sa­tions from Trump sup­port­ers that intel­li­gence was being politi­cized.

    In a state­ment, Nunes said: “We have not received any infor­ma­tion from Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty (IC) agen­cies indi­cat­ing that they have devel­oped new assess­ments on this issue. I am alarmed that sup­pos­ed­ly new infor­ma­tion con­tin­ues to leak to the media but has not been pro­vid­ed to Con­gress.”

    In one of the last news con­fer­ences of his pres­i­den­cy, Oba­ma defend­ed his administration’s response to the Russ­ian hack­ing and vowed to “send a clear mes­sage to Rus­sia” that its med­dling was unac­cept­able.

    “I think we han­dled it the way it should have been han­dled,” he said of the hack­ing inves­ti­ga­tion and the lack of a for­mal accu­sa­tion of blame until a month before the elec­tion. “We allowed law enforce­ment and the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to do its job with­out polit­i­cal influ­ence.”

    Oba­ma was refer­ring to an Oct. 7 state­ment by Clap­per and Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Jeh John­son pub­licly blam­ing Rus­sia for hack­ing polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions, a clear ref­er­ence to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic offi­cials.

    U.S. offi­cials said an ear­li­er draft of the Clap­per-John­son state­ment sin­gled out Putin by name for autho­riz­ing the influ­ence oper­a­tion. But before the final state­ment was made pub­lic, Putin’s name was removed “so it wouldn’t be provoca­tive,” one offi­cial said. Instead, the state­ment blamed “Russia’s senior-most offi­cials.”

    At that time, Oba­ma said, the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty “did not attribute motives” to Russia’s deci­sion to inter­vene in the elec­tion.

    “Imag­ine if we had done the oppo­site,” he said Fri­day. “It would have become imme­di­ate­ly just one more polit­i­cal scrum. And part of the goal here was to make sure that we did not do the work of the leak­ers for them by rais­ing more and more ques­tions about the integri­ty of the elec­tion right before the elec­tion was tak­ing place — at a time, by the way, when the pres­i­dent-elect him­self was rais­ing ques­tions about the integri­ty of the elec­tion.”

    At Friday’s news con­fer­ence, Oba­ma did not direct­ly point the fin­ger at the Russ­ian pres­i­dent. But he came close to doing so by say­ing: “Not much hap­pens in Rus­sia with­out Vladimir Putin.”

    Some mem­bers of Clinton’s cam­paign, Democ­rats in Con­gress and oth­ers have tak­en the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion to task for not call­ing out Russ­ian efforts to influ­ence the elec­tion soon­er, as well as for not tak­ing retal­ia­to­ry action against those respon­si­ble for the cyber-intru­sions and leaks to Wik­iLeaks, the anti-secre­cy group.

    Oba­ma said some pos­si­ble retal­ia­to­ry mea­sures might not be seen by the pub­lic, although they would be seen or felt by Moscow. Oba­ma, who has only a few weeks left in office, made clear any response to the hacks must be care­ful­ly thought through.

    ...

    “Offi­cials close to the FBI and the CIA now say that law­mak­ers had mis­un­der­stood Comey’s posi­tion. “The truth is they were nev­er all that dif­fer­ent in the first place,” an offi­cial said. Sim­i­lar­ly, offi­cials said, Clap­per and Bren­nan saw the intel­li­gence the same way.”

    So, right or wrong, it’s look­ing like the FBI and the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty are going to be pro­vid­ing a unit­ed front to the incom­ing Trump admin­is­tra­tion that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was behind the hacks. And Putin direct­ly ordered it. So, right or wrong, it appears that the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty and FBI are pub­licly tak­ing the stance that the incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion won, in part, due to a Russ­ian plan. And that incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion just hap­pens to be run by a mad man with a strong predilec­tion for revenge. Giv­en all that, it’s prob­a­bly worth ask­ing our­selves aobut the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of Trump’s revenge. After all, while the FBI and agen­cies like the CIA cer­tain­ly have no short­age of trou­bling his­to­ries and insti­tu­tion­al bias­es and there’s plen­ty of room for pos­i­tive reforms, it’s not like they can’t get worse! Much, much worse. Like, Trump-league worse.

    With­in this con­text of a loom­ing war intra-gov­ern­men­tal bureau­crat­ic war, it’s also worth not­ing that Trump actu­al­ly tweet­ed out a mes­sage that basi­cal­ly seemed to cel­e­brate and jus­ti­fy the DNC hacks on the grounds. It was basi­cal­ly the Cypher­punk mes­sage of Julian Assange and Edward Snow­den: the hacks revealed infor­ma­tion to the pub­lic about alleged gov­ern­ment malfea­sance (the infor­ma­tion was actu­al­ly remark­ably tame all things con­sid­ered), so what is every­one com­plain­ing about? That’s Trump’s mes­sage. In oth­er words, in addi­tion to sig­nalling that his admin­is­tra­tion will prob­a­bly be in oppo­si­tion to a large chunk of the intel­li­gence agen­cies and maybe even the FBI, Don­ald Trump also just gave a moral blank check to any­one that wants to hack US gov­ern­ment includ­ing those intel­li­gence agen­cies and the incom­ing Trump admin­is­tra­tion:

    CBS News

    In a first, Trump offers some acknowl­edge­ment of Russ­ian hack­ing

    By Major Gar­rett
    Decem­ber 16, 2016, 7:06 PM

    In the past 24 hours, Mr. Trump offered two tweets that for the first time accept­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of polit­i­cal­ly-moti­vat­ed Russ­ian hack­ing.

    On Fri­day morn­ing, Mr. Trump acknowl­edged that the hack revealed dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion about the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

    Are we talk­ing about the same cyber­at­tack where it was revealed that head of the DNC ille­gal­ly gave Hillary the ques­tions to the debate?— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Decem­ber 16, 2016

    On Thurs­day, he wrote: “if Rus­sia, or some oth­er enti­ty, was hack­ing, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only com­plain after Hillary lost?”

    If Rus­sia, or some oth­er enti­ty, was hack­ing, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only com­plain after Hillary lost?— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Decem­ber 15, 2016

    In fact, intel­li­gence offi­cials pub­licly blamed Rus­sia in Octo­ber — a full month before the elec­tion. But the tweets con­trast with Mr. Trump’s pre­vi­ous skep­ti­cism that Rus­sia was respon­si­ble.

    “It could also be lots of oth­er peo­ple. It also could be some­body sit­ting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?” Mr. Trump said at the first debate.

    ...

    “Are we talk­ing about the same cyber­at­tack where it was revealed that head of the DNC ille­gal­ly gave Hillary the ques­tions to the debate?”

    That was Trump’s tweet. And while that he may have thought it was a wit­ty zinger at the time he wrote it, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Trump just issued a pre­emp­tive moral jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for any future hacks of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion or US gov­ern­ment agen­cies while Trump is in pow­er. So Trump just basi­cal­ly declared open sea­son. On him­self. But also open sea­son on any gov­ern­ment agen­cies or fac­tions he’s feud­ing with.

    Not only that, but he also sent a mes­sage to the world that a Trump admin­is­tra­tion is not above hack­ing its oppo­nents and releas­ing dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es. So if 2016 seemed like the Year of the Hack, get ready for the Admin­is­tra­tion of the Hack. The admin­is­tra­tion at war with its own intel­li­gence agen­cies and and admin­is­tra­tion where it’s appar­ent­ly open sea­son on every­one. Should be fas­ci­nat­ing! And incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous

    But let’s also keep in mind that if Vladimir Putin real­ly did approve of these hacks, the glob­al sit­u­a­tion is actu­al­ly far more dire than is cur­rent­ly accept­ed. Why? Because, in doing so, the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment basi­cal­ly declared open sea­son on itself too. Not open sea­son for hack­ing but instead open sea­son for fram­ing itself for the hack­ing. How so? Because if Putin real­ly did approve of these hacks, he did­n’t just approve of a high­ly provoca­tive hacks. He would have approved of high­ly provoca­tive hacks that were appar­ent­ly designed to get every­one blam­ing Rus­sia for the hacks, thus mak­ing Rus­sia an obvi­ous sus­pect for any future high pro­file hacks of this nature:

    Coun­ter­punch

    Ques­tions for the Elec­tors on Russ­ian Hack­ing

    by Andrew Cock­burn
    Decem­ber 14, 2016

    It is being report­ed that John Podes­ta, Chair­man of the defeat­ed $1.2 bil­lion Clin­ton pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, is sup­port­ing the call by var­i­ous offi­cials, includ­ing at least forty Elec­tors, that the mem­bers of the Elec­toral Col­lege be giv­en a clas­si­fied intel­li­gence brief­ing on the alleged Russ­ian hack­ing before the Col­lege votes on Decem­ber 19.

    In the event such a brief­ing comes to pass, it might be help­ful if the Elec­tors had some informed ques­tions to ask the CIA.

    1/ The DNC hack­ers insert­ed the name of the founder of Russ­ian intel­li­gence, in Russ­ian, in the meta­da­ta of the hacked doc­u­ments. Why would the G.R.U., Russ­ian mil­i­tary intel­li­gence do that?

    2/ If the hack­ers were indeed part of Russ­ian intel­li­gence, why did they use a free Russ­ian email account, or, in the hack of the state elec­tion sys­tems, a Russ­ian-owned serv­er? Does Russ­ian intel­li­gence nor­mal­ly dis­play such poor trade­craft?

    3/ Why would Russ­ian intel­li­gence, for the pur­pos­es of hack­ing the elec­tion sys­tems of Ari­zona and Illi­nois, book space on a Russ­ian-owned serv­er and then use only Eng­lish, as doc­u­ments fur­nished by Vladimir Fomenko, pro­pri­etor of Kings Servers, the com­pa­ny that owned the serv­er in ques­tion, clear­ly indi­cate?

    4/ Numer­ous reports ascribe the hacks to hack­ing groups known as APT 28 or “Fan­cy Bear” and APT 29 or “Cozy Bear.” But these groups had already been accused of nefar­i­ous actions on behalf of Russ­ian intel­li­gence pri­or to the hacks under dis­cus­sion. Why would the Krem­lin and its intel­li­gence agen­cies select well-known groups to con­duct a regime-change oper­a­tion on the most pow­er­ful coun­try on earth?

    5/ It has been report­ed in the New York Times, with­out attri­bu­tion, that U.S. intel­li­gence has iden­ti­fied spe­cif­ic G.R.U. offi­cials who direct­ed the hack­ing. Is this true, and if so, please pro­vide details (Wit­ness should be sworn)

    6/ The joint state­ment issued by the DNI and DHS on Octo­ber 7 2016 con­firmed that US intel­li­gence had no evi­dence of offi­cial Russ­ian involve­ment in the leak of hacked doc­u­ments to Wik­ileaks, etc, say­ing only that the leaks were “con­sis­tent with the meth­ods and moti­va­tions of Russ­ian-direct­ed efforts.” Has the US acquired any evi­dence what­so­ev­er since that time regard­ing Russ­ian involve­ment in the leaks?

    ...

    “4/ Numer­ous reports ascribe the hacks to hack­ing groups known as APT 28 or “Fan­cy Bear” and APT 29 or “Cozy Bear.” But these groups had already been accused of nefar­i­ous actions on behalf of Russ­ian intel­li­gence pri­or to the hacks under dis­cus­sion. Why would the Krem­lin and its intel­li­gence agen­cies select well-known groups to con­duct a regime-change oper­a­tion on the most pow­er­ful coun­try on earth?

    That’s the big ques­tion that nev­er gets asked: Why on earth did Rus­sia frame itself for hacks that it knew would sure­ly get blamed for? Espe­cial­ly if, as the US intel­li­gence assess­ment con­clud­ed, the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was pre­dict­ing Hillary Clin­ton would win the elec­tion. Did Putin go mad? If so, that’s an impor­tant event to under­stand.

    Don’t for­get that, what­ev­er short-term ben­e­fit the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment might get from suc­cess­ful­ly pulling off a stunt of this nature, that has to be bal­anced against the long-term costs asso­ci­at­ed with Rus­sia fram­ing itself for a high­ly provoca­tive hack to install a fas­cist who is guar­an­teed to do immense long-term dam­age to the US and its peo­ple. If the Krem­lin active­ly wants to assume pub­lic cul­pa­bil­i­ty, in the minds of Amer­i­cans, for the upcom­ing Trump dis­as­ters that will be inflict­ed on the US pop­u­lace that would sig­nal an incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous turn of glob­al events because it would sig­nal that the Krem­lin active­ly wants the US pop­u­lace to hate it and desire revenge. If this real­ly hap­pened we are all in per­il, Rus­sians an Amer­i­cans alike. And every­one else since we’re talk­ing about cre­at­ing a sit­u­a­tion that could ignite and endur­ing revenge-cycle between the two lead­ing nuclear pow­ers.

    Either way, as a con­se­quence to how this whole thing is play­ing out, whether or not the Krem­lin real­ly was behind the hacks, it’s abun­dant­ly clear now that any gov­ern­ment or pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion with sig­nif­i­cant resources can now frame the Krem­lin for their hacks. All they have to do is hire some Russ­ian hack­ers.

    So we have a Trump admin­is­tra­tion that declared open sea­son on basi­cal­ly every­one and a Russ­ian gov­ern­ment that is set up — either by its own actions (if Putin went mad) or by some­one else — to take the blame. And Trump might also be at war with US intel­li­gence, at least until he purges it at which point he’ll pre­sum­ably direct it to hack his oppo­nents even more. Pre­sum­ably using Russ­ian hack­ers because why not.

    And don’t for­get that all the inde­pen­dent hack­ers out there are like­ly to join in the fun, espe­cial­ly after Trump basi­cal­ly jus­ti­fied the DNC hack using Cypher­punk log­ic. And while Trump him­self is obvi­ous­ly going to be a major hack­ing tar­get, he’s also total­ly shame­less and his sup­port­ers don’t real­ly care what he’s caught doing so Trump is kind of immune to what he’s about to unleash. So, all in all, it looks like Don­ald Trump just might ush­er in the Cypher­punk rev­o­lu­tion Julian Assange and Edward Snow­den hav­ing been pin­ing for and it’s going to be a Trumpian rev­o­lu­tion too. A Cypher­punk rev­o­lu­tion of mass hack­ing that shame­less indi­vid­u­als like Trump will be espe­cial­ly pre­pared to with­stand because no one has any expec­ta­tions that they aren’t already cor­rupt any­way. Enjoy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 17, 2016, 5:15 pm
  3. Here’s anoth­er devel­op­ment to watch for now that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is set to get uni­lat­er­al­ly take over the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nor with an admin­is­tra­tion appointee and shape the con­tent to its lik­ing: The US gov­ern­ment has come to the con­clu­sion that it’s los­ing a pro­pa­gan­da war with Rus­sia, cit­ing Russ­ian gov­ern­ment out­lets like Sput­nik News and RT as exam­ples of how the US is falling behind. And this, of course, means there’s going to be attempts to catch up and close the pro­pa­gan­da gap. Trump admin­is­tra­tion attempts. Oh good­ie:

    Reuters

    U.S. gov­ern­ment los­es to Rus­si­a’s dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign: advis­ers

    By Joseph Menn
    Tue Dec 20, 2016 | 5:28pm EST

    The U.S. gov­ern­ment spent more than a decade prepar­ing respons­es to mali­cious hack­ing by a for­eign pow­er but had no clear strat­e­gy when Rus­sia launched a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign over the inter­net dur­ing the U.S. elec­tion cam­paign, cur­rent and for­mer White House cyber secu­ri­ty advis­ers said.

    Far more effort has gone into plot­ting offen­sive hack­ing and prepar­ing defens­es against the less prob­a­ble but more dra­mat­ic dam­age from elec­tron­ic assaults on the pow­er grid, finan­cial sys­tem or direct manip­u­la­tion of vot­ing machines.

    Over the last sev­er­al years, U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies tracked Rus­si­a’s use of coor­di­nat­ed hack­ing and dis­in­for­ma­tion in Ukraine and else­where, the advis­ers and intel­li­gence experts said, but there was lit­tle sus­tained, high-lev­el gov­ern­ment con­ver­sa­tion about the risk of the pro­pa­gan­da com­ing to the Unit­ed States.

    Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion it did — to an extent that may have altered the out­come, the secu­ri­ty sources said. But U.S. offi­cials felt lim­it­ed in inves­ti­gat­ing Russ­ian-sup­port­ed pro­pa­gan­da efforts because of free speech guar­an­tees in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

    A for­mer White House offi­cial cau­tioned that any U.S. gov­ern­ment attempt to counter the flow of for­eign state-backed dis­in­for­ma­tion through deter­rence would face major polit­i­cal, legal and moral obsta­cles.

    “You would have to have mas­sive sur­veil­lance and cur­tailed free­dom and that is a cost we have not been will­ing to accept,” said the for­mer offi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty. “They (Rus­sia) can con­trol dis­tri­b­u­tion of infor­ma­tion in ways we don’t.”

    Clin­ton Watts, a secu­ri­ty con­sul­tant, for­mer FBI agent and a fel­low at the non­prof­it For­eign Pol­i­cy Research Insti­tute, said the U.S. gov­ern­ment no longer has an orga­ni­za­tion, such as the U.S. Infor­ma­tion Agency, that pro­vid­ed counter-nar­ra­tives dur­ing the Cold War.

    He said that most major Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns in the Unit­ed States and Europe have start­ed at Russ­ian-gov­ern­ment fund­ed media out­lets, such as RT tele­vi­sion or Sput­nik News, before being ampli­fied on Twit­ter by oth­ers.

    Watts said it was urgent for the U.S. gov­ern­ment to build the capa­bil­i­ty to track what is hap­pen­ing online and dis­pute false sto­ries.

    “Those two things need to be done imme­di­ate­ly,” Watts said. “You have to have a pub­lic state­ment or it leads to con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.”

    A defense spend­ing pill passed this month calls for the State Depart­ment to estab­lish a “Glob­al Engage­ment Cen­ter” to take on some of that work, but sim­i­lar efforts to counter less sophis­ti­cat­ed Islam­ic State nar­ra­tives have fall­en short.

    The U.S. gov­ern­ment for­mal­ly accused Rus­sia of a cam­paign of cyber attacks against U.S. polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions in Octo­ber, a month before the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

    U.S. ‘STUCK’

    James Lewis, a cyber secu­ri­ty expert at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic & Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies who has worked for the depart­ments of State and Com­merce and the U.S. mil­i­tary, said Wash­ing­ton need­ed to move beyond anti­quat­ed notions of pro­ject­ing influ­ence if it hoped to catch up with Rus­sia.

    “They have RT and all we know how to do is send a car­ri­er bat­tle group,” Lewis said. “We’re going to be stuck until we find a way deal with that.”

    Watts, who said he has tracked tens of thou­sands of pro-Rus­sia Twit­ter han­dles since 2014, believes many of the most effec­tive sto­ries stoke fear of war or oth­er calami­ties or pro­mote a nar­ra­tive of cor­rupt West­ern politi­cians, media and oth­er elites.

    He and oth­ers said Sput­nik shows the inten­si­ty of the Russ­ian effort.

    Launched two years ago as a suc­ces­sor to the offi­cial Russ­ian wire ser­vice and radio net­work, Sput­nik does not mere­ly par­rot the Krem­lin polit­i­cal line, accord­ing to experts. It has gone out of its way to hire out­siders with social media exper­tise, includ­ing left and right-lean­ing Amer­i­cans who are crit­i­cal of U.S. poli­cies.

    Sput­nik News did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    Dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, one of the most promi­nent full­time Sput­nik writ­ers and com­men­ta­tors, Cas­san­dra Fair­banks, shift­ed from an ardent anti-police pro­tes­tor and sup­port­er of social­ist U.S. Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders to a vocal backer of Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump.

    Fair­banks said in an inter­view with Reuters that Sput­nik had not told her to advo­cate for Trump, now pres­i­dent-elect. She said she was swayed by Trump’s oppo­si­tion to over­seas wars and inter­na­tion­al trade agree­ments.

    “I did my best to push for him,” Fair­banks said, “but that was of my free will.”

    A woman in her thir­ties with more than 80,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers, Fair­banks was an activist with the hack­ing move­ment known as Anony­mous before she joined Sput­nik.

    The day before the elec­tion, Fair­banks said on a YouTube chan­nel that it was “pret­ty like­ly” that the authors of emails hacked from the account of Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign man­ag­er John Podes­ta were using code words for pedophil­ia when they spoke about piz­za.

    The asser­tion fed the false­hood that Clin­ton sup­port­ers were oper­at­ing a child sex ring out of a Wash­ing­ton-based piz­za par­lor. The chan­nel, with 1.8 mil­lion sub­scribers, was run by Alex Jones, a radio host who has said the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job.”

    Joe Fion­da, a vet­er­an of the Occu­py protests who worked briefly for Sput­nik in 2015, said the organization’s arti­cles and social media efforts over­all were aimed at prais­ing Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s allies such as Syr­ia and dwelling on neg­a­tive news in the Unit­ed States, includ­ing police mis­con­duct.

    Some U.S. offi­cials and polit­i­cal ana­lysts have said Putin could believe busi­ness­man Trump would be friend­lier to Rus­sia than Clin­ton, espe­cial­ly when it came to eco­nom­ic sanc­tions.

    Fion­da said spread­ing hacked emails was a pri­or­i­ty at Sput­nik. He said his job includ­ed try­ing to cre­ate viral memes on a Face­book page called Muti­nous Media, which did not list a Sput­nik con­nec­tion.

    For­mer work­ers of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, one of the groups infil­trat­ed by Russ­ian-backed hack­ers, said the U.S. gov­ern­ment should con­sid­er pro­vid­ing fund­ing for the tech­no­log­i­cal defense of major polit­i­cal par­ties. They said that once hacked emails began appear­ing online, par­ty func­tionar­ies were con­stant­ly behind in respond­ing.

    They also said that the staff of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma had been over­ly con­cerned about not appear­ing to defend its own par­ty’s can­di­date.

    Oba­ma has asked spy agen­cies to deliv­er an analy­sis of Russ­ian med­dling in the elec­tion that will include dis­cus­sion of pro­pa­gan­da oper­a­tions, Office of the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence Gen­er­al Coun­sel Robert Litt told Reuters.

    ...

    “A defense spend­ing pill passed this month calls for the State Depart­ment to estab­lish a “Glob­al Engage­ment Cen­ter” to take on some of that work, but sim­i­lar efforts to counter less sophis­ti­cat­ed Islam­ic State nar­ra­tives have fall­en short.”

    Well, it looks like there’s going to be plen­ty of addi­tion­al mon­ey avail­able if Steve Ban­non real­ly does try to turn Radio Free Europe and oth­er BBG out­lets into Trump TV as many fear. Radio Free Bre­it­bart, here we come! Which rais­es the ques­tion: who is Ban­non going to hire run Radio Free Bre­it­bart? While Ban­non him­self would be an obvi­ous choice, he’s also already going to be rather busy help­ing Trump strate­gize the suc­cess­ful implo­sion of the US from the inside and prob­a­bly won’t have too much time to focus on the US’s for­eign per­cep­tion man­age­ment pro­grams. At the same time, for­eign per­cep­tion man­age­ment is extra impor­tant when you’re run­ning a far-right white suprema­cist bare­ly-cryp­to-Nazi admin­is­tra­tion, so Trump and Ban­non are prob­a­bly going to want some­one that’s both loy­al to Trump and has the tal­ent required to run a suc­cess­ful pro­pa­gan­da out­let. Who could that be? Hmm....

    And in oth­er news, Roger Ailes declared to the world that he’ll “be back”. It was actu­al­ly a mes­sage con­veyed by his lawyer in the con­text of the denial of the lat­est sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tion against Ailes, so it’s still unclear when he’ll actu­al­ly “be back”. But he’s appar­ent­ly pret­ty con­fi­dent he’ll be back before he final­ly returns to the under­world, so he’s pre­sum­ably going to need a job:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Livewire

    Ailes Asks For Apol­o­gy After NY Dai­ly News Labels Him ‘Gropey Old Man’

    By Kristin Salaky
    Pub­lished Decem­ber 20, 2016, 2:32 PM EST

    For­mer Fox News boss Roger Ailes appar­ent­ly called up a New York Dai­ly News colum­nist Mon­day to dis­pute a head­line that char­ac­ter­ized him as a “gropey old man.”

    “Medi­a­Blast” colum­nist Don Kaplan wrote that he ini­tial­ly did­n’t believe it was tru­ly Ailes on the phone until his attor­ney lat­er con­firmed it was him. Kaplan wrote that Ailes said he expect­ed an apol­o­gy for the head­line “gropey old men” on one of his columns.

    “I was hop­ing you would be a gen­tle­man and apol­o­gize,” Ailes said, accord­ing to Kaplan.

    The col­umn in ques­tion, pub­lished Sun­day, com­pared sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tions against Ailes, includ­ing those con­tained in a recent law­suit from reporter Lidia Curanaj—who charged that Ailes sex­u­al­ly harassed her when she applied for a job at Fox News—to alle­ga­tions against out­go­ing Via­com chair­man Sum­n­er Red­stone, who’s been accused of giv­ing large amounts of mon­ey to mis­tress­es.

    ...

    Ailes’ lawyers dis­put­ed Curana­j’s alle­ga­tions to the paper issued a state­ment with some­thing of an omi­nous warn­ing about the for­mer Fox boss’ future.

    “Roger Ailes called the paper because he want­ed to make clear that he vehe­ment­ly denies the ludi­crous alle­ga­tions that were lodged against him by Ms. Curanaj,” Ailes attor­ney Mark Mukasey said in a state­ment. “Her com­plaint is a laugh­able stunt. And Roger should not be com­pared to any­body else. He’s an icon, a leg­end, a vision­ary — and he’ll be back.”

    Kaplan, for his part, wrote that he refus­es to apol­o­gize.

    “And Roger should not be com­pared to any­body else. He’s an icon, a leg­end, a vision­ary — and he’ll be back.”

    Yeah, that’s a bit omi­nous. At least for the ladies. But it’s quite a con­ve­nient pledge to “be back” for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. It’s not like being an alleged ser­i­al sex­u­al preda­tor is going to hurt his job prospects.

    So should we expect Ailes to be the mind behind Voice of Bre­it­bart? Well, we prob­a­bly should­n’t rule it out, although for a man with Ailes’s tal­ents and con­nec­tions he’s prob­a­bly going to have mul­ti­ple Trump admin­is­tra­tion job oppor­tu­ni­ties. At the same time, for a man with Ailes rep­u­ta­tion as an alleged sex­u­al preda­tor those job oppor­tu­ni­ties are going to have to be han­dled rather del­i­cate­ly. So if Ailes does end up work­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion at some point, don’t be sur­prised if that hire is pre­ced­ed by a bunch of denials that they’re even think­ing about it:

    Slate

    Ailes Hit With New Alle­ga­tion of Gross Behav­ior as Trump Camp Denies Rumors About Admin­is­tra­tion Job

    By Ben Math­is-Lil­ley
    Dec 13, 2016 6:26 PM

    On Mon­day, Al Jazeera report­ed that for­mer Fox News exec­u­tive Roger Ailes was being con­sid­ered for the job of Under­sec­re­tary for Pub­lic Diplo­ma­cy in the State Depart­ment—a job in which Ailes, who resigned from Fox this sum­mer after being charged with sex­u­al harass­ment and crude behav­ior by a num­ber of women who’d worked with him, would have respon­si­bil­i­ty for the Unit­ed States’ for­eign pub­lic rela­tions efforts (and for the State Depart­men­t’s domes­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tions arm).

    BREAKING: State Depart­ment source tells me Trump con­sid­er­ing dis­graced ex-Fox News boss Roger Ailes for Under Sec­re­tary for Pub­lic Diplo­ma­cy— Meh­di Hasan (@mehdirhasan) Decem­ber 13, 2016

    (To be clear, the State job would not involve run­ning the Voice of America/Radio Free Europe networks—but those could also be ide­o­log­i­cal­ly revamped under Trump.)

    On Tues­day, Trump’s tran­si­tion team denied the report:

    Hope Hicks on whether there’s any truth to report that Roger Ailes is under con­sid­er­a­tion for State Dept. post: “Not a shred”— Erik­Wem­ple (@ErikWemple) Decem­ber 13, 2016

    And lat­er on Tues­day, anoth­er female News Corp employ­ee accused Ailes of wild­ly inap­pro­pri­ate behav­ior in a law­suit. From the New York Times’ piece on the alle­ga­tions made by local New York Fox affil­i­ate reporter Lidia Curanaj:

    Accord­ing to the com­plaint, Mr. Ailes asked her to stand up and turn around dur­ing a one-on-one inter­view, so that he could “see [her] from behind” ... After his pri­vate meet­ing with Ms. Curanaj, Mr. Ailes con­tact­ed [a mutu­al acquain­tance] and asked him, “How’s the sex?” and whether she “put out” sex­u­al­ly, accord­ing to the suit.

    Typ­i­cal­ly this kind of bad­ly timed alle­ga­tion would sink some­one’s chances of work­ing in an incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion, but this is Trump we’re talk­ing about, so who knows?

    “Typ­i­cal­ly this kind of bad­ly timed alle­ga­tion would sink some­one’s chances of work­ing in an incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion, but this is Trump we’re talk­ing about, so who knows?”

    Yep, this is the Trump admin­is­tra­tion we’re talk­ing about, so when it comes to hir­ing some­one like Ailes, who knows?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 20, 2016, 8:30 pm
  4. One of the imme­di­ate ques­tions fol­low­ing the assas­si­na­tion of Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador to Turkey by an off-duty Turk­ish police­man who shout­ed about the war in Syr­ia and fall of Alep­po after com­mit­ting the act was who the assas­sin was going to end up being affil­i­at­ed with. Would it be ISIS or some oth­er move­ment? Now, after the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment charged that the gun­man is asso­ci­at­ed with the Fethul­lah Gulen move­ment, but with­out pro­vid­ing any evi­dence of that so far, an addi­tion­al ques­tion is raised that’s not a new ques­tion but sud­den­ly much more press­ing than before: Is Rus­sia going to share this con­clu­sion that the Gulenists were behind the assas­si­na­tion of their ambas­sador and what would be the impli­ca­tions of that devel­op­ment regard­ing Turkey’s demands that the US extra­dite Fethul­lah Gulen

    France24

    Turkey blames US-based cler­ic Gulen for envoy’s assas­si­na­tion

    Lat­est update : 2016-12-21

    Russ­ian inves­ti­ga­tors arrived in Turkey on Tues­day to help inves­ti­gate the assas­si­na­tion of Moscow’s ambas­sador as the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment point­ed the fin­ger of blame at exiled cler­ic Fethul­lah Gulen, who resides in the Unit­ed States.

    Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot nine times in the back on Mon­day by off-duty Turk­ish police­man Mev­lut Mert Alt­in­tas at an art gallery dur­ing the open­ing of a show on Russ­ian pho­tog­ra­phy.

    An unprece­dent­ed three-way meet­ing between the for­eign min­is­ters of Turkey, Rus­sia and Iran went ahead in Moscow Tues­day despite the assas­si­na­tion, with the diplo­mats express­ing their sup­port for a broad­er truce in Syr­ia.

    Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, mean­while, pinned respon­si­bil­i­ty for the assas­si­na­tion on a group behind exiled cler­ic Fethul­lah Gulen, who lives in the Unit­ed States. Ankara has said his loy­al­ists also orches­trat­ed an attempt­ed coup in July.

    “Turkey and Rus­sia know that behind the attack ... there is FETO,” Cavu­soglu said in a con­ver­sa­tion with US Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry, refer­ring to Turkey’s acronym for Gulen’s organ­i­sa­tion.

    Fol­low­ing the failed coup Ankara request­ed Gulen’s extra­di­tion from the Unit­ed States, but Wash­ing­ton has so far not com­plied.

    Gulen had ear­li­er issued a state­ment to con­demn the assas­si­na­tion as a “ter­ror­ist act” that left him “shocked and deeply sad­dened”.

    Six peo­ple have been detained over Karlov’s death, includ­ing the sis­ter, moth­er, father and uncle of 22-year-old Alt­in­tas, Turk­ish media report­ed.

    With Turkey already on high alert after a string of dead­ly attacks, an indi­vid­ual also fired out­side the US embassy in Ankara overnight. The US mis­sion said in a state­ment that no one was hurt and the indi­vid­ual was detained.

    ‘Waved through secu­ri­ty’

    Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin ordered his secret ser­vice to boost secu­ri­ty at home and abroad, and to step up coop­er­a­tion with for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices.

    A Russ­ian inves­tiga­tive team vis­it­ed the scene of the attack at the Con­tem­po­rary Arts Cen­tre in cen­tral Ankara as part of a joint probe with Turkey on Tues­day.

    Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan said in a speech in Istan­bul that he and Putin agreed in a phone call after the mur­der that “our expand­ing areas of coop­er­a­tion with Rus­sia, par­tic­u­lar­ly on Syr­ia, will not be ham­pered by this attack”.

    ...

    Dra­mat­ic footage of Mon­day’s assas­si­na­tion showed Karlov stum­ble and crash to the ground on his back as Alt­in­tas bran­dished his auto­mat­ic pis­tol at ter­ri­fied onlook­ers who cow­ered behind cock­tail tables.

    The lone gun­man shout­ed “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great­est”) and “Don’t for­get Alep­po,” vow­ing that those respon­si­ble for events in Syr­ia would be held account­able.

    Alt­in­tas did not go through the met­al detec­tor secu­ri­ty check when he entered the exhi­bi­tion and was warned by a secu­ri­ty offi­cer, accord­ing to the Cankaya munic­i­pal­i­ty where the exhi­bi­tion cen­tre is locat­ed.

    But after show­ing his police ID, he was allowed to pro­ceed, it said.

    The Hur­riyet dai­ly said Alt­in­tas, who had worked for Ankara’s anti-riot police for the last two and a half years, had stayed at a near­by hotel to pre­pare for the attack, shav­ing and putting on a smart suit.

    He was killed by police after a 15-minute stand-off.

    Ankara May­or Melih Gokcek, known for his out­spo­ken com­ments, became the first senior offi­cial to link the killing with Gulen’s group.

    His sug­ges­tion was also repeat­ed in the pro-gov­ern­ment press, before being ampli­fied in the Anadolu report quot­ing Cavu­soglu.

    US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump had on Mon­day con­demned the envoy’s mur­der, call­ing the gun­man a “rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ist”.

    ...

    Moscow and Ankara are cur­rent­ly work­ing close­ly togeth­er after strik­ing a deal on evac­u­at­ing cit­i­zens from the Syr­i­an city of Alep­po.

    Turkey and Rus­sia saw rela­tions plunge to their worst lev­els since the Cold War last year when a Turk­ish jet shot down a Russ­ian war plane over Syr­ia. But a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal was signed ear­li­er this year, and despite being on oppos­ing sides in the Syr­ia con­flict – with Ankara back­ing the rebels try­ing to top­ple Moscow ally Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad – rela­tions have recent­ly been on the mend.

    “Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, mean­while, pinned respon­si­bil­i­ty for the assas­si­na­tion on a group behind exiled cler­ic Fethul­lah Gulen, who lives in the Unit­ed States. Ankara has said his loy­al­ists also orches­trat­ed an attempt­ed coup in July.”

    Well, if Turkey pro­vides con­clu­sive evi­dence of this that’s prob­a­bly not going to help US/Russian rela­tions. But, of course, with a Trump admin­is­tra­tion com­ing in a month from now, who knows where US/Russian rela­tions are head­ing. Or US/Turkey rela­tions. And if the pro­nounce­ments for Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor, Michael Fly­nn, are any indi­ca­tion of what to expect, US/Turkey rela­tions should be set to improve, at least to the extent that hand­ing of Fethul­lah Gulen to Erdo­gan improves rela­tions. Gen­er­al Fly­n­n’s work as a paid lob­by­ist for a con­sul­tan­cy found­ed by the head of the Turk­ish-Amer­i­can Busi­ness Coun­cil prob­a­bly isn’t going to hurt rela­tions too much either:

    The New York Times

    Turkey Cheered by Words of Michael Fly­nn, Trump’s Secu­ri­ty Advis­er

    By ROD NORDLAND
    NOV. 19, 2016

    ISTANBUL — Lt. Gen. Michael T. Fly­nn, the des­ig­nat­ed nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er for the incom­ing Trump admin­is­tra­tion, once wrote on Twit­ter that it was “ratio­nal” to fear Mus­lims, but that does not seem like­ly to cause him any grief with Turkey’s gov­ern­ment, even though it is led by a reli­gious­ly con­ser­v­a­tive Mus­lim, Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan.

    Ankara has paid far more atten­tion to Gen­er­al Flynn’s full-throat­ed sup­port for Mr. Erdogan’s gov­ern­ment, and espe­cial­ly its wish to extra­dite the Islam­ic schol­ar Fethul­lah Gulen from his sanc­tu­ary in the Pocono Moun­tains of Penn­syl­va­nia.

    Gen­er­al Fly­nn wrote an arti­cle pub­lished in The Hill on Elec­tion Day call­ing on the Unit­ed States to be more sym­pa­thet­ic to the con­cerns of Turkey, a NATO ally, and embrac­ing Mr. Erdogan’s posi­tion that Mr. Gulen is an extrem­ist who was behind the failed July coup against his gov­ern­ment.

    Mr. Gulen and his sup­port­ers deny that, and depict him as a mod­er­ate more con­cerned with build­ing thou­sands of schools than with top­pling Turkey’s gov­ern­ment. Mr. Gulen was once an ally of Mr. Erdo­gan, but they had a falling out.

    Gen­er­al Flynn’s arti­cle, as Politi­co report­ed, did not dis­close that he was a paid lob­by­ist for a con­sul­tan­cy found­ed by a Turk­ish busi­ness­man, Ekim Alptekin, who is also the head of the Turk­ish-Amer­i­can Busi­ness Coun­cil.

    Mr. Alptekin denied in a tele­phone inter­view on Fri­day that the coun­cil was a gov­ern­ment enti­ty or that the con­tract with Gen­er­al Flynn’s com­pa­ny, Fly­nn Intel Group, had any­thing to do with the arti­cle in The Hill.

    “The assump­tion that Gen­er­al Fly­nn wrote that in the con­text of a lob­by­ing con­tract with me is com­plete­ly false,” Mr. Alptekin said. “He nev­er con­sult­ed with me. I would have advised against it.” And he said the notion that Mr. Erdo­gan would pay to have the arti­cle pub­lished was “pre­pos­ter­ous,” cit­ing its crit­i­cism of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which Mr. Erdo­gan has sup­port­ed in the past.

    ...

    Mr. Erdo­gan spoke warm­ly of Mr. Trump in a speech after the Amer­i­can elec­tion, one in which he also accused Hillary Clin­ton of receiv­ing cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions from the Gulen camp.

    Mr. Alptekin said he had hired Gen­er­al Flynn’s com­pa­ny to con­sult on the region’s secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment in con­nec­tion with a com­mer­cial ven­ture he was con­sid­er­ing. Lat­er, one of Gen­er­al Flynn’s asso­ciates sug­gest­ed that the com­pa­ny also advo­cate for bet­ter rela­tions between the Unit­ed States and Turkey, which would require reg­is­ter­ing as lob­by­ists with the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment, Mr. Alptekin said.

    The com­pa­ny did reg­is­ter as lob­by­ists on behalf of Turkey, but “I’m not even sure any lob­by­ing got done,” Mr. Alptekin added. “I don’t lob­by for the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment. I lob­by the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment myself.” Of Gen­er­al Fly­nn, he said: “This is not a guy who would be influ­enced by a con­tract. He wrote what he believes.”

    Mr. Alptekin declined to say how large the con­tract was. “It’s tens of thou­sands of dol­lars, not hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars,” he said.

    Ragip Soy­lu, a com­men­ta­tor writ­ing in The Dai­ly Sabah, a pro-gov­ern­ment news­pa­per, con­tend­ed that Gen­er­al Flynn’s arti­cle would not have been com­mis­sioned by the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment. “Every­one knows that you can’t change a for­mer senior Amer­i­can commander’s opin­ions by hir­ing his firm with a $100,000 con­tract,” Mr. Soy­lu wrote.

    Mustafa Aky­ol, a com­men­ta­tor for Al-Mon­i­tor, said, “From a Mus­lim point of view, Flynn’s appoint­ment is a con­cern, glob­al­ly speak­ing.” He added, “That’s exact­ly what we mean by Islam­o­pho­bia, extrap­o­lat­ing from extrem­ists to all Mus­lims. You would expect to see that con­cern here, but quite the con­trary: Fly­nn is quite a respect­ed fig­ure now in gov­ern­ment cir­cles, just because he wrote that Gulen should be extra­dit­ed to Turkey.

    “That was greet­ed with great hap­pi­ness here,” Mr. Aky­ol said. He added that Erdo­gan sup­port­ers had react­ed to it as: “Final­ly, some­body in Amer­i­ca who under­stands us.”

    ““The assump­tion that Gen­er­al Fly­nn wrote that in the con­text of a lob­by­ing con­tract with me is com­plete­ly false,” Mr. Alptekin said. “He nev­er con­sult­ed with me. I would have advised against it.” And he said the notion that Mr. Erdo­gan would pay to have the arti­cle pub­lished was “pre­pos­ter­ous,” cit­ing its crit­i­cism of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which Mr. Erdo­gan has sup­port­ed in the past.”

    Oh what a tan­gled web of lob­by­ing con­tracts and cab­i­net posts we weave. But regard­less of whether or not any Turk­ish cash influ­enced Fly­n­n’s opin­ions on these mat­ters, all signs are point­ing towards the hand over of Gulen. Fol­lowed by a giant show tri­al in Turkey. And while that might seem like the kind of thing that pos­i­tive­ly impacts US/Turkey rela­tions, keep in mind that one of the goals of those upcom­ing tri­als is prob­a­bly going to be to estab­lish Gulen’s work­ing rela­tion­ship with the CIA and US intel­li­gence and tie the CIA to the July coup attempt. So we’ll see how those rela­tions devel­op. Or degrade. In oth­er words, Trump’s Turk­ish busi­ness part­ner who was report­ed­ly arrest­ed by Erdo­gan due to alleged Gulenist ties in what is wide­ly assumed to be an attempt to gain lever­age over the incom­ing Trump admin­is­tra­tion prob­a­bly should­n’t assume every­thing is going to be fine after his part­ner assumes the pres­i­den­cy and hands Gulen over.

    Anoth­er thing to keep in mind regard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of added Russ­ian inter­est in the extra­di­tion of Gulen is that this is all hap­pen­ing at a time when the dia­logue between Rus­sia and the Unit­ed States are frozen at “almost every lev­el” accord­ing to a Krem­lin spokesman, adding, “We don’t com­mu­ni­cate with one anoth­er, or (if we do) we do so min­i­mal­ly.” So that’s pret­ty sad. And while some sort of sig­nif­i­cant reshuf­fling of US/Russian rela­tions are to be expect­ed once the Trump admin­is­tra­tion assumes con­trol, at least at first before the com­pli­ca­tions of real­i­ty kick in, it’s worth not­ing that there’s a new ini­tia­tive by a Euro­pean polit­i­cal par­ty offer­ing to play a role in build­ing bridges between Putin and Trump. And this par­ty has report­ed­ly already met with Michael Fly­nn. And, of course since this is a sto­ry relat­ed to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, this par­ty hap­pens to be Aus­tri­a’s Free­dom Par­ty:

    Bloomberg Pol­i­tics

    Aus­tri­an Pop­ulists Go to Moscow to Pitch Trump-Putin Bridge

    by Boris Groen­dahl
    and Jonathan Tirone
    Decem­ber 19, 2016, 4:12 AM CST Decem­ber 19, 2016, 9:21 AM CST

    * Free­dom Par­ty chiefs in ‘diplo­mat­ic talks’ with Unit­ed Rus­sia
    * Par­ty has opposed sanc­tions on Rus­sia; leads in Aus­tri­an polls

    Austria’s pop­ulist Free­dom Par­ty said it wants to bro­ker an end to sanc­tions on Rus­sia by using its con­tacts with the White House and the Krem­lin to reduce east-west ten­sions.

    Free­dom Par­ty leader Heinz-Chris­t­ian Stra­che and Nor­bert Hofer, the los­ing can­di­date in this month’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, signed a “work­ing agree­ment” with Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s Unit­ed Rus­sia par­ty in Moscow on Mon­day, accord­ing to a state­ment issued by the Aus­tri­an par­ty. It added that Stra­che met last month in New York with Michael Fly­nn, nom­i­nat­ed to become Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er.

    Stra­che wants to roll back “the sanc­tions that are harm­ful and ulti­mate­ly use­less for the econ­o­my,” accord­ing to the Free­dom Par­ty state­ment, which described itself as “a neu­tral and reli­able medi­a­tor and part­ner.” The del­e­ga­tion met with Unit­ed Russia’s inter­na­tion­al sec­re­tary, Sergei Zheleznyak, accord­ing to a spokesman for the Russ­ian par­ty.

    This is the first for­mal agree­ment with a major par­ty from EU-mem­ber state since the bloc imposed its sanc­tions on Rus­sia for annex­ing Crimea and sup­port­ing sep­a­ratists in East­ern Ukraine.

    While the Free­dom Par­ty was defeat­ed for the Aus­tri­an pres­i­den­cy by an inde­pen­dent can­di­date, it tops nation­al opin­ion polls with about a third of the vote.

    Par­ty offi­cials have in the past called for an end to Euro­pean Union sanc­tions against Rus­sia and voiced sup­port for Russia’s annex­a­tion of Crimea. In a Face­book post­ing, Stra­che said that Rus­sia had “freed Alep­po” from Islam­ic State.

    “Aus­tria needs inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal and busi­ness con­tacts rather than neg­a­tive and dam­ag­ing sanc­tions,” Stra­che said on Face­book. Aus­tria was neu­tral dur­ing the Cold War. Aus­tri­an com­pa­nies includ­ing oil and gas group OMV AG and Raif­feisen Bank Inter­na­tion­al AG have close busi­ness ties to Moscow.

    Dur­ing this year’s pres­i­den­tial bal­lot, Hofer cam­paigned on the promise to build a bridge between Trump and the Krem­lin. The election’s win­ner, for­mer Green Par­ty leader Alexan­der Van der Bellen, off­set Hofer’s appeals by argu­ing Austria’s most impor­tant eco­nom­ic inter­ests are inside the EU.

    Russia’s Unit­ed Par­ty said the coop­er­a­tion pact is valid for five years and focus­es on exchang­ing expe­ri­ence in the sphere of eco­nom­ics, trade and invest­ment.

    ...

    “Free­dom Par­ty leader Heinz-Chris­t­ian Stra­che and Nor­bert Hofer, the los­ing can­di­date in this month’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, signed a “work­ing agree­ment” with Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s Unit­ed Rus­sia par­ty in Moscow on Mon­day, accord­ing to a state­ment issued by the Aus­tri­an par­ty. It added that Stra­che met last month in New York with Michael Fly­nn, nom­i­nat­ed to become Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er.

    Note that the Trump tran­si­tion team told CNN that this meet­ing between Fly­nn and Stra­che nev­er took place, so it’s unclear how much con­tact there is between Trump and the Free­dom Par­ty at this point. But it’s not like we should­n’t expect exten­sive con­tact in the future con­sid­er­ing the enor­mous over­lap between Trump’s and the Free­dom Par­ty’s far-right anti-immi­grant pol­i­tics. Still, regard­ing the need for the Free­dom Par­ty to act as some sort of mid­dle-man between Trump and the Krem­lin, it’s hard to see why that’s nec­es­sary, espe­cial­ly giv­en Michael Fly­n­n’s own ties to Krem­lin cir­cles. And that’s part of what’s going to make this alleged con­tact between Fly­nn and the Free­dom Par­ty in the con­text of build­ing US/Russian bridges extra fas­ci­nat­ing and some­thing to watch going for­ward: while there’s no real need for an Aus­tri­an mid­dle-man in nego­ti­a­tions between a Trump admin­is­tra­tion and the Krem­lin, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion would in effect be legit­imiz­ing a far-right par­ty on world stage by grant­i­ng the Free­dom Par­ty that mid­dle-man sta­tus. And if there’s one thing very clear about the agen­da of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, it’s that pro­mot­ing the far-right, wher­ev­er it is, isn’t sim­ply going to be on the agen­da. That is the agen­da.

    So while we may not know if Gen­er­al Fly­nn actu­al­ly met with Stra­che at the Trump Tow­er, and while no such need for a Free­dom Par­ty mid­dle-man exists, there’s no rea­son to assume that such a meet­ing between the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and the Free­dom Par­ty or the cre­ation of new “bridge build­ing” far-right net­works won’t be happe­ing in the future. Along with sim­i­lar meet­ings with the rest of the glob­al far-right. After all, if you want to burn the world, it helps to build bridges to the oth­er groups that want to burn the world first.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 21, 2016, 4:19 pm
  5. It looks like the Trumpian makeover of the BBG’s var­i­ous media out­lets is already gain­ing speed, with two Trump aides get­ting sent in to over­see senior man­age­ment. And, alarm­ing, it does­n’t sound like the Trump Team is actu­al­ly required to step in to do the makeover. At least not at the Voice of Amer­i­ca, where they appear to have decid­ed to con­duct their Trumpian makeover pre­emp­tive­ly:

    Politi­co

    Trump moves to put his own stamp on Voice of Amer­i­ca

    The pres­i­dent dis­patch­es two aides to the broad­cast­ing agency that came under fire over the week­end for its Trump cov­er­age.

    By Tara Palmeri

    01/23/17 06:13 PM EST

    Updat­ed 01/24/17 07:01 PM EST

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Mon­day dis­patched two aides to scope out the stu­dios of Voice of Amer­i­ca, height­en­ing con­cerns among some long­time staffers that Trump may quick­ly put his stamp on the broad­cast­ing arm that has long pushed U.S. demo­c­ra­t­ic ideals across the world.

    The arrival of the two aides – both polit­i­cal oper­a­tives from Trump’s cam­paign – comes after Voice of Amer­i­ca received blow­back over the week­end for send­ing out a series of tweets about White House Press Sec­re­tary Sean Spicer’s claims about inau­gu­ra­tion crowd size that looked to some like an endorse­ment of his false state­ments. The news out­let lat­er delet­ed one of the tweets.

    The con­cern among some staffers is espe­cial­ly acute because Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion is get­ting con­trol over the broad­cast­ing agency just weeks after Con­gress moved to elim­i­nate the board of direc­tors that had served as an integri­ty check on the orga­ni­za­tion, instead con­sol­i­dat­ing pow­er with a CEO posi­tion appoint­ed by the pres­i­dent.

    As POLITICO report­ed last month, that change – along with a pri­or shift that allows the net­work to legal­ly reach a U.S. audi­ence — had stoked fears among some agency offi­cials that Voice of Amer­i­ca could serve as an unfet­tered pro­pa­gan­da arm for the for­mer real­i­ty TV star.

    On the first Mon­day of his admin­is­tra­tion, Trump, who has flirt­ed with the idea of launch­ing his own TV net­work, deployed two “tran­si­tion offi­cials” who will eval­u­ate the man­agers and stu­dios of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, which has an annu­al bud­get of $800 mil­lion and includes Voice of Amer­i­ca, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Mid­dle East Broad­cast Net­works.

    Trump cam­paign New Hamp­shire state direc­tor Matthew Ciepielows­ki and Wis­con­sin com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Matthew Schuck will be “tem­porar­i­ly assigned” to the CEO suite at the BBG where they will work with senior man­age­ment “to ensure an open, trans­par­ent and seam­less tran­si­tion of the BBG to the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion,” accord­ing to an email by CEO John F. Lans­ing to staff obtained by POLITICO.

    In a state­ment to POLITICO on Tues­day, Lans­ing empha­sized the agen­cy’s inde­pen­dence.

    “The BBG, includ­ing Voice of Amer­i­ca and our oth­er four net­works, is an inde­pen­dent fed­er­al agency that is legal­ly man­dat­ed to pro­duce objec­tive, pro­fes­sion­al and inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism designed to engage, inform and con­nect with peo­ple around the world in sup­port of free­dom and democ­ra­cy,” Lans­ing said. “As is rou­tine for many fed­er­al agen­cies dur­ing any pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion, yes­ter­day we wel­comed the two-per­son land­ing team from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. We look for­ward to work­ing with them as we con­tin­ue to ful­fill our mis­sion, and sup­port the inde­pen­dence of our jour­nal­ists around the world.”

    The tim­ing of the Trump aides’ arrival is not nec­es­sar­i­ly unusu­al – the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion also sent tran­si­tion offi­cials to the BBG dur­ing his tran­si­tion in 2009.

    But some senior staffers have already expressed reser­va­tions about the back­grounds of Trump’s polit­i­cal oper­a­tives. Schuck, a 2012 grad­u­ate from Mont­gomery Col­lege, was a staff writer for the right-wing web­site the Dai­ly Surge until April 2015.

    “There’s con­cern among the jour­nal­ists about what these guys are going to be doing,” said the senior VOA staffer. “Peo­ple are hang­ing tight, see­ing what will hap­pen.”

    A spokesper­son for Trump did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    Pub­lic scruti­ny of the broad­cast­ing agency’s arti­cles has already start­ed.

    Voice of Amer­i­ca direc­tor Aman­da Ben­nett explained that she pulled a tweet on VOA’s offi­cial account that fea­tured Spicer’s erro­neous state­ment that “this was the largest audi­ence to ever wit­ness an inau­gu­ra­tion, peri­od — both in per­son and around the globe,” fol­low­ing blow­back from the account’s 905,000 fol­low­ers, some of whom argued the agency shouldn’t be pro­mot­ing his com­ments with­out a fact check.

    “Irony is that VOA’s rea­son for exist­ing was to pro­vide truth to those who lived where the gov­ern­ment con­trolled the press,” tweet­ed Stu­art Stevens, a for­mer advi­sor to Mitt Romney’s 2012 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, in response to the tweet.

    Oth­er Twit­ter fol­low­ers called the net­work “pure pro­pa­gan­da” and “embar­rass­ing,” and urged the net­work to have “self-respect” for tweet­ing out Spicer’s words, with­out addi­tion­al fact-check­ing.

    Ben­nett also said she tem­porar­i­ly pulled a sto­ry about an ethics com­plaint lodged against the Trump admin­is­tra­tion because it didn’t have a response from a Trump rep­re­sen­ta­tive. The sto­ry was repost­ed lat­er with a com­ment from Trump’s attor­ney Sheri Dil­lon.

    Ben­nett said she was not ordered by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to pull the sto­ry or the tweet.

    “Ever since I arrived here in April I have been extreme­ly firm that we need to fol­low absolute­ly the best jour­nal­is­tic prac­tices – which include a dili­gent focus on facts and objec­tiv­i­ty,” Ben­nett told POLITICO in an e‑mail. “For the last nine months, we have been rou­tine­ly pulling sto­ries that do not meet those stan­dards and ask­ing that they be redone, or that addi­tion­al report­ing be done.”

    In a phone con­ver­sa­tion lat­er on Mon­day, Ben­nett added, “I know that every­one is look­ing to say that we’re being manip­u­lat­ed by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, we’re absolute­ly not.”

    The Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors is the largest pub­lic diplo­ma­cy pro­gram by the U.S. gov­ern­ment, reach­ing an audi­ence of 278 mil­lion by broad­cast­ing in 100 coun­tries and 61 lan­guages. Voice of Amer­i­ca was cre­at­ed in 1942 dur­ing World War II to send pro-democ­ra­cy news across Europe, as it aimed to counter Nazi and Japan­ese pro­pa­gan­da. The agency has since evolved into a more tra­di­tion­al news oper­a­tion, while still push­ing out the virtues of democ­ra­cy world­wide.

    Ear­ly last month, a pro­vi­sion buried into the Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Act called for dis­band­ing the bipar­ti­san board of the BBG, pleas­ing crit­ics who said the part-time board was inef­fec­tive but alarm­ing oth­ers who feared an account­abil­i­ty lay­er was being swept away.

    A for­mer board mem­ber said on Mon­day that the edi­to­r­i­al team may have not received march­ing orders from the new admin­is­tra­tion but that they’re aware of the new pow­er of Trump’s team to take over the orga­ni­za­tion with­out the fire­wall of a bipar­ti­san board.

    “They’re clear­ly just try­ing to stay in stead with their new boss­es to keep their jobs,” said the for­mer BBG board mem­ber. “If they’re start­ing to turn this into Prav­da before they are even told to.”

    The sta­tus of the board is in lim­bo, how­ev­er, since Oba­ma added a sign­ing state­ment to the NDAA, say­ing it was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al to get rid of the board because it vio­lates his con­sti­tu­tion­al right of appoint­ment. Anoth­er uncer­tain­ty is that Lans­ing can be replaced at any time for a CEO appoint­ed by the pres­i­dent.

    At the edi­to­r­i­al lev­el, there’s been cau­tion against post­ing sto­ries that don’t have a response from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, accord­ing to a senior VOA staffer. “I think there’s going to be more of a focus on mak­ing sure that we’re bal­anced,” the staffer said.

    Ben­nett said she met on Mon­day with Trump’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Schuck and Ciepielows­ki, who she said will not be involved in news deci­sions.

    “I met with them, we gave them a brief­ing. We’re going to be show­ing them around,” she said. “If peo­ple are con­cerned, a lot of peo­ple have been through tran­si­tions before and this is stan­dard pro­ce­dure. We gave them the brief­ing book.”

    When asked if she had any con­cerns about their pri­or jobs, she said, “They are who they are. They are fill­ing a func­tion that is exact­ly the same as it would be in any admin­is­tra­tion.”

    ...

    ““They’re clear­ly just try­ing to stay in stead with their new boss­es to keep their jobs,” said the for­mer BBG board mem­ber. “If they’re start­ing to turn this into Prav­da before they are even told to.””

    Yes, Voice of Amer­i­ca start­ed off its Trumpian makeover by tweet­ing out sup­port for Sean Spicer’s bla­tant lie about the inau­gu­ra­tion crowd size. But they want you to know that it total­ly was­n’t at the behest of Trump...as if that makes it bet­ter:

    ...

    The arrival of the two aides – both polit­i­cal oper­a­tives from Trump’s cam­paign – comes after Voice of Amer­i­ca received blow­back over the week­end for send­ing out a series of tweets about White House Press Sec­re­tary Sean Spicer’s claims about inau­gu­ra­tion crowd size that looked to some like an endorse­ment of his false state­ments. The news out­let lat­er delet­ed one of the tweets.

    ...

    Pub­lic scruti­ny of the broad­cast­ing agency’s arti­cles has already start­ed.

    Voice of Amer­i­ca direc­tor Aman­da Ben­nett explained that she pulled a tweet on VOA’s offi­cial account that fea­tured Spicer’s erro­neous state­ment that “this was the largest audi­ence to ever wit­ness an inau­gu­ra­tion, peri­od — both in per­son and around the globe,” fol­low­ing blow­back from the account’s 905,000 fol­low­ers, some of whom argued the agency shouldn’t be pro­mot­ing his com­ments with­out a fact check.

    “Irony is that VOA’s rea­son for exist­ing was to pro­vide truth to those who lived where the gov­ern­ment con­trolled the press,” tweet­ed Stu­art Stevens, a for­mer advi­sor to Mitt Romney’s 2012 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, in response to the tweet.

    Oth­er Twit­ter fol­low­ers called the net­work “pure pro­pa­gan­da” and “embar­rass­ing,” and urged the net­work to have “self-respect” for tweet­ing out Spicer’s words, with­out addi­tion­al fact-check­ing.

    Ben­nett also said she tem­porar­i­ly pulled a sto­ry about an ethics com­plaint lodged against the Trump admin­is­tra­tion because it didn’t have a response from a Trump rep­re­sen­ta­tive. The sto­ry was repost­ed lat­er with a com­ment from Trump’s attor­ney Sheri Dil­lon.

    Ben­nett said she was not ordered by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to pull the sto­ry or the tweet.

    “Ever since I arrived here in April I have been extreme­ly firm that we need to fol­low absolute­ly the best jour­nal­is­tic prac­tices – which include a dili­gent focus on facts and objec­tiv­i­ty,” Ben­nett told POLITICO in an e‑mail. “For the last nine months, we have been rou­tine­ly pulling sto­ries that do not meet those stan­dards and ask­ing that they be redone, or that addi­tion­al report­ing be done.”

    In a phone con­ver­sa­tion lat­er on Mon­day, Ben­nett added, “I know that every­one is look­ing to say that we’re being manip­u­lat­ed by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, we’re absolute­ly not.”

    ...

    So that hap­pened. Before Trump’s aides even got installed in the BBG’s CEO suite.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 26, 2017, 4:15 pm
  6. It looks like those plans for a Trumpian over­haul of the Broad­cast Board of Gov­er­nors (BBG) we heard about in ear­ly 2017 might be about to come to fruition.

    First, here’s an arti­cle from back in Octo­ber, a cou­ple months after Steve Ban­non left the White House. It’s about how a Ban­non ally at the BBG, Jef­frey Shapiro, had been freak­ing out BBG employ­ees by basi­cal­ly mak­ing it clear that he wants to turn the BBG into a “Ban­non lega­cy” and expel any­one not deemed to be suf­fi­cient­ly loy­al to Ban­non and Trump. And anoth­er Ban­non ally, Michael Pack, is the per­son the Trump admin­is­tra­tion would like to take over as BBG CEO even­tu­al­ly.

    It’s a reminder that, while Steve Ban­non may have tech­ni­cal­ly left the White House last year, his spir­it con­tin­ues to haunt it and that haunt­ing is get­ting worse:

    CNN

    Ban­non ally wants to turn gov­ern­ment media agency into ‘lega­cy’ for for­mer Trump advis­er

    by Hadas Gold
    Octo­ber 6, 2017: 7:32 PM ET

    Stephen Ban­non has left the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. But he’s still hav­ing an influ­ence at a gov­ern­ment agency many out­side of Wash­ing­ton haven’t heard of but wields influ­ence around the world: the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors.

    The board con­trols U.S. gov­ern­ment-fund­ed media out­lets like Voice of Amer­i­ca and Radio Free Europe. Its aim is to counter pro­pa­gan­da from repres­sive regimes with inde­pen­dent news cov­er­age and pro­mote democ­ra­cy to the rest of the world.

    An ally of Ban­non, the for­mer White House chief strate­gist who has returned to Bre­it­bart, is expect­ed to be nom­i­nat­ed as BBG’s next chief exec­u­tive.

    But it’s anoth­er man whose state­ments are rais­ing con­cern inter­nal­ly. Jef­frey Scott Shapiro, a for­mer inves­tiga­tive reporter who has ties to Ban­non, was tapped by the White House for a posi­tion with­in the BBG over the sum­mer. The BBG placed him in a job as a senior advis­er to the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing, a board divi­sion that runs Radio and TV Mar­ti and oth­er pro­grams aimed at Cuba.

    Shapiro has told col­leagues that his goal is to turn the entire Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors into a “Ban­non lega­cy,” accord­ing to three sources with­in or famil­iar with the agency. He has also said he believes the Cas­tros have infil­trat­ed the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing, the sources told CNN.

    The Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing, with an annu­al bud­get of $28 mil­lion and 125 employ­ees, uses “satel­lite tele­vi­sion, short­wave and AM radio, as well as ... flash dri­ves, emails, DVDs, and SMS text [to bring] unbi­ased, objec­tive infor­ma­tion to all Cubans,” accord­ing to its web­site.

    The Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors is con­sid­ered the U.S. gov­ern­men­t’s largest pub­lic diplo­ma­cy pro­gram. It reach­es an audi­ence of 278 mil­lion in more than 100 coun­tries and 61 lan­guages.

    Accord­ing to three sources, Shapiro has alarmed BBG employ­ees, who see them­selves as stew­ards of a free press and democ­ra­cy to a peo­ple liv­ing under a repres­sive regime.

    “[Shapiro has] been known to tell peo­ple that he’d like to see the BBG turned into a Ban­non lega­cy,” said a BBG offi­cial who request­ed anonymi­ty. “Jeff Shapiro came in telling every­one he bumps into that he’s a Ban­non guy, that he talks to Ban­non every day, telling peo­ple ‘Ban­non had entered the BBG through me.’ ”

    Shapiro has a long and var­ied career. In addi­tion to his work as a lawyer, he’s writ­ten for Ban­non at Bre­it­bart. More recent­ly he has worked as a Wash­ing­ton Times inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist. After last year’s elec­tion, Shapiro wrote an op-ed defend­ing Ban­non from claims that Ban­non was anti-semit­ic and a white nation­al­ist.

    Col­leagues at the BBG point­ed to some of Shapiro’s writ­ings that have pushed ques­tion­able the­o­ries. For exam­ple, in a 2011 col­umn pub­lished in the Wash­ing­ton Times and Bre­it­bart, Shapiro lament­ed that jour­nal­ists had not inves­ti­gat­ed the authen­tic­i­ty of Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma’s birth cer­tifi­cate “with the same inves­tiga­tive dri­ve with which they did inves­ti­gate Water­gate, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton’s alleged indis­cre­tions and the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s mis­steps in Iraq.”

    Now, at the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing, he has told peo­ple he is there to root out any­one who is not loy­al to Trump and Ban­non, accord­ing to the three sources.

    “He sees him­self as the Ban­non talk­er, the Ban­non whis­per­er inside of the BBG to root out all Trump dis­loy­al­ists,” said a per­son with detailed knowl­edge of the board and its dis­cus­sions. “He tru­ly believes that the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing is in the pock­et of Cas­tro. That it’s full of Trump dis­loy­al­ty and those kinds of things and it’s his job to make sure it is a tool of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.”

    It’s not clear whether Shapiro and Ban­non actu­al­ly talk on a reg­u­lar basis. A spokesper­son for Ban­non did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    A spokesper­son for the BBG declined to com­ment, say­ing they don’t dis­cuss per­son­nel or per­son­nel issues, and direct­ed ques­tions to Shapiro direct­ly, who did not respond to emails seek­ing com­ment.

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion placed two oth­er advis­ers into posi­tions at the BBG in Jan­u­ary: Matthew Ciepielows­ki, New Hamp­shire state direc­tor for the Trump cam­paign, and Matthew Schuck, who was the cam­paign’s Wis­con­sin com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor. Their roles were to act as liaisons between the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and the BBG head­quar­ters. A BBG offi­cial said they have been con­struc­tive mem­bers of the team.

    At the moment, nei­ther Shapiro, Ciepielows­ki nor Schuck have deci­sion mak­ing pow­er. But anoth­er Ban­non-ally may soon be in charge of the entire oper­a­tion and with more uni­lat­er­al pow­er than the cur­rent CEO because of forth­com­ing changes to the lead­er­ship struc­ture. Peo­ple with­in the BBG won­der what, if any posi­tions Shapiro may have after the new CEO takes over.

    Michael Pack, a doc­u­men­tary film mak­er and for­mer head of the con­ser­v­a­tive Clare­mont Insti­tute, has been the White House­’s expect­ed pick since ear­ly sum­mer to serve as CEO of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. Pack, who at one point also served on the Cor­po­ra­tion for Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing, worked on two doc­u­men­taries with Ban­non. Pack also appeared on Ban­non’s radio show and wrote an op-ed prais­ing Ban­non as a pio­neer con­ser­v­a­tive who can break through the “left-wing monop­oly” on doc­u­men­tary films.

    While his nom­i­na­tion has not yet been sent to the Sen­ate, Pack has been prepar­ing for the move, step­ping down as pres­i­dent of the Clare­mont Insti­tute in Cal­i­for­nia over the sum­mer.

    Should Pack be con­firmed, he’d have more uni­lat­er­al pow­er over the agency because of a pro­vi­sion enact­ed in the last weeks of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion that would dis­band the bipar­ti­san board, which sup­port­ers saw as a fire­wall between the admin­is­tra­tion and the agency. Pro­po­nents though pro­mot­ed the move as one to make the orga­ni­za­tion more effi­cient.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ban­non ally wants to turn gov­ern­ment media agency into ‘lega­cy’ for for­mer Trump advis­er” by Hadas Gold; CNN; 10/06/2017

    “An ally of Ban­non, the for­mer White House chief strate­gist who has returned to Bre­it­bart, is expect­ed to be nom­i­nat­ed as BBG’s next chief exec­u­tive.”

    Yep, the next CEO of the BBG is very like­ly Ban­non ally Michael Pack. Of course.

    ...
    Michael Pack, a doc­u­men­tary film mak­er and for­mer head of the con­ser­v­a­tive Clare­mont Insti­tute, has been the White House­’s expect­ed pick since ear­ly sum­mer to serve as CEO of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors. Pack, who at one point also served on the Cor­po­ra­tion for Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing, worked on two doc­u­men­taries with Ban­non. Pack also appeared on Ban­non’s radio show and wrote an op-ed prais­ing Ban­non as a pio­neer con­ser­v­a­tive who can break through the “left-wing monop­oly” on doc­u­men­tary films.

    While his nom­i­na­tion has not yet been sent to the Sen­ate, Pack has been prepar­ing for the move, step­ping down as pres­i­dent of the Clare­mont Insti­tute in Cal­i­for­nia over the sum­mer.
    ...

    But it’s the Ban­non ally who is already at the BBG, Jef­fery Shapiro, that has peo­ple imme­di­ate­ly con­cerned giv­en his open dec­la­ra­tion that he’s there to turn the BBG into a “Ban­non lega­cy” and root out any peo­ple not loy­al to Ban­non and Trump:

    ...
    But it’s anoth­er man whose state­ments are rais­ing con­cern inter­nal­ly. Jef­frey Scott Shapiro, a for­mer inves­tiga­tive reporter who has ties to Ban­non, was tapped by the White House for a posi­tion with­in the BBG over the sum­mer. The BBG placed him in a job as a senior advis­er to the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing, a board divi­sion that runs Radio and TV Mar­ti and oth­er pro­grams aimed at Cuba.

    Shapiro has told col­leagues that his goal is to turn the entire Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors into a “Ban­non lega­cy,” accord­ing to three sources with­in or famil­iar with the agency. He has also said he believes the Cas­tros have infil­trat­ed the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing, the sources told CNN.

    ...

    Accord­ing to three sources, Shapiro has alarmed BBG employ­ees, who see them­selves as stew­ards of a free press and democ­ra­cy to a peo­ple liv­ing under a repres­sive regime.

    “[Shapiro has] been known to tell peo­ple that he’d like to see the BBG turned into a Ban­non lega­cy,” said a BBG offi­cial who request­ed anonymi­ty. “Jeff Shapiro came in telling every­one he bumps into that he’s a Ban­non guy, that he talks to Ban­non every day, telling peo­ple ‘Ban­non had entered the BBG through me.’ ”

    Shapiro has a long and var­ied career. In addi­tion to his work as a lawyer, he’s writ­ten for Ban­non at Bre­it­bart. More recent­ly he has worked as a Wash­ing­ton Times inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist. After last year’s elec­tion, Shapiro wrote an op-ed defend­ing Ban­non from claims that Ban­non was anti-semit­ic and a white nation­al­ist.

    ...

    Now, at the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing, he has told peo­ple he is there to root out any­one who is not loy­al to Trump and Ban­non, accord­ing to the three sources.

    “He sees him­self as the Ban­non talk­er, the Ban­non whis­per­er inside of the BBG to root out all Trump dis­loy­al­ists,” said a per­son with detailed knowl­edge of the board and its dis­cus­sions. “He tru­ly believes that the Office of Cuba Broad­cast­ing is in the pock­et of Cas­tro. That it’s full of Trump dis­loy­al­ty and those kinds of things and it’s his job to make sure it is a tool of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.”
    ...

    So that was what we were hear­ing about the Ban­non-led plot to take over the BBG back in Octo­ber. Here’s the recent update on that plot:

    Accord­ing to whistle­blow­ers, there is a plot being hatched by Jef­frey Shapiro and White House Asso­ciate Direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial Per­son­nel Jen­nifer Locetta to push out the cur­rent Oba­ma-appoint­ed BBG CEO and replace him with a Trump favorite. But that replace­ment CEO would­n’t be Michael Pack, as that would require a Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing. Instead, hte plan is to appoint Trump appoint André Mendes, who cur­rent­ly works at the BBG, as the ‘inter­im CEO’. And as inter­im CEO, Mendes appar­ent­ly has plans to then dis­miss the rest of the BBG board. This is seen as both alarm­ing and arguably ille­gal since the rules say only the BBG board itself can appoint an inter­im CEO. But that’s the plan these Ban­non loy­al­ists appar­ent­ly have in mind, ille­gal or not:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    DC

    House Dem: Plot To Oust Broad­cast Board CEO ‘Our Worst Night­mare’
    By Alice Oll­stein | March 21, 2018 11:14 am

    The top Demo­c­rat on the House For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee says whistle­blow­ers have detailed a plot by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to oust the CEO of the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors (BBG) and replace him with some­one favored by the White House.

    Rep. Eliot Engel (D‑NY) warned in a let­ter to the BBG, obtained by TPM, that that can­di­date, André Mendes, then plans to dis­miss the exist­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, accord­ing to the whistle­blow­ers.

    In a state­ment to TPM, Engel called the alleged plot “our worst night­mare com­ing true.”

    “This action would vio­late cur­rent law and rep­re­sent what these whistle­blow­ers have described as ‘a coup at the BBG,’ pre­sum­ably with the aim of push­ing the BBG’s jour­nal­ism toward a view­point favor­able of (sic) the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion,” Engel wrote to the BBG. “I view these claims as cred­i­ble and this sce­nario as out­ra­geous and unac­cept­able.”

    The cur­rent BBG CEO, John Lans­ing, was appoint­ed in 2015 by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. Lans­ing is in charge of Voice of Amer­i­ca and oth­er branch­es of the agency, over­see­ing US-fund­ed media abroad. Mendes cur­rent­ly runs the Cuba divi­sion of the agency.

    Less than a month after Pres­i­dent Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion, Bre­it­bart News pub­lished a list titled “Top 10 Holdover Oba­ma Bureau­crats Pres­i­dent Trump Can Fire Or Remove Today.” Lans­ing was num­ber three.

    “The prob­lem in recent years is that Voice of Amer­i­ca, Radio Free Europe, and the oth­er broad­cast­ing enti­ties run by BBG have shift­ed from their tra­di­tion­al mis­sion of pro­mot­ing clas­sic Amer­i­can val­ues and inter­ests to the rest of the world, and have become mir­ror images of main­stream media out­lets like CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS,” Bre­it­bart wrote. “Cur­rent CEO John Lans­ing, a vet­er­an cable indus­try exec­u­tive, took over the reins in 2015 and has done noth­ing to stop that trend.”

    Now, Engel says whistle­blow­ers have informed him that a for­mer Bre­it­bart con­trib­u­tor Jef­frey Shapiro has been work­ing on a plan with White House Asso­ciate Direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial Per­son­nel Jen­nifer Locetta to push Lans­ing out the door and scrap the agency’s move toward inde­pen­dent, non-par­ti­san jour­nal­ism.

    “Accord­ing to sev­er­al accounts, Messrs. Mendes and Shapiro have made it clear in recent months their inten­tion to remake the BBG into an agency aimed at pro­mot­ing the Trump Administration’s agen­da, which would con­sti­tute an egre­gious vio­la­tion of the law requir­ing a ‘fire­wall’ between BBG’s man­age­ment and its inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists,” Engel wrote this week. “Such a scheme would rep­re­sent a shock­ing abuse of author­i­ty and would reveal an effort by this admin­is­tra­tion to turn the BBG into a pro­pa­gan­da machine.”

    Shapiro, a close ally of Steve Ban­non, report­ed­ly told col­leagues when he was appoint­ed to the agency last sum­mer that his goal was to turn the BBG into a “Ban­non lega­cy” and “root out all Trump dis­loy­al­ists.”

    ...

    Speak­ing to CNN, which first report­ed Engel’s let­ter, Mendes denied involve­ment in the plot to oust Lans­ing, but did say he has spo­ken with mem­bers of Con­gress about becom­ing the inter­im CEO of the Board.

    But Engel empha­sizes that even if Lans­ing is pushed out, U.S. law stip­u­lates that the bipar­ti­san Board of Gov­er­nors is in charge of select­ing an inter­im replace­ment until the Sen­ate can con­firm a per­ma­nent one.

    “The rea­son we required the new CEO to be con­firmed by the Sen­ate was so no Pres­i­dent could install some­one unchecked to take over Amer­i­can broad­cast­ing,” Engel wrote in a state­ment to TPM. “Try­ing to make an end run and appoint some­one to lead the BBG with a par­ti­san agen­da is our worst night­mare com­ing true. If the Admin­is­tra­tion tries to move ahead with this plan, it will be vital for the Board to stand its ground and exer­cise its remain­ing author­i­ty.”

    Before Trump was even sworn into office, offi­cials at the BBG have expressed fear that the Pres­i­dent would remake the agency and make it more pro­pa­gan­dis­tic. A pro­vi­sion tucked into a mas­sive spend­ing bill passed in the final months of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion could make that goal eas­i­er to accom­plish, by con­cen­trat­ing most of the BBG’s pow­er in a CEO appoint­ed by the Pres­i­dent. In the very first days of his pres­i­den­cy, Trump dis­patched for­mer cam­paign aides to Voice of Amer­i­ca to explore what changes could be made, but has until now refrained from a major over­haul.

    Engel is demand­ing the agency turn over any mem­o­ran­da, notes or com­mu­ni­ca­tions relat­ed to the alleged plot by the end of this week.

    ...

    ———-

    “House Dem: Plot To Oust Broad­cast Board CEO ‘Our Worst Night­mare’” by Alice Oll­stein; Talk­ing Points Memo; 03/21/2018

    “Rep. Eliot Engel (D‑NY) warned in a let­ter to the BBG, obtained by TPM, that that can­di­date, André Mendes, then plans to dis­miss the exist­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, accord­ing to the whistle­blow­ers.”

    That appears to be the plan: fire the cur­rent CEO, get Mendes installed as the inter­im CEO, and then just fire the whole board at that point and turn it into a “Ban­non lega­cy”.

    And while Mendes denies involve­ment in the plot to oust Lans­ing, he did admit to speak­ing with mem­bers of Con­gress about becom­ing the inter­im CEO of the Board (which sure sounds a lot like being involved in that plot):

    ...
    Now, Engel says whistle­blow­ers have informed him that a for­mer Bre­it­bart con­trib­u­tor Jef­frey Shapiro has been work­ing on a plan with White House Asso­ciate Direc­tor of Pres­i­den­tial Per­son­nel Jen­nifer Locetta to push Lans­ing out the door and scrap the agency’s move toward inde­pen­dent, non-par­ti­san jour­nal­ism.

    “Accord­ing to sev­er­al accounts, Messrs. Mendes and Shapiro have made it clear in recent months their inten­tion to remake the BBG into an agency aimed at pro­mot­ing the Trump Administration’s agen­da, which would con­sti­tute an egre­gious vio­la­tion of the law requir­ing a ‘fire­wall’ between BBG’s man­age­ment and its inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists,” Engel wrote this week. “Such a scheme would rep­re­sent a shock­ing abuse of author­i­ty and would reveal an effort by this admin­is­tra­tion to turn the BBG into a pro­pa­gan­da machine.”

    ...

    Speak­ing to CNN, which first report­ed Engel’s let­ter, Mendes denied involve­ment in the plot to oust Lans­ing, but did say he has spo­ken with mem­bers of Con­gress about becom­ing the inter­im CEO of the Board.
    ...

    And this plot is, of course, pred­i­cat­ed on break­ing the rules. Because it’s not mem­bers of Con­gress who decide who the inter­im CEO would be. It’s the board itself:

    ...
    But Engel empha­sizes that even if Lans­ing is pushed out, U.S. law stip­u­lates that the bipar­ti­san Board of Gov­er­nors is in charge of select­ing an inter­im replace­ment until the Sen­ate can con­firm a per­ma­nent one.

    “The rea­son we required the new CEO to be con­firmed by the Sen­ate was so no Pres­i­dent could install some­one unchecked to take over Amer­i­can broad­cast­ing,” Engel wrote in a state­ment to TPM. “Try­ing to make an end run and appoint some­one to lead the BBG with a par­ti­san agen­da is our worst night­mare com­ing true. If the Admin­is­tra­tion tries to move ahead with this plan, it will be vital for the Board to stand its ground and exer­cise its remain­ing author­i­ty.”
    ...

    But it’s not like we should expect rules to thwart a Ban­non plot.

    And that’s the plot to make the BBG a “Ban­non lega­cy”. A plot that the Bre­it­bart crowd and pre­sum­ably been work­ing on for quite a while since the takeover the the BBG was an ear­ly goal:

    ...
    The cur­rent BBG CEO, John Lans­ing, was appoint­ed in 2015 by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. Lans­ing is in charge of Voice of Amer­i­ca and oth­er branch­es of the agency, over­see­ing US-fund­ed media abroad. Mendes cur­rent­ly runs the Cuba divi­sion of the agency.

    Less than a month after Pres­i­dent Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion, Bre­it­bart News pub­lished a list titled “Top 10 Holdover Oba­ma Bureau­crats Pres­i­dent Trump Can Fire Or Remove Today.” Lans­ing was num­ber three.
    ...

    So will this plot suc­ceed now that it’s been exposed? We’ll see, but either way, it’s just one chap­ter in the much larg­er “Ban­non lega­cy” of infil­trat­ing the gov­ern­ment with min­ions who are there to do his bid­ding.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 21, 2018, 11:11 am

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