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

For The Record  

FTR #1017 Supreme Court Trump Card: Family Trump, Family [Anthony] Kennedy and Peter Thiel

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

Carl Schmitt, a chief influ­ence on Peter Thiel’s legal think­ing, on the right.

Intro­duc­tion: Much has been said about Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­na­tion of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court jus­tice, replac­ing Antho­ny Kennnedy.

In this pro­gram, we high­light exten­sive net­work­ing between the Trump and Kennedy fam­i­lies and, in turn, some appar­ent “deep net­work­ing” between some of the indi­vid­u­als in the Trump/Kennedy nexus and insti­tu­tions linked to key ele­ments of the remark­able and dead­ly Bor­mann flight cap­i­tal net­work.

Deutsche Bank and the shad­ow of the I.G. Far­ben chem­i­cal com­plex fig­ure into the lat­ter part of this equa­tion.

The con­nec­tions between the fam­i­ly of Antho­ny Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Antho­ny Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank. In FTR #919, we ana­lyzed a New York Times arti­cle high­light­ing Don­ald Trump’s alto­geth­er opaque real estate devel­op­ments and evi­dence that those projects had sig­nif­i­cant links to ele­ments of the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work.

In that pro­gram we set forth the pri­ma­ry role of Deutsche Bank in financ­ing Trump’s real estate projects.

” . . . While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a stead­fast finan­cial backer of the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial candidate’s busi­ness inter­ests. Since 1998, the bank has led or par­tic­i­pat­ed in loans of at least $2.5 bil­lion to com­pa­nies affil­i­at­ed with Mr. Trump, accord­ing to a Wall Street Jour­nal analy­sis of pub­lic records and peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter. That doesn’t include at least anoth­er $1 bil­lion in loan com­mit­ments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affil­i­at­ed enti­ties. The long-stand­ing con­nec­tion makes Frank­furt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. oper­a­tion and has been grap­pling with rep­u­ta­tion­al prob­lems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the finan­cial insti­tu­tion with prob­a­bly the strongest ties to the con­tro­ver­sial New York busi­ness­man. . . .”

The fact that Deutsche Bank is the pri­ma­ry finan­cial backer of “Trump Incor­po­rat­ed” is of pri­ma­ry impor­tance. The bank is cen­tral to the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work.

The con­nec­tions between the fam­i­ly of Antho­ny Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Antho­ny Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank.

Fur­ther­more, jurists who clerked for Antho­ny Kennedy fig­ure promi­nent­ly in Trump’s judi­cial appoint­ments:

  1. ” . . . . He [Trump] picked Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such, who had served as a law clerk to Jus­tice Kennedy, to fill Jus­tice Scalia’s seat. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Then, after Jus­tice Gorsuch’s nom­i­na­tion was announced, a White House offi­cial sin­gled out two can­di­dates for the next Supreme Court vacan­cy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the Unit­ed States Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit and Judge Ray­mond M. Keth­ledge of the Unit­ed States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Cir­cuit, in Cincin­nati. The two judges had some­thing in com­mon: They had both clerked for Jus­tice Kennedy. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In the mean­time, as the White House turned to stock­ing the low­er courts, it did not over­look Jus­tice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nom­i­nat­ed three of them to fed­er­al appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scud­der, both of whom have been con­firmed, and Eric Mur­phy, the Ohio solic­i­tor gen­er­al, whom Mr. Trump nom­i­nat­ed to the Sixth Cir­cuit this month. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Jus­tice Kennedy’s son, Justin . . . . spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, even­tu­al­ly ris­ing to become the bank’s glob­al head of real estate cap­i­tal mar­kets, and he worked close­ly with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate devel­op­er, accord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of his role. Dur­ing Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most impor­tant lender, dis­pens­ing well over $1 bil­lion in loans to him for the ren­o­va­tion and con­struc­tion of sky­scrap­ers in New York and Chica­go at a time oth­er main­stream banks were wary of doing busi­ness with him because of his trou­bled busi­ness his­to­ry. . . .”

After Kennedy left Deutsche Bank in 2009 he went on to become co-CEO LNR Prop­er­ty LLC. LNR Prop­er­ty saved Jared Kushner’s mid­town Man­hat­tan prop­er­ty in 2011:

  1. ” . . . . from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Prop­er­ty LLC with Tobin Cobb. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Accord­ing the New York Times, in 2007 Kush­n­er Com­pa­nies pur­chased ‘an alu­minum-clad office tow­er in Mid­town Man­hat­tan, for a record price of $1.8 bil­lion.’ At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was ‘con­sid­ered a clas­sic exam­ple of reck­less under­writ­ing. The trans­ac­tion was so high­ly lever­aged that the cash flow from rents amount­ed to only 65 per­cent of the debt ser­vice.’ . . .”
  3.  ” . . . Who came to the res­cue? None oth­er than LNR Prop­er­ty, the com­pa­ny whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. Accord­ing to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kush­n­er and LNR ‘reached a pos­si­ble agree­ment with LNR Prop­er­ty, a firm spe­cial­iz­ing in restruc­tur­ing trou­bled debt and which over­sees the mort­gage, that would allow him to retain con­trol of the tow­er by mod­i­fy­ing the terms of the $1.2 bil­lion mort­gage tied to the office por­tion of the build­ing.’ . . .”

Peter Thiel

The links between Trump­World and Antho­ny Kennedy’s sons is deep­er still. Kennedy’s oth­er son Gre­go­ry, has long-stand­ing ties to Trump Sil­i­con Val­ley advis­er Peter Thiel, whom we first ana­lyzed in FTR #718.

” . . . . . . . . Kennedy’s seat, mean­time, seemed des­tined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glow­ing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Don­ald Trump Jr. through New York real estate cir­cles, and whose oth­er adult child has con­nec­tions to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Sil­i­con Val­ley advis­er Peter Thiel, most recent­ly when the Kennedy firm Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers worked with Thiel’s Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies. . . .”

Gre­go­ry Kennedy’s DTA has an unusu­al­ly close rela­tion­ship with Palan­tir, a com­pa­ny that has helped the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

Kennedy’s DTA has oth­er per­son­al con­nec­tions to Palan­tir. Alex Fish­man and Alex Davis, two oth­er DTA founders, “enjoyed a very close rela­tion­ship” with Palan­tir co-founder Alex Karp, accord­ing to the law­suit.

It should be not­ed that the alleged secre­cy with which Palan­tir treats its oper­at­ing and invest­ing infor­ma­tion is char­ac­ter­is­tic of Bor­mann orga­ni­za­tions. A clos­et­ed, insid­ers-only oper­at­ing eth­ic serves the need for this con­sum­mate­ly pow­er­ful orga­ni­za­tion to main­tain a rel­a­tive­ly low pro­file, even as it gains pow­er, influ­ence and wealth.

” . . . . Yet Palan­tir — whose stock changes hands only through pri­vate trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed infor­ma­tion about its busi­ness pri­vate. . . .”

A law­suit by Palan­tir investor KT4 Part­ners alleges that Palan­tir is ille­gal­ly block­ing investors from sell­ing shares in the com­pa­ny and that Kennedy’s Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advi­sors (DTA) is a key part­ner and ben­e­fi­cia­ry of this strat­e­gy.

KT4 claims that when it tried to sell its shares of Palan­tir to a third-par­ty, Palan­tir would have DTA con­tact the third-par­ty and con­vince them to have Palan­tir sells them the shares direct­ly instead. DTA would then col­lect a com­mis­sion.

The cen­tral dynam­ic in the alle­ga­tions of plain­tiff (and Palan­tir investor) KT4 is set forth as fol­lows: ” . . . . But remark­ably, KT4 claims that when Palan­tir receives infor­ma­tion from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that infor­ma­tion to con­tact the buy­er and per­suade them instead to buy shares direct­ly from the com­pa­ny or from cer­tain Palan­tir insid­ers. One par­tic­u­lar bro­ker, Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers, or DTA, repeat­ed­ly gets com­mis­sions from these sales, even when it ‘per­formed no legit­i­mate work,’ KT4 claims. KT4 says it expe­ri­enced inter­fer­ence by Palan­tir when it tried to sell shares to High­bridge Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMor­gan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 noti­fied Palan­tir of the planned sale, Palan­tir turned around and instruct­ed DTA to ‘take the oppor­tu­ni­ty, on Palantir’s behalf,‘and arrange a sale from Palan­tir to High­bridge instead, accord­ing to the law­suit. . . .”

In FTR #946, we exam­ined Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, its Trump and Steve Ban­non-linked tech firm that har­vest­ed Face­book data on behalf of the Trump cam­paign.

Peter Thiel’s Palan­tir was appar­ent­ly deeply involved with Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca’s gam­ing of per­son­al data har­vest­ed from Face­book in order to engi­neer an elec­toral vic­to­ry for Trump, set­ting the GOP cam­paign to con­trol the Supreme Court in a deep­er, broad­er con­text.

Thiel was an ear­ly investor in Face­book, at one point was its largest share­hold­er and is still one of its largest share­hold­ers. ” . . . . It was a Palan­tir employ­ee in Lon­don, work­ing close­ly with the data sci­en­tists build­ing Cambridge’s psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­fil­ing tech­nol­o­gy, who sug­gest­ed the sci­en­tists cre­ate their own app — a mobile-phone-based per­son­al­i­ty quiz — to gain access to Face­book users’ friend net­works, accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by The New York Times. The rev­e­la­tions pulled Palan­tir — co-found­ed by the wealthy lib­er­tar­i­an Peter Thiel — into the furor sur­round­ing Cam­bridge, which improp­er­ly obtained Face­book data to build ana­lyt­i­cal tools it deployed on behalf of Don­ald J. Trump and oth­er Repub­li­can can­di­dates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a sup­port­er of Pres­i­dent Trump, serves on the board at Face­book. ‘There were senior Palan­tir employ­ees that were also work­ing on the Face­book data,’ said Christo­pher Wylie, a data expert and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca co-founder, in tes­ti­mo­ny before British law­mak­ers on Tues­day. . . . The con­nec­tions between Palan­tir and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca were thrust into the spot­light by Mr. Wylie’s tes­ti­mo­ny on Tues­day. Both com­pa­nies are linked to tech-dri­ven bil­lion­aires who backed Mr. Trump’s cam­paign: Cam­bridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mer­cer, the com­put­er sci­en­tist and hedge fund mag­nate, while Palan­tir was co-found­ed in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an ini­tial investor in Face­book. . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  1. Review of Peter Thiel’s high regard for Carl Schmitt: “. . . . a Nazi and the Third Reich’s pre­em­i­nent legal the­o­rist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspir­ing throw­back to a pre-Enlight­en­ment age, who exalts strug­gle and insists that the dis­cov­ery of ene­mies is the foun­da­tion of pol­i­tics. . .” 
  2. Review of Peter Thiel’s ear­ly legal expe­ri­ence with Sul­li­van & Cromwell, the Dulles law firm.
  3. A recount­ing of the role of John Fos­ter Dulles and Sul­li­van & Cromwell’s roles in the for­ma­tion of I.G. Far­ben.
  4. Review of Thiel’s Ger­man her­itage and his father’s prob­a­ble role with one of the I.G. suc­ces­sor com­pa­nies.

1a. The con­nec­tions between the fam­i­ly of Antho­ny Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Antho­ny Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank. In FTR #919, we ana­lyzed a New York Times arti­cle high­light­ing Don­ald Trump’s alto­geth­er opaque real estate devel­op­ments and evi­dence that those projects had sig­nif­i­cant links to ele­ments of the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work.

In that pro­gram we set forth the pri­ma­ry role of Deutsche Bank in financ­ing Trump’s real estate projects.

” . . . While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a stead­fast finan­cial backer of the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial candidate’s busi­ness inter­ests. Since 1998, the bank has led or par­tic­i­pat­ed in loans of at least $2.5 bil­lion to com­pa­nies affil­i­at­ed with Mr. Trump, accord­ing to a Wall Street Jour­nal analy­sis of pub­lic records and peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter. That doesn’t include at least anoth­er $1 bil­lion in loan com­mit­ments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affil­i­at­ed enti­ties. The long-stand­ing con­nec­tion makes Frank­furt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. oper­a­tion and has been grap­pling with rep­u­ta­tion­al prob­lems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the finan­cial insti­tu­tion with prob­a­bly the strongest ties to the con­tro­ver­sial New York busi­ness­man. . . .”

The fact that Deutsche Bank is the pri­ma­ry finan­cial backer of “Trump Incor­po­rat­ed” is of pri­ma­ry impor­tance. The bank is cen­tral to the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work.

Mar­tin Bor­mann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Man­ning; Copy­right 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stu­art Inc.; ISBN 0–8184-0309–8; p. 139.

“. . . . When Bor­mann gave the order for his rep­re­sen­ta­tives to resume pur­chas­es of Amer­i­can cor­po­rate stocks, it was usu­al­ly done through the neu­tral coun­tries of Switzer­land and Argenti­na. From for­eign exchange funds on deposit in Swiss banks and in Deutsche Sudamerikan­ishe Bank, the Buenos Aires branch of Deutsche Bank, large demand deposits were placed in the prin­ci­pal mon­ey-cen­ter banks of New York City; Nation­al City (now Citibank), Chase (now Chase Man­hat­tan N.A.), Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Hanover (now man­u­fac­tur­ers Hanover Trust), Mor­gan Guar­an­ty, and Irv­ing Trust. Such deposits are inter­est-free and the banks can invest this mon­ey as they wish, thus turn­ing tidy prof­its for them­selves. In return, they pro­vide rea­son­able ser­vices such as the pur­chase of stocks and trans­fer or pay­ment of mon­ey on demand by cus­tomers of Deutsche bank such as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Bor­mann busi­ness orga­ni­za­tions and and Mar­tin Bor­mann him­self, who has demand accounts in three New York City banks. They con­tin­ue to do so. The Ger­man invest­ment in Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions from these sources exceed­ed $5 bil­lion and made the Bor­mann eco­nom­ic struc­ture a web of pow­er and influ­ence. The two Ger­man-owned banks of Spain, Ban­co Ale­man Transat­lanti­co (now named Ban­co Com­er­cial Transat­lanti­co), and Ban­co Ger­man­i­co de la Amer­i­ca del Sur, S.A., a sub­sidiary of Deutsche Bank served to chan­nel Ger­man mon­ey from Spain to South Amer­i­ca, where fur­ther invest­ments were made. . . .”

1b. Bor­man­n’s FBI file revealed that he had been bank­ing under his own name in New York for some time.

Mar­tin Bor­mann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Man­ning; Copy­right 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stu­art Inc.; ISBN 0–8184-0309–8; p. 205.

. . . . The file revealed that he had been bank­ing under his own name from his office in Ger­many in Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires since 1941; that he held one joint account with the Argen­tin­ian dic­ta­tor Juan Per­on, and on August 4, 5 and 14, 1967, had writ­ten checks on demand accounts in first Nation­al City Bank (Over­seas Divi­sion) of New York, The Chase Man­hat­tan Bank, and Man­u­fac­tur­ers Hanover Trust Co., all cleared through Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires. . . . 

1c. The con­nec­tions between the fam­i­ly of Antho­ny Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Antho­ny Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank.

Fur­ther­more, jurists who clerked for Antho­ny Kennedy fig­ure promi­nent­ly in Trump’s judi­cial appoint­ments:

  1. ” . . . . He [Trump] picked Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such, who had served as a law clerk to Jus­tice Kennedy, to fill Jus­tice Scalia’s seat. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Then, after Jus­tice Gorsuch’s nom­i­na­tion was announced, a White House offi­cial sin­gled out two can­di­dates for the next Supreme Court vacan­cy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the Unit­ed States Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit and Judge Ray­mond M. Keth­ledge of the Unit­ed States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Cir­cuit, in Cincin­nati. The two judges had some­thing in com­mon: They had both clerked for Jus­tice Kennedy. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In the mean­time, as the White House turned to stock­ing the low­er courts, it did not over­look Jus­tice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nom­i­nat­ed three of them to fed­er­al appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scud­der, both of whom have been con­firmed, and Eric Mur­phy, the Ohio solic­i­tor gen­er­al, whom Mr. Trump nom­i­nat­ed to the Sixth Cir­cuit this month. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Jus­tice Kennedy’s son, Justin . . . . spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, even­tu­al­ly ris­ing to become the bank’s glob­al head of real estate cap­i­tal mar­kets, and he worked close­ly with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate devel­op­er, accord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of his role. Dur­ing Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most impor­tant lender, dis­pens­ing well over $1 bil­lion in loans to him for the ren­o­va­tion and con­struc­tion of sky­scrap­ers in New York and Chica­go at a time oth­er main­stream banks were wary of doing busi­ness with him because of his trou­bled busi­ness his­to­ry. . . .”

“Inside the White House’s Qui­et Cam­paign to Cre­ate a Supreme Court Open­ing” by Adam Lip­tak and Mag­gie Haber­man; The New York Times; 06/28/2018.

 Pres­i­dent Trump sin­gled him out for praise even while attack­ing oth­er mem­bers of the Supreme Court. The White House nom­i­nat­ed peo­ple close to him to impor­tant judi­cial posts. And mem­bers of the Trump fam­i­ly forged per­son­al con­nec­tions.

Their goal was to assure Jus­tice Antho­ny M. Kennedy that his judi­cial lega­cy would be in good hands should he step down at the end of the court’s term that end­ed this week, as he was rumored to be con­sid­er­ing. Allies of the White House were more blunt, warn­ing the 81-year-old jus­tice that time was of the essence. There was no telling, they said, what would hap­pen if Democ­rats gained con­trol of the Sen­ate after the Novem­ber elec­tions and had the pow­er to block the president’s choice as his suc­ces­sor. . . .

. . . .When Mr. Trump took office last year, he already had a Supreme Court vacan­cy to fill, the one cre­at­ed by the 2016 death of Jus­tice Antonin Scalia. But Mr. Trump dear­ly want­ed a sec­ond vacan­cy, one that could trans­form the court for a gen­er­a­tion or more. So he used the first open­ing to help cre­ate the sec­ond one. He picked Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such, who had served as a law clerk to Jus­tice Kennedy, to fill Jus­tice Scalia’s seat. . . .

. . . .Then, after Jus­tice Gorsuch’s nom­i­na­tion was announced, a White House offi­cial sin­gled out two can­di­dates for the next Supreme Court vacan­cy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the Unit­ed States Court of Appeals for the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Cir­cuit and Judge Ray­mond M. Keth­ledge of the Unit­ed States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Cir­cuit, in Cincin­nati.

The two judges had some­thing in com­mon: They had both clerked for Jus­tice Kennedy.

In the mean­time, as the White House turned to stock­ing the low­er courts, it did not over­look Jus­tice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nom­i­nat­ed three of them to fed­er­al appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scud­der, both of whom have been con­firmed, and Eric Mur­phy, the Ohio solic­i­tor gen­er­al, whom Mr. Trump nom­i­nat­ed to the Sixth Cir­cuit this month. . . .

. . . . Mr. Trump was appar­ent­ly refer­ring to Jus­tice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, even­tu­al­ly ris­ing to become the bank’s glob­al head of real estate cap­i­tal mar­kets, and he worked close­ly with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate devel­op­er, accord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of his role.

Dur­ing Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most impor­tant lender, dis­pens­ing well over $1 bil­lion in loans to him for the ren­o­va­tion and con­struc­tion of sky­scrap­ers in New York and Chica­go at a time oth­er main­stream banks were wary of doing busi­ness with him because of his trou­bled busi­ness his­to­ry. . . .

1d.  After Kennedy left Deutsche Bank in 2009 he went on to become co-CEO LNR Prop­er­ty LLC. LNR Prop­er­ty saved Jared Kushner’s mid­town Man­hat­tan prop­er­ty in 2011:

  1. ” . . . . from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Prop­er­ty LLC with Tobin Cobb. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Accord­ing the New York Times, in 2007 Kush­n­er Com­pa­nies pur­chased ‘an alu­minum-clad office tow­er in Mid­town Man­hat­tan, for a record price of $1.8 bil­lion.’ At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was ‘con­sid­ered a clas­sic exam­ple of reck­less under­writ­ing. The trans­ac­tion was so high­ly lever­aged that the cash flow from rents amount­ed to only 65 per­cent of the debt ser­vice.’ . . .”
  3.  ” . . . Who came to the res­cue? None oth­er than LNR Prop­er­ty, the com­pa­ny whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. Accord­ing to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kush­n­er and LNR ‘reached a pos­si­ble agree­ment with LNR Prop­er­ty, a firm spe­cial­iz­ing in restruc­tur­ing trou­bled debt and which over­sees the mort­gage, that would allow him to retain con­trol of the tow­er by mod­i­fy­ing the terms of the $1.2 bil­lion mort­gage tied to the office por­tion of the build­ing.’ . . .”

“The Kennedy, Kush­n­er, and Trump Con­nec­tion: A Curi­ous Con­ver­sa­tion and A Busi­ness Deal” by C’Zar Bern­stein & Gabe Rusk; Medi­um; 03/01/2017.

. . . . Jus­tice Kennedy has two very suc­cess­ful sons in their own right, Gre­go­ry and Justin Kennedy. Gre­go­ry Kennedy, a Stan­ford Law grad­u­ate (a Stan­ford man like his father), was named CEO of Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers in Octo­ber of 2016. Accord­ing to his LinkedIn page: Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advi­sors is a “Los Ange­les based mer­chant bank with an exclu­sive focus on mid to late stage growth com­pa­nies.” . . . .

Justin Kennedy, a grad­u­ate of UCLA and Stanford(again like his father), has spent his career in the world of bank­ing, invest­ment, and, inter­est­ing­ly, real estate. In par­tic­u­lar, from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Prop­er­ty LLC with Tobin Cobb. In the world of high-stakes NYC real estate it would be fair­ly improb­a­ble that the Trump or Kush­n­er groups, mono­liths in their own right, would not have min­gled or done busi­ness with the LNR at some point in time. We were not sur­prised, there­fore, to dis­cov­er that there is a like­ly con­nec­tion. Here’s what we know:

Accord­ing the New York Times, in 2007 Kush­n­er Com­pa­nies pur­chased “an alu­minum-clad office tow­er in Mid­town Man­hat­tan, for a record price of $1.8 bil­lion.” At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was “con­sid­ered a clas­sic exam­ple of reck­less under­writ­ing. The trans­ac­tion was so high­ly lever­aged that the cash flow from rents amount­ed to only 65 per­cent of the debt ser­vice.” The Times con­tin­ues:

“As many real estate spe­cial­ists pre­dict­ed, the deal ran into trou­ble. Instead of ris­ing, rents declined as the reces­sion took hold, and new leas­es were scarce. In 2010, the loan was trans­ferred to a spe­cial ser­vicer on the assump­tion that a default would occur once reserve funds being used to sub­si­dize the short­fall were bled dry. But the sto­ry may yet have a hap­py end­ing for Kush­n­er, a fam­i­ly-owned busi­ness that moved its head­quar­ters from Florham Park, N.J., to 666 Fifth, its first major acqui­si­tion in Man­hat­tan.”

Who came to the res­cue? None oth­er than LNR Prop­er­ty, the com­pa­ny whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. Accord­ing to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kush­n­er and LNR “reached a pos­si­ble agree­ment with LNR Prop­er­ty, a firm spe­cial­iz­ing in restruc­tur­ing trou­bled debt and which over­sees the mort­gage, that would allow him to retain con­trol of the tow­er by mod­i­fy­ing the terms of the $1.2 bil­lion mort­gage tied to the office por­tion of the build­ing.” A spokesman for Mr. Kush­n­er told the Wall Street Jour­nal in March of 2011 that “[t]he Kushner’s are ready and will­ing to invest more mon­ey into the prop­er­ty as soon as they can come to mutu­al­ly sat­is­fac­to­ry terms with the ser­vic­ing agent.” In that same arti­cle Kushner’s father-in-law and the future Pres­i­dent com­ment­ed on the nego­ti­a­tions with Justin Kennedy’s com­pa­ny. Speak­ing about the deal, Trump told the WSJ that Kush­n­er is “a very smart young man…I think it (loan rene­go­ti­a­tions) will come out well for him and every­body.” At this point there is no doubt that there was a direct busi­ness rela­tion­ship between LNR and Kush­n­er Com­pa­nies at the time Justin Kennedy and Jared Kush­n­er were both CEO. Even the future Pres­i­dent was aware of the deal and com­ment­ed on its respec­tive mer­its. (That being said, it is not impos­si­ble that Jared Kush­n­er and Justin Kennedy did not meet in con­nec­tion with the spe­cif­ic deal in ques­tion; how­ev­er, giv­en the stakes involved it does seem more than like­ly that the two CEO’s would have inter­act­ed as nego­ti­a­tions were being con­duct­ed.)

The con­nec­tions between Kush­n­er, Kennedy, and Trump do not end there. Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, in 2011, the year in which some of these nego­ti­a­tions took place, Justin Kennedy for the first time was ranked on the New York Observer’s 100 Most Pow­er­ful Peo­ple in New York Real Estate at #36. Don­ald Trump clocked in at #12. The New York Observ­er was owned at the time by none oth­er than Jared Kush­n­er him­self. . . .

1e. Fol­low­ing the nom­i­na­tion by Pres­i­dent Trump of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Jus­tice Antho­ny Kennedy on the Supreme Court, we get con­fir­ma­tion that Trump got Kennedy to resign by agree­ing to replace him with Kennedy’s for­mer clerk Kavanaugh:

“It Was Always Kavanaugh: After Meet­ing With Kennedy, Trump Was Set On His Pick” by Nicole Lafond; Talk­ing Points Memo; 07/10/2018

While the White House was suc­cess­ful for the most part in keep­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s SCOTUS pick under wraps for the past two weeks, Trump was essen­tial­ly decid­ed on his nom­i­nee after Jus­tice Antho­ny Kennedy told him he would retire in a meet­ing, Politi­co report­ed.

Accord­ing to aides close to the White House who spoke to Politi­co, in that meet­ing Kennedy rec­om­mend­ed Trump pick Brett Kavanaugh, who had served as a for­mer law clerk to Kennedy. While Trump was report­ed­ly already inter­est­ed in Kavanaugh before that dis­cus­sion with Kennedy, the retir­ing jurist’s rec­om­men­da­tion helped seal the deal. . . .

2. The links between Trump­World and Antho­ny Kennedy’s sons is deep­er still. Kennedy’s oth­er son Gre­go­ry, has long-stand­ing ties to Trump Sil­i­con Val­ley advis­er Peter Thiel, whom we first ana­lyzed in FTR #718.

” . . . . . . . . Kennedy’s seat, mean­time, seemed des­tined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glow­ing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Don­ald Trump Jr. through New York real estate cir­cles, and whose oth­er adult child has con­nec­tions to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Sil­i­con Val­ley advis­er Peter Thiel, most recent­ly when the Kennedy firm Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers worked with Thiel’s Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies. . . .”

“How a Pri­vate Meet­ing with Kennedy Helped Trump Get to ‘Yes’ on Kavanaugh” by Christo­pher Cade­la­go, Nan­cy Cook and Andrew Restuc­cia; Politi­co; 07/09/2018.

After Jus­tice Antho­ny Kennedy told Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump he would relin­quish his seat on the Supreme Court, the pres­i­dent emerged from his pri­vate meet­ing with the retir­ing jurist focused on one can­di­date to name as his suc­ces­sor: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy’s for­mer law clerk.

Trump, accord­ing to con­fi­dants and aides close to the White House, has become increas­ing­ly con­vinced that “the judges,” as he puts it, or his administration’s remak­ing of the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry in its con­ser­v­a­tive image, is cen­tral to his lega­cy as pres­i­dent. And he cred­its Kennedy, who spent more than a decade at the cen­ter of pow­er on the court, for help­ing give him the oppor­tu­ni­ty.

So even as Trump dis­patched his top lawyers to comb though Kavanaugh’s rul­ings and quizzed allies about whether he was too close to the Bush fam­i­ly, poten­tial­ly a fatal flaw, the pres­i­dent was always lean­ing toward accept­ing Kennedy’s par­tial­i­ty for Kavanaugh while pre­serv­ing the secret until his for­mal announce­ment, sources with knowl­edge of his think­ing told POLITICO. . . .

. . . . Kennedy’s seat, mean­time, seemed des­tined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glow­ing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Don­ald Trump Jr. through New York real estate cir­cles, and whose oth­er adult child has con­nec­tions to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Sil­i­con Val­ley advis­er Peter Thiel, most recent­ly when the Kennedy firm Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers worked with Thiel’s Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies. . . .

3.  As the fol­low­ing arti­cle from last year about the Trump/Kennedy fam­i­ly ties notes, Gre­go­ry Kennedy and Peter Thiel are more than just busi­ness asso­ciates. They went to Stan­ford Law School togeth­er and served as pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety in back-to-back years.

“Trump’s Hid­den Back Chan­nel to Jus­tice Kennedy: Their Kids” by Shane Gold­mach­er; Politi­co; 04/06/2017

. . . . Anoth­er is through Kennedy’s oth­er son, Gre­go­ry, and Trump’s Sil­i­con Val­ley advis­er Peter Thiel. They went to Stan­ford Law School togeth­er and served as pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety in back-to-back years, accord­ing to school records. More recent­ly, Kennedy’s firm, Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers, has worked with Thiel’s com­pa­ny Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies.

In fact, dur­ing the ear­ly months of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, Gre­go­ry Kennedy has worked at NASA as a senior finan­cial advis­er as part of the so-called “beach­head” team. . .

Alex Karp

4. Gre­go­ry Kennedy’s DTA has an unusu­al­ly close rela­tion­ship with Palan­tir, a com­pa­ny that has helped the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

Kennedy’s DTA has oth­er per­son­al con­nec­tions to Palan­tir. Alex Fish­man and Alex Davis, two oth­er DTA founders, “enjoyed a very close rela­tion­ship” with Palan­tir co-founder Alex Karp, accord­ing to the law­suit.

It should be not­ed that the alleged secre­cy with which Palan­tir treats its oper­at­ing and invest­ing infor­ma­tion is char­ac­ter­is­tic of Bor­mann orga­ni­za­tions. A clos­et­ed, insid­ers-only oper­at­ing eth­ic serves the need for this con­sum­mate­ly pow­er­ful orga­ni­za­tion to main­tain a rel­a­tive­ly low pro­file, even as it gains pow­er, influ­ence and wealth.

” . . . . Yet Palan­tir — whose stock changes hands only through pri­vate trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed infor­ma­tion about its busi­ness pri­vate. . . .”

A law­suit by Palan­tir investor KT4 Part­ners alleges that Palan­tir is ille­gal­ly block­ing investors from sell­ing shares in the com­pa­ny and that Kennedy’s Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advi­sors (DTA) is a key part­ner and ben­e­fi­cia­ry of this strat­e­gy.

KT4 claims that when it tried to sell its shares of Palan­tir to a third-par­ty, Palan­tir would have DTA con­tact the third-par­ty and con­vince them to have Palan­tir sells them the shares direct­ly instead. DTA would then col­lect a com­mis­sion.

The cen­tral dynam­ic in the alle­ga­tions of plain­tiff (and Palan­tir investor) KT4 is set forth as fol­lows: ” . . . . But remark­ably, KT4 claims that when Palan­tir receives infor­ma­tion from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that infor­ma­tion to con­tact the buy­er and per­suade them instead to buy shares direct­ly from the com­pa­ny or from cer­tain Palan­tir insid­ers. One par­tic­u­lar bro­ker, Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers, or DTA, repeat­ed­ly gets com­mis­sions from these sales, even when it ‘per­formed no legit­i­mate work,’ KT4 claims. KT4 says it expe­ri­enced inter­fer­ence by Palan­tir when it tried to sell shares to High­bridge Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMor­gan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 noti­fied Palan­tir of the planned sale, Palan­tir turned around and instruct­ed DTA to ‘take the oppor­tu­ni­ty, on Palantir’s behalf,‘and arrange a sale from Palan­tir to High­bridge instead, accord­ing to the law­suit. . . .”

“A Sil­i­con Val­ley Giant Blocked Its Investors From Sell­ing Their Shares, Law­suit Claims” by William Alden; Buz­zFeed News; 03/17/2017

Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies, one of the most valu­able star­tups in Sil­i­con Val­ley, has deprived investors of basic infor­ma­tion about its busi­ness and repeat­ed­ly hin­dered efforts by investors to sell their shares, accord­ing to a blis­ter­ing law­suit filed by a long­time investor.

In addi­tion to keep­ing at least some share­hold­ers in the dark about its finan­cial per­for­mance, Palan­tir has “engaged in a pat­tern and prac­tice” of attempt­ing to thwart their attempts to sell stock, accord­ing to the law­suit, filed by invest­ment firm KT4 Part­ners. Instead of let­ting these investors sell shares, Palan­tir has steered their sale oppor­tu­ni­ties to itself or its exec­u­tives, while show­er­ing a favored bro­ker­age firm with com­mis­sions even when the firm does no work at all, the law­suit claims.

KT4 Part­ners first bought Palan­tir shares over a decade ago and is seek­ing to com­pel Palan­tir to hand over finan­cial records, which it says are need­ed to under­stand the val­ue of its invest­ment. Fur­ther, KT4 claims it needs this infor­ma­tion to inves­ti­gate whether Palan­tir or its exec­u­tives have engaged in “improp­er and ille­gal con­duct” to harm minor­i­ty share­hold­ers. The law­suit was filed under seal last week in the Delaware Court of Chancery; a par­tial­ly redact­ed ver­sion was released on Mon­day and is report­ed here for the first time. . . .

. . . . Co-found­ed in 2004 by the bil­lion­aire Peter Thiel, who is now advis­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Palan­tir ana­lyzes data for gov­ern­ment agen­cies and major cor­po­ra­tions. It has a $20 bil­lion val­u­a­tion, mak­ing it the third most high­ly val­ued start­up in Sil­i­con Val­ley, behind only Uber and Airbnb. Yet Palan­tir — whose stock changes hands only through pri­vate trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed infor­ma­tion about its busi­ness pri­vate. A report by Buz­zFeed News last year gave an unprece­dent­ed, though lim­it­ed, account of its com­mer­cial oper­a­tions.

The law­suit, a high­ly unusu­al step for a start­up investor, fol­lows efforts by KT4 to obtain busi­ness infor­ma­tion through oth­er means. KT4 made a writ­ten demand last August to inspect Palantir’s books and records, the law­suit says. But then, accord­ing to the law­suit, Palan­tir retroac­tive­ly amend­ed its investors’ rights agree­ment “for the sole and express pur­pose” of avoid­ing dis­clo­sure oblig­a­tions. . . .

. . . . Palan­tir is under increas­ing pres­sure from its share­hold­ers, a num­ber of whom have held its stock for a decade or more and are anx­ious­ly await­ing a pay­day. For­mer employ­ees, who received a major part of their pay in stock options, have strug­gled to cash out, despite lim­it­ed share pur­chase offers arranged by the com­pa­ny. Last fall, in a rever­sal of his long­time refusal to pur­sue an IPO, Palan­tir CEO Alex Karp said at a tech con­fer­ence, “We’re now posi­tion­ing the com­pa­ny so we could go pub­lic.”

This state­ment by Karp has a pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed back­sto­ry, accord­ing to the law­suit: KT4 says it came after a for­mal request by the investor for infor­ma­tion on whether Palan­tir had con­sid­ered an IPO.

KT4 says its stake in Palan­tir is worth over $60 mil­lion — a sig­nif­i­cant sum by many mea­sures, but small in the con­text of Palan­tir, which has raised more than $2 bil­lion from investors. When KT4 tried to sell por­tions of its stake, Palan­tir repeat­ed­ly inter­fered, the law­suit claims. Palan­tir, fol­low­ing a com­mon prac­tice in Sil­i­con Val­ley, requires that any sell­ers of its stock seek the company’s approval for the trans­ac­tion; com­pa­nies do this to lim­it and man­age own­er­ship of their shares.

But remark­ably, KT4 claims that when Palan­tir receives infor­ma­tion from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that infor­ma­tion to con­tact the buy­er and per­suade them instead to buy shares direct­ly from the com­pa­ny or from cer­tain Palan­tir insid­ers. One par­tic­u­lar bro­ker, Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­ers, or DTA, repeat­ed­ly gets com­mis­sions from these sales, even when it “per­formed no legit­i­mate work,” KT4 claims.

KT4 says it expe­ri­enced inter­fer­ence by Palan­tir when it tried to sell shares to High­bridge Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMor­gan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 noti­fied Palan­tir of the planned sale, Palan­tir turned around and instruct­ed DTA to “take the oppor­tu­ni­ty, on Palantir’s behalf,” and arrange a sale from Palan­tir to High­bridge instead, accord­ing to the law­suit.

But when Alex Fish­man, a founder of DTA, met with a senior man­ag­ing direc­tor at High­bridge, the hedge fund exec­u­tive said he would not break his deal with KT4, telling Fish­man to leave his office, accord­ing to the law­suit. The sit­u­a­tion esca­lat­ed when Karp, the Palan­tir CEO, learned of Highbridge’s affil­i­a­tion with JPMor­gan — a very impor­tant cus­tomer of Palantir’s — and that the bank’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, “would be asked to con­tact Karp direct­ly to express dis­plea­sure” at these tac­tics, the law­suit says. Karp then alleged­ly let the sale by KT4 go through.

Lat­er, in Decem­ber 2015, Palan­tir and DTA had more suc­cess in imped­ing a sale of shares by KT4 and oth­er investors to a Chi­nese invest­ment com­pa­ny, whose name is redact­ed in the doc­u­ment, the law­suit says. DTA, rep­re­sent­ing Palan­tir, con­tact­ed the buy­er and led it to believe that it was required to buy the shares direct­ly from Palan­tir, ulti­mate­ly lead­ing the buy­er to call off the deal with KT4 and the oth­ers.

Until KT4 made its recent demand for finan­cial infor­ma­tion, Palan­tir refused to pro­vide finan­cial infor­ma­tion to buy­ers of its shares except through DTA — forc­ing buy­ers and sell­ers to do busi­ness with that firm or with Fish­man, the law­suit says.

Even when DTA was not involved in a deal, it still could get paid, accord­ing to KT4. Last sum­mer, when UBS Secu­ri­ties was bro­ker­ing a sale of Palan­tir shares, Karp demand­ed that UBS pay 25 cents a share to Fish­man and DTA, even though DTA “had per­formed no work on the trans­ac­tion” — and UBS agreed to make the pay­ment, the law­suit says. (KT4 says it learned this from a UBS man­ag­ing direc­tor, but in an inter­view with Buz­zFeed News, a per­son close to UBS dis­put­ed that the bank par­tic­i­pat­ed in such a sale and denied that UBS agreed to pay DTA.)

Fish­man and Alex Davis, the oth­er DTA founder, recent­ly “enjoyed a very close rela­tion­ship” with Karp, accord­ing to the law­suit. (Accord­ing to Fishman’s LinkedIn pro­file, he sold his half of DTA to Davis last week and no longer works there.) . . .

. . . . Even as it blocks sales by small­er investors, Palan­tir has allowed Karp and Thiel to sell shares, accord­ing to the law­suit. KT4 claims that these sales fly in the face of rights it has as an investor to par­tic­i­pate in such trans­ac­tions. . . .

5. We have cov­ered Peter Thiel in numer­ous pro­grams, begin­ning with our warn­ing about him in FTR #718.

Some of the points we have made about him include:

  1. His fam­i­ly back­ground in the Frank­furt (Ger­many) chem­i­cal busi­ness. Prob­a­bly I.G. Farben/Bormann, in that con­text.
  2. His pri­ma­ry role in Palan­tir, appar­ent­ly the mak­er of the PRISM soft­ware at the epi­cen­ter of L’Af­faire Snow­den.
  3. His role as the pri­ma­ry financier of Ron Paul’s super PAC. (Paul is an unabashed white suprema­cist, joined at the hip with David Duke and the neo-Con­fed­er­ate move­ment. He was the Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of choice for Eddie “The Friend­ly Spook” Snow­den and Julian Assange.) Snow­den’s first attor­ney and the attor­ney for the Snow­den fam­i­ly–Bruce Fein–was the chief legal coun­sel for Ron Paul’s 2012 Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.
  4. Thiel’s belief sys­tem is ante­dilu­vian: . . . . ‘I no longer believe that free­dom and democ­ra­cy are com­pat­i­ble,’ Thiel wrote in a 2009 man­i­festo pub­lished by the lib­er­tar­i­an Cato Insti­tute. ‘Since 1920, the vast increase in wel­fare ben­e­fi­cia­ries and the exten­sion of the fran­chise to women — two con­stituen­cies that are noto­ri­ous­ly tough for lib­er­tar­i­ans — have ren­dered the notion of ‘cap­i­tal­ist democ­ra­cy’ into an oxy­moron.’ . . . .”

Thiel began his pro­fes­sion­al life as an attorney–working for Sul­li­van & Cromwell. His lead­er­ship of Stan­ford’s Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety (Gre­go­ry Kennedy lead the group as well) rais­es some inter­est­ing ques­tions about Thiel’s legal point of view.

We note that his apoc­a­lyp­tic, anti-Enlight­en­ment ide­ol­o­gy draws on, among oth­er influ­ences, Carl Schmitt. Arguably the prime mover behind the Ger­man Con­ser­v­a­tive Rev­o­lu­tion, Schmitt was also: “. . . . a Nazi and the Third Reich’s pre­em­i­nent legal the­o­rist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspir­ing throw­back to a pre-Enlight­en­ment age, who exalts strug­gle and insists that the dis­cov­ery of ene­mies is the foun­da­tion of pol­i­tics. . .”

“Peter Thiel’s Apoc­a­lypse” by Scott Lucas; San Fran­cis­co Mag­a­zine; 11/29 2017.

. . . . If press reports are cor­rect, Pres­i­dent Trump is con­sid­er­ing appoint­ing Thiel to be chair of the President’s Intel­li­gence Advi­so­ry Board—a posi­tion pre­vi­ous­ly held by such estab­lish­ment sages as Brent Scow­croft and Chuck Hagel. This would make the 50-year-old entre­pre­neur one of the top exec­u­tive branch advis­ers on America’s intel­li­gence agen­cies. And it would be one of the most pecu­liar high-lev­el appoint­ments in Amer­i­can polit­i­cal his­to­ry. . . .

. . . . For Thiel, Osama bin Laden is a kind of return of the reli­gious repressed, an evil erup­tion from an archa­ic world we thought had van­ished. “Today mere self-preser­va­tion forces all of us to look at the world anew, to think strange new thoughts, and there­by to awak­en from that very long and prof­itable peri­od of intel­lec­tu­al slum­ber and amne­sia that is so mis­lead­ing­ly called the Enlight­en­ment,” he writes.

To explore these “strange new thoughts,” Thiel turns to Ger­man legal schol­ar Carl Schmitt—a bril­liant thinker who was also a Nazi and the Third Reich’s pre­em­i­nent legal the­o­rist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspir­ing throw­back to a pre-Enlight­en­ment age, who exalts strug­gle and insists that the dis­cov­ery of ene­mies is the foun­da­tion of pol­i­tics. . . . .

6. Thiel’s brief legal career was at Sul­li­van & Cromwell, the old Dulles law firm.

“Pay­Pal’s Thiel Scores 230 Per­cent Gain with Soros-Style Fund” by Deep­ak Gopinath [Bloomberg.com]; Cana­di­an­Hedge­Watch.com; 12/4/2006.

. . . After col­lect­ing his law degree, Thiel clerked for U.S. Fed­er­al Cir­cuit Judge Lar­ry Edmond­son in Atlanta and then joined Sul­li­van & Cromwell LLP in New York. He last­ed sev­en months and three days before quit­ting out of bore­dom, he says.

7. In FTR #946, we exam­ined Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, its Trump and Steve Ban­non-linked tech firm that har­vest­ed Face­book data on behalf of the Trump cam­paign.

Palan­tir was appar­ent­ly deeply involved with Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca’s gam­ing of per­son­al data har­vest­ed from Face­book in order to engi­neer an elec­toral vic­to­ry for Trump. Thiel was an ear­ly investor in Face­book, at one point was its largest share­hold­er and is still one of its largest share­hold­ers. ” . . . . It was a Palan­tir employ­ee in Lon­don, work­ing close­ly with the data sci­en­tists build­ing Cambridge’s psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­fil­ing tech­nol­o­gy, who sug­gest­ed the sci­en­tists cre­ate their own app — a mobile-phone-based per­son­al­i­ty quiz — to gain access to Face­book users’ friend net­works, accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by The New York Times. The rev­e­la­tions pulled Palan­tir — co-found­ed by the wealthy lib­er­tar­i­an Peter Thiel — into the furor sur­round­ing Cam­bridge, which improp­er­ly obtained Face­book data to build ana­lyt­i­cal tools it deployed on behalf of Don­ald J. Trump and oth­er Repub­li­can can­di­dates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a sup­port­er of Pres­i­dent Trump, serves on the board at Face­book. ‘There were senior Palan­tir employ­ees that were also work­ing on the Face­book data,’ said Christo­pher Wylie, a data expert and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca co-founder, in tes­ti­mo­ny before British law­mak­ers on Tues­day. . . . The con­nec­tions between Palan­tir and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca were thrust into the spot­light by Mr. Wylie’s tes­ti­mo­ny on Tues­day. Both com­pa­nies are linked to tech-dri­ven bil­lion­aires who backed Mr. Trump’s cam­paign: Cam­bridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mer­cer, the com­put­er sci­en­tist and hedge fund mag­nate, while Palan­tir was co-found­ed in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an ini­tial investor in Face­book. . . .”

“Spy Contractor’s Idea Helped Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca Har­vest Face­book Data” by NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and MATTHEW ROSENBERG; The New York Times; 03/27/2018

As a start-up called Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca sought to har­vest the Face­book data of tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans in sum­mer 2014, the com­pa­ny received help from at least one employ­ee at Palan­tir Tech­nolo­gies, a top Sil­i­con Val­ley con­trac­tor to Amer­i­can spy agen­cies and the Pen­ta­gon. It was a Palan­tir employ­ee in Lon­don, work­ing close­ly with the data sci­en­tists build­ing Cambridge’s psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­fil­ing tech­nol­o­gy, who sug­gest­ed the sci­en­tists cre­ate their own app — a mobile-phone-based per­son­al­i­ty quiz — to gain access to Face­book users’ friend net­works, accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by The New York Times.

Cam­bridge ulti­mate­ly took a sim­i­lar approach. By ear­ly sum­mer, the com­pa­ny found a uni­ver­si­ty researcher to har­vest data using a per­son­al­i­ty ques­tion­naire and Face­book app. The researcher scraped pri­vate data from over 50 mil­lion Face­book users — and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca went into busi­ness sell­ing so-called psy­cho­me­t­ric pro­files of Amer­i­can vot­ers, set­ting itself on a col­li­sion course with reg­u­la­tors and law­mak­ers in the Unit­ed States and Britain.

The rev­e­la­tions pulled Palan­tir — co-found­ed by the wealthy lib­er­tar­i­an Peter Thiel — into the furor sur­round­ing Cam­bridge, which improp­er­ly obtained Face­book data to build ana­lyt­i­cal tools it deployed on behalf of Don­ald J. Trump and oth­er Repub­li­can can­di­dates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a sup­port­er of Pres­i­dent Trump, serves on the board at Face­book.

“There were senior Palan­tir employ­ees that were also work­ing on the Face­book data,” said Christo­pher Wylie, a data expert and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca co-founder, in tes­ti­mo­ny before British law­mak­ers on Tues­day. . . .

. . . .The con­nec­tions between Palan­tir and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca were thrust into the spot­light by Mr. Wylie’s tes­ti­mo­ny on Tues­day. Both com­pa­nies are linked to tech-dri­ven bil­lion­aires who backed Mr. Trump’s cam­paign: Cam­bridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mer­cer, the com­put­er sci­en­tist and hedge fund mag­nate, while Palan­tir was co-found­ed in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an ini­tial investor in Face­book. . . .

. . . . Doc­u­ments and inter­views indi­cate that start­ing in 2013, Mr. Chmieli­auskas began cor­re­spond­ing with Mr. Wylie and a col­league from his Gmail account. At the time, Mr. Wylie and the col­league worked for the British defense and intel­li­gence con­trac­tor SCL Group, which formed Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca with Mr. Mer­cer the next year. The three shared Google doc­u­ments to brain­storm ideas about using big data to cre­ate sophis­ti­cat­ed behav­ioral pro­files, a prod­uct code-named “Big Dad­dy.”

A for­mer intern at SCL — Sophie Schmidt, the daugh­ter of Eric Schmidt, then Google’s exec­u­tive chair­man — urged the com­pa­ny to link up with Palan­tir, accord­ing to Mr. Wylie’s tes­ti­mo­ny and a June 2013 email viewed by The Times.

“Ever come across Palan­tir. Amus­ing­ly Eric Schmidt’s daugh­ter was an intern with us and is try­ing to push us towards them?” one SCL employ­ee wrote to a col­league in the email.

. . . . But he [Wylie] said some Palan­tir employ­ees helped engi­neer Cambridge’s psy­cho­graph­ic mod­els.

“There were Palan­tir staff who would come into the office and work on the data,” Mr. Wylie told law­mak­ers. “And we would go and meet with Palan­tir staff at Palan­tir.” He did not pro­vide an exact num­ber for the employ­ees or iden­ti­fy them.

Palan­tir employ­ees were impressed with Cambridge’s back­ing from Mr. Mer­cer, one of the world’s rich­est men, accord­ing to mes­sages viewed by The Times. And Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca viewed Palantir’s Sil­i­con Val­ley ties as a valu­able resource for launch­ing and expand­ing its own busi­ness.

In an inter­view this month with The Times, Mr. Wylie said that Palan­tir employ­ees were eager to learn more about using Face­book data and psy­cho­graph­ics. Those dis­cus­sions con­tin­ued through spring 2014, accord­ing to Mr. Wylie.

Mr. Wylie said that he and Mr. Nix vis­it­ed Palantir’s Lon­don office on Soho Square. One side was set up like a high-secu­ri­ty office, Mr. Wylie said, with sep­a­rate rooms that could be entered only with par­tic­u­lar codes. The oth­er side, he said, was like a tech start-up — “weird inspi­ra­tional quotes and stuff on the wall and free beer, and there’s a Ping-Pong table.”

Mr. Chmieli­auskas con­tin­ued to com­mu­ni­cate with Mr. Wylie’s team in 2014, as the Cam­bridge employ­ees were locked in pro­tract­ed nego­ti­a­tions with a researcher at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty, Michal Kosin­s­ki, to obtain Face­book data through an app Mr. Kosin­s­ki had built. The data was cru­cial to effi­cient­ly scale up Cambridge’s psy­cho­met­rics prod­ucts so they could be used in elec­tions and for cor­po­rate clients. . . .

8. A recount­ing of the role of John Fos­ter Dulles and Sul­li­van & Cromwell’s roles in the for­ma­tion of I.G. Far­ben.

The Broth­ers: John Fos­ter Dulls, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinz­er; St. Mar­tin Grif­fin [SC]; Copy­right 2013 by Stephen Kinz­er; ISBN 978–1‑250–05312‑1; pp. 49–52.

. . . . Fos­ter had helped design the Dawes Plan of 1924, which restruc­tured Ger­many’s repa­ra­tion pay­ments in ways that opened up huge new mar­kets for Amer­i­can banks, and lat­er that year he arranged for five of them to lend $100 mil­lion to Ger­man bor­row­ers. In the sev­en years that fol­lowed, he and his part­ners bro­kered anoth­er $900 mil­lion in loans to Germany–the equiv­a­lent of more than $15 bil­lion in ear­ly-twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry dol­lars. This made him the pre­em­i­nent sales­man of Ger­man bonds in the Unit­ed States, prob­a­bly the world. He sharply reject­ed crit­ics who argued that Amer­i­can banks should invest more inside the Unit­ed States and protest­ed when the State Depart­ment sought to restrict loans to Ger­many that were unre­lat­ed to repa­ra­tion pay­ments or that sup­port­ed car­tels or monop­o­lies.

Fos­ter made much mon­ey build­ing and advis­ing car­tels, which are based on agree­ments among com­pet­ing firms to con­trol sup­plies, fix prices, and close their sup­ply and dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works to out­siders. Reform­ers in many coun­tries railed against these car­tels, but Fos­ter defend­ed them as guar­an­tors of sta­bil­i­ty that ensured prof­its while pro­tect­ing economies from unpre­dictable swings. Two that he shaped became glob­al forces.

Among Fos­ter’s pre­mier clients was the New Jer­sey-based Inter­na­tion­al Nick­el Com­pa­ny, for which he was not only coun­sel but also a direc­tor and mem­ber of the exec­u­tive board. In the ear­ly 1930s, he steered it, along with its Cana­di­an affil­i­ate, into a car­tel with France’s two major nick­el pro­duc­ers. In 1934, he brought the biggest Ger­man nick­el pro­duc­er, I.G. Far­ben, into the car­tel. This gave Nazi Ger­many access to the cartel’s resources.

“With­out Dulles,” accord­ing to a study of Sul­li­van & Cromwell, “Ger­many would have lacked any nego­ti­at­ing strength with [Inter­na­tion­al Nick­el], which con­trolled the world’s sup­ply of nick­el, a cru­cial ingre­di­ent in stain­less steel and armor plate.”

I.G. Far­ben was also one of the world’s largest chem­i­cal companies–it would pro­duce the Zyk­lon B gas used at Nazi death camps–and as Fos­ter was bring­ing it into the nick­el car­tel, he also helped it estab­lish a glob­al chem­i­cal car­tel. He was a board mem­ber and legal coun­sel for anoth­er chem­i­cal pro­duc­er, the Solvay con­glom­er­ate, based in Bel­gium. Dur­ing the 1930s, he guid­ed Solvay, I. G. Far­ben, the Amer­i­can firm Allied Chem­i­cal & Dye, and sev­er­al oth­er com­pa­nies into a chem­i­cal car­tel just as potent as the one he had orga­nized for nick­el pro­duc­ers.

In mid-1931, a con­sor­tium of Amer­i­can banks, eager to safe­guard their invest­ments in Ger­many, per­suad­ed the Ger­man gov­ern­ment to accept a loan of near­ly $500 mil­lion to pre­vent default. Fos­ter was their agent. His ties to the Ger­man gov­ern­ment tight­ened after Hitler took pow­er at the begin­ning of 1933 and appoint­ed Fos­ter’s old friend Hjal­mar Schacht as min­is­ter of eco­nom­ics.

Allen [Dulles] had intro­duced the two men a decade ear­li­er, when he was a diplo­mat in Berlin and Fos­ter passed through reg­u­lar­ly on Sul­li­van & Cromwell busi­ness. They were imme­di­ate­ly drawn to each oth­er, Schacht spoke flu­ent Eng­lish and under­stood the Unit­ed States well. Like Dulles, he pro­ject­ed an air of brisk author­i­ty. He was tall, gaunt, and always erect, with close-cropped hair and high, tight col­lars. Both men had con­sid­ered enter­ing the cler­gy before turn­ing their pow­er­ful minds toward more remu­ner­a­tive pur­suits. Each admired the cul­ture that had pro­duced the oth­er. Both believed that a resur­gent Ger­many would stand against Bol­she­vism. Mobi­liz­ing Amer­i­can cap­i­tal to finance its rise was their com­mon inter­est.

Work­ing with Schacht, Fos­ter helped the Nation­al Social­ist state find rich sources of financ­ing in the Unit­ed States for its pub­lic agen­cies, banks, and indus­tries. The two men shaped com­plex restruc­tur­ings of Ger­man loan oblig­a­tions at sev­er­al “debt con­fer­ences” in Berlin–conferences that were offi­cial­ly among bankers, but were in fact close­ly guid­ed by the Ger­man and Amer­i­can governments–and came up with new for­mu­las that made it eas­i­er for the Ger­mans to bor­row mon­ey from Amer­i­can banks. Sul­li­van & Cromwell float­ed the first Amer­i­can bonds issued by the giant Ger­man steel­mak­er and arms man­u­fac­tur­er Krupp A.G., extend­ed I.G. Far­ben’s glob­al reach, and fought suc­cess­ful­ly to block Canada’s effort to restrict the export of steel to Ger­man arms mak­ers. Accord­ing to one his­to­ry, the firm “rep­re­sent­ed sev­er­al provin­cial gov­ern­ments, some large indus­tri­al com­bines, a num­ber of big Amer­i­can com­pa­nies with inter­ests in the Reich, and some rich indi­vid­u­als.” By anoth­er account it “thrived on its car­tels and col­lu­sion with the new Nazi regime.” The colum­nist Drew Pear­son glee­ful­ly list­ed the Ger­man clients of Sul­li­van & Cromwell who had con­tributed mon­ey to the Nazis, and described Fos­ter as chief agent for “the bank­ing cir­cles that res­cued Adolf Hitler from the finan­cial depths and set up his Nazi par­ty as a going con­cern.”

Although the rela­tion­ship between Fos­ter and Schacht began well and thrived for years, it end­ed bad­ly. Schacht con­tributed deci­sive­ly to Ger­man rear­ma­ment and pub­licly urged Jews to “real­ize that their influ­ence in Ger­many has dis­ap­peared for all time.” Although he lat­er broke with Hitler and left the gov­ern­ment, he would be tried at Nurem­berg for “crimes against peace.” He was acquit­ted, but the chief Amer­i­can pros­e­cu­tor, Robert Jack­son, called him “the facade of starched respon­si­bil­i­ty, who in the ear­ly days pro­vid­ed the win­dow dress­ing, the bait for the hes­i­tant.” He bait­ed no one more suc­cess­ful­ly than Fos­ter.

Dur­ing the mid-1930s, through a series of cur­ren­cy maneu­vers, dis­count­ed buy­backs, and oth­er forms of finan­cial war­fare, Ger­many effec­tive­ly default­ed on its debts to Amer­i­can investors. Fos­ter rep­re­sent­ed the investors in unsuc­cess­ful appeals to Ger­many, many of them addressed to his old friend Schacht. Clients who had fol­lowed Sul­li­van & Cromwell’s advice to buy Ger­man bonds lost for­tunes. That advice, accord­ing to one study, “cost Amer­i­cans a bil­lion dol­lars because Schacht seduced Dulles into sup­port­ing Ger­many for far too long.’ . . . .

. . . . Fos­ter had clear finan­cial rea­sons to col­lab­o­rate with the Nazi regime, and his ide­o­log­i­cal reason–Hitler was fierce­ly anti-Bolshevik–was equal­ly com­pelling. In lat­er years, schol­ars would ask about his actions in the world. Did he do it out of a desire to pro­tect eco­nom­ic priv­i­lege, or out of anti-Com­mu­nist fer­vor? The best answer may be that to him there was no dif­fer­ence. In his mind defend­ing multi­na­tion­al busi­ness and fight­ing Bol­she­vism were the same thing.

Since 1933, all let­ters writ­ten from the Ger­man offices of Sul­li­van & Cromwell had end­ed, as required by Ger­man reg­u­la­tions, with the salu­ta­tion Heil Hitler! That did not dis­turb Fos­ter. He churned out mag­a­zine and news­pa­per arti­cles assert­ing that the “dynam­ic” coun­tries of the world–Germany, Italy, and Japan–“feel with­in them­selves poten­tial­i­ties which are sup­pressed,” and that Hitler’s semi-secret rear­ma­ment project sim­ply showed that “Ger­many, by uni­lat­er­al action, has now tak­en back her free­dom of action.” . . . .

Discussion

6 comments for “FTR #1017 Supreme Court Trump Card: Family Trump, Family [Anthony] Kennedy and Peter Thiel”

  1. Dave, you briefly link to FTR #757 in the above text but I think it’s so impor­tant that it should also be high­light­ed by a com­ment. Lis­ten­ers would do very well to review that pro­gram and the net­work behind Palan­tir.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-757-the-adventures-of-eddie-the-friendly-spook-part-4-dramatis-personae-part-4-the-gruppenhobbit-and-the-underground-reich/

    Your point on the prob­a­ble — but denied — link between all of the PRISM soft­ware in use around the world is excel­lent. The name Palan­tir was inspired by the mag­ic crys­tals in Tolkien’s LOTR tril­o­gy which were placed in dif­fer­ent king­doms but all linked togeth­er allow­ing their users to con­nect and share infor­ma­tion, know­ing­ly or not. That type of inspi­ra­tion leads me to believe the denials of the link are just pre­var­i­ca­tion.

    Posted by Sampson | August 3, 2018, 6:14 am
  2. With the sur­prise last minute move by Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Jeff Flake to delay the con­fir­ma­tion of Brett Kavanaugh by a week to give the FBI (not enough) time to inves­ti­ga­tion the wave of alle­ga­tions of past sex­u­al assaults and pos­si­ble gang rapes, Amer­i­can soci­ety is set to spend anoth­er week scru­ti­niz­ing the increas­ing­ly dis­turb­ing pro­file of Kavanaugh­’s char­ac­ter. So giv­en that we’re talk­ing about appoint­ing a man who appears to have embraced a world­view of machis­mo and the misog­y­nis­tic and dehu­man­iz­ing objec­ti­fi­ca­tion of women to a life­time appoint­ment to one of the most pow­er­ful posi­tions in the US, it’s prob­a­bly a use­ful time to note that the casu­al cul­ture of rank misog­y­ny that Kavanaugh appears to have been immersed rep­re­sents a meta-prob­lem that has plagued human­i­ty for­ev­er: the dehu­man­iza­tion of ‘oth­ers’.

    Whether those ‘oth­ers’ of mem­bers of anoth­er race, tribe, gen­der, or what­ev­er. There’s sim­ply no deny­ing that the dehu­man­iza­tion of ‘oth­ers’ is a trag­i­cal­ly ‘human’ thing to do, and there’s per­haps no bet­ter and old­er exam­ple of that facet of human­i­ty than misog­y­ny. And when you com­bine that human ten­den­cy towards dehu­man­iza­tion with an embrace of a preda­to­ry mind­set and hor­mones and apply it in the con­text of a misog­y­nis­tic cul­ture (which is vir­tu­al­ly every tra­di­tion­al cul­ture), you’re going to end up with a soci­ety inevitably pop­u­lat­ed with a lots of lit­tle Brett Kavanaughs. Guys who have adopt­ed a world­view where women are con­quests and lit­tle else.

    Sure, such men might have some women in their lives that they don’t objec­ti­fy, but it’s unde­ni­able that the view of women as prop­er­ty, sex objects, and not much else is one of those meta-sto­ries across human his­to­ry. And that fun­da­men­tal dri­ve to dehu­man­ize and prey on ‘oth­ers’ isn’t just found at the core of misog­y­nis­tic world­views. All sorts of dif­fer­ent aspects of author­i­tar­i­an cul­tures rely on that same under­ly­ing human capac­i­ty to dehu­man­ize and prey on oth­ers. And Brett Kavanaugh just hap­pens to be a great exam­ple of high­light­ing this foun­da­tion of dehu­man­iz­ing pre­da­tion shared by every­thing from misog­y­nists to dic­ta­tors to theocrats and any oth­er pow­er mon­ger. And most espe­cial­ly fas­cists. If you had to give a name to an ide­ol­o­gy that essen­tial­ly embraces the spir­it of dehu­man­iz­ing pre­da­tion it’s facism.

    When that desire by the pow­er­ful few to cap­ture soci­ety and put it under their thumb under the spir­it that the strong should dom­i­nate and sub­ju­gate the weak is man­i­fest­ed as a polit­i­cal move­ment, that’s invari­ably going to be a move­ment with heavy fas­cist over­tone. And one of those over­tones is a dri­ve to remove what­ev­er pro­tec­tions might exist to pre­vent the strong from prey on every­one else. Cre­at­ing a vir­tu­al ‘law of the jun­gle’ that empow­ers the strong to dom­i­nate the weak isn’t just an ends and a means when it comes to fas­cist thought. It’s also an under­ly­ing human impulse embraced by those who have adopt­ed a fun­da­men­tal­ly preda­to­ry mind­set. A preda­to­ry impulse that’s found in every­one from a ser­i­al rapist to a ser­i­al strong­man. Or an author­i­tar­i­an oli­garch intent on cap­tur­ing soci­ety.

    And in the realm of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, it’s hard to come up with a group more emblem­at­ic of that move­ment by the pow­er­ful to shape soci­ety in ways that empow­er the pow­er­ful to dom­i­nate the weak and vul­ner­a­ble than a group like the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, of which Brett Kavanaugh is a mem­ber. Because the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety just hap­pens to be the most influ­en­tial judi­cial orga­ni­za­tion in the US — the four cur­rent right-wing mem­bers of the Supreme Court are all Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety mem­bers — and the entire goal of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety is to reshape the US courts in a way that makes them friend­lier to the very wealthy, big busi­ness, and the author­i­tar­i­an reli­gious right. Oh, and it’s heav­i­ly financed by the Koch broth­ers. It’s that kind of orga­ni­za­tion.

    So if the US Sen­ate is about to appoint a ser­i­al preda­tor to the Supreme Court, it’s prob­a­bly a good time to point out that mak­ing life eas­i­er for elite ser­i­al preda­tors — i.e. right-wing oli­garchs who want to cap­ture soci­ety — is the pri­ma­ry pur­pose of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety:

    The New States­men

    Who are the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety? Inside the right-wing group pick­ing Trump’s Supreme Court judges

    How a group for lib­er­tar­i­an law stu­dents found­ed in 1982 has come to dom­i­nate the judi­cial nom­i­na­tion process.

    By Sophie McBain
    7 Sep­tem­ber 2018

    When Brett Kavanaugh is con­firmed as Supreme Court Jus­tice, as he almost cer­tain­ly will be, it will mean that five of the nine Supreme Court jus­tices are mem­bers of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, a net­work of con­ser­v­a­tive and lib­er­tar­i­an lawyers that has become one of the most pow­er­ful groups in Amer­i­ca today.

    The most endur­ing lega­cy of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion may be its remak­ing of the courts: in addi­tion to two Supreme Court appointees (Trump’s oth­er pick, the con­ser­v­a­tive Neil Gor­such was appoint­ed last Jan­u­ary), Trump inher­it­ed 107 oth­er judi­cial vacan­cies. Accord­ing to New York Times fig­ures, Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan inher­it­ed 35 unfilled judge­ships and Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma had 54.

    Trump has effec­tive­ly out­sourced the task of fill­ing these seats to the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, and in par­tic­u­lar to its exec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent, an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive, devout Catholic named Leonard Leo, who has helped trans­form the lawyers net­work into, as the New York­er describes it, a “con­ser­v­a­tive pipeline to the Supreme Court”.

    So how did the Soci­ety, which began as a stu­dents’ group, become so pow­er­ful – and what does it stand for?

    The Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety was start­ed in 1982 by con­ser­v­a­tive law stu­dents at Yale and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go who want­ed to cre­ate a coun­ter­bal­ance to what they saw as the lib­er­al ortho­doxy of law fac­ul­ties around the coun­try. Its first fac­ul­ty advis­ers were Robert H. Bork at Yale (who was a Rea­gan nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court but who was reject­ed by the Sen­ate) and Antonin Scalia (who served on the Supreme Court from 1986–2016, hav­ing been appoint­ed by Rea­gan).

    The organ­i­sa­tion rapid­ly spread to cam­pus­es across the coun­try, spurred by fund­ing from wealthy con­ser­v­a­tive donors such as the Koch broth­ers, and lat­er sprung pro­fes­sion­al chap­ters too. Today the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety has 70,000 mem­bers and a pres­ence on almost every uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus and in every major city. It organ­is­es reg­u­lar talks and events for law stu­dents and prac­tic­ing lawyers, which pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for con­ser­v­a­tive lawyers to net­work and build rep­u­ta­tions.

    That the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety has such an active stu­dent and pro­fes­sion­al body makes it dif­fer­ent from many oth­er inter­est groups, which tend to be dom­i­nat­ed by Wash­ing­ton staff, says Steven Teles, the author of Rise of the Con­ser­v­a­tive Legal Move­ment: The Bat­tle for Con­trol of the Law. It means that Leo has a very “dense intel­li­gence net­work”, Teles told me when we spoke on the phone.

    As well as build­ing links between con­ser­v­a­tive lawyers, the Fed­er­al­ist Society’s talks and events have pro­vid­ed a way for it to spread and devel­op its ideas and approach to judi­cial phi­los­o­phy. The Soci­ety grew up with its first stu­dent mem­bers, as they began tak­ing up senior jobs in gov­ern­ment and the judi­cia­ry, pro­vid­ing the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety with a net­work of like-mind­ed lawyers that extends right up to the Supreme Court and the Pres­i­dent (the White House lawyer Don McGahn is a mem­ber of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety) and across cam­pus­es, com­pa­nies and local courts around the coun­try.

    As well as being well-organ­ised and well-fund­ed, the Fed­er­al­ist Society’s ide­o­log­i­cal puri­ty makes it a for­mi­da­ble polit­i­cal force, Teles argues. Its mem­bers are unit­ed by their judi­cial phi­los­o­phy rather than any par­ti­san affil­i­a­tion to the Repub­li­can Par­ty.

    On its web­site it describes these prin­ci­ples as “that the state exists to pre­serve free­dom, that the sep­a­ra­tion of gov­ern­men­tal pow­ers is cen­tral to our Con­sti­tu­tion, and that it is emphat­i­cal­ly the province and duty of the judi­cia­ry to say what the law is, not what it should be”, which entails “reorder­ing pri­or­i­ties with­in the legal sys­tem to place a pre­mi­um on indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty, tra­di­tion­al val­ues, and the rule of law”.

    As this abstract word­ing sug­gests, the range of opin­ions held by mem­bers of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety is quite broad though they share a sim­i­lar approach to the law. The main ten­sion with­in the group is between those who believe their pri­ma­ry func­tion should be con­strain­ing the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry and those who believe their role is to empow­er the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry to enforce what they see as America’s found­ing prin­ci­ples, Teles says.

    “In gen­er­al they pro­mote these kinds of ideas: they are in favour of small gov­ern­ment as opposed to big gov­ern­ment, they oppose most gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion of busi­ness and prop­er­ty, their core val­ue is pri­vate prop­er­ty and the abil­i­ty of a pri­vate prop­er­ty own­er to do what he or she wants with their pri­vate prop­er­ty, they are strong believ­ers in Amer­i­can excep­tion­al­ism and believe the US has a spe­cial role to play in the world and that peo­ple in the US are some­how a spe­cial kind of peo­ple, they would rather have things done by the state than fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and they are strong on reli­gious free­dom but reli­gious free­dom of a some­times extreme nature – argu­ing, for exam­ple, that reli­gion is an excuse for not com­ply­ing with anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws,” says Michael Avery, the co-author with Danielle McLaugh­lin of the book, The Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety: How Con­ser­v­a­tives Took the Law Back from Lib­er­als.

    The Fed­er­al­ist Society’s influ­ence rose with the pres­i­den­cy of George W Bush – all the fed­er­al judges that were appoint­ed by Bush were either mem­bers of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety or were approved by the group – but it has nev­er been more pow­er­ful than it is today. Not only does the large num­ber of judi­cial vacan­cies present them with an unprece­dent­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty to remake the courts, but Trump has also giv­en Leo more pow­er than any pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent over judi­cial nom­i­na­tions.

    At the Trump administration’s request, Leo drew up a list of 25 poten­tial Supreme Court nom­i­nees for the president’s con­sid­er­a­tion, which includ­ed Kavanaugh. At the same time, the influ­ence exert­ed by the Sen­ate on the nom­i­na­tion process has decreased.

    “It used to be that Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors played a much more impor­tant role in judi­cial selec­tion than they do now, so ordi­nary par­ty patron­age mech­a­nisms used to be more impor­tant. But I think this ide­o­log­i­cal net­work that we asso­ci­at­ed with the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety has clawed away more and more pow­er from that sen­a­to­r­i­al role over time,” says Teles. “And it’s clear­ly the case that Trump… has been will­ing to com­plete­ly sub­con­tract this over to these con­ser­v­a­tive judi­cial net­works.”

    ...

    One of the most effec­tive checks on Trump has been the US courts, who have chal­lenged some of the administration’s most egre­gious poli­cies, from the Mus­lim ban, to child sep­a­ra­tions, the rescind­ment of DACA and envi­ron­men­tal dereg­u­la­tion. In addi­tion to the threat to women’s repro­duc­tive rights and LGBT rights, a judi­cial sys­tem dom­i­nat­ed by right-wing lib­er­tar­i­ans might have respond­ed very dif­fer­ent­ly to Trump’s exec­u­tive orders.

    “It’s impor­tant for all Amer­i­cans to under­stand that the extreme right wing, the extreme con­ser­v­a­tives, are much bet­ter organ­ised, much bet­ter financed, and have a much bet­ter idea of what they’re about than the lib­er­als or pro­gres­sives do. The lib­er­als or pro­gres­sives need to wake up and take a look at what’s hap­pen­ing at the oth­er end of the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum and fig­ure out a way to get their own house in order, because lib­er­als and pro­gres­sives have been los­ing ground now for the last almost 40 years, and even to this day they have not come with either an effec­tive set of ideas or an effec­tive organ­is­ing prin­ci­ple that allows them to make this a fair con­test,” Avery tells me.

    In the absence of an effec­tive lib­er­al alter­na­tive to the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, the best hope for lib­er­als is that they will win back con­trol of Con­gress at the Midterms, he says. “If the left-wing and pro­gres­sives can’t cap­ture the leg­isla­tive branch and turn the pop­u­lar will into their way of think­ing, we’re in for a rough ride for the next sev­er­al years if not decades.”

    ———–

    “Who are the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety? Inside the right-wing group pick­ing Trump’s Supreme Court judges” by Sophie McBain; The New States­men; 09/07/2018

    ““It’s impor­tant for all Amer­i­cans to under­stand that the extreme right wing, the extreme con­ser­v­a­tives, are much bet­ter organ­ised, much bet­ter financed, and have a much bet­ter idea of what they’re about than the lib­er­als or pro­gres­sives do. The lib­er­als or pro­gres­sives need to wake up and take a look at what’s hap­pen­ing at the oth­er end of the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum and fig­ure out a way to get their own house in order, because lib­er­als and pro­gres­sives have been los­ing ground now for the last almost 40 years, and even to this day they have not come with either an effec­tive set of ideas or an effec­tive organ­is­ing prin­ci­ple that allows them to make this a fair con­test,” Avery tells me.”

    The lib­er­als or pro­gres­sives need to wake up and take a look at what’s hap­pen­ing at the oth­er end of the ide­o­log­i­cal spec­trum. It’s a chill­ing an apt warn­ing. And in the con­text of these alle­ga­tions of Kavanaugh oper­at­ing in a world where women were sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly preyed upon, it’s a warn­ing that’s become espe­cial­ly chill­ing and apt. Because, again, that under­ly­ing capac­i­ty to dehu­man­ize and prey upon the vul­ner­a­ble isn’t just a the core of misog­y­ny. It’s also at the core of all sorts of oth­er human behav­iors that involve the sys­tem­at­ic abuse of pow­er. And when we look at what the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety fights for, and who it’s fight­ing for, it’s hard to avoid the con­clu­sion that it’s a soci­ety ded­i­cate to mak­ing it eas­i­er for the pow­er­ful to wield their pow­er:

    ...
    On its web­site it describes these prin­ci­ples as “that the state exists to pre­serve free­dom, that the sep­a­ra­tion of gov­ern­men­tal pow­ers is cen­tral to our Con­sti­tu­tion, and that it is emphat­i­cal­ly the province and duty of the judi­cia­ry to say what the law is, not what it should be”, which entails “reorder­ing pri­or­i­ties with­in the legal sys­tem to place a pre­mi­um on indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty, tra­di­tion­al val­ues, and the rule of law”.

    ...

    “In gen­er­al they pro­mote these kinds of ideas: they are in favour of small gov­ern­ment as opposed to big gov­ern­ment, they oppose most gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion of busi­ness and prop­er­ty, their core val­ue is pri­vate prop­er­ty and the abil­i­ty of a pri­vate prop­er­ty own­er to do what he or she wants with their pri­vate prop­er­ty, they are strong believ­ers in Amer­i­can excep­tion­al­ism and believe the US has a spe­cial role to play in the world and that peo­ple in the US are some­how a spe­cial kind of peo­ple, they would rather have things done by the state than fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and they are strong on reli­gious free­dom but reli­gious free­dom of a some­times extreme nature – argu­ing, for exam­ple, that reli­gion is an excuse for not com­ply­ing with anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws,” says Michael Avery, the co-author with Danielle McLaugh­lin of the book, The Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety: How Con­ser­v­a­tives Took the Law Back from Lib­er­als.
    ...

    Yep, the pow­er­ful judi­cial orga­ni­za­tion in the US has, at it’s core cre­do, the idea that busi­ness and prop­er­ty own­ers should be able to do what­ev­er they want with­out inter­fer­ence. And while that is no doubt por­trayed as “stop­ping the oppres­sive gov­ern­ment from tram­pling on the help­less pri­vate cit­i­zen”, it’s unde­ni­able that the groups is fight­ing for the rights of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the coun­try to act with impuni­ty. In addi­tion, the reli­gious right should get the pow­er to use reli­gion as an excuse to dis­crim­i­nate, extend­ing that capac­i­ty to abuse pow­er to aver­age cit­i­zens to be wield­ed against their fel­low cit­i­zens. It’s tru­ly a ‘wolf in sheep­’s cloth­ing’ move­ment. A move­ment ded­i­cat­ed to pow­er for pow­er’s sake under the guise of judi­cial phi­los­o­phy. A phi­los­o­phy torn between the goal of lim­it­ing the abil­i­ty of the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry to act on the pub­lic’s behalf and the goal of enabling that same judi­cia­ry to enforce a tra­di­tion­al­ist right-wing reli­gious world­view:

    ...
    As this abstract word­ing sug­gests, the range of opin­ions held by mem­bers of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety is quite broad though they share a sim­i­lar approach to the law. The main ten­sion with­in the group is between those who believe their pri­ma­ry func­tion should be con­strain­ing the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry and those who believe their role is to empow­er the fed­er­al judi­cia­ry to enforce what they see as America’s found­ing prin­ci­ples, Teles says.

    ...

    One of the most effec­tive checks on Trump has been the US courts, who have chal­lenged some of the administration’s most egre­gious poli­cies, from the Mus­lim ban, to child sep­a­ra­tions, the rescind­ment of DACA and envi­ron­men­tal dereg­u­la­tion. In addi­tion to the threat to women’s repro­duc­tive rights and LGBT rights, a judi­cial sys­tem dom­i­nat­ed by right-wing lib­er­tar­i­ans might have respond­ed very dif­fer­ent­ly to Trump’s exec­u­tive orders.
    ...

    And this orga­ni­za­tion run by and for the pow­er­ful is now more pow­er­ful than it’s ever been before and the most influ­en­tial judi­cial orga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. And yet it was only start­ed in 1982. It shows just how pow­er­ful the pow­er­ful are in the US: with enough financ­ing from wealth donors like the Kochs, this group that was start­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive law stu­dents at Yale (where Kavanaugh went) and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go man­aged to basi­cal­ly take over the US judi­cial sys­tem in a few decades:

    ...
    The Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety was start­ed in 1982 by con­ser­v­a­tive law stu­dents at Yale and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go who want­ed to cre­ate a coun­ter­bal­ance to what they saw as the lib­er­al ortho­doxy of law fac­ul­ties around the coun­try. Its first fac­ul­ty advis­ers were Robert H. Bork at Yale (who was a Rea­gan nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court but who was reject­ed by the Sen­ate) and Antonin Scalia (who served on the Supreme Court from 1986–2016, hav­ing been appoint­ed by Rea­gan).

    The organ­i­sa­tion rapid­ly spread to cam­pus­es across the coun­try, spurred by fund­ing from wealthy con­ser­v­a­tive donors such as the Koch broth­ers, and lat­er sprung pro­fes­sion­al chap­ters too. Today the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety has 70,000 mem­bers and a pres­ence on almost every uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus and in every major city. It organ­is­es reg­u­lar talks and events for law stu­dents and prac­tic­ing lawyers, which pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for con­ser­v­a­tive lawyers to net­work and build rep­u­ta­tions.

    ...

    The Fed­er­al­ist Society’s influ­ence rose with the pres­i­den­cy of George W Bush – all the fed­er­al judges that were appoint­ed by Bush were either mem­bers of the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety or were approved by the group – but it has nev­er been more pow­er­ful than it is today. Not only does the large num­ber of judi­cial vacan­cies present them with an unprece­dent­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty to remake the courts, but Trump has also giv­en Leo more pow­er than any pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent over judi­cial nom­i­na­tions.

    At the Trump administration’s request, Leo drew up a list of 25 poten­tial Supreme Court nom­i­nees for the president’s con­sid­er­a­tion, which includ­ed Kavanaugh. At the same time, the influ­ence exert­ed by the Sen­ate on the nom­i­na­tion process has decreased.

    “It used to be that Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors played a much more impor­tant role in judi­cial selec­tion than they do now, so ordi­nary par­ty patron­age mech­a­nisms used to be more impor­tant. But I think this ide­o­log­i­cal net­work that we asso­ci­at­ed with the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety has clawed away more and more pow­er from that sen­a­to­r­i­al role over time,” says Teles. “And it’s clear­ly the case that Trump… has been will­ing to com­plete­ly sub­con­tract this over to these con­ser­v­a­tive judi­cial net­works.”
    ...

    And that takeover of the US courts by an orga­ni­za­tion run by and for the pow­er­ful to make them­selves even more pow­er­ful is one of the meta-sto­ries that isn’t just tan­gen­tial­ly con­nect­ed to the sto­ry of Brett Kavanaugh­’s appar­ent his­to­ry of sex­u­al assault and misog­y­ny. It’s deeply con­nect­ed. To some extent it’s dif­fer­ent facets of the same under­ly­ing sto­ry of that all too human capac­i­ty to prey on those you don’t see ful­ly human. And that sto­ry, in today’s con­text, is the sto­ry of the rise of ascen­dan­cy of fas­cism and the far right across the globe. Brett Kavanaugh­’s nom­i­na­tion is just one par­tic­u­lar­ly sor­did chap­ter in that larg­er under­ly­ing sto­ry.

    It’s also worth not­ing that act of dehu­man­iz­ing and prey­ing on oth­ers rep­re­sents does­n’t just rep­re­sent an all too human capac­i­ty. And also rep­re­sents an all too human inca­pac­i­ty, in the sense of that the dehu­man­iza­tion of oth­ers tends to be a pro­found­ly stu­pid act in addi­tion to being evil. Because evil and pro­found stu­pid­i­ty are deeply inter­twined phe­nom­e­na. And if you’re the kind of guy that, hor­mones or not, does­n’t feel awful about abus­ing women you prob­a­bly lack a cog­ni­tive capac­i­ty to do so and that’s a real form of stu­pid­i­ty. Espe­cial­ly when alco­hol is involved. If you can’t see peo­ple of the oppo­site sex or dif­fer­ent tribes, reli­gions, social class­es, or what­ev­er as ful­ly human, you aren’t just evil. You are pro­found­ly stu­pid too, at least in that key area of cog­ni­tion and that’s inevitably going to affect all sorts of oth­er areas of cog­ni­tion. The ‘ol ‘stu­pid or evil’ ques­tion is real­ly a trick ques­tion. Because while you can have stu­pid­i­ty with­out evil, you can’t real­ly have evil with­out some sort of pro­found stu­pid­i­ty. So that’s anoth­er aspect of this sto­ry. It’s a stu­pid sto­ry about the Supreme Court. Or rather, a very impor­tant sto­ry about pro­found stu­pid­i­ty and the Supreme Court and the pow­er dynam­ics of soci­ety in gen­er­al and the dan­gers of putting some­one on that court who appears to have embraced a world­view where the pow­er­ful should be able to act with impuni­ty. This is prob­a­bly a good week for the US to explore all of that and hope­ful­ly learn about the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety in the process.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 29, 2018, 1:59 pm
  3. With the nom­i­na­tion of Brett Kavanaugh cur­rent­ly await­ing the results of an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing a wave of sex­u­al assault alle­ga­tions, one of the big ques­tions at this point is why is the GOP stick­ing with this guy, and risk­ing alien­at­ing even more women from the GOP, when they could just as eas­i­ly ask him to with­draw and choose a dif­fer­ent can­di­date? And while attempts to answer that ques­tion usu­al­ly revolve around the obser­va­tion that Kavanaugh­’s views the a sit­ting pres­i­dent can’t be indict­ed are going to be high­ly prized by some­one like Pres­i­dent Trump.

    But as the fol­low­ing pair of arti­cles point out, there’s anoth­er area of sig­nif­i­cant sup­port for Kavanaugh with­in the GOP estab­lish­ment: He is real­ly close to the Bush fam­i­ly. Brett served as the Assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent and Staff Sec­re­tary for Pres­i­dent George W. Bush from 2003–2006. He also worked in George H. W. Bush’s solic­i­tor gen­er­al’s office. And, of course, he was the prin­ci­pal author of the Starr Report.

    And his wife Ash­ley Kavanaugh is also quite close to the Bush­es. She was the assis­tant to George W. Bush when he was gov­er­nor of Texas from 1996 to 1999. She worked on the Bush-Cheney cam­paign in 2000. From 2001 to 2005 she was George W. Bush’s per­son­al sec­re­tary. From 2005–2009 she was the Direc­tor of Spe­cial Projects for the George W. Bush pres­i­den­tial Foun­da­tion. And from 2009–2010 she was the media rela­tions coor­di­na­tor for the George w. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter.

    So if it seems amaz­ing that the GOP estab­lish­ment appears to be will­ing to stick with Kavanaugh and risk solid­i­fy­ing the GOP’s Trumpian brand as a haven for sex­u­al assaulters, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that the Bush-fac­tion of the GOP is prob­a­bly par­tic­u­lar­ly keen on see­ing Kavanaugh get that seat:

    Heavy.com

    Brett Kavanaugh & George W. Bush: What are the Ties?

    By Jes­si­ca McBride

    Updat­ed Jul 10, 2018 at 10:35am

    Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee to replace Antho­ny Kennedy, has long­stand­ing ties to for­mer Pres­i­dent George W. Bush, as does his wife, Ash­ley Estes Kavanaugh.

    Both Brett and Ash­ley Kavanaugh served in the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and Bush nom­i­nat­ed Brett M. Kavanaugh to the posi­tion he cur­rent­ly holds on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Wash­ing­ton D.C. Trump revealed Kavanaugh as his pick for Supreme Court on July 9, 2018. Kavanaugh was one of four rumored final­ists, with Judges Amy Coney Bar­rett, Thomas Hardi­man, and Ray­mond Keth­ledge also among them. Because Trump and the Bush fam­i­ly have a pub­li­cized feud, some peo­ple thought Brett Kavanaugh’s Bush ties could hurt his chances with the pres­i­dent. How­ev­er, that didn’t stop the pres­i­dent from pick­ing him in the end, even though some con­ser­v­a­tive infight­ingbroke out over the pick, with “whis­per cam­paigns” call­ing Brett Kavanaugh the “low-ener­gy Jeb Bush pick,” accord­ing to Nation­al Review..

    Bush praised the selec­tion.

    JUST IN: For­mer Pres. George W. Bush “Pres­i­dent Trump has made an out­stand­ing deci­sion in nom­i­nat­ing Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the; Supreme Court...He will make a superb Jus­tice of the Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States.” https://t.co/K7XhW1iSMb pic.twitter.com/T9brBFNQ1U— Evan McMur­ry (@evanmcmurry) July 10, 2018

    Here’s what you need to know about Brett Kavanaugh’s Bush ties:

    Brett Kavanaugh Served as the Staff Sec­re­tary to George W. Bush

    Brett Kavanaugh is a judge serv­ing on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Cir­cuit Court. He is a grad­u­ate of Yale Law School who also spent time in pri­vate prac­tice.

    A bio for Brett Kavanaugh also sketch­es out his Bush ties, say­ing, “From July 2003 until his appoint­ment to the court in 2006, he was Assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent and Staff Sec­re­tary to Pres­i­dent Bush.”

    Kavanaugh, the for­mer staff sec­re­tary to George W. Bush, also played a role in draft­ing the Ken Starr report into the impeach­ment of for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. When Kavanaugh was sworn in as a fed­er­al judge, Bush said, “for the past five years, he has served in the White House as Asso­ciate Coun­sel, a senior Asso­ciate Coun­sel, and as Staff Sec­re­tary.”

    At the same event, Kavanaugh told Bush he had the “great­est respect” for him. “I also appre­ci­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have served under the Vice Pres­i­dent and under Chiefs of Staff Andy Card and Josh Bolten. The White House staff are ded­i­cat­ed pub­lic ser­vants who have been good col­leagues and good friends, and I’ll miss work­ing with all of you very much,” Kavanaugh said at his swear­ing-in hear­ing.

    He has held oth­er gov­ern­ment jobs, and served in George H.W. Bush’s admin­is­tra­tion too in the solic­i­tor general’s office. “Kavanaugh was a pro­tegé of Ken­neth Starr,” reports Vox. “He was a prin­ci­pal author of the Starr Report.”

    The Dai­ly Caller, a con­ser­v­a­tive web­site, report­ed on the snip­ing against Brett Kavanaugh, quot­ing one anony­mous source as say­ing, “Kavanaugh is Jeb Bush’s pick for the Supreme Court. This is the low-ener­gy Jeb Bush pick. No one in the base will be ani­mat­ed by [Kavanaugh] — espe­cial­ly Trump sup­port­ers who reject­ed the Bush lega­cy.”

    George W. Bush Called Brett Kavanaugh a ‘Good Man’ & Joked That He Arranged His Mar­riage

    Bush nom­i­nat­ed Brett Kavanaugh to the Court of Appeals, and he spoke at the swear­ing-in cer­e­mo­ny in 2006. Accord­ing to a sto­ry post­ed by the White House, Bush praised Brett Kavanaugh, say­ing, “the sec­ond-high­est in our land gains a bril­liant and tal­ent­ed new mem­ber. The staff of the White House cel­e­brates a friend they admire and a col­league they will miss. I con­grat­u­late a good man and a fine pub­lic ser­vant on a job well done.” Bush then quipped, “I’m espe­cial­ly pleased to be with Brett’s wife, Ash­ley, whose face I know well and whose mar­riage was the first life­time appoint­ment I arranged for Brett.”

    The for­mer pres­i­dent added, “I chose Brett because of the force of his mind, his breadth of expe­ri­ence, and the strength of his char­ac­ter.”

    Bush also men­tioned Kavanaugh’s then new daugh­ter. “Wel­come the star of Brett’s most recent tele­vised hear­ing, Mar­garet Mur­phy Kavanaugh,” Bush said to laugh­ter from the crowd. “Mar­garet has his mother’s — has her mother’s good looks, and her dad’s pref­er­ence for hear­ings that do not last too long.”

    At the same hear­ing, Brett Kavanaugh called Mar­garet, his only child at the time, a “dai­ly inspi­ra­tion.”

    “Ash­ley and our lit­tle girl Mar­garet are a dai­ly inspi­ra­tion. Ash­ley, as the Pres­i­dent not­ed, is from Abi­lene, Texas. For those of you who don’t know much about Texas geog­ra­phy, it’s about halfway between Dal­las and Mid­land,” he said. “Ashley’s par­ents are here, and I thank them for com­ing. Ash­ley likes to remind me that true love, true love is a Texas girl who is will­ing to mar­ry a guy with a life­time appoint­ment in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.”

    Accord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er, “In 2004, Kavanaugh mar­ried pres­i­den­tial assis­tant Ash­ley Estes, who gave birth to their daugh­ter, Mar­garet, 13 months lat­er. The fam­i­ly lives in Chevy Chase, direct­ly across the street from White House Coun­sel Dan Bartlett.”

    ...

    Kavanaugh’s Wife Has Deep Ties to the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion

    Ash­ley Estes Kavanaugh, the spouse of Brett Kavanaugh, has deep ties to the admin­is­tra­tion of George W. Bush as well. Her links to Bush go back to his days as Texas gov­er­nor.

    Accord­ing to her LinkedIn page, Ash­ley Estes Kavanaugh worked as media rela­tions coor­di­na­tor for the George W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter from 2009–2010; worked as Direc­tor of Spe­cial Projects for the George W. Bush pres­i­den­tial Foun­da­tion from 2005 to 2009; was Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s per­son­al sec­re­tary from 2001 to 2005; was an assis­tant in the White House from 2001 to 2005; and worked on the Bush-Cheney 2000 cam­paign from 1996 to 2000.

    Her time with Bush dates to his work in Texas as gov­er­nor there. She was assis­tant to Gov­er­nor George W. Bush from 1996 to 1999. She attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin from 1994 to 1997.

    Her LinkedIn page says she is Town Man­ag­er, Sec­tion 5 of the Vil­lage of Chevy Chase, Mary­land. A newslet­ter for the town reports, “She has lived in Sec­tion 5 on Under­wood Street for the last ten years along with her hus­band, Brett, and their two daugh­ters, Mar­garet and Liza.”

    ———

    “Brett Kavanaugh & George W. Bush: What are the Ties?” by Jes­si­ca McBride; Heavy.com; 07/10/2018

    Both Brett and Ash­ley Kavanaugh served in the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and Bush nom­i­nat­ed Brett M. Kavanaugh to the posi­tion he cur­rent­ly holds on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Wash­ing­ton D.C. Trump revealed Kavanaugh as his pick for Supreme Court on July 9, 2018. Kavanaugh was one of four rumored final­ists, with Judges Amy Coney Bar­rett, Thomas Hardi­man, and Ray­mond Keth­ledge also among them. Because Trump and the Bush fam­i­ly have a pub­li­cized feud, some peo­ple thought Brett Kavanaugh’s Bush ties could hurt his chances with the pres­i­dent. How­ev­er, that didn’t stop the pres­i­dent from pick­ing him in the end, even though some con­ser­v­a­tive infight­ingbroke out over the pick, with “whis­per cam­paigns” call­ing Brett Kavanaugh the “low-ener­gy Jeb Bush pick,” accord­ing to Nation­al Review..”

    Both Brett and his wife Ash­ley go way back with the Bush­es. It’s a key fea­ture of Kavanaugh­’s resume. And not a good fea­ture giv­en the polit­i­cal nature of the Bush clan, but a rel­e­vant one:

    ...
    Brett Kavanaugh Served as the Staff Sec­re­tary to George W. Bush

    Brett Kavanaugh is a judge serv­ing on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Cir­cuit Court. He is a grad­u­ate of Yale Law School who also spent time in pri­vate prac­tice.

    A bio for Brett Kavanaugh also sketch­es out his Bush ties, say­ing, “From July 2003 until his appoint­ment to the court in 2006, he was Assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent and Staff Sec­re­tary to Pres­i­dent Bush.”

    Kavanaugh, the for­mer staff sec­re­tary to George W. Bush, also played a role in draft­ing the Ken Starr report into the impeach­ment of for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. When Kavanaugh was sworn in as a fed­er­al judge, Bush said, “for the past five years, he has served in the White House as Asso­ciate Coun­sel, a senior Asso­ciate Coun­sel, and as Staff Sec­re­tary.”

    At the same event, Kavanaugh told Bush he had the “great­est respect” for him. “I also appre­ci­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have served under the Vice Pres­i­dent and under Chiefs of Staff Andy Card and Josh Bolten. The White House staff are ded­i­cat­ed pub­lic ser­vants who have been good col­leagues and good friends, and I’ll miss work­ing with all of you very much,” Kavanaugh said at his swear­ing-in hear­ing.

    He has held oth­er gov­ern­ment jobs, and served in George H.W. Bush’s admin­is­tra­tion too in the solic­i­tor general’s office. “Kavanaugh was a pro­tegé of Ken­neth Starr,” reports Vox. “He was a prin­ci­pal author of the Starr Report.”
    ...

    And Ash­ley Kavanaugh arguably has just as close ties to the Bush­es as her hus­band:

    ...
    Kavanaugh’s Wife Has Deep Ties to the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion

    Ash­ley Estes Kavanaugh, the spouse of Brett Kavanaugh, has deep ties to the admin­is­tra­tion of George W. Bush as well. Her links to Bush go back to his days as Texas gov­er­nor.

    Accord­ing to her LinkedIn page, Ash­ley Estes Kavanaugh worked as media rela­tions coor­di­na­tor for the George W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter from 2009–2010; worked as Direc­tor of Spe­cial Projects for the George W. Bush pres­i­den­tial Foun­da­tion from 2005 to 2009; was Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s per­son­al sec­re­tary from 2001 to 2005; was an assis­tant in the White House from 2001 to 2005; and worked on the Bush-Cheney 2000 cam­paign from 1996 to 2000.

    Her time with Bush dates to his work in Texas as gov­er­nor there. She was assis­tant to Gov­er­nor George W. Bush from 1996 to 1999. She attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin from 1994 to 1997.
    ...

    But this all does­n’t quite cap­ture just how influ­en­tial a role Kavanaugh played in the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. For that, we’ll take a look at the fol­low­ing arti­cle, which cov­ers how Kavanaugh was basi­cal­ly George W. Bush’s “intel­lec­tu­al body man” and mil­lions of doc­u­ments relat­ed to his work for Bush are being with­held dur­ing this nom­i­na­tion process:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Brett Kavanaugh: Bush’s intel­lec­tu­al body man

    By Robert O’Har­row Jr.
    August 24, 2018

    It was the apogee of Brett Kavanaugh’s rise through the ranks of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, a job that put him in dai­ly prox­im­i­ty to Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and made him an intel­lec­tu­al “umpire” for a wel­ter of polit­i­cal and pol­i­cy aides who were aim­ing to shape the Repub­li­can agen­da.

    Kavanaugh, now Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court, had an ordi­nary-sound­ing title: staff sec­re­tary. But he wield­ed extra­or­di­nary influ­ence as the advis­er respon­si­ble for screen­ing, review­ing and edit­ing doc­u­ments deliv­ered to Bush, inter­views and doc­u­ments show.

    “Ulti­mate­ly, the umpire was Brett,” said Karl Rove, a Bush advis­er and one of the peo­ple Kavanaugh worked with close­ly as staff sec­re­tary.

    Many Supreme Court jus­tices over the decades have held strong polit­i­cal views or been active in lib­er­al or con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es. Jus­tice Ele­na Kagan, a law pro­fes­sor, served as an asso­ciate coun­sel and advis­er in the Clin­ton White House. For­mer Jus­tice Abe For­t­as pri­vate­ly advised Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son on polit­i­cal mat­ters. William Rehn­quist was ­active in the Repub­li­can Par­ty in Ari­zona before he became a ­jus­tice.

    But no jus­tice in recent mem­o­ry has worked as intent­ly as Kavanaugh at the high­est lev­els of the nation’s polit­i­cal machin­ery, schol­ars said. His time as staff sec­re­tary, from 2003 to 2006, was the cul­mi­na­tion of a polit­i­cal and legal appren­tice­ship that last­ed more than a decade, enabling him to demon­strate his zeal for con­ser­v­a­tive prin­ci­ples and putting him on a path to the Supreme Court.

    Doc­u­ments and inter­views show that while Kavanaugh was not a pol­i­cy­mak­er, he was direct­ly involved in help­ing the White House man­age a wide array of sen­si­tive mat­ters, includ­ing the war on ter­ror­ism, the treat­ment of ene­my com­bat­ants and war­rant­less wire­tap­ping.

    “It put Kavanaugh at the cen­ter of every polit­i­cal and pol­i­cy deci­sion at the Bush White House,” said Peter Irons, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at San Diego and author of sev­er­al books about the Supreme Court. “He is exact­ly the kind of per­son that the legal con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment wants on the court.”

    His tenure is now a source of con­tro­ver­sy, because much of his work in the White House has been cloaked by pres­i­den­tial priv­i­lege. Repub­li­cans have declined to request records from that era, sug­gest­ing that they would not be rev­e­la­to­ry.

    “He was more or less a traf­fic cop,” Sen­ate Major­i­ty Whip John Cornyn (R‑Tex.) said last month.

    Ques­tions about Kavanaugh’s work in the polit­i­cal realm sur­faced in 2004, after he was nom­i­nat­ed by Bush to be a cir­cuit court judge. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D‑N.Y.) alleged that the “nom­i­na­tion appears to be judi­cial pay­ment for polit­i­cal ser­vices ren­dered.”

    “In fact, Mr. Kavanaugh would prob­a­bly win first prize as the hard-right’s polit­i­cal lawyer,” Schumer said, accord­ing to a tran­script of the nom­i­na­tion hear­ing.

    Kavanaugh defend­ed him­self vig­or­ous­ly, say­ing that pri­or polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tions did not nec­es­sar­i­ly impede a good judge’s per­for­mance.

    “There is one kind of judge,” he said dur­ing the hear­ing. “There is an inde­pen­dent judge under our Con­sti­tu­tion. And the fact that they may have been a Repub­li­can or Demo­c­rat ... in a past life is com­plete­ly irrel­e­vant to how they con­duct them­selves as judges.”

    As the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee pre­pares for con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings start­ing Sept. 4, much remains unknown about that sig­nif­i­cant stretch of Kavanaugh’s career.

    Most of the mil­lions of doc­u­ments relat­ing to his White House ser­vice will not be avail­able for review before his con­fir­ma­tion. The com­mit­tee has received batch­es of records from the George W. Bush library, releas­ing tens of thou­sands of doc­u­ments in recent weeks. But most relate to Kavanaugh’s years in the White House Counsel’s Office, before he became staff sec­re­tary, and have been devoid of telling detail. Democ­rats have com­plained they can’t prop­er­ly take stock of ­Kavanaugh.

    “We asked for doc­u­ments from Kavanaugh’s time as staff sec­re­tary because he admit­ted those years shaped his views as a judge, par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to issues of exec­u­tive pow­er,” Sen. Dianne Fein­stein (D‑Calif.) said in a ­state­ment.

    “We also need to know more about his involve­ment with con­tro­ver­sial issues like tor­ture, war­rant­less wire­tap­ping and pres­i­den­tial sign­ing state­ments,” Fein­stein said. “He has a far more exten­sive record in pol­i­tics than pre­vi­ous nom­i­nees. It’s crit­i­cal that sen­a­tors see the full pic­ture to under­stand how those polit­i­cal posi­tions influ­enced his cur­rent views.”

    White House spokesman Raj Shah said Kavanaugh has demon­strat­ed his com­mit­ment to tak­ing a judi­cious and fair-mind­ed approach to the Supreme Court.

    “What will tell you most about the type of Supreme Court Jus­tice he will make are the 307 opin­ions he wrote as a Judge on the D.C. Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, a dozen of which were affirmed by the Supreme Court, over the last 12 years,” Shah said in a state­ment. “His opin­ions are wide­ly cit­ed by judges, appoint­ed by pres­i­dents of both par­ties, in courts across the coun­try. They demon­strate inde­pen­dence and a fideli­ty to our laws and con­sti­tu­tion.”

    To find clues about Kavanaugh’s role as staff sec­re­tary, The Wash­ing­ton Post exam­ined more than 2,000 pages of emails and oth­er doc­u­ments pre­vi­ous­ly released by the Bush library, along with scores of emails con­tained in 191 pages of doc­u­ments released last week by the Jus­tice Depart­ment in response to a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act request by Fix the Court, a group advo­cat­ing for more trans­paren­cy in the fed­er­al court sys­tem.

    The Bush library and Jus­tice Depart­ment emails have been heav­i­ly redact­ed, with most of the con­tent removed, as part of the government’s nor­mal appli­ca­tion of exemp­tions under the fed­er­al Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act or the Pres­i­den­tial Records Act. But com­bined with Kavanaugh’s pub­lic state­ments and writ­ings, the email address­es and sub­ject lines pro­vide gran­u­lar­i­ty to a com­pos­ite por­trait of him in the years he was staff sec­re­tary and before.

    Kavanaugh was respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the process that helped shape the president’s think­ing and fueled the Bush admin­is­tra­tion agen­da. “He was every­where,” said Michael Ger­son, a speech­writer in the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and now a syn­di­cat­ed colum­nist at The Post.

    Ger­son, Rove and oth­ers said Kavanaugh was an hon­est bro­ker, even as he con­veyed com­pet­ing ideas to the pres­i­dent.

    “Vir­tu­al­ly every piece of paper had to pass through the staff secretary’s hands,” Rove said.

    Kavanaugh, now 53, has described the White House jobs — end­ing in 2006 when he was con­firmed as a fed­er­al judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Cir­cuit — as an unre­lent­ing mix of demands that required him to con­stant­ly con­sid­er the legal, pol­i­cy, leg­isla­tive, polit­i­cal, inter­na­tion­al and pub­lic rela­tions impli­ca­tions of White House actions.

    “I spent a good deal of time on Capi­tol Hill, some­times in the mid­dle of the night, work­ing on leg­is­la­tion — it’s not a pure or pris­tine process,” Kavanaugh wrote in an essay for Mar­quette Lawyer Mag­a­zine in the fall of 2016.

    “I worked on draft­ing and revis­ing exec­u­tive orders, as well as dis­putes over exec­u­tive branch records,” he wrote. “I saw reg­u­la­to­ry agen­cies screw up ... I saw the good and the bad sides of a president’s try­ing to run for reelec­tion and to raise mon­ey while still being pres­i­dent. I was involved in the process for lots of pres­i­den­tial speech­es. I trav­eled almost every­where with the pres­i­dent for about three years. I ­most­ly recall the mas­sive deci­sions that had to be made on short notice.”

    Kavanaugh’s roots in the con­ser­v­a­tive legal world date to at least 1988. While attend­ing Yale Law School, he joined the con­ser­v­a­tive-lib­er­tar­i­an Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety for Law and Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Stud­ies, and has since spo­ken at dozens of the group’s events.

    In the ear­ly 1990s, he worked under Ken­neth Starr in the Solic­i­tor General’s Office in the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush. He served as clerk to Supreme Court Jus­tice Antho­ny M. Kennedy and worked under Starr again in the inde­pen­dent counsel’s office that inves­ti­gat­ed Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

    Some of the emails released by the Bush library come from Kavanaugh’s days in the White House Counsel’s Office, which he joined in 2001.

    On Octo­ber 10, 2002, Kavanaugh received or was copied on emails relat­ing to ene­my com­bat­ants and the Guan­tanamo prison. The sub­ject line of one email read: “If you get asked about detainees at Quan­tanamo.” The email con­tained a set of Defense Depart­ment talk­ing points from Jan. 17, 2002, titled “The War Against Ter­ror­ism.”

    “Karen — here are some on the GITMO folks. I am work­ing with Jus­tice on the domes­tic peo­ple we are hold­ing. Stay turned for more talk­ers.”

    The emails also show that Kavanaugh worked with oth­ers on up to 22 drafts to refine Bush’s speech­es, while also edit­ing radio address­es and rou­tine state­ments. Peo­ple famil­iar with his work said he was effec­tive­ly an intel­lec­tu­al body man for the pres­i­dent, one who con­stant­ly asked ques­tions of his col­leagues and kept in mind the impli­ca­tions of the president’s state­ments and poli­cies.

    Kavanaugh was often at Bush’s side, here and abroad. On June 5, 2004, the day that for­mer pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan died, Kavanaugh had to wake up Bush in the Amer­i­can Embassy dur­ing a trip to France to make a state­ment.

    On Sept. 3, 2005, Kavanaugh received a call that Rehn­quist had died. He need­ed to meet with Bush and White House speech­writ­ers ear­ly the next morn­ing to pre­pare remarks.

    ...

    In Decem­ber 2005, not long before he left the White House, Kavanaugh joined in an admin­is­tra­tive scram­ble to respond to bomb­shell rev­e­la­tions in the New York Times of a war­rant­less wire­tap­ping pro­gram that was launched after Sept. 11, 2001, accord­ing to the Jus­tice Depart­ment emails.

    Kavanaugh and oth­ers weighed in on talk­ing points from the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency that spelled out the legal autho­riza­tion for the sur­veil­lance pro­gram. On Dec. 20, 2005, Kavanaugh rec­om­mend­ed that amend­ed talk­ing points be shared with the NSA before their release.

    “I think we should make sure Gen­er­al Hay­den sees these before they go,” Kavanaugh wrote.

    ———-

    “Brett Kavanaugh: Bush’s intel­lec­tu­al body man” by Robert O’Har­row Jr.; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 08/24/2018

    “It was the apogee of Brett Kavanaugh’s rise through the ranks of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, a job that put him in dai­ly prox­im­i­ty to Pres­i­dent George W. Bush and made him an intel­lec­tu­al “umpire” for a wel­ter of polit­i­cal and pol­i­cy aides who were aim­ing to shape the Repub­li­can agen­da.

    An “intel­lec­tu­al umpire” for the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. That’s not exact­ly an uncon­tro­ver­sial part of one’s resume. And as part of his work for Bush as the staff sec­re­tary Kavanaugh was work­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly close with “Bush’s Brain” Karl Rove:

    ...
    Kavanaugh, now Pres­i­dent Trump’s nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court, had an ordi­nary-sound­ing title: staff sec­re­tary. But he wield­ed extra­or­di­nary influ­ence as the advis­er respon­si­ble for screen­ing, review­ing and edit­ing doc­u­ments deliv­ered to Bush, inter­views and doc­u­ments show.

    “Ulti­mate­ly, the umpire was Brett,” said Karl Rove, a Bush advis­er and one of the peo­ple Kavanaugh worked with close­ly as staff sec­re­tary.
    ...

    And this is why Kavanaugh stands out as being an unusu­al­ly polit­i­cal Supreme Court nom­i­nee. Many jus­tices have had some sort of involve­ment with pol­i­tics before join­ing the high court, but none in recent mem­o­ry are as much of a polit­i­cal ani­mal of Kavanaugh. And a polit­i­cal ani­mal for not just any admin­is­tra­tion but the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. When you’re the for­mer “intel­lec­tu­al umpire” of that admin­is­tra­tion that’s a pret­ty mas­sive issue that needs to be addressed before you’re appoint­ed to the Supreme Court:

    ...
    Many Supreme Court jus­tices over the decades have held strong polit­i­cal views or been active in lib­er­al or con­ser­v­a­tive caus­es. Jus­tice Ele­na Kagan, a law pro­fes­sor, served as an asso­ciate coun­sel and advis­er in the Clin­ton White House. For­mer Jus­tice Abe For­t­as pri­vate­ly advised Pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son on polit­i­cal mat­ters. William Rehn­quist was ­active in the Repub­li­can Par­ty in Ari­zona before he became a ­jus­tice.

    But no jus­tice in recent mem­o­ry has worked as intent­ly as Kavanaugh at the high­est lev­els of the nation’s polit­i­cal machin­ery, schol­ars said. His time as staff sec­re­tary, from 2003 to 2006, was the cul­mi­na­tion of a polit­i­cal and legal appren­tice­ship that last­ed more than a decade, enabling him to demon­strate his zeal for con­ser­v­a­tive prin­ci­ples and putting him on a path to the Supreme Court.

    Doc­u­ments and inter­views show that while Kavanaugh was not a pol­i­cy­mak­er, he was direct­ly involved in help­ing the White House man­age a wide array of sen­si­tive mat­ters, includ­ing the war on ter­ror­ism, the treat­ment of ene­my com­bat­ants and war­rant­less wire­tap­ping.

    “It put Kavanaugh at the cen­ter of every polit­i­cal and pol­i­cy deci­sion at the Bush White House,” said Peter Irons, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at San Diego and author of sev­er­al books about the Supreme Court. “He is exact­ly the kind of per­son that the legal con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment wants on the court.”

    His tenure is now a source of con­tro­ver­sy, because much of his work in the White House has been cloaked by pres­i­den­tial priv­i­lege. Repub­li­cans have declined to request records from that era, sug­gest­ing that they would not be rev­e­la­to­ry.

    “He was more or less a traf­fic cop,” Sen­ate Major­i­ty Whip John Cornyn (R‑Tex.) said last month.
    ...

    So it should come as no sur­prise that the major­i­ty of the doc­u­ments relat­ed to his work as Bush’s “intel­lec­tu­al umpire” aren’t being made avail­able to the Democ­rats or the pub­lic dur­ing the nom­i­na­tion process. The offi­cial line from the Trump White House is that the only part of Kavanaugh­’s past that’s wor­thy of review is his work as a judge. His work as George W. Bush’s intel­lec­tu­al umpire is appar­ent­ly irrel­e­vant:

    ...
    As the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee pre­pares for con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings start­ing Sept. 4, much remains unknown about that sig­nif­i­cant stretch of Kavanaugh’s career.

    Most of the mil­lions of doc­u­ments relat­ing to his White House ser­vice will not be avail­able for review before his con­fir­ma­tion. The com­mit­tee has received batch­es of records from the George W. Bush library, releas­ing tens of thou­sands of doc­u­ments in recent weeks. But most relate to Kavanaugh’s years in the White House Counsel’s Office, before he became staff sec­re­tary, and have been devoid of telling detail. Democ­rats have com­plained they can’t prop­er­ly take stock of ­Kavanaugh.

    “We asked for doc­u­ments from Kavanaugh’s time as staff sec­re­tary because he admit­ted those years shaped his views as a judge, par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to issues of exec­u­tive pow­er,” Sen. Dianne Fein­stein (D‑Calif.) said in a ­state­ment.

    “We also need to know more about his involve­ment with con­tro­ver­sial issues like tor­ture, war­rant­less wire­tap­ping and pres­i­den­tial sign­ing state­ments,” Fein­stein said. “He has a far more exten­sive record in pol­i­tics than pre­vi­ous nom­i­nees. It’s crit­i­cal that sen­a­tors see the full pic­ture to under­stand how those polit­i­cal posi­tions influ­enced his cur­rent views.”

    White House spokesman Raj Shah said Kavanaugh has demon­strat­ed his com­mit­ment to tak­ing a judi­cious and fair-mind­ed approach to the Supreme Court.

    “What will tell you most about the type of Supreme Court Jus­tice he will make are the 307 opin­ions he wrote as a Judge on the D.C. Cir­cuit Court of Appeals, a dozen of which were affirmed by the Supreme Court, over the last 12 years,” Shah said in a state­ment. “His opin­ions are wide­ly cit­ed by judges, appoint­ed by pres­i­dents of both par­ties, in courts across the coun­try. They demon­strate inde­pen­dence and a fideli­ty to our laws and con­sti­tu­tion.”
    ...

    But despite the refusal to release the bulk of the doc­u­ments that cov­er Kavanaugh­’s work dur­ing the Bush years, there are still hints from the avail­able doc­u­ments of the kind of work he was doing. And those hints point towards Kavanaugh influ­enc­ing vir­tu­al­ly every pol­i­cy agen­da of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. As Karl Rove put it, “Vir­tu­al­ly every piece of paper had to pass through the staff secretary’s hands” on the way to Bush’s desk. In that sense he real­ly was Bush’s intel­lec­tu­al umpire:

    ...
    To find clues about Kavanaugh’s role as staff sec­re­tary, The Wash­ing­ton Post exam­ined more than 2,000 pages of emails and oth­er doc­u­ments pre­vi­ous­ly released by the Bush library, along with scores of emails con­tained in 191 pages of doc­u­ments released last week by the Jus­tice Depart­ment in response to a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act request by Fix the Court, a group advo­cat­ing for more trans­paren­cy in the fed­er­al court sys­tem.

    The Bush library and Jus­tice Depart­ment emails have been heav­i­ly redact­ed, with most of the con­tent removed, as part of the government’s nor­mal appli­ca­tion of exemp­tions under the fed­er­al Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act or the Pres­i­den­tial Records Act. But com­bined with Kavanaugh’s pub­lic state­ments and writ­ings, the email address­es and sub­ject lines pro­vide gran­u­lar­i­ty to a com­pos­ite por­trait of him in the years he was staff sec­re­tary and before.

    Kavanaugh was respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the process that helped shape the president’s think­ing and fueled the Bush admin­is­tra­tion agen­da. “He was every­where,” said Michael Ger­son, a speech­writer in the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and now a syn­di­cat­ed colum­nist at The Post.

    Ger­son, Rove and oth­ers said Kavanaugh was an hon­est bro­ker, even as he con­veyed com­pet­ing ideas to the pres­i­dent.

    “Vir­tu­al­ly every piece of paper had to pass through the staff secretary’s hands,” Rove said.
    ...

    So when the Bush/Rove-fac­tion of the GOP con­tin­ues to stand behind Kavanaugh despite the grow­ing polit­i­cal dam­age his nom­i­na­tion is doing to the GOP don’t for­get that they’re about to get Bush’s intel­lec­tu­al umpire on the Supreme Court! It’s a pret­ty mas­sive prize.

    It’s also worth not­ing that a law­suit to force the release of 100,000 of those unre­leased Bush-admin­is­tra­tion Kavanaugh doc­u­ments being put for­ward by Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Jeff Merke­ly is slow­ly mak­ing its way through the courts. So it’s pos­si­ble those doc­u­ments will even­tu­al­ly be released. But if it does hap­pen it prob­a­bly won’t hap­pen until after the nom­i­na­tion vote that’s sup­posed to hap­pen soon.

    So don’t for­get that while it’s abun­dant­ly clear that the GOP would pre­fer it if a recount­ing of Brett Kavanaugh­’s drunk­en abu­sive school days were left out of the nom­i­na­tion process, there’s a much more recent chap­ter of Kavanaugh­’s life they’re also try­ing to avoid talk­ing about.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 1, 2018, 2:50 pm
  4. There’s no short­age of ques­tions raised by the con­fir­ma­tion of Brett Kavanaugh­’s nom­i­na­tion as a Supreme Court jus­tice. The fact that the Supreme Court now has the first clear hard right major­i­ty in decades rais­es basic ques­tions about what, if any­thing, of the post-New Deal era of jurispru­dence is going to sur­vive the com­ing onslaught. It’s easy to for­get that the right-wing oli­garchy in the US has nev­er viewed pro­grams like Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare as con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly legit­i­mate (let alone Oba­macare) and has nev­er giv­en up on its decades-long strug­gle to over­turn those laws through any means nec­es­sary, but it’s going to be a lot hard­er to for­get these things now that the Supreme Court real­ly is poised to become the ulti­mate right-wing ‘activist’ court. John Roberts is the new ‘swing’ vote. That’s how in per­il the lib­er­al lega­cies of the last 80 years are.

    And then there’s the clear pos­si­bil­i­ty of the court becom­ing even more right-wing should some­thing hap­pen to one of the four remain­ing left-lean­ing jus­tices. We could eas­i­ly see a 6–3 far right major­i­ty before the end of Trump’s first term. And this, of course, is all hap­pen­ing in the con­text of the near total dom­i­na­tion of the US gov­ern­ment at fed­er­al and state lev­els by a Repub­li­can par­ty that is infused with the spir­it of fas­cism and white nation­al­ism.

    So the long-term ques­tions about the impli­ca­tions of this his­toric shift loom large. But per­haps the ques­tion that looms the largest in the imme­di­ate term is what kind of impact that is going to have on the 2018 mid-terms that are just a month away. After all, the fight over the mul­ti­ple alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al assault lev­eled against Brett Kavanaugh has clear­ly caused a surge in Repub­li­can vot­er enthu­si­asm now that the Trump, the GOP, and the right-wing media com­plex all ral­lied around the idea that the accu­sa­tions are com­plete­ly base­less and part of a mas­sive smear cam­paign and part of some sort of broad­er left-wing attack against all white men (Tuck­er Carl­son actu­al­ly sug­gest­ed Kavanaugh­’s nom­i­na­tion fight could spark a race war). It’s the kind of argu­ment that has become a GOP spe­cial­ty, so it’s no sur­prise that this nar­ra­tive worked yet again.

    It’s still unclear if the par­ty is going to be able to nurse kind of vic­tim­hood nar­ra­tive over the next month now that Kavanaugh is con­firmed. But all signs at this point indi­cate that the GOP is going to try to use that vic­tim­hood nar­ra­tive as its best tool for keep that right-wing vot­er enthu­si­asm going into the Novem­ber vote. And to some extent that log­ic makes sense: giv­en the yawn­ing ‘enthu­si­asm’ gap the GOP was suf­fer­ing up until this point that was closed by the right-wing back­lash against the Kavanaugh accu­sa­tions, it’s pret­ty clear that the GOP has lit­tle to lose by con­tin­u­ing to stoke out­rage with the Repub­li­can base by pro­mot­ing the nar­ra­tive that all of the alle­ga­tions against Kavanaugh are part of a giant con­spir­a­cy to base­less­ly destroy a good, hon­or­able man.

    And per­haps that will con­tin­ue to be a suc­cess­ful tac­tic. But part of what’s so fas­ci­nat­ing about the cur­rent polit­i­cal dynam­ic is that it’s a high­ly unsta­ble dynam­ic in the sense that there’s still so much that isn’t known about Brett Kavanaugh­’s back­ground — includ­ing, but not lim­it­ed to, the sex­u­al assault accu­sa­tions — and there’s noth­ing stop­ping more of that infor­ma­tion from com­ing out over the next month and shap­ing that dynam­ic. For instance, it’s now become clear that the White House total­ly rigged the one week FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into the alle­ga­tions. The New York Times just report­ed that Trump was about to give the FBI per­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate any­one but White House lawyer Don McGahn report­ed­ly stopped him after warn­ing that a full inves­ti­ga­tion could imper­il Kavanaugh­’s chances. And the FBI only inter­viewed 10 peo­ple, and that did­n’t include Ford or Kavanaugh. And that report about what appears to be a joke FBI inves­ti­ga­tion came out before the vote to con­firm Kavanaugh. It’s an exam­ple of the kind of new infor­ma­tion that could come out and poten­tial­ly shape how this issue is per­ceived over the next month and high­lights how big a polit­i­cal gam­ble this is going to be for the GOP to nation­al­ize the right-wing out­rage over Kavanaugh­’s nom­i­na­tion head­ing into the final stretch of the mid-terms.

    And yet, giv­en the remark­able pow­er of the right-wing media com­plex to sell pret­ty much any nar­ra­tive they want to their audi­ences, it’s unclear what, if any­thing, could emerge about Kavanaugh that would punc­ture the ‘Kavanaugh was attack with smears and lies’ nar­ra­tive that man­aged to so suc­cess­ful­ly fire up the right-wing based. Still, it’s very pos­si­ble that left-wing and inde­pen­dent vot­ers could become even moti­vat­ed to vote as new infor­ma­tion about Kavanaugh comes out. The polit­i­cal impact of Kavanaugh­’s ascen­sion to the Supreme Court remains a high­ly flu­id sit­u­a­tion.

    So giv­en all that, it’s worth not­ing that there’s anoth­er unre­solved issue over Kavanaugh that did­n’t get much atten­tion dur­ing the nom­i­na­tion process but could actu­al­ly end up impact­ing the pub­lic per­cep­tion of Kavanaugh in ways that change the pub­lic per­cep­tion of the verac­i­ty of the sex­u­al assault claims against him: the ques­tion of whether or not Kavanaugh lied to Con­gress over the role he may have played in a 2002 GOP scan­dal over the theft of Demo­c­ra­t­ic doc­u­ments from a con­gres­sion­al serv­er, a.k.k the ‘Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal’. That’s the scan­dal sur­round­ing Man­u­al Miran­da, the for­mer Repub­li­can Sen­ate coun­sel on the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee who noticed in 2002 that Demo­c­ra­t­ic files — files con­tain­ing infor­ma­tion on strate­gies for how to deal with judi­cial nom­i­na­tions — stored on a shared serv­er were acces­si­ble so he took the files. And Brett Kavanaugh, who was work­ing as assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent at the time and work­ing on select­ing judi­cial nom­i­nees, was alleged­ly giv­en access to the files.

    These alle­ga­tions of course came up dur­ing the nom­i­na­tion process and Kavanaugh of course denied any involve­ment in it. So if evi­dence emerges sug­gest­ing that Kavanaugh did, in fact, work with those stolen doc­u­ments and knew they were stolen he could be charged with per­jury. And in the con­text of a ‘he-said/she-said/she-said/she-said/she-said’ series of alle­ga­tions over sex­u­al harass­ment, an emerg­ing per­jury nar­ra­tive prob­a­bly isn’t going to help Kavanaugh­’s case.

    So is there some new infor­ma­tion that’s com­ing out about this Sen­ate email scan­dal and Kavanaugh­’s role? Maybe. That will depend on the speed of two Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act (FOIA) law­suits work­ing their way through the courts. Both are law­suits to get access to cur­rent­ly unre­leased doc­u­ments from Kavanaugh­’s time in the Bush White House and both are set to have new doc­u­ments released in com­ing weeks. Which means we could see some scan­dalous dis­clo­sures about Kavanaugh hit­ting right before the mid-terms. Maybe. We’ll see. And release of the doc­u­ments is still sub­ject to White House approval, mean­ing this could eas­i­ly start look­ing like a White House Kavanaugh cov­er-up.

    One of the law­suits is pur­sued by the Elec­tron­ic Pri­va­cy Infor­ma­tion Cen­ter (EPIC). The oth­er is by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors on the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee. Yes, even the Sen­a­tors who had to vote on Kavanaugh weren’t giv­en access to these doc­u­ments. Doc­u­ments that could have revealed whether or not Kavanaugh ear­li­er per­jured him­self before them.

    So what do we know about these doc­u­ments? Well, one ‘smok­ing gun’ in the doc­u­ments is that there were a num­ber of emails sent from Miran­da to Kavanaugh short­ly after the reports of Miran­da’s theft of the Democ­rats’ doc­u­ments. Yep, we have sto­ries about the hack­ing scan­dal hit­ting the news, and then Miran­da emails Kavanaugh. But we don’t know what those emails said because they were sent in Decem­ber 2003, which was after Kavanaugh left the job of assis­tant to the pres­i­dent and moved on to become the staff sec­re­tary. And any­thing after his time as assis­tant to the pres­i­dent was deemed out­side the scope of the doc­u­ments that need­ed to be pro­duced to the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee. So we know Miran­da sent Kavanaugh emails short­ly after this scan­dal went pub­lic but Sen­a­tors did­n’t get access to the con­tent of those emails due to a tech­ni­cal­i­ty caused by Kavanaugh shift­ing roles in the White House. And now these FOIA law­suits are set to see the release of those emails in com­ing weeks.

    But, the release of these emails is still up to White House review. So we could eas­i­ly see a sit­u­a­tion where the White House refus­es to release these emails, at least until after the mid-terms. They will no doubt incor­po­rate it into the pre­vail­ing right-wing nar­ra­tive and frame it as pro­tect­ing Kavanaugh from a witch-hunt or some­thing. But that whole sit­u­a­tion real­ly could unfold. Poten­tial­ly right before the mid-terms. It’s a remark­able polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion and a big rea­son why the cur­rent polit­i­cal dynam­ic sur­round­ing the nation­al­iza­tion of the Kavanaugh nom­i­na­tion as a polit­i­cal issue is such a big gam­ble:

    Yahoo News

    Law­suits point to large trove of unre­leased Kavanaugh White House doc­u­ments

    Luppe B. Lup­pen Con­trib­u­tor
    ‚Yahoo News•October 5, 2018

    New details have emerged about poten­tial­ly thou­sands of Brett Kavanaugh’s White House emails and oth­er records relat­ed to the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal from ear­ly in the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion and oth­er con­tro­ver­sial sub­jects that have not been dis­closed to the Sen­ate, accord­ing to Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors on the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee.

    The undis­closed doc­u­ments, which date from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House, are set to be pro­duced in com­ing weeks as a result of two Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act law­suits, one pur­sued by Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors on the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee and anoth­er by an out­side pri­va­cy group, the Elec­tron­ic Pri­va­cy Infor­ma­tion Cen­ter (EPIC). Release of the doc­u­ments is still sub­ject to White House approval and oth­er con­sul­ta­tions.

    The Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal involved a Repub­li­can Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee aide, Man­ny Miran­da, who, accord­ing to an offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion, infil­trat­ed the elec­tron­ic files of Democ­rats on the com­mit­tee with the help of a co-con­spir­a­tor, James Lun­dell, and passed the intel­li­gence on to oth­er sen­a­tors, the White House, and friend­ly opin­ion colum­nists over a peri­od of years. The pil­fered mate­r­i­al con­tained, among oth­er things, Democ­rats’ research and pre­pared ques­tions for judi­cial nom­i­nees.

    With Kavanaugh fac­ing a poten­tial final con­fir­ma­tion vote over the week­end or ear­ly next week, the doc­u­ments that are cleared for release by the FOIA law­suits will like­ly emerge too late for sen­a­tors to take them into account.

    “This high­lights how lit­tle we know about Judge Kavanaugh’s record,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D‑Vt., said in a state­ment. “More than 90 per­cent of his White House records remain hid­den. The fact that he appears to have had so many con­ver­sa­tions about a top­ic that he denied hav­ing involve­ment with, under oath, rais­es even more ques­tions,” Leahy con­tin­ued, refer­ring to the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal.

    The tab­u­la­tions pro­vid­ed to Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors and EPIC by offi­cials at the Nation­al Archives and Records Admin­is­tra­tion before the poten­tial pro­duc­tion of the doc­u­ments show that poten­tial­ly only a frac­tion of Kavanaugh’s cor­re­spon­dence relat­ed to sev­er­al con­tro­ver­sial sub­jects dis­cussed at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings was made avail­able to sen­a­tors, accord­ing to Democ­rats on the com­mit­tee. The tab­u­la­tions indi­cate that the undis­closed doc­u­ments con­cern the Bush-era Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal; Kavanaugh’s inter­ac­tions with attor­ney John Yoo in the weeks fol­low­ing the ter­ror­ist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and Kavanaugh’s work on the USA Patri­ot Act and var­i­ous domes­tic sur­veil­lance pro­grams, air­port screen­ing pro­grams and oth­er pri­va­cy-relat­ed sub­jects.

    The tab­u­la­tions for EPIC, which are detailed in the table includ­ed below, were drawn from a sub­set of the over­all records the pri­va­cy group request­ed from the Nation­al Archives, accord­ing to Alan But­ler, EPIC’s legal direc­tor. In nego­ti­a­tions with EPIC, the Nation­al Archives agreed to tab­u­late first the records from the Judi­cia­ry Committee’s request that it has iden­ti­fied as being eli­gi­ble for release to the pub­lic and that are under­go­ing a final 60-day review by for­mer Pres­i­dent Bush and Pres­i­dent Trump. It is these records, already iden­ti­fied by the Nation­al Archives for pub­li­ca­tion, that are reflect­ed in table below. “This fur­ther under­scores the fact that there is impor­tant infor­ma­tion out there that is pend­ing release,” But­ler said. “It’s why we’ve called for the Sen­ate to post­pone the vote on Kavanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion.”

    Demo­c­ra­t­ic aides com­pared the Nation­al Archives’ totals for these sub­jects to what they received short­ly before the Judi­cia­ry Committee’s hear­ings, through an unprece­dent­ed process over­seen by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s pri­vate lawyer and Kavanaugh’s for­mer deputy, William A. Bur­ck. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic aides found that the Nation­al Archives’ num­bers are sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er in some cas­es. “How­ev­er, But­ler, EPIC’s legal direc­tor, point­ed out that these doc­u­ments had been iden­ti­fied as ready for pub­lic release by the Nation­al Archives, so he found it unlike­ly that they con­tained sig­nif­i­cant clas­si­fied or priv­i­leged mate­r­i­al.

    Because the doc­u­ments have not yet come to light, there is no way to tell how many are mere­ly dupli­cates of pre­vi­ous­ly pro­duced records. How­ev­er, pre­vi­ous pro­duc­tions from Bur­ck have includ­ed thou­sands of dupli­cate records, accord­ing to Demo­c­ra­t­ic aides. It is also uncer­tain how many doc­u­ments were with­held due to legit­i­mate claims of con­sti­tu­tion­al priv­i­lege or because they con­tained clas­si­fied or high­ly sen­si­tive per­son­al infor­ma­tion.

    [see Table show num­ber of records cur­rent­ly sched­uled to be released by the Nation­al Archives vs the much small­er num­ber of doc­u­ments already made avail­able to Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee Democ­rats]

    While he was not will­ing to dis­cuss the spe­cif­ic cat­e­gories of doc­u­ments iden­ti­fied by Democ­rats, Bur­ck pro­vid­ed a state­ment list­ing the rea­sons why doc­u­ments were held back.

    “As we have informed the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, we gave to the Com­mit­tee every page of every doc­u­ment giv­en to us by the Nation­al Archives and Records Admin­is­tra­tion (NARA), except per­son­al doc­u­ments — which the Com­mit­tee did not request and which NARA agreed should not be pro­duced — and con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly priv­i­leged doc­u­ments iden­ti­fied by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice — which the cur­rent Admin­is­tra­tion direct­ed that we not pro­vide,” he wrote in a state­ment to Yahoo News. “We also exclud­ed doc­u­ments that were auto­mat­i­cal­ly removed from our review using indus­try-stan­dard soft­ware, because they were exact dupli­cates of oth­er doc­u­ments that we did review; doc­u­ments that were dat­ed on or after July 7, 2003, when Judge Kavanaugh left the White House Counsel’s Office; State Depart­ment doc­u­ments dat­ing from the 1970s that were in Judge Kavanaugh’s White House Counsel’s Office hard copy files; doc­u­ments with tech­ni­cal issues such that they could not be processed by our third-par­ty ven­dor and thus were referred back to NARA to deter­mine if NARA could pro­vide review­able copies; and doc­u­ments which were either redact­ed or, in a few cas­es, with­held entire­ly on the basis that they con­tained per­son­al pri­va­cy infor­ma­tion, such as Social Secu­ri­ty num­bers, cell phone num­bers, pri­vate email address­es, and per­son­al med­ical or finan­cial infor­ma­tion.”

    ...

    Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors are focused on what their aides say may be as many as 1,800 undis­closed records relat­ed to the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal.

    Before Kavanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, Democ­rats received 1,721 Kavanaugh doc­u­ments relat­ed to the scan­dal, which they used to call into ques­tion Kavanaugh’s pre­vi­ous tes­ti­mo­ny dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for the D.C. Cir­cuit. At those hear­ings, Kavanaugh said under oath that he had no knowl­edge of receiv­ing the pur­loined doc­u­ments from Miran­da, the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee aide at the cen­ter of the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal, either in real time or in ret­ro­spect. The Nation­al Archives’ tab­u­la­tions indi­cate that there are approx­i­mate­ly 3,500 total records relat­ed to Kavanaugh’s deal­ings with Miran­da.

    Democ­rats are par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in indi­ca­tions in the Nation­al Archives’ tab­u­la­tions that there are a hand­ful of undis­closed emails from Miran­da to Kavanaugh at the time that the com­mit­tee aide’s mis­con­duct came to light, in Decem­ber 2003, which they say con­tain the word “Lun­dell,” the sur­name of the obscure staffer who con­spired with Miran­da in the hack­ing scan­dal. It is not con­firmed that the Decem­ber 2003 emails dis­cussed the hack­ing scan­dal, but Demo­c­ra­t­ic aides speak­ing on back­ground not­ed that Kavanaugh and Lun­dell were not friends and, since Kavanaugh had left the White House counsel’s office by Decem­ber 2003, he had no obvi­ous rea­son — oth­er than the hack­ing issue — to cor­re­spond with Miran­da about Lun­dell.

    “Judge Kavanaugh owes us some expla­na­tion about why he was cor­re­spond­ing with Man­ny Miran­da about Jason Lun­dell in the month after their appar­ent crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy was exposed,” Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, D‑Conn., said in a state­ment. “How can there be a plau­si­ble and inno­cent expla­na­tion for why almost 2,000 com­mu­ni­ca­tions between Kavanaugh and Miran­da were kept hid­den from the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee? These facts might be writ­ten off as coin­ci­dence if only Judge Kavanaugh hadn’t twice tried to mis­lead the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee about his rela­tion­ship with Miran­da and his receipt of stolen doc­u­ments.”

    Because the Decem­ber 2003 emails were sent to Kavanaugh after he tran­si­tioned to the staff sec­re­tary role, they would have been out­side the scope of doc­u­ments pro­duced by Bur­ck to the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee. Kavanaugh did not appear to reply to any of the emails, the tab­u­la­tions show.

    One of the first con­tro­ver­sies of the Kavanaugh hear­ings was fought over the doc­u­ment pro­duc­tion process. Kavanaugh had a volu­mi­nous record of doc­u­ments from his six years of pub­lic ser­vice in the Bush White House, first as an asso­ciate coun­sel in the White House counsel’s office and then, after July 2003, as staff sec­re­tary. Typ­i­cal­ly, a judi­cial nominee’s White House records would be req­ui­si­tioned by the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee direct­ly from the Nation­al Archives using a pro­vi­sion of the Pres­i­den­tial Records Act. The doc­u­ments would be gath­ered and screened for clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and priv­i­leged mate­r­i­al in a process coor­di­nat­ed by the archivists, non­po­lit­i­cal civ­il ser­vants.

    Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley, R‑Iowa, made his first con­tro­ver­sial move by request­ing only Kavanaugh’s records for his time in the counsel’s office, exclud­ing his years of ser­vice as staff sec­re­tary. In ear­ly August, the Nation­al Archives wrote to Grass­ley that this lim­it­ed request could not be com­plet­ed before the end of Octo­ber, sig­nif­i­cant­ly lat­er than the Repub­li­cans want­ed to hold Kavanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.

    Notwith­stand­ing the Nation­al Archives’ time­line, Repub­li­cans were still able to hold Kavanaugh’s hear­ings in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber because they had devel­oped a new strat­e­gy for pro­duc­ing doc­u­ments, one that would con­tro­ver­sial­ly rely on a for­mer pres­i­dent and an out­side lawyer.

    Under a sep­a­rate pro­vi­sion of the Pres­i­den­tial Records Act, a for­mer pres­i­dent is per­mit­ted to request records for his own or his representative’s use. This pro­vi­sion is typ­i­cal­ly under­stood to allow the pres­i­dent to review his administration’s records for per­son­al pur­suits, like writ­ing a mem­oir. Repub­li­cans arranged to have for­mer pres­i­dent George W. Bush and his pub­lic records lawyer, Bur­ck, invoke it in Kavanaugh’s aid. Bush would request the doc­u­ments, and Burck’s legal team would coor­di­nate the process of review­ing them for priv­i­leged infor­ma­tion and turn them over to the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee.

    While this approach was demon­stra­bly faster, Democ­rats heav­i­ly crit­i­cized it through­out the sum­mer. They object­ed to plac­ing in pri­vate hands the deter­mi­na­tion of which doc­u­ments elect­ed sen­a­tors would be able to review and also point­ed to poten­tial con­flicts of inter­est. Bur­ck is a lawyer for sev­er­al cur­rent and for­mer Trump White House offi­cials in Robert Mueller’s spe­cial coun­sel inves­ti­ga­tion, and he also worked inside the Bush White House as Kavanaugh’s deputy staff sec­re­tary.

    Bur­ck man­aged the pro­duc­tion before and dur­ing Kavanaugh’s hear­ings, with attor­neys from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice assist­ing him in deter­min­ing which doc­u­ments to with­hold on claims of exec­u­tive priv­i­lege and which to pro­duce on the con­di­tion that they be main­tained as “com­mit­tee con­fi­den­tial.” The doc­u­ments iden­ti­fied in the Nation­al Archives tab­u­la­tions could include those with­held by Bur­ck.

    While it’s far from clear how impor­tant the undis­closed doc­u­ments could be, and doubt­ful the mere prospect of their future dis­clo­sure will sway any votes, if new infor­ma­tion emerges about divi­sive sub­jects after the Sen­ate has already vot­ed to con­firm Kavanaugh, it could cast a per­ma­nent cloud on Kavanaugh’s ser­vice on the Supreme Court.

    “If this process were designed to find the truth, we would be answer­ing those ques­tions before rush­ing to a vote,” Sen. Leahy said.

    ———-

    “Law­suits point to large trove of unre­leased Kavanaugh White House doc­u­ments” by Luppe B. Lup­pen; Yahoo News; 10/05/2018

    “While it’s far from clear how impor­tant the undis­closed doc­u­ments could be, and doubt­ful the mere prospect of their future dis­clo­sure will sway any votes, if new infor­ma­tion emerges about divi­sive sub­jects after the Sen­ate has already vot­ed to con­firm Kavanaugh, it could cast a per­ma­nent cloud on Kavanaugh’s ser­vice on the Supreme Court.”

    Yep, while it’s far from clear how impor­tant the undis­closed doc­u­ments could have been for Kavanaugh­’s nom­i­na­tion process because that process was clear­ly a farce, there’s noth­ing stop­ping the even­tu­al release of these doc­u­ments from cast­ing a per­ma­nent cloud on Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court jus­tice. An even­tu­al release could hap­pen in com­ing weeks thanks to the two FOIA law­suits:

    ...
    New details have emerged about poten­tial­ly thou­sands of Brett Kavanaugh’s White House emails and oth­er records relat­ed to the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal from ear­ly in the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion and oth­er con­tro­ver­sial sub­jects that have not been dis­closed to the Sen­ate, accord­ing to Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors on the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee.

    The undis­closed doc­u­ments, which date from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House, are set to be pro­duced in com­ing weeks as a result of two Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act law­suits, one pur­sued by Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors on the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee and anoth­er by an out­side pri­va­cy group, the Elec­tron­ic Pri­va­cy Infor­ma­tion Cen­ter (EPIC). Release of the doc­u­ments is still sub­ject to White House approval and oth­er con­sul­ta­tions.
    ...

    So will this release hap­pen before the mid-terms? We’ll see, but if it does­n’t hap­pen before the mid-terms there’s noth­ing stop­ping it from becom­ing a cam­paign issue. After all, if the GOP is going to run on out­rage over the accu­sa­tions against Kavanaugh, rais­ing this issue over pos­si­ble per­jury becomes a nat­ur­al response by Democ­rats. So this real­ly could sud­den­ly become a nation­al issue.

    And part of what makes this a poten­tial cam­paign issue is the fact that the few facts we do know just look so sus­pi­cious. Kavanaugh denied, under oath, have any involve­ment with the stolen doc­u­ments and yet we know he sud­den­ly received a bunch of emails from Miran­da short­ly after the sto­ry went pub­lic. It just looks hor­ri­ble and the only way to tru­ly clear it up is to release the doc­u­ments:

    ...
    The Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal involved a Repub­li­can Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee aide, Man­ny Miran­da, who, accord­ing to an offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion, infil­trat­ed the elec­tron­ic files of Democ­rats on the com­mit­tee with the help of a co-con­spir­a­tor, James Lun­dell, and passed the intel­li­gence on to oth­er sen­a­tors, the White House, and friend­ly opin­ion colum­nists over a peri­od of years. The pil­fered mate­r­i­al con­tained, among oth­er things, Democ­rats’ research and pre­pared ques­tions for judi­cial nom­i­nees.

    With Kavanaugh fac­ing a poten­tial final con­fir­ma­tion vote over the week­end or ear­ly next week, the doc­u­ments that are cleared for release by the FOIA law­suits will like­ly emerge too late for sen­a­tors to take them into account.

    “This high­lights how lit­tle we know about Judge Kavanaugh’s record,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D‑Vt., said in a state­ment. “More than 90 per­cent of his White House records remain hid­den. The fact that he appears to have had so many con­ver­sa­tions about a top­ic that he denied hav­ing involve­ment with, under oath, rais­es even more ques­tions,” Leahy con­tin­ued, refer­ring to the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal.
    ...

    So how many emails and doc­u­ments might get released in this process? As many as 1,800 released to the hack­ing scan­dal alone. And some of those emails sent by Miran­da to Kavanaugh appar­ent­ly con­tain the work “Lun­dell”. And Lun­dell That hap­pens to be the name of an obscure staffer who con­spired with Miran­da. It just looks so damn sus­pi­cious:

    ...
    Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors are focused on what their aides say may be as many as 1,800 undis­closed records relat­ed to the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal.

    Before Kavanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, Democ­rats received 1,721 Kavanaugh doc­u­ments relat­ed to the scan­dal, which they used to call into ques­tion Kavanaugh’s pre­vi­ous tes­ti­mo­ny dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for the D.C. Cir­cuit. At those hear­ings, Kavanaugh said under oath that he had no knowl­edge of receiv­ing the pur­loined doc­u­ments from Miran­da, the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee aide at the cen­ter of the Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal, either in real time or in ret­ro­spect. The Nation­al Archives’ tab­u­la­tions indi­cate that there are approx­i­mate­ly 3,500 total records relat­ed to Kavanaugh’s deal­ings with Miran­da.

    Democ­rats are par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in indi­ca­tions in the Nation­al Archives’ tab­u­la­tions that there are a hand­ful of undis­closed emails from Miran­da to Kavanaugh at the time that the com­mit­tee aide’s mis­con­duct came to light, in Decem­ber 2003, which they say con­tain the word “Lun­dell,” the sur­name of the obscure staffer who con­spired with Miran­da in the hack­ing scan­dal. It is not con­firmed that the Decem­ber 2003 emails dis­cussed the hack­ing scan­dal, but Demo­c­ra­t­ic aides speak­ing on back­ground not­ed that Kavanaugh and Lun­dell were not friends and, since Kavanaugh had left the White House counsel’s office by Decem­ber 2003, he had no obvi­ous rea­son — oth­er than the hack­ing issue — to cor­re­spond with Miran­da about Lun­dell.

    “Judge Kavanaugh owes us some expla­na­tion about why he was cor­re­spond­ing with Man­ny Miran­da about Jason Lun­dell in the month after their appar­ent crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy was exposed,” Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, D‑Conn., said in a state­ment. “How can there be a plau­si­ble and inno­cent expla­na­tion for why almost 2,000 com­mu­ni­ca­tions between Kavanaugh and Miran­da were kept hid­den from the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee? These facts might be writ­ten off as coin­ci­dence if only Judge Kavanaugh hadn’t twice tried to mis­lead the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee about his rela­tion­ship with Miran­da and his receipt of stolen doc­u­ments.”
    ...

    And the process of releas­ing the doc­u­ments looks super sus­pi­cious too. Using an unprece­dent­ed process, the doc­u­ments to be released are being reviewed by William A. Bur­ck, who hap­pens to be George W. Bush’s pri­vate lawyer and Kavanaugh­’s for­mer deputy. You almost could­n’t come up with a more sus­pi­cious-look­ing sce­nario:

    ...
    The tab­u­la­tions pro­vid­ed to Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors and EPIC by offi­cials at the Nation­al Archives and Records Admin­is­tra­tion before the poten­tial pro­duc­tion of the doc­u­ments show that poten­tial­ly only a frac­tion of Kavanaugh’s cor­re­spon­dence relat­ed to sev­er­al con­tro­ver­sial sub­jects dis­cussed at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings was made avail­able to sen­a­tors, accord­ing to Democ­rats on the com­mit­tee. The tab­u­la­tions indi­cate that the undis­closed doc­u­ments con­cern the Bush-era Sen­ate hack­ing scan­dal; Kavanaugh’s inter­ac­tions with attor­ney John Yoo in the weeks fol­low­ing the ter­ror­ist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and Kavanaugh’s work on the USA Patri­ot Act and var­i­ous domes­tic sur­veil­lance pro­grams, air­port screen­ing pro­grams and oth­er pri­va­cy-relat­ed sub­jects.

    The tab­u­la­tions for EPIC, which are detailed in the table includ­ed below, were drawn from a sub­set of the over­all records the pri­va­cy group request­ed from the Nation­al Archives, accord­ing to Alan But­ler, EPIC’s legal direc­tor. In nego­ti­a­tions with EPIC, the Nation­al Archives agreed to tab­u­late first the records from the Judi­cia­ry Committee’s request that it has iden­ti­fied as being eli­gi­ble for release to the pub­lic and that are under­go­ing a final 60-day review by for­mer Pres­i­dent Bush and Pres­i­dent Trump. It is these records, already iden­ti­fied by the Nation­al Archives for pub­li­ca­tion, that are reflect­ed in table below. “This fur­ther under­scores the fact that there is impor­tant infor­ma­tion out there that is pend­ing release,” But­ler said. “It’s why we’ve called for the Sen­ate to post­pone the vote on Kavanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion.”

    Demo­c­ra­t­ic aides com­pared the Nation­al Archives’ totals for these sub­jects to what they received short­ly before the Judi­cia­ry Committee’s hear­ings, through an unprece­dent­ed process over­seen by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s pri­vate lawyer and Kavanaugh’s for­mer deputy, William A. Bur­ck. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic aides found that the Nation­al Archives’ num­bers are sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er in some cas­es. “How­ev­er, But­ler, EPIC’s legal direc­tor, point­ed out that these doc­u­ments had been iden­ti­fied as ready for pub­lic release by the Nation­al Archives, so he found it unlike­ly that they con­tained sig­nif­i­cant clas­si­fied or priv­i­leged mate­r­i­al.

    ...

    Notwith­stand­ing the Nation­al Archives’ time­line, Repub­li­cans were still able to hold Kavanaugh’s hear­ings in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber because they had devel­oped a new strat­e­gy for pro­duc­ing doc­u­ments, one that would con­tro­ver­sial­ly rely on a for­mer pres­i­dent and an out­side lawyer.

    Under a sep­a­rate pro­vi­sion of the Pres­i­den­tial Records Act, a for­mer pres­i­dent is per­mit­ted to request records for his own or his representative’s use. This pro­vi­sion is typ­i­cal­ly under­stood to allow the pres­i­dent to review his administration’s records for per­son­al pur­suits, like writ­ing a mem­oir. Repub­li­cans arranged to have for­mer pres­i­dent George W. Bush and his pub­lic records lawyer, Bur­ck, invoke it in Kavanaugh’s aid. Bush would request the doc­u­ments, and Burck’s legal team would coor­di­nate the process of review­ing them for priv­i­leged infor­ma­tion and turn them over to the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee.

    While this approach was demon­stra­bly faster, Democ­rats heav­i­ly crit­i­cized it through­out the sum­mer. They object­ed to plac­ing in pri­vate hands the deter­mi­na­tion of which doc­u­ments elect­ed sen­a­tors would be able to review and also point­ed to poten­tial con­flicts of inter­est. Bur­ck is a lawyer for sev­er­al cur­rent and for­mer Trump White House offi­cials in Robert Mueller’s spe­cial coun­sel inves­ti­ga­tion, and he also worked inside the Bush White House as Kavanaugh’s deputy staff sec­re­tary.

    Bur­ck man­aged the pro­duc­tion before and dur­ing Kavanaugh’s hear­ings, with attor­neys from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice assist­ing him in deter­min­ing which doc­u­ments to with­hold on claims of exec­u­tive priv­i­lege and which to pro­duce on the con­di­tion that they be main­tained as “com­mit­tee con­fi­den­tial.” The doc­u­ments iden­ti­fied in the Nation­al Archives tab­u­la­tions could include those with­held by Bur­ck.
    ...

    And the only rea­son these high­ly sus­pi­cious look­ing emails from Miran­da to Kavanaugh haven’t already been released is because only doc­u­ments relat­ed to Kavanaugh­’s work as Assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent had to be released. For some rea­son his work as staff sec­re­tary did­n’t war­rant Sen­ate review:

    ...
    Because the Decem­ber 2003 emails were sent to Kavanaugh after he tran­si­tioned to the staff sec­re­tary role, they would have been out­side the scope of doc­u­ments pro­duced by Bur­ck to the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee. Kavanaugh did not appear to reply to any of the emails, the tab­u­la­tions show.

    One of the first con­tro­ver­sies of the Kavanaugh hear­ings was fought over the doc­u­ment pro­duc­tion process. Kavanaugh had a volu­mi­nous record of doc­u­ments from his six years of pub­lic ser­vice in the Bush White House, first as an asso­ciate coun­sel in the White House counsel’s office and then, after July 2003, as staff sec­re­tary. Typ­i­cal­ly, a judi­cial nominee’s White House records would be req­ui­si­tioned by the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee direct­ly from the Nation­al Archives using a pro­vi­sion of the Pres­i­den­tial Records Act. The doc­u­ments would be gath­ered and screened for clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and priv­i­leged mate­r­i­al in a process coor­di­nat­ed by the archivists, non­po­lit­i­cal civ­il ser­vants.

    Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley, R‑Iowa, made his first con­tro­ver­sial move by request­ing only Kavanaugh’s records for his time in the counsel’s office, exclud­ing his years of ser­vice as staff sec­re­tary. In ear­ly August, the Nation­al Archives wrote to Grass­ley that this lim­it­ed request could not be com­plet­ed before the end of Octo­ber, sig­nif­i­cant­ly lat­er than the Repub­li­cans want­ed to hold Kavanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.
    ...

    All in all, it’s look­ing like a high­ly sus­pi­cious sit­u­a­tion. A high­ly sus­pi­cious sit­u­a­tion that strong­ly points towards per­jury. And don’t for­get that the Sen­ate ‘hack­ing’ scan­dal is only one of the poten­tial issues where Kavanaugh may have per­jured him­self that could be revealed by the release of these doc­u­ments.

    So that’s all going to be a polit­i­cal­ly fas­ci­nat­ing sit­u­a­tion to watch play out. Will the White House stonewall the release of these doc­u­ments until after the mid-terms and will the Democ­rats man­age to turn that into a polit­i­cal lia­bil­i­ty? Might the GOP suc­cess­ful­ly frame ques­tions of per­jury as an exten­sion of the ‘Democ­rats will do any­thing to destroy a good man’s rep­u­ta­tion’ nar­ra­tive and keep their base fired up? Who knows, block­ing the release of these doc­u­ments to ‘stop the destruc­tion of Brett’ could become Trump’s new ral­ly­ing cry.

    Anoth­er gen­er­al ques­tion raised by Kavanaugh­’s ascen­sion to the Supreme Court is what the impact of poten­tial­ly per­ma­nent large gen­der-gap in vot­ing pref­er­ences might do to Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. Because one thing that’s empir­i­cal­ly clear at this point is that if the GOP has deter­mined that a vot­ing demo­graph­ic is over­whelm­ing­ly going to sup­port Democ­rats (like minori­ties and urban vot­ers) the GOP is going to do every­thing in its pow­er to restrict that demo­graph­ic from being able to suc­cess­ful­ly vote. Ger­ry­man­der­ing, vot­ing restric­tions on felons, and a grow­ing array of rule lim­it­ed vot­ing access are all well-honed vot­er sup­pres­sion tech­niques tar­get­ing left-wing con­stituen­cies at this point. But they aren’t tech­niques that can clear­ly tar­get women. So if we enter into an era of a per­ma­nent large gen­der-gap, where women over­whelm­ing­ly net oppose the GOP, how are female vot­ers going to be sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly sup­pressed? We know the GOP is going to try to do it so how are they going to go about it? That’s prob­a­bly a ques­tion that’s going to be increas­ing­ly impor­tant to ask going for­ward.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 6, 2018, 2:19 pm
  5. There was a poten­tial­ly explo­sive sto­ry last night on MSNBC when Lawrence O’Don­nell regard­ing the source of Don­ald Trump’s cur­rent wealth and whether or not he’s an actu­al bil­lion­aire: Accord­ing to a source described as “close to Deutsche Bank”, not only is Deutsche Bank in pos­ses­sion of Trump’s tax returns, but the bank is also in pos­ses­sion of loan doc­u­ments that show Trump obtained loans with for­eign oli­garchs are co-sign­ers. Specif­i­cal­ly Russ­ian oli­garchs close to Putin, accord­ing to this anony­mous source.

    It’s also worth recall­ing what we’ve learned about Jared Kush­n­er’s deal­ings in 2015 and 2016 with Lev Leviev to pur­chase the old New York Times build­ing from Leviev in 2015 for $295 mil­lion. Kush­n­er received a $285 mil­lion loan from Deutsche Bank about a month before the 2016 elec­tion as part of a refi­nanc­ing deal for that pur­chase. And Deutsche Bank employ­ees have said they saw sus­pi­cious activ­i­ty in both Kush­n­er’s and Trump’s accounts that had the appear­ance of mon­ey-laun­der­ing in 2016. Recall how Leviev was involved with one of the mon­ey-laun­der­ing oper­a­tions involv­ing Man­hat­tan real estate impli­cat­ed in the Mag­nit­sky inves­ti­ga­tion. Leviev is als described as ‘close to Putin’, although he is more accu­rate­ly char­ac­ter­ized as a ‘Russ­ian-Israeli’ busi­ness­man who is report­ed­ly close to Felix Sater too.

    So we already know about Kush­n­er get­ting Deutsche Bank loans in 2016 to help with pur­chase one of Lev Leviev’s prop­er­ties and this is based on Deutsche Bank employ­ees decid­ing to go to the press with this infor­ma­tion. Might this lat­est source ‘close to Deutsche Bank’ be one of those employ­ees and might Lev Leviev be the co-sign­er?

    O’Don­nell then had David Cay John­ston on to talk about this news and John­ston point­ed out that, while it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble there were Russ­ian oli­garchs co-sign­ing those loans, if Trump has been in the kind of sit­u­a­tion where he need­ed for­eign oli­garchs to co-sign his loans we should­n’t assume it’s lim­it­ed to Russ­ian oli­garchs. We should be look­ing into Sau­di, UAE, or Turk­ish oli­garchs too as like­ly sus­pects. It’s impor­tant per­spec­tive to keep in mind with this sto­ry: if Trump was broke enough to need an oli­garch co-sign­er, we should­n’t assume he was exclu­sive­ly using Russ­ian oli­garchs to get his loans giv­en the glob­al nature of his shady busi­ness rela­tion­ships:

    Raw Sto­ry

    Tax expert David Cay John­ston warns Russ­ian oli­garchs may not be the only for­eign­ers co-sign­ing Trump’s loans

    By Bob Brigham
    August 27, 2019

    On Tues­day evening, MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell broke a bomb­shell report that Deutsche Bank has loan appli­ca­tions from Don­ald Trump that were co-signed by Russ­ian oli­garchs.

    “The source close to Deutsche Bank says that the Trump tax returns reveal that the pres­i­dent pays lit­tle to no income tax in some years,” he said. “And the source says that Deutsche Bank is in pos­ses­sion of loan doc­u­ments that show Don­ald Trump has obtained loans with co-sign­ers and that he would not have been able to obtain those loans with­out co-sign­ers.”

    “The source close to Deutsche Bank says that the co-sign­ers of Don­ald Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans are Russ­ian bil­lion­aires close to Vladimir Putin,” O’Donnell report­ed.

    If con­firmed, it could make impeach­ment “absolute­ly inevitable.”

    For analy­sis, O’Donnell inter­viewed Pulitzer Prize-win­ning inves­tiga­tive reporter and tax expert David Cay John­ston of DC Report.

    “If Deutsche Bank has Don­ald Trump’s tax returns, isn’t the only pur­pose for a bank to have tax returns is for loans?” O’Donnell asked. “Is there — I can’t think of any oth­er rea­son why the bank would have his tax returns.”

    “No, the bank gets your tax returns or a tran­script of your infor­ma­tion. If you apply for a mort­gage, you sign a doc­u­ment allow­ing your bank to check with the IRS to see if the income you’ve report­ed to them is the income that you’re report­ing to the bank,” John­ston replied.

    “Now, of course, Don­ald has a long his­to­ry that I’ve doc­u­ment­ed show­ing two dif­fer­ent sets of doc­u­ments to dif­fer­ent peo­ple that don’t match up, and one of the inter­est­ing ele­ments of this is they appar­ent­ly have drafts as well as signed, filed tax returns. In exam­in­ing the dif­fer­ence between those could be reveal­ing about Donald’s behav­ior,” he explained. “Remem­ber, a tax return is basi­cal­ly the start­ing point for an inves­ti­ga­tion, it’s not the end.”

    Sin­gle source report tonight by @Lawrence, when I was his open­ing guest, of Russ­ian co-sign­ers on Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans fits w/ what I’ve been say­ing for years.

    Judge should review loan docs in cham­bers. If true, judge can – and should – put in pub­lic record ASAP.

    .

    — David Cay John­ston (@DavidCayJ) August 28, 2019

    “And, David, you have stud­ied Don­ald Trump’s wealth, Don­ald Trump’s earn­ings over time. You’re one of the first peo­ple to punc­ture the myth of Don­ald Trump as a bil­lion­aire. We heard in court the lawyers for the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives who are seek­ing this infor­ma­tion, and they say they’re seek­ing it in a Russ­ian mon­ey-laun­der­ing inves­ti­ga­tion. That’s why they say they’re seek­ing it,” O’Donnell report­ed. “If those loan doc­u­ments show co-sign­ers, let’s just go to that, your under­stand­ing of Don­ald Trump’s finances by the time he’s try­ing to get loans from Deutsche Bank after every oth­er bank has turned him down. Would it make sense that he needs co-sign­ers at that point?”

    “Oh, absolute­ly,” John­ston replied.

    “And Don­ald I’ve argued on your show and oth­ers for sev­er­al years now that Deutsche Bank in mak­ing these loans had to have some­one in the back­ground that was guar­an­tee­ing these loans. It would be sur­pris­ing if they’re actu­al­ly co-sign­ers. That would be absolute­ly aston­ish­ing and I would think man­date his removal from office,” he con­tin­ued.

    “David, know­ing what you know about Don­ald Trump’s finances as you’ve stud­ied them, when Don­ald Trump — if he came to the point where he had to look around for back­ers for his loans, co-sign­ers for his loans, is Rus­sia where he would end up look­ing?” O’Donnell asked.

    “Well, it would be the best place for him to go and it fits with the family’s own pub­lic state­ments — that they’ve tried to walk back since — about get­ting lots of assets from Rus­sia,” John­ston replied. “But, you know, Don­ald may well have oth­er back­ers. The next places to look would be the Saud­is, the Emi­ratis and per­haps some peo­ple in Turkey, giv­en Michael Fly­nn, his Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er, hav­ing been on the pay­roll ille­gal­ly of Turk­ish inter­ests when he was in the White House.”

    ...

    ———-
    “Tax expert David Cay John­ston warns Russ­ian oli­garchs may not be the only for­eign­ers co-sign­ing Trump’s loans” by Bob Brigham, Raw Sto­ry, 08/27/2019

    ““Well, it would be the best place for him to go and it fits with the family’s own pub­lic state­ments — that they’ve tried to walk back since — about get­ting lots of assets from Rus­sia,” John­ston replied. “But, you know, Don­ald may well have oth­er back­ers. The next places to look would be the Saud­is, the Emi­ratis and per­haps some peo­ple in Turkey, giv­en Michael Fly­nn, his Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er, hav­ing been on the pay­roll ille­gal­ly of Turk­ish inter­ests when he was in the White House.”

    That’s some good advice from David Cay John­ston: don’t assume this sto­ry ends with a Russ­ian oli­garch. If there’s one there’s one oli­garch co-sign­er prob­a­bly more and there’s no rea­son to believe they’re all Rus­sians.

    It’s also worth not­ing that we know the one per­son who could tell us the iden­ti­ties of any oli­garch co-sign­ers for Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans for any loans that took place before 2009: Justin Kennedy, Trump’s banker at Deutsche Bank until 2009 who report­ed­ly worked close­ly with Trump dur­ing a peri­od when Deutsche Bank was the only bank Trump could find to loan to him. So these mys­tery oli­garch co-sign­ers may explain why Deutsche Bank was will­ing to make loans to some­one no oth­er bank would touch.

    And giv­en the curi­ous rela­tion­ship between Trump, Kush­n­er, and Leviev involv­ing Man­hat­tan real estate deals and Deutsche Bank loans and the fact that Leviev was impli­cat­ed in the mon­ey-laun­der­ing activ­i­ties uncov­ered by Sergei Mag­nit­sky involv­ing Man­hat­tan real estate, it’s worth not­ing that the peri­od when Justin Kennedy was Trump’s banker at Deutsche Bank would have over­lap with the peri­od when Mag­nit­sky dis­cov­ered Man­hat­tan real estate was being used for a mon­ey-laun­der­ing. So if it turns out the anony­mous source was refer­ring to loans Trump received from Deutsche Bank co-signed by Russ­ian oli­garchs were loans from that pre-2009 peri­od when Justin was Trump’s banker, that raise all sorts of fas­ci­nat­ing new ques­tions about Trump’s pos­si­ble role in those Man­hat­tan real estate mon­ey-laun­der­ing oper­a­tions Mag­nit­sky uncov­ered. It would also obvi­ous­ly raise some fas­ci­nat­ing ques­tions about Justin’s pos­si­ble role in all that too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2019, 11:34 am
  6. Welp, it looks like that sto­ry bro­ken by Lawrence O’Don­nell on his MSNBC show Tues­day night about Pres­i­dent Trump get­ting loans from Deutsche Bank that were co-signed by a Russ­ian oli­garch ‘close to Putin’ is already being retract­ed. Although the retrac­tion isn’t a refu­ta­tion of the sto­ry. Instead, Lawrence O’Don­nell sim­ply acknowl­edged that the sto­ry was­n’t tech­ni­cal­ly ready for pub­lic dis­cus­sion when he first brought it up on his show because it had­n’t yet gone through the ver­i­fi­ca­tion stan­dards. As O’Don­nell put it on his show last night, “Last night on this show I dis­cussed infor­ma­tion that was­n’t ready for report­ing. I did not go through the rig­or­ous ver­i­fi­ca­tion and stan­dards process here at MSNBC before repeat­ing what I heard from my source. Had it gone through that process I would not have been per­mit­ted to report it. I should not have said it on air or post­ed it on Twit­ter. I was wrong to do so.“ In fair­ness, if you watch the ini­tial report where O’Don­nell reveals this scoop at the begin­ning of the show he repeat­ed­ly empha­sizes that it’s based on a sin­gle source and couch­es the sto­ry with phras­es like “if true”, so it was­n’t being pre­sent­ed as a well-sourced sto­ry.

    And note that, while O’Don­nell does say, “Had it gone through that process I would not have been per­mit­ted to report it,” that state­ment does­n’t appear to indi­cate that MSNBC had sub­se­quent­ly deter­mined that the sto­ry was inac­cu­rate. O’Don­nell goes on to say that they don’t know if the sto­ry is accu­rate at this point, say­ing, “Tonight we are retract­ing the sto­ry. We don‘t know whether the infor­ma­tion is inac­cu­rate. But the fact is, we do know it was­n’t ready for broad­cast, and for that I apol­o­gize.“ That makes it sound like the rea­son he would­n’t have been able to report on the sto­ry even after the sto­ry went through a ver­i­fi­ca­tion process is prob­a­bly because it was a sto­ry based on a sin­gle anony­mous source.

    So the ques­tion of whether or not Trump was get­ting his Deutsche Bank loans co-signed by for­eign oli­garchs remains a very open ques­tion. But this retrac­tion also opens up some more inter­est­ing ques­tions. First, was this anoth­er instance where an anony­mous source claims some sort of explo­sive Trump tie in to Rus­sia that nev­er pans out? It cer­tain­ly would­n’t be the first time it hap­pened. For exam­ple, there was the ‘Paul Man­afort was caught vis­it­ing Julian Assange at the Ecuado­ran embassy’ sto­ry in the Guardian that appears to have been dis­in­for­ma­tion being inject­ed by an anony­mous source. There was also the anony­mous­ly sourced report from McClatchy — claim­ing that Mueller’s team did indeed have evi­dence that the infa­mous Prague meet­ing between Michael Cohen and Russ­ian intel­li­gence real­ly did hap­pen — that appears to have been false and yet those reporters stood by the sources say­ing they had been impor­tant sources on oth­er sto­ries. And then there was the anony­mous­ly sourced Dai­ly Beast piece assert­ing that evi­dence of the GRU being behind “Guc­cifer 2.0” was found when a GRU offi­cer neglect­ed to turn on his VPN when log­ging in to Guc­cifer 2.0’s Twit­ter account and this cre­at­ed a dig­i­tal trail going back to the GRU’s head­quar­ters. The claims in that sto­ry have nev­er sur­faced in the released Mueller report despite it being poten­tial­ly com­pelling evi­dence. And those are just some of the exam­ples of sto­ries with explo­sive claims that appear to pro­vide pow­er­ful evi­dence of a Trump-Krem­lin con­nec­tion that were based on anony­mous sources that nev­er panned out. Might this retract­ed sto­ry be anoth­er exam­ple of that pat­tern?

    Also keep in mind anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty: Trump him­self was the source as part of a dirty trick designed to pre­emp­tive­ly deflate a real sto­ry while dis­cred­it­ing the media. Recall that this already appears to have hap­pened back in March of 2017 when David Cay John­ston was giv­en a copy of Trump’s 2005 tax returns from an anony­mous source. The tax doc­u­ments were sent to John­ston in the mail and the source remained anony­mous to John­ston him­self. In the end, the sto­ry appeared to show Trump paid the Alter­na­tive Min­i­mum Tax that year which, rel­a­tive­ly speak­ing, could be worse new for Trump. At least he paid some­thing. And it was that com­bi­na­tion of the com­plete­ly anony­mous source of these 2005 doc­u­ments and the fact that they weren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly damn­ing doc­u­ments that led to much spec­u­la­tion over whether or not Trump him­self mailed John­ston the doc­u­ments as a means of shap­ing the nar­ra­tive around his tax returns. Trump already had a his­to­ry of assum­ing fake per­sonas (John Bar­ron) to feed reporters sto­ries about him­self which only fueled the spec­u­la­tion that the source for these tax returns was indeed Trump.

    Giv­en that his­to­ry of both anony­mous sources — like­ly con­nect­ed to US law enforce­ment or intel­li­gence — and Trump him­self feed­ing reporters dubi­ous sto­ries that appear to designed to shape the nar­ra­tive around Trump, we have to ask: If indeed O’Don­nel­l’s retract­ed report ends up nev­er pan­ning out, was the anony­mous source one of the same anony­mous sources for the oth­er anony­mous­ly sourced sto­ries with explo­sive #TrumpRus­sia claims that now appear to be dis­in­for­ma­tion? Or was it Trump him­self or some­one close to Trump try­ing to pre­emp­tive­ly dis­cred­it a real sto­ry they fear com­ing out?:

    Politi­co

    MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell apol­o­gizes, retracts report on Trump finances

    By QUINT FORGEY and MATTHEW CHOI

    08/28/2019 03:47 PM EDT
    Updat­ed 08/29/2019 08:22 AM EDT

    MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednes­day retract­ed his report­ing that claimed Russ­ian oli­garchs had co-signed for Deutsche Bank loans to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and he apol­o­gized for not adher­ing to pro­fes­sion­al stan­dards.

    “Last night on this show I dis­cussed infor­ma­tion that was­n’t ready for report­ing,“ O‘Donnell said at the top of his show Wednes­day night. “I did not go through the rig­or­ous ver­i­fi­ca­tion and stan­dards process here at MSNBC before repeat­ing what I heard from my source. Had it gone through that process I would not have been per­mit­ted to report it. I should not have said it on air or post­ed it on Twit­ter. I was wrong to do so.“

    “Tonight we are retract­ing the sto­ry,” he added. “We don‘t know whether the infor­ma­tion is inac­cu­rate. But the fact is, we do know it wasn‘t ready for broad­cast, and for that I apol­o­gize.“

    O’Donnell said at the out­set of his week­night news broad­cast on Tues­day that a sin­gle anony­mous source close to Deutsche Bank told him the Ger­man lender had obtained Trump’s tax returns, which “show that the pres­i­dent pays very lit­tle income tax.”

    He said the source also told him that Trump‘s “loan doc­u­ments there show that he has co-sign­ers. That’s how he was able to obtain those loans. And that the co-sign­ers are Russ­ian oli­garchs.”

    O’Donnell con­clud­ed: “That would explain, it seems to me, every kind word Don­ald Trump has ever said about Rus­sia and Vladimir Putin, if true — and I stress the ‘if true’ part of this.”

    Trump on Thurs­day morn­ing went on the attack against O’Don­nell and used the inci­dent to con­demn the broad­er media.

    “Crazy Lawrence O’Donnell, who has been call­ing me wrong from even before I announced my run for the Pres­i­den­cy, even being pre­vi­ous­ly forced by NBC to apol­o­gize, which he did while cry­ing, for things he said about me & The Appren­tice, was again forced to apol­o­gize, this time for the most ridicu­lous claim of all, that Rus­sia, Rus­sia, Rus­sia, or Russ­ian oli­garchs, co-signed loan doc­u­ments for me, a guar­an­tee,” Trump wrote. “Total­ly false, as is vir­tu­al­ly every­thing else he, and much of the rest of the LameStream Media, has said about me for years. ALL APOLOGIZE!”

    Before O’Donnell issued his retrac­tion and apol­o­gy on Wednes­day, a lawyer for Trump demand­ed that NBCU­ni­ver­sal and O’Donnell retract the report.

    “These state­ments are false and defam­a­to­ry, and extreme­ly dam­ag­ing,” attor­ney Charles Hard­er wrote in a let­ter dat­ed Wednes­day on behalf of the pres­i­dent and the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion to Susan Wein­er and Daniel Kum­mer, in-house attor­neys at NBCU­ni­ver­sal.

    “The only bor­row­ers under these loans are Trump enti­ties, and Mr. Trump is the only guar­an­tor,” Hard­er wrote in the let­ter, obtained by POLITICO. “Numer­ous doc­u­ments for each of these loans are also record­ed, pub­licly avail­able and search­able online.”

    In his let­ter, Hard­er request­ed that O’Donnell and NBCU­ni­ver­sal “imme­di­ate­ly and promi­nent­ly retract, cor­rect and apol­o­gize for the … false and defam­a­to­ry state­ments.”

    If they do not con­firm their inten­tion to do so with­in 24 hours, Hard­er warned, his clients will be left “with no alter­na­tive but to con­sid­er their legal options which could include imme­di­ate legal pro­ceed­ings against” O’Donnell and NBCU­ni­ver­sal.

    “Should that occur, my clients would pur­sue all avail­able caus­es of action and seek all avail­able dam­ages and oth­er legal reme­dies to the max­i­mum extent per­mit­ted by law,” Hard­er wrote.

    Before his on-air apol­o­gy, O‘Donnell had already tweet­ed ear­ly Wednes­day after­noon that he regret­ted the report.

    “Last night I made an error in judg­ment by report­ing an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rig­or­ous ver­i­fi­ca­tion and stan­dards process,” he wrote on Twit­ter. “I shouldn’t have report­ed it and I was wrong to dis­cuss it on the air. I will address the issue on my show tonight.”

    Asked to respond to Harder’s let­ter and O’Donnell’s report­ing, White House press sec­re­tary Stephanie Grisham said in a state­ment: “This is one of the rea­sons that a major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans have lost trust in the media. Instead of apply­ing ethics and stan­dards to their report­ing, jour­nal­ists and left-wing out­lets have weaponized the media, using it to attack and harass peo­ple with lit­tle to no regard for the truth.”

    ...

    ———-

    “MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell apol­o­gizes, retracts report on Trump finances” by QUINT FORGEY and MATTHEW CHOI; Politi­co; 08/28/2019

    “Tonight we are retract­ing the sto­ry,” he added. “We don‘t know whether the infor­ma­tion is inac­cu­rate. But the fact is, we do know it wasn‘t ready for broad­cast, and for that I apol­o­gize.“

    The sto­ry has­n’t been debunked yet. But if it does­n’t even­tu­al­ly get con­firmed it’s going to be hard to avoid sus­pect­ing it was anoth­er attempt to play the media and inject dis­in­for­ma­tion into the cov­er­age of Trump and the broad­er #TrumpRus­sia sto­ry. Still, even if the sto­ry gets con­clu­sive­ly debunked we still won’t know who was behind it or what the intent was.

    Although it’s worth not­ing that if this was indeed a dis­in­for­ma­tion piece orig­i­nat­ing for the anony­mous sources of those pre­vi­ous appar­ent dis­in­for­ma­tion pieces rely­ing on anony­mous sources to make explo­sive #TrumpRus­sia claims, it would be rather slop­py dis­in­for­ma­tion attempt pre­cise­ly because it was a sin­gle source. The prob­a­ble rea­son O’Don­nell said he would­n’t have been allowed to report the sto­ry even if it had gone through the vet­ting process is because it was still just based on a sin­gle source. When we look at past sto­ries of this nature that did­n’t pan out there was always a ref­er­ence to mul­ti­ple anony­mous sources, pre­sum­ably because it’s required for a sto­ry to get pub­lished. So the fact that this was just a sin­gle anony­mous source sug­gests it did­n’t orig­i­nate from the anony­mous sources who pushed those pre­vi­ous­ly ques­tion­able sto­ries. Trump, on the oth­er hand, prob­a­bly would­n’t be think­ing about that detail if he turns out to be the source.

    Also keep in mind that if this sto­ry was being pushed by Trump in order to pre­empt news he fears com­ing out, that would make David Cay John­ston’s spec­u­la­tion that non-Russ­ian oli­garchs (from Sau­di Ara­bia, the UAE, Turkey, etc) may have also been co-sign­ers for Trump’s loans a lot more like­ly to be cor­rect. If Trump real­ly was using Russ­ian oli­garch co-sign­ers it seems like he would be unlike­ly to even bring up the top­ic even it was part of a dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tion. But if he was using non-Russ­ian oli­garch co-sign­ers and feared that sto­ry would come out, push­ing a sto­ry about Russ­ian co-sign­ers makes a lot more sense.

    All in all, whether or not this sto­ry ends up being true or ends up being part of a dis­in­for­ma­tion oper­a­tion, either sce­nario seems entire­ly plau­si­ble. That’s kind of the big sto­ry here. And also the meta-sto­ry.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2019, 1:39 pm

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