Category: Debunk This

Three Facts the Russia Hoaxers Got Dead Wrong

While the overwhelming majority of us knew it all along, last month Robert Mueller’s special counsel colluded without a single indictment related to collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Some liberals are still holding out hope that Robert Barr’s summary of the Mueller report is dishonest, though I’m certain that Barr has the foresight to know that people will read the actual Mueller report when it is released and thus wouldn’t lie.

So on that note, I had to chuckle when one of the Russia collusion hoax’s chief propagators challenged people to find any errors in his reporting. Alongside Michael Isikoff (who has had information leaked to him from dossier author Christopher Steele), David Corn published a book titled “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.” After its release, Joe Biden said of Corn’s book last year “if this is true, it’s treason.” Mueller certainly couldn’t find any evidence it was true.

Corn’s challenge began with a twitter spat with Matt Schlapp, with Corn alleging that Schlapp has made more incorrect statements related to Russian collusion than he. That’s completely irrelevant considering that Corn got the conclusion wrong regardless, but his challenge is an easy one.

The Papadopoulos Myth

One of the more obvious myths that Corn pushes (that even he must know is false) is that George Papadopoulos sparked the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign after he allegedly claimed to know that the Russians possessed Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails (which, if they do possess, we’ve seen no evidence of).

As I’ve argued elsewhere, the timeline on the FBI’s investigation does not support this.

  • The most relevant detail is that the FBI didn’t even bother to interview Papadopoulos until January 2017 – after he allegedly spilled the beans over Russian collusion in May 2016. If they were so concerned that he possessed information that would have proven collusion, why wait?  Papadopoulos would eventually be charged with making false statements to the FBI during an interview on January 27, 2017—a minor charge that has led to no indictment relating to collusion.
  • The evidence for that is undeniable that Steele and the dossier he was working on sparked the investigation: Nellie Ohr worked for the company that created the dossier (Fusion GPS) and met with her husband Bruce Ohr from DOJ, and dossier author Christopher Steele on July 30, 2016  Bruce Ohr then met with the FBI on the same day, July 30, 2016 and the FBI case is opened the next day, July 31, 2016.

Don Jr. and Putin Collusion

In July 2017, Corn argued that Donald Trump Jr. was evidence of collusion with Russia, citing the now infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Nataliya Veselnitskaya.

Corn also argued that “The Trump Jr. emails [he released following the meeting being publisized] also provide partial support for some information within the Steele dossier.”

Ironically, Veselnitskaya has more in common with the dossier than with Putin, and the meeting looks like a setup.

Veselnitskaya was working with Fusion GPS at the time of her meeting with Trump Jr. In other words, Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, was working with the firm trying to “prove” Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, right as she set up a meeting with Donald Trump’s son. Veselnitskaya met with Fusion’s co-founder Glenn Simpson the day of, and the day after the Trump Tower meeting. What do you think they discussed, if not how to further solidify the optics of the collusion narrative?

Among the men who accompanied Veselnitskaya to the meeting included translator Rinat Akhmetshion, a former Russian spy who also worked for the Clinton State Department. If Trump Jr. did “bite” and say anything incriminating, he was there to make sure nothing was lost in translation. Luckily, Trump Jr. didn’t say anything incriminating, because there wasn’t any collusion, or desire to collude.

Regardless of whether or not I’m right about Veselnitskaya’s role, no “proof of collusion” arose from that meeting.

Doubling Down on the Dossier

As we learned from FBI general counsel James Baker, Corn was eager to share some parts of the dossier with the FBI.

And even as late as December 2018, Corn was still defending the contents of the dossier.

Corn’s co-author Michael Isikoff is at least intellectually honest enough to admit that the jig is up on the dossier and that it’s completely bogus. If Corn disagrees, he’s free to point out what in the dossier has been substantiated.

As I already argued, even if Corn were right on the particular facts in making his case, his conclusion of collusion was still dead wrong, which is the only relevant detail here.

I’m not sure what terms Corn was proposing for his bet with Schlapp – but I hope this means I win something!

 

This Week in AOC Falsehoods

It was yet another gaffe-packed week from freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and I don’t think any of them were April fools jokes.

The Croissant’s Case for the $15 Minimum Wage

Despite the infamous FAQ for her Green New Trainwreck indicating that a complete phase-out of air travel would eventually be necessary, AOC found herself at an airport on Monday, which led her to make a case for the $15 minimum wage based off of a croissant she saw.

Because an overpriced croissant at LaGuardia costs $7, apparently this means the entirety of our nation’s employers can afford a $15 minimum wage. There are a whole host of reasons that airport goods cost more, mainly because people are less sensitive to higher prices when they have no alternative outlet to purchase from. Airport retail space is also expensive.

Cortez replied to criticism by basically telling us that we’re taking her too seriously (trust me, I don’t). “It’s not an argument against the price of a croissant – it’s about the value of human worth,” she wrote.

It’s long been debated whether or not a dollar value could be placed on human life, but Mrs. Cortez has finally cracked that puzzle, and the answer is $15 an hour. Sounds a bit cheap, don’t you think?

On a more serious note, the minimum wage at LaGuardia will be $15 an hour in September (it is currently $13.60) and rise to $19 by 2023. That’s probably part of the reason the croissants cost so much too.

A Constitutional Comedy of Errors

Speaking to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Cortez claimed “They (Republicans) had to amend the constitution of the United States to make sure Roosevelt (FDR) did not get reelected. There were so many extraordinary things that were happening at that time that were uniting working people.” Conservatives (and anyone with a knowledge of history) immediately pointed out that was unlikely, because FDR died in 1945, and the 22nd Amendment wasn’t approved by Congress until 1947 (and wasn’t ratified until 1951).

For whatever reason, Newsweek decided to come up with a scenario in which Cortez’s claims could technically be true, because some anonymous social media accounts said so. “Some eagle-eyed social media commenters pointed out that the original architects of the 22nd Amendment were inspired by Roosevelt’s monopoly on the White House and began campaigning long before his death,” wrote columnist Callum Paton.

More to the point, Paton writes “FDR did die in office in 1945 and the 22nd amendment did come in 1947 but Congress did start the legislative process in 1944 prior to his death so that he would not be reelected.” Her source for the claim is a twitter account, truly showing the lack of depth in research Paton put into her column.

While that random guy from twitter.com she sourced is correct, the 22nd Amendment exempted whoever was President during the ratification process, so it couldn’t have possibly applied to FDR, even if it were passed while he was alive.

Name-Callers Against Name-Calling

After being called a moron by Tucker Carlson, Cortez tweeted that she’d never resort to such name-calling. “You know we’re winning when the GOP resort to vapid, personal insults,” she wrote.

It’s ironic because Carlson only called Cortez a “moron” because she was engaging in the kind of name calling she’s now denouncing. Carlson was reacting to Cortez’s ridiculous comment that  “The grounding of the tea party was xenophobia (and) the underpinnings of white supremacy.” 

Bonus Comments

Within a 24 hour period, Cortez blasted the Trump administration’s allegedly lax attitude towards security clearance, and then defended the artist formerly known as Bradley Manning, who leaked nearly 750,000 documents to Wikileaks.

In a marathon Instagram Live session, she used her age to eschew criticisms of her which she categorized as minor “one-off” mistakes. “And guess what? I’m 29! I’m the youngest woman to ever be elected to the United States Congress! I have plenty of time to learn! And I’m not afraid to make mistakes and iterate in public, either!” she said. “And frankly,” she continued, “if the mistakes that I’m making are just a one-off, like, rhetorical thing, you correct it, acknowledge it, and move on.”

She then proceeded to accuse border patrol of caging children and injecting them with drugs.

Schiff’s Biggest Collusion Lies EXPOSED

As those who’ve followed the spygate story remember, in February of last year Devin Nunes released a widely anticipated 4-page memo known as the “Nunes Memo” that alleged Christopher Steele’s (Clinton and DNC funded) dossier was instrumental in justifying surveillance of Trump campaign member Carter Page. The Memo alleged, among other things, that the FBI didn’t disclose the political origins of the dossier as their source when requesting a warrant from a FISA court.

In response, Adam Schiff released a memo of his own attempting to rebut Nunes. “The Democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the FISC,” Schiff said in a statement at the time. “Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests.”

Blessed with the power of hindsight over a year later, we can prove that Schiff’s memo was jam-packed with falsehoods he didn’t think would be exposed.

The FBI Investigation’s Origins 

Schiff’s memo repeats the myth that it was George Papadopoulos responsible for sparking the FBI’s investigation into the Trump team. He also (falsely) claims that Steele’s research didn’t even reach the FBI until seven weeks after they opened their investigation.

As Dan and I noted last week, a simple timeline renders that thesis impossible, for two main reasons:

  • Papadopoulos allegedly revealed that he had dirt on Hillary Clinton sourced from the Russians in May 2016, but the FBI didn’t even interview him until January 2017. Why wait, if the investigation was supposed to be about Russian collusion?
  • Nellie Ohr worked for the company that created the dossier (Fusion GPS) and met with her husband Bruce Ohr from DOJ, and dossier author Christopher Steele on July 30, 2016  Bruce Ohr then met with the FBI on the same day, July 30, 2016 and the FBI case is opened the next day, July 31, 2016.

So the FBI did have access to the dossier…. the day before their investigation opened.

Next.

The FISA Warrant

When it comes to the FBI’s spying on Carter Page, Schiff argues that this doesn’t constitute spying on the Trump campaign because it didn’t begin until after Page had left the Trump campaign.

Two points are worth making here:

  • If Page hadn’t left Trump’s campaign, the surveillance would’ve still occurred. And;
  • If all of Page’s calls are being monitored, and he’s keeping in contact with some members of the Trump campaign, how does this not constitute spying on the Trump campaign, albeit by proxy?

Even Politico had to admit that the FBI’s surveillance of Page “might have” picked up his conversations with Steve Bannon, and when it came to the surveillance of Paul Manafort, Fortune Magazine noted that “It is unclear whether the President [Trump] was recorded as part of the investigation.” If Manafort was being surveilled and spoke to President Trump while being surveilled, what do you think? The FBI selectively decided to ignore those calls? Of course not.

The same holds true for Page and any contacts with Trump campaign members he maintained.

Christopher Steele

Schiff makes a number of false claims specific to Christopher Steele.

The biggest lie is when Schiff claims that the DOJ/FBI never paid Steele for his research and services.

FBI documents released in August of 2018 revealed that was a lie. As NBC News reported at the time:

The FBI has released 71 pages of what it describes as correspondence between the bureau and Christopher Steele.

The records also indicate that in February 2016 the FBI “admonished” Steele. A federal law enforcement official explains that an admonishment is typically given when a person begins a stint as a confidential informant and annually thereafter. It is a briefing on the rules of being an informant to ensure the source complies with guidelines set by the Attorney General, and usually not criticism of the source.

Because of the redactions, it is not possible to tell when payments to Steele began, but it has previously been reported that he assisted the FBI with past investigations, including a probe of corruption in international soccer.

Next, Schiff defends the FBI citing a Yahoo! News article in the FISA warrant, and claims that criticisms of Bruce Ohr are misleading. Ohr worked at the DOJ while his wife Nellie Ohr worked with Fusion GPS on the dossier.

The first point is in regards to a September 2016 news article by Michael Isikoff published by Yahoo! News that is cited in the dossier. The Yahoo! article is sourced (anonymously) from Steele, and is cited in the FISA application, leading many conservatives to allege that the FBI was essentially using Steele to prove the contents of his own dossier. Schiff says the Yahoo! article was only cited to prove that Page publicly denied a particular link to Russia, not to corroborate information. Unfortunately, due to redactions, it’s impossible to prove or disprove this claim, but I will note that there is no mention of Page’s denial mentioned in the un-redacted portions (see: page 21 of the document).

It’s unclear what point Schiff thinks he’s making about Bruce Ohr. While critics accurately levy that Ohr wasn’t notifying the DOJ about his interactions with Steele, Schiff’s defense is that Ohr actually did in late November of 2016. This is irrelevant. If there were a time for Ohr to disclose his conflicts of interest, it was when it mattered – while the 2016 campaigns were still ongoing.

FLASHBACK: The Biggest Dossier Lies Pushed by the Media

The other day, Dan and I debunked the oft-cited myth that it was a member of the Trump campaign (George Papadopolous) promising dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians that sparked the FBI’s secretive counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. As we argued, the case that it was British spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier that started this mess is overwhelming.

That is damning in light of the fact that the dossier was unsubstantiated and made wild claims that should’ve been red flags to law enforcement. The media certainly wished the dossier was true, but the most egregious “salacious and unverified” claims all turned out to be fantasy.

Michael Cohen Prague Visit

The dossier alleges that Michael Cohen visited Prague to meet Kremlin insiders. Steele writes in the dossier, sourcing an alleged “Kremlin insider,” that “COHEN now was heavily engaged in a cover-up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of TRUMP’s relationship with Russia being exposed. In pursuit of this aim, COHEN had met secretly with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials in an EU country in August 2016.” A dossier entry dated the following day clarifies that Cohen’s aforementioned meetings with Russian officials were in Prague.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Greg Miller said during a book interview that sources at the FBI and CIA don’t believe that the Prague incident ever happened. Miller said that Post reporters “literally spent weeks and months trying to run down” leads from the dossier and that they “sent reporters through every hotel in Prague, through all over the place, just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty.”

Another dossier claim related to Cohen’s visit to Prague is that he discussed how to make deniable cash payments to the Russians allegedly responsible for hacking the DNC’s servers during the 2016 election, but it’s long been doubtful that the Russians were even responsible, with the evidence suggesting an internal leak. The DNC didn’t even allow the FBI access to examine their servers.

The charges Cohen faced from Mueller disprove the collusion narrative. In particular, charges stemming from Cohen’s false statements about a Russian Trump Tower project prove that the Trump campaign had no connection to the Russian government. As Real Clear Investigation’s Paul Sperry notes:

On page 7 of the statement of criminal information filed against Cohen, Mueller mentions that Cohen tried to email Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office on Jan. 14, 2016, and again on Jan. 16, 2016. But Mueller, who personally signed the document, omitted the fact that Cohen did not have any direct points of contact at the Kremlin.

A viral report from McClatchy DC last December claimed that Cohen’s cell phone was detected near Prague in 2016, but no other publication corroborated or verified the story. McClatchy’s case was paper thin regardless, only arguing that Cohen’s phone ” briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area.” If Cohen were in Prague, his cell phone would’ve been detectable for more than a “brief” moment of time. The term “Prague area” seems deliberately vague, too.

Regardless, Mueller couldn’t find any evidence to substantiate the claims either.

The Pee Tape

A June 20, 2016 memo in the dossier alleges Kremlin operatives have blackmail on Trump in the form of video footage of him with prostitutes in a Ritz Carlton hotel room in 2013. Steele claims one of his sources says the video shows some of the prostitutes performing a “golden showers” act on Trump.

The dossier’s source for this claim is “Source D,” who was identified as Sergei Millian. Millian has never corroborated the claim, and the last post on his personal twitter account is a retweet from last year denying the existence of the pee tape. As was admitted by Steele in David Corn and Michael Isikoff’s book “Russian Roulette,” even he doubted the pee tape claim, saying it was “fifty-fifty” that the story is true (but that didn’t stop him from including it in his dossier).

Trump was in Russia in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant after billionaire Aras Agalarov paid Trump to host it in Moscow that year. The timeframe for the golden showers incident to have occurred would’ve been slim because in an interview with The Washington Post, Agalarov’s publicist Rob Goldstone said he was with Trump for 31 out of the 36 hours he was in Moscow. Trump landed in Moscow at 3pm on a Friday and left at around 3am on Sunday morning.

Michael Cohen, even after turning on Trump to publicly blast him as a racist, cheater, misogynist, etc. in front of Congress, still denied the “golden showers” incident from the dossier.

Meanwhile, Tom Arnold’s VICE show “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes” has made no progress on the matter.

Carter Page and the Impossible Deal 

In a memo dated July 19th, 2016 Steele focused on Trump’s advisor Carter Page, asserting that he held secret meetings in Moscow with Russian officials during a trip he took as a campaign adviser. In those meetings, Page supposedly learned that the Russian government had damaging information on both Clinton and Trump, which a Kremlin official said Trump should “bear in mind in his dealings with them.” He was also allegedly offered a 19% stake in a Russian oil company (Rosneft) if Trump would lift Russian sanctions—if he became president. As Forbes’ Paul Roderick Gregory quips, “This story is utter nonsense, not worthy of a wacky conspiracy theory of an alien invasion. As he notes

To offer Trump either the entirety of, or a brokerage commission on, the market value of 19.5% of Rosneft shares—even a 6 percent commission on $12 billion worth of Rosneft shares would amount to an astonishing $720 million—would deplete the cash that Putin desperately needed for military spending and budget deficits, all in return for a promise to lift sanctions if—and what a big “if”—Trump were elected. Rosneft, as a public company, would have to conceal that the U.S. president was a party to this major transaction.

If Page were awarded a 19% stake in Rosneft, it would make him a wealthier man then Donald Trump (based on the company’s market value exceeding $40 billion). Additionally, since the Russian government owns 50% of Rosneft, we would have to believe they were willing to give up controlling interest in their company, which is extremely unlikely.

But more to the point, Trump has only imposed new sanctions on Russia. In one case back in April of last year, Trump imposed more new sanctions following the indictments of 13 Russians for “malicious cyber activities” earlier in March. Russia’s stock market dropped 11% on the news. Shares of the Russian aluminum giant Rusal (which is the world’s second-largest aluminum company) tanked 40% on the news.

Carter Page has since been charged with nothing.

Proof the Dossier, Not Papadopoulos, Sparked the Russia Investigation

By Dan Bongino and Matt Palumbo

For those advancing the myth that the FBI’s investigation into Trump began with the mid-2016 George Papadopoulos tip, please stop the nonsense. IT WAS THE DOSSIER.

It wasn’t even until December 2017 that the New York Times introduced the theory that Papadopoulos was responsible for sparking the investigation. The Times detailed how Papadapoulos allegedly told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that he possessed dirt on Hillary Clinton, and heard that Russia possessed her hacked emails in a May 2016 meeting (obviously he didn’t possess them). Downer, who is no friend of Trump and once helped broker a $25 million donation from the Australian government to the Clinton Foundation, has since dismissed the contents of the meeting as “banal.” 

While the framing of Papadopoulos could fill the pages of a book, the most relevant detail in this article is that the FBI didn’t even interview him until 2017. If they were so concerned that he possessed information that would have proven collusion, why wait?  Papadopoulos would eventually be charged with making false statements to the FBI during an interview on January 27, 2017—a minor charge that has led to no indictment relating to collusion.

The evidence for that is undeniable: Nellie Ohr worked for the company that created the dossier (Fusion GPS) and met with her husband Bruce Ohr from DOJ, and dossier author Christopher Steele on July 30, 2016  Bruce Ohr then met with the FBI on the same day, July 30, 2016 and the FBI case is opened the next day, July 31, 2016.

As you already gleaned from the fact that Papadopoulos wasn’t interviewed until the following year after his alleged wrongdoings, it was clearly not he central to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation. The same cannot be said about the dossier:

  • The FBI’s Dep. Director Andy McCabe has already admitted they wouldn’t have had a FISA warrant without the dossier. According to the Nunes Memo, “McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] without the Steele dossier information.”
  • The FBI’s Agent Michael Gaeta interviewed dossier author Chris Steele in London weeks before the case was opened.
  • Both Papadopoulos AND Downer dispute the media’s leaked account of their meeting, specifically the “dirt on Hillary” line

And lastly, when the FBI came to spy on the Trump campaign, they didn’t pick Papadopoulos, they picked Carter Page. Why? Because he’s a key player in the dossier.

The allegations against Page were comical to begin with; that he was offered a 19% in the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft if Trump became President and lifted sanctions on Russia. Such an offer would imply a number of unlikely occurrences: the Russian government offering Page a stake in their company that would make him wealthier than Donald Trump (Rosneft’s current market capitalization is $41 billion), the Russian government surrendering their controlling stake in Rosneft (they currently own 50% of shares), and this transaction involving a public company somehow going unnoticed.

Carter Page has since been convicted of nothing, and Trump has imposed new sanctions on Russia. 

As Mueller’s Probe Dies – The REAL Collusion Scandal Explodes

Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel is now over, and at long last, we discovered (to the dismay of MSNBC and CNN) that there was no collusion after all! One listener joked that the Counsel could’ve saved themselves $30 million if they had just listened to the Dan Bongino podcast.

It’ll be amusing to see how the true believers react to their world for the past two years collapsing in. Inevitably some faction of the collusion crazies will claim that Trump sabotaged the report, and I’ve even seen one commentator speculate that “Vladimir Putin got to Mueller.” No word then on why Putin did nothing to prevent a few dozen Russians from being indicted by Mueller (for charges unconnected to the Trump campaign).

There was no Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – but there was plenty of collusion between Ukraine and the Clinton campaign. We extensively documented those connections in our book Spygate, and just as the books’ central thesis of no collusion between Trump and Russia was just vindicated, as were our theories about Ukraninan collusion. According to an explosive new article by John Solomon:

Ukraine’s top prosecutor Yurii Lutsenko divulged in an interview that he has opened an investigation into whether his country’s law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton.

On August 19, 2016, Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign after The New York Times reported that Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Bureau found a black ledger in a bank vault abandoned by Viktor Yanukovych (the 4th President of Ukraine), showing $12 million in cash transactions related to Manafort. The ledger was exposed by Serhiy Leshchenko, a former Ukrainian parliamentarian, and former investigative journalist.

Days after publishing the ledger, Leshchenko told the Financial Times that “A Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy. For me, it was important to show not only the corruption aspect but that he is [a] pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world.” It’s clear what his motivation was – to collude in an effort to take Trump down.

Yurii Lutsenko’s probe was prompted by a Ukrainian parliamentarian’s release of a tape recording purporting to quote a top law enforcement official as saying his agency leaked the Manafort financial records to help Clinton’s campaign.

The parliamentarian also secured a court ruling that the leak amounted to “an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” Lutsenko told me. Lutsenko said the tape recording is a serious enough allegation to warrant opening a probe, and one of his concerns is that the Ukrainian law enforcement agency involved had frequent contact with the Obama administration’s U.S. Embassy in Kiev at the time.  

It’s still unclear how Manafort’s black ledger was leaked to America media. The FBI had previously investigated Manafort for his Ukranian business activities but abandoned that in 2014 due to a lack of evidence. The black ledger added a spark to those ambers.. Solomon continues, noting that:

We know the FBI set up shop in the U.S. embassy in Kiev to assist its Ukraine–Manafort inquiry — a common practice on foreign-based probes — while using British spy Christopher Steele as an informant at the start of its Russia probe. And we know Clinton’s campaign was using a law firm to pay an opposition research firm for Steele’s work in an effort to stop Trump from winning the presidency, at the same time Steele was aiding the FBI.

In an interview with Solomon, Lutsenko said that the U.S. Embassy (in Ukraine) interfered in his ability to prosecute corruption cases. He claimed that the U.S. ambassador gave him a list of names of defendants he wasn’t allowed to pursue. He showed Soloman a letter from the embassy that partially supported his story, showing a U.S. official asking him to stand down (view here).

Meanwhile, in America, the DNC’s Alexandra Chalupa became the driving force in pushing the collusion narrative as soon as Manafort joined the Trump campaign. The DNC paid her $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016 for consulting work, after which she left to research Manafort full time. Chalupa had Manafort in her crosshairs since 2014 when his boss, the aforementioned Yanukovych (who discovered the black ledger), had protesters gunned down in the streets during the Ukrainian Revolution. In an email in May 2016, Chapula spoke about meeting with Michael Isikoff (a Steele dossier source) and connecting him to Ukrainians – and the two met at the Ukrainian embassy soon after.

If there’s a case for collusion to be made, it’s not with Russia.

 

0% of Economists Agree with AOC’s Idea to Fund Green New Deal

It’s no secret that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s desired economic policies would cost more money than there is physical currency currently in circulation, and far eclipses our current national debt. Her proposed Green New Deal would cost at least $93 trillion according to a report from the American Action Forum – $36 trillion for universal healthcare, up to $44.6 trillion for guaranteed union jobs with wages high enough to support a family, $5.4 trillion to transition to a “low carbon electricity grid,” $1.3-$2.7 trillion for a net zero emissions transportation system, $1.6-4.2 trillion for guaranteed green housing, and $6.8-$44.6 trillion for a guaranteed job program.

Summary 2020-2029
Goal Est. Cost Est. Cost Per Household
Low-carbon Electricity Grid $5.4 trillion $39,000
Net Zero Emissions Transportation System (Rail) $1.3-2.7 trillion $9,000-20,000
Federal Jobs Guarantee $6.8-44.6 trillion $49,000-322,000
Universal Health Care $36 trillion $260,000
Guaranteed Green Housing $1.6-4.2 trillion $12,000-30,000
Food Security $1.5 billion $10

Her food security plan will only cost $10 per household, so there’s that, I guess.

When it comes to paying for her programs, while she’s floated the idea of taxing top income earners at 70% (which would bring in only enough money to fund the federal government for less than a week at current levels of spending), she has another idea, simply printing money. Admittedly, this was once also my idea to pay for the government back when I was in the fifth grade.

In an interview with Business Insider, Ocasio endorsed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), an economic theory that deficits don’t matter since money can also be printed to pay off that debt. Because the government can print at will, not only do deficits not matter according to MTT, the only purpose of maintaining a level of taxation relative to government spending is simply to regulate inflation and unemployment. While not noted by advocates of MMT, I imagine ignoring the existence of countries like Zimbabwe and Venezuela is required to adhere to the theory.

She [Cortez] said she was open to Modern Monetary Theory, a burgeoning theory among some economists positing that the federal debt is not an economic restraint for the US. She said the idea, which holds that the government doesn’t need to balance the budget and that budget surpluses actually hurt the economy, “absolutely” needed to be “a larger part of our conversation.

So in her world, the deficit is only something we should be worrying about when it’s shrinking, apparently.

If it sounds bonkers, that’s because it is. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business’ IGM Poll asked a panel of top economists two questions about MMT; one regarding whether it’s true that countries shouldn’t have to worry about deficits because they can always print more money, and the second on whether or not money printing enables endless government spending.

Zero percent of economists agreed.

Some economists added their own commentary along with their responses:

  • Markus Brunnermeier, Princeton University; “See numerous historical examples: Germany in 1920s, Latin America, …”
  • Darrell Duffie, Stanford University; “The present value of debt issuances is equal to the present value of debt payments. So, borrowing more now means paying more later.”
  • Aaron Edlin, U.C. Berkeley; “Less worry is not the same as no worry.”
  • Ray Flair, Yale University; “Surely inflation might be a problem.”
  • Austan Goolsbee, University of Chicago, “‘Always’ makes an ass out of you and me.”
  • Robert Hall, Stanford University; “Governments cannot create money under current monetary institutions, because the central bank keeps reserves and currency at par.”
  • Oliver Hart, Harvard University; “This kind of behavior can quickly lead to inflation or even hyperinflation once the economy is close to full capacity.”
  • Kenneth Judd, Stanford University; “A government may be able to do this once but doing this systematically will make it impossible to sell bonds in the future.”
  • Steven Kaplan, University of Chicago; “At some point it becomes untenable and the country becomes Venezuela or Zimbabwe.”
  • Eric Maskin, Harvard University; “Printing money causes its own problems, e.g., the risk of inflation.”
  • William Nordhaus, Yale University; “Obviously, they should worry.”
  • Larry Samuelson, Yale University; “Deficits can be financed by creating money, but still have disadvantages as well as advantages that should be carefully considered.”
  • Robert Shimer, University of Chicago; “The real value of the money supply is bounded above. At some point, this must create inflation.”

Aside from economists Cortez may have met at a Pink Floyd concert, there is no mainstream support for this idea of hers.

Does Trump Deserve Credit for Defeating ISIS?

At their peak, the so-called Islamic State did resemble a State, albeit a fascist one. The terror group controlled over 40,000 square kilometers in territory, which was self-sustained through taxes on locals, smuggling, looting, seized oil fields, ransoms, and extortion, backed by an army of over 40,000 foreign fighters alone (and many more local fighters). Or as Barack Obama called them, “al-Qaeda’s JV team.”

Obama severely underestimated ISIS’ strength during their rise, and thus the U.S. was late to the game in combating the terror group, which has now been territorially defeated. Trump said yesterday (Wednesday) that ISIS would be defeated by the end of the day,  which came a day after Syrian forces said ISIS last territory (less than three square kilometers) in Baghouz is under full control (with militants cornered). Only the most comitted zealots remain.

Trump posted before and after images of ISIS territory on inauguration day vs. now on his Twitter, appearing to take credit for the demolition of ISIS. It must be emphasized that this claim is only accurate when phrased as a territorial defeat of ISIS, though the destruction of the “Caliphate” aspect of the group will severely damage their credibility (to prospective Islamists).

Whether it be the economy, stock market, or the defeat of ISIS, Trump’s critics will inevitably chalk this up to a mere continuation of a trend started by Barack Obama (and many have).

While the ISIS Caliphate did decline from their peak under Obama, that decline noticeably accelerated once Trump took office. In fact, Trump did more in one year than Obama did in three. Eleven months into his presidency, 90% of ISIS territory held on inauguration day had been reclaimed.

ISIS lost control of their capital in Iraq (the city of Mosul) in July 2017, and then their Syrian capital (Raqqa) three months later.

The Decimation of ISIS Under Trump and Obama
September 2014- January 20, 2017 January 21, 2017 – December 21, 2017
Number of U.S. Killed 8 5
Number of People Liberated from ISIS 2.4 million 5.3 million
Estimated Number of ISIS Fighters 35,000 1,000
Square Miles Held by ISIS 17,500 1,930
Square Miles Liberated from ISIS 13,200 15,570

So what did Trump do differently? As the Heritage Foundation’s Robin Simcox explained:

Days after being inaugurated, President Trump signed an Executive Order requesting a Pentagon-led review be provided to him within thirty days on how ISIS could be defeated. Calling this a “secret plan” would be generous, but tactical tweaks did quickly began to appear.

[Former] Secretary of Defense James Mattis outlined that President Trump “delegated authority to the right level to aggressively and in a timely manner move against enemy vulnerabilities.” This meant that when those on the ground requested airstrikes, fewer layers of sign-off were required; the approval process was decentralized and, subsequently, faster.

Mattis has also said that another change was a “shift from shoving ISIS out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds so we can annihilate ISIS.” The purpose behind this, Mattis outlined, was to dry up the flow of foreign fighters leaving the region.

Undeniably, the foreign-fighter flow was stunted.

Another shift came in the role of U.S. troops in combat operations. During the fight for Mosul, hundreds of U.S. Special Forces operators were given latitude to work much closer with their Iraqi partners. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of U.S. military efforts in Syria and Iraq confirmed that “We are operating closer and deeper into Iraqi formations.”

That’s quite a divergence from the careful approach that Obama took, blocking over 75% of requested anti-ISIS airstrikes.

A study from the Media Research Center found that from Inauguration day to the end of 2018, the three major news networks spent over 10,000 minutes talking about the Trump presidency, only 33 minutes of which were related to ISIS. As the National Review’s Deroy Murdock put it; “There you have it: President Trump has helped shrink ISIS by 99 percent, while his nightly-news tormentors have spent 99.7 percent of their time looking elsewhere.” Go figure.

While the eventual defeat of ISIS was inevitable (as their strategy of provoking the entire planet into war in an attempt to bring about the apocalypse probably wasn’t the best idea), there is no question that Trump massively accelerated the demise of the so-called Caliphate, and for that he deserves credit.

AOC’s Response to New Zealand’s Tragedy Isn’t Just Stupid, It’s Dead Wrong

Following Friday’s shooting at a Christchurch mosque in New Zealand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez immediately took to Twitter to mock those sending thoughts and prayers. “At first I thought of saying, ‘Imagine being told your house of faith isn’t safe anymore.’ But I couldn’t say ‘imagine.’ Because of Charleston [church shooting]. Pittsburgh [synagogue shooting]. Sutherland Springs [church shooting],” she began.  And then she concluded with the worst possible phrasing, asking; “What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?” Cortez knows her talking points, but apparently not what content to deploy them, as many of those shot dead in all the cases she referenced were killed while praying.

She clarified after facing some heat, “Thoughts and prayers is a reference to the NRA’s phrase used to deflect the conversation away from policy change during tragedies. Not directed to [New Zealand] PM Jacinda Ardern, who I greatly admire,” even though the NRA has no influence or real presence in New Zealand.

With comments like these, it’s no wonder that despite being a media darling (having received more press coverage than any freshmen Congressperson except Hillary Clinton), only 31% of people actually approve of AOC, compared to 39% for Trump, of whom 92% of media coverage is negative.

The following day, she responded to a tweet from Michael Skolnik that listed six terrorist attacks from white supremacists since 2014. For some content, there were ten Islamist terrorist attacks on January 1st, 2019 alone.  “All of these are terrorist incidents,” Cortez correctly observed. “We have a responsibility to understand how white supremacy + online radicalization works, because it is impacting our entire society. President Trump defunded Federal programs designed to fight the spread of white supremacist hate groups.”

I was unaware that the federal government had funded programs designed to fight the spread of white supremacist groups, and after some research learned that the amount previously allocated to it amounted to less than what the government spends in a second. In their final days, the Obama administration awarded 31 grants through the Department of Homeland Security devoted towards fighting domestic extremism, totaling $10 million to 26 recipients. Most were devoted to fighting Islamic radicalism, but one grant for $400,000 was given to a group exclusively fighting white identity extremism, Life After Hate. According to the group’s mission, they aim to “help people leave hate groups, particularly white supremacy groups.” The group was founded by Christian Picciolini, a former white supremacist.

Why the funding was pulled is disputed, and Picciolini can’t claim his group was singled out, because eleven others saw their grants stripped. According to The Hill;

Reuters reported at the time that the White House was considering retooling the program to focus more on radical Islamic extremism than on white supremacist groups. Trump also proposed entirely eliminating the program in his 2018 budget request.

The DHS emphasized in a statement that “sixteen of the 26 recipients have applicability to all forms of violent extremism and as such will address the threat of domestic terrorism.” Seven new applicants also won funding, while seven of the existing recipients got a funding boost. Those getting the funding boost generally were law enforcement agencies or proposals backed by police.

Remember; Picciolini’s group wasn’t the only one that devoted resources towards fighting white extremism, it was the only group that exclusively focussed on that, and only received 4% of the grant money in the first place. Perhaps the reason Life After Hate got defunded is due to the lack of evidence that they’ve accomplished anything. There isn’t a single testimonial on the group’s website, and the only evidence of their efficacy is having “helped more than 150 people confront violent extremism; and thousands more deal with hate in their communities,” without any actual specifics of what that means. Organizing an anti-racist march would meet that criteria – but that’s not anything that would bring a white extremist to sanity.

Picciolini believes that his group was defunded due to his opposition to Donald Trump, and specifically mentioned his tweets against the President. While we’ll never know if that’s true, if it were, the progression of his tweets is amusing in hindsight. Perhaps threatening to use all your resources to fight against the President isn’t the best idea when you’re dependent on the government.

One day the NRA was responsible for the New Zealand terrorist – and the next day it was President Trump.

Maybe tomorrow AOC willl hold the shooter responsible!

Chris Cuomo Makes a Flimsy Case that Manafort Proves Collusion

In a somewhat heated exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz last night, CNN’s Chris Cuomo cited the case of Paul Manafort sharing a poll with Ukranian/Russian political consultant Konstantin Kilimnik in making an obscure case for collusion (while Robert Mueller’s special counsel has uncovered zero evidence of it). 

The sharing was revealed in an unredacted filing against Manafort filed in January. The filing disclosed that “The Government concludes… that Mr. Manafort’s initial responses to inquiries about his meetings and interactions with Mr. Kilimnik were lies to the OSC attorneys and investigators… The same is true with regard to the Government’s allegation that Mr. Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign.” Manafort asked Kilimnik to pass the data to Ukrainians Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov. The legal filing gives no indication that President Donald Trump knew of the matter (and remember that Manafort only actually worked for Trump for about four and a half months before being fired).

We don’t know what the poll was of, but it likely contained a cross-tabulation showing how voters reacted to different election-related questions.  There are a few reasons why this is flimsy proof of collusion;

  • This is a poll we’re speaking of. If the Russians (or anyone) really wanted to measure public opinion on an issue, nothing is stopping them from commissioning a poll on their own. Russia has outlets operating in the U.S. that regularly conduct polling on the issues, such as Sputnik.
  • Even if the Russian government weren’t to carry out their own poll, there is no shortage of polling data in the world. Numerous polling organizations regularly poll on the exact same issues. It’s relatively easy to find some measure of public opinion on any issue you can think up.
  • Are we supposed to believe there’s something sinister in sharing a poll with someone?

Most importantly of all, if Cuomo wants to view this as a form of “collusion by proxy,” by his own logic there was more direct collision in favor of the Clinton campaign going on. As the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross uncovered, back in October the former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr testified to lawmakers that the Ukranian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko had been a source of theirs. Fusion GPS was the firm responsible for British spy Christopher Steele’s bogus dossier.

Nellie Ohr did not describe the Leshchenko-Fusion GPS source relationship in greater detail, so it is not clear whether the Ukrainian lawmaker was paid, how he transmitted information to Fusion or with whom at the firm he maintained contact. Nellie Ohr did not testify whether she handled information from Leshchenko or if she provided it to her husband, who served as associate deputy attorney general and director of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

As anyone who had the chance to read Spygate knows, there already was a strong case to be made for Ukranian collusion with members of the Clinton campaign, so this is just more icing on the cake. Unlike Manafort, Leshchenko has been charged for illegally interfering in the U.S. election.

On Dec. 11, 2018, a court in Kyiv ruled that Leshchenko’s release of information about Manafort “led to interference in the electoral processes of the United States in 2016 and harmed the interests of Ukraine as a state.”

That was because “Leshchenko, a member of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, is widely credited with publishing a so-called ‘black ledger’ [which is probably bogus] that purported to show that Manafort received $12.7 million in illicit cash payments through 2012 from then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.” Days after publishing the ledger, Leshchenko told the Financial Times that “A Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy. For me, it was important to show not only the corruption aspect but that he is [a] pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world.” It’s clear what his motivation was – to collude in an effort to take Trump down.

Unlike the Mueller indictments of Russians who tried to interfere in the election, but had no connection to Trump whatsoever, Fusion GPS was on the Clinton payroll. For a network that reports on so much imaginary collusion, it’s a bit strange CNN hasn’t reported on the real thing.