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4 minutes ago, Ramsay Hunt Experience said:

This idea that corporate boards are hired based on relevant knowledge in the industry is hysterical to me. George Schultz and Jim Mattis were on the board of Theranos.  Which was convenient to Libby Holmes, to be sure, but not a violation of any law or norm of corporate governance. 

And Henry Kissinger. And plenty of others without any experience in any field related to blood-testing.

Controversial health startup Theranos has barely any medical experts on its board of directors

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I like this  Imagine being Bill Gates right now. You spend 30 years of your life and $50 billion of your own dollars supporting humanitarian causes. You directly save hundreds of thousands o

I wrote an article on this at one point.   We're hardwired to be uncomfortable, especially under stress, where there is a lack of information.   In that situation, our brains will accept any factual i

We need to investigate it!  It's shady and we need to get more information! I don't have time to read the results of an investigation into it!

1 hour ago, Sneegor said:

Agreed, but what qualifications did Hunter have to get on the board?

“I don’t have time to read a 37 page document.” 
 

But an hour plus later of continuous posting arguing about the same points you’re too busy to read about you’re still here. Maybe instead of arguing for 2 hours you could listen to what they have to say, Mr. Busy.

Edited by Snorkelson
He probably doesn’t have time to read this
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2 hours ago, Sneegor said:

OK, where is your link?  All I see is accusations and posts about me.  I am simply pointing out the errors in your opinions with opinions of my own.

I have posted about the topic and your posts...but not you.  And I have posted multiple links.  You claim to have read them...so spare me the false accusations and bring something to the conversation please

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1 hour ago, Sneegor said:

The credentials of the others are just far greater than Hunter Biden.  Add in the amount of money paid to him and Biden's taped bribery and it needs to be investigated.

There was no taped bribery.  Please stop spreading unsubstantiated and false claims.

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https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-offered-assange-pardon-if-he-covered-up-russian-hack-court-hears

A lawyer for Julian Assange has claimed in court that President Trump offered to pardon Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to help cover up Russia’s involvement in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee. 

Assange’s lawyers said on Wednesday that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal in 2017, a year after emails that damaged Hillary Clinton in the presidential race had been published. WikiLeaks posted the stolen DNC emails after they were hacked by Russian operatives.

The claim that Rohrabacher acted as an emissary for the White House came during a pre-extradition hearing in London.

Assange has argued that he should not be extradited to the U.S. because the American case against him is politically motivated. He spent almost seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in Central London claiming that he would be jailed in the U.S. if he wasn’t granted asylum. He was kicked out of the embassy last year.

His lawyers told the court that Trump’s alleged offer to pardon Assange proved that this was no ordinary criminal investigation.

Edward Fitzgerald, who was representing Assange in court, said he had evidence that a quid pro quo was put to Assange by Rohrabacher, who was known as Putin’s favorite congressman.

Fitzgerald said a statement produced by Assange’s personal lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, included a description of “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”

...District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is presiding over the pre-trial hearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said the allegation would be admissible during Assange’s extradition hearing, which is due to begin next week.

...

Two months after Rohrabaher’s trip to visit Assange, the Wall Street Journal reported that he was trying to arrange a deal for Trump to pardon Assange. 

The White House confirmed at the time that Rohrabacher had spoken to Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly about the plan to free Assange, but it was not clear if Trump had personally spoken to Rohrabacher either before or after his mission to London. 

In 2018, Rohrabacher told The Intercept that he had been blocked from discussing the plan with the president because Kelly and other White House staffers were scared it would look like collusion. 

“What is preventing me from talking to Trump about this is the existence of a special prosecutor,” Rohrabacher told The Intercept. “Not only Kelly, but others are worried if I say one word to Trump about Russia, that it would appear to out-of-control prosecutors that that is where the collusion is.”

Rohrabacher, who lost his California re-election fight in 2018, has been accused of helping push Kremlin lines in the U.S. in the past. A few months before he went to London to meet Assange, his staff director was ousted after a report by The Daily Beast exposed close links between Russia and Rohrabacher.

The Congressman had worked with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met Trump’s campaign team at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, part of a lobbying operation designed to promote Kremlin aims in Washington.

Edited by Punxsutawney Phil
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The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine
 

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Joseph diGenova and Toensing are attorneys who have long represented Solomon. In an article that ran in October 2019, diGenova stated that Solomon has been a client of his firm "for a very long time." Aside from Solomon, diGenova and Toensing had other clients with interest in Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, diGenova and Toensing were paid $1 million by a Ukrainian oligarch, Dmitry Firtash, to find negative information on the Bidens. Firtash is fighting extradition to the U.S. on conspiracy charges, and the effort was designed to help win Giuliani's help in the case, Bloomberg reported. They have also met with Lutsenko, according to The New York Times.

In his Sept. 26 column, Solomon links to a Sept. 4, 2019, affidavit by Shokin that was made at the request of lawyers representing Firtash. According to media reports, diGenova and Toensing represented Firtash at that time.

Solomon also wrote about "Firtash's U.S. legal team" in a July 22, 2019, column and links back to that column in an Aug. 7, 2019, column. According to a July 2019 press account, Firtash cut ties with his prior counsel on July 20 and decided to be represented by diGenova and Toensing.

Solomon did not disclose that diGenova and Toensing represented him at the time of this column.

In addition, Solomon wrote several news articles for The Hill in 2017 that quoted Toensing but did not disclose that she was his attorney. Toensing and diGenova also appeared on Hill.TV at the time that Solomon was both their client and running the show.

In November 2019, Solomon said that diGenova and Toensing were his longtime lawyers during an appearance on Fox News. Pressed on why he did not disclose in his writings that Toensing was his attorney, Solomon initially denied he had quoted her while she served as his attorney and then said he would look into it and that if he did write about her, he should disclose the relationship. As part of this review, The Hill is adding disclosures — to Solomon’s news stories, opinion columns, and relevant Hill.TV appearances — that should have been made at the time of publication.

In the fall of 2019, it was reported that before one of his columns was published in The Hill, Solomon emailed a draft of it to Parnas, diGenova and Toensing without the knowledge of editors at The Hill. Solomon has defended the email, saying he has long done this as a normal practice to ensure accuracy and for legal reasons. Parnas, diGenova and Toensing are not mentioned in the column. It is worth reiterating that The Hill has legal counsel who reviews certain articles and opinion columns before they are published.

In a recent podcast, Solomon said he was fortunate that his attorneys had key contacts in Ukraine: "I was lucky. It turns out Joe [diGenova] and Victoria [Toensing] have a lot of relationships in Ukraine."

The true nature and extent of Parnas's role in Solomon's work remain unclear but potentially troubling. While Solomon has insisted that Parnas was simply facilitating contacts or arranging interviews in his native Ukraine, the number of alleged contacts or apparent references to Solomon in emails, text messages and other materials released by Parnas to congressional investigators raises questions about his involvement.

In October 2019, Parnas and an associate were arrested on an indictment charging federal campaign finance violations. Parnas and the associate allegedly donated money to the 2018 campaign of then-U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), whose letter accusing Yovanovitch of being disloyal to Trump was cited in a Solomon column. Following his arrest, Parnas told various media that he met repeatedly with figures involved in the Ukraine investigation, including Solomon. The Hill has reached out to Parnas's legal counsel but has not received a response.

 

 

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In his Sept. 26 column, Solomon links to a Sept. 4, 2019, affidavit by Shokin that was made at the request of lawyers representing Firtash. According to media reports, diGenova and Toensing represented Firtash at that time.

Is this the affidavit that Trump supporters have been propping up as proof that Shokin was investigating Biden?

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Might as well post this as I am sure it will be making the rounds. A court has ordered the Ukraine GP to open a case against the Bidens using a loophole that basically allows people who file police complaints to force the failure of an investigation to be investigated.

From Kiev:

Ukraine opens probes into Biden after ex-prosecutor Shokin’s court appeals
 

Quote

U.S. President Donald Trump failed to make Ukraine investigate his Democratic rival, former U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden.

Now, a former Ukrainian prosecutor general, whose allegations underpinned Trump’s efforts, has succeeded: He managed to get two criminal probes opened against Biden. He did it through multiple appeals to a Ukrainian court.

However, his victory is largely a legal technicality and is unlikely to lead to any serious investigation.

Former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired in 2016 after months of pressure from civil society actors and international partners for his sabotage of important cases and for blocking law enforcement reform. Shokin, however, claimed it was Biden — at the time, the White House’s point person on Ukraine — who forced the firing in order to protect a Ukrainian energy company where his son worked from a corruption probe.

Read more about Shokin and why he was so unpopular

That claim played a central role in Trump’s covert campaign to smear Biden and the Democratic Party ahead of the 2020 presidential election, which led to Trump’s impeachment. The U.S. president was ultimately acquitted of the charges against him by the U.S. Senate.

While the story of Trump’s pressure on Ukraine is no longer front-page news in the U.S., Shokin is still pushing his narrative — albeit to limited public interest.

Ukraine’s State Investigation Bureau has registered two pre-trial criminal investigations concerning Biden. The agency was following court orders based upon Shokin’s petitions.

By Ukrainian law, investigators have to enter a record of a reported crime into a unified register before actually starting a probe. If for some reason they don’t do that, a person can appeal in court.

Olena Scherban, a lawyer with the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kyiv, said that, in such cases, procedural code requires courts to order law enforcement agencies to investigate. The court cannot refuse.

However, dishonest claimants have abused this provision to draw the attention of the media, she said.

In the first of his two cases, Shokin claimed that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) violated his privacy in 2016 by collecting confidential data about him and ongoing investigations and passing it on to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. That included information about an investigation into the owner of Burisma, the company where Biden’s son worked.

While the Prosecutor General’s Office indeed had several investigations into Burisma and its owner, none of them focused on Biden’s son and they never went anywhere.

Read more about investigations into Burisma and its owners and what happened to them

This information about NABU and the embassy, Shokin wrote in his filing from Oct. 16, 2019, came from lawmaker Andriy Derkach.

Like Shokin, Derkach passed unsubstantiated claims about Biden and Ukraine’s alleged collusion with Democrats to Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani. He was one of the leaders of Trump’s campaign to discredit Biden.

Read more about Derkach, his meeting with Giuliani, and his allegations

The State Investigation Bureau initially declined Shokin’s claim, saying there were insufficient indications that NABU had committed a crime. Later, it refused to declare Shokin a victim, saying nothing indicated that NABU’s actions harmed him.

Shokin challenged both decisions in court.

Most recently, a court ordered the bureau to register a pre-trial investigation into Biden’s alleged interference in Ukrainian law enforcement. The record appeared on Feb. 24.

This interference, Shokin wrote in another filing dated Jan. 28, prevented him from investigating Burisma and its owner.

If that wasn’t enough, the former prosecutor general claims that Biden could be linked to his alleged poisoning with mercury last year. In an interview with Giuliani, broadcast on the conservative One America News network, Shokin claimed he died twice from the poisoning and was resuscitated.

Fearing retribution, Shokin has asked for state protection.

“Shokin is happy that, at last, records were listed in the register. We hope the probes will start,” Shokin’s attorney, Oleksandr Teleshetskyi, told journalists on Feb. 27.

“Shokin is a lawyer. He isn’t a politician. His actions are not of a political character. He doesn’t aim to interfere in the U.S. election campaign,” he said.

Scherban from the Anti-Corruption Action Center disagrees.

In her opinion, the fact that Shokin decided to challenge his dismissal years later makes it look like a political move. As prosecutor general, she said, Shokin had the knowledge and means to document evidence of any wrongdoing against him, and he could have addressed it earlier.

 

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Instead of working on protecting the nation from Coronavirus, the Senate Homeland Security Committee is instead investigating Hunter Biden and the Republicans on the committee are refusing to listen to a classified briefing on their upcoming witness, Andrii Telizhenko.

On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security Committee will vote to subpoena someone Republicans view as a crucial witness against Hunter Biden: Andrii Telizhenko, a political consultant who represented Burisma in the United States.

Burisma is the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden sat. Trumpworld has spun a tale about alleged Joe Biden corruption that centers on his effort to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor, supposedly to protect Burisma and Hunter. That tale is entirely fabricated, and Joe Biden’s Ukraine efforts were entirely legitimate and even supported by Republicans at the time.

But Republicans still believe they can make charges of corruption stick to Hunter Biden, which (they hope) will cast a pall over Joe Biden.

This is where the subpoena of Telizhenko comes in. Democrats oppose this because they view him as a highly unreliable witness.

1.             What Democrats are demanding

Telizhenko has long played an active role in spreading the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine colluded with Democrats in 2016. Our intelligence services have told senators that this is central to Russian disinformation efforts.

So Homeland Security Committee Democrats want all senators on the committee to get a classified briefing from the intelligence community on Telizhenko — to demonstrate that intelligence officials don’t view him as credible.

“This is a fictional narrative perpetrated by Russian security services, and you’ve got Telizhenko basically out there saying the same thing,” Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the committee, told me. “What do intelligence services know about Telizhenko? We’d like to have a briefing on that.”

Peters pointed to an ugly irony in this situation. Telizhenko is spreading disinformation designed to cover up the Russian attack on our democracy. But the Homeland Security Committee, which is tasked with oversight designed to help protect the country, may allow itself to become a platform for him.

An intelligence briefing on Telizhenko might “taint the credibility of whatever he has to say,” Peters told me, noting that he doesn’t want the committee to become a platform for any “false narrative” Telizhenko could be peddling.

Why aren’t GOP senators concerned about this?

2.             What Republicans are trying to show

The committee chair, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), has defended subpoenaing Telizhenko, claiming the investigation he’s currently pursuing isn’t about validating the Ukraine-hacked-our-election falsehood. Instead, he wants records from Telizhenko that are relevant to his work as a consultant for Blue Star Strategies, Burisma’s representative in the U.S.

But when you look closely, this sure starts to look like a fishing expedition.

The current GOP focus is on creating the impression that Hunter Biden improperly used his connections to his father — then the vice president — to influence State Department policy to the benefit of Burisma.

Sen. Johnson noted in a letter to the State Department that the committee has obtained department emails that purportedly show another Blue Star employee dangling Hunter Biden’s name while seeking a meeting at State to influence Obama administration policy toward Burisma. Johnson has demanded additional State documents to examine this question.

But as Johnson’s own letter concedes, it’s not yet clear anything even came of this effort. Nor is it clear that Hunter had any role in that lobbying. Nor has any evidence yet emerged that State Department policy changed in any way as a result of these efforts.

So for the time being, all we have is that Burisma’s U.S. representative tried to lobby on Burisma’s behalf, and noted that Burisma had a very politically connected person on its board. That may well constitute typical Washington influence-seeking — the sort of thing that should be the target of reforms undertaken by the next Democratic president — but there’s no scandal here.

These efforts to probe Hunter Biden appear all about finding something to spin into one.

3.             Hunter could still be a problem

To be clear, we may well learn that Hunter Biden did unsavory things to help Burisma in Washington. Obama administration officials did worry that Biden’s role with Burisma created the appearance of milking proximity to his father. ...

But if more emerges about Hunter Biden, even that doesn’t necessarily make a serious scandal. The key questions will become whether Obama administration policy actually did change in response to any such efforts, and whether Joe Biden himself had any involvement with whatever Hunter Biden did (which hasn’t even been established yet).

What remains inexplicable is why Republicans don’t want a classified intelligence briefing on the very person they see as a key witness, given his known role in spreading disinformation.

“This should not be a hyper-partisan issue,” Peters told me. He added that Johnson “seems to want to act very quickly. You’d have to ask him why.”

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Is Zero Hedge a Russian Trojan Horse?

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The father of the founder of the conspiratorial site filed a criminal complaint against me in Bulgaria. Then things got weird.

About a week before Christmas, I received a most unwelcome email. A criminal complaint had been filed against me in Bulgaria, a country I have never visited and with which I had no personal connection. I stood accused of defamation; attempted censorship; illegally spreading personal, family, and business information; and insulting the memory of someone’s parents and grandparents.

The email was from a veteran Bulgarian journalist named Krassimir Ivandjiiski, who took issue with an article I had written about Zero Hedge, the hugely popular website founded by his 41-year-old son, Daniel. My article, which appeared on my personal blog, was an outgrowth of a New Republic story I wrote about the business of conspiracies, in which Zero Hedge plays a major role. Millions of readers visit Zero Hedge each month, drawn by the site’s deeply pessimistic view of Wall Street and its alarmist, conspiratorial take on international affairs. In the world according to Zero Hedge, the financial markets are always on the verge of collapse and the United States is always a power in decline.

Zero Hedge is often blamed for spreading false information. In February, Twitter permanently banned Zero Hedge’s account, which boasted more than 670,000 followers, for violating Twitter’s policy prohibiting fake accounts and spam—part of a crackdown that intensified in response to Russia’s use of social media to influence voters during the 2016 presidential election. Within hours of the ban, Zero Hedge posted a counternarrative on its site, asserting—falsely, according to Twitter—that it had been suspended over its conspiratorial, evidence-free claims that the coronavirus was a Chinese biological weapon that escaped from a lab in Wuhan, “accidentally or not.” Zero Hedge’s Twitter ban was big news, and the knee-jerk response by journalists to cover both sides further spread the bogus coronavirus conspiracy, which has continued to gain ground since Republican Senator Tom Cotton repeated it on Fox News. 

At first, I thought the criminal complaint was a joke. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would go to such lengths over a personal blog post that, at the time I received the complaint, had been read by little more than 100 people. The rambling email seemed paranoid, and it was rife with misspellings, including one for the word “comlpaint.” Ivandjiiski and his Bulgarian attorney refused to provide me a copy of the original, Bulgarian-language version of the complaint, leaving it unclear what laws I might have violated or even what country’s laws I might have stood charged with violating. Further checking, however, showed that a complaint had been lodged with the office of the Bulgarian prosecutor general.

...

The Bulgarian connection intrigued me because Zero Hedge runs political news and commentary that “frequently echo the Kremlin line,” as a 2018 RAND Institute study put it. Among Zero Hedge’s most Russia-friendly fare were stories depicting the Mueller investigation as a hoax, pieces claiming that the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was staged by British intelligence, and posts asserting that the Steele dossier was a work of “fanfiction” by internet trolls on 4chan. Andrew Weisburd, a private intelligence analyst who has done work for the U.S. intelligence community, has found that Zero Hedge is at the center of a web of conspiracy sites with spokes extending out into the darkest fringes of the internet. 

Zero Hedge takes a particular interest in the controversy surrounding Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a passenger jet that was shot down in Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board. A Dutch-led criminal investigation last year charged four people, three of whom had ties to Russian intelligence, with shooting down the plane. A few days after the criminal charges were filed, Zero Hedge published a story claiming, without evidence, that the U.S. was using the MH17 crash as a pretext for a NATO invasion of eastern Ukraine. An analysis by the Digital Forensic Research Lab, a project of the Atlantic Council, found that even though Zero Hedge is written in English, this disinformation narrative was picked up by Russian-language media, demonstrating “the synergy between conspiracy outlets in English and pro-Kremlin fringe media in Russian.”

A former Zero Hedge employee named Colin Lokey, who says he earned more than $100,000 in a year writing much of the site’s political content, claimed that he felt pressure to frame issues in a misleading way. “I tried to inject as much truth as I could into my posts, but there’s no room for it,” Lokey told Bloomberg in 2016. “Russia=good. Obama=idiot. Bashar al-Assad=benevolent leader. John Kerry=dunce. Vladimir Putin=greatest leader in the history of statecraft.” In its published reply, Zero Hedge blasted Lokey as “deranged” and said critics had falsely called the website a Russian disinformation outlet “simply because we refused to follow the pro-U.S. script.”

All this only made the criminal complaint against me more puzzling. Why file a criminal complaint, instead of a lawsuit, in Bulgaria? Why call attention to the site’s ties to Bulgaria, and possibly to Russia? And all for a post hardly anyone had read?

It was clear I had touched a nerve. But how? What had I stumbled into? 

The story of the criminal charges against me carried deeper meaning in Bulgaria, which is still coming to grips with its Communist past. Bulgaria today is a member of both NATO and the European Union, but it has close historic and cultural ties with Russia, which continues to cast a shadow over what had been one of its most loyal vassal states during the Cold War. In 2006, as Bulgaria prepared to formally join the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s long-serving ambassador to the EU, said, “Bulgaria is in a good position to become our special partner, a sort of a Trojan horse in the EU.” Last year, authorities in Bulgaria charged a socialist lawmaker in an espionage investigation examining how Russia was using nongovernment organizations to influence the country’s policy to the West. As a result of the investigation, Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian billionaire and ultranationalist dubbed “Putin’s Soros,” was banned from the country.

“Bulgaria is working not as a country, not a state, but as a Russian base,” Ivo Indzhev, a well-regarded Bulgarian political blogger, told me. “They have plenty of people who are willing to work as proxies for the Russian state.” American ignorance of the country made it a perfect staging ground for Russia’s information war against the U.S. “Bulgaria is a nobody,” he said, “unknown to the general American public.” ...

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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  • 3 weeks later...

Sooo... it turns out the Wash Free Beacon reports that it has tracked down the chloroquine fish tank cleaner people and have determined that they are in fact Dem donors, not Trump folks at all.
 

Quote

 

The Arizona woman who said that she and her 68-year-old husband ingested a substance used to clean fish tanks after hearing President Donald Trump tout chloroquine as a cure for the coronavirus has given thousands of dollars to Democratic groups and candidates over the last two years.

The woman's most recent donations, in late February, were to a Democratic PAC, the 314 Action Fund, that bills itself as the "pro-science resistance" and has vocally criticized the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic and held up her case to slam the White House.

Although local and national media outlets withheld the couple's names, the Washington Free Beacon established their identities through descriptions in local news reports, where the pair were identified by their first names and ages: Gary, 68, and Wanda, 61. The Free Beacon is withholding their identities at Wanda's request.

Federal Election Commission records show that Wanda has donated thousands of dollars to Democratic electoral groups and candidates over the past two years, including Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and EMILY's List, a group that aims to elect pro-choice female candidates.

Wanda told the Free Beacon that she and her husband were both Democrats, not Trump supporters. They heard about the potential benefits of chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, in news reports. She decided at the "spur of the moment" to try taking it, but reached for a fish tank cleaner in her pantry that contains chloroquine phosphate, a different and deadly form of the chemical. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for the use of chloroquine to treat coronavirus on Sunday.

"We weren't big supporters of [Trump], but we did see that they were using it in China and stuff," Wanda told the Free Beacon. "And we just made a horrible, tragic mistake," she said. "It was stupid, and it was horrible, and we should have never done it. But it's done and now I've lost my husband. And my whole life was my husband."

"We didn't think it would kill us," she added. "We thought if anything it would help us ‘cus that's what we've been hearing on the news."

...Wanda does not appear to have a long history of political donations, according to FEC reports. Her contributions to Democrats rose sharply over the past few years. Her first recorded political donation was $150 to Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to FEC records. The next year she gave $550 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Since 2018, she has contributed approximately $6,000 to Democratic electoral groups. ...

 

- This is still kind of a head scratcher because she obviously got the idea this stuff was a "cure" somehow.

- eta - Update - I guess the conspiracy being floated is that this was a knowledgeable woman, not a Trump follower, and so perhaps she offed her husband. It'd definitely odd.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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5 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Sooo... it turns out the Wash Free Beacon reports that it has tracked down the chloroquine fish tank cleaner people and have determined that they are in fact Dem donors, not Trump folks at all.
 

- This is still kind of a head scratcher because she obviously got the idea this stuff was a "cure" somehow.

Information on this is all over the news in several countries.  It’s not really a head scratcher at all.

Why are you even trying to sort out the motivations of people stupid enough to eat fish tank cleaner?

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49 minutes ago, jonessed said:

Information on this is all over the news in several countries.  It’s not really a head scratcher at all.

Why are you even trying to sort out the motivations of people stupid enough to eat fish tank cleaner?

Parasophoulas posted about it, I hadn't heard of it. I quite agree.

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Nothing recent up in here about Gates being behind this Covid-19 business...?  He and his cohorts staging a pandemic exercise (Event 201)  in October and all...

:popcorn: 

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2 hours ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Sooo... it turns out the Wash Free Beacon reports that it has tracked down the chloroquine fish tank cleaner people and have determined that they are in fact Dem donors, not Trump folks at all.
 

- This is still kind of a head scratcher because she obviously got the idea this stuff was a "cure" somehow.

- eta - Update - I guess the conspiracy being floated is that this was a knowledgeable woman, not a Trump follower, and so perhaps she offed her husband. It'd definitely odd.

That poor guy never knew what hit him! 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/31/2020 at 1:22 PM, glock said:

Nothing recent up in here about Gates being behind this Covid-19 business...?  He and his cohorts staging a pandemic exercise (Event 201)  in October and all...

:popcorn: 

He has invested in 5G. I’m just saying.

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On 3/31/2020 at 1:22 PM, glock said:

Nothing recent up in here about Gates being behind this Covid-19 business...?  He and his cohorts staging a pandemic exercise (Event 201)  in October and all...

:popcorn: 

>>Fellow actor Woody Harrelson, as well as singer M.I.A., are just some of the celebrities who have pushed the theories, which claim that the networks started in Wuhan, China, at the same time as the deadly pandemic. Some suggest radiation from the powerful new technology weakens the immune system, making people more susceptible to the bug — while others believe it is the cause of the coronavirus.

The conspiracy has been blamed for a series of arson attacks on phone towers in the UK, with the nation’s UK cabinet minister, Michael Gove, damning it as “dangerous nonsense.”<<

Or, Cusack is the new Randy Quaid.

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On 2/18/2020 at 8:51 AM, SaintsInDome2006 said:

The descent of the GOP into authoritarian know-nothingism

***
 

When Ivy League-educated, formerly sane politicians spew conspiracy theories, debunked talking points and contempt for science, the question often arises: Do they believe this nonsense (i.e. have they become thickheaded by listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching all that Fox News?), or are they cynical purveyors of claptrap designed to woo unsophisticated voters? (Disclosure: I am an MSNBC contributor.)

That query came to mind when Harvard Law school graduate Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) descended into sheer quackery and decided to perpetrate conspiracies about the origin of the coronavirus. The Postreports:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) repeated a fringe theory suggesting that the ongoing spread of a coronavirus is connected to research in the disease-ravaged epicenter of Wuhan, China.

Cotton referenced a laboratory in the city, the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, in an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” He said the lab was near a market some scientists initially thought was a starting point for the virus’s spread.

This is unadulterated nonsense, one step removed from anti-vaxxer rubbish and UFO-spotting. (“In response to Cotton’s remarks, as well as in previous interviews with The Washington Post, numerous experts dismissed the possibility the coronavirus may be man-made.”)

It is not as if anti-intellectualism suddenly appeared with the election of President Trump. The habitual rejection of expertiseon everything from climate change to the economic impact of immigration has been rampant in the Republican Party for some time. It is part and parcel of the invented victimization of mostly white, non-college-educated men who attribute their loss of prestige and status to “elites,” especially those in colleges and the media. Even right-wingers who should know better have felt compelled to pander to audiences that wear ignorance and anti-intellectualism as a badge of honor.

With Trump, the resort to lies, conspiracies and propaganda has become a matter of political survival for the ambitious right-wingers. Trump’s authoritarian contempt for truth sets the tone, forcing military hawks such as Cotton to remain mum when Trump dismisses traumatic brain injuries as “headaches” and former Cold Warriors such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to parrot Russian propaganda on Ukraine.

Their know-nothingism is sustained and hardened inside the right-wing media loop. Trump and his sycophants can repeat whatever falsehoods required to support Trump without fear of contradiction, let alone mockery, in the right-wing media world. It is only when Republicans venture out into legitimate media that refuses to play along with conspiracy theories that they run into trouble.

Trump has merged the know-nothingism of right-wing populism with a far more dangerous intellectual evolution from defense of limited-government conservatism, which was formerly at the heart of modern conservatism, to outright worship of authoritarianism. Now, far too many conservatives have reverence for executive power and reject constitutional government.

Attorney General William P. Barr and his cheerleaders from the Federalist Society embody this frightening development. Donald Ayer, former U.S. deputy attorney general under George H.W. Bush, writes that Barr advocates “the need for a virtually autocratic executive who is not constrained by countervailing powers within our government under the constitutional system of checks and balances.” For Barr, limited government means limited checks on the president, the antithesis of the framers’ vision. Ayer writes:

For whatever twisted reasons, he believes that the president should be above the law, and he has as his foil in pursuit of that goal a president who, uniquely in our history, actually aspires to that status. And Barr has acted repeatedly on those beliefs in ways that are more damaging at every turn. Presently he is moving forward with active misuse of the criminal sanction, as one more tool of the president’s personal interests.

Bill Barr’s America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen.

In some sense, know-nothingism and authoritarianism are mutually reinforcing. A dictator commandeers reality, forcing other to accept lies as truth or to eradicate the very notion of truth. Know-nothingism and contempt for “elites” mow down alternate sources of information and discredit critics as perpetrating “fake news” or “hoaxes," thereby empowering the executive as the sole guardian of reality.

In all of this, the Tom Cottons and Ted Cruzes who used to fancy themselves as intellectuals and originalist scholars have chosen to simply go with the flow. Too ambitious to endanger a future in a party they imagine will be permanently deformed by Trump, and too cowardly to defy the willful ignorance of their peers, voters and political universe (including right-wing think tanks, publications and advocacy groups), they now pride themselves on their willingness to adopt non-factual conspiracy theories — no matter what the public safety or constitutional implications might be.

The adage that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” is not accurate. It requires enablers, rationalizers and pseudo-intellects to eradicate resistance to authoritarians and authoritarians’ war on truth.
***

So Cotton was right?

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Just now, Coach Morris Buttermaker said:

So Cotton was right?

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Cotton referenced a laboratory in the city, the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, in an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” He said the lab was near a market some scientists initially thought was a starting point for the virus’s spread.

There are two State Department cables that were leaked, obviously by the White House, followed quickly by appearances by the SOS himself on Fox to further pound on it. We have not seen an intelligence report or a medical report or piece of medical literature supporting this claim.

IMO I'm totally in favor of releasing the intelligence and medical briefing the President has received on the virus, including this subject, but also in general, since December.

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Did AIDS emerge from a secret laboratory in New Orleans?
An early and discarded theory on the origin of AIDS was that that the virus mutated out of nowhere. Another theory centered on the creation of the virus by scientists working in a germ warfare lab. Others attributed its origin to contaminated monkey tissues used in making substandard batches of polio vaccine sent to Africa in the 1950s

In Dr. Mary’s Monkey, author Edward T. Haslam opines that AIDS originated from a botched experiment in a secret underground laboratory in New Orleans during the 1960s. A Tulane professor and Ochsner orthopedist experimenting with mutated monkey viruses was brutally murdered as part of the cover-up. A rouge CIA operative, later under the spotlight of Jim Garrison’s assassination probe, spirited the virus off to Haiti for a clandestine release that resulted in today’s AIDS pandemic.

The polio immunization theory fell by the wayside a couple of years ago. Scientists found old batches of the implicated vaccine in a laboratory freezer. It tested negative for DNA to all known monkey viruses and strains of HIV.

The origin of AIDS is now widely accepted by scientists. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) jumped from primates to humans. Many diseases jump from animals to people. West Nile, influenza and hepatitis B are common examples of viral diseases that originated in other species.

Recent work by virologists, evolutionary biologists and molecular geneticists genetically traced the HIV virus infecting humans to wild chimpanzees living in a Cameroon jungle. There may be no cure or vaccine to protect against AIDS but the mystery of its origins has been solved.

 

So, I dunno, I guess I've heard this one before.

- I wasn't going to say anything about the Wuhan lab "theory". I mean it's possible that a serious intelligence report

like this one (""Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event," one of the sources said of the NCMI’s report. "It was then briefed multiple times to" the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House. Wednesday night, the Pentagon issued a statement denying the "product/assessment" existed.")

- or this one ("The current medical countermeasure supply chain and production capacity cannot meet the demands imposed by nations during a global influenza pandemic."),

- or this one (“The United States is unprepared to deliver a sufficient number of vaccine doses quickly enough to stop the rapid initial spread of a pandemic virus,” the CEA reports. “Pandemic influenza is a low-probability but high-cost problem that should not be ignored. The current influenza vaccine manufacturing infrastructure in the U.S. is dependent on egg-based production that is too slow to produce adequate doses of vaccines for unexpected pandemic outbreaks and may impair vaccine efficacy. This could lead to tremendous, avoidable costs.”),

- or this one (“We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.”),

or a medical report, like in The Lancet (citing fn 37 "Bats as animal reservoirs for the SARS coronavirus: hypothesis proved after 10 years of virus hunting") or NEJM, comes out supporting the finding, so I guess I'm hesitant.

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The White House and its surrogates at Real Clear seem to think they have ID'd Anonymous.

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Coates has since been reassigned from the National Security Council to the Energy Department, a move that came after the allegations strained her working relationship with Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien.

- Another victim of bat####tery in the current administration.

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Video - Wapo: Did coronavirus accidentally escape from a Wuhan lab? It’s doubtful. | The Fact Checker

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In the absence of crucial information on how the novel coronavirus began many theories have gained traction — one is that the virus accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. But does any evidence support that origin story? There are a number of reasons why this theory has gained traction over the past few weeks, primarily because U.S. intelligence and lawmakers have said they want to investigate it. At least two labs in Wuhan research bat coronaviruses: the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They have become a focal point of suspicion, in part because of their proximity to the Huanan seafood market, where a cluster of the first cases of the new coronavirus appeared. Speculation has also been heightened because of the actions of Chinese officials. Before the Chinese government had even alerted the WHO to the growing epidemic, scientists were told to destroy early samples of the virus, according to the Straits Times, making it difficult to find the virus’s origins. The Fact Checker spoke to several scientists and researchers about what, if any, evidence there is that a lab accident led to the release of the virus that causes covid-19.

 

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Was the new coronavirus accidentally released from a Wuhan lab? It’s doubtful.

President Trump isn’t the only one hearing this tale. The political world, Internet theorists, intelligence analysts and global public health officials are abuzz with a big question: Is it possible that the new coronavirus — which causes covid-19 — leaked from a lab?

 

For months, Chinese authorities have pointed to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan as the virus’s likely origin. A cluster of early cases had contact with the market. It sold a wide variety of wildlife that, officials hypothesized, was critical to the virus’s formation and spread. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which cause similar symptoms, were formed after a coronavirus from a bat transformed in another animal and then jumped to humans.

The logic seems straightforward. But a more complete analysis of early cases suggests that locating the origin of the virus may not be so simple. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that of the first 425 patients, only 45 percent had connections to the market. A separate Jan. 24 analysis published in the Lancet found that three of the first four cases — including the first known case — did not have market links.

Daniel R. Lucey, a pandemics expert at Georgetown University, put it simply: “In my opinion, the virus came into the market before it came out of the market.”

That tinge of uncertainty was bolstered after Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin revealed two 2018 cables in which State Department officials warned of safety issues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory studying bat coronaviruses. Renewed questions about the virus’s origin brought a rush of alternative theories. Some claimed the virus was a bioweapon. Others suggested it had been altered for a scientific experiment or was simply a viral sample that escaped from a lab.

Let’s be clear: No scientist we spoke to thinks the new coronavirus was designed as a bioweapon. When asked, Milton Leitenberg, a biological weapons expert at the University of Maryland, responded with a flat “No.”

Most experts say the new coronavirus was the product of a natural process. Still, the safety issues described in the 2018 cables, the Chinese government’s response and the proximity of the labs to the market have raised eyebrows.

As college professors are fond of saying, the absence of evidence is not the same as the evidence of absence. The Fact Checker video team investigates.

The Facts

The Labs

In Wuhan, at least two labs study coronaviruses that originate in bats — the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (WHCDC). Both are close to the seafood market. The WIV is about eight miles away. The WHCDC is right around the corner.

Despite the overlap in research, what the two labs actually do is quite different. The WIV is home to China’s first laboratory to receive the highest level of international bioresearch safety (known as BSL-4). In addition, it houses lower-level (BSL-3 and BSL-2) labs. The WHCDC is home only to a BSL-2 lab.

“BSL-2 is what we normally think of when we think of a lab,” explained Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. It is a lab where “somebody is wearing a lab coat and gloves; they’re at a bench.” (BSL-4 is akin to what is seen in movies such as “Contagion.”)

She explained that the seemingly relaxed security is because coronaviruses found in bats “don’t infect human cells very well, if at all. So often they’re not considered major potential pathogens because they just don’t grow very well in other species besides bats.” If scientists were being particularly cautious, she explained, they might work in a BSL-3 lab.

Researchers from both labs faced criticism in recent years that they have not followed appropriate safety protocols. A video published in December 2019 shows Tian Junhua, a prominent researcher based at the WHCDC, conducting field research on bats without appropriate protective equipment.

Warnings from U.S. diplomats in 2018 appeared to refer to the BSL-4 lab at the WIV. They reported: “During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.”

But Rasmussen cautioned against putting too much weight on these reports: “Without fail, every single BSL-4 lab in the U.S. gets some type of safety violation, some type of thing that they could do better.”

A 2019 paper written by WIV researchers about China’s effort to add more high-level bioresearch labs warned: “The experience of laboratory biosafety personnel training is relatively lacking. … Insufficient training staff and training problems such as uneven standards require urgent improvement.” A separate 2019 paper by Yuan Zhiming, a chief scientist at Wuhan, described systemic deficiencies at high-security labs: “Maintenance cost is generally neglected; several high-level BSLs have insufficient operating funds for routine, yet vital processes.” Most laboratories “lack specialized biosafety managers and engineers,” he wrote.

Months after the new coronavirus was discovered, the Global Times, a state-run newspaper, published an article outlining new government guidelines aimed at fixing “chronic management loopholes at virus labs.” The article noted that some labs have paid “insufficient attention to biological disposal.”

Could a safety lapse have opened the door for the new coronavirus to escape one of these labs, just as SARS had? (To be clear, SARS escaped after it had been identified. The initial outbreak did not begin this way.) Accidents happen. Records reveal multiple accidents have led to the escape of dangerous pathogens and inadvertent infections at U.S. laboratories.

While no comparable records exist in China, one of the world’s foremost experts on these viruses, Shi Zhengli, based at the WIV, thought it was possible. In March, Shi told the Scientific American that in the early days of the outbreak, even she wondered whether coronaviruses were to blame. “Could they have come from our lab?” After all, her lab had collected and sequenced tens of thousands of coronaviruses over the past decade. (She has since adamantly denied that the new coronavirus could have emerged from her lab. Her boss and the WIV issued similar denials.)

The Virus

Safety protocols aren’t a virus’s only barrier between a life in a test tube and one infecting millions. The virus would need to be able to infect humans (or another animal that can then infect humans), and that infection needs to be strong enough that it isn’t immediately beaten by the immune system, allowing it to spread among people.

Most known bat coronaviruses cannot do either of these things. The novel coronavirus, however, can do both. That said, it is called “novel” for a reason: It had never before appeared in scientific research.

Viruses — like people — have distinct genetic sequences that give scientists clues to their origin. Research published in the journal Nature on Feb. 3 found that this virus falls within a family of known coronaviruses that come from bats. It shares nearly 80 percent of the genome as the original SARS-CoV and 96 percent of the genome of a virus (RaTG13) that Shi’s team had previously sampled.

While 96 percent may sound like a big overlap to nonscientists, the 4 percent difference is found in the part of the virus that binds to human cells. Without that adaptation, Lucey, the Georgetown professor, put it simply: “It’s interesting, but it’s not going to cause any outbreaks in people.”

Moreover, the two viruses are generations apart. Edward Holmes, an evolutionary virologist from the University of Sydney who has written about the origin of the new virus, explained via email that the two viruses “shared a common ancestor that lived a long time ago. What this means is that [the new coronavirus] is NOT derived from RaTG13.” Holmes noted another virus that — like RaTG13 — was sampled 1,000 miles from Wuhan in a cave in Yunnan is a closer relative to the new virus, but “not close enough to be the direct ancestor.” And critically, he said, this other virus, “is not from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, nor from anywhere else in Wuhan.”

So how did this virus end up 1,000 miles from the nearest known relative? There are any number of potential explanations. A wildlife trafficker might have brought an infected bat into the city. Another animal might have picked up the virus from bats years ago, allowing it to transform in just the right way to infect humans. There are thousands of bat viruses that scientists have not sampled and even more coronaviruses that circulate in other species, so there’s no guarantee it actually came from thousands of miles away.

But even if that virus from Shi’s lab is not the source for the virus, her lab is full of bat coronavirus variants. That left us wondering: Could this virus have been the accidental product of an experiment gone awry? A 2015 paper cautioned against the “gain of function” experiments with which Shi’s team was involved. In this kind of experiment, the researchers mutate a virus strain to enhance a pathogen’s natural traits. Even though the most dangerous part of that experiment was not conducted at the WIV, the 2018 State Department cables referenced similar research by Shi and her team.

In 2017, Shi and her team published a study revealing that they had found a coronavirus from a bat that could be transmitted directly to humans. After reviewing the study, Rasmussen said via email that just because these viruses could attach to human cells, it “does not show that they are particularly effective at doing so.” Binding is only one part of the process. “It is not the sole determinant of viral fitness (the ability of the virus to replicate robustly in a given host) or pathogenicity (the ability of the virus to cause disease).” Moreover, genomic analysis reveals that none of the virus samples used to conduct these experiments were or could have been transformed to be the new coronavirus that causes covid-19.

That, however, is just one study. Shi’s lab published dozens of academic papers researching bat coronaviruses. The Washington Post reviewed academic studies that described “scores of encounters with animals that are known hosts to deadly viruses, including strains closely related to the pathogen behind the covid-19 outbreak.”

“While the scientists wore gloves and masks and took other protective measures, U.S. experts who reviewed the experiments say the precautions would not necessarily protect the researchers from harmful exposures, in caves or in the lab,” The Post reported.

This kind of research filled in critical gaps in scientific understanding of SARS-like coronaviruses. It also increased the risk of accidental exposure and lab accidents. But many scientists are still dubious.

Kristian G. Andersen, an immunology and microbiology professor at Scripps Research, alongside Holmes and other researchers, stated firmly, “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” Trevor Bedford, a researcher in computational biology and infectious diseases at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was more specific. “You don’t see kind of large chunks of genomic material that are somehow inserted or absent,” he said. Rather, it is the opposite. “The differences are these small mutations, as you’d expect from nature.”

(Shi did not return our emails. None of her current collaborators we spoke to could precisely speak to her current research.)

Still, no scientist was willing to completely dismiss the idea — they only said that it was highly unlikely. After all, we neither know what either lab was specifically working on, nor do we have an archive of every animal in the lab and virus sequence in its freezer. Without identifying the earliest case and the evolution of the virus, everything is a hypothesis.

Richard H. Ebright, a microbiologist and biosafety expert at Rutgers University, said: “The question whether the outbreak virus entered humans through an accidental infection of a lab worker is a question of historical fact, not a question of scientific fact. The question can be answered only through a forensic investigation, not through a scientific investigation.”

The Chinese Response

The actions of Chinese officials have done little to quash suspicion of a lab leak. Before the government had even alerted the World Health Organization to the growing epidemic, scientists were told to destroy early samples of the virus, according to the Straits Times.

Then, in an unusual move for the government, officials quickly pinned the outbreak on the market. But they have done little to provide supporting evidence for this theory. Officials reported that 33 of 585 environmental samples from the market contained the new coronavirus. Thirty-one of the positive samples were located in the area of the market known to sell wildlife. But where exactly these samples were taken is not clear. They could just as well have been taken from animal cages or a bathroom. Moreover, China has not divulged the results of any tests done on any animals that were recovered from the market before it was cleaned.

Several doctors, journalists and researchers based in China appear to have suddenly gone quiet over this issue. The New York Times reported by mid-January — shortly after the sequence of the virus was made public — that “Chinese scientists cut off official communications” with their American counterparts.

On Feb. 6, Botao Xiao, a molecular biomechanics researcher at South China University of Technology, published a paper arguing that “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.” He pointed to the previous safety mishaps and the kind of research both labs undertake as evidence. After the paper gained international attention, Chinese authorities flatly denied that an accident happened. Xiao later withdrew the paper, explaining in a brief email to the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 26: “The speculation about the possible origins in the post was based on published papers and media, and was not supported by direct proofs.”

The Chinese government’s actions have inhibited the scientific community’s ability to trace the origin of the virus and serve to only raise suspicions.

“It just seems like such a remarkable coincidence that you have an outbreak of a coronavirus in theory from a bat in the same city where there is this high-level BSL-4 laboratory, where not only are there foreign concerns about its safety, but there are Chinese articles about the safety protocols not being sufficient. And obviously there’s no smoking gun,” said Emily de La Bruyère, a China expert with Horizon Advisory. “It’s all circumstantial, but it’s pretty remarkable.”

In a statement via email, the Chinese Embassy in Washington told The Fact Checker: “The source of the virus is a serious and complex matter of science that must be studied by scientists and medical experts. Many scientists have already pointed out that COVID-19 has a natural origin.”

But the U.S. government is not convinced. The intelligence community “will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the director of national intelligence said in a statement on April 30.

The Bottom Line

The balance of the scientific evidence strongly supports the conclusion that the new coronavirus emerged from nature — be it the Wuhan market or somewhere else. Too many unexpected coincidences would have had to take place for it to have escaped from a lab. But the Chinese government has not been willing or able to provide information that would clarify lingering questions about any possible role played by either Wuhan lab.

That’s why intelligence agencies are still exploring that possibility, no matter how remote it may be. And even then, it’s unclear when or if we will ever know the origin story of this new virus that is causing death and economic turmoil around the globe.

 

 

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She Said Anthony Fauci Sexually Assaulted Her. Now She Says Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman Paid Her to Lie.

After failing to frame Robert Mueller, Elizabeth Warren, and others for sexual misconduct, the infamous Trumpster hoaxers tried to go after Fauci. But the woman they hired to play the victim had second thoughts.

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During the nine-minute, 35-second call, Wohl and Burkman do not cover themselves in glory. They hector Andrade when she says she's feeling paranoid and wants reassurance that everything's fine.

"What could be wrong, Diana?" Wohl asks. "You did a good job, you got paid. What's the problem? What seems to be the issue? You're freaking out. You're texting me late at night. What's the issue?"

"What's the problem? What's your problem?" echoes Burkman. "Tell me what the problem is? What's your problem?"

She says she's uncomfortable with the money they gave her, some guy showing up, claiming to be a lawyer, with his face hidden by a cap.

"Is he even a real lawyer?" she asks. "I looked him up."

"Yeah, he's a real lawyer," Wohl says. "He's a good lawyer," and then goes on to brag about that lawyer's White House connections.

It's possible that a White House–connected lawyer might have hand-delivered five figures in cash to Andrade in Los Angeles. It's also possible Wohl made up the whole thing. But she says she did get the money, and Wohl and Burkman are clearly eager to imply that they are intimate with Team Trump.

 

 

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I like this 

Imagine being Bill Gates right now.

You spend 30 years of your life and $50 billion of your own dollars supporting humanitarian causes. You directly save hundreds of thousands of lives in South East Asia by providing anti malaria netting to half of a continent, you drop infant mortality rates throughout the entire developing world by funding vaccine programs including vaccinating 40,000,000 children for polio, and, amongst a plethora of philanthropic endeavors, you fund free educational platforms like Khan Academy so people can have free access to high quality education.

Then after donating half of your wealth to charity and pledging 90% of the remainder to charity in your will..

Arguably doing more to better life on earth for humanity than any other human being to ever live.

You then hop on the internet only to find a million scientifically illiterate ####### imbeciles that are using the very computers you pretty much invented in the first place to call you a child murdering arch villian antichrist because they watched a YouTube video made by some other yokel with the comprehension of a ####### potato.

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Ukrainian MP releases Biden-Poroshenko call recordings, spouts absurd conspiracy theory

*********

A Ukrainian lawmaker who previously met with and gave an interview to Rudy Giuliani, U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has released audio recordings allegedly featuring phone conversations between former U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

On May 19, lawmaker Andriy Derkach held a press conference during which he played excerpts of the recordings, alleging that they showed that Biden and American financier George Soros had exerted undue influence over the Ukrainian government under Poroshenko.

He claimed that the recordings demonstrated that the country was under “external control” and said Biden ran the state’s top prosecutor’s office, three political parties in parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers — an outlandish conspiracy theory with no factual backing, but one that plays into a common line pushed by the anti-Western part of Ukraine’s opposition.

Derkach is one of several Ukrainian politicians who have made largely unsubstantiated claims that Biden, the Democratic Party’s de facto nominee for the U.S. presidential election in November, engaged in corruption in Ukraine during his time in office. These Ukrainians have provided fodder for an entire media ecosystem of right-wing news sites, pro-Trump pundits and even indiviuals like Giuliani, who all push the theories in the United States.  

Virtually all these claims have stood up poorly to journalistic scrutiny.

Derkach’s release of the audio recordings — which feature voices that sound very much like Poroshenko, Biden and, briefly, former Secretary of State John Kerry — was clearly intended to further these accusations.

But while they offer an interesting window into the United States’ active support for and involvement in Ukraine after the EuroMaidan Revolution that deposed President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, they provide virtually no evidence for Derkach’s claims.

Derkach claimed that the audio files were given to him by investigative journalists and were recorded by Poroshenko himself. While they sound authentic, even a casual listener can hear that they have been selectively edited, likely to serve a political purpose. 

Firing the prosecutor general

At the center of the accusations against Biden is a claim that he called for the firing of Ukraine’s former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, in order to protect private energy company Burisma Holdings, where Bidens’s son Hunter served on the board of directors in 2014-2019.

That claim is half-true. Biden indeed called for Shokin’s ouster and threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid if the prosecutor general kept his job. The then-vice president was echoing months of demands from Ukrainian civil society, anti-corruption activists, some lawmakers and Ukraine’s Western partners. The reason was straightforward: Shokin had failed to prosecute high-level corruption. 

Shokin was fired in April 2016.

However, contrary to the accusations against Biden, Shokin was not investigating Burisma at the time. In fact, prosecutors under Shokin’s supervision sabotaged the Burisma case, as ex-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt outlined in a speech on Sept. 24, 2015 in Odesa.

Read more: Trump whistleblower scandal, explained from Ukraine

Unsurprisingly, parts of the recordings that Derkach played in the press conference deal directly with Shokin’s firing.

“Despite the fact that (Shokin) didn’t have any corruption charges, we don’t have any information  about him doing something wrong, I especially asked him… to resign,” Poroshenko told Biden in a recording that supposedly dates to Feb. 18, 2016.

Poroshenko said that, despite Shokin allegedly having support in parliament, he agreed and submitted his letter of resignation.

“This is my second step for keeping my promises,” Poroshenko said.

In another recording from April 22, 2016, Biden and Poroshenko discussed who could be appointed prosecutor general. Poroshenko proposed Yuriy Lutsenko, a member of his party who would go on to hold the post from May 2016 to August 2019. However, Poroshenko offered to recall his proposal if Biden thought the nomination of a “politically-motivated figure” was inappropriate.

In another recording supposedly from May 13, 2016, Biden congratulated Poroshenko on installing Lutsenko as prosecutor general.

“It’s going to be critical for him to work quickly to repair the damage that Shokin did,” Biden said, adding that the U.S. was now ready to move forward in signing the $1-billion loan guarantee.

Poroshenko also said he asked Lutsenko to get in contact with the U.S. Embassy and told Biden he would like to find an American or foreign advisor to help the Prosecutor General’s Office in building a new prosecution system. He references an American assistant prosecutor of Ukrainian ancestry, Bohdan Vitvitsky, as a possible option. 

Vitvitsky would eventually go on to serve as an advisor to the prosecutor general. Derkach implies that he served as Biden’s “enforcer” in Ukraine, a claim for which he provides no evidence.

In a September 2016 interview with the Ukrainian Weekly, Vitvitsky presented his role as an advisor quite differently. “I wasn’t looking for this,” he said. “It was presented as an opportunity to be helpful in some way that might have a little bit of an impact. It was valuable and important enough for me to drop what I was doing to come here.”

Derkach also claimed that Shokin was investigating Burisma, and Biden wanted to prevent him from learning about $3.4 million paid by Burisma to a company called Rosemond Seneca Bohai LLC. Reuters reported that this money was intended for Hunter Biden and his business associate Devon Archer, but noted that it could not verify the supposed Burisma payment records it had seen or state for certain how much money the younger Biden received.

While Derkach claimed the elder Biden was afraid this information would have sunk his political career, he did not provide any evidence for that. There is no evidence that this had anything to do with Shokin’s firing.

Coalition troubles

In another call, supposedly on Feb. 18, 2016, Poroshenko complained to Biden about the 19-member Batkivshchyna faction and the 26-member Samopomich party leaving his ruling coalition.

The parties exited after he blocked a no-confidence vote on the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko said.

Poroshenko told Biden he did it “because I promised you. Only because of that.”

Under the Constitution of Ukraine, parliament would have had 30 days to form a new coalition. Otherwise, snap parliamentary elections would have to be held. The leadership now lacked legitimacy in parliament and among the public, Poroshenko told Biden.

Commenting on a Biden-Poroshenko phone call from a day later, Feb. 19, Derkach said that the two men discussed buying votes for a parliamentary coalition. But that wasn’t exactly true. In the audio Derkach then played, Poroshenko talked about the difficulty of negotiating a new coalition and criticized vote buying.

“The other factions we can invite, but they speak only the language of political corruption, and I hate the idea after the (EuroMaidan Revolution) to buy the votes,” Poroshenko said.

In subsequent phone calls Derkach played, Biden and Poroshenko discussed the difficulties of negotiating to form a new coalition and the possibility of Natalie Jaresko, Ukraine’s American-born finance minister from December 2014 to April 2016, becoming prime minister.

Poroshenko even asked Biden if U.S. partners could increase pressure on the reform-oriented Samopomich party to support her candidacy as prime minister because the U.S. had given grants to the party.

On April 14, 2016, the Ukrainian parliament confirmed a new coalition and Cabinet led by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, an associate of Poroshenko.

But in a May 13, 2016 call, Poroshenko continued to criticize U.S. support for Samopomich and asked Biden to put pressure on the party to convince them to vote for constitutional amendments required for court reform. 

Poroshenko even claimed that he told then-U.S. Ambassador Geoffry Pyatt: “Please don’t give the grants to the Samopomich, do not give them the money. Because this is not financing for the opposition party. This is financing for an absolutely irresponsible political leader.” “We will do everything to help you get the votes,” Biden appears to say as the recording abruptly cuts off.

PrivatBank nationalization

In another call supposedly dated Nov. 16, 2016, shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, Biden encouraged Poroshenko to take action on Ukraine’s undercapitalized PrivatBank to avoid trouble with the new U.S. president.

The bank, the largest lender in Ukraine, would be nationalized from its previous owners, oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and his business partner, just a month later and the government would discover a $5.5 billion hole in its ledgers due to insider loans.

In the call, Biden termed Kolomoisky a “pain in the ###,” and told Poroshenko to set a date to take action on PrivatBank in order to receive a new tranche of aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He termed this a matter of “economic as well as physical security” for Ukraine.

“I don’t want Trump to get into the position where he thinks that he’s about to buy onto a policy where the financial system is going to collapse and he’s going to be looked to to pour more money into Ukraine,” Biden said. “That’s how he’ll think about it before he gets sophisticated enough to know the details. 

In April 2017, Ukraine would receive $1 billion in aid from the IMF.

But Biden’s comments on Trump would prove to be surprisingly prescient. In summer 2019, Trump would temporarily halt aid to Ukraine in an attempt to extract an investigation into Biden from President Volodymyr Zelensky. That would serve as one of the events that would lead to his impeachment in December.

No smoking gun

For all Derkach’s claims, his presentation of the audio was largely smoke and mirrors. He repeatedly drew extreme conclusions from fairly mundane details of the phone conversations.

However, the presentation was likely also intended to be embarrassing for Poroshenko. The audio clips repeatedly included the beginnings of the call, when Poroshenko would greet Biden profusely.

“All the time when I hear your voice, it’s a great pleasure for me,” he said in the March 22, 2016 call.

At another point, Poroshenko bragged about raising natural utilities tariffs more than the IMF demanded, an unpopular move in Ukraine.

But despite all Derkach’s claims and insinuations of wrongdoing by Biden and Poroshenko, the recordings lack anything even remotely close to a smoking gun. 

The closest they come is with one small detail: Poroshenko told Biden he granted former Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius, “in violation of the law, a security guard from the secret service.

*********

- Kyiv Post

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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A New Giuliani-Like Effort to Smear Biden Over Ukraine Falls Flat

More shady characters, more unfounded allegations.

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A Ukrainian lawmaker on Tuesday released edited fragments of recordings of phone conversations between former Vice President Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The recordings don’t contain any evidence of wrongdoing by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, as the lawmaker and right-wing websites claimed, but they do reveal a new effort by a shady cast of Ukrainians and Americans to smear Biden with bogus allegations.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Andriy Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, played recordings from 2016 that he said confirm the familiar but discredited accusation that Biden forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, to help shield a Ukrainian gas company that employed Biden’s son from investigation. But the tapes are a dud. The gas company, Burisma, doesn’t come up at all. The recordings in fact support Biden’s public explanation that he pressured Poroshenko to fire Shokin—by threatening to withhold international loan guarantees from Ukraine—because Shokin had failed to bring cases to address rampant corruption in Ukraine and to reform the notoriously corrupt prosecutor’s office. 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko welcomes Vice President Joe Biden in Kyiv, Ukraine, on January 16, 2017.Vitaliy Holovin/Corbis via Getty images

A Ukrainian lawmaker on Tuesday released edited fragments of recordings of phone conversations between former Vice President Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The recordings don’t contain any evidence of wrongdoing by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, as the lawmaker and right-wing websites claimed, but they do reveal a new effort by a shady cast of Ukrainians and Americans to smear Biden with bogus allegations.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Andriy Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, played recordings from 2016 that he said confirm the familiar but discredited accusation that Biden forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, to help shield a Ukrainian gas company that employed Biden’s son from investigation. But the tapes are a dud. The gas company, Burisma, doesn’t come up at all. The recordings in fact support Biden’s public explanation that he pressured Poroshenko to fire Shokin—by threatening to withhold international loan guarantees from Ukraine—because Shokin had failed to bring cases to address rampant corruption in Ukraine and to reform the notoriously corrupt prosecutor’s office. 

Biden can also be heard advising Poroshenko to accelerate the nationalization of a Ukrainian bank, Privatbank, which was controlled by a powerful oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, who had been accused of embezzling billions from it. (A grand jury in Ohio is now reportedly investigating whether Kolomoisky laundered funds stolen from the bank through Cleveland-area real estate transactions.)

Biden told Poroshenko to move fast to prevent the matter from complicating Ukraine’s relationship with the incoming Trump administration. “I don’t want Trump get into the position where he thinks he is about to buy onto a policy and where the financial system is going to collapse and he is going to be looked to to pour more money into Ukraine,” Biden said on the recording. “That’s how he’ll think about it before he gets sophisticated enough to think about the details.” 

Biden seems to have been offering constructive advice to Poroshenko and perhaps even helping Trump, then the incoming president, by resolving a thorny issue before he would take office. Where’s the scandal in that?

Derkach has a long history of ties to Russian intelligence. His father is a former KGB officer who became head of Ukraine’s intelligence service. Derkach studied at Moscow’s FSB Academy, which trains Russian intelligence officers, in the 1990s, and he was later a member of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Party of Regions. He met in Kiev last December with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and is part of a cohort of Ukrainians who have appeared eager to disseminate allegations boosting Giuliani’s attacks on Biden. 

Last month, Derkach hired his former colleague in Ukraine’s parliament, Andrii Artemenko, as a US lobbyist. (Artemenko now appears to reside in the United States, with property in Florida and Virginia.) Artemenko’s contract with Derkach says Artemenko’s firm, Global Management Association Corp., will help Derkach contact Trump administration officials and Congress regarding “international corruption in the area of providing Ukraine with international technical assistance and loans, interfering with the activities of central and law enforcement agencies, and unlawful impact on the country’s domestic economic and political processes as well as attracting investments in machine industry and fuel and energy industry.” That wide-ranging description suggests this could be an effort to help Derkach push allegations about Biden in the United States.

Another lobbyist at Global Management Association Corp., Nabil Bader, denied that the work for Derkach relates to Biden. But Bader said he could not discuss the work further due a nondisclosure agreement with Derkach. Artemenko did not respond to inquires from Mother Jones.

The publicly available information about Global Management Association Corp. is murky. It lists a Washington address in what appears to be shared office space, but it is incorporated in Wyoming. It is 75 percent owned by Artemenko’s wife, Oksana Kuchma, according to a foreign lobbying registration filed in April with the Justice Department. Bader told Mother Jones that Artemenko runs it but launched it under his wife’s ownership because he travels frequently.

The firm’s executive chairman is listed in documents as “Andy Kuchman.” Artemenko told Politico last month that he changed his name in 2017 to “Andy Victor Kuchma” to make it easier for Americans to understand. 

Artemenko also participated, under his given name, in Giuliani’s efforts to smear Biden. He appeared with Giuliani in a video report aired earlier this year by the ardently pro-Trump One America News Network. In the hour-long video, Artemenko made a variety of allegations about Biden without any substantiation.

Artemenko has been mixing it up in American politics for several years. In late 2016 and early 2017, he secretly pushed for the Trump administration to embrace a “peace plan” to end Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia on terms favorable to Moscow. After the New York Times reported on his effort, he was investigated for treason in Ukraine and stripped of citizenship in 2017. He was also interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Artemenko has told reporters that Russian officials supported his peace plan.

Under his new name, Artemenko runs several companies in Florida. Those include AirTrans LLC, a shipping company whose website says it is part of Frontier Resource Group, which is led by Erik Prince, the controversial founder of Blackwater and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Artemenko told Politico that he and Prince “are working together.” Prince has not commented on that claim.

Prince himself has been involved in dubious foreign dealings. In 2016, he funded efforts by Trump allies to find Hillary Clinton emails that they believed had been obtained by overseas hackers. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee asked Congress to consider charging Prince for making false statements to lawmakers in a 2017 interview about a secretive January 2017 meeting he had in the Seychelles with the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund. At issue was whether this meeting—arranged by the leaders of the United Arab Emirates—was an attempt to set up a secret back channel between Vladimir Putin’s government and Trump’s circle. The Justice Department said in February that it was looking into charging Prince.

Derkach’s release of the recordings of these seemingly routine conversations between Biden and Poroshenko appears to be a continuation of the campaign led by Giuliani—and cheered on by conservative media outlets, especially Fox News—to taint Biden with baseless Ukraine-related allegations. Giuliani declined to tell the Washington Post whether he knew of Derkach’s release of the Biden recordings in advance. He did say they were the “just the tip of the iceberg.” 

There’s much that remains unclear about the connections between Giuliani, Derkach, Artemenko, and Prince. But despite Trump’s impeachment over his machinations in Ukraine, this stunt makes clear that Trump’s allies at home and abroad have not given up on using the Ukraine scandal against Biden—even if it does not exist.

************************

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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Florida family grieves as Trump spreads debunked conspiracy theory to attack MSNBC host

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A little after 8 a.m. on July 20, 2001, a couple arriving for an appointment opened an unlocked front door at an office in the Florida panhandle town of Fort Walton Beach and discovered a woman lying on the floor, dead. Her name was Lori Kaye Klausutis and she was just 28.

The police said they found no signs of foul play. The medical examiner concluded her lonely death was an accident. She had fainted, the result of a heart condition, and hit her head on a desk, he said.

Now, nearly 20 years later, Klausutis’s death has captured the attention of the country’s most prominent purveyor of conspiracy theories — the president of the United States — who has without evidence speculated that she might have been murdered and that the case should be reopened.

The reason for President Trump’s fixation: At the time of her death, Klausutis was working for a Republican congressman from Pensacola named Joe Scarborough — the same Scarborough who today, as host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, is a fierce critic of Trump and has in recent weeks decried the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as a failure.

...

A day earlier, Trump claimed without evidence that the case was now a “big topic of discussion in Florida,” calling Scarborough a “Nut Job (with bad ratings)” and declaring to his followers: “Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!” In a tweet earlier last week, Trump mused: “Did he get away with murder? Some people think so.”

No one in Klausutis’s family would talk about Trump’s tweets for this article, fearing retaliation by online trolls of the type who went after parents of the Sandy Hook massacre victims. Their grief has been disrupted by conspiracy theories before — not only over the past few years from the White House, but from some liberals who at the time of her death sought to portray a then-conservative Republican congressman as a potential villain.

“There’s a lot we would love to say, but we can’t,” said Colin Kelly, who was Klausutis’s brother-in-law.

Scarborough, who was 900 miles away in Washington on the day Klausutis died, and his co-host and wife, Mika Brzezinski, have both expressed outrage on the air in recent days — saying that Trump’s false accusations were most hurtful to Klausutis’s family. Brzezinski called Trump a “cruel, sick, disgusting person” and said he was using the episode to distract from the pandemic.

...In the case of the 2001 death in Florida, Trump is pushing a claim that was debunked from the outset by local officials. Despite drawing scrutiny and wild claims repeatedly over the years, there has never been any indication that local authorities planned to revisit the matter. Officials there could not be reached Sunday to respond to the president’s claims.

Trump’s tweets offer a reminder of the remarkable nature of the Trump era — that a sitting president can traffic in incendiary and false allegations while the political world around him remains largely silent, accustomed to Trump’s modern-day definition of presidential behavior. As with many such eruptions from the White House, there will probably be little if any consequence beyond, in this case, the collateral suffering of a private family in Florida. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

Klausutis had spent two years as a constituent services coordinator in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach annex. She was not a college intern, as some have claimed. She was not pregnant, either, as some have asserted. And she was not, as Trump claimed Sunday and others have before him, a marathon runner.

Klausutis had been married for four years to a 6-foot-3 civilian Air Force contractor named T.J. Klausutis. They lived in a town called Niceville where the population numbered about 11,000 people, many with jobs at nearby Eglin Air Force Base.

She grew up about 20 minutes outside Atlanta and graduated with honors from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism. She was completing an MBA from the University of West Florida, sang in the Saint Mary’s Catholic Church choir and ran 2 to 4 miles about four times a week. She was on the board of the youth symphony and had just stepped down from the presidency of the Emerald Coast Young Republicans to become treasurer.

“She was an absolutely lovely girl,” Paul Lux, then a member of the Young Republicans chapter and now Okaloosa County’s supervisor of elections, said last week. “She and T.J. were very happy. . . . She kept nudging me to come back to the church. Her funeral is what finally got me to come back.”

She died on a Thursday two weeks before her birthday. She told two people that day that she didn’t feel well. Her husband was out of town on business, and she’d planned to go to a girls’ night out, but she canceled. A second employee in the office was on vacation, so Klausutis was working alone. She last spoke to someone on the phone just before 5 p.m.

A security guard was supposed to check the doors of the Miracle Strip Parkway office complex that night but later admitted he probably skipped some. He failed to discover the unlocked office door or see the office lights were on.

Klausutis’s job was helping people in Scarborough’s district who needed assistance navigating bureaucracy. The couple who showed up Friday wanted a work permit. They found Klausutis lying near a desk and called 911. They told the local paper they saw no sign of an attack and assumed she had had a seizure and collapsed.

Police reported no signs of a robbery or a violent attack. When the medical examiner was slow to announce a cause of death, speculation began to swirl. The local Northwest Florida Daily News reported getting inquiries “from Massachusetts and Oregon and dozens of places in between.”

When one story mentioned suicide as a possibility, Klausutis’s father-in-law, Norm, wrote a letter to the editor: “Losing Lori was the most painful event in my life of 62 years. It was far more painful for her husband. . . . She was extremely happy with her life, job and family. For those who knew Lori, the thought of suicide, as your published reports suggested, is absolutely unthinkable.”

Finally, on Aug. 6, Assistant Medical Examiner Michael Berkland announced his findings. Klausutis, he wrote, “died as a result of an acute subdural hematoma which occurred as a result of a closed head trauma sustained in a simple fall.”

The position of the body and her hands showed she had made no effort to break her fall, he wrote, and the nature of her brain injury wasn’t consistent with an attacker hitting her. Her heart had a “floppy mitral valve,” suggesting she suffered from an abnormal heart rhythm that led to a fainting spell. It also explained why she had felt ill, he said.

At that point, her husband made his one and only public statement about the case, praising Berkland’s “thoroughness and attention to detail” and adding, “He did a wonderful job in finding the right answers without rushing to make a quick diagnosis,”

But Klausutis’s death occurred while the nation was caught up in speculation about the disappearance of Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy and her ties to Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif). Soon the stories merged in the public’s mind, with some labeling Scarborough the Republican Condit (who was never charged with any crime).

...

As the speculation about Klausutis’s death has persisted, her husband’s grief put his own health in jeopardy.

“For five years, I didn’t socialize. I traveled. I worked. And I ate,” he said in a 2017 interview with Bicycling magazine that touches only briefly on the reason for his mourning. His weight soared to nearly 400 pounds, he said.

Through strict dieting and serious mountain biking, he dropped to 220 pounds, he said, and “the Hardee’s, where I got breakfast every morning, and the local pizza shop, where I got dinner, closed.” He still lives in the same house he shared with his wife. He has never remarried.

******************

 

More here from the Tampa Tribune story at the time.

TPM summary.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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1 hour ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Klausutis’s death

Seemingly on the level with the Seth Rich conspiracy, but propagated by the president of the US. Sad 

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2 minutes ago, msommer said:

Seemingly on the level with the Seth Rich conspiracy, but propagated by the president of the US. Sad 

Has there ever been another president that believed in conspiracy theories?

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This is on voter fraud, and from 2018, but it's worth revisiting considering Trump's latest forays into claiming vote fraud in 2020

++++++++++++++++++++

Member Of Disbanded Trump Voter Fraud Commission Speaks Out

A member of the President's now-defunct voter fraud commission is speaking out. NPR's Don Gonyea talks to Matthew Dunlap about the panel, which he says was set up to validate the president's claims.

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Don Gonyea in for Michel Martin.

We're going to start the program today with news about a commission set up by President Trump to investigate supposed widespread voter fraud. That group was disbanded in January, and no credible evidence was ever presented that would substantiate the president's claims. Now thousands of documents from the commission have been released, and one of the members is speaking out - Matthew Dunlap. He is Maine's Secretary of State, and he was one of four Democrats on the 11-member commission. Matthew Dunlap joins us now. Welcome.

MATTHEW DUNLAP: Thank you for having me.

GONYEA: So, Secretary Dunlap, I - as I understand it, it is your contention that this commission was set up basically to validate a claim made by President Trump that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Is that correct?

DUNLAP: Well, the commission was purported to investigate the claim and make suggestions on ways to improve the integrity of elections. But, as the commission went forward in this work, it became more and more mysterious in how it was moving. And, basically, we were getting walled off. And because we couldn't find out what our own commission was working on, I made a formal inquiry and was told that they were reviewing my request with their legal counsel, which made me scratch my head a little bit. And it led to a court case we ultimately prevailed in. And the court case was premised on the idea that, as an equal member of the commission, I was entitled to the working documents of the commission.

GONYEA: So you filed the lawsuit that has now resulted in the release of those documents. It gives us some glimpse of the workings of the commission. What did you want to bring to light?

DUNLAP: Well, what's remarkable about the documents is what's not in there, and what's not in there is any substantiated evidence of voter misconduct at any scale. In fact, one of the troubling things about the documents that we saw was that before we were even really meeting, commission staff were working on a framework of a report. And several sections of report talk about voter fraud, and those sections are completely blank. They didn't insert any information whatsoever.

So that's why we've been saying that, even though the idea was to investigate voter fraud, it is pretty clear that the purpose of the commission was to actually affirm and validate the president's claims whether or not we had any evidence of any such voter misconduct.

GONYEA: And, again, you were on the panel, but you couldn't get access to the work it was doing or any evidence that it was supposedly gathering.

DUNLAP: I couldn't even get a schedule. This was the frustration that I felt when Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon forwarded me an email from the Minnesota Voters Alliance touting the fact that they've been invited to the December meeting of the commission, and that was the first word I'd had in October that they were even talking about a December meeting. So that's when I sent the formal letter which really led ultimately to the lawsuit you're talking about.

...

++++++++++++++++++++

 

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Rush Limbaugh on morality:

Quote

Trump “doesn’t care” if Scarborough murdered a woman, doesn’t believe it, but is spreading the rumors that the woman’s family has said cause deep pain, just to drive moralizing people crazy.

^ I believe this is a paraphrase, not an actual quote from Limbaugh.

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