Los Angeles Times
Manafort offered ‘private briefings’ with Russian billionaire during Trump’s presidential campaign
Los Angeles Times
In the middle of Donald Trump‘s presidential run, then-campaign Chairman Paul Manafort said he was willing to provide “private briefings” about the campaign to a Russian billionaire the U.S. government considers close to Russian President Vladimir …
Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaignWashington Post
Paul Manafort reportedly offered to brief Russian billionaire on 2016 campaignCNBC
Manafort Offered Private Briefings on 2016 Race to Russian BillionaireNBCNews.com
New York Post –CBS News
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Donald Trump has so many weaknesses, flaws, sins, and vulnerabilities that it would be difficult to list them all from memory. His life has been essentially a field guide for everything that’s wrong with humanity, and his legacy will be a cautionary tale. But there’s one weakness in particular that’s cost him everything – and it’s an ironic one, considering how much value he places on arrogant bluster.
Trump has gotten ahead in the business world over the years by accurately identifying the kind of wide-eyed greedy suckers who were ripe for his financial scams. He conned investors with too-good-to-be true deals, then simply kept their money and sued them if they tried to get it back. He relied on contractors that he knew he could get away with not paying. He found the kind of suckers who were eager to fall for scams like Trump University. He was adept that reading people. But then he went into politics, and something changed.
Maybe it’s because he’s in severe cognitive decline and he just can’t read people anymore, or maybe it’s because political figures are a different breed, but Donald Trump has shown himself to be remarkably bad at reading people during his time in politics. He thought Jeff Sessions was the kind of harmless doofus who would be personally loyal to him, when everyone else knew Sessions had survived as a corrupt politician all these years by being a self interested snake. When Sessions quickly recused himself in the Russia scandal in order to protect himself, Trump was the only one who was shocked.
When FBI Director James Comey put his finger on the scale in Donald Trump’s favor during the election, Trump took that as a sign that Comey liked him. In hindsight, Comey simply believed the FBI and its procedures to be more important than the real-world sanctity of the election process. So when Trump took office, he assumed Comey would protect him in the Russia investigation. Trump could have fired Comey on day one, and he’d probably have gotten away with it. But instead he waited until it was far too late, and by the time he did fire Comey, it blew up in his face.
Trump’s biggest misread of a fellow political figure might have come with his decision to latch onto Paul Manafort. Trump seemed to believe that because Manafort was a fellow scumbag who was also beholden to the Kremlin, the two would naturally watch out for each other’s interests. But now we’re learning that Manafort was only using Trump’s campaign as a way of getting out from under his Russian financial debts. We’re about to find out how Manafort managed to convince Trump to go along with this stupidity, once all those intercepted wiretapped phone calls between them inevitably surface. It’s going to come out that Manafort played Trump like a fiddle, and Trump was dumb enough to go along with it even though he was aware of Manafort’s every move.
During his time in politics, Donald Trump has consistently misjudged nearly every major political figure he’s encountered. It’s cost him time and again. It’s how he got himself incriminated in the Russia scandal to begin with. It’s how he ended up with a Special Counsel breathing down his neck, and flipping over every rock of his corrupt existence. Trump has lost everything; it’s just a matter of time. He’s lost it all because of his specific inability to read people correctly since he entered the political world. Contribute to Palmer Report
The post The specific weakness that’s cost Donald Trump everything appeared first on Palmer Report.
A condom ad coming amidst one of India’s biggest festivals, and featuring a former porn star, has sparked outrage in the western state of Gujarat.
Furious traders have written to prime minister Narendra Modi’s government seeking a ban on the commercial hoardings—calling it an “irresponsible and immature attempt to boost sales by putting our cultural value system at stake.”
The complaint is against the Manforce condom ad in the coastal trading city of Surat. The local cops promptly brought down the hoardings. While the ad itself does not mention the word condom or sex, it does show Bollywood actress Sunny Leone and carry the tagline “Aa Navratrie ramo parantu prem thi”(This Navratri, play, but with love).
Navratri, or “Nine Nights,” which begins today (Sept. 21), is a festival observed across the country by most Hindus, who fast and pray for nine days. Piety apart, the festival is also a time to rejoice and make merry. Among Gujaratis particularly, it is marked by night-long social gatherings and community dancing—the Garba or Dandiya dance form being extremely popular.
With large parts of India still socially conservative, festivals like Navratri usher in some temporary levity and euphoria, increasing the chances of youngsters getting intimate with those of the opposite sex. “Children can do anything. Drugs, unprotected sex, and bad company are my main worry,” one parent was quoted by Reuters as saying under these circumstances.
According to the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which works towards the prevention of the disease, there is even a perceived increase in the incidence of abortions post-Navratri festivities. “Sexually-transmitted infections also rise during this period,” said Dr V Sam Prasad, the organisation’s country programme director for India.
In any case, it is often reported that contraceptive sales hit the roof during Navratri, including in Gujarat. Not surprisingly, condom companies look to ride this spike.
However, Leone, a popular celebrity in India, being featured in the ad this time has earned the wrath of Gujarat’s Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
In the letter written to the Modi’s ministry of consumer affairs, CAIT national secretary general Praveen Khandelwal has said that the ad is “shouting out to encourage youths to use Manforce condoms in the name of Navratri festival.” It labels Leone’s presence in the ad as a sign “of lust of earning huge money…brand ambassadors can go to any level irrespective of the pious and religious occasion of Navratri even.”
An e-mail sent to Mankind Pharma, the maker of Manforce condoms, did not elicit a response.
India is a fairly complex market for condom companies.
Less than 5% of households in the country use condoms. Even among those who do use them, their sale or purchase is mostly a hush-hush affair, making it difficult for companies to market and sell their brands. In any case, they mostly rely on pharmacies and online stores for this rather than regular grocery or general stores.
Condom ad campaigns, too, are sanitised to not ruffle prevalent conservative attitudes too much.
However, signing up Leone as brand ambassador in 2012 did a world of good for Manforce condoms. It resulted in a spike in sales, making the brand the largest in the category by market-share.
It wasn’t surprising, considering how popular Leone. In 2016, she trumped prime minister Modi and Bollywood star Salman Khan to become the most searched for Indian personality on Google.
Meanwhile, despite Indians’ professed attitude towards sex, they are among the world’s biggest consumers of pornography.
“The problem really is the billboard. We are a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ society. Sunny Leone is our goddess of the darkened movie theatre or our private bedrooms….When Sunny Leone winks at us from a billboard on a busy highway as we are headed to work or a family dinner, we look away nervously…Sunny Leone reminding us that we might have lustful thoughts during Navaratri embarrasses us even if the condom sales spike prove that she’s on the money,” journalist Sandip Roy wrote.
Earlier this month I wrote about how Special Counsel Robert Mueller isn’t merely going to destroy Donald Trump, he’s going to reveal his most humiliating secret: Trump is flat broke (link). I got some pushback on it, from people asking how someone with assets in the billions can be broke. The answer is simple: if your debts are larger than your assets, and servicing your debt has left you cash-poor, you’re broke. Now there’s even more anecdotal evidence of just how broke Trump is.
This summer it was revealed that Donald Trump was using funds from his phony “2020 reelection campaign” to pay for his son Don’s legal bills in the Trump-Russia scandal. This in and of itself could have been written off as Trump simply being his scamming self. He sees his campaign fundraising as being his own personal money, so of course he spent it on his own personal interests. He’s also used his own charity as a personal piggy bank, while scamming money from his other son Eric’s charity. This doesn’t mean he’s broke, just that he’s a criminal scumbag. But now it turns out he’s skimming money from a different, and more eye popping, source.
Last night it was revealed that Trump has conned the Republican National Committee into paying his own legal bills (link). This is not easily pulled off. Trump has precious little influence remaining over the Republican Party. But he’s so desperate for yet another minor cash infusion to pay his lawyers, he’s using up that last bit of remaining goodwill with the RNC. As per usual, Trump is doing all of this for a relatively small amount of money. It’s a mere $230,000 – which for a billionaire should be not even be worth the trouble.
What stands out here is the time and trouble which Donald Trump is willing to go to, just so he can pilfer small amounts of cash. He lugged himself to his own resorts every weekend just so he could steal money from the Secret Service to the tune of $60,000 in golf cart rentals and such. That’s a ton of work for what should be the equivalent of a penny lying on the ground for a billionaire. That’s because he’s not a billionaire. His properties are over-mortgaged, he has hidden international debts, and a negative net worth. Donald Trump is flat broke. Eventually it’ll surface that the $1 million he donated to hurricane relief wasn’t actually his money either. He simply doesn’t have that kind of cash available.
The oligarch tied to President Trump’s dealings in Moscow sold a multimillion-dollar apartment in Midtown as his family’s name began to surface in the Russia investigation.
Irina Agalarova, the wife of Kremlin-connected billionaire Aras Agalarov, closed the sale of her pad on W. 52nd Street at the end of June, according to city property records.
The two-bedroom property fetched more than $2.8 million, up only $300,000 from what the Agalarovs paid for it last February.
It was not immediately clear why the wealthy family, whose patriarch rose from his roots in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan to become one of the biggest real estate developers in Russia, chose to sell its Manhattan digs.
The sale, which had not previously been reported, closed roughly 15 months after the apartment was purchased.
Agalarov’s connections to Trump came under scrutiny as part of the probes into alleged Moscow meddling in the 2016 election.
Property documents list the Midtown apartment contract date as May 11, as investigations into possible Kremlin collusion with the Trump campaign heated up with the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
The family’s connections to Trump go back further, however, to when Emin Agalarov, the pop-star son of Aras, featured Miss Universe in a music video.
That choice that later led to the family bringing Trump and his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013, with the then-reality TV star trotting out his catchphrase, “you’re fired,” in another of Emin’s Europop videos.
Trump and Agalarov also had discussions about creating a Trump Tower Moscow, which never materialized.
While Aras Agalarov had a passing mention in the unverified “dossier” against Trump published in January, his family was brought back into investigators’ orbit after Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, unveiled his list of foreign contacts in late June.
Those contacts included a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on the Clinton campaign that Aras Agalarov had obtained from Moscow’s top prosecutor.
Emails show that Rob Goldstone, the British publicist for Emin Agalarov, told Trump Jr. that the information was part of the Russian government’s “support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. and others have said that nothing came of the meeting, which also included Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Kushner, Goldstone, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, a translator and Agalarov employee Ike Kaveladze.
News of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting sparked interest in the oligarch family’s dealings, including that Aras Agalarov had put his posh home in Bergen County, N.J., up for sale in mid-June.
Top officials who have been fired or quit under Trump administration
Real estate website Zillow shows that the listing was removed on July 14, in the aftermath of the Trump Jr. emails.
Scott Balber, a lawyer representing the Agalarovs in the U.S., told the Daily News Wednesday that the timing was not in any way a reaction to swirling investigations in Washington.
“There is absolutely no connection between selling these two properties to anything in the news,” Balber said.
“I can assure you that Mr. Agalarov knows a lot more about real estate investment than you or I do,” he said.
In fact, the Agalarov clan’s properties in New York, which public records show include two other apartments, are just a few tacks on the map of foreign buyers gobbling up Manhattan real estate.
David Reiss, a real estate expert at Brooklyn Law School, told The News the buyers from abroad can have numerous motivations for coming to New York including “getting real estate as an asset class, taking money from their home country and bringing it abroad so it can’t be clawed back by the local government, or to have another home for family members.”
While Balber trumpeted his client’s investment acumen as a reason for the sale, Reiss said that the $300,000 gain may have actually been a loss after other fees are included, raising questions about its use as an investment.
Donald Trump in the White House
“In the context of the Agalarovs’ portfolio this is probably a very small item so it was unlikely that this was considered a significant investment by the family,” he said.
While Reiss said there are no indications of wrongdoing on the Agalarov’s part, money laundering has become a persistent worry as multimillionaires and billionaires stash possibly ill-begotten cash in Manhattan apartments.
The building where the Agalarov family sold their apartment has previously been involved in accusations of wrongdoing over allegedly illicit money from the former Soviet Union.
The government of Kazakhstan filed suit against the building’s developer Chetrit Group in October 2015, saying that former officials Mukhtar Ablyazov and Viktor Khrapunov had used the property to funnel $40 million allegedly stolen from the Central Asian country.
Chetrit reached an unspecified with Kazakhstan shortly after, saying that the “dispute has been amicably resolved.”
More than $3 million of Ablyazov and Khrapunov’s money also into the Trump SOHO project through the future President’s partner Bayrock after the pair were charged with theft, according to a Financial Times investigation last year.
Balber told the News that he was not aware of the allegations that were made against Chetrit.
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