Trump thanks Putin for kicking US Embassy workers out of Russia

This is the first thing Trump has said that made me laugh.

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Mueller is now looking into ties between Russia and Trump's business transactions

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has widened his investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Mueller is looking into Trump's financial dealings with with unsavory Russian businessman, including mobsters and corrupt Kremlin officials.

Mueller has his work cut out for him -- the August/September issue of The New Republic has an in-depth article about Trump's "decades-long ties to Russian mafia." Only someone brainwashed by ideology could read this article and not think Trump has been up to no good for a very long time.

From The New Republic's press release:

In “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” veteran journalist Craig Unger details how the Russian mafia has used the president’s properties—including Trump Tower and the Trump Taj Majal—as a way to launder money and hide assets. “Whether Trump knew it or not,” writes Unger, “Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling, and racketeering, but even as a base of operations for their criminal activities. In the process, they propped up Trump’s business and enabled him to reinvent his image. Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.”

Based entirely on the extensive public record, the piece offers the most comprehensive overview of the deep debt that the president owes the Russian mafia. “The extent of Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia—and the degree to which he relied on them for his entire business model—is striking,” says Eric Bates, editor of the New Republic.

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Russian billionaire Deripaska paid Manafort to 'greatly benefit' Putin before Manafort joined Trump campaign

Before he worked for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, Paul Manafort worked for a Russian billionaire to help promote Russian president Vladimir Putin's agenda in the United States.

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Jeff Sessions can't recuse himself from Colbert's monologue

"Big news today from the Kremlin... er, the White House." Colbert has a field day with Lyin' Jeff. "You don't have to recuse yourself, you've already fucked yourself." Read the rest

The Trump-Russia scandals: a quick visual guide

Trump keeps saying that the media's relentless investigations into Russia's corrupting influence on the White House is "fake news," but the media keeps finding out more and more about how Trump and his inner circle have cozied up to Russian and eastern European mobsters and kleptocrats. This new infographic from Vox is a simple guide to what's been unearthed so far, but it doesn't include recent revelations into billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' role as a vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, which is co-owned by a dear friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and is run by the former head of the mega-money-laundering Deutsche Bank. It also doesn't reveal this bit of news reported today in the NY Times: "Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador." (Kislyak is quite the belle of the ball in Trumplandia.)

It's stinking to high heaven in the White House, and even the Trump Aftershave everyone is wearing can't mask the odor of large-scale malfeasance. Read the rest

Rachel Maddow connects the dots between a billionaire Russian oligarch and a bizarre Donald Trump deal

Why would a savvy Russian billionaire buy a tear-down, mold-infested house from Donald Trump for $100 million, and what does it have to do with newly confirmed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross?

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New secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross has ties to illicit Russian finance

Billionaire Wilbur Ross, 79, was sworn in today as secretary of commerce. According to DC Report, Ross' "role as Vice Chair and a leading investor in the Bank of Cyprus, the largest bank in Cyprus, one of the key offshore havens for illicit Russian finance," makes him a poor choice for this position. But the Senate voted 72-27 to confirm him anyway.

Ross’ involvement in the Bank of Cyprus raises many questions about his judgment, but also about the Trump Administration’s seemingly endless direct and indirect connections with friends and associates of Vladimir Putin, who all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies say conspired to interfere in the November 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Donald Trump.

Whether or not these connections involve any criminality, these are the kind of relationships that most American business people would not tolerate for 30 seconds.

After all, as discussed below, since the 1990s Cyprus has served as one the top three offshore destinations for Russian and former Soviet Union flight capital, most of it motivated by tax dodging, kleptocracy, and money laundering. As of 2013, just before the banking crisis, Russian deposits accounted for at least a third of all bank deposits in Cyprus. As one leading newspaper put it, “Russian money is in fact at the heart of the island’s economy.”

The Bank of Cyprus caters to the island nation’s large Russian population. Nor is Ross’ Bank of Cyprus in particular – now probably at least half owned by Russians, as we‘ll see -- any stranger to money laundering, tax dodging, or odious finance.

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