Meanwhile, 4chan/pol is aware, and is of mixed opinion - there's the "all fags are pedos/fags are degenerates" crowd who are happy about him coming under fire, while the "He's feeding people babby's first redpill constantly" side (who see him as a gateway to fascism/anti-Semitism) are saying FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT WE MUST DEFEND OUR OWN, etc. And, for the record, one of these interviews is over a year old, and people covering the Milo beat all knew, and CPAC knew, which means they made their choice knowing this and are fine with it. Never forget that.
As for the other news...
There is some US inquiry into the Russian hacking; it involves three FBI probes, we're told by Reuters. We have a story of a HUD official (a political one, so this isn't criminal) fired for writing an anti-Trump piece in his own time. There's more coverage of the Trump rally on Saturday that the fascist channers loved, some news about possible draft immigration orders which are expectably harsh in various ways; Haaretz declares that it's time to stop pretending Donald Trump isn't an anti-Semite; the Mormon Church has jumped in against trans rights, and more.
Item 10 is pretty disturbing in an operational way; it speaks to yet another attempt to consolidate power around political operatives rather than diplomats, and this is definitely something to watch for.
Really, there's a fair bit, and I need to get to bed, and you know the drill. Click through, you'll find it all below the fold.
----- 1 -----
U.S. inquiries into Russian election hacking include three FBI probes
Reuters News | Sat Feb 18, 2017 | 4:30pm EST
By Joseph Menn | SAN FRANCISCO
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is pursuing at least three separate probes relating to alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential elections, according to five current and former government officials with direct knowledge of the situation.
While the fact that the FBI is investigating had been reported previously by the New York Times and other media, these officials shed new light on both the precise number of inquires and their focus.
The FBI's Pittsburgh field office, which runs many cyber security investigations, is trying to identify the people behind breaches of the Democratic National Committee's computer systems, the officials said. Those breaches, in 2015 and the first half of 2016, exposed the internal communications of party officials as the Democratic nominating convention got underway and helped undermine support for Hillary Clinton.
The Pittsburgh case has progressed furthest, but Justice Department officials in Washington believe there is not enough clear evidence yet for an indictment, two of the sources said.
Meanwhile the bureau’s San Francisco office is trying to identify the people who called themselves “Guccifer 2” and posted emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account, the sources said. Those emails contained details about fundraising by the Clinton Foundation and other topics.
Beyond the two FBI field offices, FBI counterintelligence agents based in Washington are pursuing leads from informants and foreign communications intercepts, two of the people said.
This counterintelligence inquiry includes but is not limited to examination of financial transactions by Russian individuals and companies who are believed to have links to Trump associates. The transactions under scrutiny involve investments by Russians in overseas entities that appear to have been undertaken through middlemen and front companies, two people briefed on the probe said.
Reuters could not confirm which entities and individuals were under scrutiny.
----- 2 -----
HUD official fired for criticizing Trump
By Rene Marsh and Eugene Scott, CNN
Updated 5:29 PM ET, Fri February 17, 2017
A political appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development was fired for an op-ed he wrote before the election that criticized then-candidate Donald Trump, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
In an October op-ed for The Hill, Republican consultant Shermichael Singleton said Trump was taking the Republican Party to a "new moral low."
"We allowed that hostile takeover to happen on our watch," he wrote. "This individual recognized a moment of great disparity in the Republican base and, like cancer, attacked and spread, consuming everything in his path."
Singleton's piece criticized Trump's rhetoric about African Americans during the campaign. After the election, the 26-year-old worked with Ben Carson during his confirmation process to become HUD secretary. Singleton, who is African American, then joined the department as a senior adviser.
But on Wednesday, he was brought into the chief of staff's office and fired, the source familiar with the situation told CNN. Singleton was told he was being dismissed because of the op-ed and was escorted from the building, according to the source, who also said Carson was surprised by the move and only learned of it after the fact.
A HUD spokesperson confirmed Singleton no longer works at the department.
Singleton declined to comment. The White House and the HUD chief of staff didn't respond to CNN's request for comment.
News of Singleton's dismissal was first reported by The New York Times.
----- 3 -----
‘I’m a Dead Man Walking’
Mark Sanford has nothing left to lose. And he’s here to haunt Donald Trump.
By Tim Alberta | Politico
February 17, 2017
None of this feels normal. The congressman greets me inside his Washington office wearing a wrinkly collared shirt with its top two buttons undone, faded denim jeans and grungy, navy blue Crocs that expose his leather-textured feet. Nearing the end of our 30-minute interview, he cancels other appointments and extends our conversation by an hour. He repeatedly brings up his extramarital affair, unsolicited, pointing to the lessons learned and relationships lost. He acknowledges and embraces his own vulnerability—political, emotional and otherwise. He veers on and off the record, asking himself rhetorical questions, occasionally growing teary-eyed, and twice referring to our session as “my Catholic confessional.”
And then he does the strangest thing of all: He lays waste to the president of his own party.
His policy résumé is beyond reproach to those on the right: He was D.C.’s dashing fiscal hawk during his first stint in the House, and then, after term-limiting himself and returning home to South Carolina, he won the governorship, vetoed hundreds of measures from his Republican-led Legislature and gained fame by refusing to accept President Barack Obama’s stimulus funding in 2009. His political instincts are razor sharp: Sanford has never lost a campaign, which, joined with his ideological mooring, once made him a conservative favorite for the presidency. And his personal failings—namely, the infamous 2009 affair with Argentinian television journalist María Belén Chapur—appear to have been forgiven by the people of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, who sent him back to Congress in a 2013 special election before re-electing him in 2014 and 2016.
His digs at Trump cover the spectrum. The president, Sanford says, “has fanned the flames of intolerance.” He has repeatedly misled the public, most recently about the national murder rate and the media’s coverage of terrorist attacks. He showed a lack of humility by using the National Prayer Breakfast to ridicule Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Most worrisome, Sanford says, Trump is unprepared for the presidency.
“You want to give anybody the benefit of the doubt. I mean, I’ve learned that through my own trials and tribulations,” Sanford says, one of numerous nods to the Appalachian Trail episode. “But if you see a pattern of over and over and over again, wherein facts don’t matter and you can just make up anything ... ” He stops himself. “Our republic was based on reason. The Founding Fathers were wed to this notion of reason. It was a reason-based system. And if you go to a point wherein it doesn’t matter, I mean, that has huge implications in terms of where we go next as a society.”
He is the unlikeliest enforcer of honesty in politics. He knows it. And so do those in South Carolina and Washington who dream of finishing off Sanford once and for all. A crippling sex scandal ought to ruin any politician’s career. Crossing Trump can be treacherous. But as he braces for a blockbuster primary challenge in 2018—while quietly eyeing other potential electoral conquests—it’s his self-awareness that makes Mark Sanford the most elusive target in the Republican Party.
----- 4 -----
Four weeks into his presidency, Trump returns to campaign mode
The president used an adoring crowd in an airport hangar to project his strength after a rocky first month in the White House.
By Josh Dawsey | Politico
02/18/17 08:33 PM EST
Melbourne, Fla. — President Donald Trump's rally here featured all the classic signatures of his campaign: boasts about his poll numbers and magazine appearances, grandiose promises of quick action, protesters lining the streets, stinging attacks on the media, false statements and a large, roaring and adoring crowd that loved every minute.
It was a raucous campaign appearance — light on specifics and heavy on braggadocio — just four weeks after he was inaugurated and almost four years before he faces re-election.
Stung by the difficulties of governing, a cascade of negative news coverage and falling poll numbers, the president appeared in a flag-draped airport hangar to show that his supporters still love him and castigate the media for covering his missteps.
On the short plane trip here from his weekend stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump said the speech would be about unifying the country. It was instead harsh and pitted the crowd, on his side, against a number of supposed foes — judges, unknown gang members and drug cartels allegedly pouring in from other countries, terrorists, Democrats, and most often, reporters.
"We are going to expose them for what they are," Trump said of the news media, which sat in a pen as his supporters heckled. At one moment, the president said the nation’s news media made up sources and stories and that his supporters should live "free" without the media.
His supporters seemed to think his problems so far in office were all one conspiracy against him. "He's keeping all his promises, said Ligia Rodriguez, who lives near the rally. "He's done more in one month than Obama did in eight years."
Her husband, Miguel, stood nearby. He also said Trump was doing a good job in office, and "he's saying what everyone wants to hear, and it's a good message."
----- 5 -----
Exclusive: DHS chief proposes prosecuting parents of children smuggled into U.S.
February 18, 2017 3:18 PM
By Franco Ordoñez | McClatchy
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has drafted new orders to agency heads that would considerably expand the number of immigrants who could be detained and deported under new executive orders President Donald Trump signed last month.
Under the proposed orders, which were contained in two memorandums written for distribution to agency heads and dated Friday, hundreds of thousands more immigrants in the United States illegally would be subject to what’s known as expedited removal proceedings to quickly get them out of the country.
But a senior White House official said the memos were not yet final, that White House lawyers had objected to some of their provisions, and that while the memos were DHS’s “final cut” at implementing Trump’s orders, they had not yet received White House approval.
“The White House has the final say,” said the official, who declined to be identified by name.
The draft orders also would affect thousands of children who arrived in the United States as “unaccompanied minors” and were subsequently reunited with a parent living in the country illegally. Those children would no longer be protected against deportation, and their parents would be subject to criminal prosecution if they had paid human traffickers to bring their children across the border – a common scenario now.
----- 6 -----
Yes, Donald Trump IS an anti-Semite
We have to just come out with it, those of us who are American Jews in the media. It's time we made Trump bathe in his own batshit.
Bradley Burston | Haaretz
Feb 18, 2017 9:20 PM
If you're Jewish and you're still a Trump person after this week, you can stop reading this right now. It's not for you.
After this week, there are only two kinds of American Jews left. There's the denomination called Trump Jews, and there's the rest of us.
No more. Now we know. That Thursday news conference stripped things down to where everyone could see it: Donald Trump IS an anti-Semite.
It's time for people like me to just come out with it – particularly those of us who are American Jews who work in the media, those of us who've honestly been trying hard to be as kind and careful and and nuanced as we could.
It's time we made him bathe in his own batshit.
Cowed by years of having the charge of anti-Semitism used as a weapon by the Jewish right in a relentless effort to silence the left, we found every intellectual excuse not to apply the charge to Trump.
We gave him every break. Like the egghead freiers that we are, we cautioned that the evidence for his being an anti-Semite was weak, anecdotal. But we said this knowing that his racist, thunderously bigoted presidential campaign, with its emphasis on media-bashing and high-profile Jewish villains at the center of conspiracy theories, unleashed the most dangerous wave of overt anti-Semitism in the United States since the 1930s.
And the only thing he did about it, was to smile and let it help him ride it to the White House.
We've been such nice little Jews for him for so long. We let him say – and not retract – the following: "Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day."
That was just the beginning. We let him off the hook time after time after time.
We largely let him get away with marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day by pointedly omitting any mention of the Jews, then choosing that very day to issue an order choking off immigration of non-Christian refugees fleeing genocide.
The neo-Nazis and Klan people and the sewer trolls adored that.
Just like they loved it this week when Trump dog-whistled several times that he really didn't want to have to fire his national security adviser Michael Flynn – a favorite of Jew-hating white supremacists and a man who once re-tweeted a message to the pro-Clinton "Democratic machine" warning "Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore."
Flynn later deleted the tweet. But the message got through to the receptive 'alt-right.' And this week, Trump's did too: It was the media who got my man Flynn fired – and we all know who owns the media, don't we?
During the Thursday news conference, Trump declared himself "the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life."
Let's say he believes that. Just as he sincerely believes that "nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump" and that he has "great respect" for Mexicans.
That doesn't make it true.
What is true – and as an obsessive CNN viewer he knows this – is that there have been scores of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, his own followers have issued rafts of threatening, Nazi-themed tweets against his Jewish critics, and he has done nothing, nothing at all, to condemn them or act against them.
On the contrary. Here is a political animal with a superhuman sense for what and whom his followers want him to say, do and attack. When he was out working the crowds, he knew in his bones that white supremacist anti-Semites saw him as their great hope. He fed them all the red meat he could dish out.
You can argue that a man disassociated from reality cannot be held accountable for the consequences of his actions, or for enabling or encouraging others to do his dirty work for him. Dirty work which works to his direct advantage.
No more. A man who initiates, fuels, and fans anti-Semitism, a man who is in a direct position to combat it and does not, is, in my view, an anti-Semite.
----- 7 -----
Sweden has no idea what Trump meant when he said, ‘You look at what’s happening … in Sweden’
By Rick Noack | The Washington Post
February 19, 2017
If you believe the media in Sweden, Friday night was relatively uneventful. Among the most noteworthy headlines in the country were reports that a popular Swedish singer had technical problems during a music competition.
But if you believe President Trump, something happened in Sweden on Friday night that deserved the attention of the world. However, nobody knows what that might be, least of all the Swedes.
----- 8 -----
Mormon Church joins fight against federal transgender rights directive
By Erin Rook · LGBTQ Nation
Saturday, February 18, 2017
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has formally aligned itself with opponents of a federal directive granting transgender students the right to use the restroom or locker room that aligns with their gender.
After ongoing efforts to find compromise with the LGBTQ community, the LDS (Mormon) Church joined six other religious groups in filing an amicus brief in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board — the case brought by transgender teen Gavin Grimm that’s headed to the U.S. Supreme Court next month.
“The brief concludes by arguing that, instead of imposing an outcome Congress did not intend, the Supreme Court should allow Congress and state legislatures to reach compromises where transgender persons can be appropriately accommodated without infringing on the free exercise of religion, while seeking fairness for all,” church spokesman Eric Hawkins told the Salt Lake City Tribune. “Sustainable results will be more likely achieved if citizens and lawmakers are left free to address gender identity in ways that preserve the nation’s priceless heritage of religious freedom.”
But Neca Allgood, a Mormon whose son is transgender, told the Tribune she doesn’t see it as an issue of religious freedom.
“I was not at all clear on why the church would choose to take a position on that interpretation of Title IX,” Allgood said. “It doesn’t seem like a religious liberty question to me.”
----- 9 -----
Gutiérrez On Being Asked To Leave ICE Meeting In Capitol By Speaker Ryan And Chairman Goodlatte
Office of Representative Gutiérrez
February 16, 2017
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) issued a statement in response to being excluded from a meeting in the U.S. Capitol with Acting Director Thomas Homan of ICE. Rep. Gutiérrez was asked to leave the meeting by staffers for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the request of Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Speaker Ryan. Several other Members were excluded from the meeting with the ICE official, including Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Lou Correa (D-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Juan Vargas (D-CA).
Rep. Gutiérrez was among the Members who requested the meeting with the Acting ICE Director in a letter on February 11 (http://bit.ly/2lYxChf). A meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other Democrats in the House was cancelled at the last minute by ICE. It was rescheduled to today and turned into a Republican-led meeting run by Chairman Goodlatte and was apparently made invitation-only. Members were told by Chairman Goodltte at the meeting that any further meetings with ICE officials would have to be cleared by the Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman.
----- 10 -----
State Dept. carries out layoffs under Rex Tillerson
By Margaret Brennan, Kylie Atwood - CBS News
February 17, 2017, 12:44 AM
While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday.
Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed.
These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.
There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats.
Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner - who has no regional expertise or diplomatic experience - had a greater role in the meeting than the Senate-confirmed secretary of State.
Rex Tillerson was absent Wednesday but did join Kushner and Netanyahu for dinner the night before. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon was on the official schedule to take his place but was then shut out of the White House meeting.
In an emailed statement to CBS News, a State Department official explained that the decision to modify the meeting was made at the White House to “allow for a more personal discussion.” That presumably is a reference to the long-standing friendship between Trump, Kushner, and Netanyahu.
That particular incident was disheartening to many State Department officials who hope that Mr. Tillerson - who had a long career as Exxon Mobil’s CEO - will bring his worldly experience and management to a building that has been demoralized by the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy.
Two sources also told CBS News that Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the Counselor of the State Department and one of the last remaining senior officials, was informed that she will be let go. She is a career foreign service officer who had served as an ambassador under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Her staff was told that Secretary Tillerson does not intend to fill the counselor’s position anytime soon.
“It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,” explains Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secetary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month. Countryman worries that the White House is displaying an intent not rely on the State Department for foreign policy in that no one will be in place to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office.
This may be what President Trump was referring to when he repeatedly said that “our people” are not yet in place at U.S. government agencies. He blamed the leaks of embarrassing White House transcripts of his phone calls with foreign leaders - including difficult conversations he had with Mexico and Australia - on officials who had previously worked for the Obama Administration.
----- 11 -----
The American Experiment in Exile
By Josh Marshall
Published February 19, 2017, 1:25 PM EDT
Talking Points Memo
Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) comments at the security conference in Munich in recent days garnered the most attention in the US press. But the really significant comments and warnings came from Germany and France. The countries' defense and foreign ministers respectively warned the US about trying to sow divisions in Europe or even break up the European Union. (It is worth remembering that strong words aside, McCain is still providing President Trump with strong legislative support and for all hist outspokenness was not even willing to utter President Trump's name in his speeches, despite being the main target of his remarks. He's got a good way to go.) As the storied and long-serving retired US diplomat Nicholas Burns put it in a tweet, America's erstwhile European allies are now worried about America as a threat to the international order.
The comments from the European ministers should not surprise us. We've discussed this before. While it has received relatively little attention in the US press, the White House has been pursuing an open policy of destabilizing the European Union and using the United Kingdom's exit from the EU to pry the EU apart with a series of bilateral trade agreements with the US. Whether this is feasible is another question; this is the intent. Why the White House - specifically President Trump and Steve Bannon - would want to do this is an important question. The fact that this aim lines up perfectly with Russian foreign policy goals speaks for itself. But it can equally plausibly be explained by the desire to destroy internationalist, liberal and largely cosmopolitan institutions to pave the way for a new global order based on competing blood and soil nationalisms. The US government is now in the hands of a faction or party the rise of which much of our statecraft has spent almost seventy years trying to prevent from coming to power in the states of Europe.
----- 12 -----
Leaked Trump tape: 'You are the special people'
Exclusive audio shows how Trump lets loose at his clubs — inviting guests to join him on staff interviews.
By Darren Samuelsohn and Annie Karni
02/18/17 08:05 AM EST
President Donald Trump, living alone inside the White House, often hungers for friendly interaction as he adjusts to the difficult work of governance. At his clubs, he finds what’s missing.
That showed last November at a cocktail and dinner reception celebrating longtime members of his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. Deep into the process of meeting potential Cabinet nominees, the president-elect invited partygoers to stop by the next day to join the excitement.
“We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd, according to an audiotape of his closed-to-the-press remarks, obtained by POLITICO from a source in the room. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government."
"We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing secretary of state,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable … so you might want to come along.”
As he prepares to spend the third straight weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the tape provides a window into how Trump conducts himself away from the prying press and among the loyal faces of his club.
----- 13 -----
Neo-Nazis blame “the Jews” for Michael Flynn’s resignation
Pro-Trump Anti-Semites Call Flynn “One Of Our Best Guys” Who Has Been "Quite Critical Of The Jews"
Eric Hananoki, Media Matters (reprinted by Salon)
14 February 2017
Neo-Nazi writers are upset that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has resigned from his position as national security adviser. The anti-Semites are lionizing Flynn as “one of our best guys” and a “true patriot” who has “been quite critical of the Jews in the past.” They are also lamenting that his resignation is “definitely a loss … to the Jews” and are speculating that he was pushed out by “more subversive elements in the White House.”
As CNN noted, Flynn resigned on the night of Feb. 13 “after reports surfaced that the Justice Department warned the Trump administration last month that Flynn misled administration officials regarding his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.”
The disgraced former national security adviser has repeatedly pushed toxic views. Last July, Flynn shared a tweet that read in part, “Not anymore, Jews. Not Anymore.” (He later apologized.) He claimed on Twitter that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” Flynn also endorsed the work of racist author Mike Cernovich, who has frequently pushed white nationalist themes on his Twitter account (many of which he later deleted). Cernovich has claimed that “diversity is code for white genocide,” “Blacks use guns for murder. Whites use guns to kill themselves,” and “Diversity is bad for national security.”
Members of the white nationalist movement unsurprisingly applauded Flynn’s appointment to national security adviser. They are now mourning the loss of “one of our best guys.”
Daily Stormer: Flynn “Is One Of Our Best Guys. … This Is Definitely A Loss.”
The Daily Stormer is a neo-Nazi website that worships Adolf Hitler, posts defenses of the Holocaust, and attacks Jewish people as “kikes.” Editor Andrew Anglin wrote that Flynn’s resignation “is dumb. Team Trump shouldn’t give these people an inch. Flynn is one of our best guys. And he did nothing wrong.”
----- 14 -----
The Utterly Insufficient Efforts to Separate Trump from His Businesses
By Sheelah Kolhatkar | The New Yorker
February 13, 2017
If there had been any ambiguity about how far Donald Trump was prepared to press his role as President in service of the business interests of himself and his family, it was laid to rest on February 9th by his most visible surrogate, Kellyanne Conway. “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,” Conway now famously said on Fox News. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
This stunning promotional message (for which Conway was reportedly “counselled”) came after Trump publicly scolded the retailer Nordstrom, which made what appears to be a routine business decision to drop Ivanka Trump’s fashion line due to underperforming sales. Other retailers had already taken steps to reduce the Ivanka brand’s prominence in their stores; the discount chains T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s sent notes to their employees last week, according to the Times, instructing them to stop promoting the merchandise separately and to mix it in with other labels. Neiman Marcus, a more upscale chain, said that is was phasing out Ivanka’s jewelry from its Web site. (The jewelry is still available at Lord & Taylor, along with the label’s clothing, shoes, and handbags, which are also sold at Macy’s.) According to Nordstrom, sales of the brand had been declining “steadily” during the last year—and especially since September, 2016—while other estimates showed sales plummeting at several retailers. That is hardly surprising given that its target customers are young professional women, many of whom have recoiled from Trump’s overt misogyny. Judging from his public messaging, Ivanka’s father, the President of the United States, feels that corporations should set aside their own economic interests if their business decisions might hurt his family. So far, Trump has behaved as if he believes he has a mandate to act this way, as if millions of voters chose him because they wanted to enrich his family and not theirs.
----- 15 -----
Learning Eye-Popping Details About Mr Sater
By Josh Marshall | Talking Points Memo
February 19, 2017, 10:53 PM EDT
As I noted in my previous post, I've been keenly interested in Donald Trump's association with Felix Sater going back to last Spring. I also knew he had been an FBI informant and leveraged that status to dramatically reduce his sentence in a major financial crime. I didn't realize until this evening that there were more details about this part of the story in the public domain than I'd realized. It's rather mind-blowing.
First, let's review a bit about Felix Sater. Sater was born in the Soviet Union in 1966 and emigrated to the US with his parents at the age of 8. He is an American citizen. He dropped out of college and began working as a stock broker. But in his late 20s he got into bar fight where he stabbed a fellow broker in the face with a shattered glass. He did time in prison for this attack. After he got out he got involved in a major securities fraud scheme (basically a 'pump and dump' operation) tied to the Genovese and Colombo crime families. He got caught. And that's where things get interesting.
After Sater got busted, somehow he managed to offer his services to the FBI and supposedly the CIA to work on their behalf purchasing stinger missiles and other weapons on the then wild and free-wheeling Russian black market. Whatever Sater was doing for the CIA in the black market arms smuggling world seems to have become much more important after 9/11 - thus Sater's high value to the US government.
I know that sounds all but incredible. The details of Sater's alleged work for the CIA are contained in this September 2012 article in The Miami Herald. A good bit of the story emerges from an account by Sater's accomplice, Salvatore Lauria. Lauria was Sater's accomplice in the pump and dump scheme and was also there the night he stabbed the guy in the face at the bar. And yes, we'll hear more from him in a moment. Because Lauria was also involved with Sater and Trump in the Trump SoHo building project.