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    Thursday, August 31, 2017

    More Thoughts On Trump-Cohen-Sater Cabal And 2016 Election

    I just wanted to do a quick follow-up on the recent news about the contacts between Trump associates Felix Sater and Michael Cohen and the Russians during the Presidential campaign. For a complete history on Sater and Cohen, I suggest you go over to TPM where Josh Marshall has detailed their long and sordid careers. Suffice it to say, Cohen and Sater have been facilitating Russian money laundering for decades. In addition, Sater apparently gets a free pass from the government for the work he did for the CIA and/or FBI in the wake of 9/11.

    Last February, I wrote a post that speculated the best explanation for the FBI's seemingly reluctance to pursue Trump's Russian connections during the election was simply because that investigation would uncover some important intelligence sources and methods and associated illegality, either by the intelligence agencies or the people they were tracking or both. Trump's long history of building in New York gave him great insight into mob activities that may have been quite helpful to Rudy Giuliani and the New York FBI office in their efforts to destroy the mob families of New York. Sater's work in the aftermath of 9/11 was clearly of importance to US intelligence services at a time when those services were largely unrestrained and clearly breaking US law. When Trump discovered Michael Cohen was buying Trump apartments with laundered Russian money, it was his ticket out of bankruptcy after his casino failures and the fact that the big banks refused to do business with him any longer.

    So, when Cohen put Trump together with his boyhood friend Sater, it put together two informants who had been quite useful to the government and intelligence services. And it probably gave the intelligence services a way to monitor Russian money laundering and in some way track what was happening among Putin's oligarchs.

    With the news that Trump had signed a letter of intent to put his name on a Moscow tower that was being built by a company financed by Russian banks under sanction, it is hard to believe that US intelligence services were not aware of that transaction. This raises the obvious question of why the FBI constantly downplayed Trump's Russian connections while at the same time elevating Clinton's email server into major scandal during the election.

    In retrospect, it seems clear that virtually everyone involved in the decisions regarding Clinton and Trump during the campaign was compromised by their connections to Sater in particular and, by association, Trump. As described above, Sater and Trump probably had potentially damaging information on the FBI and/or the CIA. Comey clearly went out of his way to protect the intelligence services accordingly. What I had not realized was that Loretta Lynch was also compromised by Sater as she had vouched for him as an important intelligence asset in the post 9/11 environment in her capacity as US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Lynch apparently flipped Sater back in the late 1990s when he was engaged in a stock swindling scam and oversaw his case going forward. She assisted Sater in trying to get his sentenced reduced in that case and, in her confirmation hearings for Attorney General, she declared that Sater provided "information crucial to national security."

    The fact that Trump knew Comey was compromised could also explain why he felt comfortable enough to ask for his "loyalty". It also explains Trump's attacks on the intelligence services in general. In essence, those were warning messages letting the services know he had something on them. In addition, the way Cohen and Sater refer to Trump as "our boy" may also indicate that Trump was almost a junior partner in their money laundering and intelligence scheme.

    It should also be noted that both the US and UK have been remarkably uninterested in investigating dirty foreign money that has financed massive real estate buildings in both countries. A recent expose by Buzzfeed showed that the Russians had possibly murdered over a dozen Russian citizens on UK soil over the last few year and the UK government seemed complicit in covering that up. According to on US official, "The Brits made a deal years ago that the Russians could come in and spend money on housing and stimulate the economy and they’ll look the other way."  It seems that the US was certainly also prepared to look the other way when it came to Russian investments in real estate.

    For those officials like Comey and Lynch, the election campaign was all about CYA. No one, not even Trump himself, really believed he would win the election. Therefore, making sure that all the dirty laundry did not get aired during the campaign was of primary importance. Most of what I've written here is admittedly speculation. But as the dirty laundry finally gets aired, it will be interesting to see what exactly does come out.

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