Let me share some thoughts on the significance of that blockbuster Times article from the weekend on that 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Don, Jr. and emissaries from Gulf monarchs offering to help candidate Trump’s campaign.
Since early this year we’ve heard a steady stream of reports about backchannel discussions and deals between key Trump advisors like Jared Kushner and leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. This part of the investigation broke into the open early this year after FBI agents working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller met George Nader at Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. on January 17th, 2018. Nader had arrived from abroad on his way to Mar-a-Lago for a celebration of the anniversary of Trump’s first year in office. He had become a close advisor to the White House, Trump, and Jared Kushner. Agents had warrants to seize his electronic devices. They questioned him for two hours. The upshot of the encounter was that Nader more or less immediately became a cooperating witness with the Mueller probe.
It soon emerged that it had been Nader, acting on behalf of the UAE, who had arranged that January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles which brought together Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev. As had long been suspected, it was an effort to build a backchannel to Russia. Nader had also made at least two visits to Moscow during the 2016 campaign as the emissary of the leader of the UAE.
Late last week, right-wing media outed the FBI informant who in 2016 talked to Trump campaign officials as part of the bureau’s efforts to learn about the campaign’s ties with Russia. That’s likely to hurt the bureau’s ability to recruit sources, especially those with access to information about the right.
But if anything, the fallout from the news has been even more damaging.
Good morning; happy Monday. Here’s what we have our eyes on this morning.
The Times and the Post both had stories up Friday evening on a topic which has been roiling right-wing media over the last week or more but is only now getting sustained attention in the mainstream press. It is also an example of the ways in which the cacophony of on-message pro-Trump media and talking heads can have a demonstrable and malign distorting effect on the news we receive and how we understand it. The topic here is the FBI’s use of an informant to talk to and solicit information from at least three Trump officials and advisors starting in the summer of 2016.
Lawyers represent many different clients. There’s a limit on how much we can infer from these relationships. But it is striking how many lawyers with extremely close ties to the Trump family, often longtime lawyers for President Trump himself, are also currently representing various foreign interests who the Special Counsel is now investigating in its probe. What I’m about to describe involves a slightly different set of people. But it is similar and to me quite notable. It comes from this new blockbuster Times article revealing offers of help from a group of Gulf princes which Donald Trump, Jr. apparently eagerly embraced.
Very interesting nugget of information here from Foreign Policy. Days before the raids on his office and homes on April 9th, Michael Cohen was meeting in Florida with Qatar’s Minister of Economy and Commerce.
First of all, this is not a criticism of Pete Williams, one of best network news reporters out there. It’s more a broader comment about how we deal with mass atrocity gun violence, how we think about its causes. A few moments ago, Pete Williams was on air on MSNBC providing the latest details of the shooting in Texas and the accused shooter, who is now in custody. Williams provided these latest details, including the suspect’s name and the fact that initial looks at his social media profiles show no evidence of connections to extremist groups, either foreign or domestic. Then he said that because there is no evidence of an extremist ideology, “why this happened, of course, remains a huge mystery.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to call off next month’s presidential summit in Singapore with President Trump over scheduled US-ROK military exercises which Kim had appeared earlier to say would not be an obstacle to the summit. Now the US seems to have given way and indeed scrapped the exercises.
Good morning and happy Friday. Here’s what we’re following today.
Under the Trump administration, the State Department took veteran career officials who were working on key issues like closing Gitmo and resettling refugees, and reassigned them to process FOIA requests.
Democrats have been asking questions about the reassignments for months. And now, Alice Ollstein reports exclusively, the State Department IG office has said it’s investigating the issue.