You’ve probably only heard his name if you’re very deep into the arcana of the Trump/Russia probe or if you keep up on the New York City taxi business. But the deal Evgeny “Gene” Freidman struck today with state prosecutors is likely very bad news for Michael Cohen and, perhaps at least indirectly, Donald Trump.
Here’s the story.
Key moments on the collapsing North Korean summit and “spies” in the Trump campaign from President Trump’s just completed press appearance…
This is perhaps my favorite bizarre nugget of information of the last 24 hours – and there are many. President Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer is a foreign agent for the government of Qatar. Or at least he was last year when a lot of the shenanigans we’re discussing were happening.
Good morning. Here’s what we’re following today.
Yesterday I mentioned this must-read report from the AP filling out the details over the backroom partnership between George Nader and Elliott Broidy. I wanted to flag a few points that merit your attention.
As the U.S.-North Korea Summit on June 12th now seems increasingly in doubt, I wanted to review the timeline and what it tells us. Relations between the two countries appeared to take a dramatic turn on March 8th when President Trump chose to interpret a comment from a South Korean government official as a North Korean invitation to meet. Trump promptly accepted. This spurred two months of confidence-building measures and overtures, including a meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas at the DMZ and the release of three U.S. nationals imprisoned in the North.
Over the weekend I flagged this video clip of Fox Business News’ Maria Bartiromo previewing her weekend show. Today we picked up clips from the show itself. The gist in both cases is Bartiromo, once a reasonably well-respected business news journalist, is aping the wildest conspiracy theories about a ‘deep state’ conspiracy against President Trump. Watching the reaction to her comments put me in the mind of a topic I have been wanting to write about for some time but don’t yet know enough to fully capture it in its fullness.
There’s something about New York, New York City, that is, that is at the root of the Trump phenomenon. This comes from watching the Trump story unfold over the last three years. It also comes from my own experiences living here for fifteen years.
New York City is a liberal city, probably the most progressive big city in the country, as far as it goes. Yet its power structure, its money class includes a whole community of people with extreme wealth who live in a culture in which predation and acquisition is the norm.
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.