05.21.2018 - 5:07 PM EDT

Fascinating new details on the Nader and Broidy’s role in the UAE/Saudi influence operation, what appears to be the Gulf component of the Mueller probe.

05.21.2018 - 3:57 PM EDT

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.

05.21.2018 - 12:24 PM EDT

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.

05.21.2018 - 12:23 PM EDT

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.

05.21.2018 - 9:58 AM EDT

Good morning; happy Monday. Here’s what we have our eyes on this morning.

05.20.2018 - 11:11 AM EDT

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.

05.19.2018 - 2:33 PM EDT

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.

05.18.2018 - 3:48 PM EDT

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.

05.18.2018 - 2:02 PM EDT

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.”

05.18.2018 - 12:41 PM EDT

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.

05.18.2018 - 10:47 AM EDT

Rudy Giuliani went on a bender this morning on CNN for nearly an hour: the key takeaways.

05.18.2018 - 10:04 AM EDT

Good morning and happy Friday. Here’s what we’re following today.

Trump fixer Michael Cohen, acting as a consultant for a major Trump inauguration donor,...
After a widespread backlash, Michigan Republicans are walking back their proposal for a Medicaid...
President Trump, in a meeting with top Justice Department officials Monday, was seeking that...
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that the Justice Department had...
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign used his recent “demand” that the Justice Department investigate...

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