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Yep. Paul's in Trouble

As I've mentioned a number of times and as recently as the piece I wrote last night, the FARA enforcement system has always been a bit of a joke. There are various ways to tiptoe around compliance and the folks in charge of the office - at least back when I was actively reporting on these kinds of stories - were hardly interested in aggressive enforcement. But having perused some more materials and talked to a few more people, I think Paul Manafort likely has serious legal problems on his hands.

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[ed.note: I wrote this post last night, prior to Paul Manafort's resignation from the Trump campaign. His departure doesn't change the story, if anything it tends to confirm it. But the rapidity and totality of his departure looks to me much more tied to his mounting legal trouble and efforts to protect Trump from those troubles than anything tied to the 'pivot' to Breitbartism or last night's regrets speech. There's also a big store of new information in this tour de force piece by Ken Vogel out this morning from Politico - particularly Manafort's connection to a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, with an apparent background in Russian intelligence, and Manafort's on-going and quite recent effort to get paid money he believes he's owed by the party of ouster pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. All the new information tends to confirm me in my belief that Manafort's 'business' in Ukraine is hardly unprecedented for a US political operative on the make. But it's the kind of stuff that seldom gets bright light investigative media attention or the kind of sustained legal attention it's now getting. That will likely end badly for at least Manafort.]

I wanted to provide some context for this new AP report outlining Manafort and company's influence campaign in the US on behalf of a now-deposed pro-Russian President of Ukraine. It's both more and less than it seems.

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Thanks A Lot, Paul!!!

Okay, I was up pretty late last night working on a post about Manafort, Ukraine, efforts to launder pilfered money out of Ukraine and into US real estate. But it's all pretty incendiary and I was trying to piece it all together and figured ... you know, I need to sleep on this and go over it again in the morning. Now, alas, probably seeming a lot less prescient and ahead of the news since we just heard a few minutes ago that Manafort has resigned from the Trump campaign. So thanks, dude. Thanks a lot. You could have waited a few more hours.

The Five Families of Derp

Journalists of all ideological stripes, from all places on the journalistic firmament, can be irredeemable sleaze balls. Bad behavior knows no political complexion or business model complexion. Believe me, I've seen a lot. But this story from Hunter Walker, one-time TPMer now with Yahoo Politics, illustrates something rather deep into the Breitbartian stream of right-wing journalism. It's journalism not as journalism but a sort of cartoonish ideological info-warfare, intermixed with various personal vendettas and generalized nonsense. If that sounds like a good match for the Trump campaign it is. But let's stick to the matter at hand, the topic of Hunter's article.

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No Wonder He's A Trumper

I knew I remembered the name ...

You've now heard about Joseph Schmitz, the Trump foreign policy advisor - one of five - who is now accused of making anti-Semitic remarks as a Pentagon employee a decade ago. Well, these claims are fairly credible since Schmitz grew up in a household of a notorious anti-Semite and racist. McClatchy lightly references some off color remarks about Jews from Schmitz's father. But the full force of the background isn't really noted. Rep. John G. Schmitz had the rare and almost comical distinction of being expelled from the John Birch Society for being too extreme, racist and anti-semitic. Yes, you read that right.

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Ads & the Demise of Gawker

You may have seen the news that just two days after the auction sale of Gawker Media in bankruptcy, the company's flagship site itself announced it will cease operations next week. That's jarring news on many fronts. I discussed some of them here in Tuesday's post about the importance of independent media. But there's another aspect of this that's worth addressing.

First, let me say I don't know really anything about Gawker's internal revenue data. So as it applies to Gawker, what I'm about to write is just an educated hunch. But in general terms what I'm going to describe is definitely true. I know it from long experience in the industry. And it's worth knowing as a reader as you think about media, why publications you read do what they do and so forth.

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