The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Paul Manafort had been ousted from Donald Trump’s inner circle by the end of November 2016, having lost his job as campaign chair in August after new allegations about his receiving secret payments from Ukraine emerged. But as private emails that were revealed publicly during Manafort’s 2018 fraud trial revealed, the former campaign chief was still in contact with Trump’s people after the 2016 election and was recommending personal contacts for top positions in the administration.

And when Manafort emailed Jared Kushner on Nov. 30, 2016 to recommend Steve Calk — who was charged in a new indictment on Thursday with giving Manafort millions of dollars in loans as part of an effort to bribe his way into a government position — the president’s son-in-law was enthusiastic.

“On it!” Kushner responded, as the emails showed:

Calk was the CEO of the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, and he reportedly helped Manafort get around $16 million of loans. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York allege in the newly unsealed indictment that he knew there was significant reason to think Manafort might not be able to pay back the money, but he authorized the transfers to obtain an administration post. Previously, Special Counsel Robert Mueller had charged Manafort with fraud for misleading the bank into giving him the loan, and prosecutors had suggested at the time that Calk was a co-conspirator.

Ultimately, Calk did not join the administration, though he did get on an economic advisory board for Trump’s campaign in August 2016, and prosecutors said he was interviewed by the Trump transition team in January 2017 for a top post in the Army, as Manafort requested. Manafort also suggested to other people for administration posts in the email who did not get picked.

But while Trump and the White House have tried to distance themselves from Manafort’s crimes, the new charges brought forward on Thursday emphasize how close the apparent scheme was to being successful. It also shows how Kushner, a political neophyte like his father-in-law, was at best open to being manipulated by a criminal into handing out top government positions. And while this particular Manafort scheme appears to have failed, it’s difficult to say whether he was successful in corruptly installing anyone else or if others managed to bribe their way into the executive branch.



Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Marchers at January 22 anti-vaccination demonstration in Washington, D.C>

Back when it was first gaining traction in the 1990s, the anti-vaccination movement was largely considered a far-left thing, attracting believers ranging from barter-fair hippies to New Age gurus and their followers to “holistic medicine” practitioners. And it largely remained that way … until 2020 and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As this Sunday’s “Defeat the Mandates” march in Washington, D.C., however, showed us, there’s no longer anything even remotely left-wing about the movement. Populated with Proud Boys and “Patriot” militiamen, QAnoners and other Alex Jones-style conspiracists who blithely indulge in Holocaust relativism and other barely disguised antisemitism, and ex-hippies who now spout right-wing propaganda—many of them, including speakers, encouraging and threatening violence—the crowd at the National Mall manifested the reality that “anti-vaxxers” now constitute a full-fledged far-right movement, and a potentially violent one at that.

Keep reading... Show less

Holocaust Memorial Group Excoriates RFK Jr Over Nazi Anti-Vax Rhetoric

Image via screengrab

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. continued to tarnish his family’s name with a speech at the anti-vaccine rally in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. Kennedy, who is suing Daily Kos over a user post reporting on his participation in an anti-mask rally in Germany that was organized and attended by Nazis, used Sunday’s high-profile (if not especially well-attended) event to … compare vaccination mandates to the Holocaust while spewing out a word salad of conspiracy theories.

“Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did. I visited in 1962 East Germany with my father, and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped. So it was possible. Many died [inaudible], but it was possible,” Kennedy said to what The Washington Post described as a crowd that had begun drifting away. “Today, the mechanisms are being put in place that will make it so none of us can run and none of us can hide. Within five years, we’re going to see 415,000 low-orbit satellites. Bill Gates said his 65,000 satellites alone will be able to look at every square-inch of the planet 24 hours a day. They’re putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behavior. Digital currency that will allow them to punish us from a distance and cut off our food supply.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}