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Take Three on Trump Dirty Tricks

I noted below that the Israeli private intelligence firm that Harvey Weinstein hired to dig up dirt and muzzle his accusers is now mounting some sort of operation against at least two Obama administration national security officials. The initial version of the story from The Guardian said they were hired by aides to President Trump. Another account from Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker went deeper but was less certain about who was paying the bill. One source told Farrow it was “part of Black Cube’s work for a private-sector client pursuing commercial interests related to sanctions on Iran.”

Now Black Cube is out with its third successive response to the story, which of course should be taken with some skepticism.

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Those Stories About Cohens/Shustermans Lending $26 Million Are Probably Wrong

This may seem a bit in the weeds. But if you’re trying to make sense of Michael Cohen’s role in all the money transactions being probed by the Feds, as well as the role of Fima Shusterman, his father-in-law, who appears to be his key connection into the Ukrainian immigrant money world, this is an important point.

There have been various reports that Cohen and Shusterman have loaned $26 million to the Shtayner family, another taxi baron family of Ukrainian immigrants who live in New York City but own a cab business based in Chicago. The story is that Cohen lent the Shtayner’s $6 million since 2012 and Fima Shusterman has lent them $20 million over the last eight months. This is the story according to the AP and also the weekend piece in the Times.

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GOP Fighting To Protect Right To Gerrymander

With the next round of redistricting approaching after the 2020 Census, we’re seeing powerful movements in a number of states to end gerrymandering and ensure districts are drawn more fairly.

So it’s no surprise, as Allegra Kirkland reports, that the GOP is mobilizing to protect their right to rig the maps.

The Dates Fit Together

I want to follow up on a point I made over the weekend: the Trump Family’s decisive turn to paying cash as opposed to financing their projects with debt starting in 2006 isn’t just an odd and hard to explain in itself. The shift also dovetails almost perfectly with his shift to reliance on money from Russia and Ukraine. 2006 is also the year when Michael Cohen went to work for the President. It’s also the year the Trump Soho development project got underway.

There are still some important qualifiers to the story.

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Stunning Developments on Trump/Private Black Ops Oppo Targeting Obama Staffers

We have a pretty stunning development about aides to Donald Trump apparently (though they deny it) hiring the same Israeli dirty ops/private intel firm that Harvey Weinstein used to cover up his history to mount an operation against public supporters of the Iran deal.

We start with this story in The Guardian. It’s very hedged and key details are not included. But the gist is that aides to Donald Trump hired an Israeli security firm to dig up dirt on two prominent supporters of the Iran nuclear deal. They are Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, both Obama administration national security hands who were involved in the negotiation. They both continue to be prominent supporters of it into the Trump era. Last night I said that it sounded like Black Cube, the firm that surveilled and ran black ops operations against Harvey Weinstein’s accusers on his behalf.

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Where's Rudy Getting the Money?

I mentioned a few days ago that just last March Rudy Giuliani went to Albania to speak before an Iranian exile group which is widely regarded as a cult and was for many years a US-government designated terrorist group. Giuliani is a long-time recipient of money (for speeches and lobbying) from the MEK and its various front groups. (There’s no word yet on what he was paid if anything for the March appearance.)

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More Alabama Sheriff Craziness...

We recently wrote about Todd Entrekin, the Alabama sheriff accused of taking over $750,000 for inmates’ food and using it to buy a beach-house.

But when it comes to abuses of power, another sheriff in the state is giving Entrekin a run for his money. Ana Franklin took $160,000 also meant for inmates’ food and invested it in a sketchy used-car lot. She hasn’t accounted for an additional tens of thousands of dollars she said went to charity. And when a local blogger exposed her, she had the blogger’s source arrested.

Allegra Kirkland has the crazy details.