John Podesta, Clinton Democrats, and Ukraine

With the Russian and Ukranian situation back in American news with the revelations of Joe Biden’s son Hunter, I was reminded of the name of John Podesta. I had forgotten about him, although I had been trying to remember his name for a while now. He was a major player in these events, often acting as an intermediary and orchestrator. But after earlier having seen his name in the Mueller investigation, the part he played quickly disappeared from view. That made me suspicious since, to my mind, he demonstrated the most damning link in the chain of oligarchy. He was right in the middle of so many different scandals and had long been a powerful figure among the Clinton Democrats.

Robert Mueller gave immunity to Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, who in his capacity as the head of the Podesta group shared guilt with Paul Manafort. Criminal charges against Tony Podesta might have linked the Russian and Ukrainian scandal directly to top DNC leaders, specifically the Clinton and Biden families but maybe also Barack Obama. Yet the focus has been almost entirely on Manafort who only ever gets referred to in his former and rather brief role as Donald Trump’s campaign manager. That is odd in that Trump in 2014, of course, was not president nor yet a presidential candidate; heck, he was not even a Republican or maybe involved with Manafort in any way when Manafort in 2014 was engaged in this illegal activity as an undisclosed foreign agent. Then again, the two were part of the same social circle and crony network such as how, back in 1980, Trump hired Manafort’s Republican firm (he was their first client) and so maybe there is an old crony connection there (indeed Trump is a creature of the swamp), although supposedly Manafort had to reintroduce himself when he sought to become Trump’s campaign manager; as a side note, the Reagan campaign was another early client of this firm.

Nonetheless, during the 2014 Ukranian dealings, Trump presumably was still a Clinton Democrat, having not yet dreamed of a GOP coup and presidential power, whether or not he was ever complicit in any way with what was going on with the Clintonian Podesta Group. Certainly, Manafort was tied up with the Clinton Democrats at the time, since he personally hired the Podesta Group and directly worked with them, specifically Tony Podesta. Yes, it’s true that the two families, Trumps and Clintons, were tight; they attended each other’s social events, including weddings, and their daughters were bosom buddies. Trump had been supporting and funding the Clinton Democrats in the previous decades and, as far as I know, remained a Democrat until he decided to run as a Republican candidate and go against Hillary Clinton’s own political aspirations. Whatever was Trump’s involvement or not, it’s interesting that the Republican Manafort who was tied into the Clinton Democrat’s machinations decided to become the campaign manager of the former Clinton Democrat Trump, and so Manafort like the Podesta brothers offers a point of connection for all parties in this orbit of power games.

That still leaves open the motivations and agenda behind it all. Why was Manafort hiring what was essentially a Democratic firm started by the Podesta brothers with one of the brothers being in the top rank of Clinton Democrats? Manafort, along with Roger Stone, is a major Republican insider going back to the Reagan administration: “Other men key to the 1994 landslide’s strategy were fellow “Reagan boys” and lobbyists Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Those men would years later be key to getting Donald Trump elected president. He [Trump] was one of their firm Black, Manafort and Stone’s first clients thanks to infamous and later disbarred attorney Roy Cohn” (Donna Ladd & Nick Judin, Mississippi Lobbyists, Associates in Thick of Trump’s Ukraine-Russia Web); that firm would later add Democratic Peter Kelly as a named partner and so “It has often been said that the addition made the new firm — Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly — the first bipartisan lobbying shop in town” (Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Swamp Builders).

Manafort would appear as solidly Republican as they come, to the extent that he grew up as a Young Republican leader and his father, Paul Manafort Sr., was a Republican politician. On the other, hand he was known to lack any principles in his willingness to play both sides of the field, sometimes working simultaneously with competing candidates. Still, his ideological bent was clear. He was not a typical old school Republican but already at a young age was “trying to steer the party to the right” (Roig-Franzia) — maybe, in his transpartisan scheming, he was a force behind what also pushed the Democrats so far right, assuming the Clintons didn’t go willingly. It does get one wondering. Why else was he so deep into Clinton territory of a powerful Democratic lobbyist firm? Who exactly was working for whom and for what purpose and to what end? Why this bipartisan interest in Ukraine that made possible a strange form of bipartisan cooperation? The Podesta brothers, Clinton insiders possibly acting on behalf of the Clintons themselves, were choosing to work with Manafort, one of the worst Republican swamp creatures to ever haunt the halls of Washington power.

What is this seeming alliance between top RNC insiders and top DNC insiders in meddling in what is essentially the covert foreign policy operations of an extra-governmental deep state and international ruling elite? Both parties are deep in this scandal and one can imagine the skeletons in closets of dozens, if not hundreds, of other powermongers and plutocrats. What exactly is going on here? Maybe it has nothing to do with party politics at all. These conspirators were acting as mercenaries and sociopaths, not loyal partisans. All of these corrupt figures simply followed the money and in resource-rich Ukraine wealth overflows: “Like the inhabitants of all borderlands throughout history, many Ukrainians have learned to play one side against the other in securing money and power for themselves. Lavishing money on an American consultant with deep ties to the Republican establishment (like Manafort) or to the Democratic one (like Hunter Biden or Devine) can go a long way in securing influence in Washington and, hopefully, still more money in the form of American aid. The same can be done to secure the flow of Russian funds” (Julia Ioffe, Here’s Why Ukraine Pops Up in So Many U.S. Scandals).

In that case, the connection between the Trumps and the Clintons, between Manafort and Podesta, etc is simply what connects all plutocrats. In the end, they are a singular plutocracy and hence are part of a global oligarchy. Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter. As for Trump, it’s not clear that he is directly involved in any of this particular scandal. Just because he is a sleazy corporatist and crude narcissist who maybe should be impeached or even imprisoned for many other reasons it doesn’t mean he is guilty of every allegation against him. If anything, the Clintons seem more implicated in it all, even if they are more experienced and capable in maintaining plausible deniability. Keep an eye on John Podesta and see if his name comes up. He might be the key to it all. Or else he might represent a loose thread that, if pulled, could begin unraveling the web of control and silence.

It’s amusing for me to see these conspiracies discussed on the ‘mainstream’ corporate media. It is even getting mixed up in the campaign rhetoric of major candidates. In decades past, no matter how much evidence there was in support, such talk would have been dismissed as conspiracy theory. The only place where it used to be taken seriously was on the talk shows of those like Art Bell and Alex Jones. How much the world has changed. We are no longer arguing about the conspiracies being real but now the debate is over who is guilty or rather who is most guilty. No one is left who still doubts that our world is ruled by conspirators who wish to do us harm. We just need to figure out and agree upon who are these dangerous people and how to deal with them.

The problem is the government officials leading the investigations are often also creatures of the swamp. Asking someone like Robert Mueller or Nancy Pelosi to drain the swamp would be as meaningful as expecting Trump to fulfill this promise. Other than a populist uprising and revolt, the only thing that could have an impact is if and when the ruling elite turn on each other and the dark secrets begin spilling out.

* * *

Democratic Failure of the Democratic Party

Intriguingly, the Wikileaks dump showed that the email she wrote for this purpose was sent to John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri. I had forgotten about the details and, reading it again, it now stood out to me.

Podesta, along with his brother, is a high level DNC operative and powerful lobbyist. To show how much of an insider he is, consider the email (released by Wikileaks) he sent to George Soros and other plutocrats about a meeting they had on Democratic strategy to “Control the political discourse,” in which he wrote: “Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.” More recently, Podesta has been in the news because of his connection to the fiasco of Donald Trump’s cronies and the special counsel’s Russia investigation, by way of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Vin Weber. Podesta became a focus of the investigation because of his direct involvement in meddling with Ukranian politics, the reason Manafort and Gates are being charged for acting as unregistered foreign agents. In this activity, Podesta had meetings with Weber who is a former GOP congressman and also a powerful lobbyist.

The corruption connects corporate media to the party establishment and it crosses party lines. These kinds of well-connected figures, powerful and influential, are mercenaries deep within the party establishment and political structure. That is shown by how the two main party nominees, Clinton and Trump, were old family friends and political allies. But in politics as spectacle, all that matters is that they put on a good show so that the big biz media could play it 24/7 to increase their profits. Meanwhile, the real action happens behind the scene, which in this case was Clintonites controlling the DNC and sabotaging Sanders’ campaign.

Triangulating Manafort — Obama, Clinton and Ukraine
by Andrew McCarthy

In 2014, NABU alerted the bureau to a ledger said to have belonged to Yanukovych, bête noire of the new Ukrainian government. The ledger purports to show $12.7 million in cash payments to Manafort. The FBI used the information to interview Manafort, but the authenticity of the ledger has not been established. Manafort dismisses it as fake, contending that the Party of Regions paid him by wire transfer, not cash. Ukrainian officials have conceded that they cannot prove the payments reflected in the ledger were made. The case was thus reportedly closed with no charges. (Perhaps not coincidental to the Obama Justice Department’s decision not to pursue the case: Manafort had brought influential Democrats into his Ukrainian work, such as former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig and the consulting firm started by Obama and Clinton adviser John Podesta — a firm that is still run by Podesta’s brother.)

But then came 2016, and sudden renewed interest in the Manafort- Ukraine investigation … just as the U.S. presidential campaign kicked into high gear.

13 reasons why the Russia probes must be expanded
by J. Michael Waller

4. John Podesta and $35 million from a Russian industrial espionage firm. While advising Hillary Clinton in 2011, John Podesta joined the board of a small energy company in Massachusetts that, two months later, received $35 million from Rusnano, a Russian investment firm. Putin created Rusnano by decree for the purpose of committing industrial espionage. Rusnano CEO Anatoly Chubais, was a major figure in the creation of the Russian gangster-state in 1990s and was close to the Bill Clinton administration, whose White House Chief of Staff was John Podesta. Podesta subsequently joined the Obama White House as senior counselor in 2014, but did not declare his Rusnano business connection. That same year, the FBI issued an “extraordinary warning” about Rusnano. Podesta went on to become Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager.

5. Tony Podesta lobbied for criminal Russian bank. John’s brother, lobbyist Tony Podesta, John’s, took $170,000 over six months in payments from a sanctioned Russian bank, Sberbank (and offshore subsidiaries). The money was for lobbying the U.S. to lift sanctions on Sberbank in 2016, while John Podesta ran Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

6. Podesta Group lobbied for same pro-Kremlin Ukrainians as Manafort. The Podesta Group, founded by John and Tony and headed by Tony, took $900,000 in payments from what Politico calls “pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians who also employed former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.” The purpose was to conduct influence operations against Congress and federal agencies on behalf of the pro-Putin figures. The Trump campaign’s liaison to the RNC in 2016, Rick Gates, connected the Podesta Group with the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a non-profit whose board originally contained Ukrainian members of parliament from the pro-Russian party.” The lobbying ended in 2014 when Ukraine’s pro-Putin president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Moscow.

7. Uranium One: Sale of 20% of US Uranium Production to Russia. Uranium One was owned by Frank Giustra, a close friend and business partner of former President Bill Clinton. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved the company’s sale to the Russian nuclear agency, Rosatom, giving Putin’s nuclear weapons monopoly ownership of 20% of US annual uranium production. Sberbank, which hired lobbyist Tony Podesta, was the lead financial institution involved in the transaction. Tony Podesta’s firm also represented Uranium One before the State Department in 2012 and 2015. Giustra and others tied to the sale donated $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Is power lobbyist Tony Podesta next? Hillary campaign chairman’s brother quits firm they set up together after Mueller looked at his dealings
by Geoff Earle

Top Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta told staff he was leaving the eponymous firm he founded with his powerful brother – on a day two Trump campaign operatives were indicted and a third pled guilty to lying.

Podesta founded the Podesta Group in 1988 along with his brother John, who went on to become Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama‘s chief of staff, as well as Hillary Clinton‘s campaign chair.

The hacking of his personal emails is one of the key factors in the investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, which makes his brother Tony’s role all the more striking.

Tony Podesta told staff he is stepping down from his firm, after an investigation of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s finances revealed lobbying work that the firm got paid to do in order to burnish Ukraine‘s image in the west. […]

According to the indictment, Gates wrote Company A that it would be ‘representing the Government of Ukraine in [Washington] D.C’ Manafort repeatedly communicated with Victor Yanukovych, who led the Party of Regions and served as president of Ukraine before being ousted.

Such lobbying requires disclosure with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  Both Manafort’s firm and the Podesta Group only filed amended forms acknowledging the work after it got reported in the media.

The firms got paid not by their ‘nominal client, the Centre,’ but through off-shore accounts associated with Manafort and Gates headquartered in Cyprus and the Grenadines.

They got more than $2 million in payments between 2012 and 2014. […]

In his heyday, Podesta was one of D.C.’s power lobbyists, with an unusual professional partnership with his wife, Heather Podesta, who was also a fixture on the city’s party circuit. […]

In a sign of how plugged-in Podesta remains, he was spotted at a surprise 70th birthday party for Hillary Clinton over the weekend. Also present were former Clinton advisors John Podesta, Huma Abedin, and Sidney Blumenthal, Politico reported.

2 thoughts on “John Podesta, Clinton Democrats, and Ukraine

  1. Author Alleges China Used Business Deals to Influence Families of Mitch McConnell, Joe Biden
    Peter Schweizer, whose earlier book spurred an FBI probe of the Clinton Foundation, writes that Beijing uses investment opportunities to gain leverage
    By Aruna Viswanatha, March 16, 2018

    The author of a book that fueled an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation now is taking aim at two new targets—the families of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Vice President Joe Biden.

    In a new book, “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends,” conservative author Peter Schweizer argues that China has worked to gain leverage over powerful American politicians by targeting their families with investment opportunities and business deals, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in business to companies run by the families of Messrs. Biden and McConnell.

    Aides to both men strongly disputed the accuracy of Mr. Schweizer’s findings, calling them “wild accusations” without “credible sourcing” and “politically motivated hit pieces.”

    Lawmakers and government officials are required to disclose information about their financial dealings but not those of their extended families, and Mr. Schweizer argues China has tried to exploit that provision.

    The book is being published March 20 by HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp, which also owns The Wall Street Journal. It comes as U.S. counterintelligence officials have expressed concerns about China’s efforts to target President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, who have business dealings in China.

    Counterintelligence officials have worried for years about China’s efforts to cultivate relationships with family members of those in power through business dealings, and they have warned senior officials to be mindful of such relationships, according to people familiar with the briefings.

    A representative at the Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t respond to a request for comment about the claims in Mr. Schweizer’s book.

    Mr. Schweizer points to what he claims is evidence of a close relationship between Foremost Group, the shipping company run by the family of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and Beijing. The author argues that Mr. McConnell, who is Ms. Chao’s husband, has softened his views on China as that relationship grew.

    A spokesman for Mr. McConnell rejected that conclusion, pointing to multiple recent Senate floor statements in which Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, referred to China as an “aggressor state” the U.S. must confront.

    “While he makes some wild accusations, they’re not backed by any credible sourcing—which makes sense, as they are inaccurate,” McConnell spokesman David Popp said of Mr. Schweizer.

    A Transportation Department spokeswoman said Ms. Chao has had no involvement with her family’s business for more than four decades, and called the book’s claims “spurious and deliberately malicious.” Ms. Chao and Mr. McConnell also have no financial investment in Foremost Group. A Foremost representative Group didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    Mr. Schweizer also points to what he claims is evidence of close ties between the Chinese government and Rosemont Seneca Partners, a now-closed investment firm that was owned by Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, and the stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry, Christopher Heinz. Mr. Schweizer outlines investments that he says came as Messrs. Biden and Kerry were managing America’s relationship with Beijing.

    In December 2013, Mr. Schweizer writes, Bank of China set up a collaboration with Rosemont Seneca with $1 billion in funds backed by the Chinese government, giving a Western firm access for the first time to a cross-border investment fund formed in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone.

    A person familiar with the firm disputed Mr. Schweizer’s description of the relationship between Rosemont Seneca and a Chinese investment fund, and said neither the firm nor Messrs. Biden or Heinz “ever received any payments” from the Chinese investment fund. A person close to Mr. Heinz said he had no operating role in Rosemont Seneca.

    A spokesman for Mr. Kerry and an aide to Mr. Biden disputed Mr. Schweizer’s claims.

    A spokesman for Mr. Kerry said Mr. Schweizer “traffics in drive-by character assassination via false innuendo, errors, and omissions” and that “Secretary Kerry’s only agenda was America’s agenda.” An aide to the former vice president said, “We aren’t going to engage on a politically motivated hit pieces based on a series of demonstrable, factual errors from a Breitbart-affiliated author and his financial backers.”

    Mr. Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, which is chaired by conservative donor Rebekah Mercer, has a history of alleging corruption by top politicians. In the summer of 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation started a corruption inquiry based on the claims he made in a book about Bill and Hillary Clinton : “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”

    Justice Department officials were skeptical about the strength of the evidence, but the investigation, which broadly centers on whether Clinton Foundation contributors received favorable treatment from the State Department under Hillary Clinton, is continuing. The Clinton Foundation has long denied wrongdoing, saying it is a well-run charity that has done immense good.

    In his new book, Mr. Schweizer cites what he calls evidence from public sources including news reports and company records that Foremost Group does significant business with a Chinese state-owned defense conglomerate, China State Shipbuilding Corp. Foremost ships are constructed by Chinese government shipyards, with some construction financed by the Chinese government; employ Chinese crews, and carry goods for Chinese state-owned companies as well as other clients, Mr. Schweizer writes.

    Mr. Schweizer also points to the appointment of Ms. Chao’s sister, Angela Chao, to the board of state-owned Bank of China, 10 days after the 2016 election. Angela Chao, who is chairman and chief executive of Foremost Group, according to her personal website, couldn’t be reached for comment. Efforts to reach CSSC and Bank of China were unsuccessful.

    Elaine Chao and Mr. McConnell reported in a financial disclosure a 2008 gift from her father, James, the founder of Foremost, valued at between $5 million and $25 million. Mr. Schweizer, citing a news report, wrote that the gift more than doubled Mr. McConnell’s personal wealth.

    • That book is a great example of the kind of corruption that happens in both main parties. That is because plutocracy knows no loyalty, not to party or country. It is a kind of imperialism but one of a dark state. I’m reminded of “How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States” by Daniel Immerwahr. Indeed, America is an empire.

      Every empire is corrupted and taken over by outside forces. The plutocrats who inherit the empire take it for granted and sell it off piece by piece. It is the next aspiring empire to come along, China in this case, who takes advantage of the corrupted polutocrats of such aging empires. Then the cycle begins again, as China will go through the same imperial life cycle.

      The only other option is to not become an empire in the first place. That is the old dilemma. Right from the beginning, when Americans gained their freedom and liberty, some of the founding fathers were already scheming on how to make America the next great empire. The temptation is impossible to resist for some people.

      The more important question is why do we the people allow it. More than the elite over in England, the elite the Americans should have feared most were those in the colonies.

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