Starting to Wonder


The whole Michael Avenatti/Stormy Daniels lawsuit is starting to smell supicious to me.

It’s not that I don’t think that Trump and Cohen and ${whoever} aren’t corrupt – I absolutely have no trouble believing that there’s corruption in the swamp that is the Trump cartel – but it doesn’t make any sense to me that Stormy Daniels and her expensive lawyer are going after Trump, and all these damaging facts about Trump keep emerging mysteriously. It’s as if Avenatti is being fed money and damaging information by someone. Granted, it’s great to see the Trumpists squirming and running like cockroaches from the light, but I don’t believe that there isn’t some strong political motive, push, and money behind it.

This is where I do begin to feel like a conspiracy theorist – I wonder if there’s a well-funded opposition Political Action Committee behind Avenatti and Daniels, who have an ulterior purpose of exposing the Trumpists’ financial operations to scrutiny through legal discovery. If I scroll back, it seems to be that the entire court case is about Trump saying “I did not have sex with that woman” and she’s suing him for defamation because he did. Not to say that that’s not a <sarcasm>great big huge deal</sarcasm> but it seems as though Trump made a sufficiently broad lie regarding a matter of fact and someone said, “let’s fund a lawsuit!” The symmetry between Trump’s hiring Bill Clinton’s accusers to attend events with him (what was up with that?) and the Stormy Daniels situation just seems too perfect. The US justice system has a long history of being used in the service of bloody-fisted politics for me to believe that this is not being sponsored by someone; the cast of characters is too perfect, the timing is too perfect, and the actual meat of the case is too tenuous.

Sure he’s a weasel, but he’s our weasel. Assuming we know who “us” is.

We also need to remember that the “pee tape” report was a sponsored political “opposition research” – it just got judo-flipped and blew up wrong, and didn’t leave a mark on the Teflon Don. I don’t see why anyone expects anyone to care if Stormy Daniels has dick pix of Trump, or maybe a picture of him eating cheeseburgers in bed after sex; this seems like “oh, yeah? You shrugged off the story of the ‘pee tape’ so here are some dick pix.” When did it come about that I was supposed to care if Stormy Daniels has seen Donald Trump’s dick? That’s the problem: I’m supposed to care, but what I see is everyone involved rushing to debase themselves to score points against eachother. All that this wrangling does is makes me hate all of them, both “sides” and the lawyers and judicial system, a little more than I do already.

Trump’s comeuppance can’t come up soon enough, as far as I am concerned, but if this legal maneuvering is a sponsored political hit, it’s just another reminder that we’re living under an oligarchy, in which political power blocs use their vast wealth to bend everything to suit their convenience. I don’t like being reminded of things like that; I already know it’s true.

Comments

  1. DonDueed says

    I figure the Daniels thing is just to keep the Trump crew scuffling and parrying while Mueller slips the dirk between his ribs.

  2. kestrel says

    Huh. Well, I’m not seeing it as a conspiracy. I think that Trump simply has a ton of victims scattered hither, thither and yon, and that the Stormy Daniels case has given them the courage to send the information they have to Avenatti.

    Anyone that wants to find out more legal analysis can go to the Opening Arguments podcast to find out more from a lawyer, and I can suggest starting with this episode: https://openargs.com/oa154-stormy-daniels-is-a-legal-genius/ and if you check out the Friday episodes those are where they usually cover this particular issue; their code for it is “Yodel Mountain”. The press, of course, is not covering this very accurately and in some cases not well at all.

  3. says

    Daniels/Clifford’s obviously is excellent in PR, and she possibly will make a lot of money when Trump settles to end her lawsuit.

    Shaving off the excess with Occam’s razor, there is no need to assume a political conspiracy.

  4. says

    There have certainly been questions raised about how Avenatti got his hands on Michael Cohen’s banking information. He probably didn’t break the law himself, but someone broke the law getting that information to him.

  5. dashdsrdash says

    I don’t believe in big conspiracies: it’s really hard to keep anything interesting a secret for very long.

    I believe in millions of small conspiracies, especially the kind which are barely negotiated. One gas station raises prices on Tuesday morning, and all the others in the area are up about the same amount Tuesday evening. Regulatory capture. Privatization. The decision-makers in political parties.

  6. invivoMark says

    Be careful not to deny the agency of Stormy herself. You know as well as the rest of us that whenever a woman gets up to something, there’s a tendency to assume that a powerful man must be behind her pulling the strings. You’re skirting dangerously close to this misogynist trope.

    There might actually be powerful men acting behind the scenes and encouraging the whole thing, but we should still believe Stormy’s words.

  7. Owlmirror says

    If I scroll back, it seems to be that the entire court case is about Trump saying “I did not have sex with that woman” and she’s suing him for defamation because he did.

    I don’t think you’re scrolling back far enough — Clifford also sued to have the NDA/Hush Agreement declared null and void because Trump hadn’t signed it.

  8. kestrel says

    Agreeing with Owlmirror @#8 here. I don’t think anyone gives a crap about who had sex with whom. There are bigger issues such as campaign finance fraud, banking fraud etc. Although. It is true that it’s illegal to commit adultery in New York. I doubt that’s the issue that will be the end result of the lawsuit.

    Avenatti probably started this whole thing not realizing all the slime that would be uncovered. Just guessing.

  9. says

    I’m having network problems (still diagnosing) so I can’t comment from a computer with a real keyboard for the duration.

    Agreed about not denying Daniels agency. The reason I sounded like I was skirting that issue was because I’m concerned by it. She is probably acting the way she is out of disgust with Trump. I suspect most of us would love to take a whack at that jackass.

    Avenatti’s services can’t come cheap and I don’t get how this whole operation is being financed. Does she expect a multimillion-dollar settlement from Trump? That seems to be a “blood from a stone” scenario if there ever was one.

    Someone is feeding Avenatti information. Who? Why? Where is it coming from?

    I can believe a scenario that this is an organically assembled generally Trump-hating effort because I’d also participate in one of those if I had a way to.

  10. says

    I seriously don’t get Americans and their sex scandals. Why does it even matter who had sex with whom? Where I live, instead we have corruption scandals. Here voters don’t seem to care about politicians’ sex lives. And they really shouldn’t.

    It is true that it’s illegal to commit adultery in New York.

    Ouch! I didn’t know about this law. This makes me wonder why people even agree to get married. Am I really the only person who values freedom (and that includes also the freedom to choose who I’m having sex with)?

  11. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#11:
    I seriously don’t get Americans and their sex scandals. Why does it even matter who had sex with whom? Where I live, instead we have corruption scandals. Here voters don’t seem to care about politicians’ sex lives. And they really shouldn’t.

    I don’t think this is about who is having sex with Donald Trump – that’s a side issue. My concern is whether or not this is just another stinky political hit, or if it’s a personally motivated hit. Either way, the target is repugnant; I’m curious about the motivations.

    If there’s anything nice about Donald Trump’s presidency, it’s that he’s going to effectively lower the high ground that “conservatives” and evangelicals have been claiming to hold for so long. Trump is revealing them to be a bunch of hypocrites. I guess there’s some value to that.

  12. James Hammond says

    @Marcus Ranum #10:

    That seems to be a “blood from a stone” scenario if there ever was one.

    I see it more as a “blood from an obscenely-engorged, attornium-encrusted tick” scenario, myself.
    –James

  13. says

    DonDueed@#1:
    I figure the Daniels thing is just to keep the Trump crew scuffling and parrying while Mueller slips the dirk between his ribs.

    See, that’s the kind of thing I keep looking for, too. Which would imply a much more complex thing is going on behind the obvious media-facing stuff we’re seeing.

    Is this how people become conspiracy theorists? You start off by trying to make sense out of something that doesn’t seem to make sense at all, then you search, and go further and further off the beaten path until you’re lost in the weeds?

  14. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#11:
    It is true that it’s illegal to commit adultery in New York.

    Ouch! I didn’t know about this law.

    The US isn’t a christian country. It’s sharia law. Or something.

  15. says

    Owlmirror@#8:
    I don’t think you’re scrolling back far enough — Clifford also sued to have the NDA/Hush Agreement declared null and void because Trump hadn’t signed it.

    So, if we get back to there, then we’re looking at Clifford being willing to spend some pretty large amounts of money in order to make even larger amounts of money.

    That’s plausible – is the idea that she spends $150,000 on Avenatti (or a contingency) to get out from under the NDA so she can sell the New York Times Trump’s dick pix? Given the apparently huge number of people who have seen Trump’s dick, and the fact that everyone now appears to know and accept that the man’s got a long career of tomcatting about, pictures of Trump’s dick have no value at all unless we’ve got pictures of Putin’s and Kim’s so we can do size comparisons.

    Normally I’d say The National Enquirer except that the owner of the NE is a Trump fan who has already bought and spiked several stories that would embarrass Trump. That’s another cog in this gigantic puzzle: we’re supposed to pretend that the media are trying to report this abstract thing we call “the news” but really they are just as involved in editing as the propagandists – we find out, after the elections are over, that the newspapers (even the NYT) have pushed back news “in order not to affect the election” – which amounts to “we chose to hide an awkward truth because the timing was awkward” which doesn’t look like anything but propaganda and media manipulation to me.

  16. says

    InvivoMark@#7:
    You know as well as the rest of us that whenever a woman gets up to something, there’s a tendency to assume that a powerful man must be behind her pulling the strings. You’re skirting dangerously close to this misogynist trope.

    Thank you for pointing that out; it’s important.

    I don’t necessarily think that someone is pulling her strings. Someone is feeding Avenatti information that she (and he) would have no normal/legal way of getting. This is not typical lawsuit discovery going on, and I think there must be more going on than meets the eye.

    In terms of agency, it seems clear to me that Daniels is making her own decisions and is pursuing her own interests.

  17. says

    @#14

    The US isn’t a christian country. It’s sharia law. Or something.

    Yeah, I’m starting to notice this.

    It’s just that this law seems so stupid. Why bother outlawing something when everybody does that thing anyway? Maintaining a long term monogamous relationship is plain hard. Of course lots of people are going to have extramarital sex. How could they not?

  18. jazzlet says

    It is quite possible for Clifford to be doing this for her own reasons and for there to be someone/some group helping the case along for political reasons, the two are not mutally exclusive. I have no idea whether anyone is helping the case along for political reasons.

  19. says

    jazzlet@#18:
    It is quite possible for Clifford to be doing this for her own reasons and for there to be someone/some group helping the case along for political reasons, the two are not mutally exclusive.

    That’s definitely a possibility

    Where did Avenatti get that information? I guess that’s what I’m getting to; I think the FBI may be doing some
    parallel construction on this case. That would suddenly make everything make sense, if all this stuff was collected using classified “systems and methods” that they don’t want to reveal – well, then, you come up with a completely different set of reasons to discover the same thing that you knew all along.

    In August 2013, a report by Reuters revealed that the Special Operations Division (SOD) of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration advises DEA agents to practice parallel construction when creating criminal cases against Americans that are based on NSA warrantless surveillance.[1] The use of illegally obtained evidence is generally inadmissible under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.[2]

    Two senior DEA officials explained that the reason parallel construction is used is to protect sources (such as undercover agents or informants) or methods in an investigation. One DEA official had told Reuters: “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day. It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”

    An example from one official about how parallel construction tips work is being told by Special Operations Division that: “Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.” DEA would alert state troopers and they may wait for that certain vehicle and decide to use drug searching dogs to see if there is any illegal drug-related activity. Parallel construction allows the prosecution building the drug case to hide the source of where the information came from to protect confidential informants or undercover agents who may be involved with the illegal drug operation from endangering their lives.

  20. says

    New chunky nuggets:
    New York Magazine reports that it appears that Trump and the Kushners may have been getting a slice of the money flowing to Cohen. If that’s the case it would go a ways toward explaining how the FBI was able to get a judge to give a warrant to grab all of Cohen’s files; that’s standard operating procedure when dealing with racketeers’ lawyers, who tend to erase data when asked nosy questions.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/05/michael-cohen-bribery-scandal-is-now-a-trump-bribery-scandal.html?utm_campaign=nym&utm_source=fb&utm_medium=s1

    Last night, the Daily Mail reported a development in the Michael Cohen saga of seismic scale. In a December 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, the British tabloid reports, Cohen asked Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, who runs a $100 billion Qatari investment fund, to send him “millions” which, the story claims, would go “through him to Trump family members.”

    We have already learned of multiple cases of Cohen using his access to Trump to jack up multiple corporations for outrageous sums. The Daily Mail report deepens the trouble in two crucial ways. First, it extends Cohen’s scheme from domestic corporations (or, in one case, domestic corporations controlled by foreign entities) to direct overseas fundraising. Second, and more ominously, it alleges that Cohen funneled the money to Trump’s family. It was bad enough that Trump’s lawyer was enriching himself by cashing in on access. Now the story suggests he was enriching them, transforming the Cohen bribery story into a Trump bribery story.

    The story’s publication did not reverberate with the explosive force proportional to the scale of the allegation. The reason is that the Daily Mail lacks the familiarity and credibility of major American legacy media firms. Its occasional bombshell scoops reside in a never-never land between rumor and accepted fact.

  21. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#22:
    a crowdfunding campaign that has so far raised more than $427,000 from 12,000 donors.

    Interesting!

    Since kickstarter and whatnot tend to support unpublished donations, there’s all kinds of ways one could hide stuff in that. The nice thing about that approach is that it allows an organic “I Hate Trump, here, take my money!” donation model, a political action committee doesn’t need to get into it at all – just hint to your donors, “instead of giving us $2,000 why not toss it into the Stormy Daniels crowdfunding?”

  22. Owlmirror says

    It’s weird that you’re focusing on dick pix. I’m pretty sure that the cash source Clifford is hoping for is either Trump paying big bucks in a settlement to get her to shut up, or exclusive book and/or movie deals and/or speaking fees.

  23. jrkrideau says

    Clearly the Stormy Daniels’ affair, the legal one I mean, is a deep plot by the KGB err , GRU FSB SVR to discredit and destroy Trump and protect Russia’s allies. It was a plan that the KGB began working on in the late 1990’s.

    This conspiracy has the added bonus for Vladimir Putin that it tames a few Russian oligarchs (Damn, this last sentence actually makes sense.)

    I note that, clearly, Putin and his cabinet have not been adequately briefed on Mike Pence.

    @ Marcus

    I can see your rationale for a conspiracy and it makes sense but Daniels is smart and has a good lawyer. Book rights and some appearance fees could make her a profit and even pay legal fees if Avenatti does not make money on a contingency basis if they wrangle a settlement out of Trump. Oh just saw Pierce’s post re the crowdfunding. That helps explain how Avenatti can afford to stay on the case.

    The revelations may be due to some good digging on Avenatti’s investigators part (not a lot of employees of Trump are likely to be madly loyal—heck, probably not a lot of currant ones either). On the other hand, once the suit became public there may be lots of people who are happy to dump all sorts of damaging materials on Avenatti. Trump has shafted a lot of people over the years.

  24. jrkrideau says

    @ 23 Marcus
    a political action committee doesn’t need to get into it at all – just hint to your donors, “instead of giving us $2,000 why not toss it into the Stormy Daniels crowdfunding

    True but 1/2 a million is not that much money. There are a lot of people in the USA and around the world who hate/despise Trump. The mean donation, given the figures Pierce quotes is $39.75.

    Heck, if I was American, I’d happily toss a few dollars into the pot.

  25. says

    Owlmirror@#24:
    It’s weird that you’re focusing on dick pix

    I’m not, really. The point is that trying to shame Trump is like trying to educate a tree stump. I think there are some people who don’t understand that and expect his base to care. They obviously don’t but that hasn’t sunk in, yet.

  26. says

    Aha, so the extra information did come from law enforcement.

    New Yorker reports:

    Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.

    Deepthroat 2.0?
    Remember, Mark Felt, Deepthroat 1.0 was an FBI assistant director who didn’t like the president, so he leaked information to the press, using the press to re-direct an investigation into a fruitful channel. Wow, that sounds familiar!

    By January of this year, First Republic had filed the three suspicious-activity reports about Cohen’s account. The most recent report—the only one made public so far—examined Cohen’s transactions from September of 2017 to January of 2018, and included activity totalling almost a million dollars. It alludes to the two previous reports that the official could not find in the FinCEN database. The first report that the official was unable to locate, which covered almost seven months, appears to have listed a little over a million dollars in activity. The second report that the official was unable to locate, which investigated a three-month period between June and September of 2017, found suspect transfers totalling more than two million dollars.

    A substantial portion of this money seems to have ended up in Cohen’s personal accounts. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney filed a separate SAR showing that, during that same three-month period, Cohen set up two accounts with the firm, into which he deposited three checks from his Essential Consultants account, two in the amount of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and one in the amount of five hundred and five thousand dollars. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney marked those transactions, which added up to more than a million dollars, as possible signs of “bribery or gratuity” and “suspicious use of third-party transactors (straw-man).”

    The whole article is very chewy and full of nuggets.

    Basically, Cohen is going to get everything of “the treatment” except maybe they won’t waterboard him.

  27. Owlmirror says

    Here’s something I hadn’t seen before in any news media. . .
     
    I followed kestrel’s link #@2 (haven’t listened to the podcast yet), then noticed the link for the next podcast that said “more Stormy”, and noticed the footnote reading in part:

    Susan Simpson has done some pretty top-notch investigative work as to where the Trump campaign may have hid the payoff to Stormy.

     
    What Susan found was that if you look at the Trump campaign’s financial disclosure documents, there are several large payments around the time of the payoff to Stormy that “total $129,999.72 – 28 cents shy of the exact total of the settlement payment owed to Stormy Daniels”.
     
    Well.

  28. says

    Owlmirror@#30:
    What Susan found was that if you look at the Trump campaign’s financial disclosure documents, there are several large payments around the time of the payoff to Stormy that “total $129,999.72 – 28 cents shy of the exact total of the settlement payment owed to Stormy Daniels”.

    Structuring is the act of parceling what would otherwise be a large financial transaction into a series of smaller transactions to avoid scrutiny by regulators and law enforcement. … Structuring appears in federal indictments related to money laundering, fraud, and other financial crimes.

  29. Dunc says

    Is this how people become conspiracy theorists? You start off by trying to make sense out of something that doesn’t seem to make sense at all, then you search, and go further and further off the beaten path until you’re lost in the weeds?

    Yes, it is. Remember, fiction has to be believable, but reality is under no such constraint. The road to becoming a conspiracy theorist starts by trying to apply the narrative concepts of fiction to reality.

  30. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#11:

    I seriously don’t get Americans and their sex scandals. Why does it even matter who had sex with whom?

    It shouldn’t matter. It matters in this particular case because the solid block keeping Trump in office right now is the Evangelical Religious Reich, and they’ve been twisting in the wind, finding ways to excuse Trump all of his sex crimes, and this now very public adultery, committed right after his wife gave birth. The Religious Reich can’t abandon or condemn Trump for this, because he’s still giving them what they want, and is promising them more, but more and more christians, including some evangelicals are distancing themselves over this open hypocrisy.

    It’s a fucking mess in this shithole.

  31. DonDueed says

    Problem is, the evangelicals are such hypocrites that they don’t even care about hypocrisy.

  32. says

    Dunc@#32:
    The road to becoming a conspiracy theorist starts by trying to apply the narrative concepts of fiction to reality.

    That’s really good.

  33. Owlmirror says

    So, I was thinking about how Avenatti is using Trump tactics, and it occurred to me that Avenatti is acting much more like a publicist than like a lawyer: Stay in the news cycle at all cost. He might well justify his tactics in that his ultimate fee may well be tied to whatever Stormy ultimately gets, and I guess it’s reasonable that the more well known she is, the higher her ultimate book/movie/whatever fees and/or settlement will be.

  34. jrkrideau says

    @ 40 Owlmirror
    It is almost impossible to see how Avenatti could undertake such a case if not on a contingency basis.

  35. Raucous Indignation says

    And you’re just starting to wonder now? C’mon! Your conspiracy chops must be exhausted not to pick up on that immediately. Michael Avenatti knows EVERYTHING! I don’t think he figured it out all by himself.

  36. seachange says

    I think all y’all are missing the point of how to use Fake News. —Trump is narcissistically vain.— Common belief is short fingers/tiny hands means small/short genitalia and he is appealing to folk who live and die by common belief. Trump can’t really hide that he has tiny hands. He already got in trouble for talking about grabbing parts in a non-consensual manner, so just dropping a dick pic on the public is not as advantageous. Daniels and Avenatti have been paid by Trump not only so that he has a pretext to post dick pics in public, but so that anyone who wants to see it has to go and look for it themselves. Since anyone who has seen it has looked themselves, it’s implied consent. —Heck, that doesn’t even has to be HIS dick in the pic

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