Sunday, December 22, 2019
Morning Joe: Trump Is ‘Owned by Putin,’ Head of ‘Criminal Organization’
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By Kyle Drennen |
Following a discussion of President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, on Thursday, MSNBC’s Morning Joe went far beyond standard criticism of the controversial foreign policy move and wildly claimed it was proof that Trump was “owned by Putin” and heading up a “criminal organization” that had been “laundering money” for the Russian autocrat for decades.
As the 6:00 a.m. ET hour segment about Syria was wrapping up and co-host Mika Brzezinski was starting to go to a commercial break, left-wing pundit Donny Deutsch interrupted to squeeze in an unfounded conspiratorial rant in which he accused the President of multiple crimes: “Let’s not forget it. This is all about failed casinos. He is owned by Putin because he’s been laundering money, Russian money for the last 20, 30 years. He’s owned by him. That’s what this is.”
Brzezinski voiced her agreement with irresponsible and unsubstantiated attack: “Oh, my lord....Yeah.”
Deutsch continued his tirade unchallenged:
You talk to any banker in New York, any business person in New York, any real estate person in New York, we have a president that’s selling out our military, that’s costing lives because he is owned by our geopolitical enemy because he’s been laundering money for him as a criminal organization for the last 30 years. That will come out in time.
Co-host Joe Scarborough seemed to offer a small dose of sanity in response: “That is – that is speculation and only speculation right now.” However, he quickly added: “I will say that it is speculation among New York bankers who have loaned Donald Trump money in the past and who have been following his business career for 30, 40 years.” Brzezinski chimed in: “Who know a lot.”
Scarborough then launched into his own conspiracy theory:
But I think we all will be absolutely fascinated when we finally figure out what Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump and why Donald Trump has surrendered the Middle East, helped ISIS, helped Iran, helped Russia, helped Turkey, helped all of our enemies and betrayed all of our allies. You know, a lot of people think that it’s – he has compromising pictures or something happened in a hotel in Russia years ago. No. It goes back to money. It’s always about money.
He concluded the unhinged discussion by asserting: “And this president is selling not only America, but its most important allies, down the river for money he wants to make either while in office or when he leaves office, period, end of story.”
It’s never enough for the liberal media to simply express a policy disagreement with Trump and say that the U.S. abandoning its Kurdish allies in northern Syria would have a negative outcome. Instead, journalists and pundits must always try to outdo each other to make the most outrageous declarations imaginable to prove their bona fides as members of the resistance.
Here is a full transcript of the October 24 exchange:
6:48 AM ET
DONNY DEUTSCH: Make no mistake, because it’s easy to forget. Let’s not forget it. This is all about failed casinos. He is owned by Putin...
Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump has fixated on a theory that Ukraine stole Democratic emails in 2016 and framed Russia for the crime. The Washington Post reports that Trump told a former senior White House official that he believed Ukraine stole the emails because “Putin told me.”
The Post’s explosive report adds to an extensive body of evidence showing the degree to which Vladimir Putin has influenced Trump’s thinking. Trump is not a Russian agent, but he is a man whose thinking has obviously been heavily influenced by Russian sources. It is difficult if not impossible to find another Republican official at any level who believes, like Trump, that Montenegro is an aggressive country that might attack Russia or that the Soviets were forced to invade Afghanistan as a defense against terrorist attacks.
The Ukraine-server theory has gained somewhat wider currency in Republican circles, in large part because of Trump. The Mueller investigation found that Paul Manafort — the Trump campaign manager who had previously been hired by a Russian oligarch to help a pro-Russian presidential candidate in Ukraine — had suggested even during the campaign that Ukraine had stolen the emails to blame Russia. Manafort was working at the time alongside Konstantin Kilimnik, whom U.S. intelligence considers a Russian intelligence asset.
The Post reports that Trump’s advisers desperately tried to figure out the source of his belief that Ukraine had stolen the emails. They believed Putin shared this theory during his 2017 meeting in Hamburg and/or at a subsequent meeting in Helsinki, both of which took place without other American officials present. (After the second encounter, Trump confiscated notes from a translator.)
“The strong belief in the White House was that Putin told him,” one former official tells the Post. The paper also reports that “Trump repeatedly told one senior official that the Russian president said Ukraine sought to undermine him.”
Trump’s impeachment has focused primarily on his demand for an investigation of his political rival. But Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine began as an effort to vindicate the conspiracy theory that Putin had apparently persuaded Trump to believe. Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to locate the server the Russians claimed Ukrainians had smuggled away and hid.
More important, Trump allegedly directed the activities of Lev Parnas, a partner of Rudy Giuliani. Parnas was paid a million dollars by a notorious Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. On behalf of Parnas’s company, a Republican donor paid Giuliani, who represented Trump for “free.” And Giuliani, astonishingly, is still at it. After returning from another trip to Ukraine, where he met with a series of notorious Russian-allied figures, Giuliani has made his case on conservative network OANN and met with Trump, who in turn vouched for him and his work.
Proving criminal conspiracies in court is hard — especially when some of the suspects reside in a hostile foreign country, and even more so when the investigation’s principal subject has the power to pardon witnesses who withhold cooperation. The Mueller investigation failed to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump and Russia, but Trump is working to spread Russian-originated propaganda and he handed this work off to figures who were paid by Putin allies. Whether you describe this relationship as a conspiracy or simply an alliance, it is very much ongoing.
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