The God-King’s attorney reportedly delivered a ‘back channel’ plan for Ukraine to surrender to Russia…. (More)
“I absolutely believe that the U.S. and Russia need to be allies, not enemies”
The New York Times’ Megan Twohey and Scott Shane reported the story this morning:
A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.
Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
At a time when Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, and the people connected to him, are under heightened scrutiny – with investigations by American intelligence agencies, the F.B.I. and Congress – some of his associates remain willing and eager to wade into Russia-related efforts behind the scenes.
The gist of the plan seems to be that Ukraine would hold a referendum on whether to give Russia a 50- or 100-year lease on the Crimea, which Russian troops seized in 2014. Russian troops would then withdraw from eastern Ukraine, where they’ve been backing pro-Russian rebels for three years. And there’s some self-serving politics involved:
But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence – “names of companies, wire transfers” – showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.
“A lot of people will call me a Russian agent, a U.S. agent, a C.I.A. agent,” Mr. Artemenko said. “But how can you find a good solution between our countries if we do not talk?”
So if I understand it, Russia will withdraw troops who are currently waging an illegal war in eastern Ukraine … if Ukrainian voters agree to give away the Crimea and replace their president with a pro-Russian puppet. That’s a surrender, not a peace plan.
Mr. Artemenko said a mutual friend had put him in touch with Mr. Sater. Helping to advance the proposal, Mr. Sater said, made sense.
“I want to stop a war, number one,” he said. “Number two, I absolutely believe that the U.S. and Russia need to be allies, not enemies. If I could achieve both in one stroke, it would be a home run.”
After speaking with Mr. Sater and Mr. Artemenko in person, Mr. Cohen said he would deliver the plan to the White House.
“One of the biggest shoes I’ve seen drop on the Trump story in some time”
And Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall explains why Sater’s involvement is A Very Big Deal:
I don’t know how much attention it’s received. But the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I’ve seen drop on the Trump story in some time.
The backstory to all this is amazingly byzantine and murky. Let me try to cover the key points as simply as I can.
Having spent some time studying the matter, the biggest red flags about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and businessmen around Vladimir Putin have always been tied to the Trump SoHo building project in Lower Manhattan, from the first decade of this century. I base my knowledge of this on this rather cursory but still quite good April 2016 article from the Times and my own limited snooping around the Outer Boroughs Russian and Ukrainian emigre press. (I summarized the most salient details of the earlier Times article in Item #3 of this post.) This was a key project, perhaps the key project in the post-bankruptcy era in which Trump appeared heavily reliant on Russian funds to finance his projects. Sater was at the center of that project. The details only came to light after the project got bogged down in a complicated series of lawsuits.
After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there’s no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.
Marshall explores the most innocent explanations and finds they just don’t pass the sniff test. He concludes:
As we’ve all tried to make sense of this very murky meta-story of just what’s up with Donald Trump and Russia, there’s always been the complicated and messy business ties then and the suppliant, fawning attitude and relationship with Putin now. Are they connected? I have yet to see anything more tightly tying them together than Sater’s reappearance in the story.
As the day unfolds, expect the God-King and his sewer outlets to try to spin this into a story about the Times – “fake news!” “illegal leaks!” “irresponsible!” – rather than discussing the letter or whether they support this ‘peace plan.’
And that spin will work with the God-King’s supporters, who will suddenly decide Ukraine never had any right to the Crimea – or independence at all – and they should be happy to let Vladimir Putin choose their next president.
You know, like he did for us….
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Good day and good nuts