Possible Russian intelligence asset Donald Trump nominated somebody who seems like he might be all stinky dirty in the Trump-Russia conspiracy for an important government position. POST OVER, THE END, DOG BITES MAN, SKY IS BLUE, DONALD TRUMP IS MAKING RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN.
OK fine, here are some details. Brian Benczkowski is this guy Trump nominated to head the criminal division of the Justice Department. Soon after Benczkowski quit the Trump transition team in January, and all the way up to June 6, when Trump announced his nomination, he represented Russia’s Alfa Bank, because Trump apparently only looks at job applications that originate in Moscow. Weird! In normal presidential administrations the revolving door goes between the halls of government and K Street, but in Trump’s America, it goes through Red Square, we guess.
Alfa Bank, if you will remember, is the Russian bank with that server that strangely almost exclusively communicated with a Trump Organization server. What were those communications? Well, the New York Times said it was no big deal, but that was probably just because failed former NYT reporter Eric Lichtblau was pissed off about how Slate scooped him on the story just before the election. CNN reported in March that the FBI was still very much looking into the server.
The bank also appears in the Trump pee hooker Steele Dossier, which has not been fully discredited, despite what Fox News might have told your dumb right-wing dad. And wouldn’t you know it, part of why Benczkowski was representing Alfa was because the bank wanted to sue Buzzfeed for publishing the Steele Dossier, which misspelled its name as “Alpha”:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, said during Benczkowski’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday that Benczkowski reviewed the Steele dossier for Alfa Bank “to consider suing BuzzFeed for defamation over their online publication of the dossier.”
“Alfa Bank, in fact, did sue BuzzFeed on May 26 of this year,” Feinstein said.
Benczkowski said later that he only read two pages of the dossier and did not “independently investigate any of the facts.”
Benczkowski says he only worked on that a little bit, and it was a big nothing, but Feinstein calls horseshit, because he did other stuff related to Alfa and Trump, also too, specifically related to that server:
Feinstein further alleged however that Benczkowski’s work for Alfa Bank “went to the heart of the reported [FBI] investigations” into the bank’s involvement in unusual computer server activity with the Trump Organization during the election.
She noted that he “worked with a computer forensics firm to determine any ties between servers of Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.”
It would be a good time to remember that the Alfa stuff in the dossier is different from the Alfa thing about the server communicating with the Trump Organization. Got it? Good.
So basically Benczkowski was working for the Russian bank (whose oligarch leaders are pals with Putin) to absolve it of all wrongdoing in the Russia scandal, BUT YET he won’t commit to recusing himself from that investigation if he’s confirmed. Is it because he sees Donald Trump bullying Attorney General Jeff Sessions and saying if Sessions had said he would recuse himself beforehand, he wouldn’t have gotten the job? If so, is Benczkowski refusing because he’s actually committed to the rule of law and doesn’t want to lose his job before he gets it, or is he doing it because he’s ready on day one to be an ass-licking foot soldier in service of King Pussgrab Of Mar-a-Lago?
We are just curious.
We don’t have much more to say about this except for WHAT THE FLYING FUCK?
The New York Times notes one more interesting thing, though. While it’s still standing by its claim that the FBI is no longer investigating the ties between Alfa and Trump (we’re skeptical), it notes that Benczkowski’s law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a letter absolving its Russian client of all allegations of nefarious communications with the Trump Organization, citing reports from “independent cybersecurity experts” Mandiant and Stroz Friedberg, which say Alfa did not have sexual relations with Trump. But there’s something weird about the Mandiant report:
… Mandiant’s investigation of Alfa Bank was, at best, cursory. According to people familiar with Mandiant’s review, its experts were shown largely metadata, the information that travels along with a message, for the communications that took place. The contents of the messages — if there were any — were not available.
Without a much deeper forensic examination, the company could not determine the purpose of the communications. Its resulting report was carefully hedged, noting that without more study, it could not give the bank a clean bill of health. But the bank used that report, however limited, to make the case that it had been exonerated.
Shhhhhhh, it’s probably fine.
Let’s just get this guy confirmed to give Trump another win in his effort to Make America Russia Again.
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