Tommy CarcettiTommy Carcetti's Journal
I don't mean that in the sense that an embarrassing joke photo of you from years ago might surface, or that there might be a few vague, unsubstantiated claims that you grabbed women's rears while posing for photos with them. While that might be enough to derail a career, we're looking at something a little more serious than that.
No...while that might be your idea of having one's "turn in the barrel" to you, what awaits you in the next weeks....months....and years....is actually going to be much, much, much worse than that.
What we're talking about is the indignities of your arrest, arraignment, court appearance after court appearance after mind-numbing court appearance, and--since we know you think somehow think you'll be able to beat it all--a very public trial.
And you won't beat it. You think you will because you are a haughty, narcissistic vain asshole of the highest degree, but Robert Mueller cleaned the clock of your old business partner Paul Manafort, and he's going to do the same with you.
You're going to lose it all, Roger. That home on the ocean in Florida--gone. Your assets--seized. Those outrageous outfits you like to wear--traded for prison scrubs. Social media accounts.....please. They'll be gone.
Even those dumb ass Panama Jack hats you like to wear will be a thing of the past, Roger. They're not coming with you.
You might think you'll end up with three years, like Michael Cohen, and sure, you think, you can handle that.
But you're not getting three years, Roger. Sure, Michael Cohen was a weak little coward who mistakenly thought that being one of Donald Trump's goons would somehow give his life purpose and meaning. And of course, it didn't, and he realized that all after the fact and after the search warrant.
But you're far worse than him, Roger. You're a pathological piece of shit. Your track record over the decades--the lives you've ruined, the injustices you've caused--underscores that fact.
So no, Roger, you won't be getting away with three years. You're going to be doing some hard, hard time.
And here's the thing, Roger--you're not exactly a spring chicken there. You're already 66 years old. Time's a'ticking.
You will die in prison, Roger. When you die, it won't be surrounded by your wife or your son or your grandkids in your bed or even at some hospital or nursing home. It will be at an infirmary at some Federal Correctional Facility out in the middle of BFE.
And you--the great political fixer Roger Stone--will die all alone.
And when you die, after the fact, they'll shove your remains into a plastic bag for your loved ones to claim, like you are piece of dry cleaning or lost luggage at the airport.
And that is how it will end for you, Roger.
You'll be known as Roger Stone, the fixer and dirty political trickster who sold out his country and died in prison.
I hope it was all worth it, Roger. That living the way Roy Cohn taught you--tearing people apart, always lying, always spinning, never admitting the truth--was somehow the way you wanted to live.
If not....well, too bad, so sad.
Welcome to the Barrel, Roger Stone.
Back in July, the Special Counsel's office indicted multiple Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers for various hacking related offenses during the 2016 election season.
In the middle of the indictment, Mueller drops an interesting little tidbit:
The conspirators--aka GRU--set up the Guccifer 2.0 account and communicated with several individuals known to associate with political figures. This includes the ever lovely Roger Stone (any chance we get an indictment of him before the new year?) as well as a Florida based blogger and political consultant by the name of Aaron Nevins.
Based on the timing and the Nevins connection, it's believed that the alleged leak by Guccifer 2.0 to the mystery candidate means the candidate requesting that info was from Florida. Here's a story from Politico that lays it out:
The big question of course is....who is the candidate?
A lot of speculation has centered on Rep. Brian Mast, who was elected the representative of Florida's 18th District in 2016. The reason is obvious--Nevins acted as a political consultant for Mast during his 2016 campaign. So it immediately creates the specter of motive and opportunity.
I'm a little bit skeptical Mast is the man, however. Mast is essentially a run-of-the-mill, boring, typical back bencher Republican congressman. Besides from having an admittedly sympathetic military resume, there's nothing really remarkable about Mast's behavior either before or after he was elected that suggests he was one to engage in--shall we call it--light treason. Unlike, say, Dana Rohrabacher, there's no major red flags about Mast that suggest he is one to conspire with Russian military intelligence. If he's hiding those sort of sentiments, he's been hiding them pretty well.
Other Florida-based congressional candidates who've been bandied about as suspects include Rep. Matt Gaetz of the 1st District and the now Governor-elect but then representative of the 6th District, Ron DeSantis. And opposed to Mast, some of their behavior since 2016 and their attitudes towards the Mueller investigation have been a little bit more suspect.
But I think we still are forgetting another suspect, one who I think has both strong motive, opportunity and red flags galore.
That would be Tim Canova, who was Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's primary opponent in 2016. What makes me suspect Canova is things in the indictment that might be overlooked.
Notably, the indictment says the person was a "candidate." There's no mention whatsoever that the person was actually elected to office in the end. Moreover, there's nothing that says that the candidate was seeking information for the purposes of the general election. And with that in mind, the information was released on August 15th, which was roughly two weeks before the Florida primary elections. People assume it was a Republican seeking information for the general election and that Republican was the ultimate victor. That's not necessarily the case.
Why else Canova? Because he has multiple red flags and motive to seek that information:
1. The release came just a couple weeks after Guccifer 2.0's leak right before the DNC convention. That leak created a huge embarrassment for DWS, so much so that she was forced to step down as chair of the DNC before the convention started. So DWS was certainly in the crosshairs for the Russian hackers. And who would benefit most from another hack that involved DWS but DWS's own primary opponent, that being Tim Canova.
2. Canova acted in ways that were rather unconventional for what you might expect a Democrat from Broward County to act. For example, on more than one occasion, he appeared on the radio show of Joyce Kaufman, a right-wing extremist who was almost named the congressional chief of staff for one-term Tea Party firebrand Allen West.
3. Throwing the race for the congressional seat of the one-time DNC chair into chaos and creating division amongst Democratic voters (in order to suppress turnout) is the typical MO of Russian interference actions in elections.
4. Canova is based in Broward County, where Nevins (and his father, Buddy Nevins) have made a well-known name for themselves in political circles. And while Roger Stone has a more national footprint, he too is based out of Broward. So both of Guccifer 2.0's contacts had close ties to Broward.
4. Since that election, Tim Canova has quit the Democratic party.
5. Since that election, Tim Canova has heavily criticized the Mueller investigation and explicitly expressed doubt that it was Russia who hacked the DNC, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
6. Since that election, Tim Canova has engaged in spreading wild conspiracy theories similar to the ones being spread over social media by Russian propagandists, such as the claim that the DNC and the Clintons were behind the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
And yes, on the day of the apparent release (August 15, 2016), Tim Canova did get a few very interesting messages from followers on Twitter.
Now, as tantalizing as this might seem, it's not quite a smoking (or smocking) gun for Canova. Delivering materials via a Twitter post is a rather public way that leaves the risk of exposure if it were indeed a response for a request for hacked materials. Furthermore, the Guccifer 2.0 WordPress link doesn't actually contain any materials related to the DWS-Canova race (District 23). (For that matter, it doesn't contain any info on the race for Gaetz or DeSantis' district, either, although it does contain info on the race for Mast's district.)
So more likely than not this was just a coincidence and just some zealous followers of Guccifer 2.0 wanted to pass on this material to Canova (which is still very, very odd, don't you think?). But there's nothing in the Indictment that says the materials sent to the mystery candidate were part of the WordPress post; it's possible and likely they were sent using more encrypted means.
That all being said, with DWS already being in Guccifer 2.0's crosshairs before these documents were leaked, with Canova's curious subersive and disruptive behavior both before and after the leaks, and the various connections to Broward County, I think a further inquiry into the possibility that Tim Canova was the mystery candidate is warranted.
That's a quote from the HBO Miniseries "Angels in America," based on the Tony Kushner play of the same name.
It comes at a point where the infamous fixer/lawyer/McCarthy figure Roy Cohn lies dying of AIDS--a disease Cohn never wanted to admit having--in his hospital bed. He is "visited" by a vision of Ethel Rosenberg, a woman whose execution (aided by numerous dirty tricks and maneuverings on Cohn's part) Cohn considers the absolute pinnacle of his professional career.
The most devastating part about Rosenberg's quote to Cohn is how absolutely true it was, and still is. Not only did Cohn die a disgrace--disbarred and inflicted with a disease that was a testament to his utter hypocrisy--but Cohn's reputation has actually gotten worse over time, not better. When some high profile figures with controversial pasts die, we naturally attempt to find the silver linings and find good accomplishments and attributes amongst the bad.
Any attempt to rehabilitate Cohn, however, would be absolutely futile. He lived and died the nasty, corrupt, contemptible son-of-a-bitch that he was, and like the fictional Rosenberg apparition declared, there was no good that could be gleaned from his life. It was a total waste, never to be celebrated, and too broken to be rehabilitated.
But even after his death in 1986, Cohn was the curse that kept on cursing, and we are still dealing with his impact to this very day. Because it was Cohn who took people like Donald Trump and Roger Stone under his fetid wing and encouraged their public, brash, thoroughly corrupt and unapologetic pugnacious styles. In turn, Trump attempted to mold his own attorney Michael Cohen directly after Cohn. While it worked for years, we are now seeing a reckoning for Trump for his unequivocal embrace of Cohn's mantras.
Aided no doubt in good part by a search warrant of his apartment that shook like an earthquake, Cohen decided (probably in his own best interest more than anything else) that he didn't want to have the legacy of Roy Cohn, Donald Trump and Roger Stone to be his dying legacy. He didn't want people saying about him, "Better that he never lived at all."
For Donald Trump, however, that quote from Rosenberg to Cohn will ultimately follow him to the grave. His life will be viewed as a complete waste. He will die one of the greatest villains to America that this nation has ever known, a man complete without redemption. He will die as someone who was so eager to enrich and empower and promote himself that nothing would ever stop him, not even the pause of thought as to whether one should commit treason just to get one self elected the most powerful man in the world.
Like the Roy Cohn that Kushner imagined, Donald Trump is now being haunted by the legacy of his own mentor, and in a brutal twist of irony it is none other than Roy Cohn himself. In the end, a man who helped fuel a Red scare as to others' supposed collaboration with the enemy helped in an indirect fashion to bring on the most infamous case of such treason the country will have ever known.
And in the end, when Trump draw his last, it will be he who people will say, "Better that he had never lived at all."
In case anyone wanted to see the scene with Cohn and Rosenberg from Angels in America, here it is:
Al Pacino and Meryl Streep do an absolutely phenomenal job in their respective parts. Streep's simple rendition of "Tumbalalaika" is utterly haunting.
When the Flynn story broke last year, Ross had reported that Flynn had contacts with the Russian ambassador both before and after the election.
However, there was a huge outcry because it was insisted that we only knew that Flynn had met with the ambassador only after the election, not before.
Trump threw a fit, Ross was suspended and then ultimately fired.
But it appears he was indeed right.
And I think he deserves an apology.
Report: Flynn Said He Was In Touch With Russian Ambassador During Campaign
John Angelillo/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
By Allegra Kirkland
December 13, 2018 11:42 am
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has told associates that he spoke to Russias ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 campaign about how the two countries could work together on key foreign policy matters if Donald Trump was elected, Mother Jones reported Thursday.
Two associates of the short-lived national security advisor told Mother Jones that Flynns contact with Sergey Kislyak predated the previously reported communications that the pair had during the post-election transition period.
One associate told the publication that Flynn and Kislyak proposed a situation in which Moscow would work with the Trump administration to end the Syrian civil war in exchange for an end to U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Another said Flynn spoke of talking to Kislyak about Syria, Iran and other foreign policy matters that the two countries could work together on if Trump took office.
Flashback to January 6, 2018. Trump blames Ross for tanking the stock market.
Donald J. TrumpVerified account @realDonaldTrump · Jan 6
Brian Ross, the reporter who made a fraudulent live newscast about me that drove the Stock Market down 350 points (billions of dollars), was suspended for a month but is now back at ABC NEWS in a lower capacity. He is no longer allowed to report on Trump. Should have been fired!
3:57 AM - 6 Jan 2018
President Donald Trump announced that he will be traveling to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida to get a firsthand view of the aftermath of the damage that Florida incurred after Hurricane Michael--a near Category 5 major hurricane--struck the state this week.
Trump will take an up close tour of the grounds of the club, which is located approximately 500 miles from the Panama City area where the storm made landfall. Palm trees at Mar-a-Lago reportedly lost multiple fronds during a Tuesday afternoon thunderstorm from one of Michael's outermost bands as it moved up the Gulf of Mexico towards the Florida Panhandle.
"From what I heard, damage to Mar-a-Lago was tremendous, the likes of which has never been seen before," Trump said to reporters as he boarded Marine One on his way to Andrews Air Force Base. "The amount of rain, which was wet, very, very wet, and some of the most incredible, powerful wind imaginable. I've heard estimates of winds in excess of 500 miles per hour, actually. It's really, really something."
Trump noted the "furious" work of groundskeepers to rake up fallen leaves and power wash muddied walkways to make sure the club was in spotless shape for the upcoming winter club season.
"It hasn't been easy," he noted. "For anyone. But especially for me. Of all the people out there, I have to say I've probably suffered the most because of this storm."
When asked if he had any thoughts for homeowners in storm ravaged areas like Mexico Beach--where houses were ripped from their foundations by devastating storm surge and obliterated into rubble by catastrophic winds--Trump replied, "Well, I'm certain any of those people would have to feel sorry for the situation I'm in. They'd very likely feel very, very bad for me. I'm sure if they had people wanting to pay $200,000 for access to them and their house, they'd know the type of situation I'm in, and they'd feel very, very bad. They wouldn't want to be in my position, believe me."
First Lady Melania Trump was expected to join her husband and pose for pictures alongside maintenance workers trimming hedges. The President and First Lady would then reportedly sit down for a dinner prepared by banquet staff.
"We're going to have cake, chocolate cake, that most wonderful, magnificent chocolate cake like no other," the President said. "No natural disaster is going to stop us from enjoying that wonderful, beautiful cake."
Details at Eleven.
False Acquisitions was the title of Charles Dickens little-remembered, much maligned follow-up to Great Expectations. The plot centered around Pip and Estella moving to the American West, where they pull off a series of stagecoach robberies in a lead up to their ultimate goal: a madcap search for Miss Havishams hidden gold.
Critics savaged the novel, calling it nonsensical rubbish and, Why? In Gods good name, why?
In an ironic twist, however, the film adaptation starring Ethan Hawke and Gwenyth Paltrow drew surprisingly good reviews, with Roger Elbert remarking, So much better than the book. So, so, so much better. Not like that it was that hard of a feat, mind you....
Juanita Broaddrick @atensnut
How can I, as a victim, not sympathize with Dr. Ford??
Plain and simple. I do not believe her. She has cast a dark shadow on real victims. Democrats have already convicted this honorable man. What about Judge Kavanaugh and his family?
5:24 PM - 23 Sep 2018
Juanita Broaddrick @atensnut
Creepy porn lawyer, Avanatti, says he has another victim and demands to be heard. Must be one of Stormys co-workers
6:58 PM - 23 Sep 2018
First and foremost: Why exactly am I even giving an admittedly fringe figure like Juanita Broaddrick the time of day throughout the Kavanaugh drama?
My answer is simple: The right keeps on bringing her name up as a talking point in a blatant fallacious Whataboutism strategy. And because her accusations go straight to the heart of one major figure--a two-term Democratic President who admittedly had some public weaknesses when it came to members of the opposite sex--as well as involving another major figure, his wife and an individual who by all accounts also should have been President but for certain interference by certain foreign powers.
And we're faced with two possible reactions. We can either attempt to ignore it and let figures on the right keep on invoking this woman's name without rebuttal, or we can go ahead and grab the bull by the horns and address it once and for all, and let the world know that not all accusations are of the same level.
The problem with the first reaction, while tempting, is that it just becomes cumulative and repeated to the point where the mere repetition of her name gives her legitimacy. And once there is an air of legitimacy behind Broaddrick, then we fall susceptible to the same sort of well-intentioned but erroneous "zero tolerance" strategy that needlessly felled Senator Franken's career over allegations that constituted one posed photo in poor taste and a handful of allegations of dubious credibility.
And it already has happened with Broaddrick. We've been told that since MeToo, we're supposed to give a presumption of truth to all accusers of powerful individuals, that we can't let personal feelings or party identity get in the way, and we need to do all this to be honest and supportive of the movement. So there's almost a rush to guilt people into automatically believing people like Broaddrick.
We saw it with New York Times' columnist Michelle Goldberg:
We saw it with comedian Chelsea Handler:
But that's not how MeToo should work. We should never, ever simply believe someone accusing a powerful individual of sexual misconduct simply because they've made those accusations. That's asinine. Even if it's well intentioned, it's still asinine.
What we do have a duty to do is to consider all allegations of sexual misconduct in good faith and allow the facts to come out without preconceived biases. However, it is up to our own ability to consider those facts in good faith and without bias as to whether or not a person should ultimately be deemed believable.
And the fact of the matter is, Broaddrick and her claims that she was sexual assaulted by then Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton in 1978 is by no means a newcomer to the public eye. She's had plenty of opportunity to be heard.
Her accusations became public 19 years ago. Even before then, her claims were investigated by then Special Counsel Ken Starr. She filed a lawsuit based on her claims. The suit was ultimately dismissed. She's been on a large host of television and radio shows, pitched her book, and made her allegations well known.
And so, with that in mind, I can say this (at least for myself):
I don't believe her. I simply don't believe her. And I'm not going to be guilted into believing her simply by an appeal to "zero tolerance" or argument that this is merely cogitative dissonance on my part.
And the fact that I don't believe has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that her claims did not become public until 21 years after she said the assault took place. We all know that victims of sexual assault and violence frequently feel ashamed or afraid to come public with their claims, especially when the person they are accusing might be a beloved or high profile persona.
No, the reason I don't believe Broaddrick has nothing to do with her raising them in 1999, but rather everything she has done since that point, which has revealed her not only to be a partisan hypocrite, but someone who's glaring lack of empathy towards people supposedly similarly situated to her makes me honestly question how legitimate her own claims are.
Here's why I doubt Broaddrick's credibility and honesty:
1. The only time she has gone under oath, she vehemently denied being assaulted by Bill Clinton, in an affidavit filed in relation to the Paula Jones investigation. And while I understand why there are many victims of sexual assault who will shy away from the spotlight not wanting to relive horrific memories, committing perjury--which you have to believe Broaddrick was doing if you believe she was assaulted--is an entirely different matter altogether.
2. Ken Starr listened to her allegations and had absolutely no use for them. Let's be honest--a man so driven to impugn Bill Clinton's name that he took an investigation about a failed land deal and turned it into an investigation of a man's sex life would have somehow worked in an alleged sexual assault in some way or another if he found the source to be credible and believable. Starr's complete disinterest in Broaddrick's story speaks volumes as to her credibility.
3. The one woman who Broaddrick identifies as her main witness to corroborate her claims just so happens also to be someone with a very personal animosity towards Bill Clinton, as she was furious that Clinton as Governor commuted the death sentence of her father's killer.
4. The way Broaddrick has fashioned the story is, frankly, absolutely bizarre. If you read her account, it sounds like a poorly written Lifetime movie. She claims Clinton viciously attacked her in a hotel room, and then after he was done, he slyly put on sunglasses and quipped to her, "Better put some ice on that," as it related to a supposedly bloody lip. Who is this, Bill Clinton, or Detective Horatio Caine? Did he have a thin pencil moustache that he twirled while sneering? This doesn't seem like normal rapist behavior in reality at all. Then she goes on to accuse Hillary of intimidating her weeks later, claiming when she shook her hand at a fundraiser, she squeezed her hand vindictively and gave her a glare while she said, "We want to thank you for everything you've done." First of all, we're supposed to believe that Bill went around telling Hillary about how he raped a woman, and that Hillary was perfectly fine with that, and that she then wanted to engage in intimidation tactics to subvert claims of sexual assault. And that "We want to thank you for everything you've done" is somehow smoking gun proof of that.
5. Oh, and the fact that Juanita Broaddrick actually attended the political fundraiser of a man who she claims raped her just weeks after the alleged assault. What sort of victim would actually do such a thing? It's mind boggling nonsensical. Almost every woman who has ever been sexually assaulted can hardly stand to look at the perpetrator or hear his voice, and yet we're supposed to believe she had no qualms going to a political event for him just weeks after she claims he brutalized her?
6. And finally, and I think most importantly, two things about Juanita Broaddrick and her behavior since 1999 and especially since 2016:
a. That she has openly championed and appeared with Donald Trump, including just days after the Access Hollywood tapes came out where Trump bragged about kissing women against their will and wanting to "grab them by the pussy", i.e. sexual assault, not to mention other right wing figures (such as James Woods) who have also been accused of sexual misconduct, strikes of gross partisianship and grand hypocrisy; and even more,
b. That she has been so vocal to demean and disparage other women--such as Dr. Blasey Ford--who have accused high profile individuals of sexual assault and misconduct simply because the accused is a right wing figure. This includes accusers against Donald Trump as well.
Why should I believe someone like this? Why should anyone believe someone like this, especially after considering some of the other glaring flaws in her claims?
Someone so devoid of sympathy and empathy for people would be in the same position she wants you to place her in--why should we believe her?
I'm sorry, call me biased, call me suffering cognitive dissonance, but it reeks of stuntsmanship and contrived political hackery.
There should be no shame in saying that no, you don't believe this woman and you find her to be a vile hypocrite. Doing so is not demeaning the legitimate victims of sexual assault out there who have been traumatized and who would do anything to support another person in the same position as they are, without any regards to political identify or affiliation.
They're not going to stop mentioning Juanita Broaddrick's name. It's time to stop running away and to grab the bull by the horns.
Jimmy: Sure thing, boss. Here you go:
Producer: No, you idiot. That's Patti Labelle. I wanted Aretha Franklin.
Jimmy: Sorry, boss. I just googled "Soulful black female singer" and that's the first picture that came up. I'll try again.
Producer: Yeah, you better.
Jimmy: Got it now:
Producer: Goddammit, Jimmy, that's the Pointer Sisters and there are three of them!
Jimmy: Sorry, let me try that again:
Producer: No, no, no, no! That's American Idol Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, a.k.a. the leader of the "Soul Patrol"!
Producer: Jimmy, are you just googling the word "soul" now?
Producer: I need a picture of Aretha Franklin. Google that. Aretha.....Franklin.
Jimmy: Right on it. Yup, I got it now:
Producer: Aretha, I need Aretha Franklin! That's Benjamin Franklin, you fucking idiot. Please look up Aretha Franklin!
Jimmy: I'm pretty sure I've got it right now:
Jimmy: Yes, boss?
Producer: Why did you just give me a picture of a Christmas wreath?
Jimmy: Well, um, I.....
Producer: Fuck it, let's just run with the picture of Patti Labelle. Not like our racist ass viewers would know the difference anyways.....or, you know, care. Now, where's Ainsley Earnhardt? Apparently, she wants to tell me something very important about Communist Japan......
I dont know if anyone else here has gone through a direct hit by a hurricane. I have. Its a bizarre feeling, unique even among natural disasters.
Basically, beforehand you know whats coming. And you know its bad. And you know its big. And you know whats coming is going to create a big giant mess. And you know theres no way to escape it at this point.
Still, even so, youre not fully prepared on what to expect.
Then the hurricane hits, and its a rip roaring blur, with everything happening at a mile a minute, and you feel like youre watching things happen out of your own body. Its not quite real.
Finally the hurricane moves off, and you are left with a huge amount of damage from something that was just there but no longer there. And only then does it begin to sink in what you actually saw and lived through. And now you have the time to actually dwell on it.
We knew Trump would meet with Putin. We knew nothing good would come of it. We watched as Trump openly blamed President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the intelligence community for something Russia did. And once it was all over, the truth that the President of the United States is literally a traitorand we witnessed his treasonous behavior live on TVis beginning to sink further and further in.
I feel violated.
We should all feel violated.
**PART TWO can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416302
**PART THREE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210430029
**PART FOUR can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210567354
Rykov's melodramatic interactions with Anton Nossik were just a part of his online footprint in later years. Since leaving the Russian Duma in 2011, Rykov has moved from being an active participant in mainly Russian online circles to involving himself heavily in western social media, to say nothing about western political affairs.
Rykov's Facebook and Twitter accounts are filled with literally thousands of entries discussing the politics and news of countries worldwide. He would even create specialty Twitter accounts based on a targeted country. In August 2014, Rykov registered the Twitter account @rykov_usa. Besides re-posting a few random clickbait styled articles on topics such as Sex and the City and Chinese "facekinis", Rykov--who adopted the Anglicized "Constantine" first name for account purposes--focused almost exclusively on a single topic , that being political unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the police shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown. There was no singular message being espoused by Rykov; articles seemed to target both those angry at police as well as those critical of protestors. Rykov's U.S. targeted Twitter account did not appear to gain much traction; in the end, it only attracted 169 followers (mostly fellow Russians) and Rykov abandoned it after only two weeks. However, the account remains active for the public to see.
Rykov's direct social media involvement in other areas of the world proved to be far more substantial. Perhaps his most notorious adventure (prior to his professed involvement in the 2016 US presidential election) came out of France. As Vice News and The Telegraph reported in April 2015, a series of leaked text messages from 2014 between Rykov and Russian internal affairs department head Timur Protopenko have Rykov claiming to have communicated with Marine Le Pen regarding supporting the dubious results of a Crimean referendum supposedly endorsing the Russian annexation of that Ukrainian region following the invasion of the Crimean peninsula by unmarked Russian troops. Once it becomes clear that Le Pen has endorsed the referendum, Rykov remarked to Protopenko that "It will be necessary to thank the French in one way or another." Eight months later, Le Pen's Front National Party received a large loan financed via a Russian bank for their 2017 presidential election campaign fund.
But it was another European political referendum that served to underscore an unusual social media dynamic between Rykov and perhaps his most high-profile nemesis and spark a feud that would continue all the way through the 2016 US elections. In September 2014, voters in Scotland went to the polls to decide whether they wished to remain a part of the United Kingdom or, alternately, become fully independent of the Crown. Seeking to legitimize the controversial Crimean referendum earlier that year (that featured none of the electoral safeguards and procedures that the Scottish referendum had) Russian propagandists and trolls glommed onto the measure, hoping that a Scottish schism would damage the UK and the EU. Konstantin Rykov helped lead the charge himself, and on Twitter, temporarily adopted the handle "McRykov." While arguably this was simply a joking tribute to Scottish surnames in general, it's also possible that Rykov intended it as a mocking insult to one of his most common targets of online vitriol: former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
As the state of US-Russian relations entered a freefall around the time of Putin's return to the Russian presidency in 2012--with that freefall accelerated after the Obama administration imposed sanctions against Russia in 2014 for their illegal invasion of Ukraine's Crimean region--there were several individuals who were the target of extreme ire amongst the Russian internet community. Naturally President Obama received a brunt of the hatred, as did Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador Geoffery Pratt and State Department Spokesperson Jenn Psaki also were routinely roasted over social media by Russian trolls. But Michael McFaul was an entirely different creature from the rest altogether . Far from shy, McFaul (now a professor of political science at Stanford, a position he also held prior to his government service) made it a point to have a very visible presence over social media. Both during his tenure as ambassador and afterwards, McFaul would constantly engage followers in casual conversations with followers.
Most of these conversations were pleasant and conciliatory; however, some were decidedly not. As Ambassador, McFaul was notoriously harassed by Russian state media and saw his own family threatened while in Moscow. His treatment over Twitter was no less ruthless, and Konstantin Rykov was certainly not afraid to join in the fray.
The feud between McFaul and Rykov started in the middle of 2014, and it's clear as to the reasons behind the mutual adversity shared by these social media titans. Rykov saw McFaul as being emblematic of U.S. imperialism and interventionism in the world, a key obstacle to Russian greatness in the former Soviet world. McFaul saw Rykov as epitomizing the Kremlin's strategy of asymmetrical warfare on the West, plugging up the internet with false information and propaganda.
Things would soon come to a head between the two as the Scottish independence referendum drama unfolded in September 2014. Rykov's "McRykov" postings on Twitter failed to make sufficient inroads in the Scottish community, which voted by a 10% margin to remain part of the United Kingdom. Recognizing Rykov's role in attempting to influence public opinion, McFaul couldn't help but spike the football in the end zone and directly rub the results in Rykov's face:
One can debate whether or not a former senior government official taunting a known Russian propogandist was the wisest course of action; however, from that point forward, it was on between McFaul and Rykov. The two sparred over the 2016 election and candidates, with Rykov (and a band of supporting trolls) chiming in to McFaul's commentary on the 2015 Republican primary debates. At one point in September 2015, McFaul adroitly points out, "Pro-Putin bloggers love Trump. Follow @rykov."
But as fascinating as McFaul's willingness to engage Russia's social media army head-on is, it is Rykov's response that is even more notable. Because as Rykov's plot to influence the 2016 U.S. elections from Russia progressed deeper and deeper, Rykov increasingly felt it imperative to actively tag--and mock--McFaul (who Rykov frequently referred to as "the old man" ) as he openly discussed his operations. If anything, this underscores Rykov's modus operandi when it came to the 2016 U.S. elections, he wanted to punish the United States, and let them know they were being punished, regardless of whether Trump would ultimately win or not. A prominent and socially active figure like McFaul was the perfect conduit for a Russian ultra-nationalist like Rykov to brag to the West--to borrow the lyrics of Taylor Swift--"Look what you made me do."
So it was no real surprise that Rykov chose to tag McFaul on November 12, 2016 when he begun to tell his tale about how he claimed to have helped Donald Trump win the White House. And while that posting has slowly but surely garnered some attention amongst the internet universe, another bombshell confession by Rykov to which Rykov knowingly made McFaul privy to has gone by virtually unnoticed so far. And unlike his November 2016 confession, this prior admission occurred right in the thick of the 2016 campaign.
In July 2016, Trump campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page travelled to Moscow to ostensibly deliver an address before the New Economic School, a think tank known for attracting numerous Western figures. Page has claimed the trip to Moscow was for personal reasons only and was not sanctioned by the Trump campaign itself. However, in a July 7, 2016 Facebook posting--made while Page was still in Moscow--Rykov claims Page "came to Moscow for other reasons." He then goes on to say, "I can only imagine how worried old Michael McFaul is", tagging the former U.S. Ambassador into the post.
That's not the end of it. In the comment section in the post, when prompted by a follower, Rykov admits Page "also came to the intelligence service to understand the reaction to Donald." And in classic "Hi Mom!" fashion, McFaul jumps in and replies with a "Starik", which Rykov himself translates back as "Old friend."
Taken on its face, this is an absolutely stunning exchange that may have direct implications to the Mueller investigation. Here, we have a known Kremlin insider admitting that a member of Trump's campaign came to Moscow not just to deliver a speech on an individual basis, but rather to meet with Russian intelligence services about information pertaining to Donald Trump. All of this was freely admitted in the presence of the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. And this was all done before Christopher Steele ever reported his intelligence to the FBI in late July 2016 about Page's activities, meaning the Steele Dossier could potentially be independently verified.
As Benjamin Wittes might say, "Boom!"
One would think that McFaul would passed this invaluable information that had fallen directly into his lap onto U.S. intelligence services. And knowing Rykov's propensity to spill the beans about his actions, it's quite possible McFaul wouldn't even have to do that; intelligence may have already been monitoring Rykov's activities on his own. There's nothing whatsoever to suggest that McFaul has been co-opted by the Russian government; his harsh anti-Kremlin statements belie such a possibility. However, it's likely that McFaul knows far more about Rykov and the Kremlin propaganda machine than he is at liberty to publicly discuss. He has, however, officially branded Rykov as a Russian state sponsored agent. And his instant reaction on Twitter to Trump's electoral victory (which he shortly deleted for no specified reason) left no doubt as to Russia being the key the deciding factor in the election: "Putin intervened in our elections and succeeded. (Well done.)"
In the long running McFaul-Rykov feud, it was Rykov who appeared to have gotten the last laugh.
In the pre-dawn hours of November 9, 2016, supporters of Donald Trump gathered at the Union Jack Pub in central Moscow, just several blocks away from the Kremlin and Red Square. Customers were decked out in the navy blue Trump-Pence hats and t-shirts that had just arrived days before. Maria Katasonova--always a friend to the cameras--was there, as was Mikhail Kovalev. Also in attendance was Artem Klyushin--who partied hard with Donald Trump during his 2013 Miss Universe pageant visit--although he was without Yulya Alferova, his ex-wife who talked up Trump on Twitter on Election Day 2012 and then went on to personally talk business with Trump in 2013. An author named Cyril Benediktov hawked copies of his Russian language book Black Swan, featuring an ominous looking photo of Donald Trump on the cover. The most curious attendee of them all was Jack Hanick, an original founder of Fox News and friend to Sean Hannity who had moved to Moscow to start his own media company, Tsargrad; Hanick spoke about how both Russia and Trump sought to embrace Christian principles and regain their respective "moral compass".
The purpose of this early morning soiree was of course to celebrate the election of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency, and it was organized--and publicized via Facebook (complete with a mock invite to Michael McFaul)--by none other than Konstantin Rykov.
Partygoers were greeted at the door with the "Triptych", a three paneled painting featuring highly idealized portraits of Marine La Pen, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin all stoically looking off into the distance. Televisions inside the British styled pub blared live election coverage from CNN and other western outlets as the results from states rolled in.
A video posted to Youtube several weeks later would capture the mood at the bar that night. As more and more states were called in Trump's favor, enthusiasm of the crowd grew and grew. At one point, Katasonova grasped a fellow supporter's hand in anticipation as results were announced, her eyes watering in tears of unbelief.
And then, at a little after 3:00 in the morning Eastern standard time--or 11:00 a.m. Moscow time--the news everyone had been waiting for came across the television screens; Donald Trump was officially projected to become the 45th President of the United States.
The pub erupted in jubilation. Dmitri Drobinski--a self-described "political scientist" and close associate of Rykov's--exclaims (in English, no less): "We've done it! We've fucking done it!" Drobinski and another supporter named Egor Kholmogorov rise from their seats, and then out of a darkened corner of the bar, like a star actor returning to stage after a curtain call, Rykov emerges wearing a black hoodie jacket over his Trump-Pence t-shirt. Klyushin--who would tweet "For once, I am amazed at the genius of Rykov"--cuts across in the background. Drobinski, Kholmogorov and Rykov meet and embrace, and then break out into song. Fittingly, in this English themed pub, it's from a British band; it's the well-known, often-sung celebratory refrain from Queen's "We are the Champions."
Even approaching two years since the election of Donald Trump, it's still not completely clear how to view Konstantin Rykov. Is he a brilliant mastermind who weaponizes propaganda and shakes up Western political landscapes all for the glory of Mother Russia? Is he nothing more than a self-important braggart who tells big fish stories over the internet? Or is he somewhere in between? That has yet to be determined. Whether his name--or the name of his cohorts--will be mentioned at all in the Mueller investigation is still unknown.
Regardless, it is undisputable that for Rykov, the four-year journey between November 2012 and November 2016 was as remarkable as it was tumultuous: from openly pondering Donald Trump's state of mind on Election Day 2012, to launching subversive social media campaigns in Scotland and France; from the imposition of sanctions against Russia in 2014 for its actions in Ukraine to the development of psychometric tools for Cambridge Analytica; from his online sparring with Ambassador Michael McFaul to his bitter fallout with his former friend Anton Nossik; and ultimately ending up in the morning hours of November 9, 2016 at Moscow's Union Jack Pub, watching Donald Trump "smash America as we know it."
The singing that morning from Rykov and Company was loud, and the message was clear. "We are the champions of the world....."
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