If you had told me 10 years ago that my favorite TV programming would one day be day-long congressional testimonies, I would’ve probably said…that sounds about right. Because I’ve always been and always will be a huge nerd. Anyway, these days congressional testimonies are like, totally a thing and yesterday’s showing by Attorney General William Barr was no exception.
For those who have jobs preventing them from watching hours of C-SPAN with the analytical prowess usually reserved for “Game of Thrones,” the Barr hearing was a bit more subdued than the blockbuster dramas spawned of the Kavanaugh and Cohen hearings, but that’s only because Bill Barr is masterful at the strategy of not answering a single question in order to avoid a perjury charge. Mind you, I’m calling this hearing “low-key” despite the fact that it resulted in multiple Democrats calling for Barr’s resignation. That’s just a regular Wednesday now.
As this hearing was a little low on scandalous soundbites and meme-able moments, you may have missed some of the more esoteric questions about Barr’s deeply manipulative approach to law enforcement (that’s me giving you the benefit of the doubt here Bill, because in reality I think you are prob a straight up cRiMiNaL).
One of these questions came from Senator Dick Durbin (D-CT-DUH) who spent his time asking Barr whether or not he had discussed with the president the 14 other criminal investigations that had been spun off the Mueller investigation (remember when Hillary had that many investigations spun off her emails?). Also whether he will recuse himself, which was obviously a nah.
Not only did Barr refuse to recuse (someone should put that on a shirt – you’re welcome for the idea, MAGA people) from those 14 spinoff investigations, but there was another case that Durbin asked about: the 1MDB case. While this initially seemed like it didn’t have anything to do with Trump (a rare thing these days), it turns out that it actually does. Sigh. Because as we can see through things like fraternity rush, scum always manages to find each other. And surprise surprise, Bill Barr has a conflict of interest in this case too, as well as yet another opportunity to protect Trump from having his financial schemes prosecuted.
The 1MDB case is a wild financial scandal involving Leonardo DiCaprio, Miranda Kerr, and the prime minister of Malaysia. That’s not a Zoolander joke, it’s real. So what’s a bridge troll like Bill Barr doing amongst all these hot people?
What is 1MDB?
1MDB stands for 1 Malaysia Development Berhad. It was founded by a lil scammer named Jho Low, a guy who climbed the ranks of Malaysian society to become embedded amongst the upper echelons. He was known for throwing insanely lavish parties around the world and spending unnecessary amounts of money in an effort to show how rich he was, while actually running a Ponzi scheme and money laundering operation. Praise be, we have a bigger, better Billy McFarland.
After a lot of desperate but effective social climbing, Jho Low became friends with the prime minister of Malaysia. His ties to the prime minister enabled him to establish 1MDB, which was ostensibly a sovereign wealth fund for Malaysia, funded partly by the Malaysian taxpayers, and partly by investors like Goldman Sachs and other (real) sovereign wealth funds. In reality, it was a complete front, used to line the pockets of Jho Low, the prime minister/his cronies, and fund random expensive vanity projects, all while essentially pilfering the country rather than legitimately investing its funds.
As with any good scam, 1MDB had barely any employees but used the legitimate-sounding idea of being the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund in order to get people to give them money to allegedly fund infrastructure projects in Malaysia and oil business with the Gulf states (what else is new). They then laundered large portions of the money that was lent to them into offshore bank accounts in the Seychelles, Cayman Islands, and Switzerland (be more obvious). Once laundered, they used the money, estimated at totaling $4.5 billion, for the following: parties, private jets, champagne, giant diamonds for the prime minister’s wife and Miranda Kerr (yes really*), financing the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, flying celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Swizz Beatz around to emcee the aforementioned parties, and other passé billionaire activities.
This whole thing came under DOJ investigation when the prime minister’s stepson made some sketchy property purchases with money from 1MDB, which essentially led to the whole thing being uncovered. Goldman Sachs also came under investigation for money laundering after lending 1MDB $3 billion dollars, while Goldman Sachs bro Tim Leissner pled guilty to skimming more than $200 million off of these transactions.
How Is Bill Barr Involved?
Goldman Sachs, which really should have known better, is being represented in the DOJ investigation by the law firm Kirkland and Ellis, where Bill Barr used to work. And when I say “used to work” I don’t mean like, five jobs ago. I mean as recently as he wrote on his financial disclosure form to become attorney general that he has earned over $1.2 million from the firm since March 2017.
As with every investigation Bill Barr has no business overseeing, he has received a waiver that allows him to not recuse himself from the ongoing DOJ and FBI investigations into the entire 1MDB matter, despite the fact that he has this obvious conflict.
Who Gave Him The Waiver
White House lawyer Emmet Flood. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
We’re officially one year deep into the Mueller investigation or, depending on whose Twitter account you’re refreshing these days, the Mueller “witch hunt.” While the majority of Americans (52%) see Mueller’s investigation into shady dealings between the Trump campaign and Russia is legit, only 30% of Republicans think the special counsel investigation should continue. So to help our dedicated readers decide where they land on the “witch hunt” vs “legitimate investigation” debate we’ve decided to round up everything Robert Mueller has found so far. You know, because witch hunts typically lead to tons and tons of evidence.
Bobby and his coven have secured indictments from 13 Russian nationals, 3 Russian companies, and one Paul Manafort since he was appointed special prosecutor on May 17th, 2017.
While the Russian indictments are more for show (spoiler alert: they’re not coming back to the U.S. to be prosecuted), Manafort remains in what we in the biz call “a lot of fucking trouble.” The former Trump campaign chairman has pleaded not guilty to 5 charges of conspiracy, money laundering, and failure to disclose assets in D.C.. But that’s nothing compared to the 18 charges dealing with tax, financial, and bank fraud he now faces in Virginia. Is Manafort a good witch, or a bad witch? Only time will tell.
5 Guilty Pleas
And here are your (all male) guilty pleas…
George Papadopolous: George Papadopolous, or “Poppy” as I like to call him, is a former Trump foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty on October 5, 2017 to charges of making false statements to the FBI. Paps is accused of meeting with the Russians in an attempt to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, and made at least six requests for Trump or his campaign staff to meet with Russians and Russian politicians between March and September of 2016. He’s also accused of getting drunk and telling an Australian diplomat Moscow’s whole plan to release HRC’s emails, which makes him both stupid and relatable.
Michael Flynn: Mike Flynn, the OG shady Trump bro, pleaded guilty to charges of providing false statements to the FBI in December of 2017. You might remember him from being the first of approximately one million people who have resigned from the Trump admin, after it came out that he “misled Mike Pence” about communications he had with Russian ambassador and world’s-most-forgettable-man Sergei Kislayak. Flynn is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, and faces allegations of accepting money from foreign nationals without approval and enchanting an old Ford Angelina to fly without a license.
Richard Pienado: Richard Pienado is the biggest rando on the list, but don’t sleep on his crimes. Richy pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the indictments of 13 Russian nationals and companies. Pienado ran an online service called “Auction Essistance” (Literally, it’s spelled “essistance”) which he used to buy and sell account numbers some of which were sold to — you guessed it — Russian troll farms using American identities to interfere in the election. TBH you’d think a witch would be better at covering up their crimes…
Rick Gates: Mr. Gates is a political consultant, lobbyist, and BFF to Paul Manafort who pleaded guilty to charges of making false statements to the FBI (classic) and conspiracy. Gates took a plea deal with Mueller, and is now juggling cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation and studying for his O.W.Ls.
Alex van der Zwaan: Despite what his name might suggest, Alex van der Zwaan is not a character on Gossip Girl. He is, in fact, a London lawyer who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and an “unnamed person” based in the Ukraine. He was the first person sentenced in the Mueller probe, where he served 30 days in prison. Better than being burned at the stake, I guess.
So to recap: Two top officials admitted to lying to the FBI about their contacts with the Russians, one person actually served jail time, and five people are cooperating with Mueller’s team. Just like the Sanderson sisters.
Soooo Many Interviews
Mueller honestly should be the next Katie Couric considering how much time he’s spent interviewing people. The Mueller team has interviewed Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, James Comey, Stephen Miller, Sally Yates, Mike Pompeo, Don McGhan, Hope Hicks, Jeff Sessions, Hagrid, Goody Proctor, and Elphaba and all in connection to the Russia probe.
So who’s left to be interviewed? Don Jr., Ivanka, and the Headmaster of Hogwarts himself, Donald J. Trump.
1 Grand Jury
If AHS season 3 taught us anything, it’s that catching witches requires multiple witch hunters. That’s why on August 3, 2017, Mueller empaneled a grand jury in D.C. with the power to subpoena documents, require witness testimony, and issue indictments. There is also a separate grand jury investigating Michael Flynn because, like I said, catching witches takes a lot of manpower.
The aforementioned grand jury has issued 4 subpoenas for matters related to the infamous June 9th meeting at Trump Tower which Don Jr. so graciously leaked all the receipts about.
So far, Mueller and the grand jury have secured testimonies under oath from a Rinah Akhmetshin (A Russian-born lobbyist and former Soviet Army officer), Jason Maloni (a former spokesman for Paul Manafort), Carter Page (former Trump campaign ad and douchebag stereotype), Sam Clovis (current senior White House official and former TV personality because that’s the world we live in), and George Nader (Lebanese-American businessman with ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE).
The New York Times also reported that they subpoenaed none other than living horcrux Steve Bannon, but that he struck a deal to be interviewed by prosecutors rather than testifying before the grand jury. His horrific presence is probably the witchiest thing about this whole investigation considering someone must have summoned him from the grave to testify.
UPDATE: Literally minutes after we first published this article news broke that Mueller’s team issued two subpoenas to Jason Sullivan a “social media expert” (same) hired by Trump adviser/Dark Lord Roger Stone. Spooky.
And A Partridge In A Pear Tree
If the partridge is Donald Trump, and the pear tree is an ever-expanding web of financial and international crimes.
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