Politics

Podesta Group CEO unexpectedly quits just days after Tony’s departure

Less than two weeks after John Podesta’s brother, Tony, quit as head of the prominent Democratic lobbying group, the Podesta Group just days after it was revealed that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller was investigating Podesta for potentially violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act for his work involving Ukraine clients, Politico reported overnight that Podesta Group longtime CEO, Kimberley Fritts, is leaving the firm to start her own lobbying shop, according to three Podesta Group staffers.

Tony Podesta tapped Fritts as his successor when he announced he’d step down as chairman last week, hours after an indictment charging Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, with violating foreign lobbying law, was unsealed. As a reminder, the widely leaked indictment accused Manafort of hiring the Podesta Group to lobby for an ostensibly independent nonprofit that “was under the ultimate direction” of the Ukrainian president, his party and the Ukrainian government.

And while Fritts had been expected to relaunch the Podesta Group – under a new name of course – in the days after Podesta stepped down, after just a week of trying to hammer out the details of what the new firm would look like, Fritts announced at a staff meeting late on Thursday that she would resign and start a new firm, “exacerbating questions about the future of the Podesta Group and its dozens of employees” as Politico politely puts it. Which, of course, is a less polite way of saying that the Podesta group is almost certain to be formally charged for the same violations that dragged down Manafort.

Fitts’ was just the latest exodus from the sinking ship: last week Paul Brathwaite, a Podesta Group principal, said that he was leaving to start his own shop, Federal Street Strategies.

Politico quoted one Podesta Group staffer who described Fritts’ decision as as the next step in rebuilding the firm without Tony Podesta: “Tony Podesta’s name had become a scarlet letter,” the staffer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

Wells Fargo and Oracle, two of the firm’s highest-paying clients, cut ties with the firm, although others said last week they would stick with the Podesta Group for now.

But it’s not clear how many staffers — and how many of the firm’s clients — will follow Fritts to her new firm.

“I just don’t know,” said another Podesta Group staffer. “This is a really painful process, trying to navigate who can go with and who can be let go.”

Fritts declined to comment.

While neither Tony Podesta, nor the Podesta Group has been charged publicly with crimes in the Manafort investigation, that is likely to change in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, rival lobbying firms see the implosion of the Podesta Group as a prime moment to poach the Podesta Group’s top lobbyists. At least six other firms have reached out to Podesta

Via Zero Hedge

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In shocking purge, Saudi King arrests billionaire Prince Bin Talal, dozens of others in cabinet crackdown

In a shocking development, Saudi press Al Mayadeen reported late on Saturday that prominent billionaire, member of the royal Saudi family, and one of the biggest shareholders of Citi, News Corp. and Twitter – not to mention frequent CNBC guest – Al-Waleed bin Talal, along with ten senior princes, and some 38 ministers, has been arrested for corruption and money laundering charges on orders from the new anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while Royal princes’ private planes have been grounded.

Among those fired and/or arrested are the head of National Royal Guards, Miteb Bin Abdullah, the Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel Fakeih, and Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, the Commander of the Saudi Naval Forces.

As the local press further adds, the supreme committee chaired by Crown Prince and billionaire stops “on charges of money laundering.”

al-Waleed bin Talal is perhaps best known not only for his periodic CNBC appearances, but for his recurring on and off spats with president Trump:

Screenshot via Twitter

According to al Arabiya, among those sacked and/or arrested are Moteib Bin Abdullah, Minister of the National Guard, and Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf has been appointed as his replacement. A second Royal Order was issued to relieve Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel al-Faqieh, from his duties, and the appointment of Mohammed Al Tuwaijri as Minister of Economy and Planning.

According to a Royal Decree issued by King Salman on Saturday the anti-corruption committee is chaired by the Crown Prince with the membership of: Chairman of the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, Chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Authority, Chief of the General Audit Bureau, Attorney General and Head of State Security.

As Saudi analysts were quick to point out, the purge by the Saudi King means that King Abdallah’s last remnants (Riyad firmer gov. & head of Nat. Guard); media moguls; SAGIA & financial policy officials have been purged.

As Bloomberg notes, changing the head of the National Guard, an institution that’s been controlled by the clan of the late King Abdullah, “is not like changing the minister of oil,” said Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst with Geopolitical Futures and a senior fellow with the Center for Global Policy. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to greater fissures within the royal family.”

Arabiya adds that King Salman also issued sacking and replacement orders for Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, the Commander of the Naval Forces, is to be terminated and be retired; his replacement is Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili, to be promoted to the rank of admiral and be appointed as Commander of the Naval Forces.

Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decree. Commander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli. The king also replaced Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih withMohammad Al Tuwaijri, his deputy.

Al Tuwaijri, formerly vice minister for economy and planning, had already played a key role in shaping Saudi economic and fiscal policy over the past year. Before joining the government in May 2016 he was Middle East chief executive for HSBC. He’s served as a frequent spokesman for the government’s economic reform plan on TV and with Western journalists.

King Salman also issued an decree forming an anti-corruption committee headed by the crown prince. Its powers include the ability to trace funds and assets, and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities, along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities, according to a government statement.

The committee’s formation was deemed necessary “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds,” the Royal Order said.

Some more cynical observers noted how MBS is quickly learning from XIi Jinping “how to get rid of enemies under justification of “corruption commission” & place “friendlies” in high places.”

Others arrested include Walid bin Talal; Khaled Tuweijri; AlWalid Ibrahim; Turki Bin Naser; and others.

Putting the arrests in context, the heads of the main three Saudi owned TV networks were arrested, Alwalid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC), Saleh Kamel (ART).

As Bloomberg adds, Saudi King Salman appointed a former HSBC banker to head the country’s economy ministry and removed one of the royal family’s most prominent princes from as head of the National Guard. Separately, a number of Saudi princes and former ministers were arrested by authorities hours after the announcement of a new anti-corruption committee, with sweeping powers and headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news service reported.

Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was replaced as minister of the National Guard by Prince Khaled Ayyaf, according to a royal decree carried by state-run media late Saturday. Before his ouster, Prince Miteb was one of the few remaining senior princes to have survived a series of cabinet reshuffles that promoted allies of the crown prince, who is the king’s son and heir to the throne.

King Salman has sidelined other senior members of the royal family to prevent any opposition to the crown prince. Prince Mohammed, 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

While details remain scarce about this “Saturday of the long Saudi knives” – which some have suggested may be a countercoup attempt –  DPA confirms the Al Arabiya report that three senior state officials were sacked.

Salman relieved Prince Moteib bin Abdullah of his post as minister of the National Guard, replacing him with Khaled bin Ayaf, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported. Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decree. Commander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli.

No official explanation was given for the sackings.

In recent months, the Saudi monarch has carried out a string of reshuffles appointing young people in senior state posts. In June, Salman ousted his nephew as the crown prince and appointed his son Mohammed to become the first in line to succeed him. The monarch on Saturday ordered the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by the crown prince amid a rumoured crackdown on suspected tainted officials and royals. Mohammed, 31, is seen as the driving force behind opening up the ultra-conservative country to the outside world and weaning its economy off oil.

Furthermore, there is speculation that all private flights and VIP departures out of Saudi Arabia have been suspended temporarily, similar to what happened following the last “gentle coup” in June when Prince Mohammed (MBS), 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

According to the AngryArab blog, the removal of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah as head of the National Guard, means that “this is the first time that the National Guard is not in the hand of Abdullah or his son.

That put all apparatus of the military-intelligence network in the hands of Muhammad bin Salman.  News that Al-Walid bin Talal has been arrested and accused of money laundering.  This could be a service to Trump, who hates Al-Walid: the two fought it out on twitter during the campaign although Al-Walid tried to reconcile with Trump after his election but to no avail. 

Bin Talal’s arrest and the government reshuffle caps off a bizarre day for Saudi newsflow, which started with the resignation of Palestinian prime minister Saad al-Hariri, who announced he was quitting due to fears of an assassination plot, allegedly organized by Iran, followed shortly after by the Saudi defense forces intercepting a ballistic missile as it was about to strike the capital Riyadh.

To summarize today’s even more bizarre Saudi news day:

  • Trump urges Aramco IPO
  • Lebanon PM resigns
  • Saudis intercept missile
  • Major cabinet reshuffle; 3 Saudi princes – who run the anti-graft committee – arrested for money-laundering
  • A total of 11 princes, >30 ministers arrested on corruption

This is a developing story.

Via Zero Hedge


Featured Image: Des Runyan/Flickr

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Political analyst Donna Brazile accuses Clinton Campaign of “rigging” the Primary

Hillary Clinton now taking fire from political analyst Donna Brazile for “rigging” the Primary Election

WASHINGTON (INTELLIHUB) — Author and political analyst Donna Brazile has accused the Clinton Campaign of “rigging” the Primary in her latest piece published by Politico.

In the piece titled “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC” Brazile writes:

Before I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call.

I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.

So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations.

Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.

By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.

You can read Brazile’s entire piece for yourself at Politico.

Featured Image: Author and political analyst Donna Brazile (San Francisco Foghorn/Flickr)
©2017. INTELLIHUB.COM. All Rights Reserved.

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Political analyst Donna Brazille accuses Clinton Campaign of “rigging” the Primary

WASHINGTON (INTELLIHUB) — Author and political analyst Donna Brazille has accused the Clinton Campaign of “rigging” the Primary in her latest piece published by Politico.

In the piece titled “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC” brazille writes:

Before I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call.

I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.

So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations.

Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.

By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.

You can read Brazille’s entire piece for yourself at Politico.

Featured Image: Author and political analyst Donna Brazille (San Francisco Foghorn/Flickr)
©2017. INTELLIHUB.COM. All Rights Reserved.

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Trump confirms “all JFK files are released” after latest clash with spy agency

Update: Following Friday’s disappointing release of some, but not all, remaining files related to the death of President John F. Kennedy, President Trump just confirmed, via tweet, that the rest of the files are released, well ahead of schedule…

Of course, given that this is the government – and the government does not work weekends – the files are unlikely to be released on to the official National Archives site until Monday.

This appears to be a victory for Trump in his never-ending battle with the intelligence agencies.

*  *  *

As we detailed earlier, The Deep States’ ‘war’ with President Trump may sink from the headlines every so often, but there is little doubt that it continues to bubble away, battle after battle. This week’s delayed, reduced… and now soon-to-be-complete release of the rest of the previously classified JKF files is yet another clash with the spy agencies… and this time President Trump may have won…

As AP’s Zeke Miller writes, it was a showdown 25 years in the making: With the world itching to finally get a look at classified Kennedy assassination files, and the deadline for their release just hours away, intelligence officials were still angling for a way to keep their secrets. President Donald Trump, the one man able to block the release, did not appreciate their persistence. He did not intend to make this easy.

Like much else surrounding investigations of the 1963 killing of President John F. Kennedy, this week’s release of 2,800 records from the JFK files was anything but smooth. It came together only at the last minute, with White House lawyers still fielding late-arriving requests for additional redactions in the morning and an irritated Trump continuing to resist signing off on the request, according to an account by two White House officials. They spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.

The tale of the final hours before the congressionally mandated 25-year release deadline on Thursday adds a new chapter to the story of Trump’s troubled relationship with his spy agencies. He again flashed his skepticism and unpredictability in dealing with agencies long accustomed to a level of deference. Intelligence officials, meanwhile, were again left scratching their heads about a president whose impulses they cannot predict.

And those officials had their own story tell, some rejecting the notion they were slow to act on Trump’s expectations for the documents. The CIA began work months ago to get its remaining assassination-related documents ready for release on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the process. The person, who was not authorized to publicly to discuss the process and spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the goal was to have all the agency’s documents ready to be released in full or with national security redactions before the deadline.

Since taking office, Trump has challenged the integrity of intelligence leaders, moved to exert more control over U.S. spying agencies and accused his predecessor of using government spycraft to monitor his campaign. In the JFK files matter, one White House official said, Trump wanted to make clear he wouldn’t be bullied by the agencies.

Whatever occurred in the lead-up to deadline day, Trump was irritated Thursday that agencies still were arguing for more redactions. The president earlier in the week had tweeted to tease the release of the documents, heightening the sense of drama on a subject that has sparked the imaginations of conspiracy theorists for decades. Under a 1992 law, all of the records related to the assassination were to be made public unless explicitly withheld by the president.

Just before the release Thursday, Trump wrote in a memorandum that he had “no choice” but to agree to requests from the CIA and FBI to keep thousands of documents secret because of the possibility that releasing the information could still harm national security. Two aides said Trump was upset by what he perceived to be overly broad secrecy requests, adding that the agencies had been explicitly warned about his expectation that redactions be kept to a minimum.

“The president and White House have been very clear with all agencies for weeks: They must be transparent and disclose all information possible,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Friday.

Late last week, Trump received his first official briefing on the release in an Oval Office meeting that included Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House Counsel Don McGahn and National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg. Trump made it clear he was unsatisfied with the pace of declassification.

Trump’s tweets, an official said, were meant as a signal to the intelligence community to take seriously his threats to release the documents in their entirety.

According to White House officials, Trump accepted that some of the records contained references to sensitive sources and methods used by the intelligence community and law enforcement and that declassification could harm American foreign policy interests. But after having the scope of the redactions presented to him, Trump told aides he did not believe them to be in the spirit of the law.

On Thursday, Trump’s top aides presented him with an alternative to simply acquiescing to the agency requests: He could temporarily allow the redactions while ordering the agencies to launch a new comprehensive examination of the records still withheld or redacted in part.

Trump accepted the suggestion, ordering that agencies be “extremely circumspect” about keeping the remaining documents secret at the end of the 180-day assessment.

“After strict consultation with General Kelly, the CIA and other agencies, I will be releasing ALL JFK files other than the names and addresses of any mentioned person who is still living,” Trump wrote in a Friday tweet.

“I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest.”

Via Zero Hedge


Featured Image: John F. Kennedy, wife Jacqueline and daughter Caroline. (thesmuggler- Night of the Swallow” /Flickr)

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