Quick Takes: The Eighth Man In the Room

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* We now know that there were eight people who attended the meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives on June 9, 2016. The latest that was added to the list is Ilke Kaveladze. According to his lawyer, he was there to represent his boss, Aras Agalarov, who organized the meeting. Apparently his previous job involved laundering money for the Russian mafia.

Kaveladze was the president of International Business Creations, a Delaware corporation. Between 1991 and 2000, IBC and sister corporation Euro-American moved $1.4 billion from Eastern Europe through U.S. banks and back to Europe, the Government Accountability Office found in 2000…

“The president of IBC told us that the bank accounts were formed to move money out of Russia,” the GAO report reads, apparently referring to Kaveladze. It adds that he confirmed he’d misled the banks about the due dilligence he’d done in investigating the banks.

“He also told us that Euro-American is currently being liquidated due in part to concerns about money-laundering issues that were raised in 1999 when the media reported allegations that Russian organized crime had laundered billions of dollars through the Bank of New York,” the report said.

The list of attendees at this meeting now includes:

1. Donald Trump, Jr.
2. Jared Kushner – Trump’s son-in-law
3. Paul Manafort – Trump’s campaign manager
4. Natalia Veselnitskaya – Russian lawyer for Prevezon
5. Rinat Akhmetshin – Russian-born lobbyist for Prevezon, who was once a Soviet counterintelligence officer
6. Rob Goldstone – music promoter for Emin Agalarov
7. Anatoli Samochornov – interpreter, former State Dept. employee
8. Ilke Kaveladze – employee representing Agalarov

I have no idea what Kaveladze adds to this list other than to emphasize the central role played by Aras Agalarov in the whole affair.

* As we are poised to watch the official death of Trumpcare, this chyron and tweet speak volumes.

* Tomorrow marks six months since Trump was inaugurated. The Dallas Morning News decided to mark the occasion by listing his “accomplishments.” They divided them into three categories, (1) foreign policy, (2) domestic policy and (3) institutional damage. Lets take a look at that third group:

-Committed potentially impeachable offenses of obstructing justice that prompted appointment of a Special Counsel by firing FBI Director James Comey, because of his probe into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia, and urging other intelligence officials to pressure Comey to halt the probe.

-Undermined the courts with denunciations of judges and their decisions affecting his administration’s policies, especially those curbing his hastily issued ban on Muslim travel from certain countries.

-Without evidence, accused former President Barack Obama of illegally wiretapping his phones.

-Repeatedly misrepresented his administration’s policies and trashed officials with whom he has disagreements, calling the ousted Comey “a nut job,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer the “head clown” and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi an “incompetent.”

-Intensified racial and other divisions by reducing governmental civil rights guarantees and reversing protections for sexual and racial minorities.

-Violated his own self-proclaimed ethics laws by allowing officials to deal with issues affecting their former employers. Permitted multiple instances in which he and other family members benefit financially from his presidency.

-Waged a vendetta against news outlets subjecting his administration to scrutiny, calling the mainstream media the “enemy of the American people” and denouncing unfavorable stories as “fake news.” Undercut White House press institutions intended to facilitate dialogue between the presidency and the public.

* Pubic Policy Polling released the data from their latest national poll. Beyond the headlines, this stood out to me:

Health care could have big electoral implications in 2018. 53% of voters said they were less likely to vote for a member of Congress if they supported the health care bill being considered, to only 21% who said they’d be more likely to support a member who voted yes. One thing that’s particularly notable is the division even within the Republican base on that front. Only 36% of GOP voters would be more likely to support a member of Congress if they voted for that health care bill, to 32% who would be less likely to. That suggests bucking the party on health care isn’t the kind of thing that’s so unpopular it would have much chance of leading to a successful primary challenge from the right.

With all of the talk about what Democrats need to do to win over Trump voters, it looks like the most impactful position has been to defend Obamacare and defeat Republican attempts to repeal/replace it.

* Finally, today is Nelson Mandela’s 99th birthday. In honor of him, I’d like to share one of my very favorite videos. If you don’t know about Johnny Clegg’s music, this is a great introduction. But ever since I saw Mandela appear on stage with him, the words he spoke have become a mantra: “It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world, and at peace with myself.” Those are words to live by.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .