The number weighty news stories, dropping with dizzying pace, is overwhelming for anyone. A dominant piece of the Russia/Mueller probe fell into place this week, though, and it was covered by most non-Fox stations. One morsel of that story, though, continues to be overlooked in nearly every version told. Unless, of course, you're Joy Reid.
In discussing the bizarre meeting that has captured Mueller's attention — the one on August 2, 2016 between Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Konstantin Kilimnik — is where it was held. All reports mention the meeting took place at the swanky Great Havana Room, and that the Republican platform towards Ukraine was discussed, and Trump polling data was handed off to the Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin. But nearly all neglect to mention that the Great Havana Room is in the infamous building, 666 Fifth Avenue. The one owned by Jared Kushner, and for which he is in debt up to his eyeballs. HOW IS THAT NOT IMPORTANT? Am I the only one who thinks perhaps that might also have been part of the discussions, since Jared had also been begging Qatar and Saudi Arabia for loans to help pay off his debts for this building? I'm just spitballing. Honestly, I'm likely totally off base. But it sure was great to hear it MENTIONED by Joy Reid today.
It wasn't just any old cigar club. At the very least it was a place where they could be certain they'd be safe in conferring in secrecy. So they thought, anyhow.
The rest of the segment is fab, too, of course. Michael Steele outlines how the only conceivable rationale Manafort could have for lying to Mueller would be the possibility of a presidential pardon. Craig Unger underscored and confirmed Reid's assertion that the Trump family operates exactly like a mob family, if they aren't an actual mob family themselves. Enjoy him saying how stupid Senator Richard Burr looks for saying the Intelligence Committee found no "direct evidence" of collusion — in the same week of Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who, by the way, is looking at up to 24 years in prison. Manifort, who only 10 years before the 2016 campaign, helped install a pro-Putin regime in Ukraine.
Steele wraps it up saying all they care about is money and loyalty. Never a truer word was spoken.
Partial transcript below:
STEELE: The obvious thing on the table is a twofer. The expectation that at some point, he is going to get pardons, the ultimate forgiveness of his sins by the president. I think that's what animates him and motivates him the way we have seen. So, he can go in and lie. I think there is some degree of coordination with these gentlemen with the president in that, you know, we are going to go mess up, muddy up the waters as much as possible, make it harder for stuff to stick and on the other side of that, for that good service, you know, the president is willing to make a pardon for them. There's no other reason. There's no other explanation beyond those two points for me.
REID: I mean, Craig, that sounds like mob loyalty, to be honest with you. Because at the end of the day, even if Donald Trump were to pardon Paul Manafort in the federal cases, that doesn't have anything to do with the State of New York. These crimes were committed in the State of New York. And some of the weird news stuff that we're finding, like the handing over of campaign data at the cigar bar inside of Jared Kushner's 666 Fifth Avenue. This is all, it sounds very mafia-like. Your book, one of the reasons we wanted to have you on, is that your book really talks about this sort of, like mob-ocracy that has developed around Donald Trump. Is that what this is?
UNGER: Absolutely. I think it's a real, real problem. I think one of the guys that looks really stupid this week is Senator Richard Burr, who's the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said there was no evidence, no direct evidence of collusion, but look at Roger Stone and Paul Manafort. If you look at Manafort, it goes way, way back to at least 2004-2005, when he was essentially a Russian agent being paid, his firm was being paid $10 million a year to install a Russian, a pro-Russian, pro-Putin president in Ukraine. And if you look at those campaigns that he did for President Yanukovych, they were successful. He delivered for Putin. He continued to -- in many ways, that seems to have been a dry run of what he did in 2016, putting another pro-Putin president in the White House.