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Abramson writes: "According to the Paradise Papers, billionaire Robert Mercer achieved his political objectives while making very nice tax savings."

Robert Mercer. (photo: Oliver Contreras/Getty Images)
Robert Mercer. (photo: Oliver Contreras/Getty Images)


Robert Mercer Invested Offshore Dark Money to Sink Clinton. He Must Be Delighted

By Jill Abramson, Guardian UK

11 November 17


According to the Paradise Papers, billionaire Robert Mercer achieved his political objectives while making very nice tax savings writes Jill Abramson

ven as he attempts to retreat further into the shadows of dark money, Robert Mercer can’t hide.

The reclusive hedge fund billionaire recently turned over his political operations to other family members, but his outsized role in electing Donald Trump keeps reverberating. A cache of leaked documents known as the Paradise Papers and further reporting by the Guardian revealed on Tuesday that Mercer used secret offshore companies in Bermuda to avoid taxes and fund his efforts to sink Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Leaked documents and newly obtained public filings showed how the Mercer family built a $60m war chest for conservative causes inside their family foundation by using an offshore investment vehicle to legally avoid US tax. Among the gifts from the foundation was $4.7m the Mercers gave to the Government Accountability Institute run by Steve Bannon.

Mercer used the Bermuda companies to avoid a little-known US tax of up to 39% on tens of millions of dollars in investment profits amassed by the foundation and a retirement fund for the staff of Mercer’s hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies.

Bannon’s group was crucially important because it helped create the only dossier on Russian collusion that actually affected the outcome of the 2016 election. This was not the infamous document compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, which had its own secret funding (more on that below).

It was the manuscript for the book, Clinton Cash, written by Peter Schweizer and paid for by the Government Accountability Institute. Schweizer is now editor-at-large at Bannon’s Breitbart News, also funded by the Mercers.

Clinton Cash included material derived from investigative reporting by legitimate journalists and some new donor records from the Clinton Foundation, adding a few original nuggets here and there. Its most damaging finding focused on a Russian uranium deal and a multimillion-dollar contributor to the Clinton Foundation.

The book laid out a corrupt quid pro quo in which Hillary Clinton’s state department approved the deal for Russia to acquire large US uranium assets after large contributions to the foundation from the donor and his associates.

There were obvious holes in the story. Clinton herself said she had nothing to do with approving the deal. The state department was one of nine federal agencies involved in the 2010 decision and usually approved such foreign transactions. When Trump seized on the story as a central part of his Crooked Hillary brief, Politifact rated it “mostly wrong”.

Still, Bannon, flush with the cash from Mercer’s tax-averse foundation, had amazing success getting the Schweizer dossier into the right hands, the mainstream media. The New York Times and Washington Post forged “exclusive” deals to see the Clinton Cash manuscript (AKA dossier) before publication and to use it for leads.

In April 2015 the Times published a splashy takeout on the uranium deal, also suggesting, albeit more carefully than Schweizer did, a quid pro quo. Bannon, according to the book Devil’s Bargain, considered this a triumph. Injecting a clearly partisan book into the bloodstream of the mainstream press was indeed a feat, one that damaged Clinton, as her trust and honesty ratings began a nosedive in polls.

The manuscript of the 2015 book was really the only “dossier” to do damage in the campaign. The Steele dossier, commissioned first by a conservative newspaper during the Republican primaries and then funded by a law firm that represented Clinton, became public only after the election and remains one of the murky clues in Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Just as Mueller’s expected indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, began to dominate the headlines, President Trump began ranting about the uranium deal all over again and calling on the FBI to investigate. This was classic Trump, the master of distraction. As the Russia noose was moving closer to his own neck, he let loose on Twitter and in White House statements. “Your real Russia story is uranium,” he repeated, once again decrying any allegation of Russian collusion with his own campaign as “a hoax”.

Fox and the rest of the rightwing press have also dusted off the uranium story, pinning their hopes on an FBI informant and a story published by a Washington DC newspaper, the Hill. The informant’s Republican lawyer claims he has more damaging information that may become public. We’ll see.

Another old scandal, Clinton’s supposedly unholy deal with the Democratic National Committee to screw Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic nomination has also come roaring back. This reprise comes via a new book by Donna Brazile, the Democratic apparatchik. But the early party help Clinton got was more or less known last summer when the Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails was first disclosed.

As the Democratic convention began, Brazile’s predecessor resigned. On 24 July, 2016, the Washington Post reported, “Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was forced aside by the release of thousands of embarrassing emails among party officials that appeared to show coordinated efforts to help Clinton at the expense of her rivals in the Democratic primaries.”

Brazile’s book provides more details, but so what? Between President Trump on uranium and the big headlines about Brazile’s book, you’d think Hillary Clinton was still running for president.

No doubt, the Clinton-hater Robert Mercer must be delighted. His original investment in the Government Accountability Institute has more than paid off. He not only managed to finance the successful election of Trump, but also to see his original plan to kill Clinton come back to life. And, according to the Paradise Papers, all of this was accomplished at a very nice tax saving.

It’s a Trifecta. Call it the Bermuda Triangle.


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-35 # lnason@umassd.edu 2017-11-11 11:44
The revelations in the book were not particularly crucial in convincing many voters, myself included, that Clinton was a pathological liar (as identified by Bill Safire decades ago). Whether attempting to present an image of courage (as with her false stories about landing in the Balkans amid gunfire or her daughter's hazardous position on 9/11) or her ever-changing stories about the cause of Benghazi or her "carelessness" in establishing an extra-governmen tal computer server to keep her correspondence out of reach of FOIA requests, neither Trump nor Ms. Clinton could pass my essential test for truth-telling.

As to the charge that Mercer "financed" the successful election of Trump, that is clearly nonsense. Clinton spent about twice as much money on her campaign as Trump spent on his: money was totally irrelevant to the outcome of that election outcome.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+21 # elizabethblock 2017-11-11 14:04
What I'm wondering is: With the rich paying so little in taxes - and even less, if Trump's tax reform passes - who's going to pay for all the wars?
I don't ask who's paying for all the people in prison. In many places the prisoners are charged for room and board and court time, and if they can't pay, why, they just stay in prison - even though debtors' prisons are specifically barred in the Constitution.
 
 
+15 # librarian1984 2017-11-12 13:46
They use it as an excuse to cut social programs. The neocons and neoliberals have been trying to undo FDR for decades, as Trump tries to undo Obama.

Republicanism is bitter, fearful and based on the belief people are driven by their baser instincts. Then they set off to prove it.

Their vision includes a society where the weak and poor die off quickly, the government has no responsibility to people, only corporations, including the MIIC. They want to eliminate public schools, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, privatize infrastructure and leave workers and consumers at the mercy of corporations and a corporate friendly executive, legislature and judiciary.

The military supercedes educational and jobs programs. College isn't free, like it was fifty years ago. It's often out of reach .. unless you go through the military. Unemployed? Join the military. Criminal problems? Join the military.

All the systems working together to steal our labor, our rights, our opportunities.

The military will ALWAYS have plenty of money, while citizens will be compelled to sacrifice more and more, unless we stop it.

The US needs to rekindle its anti-war movement. We are a danger to the world and neglect the citizens to feed this awful, ravenous beast.
 
 
-2 # lfeuille 2017-11-11 18:29
I don't think it had much effect. I didn't know about it 'til way after the election and I don't think most people did. There is enough to to dislike about her without dragging in rich right wing nut jobs. Her own words did her in.
 
 
0 # ericlipps 2017-11-11 22:03
Quoting lfeuille:
I don't think it had much effect. I didn't know about it 'til way after the election and I don't think most people did. There is enough to to dislike about her without dragging in rich right wing nut jobs. Her own words did her in.

I see. You didn't know about it until after the election, so obviously it couldn't have influenced anyone else.

Thank you. It's all so clear now. . . .
 
 
-5 # ericlipps 2017-11-11 22:01
Mercer's not the only one delighted. So are some folks right here in the comments section of RSN, who are perfectly willing to believe a hard-core right-wing one-percenter when it comes to Hillary Clinton but simply won't tolerate any criticism of St. Bernard of Vermont.

As for the Brazile book, it reeks of personal score-settling; I don't know how much of it is true, but I'd be very surprised if it all was.
 
 
-3 # lfeuille 2017-11-12 23:16
I don't care about her personal scores. She is performing a public service by letting the world know what went on in the DNC even if her motives aren't pure. It's important information. What you are suggesting is that she hide what should be public knowledge just so no one will say she has ulterior motives. Who cares. Everyone has ulterior motives.
 
 
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-11-12 10:16
Up until Trump won, I was very certain that Hillary would win. I think most people were. All of the dark money from the Mercers described here had little effect. Hillary poisoned her own chances by alienating democratic party voters. The turn out among progressives and African Americans -- people who would not listen to Bannon, Breitbart, Mercer -- was very low. They just were not excited about Hillary.

I agree that the Mercers are evil and they are behind Trump. That is a bad mix. But I am just as worried about the Soros money behind Clinton and many of the front organizations that support her.

All US politics now has been corrupted by evil billionaires. Until we are free from these bastards, democracy will remain only a sick joke in the US.
 
 
+6 # lfeuille 2017-11-12 23:18
I think the Soros influence is overrated. If he did everything the right ascribes to him he would be broke by now. I more worried about Goldman Sacs. We would have had them either way.
 
 
-4 # librarian1984 2017-11-12 14:06
Jill Abramson, loyal establishment reporter. Clinton's Uranium Deal .. dismissed with a sneer. The arrangement with the DNC .. dismissed with a shrug. Reliable Clinton responses to legitimate questions.

It is really dishonest to say Trump is a monster but Hillary, doing practically the same thing, is perfectly okay .. or it was a long time ago .. or someone else did it .. or Trump. Funny. "Trump", as an excuse for Democrats, really does trump everything, or so they think. We cheated the nomination race? Trump! Hillary made money by giving 20% of our uranium to Russia? Trump!! Clinton Foundation? TRUMP! Emails? We know the answer.

The writer finds fault because this is an old complaint? I have to agree. I remember people begging Clinton to clear up the email mess back in 2015 so it wouldn't become an issue during the campaign .. and she refused, on multiple occasions. Wouldn't apologize, wouldn't explain. Not until it was too late to be helpful. The usual Clinton m.o. Same with the Wall Street speeches. Who DIDN'T think those would come out at the worst possible time if she didn't confront them honestly .. and early?

I think we'll find, after Tuesday's elections, the Dem establishment will be particularly loathe to impeach Trump. He is their ticket, isn't he?They don't have to be accountable at all when they can just point to Trump. They can go back to their empty promises and word sugar candy even as they help loot the country.
 
 
+4 # PABLO DIABLO 2017-11-12 15:47
"more or less known last summer when the Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails was first disclosed."
NOT ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS CLAIM.
 
 
+3 # mathias 2017-11-13 14:43
Does anyone remember Radio Liberty? Radio Free Europe? Radio in the American Sector? Radio Marti? Now we have Citizens United. Dark pools. Everybody has an agenda.
I get Robocalls (bloody nuisance) from groups with weird names. Could even be Cozy Bear trying to sell me something, or reminding me of a Clinton quote--and there are plenty of them.
 

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