In February 2018, YouTube started listing that ‘RT is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government’ on videos posted to RT’s YouTube channel. This change seems to be the consequence of attempts at enforcement of FARA-style regulation on social media in an attempt to curb the effects of state sponsored propaganda narratives. It also seems to be related to the near-unanimous assessment of the intelligence community as released in January 2017 that RT had been used as a malign influence vehicle for the Russian government campaign to subvert the 2016 US Presidential election.
Apparently, these findings were no ethical deterrent for the “Nostradamus of the legal scene”, Michael Avenatti – attorney for Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford) – to appear on Larry King’s RT show on April 12, 2018 to make the case why he felt that it was common sense that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen would “roll over”; and that Cohen’s actions related to Stormy Daniels could lead to impeachment, or otherwise “end very, very badly” for the President.
In a back-to-back segment on the same program, Larry King also hosted former Congressman David Jolly (R-FL Pinellas). Jolly spoke on the matter of Paul Ryan’s announcement that he would not be seeking reelection (he had no on-air time with Avenatti, and the topics – although not necessarily the impeachment-orientated subject matter – of the discussions were different).
Jolly argued that Ryan’s departure meant the ‘end of’ the Republican Party ’as we know it’, and that the “bottom [was] falling out for Republicans” and that it has become “the party of Trump”; and that he assumed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions , which would lead to a scenario that Trump is “going to fire [Independent Counsel Robert] Mueller”, which in turn would lead to some kind of impeachment inquiry against the President.
Again, in July 2018, David Jolly appeared on King’s RT show – introduced as a ‘(Teddy) Rooseveltian’ “Bull Moose Republican”, where he elaborated in greater detail on his prior statements. He acknowledged the intelligence community consensus regarding Russian involvement in the ‘hacking’ of the 2016 election; but he posited that Trump had not ‘confronted’ Putin enough – likely due to being in the pocket of the Russian leader – as much as he felt that we do ‘need warmer relations’ with Russia here in the United States.
In this episode, Jolly suggested that if Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in November 2018 following mid-term Congressional elections, that they will initiate hearings which could lead to impeachment proceedings against President Trump and that “this is going to create great anxiety among voters”; and that Republicans are “terrified” of this prospect. Though Jolly seemed confident the Republican base will side with Trump no matter what happens, in part because of Trump’s ability to undermine “Bob Mueller’s credibility”. Perhaps because of this, Jolly says he thinks it could very well be that the sexual scandals surrounding the President (esp. Stormy Daniels) pose a bigger threat to the administration than Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Of course, it is probably simply a coincidence that Jolly and Avenatti appeared on the same RT show together in April 2018. However, it is telling perhaps in terms of the ethics of both that they appeared on RT in a period where the outlet was already labeled “funded in whole or in part by the Russian government” on YouTube, and had also already been identified prominently in the 2017 intelligence community assessments about Russian subversion of the 2016 elections.
Beyond this, it seems interesting that RT in the post-election period continues to appear to leverage its prior support of Trump to make a case that he ought to be impeached; which seems to logically connect with a strategy that would sow discord and chaos in US society.
As recently introduced, there seems to be at least a notable connection between Scientology members and Michael Avenatti in regards to the civil case brought by Mark Burton, husband of Cathriona White. White was a Scientologist in-training, who at the time of her 2015 suicide by drug overdose was dating (former Scientology conversion target) Jim Carrey – but had actually recently been married to Burton in what Carrey alleged was a scheme to get permanent US residency. The drugs which White overdosed on were in the name of an alias used by Carrey, but Carrey alleged that they had been stolen from him. Avenatti portrayed a convincing advocate for the deceased, arguing the case was so suspicious, it should be referred to Los Angeles law enforcement authorities for criminal investigation.
Such criminal charges have never been brought, and the civil suit was dismissed in large part apparently based on the suspicious nature of White’s marriage to Burton as well as evidence which showed that medical records alleging the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases by Carrey to White – a core part of the case – had apparently been forged.
White had been involved with Scientology since at least 2009 when she moved to the United States and in 2010 had staged a ‘fake wedding’ with another Scientologist in order to obtain photographic evidence she was married when she wasn’t. Burton, a lifelong Scientologist – was the stepson of Duke Snider, himself described as “…a lifelong Scientologist who was one of the organization’s most notorious spies, who pleaded guilty to his involvement in the 1970s ‘Snow White Program,’ where Scientology operatives plotted to infiltrate federal agencies in order to undermine their investigations.”
Similarly to how Avenatti has had to deny and downplay an association with Scientology due to the Cathriona White case, David Jolly has a politically scandalous association with Scientology; in no small part due to the fact that he represented the district encompassing Clearwater Florida (Pinellas County), which is the Scientology “spiritual headquarters”, or “Mecca”.
In summary, both David Jolly and his wife have been involved in public events with the Church. A 2018 legal judgement against a Twitter user from Clearwater who had urged people to shoot Jolly over his supposed connections to Scientology was ordered to remain 1000 feet from Jolly – including his “place of worship”. Jolly had employed figures who worked at a high level in Scientology-promoted groups. Jolly had also received political donations from David Minkoff, a Scientologist who donates infrequently to political campaigns (and had otherwise been associated with one of the organization’s most notorious and mysterious deaths). Despite these facts, Jolly has not declared himself a member of the Church – nor has he denounced them. Most such discussions seem to fall in the ‘non denial denial’ category, although his campaigns have apparently tried to hide the connection when possible.
At one point in 2014, Jolly was the front-runner to succeed Marco Rubio for his Senate seat, but he apparently lost support from Republicans. During the campaign, Jolly’s Wikipedia page was scrubbed of Scientology references by a campaign communications consultant which then – not surprisingly – drew additional scrutiny of those connections. The Church also defended Jolly, calling media criticism of Jolly’s participation in events with the group a “cheap shot”.
Here it should also perhaps be appropriate to highlight Larry Flynt, who has offered a $10 million-dollar reward for information leading to the impeachment of Donald Trump; and has a history of involvement in the promotion of similar campaigns against Republican members of Congress in the past (esp. David Vitter and Bob Livingston of Louisiana), working in conjunction with the investigator Dan Moldea. Flynt made his offer in October 2017, just months before Daniels came forward as represented by Avenatti. (For more background on how I have connected Larry Flynt to the promotion of ‘anti-fascist’ conspiracies, especially around Jimmy Hoffa, see here.)
In 2009, running on the heels of the scandal which had been generated by Flynt against Louisiana Senator David Vitter, Stormy Daniels had strongly considered running for Vitter’s seat under the so-called “Draft Stormy” petition, and she had publicly asked Flynt to be her campaign manager, though such an association never apparently came to fruition. In 2018, Flynt has acknowledged the Stormy Daniels case – saying he hopes she is successful in those endeavors – and he even apparently gave her stripping work at his Shreveport Louisiana club.
Like Jolly, Flynt too has been a semi-regular guest on Larry King’s RT incarnation (as well as having his financially-incentivized political kompromat operations covered by RT in a generally positive fashion). It would seem that what little political exposure Stormy Daniels had in the years prior to 2018, it was also closely ‘thematically associated’ with the political ‘active measures’ of Larry Flynt, especially as it related to his contemporaneous targeting of Vitter.
Flynt’s 2007-2008 media campaign against David Vitter had been based on the obtaining of phone records from the operations of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called ‘D.C. Madame’ by Dan Moldea. When Palfrey hung herself at her mother’s home in Tarpon Springs Florida (just 20 minutes from Clearwater) in May 2008, it provided the basis for significant conspiracy thinking.
“During several recent appearances on The Alex Jones Show, Palfrey also said that she was at risk of being killed and that authorities would make it look like suicide. She made it clear that she was not suicidal and if she was found dead it would be murder…Palfrey had threatened to release the names of well-known clients of her upscale call girl ring in the nation’s capitol, and had indicated that Dick Cheney may be one of them…“No I’m not planning to commit suicide,” Palfrey told The Alex Jones Show on her last appearance, “I’m planning on going into court and defending myself vigorously and exposing the government,” she said.’” (Prison Planet (2008) as reported by Huffington Post via Fox News)
Dan Moldea, who had been collaborating on a book with Palfrey at the time of her death stands firmly by the sober conclusion that she did kill herself under the threat of the prison time based on the conversations he had with her and his analysis of the media reports. The Alex Jones narrative of the Palfrey death which conflicted with the Moldea narrative in particular promoted a belief that Palfrey was in fear for her life of being “suicided” by the government because she was prepared to give damaging testimony against powerful law enforcement and political figures. (Perhaps aside from providing ‘credibility’, Moldea’s traditionally politically-‘left’ narrative did not need the conspiratorial angle as it had apparently already served the political purpose of attacking Vitter — the first Republican elected to the US Senate in Louisiana since Reconstruction — Alex Jones had that irrational conspiracy piece covered on the ‘right’ side of the spectrum.)
Altogether, the Palfrey death had the appearance of a ‘weaponized suicide’ narrative as potentially noted in the prior case of Cathriona White (or even potentially Anthony Bourdain). It is clearly most likely that Palfrey killed herself, but it also seems apparent that she had laid down a strong foundation for that suicide to be interpreted in the context of a political-government conspiracy (against the US), in a way which would now seem almost too-common for Alex Jones and in alignment with Russian interests, and also generally with the idea of conspiracism as a ‘populist theory of power’ as leveraged by Russia.
(I think it is also worth noting that a prior ‘D.C. Madam’, Henry Vinson, had much more open connections to Scientology than Ms. Palfrey may or may not have had, as perhaps suggested by the location of her death.)
This does seem to raise some serious questions about the underlying truth of Russia’s conspiracy theories about Donald Trump.
- Why would folks like Avenatti or Jolly feel comfortable to go on RT during a period it is strongly associated with state-sponsored disinformation and the undermining of US democracy?
- Why would RT feel comfortable to promote narratives oriented towards impeaching Trump after trying to get him elected in the first place (as determined by the intelligence community)? (A pattern also seen in the promotion of Michael Moore content on RT.)
- Despite Scientology ‘strangely and without explanation’ “after decades” getting IRS tax-exempt status in 1993 during the Bill Clinton administration (and potentially supported by Larry Flynt’s alliances with the Clintons in the context of this story), is the same pattern observed in the Scientology voting community as may be expressed by Russian strategy? Why would the Scientologists (presumably) vote for Trump if they were at risk of him taking away that coveted tax exempt status?
- Is there a connection between Russia and Scientology as some allege which connects also to Michael Avenatti and the Stormy Daniels story? Does Avenatti’s campaigning for Democratic candidates close to Scientology headquarters while simultaneously building momentum for a 2020 Presidential bid against Trump suggest financial sponsorship from members of Scientology beyond Avenatti’s prior representation of Burton (which was not a direct Church-sponsored client relationship)?
- Do the politics of Larry Flynt somehow connect the activities of Stormy Daniels to Scientology, as perhaps noted by her representation by Avenatti and the common association around David Vitter? (She herself had 2009 residency in Tampa (proximate to Clearwater) as evidenced by police reports, despite her intent to run for Senate in her home state of Louisiana where she’d sought Flynt’s support in 2009.) What about Deborah Jeane Palfrey? Did she have a connection to Scientology?
Very similarly to how Larry Flynt’s status as a free-speech advocate popularly exists within the context of anti-fascist sentiment and has apparently been ‘weaponized’ for purposes of Russian subversion; it has been longstanding to make similar comparisons to the free speech rights of Scientologists – who in response to federal raids stemming from ‘Operation Snow White’ publicly referred to the government agents as “Nazi“, “Gestapo“, and “fascist“ for perceived attacks on First Amendment rights. Perhaps this provides some context for cooperation between the apparently distinct groupings of the folks who craft the political exposes over at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Magazine and the ‘investigative activities’ of the Church of Scientology.
Maybe the back-to-back nature of Michael Avenatti and David Jolly on RT within the context of impeaching Trump using a very ‘Larry Flynt’-style political dirty tricks model is quite telling somehow regarding the Stormy Daniels case, and what it might mean within a Russian ‘active measures’ context. If Jolly’s perspectives are any indication of the official position of the Church of Scientology – and I am not saying they are – it would also seem that they have a strong anti-Trump stance which ‘portend doom’ for the Republicans.
Whether or not there is an involvement of Scientology in the current political crisis (which would also not seem unprecedented given the ‘Operation Snow White’ case), it would be reasonable to assume that based on these RT appearances alone — that Putin might like to see Trump impeached for the chaos it would cause, as much as he might like people to think that Trump is actually compromised by his Russian relationships.