George Papadopoulos

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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:32 am

Does This Man Know More Than Robert Mueller?
Glenn Greenwald’s war on the Russia investigation.
By Simon van Zuylen-Wood
January 21, 2018

It’s 10:45 p.m. Rio de Janeiro time. Glenn Greenwald and I are finishing dinner at a deserted bistro in Ipanema. The restaurant, which serves its sweating beer bottles in metal buckets and goes heavy on the protein, is almost aggressively unremarkable (English menus on the table, a bossa-nova version of “Hey Jude” on the stereo). Greenwald avoids both meat and alcohol but seems to enjoy dining here. “I really believe that if I still lived in New York, the vast majority of my friends would be New York and Washington media people and I would kind of be implicitly co-opted.” He eats a panko-crusted shrimp. “It just gives me this huge buffer. You’ve seen how I live, right? When I leave my computer, that world disappears.”

Greenwald, now 50, has seemed to live in his own bubble in Rio for years, since well before he published Edward Snowden’s leaks and broke the domestic-spying story in 2013 — landing himself a Pulitzer Prize, a book deal, and, in time, the backing of a billionaire (that’s Pierre Omidyar) to start a muckraking, shit-stirring media empire (that’s First Look Media, home to the Intercept, though its ambitions have been downgraded over time). But he seems even more on his own since the election, just as the agitated left has regained the momentum it lost in the Obama years.

The reason is Russia. For the better part of two years, Greenwald has resisted the nagging bipartisan suspicion that Trumpworld is in one way or another compromised by a meddling foreign power. If there’s a conspiracy, he suspects, it’s one against the president; where others see collusion, he sees “McCarthyism.” Greenwald is predisposed to righteous posturing and contrarian eye-poking — and reflexively more skeptical of the U.S. intelligence community than of those it tells us to see as “enemies.”

And even if claims about Russian meddling are corroborated by Robert Mueller’s investigation, Greenwald’s not sure it adds up to much — some hacked emails changing hands, none all that damaging in their content, maybe some malevolent Twitter bots. In his eyes, the Russia-Trump story is a shiny red herring — one that distracts from the failures, corruption, and malice of the very Establishment so invested in promoting it. And when in January, as “Journalism Twitter” was chastising the president for one outrage or another, Congress quietly passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize sweeping NSA surveillance, you had to admit Greenwald might have been onto something.

“When Trump becomes the starting point and ending point for how we talk about American politics, [we] don’t end up talking about the fundamental ways the American political and economic and cultural system are completely fucked for huge numbers of Americans who voted for Trump for that reason,” he says. “We don’t talk about all the ways the Democratic Party is a complete fucking disaster and a corrupt, sleazy sewer, and not an adequate alternative to this far-right movement that’s taking over American politics.”

Greenwald’s been yelling about this, quite heatedly, since before the election. “In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast As Putin Plots,” reads the headline of an Intercept piece published in October 2016. “The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook,” reads another, from February 2017. As Mueller’s investigation widened, no fallen domino — not the guilty plea of former Trump national-security adviser Michael Flynn, not the indictment of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort — chastened Greenwald. When it was recently reported that Steve Bannon had lobbed a “treason” charge in the direction of Donald Trump Jr. — precipitating his break with the president — Greenwald rolled his eyes. Bannon’s “motives are pure & pristine and he is simply trying to inform the public about the truth,” Greenwald tweeted sarcastically.


Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro Photo: Sebastian Palmer
This is a year in which even the most anti-Establishment liberals have found themselves rooting for Mueller, a Republican who ran George W. Bush’s war-on-terror FBI. “It is not an insubstantial portion of Democratic online loyalists who believe that if you deviate from Democratic Party orthodoxy on the Trump-Russia question, you are a paid Kremlin agent,” Greenwald says. And many of those who don’t believe Greenwald works for Vladimir Putin tend to think he does his bidding for free. “I love him,” says former Gawker editor John Cook, who worked with Greenwald at the Intercept. “He’s dead, tragically wrong on this.”

Thanks to this never-ending hot take, Greenwald has been excommunicated from the liberal salons that celebrated him in the Snowden era; anybody who questions the Russia consensus, he says, “becomes a blasphemer. Becomes a heretic. I think that’s what they see me as.” Greenwald is no longer invited on MSNBC, and he’s portrayed in the Twitter fever swamp as a leading villain of the self-styled Resistance. “I used to be really good friends with Rachel Maddow,” he says. “And I’ve seen her devolution from this really interesting, really smart, independent thinker into this utterly scripted, intellectually dishonest, partisan hack.” His view of the liberal online media is equally charitable. “Think about one interesting, creative, like, intellectually novel thing that [Vox’s] Matt Yglesias or Ezra Klein have said in like ten years,” he says. “In general, they’re just churning out Democratic Party agitprop every single day of the most superficial type.” (Reached for comment, none of these people would respond to Greenwald.)

All this has led to one of the less-anticipated developments of the Donald Trump presidency: Glenn Greenwald, Fox News darling. For his sins, Greenwald has been embraced by opportunistic #MAGA partisans seeking to discredit the Trump-Russia story. When alt-right ringleader Mike Cernovich sat for a 60 Minutes interview last year, he praised only one journalist: Greenwald. “My opinion of Glenn ten or 15 years ago was entirely negative,” says Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who now heralds him as one of the “clearest thinkers” in media. (A parallel phenomenon involves the rehabilitation by the Resistance of an armada of neoconservative zombies — David Frum, Max Boot, Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol — and the lionization, at least temporarily, of Trump-skeptical Republican politicians like John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Lindsey Graham.)

This, by the way, is the reason we’re eating dinner so late on a Tuesday: Greenwald has to be at a TV studio in a few minutes to be interviewed by Carlson. We leave the restaurant and head across the street to the garage where he parked his Mitsubishi Outlander. Unexpectedly, the gate to the entrance has been shut and the attendant is missing. Mild panic sets in. Greenwald begins rattling the gate. Even if we catch a cab to the studio, his TV clothes are in the car, and he is currently wearing shorts and an old polo shirt. “How,” he frets, “can I go on Fox News dressed like this?”

Anybody who questions it becomes a blasphemer. Becomes a heretic. I think that’s what they see me as.
The parking attendant eventually shows up. There is no traffic; we book it to a high-rise studio with postcard views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer. Greenwald changes into a shirt and tie but keeps on his shorts and flip-flops. “I’ve never worn long pants when I’m appearing on TV,” he says with a grin. He is miked up and fitted with an earpiece, then forced to wait 20 minutes as his segment keeps getting bumped. The experience of actually listening to Carlson’s show seems to get to him.

“He’s on a huge anti-gun-control, anti-disarmament rant,” Greenwald tells me the first time I ask him what Carlson’s talking about. “Bullshit,” he says the second time I ask, rolling his eyes. By the time he goes live, it is 11:50 p.m., and Carlson asks just two questions.

“So I only had like three minutes,” he says, un-miking himself. “But it’s fine. It was worth it. It was cathartic.”


Greenwald with Edward Snowden in the documentary Citizenfour (2014). Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection
Greenwald’s home is located on a dead-end cobblestone street, under a thick canopy of trees, a few miles inland from Ipanema Beach. The grounds are large enough to comfortably accommodate Greenwald; his husband, David Miranda; their two recently adopted children; household staff; 24 formerly stray dogs; and some dog poop, which, when I visit the day before his appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, I step in.

Greenwald greets me in his cathedral-like living room dressed in his usual shorts and polo. When I joke that he lives in a gated community — a guard in a booth controls access to the street — he seems wounded and explains that he could afford the place only because the recent Brazilian recession had devastated Rio’s housing market. He plays coy when I ask him who owned the house previously. “I think it was some hedge-fund pig,” he says.

In person, Greenwald is funny and unguarded, which is the opposite of his online persona. Within minutes of my arrival, he launches into a story about a possible joint op-ed written with Katie Couric, before relaying a conversation he had with Ta-Nehisi Coates about how problematic it is to collaborate with people like Katie Couric. “It sounds like I’m obnoxiously name-dropping, and I’m not!” he says, catching himself. “But it was like, ‘How do you maintain your authenticity and the original kind of passion about the world that led you to be someone worth listening to, when now, suddenly, all these doors that had been previously closed are swinging open for you?’ ”

Greenwald grew up near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was closeted in high school and cultivated a rebel iconoclasm to cope. “One of the strategies you can develop is, I’m never going to be weak,” he says. “I’m always gonna be smarter and stronger and more aggressive.” Comparing himself to the titular character in the mockumentary American Vandal, he says he once prompted a schoolwide investigation by spray-painting the walls with “extremely offensive profanities about individual students and teachers.” “He was always warring with the administration, warring with teachers,” says his friend and former classmate Norman Fleisher. Instead of schoolwork, he devoted himself to the competitive-debate circuit and, in his senior year, to a failed bid for the Lauderdale Lakes City Council. He squeaked into George Washington University, where he majored in philosophy — Nietzsche — and again poured all his energy into debate. After that, law school at NYU, then a job at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the most decorated and macho of the city’s white-shoe firms. In 1995, he left Wachtell to start his own litigation practice and carved a niche doing pro bono civil-liberties work, including defending neo-Nazi Matthew Hale.

Greenwald supported the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, but in 2005, when it became clear that the war on terror had produced a massive suspension of civil liberties — warrantless wiretapping, Guantánamo Bay — Greenwald abandoned his law practice and devoted himself to calling out the administration on his website, Unclaimed Territory. That year, he broke up with a longtime boyfriend, a psychotherapist. To unwind, he came to Rio alone, where he met the then-19-year-old Miranda. Their relationship did not, at the time, entitle Miranda to a visa — so Greenwald stayed in Brazil; Miranda is now the first openly gay city councilman in Rio’s history.

Early on, the mainstream press was docile in its coverage of the war on terror. Greenwald and his allies in the nascent left-wing blogosphere emerged to push back. “ ‘Barbarians at the gate’ was kind of the metaphor,” Greenwald says, and his prosecutorial hatchet jobs on the Bush White House became especially popular, despite (or perhaps because of) his exhausting, didactic prose. When he moved his blog to Salon in 2007, says his former colleague Alex Pareene, “editors would joke about the incredibly SEO-unfriendly headlines on his blog posts. Like, 3,000 words with the headline ‘And Another Thought.’ ” Twitter, when that was invented, proved irresistible to Greenwald. “I would wake up at like nine in the morning and see somebody saying something stupid on Twitter, and then it would be four in the afternoon, and I haven’t gotten out of bed.”

Once Obama was elected, the left blogosphere cleaved. “Some people, they revealed they’re mainstream, democratic liberals and defended a mainstream, democratic liberal administration,” says Pareene. “Others, they stuck to their line of opposition to the use of American power.” Greenwald was clearly in the latter camp, praising Ron Paul’s military isolationism and blasting the various “war criminals” who still ran D.C. Which meant that, by 2013, Greenwald, now writing for The Guardian, had spent a decade hurling invective at essentially everyone in Washington. To someone like Edward Snowden, those were unimpeachable bona fides. To others with more sympathy for the American Establishment, coordinating the publication of Snowden’s documents was something else. Greenwald hatred was intense not just in the intelligence community but also among would-be allies of transparency in the press; Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times said he’d “almost arrest Glenn Greenwald.” Then–Meet the Press moderator David Gregory asked Greenwald if he should be charged for having “aided and abetted” Snowden. Greenwald was not wearing long pants during that interview, either.

Greenwald’s self-conception as an opposition figure, though, was getting more complicated. In 2014, Omidyar, the founder of eBay, poured $250 million into a news organization called First Look Media and handed Greenwald the keys. One of Greenwald’s collaborators on the Snowden story, the documentarian Laura Poitras, made a movie about the experience, Citizenfour, in which Greenwald was something of a second star. In 2015, it won the Oscar for Best Documentary, which Greenwald says he could not enjoy because host Neil Patrick Harris joked that “Snowden couldn’t be here for some treason.” At an after-party that night, a BuzzFeed reporter asked him about it. “I’m like, ‘I’m really trying hard not to say anything about it,’ ” Greenwald recalls. “And they’re like, ‘No, but you must have an opinion on it,’ and I was like, ‘Neil Patrick Harris is a fucking moron, and that joke was completely idiotic and offensive.’ ” (For the record, Snowden thought it was funny.)


With Laura Poitras at the 2015 Oscars. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Last September, Greenwald traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to speak at an event held by the Lannan Foundation, an organization that offers prizes and speaking engagements to NPR-friendly types like Roxane Gay and Colson Whitehead. Wearing a light-gray suit and black Hugo Boss boots, Greenwald joked with the crowd for a few minutes before warning them that he wouldn’t be discussing the well-chronicled sins of the Trump administration. “I really don’t think you need me taking up your time talking about that,” he said. “And if you do for some reason want that, you can always just go home and turn on MSNBC.” Instead, Greenwald delivered an absorbing reading of the postelection landscape that fell somewhere between a troll job and a comprehensive articulation of his worldview.

The Trump election — because it upended countless political norms, because polls failed to predict it — was a psychologically destabilizing development. “When events happen that are so fucking out of the ordinary, people look for unifying events,” Greenwald tells me. “It becomes like a religion.” But Greenwald didn’t view the election as an aberration that needed to be explained. “Every time Trump says or does something that is xenophobic, or bigoted, or militaristic, or threatening, people always say, ‘This is not what America is about,’ ” he told the crowd in Sante Fe. “I always react to that by saying, ‘It’s not?’ ”

Rather than see Trump as a product of a rotten power structure, as Greenwald does, and the 2016 election as a wild reaction against that power structure, as Greenwald also does, it was easier for most American liberals to frame his victory as an accident. And rather than look within to eradicate the conditions that wrought Trump, it was more comforting to pin his rise on an external foe.

The Russian scandal proved ideal. “Across the political aisle, American elites are preoccupied with rejuvenating a Cold War in the name of believing that all of our problems are traceable to the Kremlin,” Greenwald argued. The notion that “Putin is not some fumbling dictator but some kind of an omnipotent mastermind,” he went on, “stems very much from this human desire to believe that when things go wrong, it can’t be our fault.”

Put another way: If you believe the 2016 election was a populist uprising against complacent elites, the Russia preoccupation can seem like an effort to ignore what Trump voters — and Sanders voters — were trying to say. Alternatively, if you believe Trump’s victory was a Russia-perpetrated fraud, normalcy is restored simply by removing him from office. Which, conveniently, is what many hope Mueller’s Russia probe will do.

The week I visit Greenwald in Rio, the news out of the D.C.-Moscow gyre is the indictment of three Trump-campaign aides: Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and Manafort. Sitting at Greenwald’s dining-room table, as a little dog named Kane molests a bigger dog named Enzo, I make the mistake of suggesting this is a “huge” development. Greenwald is ready for me before I finish my sentence.

“Have they been huge?” he pounces, answering his own question. “I mean, I guess they’ve been huge in the sense that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager was indicted on multiple felony charges, right? That’s inherently huge, but it’s not particularly huge for the Russia story, because all the charges leveled against Manafort were unrelated to questions of collusion with the Russians.” Fair enough, but Papadopoulos’s arrest was in fact related to the question of collusion. Greenwald waves this away. “They had all these kind of losers who weren’t even in the Trump campaign,” he says. “You know, these charlatans who were constantly puffing up their résumés, who come from the shittiest schools and have no significant experience.” He continues: “What happened this week, for me, is exactly what I’ve been expecting all along.”


Accepting the 2014 George Polk Award. Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
True. Last March, Greenwald wrote an Intercept piece that forecast the “indictment of a low-level operative like Carter Page, or the prosecution of someone like Paul Manafort on matters unrelated to hacking.” His point then, as now, is that such developments are far removed from the original impetus of the investigation: whether Trump and Russia worked together to throw the election. “If you go back to what the Democrats were saying in 2016 and then into 2017, it wasn’t ‘Paul Manafort is laundering money and hiding taxes and failing to register forms about how he’s a foreign agent,’ ” Greenwald says. “Because that’s true of that entire scumbag lobbyist class in D.C.”

When it comes to what the investigation was designed to focus on, Greenwald says he’s still waiting for hard evidence that the Trump campaign aided Russian operatives in hacking the Clinton-campaign emails — or struck some other corrupt bargain. Absent that, he’s not impressed. “Some Russians wanted to help Trump win the election, and certain people connected to the Trump campaign were receptive to receiving that help. Who the fuck cares about that?”

Greenwald’s not wrong to criticize the zealotry of the Russia pile-on. The investigation’s boosters not only seem to ignore America’s own long history of election meddling (“Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win,” crowed a 1996 Time cover story) but also have elevated a bipartisan class of Russia conspiracists like Louise Mensch and Eric Garland to unfortunate prominence. Which is how, for instance, a deranged 127-tweet rant about “game theory” became cherished by liberals as a Russiagate decoder ring.

How did all this happen? In a recent issue of n+1, Cornell Law School professor Aziz Rana called 2016 the “last election of the Cold War.” What he meant was that for half a century, an unassailable Western consensus had prevailed that democracy and global capitalism were better than what the other team was offering. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the presumptive 2016 favorites, reflected this consensus. Their dismal showings suggested the consensus had been busted, and among the signs that the political spectrum had broadened was the appearance of a new-seeming category of Russia-skeptic firebrands sometimes called the alt-left. Greenwald was one of the loudest voices, but there were others, many so divergent in their views of everything but Russia that it hardly made sense to group them together: the Trump-curious burn-it-all-down types; the “dirtbag left,” led by the irreverent politics podcast Chapo Trap House; anti-Zionist-anti-imperialists like Max Blumenthal; basically all of Russian television network RT’s on-air talent; retired NYU scholar and Nation eminence Stephen F. Cohen.

These critics note the irony that many who were critical of national-security abuses during the Bush and Obama years have now, in the name of defending the republic, put their faith in opaque intelligence agencies and retired generals. That uncomfortable alliance between liberals and the “deep state” is the Greenwald-Trumpworld relationship inverted; on Russia, the America Firsters in the White House share more with dovish lefties than with Washington’s centrist power elite. To borrow from the language of Brexit, the ideological split on the Russia question may be more “Leave” versus “Remain” than Republican versus Democrat. In other words, Establishment insiders versus skeptical outsiders.

“For me, the fundamental question is: How satisfied are you with the prevailing order, with the status quo?” By this, Greenwald does not mean life in the Trump era but the behavior of American elites over the past several generations. “How benevolent do you regard American power and American institutions?” The answer to that question says a lot about how you rate the Trump threat.


With Tucker Carlson on Fox News in October 2017.
One afternoon, Greenwald and I drive to a sports club affiliated with Rio’s most popular soccer team, Flamengo. His mischievous and adorable children, Jonathas, 8, and João Vitor, 10, are scheduled for a tennis lesson at the club’s clay courts. It occurs to me that a tennis match with Greenwald would make an entertaining narrative stunt. Greenwald declines, telling me that he’s too good. “You’re going to feel bad because I’m going to destroy you, and you’re going to try and get vengeance on me through the profile.” That I’m cooking up a savage hit piece becomes a running joke throughout my visit — as does Greenwald’s inevitable reaction to my hit piece. “Unfortunately,” he imagines tweeting, “New York apparently has eliminated its entire editorial and fact-checking team as evidenced by this wretched article filled with lies. 1/29.”

In truth, a hatchet job probably wouldn’t bother Greenwald. He’s long positioned himself as a radical adversary of the courtier press corps; a hostile story would confirm his view. Indeed, the formidable team of investigative journalists that surrounds Greenwald at the Intercept reflects this bent. But the ambitions of the First Look Media empire have also been hobbled by Greenwald’s team-last iconoclasm. In 2014, Greenwald co-wrote a lengthy piece documenting — and further contributing to — the company’s managerial dysfunction.

Greenwald’s half-a-million-dollar Intercept salary reflects his role as the founder and figurehead of the organization. But since the Snowden revelations, Greenwald hasn’t done much original reporting, and he has lately repositioned himself as a bomb-throwing media critic. This is in some ways a natural role for him, one that harks back to his early blogging days. “His general default position is that we shouldn’t believe anything the elite Establishment politicians are saying without fact-checking them,” says Jeremy Scahill, his Intercept co-founder. “We certainly shouldn’t believe the anonymous proclamations of CIA, NSA, FBI officials.”

In Glenn’s defense, he has never purported to be a patriot.
Greenwald’s bunker mentality makes his Russia skepticism especially intuitive. “Every groove in his brain,” one Greenwald critic told me, burnishes his suspicion that the political and media Establishment has a vested interest in promoting the story. His Bush-era awakening created a built-in distrust of national-security apparatuses; his focus on U.S. power abuses tends to outweigh concerns about threats to the homeland; his isolationism makes him wary of belligerent rhetoric; his civil libertarianism demands that unpopular views not be censored.

In 2012, many liberals who now consider Kremlin-linked Facebook memes an act of war mocked Mitt Romney for calling Russia our “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” Greenwald, meanwhile, has been more consistent. “He’s always minimized whatever the threat vector that people like me were concerned about,” says Lawfare editor Ben Wittes, a longtime Greenwald opponent and unlikely celebrity of the Russiagate media sphere. “He’s doing the exact same thing now. Just that the threat vector we’re concerned about is the Russian state versus our leadership.” Wittes adds, tongue in cheek: “In Glenn’s defense, he has never purported to be a patriot.”

To listen to intelligence veterans, there is also a defensive aspect to Greenwald’s collusion skepticism. “You really cannot dismiss as part of his motivation the way in which this new story is undermining the very things that he made his reputation on,” says cybersecurity expert Stewart Baker, a former NSA general counsel. “Which is: embracing WikiLeaks and Snowden and a hostility to the idea that there are national-security threats the U.S. has to respond to.”

Journalistically, the problem with this dynamic is there’s virtually no revelation in the Russia story that could get Greenwald to change his mind. Which means that while Scahill and other Intercept colleagues tend to evaluate each new revelation at face value, Greenwald focuses disproportionately on debunked or overblown Russia stories. Ever the lawyer, he curates evidence that suits his argument. More than a year ago, the Washington Post published an erroneous story alleging that Russia had hacked into a U.S. electrical grid in Vermont. Greenwald continues to bring this up. To him, it’s not just a random piece of bad reporting but a crucial exhibit in a case he’s building.

Which makes his lack of interest in a report the Intercept itself produced all the more curious. In June, it published an explosive story that Russia had attempted to infiltrate voter-registration systems days before the election by sending phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials. The information came from a leaked NSA report; shortly before the Intercept published its story, a Georgia NSA employee named Reality Winner was arrested on espionage charges. Almost immediately, the Intercept was accused of exposing Winner with its own sloppy methods. But the scoop itself represented one of the first credible claims that, more than trying to influence American voters, Russia may have been directly targeting election technology. Greenwald distanced himself from the bungled leak at the time and now says he doesn’t buy the story outright. “I never liked the story. I thought it was bullshit and knew it was going to be huge in a way that was totally unjustified in what it actually revealed,” he says. “I think it tried to overstate the importance of what that document was.”

Greenwald’s selective outrage has become habitual. In November, The Atlantic published Twitter correspondence from 2016 in which a WikiLeaks representative gave Donald Trump Jr. campaign advice.
Greenwald pooh-poohed the coordination, implying that Julian Assange was just playing his usual 4-D chess. Barrett Brown — a pro-transparency autodidact who served more than four years in federal prison for spreading hacked data and won a National Magazine Award for Intercept essays he wrote while incarcerated — was livid. “He doesn’t seem to be engaging on the actual revelations that keep coming out on Russia and Trump’s people,” Brown says. “My best guess is he’s just ignoring these things in favor of the less difficult argument that some people who are backing the Trump-Russia narrative are full of shit.”

It probably doesn’t matter to Greenwald in the end how many new details emerge about Russia. The big truth — that American society is in dire need of reform and Russia is not to blame for that — can never be dislodged by the little truths. Still, in the weeks following my visit to Rio, Greenwald seemed to grow self-conscious of his alienated stance. On December 8, he emailed me that he’d been asked to appear on the Sean Hannity Show to talk about his criticism of a CNN story about emails between Trump’s team and WikiLeaks that he considered “the biggest fuck-up yet in the Trump/Russia story — totally humiliating.” A few hours later, he reconsidered. “Actually I’ve decided to take the opportunity to go on and just spend the whole time bashing the shit out of Fox and Hannity rather than doing what they want me to do: attacking CNN.” Later, he sent this: “Reading up now on all the Fox Fake News scandals of the year — what a fucking list.”

Ultimately, after being asked to appear on all three of Fox News’ prime-time programs, he went on Laura Ingraham’s show, where he fulfilled his promise to bash Fox News. The next morning, Greenwald tweeted a clip of the confrontation to his 940,000 followers, then immediately got into an argument with somebody called @hoboken1111.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/20 ... ation.html



George Papadopoulos is the ‘John Dean’ of the Russia investigation, his fiancee says

He has been mocked by President Trump as a “low level volunteer” and “proven to be a liar.”

But the fiancee of George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts and is cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, says he is being miscast.

“I believe history will remember him like John Dean,” said Italian-born Simona Mangiante, referring to the former White House counsel who pleaded guilty to his role in the Watergate coverup and then became a key witness against other aides to President Richard Nixon.

Dean told Nixon in 1973 that Watergate was a “cancer on the presidency,” warning him that it was an existential crisis that could imperil his term in office.

“George is very loyal. And he is on the right side of history,” added Mangiante, who got engaged to Papadopoulos in September.

A Trump campaign aide tried to arrange a meeting with Putin. Here’s what you need to know.

A low-level foreign adviser to Donald Trump passed along multiple requests for him to meet with Russian officials, and even Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

[For ‘low level volunteer,’ Papadopoulos sought high profile as Trump adviser]

Mangiante said she was advised by Papadopoulos’s lawyers not to answer specific questions about his activities during the 2016 presidential campaign or what he has told the FBI.

But she indicated in an interview that she believes he ultimately will emerge as more than a bit player in the Russia probe — and that his decision to cooperate after he was arrested getting off an airplane at Dulles International Airport in July was a key turning point.

Without offering specifics, Mangiante said there is much more that has not yet been told publicly about Papadopoulos’ 10 months as an informal national security adviser to Trump and his interactions with a London-based professor who told Papadopoulos, according to court filings, that the Russians had “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“There’s a lot to come,” she said. “He was the first one to break a hole on all of this.”

She said Papadopoulos was not a “coffee boy,” as he was once tagged by former Trump adviser Michael Caputo, a nickname she found especially galling. “I know what it means as a young person to do all the efforts you do to build your career and be dismissed as a coffee boy,” she said.

Despite restraints placed on her by the terms of Papadopoulos’ ongoing cooperation agreement with the special counsel, Mangiante said she has been speaking to reporters to defend his reputation and try to explain how the lives of her and the Chicago-born former energy consultant have been upended by the events of the last year.

Mangiante said she has been extensively interviewed by Mueller’s team, who asked about her own brief stint working for Joseph Mifsud, the same London professor who offered to connect the young Trump aide with the Russians.

[Trump campaign emails show aide’s repeated efforts to set up Russia meetings]

Mangiante, who was born near Naples and trained in law and international relations, said she met Mifsud while working with the European Parliament in Brussels.

Mifsud, a former Maltese government official who had an affiliation with an Italian university, was friendly with the head of the parliament’s socialist party and was often at receptions or events, she recalled. Eventually, Mifsud offered her a job at one of his London organizations.

Mangiante accepted in July 2016 but said she only worked for the group for three months, quickly concluding that it was “a facade for something else.”

She said she never heard Mifsud discuss Russians but quit when she was asked by his partner to attend a secret meeting to discuss Iraq in Tripoli. “I thought it was very suspicious,” she said.

Mangiante said she heard about Papadopoulos, who at the time was serving as a Trump adviser, during her brief time at Mifsud’s group. But she said did not meet him until the spring of 2017, after his involvement with Trump had ended. He sent her a message through LinkedIn, noting that they had both had connections to Mifsud’s group.

Soon, the two were communicating online and, after meeting in London, quickly fell into a romance, she said. They spent the spring and summer traveling together in Europe. Though Papadopoulos had been interviewed by the FBI in January and again in February, she said he did not seem concerned at the time about what could be coming.

Until his July arrest.

“We went from paradise to hell,” she said.

She said she was in Chicago with his family at the time and the following weeks were stressful and scary. His decision to make a deal with prosecutors and plead guilty to one felony while cooperating with the FBI, she said, was ultimately not a tough one.

“It was brave,” she said. “It wasn’t hard, but it was brave . . . It’s always easiest to say the truth about everything.”

Mangiante said she is now spending much of her time in the United States because Papadopoulos is barred from traveling by the terms of his agreement. The date of his sentencing has not been set yet.

“This has changed his life forever,” she said.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... 37febcc921



seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:16 am wrote:how lovely to be able to wake up and post the Attorney General had been interviewed by the Special Council :evilgrin


beware the conclusion that Sessions would only be interviewed on obstruction charges (though that would be included)....he was involved in discussions of meetings w/Russians, one step removed from email offer.

maybe Stephen Miller's discussions with George Papadopoulos are why Jeff Sessions can't recall any email discussions?

Image

Sessions Is Interviewed in Mueller’s Russia Investigation

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDTJAN. 23, 2018


Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed in the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Tom Brenner/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week by the special counsel’s office as part of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election and whether the president obstructed justice since taking office, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.

The meeting marked the first time that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are known to have interviewed a member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet.

The spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, confirmed that the interview occurred in response to questions from The New York Times.

Mr. Sessions announced in March that he had recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 election, including the Russia inquiry. The disclosure came after it was revealed that Mr. Sessions had not told Congress that he met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, during the campaign. Mr. Sessions was an early supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidential run.

When Mr. Trump learned in March that Mr. Sessions was considering whether to recuse himself, the president had the White House’s top lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, lobby Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the Russia investigation.

Mr. Sessions instead followed the guidance of career prosecutors at the Justice Department, who advised him that he should not be involved with the investigation. When Mr. Trump was told of this, the president erupted in anger, saying he needed an attorney general to protect him.

As attorney general, Mr. Sessions was deeply involved in the firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. But Mr. Sessions’s recusal has left him with no control of Mr. Mueller — something the president has repeatedly carped about publicly and privately.

After Mr. Mueller was appointed in May, Mr. Trump again erupted at Mr. Sessions and Mr. Sessions offered to resign. Several days later, Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Sessions’s offer.

Mr. Sessions, who was accompanied by the longtime Washington lawyer Chuck Cooper to the interview, had been among a small group of senior campaign and administration officials whom Mr. Mueller had not yet interviewed. Two weeks ago, Mr. Mueller subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, to testify before a grand jury. Mr. Mueller is expected to forgo the grand jury appearance for now and will have his investigators interview Mr. Bannon in the coming weeks.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/p ... d=tw-share


NYT: Mueller Questioned Jeff Sessions For Hours Last Week
By Nicole Lafond | January 23, 2018 9:59 am

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a news conference at the Department of Justice December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions called the question-and-answer session with reporters to highlight his department's fight to reduce violent crime.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America
Special Counsel Robert Mueller questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions for several hours last week, making Sessions the first known member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet to be interviewed in Mueller’s Russia probe, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed the interview took place in response to the Times’ questions about the probe. Sessions’s attorney Chuck Cooper attended the interview with him, according to the Times.

In March, Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and that’s also looking at whether Trump or his campaign officials colluded with the foreign power to win the election. Former FBI Director Mueller was then appointed to take over the probe.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ ... by-mueller



Who Else Was Handling Russian Money in 2016?

The interference went well beyond the president*'s campaign.

BY CHARLES P. PIERCE
JAN 18, 2018

Life is full of wonderful surprises, like this little goodie bag from the McClatchy folks.

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy. FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.
It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.
So, here’s the horse, but the barn is waaaaayyyyy over there. Still, this is a fascinating development.

Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference. McClatchy reported a year ago that a multi-agency U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s intervention, begun even before the start of the 2016 general election campaign, initially included a focus on whether the Kremlin secretly helped fund efforts to boost Trump, but little has been said about that possibility in recent months. The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned. However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.
It is a savory irony that Wayne LaPierre, the savior of all that is clean and good in America, may be tied into the Volga Bagmen. But it’s coming time to wonder how much Russian money was sloshing around the entire Republican Party in 2016, and around the conservative infrastructure generally.

We already know the winning presidential campaign was redolent of herring and vodka. There also is more than a little evidence that various Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats were generous to Republican campaigns in general. Now, it seems, the various interest groups and issue organizations may have had their hands out, too. The only thing that stops a bagman with a bag is a good guy with a bag.


Congressman: Story of Link Between Kremlin And NRA Could ‘Get Bigger’

“Follow the money,” Rep. Ted Lieu said of the National Rifle Association’s pro-Trump efforts.

Last Thursday, investigative reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy DC Bureau reported what could be another bombshell in the Russia probe: that the FBI is investigating whether a Kremlin-linked banker illegally channeled funds to the National Rifle Association to aid Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

On Friday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, told me on SiriusXM Progress that the word on Capitol Hill is that the story of a Russia-NRA-Trump link is going to grow.

“FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA,” Stone and Gordon reported being told by two sources familiar with the matter.

More: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/te ... mg00000004


Torshin was all up in Wisconsin
Image

NRA Gives $3.6 Million to Walker, Legislators

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
NRA Gives $3.6 Million to Walker, Legislators
Just one Democrat benefits from gun lobby’s generous donations.
By Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Oct 5th, 2017 11:10 am

..... In Wisconsin, the National Rifle Association (NRA) spent about $3.6 million between January 2008 and June 2017 on outside electioneering activities and direct contributions to GOP Gov. Scott Walker, 52 legislators, and a legislative campaign committee.

Most of the spending, about $3.5 million, was by the NRA on outside electioneering to help Walker win his 2010 general, 2012 recall and 2014 reelection bids. Walker also received $22,500 in direct campaign contributions from pro-gun interests – the most of any legislative or statewide candidate – between January 2008 and June 2017.
In addition to Walker, current legislators received about $92,400 (see table below) in outside electioneering support and direct campaign contributions from the NRA’s political action committees and corporation, between January 2008 and June 2017. All but $500 went to support GOP legislators.

During much of the same time, Walker and GOP legislators, who took control of state government in January 2011, have approved numerous pro-gun bills led by state’s concealed carry law.

More recently, last month, a state Senate committee recommended passage of a proposal, Senate Bill 169, which would allow adults to carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin without a permit. ................


seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:08 pm wrote:Comey was interviewed by Special Council by last year :)

shared memos

Comey and Sessions Are Questioned for Hours in Russia Inquiry

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDTJAN. 23, 2018


Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed in the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Tom Brenner/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week as part of the special counsel investigation, a Justice Department spokeswoman said on Tuesday, and the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, was interviewed by the office last year, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The meeting with Mr. Sessions marked the first time that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are known to have interviewed a member of President Trump’s cabinet.

The interview with Mr. Comey focused on a series of memos he wrote about his interactions with Mr. Trump that unnerved Mr. Comey. In one memo, Mr. Comey said that Mr. Trump had asked him to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

After the president’s request was disclosed, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed Mr. Mueller as the special counsel to lead the Russia investigation and examine whether the president obstructed justice.

The disclosure about Mr. Comey’s interview came hours after the Justice Department spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, confirmed that the interview with Mr. Sessions occurred. Mr. Sessions was accompanied by the longtime Washington lawyer Chuck Cooper to the interview.

The attorney general announced in March that he had recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 election, including the Russia inquiry. The disclosure came after it was revealed that Mr. Sessions had not told Congress that he met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, during the campaign.

Mr. Sessions, an early supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidential run, had been among a small group of senior campaign and administration officials whom Mr. Mueller had been expected to interview.

Mr. Mueller’s interest in Mr. Sessions shows how the president’s own actions helped prompt a broader inquiry. What began as a Justice Department counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s election interference is now also an examination of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry, and the nation’s top law enforcement officer is a witness in the case.

For Mr. Mueller, Mr. Sessions is a key witness to two of the major issues he is investigating: the campaign’s possible ties to the Russians and whether the president tried to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Mr. Mueller can question Mr. Sessions about his role as the head of the campaign’s foreign policy team. Mr. Sessions was involved in developing Mr. Trump’s position toward Russia and met with Russian officials, including the ambassador.

Along with Mr. Trump, Mr. Sessions led a March 2016 meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where one of the campaign’s foreign policy advisers, George Papadopoulos, pitched the idea of a personal meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Papadopoulos plead guilty in October to lying to federal authorities about the nature of his contacts with the Russians and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office.

As attorney general, Mr. Sessions was deeply involved in the firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the president has repeatedly criticized Mr. Sessions publicly and privately for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

When Mr. Trump learned in March that Mr. Sessions was considering whether to recuse himself, the president had the White House’s top lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, lobby Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the Russia investigation.

Mr. Sessions instead followed the guidance of career prosecutors at the Justice Department, who advised him that he should not be involved with the investigation. When Mr. Trump was told of this, the president erupted in anger, saying he needed an attorney general to protect him.

After Mr. Mueller was appointed in May, Mr. Trump again erupted at Mr. Sessions and Mr. Sessions offered to resign. Several days later, Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Sessions’s offer.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Mueller subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, to testify before a grand jury. Mr. Mueller is expected to forgo the grand jury appearance for now and will have his investigators interview Mr. Bannon in the coming weeks.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/p ... ussia.html


seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:30 pm wrote:let's go down memory lane with the wonderful fantastic MinM :lovehearts:

almost a year ago she mentions Butina NRA and Torshin


MinM » Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:53 am wrote:Image
Flynn dismissal linked to meeting with Cambridge graduate "Crazy Miss Cokehead"
http://dailym.ai/2ol6A98 via @MailOnline

Doesn't really belong in this thread (or does it?)
but I wanted to give this thread a bump...

One other off-topic:
The Spanish connection with Trump’s Russia scandal
Image

Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia and investigated in Spain for money laundering, has infiltrated the US president’s circle

On February 1, Alexander Torshin, 63, a Russian politician and banker who is close to Vladimir Putin and whom the Spanish anti-corruption prosecutor and the Civil Guard define in their reports as a godfather from a notorious Russian mafia organization, had in his diary for the next day an appointment to meet in Washington with the world’s most powerful man: Donald Trump. The encounter was due to take place before an official and well-attended breakfast meeting, which Torshin attended as the head of a Russian delegation. The meeting was canceled that very night, according to sources from the White House, given the wave of criticism in the US press related to the influence of determined Russian circles in President Trump’s power teams. But the information reveals the heights to which this person, who has been investigated by the Spanish authorities, had reached in his rise to the upper echelons of the American leader’s circle.

Torshin, who is currently the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, has met with one of the children of the US president, has close links with the organization that provided the most money for Trump’s election campaign, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and attended the aforementioned breakfast that Donald Trump presided over in the White House in February.

The high-ranking official from the Central Bank of Russia has long been on the radar of the Spanish public prosecutor and the Civil Guard. He was on the brink of being arrested in Palma de Mallorca in the summer of 2013 during a meeting with a mafioso – who has just been sentenced in Spain – but he didn’t turn up to the meeting. A unit consisting of 12 officers was awaiting him at the airport and in a hotel, where he was expected to arrive accompanied by other people being investigated in a money-laundering ring. The Russian Federation’s Prosecutor General, which was aware that Torshin was being investigated, requested information about the case on at least two occasions, but received no response from the Spanish authorities given that the investigation was sealed.

His case constitutes another element to lay the foundation for the FBI investigation currently being conducted into the influence of the Russian government in the outcome of the US presidential elections last year. The political offensive by Torshin appears to form part of a strategy by the Kremlin aimed at influencing the internal policies of the United States. One of the most spectacular results of this apparent strategy was the mass hack of the internal communications of the campaign for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival, which was made public by WikiLeaks, according to the US intelligence services. Over the last year a number of trusted allies of Trump have been forced to resign given their shady contacts with Russia. The most recent was his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, on February 13.

The difference in the case of Torshin is that for the first time, a Russian mafia boss – at least one identified as such by the Spanish anti-corruption prosecutor – is within the circle of support to the new president of the United States.

As well as being a powerful banker, a leader of President Putin’s political party (United Russia) and his trusted ally, and a senator between 2001 and 2015 (as well as being chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament between May 19 and September 21, 2011), he is, according to the investigation carried out by the Spanish security forces, a boss of a notorious criminal organization known as Taganskaya.

The relationship between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a Russian mafioso established in Palma de Mallorca, is the key. An investigation carried out between 2012 and 2013 by a Palma court and the anti-corruption prosecutors José Grinda and Juan Carrau into Romanov concluded that Torshin was the boss of a Taganskaya criminal operation to launder money by buying up hotels in Mallorca. A total of 33 telephone conversations between Torshin and Romanov, to which EL PAÍS has had access, reveal that their relationship is not “purely social,” as Torshin claims, but rather based on business.

An internal document from the Civil Guard Information Service, dated July 2013, explains Torshin’s central role in the criminal plot. “As a consequence of the phone tapping carried out in the aforementioned inquiries it has been ratified that, above Romanov, on a higher hierarchical level, is Alexander Torshin. In the numerous phone conversations and with different contact persons, Alexander Romanov himself recognized his subordination before someone who he describes as ‘the Godfather’ or ‘the boss’ ... which in itself is telling when it comes to situating their relationship.”

The Spanish police followed Torshin, but he managed to slip away: three judicial and police sources from the investigation have confirmed that Torshin decided not to attend Romanov’s birthday party on August 21, 2013 as planned, because, they believe, he was warned by the Russian prosecutor that if he stepped onto Spanish soil he would be arrested. “The liaison from the Russian Interior Ministry in Madrid had written a report about the Taganskaya and we believe that in Russia they put the screws on him. We suspect that it was him who warned that Torshin was being investigated in Spain and that was why he didn’t come,” a judicial source explains. “The case had not been completed and we could not give out that information,” explains another judicial source. “Russia also discovered that we were investigating Torshin because Romanov’s lawyers told the Russian prosecutor as much in writing and they complained saying that they were being persecuted in Spain.”

The confidential report, which is not to be found in the legal case, points to the connection between the Russian state and the Russian mafia. “The criminal organizations from the countries of the East have as their main characteristics the penetration of different state powers, such as politics, which is represented in this case by the figure of the First Vicechairman of the Federation Council of Russia of the Federal Assembly of Russia of the Russian Federation, Alexander Porfirievich Torshin.” The five-page document, entitled Alexander Porfirievich Torshin in Operation Dirieba, was produced so that the Anti-Corruption Public Prosecutor could decide whether or not to charge Torshin with the laundering of more than €14 million in the purchase of a hotel in Mallorca, and concludes that both the money and the hotel belonged to the Russian ex-politician. It even claims that the hotel forms part of the inheritance that Torshin wants to leave to his two daughters.

Why was Torshin not prosecuted? “It made no sense to charge Torshin because Russia does not process letters rogatory [requests for legal assistance from abroad] that we file with that country and there would have been no practical purpose: it would have delayed the investigation, it would have slowed it down,” explains a clearly irritated judicial source. “Calling on Russia to arrest him would have been useless because Russia does not cooperate. This summer there will be a trial in Spain in the Troika case – against the Russian mafia in Spain. There are a number of fugitives in Russia and they won’t hand them over to us. We don’t have the support of the Russian authorities.”

The formidable and powerful Taganskaya organization of which Torshin is allegedly part is recognized by the US and the EU information and intelligence services (Europol, the FBI…), according to the dossier about Torshin from the Spanish Civil Guard. Its activities include the appropriation of companies using violent or fraudulent methods, bank scams, extortion and the carrying out of contract killings.

The point of entry for Torshin to the upper echelons of US politics was the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is perhaps the most powerful lobby in the United States. The NRA invested more than $21 million in Trump’s election campaign, more than any other organization. According to the group’s official magazine, the NRA proclaimed itself to be “the key” to the Trump victory.

Torshin has managed to become a “life member” of the NRA. He is also linked to the Russian group The Right to Bear Arms, which was created in 2012 and copies the objectives of the NRA. It is presided over by Maria Butina, a young admirer of Putin who has had a meteoric career by Torshin’s side, and who now resides in Washington. Butina celebrated her birthday with a costume party in the US capital on November 12 last year, four days after the presidential elections. According to the press in Washington, the main reason for the celebration was the election victory of Donald Trump. Among the guests were a number of the new president’s campaign consultants.

The first direct contact between Torshin, an “honorary member” of the Russian pro-arms group, and the NRA took place in May 2013. Torshin traveled to the annual NRA convention in Houston. He himself wrote about this in an article published eight months later in the Washington Times, a pro-Trump daily, whose Opinion section editor, David Keene, was president of the NRA and is a friend of Torshin.

At that time, Torshin was a Russian senator. But his political career was on the rise. In January 2015 he was named deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia. And one of his first measures was to designate Butina “personal executive assistant.” Some months later, on December 11, 2015, the pro-arms group presided over by Butina invited a delegation from the NRA, nearly all Trump acolytes, to an event in Moscow. Torshin gave the welcome speech.

In May 2016, in the midst of the US electoral campaign, Torshin traveled once more to the NRA convention, which was celebrated this time in Louisville, Kentucky. Trump, who was by that point the de facto Republican candidate to the presidency, attended the annual event run by his main benefactors. There Torshin had fleeting contact with the future president, who only went so far as to shake his hand. With his son, Donald Trump Jr., things went further: he sat by his side during a private dinner in a restaurant in Kentucky.

The rise of Torshin in the upper circles of the United States continued to progress. When Trump, a self-declared admirer of Putin, reached the presidency, Torshin was invited to an official breakfast at the White House scheduled for February 2, along with other guests. The event was later to be remembered thanks to Trump’s jibes aimed at Arnold Schwarzenegger. Torshin traveled there as the head of a Russian delegation. Together with the invitation, Torshin received a proposal for a meeting with the president just before the breakfast, according to Yahoo News, which contributed to this article. This meeting was suddenly cancelled. The reason, according to sources from the White House, were the rumors and suspicions about which all of Washington is now talking: the links between Trump’s political team and Moscow. The White House gave no official explanation for the cancellation. Maria Butina, who attended gala dinners to celebrate Trump’s inauguration, confirmed to Yahoo News in an email that the notification of the cancellation of the meeting between her boss and the president arrived the night before the breakfast.

During that visit to Washington, Torshin did have dinner with two Republican congressmen. The date was February 1 in a French restaurant, according to an article published in Time magazine two weeks ago, and at which Maria Butina and a close friend of Trump White House strategist Stephen Bannon were also present.

The apparent mission by Torshin to infiltrate the highest spheres of power worked. And the Russian connection continues to create intrigue in Washington. As the veteran columnist Thomas Friedman wrote last month in the New York Times: “[...] the biggest national security question staring us in the face today: What is going on between Donald Trump and the Russians?” After the investigations by the Spanish judicial authorities and the police into the banker, politician and mafia godfather Alexander Torshin there are more unanswered questions today, and more scandals in Washington to be investigated.

http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/03/31/ine ... 09827.html

Aside from the NRA, other "strange" organizations supported financially by the Russian Putin and his Mafia:

- Give Alaska back to Russia
- California secession (Calexit) Movement
- Taliban
- Assad
- Eastern Ukrainian rebels
- Marine Le Pen (right wing French Presidential Candidate
- Right Wing German Populists
- Hackers of progressive group

:backtotopic:


and me on page six in this thread

seemslikeadream » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:34 am wrote:
Operative Offered Trump Campaign ‘Kremlin Connection’ Using N.R.A. Ties

Donald J. Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, speaking at the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Ky., in May 2016.

By NICHOLAS FANDOS
DECEMBER 3, 2017
WASHINGTON — A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign.

A May 2016 email to the campaign adviser, Rick Dearborn, bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, the N.R.A. member said he wanted the advice of Mr. Dearborn and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, then a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump and Mr. Dearborn’s longtime boss, about how to proceed in connecting the two leaders.

Russia, he wrote, was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” and would attempt to use the N.R.A.’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., to make “‘first contact.’” The email, which was among a trove of campaign-related documents turned over to investigators on Capitol Hill, was described in detail to The New York Times.

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, secured a guilty plea on Friday from President Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, for lying to the F.B.I. about contacts with Moscow’s former ambassador to the United States. But those contacts came after Mr. Trump’s improbable election victory.

The emailed outreach from the conservative operative to Mr. Dearborn came far earlier, around the same time that Russians were trying to make other connections to the Trump campaign. Another contact came through an American advocate for Christian and veterans causes, and together, the outreach shows how, as Mr. Trump closed in on the nomination, Russians were using three foundational pillars of the Republican Party — guns, veterans and Christian conservatives — to try to make contact with his unorthodox campaign.


Rick Dearborn, left, a Trump campaign adviser, received an email asking for advice on how to arrange a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES
Both efforts, made within days of each other, centered on the N.R.A.’s annual meeting and appear to involve Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of the Russian central bank and key figure in Mr. Putin’s United Russia party, who was instructed to make contact with the campaign.

“Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” the N.R.A. member and conservative activist, Paul Erickson, wrote. “He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election. Let’s talk through what has transpired and Senator Sessions’s advice on how to proceed.”

It is not clear how Mr. Dearborn handled the outreach. He forwarded a similar proposal, made through Rick Clay, an advocate for conservative Christian causes, to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a top campaign aide. Mr. Kushner rebuffed the proposal at the time, according to two people who have seen Mr. Kushner’s email.

Mr. Sessions told investigators from the House Intelligence Committee that he did not recall the outreach, according to three people with knowledge of the exchange. Mr. Dearborn did not return requests for comment, and Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer dealing with matters related to the investigations, declined to comment. Repeated attempts to reach Mr. Erickson were not successful.

Intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia, on orders from the highest levels of its government, undertook a sophisticated campaign to hack Democratic computers, spread propaganda and undermine the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. The repeated outreach around the N.R.A. convention, where Mr. Trump accepted the group’s endorsement, came just weeks after a self-described intermediary for the Russian government told George Papadopoulos, a campaign aide, that the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton. And just weeks later, the president’s eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information about the would-be Democratic nominee.

“The Kremlin believes that the only possibility of a true reset in this relationship would be with a new Republican White House,” Mr. Erickson wrote to Mr. Dearborn, adding, “Ever since Hillary compared Putin to Hitler, all senior Russian leaders consider her beyond redemption.”


Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of the Russian central bank and key figure in Mr. Putin’s United Russia party, was instructed to make contact with the Trump campaign.
STANISLAV KRASILNIKOV / TASS, VIA GETTY IMAGES
Congressional investigators obtained the email as part of their inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Mr. Trump’s campaign aided the efforts. It appears to have caught the attention of senators as well. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, penned letters to several Trump campaign foreign policy advisers last week asking for all documents related to the N.R.A., Mr. Erickson, Mr. Torshin, Mr. Clay, Mr. Dearborn and others.

Mr. Erickson, a longtime conservative operative who has been involved in several presidential campaigns, presented himself in the email as a well-connected intermediary to the upper reaches of the Russian government. By “happenstance” and the reach of the N.R.A., Mr. Erickson wrote, he had been put in position to “slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin’s Kremlin” in recent years.

“Russia is quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S. that isn’t forthcoming under the current administration,” he wrote.

Indeed, evidence does appear to show deep ties between Mr. Erickson, the N.R.A. and the Russian gun rights community that were formed in the years when many American conservatives, put off by the Obama administration’s policies, were increasingly looking to Mr. Putin as an example of a strong leader opposing immigration, terrorism and gay rights.

The N.R.A. was one of Mr. Trump’s biggest backers during the campaign, spending tens of millions of dollars to help elect him.

Mr. Erickson has known Maria Butina, a former assistant to Mr. Torshin and the founder of the Right to Bear Arms, a Russian gun-rights group, for several years. Ms. Butina, who helped Mr. Torshin make the request through Mr. Clay, hosted Mr. Erickson at a September 2014 meeting of the group at its Moscow office. And in February 2016, the two incorporated a company, Bridges LLC, together in South Dakota. What the company does is unclear.


In December 2015, Mr. Erickson returned to Russia as part of an N.R.A. delegation that included David Keene, the group’s onetime president, top donors and David A. Clarke Jr., the former sheriff of Milwaukee County who became a popular Trump campaign surrogate. At one stop, the group met with Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister in charge of defense. A photograph from the meeting shows Mr. Torshin was also present.

In the United States, the hospitality was returned. Mr. Torshin and Ms. Butina attended the N.R.A.’s annual convention in 2014 and 2015. Ms. Butina told the conservative news site Townhall that she attended the N.R.A. Women’s Leadership Luncheon as a guest of Sandra S. Froman, a former president of the group. And in 2015, she was given a tour of the N.R.A.’s Virginia headquarters.

Attempts to contact Ms. Butina were unsuccessful.

Mr. Erickson does not explicitly name Mr. Torshin in the email to Mr. Dearborn, but the message appears to refer to him, the people familiar with the communication said. Instead, he describes “President Putin’s emissary on this front,” whose plans match those of Mr. Torshin.

Mr. Torshin, he wrote, was planning to attend a reception being planned by Mr. Clay honoring wounded veterans that he expected Mr. Trump would also attend. Mr. Torshin expected to use the reception to “make ‘first contact’” with the candidate and present Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, with a gift from the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Mr. Clay, neither Mr. Trump nor his campaign officials attended the veterans’ dinner. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and Mr. Torshin did attend a separate N.R.A. dinner that night.

Mr. Torshin served in the upper house of the Russian Parliament and was a member of the country’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee, a government body that includes the ministers of defense, interior and foreign affairs and the director of the Federal Security Service, known as F.S.B., the K.G.B.’s successor. He has been a leading advocate of gun rights in Russia and of more closely linking the government and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Spanish investigators say that while he was in Parliament, Mr. Torshin laundered money for the Russian mafia through Spanish banks and properties. Mr. Torshin has denied those accusations.
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/12/03/u ... 5DaH?amp=1


and me in the Vegas thread

seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:42 am wrote:full discloser ...I post this with full knowledge that I may get a full knee-jerk reaction


DOUBLE TAP
Top Trump Ally Met With Putin’s Deputy in Moscow

Before the NRA poured more than $30 million into Trump’s election, it met with a notorious Kremlin hardliner, allegedly to discuss a rifle competition.

Tim Mak

03.07.17 9:00 PM ET
In March 2014, the U.S. government sanctioned Dmitry Rogozin—a hardline deputy to Vladimir Putin, the head of Russia’s defense industry and longtime opponent of American power—in retaliation for the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Eighteen months later, the National Rifle Association, Donald Trump’s most powerful outside ally during the 2016 election, sent a delegation to Moscow that met with him.
The meeting, which hasn’t been previously reported in the American press, is one strand in a web of connections between the Russian government and Team Trump: Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn both denied speaking with the Russian ambassador, which turned out to be untrue; former campaign manager Paul Manafort supported pro-Russian interests in Ukraine; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won an “Order of Friendship” from Putin; and then, of course, there’s the hacking campaign that U.S. intelligence agencies say Russian launched to tilt the election in Trump’s favor.
Meeting with Rogozin, a target of U.S. sanctions, is not itself illegal—as long as the two sides did no business together—explained Boris Zilberman, an expert on Russian sanctions at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. But, he noted, it is “frowned upon and raises questions… those targeted for sanctions have been engaged in conduct which is in direct opposition to U.S. national security interests.”
Which raises the question: Why was the NRA meeting with Putin’s deputy in the first place?
The NRA had previously objected to the parts of the U.S. sanctions regime that blocked Russian-made guns from import into the United States. But curiously, David Keene, the former NRA president and current board member who was on the Moscow trip, insisted the meeting with the high-ranking member of the Kremlin government had nothing whatsoever to do with geopolitics.
“Rogozin is chairman of the Russian Shooting Federation and his Board hosted a tour of Federation HQ for us while we were there,” Keene told The Daily Beast. “It was non-political. There were at least 30 in attendance and our interaction consisted of thanking him and his Board for the tour.”

Rogozin tweeted photos of the meetings, writing that they discussed a forthcoming rifle competition in Russia.

But Rogozin is no ordinary Russian official, and his title extends far beyond being merely the chairman of a shooting club. His portfolio as deputy prime minister of Russia includes the defense industry. One issue where Rogozin seems particularly interested is cyberwarfare, which he has heralded for its “first strike” capability. And he’s well-known in Russia for being a radical—often taking a harder line than Putin himself.
Rogozin was the leader of the ultra-right party called Rodina, or Motherland, and famously believes in the restoration of the Russian Empire, including what he calls “Russian America” (i.e., Alaska).
To wrestle control of the party, he turned its course from a party that was occasionally in opposition to Putin to a strictly pro-Putin party. In 2005 Rogozin and his party miscalculated Putin’s anti-immigrant mood and got kicked out of the parliament for a chauvinistic promotion video that said: “Let’s Clean the Garbage!” featuring Central Asian workers eating a watermelon and spitting on the ground.
Still, Rogozin stayed loyal to Putin and soon was appointed Russian ambassador to NATO at the time of the Russia-Georgia War—his main responsibility at the time was to prevent Ukraine and Georgia from joining NATO. Today his Motherland party is back in the parliament, trying to unite right-wing movements in Europe.

“It is disconcerting that they would be meeting [with a Russian official] about anything given their vocal support of the president,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential elections. “Due to the NRA’s opposition to sanctions, it defies credulity that they wouldn’t have discussed sanctions and their extraordinary support for Donald Trump’s campaign.”
“Russia is not America’s friend. And it’s stunning to hear that while they were attacking our democracy, one of the largest organizations supporting Trump was cozying up with a sanctioned Russian in Moscow,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee panel that oversees the CIA.
Rogozin’s inclusion in U.S. sanctions, prior to his meeting with the NRA delegation, marks him as an American adversary. But if that designation raised red flags to Keene and his compatriots—including board member Pete Brownell, top NRA donor Joe Gregory, and Trump supporter Sheriff David A. Clarke—they didn’t mention them, before or since.
The White House designated Rogozin for sanctions through an executive order in March 2014 after the Russian annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. Perhaps it’s only coincidence, then, that a few months later, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action protested when the Treasury Department banned the importation of Kalashnikov firearms under authority granted to them from that same executive order.
“These latest sanctions will no doubt engender the idea among some that the Treasury Department is using a geopolitical crisis as a convenient excuse to advance the president’s domestic anti-gun agenda,” the NRA-ILA wrote at the time.
The National Rifle Association’s support for Trump was unprecedented—and it seems to have paid off. The organization backed Trump in May 2016—much earlier than they had endorsed other candidates in previous election cycles, and before he had even been officially named the Republican presidential nominee.
The NRA spent $30.3 million to elect Trump—more than even the top Trump super PAC, which spent just $20.3 million, according to OpenSecrets.
This proved to be an important piece of the puzzle for the president’s eventual victory, giving him bona fides among Democrats from working class families.
“They got behind him early. It tends to be a lot of movement conservatives, a lot of Republicans —but the NRA’s membership is also so powerful in union households,” said Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist who wrote a book, Ricochet, about his experiences. “Union leaderships are very concerned about what the NRA has to say… This year it was a very important. NRA was the first major group to get behind Trump.”
Indeed, there is a solid case to be made that the NRA’s endorsement and support was among the most important of any group this election cycle. The NRA lined up television advertising space early, when rates were lower, and had money to spend when the Access Hollywood scandal struck, reading with a fresh advertising spot to support Trump.
“There are many claimants to the honor of having nudged Donald Trump over the top in the presidential election,” wrote Fred Barnes, executive editor of the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, last week. “But the folks with the best case are the National Rifle Association and the consultants who made their TV ads.”
Soon after the election, the Trump administration rescinded an order, issued in the waning days of the Obama administration, that banned lead ammunition in various hunting and fishing areas—the NRA immediately applauded the action.
In retrospect, the second week of December 2015 is notable: In Moscow’s Metropol Hotel, now-disgraced Trump national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn dined with Putin at a dinner held by Russia Today, a state-sponsored propaganda outlet.
The NRA delegation’s 2015 trip to Russia took place the same week, lasting from Dec. 8-13, according to Clarke’s public financial disclosure forms, (PDF), and included not only the people who met with Rogozin but a number of other NRA dignitaries, including donors Dr. Arnold Goldshlager and Hilary Goldschlager, as well as Jim Liberatore, the CEO of the Outdoor Channel.
Various members had various stated reasons for going. At least one was there for business reasons.
“Mr. Liberatore traveled to Russia to discuss our new outdoor lifestyle service MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) and prospects for international distribution,” said Liberatore’s spokesman, Thomas Caraccioli. Liberatore did not meet with Rogozin, he added.
The delegates who were contacted by The Daily Beast did not respond to questions regarding how they paid for their trip. But Clarke, as the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, was required to fill out public disclosure forms outlining any private money he received for travel (PDF).
The trip was sponsored at least in part by the organization, The Right to Bear Arms, a firearms advocacy organization founded by Russian national Maria Butina, a former Siberian furniture store owner who now lives in Washington, D.C., and serves as a link between Russian political circles and the American capital’s conservative elite.
“A delegation of the world’s largest gun rights civic organization—the National Rifle Association of the US (the NRA) visited Moscow on an official trip and met with supporters of the Right to Bear Arms movement,” wrote Butina in Russian in December 2015, posting a photo of the delegation on her organization’s Facebook page.

Clarke reported that Butina’s organization paid $6,000 for his meals, hotel, transportation, and excursions during his time in Russia. Brownell, the CEO of a prominent firearms company and an NRA board member, paid for the remainder, including his airfare and visas.
It is unclear where Butina’s firearms advocacy organization gets her money—it is a puzzling group, considering that Russia does not have a large grassroots movement for gun rights like the United States does.
Butina does, however, have a close relationship with Alexander Torshin, the former deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who has been accused by Spanish authorities of laundering money for the Russian mob. Neither Butina and Torshin responded to requests for comment.
Both Torshin and Butina pride themselves on their close relationship with the National Rifle Assocation, bragging on social media about their life memberships in the organization and posting photos of themselves with Keene, a former president of the NRA.
They’re not the only ones who posted photos showing links with the NRA: Rogozin posted photos of his meetings with the NRA in 2015. In one photo, the deputy prime minister is standing at what appears to be a shooting range with Gregory, Brownell, and Keene.
In another photo, Rogozin is at a conference table with Clarke and Brownell. Putin ally and former Russian senator Alexander Torshin is also seated with the group, along with a number of other unidentified individuals.
A White House spokesman declined to comment, as did the NRA.
Whatever the NRA’s ultimate reason for sending a delegation to Moscow, the conservative movement in D.C. is starting to slowly shift their views on Russia and Putin.
In May 2014, Keene criticized President Obama for not doing enough to confront Putin.
“The United States under President Obama’s leadership is content to issue rhetorical denunciations, insult Mr. Putin by claiming he runs a second-rate country that doesn’t understand the times in which we live, and deny he and his friends visas to visit the United States [emphasis added],” Keene wrote in the Washington Times, where he is now an editor.
With Trump about to enter office, in January 2017, Keene was singing a different tune.
“We seem prepared to believe any evil of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which has with its second-rate military establishment and failing economy somehow morphed in the minds of many Americans into a greater threat than the old Soviet Union [emphasis added],” he wrote.
Asked why the contradiction, Keene employed some Trumpian logic.
“The two statements aren’t inconsistent,” he told The Daily Beast.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/top-trump ... -in-moscow


and me again...who's playing catchup?

seemslikeadream » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:29 am wrote:
White House pulled out of meet and greet with ‘conservatives’ favorite Russian’ over suspected mob ties


Michael Isikoff
Chief Investigative Correspondent
Yahoo NewsApril 2, 2017

The White House abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting in February between President Trump and a high-level Russian central banker after a national security aide discovered the official had been named by Spanish police as a suspected “godfather” of an organized crime and money-laundering ring, according to an administration official and four other sources familiar with the event.

The event had been planned as a meet and greet with President Trump and Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, in a waiting room at the Washington Hilton before the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 2. Torshin, a top official in his country’s central bank, headed a Russian delegation to the annual event and was among a small number of guests who had been invited by Prayer Breakfast leaders to meet with Trump before it began.

But while reviewing the list of guests, a White House national security aide responsible for European affairs noticed Torshin’s name and flagged him as a figure who had “baggage,” a reference to his suspected ties to organized crime, an administration official told Yahoo News. Around the same time, a former campaign adviser alerted the White House that the meeting could exacerbate the political controversy over contacts between Trump associates and the Kremlin, another source familiar with the matter said.

The sources were unable to say who inside the White House canceled the scheduled meeting, or precisely when the decision was made. The administration official who spoke to Yahoo News said that White House officials were already planning to scrap the meeting when the National Security Council staffer raised concerns about it. But it was not until the night before the Prayer Breakfast that Torshin was informed, without explanation, that his meeting with the president had been scrapped.

“Late the night before, we were told that all meet and greets were off,” said Maria Butina, a special assistant to Torshin, in an email to Yahoo News, confirming that Torshin had expected to meet Trump at the event. “There were no specific questions or statements that Mr. Torshin had in mind during what we assumed to be a five-second handshake. We all hope for better relations between our two countries. I’m sure there will be other opportunities to express this hope.”

The disclosure of the canceled meeting comes as new details are emerging about a Spanish law enforcement investigation that targeted Torshin. The Spanish newspaper El País, which collaborated with Yahoo News on this story, is reporting Sunday that Spanish national police had mounted an elaborate operation to arrest Torshin at the Mallorca airport in the summer of 2013 when he was expected to fly in to attend the birthday party of an accused leader of a Russian organized crime syndicate.

But Torshin failed to show, leading police to conclude he had likely been tipped off by Russian officials, according to the El País report, which cites four judicial and police sources.

Torshin has strongly denied having ties to organized crime figures, and Butina, in her email, called the allegations against him “baseless,” adding: “Mr. Torshin has been repeatedly cleared of all allegations by multiple investigative services.”

While the near-meeting averted what could have been, at a minimum, a political embarrassment for the White House, Torshin’s trip to Washington illustrates what some U.S. intelligence sources say appears to be an aggressive Kremlin effort to forge alliances with conservative Republican Party leaders and activists, including figures close to the White House. They describe this as one element in the broader Russian “influence campaign” that included the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election marked by cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Torshin, once a leader of Putin’s United Russia Party and a senator in the Duma before being named deputy governor of the Bank of Russia in 2015, is a key figure in the Kremlin’s outreach to the conservative movement in the United States. In addition to his appearance at the Prayer Breakfast — an event he has been attending for the past several years — Torshin is also a “life member” of the National Rifle Association — an organization that spent more than $30 million in support of President Trump’s campaign. Torshin has regularly shown up at the gun lobby’s annual conventions, even engaging in target-shooting contests in the exhibit halls with Republican strategists. His assistant, Butina, is the founding chair of a Russian gun rights group, the Right to Bear Arms, which has been described as a Russian version of the NRA. While attending last year’s NRA convention in Louisville, Ky., Torshin was introduced to Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner at a Louisville restaurant, according to three sources familiar with the encounter.

“He’s sort of the conservatives’ favorite Russian,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who together with Rep. Tom Massie, R-Ky., had dinner with Torshin and other members of the Russian delegation to the Prayer Breakfast at a Washington restaurant. “He’s someone who understands our system. His approach is, ‘I agree with you Americans: People should have a right to own guns. There should be religious freedom. The whole problem is with radical Muslims. We were able to have a very good exchange.”

But even while forging ties with Rohrabacher and other conservative Republicans, such as former NRA president David Keene and veteran GOP consultant and Trump transition adviser Paul Erickson, Torshin has been on the radar of international law enforcement officials as a result of a long-running Spanish police investigation into a Russian organized crime syndicate known as the Taganskaya. The group has been accused of laundering profits from racketeering, extortion and other criminal activities through real estate and hotel investments on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Spanish police have made several arrests in connection with the investigation, and an alleged leader of the group, a Russian businessman named Alexander Romanov, pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges in the case last year.

The El País story reports that Spanish national police had wiretapped Romanov and recorded 33 telephone conversations he had with Torshin in which the accused mobster referred to the Russian banker as “el padrino,” or godfather. Alerted that Torshin was planning to attend Romanov’s birthday party on August 23, 2013, the national police prepared to arrest the banker, deploying a dozen officers at the airport and at the Mallorca hotel where the party was to take place. But a Russian official in the Ministry of Interior at the Russian Embassy in Madrid had been informed about the operation. When Torshin failed to show, Spanish police concluded the Interior official had tipped Torshin off. “We suspect that it was he who advised that Torshin was being investigated in Spain and for that reason, he did not come,” a judicial source is quoted as telling El País.

The thwarted plans to arrest Torshin frustrated Spanish law enforcement officials about the level of cooperation they were receiving from the Russian government in their investigations into organized crime. It prompted them to conclude it would be pointless to formally charge Torshin and seek his extradition, especially given his official position, according to the El País report. “it would have delayed the investigation, it would have slowed it,” a judicial source is quoted as saying. “We do not have the support of the Russian authorities.”

Bloomberg News, citing the Spanish National Police dossier prepared under the direction of the country’s best-known prosecutor, Jose Grinda, first reported last year that Torshin was a key suspect in the investigation. Since then, El País has obtained a copy and shared it with Yahoo News as part of a collaborative reporting project for this story.

Citing the intercepted telephone calls between Romanov and Torshin, the dossier states that “above Romanov at a higher hierarchical level is Alexander Torshin. In the numerous telephone conversations and with different interlocutors, Alexander Romanov himself recognizes the subordination that he reveals to what he calls the ‘padrino or ‘the chief’…” — a reference to Torshin.

The report portrays Torshin’s activities as an example of the penetration of the Russian government by Russian and Euro-Asian criminal organizations. It quotes from some of the wiretapped calls in which Romanov tells an associate he was investing in a Mallorca hotel, called Mar y Pins, on Torshin’s behalf. “The Chief instructed him to buy a hotel because he has two daughters and wants one of them to inherit it besides the stock packages,” the report states, summarizing one of Romanov’s phone calls with an associate. He explains in another wiretapped call that he was fronting for Torshin on the hotel purchase because “the padrino cannot buy here … because he is a public official.”

When interviewed last year by Bloomberg in his office in Moscow, where he kept a small bust of Putin, Torshin dismissed the allegations as groundless and characterized his conversations with Romanov as purely social. In an emailed statement to El País, a press spokesman for the Bank of Russia said: “Spanish law enforcement agencies have never brought any charges against Mr. Torshin nor have they made any inquiries. Furthermore, they have never provided either Mr. Torshin or Russian law enforcement agencies with any kind of information about the alleged ties of Mr. Torshin with organized crime. Mr. Torshin was acquainted with Alexander Romanov in 1990s, their contacts were informal in nature and terminated seven years ago. Mr. Torshin has never intended to visit Alexander Romanov. Mr. Torshin has never had any business connections with Alexander Romanov. Mr. Torshin has never owned real estate or business in Spain.”

The spokesman also said that Torshin has “privately attended the Prayer Breakfast” over the past 12 years. “In 2017, he attended the Prayer Breakfast when he was officially on vacation. In addition, President Trump has never proposed a meeting to Mr. Torshin.”
https://www.yahoo.com/news/white-house- ... 26495.html





Donald Trump and Russia: follow the money laundering
By Bill Palmer | April 3, 2017 | 0

So I heard from Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev today through his spokesman. It was a surreal moment considering how much of a ghost-like figure he’s been throughout the Trump-Russia saga, popping up in strange times and places, never speaking. He only wished to cordially emphasize one point to me: that his 9.9% ownership stake in Bank of Cyprus was largely wiped out by the 2013 bailout. I got to thinking about why this point was important to him. And it made me realize that whoever is or is not involved, Trump-Russia is all going to come down to money laundering.

In a legal sense it doesn’t matter if Rybolovlev massively overpaid for Donald Trump’s house, or if he flew halfway around the world to meet up with Trump in various cities during or after the election. Those actions aren’t crimes, unless they’re part of something else. Deutsche Bank was recently caught laundering billions of dollars in Russian money through Bank of Cyprus into the hands of clients in places like New York City (source: CNN). Now that’s a crime. Pair it up with Deutsche Bank’s strange penchant for loaning large amounts of money to New York City resident Donald Trump (source: The Guardian), and you realize that these two things are either a really fascinating coincidence, or this is the most politically relevant money laundering scandal of all time.

No wonder Rybolovlev wants to emphasize that his association with Bank of Cyprus essentially ended four years ago; he’s trying to signal that he had nothing to do with this money laundering mess. The same benefit of the doubt can not be said of Wilbur Ross, who became Vice Chairman of Bank of Cyprus in 2014, and continued to hold that position until he resigned last month (link) – so he could become Donald Trump’s Secretary of Commerce. Ross isn’t going to be easily able to explain this away, and he’s not the only one still holding the Bank of Cyprus hot potato.



Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort was allegedly laundering tens of millions of dollars in payments from a Kremlin intermediary through that same Bank of Cyprus. If that’s provable, then Manafort is in huge legal trouble; he’d have to flip on Trump in order to avoid spending most of the rest of his life in prison. And whether Manafort flips or not, it feels like the shortest path for Trump going down on criminal activity is if it can be proven that the money Deutsche Bank was loaning to him was being laundered from Russia through Bank of Cyprus, and he knew it. That’s the kind of tangible, traceable crime that’s more easily proven than the subjective charge of conspiring with a foreign government to subvert the election process.



Trump will have one heck of a time explaining why he added the then-sitting Vice Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus to his own cabinet, if he had no involvement with Bank of Cyprus of himself. Is it feasible to believe that Wilbur Ross didn’t know about the money laundering going on in his bank? Will Ross have to flip on Trump for leniency? And why did Trump try to meet with alleged Russian mafia money laundering kingpin Alexander Torshin in February? (link). If the FBI can take down Donald Trump for money laundering, it won’t have to definitively prove an election rigging conspiracy to take him down; he’ll already be finished.

http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/don ... ring/2159/
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:33 am

seemslikeadream » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:40 am wrote:
99 "coincidences" connecting Trump and Putin
Mar 27, 2017 5:00am CDT by Psimpsonuml
Image

Check out my site for everything.
http://thegopwatchdog.com/

I started writing this because I thought it was important to have a clear understand of what the hell is going on with the Trump - Russia connections. Some of these are just rumors or probably mean nothing (1, 22, 25, 31) but the sheer number of Russian mobsters who have lived at Trump tower and the fact that 5 people have had to resign over connections to Putin is alarming.


Honestly the discovery that surprised me the most is the Abramoff connection. I'm beginning to think that the Russians partnered with the Republican party in the 1990s to build an alliance for reasons not yet known.

Trump's son in Law is Jared Kushner, the former owner of the Observer. The Observer received the DNC hacks from Guccifer 2.0 who is rumored to be a Russian agent.
Guccifer 2.0 and Roger Stone were apparently in contact up to 16 times during the 2016 campaign.
Jared Kushner's parents were friends with Netanyahu. He has forged an alliance with Putin.
His Chief Strategist is Steve Bannon. Bannon is the CEO of Breitbart, with the Mercer family having majority ownership. The Mercers, along with Bannon are heavily involved in Cambridge Analytica a data gathering firm. Cambridge Analytica’s parent company is SCL Group, which lists Dmitry Firtash as a board member. Breitbart and Bannon have extensive ties to the far right movement in Europe which is also funded by Putin.
His second campaign manager was Paul Manafort. He had to resign in August due to having questionable Russian ties like Dmitry Firtash and the former Ukrainian President. Manafort lives in Trump tower, along with Kellyanne Conway and her husband.
Hacked Texts reveal that it looks like Serhiy Leshchenko reached out to Manaforts daughter in an effort to blackmail him. She was not happy about the “blood money’
Mike McSherry, former Delegate strategist for the Trump campaign also lobbied for the same Ukrainian presidential candidate as Paul Manafort.
Rick Gates, Manaforts top aide also lobbied for Pro-Putin Ukrainian candidate.
Per Politico, Manafort met with Konstantin Kilimnik multiple times during the campaign. The first time appears to be in April, maybe when Trump gave that speech? Kilimnik is thought to be part of Russian intelligence.
They worked Oleg Deripaska on investment funds in Ukraine. Oleg paid Manafort 10 million dollars a year to lobby for Putin.
Oleg Deripaska obtained a VISA to enter this country, after previously being barred from entry due to the lobbying activities of Bob Dole.
Firtash worked with Russian Mob Semion Moglivech boss to help Gazprom oversee Natural Gas distribution to Ukraine.
Trump advisor J.D. Gordon is claiming that he was the advisor who had the Ukraine language softened at the Republican National Convention, at the request of Donald Trump
Kellyanne Conway's husband has business dealings with the Russian government and deleted tweets about it once Conway was chosen. (Conway, Bannon, and the Mercers are part of the "Council on National Policy" a secretive far right think tank group.
George Conway represented a firm that bribed the Russian government.
Trump sold his condo to Dmitry Rybolovev, whose private plane keeps showing up where Trump is. Rybolovev is a Russian billionaire with ties to Putin.
Rybolovev also had his Yacht placed in Croatia at the same time Ivanka and Jared were vacationing there, and his plane landed there around the same time too.
There is a Pro-Russian Think tank called the Center for the National Interest (CNI). CNI Board Member Henry Kissinger, former US Diplomat and current Putin confidante, has gotten close to Trump.
Kissinger suggested both Tillerson and KT McFarland to Trump.
Secretary of State Tillerson has many Russian business dealings through Exxon with Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft.
CNI Board Member Drew Guff runs a Russian Private Equity firm, attended the April Speech by Trump, and also sits on the International Council at the Belfour Center with Oleg Deripaska
The Dossier Christopher Steele created said that Igor Sechin along with Oleg Orovinkin were working on a deal to sell 19.5% of Rosneft to Trump in exchange for dropping sanctions. This deal relied on Carter Page, who resigned as a Trump advisor in September. After the election, a 19.5% deal went through, Oleg Orovkin was found dead in his car and the guy behind the Russian Hacking was arrested for treason in Russia.
Carter Page allegedly met with Igor Diveykin, a former Russian security official in charge of collecting US election information, when he went to Russia.
After the election, Kaspersky labs Ruslan Stoyanov was arrested for investigation of Treason. Once Michael Flynn was ousted as National Security advisor, it also came out that he was working for Kaspersky last year.
The Rosneft deal is linked to Trump through a vast network of holding companies. The 19.5% was through a Singapore company using Caymans offshore accounts. QHG shares was the holding company of the 19.5% sale. QHG's disclosure form stated that it used to be called CATALPO PTE, but no such company existed. Perhaps they did that to confuse people. Anyways, a company with the same information called CATALPA PTE did exist though. Catalpa shared an address with the Intertrust Group. Intertrust’s filing shows an affiliation with Walkers Global which is the affiliation used to incorporate QHG. Intertrust is owned by the Blackstone Group. If that name seems familiar, it is because Blackstone CEO is Stephen Schwarzman, one of Trump's senior economic advisors. Uncovered thanks to this amazing Twitter user
The Blackstone Group was cofounded by Stephen Schwarzman and CNI Board Member Peter Peterson.
The Dossier also claims Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to meet with Russians, which he denied. Recently, it came out that he was working with Felix Sater to broker a Ukrainian-Russia peace deal.
Cohen, Sater, and a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Andreii Artemenko sat down for dinner to discuss Ukraine, Russia, and sanctions.
Alex Oronov, working with Cohen and Artemenko, developed the plan which they planned on leaving on Michael Flynn’s desk until he had to resign. Oronov mysteriously died at the beginning of March.
Felix Sater claimed to be a Senior Advisor to Trump , which Trump claimed not to remember. Sater had his own office in Trump Tower. Sater has been connected to organized crime and his father is in the Russian Mafia
To finance Trump SoHo, the Bayrock Group formed a tax evading partnership with Icelandic FL-Group. Trump had to sign off on this deal.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross invested 500 million in the Bank of Cyprus and is on the board of directors. This is where Putin launders his money. Dmitry Rybolovev (7) is the largest shareholder at this bank, and another Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg is the second largest shareholder.
Deutsche Bank, under Ackerman was the only bank willing to loan money to Trump after he declared bankruptcy four times. Josef Ackerman left Deutche Bank to join the Bank of Cyprus after Wilber Ross engineered his takeover.
Putin's propaganda news station Russia Today has frequently had Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and Sebastian Gorka on it.
Carter Page was named as a foreign policy advisor because Jeff sessions Chief of Staff, Rick Dearborn found him.
Stephen Miller is Jeff Sessions former aide and is friends with Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer. Spencer has ties to European far right groups and was married to a Russian Propaganda mouthpiece with ties to Putin.
Trump friend Roger Stone is in contact with Julian Assange who runs WikiLeaks, who also hacked the DNC and provided leaks to Russia today. Stone is also partner in a lobbying firm with Paul Manafort
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos is the sister of mercenary Erik Prince. Erik Prince is running all over the world helping dictators suppress Muslims. He is a Breitbart contributor, a Pence supporter and a Trump advisor.
Prince also used to work for House Rep Dana Rohrabacker, also known as Putin's Favorite Congressman and one time considered to be Trumps secretary of State.
Prince is connected to John Ashcroft through Constellis Holdings, as Constellis owns Princes old company, Blackwater. Ashcroft has defended Lord of War Victor Bout, a Russian connected to Igor Sechin.
Vadim Trincher, who lived in Trump tower ran a gambling ring out of Trump tower on behalf of Russian mafia don Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov.
Preet Bhahara was fired by the President, along with the other U.S. Attorneys in what is a common move when a new party take power. The odd thing is that Trump had previously asked him stay on. Bhahara is the Attorney responsible for putting Victor Bout and the Russian gambling ring in jail. He also prosecuted one Russian for drug trafficking, a dozen Russian spies, and a Russian Banker. 3 days before being fired, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington requested that he investigate Trump Tower.
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn violated the Logan Act by discussing lifting sanctions with The Russian Ambassador pre-inauguration.
He also met with Austrian Neo-Nazis working with Putin
Michael Flynn initially chose Monica Crowley to be on the national security council before she had to withdraw due to plagiarism scandal. She recently registered as a lobbyist for Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, a Trump (and Clinton) foundation donor with ties to Carter Page.
Trump Tower housed an office of Alfa Bank which had a private server communicating with companies like Spectrum Health, which lists members of the Devos Family as Board Members.
Richard Burt, a Republican Lobbyist and CNI Board Member sat on the board of Alfa Bank. He worked for the Trump Campaign while lobbying for Russian State owned Gazprom
Burt was an advisor to Textron Inc, a financial company help finance some of Trump's international golf course deals.
In recent years, Gazprom has hired the lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs to lobby for it. Lobbyist and Trump supporter Jack Kingston visited Russia the same week as former Gazprom lobbyist Carter page. Totally a coincidence.
Trump threw Miss Universe with Putin-Connected Oligarch Aras Agalorov and had Alex Sapir/Rotem Rosen as guests
Alex Sapir is the son of Tamir Sapir, and they own condos in Trump tower. Sapir and his organization partnered with Bayrock on plenty of Trump condo projects. Alex's sister married Rotem Rosen, a former lieutenant for Lev Leviev
The Bayrock Group was founded by Tevfik Araf, and housed in Trump Tower. Araf hired Felix Sater as his C.O.O.
Michael Caputo, who helped run Trump's NY primary, lived in Russia in the 90's and was Contracted by Gazprom to improve Russia’s image in the United States.
Michael Caputo works for Trump apologist Chris Collins now, and learned everything he knew from Roger Stone.
Ivanka Trump is close friends with Putin's rumored girlfriend Wendi Deng.
Ivanka is also close with Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich and his wife. Here is a photo of them together (also with Wendi Deng)
Abramovich owns the steel company building the pipelines recently approved by the Trump administration
Abramovich's Millhouse Capital merged with Oleg Deripaska's aluminum holdings to form RUSAL
in 2007, Rusal merged with the Aluminum side of Glencore to form an even larger company. Glencore is one of the companies involved in the Dossier - Ross
The Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin died on 2/20. He invited Trump to Russia in 1986.
Lev Leviev is a Putin friend. Not only has he had multiple business dealings with Jared Kushner and the Bayrock group (Felix Sater and Tamir Kapir) but he also works with Netanyahu on settlements.
Russian-Canadian Alex Shnaider partnered with Trump on a building project in Toronto. Shnaider partnered with Ukrainian Billionaire Eduard Shifrin to form a holding company called the Midland Group. Shiftin was recently given Russian Citizenship by a Putin presidential decree. Alex's father in law Boris Birshtein is associated with the Russian Mafia.
Semion Mogilevich is the head of the Russian mafia. In the 1990's, he started a fake company with Jacob Bogatin as the CEO. Jacob's brother David owned 5 separate condos in Trump tower at one point and is well known as part of Mogilevich's key members.
Mogilevich key lieutenant Vyacheslav Ivankov also lived at Trump tower.
Jack Abramoff may be where it all starts. Russian Oil and Gas company NAFTAsib formed a shell company called Chelsea Commercial, which only listed Abramoff and Patrick Pizzella as lobbyists when it was created. The purpose of Chelsea was to promote Russian oil and trade interests in the United States. It also underwrote the trip Tom Delay and Ed Buckham made to Russia with Abramoff. Pizzella also happens to work for Trump. Buckham formed the Alexander Strategy Group to help the US Family Network funnel its money received from Naftasib. The US Family network was primarily a vehicle consisting of Buckham, Delay, Ralph Reed, CNI Board Member Grover Norquist and Abramoff. These people have been members of the Council on National Policy over the years.
In November 1998, Jack Abramoff organized a meeting between Sergei Kiriyenko and Republican lawmakers. Kiriyenko is the former prime minister, and is also featured in the Dossier as part of the Trump scandal.
Bob Ney had a young aide working for him during this time. When he was caught, his aide, some young unknown named Corey Lewandowski wrote a letter to the judge praising him as a father figure.
Don McGahn, White House Counsel defended Tom Delay on charges of a Russian Pay . Delay, along with Jack Abramoff, Buckham, and Ney met with Viktor Chernomyrdin, former head of Gazprom in the 1990s.
Mcgahn also happened to start working for Squire Patton Boggs, the lobbyists representing Gazprom in 2013. SPB, he moved on to Jones Day.
Jones Day opened a Moscow office in 2013 after it successfully worked with AlfaBank (MIkhail Fridman) and Renova Group (Viktor Vekselberg) to create an oil producer with BP, called TNK-BP. It has since been bought out by Rosneft. From there, Mcgahn signed on to work for the Trump Presidential Campaign.
Former Senator Conrad Burns was also taken down by the Abramoff Scandal, and he had positive things to say about Putin. Burns passed away weeks before Trump announced his presidential run.
Patrick Pizzella was recently named Acting President of the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
Pizzella and Abramoff organized many trips for conservatives to the Marianas. During one trip, Pizzella had Kellyanne Conway show up . If that is not enough, Conway and Pizzela are both on the Center for National Policy board
Alexander Strategy Group's main lobbyist was Paul Behrends, former National Security Advisor to Dana Rohrabacker and family friend of Erik Prince. He is the Current Staff Director for the House Foreign Affairs committee.
Dana Rohrabacker and Jack Abramoff are long time friends.
Abramoff partnered with Charlie Black (of the lobbying firm Black, (Paul) Manafort and (Roger) Stone) in the 80s to work with brutal African dictators.
Sebastian Gorka worked for Viktor Orban, a Hungarian authoritarian leader close to Putin, before moving to the United States to work for the Republicans. Now he works for the Trump White House.
Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, widely regarded as Russia's top spy, was revealed to have met with Attorney General Sessions twice last year in his capacity as a Senator. He also met with Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn in December. Also, when the Republicans removed anti-Russia language from the Platform at the convention? It was because Trump advisors Carter Page and JD Gordon met with Kislyak.
Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani lobbied for Rosneft
Jim Baker lobbied Trump to nominate Tillerson as Secretary of State, possibly because of the fact that his firm represents both Exxon and Gazprom/Rosneft
The Former head of Yukos is a Trump backer and campaign donor.
CNI Board Member David McCormick is an executive at Bridgewater Associates where James Comey served as General Counsel prior to joining the FBI. They also both worked Din the Bush administration, albeit in different cabinet departments.
CNI Board Member Jon Huntsman was tapped to be ambassador to Russia.
CNI Board Members Dmitri K. Simes and Paul Saunders have hosted events Trump has spoken at, and Simes has been referred to by Putin as his American Friend
Donald Trump met with Ambassador Kislyak during the Presidential Campaign, which looks like nothing until you remember he had previously denied any such meetings.
Trump ally David Clarke visited Moscow the same week as Michael Flynn. His trip was paid for by a Russian gun rights group headed by Maria Butina and included several NRA heads. Butina is close with long time Republican strategist Paul Erickson
Sergei Millian, a Russian born real estate developer has close ties to Trump and to Michael Cohen. It is also said that he may have been behind some of the dirty claims in the dossier.
Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn is a Russian born Pro-Putin immigrant, who has spent a lot of time talking about Crimea on television. He resigned on 3/25/17.
Secretary of the Air Force nominee Heather Wilson founded Keystone International in order to foster business relations Between the United States and Russia
Mark Burnett helped remake Trumps image into a successful reality star, ran his inauguration festivities and has worked with Putin on reality television. Grant Stern does a fantastic job laying out the case that Burnett could have been the guy in the middle of all of this.
Edward Lozansky is a controversial figure at the heart of US-Russia relations over the past 30 years. He openly advocates for a closer alliance in order to bring down Isis. Lozanky is the creator of the annual US-Russia Forum, and founder of American University in Moscow.
Lozansky fled here in 1986, and Bob Dole and Jack Kemp helped him undermine the Soviet Union in order to get his wife over to the United States.
Once the Soviet Union fell, Lozanky created the American University in Moscow, with offices right next door to Paul Weyrich’s heritage foundation new Moscow office.
Lozanky started the Sakharov Institute in Russia in order to fight for the activists freedom, while Richard Burt actively worked on the U.S side for Sakharov’s freedom. Both are now actively working to create a Trump-Putin alliance.
Paul Weyrich, founder of the Council for National Policy and the Free Congress Foundation helped organize the World Russia forum after the downfall of the Soviet Union. In 2003, a who's who of Republican Congressman favorable to Russia including Weldon, Delay, and Rohrabacker were in attendence.
Trump's former lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz has signed on to defend a Russian Bank with ties to Putin.
Trump Transition member and head of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes has his entire net worth sunk into part ownership of a winery in California, which happens to have Russian ties.
The Republican National Committee paid Hamilton Trading Group large sums of money to dig up information on Hillary during the election. Hamilton is co-owned by a former Soviet Spy, Gennady Vasilenko
Nigel Farage is close with Russia and possibly looked the other way while they helped fund Brexit. He is also an unofficial advisor to Donald Trump.
http://m.dailykos.com/story/2017/3/27/1 ... -and-Putin


bonus piece ...who'd thought I would be posting about Abramoff and Weldon again :lol:

Russia connections go way way back ..check out the whole article

October 2006: Weldon’s daugters home gets raided because of lobbying disclosure issues.
6/22/06: Senate Report comes out about Abramoff scandal in senate. Russia mentioned nowhere. John Mccain had subpoenaed all the documents about Abramoff and systematically ignored anything related to Russia.
2013: Dana Rohrabacker and Manafort meet about Ukraine.
8/11/14: Erickson has an open meeting with Butina and Torshin

12/8/15: NRA contingent of Erickson, David Keene, Pete Brownell, Joe Gregory, and David Clarke go to Moscow to meet with “Right to Bear Arms” with Maria Butina, Dmitry Rogozin, Sergey Lavrov, and Alexander Torshin
2015: Dmitry Firtash meets with Abramoff to talk about Ukraine.
Feb 2016: Erickson forms Bridges LLC with Maria Butina (Right to Bear Arms head) based out of his apartment in North Dakota
October 2016: Kiriyenko gets pulled out private sector to work for Putin
11/23/16: Rohrabacker is Putins favorite congressman
2017: Jan 2017: Butina and Erickson go to Inaguaration ball
1/11/17: Erik Prince meets with Russians in Seychelles
2/28/17: Rohrabacker and Abramoff lobbying in the Congo
3/15/17: Rohrabacker article on Putin
http://thegopwatchdog.com/the-untold-st ... collusion/



Mogilevich key lieutenant Vyacheslav Ivankov also lived at Trump tower. Jack Abramoff may be where it all starts.


I'm keeping my eye on the mob.


I am too chiggerbit :)

and the link is dead....so that is why we ALWAYS copy and paste.....for those who do not understand

thank you so much chiggerbit for preserving this information


chiggerbit » Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:29 pm wrote:This author seems to think foreign money is the real culprit, but I'm not so sure. Regardless, I'm keeping my eye on the mob.

http://electionfraudnews.com/News/US/McCainCrimes3.htm

SENATOR McCOVER-UP:
Abramoff & the GOP Foreign Money Machine

By Mark G. Levey
Part 1, Part 2

I. Background: GOP Foreign Influence Peddling

Senator John McCain has proved to be Jack Abramoff’s best friend.

As Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee from 2005-2007, McCain was instrumental in suppressing evidence of Jack Abramoff’s role in directing illegal foreign payoffs to ranking members of the Republican Party.


Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff, and Ralph Reed

McCain also did a big favor for Abramoff’s principal partners in crime, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed , identified in the 2006 Committee report as key players in the Choctaw Indian and Marianas Island scandals. Not one of the principal witnesses in the matter were compelled to publicly testify by McCain's panel. The Committee also sequestered 99 percent of the documents it received, and these remain locked away, unseen by the public, in Senate files.

But there’s much more to the scandal than the Indian tribes rip-off McCain did disclose. The strand that runs through all the Abramoff-McCain relationship is foreign money – many, many millions – that Jack, Grover and Ralph funneled to GOP leaders from some of the world’s worst bad guys as part of a foreign influence-peddling operation.

Until Jack was finally indicted on August 11, 2005, he did some truly sinister deals with a long list of bad guys, from al-Qaeda bankers, to Russian intelligence officers, to a South Asian leader involved with rogue nuclear programs. McCain’s role was to limit the disclosures and the political damage that still threaten to destroy the GOP’s foreign funding base and the party’ hopes of ever regaining control in Washington.

This is Part 3 of a series, The Crimes and Coverups of John McCain, “Reformer” . See, Part 2, “McCain’s 30-Years of Service to Saudi Bank Raiders and Junk Bond Kings” , Link ; Pt 1, "McCain Had Key Role in Iraq WMD Deception", Link

II. Senator McCover-up: Why McCain Was Chosen by GOP Leadership to Oversee the Abramoff Investigation

By late 2005, it was becoming clear as the Justice Department started scratching the surface of Abamoff's influence-peddling network that its exposure was going to be politically explosive, and that it was going to blow up the Republicans. Details started coming out that showed the scandal was more sinister than the mere rip-off of Indian tribes by their Washington lobbyists. The Wall Street Journal, observed in article entitled, “Abramoff Scandal Threatens to Embroil GOP” :

“The Justice Department's probe is far broader than previously thought . . . its focus on prominent Republicans raises the risk of serious embarrassment to the party before next year's congressional elections.”

The Republican Congressional leadership recognized the problem. McCain was perfectly positioned to be the one to manage it. He had previously served as the Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, and most importantly, he had some credibility as a “maverick” reformer and a track record of highly publicized enmity with one of the primary suspects as a base to build on. McCain’s talent for damage-control was demonstrated early-on in his Senate career, when he survived his involvement in the Keating Savings & Loan scandal. (See, Pt. 2)

IV. McCain Covered Up the Malfeasances of his Fellow Senators

So, in 2005, “Straight-Talk” McCain was the natural pick as Chairman of Indian Affairs to replace the former Chair Ben Nighthorse Campbell after his sudden resignation. Campbell’s sudden retirement from the Senate has never really been explained. What we do know is what followed: Link

By the time McCain took control of the investigation started by Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who retired from the Senate in 2005, investigators knew that Ralph Reed had taken large amounts of Indian casino money in more than one state. What Reed and Abramoff did to one small tribe in Texas justified bringing Reed before the committee and putting him under oath, as was done with Abramoff. Perhaps Reed was never called because he was too powerful to confront, or because he was still considered a prospect for elected office. But he got a walk, and the Tigua tribe in El Paso never got a full accounting of what Reed and Abramoff had done to them.

The inquiry initially had a limited mandate. The committee stated it would look into the exploitation of several American Indian tribes by Abramoff and a close circle of GOP lobbyists, including Michael Scanlon, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist. Amazingly, none were ever put on the stand under oath and publicly questioned by the Senate Committee. Norquist and Reed were never issued subpoenas to appear. Abramoff and Scanlon refused to testify after being subpoenaed. Link Chairman McCain settled without much apparent fuss on hearing from a few underlings.

It was an obvious conflict of interest to allow McCain to head a body investigating Abramoff’s Indian lobbying, as he had headed the Committee in 1995-97, a time when Abramoff successfully lobbied on behalf of the Choctaw to exempt tribal wagering earnings from proposed federal taxes. Link

Also perplexing is McCain’s decision in March to hire former Senator Conrad Burns, who had received $137,000 from Abramoff, as his Montana campaign chairman. Burns lobbied the Interior Committee to disperse some $3 million that had been set aside for underprivileged Indian schools to an Abramoff client, a relatively affluent tribal body in Michigan.
Link /

Burns lost his seat in 2006, following publication of an article in The Wall Street Journal naming him, along with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.), as the subject of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into Abramoff’s lobbying activities. When allegations of his own wrongdoing spilled out, Burns was quoted as saying he wished Jack “had never been born.” Link

Oddly, such indiscretions and outbursts by his Senate colleagues don’t seem to bother the man who, after his close call with the Keating scandal, “reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.” Link

That McCain’s mission was primarily to contain political fallout and minimize damage to the GOP was never in doubt. Prior to hearings in 2005, Roll Call reported McCain “assured his colleagues that his expanding investigation into the activities of a former GOP lobbyist and a half-dozen of his tribal casino clients is not directed at revealing ethically questionable actions by Members of Congress.” Paul Kane, Roll Call, “McCain Won’t Target Members” ( March 9, 2005), Link When a batch of Abramoff e-mails were released in March, 2006, McCain’s office redacted all the names of the members of Congress who had a “positive response” to Abramoff’s lobbying. Link

V. McCain’s Missing Documents

Indeed, the Abramoff scandal seems to have become “The Case of the Amazing Vanishing Corruption Investigation”, as Scott Horton recently described it in Harper’s. Link

While the Committee never heard from the principals in the case, what it did receive were their records. As Committee Chairman, John McCain made shrewd use of Senate rules to subpoena 750,000 pages of documents related to Abramoff’s lobbying -- literally tons of Abramoff scandal documents – billing records, memos, appointment calendars -- keeping 99.7 percent of them out of the record, and buried the rest in locked files in the basement of the Hart Senate Office Building . Link

This scandal eerily parallels an earlier betrayal of Native American peoples overseen by John McCain while he was Chairman of that Indian Affairs Committee. McCain has served on the Committee since 1987, and previously headed the committee between 1995 and 1997, a period when the Indian Lands Trust scandal was in full-bloom for the rip-off of billions of dollars worth of land leases supposedly held in trust by the federal government.

During that scandal, as well, McCain made many statements sympathetic to the plight of exploited native peoples, gaining his vaunted reputation as a “maverick” Republican, but nothing was really done for the victims by his committee. It was during this period that the tribes finally filed federal suit, Cobell v. Babbitt , and it was then learned that the Interior Department had destroyed 162 boxes of documents needed by plaintiffs to prove the cases in court. Link Further rounds of document destructions came to light, and the federal government has continued to resist settling the case. Link This appalling breech of trust led to a comment in The National Catholic Observer: Link

The century of stalling meant the money owed increased exponentially and no administration wants to pay the billions back on its watch. Thus, both the Clinton administration and the current Bush administration tried to derail the Indian trust fund lawsuit. A Jan. 26, 2004, editorial in The New York Times called the refusal to pay half a million Native Americans what is rightfully theirs “a continuing shame.” Compared to a scandal of comparable size such as Enron, the federal government’s egregious conduct has been hidden from the public.

Next, we see how McCain misused his power as Chairman to limit the scope of public hearings into how Abramoff, Norquist and a circle of GOP lobbyists and politicians sucked up millions from foreign sources linked to terrorism and espionage, violated lobbying laws to change U.S. policy, and then funneled huge wads of cash back to the Bush White House along with Republican Congressional campaign coffers.

VI. McCain’s Trusted Role in Protecting the GOP Foreign-Money Machine.

Abramoff and Norquist operated a foreign influence-peddling network that funneled money to the Bush White House and selected Republican Congressmen from the dirtiest of dirty money sources, including terrorist bankers and ex-KGB oil barons. According to Newsweek: Link

During the 2004 campaign, Abramoff was a top fund-raiser for the Bush re-election effort, raising more than $100,000 for the campaign. While exact figures on how much he raised for the campaign aren’t known, Abramoff told The New York Times in July 2003 - months before active fund-raising began - that he had already raised $120,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

In addition, between 1999 and 2005, Abramoff, entities under his control, and his clients “gave a total of $4.4 million to more than 240 members of Congress.” Link The largest recipient of that largesse was Arizona Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who received $101,620, before he was defeated in the 2006 election. Large amounts of cash, $217,000, even filtered down to two GOP Arizona State Senators. Link

Much of that money came out of GOP slush funds controlled by Abramoff and his confederates. What the public wasn’t told by McCain was that a large portion of the income taken in by Abramoff and others came from sources under investigation by U.S intelligence and counter-terrorism. McCain withheld from public release the vast bulk of subpoenaed lobbying records related to a period when Abramoff engaged in extremely serious improprieties on behalf of those non-Indian tribe clients, including:

In the months immediately after 9/11, Abramoff worked with Grover Norquist to lobby the Bush Administration on behalf of a Saudi banker, Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Chairman of Dallah al Baraka Group (DBG), accused of being a longtime financier of Osama bin Laden. Kamel, who is worth a reported $2.6 billion, was the primary owner of the Sudanese and Saudi banks used by bin Laden to build his al-Qaeda network after his 1991 expulsion from Saudi Arabia. As owner of Dallah Avco, Kamel employed Omar al-Bayoumi, who shepherded the Flight 77 hijackers immediately after their arrival in the U.S. Link ; reproduced at: Link ? The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report mentions neither Kamel’s name nor Dallah al Baraka. (See, Link )

In 2002, Abramoff and Scanlon received a $1.2 million fee to set up a White House meeting between George W. Bush and the leader of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamed, who was viewed as persona nongratis by some in the State Dept. for human rights abuses and his oft-repeated condemnations of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. hv Mohamed’s visit, which was arranged with the help of Karl Rove, was also resisted by some in U.S. intelligence and law enforcement as Malaysia had not been fully cooperative in counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda, including its allegedly botched surveillance of the al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur in early January 2000, at which the 9/11 and USS Cole attacks were planned. Link ; c.f., Link Malaysia was also a hub of the nuclear proliferation network of A.Q. Khan. Link Western intelligence services linked a Malaysian holding company, Kaspudu Sendirian Berhad, which is owned by the Malaysian prime minister’s only son, Kamaluddin Abdullah, to Khan’s network. Time Magazine reported that Abdullah’s holding, Scomi Precision Engineering, fulfilled a $3.5 million contract to build components for 14 uranium enrichment centrifuges that ended up being shipped to Libya’s nuclear program. Link The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report mentions neither Mohamed’s name nor makes reference to Rove’s involvement. (See, Link )


Abramoff and Scanlon set themselves up as intermediaries for deals involving Malaysian gas and oil interests in Sudan, where U.S. companies are legally banned from doing business. The Washington Post stated, “Another Abramoff financial vehicle was the nonprofit American International Center, a Rehoboth Beach, Del., ‘think tank’ set up by Scanlon, who staffed it with beach friends from his summer job as a lifeguard. The center became a means for Abramoff and Scanlon to take money from foreign clients that they did not want to officially represent. Some of the funds came from the government of Malaysia. Banks and oil companies there were making deals in Sudan, where U.S. companies were barred on human rights grounds. Sudan was among several oil-rich nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that Abramoff eyed as venues for lucrative energy deals. Abramoff told associates he wanted to become a go-to person for U.S. companies seeking to do business with oil-patch nations.” Link The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report makes no mention of Abramoff’s lobbying on behalf of Malaysian interests in Sudan. (See, Link )

The fees paid Abramoff and Scanlon by Malaysia funneled through AIC were allegedly laundered through Edward Fuelner, President of the Heritage Foundation. A report issued on May 12, 2005 by Democrats.org stated that Fuelner had previously done business with Abramoff with Malaysian clients: “In August 2001, DeLay led a delegation to Malaysia where he attended informal meetings and a fancy dinner in his honor given by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur. Jack Abramoff attended the dinner thrown in DeLay's honor. Edwin Feulner was president of the Heritage foundation at the time of the trip. Feulner also went to Malaysia , saying that, "I sat by the pool while they played golf." Feulner worked for Belle Haven Consultants as a senior advisor. Official travel disclosure stated that the Heritage Foundation sponsored the travel. However, Time magazine reported that former Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop, a Heritage senior fellow who was on the trip, said Heritage did not pay for the trip and that Belle Haven Consultants, a for-profit, Hong Kong-based firm linked to the Malaysian government, played a key role. According to Wallop, "Heritage had nothing to do with it… Belle Haven did." Both DeLay's office and the Heritage Foundation insist Heritage paid for the trip. (Time, 4/25/05; Washington Post, 4/17/05; Member Travel Disclosure Form, 3/19/02]. “Link The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report mentions neither Fuelner’s name, the Heritage Foundation, nor Belle Haven Consultants. (See, Link )



Also withheld by McCain were documents related to $3.4 million in fees received from executives of NaftaSib, a Russia energy company. According to The Washington Post, NaftaSib “has business ties with Russian security institutions.” Link Other sources specify that Abamoff and DeLay received that money from operatives working for the GRU (Russian military intelligence) as part of an influence operation. Link Abramoff worked from 1997-2005 with former Tom DeLay advisor Ed Buckham. About $60,000 was spent on a six-day 1997 Russian trip for Tom DeLay, Buckham, and Abramoff. In 1998, $1 million was sent to Buckham via his organization U.S. Family Network to "influence DeLay's vote in 1998 on legislation that helped make it possible for the IMF to bail out the faltering Russian economy." DeLay voted for the legislation. Link The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report makes no reference to Abramoff’s Russian lobbying, Russian intelligence, or to NaftaSib. (See, Link )





Naftasib executives later assisted DeLay in obtaining sniper equipment and evading U.S. export license requirements for shipment to settlers groups on the West Bank. . Link A footnote in the report makes a brief reference to the diversion of funds from Indian tribes to purchase sniper equipment for export to Israeli settlers. The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report makes no reference to Abramoff’s Russian lobbying nor to the role of NaftaSib in his efforts to evade U.S. arms export regulations. (See, Link )

McCain’s inquiry touched on issues that went far astray from a look into the exploitation of several American Indian tribes by Abramoff and a close circle of GOP lobbyists, including Robert Scanlon, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist. However, where the investigation unearthed other, more serious illegalities, these were simply skipped over, and omitted from the record.

About a year after it began its formal investigation, however, the Committee subpoenaed all of Jack Abramoff’s recent lobbying records, along with those of Norquist, Reed and Scanlon. The Committee staff received the electronic files from Jack’s former employers: the lobbying firm, Preston Gates, from 1995 to 2000, and Greenberg Traurig, LLP, a law firm with close GOP ties, where Abramoff worked from 2000 to 2004. These firms were tied to the scandal and McCain held their fate in his hands. When printed out, these amounted to an estimated 750,000 pages. McCain’s Committee would end up releasing only a small faction of these, a mere 4800 pages. Dozens of boxes of documents remain sequestered in Committee files pursuant to arrangements that McCain and the GOP majority imposed on the committee. See, page 6 of the Final Report; also, see, Dennis Greenia (“dengre”), Daily Kos, Jack Abramoff: John McCain’s other Lobbyist problem, ( Feb 22, 2008), Link

VII. Conclusion

By withholding most of the evidence received in response to his broad subpoena, McCain managed to cover-up the larger picture of the political work Abramoff did for his clients, some of which was clearly contrary to the U.S. national interest. This has thwarted the efforts of investigators outside McCain’s committee to independently examine the bulk of the record, which remains hidden.

However, it is completely consistent with McCain’s role as a career cover-up specialist for the foreign influence-peddling and financial frauds of the Republican Party.

ENDS


here's Mark's post at DU

https://www.democraticunderground.com/d ... 89x3384539

Part 1: McCain's Role in the WMD Cover up
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0806/S00095.htm

McCain’s 30-Years of Service to Saudi Bank Raiders
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0806/S00096.htm

The Crimes And Cover-Ups Of John McCain Part 3
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0806/S00097.htm
[/quote]


seemslikeadream » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:07 am wrote:
PufPuf93 » Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:59 pm wrote:

Exactly.

What is going to be concluded by all the investigations is that it is skeazy business men all the way down and no clear connection to the Russian State.

That conclusion is going to be the plausible deniability that keeps Trump in office.

The Trump investigations should have been on financial crimes and corruption regardless of State, though many are Russians.

The "parties" that put Trump in POTUS were the same "parties" that had HRC as Democratic candidate and preferred Trump over HRC as more "useful".

Trump will be POTUS until he is no longer "useful".

I am much on the same side as SLAD and also AD but they unfortunately are supporting in "RussiaGate" what will end up the cover and plausible deniability to keep TRump in office and not his downfall.

I hope I am wrong.


thank you.....I can't catch a break here lately..not only am I trashed for my obsession with trump/Russian Mafia now I am also a promoter torturing cats :P


SLaD the cat torturer ....surely that will make me stop posting here :roll:

for all the nasty things I have been called that one hurts the worst :P


I believe trump is being investigated for financial crimes (it's the easiest Mueller has all trumps tax returns) and those crimes are probably what are going to be used to make him step down...the FBI and CIA do not want what they know about the Russian mafia to see the light of day

money laundering for the mob, tax fraud

Mueller now investigating whether Trump’s FBI smear campaign constituted obstruction

but there is also

why would Mueller add a cybercrime prosecutor to his team in November. Loneliness?


We have really only seen what 9 of Mueller's prosecutors are doing.

That leaves 8 more, whose investigative actions we know nothing about.

Dear JD Gordon [and Jared]: Mueller Has 17 Prosecutors; White House Obstruction Accounts for Just One

empty wheel
January 27, 2018
The WaPo has a piece reporting (with details about John Kelly’s “collusion” with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is supposed to be recused) what I noted here: Trump wants the Devin Nunes memo to come out, even in spite of the warnings about how releasing it will damage national security.

It rather absurdly claims that Mueller is “narrowing” his probe.

As Mueller narrows his probe — homing in on the ways Trump may have tried to impede the Russia investigation — a common thread ties many of the incidents together: a president accustomed to functioning as the executive of a private family business who does not seem to understand that his subordinates have sworn an oath to the Constitution rather than to him.


More amusing is this anonymous quote from JD Gordon.

A person who has spoken with Mueller’s team said investigators’ questions seemed at least partially designed to probe potential obstruction from Trump.

“The questions are about who was where in every meeting, what happened before and after, what the president was saying as he made decisions,” this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to recount a private session.

This person added that while it seemed unlikely Mueller’s team would yield any evidence of a coordinated effort to aid the Russians — “If you were on the campaign, you know we couldn’t even collude with ourselves,” he said — the investigators might find more details to support obstruction of justice. [my emphasis]


We know it was JD Gordon because he said precisely the same thing in an op-ed just after the George Papadopoulos plea made it clear Gordon and his buddies might be in a heap of trouble.

Trump camp too disorganized to collude

Criminalization of policy differences has descended upon America once again. The viciousness towards a sitting president and his team evokes memories of Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment. In the “witch hunt” Clinton was impeached for something unrelated to the Arkansas real estate deal which sparked the Whitewater investigation years earlier. Like a Soviet secret police chief once said: “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” Indeed.

We’re seeing the same thing today. The Trump-Russia collusion story is a hoax and “witch hunt” of this century.

Like typical conspiracy theories, usually the simplest explanation is correct. The campaign was chaotic, understaffed and underpaid, if paid at all. We couldn’t collude amongst ourselves. [my emphasis]


Since JD Gordon is — by his own account — incompetent, I’m going to repeat the substance of this post I did even as he first rolled out this line, just to help him out.

Update: I’ve been informed that Jared Kushner has also used this “we couldn’t collude because we’re too incompetent” line, so perhaps he’s the one who believes he’s not at risk for engaging in a quid pro quo with Russians and others.

Robert Mueller has 17 prosecutors. We’ve only seen what 10 of them are doing. And just one of them — Watergate prosecutor James Quarles — is known to be working on the White House obstruction case.

Here’s a census of Mueller’s prosecutors who’ve thus far shown what they’re working on:

Manafort docket:

Andrew Weismann (1)
Greg Andres (2)
Kyle Freeny (3)
Adam Jed (4), an appellate specialist, has appeared with these lawyers in grand jury appearances.

Papadopoulos docket:

Jeannie Rhee (5)
Andrew Goldstein (6)
Aaron Zelinsky (7)
Flynn docket:

Brandon L. Van Grack (8)
Zainab Ahmad (9)
Obstruction docket:

James Quarles (10)
Even in these dockets, it’s clear Mueller is nowhere near done.

Flynn may have a status hearing scheduled for Thursday (though it’s not formally noted in the docket). I suspect, instead, we’ll get a joint status report like was submitted in Papadopoulos’ case on January 17, which basically said, “we’re very busy cooperating, don’t bug us until April 23.”

And CNN just reported that Mueller’s team has drafted superseding indictments against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and Gates appears to be prepping to flip.

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has quietly added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, signaling that Gates’ approach to his not-guilty plea could be changing behind the scenes.

Green, a well-known Washington defense lawyer, was seen at special counsel Robert Mueller’s office twice last week. CNN is told by a source familiar with the matter that Green has joined Gates’ team.

Green isn’t listed in the court record as a lawyer in the case and works for a large law firm separate from Gates’ primary lawyers.

Green’s involvement suggests that there is an ongoing negotiation between the defendant’s team and the prosecutors.

[snip]

Superseding indictments, which would add or replace charges against both Gates and Manafort, have been prepared, according to a source close to the investigation. No additional charges have been filed so far. When there is a delay in filing charges after they’ve been prepared, it can indicate that negotiations of some nature are ongoing.


So even where we have some visibility, that visibility suggests there is plenty of work trying to see if there was any conspiracy tied to the election.

That leaves the following prosecutors, listed with their specialities:

Aaron Zebley (11): probably working on coordination
Michael Dreeben (12): appellate wizard
Elizabeth Prelogar (13): appellate specialist and Russian speaker
Scott Meisler (14): appellate specialist
Rush Atkinson (15): fraud prosecutor
Ryan Dickey (16): Cybersecurity (just added in November)
Mystery prosecutor (17)
I mean, Mueller hasn’t even revealed all his prosecutors yet, much less what they’re all working on.

But JD Gordon would have you believe the prosecutors’ attention to what meetings he and his buddies were in means Mueller is only investigating obstruction.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/01/27/d ... -just-one/



Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, one of the foremost experts on the U.S. Constitution, was asked on Twitter if Mueller could seize Trump’s illegally obtained financial assets while he’s still in office. Tribe offered this answer: “I’ve not yet explored this, but I’d welcome those who are expert in RICO and other avenues for prosecuting corrupt organizations and freezing their assets to RT and explain. Even if a sitting POTUS were held unindictable, an open Q, his nest of companies could be a sitting duck.”


As Director, Robert Mueller began the practice of sending every new agent class at the FBI to the Holocaust Museum to understand what happens when police become complicit in authoritarian regimes.

and last but not least ...put this in let's have some fun with trump category

trump State of the Union risks being upstaged by Stormy Daniels interview on Jimmy Kimmel

Image


@ Rory and Jack

Jeremy Scahill retweeted the "Intelligence hackers from Dutch AIVD (General Intelligence and Security Service) had penetrated the Cozy Bear computer servers" story

Alternet
Dutch Spies Caught Russian Hacker Breaching Obama’s White House and Dem Party
https://www.alternet.org/investigations ... hite-house



Jeremy Scahill ...Alternet or little Suzie...who can say?

apparently Scahill and Alternet are now put on the FAKE NEWS WATCH LIST!! (why does that fake news sound so familiar...who else beats that phrase into the ground?)

Beware you have now been warned Suzie is now the go to girl according to Jack and Rory

One question Is Scahill the new Judith Miller, Jack?



seemslikeadream » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:27 am wrote:January 26, 2018. Dutch journalist Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal broke the news that Dutch intel spied on Russian “Cozy Bear” hackers and warned the U.S. government.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSFMiw0MUJM

Greg Palast

It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the #Trump Admin Is Doing to America — journalist / author @DavidCayJ (@DCReportMedia) in conversation with Greg Palast.

A Facebook LIVE Event — Wed, Jan 31 @ 7PM
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Seth Abramson


September 8, 2016: Sessions has a secret meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which the two men discuss the dropping of U.S. sanctions on Russia.

September 9, 2016: Russian bots begin a 60-day campaign of retweeting Donald Trump 500,000 times.

2/ According to Twitter, nearly 5% of *all* retweets of Donald Trump in the two months before the 2016 presidential election were by Russian bots.

3/ As a further point of reference, Don Jr. began his communication with WikiLeaks—as far as we know—on September 21, under two weeks after Russia's campaign to support Trump on Twitter via bots began. It was at this same time that Trump began using WikiLeaks in his stump speech.

4/ Trump received his first security briefing as a candidate—which confirmed for him that Russia was waging cyber-war against the United States on a massive scale—on August 17, 2016.

That was the *latest* date at which he—and family and aides—learned Russia was a hostile actor.

5/ George Papdopoulos gave an interview to Russian media implying Trump wanted to drop sanctions on September 30—three weeks after Sessions met with Kislyak and Russia began its Twitter campaign supporting Trump, and about a week after Don Jr. began corresponding with WikiLeaks.

6/ Papadopoulos' girlfriend says that her understanding from Papadopoulos is that—presumably with the exception of an early-campaign gaffe involving UK media—every action Papadopoulos took abroad with respect to meetings and interviews was with the blessing of the Trump campaign.

7/ If Donald Trump beginning to use the word "WikiLeaks" in nearly every campaign speech truly had nothing to do with the fact that his son—one of his chief political advisors—had just begun a communication with them, it's one of the great coincidences in U.S. political history.

8/ And if Donald Trump Jr. was willing to tell his dad about communicating with WikiLeaks at the time it was happening but *not* willing to tell his dad about communicating with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at the time *that* happened, it's another historic coincidence.

9/ It'd be especially rich if Trump felt so warmly about Russia that on July 27, 2016 he could publicly invite them to commit crimes against American citizens, even as his own son was—for reasons passing human understanding—unwilling to tell his dad that he'd met with a Russian.

10/ The good news is the world makes sense, none of this was coincidental, Trump was coordinating with the Russians and the ice-cream headache we've all been getting trying to imagine *some way* that he *couldn't* have been coordinating with the Russians is totally needless. /end



Scott Stedman‏

Following news about the Dutch alerting US agencies to the Russian hack, I'm reminded of the fact that European intel had info on Trump associates meeting with Russians close to the Kremlin in the Netherlands. To my knowledge, details of these meetings are still entirely unclear.
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I asked the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs if anyone in their office met with any of the Trump advisers during the election season and the answer was no. Whoever it was that traveled to the Netherlands wanted to be acting in an unofficial capacity.

Following the election, GOP donor/Ukrainian foreign agent/informal Rohrabacher adviser Yuri Vanetik traveled to the Netherlands at least twice. In April 2017, he, Rohrabacher, Paul Behrends, and 2 unknown men dined in The Hague.
ImageImage
Behrends was ousted from his role as staff director for the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee in July after it was discovered that he had a close working relationship with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin in their Anti-Magnitsky efforts.
The Hill Staffer at the Center of the Russia Intrigue
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... gue-215396
I think it be fruitful to dig into these Netherlands meetings. The two Trump foreign advisers that we know traveled to Europe multiple times are Carter Page (Russia, Hungary) and George Papadopoulos (Greece, UK, Cyprus, Israel).


seemslikeadream » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:07 am wrote:
Devin Nunes was ‘in like Flynn’ with the Trump Campaign from the beginning

The House Intel Chairman was closely allied with General Michael Flynn during his tumultuous tenure at the DIA; In spring 2016, Nunes began providing private intelligence briefings to the campaign, and after Trump secured the nomination, he traveled with and fundraised for the candidate. Limiting his role to that of “Transition Team member” has allowed major conflicts-of-interest to go unchallenged.

Erin L.Jan 30


In the early months of the 2016 presidential campaign, California Congressman Devin Nunes had taken to repeating a singular talking point anytime he was questioned about his endorsement. Consistently, Nunes would state he only planned on “supporting the Republican nominee out of the convention.” Nunes was referred to as a “no-namer” — the category of GOP lawmakers who would not name Trump directly, but who were nonetheless committed to supporting him if and when he won the nomination. As the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes’ apparent objectivity was appropriate. He explained that “as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee he stays neutral because he has to brief the nominees.”

An examination of open source information, however, reveals that Nunes’ involvement with the Trump Campaign was far more extensive than has been purported. In fact, Nunes had an already established, years-long relationship with Trump’s National Security Advisor — Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. He likely played an integral role in providing behind-the-scenes national security guidance to a fledgling campaign otherwise lacking in such expertise. And once Trump emerged as the party’s nominee in July 2016, Nunes’ support of Trump became absolute. In the lead up to election day, Nunes fundraised for Trump, defended him in the media, downplayed Russian interference, and secured himself an influential position on the Transition Team.

Presently, Nunes serves as the lead House Republican responsible for investigating the Trump campaign’s conspiracy with Russian actors to influence the election. Yet universally, U.S. media perpetuates a revisionist version of history, limiting Nunes’ role to merely that of a post-election “Transition Team member”. This misrepresentation has allowed Nunes to skate free on clear ethics violations and continue to serve in a role for which his conflicts-of-interest are considerable.

Allies in arms

In 2011, California Congressman Devin Nunes was selected for a much-coveted seat on the powerful House Intelligence Committee. At 40 years old, Nunes brought little more with him than a few years of farming experience and a decade serving his rural constituency in congress. He had earned a reputation, however, as an effective fundraiser for his GOP colleagues and a reliable party vote for then Speaker of the House John Boehner. As a reward for these efforts, Nunes became one of twenty-one House members responsible for overseeing a swath of seventeen agencies that comprise the U.S. intelligence community.

It was in this capacity as a committee member that Nunes first met and came to develop an alliance with Lt. Gen Michael Flynn — appointed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in July 2012. Nunes himself said after the 2016 election he had:

“‘Known Flynn for a long time and had been briefed by him dozens of time,’ describing him further as ‘one of the best and most knowledgeable generals’ he had seen during his career in Congress.”

General Flynn’s tumultuous two-year tenure at DIA has by now been well-documented. It was a period defined by Flynn’s chaotic management style and his persistent conflict with other U. S. intelligence agencies. Having served previously as a top intelligence adviser in Iraq and Afghanistan, Flynn brought with him to DIA entrenched beliefs about the ongoing serious threat posed by Islamist terror groups in the Middle East. Once inside the administration, it became quickly evident to Flynn that President Obama did not share in this assessment. In Flynn’s view, Obama was looking for the intelligence community to comport their findings to align with his administration’s narrative of a post-bin Laden era of rapidly declining terror threats. In Flynn’s words, it was Obama’s “big lie”.

From contemporaneous reporting of this same 2012–2014 period, Nunes was clearly allied with Flynn on these grounds. As a member of the intelligence committee, Nunes was separately investigating the administration for the September 2012 Benghazi attack that left four American officials dead. The attack had come on the heels of a then-confidential draft National Intelligence Estimate produced by the Obama Administration that concluded al Qaeda was no longer a direct threat to America.

Flynn fought hard against this assessment, setting the stage for what would become a sustained confrontation between the administration, certain senior intelligence officials, and GOP members of the congressional committee appointed to oversee them.


Part of the acrimony was related to the administration’s handling of documents seized during the 2011 raid of Osama bin Laden’s lair. Believing they possessed critical intelligence of the sustained threat posed by Al Qaeda, Flynn lobbied alongside Nunes and others for the documents to be declassified. Nunes later revealed that “informants came to me in late 2012 stating that they had information related to the bin Laden raid and the analysis of intelligence.” According to Nunes and others, the documents where both alarming and in direct contradiction to Obama administration claims of al Qaeda’s waning influence. Flynn was allegedly told directly to stop producing reports based on these documents.

More serious allegations were also levied by Flynn, Nunes, and others. Senior intelligence officials had begun to accuse U.S. Central Command of manipulating ISIS intelligence to “portray the campaign as more successful than it really was.” Flynn was later quoted as saying that intelligence reports were “disregarded” by Obama if they “did not meet a particular narrative that the White House needed” for Obama’s re-election.

In May 2013, Nunes traveled to CENTCOM Headquarters in Tampa for a briefing by analysts involved in the push back against these allegedly manipulated reports. The topics were slated to include “Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda, bin Laden’s involvement in the day-to-day operations of al Qaeda, and his operations guidance to offshoots, such as Boko Haram.” Once in Tampa, Nunes was denied access to the analysts and their findings, creating further schisms between the parties.


Michael Flynn testifies before the House Intelligence Committee, February 4, 2014.
Flynn’s ultimate undoing came in 2014, after a February presentation of the DIA’s “annual threat assessment” to congress. The report predicted the Islamic State would probably “attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” The forecast, while ultimately proved to be true, clashed with Obama’s description a month earlier of ISIS as “a jayvee team.” In March, Flynn then gave an interview to NPR, further deriding the administration for its failure to heed DIA’s warnings over Russia’s preparations to invade Ukraine. By April, Flynn had been asked to step down as director of the agency.

But based on repeated allegations of intelligence manipulation by some senior officials, the Pentagon’s Inspector General did open an investigation in the summer of 2014. Nunes continued to press the government to declassify bin Laden documents, going so far as to require the document release in committee bills to authorize spending for the agencies. And later in 2015, a House Republican task force report — written by members of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees — concluded that intelligence on the ISIS threat was systematically altered by senior U.S. Central Command officials to put it in a more positive light.

A campaign trail reunion

By June 2015, the ex-DIA director was routinely appearing on television voicing increasingly vitriolic criticisms of the Obama administration — a characteristic that undoubtedly endeared him to then-candidate Trump. By late 2015 Flynn had officially joined the Trump campaign as the novice politician’s national security advisor. Given the storied history between Nunes and Flynn, it’s not surprising the two men would eventually reunite during the 2016 election season and rally in support of the same “tough on terrorism” Republican candidate.

Nunes, by now Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was projecting a public appearance of neutrality in the Republican primaries. Yet according to post-election reports from Politico and McClatchy, by spring 2016 Nunes had already begun meeting with members of the Trump team and providing them private national security briefings. As Politico described it:

“Early this year, (Nunes) made a standing offer to brief any of the Republican presidential hopefuls on national security issues. Trump’s campaign took him up on it in March. From those meetings, Nunes grew close with retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.”

Donald Trump in Fresno, California — May 27, 2016.
In late May 2016, Trump scheduled a campaign rally in Fresno, a central California city next to Nunes’ home district. The appearance was a rarity for Republican presidential candidates, who stand essentially no chance of winning the solidly blue state. According to CNN, a leading player behind the scenes of the event was Nunes’ former Chief of Staff Johnny Amaral, who “(managed) lobbyists for Westlands Water District, a massive water district in the Central Valley.” While it is unconfirmed whether Nunes attended Trump’s pre-rally town meetings or the event itself, he claimed later in June that he was “looking forward to meeting Donald Trump (at the convention) to discuss California water, tax reform and intelligence issues.”

After the Republican National Convention, Nunes’ outward support for Trump became more apparent. According to his hometown paper Fresno Bee, in August 2016 Nunes arranged a fundraiser for Trump in his local district of Tulare. The Bee reported that the cost to attend the event was $2,700, with a $25,000 opportunity for a VIP meeting. Nunes “expected Trump to raise at least $1.25 million and possibly as much as $1.5 million.” He also planned to travel to the Bay Area to brief Trump on water and prepare him for the event. “‘He’s already been here once, so I think he has a decent handle on it,’ said Nunes, who will also brief Trump on intelligence issues,” the paper reported.


In a follow-up report, Fresno Bee provided further details on Nunes’ Bay area trip to brief Trump. According to that report, “Nunes ended up getting prime time with the Republican nominee, though he did not plan on it….Trump invited him to come along on his jet flight to Los Angeles, where he spent Monday night.” McClatchy went further, reporting “in August, the two men spent more time together in Trump’s plane and at fundraising and campaign events in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Tulare County.”

Later in October, after the Access Hollywood tape leaked, a third report from Fresno Bee showed that Nunes’ support remained firm. In a text message to the paper, Nunes said “‘As you know, I stayed out of the primary (election campaign) and as a party leader agreed to support and help whoever won…That remains my commitment, to help make our candidate the best that he can be on (intelligence) and military issues.’”

Evolving views on Russian interference

Nunes’ outward support for candidate Trump was not the only thing to evolve during the 2016 campaign. So too did his views on Russia and his confidence in the intelligence communities assessment of Russian interference. In a CNN interview in April 2016, Nunes told Jake Tapper that the U.S. government has badly “misjudged” the intentions of Putin “for many, many years,” declaring “the biggest intelligence failure that we have had since 9/11 has been the inability to predict the leadership plans and intentions of the Putin regime in Russia.” On the invasion of Ukraine, Nunes added “We missed that..and then we completely missed entirely when they put a new base, a new base with aircraft into the Mediterranean, into Syria. We just missed it. We were blind.”


By July, as the extent of Russian hacking was becoming better known, Nunes conceded there was “a high confidence” Russia hacked into the DNC computers. Still, his stance on the threat posed by Russia had noticeably softened. He insisted many other foreign countries were doing the same thing and that the release of material during a U.S. election was “nothing new”. Nunes further denied there was evidence that Russian hackers gave the information to WikiLeaks, even as he acknowledged they had operated as a conduit for Russia in the past. And in regard to Trump’s call on Russia to find the “missing 33,000 emails”, Nunes brushed off concerns, say Trump “was simply making light of Hillary Clinton setting up her own homebrew email server that trafficked in classified information.”

After Trump won the election in November 2016, Nunes denials of Russian interference only grew, putting him at direct odds once again with the intelligence community he was sworn to oversee.

Transition period influence

The overwhelming majority of media reports since the election have focused on Nunes’ role as a Trump Transition Team member, effectively erasing his involvement in the very campaign he is investigating. Clearly, however, Nunes role and relationships with key subjects of the investigation are substantial.


It is likely for this reason that Nunes wielded such significant influence as a Transition Team member. According to various reports, it was Nunes’ recommendations that formed the basis for Trump’s selections of both General James Mattis (who he knew from his days investigating U.S. Central Command) as Defense Secretary and fellow Intel committee member Mike Pompeo for CIA Director. Like Nunes, Pompeo had a history of criticism towards the intelligence community and had also been dismissive of Russian election interference, claiming that 2016 was no different than any other election year.

Nunes freely admitted that as a Transition Team member, he was responsible for fielding calls from foreign leaders and ambassadors who were trying to reach Flynn. He strenuously defended Trump in the media when it was leaked that the President-elect was skipping intelligence briefings. And, he now-infamously attended a pre-inauguration breakfast with Turkish officials as a guest of Flynn’s. The public later learned the General was being paid to represent the interests of these government officials.

Because he has never been questioned as a witness, it is unknown what, if any, knowledge Nunes had of Flynn’s arrangement with the Turkish government or the campaign’s contacts with Russia during the election.

Duty and obligation

With this context, the bizarre actions by Nunes over the past year come sharply into focus. When Flynn was fired from his White House position after conversations with the Russian Ambassador leaked in February 2017, it was Nunes that the White House tapped to defend the General in the media — which he dutifully did. And when Trump levied unsubstantiated claims of wiretapping by the Obama administration, it was Nunes that conspired with Flynn’s National Security Council appointees to create the diversionary “unmasking scandal.”

Now, almost a year into the House Intelligence investigation, Nunes is set to release an “intelligence memo” with its target set directly on the FBI, DOJ, and intelligence community. It’s long past time to set the record straight about Nunes and the central role he played in the very campaign he is charged with investigating.
https://medium.com/@Erinlank/devin-nune ... dd209b3f4a



DISPATCH, EXPLAINER JANUARY 25, 2018
THE NUNES FILE

As Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is abusing the power of his office. He has run a year-long campaign to hide the truth about Russian interference in the 2016 election and attack the credibility of U.S. law enforcement by spreading lies and misleading information.

At every turn, Nunes—a member of the Trump transition team—has conspired with the Trump White House to undermine the FBI investigation and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He has made his wildest allegations at moments when it could most distract from damaging revelations about the President and his team. In every instance, Nunes’ charges have proven to be baseless fabrications that crumble under the slightest scrutiny. His efforts are nothing more than deceptive political stunts, often carefully orchestrated with or at the direction of the White House.

The recent “memo” Nunes has prepared and hyped up is another such stunt, a distortion of classified material provided by the FBI twisted to advance a political point. Moreover, its use in this manner violates the terms of an agreement Speaker Ryan and Chairman Nunes had with the Justice Department about how this highly sensitive information would be handled. Nunes has refused to share the memo with anyone outside the House Intelligence Committee who has access to the classified information upon which these claims are based. That includes the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as with Trump’s own appointees in the FBI and Justice Department. In doing so, Nunes has hidden the “memo” from anyone who could provide an independent assessment of its veracity. However, right-wing media figures have been fed the memo’s wild claims, and they have been relentlessly hyping its contents for more than a week.

This political stunt has real costs. By deploying his deceptive spin, Nunes may have jeopardized the original—and sensitive—classified information. A recent letter from the Justice Department, authored by a Trump political appointee, called Nunes’ effort to publicly release classified and sensitive law enforcement information “excessively reckless.” Nunes has been aided and amplified by Russian intelligence operatives online, as well as by Wikileaks, which Trump’s own CIA Director has described as a “hostile intelligence service helped by Russia.” It is this very Russian influence operation that the House Intelligence Committee is supposed to be investigating.

The Chairman of the Intelligence Committee has been derelict in his duty. His position is one of the most powerful in the entire legislature, placing Nunes among the eight members of Congress with access to America’s most closely held secrets. As Chairman, Nunes also oversees a professional intelligence committee staff, who he commandeered as pawns in his attack on U.S. intelligence and law enforcement. Not only has he inappropriately engaged them in a partisan effort, he may very well be hindering their efforts to determine the full extent of Russia’s interference in our election.

An examination of Devin Nunes’ actions over the past year shows a clear pattern of abuse of power, which has undermined U.S. national security and left the United States dangerously vulnerable to ongoing attacks on our democracy.

Nunes is a White House Surrogate

Nunes was an official member of the Trump Transition Team. During that time, he publicly expressed doubt about the conclusion of the Intelligence Community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, saying in December 2016, “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence—even now.” In January 2017, Nunes publicly said that Congress should not investigate any possible contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, claiming, “House committees don’t go operational like that, that I know of.” In January, Nunes did call for one investigation, however, into leaks of material related to Trump to the media, including the Steele dossier.

In February, Nunes, acting at the explicit request of the White House, spoke to reporters in an effort to refute stories in the media alleging that the FBI was investigating contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russians: “They’ve looked,” he said, “and it’s all a dead trail that leads me to believe no contact, not even pizza-delivery-guy contract.” We now know that the FBI was in fact investigating this and that, far from being infrequent and inconsequential, Russians interacted with Trump campaign officials, including his campaign chairman and other high-ranking officials, at least 31 times. Of course, as Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, this is information that Nunes already knew then.

Later in February, Nunes called the investigation “almost like McCarthyism revisited” and a “witch hunt.” He went on to say, “[o]nce we begin to look at all the evidence, and if we find any American that had any contact with Russian agents or anybody affiliated with the Russia government, then we’ll be glad to, at that point, you know, subpoena those people before the House and let the legislative branch do its oversight and then we would recommend it over to, you know, the appropriate people.” As evidence has come to light of just those kinds of contacts, Nunes has done nothing of the kind.

Nunes’ bogus “unmasking” accusations

The details of Nunes’ most notorious claim should consign him to the sidelines in any meaningful national political debate. Nunes’ story was that he received information from “a whistleblower” revealing that senior officials in the Obama administration had unlawfully unmasked the identities of Trump campaign officials caught on foreign intelligence intercepts. Nunes claimed this information was so serious that he first briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan and then went to the White House to reveal the information to the Trump team. Trump used the Nunes revelations to claim that he was vindicated for his infamous accusation that Obama had wiretapped him during the campaign.

In reality, this was a scheme developed by the White House and Nunes to distract from FBI Director James Comey’s announcement two days earlier that the FBI was investigating possible Trump-Russia collusion. Nunes’ “whistleblower” actually turned out to be senior Trump White House officials Ezra Cohen-Watnick, John Eisenberg, and Michael Ellis. Nunes secretly went to the White House to obtain this “information” the day before, and then staged a return the next day to pretend to tell the Trump administration what it already knew. And even that information itself was completely untrue; Trump’s own National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, found that the accusations against Obama officials had no merit. The blowback from this fiasco, including concerns that Nunes had improperly handled classified information as part of his political stunt, forced Nunes to nominally recuse himself from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, although he apparently did not even abide by the terms of his recusal.

Nunes’ tries to resurrect debunked Uranium One allegations

In late October 2017, Nunes tried to resurrect allegations pertaining to the sale of Uranium One, another bogus scandal that was used to try to smear former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Nunes and other House Republicans made wild accusations about Clinton approving the sale of U.S. uranium stocks to Russia in exchange for more than $100 million in contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Nunes announced that the House Intelligence Committee was partnering with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate.

But this too was another completely bogus partisan effort that was quickly and easily debunked. First, the sale was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, or CFIUS, a panel comprising nine Cabinet Secretaries and chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury. The Secretary of State is only one of the nine, and cannot make a final determination on his or her own. It is correct that a Russian company did own the company that operates a U.S. uranium mine, but it does not have an export license for the uranium, meaning it all remains in the United States. The extent of the uranium production was also wildly overstated, as the mine in question produced just 2.3% of uranium in the United States in 2016. Even the $100 million contribution figure to the Clinton Foundation is grossly inaccurate, with the overwhelming majority of that coming from a donor to the Foundation who had sold any financial interest in the company at issue two years prior to the sale.

Given the nonsensical nature of the claims, it was clear Republicans did not intend to find any actual evidence. Rather, Nunes—joined by other Republicans in Congress—was responding to Trump’s repeated demands for renewed investigations of Hillary Clinton and trying to distract from the first indictments in the Mueller investigation. Trump’s outside confidant Roger Stone said the motivation behind this push was to get a new Special Counsel who “would immediately have to inform Mueller, Comey, and [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein that they are under federal investigation. Trump can’t afford to fire Mueller politically. But this pushes him aside.” (Mueller was the head of the FBI at the time of the sale.)

Nunes subpoenaed Fusion GPS

Nunes has used his subpoena power, but not to probe deeper into possible ties between Trump campaign officials and Russians. Rather, he signed subpoenas for the firm that investigated those contacts and was responsible for producing the Steele dossier. In October 2017, Nunes reportedly signed subpoenas for testimony and documents from Fusion GPS despite the fact that he was nominally recused from the investigation at that point and that there was “good faith engagement thus far by the witnesses on the potential terms for voluntary cooperation.”

The Nunes “Memo”

The four pages of talking points that Nunes has prepared must be viewed through the lens of his long campaign of dishonesty to defend Trump and undermine the Mueller investigation. In this case, it appears Nunes used the professional staff of the House Intelligence committee to develop an opposition memo to undermine the FBI. The furor comes as news broke that Mueller interviewed the Attorney General and is actively seeking an interview with Trump himself.

Nunes appears to have subpoenaed sensitive classified and law enforcement information with the express intent of mining this information to attack the Department of Justice and the FBI. In January, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray met with Speaker Ryan to ask him to get Nunes to relent. Ryan declined and, according to a letter released on January 24th from the Department of Justice to Nunes, the department agreed to turn this information over to Speaker Paul Ryan and his committee if it was protected. Instead, Nunes distorted the information to draft a “memo” that was made available to the entire House of Representatives, violating the agreement with the Justice Department.

Similar to Nunes’ earlier White House unmasking incident, he is again staging a laughably bizarre event to generate press attention—in this case, demanding that House Republicans release a document that he and fellow House Republicans themselves drafted and have already shared with House Republicans.

Conservatives have launched a media campaign to hype the memo, including breathless allusions to unlawful actions by the FBI in investigating Trump. The crazed conspiracy theories have reached a fever pitch, with members of Congress alleging without any evidence that there is a “secret society” in the FBI that is out to bring down the president. Congressional Republicans have briefed their allies in conservative media who have dutifully gone on the attack, demanding the investigation and jailing of top FBI officials, and even saying “it may be time to declare war on the deep state and clear out the rot at the upper levels of the FBI and the Justice Department.”

The actions and motives of Devin Nunes and House Republicans pushing this memo could not be more clear: they are pursuing a scorched earth strategy to protect Trump from being held responsible for his actions and they will bring down the entire FBI and Department of Justice if that is what it takes.

NUNES TIMELINE: A YEAR OF ABUSE OF POWER TO OBSTRUCT US LAW ENFORCEMENT

TRANSITION TEAM

Nov 2016-January 2017 – Nunes serves as a member of the Trump Transition Team.

December 2016 – Nunes questions the CIA’s assessment that Russia interfered. After the CIA reaches its initial assessment in December 2016 that Russia had interfered in the election, Nunes casts doubt on the veracity of the CIA’s conclusion, commenting, “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence—even now.”

January 6, 2017 – The Intelligence Community releases its report concluding unanimously that Russia interfered on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 election.

January 13, 2017 – Nunes resists opening an investigation. He tells Politico in January that he does not believe Congress should be investigating contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign, saying, “House committees don’t go operational like that, that I know of.”

January 13, 2017 – Nunes calls for an intelligence probe of “leaks” from the intelligence community about Trump’s ties to Russia.

January 18 – Nunes attends a breakfast roundtable with Michael Flynn and the Turkish Foreign Minister. Flynn at that time is an unregistered Foreign Agent of Turkey.

NUNES LEADS INVESTIGATION – FOCUSES ON “LEAKS”

January 25, 2017 – House Intelligence Committee announces its investigation. Despite Nunes’ link to the Trump administration, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan allows Nunes, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to lead the House’s effort to investigate Russian interference.

February 24, 2017 – Nunes operates as a White House surrogate and speaks to reporters at the direction of the White House to counter stories on Trump’s Russia ties. In mid-February, Nunes becomes one of several members of Congress enlisted by the White House to help publicly counter news stories about alleged contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials. Unlike the others contacted by the White House, Nunes goes on the record with The Wall Street Journal. Nunes’ spokesman says that, “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter.”

February 25 – Nunes compares the Trump-Russia investigation to McCarthyism and a witch hunt. Nunes calls the Trump-Russia investigation a “witch hunt” and likened it to “McCarthyism revisited.”

TRUMP SURVEILLENCE CLAIM

March 4 – Trump claims Obama had his “wires tapped.”

Trump tweets alleging surveillance by the Obama administration. Trump first claims that the Obama administration surveilled his campaign on March 4, 2017. That morning, Trump tweets that President Barack Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
White House later admits no evidence for charge. The White House ultimately acknowledges that it has no evidence that Obama had ordered Trump’s wires tapped, but claims that, because Trump had initially made the allegation in quotes, he was referring not to actual wiretapping but to general surveillance.
March 15 – Trump defends his wiretapping claim, and says more information will come “over the next two weeks.” Trump tells Tucker Carlson, “When I say wiretapping … that really covers surveillance and many other things … I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

March 19 – Nunes goes on Fox News Sunday, raises concerns about “unmasking,” and seems to indicate a White House individual is under surveillance. When asked by Chris Wallace if he thinks “there was any surveillance of people in Trump world,” Nunes responds, “Well, if you look at the folks that are working in the White House today that are involved in the—in the Trump—in the Trump administration, I don’t think there’s any but one there that’s under any type of—of—of investigation or surveillance activities at all.” Boris Epsteyn abruptly announces he will be leaving the White House on March 25.

COMEY TESTIFIES AT NUNES HEARING

March 20 – Nunes chairs the first public hearing on Russia where FBI Director Comey announces there is an FBI investigation into collusion. Republican members of the committee focus almost exclusively on “leaks.”

UNMASKING

March 21 — Nunes receives a phone call, abruptly gets out of his Uber, and goes to the White House.

That night, Nunes reportedly receives a communication on his phone and promptly gets out of the Uber he is riding in with a staffer.
It is later revealed that Nunes went to the White House to review intelligence reports alleging that Trump and his associates had been “incidentally swept up” in legal foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.
Nunes’ sources have since been revealed to include two White House lawyers, John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, at the time a staffer on the National Security Council.
March 22, morning – Nunes meets with Paul Ryan.

Nunes informs Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of the intelligence reports alleging that Trump and his associates had been intercepted in foreign surveillance.
March 22, afternoon – Nunes holds press conference on the Hill at 3 p.m. and says he was contacted by a “whistle-blower.” He says he is going to the White House to “brief” them on the information he received from them the night before.

Nunes alleges that he has seen information indicating that Obama administration national security officials, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice and CIA Director John Brennan, had “unmasked,” or received the identities of, Trump associates whose communications had been intercepted.
March 22, afternoon – Nunes goes to White House. He then holds another press conference.

March 23, 7:00am – Nunes holds another press conference where he claims White House didn’t know about the information he had been given by the White House.

Nunes says, “The president didn’t invite me over, I called down there and invited myself because I thought he needed to understand what I say and he needed to get that information.” This statement is later proven false, as Nunes had in fact received the intelligence from the White House in the first place.
March 28 – Nunes cancels additional hearings. Nunes cancels a hearing during which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had planned to testify, leading top congressional Democrats to claim that the investigation had stalled. Under Nunes’ leadership, regular meetings are canceled as well.

April 6 – Nunes, under ethics investigation, is forced to recuse himself. Facing an ethics investigation into his handling of sensitive material, Nunes announces on April 6 that he will be recusing himself from his committee’s investigation into Russia.

NUNES RECUSED, YET STILL INVOLVED

Even during the period of his recusal, Nunes continued to run interference for the White House. He did so by attempting to refocus the controversy around Rice’s decision to unmask Trump associates’ identities in intercepts.

June 26– Nunes tells CNN will still be engaged, despite recusal. Nunes says: “When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in.”

July 27 – Nunes continues to make “unmasking” allegations against Obama officials. According to CNN, “Nunes [leads] an effort to subpoena the FBI, CIA and NSA about Trump associates whose identities were allegedly unmasked during the presidential transition by Obama administration officials.” Nunes writes a letter to the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in which he claims that “current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.”

August 3 – NSA McMaster dismisses claims of wrong-doing. Bloomberg reports that Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has concluded that Rice had violated neither the law nor intelligence community protocol.

Summer – Nunes sends House Intelligence Committee professional staffers on a secret trip to London to “track down” Steele. According to Politico, the staffers showed up unannounced at Steele’s lawyer’s office. The trip “inflamed simmering tensions between House and Senate investigators.” Nunes also does not tell his Democratic colleagues or special counsel Robert Mueller’s office about this trip.

Summer/Fall – Nunes meets with a future witness in the investigation. Nunes meets with Erik Prince, who is later called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee during its Russia probe. This meeting includes a discussion of “Nunes’ investigation into the unmasking of Americans’ identities in U.S. intelligence reports.” Prince was reportedly involved in efforts to set up secret backchannel communications between the Kremlin and President-elect Trump.

Late August – Nunes subpoenas the FBI and Department of Justice to provide records on its relationship with Steele and the Trump Dossier. According to CNN, “Nunes signed off on subpoenas to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide the panel with records about the Justice Department’s relationship with Steele and the Trump dossier, warning in a letter that he would haul them to Capitol Hill to answer questions at a public hearing if they did not comply.”

October – Nunes, despite his recusal, subpoenas Fusion GPS. These subpoenas are reportedly issued “without the minority’s agreement.” Nunes’ involvement in these subpoenas indicates that he is still involved in an investigation from which he has recused himself, thus potentially undermining the investigation itself.

October-December – Nunes subpoenas Fusion GPS’ bank (thus far the only bank subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee). Natasha Bertrand reports that “The House Intelligence Committee has only issued one subpoena to a financial institution in the 11 months since it opened its investigation.” Nunes has ignored calls to subpoena Deutsche Bank, one of the few financial institutions to lend to Trump in recent decades.

October 26 – Nunes leads the effort to create a new bogus scandal involving Uranium One. In another effort to distract from the investigation, Nunes holds a press conference calling for an investigation into former Secretary of State Clinton’s role, as one of nine cabinet members, in the approval of a sale of uranium mine.

Even though these claims have been repeatedly debunked, Nunes still announces a new probe into how the Obama administration handled the deal.
Roger Stone explained the true motive for this, telling Vanity Fair that a prosecutor looking into Uranium One would also have to investigate the FBI’s role in approving the deal, making Mueller a target because he was FBI director at the time.
October 27 – News leaks of potential indictments in Mueller investigation. CNN reports that the first charges have been approved in the Mueller investigation. The charges are sealed, and it is reported that those who have been indicted will be taken into custody the following Monday.

October 30 – Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are indicted; George Papadopoulos’s guilty plea is unsealed. The Mueller investigation indicts Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates on twelve charges, including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent, making false and misleading FARA statements, and failing to report foreign bank accounts; they plead not guilty. Documents are unsealed revealing that George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 03, 2017, to “lying to federal officials about his contacts with Russian nationals.” Papadopoulos has signed a plea agreement indicating his cooperation with Mueller.

#RELEASE THE MEMO

December 7 – Nunes is cleared of ethics violation. The House Ethics Committee clears Nunes of allegations that he improperly handled classified information, allowing him to resume his leadership of the Russia investigation.

December 8 – Nunes says DOJ/FBI investigators are “dirty” and asks “who’s watching the watchman?” In an interview with Fox, he says, “I hate to use the word corrupt, but they’ve become at least so dirty that who’s watching the watchmen? Who’s investigating these people? There is no one.”

December – Nunes leads group of House Republicans seeking “to build a case” that there is “corruption and conspiracy” in the FBI and Justice Department. Politico reports on December 20 that “a subset of the Republican members of the House intelligence committee, led by Chairman Devin Nunes” has “gathered secretly for weeks in the Capitol in an effort to build a case that senior leaders of the Justice Department and FBI improperly—and perhaps criminally—mishandled the contents of a dossier that describes alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia … the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement. The group hopes to release a report early next year … That final product could ultimately be used by Republicans to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.”

December 28 – Nunes writes a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein demanding the DOJ and FBI turn over information by January 3 or face “contempt citations.”

January 3, 2018 – Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and FBI Director Wray meet with Speaker Paul Ryan asking him to turn off Nunes’ subpoenas; Ryan refuses and backs Nunes; DOJ/FBI provides information. According to Fox, “among the information being sought by the committee are reports that summarize meetings between FBI confidential human sources and FBI officials about the Steele dossier.”

January – Republican Staff on HPSCI write a “memo” based on the information Speaker Ryan forced the FBI/DOJ to turn over. Politico reports that, “compiled by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes and fellow Republicans on the panel … the memo, according to three people who have viewed it, raises questions about how the FBI handled a fall 2016 application for a warrant to surveil a Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, and whether agents were forthcoming about the role a controversial dossier alleging Kremlin influence over Trump played in their decision to seek the warrant.”

January – Republicans on House Intelligence Committee divided on whether to release the memo. The main debate in the House has so far centered not around the memo’s secret allegations, but whether the classified document can be publicly released without compromising FBI sources and methods. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who is leading the Russia probe, has said releasing it would be “dangerous.” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) opposes releasing the memo, saying, “you don’t want the enemy to know that.” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) has said the memo would need to be “scrubbed” and made unclassified for him support its release. Other GOP members continued to push for the memo’s release, with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) stating, “I think that this will not end just with firings. I believe there are people who will go to jail” and Rep. Steve King saying “I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate.”

January – Nunes makes the memo available to all House Republicans, violating his agreement with the DOJ to protect the information.
https://themoscowproject.org/explainer/the-nunes-file/


crazy Mr. Trey Benghazi Gowdy (one of the transition team) has decided not to run for re election ....I wonder why...because Mueller has all of your emails too?

what’s really going on here. Trey Gowdy and Devin Nunes were on the Trump transition team. That’s a problem for them, because General Yellowkerk Flynn was updating the transition team about his illegal plotting with the Russian Ambassador in real time. Mueller now has Flynn as a cooperating witness, and he has all of the transition team emails. In other words, he has evidence that Nunes and Gowdy were a part of that criminal conspiracy on some level.


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seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:15 pm wrote:

Former Trump Aide Carter Page Was on U.S. Counterintelligence Radar Before Russia Dossier
Court documents, testimony show foreign-policy adviser was known to authorities as early as 2013


Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, spoke with reporters following a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, Nov. 2, 2017.
Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, spoke with reporters following a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, Nov. 2, 2017. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Rebecca Ballhaus and Byron Tau
Updated Feb. 1, 2018 10:03 a.m. ET

Carter Page, who served as a foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign, was known to U.S. counterintelligence officials for years before he became a prominent figure in a dossier of unverified research about the future president’s ties to Russia.

The White House is expected to release as early as this week a memo detailing what Republicans allege were surveillance abuses during the 2016 campaign. Republicans say the memo, written by the GOP staff on the House Intelligence Committee, shows that prosecutors used information gleaned from an ex-British spy—who was paid by a research firm hired by Democratic opponents of Mr. Trump—in their application for a secret court order to monitor Mr. Page. Mr. Page hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday urged the White House not to release the memo, citing “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” Democrats have also said the document is misleading and cherry-picked.

“It’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counterintelligence investigation during an American political campaign,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), an ally of Mr. Trump who serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and who directed the writing of the memo.

The FBI said the memo contains significant omissions about the surveillance decisions made during the time period in question.

Yet a question persists: What prompted the FBI to suspect that Mr. Page was acting as an agent of Russia?

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and directed the writing of the memo detailing what Republicans allege were surveillance abuses during the 2016 campaign.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and directed the writing of the memo detailing what Republicans allege were surveillance abuses during the 2016 campaign. PHOTO: JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS
The full extent of the evidence regarding Mr. Page that the Justice Department submitted to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—a secret judicial panel that approves surveillance warrants against suspected agents of foreign powers—isn’t clear. The Wall Street Journal has previously reported that the warrant included material beyond research compiled by Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence official. What is known from court documents and testimony by Mr. Page before Congress is that the former Trump aide has been known to U.S. counterintelligence officials dating back to at least 2013, nearly three years before he joined the Trump campaign.

The dispute between the White House and the FBI comes against the backdrop of a federal investigation, now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into whether Trump associates colluded in the Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Moscow has denied election meddling. Mr. Page has called the investigation “baseless.”

Mr. Page’s dealings with Russia date back to more than a decade before Mr. Trump ran for president and his opponents began crafting the dossier.

For three years, starting in 2004, Mr. Page was living in Moscow, where he opened an office for the investment banking firm Merrill Lynch & Co. He also served as an adviser on “key transactions” involving the Russian state-owned energy company PAO Gazprom and RAO UES, the Russian state-controlled electricity monopoly, according to Mr. Page’s biography.


In January 2013, Mr. Page was in New York at an Asia Society event on China and energy development, when he met Victor Podobnyy, a junior attaché at the Russian consulate in New York City who was in the audience, Mr. Page told the House Intelligence Committee last fall.

In March 2013, Mr. Page met with Mr. Podobnyy again over coffee or a Coke, he told the House panel in his testimony. Mr. Page, asked why he had sought out Mr. Podobnyy a second time, said he wanted to practice his Russian.

That June, three years before the 2016 presidential campaign and the creation of the dossier, Mr. Page had his first known brush with a U.S. counterintelligence official. He was interviewed by FBI counterintelligence agent Gregory Monaghan and another FBI agent, who were investigating whether Mr. Podobnyy was a Russian intelligence agent, according to a criminal complaint.

In 2015, Mr. Podobnyy was charged with posing as a U.N. attaché under diplomatic cover while trying to recruit Mr. Page as a Russian intelligence source. The criminal complaint filed by U.S. federal prosecutors alleged Mr. Podobnyy was an agent for the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service. The complaint also detailed Mr. Podobnyy’s discussion in April 2013 with Igor Sporyshev, a second alleged SVR agent posing as a Russian trade representative, about efforts to recruit “a male working as a consultant in New York City.” Mr. Podobnyy was afforded diplomatic immunity and left the country.


In a statement last year, Mr. Page confirmed he was the unnamed consultant and said he helped U.S. federal investigators during the case. The complaint charging Mr. Podobnyy said Mr. Page had provided the Russians with documents, which Mr. Page said were “nothing more than a few samples from the more detailed lectures” he was preparing for a course he was teaching at New York University at the time.

Asked for comment Wednesday, Mr. Page forwarded a 23-page letter from May 2017 addressed to the House Intelligence Committee in which he said the Justice Department under President Barack Obama was best described by the final scene in the movie “The Big Short,” which shows that bankers went effectively unpunished for their role in the financial crisis of 2007.

“After essentially achieving very little in his six-years in office, it is understandable why [then-Attorney General Eric] Holder might want to target a token Russian banker during his final months in office,” Mr. Page wrote.

Mr. Page said at his June 2013 meeting with U.S. counterintelligence agents, he discussed “at length” his research on the international political economy, “because it seemed to me that the resources of the U.S. government might be better allocated towards addressing real national security threats.” He added that the “harsh retribution” he subsequently faced “marked a direct retaliation.”

Six months after prosecutors charged Mr. Podobnyy, Mr. Trump launched his presidential campaign. In January 2016, Mr. Page told the House committee, he had an “initial meeting” with the campaign and began serving as an informal adviser.

In March 2016, in an interview with the Washington Post, Mr. Trump officially named Mr. Page as a member of his foreign policy advisory committee. Also named to the committee: George Papadopoulos, who last year pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russians during the campaign.

A former Trump national security adviser said the campaign wasn’t aware at the time of Mr. Page’s past dealings with U.S. counterintelligence officials.

Over the course of the campaign, Mr. Page traveled to Russia at least twice and kept top Trump campaign advisers abreast of his travels, Mr. Page told the House panel.


When it comes to the Russia investigation, the word ‘collusion’ gets thrown around a lot. But there's not a lot of clarity on what it actually means. Is it illegal? Is it grounds for impeachment? We asked a law professor to explain. Photo Illustration: Drew Evans/The Wall Street Journal.

In July 2016, Mr. Page delivered a lecture in Moscow hosted by the New Economics School to a packed auditorium on his thoughts about global economics trends. In the speech, he criticized the U.S. and European states for their behavior toward states of the former Soviet Union for their “often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”

Mr. Page told attendees that the thoughts in his speech, delivered in English, were strictly his own and didn’t represent the opinions of any current or former employer. He declined to answer questions after the speech about U.S. politics, saying that the purpose of his speech was academic, and refused to meet with reporters, leaving the auditorium through an exit backstage.


Mr. Page told the House that while in Moscow, he “briefly said hello” to Arkady Dvorkovich, deputy prime minister of Russia, and met with Andrey Baranov, head of investor relations at Russian oil giant PAO Rosneft.

Toward the end of his trip, Mr. Page emailed campaign aides Tera Dahl and J.D. Gordon and told them he would send a “readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”

Mr. Gordon said in an interview that he didn’t recall the email.

Related Video

U.S. investigators are looking into contacts between several current and former associates of Donald Trump and Russian individuals—some with direct ties to the Russian government or state-owned entities. WSJ's Niki Blasina provides a who's who of the Russians at the center of the investigations.
That fall, the Justice Department requested a secret court order to monitor Mr. Page’s ties to Russia, using as part of its request information from Mr. Steele, according to people familiar with the matter. It isn’t clear whether the department had previously requested a FISA warrant on Mr. Page, who left the Trump campaign in September amid reports about his ties to Russia.

At the time, Mr. Steele was working for Fusion GPS, a research firm that was being paid by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Before hiring Mr. Steele, the firm’s research had been paid for by a conservative news outlet that opposed Mr. Trump. Mr. Steele ultimately produced a 35-page dossier, which Mr. Trump has dismissed as false.

Mr. Page’s name surfaced repeatedly in the fall of 2016 in classified briefings given to high-level members of Congress, according to people familiar with the matter. That was around the same time the FBI and the Justice Department were applying for a surveillance warrant against Mr. Page in the FISA court.

A month after Mr. Trump won the presidential election, Mr. Page traveled to Russia again. There, he met again with Messrs. Dvorkovich and Baranov, among others, Mr. Page told the House panel.

The following spring, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general appointed by Mr. Trump, approved a renewal of surveillance of Mr. Page.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/former-tru ... 1517486401
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:35 am

seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:19 am wrote:
Lawyer for Senior White House Official Predicts Robert Mueller Will Indict Trump Within Months

"Bet against the president."

By Tom Boggioni / Raw Story February 2, 2018, 4:59 AM GMT

According to two lawyers who have clients who have been swept up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Donald Trump administration, they believe that the president may be indicted for obstruction of justice within the next few months.

In an interview with Politico, the lawyers — who asked to remain anonymous to protect their clients — said that don’t exactly what Mueller’s plans are, but the line of questioning indicates that he is going hard at Trump for blocking the inquiry.

According to one attorney, his interactions with the special counsel’s team while representing his client in interviews have focused on “whether Trump tried to derail the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.”

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet against the president,” one attorney said, while the other — who represents a high-ranking Trump official — added that he fully expects the indictment to be forthcoming for no other reason than to get Congress to take the matter seriously.

“It’s entirely possible that Mueller may go that route on the theory that, as an open question, it should be for the courts to decide,” the attorney explained. “Even if the indictment is dismissed, it puts maximum pressure on Congress to treat this with the independence and intellectual honesty that it will never, ever get.”

The attorney who made the betting comment said he expects an indictment earlier rather than later, saying Mueller may not want to drop the bombshell just prior to to the 2018 midterms.

“If he’s going to do it, I think he’ll do it in the spring,” the attorney said. “I don’t think he wants to be accused of trying to influence the election that dramatically.”

The attorneys acknowledged that there is a question whether a sitting president can be indicted, but that Mueller’s team is willing to let the courts settle that issue while Congress wrestles with what to do with the embattled president.

Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, is betting the president can’t be indicted, saying, “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer” under the Constitution.
https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-polit ... dict-trump






Russia probe lawyers think Mueller could indict Trump

Many legal scholars doubt a U.S. vs. Trump case is possible, but two attorneys who have dealt with special counsel Robert Mueller's team disagree. One expects Mueller to move as early as this spring.

DARREN SAMUELSOHN

02/02/2018 05:00 AM EST

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has gathered enough steam that some lawyers representing key Donald Trump associates are considering the possibility of a historic first: an indictment against a sitting president.

While many legal experts contend that Mueller lacks the standing to bring criminal charges against Trump, at least two attorneys working with clients swept up in the Russia probe told POLITICO they consider it possible that Mueller could indict the president for obstruction of justice.

Neither attorney claimed to have specific knowledge of Mueller’s plans. Both based their opinions on their understanding of the law; one also cited his interactions with the special counsel’s team, whose interviews have recently examined whether Trump tried to derail the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet against the president,” said one of the lawyers.

The second attorney, who represents a senior Trump official, speculated that Mueller could try to bring an indictment against Trump even if he expects the move to draw fierce procedural challenges from the president’s lawyers – if only to demonstrate the gravity of his findings.

“It’s entirely possible that Mueller may go that route on the theory that, as an open question, it should be for the courts to decide,” the attorney said. “Even if the indictment is dismissed, it puts maximum pressure on Congress to treat this with the independence and intellectual honesty that it will never, ever get."

The lawyers’ assessments hardly resolve the public debate about whether a federal prosecutor can indict a sitting president — one that several attorneys involved in the Russia probe said they are closely tracking through online op-eds and Twitter dustups. (“It’s so much fun!” said one.)

Several legal scholars say an effort by Mueller to initiate a case titled U.S. vs. Trump would, at a minimum, likely move quickly to the Supreme Court. There is no legal precedent for an indictment of a president — only a pair of Justice Department legal opinions, from 1973 and 2000 — saying it is not a viable option.

The 2000 opinion concluded that the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting president “would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.”

The memo was written by an assistant attorney general nearly two years after the House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr never tried to indict Clinton. But Starr, who filed a damning report to Congress in 1998, considered the option — and even tasked his lawyers with preparing draft indictments, as well as a legal opinion asserting his power to charge Clinton.

“It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting President for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the President’s official duties,” Starr’s legal adviser, Ronald Rotunda, concluded in a 1998 memo first made public last summer through an open records request by the New York Times.

“In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law,” the memo said.

Despite that assertion, Rotunda said in an interview that Mueller cannot indict Trump because he has a different legal standing than Starr enjoyed. Starr’s powers were defined by an independent counsel statute that expired in 1999. Rotunda said Mueller, by contrast, effectively has the powers of a U.S. attorney and must follow all DOJ “rules, regulations, procedures, practices and policies.”

That would mean Mueller is bound by the Clinton Justice Department’s 2000 memo, he said, as well as another Justice Department opinion written in 1973.

“If we know anything about Mueller, we think we know that he follows the rules—all of them,” Paul Rosenzweig, another former Starr deputy, wrote Tuesday in the Atlantic. “Mueller will not indict Trump for obstruction of justice or for any crime. Period. Full stop. End of story. Speculations to the contrary are just fantasy.”

The 1973 Justice Department memo was used to shield President Richard Nixon from a possible indictment by Watergate prosecutors, who believed they had the power to bring one. That debate was unresolved after the special prosecutor decided to share his work with the House Judiciary Committee, which was preparing to launch impeachment proceedings against Nixon.

The Justice Department regulations that govern Mueller’s work offer no clear endgame for the public to follow his investigation.

They do stipulate that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has oversight of and final say on all major decisions by Mueller — specifically including any indictments. Rosenstein is also required to submit a report to Congress on the grounds for closing the investigation.

Mueller’s office and the Justice Department both declined comment, as did attorneys for Trump and the White House.

In a December interview with Axios, Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd argued that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer" under the Constitution.

Some Republicans warn that Mueller would be playing with fire should he pursue an indictment of Trump.

"It would create a constitutional crisis," said Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), a former federal prosecutor and district attorney.

Buck said Mueller would be on especially dangerous ground were he to base an obstruction of justice case on Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey: “Assessing the motives" of a president who decides to dismiss executive branch personnel would be "unique in the history of the country,” he said.

Signs that Mueller is closing in on Trump have been growing for months. Mueller has indicted former top Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates — both have pleaded not guilty — and obtained guilty pleas from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI.

Witnesses and attorneys who have been interviewed by the special counsel’s team say the special counsel is focusing on a potential obstruction of justice case based on several well-documented events, including Trump’s firing of Comey and his efforts to prevent Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recusal from the Justice Department’s Russia probe.

The lawyer who said he would “bet” against Trump said he thinks Mueller could wrap up his case soon, potentially with an indictment, to avoid acting too close to this fall’s midterm elections.

“If he’s going to do it, I think he’ll do it in the spring,” the attorney said. “I don’t think he wants to be accused of trying to influence the election that dramatically.”

On Capitol Hill, several Democrats said they believe Mueller has the authority to file charges against Trump but questioned whether he actually would.

"I think that it’s far more likely if the special counsel finds evidence of criminality... that it’s presented in a report to Congress," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Schiff said Mueller would likely have steep reservations about the notion that "12 jurors in some part of the country should decide the fate of the republic."

In addition, Schiff said a federal judge might stay any criminal proceedings until after Trump’s presidency.

That was the assumption of the Nixon-era Justice Department memo, which suggested such an outcome could be disastrous.

“Given the realities of modern politics and mass media, and the delicacy of the political relationships which surround the Presidency both foreign and domestic, there would be a Russian roulette aspect to the course of indicting the President but postponing trial, hoping in the meantime that the power to govern could survive,” wrote Robert G. Dixon Jr., then an assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Rosenstein could also deny any attempt by Mueller to indict Trump. Justice Department rules would require such a denial to be transmitted to the House and Senate Judiciary committee leaders at the conclusion of Mueller’s work.

That scenario “would allow everybody involved — Mueller, Rosenstein — to play the thing strictly by the book and still get Mueller’s conclusion, if there is one, that the president committed a crime, into the hands of the only people to whom it really matters, which is Congress,” said Frank Bowman, a former Justice Department trial attorney and University of Missouri law professor.

Philip Allen Lacovara, who served as a top counsel to the two Watergate special prosecutors, said he believes Mueller could seek an indictment against Trump, but only if the facts suggest a “slam dunk” case against the president.

Lacovara dismissed the Clinton Justice Department memo’s contention that an indictment would interfere with the president’s official duties.

“When an incumbent president, whether it’s Bush or Obama or Trump, spends an enormous amount of time on the golf course, it’s a little bit fanciful to say the president can’t be called to account for alleged criminality because he’s got to be available 24 hours-a-day to be president,” he said.

One of the Russia defense attorneys also suggested what he called a “jujitsu move”: naming Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in a larger obstruction of justice case that targets one or more associates.

Whatever Mueller and his deputies have planned, the attorney said, it is not likely to be anticlimactic.

“There’s a sense of confidence I feel when I’m with them,” said the same lawyer. “Their level of confidence has grown, and that’s a body language thing.”

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/ ... obe-384969



SOMETHING HUGE IS ABOUT TO DROP.......and #releasethememo proves it

....follow the diversions



seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:49 am wrote:
Carter Page, the star of the Nunes memo, explained

9 questions about the former Trump adviser you were too embarrassed to ask.

By Andrew Prokopandrew@vox.com Feb 2, 2018, 8:30am EST


Mark Wilson/Getty
House Republicans have claimed that the “Nunes memo” will reveal “jaw-dropping,” “shocking,” and “sickening” conduct from law enforcement officials in connection with their investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — conduct that could even be “worse than Watergate.”

So you may be surprised to hear that the memo, which isn’t yet public, is reportedly mostly, and perhaps even entirely, about ... Carter Page.

Yes, that Carter Page. The rather eccentric former Trump campaign adviser, infamous for his extremely pro-Russia views and strange media appearances, has unexpectedly turned out to be the centerpiece of the GOP’s effort to discredit the Russia investigation.

Federal government investigators grew suspicious of Page’s Russian contacts and a trip he took to Moscow during the campaign, so they reportedly wiretapped him in the fall of 2016. They continued this surveillance throughout early 2017. However, so far, Page has not been accused of or charged with anything in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Now Republicans are angry because the Justice Department’s request for permission to surveil Page partly relied on information from the infamous Steele dossier. That’s the document filled with lurid and scandalous allegations about Trump and his advisers’ ties to Russia that all involved, including Page, have heatedly denied. It’s a problem, the GOP argues, because the dossier project was ultimately funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer — meaning that Page was being surveilled in part because of a campaign’s opposition research (which, it should be noted, hasn’t been corroborated and could be entirely false).

Yet law enforcement officials and Democrats who’ve seen the underlying intelligence emphasize that the dossier allegations were only part of the justification for the Page surveillance. The FBI, they say, had good reason to suspect Page beyond the dossier. (Indeed, Page drew investigative scrutiny for his contacts with Russian intelligence in 2013, long before the Trump campaign was a glimmer in anyone’s eye.)

All the while, the man at the center of this firestorm remains an enigma. Again, keep in mind that he hasn’t been charged with anything. For all we know, he could be an ordinary citizen who genuinely thinks the Russian government is great, has a lot of Russian friends and contacts, happened to get in way over his head, and truly was unjustly smeared in the Steele dossier. So let’s dive deeper into the mystery of Carter Page.

1) Who on earth is “Carter Page, PhD”?

Page, in a television appearance
That is the question much of the Washington foreign policy community asked in unison on March 21, 2016. (Well, some probably substituted profanity.)

On that date, presidential candidate Donald Trump sat down with the Washington Post’s editorial board and read out five names of people he said were serving on his foreign policy team. The list included George Papadopoulos, who has since pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russians — “excellent guy,” Trump said.

Trump also read the name “Carter Page, PhD” — and offered no further elaboration on him.

Within days, though, a few things about Page became clear from a profile by Bloomberg’s Zachary Mider. Page had a whole lot of experience doing business in Russia. He had far more positive views of Putin’s regime than most Americans. And he wasn’t a fan of the US’s sanctions on Russia.

After growing up in New York and spending a few years in the Navy in the 1990s, Page completed a few graduate degrees in international relations and business. Then for most of the 2000s, he worked at the investment banking firm Merrill Lynch, focusing on Russia and Eastern Europe.

His work led him to move to Moscow from 2004 to 2007, and it entailed advising Gazprom, the majority Russian state–owned oil firm, on deals. Soon afterward, he moved back to the US, left Merrill, and went into business for himself, advising investors on Russia-related projects.

Though all this, Page didn’t have a particularly high public profile — until, out of nowhere, Trump dropped his name. Mider quoted a former Merrill executive who’d worked with Page in Russia professing shock at his high-profile new gig. “I could not imagine Carter as an adviser on foreign policy,” the former executive, Sergey Aleksashenko, said. “It’s really surprising.”

2) So why was this rando on Donald Trump’s foreign policy team?

Trump and Sam Clovis. Scott Olson/Getty
If we think hard enough, we can remember a time before Trump was president of the United States and the undisputed commander of the Republican Party. Back then, he was a disreputable outsider whose campaign faced fierce opposition from the GOP establishment and policy elites and who was considered highly likely to lose the general election.

After Trump’s disorganized and not particularly professional campaign managed to win most of the first GOP primaries, he faced increasing pressure to demonstrate that he was a plausible major-party presidential nominee. His aides decided that part of that task entailed putting together something they could call a “foreign policy team.” The task fell to Sam Clovis, a conservative talk radio host and evangelical activist from Iowa who had distinguished himself by joining the Trump campaign relatively early.


Carter Page didn’t wait for Clovis to find him. According to his later testimony, Page reached out to New York’s Republican Party chair, Ed Cox, in late December 2015, asking to be put in touch with Trump’s team. Cox put Page in contact with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who sent him over to Clovis, who is said to have put him on Trump’s list of advisers.

The Trump team claims that the main reason they took Page on was that they were taking “anyone ... with a pulse,” as a campaign official put it to the Washington Post last year. Indeed, Clovis’s task surely was complicated by the fact that few in the “respectable” GOP foreign policy community were willing to sign on with Trump at that point.

But by one account, Clovis had something else on his mind too. Papadopoulos was added to the same team as Page, and according to a plea agreement he signed last year, Clovis told him early on “that a principal foreign policy focus of the [Trump] campaign was an improved US relationship with Russia.” With that in mind, Page would seem a perfect fit, considering his job history and policy views.

3) What did Carter Page actually do when he was a Trump adviser?
To hear some in Trump’s orbit tell it, he did nothing whatsoever. “Mr. Page is not an advisor and has made no contribution to the campaign,” campaign spokesperson Jason Miller said in September 2016. “He’s never been part of our campaign. Period.”

Indeed, Page testified that he’s never met or even spoken to Trump himself, and that he missed out on the one meeting the Trump foreign policy team had with the candidate because, he said, he had a conflict that day.

However, emails and documents made public in connection with Page’s congressional testimony do show that he was in regular contact with several campaign foreign policy advisers in the spring and summer of 2016 — though it’s not entirely clear what, exactly, he was doing.

On May 16, 2016, Page sent a curious email to two of his fellow foreign policy advisers, J.D. Gordon and Walid Phares. Page wrote (emphasis added):

As discussed, my strategy in order to keep in sync with the media relations guidelines of the campaign has been to make my key messages as low-key and apolitical as possible. But after seeing the principal’s tweet a few hours in response to the cocky “in politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue” quote by the same speaker at Rutgers yesterday, I got another idea. If he’d like to take my place and raise the temperature a little bit, of course I’d be more than happy to yield this honor to him.
“The principal” here is Trump, and “this honor” Page wants Trump to “take my place” in, he admitted in congressional testimony, is ... a trip to Russia.


So Page has admitted that he emailed Trump advisers in guarded, roundabout language about an upcoming trip to Russia that was part of a “strategy” previously discussed with others on the campaign.

Trump didn’t end up going to Russia that year — but Page did, for a five-day trip in July 2016. This raised eyebrows even at the time, since Page gave a public speech in which he criticized US policy as too antagonistic toward the Kremlin. Yet Page and Trump’s team said, then and afterward, that Page took this trip purely as a private citizen and not at all on behalf of the campaign.


After Page returned, he started to keep tabs on preparations for the Republican convention. And when Trump’s team helped block a delegate’s proposed amendment calling for the US to arm Ukraine, Page was thrilled. “As for the Ukraine amendment, excellent work,” he wrote in an email to several campaign foreign policy officials.

But rumors soon swirled about what Page might have been up to during his Moscow trip. After a briefing in August, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wrote a letter to the FBI saying “questions have been raised” about whether Page met with “high-ranking sanctioned individuals” during his trip.

Finally, in September, Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reported that the government was investigating Page’s ties to the Kremlin — a revelation that led the Trump campaign to harshly disassociate themselves from Page. (In Page’s own telling, he chose to take a leave of absence. He denied doing anything wrong.)

After Trump had won the election, Page never appeared to rejoin his team. He took another trip to Russia in December 2016, during the transition, but testified that this trip was also undertaken entirely on his own.

4) So what happened during Carter Page’s July 2016 trip to Russia?
There are basically two possibilities.

The first is that, as Page says, he traveled to Russia on his own initiative, meeting with various business and personal contacts, and that nothing all that significant took place.

The second is that he’s hiding something.

Rumors of the latter soon reached the ears of Christopher Steele, the former British spy researching Trump’s Russia ties. On July 19, 2016, Steele filed a report for what become known as his “dossier” focused on Page’s Russia trip. Citing Russian sources, he wrote:

That Page had met with Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the majority Russian government-owned oil company, and discussed lifting US sanctions
That Page had also met with Igor Diveykin, a Russian intelligence official, and discussed Russian “kompromat” on Clinton (and Trump)
In a later report, dated October 18, 2016, Steele made an even more astonishing claim:

That when Page allegedly met with Sechin, the oil executive had offered Page and Trump’s associates “the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatized) stake in Rosneft in return” for lifting sanctions, and that Page “expressed interest” and confirmed that Trump would lift sanctions if he won
But in the year and a half since, no one has yet managed to confirm any of the claims in Steele’s dossier about Page’s trip. (My opinion is that they should be viewed with extreme skepticism.)

Page, meanwhile, has furiously denied the claims, saying that he’s never met either Sechin or Diveykin and disparaging what he calls the “dodgy dossier” both in media appearances and under oath.

Still, Page’s story that the trip had nothing to do with Trump’s campaign doesn’t entirely fit with the evidence either.

George Papadopoulos was also emailing campaign advisers about a potential Trump trip to Russia around the same time. And according to his plea deal, one senior official forwarded his email to another and wrote, “Let’s discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
Page sent other Trump aides a memo about his trip, in which he referred to himself as “Campaign Adviser Page.” In it, he described a “private conversation” he had with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who he said “expressed strong support for Mr. Trump.”
Page also wrote an email to two Trump aides saying he’d received “some incredible insights and outreach [...] from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration here.”
Also, Page admitted that he did meet with a different Rosneft executive — Andrey Baranov, the company’s head of investor relations, with whom he had a preexisting relationship.
When asked about some of this under oath, Page sounded evasive. He claimed his interaction with Dvorkovich lasted “well less than 10 seconds,” and that his reference to “insights and outreach” referred merely to speeches he’d attended and articles he’d read during his trip.


Now, there is a relatively innocent potential explanation here: that Page, in his real-time reporting back to the Trump campaign last year, could have been wildly exaggerating his own connections and what he had achieved in Russia to make himself appear more important and influential. But the documents certainly give reason to suspect there was more to Page’s Russia trip than we know — even if it’s unclear what it might be.

5) Why did US law enforcement officials start looking into Carter Page’s ties to Russia?
Well, it depends which time you’re referring to.


In fact, the FBI interviewed Page because of his contacts with a Russian intelligence operative all the way back in 2013.

The bureau was looking into a suspected Russian spy ring and learned that one of their suspects, Victor Podobnyy, had met with Page in hopes of finding a potential recruit. In fact, Podobnyy was caught on a wiretap discussing Page:

He writes to me in Russian [to] practice the language. He flies to Moscow more often than I do. He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could be rise up. Maybe he can. I don’t know, but it’s obvious that he wants to learn lots of money. ...

... I will feed him empty promises. ... You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go fuck himself.
Podobnyy said one more thing about Page on the tap. “I think,” he said, “he is an idiot.”

Page did end up giving some energy business documents to Podobnyy, and the FBI interviewed him about it in June 2013. But they decided Page didn’t know Podobnyy was a spy, and didn’t charge him with anything.

6) Okay, then why did US law enforcement officials start looking into Carter Page’s ties to Russia again during the presidential campaign?
According to the New York Times, the FBI opened an investigation into Trump associates’ ties to Russia at some point in July 2016, after receiving a tip that George Papadopoulos had bragged to an Australian diplomat that he knew Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Christopher Steele was meanwhile doing his own investigation at the time — and was providing what he found to his own contacts in the FBI (who had worked with him before and viewed him as a reliable source of information).

So it was apparently some combination of 1) the obvious (Page’s trip to Russia and history of Russian contacts); 2) Steele’s information; and 3) other information the government obtained from other sources that led the FBI to zero in on Page.

But it was reportedly on October 19, 2016, that the Justice Department took the particularly dramatic step of asking for permission to surveil Page’s communications. (Note that this was a month after the Trump campaign disassociated itself from Page and said he had nothing to do with it, which would seem to debunk the talking point that this was an excuse for the FBI to spy on the Trump team.)


That application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is said to be the central preoccupation of the Nunes memo. The memo reportedly argues that the surveillance application relied on information from Steele’s dossier without proper disclosures — which Republicans find objectionable since Steele’s project was ultimately funded by the Clinton campaign and they believe it to be bogus.

Yet all sides also admit that the application didn’t entirely rely on the dossier, and that the FBI had other sources of information as well. Law enforcement officials and Democrats who’ve seen the memo argue that it gives a misleading picture of how strong the application to surveil Page was, by leaving out those other sources for political reasons.

Another angle is that FISA surveillance applications have to be renewed every 90 days. The government is said to have applied for more surveillance on Page at some point in January or February 2017, and then again in late April or May 2017 — with the latter application approved by newly sworn-in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (Rosenstein is special counsel Robert Mueller’s boss and ultimately oversees the investigation that Trump hopes to discredit.)

7) What is up with Carter Page’s media and legal strategy?

Rather than lawyering up and responding with caution to the Russia scandal, as most others potentially implicated in it have, Page was omnipresent discussing the topic in seemingly nonstop media appearances last year — in a way that both baffled and entertained political observers.

Throughout these appearances, Page frequently filibustered, went on tangents, and worked himself into a state of high dudgeon while maintaining that he was completely innocent of any wrongdoing and was being unjustly smeared. He also testified before the House Intelligence Committee last November for more than six hours — without a lawyer.

“The past few months has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life,” he told USA Today last fall. “You don’t fully appreciate the law and a just, functioning legal system until you’ve had your basic civil rights so severely abused based on the lies funded by rich political patrons.”

“I genuinely hope, Carter, that you’re innocent of everything, because you’re doing a lot of talking,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes told him in October. “It’s either admirably bold or reckless, but I guess we’ll find out.”

8) How important is Carter Page to Robert Mueller’s investigation?
For all we know, he isn’t important to it at all.


The Washington Post reported that in March 2017, FBI agents interviewed Page for a total of about 10 hours over five separate meetings, and asked him about claims made in the Steele dossier.

But there’s no indication that this led anywhere, and it happened before Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation in May.

Mueller has held his cards remarkably close to the vest all along. But he’s indicted two former Trump aides already — Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. And he’s gotten two others — George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn — to become cooperating witnesses as part of plea deals. None of the charges that have been brought appear to relate in any way to Page, or (so far as we know) to information learned from the surveillance of Page.

So it’s entirely possible that investigators eventually concluded Page did nothing wrong and moved on to focus their probe elsewhere. Or not.

9) That was long. Can I see a picture of Carter Page to close it out?
https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/PxvqOu5 ... o_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/10139875/Screen_Shot_2018_02_01_at_5.17.51_PM.png
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... arter-page



seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:13 pm wrote:oh I think Nunes and trump knew they were throwing mud :bigsmile

yea it was a fucking hay ride by Nunes


James Comey

29m29 minutes ago

That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.



First Take: The ‘Nunes Memo’ Is Even Weaker Than Expected
By Josh Marshall | February 2, 2018 1:30 pm


Having given the Nunes Memo an initial but close read, here’s my take. The memo seems to tell us no more than what’s been reported in various sources for months and even on the most basic read seems obviously misleading on its face. Here’s why.

Let me try to summarize the core argument of the memo more or less on its own terms. The memo argues that the Steele Dossier was a critical or central part of the government’s (i.e., the FBI’s) argument for obtaining a FISA warrant on Carter Page. In none of its applications or follow up applications (four total) did the FBI disclose to the FISA court that the Steele Dossier was essentially the fruit of the poisoned tree – ultimately funded by Democratic party funds, an inherently political document and only corroborated in its findings to a limited degree. That’s the gist of the memo: the FBI used a tainted and unreliable source to get a warrant for surveillance on an American citizen without disclosing to the court any of the reasons not to credit the information contained in the dossier.

The key hinge in the memo is that it consistently seeks to suggest that the Dossier was the heart of the government’s case or even the entirety of the government’s case without actually providing any evidence for this claim or – critically – describing any other evidence the government may have had or may have included in the application. I see two key places in the memo where they make this case. On page 2 the memo states the dossier was “an essential part” of the government application. On the bottom of page 3 the memo says: “Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.”

The latter quote is simply a characterization of what McCabe said. His actual quote would be critical to judging its significance. Even on its face it doesn’t clearly mean there wasn’t other probative evidence. The earlier claim is simply a claim – that it was an essential part of the application. In short, the memo provides no real evidence that the Dossier was central to the application or how the government got the information and is at pains to ignore what other evidence the government provided. Lots of reporting suggests there was significant additional evidence in the application. That squares with what we know about how FISA applications work and which ones get approved.

The one exception comes in the last paragraph of the memo where it says that the application also mentioned evidence about George Papadopoulos and his activities. “But,” say the memo authors, “there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos.”

Again, we don’t know the totality of evidence in the application. But if you’re providing evidence to suspect that a presidential campaign advisor is acting as the agent of a foreign power, it certainly seems relevant and probative to note evidence that one of his fellow advisors (one of five) also seems to be working with or for that foreign power even if you don’t have evidence that the two advisors are working together. This strikes me as really obvious. Again, we can’t evaluate the application without knowing all the evidence contained in it. But the criticism here seems pretty weak.

Along the way through the memo there’s various trash talk about the memo or other players in the case. It claims that a September 2016 Mike Isikoff article was contained in the application as corroboration for the Dossier even though it was based on the Dossier. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. And even the memo itself suggests that the FBI may not have known it was true at the time of the application.

At the end of the day, even a cursory read of the memo makes it sound like a cherry-picked effort to discredit the FISA warrant on Carter Page by focusing on one piece of evidence from the application while conspicuously going out of its way to discuss any of the other evidence. The memo also seems to rely heavily on the reader not knowing much about how warrant applications, particularly FISA warrant applications, work.

Through the couple weeks this memo has been a source of controversy, critics of the document have argued that the memo shouldn’t be released without releasing the underlying materials it was based on. This seems like a pretty clear way of saying that it’s highly misleading without knowing what other evidence the FBI had on Page. Again, really obvious. What we have here is a memo going to town on the Dossier in ways that seems significantly misleading but not altogether inaccurate and making that the heart of not only the Page FISA application but the whole Russia probe while conspicuously refusing to discuss the other evidence it contained. Even the most basic read makes this obvious.

Here’s the text of the Memo itself. The limited annotations are ones I made myself in the course of reading.

A few stray points to note:

1) Republicans have repeatedly argued that the Dossier triggered the opening of the investigation. The memo states the contrary explicitly: it was the Papadopoulos report that triggered the investigation. That’s on page 4.

2) At the risk of stating the obvious, the Memo is entirely and exclusively about Carter Page, not the broader investigation.

3) Note on page 3 the quote that Steele was “desperate” for Trump not to be elected. From what we know of Steele this quote was likely a characterization of what he found and his belief that Trump had been compromised by Russia. The Memo provides this quote without context to create the impression that Steele was a political opponent. We can’t know for certain without context. But there’s good reason to believe this is another cherry-picked quote for a specifically misleading purpose.
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https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/fi ... re-1108862


Press Releases

House Intelligence Committee Minority Response to Release of Chairman Nunes’ Misleading Memo
f t # e
Washington, February 2, 2018 | 0 comments
Washington, DC – Today, the Minority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence responded to the release of HPSCI Chairman Nunes’ memo:

“Chairman Nunes’ decision, supported by House Speaker Ryan and Republican Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes. Furthermore, their refusal to allow release of a comprehensive response memorandum prepared by Committee Democrats is a transparent effort to suppress the full truth.

“As the DOJ emphasized to Chairman Nunes, the decision to employ an obscure and never before used House rule to release classified information without DOJ and FBI vetting was ‘extraordinarily reckless.’ The selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the Intelligence Community and our law enforcement agencies. If potential intelligence sources know that their identities might be compromised when political winds arise, those sources of vital information will simply dry up, at great cost to our national security.

“The Republican document mischaracterizes highly sensitive classified information that few Members of Congress have seen, and which Chairman Nunes himself chose not to review. It fails to provide vital context and information contained in DOJ’s FISA application and renewals, and ignores why and how the FBI initiated, and the Special Counsel has continued, its counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s election interference and links to the Trump campaign. The sole purpose of the Republican document is to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President. Tellingly, when asked whether the Republican staff who wrote the memo had coordinated its drafting with the White House, the Chairman refused to answer.

“The premise of the Nunes memo is that the FBI and DOJ corruptly sought a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, and deliberately misled the court as part of a systematic abuse of the FISA process. As the Minority memo makes clear, none of this is true. The FBI had good reason to be concerned about Carter Page and would have been derelict in its responsibility to protect the country had it not sought a FISA warrant.

“In order to understand the context in which the FBI sought a FISA warrant for Carter Page, it is necessary to understand how the investigation began, what other information the FBI had about Russia’s efforts to interfere with our election, and what the FBI knew about Carter Page prior to making application to the court – including Carter Page’s previous interactions with Russian intelligence operatives. This is set out in the Democratic response which the GOP so far refuses to make public.

“The authors of the GOP memo would like the country to believe that the investigation began with Christopher Steele and the dossier, and if they can just discredit Mr. Steele, they can make the whole investigation go away regardless of the Russians’ interference in our election or the role of the Trump campaign in that interference. This ignores the inconvenient fact that the investigation did not begin with, or arise from Christopher Steele or the dossier, and that the investigation would persist on the basis of wholly independent evidence had Christopher Steele never entered the picture.

“The DOJ appropriately provided the court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia’s election interference, including evidence that Russian agents courted another Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. As we know from Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, Russian agents disclosed to Papadopoulos their possession of stolen Clinton emails and interest in a relationship with the campaign. In claiming that there is ‘no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos,’ the Majority deliberately misstates the reason why DOJ specifically explained Russia’s role in courting Papadopoulos and the context in which to evaluate Russian approaches to Page.

“The Majority suggests that the FBI failed to alert the court as to Mr. Steele’s potential political motivations or the political motivations of those who hired him, but this is not accurate. The GOP memo also claims that a Yahoo News article was used to corroborate Steele, but this is not at all why the article was referenced. These are but a few of the serious mischaracterizations of the FISA application. There are many more set out in the Democratic response, which we will again be seeking a vote to release publicly on Monday, February 5th. Unlike Committee Republicans, however, we will ask the relevant agencies to propose any necessary redactions to protect any sources and methods not already disclosed by Chairman Nunes’ document.

“It is telling that Chairman Nunes put out this memo without bothering to read the underlying materials, and that he ordered changes to the document without informing his own committee members. It is a terrible lapse in leadership that Speaker Ryan failed to intervene and prevent the abuse of classified materials in this way. It is tragic, if all too predictable, that this President would allow the release of the memo despite FBI and DOJ’s expressions of ‘grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the [Republicans’] memo’s accuracy’. But most destructive of all may be the announcement by Chairman Nunes that he has placed the FBI and DOJ under investigation, impugning and impairing the work of the dedicated professionals trying to keep our country safe.”

The memo and letter from the White House can be found here.


seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:02 pm wrote:
The Nunes-Ryan Civil Liberties Sham

Marcy Wheeler
Guest Writer

For the last three weeks, privacy advocates have been buffeted by two political whirlwinds. First, the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act two weeks ago, authored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. And then today, the release of a partisan memo, authored by Nunes’ staffers, purporting to show FBI and Department of Justice abuses of the individual Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application process.

Because Nunes and others ― up to and including House Speaker Paul Ryan ― claimed to be motivated by a concern about civil liberties, it was generally assumed the privacy community would join the clamor. But those of us who’ve been through several surveillance fights with these posers know the reality is far more complex. Ultimately, two principles are at issue: the rule of law and privacy. In both instances, Nunes and Ryan are on the wrong side of the issue.

The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act extended a key part of FISA, called Section 702, that lets the government ask domestic telecommunications and tech providers for help spying on foreigners overseas. But that word “target” is misleading, because under the program, the government obtains the American side of any conversation with a targeted individual. The FBI can obtain that information in raw form and routinely queries the data when it gets leads to find out if Americans have been speaking to suspicious foreigners. That amounts to warrantless access of Americans’ communications, and exposes certain groups, like Chinese-Americans and Muslims, to far more scrutiny than others.

Also under Section 702, the government obtains certain entirely domestic communications that have obscured their location. While it has to purge most of those communications, the NSA can keep any that it shows are evidence of eight enumerated crimes. Again, this is warrantless surveillance of Americans, done in the guise of foreign intelligence collection.

A mere three weeks ago, Nunes and Ryan were happy to have Americans surveilled with no evidence whatsoever of wrong-doing.
During the 702 reauthorization debate, reformers like Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), tried to add protections in these instances, most notably by requiring a warrant before the FBI searches for communications involving Americans. The law authored by Nunes, however, only provides such protection to people for whom the FBI already has probable cause that they are committing a crime. Nunes’ law flips the Fourth Amendment on its head, providing protection only to criminal suspects and not for those against whom the FBI has no evidence of wrongdoing.

A mere three weeks ago, Nunes and Ryan were happy to have Americans surveilled with no evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing. Back then, Ryan backed suspicionless, warrantless searches of Americans as a necessary trade off. “This [bill] strikes the balance that we must have between honoring and protecting privacy rights of U.S. citizens, honoring civil liberties, and making sure that we have the tools we need in this day and age of 21st century terrorism to keep our people safe.”

Today, however, when a former Trump campaign adviser is at issue, Nunes and Ryan have discovered the due process they personally refused for so many Americans. The Nunes memo purports to show that an individualized FISA application against Carter Page did not adequately inform the FISA court about the political source of one piece of evidence among others. The memo argues the FBI did not adequately reveal “the political origins of the Steele dossier,” intelligence reporting paid for by the Democratic Party.

The application instead presented Steele as someone (the memo admits) who was a “longtime FBI source” with a “past record of credible reporting.” But even on that key issue, the memo is unclear whether DOJ knew precisely who was paying for Steele’s work. Indeed, it makes no mention that Republican billionaire Paul Singer was the first political actor to pay Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele, for dirt on Trump, though Singer himself did not fund any of Steele’s work. In other words, on the central question of whether the FBI could have attributed Fusion’s intelligence to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats or to someone else, the memo doesn’t make its case.

Now, the role of consultants like Steele in judicial proceedings is a matter of grave concern. Consultants with an inadequate grasp of the Arabic language or Islamic faith have long been used by DOJ as witnesses against terrorism defendants, and defense attorneys have suspected consultants ― perhaps the very same ones ― provided intelligence used in FISA applications, just as Steele provided intelligence for the Page application. More recently, consultants assessing crime patterns and recidivism rates have been shown to rely on biased algorithms.

Yet none of the people pushing this Nunes memo have ever uttered a peep about due process concerns posed by outright incompetent consultants in the past. Here, however, they’re wailing that a consultant they admit has been reliable in the past got paid differently than in the past and that wasn’t fully briefed to the court.

The way to deal with both of these issues is to conduct actual oversight of the general problem, not extend protections just to one man like Page.

The sudden interest in problems Nunes and Ryan showed no interest in just weeks ago is all the more telling, given several details about this memo.


First, as the memo lays out, starting in October 2016 the FBI obtained and then renewed a FISA warrant against Page four times. That means over the span of at least nine months, the FBI demonstrated that a wiretap of Page demonstrated useful foreign intelligence, and FISA judges agreed with that assessment over and over. The memo either doesn’t mention or obscures an earlier FISA warrant, obtained in 2014 during a period when Page was being actively recruited by Russian spies who were either expelled or imprisoned. Effectively, then, the GOP memo admits that something about Page, something well beyond the Steele dossier, raised real concerns about whether he was spying for Russia. And the FISA court agreed that it was a real concern.

The memo also complains that the Page application mentions George Papadopoulos, another former Trump foreign policy aide who in October pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with people working on behalf of Russia. It reads: “The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos.” That’s not entirely true. As the committee itself learned in testimony, Page was copied on at least one of the emails Papadopoulos sent to the campaign detailing his own activities.

Moreover, the memo is silent about whether the Papadopoulos reference in the application served to do anything more than inform the court that, in response to a tip about Papadopoulos’ actions, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Russians were attempting to compromise Trump via his foreign policy advisers. Effectively, this amounts to saying that because the FBI was investigating Page in the context of other concerns that Russians were trying to infiltrate the Trump campaign (concerns Papadopoulos’ guilty plea validate), it should be deemed an abuse. As with 702 reauthorization, they’re trying to extend protections just to those against whom there is credible evidence of wrong-doing.

Finally, there’s the larger conduct. This memo was written for a guy, Devin Nunes, who was a Trump transition official. That transition period has already netted one guilty plea ― that of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, for lying to the FBI. Multiple reports make clear that Trump permitted the release of this memo explicitly as a way to delegitimize a legally constituted investigation into him, his family, and associates like Nunes. In the same way that Nunes and Ryan are pushing for further review only for a man who, abundant other evidence suggests, fostered legitimate suspicion, they’re also saying that they only care to scrutinize FBI and DOJ actions if they themselves might be subject to them.

Every single privacy activist I know cares about privacy in significant part to ensure the rule of law and to prevent the arbitrary exercise of justice to focus just on select groups like Muslims or Chinese-Americans, rather than those who pose the greatest risk to society, like people allegedly doing Russia’s secret bidding. Yet the actions of Ryan and Nunes reverse that, using a sham concern for civil liberties as a way to prevent themselves, their associates, and the president from being subject to the rule of law like the rest of us would be.

If we’re going to have this secret surveillance ― and Nunes and Ryan insist we need it ― the key to protecting Americans is drafting the law to provide protections and ensuring those standards are met. Section 702, as Nunes and Ryan reauthorized it, fails that test, because it permits the warrantless access of completely innocent Americans’ communications. And for all its bluster, the Nunes memo doesn’t tell us critical details we need to assess whether what happened to Page was improper specifically, or simply indicative of known concerns about outside consultants that Nunes and Ryan have long ignored (and continue to ignore with all other Americans). By all means let’s examine the role of consultants in FBI investigations. By all means let’s scrutinize whether the FISA process works as well as the DOJ claims.

But let’s do that for all Americans, and not just those about whom the FBI has real reason to worry.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/op ... eb2906f?sc


seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:13 am wrote:there is no huge event coming resulting in massive change ......trump will not be president January 1 2019

It took 2 years to get Nixon out of office ...if the repubs do not remove trump before the mid term elections the dems will impeach him after they retake the house and senate .....trump's lawyers are negotiating his time before Mueller and if push comes to shove trump will be subpoenaed there will be a Constitutional crisis and he will be compelled to testify......Kushner is going to be charged

this is the biggest political scandal in the history of this country..... I am positive of all of this and will save this post for future reference

Blue » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:10 am wrote:If I only had a dollar every time someone prophesied about some huge event coming that will result in a massive change.

Been hearing about the coming race war my entire life.
Been hearing about the coming Second Great Depression for a decade.
Been hearing about ET or Our Ancestors coming to save us since oh, about 1999.
Been hearing about Trump gettin the boot and going to jail for 15 months.

I appreciate all of your documentation slad, but I also have a different opinion.
If Trump leaves it will be on the GMO-glyphosate-sugar heart attack train.


Bob Mueller’s Investigation Is Larger—and Further Along—Than You Think


Tthe Mueller investigation appears to have been picking up steam in the last three weeks —and homing in on a series of targets.
Eric Thayer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Trump claimed in a tweet over the weekend that the controversial Nunes memo “totally vindicates” him, clearing him of the cloud of the Russia investigation that has hung over his administration for a year now.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, if anything, the Mueller investigation appears to have been picking up steam in the past three weeks—and homing in on a series of targets.

Last summer, I wrote an analysis exploring the “known unknowns” of the Russia investigation—unanswered but knowable questions regarding Mueller’s probe. Today, given a week that saw immense sturm und drang over Devin Nunes’ memo—a document that seems purposefully designed to obfuscate and muddy the waters around Mueller’s investigation—it seems worth asking the opposite question: What are the known knowns of the Mueller investigation, and where might it be heading?

The first thing we know is that we know it is large.

We speak about the “Mueller probe” as a single entity, but it’s important to understand that there are no fewer than five (known) separate investigations under the broad umbrella of the special counsel’s office—some threads of these investigations may overlap or intersect, some may be completely free-standing, and some potential targets may be part of multiple threads. But it’s important to understand the different “buckets” of Mueller’s probe.

As special counsel, Mueller has broad authority to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” a catch-all phrase that allows him to pursue other criminality he may stumble across in the course of the investigation. As the acting attorney general overseeing Mueller, Rod Rosenstein has the ability to grant Mueller the ability to expand his investigation as necessary and has been briefed regularly on how the work is unfolding. Yet even without being privy to those conversations, we have a good sense of the purview of his investigation.

Right now, we know it involves at least five separate investigative angles:

1. Preexisting Business Deals and Money Laundering. Business dealings and money laundering related to Trump campaign staff, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Rick Gates, are a major target of the inquiry. While this phase of the investigation has already led to the indictment of Gates and Manafort, it almost certainly will continue to bear further fruit. Gates appears to be heading toward a plea deal with Mueller, and there is expected to be a so-called “superseding” indictment that may add to or refine the existing charges. Such indictments are common in federal prosecutions, particularly in complicated financial cases where additional evidence may surface. Mueller’s team is believed to have amassed more than 400,000 documents in this part of the investigation alone. There have also been reports—largely advanced through intriguing reporting by Buzzfeed—about suspicious payments flagged by Citibank that passed through the accounts of the Russian embassy in the United States, including an abnormal attempted $150,000 cash withdrawal by the embassy just days after the election.

2. Russian Information Operations. When we speak in shorthand about the “hacking of the election,” we are actually talking about unique and distinct efforts, with varying degrees of coordination, by different entities associated with the Russian government. One of these is the “information operations” (bots and trolls) that swirled around the 2016 election, focused on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, possibly with the coordination or involvement of the Trump campaign’s data team, Cambridge Analytica.

Presumably these so-called active measures were conducted by or with the coordination of what’s known colloquially as the Russian troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, in St. Petersburg. The extent to which these social media efforts impacted the outcome of the election remains an open question, but according to Bloomberg these social media sites are a “red hot” focus of Mueller’s team, and he obtained search warrants to examine the records of companies like Facebook. In recent weeks, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have begun working to notify more than a million users they suspect interacted with Russian trolls and propaganda.

3. Active Cyber Intrusions. Separate from the trolls and bots on social media were a series of active operations and cyber intrusions carried out by Russian intelligence officers at the GRU and the FSB against political targets like John Podesta and the DNC. We know that Russian intelligence also penetrated the Republican National Committee, but none of those emails or documents were made public. This thread of the investigation may also involve unofficial or official campaign contacts with WikiLeaks or other campaign advisers, like Roger Stone, as well as the warning—via the Australian government—that former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos appeared to have foreknowledge of the hacking of Democratic emails.

Western intelligence, specifically the Dutch intelligence service AIVD, has evidently been monitoring for years the “Advanced Persistent Threats”—government-sponsored hackers who make up the Russia teams known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, which were responsible for the attacks on Democratic targets. AIVD even evidently managed to penetrate a security camera in the workspace of Cozy Bear, near Red Square in Moscow, and take screenshots of those working for the team. According to The Wall Street Journal, there are at least six Russian intelligence officers who may already be identified as personally responsible for at least some of these intrusions. Bringing criminal charges against these individuals would be consistent with the practices established over the past five years by the Justice Department’s National Security Division, which indicted—and in some cases even arrested—specific government and military hackers from nation-states like Iran, China, and Russia.

4. Russian Campaign Contacts. This corner of the investigation remains perhaps the most mysterious aspect of Mueller’s probe, as questions continue to swirl about the links and contacts among Russian nationals and officials and Trump campaign staff, including Carter Page, the subject of the FISA warrant that was the focus of the Nunes memo. Numerous campaign (and now administration) officials have lied about or failed to disclose contacts with both Russian nationals and Russian government officials, from meetings with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to government banker Sergey Gorkov to the infamous Trump Tower meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. with Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer Natalia V. Veselnitskaya.

At least two members of the campaign—Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn—have already pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about these contacts. But many other Trump aides face scrutiny, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr. Some of these contacts may go back years; Page himself originally surfaced in January 2015 as “Male #1” in the indictment of three Russian SVR agents, working undercover in New York City, who had tried to recruit Page, an oil and gas adviser, as an intelligence asset, only to decide that he was too scatterbrained to be a useful source.

5. Obstruction of Justice. This is the big kahuna—the question of whether President Trump obstructed justice by pressuring FBI director James Comey to “look past” the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn and whether his firing in May was in any way tied to Comey’s refusal to stop the investigation. This thread, as far as we know from public reporting, remains the only part of the investigation that stretches directly into the Oval Office. It likely focuses not only on the President and the FBI director but also on a handful of related questions about the FBI investigation of Flynn and the White House’s statements about the Trump Tower meeting. The president himself has said publicly that he fired Comey over “this Russia thing.”

There’s fresh reason to believe that this is an active criminal investigation; lost amid the news of the Nunes memo on Friday was a court ruling in a lawsuit where I and a handful of other reporters from outlets like CNN and Daily Caller are suing the Justice Department to release the “Comey memos”: The ruling held that, based on the FBI’s private testimony to the court—including evidence from Michael Dreeben, one of the leaders of the special counsel’s office—releasing the memos would compromise the investigation. “Having heard this, the Court is now fully convinced that disclosure ‘could reasonably be expected to interfere’ with that ongoing investigation,” the judge wrote in our case.

Even the most generous interpretation of the Nunes memo—which has been widely debunked by serious analysts—raises questions only around the fourth thread of this investigation, insofar as it focuses on Carter Page, the one-time foreign policy adviser who appears to be ancillary to most of the rest of the Russia probes. All of the other avenues remain unsullied by the Nunes memo.

The second thing that we know is that large parts of the investigation remain out of sight. While we’ve seen four indictments or guilty pleas, they only involve threads one (money laundering) and four (Russian campaign contacts). We haven’t seen any public moves or charges by Mueller’s team regarding the information operations, the active cyber intrusions, or the obstruction of justice investigation.

We also know there’s significant relevant evidence that’s not yet public: Both Flynn and Papadopoulos traded cooperation and information as part of their respective plea deals, and none of the information that they provided has become public yet.

We also know that, despite the relative period of quiet since Flynn’s guilty plea in December, Mueller is moving fast. While parts of the case will likely unfold and continue for years, particularly if some defendants head for trial, Mueller has in recent weeks been interviewing senior and central figures, like Comey and Sessions. He’s also begun working to interview President Trump himself. Given that standard procedure would be to interview the central figure in an investigation last—when all the evidence is gathered—it seems likely that such interest means that Mueller is confident he knows what he needs to know for the obstruction case, at least.

All of these pieces of public evidence, the “known knowns,” point to one conclusion: Bob Mueller has a busy few weeks ahead of him—and the sturm und drang of the last week will likely only intensify as more of the investigation comes into public view.
https://www.wired.com/story/bob-mueller ... you-think/


seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:40 am wrote:
Unrolled thread from @ndrew_lawrence
9 tweets 13 hours ago

Um, HOLY SHIT

But remember a week ago when Assange tried to DM Hannity with dirt on Mark Warner

Guess where "leaked texts" from Mark Warner just showed up
ImageImage

Fox News is working with Julian Assange to disrupt the 2018 election and I dunno how else you can explain this
"There are brand new text messages obtained exclusively by Fox News..."

Yea, I wonder how these texts were obtained

This is the same network that for the past week has been claiming that a lawfully obtained FISA warrant against Carter Page was a violation of his privacy
A week and a half ago:
Image
Here's the full Fox News report. They say they got the texts from a "Republican source" which seems like weird wording to me

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner texted with Russian oligarch lobbyist in effort to contact dossier author Christopher Steele
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who has been leading a congressional investigation into President Trump's alleged ties to Russia, had extensive contact last ye…
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02 ... teele.html

Image
It's weird how this stuff came out the same day the Porter stuff came out...kinda like the way the DNC emails came out the same day the Access Hollywood tape dropped
I'm sure Julian Assange is proud
Image
Just realized I never included a link to the reporting by @oneunderscore__ in this thread...this is the story that exposed the original Hannity/Assange contact

Julian Assange Offered Hannity Impersonator News About Top Democrat
The head of Wikileaks told @SeanHannity__ to seek ‘other channels’ for information on Sen. Mark Warner of the Trump-Russia investigation. ‘@SeanHannity__’ was a woman in Texas.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/julian-as ... essaging-s

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/9617 ... 24416.html


‘They Protected An Abuser’
By David Kurtz | February 8, 2018 4:22 pm

You can measure how badly the White House is handling the Rob Porter abuse case by watching the incensed reaction of Amanda Carpenter, a former staffer to Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), just now on CNN.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYqRTRocf1Y


WH Doesn’t Deny Reports It Knew About Allegations Of Ex-Staffer’s Abuse
By Matt Shuham | February 8, 2018 4:04 pm

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 01: Rob Porter, right, White House staff secretary, and Don McGahn, White House counsel, attend a luncheon featuring a speech by President Donald Trump at the House and Senate Republican retreat at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on February 1, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group
The White House on Thursday did not deny reports that top Trump administration officials knew that ousted White House staff secretary Rob Porter had been accused by multiple women of domestic abuse.

Rather, White House spokesperson Raj Shah said that White House chief of staff John Kelly “became fully aware” of the allegations on Wednesday. He refused to get further into specifics.

“He had not seen images prior to the statement on Tuesday night,” Shah said.

A reporter pressed: What did “fully aware” mean? What did Kelly know about the allegations before a Tuesday night report in the Daily Mail broke the story publicly?

“Again, I’m not going to get into the specifics of what may have emerged from the investigation,” Shah said, not denying reports that Kelly — who vouched for Porter even after the first reports surfaced publicly — knew about the allegations of abuse well before this week.

Separately, a reporter asked how White House officials had stood behind Porter even after Porter had said in a statement that he had personally taken the photos of his ex-wife showing apparent signs of domestic abuse — namely, a black eye.

“I think it’s fair to say that we all could have done better over the last few hours— or last few days in dealing with this situation,” Shah said. “But, you know, this was the Rob Porter that I and many others have dealt with. That Sarah dealt with, that other officials including the chief of staff have dealt with, and the emerging reports were not reflective of the individual we had come to know.”

Shah said Porter’s background investigation was “ongoing” at the time of his resignation, and that he was working on an interim security clearance during his time at the White House. Wednesday was Porter’s last day, Shah said.

“Over the course of any investigation, some information may arise that seems troubling or complicated and requires additional investigating,” Shah said at the top of the briefing, reading a description of the background check process from a prepared remark. “It’s important to allow that process to continue in order for a fulsome understanding of the information.”

He added later: “It’s important to remember that Rob Porter has repeatedly denied these allegations and done so publicly. That doesn’t change how serious and disturbing these allegations are. They’re upsetting. And the background check investigates both the allegations and the denials.”

This post has been updated.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ ... fers-abuse


Politico: Kelly Knew Porter’s Security Clearance Would Be Denied Weeks Ago
By Caitlin MacNeal | February 9, 2018 7:39 am

on May 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America
White House chief of staff John Kelly learned several weeks ago that multiple white House aides, including staff secretary Rob Porter, would be denied full security clearances, Politico reported Thursday night, citing an unnamed administration official.

Kelly planned to fire those who were denied security clearances, but had not yet done so, according to Politico.

The chief of staff has come under intense scrutiny this week over the White House’s handling of public allegations from Porter’s ex-wives that he abused them. When the allegations first surfaced on Tuesday, the White House, including Kelly, stood by Porter and defended his character.

By Thursday, Porter had left the White House permanently as attention on the abuse allegations increased. White House spokesman Raj Shah admitted Thursday that the administration “could have done better” in responding to the accusations about Porter’s past behavior.

Kelly learned some time in the fall that abuse allegations from Porter’s ex-wives were holding up his security clearance, but the chief of staff did not act to investigate the matter at the time, according to the Washington Post.

White House Counsel Don McGahn was also aware of the allegations but did not act. McGahn learned that Rob Porter’s ex-wives were going to make negative allegations about him about a year ago, and discovered more specifics about the accusations as the year went on, but he never initiated a review of the staff secretary before he resigned this week, the Washington Post reported Thursday night. In June, the FBI told the White House about the accusations, but it’s not clear whether that news reached McGahn. The White House counsel learned in the fall that abuse allegations were delaying Porter’s security clearance, but he agreed that Porter should stay on, per the Washington Post.


In November, an ex-girlfriend of Porter’s contacted McGahn to warn him about allegations of domestic abuse, but the White House counsel again didn’t act, according the Washington Post.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ ... -clearance


‘A Bit Of A Mystery’: Why Is Mueller Keeping His Distance From Pence?
By Allegra Kirkland | February 9, 2018 6:00 am

Speculation about when and under what terms President Donald Trump might be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has dominated the headlines ever since the two parties began talks in December.

But what about Vice President Mike Pence?

Pence was absent from many of the key incidents Mueller is reportedly investigating as part of his sprawling probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. But he was intimately involved with several, including the firing of former FBI director James Comey, and the subsequent efforts to settle on a rationale for that firing, which appear to be at the center of the Mueller investigation.

So it’s puzzling that Mueller appears to have made no attempt to talk to the administration’s second-highest-ranking official. Pence’s lawyer met with Mueller last year to offer Pence’s full cooperation.

“It’s a bit of a mystery to me that Pence’s name hasn’t really surfaced at all,” Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor who worked closely with Mueller in the Justice Department’s criminal division, told TPM. “There are things that Pence seems to be relevant to. So I’m surprised.”

Pence’s lawyer, Richard Cullen, declined to comment to TPM on the record, while the special counsel’s office declined comment. Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah did not respond to TPM’s request for comment, but in December forcefully denied to CNN that Pence’s office was preparing for a meeting with Mueller.

As of mid-January, NBC reported that the special counsel had made no overtures to Pence about an interview.

By now, over 20 White House officials have been interviewed, including top Trump allies like Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Counsel Don McGahn. Former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon is scheduled to sit down with Mueller next week.

Former White House lawyers caution that much of what Mueller’s team is up to is happening far from the public eye. After all, one noted, no one saw the indictment of George Papadopoulos coming.

But they offer a few explanations for why Mueller appears to be keeping his distance from Pence, at least for now.

First, public reports have offered little indication that Pence is a target of the obstruction of justice, collusion, or money laundering arms of the Russia investigation.

“The reporting so far has revealed not much detail about Pence’s involvement in key events. It may be that, as he did in the case of the the voter fraud commission, he kept his distance and tried to cut his losses. So he will be a witness, but it is hard to say how central to to the case he will be,” Bob Bauer, White House Counsel under President Barack Obama, told TPM in an email.

Pence had not yet joined the team at the time of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between high-level campaign officials and Russians promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. He was at his son’s wedding in Indiana in late Dec. 2016 when Mike Flynn reached out to then-Russian-ambassador Sergey Kislyak to discuss Obama’s imposition of fresh economic sanctions on Russia. And Pence has maintained he was the last to learn about issues that were either widely reported, like Flynn’s unauthorized lobbying work for Turkey, or that other White House officials were aware of, like Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials during the transition.

Still, there are a few topics that the special counsel would “absolutely” want to talk to Pence about, said Adam Goldberg, White House special associate counsel under President Bill Clinton.

One is what Flynn told Pence about his Russia contacts in January 2016. Flynn was fired in mid-February. The White House has said the firing was because Flynn misled the Vice President about those contacts. But that explanation has generated skepticism, in part because McGahn and Trump reportedly knew by late January that Flynn had lied to both Pence and the FBI.

Mueller might also might want to talk about Pence’s involvement in the May 2017 deliberations over firing Comey. The New York Times reported that Trump informed the Vice President on May 8 that he planned to dismiss the FBI director, reading to him and several other senior officials from a draft memo laying out the case that Comey had mishandled the FBI’s Russia investigation. Trump was stopped from sending that memo out, the Times reported, and instead shifted the justification for Comey’s dismissal onto his handling of the Clinton email investigation. Pence conveyed the official line about Clinton to the press.

Still, as Goldberg noted, other witnesses have likely already provided extensive testimony on these topics, making obtaining Pence’s account less of a priority. Flynn, for example, is cooperating with the special counsel after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI in December.

“If they already have enough people who would testify and aren’t worried about Pence contradicting, from their perspective they’re just going to make a political judgment of, ‘Well we don’t need to go involve the Vice President; that might make us look more partisan,’” he said.

Goldberg, Baeur and Zeldin noted that Mueller’s team is digging through reams of evidence that the public simply doesn’t know about, and that could prompt further lines of questions for the Vice President.

Pence could also serve as a corroborating witness for whatever testimony Trump provides, if he ultimately opts to do so, Zeldin suggested.

But things could get awkward if an invitation is ultimately extended to the Vice President, even as Trump’s own attorneys are reportedly counseling the President not to talk.

“Unless Pence is concerned he’s done something wrong, Pence will appear before Mueller no matter what,” Goldberg said. “Because it’d be political suicide for him not to.”

We just don’t know what he might have to say.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker ... estigation



Report: WH Officials At First Blamed Porter Abuse Allegations On His Enemies
By Caitlin MacNeal | February 9, 2018 8:30 am

As White House officials prepared their initial response to public abuse allegations from staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wives, some of them painted the accusations as part of a smear campaign from Porter’s enemies, the Daily Beast reported Thursday night.

Two White House officials told Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) office that a forthcoming story from the Daily Mail with abuse allegations was the product of a “smear campaign” against Porter. The officials laid some of the blame on former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and claimed that he had been researching Porter’s past, per the Daily Beast. Both Lewandowski and Porter have dated White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

Lewandowski denied to the Daily Beast that he was pushing the story about Porter’s alleged past domestic abuse.

“I’ve never had a bad word about Rob Porter,” Lewandowski told the Daily Beast. “I think he did a very good job, and I wish him the very best.”

Hatch’s office sent a statement praising Porter to the White House on Tuesday before the senator learned that Porter would be accused of physical abuse, per the Daily Beast. After Porter announced his resignation Wednesday, Hatch issued a new statement condemning domestic violence.

Porter has denied the allegations from the start and did so again when he announced his resignation on Wednesday. He told aides in the White House that his ex-wives were making up the stories, two White House officials told the New York Times. He also reportedly later claimed that the photo of one of his ex-wives with a black eye came after his wife was hit with a vase while the two were arguing over it, according to the Washington Post. It’s not clear what he told FBI investigators about his ex-wives’ allegations.

Since Porter’s resignation on Wednesday, when the White House was still circulating statements praising the White House aide, the administration has acknowledged that they handled the situation poorly.

“I think it’s fair to say that we all could have done better over the last few hours— or last few days in dealing with this situation,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said on Thursday.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ ... r-campaign



seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:00 pm wrote:FL Gov Scott has an A+ rating from the NRA (and blood on his hands)
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Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran spent an hour on TV last night demanding we round up all immigrants to protect our state. What about guns? His answer: MORE GUNS!
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Trump to NRA: ‘I will never ever let you down’
President Trump addressed the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention on April 28, 2017. He’s the first president to do so in more than 30 years. “The eight-year assault on your second amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” Trump said. The White House

FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump
BY PETER STONE AND GREG GORDON

January 18, 2018 05:00 AM
Updated January 23, 2018 07:43 PM
WASHINGTON
The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information.

A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined comment.

Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference. McClatchy reported a year ago that a multi-agency U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s intervention, begun even before the start of the 2016 general election campaign, initially included a focus on whether the Kremlin secretly helped fund efforts to boost Trump, but little has been said about that possibility in recent months.

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

Two people with close connections to the powerful gun lobby said its total election spending actually approached or exceeded $70 million. The reporting gap could be explained by the fact that independent groups are not required to reveal how much they spend on Internet ads or field operations, including get-out-the-vote efforts.

During the campaign, Trump was an outspoken advocate of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, at one point drawing a hail of criticism by suggesting that, if Clinton were elected, gun rights advocates could stop her from winning confirmation of liberal Supreme Court justices who support gun control laws.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” Trump said at a rally in August 2016. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Spanish authorities tag Torshin for money laundering

Torshin, a leading figure in Putin’s party, has been implicated in money laundering by judicial authorities in Spain, as Bloomberg News first revealed in 2016. Spanish investigators alleged in an almost 500-page internal report that Torshin, who was then a senator, capitalized on his government role to assist mobsters laundering funds through Spanish properties and banks, Bloomberg reported

A summary obtained by McClatchy of the still-secret report links Torshin to Russian money laundering and describes him as a godfather in a major Russian criminal organization called Taganskaya.

Investigators for three congressional committees probing Russia’s 2016 operations also have shown interest in Torshin, a lifetime NRA member who has attended several of its annual conventions. At the group’s meeting in Kentucky in May 2016, Torshin spoke to Donald Trump Jr. during a gala event at the group’s national gathering in Kentucky in May 2016, when his father won an earlier-than-usual NRA presidential endorsement.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the investigation.

"We have not been contacted by the FBI about anything related to Russia," said Steven Hart, an outside attorney for the NRA, in a statement provided to McClatchy five days after publication of this story.

Torshin could not be reached for comment, and emails to the Russian central bank seeking comment from Torshin and the bank elicited no response.

Mueller’s investigation has been edging closer to Trump’s inner circle. This week, The New York Times reported that Mueller had negotiated an agreement under which Steve Bannon, who was recently ousted from his post as a senior White House adviser, would fully respond to questions about the Trump campaign. Bannon headed the campaign over its final weeks.

Since taking over the investigation last May, Mueller has secured guilty pleas from two former Trump aides, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, both of whom agreed to cooperate with prosecutors; and criminal charges against two other top campaign figures, former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates.

Play Video
1:48
Paul Manafort: The rise and fall of President Trump's former campaign chairman
Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016. By October 2017, he had been indicted on 12 counts including conspiracy against the U.S. by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Here's what happened in between. Alexa Ard, Maureen Chowdhury and Patrick GleasonMcClatchy

$30 million The amount of money the National Rifle Association spent backing Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign – triple what the group spent on Republican Mitt Romney four years earlier
A year ago, three U.S. intelligence agencies signed off on a joint assessment that was the basis for the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and other sanctions against the Kremlin. The intelligence agencies concluded that what began as a sophisticated Russian operation to undermine Americans’ faith in democracy morphed into a drive to help Trump win.

Torshin is among a phalanx of Putin proxies to draw the close attention of U.S. investigators, who also have tracked the activities of several Russian billionaires and pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs that have come in contact with Trump or his surrogates.

Torshin was a senior member of the Russian Senate and in recent years helped set up a Moscow gun rights group called Right to Bear Arms. He not only spoke with Trump Jr. at the NRA convention, but he also tried unsuccessfully to broker a meeting between Putin and the presidential candidate in 2016, according to the Times. He further sought to meet privately with the candidate himself near the 2016 NRA convention.

Torshin’s ties with the NRA have flourished in recent years. In late 2015, he hosted two dinners for a high-level NRA delegation during its week-long visit to Moscow that included meetings with influential Russian government and business figures.

In their internal report, Spanish prosecutors revealed a web of covert financial and money-laundering dealings between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a Russian who pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges in 2016 and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

The prosecutors’ evidence included 33 audio recordings of phone conversations from mid-2012 to mid-2013 between Torshin and Romanov, who allegedly laundered funds to buy a hotel on the ritzy island of Mallorca. Torshin had an 80 percent stake in the venture, the Spanish report said.

In the phone conversations, Romanov referred to Torshin as the “godfather” or “boss.” Torshin has denied any links to organized crime and said his dealings with Romanov were purely “social.”

The Madrid-based newspaper El Pais last year reported that Spanish police were on the verge of arresting Torshin in the summer of 2013, when he had planned to attend a birthday party for Romanov, but a Russian prosecutor tipped the banker to plans to nab him if he set foot in Spain, and Torshin canceled his trip.

Congress looking at Torshin, too

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee also have taken an interest in Torshin as part of their parallel inquiries into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

In questioning Donald Trump Jr. at a closed-door hearing in mid-December, investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee asked about his encounter with Torshin at the NRA convention, according to a source familiar with the hearing.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., said his client and Torshin talked only briefly when they were introduced during a meal.

“It was all gun-related small talk,” Futerfas told McClatchy.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters in November to two senior Trump foreign policy aides, J.D. Gordon and Sam Clovis, seeking copies of any communications they had with or related to Torshin; the NRA; veteran conservative operative Paul Erickson; Maria Butina, a Torshin protege who ran the Russian pro-gun group he helped launch, and others linked to Torshin.

Erickson has raised funds for the NRA and is a friend of Butina’s. Shortly before the NRA’s May 2016 convention, he emailed Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn about the possibility of setting up a meeting between Putin and Trump during the campaign, according to the Times.

Erickson’s email to Dearborn bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, Erickson solicited advice from Dearborn and his boss, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a top foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, about the best way to connect Putin and Trump.

Both Dearborn and Butina, who has been enrolled as a graduate student at American University since mid 2016, have been asked to appear before the Judiciary Committee, but so far Erickson has not, sources familiar with the matter said.

Bridges LLC, a company that Erickson and Butina established in February 2016 in Erickson’s home state of South Dakota, also is expected to draw scrutiny. Public records don’t reveal any financial transactions involving Bridges. In a phone interview last year, Erickson said the firm was established in case Butina needed any monetary assistance for her graduate studies — an unusual way to use an LLC.

Erickson said he met Butina and Torshin when he and David Keene, a former NRA president, attended a meeting of Right to Bear Arms a few years ago in Moscow. Erickson described the links between Right to Bear Arms and the NRA as a “moral support operation both ways.”

Torshin’s contacts with the NRA and the Trump campaign last year also came to the attention of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser. When Torshin tried to arrange a personal meeting with Trump near the NRA convention site last May, Kushner scotched the idea, according to emails forwarded to Kushner.

On top of Torshin’s efforts to cozy up to the Trump campaign, the Moscow banker has forged ties with powerful conservatives, including Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the Californian whom some have deemed Putin’s best friend in Washington. In a phone interview in 2016, Rohrabacher recalled meeting Torshin in Moscow a few years earlier and described him as “a mover and shaker.”

Last February when Torshin visited Washington, Rockefeller heir and conservative patron George O’Neill Jr. hosted a fancy four-hour dinner for the banker on Capitol Hill, an event that drew Rohrabacher, Erickson and other big names on the right. Rohrabacher has labeled Torshin as “conservatives’ favorite Russian,” Torshin was in Washington at the time to lead his country’s delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast, where Trump spoke. The banker also was slated to see the presidentat a meet-and-greet event prior to a White House breakfast, but Torshin’s invitation was canceled after the White House learned of his alleged mob connections, Yahoo News reported.

Torshin’s involvement with the NRA may have begun in 2013 when he attended the group’s convention in Houston. Keene, the ex-NRA leader and an avid hunter, was instrumental in building a relationship with the Russian, according to multiple conservative sources.

Keene also helped lead a high-level NRA delegation to Moscow in December 2015 for a week of lavish meals and meetings with Russian business and political leaders. The week’s festivities included a visit to a Russian gun company and a meeting with a senior Kremlin official and wealthy Russians, according to a member of the delegation, Arnold Goldschlager, a California doctor who has been active in NRA programs to raise large donations.

Others on the trip included Joe Gregory, who runs the NRA’s Ring of Freedom program for elite donors who chip in checks of $1 million and upwards, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke and Pete Brownell, a chief executive of a gun company and longtime NRA board member.

In a phone interview, Goldschlager described the trip as a “people-to-people mission,” and said he was impressed with Torshin — who, he noted, hosted both a “welcoming” dinner for the NRA contingent and another one.

“They were killing us with vodka and the best Russian food,” Goldschlager said. “The trip exceeded my expectations by logarithmic levels.”

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation- ... rylink=cpy
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:45 am

seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:55 am wrote:“Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50.”

Rinse Penis speaks


“Who Needs a Controversy Over the Inauguration?”: Reince Priebus Opens Up About His Six Months of Magical Thinking

Months after his chaotic resignation as chief of staff, and with his successor on the hot seat, Priebus comes clean about everything: the inauguration crowd-size fiasco, the decision to fire Comey, the Mooch, the tweets, how he helped saved Jeff Sessions’s job, and his mercurial former boss. “I still love the guy,” he says.

Chris Whipple

February 14, 2018 3:00 pm
From the Magazine

Reince Priebus (right) with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, January 2017.
Photograph by Andrew Harnik/A.P. Images.
Just after six a.m. on January 21, 2017, at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, Reince Priebus was watching the cable morning news shows, getting ready to leave for the White House. Suddenly his cell phone went off. It was Donald Trump. The new president, sworn in less than 24 hours earlier, had just seen The Washington Post, with photos showing Trump’s inaugural crowd dwarfed by that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The president was livid, screaming at his chief of staff. “He said, ‘This story is bullshit,’ ” recalled Priebus. “He said, ‘There’s more people there. There are people who couldn’t get in the gates. . . . There’s all kind of things that were going on that made it impossible for these people to get there.’ . . . The president said, ‘Call [Interior Secretary] Ryan Zinke. Find out from the Park Service. Tell him to get a picture and do some research right away.’ ” The president wanted his chief of staff to fix this story. Immediately.

Priebus tried to talk Trump off the ledge. “It doesn’t matter,” Priebus argued. “It’s Washington, D.C. We’re in an 85 percent Democrat area. Northern Virginia’s 60 percent. Maryland’s 65 percent. . . . This is a Democrat haven, and nobody cares.” But Trump was having none of it. Priebus thought, “Is this something that I really want to go to battle over on day one? Who needs a controversy over the inauguration?” Priebus realized he faced a decision: “Am I going to go to war over this with the president of the United States?”

Hours later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer stepped into the White House briefing room. “What happened,” Priebus remembered, “was Spicer decided to say that actually, if you combine online and television, radio, and in-person, it was the most watched inauguration.” The trouble with that reasoning was that Spicer’s response—a belligerent, Orwellian performance beamed around the world—was a lie. From the very start, the credibility of the Trump presidency became a laughingstock, immortalized by actress Melissa McCarthy in her devastating parody of Spicer on Saturday Night Live.

On day one, instead of going to war with Donald Trump, Priebus had gone along.

Adapted from a new edition of *[The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency](http://bit.ly/gatekeeperspb),* by Chris Whipple, published in paperback on March 6, 2018, by Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; © 2017, 2018 by the author.
Priebus cannot say he wasn’t warned. Just a month before the inauguration, he had been invited to lunch by Barack Obama’s outgoing chief of staff, Denis McDonough. Following the example of a memorable breakfast hosted eight years earlier by George W. Bush’s chief Josh Bolten—when 12 former White House chiefs had come to give advice to Obama’s incoming chief, Rahm Emanuel—McDonough was joined by 10 chiefs, Republicans and Democrats, in his West Wing office. And as they gathered around a long table, none doubted the enormity of the challenge facing Priebus. “We wanted to help Reince in any way we could,” said Jack Watson, who served President Jimmy Carter. “But I don’t think there was a chief in the room that thought he was going to be able to do the job, given Trump as his president.” Most of the former chiefs believed Trump was intellectually and temperamentally unfit for office—and few thought Priebus could rein him in or tell him hard truths. “We were thinking, God bless him. Godspeed. Good luck,” said Watson. “But he doesn’t have a prayer.”

Priebus was hobbled by two other factors. A former Republican National Committee chairman from Kenosha, Wisconsin, he barely knew his new boss, and he was part of the establishment that Trump had vilified. Moreover, during the campaign, the two men had been known to feud. Trump had been especially resentful of Priebus’s reaction to the campaign’s existential crisis just a month before Election Day: the release of the tawdry Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump had made graphic misogynist comments that were caught by an open microphone.

The morning after the video surfaced, Trump’s candidacy had been pronounced all but dead in the media. In response, the beleaguered nominee’s top aides—campaign C.E.O. Stephen Bannon, former New York mayor Rudy Giu­liani, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump—gathered at Trump Tower for a war council to advise the candidate on whether he should stay in the race or quit.

The nominee, sleep-deprived, surly, his jaw clenched, posed the crucial question: in light of the videotape, what were his chances of winning? Priebus went first: “If you decide to stay in, you will lose in the biggest landslide in American political history.” One by one, Trump’s other advisers danced around the question—until finally it was Bannon’s turn. “One hundred percent,” he declared. “One hundred percent you’re going to win this thing. Metaphysical.” (Priebus recalled things differently, saying no one was that emphatic.)

Trump, of course, pulled off an astonishing upset. And a month later, McDonough met his successor as chief of staff in the West Wing lobby and escorted him to his office. As the former chiefs went around the table, giving Priebus advice, they were unanimous about one thing: Trump would be unable to govern unless Priebus was empowered as first among equals in the West Wing. Trump’s incoming chief dutifully took notes on a yellow pad.

Suddenly there was a commotion; Barack Obama was entering the room. Everyone stood and shook hands, then Obama motioned for them to sit. The 44th president’s own chiefs—Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, Jack Lew, McDonough, and Pete Rouse (who served unofficially)—were all pres­ent, and Obama nodded toward them. “Every one of these guys at different times told me something that pissed me off,” Obama said, flashing his familiar grin. “They weren’t always right; sometimes I was. But they were right to do that because they knew they had to tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear.” Obama looked at Priebus. “That’s the most important function of a chief of staff. Presidents need that. And I hope you will do that for President Trump.” With that, Obama said his good-byes and departed.

The chiefs were not sure Priebus got the message. “I caught the eye of several of the others and we exchanged worried expressions,” one Republican in attendance remembered. “He seemed much too relaxed about being able to navigate a difficult job. I think he struck a lot of us as clueless.” Another was even more blunt about Priebus’s nonchalance: “He was approaching the job like it was some combination of personal aide and cruise director.”

priebus bannon spicer
Former chief strategist Steve Bannon and Priebus; Priebus and Spicer.

Left, by Martin H. Shannon/Redux; right, by Susan Walsh/A.P. Images.

Dining alone with Priebus a few weeks earlier, Bush’s chief Josh Bolten had been alarmed: Priebus seemed to regard himself as Trump’s babysitter and had given little thought to governing. “I could tell that he was nervous about leaving Trump alone and was kind of candid about ‘If I’m not there, Lord knows what happens,’” Bolten recalled. In his view, Priebus seemed “neither focused on organizing his White House staff nor in control of his own life. He was just responding to the fire of the day.”

And there was another ominous sign. Obama’s staff had spent months preparing voluminous transition briefs, thick binders designed to help the next administration get up to speed on subjects ranging from Iran to Cuba to climate change. Every previous incoming team had studied such volumes with care. But as the inauguration drew near, McDonough realized that the binders had not even been opened: “All the paperwork, all the briefings that had been prepared for their transition team, went unused,” he said. “Unread. Unreviewed.”

The inept start of the Trump presidency—with the flagrant lying about crowd sizes—confirmed the ex-chiefs’ worst fears. “It told me that Reince wasn’t in control,” observed Jack Watson. “It told me Reince had no power to say to the president, ‘Mr. President, we can’t do that! We are going to get killed if we do that.’ ” George W. Bush’s first chief, Andrew Card, watched with a sinking feeling: “I said to myself, ‘They don’t know what they’re doing. They have no process. And they don’t have discipline. You must taste your words before you spit them out!’”

In late October 2017, almost three months after he resigned as chief of staff, Priebus met me for dinner at a posh but empty restaurant near the White House. Wearing a blazer, tieless, and without his usual American-flag pin, he had been off the radar and had given no extensive interviews since his abrupt departure six months into his job as Trump’s chief. Unlike his friend Sean Spicer, who had struggled to find employment after his turn as Trump’s disgraced White House spokesman, Priebus had landed back at his old Washington law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP—as president. He was drumming up paid engagements on the lecture circuit. And he was conferring frequently by phone with Donald J. Trump.

The president, Priebus said, speaks with him often on a phone that is unmonitored by John Kelly, who replaced him as Trump’s chief of staff—sometimes just to chat, sometimes for counsel. Trump often called Bannon too—at least before his excommunication following his comments in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. Priebus insisted, contrary to Wolff’s description, that he never called Trump an “idiot.” In fact, for all the humiliation he endured, he said, “I still love the guy. I want him to be successful.” While visiting South Korea last November to give a speech, Priebus made a side trip to the demilitarized zone between South and North, and recommended to Trump that he go there during his Asia trip. (The president and his party tried but were forced to turn back due to bad weather.)

Even so, Priebus’s account of his tenure as Trump’s chief confirms the portrayal of a White House in disarray, riven by conflict. “Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,” Priebus said as we sat down. Being White House chief had been even more arduous than it looked from the outside. “No president has ever had to deal with so much so fast: a special counsel and an investigation into Russia and then subpoenas immediately, the media insanity—not to mention we were pushing out executive orders at rec­ord pace and trying to repeal and replace Obama­care right out of the gate.” Priebus was nervous, repeatedly asking, “This is all off the record, right?” (He later agreed to be quoted.)

“People mistake me for a laid-back guy from the Midwest,” he continued. “I’m much more aggressive, and much more of a knife fighter. Playing the inside game is what I do.” Before Priebus, 45, accepted the job, he had had an impressive, if modest, track rec­ord. “I took the R.N.C. from oblivion,” he explained. “Our team raised a ton of money, built the biggest full-time political-party operation ever, ran two conventions, won more races than anyone else, and hit all the marks—without drama, mistakes, or infighting.”

At first, Priebus had been stung by the relentless criticism of his White House run and was especially sensitive to the brickbats hurled by the pundits. But with time he had understood where they came from—including a jab or two thrown by me during interviews on television news shows. “You got me real good one time on Fox,” he said. “My point is, I know what you were saying. You were saying that Trump needed someone in control, and that we had set up a weak structure. But you have to remember: the president was the Trump campaign. The R.N.C. was the organization—but he accomplished almost everything in his life by himself. The idea that he was suddenly going to accept an immediate and elaborate staff structure regulating every minute of his life was never in the cards.

“One of the things all [the chiefs] told me,” Priebus said, “was: don’t take the job unless you’re designated A number 1, in charge of everything, beginning to end.” All of that was right for a typical president, Priebus thought, but Trump wasn’t typical; he was one of a kind.

As it turned out, there was a moment on Election Night when it looked as though the chief’s job might go to Bannon, who eventually became Priebus’s ally in the West Wing. (Others would be considered as well.) But he didn’t look the part. “Trump looked around and I remember I had a combat jacket on and I hadn’t shaved in a week,” said Bannon, who spoke with me at length just before the release of Fire and Fury. “I had the greasy hair [hanging] down. . . . I’m the senior guy—but look, it was obvious Reince had to be chief of staff.” Priebus, however, would be chief in name only: Trump, instead, anointed Bannon as Priebus’s co-equal, with Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, getting top billing.

priebus scaramucci
Priebus with ousted communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

By T. J. Kirkpatrick/Redux.

From the beginning, Priebus would face a challenge unique to this presidency: how to curb the commander in chief’s tweets. “We can get thrown off our message by tweeting things that aren’t the issues of the day,” he told Trump. At first Priebus thought he had succeeded in wresting Trump’s phone from him. “I talked about the security threat of having your own cell in the West Wing and got the Secret Service to go along with me to mothball his phone.” Priebus had managed to silence one device. But it turned out Trump had another.

Early on, the staff wrote daily tweets for him: “The team would give the president five or six tweets every day to choose from,” said Priebus, “and some of them would real­ly push the envelope. The idea would be at least they would be tweets that we could see and understand and control. But that didn’t allow the president to be fully in control of his own voice. Everybody tried at different times to cool down the Twitter habit—but no one could do it. . . . After [last year’s] joint session [of Congress] we all talked to him, and Melania said, ‘No tweeting.’ And he said, ‘O.K.—for the next few days.’ We had many discussions involving this issue. We had meetings in the residence. I couldn’t stop it. [But] it’s now part of the American culture and the American presidency. And you know what? In many ways, the president was right. And all of us so-called experts might be totally wrong.

“[Trump] is a man who fears no one and nothing,” continued Priebus, “and there is absolutely nothing he’s intimidated by. . . . And that’s very rare in politics. Most people in politics are people who have sort of an approval addiction. Now, granted, President Trump does too, but he’s willing to weather one storm after the next to get to an end result that most people are not willing to weather. . . . He doesn’t mind the craziness, the drama, or the difficulty, as long as an end goal is in sight. He will endure it.”

Soon after the inauguration, the president began to lash out wildly at members of the Justice Department who were poised to open probes into possible misconduct or overreach by members of his administration. On his 11th day in office, he fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his controversial travel ban. Then Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District. Next up: F.B.I. director James Comey.

Priebus and White House counsel Donald McGahn tried to stall the freight train coming toward them, sensing that sacking Comey would be a fateful political mistake. But Jared Kushner supported Trump’s decision, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo—criticizing the F.B.I. director’s handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation—gave Trump the pretext. On May 9, Trump fired Comey. It would trigger the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel and would prove to be among the most politically disastrous decisions since Richard Nixon fired Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox.

“[White House counsel] Don McGahn said, ‘We’ve got a problem. . . . [Jeff] Sessions just resigned.’”
While Priebus and Bannon watched the fiasco explode as the pundits excoriated the Trump White House on every cable news show, Kushner did a slow burn. He was livid, furious that the communications team could not defend Comey’s firing. Bannon blew his stack. “There’s not a fucking thing you can do to sell this!,” he shouted at Kushner. “Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn’t sell this! People aren’t stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that’s going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump’s presidency—and it’s because of you, Jared Kushner!”

The screaming matches and white-knuckle showdowns continued. Eight days later, Priebus got an unexpected visit from the White House counsel—a story he has not told publicly before. “Don McGahn came in my office pretty hot, red, out of breath, and said, ‘We’ve got a problem.’ I responded, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Well, we just got a special counsel, and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions just resigned.’ I said, ‘What!? What the hell are you talking about?’ ”

It was bad enough that Trump, having fired Comey, would now be the target of a special prosecutor. Even worse, unbeknownst to Priebus, the president, only moments before, had subjected Sessions to a withering tirade in the Oval Office, calling him an “idiot” and blaming Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation for the whole mess. Humiliated, Sessions said he would resign.

Priebus was incredulous: “I said, ‘That can’t happen.’” He bolted down the stairway to the West Wing parking lot. He found Sessions in the backseat of a black sedan, with the engine running. “I knocked on the door of the car, and Jeff was sitting there,” Priebus said, “and I just jumped in and shut the door, and I said, ‘Jeff, what’s going on?’ And then he told me that he was going to resign. I said, ‘You cannot resign. It’s not possible. We are going to talk about this right now.’ So I dragged him back up to my office from the car. [Vice President Mike] Pence and Bannon came in, and we started talking to him to the point where he decided that he would not resign right then and he would instead think about it.” Later that night, Sessions delivered a resignation letter to the Oval Office, but, Priebus claimed, he ultimately persuaded the president to give it back.

In June, Trump was still on a tear. He considered dumping special counsel Mueller, according to The New York Times, but was dissuaded from doing so. And by July, Trump was back on Sessions’s case, tweeting insults and calling him “weak.” “Priebus was told to get Sessions’s resignation flat out,” said a White House insider. “The president told him, ‘Don’t give me any bullshit. Don’t try to slow me down like you always do. Get the resignation of Jeff Sessions.’ ”

Once more, Priebus stalled Trump, recalled a White House insider. “He told the president, ‘If I get this resignation, you are in for a spiral of calamity that makes Comey look like a picnic.’ Rosenstein’s going to resign. [Associate Attorney General] Rachel Brand, the number three, will say, ‘Forget it. I’m not going to be involved with this.’ And it is going to be a total mess.” The president agreed to hold off. (Sessions didn’t comment on the resignation letter and last July publicly stated that he planned to stay on the job “as long as that is appropriate.” Brand, in fact, resigned this month.)

The Trump presidency’s first six months were the most incompetent and least accomplished in modern history. And its very survival was clouded by the gathering storm of the special prosecutor’s probe.

When it came to Mueller’s investigation, Priebus insisted he personally had nothing to worry about. But Bannon warned that the hounds had been loosed. “You’ve got Mueller’s team, which has got 19 killers who are all experts in wire fraud, money-laundering, and tax evasion,” Bannon said. “Doesn’t sound like collusion to me. But they’ve got unlimited budgets and subpoena power. And here’s what we’ve got on our side: two guys who’ve got legal pads and Post-Its.

oval office
Trump, Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, Bannon, onetime communications director Sean Spicer, and embattled national-security adviser Michael Flynn.

By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.

“It’s like [certain members of the administration think that] no one took down the Gambino family,” Bannon continued. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Former campaign manager Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates [Manafort’s deputy] is a made man! [George] Papadopoulos is equivalent to a wiseguy out in a social club in Brooklyn. This is like a Wagner opera. In the overture you get all the strands of the music you’re going to hear for three hours. Well, Mueller opened with a bang. He totally caught these guys by surprise. So if you’re not going to fight, you’re going to get rolled over.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign to eradicate Obamacare went nowhere. “Repeal and replace” crashed and burned—not once but twice, the second time when John McCain delivered a dramatic 1:30 a.m. thumbs-down on the Senate floor. The debacle proved that Priebus could not count—or deliver—votes. “When McCain voted against it,” Bannon recalled, “I said to myself, Reince is gone. This is going to be so bad. The president is going to get so lit up.”

Priebus soon became a target of Trump’s ritual belittling as the president took to referring to him as “Reincey.” At one point, he summoned Priebus—to swat a fly. Priebus seemed to have been willing to endure almost any indignity to stay in Trump’s favor. There was that scene right out of The Manchurian Candidate when, at a Cabinet meeting, the president’s most powerful advisers virtually competed to see who could be more obsequious; Priebus won hands down, declaring what a “blessing” it was to serve the president.

By the summer, however, Priebus knew that his job hung by a thread. According to insiders, he was already in the crosshairs of “Javanka/Jarvanka”—as Bannon would take to calling the president’s daughter and son-in-law—for refusing to help Kushner in his efforts to oust Bannon. And then came the last straw: the sudden arrival of a new, flamboyant communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. Priebus had opposed his hiring. Scaramucci immediately turned the West Wing into a circular firing squad, calling Trump’s chief of staff a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic” in an interview with The New Yorker. He went on, in a tweet, to all but accuse Priebus of leaking classified information about Scaramucci’s finances (which were publicly available). “When he accused me of a felony,” recalled Priebus, “I thought, What am I doing here? . . . I went in to the president and said, ‘I gotta go.’ ” Trump would say nothing publicly in Priebus’s defense. The president accepted his resignation.

Priebus had hoped to exit gracefully within a week or two, but the next day, as Air Force One sat on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Trump tweeted, “I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American. . . . ” The sudden shake-up was vintage Trump; the timing blindsided Priebus, who stepped off the plane into a drenching rain and was whisked away by car.

John Kelly, a four-star Marine general who had run the Southern Command, was 22 years Priebus’s senior. At the start, he had the president’s full confidence and wasted no time transforming the West Wing into a tighter ship. All visitors to the Oval Office—including Bannon, Kushner, and even the president’s adviser-daughter, Ivanka—were now vetted by the chief. Kelly also started heaving loose cannons over the side: Scaramucci was fired within 72 hours of Kelly’s appointment; Sebastian Gorka, another overzealous White House staffer, would soon follow; even Bannon himself would be gone within a month. Kelly declared that he was not put on earth to manage the president; instead, he would impose discipline on the staff and streamline the flow of information to the Oval Office.

Still, expectations were high that Kelly would be the “grown-up in the room,” who would smooth over Trump’s authoritarian edges. And yet, week after week—during the president’s fulminations against “fake news,” his sympathetic comments toward white supremacists who marched through Charlottesville, his taunting of “Rocket Man” before the U.N. General Assembly, and his racist slurs against “shithole countries”—Kelly stood at Trump’s side. He not only reinforced the president’s worst instincts; he doubled down on them. He maligned Congresswoman Frederica Wilson from the White House Press Briefing Room with a false story after she criticized Trump’s handling of a Gold Star widow. In early February, the news broke that Kelly’s deputy Rob Porter—accused of beating both of his ex-wives (Porter denied the allegations)—had served in the sensitive post of staff secretary for more than a year without a permanent security clearance. The debacle surrounding his abrupt resignation showed that Kelly could not manage the West Wing, let alone Trump.

Suddenly Kelly’s future looked uncertain. And Priebus looked more effective in hindsight. “Reince was better than his press,” said Bannon. “If Reince had the exact track record that Kelly has, he would be deemed the worst chief of staff in the history of politics—and that’s not a slam on Kelly. . . . Folks felt [Priebus] didn’t have the gravitas. He’s always the little guy from Kenosha, right?”
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02 ... al_twitter



seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:18 am wrote:
House Russia investigation has 'abundance' of evidence against Trump, says top Democrat
Adam Schiff said the panel had seen evidence of collusion with Russia and obstruction by Donald Trump’s campaign and administration that is not yet public


Julian Borger in Washington
Wed 14 Feb 2018 14.37 EST Last modified on Wed 14 Feb 2018 14.50 EST

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Wednesday that the panel had seen an “abundance” of evidence of collusion with Russia and obstruction by Donald Trump’s campaign and administration that is not yet public.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Schiff said a lot of information was already in the public domain that pointed to extensive contacts between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin, and later efforts by the Trump entourage to cover up those contacts. But Schiff said there was much more to come out.

He said: “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation. And I think some of that non-public evidence is evidence on the issue of collusion and some … on the issue of obstruction.”

Trump has repeatedly asserted that there has been no collusion and no obstruction involving him or his team during the 2016 presidential election or since he took the White House.

Schiff, from California, added on Wednesday that the intelligence committee had also seen evidence pointing towards money laundering involving Trump’s circle, but had been hindered by the partisan deadlock that has paralysed its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He said: “It is a tried and true maxim. As a former prosecutor, you follow the money. We have not been able to adequately follow the money. And I think the allegations on money laundering are credible enough that we ought to, in the exercise of due diligence, see if this was one of the other vectors of the Russian active measures campaign.”

He added: “We know that in other places they use money laundering as a way of entangling people, as a way of compromising people. To me that is far more potentially compromising than any salacious video would be.”

This refers to the possible existence of a compromising video of Trump in Moscow, allegedly held by Russian intelligence and first referenced last year in the dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele.

Schiff did not name names in relation to money laundering allegations. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and a business associate, Rick Gates, denied money laundering and other charges last year in a federal court in Washington, on the same day it emerged that former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators over contact with people apparently linked to the Russian government.

Those indictments were the first issued by Robert Mueller since he was appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign.


House Democrats to 'clean up' Trump-Russia memo in bid for release
Read more
Schiff was speaking on Wednesday just a day after US intelligence chiefs testified that Russia would attempt to disrupt and influence this year’s midterm congressional elections. He outlined his recommendations on protecting the integrity of the vote.

“What we really need is a fast response from the social media companies when they identify foreign meddling. We also need to make sure that the social media companies get timely information from the intel[ligence] community when the intel community has identified actors that are abusing their platforms,” Schiff said.

Most of all, he argued, it required political will from the White House, in light of Tuesday’s testimony that intelligence chiefs have been given no orders from the presidency on a strategy to counter Russian interference.

“Probably the most significant thing that we can do to protect ourselves in 2018 requires a couple of things. It requires the commander in chief to decide this is a priority and to instruct all of its relevant cabinet officials to develop a game plan to protect against foreign interference in our elections,” Schiff said. “It requires that we develop a nonpartisan, bipartisan consensus that if a foreign power meddles again we will all reject their interference no matter who it helps or who it hurts.”

Schiff is engaged in a battle of wits with the committee’s Republican chair, Devin Nunes, who last year stepped aside from the Russia investigation but has been increasingly involved, most recently by releasing a memo alleging wrongdoing by FBI investigators.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... dam-schiff



seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:03 pm wrote:"Queen for a Day"

Image

Exclusive: A top Trump campaign adviser close to plea deal with Mueller
https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/02/15/poli ... ssion=true



people keep saying 3 but it is 4 ....they are forgetting Zarrab


Rick Gates is reportedly close to becoming Mueller’s third cooperating ex-Trump aide
CNN reports Gates is finalizing a plea deal with Robert Mueller.

By Andrew Prokopandrew@vox.com Feb 15, 2018, 6:54pm EST

Special counsel Robert Mueller may be close to flipping another former Trump staffer.

Rick Gates — Paul Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, and a 2016 Trump campaign staffer — is “finalizing” a plea deal in which he’d cooperate with the Mueller investigation, CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Sara Murray report. Gates has been in negotiations with Mueller’s team about cooperating for over a month, their report says, citing sources familiar with the case.

Back in October, Mueller’s team indicted Gates and Manafort on a combined 12 counts that mostly focused on alleged money laundering, failure to disclose financial assets, and false statements regarding their work for the government of Ukraine and a Russia-affiliated Ukrainian political party — matters that didn’t have anything specific to do with Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. (Both pleaded not guilty.)

But apparently, Mueller didn’t intend to stop there. The special counsel’s team had prepared superseding indictments that would add to or replace the original charges against both Manafort and Gates, per an earlier CNN report. Facing an expensive legal defense with no end in sight, Gates signed a new lawyer who has been working on cutting him a plea deal.

The biggest question, though, is whether Gates’s possible flip is mainly bad news for Paul Manafort concerning those lobbying and money laundering charges ... or whether it would have even bigger implications for the investigation into Russian interference as a whole, and into President Trump specifically.

Because if Manafort were to know of anything that could implicate Trump in connection with Russia, it seems quite plausible Gates would know it, too.

Who is Rick Gates?
Basically, Gates is Paul Manafort’s protégé and right hand man, who was at his side during his past decade of lobbying and foreign work, before going with him to join the Trump campaign.


Manafort, who is two decades older than Gates, had worked for Republican politicians, controversial dictators, and corporate interests before his career took a turn in the mid-2000s. He “all but vanished from the Washington scene” and began focusing on business activities in Eastern Europe, as Politico later reported.

This began with advising work for the Russian oligarch and aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, and soon moved into the political realm with advising work for the Party of Regions — Ukraine’s pro-Russian political party — and its leader, Viktor Yanukovych.

Gates joined Manafort’s firm in 2006 and began managing much of its Eastern Europe portfolio soon afterward, often working out of Kiev, according to the New York Times. In particular, Gates was to run a new private equity company called Pericles that Manafort was starting, to fund investments in Ukraine and Russia.

But in recent years, these business ventures went awry. President Yanukovych was forced to flee Ukraine due to protests and clashes over his pro-Russian policies. Pericles, meanwhile, collapsed in a messy legal battle, as Deripaska, its leading funder, accused Manafort and Gates of cheating him of millions. (An essential recent profile of Manafort by Franklin Foer in the Atlantic has more details on the pair’s Ukrainian work.)

Then, as part of an effort from Donald Trump to professionalize his presidential campaign, he brought Manafort aboard in March 2016. With Manafort came Gates. And as the original campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, saw his star fall, Manafort’s portfolio gradually expanded until he was effectively running the whole operation. In mid-May, Manafort was officially named campaign chair and chief strategist.

Though Trump fired Manafort in August 2016, Gates stayed on with the campaign through the general election, and later served on Trump’s inaugural committee and worked at a pro-Trump outside group until March 2017.

What was Rick Gates indicted for?
On October 30, 2017, in the first public indictments of Mueller’s investigation, Manafort and Gates were charged with a total of 12 counts.

The gist of the charges was that Manafort and Gates “acted as unregistered agents” of the government of Ukraine and Ukrainian politicians, generating “tens of millions of dollars in income,” which they then “laundered” through “scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts.” You can read the full indictment here.

It’s helpful to think of the charges in two separate but related buckets: One is money laundering, and the second is false statements or failure to disclosure foreign work.

On the money laundering front, Manafort and Gates were both charged with a broader “conspiracy to launder money” and separate specific charges on their failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts.

Then there are the false statements and failure to disclose charges. They are:

Acting as an unregistered agent of the government of Ukraine, its president and one of its major political parties.
Making false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act related to that Ukraine work.
Now, these charges don’t necessarily seem to have anything to do with potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — Mueller’s main investigative job.

But he likely saw these separate charges against Manafort and Gates as a means to this end. The stronger the evidence he has against either or both of them, the more pressure he can exert to get them to cooperate in the probe into Russian interference.

Would Gates be flipping just on Manafort — or on Trump?
Gates is far younger than Manafort (he’s only 45 years old), and he has young children. So though Gates pleaded not guilty, speculation almost immediately began over whether he might flip to avoid a long prison sentence.


The big question, though, is just what this flipping might entail — and whom Gates might implicate.

It is possible that Gates’s cooperation would primarily be useful to Mueller as a means to pressure Manafort further. After all, Gates certainly has in-depth knowledge about Manafort’s activities over the past decade-plus. His cooperation could make it easier to make a case against Manafort — or to get Manafort himself to flip.

But there are other possibilities as well.

After all, Gates worked on the Trump campaign. And unlike cooperator George Papadopoulos, he actually had a high-level job there which had him work quite closely with the person running the campaign for several months: Manafort.

For instance, there have been recent reports that Mueller is keenly interested in the White House’s story about the June 9, 2016, meeting Donald Trump Jr. arranged with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower for the purpose of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Gates wasn’t at that meeting — but Manafort was. And if anything inappropriate involving Russian interference with the campaign did happen there, one person Manafort just might tell could be his close friend and business partner of over a decade, Rick Gates.

That is to say that, while Gates’s potential cooperation could just be about providing information on Manafort’s business, it’s not out of the question that it’s about providing information on potential collusion with Russia.

It is also worth noting that Mueller has also looked closely into events during the transition period after Trump won but before he was sworn in. And while Gates didn’t officially work on the transition, he worked as the deputy chair of Trump’s inaugural committee, so he was in the president-elect’s orbit at the time.

So if Gates does flip, the bigger picture is that Mueller would then three former Trump aides — that we know of — cooperating and providing him with information. If criminal collusion did happen, that would put the special counsel in a better position than ever to uncover it.

https://www.vox.com/2018/2/15/16955292/ ... -plea-deal



seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:02 pm wrote:new charges for Manafort coming :D


yep page 3 of new filing new criminal charges for bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracies

Special Counsel Mueller's prosecutors level new bank fraud allegations at Manafort, including 'conspiracies' w/others. No more charges yet


I wonder why this is dropping tonight :evilgrin


oops maybe Mueller is tired of Manafort and wants to revoke his bail :evilgrin :evilgrin

taking him into custody pending trial :evilgrin :evilgrin :evilgrin

ok here it is

Mueller levels new claim of bank fraud against Manafort

Prosecutors say they've found 'additional criminal conduct' by the former Trump campaign chairman.

JOSH GERSTEIN02/16/2018 08:44 PM EST

The special counsel's office told a judge it has new evidence of bank fraud against Paul Manafort. No charges have been filed stemming from the new allegation. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has told a federal judge it has found evidence that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, committed bank fraud not addressed by the indictment last October in which he was charged with money laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent.

As legal wrangling continues over a $10 million bail package for Manafort, prosecutors this week accused him of submitting false information to a bank in connection with one of his mortgages.

“The proposed package is deficient in the government’s view, in light of additional criminal conduct that we have learned since the Court’s initial bail determination,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing submitted on Tuesday and made public in a redacted form on Friday evening. “That criminal conduct includes a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies.”

No criminal charges are known to have been filed over the alleged fraud, and Mueller’s office does not say in the filing whether it intends to bring any.

The filing by Mueller’s office says Manafort obtained a mortgage using “doctored profit and loss statements” overstating “by millions of dollars” the income for his consulting company, DMP International. Prosecutors appear to be referring to a $9.5 million mortgage that Federal Savings Bank of Chicago extended in late 2016 to a Manafort-linked firm, Summerbreeze LLC.

Prosecutors’ references to “conspiracies” suggest that someone beyond Manafort was involved in the alleged fraud, but no further details were given.

Defense attorneys for Manafort did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. Lawyers and the defendants are under a gag order imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, limiting their out-of-court statements about the case.

A report in The Wall Street Journal last year said investigators from the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman were examining loans that Manafort obtained in connection with various real estate transactions, including mortgages issued by Federal Savings Bank. That and other articles also noted that the bank’s chairman, Stephen Calk, was an economic adviser to the Trump campaign.

A spokeswoman for the bank did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Friday night.

Manafort has been under house arrest at his condominium in Alexandria, Virginia, since he was indicted in October along with Rick Gates, a business partner and Trump campaign deputy.

Jackson has signaled a willingness to release Manafort in exchange for $10 million in security, but prosecutors, the judge and defense lawyers have been at odds for months over various formulations Manafort has proposed to post that collateral. The latest proposal involves two properties in New York, including a Trump Tower condo, as well as Virginia real estate in Arlington and Fairfax counties.

Jackson met with both sides behind closed doors for more than an hour on Wednesday to discuss the bail issue, but there was no indication of any resolution.

The judge has yet to set a trial date in the case, but she suggested last month that a trial starting in September or October might be feasible.
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/ ... ons-416509


WHY RUMORS OF A NEW PLEA DEAL SHOULD TERRIFY TRUMP
Rick Gates is reportedly in the final stages of a negotiation that could lead back to the campaign.

BY ABIGAIL TRACY
FEBRUARY 16, 2018 11:24 AM
Rick Gates & Robert Mueller
Rick Gates departs Federal District Court, in Washington D.C.; Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill.
Left, by Alex Brandon; right, by J. Scott Applewhite, both from AP/REX/Shutterstock.
Even among some of Donald Trump’s allies, there is a sense of astonishment at the White House’s handling of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “It’s like no one took down the Gambino family,” Steve Bannon told Chris Whipple in a book adaptation the Hive published this week. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates is a made man!” Indeed, Mueller, who led the F.B.I. takedown of the infamous crime family in the early 1990s, famously cutting a deal with Sammy the Bull to flip on mob boss John Gotti, appears to be executing what some have called a “Gambino-style roll-up.” First, he flipped former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; then, he turned ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, CNN reports, Mueller appears to be in the final stages of a plea deal with Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman and a longtime business associate of Manafort, who was indicted alongside him last fall.

The White House reportedly views Gates’s testimony as a threat to Manafort, and not to the president. “There'd be no anxiety here,” a White House official told CNN when asked about the possibility that Gates will cut a deal. The charges against the two, after all, had nothing do with Russian collusion; the 12 counts included failure to register as a foreign agent, false and misleading statements related to that registration, and seven counts of improper foreign financial reporting—all as part of a broader conspiracy to launder millions of dollars from their consulting work in Ukraine into the United States. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and is fighting the charges. But Gates, who has also pleaded not guilty, has been grappling with financial troubles and difficulties with his legal team. According to CNN, he has been in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team of F.B.I. investigators for about a month, and has already given an interview in which he would have revealed any knowledge he might have of criminal activity that could be traded for leniency or immunity in sentencing.

What this means for the White House isn’t exactly clear. While Manafort’s reign as campaign chairman and Gates’s role as his deputy were short-lived, the duo oversaw a series of events and interactions that have come under intense scrutiny in the ongoing Justice Department probe. Manafort and Gates ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, during which Donald Trump Jr. held his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. They were also on board during the Republican National Convention, where a number of Trump campaign officials and surrogates met with Russian officials and campaign officials altered the language of the official G.O.P. platform on Ukraine to be more sympathetic to Russian interests. While Manafort was replaced by Bannon after The New York Times alleged that handwritten ledgers showed millions in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort in Ukraine—a claim Manafort denies—Gates continued to work with the Trump campaign through the transition, and served as a senior official on Trump’s inaugural committee.

It is entirely possible that Gates is only providing Mueller with additional evidence against Manafort, and not against Trump. But news of his cooperation should still worry the White House. As he did in the Gotti case, Mueller has moved systematically through the lower ranks of Trumpworld up through the president’s inner circle in his efforts to shake out the truth. In December, Hope Hicks—the White House communications director and Trump’s longest serving adviser—reportedly met with the special prosecutor’s team. And Bannon, who served as White House senior strategist after the election, sat for approximately 20 hours’ worth of interviews over the span of multiple days earlier this week. A request for an interview with the president himself is likely next. All the while, Mueller is presumably gathering evidence he can leverage higher up the food chain, and potentially against Trump. While Gates may only flip on Manafort, it is entirely possible that Manafort might then be compelled to give up something better.


For now, the most significant facts in the case remain under lock. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the panel has discovered evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, as well as evidence of subsequent obstruction. “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation,” Schiff told reporters. Whether that information is actionable remains to be seen. According to the White House’s own budget request, the administration expects Mueller’s investigation to continue well into next year, despite repeated assurances from the president’s legal team that it was approaching a conclusion. If Gates has the goods, perhaps it will end sooner.
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02 ... nald-trump


seemslikeadream » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:57 pm wrote:Manafort is facing up to 80 years in prison if convicted of all charges:

Former Trump aide Rick Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say

By DAVID WILLMAN
FEB 18, 2018 | 11:25 AM
| WASHINGTON

Former Trump aide Rick Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say
Rick Gates departs U.S. District Court on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Washington. (Alex Brandon / AP)

A former top aide to Donald Trump's presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days – and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul J. Manafort Jr., the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.
The change of heart by Trump's former deputy campaign manager, Richard W. Gates III, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort's, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case.
"Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,'' said a person with direct knowledge of the new developments, adding that the revised plea will be presented in federal court in Washington "within the next few days.''
That individual and others who discussed the matter spoke on condition of anonymity, citing a judge's gag order restricting comments about the case to the news media or public.
Gates' defense lawyer, Thomas C. Green, did not respond to messages left by phone and email. Peter Carr, a spokesman for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, declined on Saturday to comment.
Mueller is heading the prosecutions of Gates and Manafort as part of the wide-ranging investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his aides committed crimes before, during or since the campaign.
The imminent change of Gates' plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller's prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.
According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect "a substantial reduction in his sentence'' if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said that Gates is apt to serve about 18 months in prison.
The delicate terms reached by the opposing lawyers, he said, will not be specified in writing: Gates "understands that the government may move to reduce his sentence if he substantially cooperates – but it won't be spelled out.''
One of the final discussion points has centered on exactly how much cash or other valuables – derived from Gates' allegedly illegal activity – that the government will require him to forfeit as part of the guilty plea.
Gates, 45, who is married with four children, does not appear to be well positioned financially to sustain a high-powered legal defense.
"He can't afford to pay it,'' said one lawyer who is involved with the investigation. "If you go to trial on this, that's $1 million to $1.5 million. Maybe more, if you need experts'' to appear as witnesses.
The Oct. 27 indictment showed that prosecutors had amassed substantial documentation to buttress their charges that both Manafort and Gates – who were colleagues in political consulting for about a decade – had engaged in a complex series of allegedly illegal transactions rooted in Ukraine. The indictment alleged that both men, who for years were unregistered agents of the Ukraine government, hid millions of dollars of Ukraine-based payments from U.S. authorities.
According to the indictment, Gates and Manafort "laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts'' and took steps to evade related U.S. taxes.
If Manafort maintains his not-guilty plea and fights the charges at a trial, the testimony from Gates could provide Mueller's team with first-person descriptions of much of the allegedly illegal conduct. Gates' testimony, said a person familiar with the pending guilty plea, would place a "cherry on top'' of the government's already-formidable case against Manafort.
The same individual said he did not believe Gates has information to offer Mueller's team that would "turn the screws on Trump.'' The president has repeatedly called the special counsel's investigation a "witch hunt.''
Gates joined Trump's presidential campaign in June 2016, when the candidate hired Manafort as its chairman. At the Republican National Convention the next month, Gates directly handled the campaign's operations as Manafort's top aide.
Perhaps the most controversial step taken by Trump's campaign at the convention concerned how the U.S. should deal with the tense relations between Russia and Ukraine, which repudiated Moscow in a 2014 revolt.
When a delegate proposed that the Republican platform call for "providing lethal defensive weapons'' to Ukraine's military in its struggle against Russian-backed armed forces, the Trump campaign defeated the effort. Instead of U.S. weaponry, the convention platform committee accepted the campaign's substitute language, which offered Ukraine "appropriate assistance.''
In mid-August 2016, Trump fired Manafort following reports of possibly improper payments he had received from a pro-Russia political party aligned with his longtime client, Viktor Yanukovych, who was Ukraine's prime minister from 2010 to 2014.
Gates, however, remained with the Trump campaign through the election, serving as a liaison to the Republican National Committee. He also assisted Trump's inaugural committee.
david.willman@latimes.com
http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-p ... story.html


emptywheel‏

Here's the other part of the story I find odd. Gates is taking a huge risk here. Maybe that's why the lawyers who're trying to ditch Gates wanted to ditch him.
Image

Maybe this claim is why Mueller's not making promises in writing.
Image

Remember, Manafort forwarded Papadopoulos email to Gates saying they had to avoid sending signals.


October 30, 2017/34 Comments/in Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
In response to yesterday’s server hiccups and in anticipation that Mueller is nowhere near done, we expanded our server capacity overnight. If you think you’ll rely on emptywheel reporting on the Mueller probe, please consider a donation to support the site.

There is now some debate about what this footnote, from George Papadopoulos’ plea, means.

On or about May 21, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS emailed another high-ranking Campaign official, with the subject line “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.” The email included the May 4 MFA Email and added: “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”2

2 The government notes that the official forwarded defendant PAPADOPOULOS’s email to another Campaign official (without including defendant PAPADOPOULOS) and stated:

“Let[‘]s discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”

The question is, does this mean the speaker was trying to agree to meetings, but keep it low level to hide the intent to cooperate with Russia, or send a low level person to reject the meeting.

As southpaw has noted, this exchange was actually included in a WaPo post this summer claiming that Papadopoulos was ignored by the campaign. The two campaign officials involved are … Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who were surely shocked to learn Papadopoulos had flipped on them three weeks ago as they pled not guilty today.

Several weeks later, Papadopoulos forwarded the same message from Timofeev to Manafort, the newly named campaign chairman.

“Russia has been eager to meet with Mr. Trump for some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss,” the adviser told Manafort.

Manafort reacted coolly, forwarding the email to his associate Rick Gates, with a note: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips.”

Gates agreed and told Manafort he would ask the campaign’s correspondence coordinator to handle it — “the person responding to all mail of non-importance” — to signify this did not need a senior official to respond.

Already, it’s clear that whoever shared this content with WaPo was spinning, hiding the context.

But the complaint against Papadopoulos written to support an arrest this July says something different. It shows that on July 14, Papadopoulos wrote Timofeev proposing an August or September meeting in the UK.

On or about July 14, 2016, PAPADOPOULOS emailed Foreign Contact 2 and proposed a “meeting for August or September in the UK (London) with me and my national chairman, and maybe one other foreign policy advisor and you, members of president putin’s office and the mfa to hold a day of consultants and to meet one another. It has been approved from our side.”

That is, less than two months later, Papadopoulous at least claimed that a meeting including Manafort had been approved, though not including Trump.

Mind you, back to the plea, by August 15 it was decided just Papadopoulous and an unnamed “another foreign policy advisor to the Campaign” [which WaPo has identified as Sam Clovis] should “make the trip[], if it is feasible.” But it then says that the meeting did not take place.

That’s likely not because at that time, August 15, Manafort was being ousted from the campaign because his corrupt ties to Ukraine (basically, the stuff he got indicted on today) was causing a scandal. Which is to say that particular meeting didn’t happen (though Papadopoulos remained on the campaign and — in Facebook messaging he tried to destroy after meeting with the FBI — remained in contact with his Russian handlers as late as October 1), but it didn’t happen not because Manafort wasn’t game, but because Manafort’s ties to Russia became toxic, precisely the kind of “signal” Manafort was trying to avoid in May.

And the connotation of that May 21 email is important because it shows Manafort’s mindset in the weeks before, on June 9, he met with a Russian lawyer hoping for dirt he likely expected to include stolen Hillary emails.


Image


Malcolm Nance
24m24 minutes ago

With Gates turned state evidence Manafort will plead soon. He will give up Trump, Kushner & Trump jr for a deal. Mueller’s Money laundering end game could come as fast in 60-90 days. Does not mean impeachment but will open up Trump’s tax returns.



seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:22 pm wrote:
FBI investigating potential money transfers from Russian banker to NRA: report
Image
Alexander Torshin's relationship with the National Rifle Association is reportedly under investigation by the FBI.

The FBI is reportedly investigating whether Russian money was funneled through the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump become President.

Federal investigators are targeting Alexander Torshin, a deputy head at Russia’s central bank, who hosted a pair of dinners for a high profile NRA delegation in Moscow in 2015, McClatchy reported on Thursday.

Torshin then reportedly met with Donald Trump Jr. at the NRA’s 2016 convention.

The gun lobbying group reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, $30 million of which went to supporting Trump’s bid.

Bannon to talk with prosecutors working on Mueller's Russia probe

The figure is triple what the NRA spent four years earlier in the general election for Republican Mitt Romney.

Most of the money was channeled through a branch of the NRA that is not required to disclose donors.

McClatchy reported that two people with close connections to the powerful lobby said its total election spending was closer to $70 million.

The FBI is trying to determine if the uptick in spending was the product of under the table cash coming from Torshin and other Russians.

Trump associate Rick Gates released from home confinement

It’s unclear when the probe into Torshin began, and how much cash he spent.

Special counsel Robert Mueller took over the federal probe into whether anyone in the Trump campaign cooperated with the Kremlin to help the presidential candidate last May.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee also have taken an interest in Torshin, according to McClatchy.

Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, the company behind the infamous Trump dossier, told the House Intelligence Committee in sworn testimony that Russians had infiltrated the NRA, according to a transcript released Thursday.

“(T)hey seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA,” Simpson told lawmakers.

The NRA admitted last year that it made multiple errors in the accounting of its 2016 election campaign expenditures, according to letters it sent to the Federal Election Commission.

The organization blamed flawed software for the mistakes, which, in some instances, resulted in “a double accounting for the same transaction.”

Last summer, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield denied any links between the group and Torshin or other Russians.

Bannon issued first grand jury subpoena in Mueller’s Russia probe

FEC regulations and federal law prohibit foreign nationals from giving to election efforts, including “directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process” or passing money through other entities such as labor unions or corporations.

The U.S. intelligence community determined that Kremlin officials all the way up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is close to Torshin, engaged in a campaign to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

Much of the alleged effort was centered around the hacking of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign aide emails, though investigators have also been looking at potential financial ties and other avenues.

The NRA endorsed Trump as he was wrapping up the Republican nomination and pronounced his support of the Second Amendment.

Torshin is a longtime associate of the group and attended annual meetings for years, including its 2016 convention where he met with Trump Jr. and reportedly tried to set up a meeting with the candidate himself.

He also has his own Russian gun rights group and met with a delegation from the pro-gun lobbying group in late 2015, a party that included Trump-supporting former sheriff David Clarke.

The trip, which included meetings with a host of Russian government and business figures, coincided with former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s own trip to Moscow, which was paid for by state broadcaster RT.
Image
An NRA delegation including then-Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke went to Russia in 2015.

Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with investigators.

Torshin was previously accused by Spanish investigators of laundering money through banks in the country for Russian mobsters.

One of his partners in a planned hotel deal on the Spanish island of Mallorca landed in prison after pleading guilty to fraud.

It is not clear how much money changed hands between Torshin and the NRA, which, along with the Russian Central Bank and the FBI, did not comment on the report.

Mueller’s probe has heated up in recent weeks after reports that it has moved from focusing on contacts between Trump officials and Russians to more money-related matters.

Deutsche Bank, the German lender that Trump has done extensive business with, reportedly received a subpoena from the special counsel’s office, though the President’s lawyers have denied that it is about him personally.

A report from Buzzfeed on Wednesday also said that investigators were looking into suspicious money transfers from the Russian government into the United States, though the Russian Embassy in Washington said that all of its financial actions were above-board.

Mueller has already leveled serious charges against several Trump associates.

Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates have pleaded not guilty to charges including money laundering.

Like Flynn, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos admitted to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with the probe.
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nationa ... -1.3763792



seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:06 am wrote:
JARED’S CLEARANCE AND THE FOREIGN POLICY VERSION OF CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD AMERICA

February 21, 2018/6 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Financial Fraud, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel

I confess there is no multi-day Trump story I’ve looked forward to more than the problem with Jared Kushner’s clearance. And it is officially here. Last night, the NYT described how Jared is butting heads with John Kelly over whether he’ll lose clearance under Kelly’s post-Rob Porter mandate that people who can’t be cleared won’t be kept around anymore.

Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access, the officials said. In the talks, the officials say, Mr. Kushner has insisted that he maintain his current level of access, including the ability to review the daily intelligence briefing when he sees fit.


Today CNN and WaPo weigh in, with CNN nodding towards the conflict this will present Trump.

Though a source familiar with the situation said Kushner has not yet appealed to the President directly about his access to highly classified information, those close to Trump believe he would be inclined to grant his son-in-law access if asked. This source pointed to the fact that Kushner is part of the President’s family and has outlasted all of his rivals in Trump’s inner circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former deputy campaign manager David Bossie.

Trump, however, has given Kelly his full support in efforts to reform the White House’s system of security clearances, and has told his chief of staff that changes need to be made to bring the system into order, according to a person who has spoken to him about the matter. Kelly has interpreted that as a wide-ranging mandate that would include Kushner, a person familiar with the matter said. The person said Trump and Kelly would likely discuss the matter this week, if they haven’t already, before Kelly’s self-imposed Friday deadline.


WaPo brings the appropriate level of skepticism over whether Kushner can really do his Fake Peace Plan job without clearance.

It is not clear how Kushner could perform his job without a high-level security clearance.

He holds a broad range of responsibilities, from overseeing peace efforts in the Middle East to improving the efficiency of the federal government. And he is the administration’s interlocutor with key allies, including China and Saudi Arabia, where he has developed a personal relationship with the young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

[snip]

And apart from staff on the National Security Council, he issues more requests for information to the intelligence community than any White House employee, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.


More importantly, WaPo includes a series of false bravado quotes from Jared’s defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, who bizarrely offered up his judgement that Jared is speaking with foreign officials “properly.”

“My inquiries to those involved again have confirmed that there are a dozen or more people at Mr. Kushner’s level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for this process to take this long in a new administration, that the current backlogs are being addressed, and no concerns were raised about Mr. Kushner’s application,” he said in a statement.

[snip]

Lowell said Kushner’s job is “to talk with foreign officials, which he has done and continues to do properly.”


I’ve come to think of Kushner’s clearance process in similar terms to the way I’ve thought of the bail process Mueller has used with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates: While Gates ultimately did make bail, Manafort is still (!) almost four months after his arrest, struggling to show enough liquidity free of taint from his money laundering to alter his release conditions. The process of making bail (and having to serially beg to attend his kids’ soccer events) seems to have been one of the factors that brought Gates to the point of flipping, but along the way, he probably gave Mueller’s team far more leverage in plea negotiations, because they know how little Gates actually has to pay a defense attorney to oversee the flip (indeed, that may lie behind the confusion over Gates’ current legal representation).

Kushner’s liquidity problems are literally an order of magnitude greater than these men. But unlike them, he made the idiotic decision to work in the White House, and thereby to undergo the scrutiny of sworn statements laying out all the financial vulnerabilities and foreign entanglements that might make him susceptible to blackmail.

Which brings me back to my description of how Mueller is leveraging “conspiracy to defraud the United States” (what I will henceforward refer to as ConFraudUS*) charges to prosecute political influence peddling for which our regulatory system has completely collapsed. With the Internet Research Agency indictment, Mueller charged ConFraudUS because the trolls bypassed a campaign finance system that no longer works. With Manafort and Gates, Mueller charged ConFraudUS because they bypassed Foreign Agents Registration Act requirements that have never been enforced.

In the old days, to pursue the kind of quid pro quo we see outlines of, in which Trump officials (from George Papadopoulos’ proposed business with Sergei Millian to the possibility Kushner might get bailed out by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is itself a cut-out for the sanctioned Vnesheconombank, whose head, Sergey Gorkov, Kushner met in December 2016), you’d pursue bribery. But post-Bob McDonnell, bribery is a far tougher charge to make stick, as Mueller prosecutor Andrew Goldstein, who worked on the Sheldon Silver prosecution team, knows well.

What if, however, you could charge people whose meetings seamlessly tie the foreign policy decisions of the United States with discussions of their own financial interests, with ConFraudUS? That might make it easier to charge someone whose foreign policy decisions don’t serve the US interest but might enrich them for the quid pro quo entailed.

Which is why I’m interested in the report that Mueller has shown increased interest (almost certainly tied to Steven Bannon’s public pronouncements that, “It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit”) in Jared’s foreign financial dealings, how he has mixed his business interests and US foreign policy.

One line of questioning from Mueller’s team involves discussions Kushner had with Chinese investors during the transition, according to the sources familiar with the inquiry.
A week after Trump’s election, Kushner met with the chairman and other executives of Anbang Insurance, the Chinese conglomerate that also owns the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, according to The New York Times.
At the time, Kushner and Anbang’s chairman, Wu Xiaohui, were close to finishing a deal for the Chinese insurer to invest in the flagship Kushner Companies property, 666 Fifth Avenue. Talks between the two companies collapsed in March, according to the Times.

Mueller’s team has also asked about Kushner’s dealings with a Qatari investor regarding the same property, according to one of the sources. Kushner and his company were negotiating for financing from a prominent Qatari investor, former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, according to The Intercept. But as with Anbang, these efforts stalled.


Lowell’s false bravado in this report is even more ridiculous than that in the clearance stories.

A representative for Kushner declined to comment prior to the publication of this story. After publication, Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell told CNN in a statement, “Another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts — in all of Mr. Kushner’s extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked nor document sought on the 666 building or Kushner Co. deals. Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions.”


Lowell may not have turned over any documents relating to 666 Fifth Avenue. But Deutsche Bank got subpoenas even before Bannon started running his mouth (albeit in a separate EDNY probe). Moreover, the key detail under my imagined ConFraudUS charge would be whether Kushner did things — like try to get Chinese investors visas — that didn’t serve or indeed violated the interests of the United States. Admittedly, the President gets largely unfettered control over the foreign policy of the United States (though Trump has defied Congress in areas where they do have some control). But to the extent Jared pursued his own business interests during the transition, he wouldn’t be able to claim to rely on presidential prerogative.

Which brings me back to Jared’s long struggle to get a security clearance.

Abbe Lowell may not have turned over the financial documents on 666 Fifth Avenue that would show how susceptible Jared’s debt woes make him to foreign influence. But he has serially provided that evidence in support of Jared’s almost certainly futile attempt to convince the FBI he should get a permanent TS/SCI security clearance.

I laid this out yesterday at the very end of my Democracy Now appearance:

I think—the reason why Kushner’s business deals are important, we’ve talked—and in the intro, this wasn’t the only example of—there’s the Don Jr. We’ve talked about how poorly Trump’s people have separated his business interests from the interests of the country. The same is even more true for Jared Kushner, whose family business is basically bankrupt. And over and over again, he’s been shown to be in negotiations with entities, including Russians, but also Chinese and Middle Eastern. So, you know, he’ll go in and say, “OK, we’ll talk about this grand peace plan,” which is not about peace at all, “but, oh, by the way, can you bail out our 666 Park Avenue building, which is badly underwater?” And I think Mueller could make the same argument he’s made with the IRA indictment and the Manafort indictment, and say that Jared Kushner is pretending to be serving America’s foreign policy interests, but in fact he is just doing his own bidding. He’s just trying to bail out his own company. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s moving towards a very similar indictment on conspiracy to defraud the United States, having to do with his conflicts of interest.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, interesting that Kushner also hasn’t managed to get top security clearance, when he’s a senior adviser to President Trump, as Porter didn’t because he beat his wives, etc. And then you’ve got Donald Jr. now in India promoting Trump businesses, as, of course, Donald Trump is the president of the United States. And he’s standing with the prime minister of India as he does this, promoting the Trump brand, Marcy.

MARCY WHEELER: Exactly. I mean, if Trump and his son and his son-in-law are pretending to be doing the business of the United States but are instead just trying to enrich themselves, again, I don’t think it’s a—you know, we’ve talked about the Emoluments Clause and how you go after the Trump campaign—the Trump officials for their egregious conflicts of interest. And, frankly, it extends into his Cabinet. But what Mueller seems to be doing, with some very good appellate lawyers, by the way, is to be laying out this framework that if you are pretending to be doing something in the interest of the United States but are actually doing something else, serving somebody else’s bidding, whether it’s Russia, pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, or whether it’s your own family business, then they’re going to go after you for a conspiracy charge. And I wouldn’t be surprised if these conspiracy charges all kind of link up at the end, in this kind of grand moment of—I think that’s where he’s headed.


Remember, Trump and his spawn never really thought they’d win the election. Instead, they seemed interested in, among other things, a Trump Tower in Moscow and refinancing 666 Park Avenue. But if they made deals with Russians in hopes such personal financial benefits would result, a ConFraudUS charge might be a way to prosecute them for it.

*I originally shortened this “CTDTUS,” but following Peter Crowley’s suggestion, I’m instead using “ConFraudUS.”
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/02/21/j ... ent-727413



seemslikeadream » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:41 am wrote:
SCHIFF MEMO REVEALS THAT MIFSUD SPECIFICALLY TOLD PAPADOPOULOS RUSSIA WOULD RELEASE HILLARY EMAILS TO HELP TRUMP CAMPAIGN

February 24, 2018/1 Comment/in FISA, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

“If it’s what you say I love it” – Don Jr., gleefully accepting Russian dirt after George Papadopoulos had been told Russia would release emails to help the campaign

HPSCI just released the Schiff memo responding to the Nunes memo. Mostly, it’s underwhelming.

But there is one piece of important news. The memo provides more details about what George Papadopoulos told Australian Ambassador, Alexander Downer, about the Russian outreach via Joseph Mifsud. That passage reads:

George Papadopoulos revealed [redacted] that individuals linked to Russia, who took interest in Papadopoulos as a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, informed him in late April 2016 that Russia [two lines redacted]. Papadopoulos’s disclosure, moreover, occurred against the backdrop of Russia’s aggressive covert campaign to influence our elections, which the FBI was already monitoring. We would later learn in Papadopoulos’s plea that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton emails.

While the description of what Papadopoulos said is redacted, the context makes it clear (as does this Adam Schiff tweet) that Papadopoulos didn’t tell Downer specifically what Russia had told him was available, only that they could release it to help Trump.

But that Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russians were thinking of releasing it to help Trump is news, important news. It means the discussions of setting up increasingly senior levels of meetings between Russia and the Trump campaign took place against the offer of help in the form of released kompromat.

Which, particularly given the evidence that Papadopoulos shared that information with the campaign, makes the June 9 meeting still more damning.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/02/24/s ... -campaign/


THE SILENT CAST OF CHARACTERS IN THE VERY NOISY RECENT MUELLER MOVES

February 24, 2018/0 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

A fuck-ton has happened in the Mueller investigation already this month. Amid the noisy pleas and indictments, we’ve seen indications of hidden cooperation from a range of people, cooperation that may point to where Mueller’s next steps are.

Here, arranged by the date of the development, are hints at who either was or soon is likely to be talking to Mueller’s team.

February 1: In a proffer to Mueller’s team, Rick Gates lied about a March 19, 2013 meeting with Paul Manafort, Vin Weber, and Dana Rohrabacher.

Rohrabacher’s statement in response to the guilty plea is inconsistent with the version laid out in the plea, suggesting he’s not the means by which Mueller’s team learned it was a lie.

After the guilty plea on Friday, a spokesman for Rohrabacher, who has sought better relations with Russia, said: “As the congressman has acknowledged before, the meeting was a dinner with two longtime acquaintances –- Manafort and Weber –- from back in his White House and early congressional days.”

“The three reminisced and talked mostly about politics,” the spokesman said. “The subject of Ukraine came up in passing. It is no secret that Manafort represented Viktor Yanukovych’s interests, but as chairman of the relevant European subcommittee, the congressman has listened to all points of view on Ukraine.”

This suggests someone else provided the version of the meeting the government included in the plea. While it’s possible the other version came from Gates’ former lawyers, it’s more likely the version came from someone else. Vin Weber is the most likely source of that information.

Back in August 2016, as news of the secret ledger was breaking,Weber suggested he may have been misled by Manafort, both as to the purpose of his lobbying and regarding the need to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine. If he felt that way in August 2016, I imagine he came to feel that even more strongly as Manafort’s legal woes intensified.

February 9: Returning a call from John Kelly but speaking to Don McGahn, Rod Rosenstein spoke of “important new information” about Jared Kushner that will delay his clearance.

Given all the evidence that suggests Jared faces very significant exposure in this investigation, this new information could be any number of things. But two possibilities are likely. First, it might reflect Jared’s January 3 disclosure of additional business interests in yet another update to his SF-86, or his family’s increasing debt over the last year.

More likely, it reflects things the government has learned from Mike Flynn (who has an incentive to burn Jared, given that the President’s son-in-law was asked for and didn’t provide exonerating information tied to Flynn’s own lies to the FBI). Indeed, that seems to be one theory of those who reported on this phone call.

Kushner’s actions during the transition have been referenced in the guilty plea of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted he lied to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Prosecutors said Flynn was acting in consultation with a senior Trump transition official, whom people familiar with the matter have identified as Kushner.

All that said, there are two more possibilities. Given that she appears to have lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in her confirmation process, KT McFarland would be an obvious follow-up interview after the Mike Flynn plea; she asked Trump to withdraw her nomination to be Ambassador to Singapore on February 3. And February 9 might be (though probably isn’t, quite) late enough to catch the first sessions of Steve Bannon’s 20 hours of interviews with Mueller, and Bannon has long had it in for Jared.

February 14: Alex Van der Zwaan got caught and pled guilty to lying about communications he had with Rick Gates, Konstantin Kilimnik, and Greg Craig in September 2016. On top of whatever he had to say to prosecutors between his second interview on December 1 and his plea on February 14, both Craig and Skadden Arps have surely provided a great deal of cooperation before and since September 2016. (As I was finishing this, NYT posted this story that details some, but not all, of that cooperation.)

February 16: As I noted in my post on the Internet Research Agency indictment, Rod Rosenstein was quite clear: “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity.” That said, there are three (presumed) Americans who, both the indictment and subsequent reporting make clear, are treated differently in the indictment than all the other Americans cited as innocent people duped by Russians: Campaign Official 1, Campaign Official 2, and Campaign Official 3. We know, from CNN’s coverage of Harry Miller’s role in building a cage to be used in a fake “jailed Hillary” stunt, that at least some other people described in the indictment were interviewed — in his case, for six hours! — by the FBI. But no one else is named using the convention to indicate those not indicted but perhaps more involved in the operation. Furthermore, the indictment doesn’t actually describe what action (if any) these three Trump campaign officials took after being contacted by trolls emailing under false names.

On approximately the same day, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the email address of a false U.S. persona, joshmilton024@gmail.com, to send an email to Campaign Official 1 at that donaldtrump.com email account, which read in part:

Hello [Campaign Official 1], [w]e are organizing a state-wide event in Florida on August, 20 to support Mr. Trump. Let us introduce ourselves first. “Being Patriotic” is a grassroots conservative online movement trying to unite people offline. . . . [W]e gained a huge lot of followers and decided to somehow help Mr. Trump get elected. You know, simple yelling on the Internet is not enough. There should be real action. We organized rallies in New York before. Now we’re focusing on purple states such as Florida.


The email also identified thirteen “confirmed locations” in Florida for the rallies and requested the campaign provide “assistance in each location.”

[snip]

Defendants and their co-conspirators used the false U.S. persona joshmilton024@gmail.com account to send an email to Campaign Official 2 at that donaldtrump.com email account.

[snip]

On or about August 20, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the “Matt Skiber” Facebook account to contact Campaign Official 3.


Again, the DOJ convention of naming makes it clear these people have not been charged with anything. But we know from other Mueller indictments that those specifically named (which include the slew of Trump campaign officials named in the George Papadopoulos plea, KT McFarland and Jared Kushner in the Flynn plea, Kilimnik in the Van der Zwaan plea, and the various companies and foreign leaders that did Manafort’s bidding, including the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs in his indictment) may be the next step in the investigation. As a reminder: Florida Republicans are those who most tangibly can be shown to have benefitted from Russia’s hack-and-leak, given that Guccifer 2.0 leaked a slew of Democratic targeting data for the state. (In perhaps related news, this week Tom Rooney became the third Florida Republican member of Congress to announce his retirement this cycle, which is all the more interesting given that he’s been involved in the HPSCI investigation into Russian tampering.)

February 23: Manafort’s superseding indictment (a version of which was originally filed February 16) added the description of the Hapsburg Group for former European officials who lobbied at the direction (to some degree via cut-outs) of Manafort.

MANAFORT explained in an “EYES ONLY” memorandum created in or about June 2012 that the purpose of the “SUPER VIP” effort would be to “assemble a small group of high-level European highly influencial [sic] champions and politically credible friends who can act informally and without any visible relationship with the Government of Ukraine.” The group was managed by a former European Chancellor, Foreign Politician A, in coordination with MANAFORT.


It may be that the government only recently obtained this document (meaning it was not among the 590,000 pages of documents obtained and turned over to Manafort in discovery thus far). But it’s likely this also reflects further testimony. Former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer denied he is Foreign Politician A to BBC, though that may be a non-denial denial tied to his claim he wasn’t directed by Manafort and only met him a few times (this Austrian story suggests only he doesn’t remember what American or English firm paid him). NYT reported that Gusenbauer’s lobbying during the relevant time period was registered under Mercury Public Affairs. This is another piece of evidence suggesting the group — and Vin Weber personally — has been cooperating since the original indictment.

Note, I assume that Mercury/Weber’s cooperation has been mirrored by Tony Podesta’s.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/02/24/t ... ler-moves/


This is a big statement. Schiff confirms that Carter Page was told about Clinton's emails

Adam Schiff‏

Wrong again, Mr. President. It confirms the FBI acted appropriately and that Russian agents approached two of your advisors, and informed your campaign that Russia was prepared to help you by disseminating stolen Clinton emails.


Schiff Memo Reveals that Mifsud Specifically Told Papadopoulos Russia Would Release Hillary Emails *to Help Trump Campaign*


John Dean Retweeted Ken Dilanian
Mueller is throwing everything he can against Manafort, including Gates who can nail him. Increasingly it appears Manafort is the link to Russian collusion. If Gates can testify that Manafort was acting with Trump’s blessings, it’s the end of his presidency. That’s substantial.John Dean added,

Ken Dilanian

While the charges to which Gates pleaded guilty carry a prison term of up to 71 months under federal guidelines, his agreement could result in probation if he cooperates substantially, @PeteWilliamsNBC reports


John Dean

A number of folks have expressed concern in this Manafort thread that Trump will pardon him. Many of the counts in both the VA and DC indictments have state law counterparts that can be charged in NY and VA, where Trump had no pardon power. Checkmate is coming for Paul Manafort.


John Dean‏Verified

Emptywheel, I don’t know if McGahn is a target. You’re right he could be. I was not charged rather plead, when I realized what I had done. Before Watergate no one had heard of obstruction, which is no excuse. Stupidity often topped sinester in planning. That will be true here.

Walter Shaub

McGahn, who comes from the Wild west land of election law, always seems surprised when he bumps up against an actual law.



Stupidity often topped sinester in planning



seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:47 pm wrote:
The Professor At The Center Of The Russia-Trump Probe Boasted To His Girlfriend In Ukraine That He Was Friends With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

A Ukrainian woman named Anna says Joseph Mifsud asked her to marry him in a restaurant overlooking the Kremlin. Later, he allegedly told a Trump campaign aide that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. She hasn’t heard from him since that news broke in October.

Alberto NardelliFebruary 27, 2018, at 11:11 a.m.
Joseph Mifsud
Provided to BuzzFeed News / Laura Gallant
Amid the opportunists, weirdos, trolls, and pawns who make up the cast of the Russian plot to interfere in American politics, Joseph Mifsud stands out.

The Maltese professor, who allegedly delivered word of Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails to Donald Trump's campaign, is an authentically mysterious figure, his true role and ties to Russian intelligence unclear.

And while others like former Trump campaign aides George Papadopoulos and Carter Page — and their friends and girlfriends — told their stories, Mifsud went to ground. His biography disappeared from one university where he taught and he quit his job at another university. His email and cell phones went dead. And politicians, colleagues, and journalists can't find him.

Neither can Anna, his 31-year-old Ukrainian fiancé, who says he is the father of her newborn child. And her story, snatched from the pages of a John le Carré novel, offers a glimpse at the human collateral damage of an intelligence operation in which the mysterious Mifsud was allegedly a central figure.

Anna, whom BuzzFeed News has agreed to identify only by her first name because she doesn’t want the attention, says she was seven months pregnant and engaged to Mifsud when he became the focus of world media attention as the professor who told Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton.

Shortly thereafter, he dropped from sight. He also cut off all contact with Anna, including phone calls and WhatsApp messages. That silence has held, even six weeks after the daughter Anna says he fathered was born.

“He never helped me,” she said. “Only talk and promises.”

BuzzFeed News first contacted Anna in October. She refused to talk then, saying her relationship with Mifsud was private. According to WhatsApp messages she later shared, she told the professor about BuzzFeed News’ attempt to speak to her — and in his very last WhatsApp message to Anna, Mifsud asked her not to talk to journalists.
Image

Provided to BuzzFeed News
Now, however, feeling deceived, she’s changed her mind. The result is new information about Mifsud’s activities, including his claim of having dined with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.

“He said, ‘I have dinner with Lavrov tonight. Lavrov is my friend. Lavrov this, Lavrov that,’” Anna said. “He even show me picture with Lavrov.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In a series of WhatsApp messages sent in May 2017, Mifsud also told Anna he was in Saudi Arabia at the same time as President Donald Trump’s visit, and in Sicily, Italy, for the G7 Summit.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Mifsud did not respond to repeated requests for comment, which BuzzFeed News made to multiple phone numbers and email accounts, as well as via WhatsApp and Signal. Several of his family members, colleagues, and Facebook friends also did not return requests for comment. Mifsud acknowledged in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published last November that he met former Trump campaign aide Papadopoulos “three or four times,” and facilitated connections between "official and unofficial sources," but denied any wrongdoing.

In addition to meeting Anna in Kiev, BuzzFeed News spoke to her multiple times in the past month over Facebook messenger, via WhatsApp, on the telephone, and in a video call.

She provided access to her entire WhatsApp history with Mifsud. She also shared dozens of photos of the couple together, including in Ukraine and Russia. BuzzFeed News has seen many photos of the baby and of Anna during different stages of her pregnancy and at the clinic where she gave birth. Anna also said that she wants to do a DNA test to prove that Mifsud is the father of the baby.

Parts of the conversation with Anna in the Ukrainian capital were in her fractured English, and others took place through an interpreter. Some quotes have been edited for clarity.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Anna told BuzzFeed News that she first met Mifsud about four years ago at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

He approached her while she was taking a selfie and, using English, offered to take her picture. They spoke for a bit, and he invited her to dinner, she said.

The two met again in Moscow a few months later — and “then he came to Ukraine,” Anna said, “to celebrate my niece’s birthday.”

Over the next three years, Mifsud visited Ukraine about 10 times, Anna said. “He came to celebrate a New Year, birthdays, my sister’s baby. He knew all my family. Something we celebrate, he would come. We had a good relationship,” she said.

In late October 2015, Mifsud proposed to her. Anna says they were at a restaurant overlooking the Kremlin in Moscow celebrating Anna’s sister’s birthday. The Maltese academic asked Anna to marry him at the restaurant, and gave her a ring.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
“We had a plan to live in Rome. We spoke about this, but only speak,” Anna, who works in marketing, said. “He tell me, I want a baby with you, I want a family with you.”

When the couple split up for a few months in 2016, Mifsud sent her an email asking her to return the ring and handbags, one of which was a Chanel handbag that Mifsud had bought for her during a visit to Rome in spring 2015. In the Italian capital, they stayed in a hotel where “people came to see him all the time,” Anna said.
Image

Provided to BuzzFeed News
According to Anna’s WhatsApp messages, he often shared news of his activities, sending Anna links to his interviews and photos from events he was speaking at, and telling her about his work as a professor at the now-closed London Academy of Diplomacy.

But he also had a secretive side. According to Anna, he asked her to delete photos from Facebook where she could be seen drinking, after she uploaded one holding a cocktail. “He said, ‘because I am important man.’” He also demanded she unfriend anyone she hadn’t met in person.

Over the course of what Anna describes as an on-and-off relationship spanning three years, the couple saw each other in Rome, Moscow, and Kiev. But unlike in Rome and Moscow, where Mifsud frequently received visitors, Mifsud didn’t use his trips to Ukraine to network. “He didn’t meet people in Kiev. ‘Russia-Ukraine relationship not good, and I do a lot of work in Moscow,’” Anna recalled Mifsud saying.

Anna said she and Mifsud last met in person in Kiev in early April 2017. He told her then that he had recently been questioned by the FBI in the US, she said.

“He told me he was in his hotel room when he was called downstairs by reception. It was the FBI. He said they wanted to talk about connections he set up between people in Britain and Russia.”

“He said his phone was probably being checked,” Anna added.

In mid-May, about a month after Mifsud left Kiev, Anna found out she was pregnant. And six weeks ago she gave birth to a baby girl.

After finding out that she was pregnant, according to WhatsApp messages seen by BuzzFeed News, Mifsud repeatedly told Anna he really wanted to see her and promised to visit her soon, but he never did, often making excuses or citing health reasons.

“For 7 months, 'I come, I come,'” Anna said. “He never helped me. Only talk and promises.”

Mifsud at first expressed “shock” at the news of Anna’s pregnancy. He asked if she slept with anyone during a recent work trip she’d made to Denmark and Norway, and whether she wanted to keep the baby.

But in later messages, he put his initial reaction down to being surprised and told Anna that he was “super excited” and that the “child will have great parents.”

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
In messages sent in late September, Mifsud wrote, “You will be the most beautiful mummy … I cannot stop thinking of you.” In another message, he wrote, “I am so proud of youuuuu I think we need to get a nanny to help you.”

But there were also signs that Mifsud was not as enthusiastic as he portrayed himself, and the tone of their messages changed in the final months of her pregnancy. The professor stopped answering the phone and would reply only to Anna’s WhatsApp messages, saying he was ill with heart problems or in the hospital, but promising to fly to her as soon as he was given the green light.

In one message, Anna accused Mifsud of backtracking on a promise to help her. He replied by saying he couldn’t recall any promises, and that he continued to be ill. And, apparently casting doubt on the child’s paternity, he wrote that once he was well again, they would do the DNA test that Anna had been asking for.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
In late October, he told her in a message that he was “fighting to live.”

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Just days later, on Nov. 1, one day after Papadopoulos’s guilty plea was unsealed in Washington, La Repubblica published an interview with him at the Rome university where he was working, in which he acknowledged being the unnamed professor referenced in the court documents in which investigators allege that Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. The journalist who did the interview said in an email that it had taken place the previous day.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
When Mifsud’s name was thrust upon the world stage, the WhatsApp messages stopped.

Anna says that she was surprised by the news of the allegations. “I really believed he was sick,” she said.

“I am angry with myself. I did not see what he really is!” Anna wrote in a Facebook message last month. “Joseph only promised me...many promises.”

In what was one of Mifsud’s last messages to her, the 57-year-old professor wrote — after she reminded him that the baby was due soon and that they hadn’t seen one another in months — that either she give him time to recover or their paths would go different ways.

“We still need to speak face to face,” he said, apparently referencing the baby. “We never did.”

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Mifsud remains one of the mysteries in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible Trump campaign collusion. According to court documents, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russians had thousands of emails from Democrats in April 2016, two months before the Democrats themselves were aware that their computer system had been hacked. Mifsud told Papadopoulos he’d learned of the emails during a trip to Russia, but who told him is unknown.

Papadopoulos is reported to have later shared the information with the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, whose government passed the information to US authorities after WikiLeaks began publishing the emails in July 2016. That information sparked the FBI to launch the investigation that Mueller now leads.

Exactly how Mifsud and Papadopoulos met also is not publicly known, though Papadopoulos is cooperating with the Mueller probe. Mifsud allegedly showed little interest in Papadopoulos until he learned that Papadopoulos had been named to Trump’s campaign.

Mifsud’s professional ventures before the Papadopoulos guilty plea are also in dispute. Papadopoulos’s fiancé, Simona Mangiante, whom Mifsud hired in 2016 to work at the grand-sounding London Centre of International Law Practice, another UK-based organization where the Maltese academic held a senior position, told BuzzFeed News that she never understood what the organization did.

“I never understood if it was a facade for something else,” she said when reached by phone in January. “It wasn’t a serious thing. For starters, I never understood what I was doing there, and they never paid me for three months, so I just said ‘OK, enough.’”

The center did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked for her thoughts on Mifsud, Mangiante said, “My impression [is that] he was not a transparent person and I never understood what he was really doing.”
https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardell ... fwrWxkM41G



Image

New Mueller bombshell hints that Rick Gates may have delivered the goods in Trump-Russia probe

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller has now proposed dropping charges against former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, in what might be the strongest sign yet that Gates has given the investigation significant information related to its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As reported by Politico’s Kyle Cheney, the special counsel’s office has officially proposed dropping 17 separate charges against Gates from a superseding indictment that it issued last week.


Gates, who served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman during the 2016 presidential election, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal investigators last week. Gates’ guilty plea came shortly after the special counsel’s office issued a new 32-count indictment against Gates and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager who faces charges related to money laundering and tax fraud.https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/new-mu ... sia-probe/



Mueller just made a move indicating Rick Gates has something of significant value to offer him
Sonam Sheth
3h 31,727

A federal court in Virginia granted the special counsel Robert Mueller's request to dismiss more than 20 charges brought against Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Gates pleaded guilty last week to two counts and is cooperating with the special counsel's office.
Mueller's decision to drop the charges indicates Gates most likely has something of significant value to offer him.
A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday granted a motion by the special counsel Robert Mueller's office to dismiss several charges brought against Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

The charges were brought on Thursday in a 32-count superseding indictment that accused Gates and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, of financial crimes related to tax and bank fraud. Gates was charged with 24 counts related to tax fraud, bank fraud, bank-fraud conspiracy, and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Gates pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of making a false statement to federal investigators.

He and Manafort had also been charged in October with 12 counts including conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, making false and misleading statements, and failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Manafort has since maintained his innocence.

Gates was a key player during critical moments surrounding the 2016 US election, and the motion to dismiss the charges against him is most likely a sign he has something of value to offer Mueller, who's investigating Russia's interference in the election.

Gates joined the Trump campaign in early 2016 and worked as a deputy under Manafort, then the campaign chairman. Manafort stepped down that August after news reports surfaced about his murky ties to Ukraine's pro-Russia Party of Regions — and as Trump slumped in polls.

But even after Manafort's departure, Gates maintained a significant role in the campaign's operations, reportedly at the request of Steve Bannon, who became the head of the campaign.

In addition to working as an intermediary between the campaign and the Republican National Committee in 2016, Gates frequently traveled with Trump and later served as an adviser on the inaugural committee after Trump's election in November.

Gates was eventually ousted from a pro-Trump lobbying group in April amid questions about Russia's interference in the election, but he continued to visit the White House as late as June, according to The Daily Beast.

Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor, said in an email Tuesday that last week's 32-count indictment, which was filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, could be described as a "rocket docket."

"Their cases move as or more quickly than cases anywhere else in the country," Sandick said. "Gates would need to plead guilty to these counts in the next couple of months and then be sentenced promptly — in three or four months."

He added that Mueller would most likely need more time than that to "harvest Gates' cooperation."

"Once the cooperating defendant is sentenced, the prosecutor has much less leverage to encourage cooperation," Sandick said.

But because judges in the district typically do not adjourn sentencing, Mueller opted to dismiss the charges "without prejudice," Sandick said, which ensures they could be reinstated in the future if needed.
http://www.businessinsider.com/mueller- ... sed-2018-2


A self-described sex expert says she will spill information on Trump and Russia to get out of a Thai jail

Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, on whose yacht Nastya Rybka said she shot some compromising video. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
MOSCOW — A self-described sex expert whose videos highlighted the ties between one of Russia’s richest men and the Kremlin has been jailed in Thailand and is calling for U.S. help, claiming she has information about links between Russia and President Trump.

Anastasia Vashukevich, an escort-service worker from Belarus who catapulted to a certain measure of fame after filming a yacht trip with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, was detained in Thailand over the weekend in a police raid on her “sex training” seminar. While still in custody on Tuesday, she published Instagram videos asking U.S. journalists and intelligence agencies to help her.

Deripaska, with whom Vashukevich said she had an affair, used to employ former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. But Vashukevich, better known by the alias Nastya Rybka, provided no evidence on Tuesday to back up the claim that she had new information to offer related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A post to her Instagram account showed her sitting on the floor of what was described as a Thai jail cell and said she was sick.

“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump,” Vashukevich said in a live Instagram video Tuesday, apparently shot as she was driven in an open-air police van through the Thai resort city of Pattaya. “In exchange for help from U.S. intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison.”

Vashukevich said in her video that she had already given an interview to U.S. broadcaster NBC. Representatives for Vashukevich and Deripaska did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny made Vashukevich famous last month after he broadcast old footage from her Instagram account showing an August 2016 yacht trip with Deripaska and Prikhodko. Navalny used the footage to allege that Deripaska, a metals magnate, had bribed Prikhodko, one of Russia’s most influential government officials, with the luxury getaway accompanied by women from an escort service.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends an opposition march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow on Feb. 25. / AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images
Navalny also speculated that Deripaska and Prikhodko may have served as a link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in 2016, though Vashukevich’s videos offered no proof. According to emails described to The Washington Post last year, Manafort — who once worked for Deripaska — directed an associate to offer Deripaska “private briefings” about Trump’s presidential campaign. A Deripaska spokeswoman said he was never offered such briefings.

Prikhodko called Navalny a “political loser” whose investigation combined “the possible and the impossible.” Deripaska said Navalny’s “allegations have nothing to do with reality” and sued Vashukevich for violating his privacy. A court ordered Instagram to remove some of Vashukevich’s posts.

According to her Instagram account, Vashukevich was in Dubai when Navalny’s video came out and then traveled to the Thai beach resort of Pattaya. On Sunday, according to Russian news reports, Thai police raided a sex seminar for Russian tourists in which Vashukevich was participating. Attendees paid more than $600 each for a five-day course, Russian media said.

A video from a Thai morning news broadcast showed the police operation. Some of those detained were working without a permit, one of the TV hosts said. “Why do they have to use Thailand to teach this course?” he added.


Russian Embassy consul Vladimir Sosnov told the RIA Novosti Russian state news agency that Vashukevich and several others were detained for being part of an “illegal training session” and that she and her companions would be put on trial and deported. But Vashukevich claimed on Tuesday that she was arrested on orders of Russian officials as payback for her video of Deripaska and Prikhodko and that she expected to be sent to Russia, where she would be jailed again.

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“Please USA save us from Russia!” said a post in English on her Instagram account. “All this cases are political repressions!”

Coincidentally or not, one of Russia’s most important security and intelligence officials was also in Thailand on Tuesday. Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, former head of the Federal Security Service, held talks Tuesday in Bangkok on the security of Russian tourists, RIA Novosti reported.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wor ... e50075a03f
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


-- empty wheel
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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:52 am

seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:04 pm wrote:
Not Excellent News for Donald Trump
By Josh Marshall | February 27, 2018 9:36 pm

This from CNN could be nothing, just checking off boxes. But it sounds ominous for Donald Trump …

Investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller have recently been asking witnesses about Donald Trump’s business activities in Russia prior to the 2016 presidential campaign as he considered a run for president, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Questions to some witnesses during wide-ranging interviews included the timing of Trump’s decision to seek the presidency, potentially compromising information the Russians may have had about him, and why efforts to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through, two sources said.

The article elaborates on these points – in questioning other witnesses, Mueller’s investigators are asking about when Donald Trump became serious about running for President, how this chronology overlapped with various business ventures, who paid for what on his 2013 visit to Russia and what access people had to the now-President to gain compromising information about the President.

Most of the article is not able to get past ‘the questions were asked’. But even in hints and clues you can see the storyline and chain of events beginning to draw tight.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/no ... nald-trump





Mueller team asks about Trump's Russian business dealings as he weighed a run for president
By Kara Scannell, Pamela Brown, Gloria Borger and Jim Sciutto, CNN

Updated 8:31 PM ET, Tue February 27, 2018


(CNN)Investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller have recently been asking witnesses about Donald Trump's business activities in Russia prior to the 2016 presidential campaign as he considered a run for president, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Questions to some witnesses during wide-ranging interviews included the timing of Trump's decision to seek the presidency, potentially compromising information the Russians may have had about him, and why efforts to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through, two sources said.
The lines of inquiry indicate Mueller's team is reaching beyond the campaign to explore how the Russians might have sought to influence Trump at a time when he was discussing deals in Moscow and contemplating a presidential run.
Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. The President claims that any investigation of his family's finances would be a breach of the special counsel's mandate.
Two of the sources said they do not know from the questions asked whether Mueller has concrete evidence to indicate wrongdoing.
"You ask everything even if you don't think it's credible," one of the sources said, adding, "the allegations are out there, and it was checking the box."
The special counsel's office, an attorney for the President and the Trump Organization all declined to comment for this story.
Questions about Trump's entry into the campaign
Investigators asked one witness when Trump became serious about running for President, a person familiar with the matter said, adding that investigators seemed very interested in when Trump actually decided to run and how that coincided with his business ventures.
The source said the witness told Mueller's team his impression was that Trump was serious about running back in 2014. Trump tweeted earlier this month that he "didn't know" that he was going to run for president in 2014.
This witness was also asked whether Russians had been seen in the office at Trump Tower New York prior to 2015. The answer was no.
Questions have also touched on the possibility of compromising information that Russians may have or claim to have about Trump, according to two sources familiar with the matter. That subject matter echoes claims in a controversial dossier written by a former British spy who was paid by an opposition research firm underwritten by Trump's Democratic opponents.
Questions about Trump's Moscow trip
Several lines of questioning to witnesses have centered on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which was held in Moscow, and unsuccessful discussions to brand a Trump Tower Moscow, two sources said.
For the pageant, Trump partnered with Aras Agalarov, and his son, Emin Agalarov, billionaire real estate developers in Russia. In congressional testimony last year, Donald Trump Jr. said that "preliminary discussions" to build a tower in Moscow began between the Trump Organization and the Agalarovs after the Miss Universe pageant. Trump tweeted with excitement about the potential project, saying "Trump Tower-Moscow is next."
But the plans fell through. Rob Goldstone, a publicist for pop star Emin Agalarov, told Yahoo News last year that the Trump Tower deal was scrapped because "the economy tanked in Russia" from harsh sanctions imposed by Western countries.
One of the sources said, based on the questions, that Mueller's team was focused on the financing of the Miss Universe Pageant, such as who paid for what and what money was paid to whom.
The Trump Organization has never disclosed exactly how much it was paid to hold the beauty pageant in Russia. But Trump's lawyers said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Trump Organization made $12.2 million from foreign sources that year, and a "substantial portion" came from the Moscow event.
A second area of focus was what happened during the event. The source said questions also focused on meetings Trump had with Russian business people or government officials, leading the source to believe the investigators were probing the possibility of "kompromat," or compromising material, on Trump.
Along these lines, the source said, investigators were interested in logistics surrounding Trump's hotel room in Moscow: Who was there? Who would have access to it? Who was in charge of security? Who was moving around with him during the trip?
About two years after the pageant, Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen began negotiations with another Russian company for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump even signed a non-binding letter of intent in October 2015. But Cohen says he cut off negotiations in January 2016. One of the sources said Mueller's team has also asked about this project, in addition to the potential Agalarov deal.
Trump did not mention during the presidential campaign that his company explored these two business deals in Russia. Instead, he insisted that he had "nothing to do with Russia." Even when talking about his past dealings with Russians -- like the Miss Universe pageant -- Trump never referred to the prospective deal that fell through a few weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
Trump's past business dealings have been an area of interest to counterintelligence officials. CNN has previously reported that before the special counsel's appointment in May, the FBI had combed through the list of shell companies and buyers of Trump-branded real estate properties and scrutinized the roster of tenants at Trump Tower reaching back more than a half-dozen years.
Investigators have looked at the backgrounds of Russian business associates connected to Trump surrounding the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.
CNN reported last month that the Trump Organization has given some documents to Mueller, and that the bulk of the information requested was from the time during the campaign and transition, not Trump's earlier business dealings.
Last year, Trump said he would view any investigation of his or his family's personal finances as a "violation" by Mueller that crosses a red line. Trump's lawyers previously have said that Trump's business dealings from the time before he was a presidential candidate do not fall under the scope of what Mueller is authorized to investigate by the Justice Department.
Mueller was appointed last spring to investigate Russian meddling and "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation," according to the order signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee.
https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/27/politics ... index.html



Seth Abramson‏
(THREAD) The Trump investigation no one is discussing is the one that could prove—via direct evidence—that Trump stole the presidency. Inspector General Horowitz needs to talk to Joseph DiGenova, a Trump supporter who may well be the man whose actions threw the election to Trump.
Image
1:09 AM - 28 Feb 2018

1. When Comey declined to indict Clinton over her private email server in July 2016, the two biggest critics of the decision—both Trump supporters, both vociferous—were Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani and current attorney for Trump-Russia figures Joe DiGenova.
5 reasons Comey should have recommended Clinton's indictment
http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/c ... indictment

2. Giuliani is well known for having creepily predicted an "October surprise" for Clinton just 72 hours before Comey re-opened the Clinton investigation. And Giuliani's role went well beyond being a Nostradamus; he was likely involved in Comey feeling forced to re-open the case.

3/ But DiGenova's role in Comey's decision—which polling analyses by one of the nation's top pollsters, Nate Silver, suggest swung the election to Trump—hasn't been analyzed, though it was more public and more controversial than Giuliani's. Yet no one talks about DiGenova at all.

4/ On October 13, 2016, DiGenova, whose firm—him and his wife Victoria Toensing—now represent ex-Trump National Co-Chair Sam Clovis, made an astounding public offer: he'd represent any FBI agent who wanted to testify against Comey before the GOP Congress.
Former U.S. Attorney: James Comey Is ‘A Dirty Cop’
https://www.lifezette.com/polizette/for ... dirty-cop/

5/ The offer was bizarre for too many reasons to count. Was this attorney really try to gin up explosive "whistle-blower" testimony about Comey's decision not to indict Clinton under four weeks before a presidential election? Was he trying to influence the election? Yes, he was.

6/ But for all that, the offer was "within bounds" because any such FBI agent's testimony would be in closed session, so—unless the GOP leaked it—it would presumably not influence the election, though DiGenova's support for Trump and hatred of Clinton was public and white-hot.

7/ Then—in the next 4 days—something changed. Either DiGenova already knew agents wanted to attack Comey pre-election or they heard his October 13 call—on Laura Ingraham's website; remember, she was almost Trump's Communications Director—and contacted him.
EXCLUSIVE: FBI Agents Say Comey ‘Stood In The Way’ Of Clinton Email Investigation
http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/17/exclu ... stigation/

8/ In any case by October 17, 2016, agents weren't talking to Congress—which would be legal—they were violating the Hatch Act by leaking to the media on a closed (unindicted) FBI case, and in a way that clearly could affect a presidential election. They spoke to The Daily Caller.

9/ A quote from The Daily Caller article: "FBI agents say the Bureau is alarmed over Director James Comey deciding not to suggest that the Justice Department prosecute Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information." How did the Daily Caller get this information?

10/ "According to an interview transcript given to The Daily Caller—provided by an intermediary who spoke to two federal agents with the bureau last Friday—agents are frustrated by Comey’s leadership." Odd—Friday's the day after DiGenova offered to rep FBI agents who hated Comey!

11/ Was DiGenova the intermediary? "According to attorney Joe DiGenova, more FBI agents will be talking about the problems at the FBI and specifically the handling of the Clinton case by Comey when Congress comes back in session and decides to force them to testify by subpoena."

12/ How did DiGenova know "more FBI agents will be talking" unless he'd been in contact with active agents about a closed case in the 4 days after he made a public offer to represent any agents who wanted to go to Congress about Comey? How did he know the GOP would subpoena them?

13/ How about this—he used to *work* for the GOP. "DiGenova has experience on Capitol Hill. He was chief counsel and staff director of the Senate Rules Committee and counsel to the Senate Judiciary, Governmental Affairs and Select Intelligence committees." https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/pub ... he-law.cfm

14/ OK, but DiGenova's still playing by the rules—yes, he seems to know too much about a GOP plot to get agents to testify against Comey pre-election by subpoena and then (likely) leak the testimony, but he's not suborning Hatch Act violations. (Unless he was the "intermediary"?)

15/ But wait! 10 days later—on October 28, 2016—DiGenova gives a WMAL interview. He says: "The agents came to Comey yesterday, they told him about the new evidence, he said 'Oh shit'...and he knew the agents who were running the Weiner case would leak it."
Joe DiGenova on the FBI Reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton
http://www.wmal.com/2016/10/28/joe-dige ... y-clinton/

16/ Here's what interesting. First, DiGenova claims it was "new evidence" (which it wasn't, but that was a critical claim in the subsequent True Pundit Hoax). Second, how did DiGenova know what FBI agents did privately the day before? Third, how did he know a leak was threatened?

17/ The news that Comey was afraid of a leak was reported as an *exclusive* by The New York Times on October 29, 2016—the day *after* DiGenova already had that intel. So it seems DiGenova *was* in contact with the agents who threatened Comey with a leak.
Justice Dept. Strongly Discouraged Comey on Move in Clinton Email Case
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/us/p ... stice.html

18/ But there's more. On October 24, pro-Trump site True Pundit published a story alleging Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was corrupt—and claimed it had FBI sources and documents for the story. Sure, you say, easy for them to claim that—likely untrue.
FBI Director Lobbied Against Criminal Charges For Hillary After Clinton Insider Paid His Wife $700,000
https://truepundit.com/fbi-director-lob ... wife-700k/

19/ Well, it wasn't untrue—because Judicial Watch used a FOIA to get McCabe's emails, and the day after the True Pundit story McCabe emailed Comey the story with the words, "FYI. Heavyweight source." Comey agreed the True Pundit source was an active agent.
Growing Evidence Of A Politically Tainted Clinton Investigation
http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/14/fbi-h ... mes-comey/
20/ And who should bring up the True Pundit story on Fox News within 24 hours of it coming out on a relatively obscure website? Rudy Giuliani. And just like that, a story improbably claiming FBI sources on a known fake-news website made it to Fox News—through a top Trump advisor.

21/ So as Trump supporter/ex-GOP lawyer DiGenova is using his new clients to threaten Comey with leaked Congressional testimony—and possibly leaks to media—Trump advisor Giuliani is actively threatening the man who's working with Comey to decide what to do on the Clinton case.

22/ But it gets better: within 48 hours of—DiGenova's?—clients meeting Comey, Rolling Stone reports an anonymous post goes up on a site for *active NYPD cops*. And what does the post say? What will become the "True Pundit Hoax." Read on for an explanation.
Anatomy of a Fake News Scandal
Image
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/n ... al-w511904

23/ The NYPD post says "the feds were forced to reopen the hillary email case [because] apparently the NYPD sex crimes unit was involved in the weiner case. On his laptop they saw emails. they notified the FBI. Feds were afraid that NYPD would go public so they had to reopen...

24/ ...or be accused of a coverup." So Giuliani brags on TV about talking to active-duty FBI agents—just as DiGenova was—and is tight with scores of folks at NYPD from when he was mayor, and here's an NYPD cop saying NYPD was planning to leak info to the press to pressure Comey?

25/ On October 25, Giuliani says Trump's October surprise would come "in a few days." On October 29, his pals at NYPD put into the jetstream that NYPD was going to leak on Comey, which (on the very same day) the NYT reports as the reason Comey had to send his letter to Congress.

26/ Meanwhile, either agents represented by DiGenova—or with whom DiGenova is in contact—or co-conspirators of theirs, are leaking to The Daily Caller (October 17) days after DiGenova offers to help them, and True Pundit (October 24) a day before Giuliani spreads to story to FNC.

27/ Giuliani and DiGenova *appear*, therefore, to have successfully threatened McCabe and threatened Comey just before Comey sends his letter to Congress because (per the NYT) he was "sure" news of the Weiner emails would leak (presumably via FBI agents or Giuliani pals at NYPD).

28/ By November 2, an amalgam of the NYPD post and an October 29—i.e., the same day—Facebook post by "Carmen Katz" (likely Cynthia Campbell of Joplin, Missouri, per Rolling Stone) becomes the "True Pundit Hoax." But the Hoax had already shown up elsewhere.
BREAKING BOMBSHELL: NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes with Children, Child Exploitation, Pay to Play, Perjury
Image
https://truepundit.com/breaking-bombshe ... y-perjury/

29/ It'd showed up on a site run by Russia-connected Macedonian hackers, Conservative Daily Post (https://conservativedailypost.com/break ... x-network/ …) and on YourNewsWire, a pro-Trump fake news site. And then, on November 4, the unthinkable happened: it made it to Breitbart via a Trump advisor, Erik Prince.

30/ Breitbart, controlled (by his admission) by Trump Campaign CEO Bannon, brings on Trump advisor Prince to spread the hoax claim that the "new" Weiner emails confirm Hillary consorts with pedophiles—essentially the "Pizzagate" scam Roger Stone had pushed.
Erik Prince: NYPD Ready to Make Arrests in Anthony Weiner Case
http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2016/11/ ... iner-case/

31/ Who retweets the hoax? Trump advisor Mike Flynn. Trump's son Don—who later deletes it to cover his tracks. And incredibly, Trump himself will later retweet one of the accounts that spreads the hoax. So this looks to be a Trump operation start to finish.
Trump's Favorite Twitter Pollster Is a Renamed Pizzagate Conspiracy Peddler
https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-fa ... cy-peddler

32/ And all the sites that spread this apparently Giuliani/DiGenova-linked hoax—remember, True Pundit claims the same FBI sources for the Hoax as the True Pundit story Giuliani pushed days earlier—are top sites for Russian bots to amplify (one is *run* by Russia-linked hackers).

33/ And remember, too, the recent bizarre news that it was *Eric* Trump who was effectively running Trump's campaign toward the end. Well, his wife, Lara, was, with Rudy Giuliani, one of the two Trump advisors creepily pumping an "October surprise" on FNC.

34/ So we know what won Trump the election—the Comey Letter. And it seems clear, now, that the GOP and the Trump campaign had its hands all over the threats (actually blackmail) involving true *and* false FBI/NYPD leaks that led Comey and McCabe to feel the letter had to be sent.

35/ And you know which former federal prosecutor is the chief public proponent—even today—of the theory that Obama tapped Trump Tower? You guessed it: Joe DiGenova. Sort of makes you think Horowitz should ask DiGenova about his contacts with Trump, right?

CONCLUSION/ The evidence confirming Trump's people were all over forcing Comey to re-open the Clinton case—a decision that gave the election to Trump, and provably so—is *stronger* than the Trump-Russia coordination evidence, which is itself quite strong.
https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 9018329088


Hope Hicks Acknowledges She Sometimes Tells White Lies for Trump
Image
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/27/us/p ... imony.html


Mueller asking what Trump knew about hacked emails

by Katy Tur and Carol E. LeeFeb 28 2018, 2:04 pm ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.

Mueller's investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.

The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion and has described the special counsel's investigation as "illegal" and a "witch hunt."

In one line of questioning, investigators have focused on Trump's public comments in July 2016 asking Russia to find emails that were deleted by his then-opponent Hillary Clinton from a private server she maintained while secretary of state. The comments came at a news conference on July 27, 2016, just days after WikiLeaks began publishing the Democratic National Committee emails. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said.

Witnesses have been asked whether Trump himself knew then that Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta, whose emails were released several months later, had already been targeted. They were also asked if Trump was advised to make the statement about Clinton's emails from someone outside his campaign, and if the witnesses had reason to believe Trump tried to coordinate the release of the DNC emails to do the most damage to Clinton, the people familiar with the matter said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer would later say that then-candidate Trump had been "joking" when he called on Russia to hack his opponent's emails.


Fmr. U.S Attorney: Mueller is not done yet
What did Stone know?

Investigators are also asking questions about Trump's longtime relationship with Republican operative Roger Stone, according to witnesses. Investigators have asked about Stone's contacts with WikiLeaks during the campaign and if he's ever met with Assange.

"They wanted to see if there was a scheme. Was Stone working on the side for Trump?" after he officially left the campaign, one person interviewed by the special counsel's office said, adding that it seemed investigators wanted to know, "Was this a big plot?"

Russia stole emails from the DNC and Podesta, according to U.S. intelligence officials, and released batches of them through WikiLeaks starting in July 2016 and up until the election.

As part of his plea agreement with the special counsel, former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos revealed that in a conversation in late April 2016, he was told by a professor with ties to Russian officials that they had "dirt' on Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." A 10-page memo from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released Saturday noted that the Justice Department's October 2016 application for a FISA warrant on another Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, included the fact that Russian agents had previewed their hack and dissemination of stolen emails to Papadopoulos.

Investigators were interested in statements Stone made in the final month of the 2016 campaign that strongly suggested he was aware of information the group had before it became public and when it might be released. In one instance, he wrote on Twitter that "it would soon be Podesta's time in the barrel." Weeks later Podesta's stolen emails were released by WikiLeaks.

As WikiLeaks was strategically publishing stolen emails in the closing months of the campaign, Trump also publicly said he loved the group. In 2017, President Trump's CIA director, Mike Pompeo, would label the group a hostile non-state actor.

Investigators also have shown interest in any connections Stone has to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Stone has said he communicated with Assange and WikiLeaks through an intermediary he described as a journalist.

The Atlantic reported this week that Stone exchanged direct messages on Twitter with WikiLeaks.

Mueller's team has asked witnesses if Stone ever met with Assange. Stone has denied ever communicating directly with Assange.

Stone served briefly on the Trump campaign in 2015, leaving in August of that year. At the time he said he quit, while the campaign said he was fired.

Investigators have asked witnesses about Stone's time on the campaign and what his relationship was like with Trump after he left.

"How often did they talk? Who really fired him? Was he really fired?" a witness said, describing the line of questioning.

In a statement, Stone said he had "no advance knowledge of the content or source of information published by WikiLeaks."

"I have not been interviewed by the Special Counsel," wrote Stone. "I never discussed WikiLeaks, Assange or the Hillary disclosures with candidate Trump, before during or after the election. I have no idea what he knew about them, from who or when. I have never met Assange."

Stone appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for four hours last September. In his prepared opening statement, which he also delivered publicly on the InfoWars YouTube channel, Stone denied that he ever engaged "in any illegal activities on behalf of my clients, or the causes which I support." He denied having direct contact with Assange and called any exchanges with Guccifer 2.0, which took credit for hacking the DNC, "innocuous." And he said his tweet predicting that Podesta would spend time in the "barrel" was in the context of the coverage of the resignation of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, whom he called his "boyhood friend and colleague," over allegations about business activities in Ukraine.

Trump's policy positions

At that same July 2016 news conference where he referenced Clinton's missing emails, candidate Trump said he was open to lifting sanctions on Russia and possibly recognizing its annexation of Crimea in Ukraine. The U.S. and its European allies had sanctioned Russia because of its intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, which the Obama administration refused to recognize.

Investigators have asked witnesses why Trump took policy positions that were friendly toward Russia and spoke positively about Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the probe.

Investigators have also inquired whether Trump met with Putin before becoming president, including if a meeting took place during Trump's 2013 visit to Moscow for his Miss Universe pageant. Trump has given conflicting responses on when he first met Putin.

At least one witness was asked about Trump's business interests in Moscow and surmised afterward that the Special Counsel investigation may be focused on business dealings that took place during the campaign.

Witnesses also have been asked about Stone's connections to Manafort.

At least one witness has been asked about Trump aide Dan Scavino, specifically about any involvement he may have had in the campaign's data operation. Scavino currently runs the White House's social media operations and is one of his closest aides.

NBC News reached out to Trump's legal team and the White House.

John Dowd, the president’s outside attorney, told NBC News, "We do not discuss our knowledge of or communications with the Special Counsel."

Peter Carr, spokesman for Special Counsel Mueller, declined to comment.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald ... ssion=true



seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:37 pm wrote:
Manafort, The Cinematic Arc of History And The Wildest Coincidence
By Josh Marshall | February 28, 2018 4:03 pm

I mentioned last week that a cluster of new revelations had given us a fresh and deeper view of Paul Manafort’s dire financial straits and desperate personal situation in the months and weeks leading up to his entry into the Trump campaign in March 2016. Today we have another report from Bloomberg which paints a similar picture and adds some additional details, specifically just how recently before he went to work for Trump that Manafort was working for the shell of the Russia-aligned party in Ukraine.

As we’ve learned last night, when Jared Kushner became the top advisor of the President-Elect Trump, his precarious financial situation and need for money appeared as a point of opportunity and leverage for a number of foreign governments who had critical interests at stake with the United States. This is unsurprising. It’s why security reviews always look at business interests and especially debts and secrets that can be used to pressure, manipulate or threaten. Manafort fit that bill in spades, far more than Kushner, whose family finances were perilous.

But what deserves more focus, even though it’s by no means hidden or at all secret, is the sheer historic sweep of Manafort’s involvement, his central place in so many aspects of the big, big story.

Let’s start with one key point: The main deliverable Vladimir Putin wanted from the Trump administration, whatever role he played in the latter’s election, was an end to the punitive sanctions imposed by the US and Europe after the Russian seizure of the Crimean Peninsula and incursions into eastern Ukraine in February 2014. There are many parts of the package Putin wanted and Trump seemed to want to provide, from things as limited as the late 2016 sanctions imposed by President Obama to as maximal and aspirational as the disruption of the NATO alliance. But the end of the 2014 sanctions and the acceptance of Russian sovereignty in Crimea was the core deliverable at the heart of a broader rapprochement or even global US-Russian partnership. That was the big thing Russia wanted and indeed still wants.

Manafort wasn’t simply at the heart of the 2016 election story, he was at the center of this origination point story as well. Manafort’s meal ticket and main client was Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-aligned President of Ukraine. Yanukovych was driven from power by his inability to manage the cross-cutting fissures in Ukraine, the pulls of Russia and the EU, specifically his decision to reject a deeper association with the EU and swing around to a redoubled bond with Russia. It was Yanukovych’s fall from power and subsequent flight to Russia which at least triggered the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s shadow war in the east. In other words, the fall of Manafort’s client in Ukraine was the triggering event which led to the punitive sanctions the removal of which was the core thing Vladimir Putin was hoping to receive from Donald Trump. That Manafort, who’d been Yanukovych’s political advisor and fixer for a decade would end up running Trump’s campaign is, to put it mildly, remarkable. Whether this is a great historical irony or something more planned and sinister is the great question about which we are in the throes of writing the first draft of history.

After Yanukovych was driven from power, Manafort tried to scrounge together business, rebranding the remnants of Yanukovych’s political movement as an opposition to the new regime. But the money paled to what it had been before Yanukovych’s fall and Manafort didn’t get paid a bunch of what he claimed to be owed. Just as ominously, the new government was digging into Yanukovych’s corruption, which was prodigious, and of which Manafort was if not complicit than at least a beneficiary.

Then two things happened in late 2014.

Manafort’s family discovers he’s been carrying on an affair, adding personal crisis to his financial woes. Back in the US, something else was happening. I’ve noted many times that Adrien Chen wrote about the Internet Research Agency well before the 2016 campaign and before Donald Trump seemed to have any part of it. In Chen’s June 2015 New York Times Magazine article he notes that the IRA operatives appeared to get started in the US in late 2014. There were efforts to create social media-driven panics about hoax natural disasters. (They seemed to be trial runs. A fascinating hoax Chen writes about was a purported industrial accident in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana.) These operatives also got into the mix amplifying fears and spreading misinformation about the Ebola mini-outbreak in late 2014. We don’t know whether these first efforts had any connection to or foreknowledge of Trump’s eventual run for President. But it’s clear that the more aggressive posture was spurred by the deep freeze in relations after the crisis in Ukraine.

Through 2015, Manafort’s life appeared to spiral out of control. As Frank Foer notes, Manafort was apparently so desperate and perhaps depressed that he told one of his daughters he was contemplating suicide. By the close of 2015, Manafort had checked himself into some sort of in-patient treatment facility in Arizona for what his daughter describes as an emotional collapse. Weeks later he was asking his friend Tom Barrick to help him get an unpaid job working for Donald Trump’s campaign.

This does sound like a highly suspicious and improbable turn of events. But it’s important to remember there is a sleazy but not quite sinister explanation that is plausible if not quite probable. Manafort had every reason to believe at this point that his Ukraine-based fortune was at an end. He hadn’t been a player in the US for years. So he was in no kind of demand for the US political work or influence peddling he’d originally made his name at. But there was a presidential candidate who looked like he might win the nomination but who lots of legit consultants wouldn’t touch. But that wasn’t a problem for Manafort. Working for untouchable strongmen was his line of work. If Manafort could have a strong run with Trump, he could recharge his influence batteries and go back into business stateside. If Trump managed to win, he might have more juice than ever. If this theory is true, it’s a perfectly adequate explanation of why he was happy to work for free. It wasn’t about a six-month salary. It was about building back a reputation and gaining influence to peddle to support his extravagant lifestyle.

This is possible.

But we can’t ignore the context. As noted, Russia appears to have begun testing out information warfare possibilities in mid-to-late 2014. We don’t know when Donald Trump came into focus as a possible tool – witting or otherwise – of Russia. But events were clearly coming together. Russian operatives began hacking into DNC servers in late 2015 and continued these efforts into the spring. It was in March that Russian operatives successfully hacked John Podesta’s email. It was also in March that Trump announced Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and three others as his foreign policy advisory team. Papadopoulos had learned earlier in March that he’d be working for Trump. He’d already attracted the attention of Russian intelligence operatives in London who would tell him about Russia’s dirt on Hillary Clinton.

All of this is coming together in February and March of 2016. And it’s right then that Manafort shows up eager to work for Donald Trump – to ‘get back in the game’. It was in late January or early February when Manafort reached out to Barrick, February 29th when Manafort’s memos were passed on to Trump by Barrick and March 28th when Trump hired Manafort to join the campaign. Two months later he’s running the whole operation.

Life is messy and filled with coincidences. But it is well to remember a key fact. Part of the work Manafort did for Yanukovych was helping him run campaigns and political operations in Ukraine. But a big, big part of his work was influencing politics in the US on behalf of Yanukovych and the Russian interests who backed him. He was literally in the business of acting as a foreign agent in the US representing the interests of the then-pro-Russian government of Ukraine. That’s actually one of the things Mueller charged him with doing – not the representation itself but failing to properly register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Manafort’s a guy who had a lot of experience doing this. You can make a decent argument – though it’s admittedly muddy – that he’d spent a decade doing it specifically for the players who in 2016 were authorizing the disruption campaign which was coming together right as Manafort entered the Trump campaign. It is, to put it mildly, a helluva coincidence.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/ma ... re-1113913


Judge sets Sept. 17 trial date for Manafort on Mueller charges

Move could put former Trump campaign chairman on trial at height of midterm election season

JOSH GERSTEIN
02/28/2018 09:51 AM EST

The decision from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson would put Paul Manafort (pictured) on trial at the height of the midterm campaign season. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A judge in Washington on Wednesday set a Sept. 17 trial date for former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort on charges from special counsel Robert Mueller, including money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent.

The decision from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson would put Manafort on trial at the height of the midterm campaign season, a potentially unwelcome distraction for Republicans as they try to maintain majorities in Congress.

Manafort also faces the prospect of another trial in Alexandria, Virginia, on a separate indictment Mueller's team obtained earlier this month accusing the veteran lobbyist and political consultant of 18 counts of tax and bank fraud. Manafort is scheduled to be arraigned in that case on Friday. No trial date has been set there.

During the brief hearing Wednesday morning at which Jackson scheduled the Washington trial, Manafort stood before the judge and entered a formal "not guilty" plea to a revised indictment in the D.C. case that effectively transfers to Virginia some charges related to offshore bank accounts.

Jackson also scolded Manafort and his team for a statement his spokesman issued Friday maintaining his innocence despite the guilty pleas tendered earlier that day by his longtime aide, Rick Gates, who is now cooperating with Mueller's office.

The judge said the comments appeared to run afoul of the order she issued in November limiting public statements about the case by lawyers involved and by the defendants.

"I can understand the impulse to not let that go by without stating your innocence, [but] in issuing that statement about the prosecution, I believe it's contrary to the order," said Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Jackson said she wasn't going to take action in response to last week's statement but warned she would if there were further violations.

Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing indicated that he believes Jackson's order and a 1991 Supreme Court precedent it cited do not authorize a complete blackout of all comments by the parties in a criminal case. The defense lawyer said, as he's suggested before in court, that he plans to file a motion to clarify the order.

The order's language does not appear to bar all public comments by the parties and lawyers but only those "that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case."

However, Jackson noted that she offered both sides the opportunity to object to her order last year and neither did. "I'll read anything you file," she said.

During Wednesday's hearing, the judge also expressed some concern about "overlap" between the Washington case and the Virginia one, although she said ultimately the burden of two successive trials is likely to fall most heavily on the defense.

"It seems the government is setting itself up to put on the same evidence twice in different courtrooms," Jackson said. "There's a risk of inconsistent [rulings] on the motions and evidentiary rulings and jury findings."

Ultimately, though, Jackson said she didn't view the parallel cases as a big problem. "The burden is at its least on the courts. We can handle two trials," she said.

Prosecutor Greg Andres stressed that Mueller's team gave Manafort the option to face a single case in Washington on all the charges, but Manafort declined to waive his right to have the tax charges brought in Virginia, which is where he lived when he filed the tax returns at issue.

Jackson predicted the case in Virginia will move along rapidly in a court known for hosting what many lawyers call a "rocket docket."

"You'll have a trial date soon there," she said.

As Manafort sat at the defense table Wednesday, there was much more room than at past sessions. It was the first public court hearing in the case at which Gates and his legal team were absent.

At the outset of the hearing, the judge expressed her condolences to Manafort about the death of his father-in-law last week.

Jackson has rejected a couple of offers by Manafort to secure his release from house arrest by pledging properties to secure the $10 million bail. But the former Trump campaign chairman thanked the judge for allowing him to travel to Long Island earlier this week to attend wake, funeral and burial services for his father-in-law, Joseph Bond, who died Saturday at age 89.

"I appreciate the court's indulgence," Manafort said just before his arraignment Wednesday.
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/ ... ges-430621



seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:05 pm wrote:
Mueller eyes charges against Russians who stole, spread Democrats’ emails

by Ken Dilanian, William M. Arkin and Julia AinsleyMar 1 2018, 5:00 pm ET

WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of private information designed to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election, multiple current and former government officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

Much like the indictment Mueller filed last month charging a different group of Russians in a social media trolling and illegal-ad-buying scheme, the possible new charges are expected to rely heavily on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), several of the officials say.

Mueller's consideration of charges accusing Russians in the hacking case has not been reported previously. Sources say he has long had sufficient evidence to make a case, but strategic issues could dictate the timing. Potential charges include violations of statutes on conspiracy, election law as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. One U.S. official briefed on the matter said the charges are not imminent, but other knowledgeable sources said they are expected in the next few weeks or months. It's also possible Mueller opts not to move forward because of concerns about exposing intelligence or other reasons — or that he files the indictment under seal, so the public doesn't see it initially.

The sources say the possible new indictment — or more than one, if that's how Mueller's office decides to proceed — would delve into the details of, and the people behind, the Russian intelligence operation that used hackers to penetrate computer networks and steal emails of both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The release of embarrassing Democratic emails through WikiLeaks became a prominent feature in the 2016 presidential election, cited at least 145 times by Republican candidate Donald Trump in the final month of the campaign. At one point he publicly urged "Russia" to find and release emails Trump believed were missing from Democrat Hillary Clinton's private server.

DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a joint statement in the month before the 2016 election saying officials were "confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises" that led to leaked emails being published by DCLeaks.com, WikiLeaks and an online persona known as Guccifer 2.0. — all considered to have been acting as Russian agents.

No criminal charges have been filed, however. In July 2016 the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation into how the Russians carried out the operation and whether any Americans, including members of the Trump campaign, were involved. Mueller took over the probe in May 2017. His office has filed more than 100 criminal charges against 19 people and three companies, securing guilty pleas and cooperation agreements from three members of the Trump campaign.

It is unlikely that the United States would be able to extradite alleged Russian hackers or their paymasters, but an indictment would "send a signal" both to Russia and to any Americans who may have participated, a government official said. In 2014, the Justice Department filed charges against five Chinese military hackers, accusing them of economic espionage. In 2016, authorities indicted seven hackers associated with the government of Iran, accusing them of hacking into bank websites and a computer system that controlled a small New York state dam. None of the accused in either case are in custody.

Image: Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting
Special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington on June 21, 2017. J. Scott Applewhite / AP file
It could not be learned to what extent, if at all, Mueller's office would make allegations in the possible indictments about the role of Russian president Vladimir Putin in ordering and supervising the operation. NBC News has reported that U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence Putin was closely involved, but sources say the intelligence underlying that conclusion is extremely sensitive.

The CIA long ago turned over all the relevant intelligence it had on the Russian operation to FBI investigators, officials said. The NSA, DHS and the ODNI have also passed along to Mueller analysis and forensic information connected to the hacks, including telltale "signatures," malware and methods.

Another question is whether Mueller will charge Russian intelligence officers alleged to have supervised the operation. Often, the people who do the hacking for the Russian government are private freelancers. A former FBI official briefed on the matter said it was likely Russian government officials would be charged — but that Mueller would have to consult widely in the government about that decision.

"The Kremlin has used hackers to steal personal communications that Russian operatives then parceled out in targeted leaks, and created fake social media personas and news items on all sides of controversial issues in the hope of stirring discord in the West," Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the NSA and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told Congress this week.

Another major unanswered question is whether Mueller's grand jury will charge any Americans as witting participants in the hacking and leaking scheme — including anyone associated with Trump's presidential campaign. Americans referenced in Mueller's previous indictment of Russians were described as "unwitting."

One source suggested that a new indictment could include unnamed American co-conspirators as part of a strategy to pressure those involved to cooperate. The previous Mueller indictment involving the Russian social media operation cited a co-conspirator that it did not name.

Much like the social media activity laid out in Mueller's recent indictment, the Russian hacking operation began long before the 2016 election.

In 2015, Russian hackers stepped up a campaign to use "spear phishing" techniques to steal emails and other data from Capitol Hill staffers, political operatives and foreign policy experts, U.S. officials and outside experts tell NBC News. Such techniques involve sending what appears to be a friendly email that is actually loaded with malware that gives the sender access to the recipient's computer, and potentially the organization's network.

In March 2016, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta got an email instructing him to change his password. A staffer told him it was legitimate. The staffer was wrong. The Russians soon were inside his machine.

A few days later, a DNC employee acted on a similar email.

The GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency, began vacuuming up emails from Podesta and from DNC accounts, according to CrowdStrike, the firm hired to analyze the breach. Another Russian intelligence agency, the SVR, also at some point breached DNC networks, CrowdStrike found.

Image: George Papadopoulos
George Papadopoulos LinkedIn
A month later, in April, a junior Trump campaign adviser named George Papadopoulos met a mysterious European professor for breakfast at a London hotel.

According to court documents, the professor conveyed to Papadopoulos he had learned from Russian government officials in Moscow that the Russians had obtained "'dirt' on then-candidate Clinton," including "thousands of emails."

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents and is now cooperating with Mueller.

The bulk of the stolen Democratic emails ultimately were made public through WikiLeaks, the self-described transparency organization that CIA Director Mike Pompeo has branded as a “hostile non-state intelligence service” that “collaborated” with Russia. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange disputes that his organization got the emails from the Russians. Another big question is whether Mueller will seek to charge anyone associated with WikiLeaks, who may claim in defense that they were acting as journalists.

On Wednesday, NBC News reported that Mueller's team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.

President Trump has repeatedly denied collusion and has called the Mueller investigation a "witch hunt."

A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-e ... ls-n852291



seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:16 pm wrote:where is Mifsud?

13 Russian Nationals Indicted by Grand Jury first now maybe Mueller was waiting for the evidence of Americans help I bet he's got that evidence now

Robert Mueller also reached a plea deal with a California man in Russia probe
Richard Pinedo has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... -plea-deal


The Plea Deal Means He Won’t Face Other Charges Related To This Case

According to the letter from Mueller from Feb. 2, when Pinedo signed off with a plea of guilty of identify fraud, he was promised he would not face any new charges; in other words, he may be cooperating with the Special Counsel. It’s not clear what his sentence will be, nor when it is set for. “In consideration of your client’s guilty plea …(he) will not be further prosecuted criminally by this Office for the conduct” described in the charging documents. It does not mean he cannot be charged with other crimes, if any.
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/201 ... an-trolls/


un named coconspirators


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kxG8uJUsWU



Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) speaks with MSNBC's Chris Hayes about the Russians previewing their plan to disseminate stolen DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign emails.

that's trouble :evilgrin

previewed

if it is what I think it is I love it!

- Don trump Jr.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sivgGMDzQE

Russia “Previewed” Plan to Disseminate Emails with Trump Campaign
And how that's legally significant
by Ryan Goodman
March 1, 2018

A significant recent revelation in the Russia investigation has been largely overlooked in the rush of several breaking news stories over the past few days. A nugget of information is contained in the memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee (the so-called Schiff Memo), which was released on Saturday morning.

Prior to the memo, we knew that a Russian agent told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos of “Moscow possessing ‘dirt’” on Hillary Clinton “in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’” according to Papadopoulos’s plea statement. The memo went a legally significant step further. As Rep. Adam Schiff recently told Chris Hayes, “our memo discloses for the first time that the Russians previewed to Papadopoulos that they could help with disseminating these stolen emails.” Rep. Schiff added, “When Donald Trump openly called on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, they’d be richly rewarded if they released these to the press, his campaign had already been put on notice that the Russians were prepared to do just that and disseminate these stolen emails.” (The full transcript and video clip is below.)

This new revelation is legally important and, if true, could have exposed Papadopoulos and potentially other campaign officials to significant criminal liability. I spoke with several leading experts in campaign finance law and former federal prosecutors to gather their views.

Rep. Schiff’s statement adds clarity to two stray statements in the memo itself. The memo states, “Russian agents previewed their hack and dissemination of stolen emails.” The memo also refers to this part of the record in stating, “We would later learn in Papadopoulos’s plea that that[sic] the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton emails.”

A legally important question is what the Trump campaign did after the Russians previewed that they could help disseminate the stolen emails. If Trump campaign officials consulted with the Russians on their plans to disseminate the emails, it could involve direct violations of campaign finance laws (see the statement below from leading election law expert Paul Seamus Ryan). If Trump campaign officials gave tacit assent or approval or support, it could directly implicate them in the “conspiracy to defraud the United States” by evading the Federal Election Commission—the very conspiracy for which Mueller has already indicted thirteen Russian nationals (see the statement below by former White House official and also top election law expert Bob Bauer). If Papadopoulos intentionally encouraged the Russians and if he was instructed to do so by other campaign officials, they could be liable as accomplices (see statements below from law professors and former federal prosecutors Barbara McQuade and Alex Whiting). The Trump campaign as an organization could also be criminally liable (see statement below from McQuade). Finally, if members of the Trump campaign tried to conceal the facts of a crime (potentially including either the original DNC hack or the dissemination of the stolen emails) they could be guilty of “misprision of a felony” (see statements below by former federal prosecutors including Renato Mariotti).

First, consider how the new revelation might fit into Mueller’s recent conspiracy charges against Russian officials. Bauer wrote to me in an email:

We have learned time after time that we know far less than the special counsel and his team do, and we should be ready to be surprised. But the facts that have come to light suggest that it is wrong to dismiss a legal case based on an electoral alliance between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. It appears that the Russians made a point of secretly advising the campaign that they had stolen emails and were planning to disseminate them, and that the campaign either a) gave tacit assent or approval to the Russian plan, or b) more expressly approved and supported the scheme. Mr. Trump’s public appeal to the Russians to find and release the emails may well look less and less like another norm-busting “Trumpism,” and more like an overt act that, in the context of a wider, private understanding with the Russians, furthered the criminal conspiracy that Mueller alleged in his recent indictment of the thirteen Russian nationals.

Paul Ryan, Vice President of Common Cause, explained how consultation or other communications between Papadopoulos and the Russians on a plan to influence the election through the dissemination of stolen emails could violate federal campaign finance laws:

Federal campaign finance law prohibits a candidate campaign committee from coordinating with a foreign national on any expenditure made by the foreign national for the purpose of influencing a U.S. election. More specifically, federal law treats an expenditure made in coordination with a candidate as a “contribution” to such candidate. Foreign nationals are prohibited from making contributions to U.S. candidates, and U.S. candidates are prohibited from receiving contributions from foreign nationals. “Coordinated” is defined in the law to mean “in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, his authorized political committee, or their agents.” Papadopoulos was an agent of the Trump campaign. If any Russian made any expenditure to disseminate the stolen emails for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election, and did so in cooperation or consultation with or at the request or suggestion of Papadopoulos, then both the Russian and the Trump campaign violated federal law.

In addition to direct involvement in campaign finance law violations or a conspiracy, Alex Whiting, a professor at Harvard Law School and former federal prosecutor, spelled out in detail the potential case for accomplice liability for Papadopoulos and any other campaign officials who may have given him instructions. The most relevant legal question here turns on whether Papadopoulos intentionally encouraged the Russians once they previewed that they were prepared to disseminate the stolen emails:

Assuming that the dissemination of the stolen Hillary Clinton emails formed part of the conspiracy to defraud the United States that Mueller has already alleged against multiple Russian citizens and entities — on the theory, for example, that such dissemination constituted a foreign national expenditure or financial disbursement for the purpose of influencing federal elections — Papadopoulos could be charged with accomplice liability if at the time he learned of the Russian plan he knowingly and intentionally encouraged them to go forward. Such encouragement could take the form of words or actions. The key piece of information that we have learned is that Papadopoulos learned of the Russian plan before they acted. What we do not yet know, though Mueller presumably knows, is how Papadopoulos reacted to this information. Did he stand mute, or did he push the Russian plan forward? His own liability, and the liability of those who might have been telling Papadopoulos what to do, could turn in part on this question.

What about the subsequent actions of other Trump campaign officials like Donald Trump Jr. and his interactions with the Russians? Whiting explained:

Donald Trump, Jr.’s excitement some weeks later at the prospect of receiving “dirt” on Hillary Clinton certainly suggests a posture of encouragement within the campaign with respect to the actions by the Russians. To the extent we are looking for indications that the campaign aided and abetted the Russian activities through words or actions, the Don, Jr. emails provide a big clue.

Barbara McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and former federal prosecutor, explained that if Papadopoulos encouraged the Russians efforts to disseminate the stolen emails, he could potentially be liable under aiding and abetting or conspiracy, and so could the campaign itself be criminally liable as an organization:

The language in the FISA application supports a legal theory that, if the facts pan out, Papadopoulos may have aided and abetted or conspired with others to defraud the United States by interfering with the fair administration of our election. Mueller would need to show the Papadopoulos either intentionally helped or encouraged the commission of the crime. The conduct could be imputed to the campaign if Mueller can establish that Papadopoulos was acting in the scope of his employment for the benefit of the campaign.

Bauer has also twice written for Just Security on the potential criminal liability of the Trump campaign as an organization.

Finally, what about the potential crime of helping to conceal the Russians’ felony? Just Security’s Renato Mariotti explained how “misprision of a felony” requires not just knowledge of the underling crime but also that the defendant “actively conceal the commission of a felony.” How might that apply to the revelations in the Schiff memo? A former federal prosecutor told me:

Misprision of a felony may be an especially fruitful avenue in this case if the Russians informed the campaign about their plans to disseminate the stolen emails. We know that Papadopoulos himself lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians, and that other former campaign officials misled federal authorities about the campaign’s contacts with the Russians. These could add up to a strong case of misprision in having not only failed to notify authorities but more importantly in also having actively concealed important information about the Russians’ involvement in the DNC hack and dissemination of those stolen emails.”

So what do we know about Trump associates’ actions subsequent to the Russians’ previewing their plan to disseminate the stolen emails? Rep. Schiff highlighted the potential connections with Donald Trump’s calling on the Russians to hack and disseminate Clinton’s emails, and Don Trump Jr.’s positive response to being offered dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” One could add to those instances Don Jr.’s direct communications with WikiLeaks, Roger Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, and the head of Cambridge Analytica reaching out to Wikileaks to help release Clinton emails. There is, of course, also a long series of former Trump campaign officials’ misleading federal authorities about the campaign’s contacts with the Russians, and recent reporting that Hope Hicks allegedly said that Don. Jr. emails “will never get out” in discussions with President Trump about releasing a false statement to cover up the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.

In short, the new revelation in the Schiff memo adds an important piece to the puzzle, and helps explain why Mueller’s team is asking former campaign associates what they knew about the Russian hack and plans to disseminate stolen emails and when they knew it.



Full text of Rep. Schiff’s remarks on All In with Chris Hayes:

REP. SCHIFF: “It’s also I think significant that our memo discloses for the first time that the Russians previewed to Papadopoulos that they could help with disseminating these stolen emails. So weeks later when Don Jr. goes into that meeting, when he writes back to those offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, he says, ‘If it’s what I think it is, I would love it.’ And we now know and we can talk publicly about that fact that the campaign, at least George Papadopoulos, was aware both that the Russians had these stolen emails and that they were prepared to help with the dissemination of those emails.”

HAYES: “That was one of several things that stuck out to me. Can you speak a little bit more about that? We know that there was this sort of cut out figure that was telling him that the Russians had the emails. Tell us, what did they say further about help in disseminating them?”

REP. SCHIFF: “Well, unfortunately, I can’t go beyond what the Department of Justice has authorized us to disclose in the memo, but I think it’s the first time the public’s been able to see one of the links here. And that is we knew from the Papadopoulos plea that the Russians had told the Trump campaign very early on in April 2016 that they were in possession of these stolen emails. We now know that the Department of Justice presented to the FISA Court information that the Russians previewed what they would do with this information, their dissemination of it. So when Donald Trump openly called on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, they’d be richly rewarded if they released these to the press, his campaign had already been put on notice that the Russians were prepared to do just that and disseminate these stolen emails.”




NBC’S BROKEN STORY ABOUT MUELLER CHARGING THE DNC HACKERS

March 1, 2018/
8 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Cybersecurity, Mueller Probe, Russian hacks /by empty wheel

NBC has a BROKEN story reporting that Robert Mueller is contemplating charges against the people who carried out the hack of the DNC (and other targets) in 2016.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of private information designed to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election, multiple current and former government officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

Much like the indictment Mueller filed last month charging a different group of Russians in a social media trolling and illegal-ad-buying scheme, the possible new charges are expected to rely heavily on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), several of the officials say.

Mueller’s consideration of charges accusing Russians in the hacking case has not been reported previously. Sources say he has long had sufficient evidence to make a case, but strategic issues could dictate the timing. Potential charges include violations of statutes on conspiracy, election law as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. One U.S. official briefed on the matter said the charges are not imminent, but other knowledgeable sources said they are expected in the next few weeks or months. It’s also possible Mueller opts not to move forward because of concerns about exposing intelligence or other reasons — or that he files the indictment under seal, so the public doesn’t see it initially.


As they have frequently of late, they misunderstand the story they’re telling. They misunderstand this sentence, entirely.

Mueller’s consideration of charges accusing Russians in the hacking case has not been reported previously.


It’s not news, at all, that DOJ was considering charges against those who carried out the hack. Nor is it news that DOJ had enough evidence to charge people in it.

Here’s what WSJ reported on those two topics in November, almost exactly four months ago.

The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said.

[snip]

The pinpointing of particular Russian military and intelligence hackers highlights the exhaustive nature of the government’s probe. It also suggests the eagerness of some federal prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to file charges against those responsible, even if the result is naming the alleged perpetrators publicly and making it difficult for them to travel, rather than incarcerating them. Arresting Russian operatives is highly unlikely, people familiar with the probe said.


So: not news that DOJ had pinpointed Russians responsible, not news they were planning on charges “next year” last year, which would mean, “this year” this year.

What is news is that this reporting from the WSJ report is no longer operative.

Federal prosecutors and federal agents working in Washington, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Philadelphia have been collaborating on the DNC investigation. The inquiry is being conducted separately from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion by President Donald Trump’s associates.

[snip]

The Justice Department and FBI investigation into the DNC hack had been under way for nearly a year, by prosecutors and agents with cyber expertise, before Mr. Mueller was appointed in May. Rather than take over the relatively technical cyber investigation, Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department agreed that it would be better for the original prosecutors and agents to retain that aspect of the case, the people familiar with the Justice Department-FBI probe said. [my emphasis]


Mind you, we’ve since learned that Ryan Dickey got added to Mueller’s team … oh, in November. And contrary to what NBC says about the heavy reliance, in the Internet Research Agency indictment, “on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),” it really wasn’t all that sophisticated from a cybersecurity standpoint. Especially not once you consider the interesting forensics on it (aside from IDing the IRA’s VPNs) would have come from Facebook and Twitter.

You don’t need Dickey’s talents for the IRA indictment. You need him for something that is technical.

I’ll leave it for you to consider what it means that Mueller subsumed this part of the investigation even as WSJ was reporting he wasn’t going to do that. I’ll leave you to consider, too, what it means that they brought in a prosecutor with the ability to try these things.

But understand that the news here is not that DOJ is contemplating indicting the people behind the DNC hack. WSJ already scooped that story. It’s that Mueller, not prosecutors in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Philadelphia, are going to charge it.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/01/n ... c-hackers/



RED SPILL
Exclusive: Secret Documents From Russia’s Election Trolls Leak
An online auction gone awry reveals substantial new details about how the Kremlin-backed troll farm ginned up IRL protests and targeted specific Americans to push their propaganda.

BEN COLLINS
GIDEON RESNICK
SPENCER ACKERMAN
03.01.18 9:02 PM ET
The Kremlin-backed troll farm at the center of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election has quietly suffered a catastrophic security breach, The Daily Beast has confirmed, in a leak that spilled new details of its operations onto obscure corners of the internet.

The Russian “information exchange” Joker.Buzz, which auctions off often stolen or confidential information, advertised a leak for a large cache of the Internet Research Agency’s (IRA) internal documents. It includes names of Americans, activists in particular, whom the organization specifically targeted; American-based proxies used to access Reddit and the viral meme site 9Gag; and login information for troll farm accounts.

Even the advertisement for the document dump provides a trove of previously unknown information about the breadth of Russia’s disinformation effort in the United States, including rallies pushed by IRA social media accounts that turned violent.

While special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent conspiracy indictment against the IRA showed a sophisticated organization aimed at targeting U.S. voters with disinformation, the seller appears not to have understood the implications of the auction.

The listing was titled “Savushkina 55,” the physical address in St. Petersburg from which the troll farm used to operate. The date on the auction is listed as Feb. 10, 2017—seven months before Facebook and Twitter identified and pulled down Internet Research Agency accounts from Twitter. It received no bids. The seller, “AlexDA,” has not posted any other listings, and was unable to be reached. In Russian, the listing promised “working data from the department focused on the United States.”

“The leaks show that Russian imposter accounts targeted activists for specific causes the Kremlin-backed troll farm wanted promoted. On the target list: the daughter of one of Martin Luther King’s lieutenants.”


While the date of the auction could not be independently confirmed, the authenticity of the leak can. The leaked documents list screen names connected to a number of American citizens who were used as unwitting proxies by the Russians. The Daily Beast was able to track down four of those citizens, whose names have not been previously revealed. The leak contains precise dates in 2016 in which the IRA-created account Blacktivist reached out to those U.S. citizens, plus a short description of the conversations. The Daily Beast spoke to those citizens, and confirmed they interacted with the Blacktivist account in the ways described by the IRA in the document. In one case, the American even provided screenshots of his interactions with the Russian troll trying to dupe him.


In short, the leaked document contains details of the Russian disinformation campaign that have not been previously made public—details which The Daily Beast was able to confirm.

The leak shows that even as the Russian trolls were able to influence and manipulate American political discourse online, they were less equipped to keep their own secrets. While The Daily Beast does not possess anything close to a comprehensive trove of the IRA’s internal operations, it is now likely that substantial amounts of the troll farm’s files are waiting to be discovered online.

But what The Daily Beast has seen provides a new level of texture and detail to the IRA’s U.S. efforts, online and off. While the troll farm’s use of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook is now well-known, the leak shows that the Internet Research Agency also operated on Reddit and had a substantial footprint on Tumblr. They documented and tracked their personalized interactions with specific, unsuspecting Americans, some of whom are named in the leaks.

Those outreach efforts display conceptual sophistication. The leaks show that IRA imposter accounts targeted activists for specific causes the Russians wanted promoted. On the target list: the daughter of one of Martin Luther King’s lieutenants.

But the leaks also provide a glimpse into the troll farm’s weaknesses. Some of the Americans the group contacted described receiving impersonal entreaties from unfamiliar accounts, asking for trivial aid and then declining to follow up. The Internet Research Agency might have known how to leverage social media, but they knew far less about how users authentically interact with each other on it—which itself attracted suspicion amongst the very people the Russians were contacting.

“I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t know who they were and why they were remaining anonymous, and I didn’t really see the need for it,” said Craig Carson, a Rochester, New York, attorney and civil rights activist who was contacted by the farm-created account Blacktivist.


Shanall LaRay Logan—who lives in Sacramento, California, and said she is active in Black Lives Matter campaigns —told The Daily Beast that these kind of trolling overtures are “actually just counterproductive to our movement.”

The leaks also reveal the IRA’s previously unreported connection to two additional 2016 rallies, one outside Atlanta and another in western New York, The Daily Beast can now confirm. One of them turned violent.

Tricks of the Trolls

On Feb. 16, Mueller indicted 13 people for their involvement in the Russian troll farm. The allegations have yet to be proven in court—and may never be, given the unlikelihood of Russia arresting and extraditing them for trial. But, combined with the leaked IRA documents, they provide a glimpse into the organization’s tradecraft.

Mueller describes an extensive operation, both online and off, beginning in 2014, to “sow discord in the U.S. political system.” What the Internet Research Agency called its “Translator Project” involved over 80 employees and a monthly budget that stretched to over $1.25 million. As U.S. elections approached, its internal understanding of its goal was to engender American “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” By February 2016, with the U.S. presidential election looming, it emphasized attacking Hillary Clinton, both from the right and the left simultaneously.

Its means included physical reconnaissance. Two IRA employees went on a road trip to visit nine American states stretching from New York to California “to gather intelligence” in June 2014. Five months later, a colleague spent another four days in Atlanta.

One of the employees who visited America was Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, then the head of the troll farm’s Department of Analytics. The auction of the leaked IRA data offers a glimpse into that department’s work, which appears focused on understanding America and teasing out the most contentious issues. One department folder is titled “US Migration Policy,” which would prove a cornerstone of the IRA’s most divisive trolling. Other folders cover “The ruling political oligarch,” “False promises of America,” and “Air strike costs”—likely a reference to Trump’s bombing of a Syrian military airfield, which Putin condemned and the IRA attacked as a waste of taxpayer money. One folder simply reads “Obama.”

“The leak shows that even as the Russian trolls were able to influence and manipulate American political discourse online, they were less equipped to keep their own secrets.”
After completing its recon, a key tactic of the troll farm was to present its offerings as authentically American. They stole actual Americans’ identities and established false cover identities online. A consistent approach was to posture as supporters of passionate causes. But those causes varied wildly across the political spectrum. Some Internet Research Agency-created accounts pretended to be Muslim groups, others anti-Muslim activists. They were advocates of black liberation on one hand and its most fervent American critics on the other—whatever was necessary to aggravate long-standing and very real American divisions.

Social media—particularly YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—magnified the troll farm’s reach. The money flowing into the Internet Research Agency’s coffers paid for a graphics department, data analytics, and other tools to improve their product, and they tailored their English-language propaganda to show up prominently in Google searches. One employee bragged: “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

But spreading misinformation on social media wasn’t enough. By summer 2016, the Internet Research Agency wanted to prompt Americans into the streets. Using tools like Facebook’s events page, they staged and promoted rallies for Donald Trump and against Clinton.

Just as social media permitted the IRA to scale a message up to reach millions, the same tools permitted person-to-person interaction to ensnare unwitting proxies. The troll farm’s employees, posturing as Americans, would “send individualized messages to real U.S. persons to request that they participate in and help organize” such rallies. Sometimes they had specific requests for unsuspecting activists: build a cage on a flatbed truck, or wear a costume to play-act Clinton heading to jail. For a June 23, 2016 rally, they solicited an American to recruit attendees to a pro-Trump rally with the promise of “giv[ing] you money to print posters and get a megaphone.”

The material leaked from the troll farm sheds additional light onto both the scope and the granularity of the tactics employed. In some cases, the efforts helped stoke clashes that turned violent. In others, they amounted to little but the occasional Facebook message to activists who were going to turn out for issue-based protests anyway. Flush with cash, the Internet Research Agency could afford to spread its bets.

Hyping the Hate

The Russians chose their potential American targets carefully. As they sought to promote conflict at a rally in Stone Mountain, Georgia, the leaks indicate the Internet Research Agency reached out to a woman whose legacy hearkens back to the heart of the civil rights movement.

At a young age, in 1966, Barbara Williams Emerson protested the harassment of black students in Grenada, Mississippi, and was arrested for her efforts. She was following in the footsteps of her parents—one of whom is Hosea Williams, a key Martin Luther King Jr. lieutenant in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

After earning a Purple Heart as part of Gen George Patton’s (segregated) army, Hosea Williams endured a vicious beating for drinking out of a whites-only water fountain in his native Georgia. He would later organize voter-registration drives in the Deep South during the pivotal Freedom Summer of 1964 and march across the Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. He took his fight to the Georgia Senate and the Atlanta City Council. While serving on the council in 1987, Williams, then 61 years old, confronted the Klan during a march through a segregated Forsyth County town. At that march, The New York Times reported at the time, a mob of “hundreds if not thousands” of rabid whites, David Duke among them, shouted “Nigger, go home!” Today a road in Atlanta bears his name.

“As pro- and anti-white supremacy groups prepared to square off, the Russian troll farm appeared to take notice of this brewing animosity—and amplified it.”
Williams’ daughter Emerson, now an academic and activist, told The Daily Beast she was familiar with the Blacktivist imposter account, but marginally so. Their posts started showing up in her feed, and she remembered Liking an article on its now-shuttered Facebook page, but “I don’t think I was contacted directly,” she said, and definitely not with any offer of money or resources. Despite whatever inroads Blacktivist might have sought to make with her, Emerson, who lives near Stone Mountain, didn’t even attend the protest that Blacktivist hyped.

“I remember thinking that whole Stone Mountain monuments thing… the removal of Confederate images was an example of a distraction of energy and action from real racist issues and policies,” Emerson said. “Now I’m seeing how that whole trolling process might have worked.”

The event at Stone Mountain took place on April 23, 2016, approximately 25 miles from the 2014 Atlanta recon operation Mueller accuses the IRA of performing. (A U.S. official confirmed to The Daily Beast that Blacktivist aggressively pushed the Stone Mountain rally.)

According to a contemporaneous report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, demonstrators showed up to confront a group of white nationalists that numbered around two dozen people. At least eight of the counterprotesters were reportedly arrested. CNN reported from the scene that day saying that counterdemonstrators vastly outnumbered the white nationalists and that one of the individuals from the pro-white group allegedly threw a smoke bomb at law enforcement on the scene.

The organizers of the event billed it as “Rock Stone Mountain,” and it was intended to draw attention to Confederate history. It was held days before Georgia’s Confederate Memorial Day. An anti-white supremacy group called All Out Atlanta, was on hand that day as well to counterprotest. All Out Atlanta did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast.

The IRA appeared to take notice of this brewing animosity and amplified the event on several of the Tumblr pages it was operating at the time.

A troll farm account whose credentials are listed in the leak, This-Truly-Brutal-World.tumblr.com, repeatedly shared advertisements “Not My Heritage” protests created by fellow IRA account BlackMatters, including rallies in Stone Mountain, and Jackson, Mississippi. An advertisement for the protest in Jackson said it would take place at “14 PM,” and used guillemets instead of quotation marks in the invitation to “Join us for а «NOT MY HERITAGE» rally.”

BlackMatters.Com, another known IRA imposter website, has a section devoted to Not My Heritage protests. The Twitter account @NotMyHeritage, which linked to the protests, was identified as an IRA-backed account in a list released by Congressional investigators in November.

The “Not My Heritage” protest in Stone Mountain didn’t just receive press attention from CNN and local papers.

Russian propaganda network RT pushed two videos shot by a network videographer from the day’s events in an article titled “Anti-racism protesters clash with police at Confederate rally in Georgia.” The videos are under the branding of RT’s “video news agency” Ruptly.

In the story, the propaganda network repeatedly blames anti-racist protesters for violence.

“Tear gas and stun grenades were used, and arrests were made—but none on the Confederate side,” the article accompanying the video reads.

‘They Knew I'd Be Active’
In the same month, based on the Internet Research Agency leak, Blacktivist appeared to have reached out to actual or potential attendees of an April 2016 rally for India Cummings, a black woman who died suspiciously in police custody, in Buffalo, New York.

When Dierra Jenkins, a Buffalo-based woman active in the local civil rights community, first came across Blacktivist, she thought its heavy concentration of Buffalo-focused content meant its creators were local. She was named in the Internet Research Agency leak, and confirmed to The Daily Beast that the account contacted her about the Cummings rally. “I do a lot of activist work in Buffalo,” Jenkins said. “Whoever was running that page, I thought, was from Buffalo, because they were posting stuff that was happening in Buffalo.” (An attorney for the Cummings family, Matt Albert—who is not named in the leak—was familiar with Blacktivist, but said the imposter account had no role in setting up any demonstrations on Cummings’ behalf.)

Shortly before the protest, Jenkins said, Blacktivist’s Facebook page contacted her over Messenger, with “no indication why,” to send her an invitation to the demonstration. She was familiar with the Blacktivist page but hadn’t previously interacted with it or anyone affiliated with it—making it likely that the Russian imposters were fishing for attendees based on similar interests visible on Facebook.

Another person identified in the leaked IRA documents, Rochester attorney and activist Craig Carson, said he interacted with Blacktivist in approximately three to five conversations, primarily through Facebook’s Messenger function, though he had a vague recollection that the account might have left the occasional comment on his page after he posted Blactivist material. The conversations took place around the April rally for India Cummings, and for Carson, Blacktivist had a specific request: to print out flyers with their visuals to bring to the rally.

“It seemed like they were reaching out to me because they knew I’d be active, that I’d be at the protest or the demo—‘Be sure to print this out,’” Carson recalled, and he distributed the flyers.

Carson couldn’t deny that the material was useful and contributed to his own desire to see justice for Cummings’ death in custody. Yet several things about Blactivist seemed off to him. No one in western New York’s social justice community knew them, and yet Blacktivist’s Facebook page had tens of thousands of Likes. They seemed to be spouting Black Lives Matter buzzwords without understanding their meaning.

So Carson tested his Blacktivist interlocutor. What was his or her favorite Prince record? What kind of syrup did they like on their pancakes? The account wasn’t prepared to go off-script—though Carson remembers that Blacktivist said it was partial to Purple Rain.

“They kind of stepped in the shoes of someone who’d make a protest sign or visual PDF for your Facebook event page. It never really struck us as odd or out of place, it was genuine help, but it was weird, like, who the fuck are you?” Carson said. After a few weeks’ worth of India Cummings-centered actions, Blacktivist disappeared from the western New York civil rights community as quickly as it arrived, Carson recalled.

Noah Westfall, another person named as being contacted by affiliates with the Internet Research Agency, lives in Buffalo, New York. In 2016, he wanted to participate in the April protest at the Erie County Holding Center on Cummings’ behalf. Prior to the protest, he had an interaction with a now deactivated Facebook user about the event.

According to screenshots of the alleged conversation provided by Westfall to The Daily Beast, he was messaged on April 3 in the afternoon and told “We need a volunteer to help us with signing the petition/printing posters.”

The user also informed Westfall: “It would be cool if you could also periscope the protest.”

He was subsequently sent a petition and a set of posters to use and was encouraged to put them on cardboard.

The user also added that they had “two more volunteers who have the printed petition too so it would be cool if you cooperate with them so that we won’t have 3 different petitions signed.”

Ultimately, Westfall did not attend. Three weeks later, the user sent a link to another Facebook event and said “you are welcome to attend our protest, on Monday, May 2.”

Westfall had no way of knowing that his interlocutor was not who he said he was, and wouldn’t be at the rally the Internet Research Agency had seen fit to co-opt.

—with additional reporting by Josh Russell, Adam Rawnsley, and Kevin Poulsen
https://www.thedailybeast.com/exclusive ... rolls-leak


seemslikeadream » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:49 am wrote:sure no problem but like I said 100+ charges and felony convictions since the video make the title a little dated :)

6 pages added to this thread since that video was posted

The full list of known indictments and plea deals in Mueller’s probe
1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the FBI.

2) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December to making false statements to the FBI.

3) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted in October in Washington, DC on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets — all related to his work for Ukrainian politicians before he joined the Trump campaign. He’s pleaded not guilty on all counts. Then, in February, Mueller filed a new case against him in Virginia, with tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

4) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But he has now agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.

5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an id
entity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine.
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... grand-jury


seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:08 am wrote:to be fair I do not mind at all debating trump talking points :P

0_0 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:47 am wrote:There is still zero proof of any of that more than a year later.


what are you talking about 5 people have pled guilty .......if there was no proof why would they pled guilty?
and I would add they've pled guilty to small offenses because they are cooperating and giving evidence against others

The full list of known indictments and plea deals in Mueller’s probe
1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the FBI.

2) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December to making false statements to the FBI.


3) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted in October in Washington, DC on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets — all related to his work for Ukrainian politicians before he joined the Trump campaign. He’s pleaded not guilty on all counts. Then, in February, Mueller filed a new case against him in Virginia, with tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

4) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But he has now agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.

5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine.





0_0 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:47 am wrote:
but let's not pretend Trump is some kind of exception in this regard.


I definitely do not pretend

I can't believe you would say that....in order for you to say that you must have ignored everything in the trump threads
Trump Is Officially the Worst President Ever
…according to a new survey of political scholars.

Donald Trump comes in dead last in his debut ranking. Among Democratic scholars, he’s far and away last. Among independent scholars, he’s second to last. Even among Republican scholars, he’s bottom five.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... dent-ever/


no other president ever said he could shot someone and get away with it

no president says he'd like to be president for life

no other president has cuddled up to every frickin dictator on this planet

no president has ever had his very own propaganda network

'Pure madness': Dark days inside the White House as Trump shocks and rages

Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility - with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center.
As one official put it: "We haven't bottomed out."
"Pure madness," lamented one exasperated ally.
https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Pur ... 725669.php


trump is KING!

The great danger in all of this is that a man who knows little but is pretending to know much can easily be manipulated by those who know more.

Trump: King of Chaos

Charles M. Blow
MARCH 4, 2018

That seemed to be the descriptor most tossed around last week to capture the circus around Donald Trump.

But I think chaos is the fruit of this poison tree, not the root of it. That is to say that I don’t believe that Trump desires chaos because he feels most at peace when the world around him is experiencing pandemonium.

Rather, I believe that this chaos is the perpetual result of the absolute incompetence and idiocy of a preening philistine who has faked his way through life pretending that he knows more than he does and is tougher than he is.

He has two diametrically opposed impulses.

On the one hand, he latches on to outlandish ideas, or simple, emotional aspects of complicated issues, or conspiratorial drivel, and he vests the whole of his emotional energy into proving their veracity, often against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. President Obama wasn’t born in America. Obama used the F.B.I. to spy on him. There were good people on both sides in Charlottesville. The “fake news media” is the enemy of the American people. The whole Russia investigation is a hoax. He’s doing a good job as president.

On the other hand, and with other issues, his convictions are not fixed at all, but ephemeral and fleeting, changing from moment to moment, like the pattern of fog on a glass.

This is when you can see that he is clearly faking it. He wants so desperately to be right that he says whatever his audience — whether that be a small group or a filled arena, whether that be members of Congress or fans at a rally — want to hear and will respond to.


This is how you can get wildly vacillating positions and bold, empty promises in bipartisan meetings with the man — whether those meetings are about addressing DACA and immigration or about addressing gun control after the school shooting in Florida.

And one thing that clearly comes across in those meetings is how much he talks rather than listens. It’s all about what he believes, what he would do, how courageous he is, how conciliatory he is, how smart he is about the subject.

That is precisely how you know that none of it is true, and that he is simply stringing together a jumble of words into conflicting ideas. You see a fear of being exposed as an idiot and fraud. As Friedrich Nietzsche once put it: “Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.”

So Trump simply bulldozes his way through, boasting and bragging, distracting and dissembling, making promises without making sense.

People used to dealing with a sane, logical person who generally doesn’t lie and generally makes sense are left scratching their heads, wondering whether to believe what they have heard, whether to make plans and policies around it.

Believing anything Trump says is a recipe for a headache and heartache. The old rules no longer apply. We see the world as through a window — as it is, even if we are a bit removed from the whole of it.

Trump sees it as if in a house of mirrors — everything reflecting some distorted version of him. His reality always seems to return to a kind of delusional narcissism.

The only way that a person can live out a life in this fashion is to be a liar and a fraud. That’s why the majority of Americans find him unlikable and unfit. Character still matters.

The great danger in all of this is that a man who knows little but is pretending to know much can easily be manipulated by those who know more.

For instance, according to The New York Times, leading up to Trump’s hurriedly announcing his potentially disastrous steel and aluminum tariffs:

“Supporters of the tariffs have begun broadcasting televised ads in recent days during programs that Mr. Trump has been known to watch. One such ad ran on Fox News minutes before the president’s Twitter post on Thursday morning.”

He made the move against the advice of his own director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, and his defense secretary, Jim Mattis.

As is Trump’s wont, he doubled down defending his hasty decision by trying to render something fraught and nuanced as simple and easy.

He tweeted Friday, at 5:50 a.m. no less, that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Only a simpleton with no true comprehension of global trade systems would say such a thing. And he did.

As is the case most often with this man, the subjects aren’t simple, but his understanding is.

It is this constant attempt to render the big things small and to make his limited knowledge and ability appear not only sufficient but extraordinary, that leads to Trump’s constant state of chaos.

Trump keeps trying to bend the world to meet him, rather than rising to meet the world. That has never worked and never will. It only compounds the chaos.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/opin ... chaos.html


Mueller's leaked 'hit list' may indicate he's treating Trump's team like a 'criminal enterprise'

A grand-jury subpoena from the special counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly targets most of Donald Trump's senior campaign team, including the president.
The news website Axios reported that Mueller would subpoena communications from nine leaders of Trump's campaign and Trump himself.
A former CIA officer said the subpoena indicated Mueller was treating Trump's team like a "criminal enterprise."
A grand-jury subpoena from the special counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly targets the majority of Donald Trump's senior campaign team, including the president.

The subpoena, seen by and labeled a "hit list" by the news website Axios, asks for all texts, letters, handwritten notes, or communications of any kind starting from November 1, 2015, between one unnamed witness and the following people:

Carter Page, a former investment banker and campaign foreign-policy adviser.

Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign manager.

Hope Hicks, Trump's outgoing communications director.

Keith Schiller, Trump's former bodyguard and confidant.

Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney for Trump.

Paul Manafort, Trump's already indicted campaign chairman.

Rick Gates, the deputy chairman of Trump's presidential campaign who is now cooperating with Mueller.

Roger Stone, an adviser to Trump who left the campaign before November 1, 2015, but has admitted to having contact with
WikiLeaks, the organization that leaked hacked emails from the Democratic National Convention.

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist under Trump.

And, finally, Donald Trump himself makes the list.

November 1, 2015, the start of the subpoena's request, came nearly five months after Trump announced his candidacy.

In response to the report, Ned Price, a former CIA official who advised President Barack Obama and resigned from the agency rather than work for Trump's administration, tweeted that the subpoena indicated "Mueller is treating it like a criminal enterprise."

Price pointed out that the inclusion of Roger Stone, who worked with the campaign only briefly and had no subsequent role in the White House — but was found to have communicated with WikiLeaks — may indicate the subpoena is not about questions of obstruction of justice but instead whether Trump's team colluded with Russia.

Trump has repeatedly denied obstructing justice in the investigation or colluding with foreign agents, making "no collusion" a rallying cry on Twitter.
http://www.businessinsider.com/muellers ... ise-2018-3
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


-- empty wheel
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 27231
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Location: into the black
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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:57 am

seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:56 am wrote:
0_0 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:53 am wrote:it proves the toxic effect this narrative has slad


you can't address this so you change the subject ...typical of trump speak

seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:08 am wrote:to be fair I do not mind at all debating trump talking points :P

0_0 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:47 am wrote:There is still zero proof of any of that more than a year later.


what are you talking about 5 people have pled guilty .......if there was no proof why would they pled guilty?
and I would add they've pled guilty to small offenses because they are cooperating and giving evidence against others

The full list of known indictments and plea deals in Mueller’s probe
1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the FBI.

2) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December to making false statements to the FBI.


3) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted in October in Washington, DC on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets — all related to his work for Ukrainian politicians before he joined the Trump campaign. He’s pleaded not guilty on all counts. Then, in February, Mueller filed a new case against him in Virginia, with tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

4) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But he has now agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.

5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine.





0_0 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:47 am wrote:
but let's not pretend Trump is some kind of exception in this regard.


I definitely do not pretend

I can't believe you would say that....in order for you to say that you must have ignored everything in the trump threads
Trump Is Officially the Worst President Ever
…according to a new survey of political scholars.

Donald Trump comes in dead last in his debut ranking. Among Democratic scholars, he’s far and away last. Among independent scholars, he’s second to last. Even among Republican scholars, he’s bottom five.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... dent-ever/


no other president ever said he could shot someone and get away with it

no president says he'd like to be president for life

no other president has cuddled up to every frickin dictator on this planet

no president has ever had his very own propaganda network

'Pure madness': Dark days inside the White House as Trump shocks and rages

Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility - with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center.
As one official put it: "We haven't bottomed out."
"Pure madness," lamented one exasperated ally.
https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Pur ... 725669.php


trump is KING!

The great danger in all of this is that a man who knows little but is pretending to know much can easily be manipulated by those who know more.

Trump: King of Chaos

Charles M. Blow
MARCH 4, 2018

That seemed to be the descriptor most tossed around last week to capture the circus around Donald Trump.

But I think chaos is the fruit of this poison tree, not the root of it. That is to say that I don’t believe that Trump desires chaos because he feels most at peace when the world around him is experiencing pandemonium.

Rather, I believe that this chaos is the perpetual result of the absolute incompetence and idiocy of a preening philistine who has faked his way through life pretending that he knows more than he does and is tougher than he is.

He has two diametrically opposed impulses.

On the one hand, he latches on to outlandish ideas, or simple, emotional aspects of complicated issues, or conspiratorial drivel, and he vests the whole of his emotional energy into proving their veracity, often against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. President Obama wasn’t born in America. Obama used the F.B.I. to spy on him. There were good people on both sides in Charlottesville. The “fake news media” is the enemy of the American people. The whole Russia investigation is a hoax. He’s doing a good job as president.

On the other hand, and with other issues, his convictions are not fixed at all, but ephemeral and fleeting, changing from moment to moment, like the pattern of fog on a glass.

This is when you can see that he is clearly faking it. He wants so desperately to be right that he says whatever his audience — whether that be a small group or a filled arena, whether that be members of Congress or fans at a rally — want to hear and will respond to.


This is how you can get wildly vacillating positions and bold, empty promises in bipartisan meetings with the man — whether those meetings are about addressing DACA and immigration or about addressing gun control after the school shooting in Florida.

And one thing that clearly comes across in those meetings is how much he talks rather than listens. It’s all about what he believes, what he would do, how courageous he is, how conciliatory he is, how smart he is about the subject.

That is precisely how you know that none of it is true, and that he is simply stringing together a jumble of words into conflicting ideas. You see a fear of being exposed as an idiot and fraud. As Friedrich Nietzsche once put it: “Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.”

So Trump simply bulldozes his way through, boasting and bragging, distracting and dissembling, making promises without making sense.

People used to dealing with a sane, logical person who generally doesn’t lie and generally makes sense are left scratching their heads, wondering whether to believe what they have heard, whether to make plans and policies around it.

Believing anything Trump says is a recipe for a headache and heartache. The old rules no longer apply. We see the world as through a window — as it is, even if we are a bit removed from the whole of it.

Trump sees it as if in a house of mirrors — everything reflecting some distorted version of him. His reality always seems to return to a kind of delusional narcissism.

The only way that a person can live out a life in this fashion is to be a liar and a fraud. That’s why the majority of Americans find him unlikable and unfit. Character still matters.

The great danger in all of this is that a man who knows little but is pretending to know much can easily be manipulated by those who know more.

For instance, according to The New York Times, leading up to Trump’s hurriedly announcing his potentially disastrous steel and aluminum tariffs:

“Supporters of the tariffs have begun broadcasting televised ads in recent days during programs that Mr. Trump has been known to watch. One such ad ran on Fox News minutes before the president’s Twitter post on Thursday morning.”

He made the move against the advice of his own director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, and his defense secretary, Jim Mattis.

As is Trump’s wont, he doubled down defending his hasty decision by trying to render something fraught and nuanced as simple and easy.

He tweeted Friday, at 5:50 a.m. no less, that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Only a simpleton with no true comprehension of global trade systems would say such a thing. And he did.

As is the case most often with this man, the subjects aren’t simple, but his understanding is.

It is this constant attempt to render the big things small and to make his limited knowledge and ability appear not only sufficient but extraordinary, that leads to Trump’s constant state of chaos.

Trump keeps trying to bend the world to meet him, rather than rising to meet the world. That has never worked and never will. It only compounds the chaos.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/opin ... chaos.html


Mueller's leaked 'hit list' may indicate he's treating Trump's team like a 'criminal enterprise'

A grand-jury subpoena from the special counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly targets most of Donald Trump's senior campaign team, including the president.
The news website Axios reported that Mueller would subpoena communications from nine leaders of Trump's campaign and Trump himself.
A former CIA officer said the subpoena indicated Mueller was treating Trump's team like a "criminal enterprise."
A grand-jury subpoena from the special counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly targets the majority of Donald Trump's senior campaign team, including the president.

The subpoena, seen by and labeled a "hit list" by the news website Axios, asks for all texts, letters, handwritten notes, or communications of any kind starting from November 1, 2015, between one unnamed witness and the following people:

Carter Page, a former investment banker and campaign foreign-policy adviser.

Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign manager.

Hope Hicks, Trump's outgoing communications director.

Keith Schiller, Trump's former bodyguard and confidant.

Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney for Trump.

Paul Manafort, Trump's already indicted campaign chairman.

Rick Gates, the deputy chairman of Trump's presidential campaign who is now cooperating with Mueller.

Roger Stone, an adviser to Trump who left the campaign before November 1, 2015, but has admitted to having contact with
WikiLeaks, the organization that leaked hacked emails from the Democratic National Convention.

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist under Trump.

And, finally, Donald Trump himself makes the list.

November 1, 2015, the start of the subpoena's request, came nearly five months after Trump announced his candidacy.

In response to the report, Ned Price, a former CIA official who advised President Barack Obama and resigned from the agency rather than work for Trump's administration, tweeted that the subpoena indicated "Mueller is treating it like a criminal enterprise."

Price pointed out that the inclusion of Roger Stone, who worked with the campaign only briefly and had no subsequent role in the White House — but was found to have communicated with WikiLeaks — may indicate the subpoena is not about questions of obstruction of justice but instead whether Trump's team colluded with Russia.

Trump has repeatedly denied obstructing justice in the investigation or colluding with foreign agents, making "no collusion" a rallying cry on Twitter.
http://www.businessinsider.com/muellers ... ise-2018-3



seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:08 pm wrote:I am not lying ...I asked you questions before you posted that video and you are refusing to answer them by accusing me of lying

here's the questions before the video

you don't read my threads I don't watch your videos

0_0 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:53 am wrote:it proves the toxic effect this narrative has slad


you can't address this so you change the subject ...typical of trump speak

seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:08 am wrote:to be fair I do not mind at all debating trump talking points :P

0_0 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:47 am wrote:There is still zero proof of any of that more than a year later.


what are you talking about 5 people have pled guilty .......if there was no proof why would they pled guilty?
and I would add they've pled guilty to small offenses because they are cooperating and giving evidence against others

The full list of known indictments and plea deals in Mueller’s probe
1) George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the FBI.

2) Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in December to making false statements to the FBI.


3) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, was indicted in October in Washington, DC on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets — all related to his work for Ukrainian politicians before he joined the Trump campaign. He’s pleaded not guilty on all counts. Then, in February, Mueller filed a new case against him in Virginia, with tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

4) Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, was indicted on similar charges to Manafort. But he has now agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team, pleading guilty to just one false statements charge and one conspiracy charge.

5-20) 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, with some also being accused of identity theft. The charges related to a Russian propaganda effort designed to interfere with the 2016 campaign. The companies involved are the Internet Research Agency, often described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance it. The Russian nationals indicted include 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

21) Richard Pinedo: This California man pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge in connection with the Russian indictments, and has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

22) Alex van der Zwaan: This London lawyer pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and another unnamed person based in Ukraine.





0_0 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:47 am wrote:
but let's not pretend Trump is some kind of exception in this regard.


I definitely do not pretend

I can't believe you would say that....in order for you to say that you must have ignored everything in the trump threads
Trump Is Officially the Worst President Ever
…according to a new survey of political scholars.

Donald Trump comes in dead last in his debut ranking. Among Democratic scholars, he’s far and away last. Among independent scholars, he’s second to last. Even among Republican scholars, he’s bottom five.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... dent-ever/


no other president ever said he could shot someone and get away with it

no president says he'd like to be president for life

no other president has cuddled up to every frickin dictator on this planet

no president has ever had his very own propaganda network

'Pure madness': Dark days inside the White House as Trump shocks and rages

Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility - with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center.
As one official put it: "We haven't bottomed out."
"Pure madness," lamented one exasperated ally.
https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Pur ... 725669.php


trump is KING!

The great danger in all of this is that a man who knows little but is pretending to know much can easily be manipulated by those who know more.

Trump: King of Chaos

Charles M. Blow
MARCH 4, 2018

That seemed to be the descriptor most tossed around last week to capture the circus around Donald Trump.

But I think chaos is the fruit of this poison tree, not the root of it. That is to say that I don’t believe that Trump desires chaos because he feels most at peace when the world around him is experiencing pandemonium.

Rather, I believe that this chaos is the perpetual result of the absolute incompetence and idiocy of a preening philistine who has faked his way through life pretending that he knows more than he does and is tougher than he is.

He has two diametrically opposed impulses.

On the one hand, he latches on to outlandish ideas, or simple, emotional aspects of complicated issues, or conspiratorial drivel, and he vests the whole of his emotional energy into proving their veracity, often against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. President Obama wasn’t born in America. Obama used the F.B.I. to spy on him. There were good people on both sides in Charlottesville. The “fake news media” is the enemy of the American people. The whole Russia investigation is a hoax. He’s doing a good job as president.

On the other hand, and with other issues, his convictions are not fixed at all, but ephemeral and fleeting, changing from moment to moment, like the pattern of fog on a glass.

This is when you can see that he is clearly faking it. He wants so desperately to be right that he says whatever his audience — whether that be a small group or a filled arena, whether that be members of Congress or fans at a rally — want to hear and will respond to.


This is how you can get wildly vacillating positions and bold, empty promises in bipartisan meetings with the man — whether those meetings are about addressing DACA and immigration or about addressing gun control after the school shooting in Florida.

And one thing that clearly comes across in those meetings is how much he talks rather than listens. It’s all about what he believes, what he would do, how courageous he is, how conciliatory he is, how smart he is about the subject.

That is precisely how you know that none of it is true, and that he is simply stringing together a jumble of words into conflicting ideas. You see a fear of being exposed as an idiot and fraud. As Friedrich Nietzsche once put it: “Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.”

So Trump simply bulldozes his way through, boasting and bragging, distracting and dissembling, making promises without making sense.

People used to dealing with a sane, logical person who generally doesn’t lie and generally makes sense are left scratching their heads, wondering whether to believe what they have heard, whether to make plans and policies around it.

Believing anything Trump says is a recipe for a headache and heartache. The old rules no longer apply. We see the world as through a window — as it is, even if we are a bit removed from the whole of it.

Trump sees it as if in a house of mirrors — everything reflecting some distorted version of him. His reality always seems to return to a kind of delusional narcissism.

The only way that a person can live out a life in this fashion is to be a liar and a fraud. That’s why the majority of Americans find him unlikable and unfit. Character still matters.

The great danger in all of this is that a man who knows little but is pretending to know much can easily be manipulated by those who know more.

For instance, according to The New York Times, leading up to Trump’s hurriedly announcing his potentially disastrous steel and aluminum tariffs:

“Supporters of the tariffs have begun broadcasting televised ads in recent days during programs that Mr. Trump has been known to watch. One such ad ran on Fox News minutes before the president’s Twitter post on Thursday morning.”

He made the move against the advice of his own director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, and his defense secretary, Jim Mattis.

As is Trump’s wont, he doubled down defending his hasty decision by trying to render something fraught and nuanced as simple and easy.

He tweeted Friday, at 5:50 a.m. no less, that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Only a simpleton with no true comprehension of global trade systems would say such a thing. And he did.

As is the case most often with this man, the subjects aren’t simple, but his understanding is.

It is this constant attempt to render the big things small and to make his limited knowledge and ability appear not only sufficient but extraordinary, that leads to Trump’s constant state of chaos.

Trump keeps trying to bend the world to meet him, rather than rising to meet the world. That has never worked and never will. It only compounds the chaos.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/opin ... chaos.html


Mueller's leaked 'hit list' may indicate he's treating Trump's team like a 'criminal enterprise'

A grand-jury subpoena from the special counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly targets most of Donald Trump's senior campaign team, including the president.
The news website Axios reported that Mueller would subpoena communications from nine leaders of Trump's campaign and Trump himself.
A former CIA officer said the subpoena indicated Mueller was treating Trump's team like a "criminal enterprise."
A grand-jury subpoena from the special counsel Robert Mueller's team reportedly targets the majority of Donald Trump's senior campaign team, including the president.

The subpoena, seen by and labeled a "hit list" by the news website Axios, asks for all texts, letters, handwritten notes, or communications of any kind starting from November 1, 2015, between one unnamed witness and the following people:

Carter Page, a former investment banker and campaign foreign-policy adviser.

Corey Lewandowski, a Trump campaign manager.

Hope Hicks, Trump's outgoing communications director.

Keith Schiller, Trump's former bodyguard and confidant.

Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney for Trump.

Paul Manafort, Trump's already indicted campaign chairman.

Rick Gates, the deputy chairman of Trump's presidential campaign who is now cooperating with Mueller.

Roger Stone, an adviser to Trump who left the campaign before November 1, 2015, but has admitted to having contact with
WikiLeaks, the organization that leaked hacked emails from the Democratic National Convention.

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist under Trump.

And, finally, Donald Trump himself makes the list.

November 1, 2015, the start of the subpoena's request, came nearly five months after Trump announced his candidacy.

In response to the report, Ned Price, a former CIA official who advised President Barack Obama and resigned from the agency rather than work for Trump's administration, tweeted that the subpoena indicated "Mueller is treating it like a criminal enterprise."

Price pointed out that the inclusion of Roger Stone, who worked with the campaign only briefly and had no subsequent role in the White House — but was found to have communicated with WikiLeaks — may indicate the subpoena is not about questions of obstruction of justice but instead whether Trump's team colluded with Russia.

Trump has repeatedly denied obstructing justice in the investigation or colluding with foreign agents, making "no collusion" a rallying cry on Twitter.
http://www.businessinsider.com/muellers ... ise-2018-3


seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:43 pm wrote:
It’s not just Russia — Mueller is digging into Trump associates’ potentially corrupt foreign ties

He’s looking at Trump associates’ dealings with investors or governments in Qatar, the UAE, Turkey, and China.

Andrew Prokop
Mar 5, 2018, 10:50am EST

It’s now clear that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is now looking into a whole lot more than just Russia.

A set of recent reports citing witnesses interviewed in Mueller’s probe all suggest that the special counsel is pursuing angles related to potentially corrupt foreign influence on a wide range of people in Trump’s orbit — with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, and China all being mentioned as subjects of his investigators’ questioning.

First, CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, Kara Scannell, and Gloria Borger reported that Mueller was looking into Jared Kushner’s efforts to get foreign investors for his family real estate company’s projects during the transition — and that his investigators have asked witnesses about Kushner’s talks with a Chinese insurance company and with a former prime minister of Qatar.

Then, NBC News’s Carol Lee, Julia Ainsley, and Robert Windrem reported that Mueller’s team has also asked about Kushner’s conversations with potential investors from Russia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates — with an eye toward whether these business talks “later shaped White House policies.” (The report claims that Qatari officials claim to have evidence that Kushner coordinated with Gulf states to hurt Qatar, but have “decided against cooperating with Mueller for now out of fear it would further strain the country’s relations with the White House.”)

Then, this weekend, the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti, David Kirkpatrick, and Maggie Haberman reported that businessman George Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates government who visited the White House several times last year, had become a focus of Mueller’s probe. Investigators have specifically asked “about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign,” the Times reports.

Finally, Axios’s Jonathan Swan got a hold of a grand jury subpoena Mueller’s team sent to a witness this February. The subpoena demands “all communications” this person sent or received involving not only Trump himself, but nine other named Trump associates since November 1, 2015. In addition to the fact that the subpoena names many people, note that it is not limited in any way to Russia-related communications.

All this paints a picture of a very wide-ranging investigation that’s digging into not just Russian interference with the 2016 campaign and Russian ties to Trump, but potentially corrupt foreign influence involving a wide circle of Trump associates.

Is all this mainly about getting more leverage for the Russia case — or is Mueller pursuing something else big?

Now, Mueller’s investigation had already gone somewhat beyond Russia collusion, with last October’s indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on charges based on work they did for Ukrainian politicians before the 2016 campaign. But Manafort and Gates worked for the faction of Ukrainian politicians aligned with the Kremlin, so this wasn’t all that far removed from Russia. The recent reports indicate a far broader focus (though other reports make clear he’s still also looking into the central question of Russian interference, too).

The big mystery, though, is whether Mueller is focusing on all these other topics mainly out of a desire to help him make a Russia-related case — or whether potential corruption related to Gulf countries and other foreign players are now a new focus in his investigation in and of itself.

The Manafort and Gates Ukraine charges, for instance, were widely believed to be pursued by Mueller’s team primarily because he wanted one or both of them to “flip” (as Gates eventually did). So perhaps these new areas of inquiry are mainly aimed at getting more leverage over Trump associates, so they’d feel pressure to cooperate and provide valuable Russia-related information.

Alternatively, Mueller could have discovered something big in his investigation unrelated to Russia — through records he’s uncovered, witnesses, or perhaps his three cooperating ex-Trump aides (Gates, Michael Flynn, and George Papadopoulos) — that seems serious and important enough to merit him devoting his resources to it.

Both seem like possibilities. Mueller has 17 prosecutors on his team, so he can look into many things at the same time. Still, he hardly has unlimited resources, and the Russian interference topic is enormously complex. But whether his team is asking these questions to get Russia-related leverage, or to look into what could be an entirely new scandal, it’s clear there’s some reason behind it. Only the special counsel’s team, however, knows what that is.
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... er-mueller


seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:56 pm wrote:
seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:16 am wrote:how lovely to be able to wake up and post the Attorney General had been interviewed by the Special Council :evilgrin


beware the conclusion that Sessions would only be interviewed on obstruction charges (though that would be included)....he was involved in discussions of meetings w/Russians, one step removed from email offer.

maybe Stephen Miller's discussions with George Papadopoulos are why Jeff Sessions can't recall any email discussions?

Image

Sessions Is Interviewed in Mueller’s Russia Investigation

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDTJAN. 23, 2018


Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed in the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Tom Brenner/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week by the special counsel’s office as part of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election and whether the president obstructed justice since taking office, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.

The meeting marked the first time that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are known to have interviewed a member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet.

The spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, confirmed that the interview occurred in response to questions from The New York Times.

Mr. Sessions announced in March that he had recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 election, including the Russia inquiry. The disclosure came after it was revealed that Mr. Sessions had not told Congress that he met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, during the campaign. Mr. Sessions was an early supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidential run.

When Mr. Trump learned in March that Mr. Sessions was considering whether to recuse himself, the president had the White House’s top lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, lobby Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the Russia investigation.

Mr. Sessions instead followed the guidance of career prosecutors at the Justice Department, who advised him that he should not be involved with the investigation. When Mr. Trump was told of this, the president erupted in anger, saying he needed an attorney general to protect him.

As attorney general, Mr. Sessions was deeply involved in the firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. But Mr. Sessions’s recusal has left him with no control of Mr. Mueller — something the president has repeatedly carped about publicly and privately.

After Mr. Mueller was appointed in May, Mr. Trump again erupted at Mr. Sessions and Mr. Sessions offered to resign. Several days later, Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Sessions’s offer.

Mr. Sessions, who was accompanied by the longtime Washington lawyer Chuck Cooper to the interview, had been among a small group of senior campaign and administration officials whom Mr. Mueller had not yet interviewed. Two weeks ago, Mr. Mueller subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, to testify before a grand jury. Mr. Mueller is expected to forgo the grand jury appearance for now and will have his investigators interview Mr. Bannon in the coming weeks.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/p ... d=tw-share


NYT: Mueller Questioned Jeff Sessions For Hours Last Week
By Nicole Lafond | January 23, 2018 9:59 am

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a news conference at the Department of Justice December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions called the question-and-answer session with reporters to highlight his department's fight to reduce violent crime.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America
Special Counsel Robert Mueller questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions for several hours last week, making Sessions the first known member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet to be interviewed in Mueller’s Russia probe, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed the interview took place in response to the Times’ questions about the probe. Sessions’s attorney Chuck Cooper attended the interview with him, according to the Times.

In March, Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and that’s also looking at whether Trump or his campaign officials colluded with the foreign power to win the election. Former FBI Director Mueller was then appointed to take over the probe.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ ... by-mueller



Who Else Was Handling Russian Money in 2016?

The interference went well beyond the president*'s campaign.

BY CHARLES P. PIERCE
JAN 18, 2018

Life is full of wonderful surprises, like this little goodie bag from the McClatchy folks.

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy. FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.
It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.
So, here’s the horse, but the barn is waaaaayyyyy over there. Still, this is a fascinating development.

Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference. McClatchy reported a year ago that a multi-agency U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s intervention, begun even before the start of the 2016 general election campaign, initially included a focus on whether the Kremlin secretly helped fund efforts to boost Trump, but little has been said about that possibility in recent months. The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned. However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.
It is a savory irony that Wayne LaPierre, the savior of all that is clean and good in America, may be tied into the Volga Bagmen. But it’s coming time to wonder how much Russian money was sloshing around the entire Republican Party in 2016, and around the conservative infrastructure generally.

We already know the winning presidential campaign was redolent of herring and vodka. There also is more than a little evidence that various Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats were generous to Republican campaigns in general. Now, it seems, the various interest groups and issue organizations may have had their hands out, too. The only thing that stops a bagman with a bag is a good guy with a bag.


Congressman: Story of Link Between Kremlin And NRA Could ‘Get Bigger’

“Follow the money,” Rep. Ted Lieu said of the National Rifle Association’s pro-Trump efforts.

Last Thursday, investigative reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy DC Bureau reported what could be another bombshell in the Russia probe: that the FBI is investigating whether a Kremlin-linked banker illegally channeled funds to the National Rifle Association to aid Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

On Friday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, told me on SiriusXM Progress that the word on Capitol Hill is that the story of a Russia-NRA-Trump link is going to grow.

“FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA,” Stone and Gordon reported being told by two sources familiar with the matter.

More: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/te ... mg00000004


Torshin was all up in Wisconsin
Image

NRA Gives $3.6 Million to Walker, Legislators

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
NRA Gives $3.6 Million to Walker, Legislators
Just one Democrat benefits from gun lobby’s generous donations.
By Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Oct 5th, 2017 11:10 am

..... In Wisconsin, the National Rifle Association (NRA) spent about $3.6 million between January 2008 and June 2017 on outside electioneering activities and direct contributions to GOP Gov. Scott Walker, 52 legislators, and a legislative campaign committee.

Most of the spending, about $3.5 million, was by the NRA on outside electioneering to help Walker win his 2010 general, 2012 recall and 2014 reelection bids. Walker also received $22,500 in direct campaign contributions from pro-gun interests – the most of any legislative or statewide candidate – between January 2008 and June 2017.
In addition to Walker, current legislators received about $92,400 (see table below) in outside electioneering support and direct campaign contributions from the NRA’s political action committees and corporation, between January 2008 and June 2017. All but $500 went to support GOP legislators.

During much of the same time, Walker and GOP legislators, who took control of state government in January 2011, have approved numerous pro-gun bills led by state’s concealed carry law.

More recently, last month, a state Senate committee recommended passage of a proposal, Senate Bill 169, which would allow adults to carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin without a permit. ................


seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:01 pm wrote:
seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:47 pm wrote:
The Professor At The Center Of The Russia-Trump Probe Boasted To His Girlfriend In Ukraine That He Was Friends With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

A Ukrainian woman named Anna says Joseph Mifsud asked her to marry him in a restaurant overlooking the Kremlin. Later, he allegedly told a Trump campaign aide that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. She hasn’t heard from him since that news broke in October.

Alberto NardelliFebruary 27, 2018, at 11:11 a.m.
Joseph Mifsud
Provided to BuzzFeed News / Laura Gallant
Amid the opportunists, weirdos, trolls, and pawns who make up the cast of the Russian plot to interfere in American politics, Joseph Mifsud stands out.

The Maltese professor, who allegedly delivered word of Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails to Donald Trump's campaign, is an authentically mysterious figure, his true role and ties to Russian intelligence unclear.

And while others like former Trump campaign aides George Papadopoulos and Carter Page — and their friends and girlfriends — told their stories, Mifsud went to ground. His biography disappeared from one university where he taught and he quit his job at another university. His email and cell phones went dead. And politicians, colleagues, and journalists can't find him.

Neither can Anna, his 31-year-old Ukrainian fiancé, who says he is the father of her newborn child. And her story, snatched from the pages of a John le Carré novel, offers a glimpse at the human collateral damage of an intelligence operation in which the mysterious Mifsud was allegedly a central figure.

Anna, whom BuzzFeed News has agreed to identify only by her first name because she doesn’t want the attention, says she was seven months pregnant and engaged to Mifsud when he became the focus of world media attention as the professor who told Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton.

Shortly thereafter, he dropped from sight. He also cut off all contact with Anna, including phone calls and WhatsApp messages. That silence has held, even six weeks after the daughter Anna says he fathered was born.

“He never helped me,” she said. “Only talk and promises.”

BuzzFeed News first contacted Anna in October. She refused to talk then, saying her relationship with Mifsud was private. According to WhatsApp messages she later shared, she told the professor about BuzzFeed News’ attempt to speak to her — and in his very last WhatsApp message to Anna, Mifsud asked her not to talk to journalists.
Image

Provided to BuzzFeed News
Now, however, feeling deceived, she’s changed her mind. The result is new information about Mifsud’s activities, including his claim of having dined with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.

“He said, ‘I have dinner with Lavrov tonight. Lavrov is my friend. Lavrov this, Lavrov that,’” Anna said. “He even show me picture with Lavrov.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In a series of WhatsApp messages sent in May 2017, Mifsud also told Anna he was in Saudi Arabia at the same time as President Donald Trump’s visit, and in Sicily, Italy, for the G7 Summit.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Mifsud did not respond to repeated requests for comment, which BuzzFeed News made to multiple phone numbers and email accounts, as well as via WhatsApp and Signal. Several of his family members, colleagues, and Facebook friends also did not return requests for comment. Mifsud acknowledged in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published last November that he met former Trump campaign aide Papadopoulos “three or four times,” and facilitated connections between "official and unofficial sources," but denied any wrongdoing.

In addition to meeting Anna in Kiev, BuzzFeed News spoke to her multiple times in the past month over Facebook messenger, via WhatsApp, on the telephone, and in a video call.

She provided access to her entire WhatsApp history with Mifsud. She also shared dozens of photos of the couple together, including in Ukraine and Russia. BuzzFeed News has seen many photos of the baby and of Anna during different stages of her pregnancy and at the clinic where she gave birth. Anna also said that she wants to do a DNA test to prove that Mifsud is the father of the baby.

Parts of the conversation with Anna in the Ukrainian capital were in her fractured English, and others took place through an interpreter. Some quotes have been edited for clarity.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Anna told BuzzFeed News that she first met Mifsud about four years ago at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

He approached her while she was taking a selfie and, using English, offered to take her picture. They spoke for a bit, and he invited her to dinner, she said.

The two met again in Moscow a few months later — and “then he came to Ukraine,” Anna said, “to celebrate my niece’s birthday.”

Over the next three years, Mifsud visited Ukraine about 10 times, Anna said. “He came to celebrate a New Year, birthdays, my sister’s baby. He knew all my family. Something we celebrate, he would come. We had a good relationship,” she said.

In late October 2015, Mifsud proposed to her. Anna says they were at a restaurant overlooking the Kremlin in Moscow celebrating Anna’s sister’s birthday. The Maltese academic asked Anna to marry him at the restaurant, and gave her a ring.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
“We had a plan to live in Rome. We spoke about this, but only speak,” Anna, who works in marketing, said. “He tell me, I want a baby with you, I want a family with you.”

When the couple split up for a few months in 2016, Mifsud sent her an email asking her to return the ring and handbags, one of which was a Chanel handbag that Mifsud had bought for her during a visit to Rome in spring 2015. In the Italian capital, they stayed in a hotel where “people came to see him all the time,” Anna said.
Image

Provided to BuzzFeed News
According to Anna’s WhatsApp messages, he often shared news of his activities, sending Anna links to his interviews and photos from events he was speaking at, and telling her about his work as a professor at the now-closed London Academy of Diplomacy.

But he also had a secretive side. According to Anna, he asked her to delete photos from Facebook where she could be seen drinking, after she uploaded one holding a cocktail. “He said, ‘because I am important man.’” He also demanded she unfriend anyone she hadn’t met in person.

Over the course of what Anna describes as an on-and-off relationship spanning three years, the couple saw each other in Rome, Moscow, and Kiev. But unlike in Rome and Moscow, where Mifsud frequently received visitors, Mifsud didn’t use his trips to Ukraine to network. “He didn’t meet people in Kiev. ‘Russia-Ukraine relationship not good, and I do a lot of work in Moscow,’” Anna recalled Mifsud saying.

Anna said she and Mifsud last met in person in Kiev in early April 2017. He told her then that he had recently been questioned by the FBI in the US, she said.

“He told me he was in his hotel room when he was called downstairs by reception. It was the FBI. He said they wanted to talk about connections he set up between people in Britain and Russia.”

“He said his phone was probably being checked,” Anna added.

In mid-May, about a month after Mifsud left Kiev, Anna found out she was pregnant. And six weeks ago she gave birth to a baby girl.

After finding out that she was pregnant, according to WhatsApp messages seen by BuzzFeed News, Mifsud repeatedly told Anna he really wanted to see her and promised to visit her soon, but he never did, often making excuses or citing health reasons.

“For 7 months, 'I come, I come,'” Anna said. “He never helped me. Only talk and promises.”

Mifsud at first expressed “shock” at the news of Anna’s pregnancy. He asked if she slept with anyone during a recent work trip she’d made to Denmark and Norway, and whether she wanted to keep the baby.

But in later messages, he put his initial reaction down to being surprised and told Anna that he was “super excited” and that the “child will have great parents.”

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
In messages sent in late September, Mifsud wrote, “You will be the most beautiful mummy … I cannot stop thinking of you.” In another message, he wrote, “I am so proud of youuuuu I think we need to get a nanny to help you.”

But there were also signs that Mifsud was not as enthusiastic as he portrayed himself, and the tone of their messages changed in the final months of her pregnancy. The professor stopped answering the phone and would reply only to Anna’s WhatsApp messages, saying he was ill with heart problems or in the hospital, but promising to fly to her as soon as he was given the green light.

In one message, Anna accused Mifsud of backtracking on a promise to help her. He replied by saying he couldn’t recall any promises, and that he continued to be ill. And, apparently casting doubt on the child’s paternity, he wrote that once he was well again, they would do the DNA test that Anna had been asking for.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
In late October, he told her in a message that he was “fighting to live.”

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Just days later, on Nov. 1, one day after Papadopoulos’s guilty plea was unsealed in Washington, La Repubblica published an interview with him at the Rome university where he was working, in which he acknowledged being the unnamed professor referenced in the court documents in which investigators allege that Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. The journalist who did the interview said in an email that it had taken place the previous day.

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
When Mifsud’s name was thrust upon the world stage, the WhatsApp messages stopped.

Anna says that she was surprised by the news of the allegations. “I really believed he was sick,” she said.

“I am angry with myself. I did not see what he really is!” Anna wrote in a Facebook message last month. “Joseph only promised me...many promises.”

In what was one of Mifsud’s last messages to her, the 57-year-old professor wrote — after she reminded him that the baby was due soon and that they hadn’t seen one another in months — that either she give him time to recover or their paths would go different ways.

“We still need to speak face to face,” he said, apparently referencing the baby. “We never did.”

Image
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Mifsud remains one of the mysteries in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible Trump campaign collusion. According to court documents, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russians had thousands of emails from Democrats in April 2016, two months before the Democrats themselves were aware that their computer system had been hacked. Mifsud told Papadopoulos he’d learned of the emails during a trip to Russia, but who told him is unknown.

Papadopoulos is reported to have later shared the information with the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, whose government passed the information to US authorities after WikiLeaks began publishing the emails in July 2016. That information sparked the FBI to launch the investigation that Mueller now leads.

Exactly how Mifsud and Papadopoulos met also is not publicly known, though Papadopoulos is cooperating with the Mueller probe. Mifsud allegedly showed little interest in Papadopoulos until he learned that Papadopoulos had been named to Trump’s campaign.

Mifsud’s professional ventures before the Papadopoulos guilty plea are also in dispute. Papadopoulos’s fiancé, Simona Mangiante, whom Mifsud hired in 2016 to work at the grand-sounding London Centre of International Law Practice, another UK-based organization where the Maltese academic held a senior position, told BuzzFeed News that she never understood what the organization did.

“I never understood if it was a facade for something else,” she said when reached by phone in January. “It wasn’t a serious thing. For starters, I never understood what I was doing there, and they never paid me for three months, so I just said ‘OK, enough.’”

The center did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked for her thoughts on Mifsud, Mangiante said, “My impression [is that] he was not a transparent person and I never understood what he was really doing.”
https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardell ... fwrWxkM41G



Image

New Mueller bombshell hints that Rick Gates may have delivered the goods in Trump-Russia probe

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller has now proposed dropping charges against former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, in what might be the strongest sign yet that Gates has given the investigation significant information related to its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As reported by Politico’s Kyle Cheney, the special counsel’s office has officially proposed dropping 17 separate charges against Gates from a superseding indictment that it issued last week.


Gates, who served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman during the 2016 presidential election, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy against the United States and lying to federal investigators last week. Gates’ guilty plea came shortly after the special counsel’s office issued a new 32-count indictment against Gates and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager who faces charges related to money laundering and tax fraud.https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/new-mu ... sia-probe/



Mueller just made a move indicating Rick Gates has something of significant value to offer him
Sonam Sheth
3h 31,727

A federal court in Virginia granted the special counsel Robert Mueller's request to dismiss more than 20 charges brought against Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Gates pleaded guilty last week to two counts and is cooperating with the special counsel's office.
Mueller's decision to drop the charges indicates Gates most likely has something of significant value to offer him.
A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday granted a motion by the special counsel Robert Mueller's office to dismiss several charges brought against Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

The charges were brought on Thursday in a 32-count superseding indictment that accused Gates and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, of financial crimes related to tax and bank fraud. Gates was charged with 24 counts related to tax fraud, bank fraud, bank-fraud conspiracy, and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Gates pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of making a false statement to federal investigators.

He and Manafort had also been charged in October with 12 counts including conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, making false and misleading statements, and failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Manafort has since maintained his innocence.

Gates was a key player during critical moments surrounding the 2016 US election, and the motion to dismiss the charges against him is most likely a sign he has something of value to offer Mueller, who's investigating Russia's interference in the election.

Gates joined the Trump campaign in early 2016 and worked as a deputy under Manafort, then the campaign chairman. Manafort stepped down that August after news reports surfaced about his murky ties to Ukraine's pro-Russia Party of Regions — and as Trump slumped in polls.

But even after Manafort's departure, Gates maintained a significant role in the campaign's operations, reportedly at the request of Steve Bannon, who became the head of the campaign.

In addition to working as an intermediary between the campaign and the Republican National Committee in 2016, Gates frequently traveled with Trump and later served as an adviser on the inaugural committee after Trump's election in November.

Gates was eventually ousted from a pro-Trump lobbying group in April amid questions about Russia's interference in the election, but he continued to visit the White House as late as June, according to The Daily Beast.

Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor, said in an email Tuesday that last week's 32-count indictment, which was filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, could be described as a "rocket docket."

"Their cases move as or more quickly than cases anywhere else in the country," Sandick said. "Gates would need to plead guilty to these counts in the next couple of months and then be sentenced promptly — in three or four months."

He added that Mueller would most likely need more time than that to "harvest Gates' cooperation."

"Once the cooperating defendant is sentenced, the prosecutor has much less leverage to encourage cooperation," Sandick said.

But because judges in the district typically do not adjourn sentencing, Mueller opted to dismiss the charges "without prejudice," Sandick said, which ensures they could be reinstated in the future if needed.
http://www.businessinsider.com/mueller- ... sed-2018-2


A self-described sex expert says she will spill information on Trump and Russia to get out of a Thai jail

Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, on whose yacht Nastya Rybka said she shot some compromising video. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
MOSCOW — A self-described sex expert whose videos highlighted the ties between one of Russia’s richest men and the Kremlin has been jailed in Thailand and is calling for U.S. help, claiming she has information about links between Russia and President Trump.

Anastasia Vashukevich, an escort-service worker from Belarus who catapulted to a certain measure of fame after filming a yacht trip with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, was detained in Thailand over the weekend in a police raid on her “sex training” seminar. While still in custody on Tuesday, she published Instagram videos asking U.S. journalists and intelligence agencies to help her.

Deripaska, with whom Vashukevich said she had an affair, used to employ former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. But Vashukevich, better known by the alias Nastya Rybka, provided no evidence on Tuesday to back up the claim that she had new information to offer related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A post to her Instagram account showed her sitting on the floor of what was described as a Thai jail cell and said she was sick.

“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump,” Vashukevich said in a live Instagram video Tuesday, apparently shot as she was driven in an open-air police van through the Thai resort city of Pattaya. “In exchange for help from U.S. intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison.”

Vashukevich said in her video that she had already given an interview to U.S. broadcaster NBC. Representatives for Vashukevich and Deripaska did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny made Vashukevich famous last month after he broadcast old footage from her Instagram account showing an August 2016 yacht trip with Deripaska and Prikhodko. Navalny used the footage to allege that Deripaska, a metals magnate, had bribed Prikhodko, one of Russia’s most influential government officials, with the luxury getaway accompanied by women from an escort service.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends an opposition march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow on Feb. 25. / AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images
Navalny also speculated that Deripaska and Prikhodko may have served as a link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in 2016, though Vashukevich’s videos offered no proof. According to emails described to The Washington Post last year, Manafort — who once worked for Deripaska — directed an associate to offer Deripaska “private briefings” about Trump’s presidential campaign. A Deripaska spokeswoman said he was never offered such briefings.

Prikhodko called Navalny a “political loser” whose investigation combined “the possible and the impossible.” Deripaska said Navalny’s “allegations have nothing to do with reality” and sued Vashukevich for violating his privacy. A court ordered Instagram to remove some of Vashukevich’s posts.

According to her Instagram account, Vashukevich was in Dubai when Navalny’s video came out and then traveled to the Thai beach resort of Pattaya. On Sunday, according to Russian news reports, Thai police raided a sex seminar for Russian tourists in which Vashukevich was participating. Attendees paid more than $600 each for a five-day course, Russian media said.

A video from a Thai morning news broadcast showed the police operation. Some of those detained were working without a permit, one of the TV hosts said. “Why do they have to use Thailand to teach this course?” he added.


Russian Embassy consul Vladimir Sosnov told the RIA Novosti Russian state news agency that Vashukevich and several others were detained for being part of an “illegal training session” and that she and her companions would be put on trial and deported. But Vashukevich claimed on Tuesday that she was arrested on orders of Russian officials as payback for her video of Deripaska and Prikhodko and that she expected to be sent to Russia, where she would be jailed again.

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“Please USA save us from Russia!” said a post in English on her Instagram account. “All this cases are political repressions!”

Coincidentally or not, one of Russia’s most important security and intelligence officials was also in Thailand on Tuesday. Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, former head of the Federal Security Service, held talks Tuesday in Bangkok on the security of Russian tourists, RIA Novosti reported.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wor ... e50075a03f


seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:08 pm wrote:
seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:08 pm wrote:Comey was interviewed by Special Council by last year :)

shared memos

Comey and Sessions Are Questioned for Hours in Russia Inquiry

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDTJAN. 23, 2018


Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed in the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling and whether President Trump obstructed justice. Tom Brenner/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week as part of the special counsel investigation, a Justice Department spokeswoman said on Tuesday, and the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, was interviewed by the office last year, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The meeting with Mr. Sessions marked the first time that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are known to have interviewed a member of President Trump’s cabinet.

The interview with Mr. Comey focused on a series of memos he wrote about his interactions with Mr. Trump that unnerved Mr. Comey. In one memo, Mr. Comey said that Mr. Trump had asked him to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

After the president’s request was disclosed, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed Mr. Mueller as the special counsel to lead the Russia investigation and examine whether the president obstructed justice.

The disclosure about Mr. Comey’s interview came hours after the Justice Department spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, confirmed that the interview with Mr. Sessions occurred. Mr. Sessions was accompanied by the longtime Washington lawyer Chuck Cooper to the interview.

The attorney general announced in March that he had recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 election, including the Russia inquiry. The disclosure came after it was revealed that Mr. Sessions had not told Congress that he met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, during the campaign.

Mr. Sessions, an early supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidential run, had been among a small group of senior campaign and administration officials whom Mr. Mueller had been expected to interview.

Mr. Mueller’s interest in Mr. Sessions shows how the president’s own actions helped prompt a broader inquiry. What began as a Justice Department counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s election interference is now also an examination of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry, and the nation’s top law enforcement officer is a witness in the case.

For Mr. Mueller, Mr. Sessions is a key witness to two of the major issues he is investigating: the campaign’s possible ties to the Russians and whether the president tried to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Mr. Mueller can question Mr. Sessions about his role as the head of the campaign’s foreign policy team. Mr. Sessions was involved in developing Mr. Trump’s position toward Russia and met with Russian officials, including the ambassador.

Along with Mr. Trump, Mr. Sessions led a March 2016 meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where one of the campaign’s foreign policy advisers, George Papadopoulos, pitched the idea of a personal meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Papadopoulos plead guilty in October to lying to federal authorities about the nature of his contacts with the Russians and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office.

As attorney general, Mr. Sessions was deeply involved in the firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the president has repeatedly criticized Mr. Sessions publicly and privately for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

When Mr. Trump learned in March that Mr. Sessions was considering whether to recuse himself, the president had the White House’s top lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, lobby Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the Russia investigation.

Mr. Sessions instead followed the guidance of career prosecutors at the Justice Department, who advised him that he should not be involved with the investigation. When Mr. Trump was told of this, the president erupted in anger, saying he needed an attorney general to protect him.

After Mr. Mueller was appointed in May, Mr. Trump again erupted at Mr. Sessions and Mr. Sessions offered to resign. Several days later, Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Sessions’s offer.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Mueller subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, to testify before a grand jury. Mr. Mueller is expected to forgo the grand jury appearance for now and will have his investigators interview Mr. Bannon in the coming weeks.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/p ... ussia.html


seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:24 pm wrote:
emptywheel

Since Nunberg's on the record saying Trump knew abt the June 9 meeting, here's my post showing that it's likely there's a second, still unexplained half to the meeting.



The June 9 Trump Tower Limited Hangout

emptywheelJanuary 17, 2018

I did two podcasts this week where I elaborated on my theory that the current story we have about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting is just a limited hangout, a partial story that I suspect serves to hide a later, more damning part of the meeting:

Intercepted, with Jeremy Scahill and John Sipher (starting just before 50 minutes)
Bloggingheads, with Robert Wright
I first started suspecting that the current story — that Natalia Veselnitskaya pitched a request for Magnitsky sanctions relief in exchange for … almost no dirt on Hillary — was a limited hangout as I tracked Scott Balber’s repeated heavy-handed attempts to craft a story that could explain the known emails and documents.

I want to lay out my evolving, more developed theory here.

For weeks, Russians had been offering emails in exchange for meetings

The Trump campaign first learned about “dirt” on Hillary in the form of thousands of emails on April 26. The day after learning of those emails, George Papadopoulos sent two emails to Trump campaign staffers, that may have reflected a discussion of an early quid pro quo: some meetings — meant to lead to one between Trump and Putin — in exchange for emails.

To Stephen Miller, Papadopoulos wrote, “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.” To Corey Lewandowski, it appears he asked for a phone call “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right.”

That same day, he sent his Russian handler, Ivan Timofeev, an email saying that the first major Trump foreign policy speech he helped author was a “signal to meet.” The speech spoke, in part, about making a great deal with Russia.

I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible. Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries.

Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out. If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to find out.


Over the course of the next month, Papadopoulos sent a Timofeev invitation for a meeting to move towards setting up a Putin-Trump meeting via email to Lewandowski (on May 4), to Sam Clovis (on May 5, after which they spoke by phone), and to Paul Manafort (on May 21), with additional back and forth in between.

Who is the Crown Prosecutor?

Around that time in late May, Natalia Veselnitskaya met with long-time Trump associate Aras Agalarov and mentioned her efforts to help Denis Katsyv in his legal fight with Bill Browder (note, elsewhere Veselnitskaya claimed she normally keeps her clients’ business compartmented, but claims not to have done so in this case) and to lobby against the Magnitsky sanctions. That’s where, according to Veselnitskaya, the idea of connecting her with Don Jr first came about, though she doesn’t remember who came up with the idea.

Around the end of May 2016, during a conversation with a good acquaintance of mine, being my client, Aras Agalarov on a topic that was not related to the United States, I shared the story faced when defending another client, Denis Katsyv, about how terribly misled the US Congress had been by the tax defrauder William Browder, convicted in Russia, who, through his lobbyists and his close-minded rank-and-file Congress staffers, succeeded in adopting the Act in the name of a person whom Browder practically hardly ever knew.

I considered it my duty to inform the Congress people about it and asked Mr. Agalarov if there was any possibility of helping me or my colleagues to do this. I do not remember who of us was struck by the idea that maybe his son could talk about this with Donald Trump, Jr., who, although a businessman, was sure to have some acquaintances among Congress people. After my conversation with Mr. Agalarov, I prepared a reference in case it would be necessary to hand over the request – to support the hearings in the Subcommittee in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs as to the Magnitsky’s and Browder’s story, scheduled for mid-June.


The timing of this meeting is important. We know that the date on the document alleged to be the “dirt” handed to Don Jr — one that she claims she prepared “in case it would be necessary to hand over” is May 31. Either this meeting happened before May 31 (which is when Veselnitskaya described it to have taken place), or the document was instead drawn up exclusively for lobbying purposes (which would be unsurprising, but would be inconsistent with the testimony that uses the talking points to prove the meeting was only about Magnitsky sanctions). Elsewhere she gets sketchy about the date of the document, and produced as it was by Agalarov lawyer Scott Balber, we can’t be sure about the forensics of the document.

The reason the date is important, however, is that, in pitching the Trump Tower meeting on June 3, Rob Goldstone told Don Jr that Emin Agalarov’s father met with “the Crown Prosecutor” that morning.

Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.

The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin. [my emphasis]


Admittedly, any discrepancy on dates might be due to the game of telephone going on — Aras to Emin to Goldstone. But if the meeting in question really did happen on June 3, then it significantly increases the likelihood that “Crown Prosecutor” is not at all a reference to Veselnitskaya (who claims to have met with Agalarov earlier), as has been claimed, but is to someone else, dealing a different kind of dirt.

Spoiler alert: I suspect it is not a reference to her.

In his version of this story, Goldstone says he only played this broker role reluctantly.

“I remember specifically saying to Emin, you know, we probably shouldn’t get involved in this. It’s politics, it’s Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Neither of us have any experience in this world. It’s not our forte. I deal with music. You’re a singer and a businessman.”


Don Jr seems to have shown no such reluctance. He emailed back 17 minutes later saying, “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” He says that, in spite of the claim he made in his testimony that, “I had no additional information to validate what Rob was saying, I did not quite know what to make of his email.” Whatever Don Jr expected it to include on June 3, he may have gotten a clearer sense of what it was on June 6, when he spoke to Emin in a phone call set up in about an hour’s time, just as Emin got off the stage.

In fact, Don Jr had three “very short” phone calls in this period, but he’s getting forgetful in his old age and so doesn’t remember what transpired on them.

My phone records show three very short phone calls between Emin and me between June 6th and 7th. I do not recall speaking to Emin. It is possible that we left each other voice mail messages. I simply do not remember.


Veselnitskaya did not get her visa to come to the US until June 6. That’s the day when Goldstone, referencing Don Jr’s earlier instructions on timing, followed-up about a meeting.

Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info.

Ike Kaveladze’s still unexplained late inclusion in the meeting

Goldstone was still finalizing the meeting time on June 8 at 10:34 AM. But sometime, presumably after the time on June 7 at 6:14PM, when Don Jr told Goldstone that Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner would also attend, fellow Agalarov employee Ike Kaveladze got invited, though without Veselnitskaya ever learning why. At some unidentified time, Kaveladze called an associate of Goldstone’s and learned that the meeting would be about discussing “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — the same word Papadopoulos’ handlers had used.

Scott Balber, Kaveladze’s attorney, told The Daily Beast that before Kaveladze headed from Los Angeles to New York for the meeting, he saw an email noting that Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. would all be involved. He thought it would be odd for them to attend the meeting, so he called Beniaminov before heading to New York. Both Beniaminov and Kaveladze have worked with the Agalarov’s real estate development company, the Crocus Group.

Balber said that Beniaminov told Kaveladze that he heard Rob Goldstone— Emin Agalarov’s music manager—discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It’s never become completely clear what kind of “dirt” the Russians were talking about.


Having learned of a meeting dealing dirt that included Don Jr, Kushner, and Manafort, Kaveladze got on a plane and flew to NYC.

According to Veselnitskaya’s very sketchy account, she got an email finalizing the meeting when she arrived in NYC on June 8 — an email that was also CC’ed to Kaveladze. She and Kaveladze spoke by phone sometime that day, and met sometime before the meeting.

With those present at the meeting, Samochernov, Kaveladze, and Akhmetshin, I spoke about the meeting on the day it was to be held, possibly, I mentioned it the day I arrived in New York when speaking with Kaveladze by phone, but I do not have exact information about it.

[snip]

We got acquainted first by phone when I was in Moscow. I met him personally first on June 9 shortly before the meeting.

[snip]

We had a phone call and met at a café, I do not remember where and at what café. I told him briefly what I knew about the Browder case, about the Ziffs and their possible support when lobbying his interests in the United States.

Like Don Jr’s memory of his phone calls with Emin, Veselnitskaya claims to have forgotten what got said in that phone call with Kaveladze.

Competing versions of the meeting

Which brings us to June 9.

We don’t know what Kaveladze’s schedule was. We do know that on the morning of June 9 — before lunch, which is when Veselnitskaya said Akhmetshin first got involved — Veselnitskaya asked Goldstone if she could bring Akhmetshin, whom she claimed had just “arrived that day in New York for an evening performance of Russian theatre stars.” Goldstone responded a half hour later, “Please bring them with you and meet Ike for your meeting at 4PM today.” (The copy of the email publicly released does not include the CC to Kaveladze that Veselnitskaya said was included.)

As I laid out in this post, Veselnitskaya says she arrived at the meeting with her translator, Kaveladze, and Akhmetshin, was met by Goldstone there, and brought to a board room where Don Jr and Manafort were already present.

I came to the meeting with Anatoly Samochornov, a translator, Irakly Kaveladze, a lawyer of my client who helped to arrange for the meeting, Rinat Akhmetshin, my colleague who was working with me on the Prevezon case. We were met by a big, stout man who introduced himself as Rob and escorted us on the elevator to the boardroom. I saw two men in the boardroom – one of them introduced himself as Donald Trump Jr., while the other did not introduce himself. Another young man entered the boardroom a little later and left it shortly afterwards. I found out much later that the two unidentified gentlemen were P. Manafort and J. Kushner.

According to Veselnitskaya, Kaveladze was introduced — to the extent he was — as “Ike.” Remember that he attended the 2013 dinner celebrating the Agalarov-brokered deal to bring Miss Universe to Moscow, meaning at least some in the Trump camp should know him.

Veselnitskaya’s account seems to line up with Jared Kushner’s, which basically has him arriving late, staying for about 10 minutes of Veselnitskaya’s discussion of adoptions (though he seems to be claiming not to be present for any discussion of Magnitsky sanctions), then asked his assistant to give him an excuse to leave.

I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting. Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently. I did not read or recall this email exchange before it was shown to me by my lawyers when reviewing documents for submission to the committees. No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted.


Jared claims not to know who was at the meeting, which is somewhat credible given that he arrived after introductions.

For some reason, Goldstone holds out the claim this meeting started by talking about Democratic campaign donations then moved to sanctions.

Goldstone tells me that he only half-listened to the presentation from Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer, as he checked emails on his phone. But he insists, as Trump Jr has done, that the meeting ended awkwardly after she switched tack from discussing Democratic funding to US sanctions legislation and Moscow’s retaliatory policy that restricts Americans from adopting Russian children. “It was vague, generic nonsense,” Goldstone says.

[snip]

“Within minutes of starting, Jared said to her, ‘Could you just get to the point? I’m not sure I’m following what you’re saying,’ ” Goldstone says.

It was then that she started talking in detail about the provisions of the Magnitsky legislation and adoptions, he says. “I believe that she practised a classic bait-and-switch. She got in there on one pretext and really wanted to discuss something else.”


Don Jr’s memory of the meeting is somewhat different. Not only doesn’t he remember Akhmetshin’s presence at all, but he remembers Manafort arriving after the visitors were already in the conference room (mind you, I don’t consider this a significant discrepancy). And he definitely remembers adoptions being discussed at the same time as the sanctions.

As I recall, at or around 4 pm, Rob Goldstone came up to our offices and entered our conference room with a lawyer who I now know to be Natalia Veselnitskaya. Joining them was a translator and a man who was introduced to me as Irakli Kaveladze. After a few minutes, Jared and Paul joined. While numerous press outlets have reported that there were a total of eight people present at the meeting, I only recall seven. Because Rob was able to bring the entire group up by only giving his name to the security guard in the lobby, I had no advance warning regarding who or how many people would be attending. There is no attendance log to refer back to and I did not take notes.

After perfunctory greetings, the lawyer began telling the group very generally something about individuals connected to Russia supporting or funding Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee. It was quite difficult for me to understand what she was saying or why. Given our busy schedules, we politely asked if she could be more specific and provide more clarity about her objective for the meeting. At that point, Ms. Veselnitskaya pivoted and began talking about the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens and something called the Magnitsky Act.

Until that day, I had never heard of the Magnitsky Act and had no familiarity with this issue. It was clear to me that her real purpose in asking for the meeting all along was to discuss Russian adoptions and the Magnitsky Act. At this point, Jared excused himself from the meeting to take a phone call.


Despite some minor differences in choreography, thus far the differences in the stories are not that substantial.

That changes, though, in the descriptions of how the meeting ended.

Don Jr claims he said that Trump was a private citizen so could do nothing to help.

I proceeded to quickly and politely end the meeting by telling Ms. Veselnitskaya that because my father was a private citizen there did not seem to be any point to having this discussion.


Goldstone claims something similar — that Don Jr told Veselnitskaya she should talk to Obama’s Administration, not the future Trump one.

“Don Jr ended it by telling her that she should be addressing her concerns to the Obama administration, because they were the ones in power.”

But in an an interview with Bloomberg that Veselnitskaya disavowed in her statement to SJC, she said that Don Jr suggested he would reconsider the sanctions “if we came to power.


“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,’’ Trump Jr. said of the 2012 law, she recalled. “I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it,” he added, according to her.


The extra details in the contemporaneous record as interpreted by Glenn Simpson

As far as we know, there’s only one contemporaneous record of this meeting: the notes that Manafort — whom Veselnitskaya claimed “closed his eyes and fell asleep” during the 20 minute meeting — took on his phone. Glenn Simpson was asked to comment on Manafort’s notes in his Senate testimony. Some of what he describes confirms these public accounts: the early reference to Browder, the other reference to Juliana Glover, the reference to adoptions.

MR. DAVIS: These are the meeting notes from 3 the June 9th meeting at Trump Tower. These are Mr. Manafort’s notes or they’re contemporaneous.

BY THE WITNESS:

A. I could tell — obviously you know who Bill Browder is. Cyprus Offshore, Bill Browder’s structure, you know, investment — Hermitage Capital, his hedge fund, set up numerous companies in Cyprus to engage in inward investment into Russia, which is a common structure, both partially for tax reasons but also to have entities outside of Russia, you know, managing specific investments. I can only tell you I assume that’s what that references. I don’t know what the 133 million —

[snip]

A. I can skip down a couple. So “Value in Cyprus as inter,” I don’t know what that means. “Illici,” I don’t know what that means. “Active sponsors of RNC,” I don’t know what that means. “Browder hired Joanna Glover” is a mistaken reference to Juliana Glover, who was Dick Cheney’s press secretary during the Iraq war and associated with another foreign policy controversy. “Russian adoptions by American families” I assume is a reference to the adoption issue.


While Simpson doesn’t recognize the reference, in addition to the passing reference to Cyprus shell companies, the notes allegedly used for the meeting explain the 133 million reference.

In the period of late 1999 to 2004, two companies – Speedwagon Investments 1 and 2, registered in New York, and owned by the said U.S. investors, acting through three Cypriot companies, Giggs Enterprises Limited, Zhoda Limited, Peninsular Heights Limited illegally acquired more than 133 million Gazprom shares in the amount exceeding $80 million in the name of the Russian companies Kameya, Lor, Excalibur, Sterling Investments.


But there seems to be more extensive reference to Cyprus (the laundering of money through which, of course, Manafort is himself an expert; it features centrally in his indictment).

And none of the accounts of the meeting seem to explain Manafort’s half-written “illicit,” nor does “Active sponsors of RNC” appear anywhere.

So there appear to be two things in Manafort’s notes that aren’t explained by the several accounts of the meeting: RNC support (elsewhere attributed to the reference to Ziff brothers’ political donations, something which Manafort might independently know) and, most intriguingly, “illicit” (as well, as perhaps, the more central focus on Cyprus than reflected in the talking points).

Who left the conference room when?

This brings me to the question of who left the conference room when.

According to the LAT, Mueller’s team seems newly interested in an exchange between Ivanka, Veselnitskaya, and Akhmetshin, which attests to Ivanka’s awareness — whatever her spouse’s and brother’s ignorance — of Akhmetshin’s presence.

Investigators also are exploring the involvement of the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who did not attend the half-hour sit-down on June 9, 2016, but briefly spoke with two of the participants, a Russian lawyer and a Russian-born Washington lobbyist. Details of the encounter were not previously known.

It occurred at the Trump Tower elevator as the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and the lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, were leaving the building and consisted of pleasantries, a person familiar with the episode said. But Mueller’s investigators want to know every contact the two visitors had with Trump’s family members and inner circle.


But it also may suggest that, after arriving with the two Russians, Ike Kaveladze may have stayed on for a bit afterwards.

Which may be backed by another detail in the various accounts of the meeting. Both Don Jr …

She thanked us for our time and everyone left the conference room. As we walked out, I recall Rob coming over to me to apologize
.

And Goldstone claim that the music promoter apologized for the meeting at the end.

As he emerged from the meeting, Goldstone says that he told Trump Jr he was “deeply embarrassed” that it had been an apparent waste of time.


If Goldstone “apologized” for the meeting, as he and Don Jr claim, it suggests Goldstone, at least, stayed behind long enough to say something that would otherwise be rude to say in front of Veselnitskaya. Don Jr’s claim of an apology might provide convenient excuse.

Perhaps most curious among the first-hand accounts is Goldstone’s claim that he thought the 20-30 minute meeting was “dragging on.”

He had not even planned to attend, but was encouraged to stay by Trump Jr. His biggest concern, he says, was that if the meeting dragged on, he would be caught in the notorious Lincoln Tunnel traffic on his journey home.


But her emails

At 4:40 PM, 40 minutes after the meeting started, Trump tweeted what would become one of the most famous exchanges of the campaign, his retort to Hillary Clinton’s taunt that he should delete his Twitter account with this response,

Image

Did you say “dirt” in the form of Hillary emails?

Six days after that meeting, Guccifer 2.0 released the first of the documents stolen by hacking Democratic targets (though note, none of these are known to have come from the DNC, which is the only hack the WaPo reported on the day before; while some have been traced to Podesta’s emails, the others remain unaccounted for).

While I have argued that the specific content in that dump can be explained, in significant part, as an effort to respond to and rebut the claims CrowdStrike and the Democrats made to the WaPo, some of the documents would be particularly valuable in selling the Trump team on the value of any “dirt” on offer. That includes the oppo research on Trump himself (though that was definitely also a response to the WaPo), but also what purports to be a secret policy document stolen from Hillary’s Secretary of State computer, and a document on Hillary’s election plans. Significantly, all three of these documents were among the ones with the altered metadata, in part bearing the signature of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky.

Image

In short, that first post from Guccifer 2.0 would not only refute the confident claims the Democrats made to the WaPo, but it would provide the Trump camp with a sense of the scope of documents on offer. Within that first week, Guccifer 2.0 would even offer what claimed to be a (heh) “dossier” on Hillary Clinton. (Given my concerns that Russians learned of the Steele dossier and filled it with disinformation, I find it rather interesting that Guccifer 2.0 first advertised this dossier on the same day, June 20, that Steele submitted the first report in his dossier.)

Eerie

If, in fact, there was a second part of this meeting, it seems to be the high level meeting that George Papadopoulos had been working on setting up for weeks, meetings discussed in the context of offering dirt in the form of emails. The Russians laid out a quo — relief of the Magnitsky sanctions — and a week later, provided the first installments of the quid — oppo research from Hillary Clinton.

That would more readily explain why, on June 14, Goldstone would forward this account of the DNC hack to Emin and Ike (but not the other attendees) declaring the DNC hack to be eerie in the wake of what transpired at the meeting.

In one email dated June 14, 2016, Goldstone forwarded a CNN story on Russia’s hacking of DNC emails to his client, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, and Ike Kaveladze, a Russian who attended the meeting along with Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Manafort, describing the news as “eerily weird” given what they had discussed at Trump Tower five days earlier.


And that, I suspect, is the real story that Scott Balber has been working so hard to obscure.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/01/17/t ... d-hangout/




"I think Carter Page colluded with the Russians." - Sam Nunberg
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


-- empty wheel
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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:06 am

seemslikeadream » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:44 am wrote:
Know Your Players (or StormyGraphic)
By Josh Marshall | March 9, 2018 12:06 am
Since the complexity is great I created this infographic to assist you in following the Stormy Daniels story. To see the full size version, either click the headline of this post or the image itself.


Image
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog



emptywheel
Surely you're not suggesting the Trump campaign laundered money through the Trump Org to avoid campaign finance laws?

That would amount to Conspiracy to Defraud the US, wouldn't it?


Simpson
Something I'd love to see a reporter ask Trump Org about:
1) Cohen formed EC LLC on Oct 17 2016
2) The contract provided for EC LLC to pay Stormy $130K by Oct 27 2016
3) Between Oct 17 & Oct 25, the Trump campaign made payments to Trump Org properties that add up to $129,999.72.

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Update: On Oct. 26th – 1 day after the Trump campaign completed a series of disbursements to Trump Org hotels that totaled $130K – the bank emailed Cohen at his http://trumporg.com account to confirm the $130K for Stormy's settlement had been deposited.
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Helluva coincidence.
https://twitter.com/TheViewFromLL2/stat ... 0535653376


Michael Cohen used Trump company email in Stormy Daniels arrangements

by Sarah Fitzpatrick and Tracy ConnorMar 9 2018, 12:10 pm ET
President Donald Trump's personal attorney used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank before he wired $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence.

The lawyer, Michael Cohen, also regularly used the same email account during 2016 negotiations with the actress — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — before she signed a nondisclosure agreement, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

And Clifford's attorney at the time addressed correspondence to Cohen in his capacity at the Trump Organization and as "Special Counsel to Donald J. Trump," the source said.

Cohen has tried to put distance between the president and the payout, which has been the subject of campaign finance complaints.

In a statement last month, Cohen said he used his "personal funds to facilitate a payment" to Clifford, who says she had an intimate relationship with Trump a decade ago.

"Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Cohen said in that statement.

But an email uncovered in the last 24 hours and provided to NBC News by Clifford's current attorney, Michael Avenatti, shows First Republic Bank and Cohen communicated about the money using his Trump company email address, not his personal gmail account.

"I think this document seriously calls into question the prior representation of Mr. Cohen and the White House relating to the source of the monies paid to Ms. Clifford in an effort to silence her," said Avenatti, who is representing Clifford in a lawsuit against Trump.

"We smell smoke."

The email, dated Oct. 26, 2016, was sent to Cohen by an assistant to First Republic Bank senior managing director Gary Farro. The email appears to have been a reply to Cohen; the subject was "RE: First Republic Bank Transfer" and the message confirmed that "the funds have been deposited into your checking account."

The email did not provide any more details about the accounts the money was transferred from or to, and it was not clear whether they were personal accounts or corporate accounts. It also did not specify the amount.

The next day, Cohen wired money from First Republic to the City National Bank account of lawyer Keith Davidson, who was representing Clifford at the time.

"The $130,000 question, however, is from whose account was the money transferred on Oct. 26, 2016." Avenatti said.

He said the email "suggests" it might have been a Trump Organization account since the correspondence was through Cohen's Trump email. He said it was "curious" that after Cohen got the email, he immediately forwarded it to his personal gmail and then used gmail to forward it to Davidson, presumably to show the money was ready to be wired.

"Mr. Cohen should immediately provide the prior emails [between him and the bank] to show exactly where the money came from," Avenatti said.

Cohen and Davidson did not respond to requests for comment from NBC News. First Republic Bank declined to comment.

Avenatti is representing Clifford in the lawsuit she filed this week, which alleged the nondisclosure agreement she signed days before the election is void because Trump never actually signed it.

In court documents, Clifford says she and Trump, who married Melania Trump in 2005, had an "intimate relationship" that lasted from the summer of 2006 "well into the year 2007" — which Trump's representatives have repeatedly denied.

Clifford gave an interview about the rendezvous with Trump to In Touch magazine in 2011 but it wasn't published at the time. Former employees of the magazine have told The Associated Press it was held after Cohen threatened legal action.

Fast forward a decade to 2016, when Trump was a candidate for the White House battling allegations of sexual misconduct. Clifford, according to her lawsuit, began making moves to tell her story to the media.

Negotiations between Cohen and Clifford ensued. With the election looming, Cohen registered a company called Essential Consultants in Delaware that could be used for the payment.

When he wired the $130,000 to Clifford's lawyer, something about the transaction led First Republic to file a suspicious activity report with the Treasury Department, The Wall Street Journal has reported. The timing of the report or the reason for it are not clear.

A year later, City National Bank's interest in the transaction was also piqued. Officials asked Clifford's then-attorney for information about the source of the money, without revealing why they wanted to know, The Washington Post has reported.

In January, news of the payment broke, putting Clifford in the spotlight. Now, Avenatti said, she wants to tell her story.

"She believes it's important that the public learn the truth about what happened," he told NBC's "Today" this week. "I think it's time for her to tell her story and for the public to decide who is telling the truth."

As NBC News first reported, late last month Cohen seized on a clause in the nondisclosure agreement and got a private arbitrator to issue a secret restraining order barring Clifford from publicly releasing "confidential information" about the agreement.

The agreement uses pseudonyms, referring to Clifford as Peggy Peterson and another individual as David Dennison. In one of the documents, the true identity of Dennison is blacked out, but Avenatti told NBC News the individual is Trump.

Clifford signed both the agreement and a side letter agreement using her professional name on Oct. 28, 2016. Cohen signed the document the same day, but blank spaces where "DD" was supposed to sign are empty.

That means the agreement is invalid and Clifford is free to talk, Avenatti contends. Her lawsuit asks a court to affirm their position.

A day after the lawsuit was filed Cohen hit back. His attorney, Lawrence Rosen, fired off an email warning Clifford that she had violated the 2016 agreement and would be subject to penalties and damages if she continued to disclose information about it.

"The designated judge from the arbitration tribunal found that Ms. Clifford had violated the agreement and enjoined her from, among other things, filing this lawsuit," Rosen said in a statement to media outlets.

But Avenatti said that because the 2016 agreement was never signed and never in force, the arbitration clause it contains is also invalid and the gag order is meaningless.

"We do not take kindly to these threats, nor we will be intimidated," he told NBC News.

The suit also says that Trump must know that Cohen is trying to silence Clifford, since rules for the New York bar, of which Cohen is a member, require him to keep his client informed at all times.

"[I]t strains credulity to conclude that Mr. Cohen is acting on his own accord and without the express approval and knowledge of his client Mr. Trump," the suit says.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mi ... ts-n855021


It was a black lacquered box.

New bombshell report just revealed existence of secret Trump-Putin letter
BY GRANT STERN
PUBLISHED ON MARCH 8, 2018


Two top investigative journalists just released a new book that’s ripping the cover off of Donald Trump’s Moscow machinations, and they just revealed a greater mystery related to their relationship and the 2013 Miss Universe.

Yahoo! investigative reporter Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones editor David Corn have combined to write a new book due out next week entitled: Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump and today they released the first of two excerpts.

This is the first extensive mainstream media report about the Trump Tower Moscow project which publicly emerged from the Miss Universe 2013 pageant, and the reporters raise an even greater mystery about the bromance between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Yahoo! reports:



A letter of intent to build the new Trump Tower was signed by the Trump Organization and [Russian-Azeri oligarch Aras] Agalarov’s company. Donald Trump Jr. was placed in charge of the project. Trump was finally on his way in Russia.

And shortly after the Miss Universe event, Agalarov’s daughter showed up at the Miss Universe office in New York City bearing a gift for Trump from Putin.

It was a black lacquered box. Inside was a sealed letter from the Russian autocrat. What the letter said has never been revealed.
Russian Roulette raises a controversial new question about that written communication from Putin to Trump right after the latter inked his first ever real deal to build a Moscow tower after 25 years of trying. Was there a payoff or quid pro quo inside the letter from Putin to Trump?


Trump’s Moscow Tower announced in Russia with an image. Source: mk.ru
As one might reasonably expect, the book’s reporting confirms that in Russia it is necessary to get Putin’s approval in all manner of private business dealings or face oppressive red tape and bureaucracy.

Federal law prohibits American companies from paying bribes, which is why many businesses avoid deals in high corruption and graft environments.



While it’s unknown what was inside that letter, we do know that Putin’s personal approval would be invaluable to a real estate developer like Donald Trump.

In any country, building and zoning fights can stretch on for years, and even the world’s largest companies can be beaten by motivated individuals.

We know that Trump hasn’t been above collecting those approvals with the office of the presidency, such as this deal during the transition period with Argentina.



What we didn’t know, is that Donald Trump was openly planning his run for president even during the Miss Universe Moscow pageant.

Russian Roulette explains that it was one of the reasons Donald Trump didn’t spend an extra night in Moscow to ensure a meeting with Vladimir Putin because there was a bigger fish to fry in North Carolina in pandering to evangelical Republican primary voters:

One reason Trump’s hoped-for meeting with the Russian president never materialized was his attention to another project. Trump was originally scheduled to spend two nights in Moscow — which would have yielded a wider window for a get-together with Putin. But Trump had decided to attend the celebration of evangelist Billy Graham’s 95th birthday on Nov. 7 at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. In Russia, Trump told Goldstone that it had been necessary for him to show up at the Graham event: “There is something I’m planning down the road, and it’s really important.”

Goldstone knew exactly what Trump was talking about: a run for the White House. Franklin Graham, the evangelist’s son, was an influential figure among religious conservatives. When Trump two years earlier was championing birtherism — the baseless conspiracy theory that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya and was ineligible to be president — Graham joined the birther bandwagon, raising questions about the president’s birth certificate. Appearing at this event and currying favor with Franklin Graham was a mandatory stop for Trump, if he were serious about seeking the Republican presidential nomination. And it paid off: Trump and his wife, Melania, were seated at the VIP table, along with Rupert Murdoch and Sarah Palin. Franklin Graham later said that Trump was among those who “gave their hearts to Christ” that night.
Just last month, President Trump took to Twitter to deflect attention just after Special Counsel Robert Mueller, announced a major indictment of Putin’s St. Petersberg-based Internet Research Agency and the top managers in their “troll farm,” stating that their activities stretched back to 2013, a fact originally exposed by daring Russian journalists.



Russian Roulette’s reporting indicates that Trump was definitely deflecting in the above tweet, by citing his campaign announcement date, knowing full well that his desire to succeed President Obama were well known to his Russian business partners all the way back in 2013.

Donald Trump’s hail of lies is melting under the hard glare of scrutiny by the world’s top investigative reporters.
http://washingtonpress.com/2018/03/08/n ... in-letter/


Recall: In Dec 2016, Kushner told Russian Amb Kislyak he wanted a Kremlin back channel. THEN, Jared, Flynn, Bannon [& later Erik Prince] met w/ the crown prince [MBZ] who set up the Seychelles mtg w/ a Moscow emissary [Kirill Dmitriev of RDIF/VEB].



Kushner’s Middle East policy point man was indicted for child pornography in the 80’s
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https://www.rawstory.com/2018/03/kushne ... JQ.twitter


somebody could post this in another thread if they wanted to

“Why the Hell Are We Standing Down?”

The secret story of Obama’s response to Putin’s attack on the 2016 election.

David Corn and Michael IsikoffMar. 9, 2018 5:00 AM

This is the second of two excerpts adapted from Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump (Twelve Books), by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones. The book will be released on March 13.

CIA Director John Brennan was angry. On August 4, 2016, he was on the phone with Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB, the security service that succeeded the KGB. It was one of the regularly scheduled calls between the two men, with the main subject once more the horrific civil war in Syria. By this point, Brennan had had it with the Russian spy chief. For the past few years, Brennan’s pleas for help in defusing the Syrian crisis had gone nowhere. And after they finished discussing Syria—again with no progress—Brennan addressed two other issues, not on the official agenda.


First, Brennan raised Russia’s harassment of US diplomats—an especially sensitive matter at Langley after an undercover CIA officer had been beaten outside the US embassy in Moscow two months earlier. The continuing mistreatment of US diplomats, Brennan told Bortnikov, was “irresponsible, reckless, intolerable and needed to stop.” And, he pointedly noted, it was Bortnikov’s own FSB “that has been most responsible for this outrageous behavior.”

Then Brennan turned to an even more sensitive issue: Russia’s interference in the American election. Brennan now was aware that at least a year earlier Russian hackers had begun their cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee. We know you’re doing this, Brennan said to the Russian. He pointed out that Americans would be enraged to find out Moscow was seeking to subvert the election and that such an operation could backfire. Brennan warned Bortnikov that if Russia continued this information warfare, there would be a price to pay. He did not specify the consequences.

Bortnikov, as Brennan expected, denied Russia was doing anything to influence the election. This was, he groused, Washington yet again scapegoating Moscow. Brennan repeated his warning. Once more Bortnikov claimed there was no Russian meddling. But, he added, he would inform Russian President Vladimir Putin of Brennan’s comments.

This was the first of several warnings that the Obama administration would send to Moscow. But the question of how forcefully to respond would soon divide the White House staff, pitting the National Security Council’s top analysts for Russia and cyber issues against senior policymakers within the administration. It was a debate that would culminate that summer with a dramatic directive from President Barack Obama’s national security adviser to the NSC staffers developing aggressive proposals to strike back against the Russians: “Stand down.”

At the end of July—not long after WikiLeaks had dumped more than 20,000 stolen DNC emails before the Democrats’ convention—it had become obvious to Brennan that the Russians were mounting an aggressive and wide-ranging effort to interfere in the election. He was also seeing intelligence about contacts and interactions between Russian officials and Americans involved in the Trump campaign. By now, several European intelligence services had reported to the CIA that Russian operatives were reaching out to people within Trump’s circle. And the Australian government had reported to US officials that its top diplomat in the United Kingdom had months earlier been privately told by Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. By July 31, the FBI had formally opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump’s campaigns ties to Russians, with subinquiries targeting four individuals: Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, Michael Flynn, the former Defense Intelligence Agency chief who had led the crowd at the Republican convention in chants of “Lock her up!”, Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser who had just given a speech in Moscow, and Papadopoulos.

One senior US government official briefed on the meeting was told the president said to Putin in effect, “You fuck with us over the election and we’ll crash your economy.”
Brennan spoke with FBI Director James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA, and asked them to dispatch to the CIA their experts to form a working group at Langley that would review the intelligence and figure out the full scope and nature of the Russian operation. Brennan was thinking about the lessons of the 9/11 attack. Al Qaeda had been able to pull off that operation partly because US intelligence agencies—several of which had collected bits of intelligence regarding the plotters before the attack—had not shared the material within the intelligence community. Brennan wanted a process in which NSA, FBI, and CIA experts could freely share with each other the information each agency had on the Russian operation—even the most sensitive information that tended not to be disseminated throughout the full intelligence community.

Brennan realized this was what he would later call “an exceptionally, exceptionally sensitive issue.” Here was an active counterintelligence case—already begun by the FBI—aiming at uncovering and stopping Russian covert activity in the middle of a US presidential campaign. And it included digging into whether it involved Americans in contact with Russia.

While Brennan wrangled the intelligence agencies into a turf­crossing operation that could feed the White House information on the Russian operation, Obama convened a series of meetings to devise a plan for responding to and countering whatever the Russians were up to. The meetings followed the procedure known in the federal government as the interagency process. The general routine was for the deputy chiefs of the relevant government agencies to meet and hammer out options for the principals—that is, the heads of the agencies—and then for the principals to hold a separate (and sometimes parallel) chain of meetings to discuss and perhaps debate before presenting choices to the president.

But for this topic, the protocols were not routine. Usually, when the White House invited the deputies and principals to such meetings, they informed them of the subject at hand and provided “read­ ahead” memos outlining what was on the agenda. This time, the agency officials just received instructions to show up at the White House at a certain time. No reason given. No memos supplied. “We were only told that a meeting was scheduled and our principal or deputy was expected to attend,” recalled a senior administration official who participated in the sessions. (At the State Department, only a small number of officials were cleared to receive the most sensitive information on the Russian hack; the group included Secretary of State John Kerry; Tony Blinken, the deputy secretary of state; Dan Smith, head of the department’s intelligence bureau; and Jon Finer, Kerry’s chief of staff.)

Michael Daniel, the White House director of cybersecurity, took a depth breath and said, “It’s starting to look like every single state has been targeted.”
For the usual interagency sessions, principals and deputies could bring staffers. Not this time. “There were no plus-ones,” an attendee recalled. When the subject of a principals or deputies meeting was a national security matter, the gathering was often held in the Situation Room of the White House. The in-house video feed of the Sit Room—without audio—would be available to national security officials at the White House and elsewhere, and these officials could at least see that a meeting was in progress and who was attending. For the meetings related to the Russian hack, Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, ordered the video feed turned off. She did not want others in the national security establishment to know what was underway, fearing leaks from within the bureaucracy.

Rice would chair the principals’ meetings—which brought together Brennan, Comey, Kerry, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—with only a few other White House officials present, including White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco, and Colin Kahl, Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser. (Kahl had to insist to Rice that he be allowed to attend so Biden could be kept up to speed.)

Rice’s No. 2, deputy national security adviser Avril Haines, oversaw the deputies’ sessions. White House officials not in the meetings were not told what was being discussed. This even included other NSC staffers—some of whom bristled at being cut out. Often the intelligence material covered in these meetings was not placed in the President’s Daily Brief, the top-secret document presented to the president every morning. Too many people had access to the PDB. “The opsec on this”—the operational security—“was as tight as it could be,” one White House official later said.

As the interagency process began, there was no question on the big picture being drawn up by the analysts and experts assembled by Brennan: Russian state-sponsored hackers were behind the cyberattacks and the release of swiped Democratic material by WikiLeaks, Guccifer 2.0 (an internet persona suspected of being a Russian front), and a website called DCLeaks.com. “They knew who the cutouts were,” one participant later said. “There was not a lot of doubt.” It was not immediately clear, however, how far and wide within the Russian government the effort ran. Was it coming from one or two Russian outfits operating on their own? Or was it being directed from the top and part of a larger project?

The intelligence, at this stage, was also unclear on a central point: Moscow’s primary aim. Was it to sow discord and chaos to delegitimize the US election? Prompting a political crisis in the United States was certainly in keeping with Putin’s overall goal of weakening Western governments. There was another obvious reason for the Russian assault: Putin despised Hillary Clinton, blaming her for the domestic protests that followed the 2011 Russian legislative elections marred by fraud. (At the time, as secretary of state, Clinton had questioned the legitimacy of the elections.) US officials saw the Russian operation as designed at least to weaken Clinton during the election—not necessarily to prevent her from winning. After all, the Russians were as susceptible as any political observers to the conventional wisdom that she was likely to beat Trump. If Clinton, after a chaotic election, staggered across the finish line, bruised and battered, she might well be a damaged president and less able to challenge Putin.

A secret source in the Kremlin, who two years earlier had regularly provided information to an American official in the US embassy, had warned that a massive operation targeting Western democracies was being planned.
And there was a third possible reason: to help Trump. Did the Russians believe they could influence a national election in the United States and affect the results? At this stage, the intelligence community analysts and officials working on this issue considered this point not yet fully substantiated by the intelligence they possessed. Given Trump’s business dealings with Russians over the years and his long line of puzzling positive remarks about Putin, there seemed ample cause for Putin to desire Trump in the White House. The intelligence experts did believe this could be part of the mix for Moscow: Why not shoot for the moon and see if we can get Trump elected?

“All these potential motives were not mutually exclusive,” a top Obama aide later said.

Obama would be vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard until August 21, and the deputies took his return as an informal deadline for preparing a list of options—sanctions, diplomatic responses, and cyber counterattacks—that could be put in front of the principals and the president.

As these deliberations were underway, more troubling intelligence got reported to the White House: Russian-linked hackers were probing the computers of state election systems, particularly voter registration databases. The first reports to the FBI came from Illinois. In late June, its voter database was targeted in a persistent cyberattack that lasted for weeks. The attackers were using foreign IP addresses, many of which were traced to a Dutch company owned by a heavily tattooed 26-year-old Russian who lived in Siberia. The hackers were relentlessly pinging the Illinois database five times per second, 24 hours a day, and they succeeded in accessing data on up to 200,000 voters. Then there was a similar report from Arizona, where the username and password of a county election official was stolen. The state was forced to shut down its voter registration system for a week. Then in Florida, another attack.

One NSC staffer regularly walked into the office of Michael Daniel, the White House director of cybersecurity, with disturbing updates. “Michael,” he would say, “five more states got popped.” Or four. Or three. At one point, Daniel took a deep breath and told him, “It’s starting to look like every single state has been targeted.”

“I don’t think anybody knew what to make of it,” Jeh Johnson later said. The states selected seemed to be random; his Department of Homeland Security could see no logic to it. If the goal was simply to instigate confusion on Election Day, Johnson figured, whoever was doing this could simply call in a bomb threat. Other administration officials had a darker view and believed that the Russians were deliberately plotting digital manipulations, perhaps with the goal of altering results.

Michael Daniel was worried. He believed the Russians’ ability to fiddle with the national vote count—and swing a national US election to a desired candidate—seemed limited, if not impossible. “We have 3,000 jurisdictions,” Daniel subsequently explained. “You have to pick the county where the race was going to be tight and manipulate the results. That seemed beyond their reach. The Russians were not trying to flip votes. To have that level of precision was not feasible.”

Illustration of overlapping letters and the presidential seal
RELATED: A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump
But Daniel was focused on another parade of horribles: If hackers could penetrate a state election voter database, they might be able to delete every 10th name. Or flip two digits in a voter’s ID number—so when a voter showed up at the polls, his or her name would not match. The changes could be subtle, not easily discerned. But the potential for disorder on Election Day was immense. The Russians would only have to cause problems in a small number of locations—problems with registration files, vote counting, or other mechanisms—and faith in the overall tally could be questioned. Who knew what would happen then?

Daniel even fretted that the Russians might post online a video of a hacked voting machine. The video would not have to be real to stoke the paranoids of the world and cause a segment of the electorate to suspect—or conclude—that the results could not be trusted. He envisioned Moscow planning to create multiple disruptions on Election Day to call the final counts into question.

The Russian scans, probes, and penetrations of state voting systems changed the top-secret conversations underway. Administration officials now feared the Russians were scheming to infiltrate voting systems to disrupt the election or affect tallies on Election Day. And the consensus among Obama’s top advisers was that potential Russian election tampering was far more dangerous. The Russian hack-and-dump campaign, they generally believed, was unlikely to make the difference in the outcome of the presidential election. (After all, could Trump really beat Clinton?) Yet messing with voting systems could raise questions about the integrity of the election and the results. That was, they thought, the more serious threat.

Weeks earlier, Trump had started claiming that the only way he could lose the election would be if it were “rigged.” With one candidate and his supporters spreading this notion, it would not take many irregularities to spark a full-scale crisis on Election Day.

Obama instructed Johnson to move immediately to shore up the defenses of state election systems. On August 15, Johnson, while in the basement of his parents’ home in upstate New York, held a conference call with secretaries of state and other chief election officials of every state. Without mentioning the Russian cyber intrusions into state systems, he told them there was a need to boost the security of the election infrastructure and offered DHS’s assistance. He raised the possibility of designating election systems as “critical infrastructure”—just like dams and the electrical grid—meaning that a cyberattack could trigger a federal response.

“There was a concern if we did too much to spin this up into an Obama‑Putin face‑off, it would help the Russians achieve their objectives. It would create chaos, help Trump, and hurt Clinton…We had a strong sense of the Hippocratic oath: Do no harm.”
Much to Johnson’s surprise, this move ran into resistance. Many of the state officials—especially from the red states—wanted little, if anything, to do with the DHS. Leading the charge was Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, an ambitious, staunchly conservative Republican who feared the hidden hand of the Obama White House. “We don’t need the federal government to take over our voting,” he told Johnson.

Johnson tried to explain that DHS’s cybersecurity experts could help state systems search for vulnerabilities and protect against penetrations. He encouraged them to take basic cybersecurity steps, such as ensuring voting machines were not connected to the internet when voting was underway. And he kept explaining that any federal help would be voluntary for the states. “He must have used the word voluntary 15 times,” recalled a Homeland Security official who was on the call. “But there was a lot of skepticism that revolved around saying, ‘We don’t want Big Brother coming in and running our election process.’ ”

After the call, Johnson and his aides realized encouraging local officials to accept their help was going to be tough. They gave up on the idea of declaring these systems critical infrastructure and instead concluded they would have to keep urging state and local officials to accept their cybersecurity assistance.

Johnson’s interaction with local and state officials was a warning for the White House. If administration officials were going to enlist these election officials to thwart Russian interference in the voting, they would need GOP leaders in Congress to be part of the endeavor and, in a way, vouch for the federal government. Yet they had no idea how difficult that would be.

At the first principals meeting, Brennan had serious news for his colleagues: The most recent intelligence indicated that Putin had ordered or was overseeing the Russian cyber operations targeting the US election. And the intelligence community—sometimes called the IC by denizens of that world—was certain that the Russian operation entailed more than spy services gathering information. It now viewed the Russian action as a full-scale active measure.

This intelligence was so sensitive it had not been put in the President’s Daily Brief. Brennan had informed Obama personally about this, but he did not want this information circulating throughout the national security system.

Knowing that Putin was notoriously protective of any information about his family, Celeste Wallander proposed leaking snippets of classified intelligence to reveal the secret bank accounts in Latvia held for Putin’s daughters—a direct poke at the Russian president that would be sure to infuriate him.
The other principals were surprised to hear that Putin had a direct hand in the operation and that he would be so bold. It was one thing for Russian intelligence to see what it could get away with; it was quite another for these attacks to be part of a concerted effort from the top of the Kremlin hierarchy.

But a secret source in the Kremlin, who two years earlier had regularly provided information to an American official in the US embassy, had warned then that a massive operation targeting Western democracies was being planned by the Russian government. The development of the Gerasimov doctrine—a strategy for nonmilitary combat named after a top Russian general who had described it in an obscure military journal in 2013—was another indication that full-scale information warfare against the United States was a possibility. And there had been an intelligence report in May noting that a Russian military intelligence officer had bragged of a payback operation that would be Putin’s revenge on Clinton. But these few clues had not led to a consensus at senior government levels that a major Putin-led attack was on the way.

At this point, Obama’s top national security officials were uncertain how to respond. As they would later explain it, any steps they might take-calling out the Russians, imposing sanctions, raising alarms about the penetrations of state systems—could draw greater attention to the issue and maybe even help cause the disorder the Kremlin sought. A high‑profile U.S. government reaction, they worried, could amplify the psychological effects of the Russian attack and help Moscow achieve its end. “There was a concern if we did too much to spin this up into an Obama-Putin face-off, it would help the Russians achieve their objectives,” a participant in the principals meeting later noted. “It would create chaos, help Trump, and hurt Clinton. We had to figure out how to do this in a way so we wouldn’t create an own-goal. We had a strong sense of the Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm.”


RELATED: How a Russian-Linked Shell Company Hired An Ex-Trump Aide to Boost Albania’s Right-Wing Party in DC
A parallel concern for them was how the Obama administration could respond to the Russian attack without appearing too partisan. Obama was actively campaigning for Clinton. Would a tough and vocal reaction be seen as a White House attempt to assist Clinton and stick it to Trump? They worried that if a White House effort to counter Russian meddling came across as a political maneuver, that could compromise the ability of the Department of Homeland Security to work with state and local election officials to make sure the voting system was sound. (Was Obama too worried about being perceived as prejudicial or conniving? “Perhaps there was some overcompensation,” a top Obama aide said later.)

As Obama and his top policymakers saw it, they were stuck with several dilemmas. Inform the public about the Russian attack without triggering widespread unease about the election system. Be pro-active without coming across as partisan and bolstering Trump’s claim the election was a sham. Prevent Putin from further cyber aggression without prompting him to do more. “This was one of the most complex and challenging issues I dealt with in government,” Avril Haines, the NSC’s number two official, who oversaw the deputies meetings, later remarked.

The principals asked the Treasury Department to craft a list of far-reaching economic sanctions. Officials at the State Department began working up diplomatic penalties. And the White House pushed the IC to develop more intelligence on the Russian operation so Obama and his aides could consider whether to publicly call out Moscow.

At this point, a group of NSC officials, committed to a forceful response to Moscow’s intervention, started concocting creative options for cyberattacks that would expand the information war Putin had begun.

Michael Daniel and Celeste Wallander, the National Security Council’s top Russia analyst, were convinced the United States needed to strike back hard against the Russians and make it clear that Moscow had crossed a red line. Words alone wouldn’t do the trick; there had to be consequences. “I wanted to send a signal that we would not tolerate disruptions to our electoral process,” Daniel recalled. His basic argument: “The Russians are going to push as hard as they can until we start pushing back.”

Daniel and Wallander began drafting options for more aggressive responses beyond anything the Obama administration or the US government had ever before contemplated in response to a cyberattack. One proposal was to unleash the NSA to mount a series of far-reaching cyberattacks: to dismantle the Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks websites that had been leaking the emails and memos stolen from Democratic targets, to bombard Russian news sites with a wave of automated traffic in a denial-of-service attack that would shut the news sites down, and to launch an attack on the Russian intelligence agencies themselves, seeking to disrupt their command and control modes.

Knowing that Putin was notoriously protective of any information about his family, Wallander suggested targeting Putin himself. She proposed leaking snippets of classified intelligence to reveal the secret bank accounts in Latvia held for Putin’s daughters—a direct poke at the Russian president that would be sure to infuriate him. Wallander also brainstormed ideas with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a fellow hard-liner. They drafted other proposals: to dump dirt on Russian websites about Putin’s money, about the girlfriends of top Russian officials, about corruption in Putin’s United Russia party—essentially to give Putin a taste of his own medicine. “We wanted to raise the cost in a manner Putin recognized,” Nuland recalled.

One idea Daniel proposed was unusual: The United States and NATO should publicly announce a giant “cyber exercise” against a mythical Eurasian country, demonstrating that Western nations had it within their power to shut down Russia’s entire civil infrastructure and cripple its economy.

“Why the hell are we standing down? Michael, can you help us understand? “
But Wallander and Daniel’s bosses at the White House were not on board. One day in late August, national security adviser Susan Rice called Daniel into her office and demanded he cease and desist from working on the cyber options he was developing. “Don’t get ahead of us,” she warned him. The White House was not prepared to endorse any of these ideas. Daniel and his team in the White House cyber response group were given strict orders: “Stand down.” She told Daniel to “knock it off,” he recalled.

Daniel walked back to his office. “That was one pissed-off national security adviser,” he told one of his aides.

At his morning staff meeting, Daniel matter-of-factly said to his team that it had to stop work on options to counter the Russian attack: “We’ve been told to stand down.” Daniel Prieto, one of Daniel’s top deputies, recalled, “I was incredulous and in disbelief. It took me a moment to process. In my head I was like, ‘Did I hear that correctly?'” Then Prieto spoke up, asking, “Why the hell are we standing down? Michael, can you help us understand?” Daniel informed them that the orders came from both Rice and Monaco. They were concerned that if the options were to leak, it would force Obama to act. “They didn’t want to box the president in,” Prieto subsequently said.

It was a critical moment that, as Prieto saw it, scuttled the chance for a forceful immediate response to the Russian hack—and keenly disappointed the NSC aides who had been developing the options. They were convinced that the president and his top aides didn’t get the stakes. “There was a disconnect between the urgency felt at the staff level” and the views of the president and his senior aides, Prieto later said. When senior officials argued that the issue could be revisited after Election Day, Daniel and his staff intensely disagreed. “No—the longer you wait, it diminishes your effectiveness. If you’re in a street fight, you have to hit back,” Prieto remarked.

Obama and his top aides did view the challenge at hand differently than the NSC staffers. “The first-order objective directed by President Obama,” McDonough recalled, “was to protect the integrity of election.” Confronting Putin was necessary, Obama believed, but not if it risked blowing up the election. He wanted to make sure whatever action was taken would not lead to a political crisis at home—and with Trump the possibility for that was great. The nation had had more than 200 years of elections and peaceful transitions of power. Obama didn’t want that to end on his watch.

By now, the principals were into the nitty-gritty, discussing in the Sit Room the specifics of how to respond. They were not overly concerned about Moscow’s influence campaign to shape voter attitudes. The key question was precisely how to thwart further Russian meddling that could undermine the mechanics of the election. Strong sanctions? Other punishments?

The principals did discuss cyber responses. The prospect of hitting back with cyber caused trepidation within the deputies and principals meetings. The United States was telling Russia this sort of meddling was unacceptable. If Washington engaged in the same type of covert combat, some of the principals believed, Washington’s demand would mean nothing, and there could be an escalation in cyber warfare. There were concerns that the United States would have more to lose in all-out cyberwar.

“If we got into a tit-for-tat on cyber with the Russians, it would not be to our advantage,” a participant later remarked. “They could do more to damage us in a cyber war or have a greater impact.” In one of the meetings, Clapper said he was worried that Russia might respond with cyberattacks against America’s critical infrastructure—and possibly shut down the electrical grid.

The State Department had worked up its own traditional punishments: booting Russian diplomats—and spies—out of the United States and shutting down Russian facilities on American soil. And Treasury had drafted a series of economic sanctions that included massive assaults on Putin’s economy, such as targeting Russia’s military industries and cutting off Russia from the global financial system. One proposal called for imposing the same sorts of sanctions as had been placed on Iran: any entity that did business with Russian banks would not be allowed to do business with US financial institutions. But the intelligence community warned that if the United States responded with a massive response of any kind, Putin would see it as an attempt at regime change. “This could lead to a nuclear escalation,” a top Obama aide later said, speaking metaphorically.

After two weeks or so of deliberations, the White House put these options on hold. Instead, Obama and his aides came up with a different plan. First, DHS would keep trying to work with the state voting systems. For that to succeed, the administration needed buy-in from congressional Republicans. So Obama would reach out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to try to deliver a bipartisan and public message that the Russian threat to the election was serious and that local officials should collaborate with the feds to protect the electoral infrastructure.

Obama and the principals also decided that the US government would have to issue a public statement calling out Russia for having already secretly messed with the 2016 campaign. But even this seemed a difficult task fraught with potential problems. Obama and his top aides believed that if the president himself issued such a message, Trump and the Republicans would accuse him of exploiting intelligence—or making up intelligence—to help Clinton. The declaration would have to come from the intelligence community. The intelligence community was instructed to start crafting a statement. In the meantime, Obama would continue to say nothing publicly about the most serious information warfare attack ever launched against the United States.

“An unspecified threat would be far more potent than Putin knowing what we would do. Let his imagination run wild. That would be far more effective, we thought, than freezing this or that person’s assets.”
Most of all, Obama and his aides had to figure out how to ensure the Russians ceased their meddling immediately. They came up with an answer that would frustrate the NSC hawks, who believed Obama and his senior advisers were tying themselves in knots and looking for reasons not to act. The president would privately warn Putin and vow overwhelming retaliation for any further intervention in the election. This, they thought, could more likely dissuade Putin than hitting back at this moment. That is, they believed the threat of action would be more effective than actually taking action.

A meeting of the G-20 was scheduled for the first week in September in China. Obama and Putin would both be attending. Obama, according to this plan, would confront Putin and issue a powerful threat that supposedly would convince Russia to back off. Obama would do so without spelling out for Putin the precise damage he would inflict on Russia. “An unspecified threat would be far more potent than Putin knowing what we would do,” one of the principals later said. “Let his imagination run wild. That would be far more effective, we thought, than freezing this or that person’s assets.” But the essence of the message would be that if Putin did not stop, the United States would impose sanctions to crater Russia’s economy.

Obama and his aides were confident the intelligence community could track any new Russian efforts to penetrate the election infrastructure. If the IC detected new attempts, Obama then could quickly slam Russia with sanctions or other retribution. But, the principals agreed, for this plan—no action now, but possible consequences later—to work, the president had to be ready to pull the trigger.

Obama threatened—but never did pull the trigger. In early September, during the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, the president privately confronted Putin in what a senior White House official described as a “candid” and “blunt” talk. The president informed his aides he had delivered the message he and his advisers had crafted: We know what you’re doing, if you don’t cut it out. We will impose onerous and unprecedented penalties. One senior US government official briefed on the meeting was told that the president said to Putin in effect, “You fuck with us over the election and we’ll crash your economy.”

But Putin simply denied everything to Obama—and, as he had done before, blamed the United States for interfering in Russian politics. And if Obama was tough in private, publicly he played the statesman. Asked at a post-summit news conference about Russia’s hacking of the election, the president spoke in generalities—and insisted the United States did not want a blowup over the issue. “We’ve had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past, from other counties in the past,” he said. “Our goal is not to suddenly in the cyber arena duplicate a cycle escalation that we saw when it comes to other arms races in the past, but rather to start instituting some norms so that everybody’s acting responsibly.”

White House officials believed for a while that Obama’s warning had some impact: They saw no further evidence of Russia cyber intrusions into state election systems. But as they would later acknowledge, they largely missed Russia’s information warfare campaign aimed at influencing the election—the inflammatory Facebook ads and Twitter bots created by an army of Russian trolls working for the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg.

On October 7, the Obama administration finally went public, releasing a statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security that called out the Russians for their efforts to “interfere with the U.S. election process,” saying that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” But for some in the Clinton campaign and within the White House itself, it was too little, too late. Wallander, the NSC Russia specialist who had pushed for a more aggressive response, thought the October 7 statement was largely irrelevant. “The Russians don’t care what we say,” she later noted. “They care what we do.” (The same day the statement came out, WikiLeaks began its monthlong posting of tens of thousands of emails Russian hackers had stolen from John Podesta, the CEO of the Clinton campaign.)

In the end, some Obama officials thought they had played a bad hand the best they could and had succeeded in preventing a Russian disruption of Election Day. Others would ruefully conclude that they may have blown it and not done enough. Nearly two months after the election, Obama did impose sanctions on Moscow for its meddling in the election—shutting down two Russian facilities in the United States suspected of being used for intelligence operations and booting out 35 Russian diplomats and spies. The impact of these moves was questionable. Rice would come to believe it was reasonable to think that the administration should have gone further. As one senior official lamented, “Maybe we should have whacked them more.”
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... ding-down/




seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:30 am wrote:thank you Ben for posting ......yes it is part of the official record and part of the story...it belongs here in this record of events

it will be a lovely thing to look back on :wink:

Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican member of the House intel committee, just admitted that the committee has 'lost all credibility'


House intel Republicans ended their investigation before ever talking to the four Trump associates who are under indictment by special counsel Mueller:

Paul Manafort
Rick Gates
Michael Flynn
George Papadopoulos

...seems kinda important.

I think the timing of that release had way more to do with Penn. state elections today

‘HOUSE INTELLIGENCE’

The Walls Are Closing In on Trump
Nunes’ ‘investigation’ has shown Washington at its worst. It’s been a pure exercise in protecting Trump, and a low point for the GOP’s reputation as the party of national security.

Rick Wilson

03.12.18 9:36 PM ET

The Fox and Trump media enterprise today launched into a spasm of complete ecstasy as the House Intelligence Committee declared their investigation of Russian interference in our elections and their contacts with and collaboration with the Trump campaign over, done, solved. In their alternate reality, they’re declaring the CASE CLOSED.


They might not want to get too far over their skis on this one because both the Senate and Bob Mueller are still taking this question seriously, as opposed to the clownish covering of Donald Trump’s ample ass by the Republicans on the House Intel Committee. Its chairman Devin Nunes and the committee itself are both hopelessly compromised. Nunes has done everything in his power to cover for the President, his staff, and their Russian contacts, and to elide Vladimir Putin’s stated intent and obvious actions.

When secret agent man Devin Nunes raced to the White House to break a phony story of illegal and inappropriate surveillance from a mysterious “whistleblower,” it turned out the super-secret intel he set his ass on fire to reveal came from… wait for it… the White House itself. Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis, both employees of the White House, provided Nunes with top secret material outside the approved channels to push one of many of the White House’s endless variations on the “no collusion—no puppet, you’re the puppet” defense.

Nunes released a memo last month that tried and failed to bring the grown-ups’ investigations to a halt, and to change the facts of why Carter Page and Trump campaign officials came under the baleful glare of the FISA Court. Spoiler: it wasn’t the intelligence community helping Hillary Clinton. It was Trump’s allies and family ass-deep in contacts, connections, communications, and coordination with Vladimir Putin’s information warfare operation.

To imagine for even one moment that every intelligence agency in this nation is wrong and that Devin Nunes, super-staffer Derek Harvey and the other partisans are right about Putin and Trump is beyond ludicrous. Harvey, a refugee from the Trump national security council purge executed by H.R. McMaster and John Kelly, is now the lead agent in the coverup by Republican members of the House. Nunes, while claiming to have recused himself, has remained deeply involved at all time in the coverup.


House Intelligence is now officially an oxymoron. Nunes’ “investigation” has been an example of Washington at its worst, a pure exercise in protecting Donald Trump, and a low point for the Republican Party’s reputation as the party of national security. The committee refused to interview key players in the drama, failed to seek campaign, government, intelligence community and corporate records that would have led to places that Team Trump doesn’t want them to go.

In fact, this White House has refused to even recognize Putin’s global special warfare operations against us exist, much less to take a stand against them. Trump continues to behave toward Putin like a preacher caught in a whorehouse; cowed, compliant, and terrified of his prospective blackmailer. Putin’s ongoing attempts to divide and influence the American political system aren’t speculation, imagination, or some Soros-driven conspiracy. His anti-American propaganda campaign is still in full swing, and the only upside is he’s not murdering people here quite yet, though if I were Paul Manafort I’d cut the deal and get into witness protection now.

That Members of Congress who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect this nation have engaged in a sham investigation about to produce a sham report to protect a sham President is an insult to the oath they swore and itself a clear and present danger to the security of our nation. Nunes, the Fredo of L’Affaire Russe, will have a sharply defined role in the history of this sad moment: the clownish and weak man who exposed his nation to danger and disruption by a hostile enemy nation merely for partisan benefit.

The reality is that Mueller has built a case slowly, carefully, and methodically as Trump continues to set his case on fire with obvious obstruction and manic tweets. The Senate inquiry, too, is serious, bipartisan, and delving into the places, people, and issues the House Intel Committee ignores.

As Fox, talk radio, and Trump-centric clickservative media chant “case closed” Trump is already tweeting IN CRAZY GRANDPA ALL CAPS his amplification of House Intel’s “report” to convince his credulous base that the story is over and to call for the dismissal of Mueller and the end of the Senate probe.

His audience will believe it. Bob Mueller, the Senate, and the intelligence community have other ideas.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-walls ... p?ref=home


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Image



After Appearing Before Mueller Grand Jury, Nunberg Urges Trump’s Cooperation
By Matt Shuham | March 11, 2018 8:28 pm

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: Former leaves the U.S. District Courthouse on March 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)Zach Gibson/Getty Images North America
Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg returned to cable television Sunday, following a Friday appearance before special counsel’s Robert Mueller’s grand jury, with a simple message for the President: Cooperate.

“The President is going to have to explain, and the President has to do an interview, I would say,” he told MNSBC’s Alex Witt in an interview Sunday, before referring to the President’s decision to fire then-FBI Director James Comey. “I would highly suggest that he does.”

The Sunday interview represented a 180-degree turn for Nunberg. In November of last year, he advised Trump not to cooperate with Mueller. And last week he made a show, in several televised interviews, of promising to defy the special counsel’s subpoena for his communications with several campaign officials, including Roger Stone, who Nunberg has called his mentor.

Nunberg did end up committing to hand over the requested emails and appearing before Mueller’s grand jury. He’s since bragged about the coverage his defiant interview blitz achieved.

On Sunday, he advocated for the President’s cooperation with Mueller, saying that “taxpayers are getting their money’s worth,” with the special counsel’s office and describing the grand jury as serious, attentive, and “people that represented all parts of America.” Robert Mueller himself, Nunberg said, wasn’t in attendance at his appearance.

“To me it felt like he was a Talmud teacher and I was back in Yeshiva,” Nunberg told Witt, describing the lawyer interviewing him before the grand jury.

“It was ‘boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.’ There was nothing subjective,” he continued.

Asked if Mueller’s team was looking into Russian involvement in the Trump campaign, Nunberg said he didn’t think he was “leaking anything that the special counsel would be upset with” by saying that “of course they’re looking into whether there was coordination with the emails, of course they are, and the hacking.”

Nunberg said he thought both Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-candidate Donald Trump were “too smart” to attempt to work directly with each other.

“There are a lot of weird connections,” though, he noted at one point.

“This is legitimate to have this special counsel,” Nunberg said. “That’s why I also think the President should meet with him and get this over with.”
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ ... ooperation


Seth Abramson

(THREAD)
TWENTY TIMES TRUMP COLLUDED WITH THE RUSSIANS

PLEASE RETWEET THIS LIST so that we can stop reading think-pieces in which Trump allies—or journos who don't follow the Trump-Russia story—sagely advise us that America has absolutely *no* evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.

5:26 PM - 27 Feb 2018

1. Steele Dossier intel says Sergei Lavrov ran a blackmail/money laundering scheme in which Trump got money, blackmail forbearance, and—later—election assistance in exchange for a pro-Russia policy and other perks. Trump then leaked classified intel to Lavrov in the Oval Office.

2. Trump aided his son in covering up a clandestine meeting with Kremlin agents—designed to transmit stolen Clinton material from Russia to Trump—by drafting a false statement and forcing Don to sign it under his own name. Trump knew Don would be called to testify on the meeting.

3. According to both Emin Agalarov and his father Aras, Trump signed a letter-of-intent to build Trump Tower Moscow using Putin's real estate developer, banker, and permits man in November 2013—a deal that was active until February 2017. Trump has lied about this deal from Day 1.

4. Trump held a secret meeting with Putin at an international conference, during which he discussed sanctions with the Russian strongman. His administration had no intention of acknowledging or admitting the meeting until a journalist happened to find out about it accidentally.

5. Trump admitted discussing U.S.-Russia relations with Putin in Moscow in 2013—then, after announcing a run, retracted the claim, saying he "spoke to top officials" but "couldn't say more." His fixer, Cohen, sent a witness to the call to Stormy Daniels' lawyer to kill the story.

6. An eyewitness to the judging process of the 2002 Miss Universe pageant in Puerto Rico has told Special Counsel Bob Mueller that Trump directly and unambiguously attempted to rig the pageant so that Miss Russia would win. Miss Russia was Putin's mistress at the time.

She won.

7. Through clandestine negotiations conducted by Sessions—lied about before Congress, under oath, by Sessions—Trump agreed to unilaterally drop Russia sanctions while he knew from briefings Russia was attacking America. His secret plan was discovered by the DoS post-inauguration.

8. During the presidential campaign, Trump directed his fixer, Cohen, to negotiate a new Trump Tower Moscow deal with the Russians—including direct contact with the Kremlin—and the negotiations went on for months. He lied about this deal (as he did with the 2013 one) from Day 1.

9. Steele's dossier says Trump agreed with the Kremlin in mid-2016—in a meeting with the Kremlin we know Carter Page had, then lied about—to not impose sanctions on Russia.

Despite a 517-5 vote in Congress to impose sanctions, Trump has refused—in violation of the law—to do so.

10. Steele's dossier also says Russian oligarchs systematically overpaid for Trump properties to help develop him as a Russian asset—a claim bolstered by Trump business partner and ex-Russian mobster Felix Sater. Trump lied under oath—Perjury—to hide his relationship with Sater.

11. After George Papadopoulos told Trump—to his face, on March 31, 2016—the Kremlin had authorized him to negotiate a clandestine mid-campaign Trump-Putin meeting, instead of firing him Trump moved him to his Russia policy team and let him edit his first foreign policy speech.

12. During the same meeting Papadopoulos told Trump that he was a Kremlin agent, Trump ordered J.D. Gordon, a top member of his national security team, to change the GOP platform in July to benefit Putin on the Crimea issue. He issued his order after learning about Putin's offer.

13. After learning his Campaign Manager was an unregistered foreign agent who'd colluded illegally with pro-Putin oligarchs, Trump kept using him as a secret advisor for at least 6 months, while publicly claiming Manafort—who lived in Trump Tower—was basically a stranger to him.

14. In a breach of protocol, Trump forbade U.S. persons from entering the Oval while he met the Russian ambassador and the man Steele says ran the Russian interference campaign. In another protocol breach, he forbade U.S. translators from attending his first meeting with Putin.

14 (addendum). These protocol breaches are a pattern: in April '17, Trump invited the Russian ambassador to be a front-row VIP at a speech in which Trump promised Russia "a good deal" on sanctions. The invite was a protocol breach; the Trump-Kislyak VIP event beforehand was also.

15. After learning that Russia was committing cyberwarfare against the United States, and after saying that Putin watches carefully what he—Trump—says on television, Trump invited Russian hackers to continue committing crimes against the U.S. and said they'd be "richly rewarded."

16. Our intel community agrees Russia interfered with our election to a) sow chaos, and b) do so without getting caught. Despite being told in an August 2016 briefing Russia was attacking us, Trump has denied Russia did so, sows chaos on the issue, and refuses to criticize Putin.

17. While acting under color of authority from his father-in-law, Kushner smuggled Russia's ambassador into Trump's house (Trump Tower) through a back door in December 2016 to discuss establishing a secret Trump-Putin channel using a secure Russian facility—which plan is illegal.

18. Russia's main interest, now—in the matter of its cyber-crimes—is that Congress not find out what it did, with whom, or when. Trump illegally—without asserting executive privilege—directed key Congressional witnesses to refuse to answer Congressional inquiries on the subject.

19. Don Jr. told his dad about his contacts with Kremlin client WikiLeaks, and indeed as soon as WikiLeaks contacted Don saying it supported Trump's campaign, Trump began inserting praise of WikiLeaks into every stump speech in a transparent attempt to reward and encourage leaks.

19 (addendum). Trump's first effusive, out-of-nowhere praise of WikiLeaks as a noble organization that should be widely supported, and which would be releasing great campaign information, came just 15 minutes—that's not a typo—after WikiLeaks contacted his son for the first time.

20. Bannon says it was accepted in the White House that Don also told his dad of his meeting with Kremlin agents at Trump Tower and *on the day it happened*—a day Trump was meeting with all U.S. participants in the meeting on the *very same subject* as the meeting (Clinton dirt).

BONUS. (Surely you knew there were more than 20?) After Russia's stateside crimewave, it had no ability to stop *investigation* of its crimes—but Trump did. Trump brought in Sessions—he says—to kill the probe, then fired Comey to try to kill it, then used Nunes to try to kill it.

BONUS. After Russia committed what intelligence experts refer to—in the context of U.S. history—as a "cyber Pearl Harbor," Trump publicly proposed, as a serious policy proposal, that the U.S. intelligence community cooperate with the Kremlin on an important topic: cyber-security.

BONUS. After learning Flynn was secretly and illegally negotiating U.S.-Russia policy in 2016, Trump first did nothing, then fired him for another reason, then tried to rehire him, then fired the man prosecuting him, then told him to "stay strong," then said he did nothing wrong.

BONUS. Trump awarded the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Russia—over 19 other nations—within hours of Russia offering him $20 million and the opportunity to meet Putin (which he immediately tweeted excitedly about). The other 19 nations were given no chance to match Russia's offer.

BONUS. After learning the Agalarovs were Kremlin agents—recipients of an award from Putin; authorized to act as Putin's messengers; no-bid developers for the Kremlin—Trump and his son Don developed a close friendship with Aras and Emin and stayed in touch throughout the campaign.

BONUS. Though he knew of Manafort's ties to the Kremlin via pro-Putin oligarchs, and though Manafort offered—in-context, a huge red flag for criminal intent—to work for free, Trump hired him and his equally conflicted partner Gates as Campaign Manager and Deputy Campaign Manager.

BONUS. Papadopoulos told Greek media he met Trump *after* meeting Kremlin agent Mifsud but *before* Trump named him to the NatSec team. Trump denies it. If true, Trump knew Papadopoulos had met Russians when he chose him to be the one NatSec team member he personally vouched for.

BONUS (addendum). Papadopoulos' claim is bolstered by his accuracy in describing his campaign role—versus Trump's deceit on the same topic—and that eyewitnesses say that when Papadopoulos told Trump he was aiding the Kremlin on March 31, 2016, Trump didn't react or shut him down.

BONUS. If you've been reading this feed a long time, you know how much evidence there is—including Trump's own words—bolstering the claim the Kremlin is blackmailing him over conduct at the Ritz Moscow. Trump's lies on this topic constitute collusion with the Kremlin's narrative.

CONCLUSION. I'm at 28—and could go on—but I'll stop here to try to keep this thread a reasonable length. Note: everything I've written is taken from the public record—and is only a *fraction* of what Bob Mueller knows. So let's stop reading or sharing "no collusion" think-pieces.

NOTE. There are attendant facts augmenting *all* these points (e.g., Trump's effort to gut election security/sanctions administration units in his government; his refusal to authorize NSA to counter Russian cyber-attacks; his ongoing war on those investigating Russia; and so on.)

NOTE2. Because Trump and the think-pieces are about "collusion," I'm meeting them head-on—as *all* the acts I've cited here are "collusion" (a non-legal term). *Many* of them then *also* map to "coordination," which denotes "Conspiracy," a legal term and federal criminal offense.

NOTE3. Readers of this feed know I've listed before—ad nauseam, even—the criminal statutes many of these acts of collusion connect to, including direct (or conspiracy) campaign-finance, bribery, fraud, computer-crime, money laundering, obstruction, and witness tampering statutes.

NOTE4. Below is the opinion piece that prompted this thread.

It prompted this thread because every single sentence in it, and I mean every single sentence, is factually incorrect (and, as applicable, legally, also). And I suspect its author well knows it:
https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 3802040320


Papadopoulos Reportedly Told Mueller That Trump Encouraged Him to Arrange Putin Meeting

Former Donald Trump policy adviser George Papadopoulos told federal investigators Donald Trump “personally encouraged him” to arrange a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making false statements to the FBI, is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

According to Isikoff and Corn’s new book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” Papadopoulos told Mueller that during a March 31, 2016 foreign policy meeting, he informed Trump of his ability to arrange a meeting with Putin—an idea Papadopoulos claims Trump found “interesting.”

As Yahoo News reports, “Trump looked at Sessions, as if he expected him to follow up with Papadopoulos, and Sessions nodded in response, the authors write.”

The new book also recounts former President Barack Obama’s reaction to learning of allegations outlined in the salacious Trump-Russia dossier, compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

“Why am I hearing this?” Obama reportedly asked then-national security adviser, Susan Rice. “Why is this happening?”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, upon hearing the allegations, called Trump’s action “treason,” according to the journalists.
https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-polit ... in-meeting




Roger Stone Knew in Advance About the Stolen Emails. Did He Tell Trump?

Jonathan Chait@jonathanchaitMarch 13, 2018 8:55 am

It will soon be Roger Stone’s time in the barrel. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Yesterday, Donald Trump’s House Republican allies announced that they had found no evidence that Donald Trump’s campaign had colluded with Russia. And yet the considerable body of public evidence to the contrary continues to grow. Today, the Washington Post reports that Trump’s friend and informal adviser Roger Stone had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had obtained stolen emails from John Podesta. Two sources — one of whom is Sam Nunberg, and the other of whom is not named — tell the Post that Stone knew about the email hack before it was publicly disclosed.

Stone had teased his knowledge of the hacks repeatedly. His now-suspended Twitter account enthralled his audience during the campaign by promising, “Trust me, it will soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary,” “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp,” and “Payload coming. #Lockthemup.”

Perhaps recognizing the legal danger he placed himself in, Stone has since denied having had any direct contact with Assange, and has implausibly cast his remarks as mere speculation. Last September, according to the ranking Democrat on the committee, Stone refused to answer a direct question from the House Intelligence Committee about his contacts with WikiLeaks.

The Post story makes it clear that Stone’s implausible public story and reported refusal to testify in Congress are a cover story because he is an accessory after the fact to Russian-orchestrated email theft. Stone denies the account of both sources. If Stone, who has gleefully cultivated a reputation as a dirty trickster, has to deny a charge, you know it’s serious.

The Post’s story does not speculate about whether Stone shared his knowledge with other Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump himself. It would be stunning and bizarre if he did not. Stone held an official role in the Trump campaign, but departed his official role in August 2015 on what he later called “excellent terms.” Later in August, Stone was characteristically cagey about his contacts with the candidate. “Asked if he had spoken with Mr. Trump since they apparently went their separate ways, Mr. Stone said: ‘I would rather not say. I still consider him a friend, and think he still considers me a friend; let’s just leave it at that,’” reported the New York Times.

Soon after, Stone grew less hesitant to tout his access to Trump. “We’re on cordial terms. We talk. … We talk on the phone from time to time,” he told TPM in September. In a April 2016 Politico interview, he described more about his relationship with Trump, and repeatedly emphasized his close ties with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. “By turning to Paul Manafort, who’s a former partner of mine, a very skilled guy … by going to Manafort, I think that Donald has made an excellent selection.” In May, he told Jeffrey Toobin he speaks with Trump “now and then.” In August, he told C-span, “I have no formal nor informal role but I do have access to all the right people.” In October, he boasted of “firing off long memos to the Donald once or twice a week.”

During all these conversations, when Stone was jockeying for access and favor with the candidate, what are the odds he did not disclose the delicious secret he had obtained? It is impossible to believe that, after Donald Trump Jr. and other high-ranking campaign officials met in Trump Tower with a Russian agent who promised them dirt on Hillary Clinton, Donald Jr. did not excitedly tell his father about his impending coup. It is even more difficult to believe Stone did not share what he had learned months earlier.
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/20 ... trump.html


WaPo: Roger Stone had contact with Assange in 2016

Roger Stone distances himself from Nunberg
Washington (CNN)Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone told associates he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016, according to a new report by The Washington Post, which cites two sources.

An unnamed source told the Post that Stone had a phone conversation with Assange in the spring of 2016. Ahead of any public knowledge about Democratic email leaks, Stone told the source he had learned WikiLeaks had obtained emails from the Democratic National Committee and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

During the campaign, Stone said in interviews and speeches that he was in touch with WikiLeaks, and he posted tweets in October 2016 that seemingly predicted the Podesta leaks. The Washington Post report suggests that in addition to these public statements, Stone was even more candid in private conversations about ties to WikiLeaks.

Sam Nunberg, the Trump associate who went on a national media spree last week saying he would not comply with special counsel Robert Mueller's demand to hand over his emails pertaining to the campaign (he later backed down), also told the Post that Stone had contact with Assange in 2016.
On CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" Monday night, Nunberg said that Stone -- who he has called a mentor -- was "a subject" in the special counsel's investigation.
"I think it's pretty obvious that they're asking me about Roger Stone and Julian Assange," Nunberg said, later adding, "At the very least, he is a subject."

Stone, who briefly served as a Trump campaign adviser early in the race, has denied contact with Assange despite earlier public claims that he's spoken with him, and WikiLeaks has said it has never been in contact with Stone. The Atlantic reported in February, however, that Stone and WikiLeaks did exchange private, direct messages on Twitter, according to the Atlantic.
In November, CNN reported that Stone was in contact with New York radio personality Randy Credico, who Stone referred to as the intermediary between him and Assange, according to sources familiar with the situation. Stone insisted there was nothing untoward about their conversation. Credico has interviewed Assange and visited him in person.
Stone told the Post on Monday that he only recalled one conversation alluding to meeting with Assange, which he said he told Nunberg as a passing joke.

"I said, 'I think I will go to London for the weekend and meet with Julian Assange.' It was a joke, a throwaway line to get him off the phone. The idea that I would meet with Assange undetected is ridiculous on its face," Stone told the Post.

Stone also tweeted ominous messages ahead of leaks, including one that said "Payload coming. #Lockthemup" two days before WikiLeaks published a trove of Podesta's emails.
https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/13/politics ... index.html



Report: Roger Stone claimed he spoke to Julian Assange in 2016


Roger Stone speaks to reporters at the Capitol right after appearing before the House Intelligence Committee. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Political operative Roger Stone, an informal adviser to the Trump campaign, told two of his associates in 2016 that he'd been in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, per the Washington Post. An anonymous Stone associate cited in the report — the other is Sam Nunberg — claimed that Stone discussed hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in Assange's possession in the spring of 2016.

Why it matters: If the claims about Stone are true, he would have known about the hacked DNC and Podesta emails — which the U.S. intelligence community determined came via a Russian hack — months before their eventual release by WikiLeaks later in the summer and fall of 2016.

Nunberg said Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team asked him to describe a conversation he had with Stone in 2016, in which Stone claimed he met with Assange.
Stone's response, provided to WashPost: "I wish him no ill will, but Sam can manically and persistently call you ... I said, 'I think I will go to London for the weekend and meet with Julian Assange.' It was a joke, a throwaway line to get him off the phone. The idea that I would meet with Assange undetected is ridiculous on its face."
More Stone: "The allegation that I met with Assange, or asked for a meeting or communicated with Assange is provably false."
Stone says he never left the country in 2016.
https://www.axios.com/roger-stone-julia ... 50703.html


Sam Nunberg and another witness told Mueller that Roger Stone met with Julian Assange in 2016

Roger Stone spoke to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as early as spring 2016, according to two witnesses in the special counsel probe.

The Republican “dirty trickster” and former Trump campaign adviser told Sam Nunberg and another associate about his contacts with Assange, contradicting their public denials, and both of those associates told Robert Mueller and his investigators, reported the Washington Post.

Nunberg gave an on-the-record interview to the newspaper about his testimony Monday, the same day Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee issued a one-page statement claiming their own probe had found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.

President Donald Trump then issued an all-caps statement on Twitter trumpeting the GOP lawmakers’ statement.

The other Stone associate spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity.

Nunberg, who testified Friday and admitted afterward the Mueller probe was “warranted” because there’e “something there,” said Stone told him that he had met with Assange, and he then told the special counsel.

Another associate told Mueller that Stone revealed in spring 2016 that Assange told him that WikiLeaks had obtained emails that would torment top Democrats such as John Podesta, then campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.

“The conversation occurred before it was publicly known that hackers had obtained the emails of Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee, documents which WikiLeaks released in late July and October,” the Post reported. “The U.S. intelligence community later concluded the hackers were working for Russia.”

Stone and Assange have denied communicating with one another, and the GOP operative has denied advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks document dumps — which he sometimes appeared to foreshadow on social media.

He reiterated his denials Monday to the Post, saying his comments to Nunberg were intended as a joke.

“I wish him no ill will, but Sam can manically and persistently call you,” Stone said. “I said, ‘I think I will go to London for the weekend and meet with Julian Assange.’ It was a joke, a throwaway line to get him off the phone. The idea that I would meet with Assange undetected is ridiculous on its face.’”
https://www.rawstory.com/2018/03/sam-nu ... ange-2016/



WELCOME TO THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, MR. POMPEO — THE LATEST COMMITTEE TO HAVE REASON TO INVESTIGATE RUSSIA!

March 13, 2018/3 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe, Torture /by empty wheel

Yesterday, Rex Tillerson committed the one unforgivable sin on the Trump Administration: holding Russia accountable for its actions. While Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders equivocated, Tillerston strongly stated that the poison used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter obviously came from Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response.”

Tillerson says he doesn’t know whether Russia’s government had knowledge of the poisoning. But he is arguing the poison couldn’t have originated anywhere else. He says the substance is known to the U.S. and doesn’t exist widely. He says it’s “only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties.”

Tillerson calls the poisoning “a really egregious act” and says it’s “almost beyond comprehension” that a state actor would use such a dangerous substance in a public place.


Today, Tillerson’s counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, drew the unenviable task of denying Russia’s involvement, even while the Russian Embassy and Putin himself barely hid their glee about the attack.

“Russia is not responsible,” Sergei Lavrov said during a televised press conference that marked an escalation of the standoff with the UK over the poisoning of the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

Lavrov also suggested Moscow would not comply with a Tuesday midnight deadline set by Theresa May to deliver an explanation or face retaliation. He said Moscow’s requests to see samples of the nerve agent had been turned down, which he called a violation of the chemical weapons convention outlawing the production of chemical weapons.

“We have already made our statement on this case,” he said. “Russia is ready to cooperate in accordance with the convention to ban chemical weapons if the United Kingdom will deign to fulfil its obligations according to the same convention.”


Trump did the predictable thing: Fired Tillerson by tweet, naming Mike Pompeo his successor and torturer Gina Haspel America’s first female CIA Director.

Image

Of course, both those nominations require confirmation. And while it would probably be easy for Haspel to work as Acting Director for the foreseeable future, it may be far, far harder for Pompeo to make the move.

Admittedly, Pompeo was confirmed CIA Director with a 66-32 vote (this was before Democrats got bolder about opposing Trump’s more horrible nominees, and Pompeo was, after all, a member of Congress). But Pompeo likely faces a harder time even getting through committee. While Senate Foreign Relations Committee Dems Jeanne Shaheen and Tim Kaine are among the idiotic who voted for Pompeo for CIA Director, SFRC Republican Rand Paul was the sole Republican voting against Pompeo. So even if just Shaheen and Kaine flip their votes, Pompeo will be bottled up in SFRC. But SFRC also includes several of the other Republicans who’ve been most skeptical of Trump and/or his dalliances with Russia: Bob Corker (who is retiring and has been chilly about Pompeo’s confirmation in the past), Jeff Flake (who is retiring), and Marco Rubio (who was hacked by Russia himself; though he has already said he would support Pompeo).

Since Pompeo’s last confirmation, he has done several things to coddle Trump’s Russia dalliance, as I laid out here.

Already, Pompeo’s cheerleading of Wikileaks during the election should have been disqualifying for the position of CIA Director.

That’s even more true now that Pompeo himself has deemed them a non-state hostile intelligence service.

Add in the fact that Pompeo met with Bill Binney to hear the skeptics’ version of the DNC hack, and the fact that Pompeo falsely suggested that the Intelligence Community had determined Russia hadn’t affected the election. Finally, add in the evidence that Pompeo has helped Trump obstruct the investigation and his role spying on CIA’s own investigation into it, and there’s just far too much smoke tying Pompeo to the Russian operation.


Remember, too, that in his last confirmation process, Pompeo refused to rule out using hacked intelligence from Russia, something Rubio should be particularly concerned about.

Pompeo can also expect to be grilled about why he ignored the sanctions against Russia’s top intelligence officers so they could all come for a meet and greet earlier this year.

I’m not saying it won’t happen. But it will be tough for Pompeo to get through the narrowly divided SFRC, much less confirmation in the full senate.

House Intelligence Republicans yesterday made asses of themselves in an attempt to get Russian investigations off the front page. But by nominating Pompeo to be Secretary of State, Trump just gave an entirely different committee, one far more hawkish on Russia issues, reason to start a new investigation into Trump — and Pompeo’s — Russia dalliances.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/13/w ... committee/



seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:44 am wrote:
Papadopoulos says that Trump personally encouraged him to arrange meeting with Putin, new book reports

.
George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign and potentially a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, told federal investigators that before the election, Donald Trump personally encouraged him to pursue a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new book being published Tuesday.

Papadopoulos’s account to Mueller — as reported in “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,” by Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones’ David Corn — contradicts the public accounts of what took place at a critical meeting of Trump’s foreign policy team on March 31, 2016. It was at that meeting that Papadopoulos first informed Trump and the then candidate’s other foreign policy advisers that he had contacts in Britain who could arrange a summit between the GOP candidate and Putin.

Although one of the campaign officials present, J.D. Gordon, has said the idea was shot down by then Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Papadopoulos told Mueller’s investigators that Trump encouraged him, saying he found the idea “interesting,” according to the book, which cites sources familiar with his questioning by Mueller’s investigators.

Trump looked at Sessions, as if he expected him to follow up with Papadopoulos, and Sessions nodded in response, the authors write. Sessions has said he has “no clear recollection” of the exchange with Papadopoulos. A White House official said that others at the meeting remember it differently than Papadopoulos.

Last fall, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians and became a cooperating witness in Mueller’s probe.

The story of what happened at the only known meeting between Trump and Papadopoulos is one of a number of new details revealed in “Russian Roulette” about contacts that Trump, his campaign advisers and others had with various Russian figures and their associates during the 2016 campaign.

(The first two excerpts from the book were published last week by Yahoo News and Mother Jones. You can read them here and here.)


The book chronicles the efforts of Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a close Putin ally, and his assistant, Maria Butina, to curry favor with the Trump campaign — including their own attempt to set up a Trump-Putin meeting in Moscow.

Those efforts began as early as July 2015, when Butina showed up at FreedomFest, a conservative gathering, in Las Vegas, where Trump was speaking. During a Q&A session, Trump called on Butina, who asked him about his stance on Russia and the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration on the country — eliciting the first response from the new GOP candidate on an issue that was a top priority of Putin’s government.

“I know Putin,” Trump replied during the course of a five-minute answer. “I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK? I don’t think you’d need the sanctions.”


Photo illustration: Yahoo News
Later in the campaign, the book reports that two top Trump officials — Steve Bannon and Reince Preibus — discussed a video of the Las Vegas event and wondered how Butina gained such quick access to Trump’s ear.

“How was it that this Russian woman happened to be in Las Vegas for that event? And how was it that Trump happened to call on her?” Isikoff and Corn write. “And Trump’s response? It was odd, Bannon thought, that Trump had a fully developed answer. Priebus agreed there was something strange about Butina. Whenever there were events held by conservative groups, she was always around.”

In the spring of 2016, Torshin and Butina — who had close ties to the National Rifle Association — made a direct play to gain influence with the Trump campaign, floating their own proposal for a Trump-Putin summit during an international conference in Moscow on the plight of persecuted Christians, organized by Franklin Graham.

In an email to Trump campaign officials, Rick Clay, a conservative activist, described Torshin as a “very close friend of President Putin” and encouraged the Trump team to strongly consider the offer.

Maria Butina; Donald Trump and Alexander Torshin
Maria Butina; candidate Donald Trump speaks at FreedomFest in 2015; and Alexander Torshin. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: ITAR-TASS/ZUMAPRESS.com, John Locher/AP, Alexander Shalgin\TASS via Getty Images)
“Please excuse the play on words, but this is HUGE!” Clay wrote, according to a copy of the email that was reviewed by the authors. “The optics of Mr. Trump in Russia with Franklin Graham attending an event of over 1000 World Christian Leaders addressing the Defense of Persecuted Christians accompanied by a very visible meeting between President Putin and Mr. Trump would devastate the Clinton campaign’s efforts to marginalize Mr. Trump on foreign policy and embolden him further with evangelicals.”

The then-candidate’s son-in-law Jared Kushner subsequently sent an email recommending that the campaign “pass on this,” warning, “Be careful.”

Among other revelations in “Russian Roulette”:

The U.S. government had a secret source inside the Kremlin who warned as early as 2014 that Russia was mounting an ambitious campaign of cyberattacks and information warfare against Western European democracies and the United States. The reports from the source were “startling” because they spelled out the “magnitude” of the Kremlin’s “intention to do us harm,” according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The secret Kremlin source also provided stark insights into the contempt that Putin and his senior officials had for President Barack Obama and his administration — often expressed in racist terms. In Putin’s presence, Obama would be called a “monkey,” and it was not uncommon for the American president to be referred to by the N-word, the book reports.
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, was so concerned about Trump’s ties to Russia-friendly advisers that he contemplated an idea to catch the Trump campaign in the act of colluding with Moscow by mounting what he called a “honeypot” operation straight out of a spy novel. The idea was that the Clinton team would plant a phony story about Clinton in the Democratic National Committee’s computer system and wait to see if the Trump campaign or its allies made public use of it. If they did, it would prove the Trump campaign was receiving intelligence from the Russian hackers who had infiltrated the DNC’s servers. But after Mook floated the idea to Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s lawyer, they decided it was “harebrained” and could backfire.
President Obama was incredulous when he was first briefed in early January 2017 about the contents of a dossier, prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, alleging that the Kremlin had a videotape of Trump engaging in sordid sexual behavior with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. “Why am I hearing this?” he asked his national security adviser, Susan Rice. “Why is this happening?” Rice explained that the intelligence community had no idea if the claim was true but that Obama needed to be aware that the allegation was circulating. A few days later, when Vice President Joe Biden was briefed about intelligence reports on contacts between various players in the Trump orbit and the Kremlin, he had a visceral reaction. “If this is true, it’s treason,” Biden exclaimed.
When then President-elect Trump was handed a two-page synopsis of the Steele dossier, at the end of a U.S. intelligence briefing about Russia, he too had a visceral reaction. “It’s a shakedown,” Trump said, after FBI Director James Comey left the room. Trump believed he was being blackmailed by Comey. The incident, the authors write, may well have planted the seeds for what was later described by one of the most disastrous decisions of Trump’s presidency to date: the firing of Comey, a move that led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.
https://www.yahoo.com/news/papadopoulos ... 56370.html


Adam Schiff

BREAKING: GOP just shut down House Intel investigation, leaving questions unanswered, leads unexplored, countless witnesses uncalled, subpoenas unissued.

If Russians have leverage over the President, GOP has decided that it would rather not know. The minority's work continues:
Image
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Schiff responds: “In the coming weeks and months, new information will continue to be exposed... And each time this new information becomes public, Republicans will be held accountable for abandoning a critical investigation of such vital national importance.”
Image
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


-- empty wheel
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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:10 am

seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:49 pm wrote:emptywheel

Let me be very clear: I think Stone is guilty as fuck.


ROGER STONE’S RAT-EATING SWISS CHEESE DENIALS

March 7, 2018/2 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe, Russian hacks, WikiLeaks /by emptywheel
Back when Roger Stone leaked his September testimony to HPSCI, I noted that it misrepresented the key allegations against him, meaning he never denied the important parts.

I’m even more interested in how he depicts what he claims are the three allegations made against him.

Members of this Committee have made three basic assertions against me which bust be rebutted her today. The charge that I knew in advance about, and predicted, the hacking of the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email, that I had advanced knowledge of the source or actual content of the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary Clinton or that, my now public exchange with a persona that our intelligence agencies claim, but cannot prove, is a Russian asset, is anything but innocuous and are entirely false.


In point of fact, this tripartite accusation is actually a misstatement of the allegations against him (though in his rebuttal of them, he is helped immensely by the sloppiness of public statements made by Democrats, especially those on the panel, which I’ve criticized myself). Generally, the accusation is more direct: that in conversing with both Julian Assange (though a cut-out) and Guccifer 2.0, Stone was facilitating or in some way helping the Trump campaign maximally exploit the Russian releases that were coming.


The same is true of his interview with Chuck Todd yesterday.

I’m most interested in the way how Stone addresses his direct exchange with Guccifer 2.0, then restricts the rest of his denials to Wikileaks. When Todd asks Stone why he reached out to both Guccifer and Wikileaks, Stone focuses his attention on the former.

Todd: Why did you reach out to Guccifer? Why did you reach out to Wikileaks?

Stone: First of all, my direct messages with Guccifer 2.0, if that’s who it really is, come six weeks, almost six weeks after the DNC emails had been published by Wikileaks. So in order to collude in their hacking, which I had nothing whatsoever to do with, one would have needed a time machine. Secondarily, I wrote a very long piece, you can find it still at the Stone Cold Truth. I doubt that Guccifer is, indeed, a Russian operative. I also once believed that he had hacked the DNC. I don’t believe that anymore either. I believe it was an inside job and the preponderance of evidence points to a load to a thumb drive or some other portable device and the device is coming out the back door. But, Chuck, ten days ago, the Washington Post that based on the Democratic minority that the Russians had sent documents to me for review. I never received any documents from the Russians or anybody representing them. I never had any contact with any

Todd: Did you receive any documents and you didn’t know it was a Russian?

Stone: I never received any documents from anyone purporting to be a Russian or otherwise, and I never saw the Wikileaks documents in advance.


In his response he does the following:

Raises doubts that he was actually talking to Guccifer 2.0 (even though Guccifer 2.0’s only identity was virtual, so Stone’s online interactions with any entity running the Guccifer Twitter account would by definition be communication with Guccifer 2.0)
Repeats his earlier doubts that Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian operative
Emphasizes that he couldn’t have couldn’t have been involved in any hack of the DNC Guccifer 2.0 had done because he first spoke to him six weeks after the email release (in reality, he was speaking to him three weeks after the Wikileaks release)
Admits he once believed Guccifer 2.0 did the hack but (pointing to the Bill Binney analysis, and giving it a slightly different focus than he had in September) claims he no longer believes that
Invents something about a WaPo report that’s not true, thereby shifting the focus to receiving documents (as opposed to, say, information)
Denies he received documents from anyone but not that he saw documents (other than the Wikileaks ones) before they were released
This denial stops well short of explaining why he reached out to Guccifer. And it does nothing to change the record — one backed by his own writing — that Stone reached out because he believed Guccifer, whoever he might be, had hacked the DNC.

At the time Stone reached out to Guccifer (as I pointed out, he misrepresented the timing of this somewhat in his testimony), he believed Guccifer had violated the law by hacking the DNC.

He never does explain to Todd why he did reach out.

Guccifer 2.0 never comes back in the remainder of the interview. The first time Todd asks Stone if there had been “collusion” with the Russians, Stone answers it generally, insisting Trump needed no help to beat Hillary.

Todd: You have made the case here that there was no collusion here that you’re aware of. Would it have been wrong to collude with a foreign adversary to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

Stone: Well, there’s no evidence that this happened, you’re asking me to answer a hypothetical question. It seems to me that Mr. Steele was colluding with the Russians.

Todd: Let me ask you this. Do you think it’s fair game to get incriminating evidence from a foreign government about your political opponent?

Stone: But that didn’t happen, Chuck, so I’m not going to answer a hypothetical question. It was unnecessary. The idea that Donald Trump needed help from the Russians to beat Hillary Clinton it’s an excuse, a canard, a fairy tale. I don’t believe it ever happened.


The next time — when Stone first labels then backs way the fuck off labeling conspiring with the Russians as treason — Stone then focuses on how such conspiring would only be treason if you believed that Assange was a Russian agent.

Stone: Chuck I’ve been accused of being a dirty trickster. There’s one trick that’s not in my bag. That’s treason. I have no knowledge or involvement with Russians–

Todd: And you believe

Stone: And I have no knowledge of anybody else who does.

Todd: Let me establish something. You believe, if unbeknownst to you, there is somebody on the Trump campaign who worked with the Russians on these email releases, that’s a treasonous act?

Stone: No, actually, I don’t think so because for it to be a treasonous act, Assange would have to be provably a Russian asset, and Wikileaks would have to be a Russian front and I do not believe that’s the case.

Todd: Let me back you up there. You think it’s possible Wikileaks and the Trump campaign coordinated the release?

Stone: I didn’t say that at all. I have no knowledge of that and I make no such claim.

Todd: No, I understand that. You just issued that hypothetical. So what you’re saying is had that occurred you don’t believe that’s, you don’t believe, you don’t believe that that’s against the law?

Stone: This is all based on a premise that Wikileaks is a Russian front and Assange is a Russian agent. As I said I reject that. On the other hand I have no knowledge that that happened. It’s certainly did not happen in my case. That isn’t something I was involved in.


When asked whether it would be illegal to work with Wikileaks (Stone’s contacts with Guccifer at a time he believed Guccifer to have hacked the DNC go unmentioned) Stone again focuses on whether Wikileaks was Russian, not on the conspiracy to hack and leak documents.

This focus on Wikileaks instead of Guccifer 2.0 carries over to the statement Stone issued to ABC:

I never received anything whatsoever from WikiLeaks regarding the source, content or timing of their disclosures regarding Hillary Clinton, the DNC or Podesta. I never received any material from them at all. I never received any material from any source that constituted the material ultimately published by WikiLeaks. I never discussed the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary Clinton or the DNC with candidate or President Donald Trump before during or after the election. I don’t know what Donald Trump knew about the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary or the DNC if anything and who he learned it from if anyone.

No one, including Sam Nunberg is in possession If any evidence to the contrary because such evidence does not exist … This will be an impossible case to bring because the allegation that I knew about the WikiLeaks disclosures beyond what Assange himself had said in interviews and tweets or that I had and shared this material with anyone in the Trump campaign or anyone else is categorically false. Assange himself has said and written that I never predicted anything that he had not already stated in public.


There’s very good reason Stone would want to focus on Wikileaks rather than Guccifer.

Even by his own dodgy explanation, at the time he reached out to Guccifer, he believed that Guccifer had hacked the DNC. While it’s true that the public record shows Stone stopping short of accepting documents from Guccifer (all this ignores Stone’s reported involvement in a Guccifer-suggested Peter Smith effort to obtain Hillary’s Clinton Foundation emails), Stone’s interest in coordinating with the hack-and-leak is clear.

And it seems Sam Nunberg may fear that his past testimony and communications with Stone would document that interest. If he knows Stone did have non-public communications with Guccifer, but didn’t believe Guccifer to be Russian, it would also explain why Nunberg said he thought Putin was too smart to collude with Trump, but that his testimony might hurt Stone.

Adding one more point to this: early in the interview, Stone goes to some lengths to say that he proved he had actually separated from the Trump campaign by contemporaneously showing two reporters his resignation letter. This is akin to something Carter Page did in his HPSCI testimony. But given how many of those conspiring with Russia on the Trump campaign (Carter Page — especially after his departure, George Papadopoulos, and Paul Manafort) didn’t have formal roles, it’s not clear that letter would be definitive. Indeed, it might be the opposite, one of a group of people who arranged plausible deniability by getting or staying off the campaign payroll.

Update: Fixed my misrepresentation of Stone’s claim about the six week delay, and fact-checked it to note it was only three weeks.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/07/r ... e-denials/



HOW THE DNC HACK SKEPTICS’ DOMINANT THEORY SINKS STONE

March 12, 2018/11 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Cybersecurity, emptywheel, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

I’ve been thinking about something since I wrote this piece on Roger Stone’s Swiss cheese denials of conspiring with Guccifer 2.0 or Wikileaks on the hack-and-leak. As I laid out, Stone’s denial consists of two tactics: he admits he spoke with Guccifer 2.0 at a time he believed him to have done the hack but notes that that happened after (he claims six weeks, but it was really three) the documents already started coming out. And he denies knowing anything in advance about Wikileaks, which wouldn’t be a problem anyway, he says, because there’s no evidence Wikileaks is a Russian asset.

Effectively, that puts Stone’s involvement after the undeniably criminal act — the hack of the DNC and puts the rest into simple general foreknowledge of Wikileaks’ plan.

As I noted in my first post on Stone’s non-denials, that doesn’t address the possibility he was involved in the Peter Smith led rat-fuck negotiations with Russian hackers to find Hillary’s deleted emails.

But there’s one other problem with it.

According to the public record, Guccifer 2.0 first spoke with Stone on August 12 (though in his statement to Congress, he fudged that date interestingly and claimed the first contact — perhaps meaning DM — was August 14). While that post-dates all known hacking, it pre-dates at least one and possibly several key dates on the leak part of the operation. As Raffi Khatchadourian lays out, Wikileaks may have obtained the John Podesta emails around this time.

A pattern that was set in June appeared to recur: just before DCLeaks became active with election publications, WikiLeaks began to prepare another tranche of e-mails, this time culled from John Podesta’s Gmail account. “We are working around the clock,” Assange told Fox News in late August. “We have received quite a lot of material.” It is unclear how long Assange had been in possession of the e-mails, but a staffer assigned to the project suggested that he had received them in the late summer: “As soon as we got them, we started working on them, and then we started publishing them. From when we received them to when we published them, it was a real crunch. My only wish is that we had the equivalent from the Republicans.”

All of the raw e-mail files that WikiLeaks published from Podesta’s account are dated September 19th, which appears to indicate the day that they were copied or modified for some purpose.


Indeed, Stone’s “Podesta time in the barrel” comment, which Chuck Todd noted addressed Tony but not John Podesta, may even have preceded Wikileaks’ receipt of the emails.

But Stone’s discussions with Guccifer 2.0 undeniably precede an event that, at least according to the skeptics’ theory, necessarily precedes the publication of Podesta’s emails. That’s Craig Murray obtaining … something from someone while he was in the US for the Sam Adams Award on September 25. He has said he didn’t obtain the documents, but it might be a key or something.

That still doesn’t, by itself, make Stone’s conduct criminal. But it does mean his timeline is not exonerating.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/12/h ... nks-stone/
[/quote]

seemslikeadream » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:29 pm wrote:
POLITICSMARCH 18, 2018 / 9:41 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO

Exclusive: Sources contradict Sessions' testimony he opposed Russia outreach

Karen Freifeld, Sarah N. Lynch, Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony that he opposed a proposal for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians has been contradicted by three people who told Reuters they have spoken about the matter to investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional committees.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Sessions testified before Congress in November 2017 that he “pushed back” against the proposal made by former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a March 31, 2016 campaign meeting. Then a senator from Alabama, Sessions chaired the meeting as head of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team.

“Yes, I pushed back,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14, when asked whether he shut down Papadopoulos’ proposed outreach to Russia. Sessions has since also been interviewed by Mueller.

Three people who attended the March campaign meeting told Reuters they gave their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the accounts they provided to Reuters differed in certain respects, all threes, who declined to be identified, said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos’ idea.

However, another meeting attendee, J.D. Gordon, who was the Trump campaign’s director of national security, told media outlets including Reuters in November that Sessions strongly opposed Papadopoulos’ proposal and said no one should speak of it again. In response to a request for comment, Gordon said on Saturday that he stood by his statement.

Sessions, through Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, declined to comment beyond his prior testimony. The special counsel’s office also declined to comment. Spokeswomen for the Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee did not immediately comment.

Reuters was unable to determine whether Mueller is probing discrepancies in accounts of the March 2016 meeting.


The three accounts, which have not been reported, raise new questions about Sessions’ testimony regarding contacts with Russia during the campaign.

Sessions previously failed to disclose to Congress meetings he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and testified in October that he was not aware of any campaign representatives communicating with Russians.

Some Democrats have seized on discrepancies in Sessions’ testimony to suggest the attorney general may have committed perjury. A criminal charge would require showing Sessions intended to deceive. Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee that he had always told the truth and testified to the best of his recollection.

Legal experts expressed mixed views about the significance of the contradictions cited by the three sources.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions visits families of opioid overdose victims at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. March 15, 2018. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Sessions could argue he misremembered events or perceived his response in a different way, making any contradictions unintentional, some experts said.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said Sessions’ words might be too vague to form the basis of a perjury case because there could be different interpretations of what the term pushing back means.

“If you’re talking about false statements, prosecutors look for something that is concrete and clear,” he said.

Other legal experts said, however, that repeated misstatements by Sessions could enable prosecutors to build a perjury case against him.

“Proving there was intent to lie is a heavy burden for the prosecution. But now you have multiple places where Sessions has arguably made false statements,” said Bennett Gershman, a Pace University law professor.

The March 2016 campaign meeting in Washington was memorialized in a photo Trump posted on Instagram of roughly a dozen men sitting around a table, including Trump, Sessions and Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his Russia contacts, is now cooperating with Mueller.

According to court documents released after his guilty plea, Papadopoulos said at the campaign meeting that he had connections who could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Papadopoulos continued to pursue Russian contacts after the March 2016 meeting and communicated with some campaign officials about his efforts, according to the court documents.

Trump has said that he does not remember much of what happened at the “very unimportant” campaign meeting. Trump has said he did not meet Putin before becoming president.

Moscow has denied meddling in the election and Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russia.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... ium=Social



Trump required staff to sign nondisclosure agreements that last past his presidency: report
BY JACQUELINE THOMSEN - 03/18/18 04:29 PM EDT 161

Trump required staff to sign nondisclosure agreements that last past his presidency: report
© Getty Images
President Trump required senior White House staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements that extend past his presidency, according to a reported column in The Washington Post.

The Post’s Ruth Marcus reported on Sunday that the staffers were required to sign the agreements during the early months of Trump’s presidency, promising not to share confidential information at the risk of penalty.

One person who signed the agreement said it was similar to those signed during the campaign and transition.


“I remember the president saying, ‘Has everybody signed a confidentiality agreement like they did during the campaign or we had at Trump Tower?’” the individual told The Post.

That person also told The Post that the agreement was supposed to extend past Trump’s time in office, a move the newspaper described as “extraordinary.”

A draft of the agreement penalized staffers $10 million, to be paid to the federal government, for sharing confidential information.

That information was defined as “all nonpublic information I learn of or gain access to in the course of my official duties in the service of the United States Government on White House staff,” including “communications . . . with members of the press” and “with employees of federal, state, and local governments.”

The Post noted that the $10 million penalty was likely lowered in the final agreements, as sources did not recall the same figure.

The White House did not return The Post's multiple requests for comment.
http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... -last-past


Andrew McCabe might still be able to get his pension

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) has offered fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe a temporary job working on election security in his office “so that he can reach the needed length of service” to retire and receive his government pension, according to the Washington Post. A spokeswoman for McCabe told the Post: "We are considering all options."

Would it work? It seems so. McCabe held a law enforcement position with the federal government for more than the required 20 years, meaning that he'd only need to work until his 50th birthday to receive his full retirement benefits. And, per the Post's conversations with a former federal official, "The job doesn't matter so much as the fact that he's working within the federal government with the same retirement benefits until or after his 50th birthday."
https://www.axios.com/mccabe-mueller-tr ... daa7a.html


stillrobertpaulsen » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:47 pm wrote:
seemslikeadream » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:29 pm wrote:
POLITICSMARCH 18, 2018 / 9:41 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO

Exclusive: Sources contradict Sessions' testimony he opposed Russia outreach

Karen Freifeld, Sarah N. Lynch, Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony that he opposed a proposal for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians has been contradicted by three people who told Reuters they have spoken about the matter to investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional committees.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Sessions testified before Congress in November 2017 that he “pushed back” against the proposal made by former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a March 31, 2016 campaign meeting. Then a senator from Alabama, Sessions chaired the meeting as head of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team.

“Yes, I pushed back,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14, when asked whether he shut down Papadopoulos’ proposed outreach to Russia. Sessions has since also been interviewed by Mueller.

Three people who attended the March campaign meeting told Reuters they gave their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the accounts they provided to Reuters differed in certain respects, all threes, who declined to be identified, said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos’ idea.

However, another meeting attendee, J.D. Gordon, who was the Trump campaign’s director of national security, told media outlets including Reuters in November that Sessions strongly opposed Papadopoulos’ proposal and said no one should speak of it again. In response to a request for comment, Gordon said on Saturday that he stood by his statement.

Sessions, through Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, declined to comment beyond his prior testimony. The special counsel’s office also declined to comment. Spokeswomen for the Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee did not immediately comment.

Reuters was unable to determine whether Mueller is probing discrepancies in accounts of the March 2016 meeting.


The three accounts, which have not been reported, raise new questions about Sessions’ testimony regarding contacts with Russia during the campaign.

Sessions previously failed to disclose to Congress meetings he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and testified in October that he was not aware of any campaign representatives communicating with Russians.

Some Democrats have seized on discrepancies in Sessions’ testimony to suggest the attorney general may have committed perjury. A criminal charge would require showing Sessions intended to deceive. Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee that he had always told the truth and testified to the best of his recollection.

Legal experts expressed mixed views about the significance of the contradictions cited by the three sources.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions visits families of opioid overdose victims at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. March 15, 2018. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Sessions could argue he misremembered events or perceived his response in a different way, making any contradictions unintentional, some experts said.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said Sessions’ words might be too vague to form the basis of a perjury case because there could be different interpretations of what the term pushing back means.

“If you’re talking about false statements, prosecutors look for something that is concrete and clear,” he said.

Other legal experts said, however, that repeated misstatements by Sessions could enable prosecutors to build a perjury case against him.

“Proving there was intent to lie is a heavy burden for the prosecution. But now you have multiple places where Sessions has arguably made false statements,” said Bennett Gershman, a Pace University law professor.

The March 2016 campaign meeting in Washington was memorialized in a photo Trump posted on Instagram of roughly a dozen men sitting around a table, including Trump, Sessions and Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his Russia contacts, is now cooperating with Mueller.

According to court documents released after his guilty plea, Papadopoulos said at the campaign meeting that he had connections who could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Papadopoulos continued to pursue Russian contacts after the March 2016 meeting and communicated with some campaign officials about his efforts, according to the court documents.

Trump has said that he does not remember much of what happened at the “very unimportant” campaign meeting. Trump has said he did not meet Putin before becoming president.

Moscow has denied meddling in the election and Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russia.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... ium=Social


It seems pretty clear to me that Papadopoulos can nail Sessions on at least a perjury or obstruction charge, if not both or more. The question then is: does Mueller want to do that before sealing Trump's fate? Indicting Sessions would give Trump an opening to put in Pruitt or some other flunky specifically to fire Mueller.



stillrobertpaulsen » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:42 pm wrote:
Rory » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:45 am wrote:
stillrobertpaulsen » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:31 pm wrote: But as to Cambridge Analytica falling outside the purview of the whole narrative, I'm going to need more than just intuition. What's your evidence?



The Narrative is "Russia hacked the election, and Trump committed Treason". Let's not beat around the Dubya. Let's not pretend that interfered, or meddled, or sought to gain influence, or any other weasel worded bs holds any water on the lizard brain level we are ultimately anchored to.

CA, blows that hypothesis out of the water. Unless there's some new spin The Kremlin, sent their best data analyst, Volodya "put in the vote for Trump on Nov 8th", or that Putin called them and begged them to do a stellar job this time, because he really wants Donnie to win, there's no link that Russia = Cambridge Analytica = hacked the election = improbably got Trump over the line. A Russian national worked for them! Bfd. Mercer liked Russia that one time! Give me a break.

It's horseshit. The Russia stuff was tenuous at best - a DNC op to deflect from their staggering incompetence in the general, an ass saving effort of gross recklessness that puts us closer to war footing with an angry atomic bear. This narrative in the media was instantly hijacked by the darkest, most sinister ghouls in the War Party. The same voices being signal boosted here, every fucking day for 18 months.

The DNC hacked the primaries - there's evidence aplenty to nail these fuckers for felonies for the rest of their adult lives and what are we talking about instead - the best we got with russia is Muller indicted 13 Ivans at a clickbait farm in Petrograd? Jesus fucking christ almighty.


Rory, I'm willing to give you whatever time you need to find the necessary evidence around which to construct your argument. RI always works best when we keep our arguments issue-based. But in the meantime, I'm willing to address your conjecture and demonstrate how flimsy it is:

Rory » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:45 am wrote:The Narrative is "Russia hacked the election, and Trump committed Treason". Let's not beat around the Dubya. Let's not pretend that interfered, or meddled, or sought to gain influence, or any other weasel worded bs holds any water on the lizard brain level we are ultimately anchored to.


No, I disagree completely with how you frame the terms of The Narrative as it operates in the actual activities of the actors involved as opposed to MSM spin. Fuck MSM; 100% of our members have rejected that lens - that's one of the main reasons this board exists - so what is The Narrative in terms of what we know actually happened? To do that, you need accurate chronology. First, and I know you already know this, the investigation didn't start with "the election." So let's throw that phrase out of The Narrative; yes, we're anchored to a lizard brain, but let's take what evolution has given us and understand events beyond that base level. Second, the hacking was not the only factor to initiate the investigation.

Let me break down the chronology backwards:

(I'm including MSM links strictly to document when events occurred, not because I promote or expect anyone to buy their fucking spin!)

*The Mueller investigation, which is really the only real investigation that matters as far as criminal culpability actually being prosecuted in this very real multi-pronged scandal, only exists because Trump fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017.

*Prior to being fired, the FBI investigation into the possible criminality of links between the Trump campaign and Russia began with the revelations that George Papadopolous told top Australian diplomat Alexander Downer in May 2016 that Russia had informed the Trump campaign it had thousands of stolen emails that could damage Hillary Clinton.

To wrap it up, The Narrative as it pertains to the investigation, should be framed as questions, not answers:

Did Trump campaign links with Russia involve criminal activities?

If so, who were the campaign members and Russians involved, and what were the crimes?

Rory » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:45 am wrote:CA, blows that hypothesis out of the water. Unless there's some new spin The Kremlin, sent their best data analyst, Volodya "put in the vote for Trump on Nov 8th", or that Putin called them and begged them to do a stellar job this time, because he really wants Donnie to win, there's no link that Russia = Cambridge Analytica = hacked the election = improbably got Trump over the line. A Russian national worked for them! Bfd. Mercer liked Russia that one time! Give me a break.


Please, no. This is not only conjecture, it's riddled with the type of hyperbole I would spout after a few beers in a bar. I'll give you an example:

Yeah right, Guccifer 2.0 is Romanian! Like he only does business with his fellow citizens, there's no way he could be involved with Russians in his line of work or cover for them! Yeah, I'm so sure, just splooge in my face and tell me it's Cool Whip!

As I said before, this scandal is multi-pronged. It's possible that you are correct, even though you provided no evidence to bolster your case. But it really doesn't matter, Cambridge Analytica doesn't have to have a direct Russian link to be connected with the greater criminal investigation. But there's tangential evidence seemslikeadream posted here that indicates you might not be correct. Hopefully the investigation will sort that out.

Rory » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:45 am wrote:It's horseshit. The Russia stuff was tenuous at best - a DNC op to deflect from their staggering incompetence in the general, an ass saving effort of gross recklessness that puts us closer to war footing with an angry atomic bear.


Was Papadopoulos part of this presumed DNC op? Was Guccifer 2.0? Again, where's your evidence?

Rory » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:45 am wrote:This narrative in the media was instantly hijacked by the darkest, most sinister ghouls in the War Party. The same voices being signal boosted here, every fucking day for 18 months.


Be careful with that insinuation, Rory. There is not one solitary RI member who has advocated or encouraged war against Russia. Any MSM link posted here regarding Trump/Russia has been to provide documentation of events in real time for members to read and/or discuss. I defy you to show a post where a member supported the War Party. I'm willing to bet money that never happened.

Rory » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:45 am wrote:The DNC hacked the primaries - there's evidence aplenty to nail these fuckers for felonies for the rest of their adult lives


No disagreement there! I've covered that on my blog. Multiple threads discussed that here when it happened. But as there's no active investigation (Shame Donnie and Beauregard! Don't you care?) discussion on that topic has naturally dwindled here.

Rory » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:45 am wrote:and what are we talking about instead - the best we got with russia is Muller indicted 13 Ivans at a clickbait farm in Petrograd? Jesus fucking christ almighty.


Not necessarily the best - just the first - and hopefully not the last. But you obviously have a problem with the fact we are talking about the investigation. Usually when I have a problem with the subject matter of a thread - I don't read it. I'll only moderate it if asked. You not only read threads you don't think are worthy of discussion, you comment profusely! Quite frequently those comments have a very disruptive quality.

I mention this because I know you're capable, when you care enough about the subject, to give considerate, thought-provoking discussion that doesn't bait, that doesn't attack on a personal level. I've been on your case lately because I care about you. If you read something on RI that elicits an eye-roll in you that you feel is only worthy of sarcastic snark, I recommend leaving that thread and clicking on another more worthy of your intellect. Selfish disclosure, it would make my job a whole lot easier! Thank you.



seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:21 pm wrote:
1. UH OH
an hour ago
Report: Mueller Witness Used Trump Fundraiser to Push Saudi, UAE Interests in White House

Report: Mueller Witness Pushed Saudi, UAE Interests in WH

AARON P. BERNSTEIN/REUTERS

A Lebanese-American businessman and United Arab Emirates adviser cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller used one of President Trump’s top fundraisers to push the interests of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the White House, The New York Times reports. Previously undisclosed documents cited in the report are said to detail a year-long effort by the adviser, George Nader, to use Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy to do the bidding of the Saudi and UAE governments inside the White House. The firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was among the top priorities Nader pushed in the White House, as was the president taking a harder line on Iran and Qatar. Nader is said to have offered Broidy more than $1 billion in contracts for his security company, Circinus, at one point in their correspondence. He also reportedly offered Broidy millions of dollars worth of business deals with the UAE. Nader praised Broidy for his ability to “handle” Trump and told Broidy he’d informed the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE of the “Pivotal Indispensable Magical Role you are playing to help them,” according to the report.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/report-mu ... hite-house


Leaked documents detail close liaison between Trump and Saudi, UAE: Report


A witness in the Robert Mueller investigation of US President Donald Trump cultivated Elliot Broidy, another suspect in the investigation, to become a high-level liaison between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the White House, according to a New York Times report on Wednesday.

In leaked documents obtained by the New York Times, Nader used Broidy to argue for the ousting of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on behalf of the UAE and Saudi Arabia because of their diplomatic spat with Qatar.

The leaked documents illuminate an “effort to cultivate President Trump on behalf of the two oil-rich Arab monarchies,” the Times report said.

Nader allegedly told Broidy about “how well you handle Chairman,” the Times said, a name apparently given to Trump.

The documents also claim that Nader acted as an intermediary between Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who this week visited the White House and is currently touring the US.

The Times did not disclose where the documents came from, but said they “were provided by an anonymous group critical of Mr. Broidy’s advocacy of American foreign policies in the Middle East”.

A lawyer for Broidy said the leak came from Qatar.

“We now possess irrefutable evidence tying Qatar to this unlawful attack on, and espionage directed against, a prominent United States citizen within the territory of the United States,” said Lee S. Wolosky.

Earlier this week, Middle East Eye revealed that Nader organised a secret summit of Arab leaders on a yacht in the Red Sea in late 2015 in order to set up an elite regional group of six countries, which would supplant both the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the moribund Arab League.

The Times recently reported that Mueller’s investigators have questioned Nader and pressed witnesses about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to Trump’s presidential campaign.

On Friday, reports emerged of a slew of convictions of Nader on charges of sexually abusing underage boys and possessing child pornography. Newsweek reported that Nader had been sentenced to six months on child pornography charges in Virginia. According to federal court records seen by Newsweek, Nader was convicted of bringing child pornography into the US from Germany.
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/leake ... 2012406277


IRAN-CONTRA COVER-UP KING DOESN’T ADDRESS SESSIONS’ OTHER LIES, OR CONSPIRACY-IN-CHIEF

March 21, 2018/6 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Fresh off several witnesses revealing that Jeff Sessions wasn’t as offended by George Papadopoulos’ plan to pitch meetings with Putin as he claims he was, ABC reported that, Andrew McCabe approved an investigation into whether Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his ties with Russia.

Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBI official Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a “lack of candor,” McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.


An anonymous source tried to claim that Sessions would not have known that McCabe briefly oversaw an investigation into Sessions’ own perjury, but Sessions’ lawyer pointedly refused to confirm that.

One source told ABC News that Sessions was not aware of the investigation when he decided to fire McCabe last Friday less than 48 hours before McCabe, a former FBI deputy director, was due to retire from government and obtain a full pension, but an attorney representing Sessions declined to confirm that.


Sessions’ lawyer is Chuck Cooper. Most recently, he got famous failing spectacularly to defend Prop 8. But years and years ago, he played a key role in excusing Iran-Contra, notably by inventing the concept of pixie dusting executive orders.

Given his past as a great cover-up artist, take note of how carefully he words his more general denial.

Two months ago, Sessions was interviewed by Mueller’s team, and the federal inquiry related to his candor during his confirmation process has since been shuttered, according to a lawyer representing Sessions.

“The Special Counsel’s office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress,” attorney Chuck Cooper told ABC News on Wednesday.


The AG is not under investigation for any lies in his confirmation hearing testimony, Cooper said.

Here’s what that leaves out:

Obstruction charges for inventing the reason to fire Comey, pretending to be involved in the firing of US Attorneys including Preet Bharara, and for firing McCabe

False statements charges tied to Sessions’ later testimony before Congress

False statements charges tied to his Mueller testimony about whether he opposed the Russian outreach (we now know Mueller has gotten conflicting statements on this point)

Implication in the Russian conspiracy directly

It’s the last one that is most interesting (and where all these false statements charges are headed anyway). We now know some of the people at the March 31, 2016 meeting believe Sessions was not opposed to the Russian outreach. We know that Sessions’ close aide, Stephen Miller, was in the thick of things.

And then there’s this bizarre exchange from a November exchange with Patrick Leahy (who seems to have known that Sessions was then under investigation for lying to Congress).

Leahy asked about each item in turn.

Leahy: Let’s take this piece by piece. Did you discuss any of the following: Emails?

Sessions: Repeat the question again about emails.

Leahy: Since the 2016 campaign, have you discussed with any Russian connected official anything about emails?

Sessions: Discuss with them. I don’t recall having done any such thing.

Right after this exchange, Sessions totally balks when Leahy asks him if he has been interviewed or asked for an interview by Mueller, saying he should clear it with the Special Counsel.

Now, there was some imprecision in this questioning. It’s clear that Sessions believed he was answering the question about during the campaign, not since it.

But of the things Leahy asked about — emails, Russian interference, sanctions, or any policies or positions of the Trump campaign or presidency — Sessions ultimately not-recalled in response to just one question: the emails.

Based on the past practice Leahy had just laid out, Sessions claimed to not recall issues that he had actually done. Which would suggest Sessions is worried that there’s evidence he has discussed emails — with someone. It’s just not clear how he interpreted that question.

Sessions refused to deny he had discussed emails with a “Russian connected official” since the election.

None of these potential ties in the conspiracy are included in Cooper’s carefully worded denial (nor is Sessions’ knowing that McCabe had okayed an investigation into him for failing to meet his duty of candor, the same thing Sessions just fired McCabe for).

That speaks volumes.

In any case, it seems we’ll be hearing a lot more about Sessions’ implication in all this, in the wake of his firing of McCabe.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/21/i ... -in-chief/


seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:21 pm wrote:
1. UH OH
an hour ago
Report: Mueller Witness Used Trump Fundraiser to Push Saudi, UAE Interests in White House

Report: Mueller Witness Pushed Saudi, UAE Interests in WH

AARON P. BERNSTEIN/REUTERS

A Lebanese-American businessman and United Arab Emirates adviser cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller used one of President Trump’s top fundraisers to push the interests of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the White House, The New York Times reports. Previously undisclosed documents cited in the report are said to detail a year-long effort by the adviser, George Nader, to use Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy to do the bidding of the Saudi and UAE governments inside the White House. The firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was among the top priorities Nader pushed in the White House, as was the president taking a harder line on Iran and Qatar. Nader is said to have offered Broidy more than $1 billion in contracts for his security company, Circinus, at one point in their correspondence. He also reportedly offered Broidy millions of dollars worth of business deals with the UAE. Nader praised Broidy for his ability to “handle” Trump and told Broidy he’d informed the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE of the “Pivotal Indispensable Magical Role you are playing to help them,” according to the report.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/report-mu ... hite-house


Leaked documents detail close liaison between Trump and Saudi, UAE: Report


A witness in the Robert Mueller investigation of US President Donald Trump cultivated Elliot Broidy, another suspect in the investigation, to become a high-level liaison between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the White House, according to a New York Times report on Wednesday.

In leaked documents obtained by the New York Times, Nader used Broidy to argue for the ousting of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on behalf of the UAE and Saudi Arabia because of their diplomatic spat with Qatar.

The leaked documents illuminate an “effort to cultivate President Trump on behalf of the two oil-rich Arab monarchies,” the Times report said.

Nader allegedly told Broidy about “how well you handle Chairman,” the Times said, a name apparently given to Trump.

The documents also claim that Nader acted as an intermediary between Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who this week visited the White House and is currently touring the US.

The Times did not disclose where the documents came from, but said they “were provided by an anonymous group critical of Mr. Broidy’s advocacy of American foreign policies in the Middle East”.

A lawyer for Broidy said the leak came from Qatar.

“We now possess irrefutable evidence tying Qatar to this unlawful attack on, and espionage directed against, a prominent United States citizen within the territory of the United States,” said Lee S. Wolosky.

Earlier this week, Middle East Eye revealed that Nader organised a secret summit of Arab leaders on a yacht in the Red Sea in late 2015 in order to set up an elite regional group of six countries, which would supplant both the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the moribund Arab League.

The Times recently reported that Mueller’s investigators have questioned Nader and pressed witnesses about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to Trump’s presidential campaign.

On Friday, reports emerged of a slew of convictions of Nader on charges of sexually abusing underage boys and possessing child pornography. Newsweek reported that Nader had been sentenced to six months on child pornography charges in Virginia. According to federal court records seen by Newsweek, Nader was convicted of bringing child pornography into the US from Germany.
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/leake ... 2012406277


IRAN-CONTRA COVER-UP KING DOESN’T ADDRESS SESSIONS’ OTHER LIES, OR CONSPIRACY-IN-CHIEF

March 21, 2018/6 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Fresh off several witnesses revealing that Jeff Sessions wasn’t as offended by George Papadopoulos’ plan to pitch meetings with Putin as he claims he was, ABC reported that, Andrew McCabe approved an investigation into whether Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his ties with Russia.

Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBI official Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a “lack of candor,” McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.


An anonymous source tried to claim that Sessions would not have known that McCabe briefly oversaw an investigation into Sessions’ own perjury, but Sessions’ lawyer pointedly refused to confirm that.

One source told ABC News that Sessions was not aware of the investigation when he decided to fire McCabe last Friday less than 48 hours before McCabe, a former FBI deputy director, was due to retire from government and obtain a full pension, but an attorney representing Sessions declined to confirm that.


Sessions’ lawyer is Chuck Cooper. Most recently, he got famous failing spectacularly to defend Prop 8. But years and years ago, he played a key role in excusing Iran-Contra, notably by inventing the concept of pixie dusting executive orders.

Given his past as a great cover-up artist, take note of how carefully he words his more general denial.

Two months ago, Sessions was interviewed by Mueller’s team, and the federal inquiry related to his candor during his confirmation process has since been shuttered, according to a lawyer representing Sessions.

“The Special Counsel’s office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress,” attorney Chuck Cooper told ABC News on Wednesday.


The AG is not under investigation for any lies in his confirmation hearing testimony, Cooper said.

Here’s what that leaves out:

Obstruction charges for inventing the reason to fire Comey, pretending to be involved in the firing of US Attorneys including Preet Bharara, and for firing McCabe

False statements charges tied to Sessions’ later testimony before Congress

False statements charges tied to his Mueller testimony about whether he opposed the Russian outreach (we now know Mueller has gotten conflicting statements on this point)

Implication in the Russian conspiracy directly

It’s the last one that is most interesting (and where all these false statements charges are headed anyway). We now know some of the people at the March 31, 2016 meeting believe Sessions was not opposed to the Russian outreach. We know that Sessions’ close aide, Stephen Miller, was in the thick of things.

And then there’s this bizarre exchange from a November exchange with Patrick Leahy (who seems to have known that Sessions was then under investigation for lying to Congress).

Leahy asked about each item in turn.

Leahy: Let’s take this piece by piece. Did you discuss any of the following: Emails?

Sessions: Repeat the question again about emails.

Leahy: Since the 2016 campaign, have you discussed with any Russian connected official anything about emails?

Sessions: Discuss with them. I don’t recall having done any such thing.

Right after this exchange, Sessions totally balks when Leahy asks him if he has been interviewed or asked for an interview by Mueller, saying he should clear it with the Special Counsel.

Now, there was some imprecision in this questioning. It’s clear that Sessions believed he was answering the question about during the campaign, not since it.

But of the things Leahy asked about — emails, Russian interference, sanctions, or any policies or positions of the Trump campaign or presidency — Sessions ultimately not-recalled in response to just one question: the emails.

Based on the past practice Leahy had just laid out, Sessions claimed to not recall issues that he had actually done. Which would suggest Sessions is worried that there’s evidence he has discussed emails — with someone. It’s just not clear how he interpreted that question.

Sessions refused to deny he had discussed emails with a “Russian connected official” since the election.

None of these potential ties in the conspiracy are included in Cooper’s carefully worded denial (nor is Sessions’ knowing that McCabe had okayed an investigation into him for failing to meet his duty of candor, the same thing Sessions just fired McCabe for).

That speaks volumes.

In any case, it seems we’ll be hearing a lot more about Sessions’ implication in all this, in the wake of his firing of McCabe.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/21/i ... -in-chief/


seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:52 am wrote:What Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Joseph Misfud, George Nader, the Saudis, Russians, and Emirates have in common.

THE VERY GLOBALIZED FORCES MANIPULATING THE ANTI-GLOBALIST PRESIDENT

March 22, 2018/2 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Financial Fraud, Mueller Probe, Neoliberalism /by empty wheel

I want to consider three stories related to the conspiracies that got Trump elected and have influenced his policy decisions.

CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA AND FACEBOOK PRIVATIZES INTELLIGENCE SOURCES AND METHODS BEHIND “DEMOCRATIC” ELECTIONS

First, there’s the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Here are some of the most scandalous tidbits:

Likelihood Facebook failed to abide by a 2011 FTC consent decree and certainty that Cambridge Analytica and Facebook failed to abide by British and EU privacy law, respectively. While Facebook and other big tech companies have sometimes publicly bowed to the onerous restrictions of more repressive regimes and have secretly bowed to the invasive demands of American spies, the public efforts to rein in big tech have had limited success in Europe and virtually none in the US.

In the US in particular, weak government agencies have done little more than ask consumers to trust big tech.

As privacy advocates have long argued, big tech can’t be trusted. Nor can big tech regulate itself.

Cambridge Analytica used legally suspect means — the same kind of illegal means intelligence agencies employ — to help its customers. Channel 4 reported that Cambridge Analytica at least promised they could set honey traps and other means to compromise politicians. The Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica acted as a cut-out to share hacked emails in Nigerian and a Nevis/St. Kitts elections. Thus far, the most problematic claim made about Cambridge Analytica’s activities in the US are the aforementioned illegal use of data shared for research purposes, visa fraud to allow foreign (British) citizens to work on US elections, and possibly the illegal coordination between Rebekah Mercer’s PAC with the campaign.

Internet Research Agency used the same kind of methods advertising and marketing firms use, but to create grassroots. The IRA indictment laid out how a private company in Russia used Facebook (and other tech giants’) networking and advertising services to create fake grassroots enthusiasm here in the US.

All of these means undermine the democratic process. They’re all means nation-state intelligence services use. By privatizing them, such services became available to foreign agents and oligarchical interests more easily, with easy ways (many, but not all, broadly acceptable corporate accounting methods) to hide the financial trail.

RUSSIA BUYS THE NETWORK BEHIND JOSEPH MIFSUD

Then there’s the Beeb piece advancing the story of Joseph Mifsud (ignore the repetitive annoying music and John Schindler presence). It provides details on the role played by German born Swiss financier and lawyer Stephan Roh. Roh has three ties to Mifsud. In 2014, Roe started lecturing at the London Academy of Diplomacy where Misfud worked. In the same year, he bought the Roman institution Misfud helped manage. And then, in 2016, when George Papadopoulos was being targeted, Roh was on a panel with Papadopoulos’ two handlers.

That same month, Mifsud was in Moscow on a panel run by the Kremlin-backed Valdai Club with Timofeev and the third man, Dr Stephan Roh, a German multi-millionaire.

Mifsud and Roh interlock: in 2014, Roh became a visiting lecturer at the London Academy of Diplomacy. Roh bought Link Campus University, a private institution in Rome where Mifsud was part of the management and Mifsud became a consultant at Roh’s legal firm.

The Beeb piece goes on to describe how Roh bought a British nuclear consultancy too. When the British scientist behind it balked at cozying up to Russia, he was fired, but it appears to still be used as a cut-out.

Again, none of this is new: Russia just spent a lot of money to set up some fronts. The amount of money floating around and the ability to buy into a title by buying an old castle do make it easier, however.

GEORGE NADER PURCHASES US FOREIGN POLICY FOR THE SAUDIS AND EMIRATES

Then there’s NYT’s confirmation of something that was obvious from the first reports that the FBI whisked George Nader away from Dulles Airport before he could meet Donald Trump at Mar a Lago earlier this year. Nader got an immunity deal and has been cooperating with Mueller’s team to describe how he brokered US foreign policy decisions (most notably, and anti-Qatari stance). He did so by cultivating GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, turning him into both an asset and front for foreign influence. Those activities included:

Securing hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts for Broidy’s private security firm, Circinus, with the Saudis and Emirates, and offering several times more.
Working with Broidy to scuttle the nomination of Anne Patterson to DOD and to orchestrate the firing, last week, of Rex Tillerson, in both cases because they were deemed too supportive of diplomacy towards Iran.
Offering financial support for a $12.7 million Washington lobbying and public relations campaign, drafted by a third party, targeting both Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Paying Broidy $2.7 million to fund conferences at both Hudson Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies attacking Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood; Broidy provided a necessary American cut-out for the two think tanks because their fundraising rules prohibit donations from undemocratic regimes or foreign countries, respectively. The payment was laundered through an “Emirati-based company [Nader] controlled, GS Investments, to an obscure firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, controlled by Mr. Broidy, Xieman International.”
Unsuccessfully pitching a private meeting, away from the White House, between Trump and Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
Obtaining a picture of Nader with Trump, effectively showing the president in the company of a foreign agent and convicted pedophile.
Effectively, Nader provides Mueller what Mueller has been getting from Rick Gates: details of how a foreign country purchased American policy support via cutouts in our easily manipulated campaign finance system.

Nader brings two more elements of what I pointed to last May: what is ultimately a Jared Kushner backed “peace” “plan” that is instead the money laundered wish of a bunch of foreign interests. While we’ve seen the Russian, Saudi, and Emirate money behind this plan, we’re still missing full details on how Mueller is obtaining the Israeli side, though I’m sure he’s getting that too.

Note, Broidy has claimed the details behind his work with Nader were hacked by Qatari hackers. That may be the case; there have also been a slew of presumably hacked documents from Emirates Ambassador to the US, Yousef al Otaiba, floating around. So while this is important reporting, it relies on the same kind of illicitly obtained intelligence that was used against Hillary in 2016.

Importantly, the Nader story generalizes this. Nader has worked with both the Clinton and the Dick Cheney Administrations, and the laundering of foreign funds to US think tanks has long been tolerated (in some cases, such as Brookings, the think tank doesn’t even bother with the money laundering and accepts the foreign money directly). Democrats are not immune from this kind of influence peddling, in the least. It’s just that Trump, because of his greater narcissism, his ignorance of real foreign policy doctrine, and his debt and multinational business make Trump far more vulnerable to such cultivation. Given Cheney’s ties to Halliburton and the Clinton Foundation, it’s a matter of degree and competence, not principle.

GLOBALISM IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR FIGHTING OVER WHICH OLIGARCHS WILL BENEFIT FROM GLOBALIZATION

Which brings us to Trump’s claim (orchestrated by Steven Bannon, paid for by the Mercers) to oppose “globalists,” a racialized term to demonize the downsides of globalization without actually addressing the forces of globalization in an effective way. Little Trump is doing (up to and including the trade war with China he’s rolling out today) will help the white people who made him president (the demonization of immigrants will have benefits and drawbacks).

What it will do is foster greater authoritarianism in this country, making it easier both to make Trump’s white voters less secure even while channeling the resultant anger by making racism even more of an official policy.

And it will also shift somewhat which oligarchs — both traditionally well-loved ones, like the Sauds, and adversaries, like the Russians — will benefit as a result.

Importantly, it is being accomplished using the tools of globalization, from poorly overseen global tech companies, easily manipulated global finance system, and a global network of influence peddling that can also easily be bought and paid for.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/22/t ... president/



note Mifsud's name down below in sig line :)


seemslikeadream » Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:41 pm wrote:
How A Putin Ally Met Key Trump Officials And Worried European Intelligence

European counterintelligence officers say Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos's meetings with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos before and after the election should alarm US investigators. And Papadopoulos isn't the only official he managed meetings with.

March 26, 2018, at 2:01 p.m.

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George Papadopoulos (third from left) and Panos Kammenos (fourth from left) at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC, on the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration.
Dimitrios Panagos / GOA
George Papadopoulos (third from left) and Panos Kammenos (fourth from left) at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC, on the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration.

When Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, attention fell on his meetings with a mysterious Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, who, according to court documents, told Papadopoulos that the Russians had thousands of Hillary Clinton emails — nearly two months before the Democrats themselves knew that their computers had been hacked.

But European security officials say another set of meetings Papadopoulos held in Europe in the months before and after the 2016 election should alarm US investigators. That’s because the person with whom he met, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, is known to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin — a relationship that goes beyond Greece’s traditional ties to Russia through the Eastern Orthodox Church and a growing relationship brought on by Greece’s economic collapse.

“Like much of the Greek economic and security establishment, the Ministry of Defense is considered compromised by Russian intelligence,” said one NATO military intelligence officer, who like the others in this story declined to be identified by name because of the sensitivity of his work. “Specifically, we have been officially warned against briefing Greek ministry representatives about sensitive intelligence operations involving the Russians” because of concerns about his apparent links to their intelligence services.

What Papadopoulos and the Greek defense minister discussed during their meetings is unknown. The Greek Defense Ministry did not respond to requests for comment, and Papadopoulos declined to comment, referring questions to his attorneys, who said they could not discuss Papadopoulos’s interactions with Kammenos or his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller.

But the concerns of the European security officers are a reminder that the US government’s interest in contacts between Trump campaign aides and Russia began as a counterintelligence probe, with Obama-era CIA director John Brennan stressing that such contacts might have been unwitting. The Russians “try to get individuals, including US persons, to act on their behalf, either wittingly or unwittingly,” Brennan told Congress last May in testimony explaining how the counterintelligence investigation began.
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Greek Defense Ministry
Kammenos meeting with Priebus and Bannon (left), and posing for a portrait with Priebus (right) at the Hay Adams Hotel in Washington, DC, on Jan. 21, 2017.

Papadopoulos also was not the only Trump-connected figure who met Kammenos. Over the weekend of Trump’s inauguration, Kammenos was photographed at social events talking with incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus and Trump political adviser Steve Bannon. That was in contrast to Kammenos’s visit to Washington in 2015, when President Barack Obama’s secretary of defense, Ash Carter, canceled an already scheduled meeting with him. Photographs showing Priebus and Bannon with Kammenos were distributed by the Greek Defense Ministry.

How substantive those encounters — widely reported in Greece at the time — were is unclear. The Greek Defense Ministry portrayed them as private meetings where Kammenos discussed Greek foreign policy goals, and photos of Kammenos and Priebus, shot on Jan. 19 and Jan. 21, 2017, appear to show the two in intense conversation. Priebus declined to comment.

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Dimitrios Panagos / GOA / Via Hellas Journal, Greek Defense Ministry / Via Hellas Journal
Kammenos and Priebus at the St. Regis Hotel on Jan. 19, 2017, (left), and at the Hay Adams Hotel on Jan. 21, 2017.

But Bannon possibly knew who Kammenos was when he encountered him on Jan. 21. A month earlier, Papadopoulos had sent emails to Bannon and Michael Flynn, Trump’s designated national security adviser, describing his contacts with Kammenos, according to a report in the Washington Post. Those emails were sent in the same month Kammenos and Papadopoulos dined together at a restaurant in Piraeus, a port city outside Athens.

According to the Post, Papadopoulos’s email said Greece wanted “to sign a government-to-government agreement with the USA for all rights to all energy fields offshore, strategic foothold in the Mediterranean and Balkans.” Bannon forwarded the email to Flynn and Flynn’s deputy, K.T. McFarland. Later that month, the Post reported, Flynn emailed Papadopoulos, urging him to “stay in touch, and, at some point, we should get together.”

Greek political observers say it’s no surprise that Papadopoulos, a Greek-American whose parents are from Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, would be greeted warmly once word was out in March 2016 that he was a foreign policy adviser to a US presidential candidate.

By the time he met with a Greek journalist on May 27, 2016, the 10th day of a visit to Greece that Papadopoulos documented on social media, Papadopoulos had already met with Kammenos, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, the journalist, Marianna Kakaounaki of Kathimerini, a newspaper in Athens, told BuzzFeed News. By May 31, Papadopoulos was posting photos of the meetings to social media.
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The Greek Defense Ministry site touted Kammenos's meetings with Priebus and Papadopoulos at Trump's inauguration.
Screenshot from mod.mil.gr
The Greek Defense Ministry site touted Kammenos's meetings with Priebus and Papadopoulos at Trump's inauguration.
“The president of Greece is a mostly ceremonial position, and it’s not much for a prominent Greek-American to get a meeting,” according to one Greek government official who asked not to be identified discussing internal political issues.

But Papadopoulos’s meeting with Kammenos was more of an oddity, the official said. “To a Greek, Papadopoulos meeting with Kammenos is a bit of an eyeroll because he’s seen as a bit of a clownish figure with close ties to the Russians,” the official said of the defense minister.

To EU security officials, it was alarming. At a minimum, they said, it showed the Trump campaign was naive in allowing a representative to meet with him.

“Trump has called him a ‘coffee boy’ or something like it but that doesn’t matter,” said a Central European counterintelligence official, speaking of Papadopoulos.

Then he explained why: “Either they knew officials were meeting with a [Ministry of Defense] in Athens that has a big black mark next to it due to Russian infiltration, or they didn’t know what meetings were being taken.”
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Papadopoulos and Greek President Pavopoulos
GDP
Papadopoulos and Greek President Pavopoulos

And Papadopoulos’s contacts with Kammenos didn’t end with Trump’s election. Papadopoulos met again with Kammenos in December, an encounter that was documented in a photo posted on social media.
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The two were also together on Jan. 19, 2017 — the day before Trump’s inauguration — at a reception at Washington’s St. Regis Hotel after a ceremony where the highest-ranking Greek Orthodox Church cleric, Archbishop Demetrios of America, presented the church’s Medal of St. Paul to incoming chief of staff Priebus, longtime Trump aide and incoming White House scheduling and advance director George Gigicos, and Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis, all prominent Greek-Americans.

A video posted by a Greek journalist at the event, which was hosted by the Hellenic Initiative, a Greek nonprofit, shows Kammenos, the highest-ranking Greek official in Washington for the inauguration, congratulating and embracing Priebus. He also presented Priebus with a gift plaque.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-b3pQUqp-s

Two days later, Priebus and Kammenos were photographed together on the roof of the Hay–Adams Hotel near the White House. The photo was posted on the Greek Defense Ministry website and widely shared in Greek media reports, which cited a private meeting in which Kammenos briefed Priebus on Greek policy issues.

The event where the two met was a reception held to celebrate Priebus’s wife’s baptism in the Greek Orthodox Church, according to Stavros Papagermanos, a press officer for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, was also photographed at the reception with Kammenos.
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Kammenos and Russian President Vladimir Putin during an arrival ceremony at the Athens Airport.
Alexei Druzhinin / TASS
Kammenos and Russian President Vladimir Putin during an arrival ceremony at the Athens Airport.

Kammenos has never been shy about his affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin, often bragging to associates and even the public of his close connections to Putin.

When Putin visited Athens in May 2016, at the same time Papadopoulos was there, Kammenos greeted him at the airport in Russian. “He would have been a very friendly face to the Russians,” said a Greek opposition member of parliament, who like all Greek officials interviewed for this story requested anonymity when talking about domestic politics.

Since he became defense minister in 2015, Kammenos has promoted closer military ties with Russia. He announced a program in June 2016 to begin production in Greece of Kalashnikov-style weapons under license from Russia. He has also repeatedly criticized European Union and US sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea and intervention in Eastern Ukraine.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LoB9Nix-pA

“Greece is a member of NATO and the EU, and my message to these organizations is that we need to work together with Russia and do everything possible to lift the embargo, which has been a disaster both for Russia and the EU. Greece is prepared to act as a go-between to make this happen,” Kammenos said of the sanctions to Sputnik News, a state-owned Russian news agency, on April 17, 2015.

But what worries European counterintelligence officers more than Kammenos’s public positions are the close ties between Kammenos’s think tank, the Institute of Geopolitical Studies, and the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a Moscow think tank managed by Russia’s foreign intelligence services.

The two think tanks have an open partnership that was outlined in an agreement signed in late 2014. The Moscow Times newspaper described the RISS — which was operated by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service until 2009, when it was brought under the control of the president’s office — as a landing spot for retiring Putin loyalists from the intelligence services in April 2017.

“It’s hard to find a straighter line between Kammenos and Russian intelligence than this arrangement,” said a NATO military intelligence official.
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A former British intelligence officer, who asked not to be identified because he still works under contract for his government, said RISS does little to hide its close ties to the Russian intelligence, political, or defense establishments and is widely considered to be a proxy for them.

“It’s sort of like a less intellectually independent version of the Rand Corporation in the US or maybe Janes here in the UK,” the former officer said. “But instead of using the experience of former intelligence analysts to support internal debate on policy, they offer heavily politicized reports and valuable cover stories for off-the-books operations.”

Western intelligence services consider Kammenos’s arrangement with RISS compromising, he said.

“The official assessment that Kammenos and other prominent Greek officials are compromised by Russia didn’t come from these relationships, that came from very specific intelligence I cannot get into,” he said. “But they do show a willingness to openly work together. It’s pretty brazen for what should be a subtle intelligence operation to wield influence.”

By the time Papadopoulos arrived in Athens on May 17, 2016, he had already heard that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to court documents filed in Washington in connection with his guilty plea to charges that he lied to the FBI.

In those documents, Papadopoulos said Mifsud told him that in April 2016 and that Mifsud said he'd learned it while he was in Moscow. Papadopoulos would later pass that information to an Australian diplomat in London, who in turn passed it to his government, which alerted the US government in July after WikiLeaks began publishing hacked Democratic Party emails. The FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016. Papadopoulos has been cooperating in the Mueller probe since his arrest July 27, 2017.

But the meetings with Mifsud, who has since dropped from sight, and the subsequent attention Papadopoulos received from Kammenos are indications, according to three active-duty intelligence or police officials from NATO countries, that Papadopoulos was likely being assessed as a possible asset for Russian intelligence.

The Central European counterintelligence agent said Papadopoulos's interactions with Mifsud raise that possibility, noting that Mifsud not only told the young Trump adviser about Russia having stolen emails but also introduced him to a mysterious Russian woman, who Papadopoulos said he thought — wrongly, as it turned out — was Putin’s niece, and later to Ivan Timofeev of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank then–Russian president Dmitry Medvedev created by decree in 2010.

“So he’s identified as a potential asset because of his ambition and proximity to the Trump campaign by the professor, who then brings in a Russian associate likely from the intelligence services herself and eventually George gets handed off to a mysterious individual in Moscow who claims to be working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said the Central European counterintelligence agent, describing how counterintelligence officials would likely interpret these actions.

“These relationships would be a huge red flag to my service,” he added. “We’d open an aggressive investigation off these data points alone.”

When Trump won the 2016 election, Kammenos was quick to tweet his congratulations and to point out, in Greek, that “Important now is the position of Greek-American George Papadopoulos for Greece.”

Συγχαρητήρια στον νέο πρόεδρο Τραμπ σημαντική η θέση πλέον του Ελληνοαμερικανού Γιώργου Παπαδόπουλου για την Ελλάδα

07:44 AM - 09 Nov 2016
Papadopoulos, however, did not land a position in the Trump administration and was being questioned by the FBI just seven days after Trump’s inauguration.

Since Trump’s inauguration, Kammenos has made just one trip to the United States, meeting with Secretary of Defense James Mattis on March 24, 2017, at the Pentagon. The topics the two men discussed were to be expected of two NATO military commanders, according to the Pentagon’s statement: “Mediterranean migration; terrorism; and instability in the Balkans, Northern Africa, and the Middle East.”

There was no mention of Russia or NATO’s position on Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, which was a flashpoint when Kammenos visited Washington in 2015. Then–defense secretary Carter and his deputy Robert Work both canceled meetings with Kammenos, citing a scheduling conflict. Greek media tied the snub to Kammenos’s very public support of a military-to-military relationship between his country and Russia.

Instead, Kammenos was offered a meeting with then–undersecretary of defense for policy Christine Wormuth. Having hoped for a meeting and a photo op with Carter himself, Greek defense officials seemed insulted but agreed, according to a former Pentagon official who said that the sit-down soon became a testy back-and-forth.

During their meeting, Wormuth tried to convince Kammenos to back another round of sanctions on Russia, and he refused, calling Russia "an ally and friend, with whom we are related to with indissoluble bonds," according to the Greek Defense Ministry.

"I was asked to support the prolongation of the sanctions, particularly in connection with Crimea. I explained the Ukrainian issue was very sensitive for Greece, as some 300,000 Greeks live in Mariupol and its neighborhood, and they feel safe next to the Orthodox Church," he told Greek journalists afterward, according to a transcript on the Greek Defense Ministry’s website.

Before Wormuth’s meeting with Kammenos she would have been provided with a biography from the intelligence community that would have noted his involvement with Russia, according to an official with knowledge of the matter. The desk officer who prepared the materials would have been very aware of Kammenos’s ties to Russia, the official said.

Donald Trump posted this photo to his Instagram account. George Papadopoulos is third from the left.
Instagram / Reuters
Donald Trump posted this photo to his Instagram account. George Papadopoulos is third from the left.

Papadopoulos’s importance to the Trump campaign remains disputed.

Early in February, Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with Fox News that Trump had never met Papadopoulos, an assertion seemingly refuted by a Trump post on his Instagram account showing Papadopoulos seated at a table, with Trump at its head. Also in the photo are then-senator Jeff Sessions, now Trump’s attorney general, and J.D. Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesperson who would be the Trump campaign’s point person on foreign policy platform issues at the Republican National Convention three months later.

That same day, Trump described Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy” when he unveiled his foreign policy team to the editorial board of the Washington Post.

Greek journalists who interacted with Papadopoulos during his visits to Greece in the months after that photo was posted say he told them that Trump personally phoned to ask him to join the campaign.

“He told me that Trump had called him for about five minutes in a casual conversation when he asked him to join the campaign and that on March 21 they’d met at the unfinished [Trump] hotel in Washington, DC,” said Kakaounaki, who covered Papadopoulos’s visits to Greece for Kathimerini, the Athens newspaper.

It is unclear who made up the guest list for the pre-inauguration reception at the St. Regis Hotel where Kammenos, Papadopoulos, and Priebus were photographed. Trump adviser Anthony Sacramucci, who at the time was expected to be named to lead the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs, was also photographed at the reception. He said he’d been invited in an email that he is “pretty sure” went to “all assistants to the president.” He said he doesn’t remember who sent the email.
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Trump campaign adviser Anthony Scaramucci was photographed at the St. Regis Hotel Jan. 19, 2017. Papadopoulos and Kammenos were photographed at the same reception.
Dimitrios Panagos / GOA
Trump campaign adviser Anthony Scaramucci was photographed at the St. Regis Hotel Jan. 19, 2017. Papadopoulos and Kammenos were photographed at the same reception.

The NATO security officer was not surprised that Kammenos and Trump administration officials would be brought together by something as innocent as a church event.

“NATO of course was largely formed to protect Democratic Europe from the Soviet Union,” the official added. “But over the last decade we have seen a number of new NATO and, in the case of Greece, first-generation NATO countries become at least partially compromised by a newly active and focused Russian intelligence community that uses the lure of money and political support for right-wing nationalist causes. And with the Greeks, as with the Serbs, Bulgarians, and others, we have found the Orthodox church and its associated charitable associations provide ample opportunities for contact with the Russian government.”
https://www.buzzfeed.com/mitchprothero/ ... mwWBp9pkmN
The real question isn't whether Trump Sr or Trump Jr dictated statement abt June 9 meeting. It's whether Putin did.

Whatever Putin has over Trump, Trump appears more afraid of Putin than he is of Mueller.


-- empty wheel
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Re: George Papadopoulos

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:16 am

seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:16 am wrote:“A Target, Not a Witness”: Will Trump’s Legal B-Team Collapse Before Mueller?

trump is a target

It's possible Mueller intervened to stop Trump from doing something profoundly harmful to his self-interest — which would suggest Mueller views Trump as "a target, not a witness"

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Mueller to Trump: "Sir, you have a right to an attorney. You can't hire people with ties to someone who thinks you obstructed justice. Do you need help finding an attorney."



trump can not find a lawyer to represent him..
:P

Another prominent lawyer, Dan Webb, declines offer to represent Trump in Mueller's Russia investigation "due to conflicts." Webb is the lawyer of DIMITRYO FIRTASH, top-tier comrade of Russian mafia boss Semyon Mogilevich. That's some conflict.
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https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... 5cc18c12de


On-again, off-again extradition of Ukranian oligarch on again — maybe

Kim Janssen
The on-again, off-again saga of billionaire Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash’s extradition to Chicago is back on again — maybe.

Firtash, who has past ties to President Donald Trump’s indicted former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, has been wanted in Chicago since 2014 for his alleged role as the mastermind of an international titanium racket.

He’s been stuck fighting extradition from Austria for three years and has assembled a team of legal all-stars, including former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, former Bill Clinton White House attorney Lanny Davis and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to help keep him out of a Chicago courtroom.

Webb on Friday wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer to warn her that Firtash’s extradition may once again be imminent. A ruling in an Austrian court case now expected Tuesday could quickly lead to Firtash’s extradition “sooner than was predicted” previously, warned Webb, who wants Pallmeyer to toss out the case before Firtash can be put on a plane bound for O’Hare International Airport.

Webb has previously issued various warnings about the waxing and waning prospects of his client.

The case initially attracted international interest because of Firtash’s ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It has since taken on increased significance because of Manafort’s October indictment on charges of failing to register as an agent of former pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a close ally of both Firtash and of Putin, and of laundering payments from Ukraine to evade taxes.

Though Manafort’s known direct ties to Firtash are limited to discussions over an abandoned New York real estate deal in 2008, Chicago feds recently revealed the titillating detail that they have “thousands of intercepts” of Firtash and his alleged co-conspirators in the titanium scheme.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chic ... story.html


The Allegedly Murderous Oligarch, the Duped CIA Chief, and the Trumpkin

Who was behind a mysterious fake hearing in the basement of the U.S. Capitol?

On Sept. 25, 2017, a windowless room in the basement of the Capitol Building became the site of one of Washington’s more mysterious recent events.

On hand: an investor who was once unsuccessfully sued for allegedly helping murder his own boss, a former congressman from the Florida panhandle, and a former Trump campaign staffer. One of two Ukrainian media outlets to cover the event is owned by an old associate of Paul Manafort’s—a man who federal prosecutors allege to be an “upper-echelon associate of Russian organized crime.”

Oh, and the former director of the CIA was involved.

The former CIA director told The Daily Beast he wouldn’t have gotten involved if he had known what was going on. One of the American lobbyists said the event was used for propaganda. The guy who got sued over his boss’s death? He now takes credit for the whole shebang.

This story starts in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 19, 2014. That’s when a woman named Valeriya Gontareva became the chair of the country’s powerful central bank. Ukrainian politics is rife with corruption, especially by American standards, and is dominated by the country’s powerful oligarchs. As chair of the national bank, Gontareva made a host of changes to the country’s financial system—and some powerful enemies.

One of the biggest changes she oversaw was a government takeover of the country’s biggest commercial bank, Privatbank. The oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky (who The Wall Street Journal once described as “feisty”) co-founded it. When Gontareva presided over the bank’s nationalization, its accounts were missing more than $5 billion, according to the Financial Times, in large part because the bank lent so much money to people with connections to Kolomoisky.

“International financial institutions applauded the state takeover,” wrote FT. “It has been widely seen as the culmination of Ukraine’s efforts since 2014 to clean up a dysfunctional banking sector dominated by oligarch-owned banks.”

The bank’s founders weren’t pleased.

After the bank takeover, Gontareva received numerous threats. One protester put a coffin outside her door, according to Reuters. On April 10, 2017, she announced at a press conference that she was resigning from her post. She touted her accomplishments at the event, but cautioned that in her absence the country’s financial sector could fake greater troubles.

“I believe that resistance to changes and reforms will grow stronger now,” she said.

Five months later, in Washington D.C., something odd happened: American lobbyists hosted an event, ostensibly on anti-corruption issues, in the basement of the Capitol Building. The event vilified Gontareva. Organizers distributed literature featuring a grim close-up of her face, calling her a threat to Ukraine’s economic security, and asking if she was “CINDERELLA OR WICKED STEPMOTHER?”

Serhiy Taruta, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, is named as the author of the report. In 2008, Forbes estimated his net worth at $2.7 billion. According to a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, American government officials believed Taruta played a role in the sale of a majority stake in the sale of one of Ukraine’s largest steel groups—valued at $2 billion—to a powerful Russian businessman. Taruta was a close ally of politician Yulia Tymoshenko at the time, and the cable said she and Taruta wanted to keep the deal “hidden from public view” to avoid criticism. Had the nature of the deal been made public, the cable said, Tymoshenko could have faced “increased attacks from political rivals for ‘selling out’ Ukrainian assets to Russian interests, perhaps to finance her presidential campaign.”

The event’s organizers are adamant that they did not plan for it to look like a fake congressional hearing. But Ukrainian reporters who attended the event covered it that way. Former Rep. Connie Mack, one of the American lobbyists who organized the event, sported the pin that members of Congress wear. James Woolsey, former CIA director, attended and spoke briefly to the group.

Woolsey’s spokesperson, Jonathan Franks, later said he was duped.

“Ambassador Woolsey was deliberately misled about the nature of this event when he agreed to attend,” Franks told The Daily Beast. “He expected to be a member of the audience for a serious discussion of issues facing the Ukraine, an area he’s been interested in for decades. He didn’t agree to be identified a ‘special guest’ nor did he agree to speak. Perhaps he was guilty of being old fashioned, but it never occurred to him the organizers would lure him to an event in the Capitol in order to make him an involuntary participant in a sham.”

Rep. Ron Estes, a freshman from Kansas, booked the room for Mack and Co. His office later told The Daily Beast this won’t happen again.

Mack and Matt Keelen, a lobbyist whose firm’s website boasts of his “well fostered relationships” in the Trump administration, both disclosed in federal registration forms that they put on the event for a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands called Interconnection Commerce SA.

“I never portrayed this as a hearing,” Mack told The Daily Beast. “We didn’t do anything to make it look like a hearing. It was in a very stale room in the basement, no markings of a congressional hearing at all.”

At the event, Mack used the term “we” when referring to Congress, and was emphatic that members should investigate Gontareva.

“One thing is clear: that we, the Congress of the United States—and there are taxpayer dollars at risk, and there are allegations, suggestions, and evidence—should investigate,” he said, according to an audio recording of the event.

Mack blamed BGR Group, a lobbying firm that works for Ukraine’s current president, Petro Poroshenko, for pushing the narrative that he and Keelen put on a fake hearing.

Two Ukrainian news outlets covered the event. One of those outlets, ChannelOne, described it as a hearing of the nonexistent “U.S. Congressional Committee on Financial Issues.”

“That was pure propaganda on their part,” Mack said. “Whoever those news outlets are, it really is fake news. They had to go a long way to try to make it look like a hearing.”

The other Ukrainian news outlet that covered the event was UkraNews, which—according to the Objective Project, which monitors media ownership in Ukraine—belongs to Dmitry Firtash.

That name should ring a bell, if you’ve been following the far-flung drama into foreign influence on the 2016 election. Federal prosecutors in Chicago are seeking Firtash’s extradition to the United States to put him on trial for racketeering. Manafort, former Manafort deputy Rick Gates, and Firtash worked on a deal in 2008 to buy New York’s Drake Hotel—for a cool $850 million—but the deal fell through.

Lanny Davis—a former special counsel in Bill Clinton’s White House who today represents Firtash—said his client had nothing to do with the hearing.

“Mr. Firtash had and has no knowledge of, no position on, and no involvement whatsoever in the congressional briefing that occurred and takes no position and has no interest in the issues discussed,” Davis said.

So who dreamed up this fake hearing? And who paid for it? For months, the backer of this so-called sham was a mystery. But when The Daily Beast started asking who paid for the event, a little-known figure came forward to take full responsibility: Anatoly Motkin, a one-time aide to a Georgian oligarch accused of leading a coup attempt.

A spokesperson for Motkin, formerly an associate to the now-deceased Badri Patarkatsishvili, told The Daily Beast that he paid for the entire event. Alison Patch, a spokesperson for Motkin, said Motkin paid for the event himself in his personal capacity.

Motkin was an aide to Patarkatsishvili when he reportedly tried to foment a coup in Georgia. After Patarkatsishvili died, Motkin found himself embroiled in a legal battle with Patarkatsishvili’s cousin. The cousin alleged in documents filed as part of a civil suit in New York state court that Motkin was part of a plot to kill Patarkatsishvili (PDF).

A spokesperson for Motkin said he decided to fund the event because Taruta, the Ukrainian billionaire, brought the allegations about Gontareva to his attention.

“Although this report was entirely brought by Mr. Taruta’s initiative, for many years Mr. Motkin has worked on promoting democratic values amongst communities close to the former Soviet Union,” said Patch. “Knowing of his interest in supporting anti-corruption efforts, Mr. Taruta shared the information about his report. Mr. Motkin found the evidence presented compelling and decided that if he could help get the issues in front of people who may make a difference, he would.”

Anders Aslund of the Atlantic Council, an expert on oligarchs’ politicking, didn’t quite believe it. Aslund said he believes the driving force behind the event was Ihor Kolomoisky—the Ukrainian oligarch whose cronies lost all that money when Privatbank was nationalized. Kolomisky would have millions of reasons to detest Gontareva, the object of the fake hearing’s ire, according to Aslund.

“This was entirely Kolomoisky,” he said. “Kolomoisky is crooked and clever. He is a person who makes business by doing bankruptcy rather than making profits.”

Kolomoisky has faced allegations of involvement in contract killings, which he denies. An attorney for Kolomoisky did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The short version of all of this: Eastern European politics are circuitous, colorful, and—weird. And last September, a little of that weirdness seeped across the pond and into the basement of the Capitol.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-alleg ... e-trumpkin


From their digital headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, the Trump campaign placed between 70,000-175,000 different pieces of content on Facebook every day specifically targeting profiles provided from Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica’s parent company was until recently owned by a British-Iranian businessman with ties to Putin-linked Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash who is wanted for bribery by the U.S. and was allegedly involved in a racketeering scheme with Paul Manafort.

More importantly, the way Cambridge Analytica gained access to some 30 million Facebook accounts without users’ consent, along with private voting records, raises serious privacy concerns.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40854&p=651489&hilit=DMITRY+FIRTASH#p651489


The case also potentially affects the interests of another Ukrainian oligarch, Dmitry Firtash, now in exile in Austria awaiting possible extradition to the US on corruption charges that he has described as trumped up. His company, Group DF, is owed $300m by Raga, according to Mr Gorbunenko, after having partially financed the initial privatisation of Ukrtelecom in 2011.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40370&p=649341&hilit=DMITRY+FIRTASH#p649341


For his mastery of political campaigning, Manafort was dubbed a “mythical figure” in the Ukrainian press, and the country’s powerbrokers still give him much of the credit for turning the pro-Russian party around. “I can tell you he’s a real specialist,” says Manafort’s friend Dmitry Firtash, the Ukrainian billionaire and former partner to the Kremlin in the European gas trade. “He won three elections in Ukraine. He knew what he was doing.”
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40370&p=646464&hilit=DMITRY+FIRTASH#p646464


Jared Kushner's parents were friends with Netanyahu. He has forged an alliance with Putin.
His Chief Strategist is Steve Bannon. Bannon is the CEO of Breitbart, with the Mercer family having majority ownership. The Mercers, along with Bannon are heavily involved in Cambridge Analytica a data gathering firm. Cambridge Analytica’s parent company is SCL Group, which lists Dmitry Firtash as a board member. Breitbart and Bannon have extensive ties to the far right movement in Europe which is also funded by Putin.
His second campaign manager was Paul Manafort. He had to resign in August due to having questionable Russian ties like Dmitry Firtash and the former Ukrainian President. Manafort lives in Trump tower, along with Kellyanne Conway and her husband.

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40179&p=640125&hilit=DMITRY+FIRTASH#p640125


Married to the Ukrainian Mob

Meet Dmytro Firtash, the shady billionaire at the heart of Russia’s energy stranglehold over Kiev.

Buried in the news of Russia’s invasion, and now annexation, of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea was the second most important event to affect the new Ukrainian government last week — and it happened in Austria. On the evening of March 12, one of the most notorious Ukrainian oligarchs, Dmytro Firtash, whose fortune has been estimated at anywhere from $673 million to the tens of billions, was arrested in Vienna, right outside of one of his offices in the Margareten district. Neither he nor his bodyguards put up a struggle, according to press reports, although Group DF, the massive international holding company Firtash owns, has said in a statement that the whole thing was a "misunderstanding" which would be "resolved in the very near term."
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40179&p=638086&hilit=DMITRY+FIRTASH#p638086


Manafort's co-defendants were Dmitry Firtash, a Ukranian gas executive under federal indictment for bribery, and Semyon Mogelivich, identified by the Justice Department as head of a transnational criminal organization that posed a threat to U.S. national security. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2015 because Tymoshenko was unable to show the role of each defendant in the alleged money-laundering plot
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40179&p=634648&hilit=DMITRY+FIRTASH#p634648


Austria grants US request to extradite Ukrainian mogul Dmytro Firtash
Vienna court overturns previous decision to reject extradition on grounds it was politically motivated
Tuesday 21 February 2017 08.55 EST
An Austrian court has granted a US request to extradite Ukrainian mogul Dmytro Firtash over bribery allegations.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40179&p=631734&hilit=DMITRY+FIRTASH#p631734


“A Target, Not a Witness”: Will Trump’s Legal B-Team Collapse Before Mueller?

The president’s struggle to recruit experienced lawyers could mask more ominous concerns. “As far as I can tell, Ty Cobb is the only attorney left on the Trump team with experience handling federal criminal investigations,” says one former prosecutor. “The team is thinner than you might expect for perhaps the most important investigation of our lifetime.”

Abigail Tracy
March 26, 2018 5:43 pm

At the very moment when Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is spinning into higher gear, Donald Trump’s legal team is falling apart in extraordinary fashion. John Dowd, the president’s lead personal lawyer, resigned last week. Ty Cobb, who is running point for the White House on everything Russia, is on the outs. Even Joseph diGenova, the shit-kicking conspiracy theorist who was expected to join the team, unexpectedly bowed out Sunday, alongside his wife, Fox News regular Victoria Toensing, citing undefined conflicts. (The New York Times reported that Trump did not believe he had “personal chemistry” with the couple.) “I don’t think you have seen anything like this,” said former Obama general counsel Bob Bauer, struggling to identify a historical antecedent. “Like so much else around Trump, [the shake-up] is marked by confusion, a lack of consistency, and an apparent reflection of the president’s uncontrolled impulses.”

Trump’s personal legal team now consists of just one full-time attorney—Jay Sekulow—a remarkably shallow bench for a president facing potential obstruction of justice charges and the prospect of impeachment. “As far as I can tell, Ty Cobb is the only attorney left on the Trump team with experience handling federal criminal investigations,” said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who has been closely following the probe. “The team is thinner than you might expect for perhaps the most important investigation of our lifetime.”

One of the most critical questions, in the wake of Dowd’s departure, is who is handling negotiations over Trump’s potential interview with Mueller. For months, Dowd had been in contact with the special counsel over the issue, which had reportedly emerged as a sticking point. Dowd was rightly worried about the president testifying under oath, given his penchant for mistruths and exaggerations. Trump, however, has publicly and privately signaled an eagerness to face Mueller. With Dowd out, it is unclear where those negotiations stand. “Cobb can’t do it because he doesn’t represent Trump personally and no one else currently on the team has any experience in this area,” noted William Jeffress, an attorney who worked on the Valerie Plame leak case. Sekulow has reportedly tried to recruit more experienced lawyers, but none have yet signed on. Trump himself recently met with veteran Republican lawyers Emmet Flood and Theodore Olson, but both declined to take the case. Later Monday, it was reported that Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb were the latest prominent lawyers to decline to work for Trump.

Trump’s inability to assemble or maintain an experienced legal team could prove crippling if he is forced to square off against Mueller, a fearsome federal prosecutor assisted by “16 of the best lawyers in the country.” Cobb and Dowd were the only members of the team with the relevant credentials. Sekulow rose to prominence as a conservative commentator and for his work on religious-freedom cases through his work with the American Center for Law and Justice. A team of roughly a half dozen individuals, also affiliated with the conservative nonprofit, are reported to be working with Sekulow on Trump’s defense on a part-time basis. “You wouldn’t go to an ear and nose and throat specialist to perform heart surgery,” Bauer told me. “It is an odd notion that you just reach out and recruit lawyers that you are personally comfortable with . . . rather than select the people that have the experience and the training to address the very specific problem that you face.”

Bauer was withering when asked about the possibility that fellow New York attorney Marc Kasowitz might rejoin Trump’s team, as my colleague Gabriel Sherman reported last week. “There is nothing I know of that qualifies Mr. Kasowitz to take something like this on except that the president knows him and has had a good experience with him in the areas in which Mr. Kasowitz does practice.”

It is incredible to imagine that the president of the United States—a billionaire—should be unable to secure proper representation. But Trump is hardly the ordinary presidential client. A tightfisted septuagenarian with an itchy Twitter finger, Trump is as infamous for stiffing contractors as he is for his mean streak—hardly winsome character traits for top-flight attorneys with their choice of assignments. “You’re kidding right?” one Washington defense lawyer spat last year when I asked about the challenges of representing Trump. “Representing this guy would be almost an impossibility. I mean I don’t know who would want to do that.”

Hours before news broke that diGenova and Toensing would not be joining his legal team, Trump tried to throw cold water on the narrative that he couldn’t find a good lawyer. “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case . . . don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on,” he wrote Sunday on Twitter. “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted.” But other members of the bar are skeptical. “If he says many lawyers are willing to work for him, that may only be true because we have a country with a huge number of lawyers in it,” Bauer said. “But how many of the willing ones would have the credentials and experience for the job?” Other members of the White House, after all, have had no trouble securing representation. White House counsel Donald McGahn, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and erstwhile chief of staff Reince Priebus are all being represented by William Burck, for example. (Burck reportedly turned down a chance to work for the president.) Abbe Lowell, another heavy hitter, is representing Jared Kushner.

Trump, meanwhile, keeps giving prospective law firms more reasons not to work with him. “Trump’s latest tweets reflect his low opinion of lawyers which is only one reason lawyers who care about their reputation don’t want to represent him,” Jeffress told me. “He will no doubt find a lawyer eager to represent him but most lawyers are not.”

Given the sheer number of lawyers representing clients in Mueller’s probe, it is possible, too, that a small town like Washington is simply running out of white-shoe firms without conflicts. That was, after all, the reason that diGenova and Toensing ostensibly parted ways with Trump. Toensing has been representing Mark Corallo, who represented Trump’s legal team last year, before resigning in the wake of revelations about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer.

Such a prosaic explanation, however, could mask more ominous concerns. “What happened between last week, when DiGenova and Toensing were announced as joining the team, and yesterday?” mused Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general under President Obama. “The conflict of interest issue was apparent on Tuesday, and yet we were told they were joining the team and that Mark Corallo (the person with the most significant conflict) had waived any concern. Then Dowd resigns Thursday, and yet by Sunday DiGenova and Toensing are gone, leaving the president with only two lawyers.” That strange development, Katyal posited to me, suggests that Robert Mueller may have intervened. “Diligent prosecutors, when they see a defendant doing something profoundly dangerous to their self-interest (including hiring lawyers who have conflicts), will raise it with the defendant and suggest they rethink it,” he explained. “I think it very possible that that happened here—Mueller is a scrupulous prosecutor and may have told Trump he had concerns about Trump’s own rights. If it did happen, it would strongly suggest that Mueller is formally thinking of Trump as a target of his investigation . . . A prosecutor would issue such a warning to a target, not to a witness.”
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/03 ... rt-mueller


Joseph Mifsud: The mystery professor behind Trump Russia inquiry
By John Sweeney & Innes Bowen
BBC Newsnight
21 March 2018

How Joseph Mifsud fits into Trump Russia inquiry

Who connects the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia, the snapping up of British nuclear knowhow and a reality TV star who makes dresses for the UK prime minister?
Step forward, mystery professor Joseph Mifsud of the London Academy of Diplomacy, originally from Malta, who mixed with Britain's foreign secretary and ex-CIA people, but who also helped connect Team Trump with the Russians.
A Newsnight investigation into Mifsud has thrown new light on to the enigmatic don and his circle, who include a Kremlin trusty and a third man, Dr Stephan Roh, a wheeler-dealer who bought a British nuclear firm which suddenly started coining millions of dollars.
Mifsud left a job at the University of Malta under something of a cloud in 2007, then led a new university in Slovenia.
He left that too, disputing claims that he had fiddled expenses worth €39,332 ($48,550 / £34,320). Next stop was the London Academy of Diplomacy in 2013. It was a rum outfit, now bust, linked to the University of East Anglia and then the University of Stirling.
At one conference he was described as "Ambassador Mifsud" but, although he worked for six months in the private office of the Maltese foreign minister, he was never a diplomat.
Mifsud became a selfie king of the diplomatic circuit. Boris Johnson and then Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood were photographed with Mifsud - as was the Russian ambassador to London. Mifsud joined a private university in Rome alongside two former Italian foreign ministers.
In Riyadh he worked for a think-tank run by former head of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki al Faisal, introducing an ex-CIA operative at a seminar.
Mifsud had a fiancée based in Ukraine, according to Buzzfeed. The woman says she hasn't seen or heard of the professor for months but she gave birth to their daughter two months ago.
In April 2016 in the run-up to the American election, Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos says Mifsud told him that the Russians had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to court documents.

George Papadopoulos: The Trump adviser who lied to the FBI

That conversation, which Papadopoulos carelessly relayed to an Australian over drinks in a posh London bar, was reported to American officials weeks later when emails hacked from the Democratic Party were leaked.
The exchange reportedly so concerned the FBI that it opened its investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election and whether the Trump team helped.
Last year Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with people who claimed they could put him in touch with the Russian government.
The Trump-Russia saga in 200 words
All you need to know about Trump Russia story
A former academic colleague described Mifsud as "cunning", part of a "third rate diplomatic community where there is an element of braggadocio".
So maybe he exaggerated his closeness to the Kremlin to impress Papadopoulos, but one source reflected: "It's clear that Mifsud knew something before the world did. And that raises questions."
In April 2016, Mifsud reportedly introduced Papadopoulos via email to Ivan Timofeev, who works for a think tank close to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
That same month, Mifsud was in Moscow on a panel run by the Kremlin-backed Valdai Club with Timofeev and the third man, Dr Stephan Roh, a German multi-millionaire.
Mifsud and Roh interlock: in 2014, Roh became a visiting lecturer at the London Academy of Diplomacy. Roh bought Link Campus University, a private institution in Rome where Mifsud was part of the management and Mifsud became a consultant at Roh's legal firm.
Roh and his Russian-born wife, Olga, have homes in Switzerland, Monaco, London and Hong Kong. And then there is a derelict castle in Scotland - buying it made Stephan and Olga the Baron and Baroness of Inchdrewer.

Olga was a star in Fox's reality TV show Meet The Russians, in which, surrounded by the trappings of extreme wealth, she purrs: "My family was always achievements orientated."
She's extraordinarily well-connected, running an upmarket fashion company in London's Mayfair. Among her customers is Britain's prime minister. There is a photograph of Theresa May meeting the Queen in an Olga Roh coat.
In 2005 Dr Roh bought Severnvale Nuclear Services Ltd from its one man-band owner, British nuclear scientist Dr John Harbottle. He then invited Dr Harbottle on an all-expenses paid trip to a conference in Moscow.
But the nuclear scientist was alert to the danger that visitors to Moscow can be targeted or even honey-trapped in compromising situations. Dr Harbottle said: "We smelt a rat. It didn't sound as if it would ring true and I decided that I wasn't going to go to this meeting."
Shortly afterwards, he was fired.
Russia-Trump: Who's who?
The tactics of a Russian troll farm
Under Dr Harbottle the company's turnover had been £42,000 a year. Within three years under Dr Roh, Severnvale Nuclear, with just two employees, was turning over more than $43m (£24m) a year.
Dr Roh declined to respond to repeated attempts by the BBC to ask him to explain how he had transformed the business.
Professor Mifsud too didn't respond to Newsnight's attempts to contact him, but has always denied that he is a spy.
When approached by Italian newspaper La Repubblica the mystery professor said: "Secret agent! I never got a penny from the Russians: my conscience is clean."
The FBI investigation into whether Team Trump colluded with the Russians continues - but in doing so it has thrust the troubling connections of characters such as Professor Mifsud and Dr Roh into the light.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43488581


Trump’s Longtime Lawyer, Michael Cohen, Knows Way Too Much. So Why is He Still in Exile?

He’s the president’s ‘Ray Donovan.’ But he never had a home at the White House. Now, he’s plotting his next act.

Michael Cohen Knows Too Much


Before his remarks at a $35,000-per-plate fundraiser last June in Miami, Florida, President Donald Trump took the podium to acknowledge his biggest boosters in the crowd. Eventually, he got to Michael Cohen, the longtime private employee of the Trump Organization who is currently serving as “personal attorney” to the president. Trump praised Cohen’s lawyering, his loyalty, and his love for appearing on television.

“I haven’t seen Michael in a month,” he added, wistfully. “It’s good to see you, Michael. I miss you, man.”

The feeling was mutual.

Cohen, 51, isn’t just an employee of Donald Trump, he’s a disciple. He dresses in the same slightly too large suits and wide-knot silk ties. He talks in short punchy bursts and refers to his enemies as “haters” and “idiots.” Even their sleep schedules are the same. (“Well, I don’t sleep,” Cohen told The Daily Beast.) And when Cohen says he’d “take a bullet,” for Trump, one gets the impression he’s serious.

For over a decade, Cohen was Trump’s right-hand man and the two rarely spent much time away from their offices on the 26th floor of Trump Tower.

But the presidency has changed things, creating a rare and growing distance between these kindred spirits. Cohen told a Vanity Fair reporter in August that it had been weeks since he had even spoken with the president, the first lady, or “the kids,” as he calls Trump’s adult children, Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric. He also said that his lawyer suggested the separation continue until Cohen complied with an invitation for any information and testimony he might provide to congressional investigators looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Describing it as “difficult,” and “disappointing,” Cohen explained that his forced exile was for the greater good of shielding the Trump family from any headaches that may arise from his meetings with investigators. But they have still come.

“Cohen explained that his forced exile was for the greater good of shielding the Trump family from any headaches that may arise from his meetings with investigators. But they have still come.”

After Cohen released his planned remarks to that same Vanity Fair reporter, the Senate committee accused him of violating a gag agreement and canceled his appearance. The questioning was rescheduled to consecutive-day appearances before both the Senate and House intelligence committees at the end of October. Cohen complied, but he described the marathon grilling as “abusive.”

“There’s no reason that you keep somebody for 14 hours. I mean, it’s a really long long time,” Cohen told The Daily Beast of the closed-door session, which reportedly focused heavily on emails concerning an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to open a Trump Tower in Moscow. “You know, to be sitting there and being asked the same question, to be asked ‘Have you ever seen this document?’ ‘No, well are you included?’ Yeah, along with 800 other people on a Cc. Do you have any idea how many emails I get a day?”

It’s unclear if Cohen has been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links with the Trump campaign. He’s reportedly been under scrutiny in the FBI’s probe of alleged Russian election-meddling. Of interest to investigators are Cohen’s personal and business connections in Ukraine; emails and meetings between Cohen and Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman and convicted criminal who has bragged about his ties to Vladimir Putin; an email Cohen sent to Putin’s spokesman seeking support for a Moscow project; and a report that Cohen hand-delivered a sealed “peace plan” for Russia and Ukraine that included lifting Russian sanctions to then-national security adviser Michael Flynn. Initially, Cohen seemed to confirm the peace plan report, but later denied delivering any documents. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

It’s his unshakable devotion coupled with this tendency to be creative with his construction of the truth that has some Trump insiders concerned about the prospect of Cohen potentially being ensnared in Mueller’s investigation, which has already lead to the indictments of four former Trump associates, and one lawyer who lied about his communications with a former campaign official.

“I’m just worried for Michael, worried for what [Mueller’s senior financial prosecutor] Andrew Weissmann might find when he calls him in,” said Sam Nunberg, an early political aide to Trump who still supports the president despite being fired by him in 2014 and again in 2015. “He can find anything that was illegal and prosecute you.”

Nunberg stressed that he had no reason to believe Cohen had done—or would do—anything illegal, but said, “I’m worried that they are going to target Michael as a way to take down Trump.”

If Mueller’s team wants to know what was happening inside Trump Tower or Donald Trump’s mind in the run-up to the election—and they clearly do—talking to Michael Cohen would be smart. Few other people outside of Trump’s own family, after all, have spent as much time with the president.

Cohen grew up on Long Island, worked as a personal injury lawyer, then spent the ’90s buying up taxi medallions in New York City and Chicago and hustling side projects like a Miami gambling boat and several family-run Ukrainian ethanol businesses. By the aughts, Cohen and his extended family were investing in real estate—specifically in Trump properties.

“Michael Cohen has a great insight into the real-estate market,” Trump told the New York Post in 2007 of Cohen’s appetite for his apartments. “He has invested in my buildings because he likes to make money – and he does.”

Three months after Trump’s comments, Cohen was brought on as both “special counsel” and executive vice president for the Trump Organization and given an office a few doors down from the boss’. As EVP, Cohen “oversaw business dealings globally,” as he explained in a recently shopped book proposal obtained by The Daily Beast last month. His special counsel role was less defined. “I basically handled, shall we say, ‘issues.’ In other words, I was the family fix-it guy,” Cohen wrote.

By 2011, Cohen was playing an instrumental role in building the framework for Trump’s forthcoming political career. He had enlisted the help of a few other rich men and launched ShouldTrumpRun.com, a website that urged “the many frustrated Americans sick and tired of hearing the same old mundane political campaign promises,” to “convince Donald Trump to run for President in 2012.”

Trump did not run that year. But the site, along numerous television appearances cheerleading for Trump and a flight to Iowa on Trump’s private jet to to meet with state officials, caught the attention of the Federal Election Commission. The FEC launched an investigation into a complaint that Cohen had violated campaign finance laws but ultimately sided in Cohen’s favor (PDF).

After years of teasing presidential runs, Trump officially announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015. Cohen soon appeared on television and in print, promoting and defending his boss. But just what his role entailed has never been clear.

“I used to call him the Ray Donovan of the office,” said Nunberg, referring to the Showtime drama about a “fixer” who uses threats to rid rich and famous clients of their problems.

“We never knew specifically what he did, but we knew he took care of the garbage,” he added. “He’s also, and I mean this as a compliment, he’s a crazy man.”

“I used to call him the Ray Donovan of the office. We never knew specifically what he did, but we knew he took care of the garbage... He’s also, and I mean this as a compliment, he’s a crazy man.”

— Sam Nunberg on Michael Cohen

Cohen refused to elaborate on the specifics of his role, citing “attorney client privilege” in a text. But he seems to relish his reputation as Trump’s personal pit bull. “It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit,” Cohen famously told an ABC News reporter in 2011. “If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.”

Reporters, lawyers, and regular folks who dared to challenge Trump’s carefully crafted image as the consummate businessman would often find themselves locked in Cohen’s proverbial jaws. Cohen once bragged of “destroying” the life of Sheena Monnin, a beauty queen who in 2012 questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s Miss USA pageant. Monnin’s father, who said he spoke to Cohen twice, described Cohen “throwing a fit,” on the phone. “I’m sure if you check other people who have had to deal with him, you’d hear the same. Just bullying tactics and intimidation.”

And, indeed, that’s precisely what others who have dealt with Cohen have faced. In the summer of 2015, as Trump was barreling his way toward the Republican nomination, Cohen threatened a Daily Beast reporter who had called for comment on allegations that Trump abused his ex-wife, as detailed in a 1993 biography. “Tread very fucking lightly,” Cohen told the reporter, Tim Mak, “because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting.”

The Trump campaign, then-helmed by Corey Lewandowski, distanced itself from Cohen after The Daily Beast report came out—saying that despite Cohen’s nearly constant television appearances where he defended Trump, Cohen was not affiliated with the campaign.

A week later, against the better judgement of top campaign officials, Cohen was back in the surrogate’s chair on CNN and in the good graces of his longtime boss. He walked back his statements about rape, but expressed little regret for his treatment of Mak. Recently, he told The Daily Beast, “The guy went way too far and I probably went too far and OK, I’ve been known to lose my temper here and there. But I’m not what the press tries to create me into. It’s just not me, you know?”

The Mak incident wasn’t the only headache Cohen would create for the campaign. In the year that followed, he was criticized for retweeting an account named “surfersfortrump” that said of then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly: “We can gut her.” Then, in August 2016, he turned heads by denying to CNN’s Brianna Keilar, that Trump was lagging in polls

“Says who?” Cohen asked. Keilar dryly responded, “Polls. Most of them. All of them.”

The moment became a viral joke, with a corresponding hashtag. But Cohen has had the last laugh. The polls—most of them, at least—were wrong.

By that point, however, Cohen and his media hits had already become an internal punchline to many senior staffers on Team Trump, according to three top campaign alums. Several called him the “Says Who Guy.” Others were more disparaging, referring him an “idiot,” and a liability.

In a White House full of backbiters and opportunists, Cohen would have been a true believer. But it wasn’t meant to be. According to former and current administration officials, senior Trump aides, including Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, wanted nothing to do with Cohen. Too many saw him as a hothead (even compared to others in the uniquely tumultuous Trump-world) and an inept political operator who would inevitably get the White House into trouble.

The week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Cohen said the president elect asked him to stay on as his “personal attorney.” Cohen said he was “honored” at the request, but others inside the campaign have said the longtime aide-de-camp was expecting an official White House post.

“He wasn’t expecting attorney general, but he was holding out for a senior job that would have also allowed him to continue being an attack dog for the president,” a source familiar with the situation said, corroborating what other people close to Cohen and Trump told The Daily Beast.

The White House did not return a request for comment.

“He wasn’t expecting attorney general, but he was holding out for a senior job that would have also allowed him to continue being an attack dog for the president.”

Instead of relocating to Washington along with Ivanka and Jared, Cohen moved his office just six blocks south of Trump Tower and with plans to travel between D.C. and New York in service of President Trump. His title—personal attorney to the president—is misleading. He is not acting as an attorney in the way most people think of the job. He is not representing Trump in court against any of the women who accused the president of sexual assault; that’s Marc Kasowitz’s job. And he is not helping Trump with any crises or fallout extending from the Russia investigations; the president already has a team for that.

He remains, very much, a mysterious operator, one whose methods and past work continue to generate embarrassing headlines. In mid-February, The New York Times reported that during the campaign, Cohen had been tasked with stopping any damaging stories about his boss from seeing the light of day, including at least two stories from women—one a former Playboy Playmate, another a porn star—who claimed they’d had consensual affairs with Trump in the mid-2000s. In one case, Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to porn star Stephanie Clifford, better known by her stage name Stormy Daniels, in the month before the election to effectively buy her silence.

Cohen first denied a sexual encounter had taken place, and sent reporters a written denial of any affair signed by “Stormy Daniels.” A week later, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen established a private Delaware LLC to facilitate the payment. Though Cohen established the company in Delaware ostensibly for the state’s reputation for privacy (owners and managers aren’t required to disclose their names) he curiously volunteered himself as the “authorized person” on the formation documents, instead of hiring a third party to act as the signatory.

The following day, InTouch magazine published a 5,000-word interview with Clifford from 2011 that had been shelved after Cohen threatened the publisher with a lawsuit, according to the Associated Press. After a D.C. watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee claiming that the $130,000 payment violated campaign finance laws, Cohen released another statement admitting that he had facilitated the payment to Clifford, but claiming he had used his own money and was never reimbursed by the campaign or the Trump Organization. The carefully worded statement stopped short of denying any reimbursement and Cohen did not respond to follow-up questions.

Cohen still insists the affair never happened. He added in his statement, “I will always protect Mr. Trump.” It’s just not clear how much protection he’s providing. Cohen, once more, found himself a national punchline for the services he had rendered to his favorite client. A commercial parody on Jimmy Kimmel Live! asked, “Have you never had sex with a porn star? Then you need a lawyer to give that porn star large amounts of cash! Not your own cash, his own cash. Call the law firm of Michael Cohen & Associates.”

After a year of being vilified in the press, targeted by federal investigators, and perhaps worse, isolated from his idol, Cohen reveled in a counterattack one evening this January.

He announced on Twitter that he had filed two defamation lawsuits: one against Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned “the Steele dossier” a salacious 35-page report that alleged connections between Donald Trump and Russia, and another against BuzzFeed News, over its decision to publish the document.

The unverified dossier named him as a central player in a Russian conspiracy to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump, a claim that Cohen has repeatedly denied. For BuzzFeed’s alleged defamation, Cohen was demanding $100 million.

When reached by phone, Cohen called it “premature” to discuss damages. “But you can only imagine,” he said. “It’s not just me that has been harmed in many different ways, forgetting about just financial, it’s the attacks on my wife, the attacks on my children.

“You can imagine what goes on at these schools where it’s become increasingly chic to be a far-left liberal,” he said. “You know it’s beyond, I can’t tell you the number of friends who no longer associate with us because our views are just so diametrically opposite.”

And that’s just the personal, Cohen said. The allegations that he may have played a role in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election are affecting his business prospects, too.

“There’s all sorts of businesses, where they’re like, ‘You’re exactly what we want, but can we hold off until maybe this Russian thing is over?’”

On Fox News, famed defense lawyer and newcomer Trump defender Alan Dershowitz reacted to news of Cohen’s lawsuit by questioning the common sense of a case that would have Trump deposed.

“He’s going to withdraw the case,” Dershowitz told Martha MacCallum. “I’m not sure whether Cohen got the permission to file this lawsuit.”

Dershowitz was onto something. When asked whether President Trump had indeed supported his actions, Cohen told The Daily Beast, “I’m sure he does. I haven’t spoken to him about it.”

There are some signs that Cohen’s exile from the administration is no longer so absolute. Though he may not be at the White House physically, he is serving as a helping hand on Trump-world odd jobs and pet projects.

Later this year, the Trump White House is hoping to unveil an “Urban Revitalization Plan” targeting black and minority communities that the president has outsourced to outside allies, led by pro-Trump pastor Darrell C. Scott. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Scott credited Cohen, a close friend of his, as “one of the originators” of the plan—which Scott tongue-in-cheek refers to as the Trump administration’s “black people plan.”

“We came up with it together,” Scott said.

But even as he’s been tasked with helping to save America’s ailing urban centers, Cohen still lacks allies in Trump-world. White House officials continue to describe him as a “non-entity” and a goofy “character,” according to a senior Trump aide.

In addition to co-founding the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, Cohen in his spare time is pitching in with the Republican National Committee’s fundraising crew, lashing out at Trump critics on Twitter, and shopping a book.

According to a proposal sent to several publishers and obtained by The Daily Beast earlier this month, Cohen’s book will likely be titled, “Trump Revolution: From the Tower to the White House, Understanding Donald J. Trump,” and will focus on the attorney’s role in the campaign and the business empire.

“No issue was too big, too sticky or too oddball for me to tackle,” Cohen teases in the book proposal. “I saw it all, handled it all. And still do.”

Michael Cohen wants you to know that he’s not making a comeback any time soon. After all, he’s been with Mr. Trump the whole time.

“I haven’t gone anywhere,” Cohen wrote in a text message to The Daily Beast. “Sadly, the press wants to create the narrative that I am on the outside. More fake news!”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-lo ... ia=desktop



seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:32 am wrote:The time to ask, "Why the hell is a GRU guy in the middle of Team trump" was AUG 2016: 3 months before the election.

Ari Melber

This new Mueller filing says Trump’s campaign chair *and* deputy campaign manager *knew* their associate was a former Russian intelligence officer. As they say in court, Um.
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NEW: The Special Counsel's Office says that Manafort was heavily involved in the editing of a recent op-ed and worked on it with Konstantin Kilimnik who they suggest is associated with Russian intelligence.
https://twitter.com/Tom_Winter/status/9 ... 5717210113


Mueller reportedly connected ex-Trump staffer to Russian operative ahead of election
https://nypost.com/2018/03/28/mueller-r ... -election/


Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was knowingly talking with a Russian spy in fall 2016, Mueller filing suggests
4:25 a.m. ET

A court document filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors Tuesday night has an interesting footnote about Rick Gates, President Trump's former deputy campaign manager and cooperating witness in Mueller's investigation. Gates was "directly communicating in September and October 2016" with an unidentified person who "has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016," and Gates knew about this person's ties to Russian intelligence, the filing says, calling the 2016 conversations "pertinent to the investigation."


The court filing was mostly about the upcoming sentencing hearing of Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who admitted to lying to Mueller's investigators and is seeking to avoid jail time. Van der Zwaan is seeking leniency at his April 3 sentencing because his wife, Eva Khan, is giving birth to their first child in August. Khan's father is Russian billionaire German Khan, who cofounded the Alfa banking group; computer scientists noticed mysterious communications between Alfa Bank servers and a Trump Organization server in 2016, and an investigation into the communications was apparently inconclusive.

Lawyers for Van der Zwaan, who does not have a cooperation deal with Mueller's team, said in their filing Tuesday night that Gates and the unidentified Eastern European ("Person A") warned van der Zwaan in 2016 about a possible criminal case in Ukraine against him and his firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, for work he had done with Gates. Van der Zwaan secretly recorded the "unusual and unnerving" conversations, his lawyers said, and he initially lied about the communications because he didn't want to be fired. He was fired anyway. Mueller's office describe the calls as "memorable." Peter Weber
http://theweek.com/speedreads/763750/tr ... g-suggests


Robert Mueller's Office Wants A Judge To Consider Jail Time For A Lawyer Who Pleaded Guilty To Lying

Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to special counsel prosecutors and the FBI, is asking for no jail time.

Zoe TillmanMarch 27, 2018, at 9:10 p.m.
Alex van der Zwaan
Yuri Gripas / Reuters
In court papers filed late Tuesday, special counsel Robert Mueller's office argued that a judge shouldn't rule out jail time for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors and the FBI in the Russia investigation.

The special counsel's office did not take a position on what sentence they thought van der Zwaan should get — according to earlier filings, he faces an estimated sentencing guidelines range between zero to six months. But prosecutors pushed back on van der Zwaan's arguments in favor of no jail time, such as the fact that his wife, who lives in London, is pregnant and is due in August.

"To the extent the Court seeks to take into account the circumstances of van der Zwaan’s wife’s pregnancy, consideration of that circumstance would not preclude a term of incarceration," the special counsel's office wrote. "In any event, a sentence that ensured van der Zwaan’s return to the United Kingdom for the birth of his child in August 2018 would be within the recommended Guidelines’ range."

Prosecutors wrote that van der Zwaan "presents a scarcity of mitigating factors, and several aggravating circumstances," including the extent of his false statements to investigators.

"The defendant was expressly warned by the government that it is a crime to lie to the Special Counsel’s Office, that lying could constitute a federal crime, and that such conduct would carry with it the possibility of going to jail if he were convicted. van der Zwaan stated that he understood. He thereafter deliberately and repeatedly lied," they wrote.

Van der Zwaan's sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 3. He is set to become the first person sentenced in the special counsel investigation. Four other people have publicly pleaded guilty so far to charges brought by Mueller's office — including former Trump campaign deputy chair Rick Gates, Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — but their sentencings are on hold as they cooperate with prosecutors.

Van der Zwaan's lawyer filed papers Tuesday night asking the judge for a sentence that doesn't include any jail time.

"His career has been destroyed, he has been separated from his friends and family, and he faces the possibility of missing the birth of his first child. Although Alex committed a serious offense, just punishment does not require incarceration," his lawyers wrote.

Van der Zwaan's plea deal did not include a cooperation requirement, though, and his lawyer asked for a sentencing date as soon as possible so that he can return to London to join his wife, who is pregnant. Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of German Khan, a Russian bank owner who is suing BuzzFeed News over the publication of an unverified dossier of information concerning President Donald Trump.

Van der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen, admitted making false statements about his interactions with Gates and an unidentified individual referred to in charging papers as "Person A." Prosecutors and van der Zwaan's lawyers had estimated that he faced a sentencing range between zero to six months in jail, as well as a fine ranging from $500 to $9,500, according to court papers.

In exchange for the guilty plea, Mueller's office agreed not to pursue charges against van der Zwaan in connection with any other false statements he made in November or December 2017, destruction of documents or evidence, or violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act — which requires individuals who lobby on behalf of foreign entities to register with the US government — in connection with his work for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice.

Van der Zwaan was part of a team that worked in 2012 on behalf of the Ukrainian government on a report about the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister. His work brought him into contact with Gates, who, along with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, did work for the Ukrainian government during the same time period. Special counsel prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum that van der Zwaan had helped Gates with public relations related to the Tymoshenko report, against the wishes of his law firm.

In charging documents against Manafort and Gates — Gates later took a plea deal, Manafort is still fighting charges in Washington, DC, and Virginia — special counsel prosecutors said that their work for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yaunkonych included lobbying Congress concerning the report on the Tymoshenko trial commissioned by the Ukrainian government.

Van der Zwaan has been free since his first court appearance on Feb. 20. The judge required him to stay in the Washington metropolitan area until his next court date, although he's been allowed to travel to Manhattan to meet with his lawyers if he gives advance notice to the Pretrial Services Agency. He's been in the United States since November, according to his lawyer.

According to his sentencing memorandum, van der Zwaan first met with the special counsel's office on Nov. 3. At the time he was a lawyer with the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Skadden later fired him. His lawyers wrote that he lied to investigators that first meeting about his communications with Gates and Person A in 2016, and about an email that hadn't been produced to the special counsel's office. Person A hasn't been identified in court papers, but the special counsel's office wrote in its sentencing memorandum that Gates told van der Zwaan that Person A was a former Russian intelligence officer.

Person A had told van der Zwaan that the Ukrainian government might pursue charges against him related to his work on the Tymoshenko report, and he had also discussed the Ukrainian investigation with Gates and a partner at his law firm, according to the filing. Given the "unusual and unnerving" conversations, van der Zwaan secretly recorded them, his lawyers wrote, and he feared that revealing the communications to the special counsel's office could lead to the discovery of the recordings. He didn't produce an email that referred to the 2016 communications, as well as emails that would have revealed he was exploring options for leaving Skadden to work with Manafort and Gates.

The special counsel's office described the calls in its court papers as "memorable."

"In van der Zwaan’s recorded conversation with Person A, in Russian, Person A suggested that 'there were additional payments,' that '[t]he official contract was only a part of the iceberg,' and that the story may become a blow for 'you and me personally,'" prosecutors wrote. It wasn't immediately clear what Person A was referring to, but prosecutors wrote in a footnote that Skadden was paid millions of dollars for its work for Ukraine, and that the possible criminal matter in Ukraine related to whether Ukraine had said several years ago that the firm was paid a much smaller amount.

Van der Zwaan then decided to "correct the record," and went back for another meeting with the special counsel's office on Dec. 1. He produced the emails.

"The conduct that brings Alex before this court was inexcusable," his lawyers wrote. "And while his actions following his initial meeting with the [special counsel's office] cannot absolve him from culpability, they are compelling mitigating factors in considering punishment."

The special counsel's office countered that van der Zwaan's decision to come clean to Skadden about recordings he made using firm equipment were not "mitigating factors."

"He does not deserve credit for adhering to the law," prosecutors wrote.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/rob ... bkoknXnlLE


Mueller has filed new documents in his case against Trump-Russia figure Alex Van Der Zwaan, which reveal that Van Der Zwaan has turned over a phone call he recorded between himself and Rick Gates. In that call, Gates admitted that he and Paul Manafort were knowingly conspiring with a former Russian government intel officer who still has active ties to the Russian government. Gates has cut a plea deal and agreed to tell Mueller everything, which means that Gates will testify to this in Manafort’s trial. So not only does Mueller have a recording of Gates confessing on Manafort’s behalf, he’ll also have the live testimony of Gates, confirming that the taped confession is real.

Van der Zwaan's father-in-law, the Russian billionaire German Khan, who co-founded Alfa Group, a large financial conglomerate, was recently named in the Treasury Department's list of Russian oligarchs.

Mueller’s earlier court filings against Alex van der Zwaan that a mysterious “Person A” had been in communication with Gates and Manafort. Mueller’s new filing against van der Zwaan still doesn’t reveal the mystery person’s identity, but it does confirm that Person A is an ex Russian intel agent, and that Gates and Manafort knew as much when they were communicating with him during the general election, lasting through October of 2016 – just before Election Day.

Manafort was the Trump campaign chairman for part of this stretch, and Gates was a Trump campaign deputy chairman for all of this stretch, meaning that they were acting on Donald Trump’s behalf. Person A is said to still be unofficially working for the Russian intel community, which means that the Trump campaign conspired with Russian spooks with regard to the election.
http://www.palmerreport.com/analysis/ad ... rump/9058/


That’s treason.


New Gates tie alleged in special counsel filing on van der Zwaan sentencing


(CNN)The special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election revealed Tuesday night that prosecutors say they have connected former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates to a person with ties to a Russian intelligence service while Gates worked on the campaign.

That Gates and the unnamed person, who had lived in Kiev and Moscow and worked for one of Paul Manafort's companies, were in touch in September and October 2016 was "pertinent to the investigation," a court filing from prosecutors said Tuesday night.

The acknowledgment that Gates knew the person had Russian intelligence ties is alleged in a report prosecutors filed about the coming sentencing of a Dutch attorney. That attorney, Alex van der Zwaan, who worked with Gates and Manafort previously, pleaded guilty last month to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators about his interactions with Gates and the unnamed person.

In an opposing 30-page memorandum also filed Tuesday evening, van der Zwaan begged for leniency and asked the judge to avoid sending him to jail next week. Instead, van der Zwaan asks to pay an "appropriate fine," according to the filing.

He will be the first defendant in Mueller's probe to face sentencing, on April 3.

"(H)is world has collapsed as a result of his decision to lie to law enforcement," the court filing from the Dutch lawyer begins.

Van der Zwaan's career as a lawyer may be over, and he risks missing the birth of his first child in London, it continues.

"Although he has had occasional visitors and took a car trip with his wife over the Christmas holiday, his existence has largely been solitary. He lives alone in a hotel in a city where he has no close friends. His days are empty and lonely," van der Zwaan's filing later states.

Van der Zwaan's charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, though he qualifies for a recommended sentence of zero to six months. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000.

The prosecutors, in their own memo to federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson Tuesday night, do not ask for any particular sentence, but note how van der Zwaan was an experienced lawyer and lied to them after Manafort and Gates were indicted.

Lying to investigators


Van der Zwaan's memo Tuesday describes the work he did at the law firm Skadden Arps, which eventually led to his guilty plea. After years of working with Gates on a report meant to aid a political group in Ukraine, Gates contacted him in 2016 about a foreign criminal case they feared could be filed against van der Zwaan's law firm. Afraid of the situation, the young attorney recorded a phone call with Gates and the unnamed Eastern European associate, and a call with his firm.

Later, when Mueller's office asked about his interactions with Gates and the other person, he lied because he feared his firm might fire him for recording the call, according to the memo.

"Alex was keenly aware that he was not speaking only to" Mueller's office, his filing says. "In his mind, his boss was listening to every word."

The firm ultimately fired him. Before his charges, van der Zwaan confessed to both Mueller's office and Skadden and turned over the notes, recordings, cell phones and laptops he had.

In late 2017, he gave two hours-long, voluntary interviews to Mueller's investigators and answered questions including about the recorded conversations and "several other subjects," the court memo says.

He pleaded guilty in open court on February 20.

"This widely publicized prosecution, as well as its collateral consequences, sends a strong message to anyone who considers lying to federal investigators," the sentencing memorandum from van der Zwaan says.

Van Der Zwaan admitted to one charge of lying to investigators about his interaction with Gates. He said he also lied to investigators about his failure to turn over email communications, including ones where he considered working for the men who later became Trump campaign leaders, to the special counsel's office and to his law firm as it cooperated with Mueller on its investigation into Manafort and Gates' foreign lobbying.

Van der Zwaan's criminal charge has no apparent connection to the Trump campaign aside from his contact with then-campaign aide Gates in 2016. However, the legal hot water he faces highlights how Mueller's prosecutors have used laws against lying to federal investigators as a way to gain cooperators and gather information during their probe.

Family requests


Van der Zwaan has not been allowed to travel outside of Washington and Manhattan as he awaits sentencing. His wife, Eva Khan, lives in London and is due to give birth in August.

Eva Khan as well as his mother, his father and a former colleague from Skadden who chose van der Zwaan as his son's godfather wrote letters to the judge about the burden van der Zwaan now bears.

His wife recounts how she burst into tears at the 12-week ultrasound of her unborn baby. "(T)he ultrasound specialist asked me if my husband came with me for the revealing of the gender of the baby," Eva Khan wrote. "People constantly ask me where Alex is, and I can feel their judgment."

As for his personal situation, the prosecutors counter that van der Zwaan "is a person to whom every advantage in life has been given, and from whom the government and the professional bar rightly expected candor and uprightness."

Still, they acknowledge that the judge could sentence him in a way that could allow him to return to London for the birth of his child. Van der Zwaan's father-in-law, the Russian billionaire German Khan, who co-founded Alfa Group, a large financial conglomerate, was recently named in the Treasury Department's list of Russian oligarchs.

CNN reported last year that the FBI examined whether there was a computer server connection during the 2016 presidential campaign between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization, though there isn't any indication that van der Zwaan is connected to that matter. At the time, Alfa Bank said in a statement that US-based hackers had launched cyberattacks to try to frame the bank, and "to manufacture the illusion of contact" between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.
Unlike four other defendants in the Mueller probe who have pleaded guilty to criminal charges, van der Zwaan did not enter into an ongoing cooperation agreement with the special counsel's office.
https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/27/politics ... index.html



emptywheel

This filing Mueller filed last night is just the first of two. The other one may have even more interesting details (and/or be accompanied by other actions).
2:17 AM - 28 Mar 2018

Sorry: Let me correct (X2). Mueller has two filings in Manafort's challenge to his authority coming, one Monday, one Wednesday. This lays groundwork for that. What he has basically shown is that Manafort was EMPLOYING a GRU officer while working for Trump campaign.

Note Mueller got an extension on those two filings bc (in part) he had to coordinate a lot w/Rosenstein and do *other things* in this investigation. They bought one more day at GJ w/extension that would allow them to incorporate Gates' cooperation.

Here's the part that says that Kilimnik (Person A, who allegedly was still a GRU officer in 2016) worked AT Manafort's company.

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This why the limited hangout Manafort sold WaPo on Kilimnik is a very stupid idea. Manafort kept in touch w/Trump, and kept in touch with Kilimnik at least through November. Manafort masterminded (or passed on) anti-Steele effort to challenge Mueller.

What the WaPo story DOES seem to make clear is Mueller is moving closer to going after Manafort's wife, who was involved in the money laundering/business. This has been predictably coming for a very long time.

My guess is Manafort is making a last ditch bid for a pardon.

Q: If Kilimnik is a long time GRU officer, did Skripal know that? Did he cooperate w/Mueller on that?

If someone gets a presidential pardon but then his wife gets charged in all the crimes he just got pardoned on, does he lose spousal privilege (on top of 5A protection against POTUS)?

Of course this filing also suggests Greg Craig was talking with former or current GRU officer Konstantin Kilimnik in fall 2016. But I imagine he was pretty fucking cooperative by that point.
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents ... andum.html
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https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/9 ... 4840620037



Mueller prosecutors allege that ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort deputy Rick Gates acknowledged to London attorney Alex van der Zwaan that Konstantin Kilimnik, the longtime head of their Ukraine office was a Russian intelligence officer with the GRU. https://wapo.st/2E0iUyK
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seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:07 pm wrote:
Mueller just blew up Trump’s lie that indictments aren’t about collusion

March 28, 2018
Special counsel Mueller has told a court at least one member of Trump's campaign was knowingly working with a former Russian spy.

Late on Tuesday evening, a new bombshell report revealed special counsel Robert Mueller has alleged in a court filing that former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates knew that he and chairman Paul Manafort “were working with a former Russian intelligence officer during the 2016 election.”

The allegation, which appears in the sentencing document against attorney Alex van der Zwaan for lying to Russia investigators, also reveals the officer still had ties to Kremlin intelligence during the campaign, whether or not Gates knew that.

This blows the lid off one of Trump’s main defenses against the Russia allegations: that Mueller’s indictments against campaign officials, and subsequent guilty pleas, have nothing to do with Trump or collusion.

Trump initially tried to deny Russia was behind foreign election interference at all despite receiving briefings during the election saying so. And as the Mueller indictments stacked up, he and his defenders tried to claim the charges Mueller has brought have “nothing to do” with Trump, or with Russian collusion.

Until now, this defense, though implausible, was not entirely disproven. Manafort and Gates were indicted for money laundering and fraud, not conspiring with Russia per se. George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, like van der Zwaan, both pled guilty to lying to investigators, not any criminal activity involving Russia itself. And while Mueller did indict 13 Russians for election interference, he did not directly allege in the indictment that they had inside help.

But Mueller’s new allegation is impossible to brush aside. He believes at least one member of Trump’s team knowingly worked with someone linked to the Kremlin, during the 2016 election campaign. So Trump can no longer say the investigation has nothing to do with Russia collusion.

As Mueller uncovers the truth little by little, Trump’s team has had to move the goalposts again and again. There is now little left that they can deny happened — and there are few publicly known facts left that they can defend.
https://shareblue.com/mueller-russia-co ... rump-lies/

Yesterday’s news that Rick Gates and Alex Van Der Zwaan believed that Konstantin Kilimnik, the Oleg Deripaska crony with whom they were engaging through the entire period Manafort and Gates were working on the Trump campaign, was a current or former Russian military intelligence agent, should put that canard to rest. As the government sentencing memo in Van Der Zwaan’s plea explains,



MUELLER PREPARES TO REVEAL THE FIRST CARDS IN THE HACK-AND-LEAK CONSPIRACY

March 28, 2018/24 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
For weeks, I’ve been having a persistent exchange with people, including editors. They say there’s no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russians. I say it wouldn’t be collusion anyway, but conspiracy. They say there’s no evidence of conspiracy either. Then I point to Rick Gates’ guilty plea on conspiracy to defraud the US. I note that Gates effectively pled guilty to hiding the fact that he and Paul Manafort were working for pro-Russian Ukrainians while pretending to be engaging in politics for independent reasons. My interlocutors always say, in spite of the fact that Mueller has always insisted this went through the election period, that that doesn’t have anything to do with the election.

Yesterday’s news that Rick Gates and Alex Van Der Zwaan believed that Konstantin Kilimnik, the Oleg Deripaska crony with whom they were engaging through the entire period Manafort and Gates were working on the Trump campaign, was a current or former Russian military intelligence agent, should put that canard to rest. As the government sentencing memo in Van Der Zwaan’s plea explains,

That Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent to the investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel’s Office assess that Person A has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016. During his first interview with the Special Counsel’s Office, van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU.

Worse still, and less commented on in the coverage of this, at some point, Kilimnik actually worked for Manafort’s company!

Person A worked with Manafort and Gates in connection with their Ukraine lobbying work. Person A is a foreign national and was a close business colleague of Manafort and Gates. He worked in Ukraine at Manafort’s company Davis Manafort International, LLC (DMI).


So Manafort either still was or had employed a person that the FBI believes still works for the intelligence agency behind the hack-and-leak of Hillary Clinton’s emails (the same agency, as I keep pointing out, that Sergei Skripal shared secrets about with the Brits), and that’s one of the things Manafort and Gates were hiding all the way through their election work by not disclosing who they were really working for on the Ukrainian lobbying.

That seems like pretty significant evidence in the hack-and-leak conspiracy.

Still, commentators seem to miss some of what is going on with this disclosure, made to ensure that Van Der Zwaan gets prison time for actions that (as I’ll return to, probably next week) make Van Der Zwaan look far sketchier than even his plea does.

Mueller’s team (effectively, the same prosecutors who are prosecuting Manafort, with one junior prosecutor added) filed this sentencing memo on March 27. Last week, the same folks filed a request for extra time to respond to Manafort’s various challenges to his prosecution so far: a challenge to Mueller’s jurisdiction in this matter (arguing it’s outside the scope of what Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to do), as well as two challenges to the way he was charged. In their motion (which Manafort did not oppose), they asked for an extension from March 28 — yesterday — to April 2 for their response to Manafort’s challenge to Mueller’s authority, and two more days for the challenge to how he was charged. Significantly, they asked for the extension because 1) they were busy with other matters preparing this case for trial and 2) they needed to sit down with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to work out how they were going to respond to the challenge to Mueller’s authority.

Under that schedule, the government’s response to [the challenge to Mueller’s authority] would be due on April 2 and the government’s response to [the challenge to how he was charged] would be due on April 4, 2018. The additional time is needed because the government is preparing its responses while conducting other matters to prepare this case for trial and because one of the responses—involving the challenge to the Special Counsel’s authority to conduct this prosecution—requires the Special Counsel to coordinate closely with other interested components of the Department of Justice, including the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, who is the Acting Attorney General for this case.


Understand, while these are totally valid challenges in their own right, the special counsel challenge, especially, is unlikely to succeed, not least because of the strong precedent in the Scooter Libby case, so long as Mueller shows how Rosenstein approved his actions and agreed they were related to the hack-and-leak case. That said — and the real reason Manafort’s team challenged Mueller’s authority — by laying out how Manafort’s efforts to hide who he’s actually working for and the overwhelming debt that led Manafort to trade influence with Trump to obtain loans to stave off bankruptcy relate to the hack-and-leak and therefore legitimately arose out of that investigation, Mueller will have to disclose a significant part of his theory of the case.

Effectively, Manafort is doing this in significant part to understood how much Mueller understands about the conspiracy as it pertains to the hack-and-leak.

Manafort made a similar (and equally justifiable) demand yesterday for unredacted versions of the search warrants against him, again, to understand more about the investigation and case against him.

Manafort is likely doing this for two reasons. First, to weigh whether he wants to flip on Trump, while he still can. And relatedly, to reveal to Trump where Mueller is going, and how much it implicates things Trump and his family members have done. This is Manafort’s bid to change the momentum in this case, which is now all working against him.

It has been clear for some time that Mueller has been trying to line up as many cooperating witnesses as he can and obtain evidence in the case in chief without revealing to Trump details that will make Trump do something rash, like firing Mueller and/or pardoning Manafort and all his spawn. Manafort has, unsurprisingly, employed various tactics to undermine Mueller’s ability to implement his timing strategy unchallenged. This one is a legitimate tactic bolstered by his trial schedule.

So faced with the deadline to lay out how the Ukrainian lobbying relates to Manafort’s involvement in the hack-and-leak, Mueller asked for a slight delay. One thing he did in that slight delay was reveal that he knows that Rick Gates knows that Konstanin Kilimnik — who was working with Gates to try to delay the disclosure of how Gates and Manafort had screwed over Ukraine before the election, and was trying to help Manafort spin his prosecution as recently as November — is or was part of the same intelligence agency behind the hack-and-leak conspiracy.

Surely Mueller’s team knew they were going reveal this detail in the sentencing memo, and the certainty that Mueller would provide such details may be why Manafort agreed to the delay.

Mueller just revealed that at the same time GRU was implementing a hack-and-leak campaign designed to hurt or defeat Ukrainian hawk Hillary Clinton, a current or former GRU official was also conspiring to prevent or delay (until after the election) full disclosure of how GRU and Russia conspired with Trump’s campaign manager and his deputy to tamper in Ukrainian affairs.

At the same time GRU was tampering in our election, GRU was conspiring with Trump’s campaign manager to hide how they had conspired to tamper in Ukrainian democracy as well.

The other thing Mueller did with the delay is win one more day before the grand jury.

I’m vacationing in an undisclosed location right now, writing this while the spouse sleeps so he doesn’t accuse me of failing vacation, hoping to hell none of this breaks while I’m still supposed to be relaxing. But it seems like a whole lot is going to start breaking on Monday.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/03/28/m ... onspiracy/



FBI looked into Trump plans to build hotel in Latvia with Putin supporter

Exclusive: US authorities made inquiries even before 2016 election campaign into Trump property dealings in former Soviet Union

Jon SwaineThu 29 Mar 2018 01.00 EDT

They wanted to build the Las Vegas of the Baltics.

In 2010, a small group of businessmen including a wealthy Russian supporter of Vladimir Putin began working on plans to build a glitzy hotel and entertainment complex with Donald Trump in Riga, the capital of Latvia.

A senior Trump executive visited the city to scout for locations. Trump and his daughter Ivanka spent hours at Trump Tower with the Russian, Igor Krutoy, who also knows compatriots involved in arranging a fateful meeting at the same building during the 2016 US election campaign.

Then the Latvian government’s anti-corruption bureau began asking questions.

The Guardian has learned that talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Krutoy and another of the businessmen were questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry there – and that the FBI later looked into Trump’s interactions with them at Latvia’s request.

Those involved deny that the inquiry was to blame for the deal’s collapse.

Latvia asked the US for assistance in 2014 and received a response from the FBI the following year, according to a source familiar with the process. Latvian investigators also examined secret recordings in which Trump was mentioned by a suspect.

This means the FBI looked into Trump’s efforts to do business deals in the former Soviet Union earlier than was widely known. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is now investigating other Trump dealings with Russians as part of his wide-ranging criminal inquiry into alleged collusion between Moscow and members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team.

The Riga developers saw their potential partner in New York as a ticket to lucrative western revenues.

“They were very proud to be talking with Trump,” said Andrejs Judins, a Latvian Unity party MP, who has been a vocal critic of the prosecutor general’s decision to close the corruption inquiry in 2016 without pursuing charges.

Krutoy, a well-known composer in Russia, has written music for Emin Agalarov, the Russian singer whose father hosted Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow. Krutoy attended the contest, where he was photographed with Trump.

Emin once named Krutoy as one of his closest friends in music. Public records show the Krutoys and the Agalarovs owned neighbouring houses in New Jersey in the 1990s, and now own condominiums in the same luxury complex in Florida. Krutoy said he considered the Agalarovs as acquaintances rather than friends.

Igor Krutoy, Donald Trump and Aleksander Serov in Moscow during the festivities around Miss Universe 2013.

In June 2016, the Agalarovs were involved in setting up a meeting at Trump Tower with senior campaign officials that is now a flashpoint for Mueller’s investigation. Emin’s manager emailed Donald Trump Jr beforehand to say the Agalarovs had dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Trump Jr responded enthusiastically.

Krutoy, 63, was a celebrity representative for Putin’s 2018 election campaign and has received major state honours from the Russian government for his music.

He was born in Ukraine and is also a close friend of Rinat Akhmetov – a Ukrainian steel tycoon who in 2005 hired Paul Manafort, Trump’s future campaign chairman, as an adviser. Krutoy said he did not know Manafort, who has been charged by Mueller with financial crimes and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Yet Trump’s brush with Krutoy has gone largely unnoticed amid intense scrutiny of the president’s financial links to Russia, which is accused by US intelligence agencies of attacking the US election system in 2016 in an effort to help elect Trump.

The Latvian talks began without fanfare. David Orowitz, Trump’s senior vice-president for acquisitions and development, discreetly visited Latvia in September 2010 to explore locations, according to one source. The island of Zakusala, in Riga’s Daugava river, emerged as the likeliest site.


Viesturs Koziols shakes hands with Donald Trump. Photograph: Vip Invest

In June 2011, Krutoy and two associates met Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka, at Trump Tower in Manhattan to discuss the possible development, according to Krutoy and Viesturs Koziols, a well-connected Latvian businessman who was one of the other attendees. Ivanka Trump is now a senior White House adviser.

The businessmen were also ushered in to see Ivanka’s father in his office, they said. Koziols said the meetings were scheduled for 40 minutes but lasted four hours.

“We had an extraordinarily good meeting with Ivanka,” said Koziols, who added that he and Donald Trump “shook hands as possible partners”.

The discussions centred around developing a permanent venue for New Wave, an annual musical talent contest that Krutoy co-founded. A comparison with Las Vegas was made in an attempt to catch Trump’s eye, according to one person familiar with the discussions.

“The idea was that we could use the hotel during the festival for the singers and musicians, and we could use the concert hall for performances,” Krutoy told the Guardian.

Krutoy flew to Riga and in July gave a press conference about the Trump talks alongside Ainārs Šlesers, a flamboyant Latvian businessman and former deputy prime minister, who was assisting the efforts to secure Trump’s involvement.

“By attracting the attention of such a serious investor like Trump, we can think about directing New Wave towards a western European audience,” Krutoy said at the time.

Šlesers said in August 2011 that he, too, met Trump in New York and discussed the Riga collaboration “several times” with Ivanka Trump. Detailed plans went back and forth with the Trump Organization, which signaled a willingness to press ahead, according to one person involved.

During the following weeks, however, difficulties arose. Krutoy was called in for questioning by Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB), which had recently embarked on an investigation that became known locally as the “Oligarchs Case”. No allegations were made against Krutoy, he was never charged, and he denied any wrongdoing.

But Šlesers was a central figure in the inquiry, suspected of using public office to influence decisions on property developments benefiting companies he secretly owned. He and Koziols were also questioned in 2011. They denied any wrongdoing and were not charged. Šlesers did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Discussions with the Trumps about developing the complex in Riga ground to a halt. People who were involved deny that the KNAB investigation was to blame. Koziols said he and his associates simply could not secure enough external financing.

During a visit to Riga in May 2012, Donald Trump Jr acknowledged that his family had explored the potential Lat