NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Investiga

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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:58 pm

Trump and the Russia Money

Evan Vucci
ByJOSH MARSHALL

PublishedAPRIL 17, 2017, 5:14 PM EDT
Folks following the Trump/Russia story have been talking about this article in the British Prospect, an interview with Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 (1999-2004), the UK’s analogue to the CIA. The attention has been on this passage of the interview in which Dearlove talks about or speculates about whether Donald Trump may have been bailed out by loans from Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union during the 2008 financial crisis.

So [Dearlove’s] seen it all before. But the allegations that members of Trump’s staff had illegal contact with the Russian government during the election campaign are “unprecedented,” said Dearlove. As for the president’s personal position, he said, “What lingers for Trump may be what deals—on what terms—he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money when others in the west apparently would not lend to him.”

This is quite an interesting comment, to say the least.

But there are a few caveats to consider. Dearlove hasn’t been in government since 2004. Former top spies tend to remain fairly in the know, at least informally. But Dearlove was not in office during either of the key points, not in 2008 or 2016. More importantly, the interview as a whole is only partly about Trump and to the extent it is about him it’s about him as part of the ‘nationalist’ wave sweeping the EU and US, not about the Russia story itself. Finally, is Dearlove sharing some authoritative information, things he’s seen suggested or simple speculation?

I don’t have answers to any of these questions. It’s all rather unexplained, just put out there. Still, it’s relatively specific on 2008 as a crisis point. We are now led to believe that British intelligence was the first to get wind – in late 2015 – of questionable contacts between members of the Trump entourage and Russian intelligence operatives. So what are we to make of this suggestion?

First, it broadly lines up with a lot that we know. Before the ties between Trump and Russia became a story in 2016, it was already widely known that Trump had been effectively blackballed by all the big US banks for years. Deutschebank, which is of course a German bank, has been the only major bank to continue loaning Trump money for about twenty years. So we know most big banks wouldn’t lend to Trump well before 2008. So that part largely checks out.



We also know that in the decade before he ran for President, Trump became increasingly reliant on money out of the former Soviet Union. This was both for purchases of apartment units, to fund major projects like Trump Soho, in Lower Manhattan, in addition to many other projects.

We are close to adding the first members of our expanded investigative team to dig into stories just like this. And high on my list is putting together a comprehensive timeline of the myriad Russian connections Trump managed to put together over the last two decades. You can know almost countless individual stories, nuggets of information, clues and pieces of evidence. But sometimes seeing it all visualized is key to really understanding what’s going on. I’m eager to see that visualization.

Dearlove points to 2008, an economic crisis when lots of individuals and companies teetered on the edge of bankruptcy or collapse. My impression however, is that Trump starts really building up the big Russia ties a few years earlier – in the 2003-2006 period. Lots of the stories and connections you’ve likely heard about, they trail back to those years. There are some that come long before and others that come after. But it’s in that period when lots of different deals, connections, business partnerships and so forth come together. In other words, Trump seems to have had a lot of the relationships and partnerships and money flows in place a good couple years before 2008. Of course that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have drawn on those connections to weather 2008 too.

Of course, this may end up coming back to projects like Trump SoHo itself. It was happening during the financial crisis and seemed to get various infusions of money out of Russia to keep it moving forward. Quite a lot more digging is required to get to the bottom of Trump’s business dealings with Russia sources of money during the W. Bush and Obama eras. We still only know the outlines. Perhaps Dearlove knows more.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:30 pm

General Discussion thread



Why did FBI suspect Trump campaign adviser was a foreign agent?
BY KEVIN G. HALL
khall@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON
He has a lengthy military background, academic credentials and, until recently, a largely apolitical financial career.

But now, Carter Page is a central character in the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the United States election. And this week, it was disclosed that he’s been under Justice Department surveillance because of suspicions he acted as a foreign agent.

In an interview Friday where he revealed new information about his military intelligence experience, the evasive Page said he had no idea why the Justice Department sought powers to surveil him.

“Let’s see what’s in this application (to the court) and we’ll see what comes out, because I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Donald Trump announced in March 2016 that Page was one of his campaign’s foreign-policy advisers. Yet Page has for months refused to say who brought him into the campaign. On CNN earlier this week, he ruled out former campaign chief Paul Manafort as his conduit. Manafort himself faces questions about Russia ties. And Page told McClatchy last month that he had never met former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, fired for not being forthcoming about Russia ties.

Page told McClatchy on Friday that he has offered to testify before congressional panels investigating links between Russia and the Trump campaign. He remains involved in Russia through his investment firm Global Energy Capital LLC, which focuses on energy investment and advisory services in developing markets.

The company is privately held, so Page doesn’t disclose his investors. It has a small internet footprint; for example, in online documents, it doesn’t appear as a partner of other companies that file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

What little is known about it comes from a June 9, 2008, confidential cable to the State Department from the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan. It details how Page and his then-partner James Richard had visited the embassy in Ashgabat three days earlier while attending an oil conference. The cable said the pair had met with the deputy prime minister for oil and were looking to assemble an investment fund of $1 billion.

The cable noted that the pair had offered to invest in state companies to make them “substantially more powerful than they currently are.” Page had described his work in Moscow, the cable said, as having helped take Russia’s Gazprom from a normal state oil company to “super major status.”

Page wanted to attract global investors to energy projects in former Soviet republics. That Turkmenistan project never got off the ground, he confirmed Friday, clarifying that he is involved in energy projects in the United States and globally, not just Russia.

So what were the Justice Department’s reasons for spying on Page, a U.S. citizen and military veteran? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court documents are secret, but privacy advocates have long complained that the bar for surveillance is too low.

From June 8 to Dec. 31, 2015, the last period for which data is available, there were 1,010 applications for authority to surveil; all but five were approved. Another 169 were accepted after modification.

Page did have what he describes as an unwitting exchange with a spy who said he was a Russian United Nations official. Page confirmed that he cooperated with the FBI in its prosecution of a Russian intelligence operative and two other Russian agents. In an April 3 statement, Page said he had shared parts of a lecture that amounted to publicly available information with a person he thought was a U.N. official.

Page also received largely unreported attention from nationalist organizations within Russia that could have invited scrutiny. The Moscow television station Tsargrad covered him before, during and after his speech to the New Economic School in Moscow. Tsargrad is owned by right-wing nationalist Konstantin Malofeev, who was sanctioned by the Obama administration and European allies for allegedly bankrolling Russian nationalists in the Crimean peninsula, which was seized by Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s forces in February 2014.

Tsargrad is affiliated with a nationalist think tank called Katehon, also funded by Malofeev. Tsargrad’s editor in chief is Aleksander Dugin, a conservative sage who wrote confidently on Katehon’s website in February 2016 that Trump’s nationalist message would carry him to the U.S. presidency.

Page said Friday that he did not know Malofeev or Dugin, but they seemed to have taken special interest in him. Both are long allied with Putin.

“Konstantin Malofeev served as one of the chief financiers of Russian mercenaries fighting against the Ukrainian government. He was sanctioned by the United States for directly aiding and abetting Russia’s proxies,” said Mike Carpenter, deputy assistant defense secretary from 2015 until last January and a Russia specialist.

As a leader of the Eurasian Youth Movement, Dugin mobilized Russian volunteers to fight in Ukraine alongside Russian forces and Russian-backed separatists, said Carpenter, for which the United States sanctioned him.

Page’s speech in Moscow last July 7 drew this commentary on the Katehon website:

“After the reunification of Crimea with Russia and the beginning of operations in Ukraine, he was one of the few American experts who called for understanding the actions of Russia. Page came out openly against the interventionist policy of NATO, which, in his opinion, provoked Russia with its expansion.”

It was the speech, and media reaction in the United States – fanned by the Hillary Clinton campaign, insists Page – that led to Page’s separation from the campaign weeks later.

Page played a minor role in the campaign, said Sam Nunberg, a senior Trump strategist in 2015, adding that “now he’s a major liability. Free advice to Carter Page: Stay off of TV.”

Page took to TV news shows this week to push back on allegations that he has improper ties to Russia. He often refuses to answer questions.

The authority to surveil Page, reported first by The Washington Post on Tuesday, came in August after Page had stepped down from the Trump campaign, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

That Page is caught up in international intrigue doesn’t surprise Ian Bremmer, who runs the risk-analysis firm Eurasia Group. Page worked with him briefly as a researcher about 16 years ago.

“He struck me as extremely smart, but . . . I came to realize quite quickly pro-Kremlin,” Bremmer recalled in an interview last month.

In the late 1990s being pro-Kremlin was not unusual; even President Bill Clinton had a tight relationship with his Russian then-counterpart, Boris Yeltsin.

At the time, the Council on Foreign Relations had awarded Page one of its prized international affairs fellowships. The organization confirmed to McClatchy that Page was one of 11 who won the fellowship for the 1998-99 year, spending his time in residence at the council’s New York offices.

“I remember his being an appealing candidate for one of these difficult-to-get fellowships,” said a person who sat on the selection committee, who spoke only anonymously because selection is a private matter.

What attracted the committee, said the panel member, was Page’s assertion that he worked in military intelligence, stationed in the Western Sahara. This does not appear in any of Page’s personal or professional accounts, but Page confirmed Friday that he worked in Western Morocco as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.

At the Naval Academy, Page was a Trident Scholar, a prestigious designation that allowed him to serve as a researcher his senior year on the House Armed Services Committee. The scholarship put him in the office of Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wis., shortly before the congressman became Clinton’s defense secretary. Page also said he had served multiple tours in the Middle East and Europe as a surface warfare officer, and that he had later worked in the Pentagon on nuclear nonproliferation matters.

Page is also a frequent visitor to Moscow.

A person who has long known Page said that, while living in Moscow, Page dated a Russian ballet dancer but otherwise rarely shared details of his personal life. This longtime acquaintance was “dumbfounded” when the generally apolitical Page joined the Trump campaign team and echoed Trump’s admiration of Putin.

“I found the speech (in Russia) breathtaking in terms of his criticisms of the U.S., and of his love affair with Russia,” the acquaintance said.

Fast-forward to Jan. 10, when the online news site BuzzFeed published the 35-page private intelligence dossier compiled by a former British spy, Christopher Steele. It featured unsubstantiated claims of collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin. And it alleged that Page had met with Igor Sechin, the powerful chief of oil giant Rosneft. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed that allegation as “crap.”

The most explosive allegation about Page: Sechin offered him the right to broker a 19 percent stake in Rosneft if the Trump administration lifted financial sanctions on Russia.

“Come on now. We need to move on and look at real issues,” Page said when asked about that allegation.

The dossier’s references to Page re-emerged in news reports after former KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in a Moscow alley on Dec. 26. The first news reports in Russia indicated he’d been murdered, then were changed to say he had died of a heart attack.

Erovinkin was a top aide to Sechin and was believed to be a go-between for his boss and Putin. His death drew attention in the British media in late January because the former KGB man fit the description of an informant mentioned in Steele’s dossier.

Page addressed the issue Friday, saying he never met Erovinkin and does not recall ever being in his presence but that perhaps he was at some conference or cocktail party at the same time Page was.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:03 pm

Page’s speech in Moscow last July 7 drew this commentary on the Katehon website:

“After the reunification of Crimea with Russia and the beginning of operations in Ukraine, he was one of the few American experts who called for understanding the actions of Russia. Page came out openly against the interventionist policy of NATO, which, in his opinion, provoked Russia with its expansion.”


Maybe if you restrict "American experts" to the think-tank power-elite policy-making media-circuit echo chamber. Your average political science department has zero influence, but probably a few experts.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:53 pm

NEWS PHOTO APR 18 2017, 9:39 AM ET
Guess Who Came to Dinner With Flynn and Putin
by ROBERT WINDREM

Image
The head table of a gala celebrating the tenth anniversary of Russia Today in December of 2015 included Russian President Vladimir Putin and American retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file
It was a (red) star-studded affair, the December 2015 dinner celebrating the 10th birthday of Russian TV network RT. At a luxe Moscow hotel, President Vladimir Putin and a host of Russian luminaries toasted a state-backed news channel that U.S. intelligence calls a Kremlin mouthpiece.

And next to Putin at the head table, in the seat of honor, was an American. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would later become Donald Trump's national security adviser, was already advising Trump's presidential campaign when he was paid $45,000 to speak at the gala.

"It is not coincidence that Flynn was placed next to President Putin," said Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador in Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and now an NBC News analyst. "Flynn was considered a close Trump adviser. Why else would they want him there?"

Flynn's Moscow jaunt, like his oddly timed phone chats with the Russian ambassador, has been well reported. But who else came to dinner on Dec. 10, 2015? An NBC News review of video and photos from the RT gala shows a healthy serving of ex-spies, cronies and oligarchs, with a side of friendly journalists and another American.

Flynn was one of 10 people at the head table, including the Kremlin's top leadership. Three of the Russians, including Putin, were under U.S. sanctions at the time for their role in Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Image
Dmitry Peskov and Sergey Ivanov
Sergey Ivanov (right), then Putin's chief of staff, sat directly across the table from Flynn at the gala. To his left, is Putin's nominal spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who U.S. officials say is really the Russian president's de facto national security adviser. RT
Sergey Ivanov, then Putin's chief of staff, sat directly across the table from Flynn. A former KGB general who at one point ran KGB operations in Africa, he has also served as Russian defense minister and deputy prime minister. Ivanov had been under U.S. and European sanctions for a year and a half by the date of the dinner.

Next to Ivanov was Dmitry Peskov, nominally Putin's spokesman, but more importantly his de facto national security adviser, say U.S. officials. Like almost everyone at the head table that night, he speaks perfect English.

Flanking Putin on his right, two seats from Flynn, sat Alexey Gromov, Putin's deputy chief of staff. U.S. intelligence considers Gromov to be Putin's head propagandist. According to the January 6 Intelligence Community report on Russian interference in the U.S. election, "Gromov oversees political coverage on TV, and he has periodic meetings with media managers where he shares classified information and discusses their coverage plans."

He's also been accused by U.S. intelligence of "ordering media attacks on opposition figures." He has worked directly for the Russian president, first in the Press Office, then as press attache and, since 2008, as deputy chief of staff. He too was on U.S. and European sanctions the day of the dinner.
Image
Margarita Simonyan
Margarita Simonyan is a personal friend of Putin, and worked in one of his presidential campaigns before being chosen to head RT. She took Putin's seat next to Flynn when Putin went to the stage to speak. RT
After Putin got up to make his speech, his place at Flynn's side was taken by Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief. She is also editor-in-chief of Rossiya Segodnya, a state-owned and operated Russian news agency created by Putin. A personal friend of Putin, she worked in one of his presidential campaigns before being chosen by Gromov to head RT. The U.S. intelligence assessment of RT paints Simonyan as the lead person, along with Gromov, engaging in "information warfare" against U.S. policies. She is described as "closely tied to, controlled by the Kremlin."

In his dinner speech, Putin praised RT for its objectivity, disclaiming any influence on its coverage.

Next to Simonyan was the night's biggest global cultural celebrity, acclaimed director Emir Kusturica, who has twice won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Born a Muslim in Bosnia, he converted to Orthodox Christianity and is a Putin booster. Putin awarded him the Russian Order of Friendship in 2016. Of Putin, Kusturica once said, "If I was English, I would be very much against him. I was an American, I would even fight with him. But if I was Russian, I would vote for him."

Kusturica's wife, seated next to him, was the only spouse at the head table.

Also at the head table were three western politicians. Willy Wimmer, a former member of the German Bundestag who is often critical of U.S. foreign policy; Cyril Svoboda, former deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and interior minister of the Czech Republic, and two-time U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, the only American besides Flynn at the head table.
Image
Willy Wimmer, Jill Stein
Willy Wimmer, left, is a former member of the German Bundestag who is often critical of U.S. foreign policy. Two-time U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was the only American besides Flynn at the head table. RT
Stein's 2016 campaign was heavily promoted by RT. She hasn't spoken much about the RT dinner, but in an interview with NBC News last fall, she deflected questions about her appearance, instead chastising the U.S. media for not paying attention to her campaign while RT gave it a lot more attention.

"And my own connection to RT, you know ironically, it takes a Russian television station to actually be open to independent candidates in this country and that is a shame. A shameful commentary on our own media," she told NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald.

(Stein did well enough to help Russia achieve its aims. Her vote totals in the crucial states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan were all greater than Clinton's margin of defeat, and arguably denied Clinton an Electoral College victory.)

Beyond the head table, Russia's oligarchs filled many of the seats.

Seated at a corner table was Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets who ran against Putin as the designated liberal candidate in 2012 (and whose offices were raided by Russian security last April). Prokhorov is now on the outs with Putin. Next to him was Viktor Vekselberg, whose billions are in oil and aluminum and who is a business partner of Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the owner of the world's largest collection of Faberge eggs.
Image
Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets
Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the Brooklyn Nets, ran against against Vladimir Putin as the designated liberal candidate in 2012. To the right of Prokhorov is fellow billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, an oil and aluminum magnate who is a business partner of Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. RT
At the table behind Putin's was Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist Party ruler of the Soviet Union, along with Artur Chilingarov, polar explorer and federal senator. Nearby, there was Arkady Mamontov, a famous TV host who said that a massive meteor strike that injured nearly 1,500 people in 2013 was God's vengeance on Russia's gay rights movement.

There was Tina Kandelaki, a socialite and award-winning TV host who's appeared on the covers of the Russian versions of Playboy, InStyle, and Maxim — and ran an international marketing operation for the AK-47, calling it an instrument of peace.

Unable to attend in person was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who formerly hosted his own show on RT. Instead, he appeared via satellite as host of one of the 10th anniversary event's seminars, where he lamented the end of privacy.
Image

Tina Kandelaki has appeared on the covers of the Russian versions of Playboy, InStyle, and Maxim and ran an international marketing operation for the AK-47, calling the gun an instrument of peace. RT
'A Great Learning Opportunity'
Flynn had already been a frequent guest on RT in the months prior to the dinner.

In an interview with Dana Priest of the Washington Post in August 2016, Flynn talked about why he accepted such a starring role. He said he didn't ask for it, that the Russians sat him next to Putin.

"I was one of the guests there. ... Some interesting characters. I found it a great learning opportunity. One of the things I learned was that Putin has no respect for the United States leadership. Not for the United States, but the leadership."

When Putin finished his speech that night, Flynn was among the first to leap to his feet and offer a standing ovation.

In the year following the dinner, RT was part of the Putin government's overt attempt to influence the U.S. election, according to the U.S. Intelligence Community. In the January 2017 report on Russian interference, the IC discussed the network's role at length.

Image
Mikhail Gorbachev sat a table behind Putin's. RT
"RT's criticism of the U.S. election," said the report, "was the latest facet of its broader and longer-standing anti-U.S. messaging likely aimed at undermining viewers' trust in U.S. democratic procedures and undercutting U.S. criticism of Russia's political system. RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan recently declared that the United States itself lacks democracy and that it has 'no moral right to teach the rest of the world.'"
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:06 pm

Trump Has Deep Links to Organized Crime: Federal Investigators Know It and the Public Is Catching Up
As Trump built his empire, he attracted a criminal element whose ties still bind.
By Jefferson Morley / AlterNet April 17, 2017

As President Trump discovers the prerogative of unilaterally making war, the media gaze has turned away from the ongoing FBI, House and Senate investigation of his Russia ties to the simpler dramas of cruise missiles, big bombs and tough but loose talk on North Korea.

Yet even the "mother of all bombs" cannot obliterate the accumulating body of evidence about his relationship with Russian organized crime figures and the not unrelated question about whether he and his entourage colluded with Russian officials in the 2016 presidential election. The story, notes Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, is “Hiding in plain sight."

The evidence of pre-election collusion between Trump and the Russians, while growing, is far from definitive. The evidence on Trump’s organized crime ties is stronger. Says Marshall:

"If we'd never heard about Russian intelligence hacking of the 2016 election or Carter Page or Paul Manafort or Sergei Kislyak this [Trump’s organized crime connections] would seem like an extraordinarily big deal. And indeed it is an extraordinarily big deal."

Chronologically speaking, Trump’s ties to organized crime figures came first. Mutually beneficial transactions dating back to the 1990s led to closer relations in the 2000s and culminated in the contacts during the 2016 campaign. It all began with Russians who wanted to get their money out of the country.

Hot Money

As Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, told the Bridging U.S. and Emerging Markets Real Estate conference in September 2008 (on the basis, he said, of his own “half dozen trips to Russia in 18 months”):

"[I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."

For example, David Bogatin: In the 1990s, the FBI considered Bogatin one of the key members of a major Russian organized crime family run by a legendary boss named Semion Mogilevich. According to the late investigative reporter Wayne Barrett, Bogatin owned five separate condos in Trump Tower that Trump had reportedly personally sold to him.

Vyacheslav Ivankov, another Mogilevich lieutenant in the United States during the 1990s, also resided for a time at Trump Tower and reportedly had in his personal phone book the private telephone and fax numbers for the Trump Organization’s office in that building.

Cyprus

A lot of this Russian organized crime money flowed through Cyprus and one of its largest banks, the Bank of Cyprus. The bank's chairman, Wilbur Ross, is now U.S. secretary of commerce. When senators considering Ross’ nomination asked about Cyprus, Ross said Trump had forbidden him from answering questions on the subject.

Not coincidentally, Illinois congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, recently traveled to Cyprus to investigate, according to the Daily Beast.


“The fact that Turkey, the U.S. and Russia and other countries are really interested in Cyprus, because of its strategic location… the fact that Russians launder their money there to avoid sanctions, and the fact that key U.S. and Russia players were there—all make it really important for the Russia investigation,” Quigley explained in an interview.

Cyprus is also a focus of U.S. authorities investigating Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, whose curious real estate transactions in New York are drawing attention, according to radio station WNYC:

"Nine current and former law enforcement and real estate experts told WNYC that Manafort’s deals merit scrutiny. Some said the purchases follow a pattern used by money launderers: buying properties with all cash through shell companies, then using the properties to obtain 'clean' money through bank loans."

According to the Associated Press, the records of Manafort's Cypriot transactions were requested by the U.S. Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which works internationally with agencies to track money laundering and the movement of illicit funds around the globe.

Meetings and Plans

Trump White House officials, skittish about such reports, balked when Russian banker Aleksander Torshin was scheduled to meet President Trump in February. Torshin is the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. He has cultivated Washington conservatives such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and former National Rifle Association president David Keene.

Torshin has also been targeted by a long-running Spanish police investigation into a Russian organized crime syndicate known as the Taganskaya. The White House canceled Torshin’s meeting with Trump rather than “exacerbate the political controversy over contacts between Trump associates and the Kremlin,” reported Yahoo News' Mike Isikoff.

Also in February, Trump received a proposed peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, offered by his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and two Russians with organized crime convictions: Felix H. Sater, a business associate who once helped Trump scout deals in Russia; and Andrey Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Manafort. The plan also would have lifted U.S. sanctions on Russia, a prime goal of the Putin government.

Sater pleaded guilty to a role in a stock manipulation scheme decades ago that involved the Mafia. Artemenko spent two and a half years in jail in Kiev in the early 2000s on embezzlement charges, later dropped, which he said had been politically motivated.

Big Picture


The sheer proliferation of such contact indicates, at a minimum, that Russian organized crime figures felt comfortable in the Trump milieu.

Jonathan Winer, former deputy assistant secretary of state for law enforcement in the Clinton administration, says he was investigating Semion Mogilevich 20 years ago when the "brainy don" (as he was known) pioneered the laundering of criminal proceeds through quasi-legitimate companies in the United States, especially in high-end real estate.

Winer finds it "disturbing" that Mogilevich's associates have done business with Trump. He told a Washington conference earlier this month:

"Imagine you’re a foreign government and you want to launder money for domestic espionage operations in the United States. [High-end real estate] would be a great way to do it. It was the method used by Colombian drug traffickers all over Latin America and Miami in the 1980s and 1990s. It's a form that Russian organized crime has used... All of a sudden we’re starting to see the same kind of patterns involving some criminal people and some Russian officials showing up in current investigations with Trump properties."

The story right now, he says, is "confusing as hell." The key, he explains, is the pattern.

"These ties link up, coalesce, organize and resolve," Winer says. These are "relationships that make some sense. So we need to get below what we can see on the surface and see what actually happened.... I don't know who's going to be indicted, but boy, do I know this: the American people needs to get the facts, and then justice can be done."
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017
byCommon Dreams
Lawsuit Against Trump Grows to Encompass More Violations—and Plaintiffs
As of Tuesday, the lawsuit against President Donald Trump lists "gratuitous Chinese trademarks" as among his potential constitutional violations
byDeirdre Fulton, staff writer

The Trump hotel in Washington, D.C. has been the site of many protests, and foreign visits, since the president took office. (Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr/cc)
The lawsuit charging President Donald Trump is in violation of the U.S. Constitution by accepting benefits or gifts from foreign governments through his hotel properties expanded in multiple ways on Tuesday.

For one thing, the lawsuit—filed on Trump's first full business day in office by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)—now lists "gratuitous Chinese trademarks" among its alleged violations, stating:

Despite denying Defendant trademark protection for over ten years, including in a ruling from an appellate court, and despite China's law barring the use of foreign leaders' names as trademarks, China gave Defendant the trademark he had requested and valued. However, China only gave the trademark protection to Defendant after he had been elected President, questioned the One China policy, was sworn in, and re-affirmed the One China policy.

Last month, China awarded the Trump business empire 38 trademarks, covering everything from hotels and golf clubs to bodyguard and concierge services. At the time, AP noted that Trump initially applied for those trademarks while publicly campaigning that he would penalize China economically. Since becoming president, his stance has softened significantly.

"Our standing to bring this suit is now irrefutable. That means that Donald Trump will have no choice but to defend his unprecedented conflicts of interest in court."
—Deepak Gupta, Gupta Wessler PLLC
"When asked why Defendant changed his position on the One China policy, and whether he had gotten something in exchange from China, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer answered: 'The President always gets something,' but did not specify what concession was obtained from China," the amended complaint reads.

(The development comes on the same day as news outlets reported China approved three trademarks for Ivanka Trump's business on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.)

The CREW lawsuit also now includes two additional plaintiffs—Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, an association comprising more than 25,000 restaurant workers and restaurants, and Washington, D.C.-based events booker Jill Phaneuf.

They allege lost business, as foreign governments book events at Trump properties in a possible attempt to curry favor with the president, according to a statement from CREW.

"Undoubtedly, if foreign governments feel compelled to use Trump establishments over other restaurants...it hurts the restaurant industry," said ROC United co-founder and co-director Saru Jayaraman on Tuesday. "ROC United stands with CREW to tell the president that the age of unconstitutionality is over."

Added Phaneuf: "This isn't about politics, I'm a registered Republican and I believe nothing is more important that our Constitutional protections. I joined this lawsuit because the president is taking business away from me and others with unfair business practices that violate the Constitution."

Those representing the plaintiffs said the case against Trump is becoming more iron-clad. "These are real businesses suffering real injury," said Deepak Gupta of the firm Gupta Wessler PLLC. "Our standing to bring this suit is now irrefutable. That means that Donald Trump will have no choice but to defend his unprecedented conflicts of interest in court."

Meanwhile, the Justice Department hinted to the New York Times how it might respond to the lawsuit. As the Times reported:

Justice Department lawyers, who have been working for weeks on their answer to the lawsuit, plan to counter that the framers of the Constitution meant only to rule out gifts and compensation for services. The Justice Department is expected to argue that ordinary arm's length transactions for services, like the payment of a restaurant bill at a hotel, are not prohibited.

They will also contend that only Congress can intervene if a president violates either the domestic or foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution. Under the separation of powers doctrine, they argue, courts are powerless to act.

Harvard University Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, who is helping CREW with its case, called the administration's potential defense "totally lame."

"Beating them in court will be sinfully pleasurable!" he declared online.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/ ... plaintiffs


POLITICS 04/17/2017 09:46 pm ET
Report: Paul Manafort Now Advising Chinese Billionaire On Trump Infrastructure Contracts
Pacific Construction Group wants in on the president’s $1 trillion plan, the Financial Times reports.
By Mary Papenfuss

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is now advising a Chinese billionaire on how to get a piece of the business if the president successfully launches a $1 trillion U.S. infrastructure plan, the Financial Times reports.

The man booted out of his U.S. campaign slot over close ties to Russian interests reportedly met last week with Yan Jiehe, the founder of China’s Pacific Construction Group. Yan told the Financial Times in advance that the two men planned to discuss how the Chinese billionaire could profit from Trump’s prospective program to use federal funds to launch infrastructure projects.

A spokesman for Manafort initially denied to the newspaper that the meeting had anything to do with business, the Times reported. He then modified his statement, saying the meeting was “impromptu” and was added to Manafort’s China travel schedule because the Chinese “are interested in U.S. infrastructure,” spokesman Jason Maloni told the newspaper. “However, his work does not involve any current or future infrastructure projects or contracts in the United States. As he has said before, he is not engaged in government affairs or lobbying for corporations, governments or individuals.”

A source linked to Yan told the Financial Times that Manafort would return in a month for further talks.

Manafort resigned from the presidential campaign in August after it emerged that he had led lobbying efforts in the U.S. from 2010 to 2014 on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a front group for former pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Associated Press later discovered that Manafort had also been paid $10 million between 2006 and 2009 by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to promote Putin and the Russian government. Manafort wrote a memo about his plan in 2005 to obtain the contract, boasting about influencing politics and the media on Russia’s behalf in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Trump often spoke extremely positively about Putin during the campaign in a series of puzzling pronouncements.

In the wake of the Deripaska revelations in March, White House spokesman Sean Spicer attempted to downplay the importance of Manafort’s role as presidential campaign chairman, saying he had a “limited role” for “just under five months” in the campaign — a period that included the Republican National Convention, at which Trump’s GOP nomination was formalized.

Spicer denied that Trump knew anything about the $10 million contract. Manafort’s ties to Deripaska were first in the news in 2008.

Manafort is in the process of registering as a foreign agent operating in the U.S.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pau ... mg00000004



Exxon Seeks U.S. Waiver to Resume Russia Oil Venture
Exxon Mobil applied to Treasury for exemption to resume venture with Rosneft forged in 2012 by Rex Tillerson
Image
In June 2012, Russia's President Vladimir Putin (center), watched by Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin, shook hands with Rex Tillerson, who was then Exxon Mobil chief executive and is now U.S. secretary of state, at a signing ceremony at a Rosneft refinery in the Black Sea town of Tuapse..
In June 2012, Russia's President Vladimir Putin (center), watched by Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin, shook hands with Rex Tillerson, who was then Exxon Mobil chief executive and is now U.S. secretary of state, at a signing ceremony at a Rosneft refinery in the Black Sea town of Tuapse.. PHOTO: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/REUTERS
By Jay Solomon and Bradley Olson
Updated April 19, 2017 3:53 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON— Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM -0.69% has applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia in a bid to resume its joint venture with state oil giant PAO Rosneft, according to people familiar with the matter.

Exxon has been seeking U.S. permission to drill with Rosneft in several areas banned by sanctions and applied in recent months for a waiver to proceed in the Black Sea, according to these people. The company has sought approval for access to the region since at least late 2015, one person said.

The Black Sea request is likely to be closely scrutinized by members of Congress who are seeking to intensify sanctions on Russia in response to what the U.S. said was its use of cyberattacks to interfere with elections last year. Congress has also launched an investigation into whether there were ties between aides to Donald Trump and Russia’s government during the presidential campaign and the political transition.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is Exxon’s former chief executive officer and in that role forged a close working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with Rosneft, a company that is critical to Russia’s oil-reliant economy.

The State Department is among the U.S. government agencies that have a say on Exxon’s waiver application, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Mr. Tillerson is recusing himself from any matters involving Exxon for two years, and won’t be involved with any decision made by any government agency involving Exxon during this period, a State Department spokesman said.


It isn’t clear whether the request with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control was made before Mr. Tillerson joined the Trump administration. A spokesman for the Treasury Department said it doesn’t comment on waiver applications. An Exxon spokesman said the company wouldn’t discuss government deliberations on sanctions.

The sanctions affecting Rosneft involve the transfer of technology, banning U.S. companies from deals in the Arctic, Siberia and the Black Sea, areas that would require the sharing of cutting-edge drilling techniques. The sanctions, instituted after Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014, also bar dealings with Rosneft’s chief executive, Igor Sechin, saying he “has shown utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin—a key component to his current standing.”

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s oil resources have been among the most sought-after prizes by U.S. and European oil companies, and multiple U.S. presidential administrations in both parties have worked to help them enter the country. As much as 100 billion barrels of oil is believed to remain untapped in the country, but many Western companies have been stymied in their attempts to reach those reserves, often by geopolitical risks.

The 2014 sanctions effectively sidelined a landmark exploration deal Exxon, under Mr. Tillerson’s leadership, had signed with Rosneft in 2012. The deal granted Exxon access to explore in Russia’s Arctic waters, the right to drill with new technology in Siberia and the chance to explore in the deep waters of Russia’s portion of the Black Sea.

Mr. Putin said Exxon and Rosneft might invest as much as $500 billion over the life of the partnership. In 2013, the Russian leader bestowed upon Mr. Tillerson the country’s Order of Friendship in part for his role in developing the joint venture.

Exxon has reported it is exposed to losses from the Rosneft ventures of up to $1 billion before taxes, although the company has yet to recognize them on its books given its position that sanctions could be lifted.

Exxon received a U.S. waiver in September 2014, when the sanctions were first implemented and the company was working on a well in the Russian Arctic. Mr. Tillerson and other Exxon executives asked the Treasury Department and senior Obama administration officials to allow the company to complete the well, saying it wouldn’t be safe to leave before it was finished, according to people familiar with the matter. Treasury granted an extension, and the company completed drilling in October and eventually withdrew its employees from the project.

Exxon has disclosed that in 2015 and 2016, the company received a license from the Treasury Department allowing the company to undertake “limited administrative actions” in its partnership with Rosneft, according to company documents. Such permission would put Exxon in a position to move more quickly if it gets the green light to drill, according to the person familiar with the matter.

Exxon’s proposal to drill in the Black Sea has been circulated in various federal departments in recent months, several people said. Exxon is arguing that it deserves a waiver there because under its deal with Rosneft its exploration rights in the Black Sea will expire if it doesn’t act, and because some of its top foreign competitors aren’t similarly restricted.

It is unusual for a company to seek a waiver based purely on future business prospects, according to former U.S. officials. American companies often seek waivers from sanctions citing humanitarian, trade or operational issues, the officials said.

The Obama administration granted sanctions waivers to high-tech companies operating in Iran and Syria, arguing that facilitating the flow of information could help open up the repressive regimes.

Exxon opposed how the Obama administration applied sanctions on a number of its projects, according to people familiar with the matter, in part because the European Union granted waivers to its competitors to continue operating. Norway’s Statoil ASA has a waiver for Arctic drilling in the Barents Sea. Italy’s Eni SpA is allowed to operate in the Barents and Black seas, and has been aggressively exploring in cooperation with Russia.

“Exxon is worried it could get boxed out of the Black Sea by the Italians,” said a person briefed on the company’s waiver application.

The Black Sea may hold 30 billion barrels of oil, according to estimates from Russia, Turkey and Romania. Exxon has drilled there off the coast of Romania and holds a license for an area in Ukrainian waters.

Although a number of the biggest Western oil companies are seeking opportunities in the Black Sea, it remains a frontier area where few deep-water wells have been drilled, meaning estimates could change as more work is done, according to industry analysts.

Under the terms of its deal with Rosneft, Exxon needs an oil discovery in the Black Sea by the end of this year to obtain a Russian government license to drill. Unless Exxon receives approval soon, there might not be enough time to safely drill an exploratory well to be able to develop any discoveries, said oil industry experts.

Exxon has continued in recent years to drill and seek to expand its access around Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East, an area to which sanctions don’t apply.

Mr. Tillerson, before he became secretary of state, said Exxon opposes sanctions when they aren’t applied in a uniform way. But he testified during his confirmation hearings that neither he nor his former company ever lobbied against U.S. sanctions on Russia.

As secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson, following through on his pledge to recuse himself from potential Exxon-related matters, stayed out of State Department deliberations on the permit for the Keystone XL project, a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from Canada into the U.S.

Due to the sanctions, other major components of the Exxon-Rosneft agreement were put on hold in 2014, shortly before Rosneft revealed that the first well the two companies drilled together in the arctic waters of the Kara Sea may hold as much as 750 million barrels of oil.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-seek ... 1492620677
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:57 pm

Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election - documents


By Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott | WASHINGTON
A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.

Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. election. Putin’s spokesman and the Russian institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The documents were central to the Obama administration's conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton's campaign, the current and former officials said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (not pictured) in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Pavel Golovkin/Pool
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (not pictured) in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Pavel Golovkin/Pool
“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Trump has said Russia’s activities had no impact on the outcome of the race. Ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference have so far produced no public evidence that Trump associates colluded with the Russian effort to change the outcome of the election.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump’s quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Russia Today did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Sputnik dismissed the assertions by the U.S. officials that it participated in a Kremlin campaign as an “absolute pack of lies.” “And by the way, it's not the first pack of lies we're hearing from 'sources in U.S. official circles'," the spokesperson said in an email.

PRO-KREMLIN BLOGGERS

Russia Today and Sputnik published anti-Clinton stories while pro-Kremlin bloggers prepared a Twitter campaign calling into question the fairness of an anticipated Clinton victory, according to a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the election made public in January. [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]

Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video - “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to ... themselves” - accumulated 9 millions views on social media, according to the January report. [bit.ly/2os8wIt]

The report said Russia Today and Sputnik “consistently cast president elect-Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional media outlets."

The report said the agencies did not assess whether Moscow’s effort had swung the outcome of the race in Trump’s favor, because American intelligence agencies do not “analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.” [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]

CYBER ATTACKS

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Neither of the Russian institute documents mentioned the release of hacked Democratic Party emails to interfere with the U.S. election, according to four of the officials. The officials said the hacking was a covert intelligence operation run separately out of the Kremlin.

The overt propaganda and covert hacking efforts reinforced each other, according to the officials. Both Russia Today and Sputnik heavily promoted the release of the hacked Democratic Party emails, which often contained embarrassing details.

Five of the U.S. officials described the institute as the Kremlin’s in-house foreign policy think tank.

The institute’s director when the documents were written, Leonid Reshetnikov, rose to the rank of lieutenant general during a 33-year-career in Russia’s foreign intelligence service, according to the institute’s website [bit.ly/2oVhiCF]. After Reshetnikov retired from the institute in January, Putin named as his replacement Mikhail Fradkov. The institute says he served as the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service from 2007 to 2016. [bit.ly/2os4tvz]

Reuters was unable to determine if either man was directly involved in the drafting of the documents. Reshetnikov’s office referred questions to the Russian institute.

On its website, the Russian institute describes itself as providing “expert appraisals,” “recommendations,” and “analytical materials” to the Russian president’s office, cabinet, National Security Council, ministries and parliament. [bit.ly/2pCBGpR]

On Jan. 31, the websites of Putin’s office [bit.ly/2os9wMr] and the institute [bit.ly/2oLn9Kd] posted a picture and transcript of Reshetnikov and his successor Fradkov meeting with Putin in the Kremlin. Putin thanked Reshetnikov for his service and told Fradkov he wanted the institute to provide objective information and analysis.

“We did our best for nearly eight years to implement your foreign policy concept,” Reshetnikov told Putin. “The policy of Russia and the policy of the President of Russia have been the cornerstone of our operation.”

(Reporting by Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay, additional reporting by Warren Strobel and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by David Rohde and Ross Colvin)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-r ... SKBN17L2N3


THE CONTINUING FALLOUT FROM TRUMP AND NUNES’S FAKE SCANDAL
By Ryan Lizza April 18, 2017
Representative Devin Nunes is under investigation for possibly leaking classified information, but the bigger scandal is the coördinated effort to manufacture an excuse for President Trump’s wiretapping allegation.
Representative Devin Nunes is under investigation for possibly leaking classified information, but the bigger scandal is the coördinated effort to manufacture an excuse for President Trump’s wiretapping allegation.
PHOTOGRAPH BY J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / AP
Recently, several members and staffers on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s role in the Presidential election, visited the National Security Agency, in Fort Meade, Maryland. Inside the enormous black glass headquarters of America’s largest spy agency, the congressmen and their aides were shown a binder of two to three dozen pages of highly classified intercepts, mostly transcripts of conversations between foreign government officials that took place during the Presidential transition. These intercepts were not related to the heart of the committee’s Russia investigation. In fact, only one of the documents had anything to do with Russia, according to an official who reviewed them.

What the intercepts all had in common is that the people being spied on made references to Donald Trump or to Trump officials. That wasn’t even clear, though, from reading the transcripts. The names of any Americans were concealed, or “masked,” the intelligence community’s term for redacting references to Americans who are not the legal targets of surveillance when such intelligence reports are distributed to policy makers.

The binder of secret documents is at the center of the bizarre scandal created by what may be the most reckless lie President Trump has ever told. On March 4th, he tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” The White House made several efforts to justify Trump’s claim, including using Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as a conduit for the documents, which allegedly offered some substantiation. A former Nunes staffer now working for the White House dug up the transcripts and shared them with Nunes. As Bloomberg View reported, earlier this month, Susan Rice, Obama’s national-security adviser, had used a process that allowed her to request that the masked names be revealed to her. Rice had to log her unmasking requests on a White House computer, which is how Trump’s aides knew about them. Nunes and the White House presented this as a major scandal. “I think the Susan Rice thing is a massive story,” Trump told the Times, adding, while offering no evidence, that Rice may have committed a crime.

It is now clear that the scandal was not Rice’s normal review of the intelligence reports but the coördinated effort between the Trump Administration and Nunes to sift through classified information and computer logs that recorded Rice’s unmasking requests, and then leak a highly misleading characterization of those documents, all in an apparent effort to turn Rice, a longtime target of Republicans, into the face of alleged spying against Trump. It was a series of lies to manufacture a fake scandal. Last week, CNN was the first to report that both Democrats and Republicans who reviewed the Nunes material at the N.S.A. said that the documents provided “no evidence that Obama Administration officials did anything unusual or illegal.”

I spoke to two intelligence sources, one who read the entire binder of intercepts and one who was briefed on their contents. “There’s absolutely nothing there,” one source said. The Trump names remain masked in the documents, and Rice would not have been able to know in all cases that she was asking the N.S.A. to unmask the names of Trump officials.

Nunes is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee because, in talking about the documents, he may have leaked classified information. But this is like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. The bigger scandal is the coördinated effort to use the American intelligence services to manufacture an excuse for Trump’s original tweet.

The intelligence source told me that he knows, “from talking to people in the intelligence community,” that “the White House said, ‘We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was being surveilled.’ They put out an all-points bulletin”—a call to sift through intelligence reports—“and said, ‘We need to find something that justifies the President’s crazy tweet about surveillance at Trump Tower.’ And I’m telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be.” (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.)

The fallout from Trump’s tweet could have grave consequences for national security. The law governing the N.S.A.’s collection of the content of communications of foreign targets is up for renewal this summer. Known as Section 702, part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it is perhaps the most important intelligence tool that America’s spy agencies have to gather information about potential terrorist attacks and about the intentions of regimes around the world. There are legitimate privacy concerns about allowing the N.S.A. to vacuum up such an enormous amount of communications. A report from 2014 by the Obama Administration’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board identified several areas that might be changed to increase the privacy protections for Americans, but the board also “found no evidence of intentional abuse” of the program.

Some American intelligence officials are now concerned that Trump and Nunes’s wild claims about intercepts and Rice have made Section 702 look like a rogue program that can be easily abused for political purposes. The intelligence source said, “In defense of the President, Devin Nunes and some other partisans have created a huge political problem by casting doubt, in the service of Donald Trump, on these intercepts.” Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, a leading critic of Section 702, has been using the episode to rally libertarians. He recently tweeted, “Smoking gun found! Obama pal and noted dissembler Susan Rice said to have been spying on Trump campaign.” Democratic critics of Section 702 have also been emboldened. “Section 702 of FISA allows warrantless searches on Americans. That’s unconstitutional & must be changed,” Representative Ted Lieu, the Democrat from California, tweeted last month, during the controversy.

“They manufactured a scandal to distract from a serious investigation,” Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, who would not comment on the N.S.A. documents, said. “And the collateral damage is the public confidence in our intelligence community when we need to count on them now more than ever. Considering the threats we are facing right now from North Korea and isis, it’s a pretty dangerous time to undermine the I.C.’s credibility to make a five-yard sack in the Russia investigation.”

Even though there is now some bipartisan agreement that Nunes’s description of the intercepts was wildly inaccurate, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are still preparing to focus on Obama’s national-security team, rather than on Vladimir Putin’s. Last week, Democrats and Republicans finalized their witness lists, and the names tell a tale of two separate investigations. The intelligence source said, “The Democratic list involves all of the characters that you would think it would: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Carter Page,” speaking of the three Trump campaign officials who have been most closely tied to the Russia investigation. “The Republican list is almost entirely people from the Obama Administration.”

The fake scandal created by Trump and Nunes is not over yet. The first name on the Republican list is Susan Rice.
http://www.newyorker.com/news/ryan-lizz ... ke-scandal


Revisiting the Golden Showers
by Martin Longman April 19, 2017 12:06 PM POLITICAL ANIMAL BLOG

When BuzzFeed broke the media blackout on January 10th and published the Christopher Steele dossier on Donald Trump, the headlines were all focused on the most salacious allegation it contained. It’s worth revisiting that allegation because it’s been mischaracterized from the very beginning.

Steele’s topline allegation was that a “Former top Russian intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised TRUMP [whose] conduct in Moscow has included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged/monitored by the FSB.”

The FSB is the Foreign Security Service of the Russian Federation, which is the rough equivalent of our own CIA. There was quite a bit more detail in the dossier. Specifically, the story went that in 2013 Trump rented the “presidential suite” in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow because he knew that Barack and Michelle Obama had stayed in that room once while visiting Russia. While he has renting the suite, he hired prostitutes to “defile” the bed in which the Obamas had slept by urinating on each other while he watched. Trump distracted from the allegation about his motivation by arguing that he was too much of a germaphobe to allow women to pee on him, but the dossier specifically said that he was not an active participant in the “golden showers.” It did suggest that this was a sexual perversion that Trump was acting out, but the reason given for him instigating this act was less sexual than some kind of twisted revenge (perhaps for getting humiliated by the president at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner).

Steele went to some effort to corroborate this explosive story. The part I just related was provided by Source D who was described as “a close associate of Trump who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow.” Quite a few people suspect that Source D was Boris Epshteyn who was just forced out of the White House for unspecified reasons and took a job as the “chief political analyst” for the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. That has not been confirmed.

Steele also had a Source E who told him that some Ritz Carlton staff were aware of the Trump/Golden Shower story at the time. Source E introduced a Russian intelligence operative to Source F, a female employee at the hotel. Source F also corroborated the story. Finally (as stated at the top) Source B, who was a former high level Russian intelligence office still active in the Kremlin’s inner circles, confirmed that the government had collected enough material on Trump during his visits that they could blackmail him. Specifically, Trump had engaged in questionable sexual activity that was “arranged/monitored” by the FSB.

It was probably unfortunate that so much focus was put on the golden showers part of the dossier because it wasn’t something that could be confirmed. Yes, it’s easy to establish that the rumor went around and that many people at the Ritz Carlton believed that it occurred. It was much harder to confirm that it happened as described or that the Russians had video or audio evidence of it with which to blackmail Trump. The more important part was what Source B was confirming. Regardless of the veracity of the Ritz Carlton story, a high level Russian intelligence source was saying that the FSB had arranged/monitored sexually compromising situations for Trump.

Because the salacious golden showers story led the dossier, reporters and news organizations were reluctant to publish it. The lewdness had the tendency to discredit the entire document since it was outrageous and unconfirmed. But there were plenty of other parts of the dossier that could be falsified or verified. After some efforts to do that, the FBI was satisfied that the dossier was accurate in many respects. They used it to go to the FISA court and obtain a warrant to monitor the activities of Carter Page.

On the right, the reaction to learning that the FBI relied in part on the dossier to get a warrant on Page is to howl in outrage that they used a “fake” and “dodgy” source. On the left, the reaction is to treat this as confirmation that dossier is legit and to use that as an excuse to revisit the formerly discredited golden showers story.

I don’t think either side has it quite right.

The right was way too quick to dismiss the quality of Christopher Steele’s work. He’s a former MI6 officer who worked under diplomatic cover in Moscow and headed the Russia Desk from 2004 to 2009. He has an excellent reputation in the intelligence community. He clearly has sources and he knows how to write intelligence reports. The dossier was never a fake. It wasn’t gospel, either, nor did it purport to be accurate in every respect. But it was based on real sources, many of which were well-placed sources.

The left’s problem is different. The golden showers story may be true or may not be true. The dossier never really alleged it was true. What it said was that a source close to Trump who had managed his trips to Moscow had been telling the story. It said that the rumor was also believed and spread by people on the staff at the hotel. And it said that a highly placed Russian intelligence source did not confirm that story specifically but confirmed that the FSB had blackmail-worthy sexual material on Trump from his visits to Moscow.

I think the more Steele’s work is corroborated in general, the more we can be sure that he didn’t make things up. So, what’s more credible now is not that the golden showers took place. What’s more credible is that the rumor was real and that it was being related as true by a person very close to Trump who would be in a position to know. And it was possible to establish that people in Moscow at the hotel had heard the same story and believed it.

The thing is, what really matters is the more general question of whether Source B (the former high ranking Russian intelligence office still active in the Kremlin’s inner circles) was telling the truth when he said they had enough material on Trump to blackmail him. If that’s true, the prurient details don’t matter.
http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/04/19 ... n-showers/
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:00 pm

Claude Taylor‏ @TrueFactsStated 14h14 hours ago
This story is not about Carter Page. This story began 20plus years ago when the Trump Organization crawled into bed with the Russian Mafia.




It looks like House Democrats just won a big victory in the Trump-Russia investigation

Natasha Bertrand
U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks with reporters about the Committee's Russia investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks with reporters Thomson Reuters
The House Intelligence Committee announced on Friday that it had extended invitations to three former officials with knowledge of Russia's interference in the US election to testify in an open hearing in May, over a month after the committee's chairman first scrapped the session.

"Yesterday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sent two letters related to its investigation into Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign," Emily Hytha, a spokesperson for Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, wrote on Friday.

"The first letter was sent to FBI Director James Comey and National Security Advisor Admiral Mike Rogers, inviting them to appear at a closed hearing on May 2, 2017," Hytha wrote. "The second letter was sent to former CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates inviting them to appear at an open hearing to be scheduled after May 2nd."

The letters appear to mark the end of an impasse that emerged late last month, when the committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, accused Democrats of not signing a letter inviting FBI Director James Comey to testify before the committee in a closed session. The Democrats said that they did not support substituting an open hearing with a closed one, and had been pushing to reschedule the open session with Yates, Brennan, and Clapper that Nunes had canceled.

"The chairman [Nunes] requested that in lieu of a public hearing we have a closed hearing with James Comey and Mike Rogers," Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who sits on the committee, told Business Insider late last month. "I did not support having one substitute for another."

Sally Yates
Sally Q. Yates, then the US deputy attorney general, speaks during a press conference at the Department of Justice on June 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. Pete Marovich/Getty Images
In the end, the committee agreed to hold both the closed session with Comey and Rogers that Republicans wanted, and the open hearing with Yates, Brennan, and Clapper that Democrats had been pushing for.

The compromise is arguably a bigger victory for the Democrats, however, who have been eager to publicly question Yates in particular about her knowledge of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's relationship to Russia.

Yates was fired as acting Attorney General after refusing to enforce Trump's first immigration order in late January. Earlier that month, she reportedly traveled to the White House to warn Trump administration officials that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Interest in Yates' testimony grew even more last month after the Washington Post reported that the White House had tried to prevent her from testifying publicly. The White House has denied the charge.

Brennan, the former CIA Director, has also come back into the spotlight recently amid reports that he established a counterintelligence task force last summer to examine improper contact between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The investigation was based on intelligence that was handed to the CIA by foreign intelligence agencies beginning in late 2015, The Guardian reported earlier this month.

Clapper's testimony, meanwhile, will be of interest to those who feel that Trump's Russia ties have been overblown: the former Director of National Intelligence told MSNBC's Chuck Todd in early March that he had seen "no evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Rep. Devin Nunes
Rep. Devin Nunes J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The break in the committee's partisan impasse comes a few weeks after Nunes recused himself from the committee's Russia investigation. He stepped down on April 6 and handed the probe over to Conaway amid questions about his ability to lead an unbiased investigation into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia.

Nunes, who served on Trump's transition team, came under intense scrutiny last month for his decision to bypass the rest of his committee and brief Trump on classified executive-branch documents which he said showed that members of Trump's transition team had been swept up in government surveillance.

R eports have said he obtained those documents from White House officials — despite Nunes' earlier claims that he had gotten them from an intelligence source — fueling speculation that administration officials had orchestrated the stunt to distract the press from Comey's revelation that various Trump associates were being investigated for their ties to Russia.

Nunes' vice-chair, Rep. Adam Schiff, criticized Nunes for bypassing the committee, calling on him to either share the documents with his colleagues or recuse himself.

"I don't know how to conduct a credible investigation if you have even one person, let alone the chairman, of a committee saying, 'I've seen evidence, but I won't share it with anyone else,'" Schiff told CNN late last month. "We can't conduct an investigation this way. That's not sustainable. It's not credible."
http://www.businessinsider.com/house-in ... ing-2017-4



Top House Oversight Democrat Warns That The Truth On Russia Is Coming To Get Trump
By Jason Easley on Fri, Apr 21st, 2017 at 12:56 pm
During an interview on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) warned Donald Trump that the truth is going to catch up to him on Russia.


Top House Oversight Democrat Warns That The Truth On Russia Is Coming To Get Trump
During an interview on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) warned Donald Trump that the truth is going to catch up to him on Russia.

Video:

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


Rep. Cummings disagreed with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on refusing to work with Trump on everything, but he added, “Many of the things that Maxine is talking about she’s absolutely right. We are finding out more and more every day. There will come a time, Andrea, where the truth will come in contact with these false statements made by Donald Trump, President Trump, and others, and then a judgment call will have to be made. In the meantime, I’ve got to go down both of these tracks. I’ve got to represent my constituents, but I’ve also got to do a fair investigation.”

The point that Rep. Cummings made about the Russia scandal is very true. Time is the enemy of the Trump administration. Eventually, the truth is going to be revealed, but each member of the House also has a duty to represent their constituents. Rep. Waters has argued that her constituents don’t want her to work with Trump, but I think that the decision is up to each member of the House and their constituents.

The truth is coming for Trump. The White House has nowhere to run. They have nowhere to hide. The false statements are piling up, and the reason why the administration is working so hard to derail the Russia investigations is that the truth behind the lies is likely enough to destroy the Trump presidency.

Rep. Cummings is right. There is inevitable collusion becoming between Donald Trump’s Russia lies and reality.
http://www.politicususa.com/2017/04/21/ ... trump.html


Trump's Organized Crime Ties Bring Blackmail to the White House
Says one former business partner, "The headline will be ‘The Kazakh Gangster and President Trump.'"
By Jefferson Morley / AlterNet April 21, 2017

The words were positively polite, at least for a man convicted of assault and racketeering. It was the implied target of his blackmail threat that was unusual: the president of the United States.

The threat came from Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman who partnered with Donald Trump in launching the Trump Soho, a hotel-condominium project in New York City. The building was funded by Sater’s boss, Tevfik Arif, a mogul from Kazakhstan. In 2007, Trump's children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka attended the unveiling ceremony for the 46-story luxury tower in Manhattan.

Trump, Arif and Sater were photographed standing next to one another at that event. Since then, the three men have parted ways in a haze of recriminations, lawsuits and amnesia.

The Threat

Sater’s attorney came right to the point in a February 2 letter to Arif’s attorney about $3.5 million in disputed legal fees, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“Clearly, if this matter between Mr. Sater and Mr. Arif escalates to public litigation, the media spotlight will be negatively cast on Mr. Arif and his past relationship with President Trump and the Republic of Kazakhstan,” the attorney wrote.

In the correspondence reviewed by the Journal, Sater warned he might file another lawsuit in which he would allege wrongdoing in Arif’s dealings in the post-Soviet metals business in Kazakhstan. “The headline will be, ‘The Kazakh Gangster and President Trump,’” Sater warned.

The Back Story

Both Arif and Sater know something about the media spotlight.

In October 2010, Turkish news outlets headlined the arrest of Arif and five other men for alleged involvement in a prostitution ring following a raid on a yacht once used by the country’s founder. Police stormed the 136-meter luxury yacht Savarona after a seven-month investigation. They also detained 10 Ukrainian and Russian women.

Arif had rented the yacht at a daily rate of $50,000, according to Turkish news reports. Arif denied all charges, saying he had only been entertaining friends aboard the Savarona. Nine of the women were deported, and Arif was later acquitted.

Also questioned, but not arrested in the raid, according to Israel’s YNet News was Alexander Mashkevich, an Israeli-Kazakh billionaire who, along with two partners, dominates Kazakhstan’s lucrative mineral sector, according to Wikipedia.

Sater’s recent threat implicitly links Arif’s relationship with Mashkevich to his dealings with Trump.

Tevfik and his brother Refik Arif, former Soviet government officials, achieved success after Kazakh independence in 1991 by gaining ownership of a chromium plant. The Arifs became close with Mashkevich and his partners, who operated large-scale mining projects in Kazakhstan, according to the Diplomat news site. The details of Arif's business empire emerged when he tried to buy a share of Milan AC, the storied football franchise.

Felix Sater too has some notoriety. In 1993, Sater was convicted and sent to prison for stabbing a commodities broker in the face with a broken margarita glass. He then became involved in a $40 million stock manipulation scheme run by members of the Gambino and Bonanno organized crime families. In return for his “cooperation” as a government informant, he was allowed to plead guilty and get on with his life. He partnered with Arif, who had developed luxury properties in Turkey, and they joined forces with Trump.

The Partnership

By 2007, Sater had an office on the 24th floor of Trump Tower, according to the Washington Post. In sworn testimony reviewed by the Post, Sater said he popped into Trump’s office frequently over a six-year period to talk business. He recalled flying to Colorado with Trump and said Trump once asked him to escort Donald Jr. and Ivanka around Moscow.

At the time, Arif also extolled Trump.

"He's been very helpful to us from the beginning and he's been very helpful in opening some doors," he told Real Estate Weekly.

Donald Trump would prefer to forget such matters. In a 2013 deposition for a court case related to Trump Soho, Trump claimed he only met Sater a couple of times and would not recognize him.

Sater seems to feel the relationship is closer. In February, he and Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen prepared a Ukraine peace proposal for the president, although it's not clear it ever reached the Oval Office.

The Washington vocabulary of scandal, corruption and sleaze does not quite do justice to the state of affairs that exists when the White House receives a foreign policy proposal from a felon who threatens to blackmail a former business partner (once detained in a prostitution investigation) of the president.

Some might see a moral swamp in need of drainage. In the Trump White House, it's called business as usual.
http://www.alternet.org/trumps-organize ... hite-house


seemslikeadream » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:41 pm wrote:

Image
I ‘Absolutely’ Voted To Cut Funding For Embassy Security

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, leading Clinton Benghazi critic


Claude Taylor‏
@TrueFactsStated
A Utah source now confirming that Chaffetz resignation expected as early as tomorrow.



Claude Taylor‏ @TrueFactsStated 14m14 minutes ago
The election/collusion was the crime. Chaffetz/Nunes were part of the coverup. Also a crime.


Chaffetz considering early departure from Congress
http://thehill.com/homenews/house/32971 ... m-congress


Yes, the Jason Chaffetz bombshell is coming
By Bill Palmer
Updated: 4:23 pm EDT Thu Apr 20, 2017 | 0

When Jason Chaffetz announced yesterday that he won’t be seeking reelection in 2018 and won’t be running for any office, some pundits posited that he’s merely looking to avoid losing in the anti-Trump landslide expected in the midterms. But that doesn’t even make sense. No, this is all about a Chaffetz scandal that’s about to hit the fan.
Last week Palmer Report brought you the story the intel community sources who claim the FBI has learned that Russia has been holding blackmail material over Jason Chaffetz, in order to make sure the House Oversight Committee that he chairs will never investigate Donald Trump’s Russian election collusion scandal (link). Chaffetz’s announcement yesterday fits in line with this. The Republican Party does not need twenty months to find a suitable replacement in a district that red. So if he were merely afraid of losing reelection in 2018, he’d have waited awhile before making this announcement to see if the overall political winds might change direction in the mean time.
The only reason for Jason Chaffetz to announce this early that he’s not running again is if he’s sitting on a scandal that he knows is about to explode. By taking himself off the table for 2018, he’s hoping those with the dirt on him will be appeased into not releasing it after all. Who’s about out him? Russia? The FBI itself? We don’t know which of these entities is forcing his hand this week, but he does. There’s widespread buzz on Twitter that not only won’t he finish out his term, but that he might resign tomorrow. This buzz is spreading so quickly that it’s difficult to even parse where it originated from. But there’s a reason for all this smoke.
Jason Chaffetz is surely trying to figure out whether his announcement yesterday is enough to keep the scandal from becoming public, or if he now needs to resign immediately in order to improve his odds. So the buzz you’re hearing is likely the result of the trial balloons Chaffetz himself is floating behind the scenes. Will he resign tomorrow? Next week? Will he finish out his term? Who knows. This is too chaotic to predict the particulars. But it’s precisely that chaos, that panic coming from Chaffetz, that tells us this is such a bombshell that it’s coming out one way or the other. It always does. The only question is whether the Chaffetz scandal explodes before or after he’s vacated his seat.
http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/yes ... ming/2367/


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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:50 pm

Claude Taylor‏
@TrueFactsStated

Claude Taylor Retweeted Counterchekist
I'm told by a source in the legal community (former prosecutor) "the number of individuals indicted will stagger most observers".


Counterchekist‏
@counterchekist

Replying to @DrDenaGrayson @lauferlaw and 2 others
IC is in possession of a lot of tapes with Team Treason on them. #FVEY #NATO


Trump Reportedly In Danger Of Blackmail By Organized Crime Elements (DETAILS)
By Tyler - April 23, 2017

In addition to numerous conflicts of interest and a lack of qualifications, Donald Trump may have brought something else to the White House. Namely, links to organized crime that, if true, could undermine his presidency and the integrity of the office itself.

The dispute concerns two of Trump’s longtime business associates, Felix Sater and his boss Tevfik Arif. Trump and Sater had partnered together to build Trump Soho and the project was partially funded by Arif.

The issue, unsurprisingly, began over money. In a letter written to Arif’s attorney regarding $3.5 million in legal fees, Sater’s attorney warned that a public lawsuit might damage both Arif and Trump’s reputation.

‘Clearly, if this matter between Mr. Sater and Mr. Arif escalates to public litigation, the media spotlight will be negatively cast on Mr. Arif and his past relationship with President Trump and the Republic of Kazakhstan.’

Later on in the letter, which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal, Sater warned that he might file a second lawsuit which would focus on Arif’s crimes related to his metals businesses in Kazakhstan. Most interesting of all, however, was Sater’s threat regarding Trump. “The headline will be, ‘The Kazakh Gangster and President Trump.'”

While none of the charges have stuck, Arif is no stranger to arrests or the media attention that tends to follow them. In 2010, he and five others were arrested for their alleged involvement in prostitution ring while in Turkey. Arif maintained his innocence and was eventually acquitted.

Arif and his brother, who was an official in the Soviet government, secured the rights to a chromium plant. The two men eventually entered into a lucrative partnership with Alexander Mashkevich, who controls a large part of Kazakhstan’s mineral and mining sectors.

Sater, on the other hand, has had less success in avoiding prison. In 1993, he was convicted of assault after he stabbed a commodities broker with a piece of a broken margarita glass. After the margarita incident, he was arrested due to his involvement in a $40 million dollar stock manipulation scheme run by the Gambino and Bonanno crime families. In exchange for immunity from prosecution, he turned state’s witness and was set free. From there, he met Arif and the two eventually became involved in Trump’s real-estate empire.

Their partnership was so successful that by 2007, Sater had an office in Trump Tower and openly boasted of his relationship with the future president.

‘Anybody can come in and build a tower. I can build a Trump Tower, because of my relationship with Trump.’

Their relationship was so close that when Trump’s children were going to Moscow for the first time, Trump allegedly asked Sater to show them around the city and keep an eye on them because Trump was worried. Sater said:

‘They were on their way by themselves, and he was all concerned. He asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them and looking after them while they were in Moscow.’

Despite this apparently close relationship, Trump has, in recent years, claimed to not know Sater very well. While speaking under oath at a hearing in 2013, Trump said that he wouldn’t recognize Sater if he were sitting in the room with him.

Obviously, someone isn’t telling the truth. If someone is close enough with you that you’ll ask them to keep an eye on your children in a foreign country, then we find it hard to believe you wouldn’t recognize them. Some might argue that Sater’s involvement in organized crime makes him a less than trustworthy source and we’d agree. However, we’d also question the integrity of a man who willingly does business with someone like Sater.
http://bipartisanreport.com/2017/04/23/ ... s-details/
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