Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed May 16, 2018 7:42 pm

First off Gooooliani lies! A whole lot

hint ....Mueller didn't say that

second if trump doesn't step down before Nov. which I think he will....... he WILL be impeached in January

crow he crowed about getting the Nobel Peace Prize? :lol:

can't harsh my buzz Ben.....there's a hurricane a comin' a Cross-Fire Hurricane .....haven't you heard?

Did you miss this?

Senate Intelligence Committee Backs Conclusion that Moscow Attempted to Boost Trump
Panel’s support for intelligence agencies’ findings breaks with earlier House report ... 1526488842

breaks with earlier House report

and remember this? well the SENATE REPUBLICANS just broke with what Nunes was trying to push

Crazed Right-Wing Sites Pushing Nunes #ReleaseTheMemo

you know what is funny about that headline? says trump can't be DOESN'T say trump did nothing wrong

BenDhyan » Wed May 16, 2018 6:36 pm wrote:Well folks, if true, this seems to dash the hopes of many, and opens the way for Trump to crow...and whatever..

Giuliani: Mueller's team told Trump's lawyers they can't indict a president

May 16, 2018

(CNN)Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has informed President Donald Trump's attorneys that they have concluded that they cannot indict a sitting president, according to the President's lawyer.

It's kinda against the law to work with foreign governments to win the presidency

These are the revelations from Don Jr.’s extraordinary testimony about his meeting with the Russians
Breaking down the document dump.
MAY 16, 2018, 11:10 AM

On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released 1800 pages of testimony from their ongoing investigation into potential Russian influence in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. Among the documents was a 224-page transcript of an interview with Donald Trump Jr., focusing on his June 9, 2016 meeting with several Russians in Trump Tower.

The meeting took place after Trump Jr. was sent an email from a promoter who works for a Russian pop star, Emin Agalarov, with connections to the Russian government. The promoter, Rod Goldstone, said that Aras Agalarov, the father of his client, met with the “Crown prosecutor of Russian” and “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” Goldstone characterized the offer as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

“[I]f it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied.

The detailed transcript raises important questions about the meeting, its aftermath, and the damage control effort when it became public.

The blocked phone call
On July 11, 2017, Trump Jr. appeared on Sean Hannity’s eponymous Fox News Channel show and claimed that all the preparations and discussion in advance of the meeting were handled over email.

HANNITY: At any point were you told, either in a phone conversation or otherwise, what they might tell you? What Goldstone seemed to be implying you would receive.

TRUMP JR.: As I recall, it was all basically this email coordination. Let’s try to set up a meeting and see what happens. It’s going to be interesting information. In the end, it wasn’t about that at all.

We now know this isn’t true. The transcript reveals that Emin Agalarov called Trump Jr. on June 6, 2016 to discuss the meeting.

Q. So in Exhibit 1 Mr . Goldstone’ s e-mail at 3:43 p .m. on June 6 said that Emin would call you 12 within about 20 minutes, and this record, which is heavily redacted, shows an incoming call 21 minutes later at 4:04 p.m. on that day from the [redacted] number. Was that a call from Emin?

TRUMP JR: I believe it to be.

Trump Jr. claims to have no recollection of the call but about 25 minutes later, he called Emin Agalarov back. More significantly, in between the two calls, Trump Jr. had another conversation with someone with a blocked number.

Q: In between the two calls there’s another entry, a call at 4:27 that lasted four minutes from a blocked number. Between Emin’s call to you at 4:04 and your return call to him at 4:31, with whom did you have a call?

TRUMP JR: I have no idea.

Corey Lewandowski, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, testified separately that Trump’s primary residence had a blocked number. Later in the interview Trump Jr. claimed that he did not know whether his father used a blocked number. This seems dubious since Trump Jr. said he communicates frequently with his father.

The Hope Hicks connection
In addition to the meeting itself, another issue of interest is the effort to cover it up. Trump Jr. released a series of statements, none of which accurately described the nature of the meeting — either its substance or how it was set up.


The key question is whether President Trump had any involvement in crafting these inaccurate statements. Trump Jr. said his father may have been involved through his Communications Director, Hope Hicks.

Q: The Washington Post has since reported that your father was involved in drafting your July 8th statement. Is that correct?

TRUMP JR: I don’t know. I never spoke to my father about it.

Q: Do you know who did draft that statement?

TRUMP JR: Well, there were numerous statements drafted with counsel and other people were involved and, you know, opined.

Q: To the best of your knowledge, did the President provide any edits to the statement or other input?

TRUMP JR: He may have commented through Hope Hicks.

Q: And do you know if his comments provided through Hope Hicks were incorporated into the final statement?

TRUMP JR: I believe some may have been, but this was an effort through lots of people, mostly counsel.

Trump Jr.’s attorney reached out to participants to get their story straight
Prior to the meeting become public, Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, reached out to several participants to “harmonize” their stories. Specifically Futerfas drafted a statement for Goldstone about the meeting and asked him to release it.

Email from Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney to Rob Goldstone
Futerfas also communicated with Emin Agalarov, who helped set up the meeting, and Ike Kaveladze, who attended the meeting. The effort to coordinate stories prior to the meeting becoming public raises questions about whether the narrative presented in the interviews is accurate.

This is a breaking new post and will be updated. ... d1f066011/
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Wed May 16, 2018 8:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed May 16, 2018 8:02 pm

The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. Each was scrutinized because of his obvious or suspected Russian ties.

Paul Manafort
by seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:12 pm

Michael T. Flynn
by seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:50 pm

Carter Page
by seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:33 pm

George Papadopoulos

Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation

Days after the F.B.I. closed its investigation into Hillary Clinton in 2016, agents began scrutinizing the presidential campaign of her Republican rival, Donald J. Trump.

Credit Al Drago for The New York Times
By Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos
May 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.

Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.

The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.

The name, a reference to the Rolling Stones lyric “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” was an apt prediction of a political storm that continues to tear shingles off the bureau. Days after they closed their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, agents began scrutinizing the campaign of her Republican rival. The two cases have become inextricably linked in one of the most consequential periods in the history of the F.B.I.

This month, the Justice Department inspector general is expected to release the findings of its lengthy review of the F.B.I.’s conduct in the Clinton case. The results are certain to renew debate over decisions by the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, to publicly chastise Mrs. Clinton in a news conference, and then announce the reopening of the investigation days before Election Day. Mrs. Clinton has said those actions buried her presidential hopes.

Those decisions stand in contrast to the F.B.I.’s handling of Crossfire Hurricane. Not only did agents in that case fall back to their typical policy of silence, but interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and a review of documents show that the F.B.I. was even more circumspect in that case than has been previously known. Many of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

Agents considered, then rejected, interviewing key Trump associates, which might have sped up the investigation but risked revealing the existence of the case. Top officials quickly became convinced that they would not solve the case before Election Day, which made them only more hesitant to act. When agents did take bold investigative steps, like interviewing the ambassador, they were shrouded in secrecy.

Fearful of leaks, they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department. Peter Strzok, a senior F.B.I. agent, explained in a text that Justice Department officials would find it too “tasty” to resist sharing. “I’m not worried about our side,” he wrote.

Only about five Justice Department officials knew the full scope of the case, officials said, not the dozen or more who might normally be briefed on a major national security case.

The facts, had they surfaced, might have devastated the Trump campaign: Mr. Trump’s future national security adviser was under investigation, as was his campaign chairman. One adviser appeared to have Russian intelligence contacts. Another was suspected of being a Russian agent himself.

In the Clinton case, Mr. Comey has said he erred on the side of transparency. But in the face of questions from Congress about the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. declined to tip its hand. And when The New York Times tried to assess the state of the investigation in October 2016, law enforcement officials cautioned against drawing any conclusions, resulting in a story that significantly played down the case.

Mr. Comey has said it is unfair to compare the Clinton case, which was winding down in the summer of 2016, with the Russia case, which was in its earliest stages. He said he did not make political considerations about who would benefit from each decision.

But underpinning both cases was one political calculation: that Mrs. Clinton would win and Mr. Trump would lose. Agents feared being seen as withholding information or going too easy on her. And they worried that any overt actions against Mr. Trump’s campaign would only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him.

The F.B.I. now faces those very criticisms and more. Mr. Trump says he is the victim of a politicized F.B.I. He says senior agents tried to rig the election by declining to prosecute Mrs. Clinton, then drummed up the Russia investigation to undermine his presidency. He has declared that a deeply rooted cabal — including his own appointees — is working against him.

That argument is the heart of Mr. Trump’s grievances with the federal investigation. In the face of bipartisan support for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Mr. Trump and his allies have made a priority of questioning how the investigation was conducted in late 2016 and trying to discredit it.

“It’s a witch hunt,” Mr. Trump said last month on Fox News. “And they know that, and I’ve been able to message it.”

Congressional Republicans, led by Representative Devin Nunes of California, have begun to dig into F.B.I. files, looking for evidence that could undermine the investigation. Much remains unknown and classified. But those who saw the investigation up close, and many of those who have reviewed case files in the past year, say that far from gunning for Mr. Trump, the F.B.I. could actually have done more in the final months of 2016 to scrutinize his campaign’s Russia ties.

“I never saw anything that resembled a witch hunt or suggested that the bureau’s approach to the investigation was politically driven,” said Mary McCord, a 20-year Justice Department veteran and the top national security prosecutor during much of the investigation’s first nine months.

Crossfire Hurricane spawned a case that has brought charges against former Trump campaign officials and more than a dozen Russians. But in the final months of 2016, agents faced great uncertainty — about the facts, and how to respond.

A Trump campaign rally in August 2016 in Texas. Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election.
Anxiety at the Bureau

Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election, but if agents were eager to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign, as the president has suggested, the messages do not reveal it. “I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections,” Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.

The mood in early meetings was anxious, former officials recalled. Agents had just closed the Clinton investigation, and they braced for months of Republican-led hearings over why she was not charged. Crossfire Hurricane was built around the same core of agents and analysts who had investigated Mrs. Clinton. None was eager to re-enter presidential politics, former officials said, especially when agents did not know what would come of the Australian information.

The question they confronted still persists: Was anyone in the Trump campaign tied to Russian efforts to undermine the election?

The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. Each was scrutinized because of his obvious or suspected Russian ties.

[Here are the key themes, dates and characters in the Russia investigation]

Mr. Flynn, a top adviser, was paid $45,000 by the Russian government’s media arm for a 2015 speech and dined at the arm of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Manafort, the campaign chairman, had lobbied for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine and worked with an associate who has been identified as having connections to Russian intelligence.

Mr. Page, a foreign policy adviser, was well known to the F.B.I. He had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the campaign.

Lastly, there was Mr. Papadopoulos, the young and inexperienced campaign aide whose wine-fueled conversation with the Australian ambassador set off the investigation. Before hacked Democratic emails appeared online, he had seemed to know that Russia had political dirt on Mrs. Clinton. But even if the F.B.I. had wanted to read his emails or intercept his calls, that evidence was not enough to allow it. Many months passed, former officials said, before the F.B.I. uncovered emails linking Mr. Papadopoulos to a Russian intelligence operation.

Mr. Trump was not under investigation, but his actions perplexed the agents. Days after the stolen Democratic emails became public, he called on Russia to uncover more. Then news broke that Mr. Trump’s campaign had pushed to change the Republican platform’s stance on Ukraine in ways favorable to Russia.

The F.B.I.’s thinking crystallized by mid-August, after the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, shared intelligence with Mr. Comey showing that the Russian government was behind an attack on the 2016 presidential election. Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation. The Crossfire Hurricane team was part of that group but largely operated independently, three officials said.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said that after studying the investigation as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he saw no evidence of political motivation in the opening of the investigation.

“There was a growing body of evidence that a foreign government was attempting to interfere in both the process and the debate surrounding our elections, and their job is to investigate counterintelligence,” he said in an interview. “That’s what they did.”
Andrew G. McCabe in December in Washington. Mr. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, was cited by internal investigators for dishonesty, giving ammunition for Mr. Trump’s claims that the F.B.I. cannot be trusted.
Abounding Criticism

Looking back, some inside the F.B.I. and the Justice Department say that Mr. Comey should have seen the political storm coming and better sheltered the bureau. They question why he consolidated the Clinton and Trump investigations at headquarters, rather than in a field office. And they say he should not have relied on the same team for both cases. That put a bull’s-eye on the heart of the F.B.I. Any misstep in either investigation made both cases, and the entire bureau, vulnerable to criticism.

And there were missteps. Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, was cited by internal investigators for dishonesty about his conversations with reporters about Mrs. Clinton. That gave ammunition for Mr. Trump’s claims that the F.B.I. cannot be trusted. And Mr. Strzok and Lisa Page, an F.B.I. lawyer, exchanged texts criticizing Mr. Trump, allowing the president to point to evidence of bias when they became public.

The messages were unsparing. They questioned Mr. Trump’s intelligence, believed he promoted intolerance and feared he would damage the bureau.

The inspector general’s upcoming report is expected to criticize those messages for giving the appearance of bias. It is not clear, however, whether inspectors found evidence supporting Mr. Trump’s assertion that agents tried to protect Mrs. Clinton, a claim the F.B.I. has adamantly denied.

Mr. Rubio, who has reviewed many of the texts and case files, said he saw no signs that the F.B.I. wanted to undermine Mr. Trump. “There might have been individual agents that had views that, in hindsight, have been problematic for those agents,” Mr. Rubio said. “But whether that was a systemic effort, I’ve seen no evidence of it.”

Mr. Trump’s daily Twitter posts, though, offer sound-bite-sized accusations — witch hunt, hoax, deep state, rigged system — that fan the flames of conspiracy. Capitol Hill allies reliably echo those comments.

“It’s like the deep state all got together to try to orchestrate a palace coup,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, said in January on Fox Business Network.

The Kremlin in Moscow. Two weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, senior American intelligence officials told him that Russia had tried to sow chaos in the election, undermine Mrs. Clinton and ultimately help Mr. Trump win.CreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Cautious Intelligence Gathering

Counterintelligence investigations can take years, but if the Russian government had influence over the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. wanted to know quickly. One option was the most direct: interview the campaign officials about their Russian contacts.

That was discussed but not acted on, two former officials said, because interviewing witnesses or subpoenaing documents might thrust the investigation into public view, exactly what F.B.I. officials were trying to avoid during the heat of the presidential race.

“You do not take actions that will unnecessarily impact an election,” Sally Q. Yates, the former deputy attorney general, said in an interview. She would not discuss details, but added, “Folks were very careful to make sure that actions that were being taken in connection with that investigation did not become public.”

Mr. Comey was briefed regularly on the Russia investigation, but one official said those briefings focused mostly on hacking and election interference. The Crossfire Hurricane team did not present many crucial decisions for Mr. Comey to make.

Top officials became convinced that there was almost no chance they would answer the question of collusion before Election Day. And that made agents even more cautious.

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.

Looking back, some at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. now believe that agents could have been more aggressive. They ultimately interviewed Mr. Papadopoulos in January 2017 and managed to keep it a secret, suggesting they could have done so much earlier.
“There is always a high degree of caution before taking overt steps in a counterintelligence investigation,” said Ms. McCord, who would not discuss details of the case. “And that could have worked to the president’s benefit here.”

Such tactical discussions are reflected in one of Mr. Strzok’s most controversial texts, sent on Aug. 15, 2016, after a meeting in Mr. McCabe’s office.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected,” Mr. Strzok wrote, “but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Mr. Trump says that message revealed a secret F.B.I. plan to respond to his election. “‘We’ll go to Phase 2 and we’ll get this guy out of office,’” he told The Wall Street Journal. “This is the F.B.I. we’re talking about — that is treason.”

But officials have told the inspector general something quite different. They said Ms. Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump’s defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.

Mr. Strzok countered that even if Mr. Trump’s chances of victory were low — like dying before 40 — the stakes were too high to justify inaction.

Mr. Strzok had similarly argued for a more aggressive path during the Clinton investigation, according to four current and former officials. He opposed the Justice Department’s decision to offer Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers immunity and negotiate access to her hard drives, the officials said. Mr. Strzok favored using search warrants or subpoenas instead.

In both cases, his argument lost.

As agents tried to corroborate information from the retired British spy Christopher Steele, reporters began calling the F.B.I., asking whether the accusations in his reports were accurate.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times
Policy and Tradition

The F.B.I. bureaucracy did agents no favors. In July, a retired British spy named Christopher Steele approached a friend in the F.B.I. overseas and provided reports linking Trump campaign officials to Russia. But the documents meandered around the F.B.I. organizational chart, former officials said. Only in mid-September, congressional investigators say, did the records reach the Crossfire Hurricane team.

Mr. Steele was gathering information about Mr. Trump as a private investigator for Fusion GPS, a firm paid by Democrats. But he was also considered highly credible, having helped agents unravel complicated cases.

In October, agents flew to Europe to interview him. But Mr. Steele had become frustrated by the F.B.I.’s slow response. He began sharing his findings in September and October with journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, according to congressional testimony.

So as agents tried to corroborate Mr. Steele’s information, reporters began calling the bureau, asking about his findings. If the F.B.I. was working against Mr. Trump, as he asserts, this was an opportunity to push embarrassing information into the news media shortly before the election.

That did not happen. Most news organizations did not publish Mr. Steele’s reports or reveal the F.B.I.’s interest in them until after Election Day.

Congress was also increasingly asking questions. Mr. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, had briefed top lawmakers that summer about Russian election interference and intelligence that Moscow supported the Trump campaign — a finding that would not become public for months. Lawmakers clamored for information from Mr. Comey, who refused to answer public questions.

Many Democrats see rueful irony in this moment. Mr. Comey, after all, broke with policy and twice publicly discussed the Clinton investigation. Yet he refused repeated requests to discuss the Trump investigation.

Mr. Comey has said he regrets his decision to chastise Mrs. Clinton as “extremely careless,” even as he announced that she should not be charged. But he stands by his decision to alert Congress, days before the election, that the F.B.I. was reopening the Clinton inquiry.

The result, though, is that Mr. Comey broke with both policy and tradition in Mrs. Clinton’s case, but hewed closely to the rules for Mr. Trump. Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that alone proves Mr. Trump’s claims of unfairness to be “both deeply at odds with the facts, and damaging to our democracy.”

Carter Page in December 2016. He had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.CreditPavel Golovkin/Associated Press
Spying in Question

Crossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials. But by mid-fall 2016, Mr. Page’s inquiry had progressed the furthest. Agents had known Mr. Page for years. Russian spies tried to recruit him in 2013, and he was dismissive when agents warned him about it, a half-dozen current and former officials said. That warning even made its way back to Russian intelligence, leaving agents suspecting that Mr. Page had reported their efforts to Moscow.

Relying on F.B.I. information and Mr. Steele’s, prosecutors obtained court approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page, who was no longer with the Trump campaign.

That warrant has become deeply contentious and is crucial to Republican arguments that intelligence agencies improperly used Democratic research to help justify spying on the Trump campaign. The inspector general is reviewing that claim.

Ms. Yates, the deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, signed the first warrant application. But subsequent filings were approved by members of Mr. Trump’s own administration: the acting attorney general, Dana J. Boente, and then Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

“Folks are very, very careful and serious about that process,” Ms. Yates said. “I don’t know of anything that gives me any concerns.”

After months of investigation, Mr. Papadopoulos remained largely a puzzle. And agents were nearly ready to close their investigation of Mr. Flynn, according to three current and former officials. (Mr. Flynn rekindled the F.B.I.’s interest in November 2016 by signing an op-ed article that appeared to be written on behalf of the Turkish government, and then making phone calls to the Russian ambassador that December.)

In late October, in response to questions from The Times, law enforcement officials acknowledged the investigation but urged restraint. They said they had scrutinized some of Mr. Trump’s advisers but had found no proof of any involvement with Russian hacking. The resulting article, on Oct. 31, reflected that caution and said that agents had uncovered no “conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts. But the article’s tone and headline — “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia” — gave an air of finality to an investigation that was just beginning.

Democrats say that article pre-emptively exonerated Mr. Trump, dousing chances to raise questions about the campaign’s Russian ties before Election Day.

Just as the F.B.I. has been criticized for its handling of the Trump investigation, so too has The Times.

For Mr. Steele, it dashed his confidence in American law enforcement. “He didn’t know what was happening inside the F.B.I.,” Glenn R. Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, testified this year. “And there was a concern that the F.B.I. was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people.”

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, in January 2017. He assured Mr. Trump, who at the time was the president-elect, that the bureau intended to protect him as Mr. Steele’s reports were about to be published by news outlets.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times
Assurances Amid Doubt

Two weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, senior American intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Russian hacking and deception. They reported that Mr. Putin had tried to sow chaos in the election, undermine Mrs. Clinton and ultimately help Mr. Trump win.

Then Mr. Comey met with Mr. Trump privately, revealing the Steele reports and warning that journalists had obtained them. Mr. Comey has said he feared making this conversation a “J. Edgar Hoover-type situation,” with the F.B.I. presenting embarrassing information to lord over a president-elect.

In a contemporaneous memo, Mr. Comey wrote that he assured Mr. Trump that the F.B.I. intended to protect him on this point. “I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook,” Mr. Comey wrote of Mr. Steele’s documents. “I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the F.B.I. had the material.”

Mr. Trump was not convinced — either by the Russia briefing or by Mr. Comey’s assurances. He made up his mind before Mr. Comey even walked in the door. Hours earlier, Mr. Trump told The Times that stories about Russian election interference were being pushed by his adversaries to distract from his victory.

And he debuted what would quickly become a favorite phrase: “This is a political witch hunt.”
Correction: May 15, 2018
An earlier version of this article misstated that news organizations did not report on the findings of the retired British spy Christopher Steele about links between Trump campaign officials and Russia. While most news organizations whose reporters met with Mr. Steele did not publish such reports before the 2016 election, Mother Jones magazine did.
Reporting was contributed by Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg.

Follow Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos on Twitter: @adamgoldmanNYT and @npfandos. ... ation.html

Ronan Farrow

The whistleblower who leaked Michael Cohen’s financial records is stepping forward to say why: records of bigger, potentially more sensitive, swaths of suspicious transactions appeared to be missing from a government database

Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen’s Financial Records

A law-enforcement official released the documents after finding that additional suspicious transactions did not appear in a government database.

Ronan Farrow
Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.

The payments to Cohen that have emerged in the past week come primarily from a single document, a “suspicious-activity report” filed by First Republic Bank, where Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, L.L.C., maintained an account. The document detailed sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Cohen by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the telecommunications giant A.T. & T., and an investment firm with ties to the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

The report also refers to two previous suspicious-activity reports, or SARs, that the bank had filed, which documented even larger flows of questionable money into Cohen’s account. Those two reports detail more than three million dollars in additional transactions—triple the amount in the report released last week. Which individuals or corporations were involved remains a mystery. But, according to the official who leaked the report, these SARs were absent from the database maintained by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. The official, who has spent a career in law enforcement, told me, “I have never seen something pulled off the system. . . . That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”

Seven former government officials and other experts familiar with the Treasury Department’s FinCEN database expressed varying levels of concern about the missing reports. Some speculated that FinCEN may have restricted access to the reports due to the sensitivity of their content, which they said would be nearly unprecedented. One called the possibility “explosive.” A record-retention policy on FinCEN’s Web site notes that false documents or those “deemed highly sensitive” and “requiring strict limitations on access” may be transferred out of its master file. Nevertheless, a former prosecutor who spent years working with the FinCEN database said that she knew of no mechanism for restricting access to SARs. She speculated that FinCEN may have taken the extraordinary step of restricting access “because of the highly sensitive nature of a potential investigation. It may be that someone reached out to FinCEN to ask to limit disclosure of certain SARs related to an investigation, whether it was the special counsel or the Southern District of New York.” (The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. The Southern District is investigating Cohen, and the F.B.I. raided his office and hotel room last month.)

Whatever the explanation for the missing reports, the appearance that some, but not all, had been removed or restricted troubled the official who released the report last week. “Why just those two missing?” the official, who feared that the contents of those two reports might be permanently withheld, said. “That’s what alarms me the most.”

FinCEN said in a statement that it protects the confidentiality of SARs “in order to protect both filers and potentially named individuals.” The statement added, “FinCEN neither confirms nor denies the existence of purported SARs.” Spokespeople for the special counsel’s office and the Southern District of New York declined to comment. Michael Cohen and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Banks are legally mandated to file suspicious-activity reports with the government in order to call attention to activity that resembles money laundering, fraud, and other criminal conduct. These reports are routed to a permanent database maintained by FinCEN, which can be searched by tens of thousands of law-enforcement and other federal government personnel. The reports are a routine response to any financial activity that appears suspicious. They are not proof of criminal activity, and often do not result in criminal charges, though the information in them can be used in law-enforcement proceedings. “This is a permanent record. They should be there,” the official, who described an exhaustive search for the reports, said. “And there is nothing there.”

Cohen set up the First Republic account for Essential Consultants in October, 2016, shortly before the Presidential election, in order to pay the adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, a hundred and thirty thousand dollars in return for signing a nondisclosure agreement about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. First Republic’s compliance officers later began flagging Cohen’s transactions in the account as possible signs of money laundering. Among other potential violations, the documents cite “suspicion concerning the source of funds,” “suspicious EFT/ wire transfers,” “suspicious use of multiple accounts,” and “transaction with no apparent economic, business, or lawful purpose.” (A spokesperson for First Republic Bank declined to comment.)

By January of this year, First Republic had filed the three suspicious-activity reports about Cohen’s account. The most recent report—the only one made public so far—examined Cohen’s transactions from September of 2017 to January of 2018, and included activity totalling almost a million dollars. It alludes to the two previous reports that the official could not find in the FinCEN database. The first report that the official was unable to locate, which covered almost seven months, appears to have listed a little over a million dollars in activity. The second report that the official was unable to locate, which investigated a three-month period between June and September of 2017, found suspect transfers totalling more than two million dollars.

A substantial portion of this money seems to have ended up in Cohen’s personal accounts. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney filed a separate SAR showing that, during that same three-month period, Cohen set up two accounts with the firm, into which he deposited three checks from his Essential Consultants account, two in the amount of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and one in the amount of five hundred and five thousand dollars. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney marked those transactions, which added up to more than a million dollars, as possible signs of “bribery or gratuity” and “suspicious use of third-party transactors (straw-man).”

Cohen appears to have misled First Republic repeatedly regarding the purpose of the Essential Consultants account. In paperwork filed with the bank, he said that the company would be devoted to using “his experience in real estate to consult on commercial and residential” deals. Cohen told the bank that his transactions would be modest, and based within the United States. In fact, the compliance officers wrote, “a significant portion of the target account deposits continue to originate from entities that have no apparent connection to real estate or apparent need to engage Cohen as a real estate consultant.” Likewise, “a significant portion of the deposits continues to be derived from foreign entities.” David Murray, a former Treasury official focussed on illicit finance, told me, “There are a ton of red flags here. The pattern of activity has indicators that are inherently suspicious, and the volume and source of funds do not match the account profile that was built when the account was opened.”

The report released last week highlights a payment from Cohen’s account to Demeter Direct, Inc. In publicly filed paperwork, Demeter Direct represents itself as a Korean food company. However, a Web site, since taken down, suggested that it was a global consulting firm. After the press began scrutinizing Cohen’s accounts, a man listed as Demeter Direct’s C.E.O., Mark Ko, told CNN that he served as an intermediary and translator in Cohen’s dealings with an aviation firm, majority-owned by South Korea’s government, called Korea Aerospace Industries. According to the First Republic report, the aerospace company paid Cohen a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in November of 2017, the same month President Trump visited South Korea. At the time, the company was lobbying for a controversial multibillion-dollar contract with the U.S. Air Force.

The report also shows how Cohen apparently used the Essential Consultants account for personal expenses. He seems to have used it to pay his American Express, A.T. & T., and Mercedes Benz bills, marking account numbers on the memo lines of his checks. He paid initiation fees and dues to the Core Club, a social club that the Times once described as a “portal to power.” He also cut himself multiple personal checks from Essential Consultants, amounting to more than a hundred thousand dollars, on top of the million he had already deposited into his Morgan Stanley accounts.

In many cases, the suspicious-activity reports highlight activity of potential interest to ongoing investigations, including that of the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Bank compliance officers noted eight payments from a company called Columbus Nova to Cohen’s account between January and August of 2017, totalling five hundred thousand dollars. The investigators wrote that Columbus Nova’s biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, whom they described as “reputed to be a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” The report also points out that Andrew Intrater, Vekselberg’s relative and the C.E.O. of Columbus Nova, donated more than three hundred thousand dollars to Trump-related causes. The report flagged the activity as suspicious “because the CEO’s company transferred substantial funds to the personal attorney of Trump at the same time the CEO reportedly donated substantial funds to Trump’s inauguration fund and joint fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection and the Republican National Committee.”

Other banks also noticed Cohen’s suspicious transactions and filed their own SARs about his activity. Some of those show the banks piecing together the reasons for the transactions from news reports, citing articles from publications including the Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair about Trump, Russia, and secret election-season payments, including the payment to Clifford. One, filed by City National Bank, follows money paid to Cohen by Elliott Broidy, at the time the deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. The report notes, “Broidy also owns a private security company, Circinus, which provides services to the U.S. and other governments. The company has hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the U.A.E.” Broidy has said that Cohen and another lawyer, Keith Davidson, worked out a deal in which Broidy would pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model he had impregnated. Broidy appears to have paid both lawyers for arranging the deal. The City National report shows that Broidy funnelled the payments through Real Estate Attorneys’ Group, a legal corporation. Broidy seems to have paid Davidson two hundred thousand dollars, and to have sent three payments, of $62,500 each, to Cohen—one to the Essential Consultants account and two to the account of Michael D. Cohen and Associates.

A representative for Broidy said that this description of the payments was “not correct,” and that “Mr. Broidy is not going to detail his payments for legal services to Mr. Cohen.” The representative added, “Mr. Broidy did not pay Mr. Davidson.” However, the City National report shows that on November 30, 2017, a wire of two hundred thousand dollars was received by the Real Estate Attorneys’ Group from Broidy. Then, on December 5, 2017, two hundred thousand dollars were transferred from Real Estate Attorneys’ Group to an account belonging to Keith M. Davidson and Associates.

Michael Avenatti, an attorney representing Clifford, who has released summaries of Cohen’s transactions on social media, said, “The Treasury Department should release all of the SARs immediately to the American public.”

Suspicious-activity reports are kept strictly confidential, as a matter of law. “SARs are secret, to protect the government and to protect financial institutions,” the former prosecutor told me. “I don’t think there’s a safe harbor for somebody who discloses it.” According to FinCEN, disclosing a SAR is a federal offense, carrying penalties including fines of up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and imprisonment for up to five years. The official who released the suspicious-activity reports was aware of the risks, but said fears that the missing reports might be suppressed compelled the disclosure. “We’ve accepted this as normal, and this is not normal,” the official said. “Things that stand out as abnormal, like documents being removed from a system, are of grave concern to me.” Of the potential for legal consequences, the official said, “To say that I am terrified right now would be an understatement.” But, referring to the released report, as well as the potential contents of the missing reports, the official also added, “This is a terrifying time to be an American, to be in this situation, and to watch all of this unfold.” ... op_VigLink

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu May 17, 2018 7:40 am

Trump disclosure of Cohen payment raises new legal questions

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump revealed in his financial disclosure Wednesday that he reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen as much as $250,000 for unspecified “expenses,” with no mention of a $130,000 payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual tryst she said they had.

The head of the nation’s ethics office questioned why Trump didn’t include this in his previous year’s sworn disclosure and passed along his concerns to federal prosecutors.

“I am providing both reports to you because you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing,” David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Apol wrote that he considers Trump’s payment to Cohen to be a repayment on a loan and that it was required to be included in Trump’s June 2017 disclosure.

But Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham that he didn’t think the repayment “had to be disclosed at all because I think it was an expenditure that he reimbursed.”

He also the president was “fully aware” of his decision to reveal the fact that Trump had reimbursed Cohen in a previous Fox News appearance and “endorsed the strategy.”

“We wouldn’t do it without him,” Giuliani said on “The Ingraham Angle.” ″He’s the client, after all, and has tremendous judgment about things like this. And I think it — that the OGE, the Office of Government Ethics, basically agreed with us that it had been fully disclosed.”

“The fact is that the president disclosed everything that he could disclose. He can’t disclose more than he knows. And we’re very comfortable with it,” he added.

But ethics experts say that if that payment was knowingly and willfully left out, Trump could be in violation of federal ethics laws.

“This is a big deal and unprecedented. No president has been previously subject to any referral by (Office of Government Ethics) to DOJ as a result of having failed to report an item on their public financial disclosure report,” said Virginia Canter, a former ethics official in the Clinton and Obama White Houses who is now with the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

How Trump dealt with the Daniels hush money in his disclosure has been closely watched, particularly after Giuliani gave interviews earlier this month saying the president had reimbursed Cohen in a series of payments after the campaign was over. Trump and Giuliani have clashed over what the president knew and when he knew it.

In a footnote in tiny type on Page 45 of his 92-page disclosure, Trump said he reimbursed Cohen for “expenses” ranging from $100,001 to $250,000. The report said the president did not have to disclose the payment but was doing so “in the interest of transparency.”

While the disclosure didn’t specify the purpose of the payment, Cohen has said he paid $130,000 to Daniels in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election to keep her from going public about her allegations that she had sex with the married Trump in 2006.

Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, tweeted, “Mr. Trump’s disclosure today conclusively proves that the American people were deceived.”

The tweet continued: “This was NOT an accident and it was not isolated. Cover-ups should always matter.”

The Trump Organization referred questions about the disclosure report to the president’s lawyer Sheri Dillon of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Dillon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Cohen footnote appears in a report giving the first extended look at Trump’s revenue from his properties since he became president. In all, Trump’s vast array of assets — hotels, resorts, books, licensing deals and other business ventures — generated revenue last year of at least $453 million. The report estimated the holdings are worth at least $1.4 billion.

His Washington, D.C., hotel near the Oval Office, a magnet for diplomats and lobbyists, took in $40 million. His Doral golf course and resort in Miami took in $75 million. His Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, received $25 million, and his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, generated $15 million.

Some of the 12-month figures for his properties are down from his previous report, but that earlier report covered about 16 months and so it is not directly comparable.

The figures are before expenses and so give no indication of how much profit the president made off the properties.

Trump has at least $315 million in debt, about the same as he reported a year ago. One of his biggest lenders is Ladder Capital, which has lent more than $100 million. Trump owes Deutsch Bank as much as $175 million.

The debt figures are given in broad ranges in the report and capped at $50 million, so it’s unclear just how much Trump actually owes. The president’s tax returns would give a clear picture, but Trump has broken with tradition by refusing to make them public.

When Trump took office, he refused to fully divest from his global business, another break with presidential tradition. Instead, he put his assets in a trust controlled by his two adult sons and a senior executive. Trump can take back control of the trust at any time, and he’s allowed to withdraw cash from it as he pleases.

His report shows that Trump received $64,840 from the Screen Actors Guild pension fund. Trump has appeared in several movies, including “Home Alone 2” and “Zoolander.”

For operating New York’s Wollman Rink in Central Park, the president took in $9.3 million.

Though it was published three decades ago, Trump’s “The Art of The Deal” last year generated as much as $1 million.


Abdollah and Associated Press writer Richard Lardner contributed from Washington. ... itics.html

Qatar just admitted Trump’s lawyer tried to solicit a million dollar bribe right after the election

The Qatari foreign lobbying scandal that began with a random allegation against President Trump’s failed national security advisor which we broke last week has just spread like wildfire to embattled Trump Family fixer Michael Cohen.

Former Qatari diplomat and Qatar Investments director Ahmed Al-Rumaihi just admitted to The Intercept that President Trump’s personal lawyer Cohen spent a week soliciting a $1 million bribe from him, which resulted in a Trump Tower meeting, arranged by General Flynn on December 12th, 2016. Ryan Grim wrote:

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When Al-Rumaihi asked Cohen more generally about important projects that the investment fund should back, Cohen said there were plenty of options. But Cohen said he would need $1 million first, as part of his fee, al-Rumaihi told The Intercept.
The Qatari told Cohen, “ok” at the time, but told Grim that they have a policy of not paying middlemen, although Trump’s lawyer may have been operating under a different assumption. Of course, Qatar pays political middlemen all of the time and their recently increased lobbying efforts are no secret.

Qatar spends big bucks on infrastructure projects, like this Russian airport they bought only months before their meeting with Cohen. It was no secret that the Trump transition team was hunting for splashy deals and headlines they could get written about them, no matter how little substance existed.

The Qataris now say that they only delivered a false promise after the Trump Tower meeting, in the form of an announcement from the head of the QIA that was leaked “on the background” to Reuters and other outlets.

That’s when Al-Rumaihi says that Cohen proposed to make the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar his partner by delivering “know-how” in exchange for the profits.

As the conversation turned to the infrastructure fund, Cohen suggested that Qatar could revitalize some Midwestern towns, saying, according to al-Rumaihi, “‘For example, we can find a steel factory that is about to shut down. You guys can invest. I’ll give you some names to appoint as partners. You guys put in the money, we will put in the know-how, and share the profits 50-50. We can perhaps get a federal government ‘off-take agreement’ for 10 to 15 years. It will revitalize the city, great PR, you guys will look like you’re saving the city, everybody wins.’”

Al-Rumaihi surmised that the biggest winners would be the silent “partners,” who would put in “know-how,” rather than money and walk away with half the profits.
However, Ahmed Al-Rumaihi’s disclosures to The Intercept do not answer all or really any of the bigger questions about a meeting at Trump Tower just four days after that country’s Rosneft oil deal began closing.

It’s no surprise that President Trump’s personal lawyer was soliciting a bribe from the energy-rich nation of Qatar.

Michael Cohen took in cash from a select list of unsuspecting corporations with the same kind of slick sales pitch that he could turn his presidential access into business results as diverse as telecom, big pharma, and aerospace.

The Qatari Foreign Minister was really the big fish in the room for this meeting, and while the President’s lawyer might’ve been soliciting a million dollar bribe, there would be no reason for a member of the royal family to visit Trump Tower to discuss paying him off.

So we still don’t know the complete events or results of the meeting at Trump Tower which lasted nearly eighty minutes, but Trump’s disgraced former National Security Advisor does; he’s been cooperating with Speical Counsel Mueller for six months. ... -election/

NYT: Papadopoulos, Page Met With ‘Govt Informant’ Ahead Of Election
By Allegra Kirkland | May 16, 2018 4:16 pm

“At least one” U.S. government informant met with Trump campaign officials in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

That person met “several times” with campaign national security advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, according to the report, which offered no additional information on the informant’s identity or connection with U.S. authorities.

The meetings had not previously been reported authoritatively by a major outlet. They were apparently part of the FBI’s frenzied, secretive effort to determine whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russian government while taking pains not to influence the election results.

Conservative media figures from Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel to radio host Rush Limbaugh have spent the last few days raising alarms about what they claim was an FBI informant dispatched to “spy” on the Trump campaign. Their concerns stem from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) weeks-long effort to pursue information about an intelligence source who aided the federal Russia investigation.

Nunes ultimately subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents about that individual. Though the DOJ did not turn them over, citing concerns about the person’s safety, Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) appeared to back down after sitting for a classified briefing with top intel officials last week.

It’s not confirmed that Nunes’ efforts are related to the informant mentioned in the Times article.

Page did not immediately respond to a text from TPM seeking comment. ... rmant-2016

What’s True In Trump-Russia Dossier? Key Parts Proven Over Last Year

By Greg Price On 5/17/18 at 8:10 AM
Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed one year ago today to probe Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The anniversary is not a jubilant celebration for President Donald Trump, who has labeled the investigation a “witch hunt.”

But well before Mueller took the national spotlight, a former British intelligence officer was gathering information about Trump and his campaign’s potential ties and collusion with Russia to win the White House.

Christopher Steele and his 35-page dossier alleged not only collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia, but that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime had cultivated Trump for “years,” and even had potentially damaging information on the billionaire real estate mogul.

Mueller’s probe, which he technically took over from the FBI, was not prompted by Steele's dossier. Instead, the investigation began when former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos drunkenly told an Australian diplomat that he knew Russia had damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Australian officials then alerted U.S. officials and the FBI opened its probe in July 2016.

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Ever since, media reports, U.S. intelligence services and Mueller’s team itself have proven key parts of Steele’s dossier.

Here’s what we know to be true in the dossier that’s plagued Trump since his before his presidency even began.

Dossier Claim: Russia Meddled

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Revelation: Indeed, the U.S. intelligence apparatus came to its conclusion that Russia interfered in 2016’s election in a report released in January 2017. Though Steele’s name is not mentioned in that report, it does back up his reporting that Russia was actively interfering in the election process.

Dossier Claim: Russia Had Dirt on Clinton and DNC

Revelation: Much of the dossier is devoted not only to Trump but Russia’s, specifically Putin’s, distaste for former secretary of state Clinton. “Putin motivated by fear and hatred of Hillary Clinton,” one line of the dossier reads. Another line went: “The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom President Putin apparently both hated and feared.”

Steele later cites one source as stating Russia was behind the leak of Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks.

The U.S. intelligence community confirmed not only that Russia had tried to meddle in the election, but that it was indeed the source of the hacked DNC emails released by WikiLeaks.

Dossier Claim: Putin Was in Charge

Revelation: On the very first page of the dossier, Steele explains that the conspiracy was “endorsed by Putin” and that the effort was “both supported and directed” by him. The U.S. intelligence report reached the same conclusion, writing Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the presidential election.” According to Steele’s sources, Putin and Russia had been cultivating Trump for “at least 5 years.”

GettyImages-941895108 Former Trump Campaign manager Paul Manafort leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse following a hearing on April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his legal team attempted to convince a federal judge on Wednesday to throw out criminal charges filed against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Dossier Claim: Mr. Cohen Goes to Prague

Revelation: The president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was accused in the dossier of meeting with “Kremlin representatives” in Prague in August 2016. Cohen has repeatedly denied traveling to the Czech capital, but McClatchy last month reported Mueller had evidence the trip happened.

The report stated Mueller’s team discovered proof Cohen got to Prague through Germany. The two countries are part of a number of European nations with an open borders agreement that allows undocumented travel. However, no other media outlet has been able to confirm McClatchy’s reporting.

Dossier Claim: Russian Diplomat Was A Spy

Revelation: Steele also claimed that Russia was worried a diplomat named Mikhail Kalugin was heavily involved in the meddling operation. Afraid he would be exposed, Russia pulled Kalugin out of Washington on “short notice.” Steele actually misspelled Kalugin’s name, but the U.S. government had identified Kalugin as a Russian spy, BBC reported in March.

Dossier Claim: Carter Page met with Russians

Revelation: Page previously denied having met Russian government officials during his trip to Russia in July 2016, but admitted to the meeting while speaking to the House Intelligence Committee in November. Page was a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign and in June 2016 delivered a speech in Washington praising Putin. And as early as September 2016 U.S. officials were looking into Page’s contacts in Russia, Yahoo News reported.

Dossier Claim: Manafort Received Payment For Work In Ukraine

Revelation: Manafort, who is facing serious charges from Mueller’s team, worked extensively in Ukraine for years before Trump hired him as campaign chairman in 2016. The longtime Washington lobbyist received $12.7 million from the political party of former pro-Russia Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych between 2007 and 2012, The New York Times reported on August 14, 2016. Manafort resigned from the campaign after that report.

Steele’s dossier states that Yanukovych and Putin met the day after the story broke, and the former made assurances to the latter that no trail could be found.

“This had been held in secret on 15 August near Volgograd, Russia and the western media revelations about Manafort and Ukraine had featured prominently on the agenda,” the dossier reads about the meeting. “Yanukovych had confided in Putin that he did authorize and order substantial kick-back payments to Manafort as alleged but sought to reassure him that there was no document trail left behind which could provide clear evidence of this.”

In April 2017, financial records unearthed by the Associated Press confirmed at least $1.2 million went to Manafort’s company from Ukraine.

Olga Lautman

These are some interesting notes that Manafort took at the Trump- Russia meet!
Remember when this ‘silly little nothing’ meet according to Don Jr was about ‘adoptions’?

These notes definitely look more like discussions re the Magnitsky Act and rewards for lifting them.Image

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu May 17, 2018 2:46 pm

Sex Isn't Everything In Donald Trump's Big Reveal
Stormy Daniels grabs the headlines, but humdrum details in financial disclosure may matter most.
By Timothy L. O'Brien

May 17, 2018, 5:31 AM CDT

Stormy weather. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America
Thanks to the Office of Government Ethics, a U.S. federal agency created after the Watergate scandals to curb the kind of flagrant conflicts of interest that are hallmarks of the current White House, we just received our annual accounting of President Donald Trump’s personal finances.

The big reveal in the document made public on Wednesday is that Trump belatedly disclosed a payment of between $100,001 and $250,000 to his personal lawyer and self-described “fixer,” Michael Cohen. The disclosure states that the president fully reimbursed Cohen in 2017, but doesn’t say for what exactly. It’s reasonable to assume, as everyone has already, that the funds covered Cohen for the $130,000 in hush money he paid Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims she had a sexual encounter with the president.

The president, Cohen and another gaffe-prone Trump advisor, Rudy Giuliani, have spent months tying themselves in knots with conflicting accounts about Trump’s involvement with Daniels. While disclosure of a payment doesn’t clear up matters entirely, it does establish that the hush money came from Trump. But it won’t fully put to rest a debate about whether that payment, channeled through Cohen right before the 2016 presidential election, violated campaign finance laws. And because Trump didn’t disclose the payment last year, when he should have, the OGE’s acting director has asked the Justice Department to consider whether the disclosure was “relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing regarding the president's prior report.”

This is all seedy, of course, and degrades the dignity of Trump’s office. Cohen’s also the subject of a federal fraud investigation, and the recent drumbeat of revelations about him, Daniels and Trump could spill into that probe. If Trump violated campaign finance laws or disclosure requirements in connection with the Daniels payment then he may have legal vulnerabilities. But it’s not clear that he does — and even if he does, how consequential any charges might be.

So while sex helps sell the disclosure form to the general public, the humdrum details in the rest of the report may matter most. All 92 pages — in line after mind-numbing line describing the hodgepodge of shell companies, trademarks, licensing deals, skyscrapers, golf courses and other assets that the president owns or draws income from — remind us just how deeply conflicted he is. His business activities are global, and thus loom uncomfortably over his every bit of diplomacy as the nation’s chief executive. Meanwhile, there are serious questions about whether his more extensive U.S. interests taint White House policymaking.

Everything in the disclosure is self-reported, so readers have to rely on Trump’s own veracity. Allowing an independent auditor to assess the president’s portfolio would go a long way toward making the report more useful, but that’s unlikely to happen during his presidency.

Trump claimed ownership of assets and investments worth at least $1.4 billion in his disclosure and said they generated revenue and income last year of at least $453 million. His previous report in 2017 claimed revenue and income of at least $597 million from assets and investments also worth at least $1.4 billion, but the period covered was about 16 months so it can’t be compared directly to this year’s disclosures. Trump revealed debts of about $311 million this time, with creditors including Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank AG.

When Trump filed his first personal financial disclosure form while running for president, his team putting the report together had trouble with terminology even while boasting of Trump’s “incredible” wealth. They regularly cited “revenue” from Trump’s businesses as “income” to Trump. (“Income” should be the amount of money Trump puts in his own pocket each year and “revenue” the amount of money his businesses pull in — before expenses and other goodies that reside above the bottom line.) Team Trump’s past penchant for conflating personal income with business revenue is gone from this year’s report, perhaps because the OGE was more firmly in charge.

Still, some of the eccentricities of past reports remain. Trump lists 565 positions he holds outside of the federal government, including his membership on the board of the Police Athletic League. He also owns a surprisingly wide variety of equity index funds, many containing sums in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars — hardly the amounts your typical mega-billionaire stuffs into the market.

Trump also owns gold, the go-to investment for market bears. He still has an interest in a mattress company branded with his name, though that had paltry revenue last year. Trump Drinks Israel LLC is still around. It was the successor to Trump’s failed vodka business and only sold kosher vodka to Israel, even though the company’s based in Delaware. Trump has yet to punt a business with a name that seems suited to the political moment: Trump Follies LLC.

That’s all pretty small stuff, though. Trump’s bigger enterprises experienced financial ups and downs. Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach club, and Trump National Doral, a U.S. golf course bought in 2012 for a handsome price, each suffered apparently significant revenue hits, though, again, it’s hard to make apples-to-apples comparisons between this year’s report and last year’s. Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel — which sits on federal government land, meaning the president is essentially leasing the property from himself — appears to be humming along nicely, as do one of his Scottish golf courses and his Irish golf course.

The disclosure forms don’t require Trump to provide detailed information about his business partners, and that can make it harder to discern any broader problems lurking in the portfolio. Regardless, the sheer volume of operations speaks to just how easy it might be for Trump to mingle policymaking with dealmaking. Think about last Sunday, for example, when the president took to Twitter to let the Chinese know he loves them:

Trump’s sudden willingness to perform an about-face on his own administration’s decision to effectively put ZTE out of business — by cutting it off from U.S. suppliers for violating trading sanctions — could have been influenced by any number of things.

Maybe Trump needed China’s help to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. So he tweeted. Maybe he was afraid of how effectively China was using its own tariffs to target the U.S. farm belt, where Trump voters reside. So he tweeted. Or maybe he didn’t want to jeopardize China’s decision to pour $500 million into an Indonesian project that will include Trump-branded hotels. And so he tweeted. That latter idea would have been unthinkable if applied to most presidents in the modern era. But Trump isn’t like most presidents. His financial disclosure — imperfect, subjective and stocked with a porn-star payment — is evidence of that. ... -l-o-brien

The Definitive Story Of How Trump’s Team Worked The Trump Moscow Deal During The Campaign

On the day of the third Republican presidential debate, Trump personally signed the letter of intent.

May 17, 2018, at 11:18 a.m.
All through the hot summer campaign of 2016, as Donald Trump and his aides dismissed talk of unseemly ties to Moscow, two of his key business partners were working furiously on a secret track: negotiations to build what would have been the tallest building in Europe and an icon of the Trump empire — the Trump World Tower Moscow.

Talks to construct the 100-story building continued even as the presidential candidate alternately bragged about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and rejected suggestions of Russian influence, and as Russian agents worked to sway US public opinion on Trump’s behalf.

While fragments of the Trump Moscow venture have trickled out — most recently in a report last night by Yahoo News — this is the definitive story of the Moscow tower, told from a trove of emails, text messages, congressional testimony, architectural renderings, and other documents obtained exclusively by BuzzFeed News, as well as interviews with key players and investigators. The documents reveal a detailed and plausible plan, well-connected Russian counterparts, and an effort that extended from spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island to planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for the presidential candidate himself.

Michael Cohen
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
The tower — a sheer, glass-encased obelisk situated on a river — would have soared above every other building in Moscow, the architectural drawings show. And the sharply angled skyscraper would have climaxed in a diamond-shaped pinnacle emblazoned with the word “Trump,” putting his name atop the continent’s tallest structure.

Michael Cohen, the president’s embattled personal fixer, and Felix Sater, who helped negotiate deals around the world for Trump, led the effort. Working quietly behind the scenes, they tried to arrange a sit-down between Trump and Putin, the documents show. Those efforts ultimately fizzled. But the audacious venture has been a keen focus of federal investigators trying to determine if the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

The tower — a sheer, glass-encased obelisk — would have soared above every other building in Moscow.
Last month, Senate Intelligence Committee staffers peppered Sater for hours with questions about the Trump Moscow project. Sater testified that Cohen acted as the “intermediary” for Trump Moscow and was eager to see the deal through because he wanted to “score points with Trump.”

Sater also testified that Trump would regularly receive “short updates about the process of the deal.” Cohen has said that he briefed Trump three times on the deal, all before the end of January 2016. Cohen, the White House, and the Trump Organization did not return messages seeking comment.

Special counsel Robert Mueller planned to ask Trump himself about his discussions with Sater and Cohen about the Trump Moscow project, according to the New York Times. One of Mueller’s questions was: “What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater, and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?” Additionally, Mueller intended to query Trump about any discussions he had during the campaign “regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin.”

Even before the appointment of Mueller as special counsel in May 2017, FBI agents investigating Russia’s interference in the election learned that Cohen was in frequent contact with foreign individuals about Trump Moscow — and that some of these individuals had knowledge of or played a role in 2016 election meddling, according to two FBI agents. The agents declined to name those individuals. Both agents have detailed knowledge about the bureau’s work on the collusion investigation that predated Mueller’s appointment.
Donald Trump and Felix Sater (center) in 2007.
Patrick Mcmullan / Getty Images
Donald Trump and Felix Sater (center) in 2007.

In public statements, Cohen has said that he informed Trump the deal was dead in January 2016, but new records show he was still working on it with Sater at least into June. In May, six weeks before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Sater asked Cohen when he and Trump would go to Moscow. In a text message, Cohen replied: “MY trip before Cleveland. Trump once he becomes the nominee after the convention.”

Throughout the nine-month effort, Sater, who was born in the Soviet Union and worked for years as an undercover source for US intelligence agencies and the FBI, told Cohen he had connections to top Russian officials and businessmen: Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, brothers who grew up with Putin and were considered his “shadow cabinet”; Andrey Molchanov, a billionaire Russian politician Sater was introduced to by a close personal friend, who proposed building the tower on his property; and a former member of Russia’s military intelligence to whom Sater passed photographs of Cohen’s passport to obtain a visa.

Whatever the significance of the negotiations to the election, the men took measures to keep the plans secret. Text messages often ended with a simple “call me.” They communicated, at times, via Dust, a secure, encrypted messaging application. Sater once warned that they “gotta keep this quiet.”

But now, the story can be told.

View of the Lenin mausoleum and the Kremlin.
Lingxiao Xie / Getty Images
View of the Lenin mausoleum and the Kremlin.

Spinning in Putin’s chair

For three decades, Donald Trump came up short in Moscow.

The first attempt to build a signature tower in the Russian capital was in 1987, when he visited the Soviet Union to scout locations. In 1996, his company announced another “exploratory trip” that came to nothing. In 2005, he set his sights on an abandoned pencil factory before that deal flickered and failed. In 2013, after hosting the Miss Universe pageant there, Trump tweeted, “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next.”

His children tried, as well. Donald Trump Jr. visited six times during an 18-month period beginning in 2008, describing it as a “scary place” to do business because of what he saw as inherent corruption in Russia. During a 2006 visit, Donald Jr. was joined by his sister Ivanka and Sater, who said Trump Sr. asked him to chaperone. At the time, Sater was with a development company called Bayrock Group, which helped scout locations and secure financing for the Trump Organization’s licensing deals across the globe.

Ivanka "sat behind the desk, spun in the chair twice, and that was that.”
For Ivanka and Donald Jr., Sater arranged a tour of the Kremlin. Sater, as would be the case over and over in his life, had an inside connection. He phoned an old friend, a Russian billionaire, whom he knew through his Bayrock connections. The billionaire sent a fleet of cars and guards to escort them through the Kremlin, and when a tour guide pointed out Putin’s office, Ivanka Trump asked if she could sit in his chair at an antique desk. One of the guards said, “Are you crazy?”

“I said, ‘What is she going to do, steal a pen?’” Sater recalled. “He let us in. She sat behind the desk, spun in the chair twice, and that was that.”

An architectural rendering of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.
Provided to BuzzFeed News
An architectural rendering of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.

The tallest tower in Europe

After Trump announced his candidacy in July 2015, Sater saw the opportunity of a lifetime: Why not parlay the presidential run into a business deal?

“I figured, he’s in the news, his name is generating a lot of good press,” Sater told BuzzFeed News. “A lot of Russians weren’t willing to pay a premium licensing fee to put Donald’s name on their building. Now maybe they would be.”

The first step was to get the Trump Organization to sign on, so Sater arranged a meeting sometime in September 2015 with Cohen in Manhattan. The two men were old friends who had hung out as teenagers in Brooklyn. Their paths intersected again in the 2000s at Trump Tower, where Sater was an adviser and Cohen later became one of Trump’s attorneys. (Sater had once occupied the same office, three doors down from Trump, that Cohen used in Trump Tower.)

Sater said he intended to negotiate an even split between himself and the Trump Organization: as much as $100 million.
The plan was fairly simple. Trump no longer built towers, but he licensed his name and expertise to give real estate projects an air of luxury. These licensing deals were especially lucrative for the Trump Organization, pulling in millions in fees and, often, a cut of the sales. At the meeting in late September, Sater said he agreed to line up the developer and the financing; Cohen would get Trump to sign on the dotted line.

The building, originally called Trump World Tower Moscow, was supposed to be the tallest in Europe at well over 100 stories. Sater said he intended to negotiate an even split between himself and the Trump Organization: as much as $100 million or more, which would have amounted to 30% of the sales. “But first I needed to get more meat on the bones and show the Trump Organization that they needed me,” he told BuzzFeed News.

Sater used a network of contacts from his days in both business and intelligence to line up potential suitors. On Oct. 9, he emailed Cohen to say he planned to meet with Molchanov, the billionaire developer, to try to persuade him to provide the land on which to build Trump Moscow. Molchanov did not return a message seeking comment.

On Oct. 12, he again emailed Cohen. Their surrogates in Moscow would be meeting with Putin and a “top deputy” just two days later, and they had financing: VTB Bank President and Chairman Andrey Kostin was on board to fund the project, Sater said in an email.

The bank was a dicey choice. VTB was under US sanctions at the time, with American citizens and companies forbidden to do business with it. Asked by congressional investigators if he knew the bank was blacklisted, Sater responded: “Of course. I wasn’t seeking funding, the local development partner would have. Trump Organization never gets financing from local partners.”

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“Mr. Kostin or any other VTB Group’s senior representatives never held any negotiations on any matter relating to the construction of the Trump Tower," a VTB spokesperson said in a statement. "We’d like to stress that no VTB Group subsidiary ever had any dealings with Mr. Trump, his representatives or any companies affiliated with him.”

The licensing agreement came together relatively quickly. Sater turned to a wealthy Moscow developer he knew from the days when Ivanka spun around in Putin’s chair: Andrey Rozov. His company, IC Expert, became the developer, and the sides traded proposals. At one point, as the letter of intent was passed back and forth during the negotiations, the Trump Organization changed an upfront fee from $100,000 to $900,000. On Oct. 28, 2015, the day of the third Republican presidential debate, Trump personally signed the letter of intent.

In a celebratory email sent from his Trump Organization account, Cohen asked Sater and Rozov that the “nature and content of the attached LOI not be disclosed” until later and said “we are truly looking forward to this wonderful opportunity.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and billionaire Arkady Rotenberg.
Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and billionaire Arkady Rotenberg.

“No such thing as a former Russian spy”

About a week after Trump signed the document, Sater and Rozov, the developer, went on vacation to the Bahamas. Rozov rented Little Whale Cay, a private island, for $175,000, and the two men went diving and spearfishing. In an email, Sater told Cohen that another, unidentified friend was flying in to join them. This mystery individual, who is not named in the documents and whom Sater would not identify, knew two of the richest and most powerful men in Russia, the Rotenberg brothers.

In the 1960s, Arkady Rotenberg joined the same judo club as a young Putin, and they have remained close ever since. Arkady Rotenberg now controls a wide swath of interests in Russia, from banking to construction. His younger brother, Boris, controls SGM Group, a massive construction company. Sater saw the mystery man, who had worked with the Rotenbergs, as his entrée to the brothers.

“Everything will be negotiated and discussed not with flunkies but with people who will have dinner with Putin.”
Over cocktails and cookouts on the island, Sater told BuzzFeed News, he “was pitching the shit” out of the mystery man. Trump had recently praised Putin on TV, so Sater emailed Cohen saying, “Get me the clip.” His plan was to have the mystery man pass it to the Rotenbergs. Neither the brothers nor Rozov returned messages seeking comment.

“Everything will be negotiated and discussed not with flunkies but with people who will have dinner with Putin and discuss the issues and get a go-ahead,” Sater wrote to Cohen on Nov. 3. “My next steps are very sensitive with Putin’s very, very close people. We can pull this off.”

On Dec. 1, Sater emailed Cohen, asking him to send him photographs of his passport to facilitate a trip to Moscow.

The following day, reporters for the Associated Press met with Trump on the campaign trail and asked him about Sater. “I’m not that familiar with him,” Trump replied.

Negotiations for Cohen to visit Russia began to heat up. On Dec. 13, Sater emailed that he had an old friend on the phone with him right then, who was trying to arrange the trip. This friend is a former member of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit that the US intelligence community believes interfered during the 2016 election.

Sater had known the spy for decades. He was one of Sater’s most reliable contacts during the two decades he worked as a confidential source for US law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The man, who is not being named because CIA officials say his life could be in jeopardy, delivered to Sater Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone numbers in 1998 and, later, handed over photographs of a North Korean official seeking nuclear weapons.

The man is no longer formally associated with the GRU, but Sater told Senate investigators he understands that “there is no such thing as a former Russian spy.” The former spy declined to comment.

On Dec. 17, Cohen forwarded a Google alert to Sater. Putin had described Trump as “talented” and “a very colorful man.” Cohen wrote: “Now is the time. Call me.”

Two days later, Sater told Cohen that their invitations and visas were being arranged by VTB Bank, and that Kostin, the bank’s powerful president and chairman, would meet Cohen in Moscow. Key to getting VTB on board was the former GRU spy; Sater told congressional and special counsel investigators that the former spy said he had a source at VTB Bank who would support the deal.

“Kostin will be at all meetings with Putin so that it is a business meeting not political,” Sater wrote to Cohen. “We will be invited to the Russian consulate this week to receive invite and have visa issued.”

But the Russians still needed Cohen’s passport. That afternoon, Cohen sent iPhone photographs of his passport, including the first page with his passport number, photograph, and other identifying details. The pages match those shared with BuzzFeed News last May. Sater told BuzzFeed News that he sent them to the former GRU spy.

On Dec. 19, Sater asked for Trump’s passport as well.

Cohen wrote: “After I return from Moscow with you with a specific date for him.”

Sater: “What do you mean?”

Cohen: “It’s premature for his and I am the one going.”

Architectural renderings of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Architectural renderings of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.

“I will not let you fuck with my job”

Around Christmas 2015, polls had Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.

But Cohen was antsy. He traveled to St. Barts with his family and grew impatient waiting for the invitation to Moscow. Four days after Christmas, he emailed Sater: “No response from Russia?”

The next day: “Where are they?”

Sater: “I’m waiting for them after New Year’s.”

The two men had known each other since they were roughneck teenagers hanging out in Brooklyn. Sater, who was born in the Soviet Union and came to the US when he was 6, became a stockbroker, lost his license after a bar brawl, then helped scam investors out of $40 million in a stock fraud. He escaped prison time for that crime by becoming a valuable confidential source for US intelligence agencies and the FBI, doing everything from locating al-Qaeda training camps to spying on Russia's military-industrial complex to going undercover to catch cybercriminals.

Cohen, meanwhile, grew up in Long Island, got his law degree, and worked as a personal injury attorney in Queens. He was an owner of a failed casino boat venture in Florida, and his family amassed taxi medallions and real estate holdings in New York City before he landed a job as Trump’s personal fixer.

Cohen and Sater grew closer during their time at the Trump Organization. Both men hooked up again sometime in 2006 and were intimately familiar with how the company structured its deals across the globe.

“Not you or anyone you know will embarrass me in front of Mr. T.”
But now, Cohen lashed out at his friend with a fusillade of angry text messages on Dec. 30. “One month plus since the signing of the LOI that I wasted my time on. I put the others all on hold and still, despite every conversation with you, nothing.” He went on: “I will not let you fuck with my job and playing point person.” And he revealed his deep-seated need for Trump’s approval: “Not you or anyone you know will embarrass me in front of Mr. T when he asks me what is happening.”

Like Cohen, Sater was also supposed to visit St. Barts over the holidays with his family, but he wrote Cohen that he was too hurt and embarrassed by a recent ABC News story that quoted Trump, from a 2013 deposition, saying he wouldn’t know Sater if he walked in the room.

Cohen: “I don’t give a shit about the story that lasted all of one day. No one picked it up because no one cares.”

Sater: “It lasted one day because I kept my mouth shut for you and your team.” He added: “The schmuck that I am I said no comment. Because you told me to kill it, and we have bigger fish to fry.”

The messages ended with a sharp rebuke from Cohen: “Not going to argue with you. Please don’t reach out to anyone any longer regarding this.”

But Sater refused to give up. The following morning, New Year’s Eve 2015, he sent Cohen an image of a letter from GenBank — not VTB Bank, as they had earlier discussed — inviting the men to Moscow for a visit.

Just nine days earlier, the US Treasury Department had sanctioned GenBank for operating in Crimea after the disputed Russian takeover. GenBank became the first Russian financial institution to move into the Crimean peninsula.

"After almost two months of waiting you send me some bullshit letter from a third-tier bank.”
Sater told Cohen that GenBank operates “through Putin’s administration and nothing gets done there without approval from the top. The meetings in Moscow will be with ministers — in US, that’s cabinet-level and with Putin’s top administration people. This likely will include Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary. To discuss goals, meeting agenda and meeting time between Putin and Trump.”

Cohen was incensed. “First it was a government invite, then VTB and then some third-rate bank signed by a woman Panamarova with no title. It’s like being invited by Independence Savings Bank. Let me do this on my own. After almost two months of waiting you send me some bullshit letter from a third-tier bank and you think I’m going to walk into the boss’s office and tell him I’m going there for this? Tell them no thank you and I will take it from here.”

Sater: “Michael a lot of work has been done and it’s not a third-rate anything.”

Cohen: “We’re done. Enough. I told you last week that you thinking you are running point on this is inaccurate. You are putting my job in jeopardy and making me look incompetent. I gave you two months and the best you send me is some bullshit garbage invite by some no name clerk at a third-tier bank. So I am telling you enough as of right now. Enough! I will handle this myself.”

He added, “Do you think I’m a moron? Do not call or speak to another person regarding MY project.”
Putin and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov (right).
Alexei Druzhinin
Putin and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov (right).

“We would like to respectfully invite you to Moscow”

Even though Cohen vowed to go with an “alternate,” it is unknown whom he meant. Two FBI agents told BuzzFeed News that Cohen spoke to multiple Russians about Trump Moscow. They did not name the individuals, and Sater, who suspected Cohen was working his own sources, said he never learned their identities.

But if Cohen truly had contacts, he didn’t act like it. On Jan. 21, he tried to reach Peskov — the Kremlin’s press secretary, whom Sater had mentioned in his emails to Cohen — by writing to a general email address for media inquiries.

“I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals,” Cohen wrote to Peskov.

"It’s set, they are waiting and will walk you into every office you need to make sure you are comfortable for DT trip.”
Peskov later said that he did not respond to Cohen.

Four days later, Cohen received a letter from Andrey Ryabinskiy, a Russian mortgage tycoon and boxing promoter. “In furtherance of our previous conversations regarding the development of the Trump Tower Moscow project,” Ryabinskiy wrote, “we would like to respectfully invite you to Moscow for a working visit.” The meeting would be to tour plots of land for the potential tower, to have “round table discussions,” and to coordinate a follow-up visit by Trump himself. Ryabinskiy did not return a message left with his attorney.

It is not clear how Cohen responded, but Sater asked Cohen for travel dates for both Cohen and Trump the same afternoon Ryabinskiy sent the letter. “Will do,” Cohen wrote.

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Early the next morning, Sater asked if Cohen could take a phone call with “the guy coordinating” — whom Sater later testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee was the former GRU officer. Cohen said he could indeed take the call. It is not clear how the conversation went, but Sater’s subsequent email suggests it was positive: “It’s set, they are waiting and will walk you into every office you need to make sure you are comfortable for DT trip,” Sater wrote.

But after Jan. 27, communications between Cohen and Sater appear to go dark. And in a statement he released a week before he was scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee last September, Cohen said the Trump Moscow effort “was terminated in January of 2016,” which Cohen noted was “before the Iowa caucus and months before the very first primary.”

But the venture did not end in January.

Trump during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Mark Reinstein / Getty Images
Trump during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“The entire business class of Russia will be there”

The early months of 2016 were a crucial period both for Russian meddling in the election and for Trump’s political ascendancy. In March, hackers later revealed to be connected to Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate — or GRU, the same agency that Sater’s source once worked for — gained access to thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. Those emails would later be published slowly, mainly by WikiLeaks, creating a steady drumbeat of negative press about Hillary Clinton.

By May, Trump had rocked the political world, beating more than 10 candidates to lock in the Republican nomination as he headed toward the convention in Cleveland. That same month, Sater surfaced again in texts and emails to pitch Trump Moscow.

Sater has told investigators that during the first months of 2016, he and Cohen were using Dust, at Cohen’s suggestion, to communicate secretly about the Moscow project. Those messages, which were encrypted and are deleted automatically, have disappeared forever, Sater told BuzzFeed News. But on May 3, the day Trump won the Indiana primary and his top opponent Ted Cruz suspended his campaign, Sater sent Cohen an ordinary text message: “Should I dial you now?”

“I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention.”
Sater told BuzzFeed News that he and Cohen had a conversation about setting up Cohen’s trip to Moscow to reignite the tower project. The next day, May 4, they discussed when in the presidential campaign Trump should take the extraordinary step of flying to a country at odds with the United States in order to negotiate a major business deal. Sater texted Cohen: “I had a chat with Moscow. ASSUMING the trip does happen the question is before or after the convention. I said I believe, but don’t know for sure, that it’s probably after the convention. Obviously the pre-meeting trip (only you) can happen anytime you want but the 2 big guys were the question.”

Cohen wrote back that day: “MY trip before Cleveland. Trump once he becomes the nominee after the convention.”

Sater: “Got it. I’m on it.”

The following day, Sater told Cohen that Peskov — the press officer whom Cohen had written to in January — “would like to invite you as his guest” to an economic forum in Russia. The country’s top government and finance officials would gather at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Sater said, and Peskov “wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either Putin or Medvedev.”

“The entire business class of Russia will be there as well. He said anything you want to discuss, including dates and subjects, are on the table.” He concluded, “Please confirm that works for you.”

“Works for me,” Cohen said.

Two weeks later, Sater told Cohen he was filling out a visa application for the two of them. And on June 13, with the Republican convention due to open in just over a month, Sater forwarded Cohen a letter from Alexander Stuglev, the head of Roscongress, a Russian economic organization that hosts the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, formally inviting them. Stuglev did not respond to requests for comment.

The next morning, Sater texted Cohen four times, and the two men met at about 2:45 p.m. in the atrium of Trump Tower. Sater wanted to go to the Russian consulate that day, in order to get the visas in time for the Economic Forum, which started four days later. But Cohen, Sater recalled, demurred, and so the trip to St. Petersburg never happened.

“He said, ‘We’ll go after Cleveland,’” Sater said, referring to the Republican convention. “So I figured that’s what we’d do.”

Sater kept holding out hope — working his sources in Russia right through the convention — until July 26, 2016, when Sater, while relaxing in the backyard of his Long Island home, read a tweet by Trump and knew right then that the deal was dead.

“Fuck me, I thought to myself. All that work for nothing,” Sater told BuzzFeed News.

He poured himself a big glass of scotch, he recalled, and lit a cigar. ●

Anthony Cormier is an investigative reporter/editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. While working for the Tampa Bay Times, Cormier won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. ... .vvPxgKqgY
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby BenDhyan » Thu May 17, 2018 7:12 pm

Dunno slad, it seems the pendulum is starting to swing the other way...but do feel free to harsh your buzz... :)

Why Robert Mueller probably won’t — and perhaps shouldn’t — indict Trump

May 17 at 3:15 PM

Rudolph W. Giuliani is not the most credible messenger. But he seems pretty sure that Robert S. Mueller III has guaranteed that President Trump won’t be indicted. Giuliani says Mueller's team informed Trump's lawyers that such a thing wasn’t even on the table because the special counsel will follow existing Justice Department guidelines that say presidents can’t be indicted.

This has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Those anxiously waiting for Mueller to take down Trump cried foul. “My own view is that [the president] can be indicted,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told MSNBC on Thursday. Some see this as a clear abdication of Mueller’s responsibility in holding Trump accountable — or worse, an admission that a president is “above the law.”

Here’s what we can say about this:

It seems eminently plausible — if not likely — that Mueller's team actually provided this assurance.
Mueller may be setting expectations for what will come of all this.
Indicting Trump would be a recipe for huge political unrest.

The timing of the assurance is key here. According to Giuliani, it was provided in a meeting a few weeks ago. This was notably after word leaked that Mueller had told Trump’s lawyers that Trump wasn’t a criminal target of the investigation. Given that, it seems likely Mueller’s team knew this would also leak out.

As I wrote at the time, the previous disclosure was perhaps the first real indication that Mueller didn’t believe he could indict Trump. Some (rather optimistically) hoped Mueller was baiting the president into a false sense of security ahead of Trump testifying, but the most likely explanation was that Trump wasn't a criminal target because Mueller didn’t believe he could be one. Justice Department guidelines that say this were drafted in 1974 and reaffirmed in 2000.

But, Trump opponents may say, guidelines are just that: guidelines. Guidelines aren't even technically rules. That’s true, but they are based upon interpretations of rules, and going outside of them would lead to a legal case. So not only would we have a potential indictment of a president, but we’d have to have a legal case over whether that indictment was lawful in the first place.

Which brings us to the “witch hunt.” Lots and lots of people agree with Trump that the Mueller investigation is indeed a witch hunt. A Quinnipiac University poll last month showed 82 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of all Americans believe that. Imagine that Mueller attempts to indict Trump, despite previous Justice Department guidance that says “the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting President ... [would] violate the constitutional separation of powers.” However valid you think the cries of witch hunt are right now, this would certainly throw fuel on the fire and perhaps even lend legitimacy to that claim. Mueller would be doing something that the same Justice Department that appointed him has long said would “violate the constitutional separation of powers.”

This is a practical and political argument rather than a moral one, of course. And people will rightly point out that politics — including the increasingly bare-knuckles politics employed by Trump throughout this process — shouldn’t influence Mueller’s decisions. We should all hope that these decisions are made in a political vacuum. But practical considerations must be made when stepping outside the normal bounds of Justice Department guidelines.

And anyone in Mueller’s situation has to recognize what’s feasible, and what’s likely to lead to an actually conclusion for the American people. And there are two remedies in place for Congress and the American people to render verdicts: impeachment and the 2020 campaign, respectively. An indictment of Trump would be inherently and legally controversial, and that's why it makes sense that Mueller both wouldn’t do it and wouldn’t want to do it.

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

Postby stillrobertpaulsen » Thu May 17, 2018 8:37 pm

Excellent analysis.

Mueller's investigation isn't going to 'wrap up' soon — and Trump is still in peril

By Harry Litman

May 16, 2018 | 11:20 AM


Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. The milestone has emboldened White House critics of the probe to declare, as Vice President Mike Pence did on NBC News, that "it is time to wrap it up."

Never mind that the Mueller investigation is, comparatively, in its infancy. The Whitewater probe of Bill and Hillary Clinton, for example, began in 1994 and ended more than six years later. Mueller's 12 months of work has turned up more clear wrongdoing than Kenneth Starr ever did: There have been 20 indictments and 5 guilty pleas, including prominent senior members of the campaign and administration, and that doesn't take into account the wealth of information that Mueller has yet to make public.

Some Republicans suggest that public opinion is shifting, that Trump's refrain of "witch hunt" may be gaining purchase. As the president's latest mouthpiece Rudolph W. Giuliani crowed, "We've gone from defense to offense."

"Wrap it up" advocates can point to a slight uptick in Trump's approval ratings, and a downtick in public support for the investigation. They seem to think that if Mueller doesn't close up shop soon in response to political pressure, Trump's position is strong enough that he could put an end to it, perhaps by firing the special counsel or the special counsel's boss, Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, and weather any storm the move occasions.

They're wrong. The probe isn't going to end soon, simply or painlessly for this president. Trump remains in great peril.

Anyone paying attention over the last year knows Mueller will not yield to political pressure. His investigators haven't leaked; they have ignored vicious personal attacks; they haven't veered in the slightest from prosecutorial professionalism.

So to "wrap it up," Trump would have to make a move, but will he?

The president and his lawyers are strategizing about whether he will agree to be interviewed by Mueller, either voluntarily or under subpoena. If he were to refuse, as the current swing of the pendulum suggests, and then try to end the probe, he would only seem more guilty and undermine his support even among Republicans. If his refusal were to lead, as expected, to a court battle, we would expect the Supreme Court to settle the issue. Any move by Trump to preempt it would again only undermine his credibility.

In addition, the president and his circle are well aware of how fast the midterm election is approaching and what effect an attempt to fire Mueller could have on the outcome. They want to avoid any action that would help the Democrats flip the House. Such a shift would change every calculation, not least because a Democratic majority could move to impeach the president early next year.

Of course, Trump may calculate that he could get away with firing Mueller now, if he moved quickly and the Republican leadership rallied to his side. But it is equally possible that Congress would respond with legislation to reinstate Mueller. Again, the field of battle would shift to the courts.

Most importantly, even a successful ouster of Mueller would not derail the investigation at this point. Too much evidence has been gathered, and too many prosecutors, who have surely considered and planned for the contingency, stand ready to carry on. Should Trump try to shutter the entire special counsel's office, a much graver and politically and legally riskier act than firing Mueller or Rosenstein, other divisions in the Department of Justice, in particular the Southern District of New York, would also be ready to take up the charge.

The strength of all that evidence, the careful work done thus far, and the indictments already filed are the special counsel's protection against "witch hunt" tweets and protestations that the investigation is already over with nothing to show for it.

In the course of the past year, we've learned not to underestimate what Mueller knows and what bombshell he may have prepared. It may involve the Russians and the campaign, it may involve obstruction of justice, but there are other relevant threads as well: the true motive behind the Seychelles meeting between Trump associate Erik Prince and the head of a Russian wealth fund, the hacking of Democratic Party emails and its links to Trump political advisor Roger Stone, the recent sale of Russia's state owned oil company to Qatar.

Last week we discovered that Mueller was way ahead of us on the huge payments made to Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen for access to the president. We don't yet know what he's found out from cooperating witnesses, including Michael Flynn and Carter Page, that might point directly at the president. And there is still the possibility that Paul Manafort or Cohen could decide to cooperate with the investigation.

None of these threads signals Trump's removal from office. A conviction in the Senate, no matter what happens in the midterm, would require a good number of Republicans to turn against the president, which seems remote absent a smoking gun that proves grave criminal conduct. But it is more than plausible that the probe and associated investigations will result in additional indictments of Trump associates — including Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. — and will leave Trump seriously wounded, an untenable candidate in 2020. Once he leaves office, his legal exposure, both civil and criminal, would skyrocket.

The "wrap it up" crowd is indulging in wishful thinking. The first anniversary of the Mueller investigation is unlikely to be the last.
"Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."
-Jim Garrison 1967
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu May 17, 2018 9:04 pm

^^^^ :)

Once he leaves office, his legal exposure, both civil and criminal, would skyrocket.

The "wrap it up" crowd is indulging in wishful thinking. The first anniversary of the Mueller investigation is unlikely to be the last.

What do you give Mueller for his one year anniversary? A new cooperating witness :P

......and then there is this...every day a surprise

Paul Manafort's ex son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai flips in secret plea deal

as far back as January

don't forget Pauly lookin at 300 years in jail :D

Manafort's former son-in-law cuts plea deal with government

3:54 PM ET Fri, 4 May 2018 | 01:11
Paul Manafort
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Paul Manafort

The former son-in-law of Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, has cut a plea deal with the Justice Department that requires him to cooperate with other criminal probes, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The guilty plea agreement, which is under seal and has not been previously reported, could add to the legal pressure on Manafort, who is facing two indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort has been indicted in federal courts in Washington and Virginia with charges ranging from tax evasion to bank fraud and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Jeffrey Yohai, a former business partner of Manafort, was divorced from Manafort's daughter last August.

Yohai has not been specifically told how he will be called on to cooperate as part of his plea agreement, but the two people familiar with the matter say they consider it a possibility that he will be asked to assist with Mueller's prosecution of Manafort.

Legal experts have said that Mueller wants to keep applying pressure on Manafort to plead guilty and assist prosecutors with their probe. Manafort chaired the Trump campaign for three months before resigning in August 2016.

Both Trump and Russia have denied allegations they colluded to help Republican Trump win the election.

Hilary Potashner, a public defender who is representing Yohai, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manafort's spokesman, Jason Maloni, declined to comment.

Andrew Brown, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, had been overseeing an investigation into Yohai's real estate and bank dealings in California and New York several months before Mueller was appointed to his post in May 2017.

Yohai's agreement, which was concluded early this year, included him pleading guilty to misusing construction loan funds and to a count related to a bank account overdraft.

While the deal was cut with Brown's office, the federal government can ask for help at any time, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for Brown did not respond to a request for comment and a spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.

Manafort trial pending

Manafort is to go on trial later this year to fight the two indictments. The charges against him range from failing to disclose lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party to bank fraud.

As a close business partner, Yohai was privy to many of Manafort's financial dealings, according to the two people familiar with the matter and court filings in the bankruptcies of four Los Angeles properties in 2016. In addition to co-investing in California real estate, the two cooperated in getting loans for property deals in New York, Manaforts indictments show.

Mueller sent a team of prosecutors to interview Yohai last June, asking him about Manaforts relationship with Trump, his ties to Russian oligarchs, and his borrowing of tens of millions of dollars against properties in New York, Reuters reported in February, citing people with knowledge of the matter. ... uters.html

Russian Billionaire's Plane Linked to Mysterious Meeting Scrutinized in Mueller Probe: Report

A new report from revealed significant new details about the mysterious Seychelles meeting held by Erik Prince, an ally of President Donald Trump, while also raising more pressing questions.

Prince, the founder of the private military company Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, met with the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund in Seychelles ahead of Trump's inauguration. This meeting has been of interest to congressional investigators as a part of their efforts to examine Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with the Trump campaign, and a recent report from the Daily Beast found that special counsel has interviewed Prince.

Mueller has separately been reported to be investigating the meeting itself, as notes.

Prince says the meeting was a mere coincidence, but multiple reports suggest that it had been pre-planned, raising the possibility that the military contractor perjured himself before Congress.

On Thursday, reported that flight records show that the plane of Russian billionaire and government official Andrei Skoch arrived in Seychelles the day before the meeting. Though it isn't certain that Skoch was on the plane, says the passengers reportedly stayed at the same hotel where Prince's meeting took place.

As the report notes, Skoch has since faced sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department. It goes on to speculate that if Skoch attended the meeting with Prince, government business — such as the imposition of sanctions — may have come up as a key discussion point, despite Prince's testimony that sanctions were not mentioned. ... ller-probe

Wendy Siegelman

As Mueller probes Seychelles meetings, details emerge on Russian plane: Two people familiar with the plane said it is owned by Andrei Skoch, a Russian billionaire who is now a deputy in the Russian State Duma & was sanctioned by the US, by @ErinBanco

As Mueller probes Seychelles meetings, details emerge about Russian plane: exclusive ... chell.html

Here's more on Andrei Skoch from a 2012 article, on his partnership with Alisher Usmanov, and sometimes business associate of members of the Russian organized crime Solntsevskaya Organization
Partner breaks silence over Usmanov deals ... 144feabdc0

Andrei Skoch's business partner Alisher Usmanov is business partners with Silicon Valley tech company investor Yuri MilnerWendy Siegelman added,

Alisher Usmanov is business partners with Yuri Milner, and Usmanov has been linked to investments in Twitter, Facebook, and Kushner's real-estate investment company Cadre ... 4666615810

Wendy Siegelman Retweeted Juha Keskinen
In March @MacFinn tweeted that Andrei Skoch's (Metallo Invest) P4-MGU flew to Seychelles a day before the meetingWendy Siegelman added,

Andrei Skoch's (Metallo Invest) P4-MGU flew to Seychelles a day before the meeting. It flew from Moscow and stopped at UAE where Erik Prince lives before continuing to Seychelles the next day.



I meant @macfinn44 ... 5952013312


Qatar-linked company close to bailing Jared Kushner's family business out of troubled Manhattan tower

Chris Sommerfeldt
The Kushners bought the 41-story office tower between 51st and 52nd Streets for a record-breaking $1.8 billion in 2007.
A company with ties to the Qatari government is nearing a deal to bail Jared Kushner's family company out of its financially beleaguered Manhattan skyscraper, raising concerns about the senior White House adviser's potential conflicts of interest, according to people familiar with the matter.

Kushner, who's President Trump's son-in-law, was stripped of his top-secret security clearance earlier this year amid reports that wealthy foreign individuals and governments were trying to curry favor with him via Kushner Companies, his family's multi-billion dollar real estate agency.

Spurring those concerns, a person familiar with the discussions told the Daily News Thursday that commercial real estate conglomerate Brookfield Properties is about to take control of Kushner's flagship building at 666 Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

The Qatar Investment Authority, the Middle Eastern country's government-controlled holding company, is Brookfield's second-largest shareholder, its stake only falling behind Brookfield's former parent company.

Kushner Companies declined to comment.
Jared Kushner attends a meeting at the White House on March 20. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images)
The New York Times first reported the pending Brookfield deal.

A spokesman for the publicly-traded Brookfield Properties pushed back against suggestions that the Qatari government is playing a role in the Kushner deal. "They are in no way involved," the spokesman said.

A person with knowledge of Brookfield's company structure told The News money for the Kushner takeover would be sourced from a private fund that QIA is not an investor in.

The Kushners bought the 41-story office tower between 51st and 52nd Streets for a record-breaking $1.8 billion in 2007. But the building fell into financial disarray, and today it only earns back about half its mortgage annually with 30% of office space vacant.

The source familiar with the pending deal said Brookfield would take over Kushner Companies' lease on 666 Fifth Avenue. Brookfield is looking to make "significant" renovations, including replacing the building's characteristic aluminum façade with floor-to-ceiling windows, according to the person.

Kushner left his family's business after Trump's election and has as a senior White House adviser been tasked with a laundry list of high-profile issues, including brokering peace between Israel and Palestine.

But while he stepped down as chief executive, Kushner kept his ownership stake in the family firm.

News of the Brookfield takeover comes less than two years after Kushner Companies failed to close a sale of 666 Fifth Avenue to Anbang, a Chinese insurance behemoth closely connected to that country's iron-fisted ruling class. The deal collapsed amid skepticism from lawmakers concerned about Kushner blending geo-politics with family business. ... -1.3995209
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri May 18, 2018 1:50 pm

A Comprehensive List Of Everything Don Jr. Doesn’t Know About That Infamous Meeting

All 216 things.

Ashley Feinberg
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday released more than 2,500 pages of documents from its inquiry into the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016. One of the bigger, more troubling revelations from that release is the fact that, at least by the evidence of his five hours of interviews, Donald Trump Jr. seems to have lived his entire adult life in a coma.

How else to explain all the things Don Jr. does not know about his business or even his own daily life? According to his testimony, he doesn’t know his own home phone number. He doesn’t know who at his company does background checks. Was he the guy passing along certain well wishes to his father? “I don’t know that I was ever the person,” he said. The fact that he manages to go even a day without getting both feet stuck in paint cans and falling down a well should be applauded.

Here is a comprehensive list of everything Don Jr. claims he doesn’t know, in his own words (with some partial quotes), regarding his 2016 meeting with Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and an unclear number of Russians. There are 216 items in total.

1. On what music promoter Rob Goldstone meant when he said that he “can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultrasensitive. So wanted to send to you first”: “I don’t know.”

2. On whether he remembers what singer and son-of-an-oligarch Emin Agalarov said on their two-minute phone call on June 6, 2016: “I don’t.”

3. On whom he talked to for four minutes directly after that call: “I have no idea.”

4. On whether he remembers what he did for 25 minutes in between two phone calls with Emin Agalarov: “I don’t.”

5. On whether he knows what he talked about for three minutes on his second call with Emin Agalarov: “I do not.”

6. On whom he talked to at 4:07 p.m. the next day: “I don’t know.”

7. On whether he remembers what that call was about: “No, I don’t.”

8. On what he told brother-in-law Jared Kushner and his dad’s campaign manager Paul Manafort was the purpose of the June 9 meeting: “I don’t even know if I told them that.”

9. On whether Emin Agalarov has any specific ties to the Russian government: “I’m not aware of specific ties.”

10. On whether Emin Agalarov has any general ties to the Russian government: “I would only speculate.”

11. On whom he was going to meet with on June 9: “I did not know who I was going to be meeting with.”

12. On whether there was an eighth person at the meeting: “I just can’t remember.”

13. On whether Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin was at the meeting: “I don’t recall now.”

14. On whether the people at the meeting introduced themselves: “I don’t recall.”

15. On whether he had ever communicated with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya before the actual meeting: “Not to my knowledge.”

16. On how translator Anatoli Samochornov was introduced at the meeting: “I don’t recall him being introduced.”

17. On how Georgian-American businessman Ike Kaveladze was introduced: “He was introduced — I actually don’t remember how he was introduced.”

18. On why Kaveladze was at the meeting: “I don’t recall.”

19. On whether anyone in the meeting mentioned the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Prevezon Holdings: “It sounds familiar, but I can’t recall.”

20. On whether he had been told that Veselnitskaya had been in court right before the meeting: “I do not know that to be a fact.”

21. On whether anyone in the meeting asked if his dad could do something about the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Prevezon Holdings if he became president: “Not that I remember.”

22. On whether Veselnitskaya gave him any names of the Democratic National Committee supporters supposedly involved in a tax scheme: “I don’t recall.”

23. On whether he knows Goldstone well: “I don’t know that I know him well enough.”

24. On whether he knows if there was a meeting between the lawyer representing the anti-Magnitsky Act effort and the Trump transition team: “I do not.”

25. On whether The New York Times accurately quoted him when it wrote, “Asked at that time whether he had ever discussed government policies related to Russia, the younger Mr. Trump replied ‘A hundred percent no’”: “I do not know.”

26. On how he would know if he met any Russian nationals on the campaign trail: “I don’t know how I would know.”

27. On whether his dad helped to draft his July 8, 2017, statement about the June 9, 2016, meeting: “I don’t know.”

28. On who actually did draft the statement: “Well, there were numerous statements.”

29. On how many people worked on drafting the statement: “I don’t know.”

30. On whether he has copies of the various drafts: “I don’t know.”

31. On whether he communicated with anyone else from the June 9 meeting to discuss their public statements: “Not that I recall. I may have.”

32. On whether he knows Belarusan-American businessman Sergei Millian: “Not that I’m aware of.”

33. On what title Boris Epshteyn had in the Trump campaign: “I don’t recall that.”

34. On whether he’s aware of Alfa Bank: “No.”

35. On how well he knows former Trump Sr. adviser Carter Page: “If you put him in this room today, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you who he was.”

36. On when he first met George Papadopoulos: “I have no idea.”

37. On what Papadopoulos did for the campaign: “I don’t recall at this time.”

38. On whether Rick Gates officially worked with the Trump campaign: “I don’t know if he was affiliated officially.”

39. On what Gates actually did with the campaign: “I don’t recall the specific title or role.”

40. On whether his landline phone at work tracks calls to his number: “I don’t know.”

41. On whether he kept a calendar during the campaign: “I imagine very generally.”

42. On whether he remembers where he was when he first received Goldstone’s “Russia-Clinton, private and confidential” email: “I don’t.”

43. On whether he was traveling with the campaign when he received the email: “I don’t recall that.”

44. On whether he discussed the email with anyone after receiving it: “Not that I recall.”

45. On whether he discussed the email with anyone over the following weekend: “Not that I remember.”

46. On whether he talked to anyone about the email ever: “I don’t recall.”

47. On whether he discussed the planned June 9 meeting with Paul Manafort prior to Manafort emailing him, “See you then”: “I don’t recall discussing it with him at that time.”

48. On how Manafort would have known what the meeting was about if he had never discussed it with him: “I don’t know.”

49. On whether Manafort ever asked him about the meeting: “Not that I recall.”

50. On why his lawyers gave the Senate Judiciary Committee an incomplete version of the email he’d forwarded to Manafort: “I do not know.”

51. On how he decided which version of the email to release on Twitter: “I don’t know.”

52. On what he thought Goldstone was offering in the email: “I didn’t know what exactly to make of the email.”

53. On whether Goldstone’s offer of “very high level sensitive information” alarmed him: “I don’t know.”

54. On why it might not have alarmed him: “I don’t know because I don’t remember thinking about it at the time.”

55. On whether he even thought about the email that was offering sensitive information from Russia on Hillary Clinton (and to which he responded almost immediately): “I don’t recall thinking about it at the time.”

56. On whether he ever followed up “other than in response to Rob following up with me three days late”: “I don’t know I ever followed up.”

57. On whether he loved that the potentially incriminating information was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump”: “I don’t know. I don’t recall.”

58. On whether he knows if Goldstone also sent the email to his dad’s then-assistant, Rhona Graff: “I do not.”

59. On whether he also thought the information was “ultrasensitive”: “I didn’t know what it was.”

60. Whether he ever actually spoke on the phone to Emin Agalarov: “I don’t recall.”

61. On whether his dad uses a blocked number on any of his phones: “I don’t know.”

62. On whether Manafort uses a blocked number on any of his phones: “I don’t know.”

63. On whether he’d be surprised to find out that one of the numbers he spoke to on June 7 belongs to Manafort: “I don’t know.”

64. On whether he spoke to Manafort on June 6, as his phone records indicate he did: “I don’t recall.”

65. On whom he spoke to 15 minutes later (it was Jared Kushner): “I don’t know off the top of my head.”

66. On whether he thinks he would have mentioned to either of them an email he’d received just two days prior labeled “Russia-Clinton, private and confidential”: “I just don’t recall.”

67. On whether Manafort asked him any questions about the meeting beforehand: “Not that I recall.”

68. On whether Kushner asked him any questions about the meeting beforehand: “Not that I remember.”

69. On whether he shared information or well wishes with his dad: “I don’t know that I was ever the person.”

70. On whether anyone told his dad about the meeting: “I don’t know.”

71. On the Crown prosecutor of Russia: “I don’t know what that even is.”

72. On whether Manafort knew Rinat Akhmetshin: “I do not know if he knew him.”

73. On whether he knows if Manafort knew Natalia Veselnitskaya: “I do not.”

74. On whether Kushner knew Rob Goldstone prior to the meeting: “He may have met Mr. Goldstone at the WGC [World Golf Championships] Championship if he was there, I don’t even know if he was.”

75. On whether Kushner knew anyone in the meeting at all: “I don’t believe so.”

76. On whether he had talked to Kushner about the meeting before The New York Times reported on it: “I don’t remember.”

77. On whether anyone else was involved in that conversation that may or may not have happened: “I don’t know.”

78. On what prompted him (possibly) to talk to Kushner about the meeting before it was reported: “I don’t remember.”

79. On who asked questions in the meeting: “I don’t recall who asked.”

80. On how exactly he phrased his question to Veselnitskaya about what any of what she was discussing had to do with getting dirt on Clinton: “I don’t recall.”

81. On whether he specifically asked if they had incriminating information on Clinton: “I don’t believe I specifically asked that.”

82. On whether he would have accepted incriminating information, had it been presented: “It depends.”

83. On whether he knows what campaign social media director Dan Scavino did with the email Goldstone sent to both of them labeled “Russia’s largest social media network ‘VK’ offers Trump campaign message to over 2 million registered Russian-American voters in the USA”: “I do not.”

84. On whether VK ever provided social media messaging for the Trump campaign: “I don’t know.”

85. On what his dad was referring to when he said, four days before the meeting, “I’m going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting”: “I have no idea.”

86. On whether anyone had told his dad about the meeting: “I don’t know.”

87. On whether Paul Manafort had discussed the meeting with his dad when Manafort met with him earlier on June 9: “I don’t know.”

88. On whether he traveled out of the country on June 29: “I don’t recall.”

89. On whether his dad had seen the original email chain discussing the meeting prior to Don Jr. releasing his statement on July 8, 2017: “I don’t know.”

90. On what he understood a speaking bureau employee to mean by “cover” when she wrote to him saying, “Are you up for doing something during the G7 [summit] in Sicily with Fabien? We were thinking that with the G7 taking place that would be the ‘cover’ if we need it”: “I didn’t.”

91. On whether anyone ever took action on Goldstone’s email about VK: “I don’t know.”

92. On whom he was producing documents for the first time he went back and found the meeting email chain: “I don’t know.”

93. On whether anyone on the president’s team saw the email chain before they helped Don Jr. craft his statement about it on July 8: “I don’t actually know if they saw it, no.”

94. On when the meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak took place: “I don’t remember the exact timing of when they took place.”

95. On whether he asked Jared Kushner or campaign adviser Michael Flynn about the meeting they had with Kislyak in Don Jr.’s office: “I don’t think I did.”

96. On whether he had any interaction with Kislyak: “None that I recall.”

97. On whether he knows what was discussed during Kushner and Flynn’s meeting with Kislyak, which was held in his office: “I do not.”

98. On when he started using WhatsApp: “I don’t know.”

99. On whether his WhatsApp messages were reviewed for submission to the Judiciary Committee: “I don’t know.”

100. On whether he has a home phone: “I don’t even know the number of it.”

101. On whether he knows if he used his home phone for campaign purposes: “No.”

102. On whether anyone contacted him on WhatsApp about campaign matters: “I don’t believe so, but I’ll go back and check.”

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103. On who his dad’s lawyers are: “I don’t know.”

104. On whether White House Counsel Don McGahn helped draft his statement: “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

105. On whether presidential lawyer Ty Cobb helped draft his statement: “I don’t know.”

106. On where he was at the time of the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia: “I don’t know.”

107. On whether Russians or former “Soviet Republic” investors are involved in any of his licensing deals: “None that I can recall, but there may be small — we’re not in charge of who does financing for what.”

108. On how he first met real estate developer Felix Sater: “I don’t remember.”

109. On whether he knows who approached whom when he did first meet Sater: “I don’t.”

110. On whether Sater was a principal at Bayrock Group: “I don’t know their financial structure.”

111. On whether he recalls who brought a particular Fort Lauderdale deal to the Trump Organization: “No, I don’t.”

112. On whether he did any sort of background check on Sater before doing business with him: “I don’t recall.”

113. On what agencies the Trump Organization uses for background checks: “I don’t remember the names of the agencies.”

114. On who at the Trump Organization handles background checks: “There are people.”

115. On whether lawyer Michael Cohen had a relationship with Sater before the Trump Organization did business with him: “I think we did business with Mr. Sater before we met Michael Cohen, but I could be mistaken.”

116. On whether he knows why Sater had a Trump Organization business card: “I don’t.”

117. On whether he has any idea how Sater got a Trump Organization business card: “I don’t.”

118. On who at the Trump Organization handles business cards: “I don’t know.”

119. On whether he learned about Sater’s criminal history recently or in the past: “I don’t recall.”

120. On what his role was in the development of the hotel-condo Trump SoHo: “I don’t know that I had a defined role.”

121. On whether he received any income or salary or fees other than his equity interest through Trump SoHo: “Not that I remember.”

122. On whether he recalls who secured the financing for the Trump SoHo deal: “I don’t.”

123. On whether he knows who supplied the debt side of the deal: “I don’t recall exactly.”

124. On whether any domestic banks provided financing: “I don’t remember.”

125. On whether any foreign banks provided financing: “I don’t remember.”

126. On whether they did any “additional diligence” on Bayrock before developing Trump SoHo with that company: “I don’t know if we did additional diligence.”

127. On whether they did due diligence on the Sapir Organization before entering into the Trump SoHo deal: “I don’t remember.”

128. On whether there were ever any meetings about Felix Sater’s criminal history being discovered: “Not that I recall.”

129. On whether he remembers if anyone tried to notify the deal’s financiers about Sater’s criminal history: “No, I don’t.”

130. On whether his dad ever knew about Sater’s criminal history: “I don’t know.”

131. On whether he knows how many people who bought condos in Trump SoHo were U.S.-based versus foreign-based: “I don’t.”

132. On whether Prodigy, the sales agent, would have told the Trump Organization where the buyers were based: “I don’t know that it would matter to us where the buyers came from.”

133. On what “anonymous buyers” means: “I don’t know what that means.”

134. On whether Trump SoHo allowed anonymous buyers: “I don’t know.”

135. On whether any Trump SoHo buyers paid in all cash for their units: “No idea.”

136. On whether Prodigy keeps track of buyers who pay in all cash: “I don’t know that it would matter to Prodigy.”

137. On whether it ever matters if a buyer pays in all cash: “I don’t think so.”

138. On whether the Trump Organization ever performed any due diligence on the buyers of particular units it sold itself: “I don’t recall.”

139. On what the structure was of the sales teams for various Trump properties: “I just don’t remember.”

140. On whether he’s familiar with the Swiss Development Group: “I’m not.”

141. On whether he knows who former Kazakhstan official and allegedly corrupt investor Viktor Khrapunov is: “I do not.”

142. On whether Khrapunov ever owned any condos in Trump SoHo: “I don’t know.”

143. On whether he knows who the counterparties were in the prospective Trump Tower Moscow deal: “I don’t.”

144. On whether the counterparties had any connection to Felix Sater: “I don’t know.”

145. On whether he knows how father Aras and son Emin Agalarov were first introduced to his dad: “I don’t.”

146. On when the Trump Organization discussed Trump Tower Moscow with the Agalarovs: “I don’t remember the exact timing.”

147. On when exactly the Trump Organization was exploring a project in Azerbaijan: “I don’t know the exact timing.”

148. On who was involved in the potential Azerbaijan project: “I don’t recall.”

149. On who the potential counterparty on the Azerbaijan project was: “I don’t remember.”

150. On whether he knows why the Azerbaijan project never got built: “I don’t.”

151. On whether Aras Agalarov, who is from Azerbaijan, was involved in the Azerbaijan project: “I don’t know.”

152. On how he first met Emin Agalarov: “I don’t remember how we were first introduced.”

153. On whether he knows if any of the Agalarovs attended his dad’s inauguration: “I don’t.”

154. On whether any of the Agalarovs were invited to his dad’s inauguration: “I don’t know.”

155. On whether Aras Agalarov has any connection to Vladimir Putin: “I don’t know.”

156. On whether Emin Agalarov has any connection to Vladimir Putin: “I don’t know.”

157. On whether it came as a surprise to him when Rob Goldstone referenced a connection between the Agalarovs and the Russian government in the original email chain: “I don’t know.”

158. On whether he thought about it at all: “I don’t know if I thought about it.”

159. On whether the Trump Organization checks to see if counterparties for potential deals are prohibited from doing deals with people from the U.S.: “I would imagine that would fall to whoever’s doing the background check.”

160. On whether he knows what the Trump Organization actually does to confirm the finances of counterparties: “I don’t.”

161. On whether the Trump Organization ever performed any due diligence on the Agalarovs: “I don’t know.”

162. On whether he knows the name “Ivan Markov”: “I don’t.”

163. On whether anyone else had ever met with the Trump Organization to discuss a Trump property in Moscow: “Maybe. I don’t know.”

164. On whether the Trump Organization’s legal department keeps a file of all its letters of intent: “I don’t know that they do, but I assume they would.”

165. On what the Trump Organization considered developing in 2016: “I just don’t remember what it was.”

166. On how many licensing deals the Trump Organization had in 2016: “I don’t recall.”

167. On whether he knows what his dad did during the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant or whom he met with: “No, not in any detail.”

168. On whether he knows who Oleg Deripaska is: “I don’t.”

169. On whether he knows who Peter Katsyv is: “I don’t.”

170. On whether he knows who Dennis Katsyv is: “No.”

171. On whether he knows who Sergei Gorkov is: “I don’t believe so.”

172. On whether he knows who Igor Sechin is: “Not that I recall.”

173. On whether he knows who Konstantin Kilimnik is: “I don’t.”

174. On whether he knows who Dmitry Peskov is: “I don’t believe I’ve met him.”

175. On whether he knows who Sergei Ivanov is: “No.”

176. On whether he knows who Igor Diveykin is: “I don’t.”

177. On whether he knows who Konstantin Kosachev is: “No.”

178. On whether he knows who Mikhail Kulagin is: “No.”

179. On whether he knows who Mikhail Fridman is: “Not that I recall.”

180. On whether he’s ever had any communications with Oleg Govorun: “I don’t believe so.”

181. On whether he knows who Govorun is: “No.”

182. On whether he’s ever had any communications with Pyotr Aven: “Doesn’t sound familiar.”

183. On whether he knows who Aven is: “No.”

184. On whether he’s ever heard of VTB Bank: “Not that I recall at this time.”

185. On when he last saw Felix Sater in person: “It’s been years.”

186. On whether he knows if Sater visited Trump Tower in July 2016: “I don’t.”

187. On when he last spoke to Sater: “Also years.”

188. On when he last communicated with Sater in any form: “I have no idea.”

189. On whether he knew that Michael Cohen and Felix Sater met in January 2017: “I did not know.”

190. On whether he is familiar with Ukrainian lawmaker Andrew Artemenko: “I’m not.”

191. On when and how he first heard that someone had stolen information from the DNC: “I don’t know.”

192. On whether he recalls when he first heard about the availability of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails: “I don’t.”

193. On when he first heard that Podesta had been the target of cyber attacks: “I don’t recall.”

194. On whether he ever talked to anyone on the campaign’s social media team about using information that was obtained through the attacks on the DNC and Podesta: “I just don’t remember having any of those conversations.”

195. On whether he recalls when those conversations would have occurred: “No.”

196. On whether he nows who Peter Smith is: “No.”

197. On whether Michael Flynn ever made any efforts to obtain Clinton’s emails: “I don’t know.”

198. On whether Steve Bannon ever made any efforts to obtain Clinton’s emails: “I don’t know.”

199. On whether Kellyanne Conway ever made any efforts to obtain Clinton’s emails: “I don’t know.”

200. On whether Sam Clovis ever made any efforts to obtain Clinton’s emails: “I don’t know.”

201. On whether Carter Page ever made any efforts to obtain Clinton’s emails: “I don’t know.”

202. On whether Roger Stone ever made any efforts to obtain Clinton’s emails: “No idea.”

203. On who dealt with Stone: “I don’t know if anyone did.”

204. On whether Stone had an actual role in the campaign: “I don’t know that he had an actual role in our campaign.”

205. On whether Stone communicated directly with his dad: “I don’t know.”

206. On whether he talked about former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to Congress with anyone in the Trump Organization: “Nothing specific that I recall.”

207. On whether he was at Mar-a-Lago with his dad and Michael Flynn in the days before Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser: “I don’t believe so, but I don’t know.”

208. On whether Flynn had conversations with any other foreign government officials that have not been disclosed: “I’m not aware of any.”

209. On his understanding of whether Flynn resigned or was fired: “I don’t know that I have an understanding beyond what was reported.”

210. On what DC Leaks is: “Never even heard of DC Leaks.”

211. On whether he knows who Guccifer 2.0 is: “I don’t believe so.”

212. On whether his dad has had any contact with Flynn since Flynn’s resignation: “I don’t know.”

213. On what the conversations he’s had with Paul Manafort since Manafort’s resignation as campaign chair on Aug. 18, 2016, have been about: “I don’t know.”

214. On whether he talked to Jared Kushner before Kushner spoke to the Senate intelligence committee: “I don’t recall speaking to him about that specifically.”

215. On whether he’s seen Attorney General Jeff Sessions since the election: “I may have seen him as part of the transition team after the election.”

216. On whether he knows who on the transition team vetted candidates for administration jobs: “I don’t.” ... 9345d52258

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri May 18, 2018 4:53 pm

Exclusive: Special Counsel subpoenas another Stone aide in Russia probe - sources
Mark Hosenball, Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed a key assistant of long-time Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone, two people with knowledge of the matter said, the latest sign that Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is increasingly focusing on Stone.

The subpoena was recently served on John Kakanis, 30, who has worked as a driver, accountant and operative for Stone.

Kakanis has been briefly questioned by the FBI on the topics of possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the WikiLeaks website, its founder Julian Assange, and the hacker or hackers who call themselves Guccifer 2.0, one of the people with knowledge of the matter said.

Mueller has not scheduled a grand jury appearance for Kakanis, the person said.

WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 each published emails and other documents from the Democratic Party in 2016 that U.S. intelligence agencies say were hacked by Russian operatives in an effort to tip the election in favor of then Republican nominee Trump.

Michael Becker, Kakanis’ lawyer, did not respond to multiple requests for comment and Mueller’s office declined comment.

In an emailed statement to Reuters on Friday, Stone said he believed that Mueller’s scrutiny on him stemmed from “misapprehensions and misconceptions” created by the media, and that he would ultimately be exonerated of any alleged wrongdoing.

“I sincerely hope when this occurs that the grotesque, defamatory media campaign which I have endured for years now will finally come to its long-overdue end,” wrote Stone, one of Trump’s closest political advisers in the years before he ran for president.

During the 2016 Republican primaries, a Stone political action committee paid more than $130,000 to an entity called “Citroen Associates” for “voter fraud research and documentation” and “research services consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Florida state records identify the owner of Citroen Associates as John P. Kakanis.
The subpoena handed to Kakanis is the latest development suggesting that Stone, an
early Trump backer whose reputation as an aggressive political operative dates back to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, is being looked at by Mueller.

Reuters reported earlier this week that FBI agents working for Mueller delivered two subpoenas to Jason Sullivan, a social media and Twitter expert who worked for Stone during the 2016 campaign, and that agents told him Mueller’s team wanted to question him about Stone and WikiLeaks.

Some of Stone’s comments during the elections have prompted questions from investigators in Congress, and others, about whether he had advance knowledge of the Democratic Party material allegedly hacked by Russian intelligence and sent to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published it.

Stone, including in an appearance before the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee last September, has repeatedly said he never got any hacked emails from Assange or WikiLeaks or Russians, and that he never passed any hacked emails to Trump, his campaign or anyone else.

Mueller is investigating whether Russia meddled in the presidential election and if Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign. Both Russia and Trump deny collusion.

Other Trump associates who have been questioned by Mueller, including former campaign advisors Sam Nunberg and Michael Caputo, have also been asked about Stone and WikiLeaks.

“They asked me about Roger’s businesses – who he worked with prior to the 2016 election. They asked me about Roger’s tax returns,” Nunberg said in a phone interview earlier this week, adding that he believed Mueller was stepping outside his mandate in casting such a wide net around Stone’s activities. ... ce=twitter

Manafort’s Former Son-in-Law Pleads Guilty, Is Working With Federal Prosecutors

Jeffrey Yohai, who worked with Manafort on real-estate deals, pleaded guilty to federal charges and may be assisting Mueller.

Margaret HartmannMay 17, 2018 11:48 pm

Paul Manafort. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jeffrey Yohai, Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law, pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in January and has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as part of his plea deal. His attorney, James Hicks, told BuzzFeed, “I can only confirm that he has reached a plea agreement,” and it’s unclear exactly what he pleaded guilty to. Reports from Politico and The Wall Street Journal said he pleaded guilty to either fraud or conspiracy charges related to real-estate loans on properties in New York and California.

Yohai, who was divorced from Manafort’s daughter Jessica in August, worked with his father-in-law on a number of real-estate projects, which led to several bankruptcy filings in late 2016. One of the indictments Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought against President Trump’s former campaign manager accused him of committing bank fraud by telling one of his son-in-laws to pretend he was living in a Manhattan apartment that they were renting out. According to the Journal, Yohai also pleaded guilty to misrepresenting his income and assets to obtain an American Express Black Card, then running up charges he couldn’t pay.

Mueller brought charges against Manafort over an elaborate bank fraud and money laundering scheme; he pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial in Virginia in July, and in D.C. in September. Rick Gates, who was Manafort’s longtime business partner and worked under him in the Trump campaign, was facing similar charges but cut a plea deal in February.

While Mueller is believed to be trying to pressure Manafort to flip too, he’s been fighting the charges. This week one judge rejected his claim that Mueller doesn’t have the authority to charge him for crimes outside of Russian election meddling, but the judge in the other case is still considering that argument. On Thursday prosecutors gave U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III an un-redacted copy of a memo detailing what specific activities Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller to investigate. Trump’s allies in Congress are trying to obtain a copy of the memo, though DOJ precedent prohibits them from sharing records from an ongoing investigation.

It’s unclear if Yohai will be asked to provide information that could be used in Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort. In a May 10 court filing, Yohai said he had missed deadlines in a New York civil case partly “due to his involvement in the federal investigation by Office of Special Counsel.” A lawyer for the opposing side said the judge told him that he needed to produce documents and sit for a deposition, “special counsel or no special counsel.” ... utors.html
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri May 18, 2018 11:15 pm

‘Bigger than Watergate’: Trump joins push by allies to expose role of an FBI source

President Trump’s allies are waging an increasingly aggressive campaign to undercut the Russia investigation by exposing the role of a top-secret FBI source. The effort reached new heights Thursday as Trump alleged that an informant had improperly spied on his 2016 campaign and predicted that the ensuing scandal would be “bigger than Watergate!”

The extraordinary push begun by a cadre of Trump boosters on Capitol Hill now has champions across the GOP and throughout conservative media — and, as of Thursday, the first anniversary of Robert S. Mueller III’s appointment as special counsel, bears the imprimatur of the president.

The dispute pits Trump and the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee against the Justice Department and intelligence agencies, whose leaders warn that publicly identifying the confidential source would put lives in danger and imperil other operations.

The stakes are so high that the FBI has been working over the past two weeks to mitigate the potential damage if the source’s identity is revealed, according to several people familiar with the matter. The bureau is taking steps to protect other live investigations that the person has worked on and is trying to lessen any danger to associates if the informant’s identity becomes known, said these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence operations.

Trump reacted on Twitter on Thursday to recent news reports that there was a top-secret source providing intelligence to the FBI as it began its investigation into Russia’s interference in the election process.

“Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI ‘SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT,’ ” Trump tweeted. He added, “If so, this is bigger than Watergate!”

Trump’s attorney, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, said in an interview with The Washington Post that the president believes some law enforcement officials have been conspiring against him.

“The prior government did it, but the present government, for some reason I can’t figure out, is covering it up,” Giuliani said, adding that confirmation of an informant could render the Mueller investigation “completely illegitimate.”

Giuliani said Trump believes it is time for the Justice Department to release classified documents about the origin of the Russia probe, requested by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), that are expected to contain details about the confidential source.

“It’s ridiculous,” Giuliani said. “You guys in the press should have them. I don’t know why the current attorney general and the current director of the FBI want to protect a bunch of renegades that might amount to 20 people at most within the FBI.”

The Post first reported earlier this month that an FBI informant and top-secret, longtime intelligence source had provided information early in the FBI investigation of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.

A New York Times story published Wednesday about the beginnings of the Russia probe reported that at least one government informant met several times with two former Trump campaign advisers, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

“It looks like the Trump campaign in fact may have been surveilled,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager who now is a White House adviser, said Thursday on Fox News Channel. “It looks like there was an informant there. As the president likes to say, we’ll see what happens.”

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray testified Wednesday before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that the FBI takes seriously its responsibilities to Congress but said the bureau also has important responsibilities to people who provide information to agents.

“The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe,” Wray said. “Human sources in particular who put themselves at great risk to work with us and with our foreign partners have to be able to trust that we’re going to protect their identities and in many cases their lives and the lives of their families.”

The source is a U.S. citizen who has provided information over the years to both the FBI and the CIA, as The Post previously reported, and aided the Russia investigation both before and after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, according to people familiar with his activities.

Breitbart and other right-wing news websites have been abuzz in recent days with commentary about the source. Sean Hannity, a friend and informal adviser to Trump, speculated about the source on his Fox News show Wednesday night.

Trump’s allies believe outing the source and revealing details about his or her work for the FBI could help them challenge the investigation and, potentially, provide cause for removing Mueller or his overseer, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. They also point to the dossier containing allegations about Trump’s connections to Russia, which was partially funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and was used by the FBI to obtain a search warrant for Page.

“If it were found that the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign was predicated on flimsy facts ginned up by people with a political agenda and used informants to get inside the Trump campaign based on no solid facts, then, yes, I absolutely think it’s grounds for dismissing this entire investigation,” said Mark ­Corallo, a former Justice Department official and former spokesman for Trump’s legal team.

Trump tweeted Thursday that the Mueller probe was a “disgusting, illegal and unwarranted Witch Hunt,” which drew a retort from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“I would say to the president, it’s not a ‘witch hunt’ when 17 Russians have been indicted,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. “It’s not a ‘witch hunt’ when some of the most senior members of the Trump campaign have been indicted. It’s not a ‘witch hunt’ when Democrats and Republicans agree with the intelligence community that Russia interfered in our election to aid President Trump.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has been conferring with Trump — in three or more calls a week — communicating concerns that the Justice Department is hiding worrisome information about the elements of the probe, according to people familiar with their discussions.

Meadows declined to discuss his conversations with the president. But he said, “The president has always been consistent in wanting transparency, even when he had no knowledge of what the document might or might not contain, whether it would be good or bad for him.”

Nunes, meanwhile, has purposefully not been talking to Trump, to avoid accusations that he is providing sensitive information to the president, according to these people. Instead, Nunes has been relaying the status of his battle with the Justice Department to White House Counsel Donald McGahn.

“What we’re trying to figure out are what methods the FBI and DOJ used to investigate and open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign,” Nunes said.

Nunes said he and his colleagues have been troubled by reports and indications that sources may have been repeatedly reaching out to Trump campaign members and even offering aides money to encourage them to meet. The president, he said, has ample reason to be angry and suspicious.

“If you are paying somebody to come talk to my campaign or brush up against my campaign, whatever you call it, I’d be furious,” Nunes said.

Nunes redirected his attacks Thursday from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Rosenstein, telling Sinclair Broadcast Group that the deputy attorney general should be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with his subpoena. Sessions is recused from the matter.

Inside the West Wing, Trump often complains about the Mueller investigation, with episodic bouts that can be “all-encompassing,” according to a former senior administration official. Trump often talks with his advisers about ways he can fight back against what he views as an encroaching probe — and he sees allies in Congress as more credible surrogates than his own staff, the official said.

Trump often agrees with Meadows and at times has encouraged him and other allies to go on television news shows and, in the words of a senior administration official, “beat the drums.”

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has complained to some colleagues that such conversations between Trump and Meadows and other House allies are not always helpful, according to the former official.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has told the president on several occasions that he should stop talking about the Russia probe, according to an official familiar with their conversations. “You’re not guilty, don’t act like it,” Ryan would say, and Trump would agree, but then the president would go right back to venting about the investigation, according to this official.

For months, Meadows, Nunes and other GOP lawmakers have criticized Rosenstein for refusing to let Congress see a “scope memo” outlining the people and issues under investigation by Mueller. Some House Republicans in March drafted articles of impeachment against Rosenstein as a “last resort” if he does not provide Congress with more information.

In early May, Nunes pushed the Justice Department for more information about the source, but top White House officials, with the assent of Trump, agreed to back the department’s decision to withhold the information. They were persuaded that turning over Justice Department documents could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, according to multiple people familiar with the discussion and the person’s role.

Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon is functioning as an informal adviser to the Trump allies, both inside and outside the administration, who are leading the charge against the Justice Department, according to three people involved in those discussions.

Working from his Capitol Hill townhouse, Bannon has conferred with Meadows, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie, among others, about how to bolster support for Trump allies in Congress who are calling for more document disclosures, the people said.

These people said the Bannon-advised group sees itself as a bulwark for the embattled president and said there were growing tensions between them and Kelly and McGahn, whom the group sees as not doing enough to force the hand of top Justice officials.

Kelly met with Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) a few weeks ago and suggested they give Justice officials more time to comply with their request. But Meadows and Jordan did not back off, a senior administration official said.

“The president is frustrated,” Jordan said. “I don’t blame him for being frustrated.”

Devlin Barrett and Shane Harris contributed to this report. ... e8053b1378

What do we know about the ‘FBI informant’ Trump keeps talking about?
By Paul Waldman May 18 at 2:14 PM

(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Throughout special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the Russia scandal, President Trump and his defenders have cast about for evidence they can use to dismiss the entire probe as tainted. Did a person on Mueller’s staff once contribute to a Democratic candidate? Did an FBI agent privately express a negative opinion about Trump? Was there a single source with less than pure motives? If so, then the entire thing can be dismissed as a witch hunt, a frame job, a conspiracy to destroy the president.

Here’s the latest iteration of this: Trump and his allies are talking up an informant who was somehow connected to the Trump campaign in 2016 and provided information to the FBI both before and after the Mueller investigation began. The president himself is making some wild accusations about this informant.

So here’s what we know and don’t know about him or her, and how it fits into the broader investigation.

This isn’t just any informant. The Post reports today that Justice Department officials believe exposing the informant could compromise other investigations and even risk lives. We can’t know to what degree that’s true. But the idea that they want to keep this person’s name secret because they’re out to get the president is ludicrous. That’s especially true given that Trump himself was persuaded that the source’s identity should be kept secret, as The Post reported last week: “Intelligence officials fear that providing even a redacted version of the information [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin] Nunes seeks could expose that person and damage relationships with other countries that serve as U.S. intelligence partners.”

By now Trump may have changed his mind about that. But here’s a passage from today’s Post article:

The source is a U.S. citizen who has provided information over the years to both the FBI and the CIA … and aided the Russia investigation both before and after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, according to people familiar with his activities.

This means that this isn’t, say, someone who worked in the mailroom and overheard something shocking, then decided to tell the FBI. It also means that while it isn’t a foreign national, it’s someone who has some kind of overseas ties, since he or she provided information to the CIA in the past. How valuable is this source? Here’s a hint:

The stakes are so high that the FBI has been working over the past two weeks to mitigate the potential damage if the source’s identity is revealed, according to several people familiar with the matter. The bureau is taking steps to protect other live investigations that the person has worked on and is trying to lessen any danger to associates if the informant’s identity becomes known.

That also means this isn’t someone we’ve already heard of.

We don’t know what the informant’s relationship to the Trump campaign was. Was he or she on the staff? An outside adviser? Just someone who came in contact with people on the campaign for some other reason? We have no idea. Trump and some of his defenders are insisting that the FBI planted the source in his campaign to gather information on him, which would suggest an employee:

But we have no idea whether the informant was “implanted.” This morning, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said, “We’re told there were two infiltrations, two embedded people in the campaign.” Pressed on where he learned this, Giuliani was vague. Given how often he has said things that he quickly walked back or turned out to be bogus, there’s no reason to think he has any idea what he’s talking about. But it’s theoretically possible.

We know essentially nothing about what information the informant provided. We don’t know what the informant has passed on to investigators. We don’t know how central this information became to the investigation, or if it revealed any crimes. The information could be the key to the whole case, or it could be of little or no importance.

Nunes wants to expose this informant. Nunes has made it his mission to destroy the Mueller investigation and perhaps the entire Justice Department if that’s what it takes to defend Trump. He is now demanding that the Justice Department hand him information on this informant, which it has refused to do. Nunes has even threatened to hold both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — both Trump appointees — in contempt if he doesn’t get the informant’s identity.

The underlying premise of all of this is absurd to begin with. Republicans are trying to argue that the fact that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign during 2016 is evidence that it was out to get him. But that could only be true if you start from the presumption that everything the FBI does is out of bad faith, and that even way back then the bureau was trying to destroy Trump.

But if you don’t assume the FBI was acting in bad faith, then you have to conclude that whatever it learned in 2016 was so disturbing that it decided to open an investigation into a presidential campaign’s ties to a hostile foreign government, an extraordinary step to take. In striking contrast to the way then-director James Comey treated Hillary Clinton, they were incredibly scrupulous about making sure that news of their investigation was not revealed publicly so as not to damage Trump’s campaign.

We don’t know how the showdown over this informant is going to end. But one way or another, whether his or her identity is revealed or not, we’re going to learn what that person learned about the Trump campaign. And if Trump and his defenders thought there was nothing damaging to be revealed, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to preemptively discredit this informant, in the same way they’re doing to the whole investigation.

In other words, just as they have been all along, they’re acting as though Trump and others around him are guilty as sin. I wonder why? ... b26a3ae542

Eric Columbus

The FBI informant is a University of Cambridge professor named Stefan Halper, if @ChuckRossDC reporting is correct. The NYT description matches Ross's earlier description of Halper. ... -campaign/

my bold

starroute » Sun Nov 12, 2006 1:14 am wrote:For example, Ghorbanifar has surfaced again recently, and has been intriguing with Michael Ledeen, Curt Weldon, and Pete Hoekstra.

Or for that matter, there's an article on "America's Worst Presidents" in today's Independent. ... 963227.ece. The lead pieces finger George W. Bush -- but if you scroll down a little, there's Stefan Halper championing Herbert Hoover and suggesting that Bush's reputation may rise with time.

I hadn't seen Halper's name in a while -- but once upon a time, he was on the staff of the 1980 Bush-Reagan campaign, working under Bill Casey, and was involved in the October Surprise. (As was Robert Gates.) He was also the former son-in-law of Ray Cline -- OSS/CIA guy, co-founder of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (home base for the Realists), and a top advisor to George H.W. Bush who brought a slew of other CIA people into the Bush train.

Halper was additionally a founder of the Palmer National Bank, which Ollie North used to launder Contra money, and he helped set up a legal defense fund for North when he got caught. The Palmer National Bank in turn was linked to the S&L scandal, got startup money from Herman Beebe, and also loaned $400,000 to the the National Conservative Political Action Committee, a center of Republican dirty tricks in the early 80's (where one of the people behind the recent robocall operation got his start.)

Taking it a step further, Beebe, who had ties to organized crime, was also the power behind Vernon Savings, run by Don Dixon, a close pal of Bill Lowery. And Lowery in turn is a long-time friend of both Brent Wilkes and Kyle "Dusty" Foggo -- which brings us into the whole Wilkes/Cunningham scandal. Foggo, after all, was in Honduras during Iran-Contra, and Brent Wilkes was bringing congressmen down for tours (and probably a little sexual blackmail on the side.)

All in all, this thing *sprawls* -- and the Iran-Contra veterans in the administration are only the tip of the iceberg.


So let’s hear it, Trumpsters. What investigative methods is it permissible for FBI to use to investigate RU spying? Are you cranky that Papadopoulos got paid by a lifetime Republican? Is that the outrage?

Are Trumpsters still OUTRAGED that 3 suspected RU assets from the Trump campaign got asked questions by a lifetime Republican?

"Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company. "

Yascha Mounk

This article is the clearest evidence yet that Trump is abusing his power to punish a company in retaliation for critical press coverage.

It's not just words; it's actions. And it should be a big wake-up call to every journalist and businessman in America. ... ssion=true

Walter Shaub

This is significant corruption. The president is abusing the power of his office to harm a major American company based on its very indirect connection to a media outlet that disseminates information about his misconduct. It is a dangerous escalation in his assault on democracy.

With the West Wing finally calm, Trump is contemplating a multi-front campaign against Jeff Bezos.

APRIL 2, 2018 7:07 PM
For the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency, the West Wing soap opera appears to be in hiatus, with many of its starring characters (Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks) either permanently offstage or with much reduced roles (John Kelly, Jared Kushner). Currently, there’s one star—a situation Trump is obviously enjoying—and his new freedom is used to focus ever more closely on his perceived enemies and obsessions. Amazon, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, is currently the main target. Trump has ripped into Amazon in recent days, claiming in a series of tweets that Jeff Bezos’s tech giant benefits from billions in subsidies from the U.S. Post office while skirting sales taxes. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” Trump tweeted. On Monday, he wrote: “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country . . . not a level playing field!” The tweets caused Amazon’s stock to plunge 5 percent on Monday.

Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company. “He’s off the hook on this. It’s war,” one source told me. “He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” said another source. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?”

According to sources, Trump wants the Post Office to increase Amazon’s shipping costs. When Trump previously discussed the idea inside the White Hose, Gary Cohn had explained that Amazon is a benefit to the Postal Service, which has seen mail volume plummet in the age of e-mail. “Trump doesn’t have Gary Cohn breathing down his neck saying you can’t do the Post Office shit,” a Republican close to the White House said. “He really wants the Post Office deal renegotiated. He thinks Amazon’s getting a huge fucking deal on shipping.”

Advisers are also encouraging Trump to cancel Amazon’s pending multi-billion contract with the Pentagon to provide cloud computing services, sources say. Another line of attack would be to encourage attorneys general in red states to open investigations into Amazon’s business practices. Sources say Trump is open to the ideas. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.)

Even Trump’s allies acknowledge that much of what’s fueling Trump’s rage toward Amazon is that Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, sources said. “Trump doesn’t like The New York Times, but he reveres it because it’s his hometown paper. The Washington Post, he has zero respect for,” the Republican close to the White House said. While the Post says that Bezos has no involvement in newsroom decisions, Trump has told advisers he believes Bezos uses the paper as a political weapon. One former White House official said Trump looks at the Post the same way he looks at the National Enquirer. “When Bezos says he has no involvement, Trump doesn’t believe him. His experience is with the David Peckers of the world. Whether it’s right or wrong, he knows it can be done.” ... s-personal
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby cptmarginal » Sat May 19, 2018 11:36 am

So much to process about this whole Halper thing. Starting with:

1984-1990 Chairman and majority shareholder:

The Palmer National Bank, Washington, D.C.
The National Bank of Northern Virginia, Leesburg, Va.
The George Washington National Bank, Alexandria, Va.

I would wager anything that those other two banks are worth looking at as well. Searching for whatever information can be gleaned about "The George Washington National Bank, Alexandria, Va." leads one directly to covert dirty politics once again in the person of J. Curtis Herge, conservative lawyer and C.R.E.E.P. participant. ... oundation/

(Make sure to read: Western Goals & American Phoenix)

Attorney J. Curtis Herge was the registered agent for the Nicaraguan Resistance Education Foundation, a group affiliated with the contras. (2) He was the lawyer for Western Goals, a group started by ultra-rightist Rep. Larry McDonald to promote the return of internal surveillance to seek out suspected communists in the U.S. (11) He also served as attorney for Carl (Spitz) Channell’s National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty, one of the main money conduits of Oliver North’s contra network. (12) Herge currently represents the AFC. (2) Herge is attorney, corporate secretary and board member of the National Bank of Northern Virginia. (2) ... asino-bid/


By Fredric U. Dicker - July 24, 2000 | 4:00am

MEGABUILDER Donald Trump secretly funneled thousands of dollars to an upstate “institute” that opposed an Indian casino in the Catskills, The Post has learned.

The payments are expected to trigger a widening of the ongoing investigation of Trump by the state Lobbying Commission because the law says the sources of $2,000 or more spent to influence state legislation must be disclosed.

The Post revealed last week that the commission was investigating Trump, boxing promoter Don King, and Arthur Goldberg, head of Park Place Entertainment, the nation’s largest gaming company, for possibly illegal personal lobbying of the Legislature on the Catskills Indian gaming bill last month.

Trump, who owns several New Jersey casinos and fears competition from the Catskills, funneled the money – estimated at “at least tens of thousands of dollars” – to the New York Institute for Law and Society, a virtually unknown organization based in upstate Rome, sources said.

The institute, which lists self-styled “conservative activist” Tom Hunter as its head, sponsored statewide newspaper, television and radio commercials this year opposing Indian gaming operations, which it linked to violence and organized crime.

Repeated attempts over five days to reach Hunter were unsuccessful.

Messages left at the institute went unreturned, though a “Joe Smith” who answered the phone said Hunter had been given the messages.

Roger Stone, a longtime national conservative activist and political consultant, is also being investigated by the Lobbying Commission for his casino-related lobbying efforts on behalf of Trump, a long-time friend.

The Middletown Times Herald-Record newspaper disclosed earlier this year that the New York Institute for Law and Society was incorporated in Delaware by Virginia lawyer J. Curtis Herge, who it said has represented organizations linked to Stone.

Repeated attempts to reach Stone were unsuccessful.

Trump lawyer Edward Wallace refused to discuss the institute and Trump’s possible links to it.

Sources said Trump may be seeking to argue that much of the money given to the institute wasn’t used to directly influence Gov. Pataki or the Legislature, and thus shouldn’t be covered by the lobbying law.

Lobbying Commission Executive Director David Grandeau repeatedly refused to comment on the investigation.

Trump could face a civil penalty of up to $50,000 if found guilty of secretly funding the institute’s lobbying efforts.

Trump, King, and Goldberg could also face criminal misdemeanor charges and fines if the commission determines they engaged in illegal lobbying.

Trump supported the Indian gaming bill because he believed the measure would have made it more difficult for a Catskills casino to be built.

King, who has promoted sporting events at Indian casinos, and Goldberg both opposed the bill. Goldberg and Park Place have an agreement with the St. Regis Mohawk Indian nation to open a casino in Sullivan County.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat May 19, 2018 3:17 pm

thanks for that cptmarginal

Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election

May 19, 2018

Donald Trump Jr. met in Trump Tower in the summer of 2016 with a representative of two wealthy Arab princes who said they were eager to help his father win election.Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor.

The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.

Erik Prince, the private security contractor and the former head of Blackwater, arranged the meeting, which took place on Aug. 3, 2016. The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president. The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign; by that time, the firm had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.

The company, which employed several Israeli former intelligence officers, specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.

Donald Trump Jr. was said to respond approvingly to a proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect his father as president.Damon Winter/The New York Times
It is unclear whether such a proposal was executed, and the details of who commissioned it remain in dispute. But Donald Trump Jr. responded approvingly, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting, and after those initial offers of help, Mr. Nader was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser. At the time, Mr. Nader was also promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Nader paid Mr. Zamel a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million. There are conflicting accounts of the reason for the payment, but among other things, a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.

The meetings, which have not been reported previously, are the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign in the months before the presidential election. The interactions are a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, who was originally tasked with examining possible Trump campaign coordination with Russia in the election.

Mr. Nader is cooperating with the inquiry, and investigators have questioned numerous witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv and elsewhere about what foreign help may have been pledged or accepted, and about whether any such assistance was coordinated with Russia, according to witnesses and others with knowledge of the interviews.

Erik D. Prince, the founder of Blackwater, arranged the meeting with Donald Trump Jr., George Nader and Joel Zamel.Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News
The interviews, some in recent weeks, are further evidence that special counsel’s investigation remains in an intense phase even as Mr. Trump’s lawyers are publicly calling for Mr. Mueller to bring it to a close.

It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections, and it is unclear what — if any — direct assistance Saudi Arabia and the Emirates may have provided. But two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.

A lawyer for Donald Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, said in a statement that “prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”

The August 2016 meeting has echoes of another Trump Tower meeting two months earlier, also under scrutiny by the special counsel, when Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign aides met with a Russian lawyer after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. No evidence has emerged suggesting that the August meeting was set up with a similar premise.

Stephen Miller, a senior aide to President Trump, was in Donald Trump Jr.’s office when the others arrived for the meeting.Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock
The revelations about the meetings come in the midst of new scrutiny about ties between Mr. Trump’s advisers and at least three wealthy Persian Gulf states. Besides his interest in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, Mr. Mueller has also been asking witnesses about meetings between White House advisers and representatives of Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s bitter rival.

A lawyer for Mr. Zamel denied that his client had carried out any campaign on Mr. Trump’s behalf. “Neither Joel Zamel, nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the U.S. election campaign,” said the lawyer, Marc L. Mukasey.

“The D.O.J. clarified from Day 1 that Joel and his companies have never been a target of the investigation. My client provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation,” he said.

Kathryn Ruemmler, a lawyer for Mr. Nader, said, “Mr. Nader has fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation and will continue to do so.” A senior official in Saudi Arabia said it had never employed Mr. Nader in any capacity or authorized him to speak for the crown prince.

Mr. Trump has allied himself with the Emirati crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, endorsing his strong support for Saudi Arabia and confrontational approaches toward Iran and Qatar.Al Drago for The New York Times
Mr. Prince, through a spokesman, declined to comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Advisers to the Court

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, the king’s main adviser, had long opposed many of the Obama administration’s policies toward the Middle East. They resented President Barack Obama’s agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, his statements of support for the Arab Spring uprisings and his hands-off approach to the Syrian civil war.

News outlets linked to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates fiercely criticized Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, when she was secretary of state, and diplomats familiar with their thinking say both crown princes hoped for a president who would take a stronger hand in the region against both Iran and groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr. Nader had worked for years as a close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, and Mr. Zamel had worked for the Emirati royal court as a consultant as well. When Mr. Trump locked up the Republican presidential nomination in early 2016, Mr. Nader began making inquiries on behalf of the Emirati prince about possible ways to directly support Mr. Trump, according to three people with whom Mr. Nader discussed his efforts.

One of Mr. Zamel’s firms did work for Oleg V. Deripaska, an aluminum magnate, who has been linked to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
Mr. Nader also visited Moscow at least twice during the presidential campaign as a confidential emissary from Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, according to people familiar with his travels. After the election, he worked with the crown prince to arrange a meeting in the Seychelles between Mr. Prince and a financier close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Companies connected to Mr. Zamel also have ties to Russia. One of his firms had previously worked for oligarchs linked to Mr. Putin, including Oleg V. Deripaska and Dmitry Rybolovlev, who hired the firm for online campaigns against their business rivals.

Mr. Deripaska, an aluminum magnate, was once in business with the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty in the special counsel investigation to charges of financial crimes and failing to disclose the lobbying work he did on behalf of a former president of Ukraine, an ally of Mr. Putin. Mr. Rybolovlev once purchased a Florida mansion from Mr. Trump.

Mr. Nader’s visits to Russia and the work Mr. Zamel’s companies did for the Russians have both been a subject of interest to the special counsel’s investigators, according to people familiar with witness interviews.

Mr. Prince has known Mr. Nader since he worked for Blackwater in Iraq.Zach Gibson for The New York Times
A String of Meetings

Mr. Zamel and Mr. Nader were together at a Midtown Manhattan hotel at about 4 p.m. on the afternoon of Aug. 3 when Mr. Nader received a call from Mr. Prince summoning them to Trump Tower. When they arrived, Stephen Miller, a top campaign aide who is now a White House adviser, was in Donald Trump Jr.’s office as well, according to the people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Prince is a longtime Republican donor and the brother of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, and Mr. Prince and Mr. Nader had known each other since Mr. Nader had worked for Blackwater as a business agent in Iraq in the years after the American invasion. Mr. Prince has longstanding ties to the Emirates, and has frequently done business with Crown Prince Mohammed.

Mr. Prince opened the meeting by telling Donald Trump Jr. that “we are working hard for your father,” in reference to his family and other donors, according to a person familiar with the meeting. He then introduced Mr. Nader as an old friend with deep ties to Arab leaders.

Mr. Nader repeatedly referred to the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates as “my friends,” according to one person with knowledge of the conversation. To underscore the point, he would open his mobile phone to show off pictures of him posing with them, some of which The New York Times obtained.

George Nader in 1999. He is an adviser to the Emiratis who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation.Ron Sachs/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press
Mr. Nader explained to Donald Trump Jr. that the two crown princes saw the elder Mr. Trump as a strong leader who would fill the power vacuum that they believed Mr. Obama had left in the Middle East, and Mr. Nader went on to say that he and his friends would be glad to support Mr. Trump as much as they could, according to the person with knowledge of the conversation.

Mr. Zamel, for his part, laid out the capabilities of his online media company, although it is unclear whether he referred to the proposals his company had already prepared. One person familiar with the meeting said that Mr. Nader invited Donald Trump Jr. to meet with a Saudi prince — an invitation the younger Mr. Trump declined. After about half an hour, everyone exchanged business cards.

“There was a brief meeting, nothing concrete was offered or pitched to anyone and nothing came of it,” said Mr. Mukasey, the lawyer for Mr. Zamel.

By then, a company connected to Mr. Zamel had been working on a proposal for a covert multimillion-dollar online manipulation campaign to help elect Mr. Trump, according to three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort. The plan involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy on platforms like Facebook.

Mr. Nader and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in a photograph obtained by The New York Times..
There were concerns inside the company, Psy-Group, about the plan’s legality, according to one person familiar with the effort. The company, whose motto is “shape reality,” consulted an American law firm, and was told that it would be illegal if any non-Americans were involved in the effort.

Mr. Zamel, the founder of Psy-Group and one of its owners, has been questioned about the August 2016 meeting by investigators for the special counsel, and at least two F.B.I. agents working on the inquiry have traveled to Israel to interview employees of the company who worked on the proposal. According to one person, the special counsel’s team has worked with the Israeli police to seize the computers of one of Mr. Zamel’s companies, which is currently in liquidation.

In the hectic final weeks of the campaign and during the presidential transition, several of Mr. Trump’s advisers drew Mr. Nader close. He met often with Mr. Kushner, Mr. Flynn and Stephen K. Bannon, who took over as campaign chairman after Mr. Manafort resigned amid revelations about his work in Ukraine.

In December 2016, Mr. Nader turned again to an internet company linked to Mr. Zamel — WhiteKnight, based in the Philippines — to purchase a presentation demonstrating the impact of social media campaigns on Mr. Trump’s electoral victory. Asked about the purchase, a representative of WhiteKnight said: “WhiteKnight delivers premium research and high-end business development services for prestigious clients around the world. WhiteKnight does not talk about any of its clients.”

After the inauguration, both Mr. Zamel and Mr. Nader visited the White House, meeting with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Bannon.

At that time, Mr. Nader was promoting a plan to use private contractors to carry out economic sabotage against Iran that, he hoped, might coerce it to permanently abandon its nuclear program. The plan included efforts to deter Western companies from investing in Iran, and operations to sow mistrust among Iranian officials. He advocated the project, which he estimated would cost about $300 million, to American, Emirati and Saudi officials.

Last spring, Mr. Nader traveled to Riyadh for meetings with senior Saudi military and intelligence officials to pitch his Iran sabotage plan. He was convinced, according to several people familiar with his plan, that economic warfare was the key to the overthrow of the government in Tehran. One person briefed on Mr. Nader’s activities said he tried to persuade Mr. Kushner to endorse the plan to Crown Prince Mohammed in person on a trip to Riyadh, although it was unclear whether the message was delivered.

Asked about Mr. Nader’s plans to attack Iran, the senior Saudi official said Mr. Nader had a habit of pitching proposals that went nowhere.

Mr. Nader was also in discussions with Mr. Prince, the former head of Blackwater, about a plan to get the Saudis to pay $2 billion to set up a private army to combat Iranian proxy forces in Yemen.

Since entering the White House, Mr. Trump has allied himself closely with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. His first overseas trip was to Riyadh. He strongly backed Saudi and Emirati efforts to isolate their neighbor Qatar, another American ally, even over apparent disagreement from the State and Defense Departments.

This month, Mr. Trump also withdrew from an Obama administration nuclear deal with Iran that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had campaigned against for years, delivering them their biggest victory yet from his administration.

Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington, Ronen Bergman from Tel Aviv and David D. Kirkpatrick from London. Maggie Haberman contributed reporting. ... zamel.html

Trump Jr. met with Gulf adviser who offered help to win election: report

Josh Delk05/19/18 01:28 PM EDT
President Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. reportedly met with a Gulf emissary months before the 2016 presidential election who said that the crown princes of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were eager to help Trump win.

Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with George Nader was held at Trump Tower in August 2016, The New York Times reported Saturday, noting the meeting and other interactions are the first indication that a country other than Russia may have offered to help the Trump campaign before the election.

Also present at the meeting was an Israeli political strategist named Joel Zamel, whose company chalked up a plan to manipulate social media in an effort to help elect Trump, the Times reported.

It remains unclear whether the plan was executed, and a lawyer for Zamel denied to the Times that his client carried out a campaign on behalf of Trump.

The Times reported that private security contractor Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, arranged the August meeting. He declined to comment for the report.

A lawyer for Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, told the Times in a statement that “prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”

Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department to investigate Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, is reportedly looking into interactions between Nader and Zamel.

A lawyer for Nader told the newspaper that he "has fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation and will continue to do so." A senior official in Saudi Arabia also told the Times that it never employed Nader nor authorized him to speak for its crown prince.

The meeting took place just three months prior to the election in Trump Tower in New York City, the same location of a controversial meeting between campaign aides and a Russian attorney tied to the Kremlin in June of that year.

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee released the full transcript of its interview with Trump Jr. regarding the infamous June 2016 meeting he attended with a lawyer promising dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Updated at 1:50 p.m. ... ion-report

Israeli questioned, FBI traveled to Tel Aviv, in Trump election probe — report
New York Times says 'Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,' emissary for Saudi, and Emirati princes met with Trump Jr. and others 3 months before election

Today, 9:35 pm 0

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)

Three months before the November 2016 elections, senior members of the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a small group of people from the Mideast who offered to help the controversial businessman win the race against Hillary Clinton. The group included “an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,” an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes, and Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the former head of the private security firm Blackwater whose sister Betsy Devos is now secretary of education, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to the report, “was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.”

According to the report, the Israeli specialist, Joel Zamel, “extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign,” and his firm “had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.”

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The company, PSY-Group, according to the NY Times report, “employed several Israeli former intelligence officers” and “specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.” Zamel is also founding director and CEO of geopolitical analysis and business consultancy group Wikistrat, according to Bloomberg.

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight. (C-SPAN via AP)
The plan, according to the report which cited three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort,” involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy on platforms like Facebook.”

Meanwhile, the Gulf emissary was George Nader, a longtime close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, who conveyed to Trump Jr. “that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”

Nader allegedly said that the two crown princes “saw the elder Mr. Trump as a strong leader who would fill the power vacuum that they believed Mr. Obama had left in the Middle East, and Mr. Nader went on to say that he and his friends would be glad to support Mr. Trump as much as they could, according to the person with knowledge of the conversation.”

Trump Jr. “responded approvingly,” the New York Times said, citing “a person with knowledge of the meeting,” and following the initial offers for help, Nader “was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser.”

Nader was also reportedly “promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”

After Trump won the election, Nader paid Zamel “a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million.” and while the NY Times said there were conflicting accounts for the payment, “a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.”

In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The August 3 meeting is a focus of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who was tasked last year with examining possible cooperation and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the lead-up to the election.

The revelation of the meeting is the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign.

Nader also reportedly visited Moscow twice during the campaign and Zamel’s businesses have ties to Russia, which are “of interest” to the special counsel’s investigation, according to the report.

Zamel was already questioned by investigators for the special counsel, the report said, “and at least two FBI agents working on the inquiry have traveled to Israel to interview employees of the company who worked on the proposal.”

The Israeli police worked with US investigators to seize the computers of one of Mr. Zamel’s companies, which is currently in liquidation, according to the report.

Nader too has been cooperating with the inquiry, the report said, “and investigators have questioned numerous witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere about what foreign help may have been pledged or accepted, and about whether any such assistance was coordinated with Russia, according to witnesses and others with knowledge of the interviews.”

Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A lawyer for Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, told the NY Times in a statement that “prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader, and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”

A lawyer for Zamel, Marc L. Mukasey, told the NY Times, that “neither Joel Zamel, nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the US election campaign.”

“The DOJ [Department of Justice] clarified from Day 1 that Joel and his companies have never been a target of the investigation. My client provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation,” he said.

“There was a brief meeting, nothing concrete was offered or pitched to anyone and nothing came of it,” he added.

The New York Times reported that though it is still unclear if any direct assistance was forthcoming from Saudi Arabia, or the UAE, “two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.”

The August 3, 2016 meeting came two months after Trump Jr., Kushner, and others met with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Clinton.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee released about 2,500 pages of interview transcripts and other documents tied to the New York meeting on June 9, 2016.

In a closed-door interview last year with the committee, Trump Jr., said he did not give much thought to the idea that the meeting was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race. ... tion-help/

The Domestic Conspiracy Is Hiding In Plain Sight Erik Prince

It’s a Small World of Trump Lawyers

Josh Marshall
Lawyers represent many different clients. There’s a limit on how much we can infer from these relationships. But it is striking how many lawyers with extremely close ties to the Trump family, often longtime lawyers for President Trump himself, are also currently representing various foreign interests who the Special Counsel is now investigating in its probe. What I’m about to describe involves a slightly different set of people. But it is similar and to me quite notable. It comes from this new blockbuster Times article revealing offers of help from a group of Gulf princes which Donald Trump, Jr. apparently eagerly embraced.

Let’s put a pin in that larger story for a moment. We’ll return to it. One of the major players in this is Joel Zamel, an Israeli social media expert who has a company that runs social media psy-ops campaigns quite similar to the effort Russia mounted on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 campaign. The possibility of his doing that on Trump’s behalf came up in these newly revealed meetings. Zamel also has close business ties to a number of key Russian oligarchs who he has frequently worked with. One of them is Oleg Deripaska, the guy Paul Manafort owed all the money to. Needless to say Bob Mueller’s investigators seem highly interested in all of this.

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska attends an investment forum in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told participants at the "Russia Calling!" forum, sponsored by state-owned bank VTB, that "we plan to consistently and purposefully reduce state intervention in the economy and, moreover, step up privatization processes." (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
Billionaire Oleg Deripaska attends an investment forum in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
Again, let’s put a pin in that larger set of connections. The Times notes that Zamel is represented by a man named Marc L. Mukasey. You may recognize the name because he’s the son of the former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. For our present purposes what is important is that Mukasey has been the deputy and the law partner of Rudy Giuliani for years. Partnerships are big. You can be the ‘law partner’ of lots of different people. This is different. They’ve been like a team for many years – first at Bracewell Giuliani and then together again at Greenberg Taurig. Indeed, when Giuliani came onboard with President Trump, Mukasey was in discussions to join President Trump’s team. That was just a couple weeks ago!

Now, one might say to all this, people represent lots of different people. As long as you’re clear with all involved about whether there are any conflicts, it’s not necessarily a problem. That’s true as far as it goes. But a lot of these relationships are very close, very incestuous.

Here’s another example. Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s longtime attorney, represented Trump in the Russia probe for a significant portion of last year and has been consulting with the President in recent works also represented the US affiliate of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. That’s the outfit that paid $500,000 to Michael Cohen.

Again, lawyers work for lots of different clients. They sometimes appear to connect up weird combinations of people through different people they represent. All of that’s true. But there are lots of examples of Trump lawyers and people tight in Trump’s orbit representing people on the other side of these collusion investigations. It’s odd. ... mp-lawyers
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat May 19, 2018 8:19 pm

Report Suggests Blackwater Founder Erik Prince May Have Lied to Congress

He told Congress he didn’t meet with the Trump campaign. A new story says he did.

Dan FriedmanMay. 19, 2018 3:39 PM

Blackwater founder Erik Prince before his House Intelligence Committee testimony, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Blackwater founder Erik Prince appears to have a problem. The New York Times reported Saturday that Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, arranged and attended an August 3, 2016 Trump Tower meeting where George Nader, an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, told Donald Trump Jr. that UAE and Saudi Arabia were eager to help his father win the election.

Prince told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, under oath, that he had no formal communication or contact with the Trump campaign.
That doesn’t reflect well on Prince, because on November 30, 2017, he told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, under oath, that he had no formal communication or contact with the Trump campaign, other than occasionally sending “papers” on foreign policy matters to Steve Bannon, who became head of the Trump campaign in August.

“So there was no formal communication or contact with the campaign?” Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) asked Prince during his interview by the Intelligence Committee.

“Correct,” Prince responded.

The contradiction between the Times’ report and Prince’s testimony was flagged Saturday by Just Security:

Prince also told the committee that he met Trump Jr. “at a campaign event,” and at Trump Tower “during the transition.” He did not mention the meeting with Trump Jr. and Nader.

ABC News reported last month that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that seems to contradict another claim Prince made before the Intelligence Committee: Prince said a meeting he attended in Seychelles during the presidential transition with a Russian financier close to Vladimir Putin was an unplanned encounter. Nader, who is cooperating with Mueller, has told investigators that he arranged for Prince to travel to the Seychelles to meet Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a Russian sovereign wealth fund, after giving Prince information about Dmitriev, according to ABC.

The Daily Beast reported this month that Mueller’s team has questioned Prince.

Mueller’s team can use Prince’s transcript as evidence to potentially charge him for lying to Congress.
Prince, unlike most witnesses who appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, agreed to allow the panel to release his entire testimony. As a result, Mueller’s team can use the transcript as evidence to potentially charge Prince for lying to Congress. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, told Mother Jones in March that Democrats are also considering sending Mueller criminal referrals urging him to prosecute witnesses who lied to the committee.

“We’re gonna be going through the transcripts and analyzing them for any concerns we have with the greater body of information we have,” Schiff said.

A Prince spokesman did not respond to an inquiry on Saturday. ... -congress/

Ryan Goodman

With Blockbuster NYT report ("Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election")...

1. Meeting was arranged and attended by Erik Prince.

2. Compare this to what Prince told Congress and looks a lot like perjury.

Prince's testimony:


Prior tweet was Prince testimony about his contacts with Trump campaign in answer to questions by @TomRooney.

Here's Prince's testimony about contact with Don Jr in answer to questions by @RepSwalwell:


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

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun May 20, 2018 10:17 am

were there two (or three or four) separate foreign governments working to trump win the U.S. election or were they working together?

George Nader has been given immunity

All of which is to say that Nader isn’t just your average businessman, or even your average shady character in Trumpworld. He’s instead a potentially vital source for the investigators looking to answer the question of whether Russia....Israel....Saudi Arabia.....United Arab Emirates and the Trump campaign colluded in 2016.

Mr. Nader and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in a photograph obtained by The New York Times..
There were concerns inside the company, Psy-Group, about the plan’s legality, according to one person familiar with the effort. The company, whose motto is “shape reality,” consulted an American law firm, and was told that it would be illegal if any non-Americans were involved in the effort.

Meanwhile, the Gulf emissary was George Nader, a longtime close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, who conveyed to Trump Jr. “that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”

The company, PSY-Group, according to the NY Times report, “employed several Israeli former intelligence officers” and “specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.” Zamel is also founding director and CEO of geopolitical analysis and business consultancy group Wikistrat, according to Bloomberg.

UAE adviser cooperating with Mueller also had Russia ties ... ies-report

A key Mueller witness has close ties to Russia
George Nader is reportedly so close to the Kremlin that he’s taken a photo with Putin.
By Zeeshan Apr 5, 2018, 4:10pm EDT
George Nader, a business executive who is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, has extensive personal ties to Russia that could help investigators answer key questions about the extent of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Moscow during the 2016 election.

According to the New York Times, Nader, who is cooperating with the Mueller probe in exchange for at least partial immunity, has traveled to Russia, done business with Russia, and developed relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle at least as far back as 2012. He’s close enough to the Kremlin to have even taken a photo with Putin.

That puts some of his meetings with Trump’s associates, both during the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations and after Trump took office, in a new light. It raises questions of whether he could have benefited financially from helping establish more harmonious ties between the US and Russia. And it raises the possibility that he could’ve acted as an informal broker on behalf of Russia during those meetings or provided expert counsel on how to get in touch with the Kremlin.

Nader used his connections to Russia to help set up a meeting in January 2017 in Seychelles that included Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian fund manager with close ties to Putin, and Erik Prince, the founder of the private security firm Blackwater and an informal adviser to the Trump transition team.

That off-the-grid meeting is a key focal point for the Trump-Russia investigation, as it could offer answers about any potential deals or informal understandings between Trump and Russia right before he took office.

Nader also met with top Trump campaign officials Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner during the transition at least once, and he had regular meetings with them during the early months of the presidency.

Beyond Nader’s Russia ties, Mueller is also investigating how Nader might have helped the United Arab Emirates increase its political influence in the Trump White House by striking huge business deals with a top Trump fundraiser. In other words, Nader’s ties are crucial to understanding how more than one foreign country might have tried to covertly influence the White House.

Nader’s Russia ties could be very valuable to Mueller’s investigation
The Times reports that Nader has a substantial record of dealing with Russian elites going back at least half a decade. He helped broker a $4.2 billion arms deal between Russia and the Iraqi government in 2012. At the time, Nader acted as an informal adviser to then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki and accompanied him to Moscow. The deal eventually fell apart due to accusations of corruption, but the exchange shows that Nader was a power broker with real influence among Russian elites.

In 2012 Nader also attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which is basically Russia’s version of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, every year. It’s invitation-only, and the conference is organized by senior officials in Putin’s inner orbit. It’s unclear if he’s attended the conference since then.

According to the Times sources, Nader has returned to Russia “frequently” while working for the government of the UAE. Nader has accompanied Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s de facto ruler, to Moscow on a number of those trips.

Nader’s Russia ties make it more likely that he has potentially important information to offer Mueller’s investigators about his own interactions with Trump’s associates, including Prince, Bannon, and Kushner. It seems increasingly possible that he has contacts deep inside Putin’s inner circle and could have acted as a messenger for key information about negotiations over how the US-Russian relationship could be improved.

For example, Nader could shed light on what actually went down at the Seychelles meeting and whether Prince and Dmitriev discussed any kind of quid pro quo between Putin and Trump tied to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Nader might have helped the UAE buy influence with the Trump administration
Nader’s cooperation with the probe could also give Mueller insight into how other countries may have attempted to influence the Trump administration.

Nader seems to have used some potentially questionable tactics to lobby for Middle Eastern countries, according to the New York Times. Around the time of Trump’s inauguration, he met Elliott Broidy, a business executive and a top Trump fundraiser. They quickly developed a collegial relationship, and it appears Nader helped Broidy get some major business deals in exchange for influence with the White House.

Nader helped connect Broidy to some new potential clients for Broidy’s private security company, Circinus: the UAE and Saudi Arabia. He helped Circinus win more than $200 million in contracts with the UAE and has recently been in talks with Broidy to set up a $650 million contract with Saudi Arabia.

They then discussed how Broidy could use his influence in Washington to lobby on behalf of Saudi and Emirati foreign policy objectives, like taking a hard line against Qatar and Iran.

Just weeks after Nader wired $2.5 million to Broidy through a company in Canada, Broidy began making large donations to members of Congress who were backing legislation critical of Qatar for its support of terrorism in the Middle East.

Last fall, Broidy sent Nader a memo detailing how he’d used a private Oval Office meeting with Trump to push for the president to meet with bin Zayed and support his foreign policy goals in the region. He had also urged Trump to fire then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

It’s unclear what they discussed during those meetings, but given Nader’s style of using business deals to score political points, investigators are surely looking for signs of whether he violated laws restricting and regulating the flow of foreign money into American politics.

All of which is to say that Nader isn’t just your average businessman, or even your average shady character in Trumpworld. He’s instead a potentially vital source for the investigators looking to answer the question of whether Russia and the Trump campaign colluded in 2016.

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

Postby BenDhyan » Sun May 20, 2018 5:17 pm

Trump calls for Justice Dept. to investigate claims of FBI spy on campaign

President Trump tweeted he will demand that the Justice Department review whether it or the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign.
Published: 05/20/18

I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes — and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Trump said in a tweet Sunday.

The president’s tweet — one of about a half-dozen angry social media posts he wrote on Sunday — was an apparent reference to reports in theNew York Times and Washington Postthat a secret FBI source met with Trump campaign officials several times during the 2016 campaign. The informant was reportedly working for FBI as part of its investigation into Russian interference with the American election.

Both the Times and the Post reported last week the unnamed informant met with Carter Page, then a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, and George Papadopoulos, an unpaid campaign adviser, to gather intelligence on possible contacts between the Trump operation and Russian officials.

The stories have infuriated Trump and his allies, who allege the informant was planted inside Trump’s campaign by the FBI to spy “for political purposes.”

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “… If true - all time biggest political scandal!”

But the informant was not “implanted” in the campaign, according to the media reports.

Here’s what the Times reported last week:

“F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign. The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia," the story says.

Some of Trump’s most ardent supports in Congress have demanded information from the Justice Department about the confidential informant. Justice Department officials have said revealing that information would endanger the agency’s sources and methods — potentially risking lives.

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