Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:35 am

SPY VERSUS SPY: THE TWO ALLEGED AGENTS OF FOREIGN POWERS SITTING IN THE ALEXANDRIA JAIL, PART TWO (MARIIA)

September 3, 2018/4 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, emptywheel, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
In this post, I laid out the difference between two laws criminalizing foreign agents of influence, 22 USC 611 et seq. (FARA) and 18 USC 951. Paul Manafort is charged with the former; Rick Gates, Mike Flynn, and Sam Patten have also all pled guilty to FARA related crimes; Mariia Butina is accused of the latter.

I think, particularly as Mueller’s investigation begins to put real teeth in FARA (and as nation-state spying hides under new kinds of cover and funding arrangements), the border between the two crimes will become increasingly tenuous. A comparison of Butina and Manafort shows some of the ways that’s clear.

BUTINA’S LAWYER PITCHES HER ACTIONS AS LOBBYING

In response to her charges, her attorney Robert Driscoll has repeatedly denied she’s an agent of Russia, not by denying she did what Aleksandr Torshin instructed her to, but by claiming that hers is just a regulatory filing case.

“This is not an espionage case, this is not a spy case, this is a regulatory filing case,” in which Butina didn’t file the correct paperwork with the Justice Department, Driscoll told Robnson in arguing why she should be freed pending trial.

“She’s not an agent of the Russian Federation,” Driscoll told reporters after the hearing.


In a bid to overturn Magistrate Deborah Robinson’s decision to deny Butina bail, Driscoll minimizes the Russian’s activities as “going to dinners among intellectuals and foreign policy wonks to discuss U.S.-Russia relations, attending two National Prayer Breakfasts, and booking hotel rooms at the Washington Hilton, if true, is anything but an ‘obvious’ danger to the public.” He argues, “the allegations do not involve spying, tradecraft, classified information, or any other hallmarks of an espionage case.” To rebut any claim of covert operation, Driscoll points to the fact that one of the actions in her indictment — a dinner hosted by her unindicted co-conspirator, George O’Neill, just after the National Prayer Breakfast — was hosted by O’Neill and written up in the press (one of two stories he cited was written by O’Neill).

She is accused of arranging dinners to promote better relations between Russia and the United States although the very dinner that is listed as a predicate act for her alleged crimes was written about in Time Magazine and the American Conservative—hardly covert activity—and, in actuality, was initiated, organized, and directed by an American citizen, not the Russian government.3


He argues that the government charged Butina with section 951 as a tactical move, to make it easier to prosecute political activity (I’m not a lawyer, but I’m virtually certain he mis-states what the materials say about exempting political activity, not least because, per other materials, section 611 can be a subset of a section 951 violation).

To distract from the frailty of its charges, the government reprises that Ms. Butina is charged under section 951 and not FARA. However, that charging decision alone contradicts the Justice Department’s own policies, and perhaps was made as an attempt to aggrandize her conduct and mischaracterize her innocent political interest as nefarious.

That is, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Criminal Resource Manual makes a distinction between section 951 and a FARA violation. It describes FARA under section 611 et seq. as requiring an agent of a foreign principal engaged in political activities to register. See U.S. Dep’t of Justice, United States Attorneys’ Manual 9-90.700 and 9-90.701; and see Criminal Resource Manual at 2062. It also discusses other federal statutes like section 951, which is “aimed at persons loosely called foreign agents” but specifically exempts section 951 from applying to “foreign agents engaged in political activities.” Id. In plain English, DOJ further notes among frequently asked questions that section 951 is only “aimed at foreign government controlled agents engaged in non-political activities.”5

The government’s April, 2018 search warrant sought evidence of a potential violation under FARA.

[snip]

[A]lthough such allegations are unfounded and untrue, and although the government’s searches revealed no hidden transmitters, wads of cash, counterfeit passports, and plane tickets back to Moscow, the government still decided to paper a case against Ms. Butina under section 951. This decision shows that the government desired to overcharge and inflate her conduct for tactical advantages versus act with restraint or, at a minimum, be consistent with the DOJ and National Security Division’s own publicized understanding of appropriate charges.


And Driscoll doesn’t even concede she violated FARA.

[F]or reasons only it is aware, the government has charged Ms. Butina under 18 U.S.C. § 951 rather than the Foreign Agent Registration Act (“FARA”), 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq., which generally carries civil penalties and much less severe criminal penalties (for circumstances far more egregious than the facts alleged here). Much like a FARA case, the government does not allege that Ms. Butina undertook any independently illegal activities in the United States. The only thing that made her alleged conduct illegal, if true, is that she did not notify the Attorney General prior to undertaking it.

[snip]

At bottom, the government’s case appears to be a novel attempt to stretch 18 U.S.C. § 951 to cover the activities of a foreign national student under the theory that her communications (about non-classified public source material) with contacts in her home country made her an “agent” of that country. The serious charges against her should be viewed in that context, which makes this case distinctly different from a typical section 951, “espionage-like or clandestine behavior” case.4


THE LOBBYING INCLUDED IN BUTINA’S ALLEGED CRIMES

To some extent, Driscoll is right: the government’s description of the allegations against Butina do focus closely on activity that might fall under FARA’s political activities (though, as noted, he cites a DOJ statement that suggests sections 611 and 951 are mutually exclusive, when by my understanding sections 611 can be a part of 951).

Many of the activities Butina is alleged to have done involve things that might be classified as lobbying. In her arrest affidavit, DOJ describes how Butina, with help from Paul Erickson, identified a network of influential Americans, including the NRA, to whom she could pitch closer relations with Russia. George O’Neill helped Butina set up a series of “friendship and dialogue” dinners. A number of her activities, such a publishing an article in The National Interest, are precisely the kinds of things FARA attempts to provide transparency on. This is where Driscoll gets his claim that Butina only “arrang[ed] dinners to promote better relations between Russia and the United States.”

BUTINA WAS DIRECTED BY ALEKSANDR TORSHIN

A number of the allegations would support either a FARA or 951 violation.

The affidavit makes it clear she was following the directions of Aleksandr Torshin, the Deputy Governor of Russia’s Central Bank and as such an official representative of the government.

On the night of the election, for example, she asked for orders from Torshin, “I’m going to sleep. It’s 3 am here. I am ready for further orders.” The two moved to WhatsApp out of Torshin’s concern “all our phones are being listened to.” It’s clear, too, she and Torshin were hiding the role of the Russian government behind her actions. When she sent a report on a conference to establish a dialogue with US politicians, she said it “must be presented as a private initiative, not a government undertaking.”

The government even presented proof that Butina’s actions were approved by people close to Putin himself.

On March 14, 2016, Butina wrote O’Neill that what DOJ calls a “representative of the Russian Presidential administration” had expressed approval “for building this communication channel,” suggesting she and Torshin had direct approval from Putin. “All we needed is <<yes>> from Putin’s side,” Butina explained to O’Neill.


With one exception, Driscoll largely offers bullshit in response to the government’s evidence she operated as a Russian government agent (indeed, his recognition that Butin advertised being Torshin’s special assistant on one of her business cards confirms that she continued to work for Torshin). He includes a letter of grad school recommendation for Butina for Columbia as proof of … it’s not clear what, particularly since Torshin includes his government affiliation on the letter.

Still: Paul Manafort was operating on behalf of a foreign government while Viktor Yanukovych remained in power, yet DOJ charged him with FARA, not section 951. The bar to meet foreignness under FARA is broader than it is under section 951, but lobbying for a foreign government can be sufficient to it. Yet Butina got charged under section 951, not FARA.

PAID BY AN OLIGARCH

The exception to my claim that Driscoll offers little to rebut (in court filings — his statements to the press are another issue) that Butina was directed by the Russian government is the issue of her funding, which the government notes comes from an oligarch that Butina identified to the Senate Intelligence Committee as Konstantin Nikolaev.

Her Twitter messages, chat logs, and emails refer to a known Russian businessman with deep ties to the Russian Presidential Administration. This person often travels to the United States and has also been referred to as her “funder” throughout her correspondence; he was listed in Forbes as having a real-time net worth of $1.2 billion as of 2018. Immediately prior to her first trip to the United States in late 2014, Butina engaged in a series of text messages with a different wealthy Russian businessman regarding budgets for her trip to the United States and meetings with the aforementioned “funder.”


Driscoll points to this to disclaim a tie between her and the Russian state.

[T]he Russian Federation did not pay for her travel to the United States, her tuition, her living expenses, or make any payments to her at all.


This is actually an interesting point, because while FARA requires only that a person be working as an agent of a foreign principal (which might include, for example, an oligarch), section 951 requires that the agent be working on behalf of a foreign government. Butina no doubt still qualifies, given her tie to Torshin.

But particularly when comparing Manafort and Butina, both of whom worked at the border between laundered oligarch cash and government officials, the detail is of particular interest. If Russia outsources its intelligence operations to oligarchs (the Internet Research Agency’s Yevgeniy Prigozhin is another example), will that intelligence still qualify as spying under section 951?

In any case, thus far, the allegations against Butina and Manafort are fairly similar: both were hiding the fact that their political activities were backed by, and done in the interest of, Russian or Russian-backed entities.

THE EVIDENCE FOR COVERT ACTION

One area where Butina may go further than Manafort (at least for his pre-election work) is in the means by which she was trying to hide her work.

In spite of the great deal of publicity Butina made of her own actions — with all the pictures of her and powerful Republican men — the government affidavit also described Butina trying to set up (in her words) a “back channel” of communication with influential Americans. On October 4, 2016, Erickson emailed a friend admitting he had “been involved in security a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [Republican] leaders through, of all conduits, the [NRA]. The affidavit describes Butina telling Torshin that her Russia-USA friendship society” is “currently ‘underground’ both here and there.” When discussing the list of delegates to the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast with Erickson in late November, she said the attendees were seeking to establish a “back channel of communication.”

Manafort was trying to hide that the lobbying he paid for was done for Yanukovych’s benefit, but there’s no allegation his pre-election work aimed to set up a secret channel of communication between Yanukovych and Congress.

Of particular interest, given the parallel efforts on voter suppression from Roger Stone and the Russians, Butina floated serving as an election observer. Torshin argued that “the risk of provocation is too high and the ‘media hype’ which comes after it.” But Butina argued she’d only do it incognito.

THE HONEY POT CLAIM

Then there’s the specific government insinuation that Butina was engaged in a honey pot operation. It substantiates this two ways — first, by suggesting she’s not that into Erickson.

Further, in papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about living with U.S. Person 1 and expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with U.S. Person 1.

It also alleges she offered sex for favors.

For example, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than U.S. Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.


Driscoll pretty convincingly argues the government misinterpreted this last bit.

The only evidence the government relied on for its explosive claim was an excerpt from an innocuous three-year-old text exchange (attached as Exhibit 3) sent in Russia between Ms. Butina and DK, her longtime friend, assistant, and public relations man for The Right to Bear Arms gun rights group that she founded.

DK, who often drove Ms. Butina’s car and thus was listed on the insurance, took the car for its annual government-required inspection and insurance renewal, and upon completion, texted (according to government translators), “I don’t know what you owe me for this insurance they put me through the wringer.” Ms. Butina jokingly replied, “Sex. Thank you so much. I have nothing else at all. Not a nickel to my name.” DK responded: “Ugh . . . ( ”—that is, with a sad face emoticon.

Aside from the fact that Maria is friends with DK’s wife and child and treats DK like a brother, the reference to sex is clearly a joke.


We still haven’t seen the government response to this, but what Driscoll presents does support his claim this is a “sexist smear.”

But Driscoll’s dismissal of the other claim — that Butina disdained living with Erickson — is far less convincing.

[I]n response to her girlfriend’s own complaints about her boyfriend’s failure to call in three weeks (accompanied by an angry face emoji) that Maria responds that her own boyfriend (Mr. Erickson) has been “bugging the sh*t out of me with his mom” and that she has “a feeling that I am residing in a nursing home.” “Send a link to the dating app[,]”


Driscoll spins this as an attack on Erickson’s now late mother, but doesn’t address the central allegation that she likened living with her much older boyfriend to living in a nursing home. Nor that she started the exchange by saying “let’s go have some fun with guys!!!” because she was “Bored. So there.” Furthermore, Butina seemed concerned that her use of Tinder would become public because she logged in using Facebook.

Though he has been sharing schmaltzy videos of Butina and Erickson with ABC, Driscoll also doesn’t address the fact that as early as May, Butina was proffering to flip on Erickson in fraud charges in South Dakota, which would have the effect of putting her in a position to negotiate permanent visa status independent of him, while limiting her own legal exposure.

A STUDENT VISA OR TOURIST ONE?
One key distinction between Manafort and Butina stems from the fact that she’s not a citizen.

The government’s detention motion also notes that Butina “use[d] deceit in a visa application.” They describe her attendance at American University as her cover, one she chose after rejecting carrying out the operation on tourist visas.

Butina chose a student visa from a range of options for her ultimate application, but not before a lengthy discussion of the risks associated with traveling to the United States repeatedly on a tourist visa. The FBI has discovered text messages and emails between U.S. Person 1 and Butina in which Butina would routinely ask U.S. Person 1 to help complete her academic assignments, by editing papers and answering exam questions. In other words, although she attended classes and completed coursework with outside help, attending American University was Butina’s cover while she continued to work on behalf of the Russian Official.

The government also notes that Butina claimed she was no longer employed by Torshin on her visa application. It points to her visa fraud as additional support that she did not intend to register as required by the law.

Butina entered the United States with the express purpose of working as part of a covert Russian influence campaign and did not disclose that fact—not on her visa application and not to the Attorney General.


Driscoll offers a narrow (and to my mind, unconvincing) defense, arguing the government hasn’t shown proof she lied on her form, when the claim is, instead, that intercepts show she applied for a student visa over a tourist visa because of the immigration advantages it offers.

[T]he government has also failed to provide any evidence to support its claim that Maria affirmatively lied on her application for a student visa should give this Court pause.


To be clear: this doesn’t mean Americans can’t be charged under section 951. In June, for example, DOJ charged Ron Rockwell Hansen under section 951 for spying for China.

But because Butina had to find a way to get and stay in the US, she had to game out the best way to do so, and that adds to the evidence that her entire purpose for being in the US is to push Russian policies. That is, it may be easier to charge a foreigner under section 951 because it often involves lying on visa forms.

ONGOING TIES WITH RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE

Finally, there are ties with spooks.

The government alleges that Butina had ongoing ties with the Russian intelligence agencies, including a private meal with a suspected Russian intelligence operator, Oleg Zhiganov (whom Driscoll identified, to the government’s displeasure, to Politico).

FBI surveillance observed Butina in the company of a Russian diplomat in the weeks leading up to that official’s departure from the United States in March 2018. That Russian diplomat, with whom Butina was sharing a private meal, was suspected by the United States Government of being a Russian intelligence officer.


The government also cites from pointed to a conversation where Torshin likened Butina to Anna Chapman (see below) and argued that showed that Torshin treated her a covert spy. The government further points to a document suggesting she considered a job with FSB (though remains murky about other evidence that supports the claim).

Another document uncovered during the execution of a search warrant contained a hand-written note, entitled “Maria’s ‘Russian Patriots In-Waiting’ Organization,” and asking “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?” Based on this and other evidence, the FBI believes that the defendant was likely in contact with the FSB throughout her stay in the United States.


That said, the government also alleges that Manafort has had ongoing ties with Russian intelligence, in the form of Konstantin Kiliminik. So it’s not like ties to intelligence officers by itself merits a section 951 charge.

RECRUITING ASSETS

I suspect a key feature that may distinguish Butina from Manafort is that she had two Americans, Erickson and O’Neill, working with her. There’s even the allegation that she was seeking out time with JD Gordon in the lead-up to the election, suggesting she may have been recruiting assets within the new administration, an action akin to a formal spook. That is, she seems to have been recruiting agents.

That’s different from Manafort, employing a bunch of lobbyists (even while hiding some aspects of those engagements), because Manafort was hiring established professionals (or former European government officials).

I guess one question I have is whether the awareness of the recruitment targets is different.

FLIGHT RISK
While it matters little for the distinction between FARA and section 951, Driscoll suggests the fact that Butina hasn’t fled yet — notably did not in response to a report on her work — is proof she’s not an agent.

First, in February, 2017, the Daily Beast published an article about Maria, her connection to Aleksandr Torshin, her love of guns, and her activities in the United States, essentially alleging that her purpose in the United States might be to “infiltrate” American conservative political groups.13 If the government’s fanciful theory were correct, almost 18 month ago, Maria Butina was exposed, her handler identified, and her purpose in the United States published on the internet. She did not flee, visit the Russian Embassy, or make any effort to change her status as a student.


Curiously, he doesn’t address an intercept excerpted in the government’s detention motion, suggesting that in March 2017 there was an order against arresting her.

Specifically, in March 2017, after a series of media articles were published about Butina, the following conversation ensued:

Russian Official: Good morning! How are you faring there in the rays of the new fame?[] Are your admirers asking for your autographs yet? You have upstaged Anna Chapman. She poses with toy pistols, while you are being published with real ones. There are a hell of a lot of rumors circulating here about me too! Very funny!

[snip]

Butina: It’s the other thing that is important: evidently, there is an Order not to touch us. I believe it is a good sign.

Russian Official: For now – yes, but should things shift, then we are guaranteed a spot on the list of ‘agents of influence.” . . .


But as I noted, Butina’s flight risk would remain the same regardless of whether she had been charged with FARA or section 951.

WHY MARIA AND NOT MANAFORT (YET)?

All of which raises a series of questions about what might distinguish Butina from Manafort:

How important is citizenship in this? And would dual citizenship — dual Russian Federation and US — change that? The government’s reliance on Butina’s alleged visa fraud would (and in other 951 cases has) have important repercussions for any subjects of the investigation who lied but have since obtained US citizenship.
Does who is paying for a person’s defense matter? Driscoll won’t say who is paying his bills, but neither do we know who is funding Manafort’s (thus far) much more expensive defense. In similar cases (such as Evgeny Buryakov, one of the spies who recruited Carter Page), the government filed for a Curcio hearing to make sure a person’s lawyer wasn’t representing the interests of the people paying his bills rather than the defendant, but in so doing proved that Buryakov was not a government agent. If a close Putin ally is paying for Manafort’s defense, does that change the calculus of who he’s working for?
At what point would obtaining useful information on political process in the US count as collecting intelligence? Manafort knows US politics better than almost anyone — he doesn’t need to recruit a source to learn that. Butina did. Does recruiting Erickson to learn about US politics amount to collecting intelligence?
Is beefed up FARA enforcement the proper tool to combat foreign influence operations, or is section 951, absent more covert operations, the way to go after foreign nationals engaging in influence operations?
Given how these two crimes might bleed into each other, are prosecutors threatening charges under section 951 to get pleas under FARA?
All this analysis is based off stuff Manafort did years ago, going back over a decade. It doesn’t address the stuff he is suspected of doing in during the 2016. For example, if Manafort was reporting back on an active Presidential campaign to Oleg Deripaska via suspected Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik, is that a FARA violation, or a section 951 one? He got charged under FARA for his historic work. But I’m not sure his election-related work doesn’t pass the bar for a section 951 charge.
As I disclosed July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/09/03/s ... wo-mariia/



Mueller’s Office Will Grill Him About Roger Stone. He Will Respond With Comedy.

Sept. 4, 2018

Randy Credico, the comedian, left, is set to testify Sept. 7 before a grand jury convened by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. He and his lawyer, Martin Stolar, left the Federal Building in Manhattan last week after being interviewed about his testimony.Jefferson Siegel
Randy Credico, a comedian and left-wing political activist, has an appointment on Sept. 7. With Robert S. Mueller III. Before a grand jury. Under oath.

And he is planning to do impressions, because that’s what he does.

“It’s like, ask me if I’m going to breathe? Of course I’m going to do impressions,” Mr. Credico, 64, said. “I’m taking the grand jury very seriously but doing impressions is part of the package just to calm my nerves,” he said, adding, “You got to give that grand jury some comic relief.”

Mr. Mueller is interested in Mr. Credico’s odd friendship with Roger J. Stone Jr., the self-proclaimed political dirty trickster, Republican consultant and President Trump’s longtime political adviser.

Mr. Credico is seen in New York political circles as a dedicated if madcap activist. But he acknowledges that he also took part over the years in some of Mr. Stone’s acts of political deception.

And Mr. Stone has claimed that Mr. Credico was a conduit to WikiLeaks, telling him when dirt on Hillary Clinton would be released.

Mr. Credico views WikiLeaks’s founder, Julian Assange, who has been holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy in London for six years, as a hero and friend. Mr. Credico has visited Mr. Assange at the embassy three times since the 2016 presidential election, and conducted a phone interview with him for a radio show before the election.

But he said he never had inside information about dirt on Mrs. Clinton, and will tell the grand jury that he never relayed WikiLeaks’s plans to Mr. Stone. What’s more, he and Mr. Stone have bitterly fallen out over the issue.

Not that Mr. Credico hasn’t made light of his purported role. He said he sometimes sarcastically introduced himself as “Randy Credico, the back channel,” at events like the White House Correspondents Dinner.

His testimony is no joke, of course.

Mr. Mueller has already charged more than one person with making false statements. But Mr. Credico, while not formally cooperating with the investigation, said he would share whatever information he has and, toward that end, recently met voluntarily with Mr. Mueller’s investigators in advance of his testimony.

Mr. Credico did political work for Mr. Stone for years, often impersonating famous politicos in robocalls. Despite vast political differences, they aligned on issues like marijuana legalization. Mr. Credico was also involved in Mr. Stone’s attempt in 2010 to establish a pro-marijuana and prostitution political party in New York.

“There’s 16 years I’ve been around Stone,” Mr. Credico said, speaking in interviews and through text messages. “I don’t know what exactly this is focused on. I don’t know if it’s about Assange, if it’s about Stone. I really don’t know.”

Politics in the Trump era has always had a reality show feel, but the Randy Credico chapter of the Mueller inquiry is a high point. Mr. Credico is a political performance artist and sometime New York protest candidate. He is a man who has a “Tonight Show” appearance on his résumé and also counts himself as a protégé of the late activist lawyer, William Kunstler.

Mr. Credico campaigned so aggressively against the tough Rockefeller drug laws that The New Yorker once called him “The Man Who Screamed So Loud the Drug Laws Changed.” He has been known to dress as the Greek philosopher Diogenes and prowl the State Capitol building, where he once protested marijuana laws by lighting up a joint.


Mr. Credico, dressed as the Greek philosopher Diogenes, during a March 2009 public hearing at the New York State Capitol.Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
He also donned cartoonish prison stripes to protest private prisons, leading the state pension fund to tighten its investment restrictions.

“I absolutely give credit to Credico,” Thomas P. DiNapoli, the New York state comptroller, said in an interview. “He’s the one who put it back on the map for me.” He called Mr. Credico “one of those colorful New York characters” but one who was “fighting for change and making the world better.”

Mr. Credico lamented that his association with Mr. Stone might obscure his activism, and called his connection to Mr. Stone “worse than having scurvy.”

Mr. Stone testified to the House Intelligence Committee last year that “a journalist,” whom he later identified as Mr. Credico, told him in 2016 that the WikiLeaks material on Mrs. Clinton “would be released in October.”

“He told me this repeatedly from mid-August and throughout September,” Mr. Stone said in an email, adding that “he is my only source of information regarding WikiLeaks, as limited as it was.”

Mr. Credico adamantly disagreed.

“I couldn’t confirm it,” he said of WikiLeaks’s plans, “because I didn’t know anything.”

Mr. Credico was also subpoenaed last year by the House Intelligence Committee, but asserted Fifth Amendment privileges.

“The Senate is better than the House, but the House is like working a strip joint, as a comedian,” he said, and then specified that it was “like working a strip joint in Orlando, Florida.”

“I used to work strip joints, man,” he added.

Refereeing between Randy Credico and Roger Stone is not easy.

Mr. Credico is a rambling raconteur with a history of drug and alcohol problems — “the whole 90s I was doing cocaine,” he said. Mr. Stone is a master of disinformation tactics and a frequent presence on Infowars, a website that spins bogus conspiracy theories and peddles questionable dietary supplements.

Their relationship has been turbulent. In 2007, Mr. Stone was forced to resign as a consultant to the New York State Senate Republicans after he was accused of leaving a profane voice mail for the father of then Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Mr. Stone briefly blamed Mr. Credico for the episode. He also once started rumors that Mr. Credico was dead. (Mr. Stone called it “a running joke.”)

Mr. Credico shared a few emails he has received from Mr. Stone this year, many laced with unprintable profanity.

“You are exposed as a liar who wears women’s underwear,” Mr. Stone said in one email, adding in another: “People hate rats and liars — u are both.”

Mr. Stone said it was “impossible to address” the emails “out of context.”

Mr. Stone and Mr. Credico first worked together in 2002, on the unsuccessful independent bid by Tom Golisano, a billionaire businessman, to become the governor of New York. Mr. Credico was drawn by Mr. Golisano’s support for drug sentencing reform.

Mr. Credico can often be seen smoking an e-cigarette.James Estrin/The New York Times
Mr. Credico did work for Mr. Stone in two campaigns for the Broward County sheriff in Florida.

“He had me doing some dirty tricks I don’t want to get into,” Mr. Credico said. “Both times. Had me doing things that were untoward.”

He was pressed for details. “I was doing robocalls, all right? Inventive robocalls. That’s all I will tell you. You can imagine since I’m an impressionist, I was doing robocalls. Pretending to be politicians endorsing people.”

Some of these were directed at specific communities. He said an impression of Ed Koch was used in recorded calls aimed at Jewish voters, while an Al Sharpton bit targeted African-American voters.

Mr. Stone said Mr. Credico’s impressions “were always identified as parodies” but Mr. Credico said the disclaimers were “faster than Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

He said he also worked with Mr. Stone on an Ohio gaming referendum, a county commission race in Dade County and he recorded voices for Infowars.

“It’s very difficult to explain to people how I could possibly be associated with someone connected to Roy Cohn. And Nixon and Reagan and Trump and Marcos and Mobutu,” he said, listing Mr. Stone’s mentors and clients. “I guess he had a Rasputin/Svengali kind of spell on me.”

Right now, Mr. Credico is hoping to hold it together after briefly lapsing earlier this year after an MSNBC appearance.

“I got to stay sober until Sept. 7,” Mr. Credico said. “You know what I mean? That’s my day. Because if I start I won’t stop. I don’t want to go in there all wacked out, inarticulate, mumbling and all of that. The last year has been very difficult.”

Mr. Credico said he has been given the O.K. by the special counsel’s team to bring his dog, Bianca, a fluffy 14-pound Coton de Tulear, to the grand jury proceedings, and is considering doing so.

Bianca has accompanied him to media appearances, and is yet another point of contention with Mr. Stone, who once taunted Mr. Credico by threatening to take Bianca; Mr. Stone now says he was only concerned about the dog’s health.

Mr. Credico called Bianca a therapy dog.

“If I have her with me, I definitely can’t take her to a bar,” he said, adding, “She’ll protect me from my demons.”

He was on his game during a 90-minute interview, running through impressions of Jackie Mason, George W. Bush, Mr. Sharpton, Mr. Koch, Strom Thurmond and Ronald Reagan. His Giuliani, in which he retracts his head, froglike, into hunched shoulders, is particularly adept.

If nothing else, the grand jury will not be in for the usual fare.

“I can’t even begin to imagine,” Mr. DiNapoli, the state comptroller, said. “One would wish there would be livestreaming of that.”

Mr. Credico’s lawyer, Martin Stolar, said, “It’s a serious investigation and Randy is obligated to tell the truth, and that’s what he’s going to do.”

But he conceded impressions were not off the table.

“You know Randy,” he said. “He’s not entirely controllable.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/04/nyre ... stone.html



And Trump on Sessions in new Bob Woodward book: “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

BOB WOODWARD quotes John Kelly in his new book as saying of POTUS: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Fun fact: After Trump fires Kelly next week he'll be available as a witness to Robert Mueller. :)

Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency

Robert Costa
September 4 at 11:08 AM
Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” is based on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
John Dowd was convinced that President Trump would commit perjury if he talked to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. So, on Jan. 27, the president’s then-personal attorney staged a practice session to try to make his point.

In the White House residence, Dowd peppered Trump with questions about the Russia investigation, provoking stumbles, contradictions and lies until the president eventually lost his cool.

“This thing’s a goddamn hoax,” Trump erupted at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, “I don’t really want to testify.”

The dramatic and previously untold scene is recounted in “Fear,” a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.

Woodward writes that his book is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses that were conducted on “deep background,” meaning the information could be used but he would not reveal who provided it. His account is also drawn from meeting notes, personal diaries and government documents.

Woodward depicts Trump’s anger and paranoia about the Russia inquiry as unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West Wing for entire days. Learning of the appointment of Mueller in May 2017, Trump groused, “Everybody’s trying to get me”— part of a venting period that shellshocked aides compared to Richard Nixon’s final days as president.

The 448-page book was obtained by The Washington Post. Woodward, an associate editor at The Post, sought an interview with Trump through several intermediaries to no avail. The president called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. The president complained that it would be a “bad book,” according to an audio recording of the conversation. Woodward replied that his work would be “tough,” but factual and based on his reporting.

A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him.

After Trump left the meeting, Woodward recounts, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’ ”

In Woodward’s telling, many top advisers were repeatedly unnerved by Trump’s actions and expressed dim views of him. “Secretaries of defense don’t always get to choose the president they work for,” Mattis told friends at one point, prompting laughter as he explained Trump’s tendency to go off on tangents about subjects such as immigration and the news media.

Inside the White House, Woodward portrays an unsteady executive detached from the conventions of governing and prone to snapping at high-ranking staff members, whom he unsettled and belittled on a daily basis.

Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper, Bob Woodward writes in “Fear: Trump in the White House.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Reince Priebus, Kelly’s predecessor, fretted that he could do little to constrain Trump from sparking chaos. Woodward writes that Priebus dubbed the presidential bedroom, where Trump obsessively watched cable news and tweeted, “the devil’s workshop,” and said early mornings and Sunday evenings, when the president often set off tweetstorms, were “the witching hour.”

Trump apparently had little regard for Priebus. He once instructed then-staff secretary Rob Porter to ignore Priebus, even though Porter reported to the chief of staff, saying that Priebus was “‘like a little rat. He just scurries around.’”

Few in Trump’s orbit were protected from the president’s insults. He often mocked former national security adviser H.R. McMaster behind his back, puffing up his chest and exaggerating his breathing as he impersonated the retired Army general, and once said McMaster dresses in cheap suits, “like a beer salesman.”

Trump told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a wealthy investor eight years his senior: “I don’t trust you. I don’t want you doing any more negotiations. … You’re past your prime.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a frequent subject of attacks by Trump. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

At a dinner with Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, Trump lashed out at a vocal critic, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He falsely suggested that the former Navy pilot had been a coward for taking early release from a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam because of his father’s military rank and leaving others behind.

Mattis swiftly corrected his boss: “No, Mr. President, I think you’ve got it reversed.” The defense secretary explained that McCain, who died Aug. 25, had in fact turned down early release and was brutally tortured during his five years at the Hanoi Hilton.

“Oh, okay,” Trump replied, according to Woodward’s account.

With Trump’s rage and defiance impossible to contain, Cabinet members and other senior officials learned to act discreetly. Woodward describes an alliance among Trump’s traditionalists — including Mattis and Gary Cohn, the president’s former top economic adviser — to stymie what they considered dangerous acts.

“It felt like we were walking along the edge of the cliff perpetually,” Porter is quoted as saying. “Other times, we would fall over the edge, and an action would be taken.”

After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.

Then-White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn tried to temper Trump’s nationalistic trade views. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Cohn, a Wall Street veteran, tried to tamp down Trump’s strident nationalism regarding trade. According to Woodward, Cohn “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that the president was intending to sign to formally withdraw the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security and that Trump did not notice that it was missing.

Cohn made a similar play to prevent Trump from pulling the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, something the president has long threatened to do. In spring 2017, Trump was eager to withdraw from NAFTA and told Porter: “Why aren’t we getting this done? Do your job. It’s tap, tap, tap. You’re just tapping me along. I want to do this.”

Under orders from the president, Porter drafted a notification letter withdrawing from NAFTA. But he and other advisers worried that it could trigger an economic and foreign relations crisis. So Porter consulted Cohn, who told him, according to Woodward: “I can stop this. I’ll just take the paper off his desk.”

Despite repeated threats by Trump, the United States has remained in both pacts. The administration continues to negotiate new terms with South Korea as well as with its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico.

Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Cohn, who is Jewish, was especially shaken when one of his daughters found a swastika on her college dorm room.

Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides, “That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.

When Cohn met with Trump to deliver his resignation letter after Charlottesville, the president told him, “This is treason,” and persuaded his economic adviser to stay on. Kelly then confided to Cohn that he shared Cohn’s horror at Trump’s handling of the tragedy — and shared Cohn’s fury with Trump.

“I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up his ass six different times,” Kelly told Cohn, according to Woodward. Kelly himself has threatened to quit several times, but has not done so.

Woodward illustrates how the dread in Trump’s orbit became all-encompassing over the course of Trump’s first year in office, leaving some staff members and Cabinet members confounded by the president’s lack of understanding about how government functions and his inability and unwillingness to learn.

At one point, Porter, who departed in February amid domestic abuse allegations, is quoted as saying, “This was no longer a presidency. This is no longer a White House. This is a man being who he is.”

Such moments of panic are a routine feature, but not the thrust of Woodward’s book, which mostly focuses on substantive decisions and internal disagreements, including tensions with North Korea as well as the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

Woodward recounts repeated episodes of anxiety inside the government over Trump’s handling of the North Korean nuclear threat. One month into his presidency, Trump asked Dunford for a plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea, which rattled the combat veteran.

In the fall of 2017, as Trump intensified a war of words with Kim Jong Un, nicknaming North Korea’s dictator “Little Rocket Man” in a speech at the United Nations, aides worried the president might be provoking Kim. But, Woodward writes, Trump told Porter that he saw the situation as a contest of wills: “This is all about leader versus leader. Man versus man. Me versus Kim.”

The book also details Trump’s impatience with the war in Afghanistan, which had become America’s longest conflict. At a July 2017 National Security Council meeting, Trump dressed down his generals and other advisers for 25 minutes, complaining that the United States was losing, according to Woodward.

“The soldiers on the ground could run things much better than you,” Trump told them. “They could do a much better job. I don’t know what the hell we’re doing.” He went on to ask, “How many more deaths? How many more lost limbs? How much longer are we going to be there?”

The president’s family members, while sometimes touted as his key advisers by other Trump chroniclers, are minor players in Woodward’s account, popping up occasionally in the West Wing and vexing adversaries.

Woodward recounts an expletive-laden altercation between Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser, and Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist.

“You’re a goddamn staffer!” Bannon screamed at her, telling her that she had to work through Priebus like other aides. “You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not. You’re on staff!”

Ivanka Trump, who had special access to the president and worked around Priebus, replied: “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter.”

Such tensions boiled among many of Trump’s core advisers. Priebus is quoted as describing Trump officials not as rivals but as “natural predators.”

“When you put a snake and a rat and a falcon and a rabbit and a shark and a seal in a zoo without walls, things start getting nasty and bloody,” Priebus says.

Hovering over the White House was Mueller’s inquiry, which deeply embarrassed the president. Woodward describes Trump calling his Egyptian counterpart to secure the release of an imprisoned charity worker and President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi saying: “Donald, I’m worried about this investigation. Are you going to be around?”

Trump relayed the conversation to Dowd and said it was “like a kick in the nuts,” according to Woodward.

The book vividly recounts the ongoing debate between Trump and his lawyers about whether the president would sit for an interview with Mueller. On March 5, Dowd and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow met in Mueller’s office with the special counsel and his deputy, James Quarles, where Dowd and Sekulow reenacted Trump’s January practice session.


Woodward’s book recounts the debate between Trump and his lawyers, including John Dowd, regarding whether the president will sit for an interview with special counsel Robert. S. Mueller III. (Richard Drew/AP)
Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”

“John, I understand,” Mueller replied, according to Woodward.

Later that month, Dowd told Trump: “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”

But Trump, concerned about the optics of a president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle Mueller’s questions, had by then decided otherwise.

“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told Dowd, according to Woodward.

“You are not a good witness,” Dowd replied. “Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”

The next morning, Dowd resigned.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... nal&wpmk=1



emptywheel

43 days before he made his first proffer to Mueller/DC USA, Sam Patten insisted his lobbying had nothing to do with the Russian investigation.

Life comes as you fast.

Image



A Suspected Russian Spy, With Curious Ties to Washington

A longtime Republican operative has been in contact with a suspected Russian intelligence agent for nearly two decades. What does it mean for Robert Mueller's investigation?

Natasha Bertrand is a staff writer at The Atlantic where she covers national security and the intelligence community.
Apr 6, 2018

Leah Millis / Reuters
A longtime Republican operative with ties to the controversial data firm hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign team also has a nearly two-decade-long friendship and business relationship with a suspected Russian intelligence agent, Konstantin Kilimnik, who has landed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs.

The Washington-based operative, Sam Patten, would not tell me whether he has been interviewed by Mueller’s team as part of their investigation into Russia’s election interference and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. But Patten said that his relationship with Kilimnik—a former officer in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) who worked closely with Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, for over a decade—has “been thoroughly explored by relevant government entities.”

Patten’s long friendship with Kilimnik—which stems from their time working together at the International Republican Institute in Moscow between 2001 and 2003—would likely be enough to draw scrutiny from Mueller, who appears to have homed in on Kilimnik as a potentially significant link between the Trump campaign and Russia. The special counsel’s office alleged in a court filing late last month that Kilimnik still had ties to Russian intelligence services in 2016, and that his conversations with Gates in September of that year are relevant to the investigation. Manafort and Gates’s arrival to the campaign team coincided with the most pivotal Russia-related episode of the election: the release of emails that had been stolen from the Democratic National Committee by hackers working for the GRU, Russia’s premier military-intelligence unit.

“We’ve known each other for more than 15 years, and we periodically look for places we can work together,” Patten told me of Kilimnik. Their relationship is also proof that Kilimnik’s ability to ingratiate himself with American political consultants went beyond Manafort and Gates—a fact that could serve as a new data point in examining Russia’s ties to Republican operatives in the U.S. By the spring of 2015—when, as my colleague Frank Foer wrote, Manafort’s “life had tipped into a deep trough”—Kilimnik was already working on a new venture with Patten that appeared to be focused on targeted messaging in foreign elections.

That venture, first reported by The Daily Beast this week, was a private LLC incorporated in February 2015 called Begemot Ventures International (BVI) with a mission to “build the right arguments before domestic and international audiences.” Kilimnik is listed as the firm’s principal and Patten is listed as an executive, according to company records, and the company is registered to Patten’s office address in Washington. A website for Begemot—which was built almost two years after the company was incorporated—links to Patten’s email for inquiries, but does not list the company’s clients.

It is not clear why Patten, who already had a consulting firm registered in D.C., decided to open a brand-new company with Kilimnik. Asked whether any of the firm’s clients were in Russia or Ukraine, Patten replied, “It would be poor business to talk about our clients, but I can tell you declaratively that none of the clients have involvement in the particular circus in the U.S. that seems to have become a news industry in and of itself,” an apparent reference to the Russia investigation. He confirmed that the company, which he described as providing “strategic communications advice for clients outside the U.S.,” is still active, but said it has no projects ongoing at this time.

“BVI has only worked for clients outside U.S. in other countries,” Patten said. “As a result of all this, I regret it probably won’t be working for anyone anymore, but you never know. Life can be unpredictable.” Patten said that, “to the best of [his] knowledge,” Kilimnik “was no longer working for Manafort when BVI was formed.” But he acknowledged that Kilimnik and Manafort, who began working together in Kiev in 2005, “remained in touch, as is well-known.” Patten’s work in Ukraine dovetailed with Manafort’s. About eight months after BVI was incorporated, in October 2015, Patten was in Ukraine advising Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko on his reelection campaign. On his website, Patten writes that he “helped steer Mayor Klitschko to reelection in Ukraine’s capital and largest city in one of the toughest anti-government atmospheres in that country’s history.”

Serhiy Lyovochkin—the former chief of staff to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who hired Manafort to rebrand the pro-Russia Party of Regions in 2014—brought Patten onto Klitschko’s team, Ukrainian media reported at the time. Dmitry Firtash, a pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarch with ties to Manafort who is known for bankrolling pro-Russia candidates in Ukraine, also boasted in 2015 that he was involved in Klitschko’s campaign. Asked whether Manafort coordinated with Patten and/or Kilimnik on Klitschko’s reelection campaign, a spokesman for Manafort said he had “nothing to add.”

Patten describes himself as an “international political consultant” on his website, but he worked at the Oregon office of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, helping to fine-tune the firm’s voter targeting operations in the runup to the 2014 midterm elections, according to investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed, now a columnist for Middle East Eye. Patten alluded to this work on his website, writing that he worked with “one of London’s most innovative strategic communications companies” on “a beta run of a cutting-edge electoral approach” that “included taking micro-targeting to the next level” during the 2014 congressional cycle. Those technologies, he wrote, were “adopted by at least one major U.S. presidential candidate.”

Both Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump employed Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 election. Mueller is now scrutinizing the Trump campaign’s ties to Cambridge Analytica, whose board included Trump’s campaign CEO and former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Bannon interviewed Patten in July 2016 for his SiriusXM radio show, Breitbart News Daily, about a group Patten represents called the Committee to Destroy ISIS. There is no evidence that Patten did any work with Cambridge Analytica or the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. But his relationship with the data firm did not end with the 2014 midterm elections. According to The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr, Patten “played a central role” in the firm’s work in Nigeria in early 2015—work that included hiring Israeli computer hackers to search for “kompromat,” or compromising information, on the candidate challenging the incumbent president at the time, Goodluck Jonathan. Patten didn’t respond to a request for comment about the Nigeria campaign.

Patten said that he remains in touch with Kilimnik, who he believes has been unfairly scrutinized. “As you might imagine, the barrage of shade and innuendo that has been cast on him since Manafort had his time in Trump Tower has not been something he’d welcomed, nor anything that could objectively be called fair,” Patten said, referring to Manafort’s role on the campaign, which was headquartered at Trump Tower.

Gates and Manafort—who were indicted by Mueller in late October on charges including money laundering and tax evasion—remained in touch with Kilimnik during the campaign, according to court documents and emails, even though both knew about Kilimnik’s background in Russian intelligence. Kilimnik later acknowledged in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he and Manafort emailed each other “about Trump and everything” during the campaign. “There were millions of emails,” Kilimnik told RFERL in a text message. “We worked for 11 years. And we discussed a lot of issues, from Putin to women.”
https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/557438/
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

on trump/russia
"Colluded" is only a word confused people use
The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:30 pm

:) :) :) :) :) :)

Mueller subpoenas Jerome Corsi, birther and ex-Alex Jones associate

A lawyer for the conspiracy theorist says he believes Corsi will be asked about his contacts with former Trump aide Roger Stone.

Sep.05.2018 / 1:47 PM ET
Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist with links to both ex-Trump aide Roger Stone and Infowars host Alex Jones, has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., Friday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, his attorney says.


Jerome Corsi holds a copy of his book "Where's the Birth Certificate?" during a book signing at Book Expo America in New York on May 25, 2011.Charles Sykes / AP file
Corsi, who has written such books as "Where’s the Birth Certificate?" and "Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump" will fully comply with the Mueller team’s subpoena, according to attorney David Gray.

The subpoena was first reported by the New York Times.

Gray told NBC News he expects his client will be questioned about his contacts and communications with Stone.

Questions have long swirled about Stone's possible interactions with WikiLeaks and hacker Guccifer 2.0 during the 2016 campaign, when both entities were releasing Democratic emails that had been hacked by Russian intelligence agents.

Stone has denied any wrongdoing, and says he had no advance knowledge of hacked emails.

Gray also says Corsi will bring his computer and cell phone to Washington as part of his effort to cooperate with the special counsel.


Corsi’s name first came up in the probe in March. As first reported by NBC News, Trump ally and Corsi associate Ted Malloch was detained at Boston’s Logan Airport and questioned by the FBI.

Malloch said federal agents questioned him about Stone, Corsi and WikiLeaks. Malloch said he told them he met Stone a total of three times and always with groups of people, and that Corsi had helped edit one of his books years ago.

A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Corsi became the D.C. bureau chief for Infowars in 2017, but no longer works there. Prior to the 2016 presidential election he was a source for Trump's incorrect claims that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-cour ... te-n906756



There’s ‘Deep State’ Divergence About the Best Demise for Trump

Even before Trump said he’d strip him of his clearance, ex-CIA Chief Brennan allegedly told a Hollywood party he thought POTUS would be gone in a year. Others say, ‘Not so fast!’

09.05.18 1:04 PM ET
Former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan does not believe that the commander-in-chief will complete his first term in office.

At a private dinner held in March in Los Angeles, Brennan twice stated in a room full of Hollywood celebrities that Trump “will not be in power by the end of the calendar year,” according to several sources with intimate knowledge of the event and what was said there.

Brennan declined to comment to The Daily Beast at a public event Tuesday at Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security. Through an intermediary, he said he did not remember making such remarks, and would not discuss a private conversation.

But others have, on the condition of anonymity. They have also separately confirmed the venue and audience for Brennan’s prediction that Trump would resign or being impeached before his first term was up. It was at a dinner hosted by Rob Reiner, the liberal filmmaker, at which both Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke, under off-the-record conditions in front of welter of West Coast elites including Barbra Streisand, Larry David and the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti.

The sources disagreed, however, on the tone with which Brennan made his remarks. One said it was delivered “matter-of-factly,” with a hint of certitude; another suggested it was given as mere “opinion.”

As one of the nation’s former spymasters, Brennan was in possession of America’s most classified intelligence on Russia’s interference operation in the 2016 U.S. election. Since departing his post as director he has been a consistent and ferocious opponent of the president, some would say recklessly so.

An Obama appointee, he has repeatedly assailed Trump on television and Twitter for indecency, moral squalor, unfitness for office and — most controversially — “treasonous” behavior. In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, Brennan argued that Trump’s oft-repeated claims that there was no collusion between his campaign and agents of the Russian government amount to “hogwash.” He credited that assessment to both his own “deep insight” as the erstwhile head of U.S. foreign intelligence and also the open-source reporting which has been conducted since he left the Agency on January 20, 2017, the day of Trump’s inauguration.

“A change in government prior to [2020] will be viewed by perhaps a third of my countrymen as a coup carried out by people like me.”

— Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA chief and frequent Trump critic

Even still, many of Brennan’s admirers believe his outspokenness and use of adjectives (“small, petty, banal, mean-spirited, nasty, naïve, unsophisticated” to name just a few) is a way of telegraphing that he knows where the proverbial bodies are buried in the Trump-Russia scandal, but cannot say so without disclosing classified intelligence and therefore breaking the law. For perhaps the same reason, his sallies against a sitting president, unprecedented for a former CIA director, have also made him a foil for Trump loyalists who view Brennan as the embodiment of the so-called “deep state” — that is, a supposed cabal of past and present intelligence officers trying to dethrone a democratically elected chief executive.

Trump has only encouraged that perception, having once likened the U.S. intelligence community to the Nazis and repeatedly disclaimed its collective findings about Russian interference in the election that delivered him into the White House in favor of Vladimir Putin’s reassurances that no such interference took place. Trump has labeled Brennan “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history” and baiting him to sue “to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt.”

Last month, Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance owing to what he labeled the former director’s “erratic conduct and behavior” and “frenzied commentary” in the media, a rather Freudian list of grievances coming from this particular president. The move was met with enormous backlash. Hundreds of former intelligence officials, from both Republican and Democratic administrations, rallied to Brennan’s defense, some even inviting Trump to revoke their clearances, too, in solidarity. The consensus was that Brennan was well within his rights, as a private citizen, to express his opinions and hadn’t done anything, in his capacity as ex-director, to jeopardize national security.

Those defending Brennan don’t necessarily agree with the style or substance of his opposition and fear that even if his prophecy of a short-lived Trump term proves true, the consequences for the Untied States will be dire.

“For the record, I think the president’s policies and personality are bad for America and the world,” Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and of the National Security Agency, told The Daily Beast. Hayden, like Brennan, often makes ample use of social media and television appearances to critique Trump’s judgment and policies, but falls short of resorting to ad hominem attacks.

“Absent clear evidence of obviously criminal acts on the part of the president or his campaign that affected the vote in 2016 (and that is not out of the question ), the remedy here is the next presidential election in 2020," Hayden told us. "A change in government prior to that time will be viewed by perhaps a third of my countrymen as a coup carried out by people like me, and will make a unified way forward consistent with our traditions even more difficult.”

With additional reporting by Spencer Ackerman and Christopher Dickey
https://www.thedailybeast.com/theres-de ... ia=desktop



ROGER STONE’S EXCUSE FOR HIS “PODESTA TIME IN A BARREL” COMMENT IS EVEN STUPIDER GIVEN THE PAUL MANAFORT PROSECUTION

September 5, 2018/0 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
In addition to Randy Credico, Jerome Corsi will testify before the Mueller grand jury on Friday. That means that the grand jury will hear testimony from two people who can address the truth of two claims Roger Stone made before the House Intelligence Committee on September 26, 2017.

First, there’s Stone’s claim he learned about WikiLeaks’ plans to release the John Podesta emails in October via Credico.

Now, let me address the charge that I had advance knowledge of the timing, content and source of the WikiLeaks disclosures from the DNC. On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange, announced that he was in possession of Clinton DNC emails. I learned this by reading it on Twitter. I asked a journalist who I knew had interviewed Assange to independently confirm this report, and he subsequently did. This journalist assured me that WikiLeaks would release this information in October and continued to assure me of this throughout the balance of August and all of September. This information proved to be correct. I have referred publicly to this journalist as an, “intermediary”, “go-between” and “mutual friend.” All of these monikers are equally true.


Then, there’s Stone’s claim (first made publicly by Corsi the previous March) that his tweet predicting John Podesta would soon catch political heat pertained to a project he and Corsi were working on at the time.

My Tweet of August 21, 2016, in which I said, “Trust me, it will soon be the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary” Must be examined in context. I posted this at a time that my boyhood friend and colleague, Paul Manafort, had just resigned from the Trump campaign over allegations regarding his business activities in Ukraine. I thought it manifestly unfair that John Podesta not be held to the same standard. Note, that my Tweet of August 21, 2016, makes no mention, whatsoever, of Mr. Podesta’s email, but does accurately predict that the Podesta brothers’ business activities in Russia with the oligarchs around Putin, their uranium deal, their bank deal, and their Gazprom deal, would come under public scrutiny. Podesta’s activities were later reported by media outlets as diverse as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. My extensive knowledge of the Podesta brothers’ business dealings in Russia was based on The Panama Papers, which were released in early 2016, which revealed that the Podesta brothers had extensive business dealings in Russia. The Tweet is also based on a comprehensive, early August opposition research briefing provided to me by investigative journalist, Dr. Jerome Corsi, which I then asked him to memorialize in a memo that he sent me on August 31st , all of which was culled from public records. There was no need to have John Podesta’s email to learn that he and his presidential candidate were in bed with the clique around Putin.


I noted at the time that that Corsi’s explanation didn’t make any sense, because while the July 31 report did pertain to John Podesta, his August 31 report focused exclusively on Tony (Corsi has deleted the document from the post, and I’m looking for a copy of it; note the conflation of Tony for John got repeated in Craig Murray’s explanations for the WikiLeaks go-between he met in September).

But the explanation is even less credible given what has happened since: Paul Manafort, whose plight the Corsi report was explicitly a response to, got indicted in part because he told Tony Podesta to hide his ties to Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians.

That detail is important of a number of reasons. First, because it makes it entirely unlikely that Stone (who was meeting with Rick Gates during this period, if not boyhood friend Manafort himself) learned of Podesta’s ties via Panama Papers and not from Manafort himself. But it also provides a reason why Corsi and Stone would be focusing on Tony at the time — to draw attention away from Manafort, and with it, the corruption that Manafort implicated the Trump Administration in. Indeed, the Manafort EDVA court record shows that Gates and Manafort were using a range of financial and political means of doing that at precisely that time.

It’s clear, given what we’ve learned as part of the Manafort prosecutions, that the effort to impugn Tony Podesta had everything (as Stone partly tells truthfully) with the plight of Manafort at the time.

Which is to say, it didn’t have anything to do with John.

On top of everything else. Mueller appears to be finishing up false statements charges against Stone.

https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/09/05/r ... osecution/



An intriguing development in Mueller’s effort to question Trump

Mueller appears to have made some serious concessions. But why?
By Andrew Prokopandrew@vox.com Sep 5, 2018, 12:50pm EDT


Trump and now-lawyer Rudy Giuliani, in November 2016. Drew Angerer/Getty
It was around eight months ago that special counsel Robert Mueller first said he wanted to question President Donald Trump about the Russia investigation and potential obstruction of justice. And for eight months since, the president has stalled, offering a shifting set of excuses for refusing to commit to the interview.

But on Monday night, the New York Times and Washington Post reported an intriguing new development in this saga: Mueller’s team has sent a letter to Trump making two apparent concessions. First, the special counsel will accept Trump’s answers in writing (rather than in person), and second, he’s scaled back these questions to focus on Russia rather than obstruction.

Now, the Post’s Carol Leonnig writes that Mueller hasn’t ruled out an eventual in-person interview and may revisit the topic of obstruction later. But his near-term demands to Trump, it seems, are answers in writing on the central topic of Russian interference with the 2016 campaign.

That’s interesting because it seems to concede to two major arguments from Trump’s legal team about why he shouldn’t do an interview. The president’s lawyers have argued that his rambling, off-the-cuff style would put him at risk of making misstatements during in-person questioning. They’ve also claimed that they have various objections to having Trump answer questions about obstruction of justice (executive privilege concerns, worries that Mueller will believe Comey over Trump, and worries about a “perjury trap”).

Rather than slamming Trump with a subpoena to try to compel him to answer questions, it seems that Mueller has considered these arguments and said, okay — for now, he’ll accept written answers, and he’ll table the obstruction issue. What he wants to know: Can Trump answer questions about Russian interference honestly when he and his lawyers have ample time to consider their responses?

We should keep in mind that these leaks are almost surely coming from Trump’s own team, so there could be some self-serving spin involved about what Mueller’s letter said. Still, assuming the basics of the report are accurate, these seem like significant concessions — ones that could be telling about what’s really at the heart of Mueller’s probe.

What’s this all about: obstruction of justice, or conspiracy with Russia?
Since Trump’s dramatic firing of Comey and Mueller’s appointment back in May 2017, close watchers of the special counsel’s investigation have been divided on where Trump’s greatest legal jeopardy lies.


One school of thought has been that when it comes to the president’s own legal exposure, it’s probably all going to come down to obstruction of justice.

After all, Trump’s pressuring of Comey, inconsistent explanations for firing Comey, and pressuring of Jeff Sessions are all well-documented. His personal involvement in all those is clear (unlike the murkier question of whether he knew about or was involved in Russian interference). Mueller has clearly focused a great deal on obstruction, and some commentators have said that even just taking what we know publicly, the obstruction of justice case against Trump looks “damning” (though others disagree).

Furthermore, it’s widely believed that Trump has been lying when he’s repeatedly said he never asked Comey for loyalty or urged Comey to let the Flynn investigation go. (After all, Comey documented the interactions immediately in memos.) If Trump were to repeat those obstruction-related lies to Mueller, he could also be at risk of perjury.

For these reasons, top Russia reporters at outlets like the New York Times have been laser-focused on the obstruction issue. And Trump’s team seems to support this theory too — essentially claiming that Mueller has failed to implicate the president in actual collusion with Russia, so he’s just trying to “get” Trump on a dubious, stretched obstruction of justice case or a related perjury infraction.

But the other school of thought among investigation-watchers is that the real heart of the Mueller investigation — and Trump’s legal risk — is still about conspiracy with Russia to interfere with the election.

For instance, independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, who blogs at EmptyWheel, has been arguing for months that commentators and reporters have been overrating the importance of obstruction as part of Mueller’s probe, while underrating Mueller’s focus on and Trump’s jeopardy over Russian interference. (Wheeler herself has been interviewed by the FBI in relation to the investigation.)

The state of the public evidence regarding conspiracy is weaker — there’s no known “smoking gun” on exactly what this hypothetical conspiracy entailed, or proving Trump’s personal involvement. But there certainly is a lot of smoke: Donald Trump Jr.’s Russian meeting, Russia’s email hacking and social media efforts, the effort to build a Trump Tower Moscow, Paul Manafort’s outreach to a Russian oligarch, reported efforts to lift sanctions on Russia. Mueller has said he wants to ask Trump about all of these matters.

This move by Mueller may suggest that Russian interference — and whether Trump was involved in it — remains the special counsel’s main interest
So now we have this new letter from Mueller to Trump’s team. According to the Times’s Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt, it says the special counsel will accept “written answers from Mr. Trump on questions about whether his campaign conspired with Russia’s election interference.” Any questions on obstruction, it seems, will be tabled for now.

These apparent concessions come as a bit of a surprise. All year, Mueller has made it clear that he wanted to interview Trump, in person, on both conspiracy and obstruction questions. Many have expected that if Trump kept refusing, Mueller would simply subpoena him. (A court showdown would ensue, but Mueller was expected to win it.)

Rather than force a confrontation, though, Mueller has apparently made some serious concessions in tabling obstruction questions and agreeing to accept written answers.

It seems unlikely that Mueller has simply caved on issues of central importance to him. Rather, I expect he is conceding on what he feels comfortable conceding, to try to get what he really wants: Trump’s answers on Russia. (Wheeler’s interpretation is that Mueller is “ready to get Trump on the record on his involvement in the Russian conspiracy.”)

Plus, if Trump refuses to answer even these more limited questions in writing, Mueller has the option of using the subpoena — and this refusal would strengthen any arguments that the president has something to hide here.
https://www.vox.com/2018/9/5/17822860/m ... -interview
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:28 pm

this is a stand alone post

someone is yelling FIRE!


trumps is volcanic tonight :partydance:

he wants the author arrested


did Pence write this? :P

no probably Dan Coates

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

Sept. 5, 2018

President Trump at an event in August at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.Tom Brenner for The New York Times
The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.

President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

The result is a two-track presidency.

Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opin ... tance.html


Image


Trump Staff’s Resistance Can’t Avert a Crisis. It Is One.

Unelected officials may block a rogue president from doing his worst, but that’s not what the Constitution had in mind.
By Timothy L. O'Brien
September 5, 2018, 6:03 PM EDT

“Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles.” Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images
The New York Times published an extraordinary column this afternoon by an anonymous contributor identified as a “senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.” (In a tweet, and perhaps inadvertently, the Times also described its op-ed columnist as a man.)

It’s readily apparent why the writer’s job would be threatened. His column describes a White House mired in subterfuge and scheming because President Donald Trump isn’t able or fit to carry out his duties. “The root of the problem is the president’s amorality,” the columnist observes. “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”

Confronted with that reality, Trump’s own White House staff has apparently gone rogue. “Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” notes the columnist. “We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”


The writer said he shares Trump’s goals of building a strong military, cutting taxes and doing away with federal regulations — successes he says Team Trump has been able to pull off despite the president’s dangerous ineptitude. To achieve their goals, they work around Trump and walk back — or simply thwart — “Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” the writer adds. “But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

There is nobility here. A group of well-meaning people is trying to adhere to principle and make the executive branch function in a mature and responsible way — because Trump, the man elected to do just that, can’t. They are so concerned about things going haywire that they ponder an amendment to the Constitution that allows for replacing the president when he or she is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office. (Trump, always a model of probity, zipped out a video on Twitter Wednesday evening slagging the Times as “gutless” for publishing the anonymous column.)

Unless Vice President Mike Pence is involved with that decision, however, it’s not up to White House officials to “invoke” the 25th Amendment by themselves. The amendment requires vice-presidential participation if it is invoked within the White House. And if Pence is involved with the group the Times columnist describes, well, the plot thickens. But all of that is an argument for another day.

What seems more pointed to me is that the columnist says his troupe sought to avert a constitutional crisis. Think about that: White House officials were so concerned about Trump’s lack of fitness that they considered dire measures, which they then dismissed to avoid a crisis. So these same unelected and unknown officials, all appointed by a president they see as unfit, are now running the country without oversight and accountability? If that’s not a crisis, what is?


The U.S. government is not supposed to function this way. A vibrant democracy rides on the back of voting, transparency and the rule of law. When unelected officials act unilaterally and in secrecy because they work for an inept executive who doesn’t respect the law, then you have yourself a crisis.

Similar things have happened before. In 1919, for example, President Woodrow Wilson became paralyzed and partially blind following a stroke. Wilson’s doctor and his wife, Edith, covered up the president’s condition and Edith administered his executive powers while keeping Wilson’s cabinet and the Congress ill-informed and at a distance. Edith continued her stealth presidency until Wilson’s term ended in 1921.

It wasn’t until the 25th Amendment was passed in 1967, 48 years after Wilson’s stroke and four years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, that a clear procedure for replacing an incapacitated or dead president was put into place.

Trump, of course, is neither incapacitated nor dead. He is merely tragicomically out of his depth (as Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, and Trump’s own history, have substantiated).

As Woodward’s reporting makes clear, some White House officials, like Defense Secretary James Mattis, have occasionally been able to ward off some of Trump’s most perilous instincts. But Mattis, and the Times’s anonymous columnist, haven’t warded off a crisis. They’re living in one.
https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/view/arti ... ssion=true


‘The sleeper cells have awoken’: Trump and aides shaken by ‘resistance’ op-ed

Josh Dawsey
September 5 at 8:20 PM
President Trump and his aides reacted with indignation Wednesday to an unsigned opinion column from a senior official blasting the president’s “amorality” and launched a frantic hunt for the author, who claims to be part of a secret “resistance” inside the government protecting the nation from its commander in chief.

The extraordinary column, published anonymously in the New York Times, surfaced one day after the first excerpts emerged from Bob Woodward’s new book, in which Trump’s top advisers painted a devastating portrait of the president and described a “crazytown” atmosphere inside the White House.

Taken together, they landed like a thunder clap, portraying Trump as a danger to the country that elected him and feeding the president’s paranoia about whom around him he can trust.

Trump reacted to the column with “volcanic” anger and was “absolutely livid” over what he considered a treasonous act of disloyalty and told confidants he suspects the official works on national security issues or in the Justice Department, according to two people familiar with his private discussions.

Trump questioned on Twitter whether the official was a “phony source,” and wrote that if “the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

In a column titled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” the person whom the Times identifies only as a “senior official” describes Trump’s leadership style as “impetuous” and accuses him of acting recklessly “in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”


President Trump pauses to listen a question from a reporter regarding The New York Times' anonymous op-ed after a meeting with sheriffs at the White House Wednesday. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)
[Top appointees are ‘thwarting’ Trump, says ‘senior official’ in New York Times opinion piece]

The official writes that Cabinet members witnessed enough instability by their boss that there were “early whispers” of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office but decided instead to avoid a constitutional crisis and work within the administration to contain him.

“Many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided im­pulses until he is out of office,” the official writes.

The column, which published midafternoon Wednesday, sent tremors through the West Wing and launched a frantic guessing game. Startled aides canceled meetings and huddled behind closed doors to strategize a response. Aides were analyzing language patterns to try to discern the author’s identity or at a minimum the part of the administration where the author works.

“The problem for the president is it could be so many people,” said one administration official, who like many others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. “You can’t rule it down to one person. Everyone is trying, but it’s impossible.”


President Trump holds a meeting with Republican House and Senate leadership in the Roosevelt Room at the White House Wednesday. (LEAH MILLIS/Reuters)
The phrase “The sleeper cells have awoken” circulated on text messages among aides and outside allies.

“It’s like the horror movies when everyone realizes the call is coming from inside the house,” said one former White House official in close contact with former co-workers.

The stark and anonymous warning was a breathtaking event without precedent in modern presidential history.

“For somebody within the belly of the White House to be saying there are a group of us running a resistance, making sure the president of the United States doesn’t do irrational and dangerous things, it is a mind-boggling moment,” historian Douglas Brinkley said.

The column added to the evolving narrative of Trump’s presidency, based on daily news reporting and books like Woodward’s that rely on candid accounts of anonymous admin­istration officials.

“This is what all of us have understood to be the situation from Day One,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters. He added, “That’s why I think all of us encourage the good people around the president to stay.”

[President Trump slams ‘gutless’ New York Times ‘resistance’ op-ed]

Trump was the first to speak for the administration and lashed out at the Times for its decision to publish the column.

“The failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial — can you believe it? — anonymous, meaning gutless, a gutless editorial,” Trump told reporters during an event with sheriffs in the East Room of the White House.

The president went on to brag about his popularity, although nearly all public polls show that more Americans disapprove of his job performance than approve of it. “Our poll numbers are great, and guess what? Nobody’s going to come even close to beating me in 2020,” Trump said, as the sheriffs assembled behind him burst into applause.

The president later tweeted a single word alleging a possible crime: “TREASON?”

In the Times column, the official writes about the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) in heroic terms, describing him as “a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue.”

This invocation angered Trump, who in his private talks with advisers and friends expressed particular dismay because he has long viewed McCain as a personal enemy, according to people familiar with the president’s thinking. The column reignited Trump’s frustration with last week’s remembrances of McCain and the widespread adulation of his life.

The president was already feeling especially vulnerable — and a deep “sense of paranoia,” in the words of one confidant — after his devastating portrayal in Woodward’s book. He was upset that so many in his orbit seemed to have spoken with the veteran Washington Post investigative journalist, and he had begun peppering staffers with questions about who Woodward’s sources were.

Trump already felt that he had a dwindling circle of people whom he could trust, a senior administration official said. According to one Trump friend, he fretted after Wednesday’s op-ed that he could trust only his children.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also denounced the opinion column in a ferociously worded statement that channeled her boss’s rage and echoed some of his favorite attacks on the media.

Her statement began by invoking Trump’s 2016 election victory and noting, “None of them voted for a gutless, anonymous source to the failing New York Times.” Sanders went on to demand that the paper apologize for what she called the “pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed,” and urged the anonymous author to leave the White House.

“The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States,” she said in her statement. “He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign.”

[The Fix: Another hostage in the White House comes forward]

There were immediate calls from Trump critics for the author to step forward and share more information with the public, including perhaps testifying before Congress, about Trump’s fitness for office.

Both inside the White House and in Trump’s broader orbit, aides and confidants scrambled to identify the anonymous official, windmilling in all directions; within just hours of publication, they privately offered up roughly a dozen different theories and suggested traitors.

One aide, for example, suggested a staffer seeking glory and secretly hoping to get caught, while another mused that the official was likely a low-level staffer in a peripheral agency. Others wondered aloud just what constituted a “senior official in the Trump administration.”

A spokeswoman for the Times said she was unable to provide any additional clarity on how the newspaper defines a senior administration official.

Times editorial page editor James Bennet declined to provide further information about the writer’s position or identity but said the newspaper received the column before news about Woodward’s book broke Tuesday. He said the newspaper “would not have been able to publish” the column if it had not granted anonymity to its author.

“We thought it was an important perspective to get out,” Bennet said. “Our preference is not to publish anonymously and we seldom do it. The question is, do we think the piece was important enough to make an exception? We feel strongly that it was.”

[All the speculation that’s fit to tweet: Who wrote that anonymous Times op-ed?]

The outing of the op-ed’s author is virtually inevitable, according to forensic linguists, who work in both academia and private industry, figuring out the authors of anonymous texts in lawsuits, plagiarism cases and historical puzzles.

“We take the questioned document and compare it to known exemplars,” said Robert Leonard, a linguist at Hofstra University who is often retained by defendants and prosecutors in criminal cases involving threats, plagiarism and libel.

But although many people immediately launched into amateur forensic investigations after publication of the Times piece, Leonard cautioned that “a problem with public people is that a lot of their published work is edited, so it’s like mixing fingerprints or DNA. You don’t always know who the real author is.”

Brinkley, the historian, said the most analogous example of disloyalty and advisers disregarding the president’s wishes was in Richard Nixon’s final year as president. He explained that Nixon would “bark crazy orders” to aides that they intentionally disregarded.

“You’d have to go back to Hans Christian Andersen, ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes,’ to see this syndrome where the president’s reality happens to be so different from his own senior advisers,” Brinkley said.

Paul Farhi and Marc Fisher contributed to this report.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... 24d50728d2
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

on trump/russia
"Colluded" is only a word confused people use
The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:32 am


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsm1GPnlqmU

Image



KAVANAUGH HEARINGS THREAD

viewtopic.php?f=52&t=41276
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

on trump/russia
"Colluded" is only a word confused people use
The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:23 pm

D.C. Wise Man Had Early Access To Trump’s Pro-Russia Speech

Photos obtained by The Daily Beast show that controversial think tank chief Dimitri Simes was closer than previously known to the speech’s drafting.
Betsy Woodruff

09.06.18 4:54 AM ET
EXCLUSIVE

In the morning of April 21, 2016, a staffer at the Center for the National Interest, a Washington D.C., think tank, wandered into the office of Dimitri Simes, the group’s president.

The staffer saw a pile of papers on the desk titled “FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENSE OUTLINE.” The staffer realized the papers were the detailed outline, in bullet-pointed paragraphs, of a major foreign-policy address that then-candidate Donald Trump was set to deliver six days later as a guest of the center. The staffer used a cellphone to snap pictures of all five pages of the document.

More than two years later, Maria Butina, who once wrote for the center’s magazine and occasionally emailed with Simes, was arrested as an accused Kremlin agent. Subsequently, the person provided the photos to The Daily Beast. The photos’ metadata confirm they were taken on a cellphone on the morning of April 21, 2016. A second former staffer told The Daily Beast that he saw the same documents on Simes’ desk.

The pictures provide new insight into the creation of Trump’s historic foreign-policy speech. They also indicate that Simes was closer than previously known to the drafting of that speech. (Jacob Heilbrunn, the editor of the center’s magazine, wrote for Politico shortly after the speech that he didn’t know what was going to be in it. “I was curious as anyone to see what Trump would actually say,” he wrote.)

“The Committee has reason to believe that Mr. Simes played a central role in drafting portions of the speech related to Russia.”
— House Intelligence Committee Democrats
It isn’t unusual for a think tank chiefs to preview drafts of a speeches presented at their invitation. But Simes’ proximity to the speech shows that he had an early view into the crafting of a speech that would have historic significance for American foreign policy. Democrats on the House intelligence committee tried to investigate Simes’ relationship to Trump’s campaign, but Republican committee Chairman Devin Nunes blocked their efforts.

Presented with this account and with the pictures of the document, the center’s executive director, Paul Saunders, declined to comment. Heilbrunn emailed that he did not receive any preview of the speech. Simes did not respond to a request for comment but wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Sept. 5, 2018, that his think tank’s interaction with the Trump campaign had a “small scope.” Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer at Donald J. Trump for President, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. J.D. Gordon, a foreign-policy adviser to Trump on the 2016 campaign, told The Daily Beast he was not familiar with the document.

The pictures demonstrate that significant changes were made from the speech’s detailed outline to its final version—including the removal of lines condemning bigotry, praising legal immigration, and disparaging Russia.

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The speech Trump ultimately delivered—a transcript is available here—had some notable differences from the lengthy outline that found its way to Simes’ desk. The document on Simes’ desk listed four main weaknesses in American foreign policy: overstretched resources, an unclear understanding of foreign-policy goals, allies afraid they cannot trust the U.S., and the disrespect of rivals.

The speech Trump delivered a week later, on April 27, included one more bullet-pointed weakness: “Our allies are not paying their fair share,” Trump proclaimed. The same concern is detailed in the document from Simes’ desk, but with less prominent billing. It’s a talking point Trump has been hammering for nearly two decades and continues to use in meetings with America’s NATO allies.

The outline also criticized American intervention in the Balkans under the Clinton administration—a move also criticized by the Kremlin. “Look what happened in the 1990s,” the outline said. “Even after the attacks on the USS Cole and our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, we continued to pursue nation-building in the Balkans. Then we got hit on 9/11, because our leaders were not sufficiently focused on the security of the American people.”

When Trump delivered his speech a week later, he didn’t mention the Balkans.

The outline also included a line speaking out against prejudice. “I reject bigotry of all kinds,” the document from Simes’ desk reads. “And I reject Senator Cruz’s proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in our country. That is wrong.” In his final speech, Trump didn’t speak about bigotry in general or Cruz’s proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in particular.

Trump’s outline also suggested spending $100 billion or more on the military; that number doesn’t appear in his final speech.

“The outline also included a line speaking out against prejudice. ‘I reject bigotry of all kinds... And I reject Senator Cruz’s proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in our country. That is wrong.’”
Another line in the outline that didn’t appear in the final version: “I believe we need legal immigrants, who make a huge contribution to our economy. We can protect American workers and their way of life without being protectionist.”

The outline also included a negative comment about Russia that didn’t appear in the final speech. “Russia is a declining but proud country with a nuclear arsenal that could obliterate our country,” the outline reads.

Politico later reported that Trump received assistance writing the speech from Richard Burt, a member of the center’s board who was lobbying at the time for a natural-gas project controlled by the Kremlin.

Simes attracted scrutiny from House Intelligence Committee Democrats when they investigated Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race. But committee Republicans decided against compelling Simes to answer questions or produce documents. In a minority report released when Republicans ended their Russia probe earlier this year, committee Democrats listed him as a key witness—evidence, in their view, that the investigation was incomplete.

“The Committee is investigating matters related to the speech and communications that may have occurred at the event, and the Committee has reason to believe that Mr. Simes played a central role in drafting portions of the speech related to Russia,” committee Democrats wrote. “The Committee should also obtain relevant personal correspondence between Mr. Simes and Trump campaign officials and any individuals with direct or assumed links to the Russian government.”

Simes, who was born in Moscow and served as an adviser to Richard Nixon, has distinguished himself from the largely monolithic Washington think-tank crowd by his working relationships with Kremlin officials—and, as The Daily Beast has reported, his apparent effort in one instance to use those connections to try to assist one of his organization’s most generous benefactors. Under his leadership, the center has argued for more effective cooperation between Washington and Russia on some issues. It also gets notable access to some Russian government officials; in March of last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sat for a lengthy interview with the center’s executive director in Moscow.

Both the outline found on Simes’ desk and the speech the future president delivered at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington called for warmer relations with Moscow.

“I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia—from a position of strength—is possible,” he said in the speech. “Common sense says this cycle of hostility must end. Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/dc-wise-m ... h?ref=home



More
Seth Abramson Retweeted Justin Hendrix
Actually, he helped *write* it. We already knew this, it's just that many people forgot. The Daily Beast needs to read PROOF OF COLLUSION.Seth Abramson added,
Justin Hendrix
Verified account

@justinhendrix
Putin ‘Friend’ Dimitri Simes had early access to Donald Trump’s infamous pro-Russia campaign speech in April 2016, per photographs given to law enforcement: @woodruffbets exclusive- https://thebea.st/2NSGPWJ?source=twitter&via=desktop … via @thedailybeast

2/ Funny how The Daily Beast has dragged my research and here they are calling an "exclusive" info less explosive than what we already knew long ago.

FACT: the Trump campaign promised Simes "writing input" into the Mayflower speech, and we already know who else wrote/edited it.


3/ So here's an "exclusive": know who edited the outline on Dimitri Simes' desk? GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS. The "coffee boy." Know when he was given the awesome responsibility of editing Trump's first foreign policy speech? Immediately after he told Trump he was a Kremlin intermediary.


4/ It's almost like there's… proof of collusion.

5/ And the man who set up the Mayflower Speech (which speech promised a "good deal" for Russia) was in touch with, as he did so… the Russian ambassador.

That man was Jared Kushner.

PROOF OF COLLUSION is 500 pages of revelations like this.

https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 7297096706


at this point and it appears that Kavanaugh is definitely being merged

Kamala Harris called in to the Rachel Maddow show tonight and confirmed that she does indeed have information about the answer to her “yes” or “no” question. She doesn’t want to reveal what that information is… at least not yet. But she wouldn’t have fought so hard to get Brett Kavanaugh to commit to a “no” answer unless she’s sitting on evidence that the true answer is “yes.” Not only will that expose Kavanaugh as actively plotting with Team Trump in the Trump-Russia investigation, it’s also felony perjury.
http://www.palmerreport.com/analysis/ka ... ris/12526/



COMMENTARY
‘The Onion’ Has Chosen To Publish An Anonymous Op-Ed From Two Sources Close To Trump Who Think Their Dad Is The Best President Ever
Yesterday 1:40pmSEE MORE: EDITORIAL

Today, The Onion is making an unusual editorial decision, and we want to explain why. As turmoil continues to increase within the Trump White House, this essay offers an invaluable high-level perspective into the administration’s inner workings. Due to the sensitive nature of this op-ed, revealing the identities of the writers could jeopardize their positions in the administration. We believe, however, that any issues with the writers’ identities or their motivations for writing this piece are overridden by the necessity of informing the public about what it’s like to work for the president. That is why The Onion has chosen to publish an anonymous op-ed from two sources close to Mr. Trump who think their dad is the best president ever.Image
https://www.theonion.com/the-onion-has- ... 1828863178




Five Times Brett Kavanaugh Appears to Have Lied to Congress While Under Oath

Pesky documents keep surfacing to contradict the nominee’s claims about his past.

Pema Levy and Dan FriedmanSep. 6, 2018 6:43 PM

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearings. Erin Scott/ZUMA

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has made declarations under oath during his current and past confirmation hearings that are contradicted by documents from his time as a counsel to the president and staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House. Newly released documents have undermined Kavanaugh’s declarations to the Senate Judiciary Committee, contradictions that are drawing close scrutiny from many Democrats. Kavanaugh has denied making any misleading or false statements.

His role in accessing stolen documents: In 2002, a GOP aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Manuel Miranda, stole thousands of documents belonging to the committee’s Democratic staff. At the time, Kavanaugh was a White House lawyer working on judicial nominations, which included working alongside Miranda. In 2003, President Bush nominated Kavanaugh to his current position on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and his confirmation hearing was held in 2004—though he was not confirmed until two years later. During his 2004 hearing, Kavanaugh denied ever receiving any of the documents Miranda stole. Asked if he “ever come across memos from internal files of any Democratic members given to you or provided to you in any way?” he replied, “No.” In 2006, also under oath, he again denied ever receiving stolen documents.

But newly released documents show that Miranda had indeed sent Kavanaugh information from the stolen internal documents. The nominee continues to deny he knew the information was stolen. But he can no longer deny he received it.


Warrantless wiretapping: At a 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that he knew nothing of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, launched under President George W. Bush, until the New York Times revealed it publicly in 2005. Kavanaugh insisted he’d heard “nothing at all” about the program before that, even though he was a senior administration aide. But a September 17, 2001 email provided to the New York Times this week shows that Kavanaugh was involved in at least initial discussions about the widespread surveillance of phones that characterized the NSA program. In the email to John Yoo, then a Justice Department lawyer, Kavanaugh asked about the Fourth Amendment implications of “random/constant surveillance of phone and e-mail conversations of non-citizens who are in the United States when the purpose of the surveillance is to prevent terrorist/criminal violence?” Kavanaugh said Wednesday that his 2006 testimony was “100 percent accurate.” But the email, which describes the gist of the wiretapping program, which Bush approved in 2002, calls Kavanaugh’s claims of ignorance into question.

Torture: During the same 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh told Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that he “was not involved” in legal questions related to the detention of so-called enemy combatants. But Durbin said Thursday that records show that there are at least three recorded examples of Kavanaugh participating in discussions of Bush administration detainee policy. Kavanaugh stood by his prior answer.


The nomination of Judge William Pryor: In Kavanaugh’s 2004 confirmation hearing, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) asked the nominee about his support for William Pryor’s nomination to the 11th Circuit, given that Pryor had called Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” Kavanaugh responded, “That was not one that I worked on personally.” Newly released documents suggest otherwise. Emails from the Bush White House show that Kavanaugh was involved in selecting Pryor, interviewing him, and shepherding his nomination through the Senate.


The nomination of Charles Pickering: During his 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh downplayed his role in the nomination of Charles Pickering, a controversial judicial appointee. (For instance, Pickering once reduced the sentence of a man who burned a cross in front of an interracial couple’s house.) “This was not one of the judicial nominees that I was primarily handling,” Kavanaugh said. But new emails show he may have been more involved than he let on.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... nder-oath/
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

on trump/russia
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The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:58 am

This person was the DEPUTY FINANCE CHAIR of the anti-abortion party...the party that is pushing for Kavanaugh who will take women's rights away


Image

NASTY BOY
Elliott Broidy’s Mistress Shera Bechard Says He Demanded She Get Abortion
Shera Bechard also accused Elliott Broidy of having unprotected sex with her—‘without telling her he had genital herpes.’ Broidy denies the claims.
Justin Miller,
Lachlan Cartwright
09.07.18 5:12 PM ET

George Pimentel/Getty
A major Republican fundraiser allegedly demanded that his Playboy playmate mistress have an abortion. That’s according to accusations leveled by the mistress, Shera Bechard, and revealed in a document unsealed in court on Friday.

Bechard sued Elliott Broidy, the former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, for allegedly breaching their hush-money agreement that saw the former Playboy playmate receive $1.6 million for her silence about their extramarital affair. Broidy’s attorneys filed a motion in July to redact parts of Bechard’s complaint that contain explosive allegations against him. A judge agreed and redacted portions of Bechard’s complaint this summer.

Broidy’s motion, however, contains the unredacted allegations.

They include Bechard’s claim that Broidy compelled to her to have an abortion; that he refused to wear a condom; and that he had sex with Bechard “without telling her he had genital herpes.” In addition, Broidy allegedly told Bechard he had prostate cancer and that he was unwilling to have his prostate removed “because it would stop him from having sex, which he told her was more important to him than life itself.”


Bechard also claims that she was scared of Broidy because he carried a gun in his car and “had told her that he knew people who could make other people disappear.” She alleges that Keith Davidson—her former attorney who negotiated the hush-money agreement—told her that Broidy would sue her for child support if she kept the baby and that Bechard should “be very very careful.”

The agreement between Bechard and Broidy was drawn up by President Donald Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, using some of the same language he wrote for a non-disclosure agreement to silence Stormy Daniels about her alleged affair with Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty to breaking the law to silence Daniels and Karen McDougal, who also alleged an affair with Trump.

Before their relationship ended, Broidy allegedly pushed her to “drink excessively so that she would be more compliant toward his physical abuse.” Broidy also hurt her during sex, she alleges, and talked about wanting to “skull fuck” her.


“This person tried to extract money from me by making up false, malicious, and disgusting allegations. I have acknowledged making the mistake of having an affair, and I entered a confidential agreement to protect my family’s privacy,” the statement reads. “I honored my agreement until her lawyer breached it—and then, when I failed to pay her demands, she did what blackmailers do and went public with her lies. I will vigorously defend myself against these false and defamatory allegations, and I will seek all relief available to me under the settlement agreement against her and her attorneys.”

Broidy’s attorneys called the allegations “spurious” and false in the motion before Los Angeles superior court. They argued that purported facts about Broidy are protected by his constitutional right to privacy, and said disclosing allegations to the public are irrelevant to as a matter of law and improper because their disclosure violates their settlement agreement.

A spokeswoman for Stris & Maher said: "Elliott Broidy continues to viciously attack our client, Shera Bechard, in the press—this time because a judge found his legal arguments for secrecy unavailing and because his own lawyers failed to do their jobs. We will not be intimidated as we work to vindicate our client’s rights."
https://www.thedailybeast.com/elliott-b ... t-abortion


New York federal prosecutors are investigating whether Trump Organization executives broke campaign finance laws

New York federal prosecutors are investigating whether Trump Organization executives violated campaign finance laws.
Prosecutors began looking into the matter after Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former longtime lawyer, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and bank fraud last month.
In a court filing, prosecutors said Trump Organization executives approved $420,000 in "reimbursements" to Cohen for "election-related" costs.
Prosecutors at the Manhattan US attorney's office are probing whether people working at the Trump Organization broke campaign finance laws, Bloomberg reported.

Investigators are said to have expanded their inquiry after Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer and the Trump Organization's former lead counsel, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations last month.

Cohen claimed that his campaign finance violations were made "at the direction of the candidate" with "the purpose of influencing the election." Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, confirmed that candidate was Trump.

The Manhattan US attorney's investigation has been steadily growing in scope over the last several weeks.

In August, it emerged that two of the men closest to hush-money payments to women who claim to have had affairs with Trump were granted immunity by prosecutors.

One of those men is Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Organization. The other is David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, Inc., which owns the Trump-friendly tabloid, The National Enquirer.

At the center of the investigation are two separate payments made to women in order to silence them before the 2016 election.

One of those was a $130,000 payment Cohen made to the porn star Stormy Daniels in October 2016, just days before the election. Daniels claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which Trump denies.

The other was a $150,000 that American Media, Inc. paid to the former Playboy model Karen McDougal in exchange for the rights to her story about an alleged 2006 affair with Trump.

But the outlet never published the piece. That practice is known as "catch and kill," and it effectively silenced McDougal about her allegations. The Washington Post reported in July that Cohen had secretly recorded a conversation in which he and Trump discussed a plan to purchase the rights to McDougal's story from American Media, Inc.

In a court filing last month, prosecutors said Cohen approached Trump Organization executives asking to be reimbursed for "election-related" costs following the election, and that he began receiving the payments in February 2017. The document said the Trump Organization ultimately approved $420,000 in reimbursements to Cohen.

Specifically, prosecutors claim Cohen "sought reimbursement for that money by submitting invoices to the candidate's company, which were untrue and false."

"They indicated that the reimbursement was for services rendered for the year 2017, when in fact the invoices were a sham," the document said.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.
https://www.businessinsider.com/new-yor ... aws-2018-9


Trump will undoubtedly face impeachment, says Watergate attorney

Andrew Hall watched from within the courtroom as four of Richard Nixon’s top advisers were sentenced to prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.

He had been hired as counsel by John D Ehrlichman, the former president’s senior adviser for domestic affairs, who was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury. Ehrlichman created "The Plumbers," a covert special investigations unit inside of the White House that began conducting illegal operations under his watch, leading to one of America’s most extraordinary political scandals.

Now, Mr Hall says he's watching history repeat itself, with Donald Trump and his associates awaiting a similar fate in the days and weeks ahead.

"The cover up is always worse than the crime," the attorney said in an interview with The Independent. "And this one is very shady. We have a sitting president who will undoubtedly be impeached."


Explosive reports from inside the White House have recently arrived in the form of an anonymous New York Times op-ed penned by a senior administration official, as well as a 448-page book by Bob Woodward, one of the journalists famous for exposing critical information in the Watergate scandal.

Both describe an administration in disorder, complete with an aloof president in Mr Trump who appears incapable of leading the nation. Aides are reportedly swiping documents from his desk. Several have allegedly formed a "Steady Resistance" to thwart his worst inclinations.
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

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"Colluded" is only a word confused people use
The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:08 pm

Ex-Mistress Accuses Longtime RNC Leader Elliott Broidy Of Physical, Sexual Abuse, Complaint Shows

The former Playboy model also says in the complaint that the major Republican donor thought Donald Trump was “an idiot.”

Yashar Ali
Shera Bechard, a former Playboy Playmate who had a four-year affair with former Republican National Committee Deputy Chairman Elliott Broidy, says he subjected her to physical and sexual abuse and that he exposed her to herpes. These allegations are in a complaint that remains sealed under court order in a lawsuit filed by Bechard contending that Broidy ceased making payments on a $1.6 million hush money agreement.

The complaint contains significant allegations about Broidy’s sexual and medical history and his relationship with President Donald Trump. Bechard says that Broidy called the president “an idiot, who could not even pronounce the names of countries correctly” but that Broidy “admired Mr. Trump’s uncanny ability to sexually abuse women and get away with it.”

Bechard also alleges that Broidy was emotionally abusive and told her that she couldn’t date or be seen with other men, and that he wanted her financially dependent on him. She also says in the complaint that Broidy told her she was “fat and needed to fix it” and pushed her to undergo liposuction.

Broidy’s attorneys have told the court that the allegations partially detailed in this story needed to be stricken from the complaint because they weren’t material to the lawsuit and involved Broidy’s personal health and medical information.

In a statement sent to HuffPost, Broidy said:

“This person tried to extract money from me by making up false, malicious and disgusting allegations. I have acknowledged making the mistake of having an affair, and I entered a confidential agreement to protect my family’s privacy. I honored my agreement until her lawyer breached it—and then, when I failed to pay her demands, she did what blackmailers do and went public with her lies. I will vigorously defend myself against these false and defamatory allegations, and I will seek all relief available to me under the settlement agreement against her and her attorneys.”

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A spokeswoman for Stris & Maher, the firm that represents Bechard, said in a statement late Friday: “Elliott Broidy continues to viciously attack our client, Shera Bechard, in the press — this time because a judge found his legal arguments for secrecy unavailing and because his own lawyers failed to do their jobs. We will not be intimidated as we work to vindicate our client’s rights.”

Bechard met Broidy, a Republican donor and investor, at a California restaurant in 2013, and they carried on an extramarital affair (Broidy is married) during which Broidy financially supported Bechard.

Broidy is also the subject of a criminal investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice. The investigation, according to The Washington Post, is centered on Broidy’s business activities with foreign officials and whether he sought to sell “US government actions... in exchange for tens of millions of dollars.”

This article has been updated with a statement from Shera Bechard’s legal representatives.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/el ... 2d2ea3?acq



Yashar Ali

The unsealing of the redacted portions of the complaint is not going to be good for Elliott Broidy. As I noted earlier this month I'm told that the redacted portions contain lots of personal details.

Michael Avenatti

I am very pleased that the court agreed with our position (and that of the media) this morning and ordered the complaint in the Broidy matter unsealed. @PeterStris and Broidy should have never attempted to hide it from the public in the first place. #Basta


2. I just received this statement from Elliott Broidy. Note the use of the word "disgusting"...as I mentioned in my tweet above the redacted portions of the complaint contain personal details.

Image

3. Elliott Broidy's attorneys have just filed a petition for an emergency stay to keep the redacted portions of the complaint under seal. They acknowledge in the filing what I have alluded to above that the redacted portions contain info about sexual and medical privacy.

Image

4. Ok it's been a crazy day, here are some details..and I'll be updating my story here with some more news over the next 24 hours. Shera Bechard alleges that Broidy was emotionally, sexually, and physically abusive. (cont)

5. She goes on to allege that Elliott Broidy refused to wear condoms and as a result she contracted herpes. During their affair, Broidy demanded she not see any other men and he wanted her to be, she says, financially dependent on him.

6. Bechard says that Broidy called President Trump “an idiot, who could not even pronounce the names of countries correctly” but that Broidy “admired Mr. Trump’s uncanny ability to sexually abuse women and get away with it.”

7. Bechard also says that Broidy (pictured below) told her that she was “fat and needed to fix it” and pushed her to undergo liposuction.
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

on trump/russia
"Colluded" is only a word confused people use
The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Sep 09, 2018 10:49 pm

trump’s #MeToo advice, per Woodward book:
“You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.”


Image



The Urgent Question of Trump and Money Laundering
How Bruce Ohr, President Trump’s latest Twitter target, fits a suspicious pattern of behavior on Russia.


By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist
Sept. 9, 2018

President Trump with President Putin in Helsinki in July. Trump’s odd affinity for Russia continues to cause him trouble.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Donald Trump has a long history of doing what he thinks is best for Donald Trump. If he needs to discard friends, allies or wives along the way, so be it. “I’m a greedy person,” he has explained.

It’s important to keep this trait in mind when trying to make sense of the Russia story. Trump’s affinity for Russia, after all, is causing problems for him. It has created tensions with his own staff and his Republican allies in Congress. Most voters now believe he has something to hide. And the constant talk of Russia on television clearly enrages Trump.

He could make his life easier if only he treated Vladimir Putin the way he treats most people who cause problems — and cast Putin aside. Yet Trump can’t bring himself to do so.

This odd refusal is arguably the biggest reason to believe that Putin really does have leverage over Trump. Maybe it’s something shocking, like a sex tape or evidence of campaign collusion by Trump himself. Or maybe it’s the scandal that’s been staring us in the face all along: Illicit financial dealings — money laundering — between Trump’s business and Russia.
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The latest reason to be suspicious is Trump’s attacks on a formerly obscure Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr. Trump has repeatedly criticized Ohr and called for him to be fired. Ohr’s sin is that he appears to have been marginally involved in inquiries into Trump’s Russian links. But Ohr fits a larger pattern. In his highly respected three-decade career in law enforcement, he has specialized in going after Russian organized crime.

It just so happens that most of the once-obscure bureaucrats whom Trump has tried to discredit also are experts in some combination of Russia, organized crime and money laundering.

You have 4 free articles remaining.
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It’s true of Andrew McCabe (the former deputy F.B.I. director whose firing Trump successfully lobbied for), Andrew Weissmann (the only official working for Robert Mueller whom Trump singles out publicly) and others. They are all Trump bogeymen — and all among “the Kremlin’s biggest adversaries in the U.S. government,” as Natasha Bertrand wrote in The Atlantic. Trump, she explained, seems to be trying to rid the government of experts in Russian organized crime.

I realize that this evidence is only circumstantial and well short of proof. But it’s one of many suspicious patterns about Trump and Russia. When you look at them together, it’s hard to come away thinking that the most likely explanation is coincidence.

Consider: The financially rickety Trump Organization, shunned by most mainstream banks, long relied on less scrupulous Russian investors. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Donald Trump Jr. said a decade ago. “We have all the funding we need out of Russia,” Eric Trump reportedly said in 2013. And what was the rare major bank to work with Trump? Deutsche Bank, which has a history of illegal Russian money laundering.
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Agents Tried to Flip Russian Oligarchs. The Fallout Spread to Trump.

Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms

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Trump also had a habit of selling real estate to Russians in all-cash deals. Money launderers like such deals, because they can turn illegally earned cash into a legitimate asset, usually at an inflated price that rewards the seller for the risk. One especially dubious deal was Trump’s $95 million sale of a Palm Beach house to a Russian magnate in 2008 — during the housing bust, only four years after Trump had bought the house for $41 million.

Then there is Trump’s paranoia about scrutiny of his businesses. He has refused to release his tax returns. He said that Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line by looking into his finances. When word leaked (incorrectly) that Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank’s records on Trump, he moved to fire Mueller (only to be dissuaded by aides). Trump is certainly acting as if his business history contains damaging information.

For months, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has been trying to get Congress to pay attention to the possibility of money laundering. He points out that Mueller’s mandate does not necessarily include a full investigation of Trump’s businesses. But those businesses could still have behaved in ways that give Putin, a hostile foreign leader, leverage over the president of the United States.

“We need to find out whether that is the case and say so. Or we need to find out that is not the case and say so,” Schiff told me. “But to leave it as an unanswered question, I just think would be negligent to our national security.” So far, congressional Republicans have chosen negligence.

Which means that the November elections may determine whether we ever get answers. If Democrats win House control, Schiff will gain subpoena power. If Republicans keep control, just imagine how emboldened Trump will feel. He could mount a full-on assault on the rule of law by shutting down Mueller’s investigation and any other official scrutiny of the Trump Organization.

At this point, who can doubt that Trump wants to do so? Presumably, he has a good reason.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/opin ... eller.html


Open Letter to Times Op-ed Writer: Go Public Now, Before They Bust You
You think: I’ll never work in this town again. And you’re probably right. But your only value now is to bring down the entire system.
Rick Wilson

09.06.18 1:56 PM ET

Dear Deep State Throat:

You need to run. Run fast. Run now.

First, I’m sure you can hear the national golf clap for your op-ed in The New York Times. Some people think you’re a hero. Some people (particularly a certain orange, rage-tweeting resident of the West Wing Inpatient Mental Health Care Facility) consider you a traitor of the first order.

I’m giving you half marks. You speak the truth we’ve seen reported since the start; Donald Trump is mentally, intellectually, and morally unfit to serve as President. His election was a repulsive historical lacuna in the long line of patriots from both parties to hold the highest office in the land. You’ve borne witness to his behavior, and claim a role in blocking actions even after President Trump utters his various mad-hatter declarations. Bravo for trying to keep the Gold Codes out of Trump’s wee little grippy paws so he doesn’t launch a nuclear war with Iceland.

For all that, you’re not getting any awards. You know what you're doing in service to Trump is morally indefensible, but you’re trying to “But Gorsuch!” yourself out of the ethical sewer. That’s so Swamp.

You want to excuse yourself by telling us that for all the military, diplomatic, economic, political, and moral hazards into which Donald Trump has steered this nation, you’ve moved the tiller to help avoid the rocks. Slow clap. If you argue that you’re doing a great job, I should note that Frederick Fleet, the Titanic’s lookout, did ring the doomed ship’s warning bell and shouted to the bridge, “Iceberg, right ahead!” After all, only part of the ship hit the iceberg, right?

“The future of the tenth asshole who escapes this White House who says, "I saw all this crazy, terrible, illegal, dangerous stuff and still tried to help" is exactly zero. Here’s their future: "Welcome to Arby's."”
Kudos, though, for displaying some vague survival instinct. It’s obvious you know that you need a marker on the board for when the walls close in for the last time. You need to apply that survival instinct and look to the near future. Half measures and anonymous op-eds aren’t enough, not by a long shot.

You know that the system of subverting Trump you boasted about is marginal and unstable on its best day. You know that a year ago there were more of your fellow travelers inside the White House, and as the ETTD rule grinds its painful way through your ranks, that number is shrinking. At best, you’re describing your role in an opportunistic soft coup. At worst, you’re putting trivial ideological wins before the security of the nation.

You know the easy days are behind you. You know Mueller is coming. You know that November is coming, and in January the Democrats will have subpoena and oversight power in the House. The days when Paul Ryan let Devin Nunes and his clown crew run wild in defense of your boss are soon over. You’ve described Trump’s instability, poor judgment, and amorality yourself. The only easy day was yesterday.

Finally, you know you're going to get caught. I know, I know. You thought were being careful. You used the burner phone. You used Signal. You kept all your contacts off-campus. Your opsec was decent, but the odds you'll get caught are astronomical. As much as there's an underground of people in this White House trying to save us from Trump's excesses, there's a broader culture of snitches, informants, ass-kissers, and bad actors who will rat you out in a hot minute.

It’s okay. You should welcome it. It's your chance to do the actual right thing, finally. Get out before they bust you. Build an exfil plan and a message plan, and execute it. If you’re the kind of person who has access to unclassified emails and documents that bolster the case, you should have as many of them on a thumb drive as you can. Anecdotal stories are great, but records are the gold standard.

Now, take a deep breath, because here comes the hard part. You’re going to have to go public. You’re going to have to burn it down to save yourself. You’re thinking, “I’ll never work in this town again,” and you’re probably right.

The only path is to get into the daylight as fast as you can, not like Omarosa, but as a true whistleblower and patriot. Your only value now is in pulling down the entire system. First movers in the collapse of this White House get a book deal. The future of the tenth asshole who escapes this White House who says, "I saw all this crazy, terrible, illegal, dangerous stuff and still tried to help" is exactly zero. Here’s their future: “Welcome to Arby’s.”

No one in this White House will help you. No one there can help you, even if the lower-level staff is cutely sending “sleeper agent” texts to one another. The edifice is crumbling, the King is mad, and no amount of tweeting, no redneck rally in East Asscrack, Arkansas, no Fox filibuster will save it.

Run before they catch you. Tell it all. Save yourself. Save the country.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/open-lett ... ia=desktop
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:15 am

Trump’s inner circle:
The ties to Russia


By Alexa Ard, Maureen Chowdhury, Patrick Gleason and Lindsay Claiborn

Reporting by Greg Gordon, Kevin Hall, Ben Weider and Peter Stone

Click through the interactive web to explore the timelines and stories of the people in President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

From Paul Manafort to Michael Cohen, discover their ties to Russia and Trump.


Read more here: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/specia ... rylink=cpy

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/specia ... 45540.html
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

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"Colluded" is only a word confused people use
The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Sep 10, 2018 6:00 pm

Upcoming Manafort trial to spotlight Ukrainian oligarchs, politicians

By Josh Kovensky. Published Sept. 10 at 6:48 pm

Kevin Downing, lead attorney for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, talks to reporters outside the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse after the jury announced a verdict August 21, 2018 in Alexandria, Virginia. Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of bank and tax fraud as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The jury was hung on 10 other counts
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A questionnaire for potential jurors in the upcoming second trial of former Party of Regions adviser and ex-Donald Trump 2016 Campaign Manager Paul Manafort reveals dozens of powerful Ukrainians could make cameos in the U.S. proceedings.

Made public on Sept. 5, the questionnaire names dozens of likely witnesses in the case, as well as many figures crucial to the illegal lobbying and money laundering schemes that Manafort is alleged to have masterminded on behalf of the administration of the disgraced and ousted former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The most likely potential witnesses at the trial include Rick Gates, who took a plea deal to testify against Manafort, and Sam Patten, the political consultant who pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist on behalf of Opposition Bloc last week.

But at the bottom of the list is a collection of 27 Ukrainian names, which, while riddled with spelling mistakes, is a rollcall of top Yanukovych-era officials who financed, cooperated with, and in some cases opposed Manafort’s work in Ukraine. Others on the list include former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and other people incidental to Manafort’s work.

The list illustrates how many former Yanukovych officials remained in key positions in the Ukrainian government even after the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution – dozens of Yanukovych-era diplomats remained at their posts or were promoted, helping to finalize the association agreement with the European Union under President Petro Poroshenko.

The Yanukovych administration’s refusal to go ahead with the association agreement with the EU led to his ouster in the EuroMaidan Revolution of 2014.

The list also highlights the Poroshenko administration’s failure to prosecute anyone for crimes committed under the Yanukovych regime. Many of the ousted president’s backers and allies remain extremely influential in Ukraine, with little attention paid by law enforcement to the $40 billion stolen and more than 100 protestors murdered during the revolution.

Manafort is set to go to trial on Sept. 24 in Washington D.C. on charges that he failed to register as a foreign agent and on money laundering allegations.

Black ledger?

Much of Manafort’s Ukraine-related troubles began in May 2016, when Bloc Petro Poroshenko MP Serhiy Leshchenko and Ukrainska Pravda Editor Sevgil Musaieva announced that they had uncovered a so-called handwritten “black ledger” of the Party of Regions, allegedly reflecting illegal payments the party made during its election campaigns.

Two months later, the New York Times published a story saying that the ledger showed $12.7 million destined for Manafort. He left his position as campaign manager the next day.

The ledger allegedly showed other Ukrainian officials, including Election Commission Chief Mykhaylo Okhendovsky, Former Party of Regions MP Yevgeny Geller, former Party of Regions MP Vitaliy Kalyuzhnyy, and former Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara receiving payments.

All of those names appear on the juror questionnaire list.

‘Symbiosis’

So does that of Serhiy Lovochkin, the current Opposition Bloc MP who, according to former Opposition Bloc MP Vadim Rabinovich, worked closest with Manafort while the U.S. political consultant was in Ukraine.

“Lovochkin led him around on a leash,” Rabinovich said in a TV interview.

Manafort’s first trial revealed evidence that Lovochkin funneled $40 million to the now-convicted felon.

According to Sergey Vysotsky, an MP from Narodnyi Front and a former journalist, Manafort’s pay came in part from a “political-economic symbiosis” between Lovochkin and oligarch Dmytro Firtash.

“They were partners,” Vysotsky said. “Lovochkin guaranteed entrance to the necessary offices… under Yanukovych or (Viktor) Yushchenko, and Firtash worked out the business schemes. And through the business schemes he bought influence, through (TV station) Inter, the Party of Regions, and later the Opposition Bloc.”

Part of the influence campaign extended into Europe, where Manafort allegedly hired a group of European politicians to lobby on the Yanukovych Administration’s behalf, specifically as part of a bid to convince Western officials to ignore accusations that the prosecution and imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was politically motivated.

These politicians were allegedly managed through a Brussels-registered NGO called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, run by a Russian-speaking German woman named Ina Kirsch.

A document filed with the U.S. Justice Department claims that former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, and former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer were hired to do the work.

The lobbying push also involved a number of ritzy D.C. entities, ranging from commissioning law firm Skadden Arts to write a report whitewashing the Tymoshenko prosecution to hiring lobbying firms Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs to act as the Yanukovych regime’s representatives in Washington.

Part of that representation centered on the 2012 parliamentary elections. CNN reported that Podesta Group contacted the State Department in a bid to burnish the Yanukovych government’s handling of the elections.

Also during the parliamentary elections, conservative U.S. websites were publishing pro-Yanukovych pieces defending the jailing of Tymoshenko and praising how the elections were being run.

A Buzzfeed report later accused Central Election Commission Chief Mykhaylo Okhendovsky (also on the list) of involvement in a scheme to pay off the journalists to write the stories – exporting to the United States the Ukrainian concept of “dzhynsa,” or paying journalists to produce public relations content disguised as newspaper articles or internviews.

Andrii Smyrnov, a lawyer for Okhendovsky, declined to comment on the U.S. proceedings, adding that “the criminal case against (the commission head) in Ukraine has been closed for more than a year.”

Smyrnov also represents four other Ukrainians on the questionnaire list: Former Party of Regions MP Yevgeny Geller, Former Party of Regions faction chief Oleksandr Yefremov, and Former Chairman of the Rada foreign relations committee Vitaly Kaluzhnyy.

Below is a list of the Ukrainians who could figure in the course of Manafort’s second trial:

Image
https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politi ... cians.html






Misfire: Maria Butina’s strange route from Russia to US jail
By MATTHEW BODNER and ANGELA CHARLTON
Image
Maria Butina
1 of 10
In this photo taken on Sunday, April 22, 2012, Maria Butina, a gun-rights activist, poses for a photo at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia. When gun activist Maria Butina arrived in Washington in 2014 to network with the NRA, she was peddling a Russian gun rights movement that was already dead. Fellow gun enthusiasts and arms industry officials describe the strange trajectory of her Russian gun lobby project, which U.S. prosecutors say was a cover for a Russian influence campaign. Accused of working as a foreign agent, Butina faces a hearing Monday, Sept. 10 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)
MOSCOW (AP) — When Maria Butina arrived in Moscow from Siberia in 2011 to launch a Russian version of the National Rifle Association, her shooting range coach said she didn’t even know how to fire a weapon.

She learned fast, but her far-fetched bid to liberalize gun rights in Russia flamed out. By the time she arrived in Washington in 2014 to network with the NRA, she was peddling a Russian gun rights movement that was already dead.

Fellow gun enthusiasts and arms industry officials described to The Associated Press the strange trajectory of a Russian gun lobby project that appeared doomed from the start — with President Vladimir Putin among its many opponents.

Maria Butina
Maria Butina poses for a photo at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia, on April 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)

U.S. court papers suggest the movement was a ruse, created to allow Butina and influential patron Alexander Torshin to infiltrate the NRA and pursue covert Russian back channels to American conservatives as Donald Trump rose to power.

Jailed since July on charges of working as an undeclared foreign agent, the 29-year-old Butina faces a hearing Monday in Washington, the latest Russian accused of meddling in U.S. politics and courting Trump.

She pleaded not guilty, and her lawyer calls the charges exaggerated. The Russian government calls her a political prisoner.

Analysts suggest Butina and Torshin started as freelancers, endeavoring to create something the Kremlin was signaling it wanted: a line of communication with Republican lawmakers to negotiate a détente that would ease crippling economic sanctions.

Maria Butina, Alexander Torshin
Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin, then a member of the Russian upper house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia, on Sept. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)
It’s unclear when, and to what degree, Russian secret services got involved. But it’s clear that no one in Russia tried to stop it.

Butina and Torshin — a longtime senator who’s now deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank — were oddly overt in their activities. They shared their U.S. travels widely on social media and displayed none of the tradecraft typical of spies.

And they suffered no punishment for championing gun rights, even though many in Russia’s leadership see the idea as subversive.

“She was saying, ‘I always thought if I was going to be in jail, I’d be in jail in Russia for advocating for gun rights, and now I’m in jail in America for advocating better U.S.-Russian relations. There’s something kind of screwed up about that,’” said Robert Driscoll, Butina’s U.S. attorney.

One possible reason she remained untouched in Russia: Evidence presented by the FBI suggests she and Torshin had links to Russian intelligence.

Guns are tightly restricted in Russia, a country where extremist threats loom and organized crime and corruption fester. Civilians can own only hunting rifles and smoothbore firearms and must undergo significant background checks for those. Firearms advertising is illegal, and polls show most Russians are wary of looser gun laws.

Gun statistics in Russia are difficult to come by. The Small Arms Survey, which looks at the issue globally, estimated in 2010 that about 9 percent of Russians own a firearm, but only about 60 percent of the 13 million guns in civilian hands are legally registered.

Allowing Russians to own handguns would be a lucrative opportunity for arms manufacturers — a prospect that launched Butina’s rise.

Born in the Siberian city of Barnaul, Butina flirted with libertarianism and gun rights activism, and a failed political campaign got her noticed — in her words — by higher powers who pulled her to Moscow in 2011 to “bring the (gun rights) project to life.”

Those powers, according to a representative in the Russian arms industry, were billionaire transport magnate Konstantin Nikolayev and his wife, Svetlana Nikolayeva, a sport shooter and CEO of Russian gun manufacturer ORSIS. Nikolayeva, the representative said, tapped Butina to become the face of her pet project — a lobbying group that would come to be known as The Right to Bear Arms, modeled on the NRA.


Svetlana Nikolayeva, the head of a gun company that supplies sniper rifles to the Russian military and intelligence services, left, presents her company's arms to then-Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, second right, during an exhibition in Yerevan, Armenia, on March 28, 2018. (Armenian Presidential Press Service via AP)
The Nikolayevs hired a PR firm to give Butina a makeover, according to the representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he knows the Nikolayevs personally and he fears professional repercussions. The wonkish girl from the provinces became a charismatic spokeswoman for Russian guns.

Boris Pashchenko, the head of a shooting club in Moscow, worked closely with Butina in those early days. “I saw (Butina’s group) at a shooting range when they first started organizing,” he told the AP. “Butina had never fired a gun before; I was the one who taught her how.”

Her lawyer said he couldn’t comment on her shooting ability.

Fellow activists said she was an effective organizer, putting together well-financed rallies and uniting disparate gun rights supporters — including opposition libertarians and pro-Putin officials. She studied the NRA’s playbook, reciting its slogans and statistics.

Boris Pashchenko
Shooting instructor Boris Pashchenko demonstrates how to handle a gun at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia, on July 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Meanwhile, a sea change was taking place in U.S. politics. Many conservatives increasingly saw the left as enemies with which they had little in common, and began viewing Putin’s Russia — nationalist, traditionalist, newly devout — as a like-minded friend.

Torshin took note. According to his own accounts, he frequently visited the U.S. while in Russia’s upper house of parliament from 2001 to 2015, befriended NRA members, bought a lifetime membership and even monitored the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

A key ally was lawyer G. Kline Preston IV, who introduced him to then-NRA President David Keene.

Keene, Preston and the NRA did not respond to requests for comment about Torshin. When AP journalists visited Preston’s office in Nashville, a portrait of Putin was hanging in the main entrance.

Torshin met Butina in Russia at one of her group’s rallies in 2011, and within months, they were collaborating on legislation to liberalize pistol ownership, according to those involved.

But when Torshin submitted the bill in July 2012, it was torn apart.

The timing was tough: It came days after James Holmes fired on a Colorado movie theater with multiple weapons, killing 12 and wounding dozens.

But the idea had already met resistance from Moscow’s mayor, Russia’s interior minister and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who said later that year: “The (gun) rules that exist in the United States are absolutely unacceptable for Russia, or even for the United States itself.”

Torshin’s bill almost seemed designed to fail. Bills are rarely presented without tacit Kremlin approval, yet Putin himself said a few months earlier that “free movement of firearms will bring large chaos, and present great danger.” A Russian arms industry official said civilian gun sales were so politically sensitive that his company refused to mention the prospect in annual reports or discussions with investors.

“They wanted to be a Russian NRA in terms of influence. But they knew you’re never in Russia going to have a full-on Second Amendment arm-yourself-against-the-tyranny thing. That will get you thrown in jail,” Butina’s U.S. lawyer Robert Driscoll told the AP.

The dream of Russian gun rights, it seemed, was over. The Nikolayevs, who once hoped to make money from the idea, were pulling out.

Maria Butina
Butina speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia, on April 21, 2013. (AP Photo/File)
Yet Torshin and Butina pressed on, and the Right to Bear Arms increased its international outreach, focusing on the NRA.

In 2013, an NRA delegation attended a Moscow conference led by Butina. Visitors included then-NRA boss Keene and Paul Erickson, a Republican operative who would become Butina’s romantic partner in the U.S. and help her make inroads with the American right, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Torshin and Butina talked with the U.S. visitors about reviving gun rights legislation, according to Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, part of the 2013 delegation.

But they didn’t mention Kremlin opposition to the bill, he said, and their lobbying group seemed anything but marginalized. He thought their meeting, at a major convention center, “had some government blessing,” Gottlieb told the AP.

Even as Butina and Torshin used the Right to Bear Arms to attract U.S. attention, the group was falling apart. Opposition libertarians bristled at Butina’s outreach to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, according to former collaborators.

Maria Butina
Butina poses for a photo at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)
In late 2014, Butina surprised her followers by resigning as head of the Right to Bear Arms. “After she left, I’ve not heard of them doing anything meaningful. It is a shadow of its former self,” said Libertarian Party member and gun enthusiast Alexey Ovsiyenko.

But her U.S. networking was blossoming. As the U.S. presidential campaign heated up, she and Torshin met with GOP figures at the 2015 NRA convention in Nashville — including, Torshin tweeted, Donald Trump.

Butina and Torshin organized another NRA visit in December 2015 to Moscow, where they discussed gun rights. Yet Putin remained opposed. He announced the creation of a new National Guard a few months later, in part “to limit the circulation of weapons in the country.”

Butina continued to champion guns on social media, and moved to the U.S. in 2016 for graduate studies at American University.

Based on Twitter messages and other exchanges, the FBI says Butina moved to Washington on Torshin’s order to leverage their NRA contacts — and lay the groundwork for a long-term influence campaign.

Instead, it led to her arrest and indictment.

___

Charlton reported from Paris. Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, contributed.
https://www.apnews.com/0cdee17ffb394e50816d4e4d583a56f7


Image

“The U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota is currently leading a fraud investigation into Erickson’s business dealings, and the FBI is questioning those in his orbit.”
Image


Maria Butina’s Beau Snookered Investors With a Shady Oil Deal

The details behind the deal shed new light on an individual who was entangled in a relationship with the accused Russian operative.

09.10.18 5:18 AM ET
While he was involved with accused Russian spy Maria Butina, Paul Erickson was trying to sell investors on an oil-rich real estate deal using a company that appears not to have existed on land that he did not own, according to multiple sources, court records, and data reviewed by The Daily Beast.

It was 2014 and North Dakota was experiencing a major oil boom—one propped up by the burgeoning fracking industry in the Bakken formation, a swath of 200,000 square miles of land stretching across the state to Minnesota and into parts of Canada.

Erickson solicited investments from attendees at conservative political events by laying out a deal that promised high returns, according to three people with knowledge of the deal and court records reviewed by The Daily Beast. Erickson, who represented himself as a real estate developer, planned to use his company in North Dakota to set up a transaction in the Bakken region, the sources said. But Erickson doesn’t appear to have planned on carrying out the deal, according to a 2015 judgement by a California court. And the company he represented doesn’t appear to have ever existed, according to a review of public records by The Daily Beast.

The details behind the deal Erickson promoted in North Dakota shed new light on an individual who was entangled in a relationship with an accused Russian operative and who is now being probed by the U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota and the FBI, according to two people with knowledge of the efforts. The Bakken deal also raises questions about how Erickson used the investment money he accumulated. His former business partners now wonder whether the money from the deal went into any of his activities with Butina.

Originally from Russia and a close confidant of Russian central bank official Alexander Torshin, Butina is currently in an Alexandria jail on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent.

Throughout the Butina court documents, federal investigators mention a “U.S. Person 1”—an individual Butina worked with, dated and used to make connections with “an extensive network” of right-wing political figures. That person, who documents say is closely tied to the National Rifle Association, is largely believed to be Erickson. Butina recently offered to provide information to the government about Erickson’s illegal activities, according to a document filed by the government in Butina’s case in Washington, D.C. last week. Although Erickson has has not been accused of any wrongdoing officially, the document described “U.S. Person 1” as an individual that "aided the defendant’s charged criminal activity for years and, as such, should not be viewed as a positive tie to the community."

By the time he met Butina in 2013, Erickson had founded a handful of companies in South Dakota that dabbled in sectors ranging from real estate to patenting. He had solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment for his business ventures. But he was also in legal trouble, according to court records. As first reported by The Daily Beast in July, several people have sued Erickson in California, Virginia, and South Dakota, claiming he misrepresented himself and his businesses and failed to pay investors back. In one case, Erickson attempted to pay back an investor, but the check bounced.

The Bakken oil deal shows Erickson not only failed to manage his investments properly, but he also knowingly misled investors about owning a company in North Dakota, according to a 2015 judgement filed in a California court.

In an email in November of 2013 to a potential investor for the Bakken deal, Erickson asked for funding for what he called his “new real estate development venture” in North Dakota.

“I’m extremely proud of the work of our development team as together we find new ways to service the office and housing needs of this new American gold rush,” Erickson wrote. In the email, Erickson called his new business the “Bakken oil fields” and said it was set up to capitalize on the boom in North Dakota.

“Due to your interest in my work and in consideration of past kindness, I would welcome your investment of any amount you choose (up to $100,000),” the email said.

Erickson noted in the email that any investment would be governed by two conditions. One, that returns would be repaid by February 18, 2014 and two, that he would repay the full amount of investments if the deal did not materialize. Erickson garnered at least $50,000 from the email exchange and did not pay any of it back, according to the judge’s decision on the case.

Two individuals familiar with the Erickson deal said he told investors he owned several parcels of land near Williston, North Dakota and would set up a transaction between two of his companies. In a complaint filed in a lawsuit in 2015, one of the investors alleges Erickson planned to use a company he controlled to sell undeveloped North Dakota land it owned to a second company Erickson controlled.

“Such a transfer would result in profits for Defendant, as owner of the first seller company, on account of a secured lender giving a higher valuation to the land, on account of various entitlements acquisitions which were part of the Transaction,” according to the complaint.

One of the companies he represented while soliciting investments was Northern Plains Holdings, LLC, according to investors and people familiar with the deal. The North Dakota secretary of state’s office told The Daily Beast it did not have record of such a company connected to Erickson. It’s unclear what other company Erickson planned to use. The Daily Beast also checked property ownership data for North Dakota and could not find evidence Erickson ever owned land in Williston.

At one point in 2014, when he was dating Butina, Erickson admitted to an investor that he had used some or all of the money for personal expenses. In a 2015 default judgement, the court found Erickson had committed fraud.

Erickson did not provide the investor with details of how he used the money, but those involved in the Bakken deal are now questioning if some or all of the money they gave to Erickson went to funding his relationship with Butina.

“[Erickson] was a liar,” one investor told The Daily Beast. “He seemed like one of those people that liked to to try and exist on the periphery of power politics in Washington so he could lure people in.”

Those associated with Erickson told The Daily Beast he relied on meeting people at events such as the National Rifle Association and the Conservative Political Action Conference to find people to fund his ventures, including the one in North Dakota. Erickson wooed those he met into investing by offering attractive terms specifically for “friends and family,” according to court records.

“Power is an aphrodisiac in politics. Paul always attracted people around him,” said Gary Byler, a longtime friend and an attorney in Virginia Beach. “He is great fun to be about.”

Byler also called Erickson “a great American.”

There’s no evidence to suggest Erickson coordinated with Butina on the Bakken oil deal. However, the couple has worked together on several different business deals since 2013, including one that involved Russian jet fuel, according to a recent report by The New York Times. Erickson and Butina also worked together operating Bridges LLC, a company they registered in 2016 in in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s unclear from South Dakota records how the company conducted its business.

Around the same time, Erickson reached out to the Trump campaign and suggested setting up a meeting between the candidate and President Vladimir Putin. In a May 2016 email to Trump’s campaign advisor Rick Dearborn titled “Kremlin connection,” Erickson presented himself as someone connected to the Russian government and said he could arrange a back-channel meeting, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota is currently leading a fraud investigation into Erickson’s business dealings, and the FBI is questioning those in his orbit. Several of his companies are registered in the state. Butina’s lawyer Robert Driscoll in July said his client had offered to assist law enforcement in its investigation. But last week he told the Associated Press Butina in fact knew “very little” about the case and that she was not “aware or guilty of any crimes” in South Dakota.

Documents filed in the Butina case show Erickson met with the agency earlier this summer. The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota both declined to comment for this story. Erickson and his lawyer did not respond to calls for comment.

Meanwhile, Erickson is “holding up well,” Byler said, adding that he had lunch with his friend within the past two weeks. “Paul understands politics is a contact sport. But he is very smart. I think he can put two and two together and understand the reality of things.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/maria-but ... y-oil-deal


All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

on trump/russia
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The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:01 am

Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia go back 3 decades

Journalist Craig Unger talks Russia, Trump, and “one of the greatest intelligence operations in history.”

Sean IllingSep 12, 2018, 8:10am EDT

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
On November 9, 2016, just a few minutes after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, a man named Vyacheslav Nikonov approached a microphone in the Russian State Duma (their equivalent of the US House of Representatives) and made a very unusual statement.

“Dear friends, respected colleagues!” Nikonov said. “Three minutes ago, Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections, and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America, and I congratulate you on this.”

Nikonov is a leader in the pro-Putin United Russia Party and, incidentally, the grandson of Vyacheslav Molotov — after whom the “Molotov cocktail” was named. His announcement that day was a clear signal that Trump’s victory was, in fact, a victory for Putin’s Russia.

Longtime journalist Craig Unger opens his new book, House of Trump, House of Putin, with this anecdote. The book is an impressive attempt to gather up all the evidence we have of Trump’s numerous connections to the Russian mafia and government and lay it all out in a clear, comprehensive narrative.

The book claims to unpack an “untold story,” but it’s not entirely clear how much of it is new. One of the hardest things to accept about the Trump-Russia saga is how transparent it is. So much of the evidence is hiding in plain sight, and somehow that has made it harder to accept.

But make no mistake: Trump’s ties to shady Russian figures stretch back decades, and Unger diligently pieces them together in one place. Although Unger doesn’t provide any evidence that Trump gave the Russians anything concrete in return for their help, the case he makes for how much potential leverage the Russians had over Trump is pretty damning.

I spoke to Unger recently about what he learned, how he learned it, and why he thinks Russia’s use of Trump constitutes “one of the greatest intelligence operations in history,” as he puts it in the book.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing

I’ll ask you straightforwardly: Do you believe the Russian government successfully targeted and compromised Trump?

Craig Unger

Yes, absolutely. But let’s go back in time, because I think all of this began as a money-laundering operation with the Russian mafia. It’s well known that Trump likes doing business with gangsters, in part because they pay top dollar and loan money when traditional banks won’t, so it was a win-win for both sides.

The key point I want to get across in the book is that the Russian mafia is different than the American mafia, and I think a lot of Americans don’t understand this. In Russia, the mafia is essentially a state actor. When I interviewed Gen. Oleg Kalugin, who is a former head of counterintelligence in the KGB and had been Vladimir Putin’s boss at one point, I asked him about the mafia. He said, “Oh, it’s part of the KGB. It’s part of the Russian government.”

And that’s essential to the whole premise of the book. Trump was working with the Russian mafia for more than 30 years. He was profiting from them. They rescued him. They bailed him out. They took him from being $4 billion in debt to becoming a multibillionaire again, and they fueled his political ambitions, starting more than 30 years ago. This means Trump was in bed with the Kremlin as well, whether he knew it or not.

Sean Illing

Let’s dig into this a bit. You claimed just now, as you do in the book, that the Russian mafia has been using Trump-branded real estate to launder money for over three decades. What evidence do you have to back this up?

Craig Unger

You really have to go back 20 or 30 years to understand who the key Russians were, what role they played in the Russian mafia, and how they related to Trump.

The very first episode that’s been documented, to my knowledge, was in 1984 when David Bogatin — who is a Russian mobster, convicted gasoline bootlegger, and close ally of Semion Mogilevich, a major Russian mob boss — met with Trump in Trump Tower right after it opened. Bogatin came to that meeting prepared to spend $6 million, which is equivalent to about $15 million today.

Bogatin bought five condos from Trump at that meeting. Those condos were later seized by the government, which claimed they were used to launder money for the Russian mob.

“One thing Vladimir Putin got right was his insistence that American democracy is also corrupt, and I think he’s showing us exactly how corrupt it is”
Sean Illing

Okay, to play devil’s advocate, can we say definitively that Trump knew who he was dealing with or what he was getting into? Or did he just naively have his hands out?

Craig Unger

Look, I can’t prove what was in Trump’s head, or what he knew or when he knew it. But I document something like 1,300 transactions of this kind with Russian mobsters. By that, I mean real estate transactions that were all cash purchases made by anonymous shell companies that were quite obviously fronts for criminal money-laundering operations. And this represents a huge chunk of Trump’s real estate activity in the United States, so it’s quite hard to argue that he had no idea what was going on.

Sean Illing

How did Trump first become a “person of interest” to the Russians? Why would they target this fringe celebrity character 30 years ago, long before his ascent to the presidency was even fathomable?

Craig Unger

First of all, the Russians have always wanted to align with certain powerful businessmen, and they have a history going back to the American businessman Armand Hammer in the 1970s and ’80s, whom the Russians allegedly turned into an asset. But it’s not as though they zeroed in on Trump 30 years ago, and only Trump.

Russia had hundreds of agents and assets in the US, and Gen. Kalugin, the former head of KGB operations in Russia, told me that America was a paradise for Russian spies and that they had recruited roughly 300 assets and agents in the United States, and Trump was one of them.

But it’s not just the money laundering. There was a parallel effort to seduce Trump. Sometime in 1986, Russia’s ambassador to the US, Yuri Dubinin, visited Trump in Trump Tower and told him that his building was “fabulous” and that he should build one in Moscow, and they arranged for a trip to Moscow.

According to Gen. Kalugin, that was likely the first step in the process to recruit and compromise Trump. Kalugin told me he would not be surprised in the least if the Russians have compromising materials on Trump’s activities in Moscow, something they were quite good at acquiring.

Sean Illing

But we still don’t have any evidence that such compromising material exists, right? Did you talk to anyone who has seen it or is sure of its existence?

Craig Unger

No, and I won’t say that I’m 100 percent certain that it exists. I spoke to several people who assured me that it exists, but I could not corroborate those accounts. I have no idea if they’re right or if any tapes will ever emerge. But in a way, all of that is beside the point. The real evidence of compromise is already out there, and we’re talking about it now.

Sean Illing

Speaking of which, tell me about Bayrock Group, a real estate company that operated in Trump Tower.

Craig Unger

Bayrock was a real estate development company located on the 24th floor of Trump Tower. The founder was a guy named Tevfik Arif and the managing director was Felix Sater, a man with numerous ties to Russian oligarchs and Russian intelligence. Bayrock proceeded to partner with Trump in 2005 and helped him develop a new business model, which he desperately needed.

Recall that Trump was $4 billion in debt after his Atlantic City casinos went bankrupt. He couldn’t get a bank loan from anywhere in the West, and Bayrock comes in and Trump partners with other people as well, but Bayrock essentially has a new model that says, “You don’t have to raise any money. You don’t have to do any of the real estate development. We just want to franchise your name, we’ll give you 18 to 25 percent royalties, and we’ll effectively do all the work. And if the Trump Organization gets involved in the management of these buildings, they’ll get extra fees for that.”

It was a fabulously lucrative deal for Trump, and the Bayrock associates — Sater in particular — were operating out of Trump Tower and constantly flying back and forth to Russia. And in the book, I detail several channels through which various people at Bayrock have close ties to the Kremlin, and I talk about Sater flying back and forth to Moscow even as late as 2016, hoping to build the Trump Tower there.

Sean Illing

I don’t think you say this explicitly in the book, so I’ll ask you now: Is there any evidence at all that Trump actively sought out Russian money by making clear that his businesses could be used to hide ill-gotten gains?

Craig Unger

That’s a difficult question. I’m not sure he made this crystal clear, and I don’t know that he had to. I mean, just look at how these transactions take place. Trump doesn’t have to say anything. Trump’s organization was desperate for money, they knew the caliber of people they were dealing with, and they were either okay with this or deliberately chose not to do their due diligence.

You might say this is something other real estate developers do as well, and maybe that’s true, but those developers don’t become president of the United States.

Sean Illing

A few minutes ago you referred to Trump as a Russian “asset,” and this circles back to the question of whether Trump was actively working with the Russians or whether he may have just been a useful idiot who didn’t know he’d been potentially compromised.

Craig Unger

In the book, I use this term “asset,” and the difference between an “asset” and an “agent” to me is whether or not the person is knowledgeable. And from my point of view, it’s impossible to prove what was in Trump’s mind. I can’t prove that he was actually knowledgeable. At the same time, if he did this kind of money laundering 1,300 times, it’s reasonable to surmise that he was aware of what was happening.

Sean Illing

Part of what’s so puzzling to me is trying to figure out how money and ideology intersect in all this, if they intersect at all. In other words, Trump seems much more motivated by money than political ideology, but I keep wondering if his drift into politics was in any way influenced by his financial entanglements.

Craig Unger

It’s an important question, and it’s not clear what the answer is. One weird anecdote that jumped out to me was this story about Ivana Trump, whom Donald married in 1977. It turns out the Czech secret police were following her and her family, and there’s a fascinating file I quote in the book that says they started tracking her in the late 1980s, and one of the Czech secret police files says that Trump was being pressured to run for president.

But what does that mean? Who was pressuring him? How were they applying the pressure, and why? And did it have anything to do with potentially compromising materials the Russians had on Trump from his 1987 trip to Russia?

What we do know is that Trump returns from that first trip to Moscow and he takes out full-page ads in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Boston Globe — and it’s fascinating because the ads essentially pushed the same foreign policies that he’s pushing today. They were anti-European, anti-NATO — basically they were aligned with the Soviet plan to destroy the Western alliance. And Trump takes out full-page ads in major American newspapers affirming this view. Maybe that’s just what he always believed. In any case, it’s worth noting.

“Trump was working with the Russian mafia for more than 30 years. He was profiting from them. They rescued him. They bailed him out.”
Sean Illing

I’m curious about how you collected all of this evidence. Did you go to Russia? Did you interview most — or any — of the people directly involved in these transactions? Did you compile this information yourself or rely on other sources?

Craig Unger

It’s stunning what you can find out through public sources. I did not go to Russia. I had a source who tipped me off to the name Semion Mogilevich, one of the highest-ranking bosses in the Russian mob, whom I had never heard of before, and that led me to a database online that revealed ownership of homes in the state of New York — purchases and sales.

And so I went to Trump properties, and every time I found a Russian name, I would research it, and it was stunning. I’d often take their name, put in Mogilevich in Google, and it was like hitting the jackpot on a slot machine, time after time after time.

There were countless people who were indicted for money laundering, or they were gunned down on Sixth Avenue, and there was just a huge percentage who seemed to have criminal histories, and that sort of got me started. I also had a wonderful research assistant who speaks Russian and she grew up in Brooklyn, and she was a terrific asset and helped break the language barrier for me.

Sean Illing

The subtitle of your book is “The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia,” but it’s not clear to me which part of the story is new. What did you uncover here that wasn’t previously known?

Craig Unger

The insights I gained from Gen. Kalugin are completely new, but honestly, a lot of what I did was simply compile all this disparate stuff that was out there but had never been pieced together neatly in one place.

For example, a lot of the Russian-connected stories were published in the crime pages of the New York Post or the New York Daily News, but they were always just straight-ahead crime stories you could see in a tabloid. There was no sense that this had any geopolitical implications or forces behind it.

So part of what I tried to do was assemble all of this in a coherent narrative that laid it all out in a comprehensive way. We have all these seemingly random crime episodes that appeared in tabloids again and again, but it turns out that much of it was connected to a much larger operation, one that ended up ensnaring Trump and the people around him.

Sean Illing

Trump is obviously the focus here, but as you mentioned earlier, he’s not the only asset targeted by the Russians. What do we know about Russian efforts to compromise other prominent American figures?

Craig Unger

One of the things I hope this book shows is that there’s a new kind of war going on. It’s a global war without bombs or bullets or boots on the ground, and the weapons are information and data and social media and financial institutions. The Russian mafia is one weapon in this global conflict, and they’ve been fighting it smartly since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Russians start businesses and front companies and commodities firms that appear legitimate but essentially work to advance the interests of the Russian state. They’re very good at getting people entangled financially and then using that as leverage to get what they want. This appears to be what they’ve done with Trump, and now he’s president of the United States.

Sean Illing

Maybe the most troubling part of all this is that the Russians simply exploited our own corrupt system. They studied America’s pay-for-play culture, found its weak spots, and very carefully manipulated it. As long as our system remains unchanged, we should expect this kind of exploitation.

Craig Unger

Absolutely. There’s an old saying that sometimes the worst part of the scandal is what’s legal, and the Russians, to their credit, studied our system and campaign finance laws and they exploited it masterfully. They’ve used pharmaceutical companies and energy companies and financial institutions to pour money into our politics, and we really have no idea the extent of their influence.

One thing Vladimir Putin got right was his insistence that American democracy is also corrupt, and I think he’s showing us exactly how corrupt it is. Trump is just the most glaring example, but surely there are others, most of which we know nothing about.

Sean Illing

The case you lay out is pretty damning, but I’m left wondering if any of it really matters. As you said, most of this stuff is hiding in plain sight, and although the special counsel investigation is underway, there’s a subset of the country for whom no amount of evidence is enough to persuade them that something wrong has occurred, and Congress has demonstrated its uselessness pretty clearly. So how do you see all this playing out?

Craig Unger

It’s hard to say. I think we’re on a collision course that will either end in impeachment or with Trump reverting to unconstitutional measures to stay in office. That is simply my opinion. However this plays out, it’s clear that we’re in uncharted territory here, and it’s hard to see how this ends well for anyone.
https://www.vox.com/world/2018/9/12/177 ... raig-unger



A Series Of Suspicious Money Transfers Followed The Trump Tower Meeting
Investigators are focused on two bursts of banking activity — one shortly after the June 2016 meeting, the other immediately after the presidential election.

Anthony Cormier
BuzzFeed News Reporter

Jason Leopold
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on September 12, 2018, at 9:51 a.m. ET

The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower has become one of the most famous gatherings in American political history: a flashpoint for allegations of collusion, the subject of shifting explanations by the president and his son, countless hair-on-fire tweets, and boundless speculation by the press.

But secret documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal a previously undisclosed aspect of the meeting: a complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants who moved money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok, and a small office park in New Jersey.

The documents show Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at the center of this vast network and how he used accounts overseas to filter money to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the Trump Tower meeting. The records also offer new insight into the murky financial world inhabited by many of Trump’s associates, who use shell companies and secret bank accounts to quickly and quietly move money across the globe.


Now, four federal law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News, investigators are focused on two bursts of transactions that bank examiners deemed suspicious: one a short time after the meeting and another immediately after the November 2016 presidential election.

The first set came just 11 days after the June 9 meeting, when an offshore company controlled by Agalarov wired more than $19.5 million to his account at a bank in New York.

The second flurry began shortly after Trump was elected. The Agalarov family started sending what would amount to $1.2 million from their bank in Russia to an account in New Jersey controlled by the billionaire’s son, pop singer Emin Agalarov, and two of his friends. The account had been virtually dormant since the summer of 2015, according to records reviewed by BuzzFeed News, and bankers found it strange that activity in Emin Agalarov’s checking account surged after Trump’s victory.

After the election, that New Jersey account sent money to a company controlled by Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, a longtime business associate of the Agalarovs and their representative at the Trump Tower meeting. Kaveladze’s company, meanwhile, had long funded a music business set up by the person who first proposed the meeting to the Trump camp, Emin Agalarov’s brash British publicist, Rob Goldstone.

Ike Kaveladze (left) spoke to congressional investigators in November 2017.
Mark Wilson / Getty Images
Ike Kaveladze (left) spoke to congressional investigators in November 2017.
Scott Balber, an attorney representing the Agalarovs and Kaveladze, said their transactions were wholly above board. “I’m actually perplexed why anybody is interested in this or why anybody in their right mind would treat this as suspicious,” he said. “These are all transactions either between one of Mr. Agalarov’s accounts and another of Mr. Agalarov’s accounts or one of Mr. Agalarov’s accounts and an account in the name of one of his employees.”

Goldstone’s spokesperson, David Wilson, dismissed the notion that his client’s transactions were suspicious as “ridiculous.” Prosecutors have not charged the Agalarovs, Kaveladze, or Goldstone with any wrongdoing.

The transactions came to light after law enforcement officials instructed financial institutions in mid-2017 to go back through their records to look for suspicious behavior by people connected to the broader Trump-Russia investigation. The bankers filed “suspicious activity reports” to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which in turn shared them with the FBI, the IRS, congressional committees investigating Russian interference, and members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Suspicious activity reports are not evidence of wrongdoing, but they can provide clues to investigators looking into possible money laundering, tax evasion, or other misconduct. In the case of the Agalarovs and their associates, bankers raised red flags about the transactions but were unable to definitively say how the funds were used.

Federal prosecutors have used suspicious activity reports not only to investigate possible election interference and collusion, but also to charge people, such as Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, with financial and other white-collar crimes. Manafort was convicted last month of bank and tax fraud, and Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia.

Over the past nine months, BuzzFeed News has reported on the financial behavior of Manafort, former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, accused foreign agent Maria Butina, GOP operative Peter W. Smith, and others.

In the case of the Agalarovs and their associates, the documents show funds moving quickly between accounts across the globe, often, bankers said, with no clear reason and with no clear purpose for how the money was supposed to be used. By collecting such detailed banking records, US law enforcement officials are trying to figure out how Russia’s interference campaign was financed — but in doing so, they are also pulling back the curtain on an opaque financial system controlled by the world’s wealthiest people.

From left: Donald Trump, Aras Agalarov, Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, and Emin Agalarov
Ethan Miller / Getty Images
From left: Donald Trump, Aras Agalarov, Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, and Emin Agalarov
A Swiss account and an offshore company

When Donald Trump hosted the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, Aras Agalarov was his host. The two men toured the capital and hatched plans to build the tallest building in Russia together, a gleaming new Trump Tower in Moscow. The Agalarovs spent about $20 million to host the pageant at Crocus City Hall, their glitzy mega-mall, and Emin Agalarov, a part-time pop singer, scored a coup when Trump agreed to film a cameo for one of his music videos.

Given these close ties, it wasn’t difficult for Goldstone, Emin’s publicist, to line up a meeting in the midst of the presidential campaign. On June 3, 2016, Goldstone sent Donald Trump Jr. an email asking to get together. Goldstone was explicit: A top Russian prosecutor had given Aras Agalarov damning information about Hillary Clinton — “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” he wrote.

Agalarov is one of the Kremlin’s favored developers, having tackled complicated and costly projects, such as a superhighway ringing the capital and two soccer stadiums built for the 2018 World Cup. In 2013, Putin awarded Aras Agalarov the Order of Honor, one of Russia’s highest civilian awards.

After Trump Jr. spoke by phone with Emin Agalarov, the meeting was set. At about 4 p.m. on June 9, Goldstone, Kaveladze, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, and at least two others arrived at Trump Tower. In a conference room on the 25th floor with sweeping views of Midtown Manhattan, they met with Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Manafort, then an adviser to the campaign.

By most accounts, the 40-minute meeting, during which Manafort checked his phone and Kushner emailed his assistant, didn’t result in usable information on Trump’s rival. In fact, the Kremlin-connected attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, pivoted off Clinton and spoke at length about overturning US laws meant to stop Russian financial misconduct.

“Look,” Trump Jr. reportedly told the group, “we’re not in power. When we win, come back and see us again.”

Eleven days later — on June 20, the day Trump fired campaign chief Corey Lewandowski and put Manafort in charge — Aras Agalarov used a company called Silver Valley Consulting to move millions that bankers flagged as suspicious.


BuzzFeed News; Getty Images
Silver Valley’s only address is a post office box in the capital of the British Virgin Islands, a country seen as a haven for money laundering and tax evasion. On June 20, Silver Valley sent through its Zurich-based account at Societe Generale Suisse a wire transfer for a little more than $19.5 million to Agalarov’s account at Morgan Stanley in the US.

That same day, another entity controlled by Agalarov — ZAO Crocus International, an arm of his business empire — sent a wire transfer through Societe Generale Suisse for about $43,000 to the same Morgan Stanley account.

In mid-2017, after US banks and law enforcement officials had already begun scrutinizing the financial records of dozens of individuals connected to the Trump-Russia probe, bankers at Societe Generale in New York tried to learn more about the Silver Valley transactions — but got nowhere.

Swiss employees of the bank told their American colleagues that the account was closed in May 2017, but that “due to Swiss confidentiality laws the requested information cannot be provided.” Switzerland is known to have some of the strictest bank secrecy laws in the world; it is a crime for bankers to release the identity of account holders.

Between 2006 and 2016, Silver Valley made nearly 200 transactions for $190 million. Bankers believed that most were legitimate and were part of Agalarov’s global construction business. But some of the transactions raised red flags.

Bank officials said they found high, round-dollar amounts sent to or received from shell companies. Round-dollar wire transfers often trigger alarm bells because most transactions are not that clean. Bankers also noted that some of the transactions passed through multiple companies, a process that can indicate “layering,” a way to hide the original source of funds.

US bank examiners also found that Silver Valley received nearly $900,000 in 2012 from a Russian investigated in the past for tax evasion and embezzlement. Balber, the Agalarovs’ attorney, said that the company wasn't immediately able to find a record of a transaction with that individual.

The following year, Silver Valley received two payments from an aviation firm that were flagged by bankers because they learned that a shareholder was involved with a suspected Russian money laundering scheme. Balber said the payments were for a land purchase and that it was “crazy” that bank examiners would label a transaction as suspicious because of a shareholder’s involvement.

“I have spoken to all kinds of investigators in all kinds of agencies about” the Trump Tower meeting, said Balber. “And I have never heard anybody ask me a single question or say a single word about one of these transactions.”

A dormant account comes alive

As the brutal presidential campaign hurtled toward Election Day, it was clear that even Trump’s own camp didn’t think he would win. Top advisers planned their postelection careers. The candidate reportedly didn’t have a victory speech written. Even pro-Kremlin forces were ready for a loss — they prepped a #DemocracyRIP Twitter campaign to cast doubt on Clinton’s legitimacy.

After Trump won, as people scrambled for jobs, influence, and riches, a chain reaction of bank transfers started among the Agalarovs and their associates.

Beginning 13 days after the election, the Agalarovs’ bank account in Russia made 19 separate wire transfers to a New Jersey personal checking account belonging to Emin Agalarov and two friends from high school. That checking account, held at TD Bank, had been opened in 2012. Bank examiners thought it was unusual that the account had never before received a Russian wire transfer and that its only deposit since the summer of 2015 was for $200, in January 2016.


BuzzFeed News; Getty Images
The postelection transfers to the checking account were in large, round-dollar amounts ranging from $15,000 to $175,000. Between November 2016 and July 2017, the sum topped $1.2 million.

But what triggered alarms wasn’t just that activity in the account had jumped since Trump’s election. It was also how the checking account handled the money. While some of it went toward credit card bills, mortgage installments, and other run-of-the-mill payments, TD Bank officials also saw the checking account quickly pass funds to an account controlled by another participant in the Trump Tower meeting.

On Nov. 21, 2016, Emin Agalarov’s checking account received $165,000 from an account based in Russia belonging to his family. The following day, the account sent $107,000 to Corsy International, a company run by Kaveladze, the longtime Agalarov associate who attended the Trump Tower meeting.

Bankers were suspicious for a number of reasons. For one, Kaveladze was an employee of the Agalarovs’ Crocus Group, their sprawling construction and real estate empire based in Russia. Why, bankers wondered, would the funds start in Russia, briefly make a pit stop in Emin Agalarov’s New Jersey account, and finally be sent to Corsy International? Balber, the attorney for Kaveladze and the Agalarovs, would not address questions about specific transactions, but said they were all legitimate.

Second, bankers noted that Kaveladze — who after the election pushed for an additional get-together with the Trumps and some of the original Tower meeting participants — had previously been investigated for money laundering. According to a Government Accountability Office report published in 2000, Kaveladze established more than 2,000 corporations in Delaware for Russian real estate brokers, then set up bank accounts for them in the US. The brokers used these accounts to launder about $1.4 billion, the report found. Kaveladze was never charged with a crime and he referred to the GAO’s probe as a “witch hunt.”

Finally, bankers focused on the New Jersey address of Corsy International: a small, windowless office in an unremarkable building near the Hudson River. It was suspicious, officials reported, that such large sums flowed through such a nondescript location. When examiners began investigating this address, they discovered at least eight other companies located there, all of them controlled by Kaveladze, Emin Agalarov, or their associates.

The headquarters for these companies is Suite 309. There is no sign on the door. When a reporter visited last month, a man refused to open the door and said he was unable to talk or even accept a business card.

Left: The lobby of the office building housing Corsy International. Right: Suite 309, where eight companies connected to Kaveladze, Emin Agalarov, or their associates are based.
Anthony Cormier / BuzzFeed News
Left: The lobby of the office building housing Corsy International. Right: Suite 309, where eight companies connected to Kaveladze, Emin Agalarov, or their associates are based.
Cashing out in Bangkok

In the earliest days of Trump’s presidency, the Agalarovs and their associates managed to remain out of the spotlight. Even as money changed hands behind the scenes, it took about seven months for their roles to become public.

But in July 2017, after the New York Times broke the news of the Trump Tower meeting, there was another flurry of financial activity. This time, it centered around the man who first reached out to the Trump campaign — Rob Goldstone, Emin Agalarov’s publicist.

Goldstone, a former journalist who found his niche in the music world, had helped guide Agalarov’s pop career and was on hand when Trump visited Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant. He was the main point of contact for the Trump Tower meeting, though he complained afterward to the Agalarovs that the get-together was one of the most “embarrassing” things they had asked him to do.

Rob Goldstone testified before congressional investigators in December 2017.
Alex Wong / Getty Images
Rob Goldstone testified before congressional investigators in December 2017.
During his congressional testimony, Goldstone said that Emin Agalarov was his only client. But he said he didn’t know the “chain of command” of who paid him.

The documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News show that most of the funds flowing into Goldstone’s music business, Oui 2 Entertainment, and his personal checking account came from Corsy International, Kaveladze’s company. Between July 2015 and January 2017, Oui 2 received more than half a million dollars from Corsy International. Bank examiners found this suspicious because Corsy was an import-export business, while Oui 2 was involved with music. It didn’t make sense, bankers reported, for these two companies to conduct transactions with one another.

Bankers were also concerned that Goldstone set up the meeting and received money through Kaveladze, who had previously been investigated for money laundering involving Russians.

While they couldn’t explain these transfers, bankers flagged additional suspicious behavior in Goldstone’s account shortly after the Trump Tower meeting came to light.

By July 24, 2017, about two weeks after the New York Times broke the story about the meeting, Goldstone had left for Bangkok. He told congressional investigators that he wanted to take time off, equating it to a college student’s “gap year,” so he could write a book. But bank officials questioned his financial behavior there, particularly a series of 37 ATM withdrawals totaling about $8,400. The last of those withdrawals was made in November 2017. His business partner, David Tominello, appears to have traveled to Bangkok as well, making 51 withdrawals during the same period for about $7,600. Bankers noted that the withdrawals came shortly after news broke about Goldstone’s role in the Trump Tower meeting.

On Aug. 31, 2017, while they were still overseas, Goldstone and Tominello tapped into a home equity line of credit to withdraw money. The two received the loan on an apartment in New Jersey and used the funds to transfer about $32,000 to Oui 2. Examiners said the two men were essentially using a loan to make “payroll,” which bankers thought was unusual, especially when they had such a lucrative source of income through Kaveladze’s company. They also found it “concerning” that the home equity line of credit funded ATM cash withdrawals in Bangkok.

After calling it ridiculous that any of the financial behavior would be flagged as suspicious, Goldstone’s public relations representative referred further questions to his attorney, who did not return detailed messages. Tominello also did not return detailed messages seeking comment.
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/an ... s-agalarov
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:58 pm

:partydance: :partydance: :partydance:


Manafort picked Pence for VP :)

Manafort is COOPERATING

trump tower meeting attendees Jared... Don Jr..... Paul and the Russians

Tentative deal reached between Manafort and special counsel: Sources



Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has tentatively agreed to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that will head off his upcoming trial, sources familiar with the negotiations tell ABC News.

The deal is expected to be announced in court Friday, but it remains unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors or is simply conceding to a guilty plea, which would allow him to avoid the stress and expense of trial, according to three sources with knowledge of the discussions.


Manafort and his most senior defense attorneys spent more than four hours Thursday in discussions with a team of special prosecutors who are involved in the ongoing investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

ABC News spotted the team arriving in a dark SUV Thursday morning, pulling into a secret entrance out of public view at the building where Special Counsel Robert Mueller is based.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 13, 2012.
Word of the agreement comes as Manafort's second trial was slated to begin later this month in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Just under a year ago, the 69-year-old veteran GOP operative was charged in Washington, D.C., with several counts of fraud and failing to register as a foreign agent by the special counsel. A second case was opened in Virginia earlier this year on related charges that ended with a jury finding Manafort guilty on eight counts out of an 18-count indictment, facing a maximum of 80 years behind the bars, though under sentencing guidelines the term is likely to be closer to seven years. He has not been sentenced in that case.


Manafort has been held in jail for the last several months after prosecutors accused him of witness tampering.

He joined the president's campaign in March 2016 and became campaign chairman in May, and left the campaign in August days after the New York Times and the Associated Press ran reports that he had been tied to alleged undisclosed foreign lobbying practices in Ukraine.
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/tentati ... d=57809113


Paul Manafort
Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:12 pm
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40370&hilit=paul+manafort




Wendy Siegelman

Two Republican congressmen hobnob with an alleged Holocaust denier. Again - Reps. Matt Gaetz & Dana Rohrabacher just can’t quit Charles C. Johnson - all attended a July 20 fundraiser for Matt Gaetz on a yacht in Newport Beach, CA, by @DavidCornDC


Two Republican Congressmen Hobnob With an Alleged Holocaust Denier. Again.

Reps. Matt Gaetz and Dana Rohrabacher just can’t quit Charles C. Johnson.

David CornSep. 13, 2018 10:52 AM


A Republican congressman who earlier this year got into trouble for hobnobbing with an accused Holocaust denier held a small fundraiser this summer, and the attendees included, yes, the very same alleged Holocaust denier. Also at the event was another GOP congressman who, too, had previously been criticized for associating with this fellow.

In January, Rep. Matt Gaetz, a conservative Republican firebrand from Florida, invited right-wing troll Charles C. Johnson to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. Johnson, a notorious social media figure accused of being a white nationalist, had been permanently banned from Twitter for declaring that he wanted to “take out” a leader of Black Lives Matter. And in early 2017, Johnson had come under fire for denying the Holocaust. During an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit’s alt-right section, Johnson had been queried, “what are your thoughts on the Holocaust, WW2, and the JQ in general?” (“JQ” is neo-Nazi shorthand for the Jewish Question.) Johnson replied, “I do not and never have believed the six million figure. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic. I think the Allied bombing of Germany was a ware [sic] crime. I agree…about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real.”


Eight months later, these remarks caused a political stir. In October 2017, news reports revealed that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) had welcomed Johnson to a Capitol Hill meeting with Sen. Rand Paul. In response, the Anti-Defamation League urged Rohrabacher to “discontinue any association with Johnson and repudiate his views.” The ADL, citing Johnson’s “Ask Me Anything” statements, noted that it considered him a Holocaust denier. (In August 2017, Johnson had helped arrange a meeting between Rohrabacher and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and weeks later he donated $5,400 in Bitcoin to Rohrabacher’s reelection campaign.)

Rohrabacher did not heed the ADL’s call to disassociate himself from Johnson. In a letter to the ADL, he said Johnson had been “allowed to sit in [on the Paul-Rohrabacher meeting], only in the sense that no one said no and told him to go.” Rohrabacher noted that he “strongly” disagreed with Johnson on some issues—including “those same beliefs you mention in your letter”—and that he hoped to have a “positive influence” on Johnson.

Gaetz’s decision to provide Johnson a ticket to the State of the Union rekindled the controversy over Johnson’s Holocaust remarks and earned Gaetz plenty of unflattering headlines. The ADL now excoriated the Florida congressman, noting, “It is an insult to the memories of those killed in the Holocaust, to their families, and to the Jewish community to bring to the State of the Union as your guest a Holocaust denier whose business has reportedly profited from donations for a notorious neo-Nazi.” (The group was referring to a crowd-funding website Johnson had founded that had been used to raise more than $150,000 for the legal defense fund of the editor of a neo-Nazi website.)

Gaetz insisted Johnson was not a Holocaust denier. But the Republican Jewish Coalition called on Gaetz to acknowledge that this label did fit Johnson. Gaetz, who claimed he had been unfamiliar with Johnson prior to meeting him the day of the State of the Union, did not yield on that, but he conceded, “I should’ve vetted him better before inviting him to the State of the Union. I regret that I didn’t.”

Meanwhile, Johnson declared, “I am not, nor have I ever been a Holocaust denier.” In an online statement, he insisted, “Even when I was poor, I supported charities dedicated to Israel, Jewish faith and Holocaust education.” Johnson, though, acknowledged his comments “could fairly be characterized as Holocaust denial.” But he maintained that he had made these “anti-Semitic” remarks only as part of an ongoing project to determine what speech would be limited or smothered by the tech companies that manage popular social media platforms. He was asserting that his Reddit comments were part of a secret trolling experiment he was running.

Eventually, the controversy over Johnson attending the State of the Union passed. But two months ago, Gaetz and Johnson were together again—this time on a yacht in Newport Beach, California. The occasion was a July 20 fundraiser for Gaetz’s reelection campaign. According to people familiar with the event, Johnson was among the group on the boat. And Rohrabacher was there, too. The event was being held in Rohrabacher’s district, and Rohrabacher spoke on behalf of Gaetz.

Referring to Johnson’s presence at the event, Jason Pitkin, Rohrabacher’s campaign finance director, who attended the fundraiser, tells Mother Jones, “I don’t remember who invited him there.” Asked whether Johnson had come at the invitation of Gaetz, Kip Talley, the chief of staff for Gaetz’s reelection campaign, replied in an email, “It was a private event and you’re welcome to check the FEC reports to see who donated. Thanks for reaching out.”

Johnson declined multiple requests for comment.

In a June 21 Facebook post, Johnson referred to Rohrabacher as “my friend and adopted congressman.” Six days later, he suggested on his Facebook page that his connections on Capitol Hill were significant: “I met with about fifteen members of Congress today and I will meet with a Cabinet member later to talk about tech censorship issues.” He did not identify the members or the Cabinet official. (This week, Johnson apparently deleted his Facebook account.)


The July 20 fundraiser for Gaetz, according to an invitation obtained by Mother Jones, was hosted by Alfred Balitzer and Rod Wilson, founders of Pacific Research & Strategies Inc., a California-based public relations and consulting firm. The yacht, named Burning Daylight, was owned by Balitzer, who had been on the faculty at Claremont McKenna College, Johnson’s alma mater, for 34 years and who has a long record of involvement in Republican politics. In his online defense of his Holocaust comments, Johnson had called Balitzer his “mentor” and noted that Balitzer had been “an advisor to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and served Ronald Reagan.”

Balitzer and Wilson did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the Gaetz fundraiser.

According to campaign finance records, Gaetz’s reelection account raised $2,750 from donors in the Newport Beach area about the time of the fundraiser. Nick Kovacevich, the CEO of Kush Bottles, which sells packaging, containers, and other products for the cannabis industry, was one of the attendees, and he gave $500 to Gaetz. He says he “wrote a check for Matt but Dana Rohrabacher was also there and that’s the reason I was invited.” (Rohrabacher is a supporter of cannabis legalization, and Gaetz has backed various marijuana reform initiatives.) One person familiar with the event said that Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR and an alt-right ally, was on the yacht. Luckey has been a donor for numerous Republican candidates, including Rohrabacher. (Luckey’s company did not respond to a request for comment.)

A spokesman for the ADL says, “Charles C. Johnson is a known Holocaust denier, who has suggested the number of Jewish victims was inflated and has posited that neither the Auschwitz concentration camp nor the gas chambers ever existed. ADL is extremely troubled by reports that Rep. Matt Gaetz allegedly hosted Johnson at a recent fundraiser. ADL previously called on Gaetz to discontinue his associations with Johnson and to publicly repudiate his views after it was revealed Johnson was Gaetz’ guest at President Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address. We renew those calls in light of this new report, as it is completely inappropriate for a sitting U.S. member of Congress to continue to knowingly associate with an anti-Semite and bigot like Charles Johnson.”

Gaetz was elected to the House in 2016 and has since been involved in multiple controversies; most notably he has defended Trump in the Russia investigation and claimed the president is a victim of a Deep State conspiracy. It was hardly unexpected that Rohrabacher, who has been dubbed “Putin’s favorite congressman” and who has pooh-poohed the Trump-Russia scandal, would help Gaetz shake the money tree in his own district. But Johnson’s attendance has surprised some Republicans who have been told about it. Gaetz and Rohrabacher just can’t seem to quit this guy.

Image credits: Paul Zinken/DPA/ZUMA; Tom Williams/CQ/ZUMA; YouTube
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... hrabacher/



An ADL spokesman said "Charles C. Johnson is a known Holocaust denier, who has suggested the number of Jewish victims was inflated and has posited that neither the Auschwitz concentration camp nor the gas chambers ever existed"
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... hrabacher/
Image

Charles/Chuck Johnson was involved with helping the late Peter Smith in his search for HRC's missing emails


Smith met Charles Johnson (ex-Breitbart writer) in 2013 and Pax Dickinson - co-founders of alt-right fundraising platform WeSearchr


Image

Johnson suggested Smith contact convicted hacker Andrew Auernheimer (aka "Weev")

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Royal O’Brien, a Jacksonville-based programmer & dark web expert, advised Smith about the use of PGP keys for encryption

Image

https://twitter.com/WendySiegelman/stat ... 0434053121



Internet Troll Chuck Johnson
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=41140


Is Russian Money Behind Graham's Growing Defense of Trump?
NEWS | SEP 11, 2018

The Intellectualist, a left-leaning news aggregator, points out that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has received at least $800,000 in campaign donations from a man with ties to Putin-allied oligarchs, which could explain why the Senator has been increasingly supportive of President Trump lately.

Ruth May, in a piece for the Dallas Morning News, details the donations from Len Blavatnik, "one of the largest donors to GOP political action committees in the 2015-16 election cycle."

Data from the Federal Election Commission show that Blavatnik's campaign contributions dating back to 2009-10 were fairly balanced across party lines and relatively modest for a billionaire. During that season he contributed $53,400. His contributions increased to $135,552 in 2011-12 and to $273,600 in 2013-14, still bipartisan.

In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik's political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.

In 2017, donations continued, with $41,000 going to both Republican and Democrat candidates, along with $1 million to McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund.
An infographic accompanying May's article notes the following:

Blavatnik contributed $800,000 to the Security is Strength PAC, associated with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., via Access Industries.
Blavatnik and oligarch Viktor Vekselberg met attending university in Russia years ago, and together they now own a 20.5% stake in Rusal, oligarch Oleg Deripaska's aluminum company.

Further, nearly 4 percent of Deripaska's stake in Rusal is owned by Putin's state-controlled bank, VTB, which is currently under U.S. sanctions. VTB was exposed in the Panama Papers in 2016 for facilitating the flow of billions of dollars to offshore companies linked to Putin.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press reported that Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, began collecting $10 million a year in 2006 from Deripaska to advance Putin's interests with Western governments. Deripaska's name turned up again in an email handed over to Mueller's team by Manafort's attorneys ...

(...)

Vekselberg has connections to at least two Americans who made significant GOP campaign contributions during the last cycle. They are among several Americans who also merit Mueller's scrutiny.
The first is his cousin Andrew Intrater, and the second is Alexander Shustorovich.

Intrater had no significant history of political contributions prior to the 2016 elections. But in January 2017 he contributed $250,000 to Trump's Inaugural Committee. His six-figure gift bought him special access to a dinner billed as "an intimate policy discussion with select cabinet appointees," ...

(...)

Alexander Shustorovich, chief executive of IMG Artists, attempted to give the Republican Party $250,000 in 2000 to support the George W. Bush presidential campaign, but his money was rejected because of his ties to the Russian government, according to Quartz. So why didn't the Trump team reject Shustorovich's $1 million check to Trump's Inaugural Committee?
Oil magnate Simon Kukes, who once worked for Vekselberg and Blavatnik, also is of interest.

In 2016, Kukes contributed a total of $283,000, much of it to the Trump Victory Fund. He had no significant donor history before last year's election.

(...)

There is no doubt that Kukes has close ties to the Putin government. When he left his job as CEO of TNK in June 2003, he joined the board of Yukos Oil, which at the time was the largest oil company in Russia owned by the richest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Four months after Kukes joined the board, authorities arrested Khodorkovsky at gunpoint on his private plane in Siberia on trumped up charges of tax evasion and tapped Kukes to be CEO.

(...)

In total, Blavatnik, Intrater, Shustorovich and Kukes made $10.4 million in political contributions from the start of the 2015-16 election cycle through September 2017, and 99 percent of their contributions went to Republicans. With the exception of Shustorovich, the common denominator that connects the men is their association with Vekselberg. Experts who follow the activities of Russian oligarchs told ABC News that they believe the contributions from Blavatnik, Intrater and Kukes warrant intense scrutiny because they have worked closely with Vekselberg.
Lindsey Graham Received Campaign Donations From Firm Tied To Russian Oligarch (The Intellectualist)

Read More: How Putin's oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns (Dallas Morning News)

GOP campaigns took $7.35 million from oligarch linked to Russia (Dallas Morning News)
https://investigaterussia.org/media/201 ... ense-trump



How Trump and Manafort Are Helping Each Other in the Russia Investigation

The two have a joint-defense agreement, which allows their legal teams to share information—and could help the president’s former campaign chairman angle for a pardon.

Natasha Bertrand is a staff writer at The Atlantic where she covers national security and the intelligence community.
1:23 PM ET

Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National ConventionJ. Scott Applewhite / AP
President Donald Trump has tried to distance himself from his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, insisting that Manafort only worked for him for a very short time and that his recent convictions on tax- and bank-fraud charges have nothing to do with the campaign. But Trump’s and Manafort’s legal interests may be more aligned than either of them have let on.

According to Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, Manafort and Trump are part of a joint-defense agreement that allows them to share confidential information about the Russia investigation under the protection of attorney-client privilege. “All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” Giuliani recently told Politico. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time, where, as long as our clients authorize it, therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”

Former federal prosecutors turned defense attorneys told me that such agreements are indeed common in multi-defendant cases like Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which has embroiled dozens of White House staffers, Trump-campaign advisers, and associates of the president. Essentially, they said, these agreements allow defendants to get their stories straight—and could help Manafort if he’s looking for an eventual pardon.

More Stories



Paul Manafort is photographed smiling as he leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Court House after being charged on October 30, 2017

“These types of agreements are very common in mob and street-gang cases,” said Elie Honig, a former assistant U.S. attorney who successfully prosecuted more than 100 members and associates of La Cosa Nostra. “I’ve seen some joint-defense agreements with 20 participants … It enables and facilitates all defendants to get together and say, ‘Let’s get our ducks in a row.’ And, strategically, it enables all the different defendants and targets in a case to get together, work out what they’re going to say, and get on the same page so as not to implicate each other.”

Manafort’s legal exposure is not limited to his bank records and foreign lobbying, two matters for which charges have already been brought against him. He ran the Trump campaign for nearly five months at the height of the election, and he attended a meeting in June 2016 with Russian nationals offering dirt on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. That meeting is of particular interest to Mueller, who has been investigating a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to undermine Clinton’s candidacy. Trump’s story about the meeting has changed several times already, and WikiLeaks dumped Democratic National Committee emails that had been stolen by Russia just over one month later. Manafort also appeared to offer the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska private briefings about the campaign in exchange for debt relief, and he received emails from the Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos offering to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Manafort’s pursuit of foreign cash and shady deals laid the groundwork for the corruption of Washington.

The recently revealed agreement “is an indication by both Trump and Manafort that their interests are aligned,” explained the former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer. It may also give Manafort “another way to demonstrate his loyalty to Team Trump,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino crime boss John Gotti. It “suggests that Manafort may be signaling to the Trump team that he wants to still be thought of as one of them, and so is willing to share the evidence he gets to see as he prepares for his trials.”

Trump’s and Manafort’s lawyers can share as much or as little as they’d like under the agreement, which can be either written or unwritten, lawyers told me. Trump, whose deal with Manafort may make him more privy to evidence in the Russia investigation than was previously known, has repeatedly called for the probe to be shut down and has praised Manafort for refusing to cooperate with Mueller. (A spokesman for Manafort did not return a request for comment.)

According to the journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, Manafort is not alone in having a deal with Trump. Thirty-seven witnesses who have been called to testify so far in the Mueller inquiry are part of a joint-defense agreement with the president, which allows them to share details about what they told the special counsel. Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney and fixer, also had an agreement with Trump, but he backed out earlier this summer when he decided to cooperate with New York prosecutors.

So far, Manafort is the only American charged by Mueller who has chosen to go to trial rather than cooperate, and he’s already facing years in prison as a result of his conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month. He’s preparing for yet another trial in Washington, D.C., next week on multiple charges, including failure to register as a foreign agent, witness tampering, and money laundering.

His agreement with Trump wouldn’t prevent him from seeking a plea deal in that case, or even flipping on the president in exchange for a lighter sentence, legal experts told me—it would simply limit what he could say about Trump’s legal strategy. Manafort is still resisting pressure to help federal prosecutors, according to ABC News, and is angling for a deal that would lessen his sentence but not require him to turn on Trump. That’s not an uncommon request, Honig said, but a good prosecutor would reject it. “Federal cooperation, with very narrow exceptions, is not selective,” he said. “Generally, it’s all or nothing.”

Manafort may be looking beyond a plea deal, however, to a full pardon from Trump (or, even further down the road, to a commutation). Honig was skeptical that Trump’s lawyers would use the agreement to dangle a pardon in exchange for Manafort’s silence: Doing so could constitute obstruction of justice, and therefore be subject to the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege. “They have to be somewhat guarded, because they know Manafort, or anyone else in a joint-defense agreement, could choose to flip at any time,” Honig said.

Even so, Cotter noted, the agreement provides Manafort a valuable channel into Trumpworld, one that could help him angle for a pardon if that’s what he’s looking for. In the end, “that’s not a bad roll of the dice,” Cramer said. “As we’ve seen from Trump’s past pardons, Manafort won’t need to wait on career prosecutors or the [White House’s] pardon office to make a recommendation. It’s really just about waiting on the president’s whim.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... er/570187/


The Pied Piper

Posted on May 28, 2017 by Zev Shalev
Exclusive: The Trump-Russia scandal has been a cover-up in search of a crime… until now. This is how Trump and Russia stole the US election.


Pyotr Levashov was vacationing with his wife and son in Barcelona in early April, when Spanish police, acting on an extradition request from the US, stormed their apartment and arrested him. The arrest of the 36-year-old Russian spam king was initially reported as a civil matter. Now it is emerging as one of the most significant breaks in the US case to prove that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to swing the 2016 election campaign.

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 4.17.06 PMLevashov hails from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city. From there, he made a small fortune peddling stolen data he gathered through phishing expeditions and building a botnet called “Kelihos,” described in his US indictment as “a network of computers infected with a malicious software that allows a third party to control the entire computer network without the knowledge or consent of the computer owners.”

Levashov allegedly controlled and operated the Kelihos botnet to, among other things, harvest personal information and means of identification [including email addresses, usernames and logins, and passwords] from infected computers.

Levashov lived a life largely in the shadows, never meeting business associates in person and rarely talking on the phone. His preferred method of communication was via encrypted messages but his efforts at concealment may have failed him – well before his arrest and indictment by the United States this year.

During the 2012 Russian presidential election campaign which returned Vladimir Putin to the Presidency in that country, Levashov’s spam machine had pivoted from cybercrime to pursuing a political agenda – mostly at the behest of Vladimir Putin. According to the New York Times:

sevdownload
“The Kelihos virus, which had been devised to spread spam, was used during the Russian election in 2012 to send political messages to email accounts on computers with Russian I.P. addresses. The emails linked to fake news stories saying that Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the businessman running for president against Vladimir V. Putin, had come out as gay.”

In online cybercrime forums, Levashov is known as “Pyotr Severa” (Russian for “Peter of the North”). He is still listed among the Top 10 spammers in the world, according to spam tracking group Spamhaus. After Putin won the 2012 presidential elections in Russia, online chatter in those forums hinted Levashov had been been arrested by the FSB, Russia’s successor to the KGB, according to security and investigative journalist Brian Krebs.

At around this time, Putin and his spy agency had come up with the idea of recruiting an army of cyber criminals to open a new digital front in their espionage war against the US and other foes around the world. Their recruits had no real choice in the matter. It was either work for the FSB, or face jail time.

If the online chatter of Levashov’s arrest in 2012 was true, there was no sign of it in reality. He continued to live a lavish lifestyle, operating his cybercriminal ring online until his arrest in Spain at the request of the US Justice Department, on April 7.

While the US indictment and subsequent press reports went to great lengths to underscore “there was no national security” aspect to the arrest, a leading Spanish daily seemed to contradict that stance. El Pais trumpeted in a headline:

“Prison for Russian hacker accused of computer attacks during US elections.”

Citing FBI investigators, El Pais had confirmed sources Levashov was arrested for involvement in the hacking of DNC servers and other Kremlin operated attempts to destabilize the US Democracy.

“[Levashov participated] in a battery of computer attacks aimed at influencing the Presidential elections […] According to FBI investigators, Moscow organized an alleged hacking of Democratic Party computers, later filtering manipulated emails from Hillary Clinton and thus paving the way for Trump’s victory.”

Levashov’s wife, who was in the apartment with their son when the spam lord was arrested, told Russia Today: “I talked to my husband on the phone when I was at the police station and he told me that he was told something about a virus that he supposedly had created and that was related to Trump’s victory”.

intelmap
This figure shows a snapshot of systems infected with Kelihos communicating with the sinkhole created to disable it.
Was Levashov’s arrest in Spain for a crime far more serious than even being one of the globe’s biggest spam lords? Levashov may indeed be the lynchpin in the extensive Trump-Russia cyber operation which disrupted the 2016 election – by hacking the Democratic Party servers and the election state voter rolls in Illinois and Arizona.

The data collected in those hacks – of millions of Americans private details, and control of their computers – was then laundered through a controversial server located in the Trump Tower and controlled by the Trump campaign. It’s believed this was the nexus of a massive “data-laundering” operation created by the Trump campaign to compile a database of hacked voter registration data, DNC supporters and information provided by Spectrum Health. The server made hourly check-ins with the Kremlin-aligned Alfa Bank and US-based Spectrum Health (run by Betsy DeVos’ husband, Dick). It’s worth remembering the server was under surveillance by the FBI under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant, so its activities are well known to investigators.

Investigators are analyzing the data, stolen by Russian hackers, to determine if it was used to create a mailing and social media list for the Trump campaign to target fake news manufactured by its allies at Breitbart, Russia Today, and Infowars.

Levashov may have worked for the FSB and Trump – but he was used to a lavish lifestyle and was by no means cheap or free. His payment may now provide investigators with their first hard clue of collusion between Russia and Trump.

Knowing what we know about the FSB’s cyber intelligence recruitment effort of known criminal hackers, it should make the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin very nervous about what he may be telling the FBI. Investigators must also be turning their eye to Dick DeVos, who owns Spectrum Health and who also happens to be the husband of Betsy DeVos, who were both big donors to Trump’s campaign.

On Friday, new revelations emerged that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner was seeking to establish a private back-channel communications channel with the Russians, using Russian espionage facilities, to avoid eavesdropping by the US Intelligence Community. It’s also now an open secret former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is squealing on his ex-boss to the FBI.

The White House’s efforts to shut down the investigation, the continued revelations of far-ranging meetings between Trump and Russian officials, along with an analysis of this data is forming the framework for FBI and legislative investigations. The White House has responded with what many are terming a “war room operation” to push back against the claims. As if to underscore the urgency, the President began his Sunday of a Memorial Day weekend meeting with his lawyers.

https://narativ.org/2017/05/28/the-pied-piper/





Bob Woodward says he would release "Fear" interview tapes if needed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afITgSVLdjs
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

on trump/russia
"Colluded" is only a word confused people use
The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:15 am

Mueller's investigation just paid for itself in Manafort's $46M forfeitures........more to come

:)

CRIMES AGAINST THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND CONSPIRACY TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE

THIS IS A COOPERATION AGREEMENT


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emptwheel

Y'all, I'm pretty sure Mueller made this pardon proof in a couple of ways that are going to become obvious in the near future.



Craig Unger

In charging doc, note #Manafort's use of #Lucicle as shell company for laundering $. Lucicle was in name of #IvanFursin, a key operative for Semion #Mogilevich who is the brains behind the RU Mafia, and whose operatives worked w Trump for more than 30 yrs.
https://twitter.com/craigunger



Jennifer Rubin

NOTE: Count One conspiracy covers the time period he was on Trump campagin
https://twitter.com/JRubinBlogger/statu ... 5840089090


Tea Pain

Why would Manafort forfeit all his properties and cash if he's countin' on a pardon? Things that make you say, "hmmmm."

Looks like Manafort will plead guilty to only 2 of the 7 charges. This leaves the other 5 counts to be prosecuted at the state level, which Trump can not pardon. (And not subject to any DOJ 60-day guidelines)

Mueller's got a long game, and he's playin' it.
https://twitter.com/TeaPainUSA



Incidentally, there's a witness list here, which helps explain who's who in Paulie Manafort's world of sleazy influence peddling.
https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov ... 00.0_6.pdf


say good bye to 1046 N. Edgewood Street Pauly
Image

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auction time ....who's gonna get the ostrich coat?

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PAUL MANAFORT’S $46 MILLION PLEA DEAL

September 14, 2018/7 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Mueller’s office just released a superseding complaint as part of a plea deal with Paul Manafort. He will plead guilty to ConFraudUs tied to his FARA violations and obstruction tied to his witness tampering. The Special Counsel’s office promises “additional information … in the near future.” I guess we’ll learn then whether this involves cooperation (for all we know, Manafort is sitting in front of the grand jury right now).

While Manafort will get off without many new charges in the DC case, he’ll lose his (ostrich skin) shirt. Here’s what is listed in forfeiture.

The property subject to forfeiture by PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR., includes, but is not limited to, the following listed assets:

a. The real property and premises commonly known as 377 Union Street, Brooklyn, New York 11231 (Block 429, Lot 65), including all appurtenances, improvements, and attachments thereon, and any property traceable thereto;

b. The real property and premises commonly known as 29 Howard Street, #4D, New York, New York 10013 (Block 209, Lot 1104), including all appurtenances, improvements, and attachments thereon, and any property traceable thereto;

c. The real property and premises commonly known as 174 Jobs Lane, Water Mill, New York 11976, including all appurtenances, improvements, and attachments thereon, and any property traceable thereto;

d. All funds held in account number XXXXXX0969 at The Federal Savings Bank, and any property traceable thereto;

e. All funds seized from account number XXXXXX1388 at Capital One N.A., and any property traceable thereto; and

f. All funds seized from account number XXXXXX9952 at The Federal Savings Bank, and any property traceable thereto;

g. Northwestern Mutual Universal Life Insurance Policy 18268327, and any property traceable thereto;

h. All funds held in account number XXXX7988 at Charles A. Schwab & Co. Inc., and any property traceable thereto; and

i. The real property and premises commonly known as 1046 N. Edgewood Street, Arlington, Virginia 22201, including all appurtenances, improvements, and attachments thereon, and any property traceable thereto.


This adds both the Federal Savings Bank account listed for forfeiture in the EDVA case, and the Capital One case. And these are subject to both civil and criminal forfeiture, so Trump can’t pardon them away.

Update: On Twitter, several people note that with this forfeiture, the Mueller investigation just more than paid for itself.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/09/14/p ... plea-deal/



southpaw

This memo attached to the new criminal information says, among other things, that Sen. Dick Lugar quietly assured Manafort he would hold up a Senate resolution about Tymoshenko that Yanukovych was eager to defeat—but then Sen. Dick Durbin outmaneuvered him.
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https://twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/ ... 5239539713



Brad Heath


This morning, Mueller's office filed a superseding criminal information against ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Prosecutors typically use this type of filing when they expect the defendant to plead guilty.

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It's totally normal for prosecutors to file a criminal information when someone is going to plead. But this filing is very unusual. It's a "speaking" information - 37 pages long with multiple exhibits. That's not something you see often.

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I've never, ever seen a felony information that includes exhibits. This one has almost 40 pages of them.

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Manafort is now scheduled for an arraignment and plea agreement hearing this morning before Judge Jackson. Expect him to plead guilty to the two counts in the felony information that was filed today.

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Here's the superseding information. It repeats a lot of the factual allegations in the earlier indictments, and wraps a lot of them into two conspiracy counts.
https://twitter.com/bradheath/status/10 ... 0885905408


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Karen Holmes

Found this little nugget in one of the exhibits to the charging documents regarding @RepRohrabacher
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All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:01 pm

empty wheel
Remember, too, that in the wake of the Gates plea, Mueller got warrants for the phones of probably around 10 Trump aides.

Manafort will probably get him to more




CHECKMATE: THE MANAFORT COOPERATION IS PARDON PROOF

September 14, 2018/74 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel

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I was virtually certain that the plea deal Manafort is pleading to today would include cooperation — and I was correct. Andrew Weissmann told Amy Berman Jackson that the deal does require Manafort cooperation.

I was certain not just because of the tease in the Special Counsel announcement, above, that additional information would be forthcoming.

But the fact that no media outlet was able to confirm whether or not the plea would include cooperation could only be possible if Mueller had made silence about that fact part of the deal. Otherwise, Manafort’s lawyers would have confirmed that it included no cooperation to placate the President. As it was, no one outside of the deal knew that the plea did include cooperation until Manafort was already pleading guilty.

And at this point, the deal is pardon proof. That was part of keeping the detail secret: to prevent a last minute pardon from Trump undercutting it.

Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning.
The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon.
Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.
Remember, back in January, Trump told friends and aides that Manafort could incriminate him (the implication was that only Manafort could). I believe Mueller needed Manafort to describe what happened in a June 7, 2016 meeting between the men, in advance of the June 9 meeting. I have long suspected there was another meeting at which Manafort may be the only other Trump aide attendee.

And Manafort has probably already provided evidence on whatever Mueller needed.

So here’s what Robert Mueller just did: He sewed up the key witness to implicate the President, and he paid for the entire investigation. And it’s only now lunch time.

As I disclosed July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post.

https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/09/14/t ... don-proof/




CNN reporting Special Counsel says Manafort has already begun giving information to Justice Department



John Dean


Manafort has flipped! BOOM (the sound of broomsticks breaking the sound barrier crashing to earth - NO witches). The entire Trump family now in jeopardy. No pardon for Paul from Trump. No nice things to say about Mansfort by Rudy. Nightmares at the White House will be unending.
All of this misogyny is making me nostalgic for treason
#WhyIDidntReport
‘empowerment through empathy’ #metoo.”

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The word and crime is conspiracy
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby BenDhyan » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:53 pm

According to Politico, seems Mueller has found nothing on Trump through Manafort...

The Manafort plea deal: Your questions answered

Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, has struck a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

The agreement comes just days before Manafort is set to face foreign lobbying and money laundering charges in a Washington, D.C., courtroom. The pact has surprised some, given President Donald Trump’s effusive praise of Manafort’s willingness to fight Mueller in court.

Last month, Manfort was found guilty in a Virginia trial on eight counts of bank and tax fraud, while the judge declared a mistrial on 10 other charges after the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.

After the decision, Trump called Manafort “a brave man” on Twitter.

Manafort’s charges came out of Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin in its efforts. Trump has regularly decried the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

So what happened Friday? We answer a few questions.

What’s in Manafort’s potential plea deal?

The deal dismisses deadlocked charges against Manafort from the earlier trial, but only after “successful cooperation” with Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow in its efforts. Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann did not immediately expand on what cooperation is required under the deal.

However, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, “the cooperation agreement does not involve the Trump campaign. ... There was no collusion with Russia.”


Separately, the agreement calls for a 10-year cap on how long Manafort will be sent to prison, and for Manafort to serve time from his separate Virginia and Washington cases concurrently. The deal also calls for Manafort to forfeit four properties.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/14/manafort-plea-deal-questions-823883

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