Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:40 pm


WHY DID REBEKAH MERCER AND STEVE BANNON START PREPARING AN ACCUSATION THAT HILLARY HAD CORRUPT TIES WITH RUSSIA STARTING ON MARCH 14, 2016?


October 30, 2018/5 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Amid a lot of noise regarding the eight month investigation into Roger Stone (including that his assistant Jason Sullivan has been asked for the complete recordings of some conference calls he gave in 2016 and that he has passed two polygraphs that may not be asking the right questions), the WaPo has a detail of real interest. Mueller brought Steve Bannon back in for questioning Friday.

On Friday, Mueller’s team questioned Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief campaign strategist, about alleged claims Stone made privately about WikiLeaks before the group released emails allegedly hacked by Russian operatives, according to people familiar with the session.


I say that’s particularly interesting because of Bannon’s role in a series of events that come as close as anything to hint that Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi not only had advance knowledge that Wikileaks would release John Podesta’s emails, but may have known and planned for what those emails included.

STONE AND CORSI SEEMED TO EXPECT THAT THERE WOULD BE PODESTA EMAILS RELATING TO JOULE

As I noted in these two posts, Stone’s evolving public stories explaining his knowledge of the stolen documents seem to attempt to do three things:

Provide non-incriminating explanations for any foreknowledge of WikiLeaks — first pointing to Randy Credico and now to James Rosen

Offer explanations for discussions about Podesta that he may presume Mueller has that took place around August 14

Shift the focus away from Joule and the remarkable prescience with which the right wing anticipated that WikiLeaks would be able to advance an attack first rolled out on August 1

Basically, over the course of August, several key events happened: Stone first started publicly claiming foreknowledge of what WikiLeaks would drop, tried to launch a counterattack against public reporting on Paul Manafort’s sleazy ties to Russian and Russian-backed Ukrainian oligarchs, and then warned that it would soon be John Podesta’s time on the barrel. Those events came amidst two separate oppo research efforts: An early one initiated by Bannon and (Clinton Cash author) Peter Schweizer that accused Hillary of corrupt ties to Russia, largely through John Podesta’s role a company called Joule Unlimited. And then a later one (starting at 39), written by Corsi, trying to impugn Hillary because her campaign manager’s brother was so corrupt he had worked with Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and at Manafort’s instructions not properly declared the work. Stone seems to have wanted to conflate those two efforts, in part to suggest his August 21 tweet (and an August 15 one that may end up being just as interesting) referred to both brothers, not just John, and therefore not the earlier oppo effort.

What’s interesting, however, is that while Corsi claims Stone was quite interested in the Bannon/Schweizer effort and that his own report arose out of it, Stone was virtually silent about it up until the Podesta emails started dropping in October. In fact, the day before the Podesta emails dropped, Corsi renewed the focus on Joule, which in turn teed up a Stone report and then a Corsi one integrating but not linking emails released by WikiLeaks, followed four days later by a Corsi report actually showing how those WikiLeaks emails supported claims he and especially Stone had already made. While it is true that Stone doesn’t integrate evidence from the WikiLeaks emails until they were released, the analysis of those emails (Corsi’s) took place days after his first report on them.

One possible scenario to explain all that (and this is all speculative) is that Roger Stone, back when he was trying to find a way to respond to stories about Manafort, asked someone with access to the files Russia either already had or planned to share with WikiLeaks, and learned there were files in the dump pertaining to the attack already launched, focused on Joule. That is, Stone may have figured out that those emails were coming in August, and therefore held his focus on Joule until they were eventually released. In this scenario, then, when Stone predicted it would soon be Podesta’s time on the barrel, he may have been anticipating that the upcoming WikiLeaks dump would substantiate an attack his cronies had already made.

We know, for example, that in September 2016 he asked Randy Credico for help learning what Clinton emails on Libya — which Stone appears to have known or believed were in Assange’s hands but that had yet to be released — said. So it is consistent to assume that Stone tried to learn and plan for what was coming at other times. And his October 13 Joule attack is, as far as I’m aware, the one for which there is the most public evidence that he did plan the later attack.


THAT JOULE ATTACK WAS PART OF A REPORT THAT REMARKABLY ANTICIPATED THE NEED TO ACCUSE HILLARY OF RUSSIAN TIES


But all that raises another question I’ve been pondering: Why did Bannon and Schweizer already have an attack claiming Hillary had corrupt ties to Russia, ready to release on August 1? The timing was key: the report came out just over a week after the WikiLeaks DNC dump made the question of Russia’s tampering to defeat Hillary really pressing, and just days after Trump asked Russia to go find more Hillary emails. It also came as Manafort would have had the first rumors that stories of his own Russian ties would break.

The question is all the more important given that this was not a last minute report.

Indeed, according to the footnotes, the report was started in March 2016, even before John Podesta was hacked. The Obama White House fact sheet on that Administration’s attempted reset with Russia was accessed March 14, days before Podesta was hacked, and again on March 18, the day before Podesta was spearphished.

“U.S.-Russia Relations: “Reset” Fact Sheet.” The White House. June 24, 2010. Accessed March 14, 2016. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-of ... fact-sheet.

[snip]

“U.S.-Russia Relations: ‘Reset’ Fact Sheet.” The White House. June 24, 2010. Accessed March 18, 2016. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-of ... -factsheet.


Some of the Hillary emails released by the State Department were accessed on March 28.

“Search Hillary Clinton’s Emails.” WSJ. March 1, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2016. http://graphics.wsj.com/hillary-clinton ... documents/.


Reports on Viktor Vekselberg Silicon Valley’s initiative were accessed in March, too.

24 “Skolkovo Innovation Center.” Skolkovo Innovation Center. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://in.rbth.com/skolkovo.

25 “Cisco Commits $1 Billion for Multi-year Investment in Skolkovo.” ThinkRUSSIA. June 27, 2010. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://www.thinkrussia.com/business-eco ... t-skolkovo.


WikiLeaks Cablegate files on the Vekselberg effort going back to 2009 were accessed on April 27 (the day after George Papadopoulos learned the Russians had emails on Hillary they wanted to dump in an effort to help Trump).

“Russia Moving Into High Gear on Nanotechnology; Actively Seeking Cooperation with U.S.,” U.S. State Department Cable. February 11, 2009. Wikileaks. Accessed April 27, 2016. https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09MOSCOW333_a.html.


Some of the Podesta Joule work was done in April.

Podesta, John. “Public Financial Disclosure Report.” Accessed April 20, 2016. https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentclo ... e-form.pdf. ”

Joule Unlimited, Inc.” Portfolio Companies. Accessed April 06, 2016


There were also a string of emails that would have come from officially released State emails (but which don’t include access dates; remember that most of those emails came in response to a Jason Leopold FOIA but WikiLeaks hosted them to great fanfare).

88 Mills, Cheryl D. “My List.” E-mail. July 27, 2009.

89 Podesta, John. “Calling.” E-mail. June 2, 2009.

90 Talbott, Strobe. “RE: Speech for Tomorrow’s Meeting.” E-mail. July 9, 2009.

91 Abedin, Huma. “Podesta.” E-mail. August 21, 2009.

92 Podesta, John. “[redacted].” E-mail. July 25, 2009;


One of the last access dates was May 10, 2016.

Nowak, David. “Key Skolkovo Partners Microsoft, Siemens, Reiterate Commitment to Project.” Skolkovo Foundation. November 13, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2016.


Unless I missed something, there are just three finishing touches added after that date, in mid-July.

“Fact Sheet-U.S.-Russia Business Summit.” Department of Commerce. June 25, 2010. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://2010-2014.commerce.gov/news/fact ... ummit.html.

[snip]

“State in €70m Aids Partnership in Africa.” The Irish Times. October 25, 2006. Accessed July 15, 2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/state-in ... a-1.798426. “Press Release: President Clinton to Visit Pediatric AIDS Clinic in Mozambique, Beginning Trip to Africa to Focus on AIDS Care.” Clinton Foundation. June 17, 2005. Accessed July 15, 2016. https://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/ ... e-beg.html.


All of this suggests that, by May 10, 2016, the report was just sitting there at Rebekah Mercer funded Government Accountability Institute, waiting for the right opportunity to accuse Hillary of ties to Russia; virtually the entire report was done before Democrats confirmed they had been hacked by Russia, and all the research was done before WikiLeaks dumped the DNC emails.

Ms. Mercer and a person close to her had a brief conversation regarding Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails in June 2016, a month after Mr. Cruz had dropped out of the race, the person said. The person said they discussed whether it would make sense to try to access and release those emails, but ultimately decided that looking for them would create “major legal liabilities” and would be a “terrible idea.”



REBEKAH MERCER KEPT TRYING TO WORK WITH WIKILEAKS ON OPTIMIZING EMAILS


That Rebekah Mercer was funding this attack (one that started long before the Mercers started backing Trump) is all the more interesting given several different efforts she or her employee made to reach out to WikiLeaks. There’s Alexander Nix’s offer to help WikiLeaks organize emails we weren’t supposed to know about yet in June 2016.

Mr. Nix responded that he had reached out to Mr. Assange two months earlier—in June 2016, before Cambridge Analytica had started working for the Trump campaign—to ask him to share Clinton-related emails so the company could aid in disseminating them, the person familiar with the email exchange said. He said Mr. Assange had turned him down. That outreach and subsequent rejection was confirmed by Mr. Assange earlier this week on Twitter.


Also in June, Ms. Mercer had a discussion about accessing Hillary’s deleted emails.

Ms. Mercer and a person close to her had a brief conversation regarding Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails in June 2016, a month after Mr. Cruz had dropped out of the race, the person said. The person said they discussed whether it would make sense to try to access and release those emails, but ultimately decided that looking for them would create “major legal liabilities” and would be a “terrible idea.”


Then, again in August, Mercer asked Nix — or the GAI, the same outlet that did the Hillary Russia attack — about helping WikiLeaks with emails.

On Aug. 26, 2016, roughly a month after Mr. Trump formally became the Republican nominee, Ms. Mercer passed along to Mr. Nix an email she had received from a person she met at an event supporting Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), whose presidential campaign she had initially supported during the GOP primaries, the person familiar with the exchange said. The email’s author d4suggested to Ms. Mercer that the Trump campaign or an allied super PAC ought to better index the WikiLeaks emails to make them more searchable, the person said.

Ms. Mercer forwarded the email to Mr. Nix, whose firm had started working for the Trump campaign in July 2016 after previously working for the Cruz campaign, according to the person. In the email, Ms. Mercer asked Mr. Nix whether the suggested organization of the emails was something Cambridge Analytica or the Government Accountability Institute—a conservative nonprofit that focuses on investigative research—could do, the person said. Ms. Mercer has sat on the board of the institute, which has received funding from her family.


Clearly, Mercer was thinking a lot about how to optimize the emails Russia had stolen.

Steve Bannon would know, at a minimum, about how he and Schweizer anticipated the need to project Russian corruption onto Hillary and her campaign manager way back in March 2016. But he also might know whether, in the wake of the GAI report, Stone or someone else got a preview of coming attractions, other emails they might later use to return to the Joule attack.

https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/10/30/w ... h-14-2016/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:07 am

Rudy Giuliani’s Mystery Trips to Russia, Armenia and Ukraine — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast


We spent weeks investigating his work and clients in the former Soviet Union. We have so many questions.

by Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, WNYC
Oct. 31, 4 a.m. EDT

Rudy Giuliani with Donald Trump, then president-elect, at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey in 2016. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Find “Trump, Inc.” wherever you get your podcasts.

Rudy Giuliani has had many identities in his time on the public stage. A crusading federal prosecutor who struck terror in mobsters and Wall Street titans alike. A sometimes-cantankerous New York City mayor who became a national hero for his stirring leadership after the 9/11 attacks. And, currently, President Donald Trump’s unpaid attorney in the Russia collusion investigation being led by Robert Mueller.

In this week’s episode of “Trump, Inc.,” we’re digging into a part of Giuliani’s work that has occurred largely outside of the spotlight: He has often traveled to Russia or other former Soviet states as guests of powerful players there. And since Trump was elected, he appears to have stepped up the frequency of those trips.

Just last week, for example, Giuliani appeared in the former Soviet republic of Armenia, which has close trade ties with Russia. He was invited, according to local press accounts, by Ara Abramyan, an Armenian businessman who lives in Russia. Abramyan once helped reconstruct the Kremlin and also received a medal for “merit to the fatherland” from President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Giuliani said he was in Armenia as a private citizen, but on a local TV news show, Abramyan implied that he expected Giuliani to carry a message for him to Trump. (The conversation was in Armenian, so it’s not clear whether Giuliani understood what Abramyan was saying.)

While in Armenia, Giuliani also attended a technology conference (one of his businesses advises on cybersecurity). The conference program listed him as appearing on a panel that also included a Russian currently on the U.S. sanctions list imposed after Russia’s invasion of Crimea.

There are many things we don’t know about Giuliani’s trips. We don’t know whether he’s being paid, and if so by whom. Giuliani declined to answer our questions.

One thing we do know is that a company called TriGlobal Strategic Ventures claims credit for organizing the trips. Abramyan is on TriGlobal’s board, as is a former Russian government minister. TriGlobal and Abramyan also did not respond to our questions.

Giuliani’s work abroad does not appear to break any laws or rules. But it also appears to be unprecedented. Said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and a law professor at the University of Michigan: “I don’t recall seeing anything like this before.”

Do you know something about Giuliani’s work abroad? We want to hear from you.

You can contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely.

You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org.

And finally, you can use the postal service:

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Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.
https://www.propublica.org/article/trum ... ssion=true



Has Mueller Subpoenaed the President?

A careful reading of court filings suggests the special counsel hasn’t been quiet. Far from it.

BEN SCHRECKINGER
October 31, 2018

Nelson W. Cunningham has served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudolph Giuliani, general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-chair Joseph R. Biden, and general counsel of the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton.

These months before the midterm elections are tough ones for all of us Mueller-watchers. As we expected, he has gone quiet in deference to long-standing Justice Department policy that prosecutors should not take actions that might impact pending elections. Whatever he is doing, he is doing quietly and even farther from the public eye than usual.

But thanks to some careful reporting by Politico, which I have analyzed from my perspective as a former prosecutor, we may have stumbled upon How Bob Mueller Is Spending His Mid-Terms: secretly litigating against President Trump for the right to throw him in the grand jury.

As a former prosecutor and Senate and White House aide, I predicted here last May that Mueller would promptly subpoena Trump and, like Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr back in 1998, bring a sitting president before his grand jury to round out and conclude his investigation. What Trump knew and when he knew it, and what exactly motivated his statements and actions, are central to Mueller’s inquiry on both Russian interference and obstruction of justice.

As the summer proceeded, we certainly heard a great deal from Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, about purported negotiations with Mueller’s office about the propriety and scope of Trump’s potential testimony. On August 15, Giuliani said Trump would move to quash a subpoena and went so far as to say, “[W]e’re pretty much finished with our memorandum opposing a subpoena.”

And then—nothing. Labor Day came and went without a visible move by Mueller to subpoena the president, and we entered the quiet period before the midterms. Even the voluble Giuliani went quiet, more or less. Mindful of the time it would take to fight out the legal issues surrounding a presidential subpoena, and mindful of the ticking clock on Mueller’s now 18-month-old investigation, many of us began to wonder if Mueller had decided to forego the compelling and possibly conclusive nature of presidential testimony in favor of findings built on inference and circumstantial evidence. A move that would leave a huge hole in his final report and findings.

But now, thanks to Politico’s reporting (backed up by the simple gumshoe move of sitting in the clerk’s office waiting to see who walks in and requests what file), we may know what Mueller has been up to: Since mid-August, he may have been locked in proceedings with Trump and his lawyers over a grand jury subpoena—in secret litigation that could tell us by December whether the president will testify before Mueller’s grand jury.

The evidence lies in obscure docket entries at the clerk’s office for the D.C. Circuit. Thanks to Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, we know that on August 16th (the day after Giuliani said he was almost finished with his memorandum, remember), a sealed grand jury case was initiated in the D.C. federal district court before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell. We know that on September 19, Chief Judge Howell issued a ruling and 5 days later one of the parties appealed to the D.C. Circuit. And thanks to Politico’s reporting, we know that the special counsel’s office is involved (because the reporter overheard a conversation in the clerk’s office). We can further deduce that the special counsel prevailed in the district court below, and that the presumptive grand jury witness has frantically appealed that order and sought special treatment from the judges of the D.C. Circuit—often referred to as the “second-most important court in the land.”

Nothing about the docket sheets, however, discloses the identity of the witness. Politico asked many of the known attorneys for Mueller witnesses—including Jay Sekulow, another Trump lawyer—and every one denied knowledge of the identity of the witness. (What, of course, would we expect a lawyer to say when asked about a proceeding the court has ordered sealed?)

But for those of us who have been appellate lawyers, the brief docket entries tell a story. Here’s what we can glean:

The parties and the judges have moved with unusual alacrity. Parties normally have 30 days to appeal a lower court action. The witness here appealed just five days after losing in the district court—and three days later filed a motion before the appellate court to stay the district court’s order. That’s fast.
The appeals court itself responded with remarkable speed, too. One day after getting the witness’s motion, the court gave the special counsel just three days to respond—blindingly short as appellate proceedings go. The special counsel’s papers were filed October 1.
At this point an unspecified procedural flaw seems to have emerged, and on October 3, the appeals court dismissed the appeal. Just two days later, the lower court judge cured the flaw, the witness re-appealed, and by October 10 the witness was once again before appellate court. Thanks to very quick action of all the judges, less than one week was lost due to a flaw that, in other cases, could have taken weeks or months to resolve.
Back before the D.C. Circuit, this case’s very special handling continued. On October 10, the day the case returned to the court, the parties filed a motion for expedited handling, and within two days, the judges had granted their motion and set an accelerated briefing schedule. The witness was given just 11 days to file briefs; the special counsel (presumably) just two weeks to respond; and reply papers one week later, on November 14 (for those paying attention, that’s 8 days after the midterm elections). Oral arguments are set for December 14.
At every level, this matter has commanded the immediate and close attention of the judges involved—suggesting that no ordinary witness and no ordinary issue is involved. But is it the president? The docket sheets give one final—but compelling—clue. When the witness lost the first time in the circuit court (before the quick round-trip to the district court), he unusually petitioned for rehearing en banc—meaning he thought his case was so important that it merited the very unusual action of convening all 10 of the D.C. Circuit judges to review the order. That is itself telling (this witness believes his case demands very special handling), but the order disposing of the petition is even more telling: President Trump’s sole appointee to that court, Gregory Katsas, recused himself.

Why did he recuse himself? We don’t know; by custom, judges typically don’t disclose their reasons for sitting a matter out. But Judge Katsas previously served in the Trump White House, as one of four deputy White House counsels. He testified in his confirmation hearings that in that position he handled executive branch legal issues, but made clear that apart from some discrete legal issues, he had not been involved in the special counsel’s investigation. If the witness here were unrelated to the White House, unless the matter raised one of the discrete legal issues on which he had previously given advice, there would be no reason to recuse himself.

But if the witness were the president himself—if the matter involved an appeal from a secret order requiring the president to testify before the grand jury—then Judge Katsas would certainly feel obliged to recuse himself from any official role. Not only was the president his former client (he was deputy counsel to the president, remember) but he owes his judicial position to the president’s nomination. History provides a useful parallel: In 1974, in the unanimous Supreme Court decision US v Nixon requiring another witness-president to comply with a subpoena, Justice William Rehnquist recused himself for essentially the same reasons.

We cannot know, from the brief docket entries that are available to us in this sealed case, that the matter involves President Trump. But we do know from Politico’s reporting that it involves the special counsel and that the action here was filed the day after Giuliani noted publicly, “[W]e’re pretty much finished with our memorandum opposing a subpoena.” We know that the district court had ruled in favor of the special counsel and against the witness; that the losing witness has moved with alacrity and with authority; and that the judges have responded with accelerated rulings and briefing schedules. We know that Judge Katsas, Trump’s former counsel and nominee, has recused himself. And we know that this sealed legal matter will come to a head in the weeks just after the midterm elections.

If Mueller were going to subpoena the president—and there’s every reason why a careful and thorough prosecutor would want the central figure on the record on critical questions regarding his knowledge and intent—this is just the way we would expect him to do so. Quietly, expeditiously, and refusing to waste the lull in public action demanded by the midterm elections. It all fits.

Nelson W. Cunningham has served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudolph Giuliani, general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-chair Joseph R. Biden, and general counsel of the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... ump-222060


NO, MUELLER PROBABLY DIDN’T SUBPOENA TRUMP, YET

October 31, 2018/1 Comment/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Nelson Cunningham, who has far better legal qualifications than I do but who, as far as I’ve seen, has written very little on the Mueller investigation has taken Politico’s very good reporting on a second appeal involving the Mueller inquiry and started a parlor game among people convinced this means Trump got a subpoena. Jay Sekulow has already denied the report.

Cunningham bases his argument on the following observations, along with the observation that the initial court filings came the day after Rudy Giuliani announced he had completed writing a challenge to an as yet unserved subpoena:

The parties and the judges have moved with unusual alacrity. Parties normally have 30 days to appeal a lower court action. The witness here appealed just five days after losing in the district court – and three days later filed a motion before the appellate court to stay the district court’s order. That’s fast.

The appeals court itself responded with remarkable speed, too. One day after getting the witness’s motion, the court gave the special counsel just three days to respond – blindingly short as appellate proceedings go. The special counsel’s papers were filed October 1.

At this point an unspecified procedural flaw seems to have emerged, and on October 3, the appeals court dismissed the appeal. Just two days later, the lower court judge cured the flaw, the witness re-appealed, and by October 10 the witness was once again before appellate court. Thanks to very quick action of all the judges, less than one week was lost due to a flaw that, in other cases, could have taken weeks or months to resolve.

Back before the D.C. Circuit, this case’s very special handling continued. On October 10, the day the case returned to the court, the parties filed a motion for expedited handling, and within two days, the judges had granted their motion and set an accelerated briefing schedule. The witness was given just 11 days to file briefs; the special counsel (presumably) just two weeks to respond; and reply papers one week later, on November 14 (for those paying attention, that’s 8 days after the midterm elections). Oral arguments are set for December 14.

I suspect the subpoena — if that’s what this is — is either for a White House figure (John Kelly or Don McGahn might be possibilities), a lawyer (Trump Organization lawyers Alan Garten and Alan Futerfas both had non-privileged conversations about the pushback on the June 9 meeting, as did Agalarov lawyer Scott Balber), or a journalist (Chuck Johnson and Lee Stranahan have denied having been contacted by Mueller; Hannity would be another possibility).

I’ve laid out the underlying timeline, below. There are three dockets involved in the mystery challenge: 18-gj-41-BAH, which is sealed, and 18-3068 and 18-3071 before the DC Circuit. For point of comparison, I’ve included Andrew Miller’s appeal of a grand jury subpoena in the timeline (which Cunningham doesn’t mention at all), in italics, as well; those docket numbers are 18-gj-34-BAH and 18-3052. I’ve also included some key public reports that Cunningham doesn’t mention that provide key context.

Miller’s docket easily disproves one of Cunningham’s arguments: that the appeal itself was very quick. Miller, like the mystery challenger, both filed their appeal within days (suggesting that timing came from Beryl Howell, not the appellants). With Miller, there was a pause to litigate the issue of Concord Management’s status, but that pause was litigated on the same accelerated schedule as the jurisdictional issue for the mystery appellant. With the mystery appellant, there appeared to be some slam dunk procedural issue for why the Circuit did not yet have jurisdiction. It was suggested to me that the mystery person may not have taken the legal step of being held in contempt before appealing, as Miller did, which would explain the quick jurisdictional response for the mystery challenger.

Miller’s docket also shows that the results of motion to expedite aren’t that dramatic. With no expedited schedule, Miller’s initial schedule (including the Concord litigation) provided him 24 days for his opening brief, gave Mueller 16 days to respond, and Miller 5 days to reply, with 41 days for the Circuit to consider the appeal or a total of 85 days after the filing. As Cunningham notes, the mystery appellant got just 11 days to file the initial brief, Mueller got two weeks to respond, and the mystery appellant got 7 days to reply. The Circuit gave themselves a month to consider the appeal, or a total of 65 days from second appeal. But that works out to be 81 days from the initial September 24 appeal, about the same amount of time as Miller’s appeal. The expedited time here mostly came out of the appellant’s time for the initial brief and the Circuit consideration (which might be a fair outcome given the appeal without jurisdiction); Mueller’s schedule remains roughly similar. It has been suggested that the mystery appellant’s decision to appeal in spite of that procedural flaw may have provided more urgency for the appeal (for example, if Howell had not stayed contempt for the mystery appellant, then the risk of jailing would be greater than it would be for Miller, for whom she stayed the contempt).

Finally, Cunningham doesn’t consider something else in the public record. On October 11, right in the middle of this litigation, CNN revealed that Mueller had given Trump — and Trump was working on — a set of questions pertaining to conspiracy. The other day, Bloomberg reported that Trump had finished answers to that question, but was withholding them pending the outcome of the election. It’s possible that the White House would voluntarily answer questions on conspiracy while litigating a subpoena for testimony on obstruction. Perhaps they would adopt that approach if their subpoena challenge pertains exclusively to actions Trump took as President, and if that were the case, that might explain the real reason Rudy was stalling on returning the answers, to see if the subpoena challenge worked. If that were the case, though, he would have to invent new reasons to explain the delay from November 6 past December 14, when the case will be heard (and he has promised to appeal any subpoena to SCOTUS). Alternately, Rudy could be stalling on the answers to await the appeal and using the election as his excuse just to avoid making this appeal public before the election.

One other thing that might support Cunningham’s argument that he doesn’t raise is Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation on October 6. Having confirmed Kavanaugh might explain the decision to ask for en banc consideration of what is probably a slam dunk procedural issue, in hopes of short circuiting the route to SCOTUS. But everyone in this investigation, including Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s team, have tailored their actions to Kavanaugh’s presence on SCOTUS since even before he was confirmed.

Still, I think all that less likely than other explanations, not least because this White House has never kept things like this secret, nor would they if they could use it to argue that Trump needs a good turnout to keep him safe, legally.

I’m at least as intrigued by the way the timeline overlaps with Don McGahn’s last big press push, around the same time as the initial filing before Beryl Howell. A lawyer like McGahn would also have reason to want to avoid the jurisdictional step of being held in contempt (indeed, if he had been held in contempt, it might explain one reason for the urgency of the appeal). It’s also one possible explanation for why someone would skip that step — another being that whoever is making this challenge is even less well-lawyered than Miller. Finally, if it were McGahn appealing a grand jury subpoena, Katsas’ recusal would be a no-brainer (though he has said he would recuse more generally).

There are, still, plenty of other possibilities, though. And Cunningham’s case is nowhere near as strong as suggested once you compare it with what happened with the relatively anonymous, powerless Andrew Miller challenge in the very same matter.

TIMELINE
6/13/2018: Date filed (18-gj-34-BAH) [For more on Miller’s stalling, since May 10, on this subpoena, see this post]

7/6/2018: Report that Emmet Flood had been contesting Mueller request for John Kelly testimony for a month

8/10/2018: Date of judgment (18-gj-34-BAH)

8/14/2018: Notice of appeal (18-3052)

8/15/2018: Clerks order to file initial submissions on 8/30/2018 (18-3052)

8/16/2018: Per curium order setting briefing Appellant 9/7/2018, Appellee 9/23/2018, Reply 9/28/2018 (18-3052)

8/15/2018: Rudy Giuliani states, “we’re pretty much finished with our memorandum opposing a subpoena”

8/16/2018: Date filed (18-gj-41-BAH)

8/18/2018: NYT story describing third Don McGahn interview claiming unprecedented cooperation for a White House Counsel

8/30/2018 : Statement of issues (18-3052)

8/30/2018: Motion to extend time to file to 9/10/2018 (18-3052)

9/10/2018: Motion to extend time to file to 9/11/2018 (18-3052)

9/12/2018: Appellant brief submitted; Length of Brief: 10,869 Words (18-3052)

9/19/2018: Date of judgment (18-gj-41-BAH)

9/24/2018: Notice of appeal (18-3068)

9/27/2018: Motion to stay underlying appeal (18-3068)

9/28/2018: Per curium order directing response from Mueller (18-3068)

9/28/2018: Appellee brief submitted (18-3052)

10/01/2018: Mueller response in opposition (18-3068)

10/01/2018: Appellant response (18-3068)

10/03/2018: Per curium order dismissing case for lack of jurisdiction (18-3068)

10/05/2018: Date of order (18-gj-41-BAH)

10/05/2018: Petition for re-hearing en banc (18-3068)

10/6/2018: Brett Kavanaugh confirmed

10/09/2018: Appellant brief submitted (18-3052)

10/09/2018: Notice of appeal (18-3071)

10/10/2018: Appeal docketed (18-3071)

10/10/2018: Joint motion to expedite (18-3071)

10/11/2018: Report that Trump preparing answers to Mueller’s questions about conspiracy with Russia

10/12/2018: Per curium order granting motion to expedite Appellant 10/23/2018, Appellee 11/07/2018, Reply 11/14/2018: (18-3071)

10/22/2018: Hearing scheduled for 12/14/201 (18-3071)

10/22/2018: Appellant brief submitted; Length of Brief: 12904 words (18-3071)

10/24/2018: Per curium order denying re-hearing en banc (with Greg Katsas recused) (18-3068)

10/29/2018: Rudy Giuliani states legal team has prepared written responses to several dozen questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller but say they won’t submit them until after next week’s elections and only if they reach a broader agreement with Mueller on terms for the questioning

11/8/2018: Hearing scheduled (85 days after filing)

12/14/2018: Hearing scheduled (65 days after filing) (18-3071)
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/10/31/n ... trump-yet/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:02 am

Seth Abramson

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(MEGA-THREAD) A *major* mystery in the Trump-Russia investigation—what type of illegal election assistance Israeli intel-affiliated entities offered the Trump campaign after Trump Jr. accepted their help in August 2016—may have just been solved. I hope you'll read on and retweet.
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7:08 PM - 30 Oct 2018


1/ We know from the NEW YORK TIMES that on August 3, 2016, an emissary from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—George Nader—offered the Trump campaign illegal election assistance at Trump Tower, and that Don Jr. said "yes" to the two nations' offer.

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

May 19, 2018

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advisers to the Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last spring, Mr. Nader traveled to Riyadh for meetings with senior Saudi military and intelligence officials to pitch his Iran sabotage plan. He was convinced, according to several people familiar with his plan, that economic warfare was the key to the overthrow of the government in Tehran. One person briefed on Mr. Nader’s activities said he tried to persuade Mr. Kushner to endorse the plan to Crown Prince Mohammed in person on a trip to Riyadh, although it was unclear whether the message was delivered.

Asked about Mr. Nader’s plans to attack Iran, the senior Saudi official said Mr. Nader had a habit of pitching proposals that went nowhere.

Mr. Nader was also in discussions with Mr. Prince, the former head of Blackwater, about a plan to get the Saudis to pay $2 billion to set up a private army to combat Iranian proxy forces in Yemen.

Since entering the White House, Mr. Trump has allied himself closely with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. His first overseas trip was to Riyadh. He strongly backed Saudi and Emirati efforts to isolate their neighbor Qatar, another American ally, even over apparent disagreement from the State and Defense Departments.

This month, Mr. Trump also withdrew from an Obama administration nuclear deal with Iran that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had campaigned against for years, delivering them their biggest victory yet from his administration.

Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington, Ronen Bergman from Tel Aviv and David D. Kirkpatrick from London. Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/19/us/p ... zamel.html


2/ We also know that Joel Zamel—an Australia-born Israeli businessman who runs two "business intelligence outfits"—was also at the meetup, which Nader and Trump shadow national security adviser Erik Prince had set up. We know Zamel offered his assistance too—and Don Jr. said yes.



3/ In researching PROOF OF COLLUSION, I ran into a dilemma at this point in the NYT-sourced story: research revealed Zamel had connections to a top aide to Netanyahu, and that many men in his outfits (Psy Group and Wikistrat) had Mossad connections. So who let him do what he did?



4/ To explain: it's illegal for foreign governments to offer election aid to a campaign, yet that's just what Zamel did and what Don Jr. accepted. But Zamel—given his government ties—would have known that offering such help without Netanyahu's blessing would ruin him. Yet he did.



5/ Because the trail ended there—I couldn't clearly tie Zamel to Israeli government-granted authority to help the Trump campaign pre-election—this issue is only lightly covered in PROOF OF COLLUSION. But now there's new reporting that answers this question *and* another key one.


6/ The second question that is now answered—and will be answered in this thread—is one I've been asking here and elsewhere for a *year*: what the hell does *Ben Carson* have to do with *anything*? He employed Papadopoulos before Trump—and sent Papadopoulos to Trump. Why would he?


7/ I normally don't see Carson as any sort of player in any of this, but he used *Michael Flynn* and *Papadopoulos* as advisers before they *both* went to Trump. Both men were *bizarre* choices to be advisers—especially as all Papadopoulos knew about was... Israeli energy issues.


8/ So as I wrote PROOF OF COLLUSION, big issues stood unresolved with respect to Israel, Zamel, Carson, Flynn, and Papadopoulos. I had Flynn and Papadopoulos linked up—they emailed and worked closely together during the campaign—but I couldn't see how the others fit in with them.


9/ When Papadopoulos' wife, Simona, said that Papadopoulos had originally been suspected by Mueller as an *Israeli* spy, I perked up. When Papadopoulos told Tapper that an *Israeli* had given him $10,000, I perked up still further. And now I think it all makes sense. Here we go:


10/ Walla! News is a major Israeli news outlet connected to HAARETZ, which is one of maybe two or three huge Israeli news outlets that Americans have heard of. Think of Walla! News as the Yahoo! News of Israeli (and remember how much great Russia reporting Isikoff of Yahoo! did).



11/ Walla! News says in late Spring '18, Mueller sent agents to Israel to investigate Zamel's Psy Group and Wikistrat, both of which are filled with ex-Mossad guys (this is discussed in PROOF OF COLLUSION). But Walla! News says the *real* Trump collaborators were *another* group.


12/ Walla! says that AT THE EXACT SAME TIME that Zamel offered Psy Group/Wikistrat's services to Trump's campaign and Don Jr. said yes, a *nearly identical* Israeli outfit that *also* had Mossad ties, Inspiration, began working for one of the Trump campaign's biggest Super-PACs.


13/ Here is the Walla! News article, which I've reviewed in detail in translation (and I'll now discuss it in detail here, so feel free to read it yourself, though you can also just read the synthesis in this thread):
Image
הקשר הסודי בין הקמפיין לנשיאות של טראמפ לבכירי אמ"ן לשעבר
חשיפת וואלה! NEWS: חברת inspiration, שפועלת מכפר שמריהו ומנוהלת על ידי בכיר לשעבר באגף המודיעין, עבדה מאחורי הקלעים למען בחירתו של דונלד טראמפ לאיש החזק בעולם. לאחרונה הגיעו לישראל סוכני FBI במסגרת חקירת מעורבות גורמים זרים בבחירות
https://news.walla.co.il/item/3160166?u ... cialbutton


14/ Walla! News says Inspiration began working for a Trump Super-PAC "3 months" before the November 2016 election—*exactly* when Zamel made his offer to Trump Jr. at Trump Tower and Trump Jr. said yes. And who connected the Trump Super-PAC to Inspiration? Wait for it: Ben Carson.



15/ If that doesn't many *any* sense to you, it *shouldn't*. Ben Carson doesn't know a *damned thing* about foreign policy—everyone saw that during the debates. But his adviser, Flynn, had *previously been recruited by Zamel*, and his adviser, Papadopoulos, had deep Israeli ties.


16/ So Ben Carson offering George Papadopoulos to Trump, and sending his man Flynn to Trump, suddenly makes sense—as the two men were able to bring to Trump *Israeli* connections (in Flynn's case, Russian ones, too) which Trump would be able to draw from if he got the nomination.



17/ Based on his prior associations with both Prince and Zamel, it now seems highly likely that *Flynn*—working with his Israeli-linked protege, Papadopoulos—was able to link up the Trump campaign to not just one but *several* connected Israeli "business intelligence" outfits.



18/ This explains why Papadopoulos' arrest led almost immediately to Flynn's; this explains why Papadopoulos' first trip for Trump was to Israel, and that around the time Prince was in the Seychelles in January 2017 working on the "six-nation bargain," Papadopoulos was in Israel.



19/ This explains Papadopoulos getting contacted by a man he says was in Israeli intelligence; this explains Mueller investigating Papadopoulos as an Israeli spy. Both Flynn and Papadopoulos were supposed to be Trump's links to Israeli government-connected intelligence outfits.



20/ This explains why Joel Zamel *formally* went into business with Trump's data firm, Cambridge Analytica, *immediately* after the election (read that twice). This explains why Cambridge Analytica's whistleblower, Chris Wylie, said CA was working with former Israeli intel guys.



21/ WALLA! NEWS: "[Israeli business intelligence outfit] Inspiration worked behind the scenes for the election of Donald Trump....recently, FBI agents arrived in Israel [in May 2018] to investigate the involvement of foreign elements in the U.S. elections."


22/ WALLA! NEWS: "Inspiration [is] a company headed by a former senior IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] intel officer, whose main activity in recent years has been work for the election of Donald Trump as president in the last election campaign in the United States." *Main activity*.


23/ WALLA! NEWS: "[Inspiration head] Ronen Cohen held a number of senior [Israeli] intelligence positions: He was the head of the terror division in the Research Branch of Military Intelligence, the deputy head of the research division, and in his last position was... (continued)


24/ ...the [Israeli] Central Command intelligence officer. In 2012, after his retirement, he founded Inspiration. In the past, the company engaged in various types of intelligence and security consulting, but today it focuses on campaigns to influence public awareness." Bingo...



25/ According to THE NEW YORK TIMES, what Zamel offered Don Jr.—and what Trump Jr. said yes to—was just such a "campaign to influence public awareness" during a pre-election period. And right after he made that offer, Inspiration began offering such services to a Trump Super-PAC.



26/ And the man who connected the Trump Super-PAC with an Israeli government-linked intel outfit in August '16, right after Trump Jr. agreed to such Israeli assistance, was "Ben Carson"—meaning, Mike Flynn and/or George Papadopoulos, who were key Trump NatSec aides *at the time*.



27/ WALLA! NEWS: "In the first stage, Inspiration analyzes the client and the field that he wishes to influence, whether it's a business or political client. On the basis of the analysis, a campaign [is] built. 'It could be online--setting up sites, working on Facebook... (cont.)


28/ ...or working in more conventional media,' says a source familiar with [Inspiration] and similar companies [NB: Wikistrat, Psy Group, Black Cube]. 'There can also be acceptance on the ground, from the simplest thing, a kind of lobbying, to more complex things... (continued)


29/ ...that complement the campaign and create credibility and the narrative you want to achieve." In other words, what Trump's Super-PAC got after the Zamel offer was a *domestic disinformation campaign* identical to Russian's—one which was worth *millions* of (foreign) dollars.


30/ But oh god it gets better.


31/ Because WALLA! NEWS found that Inspiration *didn't work alone*. It worked with (wait for it) *another Israeli intel outfit*. ("The information [Inspiration gathered] was analyzed...in cooperation with another Israeli company.") So here's where things get *really* interesting.


32/ Three Israeli intel outfits with the capacity/resources to work with Inspiration have been named in the Trump-Russia probe: Zamel's Psy Group and Wikistrat and another outfit, Black Cube. The chances Inspiration worked with one of these is high—as it only had so many options.


33/ WALLA! NEWS: "In the first stage, the company received huge amounts of information about voters. The information was analyzed, apparently in cooperation with another Israeli company, in order to try to understand which voters were more likely or less likely to vote... (cont.)


34/ ...on election day. The company naturally focused on trying to predict the behavior of voters in internal splits in the swing states. Various content intended for different types of voters was prepared in a focused manner."

Note: this is EXACTLY what Cambridge Analytica did.


35/ So Wylie says Cambridge Analytica was working with Israeli intel guys; Walla! News says Inspiration was working with another Israeli intel company; Zamel offered Trump Jr. help, and Trump Jr. said yes; and Carson introduced a Trump Super-PAC to an outfit identical to Zamel's.


36/ This is as *thinly and poorly veiled* an acceptance of illegal foreign (in-kind) donations as could possibly be imagined—given that Trump Jr. accepted the help in person and it appears to have been set up by Trump's data firm and two of Trump's top national security advisers.


37/ Wiley says Cambridge Analytica didn't work with Black Cube, and Inspiration says it didn't work with Cambridge Analytica, so that strongly suggests either Psy Group or Wikistrat worked with Cambridge Analytica. And guess who else thinks that, apparently: Robert Mueller. Thus:



38/ WALLA! NEWS: "Psy-Group's profile is very similar to that of Inspiration—it employs Israelis with a security/intel background and focuses on campaigns to influence public opinion. As far as is known, the FBI didn't contact any Inspiration personnel." But it *did* Psy-Group's.


39/ But because the FBI didn't speak to Inspiration personnel, it didn't realize Inspiration had quite possibly been working with Psy-Group. That'd explain, and perfectly, what Zamel's real "offer" was and what it was that Trump Jr. accepted—thereby coordinating with a Super-PAC.


Seth Abramson Retweeted Chemi Shalev
40/ A tweet on this, from a HAARETZ journalist:Seth Abramson added,
Chemi Shalev


Walla News claims to have uncovered another Israeli firm run by former IDF Intelligence officers - “inspiration” - that worked with Trump campaign http://news.walla.co.il/item/3160166?ut ... cialbutton


41/ But it's HAARETZ *itself* that takes this story to the next level.


42/ According to HAARETZ, "Housing Secretary and then-candidate Ben Carson personally presented Trump with Inspiration’s plan for voter manipulation in swing states." You read that right—and not in translation: "personally presented Trump with [the] plan."

The Countless Israeli Connections to Mueller’s Probe of Trump and Russia

The Israel-lobbyists, Netanyahu cronies, psyops manipulators and well-connected oligarchs — could it all be just one big coincidence?

Chemi Shalev May 26, 2018 11:48 AM

Analysis
FILE PHOTO: Elliott Broidy, left, with Benjamin Netanyahu, right, at a gala banquet held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Feb. 27, 2008.
The Israeli media usually takes scant interest in Robert Mueller’s investigations. It prefers to dwell on Donald Trump’s supposedly pro-Israeli policies. Last week’s report in the New York Times about the participation of Joel Zamel, the Australian-born “Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,” in an August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York was an exception to the rule. The FBI, the Times reported, had even come to Israel to search the offices of Zamel’s company. Here was a direct Israeli link to the scandal that has bewitched much of America since Trump was first elected.

To really understand Trump, Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

The moment of fleeting interest was followed up by a report, published by Walla! News, that another Israeli-based company called Inspiration, run by former IDF intelligence officers, had been employed by a super PAC that supported Trump’s election. The report alleged that after retiring from the race, Housing Secretary and then-candidate Ben Carson personally presented Trump with Inspiration’s plan for voter manipulation in swing states. A source in the company told Walla! that Inspiration had received “enormous amounts” of information from the Super PAC, which it then used to compose strategies and slogans that would elevate Trump and “float all kinds of things” about Hillary Clinton.

The two separate cases of Israeli involvement fed into sometimes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that seek to place Israel on the same level as Russia in its intervention in the 2016 presidential elections. In Israel’s case, however, there is no indication or allegation of direct government involvement or of Mueller’s interest. Nonetheless, beyond Zamel and Inspiration, a disturbing number of the main players implicated so far in Mueller’s investigation, many of them of Russian origin, have a direct link to Israel in their past or present.

There could be myriad reasons for the preponderance of actors with ties to Israel. In recent years, Israeli political strategists have developed an international reputation for election campaigns; many are employed by foreign political parties. Israeli intelligence services have certainly developed an expertise in psychological warfare; both Zamel and Inspiration are said to have employed former intelligence officers. And an estimated 10-15 percent of the million or so Russian immigrants who came to Israel from the 1970s onwards are known to have used the country as a way station to immigrate to the United States and other Western countries – but not before picking up Israeli citizenship, which remains with them for life. These included so-called Russian oligarchs, some of whom made their fortunes on the wrong side of the law.

Nonetheless, there is no denying that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was overjoyed at Trump’s election – if not before the fact, then certainly after. According to reports published in November and December of last year, Mueller is investigating lobbying efforts made in December 2016, before Trump’s inauguration, by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and presidential adviser Jared Kushner against the Obama administration’s intention to refrain from vetoing UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. Flynn’s indictment included an admission that he had lied to the FBI about his approach to Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergei Kislyak to delay the Security Council vote.

And while no direct link has been established, there was certainly a confluence of views and interests in the recently uncovered efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia to assist Trump’s campaign. According to the New York Times, in the August 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, the UAE representative, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. and other participants that Obama had left a “power vacuum” in the Middle East. The report also states that Nader had concocted a secret plan to destabilize the Iranian regime, an objective now being pursued, despite their denials, by both Israel and the United States.

>> Explained: What Michael Flynn’s guilty plea means for Jared Kushner and Israel ■ Ronan Farrow: Israelis, like Russia, are interfering in American politics ■ Analysis: Netanyahu puts Israel’s fate in hands of U.S president dubbed ‘serious threat to national security’

The question of whether the Israeli involvement was merely coincidental or an indication of something more sinister could become clearer if and when Mueller presents his findings. In the meantime, here is a necessarily incomplete catalog of the numerous Israeli connections to some of the people named so far in Mueller’s probe:

* George Nader, the convicted pedophile who worked on behalf of UAE, is a Lebanese businessman who has worked for decades in the shadows of Middle East diplomacy. He has often been accused in the Arab press of being an agent for the Mossad. In the 1980s, Nader reportedly mediated between Israel and Lebanon. At the same time, he established the journal Middle East Insight, which often arranged meetings in Washington between Israelis and Arabs. In July, 1996, Nader hosted Netanyahu shortly after his first election as prime minister. This video shows both on the same stage.

In this Oct. 25, 2017, photo acquired by The Associated Press, George Nader poses backstage with President Donald Trump at a Republican fundraiser in Dallas. Nader, a convicted pedophile, was told by the Secret Service that he could not meet the president. His business partner, Elliott Broidy, helped him secure this photo with the president. (AP Photo)
In this Oct. 25, 2017, photo acquired by The Associated Press, George Nader poses backstage with President Donald Trump at a Republican fundraiser in Dallas. Nader, a convicted pedophile, was told by /AP
Two years later, Nader forged even closer ties with Netanyahu and his bureau: he served as Ronald Lauder’s assistant in the cosmetic tycoon’s failed efforts to secure a peace deal between Netanyahu and Syria's president at the time, Hafez Assad. Netanyahu’s advisers have acknowledged their contacts with Nader, who is said to have been especially close to Dore Gold, the prime minister’s aide and former UN ambassador.

* Nader’s partner in representing the UAE – and in pressing Trump to take a hard line on Qatar – was Elliott Broidy, the Los Angeles venture capitalist and GOP fundraiser. Broidy made headlines in recent weeks for his lucrative lobbying efforts on behalf of the UAE, which included two personal meetings with Trump, as well as for his alleged role in Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s payment of $1.6 million to former Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard. Many commentators assume that it was Trump who actually had an affair with Bechard and got her pregnant, with Broidy volunteering to serve as his cover.

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Cohen says he gave legal advice to three clients in the past year, including the president and Elliott Broidy, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg
Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Cohen says he gave legal advice to three clients in the past year,Bloomberg
Broidy also has a long history with Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular. Together with Sheldon Adelson, he is a prominent member of the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has taken hawkish positions on the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fifteen years ago, Broidy set up Markstone Capital Group which operated in Israel, investing in Israeli companies and attracting Israeli investors. In 2003, then-Finance Minister Netanyahu took credit for convincing the New York State pension fund to invest $250 million in Markstone. It later emerged that Broidy’s bribes to former New York State Comptroller and now-convicted felon Alan Hevesi also played a role in the pension fund’s largesse. By the time Broidy pled guilty to a misdemeanor after cooperating with Hevesi’s investigators in 2012, Markstone's Israeli branch had essentially collapsed, taking with it the many Israelis' investments.

* In January 2017, Nader took part in a meeting in Seychelles, which is also being probed by Mueller. In attendance were Erik Prince, Trump confidante, brother of Education Secretary Betsy Devos and founder of the security company Blackwater, as well as Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian government’s sovereign wealth fund Russia Direct Investment Fund. Dmitriev's fund has in recent months been negotiating with Israeli government ministers on a $100 million project to open Israeli-run dairies in Russia.

* Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, who features in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, in which she is alleged to have offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton, represented Prevezon Holdings Ltd. in the money laundering case brought forth by former New York Southern District Attorney Preet Bharara. After Bharara was dismissed by Trump, Prevezon was allowed to pay a $6 million fine in May 2017 to avoid criminal prosecution. The owner of Prevezon is Denis Katsyv, another Israeli citizen, whose father Pyotr was a high municipal official in Moscow. In 2005, the same Katsyv reached a similar settlement with Israeli authorities, paying a fine of 35 million shekels after being indicted for money laundering at a Tel Aviv branch of Bank Hapoalim. The Cyprus-registered Prevezon was managed for a while by a Tel Aviv lawyer, who also represented the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

* Katsyv partnered with the Dutch branch of Africa-Israel Ltd., which belongs to Russian-Israeli diamond and real estate mogul Lev Leviev. Leviev’s apartments in New York were alleged to have served as a conduit for Prevezon’s money laundering. In 2015, Leviev sold four stories of the old New York Times building in Manhattan to Jared Kushner for $295 million, secured through a loan from Deutsche Bank, which is also being probed by Mueller.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Lev Leviev

* Leviev and Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club who has recently run into visa problems with British authorities, teamed up in 1999 to set up the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia (FOR). They were responding to a request by Vladimir Putin to set up a group that would rival the Russian Jewish Congress, headed by Israeli-Russian oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, who was close to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The head of the FOR is Italian-Russian Chabad Rabbi Berel Lazar. In April 2017, Politico alleged that Chabad and FOR were used by the Kremlin as conduits for their efforts to influence the U.S. elections. The report was denied and even dismissed as anti-Semitic. Interestingly, a BBC story published this week about payments made to Michael Cohen by Ukraine in order to secure a long White House meeting with Trump for Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko notes that the approach to Trump’s lawyer was made through attendees at a Chabad function in Port Washington, New York.

* Mueller is also said to be investigating connections between Russian oligarchs and Trump’s businesses in the years before he became president. One such partner in Trump’s failed Soho tower was the late Israeli-Georgian tycoon Tamir Sapir. In 2007, Trump hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter, Zina, with Rotem Rosen, then the director of the North American branch of Leviev’s Africa-Israel. The same year, Netanyahu listed Sapir as one of the potential donors to his Likud primary campaign in a handwritten note uncovered by the Yedioth Aharonoth daily.

* Another partner in the Soho project, and possibly the architect of Trump’s ties to Russia, was Felix Sater, who worked closely with Cohen. Sater is also an Israeli citizen, having passed through the country on his way to the United States with his father Mikhail, whom the FBI has named as a lieutenant for Russia mafia kingpin Sergei Mogilevich. Mogilevich came to Israel in 1990 and lived there for a few years. According to press reports, Mogilevich participated in a 1995 meeting of Ukrainian master criminals convened in Tel Aviv by another Russian oligarch with a shady reputation, Boris Birshtein. After several years in Israel, Birshtein left the country for Canada, after learning that he had turned into a target of the Israeli police. Subsequently, he partnered with Trump in a building project in Toronto.

Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, founder of Interpipe Group, poses for a photograph following a Bloomberg Television interview on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 43rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the five day event runs from Jan. 23-27. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, founder of Interpipe Group, poses for a photograph following a Bloomberg Television interview on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland,Bloomberg
* Mueller is also said to be investigating a $150,000 contribution to Trump’s inaugural committee, in which Broidy played an active role, made by another Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk. Cohen, it is alleged, was the middleman. Pinchuk is a significant contributor to religious institutions in Israel, but is also well connected to its politicians. In 2008 he served as co-chairman of the Israeli Presidential Conference convened in Jerusalem by the late Shimon Peres.

* Another purported target of Mueller's investigation is Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with investments in Israel, for payments allegedly made to Michael Cohen. Vekselberg partnered with Israeli-Russian billionaires Len Blavatnik, who is invested in Israeli media, connected to Netanyahu and is also under Mueller’s spotlight, as well as Russian-Israeli billionaire Mikhail Fridman. One of their joint holdings was Alfa Bank, which, according to the Steele Dossier, owned a mysterious internet server found in Trump Tower. Fridman is also the main contributor to the Genesis Prize, in which Netanyahu regularly plays a prominent role, and which featured recently in the brouhaha surrounding Natalie Portman’s decision to decline the prize after she had earlier accepted it.
https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premiu ... -1.6116639


43/ HAARETZ: "A source in the company [Inspiration] told Walla! that Inspiration had received 'enormous amounts' of information from the Trump Super PAC, which it then used to compose strategies and slogans that would elevate Trump and 'float all kinds of things' about Clinton."


44/ Wait a minute—so Trump was *personally presented* a plan, and *personally approved* a plan, to have an "unconnected" Super PAC "compose strategies and slogans that would elevate Trump and 'float all kinds of things' about Clinton"? How have we not heard about this before now?

45/ PROOF OF COLLUSION has a whole chapter about the totally false "things about Clinton" that Trump's campaign knowingly amplified pre-election. And you know who was most involved in floating these stories in US media? These men:

* Donald Trump Jr.
* Michael Flynn
* Erik Prince


46/ Meanwhile, post-election Papadopoulos told his contacts in Greece that he had a "blank check" for any job he wanted in the Trump administration and that he *personally* had "helped Trump get elected." (This is all in PROOF OF COLLUSION.) Why did he say that? *What did he do*?


47/ And as importantly as anything else, why did George Papadopoulos' conviction lead so quickly to Michael Flynn's arrest and conviction? What did Papadopoulos tell Robert Mueller about Flynn, the Trump NatSec man he worked closely with—by his own confession—during the campaign?


48/ I'd mention, too, that Papadopoulos is now—hoping to save his would-be GOP political career—floating a theory that *Australians* set him up to look like a foreign spy. Isn't that interesting, when Joel Zamel was born in Australia? I feel like Papadopoulos knows what's coming.


49/ When you read the HAARETZ article I linked to (Tweet #42), you'll see just how many *in-campaign* emissaries Trump had to Israel *besides* Carson, Flynn, and Papadopoulos.

He also had men connected to the UAE and Saudi Arabia—think "six-nation bargain"—like Broidy and Nader.


50/ All the evidence suggests what I'd always suspected: Zamel *wasn't* a rogue actor on August 3, 2016—nor was Trump Jr. saying "yes" to an offer that mysteriously never materialized. The Israelis knew what they were doing, and so did the Trumps. Illegally and pre-election. /end



PS/ Because this is Twitter, everything here has been abbreviated. The evidence suggests Israel, Russia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and—most oddly, but a full presentation of evidence explains it quite well—Qatar were involved in an illegal pre-election six-nation bargain with the Trumps.

THE SIX-NATION BARGAIN/ Here it is:

Image


NOTE/ A final note: I'm Jewish, and realize I'm researching a topic that implies the Israeli government may have acted illegally. But I want to underscore that Israel's motivations were entirely logical—not even opaque—even as what I believe were their actions were reprehensible.



NOTE2/ This research has nothing to do with American Jews or Jewry, nor does it imply nefarious motives on the part of Israeli agents. The Israelis are understandably trying to secure their people against certain external threats. The question is whether they broke laws to do it.



NOTE3/ Believe me, I *know* all the good stuff I left out, like Kushner's ties to Israel, and that it was *Kushner* who ordered Flynn to illegally negotiate with Russia and other nations on an *Israeli issue then before the UN* during the transition. Yes, that was a quid pro quo.


NOTE4/ I should add that I think (and actually would say that by now it's pretty well proven) that Netanyahu is a corrupt politician. I don't believe prior Israeli governments would have acted in this way. Netanyahu has been reckless, arrogant, and dangerous for a very long time.

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:32 am

Polly Sigh


Steve Bannon’s Oct 2016 emails show that the perception that Roger Stone was a WikiLeaks pipeline and knew what Assange had in store for Mrs. Clinton spread to the highest levels of Trump's campaign. Trump nor his advisers alerted the authorities.
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READ emails between Roger Stone and Trump Campaign's Steve Bannon & Breitbart’s Matt Boyle [who, around that time, were both also in contact with now-deceased Peter Smith, the GOP operative secretly seeking Clinton's emails from Russian hackers].
https://nyti.ms/2yJWsKi

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Polly Sigh


Polly Sigh Retweeted Rosalind Helderman
On Tuesday, Roger Stone claimed there were "no" communications between him and Trump campaign officials about Wikileaks and that "if Bannon says there are he would be dissembling." BUT HIS EMAILS prove otherwise.

These idiots and their emails
Rosalind Helderman

On Tuesday, Roger Stone told us there were "no" communications between him and Trump campaign officials about Wikileaks. "And if Bannon says there are he would be dissembling,” he added. Now NYT publishes exchange between Bannon and Stone about Wikileaks.


More
Polly Sigh Retweeted Polly Sigh
DATE: Oct 4, 2016
FROM: Roger Stone
TO: Steve Bannon
I’ve raise $150K for the targeted black digital campaign thru a C-4 [non profit]. Tell Rebecca [Mercer] to send us some $$$.

DATE: Oct 11, 2016
FROM: "ROB"
TO: Peter Smith
SUBJECT: Wire Instructions–Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative
“This 100K plus your 50K will allow us to fund the Scholarship Fund for Russian students for the promised $150K.”
Beyond his connection with Flynn, Peter Smith also claimed ties with WikiLeaks and solicited money for Julian Assange's legal fees, according to Charles Ortel and an email Smith sent in Dec 2016 about the “Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative.

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Beyond his connection with Flynn, Peter Smith also claimed ties with WikiLeaks and solicited money for Julian Assange's legal fees, according to Charles Ortel and an email Smith sent in Dec 2016 about the “Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative.”

Peter Smith formed "KLS Research" as a vehicle for his operation to obtain Clinton's emails and solicited financial backing from ME real-estate developer Michael Liberty, FL-based investor John “Jack” Purcell, and Chicago financier Patrick Haynes.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:42 am

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STONE V NYT: THE TREACHERY OF DUELING INCOMPLETE STORIES

November 1, 2018/8 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Both Roger Stone and the NYT have dueling stories out, both falling far short of what they need to tell us about a set of emails sent the first week of October 2016 between Breitbart editor Matthew Boyle, his former boss turned Trump campaign chair Steve Bannon, and Roger Stone.

Neither outlet shows the email addresses or tells us what domains Bannon and Stone were using (Boyle seems to have sent at least one of these emails from his Breitbart account). That’s a huge part of the story given that, earlier this week, Stone denied to the WaPo discussing WikiLeaks with Trump campaign officials.

Stone denied discussing WikiLeaks with Trump campaign officials.

“There are no such communications, and if Bannon says there are he would be dissembling,” he said.


Plus, if Bannon used a non-campaign address to communicate with Boyle and/or Stone, it would suggest an effort to distance his ties to the two from the official campaign business (and might suggest Mueller had to have gone through extra effort to obtain these emails).

The NYT doesn’t provide times for the emails it presents (which is especially problematic because it bolloxes the timing of Stone’s tweets, most notably by using the UTC time for them and therefore showing a tweet he sent late the night of October 1 as being sent on October 2).

Image

And while Stone at least provided the times of the emails he published, he somehow put London’s time zone behind the US (which I’ll treat as an editing error and note he was surely rushing to beat the NYT to press, which he did).

Assange held a press event Oct. 2 (Oct. 3 U.S. time) and did not release any documents that day as had been widely expected, Bannon e-mailed me asking why.


Plus, both ignore a key part of events of early October, the first reports that Mueller witness Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone wrote up from the Podesta emails leaked that week, which was based off a story that Bannon himself had originated. NYT’s accompanying story which details that Mueller has raised questions about Stone’s dark money funds, doesn’t address Stone’s Stop the Steal fund, which engaged in voter suppression, meaning Stone may be deliberately misdirecting again.

Mueller’s investigators have also delved into the operations of Mr. Stone’s political organizations. Mr. Stone has said investigators are examining a nonprofit educational fund called the Committee for American Sovereignty Education Fund, which he said produced a film alleging that former President Bill Clinton fathered an illegitimate child, a favorite theme of Mr. Stone’s.

The organization bills itself as a nonprofit social welfare organization that has been designated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) group. But there is no indication in I.R.S. records that it has that status.

Mr. Stone’s Oct. 4, 2016, email to Mr. Bannon suggested another reason prosecutors might be interested in the fund. Asking the campaign to promote his theory of an illegitimate son of Mr. Clinton, he wrote: “I’ve raised $150K for the targeted black digital campaign through a C-4,” he wrote.

“Tell Rebecca to send us some $$$,” Mr. Stone added, apparently referring to Rebekah Mercer, a wealthy Republican donor close to Mr. Bannon. There is no indication that Mr. Bannon replied to him or sought out Ms. Mercer, and it is unclear whether Mr. Stone’s solicitation, alone, violated federal election laws. Mr. Stone said he was referring to a campaign targeting African-American voters.


In short, the stories, sourced to Bannon and maybe Sam Nunberg on one side and Stone on the other, really don’t tell us what Mueller’s after here. But they do provide a bunch of shitholes an opportunity to explain away a suspicious exchange without addressing known issues with them.

What these stories do show is that on October 3 (it appears to be after Stone’s tweet claiming “total confidence” that Julian Assange would educate the American people soon) Boyle asked Stone what Assange had coming. “Hope it’s good.”

Stone used that opportunity to try to get to Bannon, by promising that Assange had something good while noting that Bannon “doesn’t call me back” (it’s unclear whether that was in that immediate time period or more generally). “I’ve got important stuff to worry about,” Bannon replied. But Boyle persisted, suggesting it was important for Bannon to know what Assange had coming.

That day, Bannon wrote Stone, “What was that this morning???” Stone explained it as a “Serious security concern,” which reflects what WikiLeaks was playing up in real time, partly exploiting a Hillary comment claimed by True Pundit about droning Assange.

Image

And Stone said WikiLeaks would release something each week, which also parrots what Assange had said.

These competing stories may in fact be an attempt to explain away this email, which includes at least a reference to whether or not Assange had been bribed to stop by Clinton’s people, and a reference to Stone’s efforts to slur Clinton with an accusation of an illegitimate child. (Remember, in this period Michael Cohen was busy paying off a bunch of women to prevent them from going public with stories of their affairs with Trump.)

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But that last bit — the “targeted black digital campaign” — is only explained by the NYT as either Stone’s Committee for American Sovereignty Education Fund (he also worked on a RAPE PAC with one of his dark money people, which had a similar goal), which is what Stone claimed it was, or to his PAC, Committee to Restore America’s Greatness.

The other big outlay Stone was making at the time was for his Stop the Steal voter suppression effort (largely via money raised through CRAG and not kept separate from the dark money group). When Stone got in trouble for those voter suppression efforts, Don McGahn helped bail him out, so whether or not the campaign planned to, they did ultimately associate with Stone’s efforts.

In other words, the most damning connotation of that request would pertain to voter suppression, not WikiLeaks.

And, as mentioned, none of this discussion examines the way that Jerome Corsi (before the Podesta emails started coming out) and Stone (relying on the newly released emails but perhaps having had an advance peek at them) recycled Bannon and Rebekah Mercer’s own August attack on Hillary using the newly released emails.

I don’t know what to make of these emails, except to say that a bunch of shitholes are trying to tell stories about them that leave key holes in the story.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/11/01/s ... e-stories/


COULD ROGER STONE BE CHARGED IN A CFAA CONSPIRACY?

November 1, 2018/13 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
I just did an extended rant on Twitter about Jonathan Chait’s latest attempt to pretend to be covering the Russian investigation. Basically, though, I was making the same point I made in this post: Mueller is not going to charge Roger Stone just for talking to WikiLeaks — or even having advance knowledge about what WikiLeaks planned to do. So to try to understand what Mueller is after, you need more than a Chait-like titillation that Stone exchanged some DMs with Guccifer 2.0 or, much later, WikiLeaks.

In response to that, a number of people suggested that Mueller might charge Stone for conspiracy to hack (under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) after the fact.

You don’t charge people for entering into a conspiracy after the crimes have been committed.

In fact, in one of Roger Stone’s denials, to Chuck Todd earlier this year, he tried to make this point — that he can’t be held responsible for any hacking because the hacking happened before he started interacting with the purported hacker, Guccifer 2.0.

Todd: Why did you reach out to Guccifer? Why did you reach out to Wikileaks?

Stone: First of all, my direct messages with Guccifer 2.0, if that’s who it really is, come six weeks, almost six weeks after the DNC emails had been published by Wikileaks. So in order to collude in their hacking, which I had nothing whatsoever to do with, one would have needed a time machine.


And (at least based on what we know) I believe that’s true, with respect to the March 19, 2016 hack of John Podesta and the May 25, 2016 exfiltration of the DNC emails. Nothing we know suggests Stone was part of a conspiracy with the Russians that early (though I don’t rule it out, particularly given his recruitment of Paul Manafort around the same time as the Podesta hack). Nothing we know says Stone can be shown to have entered into a conspiracy with Russia before the hack of Podesta or the DNC.

But it is not the case that no hacking occurred after Trump and his allies are suspected of entering into a conspiracy. Mueller provided a really remarkable example in the GRU indictment, showing that after Trump asked the Russians for Hillary’s emails, they launched a new wave of attacks on targets close to Hillary.

The Conspirators spearphished individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign throughout the summer of 2016. For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.


There’s another example in the indictment, involving Stone, which is more subtle.

The indictment summarizes key parts of Stone’s conversation with Guccifer 2.0, describing him as someone who “was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.” It describes how Guccifer 2.0 asked Stone if he could be of assistance, then asked him what he thought of a turnout model earlier released to and highlighted by Aaron Nevins (whom the indictment describes as a “a then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news”). As the indictment describes, Stone said that that turnout model was “pretty standard.”

The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back . . . do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow . . . it would be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”


It looked like this:

Image

Sometime in September — the indictment is coy about whether it happened before or after September 9 — Russian hackers accessed the DNC’s analytics on an AWS server and made a copy, thereby stealing it.

In or around September 2016, the Conspirators also successfully gained access to DNC computers hosted on a third-party cloud-computing service. These computers contained test applications related to the DNC’s analytics. After conducting reconnaissance, the Conspirators gathered data by creating backups, or “snapshots,” of the DNC’s cloud-based systems using the cloud provider’s own technology. The Conspirators then moved the snapshots to cloud-based accounts they had registered with the same service, thereby stealing the data from the DNC.


Accessing the Democratic analytics program updated daily — even if, as I’ve been told happened, the Democrats discovered and shut down this effort before Russians could obtain more valuable trend data — would presumably be far more valuable than leaking a targeting document dating to February 9. It would be far more damning, too, if that theft came after a close associate of the candidate (and the recently departed campaign manager) had poo-pooed the dated targeting data as standard fare, suggesting Trump’s team wanted something more valuable.

We don’t know what happened to that analytics data after Russia stole it. But the GRU indictment does show not only that Stone was interacting with Guccifer 2.0 before that theft in September, but that he may have even provided feedback about similar information before the theft of more valuable, timely turnout information.

That probably still doesn’t get you to a CFAA conspiracy by itself (which is a different matter than a ConFraudUS conspiracy based off accepting a thing of value from a foreigner, for which there’s more solid evidence). But the two events taken in tandem suggest Russian hackers may have been responding to feedback from both the candidate and his longtime political advisor Roger Stone. The question, then, is what kind of agreement that responsiveness took part in.

As I disclosed in 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.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:53 am

WHY DID REBEKAH MERCER AND STEVE BANNON START PREPARING AN ACCUSATION THAT HILLARY HAD CORRUPT TIES WITH RUSSIA STARTING ON MARCH 14, 2016?

October 30, 2018/25 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
Amid a lot of noise regarding the eight month investigation into Roger Stone (including that his assistant Jason Sullivan has been asked for the complete recordings of some conference calls he gave in 2016 and that he has passed two polygraphs that may not be asking the right questions), the WaPo has a detail of real interest. Mueller brought Steve Bannon back in for questioning Friday.

On Friday, Mueller’s team questioned Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief campaign strategist, about alleged claims Stone made privately about WikiLeaks before the group released emails allegedly hacked by Russian operatives, according to people familiar with the session.


I say that’s particularly interesting because of Bannon’s role in a series of events that come as close as anything to hint that Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi not only had advance knowledge that Wikileaks would release John Podesta’s emails, but may have known and planned for what those emails included.

STONE AND CORSI SEEMED TO EXPECT THAT THERE WOULD BE PODESTA EMAILS RELATING TO JOULE

As I noted in these two posts, Stone’s evolving public stories explaining his knowledge of the stolen documents seem to attempt to do three things:

Provide non-incriminating explanations for any foreknowledge of WikiLeaks — first pointing to Randy Credico and now to James Rosen

Offer explanations for discussions about Podesta that he may presume Mueller has that took place around August 14

Shift the focus away from Joule and the remarkable prescience with which the right wing anticipated that WikiLeaks would be able to advance an attack first rolled out on August 1

Basically, over the course of August, several key events happened: Stone first started publicly claiming foreknowledge of what WikiLeaks would drop, tried to launch a counterattack against public reporting on Paul Manafort’s sleazy ties to Russian and Russian-backed Ukrainian oligarchs, and then warned that it would soon be John Podesta’s time on the barrel. Those events came amidst two separate oppo research efforts: An early one initiated by Bannon and (Clinton Cash author) Peter Schweizer that accused Hillary of corrupt ties to Russia, largely through John Podesta’s role a company called Joule Unlimited. And then a later one (starting at 39), written by Corsi, trying to impugn Hillary because her campaign manager’s brother was so corrupt he had worked with Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and at Manafort’s instructions not properly declared the work. Stone seems to have wanted to conflate those two efforts, in part to suggest his August 21 tweet (and an August 15 one that may end up being just as interesting) referred to both brothers, not just John, and therefore not the earlier oppo effort.

What’s interesting, however, is that while Corsi claims Stone was quite interested in the Bannon/Schweizer effort and that his own report arose out of it, Stone was virtually silent about it up until the Podesta emails started dropping in October. In fact, the day before the Podesta emails dropped, Corsi renewed the focus on Joule, which in turn teed up a Stone report and then a Corsi one integrating but not linking emails released by WikiLeaks, followed four days later by a Corsi report actually showing how those WikiLeaks emails supported claims he and especially Stone had already made. While it is true that Stone doesn’t integrate evidence from the WikiLeaks emails until they were released, the analysis of those emails (Corsi’s) took place days after his first report on them.

One possible scenario to explain all that (and this is all speculative) is that Roger Stone, back when he was trying to find a way to respond to stories about Manafort, asked someone with access to the files Russia either already had or planned to share with WikiLeaks, and learned there were files in the dump pertaining to the attack already launched, focused on Joule. That is, Stone may have figured out that those emails were coming in August, and therefore held his focus on Joule until they were eventually released. In this scenario, then, when Stone predicted it would soon be Podesta’s time on the barrel, he may have been anticipating that the upcoming WikiLeaks dump would substantiate an attack his cronies had already made.

We know, for example, that in September 2016 he asked Randy Credico for help learning what Clinton emails on Libya — which Stone appears to have known or believed were in Assange’s hands but that had yet to be released — said. So it is consistent to assume that Stone tried to learn and plan for what was coming at other times. And his October 13 Joule attack is, as far as I’m aware, the one for which there is the most public evidence that he did plan the later attack.

THAT JOULE ATTACK WAS PART OF A REPORT THAT REMARKABLY ANTICIPATED THE NEED TO ACCUSE HILLARY OF RUSSIAN TIES

But all that raises another question I’ve been pondering: Why did Bannon and Schweizer already have an attack claiming Hillary had corrupt ties to Russia, ready to release on August 1? The timing was key: the report came out just over a week after the WikiLeaks DNC dump made the question of Russia’s tampering to defeat Hillary really pressing, and just days after Trump asked Russia to go find more Hillary emails. It also came as Manafort would have had the first rumors that stories of his own Russian ties would break.

The question is all the more important given that this was not a last minute report.

Indeed, according to the footnotes, the report was started in March 2016, even before John Podesta was hacked. The Obama White House fact sheet on that Administration’s attempted reset with Russia was accessed March 14, days before Podesta was hacked, and again on March 18, the day before Podesta was spearphished.

“U.S.-Russia Relations: “Reset” Fact Sheet.” The White House. June 24, 2010. Accessed March 14, 2016. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-of ... fact-sheet.

[snip]

“U.S.-Russia Relations: ‘Reset’ Fact Sheet.” The White House. June 24, 2010. Accessed March 18, 2016. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-of ... -factsheet.


Some of the Hillary emails released by the State Department were accessed on March 28.

“Search Hillary Clinton’s Emails.” WSJ. March 1, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2016. http://graphics.wsj.com/hillary-clinton ... documents/.


Reports on Viktor Vekselberg Silicon Valley’s initiative were accessed in March, too.

24 “Skolkovo Innovation Center.” Skolkovo Innovation Center. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://in.rbth.com/skolkovo.

25 “Cisco Commits $1 Billion for Multi-year Investment in Skolkovo.” ThinkRUSSIA. June 27, 2010. Accessed March 24, 2016. http://www.thinkrussia.com/business-eco ... t-skolkovo.


WikiLeaks Cablegate files on the Vekselberg effort going back to 2009 were accessed on April 27 (the day after George Papadopoulos learned the Russians had emails on Hillary they wanted to dump in an effort to help Trump).

“Russia Moving Into High Gear on Nanotechnology; Actively Seeking Cooperation with U.S.,” U.S. State Department Cable. February 11, 2009. Wikileaks. Accessed April 27, 2016. https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09MOSCOW333_a.html.


Some of the Podesta Joule work was done in April.

Podesta, John. “Public Financial Disclosure Report.” Accessed April 20, 2016. https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentclo ... e-form.pdf. ”

Joule Unlimited, Inc.” Portfolio Companies. Accessed April 06, 2016


There were also a string of emails that would have come from officially released State emails (but which don’t include access dates; remember that most of those emails came in response to a Jason Leopold FOIA but WikiLeaks hosted them to great fanfare).

88 Mills, Cheryl D. “My List.” E-mail. July 27, 2009.

89 Podesta, John. “Calling.” E-mail. June 2, 2009.

90 Talbott, Strobe. “RE: Speech for Tomorrow’s Meeting.” E-mail. July 9, 2009.

91 Abedin, Huma. “Podesta.” E-mail. August 21, 2009.

92 Podesta, John. “[redacted].” E-mail. July 25, 2009;


One of the last access dates was May 10, 2016.

Nowak, David. “Key Skolkovo Partners Microsoft, Siemens, Reiterate Commitment to Project.” Skolkovo Foundation. November 13, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2016.


Unless I missed something, there are just three finishing touches added after that date, in mid-July.

“Fact Sheet-U.S.-Russia Business Summit.” Department of Commerce. June 25, 2010. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://2010-2014.commerce.gov/news/fact ... ummit.html.

[snip]

“State in €70m Aids Partnership in Africa.” The Irish Times. October 25, 2006. Accessed July 15, 2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/state-in ... a-1.798426. “Press Release: President Clinton to Visit Pediatric AIDS Clinic in Mozambique, Beginning Trip to Africa to Focus on AIDS Care.” Clinton Foundation. June 17, 2005. Accessed July 15, 2016. https://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/ ... e-beg.html.


All of this suggests that, by May 10, 2016, the report was just sitting there at Rebekah Mercer funded Government Accountability Institute, waiting for the right opportunity to accuse Hillary of ties to Russia; virtually the entire report was done before Democrats confirmed they had been hacked by Russia, and all the research was done before WikiLeaks dumped the DNC emails.

Ms. Mercer and a person close to her had a brief conversation regarding Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails in June 2016, a month after Mr. Cruz had dropped out of the race, the person said. The person said they discussed whether it would make sense to try to access and release those emails, but ultimately decided that looking for them would create “major legal liabilities” and would be a “terrible idea.”


REBEKAH MERCER KEPT TRYING TO WORK WITH WIKILEAKS ON OPTIMIZING EMAILS

That Rebekah Mercer was funding this attack (one that started long before the Mercers started backing Trump) is all the more interesting given several different efforts she or her employee made to reach out to WikiLeaks. There’s Alexander Nix’s offer to help WikiLeaks organize emails we weren’t supposed to know about yet in June 2016.

Mr. Nix responded that he had reached out to Mr. Assange two months earlier—in June 2016, before Cambridge Analytica had started working for the Trump campaign—to ask him to share Clinton-related emails so the company could aid in disseminating them, the person familiar with the email exchange said. He said Mr. Assange had turned him down. That outreach and subsequent rejection was confirmed by Mr. Assange earlier this week on Twitter.


Also in June, Ms. Mercer had a discussion about accessing Hillary’s deleted emails.

Ms. Mercer and a person close to her had a brief conversation regarding Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails in June 2016, a month after Mr. Cruz had dropped out of the race, the person said. The person said they discussed whether it would make sense to try to access and release those emails, but ultimately decided that looking for them would create “major legal liabilities” and would be a “terrible idea.”


Then, again in August, Mercer asked Nix — or the GAI, the same outlet that did the Hillary Russia attack — about helping WikiLeaks with emails.

On Aug. 26, 2016, roughly a month after Mr. Trump formally became the Republican nominee, Ms. Mercer passed along to Mr. Nix an email she had received from a person she met at an event supporting Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), whose presidential campaign she had initially supported during the GOP primaries, the person familiar with the exchange said. The email’s author suggested to Ms. Mercer that the Trump campaign or an allied super PAC ought to better index the WikiLeaks emails to make them more searchable, the person said.

Ms. Mercer forwarded the email to Mr. Nix, whose firm had started working for the Trump campaign in July 2016 after previously working for the Cruz campaign, according to the person. In the email, Ms. Mercer asked Mr. Nix whether the suggested organization of the emails was something Cambridge Analytica or the Government Accountability Institute—a conservative nonprofit that focuses on investigative research—could do, the person said. Ms. Mercer has sat on the board of the institute, which has received funding from her family.


Clearly, Mercer was thinking a lot about how to optimize the emails Russia had stolen.

Steve Bannon would know, at a minimum, about how he and Schweizer anticipated the need to project Russian corruption onto Hillary and her campaign manager way back in March 2016. But he also might know whether, in the wake of the GAI report, Stone or someone else got a preview of coming attractions, other emails they might later use to return to the Joule attack.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/10/30/w ... h-14-2016/


on to the plot to smear Mueller

seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:59 pm wrote:
Ben Collins

A company called “Surefire Intelligence” has ties to this Mueller smear.

Jacob Wohl denied having ties to Surefire.

Surefire’s official phone number redirects to a voicemail box registered to Jacob's mom.


Jacob gave us comment at first, but went quiet when we told him Surefire Intelligence's phone number redirected to a voicemail account registered to his mom.

https://twitter.com/oneunderscore__/sta ... 4905558016



Mueller refers sex assault scheme targeting him to FBI for investigation

Oct. 30, 2018 / 1:34 PM CDT
By Tom Winter, Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins

Special counsel Robert Mueller last week asked the FBI to investigate a possible scam in which a woman would make false claims that he had sexually assaulted her, after several political reporters were contacted about doing a story on the alleged assault.

Multiple reporters were contacted over the past few weeks by a woman who said she had been offered money to say she was sexually assaulted by Mueller, the special counsel who is probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. After investigating, according to the political website Hill Reporter, the reporters each independently determined the assault allegation was likely a hoax and that it was unclear if the woman had been offered money to make the claim. The reporters then contacted the special counsel's office to report that they had been approached about the scheme.

"When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the special counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation," said Peter Carr, spokesperson for the special counsel.


While investigating the possibility of a hoax, the Hill Reporter's Ed Krassenstein, who was one of the reporters contacted, said he received threats, including a text message reading, "You're in over your head…. Drop this" which included his and another editor's home addresses.

Around the same time reporters began to be contacted about the assault allegations, Jack Burkman, a Republican lobbyist and radio host, began promoting, via his Facebook page, that he is investigating sexual misconduct and alcohol-related allegations against Mueller. On Tuesday morning he tweeted that he would hold a press conference two days later to "reveal the first of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's sex assault victims."

Over the past two years, Burkman has peddled a separate, evolving conspiracy theory that has blamed several different wild plots for the death of Democratic staffer Seth Rich, who was shot on a Washington street in 2016 during an apparent botched robbery.

Krassenstein told NBC News he reached out to the special counsel’s office on Tuesday telling them what he knew about the sex assault scheme.

He also gave NBC News the phone numbers used by the woman alleging she was offered money to make the allegations, which were both disconnected.

Krassenstein and other journalists also pointed to Jacob Wohl, a disgraced hedge fund manager turned pro-Trump conspiracy theorist and Surefire Intelligence, a company connected to him, as being involved with Burkman’s alleged plot.

“I gave Burkman a call. I wanted to know who ‘Surefire Intelligence’ is. That’s when he told me about Jacob Wohl,” said Krassenstein. “To me, this was all a setup from somebody trying to discredit the media.”

Early this morning, Wohl tweeted, “Several media sources tell me that a scandalous story about Mueller is breaking tomorrow. Should be interesting. Stay tuned!”

Reached by direct message on Twitter, Wohl denied having a hand in any plot to pay women making false allegations against Mueller. “I don't have any involvement in any investigations of any kind. I'm not quite that cool,” he said.

The allegations still took off as viral posts on far-right news sites known for spreading fake news and disinformation tied to Wohl. Gateway Pundit, where Wohl is employed as a writer, touted their “exclusive documents” about a “very credible witness.”

In a statement, Surefire Intelligence tweeted that it “does not comment on current, past or future operations, nor the lack thereof."

Wohl declined to comment on his involvement with Surefire Intelligence. However, his email is listed in the domain records for Surefire Intelligence’s website and calls to a number listed on the Surefire Intelligence website went to a voicemail message which provided another phone number, listed in public records as belonging to Wohl’s mother.

Wohl stopped responding to NBC News after being told Surefire’s official phone number redirects to his mother’s voicemail.

Tom Winter is a producer and reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit based in New York, covering crime, courts, terrorism, and financial fraud on the East Coast.

Brandy Zadrozny

Brandy Zadrozny is an investigative reporter for NBC News.

Ben Collins

Ben Collins covers disinformation, extremism and the internet for NBC News.

Adiel Kaplan contributed.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justic ... on-n926301




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that "confidential raw intelligence document" from Surefire is hilariously bad

GATEWAY PUNDIT :roll:

BREAKING REPORT — **EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS** : Special Counsel and Former FBI Director Robert Mueller Accused of Rape By ‘Very Credible Witness ‘



Special Counsel Robert Mueller was accused by a very credible witness today of rape at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City in 2010.

A formal press conference is scheduled for Thursday at noon in Washington DC.

Rreporter Jack Burkman tweeted this out today.


Top articles1/5READ MORE
BREAKING REPORT — **EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS** : Special Counsel and

The Gateway Pundit obtained a copy of the charges.

What we know: The woman is a “very credible witness.” Her story are corroborated. The incident happened in 2010 in New York City. The woman is a professional.

We will post the document shortly.

The Mueller apologists are already trashing the accuser — and don’t even know who she is!

UPDATE:Here are the documents.




STAY TUNED — WE KNOW WHAT THE LIBERAL MEDIA IS REPORTING ON THIS
THERE IS MUCH MORE TO COME….

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https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2018/1 ... e-witness/



SOME BACKGROUND STUFF

https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1 ... 5934011397

https://twitter.com/oneunderscore__



Josh Russell


@josh_emerson
Follow Follow @josh_emerson
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If you have ever wanted to track exactly how disinformation moves through the right wing ecosystem now is the time.

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Gaining traction over on reddit (They know it's fake and just don't care)
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https://twitter.com/josh_emerson/status ... 1665136640




Thread by @ScottMStedman: ".@Jack_Burkman is behind a GOP scheme to offer women money to make up stories about Robert Mueller's alleged sexual harassment. The Special […]"

Scott Stedman

.@Jack_Burkman is behind a GOP scheme to offer women money to make up stories about Robert Mueller's alleged sexual harassment. The Special Counsel's office has referred the matter to the FBI. I was privy to this scheme. This thread will detail my experience.
2 weeks ago, I, along with other journalists were set an email from a woman who alleged that she was a former colleague of Mueller. She said that Jack Burkman, via an intermediary, offered her tens of thousands to make up sexual assault claims against Mueller.
I found the woman to be unreliable, she wouldn't get on the phone, she wouldn't give me any other contact information. She did however give me the phone number of the intermediary who allegedly offered this money on behalf of Burkman.
The intermediary, in messages to me (see attached) confirmed the story. I don't know the true identity of this person OR the person who sent the original email.

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I discussed this with other journalists, mainly @NatashaBertrand, but I concluded that this was an effort to discredit the media. However, it appears now that Burkman is trying to move forward with these claims. The Special Counsel's office has referred the matter to the FBI.
I don't know what to make of what has transpired. I didn't find the woman reliable. I found that the intermediary was oddly eager to share details. I came public with this story because Jacob Wohl teased that this was coming. He appears involved in the campaign as well.
I faced a huge internal struggle here. I didn't want to give these people any credence, but when I learned that Burkman and Wohl were going through with this, I felt the need to speak up.
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1057 ... 38434.html


More
NEW: Another woman, @jentaub, was contacted on October 22 by a man claiming to work for Surefire Intelligence, who offered to pay her to discuss her "past encounters" with Mueller. (She's never met Mueller.) Story has been updated:



Mueller Wants the FBI to Look at a Scheme to Discredit Him

The special counsel says a woman was offered money to fabricate sexual-harassment claims.

Natasha Bertrand is a staff writer at The Atlantic where she covers national security and the intelligence community.
1:14 PM ET

FBI Director Robert Mueller listens to questioning while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)," on Capitol Hill in Washington September 17, 2008.Molly Riley / Reuters
This story has been updated.

An alleged scheme to pay off women to fabricate sexual-assault allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been referred to the FBI for further investigation, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office told The Atlantic. “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” the spokesman, Peter Carr, told me in an email on Tuesday.

The special counsel’s office’s attention to this scheme and its decision to release a rare statement about it indicates the seriousness with which the office is taking the purported plot to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation.

Read: The partisan, nihilist case against Robert Mueller

The special counsel’s office confirmed that the scheme was brought to its attention by several journalists who were told about it by a woman alleging that she herself had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a firm called Surefire Intelligence—which was in turn hired by GOP activist named Jack Burkman—“to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.” The woman told journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained, that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974, but that she “didn’t see” him much. “When I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate,” the woman wrote. The law firm told me on late Tuesday afternoon, however, that it has “no record of this individual working for our firm.”


The woman explained that she was contacted by a man “with a British accent” who wanted to ask her “a couple questions about Robert Mueller, whom I worked with when I was a paralegal for Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in 1974. I asked him who he was working for, and he told me his boss was some sort of politics guy in Washington named Jack Burkman. I reluctantly told [him] that I had only worked with Mr. Mueller for a short period of time, before leaving that firm to have my first son.”

She continued: “In more of an effort to get him to go away than anything else, I asked him what in the hell he wanted me to do. He said that we could not talk about it on the phone, and he asked me to download an app on my phone called Signal, which he said was more secure. Reluctantly, I downloaded the app and he called me on that app a few minutes later. He said (and I will never forget exactly what it was) ‘I want you to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller, and I want you to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.’” The man “offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do” it, she wrote. “He knew exactly how much credit card debt I had, right down to the dollar, which sort of freaked me out.”

Surefire Intelligence describes itself as “a private intel agency that designs and executes bespoke solutions for businesses and individuals who face complex business and litigation challenges.” Surefire’s domain records list an email for another pro-Trump conspiracy theorist, Jacob Wohl, who began hyping a “scandalous” Mueller story on Tuesday morning. Wohl told The Daily Beast that Burkman had hired Surefire to assist with his investigation into Mueller’s past, but denied knowing anything about the firm’s involvement in an alleged plot to fabricate allegations against Mueller when asked why his email address appeared in the domain records. He did not respond when asked by NBC why a number listed on Surefire’s website referred callers to another number that is listed in public records as belonging to Wohl’s mother.

Conor Friedersdorf: The bad faith of a right-wing sting operation

The woman was not willing to speak to the reporters by phone, according to Scott Stedman, one of the reporters who received the letter. So portions of her story have gone uncorroborated, and her identity has not been independently confirmed. But she is not the only woman who received an inquiry from someone claiming to be investigating Mueller’s past for Surefire Intelligence.

Jennifer Taub, an associate professor at Vermont Law School, received an email from a man using a "Surefire Intelligence" email address around the same time, on October 22, which Taub forwarded to me on Tuesday. "It's my understanding that you may have had some past encounters with Robert Mueller,” he told Taub. “I would like to discuss those encounters with you.” (Taub told me she has never had any encounters with Mueller, though she does appear on CNN at times as an expert commentator.)

“I believe a basic telephone call, for which I would compensate you at whatever rate you see fit (inside reason), would be a good place to start,” the man continued. “My organization is conducting an examination of Robert Mueller's past. Tell me a decent method to contact you by telephone (or Signal, which would be ideal) and a beginning rate to talk with you about all encounters you've had with Special Counsel Mueller. We would likewise pay you for any references that you may have. Lastly, I would appreciate your discretion here, as this is a very sensitive matter." Taub forwarded the email the special counsel’s office, noting that she did not plan to respond.

Around the time that Taub and the other woman began receiving these calls and emails from Surefire, Jack Burkman released a video on his Facebook page claiming, without evidence, that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women.” On Tuesday, the day the special counsel’s office revealed that it had referred the woman’s claims to the FBI, Burkman tweeted a similar allegation.

In an emailed statement, Burkman denied knowing the woman who originally alerted journalists to the alleged scheme and called the FBI referral “a joke, mueller wants to deflect attention from his sex assault troubles by attacking me.” He added in a separate email that “on Thursday 1200 NOON ROSSYLN HOLIDAY INN we will present a very credible witness who will allege that Mr. Mueller committed against her a sexual assault.” Mueller’s spokesman reiterated that the claims are false.

Emily Yoffe: Does anyone still take both sexual assault and due process seriously?

Burkman, a conservative radio host, is known for spreading conspiracy theories. He launched his own private investigation into the murder of the DNC staffer Seth Rich, dangled uncorroborated claims of sexual harassment against a sitting member of Congress, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistle-blowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election. He also promoted legislation that he authored—despite not being a member of Congress—that would ban gays from playing in the National Football League, and has hosted two fundraisers for Rick Gates—the former Trump campaign official who was indicted by Mueller late last year.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... bi/574411/


seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 30, 2018 3:39 pm wrote:Image

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Lachlan Markay

More! At least three supposed Surefire employees, including "station chiefs" in DC and Tel Aviv, use fake LinkedIn headshots. The two station chiefs' pics are actually of Israeli model Bar Rafaeli and Sigourney Weaver's husband


Inside the Crazy Cabal Trying to Smear Robert Mueller

A Seth Rich conspiracy pusher and fringe online figures appear to be working behind the scenes.

10.30.18 2:57 PM ET
One of the shadier characters in politics, along with a number of fringe internet figures, appears to be behind an attempt to pay women to accuse Special Counsel Robert Mueller of sexual assault.

The scheme became public on Tuesday when Mueller’s staff formally asked the FBI to launch an investigation into the matter. But for weeks it has been simmering below the surface, with numerous reporters having been tipped off by a woman who claimed she had been approached with promises of cash.

At the center of the scheme is publicity-hungry Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman, who has repeatedly dabbled in internet conspiracy theories in the past, including promoting the idea that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was killed by deep-state government operatives.

Burkman denied involvement in any attempt to pay people to frame or accuse Mueller. But he also claims that he has witnesses who will expose the Special Counsel as a sexual harasser and has scheduled a Thursday press conference in Northern Virginia to introduce his first accuser.

“We’re going to prove that he is a drunk and a sexual abuser,” Burkman told The Daily Beast.

Mueller has undergone extensive background checks during a career that has included a stint as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Burkman has not any offered any evidence at all of his accusations and his previous “bombshell” press conferences on other stories have become notorious flops in Washington media circles. In July, he promised that he had a whistleblower who would prove the government killed Rich. But Burkman’s witness never showed in person, instead calling in anonymously via speakerphone — a stunt that enraged Burkman’s fellow conspiracy theorists.

This isn’t Burkman’s first attempt to get publicity for a sexual assault allegation either. In late 2017, with the MeToo movement kicking off, Burkman claimed that he represented a woman who would accuse a congressman of sexual assault. But with the press on hand for the revelations, Burkman had to concede that his client refused to appear. Instead, Burkman offered everyone a “big apology” for wasting their time.



Burkman has proved eager to attach himself to a wide array of causes that have the possibility of getting him on cameras. He once introduced legislation (which lobbyists don’t formally do) to get gay players banned from the NFL—a campaign that sparked a sharp rebuke from his gay brother.

Burkman’s latest gambit has far higher stakes than his previous ones; but it too seems similarly bound for self-destruction. Allegations that he was offering to pay women to accuse Mueller come from an uncorroborated email sent to a number of media outlets, including The Daily Beast, by a person who identified herself as Florida resident “Lorraine Parsons.”

In her emails, Parsons claimed that Burkman and his associates were pressuring her to “make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller” and to “sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.” In exchange, she said, they were offering tens of thousands of dollars. Parsons repeatedly declined to talk to The Daily Beast on the phone, and internet searches have failed to provide any background on her. Parsons didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Asked last week if he was paying women to accuse Mueller, Burkman said he couldn’t comment. But on Tuesday, Burkman insisted that he had not offered remuneration.

“Be careful with the internet,” Burkman told The Daily Beast. “It’s a mirage, it’s just a wasteland of crazy stuff.”

The rumors surrounding the Parsons email drew the attention of internet-famous brothers Ed and Brian Krassenstein, who have risen to prominence in the Trump era by tweeting viral-ready attacks on the president. The Krassensteins said they also received the Parsons email. But after trying to investigate it, they claim that Ed Krassenstein received a threatening message warning him to “drop this” attached to a message listing his home address.

In his efforts to dig up dirt on Mueller, Burkman appears to have enlisted outside help. Jacob Wohl, a right wing Twitter personality and a self-described friend of Burkman, said Burkman had told him he had hired Matthew Cohen, who is a managing partner at the private investigations company Surefire Intelligence, to assist with the investigation.

Surefire is a bit of a mystery. Since-deleted Craigslist advertisements for the company said it “was founded by two members of Israel's elite intelligence community.” The ads billed services including “counter intelligence,” “private spies,” and “ethical hackers.”

Some LinkedIn profiles for supposed employees of the company use fake profile headshots. Talia Yaniv, whose page listes her as Surefire’s “Tel Aviv station chief,” uses a photo of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli. The company’s “station chief” in DC uses a photo of Sigourney Weaver’s husband. And its deputy director of operations ripped off a headshot from a Michigan pastor.

Among the little public information available on the company is a pair of suspiciously vague posts on the publishing platform Medium. Both posts were written to appear as journalistic exposes of the company but neither does much beyond extolling its supposed expertise and impressive client list—without naming any of the clients. Both the posts were written by self-described journalists whose Twitter accounts were created in the last three months, and neither has done much beyond promote their Medium posts on Surefire.

The website lists offices in Los Angeles and nearby Irvine, CA, Washington D.C., New York, Tel Aviv, London, and Zurich. All of the U.S. phone numbers are Google Voice contacts that redirect callers to a single phone number with an area code corresponding to Orange County, CA, from which Wohl’s family also hails.

After about a dozen attempted calls to that number, someone finally picked up. The man, who refused to identify himself, would not discuss Surefire. “I don’t know, man, I can’t help you with that,” he said. Asked again who was speaking, the man hung up.

Surefire’s website domain data lists an email address bearing Wohl’s name and that of a legally suspect financial firm he led, NeX Management. Surefire’s website also contains images uploaded to the same Google cloud account as images uploaded to the now-defunct websites of NeX Management and two other asset management firms that Wohl ran, Montgomery Assets and Beverly Hills Management.

Wohl, who hinted at the Mueller allegations on Monday night, denied any knowledge of or involvement with Surefire. “Dude,” he told The Daily Beast in a Twitter direct message, “I work for an influence marketing company in L.A.”

Shortly after Burkman announced his press conference, David Wohl, Jacob’s father and a conservative pundit, amplified the news. “Uh oh,” he wrote. “The Witch Hunt is in jeopardy!”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-th ... r?ref=home



The @SurefireIntel website contains images uploaded to the same Google cloud account as images uploaded to websites for three of Wohl's asset management firms https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-th ... rt-mueller
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Yashar Ali

13 days ago I received this tip alleging an attempt to pay off women to make up accusations of sexual misconduct against Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Other reporters received the same email. Now the Special Counsel's office is telling us they've referred the matter to the FBI

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Aric Toler


Hahahahahhaha Jacob Wohl (the "LA hipster cafe" guy) is tied to the DNS records for the place that did the "investigation" for this thing. He used jacob.wohl@nexmanagement.com when setting up the site.
https://surefireintelligence.com.cutestat.com/

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Jane Mayer


Odd. Jacob Wohl says he doesn't know nuttin' about Surefire Intelligence, the firm tied to the bizarre Mueller allegations. Take a look at the photos below of Mathhew Cohen, head of 'Surefire,' and of Jacob Wohl.
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seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:25 pm wrote:HOLY SHITE! :D

GateWayPundit has updated their article on Mueller....... and thrown JacobAWohl
under the bus.



70843D1F-EBB3-424F-B9F4-183EDCCA1E5E.jpeg



Mueller Smear Pushed by Pro-Trump Activists Falls Apart at Press Conference
Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman struggled to explain even basic details of their allegations—like the spelling of the accuser’s name.
Will Sommer

11.01.18 3:30 PM ET

John Middlebrook/AP
A press conference intended to publicize sexual assault claims against special counsel Robert Mueller collapsed in spectacular fashion on Thursday, after the pro-Trump operatives behind the event failed to demonstrate a grasp of even basic details about their accuser or explain why they had repeatedly lied about their project.

Mueller has asked the FBI to investigate the effort from publicity-hungry Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman and pro-Trump Twitter personality Jacob Wohl, which has been dogged by accusations that they offered women money to accuse Mueller of sexual misconduct.

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But the prospect of an FBI investigation was the least of Wohl and Burkman’s problems on Thursday.

Throughout their 45-minute press conference, the two men repeatedly contradicted themselves and each other, giving cryptic non-answers that convinced approximately zero people in attendance that their allegations were anywhere close to the truth.

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It began much like it ended.

Poorly.

After initially promising that the accuser, a fashion designer named Carolyne Cass, would appear alongside them, Burkman and Wohl seemed to change their minds by the time reporters assembled inside the dimly lit Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, Virginia.

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Cass had “panicked,” they said, after arriving in Washington and quickly took another flight to an unnamed location.

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Without an in-person accuser, Wohl and Burkman instead offered a signed affidavit from her that claimed Mueller raped her in a New York hotel room on Aug. 2, 2010.

No other evidence was given, aside from a print-out Wohl had distributed that noted Mueller had been in New York on Aug. 5, 2010. Left unsaid: That was three days after the alleged attack.

Additionally, they accused Mueller’s team of “leaking” a Washington Post story that undermined their tale. The report showed Mueller was in Washington on Aug. 2 serving a jury duty summons.

Despite their claim of an exhaustive investigation of the allegations, Wohl and Burkman failed to spell the accuser’s name correctly.

Cass’ first name is misspelled as “Carolyn,” without an “e” in the affidavit, and Burkman insisted that her name was spelled without an “e” when asked by reporters. Only after repeated pressing did Burkman concede that her name is actually “Carolyne.”

“Even the Declaration of Independence had misspellings,” Burkman quipped.

Burkman claims to represent Cass, and he said she hasn’t reported her allegations to New York police.

Other allegations the duo had made earlier fell apart as well. Burkman had previously claimed that he had seven women willing to accuse Mueller. Wohl eventually conceded that they did not have seven women with accusations against Mueller.

Allegations that accusers were being paid have swirled around the effort. In October, a number of media outlets, including The Daily Beast, received an email from a “Lorraine Parsons” who said Burkman’s associates were offering her tens of thousands of dollars to accuse Mueller. And on Tuesday, Vermont Law School professor Jen Taub also told The Atlantic that she’d been offered money to accuse Mueller.

Wohl and Burkman were reluctant to explain how Wohl, who claimed he first worked with Cass on an unrelated estate issue, was first in contact with their accuser. They also failed to explain where Mueller’s FBI security detail was when he was supposedly assaulting a woman.

And Wohl was cryptic about other details, too—he repeatedly declined to say whether he has a private investigator license. Eventually, Wohl said he sometimes works with licensed private investigators. Wohl’s name isn’t in a database of licensed private investigators maintained by the state of California, where he lives.

The two men even declined to say how they knew each other.

Burkman said only that their meeting was “synergistic.”

Wohl, who is better known as a pro-Trump partisan on Twitter than any sort of sleuth, initially tried to hide his role in the effort. Wohl insisted earlier this week that he wasn’t the head of “Surefire Intelligence,” the previously little known investigations firm that compiled Cass’ allegations.

Surefire at first claimed to be a group of ex-intelligence agents from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. But Wohl was forced to concede otherwise after a number of digital footprints, including clues on Surefire’s website and a company phone number that linked to Wohl’s mother, proved he was behind it.

A number of LinkedIn accounts for the firm’s “staff” were also revealed as stolen headshots from models and Hollywood celebrities. But Wohl, who insisted he wasn’t behind the fake LinkedIn pages, said he had to lie about the firm for investigative purposes.

“It was important that I preserved my anonymity,” Wohl said.

The allegations from Wohl and Burkman have struggled to gain traction even in the right-wing media. The Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump site that Wohl writes for and which frequently runs hoaxes as actual news, initially published Cass’ affidavit.

But it has since backtracked, pulling down the document and stressing that the post was Wohl’s responsibility alone. A reporter from Gateway Pundit asked Wohl tough questions at the press conference, suggesting that even his sometime -employer isn’t convinced of his claims. After the press conference, Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft published a post saying the site had “suspended our relationship” with Wohl.

The event was reminiscent of other failed Burkman press conferences, including several he’s held on the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. Burkman attached himself to the investigation of the former Democratic National Committee staffer’s murder in 2016 but has frequently failed to make good on his claims. Burkman’s previous flops included a botched press conference in which he promised and failed to deliver a deep-state representative who would say Rich was killed by government hit men.

BUSH-LEAGUE SHITSHOW
Seth Rich Conspiracy Theorist’s Event Fizzles Spectacularly

Will Sommer

At times, the event resembled a real-life version of the Twitter fights Wohl often engages in. Wohl complained that someone online had photoshopped a picture of him turning into a corncob—a reference to a popular tweet about someone doubling down in the face of internet embarrassment.

Burkman defended Wohl, 20, from charges that he doesn’t have enough experience to investigate such a serious charge against Mueller.

“I think Jacob is a child prodigy who has eclipsed Mozart,” Burkman said.

A heckler cut in, yelling that Wohl couldn’t even open an eTrade account—a reference to Wohl’s lifetime ban from futures trading, a penalty he earned in a previous career as a teenage hedge fund operator.

In the face of unanswered questions from the press, Burkman and Wohl headed to their car followed by reporters. But Burkman promised more details to come at an unspecified future press conference.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/mueller-s ... conference



Jack Burkman & Jacob Wohl’s Story Exposed Through Exclusive Conversations
BY ED KRASSENSTEIN & BRIAN KRASSENSTEIN November 1, 2018


Individual claiming to be employed by Surefire Intelligence knew of Lorraine Parsons prior to the story going public.
Jack Burkman claimed that Surefire Intelligence’s ‘partners have actually worked for Trump’.
Jack Burkman linked the name Lorraine Parsons to his Mueller Investigation before Parson’s allegations went public.
Jack Burkman seemingly implied that he might represent Parsons.
Jacob Wohl claimed to only know of Jack Burkman from his run-ins with him at Trump meet-ups and denied working on a Mueller investigation.
It was just two days ago that Hill Reporter broke a bizarre story about an alleged attempt to pay a woman named Lorraine Parsons to make sexual assault accusations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman and conservative Twitter troll Jacob Wohl have been tied to these suspicious allegations as well. Lorraine Parsons doesn’t appear to be a real person.

Now Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl claim to have a “credible” accuser who is apparently coming forward with what they refer to as legitimate sexual assault allegations against Robert Mueller. The alleged accuser’s name is Carolyne Cass.

Jacob Wohl has also admitted to being the man behind the suspicious company named “Surefire Intelligence”, and says that he nor Jack Burkman have any idea who Lorraine Parsons is.


The problem with these claims, which were made by the two men in a video released today by a journalist named Alicia Powe, and via a press conference held in Virginia, is that Hill Reporter has had conversations with both Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl over the past 10 days, and their statements seem to contradict the story that they are telling today.

Our Original Contact with Lorraine Parsons

After being contacted by Lorraine Parsons, who later told me that her maiden name was “Weaver” and that she lived in a gated community in Fort Myers, Florida called ‘Palms of Monterey‘, we not only reported the allegations to the Special Counsel’s office but Brian Krassenstein and I also began an investigation of our own for HillReporter. The initial email was sent to us by Parsons on October 18.


On October 22, Parsons reached out to us again with an apparent text message that she received from a number which she claimed offered her money in exchange for a sworn testimony alleging sexual misconduct by Robert Mueller. She claimed that the individual who sent her this text was a man named Bill Christensen who was working on behalf of Jack Burkman, and that the message was sent to her on October 19 at 3:05PM. The area code for this number was (703), which belongs to an area in Arlington, Virginia and surrounding areas. Note: Wohl and Burkman’s press conference today was in Arlington, Virginia as well and Burkman’s phone number we reached him at also comes from the (703) area code.

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Screenshot of a text message sent to Hill Reporter on October 22,2018 from a woman claiming to be Lorraine Weaver Parsons.
Brian Krassenstein Receives Veiled Threats From a Man Calling From a Phone Number Provided by Lorraine Parsons, Claiming to be From Surefire Intelligence

We called the phone number from the text message above that Parsons provided to us, which was from a man named Bill Christensen, according to Parsons (number redacted). Upon calling this number, we reached a voicemail box and left a message. Several minutes later we received a text message from this same exact number, which read, “You’re in over your head Brian. Drop this.” The text message, seen below, also included a screenshot of both of our home addresses, in what appears to have been a veiled threat trying to intimidate us into dropping our investigation.

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Text message Hill Reporter received on October 22, prior to receiving a call from a man from this same number claiming to be “Mike Wilcox” of “Surefire Intelligence”.
About 20 minutes later, a man called us from another similar number also originating from the (703) area code. He identified himself as Mike Wilcox of ‘Surefire Intelligence’ and confirmed that he was aware of “Lorraine Parsons”. Below is a transcript of the call:


Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: Brian I want you to drop this right now. You are in way over your head. Stop this right now!Hill Reporter’s Brian Krassenstein: Excuse me, what was that?Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: That’s really all I have to say Brian.Hill Reporter’s Brian Krassenstein: I’m not really sure what you mean.Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: I don’t think there is much more to say, thank you.Hill Reporter’s Brian Krassenstein: Who is this again?Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: My name is Mike Wilcox.Hill Reporter’s Brian Krassenstein: Ok, I’m not following you though.Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: I don’t think there is anything else to say I just said everything I needed to say.Hill Reporter’s Brian Krassenstein: Who do you work for?Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: I am the head of PR at Surefire Intelligence. You were in contact with one of our people, Bill Christensen, and I know you have tried to speak with Lorraine Parsons.Hill Reporter’s Brian Krassenstein: Yes, yes I have. So what’s wrong with that? I’m just curious. You are telling me to stop contacting her?Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: Yeah, and beyond that I can’t really comment on any past, future or current operations.Hill Reporter’s Brian Krassenstein: So I’m in over my head? What do you mean by that?Surefire’s “Head of PR” Mike Wilcox: That’s all I have to say Brian (Hangs up).
This conversation doesn’t only show the intimidation tactics used by the man who alleges to be working with Jacob Wohl’s Surefire Intelligence, but it also shows that on October 22nd, the same day that Parsons emailed us and other reporters, Surefire Intelligence apparently was well aware of Lorraine Parsons, and in fact appeared to be worried that we were digging into her. Not only that, but the text message we received from the same number as the one Parsons claimed to had been offered $75,000 from confirms that Surefire Intelligence was likely either staging a fake text message exchange between themselves and Parsons, or they actually did try to offer this unverified woman cash in exchange for her sworn statement against Mr. Mueller.

Ed Krassenstein’s Conversation with Jack Burkman on October 22, 2018, Where Burkman Claims Surefire Intelligence’s Partners have Worked for Trump :

After receiving these threats, we contacted the Special Counsel’s office and began taking meticulous notes and documenting everything that occurred from thereon out, including a phone conversation we had with Jack Burkman.

“Can you tell me who Surefire Intelligence is,” I asked Burkman on October 22, after reaching him on his personal phone which also had a (703) area code. “I don’t think Surefire Intelligence is a real company,” I told Burkman. “I think you are using them to spread false information.”


Burkman then responded, ”Surefire is a real company. They are an intel outfit in Los Angeles. We’ve known them for a long time. The guy’s name is Wohl and their partners have actually worked for Trump.”

“We’ve known them (Surefire Intelligence) for a long time,” Burkman continued. “The guy’s name is Jacob Wohl, and he does just as the name suggest, they do a lot of intel work, they do a lot of good research, it’s an extremely good outfit out of California.”

It is worth noting that in today’s press conference Wohl said that Surefire Intelligence has had absolutely no contact with the White House.

In this same phone conversation with Burkman, I asked him, “Who would you say Lorraine Parsons is?”

Burkman, apparently fumbling for a response, replied, “Well we can’t, I can’t get in, another words you want to get into a discussion, another words, you’re correct we’re conducting an investigation of Mueller, but I don’t want to get into, I can’t really get into that with the press. I mean it’s that, you wanna go through the investigation.”

It was apparent that I had caught Burkman off guard, and without mentioning Parsons previously he seemingly equated her name with being part of his investigation into sexual assault allegations into Mueller, even though today he claims to never have had heard of or had anything to do with Parsons. I decided to keep digging with the Lorraine Parsons questions, knowing it was making him uncomfortable.

I followed up with Burkman, by saying, “Some things seem rather fishy about this investigation. Lorraine Parsons came forward saying that you offered to pay her to come forward with allegations against Mueller, but I don’t actually believe Lorraine Parsons is a real person, and I don’t believe that Surefire is a legitimate company.”

Burkman replied, “The only thing I can tell you is that Surefire is certainly real. I’ve known them for some time. But in terms of the rest, some of these people, I may end up representing as council, so I can’t get into the details of all of this.”

Again Burkman seemingly tried to avoid answering my questions about Lorraine Parsons, but as you can see, he seemed to imply that he may represent Parsons in the future.

Then I turned my attention to Mike Wilcox, who is the man who previously claimed to be from Surefire Intelligence and made veiled threats to Brian Krassenstein over the phone. I asked Burkman, “About Surefire, are you familiar with a man named Mike Wilcox?”

Burkman replied, “I can’t really comment on any of this stuff except to tell you I think it’s a good outfit.”

Later in an email Burkman told me he doesn’t know Mike Wilcox.

Yesterday Jack Burkman denied publicly, in the video by Alicia Powe, to knowing anything about Lorraine Parsons, or who she is. Jacob Wohl claims that Parsons is likely a bogus persona created by Robert Mueller’s office or the mainstream media. In these conversations though, Burkman not only refused to tell me that he didn’t know who Parsons was when I asked him the question several times, but he fumbled for answers and tied Lorraine Parsons to his Mueller investigation.

Additionally, Mike Wilcox, who claimed to be from Surefire Intelligence, admitted to us that he knew of Lorraine Parsons.

The dates as to when Carolyn(e) Cass allegedly approached Burkman and Surefire Intelligences also are not consistent. In the documents released by Surefire Intelligence, it is stated that “On or about October 1, 2018 Carolyn Cass reached out to Surefire Intelligence regarding the possibility of investigating an incident of rape.” However, in today’s press conference Jacob Wohl said, “She came to us September 15th.”

On October 23, Jack Burkman sent us an email stating “Just fyi, we now have one woman ready to go public — discussions ongoing with a second. Many months of hard work have gone into this.”

If Cass only came forward on September 15 like Wohl claimed or on October 1 like the documents claim, this would imply that Wohl and Burkman were investigating sexual assault allegations against Mueller many months prior to this victim coming forward.

Ed Krassenstein’s Conversation with Jacob Wohl on October 23 and Thereafter

After having spoken with Jack Burkman who claimed that Jacob Wohl was behind Surefire Intelligence, I contacted Wohl via Twitter DM (DM’s seen below). In this conversation Wohl told me that he didn’t know who Surefire Intelligence was, and that he never heard of Mike Wilcox.

In today’s press conference Wohl claimed to have lied to the media in regards to his connections with Surefire Intelligence, because the “investigation was still in flux.”

I also asked Wohl about his links to Jack Burkman. He told me that he’s “run into Jack Burkman a few times at Trump meetups,” but left it at that. He then proceed to tell me that he is “not working on any Mueller investigation.”

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As you can see, there are many inconsistencies with what Burkman and Wohl told Hill Reporter over the past two weeks, especially when you factor in their claims at today’s press conference.

The fact that Burkman claimed that Surefire Intelligence and Jacob Wohl’s “partners” have previously worked for President Trump, also is important to note. If in fact Surefire Intelligence has links to the president, this story screams of continued attempts to obstruct the Mueller probe. With that said, Burkman is a known conspiracy theorist and liar, so his statements should be viewed with a grain of salt, and there certainly isn’t any evidence out there to implicate the president himself.

Hill Reporter has confirmed that after the Special Counsel referred the alleged attempts to pay women to claim sexual misconduct by Robert Mueller to the FBI, the FBI has in fact begun interviewing multiple witnesses.

https://hillreporter.com/jack-burkman-j ... ions-12507
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:03 pm

Conspiracy theorist becomes key figure as Mueller builds case

PHOTO: Jerome Corsi arrives at the immigration department in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 7, 2008.AP, FILE
Jerome Corsi arrives at the immigration department in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 7, 2008.
Self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi returned to Washington, D.C., again this week for more closed-door meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, and on Friday is scheduled to make a second appearance before the federal grand jury probing Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, ABC News has learned.

Reached by ABC News on Wednesday, Corsi's lawyer, David Gray, declined to comment on the matter.

Corsi, who until recently served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the controversial far-right media outlet Infowars, is one of at least 11 individuals associated with political operative Roger Stone -- a longtime and close ally of President Donald Trump -- who have been contacted by the special counsel.

MORE: Another Roger Stone associate meets with Mueller grand jury

Much remains unknown about Mueller’s interest in Stone. But in recent weeks, Corsi has emerged as a central figure of interest to Mueller as he builds his case, sources confirm to ABC News. Corsi, who Stone told ABC News he has known for years, has frequently appeared with Stone on-air for Infowars, where Stone currently serves as a contributor.

Mueller’s interest in Corsi is believed to stem from his alleged early discussions about efforts to unearth then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails. The special counsel has evidence that suggests Corsi may have had advance knowledge that the email account of Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, had been hacked and that WikiLeaks had obtained a trove of damning emails from it, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ABC News.

PHOTO: Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington, June 21, 2017.Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE

While Corsi is not a widely recognized figure, his handiwork in the political arena has at times become very well known. He has served as the pioneer of several enduring political smears during national campaigns throughout the 2000s.

Corsi has been cited as one of the architects of the 2004 effort to bring then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s war record into question through a 527 political organization called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group attempted to cast doubt on Kerry’s Vietnam War record and question the injuries he sustained in earning decorations that included a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts. Corsi co-wrote a book on the matter, “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.”

MORE: Roger Stone sought contact with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, email suggests

In 2007, Corsi took a brief hiatus from his role as a columnist on the fringe website World Net Daily [WND] to explore a potential third-party bid in the 2008 presidential election but ultimately returned to WND two months later. At the time, he was a subscriber to the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement – a conspiracy theory that disputes al Qaeda's involvement in the 2001 terrorist attacks, alleging that the U.S. government was complicit in the deadly plot and its coverup and was an inside job. Corsi even convened a press conference in late 2007 to call for then-President George W. Bush’s impeachment.

But Corsi’s most penetrating smear campaign is the same one that helped forge his bond with Donald Trump. He is widely considered one of the early promoters of the so-called “birther” movement, which pursued the idea that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not in America. The theory was debunked and widely denounced as baseless, racist vitriol. Corsi and Trump have long been blasted for not walking back their claims even after Obama produced his long-form birth certificate. In fact, it was only in the final stretch of his successful 2016 presidential bid that Trump finally acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, when Corsi joined the controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ right-wing outlet, Infowars, Jones reportedly boasted that Corsi “had a history” with Trump, and that the two had been acquainted for “40-plus years.”
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/conspir ... d=58886291
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:48 pm

BREAKING: CREW has discovered that Noel Francisco -- next in line to oversee the Russia probe if Rosenstein is fired or resigns -- got a waiver releasing him from Trump admin ethics rules that would likely have kept him from overseeing the Russia probe


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CREW DISCOVERS PREVIOUSLY UNDISCLOSED ETHICS WAIVER FOR SOLICITOR GENERAL NOEL FRANCISCO
By CREW Staff
November 2, 2018
CREW has uncovered a previously undisclosed ethics waiver that may represent an effort to clear one of the obstacles to Solicitor General Noel Francisco replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the official overseeing the Russia investigation.

If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein either resigns or is fired, someone else will have to oversee the Special Counsel investigation. Next in line appears to be Solicitor General Noel Francisco. The problem is that Mr. Francisco has ties to the pending investigation that should preclude his participation.

For one thing, his former law firm, Jones Day, represents the Trump Presidential Campaign in the Special Counsel investigation. Also, Mr. Francisco has a continuing financial relationship with Jones Day, which owes him more than half a million dollars. In addition, he previously appeared before the Justice Department as a member of a “Landing Team” on behalf of the Presidential Transition Team.

The first of the three obstacles Mr. Francisco faces – his former employment relationship with Jones Day – raises an issue under the Trump ethics Executive Order. As required by that Executive Order, Mr. Francisco signed an ethics pledge in which he promised that, for two years after joining the government, he would not participate in any investigation in which Jones Day represents a client. That promise means he must stay out of the Special Counsel investigation until at least late January 2019.

However, CREW has discovered that the Trump administration issued Mr. Francisco an ethics waiver on April 24, 2018. The waiver relieves him from any obligation to honor his ethics pledge to recuse from investigations involving Jones Day. The waiver states only that he is relieved of this obligation and offers no justification whatsoever. It simply waives the obligation, thereby eliminating one of the three obstacles to his overseeing the Special Counsel investigation.

The waiver is troubling for a couple of other reasons, as well. First, the Office of Government Ethics maintains an online list of all ethics pledge waivers issued by the Trump administration to political appointees serving outside the White House. Notably absent from this list is Mr. Francisco’s waiver. At least one more recent waiver was included in the list, so it is strange that Mr. Francisco’s waiver was left off the list.



https://www.citizensforethics.org/crew- ... francisco/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:51 pm

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NEW: Federal judge denies Trump's request to immediately appeal some rulings in the DC and MD Emoluments case. Judge also denies Trump's request to stop discovery. A discovery plan is now due in 20 days. Opinion:

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In July, the case moved forward again, when Judge Messitte ruled in favor of a broader definition of "emolument" than DOJ had been arguing should apply. Here's @ZoeTillman's report on that ruling:
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The first ruling from Judge Messitte was that the DC and Maryland officials had standing to bring the Emoluments lawsuit. Here's @ZoeTillman's report on that ruling:

A Constitutional Challenge To Trump's Decision To Hold On To His Business Interests Can Move Forward

A federal judge said the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia had standing to pursue claims that Trump's interest in the Trump International Hotel in Washington violates the US Constitution.

Zoe Tillman05:05 PM - 28 Mar 2018
Last updated on March 28, 2018, at 10:30 p.m. ET


Yuri Gripas / Reuters
A federal judge in Maryland on Wednesday denied President Donald Trump's bid to throw out a constitutional challenge to his decision to hold onto interests in his eponymous business empire.

US District Judge Peter Messitte ruled that the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland do have standing to pursue claims that Trump's ongoing financial ties to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, violate the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments clauses of the US Constitution. He dismissed claims related to Trump Organization activities outside of Washington, however.

The Maryland case is one of three filed last year accusing Trump of violating the two emoluments clauses — provisions that prohibit federal officials from receiving “emoluments,” generally defined as payments or other financial benefits, from domestic or foreign government actors. A federal judge in New York dismissed one of the cases in December, finding that a government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), lacked standing. CREW is appealing that decision.

Messitte's decision is a win for Maryland and DC, but it isn't the end of arguments over whether the case can survive at this early stage of the litigation. The Trump administration and DC and Maryland will next get a chance to argue over how Messitte should interpret the meaning of the two emoluments clauses, and whether DC and Maryland's claims can survive based on that interpretation.

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in an email to BuzzFeed News that, "As we argued, we believe this case should be dismissed, and we will continue to defend the President in court.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she "can't comment on ongoing litigation."

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh tweeted, "We won the first round!" In a statement, Frosh said the ruling "soundly rejects the Trump Administration’s argument that nobody can challenge the President’s illegal conduct." DC Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement that they would "continue to seek an injunction to stop President Trump from flouting the Constitution’s original anti-corruption provisions."

We won the first round! Our case moves forward! Thanks to my colleague @AGKarlRacine and co-counsel @CREWcrew https://t.co/YsoA3uHdQa

@BrianFrosh / Twitter / Via Twitter: @BrianFrosh
CREW is also co-counsel with lawyers from Maryland and DC in the Maryland case. CREW chair Norm Eisen said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that, "This is a major step forward for the emoluments litigation. We look forward to now addressing the constitutional and other questions. As in other cases across the country, the president’s disregard for the rule of law is creating significant legal exposure. Among other things, the decision suggests that other states and businesses in proximity to other Trump enterprises around the country may also have standing."

Trump ceded control of the Trump Organization to his adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump after he took office. But he did not divest from his businesses, including the Trump International Hotel, which opened in October 2016.

During arguments before Messitte on Jan. 25, lawyers for Maryland and DC highlighted the success of the DC hotel to date, arguing that Trump's ties to the business after he became president unfairly skewed the hospitality market to disfavor local businesses as well as venues that Maryland and DC had a stake in. They cited examples of US and foreign officials patronizing the hotel and its restaurant while also engaging with the administration.

Messitte found that Maryland and DC had standing to pursue these claims. He wrote that, although there are limits on states' ability to bring suits on behalf of their citizens — known as "parens patriae" actions — against the president in his official capacity, these claims could go forward because the case involved conduct outside of Trump's "official duties."

"It can hardly be gainsaid that a large number of Maryland and District of Columbia residents are being affected and will continue to be affected when foreign and state governments choose to stay, host events, or dine at the Hotel rather than at comparable Maryland or District of Columbia establishments, in whole or in substantial part simply because of the President’s association with it," Messitte wrote.

Maryland and DC also argued that they were placed in the difficult position of feeling forced to give the hotel special treatment or else risk losing favor with the administration to other states that were willing to patronize or otherwise accommodate his business.

Messitte found that Maryland and DC had adequately argued a harm to these types of "quasi-sovereign" interests with respect to the DC hotel. He noted one example cited by the plaintiffs of Maine Gov. Paul LePage's decision to stay at Trump's hotel last year while he was in Washington on official business. LePage later joined Trump for an announcement that the administration would review Obama-era national monument designations, a move that LePage supported.

"Leaving aside how Maine’s citizens may have felt about the propriety of their Governor living large at the Hotel while on official business in Washington, the fact that States other than Maryland or the District of Columbia (while, not a State) might patronize the Hotel while on official business in Washington rather clearly suggests that Maryland and the District of Columbia may very well feel themselves obliged, i.e., coerced, to patronize the Hotel in order to help them obtain federal favors," Messitte wrote.

In an interview with WGME on Wednesday, LePage called Messitte a "complete imbecile."

"I didn't realize that I could buy the president so cheap, a night in his hotel and he's in my back pocket,” LePage told the reporter. “The judge that did that is an imbecile. He's a complete imbecile." A spokesperson for LePage said in an email to BuzzFeed News that LePage "chooses hotels based upon several factors including price, availability and security," and that "any insinuation or speculation that a stay in a Trump hotel is made with an expectation or hope of some type of quid-pro-quo is false and irresponsible."

Messitte rejected similar arguments that Maryland and DC raised about quasi-sovereign interests related to Trump properties outside of Washington, such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

Messitte disagreed with the Justice Department's argument that it should be Congress's job to enforce the Foreign Emoluments Clause (the Domestic Emoluments Clause doesn't include an oversight role for Congress, the judge noted). The judge wrote that if Congress hadn't approved the receipt of an emolument by the president, the court had the authority to step in and review whether the president was complying with the law.

"The thrust of the President’s argument that only Congress can act is particularly concerning. Suppose a majority (simple? two-thirds?) of Congress (the House? the Senate? both?) is controlled by one party — that of the President. And suppose the Congress never undertakes to approve or disapprove the President’s receipt of such 'emoluments.' The President could continue to receive unlimited 'emoluments' from foreign and state governments without the least oversight and with absolute impunity," Messitte wrote in a footnote.
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/zo ... s-decision
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby Elvis » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:34 pm

abcnews wrote:

In 2007, Corsi took a brief hiatus from his role as a columnist on the fringe website World Net Daily [WND] to explore a potential third-party bid in the 2008 presidential election but ultimately returned to WND two months later. At the time, he was a subscriber to the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement – a conspiracy theory that disputes al Qaeda's involvement in the 2001 terrorist attacks, alleging that the U.S. government was complicit in the deadly plot and its coverup and was an inside job.


Just want to point this out: ABC News insults our intelligence and reduces the broad spectrum of 9/11 skepticism to "a conspiracy theory," throwing all nuance out the window with its binary reframing. ABC News itself was complicit in the 9/11 coverup and they don't get a pass just because Trump. ABC is in ways worse than WND because ABC enjoys such a huge corporate platform to spread its lies.

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:14 pm

Kenneth P. Vogel

SCOOP: Representatives of PUTIN ally OLEG DERIPASKA expect that sanctions against his companies will be lifted by the TRUMP administration after the midterms. Then they plan to launch an effort to get personal sanctions against Deripaska lifted as well.



Two Capitals, One Russian Oligarch: How Oleg Deripaska Is Trying to Escape U.S. Sanctions

Nov. 4, 2018

Oleg Deripaska in London in 2011. He is one of Russia’s most prominent, and by some accounts notorious, oligarchs.Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg, via Getty Images
This spring, a British lord with deep ties to the governing Conservative Party and a reputation as a do-gooder environmentalist arrived in Washington on an unlikely mission: to save the business empire of Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia’s most infamous oligarchs.

Mr. Deripaska was in deep trouble. In April, the Trump administration had announced sanctions on oligarchs close to President Vladimir V. Putin, and on their companies, as punishment for Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and for other hostile acts. A billionaire who controls the world’s second-largest aluminum company, Mr. Deripaska faced possible ruin.

Portrayed as little more than a thug by his critics and suspected by United States officials of having ties to Russian organized crime, Mr. Deripaska, 50, has spent two decades trying to buy respect in the West. London welcomed him; Washington still mostly has not. Successive administrations have limited his ability to travel to the United States.

Even Mr. Putin was unable to resolve the situation when he interceded personally with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama on Mr. Deripaska’s behalf.

But with so much on the line this time, Mr. Deripaska’s allies are now fighting back aggressively, mobilizing a vast influence machine on both sides of the Atlantic in an all-out effort to undo the sanctions against his companies before they take full effect.

The campaign to help Mr. Deripaska is playing out against an especially sensitive political backdrop. Any step by the administration that is seen as favorable to a powerful Russian is sure to draw scrutiny at a time when the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is continuing his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Moreover, Mr. Deripaska has been a subsidiary character in that inquiry, not as a target but because he at one point employed Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, as an adviser. Mr. Manafort was convicted on one set of fraud charges and pleaded guilty to other charges in cases brought by Mr. Mueller, and is now cooperating with the prosecution.

But the current lobbying effort on behalf of Mr. Deripaska’s companies still appears to have made substantial headway. In recent months, Mr. Deripaska’s firms have notched initial victories by winning multiple postponements from the Treasury Department of the sanctions on the oligarch’s holding company, EN+, and the giant aluminum company it controls, Rusal.

Now, with the administration closing in on its latest self-imposed deadline to make a final decision by Dec. 12, there are signs that Mr. Deripaska’s companies could escape the sanctions entirely.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has signaled that he is open to a plan under which Mr. Deripaska would reduce his stake in his companies in return for the sanctions being lifted.

But sidestepping the business sanctions is not Mr. Deripaska’s only goal. His team is preparing an audacious and previously unreported campaign to remove the personal sanctions on him, too. Removing the personal sanctions would eliminate substantial barriers to his doing business in the United States and around the world, and could be a requirement for him to get his hands on the money — potentially billions of dollars — resulting from any sale of part of his stake in the companies.

“Oleg Deripaska understands better than most Russian oligarchs how money buys influence in Washington,” said Michael R. Carpenter, a former National Security Council official during the Obama administration who is now senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. “It seems like he’s now using that knowledge to try to save his skin.”

The elaborate influence operation highlights one of the fastest-growing elements of the lobbying business: helping deep-pocketed foreign interests massage the sanctions, tariffs and other tools deployed by Mr. Trump against foreign governments, individuals and industries.


The chairman of Mr. Deripaska’s holding company, EN+, is Lord Gregory Barker, a protégé of David Cameron, Britain’s former prime minister, and a former energy minister for climate change policy.INS News Agency Ltd, via Shutterstock
The British emissary for Mr. Deripaska’s companies, Lord Barker of Battle, a protégé of David Cameron, the former prime minister of Britain, was appointed last year as chairman of EN+. Also involved are lobbyists, law firms, public relations experts, a former United States senator and a former Trump campaign official with ties to the Treasury Department and the White House. Even ambassadors to Washington from a number of countries have been approached to write letters opposing the sanctions.

The Treasury Department’s decision carries significant economic implications, given Rusal’s vital place in supplying aluminum around the world.

Lord Barker and the team trying to fight off the sanctions say that enacting them against EN+ and Rusal would create turmoil in global metals markets, damage American manufacturers and potentially play into China’s hands. Their proposal, the “Barker Plan,” would see Mr. Deripaska sell down his ownership stake in EN+, his holding company, to below 50 percent and step away from management of EN+ and Rusal.

But this would hinge on being able to trust and verify that a Russian oligarch who has spent decades building up a global empire — amid persistent accusations that he is more a Kremlin loyalist than an independent tycoon — is truly giving up control.

Mr. Deripaska’s track record on two continents offers a case study in how the world’s wealthiest people can mount sophisticated campaigns to fight for their interests at the highest levels, often in ways that are not fully visible and that are reliant on the willingness of insiders to provide access.

He has sought to rebrand himself as a progressive and pro-Western business executive and philanthropist.

Mr. Manafort is among an army of lobbyists, lawyers and consultants whom Mr. Deripaska has employed around the world to help him build and protect his empire, or to try to persuade the United States to grant him visas on a regular basis.

Mr. Deripaska has courted powerful political figures in Britain, played host to lavish parties in Davos, Switzerland, and once hired a former Republican presidential nominee, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, to lobby for him.

“There is already a perception — certainly abroad, but even in Washington — that Washington is a city where you buy influence rather than having to make arguments and do the right thing,” said Peter Harrell, who worked on sanctions issues in the State Department during the Obama administration.

“That perception would be crystallized by a sanctioned company being able to lobby its way off the list,” he said. “If Deripaska faces enormous losses, it would send a message of sanctions success, but if Deripaska is able to get off with a slap on the wrist, that would be a massive blow to the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions.”

An Oligarch in London

The Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter, operated by Mr. Deripaska’s company Rusal in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
Mr. Deripaska’s troubled reputation derives in large part from what was also his greatest triumph: his bare-knuckled victory over rivals and partners during the 1990s, when well-connected Russians were competing to win control of state assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

That competition, the so-called aluminum wars, was a corpse-filled struggle for control of Siberian smelters and other state-owned Soviet assets that was so violent that even some of Russia’s toughest tycoons gave it a wide berth.

“There were so many murders that I refused to go into this business,” recalled Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a billionaire former oil magnate who now lives in self-exile in London and who during the 1990s forbade his associates from pursuing a smelter deal.

“I told them: ‘Don’t go out there. I need you to stay alive.’”

Mr. Deripaska, who once studied physics at Moscow State University, became a billionaire. But he was left with a ruthless image, especially as claims later emerged in legal battles in London and the United States that he engaged in theft, intimidation, bribery and even murder, notably of a Russian banker in 1995. (None of the accusations have been substantiated.)

One complaint filed in Delaware cast Mr. Deripaska as a member of a criminal gang that seized control of an iron-ore mining complex in the Ural Mountains in the late 1990s. The previous manager claimed that at a meeting attended by Mr. Deripaska, a mafia leader and five armed thugs, he was told to transfer a majority share or “this is the last time you will leave here alive.”

The case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, and Mr. Deripaska’s lawyers have routinely responded to lawsuits with counterclaims that his accusers were themselves crooks and lacked credibility. (A London arbitration tribunal did order him to pay $95 million in 2017 for knowingly lying to the tribunal while finding he had “acted oppressively” to his former partner in a Moscow property venture.)

His dominance of the Russian metals markets gave him the resources to look abroad. By 2000, he commenced a decade of overseas expansion, buying a smelter in Montenegro, an aluminum factory in Ireland and bauxite mines in Africa.

Then he turned his eyes to London.

Mr. Deripaska’s home in Belgravia, one of London’s most expensive areas.Andrew Testa for The New York Times
Mr. Deripaska was now a global figure, and London was becoming the money-soaked fulcrum for a glitzy, international business and the social elite. He bought a six-story mansion on Belgrave Square, as well as a country house in Surrey. He married Polina Yumasheva, a British-educated daughter of the chief of staff of Boris N. Yeltsin, Russia’s former president. (The couple has since divorced.)

Ensconced in society, Mr. Deripaska befriended Nathaniel Rothschild, a British-born financier whose father is a British peer, and through him met the Conservative Party politician George Osborne, a future chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as Lord Peter Mandelson, a leading figure in the Labour Party.

Mr. Deripaska reveled among global movers and shakers, and he remains a regular figure at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He has always argued that these relationships were simply friendships, but soon questions would arise about whether he was really trying to buy influence.

The British news media revealed that the oligarch had flown Mr. Rothschild and Lord Mandelson on his private jet in 2005 for a jaunt in Siberia. At the time, Lord Mandelson was the European Union’s trade commissioner, and in this role, he oversaw a cut in tariffs on aluminum imports from Russia requested by Poland and other members of the bloc. It was a boon to Rusal. (The European Commission has denied that Mr. Mandelson personally intervened in the matter.)

Mr. Rothschild sued a British newspaper for libel for suggesting that the trip was anything more than an act of friendship, but the judge ruled against him. In the summer of 2008, Mr. Deripaska again played host, this time on his yacht, Queen K, off the Greek island of Corfu. Onboard were Mr. Osborne, Lord Mandelson and Andrew Feldman, a Conservative Party fund-raiser.

The yacht meeting caused a media and political storm in Britain, after claims in a letter to The Times of London by Mr. Rothschild, who was also in Corfu, that Mr. Osborne had sought a contribution from Mr. Deripaska to the Conservative Party. Mr. Osborne denied requesting what would have been an illegal donation.

“Deripaska does not hang around with people like this for social reasons,” said Mark Hollingsworth, an author of “Londongrad,” a book about Russian oligarchs in the British capital. “He is not mesmerized by the historical legacy of the British elite. He is not really interested in high society and parties. It is much more hard-nosed commercial calculation: ‘Who are the big names, who has the power and who can help me?’”

And London unquestionably had lawyers, bankers, consultants and former politicians willing to earn generous fees by working in the service of Russian oligarchs with unseemly pasts.

“To outsiders, it seems extraordinary that reputable banks and people would ever get involved,” said Tom Keatinge, a former banker with J. P. Morgan who now directs the Center for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, a British research organization. “But when there are big fees on the table, people’s point of view is not the same.”

A Chill in Washington

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was an adviser to Mr. Deripaska. He is cooperating in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.Erin Schaff for The New York Times
Mr. Deripaska also had his eyes on the United States, where he had acquired property and had business links with Alcoa, the world’s sixth-largest aluminum producer. But in Washington, the reception was much chillier.

The State Department, worried that he had connections to Russian organized crime, has restricted his travel to the United States for years, mostly forcing him to rely on occasional American visas or a Russian diplomatic passport. Despite the barriers, he has managed visits to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii, people familiar with his travel said.

Annoyed, and cognizant of the potential effect on his business, Mr. Deripaska has pursued winning easier and more regular access to the United States with near-obsessive zeal. One moment of success came in 2005, when he was given a multiple-entry American visa, after hiring Mr. Dole, the former presidential nominee who had gone into lobbying.

Mr. Dole’s firm, Alston & Bird, reported receiving an upfront lobbying fee of $300,000 from Mr. Deripaska, followed by at least $270,000 in additional payments over the next few years, according to congressional lobbying reports. In the end, the victory was short-lived: The visa was revoked not long after being granted at the request of the F.B.I., a person briefed on the process said.

Around the time his visa was being revoked, Mr. Deripaska hired Mr. Manafort and signed his firm to a $10 million-a-year contract in 2006 to advise him.

One of Mr. Manafort’s associates lobbied President George W. Bush’s administration to reconsider the visa issue, but the efforts went nowhere, according to David Merkel, who worked on Russia-related issues in Mr. Bush’s White House and State Department.

“Deripaska has spent years trying to mainstream himself into the political and financial elite,” Mr. Merkel said.

Mr. Manafort and his business partner at the time, Rick Davis, arranged a meeting in 2006 on the sidelines of the Davos forum between Mr. Deripaska and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who was preparing a campaign for president. There is no evidence anything came of the meeting, though it became a liability for Mr. McCain’s campaign.

Mr. Deripaska eventually fired Mr. Manafort and his partner. He later sued them after a dispute over a telecommunications deal they had pursued together.

Adam Waldman, left, and Mr. Deripaska in 2015 at Oktoberfest in Munich. Mr. Waldman, a former Clinton administration official, earned $40,000 a month helping the oligarch.Gisela Schober/Getty Images
In the months before the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Mr. Deripaska turned to a lobbyist with Democratic connections, Adam Waldman, who served in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton. Mr. Waldman earned $40,000 a month to help the oligarch with visa issues, as well as with business matters like aluminum trade talks and an unsuccessful bid to buy European operations from General Motors.

Mr. Waldman helped him arrange various trips, including to attend a Wall Street Journal-sponsored summit meeting of top business executives in Washington. He also later arranged meetings between Mr. Deripaska and George Soros, the wealthy Democratic donor, to discuss anticorruption efforts in the mining industry in Guinea, where Rusal is a major player, according to people familiar with the meetings.

Hoping to show that he could be useful to the United States, Mr. Deripaska used his connections and resources at one point in a thwarted effort to help Washington win the release of a hostage in Iran.

In the weeks before the 2016 election, Mr. Deripaska rebuffed an approach from the F.B.I., which was seeking his help in the early stages of the inquiry into Russian meddling.

“He didn’t need introductions to other captains of industry or philanthropists. They lined up to meet with him,” Mr. Waldman said. “Only elements of the U.S. government had a problem with him — that they would insinuate in leaks and blocks, but never state outright.”

In 2010, Mr. Deripaska, center, listed Rusal, his aluminum company, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to raise money to stave off creditors.Ym Yik/EPA, via Shutterstock
Mr. Deripaska’s long struggle to travel more freely to the United States had cost him time, money and pride. But a far bigger problem throughout was keeping his business empire afloat.

Saddled with debt, Mr. Deripaska raised money to stave off creditors in January 2010 by listing Rusal, his aluminum company, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He appointed his old friend from London, Mr. Rothschild, to his international advisory board.

But that only forestalled the pressure to repay a corporate loan of $942 million from VTB, a Russian bank considered close to Mr. Putin and under sanction by the United States. To do this, Mr. Deripaska decided to put a small portion of his 96 percent stake in EN+, which controlled Rusal, on the market with a listing on the London exchange in November 2017.

Yet prospective investors were initially lukewarm. Mr. Deripaska was trailed by accusations of wrecking the environment and taking advantage of his partners. The prospectus listed 37 pages of fine print on “risk factors.”

Once again, Mr. Deripaska turned to the city’s influence industry.

EN+ hired a well-connected London public relations company, run by Roland Rudd, whose sister, Amber Rudd, was Britain’s home secretary at the time. Mr. Deripaska reached out to a consultancy owned by Lord Mandelson. And he hired major international banks to organize the offering.

Most importantly, EN+ found a new chairman, only weeks before the stock offering: Lord Barker, a former energy minister responsible for climate change policy.

Unlike Mr. Deripaska, Lord Barker had a largely spotless reputation. His only minor brushes with scandal came in 2006, when he left his wife to live with a male interior decorator, and in 2012, while serving as energy minister, when he made the tabloids for using a microwave at Parliament to warm a cushion for his pet dachshund, Otto.

Lord Barker’s appointment, the company declared, was proof of its “commitment to the best standard of corporate governance.” His allies say his efforts since then have been focused on what is best for the company — its employees and all of its shareholders — rather than on Mr. Deripaska’s personal benefit.

Others saw Lord Barker’s appointment as chairman of EN+ as proof of a phenomenon known as “Lords on Boards,” a long line of eminent Britons willing to lend their names and connections to Russia’s scandal-singed elite.

Before entering politics in the early 2000s, Lord Barker had worked in Moscow as the head of investor relations for Sibneft, a Russian oil company connected to two Russian oligarchs, Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, a onetime business partner of Mr. Deripaska’s. Lord Barker’s job was to convince often skeptical investors and financial journalists that Sibneft had shaken off its shady past in rigged privatization deals and broken with the habits of its oligarch founders.

Now, Lord Barker assumed the chairmanship of EN+ and the London listing was a success. Mr. Deripaska, with his family, took around $1.5 billion from the stock sale and was able to repay VTB.

Then in April came the sanctions announcement from Washington, which Mr. Deripaska described in a statement as “groundless, ridiculous and absurd.” The world’s aluminum market shook, as shares of EN+ went into a nose-dive on the London exchange, where the company quickly lost more than half of its value.

The sanctions, which punish third parties that do business with designated companies and individuals, led to a mass exodus of his advisers. In London, Mr. Rudd’s public relations company bailed, as did the consultancy business run by Lord Mandelson. Citigroup and Credit Suisse, which EN+ named in January as “joint corporate brokers” and which earlier had worked on the company’s public offering along with other banks, swiftly severed relations. In Washington, Mr. Waldman terminated his representation of Mr. Deripaska and Rusal.

The prospect that it would soon become illegal under United States law to do business with the world’s biggest aluminum producer outside of China made it dangerous to sign long-term contracts with any entity connected to Mr. Deripaska. Manufacturers feared grave disruptions in their supplies.

Hanging on as chairman of the board, however, was Lord Barker. Rather than being a figurehead chairman, he was suddenly faced with having to save a company whose structures he had only just become acquainted with.

Friends say Lord Barker is not in it for the money but for an opportunity to promote renewable energy, of which Mr. Deripaska has vast amounts thanks to his hydroelectric plants in Siberia and his investments in solar power.

“He would not compromise his beliefs for money,” said Peter Brown, a British businessman and friend of Lord Barker’s who once managed the Beatles.

In recent months, Lord Barker has lobbied Ireland’s business minister to press the Treasury Department to relent on sanctions. He has also made trips to Moscow and to Cyprus, where he presided over the annual general meeting of EN+.

Most importantly, Lord Barker began hiring lobbyists and lawyers in Washington to promote the Barker Plan. The core of that plan is the still-to-be-proved proposition that Lord Barker and his allies are not merely puppets, and that Mr. Deripaska is really willing to sell down his stake and step away from his empire.

The legal and lobbying teams for Mr. Deripaska’s companies have proposed various measures to reassure the United States government that he would truly do so — and not immediately benefit from an expected rebound in value that would come from lifting the corporate sanctions.

He and several allies have resigned from top positions at EN+ and Rusal. The Barker Plan also calls for the creation of an escrow account into which the proceeds from Mr. Deripaska’s stock sales would be deposited. He would be barred from accessing the money until he met certain conditions, including being removed from the personal sanctions list.

Lord Barker “wants to save Deripaska by getting rid of Deripaska,” said David Ruffley, a former British legislator and an old friend of Lord Barker’s.

A Lobbying Machine in Trump’s Washington

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in January. He has said that the aim of the sanctions was to “change the behavior of the oligarch,” not to punish Mr. Deripaska’s aluminum business.Tom Brenner/The New York Times
In Washington, Lord Barker turned to Mercury Public Affairs. Only a few weeks after the sanctions were announced, Bryan Lanza, a former Trump campaign and transition aide who is now a Mercury lobbyist, contacted top officials at the Treasury and State Departments and at the White House.

At that point, Mercury was in the final stages of signing a $108,500-a-month contract to represent the board of directors of EN+. Mercury registered with the Justice Department as a “foreign agent” working on behalf of “Lord Gregory Barker of Battle,” not for Mr. Deripaska or his companies, which might have been prohibited under the sanctions.

Since then, according to lobbying filings, Mr. Lanza has been busy texting, emailing, calling and sometimes meeting with influential White House appointees, including Justin Clark, the director of the Office of Public Liaison, and Mercedes Schlapp, the director of strategic communications.

At the State and Treasury Departments, Mr. Lanza and his associates at Mercury corresponded with or met with officials involved in sanctions policy, such as David Meale, the acting deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing sanctions, andSeth Bridge, a top Treasury sanctions policy adviser.

Mr. Lanza shared talking points with some administration officials about how Mr. Trump could claim a victory if the sanctions forced Mr. Deripaska to relinquish control of his companies, but allowed the companies — which are hugely important to the global aluminum market — to stay in business, according to people familiar with the effort.

Coincidentally or not, Mr. Mnuchin made statements that sounded similar themes, signaling that the United States might be open to a deal that would spare Mr. Deripaska’s companies from the sanctions.

Speaking to reporters at the White House in late July, Mr. Mnuchin said the aim of sanctions was to “change the behavior of the oligarch,” not to punish his aluminum business.

That line of argument has now been seized on by both Lord Barker and Mr. Deripaska as they await announcement of the administration’s decision.

Lord Barker’s office issued a statement saying he was “increasingly optimistic” that a deal would be struck. Lord Barker declined repeated requests to be interviewed.

On Saturday, an associate of Mr. Deripaska relayed an offer to arrange an interview with the oligarch if The New York Times refrained from publishing this story until after Treasury decides on the sanctions. The Times declined the offer.

In a separate statement issued through Rusal’s press office, which was similar in wording to Lord Barker’s statement, Mr. Deripaska said, “To protect the dedicated employees of EN+ and Rusal, and to preserve the rights of all global stakeholders of both companies, I have chosen to relinquish any remaining management or control of both EN+ and Rusal.”

A Treasury spokesman disputed any suggestion that Mr. Mnuchin’s approach to sanctions has been shaped by Mercury’s efforts, or that the department has changed its position.

If nothing else, the lobbying effort is notable for its scale. Lord Barker’s team and Mr. Deripaska’s companies have also turned to a trio of high-powered law firms to make their case to Treasury. Latham & Watkins is representing Lord Barker; Dentons is handling negotiations for Rusal; and Steptoe & Johnson is working for EN+, according to people familiar with the effort.

Another Mercury lobbyist, the former Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, led an effort to rally foreign ambassadors in Washington against sanctions, working to convince them that hurting Mr. Deripaska’s business will hurt manufacturing in their own countries by disrupting the supply of aluminum.

While awaiting the Trump administration’s decision, Mr. Deripaska has lowered his public profile since announcing his resignation from the EN+ board in May. His wealth on paper has fallen by $4 billion since April because of the sharp fall in the company’s stock price.

He and his family now control a 77 percent stake in EN+ and, as yet, have not sold any their shares.

No matter what happens, K Street is profiting. In fact, Mr. Deripaska’s team has approached still more lawyers and public relations consultants in recent weeks about joining an effort to try to remove the personal sanctions against him, too, describing it as a long-term campaign.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/worl ... tions.html
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:03 am

Investigate Trump's Worldwide Watergate
https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/in ... _trump_15/


‘the giant web of corruption’ that it says propelled Trump’s rise.”



The complaint is clearly aimed at examining how much money stolen from a former Soviet satellite ended up benefitting Trump. He is named 16 times in the complaint’s footnotes.

The complaint describes “one of the biggest fraud cases ever” in which “some of these money flows ultimately ended up in the Netherlands” because “Dutch service providers helped to cover up the money laundering acts.”



Trump and Giuliani were just implicated in a massive money laundering scheme involving Russia
BY VINNIE LONGOBARDO
PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 5, 2018



Rudy Giuliani has been keeping a low profile of late. The former New York City mayor turned media-apologist and lawyer for President Trump seemingly disappeared from the airwaves after a series of disastrously incoherent appearances on TV news outlets that may have created more problems for his presidential client than helped him.

Now Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnson at the DC Report has posited another reason as to why Giuliani may be keeping his head low right now, as global human rights organization Avaaz has called for a criminal investigation into a multi-billion dollar money laundering racket, claiming that Rudy Giuliani and his former law firm aided and abetted the scheme.

Enough is enough! Add your name to call for Trump to be officially censored for his violent rhetoric that's led to deadly attacks.
Avaaz has petitioned Dutch prosecutors to investigate the charges, which are primarily aimed at determining how much money embezzled from Kazakhstan ended up benefiting Giuliani’s client, Donald Trump, who is mentioned 16 times in the footnotes to the complaint the human rights organization filed.

The charges are being pursued in Dutch courts because “some of these money flows ultimately ended up in the Netherlands” and because “Dutch service providers helped to cover up the money laundering acts,” in what they describe as “one of the biggest fraud cases ever.”

According to Avaaz’s complaint:

“The money laundering network started in Kazakhstan, where a figure of up to USD 10 billion was purportedly embezzled,” the complaint asserts. “This money was subsequently circulated by two Kazakh oligarch families via a worldwide network of shell companies. A number of these companies were established in the Netherlands. The money was subsequently invested in real estate projects in the United States and Europe, after which it was paid out as ‘profits’ via – once again – a network of shell companies.”
Giuliani’s connection to the scheme comes through the complaint’s accusations some of the stolen funds were funneled through Dutch shell corporations with the assistance of Rudy Giuliani’s former law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, but Avaaz’s primary motivation in filing the complaint is as part of its “open call to prosecutors around the world to investigate ‘the giant web of corruption’ that it says propelled Trump’s rise.”



The ultimate aim of the legal challenge is to uncover the “full details of Russian money flowing to various Trump projects using so-called anonymous wealth companies,” shell companies created to conceal the identities of their owners.

It is well-known that the Trump Organization received a tremendous amount of money from shell companies connected to Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union who invested heavily in Trump-branded properties in the U.S., so much so that the Trump family bragged about it.

The President has naturally denied any knowledge of money laundering, but with denial as his default response to any accusations of impropriety and lying as his standard mode of discourse, this new investigation may prove to be as damaging to Trump as the investigation into his tax avoidance schemes surrounding his inheritance and his shady real estate valuations now being investigated by New York tax authorities.



While Trump has long been linked to accusations of laundering money linked to Russian organized crime figures, this new complaint from Avaaz could be the first international legal proceeding to dig deeply into the details of exactly where some of the money used to finance his properties originated. With Giuliani, Trump’s own lawyer, now directly caught up in the investigation, a day of reckoning is drawing ever more closely.
https://washingtonpress.com/2018/11/05/ ... w_Ov0khw5M



Human Rights Group Calls For Investigation Of Giuliani, Trump Money-Laundering Scheme

By David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief
Image
Human Rights Group Calls for Investigation of Giuliani, Trump Money-Laundering Scheme
Prosecutors Asked to Probe Dutch Middlemen Washing Billions in Dirty Kazakh Cash for Real Estate Deals in US and Europe


David Cay Johnston
A human rights organization has asked Dutch prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into multi-billion dollar money laundering schemes that they say were aided by Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his old law firm.

The complaint is clearly aimed at examining how much money stolen from a former Soviet satellite ended up benefitting Trump. He is named 16 times in the complaint’s footnotes.

The complaint describes “one of the biggest fraud cases ever” in which “some of these money flows ultimately ended up in the Netherlands” because “Dutch service providers helped to cover up the money laundering acts.”

Watch David’s Video Commentary


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdgx2llQAk4

“The money laundering network started in Kazakhstan, where a figure of up to USD 10 billion was purportedly embezzled,” the complaint asserts. “This money was subsequently circulated by two Kazakh oligarch families via a worldwide network of shell companies. A number of these companies were established in the Netherlands. The money was subsequently invested in real estate projects in the United States and Europe, after which it was paid out as ‘profits’ via – once again – a network of shell companies.”


Trump with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
Netherlands banks and other firms play a significant role in illicit flows of cash around the world through sophisticated techniques to hide income and corporate profits. Many of these techniques appear to push the envelope on legal tax avoidance. When money laundering is involved these aggressive techniques could cross a line into aiding and abetting criminal tax evasion.

The complaint asserts that a small slice of the missing billions was run through Dutch shell corporations with help from Rudy Giuliani’s old law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani. Until 2016, Giuliani was a partner in the 470-lawyer firm.

Neither Giuliani nor anyone at his firm Giuliani Security & Safety LLC responded to requests for his side of the story. Multiple requests for comment prompted no response from Greg M. Bopp, managing partner of what was then Bracewell & Giuliani but is now called only Bracewell.

The complaint was filed by Avaaz, a global human rights organization in Washington which claims 48 million members. It has issued an open call to prosecutors around the world to investigate “the giant web of corruption” that it says propelled Trump’s rise.

Avaaz says it has approximately 290,000 members in the Netherlands. The complaint was filed Oct. 22 with J.J.M. van Dis-Setz of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service by Barbara van Straaten, a lawyer in Amsterdam.


Viktor Khrapunov
The complaint filed with the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service in Amsterdam relies on court records from several countries that were dug up by investigative journalists, including James S. Henry, the investigative economics editor of DCReport.

The Dutch television program Zembla aired an investigative piece on Trump and his Russian associates in 2017. It followed up with an expose of a Trump business partner’s role in a Dutch money laundering scheme.

The complaint is aimed at uncovering the full details of Russian money flowing to various Trump projects using so-called anonymous wealth companies. Those are shell companies created to hide the identities of the owners. Trump and his family are known to have received vast sums from shell companies and have bragged about how much of it came from people in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet empire. Trump contends the deals were all lawful and he has no knowledge of any money laundering.

A criminal investigation by Dutch prosecutors could help that country avoid banking sanctions and loss of reputation by showing that Amsterdam enforces its own laws and respects laws on transnational crimes.


Mukhtar Ablyazov
Roughly $10 billion was stolen from Kazakhstan, a former Soviet satellite located in Central Asia. The current Kazakh government is in court in Switzerland and elsewhere trying to recover the money and prosecute members of two families it says stole the money and laundered it in the West. Other lawsuits connected to the stolen money are being litigated in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles.

The $10 billion theft was uncovered by PricewaterhouseCoopers during its 2009 audit of BTA Bank, the largest in Kazakhstan. In addition, there is about $300 million missing from Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.

Court documents identify the suspected thieves as Viktor Khrapunov and Mukhtar Ablyazov, oligarchs whose families are bound not just by extensive business ties, but also by marriage. Khrapunov is the former mayor of Almaty. His son Illyas is married to Ablyazov’s daughter.

“There are strong indications that the revenues of these crimes were probably mixed via a complex money-laundering network, and there was a great deal of mutual overlap” between the companies and people suspected of the crimes, the complaint states.

Both Khrapunov and Ablyazov are fugitives.

Khrapunov, who was tried in absentia in Kazakhstan, has been convicted of corruption.

Ablyazov, who was president of the looted bank, had his worldwide assets with an estimated value of $4.9 billion frozen six years ago by a British High Court.

Trump has done business since 1983 with Russian oligarchs and wealthy former officials and business people in former Soviet satellites, including Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan. A number of mobsters – American, Russian and others – live in Trump Tower apartments. The building has long been known to local, federal and international law enforcement as a nest of criminal residences.

In 1987 the Kremlin, then still a communist state, provided Trump and his first wife Ivana with a luxury trip to Russia.

While a number of journalistic investigations have looked into Trump’s dealings with oligarchs and their money using public records and sources they were limited to public records, which are often scant. Dutch prosecutors, however, have the power to subpoena banking and other records, forcing their disclosure to prosecutors and, potentially, the public.

Trump is known to have done deals with some of those mentioned in the complaint, including Felix Sater, a violent Long Island felon who was born in Russia. For years Sater traveled extensively with Trump working on deals named in the complaint and handing out his Trump Organization business card. Despite these long ties and both videos and still photos showing the men together, Trump claimed during the presidential campaign that he would not recognize Sater if they were in the same room.


Felix Sater
Sater is believed to be cooperating with Robert Mueller, the American special prosecutor investigating Trump.

In one deal involving Sater, millions of dollars from the Trump SoHo hotel and apartment tower disappeared into an Icelandic bank that was under the control of a Russian oligarch. That bank was part of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to defraud Dutch and British pension funds. Trump has testified that he was due 18% of profits from the building.

The faux gold letters bearing the name, under an agreement reached a year ago, have been pried from the building façade.

Just three weeks before the 2016 election, a massive expose of Trump’s role in helping Kazakh oligarchs hide their illicit money appeared in The Financial Times, a British business newspaper.

“Dirty Money: Trump and the Kazakh Connection” described “evidence a Trump venture has links to alleged laundering network.”

The newspaper said its investigation found that Trump had “assembled an eclectic collection of backers and collaborators. Some had chequered pasts, with links to organized crime or fraud schemes. But perhaps the biggest risk for Mr. Trump’s complex, often opaque, business empire was that it might be used for a purpose US officials fear is rife in the country’s real estate sector: laundering dirty money.”


Trump SoHo Hotel (Google Streetview)
Trump’s SoHo project “has multiple ties to an alleged international money laundering network. Title deeds, bank records and correspondence show that a Kazakh family accused of laundering hundreds of millions of stolen dollars bought luxury apartments in a Manhattan tower part-owned by Mr. Trump and embarked on major business ventures with one of the tycoon’s partners,” the British newspaper The Financial Times reported after an extensive investigation.

Trump and his partners, the FT asserted, engaged in condo sales that appear to have violated the Patriot Act, the post 9/11 law that requires banks, developers and others to know who their customers are and the sources of their money.

Investigations to identify anonymous buyers of luxury apartments in New York and Florida to determine the extent of any money laundering were announced in January 2016 by the federal government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Three months later the FinCEN director, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, spoke about her years of work on transnational Russian organized crime networks. Much of her work involved Russian crime families “laundering their funds through the U.S. financial system. Often, this involved the suspected purchase of personal residences with criminal proceeds.”

In July 2016, the month the GOP nominated Trump, FinCen announced it would be investigating sales of luxury apartments beyond New York and Florida because of its growing concern about flows of illicit cash disguised in real estate deals.

While Giuliani calls himself Trump’s personal lawyer, his role is primarily to spread Trumpian disinformation about Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigations into Russian collusion and related matters concerning Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign. Because Giuliani appears on so many cable and other television shows, but not in court, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell calls the former New York City mayor “Trump’s TV lawyer.”
https://www.dcreport.org/2018/10/31/gro ... ng-scheme/



The Dutch, Rudy Giuliani and the stolen $10 billion

A human rights organization has asked Dutch prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into multi-billion dollar money laundering schemes that they say were aided by Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his old law firm.

This story first appeared at DC Report.

The complaint is clearly aimed at examining how much money stolen from a former Soviet satellite ended up benefitting Trump. He is named 16 times in the complaint’s footnotes.

The complaint describes “one of the biggest fraud cases ever” in which “some of these money flows ultimately ended up in the Netherlands” because “Dutch service providers helped to cover up the money laundering acts.”

Watch David Cay Johnston’s Video Commentary Below:



“The money laundering network started in Kazakhstan, where a figure of up to USD 10 billion was purportedly embezzled,” the complaint asserts. “This money was subsequently circulated by two Kazakh oligarch families via a worldwide network of shell companies. A number of these companies were established in the Netherlands. The money was subsequently invested in real estate projects in the United States and Europe, after which it was paid out as ‘profits’ via – once again – a network of shell companies.”

Netherlands banks and other firms play a significant role in illicit flows of cash around the world through sophisticated techniques to hide income and corporate profits. Many of these techniques appear to push the envelope on legal tax avoidance. When money laundering is involved these aggressive techniques could cross a line into aiding and abetting criminal tax evasion.

The complaint asserts that a small slice of the missing billions was run through Dutch shell corporations with help from Rudy Giuliani’s old law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani. Until 2016, Giuliani was a partner in the 470-lawyer firm.

Neither Giuliani nor anyone at his firm Giuliani Security & Safety LLC responded to requests for his side of the story. Multiple requests for comment prompted no response from Greg M. Bopp, managing partner of what was then Bracewell & Giuliani but is now called only Bracewell.

The complaint was filed by Avaaz, a global human rights organization in Washington which claims 48 million members. It has issued an open call to prosecutors around the world to investigate “the giant web of corruption” that it says propelled Trump’s rise.

Avaaz says it has approximately 290,000 members in the Netherlands. The complaint was filed Oct. 22 with J.J.M. van Dis-Setz of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service by Barbara van Straaten, a lawyer in Amsterdam.

The complaint filed with the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service in Amsterdam relies on court records from several countries that were dug up by investigative journalists, including James S. Henry, the investigative economics editor of DCReport.

The Dutch television program Zembla aired an investigative piece on Trump and his Russian associates in 2017. It followed up with an expose of a Trump business partner’s role in a Dutch money laundering scheme.

The complaint is aimed at uncovering the full details of Russian money flowing to various Trump projects using so-called anonymous wealth companies. Those are shell companies created to hide the identities of the owners. Trump and his family are known to have received vast sums from shell companies and have bragged about how much of it came from people in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet empire. Trump contends the deals were all lawful and he has no knowledge of any money laundering.

A criminal investigation by Dutch prosecutors could help that country avoid banking sanctions and loss of reputation by showing that Amsterdam enforces its own laws and respects laws on transnational crimes.

Roughly $10 billion was stolen from Kazakhstan, a former Soviet satellite located in Central Asia. The current Kazakh government is in court in Switzerland and elsewhere trying to recover the money and prosecute members of two families it says stole the money and laundered it in the West. Other lawsuits connected to the stolen money are being litigated in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles.

The $10 billion theft was uncovered by PricewaterhouseCoopers during its 2009 audit of BTA Bank, the largest in Kazakhstan. In addition, there is about $300 million missing from Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.

Court documents identify the suspected thieves as Viktor Khrapunov and Mukhtar Ablyazov, oligarchs whose families are bound not just by extensive business ties, but also by marriage. Khrapunov is the former mayor of Almaty. His son Illyas is married to Ablyazov’s daughter.

“There are strong indications that the revenues of these crimes were probably mixed via a complex money-laundering network, and there was a great deal of mutual overlap” between the companies and people suspected of the crimes, the complaint states.

Both Khrapunov and Ablyazov are fugitives.

Khrapunov, who was tried in absentia in Kazakhstan, has been convicted of corruption.

Ablyazov, who was president of the looted bank, had his worldwide assets with an estimated value of $4.9 billion frozen six years ago by a British High Court.

Trump has done business since 1983 with Russian oligarchs and wealthy former officials and business people in former Soviet satellites, including Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan. A number of mobsters – American, Russian and others – live in Trump Tower apartments. The building has long been known to local, federal and international law enforcement as a nest of criminal residences.

In 1987 the Kremlin, then still a communist state, provided Trump and his first wife Ivana with a luxury trip to Russia.

While a number of journalistic investigations have looked into Trump’s dealings with oligarchs and their money using public records and sources they were limited to public records, which are often scant. Dutch prosecutors, however, have the power to subpoena banking and other records, forcing their disclosure to prosecutors and, potentially, the public.

Trump is known to have done deals with some of those mentioned in the complaint, including Felix Sater, a violent Long Island felon who was born in Russia. For years Sater traveled extensively with Trump working on deals named in the complaint and handing out his Trump Organization business card. Despite these long ties and both videos and still photos showing the men together, Trump claimed during the presidential campaign that he would not recognize Sater if they were in the same room.

Sater is believed to be cooperating with Robert Mueller, the American special prosecutor investigating Trump.

In one deal involving Sater, millions of dollars from the Trump SoHo hotel and apartment tower disappeared into an Icelandic bank that was under the control of a Russian oligarch. That bank was part of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to defraud Dutch and British pension funds. Trump has testified that he was due 18% of profits from the building.

The faux gold letters bearing the name, under an agreement reached a year ago, have been pried from the building façade.

Just three weeks before the 2016 election, a massive expose of Trump’s role in helping Kazakh oligarchs hide their illicit money appeared in The Financial Times, a British business newspaper.

“Dirty Money: Trump and the Kazakh Connection” described “evidence a Trump venture has links to alleged laundering network.”

The newspaper said its investigation found that Trump had “assembled an eclectic collection of backers and collaborators. Some had chequered pasts, with links to organized crime or fraud schemes. But perhaps the biggest risk for Mr. Trump’s complex, often opaque, business empire was that it might be used for a purpose US officials fear is rife in the country’s real estate sector: laundering dirty money.”

Trump’s SoHo project “has multiple ties to an alleged international money laundering network. Title deeds, bank records and correspondence show that a Kazakh family accused of laundering hundreds of millions of stolen dollars bought luxury apartments in a Manhattan tower part-owned by Mr. Trump and embarked on major business ventures with one of the tycoon’s partners,” the British newspaper The Financial Times reported after an extensive investigation.

Trump and his partners, the FT asserted, engaged in condo sales that appear to have violated the Patriot Act, the post 9/11 law that requires banks, developers and others to know who their customers are and the sources of their money.

Investigations to identify anonymous buyers of luxury apartments in New York and Florida to determine the extent of any money laundering were announced in January 2016 by the federal government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Three months later the FinCEN director, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, spoke about her years of work on transnational Russian organized crime networks. Much of her work involved Russian crime families “laundering their funds through the U.S. financial system. Often, this involved the suspected purchase of personal residences with criminal proceeds.”

In July 2016, the month the GOP nominated Trump, FinCen announced it would be investigating sales of luxury apartments beyond New York and Florida because of its growing concern about flows of illicit cash disguised in real estate deals.

While Giuliani calls himself Trump’s personal lawyer, his role is primarily to spread Trumpian disinformation about Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigations into Russian collusion and related matters concerning Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign. Because Giuliani appears on so many cable and other television shows, but not in court, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell calls the former New York City mayor “Trump’s TV lawyer.”

Audience In Shock After Bradshaw's Latest Move
https://www.rawstory.com/2018/11/dutch- ... 0-billion/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:45 am

Trump Team Reportedly Bracing For Mueller Report to Drop as Early as Wednesday
https://www.mediaite.com/online/trump-t ... wednesday/


Donald Trump Jr. Expecting to Be Indicted by Mueller Soon

Jonathan Chait@jonathanchait9:58 A.M.

Donald Trump Jr. Photo: Scott Sonner/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Last year, Donald Trump Jr. testified that he never informed his father of a meeting with Russian officials promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It seemed hard to believe that the ne’er-do-well son would neglect to seek credit for his expected campaign coup from the father whose approval he so obviously craves. And now it seems that Robert Mueller has obtained proof that it is not in fact true. The Trump family lies all the time, of course, but doing it under oath is a crime.

Two days ago, Gabriel Sherman reported that White House officials are concerned about Donald Jr. “I’m very worried about Don Jr.,” a former West Wing official told Sherman, who fears Mueller will be able to prove perjury. Deep in a report about Trump’s 2020 campaign plans, Politico drops the news this morning that Trump Jr. “has told friends in recent weeks that he believes he could be indicted.”

If it’s what you’re saying, we love it.

The details of the expected indictment remain to be seen. But if Trump Jr. did lie under oath, the obvious question is why. He had a lawyer, who presumably informed him of the dangers of perjury. Why take the risk of perjury to deny having informed his father about a meeting with Russian officials if the contacts produced absolutely nothing?
http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/11/ ... -soon.html


Democrats planning to call Mueller for nationally televised hearings if he's removed from the Russia probe: report

Democrats are already preparing an emergency scenario in case President Donald Trump tries to purge the Department of Justice and shut down the special counsel probe.

Robert Mueller and his team have gone silent in the weeks ahead of the midterm election, which handed subpoena power to House Democrats — who are ready to protect the investigation from the president’s interference, reported Politico.

Nancy Pelosi, who’s likely to return to her post as House Speaker, has pledged to make sure Mueller’s “documentation is preserved,” and senior Democratic officials say the special counsel would immediately be summoned to Capitol Hill for nationally televised testimony about his findings if he’s removed.

“I think you could expect Democrats to take pieces of what they shut down and expose it publicly,” said one high-ranking Democratic policy adviser. “This is a report paid for with taxpayer dollars. So taxpayers would have a right to know what Mr. Mueller found.”

That’s the exact opposite position taken by the president and his legal team.

Trump’s advisers say the president will try to keep the special counsel’s findings from public release by arguing the materials are too sensitive or subject to executive privilege, and they say Justice Department appointees will fight Democratic subpoenas.

“They’re not going to turn over stuff to the House,” said Joe diGenova, an informal Trump legal adviser. “They’re going to litigate all the way to the Supreme Court.”
https://www.rawstory.com/2018/11/democr ... be-report/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:09 pm

This could explain Weisselberg’s need for use immunity to testify before the grand jury; he’s cooking the books here.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal

Federal prosecutors have gathered evidence of president’s participation in transactions that violated campaign-finance laws

Michael Rothfeld, Nov. 9, 2018 1:03 p.m. ET
By
Joe Palazzolo,
Nicole Hong,
Rebecca Davis O’Brien and
Rebecca Ballhaus
As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

Less than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they’d had an affair. Mr. Pecker’s company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

The Trump Tower meeting and its aftermath are among several previously unreported instances in which Mr. Trump intervened directly to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen people who have direct knowledge of the events or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents.


What Trump Did to Silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal


While President Trump publicly fought with women leading up the the 2016 election, in private he directed schemes to silence their stories of two alleged affairs. Here’s a timeline of Trump’s personal involvement.

Taken together, the accounts refute a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers that he was involved in payoffs to Ms. McDougal and a former adult-film star. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.

The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.

On Thursday, the White House referred questions about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush deals to the president’s outside counsel Jay Sekulow, who declined to comment.

In an Oct. 23 interview with the Journal, Mr. Trump declined to address whether he had ever discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen during the campaign.

“Nobody cares about that,” he said. He described Mr. Cohen as a “public-relations person” who “represented me on very small things.”

Mr. Cohen, who left the Trump Organization to serve as the president’s personal attorney in early 2017, and other aides denied Mr. Trump played any role in the two hush-money deals when they were first reported in the Journal.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan came to believe otherwise. In August, they outlined Mr. Trump’s role—without specifically naming him—in a roughly 80-page draft federal indictment they had been preparing to file against Mr. Cohen.

When Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty that month to campaign-finance violations, prosecutors filed a 22-page charging document asserting that Mr. Cohen “coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”

The unnamed campaign member or members referred to Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the document.

The revelations about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the hush-money deals come as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian electoral interference, and as a newly elected Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has signaled its intention to investigate the Trump administration when it takes power. Manhattan federal prosecutors who investigated Mr. Cohen are now examining business dealings by the Trump Organization.

Mr. Cohen, who implicated the president in his crimes when he pleaded guilty in August, has met with investigators for Mr. Mueller and with federal prosecutors in New York, seeking to provide information that could mitigate his sentence, which is scheduled for Dec. 12.

He told federal prosecutors he conferred with Mr. Trump in the weeks before the 2016 election about paying Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film star known professionally as Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about her allegations of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. He told them that Mr. Trump urged him to “get it done.”

Mr. Cohen has also described to prosecutors his discussions with Mr. Trump and a Trump Organization executive about how to pay Ms. Clifford without leaving the candidate’s fingerprints on the deal.

Mr. Trump’s involvement in the payments, by itself, wouldn’t mean he is guilty of federal crimes, according to Richard Hasen, a law professor at University of California, Irvine, who specializes in election law. A criminal conviction would require proof Mr. Trump willfully skirted legal prohibitions on contributions from companies or from individuals in excess of $2,700, he said.

When the Justice Department accused John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, of using illegal campaign contributions to conceal an affair during his 2008 presidential run, he argued the money was meant to hide his mistress from his wife, not to influence the election. A jury acquitted him of one charge and deadlocked on the rest.

Managing bad press

Mr. Trump was leading in most polls for the Republican presidential nomination in the summer of 2015 after announcing his candidacy for president. His past behavior with women—flings with models and divorces that played out in the New York tabloids—caused concern among his advisers.

Mr. Pecker could help manage bad press. The men’s relationship dated to the 1990s, when Mr. Pecker’s former employer, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, put out “Trump Style,” a quarterly magazine for guests at Trump properties.


Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

Michael Cohen on whether he is loyal to Donald Trump

2017

’18

September 2017

“I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president.”

July 2018

“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will.”

When Mr. Pecker took over as chief executive of American Media in the late 1990s, he imposed a moratorium on negative stories about Mr. Trump, who was known among Enquirer staff as an “F.O.P.,” or Friend of Pecker.

Mr. Pecker’s August 2015 Trump Tower meeting was arranged by Mr. Cohen. The media executive promised Mr. Trump he would flag to Mr. Cohen any negative stories about women that came to the Enquirer’s attention.

In May 2016, Ms. McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the year, began to consider telling her story of a nearly yearlong affair with Mr. Trump. She believed the story would come out regardless, after another former Playboy model posted a tweet alluding to a relationship between the two.

Ms. McDougal retained Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in representing women who’d had affairs with celebrities. Mr. Davidson reached out to Dylan Howard, American Media’s New York-based chief content officer, to gauge the company’s interest in buying Ms. McDougal’s story.

Messrs. Pecker and Howard alerted Mr. Cohen, who in turn warned Mr. Trump, by then the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who in turn phoned Mr. Pecker for help.

On June 20, 2016, Mr. Howard flew to Los Angeles to meet Ms. McDougal at her lawyer’s office.

Mr. Howard spent hours interviewing Ms. McDougal, pressing her for every detail of the alleged affair. Ms. McDougal seemed reluctant to go public with her story.

“I don’t want to be the next Monica Lewinsky,” Ms. McDougal said, referring to the young White House intern who was vilified after her affair with President Bill Clinton became public. Mr. Howard told her that without documents corroborating her story, it wouldn’t be worth more than $15,000.

When Mr. Howard finished interviewing Ms. McDougal that day, he and Mr. Pecker got on a three-way call with Mr. Cohen to discuss what she had said. They noted she had produced no proof of an affair with Mr. Trump.


Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Donald Trump on whether he knew about the payment to Stormy Daniels

2017

’18

April 2018

Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

“No.”

Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

“No, I don’t know.”

May 2018

“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties.”

Mr. Howard told Mr. Davidson that Ms. McDougal should get back in touch if she found any evidence of the alleged affair.

After the meeting, Messrs. Pecker and Howard learned Ms. McDougal had also been meeting with investigative reporters at ABC News about sharing her story in a televised interview.

Mr. Cohen updated Mr. Trump on developments throughout. The ABC talks prompted American Media to offer to buy Ms. McDougal’s story for $150,000 in early August.

The contract gave the publisher the exclusive rights to her story, and guaranteed Ms. McDougal and American Media two magazine covers on which she would appear as a model. As part of the deal, American Media had the option of publishing health and fitness columns under Ms. McDougal’s name.

In a Skype call, Mr. Howard told Ms. McDougal the covers and columns would help resuscitate her modeling career.

Mr. Pecker researched campaign-finance laws before entering into the McDougal deal. The question was: Would American Media’s payment amount to an illegal campaign contribution to Mr. Trump? Corporations are barred under federal law from giving directly to candidates, either in cash or in-kind contributions.

After speaking with an election-law specialist, Mr. Pecker concluded the company’s payment to Ms. McDougal wouldn’t violate the law, because the magazine covers and health columns gave him a business justification for the deal.

The contract had an effective date of Aug. 5, 2016. Ms. McDougal signed it the following day.

Mr. Cohen assured Mr. Pecker that Mr. Trump would reimburse the publisher, and they began to devise a repayment plan at the end of that month.

‘All the stuff’

Concerned Mr. Pecker might leave American Media, Mr. Cohen wanted to buy other materials the company had gathered on Mr. Trump over the years, including source files and tips. In a meeting at the Trump Organization offices in early September, Mr. Cohen told Mr. Trump of his plan.

Mr. Cohen, who complained to associates about Mr. Trump’s frugality, was also worried his boss would balk at reimbursing Mr. Pecker. He secretly recorded Mr. Trump discussing the deal.

More
Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star’s Silence (Jan. 12, 2018)
‘What’s He Doing Here?’: Inside Trump’s Turbulent Relationship with Michael Cohen (June 15, 2018)
National Enquirer’s Yearslong Dealings With Trump Lawyer Fall Under Federal Scrutiny (July 25, 2018)
‘Boss, I Miss You So Much’: The Awkward Exile of Michael Cohen (April 26, 2018)
Cohen Would Turn Against President if Charged, Counselor Warned Trump (April 18, 2018)
Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty, Says Trump Told Him to Pay Off Women (Aug. 21, 2018)
Why Michael Cohen Agreed to Plead Guilty—And Implicate the President (Aug. 22, 2018)
How Dollars Flowed From Trump Organization to Michael Cohen (Aug. 22, 2018)
“Um, I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that—I’m going to do that right away,” said Mr. Cohen, according to a copy of the audio file.

As Mr. Cohen explained his plans, Mr. Trump spoke over him: “So, what are we gonna pay…One-fifty?” Mr. Trump asked. Mr. Cohen paused and replied, “Yes.”

Mr. Cohen said he would be getting “all the stuff,” meaning the other files on Mr. Trump he had been seeking. They discussed the uncertainty about what might become of the files if Mr. Pecker no longer ran American Media. “Yeah, I was thinking about that,” Mr. Trump said. “Maybe he gets hit by a truck.”

Messrs. Pecker and Cohen signed a contract for the transfer of the McDougal story in late September. Mr. Cohen set up a shell company in Delaware for the transaction on Sept. 30.

The publisher would assign the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story to Mr. Cohen for $125,000—the value they put on Ms. McDougal’s agreement with American Media minus the magazine covers and fitness columns, the rights to which the publisher would retain.

Mr. Pecker called off the Trump-reimbursement deal in October 2016 on the advice of his lawyer. Accepting reimbursement from Mr. Trump, the executive worried, could undermine any argument that the McDougal payment was made for editorial and business reasons, rather than as an in-kind campaign contribution.

Mr. Pecker told Mr. Cohen to tear up the reimbursement agreement, but Mr. Cohen kept a copy. Federal agents found it in a search of Mr. Cohen’s office earlier this year.

Stormy surfaces

As the McDougal deal came together, another woman was shopping her story of an alleged tryst with Mr. Trump.

Earlier in 2016, an agent for Ms. Clifford, the adult-film actress, had approached Mr. Howard about selling her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. The agent, Gina Rodriguez, was seeking upward of $200,000 for the story, but Mr. Howard passed.

Ms. Clifford’s story—she said she had sex with Mr. Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe a decade earlier—had already been told in 2011 on a gossip blog, The Dirty. Mr. Howard reminded Ms. Rodriguez that Ms. Clifford had called the report “bulls—” when contacted five years earlier by entertainment channel E!.

Ms. Clifford gained more leverage on Oct. 7, when The Washington Post published previously unaired footage from a 2005 appearance by Mr. Trump on NBC’s “Access Hollywood.” Mr. Trump could be heard on the video chatting with host Billy Bush about groping women.

After the tape surfaced, nearly upending Mr. Trump’s campaign, Ms. Rodriguez reached out to Mr. Howard and told him Ms. Clifford was prepared to go public. Ms. Clifford, through her agent, was in preliminary talks with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”


Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

Michael Cohen on why he paid Stormy Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford

2017

’18

February 2018

“The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

August 2018

“[The payment was made] for the purpose of influencing the election.”

Mr. Howard alerted Mr. Pecker, and they separately spoke to Mr. Cohen about Ms. Clifford. The Trump camp at the time was scrambling to contain fallout from the tape, as women came forward with stories of sexual misconduct by the candidate, all of which he denied.

Ms. Clifford had taken a polygraph test in 2011, when another celebrity publication, Life & Style, was vetting her claims of a sexual encounter. When asked whether she had unprotected sex with Mr. Trump, she answered “yes,” and the examiner found no signs of deception.

Mr. Cohen had been able to kill that earlier story with a legal threat. Ms. Clifford and Ms. Rodriguez wouldn’t be intimidated this time.

Mr. Cohen asked American Media to buy Ms. Clifford’s story. Mr. Pecker refused on the grounds that he didn’t want his company to pay a porn star.

Messrs. Cohen and Trump would have to handle the payment themselves. Mr. Cohen told federal prosecutors he relayed the news to Mr. Trump in his Trump Tower office in the second week of October 2016.

That is when Mr. Trump, smarting from the “Access Hollywood” tape, told Mr. Cohen to “get it done,” according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors.

Within days, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Davidson had negotiated a nondisclosure agreement for Ms. Clifford.

The money was slow in coming because Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, couldn’t settle on a plan for getting it to Mr. Davidson without anyone being able to trace it back to Mr. Trump, according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors. Among the options they considered: routing the payment through a Trump-owned property, Mr. Cohen told prosecutors.

Mr. Cohen offered a suggestion: Why not have Mr. Weisselberg make the payment? “You’re the CFO,” he told the longtime Trump aide, according to Mr. Cohen’s account to prosecutors. “You pay this.” Mr. Weisselberg said he couldn’t come up with the money.

Mr. Cohen had told Mr. Davidson to expect a $130,000 wire transfer by Oct. 14, but missed the deadline, as well as an extension, prompting Ms. Clifford to walk away.

While Mr. Cohen considered a path forward, he offered excuses to Ms. Clifford’s camp. He told Mr. Davidson banks were closed for the Jewish holidays and he couldn’t reach Mr. Trump on the campaign trail. “My guy is in five states today,” Mr. Cohen said.

Mr. Davidson told Mr. Howard on Oct. 25, 2016, that Ms. Clifford would soon speak publicly. Mr. Howard texted Mr. Cohen that they needed to coordinate “or it could look awfully bad for everyone.”

In a tense three-way call on an encrypted app, Messrs. Pecker and Howard urged Mr. Cohen to complete the deal before Ms. Clifford disclosed the hush-money negotiations.

Out of options and time, Mr. Cohen decided to cover the payment himself. “F— it, I’m just going to do it,” he told Mr. Davidson in a phone call.

He drew down his home-equity line and transferred $130,000 to Mr. Davidson on Oct. 27. Ms. Clifford signed a fresh nondisclosure agreement the next day.

That month, a news site called “The Smoking Gun” published an account of Ms. Clifford’s alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. Then-Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon confronted the candidate. Mr. Trump told them the encounter never happened.

Four days before the 2016 election, The Wall Street Journal revealed the $150,000 payment to Ms. McDougal by American Media. The company said at the time Ms. McDougal had been paid for magazine covers and fitness columns and denied buying her story to protect Mr. Trump.

The Trump campaign professed ignorance. “We have no knowledge of any of this,” Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump’s spokeswoman, said of the McDougal deal. Ms. Hicks, who discussed the matter with Mr. Trump before issuing the comment, was relaying what she had been told, according to people familiar with the conversation. She also denied Mr. Trump had sex with Ms. McDougal.

As Mr. Trump headed to victory on Nov. 8, Mr. Howard joined Mr. Cohen at the candidate’s election night celebration at the New York Hilton.

Repaying Cohen

Later that month, after Mr. Trump’s election win, Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Weisselberg to discuss reimbursement for the payment to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Cohen has told federal prosecutors.

Donald Trump’s spokespeople on whether he reimbursed Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels payment

2017

’18

March 2018

“None of these allegations are true.”

—Sarah Sanders

May 2018

“[Trump] paid him back. No campaign finance violations, no crime of any kind. Michael had discretion to solve these.”

—Rudy Giuliani

While Mr. Cohen waited, he asked Mr. Pecker to lobby Mr. Trump to pay him more money.

Mr. Pecker visited Trump Tower twice during the presidential transition. When he raised Mr. Cohen’s request during a meeting in the first week of December 2016, Mr. Trump demurred, saying Mr. Cohen had plenty of money. During Mr. Pecker’s second visit, in January 2017, Mr. Trump thanked him for suppressing the McDougal story.

Mr. Weisselberg soon completed the reimbursement plan.

It would turn out to be a costly deal for Mr. Trump.

Had he just paid the ex-adult film star himself, Mr. Trump would have been out of pocket $130,000. Instead, Mr. Weisselberg authorized a reimbursement of twice that much, characterized in Mr. Trump’s records as legal fees, to cover the income tax hit Mr. Cohen would take. He also added a $60,000 bonus. Mr. Cohen received the money in monthly installments of $35,000.

In the first year of Mr. Trump’s presidency, American Media continued to feature him on the Enquirer cover. In July 2017, Mr. Trump hosted Messrs. Pecker and Howard at the White House for dinner, an Oval Office visit and a private tour of the Lincoln Bedroom led by the president.

After the Journal reported on the payment to Ms. Clifford in January 2018, the relationships between Messrs. Trump, Cohen and Pecker began to fracture.

Ms. Clifford, initially willing to keep quiet, began to seek more exposure and threatened to break the agreement after Mr. Cohen acknowledged paying her in a February statement to the news media. Mr. Trump instructed Mr. Cohen to coordinate with his son Eric Trump to silence Ms. Clifford in arbitration. It didn’t work; Ms. Clifford ignored the arbitrator’s restraining order.

Mr. Cohen continued to insist he had done the deal with Ms. Clifford on his own, while Mr. Trump said he knew nothing about it when talking to reporters on Air Force One on April 5.

“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” the president said. “Michael is my attorney.”

Days later, on April 9, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mr. Cohen’s office, apartment and hotel room. Agents approached Messrs. Pecker and Howard. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed American Media and the Trump Organization, among others.


Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Donald Trump on what kind of work Michael Cohen did for him

2017

’18

April 2018

“Michael is my attorney.”

October 2018

“He represented me on very small things. He was like a public-relations person.”

As Mr. Trump continued to distance himself from Mr. Cohen and the payment, American Media turned on Mr. Cohen, with a National Enquirer cover featuring the headline, “Trump Fixer’s Secrets & Lies.” Mr. Cohen learned he had been let go as Mr. Trump’s personal attorney when he saw it on television.

Both Messrs. Cohen and Pecker began seeking to minimize their exposure. Mr. Pecker, granted immunity for his grand jury testimony, told investigators about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the McDougal deal.

Three years after Mr. Pecker promised to work with Mr. Cohen to help Mr. Trump, the deals they made have unraveled. Ms. McDougal and Ms. Clifford have both been let out of their hush agreements after filing lawsuits.

The three men no longer speak to one another.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-tru ... 1541786601


Michael Avenatti: The Case for Indicting the President

Justice Department lawyers have said a sitting president cannot be indicted. It’s time to test that proposition by bringing an indictment that can be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

By Michael Avenatti
Mr. Avenatti is the lawyer for Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Sept. 13, 2018

Sol Wachtler, a former chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, once famously remarked that grand juries were so easily swayed that they would “indict a ham sandwich” if a prosecutor requested it. Many times, there is truth to this. But an indictment does not end the process of determining guilt or innocence. It begins it.

Following indictment, criminal defendants can question the validity of the charges, the methods used to acquire the evidence and the evidence itself. They can seek to dismiss a criminal indictment and, if unsatisfied with the ruling, appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court.

The grand jury system has been employed in hundreds of thousands of cases involving all manner of crimes committed by all manner of people. All, that is, except one: the president.

No grand jury has ever indicted a president, and consequently no court, let alone the Supreme Court, has ruled on the critical question of whether the Constitution allows a president to be indicted while in office. Legal scholars have opined on both sides of the issue, and Department of Justice attorneys have drafted memorandums arguing against indicting a sitting president. But none of these analyses establish definitive rules of law. It is time to clarify the issue.

Provided there is sufficient evidence to support an indictment of President Trump — and there are many indications that there is — the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, and prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, who are investigating payments to my client, Stormy Daniels, and Karen McDougal, should present their evidence to grand juries. Those jurors, citizens of our communities, should then determine whether the evidence supports an indictment of Mr. Trump.

The fact that Mr. Trump is a sitting president should not derail a process that applies to all Americans, regardless of stature or station. He would still have the post-indictment relief available to all citizens, including the ability to challenge the constitutionality of the indictment. Some also argue that indicting the president would critically impair his ability to lead the country. But this is a White House already engulfed in chaos and daily distractions. And if the House were to initiate impeachment proceedings, it is hard to see how that process would be any less distracting than a criminal indictment.

Support for indicting a sitting president can be found in the Supreme Court’s 1997 unanimous decision in Clinton v. Jones, holding that a sitting president has no immunity from civil litigation in federal court from acts done before taking office and unrelated to duties as president. That decision later famously led to President Bill Clinton’s sworn deposition testimony, which in turn served as the basis for impeachment charges.

On the other side of the argument, Assistant Attorney General Randolph D. Moss wrote a memorandum opinion in 2000 analyzing the constitutionality of indicting a sitting president. This followed a 1973 analysis by Assistant Attorney General Robert G. Dixon Jr. that examined the same issue in connection with the Watergate scandal. Both concluded that the Constitution makes a sitting president immune from indictment.

But other constitutional scholars have reached the opposite conclusion. Ronald Rotunda, who was part of the Watergate investigative team and served as an adviser to Kenneth Starr when he was the independent counsel investigating President Clinton, concluded in 1998: “It is proper, constitutional and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties. In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.” Mr. Starr himself said this week that he believes the Constitution allows for the indictment of a sitting president.
Editors’ Picks


But however well intentioned and instructive those memorandums and analyses might be, they do not begin to approach the weight of an actual Supreme Court decision. Our democracy and our belief in the rule of law for all, including presidents, should not rest on such a soft foundation.

Instead, if the facts and evidence are adequate for indictment, then prosecutors must be blind to the officeholder’s position — especially so in this case because, unlike in President Clinton’s case, the investigations relate to how Mr. Trump won the election. Ultimately, the question would almost certainly be decided by a panel of judges previously confirmed pursuant to the Constitution — either in the courts of appeals or, more appropriately, the Supreme Court.

Which brings us to the question of who on the Supreme Court should be allowed to review an indictment against the president. Last week, during his confirmation hearing, Judge Brett Kavanaugh refused to commit to recusing himself in the event he was confirmed and a case involving the investigation of Mr. Trump were to reach the Supreme Court. He took this position despite the fact that his strong views in favor of presidential immunity are outside the legal mainstream and he was chosen by Mr. Trump during known inquiries into the conduct of the president and his campaign. This is wrong.

Should Mr. Trump be indicted and in the event that the case reaches the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh’s recusal should be mandatory. The American public’s view of impartiality of the rule of law and of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance.

Michael Avenatti is the lawyer for Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in her lawsuits against President Trump and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/13/opin ... niels.html
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:27 pm

Konstantin Kilimnik: elusive Russian with ties to Manafort faces fresh Mueller scrutiny
New details emerge about 48-year-old said to have ties to Russian intelligence, including the use of a private jet owned by an oligarch close to Putin
Peter Stone in Washington
Fri 9 Nov 2018 01.00 EST Last modified on Fri 9 Nov 2018 01.04 EST

Mueller is investigating Konstantin Kilimnik with assistance from three Kilimnik associates, including Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.
Robert Mueller is investigating Konstantin Kilimnik with assistance from three Kilimnik associates, including Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters
A Russian man who is said to have ties to Moscow’s intelligence services will be receiving renewed scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian 2016 election interference, according to former federal prosecutors.

Mueller is investigating Konstantin Kilimnik with assistance from three Kilimnik associates, including Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who mentored Kilimnik as a political operative for pro-Kremlin figures in Ukraine.

What's next for the Trump-Russia inquiry now Sessions has been fired?
Read more
Kilimnik, an elusive 48-year-old, has already been charged by Mueller with witness tampering. His most recent business partner has been charged with illegally funneling $50,000 from a wealthy Ukrainian into Trump’s inauguration fund.

Kilimnik was also caught up in Manafort’s apparent intentions in 2016 to use his position at Trump’s side to settle multimillion-dollar debts claimed by their ex-client Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

In addition to Manafort, Mueller’s team is also making use of plea agreements with Manafort’s former deputy, Rick Gates, and with the lobbyist Sam Patten, both of whom were Kilimnik business associates and must cooperate with investigators.

Chuck Rosenberg, a former US attorney in Virginia, said: “It’s a safe bet that prosecutors will be asking the cooperators about conversations they had with Kilimnik and others, and would also likely ask about their knowledge of Kilimnik’s dealings with people like Deripaska.”

Nick Akerman, a former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, said: “If there’s anybody who might provide a connection between the campaign and the Russian government it could be Kilimnik. If anybody can explain the ties, if any, between the campaign and the Russian government, it would be Manafort.”

Interviews with Kilimnik associates, congressional sources, Russia and Ukraine experts, and reviews of records have disclosed previously unreported details about Kilimnik’s work with Manafort and Patten, and other ties to Deripaska, the Russian oligarch friendly with Putin:

• Kilimnik used a jet owned by Deripaska for at least one leg of an oddly timed and brief trip to New York to meet Manafort in early August 2016, according to two sources familiar with congressional investigations. Their meeting took place soon after a meeting that Kilimnik has said he had in Moscow with Deripaska.

• During the decade he worked with Manafort in Ukraine as a translator and fixer, Kilimnik and his boss used a Deripaska plane several times for Moscow trips to meet the oligarch and his associates, according to a former colleague. Manafort made at least 18 trips to Moscow between 2005 and 2011, as McClatchy first reported. Kilimnik accompanied Manafort on most of these trips, which were made primarily for meetings with Deripaska and his associates, according to the former colleague.

• Kilimnik’s work with Manafort dates back longer than is widely known. When Kilimnik was fired from his job heading the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) office in Moscow in early 2005, after he was caught secretly working part-time for Manafort, the pair had been working together for almost a year, two former colleagues said.

• In February 2014, as Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych was poised to flee to Russia after a violent crackdown on protests, Kilimnik worked with Patten on a new project. The two arranged meetings in Washington with US officials and other influential figures for Serhiy Lyovochkin, then Yanukovych’s recently departed chief of staff, according to a Ukrainian official. Lyovochkin became a leader of Opposition Bloc, a successor to Yanukovych’s party, and was allegedly the source of the $50,000 that Patten helped illegally funnel into Trump’s inaugural coffers.

Kilimnik did not respond to emails from the Guardian requesting comment, including specific queries about whether he used a Deripaska plane. A reporter who tried to approach Kilimnik’s home in Moscow was turned away by security guards. A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.


Kilimnik, a fluent English speaker and graduate of a Russian military school who is barely 5ft tall, is recalled by former colleagues as sharp-minded and politically conservative. “He talked a lot about the US,” said one. “He was strongly Republican-leaning.”

Over the years, he helped Manafort rake in tens of millions of dollars for political consultancy and lobbying in eastern Europe. Their big-money clients included Ukrainian oligarchs, Yanukovych’s pro-Moscow party and the Russian oligarch Deripaska, an industrial tycoon estimated to be worth $3bn.

If there’s anybody who might provide a connection between the campaign and the Russian government it could be Kilimnik
Nick Akerman, Watergate prosecutor
While working for the IRI – a non-profit funded by the US government – Kilimnik began working on political side-projects backed by Deripaska, according to former associates. They said the extra cash allowed Kilimnik to upgrade his lifestyle with a stylish car and trips to London for parties featuring vodka ice sculptures.

But he was careful to leave little trace of his activities. Colleagues said he was known for avoiding email and photographs, and wiped IRI computer systems on his way out. Some now wonder if it was a product of training. The FBI assesses that Kilimnik “has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016”, Mueller’s team said in a court filing, in March, in which Kilimnik was described only as “Person A”.

The filing also said Gates, who worked closely with Manafort and Kilimnik in Ukraine, privately specified to an associate in 2016 that Kilimnik was “a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU”, the agency accused of waging “information warfare” against US politics using social media and email hacking.


Senior justice department veterans told the Guardian that Mueller’s allegation against Kilimnik would have required significant evidence and could be a central area of inquiry for the special counsel’s team.

“It means that intelligence analysts have integrated information from a wide range of sources, considered the reliability of and any uncertainties regarding the information, and explored alternatives,” said Mary McCord, who formerly led the DoJ’s national security division, and is now teaching at Georgetown University Law Center. “I would not expect the special counsel to rely on an intelligence assessment in a court filing unless he had confidence in the assessment.”

Rosenberg thought likewise. “Prosecutors have a duty of candor to the court and would only make representations that they know or believe to be true,” he said.

Some former Kilimnik colleagues are unfazed by Mueller’s allegations. Philip Griffin, who helped hire Kilimnik as a translator for IRI and then lured him away to work for Manafort, told the Guardian that Kilimnik’s intelligence ties during his years working with him in Ukraine never worried him.

“It never occurred to me that it would be a big deal if he was reporting to Moscow,” Griffin said. “Is there such a thing as an ex-spy? It didn’t concern me.” Griffin said Kilimnik served as a key strategist for Manafort: “He helped Paul have an insight into the Russian mind.”

A key question for Mueller’s prosecutors is whether Kilimnik played a role, and if so what, in a Russian cyber-operation aimed at sowing discord in the 2016 elections and – according to the conclusions of US intelligence – helping Trump win.

As Mueller’s interest in Kilimnik increased last year, Kilimnik abruptly left Kiev with his wife and two children and moved to Moscow, where he had lived in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He is now living in a gated community in Khimki, the same Moscow suburb that houses the GRU unit accused by Mueller in an 11-count indictment in July of spearheading the hacking of Democratic emails in 2016.


Kilimnik is known to have visited the US in May and August 2016 to see Manafort, reportedly to discuss outstanding financial issues with their Ukraine work. Deripaska has alleged in a lawsuit in New York that he is owed $25m by Manafort and Gates after they used his money in a failed cable investment in Ukraine on which Kilimnik worked.

Right after Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, he and Kilimnik began emailing and brainstorming about avenues to escape the Deripaska litigation threat and improve ties with the powerful oligarch, who according to the AP once was paying them $10m annually.

Soon after Manafort was hired by Trump – initially to help round up enough party delegates to win the Republican nomination – he emailed Kilimnik to make sure Deripaska knew of his key role and suggesting they find a way to make themselves “whole” with him.

In July 2016 emails first disclosed by the Washington Post, Manafort floated a scheme to offer the oligarch “private briefings” on the Trump campaign, and told Kilimnik to pass along the proposal to Deripaska, apparently in an effort to gain favor with the oligarch and settle Deripaska’s lawsuit. Manafort, Kilimnik and Deripaska have all said no such proposal was ever formally made.

Just before meeting Manafort in New York in early August, Kilimnik said in an email to his former boss that he had met with Deripaska for five hours in Moscow and that the oligarch had raised important issues about his “country’s future” that they needed to discuss.

Kilimnik didn’t identify Deripaska in his email to Manafort by name, but coyly referred to the “guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar several years ago”, according to the email, which the Atlantic first reported.

Seeming to take pains to be discreet, Kilimnik proposed a quick trip to meet with Manafort to brief him on the talks with Deripaska. “We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you. He asked me to go and brief you on our conversation.”

Kilimnik added that he told Deripaska he had to “run it by you first”, but is ready to come “provided that he buys me a ticket. It has to do about the future of his country, and is quite interesting.”

And Kilimnik said he could come quickly, “even next week”. Manafort replied that Tuesday 2 August would be best, and the two men reportedly met that day at the Grand Havana Room, a cigar bar in in midtown Manhattan.

Congressional investigators have been interested in the coincidence that a Deripaska owned Gulfstream G550 jet arrived the airport in Newark, New Jersey, very early on 3 August and departed later that day. Two sources familiar with the inquiries said they have “reason to believe” Kilimnik was on the flight back to Moscow.

Deripaska rejects this. Asked whether Kilimnik used a Deripaska jet for his trip, a spokesperson for the Russian oligarch said: “We vigorously deny all these allegations and false information which has no ground and is being plotted by someone who for more then (sic) a year has been unsuccessfully trying to develop a story which does not exist.” It was not clear who was being blamed for the alleged plot.

Previously, a Deripaska spokesperson told Vice News that the plane was only used by the oligarch’s family members to make a quick shopping trip to the US.

Deripaska’s spokesperson also flatly denied earlier that the oligarch “directly or indirectly communicated with Manafort in 2016”, an assertion that is at odds with Mueller’s court filings and Kilimnik’s July emails with Manafort.

Basic Element benefits from a close relationship with the siloviki – the ex-security officials who serve as Kremlin powerbrokers
Mike Carpenter
The close proximity of Kilimnik’s New York and Moscow meetings is a logical area for Manafort and Gates to be questioned about by Mueller’s office, said Akerman, the former prosecutor.

Two and a half weeks after Kilimnik’s New York meeting, Manafort abruptly left the campaign on 19 August, after reports of a secret ledger in Ukraine showing $12.7m in off-the-books cash payments that Manafort received over several years from Yanukovych’s party.

In September 2016, Deripaska was visiting New York where he had a surprise visit from FBI agents who tried unsuccessfully to get his cooperation with their initial inquiries into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, as the New York Times first reported.

This April, Deripaska and some of his companies were among seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies they owned or controlled, and 17 Russian government officials who were hit by treasury department sanctions for “malign activity” worldwide “including attempting to subvert western democracies, and malicious cyber activities”.

Deripaska’s company, Basic Element, has its own Russian intelligence ties. An aluminum and energy giant, Basic Element has long employed a former high-level intelligence operative with Russia’s FSB, who this year became the company’s chief executive. The executive, Valery Pechenkin, served in a key security position for more than a decade with Basic Element before his promotion.

Mike Carpenter, a top Russia policy official in the Pentagon during Barack Obama’s administration, said the case exemplified how the public and private sectors had been “captured by the ex-KGB elite” in Russia.

“Pechenkin is a former KGB officer who served as FSB deputy director for counterintelligence when Putin was the agency’s director,” said Carpenter. “Basic Element certainly benefits from having a close, symbiotic relationship with the siloviki – the ex-security officials who currently serve as Kremlin power brokers.”


Mueller’s team is also likely to have grilled Patten for everything he knows about Kilimnik. In August, prosecutors announced Patten had admitted to using a US company that he and Kilimnik formed to illegally funnel $50,000 from Lyovochkin, the wealthy pro-Russian Ukrainian politician, to Trump’s inauguration fund. As part of a plea deal, Patten agreed to cooperate fully with Mueller’s investigation.

Patten, a fellow veteran of the IRI in Moscow, formed the company with Kilimnik in Washington in 2015. Together they did political consultancy work in Ukraine and unregistered lobbying in the US, according to court filings, and were paid more than $1m in all. A spokesperson for Lyovochkin denied he had supplied the funds. Kilimnik was not charged in Patten’s case.

Investigators will also be reviewing emails and other communications sent by Kilimnik since 2016. When charging Kilimnik in June with obstructing justice, Mueller published more than a dozen messages Kilimnik sent to a pair of witnesses early this year over the encrypted messaging applications WhatsApp and Telegram.

“My friend P is looking for ways to connect to you to pass you several messages,” Kilimnik wrote in one message. “Can we arrange that.” Kilimnik and Manafort are charged with conspiring to urge two associates to lie in order to cover up unregistered lobbying work in the US by influential European figures they had recruited in a secret scheme to help Yanukovych bolster his image in America.

Before that, Mueller’s team caught Kilimnik and Manafort emailing about ghost-writing an article defending Manafort, which was to be published in the name of a former Ukrainian government spokesman while Manafort awaited trial in Virginia this year. The discovery led a judge to reprimand Manafort, who was ultimately convicted on eight counts of bank fraud, tax evasion and other financial misdeeds.

Another Kilimnik link with Manafort was highlighted during the trial, when testimony indicated the Russian was listed as the beneficial owner on some of the 31 offshore accounts that were used by Manafort in his financial scheming.

Perhaps significantly, Mueller court filings also revealed that Kilimnik had numerous contacts with Gates in the weeks just before the 2016 election.

John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, who now directs the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, said he thought it “highly likely” that Kilimnik retained his ties to Russian intelligence through the 2016 elections. “It would be in his interest to keep them informed and channel information to them,” said Herbst.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... rt-mueller
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