Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:03 pm




TWO FACES


Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi Pushed Seth Rich Lie After Privately Admitting Hackers Stole DNC Emails



Newly released email shows the Russia truthers knew full well who supplied Wikileaks. They kept blaming a murdered staffer, even after his parents begged them to stop.
Will Sommer
11.28.18 3:39 PM ET

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast
Russian hackers weren’t the ones behind the theft of Democratic emails that upended the 2016 presidential race, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi told his InfoWars fans last year. Instead, Corsi said, Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had stolen the emails and was murdered in revenge for the heist.

But Corsi was lying. In an email to Trump confidante Roger Stone in 2016, Corsi acknowledged that hackers were behind the email theft, according to newly released messages.


Despite that admission, both Corsi and Stone played key roles promoting the conspiracy theory about Rich. Stone became one of the first major figures in Trump’s orbit to suggest Rich was murdered over the emails, tweeting on August 10, 2016 that Rich had “ties to DNC heist.”

In 2017, after Rich’s parents begged right-wing media personalities to stop pushing conspiracy theories about their son, Corsi put the blame for the email theft on Rich in a three-part InfoWars series.

In his InfoWars posts and a series of YouTube videos, Corsi portrayed Rich as a disaffected supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who stole the emails to get revenge against the DNC and paid for it with his life. Corsi wrote Rich had clearly been “implicated in breaches of email systems.” The young staffer was, according to Corsi, the “likely perpetrator.”

Corsi’s theory helped fuel conspiracists on the right who claim, without evidence, that Rich was murdered on the orders of Hillary Clinton. But emails from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia show that Corsi knew all along that it really was hackers who gave the emails to WikiLeaks.


In an August 2, 2016 email, made public Tuesday in draft court papers prepared by Mueller’s office, Corsi told Stone that “hackers” were behind the WikiLeaks releases.

“Time to let more than [Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta] to be exposed as in bed with enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC,” Corsi wrote. “That appears to be the game hackers are now about.”

By August 2016, cybersecurity experts had identified the hackers as Russians and it was widely reported the U.S. government reached the same conclusion.

Corsi’s biggest push for the Seth Rich conspiracy theory came in his 2017 series for Alex Jones’ InfoWars, where Corsi worked as a Washington bureau chief.


Days earlier, Rich’s parents had pleaded with Corsi and his allies to stop claiming that their son’s unsolved July 2016 murder, which police believe was a botched robbery, was actually an assassination. The conspiracy theories, they wrote in The Washington Post, had turned his death into a “political football.”

Corsi pressed on anyway, despite knowing that hackers had been behind the email theft. The first item in his InfoWars series promised that “new evidence suggests Seth Rich was DNC leaker.”

Corsi and Stone didn’t respond to requests for comment. Rich’s family, who are currently engaged in several lawsuits over the conspiracy theories about Rich’s death, declined to comment.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/roger-sto ... dnc-emails



emptywheel

Interesting question in this: whether Corsi's reference to hackers will help the Rich family's lawsuits against the hoaxsters.


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

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:54 pm


Trump adviser sought WikiLeaks emails via Farage ally, Mueller document alleges

Ted Malloch was allegedly passed request to get advanced copies of emails stolen from Trump’s opponents by Russian hackers

Jon Swaine
Last modified on Wed 28 Nov 2018 15.58 EST

An ally of Nigel Farage was asked to obtain secret information from WikiLeaks for Donald Trump’s team during the 2016 election campaign, according to US investigators.

Ted Malloch, a London-based academic close to Farage, was allegedly passed a request from a longtime Trump adviser to get advance copies of emails stolen from Trump’s opponents by Russian hackers and later published by WikiLeaks.

The allegation emerged in a draft legal document drawn up by Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and any collusion with Trump’s campaign team.

In response to a series of questions from the Guardian, including whether he had acted on the request to make contact with WikiLeaks, Malloch said in an email: “No and no comment.”

Trump appeared increasingly anxious on Wednesday following the latest burst of activity from the investigation that has clouded his presidency. He claimed, without evidence, in a tweet that Mueller’s team was “viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts” in return for favourable treatment.

The latest revelations come as the role of the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has come under greater scrutiny amid reports in the US that Mueller is looking into his meeting with the Ecuadorian president in 2017. On Tuesday sources also told the Guardian that Manafort met with Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, a claim denied by both men.

Malloch, 66, has been under scrutiny by Mueller for months, amid suggestions that he may have served as an important nexus in 2016 between Trump’s White House bid and the campaign to secure Britain’s exit from the EU.

He was stopped and questioned by the FBI in March upon his arrival at a US airport and said his mobile phone was inspected by investigators. Mueller later subpoenaed him to appear before a grand jury considering the inquiry’s findings.

Malloch, who is American, told the BBC soon after Trump’s election win in November 2016: “I’ve had a lot of contact. I’ve been involved with the campaign for over a year and a half.” He was in Washington for Trump’s inauguration.

He was at the same time close to Farage and other influential Brexit campaigners. Farage wrote the afterword for a book by Malloch subtitled An Insider’s Look at the Trump Victory. Elsewhere in the book, Malloch said of Farage: “The government should use him as a back channel to Trump.”

Last year Glenn Simpson, a Washington-based investigator whose firm prepared the explosive Trump-Russia dossier in 2016, told congressional investigators: “I think Ted Malloch is an important person in this whole picture.” Simpson urged authorities to examine the activities of Malloch and Farage, who has denied any involvement.

Mueller’s draft legal document said that on 25 July 2016, Malloch was forwarded an email from Roger Stone, a notorious “dirty trickster” close to Trump. Stone wanted someone to make contact with Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who had just published the first tranche of emails stolen from the Democratic party and was promising more revelations.

“Get to Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending WikiLeaks emails,” the email said, according to Mueller’s document. The email was sent by Stone to Jerome Corsi, a conservative author, who promptly forwarded it to his friend Malloch.

Mueller said Corsi understood Stone “to be in regular contact with senior members of the Trump campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J Trump”.

Six days later, Stone allegedly emailed Corsi again to say Malloch “should see Assange”. Then on 2 August, Corsi replied to Stone: “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps … Impact planned to be very damaging.” Corsi allegedly erased the emails from his computer but they were recovered by investigators.

In keeping with justice department convention, Mueller’s document did not identify WikiLeaks, Assange, Corsi, Stone or Malloch by name, referring to them instead with titles such as “person 1” and “overseas individual”.

Corsi said in an interview on Wednesday that Malloch did not respond to his email and did not visit Assange. He claimed to have gathered information about Assange’s intentions from other sources. Assange went on to publish emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta, disrupting her campaign.

“Ted Malloch and I were in touch. Roger Stone wanted Malloch to go and see Julian Assange and I did pass the message on,” said Corsi. “But to my knowledge he did not. I don’t think he ever saw Assange.”

The draft Mueller document accused Corsi of lying to investigators about his own involvement. It said Corsi claimed to have declined Stone’s request for help contacting WikiLeaks when in fact he passed it to Malloch. The draft was part of a plea agreement proposed by Mueller’s team, which Corsi has said he rejected. The document was shared with reporters by Corsi.

Corsi is one of several Mueller targets to have struck agreements with Trump’s lawyers to share information about the ongoing inquiry. In a highly unusual arrangement, Manafort has continued to pass information to Trump’s team even after signing a deal to cooperate with Mueller. That deal was scrapped on Monday as Mueller said Manafort had continued lying to investigators.

Malloch, who once taught at the University of Oxford, was last year discussed as a candidate to be Trump’s US ambassador to the EU before a Financial Times article exposed numerous false claims he had made about his credentials.
https://amp.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... ssion=true

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:24 am

Image



big news

campaign finance :D

tied to business deal in Russia!....trump tower in Russia!!! FELIX SATER

TRAVELED TO RUSSIA

DISCUSSION INTO 2017.........

TRUMP NAMED IN OPEN COURT CO CONSPIRATOR

STEELE DOSSIER IS BECOMING MORE INTERESTING BY THE DAY

Michael Cohen to Plead Guilty to Charge in Mueller Investigation

Nov. 29, 2018
Michael D. Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance laws, bank and tax crimes.Mike Segar/Reuters


Michael D. Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance laws, bank and tax crimes.Mike Segar/Reuters
Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, who pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws, made a surprise appearance in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday morning to plead guilty to a new criminal charge, the latest turn in the special counsel’s investigation of Mr. Trump and his inner circle.

The development comes at a particularly perilous time for Mr. Trump, whose presidency has been threatened by Mr. Cohen’s statements to investigators. In recent days, the president and his lawyers have increased their attacks on the Justice Department and the special counsel’s office.

The expected new guilty plea in Federal District Court marks the first time the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has charged Mr. Cohen. In exchange for pleading guilty and continuing to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, he may hope to receive a lighter sentence than he otherwise would.

The moves comes just two weeks before Mr. Cohen, 52, is scheduled to be sentenced for his earlier guilty plea. That case, which also included bank and tax crimes, was brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

This week, Mr. Mueller accused Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of repeatedly lying to investigators in breach of a plea agreement. And Mr. Trump’s lawyers recently submitted his written responses to questions from Mr. Mueller, who the president accused on Tuesday of operating a “Phony Witch Hunt.”

It was just three months ago that Mr. Cohen, pleading guilty for the first time, stood up in a different Manhattan courtroom and accused Mr. Trump of directing hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign to conceal potential sex scandals. Those payments formed the basis of the campaign finance charges against Mr. Cohen.

Although Mr. Cohen’s first plea agreement did not include a formal cooperation deal, he had sat for repeated interviews with Mr. Mueller’s investigators.

He also offered assistance to the office prosecuting him, the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, according to a person briefed on the matter. (Mr. Mueller’s investigators referred the investigation of Mr. Cohen to the Southern District earlier this year).

The Southern District said last month in a court filing that it was continuing to investigate “Michael Cohen and others.” While the filing did not identify other suspects, the prosecutors are expected to examine whether people in Mr. Trump’s circle were aware of Mr. Cohen’s criminal conduct.

In the Southern District case, Mr. Cohen already faced a potential prison sentence of about four to five years under the nonbinding federal sentencing guidelines, according to his plea agreement. It is unclear what additional time he could face with the new guilty plea.

During his plea hearing in August, Mr. Cohen admitted to making a $130,000 payment to an adult film actress, Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.

The payment amounted to an illegal contribution to Mr. Trump’s campaign, prosecutors argued, since her silence bolstered his election hopes and campaign finance law prohibits individuals from donating more than $2,700 to a presidential candidate.

Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to arranging what amounted to an illegal corporate campaign donation when he helped to silence a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal. At Mr. Cohen’s urging, the tabloid publisher American Media Inc. bought the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump but did not publish a story.

“I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” Mr. Cohen said in court in August when he entered his plea.

He said that the payments to the women were made “in coordination with, and at the direction of, a candidate for federal office” — a reference to President Trump.
Michael Cohen to Plead Guilty to Charge in Mueller Investigation

Nov. 29, 2018
Michael D. Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance laws, bank and tax crimes.Mike Segar/Reuters


Michael D. Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance laws, bank and tax crimes.Mike Segar/Reuters
Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, who pleaded guilty in August to breaking campaign finance laws, made a surprise appearance in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday morning to plead guilty to a new criminal charge, the latest turn in the special counsel’s investigation of Mr. Trump and his inner circle.

The development comes at a particularly perilous time for Mr. Trump, whose presidency has been threatened by Mr. Cohen’s statements to investigators. In recent days, the president and his lawyers have increased their attacks on the Justice Department and the special counsel’s office.

The expected new guilty plea in Federal District Court marks the first time the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has charged Mr. Cohen. In exchange for pleading guilty and continuing to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, he may hope to receive a lighter sentence than he otherwise would.

The moves comes just two weeks before Mr. Cohen, 52, is scheduled to be sentenced for his earlier guilty plea. That case, which also included bank and tax crimes, was brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

This week, Mr. Mueller accused Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of repeatedly lying to investigators in breach of a plea agreement. And Mr. Trump’s lawyers recently submitted his written responses to questions from Mr. Mueller, who the president accused on Tuesday of operating a “Phony Witch Hunt.”

It was just three months ago that Mr. Cohen, pleading guilty for the first time, stood up in a different Manhattan courtroom and accused Mr. Trump of directing hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign to conceal potential sex scandals. Those payments formed the basis of the campaign finance charges against Mr. Cohen.

Although Mr. Cohen’s first plea agreement did not include a formal cooperation deal, he had sat for repeated interviews with Mr. Mueller’s investigators.

He also offered assistance to the office prosecuting him, the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, according to a person briefed on the matter. (Mr. Mueller’s investigators referred the investigation of Mr. Cohen to the Southern District earlier this year).

The Southern District said last month in a court filing that it was continuing to investigate “Michael Cohen and others.” While the filing did not identify other suspects, the prosecutors are expected to examine whether people in Mr. Trump’s circle were aware of Mr. Cohen’s criminal conduct.

In the Southern District case, Mr. Cohen already faced a potential prison sentence of about four to five years under the nonbinding federal sentencing guidelines, according to his plea agreement. It is unclear what additional time he could face with the new guilty plea.

During his plea hearing in August, Mr. Cohen admitted to making a $130,000 payment to an adult film actress, Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.

The payment amounted to an illegal contribution to Mr. Trump’s campaign, prosecutors argued, since her silence bolstered his election hopes and campaign finance law prohibits individuals from donating more than $2,700 to a presidential candidate.

Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to arranging what amounted to an illegal corporate campaign donation when he helped to silence a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal. At Mr. Cohen’s urging, the tabloid publisher American Media Inc. bought the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump but did not publish a story.

“I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” Mr. Cohen said in court in August when he entered his plea.

He said that the payments to the women were made “in coordination with, and at the direction of, a candidate for federal office” — a reference to President Trump.


Roger Stone and Randy Credico Claimed Access to WikiLeaks. Both Now Say They Were Bluffing.

They’ve called BS on themselves. Now it’s Mueller’s problem.

Dan FriedmanNovember 28, 2018 12:30 PM

Roger Stone (left) and Randy CredicoMichael Ares/The Palm Beach Post/ZUMA; Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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In 2016, Randy Credico and Roger Stone, old associates on opposite sides of the political spectrum, were each eager to tout their access to WikiLeaks, the radical transparency group releasing tranches of emails stolen by Russian hackers from Democrats. Two years later, with special counsel Robert Mueller scrutinizing possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, both men are just as eager to disavow having possessed any special knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

Credico, in interviews with Mother Jones, claims that in 2016 he “bullshitted” Stone into thinking that he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his inner circle. And Stone maintains that his own comments during the campaign, in which he said he had “communicated” with Assange and appeared to accurately predict WikiLeaks’ anti-Clinton releases, were nothing more than “posture, bluff, [and] hype.” The pair have meanwhile spent the past year accusing each other of lying about their interactions in the final months of the 2016 election. Stone says much of his information on WikiLeaks came from Credico. Credico denies that. What really happened is hard to know, but the difficult task of separating the facts from the BS in the messy Stone-Credico melodrama has fallen to Mueller. In the end, Stone and Credico may have indeed concocted or exaggerated their claims of inside access—but their efforts to appear in-the-know could nevertheless lead to serious consequences.

“I was playing with him,” Credico says of Stone. “I didn’t have anything. I was a spectator like he was.”
During the 2016 campaign, Stone’s strident tweets and statements implying knowledge of what WikiLeaks was up to buttressed his reputation as a plugged-in political trickster. (He also insisted that the Russians had nothing to do with the Democratic National Committee hack, echoing and amplifying Kremlin disinformation.) But after Donald Trump won an unexpected victory and US intelligence agencies concluded Russian intelligence had hacked Democrats and passed material to WikiLeaks in a bid to help Trump, Stone’s comments became a problem: possible evidence that he had a hand in coordinating the release of the stolen documents.

Appearing before the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017, Stone shifted his story. He said he had merely feigned familiarity with Assange’s plans, relying on guesswork and a WikiLeaks intermediary that his lawyer eventually identified to the panel as Credico.

A New York-based comic and left-leaning political activist, Credico was a die-hard WikiLeaks supporter who hosted a radio show that Assange appeared on as a guest. He also was close with Margaret Ratner Kunstler, a lawyer who represented Assange’s group. Credico and Stone had formed an unlikely political friendship in 2002 when they both backed the independent gubernatorial bid of Tom Golisano in New York. They were allies of sorts again during the 2016 campaign: A backer of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and, after his primary loss, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Credico shared Stone’s desire to harm Hillary Clinton’s heavily favored campaign.

Credico has strenuously denied he was Stone’s source. But that claim came into question earlier this month when NBC News reported on a series of texts Credico exchanged with Stone during the final months of the 2016 election. The messages, in which Credico stated that WikiLeaks was poised to release damaging material on Clinton, seem to support Stone’s contention that Credico offered him information on WikiLeaks.

Yet prior to these text communications with Credico, Stone had already publicly asserted he had inside knowledge of WikiLeaks. And he appears to have had another source, right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. On Tuesday, NBC News reported that Corsi sent an email to Stone on August 2, 2016, to say that he had learned that WikiLeaks planned two upcoming document dumps, the second in October. The email is cited in a draft court document that Mueller’s team shared with Corsi. The document says Corsi lied to federal prosecutors by claiming he had rejected Stone’s request that he contact WikiLeaks to obtain information about its plans to release hacked Democratic emails. Corsi, too, has claimed publicly that he merely deduced WikiLeaks’ plans without inside information. “I was probably pumping myself up in an email,” Corsi told the Washington Post. (Stone told NBC that his correspondence with Corsi does not “provide any evidence or proof that I knew in advance about the source or content of any of the allegedly stolen or allegedly hacked emails published by WikiLeaks.”)

Credico, in response to the report on his texts with Stone, now tells Mother Jones that he misled Stone, saying he “bullshitted” the Republican operative into thinking he had access to WikiLeaks that he actually lacked. That claim resembles Stone’s current story that he faked inside knowledge of WikiLeaks. That is, both men now contend they were dissembling. That may be true, but even if so, the bragging has still landed Stone in Mueller’s crosshairs. Stone may yet be charged for some role in the email dump, but even if he isn’t, Mueller is reportedly investigating him for obstruction of justice and perjury. Credico also faces consequences for his role in all this—at least legal fees and public attacks. But he insists he spoke honestly when he appeared before Mueller’s grand jury and has no legal worries.

Stone “called up screaming, ‘How come they haven’t put anything out?’” Credico says. “He was frantic. I’ve never seen him like that.”
According to Stone, he released his texts with Credico now—instead of months earlier, when Credico began disputing his account—because his attorneys recently extracted the communications from an old phone. Spanning late August to early October 2016, the texts, which Stone’s lawyer, Grant Smith, provided to Mother Jones, do not represent all the texts that passed between the men in that period. Smith says he excluded “everyday stuff” unrelated to WikiLeaks. (Credico says the texts are presented out of context, but he declined to elaborate.)

“Julian Assange has kryptonite on Hillary,” Credico wrote Stone on August 27, two days after Assange called in to Credico’s radio show. Assange phoned in from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has taken refuge for the past six years.

A month later, on October 1, Credico texted Stone: “big news Wednesday. Now pretend you don’t know me.”

“U died 5 years ago,” Stone responded, a reference to his once starting a rumor that Credico was dead.

“Hillary’s campaign will die this week,” Credico added 14 minutes later.

At the time, Credico had just returned from London, where he had planned to visit with Assange. But, Credico now says, he never made it past embassy security. Yet he led Stone to believe the visit had taken place as planned, even sending Stone selfies from outside the embassy.

“I was playing with him,” Credico tells Mother Jones. “I didn’t have anything. I was a spectator like he was.”

“It was pure bullshit talk,” Credico adds, noting that he only knew that Assange had suggested in late July that WikiLeaks planned to release more information on Clinton before Election Day. “I bluffed and guessed.”

On Sunday October 2, 2016, shortly after hearing from Credico, Stone tweeted, “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #WikiLeaks.” But October 5 came and went without news from WikiLeaks. Still Stone publicly professed confidence. “Libs thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking,” he tweeted. “Payload coming.”

But privately Stone “was wigging out,” according to Credico, who recalls Stone was bombarding him with questions about the delay. Stone “called up screaming, ‘How come they haven’t put anything out?’” Credico says. Credico was critical of Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy views, and he says Stone tried to play on that, repeatedly asking, “Do you want a war with Russia?”

“He was frantic,” Credico notes. “I’ve never seen him like that.”

“What the fuck do you want me to do about it?” Credico says he replied. He maintains he had had no way to influence WikiLeaks’ timing and did not try.

Stone did not respond to questions about those alleged phone calls.

On Friday, October 7, WikiLeaks finally released a trove of emails hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, dumping them 30 minutes after the Washington Post published the Access Hollywood video in which Trump boasted of grabbing women “by the pussy.”

When Trump won the election, seemingly aided by WikiLeaks’ releases, Stone and Credico’s alleged access to WikiLeaks became liabilities. Each was subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee. Credico, who says Stone urged him not to cooperate with the panel, asserted his Fifth Amendment right to decline to testify. And as he was drawn into the Russia scandal, Credico privately lashed out at Stone for dragging him into a legal morass. He was saddled with legal bills and had trouble finding work with progressive organizations repelled by his apparent role in the controversy.

Messages that Credico has provided to Mother Jones show that Stone at first tried to assuage Credico, at one point offering to help Credico raise money to cover his legal expenses and telling him that he was working to get the Trump administration to issue a “blanket pardon” for Assange. Stone’s messages to Credico also show he was eager to stop Credico from publicly disputing his description of Credico as his back channel to WikiLeaks. (Stone says this is because his claim was true.)

But as Credico began publicly contradicting Stone’s account in media interviews, the Republican operative grew increasingly combative, sending Credico a string of menacing text messages. “Prepare to die cock sucker,” Stone wrote in one email to Credico this spring.

Meanwhile, the special counsel’s focus on Stone appeared to intensify. Mueller summoned more than a dozen Stone associates for interviews or grand jury testimony. Among them was Credico, who appeared before the grand jury in September. Credico has met several times with Mueller’s investigators, and he is scheduled to sit down with them again next week.

In August, Mother Jones reported that Mueller was reviewing Stone’s emails to Credico. Several publications have since reported that Mueller’s investigators are examining whether Stone’s missives amounted to witness tampering or obstruction of justice. Stone insists he merely urged Credico to tell the truth. But in an obstruction case, threatening messages as well as inducements—such as offering help with legal fees or a pardon for Assange—could be seen as an effort to influence a witness.

Mueller is also reportedly examining whether Stone perjured himself during his House Intelligence Committee testimony. Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-Calif.), who is set to become chairman of the committee in January, said recently that “some of [Stone’s] answers before our committee are highly suspect.” Schiff has said he plans to ask the Justice Department to prosecute witnesses he believes misled the committee.

Stone, who denies lying to the panel, says it is Credico who should be worried. He claims that if Credico told the grand jury what he has said publicly—that he was not Stone’s back channel—he is the one who could face perjury charges. “Everyone should be demanding answers from Mr. Credico as to why he lied over and over again,” Smith, Stone’s lawyer, said in an email. Yet Credico says he stands by his grand jury testimony and asserts that Stone lied to the Intelligence Committee.

Who is telling the truth? Maybe neither.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... -bluffing/



THE SWAMP BUILDERS
How Stone and Manafort helped create the mess Trump promised to clean up


By Manuel Roig-Franzia Nov. 29, 2018
On that particular April 1 in Washington, in the midst of a presidential primary season trending toward a Reagan landslide, Paul Manafort had a lot to celebrate.

The Republican operative with the thick, meticulously parted black hair and magnetic smile was turning 31. And by a quirk of bureaucratic fate, his new business happened to be officially launching on that same day in 1980.

The little shop that Manafort opened in Alexandria, Va., was envisioned as a political consulting business, like so many others in the capital. But in the coming months — as the candidate he worked for, Ronald Reagan, swept into the White House — Manafort had another idea to bounce off his two partners, Charlie Black and Roger Stone.

They should be lobbyists, too.

“I said, ‘Why in the hell would we want to do that? It’s boring as hell!’ ” Black recalled in a recent interview. “Paul said it wasn’t at all boring.”

Manafort had one more thing to say: “It paid well.”

That caught Stone’s attention.

“You bet,” Stone recalled. “I’m interested in making a living!”

‘ALL THE BEST PEOPLE’
How President Trump’s inner circle has changed the way Washington works.


PART ONE: Donald Trump Jr.’s journey back to family loyalty. Story

None of them knew it then, but that one conversation, a chat among three ambitious young Reaganites — Stone was just 28 and Black only 33 — would have a transformative effect on the capital, nudging Washington into a generation-long evolution. Their business would morph into a then-unheard-of hybrid, a bipartisan firm that would help elect politicians — sometimes hedging by playing both sides in the same race — then lobby those same politicians. Radical, disruptive and frequently criticized as ethically unsavory at the time, the mix is de rigueur now.

“I don’t think they invented the swamp,” said John Donaldson, a veteran Washington strategist who was an early employee of the firm. “They invented an innovative way to navigate the swamp.”

Roger Stone has a rule: 'Deny everything.' And he does.
7:34
Several of Roger Stone’s longtime associates have been interviewed by the special counsel. The Post visited Stone, just as Mueller’s probe zeroes in on him. (Monica Akhtar, Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)
One of the first clients of the firm they christened Black, Manafort & Stone was a New York developer named Donald J. Trump, brought into their portfolio by Stone, who’d met him through the notorious Gotham lawyer Roy Cohn.

The brash Reagan boys would become essential architects of the city Trump now dominates, a place where the line between the lobbyists and the lobbied is so blurred that some question whether it exists at all.


By the time their business was born, they were already expert navigators of loopholes — Black and Stone, along with GOP operative John T. “Terry” Dolan, had founded the National Conservative Political Action Committee, best known as Nick-Pac, five years earlier. The hyperaggressive group was one of the first to bundle contributions to circumvent limits on individual campaign contributions, and was a precursor to the rise of super PACs, which candidate Trump lambasted four decades later as prime examples of Washington’s swamp problem.


A 23-year-old Paul Manafort is seen in Miami Beach for the 1972 Republican National Convention in support of President Richard M. Nixon. (Associated Press)
The partners’ new full-service influence business so prospered that they soon shrugged off their humble digs in a modest townhouse office across the Potomac from the capital and built their own swanky lobbying palace a few blocks away. From that perch, they set in motion a chain of events that led straight to the Trump White House.

It was Stone who ushered then-candidate Trump into the fringy netherworld of Internet conspiracy enthusiasts and far-right activists by arranging for him to appear on “Infowars,” the program hosted by Alex Jones that boasts a massive digital following and has a penchant for spreading outrageously false stories.

Stone would also help Trump reach out to mainstream Republicans by suggesting that he hire Manafort as campaign chairman. Manafort, who owned an apartment in Trump Tower but wasn’t close to the candidate, was sold to Trump by Stone and others as the perfect man to tap long-standing connections with party regulars in the event of a floor fight at the Republican convention.

“I don’t think they invented the swamp, they invented an innovative way to navigate the swamp.”
John Donaldson, veteran Washington strategist

Trump — who vowed to bring “all the best people” to Washington as president — is now knit in scandal with both Manafort and Stone. Manafort has been convicted in a fraud case and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice in another legal matter in return for cooperating in the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in support of Trump in 2016.

Stone, an early adviser to Trump’s election effort, has been the subject of intensifying grand jury scrutiny in the same special counsel probe related to statements he made in 2016 predicting the release by WikiLeaks of documents damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

But on that April day long ago, with grand juries and subpoenas far off in their futures, Manafort and Stone were about to make themselves star players in a Washington game of their own devising, a game with rules they were writing as they played it. In a button-down town, they were randy, flashy and flush with cash.

They would sell an idea as much as a service — the notion that everyone ought to have a lobbyist. Not just corporations and special-interest groups, but also African warlords and Western Pacific strongmen. The politicians they’d help to elect would be their allies in the sales game.

“That was a new game. Nobody had done that before,” said longtime Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who worked with Manafort and Stone in the Reagan campaign. “It’s the epitome of everything everybody wants to clean up.”


Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater in the 1980s. (Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post)
A lesson in loyalty

In 1970, a high school kid named Roger Stone arrived at the Connecticut state convention of Young Republicans, a group of fresh-faced conservative activists that had played an outsize role in shifting the GOP to the right in the previous decade.

Stone, born in Norwalk, Conn., the son of a well-drilling company owner, had shown up with more than his share of bravado — but without a hotel room. Dolan, Stone’s friend and a future Republican kingmaker, walked the teenager over to meet a guy who could help.

Paul Manafort Jr. had a pedigree in Connecticut politics. His father, Paul Manafort Sr., was a local Republican macher and mayor of New Britain, Conn. The younger Manafort served in a leadership role with the Young Republicans. To Stone, he looked like a budding master of the universe.


“Hey, kid, how ya’ doin’?” Stone recalled Manafort saying before getting down to sussing him out. “Why are you supporting Weicker?”

Manafort was referring to Lowell Weicker, a moderate Republican candidate for governor. Manafort, clearly, was testing the kid.

“You think I give a f--- about Weicker? I’m here to elect Meskill,” Stone shot back, meaning Thomas Meskill, a conservative U.S. Senate candidate admired by youthful Republicans, such as Manafort, who were trying to steer the party to the right.

Stone, who’d become an arch right-winger after reading Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative,” had passed the test.

In a city saturated with visitors, Manafort almost magically found Stone a hotel room.

Stone eventually became entranced with Richard M. Nixon and earned the respect of the Nixon team with a dirty trick in New Hampshire: Stone made a contribution to one of Nixon’s rivals in the 1972 presidential campaign in the name of a socialist group and then passed the receipt to a local newspaper.


Roger Stone checks his phone in his office in Oakland Park, Fla., in April 2017. (Andrew Innerarity/For The Washington Post)
During Nixon’s first term, Stone said, he rented a room from the president’s influential campaign aide, Herbert L. “Bart” Porter, in the Palisades neighborhood of Northwest Washington. On the night of the Watergate break-in, Stone said, Porter was out of town and Stone spent the evening taking urgent phone messages from Watergate figures, such as G. Gordon Liddy, who organized the burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

What animated Stone and Manafort in those days wasn’t the mechanics of running the government. “Government is impossibly dull,” Stone is wont to say. What juiced him, rather, was the thrill of scheming how to win campaigns.

Manafort was a master strategist, but in the mid-1970s he made a miscalculation. Going against his friends Stone and Black, in 1976 he supported a full term for President Gerald Ford, who’d become chief executive after Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal.

Black said he and Stone “thought Ford was a loser.”

Manafort had been expected to become president of the national Young Republicans. Ford’s loss to Democrat Jimmy Carter turned Manafort into a liability.


“It’s almost Shakespearean,” said Donaldson, who would become Manafort’s colleague at Black, Manafort & Stone. “There had been all these people who had been asking Paul for favors. Ford loses, now nobody was returning his phone calls. He’s ostracized.”

Manafort wasn’t about to remain outside the power structure. He and Black crafted a plan: Stone, despite his dirty-trickster reputation, would run for the Young Republican presidency in his buddy’s place.

Manafort, meanwhile, got on a plane and persuaded Stone’s chief rival to run for treasurer rather than president.

“Paul Manafort’s a dealmaker,” Stone recalled. “He told him it’s better to be treasurer.”

In 1977, Stone was elected head of the Young Republicans.

The experience changed Manafort, friends say. “He remembered people who didn’t return his phone calls,” Donaldson said.

From then on, Donaldson said, Manafort saw the world in starker terms. There were Manafort loyalists. Then there was everyone else.


President Ronald Reagan and Stone at the Chrysler plant in Detroit in September 1980. (Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
New dawn for lobbying

In 1980, Stone signed on as Northeast coordinator for the Reagan campaign. Black and Manafort would also join the campaign in senior roles.

Michael Deaver, the Reagan adviser, gave Stone a Rolodex of the candidate’s contacts in New York. Stone flipped through it and scoffed.

“Of 50 names, 40 were dead,” Stone recalled. “The rest were show business relationships.”

Only one name in the Rolodex interested him: Roy M. Cohn.

Cohn was Stone’s sort of guy. He’d been the prosecutor in the 1950s espionage trials of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and he’d been chief counsel to Sen. Joseph P. McCarthy, the communist-hunting rabble-rouser. When Stone arrived at Cohn’s Manhattan apartment, the lawyer was sitting with one of his clients, Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno of the Genovese mob family.

Cohn suggested Stone go meet a friend: Donald Trump. The dashing young real estate developer, still in his early 30s and building his empire both in business and as a tabloid celebrity, was also busy conjuring the legend that he was a self-made success story, rather than the son of a wealthy man who set him up in business. In Stone, he encountered a bon vivant with a similar gift for grand illusion.

Trump made a contribution to Reagan. As the campaign moved along, he called Stone frequently, Stone said.

“He kept track of his investment,” Stone said. “He was constantly checking in. He’d say, ‘Carter’s a piece of s---. If you can’t beat that guy!’ ”

Just as Reagan’s candidacy was about to take off with a February victory in the New Hampshire primary, Black was fired as part of a campaign shake-up. He turned to his friends, Manafort and Stone, and the three decided to launch their own firm, with the Reagan campaign as an early client.

Reagan’s victory in 1980 supercharged the fledgling firm. Manafort, shunned after Ford’s loss, was fielding calls again. Blue-chip corporations wanted lobbyists with connections to the new administration. Eventually, the three partners pulled in clients such as household products giant Johnson & Johnson, the investment banking firm Salomon Brothers, and for a short time, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., according to lobbying registration reports.

Black, Manafort & Stone were an unusual combination.

“It was a marriage of convenience,” Donaldson said. “That’s not a group you would see talking together at a cocktail party.”

The spectacular rise and fall of Paul Manafort
17:58
Before he joined the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort made a name for himself in the D.C. lobbying world, but his past caught up with him. (Dalton Bennett , Jon Gerberg, Jesse Mesner-Hage/The Washington Post)
Black was the insider’s insider, a tactician with a long list of contacts, content to eat lunch at his desk. Manafort was the chess player, a triangulator extraordinaire who was getting a taste for the high life. Stone was the enigma, a flashy character in public with his Cab Calloway-style tailor-made suits, suspenders — he insisted they be called by their proper name, “braces”— and felt hats. He was a mystery even to those who worked down the hall from him.

“He was on his own wavelength,” Donaldson said. “He would sit through meetings not saying a word, then say something cryptic.”

Stone could be biting. K. Riva Levinson, who joined the firm in her mid-20s, remembered him staring at her during a meeting. She’d just bought a new outfit with a checked pattern — her first formal business ensemble. Stone turned to her and said, “Riva, you look like you could be on the cover of a box of Purina Dog Chow.”

Levinson couldn’t afford mascara, so she’d sometimes put Vaseline on her eyelashes. Stone told her she looked as if she had sex lubricant all over her face.

Stone said he recalled making similar comments but remembered the setting differently, saying his remarks were part of an annual office roast.

Manafort and Black each presided over teams of young associates. Stone preferred to work with a skeleton crew — usually just one assistant — all the better to keep his secret activities on political campaigns opaque and build his mystique. He burned through assistants.


Business poured in. Stone inked political clients, such as New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean (R), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), a future presidential contender. Corporate clients brought in the big money, but it was the firm’s reputation as a politically connected shop that lured them.

“I went out and signed the Trump Organization,” Stone said. “That was my big client.”

There was little that Stone wasn’t willing to do for Trump in those days, as now. When the New York developer bought a yacht — then one of the largest in the world — from the arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, Stone maneuvered to get approval for a dredging operation so it could be docked at a marina in New Jersey.

“Those permits can take years,” Stone recalled. “I got it done in months.”

How?

“I’m Roger Stone,” he said.

Trump was a famous client but not necessarily a huge revenue generator for the firm, even as they worked on projects such as getting around height restrictions for a Chicago skyscraper and blocking competition for his casinos from Indian tribes.

“Donald Trump never pays anybody a lot,” Stone said.

Nor was he particularly easy to handle when bills came due, Black said.

“We had trouble getting paid on time,” he recalled.

A pattern developed, Black said. He would call Trump to ask him to pay an overdue bill, and Trump would start off saying he’d pay half.

“When I have cash, I’ll pay you the rest,” Trump would say, according to Black.

Black would respond: “I’m sure, Donald, you’ve got cash.”

Trump would then tell Black to come up to New York to see him. Black would fly to Manhattan to collect a check.


Donald Trump and Stone in 1999 in Newark for the swearing-in of Trump’s sister as a federal appeals court judge. At the time, Stone was director of Trump’s presidential exploratory committee for a possible Reform Party candidacy. (Daniel Hulshizer/Associated Press)
After Reagan’s reelection in 1984, the firm added Peter Kelly, the former finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, as a named partner. It has often been said that the addition made the new firm — Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly — the first bipartisan lobbying shop in town.

That’s mythology, Black says. In fact, he says, there was another bipartisan operation, headed by William Timmons, a former Ford administration official. But Black and partners scaled the idea, signing a larger roster of clients.

“I broke his business model,” Black said.

Breaking business models was profitable. By Reagan’s second term, they were rich men. Stone boasted to The Washington Post that each of the partners was on track to make $450,000 a year — an unfathomable amount for Washington in that era.

Stone made his presence known around town, holding court at his regular tables at the Palm and A.V. Ristorante, the Italian joint that was a favorite of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Stone’s caricature on the wall at the Palm was accompanied by the caption “Whiz Kid”; he jauntily recounted that he once found a steak knife stuck into the drawing.

Stone drove around in Euro-cool Citroën, then switched to a Jaguar and a chauffeur-driven Mercedes. He and his first wife, Ann “Bitsey” Stone, hosted an annual Calvin Coolidge birthday party that became one of the capital’s more coveted invites. He’d introduce everyone to his dog Milhous (Nixon’s middle name).

“They were very good at painting targets on themselves.”
James Carville

Stone was like a gatekeeper to Nixon, whom he’d befriended in the disgraced president’s post-Watergate years. He arranged off-the-record get-togethers at Nixon’s New Jersey home for some of the capital’s most prominent journalists.

With success came scrutiny and no small measure of disdain for the young hotshots widely touted as some of the capital’s biggest power brokers. In a Post profile, one Republican luminary called him the party’s “single best consultant,” and another dismissed him as “one of the great all-time frauds of American politics.”

“We were controversial,” Stone recalled with a shrug and a grin. “Yeah, I helped Arlen Specter get elected, and yeah, I lobbied Arlen Specter. So what?”

In another Newsweek column, the prominent Democratic campaign consultant Raymond Strother worried that the changes Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly and other firms were bringing to Washington were a threat “to the democratic process.” Strother singled out the firm for raising money for two opponents in a Louisiana Senate race: Democrat John Breaux and Republican Henson Moore.

“When one firm works for both candidates, it’s not hard to guess who wins on election night,” Strother wrote.

Kelly remembers responding: “Do you have to lose to be American?”

“It was something new, and Washington doesn’t like new things,” Kelly said. “But within five years, every firm was bipartisan.”

Stone wasn’t about to apologize for their new prominence and power. Once “laughed at as an outcast” for supporting Reagan, now he threw lawn parties catered by French chefs and hired consultants just to advise him about flower arrangements.

“They were very good,” said James Carville, who faced off against the firm in a Senate race, “at painting targets on themselves.”


Manafort testifies before a congressional hearing in 1989, prompted by a scandal in which his firm made more than $300,000 in fees to steer Housing and Urban Development renovation funds to a New Jersey development in which Manafort was a part owner. At the hearing, he said he was involved in “influence peddling.” ( James K.W. Atherton/The Washington Post)
‘The Torturers’ Lobby’

One day in 1985, Kelly awoke to bad news. A story was breaking that Manafort was secretly working on behalf of the Chamber of Philippines Manufacturers, Exporters and Tourist Association under a contract that would pay the firm $950,000.

The name of the group was anodyne. But everyone knew it was a front group for Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos, whose corrupt regime was ransacking that country’s treasury.

Kelly says he had no idea Manafort had taken on the group as a client. Kelly was furious because, at the time, he was chairman of the Center for Democracy, an organization working to support the democracy movement in the Philippines.

“It was a terrible embarrassment for me,” said Kelly, who had to remove himself from the project to avoid a conflict of interest.

Colleagues began to joke about Manafort. “We used to say, ‘He never met a conflict of interest,’ ” Donaldson said.

Manafort, in spin mode, told Newsweek he’d merely been “trying to help both sides understand each other better” in the Philippines.

The firm was well on its way to becoming Exhibit A of a Washington phenomenon known as “The Torturers’ Lobby” — highly paid firms working for despots and tyrants. Manafort allies argued that the firm generally vetted his clients through the State Department and that it was not uncommon in that era for the United States to align itself with controversial governments that had bad human rights records but were nonetheless allies in the global battle against communism.

The Philippines misadventure led to some bad press. The firm was eventually forced to pull out of the contract. But it didn’t temper Manafort’s swagger.

“He’s an amazingly charismatic and exciting person to be around,” Levinson recalled. “He projects strength, power and confidence. . . . It was the place to be.”

In 1986, the firm once again showed its muscle when it took credit for getting Reagan to include Angolan rebels in his State of the Union address as “freedom fighters” who deserved U.S. support. That same year, the firm arranged for its client, Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, to appear on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference seated alongside Vice President George H.W. Bush.

The firm also inked a $1 million-a-year deal with Mobutu Sese Seko, the leader of Zaire who had been accused of rampant human rights abuses.

It was more than just the big fees that attracted Manafort, according to Black. It was also the rush. “He liked adventure,” Black said.


John McCain campaign adviser Charlie Black walks on the tarmac in Santa Barbara, Calif., in June 2008. The consulting firm he helped create in 1980 — Black, Manafort & Stone — recruited Trump as one of its first clients. (LM Otero/Associated Press)
In 1989, Manafort dispatched Donaldson and Levinson to Somalia in the hope of signing the warlord Mohamed Siad Barre to a $1 million consulting contract to polish his image and, hopefully, persuade him to cease human rights abuses.

“We all know Barre is a bad guy, Riva,” Manafort told Levinson, as she wrote in her memoir and in a recent Post column. “We just have to make sure he’s our bad guy.”

Levinson and Donaldson returned from a harrowing trip to a nation overwhelmed by violence without a deal.

“We should never have been pitching the president of Somalia,” Donaldson said. “But Paul kept pushing it.”

At home, Manafort played the role of the alpha male at boozy golf weekends for men at the firm.

“He’d take his cart and roll over your ball,” Donaldson recalled. “He would rearrange the rules to suit him. His golf game could be kind of like a cipher for some of his other activities.”

Manafort was starting to favor fancier clothes and pricey real estate.

“I think Paul started chasing money a little too much,” Black said.

Former associates recall a master pitchman. But Manafort’s belief that he could sell anything to anyone could get him into trouble.


In 1989, staffers begged him not to make a bold pronouncement when he appeared at a congressional hearing prompted by a scandal in which the firm made more than $300,000 in fees to steer Housing and Urban Development renovation funds to a New Jersey development in which Manafort was a part owner. In a staff meeting, Manafort declared that he wanted to concede that he was involved in “influence peddling.”

“We said, ‘That is a horrible idea!’ ” Donaldson recalled.

But Manafort insisted. He used the term during his prepared remarks, saying, “For the purposes of today, I will admit that in a narrow sense some people might term it ‘influence peddling.’ ” And he repeated it in response to questions, a hint of a smile crossing his face.

“It was a combination of being proud of what he did and not wanting to BS the committee,” Donaldson said. “He never thought there was anything wrong with what we did.”

Levinson ultimately concluded that Manafort “lacked a moral compass,” a characterization Black calls unfair.

“It’s not true that Paul always lacked a moral compass,” Black said. “I think he tried to do the right thing.”

The firm was sold in 1991 to the public relations giant Burson-Marsteller, but the partners stayed on. In 1996, Manafort left to start his own firm.

That same year, Rollins — who’d known Manafort from the Reagan campaign — wrote in his memoir about having dinner in 1991 with a Philippine power broker who said he’d delivered a suitcase with $10 million in cash from Marcos to give to the Reagan campaign. The man said the money went to a well-known lobbyist, whom Rollins didn’t identify. Rollins wrote that the money was no doubt sitting in “some offshore bank.”

For years, amid rampant speculation that the unnamed lobbyist was Manafort, Rollins steadfastly refused to name him publicly. But in a recent interview, Rollins confirmed that the lobbyist was Manafort.

“By that point in time, everybody knew that Manafort was pretty sleazy,” Rollins said.

Manafort, via a spokesman, called the allegation “total fiction.”


Manafort, then campaign manager for Trump, tours the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Back into Trump’s orbit

The sale of the firm that changed Washington splintered the young crew that had put it together. Black stayed at the new firm. But Manafort was gone, and so was Stone.

“Roger’s style — that’s the reason we parted company,” Black recalled. “He had developed a desire to have a bad-boy image and be famous.”

Stone also had a knack for making himself infamous. In 1996, he was forced to drop out of a volunteer position with Sen. Bob Dole’s presidential campaign after a National Enquirer story said Stone and his second wife, Nydia, had placed an ad looking for sex partners in a swingers magazine. He denied it at the time, blaming a domestic employee who supposedly had access to his computer. Years later, he confirmed in a New Yorker interview that it was true.

Stone eventually moved to Florida, shuttling between there and an apartment he keeps in Manhattan. He consorted with like-minded conspiracy theorists and wrote books with provocative themes, such as “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The case against LBJ,” “The Bush Crime Family” and “The Clintons’ War on Women,” which included an endorsement on the cover from Trump, who called it “one tough book.”

Manafort dived deeper into foreign business adventures, building a multimillion-dollar business and indulging his massive appetite for expensive clothes and luxury real estate. Manafort made millions working for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian leader of Ukraine — an entanglement that would lead to his conviction on fraud charges. Rick Gates, who had been a young researcher at Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, would be the prosecution’s star witness, testifying that he committed crimes on Manafort’s behalf and stole money from him.

[Rick Gates says he lied for years at Manafort’s request and stole from him in the process]

Manafort and Stone stayed in touch. But years would go by when Black barely saw his former partners.


In 2016, Manafort got a call he couldn’t resist. Stone was pushing him to join the Trump campaign, as were other Trump confidants. According to a person close to Manafort, he had to reintroduce himself to Trump.

Manafort’s arrival gave Stone a crucial ally inside an operation he had left months earlier. Stone recalled getting phone calls from Manafort while his old friend was a having a private dinner with Trump and two other campaign officials at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach resort.

[How Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, got the ear of Donald Trump]

Eventually, Manafort was forced off the campaign. He’d pushed for Trump to embrace a more temperate style but quit after his role was diminished in a staff shake-up that gave more power to Stephen K. Bannon, the former Breitbart News chief whose pugnacious manner aligned with Trump’s.

[Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigns]

Though Manafort and Stone were no longer inside the campaign, the two friends had already left their stamp on the presidency to come.

“Roger’s relationship with Trump has been so interconnected that it’s hard to define what’s Roger and what’s Donald,” Manafort said in the documentary “Get Me Roger Stone.” “While it will be clearly a Trump presidency, I think it’s influenced by a Stone philosophy.”

On the eve of Trump’s inauguration, the three partners got together, along with their wives, for dinner at the Palm, one of their old hangouts. It was the first time they’d had a meal together in at least two decades, Stone said.

Before they ordered, they got word that an article was coming out saying that Stone and Manafort were under investigation as part of a probe of possible Russian influence in the 2016 campaign, and that the inquiry included intercepted communications.

It was worrisome. But it seemed to Stone as more of a curiosity than a serious threat. They didn’t think they had too much to worry about, he said.

After all, their man was now in the White House.

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:32 am

Image

emptywheel

January 21, 2016: Putin's office calls Felix Sater to help with a Trump Tower Moscow deal.

That changes the context of Goldstone's dangle about Russian assistance to Trump ... considerably.

Image

Hmm. This feels ... pretty colludey to me.

Can we retire that NO COLLUSION line yet?

https://assets.documentcloud.org/docume ... mation.pdf

I've been corrected:

Trump = Individual 1

Stone = Person 1

So I only have one complaint abt Mueller investigation anymore.emptywheel added,
emptywheel


OK, here's my second complaint abt Mueller's team. You gotta have only one Individual 1 across charging docs. Roger Stone and Donald Trump can't BOTH be Individual 1. https://twitter.com/jonswaine/status/10 ... 8254317568

Here's Buzzfeed's report from last year, describing Cohen's central role in setting up Moscow deal (and updates to Trump about it).



Trump Moscow: The Definitive Story Of How Trump’s Team Worked The Russian Deal During The Campaign
On the day of the third Republican presidential debate, Trump personally signed the letter of intent.

Headshot of Anthony Cormier
Anthony Cormier

Jason Leopold
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on May 17, 2018, at 12:18 p.m. ET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump and Felix Sater (center) in 2007.
Patrick Mcmullan / Getty Images
Donald Trump and Felix Sater (center) in 2007.
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In public statements, Cohen has said that he informed Trump the deal was dead in January 2016, but new records show he was still working on it with Sater at least into June. In May, six weeks before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Sater asked Cohen when he and Trump would go to Moscow. In a text message, Cohen replied: “MY trip before Cleveland. Trump once he becomes the nominee after the convention.”

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

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

But now, the story can be told.

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Help us follow the Trump money trail. Become a BuzzFeed News member.

View of the Lenin mausoleum and the Kremlin.
Lingxiao Xie / Getty Images
View of the Lenin mausoleum and the Kremlin.
Spinning in Putin’s chair

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

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

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

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

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

An architectural rendering of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.
Provided to BuzzFeed News
An architectural rendering of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.
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The tallest tower in Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a celebratory email sent from his Trump Organization account, Cohen asked Sater and Rozov that the “nature and content of the attached LOI not be disclosed” until later and said “we are truly looking forward to this wonderful opportunity.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and billionaire Arkady Rotenberg.
Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and billionaire Arkady Rotenberg.
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“No such thing as a former Russian spy”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sater: “What do you mean?”

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

Architectural renderings of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.
Provided to BuzzFeed News
Architectural renderings of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow.
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“I will not let you fuck with my job”

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

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

The next day: “Where are they?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He added, “Do you think I’m a moron? Do not call or speak to another person regarding MY project.”

Putin and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov (right).
Alexei Druzhinin
Putin and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov (right).
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“We would like to respectfully invite you to Moscow”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the venture did not end in January.

Trump during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Mark Reinstein / Getty Images
Trump during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
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“The entire business class of Russia will be there”

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

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

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

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

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

Sater: “Got it. I’m on it.”

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

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

“Works for me,” Cohen said.

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

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

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

Sater kept holding out hope — working his sources in Russia right through the convention — until July 26, 2016, when Sater, while relaxing in the backyard of his Long Island home, read a tweet by Trump and knew right then that the deal was dead.
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/an ... .svxNggnj7


It provides context for why Trump would be so interested in Putin meeting.
does announcing genocide on twitter violate terms of service?
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 29, 2018 12:58 pm

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Donald Trump’s favorite money laundering bank, Deutsche Bank, just got its headquarters raided :yay :yay

Trump cancels G20 meeting with Putin after bombshell Michael Cohen guilty plea – live
Ben Jacobs

6m ago

Trump says Michael 'Cohen is being a weak person and trying to get a reduced sentence' - video
15m ago 11:41

Trump cancels meeting with Putin in Argentina

Trump had said an hour ago “I probably will be meeting with President Putin.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/liv ... ve-updates



Read Michael Cohen's guilty plea
Zachary Basu1 hour ago
President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in federal court Thursday about plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The big picture: Special counsel Robert Mueller charges that Cohen made three false statements to the Senate Intelligence Committee, including when the project ended, his discussions with Trump about the deal, and the Russian government's response.
https://www.axios.com/read-michael-cohe ... 2925e.html






emptywheel


emptywheel Retweeted OkayMaybeItsRICOHat
My golly imagine that Robert Mueller is dealing out his fucking "report" in charging documents who could ever imagine he would do that?!?!?!?!


OkayMaybeItsRICOHat


Okay. Let's talk about a few reasons today's Cohen plea is significant.

First: it expressly contemplates Cohen's cooperation, which Cohen's previous agreement did not. Suggests that Mueller is satisfied that Cohen's cooperating enough to give him an agreement.

/1



Second: it's not primarily ABOUT Cohen. See, this is bouncing the rubble. It adds one more felony to those Cohen has already taken, with no real marginal effect. It will have an extremely negligible effect, IF ANY, on his sentence. So why bother?

/2



Well, normally a federal prosecutor WOULDN'T bother with a plea that has no impact. But here, the impact is telling the story of the investigation as a whole, and promoting the case that the entire Trump Organization was lying about its degree of involvement with Russia. /3



Though Trump isn't named explicitly, he and his organization figure prominently and obviously in the charging document and plea. That's not something federal prosecutors do lightly.

This strongly implies further action against someone.

/4

/5 Now, we don't have the written factual basis yet (the statement of supporting facts that Cohen agrees to). But reports of Cohen's plea suggest he admitted to these lies to help Trump and Trump's narrative, but notably NOT claiming that Trump knew he'd lie to Congress.



/6 But the conclusion that the President of the United States knew that his personal counsel was repeatedly lying to the Congress of the United States about the President's business is inescapable under these circumstances. /end



/7 Postcript: dogged journalists should look to see which other Trump figures said the same things under oath or in statements to investigators.

https://twitter.com/Popehat/status/1068164092089688065



emptywheel


@emptywheel
2h2 hours ago
More
What Cohen just told us about Trump's "collusion:"

1) Cohen continued to pursue a Trump Tower Moscow deal for far longer than he testified he did, and briefed "family" on it, which presumably includes Don Jr (who therefore lied to Congress about it)

https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/11/29/c ... his-spawn/


2) The plans continued after the campaign got information about emails and were specifically structured around Trump getting the nomination; they ended when the DNC hack was reported

3) Cohen was in direct communication with Dmitry Peskov's office; and Putin's office contacted Felix Sater
7:39 AM - 29 Nov 2018




An explosive letter has been sent to Schiff's office claiming that Papadopoulos coordinated with Russians with Trump's knowledge in the weeks following the election. Authorities are taking the letter "very seriously"

Scott Stedman

Here it is, folks. We had to redact portions of the letter as to not give away any details about the Papadopoulos confidant. It's real, and federal authorities are investigating thoroughly.

1C0DB150-114E-4171-9187-EF2F33E6242F.jpeg
1C0DB150-114E-4171-9187-EF2F33E6242F.jpeg (149.29 KiB) Viewed 1533 times



Folks really need to understand how Putin is using religion to subvert democracy
68249B36-731C-4036-8039-D855D33C5435.jpeg
68249B36-731C-4036-8039-D855D33C5435.jpeg (53.47 KiB) Viewed 1533 times




Papadopoulos’s Russia Ties Continue to Intrigue


The former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign boasted of a Russia business deal even after the election, according to a new letter under review.

George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his interactions with a Russia-linked professor in 2016, went to jail on Monday after fighting, and failing, to delay the start of his two-week prison sentence. But a letter now being investigated by the House Intelligence Committee and the FBI indicates that Papadopoulos is still in the crosshairs of investigators probing a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.The letter, dated November 19 and obtained last week by The Atlantic, was sent to Democratic Representative Adam Schiff’s office by an individual who claims to have been close to Papadopoulos in late 2016 and early 2017. The letter was brought to the attention of Schiff and House Intelligence Committee staff, according to an aide who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The letter was also obtained by federal authorities, who are taking its claims “very seriously,” said two U.S. officials who also requested anonymity due to the sensitivities of the probe.The statement makes a series of explosive but uncorroborated claims about Papadopoulos’s alleged coordination with Russians in the weeks following Trump’s election in November 2016, including that Papadopoulos said he was “doing a business deal with Russians which would result in large financial gains for himself and Mr. Trump.” The confidant—whose name The Atlantic is withholding at their request but whose identity is known to congressional and federal investigators—said they were willing to take a polygraph test “to prove that I am being truthful” and had come forward now after seeing Papadopoulos “become increasingly hostile towards those who are investigating him and his associates.” A lawyer for Papadopoulos declined to comment.Read: A Former Trump Adviser Pleads Guilty to Lying About His Contacts With RussiaIf corroborated, the claims in the letter would add to an emerging portrait of Trump and his associates’ eagerness to strike backdoor deals with Russia even after the intelligence community concluded that Moscow had interfered in the 2016 election. (Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, tried to set up a “backchannel” to Russia in the weeks after the election and met with the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank during the transition period. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, meanwhile, negotiated with the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions before Trump was inaugurated.)Much of the attention in recent days has been focused on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and what the campaign knew about WikiLeaks’ plans to release stolen Democratic emails. But Papadopoulos remains one of the most important figures in the Russia investigation. He was ostensibly the first member of the Trump campaign to learn that the Russians had stolen emails that they planned to use against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Rather than tell the FBI about the Russian “dirt” on Clinton, Papadopoulos continued trying to facilitate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as the campaign wore on. His disclosure to an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that Russia had dirt on Clinton is purportedly what triggered the FBI’s Russia investigation—Australian officials reported the comment to American law enforcement authorities in July 2016, after WikiLeaks released the stolen DNC emails. Federal and congressional investigators are now examining the letter to determine whether Papadopoulos’s ties to Russia were deeper than he has acknowledged, and whether he stayed in Trump’s orbit because of, rather than in spite of, those connections. The confidant who sent the letter to Schiff’s office last week claimed to have witnessed a phone call between Papadopoulos and Trump in December 2016, around the same time that Papadopoulos was allegedly boasting about the Russia deal and sending emails to Flynn and Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon. In one email, Flynn urged Papadopoulos to “stay in touch, and, at some point, we should get together.” Trump has called Papadopoulos “a coffee boy” who played no meaningful role on the campaign.Papadopoulos, who has denied having any financial ties to Russia, has claimed in recent weeks that his contact with a shadowy overseas professor named Joseph Mifsud was a set-up by Western intelligence agencies. Mifsud, who claimed to have high-level Kremlin contacts, told Papadopoulos in April 2016 that the Kremlin had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails—well before the Russian hacks on the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta were made public. Papadopoulos told the FBI that he learned of the Kremlin “dirt” before joining the Trump campaign, but that was a lie, according to prosecutors. He had already been a campaign adviser for well over a month by the time Mifsud told him about the stolen emails.Read: George Papadopoulos Hopes to Fuel Republicans’ Suspicions About the Russia ProbeMifsud was also apparently eager to connect Papadopoulos with his current wife, Simona Mangiante. Mangiante told The Atlantic last month that she first heard about Papadopoulos and his work for the Trump campaign after starting a job at the London Centre of International Law Practice, where Mifsud was the “Director for International Strategic Development,” in September 2016. Mifsud and his associate Nagi Idris told Mangiante over lunch that Papadopoulos, who worked at the London Centre briefly in the spring of 2016, would be visiting London soon, and that if Mangiante met him, she should “make sure” she said she liked Trump—or not discuss politics at all. Mangiante insists, however, that Mifsud never directly introduced her to Papadopoulos, who she says she met on LinkedIn later that fall.Mifsud may only be one part of the story of Papadopoulos’s connections to Russian nationals in 2016. According to the letter sent to Schiff last week, Papadopoulos revealed in late 2016 that “Greek Orthodox leaders” and their Russian counterparts were “playing an important role” in Papadopoulos’s collaboration with the Russians.Papadopoulos’s contact with Greek officials in 2016 have been of some interest to those investigating a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. In a September interview with CNN, Papadopoulos acknowledged for the first time that he told Greece’s foreign minister about the Russian “dirt” on Clinton in May 2016 while visiting the country on a trip authorized by the Trump campaign. Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to visit Greece the very next day, and the foreign minister “explained to me that where you are sitting right now, tomorrow Putin will be sitting there," Papadopoulos told CNN, claiming that his disclosure about the “dirt” was “a nervous reaction” that he just “blurted out.”Read: What Is a 'Proactive Cooperator'?Throughout 2016, Papadopoulos made multiple trips to Greece and developed a working relationship with influential Greek officials while he was serving as a foreign policy advisor on the Trump campaign. In addition to the foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, Papadopoulos had meetings with the former President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Ieronymos II, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. Papadopoulos’s closest association with the Greek government, however, appears to have been with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, an outspoken supporter of Moscow with whom Papadopoulos met several times in 2016 and early 2017, including at Trump’s inauguration. In his congratulatory tweet celebrating Trump’s election victory, Kammenos noted Papadopoulos’s importance in maintaining U.S.-Greek relations. A NATO military intelligence official told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that the Greek Ministry of Defense “is considered compromised by Russian intelligence.”It remains to be seen whether Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, will subpoena Papadopoulos to appear before the panel once the Democrats take control in January. Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, told The Atlantic that, “at the appropriate time,” the congressman hopes to get “full answers on the range” of Papadopoulos’s “contacts with the Russians and their intermediaries.” Boland said that Schiff and his staff “evaluate all information brought to our attention, and remain concerned about the conduct that formed the basis of Mr. Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, as well as his subsequent and apparently contradictory statements.” Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators about “the timing, extent, and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials.”Papadopoulos is not a stranger to the halls of Capitol Hill. He faced Congress for the first time in October, in a private hearing before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees for which he eagerly volunteered following his sentencing one month prior. “I didn’t want to have to expose the biggest political scandal in modern history,” Papadopoulos tweeted ahead of his testimony. “I was happy living on the Greek islands. But, guess life works in mysterious ways and I am happy I was called.” Despite promoting his unqualified willingness to testify before Congress, however, Papadopoulos asked the Senate Intelligence Committee for immunity before agreeing to testify. While the Senate is unlikely to accommodate him, the request itself may signal an awareness on Papadopoulos’s part—or his lawyers’—that he still faces significant legal exposure. Natasha Bertrand is a staff writer at The Atlantic where she covers national security and the intelligence community. Scott Stedman is an independent journalist based in California.
5:57 PM ET

Yuri Gripas / Reuters
George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his interactions with a Russia-linked professor in 2016, went to jail on Monday after fighting, and failing, to delay the start of his two-week prison sentence. But a letter now being investigated by the House Intelligence Committee and the FBI indicates that Papadopoulos is still in the crosshairs of investigators probing a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The letter, dated November 19 and obtained last week by The Atlantic, was sent to Democratic Representative Adam Schiff’s office by an individual who claims to have been close to Papadopoulos in late 2016 and early 2017. The letter was brought to the attention of Schiff and House Intelligence Committee staff, according to an aide who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The letter was also obtained by federal authorities, who are taking its claims “very seriously,” said two U.S. officials who also requested anonymity due to the sensitivities of the probe.

The statement makes a series of explosive but uncorroborated claims about Papadopoulos’s alleged coordination with Russians in the weeks following Trump’s election in November 2016, including that Papadopoulos said he was “doing a business deal with Russians which would result in large financial gains for himself and Mr. Trump.” The confidant—whose name The Atlantic is withholding at their request but whose identity is known to congressional and federal investigators—said they were willing to take a polygraph test “to prove that I am being truthful” and had come forward now after seeing Papadopoulos “become increasingly hostile towards those who are investigating him and his associates.” A lawyer for Papadopoulos declined to comment.

Read: A Former Trump Adviser Pleads Guilty to Lying About His Contacts With Russia

If corroborated, the claims in the letter would add to an emerging portrait of Trump and his associates’ eagerness to strike backdoor deals with Russia even after the intelligence community concluded that Moscow had interfered in the 2016 election. (Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, tried to set up a “backchannel” to Russia in the weeks after the election and met with the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank during the transition period. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, meanwhile, negotiated with the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions before Trump was inaugurated.)

Much of the attention in recent days has been focused on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and what the campaign knew about WikiLeaks’ plans to release stolen Democratic emails. But Papadopoulos remains one of the most important figures in the Russia investigation. He was ostensibly the first member of the Trump campaign to learn that the Russians had stolen emails that they planned to use against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Rather than tell the FBI about the Russian “dirt” on Clinton, Papadopoulos continued trying to facilitate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as the campaign wore on. His disclosure to an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that Russia had dirt on Clinton is purportedly what triggered the FBI’s Russia investigation—Australian officials reported the comment to American law enforcement authorities in July 2016, after WikiLeaks released the stolen DNC emails.

Federal and congressional investigators are now examining the letter to determine whether Papadopoulos’s ties to Russia were deeper than he has acknowledged, and whether he stayed in Trump’s orbit because of, rather than in spite of, those connections. The confidant who sent the letter to Schiff’s office last week claimed to have witnessed a phone call between Papadopoulos and Trump in December 2016, around the same time that Papadopoulos was allegedly boasting about the Russia deal and sending emails to Flynn and Trump’s campaign CEO, Steve Bannon. In one email, Flynn urged Papadopoulos to “stay in touch, and, at some point, we should get together.” Trump has called Papadopoulos “a coffee boy” who played no meaningful role on the campaign.

Papadopoulos, who has denied having any financial ties to Russia, has claimed in recent weeks that his contact with a shadowy overseas professor named Joseph Mifsud was a set-up by Western intelligence agencies. Mifsud, who claimed to have high-level Kremlin contacts, told Papadopoulos in April 2016 that the Kremlin had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails—well before the Russian hacks on the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta were made public. Papadopoulos told the FBI that he learned of the Kremlin “dirt” before joining the Trump campaign, but that was a lie, according to prosecutors. He had already been a campaign adviser for well over a month by the time Mifsud told him about the stolen emails.

Read: George Papadopoulos Hopes to Fuel Republicans’ Suspicions About the Russia Probe

Mifsud was also apparently eager to connect Papadopoulos with his current wife, Simona Mangiante. Mangiante told The Atlantic last month that she first heard about Papadopoulos and his work for the Trump campaign after starting a job at the London Centre of International Law Practice, where Mifsud was the “Director for International Strategic Development,” in September 2016. Mifsud and his associate Nagi Idris told Mangiante over lunch that Papadopoulos, who worked at the London Centre briefly in the spring of 2016, would be visiting London soon, and that if Mangiante met him, she should “make sure” she said she liked Trump—or not discuss politics at all. Mangiante insists, however, that Mifsud never directly introduced her to Papadopoulos, who she says she met on LinkedIn later that fall.

Mifsud may only be one part of the story of Papadopoulos’s connections to Russian nationals in 2016. According to the letter sent to Schiff last week, Papadopoulos revealed in late 2016 that “Greek Orthodox leaders” and their Russian counterparts were “playing an important role” in Papadopoulos’s collaboration with the Russians.

Papadopoulos’s contact with Greek officials in 2016 have been of some interest to those investigating a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. In a September interview with CNN, Papadopoulos acknowledged for the first time that he told Greece’s foreign minister about the Russian “dirt” on Clinton in May 2016 while visiting the country on a trip authorized by the Trump campaign. Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to visit Greece the very next day, and the foreign minister “explained to me that where you are sitting right now, tomorrow Putin will be sitting there," Papadopoulos told CNN, claiming that his disclosure about the “dirt” was “a nervous reaction” that he just “blurted out.”

Read: What Is a 'Proactive Cooperator'?

Throughout 2016, Papadopoulos made multiple trips to Greece and developed a working relationship with influential Greek officials while he was serving as a foreign policy advisor on the Trump campaign. In addition to the foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, Papadopoulos had meetings with the former President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Ieronymos II, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. Papadopoulos’s closest association with the Greek government, however, appears to have been with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, an outspoken supporter of Moscow with whom Papadopoulos met several times in 2016 and early 2017, including at Trump’s inauguration. In his congratulatory tweet celebrating Trump’s election victory, Kammenos noted Papadopoulos’s importance in maintaining U.S.-Greek relations. A NATO military intelligence official told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that the Greek Ministry of Defense “is considered compromised by Russian intelligence.”

It remains to be seen whether Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, will subpoena Papadopoulos to appear before the panel once the Democrats take control in January. Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, told The Atlantic that, “at the appropriate time,” the congressman hopes to get “full answers on the range” of Papadopoulos’s “contacts with the Russians and their intermediaries.” Boland said that Schiff and his staff “evaluate all information brought to our attention, and remain concerned about the conduct that formed the basis of Mr. Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, as well as his subsequent and apparently contradictory statements.” Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators about “the timing, extent, and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials.”

Papadopoulos is not a stranger to the halls of Capitol Hill. He faced Congress for the first time in October, in a private hearing before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees for which he eagerly volunteered following his sentencing one month prior. “I didn’t want to have to expose the biggest political scandal in modern history,” Papadopoulos tweeted ahead of his testimony. “I was happy living on the Greek islands. But, guess life works in mysterious ways and I am happy I was called.” Despite promoting his unqualified willingness to testify before Congress, however, Papadopoulos asked the Senate Intelligence Committee for immunity before agreeing to testify. While the Senate is unlikely to accommodate him, the request itself may signal an awareness on Papadopoulos’s part—or his lawyers’—that he still faces significant legal exposure.
https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article ... ssion=true


Document: New Cohen plea agreement with special counsel.
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CONTACT between Cohen and Peskov's assistant, or put another way, direct communication between the Trump Org and the office of the President of Russia in January 2016
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https://twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/ ... 4230731776



Do you think Individual 2 is Sater? Per this story in August 2017 - "a U.S. citizen “third party intermediary” named Felix Sater"

yeah it's Sater

Trump Organization exec emailed Putin's press secretary for help on Moscow project
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump- ... ow-project



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Maybe Trump will go to Argentina and never come back, just like the Nazis did? :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:28 pm

"On the day of the third Republican presidential debate, trump personally signed the letter of intent" for the Moscow-financed Kremlin Trump Tower


"Based on the fact that I just got caught in a lie to Robert Mueller about working DIRECTLY with President Putin on a bribe/election assistance/sanctions deal, I've decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting."

trump


DONALD TRUMP BABY BLIMP FOLLOWS PRESIDENT TO ARGENTINA FOR G20 SUMMIT AMID PROTESTS
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https://www.newsweek.com/baby-trump-bli ... it-1237293





Polly Sigh

Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with former Russian Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov, who offered a Trump-Putin meeting to facilitate the Trump Tower Moscow project, with which Ivanka was very involved.
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Ivanka claims she was only minimally involved the Trump Moscow project [featuring The Spa by Ivanka], didn't know about it until after the LOI was signed & never talked to anyone outside Trump Org about it. Her emails to Cohen re the Russian bodybuilder prove otherwise.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:08 pm


The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow
During the presidential campaign, Michael Cohen discussed the matter with a representative of Putin’s press secretary, according to two US sources


Headshot of Anthony Cormier
Anthony Cormier
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Headshot of Jason Leopold
Jason Leopold
BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on November 29, 2018, at 5:53 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump’s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign, according to four people, one of them the originator of the plan.

Two US law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary.

The Trump Tower Moscow plan is at the heart of a new plea agreement by Cohen, who led the negotiations to bring a gleaming, 100-story building to the Russian capital. Cohen acknowledged in court that he lied to Congress about the plan in order to protect Trump and his presidential campaign.


The revelation that representatives of the Trump Organization planned to forge direct financial links with the leader of a hostile nation at the height of the campaign raises fresh questions about President Trump's relationship with the Kremlin. The plan never went anywhere because the tower deal ultimately fizzled, and it is not clear whether Trump knew of the intention to give away the penthouse. But Cohen said in court documents that he regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations.

Got a tip? You can email tips@buzzfeed.com. To learn how to reach us securely, go to tips.buzzfeed.com.
BuzzFeed News first reported in May on the secret dealings of Cohen and his business associate Felix Sater with political and business figures in Moscow.

The two men worked furiously behind the scenes into the summer of 2016 to get the Moscow deal finished – despite public claims that the development was canned in January, before Trump won the Republican nomination. Sater told BuzzFeed News today that he and Cohen thought giving the Trump Tower’s most luxurious apartment, a $50 million penthouse, to Putin would entice other wealthy buyers to purchase their own. “In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin,” Sater told BuzzFeed News. “My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.” A second source confirmed the plan.

Sater, a brash real estate promoter who pleaded guilty to racketeering in 1998 and became a longtime asset to US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, had worked with the Trump Organization on deals in the past and said he came up with the idea. Cohen, Sater recalled, said, “Great idea.”

Felix Sater
Melissa Lyttle for BuzzFeed News
Felix Sater

Cohen would not comment. Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, did not return a detailed message. The Trump Organization also did not return a message seeking comment. A spokesperson for the Kremlin declined to answer questions about the project.

Trump had personally signed the letter of intent to move forward on the Trump Tower Moscow plan on Oct. 28, 2015, the day of the third Republican presidential debate.

On Thursday, shortly after news broke about Cohen’s guilty plea, Trump told reporters, “There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won” the presidential election, “in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?”

According to the criminal information filed against Cohen Thursday, on Jan. 20, 2016 he spoke with a Russian government official, referred to only as Assistant 1, about the Trump Tower Moscow plan for 20 minutes. This person appears to be an assistant to Peskov, a top Kremlin official that Cohen had attempted to reach by email.

Cohen “requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction,” the court document states.

Cohen had previously maintained that he never got a response from the official, but in court on Thursday he acknowledged that was a lie.

Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, exits federal court, November 29, 2018 in New York City.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, exits federal court, November 29, 2018 in New York City.


Two FBI agents with direct knowledge of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that Cohen was in frequent contact with foreign individuals about the real estate venture — and that some of these individuals had knowledge of or played a role in 2016 election meddling. The identity of those individuals remains unknown.

Developing a tower in Russia had long been a dream of the Trump Organization, which pursued a deal there for three decades. After Trump announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015, Sater saw an opportunity to revive the development.

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

So he turned to his old friend, Cohen, to get it off the ground. They arranged a licensing deal, by which Trump would lend his name to the project and collect a part of the profits. Sater lined up a Russian development company to build the project and said that VTB, a Russian financial institution that faced US sanctions at the time, would finance it. VTB officials have denied taking part in any negotiations about the project.

On Oct. 28, 2015, the day of the third Republican primary debate, Trump personally signed a letter of intent to move ahead with the project. The back and forth carried into the summer, when Sater said that top bankers and government officials wanted to meet with Cohen and Trump in Russia.


Cohen said that Trump planned to go after the Republican convention in July. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to congress about this, and has acknowledged that he did so to protect the president. ●



https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/an ... -putin-the

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:10 pm

emptywheel
.
@Popehat
: "Cohen’s plea is only one shoe dropping in a boot warehouse."


He also writes up my "the Mueller report comes in charging documents" theory so it looks smart and credible.




Three Remarkable Things About Michael Cohen's Plea


These developments would, under normal circumstances, end a presidency.

KEN WHITE
4:30 PM ET

Michael Cohen exits federal court after entering a guilty plea on November 29, 2018.ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS
Michael Cohen’s decision to plead guilty to lying to Congress on Thursday was remarkable for three reasons.

The first was that Cohen walked into a Manhattan federal courtroom unannounced. He did it by surprise. We live in a political environment characterized by constant leaks, each choreographed more carefully than a public announcement. The drama of learning what’s going to happen at an event, rather than before the event, has mostly disappeared. But Cohen’s plea, a momentous development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, happened with no warning. That reflects admirable discipline in Mueller’s office.


The second remarkable thing was that the plea happened at all. Cohen already pleaded guilty in August to eight federal felonies, including tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign-finance violations. That plea already ended his career and exposed him to at least several years in federal prison. By contrast, Cohen’s new plea is to a lone count of lying to Congress in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001 —a weapon Mueller has wielded ruthlessly against President Donald Trump’s followers, including Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, and Paul Manafort. The conviction won’t increase Cohen’s sentence, and the additional felony count won’t have any perceptible impact on his life. If anything, by adding a cooperation term to his plea agreement, it gives him an opportunity to reduce his

Normally, federal prosecutors don’t waste time with this sort of rubble-bouncing. So why would Mueller spend the time and resources on it? Because it tells a story about Trump and his campaign. Because it lays a marker.

It’s not clear whether the Constitution allows Mueller to indict a sitting president. But Department of Justice policy forbids it, and Mueller is a rule-follower. If Mueller thinks that the president has committed a federal crime, his remedy is to recommend impeachment in a report to the attorney general. The attorney general, in turn, is supposed to tell Congress the outcome of the special counsel’s investigation and decide whether the report should be made public. Did you catch the problem? The acting attorney general is Matthew Whitaker, Trump’s creature and a vigorous critic of Mueller’s investigation. Mueller has every reason to expect that Whitaker will suppress the report and limit what he shows to Congress.

A formal report is not, however, Mueller’s only way to tell Congress—and the nation—about his conclusions. The journalist Marcy Wheeler has written extensively about her theory that Mueller will “make his report” through court filings against Trump confederates like Manafort and Cohen. On Monday, Mueller accused Manafort of lying to investigators, breaching his cooperation agreement, and committing further federal crimes; he promised he’d bring the receipts when he filed briefs urging a long sentence. Those sentencing briefs will let Mueller tell the story of how Manafort lied about the Trump campaign—and, by extension, lay out the evidence of what the Trump campaign did.

Peter Beinart: We’re all Michael Cohen

Cohen’s case lets Mueller do the same thing—tell a story, make a report. The Information—the charging document to which Cohen pleaded, waiving his right to indictment by grand jury—asserts that the Trump Organization planned a hotel in Russia, communicated with Russian officials about it, and even contemplated sending Trump himself for a visit to Russia well into 2016, contrary to Cohen’s congressional testimony that the plan was abandoned in January 2016. The significance is not just that Cohen lied to Congress. The significance is what he lied about: the fact that Team Trump continued to pursue Russian opportunities well into the campaign. Not only that, but the Information also asserts that Cohen kept Trump (whose identity is not at all concealed as “Individual 1”) and others within the campaign informed about his progress in Russia.


The third remarkable thing about Cohen’s plea was its substance. The president of the United States’ personal lawyer admitted to lying to Congress about the president’s business activities with a hostile foreign power, in order to support the president’s story. In any rational era, that would be earthshaking. Now it’s barely a blip. Over the past two years, we’ve become accustomed to headlines like “President’s Campaign Manager Convicted of Fraud” and “President’s Personal Lawyer Paid for Adult Actress’s Silence.” We’re numb to it all. But these are the sorts of developments that would, under normal circumstances, end a presidency.

They still might. Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress to support President Trump’s version of events. He notably did not claim that he did so at Trump’s request, or that Trump knew he would do it. But if Cohen’s telling the truth this time, then this conclusion, at least, is inescapable: The president, who has followed this drama obsessively, knew that his personal lawyer was lying to Congress about his business activities, and stood by while it happened.


Read: Michael Cohen’s astonishing claim about the Trump Tower meeting

And that’s not all. Cohen’s plea is only one shoe dropping in a boot warehouse. Who else lied to Congress about the pursuit of a hotel deal in Russia? Donald Trump Jr.? Did the president himself lie about it in his recent written answers to Mueller’s questions? (His lawyers claim that his answers matched Cohen’s.) Even if the pursuit of the hotel deal wasn’t criminal (and there’s no evidence that it was), everyone in Trump’s orbit who made statements about it—whether under oath or in interviews with the FBI—is in jeopardy today.

They’re not just in danger from Mueller, either. In just weeks, a Democratic majority will take over the House of Representatives. Control of committees will shift, and subpoenas will fly like arrows at Agincourt. Each hearing will present new terrible choices: Take the Fifth, tell uncomfortable truths, or lie and court perjury charges? Each subpoena is a new chance for frightened Trump associates to make new bad decisions like the ones that have felled Cohen and Manafort and Gates and Flynn and Papadopoulos.

I wouldn’t expect President Trump’s agitated tweets to stop anytime soon.
https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article ... ssion=true



Matthew Miller

So during the summer of 2016, Trump tried to cut a business deal with Russia while publicly attacking NATO and praising Putin, asking Russia to hack his opponent's emails, and while his son and senior staffers met in secret with Russian government intermediaries.

Matthew Miller

Sometimes this stuff just isn't that complicated.

Laura Nole

@matthewamiller
In other words, President Donald Trump committed treason.



VTB

DEUTSCHE BANK, TRUMP’S SUGAR DADDY, RAIDED BY POLICE ON SUSPICION OF MONEY LAUNDERING


The German lender, who Trump owes $300 million, is not having a great morning.

Bess LevinNovember 29, 2018 12:35 pm

“Pullin’ for ya!”
By Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
The past few years have not been the best of times for Deutsche Bank. In fact, one might characterize them as whatever is German for anni fucking horribiles, which is to say that at various points the lender has: failed its stress test; released its own (!) internal survey showing that a large number of employees are embarrassed to admit they work at the bank; had Bloomberg call its C.E.O. a failure; seen its net income fall off a cliff; had a pair of traders convicted of manipulating Libor; and conducted an internal probe that shows it might have “handled about $150 billion” of the $230 billion that was laundered out of Russia’s Danske bank. And on Thursday, this happened:

German police raided Deutsche Bank’s offices in Frankfurt in a probe of money laundering against the country’s flagship lender. . . . The public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt said an evaluation of data from the Panama Papers had triggered suspicion that the bank may have helped customers create offshore companies in tax havens around the world.

In 2016 alone, more than 900 customers with a business volume of 311 million euros ($353.6 million) were thought to have been cared for by a Deutsche Bank subsidiary based in the British Virgin Islands, the prosecutor said. . . . Two Deutsche Bank staff members are suspected of helping clients set up offshore businesses to launder money gained from criminal deeds.

In a statement, Deutsche Bank confirmed that “police are currently investigating our bank at various locations in Germany,” that “the investigation concerns the Panama Papers,” and that it will “of course cooperate closely with the prosecutors here in Frankfurt.”

Potentially helping customers create offshore accounts to avoid taxes is, of course, not the only problem facing the German lender at the moment. After Democrats flipped the House earlier this month, Representative Maxine Waters, who will head the House Financial Services Committee, said Deutsche’s ties to Donald Trump will be a focus of scrutiny. In particular, Democrats would like to understand why, at a time when no one on Wall Street wouldn’t touch the real-estate developer with a 100-foot pole, Deutsche lent him hundreds of millions of dollars, which the president still owes the bank—“We want to know some things about that,” Waters told Bloomberg TV earlier this month.

So far, the bank has done its best to stonewall requests for this type of information, first ignoring them altogether, and then claiming that it wasn’t authorized to share those types of details—despite their potential to shed light on whether the president of the United States is beholden to a guy whose name rhymes with Shmladimir Shmutin. But it seems Deutsche has been more amenable to special counsel Robert Mueller, who reportedly subpoenaed the bank last fall. At the time, there was some debate over whether Deutsche had turned over documents to the special counsel, and if so, to what they pertained (initial reports suggested they had to do with Trump’s family finances, but subsequent stories said they involved Paul Manafort, and White House lawyer John Dowd held at the time that “no subpoena had been issued or received”). Trump’s reaction was less ambiguous: according to The New York Times, when he heard the news that Mueller was digging into his relationship with the bank, he “told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller’s investigation had to be shut down.”
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/11 ... laundering





.


: "I think we very well could look back on this day...as the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency"
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:31 am


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZUCld-u0yc




Donald Trump Gave Russia Leverage Over His Presidency


A foreign adversary has possessed potentially damaging information about the president for an extended period of time.

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.
Nov 29, 2018

Evan Vucci / AP
Shortly after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, he gave a combative press conference at which he was asked by a reporter, “I was just hoping that we could get a yes-or-no answer on these questions involving Russia. Can you say if you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?”

In reply, he lied to the American public. “Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia,” he said. “...I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.”

That he lied has long been clear—all sorts of people with whom he dealt had extensive, well-documented dealings with Russia and Russians. But additional evidence that he lied was revealed Thursday during an appearance in federal court by his former attorney Michael Cohen, who admitted that he negotiated on Trump’s behalf to build a skyscraper in Moscow; that his efforts lasted until at least June 2016; that he briefed Trump and members of Trump’s family about the matter; and that he later lied to Congress, to avoid contradicting Trump’s political message.

Consider the implications. At the very beginning of Trump’s presidency, as soon as he lied in that press conference, Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence possessed the ability to unmask Trump as a liar to the American public, revealing damaging information to Congress and the public about which they had previously been ignorant. BuzzFeed’s account of the negotiations involving a potential Trump Tower in Moscow hints at the wealth of documentary evidence that the Russians would possess to back up their claims.

As it would turn out, that was merely the beginning of their leverage. In September 2017, Donald Trump, Jr., gave sworn Senate testimony that may be contradicted by Thursday’s revelations, raising the prospect that the Russians have been in possession of evidence suggesting the president’s son may have committed a felony. And once Cohen lied to Congress about the matter, the Russians were in a position to expose the unlawful behavior of Trump’s personal attorney.

Those particular bits of Russian leverage over Trump are gone now that Robert Mueller’s investigation has revealed the truth to Congress and the public. But there is so much that we still don’t know about the Trump Tower deal, the president’s role in negotiating it, and the reasons his inner circle took extraordinary legal risks to hide the truth about it.

“The Kremlin knows the answer to these questions,” says Susan Hennessey, a former National Security Agency lawyer, on a Lawfare podcast. “And unless the answers here are the most innocent possible explanations … if it's anything other than that, the United States is in an incredibly dangerous position, because the United States is in a position where the American president is aware that a hostile foreign adversary potentially has devastating—politically devastating and potentially legally and criminally devastating, if not for him than for members of his family or organization—that a hostile foreign adversary has that information on him, and those really are the kinds of conditions where your worst nightmare is about blackmail and influence.”

Perhaps the public will ultimately learn why Trump and some of his closest associates lied about business opportunities that they were pursing in Moscow during the 2016 election. But the mere fact that they did lie, for whatever reason, gave a powerful geopolitical adversary at least some leverage over an American president and his son. And Trump knew about the leverage as soon as he lied to the public about Russia, and again when he watched his son and his then attorney lie to Congress, raising the stakes to a matter of clear criminality. Elected officials have resigned in disgrace for less serious transgressions.
https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article ... ssion=true



Ivanka and Don Jr. are now fully implicated in the selling of American democracy for the trump family gain.


Yes, Collusion: The Legal Significance of the New Mueller Revelations

The special counsel’s draft Statement of Offense for Jerome Corsi includes much extraordinary information. But what are the most legally significant details to emerge? At bottom, the draft court document supplies additional reason to believe that Bob Mueller can charge Trump Campaign associates and the campaign itself for violations of federal campaign finance law either directly under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) or as part of a conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the capacity of the Federal Election Commission to enforce the FECA. The federal offense of a conspiracy to defraud the United States serves as the backbone of the special counsel’s February 2018 indictment of Russian nationals, which then raised the question whether the special counsel would subsequently indict any Americans for knowingly participating in the general conspiracy. The activities of Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, and Ted Malloch, as shown by what Mueller decided to include in the draft document, points to legal jeopardy for them and any others who knowingly participated with them in this scheme with Wikileaks.

The draft Statement of Offense contains direct and circumstantial evidence of the following four facts:

Stone was acting in collaboration with or as an agent of the Trump Campaign in the pursuit of the Wikileaks documents
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange provided information directly to Trump campaign agents or associates as part of his group’s effort, in collaboration with the Russian government, to help the Trump campaign
Roger Stone had advanced knowledge about the specific content and timing of Wikileaks’ document releases, including Wikileaks’ possession of and plans to release Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails and documents purportedly related to Clinton’s health
Trump Campaign agents or associates coordinated campaign-related public communications with what Assange secretly told them were Wikileaks’ planned activities
As one of us (Bauer) has written, the February indictment of Russian organizations and individuals revealed the Kremlin to be operating, along with Wikileaks, as a veritable Super PAC in support for then-candidate Trump. The Trump campaign could not lawfully coordinate its political communications with Wikileaks without running afoul of federal campaign finance laws. As a foreign national, WikiLeaks may not provide anything of value to an America political campaign, and Americans could not knowingly and substantially assist Wikileaks’ illegal electioneering activity. The prohibition extends to solicitations of this campaign support by any agents of the Trump campaign. Moreover, the campaign finance law applies to Wikileaks’ activities in two ways: as an entity pursuing its own anti-Clinton political objectives, and as an agent of a foreign government, Russia, with which it was collaborating toward this end.

In other words, Mueller is working with an expansive legal framework that Congress designed to prevent foreign national influence in our elections and that legislators repeatedly amended over the years to root out loopholes and end-runs. The draft statement of offense contain facts that that would significantly strengthen the prosecution’s hands in building and bringing such a case.

It is worth emphasizing a several pieces of information in light of this legal framework.

First, Mueller appears to believe Stone was acting in direct communication on campaign related matters on behalf of the Trump Campaign, serving as a strategic adviser well past the time his formal position ended in 2015. He spoke regularly with Donald Trump and sent the candidate memos on campaign strategy. Others such as Corsi knew of Stone’s role. The draft Statement of Offense says that Corsi “understood [Stone] to be in regular contact with senior members of the Trump Campaign, including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump” when Stone “asked Corsi to get in touch with [Wikileaks] about materials it possessed relevant to the presidential campaign.” This dovetails with the special counsel’s July 2018 indictment of Russian military intelligence officers, which also conspicuously states that Stone was “in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” when he communicated privately with the Russian intelligence front Guccifer 2.0 in August of 2016.

These allegations are also consistent with other publicly available information. For example, in May 2016, when Michael Caputo, senior Trump campaign communications adviser, wanted someone to meet with a Russian who promised to provide the campaign derogatory information on Hillary Clinton, text messages reveal that Caputo asked Stone to do so, which Stone did and reported back. (Stone amended his congressional testimony after the revelation of his contacts with the campaign.)

Second, Stone’s written instructions to Corsi constituted an explicit solicitation of support: “Get to (Assange) [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending (WikiLeaks) emails” (our emphasis added). The intent to solicit, in effect, could not be clearer.

Third, the draft Statement of Offense includes a significant new fact in the potential coordination between Wikileaks and the Trump circle—beyond just the release of the Podesta emails. In informing Stone about the body of materials in Wikileaks’ possession and Assange’s plans for releasing them, Corsi wrote on Aug. 2: “Time to let more than [the Clinton Campaign Chairman] to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC. Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke — neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus.” And, indeed, what followed was a pivot in the Trump campaign toward a focus on Clinton’s health—so much so that Chris Matthews observed on Aug. 16, 2016, that a series of recent remarks by Trump on the campaign trail showed that a new “target seems to be the health of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.” Matthews was puzzled, “Well, why are they onto this? Why are they onto — what do they know? Is there something we don’t know in the health records, something — something that could change this election around?”

By the end of August, other news outlets observed the same pattern: “Trump surrogates—people chosen by the campaign to speak on his behalf—have told voters that Mrs Clinton suffered a stroke and has seizures.” A stroke – exactly what Corsi’s email to Stone on Aug. 2 suggested.

As an aside, we should note that the Kremlin’s influence campaign also considered Clinton’s health a focal point, according to the U.S. Intelligence Community’s January 2017 report. The report highlights the same month of August: “In August, Kremlin-linked political analysts suggested avenging negative Western reports on Putin by airing segments devoted to Secretary Clinton’s alleged health problems.” Rep. Jackie Speier also noted the timing of Trump’s statements and the Trump campaign’s advertisements concerning Clinton’s health in conjunction with the Kremlin’s social media campaign adopting the same theme in the same time frame. “What I’d like to understand is who was mimicking who?,” Rep. Speier asked social media companies.

But what about Wikileaks’ promised document dump related to Clinton’s health? If that never materialized, it could indicate that Corsi’s information was bunk. Wikileaks made good on its promise, however. In September, Wikileaks highlighted one of the Clinton State Department emails housed in its document database, raising the idea that she had blood clot issues affecting her brain.

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But what about the strange reference in Corsi’s email to Stone referring to Wikileaks information on Clinton’s health as though it were connected to documents related to Podesta? The materialized as well. On October 24, Wikileaks released documents from the trove of stolen Podesta emails suggesting that Podesta and other members of the campaign were concerned about Clinton’s health.

The Trump circle quickly helped promote the Wikileaks documents. Corsi’s own Twitter account tracks the chronology from laying the groundwork in August to capitalizing on the Wikileaks Podesta release in October 2016.

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For his part, Trump began hammering Clinton’s purported health problems again within two days of the Oct. 24 Wikileaks release. At a campaign rally on Oct. 26, he made a curt remark suggesting Clinton was exhausted at the end of the second debate. The following day at a campaign speech in Ohio, Trump elaborated suggesting Clinton almost collapsed after the second debate. “Of course she had a lot of people around; they had a lot of people around her, which was smart,” he added. His reference to Clinton’s health was a significant enough change in his regular stump speech that it made headlines. As the Washington Post reported at the time, however, “No evidence has emerged that Clinton was suffering physically during or after the debates.”

It is also important to note that throughout this period, Trump, Stone and Corsi knew that they were seeking campaign support from foreign nationals. WikiLeaks status as such was well known. By July of 2016, moreover, it was widely reported that the U.S. Government had identified the Russian government as the responsible party in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. In that same month, Donald Trump acknowledged the Russians’ involvement, publicly calling on them to find “missing” Clinton emails. So when Corsi refers in one of the newly revealed emails to the “hackers” who are supplying WikiLeaks, he would have understood, or had good reason to know, the identity of these hackers: the Putin regime.

In sum, the draft Mueller document adds materially to the existing record of Trump campaign support for and coordination with the Russian-WikiLeaks scheme to influence the outcome of 2016 presidential election through a program of political sabotage. There is no reason to doubt that more from the Mueller probe is yet to come. What is known already leaves little standing of Donald Trump’s repeated denial of “collusion.” There was collusion, and it occurred in violation of federal law.

https://www.justsecurity.org/61652/jere ... velations/


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How a Lawyer, a Felon and a Russian General Chased a Moscow Trump Tower Deal

Nov. 29, 2018

Felix Sater, a longtime business associate of President Trump’s, drew on deep Russian contacts to pursue a real estate deal during the 2016 campaign. One of those contacts was a former intelligence official in Russia.

Felix Sater, a longtime business associate of President Trump’s, drew on deep Russian contacts to pursue a real estate deal during the 2016 campaign. One of those contacts was a former intelligence official in Russia.
When Donald J. Trump took a run at building a tower in Moscow in the middle of his 2016 presidential campaign, it was the high point of a decades-long effort to plant the “Trump” flag there.

The role his former lawyer Michael D. Cohen played in the endeavor entered the spotlight again on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to misleading Congress. But the effort was led in large part by Felix Sater, a convicted felon and longtime business associate with deep ties to Russia.

To get the project off the ground, Mr. Sater dug into his address book and its more than 100 Russian contacts — including entries for President Vladimir V. Putin and a former general in Russian military intelligence. Mr. Sater tapped the general, Evgeny Shmykov, to help arrange visas for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump to visit Russia, according to emails and interviews with several people knowledgeable about the events.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about plans to build a tower for Mr. Trump in Russia. The admission is the latest twist in the onetime Trump loyalist’s deteriorating relationship with the president.Nov. 29, 2018Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times
For months, the felon, the former Russian intelligence officer and Mr. Trump’s lawyer worked to land the deal, speaking with a Putin aide, Russian bankers and real estate developers. But by July 2016, with Mr. Trump having secured the Republican presidential nomination and accusations of Russian election interference heating up, the project was abandoned, and neither Mr. Cohen nor Mr. Trump traveled to Moscow.

The improbable story of the Trump Tower Moscow deal was thrust onto center stage again Thursday after Mr. Cohen admitted lying to Congress about his role in the project. Mr. Cohen told the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that his involvement went on far longer, and his contacts with Russians and briefings to Mr. Trump were more frequent, than he had previously claimed.

Mr. Cohen’s recollections, disclosed in a court filing on Thursday, as well as documents related to Mr. Sater’s work for the Trump Organization that were obtained by The New York Times, provide a fuller picture of Mr. Trump’s pursuit of business in Moscow.

The president’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who pleaded guilty on Thursday to misleading Congress about his role in trying to secure a Trump Tower project in Moscow.Andrew Kelly/Reuters


The president’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who pleaded guilty on Thursday to misleading Congress about his role in trying to secure a Trump Tower project in Moscow.Andrew Kelly/Reuters
The Times first reported the existence of the 2016 deal last year. BuzzFeed News later reported additional details, including the involvement of a former Russian intelligence officer, but did not identify him.

Mr. Trump’s effort in 2016 was only the latest episode in a long, sporadic quest dating to the 1980s. But as the Trump brand became increasingly common, emblazoning hotels and commercial towers around the world, a Russian equivalent never quite came together — even after Mr. Trump secured trademarks in the country and sent emissaries, including his children, to scout for deals.

One deal that almost got off the ground in 2005 — a Moscow tower on the site of a former pencil factory — was also pitched by Mr. Sater, an American citizen who immigrated as a child from Russia. He was working at the time for Bayrock Group, a development company that teamed up with Mr. Trump on several hotel projects in the United States.

Mr. Sater tapped Evgeny Shmykov, a former general in Russian military intelligence, to help with the Moscow project.
Mr. Sater, who sometimes carried a business card identifying him as a “senior adviser” to Mr. Trump, pursued Russian deals throughout the 2000s. On one visit in which he was accompanied by Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, he arranged for Ms. Trump to sit in Mr. Putin’s chair during a tour of the Kremlin, he said in emails to Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Sater drew on connections he had made in Russia in the late 1990s when he began secretly working for American intelligence agencies, which in turn helped reduce his penalty after a guilty plea in a $40 million securities fraud case. (He was previously convicted after slashing a man’s face in a Manhattan bar fight in 1991.) He told the House Intelligence Committee last year that he had cultivated a network of foreign contacts that included “ranking intelligence, military operatives and military research facilities.”

One of his contacts was Mr. Shmykov, who worked with anti-Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in the late 1990s and early 2000s while serving in Russian military intelligence, according to documents and online research. Mr. Shmykov, who is 62, has a profile on a Russian social media site that says he attended the Academy of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, which trains intelligence personnel.

Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. during a trip to Moscow.

Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. during a trip to Moscow.
Contacted by The Times, Mr. Shmykov declined to answer questions, but directed a reporter to photos of his time in the military, including one in which he appears with Mr. Sater, saying, “In these photographs are answers to all your questions.” Mr. Sater declined to comment.

Mr. Sater enlisted Mr. Shmykov in late 2015, when, with the United States presidential race well underway, he was making his latest push for a Trump Tower deal in Moscow. Mr. Sater had been exchanging emails and phone calls with Mr. Cohen about resurrecting plans for the tower. The two men were friends, and Mr. Sater seemed almost giddy as he explained to Mr. Cohen how he would use his connections to “get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this.”

“Buddy,” Mr. Sater wrote, “our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it.”

Mr. Cohen emailed Mr. Sater in December 2015, linking to a news story about Mr. Putin praising Mr. Trump. In the email, Mr. Cohen said: “Now is the time. Call me.”

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, with his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. Mr. Peskov had an aide contact Mr. Cohen to discuss the tower project.Mikhail Klimentyev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, with his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. Mr. Peskov had an aide contact Mr. Cohen to discuss the tower project.Mikhail Klimentyev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A couple of days later, according to copies of emails reviewed by The Times, Mr. Sater emailed Mr. Cohen with an urgent request. He said that he had Mr. Shmykov on the phone, and that he needed passport information for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump so they could receive visas. Mr. Sater explained that the Kremlin could not issue them for diplomatic reasons, and that they would instead come from VTB bank as part of “a business meeting not political.”

The chairman of VTB, one of the largest state-owned banks in Russia, has denied that his bank was involved in the project.

Mr. Sater later testified to the House Intelligence Committee that the tone of his emails reflected overeagerness on his part, and that he did not really have serious ties to the Kremlin. He said his suggestion that the tower deal could help Mr. Trump get elected simply meant that he believed it would generate positive publicity for the campaign.

In their report on Russian interference in the election, committee Republicans accepted assertions by Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sater that the Trump Tower project was a business venture with no political overtones. The report — which makes no mention of Mr. Shmykov or his role — concluded that no “element of the Russian government was actually directly involved in the project.”

Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday casts that conclusion in a new light. Among other things, Mr. Cohen now admits that he tried multiple times to reach Mr. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, who had an aide contact Mr. Cohen to discuss the tower project. Mr. Cohen said he had a 20-minute conversation with the Kremlin aide in January 2016, who “asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would follow up with others in Russia.”

In a message to Mr. Cohen the next day, Mr. Sater mentioned Mr. Putin and said he had heard from someone about the project: “They called today.” Later, in May 2016, he told Mr. Cohen that a Russian official had invited the lawyer to an economic forum in St. Petersburg, where it was hoped he could meet Mr. Putin.

Mr. Cohen initially agreed, but later met with Mr. Sater in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York and said he would not be going.

Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/29/us/p ... cohen.html



FCPA

By Josh Marshall
November 30, 2018 9:15 am

Small point in the rapidly unfolding batches of information about the Trump campaign’s dealing with Russia in the summer of 2016. There’s this thing called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The gist of it is that American business people can’t bribe people abroad to do business overseas. There are some questions on the margins about what entails bribery or related corrupt practices. But offering a $50 million penthouse to the strongman of the state where you’re trying to build a luxury real estate development is definitely not legit.

As you probably saw yesterday, Michael Cohen and Felix Sater planned to do just that. They may even have made the offer. It clearly wasn’t finalized since the building was never built. But this suggests a line of criminal activity entirely separate from all the issues tied to conspiracy, collusion and the more outlandish activities we’re focused on.

There may be no criminal vulnerability on this front because they didn’t actually give Putin the Penthouse. Perhaps it was just Felix and Michael brainstorming between themselves. But the crime doesn’t need to be completed to be a crime. So it’s worth keeping an eye on this part of the equation.

For a run-down and analysis of everything we’ve learned so far this week, listen to this conversation with me, David Taintor, Tierney Sneed and Josh Kovensky.
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/fcpa
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby Grizzly » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:10 pm

"Isn't Election Meddling the Modus Operandi of our enemies? If Russia must burn for memes, Google should pay for doing much worse".
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:25 pm

New clues link $1 million Trump inauguration mystery money to secretive “dark money” network
By Anna Massoglia
November 28, 2018

(Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Notorious “dark money” conduit Wellspring Committee gave $14.8 million to the primary spender on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and paid $919,900 to the mysterious LLC that made a $1 million donation to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, according to a new tax return obtained Nov. 27 by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Wellspring has acted as a conduit for large contributions from secretive donors since it was set up, effectively laundering multi-million dollar donations with no substantive disclosure or accountability.

Despite operating behind the scenes with a name unknown to most of the American public, Wellspring is at the crux of Ann and Neil Corkery’s network of politically active dark money groups, funneling millions from anonymous financiers to political causes they don’t want their names attached to — and doing ostensibly little else.

Wellspring has continued to be the chief financier of the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), with a $14,814,998 contribution last year.

JCN is another nondisclosing politically active nonprofit linked to the Corkerys’ network of conservative dark money groups. It has become the predominant dark money spender in Supreme Court confirmation fights as a vehicle for deep-pocketed donors to funnel millions of dollars behind or against judicial nominees.

Since 2010, Wellspring has funneled more than $54.2 million to JCN, according to tax returns obtained by CRP.

The bulk of Wellspring’s funds that came from three multi-million dollar secret donors in 2017, a shift from prior years in which the biggest amount the group received from a single mystery donor increased with each passing year. The largest donor accounted for $8.9 million, another gave $5.5 million and a third secret donor provided $2 million — but all of their identities remain hidden from the public.

The biggest anonymous contribution to Wellspring in 2016 was nearly $28.5 million, a jump from $8.5 million in 2015 and $6.96 million in 2014. That one secret donor accounted for around 90 percent of Wellspring’s funding in 2016, a year it gave $23 million to JCN.

As a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, JCN is not required to report its donors to the IRS — and chooses not to disclose its funders’ identities to the public — so its only discoverable donors are other entities like Wellspring that act as conduits for the anonymous money directed at JCN.

JCN was back in the limelight this year as the biggest spender in support of Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Following its tried and true playbook, JCN launched its first ad about Kavanaugh before Trump even finished announcing his nomination and soon after announced plans to spend $10 million on his confirmation. JCN pledged $10 million to support the successful confirmation of Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, the prior year and reported spending $7 million to block the confirmation of Merrick Garland before President Barack Obama left office.

JCN has also spent substantial sums on lobbyists, including Jon Kyl, who lobbied to help JCN marshall in Gorsuch’s nomination before becoming the official White House “sherpa” guiding Kavanaugh through that same process. He was later appointed to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat — ultimately enabling him to vote for the confirmation he was once tasked with helping Kavanaugh secure.

JCN spent $483,246 in total on Facebook ads and just $1,900 on Google platforms around the fight to confirm Kavanaugh with an estimated reach of potentially millions of Facebook users.

TV advertising made up the bulk of JCN’s reported spending on Kavanaugh with around $3.9 million going TV ads, according to Kantar Media/CMAG estimates — leaving millions of dollars JCN had pledged to spend unaccounted for.

The puzzle of Trump’s mysterious inaugural gift

The only contractor paid by Wellspring last year was BH Group, the mysterious LLC created four months to the day before it made a $1 million donation to the Trump inaugural committee on Dec. 22, 2016.

The newly discovered payment for “public relations” follows a $750,000 payment to the newly minted BH Group the prior year as well as $947,000 from JCN to the BH Group around when the LLC made its inaugural donation.

While it initially appeared that BH Group was merely a shell company created solely for the purpose of laundering money into the Trump inaugural committee, more information about the LLC has only added to its mystery.

New tax returns reviewed by CRP reveal that Judicial Education Project, JCN’s sister 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, also paid an additional $1.3 million to BH Group LLC last year. Judicial Education Fund keeps its donors anonymous but CRP tracked the bulk of the group’s recent funding to DonorsTrust, which accounted for more than 99 percent of its money last year. Like JCN, Judicial Education Fund has also been funded by Wellspring in prior years.

One name that CRP has tied to the mysterious LLC is Leonard Leo, the executive vice president at the Federalist Society, an influential conservative and libertarian legal organization, who listed “BH Group” as his employer in a campaign finance filing reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Leo’s more widely known affiliation with the Federalist Society has gained attention after reports that it played a substantial role guiding the hand of Trump’s White House in its judicial nomination process, including in the selection of Supreme Court justices.

Ann Corkery, the Wellspring Committee’s former president and wife of current president Neil Corkery, has reportedly worked closely with him in this process and Leo has been “directly involved” in raising much of the anonymous money the Wellspring Committee brings in every year.

A public records request revealed that Leo and another Federalist Society vice president have also been involved in a nonprofit called the BH Fund, which was set up to enforce a donor agreement between an anonymous $20 million donor and the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, whose president came under fire for allowing donors to dictate conditions in return for financial gifts.

Incorporation records list BH Group’s address as a virtual office in Arlington, Va. and the only identified point of contact is Donna Smith, whose name matches that of a longtime paralegal at Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky, the law firm that shared a Warrenton, Va. office with the address the Trump inaugural committee on its tax return.

Continuing the money churn

Staying the course from prior years, Wellspring also gave $400,000 to the Catholic Association, $48,000 to the Annual Fund and $350,000 to the Foundation for Government Accountability’s 501(c)(4) arm, FGA Action.

Another appendage of the Corkerys’ dark money web is the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a nonprofit run by acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker before he became Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, as CRP first reported in 2016. Like Wellspring, JCN and the Judicial Education Project, Neil Corkery is also the treasurer of FACT. Nearly 100 percent of FACT’s funding came from a single anonymous donor each year since the group was created in 2014, which CRP discovered came entirely from a donor-advised fund called DonorsTrust.

In addition to longstanding dark money stalwarts that have realigned their priorities for the Trump era, new groups spending heavily in support of Trump’s agenda also weighed in on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation battle but are not entirely isolated from the Washington swamp Trump pledged to drain.

Wellspring was one of the early donors of 45Committee, another 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit that primarily exists to support Trump’s agenda which spent on ads supporting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation this year.

Another spender was America First Policies, the 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization staffed by former Trump campaign and White House personnel that has become the main dark money group supporting Trump’s agenda.

Although America First Policies itself does not reveal donors’ identities, CRP traced over a quarter of its funding to major corporate players, including Reynolds American and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade group representing the drug company industry’s lobbying interests.

New tax documents filed by another pro-Trump nonprofit, Great America Alliance, show it raised and spent around $3.4 million during that period. Unlike America First Policies, which reported millions more in previously undisclosed political spending it its new tax return, Great America Alliance claimed that it “educated voters through direct and indirect political advocacy messaging nationwide within the scope of applicable laws and regulations.”

This highlights one of the many legal grey areas emerging in the wake of Trump’s unprecedented move to register as a candidate for the 2020 presidential election on his first day in office — leaving the vast majority of financiers behind the growing network of dark money groups spending on his agenda a mystery.
https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/1 ... ark-money/



The Kremlin knew Michael Cohen lied to Congress. They helped him cover it up


Michael Cohen’s plea deal shows that Russia did have something on Trump

Putin’s spokesperson knew Cohen lied to Congress — and helped him cover it up.

Aaron RuparNov 30, 2018, 3:10pm EST
Yana Paskova/Getty Images
Michael Cohen’s plea deal for making false statements to Congress doesn’t just indicate that he lied about the Trump Organization’s attempt to get a real estate project off the ground in Russia — it also indicates that the Kremlin helped in the cover-up.

In August 2017, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed that he received an email from Cohen, who was then Donald Trump’s lawyer and an executive at the Trump Organization, in January 2016. Cohen’s email asked for help with a development project in Russia. Peskov said he never responded to Cohen’s query.

“This email said that a certain Russian company together with certain individuals is pursuing the goal of building a skyscraper in the ‘Moscow City’ district, but things aren’t going well and they asked for help with some advice on moving this project forward,” Peskov said at the time. “But since, I repeat again, we do not react to such business topics — this is not our work — we left it unanswered.”

Peskov’s account of what happened matched Cohen’s. Cohen told CNN his message to Peskov was “an email that went unanswered that was solely regarding a real estate deal and nothing more.” He told that same story to Congress during his sworn testimony.

But according to the plea agreement Cohen agreed to in federal court on Thursday, it turns out both he and Peskov were lying.

From Mueller’s court filing:

COHEN did recall that in or around January 2016, COHEN received a response from the office of Russian Official 1, the Press Secretary for the President of Russia, and spoke to a member of that office about the Moscow Project. i. On or about January 14, 2016, COHEN emailed Russian Official 1’s office asking for assistance in connection with the Moscow Project.

i. On or about January 16, 2016, COHEN emailed Russian Official 1’s office again, said he was trying to reach another high-level Russian official, and asked for someone who spoke English to contact him.

ii. On or about January 20, 2016, COHEN received an email from the personal assistant to Russian Official 1 (“Assistant 1”), stating that she had been trying to reach COHEN and requesting that he call her using a Moscow-based phone number she provided. iii. Shortly after receiving the email, COHEN called Assistant 1 and spoke to her for approximately 20 minutes. On that call, COHEN described his position at the Company and outlined the proposed Moscow Project, including the Russian development company with which the Company had partnered. COHEN requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction. Assistant 1 asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would follow up with others in Russia.

iv. The day after COHEN’s call with Assistant 1, Individual 2 [Felix Sater] contacted him, asking for a call. Individual 2 wrote to COHEN, “It’s about [the President of Russia] they called today.”

In sum, Cohen emailed Peskov about a development project and got a response that led to a string of phone calls. But as Trump’s contacts with Russia came under increased scrutiny in the summer of 2017, both Cohen and the Kremlin decided to lie about it, pretending they’d never successfully connected.

The episode illustrates one way the Kremlin has blackmail material over the president. Lying to Congress is a criminal offense. The Kremlin knew for more than a year that the story Trump’s longtime lawyer and personal fixer told Congress wasn’t true. Cohen also knew that the Russians knew this — and could have exposed his lies, if they’d wanted to.


While Cohen’s plea agreement indicates that the Kremlin helped Trump cover up his contacts with Russia, it remains unclear why they did so.

It wasn’t just Cohen — throughout 2016 and ’17, Trump himself repeatedly said things like “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS” and “I know nothing about Russia ... I don’t deal there.” But the plea deal indicates those comments were misleading at best, as Trump was briefed about the proposed Russia project “on more than the three occasions,” Cohen acknowledged to Congress during his testimony.

In the day since news of Cohen’s deal broke, Trump abruptly moved the goalposts about his Russia contacts — his new position being that contacts did happen but there was nothing criminal about them.
https://www.vox.com/2018/11/30/18119798 ... ov-kremlin


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

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:48 am

Lincoln's Bible

Since the "VTB money = lifting sanctions" lightbulb is finally flicking on in everyone's brains, don't forget the three other hogs slurping at that trough (& other RU state banks).
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/n ... r-investor
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white- ... rs-n811631
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKBN16Y2C7

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Russian official confirms contacts between Cohen and Kremlin but says emails have ‘disappeared’: NBC News

Martin Cizmar

A Russian official has confirmed that Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen talked to Kremlin officials but says the records have disappeared, reports NBC News.

Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov claims only two emails and a phone call took place between Cohen and Russian officials about the planned project.

Peskov told NBC that there were “two emails and one telephone call, returned telephone call, asking what they wanted and why they wanted to be in contact with [the Russian] presidential administration” but that “they did disappear.”

Read the full report here.
https://www.rawstory.com/2018/12/russia ... -nbc-news/


Russian spokesman says there were contacts on Trump Tower, but they 'disappeared'

Dec. 1, 2018 / 7:05 PM CST
By Keir Simmons and Phil Helsel

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A spokesman for Russia’s government said Saturday that only two emails and a phone call took place between President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and Russian officials about a planned Trump Tower project.

But Russian officials gave the exchanges no more attention than any other business proposition, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina.

Peskov told NBC News in an interview that “every week dozens and dozens of foreign businessmen are approaching us, mentioning possible investments, searching for contacts.”

He said Trump representatives ceased contact with the Russians.

"For us, it's not different," Peskov said. "For you, it’s a future president Trump. For us, it’s one of the other applicants."

Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty this week to lying to Congress about the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow and admitted discussions continued into June 2016 during the presidential campaign.

The revelations raised new questions about Trump's involvement in a possible Moscow deal that never came to fruition.


Peskov said there were “two emails and one telephone call, returned telephone call, asking what they wanted and why they wanted to be in contact with [the Russian] presidential administration.”

He said “we told them that Russian presidential administration is not dealing with construction works” but they could arrange contacts with potential Russian counterparts at an economic forum in St. Petersburg.

Peskov claimed the Trump side stopped making contact and “they did disappear,” and Peskov said he never had any personal conversations with Cohen.

Asked about how some might struggle to believe that the lawyer for a U.S. presidential candidate made contact with Peskov’s office and that it came to nothing, Peskov said: “This is not our struggle, it's their struggle, we wish them success.”

Peskov’s statements Saturday and documents filed in relation to Cohen’s plea deal seem to contradict Peskov’s prior statements on Russia’s involvement in the proposed Trump Tower deal.

Peskov said in August 2017 that "we do not react to such business topics — this is not our work — we left it unanswered," the Washington Post reported.

But Peskov seemed to say Saturday that there was a return telephone call. In the plea agreement documents, prosecutors wrote that Cohen did receive a response from the Putin press secretary’s office.

Cohen’s plea on Thursday marked the first time that Trump and his private business dealings in Moscow were named in open court as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's ties to the Trump campaign.


Prosecutors said Cohen lied to minimize links between Trump and his Moscow building project and to give the false impression that the project had ended before the Iowa caucuses in February 2016. In reality, Cohen continued to pursue Russian approval for Trump's project as late as June 2016.

Trump has claimed Cohen is lying to secure a lesser sentence and called him a "weak person."

Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to eight felony counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations, including two counts related to hush-money payments that Cohen said were made to women at the then-candidate's direction during the 2016 campaign to keep them from discussing affairs they said they had with Trump.

The president claimed that "everybody knew" about the project, which he characterized as "more or less of an option that we were looking at in Moscow."


Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday’s guilty plea “provides additional documented proof that President Trump’s inner circle has brazenly lied and covered up the truth to protect the President,” and that "this desperate dishonesty makes all Americans ask what the Russians have on Trump, politically, personally or financially."

Pelosi, who could become House Speaker once the new Congress takes session, said Congress must pass legislation to protect Mueller’s investigation from any interference.

Cohen will be sentenced in both his cases Dec. 12 in federal court in Manhattan. In Thursday's case, brought by Mueller, Cohen could receive up to six months jail time. In the previous case, it remains to be seen if prosecutors in New York seek to further decrease their recommended sentence of 46 to 63 months.

Keir Simmons reported from Buenos Aires, Argentina; Phil Helsel from Los Angeles.

Keir Simmons is a foreign correspondent based in London. Simmons joined NBC News in 2012 from ITN’s ITV News where he was the U.K. editor. For NBC News he has covered stories as diverse as the conflict in Syria to the birth of the royal baby.

Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politi ... ed-n942651


Moglevich➡️Fursin➡️Gates➡️Broidy➡️VanDerZwaan➡️Nikulin➡️Dokuchaev➡️Giulani➡️WeberRohrbacher➡️Kilimnik➡️Manafort➡️Sam Patten➡️Pence➡️Cohen➡️Trump

Erdogan➡️Zarrab➡️Gulen➡️FlynnJr➡️Flynn➡️Nader➡️Zamel➡️Prince➡️Kushner➡️Pence

Lavrov➡️Mifsud➡️Papadopoulos➡️Miller➡️Sessions
Pinedo
Sater
Page
18 Russians
Ed Kutler
Ivanka
Stone
Don Jr.
Corallo
Paul Ryan
100+ FELONY CHARGES
Cambridge Analytica➡️BCCI 2.0


NOV. 29, 2018, AT 11:49 AM
Michael Cohen Is The 33rd Person Mueller Has Charged — And Could Be Among The Most Important
By Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Filed under Russia Investigation

Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty To Making False Statements To Congress In Russia Probe
Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Trump, exits federal court on Thursday in New York City. DREW ANGERER / GETTY IMAGES
After a quiet period, there was a potential blockbuster development in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign this morning, when the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, made a surprise appearance in a Manhattan courtroom to plead guilty to making false statements to Congress.

According to the formal charging document, Cohen lied about a Trump real-estate deal in Russia — specifically, the “Trump Tower Moscow” project. This doesn’t prove that members of Trump’s 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia. But according to the document, discussions of the Trump Tower Moscow project went on for longer than Cohen had previously indicated, and Trump was aware of the discussions. According to Cohen’s plea deal, he is cooperating with the special counsel investigation.

This brings the total number of people charged in Mueller’s investigation to 33.

Image


In the document describing Cohen’s alleged conduct, Mueller’s team says that contrary to Cohen’s congressional testimony in 2017 that the deal to build Trump Tower Moscow had concluded early in 2016, negotiations around Trump Tower Moscow were still going as late as June 2016, when Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee.

Cohen also testified that he only spoke to Trump about the project on three occasions and didn’t brief the Trump family on it, that he never personally agreed to travel to Russia or considered a Russia trip for Trump in relation to the project, and that he didn’t recall any response from the Russian government to the project — all of which was challenged in the Mueller team’s charging document. According to the document, the “status and progress” of the project was discussed more than three times with then-candidate Trump and that Cohen also talked to family members about the project’s trajectory. It also says that Cohen did agree to go to Russia (although the trip never happened) and even considered a potential trip to Russia by Trump. And the document says that Cohen reached Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesperson to ask for help reviving the deal.

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn this morning, Trump repeatedly said that Cohen was lying in the hope of receiving a shorter prison sentence.

This is the first time that the Trump Tower Moscow project has been mentioned in a charge filed by Mueller’s team. The deal ultimately collapsed but has been scrutinized as a possible point of connection between Trump and high-level Russian operatives. According to some reports, Cohen has provided more than 70 hours of testimony to the special counsel, including about contacts between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia, questions related to obstruction of justice by the president, and Trump’s previous business dealings in Russia.

Mueller hasn’t charged Cohen before, but this is the second time in three months that Cohen has appeared in a Manhattan courtroom to plead guilty to a federal crime. In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges filed by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, including a violation of campaign finance laws that appeared to implicate Trump.

Now, Cohen’s cooperation could have big implications for the way Mueller’s investigation continues to unfold. Trump submitted written answers to questions from Mueller’s team last week; they reportedly included queries about the Trump Tower Moscow project. If Trump’s responses differ from Cohen’s testimony to Mueller, that could spell trouble for the president.
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/mi ... important/



WHY DID GENERAL YELLOWKERK LIE?

BECAUSE HE WAS BEING BLACKMAILED BY PUTIN AND SO WAS KT MCFARLAND

WHY DID THE FBI LET KT OFF THE HOOK?

LIED TO THE FBI LIED TO THE SENATE

TUESDAY WILL BE FUN


SANCTIONS ANYONE?

COMPROMISED BY RUSSIA

RUSSIA KNEW ......THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DID NOT


WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO ASK TRUMP ABOUT RUSSIAN SANCTIONS?

.......now in custody now cooperating with the FBI
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:56 am


MIKE PENCE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO PARDON THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION


December 1, 2018/107 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
In his sentencing memorandum submitted late last night, Michael Cohen laid out what investigations he has cooperated with so far:

Beginning before the entry of his plea on August 21, 2018, and continuing thereafter through late November, Michael participated in seven voluntary interview meetings with the Special Counsel’s Office of the Department of Justice (“SCO”). He intends to continue to make himself available to the SCO as and when needed for additional questioning. He also agreed to plead guilty to an additional count, namely, making false statements to Congress, based in part on information that he voluntarily provided to the SCO in meetings governed by a limited-use immunity proffer agreement.

[snip]

Michael has also voluntarily met twice with representatives of the Office, and responded to questions concerning an ongoing investigation. In connection with this inquiry, he intends to continue to make himself available as and when needed by the Office.

Michael has similarly met voluntarily with representatives of the New York State Office of the Attorney General (“NYAG”) concerning a state court action in which the NYAG has sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation and certain individual defendants, including Donald J. Trump. He also provided the NYAG with documents concerning a separate open inquiry. As above, Michael intends to make himself available to the NYAG to provide any additional cooperation it may request in these matters.


So:

The Mueller investigation

An open SDNY investigation (possibly just the one on campaign finance violations Cohen pled to, possibly more)

NYS’ Trump Foundation lawsuit

Another NYS investigation

That puts Trump’s eponymous organizations — his company and his foundation — squarely in the bullseye of law enforcement. The known details of all those puts one or the other Trump organization as an actor in the investigation. And we’ve already seen hints that the Trump Organization was less than responsive to some document requests from Mueller, such as this detail in a story on the Trump Tower deal:
According to a person familiar with the investigation, Cohen and the Trump Organization could not produce some of the key records upon which Mueller relies. Other witnesses provided copies of those communications.


If there’s a conspiracy to obstruct Mueller’s investigation, I’m fairly certain the Trump Organization was one of the players in it.

This is something I started thinking more about after reading this Walter Dellinger analysis of the OLC opinions on whether you can indict a sitting President (which is a really worthwhile read in any case). He notes how, once the President (or Vice President) enters into a conspiracy, you’ve got to name him, whether or not you indict him, to properly lay out the conspiracy.
The Jaworski filing notes how critical it is to identify the president as one of the criminal accused: “the identification of each co-conspirator — regardless of station — is a prerequisite to making his declarations in furtherance of the conspiracy admissible against the other conspirators.”

Although the brief concludes that “it is by no means clear that a President is immune from indictment” during his term, the special prosecutor chose not to indict the sitting president on the basis of “practical arguments.” Those arguments, however,
cannot fairly be stretched to confer immunity on the President from being identified as an unindicted co-conspirator, when it is necessary to do so in connection with criminal proceedings against persons unquestionably liable to indictment.


Naming the president as an unindicted co-conspirator was necessary for the grand jury to return a “true bill,” Jaworski argued, and “required here to outline the full range of the alleged conspiracy.” There exists, moreover, “a legitimate public purpose in reporting the fact that serious criminal charges against a government official have been made.”
The mere fact that an official has a personal immunity from prosecution does not bar the prosecution from alleging and proving his complicity as part of a case against persons who have no such immunity.


It would not be fair “to the defendants … to blunt the sweep of the evidence artificially by excluding one person, however prominent and important, while identifying all others.”


It made me realize something has been missing from every analysis of the indictment question I’ve seen: whether you can indict a sitting President’s eponymous corporate entities. Under Dellinger’s analysis, you’d have to include the Trump Organization in any conspiracy involving a Trump Tower in Moscow — it was the entity that signed the Letter of Intent, would be the entity that would obtain funding, and would be the entity that would profit.

But the Trump Organization did not get elected the President of the United States (and while the claims are thin fictions, Trump has claimed to separate himself from the Organization and Foundation). So none of the Constitutional claims about indicting a sitting President, it seems to me, would apply.

If I’m right, there are a whole slew of implications, starting with the fact that (as I laid out on a Twitter rant this morning), it utterly changes the calculation Nixon faced as the walls started crumbling. Nixon could (and had the historical wisdom to) trade a pardon to avoid an impeachment fight; he didn’t save his presidency, but he salvaged his natural person. With Trump, a pardon won’t go far enough: he may well be facing the criminal indictment and possible financial ruin of his corporate person, and that would take a far different legal arrangement (such as a settlement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement) to salvage. Now throw in Trump’s narcissism, in which his own identity is inextricably linked to that of his brand. And, even beyond any difference in temperament between Nixon and Trump, there’s no telling what he’d do if his corporate self were also cornered.

In other words, Trump might not be able to take the Nixon — resign for a pardon — deal, because that may not be enough to save his corporate personhood.

For virtually every other legal situation, it seems to me, existing in both natural and corporate form offers protection that can save both. But if you’re the President of the United States, simultaneously existing — and criminally conspiring — in corporate form may create all sorts of additional exposure any normal President would normally be protected from

https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/12/01/m ... anization/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:48 am

Kenneth P. Vogel

Former top trump fundraiser ELLIOTT_BROIDY accepted at least $6M in laundered money to lobby the trump administration to end an investigation by The Justice Dept into the Malaysian financier JHO LOW, according to court filings submitted Friday.


In exchange for laundered $ from JHO LOW, ELLIOTT_BROIDY "agreed to try to influence a potential nominee for a federal position that would have authority over the 1MDB forfeiture matters” & also was involved in preparing talking pts for convincing trump
Image

WHY IT MATTERS: MUELLER has asked witnesses about @ELLIOTT_BROIDY, who has worked with several key figures — @MICHAELCOHEN212, RICK GATES, GEORGE NADER & TRUMP himself.
@POTUS was ID'd in Fri court filings related to Broidy as "US Government Official # 1.

Image

https://twitter.com/kenvogel/status/1068729199140032512


Trump Fund-Raiser Received Laundered Foreign Money, Prosecutors Say

Nov. 30, 2018
Elliott Broidy in 2008. He was a finance vice chairman of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign and inauguration committees.David Karp/Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the US, via Associated Press


Elliott Broidy in 2008. He was a finance vice chairman of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign and inauguration committees.David Karp/Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the US, via Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors cited the involvement of a onetime top fund-raiser to President Trump on Friday in a scheme to launder millions of dollars into the country to help a flamboyant Malaysian financier end a Justice Department investigation.

Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles-based businessman who was a finance vice chairman of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and inauguration committees, was paid to lobby the Trump administration to try to end an investigation related to the embezzlement of billions of dollars from a Malaysian state-owned fund, according to court filings made public on Friday.

The filings were released in connection with a guilty plea entered by George Higginbotham, a former Justice Department employee. Mr. Higginbotham admitted to conspiring to lie to banks about the source of tens of millions of dollars he funneled into the United States from the Malaysian financier Jho Low, who federal authorities say masterminded a scheme to loot the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad fund, also known as 1MDB.

Mr. Higginbotham, who left the Justice Department in August, was not involved in the department’s investigation of Mr. Low, and is cooperating with prosecutors.

In his guilty plea, Mr. Higginbotham admitted that he and the entertainer and businessman Pras Michel, a former member of the Fugees, a defunct hip-hop group, arranged for millions of dollars of Mr. Low’s money to be transferred to a law firm owned by Mr. Broidy’s wife to pay them to try to end the 1MDB investigation.

The charging papers and supporting documents do not identify Mr. Broidy or his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, by name, and neither has been charged with a crime. But the facts of the case align with previous reporting on Mr. Broidy’s efforts related to 1MDB, as well as emails from Mr. Broidy that were stolen from Ms. Rosenzweig’s account and disseminated to news outlets that match emails cited in Friday’s court filings. And people with knowledge of the case said that Mr. Broidy was the person identified in the filings as “Person 1” or “Individual 1,” who is described as “a nonlawyer business owner” who “owns several businesses, including an investment firm.”

In a brief interview on Friday, Mr. Broidy did not deny that the filings refer to him. But he referred specific questions to his lawyer, who did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Broidy, who pleaded guilty in 2009 in an unrelated pension fund bribery case, is one of several Trump associates whose business with foreign governments and figures has attracted scrutiny, including from investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

A veteran Republican fund-raiser who also owns a defense contracting firm, Mr. Broidy had seemed positioned to become a highly influential figure in a political hierarchy that was upended by Mr. Trump’s victory. Mr. Broidy had started raising money for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign at a time when most elite Republican donors were staying away. After Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Broidy marketed his connection to the new administration to politicians, businessmen and governments around the world, including some with unsavory records, and won big contracts for his defense firm.

The continuing case of Mr. Low and 1MDB is complex, with federal prosecutors unsealing an indictment against him and an associate in November, and extracting a guilty plea from a former Goldman Sachs banker who was involved in bribes and kickbacks related to 1MDB bond work. Mr. Broidy’s involvement, which predates Mr. Low’s indictment, underscores both Mr. Low’s efforts to navigate the United States judicial system, and the far-flung nature of Mr. Broidy’s business pursuits in the early days of the Trump administration.

In March 2017, Mr. Low’s associates were looking to retain “someone with political influence,” according to a Friday filing. Their goal was to help him deflect efforts by American authorities to seize assets bought with money he was accused of siphoning from 1MDB, and to end the Justice Department investigation into his activities, according to the filings. They indicate that, after Mr. Low expressed interest in hiring Mr. Broidy and Ms. Rosenzweig’s law firm, Mr. Michel met with Mr. Broidy and an associate “and explained Jho Low’s situation in the 1MDB matters.”

Mr. Broidy “indicated to Michel that although he was willing to assist Jho Low, he would not take any compensation directly from Jho Low in exchange for his services,” according to the filings. They indicate that Mr. Broidy “wanted $15 million in compensation, but Michel negotiated the price down to approximately $8 million.”

At least $6 million was transferred to Ms. Rosenzweig’s law firm through various accounts set up to “disguise the true source, origin and purpose of the funds, and, specifically, to conceal from U.S. financial institutions Jho Low’s ownership, control and affiliation with these funds and transactions,” according to the filings.

A draft agreement called for a $75 million “success fee” to be paid to Mr. Broidy if the investigation was resolved within 180 days, or $50 million if it was resolved within 365 days.

Mr. Broidy traveled to Thailand in May 2017 to meet with Mr. Low and Mr. Michel, and he indicated “that he would sit down with Jho Low’s legal team and figure out the best way to get to a settlement on the 1MDB matters,” according to the filings.

Mr. Michel indicated that Mr. Broidy “agreed to try to influence a potential nominee for a federal position that would have authority over the 1MDB forfeiture matters,” according to the filings, which note that the potential office holder was not nominated.

The filings also detail a memo sent in August 2017 by Mr. Broidy’s assistant to him outlining talking points intended to ease concerns about the 1MDB scandal that were apparently intended for use by Najib Razak, then the prime minister of Malaysia, during a conversation with Mr. Trump.

And the court filings indicate that Mr. Low’s allies talked with Mr. Broidy about using his “political connections to lobby United States government officials” to force the exit of a Chinese dissident from the United States.

Mr. Broidy did not register to lobby for Mr. Razak or Mr. Low, and on Friday, he said that his activities did not constitute lobbying.

He has claimed in a lawsuit that he is the victim of a cyberattack by people working for Qatar, who stole his emails in retaliation for his criticism of the country and disseminated them to the news media. Qatar has denied responsibility.

Friday’s court filings in Mr. Higginbotham’s case cite at least one email from Mr. Broidy that was disseminated to the news media. Prosecutors note that Mr. Broidy “has alleged that at least some of the stolen emails were manipulated and/or fabricated by the hackers.”

Mr. Broidy had also drawn unwanted attention because of the criminal investigation of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, which led to the revelation in April that Mr. Cohen had arranged a $1.6 million hush agreement with a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair with Mr. Broidy. That led to Mr. Broidy’s resignation as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Emily Flitter and Matthew Goldstein contributed reporting from New York.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/30/us/p ... money.html



it’s a conspiracy- it’s RICO



Perjury Chart: Trump Associates’ Lies, False, or Misleading Statements on Russia to Federal Authorities

Ryan Goodman
It is a federal offense to intentionally make false statements to Congress, the FBI, and other federal authorities. It is also a crime to encourage others to do so (that is, in technical terms, to “suborn perjury”). It is also a crime to engage in a conspiracy to lie to federal authorities. A conspiracy can involve a tacit or explicit agreement to commit the criminal activity.

Here is a summary of the 18-page Chart which is below (as a PDF document). It will be updated as new information becomes public. major updates will be announced on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Jeff Sessions
(1) probably lied to Congress about his communications with Russian government officials and (2) possibly lied to Congress about his knowledge of other campaign members’ contacts with Russian government officials (starting Jan. 2017)
2. Jared Kushner (part 1)
made material omissions on his security clearance forms (January-June 2017)
3. Michael Flynn
lied to the FBI about communications with the Russian ambassador (Jan. 24, 2017)
4. George Papadopoulos
lied to the FBI about his Russian contacts (Jan. 27, 2017)
5. K.T. McFarland
probably lied to Congress about knowledge of Flynn’s phone calls with the Russian ambassador (July 2017)
6. Michael Caputo
probably lied to Congress about his contacts with Russians (July 13, 2017)
7. Jared Kushner (part 2)
(1) probably lied to Congress about his knowledge of the reason for the June 9 Russia meeting in Trump Tower and (2) possibly made false statements about proposing a backchannel to Russia (July 24, 2017)
8. Michael Cohen
lied to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower Project (Aug. 28, 2017)
9. Donald Trump Jr.
(1) probably lied to Congress about receiving offers of assistance from other foreign governments; (2) probably lied about candidate Trump’s advance knowledge of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting; (3) made a false statement about whether any of the Russian members of the June 9 meeting requested a follow-up; (4) possibly made false statements about the Trump Tower in Moscow deal (Sept. 7, 2017)
10. Roger Stone
(1) probably lied to Congress about how and when he learned of Wikileaks’ possession of Podesta’s emails; (2) probably lied in denying advanced knowledge of any content of Wikileaks’ documents on Hillary Clinton (3) probably lied about his communications with Wikileaks; (4) probably lied about his contacts with Russians; and (5) made false and misleading statements about his communications and relationship to the campaign (Sept. 26, 2017)
11. Carter Page
probably lied to Congress about his contacts with Russian officials (Nov. 2, 2017)
12. Alex van der Zwaan
lied to the FBI about his contacts with Rick Gates and a Ukrainian national with active ties to Russian intelligence (Nov. 3, 2017)
13. Natalia Veselnitskaya
(1) probably lied to Congress about her connections to Russia’s Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and (2) probably lied about attempted follow-up to the Trump Tower meeting (Nov. 20, 2017)
14. Paul Manafort
lied to federal authorities about his ties to Kremlin-link Ukrainian political parties (starting Nov. 23, 2016, later dates include Feb. 10, 2017)
15. Rick Gates
lied to federal authorities about his ties to Kremlin-link Ukrainian political parties (starting Nov. 23, 2016, later dates include Feb. 10, 2017)
16. Erik Prince
(1) probably lied to Congress about his secret Seychelles meeting with a Russian and (2) probably lied about his relationship to the Trump campaign (Nov. 30, 2017)
17. Robert Goldstone
probably lied to Congress about his email to Donald Trump Jr. (Dec. 15, 2017)
18. Jerome Corsi
lied to the FBI about his efforts with Roger Stone to communicate with Wikileaks/Assange (Sept. 6, 2018)

The full Chart with supporting information:
https://www.justsecurity.org/61682/perj ... thorities/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:52 pm



AG Karl A. Racine

Because of today's court order, we can begin serving subpoenas to gather the evidence necessary to prove President Trump is violating the nation’s original anti-corruption laws.




Norm Eisen

BREAKING: the court has ordered discovery to begin in the Maryland & DC #emoluments case led by @BrianFrosh & @AGKarlRacine & cocounseled by @CREWcrew @deepakguptalaw & @CohenMilstein. Here we go!
Image
Image


What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

...

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed and absolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

...

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

...

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. … So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

...

expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.





What Happens If ...

Dec. 2, 2018
The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is still investigating the alleged connections between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016.J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press


The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is still investigating the alleged connections between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016.J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed and absolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

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Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

READ MORE ABOUT THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/02/opin ... ation.html



Meanwhile, over at the White House, everyone is sweating like they ate gas-station sushi an hour ago and don’t have any change left for the coin-operated bathroom stall. You can’t even make a Downfall video joke without John Kelly screaming, “Stow that crap soldier!” Cigarette burns mar every desk and carpet, the smoke blending in with the stench of panic and intern urine. In the hallway, Mike Pence barges past a meeting trying to catch a chicken. No one bothers even to ask why.


The Wars to Come

Jonah Goldberg
December 1, 2018 6:18 PM



It feels like things are coming to a head in the Trump-Mueller showdown.


Dear Reader: The quickening is upon us. What I mean is that, while few people really have any clue what is going on, many are certain that It’s About to Go Down.

And so the Great Loin-Girding has begun.

In Green Rooms, in Editorial Rooms, in Conference Rooms of every hue and shape, and even in bathrooms where stewed bowels are uncorked like a confused drunk opening the emergency exit at 35,000 feet, people are preparing for what can only be described as the Mother of All Shinola Shows, only it won’t be shinola on the main stage. Reporters are rereading ten-year-old New Yorker profiles of bit players just so they can be ready to drop an obscure reference about a Russian oligarch. A striver at Breitbart is researching Robert Mueller’s family tree going back to the Duchy of Pomeria. Behind the scenes at Fox & Friends, things are more somber: There are a lot of prayer circles and quiet moments of solitude, as various hosts and producers stare out the window onto Sixth Avenue and ask themselves if they are ready for what is to come.

Over at Morning Joe, the preparations are more animated, as they contemplate the prospect of entering Cable-News Valhalla.

On the Hill, House Democrats, flush with the stench of midterm victory in their nostrils, are storming the vacated bunkers of the former majority, like Vikings sweeping into an unprotected English village or the caddies into the Bushwood pool on Caddy Day. The walls are being covered with photos of Trump and his associates, each held up by a pushpin and tied by red string to another pushpin holding up another photo and another, until a batwing-shaped web connects Trump to Vladimir Putin, the Saudi crown prince, Roy Cohn, and, thanks to Senator Cruz, both the Zodiac Killer and the real culprits in the Kennedy assassination.

Over on the Senate side, Chuck Schumer walks into a conference room and spots a fresh-out-of-Harvard self-styled freedom fighter, hunched over next to an oil-drum fire, sharpening pencils with the blade of a pair of child-safety scissors.

“All that hate’s gonna burn you up kid,” Schumer says.

“It keeps me warm,” replies the former senior-class president, as he throws an 8-by-10 glossy of Roger Stone into the fire.

Meanwhile, Republicans across the Hill are grabbing everything they can to bunker-in and target-harden. Book cases full of the proceedings of the Senate? Slide those mofos in front of the doors! Studies showing the scope of the fiscal crisis ahead of us? We may need that for toilet paper. Hapless tourists from Osh Kosh or Eugene visiting the rotunda are knocked over and shoved aside, their selfie-sticks clanging on the cold marble, their Smithsonian shopping bags full of astronaut ice cream and miniature Washington Monuments sent flying, as young Republicans roll giant water-cooler bottles down the hallway to prepare for the siege. “Sorry, ma’am, I don’t think you want to be here,” one of the more polite kids from Orrin Hatch’s office yells as they barrel past. “This is going to be bad.”

For reasons no one knows, but everyone understands, an old lady is standing outside the gallery shouting, “Flores! Flores para los muertos!”

Meanwhile, over at the White House, everyone is sweating like they ate gas-station sushi an hour ago and don’t have any change left for the coin-operated bathroom stall. You can’t even make a Downfall video joke without John Kelly screaming, “Stow that crap soldier!” Cigarette burns mar every desk and carpet, the smoke blending in with the stench of panic and intern urine. In the hallway, Mike Pence barges past a meeting trying to catch a chicken. No one bothers even to ask why.

Stephen Miller hasn’t been seen for days, but staffers hear the familiar rapid-fire sound — whock-whock-whock-OW! — emanating from his office as he plays Mumblety-peg with the pointy-end of a Statue of Liberty paperweight.

And then there’s the Oval Office, where the president keeps re-watching DVR’d episodes of Lou Dobbs, pausing every 15 seconds to growl at Rudy Giuliani: “See! Lou gets it! Why can’t you say something like that!? I should make him attorney general.”

Rudy’s constant, uncontrolled, and unprovoked laugher, punctuated by broad flashes of his new teeth, is as disorienting as it is hypnotic. “It’s all going great!” Rudy says with an enormous smile, tears streaming down his face.

“It’s all fine . . . this is fine.”

Two and Half Cheers for the Sidelines

Okay, I exaggerate — a little.

But the truth is that it really does feel like things are coming to a head.

I have no idea what Mueller will reveal, and I have no idea what Trump will do in response. But I am sure that we’re going to hear a lot of “Whose Side Are You On?” once Mueller walks to the cameras in his Grim Reaper’s cloak and swings his scythe.

For me, the answer is simple: I’m on nobody’s side. I don’t have a dog in this fight. To mix metaphors like a special blender for metaphors, I’m going to play the ball, not the man — or men. What I mean by that is that if the truth or facts or evidence is on Trump’s side, I’ll defend that. If it’s not on his side, I won’t be either.

That’s not going to be true for a lot of people who, for one reason or another, have invested way too much in Donald Trump and in the idea that he deserves their loyalty. That ain’t me.

I’ve spent the last couple years perhaps a bit too vexed by some of those people. I’ve finally figured out a way to make peace, in my own mind, with at least some of their behavior.

In print and in podcast, I’ve been talking a lot about how the two parties are shells of what they once were and how outside groups and institutions have filled the voids left behind by their shrinkage. The parties used to choose candidates and issues. Parties educated voters. Over the last 50 years, that function has essentially been outsourced to interest groups, media outlets, think tanks, etc. As a result, the dividers between different lanes shrunk or vanished. Writers and intellectuals on the left and the right became de facto political consultants and party activists. Many political consultants acted like public intellectuals or pundits. Intellectuals became entertainers and entertainers pretended to be intellectuals. Politicians quit their jobs to be TV talking heads, and TV talking heads run for office.

I look back on the last two decades, and, in hindsight, it’s easy for me to see all of it now, not just in others but in myself. Back in 2016, I didn’t understand how so many people, who had basically the same job description as I did, could reach such wildly different conclusions. Now, I feel like I understand it better. In this business, people like me wear a lot of different hats, figuratively speaking. Among the hats we wear: journalist, writer, author, TV pundit, intellectual, partisan, etc. In those roles, one can sometimes be a critic or a cheerleader for a party or a politician or a policy.

The point is that most of the time, it’s pretty easy to switch out one hat for another without feeling conflicted. Making the Republican case and the conservative case often seems — or seemed — like the same thing. In hindsight, I think I was too much of a partisan during the Iraq War, but it didn’t feel like I was being partisan at the time. I just thought the party and the president deserved defending from their critics on the left.

You Can Leave Your Hat On

Lots of people have argued that the rise of Donald Trump was a stress test for various institutions, and I think that’s right. But whereas I once thought a lot of people failed the test, I see it a little differently now.

The rise of Trumpism demanded that everybody decide which hat they were going to wear. Or to put it a little differently, they had to decide which hats were they willing to take off when push came to shove. For some people, the party hat (I don’t mean the type that kids wear at birthday parties) was the one hat that they wouldn’t take off. For others, it wasn’t so much a GOP thing as it was a populist thing. They hated the “establishment” — especially the Republican establishment — and because “Donald Trump” popped into someone’s head when Gozer demanded, “Choose the Form of the Destructor,” they went with him even though many might have preferred a different vessel. For many religious and social conservatives, they had to discard the Public Scold Hat (or at least the Credible and Morally Consistent Public Scold Hat). When you believe all of that “It’s War” crap, the only hat you’re supposed to wear is a helmet. And a lot of people, strapped one on for the cause.

For others, including self-described “Never Trumpers,” they — we — chose to discard the party hat and the populist hat. I don’t know the right label for the one I’m stuck with, in part because they all sound pretentious: intellectual, journalist, conservative, whatever.

I don’t know if thinking about it this way is helpful for anybody but me, but I find it clarifying and a bit reassuring. We all have lots of different roles or identities in us, and when a test comes, some people will choose one identity over another. I’m not going to lie, some people have disgusted me in how they’ve made “Trump-loyalist” their primary identity, jettisoning principles, reputation, and rationality in order to nimbly defend the guy. But a lot of people haven’t done that. They’ve simply tried to make the best out of a difficult situation.

There’s a reason why the Kavanaugh spectacle was the only time the broader American Right has unified during Trump’s presidency; it was because Donald Trump wasn’t the issue, even if he at times tried to make it about him. It was the one-time moment when all of the hats could converge or overlap each other.

There are those on the right who very much want the coming donnybrook to be like that again. It’s possible it will. It’s possible the Democrats will overreach or that Mueller will live down to the slanders grifters on the right have concocted about him. But I doubt it will happen. This will be about Trump. And while impeachment may not be warranted, he will not look good in this fight, because his true nature — and the nature of the creatures he surrounds himself with — will once again be exposed.

I’m not going to the mattresses in any of this, because I see no reason to give the president — or many of his most rabid opponents — the benefit of the doubt, never mind loyalty. The only major player here who deserves the benefit of the doubt right now is Robert Mueller. Because while we may learn that he made mistakes or overstepped, as of now, the one thing I know he cares about is the facts. About his slander-spewing right-wing critics — and to some extent his left-wing sanctifiers — I know no such thing.

https://www.nationalreview.com/g-file/the-wars-to-come/




Here’s why Trump’s proposed Moscow project is even dirtier than it looks
Bob Cesca, Salon BOB CESCA, SALON - COMMENTARY
03 DEC 2018 AT 15:02 ET



Weirdly, it kind of makes sense that Donald Trump’s supporters on Fox News and elsewhere are brushing off last week’s revelations about the Trump Tower Moscow deal as a “nothingburger.”This article was originally published at SalonThis knee-jerk reaction makes sense because Trump loyalists clearly haven’t been following the ongoing reporting on this story, even though Rupert Murdoch’s own paper, the Wall Street Journal, has been one of many top-shelf publications covering the Trump-Russia saga in granular detail. Simply put: The Red Hats are just now catching up to speed with a story that’s been years in the making. So perhaps their nothingburger meme is just a reflection of being slow on the uptake.

OK, that’s admittedly a generous analysis of what we’re hearing from Trump’s loyalists, especially after it became clear that Trump and his company were engaged in a colossal real estate deal to build what literally would’ve been the tallest building in Russia, with Vladimir Putin as a principal, and that this was negotiated during the same period of time when Putin was engaged in a pervasive military intelligence cyberattack against the United States, with the explicit intention of helping Trump become president.


The most realistic analysis is that Trumpers are being deliberately ignorant about a vast series of crimes with our current president at the center of a nefarious confederacy that could easily be defined as the Trump crime family. This is absolutely a something burger, stacked high with all the fixin’s — and we haven’t really seen the lion’s share of the details yet.

Trump supporters have been belittling the news as just another real estate deal by a real estate mogul: Nothing to see here, they say. This would be not unlike calling the U.S. Civil War just another case of “regional tensions.” They fail to grasp that the president repeatedly lied about his ties to Russia, and that he was doing so because he was obviously trying to keep this deal from being revealed to his Republican voters during the Republican primary season in 2015 and 2016.

Even a cursory glance at the record of denials shows that Trump and his surrogates vehemently rebuffed any and all suggestions about business with Russia, as well as earlier reports about Trump Tower Moscow — now known as the “Moscow Project” — before it was finally tossed to the back burner in June of 2016 (as far as we know). Anyone existing in the real world can see how the deal and its secrecy, then and now, exposed Trump to potential blackmail by the Russian government, which itself faced a series of economically crippling sanctions by the U.S. and our allies. Consequently, Trump was and is beholden to Putin, with the Moscow Project as at least one of the Russian anvils dangling over the president’s head. And we still don’t know whether the Moscow Project is set to be reanimated after Trump finally leaves office. It could be that Trump is carrying a torch for the project until all this blows over.

But it wasn’t just the overall hush-hush nature of the Moscow Project that poses such a threat to American national security. The true smoking gun at the center of the Trump Tower Moscow prong of the Russia story happens to be a Russian bank known as VTB. Those who haven’t been following the day-to-day developments (hello, Red Hats) might not know that 60 percent of VTB is controlled by the Kremlin.

It turns out that one of Trump’s many shady operatives and hangers-on, Felix Sater, a Russian-born New Yorker with an office in Trump Tower, arranged financing for the Moscow Project. The money was to be put up by VTB, and Trump himself signed a letter of intent to build the skyscraper, complete with a spa facility for Ivanka Trump’s brand and a $50 million penthouse for Putin (priorities, priorities).

VTB’s financing appears to have been locked in around October 2015, while Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, was busily deploying its attack against the Democrats and the forthcoming American elections.

What the nothingburger crowd won’t say out loud is that VTB has been subject to American sanctions since July 2014, after Putin invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea in the wake of the Sochi Olympics. Simply put, it’s illegal for any Americans or American corporations, including the Trump Organization, to do business with VTB and other entities under sanction. Trump, Cohen and Sater did it anyway.

No wonder Trump and his people wanted to keep the deal secret. Sanctions were potentially violated, and Putin appears to have been bribed with a $50 million apartment. If that’s a nothingburger, I’d hate to see what an actual burger looks like.

This whole arrangement is amplified by the fact that Trump inexplicably admitted last week that the Moscow Project was a real thing, while also not denying any of the related details. To repeat: Trump confessed to the existence of the deal. The Moscow Project, therefore, isn’t “fake news.” The president has confirmed it.

By way of context, couple Trump’s remarkable confession with the rest of Trump’s links to Russia including financing for various Trump projects; campaign personnel links to Putin and other Russia oligarchs — specifically, convicted hired goons like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn; alleged links between Russian cash and the Trump Soho property; Trump’s direct link to oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, who purchased a moldy Trump property in Palm Beach at a significant markup; and so on — all of which render Trump’s repeated denials intensely laughable. We can expect to hear many more details from Robert Mueller once all this reaches a public conclusion.

Trump is publicly altering American foreign policy toward Russia in order to suit his own financial best interests. But it could be far worse than that. Trump could also be ensnared by Russian kompromat, forcing him to enact policies favorable to Putin and Putin alone (the lifting of sanctions and the penalties in the Magnitsky Act, primarily). Anyone beating the nothingburger meme to death right now isn’t seeing the harrowing big picture — the criminal and national security ramifications of Trump’s ill-advised alliance with a nation whose government is run by thugs, assassins and thieves. If you’re still unconvinced, go ahead and replace every instance of “Trump” in this article with “Obama” and then tell us again how it’s all a big nothing burger.
https://www.rawstory.com/2018/12/heres- ... tA.twitter



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foaOuEu32eo




Mueller is filing his Flynn sentencing memo tomorrow Flynn’s Trump-related crimes
Mueller is filing his Michael Cohen sentencing memo on Friday
we’re just four days from Manafort’s Trump-related crimes and lies becoming public knowledge
:)



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